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This should go a long way to ending modern day human slavery to mine cobalt in the Congo region.

As most people don't know, and, indeed it is a subject about which most people don't want to know, and a subject about which they couldn't care less, most "lithium" batteries contain cobalt in their anodes. Cobalt is a "conflict metal," whether or not electronics companies have saturated the internet with claims that each of them mine it "responsibly."

Cobalt is monoisotopic. There is very little about it that makes it possible to define its source, and most of the "responsible sourcing" bullshit is just that, bullshit.

A great deal of effort has gone into removing cobalt from lithium batteries, for marketing reasons, with the result that most lithium batteries still contain cobalt. As of now, nothing works as well, not that people have stopped trying to do away with it, because it makes bleeding hearts like me want to cry.

I just came across this paper: Recent Advances in Titanium Niobium Oxide Anodes for High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries (Tao Yuan, Luke Soule, Bote Zhao, Jie Zou, Junhe Yang, Meilin Liu, and Shiyou Zheng Energy & Fuels 2020 34 (11), 13321-13334.)

Tantalum is yet another conflict metal, essential to making cell phones and similar devices.

Niobium (also monoisotopic) is tantalum's congener, and tantalum is an impurity in niobium ores.


Graham Chapman's Eulogy by John Cleese

Joe Biden's COVID Plan Is Taking Shape and Researchers Approve.

This is a news item in the current issue of the major scientific journal Nature: Joe Biden’s COVID plan is taking shape — and researchers approve The US president-elect has already announced a coronavirus advisory board and an updated strategy that researchers say follows the science. (Nidhi Subbaraman, Nature 587, 339-340 (2020))

It's probably open sourced, but here's excerpts:

Just two days after being declared victors in the US election, future president Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris announced a COVID-19 advisory board stacked with infectious-disease researchers and former public-health advisers who will help them to craft a pandemic plan as they transition into office.

The speed of the announcement, alongside an updated COVID-19 plan, has scientists and doctors hopeful that the United States can correct its course in its handling of the outbreak: so far, 10 million Americans have been infected and more than 240,000 have died. And the numbers continue to rise.

“I really think they put together an outstanding and stellar team to advise the new administration on what is clearly one of their highest priorities,” says Helene Gayle, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Community Trust and co-chair of a US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that recommended a coronavirus vaccine allocation plan for the country.

Eric Goosby, an infectious-diseases researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who led past White House AIDS responses, and Vivek Murthy, a doctor who served as US surgeon general between 2014 and 2017, are among the 13 advisory board members who will brief the future leaders. Observers say the board members are an experienced and impressive team...

...The immediate naming of the board is a stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s efforts to contain the pandemic. He has been criticized for ignoring the advice of public-health specialists and downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, worsening the pandemic’s toll on the country.

But if Biden and Harris follow the science, communicate honestly and openly and have an organized response, it would be “three big resets” from Trump’s administration, says Tom Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as director from 2009 to 2017...

...Among the Biden–Harris team’s top priorities is a strong COVID testing and contact-tracing strategy...

I, and I'm sure that most Americans - the clear majority in fact, to have competent leadership after four years of buffoonery that no one would have ever even imagined 8 years ago.

I feel like I'm about to awaken from a horrible nightmare.

Climate and Health Effects of Conventional and Rotational Crop Practices in Iowa.

(Note: This post, and many of my earlier posts in this space, contains some graphics which may not be accessible to Chrome users because of a recent upgrade to that browser, but should work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge. When my son has time, he will adjust the file system for a website he's building for me to make these graphics usable in Chrome, but he seldom has that much time on his hands. Interested parties, should they exist, can still read my posts including the graphics, but regrettably must use a browser other than Chrome. Apologies - NNadir)

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Fossil Energy Use, Climate Change Impacts, and Air Quality-Related Human Health Damages of Conventional and Diversified Cropping Systems in Iowa, USA (Natalie D. Hunt,* Matt Liebman, Sumil K. Thakrar, and Jason D. Hill, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 18, 11002–11014)

From 2002 until 2014, the Editor of Environ. Sci. Technol. was Jerald L. Schnoor, a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University. I have long been a dedicated reader of this journal for decades, and became highly disciplined about how I read it about 12 years ago. Shortly after turning his editorial responsibilities at the journal, Dr. Schnoor came to speak at Princeton University, and as someone who appreciated his efforts at the journal, I made a point of attending the lecture. I don't recall the details of his talk all that well - he is an expert on water use - but I do remember his remark on how appreciative he is that he has tenure, since his research on water use was not in general consistent with unabashed praise for the corn industry.

Many years ago, when I was writing over in the E&E forum on this website, there was a person there who used to write all the time about how wonderful corn ethanol was as an automotive fuel. Ethanol, which was one of the first of the "renewable energy" schemes to become widely embraced, was a Carter era program for addressing the oil shocks of the 1970's. This scheme, which is still in force today, and is probably the most prominent Carter era policies to have survived since his Presidency, led to the destruction of the Mississippi Delta ecosystem, a point, if I recall correctly, Dr. Schnoor addressed in his lecture at Princeton.

Jimmy Carter is clearly a wonderful human being, and interestingly, is the only US President to have participated in a nuclear accident clean up, one of the Chalk River Nuclear Accidents, in the 1950's. As President, much to the chagrin of the Secret Service, he toured the Three Mile Island Reactor after it melted down during his administration.

He is, famously, still alive, well into his 90's. All of his younger siblings are dead, all three of them having succumbed to pancreatic cancer, two in their 50's, one in her 70's. Former President Carter is, again, still quite alive and still doing wonderful things, like planting trees on his farm, one of which was cut down recently and rendered into a very beautiful guitar. The guitar represents carbon that has been removed from the atmosphere and sequestered. A few hundred billion guitars like that and we can sequester as much carbon as we will release this year even as we live in the so called "Renewable Energy Era."

Jimmy Carter's energy policies as President were basically anti-nuclear and favored so called "Renewable Energy." I voted for Jimmy Carter for President twice, and I certainly don't regret doing so. This said I consider his decision to forego nuclear fuel reprocessing and thus offer up a Christian "moral example" for the world, to have been a tragedy, perhaps mitigated that nuclear fuel reprocessing technology in his time as President was a relatively primitive, and relied on the silly use of nuclear "waste" dumps.

Jimmy Carter's energy policies are often praised on the left, but even as I am clearly a leftist in most ways, I consider his energy policies to have been terrible.

The idea of constructing so called "Nuclear waste" dumps is still, inexplicably, popularly represented as a "solution" to the "problem" of the "waste" problem, which I find amazing, since there are zero components of used nuclear fuels that are not potentially useful, some of which are incredibly useful and surely represent materials that can solve environmental problems that are otherwise intractable. It is, I think, therefore a good thing that such dumps were never constructed, and if Jimmy Carter's policies slowed the process of building them down, this is an unintended positive result. The usefulness of used nuclear fuels includes addressing environmental problems other than climate change, notably persistent chemical pollutants, although the only tool capable of addressing the vastly larger scale problem of climate change is, whether it is generally recognized or not, nuclear energy.

The ever popular so called "renewable energy" did not work to address climate change; it is not working to do so; and it will not work to do so. The reason is connected with the physics of energy, specifically the energy to mass ratio and the thermodynamic (and thus environmental) and economic superiority of continuous and predictable processes.

The laws of physics are not subject to reversal by political positions, including those driven by wishful thinking.

Since the Carter administration, the more or less general policy of the Democratic Party - my party, for which I vote 100% of the time - has been consistent with Carter policies and inconsistent with policies with the potential to save a dying planet. We once produced the most anti-nuclear candidate for President ever to run for the office, Michael Dukakis. Although my own views in the 1970's were more or less entirely consistent with Carter policies, by the late 1980's I had changed my mind, and I had to do one of those "hold my nose" things in voting for Michael Dukakis for President, but I voted for him anyway.

Not all of our Democratic Party's nuclear policies have been terrible. In the 1990's Vice President Al Gore negotiated an agreement with the pre-Putin Russians to purchase highly enriched uranium removed from Russian nuclear weapons, which was blended down with depleted uranium and consumed in nuclear reactors, saving hundreds of thousands of lives that would have otherwise have been lost to air pollution, as well as reducing, albeit moderately, the threat of nuclear war. I greatly approved of this "Sword to Ploughshares" policy, although regrettably, it did not address what I regard as the critical element in any effort to minimize the worst of climate change, plutonium. While I regretted the Clinton Administration's cancellation of the IFR, it occurs to me now that many superior breeder technologies have evolved since then, notably the advanced "breed and burn" concepts represented by many advanced designs. (I don't like liquid sodium cooled reactors, although I am very fond of other types of liquid metal reactors.)

The problem with nuclear energy - besides the very stupid selective attention of journalists from the New York Times on down - is probably connected with scaling up too quickly. (The great energy thinker Vaclav Smil as made this point.) Even so, the rapidly scaled and engineered reactors based on 1950's and 1960's technology - produced in a Golden Age of American science and engineering - did a remarkable job of producing energy with extremely low environmental and health costs in comparison to all other technologies. Nevertheless the restraint placed on nuclear technology has not entirely been a loss although tremendous damage has been done. We might have done much better, but we can recover. It is technically feasible, I think, to seriously address climate change, and - while considerably more difficult - even to reverse it to a limited extent. This would involve, however, waking up. There has never been a better time than 2020 to do just that, to wake up.

Anyway...about the paper...and about corn...

The corn ethanol debacle was the first indication to me that so called "renewable energy" was not all it was cracked up to be, that a law of unintended consequences might apply.

From the introduction to the paper:

The intensification of modern conventional agriculture has been effective at increasing crop yields, yet it has come at great cost to the environment and human health from fossil energy consumption and generation of emissions that contribute to climate change and reduced air quality. In 2014, United States agriculture comprised 1.7% of US primary energy consumption and in 2017, comprised 8.4% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,(1,2) driven by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from soil carbon loss and fossil fuel use, nitrous oxide (N2O) from nitrogenous fertilizer use, and methane (CH4) from ruminant livestock production.(3) Increased concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere cost society via harm to human health, property damage due to floods, and losses in agricultural productivity.(4)

Agriculture is also a major contributor to atmospheric fine particulate matter (PM2.5) via the production and application of farming inputs and field operations.(5) PM2.5, which adversely affects air quality and human health, is either emitted directly as a product of combustion or as dust (primary PM2.5), or forms in the atmosphere (secondary PM2.5) from reactions among ammonia (NH3), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOC).(6,7) Due to its small size, PM2.5 can enter the lungs and bloodstream, leading to health effects that include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory illness, ischemic heart disease, and lung cancer.(8) Chronic exposure to PM2.5 generates societal costs via increased risk of premature death.(8,9) In the US, emissions of agricultural NH3 are the dominant driver of PM2.5-emissions related damages, which derive largely from fertilizer application and storage and application of manure. Emissions of PM2.5 also result from diesel fuel production, herbicide production, dust from field operations, and fossil fuel combustion by farm machinery.(5,7,8,10,11) Recent research has shown, for example, that PM2.5 from maize production in the US is responsible for 4300 premature deaths annually.(5)

Overall, increasing energy and resource efficiency while reducing environmental impacts is an important goal for improving the sustainability of agricultural systems. Because agricultural systems are vulnerable to energy price fluctuations, reducing reliance on fossil energy can reduce farm financial volatility and increase profitability, while decreasing fossil energy-related environmental damages. Additional strategies to mitigate GHG emissions from cropping systems include improving fertilizer and manure management, maintaining below- and above-ground soil carbon, and reducing reliance on synthetic inputs.(12) Methods for reducing PM2.5-related emissions and resulting human health impacts include substitution of high NH3-emitting fertilizers with lower ones, using precision agricultural techniques, and selecting crops requiring less nitrogen fertilizer.(5,10,13)

Strategies for simultaneously reducing multiple environmental impacts are especially of interest. Among these is the diversification of conventional corn-soybean cropping systems, which has been shown to deliver several agronomic and environmental benefits, including increased per-hectare corn and soybean productivity, greater resilience to weed and pest infestations, and reduced dependence on synthetic herbicides.(14−17) Diversified cropping systems can also have reduced rates of soil erosion and nutrient discharge to the environment,(15) lower freshwater toxicity loads(14) and enhanced soil functioning.(18−21) The fossil energy use, climate change, and air quality implications of such strategies have not been widely explored.

This study examines the cradle to farm-gate fossil energy consumption, and climate change and air quality damages of three cropping systems differing in levels of crop diversity...

The authors conducted their research at the Iowa State University's Marsden Farm in Boone County, IA, and as it involved modification of crop procedures with each modification requiring a year's growth season, the experiment has been on going since 2002, eighteen years. The author's utilized a two, three and four crop rotation scheme. The two year corn/soybean cycle with Haber (industrial synthetic) fixed nitrogen in the form of ammonium nitrate (which, unlike plutonium, has been involved in diversion for terrorist purposes leading to large losses of life) and urea. This nitrogen is largely obtained using chemistry driven by either dangerous natural gas or dangerous coal. The three year crop rotation scheme involved corn-oat/soybean/red clover rotations. The four year rotation scheme was a corn-oat/soybean/alfalfa/alfalfa system.

Two herbicide application schemes were explored, the conventional (CONV in the graphics below) and Low (LOW in the graphics below) approaches.

The system boundaries are shown in the following figure:

The caption:

Figure 1. Flowchart of system boundaries, system outputs, and impacts.

The tracking of particulate matter (PM), and emissions of greenhouse gases (including nitrous oxide and methane), and the consumption of dangerous fossil fuels were all followed by using the GREET (The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation) tool for life cycle analysis. Tractors were propelled by diesel engines.

Additional work included a consideration of dust as a generator of particulate matter. The particulate matter is the chief culprit, apparently, in the 4300 deaths occurring each year from farm related air pollution, a surprisingly large number, albeit much smaller than the six to seven million deaths reported to occur each year from combustion of dangerous fossil fossil fuels and "renewable" biomass. The death toll associated with the release of radioactive materials by the much, in fact, endlessly discussed, destroyed reactors at Fukushima is vanishingly small when compared to these two figures.

Phosphorous - although depletion of its ores is a very, very, very serious matter for future generations - and potassium were not considered in this study.

Ammonia is not tracked in the GREET system and was tracked using a different approach. (The release of ammonia is one of the prime drivers, along with phosphorous, of the destruction of the Mississippi River Delta ecosystem.)

On the subject of economic damages the authors write:

Damages from emissions of GHG were monetized using the social cost of carbon (SCC), which considers damages to human health, property due to flood risk changes, and impacts to agricultural productivity as a result of climate change.(4) In this study, we applied a SCC of $43 Mg–1 of CO2e emissions (2017 dollars, with 3% discount rate).(4) Human health damages as a result of chronic exposure to primary and secondary PM2.5 were monetized using the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mortality risk valuation or value of statistical life (VSL). VSL assigns monetary value to an individual’s avoided risk of mortality due to exposure to environmental pollution, so as to facilitate the comparison and aggregation of overall social costs.(9,46−48) Here, we used a VSL estimate of $9.1 M per life (2017 dollars, with 3% discount rate) and multiplied it by the number of premature deaths per gram of air pollutant emitted.(49)

It sounds a little cold-blooded to me, but $9.1M per life seems reasonable, particularly because lives lost by pollution generally involve rather expensive medical treatments on the way out the door, which matter, although not quite as much as the economic productivity lost when the investment in a life results in a shorter productive span. Again, it's cold-blooded, but reasonable all the same.

Some graphical results:

The caption:

Figure 2. Mean annual fossil energy consumption (a) as affected by contrasting rotation systems and herbicide regimes across system components of diesel, seed, N fertilizer, and herbicide production, field operations, and grain drying and (b) as normalized by annual harvested dry commercial crop yields, including corn, soybean, oat grain and straw, and alfalfa. Error bars indicate one standard error of the annual mean annual total energy consumption.

The caption:

Figure 3. Mean annual GHG emissions (a) as affected by contrasting rotation systems and herbicide regimes across system components of diesel, N fertilizer, and herbicide production, field operations, N application, and grain drying and (b) as expressed in GHG emission species. Error bars indicate one standard error of the annual mean total emissions.

The caption:

Figure 4. Mean annual emissions of (a) primary PM2.5 and secondary PM2.5 precursors of (b) NH3, (c) NOx, (d) SOx, and (e) VOC by rotation system and herbicide regime across system components of diesel, N fertilizer production, herbicide production, fugitive dust, field operations, N application, and grain drying. Error bars indicate one standard error of the annual mean total emissions. The legend provided in panel b describes all panels.

The caption:

Figure 5. Mean annual damages from GHG emissions (a) as affected by contrasting rotation systems and herbicide regimes across system components of diesel, N fertilizer, and herbicide production, fugitive dust, field operations, N application, and grain drying and (b) as expressed in GHG species. Error bars indicate one standard error of the annual mean total economic damages.

The caption:

Figure 6. Mean annual economic damages from PM2.5-related emissions (a) as affected by contrasting rotation systems and herbicide regimes across system components of diesel, N fertilizer, and herbicide production, field operations, N application, fugitive dust, and grain drying and (b) as expressed in emissions species. Error bars indicate one standard error of the annual mean total economic damages.

The caption:

Figure 7. Mean annual combined economic damages from GHG and PM2.5-related emissions (a) as affected by contrasting rotation systems and herbicide regimes across system components of diesel, N fertilizer, and herbicide production, field operations, N application, fugitive dust, and grain drying and (b) as expressed by type of economic damage. Error bars indicate one standard error of annual mean total economic damages.

Tables from the paper:

Some remarks from the discussion/conclusion:

...The potential for scaling up such diversified cropping systems could have significant impacts on existing markets, including potential shifts in supply and demand for corn and soybean amidst newly introduced small grain and forage crops. Large-scale shifts to more small grains and forages could constrain domestic corn production, resulting in increased corn prices whereby farmers become incentivized to revert to growing previous corn-soybean rotations. Concurrently, potential expanded production of small grains and forages could result in reduced prices, again, incentivizing farmers to revert back to growing corn and soybean. Nonetheless, economic analyses of such scenarios found that scaling up diversified systems to 20–40% of arable cropland in Iowa (2–4 million ha) could occur without generating price incentives favoring existing corn and soybean rotations.(22)

Here, we estimated changes in the damages associated with GHG and PM2.5-related emissions as a result of implementing diversified cropping systems and an alternative herbicide regime. More diverse cropping systems that include recycled manure and biological nitrogen fixation by forage legumes, such as the 3- and 4-year rotation systems studied here, may not only require less fossil energy but also generate less GHG and PM2.5-related emissions, while maintaining primary agronomic functions. This will be a priority in agriculture in the face of a changing climate and a growing and increasingly affluent global population. Incorporation of a diverse suite of practices and inputs will aid in maintaining systems that are weed-suppressive, productive, profitable, and protective of environmental quality and human health. As shown in the present study, increased reliance on ecological processes and thereby reduced reliance on synthetic inputs can maintain agronomic functions and decrease environmental damage.

I am a critic of biofuels as practiced now, which rely essentially on batch process water and energy intensive fermentation/distillation schemes. This said, agriculture, an essential human activity for meeting human development goals (which I believe to be potentially coterminous with environmental goals in a nuclear powered world), does represent a path for the removal of carbon dioxide from the air. Much has been made of corn stover and other chaff as a potential carbon source, regrettably again in an enzymatic fermentation setting. Another alternative however is reforming using high temperature supercritical water or - in so called "dry reforming" - supercritical high temperature carbon dioxide as an oxidant. Both cases give access to hydrogen carbon oxide mixtures known as "syn gas," and thus to sustainable fuels for tractors and other requisite mobile systems. It is well understood that diesel engines, in particular, are amenable to running on the wonder fuel dimethyl ether, for which many routes from syn gas. Dimethyl ether has an atmospheric lifetime of about 5 days, and thus cannot be considered a greenhouse gas, in contrast to methane, ethane, propane and butane. Syn gas can basically be utilized to replace all applications for dangerous petroleum (including utilization in the chemical industry) and all applications for dangerous natural gas. In fact, carbon monoxide, via the Boudouard Equilibrium, can realize combustion in reverse, one can make carbon from carbon monoxide, and carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide.

All that is required is heat, which is readily available from nuclear sources.

I trust you are safe and well, and that you will be able to enjoy the upcoming holiday in a safe and yet enjoyable way.

A Whiter Shade Of Pale

Fukushima Related Radiation Risks to Olympians at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

(Note: This post, and many of my earlier posts in this space, contains some graphics which may not be accessible to Chrome users because of a recent upgrade to that browser, but should work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge. When my son has time, he will adjust the file system for a website he's building for me to make these graphics usable in Chrome, but he seldom has that much time on his hands. Interested parties, should they exist, can still read my posts including the graphics, but regrettably must use a browser other than Chrome. Apologies - NNadir)

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Radioactive Games? Radiation Hazard Assessment of the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games (Rebecca Querfeld, Mayumi Hori, Anica Weller, Detlev Degering, Katsumi Shozugawa,*and Georg Steinhauser,* Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 18, 11414–11423). I've been meaning to get around posting some commentary on this paper for several months, but never did so until now.

The authors of this paper are from German and Japanese Institutions.

Germany has, um, "interesting" energy policies, widely applauded in some circles, none of which I am personally a member. Perish the thought. Here's the German Energy Policy: Nuclear Energy is "dangerous." Nuclear Energy is more dangerous than forms of energy which kill 7 million people per year in the form of air pollution. It is more dangerous than loading the atmosphere with so much of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide that the coasts of major continents burn huge stretches of their ecosystems in vast uncontrollable fires. It is more dangerous, than tens of thousands people dying annually because the ambient temperatures exceed 42°C, the approximate temperature at which sweating stops and body temperature can skyrocket, sometimes even rising above 44°C so that "the brain falters; confusion, agitation, slurred speech, even coma can result." (Pennisi, Living with heat (Science, Vol. 370, Issue 6518, pp. 778-781 (2020)). Nuclear power, according to German Energy policy is more dangerous than most of the world's coral reefs dying from heat stress and acidification, more dangerous than the outgassing of methane and carbon dioxide ice clathrates in melting permafrost, more dangerous than seawater intruding into the ground water of coastal cities, more dangerous than more frequent and more intense hurricanes.

Go figure.

As is well known in many circles, the worst energy disaster of all time includes none of the stuff just listed above as being less dangerous than nuclear energy above. It was, if you believe in the importance of attention paid, Fukushima. Fukushima was an event where 20,000 people died from living in a coastal city inundated by seawater after a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake induced a tsunami, from things like drowning, buildings collapsing and related phenomenon, such as being smashed against walls by massive water flows. Much worse than all these deaths however, according to popular opinion - since those 20,000 deaths don't actually matter in the minds of our media - was that some people were exposed to (gasp) radiation, when three nuclear reactors melted down after their diesel emergency cooling pumps were inundated by, um, seawater.

People drowning in seawater, tens of thousands of them, are not as interesting as people being exposed to radiation.

Now, apparently, our media is very concerned that there may be a radiation risk to athletes traveling to Japan for the 2020 Olympics which will not take place in 2020, apparently, but will take place in 2021, maybe.

The authors of this paper decided to do something called "measurements" to evaluate risk to athletes who might travel to Japan for the Olympics that have been delayed because of the risk of a disease, Covid-19.

From the text of the paper:

The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on major 2020 sports events, including the Olympic Games, which will be hosted in and around Tokyo, Japan. In a joint decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Prime Minister of Japan, it was decided on March 23, 2020, that the 2020 Summer Olympics will be postponed to “not later than summer 2021,” presumably from July 23 to August 8, 2021.(1) The Summer Olympics (for consistency with its branded name, we continue calling them “Tokyo 2020” hereafter; their official name is Games of the XXXII Olympiad) will hold a total of 339 sport competitions in 33 sports and 51 disciplines, 28 of which take place at venues that are located within a radius of 8 km around the Olympic Village in Tokyo. In addition to Tokyo prefecture, where most competitions take place, there will also be Olympic venues in the prefectures of Hokkaido, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka (Figure 1).(2) Despite the (temporary) impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Olympic Games, a second (and lasting) shadow has been on Tokyo 2020 for other reasons: For many, the 2013 decision of the IOC to award the 2020 Summer Olympics to Tokyo, Japan, was overshadowed by memories of the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP). Recent media reports insistently questioned the safety of the venue for athletes and spectators due to the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident.(3−6)...

References 3 to 6 are not to scientific papers but rather are from public "news" sources written by journalists, furthering my long held suspicion that one cannot get a degree in journalism if one has passed a college level science course.

The authors continue:

The devastating Tohoku earthquake (magnitude 9.0) of March 11, 2011 off the east coast of Japan and a subsequent tsunami triggered a major nuclear accident occurred at FDNPP, which was classified at the maximum level of 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.(7,8) Complete loss of core cooling resulted in core meltings of reactor units 1–3 and the onset of hydrogen, leading to significant releases of radionuclides into the environment through ventings and structural damage to the containment caused by hydrogen explosions.(9−14) The total estimated released activities of mostly volatile radionuclides, excluding noble gases, summed up to 520 PBq.(14) While partly substantial airborne activity levels of radiocesium, radiotellurium, and radioiodine were observed over the Japanese islands, traces of fission products were detected globally.(15) In the aftermath of the accident, the Japanese government ordered an extensive monitoring of air dose rates(16−18) as well as of contamination levels in drinking water and food.(19,20) The analyzed data are publically available on the Web site of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW).(21) The food inspections were extended in 2012 and are still being carried out today.(22−26)
Despite overwhelming evidence indicating moderate (at worst) direct health effects of the nuclear releases from FDNPP,(27−29) nine years after the accident, many people still doubt the radiological safety of staying in Japan. The reasons for this largely unsubstantiated fear may be rooted in the fact that scientific evidence is often only presented in Japanese and is often addressed to professionals in the field. In some instances, the credibility of the data (or the organization presenting the data) is called into question, especially when the data are used to support, e.g., a particular view of nuclear energy. Since environmental radioactivity is a highly emotional issue, this topic is occasionally prone to become the subject of conspiracy theories, with the result that the accuracy of governmental data as a whole is called into question. In any case, no comprehensive and scientifically substantiated summary of the various radiological aspects of the radiation hazard are available for Tokyo 2020 yet.

The added bold is mine.

Conspiracy theories? The authors are claiming that people embrace conspiracy theories?

Who knew?

The public is entirely rational which is why national governments agree with the notion that nuclear power is more dangerous than 7 million deaths per year from air pollution, and the destruction of continental coastal forests and communities by fire.

The paper contains all kinds of silly scientific stuff about how to detect radiation, for example:

Radiocesium Analysis

For the low-level analysis of 137Cs, gamma spectrometry using high-purity germanium (HPGe) detectors at the underground laboratory Felsenkeller (Dresden, Germany)(30) was applied. In this location, 45 m of rock overburden results in a suppression of the muonic component of cosmic radiation by a factor of about 30.(31) Relative efficiencies of the used detectors ranged from 20 to 90%, the integral blank count rates for the energy range 40–2700 keV varied between 2.4 and 4.4 min–1. The lowest background values were achieved with the spectrometer described in Köhler et al.(32) The water samples (500 and 1500 mL) were measured in Marinelli beaker geometry.

In other words, to distinguish the cesium radioactivity from the samples collected in Japan from the background radiation associated with our very dangerous galaxy, the authors needed to take the samples to Germany and measure the radioactivity under layers or rock to exclude cosmic radiation.

I got 'dem old kozmik blues again Mama!

Anyway, the following figures describe what the authors found out about "dangerous" radioactivity at the upcoming (maybe) Tokyo Olympics in comparison to the radiation risk to athletes at previous Olympic events.

The caption:

Figure 1. Locations of the Olympic venues for Tokyo 2020. Map based on Google Maps.

The caption:

Figure 2. Producing prefectures of potable water samples and venues of additional sampling spots from surface and tap water samples.

The caption:

Figure 3. Current air dose rates in μSv·h–1 of Tokyo 2020 (avg.) and previous Olympic Sites.

The caption:

Figure 4. (a) Cycling route in the prefectures Kanagawa, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka of Tokyo 20202 with contamination map from the September 18, 2011 data taken from MEXT(45) (b) measured air dose rate in September 20, 2018 on the cycling route; (c) marathon course in the city of Tokyo(2) with contamination map from the September 18, 2011 taken from MEXT; (45) and (d) measured air dose rate in September 19, 2018 on the marathon route.

Watch out for 'dem ole Kozmik Blues, while flying!

The caption:

Figure 5. Flight dose in μSv (including neutron dose) from cosmic rays for flights of previous Olympic sites to Tokyo, Japan.(49−52)

Excerpts from the authors conclusions:

Major sporting events such as the Olympic Games are particularly vulnerable to public health threats. For the quantification of the impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the upcoming summer Olympics, we conducted a variety of experimental and literature studies for a comprehensive assessment of the external and internal exposure to ionizing radiation for athletes and visitors. All results were compared to radiation exposure from naturally occurring radionuclides and from cosmic rays exposure during flights. Significantly elevated air dose rates were not measured at any of the Tokyo Olympic sites. The results of this study exemplify that, despite the Fukushima nuclear accident, Tokyo 2020 will in fact exhibit a lower radiological risk than the previous major sporting events we chose for comparison. Also for the torch relay, no major deviations from the conclusions of this study are anticipated. The average air dose rates of 0.071 μSv·h−1 at the Tokyo 2020 sites were below the average air dose rates of previous Olympic sites (Beijing, Munich, Helsinki, London, Seoul, and Rio de Janeiro). Furthermore, we analyzed drinking and surface water samples, at which only two out of 17 water samples exhibited the low detection limits in an underground laboratory with a drinking water sample from Chiba prefecture (0.0031 ± 0.0007 Bq·kg−1137Cs) and surface seawater sample from the Kanagawa prefecture (0.021 ± 0.006 Bq·kg−1137Cs). Both 137Cs activity concentrations are minute and far below the regulatory limit for potable water (10 Bq·L−1 radiocesium). They do not pose any radiological risk even at a high intake rate of around 5 L·d−1 for athletes. Likewise, on the basis of previously published food safety studies, we extrapolate a small radiological hazard due to the consumption of food. Thanks to the major efforts in monitoring of food, the food safety in Japan is high...

Of course, none of this science can compare with our appetite for conspiracy theories, with our media now in a paroxysm of joy at making sure we are aware of every single one of them. They're, um, considered "news."

I wish you a healthy, safe and secure weekend and holiday season.

Let's Not Overthink This.

The Editorial in the Current Issue of Science.

Let's Not Overthink This. H. Holden Thorpe.

For some observers, the U.S. presidential election of 2020 appeared to be about science. Outgoing President Donald Trump consistently and dishonestly played down the threats from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and climate change. President-elect Joe Biden said he would listen to scientists, a position that was mocked by Trump. Some might take Biden's victory—decisive but hardly a landslide—as feeble support for science. But was science actually on the ballot? Maybe it's best not to overthink this.

Science and political communication scholar Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the University of Pennsylvania believes that it is wrong to construe the election in such simple terms. “Science was not on the ballot,” she said in a recent conversation. When viewed in the heat of the battle, she says, the 73 million people who voted for Trump may seem to have been rejecting science, but many of them live in areas of the country that had, until recently, barely experienced the COVID-19 outbreak. Now they are getting it full blast. Others simply believed that the health of the economy should not be jeopardized by what they saw as a draconian pandemic response. As for the fight against climate change, many people feared that their livelihoods would be threatened by calls for a major move away from fossil fuels. Add to that the millions of people whose religious beliefs enjoin them from appreciating the beauty and power of the theory of evolution. There is not one great horde of Americans (many of whom happen to be Trump supporters) who are anti-science. It is a mixture of people who, for personal reasons, resist facts that challenge their thinking...

...Most people don't think about the biology of the promised coronavirus vaccine any more than they marvel at how the theory of general relativity is used by satellites to guide them as they navigate with Google Maps.

The periods of high American enthusiasm for science have all coincided with great triumphs for science such as the Moon landing or the polio vaccine. But after all this excitement, science moved off center stage, and the scientists could quietly go back to work. We're on the cusp of a similar cycle...

No comment from me other than to say that it's not just Trump-cultists who are unwilling to challenge their "thinking..." such as it is.

Metal Oxide Sorbents for the Separation of Radium and Actinium

(Note: This post, and many of my earlier posts in this space, contains some graphics which may not be accessible to Chrome users because of a recent upgrade to that browser, but should work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge. When my son has time, he will adjust the file system for a website he's building for me to make these graphics usable in Chrome, but he seldom has that much time on his hands. Interested parties, should they exist, can still read my posts including the graphics, but regrettably must use a browser other than Chrome. Apologies - NNadir)

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Metal Oxide Sorbents for the Separation of Radium and Actinium (M. Alex Brown Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2020, 59, 46, 20472–20477)

One of the more interesting things about anti-nukes is the deep abiding concern they show for uranium ore tailings - which contain radium, most of which is Ra-226, the natural decay product of uranium-238, with a nearly vanishing fraction consisting of radium-223, from the uranium-235 decay chain.

On the other hand these same anti-nukes are spectacularly disinterested in a much larger source of radium that is associated with flowback water from natural gas fracking operations, particularly in the Marcellus Shale, which is a uranium formation. The same process that extracts natural gas, also extracts radium, and the flowback water is dumped right on the surface, with very little effort to control it, any more than there is any effort to contain the dangerous combustion combustion waste of dangerous natural natural gas, dangerous carbon dioxide.

Anti-nukes couldn't care less about dangerous natural gas, of course, since without access to it, the so called "renewable energy" industry would be exposed for the scam it has always been when the lights, refrigerators, theaters, home, public and surgical all go dark because the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. The Trump scale lie that's told about this crime against the future, burning natural gas, is that it's "transitional."

This is absurd, since the use of dangerous natural gas has continuously been growing at a vastly faster rate all through this century. (This is in terms of energy and not the often disingenuous and fraudulent appeal to peak capacity without reference to total capacity utilization, which for wind and solar is absurdly low, and thus materially wasteful, this while having no relation to demand.)

I have argued that the uranium (and thorium) already mined is sufficient to provide all of humanity's energy needs for centuries, at least in "breed and burn" scenarios, many of which are ready for commercial application, and thus uranium mining is not really necessary, and arguably will never be necessary again, at least in a world where attention to risk and the environment, and the facts of engineering are not subjects of derision and contempt, both on the political right and quite frankly, on the political left as well, albeit with different foci.

Because air pollution kills millions of people every year, and because the death toll from extreme heat is rising dramatically, the death toll associated with nuclear operations - which is clearly non-zero - is trivial compared with all other forms of energy. Nuclear energy, where it operates, saves lives. The argument that any or every nuclear death to which excessive attention is paid excuses millions of other deaths not associated with radioactivity which are ignored is not merely stupid; it is unethical in the extreme. It is in fact, equivalent that the two deaths at Bengazi outweigh the hundreds of thousands of Covid deaths, an argument the Republican party unashamedly makes much to the disgust of the entire civilized world.

Nuclear technology saves lives in other ways, most famously associated with medicinal use, both in imaging and in therapy and sometimes in the combined practice known as theranostics.

Radium-226, which has a half-life of about 1600 years, can be transmuted, in a neutron flux into the rare element actinium-227, which has a half-life of 21.77 years. This is the only naturally occurring actinium isotope that is present in large enough quantities in natural sources (uranium ores) to be isolated, but doing so is extremely expensive. Actinium-227 is too long lived to be of much use in medicine, although it would be an excellent fuel for a thermoelectric generator in bulk quantities, but the isolation of radium from either uranium mine tailings or flow back water itself is fairly expensive.

There has been a lot of interest however in another isotope of actinium, Ac-225, which has a half life of ten days and which is a powerful alpha particle emitter. Since alpha particles do not travel very far in matter, this means that any destruction associated with interaction with matter is highly localized, something that is clearly desirable in for instance, cancer treatment using an expedient like an ADC, an antibody drug conjugate, where the antibody has a CDR (complementarity determining region) associated with cell surface displays unique to cancer cells.

This paper is about Ac-225.

From the introduction:

Targeted alpha therapy utilizes the ionizing capabilities of alpha-emitting radioisotopes to treat a variety of infectious diseases and cancers, particularly prostate and bone cancers.(1,2) A promising candidate is 225Ac and its short-lived daughter product 213Bi alongside a potent alpha/beta cascade.(3) In aqueous solution, the stable trivalent valence of Ac3+ leads to a number of potentially useful bifunctional chelators that when conjugated to a targeting vector can drive the isotopes to various biological targets.(4) Consequently, large-scale production is under development by the Department of Energy’s Isotope Program and the National Isotope Development Center (NIDC), which currently produces 225Ac by high-energy proton spallation of thorium targets or aged stocks of 233U/229Th.(5−7) New production channels are being investigated including 226Ra(γ,n)225Ra → 225Ac, 226Ra(p,2n)225Ac, and 226Ra(n,2n)225Ra → 225Ac, all of which could potentially utilize up to 100 mg or more of a natural radium target.(8−10)

Regardless of the production channel and as 225Ac is scaled toward curie quantities, it must be considered that increased alpha dose rates could detrimentally affect the chemical processing of the targets and products. The separation of Th targets, Ra, Ac, and fission fragments have been executed using commercial ion-exchange and extraction chromatography resins.(11−14) However, the alpha-destructive nature of irradiated Ra and Ac can incur radiological damage on conventional organic/silica-supported resins.(15) It is well documented that mCi quantities of these isotopes (particularly Ra and subsequent daughter products) can effectively destroy such resins to the point that in some cases the material can no longer be recovered from a column.(16−20) The estimated daily dose of 20 mCi 225Ac (including daughter products) to 100 mg of cation-exchange resin is 2 × 108 cGy.(21) The reported absorbed dose threshold of cation-exchange resins is 108 cGy, after which diminished performances have been observed.(16) Further, curie quantities of 225Ac will certainly degrade polyvinyl supports and introduce organic impurities that could contaminate the product and ultimately affect chelation chemistry.

There may be advantages in using metal oxide sorbents (frequently used in high-performance liquid chromatography)(22) considering their high radiation stability and widespread application in the recovery and purification of fission 99Mo...(23)

...The focus of this work was to investigate if inorganic-based normal-phase sorbents can be used as a platform to retain selected +2 and +3 cations—starting with Ba and La nitrate surrogates then onto to 228Ra and 228Ac tracers.(30)

In this case, the authors isolated Ra-228 from aged isolated thorium using solvent extraction procedures with a TOGDA complexing agent. Radium is a decay product of the thorium decay chain as it is in uranium-235 decay chain. Radium-228, which has a half-life of 5.75 years, decays by beta emission to Ac-228, which has a half-life of about 6 hours. Thus this system is a surrogate for the production of Ac-225 by either Ra-226(n,2n)Ra225 -> Ac-225 reactions or Ra-226(p,n)Ac-225 reactions.

To model this system, given the difficulty of isolating Ac-228 and Ra-228, Barium/Lanthanum was used to model these reactions. The authors then attempted separation using metal oxides.

Some pictures from the text showing some results:

Separations on titania and alumina, the oxides respectively of titanium (as marvelous TiO2) and aluminum:

The caption:

Figure 1. Partition coefficients of La (purple diamond solid, [La]0 = 0.5 mM) and Ba (blue circle solid, [Ba]0 = 0.9 mM) on alumina and titania from HNO3 at room temperature. Uncertainties were derived from ICP–MS analysis.

The caption:

Figure 2. Partition coefficients of La (purple diamond solid, [La]0 = 0.5 mM) and Ba (blue circle solid, [Ba]0 = 0.9 mM) on alumina, titania, and zirconia from 0.20 M acetate at room temperature. Uncertainties were derived from ICP–MS analysis.

The surrogate barium/lanthanum system:

The caption:

Figure 3. Elution of La (purple diamond solid, [La]0 = 0.8 mM) and Ba (blue circle solid, [Ba]0 = 1.4 mM) from zirconia at room temperature using 0.20 M acetate and HCl at a flow rate of 2.0 mL/min. Resin mass = 1.0 g and column diameter = 1 cm. The elution curves serve as a visual aid.

The real thing:

The caption:

Figure 4. Elution of 228Ac (orange diamond solid), 228Ra (blue circle solid), and 212Pb (green triangle up solid) from zirconia at room temperature using 0.20 M acetate and HCl at a flow rate of 2.0 mL/min. Resin mass = 1.0 g and column diameter = 1 cm. The elution curves serve as a visual aid.

The caption:

Figure 5. Activity measurements of the HCl (pH 1.0) product solution in Figure 4 containing 228Ac (orange diamond solid) and 212Pb (green triangle up solid). The solid lines represent the half-lives of 6.15 and 10.6 h corresponding to 228Ac and 212Pb. Uncertainties were derived from counting statistics.

It is important to note that all of the radioisotopes mentioned in this paper occur naturally. When one fissions a naturally occurring nuclide, either as a transmutation product (Th-232 -> U-233 or U-238 -> Pu-239) or U-235 which occurs naturally, one eliminates all future members of the decay series. Although used nuclear fuel is highly radioactive owing to the short half-lives of most fission products, it can be shown, that in roughly 1000 years of continuously recycled nuclear fuel, the total radioactivity associated with nuclear fission energy will actually be lower than the natural radioactivity contained in radioactive ores of uranium and thorium. (This may or may not be a good thing.)

The conclusion of the paper:

A number of metal oxide sorbents were evaluated as radiation-resistant platforms for the purification of highly alpha-active Ra targets and 225Ac using surrogate elements and isotopes. It was demonstrated that alumina, titania, and zirconia are capable of fractionating Ba and La from dilute acids and in the presence of an acetate buffer—La was much more strongly retained than Ba. Titania was able to retain both Ba and La at pH 6, and alumina exhibited appreciable degradation below pH 4. Zirconia was chosen for a set of stationary column elution profiles and proved effective in both Ba/La and Ra/Ac separations, where the final product was recovered in dilute HCl. Notable differences in the elution behavior of Ba/Ra and La/Ac were observed. The chosen pH of an acetate feed for the separation of Ba/La was 5.1 followed by a pH 2 HCl La recovery. For Ra/Ac, a pH of 4.1 acetate was used to remove Ra followed by pH 1 HCl to recover Ac and Pb. The radiometric purity of the 228Ac product indicated good decontamination from the 228Ra parent. These results suggest that zirconia could be a feasible platform for the separation of bulk Ra targets for the purification of 225Ac.

Despite the rising Covid-19 numbers, I trust you will be safe and well and able to enjoy the many wonderful privileges of being alive. I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings!

Omen Ranger.

Ice, Climate, Clathrate Physics and Greenhouse Gases.

(Note: This post, and many of my earlier posts in this space, contains some graphics which may not be accessible to Chrome users because of a recent upgrade to that browser, but should work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge. When my son has time, he will adjust the file system for a website he's building for me to make these graphics usable in Chrome, but he seldom has that much time on his hands. Interested parties, should they exist, can still read my posts including the graphics, but regrettably must use a browser other than Chrome. Apologies - NNadir)

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Lattice Dynamics Study of the Thermal Expansion of C3H8-, CH4-, CF4-, CO2-, Xe-, and N2-Hydrates (Rodion Belosloudov et al., Energy Fuels 2020, 34, 10, 12771–12778).

The Montreal Protocol demonstrated that in the case where there are governments of good will, it is possible for humanity as a whole to address serious environmental issues. The ban on the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons has slowed the destruction of the ozone layer, although threats still exist to it, notably nitrous oxide, concentrations of which are rising. The Montreal Protocol required the replacement of the CFC's - chlorofluorocarbons - with HFC's hydrogen fluorocarbons. Like the CFC's, the HFC's are all powerful greenhouse gases, but they do not participate in the destruction of ozone appreciably. Because the carbon fluorine is very strong, however, these compounds are very persistent, and degrade very slowly. A related problem, less involved with the atmosphere, but very much a concern in water solutions, including the water solutions making up living things, is the problem of perfluorinated alkyl acids and perfluorinated polymers. The most familiar example of a perfluorinated polymer is Teflon; but other examples, notably Nafion, which is used in hydrogen fuel cells, exist.

The strength of bonds determines the energy required to break them, and their breakage is necessary for them to degrade. The Planck relation defines the energy of electromagnetic waves.

From this relationship one can readily determine that the required energy to break carbon fluorine bonds is found only in UV and shorter wavelength electromagnetic waves: Those in the x-ray and gamma region. Radiation with this energy is only found in the upper atmosphere, at least in the case where there is a functional ozone layer. On the earth's surface, radiation at this energy level must be obtained either using energy intensive accelerators - in the case of organofluoride destruction, electron beams - high intensity UV lamps, or readily available radioactive materials.

One of the most potent atmospheric greenhouse gases is tetrafluoromethane, CF4, which is discussed in the paper referenced at the outset. The chief industrial sources of this gas, which has a global warming potential, mole for mole, that is well over 6,000 times greater than carbon dioxide and an atmospheric lifetime of more than 10,000 years, is the production of aluminum, followed by silicon refining. The Hall-Heroult process by which aluminum is made is an electrochemical process in a molten fluoride based salt, cryolite, and the anodes in the electrochemical cell - ironically called a "green electrode" - is made of petroleum coke compressed into a composite solid using petroleum or coal tars (asphaltenes). During the electrochemical reduction of aluminum, these electrodes are sacrificial, yielding carbon dioxide and, from small amounts of fluorine produced, carbon tetrafluoride, both of which are vented to the atmosphere.

Anyone familiar with my writings will be aware that I strongly favor the reprocessing of used nuclear fuels, for which many processes are known; some of which I have discussed in this space. It's clear to me that even better processes than those currently utilized industrially, as well as many that have been explored at various depths, are quite possible. If someone were to ask me - no one will - what I thought would represent the most sustainable approach to recovering valuable materials used nuclear fuels, nuclear reprocessing, for those fuels historically accumulated for more than half a century, solid phase fuels, I would suggest electrochemical approaches, in some ways similar to the Hall-Heroult process, and the marvelous recently discovered FFC Cambridge process (which is chloride, and not fluoride based.) In at least one process I've dreamt up, the removal of dilute water from the reaction matrix might end up generating small amounts of CF4 in the case where carbon based electrodes were utilized. (This may not be necessary however.)

I favor closed cycles for all materials, not just nuclear materials, and I believe that human technologies should be required to provide for a safe and sustainable world for future generations, that is that each generation should leave the planet in better shape or at least the same shape in which they found it. This is obviously an approach that my detestable generation has failed to embrace. When I consider a process therefore, it is ethically incumbent upon me to consider the environmental fate of side products such as CF4. As stated above, if the task is to clean up destroyed or damaged matrices, one should also understand how to permanently destroy toxic materials, rather than playing a shell game involving various kinds of dumps, all of which will eventually leak, with varying impact on the health of humans and the planet. If the atmosphere and/or waterways are the effective dumps - and this is the general current practice for vast amounts egregious byproducts of human industry the problem of isolation and/or destruction is an enormous engineering problem, technically feasible perhaps, but certainly not cheap or easy. Right now this disposal CF4 and the HFC’s involves using the atmosphere as a dump, a practice that will greatly impact all future generations, and indeed, all life forms on this planet.

The destruction of atmospheric HFC's and residual CFC's is chemically similar to the problem of fluorocarbon derivatives in water, notably PFOS, PFOA, perfluorooctanoyl sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid respectively, as well as other fluorinated carbon compounds in as much as they both involve reactions with water as a reactant, water in the vapor phase in air. However because they are in very different matrices, water and air, the destruction pathways differ in their mechanisms in important ways. I have spent a long stretch of my adult life thinking about his problem, especially because I have considered the generation of CF4 in the reprocessing of nuclear fuels. This is true even though the high energy to mass ratio of nuclear fuels, the precise reason that they are environmentally superior to all other forms of energy generation, means that, even in an ideal totally nuclear powered world, the generation of CF4 would be trivial when compared to its generation in the aluminum and silicon industries. The question of destroying aqueous fluorocarbons is also related to my interest in nuclear fuels, not so much because reprocessing nuclear fuel would or could generate such compounds in water, but because the radioactive materials within them represent excellent tools for solving the otherwise intractable and growing problem they represent without expending vast amounts of climate destroying energy.

The radiation induced cleavage of a chemical bond can occur in two ways, heterolytically and homolytically. The heterolytic cleavage of a bond results in two ions, one positively charged and one negatively charged. Homolytic cleavage results in the production of two "free" radicals, a radical being a species with an unpaired, and thus highly reactive, electron. Although radiation induced heterolytic cleavage was historically important in techniques like mass spectrometry where Cf-252 sources were involved, modern techniques like electrospray ionization have supplanted them except in rare cases such as mass spectrometers on space probes. As far as the destruction of fluorinated hydrocarbons in water are concerned, the heterolytic cleavage of water is a non-event: Water self-ionizes spontaneously, accounting for the pH of pure water, which is 7. This self-ionization does not result in the appreciable destruction of fluorinated compounds. In both the gas phase, air, and the water phase, liquid water, radicals are responsible for the degradation of fluorinated carbons.

I discussed, a some length in the desultory way I am wont to discuss things, the decomposition of fluorinated carbon compounds here:

A Nice Scientific Review Article on the Destruction of Persistent Perfluoroorganic Pollutants.

(I remarked back then that I believed that trifluoromethanol could be synthesized without providing a reference. It turns out that it has been synthesized, albeit in a solution of HF and fluorophosgene:

Convenient Access to Trifluoromethanol (Christe et al., Angew. Chem. Int Edition, Volume 46, Issue 32 August 13, 2007 Pages 6155-6158). I'm not sure that "convenient" is exactly the word I would use for this chemistry. Fluorophosgene and pure condensed HF are very dangerous reagents, although this work was performed at the Loker Lab at USC where they worked with Nobelist George Olah of "super acid" fame. One isolation of trifluromethanol relied, in fact, on a super acid salt generated by the reaction of SbF5 with fluorophosgene. Interestingly it can also be obtained in the fascinating eutectic HF/CsF system with which I've been fascinated for many years.)


In my thinking as I wrote that post, I assumed that the pathway for the radiolytic destruction of CF4 would take place in the upper atmosphere where UV radiation would break a carbon fluorine bond, yielding a CF3٠ radical, which would then decompose following the mechanism shown in this paper, Fluorocarbons in the global environment: a review of the important interactions with atmospheric chemistry and physics (McCulloch, Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, Volume 123, Issue 1, 1 September 2003, Pages 21-29):

This pathway I find satisfying, in the sense that in a radiation field the greenhouse gas is irreversibly destroyed upon neutralization of the HF with a group II element oxide, generally calcium.

However, this pathway would not be found in water, where the reduction of CF4 would take place via "free" (solvated) electrons. It never occurred to me that CF4 might be soluble in water. In water, γ radiation generates ٠OH and ٠H radicals but the ٠OH radical in the presence of "free" electrons is rapidly converted to the OH- ion, and thus the CF3٠ radical can only react with ٠H radical to generate HCF3, fluoroform, the fluorine analogue of chloroform.

Unlike chloroform which is a liquid, albeit a volatile liquid, fluoroform is a gas, and in fact, a gas that is a more potent greenhouse gas than CF4 itself, with a 100 year global warming potential almost 15,000 times that of carbon dioxide, more than double that of CF4. Fluoroform has been released to the atmosphere as a side product in the synthesis of Teflon. It is also a refrigerant, where it is known as HFC-23, used as a replacement for the CFC’s, most commonly in automotive air conditioners. It is used also to etch silicon wafers in the semiconductor industry, albeit in a semi-destructive fashion.

It is well known that under pressure at low temperatures, methane forms "clathrates" in water, also known as hydrates. A clathrate, is an array of molecules forming a cage around a different molecule. A water cage if formed when water molecules assemble into the fused tetrahedral array that is characteristic of ice. Methane hydrates are heat sensitive, and whether they are deliberately mined for provide dangerous natural gas, our outgas because of rising temperatures. As such, whether mined our outgassed as a function of the rising temperatures of the planet, these hydrates represent a very real climate threat.

It appears that tetrafluoromethane forms water clathrates as well. The paper cited at the outset of this discusses clathrates of two other clathrate forming molecules very much involved in climate change, besides CF4, specifically propane, C3H8, and carbon dioxide. It also discusses the noble gas xenon, which as it turns out may play a role in nuclear reactors featuring continuous on line processing, but that's another story.

This paper is about clathrates. From the introduction:

The host lattice of clathrate hydrates is a nanoporous framework of water molecules linked together by hydrogen bonds. The energy of the host lattice exceeds the interaction energy between guest molecules located in the cavities of the host lattice. A basic assumption in van der Waals–Platteeuw (vdWP) theory(1) is that guest molecules do not influence the thermodynamic properties of the host lattice. Assuming that the thermodynamic properties depend on short-range ordering of the water framework, it may be expected that the thermal expansion for both hydrate and hexagonal (Ih) ice structures is similar. However, it has been shown that the temperature dependence of clathrate hydrate volumes is larger than that of ice Ih.(2−4) This indicates a violation in one of the basic assumptions of vdWP theory.

It was proposed that the nature of this difference may be associated with crystal anharmonicity which is larger in hydrates than in ice.(5) Taking the crystal anharmonicity into account, the thermal expansion of both the empty and gas hydrate with cubic structure I (CH4 and Xe sI hydrates) and with cubic structure II (Ar, Kr, and C3H8 sII hydrates) were studied using the lattice dynamics approach.(6) It was shown that the thermal expansion coefficients of the hydrates depends on the size of the guest species. Thus, the value of the thermal expansion coefficient of the hydrate with large guests is smaller than that of hydrates with small guest molecules, with the empty lattice having the smallest value. Compression of the hydrate lattice was observed in the case of filling by small guests, argon, and krypton.

A few diffraction-based experimental studies of the dependence of the lattice parameters on thermal expansion have been performed recently, both on laboratory-made and natural CH4-hydrate samples at thermodynamic conditions of interest to geoscience and chemical engineering research, including temperatures close to 0 °C and ambient pressure.(7)

Neutron- and synchrotron diffraction experiments were used to determine the lattice constants of the CH4, CO2, Xe, and N2 clathrate hydrates in the temperature range from 10 K to the stability limit.(7) It was also found that the thermal expansion of gas hydrates is considerably larger than the thermal expansion of both hexagonal ice and the empty hydrate with cubic structure II.(8) This indicates that the guest molecules are affected on the thermodynamic behavior of hydrates. Moreover, the origin of the large deviations between different experimental data for thermal expansion reported in the literature(2,7) is unclear, as are the reasons for these deviations. The large scatter in previously published lattice constant data for the gas hydrates may be related to differences in experimental facilities and synthesis methods that impact sample quality and cage filling, and in the case of natural samples, the influence of impurities.(7) At the same time, the accuracy of the calculated values of the lattice constants depends on the selected model and interaction parameters.

It is important to note that this particular paper refers to clathrates in solid state water, more or less. However, it is important to note that any state of matter is actually a canonical ensemble of multiple microstates: In a sense, a state of matter is a statistical average of micro or nano states. At the extreme level, as in the statistical mechanical theory of gases, a state can be considered a statistical ensemble of gas molecules or atoms. It is true that even in hot water, there are microregions where, temporarily at least, the structure of water is similar to that found in ice; likewise in ice, there are regions that have the properties of liquid or even steam. Indeed, this explains why and how ice sublimes and exhibits a vapor pressure.

Henry's law is a law of physics that relates the solubility of a gas to the partial pressure of the gas above it, and is, simplified, a pure proportionality relationship between pressure of a gas over a liquid and its solubility in that liquid. We observe the effects of Henry's law every time we notice the outgassing of carbon dioxide in a carbonated liquid such as soda or beer or champagne when we pop the container open. Reducing the pressure of carbon dioxide above the liquid in the container to that of the atmospheric partial pressure, causes the beverage within which the carbon dioxide is dissolved to outgas.

Deviations from Henry's law in some gases, particularly over water, are often explained by appeal to clathrate formation. In general, clathrates in water can have different structures, defined by hydrogen bonding, generally common in two different structures: Type S1 and type S2, both of which exhibit cubic symmetry. Other clathrate structures exist. For a nice sophisticated overview of clathrate structures, see Prediction of Clathrate Structure Type and Guest Position by Molecular Mechanics (Fleisher and Janda, J. Phys. Chem. A 2013, 117, 4001−4010)

In consideration of these facts, it is justified to consider the solid state clathrates discussed in this paper in the context of fluid phases. Indeed, the formation of clathrates can induce state changes. This is a much discussed and studied phenomenon in pipelines for the transport and/or mining of dangerous natural gas.

However the purpose of this paper is not to discuss Henry's law deviations or solubility, but chiefly concerns the size associated with these clathrates on a molecular scale in the solid phase, that is, as a structure essentially in ice, not a liquid, although, again, these clathrate ices are in fact, statistical canonical ensembles.

A little physical chemistry porn addressing the size of clathrates:

Our alternative approach employs quasiharmonic lattice dynamics where the Helmholtz free energy, Fqh, can be expressed as the sum of the potential energy, U, and the vibrational term, Fvib:


By determining the sum of the j-th frequency of crystal vibration, ωj(q⃗ ) at different wave vectors, q⃗, the vibrational contribution can be calculated using the following formula


The summation over the frequencies in the interval [0−ωm] can be reduced to the integral


where is the vibrational density of states (vDOS).
All frequencies ωj(q⃗ ) of the harmonic representation of the free energy in the quasiharmonic approximation depend on the volume of the system and should be calculated for every volume separately. Therefore, to obtain the free energy dependence on volume, calculation of the same system at different volumes is required.

At fixed temperature, the equation of state P(V) can be calculated using the following expression


This equation allows us to find the volume of the system at the required pressure and temperature and thereby determine the temperature dependence of the absolute values of the structural parameters and thermal expansion of the hydrates. The molecular coordinates have been optimized by the conjugate gradient method prior to calculating the free energy. This method determines the new coordinates of the molecules from the minimum of the potential energy of the expanded lattice.

The interaction between water molecules in ice Ih and the clathrate hydrate phases has been described by the modified SPC/E (SPC/Emod) water–water interaction potential


The Lennard-Jones (L-J) parameters describing short-range interactions are σ = 3.1556 Å; ε = 0.65063 kJ/mol. The charges on hydrogen and oxygen are equal to +0.4238 |e| and −0.8476 |e|, respectively.(12−15) The 4×4×2 supercell with 128 water molecules was used for the calculation of ice Ih. The approximation of spherically symmetric L-J particles was applied for the guests with the interaction parameters presented in Table 1.

Equation (5) is a statement of the Lennard Jones potential, which measures how attractive forces at one interatomic distance become repulsive forces when molecules become to close. Sir John Lennard-Jones (1894-1954) was born John Jones, but in 1925, he married Kathleen Mary Lennard and added her name to his. That was very, very progressive given his times…

…My kind of guy, Professor Sir John Lennard Jones. He is considered a "father" of computational chemistry.


Some graphics from the paper:

The caption:

Figure 1. Unit cell volumes for the structure ice Ih: SPC/Emod, SPC, SPC/E, TIP4P, TIP4P/ICE, and TIP4P/2005 models and experimental data.(33,34)

The SPC/E model is a model of water called the "Single Point Charge/Extended" model. It, and related models of water are discussed here: Structure and Dynamics of the TIP3P, SPC, and SPC/E Water Models at 298 K (Pekka Mark and Lennart Nilsson, J. Phys. Chem. A 2001, 105, 43, 9954–9960)

Some text from the paper:

The vDOS D(ω ) (the number of vibrational modes ωj(q⃗ ) in a given frequency interval) is the most widely discussed and necessary parameter for calculating the free energy (eq 2). The vDOS for the sI and sII hydrates for the empty structures and with guests are shown in Figures 2 and 3, respectively

Figure 2: Vibrational density of states for clathrates:

The caption:

Figure 2. vDOS of the CH4, CF4, CO2, and Xe hydrates with completely filled cages and the sI empty host lattice.

Figure 3:

The caption:

Figure 3. vDOS of the C3H8 and N2 hydrates with completely filled cages and sII empty host lattice.

The most important clathrates on Earth right now, that we have bet the entire planet's geological history on reactionary fondness for so called "renewable energy" - this because in the minds of some people, Fukushima was a worse disaster than people dying in the streets during heat waves, the coasts of continents breaking into fire, six to seven million air pollution deaths per year, crop failures, droughts, the increase range of pathogenic vectoring insects, oh, and mining coal and iron to make steel for wind turbine posts - are the ice clathrates of carbon dioxide and methane:

The caption:

Figure 4. Comparison of the calculated lattice parameter of (a) CH4 and (b) CO2 sI hydrates with completely filled large (L), small (S), and both large and small (L, S) cavities and experimental data(4,7,36−42) at ambient pressure.

The reason that these clathrates are important is that these two major greenhouse gases are sequestered in permafrost, in ice clathrates, that are now melting because we did nothing but buy into Greenpeace horseshit about climate change (as if that contempt for science and engineering was enough). This is far more serious than navel gazing asses who lack a shred of scientific insight losing sleep at night about the release of weakly tritiated water being released into the sea at Fukushima. The melting of clathrates will kill people, because climate change is killing people, even as we wait for the grand so called "renewable energy" nirvana that never came, isn't here, and won't come.

And now the two clathrates, those of xenon and CF4, that drew my interest to this paper, owing to my strong interest in nuclear engineering, the chemistry of valuable used nuclear fuels and the use of radioactive materials to do what no other materials can do as easily, to permanently destroy intractable extremely long lived, high greenhouse gas potential, fluorinated gases, as well as N2O:

The caption:

Figure 5. Comparison of the calculated lattice parameter of the (a) Xe and (b) CF4 sI hydrates with completely filled large (L), small (S), and both large and small (L, S) cavities, the hypothetical empty sI structure and experimental data(7,47−49) at ambient pressure.

Finally the clathrates of nitrogen and propane:

The caption:

Figure 6. Comparison the calculated: the lattice parameter of (a) N2 and (b) C3H8 sII hydrates with completely filled large (L), small (S), and both large and small (L, S) cavities, the empty sII structure and experimental data(7,8,40,50) at ambient pressure.

So far as clathrates go, those discussed in this paper that are of most relevance to the environment are clearly methane and carbon dioxide. These exist in vast quantities both in permafrost, and in high pressure regions in deep oceans. As to the extent that van der Waals–Platteeuw theory, and violations of it, have on the release of these clathrates as the permafrost in arctic regions, they are irrelevant. These effects may speed things up a little but the reality is that, one way or another: The release of these greenhouse gases from clathrates is now inevitable. At the beginning of this century, we bet the entire planet on wind turbines and solar cells, a reactionary return to the belief - abandoned during the 19th century for damned good reasons - that so called "renewable energy" could and would sustain the world. So called "renewable energy" did not sustain the world; it isn't sustaining the world; and it won't sustain the world. This belief, like most pernicious myths, from the Trumpian delusion that he won the election to the precisely equivalent belief that someday we will mine enough cobalt, enough copper for a vast array of transmission lines, enough neodymium, to make ever more elaborate Rube Goldberg contraptions that will make what can't work, work, is destroying more and more of the future. These myths are not neutral; they are not without consequence; they kill people and they are killing the future.

The failure of the myth that so called "renewable energy" could sustain the world is written in the planetary atmosphere.

The data is unambiguous: The Data.

It's a fact. Facts matter.

For the week of May 13, 2018 the 2018 weekly average maximum for the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa observatory was 411.85 ppm, then an all time record. This record was surpassed during week of January 20, 2019, when the weekly reading was 411.99 ppm. The maximum for 2019 was reached during the week May 12, 2019, when the reading was 415.39 ppm. In 2020, well into the Covid crisis in China, the world's largest dumper of carbon dioxide, and the second largest per capita dumper after those of us in the "Green" United States, the 2019 weekly average maximum was passed on March 20, 2020, when the reading was 415.52 ppm. The 2020 weekly average maximum was reached for the week beginning May 24, 2020 was 417.43 ppm, the current all time record.

We will smash that record this winter or early spring. I suspect that the maximum for 2021 will either surpass or scrape 420 ppm.

We are doing nothing meaningful.

Just for fun, I made a rare venture into the E&E forum here - where unwarranted belief in so called "renewable energy" is still a sacred cow fart - to make a post, just for amusement, alluding to Trumpian scale delusion. It was called, Wow, I just learned we're in the "renewable energy" era.

I wrote:


I had no idea. I keep thinking that carbon dioxide concentrations are going up at a record pace, but here were are past the "dawn of the renewable energy" era that I've been hearing about my whole damned adult life, and I'm not young.

I always thought that the "renewable energy era" would mean the end of the climate change problem. I guess I'm missing something.

It's a new strategy, very popular in some circles I think: When you've lost and failed, claim you won and succeeded.

This is the Science forum, where facts matter.

It seems to have generated 14 responses, only one of which - by some person making money off the "renewable energy will save us myth - I was able to read by benefit of my use of the much appreciated and wonderful "ignore list." I have no more interest in listening to this kind of crap about how "renewable energy" will work some day or even worse, how it is working than I have in listening to Donald Trump, because to me, facts matter.

As long as sweating continues, the body can still cool itself somewhat. But if a person gets too hot (this tipping point varies, but hovers around 42°C for exertional heat stress), sweating can stop and body temperature can skyrocket, sometimes even rising above 44°C. The brain falters; confusion, agitation, slurred speech, even coma can result.
(Pennisi, Living with heat (Science, Vol. 370, Issue 6518, pp. 778-781 (2020))

42°C is approximately 108°F. All over the world this summer, temperatures exceeded this temperature in many places around the world. The people who continue to write, in denial of reality, about how renewable energy will save the world are almost uniformly anti-nukes, the kind of people who worry more about a people eating a tuna fish containing a few atoms of Fukushima cesium than they do about tens of thousands of people dropping dead in heat waves. These people deserve no more attention than Trump. Their ignorance, like Trump's ignorance, kills people. Nuclear Power Learning and Deployment Rates; Disruption and Global Benefits Forgone

Again, what caught my eye about this paper, was the trace gas (and refrigerant) CF4 since I have considered a situation in which small amounts of it might be generated in a process about which I thought in which the reprocessing of valuable used nuclear fuels - most of which are oxide based fuels - using anodic dissolution in a rubidium based eutectic. (Rubidium is a fission product.) (Eutectic salts are widely used industrially, most notably in the aluminum industry, but will be likely to be used more widely for metal refining in the marvelous Cambridge FFC process.) My interest was drawn, since I am aware that CF4 in an aqueous phase will not be radiologically transformed into trifluoromethanol - which decomposes fairly rapidly - but to trifluoromethane, fluoroform, as discussed above, which is a worse climate gas than CF-4 itself.

Trace gases are now monitored by satellite, and will be for some time, at least until that asshole Elon Musk litters space with so much space debris the the use of satellites for any purpose will no longer be possible.

The concentration of fluorinated gases (other than the banned CFCs) is rising steadily: Sixteen-year trends in atmospheric trace gases from orbit. (Bernath et al., Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer 253 (2020) 107178)

Here is the trend and distribution of fluoroform (HFC-23):

Although fluoroform is a "heavier than air" gas, the apparent violation of the gravimetric distribution law is mostly likely a function of the fact that the gas is formed there from the radiative destruction not only of CF4, but other HFC refrigerants as well.

While these gases are measured in parts per trillion, it is important to recognize that the destruction of one kg of CF4 is the equivalent, for the purposes of climate - weighing global warming potential - to destroying 6500 kg of carbon dioxide. In the case of fluoroform, the destruction of 1 kg of fluoroform is the equivalent to the destruction of 50,000 kg of carbon dioxide.

We know that these gases are decomposing in the upper atmosphere's radiation field, because the concentrations, because the concentrations of the highly reactive (and toxic) but happily transitory molecule carbonyl fluoride (fluorophosgene), which was not included in the paper just linked, are detectable:

Satellite observations of stratospheric carbonyl fluoride (Harrison et al., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 11915–11933, 2014). Fluorophosgene is readily decomposed to CO2 and HF by water. HF is readily neutralized by calcium carbonate and/or other bases.

Fluoroform, while it degrades more slowly than CF4 owing to the presence of the weaker C-H bond as compared to the three C-F bonds, does degrade in the gas phase, either by combination of the CF3٠ radical with the OH٠ radical to give unstable trifluoromethanol, or by molecular cleavage to give HF and the CF2 carbene: Communication: A hydrogen-bonded difluorocarbene complex: Ab initio and matrix isolation study Sosulin et al., J. Chem. Phys. 147, 131102 (2017)) An extremely interesting fact about the CF2 carbene is that both xenon and krypton can insert into it to give compounds with rare xenon carbon and krypton carbon bonds: [link:http://|Carbene-insertion noble gas compounds: FKrCF and FXeCF] (Sosulin et al., Chemical Physics Letters 744 (2020) 137211).

At one time here I was writing a long post about xenon, a fission product, as well as it's volatile periodic table neighbors, tellurium, iodine and cesium, with an eye to improving their high value by in line isotopic separations by exploiting the variable of time. (I never got around to finishing it or posting it.)

Flouroform can also be decomposed in the gas phase to give carbon metal triple bonds (with three of the fluorine atoms bonded to the metal, and one fluorine bonded to the carbon. Here is one example of a paper written on this topic: Formation of unprecedented actinide carbon triple bonds in uranium methylidyne molecules (Andrews et al., PNAS November 27, 2007 104 (48) 18919-18924). This reaction is know to take place with other metals, including titanium, zirconium, hafnium and thorium.

Nuclear energy is often thought to apply to the generation of that famous and widely used, albeit thermodynamically degraded form of energy, electricity. However, high thermodynamic efficiency can be realized by treating nuclear energy merely as a source of clean and sustainable heat, with electricity generated as a side product and then only when needed.

In recent years, as my wasted life draws to a close, I have thought a lot about the potential of designs of nuclear reactors where Brayton type cycles are utilized with air as a working fluid, just as air is widely utilized as the working fluid in jet (Brayton) engines. In these Brayton cycles, in jet engines, air quality is degraded. It occurs to me though that it is possible to imagine Brayton cycles where the air is cleaned, where CF4, among other components, can be decomposed in the gas phase, without the generation of much fluoroform, indeed with the destruction of fluoroform. We have learned quite a bit about the behavior of fission products from the disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl - those events which anti-nukes consider more important then the total destruction of the planetary atmosphere, acidification of the oceans, the total destruction of vast marine and terrestrial ecosystems, the coasts of continents in flames, the deaths of tens of millions of people every decade from air pollution, and now, people dropping dead from heat, droughts, and the destruction of the glacial sources of water, notably in Asia and in Europe... etc., etc.

This information that we have gathered from these events, along with the forensic materials science analysis of used nuclear fuels over more than half a century suggests to me that it may be possible to apply this knowledge irradiate the atmosphere on a very grand scale, that is to bring the stratospheric and ionospheric chemistry down here to the troposphere, this to reverse the vast damage done by fear, ignorance, and healthy dollops of denial, indifference, selfishness and sheer stupidity.

Over the last few weeks, I have not allowed myself the pleasure of writing a pure science post in the science forum of this political website. Most of my posts here on this political website have been (gasp) political. I learn a great deal by writing these posts, which is why I write them and I am very happy to have felt enough ease to write one again.

I am feeling more optimistic now that the orange nightmare is about to be consigned to the dregs of history, but with a caveat. It is not enough to defeat a transitory political evil, a pernicious ideology: It is more important to govern well and to develop an ideology that will do good. While we mock the delusions of the right, we are not immune to pernicious delusions of our own. Our energy dogma, while correct in recognizing that the climate crisis is very real, is largely and vastly insufficient in recognizing what what must be done about. Let me be blunt: Wind turbines and solar cells will not cut it. They are distractions, wasteful distractions.

The last time the United States nearly fell apart, Abraham Lincoln implored the citizens of his time to "think anew." In this near event, these times, with the United States strongly at risk of falling apart, we would do well to take this general advice again. The climate crisis is more important and will last longer and be far more difficult to address than was the crisis of having an ignorant corrupt racist in the White House, far more important than having racist middle American hayseeds granted inordinate power in government. It is not enough to govern for all Americans, we must govern for all humanity, and for all the future.

If we truly think anew, among other things, we will recognize a basic fact - and it is a fact: Opposing nuclear energy is a crime against humanity. We seem to be having a hard time recognizing it, but it is a fact all the same, shown experimentally, with data collected over more than half a century. This may seem strong; it may seem harsh, but it is a fact. Facts matter.

I am very impressed with President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris, but even as they glow and even as we bask in that hard won glow, we face a greater darkness, especially if we do not "think anew." They are not Gods; they are human beings. They cannot do it alone; we are all involved. The task is not over; it is just beginning. Let us help them. Let us think anew.

I trust you are enjoying a safe and reasonably pleasant weekend.
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