Yet sometimes things are so far removed from reality as to not be what they appear to be.
Hansen published an article with three co-writers Thursday in The Guardian. It advocates nukes as a solution to global warming. All have impressive resumes in the fight to save the Earth. But their argument for nukes makes sense only as parody.
James Hansen et al: Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change https://t.co/xDbwuvjjN3 https://t.co/NheGKreNSo— Svein T veitdal (@Svein T veitdal)1449216128.0
Consider this direct quote: “A build rate of 61 new reactors per year could entirely replace current fossil fuel electricity generation by 2050.”
61 new reactors per year! But that’s just for starters.
Another 54 new reactors per year must cover “population growth and development in poorer countries.”
So “this makes a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonize the global electricity system in this illustrative scenario,” the authors said in The Guardian article.
“We know that this is technically achievable because France and Sweden were able to ramp up nuclear power to high levels in just 15-20 years,” they said.
Yikes! Breathe deep! Or be awestruck by the brilliance of the parody.
Right now less than 440 commercial reactors more or less operate worldwide, depending on how one counts those shut since Fukushima.
Now multiply 115 new reactors a year from now until 2050. Can you do it with a straight face?
Team Hansen provides no calculations on the cost, size or reliability of these projected nukes.
We do hear about “next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle.”
But none exist today.
None could be designed, financed or built in time to save us from climate chaos. All would drain the on-going boom in wind and solar.
And, what about: Raw materials? Construction capacity? Siting? Regulation? (think China) Insurance? Ecological impacts? Heat emissions? Terror threats? (think ISIS) Decommissioning?
How about cooling water? Massive marine die-offs and ecological imbalance are standard wherever nukes operate. On a warming planet, is there really enough cold water to cool all these thermal monsters? Is creating these gargantuan quantities of waste heat really how we want to fight global warming? Where are the out-take pipes on solar panels and wind mills?
How goes it with reactors currently under construction, like Finland, Flamanville, Vogtle and VC Summer?
Does Dr. Hansen embrace current reactor designs?
If so, what do we do about: California’s Diablo Canyon (surrounded by earthquake faults), Ohio’s Davis-Besse (crumbling) and New York’s Indian Point (unlicensed and uninsured)?
Consider that the Ohio Public Utilities Commission staff has just recommended a $3.9 billion ratepayer bailout to keep both Davis-Besse and several ancient coal burners online for at least eight more years. What do we do about that?
The Guardian article likes the “ramp-up” in Sweden and France. But both are now ramping down.
Nuke waste “does pose unique safety and proliferation concerns that must be addressed with strong and binding international standards and safeguards.” But we’re assured that “technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely” do exist.
Really? Where are the prototypes? The track records? How is Yucca Mountain doing?
We’re told those who advocate a 100 percent renewable solution to power our world “ignore the intermittency issue.” We Solartopians make “unrealistic technical assumptions” and want a mix that “can contain high levels of biomass and hydroelectric power.”
Yet the paradigm shift is everywhere.
Germany’s masterful Energiewende and the startling rise of rooftop solar and next generation wind are just the tip of an iceberg. Only decentralized renewables and increased efficiency can save us.
And then there are the batteries. And the revolution in demand management.
The case Team Hansen makes for nukes demands at least three blind eyes: one to current reactor realities (catastrophic), another to the timeline necessary to solve climate chaos (desperate), a third to what’s really happening in renewables and efficiency (spectacular).
We certainly are indebted to Dr. Hansen and his co-authors for their years of service to the environment and waking up the world to the devastating impacts of global warming.
Now we are thankful again for this latest thorough and convincing argument that the atomic fiasco must end.
Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and edits NukeFree.org. His AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY is coming soon.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus
On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.
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By Kelli McGrane
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Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.
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By Ashutosh Pandey
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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