Democrats And Climate

They’ve lost the argument, and it’s their own fault:

…many voters don’t see Democrats acting like people who believe we’re facing an extinction level event. For instance, why aren’t we talking about adding hundreds of new nuclear power plants to our energy portfolio? Such an effort would do far more to mitigate carbon emissions than any unreliable solar or windmill boondoggle –certainly more than any non-binding international agreement. Maybe there are tradeoffs, who knows.

Or take prospective presidential hopeful Andrew Cuomo. Setting intentions aside, in all practical ways, he’s been worse for the environment than Trump. Cuomo claims he “is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.” Yet as governor, he’s blocked natural gas pipelines and banned fracking, which has proven to be one of the most effective ways to mitigate carbon emissions. U.S. energy-related carbon emissions have fallen almost 14 percent since they peaked in 2007 according to the OECD – this, without any fabricated carbon market schemes. The driving reason is the shift to natural gas. Why do liberals hate science? Why do they condemn our grandchildren to a fiery end?

Fact is, Obama—as was his wont—tried to shift American policy with his pen rather than by building consensus (which was also an assault on proper norms of American governance, but the “Trump is destroying the Constitution!” crowd is conveniently flexible on this issue.) It’s not a feasible or lasting way to govern, unless the system collapses. It is also transparently ideological.

It’s impossible for any intelligent person to take them seriously.

14 thoughts on “Democrats And Climate”

  1. It’s impossible for any intelligent person to take them seriously.

    It couldn’t be said any better. The left = liars. We should not be treating them as if they were responsible adults. They are not.

    We should not allow them to define anyone else even if partly correct because it’s not a sincere objection. They are camel noses from one end to the other.

    1. The left will lie, cheat, steal, and even murder to bring about their utopia, or just to hold onto power.

  2. Germany sure impeached their climate credibility by phasing out nuclear plants instead of brown coal burning plants.

    (I happen to think nuclear’s future is bleak, but that choice was a bad one.)

    1. I think Kirk Sorensen has correctly pointed out nuclear’s future is Thorium reactors. The reason we don’t have them already is that they’re not useful for making nuclear weapons.

      1. PWRs aren’t terribly useful for making nuclear weapons either, so that doesn’t really work as an explanation.

        1. Well PWRs do breed 239Pu, which can be used to make fission bombs (France deliberately optimizes for Pu breeding to squeeze out more fuel from the source U). Thorium reactors breed 233U (the actual fuel) and can’t make much of anything heavier than that. Part of the reason that we went down the 235U reactor pathway was very much related to the production of 239Pu for weapons. Other advantages for thorium: we’ve literally got millenia’s worth of the fuel that is incredibly abundant (232Th) compared to 235U; they do not need a pressure vessel and can be very small and modular; with fluoride salts as fuel carrier and moderator, they operate at much higher temperatures than PWRs, leading to better Carnot efficiency; they are unconditionally thermally stable and can be made to shut down and drain the liquid fuel if they overheat (no China Syndrome); and the waste products are not as active for as long a time as the 235U fuel cycle, making waste management a lot easier. What’s not to like?

          1. As far as I know, no one has ever used LWRs to make nuclear weapons. The problem, as I understand it, is that LWRs used enriched fuel, and in the normal fuel cycle experience a fairly high burnup. This means what Pu is produced is exposed to a high neutron flux, and much absorption on the Pu occurs, both fissioning it and creating undesirable higher isotopes. Now, one COULD use this reactor grade Pu in weapons if one had to, but it has some drawbacks.

            In a weapons grade Pu production reactor, you want fairly low burnup so these undesirable reactions don’t happen as much. You could process LWR fuel early, but then you’re wasting most of the U235. It’s better to use lesser enriched, or natural, uranium in a graphite or heavy water moderated reactor.

    2. Paul, I’d like to hear more about that bleak future, but I also think you miss the point tat it’s not that reactors produce the fuel for weapons. Clearly processing follows a separate track, but mining and processing for both as input is done in common.

      1. Mining and processing? You mean, you are saying that the mining of thorium was the bottleneck that prevented the US from having thorium reactors?

        This is also clearly wrong, since the US had large stockpiles of thorium for quite some time. There were also attempts to use thorium in various reactors (Shippingport, Ft. St. Vrain, some others.) These never worked out; the cost of recovering U233 was prohibitive.

        The actual reason we never went for thorium is that none of the stakeholders had a great interest in it. There was no thorium (or uranium) shortage, and by the time molten salt reactors were demonstrated there wasn’t an interest in pushing a fundamentally new reactor technology to maturity.

        More deeply, thorium reactors, like nuclear power in general, stalled out because the cases for them weren’t strong enough. And now the cases have become so weak (and trending even weaker) the overall technology is headed for the history books, at least in the west. Reactors are closing in the US because they can’t even meet their operating costs. The bankruptcy of Westinghouse ensures no one is ever going to order a nuclear powerplant in the US again. I view the current interest in thorium reactors as a kind of Hail Mary attempt to keep nuclear power from disappearing entirely.

  3. My point was that PWRs do produce Pu that can be used in a weapon and this definitely is an issue with nuclear proliferation. And the enrichment technology needed for LWRs (and which is unnecessary with Th) is a major problem for proliferation.

    Once you go down the 235U pathway, it leads to technologies like enrichment (for LWRs) and fuel reprocessing to extract Pu bred from 238U. Both steps make PWRs as an industry more susceptible to nuclear proliferation as 239Pu can get diverted and enriched U is itself a potential source of weapons.

    One funny (sad) aspect of the environmental movement is that they even want to block the burning of Pu to get rid of the stuff. Shipments of Pu to Canada to be used as fuel in Candus was blocked by environmental protests. France is very big on fuel reprocessing, which again is a potential source of fissionable material that is compatible with fission bombs. As I understand it, 233U is not good for making bombs.

    You are right that PWRs are not optimal for weapon production but it is possible to use them, especially with fuel reprocessing technology. It is the whole set of U-based technologies that I think the NRC felt was a compatible continuum that led to everyone going down the road to using 235U. DoD would not at all be interested in Th, unless it could have been immediately miniaturized and put into a submarine. Even then, the whole control and fuel handling systems are so different from 235U that it would not have appeared attractive.

    By switching power generation away from 235U to 232Th, we could have a whole industry of fuel processing and power generation with essentially no proliferation issues. Sure you could make dirty bombs from the stuff, but any nuclear industry will have that problem. With Th, you’d still need some 235U reactors to breed the 233U to get the ball rolling, but once you have operating 232Th reactors, you make more fuel than you use.

    One positive aspect for Th reactors is that fuel handling is always in the liquid state, so structural issues that plague U based fuel rods do not apply. A cute aspect is that key “poisoning” fission fragment isotopes of Xe that cause many headaches in PWRs are trivial to purge from a Th reactor.

  4. The reason we have U rather than Th reactors is because of a alliance of liars. If clean safe energy were the goal Th wins. It doesn’t because it isn’t. We’re being played by liars.

    Th works and has been demonstrated to be operationally superior. The fuel is so abundant that once the infrastructure is in place they’d almost have to pay us to use more of it. Energy cost would go way beyond too cheap to meter.

    The members of the liars alliance all have different goals but a common interest… the current structure gives them power and influence and any change threatens that. Any argument against is pure BS.

    Their actions make it impossible to take their lying words seriously. As a result, we have nuclear power, but instead of distributing it to the places where it’s needed they’ve just upgraded the existing one so that our grid is more fragile. Safe Th power could coexist with the communities that need the power making the resultant grid much less fragile. Power outage would become something you just read about in history books.

  5. To say U is needed for nuclear subs is just another lie. They require a pressure vessel and shielding that a Th reactor doesn’t. U reactors are bigger than Th reactors and much harder to manage. It’s lies from end to end.

    1. I agree that Th is capable of powering naval vessels, but the Navy kind of got locked in with Rickover’s early design. For them, Th would be a big leap of faith. Interestingly, Th might be nice as a fission/fusion hybrid for spacecraft. Maybe that would get the Navy’s attention

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