We are still screwed: the coming climate disaster


When I was a kid, my dad hit a cow beef animal with his truck. It was horrible. Blood and grass everywhere.


New rule, we must send school children on field trips to butchers. Some of them may never eat meat again, but they will certainly not leave there believing if you cut up a cow, grass pops out.


I just… I just don’t even.


You know what they were trying to say, but it’s pretty funny how badly they managed to mangle it.


The Uninhabitable Earth makes the point that the climate on Mars is a millions times worse than the worst case scenario here on Earth, plus, it’s really far away. (I know you were in jest but…) Which got me thinking about why colonizing Mars seems like a viable and perhaps the preferred escape route for people like Elon Musk and I realized it’s because of what Mars doesn’t have which is billions of poor people whose lives are being destroyed.

Of course, a well positioned bunker here on Earth would be cheaper and more viable but then, Elon Musk is convinced we live in a computer simulation because if it’s theoretically possible it must inevitably have happened because the arc of technology, like the arc of history, bends ever forward or some such shit.


The Middle East. They have the wealth and means to do it and will be among the earliest and hardest hit. And the technology is not difficult enough to require a steady state to support it.

Interesting. I wonder what the effects will be. I wonder if it will be effective enough, and the consequences manageable enough, to avoid societal collapse. Invest in breathing masks and indoor agriculture I guess!


I initially had Dubai in here instead of the Bahamas, for that reason. But it was thematically more cohesive to do all Island tourist destinations.


There are a few measures that are money making, or at the very least, right people money making. Stuff like taking carbon from the air and making fuel with it, using hydrogen as fuel, a few more.

At the very least they’ll allow people who currently can’t produce their fuel to produce it, so, Germany might be all on board with it, France, Japan, maybe China, pretty much any country that doesn’t have oil.

But I doubt these technologies will be enough to revert the damage, maybe enough to minimize it, keep it in the current “Maybe it’s us, maybe it isn’t, I’ll believe whatever allows me to keep my living standard”…


The radically moderate solution:

To go big on Nuclear.

It is interesting that going Nuclear has a smaller carbon footprint than setting up renewables.


It may be a good idea, I honestly don’t know, but Sullivan’s endorsement makes it seem less likely. He seems to corner the market in wrong.

I mean, this article is typical Sullivan. He says this:

Focus on a non-carbon energy source that is already proven to be technologically feasible, can be quickly scaled up, and can potentially meet all our energy demands.

And then he suggest nuclear, and then says of nuclear this:

The plants take a long time to build, and they’re difficult to site.

In other words, nuclear can both be scaled up quickly and take a long time to scale up.

On costs, he compares nuclear to the Green New Deal (which is not a fair comparing because there’s much New Deal in the GND that isn’t in nuclear) and then uses a bogus estimate for the GND that has been thoroughly debunked without even mentioning that fact. And he imagines we’ll build 61 reactors per year.


Sullivan needs to read a book:


This was an interesting study:


To be fair, safer nuclear power methods exist, but because they are so expensive to research and refine, nobody is doing it. If any future legislation to combat climate change were to help fund research and development of nuclear alternatives, it might have a shot at becoming reality. I haven’t read that book, but based on the excerpt, it seemed like the issue is the industry as it is now, and I think that any future nuclear development would involve a massive restructuring of the entire industry around safety, including better regulation, and investment in new technology and infrastructure around generation IV reactor types.

I watched a PBS special about this, I think it was an episode of Nova, dealing with nuclear incidents and the next generation of nuclear power. It is all exciting, as a lot of the research has been designing the systems to be much more safe, and a massive reduction in waste, as well as waste with half-lifes of a few centuries, rather than a few millenia.

But the problem they brought up, is that there is basically no funding for this. Nobody wants to touch nuclear power because oil and gas are so cheap, and the regulations around nuclear power are in so much flux that nobody wants to invest in it right now, as it is a big gamble.

It is a big ask, but I think to save the planet, we are going to need to do something big.


Nuclear is just not likely to happen. The waste, the cost, and the expertise that goes hand-in-hand with nuclear weapons. And security.

Some studies put natural gas power with carbon capture at or lower cost than nuclear.

I personally benefit as Ontario, Canada is 60% nuclear base-load, and 30% hydro - a great non-CO2 base of electricity. But it’s hard to see nuclear gaining much ground.


I’ve gotten my power from nuclear reactors for most of my life.


Yeah, me too (well since moving to Ontario where there is nuclear). But there’s little appetite for the high cost and long procurement, unfortunately. I wish there were, along with some guts to address the waste issue.

@MrGrumpy posted the vox article, please read it. I quote below:

Is nuclear power going to help the United States decarbonize its energy supply and fight climate change?

Probably not.

That is the conclusion of a remarkable new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in early July — remarkable because it is not written by opponents of nuclear power, as one might expect given the conclusion. The authors are in fact extremely supportive of nuclear and view its loss as a matter of “profound concern”:

Achieving deep decarbonization of the energy system will require a portfolio of every available technology and strategy we can muster. It should be a source of profound concern for all who care about climate change that, for entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon energy, over the next few decades.

Still, despite their evident belief in the need for nuclear power, the researchers are unable to construct a plausible scenario in which it thrives. And it’s not for lack of looking — the paper is a methodical walk through the possibilities for both existing and new nuclear technology. The researchers really want it to work. They just can’t see it happening.


If it costs less than say a certain wall, it seems like we can figure out how to fund it. If we are talking about substantial safety improvements, large reductions in waste and a regulation, real regulation, I might even be on bored with considering it as a viable option. We can certainly afford it, and if private won’t do it, public can.


Part of the problem of cost isn’t nuclear itself… We already built a ton of reactors. The cost was not prohibitive.

In China, they built the first AP1000, and it cost about $6B. The one we tried to build in Georgia was cancelled after spending about $9B, and only achieved 40% completion.

There are problems holding us back which are not technological.


The cost isn’t coming down much, if at all. It’ll probably continue to rise. It was looked at as part of the article linked.

In fact, you might think nuclear is expensive because you get a clinically efficient clean and endless supply of power for ever. It’s not like that. It’s so expensive that there is cost cutting at every step of the way, from the toilets to the Chinese steel to the ventilation system in the attic. There has to be, the public and political leadership are already screaming at the insane cost and criticizing every dollar over. Multiple contracts always to the lowest bidder. Look into Hinkley and it’s a legacy of inadequate consultation and contractor shoddiness and rework and skipped environmental remediation and poor record keeping all in the name of cost savings… and it was $23 billion?

Nuclear isn’t expensive because “bureaucracy and regulations”. It’s expensive because planning, design, site selection, environmental impacts, finance, procurement, construction, materials, insurance, commissioning, maintenance, operations, security, waste management, and decommissioning are all incredibly expensive. Feel free to pick a few of those to sacrifice I suppose :). Also there isn’t a single long-term solution to the waste problem, anywhere, despite 100’s of billions spent.


And how could that be? We built tons of nuclear power plants more than half a century ago. There’s no reasonable explanation for how it could suddenly need prohibitively expensive now, but was somehow affordable 70 years ago.

We already did it, 70 years ago. And since, we had… one? nuclear accident? Which had litterally no measurable impact on the environment? And the plant is still functional today?

Hell, France’s entire energy supply was basically nuclear.

That’s just no reasonable way that it could somehow be prohibitively expensive now, but wasn’t 70 years ago. The materials haven’t become more scarce. Production of things becomes cheaper over time, not more expensive. We are better at making nuclear reactors now than we were 70 years ago. So why are they more expensive? Nothing else works like that.

The reality is that we have overregulated the process… And I’m not saying that without cause. In saying it because we built so many under simpler regulations, and didn’t have problems.