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Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

mdsolar Grim (221 comments)

This situation is very grim. I hope the international response in swift and coordinated, and that our people stay healthy.

3 days ago
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Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

mdsolar Fresh water freezes faster than salt (617 comments)

"Here we show that accelerated basal melting of Antarctic ice shelves is likely to have contributed significantly to sea-ice expansion. Specifically, we present observations indicating that melt water from Antarctica’s ice shelves accumulates in a cool and fresh surface layer that shields the surface ocean from the warmer deeper waters that are melting the ice shelves. Simulating these processes in a coupled climate model we find that cool and fresh surface water from ice-shelf melt indeed leads to expanding sea ice in austral autumn and winter." http://www.nature.com/ngeo/jou...

5 days ago
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Solar Powered Technology Enhances Oil Recovery

mdsolar Re:Steam to extract oil that shouldn't be... (81 comments)

This kind of thing gives access to much more fossil carbon than is considered in most carbon inventories because there is no need for the process to produce energy from the fossil carbon. It can just be an energy transfer from renewable energy that won't run out, to buried carbon that that is too low quality to be a fuel on its own. If we consider using renewably generated hydrogen to mobilize the remaining carbon in spent source rock, there is more than enough carbon to make the earth's surface uninhabitable for mammals nearly everywhere. http://www.newscientist.com/bl...

5 days ago
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Solar Powered Technology Enhances Oil Recovery

mdsolar EROEI (81 comments)

This allows the Peak Oil argument that oil won't be extracted if the ratio of energy return on energy invested drops too low (usually below about 3) to be discounted. Values well below one can now be exploited. Additionally, source rock may be injected with renewably sourced hydrogen to get at carbon that normally would be completely immobile. Kharecha and Hansen attempted to look at the effects of Peak Oil on climate. http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs... It appears they may have been seriously too optimistic. Exploiting source rock to mobilize all the carbon using renewable energy could lead to three or four doublings of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In essence, renewable energy provides the means to make most of the continents uninhabitable.

5 days ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar TMI too (444 comments)

TMI discredits the Soviet system.

about a week ago
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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

mdsolar Re:We need Picard (905 comments)

Al least he celebrates Christmas.

about a week ago
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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

mdsolar Worship (905 comments)

One of the arguments for the existence of God is that we are inclined to worship. It is argued that we would not have this god-directed faculty if there were no object upon which to exercise this faculty. Apparently this article urges that hero worship be substituted. Charisma over reason....

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

Well, if you only want to consider what is temporarily in the air, we'd want to see if the lawn watering promoted be electricity use cuts normal dust concentration enough to reduce the overall load. Coal ash has raw chemical edges and is less healthy than dust from the ground for that reason. But the radiation aspect is unimportant. You can read more details here: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/f...

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

Consider laying the ash as a layer on the ground. There will be some radiation from the ground originally which is now screened by the ash. And there will now be just as much replacement radiation coming from the ash. It is neutral. No change in radiation.

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

Actually, no. Fly ash has the same concentration of uranium as soil so it has no effect. Nuclear accidents release very dangerous fission products and a quite a different situation. Burning coal actually reduces radiation exposure because carbon-14 has all decayed in coal. Carbon from coal thus dilutes the carbon-14 in our food supply and thus us as well.

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Renew this! (444 comments)

The hydrocarbon's use as a fuel is ended. As a fuel, it is destroyed. I mention that because the thread was not distinguishing between renewal and recycling.

"Stellar nucleosynthesis, quiescent or explosive, forge the whole variety of nuclei from C to U but LiBeB nuclei are destroyed in the interior of stars, except 7Li which is produced in AGB and novae. The destruction temperatures are 2, 2.5, 3.5, 5.3 and 5 millions of degrees for 6Li, 7Li, 9Be, 10B and 11B respectively. It is worth noting that 7Li and 11B could be produced by neutrino spallation in helium and carbon shells of core collapse supernovae, respectively [96], [91]; however, this mechanism is particularly uncertain depending strongly on the neutrino energy distribution. It is clear that another source is necessary to generate at least 6Li, 9Be, 10B and this is a non thermal mechanism, namely the break up of heavier species (CNO, mainly) by energetic collisions, also called spallation." http://cds.cern.ch/record/3933...

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

Calculating from the report I pointed you to, that should be about 1000 rather than 90 based on the Chernobyl accident alone. Nuclear is too dangerous, and it may turn out to be the most dangerous, but I did not say so.

about a week ago
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US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

mdsolar Re:Strategy (191 comments)

Just as I would be much happier if ICBMs remain unused. LNG terminals are built away from populated areas these days. Perhaps the word "strategy" is one that is hard for you to understand.

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

"A significant release of radiation from the plant's auxiliary building, performed to relieve pressure on the primary system and avoid curtailing the flow of coolant to the core, caused a great deal of confusion and consternation. In an atmosphere of growing uncertainty about the condition of the plant, the governor of Pennsylvania, Richard L. Thornburgh, consulted with the NRC about evacuating the population near the plant. Eventually, he and NRC Chairman Joseph Hendrie agreed that it would be prudent for those members of society most vulnerable to radiation to evacuate the area. Thornburgh announced that he was advising pregnant women and pre-school-age children within a five-mile radius of the plant to leave the area." http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/... describes one of the meltdowns. Perhaps "significant" and "uncontained" means something different to you?

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

So, I guess the melt downs in 1959, 1960, 1966, and 1979 were on purpose?

about a week ago
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If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

mdsolar Re:Fukushima too (444 comments)

Ah, so nuclear power is safe only where people never get lazy?

about a week ago

Submissions

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Techies for climate justice

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  13 hours ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "On Sunday, September 21, hundreds of thousands of people will march in New York City for a strong, international climate treaty – and techies of all types will be there! Explore the tech hub for information about ways you can get involved, whether you’re coming to NYC or planning a solidarity action where you are.

Hackers, Techies, Geeks, Engineers, Builders, Makers, Unite to Disrupt Climate Change and Build Climate Justice

Here’s all the latest logistical information for the day of the March. Check back here often for updates.
Assembly:

The Technology Contingent – i.e., all of the tech groups together – will assemble on Central Park West around 75th Street on the day of the March. You will be able to enter the CPW from 72nd and 77th Streets only.

        You may enter the block as early as 8:00 am on the day of the March.
        ThoughtWorks and friends will gather at 10:00 for an open-source picnic in Central Park at the statue of Simon Bolivar (just northeast of Sixth Avenue /Avenue of the Americas and Central Park South)

The Technology Contingent will step off from 58th Street to take its place within the march whenever the “We Have Solutions!” theme group reaches Columbus Circle. We’re anticipating this will be sometime between 12:00 and 1:00, but it could be earlier and may very well be later.

According to Science Friday, there will be a gathering of scientists nearby at 79th Street and Central Park West near the Museum of Natural History as well. http://www.sciencefriday.com/s..."

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Three in every four nuclear power builds worldwide are running late

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A review of the 66 nuclear reactors 'under construction' worldwide shows that 49 are running behind schedule, including all five in the US and most in China. The long and unpredictable build times of nuclear plants, and the extra costs that ensue, are a compelling reason not to depend on the technology for either power or to mitigate climate change.

As of this month, 49 of 66 reactors under construction around the world are running behind schedule, according to an updated analysis conducted by the authors of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014.

The study takes into account several delay announcements in recent weeks:

        USA: two reactors, Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station Unit 2 and Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station Unit 3;
        South Korea: two reactors — Shin-Hanul-2 and Shin-Wolsong-2;
        and Finland: Olkiluoto-3.

Little is known about the progress on four nuclear reactors in India. All the other reactor projects have been under way for less than two years, which makes it difficult to identify delays in the absence of full access to information.

The study highlights the two EPR-design reactors currently under construction: Finland's Olkiluoto-3 and France's Flamanville-3. Both are running about $7 billion over their initial budgets and now projected to cost more than $11 billion.

EDF's Flamanville reactor was due to be completed by 2012 at a cost of €3.3 billion, but is now projected for completion in 2016 at a cost of €8.5 billion.

Finland's Olkiluoto-3 reactor, the first EPR construction project, is likely to be a decade behind schedule upon delivery, with a projected completion date of 2018. Construction of the 1.6GW plant began in 2005 and was originally due for completion in 2009."

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Busy Days Precede a March Focusing on Climate Change

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In a three-story warehouse in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, hundreds of people are working to turn the People’s Climate March planned for Sunday into a visual spectacle.

There were victims of Hurricane Sandy from the Rockaways toiling with artists on a 30-foot inflatable life preserver, and immigrant artists constructing a papier-mâché tree embedded with axes. Elsewhere, religious leaders were building an ark and scientists were constructing a chalkboard covered with calculations about carbon.

The run-up to what organizers say will be the largest protest about climate change in the history of the United States has transformed New York City into a beehive of planning and creativity, drawing graying local activists and young artists from as far away as Germany.

“This is the final crunch, the product of six months of work to make the People’s March a big, beautiful expression of the climate movement,” said Rachel Schragis, a Brooklyn-based artist and activist who is coordinating the production of floats, banners and signs."

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Obama Presses Leaders to Speed Ebola Response

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  3 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "President Obama on Tuesday challenged world powers to accelerate the global response to the Ebola outbreak that is ravaging West Africa, warning that unless health care workers, medical equipment and treatment centers were swiftly deployed, the disease could take hundreds of thousands of lives.

“This epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Obama said here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he met with doctors who had just returned from West Africa. The world, he said, “has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States intends to do more.”

Even as the president announced a major American deployment to Liberia and Senegal of medicine, equipment and 3,000 military personnel, global health officials said that time was running out and that they had weeks, not months, to act. They said that although the American contribution was on a scale large enough to make a difference, a coordinated assault in Africa from other Western powers was essential to bringing the virus under control."

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The Canadians Are Coming

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  4 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Hundreds of Canadians will join tens of thousands of people in the streets of New York City next weekend for one of the largest climate change mobilizations in history.

Renewable energy advocates of all ages will be gathering as a part of the Tar Sands Free bloc at the march, which will coincide with the UN climate summit in New York.

"While this will be one of the largest climate marches in history, it also isn't just about size. It's about showing that people are standing alongside those impacted most by climate change and extreme extraction," said Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, who will be marching in New York. "People are impacted from the extraction of carbon polluting industries such as the Tar Sands and fracking, as well as the way to the extreme impacts of climate change."

Travelling from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston and Halifax, among other cities, the Canadian marchers will join communities impacted by climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy, and Indigenous peoples resisting tar sands and other extreme extraction both in Canada and abroad."

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Decades After Nuclear Test, U.S. Studies Cancer Fallout

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  4 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Nearly 70 years after the U.S. conducted the world's first atomic-bomb test here in the New Mexico desert, federal researchers are slated to visit the state this month to begin studying whether some residents developed cancer due to the blast.

As part of the long anticipated project, set to start Sept. 25, investigators with the National Cancer Institute will interview people who lived in the state around the time of the 1945 Trinity test and assess the effects of consuming food, milk and water that may have been contaminated by the explosion.

For years, residents of the rural, heavily Hispanic villages near the test site have claimed that a mysterious wave of cancer has swept through this dusty stretch of south-central New Mexico, decimating families and prompting calls for the government to determine whether radiation exposure played a role."

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Leading philanthropic foundations can create climate "tipping point"

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  5 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In the largest and most international declaration ever published by environmentalists, 160 winners of environmental prizes from 46 countries, have today called on the world’s foundations to use their financial power to fight global warming.

In an appeal published in the International New York Times they call on foundations and philanthropists to dig into their endowments to create a tipping point in climate action – “to trigger a survival reflex in society.”

The world’s philanthropic foundations own endowments worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

They invest those endowments to generate returns from which they can pay out grants or make loans. They use these to fund a multitude of causes, but as things stand only a minority tackle climate change, either as part of their mission or as their major focus.

Yet climate change is the issue that is arguably the single biggest threat to civilization."

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Over 100 Swarthmore Students To Attend Climate March in NYC Next Weekend

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  5 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "It has been reported already in the NYT that students at Pace University (which is in NY) will be marching to urge the UN to get moving on climate change, but students from neighboring states are planning to be there in numbers as well.

"Over 100 Swarthmore students will travel to New York City to attend the People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21. Swarthmore Mountain Justice has partnered with Earthlust to organize bus transportation for Tri-Co students and other community members who wish to attend the march, which is expected to draw 250,000 people.

Stephen O’Hanlon ‘17, of Swarthmore Mountain Justice, described Swatties’ attendance at the Climate March as a way to “show the power that [the divestment movement] has build through divestment campaignsaround the country.”

Hazlett Henderson ‘17, also a member of Mountain Justice, hopes that the march will renew enthusiasm for climate justice on campus. After the march, she said, “a lot of people are going to be very excited by divestment, because this is such a big gathering of people. It’s going to show how much support and how much energy there is surrounding this issue.”"

Hopefully the UN will listen since these are the people who will suffer if that does not happen."

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Solar Power-Based Enhanced Oil Recovery Technology

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Royal Dutch Shell has teamed with a sovereign investment fund from Oman to invest $53 million in a company that manufactures solar power equipment designed for increasing oil production. Glasspoint Solar Inc. installs aluminium mirrors near oil fields that concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water.

The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. This concept of enhanced oil recovery involves high pressure injection of hot fluids to recover heavy crude oil. The use of renewable energy like solar power makes great economic sense, as the fuel cost associated with this enhanced oil recovery technology is practically zero.

Shell hopes to employ this technology in its oil fields in Oman. The company hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with enhanced oil recovery operations. A large-scale successful implementation of this technology could be a game changer for major consumers like India and the US. Both have substantial oil reserves, but are unable to tap them due to high costs involved in heavy oil recovery."

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A social movement on climate change?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a week ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The ozone layer was saved http://news.slashdot.org/story... without a huge amount of fuss. Scientists explained the problem to governments. Governments went to Montreal and came back with a treaty. The progress gets checked periodically and the problem gets fixed. There were certainly people writing letters to their representatives and there was a broad public health initiative to use sunblock but it is hard to say that change came through a social movement the way, for example, apartheid was defeated. But, on climate change, basically a scientific issue like ozone, an effort to spark a social movement has been long running. Al Gore's film and education campaign were an early effort. The StepItUp and 350.org efforts are more recent. And, Stanford recently decided to divest from coal companies, http://news.slashdot.org/story... reminiscent of the anti-apartheid movement. Now, a mass march is planned for September 21 in NYC to get the UN to do more on climate change with a film called "Disruption" released on line in concert with this effort. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... Perhaps new combinations of social media, social movement and science will make a difference."
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BU Faculty Petition Urges Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In an effort to combat climate change, 245 BU [Boston University] faculty members have signed a petition asking the University to divest oil, gas, and coal companies from its endowment.

The petition was presented by four faculty members and one student yesterday to President Robert A. Brown, who said he would forward it to the trustees when they meet in two weeks and to the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which was created last year. Brown said the trustees had already been approached by the student group DivestBU and had the climate change issue on their radar.

Meeting with the petition presenters in a conference room at One Silber Way, Brown called climate change “the most important issue this advisory committee will face” in the foreseeable future. “Certainly,” he said, “this will get the full attention of that committee and the trustees and administration.”

“The climate change crisis is threatening life on Earth, and demands immediate and transformative actions by individuals, governments, businesses, and institutions,” the petition reads."

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As Terror Fears Spike, Nuke Plant Near Nation's Capital Practically Unguarded

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "About 50 miles outside Washington D.C. is a nuclear power plant that sits on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the sort of place the government has warned is vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

But an investigation conducted by The Daily Caller found that anybody can enter the property of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, drive through the front gates, park not far from a nuclear reactor and have no contact of any kind with security.

A reporter and videographer drove from the nation’s capital last Friday to Calvert Cliffs and twice accessed the power plant site. No one stopped or even seemed to notice them.

TheDC was able to proceed through an unmanned security checkpoint — the guard booth was empty and padlocked — and, minutes later, enter a parking lot about 550 feet away from one of the plant’s two nuclear reactors.

On one visit, reporters did not see a single security guard anywhere. On a subsequent visit, a lone marked security car passed by without slowing down or asking questions.

At one point, a large civilian truck — roughly of the size of the trucks used in terror bombings around the world, including at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 — rolled through the front gates and approached the reactors without being stopped.

TheDC visited Calvert Cliffs after being alerted by someone who recently visited the nuclear facility last month and became concerned about the apparent lack of security.

“That facility is the softest target I have ever seen in my life,” the visitor recalled."

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UC Berkeley Faculty Association urges divestment from fossil fuel companies

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The UC Berkeley Faculty Association urged the UC Board of Regents to divest funds from fossil fuel companies Sunday, just five days before the UC Task Force on Sustainable Investing will present its own recommendations to the regents.

The association joins the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly, which have both divested from fossil fuels and encouraged the regents to do the same. Berkeley City Council, which in 2013 became the first city council in the nation to divest its own funds, will be deciding whether to add its support Sept. 9.

The association’s call to divest also comes before the regents address the issue at their meeting Sept. 17 to 18....

The total investments managed by the University of California amount to about $91 billion. Of that $91 billion, about $10 billion is invested in the energy sector. The university invests about $3 billion in companies with high fossil fuel reserves within that sector, said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

In its statement of support, the association paralleled this campaign to previous university divestment movements, including divestment from companies doing business in apartheid South Africa in 1985 and from tobacco interests in 2001."

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Lyndon Johnson's 'Daisy' ad, which changed the world of politics, turns 50

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A little girl, no taller than the weeds that surround her, stands in a field and picks petals from a delicate daisy. She quietly counts each one.

Suddenly an ominous voice can be heard counting down from 10. She looks up as the camera zooms in on her face, all the way into her iris. And then the unthinkable happens: A mushroom cloud.

Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the famous "Daisy" ad run by Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign. The aim of the one-minute spot, widely known as the first political attack ad, was to frame Republican Barry Goldwater as a warmonger.

"No one had attacked anyone like that before," said Robert Mann, a Louisiana State University professor who literally wrote the book about the Daisy ad. "It was a pretty strong, implicit charge — that my opponent is a reckless cowboy who will destroy your children in a nuclear holocaust.""

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Disused nuclear barge to be scrapped in Galveston

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "A World War II-era Liberty ship converted to a barge-mounted nuclear reactor will be towed from Virginia to Galveston to be scrapped.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to have a public hearing Tuesday in Galveston to detail the plan for the scrapping of the USS Sturgis.

Galveston was chosen for the scrapping because of its proximity to facilities that accept the sort of low-level radioactive waste and other toxic, discarded material to be removed from the ship, said Hans Honerlah, a Corps of Engineers program manager and health physicist.

Towing the ship to Galveston to be broken up is safer than removing the waste at its present berth at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in the James River of Virginia, he said.

“The higher risk is trucking, followed by rail. Towing it here (to Galveston) is safer than having a lot of trucks traveling across the country,” Honerlah told the Galveston County Daily News

According to the Corps of Engineers, the Sturgis was outfitted with a nuclear reactor to generate electric power for military and civilian operations in the Panama Canal Zone in the 1960s. The reactor was shut down in 1976, the fuel was removed and it was mothballed in 1978."

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Aging Nuclear Reactors May Close in Japan

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Japan will push nuclear operators to draft plans to scrap a quarter of the country's 48 reactors, which are either too old or too costly to upgrade to meet new standards imposed after the Fukushima disaster, the Nikkei reported on Friday.

The government is betting that by forcing older units considered more vulnerable to disaster to shut down it may gain public support to restart newer units, the Nikkei reported.

All reactors in Japan have been shut down after the 2011 nuclear crisis at Fukushima caused by a major earthquake and tsunami.

Public opinion turned against nuclear power after the disaster, but the governments wants to restart units deemed safe by a new more independent regulator and cut Japan's reliance on expensive imports of fossil fuels."

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Dangerous sodium reactor spent fuel dissolved at Savannah River Site

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Dangerously corroded spent nuclear fuel stored at Savannah River Site has been dissolved after a federal report indicated it needed immediate processing.

The fuel was from the Sodium Reactor Experiment, which launched in California in the 1950s to determine whether nuclear power could provide household electricity. The sodium-cooled reactor made history in 1957 by powering homes, and two years later, it became the first U.S. reactor to experience a meltdown.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the site’s management and operations contractor, dissolved 147 bundles of the fuel stored in the L-Area Disassembly Basin. The work took about two years to complete.

It was processed at the H-Canyon facility, the nation’s only operating hardened nuclear chemical separations plant where certain types of plutonium, highly-enriched uranium and aluminum-clad spent fuel can be processed for disposal.

The sodium reactor material was prepared for disposition in the late 1970s and then shipped to SRS. The fuel was made of a thorium-uranium alloy that made it unsuitable for use in fabricating fuel for nuclear energy power plants such as the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In 2011, the Sodium Reactor Experiment material was singled out by a federal oversight panel as needing urgent attention. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board warned that at least three of the 36 cans of material had ruptured from corrosion; and that uranium fuel in one can was so corroded that it left 36 kilos of oxide sludge at the bottom, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.

The fuel was dissolved with other high-aluminum fuel from L-Area. The solution will be transferred to the Defense Waste Processing Facility at SRS where it will be mixed with glass and “vitrified” before permanently sealed in steel canisters."

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A worrying factor in Ukraine's chaos: 15 nuclear reactors

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "As Ukraine looks like a country teetering on the edge of an out-right war, there's an important factor to keep an eye on: The country's 15 nuclear reactors.

"There haven’t been many conflicts in states with nuclear power facilities in the past, so we're really entering unknown territory here," said Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Russia and Eurasia Program. NATO has already shown its concern, sending a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine in April to advise the government on the safety of its infrastructure.

There is a historical component to the anxiety: In April 1986, a reactor of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded, causing the worst nuclear disaster in history, and a high rate of cancer among emergency workers and people living in the affected areas even today. Chernobyl happened in a time of peace: Today, Ukraine's reactors operate near a war zone.

Closest to the fighting is Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station, which houses six separate reactors....

There are doubts about the safety mechanisms in place in these power plants. German public broadcaster ARD has warned that "a second Chernobyl disaster will be inevitable if the fighting in Ukraine cannot be stopped." Sergej Boschko, who heads Ukraine's nuclear regulatory agency, told ARD that "no nuclear power plant is protected against military attacks. They are not made for war, they are made for peace."

Nuclear material also presents a problem: ARD reports that 100 containers of burned nuclear fuels were found in the open air 120 miles away from the front line. This waste product is radioactive and dangerous if stored incorrectly."

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TVA's costly reactor illuminates nuclear challenge

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "One of the keys to the Tennessee Valley Authority's efforts to meet strict new rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies behind walls more than a foot thick and beneath more than a half-million pounds of metal.

The walls form a massive concrete containment building at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant where TVA officials say they are on pace to start operating the federal utility's latest reactor in December 2015.

That means Watts Bar could have the nation's first new commercial nuclear power unit to come online in the 21st century. As the second reactor at the plant, it will produce enough electricity to power 650,000 homes.

But the Watts Bar project also illustrates the challenges facing the U.S. nuclear industry. Nuclear plants are expensive, complicated and time-consuming to build. They require huge sums of upfront capital — the new Watts Bar reactor could cost as much as $4.5 billion, nearly double earlier estimates."

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Finland's nuclear plant start delayed again

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Areva-Siemens, the consortium building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to late 2018 — almost a decade later than originally planned.

Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes."

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Journals

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Lessons not Learned

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a year ago Lessons Learned is a sad but effective way to reduce accidents and fatalities. Taking the time to investigate accidents, find their causes and eliminate the occasions of future accidents may be the most profound way to show respect for accident victims. But these days, we don't seem to care. The National Transportation Safety Board has halted accident investigations. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has posted no fatalgrams for three consecutive coal mining fatalities. One occurred in Wyoming where accident investigation can be especially effective in preventing future accidents.

Accidents are preventable, but only if we find out what is causing them and make appropriate changes. If a recall does not get issued because a dangerous defect is not identified owing to lack of accident investigations, that means needless deaths.

Delayed medical research and lost lab mouse genetic lines probably mean the same thing. But failure to honor the victims of accidents with full investigations that might bring some meaning to an otherwise senseless tragedy seems especially callous.

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Shutting down the right to petition

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a year ago The Bill of Rights includes a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. When the government has erred, the people must demand redress. But what happens when the government makes a mistake, and then shuts down the petition process?

That is exactly what is happening now at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

"Last year, a federal appeals court sided with the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which argued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrongly assumed spent reactor fuel eventually would move to a permanent waste repository, even though the Obama administration canceled the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada."

Previously, the courts had ruled that Yucca Mountain would not work, and data fabrication by government scientists had put into question the ability of the Department of Energy to even manage such a project.

As a result, the NRC is not allowed to issue licenses for nuclear power plants until it clears up this mistake, though is seem happy to give up on proper procedure and allow nuclear power plants to operate without a license.

So, now the people are supposed to have their say, exercising their right to petition their government through the public comment period. But the NRC is closing up its ears, cancelling public meetings and shutting down our constitutional right.

While it may be a fair point brought up by "Janet Phelan Kotra, who worked for the commission for more than 28 years and served as project manager for the waste confidence issue for 14 years, [when she] said the proposed new rule is improperly based on the idea that the commission has confidence in the safety of long-term storage at reactor sites rather than on confidence that a permanent repository will become available in a reasonable time frame." Telling everyone else to just shut up seems like a violation of a very primary right.

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Is Indian Point Next to Close?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  1 year,19 days

Nuclear power plants are retiring early all over the country and planned power uprates are being canceled. With the recent decision to close Vermont Yankee, it comes to five closed reactors and five canceled uprates.

Now Entergy, the troubled owner of Indian Point close to New York City, is issuing denials that it will close Indian Point just as it had until so recently issued denials that it would close Vermont Yankee.

A second law suit has been filed against Energy by security employees saying the Indian Point plant is vulnerable to attack. And with the checkered history of violations by Entergy on this score, it seems likely that the coverups described in the suit have been occurring as per usual. Vermont Yankee was on the list of the ten most likely to retire early constructed by analyst Mark Cooper (linked above).

  • Palisades (Repair impending, local opposition)
  • Ft. Calhoun (Outage, poor performance)
  • Nine Mile Point (Site size saves it, existing contract))
  • Fitzpatrick (High cost but offset by high market clearing price)
  • Ginna (Single unit with negative margin, existing contract)
  • Oyster Creek (Already set to retire early)
  • Vt. Yankee (Tax and local opposition)
  • Millstone (Tax reasons)
  • Clinton (Selling into tough market)
  • Indian Point (License extension, local opposition)

So is Indian Point. I'd guess that chances are better than nine to one that it will be next.
 

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Fossil Fuel Use Cuts Body's Internal Radiation Burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Fossil fuel use cuts body's internal radiation burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are be immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Mitigating deep oil spills

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A mile below the surface of the ocean, conditions are different. The pressure of the water increases the boiling point of the water above the autoignition temperature of crude oil. Water could act as a sort of diesel chamber at that depth. With an oil spill plume rising from the ocean floor, mixing enough air from the surface into the oil could consume the oil completely in a self-sustaining reaction. Heat from the reaction would heat the surrounding water and turbulence would provide complete mixing of the oil and air, oxidizing the oil to carbon dioxide and water. Getting the air to the sea floor might be accomplished with off-the-shelf equipment. Electric air compressors could be arranged in stages down to the bottom each stage feeding a standard fire hose within its tolerance, with pressure increasing from stage to stage to balance the water pressure at the stage depth. Electric power might be supplied from a naval vessel. Once air can be introduced to the oil plume, a standard flare can initiate the reaction. Hot complete combustion at the bottom of the ocean may have greater environmental benefits compared with incomplete combustion at the ocean surface. Because off-the-shelf equipment is involved, this response might be faster than other responses.

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Vermont Senate Debate on Entergy Video

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Video streaming of the Vermont Senate Debate on Vermont Yankee is here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?NoCache=1&Dato=20100224&Kategori=NEWS03&Lopenr=100224011&Ref=AR&template=mogulus

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Slashdot Stalker Replies

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Apparently there are limits even to replying to replies to your own journal entry. So, this is to say welcome to my journal stalker. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1561690

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VT Nuclear Expert on DemocracyNow

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A slashdot stalker has been pestering me about dry cooling so I've used up my replies for now. For those following the Vermont Yankee saga, Arnie Gundersen is on DemocracyNow! today providing details. http://www.democracynow.org/

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Tuppence in the Sun

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 6 years ago Mr. Dawes Sr. If you invest your tuppence wisely in the bank, safe and sound, soon that tuppence, safely invested in the bank, will compound! And you'll achieve that sense of conquest, as your affluence expands! In the hands of the directors, who invest as propriety demands!

The lyrics to the song that follows this bit of wisdom in the musical Mary Poppins can be found here. The next song, Step In Time is much more energetic and it is perhaps understandable that a song about compound interest would fail to catch on.

We are seeing a lack of propriety these days in a number of financial transactions. The slicing and dicing of risk seems to have led to a questions of what value many securities have if any at all. But, if you want to take on projects that extend over a substantial period of time, credit markets are likely to be a part of what you do.

One thing we need to do is transform how we get energy and a number of options include long term components. Nuclear power, for example, extends so far into a climatically uncertain future that it is seeking extra help with finance through federal loan guaranties.

While renewable energy is forever, its implementation can be taken in 10 to 25 year chunks so it fits much better with standard lending terms. Further, risk is low so while raising capital though venture mechanisms can happen, it is also attractive to banks, especially since renewable energy equipment can serve as insured collateral. This is why so much of the financing for renewable energy is coming from institutions like Credit Lyonnais and Morgan Stanley especially in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, solar power equipment is being rolled into mortgages for new home construction while installers for existing homes are getting savvy at helping customers find financing through secured credit based on increased equity.

But, what if you want to follow the commercial sector model of separating ownership of the equipment from the use of the equipment in the residential sector. Individually financing each deal, as might work for supplying Walmart with solar power, becomes time consuming and thus expensive. What is needed is an aggregate instrument. One way that aggregation has been used with propriety is the securitization of leases. CVS, for example, financed its eastern expansion based on the security provided by the fact that it had property leases to conduct its business. This brought them lower cost financing since the aggregated leases were more secure than individual leases.

One way to secure low cost credit to allow the long term use of solar power on homes is to secure the credit on the basis of an aggregate of rental contracts which assure repayment of the debt. So long as those contracts are sufficiently attractive that few of them are likely to be broken (they save customers money) then you have a low risk security that does not require high interest. This is the form of financing that Citizenre (discussed here in February) has adopted for its solar power equipment rental business. Shaving the cost of financing puts it in a better competitive position than attempting to work out deal-by-deal financing, so much so, that it can afford to ignore state-level rebates available to individual purchasers of solar power equipment.

There is certainly room for venture capital in the solar power business, especially for high risk new technology development. But, for deployment of proven technology, the model being adopted in the commercial sector using more traditional financing leads to cost savings that are important for market competitiveness. Carrying this over to the residential market, with its much larger roof space resource, will likely rebalance the solar market towards an acceleration of its current 30% annual growth.

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Energy storage options

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The closets of fossil energy are crammed full of skeletons. It is long past time to clean them out and as it turns out, renewable energy may need the storage space, not for skeletons, but rather to smooth the transition to full conversion to renewable energy.

Two newspaper articles are out talking about storage of renewable energy. Both articles fail to notice that the US grid already runs on about 20% stored renewable energy through hydroelectric power. About 24 GW of that capacity can run backwards rather than just throttle so we already have quite a lot of what we might need. And, the articles don't notice that distributed renewable power is not very intermittent. The wind is always blowing somewhere and clouds rarely cover all of a continent. The trick is to shuttle the power from where it is produced to where it is needed. If you have enough capacity to meet the peak use, then you don't really care about storing the extra power you don't need when you are using less, you just find something fun and interesting to do with it. Remember, renewable energy is extravagant. Think of the amazing fecundity and diversity of a rain forest. It is about prosperity not scarcity.

But, before we get to the point where we produce more energy than we use most of the time, methods of storage can help to retire fossil energy plants more quickly. So, lets just list the kinds of storage that are covered in the articles and on the Real Energy blog so we know a few of the options. We'll organize it in the types of energy physicists like to use.

Thermal:

Hot or cold, thermal storage adds a certain amount of extra time to use the energy. In some cases like the high thermal mass house, you are just avoiding using energy that you don't really need. The daily fluctuations of external temperature are not important with good insulation and a high heat capacity. In one article ice is used to shift electricity use from day time to night time and also save on over-all use while in the another, molten salts are used to keep solar energy for use at night. You can see how these might work together.

Chemical:

Batteries have the potential for large scale storage and are mentioned in both articles. The anticipated sizes run up to 6 MWh. The batteries mention in the article are not exactly flow batteries which are also used together with wind farms and run up to 12 MWh. The blog also looked at using ammonia as a chemical storage method and producing hydrogen for later use is also a chemical method though it experiences high thermal loses. Aluminum can also be used for chemical storage and used to produce hydrogen on demand.

Mechanical:

Here we have two choices, potential energy or kinetic energy. Both articles mention gas pressure storage, essentially a form of of potential energy similar to damming a river. The size of the facility mentioned is about 100 MW and presumably can run for a day or two. About half the energy comes from compressed air and half from natural gas. One article mentions flywheels which store kinetic energy. In this case the flywheel stores 18 MWs or 5 kWh. One can reduce the tensile strength requirements for a flywheel and increase its capacity by usinging a magenetic track. Then the strength requirements are compressive and much simpler.

Electrical:

Capacitors are used to store power when very large currents pulses are needed as for example in inertial confinement fusion. These capacitors store about 3 kWh. Super capacitors are less bulky and are being developed for transportation applications.

Magnetic:

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage is used in some applications with capacities moving toward 20 MWh.

Electromagnetic:

For very high energy density, excited nuclear states might be used. This is actually a new listing, but not very practical just now.

The complaint in the articles is that power storage adds cost to the the electric power distribution system. But, pretty clearly, the decreasing cost of renewable energy is making storage more attractive to utilities. Thermal storage in solar plants that work with thermal energy anyway is a natural extension to their capabilities. Similarly, those that work using chemical energy are designed to store energy from the beginning. It is clear that flywheel and magnetic storage are already being used for power conditioning. Very shortly, the cost of renewable power will drop well below the cost of other sources. For wind, it is already the cheapest way to produce power in many places. As it turns out, once we're ready to chase the skeletons our of the fossil energy closet, we'll be able to put in a great new closet organizer with slots for all kinds of storage that will make the dumping of the fossils all the more rapid. Energy storage is not an Achilles' heel for renewable energy, but rather a stepping stone to full deployment. Daniel Arvizu should know better.

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An Air of Leadership

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The US negotiated the Montreal Protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol in the 1980's to control chlorofluorocarbons which had been shown to disrupt the Earth's ozone layer, allowing ultraviolet radiation to penetrate to ground level. This treaty has, until recently, been considered one of the most successful international treaties ever made. Control of these chemicals has reduced the rate of destruction of the ozone layer, preserving both health and the productivity of agriculture.

The Montreal Protocol was taken an a model for the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases which cause global warming. The problem of greenhouse gases is considered to be more difficult because the mechanism of replacement of chloroflurocarbons needed to make the Montreal Protocol work is not so clearly available for the most important greenhouse gas, CO2. Further, there was a large disparity in the level of greenhouse gas emissions between developed and developing countries and reducing greenhouse gas emissions was thought to impact economic development. So, developing countries were left out of the first round on emissions reductions and had no responsibility, on their own, to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but rather were to be a testing ground for the efforts of developed nations to assist in economic development while also helping to avoid some of the worst emissions.

While the US negotiated this treaty, there were clear indications that it could not be ratified without stronger commitments from developing countries. In essence, the US negotiated in bad faith.

Now, the problem of economic development is catching up with the Montreal Protocol as well. The substituted materials worked when the demand for them was limited largely to the developed nations, but now economic development has brought in a larger pool of demand http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/business/23cool.html. The substitute chemicals, while better, do not bode well with a much increased load. The solution for this problem may well end up being further substitution such as magnetic refrigeration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_refrigeration. But the fact of the problem raises another issue. If the Montreal Protocol needs revision, who can provide the leadership to bring this about?

US leadership was crucial to both the Montreal and the Kyoto Protocols but US credibility now lies in shambles because in never intended to implement the second protocol. Yet, the US has most at risk should the first protocol not succeed since mid-latitude food production will be at risk. I would suggest that it is time to end the patronizing attitude that divides the world into developed and developing countries and admit that leadership could come from those who have been left out. China is already taking a lead on renewable energy http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/33389.html, and perhaps India could bring us together again on ozone depletion. Hey, Ross, what's that great whooshing sound?

It's everyone else filling the vacuum we've left in credibility space.

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Follow the money

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The NYT is reporting that the recent job loss in Silicon Valley is turning around. The reason: clean energy technology http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/technology/29valley.html?_r=1&ref=science&oref=slogin. From the article:

After five years of job losses, Silicon Valley is hiring again. The turnaround coincides with a huge increase of investment in the emerging category of clean environment technology.

Now, slashdoters have certainly beat them to market in the residential sector http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users-selling-solar.html but the larger commercial sector is wide open. The bandwagon is rolling owing to economic realities. The article also covers some Silicon Valley Blight issues.

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Your opinion could be paid for by ExxonMobil

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago As material from the web site of Sen. James Inhofe makes Slashdot's front page http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/18/0421242 in what is basically an ad hominum attach on a Weather Channel meteorologist, the tactics of ExxonMobil in using smoke, mirrors and hot air http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf to slow our response to global warming is revealed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. From the Executive Summary:

In an effort to deceive the public about the reality of global warming, ExxonMobil has underwritten the most sophisticated and most successful disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease.

It goes on to say that information laundering was used to attempt to confuse the public.

If you don't know that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being fed to you, how can you be sure your opinion is your own?

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Slashdot is a lobbyist

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago I've come across this site http://www.grassrootsfreedom.com/ which hopes to stop the lobbying reform, which is part of the first 100 hours package the democrats are passing, from applying to normal political organizing. Basically, you'd have to report to the government if you asked people to contact their representatives. So, on issues like net neutrality, or GPL'd software or intelectual property slashdot might be considered a lobbyist. The National Review http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDUxMzM5NmNiMjFkMThhMjgzZjhmMDkyZGVmYzBhZjk is up in arms as are a number of conservative groups that organize letter writing campaigns. Should slasdot organize a letter writing campaign about this?

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Internet radio

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Michael and Justine Willis Toms have been broadcasting for years on public radio and shortwave. Their program, New Dimensions, consists of hour long interviews in depth with people from all over the map. When I was in Hawaii I made time for two programs, both on the radio. One was a series of lectures by Alan Watts and the other was New Dimensions. When I came back to the East Coast, I missed those left coast salients into Hawaii's placid culture. Google helped me get back a bit of that when I found New Dimensions streamed at http://www.newdimensions.org/ with a program every week.

Recently, New Dimensions has expanded it's on line offering with a rotation of 6 programs, refreshed every week. This is called NDIR, New Dimensions Internet Radio. At the same time it has required a registration for the previous free offer of the program of the week. As I am writing, an interview with David Bohm ends and Larry Dossey begins. Later the Dali Lama will be followed by the pretty funny Swami Beyondananda. You can check it out at http://www.newdimensions.org/ndir-pop.html.

Now, why is this a slashdot topic? Real Player is very annoying. It does not work well as a radio. Especially, is does not have a timed off switch. So, because New Dimensions is something you want to listen to when you actually have the time to listen, and one of those times might be just before you go to sleep, here is a bash script to shut it down after an hour. This works with Fedora Core 6. It is crude, and it will mess with you're use of crontab so I've tied it to the gnome-cromagnon.png icon in it's applet launcher. Enjoy adding functionality to the intentionally broken Real Player.

date --date='1 hour' +%M' '%H' '%d' '%m' '%a' kill -9 ' > ctab2
ps x | grep real | grep Sl > ctab3
read realproc realprocext < ctab3
read killtime < ctab2
echo $killtime $realproc > ctab
crontab ctab

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American Interests in the Middle East

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago American vital interests in the Middle East, cited in the President's speech last night http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/us/11ptext.html are really two fold. The first is that uninterrupted oil supplies be available and the second that theocratic states not become so powerful that they pose a challenge to our position as the only superpower. Our military presence in the region is related to the first interest while our support of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and a number of smaller Arab states is related to the second. They are also intertwined in the sense that our support of those states enables our military presence in the region through bases and ports which support logistics.

The strategic picture changes substantially if our interests change. The ability of theocraticists to imagine a strategically significant state is enabled by the presence of ready cash available through the sale of oil at prices much higher than the cost of production. Saudi oil income is easily diverted to theocratically minded organizations while Iranian oil income is already attached to such a system. In Iraq, oil revenues, such as they are, are also available to those who are sympathetic to the theocratic movement both legitimately and through massive corruption. In short, the theocratic movement is well funded because there is such a large cash flow to skim.

Changing this situation by eliminating our use of Middle East oil can only help. Oil is a global market, so eliminating our use of Middle East oil really means eliminating our use of oil altogether. Taking US demand for oil out of the market reduces the price of oil to much closer to its cost of production which is going up in the Middle East as more elaborate extraction methods are needed. The cartel structure for Middle East oil sales would have a hard time surviving a market with slim profit margins since production quotas would be difficult to allocate.

If America has no demand for oil, then our interests in maintaining the flow of Middle East oil devolve to support of our allies' needs for such a flow. However, our most important allies are already committed to reducing their use of fossil fuels generally (apologies to those down under) so it is not so hard to envision a world where the free navigation of the waters near the Middle East are of little strategic importance.

The technology is available now to eliminate our use of oil and to save money at the same time, so it seems like a strategic approach to the Middle East and Iraq would be preferable to the tactical approach the President is advocating.

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Why Renewables Displace Nukes First

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Renewable energy is intermittent. Solar is in the day time, wind is available when it is available. But, one fine sunny cool breezy day our renewable capacity is going to meet total demand. What is a regulator to do? The renewables will be too dispersed to tell them to shutdown. All the rapid response generating capacity will already be shutdown because the renewables are free and who wants to compete with that. Hydro is in the middle of a mandated water allocation flow.

So, rather than blow the grid, the regulators will call the nuclear plant and tell it to go off line. But to do that, it has to shut down so it won't be up again for three days. A week later it happens again, and so it goes that spring and the next fall and all of a sudden, the cost of operation of the reactor just went through the roof. The nuclear industry whines about base load and all that but shortly the economics take over and that plant is decommissioned because it just isn't flexible enough to work in a renewables dominated grid.

At this point, or a little sooner, it is realized that what we really need is energy storage, fast in to handle over production, and slow out as a reservoir to handle night time. Any thoughts on what that technology would look like would be appreciated.

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Solar Power the Amway Way

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Solar photovoltaic power is competitive with retail electricity. If you could borrow at 3% and your electric bill were about $200 per month, you could buy a $30K solar PV system that produced all your power usage over the course of a year for the same amount that you pay for electricity now with a 30 year loan. This works in the states that have net metering laws. http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/netmetering.shtml

But, borrowing at 3% is little difficult to come by. Another way to look at it is that at today's retail rates for electricity, you get a 3% return on investment in a solar PV system. You'll get a higher effective rate of return if electric rates go up. This ties into inflation which might make borrowing even at a higher rate (than 3%) make sense but I'm not going to try to calculate that.

That said, venture capital has been moving into the solar PV market because solar is competitive at the retail level. One example where FedEx went solar is here http://www.powerlight.com/success/fedex.php.

At the corporate level that's fine. Big systems and big deals with risk management and all that. At the residential level, things are a lot slower. Enter a new player: http://www.citizenre.com/ which plans on renting solar PV systems to home owners for what their utility currently charges them for electricity. Their model for coming to market is like that of Amway: Multilevel marketing. They plan to begin installing in the Fall of this year (2007) and they are signing up customers now through a word-of-mouth campaign. How far will this go? I'm not sure, but they've doubled their customer base in a very short time (about a week) and they are approaching 3000 contracts now. That could be 3 million contracts in ten weeks if the viral marketing model works. I doubt that this can happen for practical reasons like server overload and the ability to build production facilities fast enough, but the eventual number of customers is not so unrealistic.

Another limit is the amount of net metering that states will allow as a percentage of total energy use. In Maryland, it looks like there is an out for the utilities at 34.7 MW of capacity http://www.energy.state.md.us/programs/renewable/solargrant/netmetering_statute.pdf which is not a lot.

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