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By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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We are testing geoengineering, and that is a good thing

Uploaded: May 24, 2020
Geoengineering is the “deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change”. (1) It has also been called “the worst possible way to address climate change that we need to take seriously.” It commonly refers to techniques for reducing the amount of solar radiation hitting the planet, also known as “solar geoengineering”, but there are many other forms. (2) Solar geoengineering works by reflecting some of the incoming radiation, for example by injecting reflective aerosols into the stratosphere or by increasing cloud cover. (3) We are starting to test some forms of it and I think that is a good thing. But many others do not, and for good reasons. I had a fascinating discussion about this topic with Thomas Ackerman, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, in the context of a solar geoengineering technique called marine cloud brightening. I will give a quick overview of that approach and then dig into some of the testing considerations.

Before that, though, it is important to understand that solar geoengineering does not aim to solve the problem of climate change. At best, it buys us time. If deployed, the planet will heat up more slowly (good!), but greenhouse gases will keep building up and our oceans will continue to acidify. The climate will get distorted in undesirable ways (e.g., areas may get drier or wetter), and if there is a gap in the solar geoengineering bandaid, our highly insulated planet will heat up very quickly. Solar geoengineering is risky, with difficult ethical and governance problems. On top of that, it is not a cure. It must be at most a bit player to the main act of reducing greenhouse gases.

But we should understand the option, so... What is marine cloud brightening? Over 90% of the heat that is absorbed by the Earth ends up in the oceans. (4) The warming oceans are bleaching coral reefs, melting sea ice, and endangering marine life. If we can reflect more of the sun away from the oceans, it will help cool the oceans and ultimately the atmosphere. Various ideas have been considered, with the most progress being made on using ocean spray to brighten marine clouds, aka “marine cloud brightening”. Marine clouds are low-lying stratocumulus clouds frequently found off the west coasts of Africa and the Americas. (You may have seen and heard of “the marine layer” off the coast of California.) The basic idea of marine cloud brightening is to spray a fine mist of ocean water into the air, where the mist particles will serve as condensation nuclei for cloud formation. As water condenses around those particles, the marine layer will incorporate more, smaller droplets, resulting in more reflective and longer-lasting clouds. (5)

A sea spray nozzle in action at the back of a boat. Source: Reuters

A real-world analog for this effect is a ship track, which is like an airplane contrail but for a ship. The pollution particles emitted from a ship’s smokestack serve as nuclei around which water condenses, forming an enhanced cloud behind the ship.

Ship tracks in the East Atlantic. Source: National Weather Service San Diego

Teams researching the potential of marine cloud brightening have studied ship tracks to develop models of how marine clouds form, persist, and reflect. But researchers are clear that experimental data is needed to validate and improve those models. A proposal to do small-scale testing off the coast of Monterey to refine their understanding of the technology has been postponed for more than ten years, largely due to lack of funding but also in part due to opposition to geoengineering. I found this perplexing. Why wouldn’t we want to better understand the tools we have at our disposal to fight climate change, particularly when the tests are low-cost and low-impact? So I spoke to Ackerman, who has given the issue of testing considerable thought.

Ackerman started off by saying that there are different kinds of tests, some riskier than others, and described a testing taxonomy. But even beyond that, there are people and organizations who object on principle to testing or even research into solar geoengineering. The Christian Science Monitor quotes Carroll Muffett, head of the Center for International Environmental Law, summarizing this attitude as follows: “If there’s widespread recognition that this technology is not going to solve the climate crisis ... it makes little sense to invest in experimentation.” We know that these techniques can only buy time, but some fear they will do much worse if they give people a false sense of security and delay the more necessary work of greenhouse gas reduction. (6) Testing can be seen as a slippery slope towards instilling that false confidence, so there is some objection to any testing on principle. One such critic describes a very limited proposed test of stratospheric aerosol injection as “mostly a stunt to break the ice and get people used to the idea of field trials.”

Others who are more supportive of testing will say that our need to understand our options balances those risks, and we should work to control both the risk of the testing and the risk of false security. Environmental scientist Alan Robock, who has compiled an often-cited list of 27 risks of geoengineering (see Table 1 in this comment), nevertheless thinks we need to study it. (7) It can also be argued that we are putting ourselves at some risk if other countries work to understand these technologies and we don’t. “A defensive posture requires research,” Ackerman points out.

Ackerman begins his testing taxonomy with a level that he refers to as “process testing”. These tests have essentially no measurable impact; their purpose is to vet aspects of the technology. For example, how do particles disperse in the stratosphere? Can you even find them to measure them? (8) Can we achieve a sufficiently fine spray in real-world conditions? Can we measure the cloud parameters accurately enough? Ackerman characterizes this type of experiment as “an engineering project, not a climate project. Does the process work, and can we measure it?” The actual impact of these tests would be much less than we would see from a single international flight or transatlantic ship. In his view, these are not “ethically challenging” experiments, and he notes that this kind of experiment is frequently done for air pollution research.

The second phase of testing is a localized, short-duration experiment designed to impact an accessible metric, probably one indirectly related to climate. (The climate itself would not be measurably impacted due to the small scale of the experiment.) For example, a boat might spray salt water over a small area for a few days, and the reflectivity of that area would be measured from satellite and compared to that of other days with similar atmospheric conditions. Ackerman and others have questioned whether such a small-scale test is feasible with stratospheric aerosol injection. Once the particles are aloft in the stratosphere, they stay there for weeks or months, dispersing around the globe. It is not clear how you could achieve a measurable effect on reflectivity without conducting a somewhat large-duration, large-scale test. The question is, can you design and execute a test that is highly localized and has no climate impact, yet able to give meaningful information about the climate impacts of a potential larger-scale deployment?

The third phase of testing is a larger-scale experiment designed to impact a climate metric like temperature or precipitation. This is likely to be a longer and/or bigger experiment because the metrics are harder to impact and measure reliably. For example, ocean temperature is a 3D variable (unlike reflectivity), and requires a whole network of sensors to measure. Both precipitation and temperature are also subject to many variables, so experiment time is needed to account for differing conditions. Some of the technologies would allow for an experiment to be cancelled part way through, which helps to mitigate risks. For example, you could stop spraying ocean water, or stop pumping water onto ice sheets. You might also be able to reverse the effect of an experiment, for example by melting ice that you had created. But some things are hard to undo (e.g., removing iron from the ocean) and effects underway could take time to play out.

It is certainly the case that we are already doing this type of climate experiment at scale, albeit unintentionally and poorly. We are operating coal plants that emit radiation-reflecting pollution, we are flying planes that enhance our cirrus cloud cover, we are warming and acidifying our oceans, and so forth. Given the crisis we are facing from this uncontrolled “experimentation”, you might reason that these designed experiments are surely better, since they are attempting to undo the damage we are causing. Or do the ethical and governance problems render geoengineering techniques so problematic that we should bypass them and focus exclusively on fossil fuel reduction? (9)

Not all geoengineering techniques are the same. One of the reasons I am intrigued by marine cloud brightening is that it seems modular, relatively innocuous at least at small scales, and testable. It uses only ocean water (and ships) over the ocean. It can be tested over a small area, with the reflectivity being measured fairly easily and unobtrusively from satellite, aircraft, or drones. It can be deployed regionally and is easy to stop. These are all significant advantages over stratospheric aerosol injection. In fact, a form of ocean spray engineering (without marine clouds) was tested just a month ago over the Great Barrier Reef, where about half of the coral died in 2016 and 2017 due to unusually warm water. But marine cloud brightening is less ambitious than stratospheric aerosol injection, more limited in scope, and more complex in some ways. The fact that it is most effective in certain locations means that modeling is tricky. Ackerman likens it to a hammer hitting a bell and “ringing the bell”. It is complicated to understand how those discrete impacts affect the whole system. (10)

Ackerman highlighted his concern that we aren’t giving enough attention to geoengineering, despite or even because of the difficult issues that it poses. He would like to see a more dedicated effort around risk management, process definition, and governance. He refers, for example, to the belief people hold that we would deploy some form of geoengineering when we are really in trouble, when we are “going over a cliff”. Not only are we not ready to deploy anything, but it’s not even clear that we will know when we are going over a cliff. “How bad does it need to get?” he wonders. The Australian fires weren’t enough. The shrinking ice cap isn’t enough. What if the Thwaites Glacier goes? Is that the cliff? We have no framework for thinking about these things, and it worries him.

It is true that solar geoengineering will likely do more harm than good if it is not secondary to a concerted effort to control our greenhouse gases. It is also true that there are difficult ethical and governance issues involved. But we cannot reason about what we don’t understand. We cannot improve our techniques if we do not learn about them. Given the rate at which we are reducing our use of fossil fuels and the low cost of early experiments, I believe we should aim to better understand these options.

Notes and References
0. I'd like to thank Professor Emeritus Thomas Ackerman for taking the time to talk with me. It was really interesting to learn from someone who thinks intuitively and knowledgeably on a planetary scale, but also has a nuanced grasp of the ethical issues involved with geoengineering.

1. The source for this definition is this introduction to a special issue on geoengineering in the journal Climatic Change from November 2013.

2. Geoengineering is a pretty broad term. The category typically includes techniques that are designed to reflect incoming radiation (“solar geoengineering”), such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere or using sea spray to brighten marine clouds. Solar geoengineering can take many forms. Other examples include generating microbubbles on the ocean’s surface (like a ship’s wake) to make the ocean more reflective, pumping water over the ice caps to fortify them and enlarge their reflective surface, and distributing tiny reflective glass beads over eroding ice sheets to keep them cool and intact. The term “geoengineering” is used less frequently to refer to techniques that remove CO2 from our atmosphere, such as enhanced rock weathering, iron fertilization of the ocean, or direct air capture. It is generally accepted that some form of carbon removal will be necessary to hit our climate goals, though we don’t know yet how to do it at scale. Geoengineering typically does not refer to widespread planting of trees, though that also fits the definition of a “deliberate large-scale manipulation”.

3. Ackerman mentioned that reflecting radiation is the primary but not theoretically the only way to reduce incoming radiation. For example, incoming radiation could be reduced by moving the Earth ever so slightly farther from the Sun. We can all be grateful that no one is working on that yet...

4. You can see a great graph of where heat is absorbed in the fifth section of this earlier blog post.

5. The increased reflectivity comes from two effects. The first is cloud formation — a larger, brighter, and longer-lasting cloud reflects more sunlight. The second is reflection off of the ocean spray particles themselves. In areas where there is less cloud cover, such as over the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean, this spraying technique may still have a useful impact on temperature, though Ackerman is dubious due to the very short lifetime of the aerosol particles at the marine boundary layer.

6. Stephen Gardiner, a professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the University of Washington, warns that this delay could even be intentional: “If catastrophe may be coming quickly, then even a buck-passing generation has reason to do something, and short-term fixes (i.e., those good for a generation or two) are sure to be attractive, especially if they appear to have low startup costs and to impose most of their risks on others (e.g., in the further future or in other parts of the world).”

7. You can find a good interview with Alan Robock on the topic of geoengineering here.

8. It can be surprisingly hard to find material in the stratosphere once it has been released. As Ackerman explains “It’s hard to find a contrail of a plane you are in. The wind blows. It’s like dropping something in the ocean. The atmosphere is 3D, so it’s a lot harder than looking on the surface of the ocean.”

9. I recommend Stephen Gardiner’s paper “The Desperation Argument for Geoengineering” to understand some of the moral and ethical dilemmas involved. It is a lengthy response to a quip that Nathan Myhrvold made. Gardiner questions whether impacted countries can meaningfully consent to these experiments, asks whether an “arms race” of geoengineering might not be worse than climate change itself, and emphasizes that the countries responsible for getting us into this mess should work hard to clean it up, rather than justify a potentially harmful geoengineering bandaid based on the evolving climate emergency. Here is an example he gives from that paper:

“Suppose Josef sets up a lab in his house and pumps the waste into the house next door. He then discovers that the waste is toxic. Josef recognizes that this poses a moral problem and that he has a number of options to address it. For example, he could cease his experiments, redirect his ventilation system, filter his emissions, and so on. However, Josef is unwilling to do any of these things and offers no adequate reason for his unwillingness. Unfortunately, his victim, Karla, can do very little about it. Josef is much stronger, richer and better armed than Karla, and the local police force and courts are in Josef’s pocket. Eventually, Karla becomes sick and desperate, and appeals to Josef for help. Josef says he will help, but this requires Karla agreeing to become an official subject of Josef’s experiments. As such, Karla must put himself completely in Josef’s power, and allow Josef to directly administer whatever treatment to his body and mind that Josef sees fit. In my view, this situation is morally horrifying, and desperation arguments do not help.”

10. The ENSO climate pattern illustrates this kind of complexity, where sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific can impact precipitation (via La Niña or El Niño) in areas as far flung as Indonesia, Peru, and Alaska.

11. Some of you may be familiar with cloud seeding to encourage precipitation, for example with silver iodide. Ackerman distinguishes it from marine cloud brightening, indicating that it is less reliable because rainmaking works on heterogeneous, unstable cloud systems, and also because it is harder to affect precipitation than it is to affect reflectivity.

Current Climate Data (April 2020)
Global impacts, US impacts, CO2 metric, Climate dashboard (updated annually)

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What is it worth to you?


Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 24, 2020 at 9:29 am

From your links:

Last month was the second warmest April recorded.

"The April 2020 globally averaged land and ocean surface temperature departure from average was the second highest for the month in the 141-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880."

Posted by ASR , a resident of College Terrace,
on May 24, 2020 at 9:42 am

It's imperative we humans need to reduce carbon emission.

Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm

"if there is a gap in the solar geoengineering bandaid, our highly insulated planet will heat up very quickly"

He who rides the tiger dares not dismount. How much does geoengineering depend on fickle international cooperation, and how vulnerable is it to disruption from financial upsets, wars, or deliberate attacks? It seems to me that carbon mitigation is much more robust.

Posted by VALLCO JEANNE, a resident of another community,
on May 25, 2020 at 9:07 am


Geoengineering has already been going on for decades and is responsible for the California “wildfire" genocides in recent years. No. Evil already has enough power and technology at its disposal. It does not need more.

Please wake up and see what's actually happening in the geoengineered world around us..

Posted by Rick, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on May 25, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Whenever I read an article like this I am reminded of how an orange looks when it rots. Green film slowly covers the perfect fruit until it is just a green ball, then it collapses into itself and disappears.

Seeing the images of this planet Earth from space reminds me of that orange. The city lights at night force you to see that that human presence is -everywhere-

If you have to take steps like geoengineering to keep the planet habitable, it is not a good thing. It is a sign that it is really quite too late.


Posted by Kevin S. Thompson, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 25, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Spot on Sherry Listgarten.

So glad to see the cloud brightening project take off in Australia. Those engineers are true heros and deserve our thanks. Thank you for writing this balanced and fair article.

Here is why geoengineering is inevitable:

Aerosol shading is a real thing, and air pollution is playing an important role in cooling our planet. Reductions in air pollution actually warm the planet in the near term.

I would encourage all of your readers to put the following name into YouTube and look for her Ted Talk:

Kelly Wanser - Silver Linings.

Finally, please don't forget to mention permafrost, that methane is a big concern I didn't see in the article. When the methane is ignored it tends to hand a victory to those who don't want to study geoengineering.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on May 25, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Guilting rich people to become poor to save the climate is not going to work. There simply isn't the political support for it.

What could work:
- nuclear power
- investment in making carbon neutral energy cheaper than fossil fuels
- geoengineering

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 26, 2020 at 6:09 am

> What could work: - nuclear power


First, take TEN BILLION DOLLARS and put a match to it. Then put aside another TEN BILLION DOLLARS and keep it in reserve for decommissioning and cleaning up any nuclear plant.

How about this: Take $20 billion and build renewables that would deliver power far faster than any fantasy nuclear plant.

Before you attempt to [portion removed] debate nuclear, share with us the opening dates and construction costs for the last 5 US nuclear plants. [portion removed] even a furtive peek is astonishing.

Bonus points for total costs on nuclear plants once they are shut down.

Example: San Onofre in LA - construction costs $10.7 billion in 2018 dollars. (wiki)

Decom/shutdown costs: "The $4.7 billion in early shutdown costs are in addition to what it will cost to “decommission," or tear down, San Onfore. Decommissioning costs are pegged at $4.4 billion. " (OCregister)

Those numbers continue to rise, as does the LONNNNNNNNNG term storage of radioactive waste and components, plus security, etc.. for lifetimes.

Nuclear is a fantasy. It has bankrupted corporations.

"The Westinghouse bankruptcy “is a powerful signal of the end of the fantasy of a nuclear revival," writes Daniel Hirsch, director of the Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in an email to The Christian Science Monitor."

[portion removed]


The good news? Joseph is willing to put HUGE money into solving Climate Change (as evidenced by his nuclear fantasy.) Now let's put that money in the correct place.


Yay, team.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 26, 2020 at 10:47 am

I had always been against nuclear energy until recently when I started to
really weigh the objective facts and not the raving kitchen sink arguments
that throw everything desperately against it motivated by the fears of some
who apparently watched too many monster movies from the 50's.

All these arguments that no one can really weight objectively, especially
when they are all lined up and fired off in machine gun fashion.

All I would ask for is real fair objective balanced facts and arguments of
nuclear weighed against the arguments for and against other forms of

Why are we talking about this at all? Because of global warming. Global
warming caused by the burning of carbon based fuel. So when I put all the
so-called evils of nuclear power balanced against the murder of our entire
planet I have to say - remember, nuclear power has not resulted or contributed
to the end of life as we know it on this planet.

When you go back and look at the last 50 or so years and the screw-ups
related to nuclear, and they are significant, but they were all stupid human
errors of greed and bad engineering, not because nuclear itself is unworkable.
Indeed, nuclear has worked to supply about 20% of the country's power during
that time without contributing any greenhouse gases.

Oh, that is too good a measure of nuclear, so now they start counting the trucks
who bring the parts and machines in to the plants when they are being built, or
the water used to mix the cement, or all kinds of other things that they never
bother to compare with every other type of power generation.

When we talk about nuclear the first thing that comes to mind are the big huge
film clips of nuclear bombs going off. The very word has such terrible connotations
that we do not bother to think that a nuclear plant simply cannot go off like a nuclear
weapon. it cannot happen.

There's also other facts about nuclear that we ought to think about. Like for example
it doesn't take hundreds of truck-fulls of coal or pipelines or oil into the plant. For
almost the whole life of a nuclear plant it is loaded with nuclear full once - and that is
it. The manpower necessary to operate the plants are less too. And there is not
smoke, or poisons belching into the sky to travel long distances to settle on to the
environment or pollute people's lungs. A coal plant by burning coal that contains
other metals including radioactive ones spreads more radioactivity than a nuclear plant.

Nothing is perfect, but let's get real and discuss everything together side by side in
a fair and objective way. Compared to other types of energy generation the duty
cycle, the time that a plant is actually operating, for nuclear is very high. They rarely
have to be taken offline for problems or maintenance.

Also, remember the plants that we are used to screaming about are all 50 years old
or older, and a lot of the costs are because in an effort to be safe levels of radiation
were set extremely low, far lower than we know today is rational.

Newer designs for nuclear power bear looking at, because at the bottom of it, nuclear
is an amazing technology, almost custom build for the problems we face today.

Thanks to anti-nuclear hysteria we in CA are taking two nuclear locations off-line
for good that were yielding about 20% of CA's power supply in a completely clean
way - and now have to be replaced with carbon generating plants and all the attendant
problems that come with that.

Stop comparing nuclear with some fantasy perfect way of generating power - compare
it with what we have now that may have doomed the planet, or at least the human
race to extinction.

The problems I see with nuclear are not the technology, it is the same problem we
we see with everything in our laissez-faire brain-dead version of our economics, greed
and cost cutting to the extreme. That is the one problem that can elevate risks of
nuclear to fearful levels. I think there is no reason why we cannot find ways of
dealing with bad engineering and economic decisions, but that is the conversation
we should be having about nuclear, not just running away and burying our heads in
the sand because someone throws out scads of bad arguments.

If we want to survive, and we want to have power at reasonable cost, i think, that
those who embrace nuclear will be in a good place in 20-30 years. Humanity has
many dangerous trends converging all at once right now, and it is time to sink or
swim, to grow up and face facts like adults - or at least collect and argue facts
like adults.

Posted by Strange bunches frame, a resident of Community Center,
on May 26, 2020 at 12:03 pm


But what's the value at $20-25 billion lifetime nuke plant costs, vs spending $25 billion on other clean sources offering more immediate results?

Answer that instead of painting pics of bombs and 50s horror flicks.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 26, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Nice comments! I can tell you read the post and not just the headline…

@ASR, @Curm, @Rick: You are absolutely right. Solar geoengineering is not a good thing, it is not robust, and we have to reduce our emissions. Reducing carbon emissions is a much, much better solution than any type of solar geoengineering, which we would only be able to deploy at scale if we had really badly messed up and waited too long. The only reason to consider evaluating and testing solar geoengineering stopgaps is if you think there is some non-negligible risk that we will badly mess up and wait too long. I do.

FWIW, that leads me to the best reason I can think of for not evaluating and testing geoengineering, which is: If for decades we have not been able to work together sufficiently effectively to reduce emissions in a timely fashion, then what makes us think that we will be able to work together sufficiently effectively to agree on a sustained deployment of geoengineering? (The answer has got to be that the latter agreement is much easier, which could be for a variety of reasons.)

So, yeah, it is really bad news if it comes to this.

@Kevin: I do not agree that geoengineering (of the solar radiation management flavor) is inevitable. I do think that carbon dioxide removal is inevitable, and tree planting at scale is a start at that.

@Joseph: I’m not sure who is advocating that rich people become poor. Do you have more context on that? The tragedy is that we could be doing so much more with the technology that already exists, but we lack the forward-looking or even just not backwards-looking leadership in the US (and a few other countries) needed to do that.

I will leave nuclear debates for another day (there will be a day). I appreciate the thoughtful comments on this. I think it’s important to recognize that cost is a major problem, at least in the US and more recently in Europe, and to recognize that different types of power have different properties. (All clean power is not equal.)

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 26, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Strange bunches frame
> Answer that instead of painting pics of bombs and 50s horror flicks.

Sorry if my comment scared you but, you need to check your reading
comprehension ... it is the anti-nuclear folks who are obsessed with
this stuff that fills up the nuclear power part of their brains so that
facts cannot get in there. I am for more information all around, not just
anti on the nuclear and leave it at that.

When you are talking about costs that is another discussion usually absent
facts. What is the cost of the destruction of our world --- did you price that
in there? The way we do economic now - no one wants to or can afford to
fix the energy issue. Geo-Engineering seems to me mostly like a hope that
we can solve this problem on the cheap. You know where that's gotten us.

I will reiterate that most of the anti-nuclear rhetoric is emotional scare tactics
and leverages the people who know the least about it. While I don't claim to
be an expert on nuclear power, I've read and researched quite a bit and I am
pretty good at perceiving and picking out arguments that to not add up or
facts that have no context.

The fact is that in order to have the electricity to run the world we need more,
not less energy and really green energy. Windmills and solar panels are just not
going to be able to do that. It's time we took a truly objective look at all sources
of power lined up together instead of just saying no, no, no.

If we end up deciding to do geo-engineering, we still would need massive power
to run it. If we want rivers to have water in them and to reverse desertification
we need to be able to purify and pump water all over the world instead of stealing
it from the natural world. If we want nature to recover we have to quit stealing
all of its resources and separate our industrial processes from nature, and if
we want to recycle all the garbage we just dump into the air, water or ground
we need much more energy to do that.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 26, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@cpa, I know your post is about nuclear energy, but I want to correct one thing. You suggest that "Geo-Engineering seems to me mostly like a hope that we can solve this problem on the cheap."

No. Remember, geo-engineering is not a solution. Anyone who thinks it is is mistaken. Geo-engineering is a bandaid, a stopgap, a half-measure with unfortunate side-effects that can buy us some time until we do choose to fix the problem, which will cost whatever it costs. Geo-engineering in that way adds to the cost. We deploy it only if we didn't act early enough (which is looking more likely every day). We are wasting endless amounts of money by not acting.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 27, 2020 at 12:14 am

> No. Remember, geo-engineering is not a solution. Anyone who thinks it is is mistaken

1 - geo-engineering is not a solution

I feel like my ability to control whether someone with enough money and power thinks
GE is a solution is pretty much zero. Maybe less than zero given as we have seen people
who try to end or control certain technologies in this era just seem to be run over the
rules, buy up the rule-makers, or just ignore rules and buy off the law enforcement or
ignore law enforcement. Look at the oil industry. Industry runs our government and
our lives. It's not democratic and it is answerable or questionable. We'v been questioning
global warming for decades now and the argument changes in the media to always
keep it at the argument stage, while manipulating the facts and the people in different
ways. The public is ( perhaps rightly ) perceived as too stupid to make these decisions.
( when I comes to nuclear I am on the other side of this argument ) We allow everything
in the media to confuse the public about how responsible it, the public, is or can be -
undercutting democracy. Right or wrong?

I don't know what that means if some country decides to make changes at the
global atmospheric level - which everyone is already doing. Both in warming and
the cooling functions. I remember back to I think a NOVA or Frontline show that talked
clearly about different natural and artificial phenomenon that work to warm or cool
certain regions.

GE may not be a solution, but if things get desperate enough, it may be the only
thing some random person with their hands on the levers of power or industry
believes we can use to control our global thermostat, if we even can control the
"global thermostat", or it may be the only thing that can generate what would pass
for a political consensus, either for or not-against, and if it is cheap enough balanced
against disaster it will end up as THE only solution.

2 - Anyone who thinks it is is mistaken

Who/What is mistaken? What is the price of being mistaken. Who would pay it?

Realistically the people who control this country and others if GE worked in some
small pilot program they would use it again, scale it up, use it again, because the
alternative costs are too high ... FOR THEM. Those costs have to be profitable
before they are effective because no decision making group ever gives up power
or resources.

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 27, 2020 at 5:58 am

CPA - perhaps you should reread various posts if you think bunches-frame mocking of your random 1950's horror film references are a sign of his being 'scared'.

[Portion removed.] Clearly you know deep down, as does Joseph, that we will have to spend a lot of money on Climate Change.

Don't make the mistake made over and over by fantasizing about some cheap, silver bullet solution from nuclear.

Nuclear bankrupts those that foolishly idolize it.

Now, let's look at REALITY:

Web Link

U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned - July 31, 2017, NYT

"In a major blow to the future of nuclear power in the United States, two South Carolina utilities said on Monday that they would abandon two unfinished nuclear reactors in the state, putting an end to a project that was once expected to showcase advanced nuclear technology but has since been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

The two reactors, which have cost the utilities roughly $9 billion, remain less than 40 percent built. "

Geez, what a cluster.....

"In March, faced with mounting losses at its nuclear endeavors in South Carolina and Georgia, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. Toshiba agreed to pay $2.2 billion in exchange for being released from the South Carolina project, but utility officials said that was unlikely to be sufficient to finish the reactors."

Bankrupts Westinghouse. Toshiba pays TWO BILLION just to get OUT of another crappy nuclear deal.

And they sit unfinished. Billions and billions and billions and billions and billions down the drain and not a single watt.

If they put those billions into renewables, they would have created jobs, been producing for a decade already, etc..

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 27, 2020 at 6:04 am

Reading about nuclear scams is a strange combination of embarrassment, outrage and mortification.

"July 2016: SCE&G requests the last of 9 rate hikes to fund the project."

9 rate hikes without a watt.

You guys are pushing this kind of lunacy? What did our pal Albert E say about trying the same thing again and again?

I am flabbergasted that anyone buys into this fantasy.

Posted by CenT Sense Conservative, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 27, 2020 at 8:43 am

All this liberal spending of taxpayer and ratepayer money into nonsensical nuke plants.

No wonder cres-park-anon thinks he's in horror cinema. No need to be frightened, cpa.

Posted by More Research Is Needed, a resident of Bailey Park,
on May 27, 2020 at 9:53 am

> "...please don't forget to mention permafrost, that methane is a big concern I didn't see in the article. When the methane is ignored it tends to hand a victory to those who don't want to study geoengineering."

^ Is it possible that excessive methane gas contributed to the Ice Age? My biology teacher once mentioned that mass global flatulence on the part of the animals could have contributed to the demise of countless species who were not able to adapt to the lowered temperatures.

Lastly and historically, climate change & global warming appears to be a reoccurring process as explained by our priest who cited the necessity of Noah's Ark as a means of saving various indigenous animals in response to the rising waters.

Though I am somewhat skeptical of nuclear power based on various incidents (i.e. Chernobyl, Fukushima etc.) a physicist acquaintance assured me that they are safe providing the engineering design is optimal. He said the aforementioned failures were due to inept and improper design.

It appears that modern science and religion can work together to solve this environmental issue.

Posted by Strange bunches frame, a resident of Community Center,
on May 27, 2020 at 11:44 am

"Though I am somewhat skeptical of nuclear power based on various incidents"

[Portion removed] the real issue - COSTS.

Or 50s horror flicks.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 27, 2020 at 1:15 pm

buried headlines
[Portion removed]

Talking about the point made, the real point made is that we will be extremely lucky if just money will solve this at all, so harping on costs and not cost-benefit or value or low-externalities get bypassed. Kind of like there is always money for the military, but not for social programs - same lame arguments.

My point was that the criticism of nuclear that it costs a lot is bogus. We'll be very lucky if we have enough money to solve this crisis, so as I implied and I guess you missed, we will have to pay any amount or suffer any disaster because of money we refused to spend in the past, and still refuse to spend now because of the political disruption it will cause.

My point was that if one opens ones eyes to nuclear to the same extent of other solutions, you anti-nuclear people want to spend a lot more and take a lot more risk in order to avoid using nuclear out what is mostly an emotional position, not a position based on facts. So the anti-nuclear people make up or distort a lot of facts in order to try to push people into not looking at the facts. One thing that is done politically is to dump artificial costs on nuclear power that are not counted with looking at other alternatives - and then the cost argument can be trotted out. Like they d

Both sides have risks - so far, global climate catastrophe is a risk that does not attach to nuclear power. So as far as cost, what really costs the most?

Behaviorally, we humans have gone with whatever is cheapest every time, and with petroleum how much have we spent to try to control the world's oil supply, include all the costs of the oil wars, and all the military spending to ensure oil flowing. How about has all the trillions of dollars we have sent to the Middle East? We have waited so long to do anything that we will be lucky if there is a real solution at any price. That fact leads back to the geo-engineering which may end up looking to those in charge who might have to come up with a solution as "the" solution - whether it even works or not.

The calculus on this issue is skewed by the class of people who have input to its solution.

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 27, 2020 at 4:42 pm

> you anti-nuclear people want to spend a lot more and take a lot more risk in order to avoid using nuclear out what is mostly an emotional position, not a position based on facts.

So, so unsupportable. I'm not anti-nuclear; I'm anti-wasted money. We NEED that money to effectively fight Climate Change,

[portion removed]

> not a position based on facts.


- nine billion just to shut down San Onofre
- ten billion completely wasted on two nuclear plants shut down in 2017 at 40% completion and that no one will ever finish

I posed a basic request days ago, and you've studiously ignored in every rambling post of yours:

"share with us the opening dates and construction costs for the last 5 US nuclear plants."

Please, please, please defend those five nuclear plants. Or ten, if you dare. With, as you request, facts.

Please prove me wrong.

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 27, 2020 at 5:01 pm

[portion removed]

- nine billion just to shut down San Onofre
- ten billion completely wasted on two nuclear plants that no one will ever finish

[portion removed]

I've seen this posted elsewhere. You want nuclear plants to reduce carbon. Need about 100 of them. Ten billion each, though we know they'd be more. Minimum 10 years before they produce a single watt, though we know they take longer.

That's a trillion bucks, another half trillion for shutdown costs (again, we know it's more,) plus long term security, etc..

An Apollo project to reduce carbon, and we know that ups the costs because the contractors can smell the need - round it up to two trillion. Again - no power for a decade, stretching out to get them all finally cranked up, call it an average of 15 years.

Cool. 15 years of virtually no power, two trillion. Afterwards, we have 25 years of carbon free, really expensive energy.

- or -

Put that 2 trillion into a moonshot project at renewable resources. Today. All the methods, and the resulting power would spur storage research and "hockey-stick" the price per watt and storage DOWN.

Power goes into the grid starting in a year (yes, slowly, but again, it hockey-sticks.)current

Call it the GND if you like - create a lot of jobs in production, installation. Start upgrading buildings per the GND immediately. You know the drill, you've read about the number of Americans we can put to work in short order, doing really productive things for the climate....

Today. Not in 15 years.

And I promise no 10 billion dollar plants shut down before opening in South Carolina.

No nine rate hikes for rate payers, without a watt to show for it.

Y'all need to lose your emotional attachment to nuclear. It'll bankrupt ya.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 27, 2020 at 5:26 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@buried: You are probably aware that there are global differences in the relative costs and interests in nuclear power, with many countries expanding their share. Even Japan is reinvesting in nuclear. Eight years after Fukushima, they have restarted a number of reactors and are planning to get 20% of their energy from nuclear by 2030.

Can you share a more nuanced view of nuclear that accounts for this?

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 28, 2020 at 6:03 am

> Can you share a more nuanced view of nuclear that accounts for this?

No. Nuanced or otherwise. I'm just looking at US history. I don't subscribe to the fantasy that some magic bullet will allow us to ignore entrenched history by saying "gosh-o-golly, let's just do what other countries do for cheaper nuclear plants." Shucks, imagine that! Presto! Voila!

Yeah, no.

re: Japan - Other than quick scans which appear to show that Japan went from ~30% nuclear to 3%, and 'wants' to get back to 20%, I don't have much to offer.

Isn't the hope to do so based on reopening existing, not on new construction? Some of their plants will never reopen for safety reasons. Public pressure is intense. Anyone would agree that with the huge cost difference between reopening a plant that has already been built/paid for, is a far cry from the financial model for building new, let alone Japanese public opinion about nuclear, etc..

Has ground been broken on new sites?

Japan (beware - prepare for understatement) is in a unique position with their size, population, geography, lack of natural resources, recent history (particularly) and more.

Sherry: have you had a moment to engage in the enlightening exercise of spending 15 mins looking at the last five or ten nuclear plants built in the US? One notes that when doing so, the sheer number of delays, cost overruns, multiple rate hikes, etc.. are indeed the striking feature of such an exercise.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 28, 2020 at 10:45 am

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@buried: Yes, I think there is absolutely no doubt that it is prohibitively expensive to build new nuclear plants in the US. The point I'm trying to make is that it isn't the case everywhere, so I think a more relevant question is, should we be working to decrease that cost (by a lot), or should we give up on nuclear (or outsource it to the extent other countries figure it out)? And, as you mentioned in an earlier post, what are the opportunity costs (what else could we be doing with that R&D investment), and what are the timeframes involved? People are doing studies on just these questions, so I hope to do a blog post on this, but not sure when.

I removed one post impersonating Herb Caen. That poster recommends this article: https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2020/05/28/the_green_god_that_failed__almost_494439.html.

It reads to me like a tired diatribe based on stale information. A more fact-based source of information on nuclear power from that same site is this video from COP23, which is from 2017 but on the site's front page. (Caution: Some information like the renewables penetration is out of date.)

Posted by Herb Caen, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 28, 2020 at 11:47 am


I've been dead since 1997, and I have no problem whatsoever with someone “impersonating me." Enjoy your summer!

Posted by CenT Sense Conservative, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 28, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Renewables are the conservative conservation solution. Prices are plumetting.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 28, 2020 at 8:18 pm

On the nuclear question:

1. A lot of the costs involved are from regulations. I am very pro-regulation, and
the stand of Conservatives or Republicans on regulation I think are wrong-headed
and dump externalities on the public and regulations are protections and very
important. One problem is that by their nature as laws they are cases where the
idea of regulation can be pointed out and they look stupid or ineffective.

I can't speak with knowledge on what the regulations are for nuclear plants, but I
assume some of them are reasonable and some of them are not. We need a better
way to evaluate the regulations and costs on nuclear, and to look and reveal
regulations that were activated solely in order to manipulate the markets and the

2. To go hysterical on the costs of building a nuclear plant, in my opinion, is extremely
wrong-headed and closed-minded. There are many other factors to think about.

a. One of them is that as I said before, we will be extremely lucky if we can solve
this global problem with ANY EXPENDITURE OF MONEY. Money is the least
of our worries. Money is an abstraction of labor and value we use to try to keep
human activity is some kind of balance. That is not working that great right now
anyway, but if there was a solution to Global Warming whatever the cost we would
need to take it, or even if we could not afford it. What was the cost of WWII to the
British Isles? Or to the US. Was stopping the existential threat to the world only
an economic decision?

b. The costs of a nuclear plant are front-loaded, which means that while the cost of
of design and constructions of a nuclear plant is and seems huge, the performance
of the plants is superior to every other kinds of electrical power generation and the
follow-on day to day costs are much, much, much less.

c. Nuclear plants can stay up much longer between maintenance periods. Solar is
up for 6 hours a day. Wind is available when the wind is blowing. What is the cost
for over-building capacity for both and then having to build batteries with a poor
technology or other schemes to store power for when we need to use it?

d. Nukes operate for decades and we do not even know what the life of these plants is,
and using 50 year old obsolete technology to make some of the anti-nuclear claims
is dishonest and emotionally hysterical. The potential here is something that anti-
nuclear people refuse to even consider. No way to make an informed decision.

e. The operation of the plants in normal circumstance is much less expensive than other
types of plants ... 99% of the time they almost run themselves, and again that is based
on 50 year old designs. There are new designs that run themselves. Some experimental
plants are even buried underground and have no routine operators at all.

f. There is no continual fuel inputs to a nuclear plant. You do not need a pipeline of oil
or natural gas or truckloads of coal. Think of the costs in terms of money, pollution
and health of that.

g. There is no massive waste from burning fossil fuels. No air pollution, no radioactive
smoke from burning coal distributed by air over the atmosphere, onto plants that we
them consume. There are no mountain tops that need to be removed, or massive
valleys filled with coal ash.

3. US companies have the global expertise in nuclear now. Cutting out the possibility of
nuclear is just ceding this economic sector to other countries that have already benefited
by taking our old technology and using it, cutting us out of the loop. It is important for
economic lead to stay involved and be the ones who develop the technology to make it
cleaner and safer.

4. New nuclear technologies are out there now, and other ideas. One of the reasons that
nuclear costs as much as it does is that they have never gone into mass production.
I think it is safe to say that with the plants we have been running for the last 50 years
the problems have been almost negligible compared to oil, coal and even some of the
so-called renewable options that chew up biomass and trees - which are not really

For decades now American policies have been either done in secret with no input from the
public - i.e. the mushroom treatment, or the public have been herded or manipulated or
masqueraded as with astroturf demonstrations. It is time to start coming clean and being
truthful to Americans. We have a serious defect in our democracy if we cannot really get it
to work coherently. Why should some big riot of demonstrators have an outsized effect
on our policies?

What I see when I look at nuclear with fresh eyes is a potential long term solution to global
warming that requires little industrial input compared to other technologies, and give off
no carbon. I also see people so determined to keep their minds closed that they will do or
say anything to prevent even an objective look at the technology or test plants.

I am sure there are points I've missed, as well as commenting on the waste issue and
cleanup, but this is enough for now.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 28, 2020 at 10:04 pm

> No. Nuanced or otherwise. I'm just looking at US history. I don't subscribe to the fantasy
> that some magic bullet will allow us to ignore entrenched history by saying "gosh-o-golly,
> let's just do what other countries do for cheaper nuclear plants." Shucks, imagine that!
> Presto! Voila!

Jesus Christ, chill and come down out of the red zone. This rhetoric is useless and inflammatory. I am tired of arguments based on ... "I must be right, see how upset you've gotten me". Sounds like a dysfunctional family.

I see and agree at least a little with some of your arguments, but do not reach the same conclusions, and if you would chill and drop the needle out of the red zone a production discussion might ensure. The problem is I feel that you don't want to have a productive discussion.

"Fantasy", "magic-bullet", "gosh-o-golly", "Shucks", "Presto! Voila!" .... you using this language and rhetoric and then having the audacity to brand it like it is the other side saying it is amazingly dishonest, but again, you seem to justify it by your own intensity of emotion.

I'd love to hear what some others in the audience think abut that. Are people moved by this kind of stuff?

Posted by buried headlines, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on May 29, 2020 at 5:56 am

Welp, since spending 45 mins creating a tr;dr was more important the a revealing 5 minute exercise into the last half dozen US nuclear plants, gosh, I shouldn't be surprised that it comes down to changing the subject to "he's mocking me!"

Yet the tldr was EXACTLY the predicted case of: the fantasy that some magic bullet will allow us to ignore entrenched history by saying "let's just do what other countries do for cheaper nuclear plants."

Wow, we knew it was coming, but I'm underwhelmed at how fast, how uninspiring - see his #1.

> This rhetoric is useless and inflammatory.

Yet completely predicted the future (the "future" being a whopping 14 hours later when you reached for the 'magic bullet'.)


> To go hysterical on the costs of building a nuclear plant

Wouldn't you be hysterical at spending 10 billion as a ratepayer, just to receive a half finished nuclear plant that will NEVER work? Never generate a watt?

> The costs of a nuclear plant are front-loaded

Prove it. Show the math. Pick any two of the last five nuclear plants. Also explain the concept of FRONT-loaded to the good folks in SoCal who are paying 9 billion in shut down/decommissioning costs for San Onofre.

"Front"? (btw: notice how I haven't brought up the costs of lifetimes of radioactive storage?)

It's late, gotta go.

Maybe I'm just a bean-counter, but I gotta run - there's countin's to be done!

Before I go, seriously, put yourself in South Carolina's shoes, sitting with a wasted construction site, that cost them ten billion dollars. Think they would have liked the GND-style plan where their money actually netted jobs and clean power?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 30, 2020 at 11:06 pm

Being loud, emotional, sarcastic and feigning superior understanding while offering numbers attacking one side out of context while not applying the same rigor to your own conclusions is not valid or an argument.

The argument over nuclear must be looked at high-level and in the long term, like evaluating the order of a computer program or taking the limit of a math equation.

Meaning in an abstract sense, the limit of nuclear as time goes by are, sufficient safe plants that can provide almost unlimited maximum power with minimum risk and danger. The technology is here, and there are good arguments for overlooking the disasters of the past when you look coldly at all forms of power over the whole planet. Locally, bad as several disasters have been the trend is that over the long haul nuclear becomes safer and cleaner, more efficient and more important.

Looking at solar or wind in the long term there are issues there that will always require backup generation of some sort, and there is an actual limit to the amount of power that can be generated from wind and solar - we cover up larger and larger areas of the Earth for what is a not very dense solar flux per sq.ft., to how many resources do we want to use to build batteries and storage just to deny nuclear the opportunity.

Think big, practical and long-term. In the long term nuclear is safe, clean and provide much more power. The path there has risks and costs, but it it clear.

Solar and wind work, and no one is against them, but to run the world on solar and wind should be obviously a problem.

What happens is there is a volcano event like the eruption of Krakatoa, or a planetary event like an asteroid impact, or some limited or full nuclear exchange, or even with the progression of global warming huge fires that kick up so many particles into the atmosphere that the sun is obscured. What happens when at the time of that disaster when we need more power the most - solar is down for the count?

I can predict you will just dismiss these thoughts and repeat again the same argument that fails to convince anyone but the closed-minded or specific costs or mistakes and wave away examinations of the causes and contexts.

Costs, even looking back on some of the worst nuclear mishaps , are not really the issue, which is why anti-nuclear people wave them around so furiously and never look at anything else or engage is honest side-by-side comparisons - except on their limited term. Factor in the costs of the Deepwater Horizon for oil, or the wars in the Middle East, or the liabilities to all the toxic effects of coal and not immediately doing what we can to end that. Figuring out what is the best and even necessary in the long term and then doing it is what the best most just projects do, and making the costs work out.

The argument should be - is there is any place at all for nuclear power on planet Earth, and the answer has to be in the broadest possible sense, if there is, then the sooner we get on it the sooner it can make a difference, and every minute of delay is like the delay of measure to slow the coronavirus, a tragic waste of time.

Running EXCLUSIVELY towards wind and solar sound pure and good, but it closes off other opportunities that no matter what you say now with your bellicose and strident arguments, you cannot predict the cost or success. Most of the issues around nuclear are political or managerial, the bad human factors - which I have always pointed out and agree with, that is nuclear's biggest problem, but the technology has worked, has worked well and even better than others when the drawbacks are not exaggerated. Business implementations have not been optimal because of costs saving and profit making attempts that ironically have ended up making the economics look worse - because the costs are mostly political.

Your one argument is along the lines of zeroing in on costs from the past. I never deny past problems, incompetence, bad engineering, human failings and wedged politics have raised costs, maybe done their best to make them seem aversive, but most of that argument is pure hand-waving and cherry-picking numbers out of global context while ignoring or not even bothering to look at the same arguments in your own preference for wind and solar, or whatever you suggest.

Just wondering if you have anything positive to say about nuclear, or is it just the Devil to you? ;-)

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on May 31, 2020 at 4:15 am

Here is one technology for disposing of spent nuclear fuel.

Deep Isolation Inc.

Deep Isolation Inc. Technology Overview: Web Link

Deep Isolation Inc. Overview Video: Web Link


Posted by Bunch, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 1, 2020 at 11:48 am

"Costs, even looking back on some of the worst nuclear mishaps , are not really the issue"

Why didn't you answer the dude's question about last five or ten nukes and what they cost, if its "not an issue"?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 1, 2020 at 5:09 pm

> Why didn't you answer the dude's question about last five or ten nukes and what they cost, if its "not an issue"?

Because it is not THE question, or THE criteria, and I think I said it if you read and comprehend what I said. There are some things that cost is not the deciding factor.

Additionally, he pointed to costs only when it comes to nuclear, and that was the extent of his critique ... if you are even a different person. If you are fair and objective you would be asking questions about where his costs come from, and what they were and the context he was talking about.

I feel that there is no attempt to have a conversation with you or this guy, you both have to same modus operandi, throw out a lot of unqualified statements about costs, exaggeration and behave is if cost in these specific circumstances are the only issue - while ignoring questions about the costs and externalities about what we have now and how we got here, and in addition how much wind and solar can actually supply over the long term.

There is a lot of dishonesty in this one tactic re-used over and over, and when the response to questions is more shrill and strident.

I see this person did the same thing on Sherry's next article already. Talking about military technology and how costs are so inappropriate. Well military and space technology have always been at the forefront of innovation and technology. Our whole economy is based on military and space technology that has been productzed or used in a civilian setting. The transistor, the Internet, GPS, etc. Costs come down

The big problem with nuclear is that the costs cannot come down because of the fear of nuclear, the lack of mass production and a lot of fear based attacks on the technology. I agree with a lot of the criticisms, I just do not see them as insurmountable, or a reason to forever bar the door to nuclear which is the only large scale non-carbon source of electrical energy generation. As I said this is a new stand for me on this issue, I think it is time for people to challenge their assumptions and open their eyes to the pluses and minuses of all power generation technologies.

To put it bluntly, with carbon based generation we have plenty of power, but the real costs of it are incalculable, and are leading to a global catastrophe for life on the planet. With nuclear so far - we have really 2 major disasters Chernobyl and Fukushima in 50 years, both of which were bad, but not a threat to life on the planet, and lessons learned make nuclear technology safer as time goes by. The issue is people, and engineering - not the technology. There is nothing that says nuclear cannot work in the future at least as well and certainly better than it has in the past.

Again, how much of the land do you want to cover with solar panels? What is the liability and exposure to disaster from any of the scenarios I talked about. We are cutting down forests still at an alarming rate and covering cities with solar panels is a lot like covering your car with solar panels ... there is not enough solar flux that falls on your car to power it, and with cities, especially the denser they get, the less energy per person solar can supply.

How come you anti-nuclear people do not search honestly for facts and numbers and just throw out one-sided criticisms that have been around and aimed only at stopping nuclear and not looking and comparing all technologies?

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