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View Diary: Cowardice in the face of climate change is just bad politics (100 comments)

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  •  Well, for the record, we have lots of Democrats... (10+ / 0-)

    ...right here at Daily Kos who despise what has been, for more than four decades, the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy,.

    They do so because they have a scientifically illiterate hatred of something they call "nuclear waste," even though in the sixty year history involved in the storage of used nuclear fuel, it has killed no one.

    By contrast, the immediate health effects of air pollution - not counting climate change - kills according to the World Hea3.3 million people per yearlth Organization - half under the age of 5, the majority of the damage occurring because of the use of so called "renewable energy" (biomass).

    I would expect that the Democrats who voted against EPA regulation of climate change gases were afraid of offending people in the car CULTure which is also very popular here at DKos.

    I mean, at DKos, you can get hundreds of recommends for praising the huge subsidies for the Tesla Car Company, which makes electric cars for a few billionaires and millionaires, this on a planet where 2 billion people lack access to decent sanitation,.

    The battle against climate change is lost.   For more than 50 years, there has been huge amounts of money thrown at the unrealistic fantasy that so called "renewable energy" would save our atmosphere and more absurdly, our ridiculous way of life.   The effort failed spectacularly.   2012 was the second worst single year in human history for increases in dangerous fossil fuel waste in the planetary atmosphere.  

    And what's our response?    We complain about a few regulations that will do no more than the decree by the California legislature that the 1990 California legislature that by 2003, 10% of the cars sold in California needed to be "zero emission vehicles."

    That didn't happen either.

    I recently collected a bunch of papers written in the 1970's about the grand renewable energy future to be in place by the year 2000.

    If I look around this space, I still see the same rhetoric that was being used then, no less delusional for the 40 odd years of failure it represent.

    When I was writing diaries here, I once wrote the following:

    The human race is nothing more and nothing less than a biological species, our fantasies to the contrary notwithstanding, and just as bacterial populations collapse – sometimes as a function of their own waste – so can human populations collapse, not as a function of perceptions of either needs or wants, but from purely physical conditions.    The atmosphere will not ask me – or anyone else – about my opinions of what I think humanity needs or wants if, for instance, saline soils, droughts, floods, glacial depletion or similar functions suddenly drop the carrying capacity of the planet for human beings from 7 billion to 3 billion or maybe even much less, including the number zero, if you must know.    It will simply happen without debate.

    No Congress, no Parliament, no government of any kind will be able to pass laws requiring it to rain, or for the nurturing run off of disappeared glaciers to return.    We know that this is true from history.    The bubonic plague did not ask the permission of any powerful king, queen, warlord or emperor to strike, nor did the collapse of the population of Easter Island, require the Chieftain of the Island’s original population to approve it.

    Should Nuclear Energy Be a Panacea?

    The Congress - which is merely a reflection of our culture - will not be able to reverse climate change.

    That is because we live in a culture where it is more important to hear what we want to here rather than what we need to hear.

    The hatred of science in this culture - both on the right and the left - has reached new levels, and there are zero political figures who have the courage to address that simple fact.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    •  While I disagree with you on "safe" nuclear ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      energy (waste may not have killed anybody, but mining and nuclear accidents certainly have - in New Mexico you only have to look at the record for Navajo Uranium miners - and I know coal also kills miners - ain't no free lunch, it just depends on who you want to die), I think that you are correct in your assessment of human abilities to stop the process of global climate change.  As a retired professional biologist I'm pretty pessimistic about this.  Until we get a handle on population we are toast and we will never get that handle because the economy of the planet depends on an ever growing amount of cheap labor and willing consumers.  The problem of this is that more people use up more resources and cause more pollution.  The recent world economic collapse also reduced, at least temporarily, the ability of the masses to purchase goods.  Eventually this will become chronic, unless we wise up.

      As things stand now, we will have an overclass for decades, if not centuries, who will glean as much as they can from the dwindling resources until the planet becomes overall like Haiti.  Then it will be their turn to reach collapse. What happens next is anybodies' guess, but I don't think we will like it much.  Fortunately I will be dead by then.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but if Congress is a reflection of our mentality, which I'm afraid it is, we are doomed.

      •  IN fact coal mining kills vastly more (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        simply because it takes a shit ton more coal to power anything.

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:56:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but I doubt the Navajos look at the .... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steve Canella

          tradeoff as being good for them.  Usually it means a lingering death from lung cancer.  There are very few aged Uranium miners.


          This is a cost that cannot be ignored.

          However, the main point is that as things stand our electricity and everything else we do comes with a greater or lesser price, usually to somebody else.  We are, in essence, all hypocrites.

          •  Depends (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The fact that its greater or lesser is critical.  I think advocating for more damaging options is not good.  Black lung isn't so fabulous either.

            The question is what is safest and what can be made safer?  There is no standard I know of in which coal is anything other than horrendous

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 12:00:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The entire history of uranium mining (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, 6412093

        ...killed as many people as will die in the next 5 hours of dangerous fossil fuel waste.

        If you'd like to assert otherwise, please provide some references.

        I note that right now, the amount of uranium and thorium mined - the latter from lanthanide mines having horrid conditions in Baotou China to service the ridiculous wind and hybrid/electric car industries - maybe Chinese miner deaths don't count - is sufficient to supply the world's entire energy supply for centuries without operating a single mine, an oil field, coal mines, gas fields, etc.

        I'm sick to death about hearing about this Navajo uranium miners as if they were the only people who ever died from energy mining activities.   How come we have no similar fetish for the 167 guys who died on the Piper Alpha explosion, one of many thousands of dangerous fossil fuel mining accidents that have occurred over the last two centuries with no effort to stop dangerous fossil fuels?

        Here's the very toxic conceit that has prevented nuclear energy from doing what it might of done to have provided humanity with a decent and sustainable future:

        That any risk associated with nuclear energy must be viewed in isolation from its alternatives.   If nuclear energy and only nuclear energy is not risk free, all other forms of energy - all of which are much, much, much, much worse, can kill at will.

        Nuclear energy need not be risk free, it need not be perfect, to be vastly superior to everything else.   It only needs to be vastly superior to everything else, which it is.

        Have a nice Sunday.

        •  I'm sure the Navajos are sick to death of it too! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean

          You are quite correct about the risk, but the Navajos who mined the Uranium in New Mexico's Uranium mines were never informed of the danger any more than the West Virginia coal miners.  Was this moral? I wish neither were true (I'm no friend of coal mining or oil drilling).  It is our economic system and constant growth that causes the ever increasing need for energy and I see no easy way out.  Uranium may be a temporary fix, but it is not a panacea for our ills.  Even if it cut back on Carbon production, I cannot imagine our civilization continuing under the current economic system.  Once an area becomes contaminated it stays that way for decades or centuries. Even at a low rate of accidents this could take out quite a vast area of the earth from crop production or habitation.

          Anyone for living near the Japanese reactor taken out by the tsunami?

    •  We Have Lots of People on Daily Kos (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, wilderness voice

      Believing in all sorts of things across the spectrum. It's easy to find strident opponents for any given idea. I'm tepidly interested in a nuclear power revival. I wonder, though, how much could be achieved in terms of cleaner and better energy usage just through improved regulation and conservation with the energy system we have now.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:04:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Conservation, nat. gas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bink, 6412093

        and using natural energy flows as much as possible are just good places to START.  But we have to reduce emissions by 80%!!!!!  That can only be done if the very underpinnings of core energy systems are completely replaced.  I'm afraid the only thing that can operate on that level, providing dispatachable power 24x7 on truly industrial scales, and do so for the foreseeable future, is nuclear power.  There are so many innovative options available in the nuclear-power design space; but, you wouldn't know it because even talking about it seems to be verboten in too many circles.  

        Government imposed regulator barriers to nuclear power must be lowered so these innovations can flourish, and our collective fear of radiation needs to be addressed using the best science fact available.  Even though 50 years of fact prove nuclear power to be the safest and cleanest form of mass-generation available, we need everyone to stand back and rethink this one through.  The future of the planet depends on it.

        This new documentary will certainly help this conversation:  Pandora's Promise by Robert Stone, just recently screened at Sundance.  From the link:

        ...The film is anchored around the personal narratives of a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists and pioneering scientists who, in the face of considerable controversy, are directly challenging the anti-nuclear orthodoxy that is a founding tenet of the mainstream environmental movement.

        Operating as history, cultural meditation and contemporary exploration, PANDORA’S PROMISE aims to inspire a serious and realistic debate over what is without question the most important question of our time: how do we continue to power modern civilization without destroying it?

        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:59:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the Link (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I recommended your comment. For me, nuclear power is an open question. I don't have a settled opinion one way or another.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:06:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, appreciate the reply (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm a certified science nerd, so I spend the time digging into the science and technology behind the scenes.  IMHO, nuclear is badly misunderstood, especially in relation to the alternatives for on-demand power at huge scales.

            I can't think of a bigger issue for everyone to delve into, understand fully, and get right.  It takes work and, unfortunately, accepting dogmas is a lot easier - a trap too many fall into.

            Powering human civilization affordably and sustainably is a matter of survival.  I fully agree with the assertion that this is the biggest, most important question of our time.

            The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

            by mojo workin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:20:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Several points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      I think you are spot on that we should be throwing up nuclear power plants as fast as possible.  Reality demands it.

      1) Tesla is now building cars at middle class price points.  They needed the rich guys to get the company off the ground
      2) A growing proportion of cars are in fact zero emission, and a great number are also more efficient hybrids.  THe date was wrong, but the trend is there.
      3) the pitiful amount of money "thrown" at renewables is trivial compared to the vast sums thrown at fossil fuel development.   And for that money we now have a range of technologies which are dropping in price very fast and increasing in efficiency.  Renewable is goingup in California at an exponential rate now.  A great deal of progress has been stopped dead by opposition from competing industries.

      FOr someone with a fairly loose relationship to the actual facts, you might want to refrain from calling anyone else ignorant.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:00:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        I'm quite have a very, very, very, very, very, very, very different view of who is unaquainted with what is and is not a "fact."

        In fact, I'm quite sure that I'm dealing with yet another clueless bourgeois brat.

        Bourgeois brat statement number #1:

        Tesla is manufacturing cars for middle class price points.

        How about we check the Tesla website for, um, price points:

        Model S Prices

        Now maybe in the privileged life that I associate with many of the clueless "renewables will save us" anti-nukes that I encounter, new cars ranging between $52,000 (for a car that they haven't even started to produce) and $87,000 is a "middle class price point" but it's certainly not a price point accessible for the vast majority of Americans, many of whom drive Chevy's and Hondas and Toyotas etc that cost half as much.

        In any case the highly subsidized billionaires at Tesla seem not to make very many cars at all:     In 2012, they made just 3,383 units of their expensive garbage.

        Only someone who is completely divorced from the scale and reality of climate change, could imagine that this is even remotely related to anything having to addressing it.

        Once again - self declared "fact" stater - there are one billion cars on this planet.    How many more fucking years do you think we should bet the planetary atmosphere on these doodlebug piece of shit billionaires getting their act together.

        Finally, I have never met a single example of a "renewables will save us" wishful thinker who can do math.   Zero.   None.

        I actually open the spreadsheet provided by the State of California for its energy sources regularly, as an exercise in stupidity checking.

        Here is the webpage at which one can find the link for all of California's electrical energy generation, nuclear, dangerous fossil fuels, hydroelectricity, and the expensive solar and wind scam they've been running as a fig leaf for their dependence on dangerous natural gas:

        California Energy Almanac


        The liars who seek to lecture me on facts are very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad at comparing numbers, but I think it will be clear to almost anyone who is not an anti-nuke that last year, a quarter of a century after dumbells caused the cloture of Rancho Seco saying that California could easily replace all of its nuclear plants with renewable energy, that renewable energy has not once, ever, matched the output of California's nuclear plants.

        Zero times.

        It's also very clear that you don't have the faintest clue of what an exponential function is.   No suprise there.   Like I said, the bourgeois brats in the "renewables will save us" industry can't do math:    In 1997, California produced 21,200 GWh of electricity from geothermal, wind, solar and biomass combined.

        In 2011, 14 years later 27,113 GWh from the same sources.

        During this time period, in a State with one of the worst public school systems in the country, a State always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the state threw billions of dollars at renewable energy scams.

        The difference between 27,113 GWh and 21,200GWh is 5,913 GWh.   There are 24*365.25 = 8766 hours in a year.

        It follows that the 14 year increase in magical renewable energy, despite sucking billions upon billions of bucks out of the pockets of the poor, the students, the sick, the elderly who government money might have helped, the renewable energy industry built the equivalent of a 675 MW powerplant.

        Heckuva a job.   You must be very, very, very, very, very, very, very proud.

        Excuse me if I decline to credit your lecture on the subject of facts as being reality based.

        What you call "liberalism" and what I call liberalism are very different things, I think.    You're apparently, I would guess, one of those Tortilla Curtain types, very smug when discussing a subject, the environment, you know nothing about.

        Have a great week!

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