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Earth Science

UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate 433

Posted by samzenpus
from the its-getting-hot-in-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On the heels of a study that concluded there was less than a 1% chance that current global warming could be simple fluctuations, U.N. scientists say energy from renewables, nuclear reactors and power plants that use emissions-capture technology needs to triple in order keep climate change within safe limits. From The Washington Post: 'During a news conference Sunday, another co-chair, Rajendra K. Pachauri of India, said the goal of limiting a rise in global temperatures "cannot be achieved without cooperation." He added, "What comes out very clearly from this report is that the high-speed mitigation train needs to leave the station soon, and all of global society needs to get on board."'"
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UN: Renewables, Nuclear Must Triple To Save Climate

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  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:22PM (#46742389)
    It's been what, like 50 years we've been using old tech? Nuclear is cleaner than coal barring an accident. Coal is guaranteed to kill and hurt people. With Nuclear you at least have a chance of everyone being healthy. Even if the country doesn't adopt some grand scheme of making a bunch of nuclear plants, making one here or one there would get our technology levels higher and create jobs for smart people.

    A lesser known situation is if you actually create an energy surplus, food costs, logistic costs, and transportation costs get cheaper. So if we ramped our energy production up by 2-8x what we got now, people could charge their hybrid car at home for even less than they do now. I think this dream is often grouped up with a superconductor power grid idea which is unrealistic for the short term. I think for a better world, we should be aiming to create energy surpluses.

    Sometimes I even have the strange thought that energy conservation ideas hurt society's growth. It would be almost better if we used more power in the short term so energy could invest in itself and provide more power at lower costs down the road. I mean it is better to conserve electricity, but I don't hear people championing the idea of creating a global energy surplus.
    • by ericloewe (2129490) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:31PM (#46742441)

      Nuclear is cleaner than any fossil fuel, properly managed. Overall, despite the accidents, nuclear's impact has been a lot smaller than that of fossil fuels.

      Unfortunately, accidents aren't seen as an opportunity to learn and eliminate old flaws, but to halfheartedly dump the whole thing, leaving behind ancient designs with known flaws instead of new, safer designs.

      • France has done really well with nuclear.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @05:12PM (#46742641)

          France imports electricity from Germany whenever it's too hot or too cold. In either case, limited cooling is available. In the winter, this is exacerbated by the enormous consumption due to the French preference for electrical heating combined with a lack of insulation, because electricity is cheap for consumers in France. Besides, the argument that stopping construction of new nuclear power plants is the reason for older designs remaining in service is bogus: Older designs remain in service no matter what (except for a total ban, which is happening in Germany). Keeping old plants online is simply the capitalist thing to do: They're bought and paid for and still work. Why would you shut them down?

          • Pebble bed reactors solve the cooling problem. China is currently building a few of those, so we'll have a chance to see how well they work.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:12PM (#46743007)

              Old stuff. Pebble bed reactors have their own problems. This one had atmospheric releases of radioactive material, contaminated the ground and groundwater below it (complete with increased Leukemia rates in the vicinity) and is currently much more radioactive than planned so that deconstruction can't begin: AVR Jülich [wikipedia.org]. This one was decommissioned after just six years due to the continuous repairs driving the costs up: Thorium High Temperature Reactor 300MW [wikipedia.org].

              The nuclear industry will always try to convince you that the solution to all nuclear power problems is waiting right around the corner, to convince the public that nuclear is still an option. Whenever and wherever they're allowed to continue, not only do they keep the old designs online, the "new" designs never deliver on the promises either. They keep covering up accidents, they keep playing down potential risks, they keep deferring risk to the public (nuclear power plants are uninsurable: if - when - the shit hits the fan, everybody pays the price, in more than one way.)

              • Old stuff. Pebble bed reactors have their own problems.

                There is no power supply that doesn't have problems.

          • In the winter, this is exacerbated by the enormous consumption due to the French preference for electrical heating combined with a lack of insulation

            That's why it's good that there's a EU directive that by the end of 2020, all new constructions will be required to be low-energy or passive houses.

        • And they are 'silently' switching to renewables, like the rest of the world, oops: the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa.

          • , like the rest of the world, oops: the rest of Europe, Asia and Africa.

            that's.....basically you showing you know nothing about the topic. How many new nuclear plants is China building? Do you know? Your comment shows you don't.

            • It does not matter how many nuclear plants China is building.
              The parent claimed that overpopulation is the problem. He seem not to realize that 5% of the world population holds the rest (95%) hostage. That 5% are the USA.

          • Guess why it is silent? Because it is so quiet as to not significantly increase the % of energy derived from renewables.

    • Energy conservation doesn't need to equal depraving ourselves of something. The usual tips about not leaving the lights on in empty rooms are fine, but you can apply the same reasoning for more modern things.

      A small example would be Netflix. You can use a small box like an Apple TV [apple.com], which has a 6W power supply, or something like an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 and use from 10 to 20 times more power for absolutely no reason.

      Try to reduce your daily energy usage whenever possible. The first one to benefit is you

      • You can use a small box like an Apple TV, which has a 6W power supply, or something like an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 and use from 10 to 20 times more power for absolutely no reason.

        If you happen to already own the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 console, how much energy does it take to manufacture and ship an Apple TV box and an automatic HDMI switch box?

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          The "embodied energy" of a laptop is about 1500MJ, so let's call the Apple TV+HDMI a generous total of 2000MJ. Shipping energy is relatively low and fits easily in the 2000MJ upper bound.

          The Xbox360 uses ~120W to watch a movie, while according to ArcadeMan the Apple TV uses 6W. Thus you make up the embodied energy in about 2000000000/114 seconds, or about 200 days.

          The Xbox One is a bit more efficient, using ~75W, for a makeup time of about 335 days.

          Either one is less than a year, so if you want to minimize

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Each time I watch a two-hour movie on the 6W device, it uses around 43 kJ. On the 120W device a two-hour movie uses 864 kJ - a delta of 821 kJ per movie. Given the 2000MJ number you provide, that's over 2400 2-hour movies until break-even... might be my lifetime total.

            • by retchdog (1319261)

              Ah, yeah, fair enough, though the standby consumption of an xbox is also much, much higher than an appletv. The arithmetic is trivial, but I won't bother with it since I have neither.

      • by bunratty (545641)

        Energy conservation doesn't need to equal depraving ourselves...

        Or depriving!

        • You never know. He may have meant "I'm a profligate user of energy resources and I need a spanking" whereby his original phrasing is entirely appropriate.

          I've learned not to second-guess some of these folks ...

      • by khallow (566160)

        Try to reduce your daily energy usage whenever possible.

        I would suggest doing a modest cost/benefit analysis first. Energy usage reduction is not that valuable for most people outside of a few big things. And who's going to consider the more ludicrous optimizations like changing your sex to male just so they can save a little energy usage?

    • by Noishkel (3464121)
      It think it would also help if we'd step away from the 'old fashion' reactors in favor of breeder reactors. Or the thorium based technology. When the kinks get worked out of that tech.
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      A lesser known situation is if you actually create an energy surplus, food costs, logistic costs, and transportation costs get cheaper. So if we ramped our energy production up by 2-8x what we got now, people could charge their hybrid car at home for even less than they do now. I think this dream is often grouped up with a superconductor power grid idea which is unrealistic for the short term. I think for a better world, we should be aiming to create energy surpluses.

      Uh, that's what's getting us into trouble with Hydro-fracking across the US in terms of going back to "burning stuff" vs. Nuclear. Natural Gas doesn't pollute like Coal but the production side of the equation destroys watersheds, releases more GHGs and has pushed energy prices down in the US. Nuclear is an unpopular scenario for a lot of people because of Fukishima, Three Mile Island and Chernoble. All you have to do is look at San Onofre in California to see how political wrangling has killed Nuclear en

    • A lesser known situation is if you actually create an energy surplus, food costs, logistic costs, and transportation costs get cheaper. So if we ramped our energy production up by 2-8x what we got now, people could charge their hybrid car at home for even less than they do now. I think this dream is often grouped up with a superconductor power grid idea which is unrealistic for the short term. I think for a better world, we should be aiming to create energy surpluses.

      The more cheap energy you can get, the more cool stuff we can do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tailhook (98486)

      Sometimes I even have the strange thought that energy conservation ideas hurt society's growth. It would be almost better if we used more power in the short term so energy could invest in itself and provide more power at lower costs down the road. I mean it is better to conserve electricity, but I don't hear people championing the idea of creating a global energy surplus.

      The nations with the highest power consumption have ceased excessive breeding. They're all near or below replacement population growth among their indigenous population.

      That right there is an outstanding argument for surplus energy.

      A degree of conservation is a fine thing, but it's also a cop-out and a means of comfortable people to pull up the ladder behind themselves. Our millions of elite Al Gores will always live comfortably regardless of how hungry and cold they make you. Thousands of elderly Briton

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Even the third world has mostly ceased excessive breeding. The fertility rate in Bangladesh has fallen from over 6 in the 1960s to 2.2 today, and the same is true in other countries. Contraception and family planning schemes have worked pretty well. The focus is now on Africa, and a lot of progress is being made.

        The world population will continue to rise due to the large number of children and child-baring age people we have now, but is looking like it will level off at about 11 billion later this century.

    • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:56PM (#46743223)

      Nuclear is cleaner than coal barring an accident. Coal is guaranteed to kill and hurt people. With Nuclear you at least have a chance of everyone being healthy.

      I beg to differ [nextbigfuture.com]: nuclear is cleaner than coal even if you include accidents. The calculations on that page are admittedly from early 2011, but it accounts for 4,000 deaths from Chernobyl. I could add up a bunch more from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], but screw that, lets just throw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the mix - about 250,000 deaths. And then let's round that to an even one million for the heck of it.

      The death rate is still lower than coal by an order of magnitude. Nuclear is cleaner than coal even if you include 4x the deaths of atomic acts of war.

      That whole piece is fascinating, especially for insights such as

      Coal and fossil fuel deaths usually do not include deaths caused during transportation. The more trucking and rail transport is used then the more deaths there are. The transportation deaths are a larger component of the deaths in the USA than direct industry deaths. Moving 1.2 billion tons of coal takes up 40% of the freight rail traffic and a few percent of the trucking in the USA.

      and

      Those who talk about PV solar power (millions of roofs) need to consider roof worker safety. About 1000 construction fatalities per year in the US alone. 33% from working at heights. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. An average of 362 fatal falls occurred each year from 1995 to 1999, with the trend on the increase.

    • by bored (40072)

      A lesser known situation is if you actually create an energy surplus, food costs, logistic costs, and transportation costs get cheaper.

      I think a lot of people have been talking about this recently. The US economy in particular is heavily dependent on energy costs. So, a lot of what has been floating Midwestern states is the fact that energy companies are hiring like mad and putting in oil/gas wells pretty much as fast as they can. This drives unemployment down, while helping to lower energy costs, all whil

  • Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:26PM (#46742413)

    Humans are too greedy and too unreliable for nuclear to be the safest option.

    Fix humans? That's way too hard.
    Use something else? Doable.

    Unless we just really have no problem with every X years some spot on earth becomes uninhabitable for the next 50,000 years...

    • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rising Ape (1620461) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:33PM (#46742447)

      Unless we just really have no problem with every X years some spot on earth becomes uninhabitable for the next 50,000 years...

      More like 300 years at most, with most of the affected area clear in under 100. The offending isotope is Cs-137, which has a half life of about 30 years. The long lived stuff isn't volatile enough to be released in significant quantity.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Unless we just really have no problem with every X years some spot on earth becomes uninhabitable for the next 50,000 years...

      If X is big (like say greater than 50,000 years, for example), then it's not that big a deal. Chernobyl and Fukushima won't be considered uninhabitable for that long.

      Plus, you can always put another nuclear plant in that spot.

  • Renewables (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masonc (125950) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:30PM (#46742439) Homepage

    The long and short of it..we're buggered. Thankfully, we will all be dead when it gets really shitty. If you think that the countries of the world can band together to reduce emissions and turn to renewables, you are smoking the funny tobacco. I install solar in countries that have the highest electricity prices and the most sun, but they refuse to implement renewables, preferring that good old diesel products. People are inherently stupid, short sighted and greedy. Nothing but war and pestilence will cause change. Nothing else ever has.

    • by khallow (566160)

      The long and short of it..we're buggered.

      It's not much of a buggering to be honest. I'm more concerned about poverty, overpopulation, and desertification. Some of these can be made worse through extreme global warming, but they are major problems, bigger than global warming even in the complete absence of global warming.

    • Nothing but war and pestilence will cause change. Nothing else ever has.

      And Occupy Wall Street. We changed the world.

    • by stenvar (2789879)

      The long and short of it..we're buggered.

      The long and the short of it is that humans cope just fine with change; on the scale of decades, we don't even notice it.

      If you think that the countries of the world can band together to reduce emissions and turn to renewables, you are smoking the funny tobacco.

      That's because politicians and even dictators around the world actually understand what an economic disaster it would be to adopt climate change legislation and that they'd get lynched if they tried. So, they

  • Nothing will happen (Score:5, Informative)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:34PM (#46742453)

    Human minds just aren't made to react to something so abstract, so distant, so far away. Look at the crisis building up with the US economy, national debt, and so on - something that could cause a whole generation to undergo a great depression yet nary a thought is given to it.

    For example, on the economic situation, this guy was made the US's top accountant for over a decade, and appointed to posts by both R and D presidents and yet he makes videos that can barely garner 2k views about the situation (since September):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

    I guess if there was a girl twerking in it, it might work.

    Anyway, that's how it is. We react, many don't think too far ahead. Both situations are basically simple concepts in theory (global warming is built on the green house effect which is simple to demonstrate, the economy on interest and other high school math), but so many interests go in and muddle issues, that the average guy doesn't know what to believe, so even those with a modicum of forethought are stymied by special interests.

    And the special interests want status quo. Nothing will happen. That's the tragedy of democracy and why it never really lasts long. Power and money is like water, it always gathers and concentrates.

  • by buybuydandavis (644487) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:40PM (#46742471)

    Any other old geezers remember just *who* it was that put the kibosh on the general use of nuclear power in the US?

    Are we ever going to get an "oopsie, so sorry" from all the environmentalists who squashed the US nuclear power industry? Who have fought fracking tooth and nail, while it has been the prime enabler of decreasing US carbon emissions?

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:45PM (#46742493)

    To paraphrase a movie: "Climate Change is People!" There's too many people on this world, all wanting the same thing and that's what's causing this. Depletion of our resources is occurring at an accelerated rate all because of more and more people and the rush for economic expansion. Fundamentally there will be two paths ahead, one which means controlling population growth and the second the upheaval of the worldwide economic engines both of which are driving the higher CO2 levels. Of course if a volcano or two erupt here and there it won't help but neither is allowing for commercial deforestation and destroying watersheds. Well before we all burn up, we'll have wars over water and other key strategic resources. We know it's on the horizon because we all can't get along on this planet and we'll never come to a consensus on wealthier nations changing their ways while allowing less developed nations a chance at economic growth. We're about due for another World War aren't we?

    My suggestion is to invest in Mountain-top real estate in a Northern latitude and live like Euell Gibbons. [wikipedia.org]

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:53PM (#46742531)
    As someone who works at the company [nexteraene...ources.com] that is the largest generator of wind and solar power in North America I know how hard it is to get Nuclear projects off the ground. Most people will agree that Nuclear is a very cost effective and efficient means of power generations but mention building it anywhere near their zip code and they go ballistic.
    • What we really need is for the federal government to step up buy the land put its foot down and say protest all you want we are building this fucker one way or the other. Anyone caught on the construction site will be shot for for trespassing in a secure location.

    • Re:NIMBY rules (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stoploss (2842505) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @05:24PM (#46742709)

      Most people will agree that Nuclear is a very cost effective and efficient means of power generations but mention building it anywhere near their zip code and they go ballistic.

      I live 15 miles from a nuclear plant. I am pleased about this, but I wish they would tear it down and build a replacement plant with at least twice the generating capacity and a Gen 3.5 (or Gen 4, since I'm wishing) design.

      But, barring that, yay... I have locally-produced nuclear power at home!

    • by exabrial (818005)
      We need a little more forward-looking NRC. Need research into alternative fuel types (breeder reactors, thorium cycle, pebble bed, etc). AP1000 is a great step forward, but we need competition with even more designs.
  • by American Patent Guy (653432) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:24PM (#46743075) Homepage

    When it's the "UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change". Here's the BBC's description of IPCC: "The IPCC itself is a small organisation, run from Geneva with a full time staff of 12. All the scientists who are involved with it do so on a voluntary basis." http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc... [bbc.com]

    Relax, people. There's no U.N resolution here; there's no consensus of nations here recognizing the urgency that requires this "tripling" of non-carbon-based energy. It's easy for the press to say this is the report from the U.N., when it's not.

    If you get 12 scientists in a room that have volunteered to produce a report on global warming, what would you expect them to produce? Something that says everything's peachy?

    You won't see this old boy freaking out over something dumb like this.

    • by bunratty (545641)
      Who said anything about freaking out? All we need to do is get more energy from non-fossil fuel sources. It's mostly about building new electric power plants, so it's not like we need your permission anyway.
    • Relax, people. There's no U.N resolution here

      When was the last time a UN resolution made a difference in the world?

  • by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:29PM (#46743091)

    The RK-9000 is a mechanical keyboard made by Rosewill which is the inhouse manufacturer for NewEgg. What does a keyboard have to do with anything?

    You cannot find a more "green" keyboard then a mechanical keyboard. Each keyswitch is rated at 50 milliion keypresses. If a letter foes buy a new keyswitch. ( Though I would buy a whole bunch of them ).Desolder the old switch solder in the new. My miniUSB port just broke and I wil be soldering in a new one as soon as it arrives. If the controller goes I can get a new one. I can probably get a new PCB if I have to. They are made to last and when any part breaks, it can be repaired or replaced.

    So why are they banned in Illinois. Thanks to our idiot of a governor. ( Second only to Gov Moonbeam ). He created a law regulating e-waste. The law says that for a manufacturer to sell their product, they have to register and certify that they recycle a certain amount of their products. [1] So for this reason, instead of being able to buy a long lasting green keyboard, you have to buy a cheap will fall apart soon keyboard.

    More and more the wacked out conservationalists ae acting like this,.

    [1] In fact when you sto[p and think about it, many electronics products can last forever,so companies may never even get the chance to recycle a large percentage.

    • by Dorianny (1847922)
      Unfortunately I have often seen old mechanical workhorses get tossed in the garbage bin and replaced with cheap plastic for trivial reasons such as faded letters or because it didn't have volume controls or media keys.
  • get stuffed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @06:54PM (#46743209)

    During a news conference Sunday, another co-chair, Rajendra K. Pachauri of India, said the goal of limiting a rise in global temperatures "cannot be achieved without cooperation.

    Actually, that's the only way it can be achieved: "without cooperation", through markets. Economic development both makes it easy for individuals and nations to cope with the effects of climate change, such as they are, and to develop and switch to other forms of energy.

    The "cooperation" people like you propose are going to keep global economic development back by decades, hinder the development and deployment of more efficient energy sources and technologies, and worst of all form the basis for massive corruption and rent seeking as big corporations and their political cronies write huge handouts into the regulations.

    What we should do, however, is stop subsidizing fossil fuels and stop propping up regimes in the Middle East that give us cheap fossil fuels. We should also stop subsidizing energy-inefficient industries like agriculture. Having to bear the true cost of fossil fuels would do wonders for the adoption of renewable energies. But, of course, cutting subsidies is not on the table, which already tells you that all this bloviating about the apocalypse isn't about saving the planet, it's about adding even more crony capitalism to the crony capitalism we already have, now courtesy of the UN.

    Thanks, but get stuffed Mr. Pachauri.

  • by jphamlore (1996436) <jphamlore@yahoo.com> on Sunday April 13, 2014 @07:19PM (#46743333)
    One of the problems is that the "wrong stance" on climate change is just a reason to stigmatize people as being morally unworthy. We have reinvented the Pharisees versus everyone else. The Pharisees were actually reasonably moral people, virtuous and giving donations to charity. In fact the deniers of climate change are not doing a thing to prevent any major renewable energy project from proceeding in the world. There has been a massive build-out in solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing capacity, and there are multiple giant installations being constructed in solar concentration and in offshore wind farms. The technologically super-advanced Germany, regardless of political party, is firmly committed to its Energiewende that will increase that country's usage of renewables to 60% by 2050. Whatever obstacles there are to renewables, the climate change deniers are for practical purposes unimportant. Failure is not because of others, it lies in ourselves. Stop blaming, start fixing.
  • Cooperation is the key word.

    The world currently operates primarily on competition. Competition between companies, workers and nations. But since there is only a single ecosystem that makes human life sustainable, that means there is a general interest for humankind, and cooperation is needed to enforce it.

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