In response to
The statement that I do not understand the extent of the problem is patently wrong. I would present that the opposite may very well be true.
It was not in this discussion about overpopulation where I said I thought you did not understand the extent of a problem. I don't question your knowledge of overpopulation. I said
Perhaps you, like most people, are unaware of the true dimensions of our Planetary Emergency.
specifically in reference to the synergistic multiplication of risk that climate change poses to nuclear power plant safety.
I certainly didn't paste the label "Unaware" on you, as a general put down. I admire your connection to nature and minimizing your carbon footprint.
I appreciate your attempt to give me feedback on my communication techniques. However, I find your advice somewhat unclear, or at least it confuses me. Perhaps if you gave particular examples where you see me contaminating hard data that I quote with my feelings, we could address those cases. I appreciate that at least you recognize I'm well intentioned. It would be helpful to address "overstatements, understatements, mistakes, misquotes, errors and mass oversimplifications" on a case by case basis.
When you make a long speech, you make gaffs that folks can use to "support" contrary opinions.
I probably do make gaffs. Feel free to call me on them.
When you make sensationalist statements, or even emotive concise summaries, you invite idiots to participate and present their "feelings" on an equally low level.
It's my take that you see statements such as "survival is at stake" as sensationalism because you don't take the threats to civilization and species survival as seriously as I. When I take the long view, I see climate destabilization triggering not only very serious climate change but also very many nuclear power plant accidents. The cumulative challenge to species survival involves an accumulating mutation rate burden to future generations. There's a threshold where the ability of evolution to remove deleterious mutations is exceeded by their generation, which leads to extinction. Herman Muller warned about this threat decades ago, but most people ignored him. You and I may have very different estimates of the chances that our species will survive the next few thousand years. But do not assume that difference arises from my allowing emotions to distort fact. I think we pay attention to different facts and put them together differently.
I think expressing our feelings about serious issues like these is helpful. Even people who are less informed and who disagree have a right to express emotion in non-blaming respectful language. They deserve a voice. If we do not include others in debate, how will we learn form one another?
As to your use of "idiots", I'm just now learning how ableist my own language has been. I'm making an effort to avoid ableist words.
Definitions: An idiot, dolt, or dullard is a mentally deficient person, or someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way.
Liable: Both liable and apt when followed by an infinitive are used nearly interchangeably with likely
So yes, I make likely statements about people acting in self-defeating manner.
Human species...meaning THIS human species is not in danger of extinction, though it is progressing down the pathway normally associated with species transmogrification.
Example: Virus becomes so virulent and capable of reproduction that it spreads wildly along many vectors, attacking and killing every available host. Eventually as a species or variant, only the less virulent actually survive.
Sounds like a good thing in the long run doesn't it?
Thank goodness for nuclear power. Some of our species might get to last out in subterranean bastions huddled against a nuclear power plant in Tropical Antarctica eating algae and meat rabbits for a few thousand years until everything blows over. Maybe the society they create will breed fewer tailgaters and self centered Idiots. With a population collapse, we can then undergo a few beneficial changes in our much smaller more mutable genetic pool, as we did long ago when early hominids were almost wiped out.
No, I don't see survival as being at stake, and the planet doesn't need "saving". Our supposed bicameral legislature and the local shoe boutique need saving. The human species (and hominids) lived just fine in a hand-to-mouth disease-ridden condition for a couple of million years. I'm not all THAT wrapped up in the current mayfly population spike that I happen to be part of.
This may simply be because I am an engineer, and we are born without souls. I posit that no-one else is either, but....
An once again, there have not been "a lot of nuclear power plant accidents". The meningitis-laced steroids in the news currently have done a LOT more damage than Fukushima ever will in real terms, but we will hear about Fuku long after this epidemic is last week's news. You see, it's less sensational.
Paper mills have and continue to do hundreds of thousands of times the environmental damage that nuclear power plants have, but they are the cornerstone of our society, and are not sensational!
You could indeed drop a nuclear weapon on NYC every year and not equal the damage to the environment that having the city there currently causes. This is a fact. Powering it with nuclear power is a beneficial step.
Chernobyl is now a nature preserve....where before, it was a cesspit.
Art, you appear fully aware of the hazards and limitations of a wide range of industries. True paper mills are among the most polluting industries, right up there with cement production and coal plants. But hundreds of thousands of times more environmental damage in real terms than nuclear power plants? Show me that data please!
When I make claims similar in structure to "The meningitis-laced steroids in the news currently have done a LOT more damage than Fukushima ever will in real terms" you ask for a published comparative study. This isn't a straightforward comparison.
We might eventually know exactly how many patients were killed by tainted spinal medication, once the incubation for meningitis passes. Patient deaths are damage, of course. But a meningitis outbreak doesn't permanently render a parcel of land useless to future generations. It's more difficult to quantify the damage from Fukushima. We may never be able to quantify the radioactive contamination which bioconcentrates in Pacific Ocean food chains, and the disease burden to wildlife and human consumers which ensues, now and through all future generations. Long term damage such as to habitable land must be also be considered.
Our planet has limited habitable zones. Toxic chemical spills, erosion down to bedrock, and radiation hot zones remove useable land, irreversibly for practical purposes. For millions of years our hand-to-mouth disease-ridden ancestors lived here and left habitable land behind for us. In the past few hundred years we've wantonly destroyed, for the foreseeable future, habitable territory worldwide. With climate destabilization, soil depletion, pollution and nuclear proliferation, this destruction seems to be rising exponentially to me.
When the Japanese "clean up" Fukushima they move the radioactive waste somewhere else in Japan, with the logic that all provinces should "share the pain".
Two dreadful commercial nuclear power plant accidents, two noncommercial meltdowns, a close call at Three Mile Island, and numerous ongoing safety issues such as flooding at Calhoun count as "a lot" of accidents to me.
In sum, it's my impression that you focus more on present damage and I focus more on very long term damage. This may be part of why we diverge on risk assessment.
Did my thesis on the migration of radioactinides in groundwater...so Yes, I am familiar with the long view of handling waste made from weapons, ancient first generation plants, and all that crap. I have done term papers on Yukka mountain and studied welded egnimbrite geologic formations and all that...and I base my opinions on that, political experience, personal experience, anthopological studies, planetary science... and I have NOT ONCE asked you for any kind of "comparative study...nothing like that! I'm not trying to prove anything to you, except my stance that your methods are really good at driving away anyone that isn't exactly *perfectly* in your camp, undermining your ability to actually deal with the situation at all. I would think that is very important to you, as I am sure you must have a plan for implementing a real world amelioration scheme...otherwise you would not need so many converts to your way of thinking so that you can act immediately. Here is reality as I see it: If you were elected High-Muck-a-Muck Emperess Plenipotentiary at noon today, you would not have the resources or technology to implement a solar/wind economy within the next 50 years. You couldn't do it. Mind you, that is based on a mere regional study that I am familiar with (having taken part in the study as a lowly researcher). You need these: http://energy.sc.gov/publications/Roger%20Schonewald%20-%20GE%20Ene... You need 4000 of them to power NYC alone. We only have a few sets of heavy lift equipment, and no-were near enough expansion capacity in that regard. You need 22 years to complete the job for NYC. You can achieve 20% Wind power, if the population stopped growing immediately. Otherwise, we could not do even a war-time economy that could catch up to the cumulative requirements. The infrastructure requirements are simply too great in terms of distributing that power, and there really are not that many places that can use wind (see links). You cannot do this anytime near our lifetimes, which is obviously what is required. I strongly recommend you take a REAL look at nuclear power options and realities. The STRONGEST PROPONENTS of Nuclear power in this day and age are Rotor blade shot for you.....
You need 12,000 of these for NYC, with other plants to back them up and a completely new set of grid facilities...and a new grid installed in the city andddddd....
WWF made an interesting case for getting off fossil fuels without nuclear power by 2050....problem is, it requires 6,000 exajoules of energy from biomass....basically converting all our agricultural output into burnable biomass that causes tons of pollution (which might reach a state of equilibrium after about 250 years but leaves us with a 9000ppm CO2 debit...not good for the climate or hydrological cycle or anything else in the water. Not to mention that the algae-based biofuel production technology to date has created 1.4 grams of biodiesel. Feasibly, we COULD replace (as high mucky-muck) all the current plants with nuclear in 35 years...all 15,000. Carbon output could drop to an acceptable level and extra capacity could start producing electric railway transport, further reducing greenhouse emissions. ...of course, if you are totally against taking a deeper look at nuclear power in a scientific and unbiased light, then there is little I can do for you. You can't convert all the Baptists.
Did I suggest that I had all the answers? I don't remember insisting that wind and solar power alone would meet our energy requirements.
At least solar technology continues to advance. If we can integrate active solar into building materials themselves for new construction and renovation, the footprint problem will be reduced. Passive solar is already being adopted in some countries, and could help a bit here if it were subsidized.
Your expertise is welcome.
You make a compelling case that we're headed for an energy crunch beyond our capacity to resolve. I realize that a massive nuclear power building spree might fill the gap created by cutting back fossil fuel. I'm just saying that it might create even more problems, of a different kind. Nuclear power plant operation requires a great deal of expertise. Profit considerations encourage companies to hire the least skilled employees they can get away with for a given job. Every energy industry experiences competition between safety needs and profit requirements. My concern is that these inevitable pressures predispose for more catastrophic long range accidents with conventional nuclear than with other forms of energy. Perhaps breeder reactors will be the glorious solution you seem to envision.
How many times do I have to write "NOT Breeder reactors, but Pebble bed light water reactors" before you will do more than skim my posts? I doubt very much you have looked into anything about reactor technology, and I doubt you could describe a basic steam cycle for a 19th century locomotive.
If you think that "unskilled workers" would affect the quality of such a program, think about all the unskilled workers building smart phones. They work pretty damn good, don't they? That is what quality control is all about. What is more, in a plant like this every weld (just like in any shipyard, skyscraper construction etc...) is xrayed and inspected, every joint is pressure tested, every bit of material is analyzed for it's engineering properties before a shipment lot is accepted, and QAI goes on and on at every level. I doubt you would know anything about building anything. It sounds like perhaps you have absolutely no relevant life experience in anything related to physics or engineering to allow you to judge so much as the quality of toothpicks.
Passive solar (black bag on your roof to make some water hot) doesn't work very well in temperate zone winter. It certainly won't do much in an urban environment with dense population, and it would not affect the energy market much at all. Other passive solar applications (greenhouses, skylights etc...) are already in use and available, and don't need much government support, as anyone that can afford a house can have that stuff if they are willing to alter their ideals about what their house should be. Unfortunately, folks just build as big of a house as they can fit onto their lot...
"Passive Solar", which is only vaguely definable, is already subsidized BTW...If you pass certain green building standards, you do indeed get tax compensation and credits. You also get that for what you must be calling "Active solar" which is really referred to as solar-electric.
As if building coal plants, wind turbines and solar farms requires less expertise than building a nuke. Geez. The Navy takes 17 year-olds, trains them for a year, and then they go out and run nuclear powered ships. It really isn't rocket science. Hell, rockets aren't rocket science. Sure they can be complex, as any really useful rocket generally is, but the difference between a modern plant and first gen plants is the same as between the science that SpaceX is using, and the kind of rocket science where you light the fuse and run like hell.
I'm done talking to Baptists for this run.
Anyone seen the movie "Idiiocracy"? If you have, I rest my case. It's more a documentary of the future than the comedy I think it was meant to be.
Some additional information and ideas on this:
The human population expansion is the single most important issue, the one affecting nearly every other global issue and precipitating to local levels. There is a bad habit of looking just at the number as a total: 7 billion now, 9 billion in a decade, etc. This view does not take into account where the population increase is actually happening. The fastest rise in population is in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Latin America and Far East Asia are levelling off. While Australia, Canada, and the US show moderate population increases, these increases are entirely accounted for through immigration. Removing immigration from these countries shows that the numbers are flat or slightly decreasing. Japan, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Great Britain are actually losing population, and in all but Japan that population space is being taken up by immigration, mostly from Africa and the Middle East. Analyzing these patterns, we see the following: Industrialization, modernization, and urbanization decrease population. Why? To answer that, we must look at the lives of women in all these societies. Where urbanization, modernization, etc., happen, women gain increasing control of their lives. These societies need educated, working women to sustain them. In all of these societies, women's education rates and levels have soared. Women are moving into all areas of the workforce. Educated, working women cannot afford to have litters of children. They do not want to spend their most intellectually productive years producing long strings of dependents. Along with educated women comes secularization. All of the urbanized, modernized societies have been throwing off their religiosity. This is what makes the actively religious so suddenly vehement and politically active. And, they are active mostly in the areas where control of women matters most - marriage, birth control, and "family." If we look at the areas where birth rates are rising, what do we find? These societies maintain strict control over women's lives. They use law and social pressure to prevent women from getting education, and from getting independent lives. The entire social rationale regarding women is to make them subservient to and dependent upon men. A principal means for keeping women down is keeping them pregnant. We see in these societies high degrees of religiosity to the point of outright theocracy. We see the religious factions actively involved in preventing women's access to birth control and education (which is by far the most effective form of birth control). We see the madness of opposing condoms because they supposedly support immorality, as if loading the world with millions of starving and miserable children is not immoral. However, even in these societies, we are beginning to see some positive movement. Consider the case of Latin America, once one of the principal sources of global population increase. There, many countries are finally arriving at modernization, notably Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the Domincan Republic, and Costa Rica. Population growth in Latin America is stabilizing. There are similar stories for China, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea. Again, we see the movement of women out of the "traditional" role and into the working environment. We see women increasingly educated. We see women gaining in every area of public life. And we see levelling populations. Urbanization, modernization, and secularization are spreading. Wherever they go, women are seeing to it that marriage is no longer considered a religious rite or institution, that motherhood is not an inevitable destiny, and that they do not have to take orders from men wielding the billyclub of religion. The most important question about these trends is this: will the changes be fast enough?
We only have one problem: Over-breeding. You said it. Everything else is a symptom.
The average citizen's inability to appreciate the consequences of exponential growth will be the killer of a large percent of the world's population. Just a 1% growth rate will double the population in 70 years. The current rate is 1.4% which means a doubling in 50 years – that works out to 14 billion critters by 2062. Not a shiny future.
Exponential growth isn't taught in public school, at least in a way people can understand it intuitively. One example I like. If a water weed doubles in the area of a lake it covers every day, people are pretty good at calculating the early growth. You say it covers 2 square inches on day three, they'll tell you it'll cover 4 square inches on day 5. But if you ask how much of the lake will be covered on the day before the entire surface is covered, they don't immediately realize it's half of the lake. People boating in the 50% open water the day before still feel as if the end point is a long way off, because so much water is free for them to use.
Even educated people often fail to grasp the difference between problems that escalate linearly and and those that escalate exponentially. Hence, the assumption that feedback loops which multiply climate change aren't all that important.
As a biology teacher (retired) I had many opportunities – and took them - to teach the concept of exponential vs linear growth (including the Duckweed growth on a pond). I and another biology teacher wrote a district wide unit on human population growth (the district has 16 high schools). In the unit we placed a heavy emphasis on trying to bring students to a visceral/emotional understanding of the consequences of exponential growth. There are few, if any, examples in which the growth was not a dead end.
A simple way to evaluate doubling time is, 70/% per year growth= doubling time
So a population growing at a 1.5%/year the doubling time would be 46 years 8 months.