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How we evolved to reject climate science

Is it any wonder so many people turn their back on climate science? Who wants to hear - as the World Bank told us today - we’re heading for a four-degree-warmer world, with more heatwave deaths and life-threatening…

Worrying about the future is bad for your survival - have we evolved to prefer optimism? Vassilis Galanos

Is it any wonder so many people turn their back on climate science? Who wants to hear - as the World Bank told us today - we’re heading for a four-degree-warmer world, with more heatwave deaths and life-threatening sea-level rise?

Climate communication is surely the latter day task of Sisyphus. A 2012 Gallup poll found only 52% of Americans accept the earth is warming. Barely more than half of those think it man-made. Warming science is a boulder, and it keeps rolling back down the mountain. And the gravitational force might just be evolution.

The new kid on the climate-change block is the psychology of climate science rejection. Why are so many, faced with so much evidence, so unconvinced?

Confirmation bias is shaping as a strong contender in a wide field. This type of “motivated reasoning” means we favour information that sits well with our values and beliefs, and discount any that contradicts. Cultural leanings, rather than scientific literacy, better predicted climate beliefs in a recent study.

Believing in a world that fits with our values – be it one of wind farms or nuclear power – feels good. Statements that challenge those beliefs – turbines cause illness, nuclear energy is dangerous – disturb the peace. To preserve the pleasant mental state we downgrade the objection.

Everyone is vulnerable to confirmation bias, including scientists - although peer review keeps that mostly in check. But those who reject climate science might just be more prone. Why?

A world of looming environmental catastrophe is, to put it mildly, unpalatable. And so a large hedonic reward is on offer to any who discount it.

The impact of motivated reasoning on climate communication raises a big question. Why are we so disposed to believe in accordance with our feelings, rather than the evidence? The happy news is that it may have conferred evolutionary advantage. Optimism might not only feel good, but be good for you.

The logic runs like this. As brains evolved, so did our capacity for foresight. Faced with an uncertain future, say a season of famine or plenty, big brains were able to muse on either eventuality. But dwelling on the negative was a recipe for ongoing worry, and stress.

And chronic stress is damaging, courtesy of elevated stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. The resulting nasties include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and the modern scourge, depression. A hopeful outlook may well have been protective.

Positive thinking has prolonged life for people with HIV/AIDS. And the bright expectations behind the placebo effect lead to better pain reduction, and stronger responses to immunosuppressants. The glass half full approach also motivates striving and better coping. Pessimism breeds demoralisation and overwhelm.

On each of these counts, daubing one’s psychological canvas with a rosy tint favoured reproductive success. But our penchant for believing what feels best might also be an unhelpful evolutionary spin off.

Emotions are an indispensable tool in the evolutionary survival kit. With them, we parsed the world on two axes. Food, shelter and mates favoured reproduction. They felt good, so we sought them with gusto. Predators threatened survival. Our fear motivated defence and avoidance. Tagging events with feeling enabled rapid decisions and life-saving behaviour.

In a fascinating twist we may also have evolved to tag our beliefs with positive or negative emotion. As Chris Mooney put it recently, “We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.”

If we accept natural selection, beliefs reinforced with good feeling must have been good for survival. And the beliefs that saved lives were generally true. Ergo, beliefs that felt good were on the money.

Yes, it may have been tempting to think the charging rhino was a mirage. But to succumb to temptation was surely a fatal weakness.

But, as George Ainslie illustrates, there was a compelling downside of felt beliefs. As brains grew larger and forward planning more sophisticated, reward became possible for beliefs about the distant future. Cropfarmer Man could derive pleasure contemplating abundance many seasons hence.

Yet any test of accuracy was so far ahead, that a false belief could be embraced with little impact on survival. Good feeling could reward beliefs whose falsity might never be exposed, nor cause harm to the holder. Positive emotion was no longer an index of truth.

The upshot is that confirmation bias pulls two ways in the rejection of climate science. It may offer a protective shield of optimism, with tangible health benefits. But the shield may also ward off truth.

One solution for communicators is to combine climate facts with an appeal to values. A recent study found progressives were more convinced by warming messages paired with an anti-pollution message. And conservatives were more persuaded by the science when nuclear power was part of the remedy.

Climate communication that acknowledges the listener’s social perspective has a better prospect of instilling beliefs in line with the evidence. And equipping the audience with a concrete means of making a difference will, in all likelihood, see optimism follow.

Join the conversation

233 Comments sorted by

  1. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    Speak for yourself - I was intelligently designed to reject climate science. Is it my fault your intelligent designer wasn't as good as my intelligent designer?

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  2. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    I do not necessarily disagree with your points Paul, but I think this argument understates the role of the media, the fossil fuel funded climate denier stink tanks, political leadership and political affiliation in establishing opinion on the science.

    This Ipsos poll is quite remarkable in the contrast across the 13 countries that they polled.
    http://www.ipsos.fr/sites/default/files/attachments/international-monitor-on-climate-risks-ipsos-axa.pdf
    http://www.axa.com/en/news/2012/climate_risk.aspx

    The assertion "Climate change has not been proven by science" was supported by 42%-Japan, 37%-Great Britain, 35%-USA down to 18%-Germany, 17%-Italy with a low of 5% in Indonesia.

    Looking at this survey, it is pretty clear generally the more active the climate denier groups are the less support for the science. Hardly a surprise.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      You mean, it's harder to believe something when you think your material comfort depends on not believing it?

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  3. Jason Dwyer

    logged in via Twitter

    Like @MikeHansen above,

    i suspect the marketing undertaken by the deniers ( funded of course by the polluters ) has the most significant impact on rejection of the science.

    that the rise in rejection of the scientific methods has come at a time where a marked and rapid decline in quality journalism ( and quality mainstream news media in general ) has allowed small and vocal groups to appear to have much greater voice.

    even worse, the current preference toward being first to report rather…

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    1. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Jason Dwyer

      Jason

      "i suspect the marketing undertaken by the deniers ( funded of course by the polluters ) has the most significant impact on rejection of the science."

      What marketing are you referring to? How does this manifest itself such that it can influence the masses?

      It cannot be the political parties. Both main political parties accept that climate change exists. Both have stated that humans have something to do with it. Both have committed to a CO2 target. Each has a different way of achieving…

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jason Dwyer

      Gday Jason, Ken Swanson poses several interesting questions about funding of Climate Change Denialism.

      In your response to Ken, I suggest you start with Oreskes & Conway's exposé of funded misinformation, "Merchants of Doubt".
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants_of_Doubt
      www.merchantsofdoubt.org

      Ken can even get it in audio of he goes to http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/naomi-oreskes---merchants-of-doubt/3012690

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jason Dwyer

      Ken Swanson said "The skeptics have who? Andrew Bolt". Andrew Bolt is not likely to have his opinion swayed by the weight of evidence, so does not qualify as a sceptic. He is a person who denies AGW is a threat to our future, in spite of being intelligent enough to know where to look for the evidence and to understand what he finds. There's a word for people who deny stuff regardless of the facts, but it escapes me at present ...

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  4. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Thanks for this article, Paul.

    Perhaps Climate change Denialism can be thought of in terms of "the Devil making work for idle brains". Here we are, a big-brained species, with a wealth of knowledge about the natural world discerned by our scientists - and yet, the vast majority of us prefer to remain pig ignorant, and believe the nonsense for which we pay money to some octogenarian billionaire who might fancy he's still leading a Crusade against Commies/Greenies/Druggies/Chardonnay sippers.

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  5. Dirk Baltzly

    Professor of Philosophy

    "Motivated reasoning" is one way to put it. Another way to put is the old adage that "one person's modus ponens is another person's modus tollens." In a very penetrating article Naomi Klein argues that the climate sceptics have, in many cases, thought through the implications of the actions needed to reduce greenhouse emissions more clearly than those who are not sceptics. They see (correctly, Klein thinks) that confining global temperature rises to 2C or so will require very substantial restrictions…

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    1. Brad Adams

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dirk Baltzly

      I think you and Klein are correct Dirk. Many people want to stop climate change while maintaining their current lifestyles, but that isn't possible. They think all they have to do is vote Green and let the government solve the problem.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Dirk Baltzly

      "The Klein article is here. http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate "

      That's a great article. The leading quote in that is:

      “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

      i.e. their position is that the "red Marxist socioeconomic" action required to deal with global warming will NEVER be worth whatever benefit it will bring because electing a government that performs any sort of "red Marxist socioeconomic" action is the beginning of the end and carries the risk that we will succumb to "red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine". To them, that is worse than any climate catastrophe.

      So denialists don't care that their arguments are dishonest and wrong. It's just a smokescreen for what they really think. That's why they will never change their minds regardless of the facts, as Mike Wilbur-Ham keeps pointing out.

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  6. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    Is it odd we keep investigating the psychology of people who hold this particular opinion? This pursuit is a little creepy.

    Why aren't we also interested in studying the thinking of people who advocate climate action, even though they have no scientific knowledge? Surely that's just as psychologically interesting.

    Scientific truth is really irrelevant to ideological motivations.

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    1. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Nah - the bizarro world of people who think every scientific body in the world has got it wrong is far more interesting.

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    2. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student at Tzu Chi University

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Why don't we investigate the psychological peculiarities of those who believe AIDS is caused by a virus, instead of ridiculing those who believe it's caused by homosexuality?!!!

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    3. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Hey Tim

      Suggesting that anyone who has a freaky opinion (AIDS was a punishment from god, homeopathy cures illnesses, astrology is scientific, whatever) needs psychological assessment is really disturbing.

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    4. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student at Tzu Chi University

      In reply to James Jenkin

      I suspect you've purposefully navigated around the point there, but still, try and have a look for a disanalogy between those who accept the overwhelming consensus of qualified scientific experts, and those who reject it, incidentally protecting deeply held beliefs/worldview in the process. Might help make sense of the relative scarcity of Atheist Creationists, for example - and studies like this: 'Cultural leanings, rather than scientific literacy, better predicted climate beliefs in a recent study.' If you're looking for some balance so this feels less like a left wing conspiracy, consider rejection of science on the safety of GMOs of a similar kind...

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    5. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to James Jenkin

      It would be more neutral and possibly more interesting to investigate both. The application of the knowledge would not be neutral.

      Knowing why people don't believe something when you believe that the person ought to believe it; possibly more useful knowing why people do believe it, I can understand the value in that.

      Why do people believe in religion - or not? Define belief and religion. I'm not calling the AGW business religion, but, it does depend on how it is defined. If we define…

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  7. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Dr Biegler, you claim that, 'One solution for communicators is to combine climate facts with an appeal to values.' begs the obvious question as to what values you have in mind.

    What 'values' do you suggest are combined with the climate fact that humans should stop using fossil fuel to stop irreversible climate change?

    Would the fact that you choose to burn fossil JetA1 fuel to fly interstate and overseas be a suitable fact?

    You can choose to stay home, you can choose not to fly but you cannot…

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    1. Paul Hanley

      Student

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      It seems as if you are confirming the view that Dr Biegler is putting forward. You would rather not face an ethical dilemma or feel like a hypocrite by accepting climate change without changing your lifestyle, so instead you reject the theory altogether.

      Correct me if I'm wrong but thats what I gathered after reading your comment.

      There are many factors that contribute to climate change. Just because one form of emission, in this case jet fuel, cannot be replaced as easily at the moment shouldn't mean all other forms of mitigation should be stopped so we don't all appear to be smug.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "Just because one form of emission, in this case jet fuel, cannot be replaced as easily at the moment shouldn't mean all other forms of mitigation should be stopped"

      Indeed. If the only source of CO2 emissions was jet fuel then there would be no enhanced greenhouse effect problem. Gerrard Dean is just cherry-picking one of the most difficult emission sources to deal with, a dishonest argument: http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-texas-sharpshooter

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  8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    For the last four days there has been an almost non-stop debate on climate change on The Conversation.

    Both https://theconversation.edu.au/kyoto-protocol-fails-get-ready-for-a-hotter-world-10742# and https://theconversation.edu.au/global-drought-has-not-increased-but-climate-change-is-still-a-threat-10751# have been a platform for a few deniers (about half the posts) with the other half of posts rebutting them.

    For the majority of those reading The Conversation the big picture science is settled…

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "Why those who support the science waste so much time and energy rebutting the deniers is a mystery. It does not matter what these few deniers think."

      The likely next Prime Minister of Australia is a denialist. It will matter what he thinks if and when he reaches that position, even if he is one of a "few".

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    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Chris O'Neill -
      Nothing you write to rebut a denier on this site will be read by Abbott.
      Nothing you write to rebut a denier on this site will change the mind of a denier.
      And most of the denier vs science postings happen long after most people have read the article, so the debate is only followed by those who receive the email notifications, and so even most readers of The Conversation don't see most of the denial vs science debates.

      What will make a difference is convincing the average voter that more needs to be done about climate change, and that Abbott is not the person to do this.

      And as last night's Q&A showed, Labor have their heads in the sand just as much as the deniers. So equally important is convincing those who support Labor that more must be done.

      If 60% of the population demanded more action then things will change. It wouldn't matter that 10% of the population remain deniers.

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    3. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael Wilbur-Ham: "Nothing you write to rebut a denier on this site will change the mind of a denier." No, but it might reduce the risk that what the denier says will influence another reader.

      Silence constitutes assent.

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      In reply to David Boxhall -

      Unfortunately I agree that silence can be taken to equal assent. That is why I sometimes still bother to rebut.

      Even worse, that about half the posts on The Conversation deny the science can be taken as proof that the science is far from settled, and this is a set up for those deniers who strike a middle-ground to appear balanced and sensible.

      And I'm convinced that some of the most frequent deniers are organised and paid (if the cash-strapped universities can…

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    5. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      MWH, you seem somewhat unnerved that the Conversation does not have the facility to vote down or hide comments from those you choose to define as deniers. Never mind, life is sometimes full of little disappointments.

      On the subject of your preoccupation with deniers, denial etc. Climate science has successfully (and in some cases unsuccessfully) used a variety of proxies to define temperature records. I look upon the use of the term “denier” in this forum as a proxy for scientific conceit. While I find it amusing to continually read it in your posts, I have to say that its very appearance in any post at all leads to at best two chances of the contents of that post or journal paper being taken seriously. And one of them is Buckley’s.

      BTW – two of your posts here contained 14 paragraphs, 22 sentences and 17 references to denier or denial. A superior achievement.

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    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Grant Burfield - Interesting that you said nothing about my strong suspicion that some regular deniers here are organised, and that it would be trivial for the vested interests to fund people to deliberately disrupt forums such as this.

      And yes, I'm very upset at the moment The Conversation is a platform for deniers of science and of rational thinking.

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    7. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      MWH - talk of a suspicion without proof is worthless waffle. Presumably you have some evidence that "some regular deniers here are organised, and that it would be trivial for the vested interests to fund people to deliberately disrupt forums such as this."

      So let's see your evidence. Personally I couldn't give a toss whether you define me as a denier or not, but if you do perhaps you could enlighten everyone as to what organisation I belong to and how I am funded. And for all the other deniers here.

      But documented and verifiable facts only please. I presume you've heard of Lord McAlpine.

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    8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Grant Burfield - It is strange how deniers cannot read plain English.

      I said " I'm convinced that some ...". Of course I don't have proof. It would be big news if I had.

      I've not analysed all the old posts well enough to get a feel for who is part of this, so I don't know whether or not I should suspect that you are a part of the organisation.

      I've posted my reasons for suspecting that some deniers are organised several times before. Standard denier technique to pretend that each conversation wipes out what was said before.

      Given the importance of internet discussions in forming public opinion, do you think it would be sensible for those who have lots of money and oppose action on climate change to ignore the internet? That they would pay lobbyists in Canberra, that they would pay for advertising, that they would pay for institutes such as the IPA, but would just ignore the internet? I can't believe that they would be that incompetent.

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    9. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Oh dear. The shame. MWH has tagged me as a denier. Can you please send me a certificate and a lapel badge Michael? At least you are honest enough to say "I don't know whether or not I should suspect that you are a part of the (denier) organisation". Michael don't give up, keep at it, with your investigative skills I'm sure you will find something. As much as I try to hide my backing; by big oil, big tobacco, big (insert a big something here) the truth will out and your expose will have high double…

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    10. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Grant Burfield: "MWH has tagged me as a denier." "It might get you a guernsey as an IPCC report writer"

      Thanks for saving us the trouble of supplying proof.

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    11. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Mike W-H: "If only those rebutting the deniers could direct their energy and enthusiasm to where it might make a difference - working out how to move forward, how to convince those who already accept the science that more needs to be done."

      That will be irrelevant if Abbott becomes the next Prime Minister, while he is Prime Minister. But I agree it will be relevant when Labor next wins government. Your position seems to be that you expect little, if any, appropriate action during an Abbott Prime Ministership and will just be campaigning to get the Labor party to act appropriately when they next win government.

      "If 60% of the population demanded more action then things will change."

      That's only true if it means that they do not elect a denialist government like Abbott's. People's vote is not determined by just one issue.

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    12. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Chris.

      Rebutting the deniers on The Conversation is unlikely to change any votes.

      Unfortunately I think that the Labor party have a proven track record of avoiding any real action on climate change. Yes, action might lesson under Abbott (but note that at the moment Abbott's policy is for the same 2020 cut in emissions as Labor policy).

      As far as I'm concerned everyone who voted Liberal or Labor for the last two elections shares responsibility for Australia's abysmal failure to act…

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      To MWH, so when you said:

      "working out how to move forward, how to convince those who already accept the science that more needs to be done,"

      you didn't mean working out how to convince those in the Labor Party who already accept the science that more needs to be done. You just meant voting for The Greens.

      "action might lesson under Abbott (but note that at the moment Abbott's policy is for the same 2020 cut in emissions as Labor policy)"

      I don't know what you think but to me there is…

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    14. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Of course we should keep trying to convince whoever is in power to do more.

      But voting for them when they promise negligible action is endorsing this policy, and so we can't really expect them to change.

      Given that the science has failed to convince Labor, I believe the only way that they will change is if many more vote Green. This will not eventually lead to a Green government because Labor will respond by changing its ways.

      What I really meant by "working out how to move forward" was to have this sort of discussion on The Conversation. Instead of wasting time with science vs deniers, we should be debating what actions need to be done and hot to achieve this politically.

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    15. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "Of course we should keep trying to convince whoever is in power to do more."

      This was your original point. In the case of the Liberal party this will achieve nothing (unless the science acceptors in their own party outvote their denialists). In the case of the Labor party most of them are starting from the position of accepting the science which is vastly different from starting with denial.

      "But voting for them when they promise negligible action is endorsing this policy"

      Introducing and…

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  9. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    Worth noting that Monday night's Q&A on the ABC didn't have one person on the panel who thought that Australia needed to do a lot more to prevent climate change.

    When future generations wonder how we got it so wrong, the part of Q&A on climate change will be very instructive.

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Australia's lack of cutting emissions is nothing to do with Gerard Dean and friends, but all to do with the denial of the panel on Q&A.

      These people all accept climate change. But they all have their heads in the sand about the magnitude of the problem and the need to do much more and soon.

      Rather than wasting time trying to convince Gerard and friends, we need to devote all our energies to trying to get those who already accept the science to then accept the full picture and the need to do much more.

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  10. Colin MacGillivray

    Architect, retired, Sarawak

    Global warming- Why aren't we saving the planet?
    a book by Geoffrey Beattie page 226
    Learned helplessness: whatever we do now the planet will heat up. It's now only a matter of degrees (although every degree really matters)
    Unknown outcome: We will never know if what we do had any effect.
    No feedback: for behavioural changes to occur the consequences, rewards or punishment must follow immediately. In this case there is no feedback only the feel good factor.
    Doubt: with the media constantly promoting the anti global warming argument seeds of doubt are sown. This diminishes the feel good factor for some people.
    The word warming is a bad word for a threat: it promotes thoughts of something gradual, a luxuriant ocean, a tropical paradise. Warm is the wrong image- the human mind recognises the possible metaphor in the word.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Colin MacGillivray

      "The word warming is a bad word for a threat: it promotes thoughts of something gradual, a luxuriant ocean, a tropical paradise. Warm is the wrong image- the human mind recognises the possible metaphor in the word."

      Would the term "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming" (CAGW), which is used as a belittling term by many who deny the science of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), be more appropriate for supporters of the AGW science to start using? There is no doubt that many sober minds are projecting a future in which uncontrolled, unmitigated AGW causes catastrophe for the biosphere and human civilisation. The problem is that the catastrophe is so far ahead in time that many people cannot identify with it, or take any responsibility for it. By the time AGW unambiguously causes such effects as weather extremes, oceanic acidification and sea level rises, which would provide the kind of evidence currently in short supply, it will be far too late to take any effective action.

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  11. Emmet Fox

    logged in via Facebook

    I find this approach to be very limited by its biologically deterministic and individualizing logic.
    It is individualizing in that it sets out a standard model of human reaction without reference to current societal and cultural relations. It's biologically deterministic attitude operates on a logic of circular reasoning - starts with premise of hunter gatherer genetic leftovers or hard-wiring as explaining all human behaviour, then it invents some evolutionary settings to support specific claims…

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    1. Emmet Fox

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Emmet Fox

      I just came across a section of an interview in New Scientist with Shi-ming Fang on being awarded his prize for revealing scientific fraud in China - which illustrates my point. When asked "Why is science fraud such a problem in China?" he responds with a list of societal relations:
      "It is the result of interactions between totalitarianism, the lack of freedom of speech, press and academic research, extreme capitalism that tries to commercialise everything including science and education, traditional…

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    2. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Emmet Fox

      Good points, Emmet.

      Following your logic, the reason why climate denial occurs, or at least a slowness to action, is because of a lack of belief that the people causing it will pay the price for it (rather like the academics who get away with misconduct, it's SEP).

      "Meh, so the grandkids MIGHT have hotter summers". It's just a maybe an SEP.

      Nuclear, other options, are also SEP. Fukushima? That was the Japs, NIMBY. We're different, we'll do it perfectly, we don't get tsunamis. No, we're not, the largest sources of uranium are in our backyard in a world heritage site that has ecological value in protecting us from emissions. Oh shut up you, we need the resources money now...

      NIMBY = SEP.

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  12. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Mr Hanley

    You miss the point. I am not saying that we shouldn't reduce our fossil fuel usage or not develop more sustainable or renewable energy at all.

    Our western lifestyle is energy intensive. We use power to light our homes, our factories, our schools and hospitals as well as run our lathes, microscopes and computers at work. These are essential to maintaining our standard of living, dare I say, our very existence.

    However, and this is the big however, the bulk of the billions of litres…

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    1. Michael Pulsford

      Lecturer, RMIT School Of Art

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      I've often wondered why you keep bringing up air fuel, so thanks for giving more detail. It seems a fair point, and it makes sense.

      I certainly agree we should all fly less. I don't completely agree with your argument, though.

      To take an example:

      If I'm a doctor who smokes, even though I know it is bad for me, does that mean I shouldn't tell my patients what is good for them? Sure it'd be more convincing, and would set a better example, if I didn't smoke. But it wouldn't change the fact…

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Rest assured, Mr Dean, that if academics were as wealthy as Rupert Murdoch or the Koch brothers, they'd fuel their personal jet aircraft with biofuel.

      Have you been keeping up with biofuel research as I've previously suggested? If so, then you'd already know about "Biofuel Breakthrough: Quick Cook Method Turns Algae Into Oil"
      ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2012)
      "ANN ARBOR—It looks like Mother Nature was wasting her time with a multimillion-year process to produce crude oil. Michigan Engineering researchers can "pressure-cook" algae for as little as a minute and transform an unprecedented 65 percent of the green slime into biocrude. ..."
      Read more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031123504.htm

      Stay up to date at http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/matter_energy/

      You'd also know about a US Navy project that plans to electrochemically extract CO2 and hydrogen from sea water, then reform them to jet fuel - not your beloved JetA1 grade, but SP5.

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  13. Neil Gibson

    Retired Electronics Engineer

    This is another one of those "what is wrong with people who don't believe climate science" articles which is breathtaking in it's arrogance. There are a lot of very clever people who don't subscribe to the catastrophe theories propounded by "climate scientists". In the US you say that 48% of Americans think their world is not warming. They can only listen to scientists and look out the window and make their own judgments.
    In 1999 the father of the warming catastrophe movement James Hansen of NASA…

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      It's good that you didn't complain about name calling in the same sentence as saying one such as "Global Warming Bible", Neil. You don't look quite so silly.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Wow - that's got to be the most outrageous piece of cherry-picking I've ever seen.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Wow, Felix's right! Neil quotes Hansen ~100 years after the effects of CO2 emissions were clearly explained by scientists like Arrhenius (the father of industrial chemistry).

      Neil quotes Hansen in 1999, when Hansen was, and remains, unaware of the work of US scientists & engineers in the '50s & '60s to combat combustion emissions by means ranging from vast tree plantings to advanced nuclear power -- quoting Hansen? Really?

      Hansen, whom I've spoken with, came late to the party. He's right today, as is McKibben, but he's hardly the seminal figure you try vainly to puff up, Neil.

      Don't worry, though there are adults working on the problem, as they've been for decades.
      ;]

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  14. Phil Dolan

    Viticulturist

    Very interesting theory and acceptable. The question I have though is the overwhelming evolutionary urge to protect one's children. Denying climate change does not do that. Or is it a way of allowing the children not to worry?

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  15. David Tribe

    Senior Lecturer in Food Biotechnology and Microbiology, Agriculture and Food Systems at University of Melbourne

    It's great to see the concept of cultural cognition get attention. But its worth thinking of other policy topics where conversation gets stymied by cultural factors.
    One serious one is vaccine use, where conservative moral values polluted a health debate is the USA about HPV vaccine, but fortunately not in Australia.
    http://www.culturalcognition.net/browse-papers/who-fears-the-hpv-vaccine-who-doesnt-and-why-an-experimental.html
    Another area is in Agricultural technology. In this case the evidence that's rejected is about the safety of GMO crops, and the people most affected are those in developing counties where malnutrition and poverty are not helped by stultification of farm innovation.
    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2012/04/rejection-of-science-not-unique-to-climate-change/
    In this case it's the "cultural progressives" who are the "deniers".

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    1. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to David Tribe

      David Tribe, with whom I have clashed repeatedly on the subject of GM, is at it again, with sweeping unsubsantiable claims

      1. That there are no scientists who question genetic modification - that GM is safe - many reputable scientists and studies would disagree with you. If Mr Tribe can't find them I can send him references to both scientists and studies
      2. That GM can help feed the world, help in the fight against malnutrition, claims for which I have never been able to find any evidence. It has always struck me as a little odd that selling expensive seed that cannot be saved and that have never been adequately or independently tested for human consumption to peasant farmers to allow them to use as much of an expensive herbicide as they can afford is offered as a strategy for solving the problems of the world food shortage. That is if there were a world food shortage, which there isn’t ,there is a world crisis in food distribution.

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    2. David Tribe

      Senior Lecturer in Food Biotechnology and Microbiology, Agriculture and Food Systems at University of Melbourne

      In reply to David Tribe

      In response to John Newton
      RE:1. That there are no scientists who question genetic modification - that GM is safe - many reputable scientists and studies would disagree with you.
      I didn't say that John,

      RE:2. That GM can help feed the world, help in the fight against malnutrition, claims for which I have never been able to find any evidence.

      Tribe: This a a great example of cultural bias in action.

      RE "It has always struck me as a little odd that selling expensive seed that cannot be…

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    3. Mark Carter

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Tribe

      "In this case it's the "cultural progressives" who are the "deniers"."- Spot on David.
      The nuclear power issue is an even clearer case than GMOs. A powerful real-world technology is in our reach to combat climate change, yet so many greens can't bring themselves to accept the science and instead would rather devote their time to ensuring we continue to lean on coal, a more dangerous technology by almost every metric.

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  16. Chuck Moulton

    logged in via Facebook

    Is it any wonder when the "news articles" and "scientific studies" against climate change are derided for being funded by "big oil", while the "news articles" and "scientific studies" in favor of climate change are funded by environmentalists? When the people on both sides spend so much time saying not to trust the other, because their aims are dubious, the average person is most inclined to say "screw you both, I'm going on with my life".

    Sadly, the "screw you both" tactic has them continue down…

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  17. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    We "evolved" to accept signals & sounds from fellow hunters and family as facts to react quickly to.

    Brain scans done while statements were read to us show we initially store each new statement in the same brain region where we store "facts".

    Our brain is about a 20 Watt logic system. Storing an input takes a little power, but then taking time to test its logic and possible truthiness against things we already 'know' takes a lot of metabolism -- evaluation is tiring. Where we evolved didn't…

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    1. Paul Biegler

      Adjunct Research Fellow in Bioethics at Monash University

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for these thoughts Alex Cannara. The view that we are prone to accept propositions by default on first hearing has been given a lot of airing by Daniel Gilbert. Most prominently in his American Psychologist piece “How mental systems believe”. I’m sympathetic to this view. And I agree that those pushing the warming rejection agenda understand the power of getting in quick and fast with information. It will, in many cases, be embraced by a cortex too overloaded to scrutinise and dispel it…

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  18. Tim Niven
    Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Student at Tzu Chi University

    Is there any explanatory theory for this:

    'One solution for communicators is to combine climate facts with an appeal to values. A recent study found progressives were more convinced by warming messages paired with an anti-pollution message. And conservatives were more persuaded by the science when nuclear power was part of the remedy.'

    I can understand the aversion to pollution side of it - but why the love for nuclear power? Do so called "conservatives" (a misnomer, but we'll ignore that) have some kind of cultural issue with renewable technology? "Real men eat asbestos for breakfast", kind of thing?

    Seriously, any theories?

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Tim Niven

      For one thing, Tim Niven, nuclear energy is capable of providing base power, for which the only currently viable alternative is coal or gas.

      France and many other countries have shown it to be a safe, reliable and major source of power for over forty years.

      The numbers of problems which many like to highlight, such as Sellafield, Chernobyl and Fukushima have been unfortunate but now quite avoidable accidents - all resulting deficiencies in initial building or planning, although in the case of Fukushima, it is hard to criticise the Japanese for not expecting a tsunami of that magnitude.

      Supporting nuclear energy follows from responsible pragmatism, spiced with a large dose of reality.

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Tim Niven

      @ Tim Niven

      "I can understand the aversion to pollution side of it - but why the love for nuclear power?"

      That question has been nagging at me also.

      If we have evolved for 'optimism' - how have we managed to face many problems from the ozone hole through to child abuse (with which we are now finally grappling).

      I have never understood the 'conservatives' position that any solution to climate change must include the exceedingly polluting nuclear option. We could be transitioning towards non-polluting renewables without the inclusion of a fuel that causes pollution to obtain it and has a polluting waste that lasts for eons?

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    3. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Niven

      Tim Niven: "... why the love for nuclear power? Do so called "conservatives" (a misnomer, but we'll ignore that) have some kind of cultural issue with renewable technology?" You might just have hit the nail on the head.

      It seems to me that Conservatives (note the capital) see more opportunity for profit in nuclear. Renewables, with their potential for distributed generation of power, are regarded as socialistic (never quite figured out why - to me, distributed power is individualistic). At best, Conservatives see lower profit potential in renewable energy; they're thus hostile to it. Of course, anything supported by "Greenies" must be opposed by any Right thinking Conservative.

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    4. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student at Tzu Chi University

      In reply to Tim Niven

      Hi John. You've left the question I asked well alone and gone in your own direction there. Though incidentally I think you might have contributed to the beginnings of an attempted answer.

      FIrstly, baseload is by no means a settled question. For example, http://www.energyscience.org.au/BP16%20BaseLoad.pdf. But that's a side issue you might like to discuss elsewhere - being off topic here.

      So I know that "conservatives" see themselves as "responsible", "pragmatic", usually business types, who in my experience are often quick to claim no ideology, just "hard-headed" dealings with "the facts". By contrast, they usually see environmentalists, and "The Greens", as the exact opposite of these things. So I'm guessing a taste for nuclear feeds this worldview somehow. Maybe if the irresponsible, unpragmatic, out-of-touch environmentalists are proposing X, the not-X must be correct? Furthermore, is there more for investors in nuclear power and uranium mining?

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Tim Niven

      Dianna Art: "I have never understood the 'conservatives' position that any solution to climate change must include the exceedingly polluting nuclear option."

      I think that should be "should not automatically exclude" rather than "must". Using "must" makes it a strawman.

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    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Tim Niven

      @ Diana - one possible reason that some wish to consider nuclear power as part of the toolkit addressing the problem of AGw is that it is NOT "exceeingly polluting" If you are going to make claims such as this - it perhaps would be better if they had some evidence?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_nuclear_power
      http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/np-risk.htm
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-human-cost-of-energy

      If there is an accident, that is obviously…

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  19. Ben Heard

    Director, ThinkClimate Consulting

    Good piece.

    Having been through the valley of despair on climate change so to speak, I will vouch for the notion that optimism can co-exist will a state of fully embracing the truth, and I am a great deal more empowered to work toward solutions as a result.

    We need more optimism, and more exciting visions of our potential future, the one we can create if we want it.

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  20. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    How many readers would agree that articles like this beg the question? Those who have read the polarised posts on this site over the last few days will recognise that there are many who have not "evolved to reject climate science". Possibly as many accepters as rejecters. Warmists and supporters of the Church of Climate Change come to mind. The sweeping “we” in the Headline surely does not include those who have already had the good fortune to have evolved sufficiently to accept current climate science…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Seems "Warmists and supporters of the Church of Climate Change" demonstrates the thoughtless, fact-avoiding bias you claim to oppose, Whyn.
      ;]

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Gday Whyn, I think Paul Beglier's trying to say that many of us have evolved to an ostrich-like stage, where we stick our heads in a warm dark place until the problem goers away, and others have evolved to the stage of ordering our minions to take that messenger outside and have him shot.

      Me, I've evolved to the stage of trying to understand the physics, and assess the evidence in the light I've my understanding. Here's what I've learned.

      Earth is warmed by absorption of short wave sunlight…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Whyn, Alex is right, the moment you start using infantile ad hominem phrases like 'Warmists' and 'Church of Climate Change' you have defaulted rational argument and deserve to be dismissed out of hand.

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Whyn Carnie: Climate can't be measured.

      This is as good an example of pathological denial as you'll get.

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  21. Neil Gibson

    Retired Electronics Engineer

    Chris O'Neill
    On what planet is referring to a Global warming Bible name-calling?
    Why are you following me? This has nothing to do with the current topic.

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      @ David Arthur

      Thanks for the succinct description of earth atmospherics.

      Not only are too many keeping their heads in the sand, but even after an extreme weather event believe that everything can be put back just as it always was - lack of evolution:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/science/earth/as-coasts-rebuild-and-us-pays-again-critics-stop-to-ask-why.html?emc=tnt&tnt&_r=0

      "Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers…

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Neil Gibson: "is referring to a Global warming Bible name-calling?"

      So you think calling "skeptical science" a bible is not pejorative? What, pray tell, was your objective in calling it a "bible"?

      "This has nothing to do with the current topic."

      Amazing, a denialist troll complains about something having nothing to do with the current topic. What a hypocrite.

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  22. Don Aitkin

    writer, speaker and teacher

    I wouldn't regard the World Bank as an authority on 'climate change', and said so in my post this morning (www.donaitkin.com.au)

    The Foreword to its report is an astonishing collection of assertions about the world, all based on the 'possibility' of 4 degree C warming!

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      This is not a forum for shameless self promotion of denialst misinfromation.

      All the credible science shows that the possibility of 4 degrees of warming is quite real, even those finding that project somewhat lower climate sensitivity than the concensus - and all the credible economic analysis shows the dmages would be in the many trillions - eyt somehow you think it is responsible to pretend that such a risk does not exist?

      I think that is shameful

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    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      Don Aitkin also doesn't regard the Royal Society as an authority on Climate Change

      http://royalsociety.org/climate-change-summary-of-science/

      There is strong evidence that the warming of the Earth over the last half-century has been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, including agriculture and deforestation. The size of future temperature increases and other aspects of climate change, especially at the regional scale, are still subject…

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      The World Bank did some outsourcing to get some expertise on 'climate change', and commissioned the Potsdam Institute for
      Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics (http://www.pik-potsdam.de/).

      In your research for this morning's post, you must have not quite noticed where this is clearly stated, on the front page of the report.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      Don, has it ever occured to you that they just might have had the wits to look up the evidence and consult with the experts?

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      Gday Don, there's another The Conversation item that might interest you. Sunanda Creagh reports on work on Greenland's ice distribution in "Greenland ice loss is accelerating" (https://theconversation.edu.au/greenland-ice-loss-is-accelerating-10863).

      According to a "new study by Christopher Harig and Frederik J. Simons from Princeton University’s Department of Geosciences, published today in the journal PNAS", nearly 200 billion tons of Greenland’s ice mass has disappeared annually in the last…

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      "I wouldn't regard the World Bank as an authority on 'climate change'"

      You should see who Don thinks is an authority on 'climate change'. It's frightful.

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      DavidA, the "ice mass" of Greenland has not been increasing, rather decreasing by amounts that double every 7-8 years. snowfall on it or Antarctica is not making up for "mass" loss. remember what snow looks like?
      ;]
      The "mass" of Greenland is measured avery hour by the GRACE satellite pair, which have a nifty way of sensing gravitational changes under their coordinated path. Ice has far more mass density than snow.

      The latest, yearly ice-mass loss from Greenland alone would require all the power produced by all mankind, running vast freezers over a decade to just refreeze (at 0C) -- no use of power for anything else.

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  23. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    We see Dianna besmirching the: "exceedingly polluting nuclear option", sort of like an ungrateful child -- in this case, having >50 years of non-emitting nuclear power displacing unregulated combustion emissions means what?

    Well, look up NORM Exemptions, Diana. All combustion plants are free to emit 100x the radioactive materials that any nuke can -- we breathe Radium along with all the Arsenic, Mercury.... a coal plant emits. Yes, it's a problem. Not a nuclear problem.

    Then there's the…

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    1. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Oh, dear. Next, we'll have Mark Harrigan declaring beyond all doubt that nuclear is our only possible saviour from global warming.

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    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ David Boxhall - do you think is a positive contribution to any sort of rational discussion?

      Which part of the World Bank calling for urgent action are you in denial about?

      https://theconversation.edu.au/world-bank-calls-for-greater-climate-preparedness-in-australia-planning-unravels-10807

      Which part of the fact even the world leader in renewables, Germany, will require Gas as 40% of their energy future are you in denial about? And that their current strategy involves importing more nuclear…

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    3. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Modern Nuclear plants are non-polluting. Even the radioactive by-products are valuabe and do not need to be wasted or returned to sender. It is only when humans short cut established design and operating rules that problems occur.
      The radioctive pollutants produced as a by-product of burning coal are far more dangerous and copious than those emitted accidentally and infrequently by nuclear stations.
      Ask the Chinese peasants who burn low grade coal domestically from China's massive inland coal deposits. All their lung cancers could be avoided if they had better access to coal-fired electricity.

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  24. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    This notion of sceptics 'rejecting science' is pure nonsense. Thousands of scientists, including a number of prominent climate scientists hold views which are sceptical towards the theory of CAGW. To suggest that all these people are 'rejecting science' is patently absurd. What they reject is bad science such as Mann's fundamentally flawed hockey stick graph.

    Why are warmists/alarmists so obsessed with the 'psychological' aspects of belief/non-belief of CAGW? Maybe because their scientific argument is weak. So their only recourse is to demonise those who hold a different point of view using a lot of unconvincing psychobabble. Prof. Lewandowsky's supposedly soon to published 'moon landing' paper could very well be one of the worst papers ever published.

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      They are rejecting science. For example, you say that Mann's work was flawed, yet there have been half a dozen other studies that used differing methods and all arrived at the same graph. In fact the BEST group's analysis was headed by a "climate skeptic" who has now satisfied himself that climate change is real and human induced. So your statement is a rejection of science.

      Next you assume that scientists aren't people and don't have their own biases and world views. There will always be those who reject science, even among the scientists themselves. This is why science has the peer review system and functions upon weight of evidence. When you view this there is little doubt that climate change is real and some are in denial about it.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Well, well, Geofff, so when the Koch Bros. funded Muller at Berkeley to analyze all the climate data from IPCC folks & everyone else, they were confident that Muller, also a "denier", would give them what they wanted.

      Oops-1, the "Berkeley Whole Earth" study showed that -- wait for it -- all the data converged on the same conclusion -- unnatural warming.

      Oops-2, Muller then srote it all up and explained why he was Denier No More.

      Oops-3 The Kochs tried to quash the report via their foundation $, but to no avail.

      Yes, we have a problem, and it's not with real scientists, like Muller, who actually look at data honestly.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "... because their scientific argument is weak."

      How about "their" empirical observations?

      Observation 1. Sun irradiates earth with short-wave energy.

      Observation 2. Earth re-radiates long-wave energy.

      Observation 3. Greenhouse gases retard transmission of long-wave energy, not short-wave energy.

      Observation 4. Satellite observations show decreasing emission to space of this long-wave energy, at EXACTLY THE SAME WAVELENGTHS as CO2 absorbs long-wave energy.

      Observation 5. Arctic…

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Trouble is Mr Henley - they are not true sceptics - only pseudo sceptics.

      As Lawrence Torccello, prominent ethicist and holder of the Ezra A Hale Chair in Applied Ethics at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, points out: actual scepticism is about positive inquiry and critical thinking, as well as proportioning one’s beliefs to the available evidence (not to mention being willing to alter those beliefs if and when the evidence changes significantly). Pseudoscepticism, on the contrary…

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    5. John McLean

      logged in via email @connexus.net.au

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Alex, you are woefully misinformed if you believe that Mueller was ever a sceptic.

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    6. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      First - Mann's hockey stick was only verified by a relatively small number of studies, mostly by those closely aligned to Mann, using pretty much the same flawed statistical techniques as Mann and with a heavy dependence on a small number of unreliable proxies eg bristlecones and Yamal trees. All this is detailed in A.W. Mountford's excellent book "The Hockey Stick Illusion". Besides there are several hundred published studies that all point to a prominent MWP as warm as or warmer than today. Warmists…

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    7. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey Henley: "using pretty much the same flawed statistical techniques as Mann"

      Utter garbage. They use completely different techniques and completely avoid the much maligned non-centred principal components analysis.

      "with a heavy dependence on a small number of unreliable proxies eg bristlecones and Yamal trees."

      Yet more utter garbage. Even if there was a real problem with those proxies, which there isn't, reconstructions can be made back 1,000 years without them.

      "All this is…

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      GeoffH seems desperately in love with the "hockey stick" issue. We should get him off into more study of issues of more relevant import, like ocean acidification, sea rise, etc.

      Playing in the wimpy stats of low specific-heat materials, like air, offers many opportunities to hide from reality via natural variances.

      But dealing with the fact of isotopic identities of C in air & water that came from us burning stuff is a bit harder to obfuscate, eh Goeff? Hiding from 100s of thousands of years of ice-core data is really hard. And hiding from even longer fossil & sediment data makes the life of a denier truly challenging.

      Isn't that right, Geoff?

      Understand anything about isotopes, ice cores and real things like fossils, Geoff?

      Its clear you don't understand why the "hockey-stick" game goes nowhere for you. Too bad you don't seem to care. It undercuts everything you write.

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    9. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "... a number of prominent climate scientists hold views which are sceptical towards the theory of (sic)CAGW." Every working scientist should describe him/herself as a sceptic, or (s)he is not earning his/her salary.

      To correct your sentence, you should have written "Thousands of scientists, including a number who describe themselves as climate scientists, hold views which are demonstrating lack of true scepticism regarding the theory of AGW."

      To be a true scientist is to be a true sceptic. To reject knowledge for political reasons is contemptible, not sceptical.

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    10. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      I'll just add to Doug's comment...

      Scientists enjoy ignorance. Without ignorance, there's nothing for us to try to figure out.
      ;]
      Religion, and denial, etc., are opposites of that noble use of our brains.

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  25. John McLean

    logged in via email @connexus.net.au

    What an amazing article. I can't help feel that it would be better focussing on gullibility.

    Biegler seems to think that no humans should require substantial evidence before accepting something. But where's the credible and substantial evidence regards supposedly manmade climate change? There isn't any.

    There's been no statistically significant warming for 16 years, and that's despite the continued increase in atmospheric CO2. Temperatures rose more between 1977 and 1996 when there was less atmospheric CO2. How much longer will it take before Biegler admits that maybe CO2 doesn't cause much warming?

    I can't help thinking if that if the last 16 years had shown warming some people would be hysterical by now.

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    1. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to John McLean

      To change the topic to "how I evolved to regect climate science". First , my Dad, who was a scientist , always said to test any statement ". Also ,"to work with the changes in climate, not against them.'' So when I look up BOM data that tells me that air temperatures at our 14 tidal stations have not on average had an increasing trend for 21 years ,I ask questions. When the coastal towns have had a 2 degree warming and the 20 inland towns only a 1 degree warming, I ask ,is the carbon thicker in the…

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  26. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    David Tribe - I wrote:

    That GM can help feed the world, help in the fight against malnutrition, claims for which I have never been able to find any evidence.

    You said:

    Tribe: This a a great example of cultural bias in action.

    You didn't provide the evidence

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to John Newton

      So you want him to link to his articles here that have covered this issue already? Because that would be that cultural bias in action, you seem to be quite happy to negate his comments and articles, yet unwilling to read what he has written and referenced to inform yourself on the very points you ask of him.

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  27. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Chris O'Neil,

    You asked why the IPCC did not reject the "other Hockey Sticks". If you look at those three graphs you referred us to, they all show a Medieval Warm Period with its highest levels commensurate with the temperature in 1998. The projections above that are predictions by modelling, not real measurements which show that the temperatiure of the globe has fallen very slightly since 1997.

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Nicol

      It appears we have a large crop of pseudo-skeptic deniers spreading misinformation on TC at the moment and on this thread

      The Medieval Warm Period was not a global phenomenon. Warmer conditions were concentrated in certain regions. Some regions were even colder than during the Little Ice Age. To claim the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today is to narrowly focus on a few regions that showed unusual warmth - and, really, to deliberately and blantamtly spread fasle claims about the science.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/Moberg_Hockey_Stick.gif
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Temperature_Pattern_MWP.gif
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Temp_Pattern_1999_2008_NOAA.jpg

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to John Nicol

      John Nicol: "You asked why the IPCC did not reject"

      I meant the denialists by "they", not the IPCC.

      "If you look at those three graphs you referred us to, they all show a Medieval Warm Period with its highest levels commensurate with the temperature in 1998."

      For a start, you need your eyes retested for figure 6.10(b). I know denial has an adverse effect on cognitive skill but I wouldn't be surprised if it adversely affects vision as well. Figure 6.10(b) shows a highest reconstructed MWP…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Nicol

      ChrisO, Nicol had a full description of the temperature history from me over a year ago -- he couldn't refute it. He seems to think he can get away with propagating his same misinformation without bound.

      Another here said his dad warned him to "question every statement" -- good advice, because to "question" means to study so that a question can be formulated.

      So whether it's Nicol or someone else trying to hide reality from others, studying facts exposes their fibs. They should, as Nicol could have, discovered their own fibs.

      Indeed, using science, such as the realities of: a) volcanism, b) solar activity, c) ocean cycles, and d) CO2 increases, the last hundreds of years of yearly world temp averages are matched very well.

      One who just goes to the shore and wonders why temps there differ from the interior isn't actually "questioning". Science takes work. Deniers seem to hate such work.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, you continue to disappoint. You & I discussed all this over a year ago, so you know well that: a) the last ~10k years have been unusually stable for interglacials, b) the Medieval Warm Period, The Little Ice Age, etc. are all perfectly mapped by inclusion of changes in solar activity (long & short sunspot cycles, orbital cycles, volcanism, oceanic cycles (El Nino etc.) and rising CO2.

      And, you know from our prior personal discussions that, rather than simply not heating much, the period…

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to John Nicol

      "Your ability to avoid facts and yet think you can continue to fool others is now pathological, John."

      Indeed and we know why he's doing this: http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

      As I said earlier, the denialists' position is that the "red Marxist socioeconomic" action required to deal with global warming will NEVER be worth whatever benefit it will bring because electing a government that performs any sort of "red Marxist socioeconomic" action is the beginning of the end and carries the risk that we will succumb to "red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine". To them, that is worse than any climate catastrophe.

      So denialists like Nicol don't care that their arguments are dishonest and wrong. It's just a smokescreen for what they really think. That's why they will never change their minds regardless of the facts.

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  28. Michael. Clayton

    logged in via Facebook

    Did you know there is another option? Instead of wasting billion of dollars on unproven climate change, we can go back to our real Australian Constitution and de-register Australia of a company of the USA and look after our selves. We can run 12 Volt systems in our homes, convert natural gas to electricity at or homes at third the cost. Place devices under the roads to create street lighting as they are doing in Isreal. No need for coal powered stations. Elect some decent politicians and get out of the United Nations who have done nothing useful for well over 50 years. We could print money like the USA and buy our country back. Regulate the banks and make them accountable. The Aussie dollar would crash and help exporters. Lots more we can do ...

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael. Clayton

      Hey, but if you do that, you have to give back the nuclear sub we lent you, Michael.
      ;]

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  29. Leo Kerr

    Consultant

    Same old faces when this debate happens. Have to laugh. I like this article and do feel that optimism is the best way to be - climate change no matter what the cause is an opportunity for us all to change our thinking about our relationship with the only home we have. I personally have fire insurance on the home I own even though I know that statistically there is only a 1-2% chance of it ever catching fire. Seems like a good idea for I know a house fire would be financially crippling if I didn't…

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    1. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Leo Kerr

      There is a world of difference between voluntarily taking out your own fire insurance and carrying out experimental compulsory acquisition of earned wealth especially when the rest of the World is moving or has moved on.

      According to my understanding of the Conservation of Energy laws, Entropy will trump Sensible Energy in the long run. Neither politicians, economists or the IPCC can change that. Our solar system will run out of heat but over a few more billion years. I don't think we could…

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  30. Garry Baker

    researcher

    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” But what is much more widespread than the actual stupidity is the playing stupid, turning off your ear, not listening, not seeing. "''

    The psychology of climate science rejection is one and the same conversation with regard to most things when self interest kicks in. In itself climate rejection is no different than the path one might take to reach poor investment decisions, yet time after time people(and governments alike) defend their…

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  31. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Just an addition to MarkH responding to Diana -- there's one reactor at Fukushima remaining fine -- the only one with emergency generation above the tsunami level.

    As we know, even from the financial realm, there's no substitute for proper regulation of any human activity.

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  32. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Gotta love JohnM -- say something, anything, and it must be true! Like this gem...

    "There's been no statistically significant warming for 16 years"

    Really on another planet, eh John? Why even Momckton & Nicol wouldn't take the bets offered them a couple of years ago on world temps -- they were indeed wise.

    Now, when you go to the hospital for serious illness, John, be sure to say things like "I don't believe in MRIs", or "I don't think scientists understand how antibiotics work?"

    A few choice decisions of yours like those could put your anti-science actions where your words seem to be.
    ;]
    But, don't worry, we don't care what you think and aren't trying to convince you of anything. It's just your misinformation that's not going unchallenged, for others' benefit.

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  33. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Along with MWH, it's long been known who some of the folks playing 'denier' here are. Some have slipped away after repeated refusals to say for whom they worked.

    Perhaps we have some new ones. The Heartland & American Tradition lobbyists indeed funnel $ down under -- as a Yank, I apologize we're so lax with these grubs. Glieck did a nice expose when they flubbed info release...

    www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdotearth.blogs.nytimes.com%2F2012%2F02%2F22%2Fmore-on-peter-gleick-and-the-heartland-files%2F&ei=WP6rULWbIKTg2AX7q4GgCA&usg=AFQjCNG7xzqdNCtFBST1HEWACSED8C7SCQ

    www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CEwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fpeter-h-gleick%2Fheartland-institute-documents_b_1289669.html&ei=WP6rULWbIKTg2AX7q4GgCA&usg=AFQjCNG0bhqCC03-DZeCveM3adXfW5LyMA&cad=rja

    It's worth continually pressing apparent deniers for their sources of employment & $.

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  34. Ken Swanson

    Geologist

    David Arthur
    Thanks for helping Jason out he was struggling to get beyond the alarmist talking points.
    To your links. Thanks I found the reviews in wiki very compelling. Hard to decide for myself without reading the book and the other conspiracy books mentioned in the article.
    The rant here reminded me of so many books deriding the IPCC and climate scientists which of course have as many effusive reviews. One has to be skeptical of these also.
    My question to Jason really centred on how the funding…

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      Thanks Ken.

      "The media and the government have so much more fire power in getting exposure through direct advertising ..."

      With respect, I think you are wrong to include the government as having "fire power", certainly not when compared to the media; the prevalence of Climate science Denialism is better correlated with the presence of News Corporation than any other factor.

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    2. Ken Swanson

      Geologist

      In reply to Ken Swanson

      David Arthur
      I agree that News has taken a progressively anti AGW position over the past 2-3 years (it used to be just Bolt but now McCrann and others). Fairfax has done the opposite. The electronic media I think have been on balance either neutral or slightly pro AGW (SKY is pro; Seven, Nine and Ten have been neutral or ambivalent; ABC is pro)
      Maybe the problem is the demographic readership of News. Whilst in theory there are 2 newspapers in most capital cities (News and Fairfax) it is News which…

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  35. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    David Arthur -- good try at dealing facts to fact avoiders! \\I like the offer Monckton refused a few years back -- some of us offered to set up a trust that would buy him an island in the Maldives and build a luxury villa for his retirement. He'd receive everything he could desire for the rest of his luve -- copter food & wine drops, home theatre, satellite TV & Internet...

    But, no rescue. He was not getting out no matter how high seas rose into his 2-story villa. The trust would even make up for the lost $ he got from Fox, etc., to support his inherited lands in the UK.

    But, just as he reneged on a $5k bet on global temp rise, he wouldn't take this generous offer wither.

    See, deniers are not fact avoiders when it's their own skin or $.
    ;]

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  36. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Actually, Whyn, our sun is getting gradually hotter, as it proceeds through it fusible elements. So rather than fading, it will cook us all in under a billion years. We could increase Earth's orbit a bit every few thousand years, which could help with warming, but our CO2 emissions will still get us in the food chains much before that.
    ;]

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    1. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Ah, a Solar warmist in our midst. I did not mean to imply anything about the temperature of the Sun, I was talking about its total sensible energy content.
      Homo erectus does not hold any guarantee that it is to be here forever anyway. More likely that we will go the way of 99% of the other Earthly species and move to extinction from one of many possibilities open to us, even before the billion years is up and we boil our overtaxed brains.

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    2. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I'll leave this learned discussion but before I do I refer to this jumbled bit that came in by email:
      Alex Cannara commented:
      "I'll just add to Doug's comment... Scientists enjoy ignorance. Without ignorance, there's nothing for us to try to figure out. ;] Religion, and denial, etc., are opposites of that noble use of our brains. "
      A little confused who did what, with which, and to whom, here. Would it be fair to think that the commentators do not mean ALL 'Scientists enjoy ignorance.' Would be clearer to say, 'Consensual scientists enjoy ignorance while sceptical scientists abhor ignorance and try to get it to go away.'?
      What is "that noble use of our brains" that opposes religion and denial?
      From the use of the pronoun 'us' I am guessing that at least Alex claims to be a scientist. Please don't confuse me any more by bringing the 'Denier' prefix into this as that word applies equally well to each group of scientists. Both deny the validity of the other's claims

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Well, Whyn, whatever you say! I'm ignorant of your motives, but at least learned that you didn't understand some basics of our own solar system.

      On that theme, Whyn claims scientists "deny the validity of the other's claims", which would make sense if "scientists" were replaced by "theologians" (or deniers), but scientists, you see, are interested in data, math and analyses, not
      "claims".

      Your claim of what a scientist is, Whyn, is easily denied. The psychology behind your claims would likely interest another kind of scientist than me.
      ;]

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Whyn Carnie: "More likely that we will go the way of 99% of the other Earthly species and move to extinction from one of many possibilities open to us"

      The implication being that it doesn't really matter if this happens through our own actions, so we may as well be the cause of our own demise. There's not much point to Whyn's statement otherwise.

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "There's not much point to Whyn's statement" -- it's definitely a Whyning statement (pronounce it either way).
      ;]

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    6. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chris O'Neill, thanks for the link to the Naomi Klein article at <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate"></a>;. Quite a long read, but makes a lot of sense. I have yet to dive into the muddy waters of the comments on that article, but expect the same type of division as we see here. AGW is a problem without any easy solutions, short of a Great Plague decimating our overpopulated presence on the planet.

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  37. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    DougH mentions Naomi Klein, of 350.org and "Do the Math" groups.

    She was interviewed on Bill Moyers & Company a few days ago and speaks well.

    However, she, as even Bill McKibben, fails to see the intimate dance, decades old, among combustion folks and the enviro folks. That dance has misled the general population in false ways that are now being realized as real and serious environmental effects.

    For example, my own Sierra Club originally supported nuclear power for all the right reasons…

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, I gather you think an environmentalist, or anyone who accepts the evidence of AGW, is a fraud if they do not also accept that nuclear energy has to be part of the mix in a low-carbon future.

      The problem I have with nuclear is that perfect safety requires perfect design, engineering, construction, maintenance, operation and end-of-life decommissioning, as well as perfect avoidance of natural disasters like tsunamis.

      Proponents of nuclear tend to dismiss Chernobyl and Fukashima as unfortunate…

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, I wrote a long response to your "perfect safety" problem for nuclear power, but it somehow got lost in Cyber-Monday limbo!

      To summarize, you seem happy to allow many more people to died from wind, coal... despite none dying from nuclear power in western countries. Find that odd?

      The safety of nuclear power is unmatched...
      http://tinyurl.com/42wvr9l (PSI ENSAD)
      http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html
      www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, my point is that there are so many links in the chain of getting anything built, from a garden shed to a nuclear reactor, that the opportunity for human error and graft to allow flaws to be built into the structure is ever present. as you said, "Fukushima, managed by TEPCO, has long been warned to be in the wrong location and built the wrong way" and "the Japanese govt. allowed many thousands to be killed because they allowed buiding in known tsunami zones": nothing to do with the inherent…

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, to your 2nd comment: "faulty implementation of a nuclear plant has more severe potential outcomes than faulty implementation of a coal plant" -- really?

      Do you not understand that a coal plant is allowed to emit ~100x the radiation any nuke could ever be allowed to? Do you not realize that each coal plant kills & sickens thousands of people who breathe its emissions of Arsenic, Lead, Radium, Polonium, Uranium, Mercury, particulates, etc. every year? Want to study the NORM Exemptions…

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "That may be true on the face of it, but a catastrophic accident at a coal-fired power station is unlikely to render large swaths of territory uninhabitable for the foreseeable future."

      One of the (many) physical advantages in Australia is that we have very large swaths of low value territory that could be justifiably put at risk for a valuable purpose. Not every nuclear power station is going to render large swaths of territory uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. Only a very tiny fraction…

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Adding to ChrisO, attitudes are changing even here,as people learn the realities of power choices...

      http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Confidence-in-Nuclear-Power-is-on-the-Rise-Again.html

      "This latest survey found that Americans strongly favoring nuclear energy outnumber those strongly opposed by a two-to-one ratio, 29% versus 14%. The new numbers improve on a poll conducted in September 2011, six months after the Fukushima accident, when 62% of American favored nuclear energy, with 35% opposed."

      When one can run an entire city for an hour on a chunk of metal held in one human hand, it's worth thinking about the meaning of "power density".

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    7. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, you said "What reality bubble limits your understanding of all this?". May I respectfully point out that I have already stated that I accept your points about the dangers of coal pollution? I get it. I do understand it. I agree that existing coal plants are dangerous on many levels and should be much more strictly regulated, but their operators have considerable influence, due to the fact that they provide a much-needed service: the supply of electricity.

      You asked "Do you not understand…

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    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chris said "No one in the West ever has or ever will propose a power station design as high risk as Chernobyl. So bringing up Chernobyl is not a genuine argument."

      The problem is that we are not talking about the West, we are talking about the whole planet. Are you so confident that North Korea will build responsibly? What about China? What about Angola, Rwanda, Bangladesh? All these and plenty of others need electricity to develop. Are you saying they will be as picky as Australia, or the USA?

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug Hutcheson: "Are you so confident that North Korea will build responsibly? What about China? What about Angola, Rwanda, Bangladesh?"

      Just tell me somewhere, anywhere, that now builds nuclear power reactors without containment vessels. By the way, if some country benefits the whole world by reducing CO2 emissions by building nuclear power stations, why should I complain about that?

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    10. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Actually, I find it bizarre that someone could suggest that any country might consider building a nuclear power station without a containment vessel ever again.

      But these are the sort of things that come out of ivory towers like we have in Australia.

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, you trapped youself with: "I understand Fukashima reactors had containment " -- they did not have containment buildings, as the IAEA, WANO and the west require. They had reactor structures that could indeed perform some containment, but not the full 1000:1 containment we demand for water-cooled reactors (LWRs).

      Then you go on with: "Fukashima is a disaster" -- yes. What has it to do with our regulation of any reactors , even the 20+ we operate in the US today of the same basic design…

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chris and Alex, it looks like we must agree to disagree. I am still unconvinced that we can populate the world with enough reactors, safely built, to replace coal burners. Of course, the question is moot, because the insanity of burning fossil fuels is going to be with us for the medium term and I don't see plans for our hypothetical nuclear grid getting early approval.

      What I will agree with is that we would probably have fewer power-greneration-related deaths if we did switch to a totally nuclear solution, as long as the full design/build/run/decommission cycle could be implemented as safely as you predict. I just look at the unmitigated stuff-ups we humans create when we build anything more complex than a matchstick and say to myself "something is going to go wrong ..." Does that make me a Jonah, or a Cassandra?

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "I don't see plans for our hypothetical nuclear grid getting early approval"

      China's nuclear grid is not hypothetical. That's where the biggest game is.

      "I just look at the unmitigated stuff-ups we humans create when we build anything more complex than a matchstick and say to myself "something is going to go wrong ..." Does that make me a Jonah, or a Cassandra?"

      Just means you don't realise that humans learn from experience.

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    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Doug - no, not a cassandra :) But perhaps you ARE missing something? A further question that needs to be considered, that I suggest you have overlooked, in weighing the pros and cons of nuclear as part of the (global) toolkit to combat climate change is what warming would increasing the amount of power generated by nuclear provide? And, what is the damage avoided by that and how does that stack up against the risk/damage of accidents.

      As the IEA has said http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/nuclear-champions-japan-and-france-drop-their-support-20120915-25z1q.html

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH says:he doesn't think "we can populate the world with enough reactors, safely built" -- you mean by "safely", not killing as many people as do gas, coal, oil, hydro (yes), wind (yes)...?

      We've over 500 nukes around the world, even the RBMKs left in the old USSR are running 'safely', as they have for years.

      So, if >500 reactors have been running for decades, with no deaths, except Chernobyl, why would twice that number, even if just the same type used by the West, not be as safe…

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    16. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chris said "China's ... where the biggest game is". China is critical, but I believe the USA is where the true litmus test will be, because it has a powerful, vocal middle class, members of which will fight tooth and nail to prevent a nuclear plant being built anywhere near their backyards. A Fukashima-sized problem, in a plant located anywhere near the bulk of its consumers, would affect a large population. Imagine if Three Mile Island had been a Fukashima.

      Chris finished by saying "you don't…

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    17. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

      Nice point on the Gabon reactors, learning something new everyday is awesome. Just a quick observation though, if it was possible that abiogenesis occurred c4.4Ga but the Gabon reactors were 1.7Ga then the role of the Gabon reactors may have been post-abiogenesis. That is, a mutation of an existing mutation, not the origin of organic compounds into cells.

      As a potentially mutagenic process, it would have been more likely to have spurred a…

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    18. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I should also clarify that contrary to popular opinion, profit was a prime mover in the USSR. It just wasn't the usual capitalist type profit, think of it is an ideological gain.

      Cold War Scenario: You build more reactors faster than the capitalists (the US) but you don't have a lot of resources to do it. To do so means increased productivity in the state, and shows an advantage of one ideology over another. However, speed often trumps quality, and occurs in the form of regulatory oversight and/or cost cutting. Queue entrance of Chernobyl incident (and probably Three Mile Island as well).

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    19. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma, you make interesting points.

      My suggestion that the Gabon reactors might have triggered human evolution was tongue-in-cheek, but SOMETHING caused the human gene to occur in the genes of a then-existing organism and stray radiation is as good a trigger theory as any I have thought of (not that I have thought of many - it is not my field!). The Gabon reactors could not have been involved in abiogenesis, though, as they were caused by pre-existing biological processes.

      Your point about the…

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    20. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma is quite right that the USSR was not a Communist nation of whole cloth and personal profit was, and remains, a key part of the ruling order, regardless of what they call themselves. China is also not communist, but more capitalist in the way the ruling order is defined,.

      Chernobyl is indeed an object lesson in how regulation of any serious technology (like coal, gas, air...) should be done and that one key aspect of regulation is staff training. The event occurred because of improper management…

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma & Doug, the G]Oklo Gbon reactors ran because of the existence of two life forms -- ocean photosynthsizers >2B years ago and land bacteria a bit later.

      The actual sequence was: earth's metals were largely free (unoxidized) prior to photosynthetic organisms arose. As Oxygen accumulated in the air, rocks (mineral, metals...) corroded and oxides were formed.

      Uranium is insoluble in water, but Uranium oxide is soluble, so rains could dissolve it from rocks and deposit it in puddles. Bacteria…

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    22. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug Hutcheson:

      "I believe the USA is where the true litmus test will be"

      You're missing the point. China is where the largest growth in power generation will be. The single most critical issue is how China generates that power.

      "Imagine if Three Mile Island had been a Fukashima."

      Imagine if every reactor in the world had been Chernobyl. Hypotheticals are pointless because they're silly.

      "Chris, that's exactly my point! It only takes one bad decision, one missed weld x-ray, one sticky…

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    23. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug: " It only takes one bad decision, one missed weld x-ray, one sticky valve, one lazy contractor, one case of bureaucratic graft,"

      Have you ever driven over a bridge that fell fown? Remeber the one between Minneapolis & St. Paul? Remeber the cause?

      Have you ever flown in a plane whose skin opened up? Remember how the 737 killed an attendant in Hawaii and scared the pants off passengers a few years back with another skin separation?

      Remember how the govt. allowed that coal plant to…

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    24. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug

      I'm glad that was tongue in cheek given just how far before primates evolved the gabon reactors were.

      As for human nature and greed. Well a cursory glance at evolutionary theory and economics suggests that's not human nature, it's just one aspect of nature. Whether we use cooperation or competition, via sexual reproduction, art or ranting on websites, in the end, the more of us there is in the world, the more we cheat death and effectively "profit".

      Greed is anxiety about the survival…

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    25. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Chris and Alex, I do understand about single point of failure. I understand about engineering for safety. I understand that nukes in Western countries are as safe as Fort Knox.

      Do you understand that the West is not the world? How would you feel about Russia pushing through a crash program of building nuclear power plants, to wean itself off coal and gas, with delivery of all its plants in the next five years? How would you feel about the same happening in Pakistan, China, North Korea, Iran…

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    26. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Hi Doug

      People do that because we can, and because we are social, meaning the more we accumulate, the more we're showing other members of our species that we're a source of anxiety reduction (people can cheat death through social contracts).

      Were a squirrel to have cooking equipment, an opposible thumb and refrigeration, those nuts would become all sorts of elaborate dishes consumed primarily for enjoyment rather than physical need.

      There would be festivals of nuts as the squirrels celebrate the harvest, the accumulation. There would be gods that look like squirrels that live in the great tree in the sky, and dictate morals to squirrels about what is a good tree to live in, how the nuts should be arranged, and so on.

      We're the same process, Mach 10.

      Thanks for asking about my art. Funnily enough I am currently working on finally putting my portfolio online, took me long enough. If you'd like updates @LilyLovesPaint is where I'm currently at.

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    27. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      This is getting long, with Doug seeming to think he's the center of the universe for nuclear power approval rights!

      "How would you feel about Russia pushing through a crash program of building nuclear power plants, to wean itself off coal and gas, with delivery of all its plants in the next five years?"

      In a word -- fine. They're signators to relevant treaties. Their scientists & engineers are tops. They, like the Saudis, want to sell fools like us their oil, while they eliminate combustion…

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    28. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma, thanks for the link. I'll look you up when I have time. I love the idea of nut festivals and squirrel gods, but don't we already have squirrely nuts holding religious festivals? <grin>

      Alex, I can see where this is going: I raise commonly-held concerns and you shout them down with the mantra "We know what we are doing these days, so what could possibly go wrong?" I am pleased for you that you have an abiding faith in the perfection of all those who would be involved in a global program to…

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    29. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug, you continue to miss your growing responsibility to those dying every day from the forms of power your naive but smug anti--nuke stance creates.

      This ongoing death & disease toll seems to be your proof of your contribution to "the fallibility of man", eh?

      Remember, none of this is to convince you of anything. It's just to prevent your misguided info from misleading others.

      PS, we can't build enough emissions-free plants of any sort to catch up with the 1960's emissions goal for 2000, partly thanks to your kind of thinking.

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    30. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, you said, in part "... we can't build enough emissions-free plants of any sort to catch up ...". Then what is your point?

      If you agree that we cannot build enough nukes quickly enough to make a measurable difference, what are we discussing? I thought your stance was that we should start a program furious building of nuclear generating plants around the world, to replace our appetite for fossil carbon. As nuclear plants cannot replace liquid fossil carbon as a transport fuel, no amount of nukes is going to solve the problem anyway, but, if you are not arguing for a massive and urgent global building program, what are you arguing for?

      Colour me confused. "8-)

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    31. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      So, Alex, forget the personal sniping and just get down to tin tacks: how many fast-breeder reactor generating plants can humanity build concurrently in safety right now, how long will it take from inception, through approval and building, to production and how much difference will these make to the carbon problem? (I stipulate fast breeders, as the world does not contain enough uranium deposits to power a huge new fleet of plants for any useful length of time, unless someone comes up with an economical…

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    32. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, thanks for the numbers. I am interested to see you don't think we are likely to run out of U any time soon: I understood we had only about 80 year's worth left in accessible deposits. Is it going to be a problem for our grandchildren?

      So, 4000 plants as a minimum; more if renewables can't take up enough slack. If we started now, how many could we build safely concurrently and how long would they take to get on line? That's the acid test as to whether nuclear is able to solve the carbon conundrum…

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    33. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, it seems you expect others here to be here to serve your lack of desire to study for yourself, before making incorrect statements, like:

      " I understood we had only about 80 year's worth left in accessible deposits. Is it going to be a problem for our grandchildren?"

      Look up Uranium content of Earth yourself.

      You also seem to think you can reject something like nukes, then say we can't make them fast enough, especially because we don't know renewables can "take up the slack"

      Do…

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    34. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, for got this question in my rush not to miss Saturday Night Live...

      "any way for these plants to be used to replace liquid fossil fuels for transport"

      I've explained many times here that any power source able to operate above 700C can break CO2 & H2O down and allow synthesis of any carbon-neutral fuel one wants.

      Advanced reactors do that. The MSR (molten-salt reactor) easily does that, as well as generating power as efficiently as the best combustion plant. The process heat available after generation and/or fuel production is also usable for desalination. This means only nuclear need be our main 24/7 source, even using existing stocks of 'spent fuel' which is not really "spent"..

      Some refs...
      www.thoriumremix.com/2011
      http://tinyurl.com/cxplxx3
      http://tinyurl.com/8xmso5v

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    35. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, the total U content of the planet is not the same as the (economically) accessible deposits. I repeat my question: how long will accessible reserves last in your scenario of needing 4000 extra nuclear plants?

      You said "any power source able to operate above 700C can break CO2 & H2O down and allow synthesis of any carbon-neutral fuel", so I am assuming you mean hydrogen? That most difficult of gasses to contain may have a future, but it is pipe-dream territory at present. In addition, do…

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    36. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug, does this disingenuous way of arguing ever work for you?

      "Alex, the total U content of the planet is not the same as the (economically) accessible deposits"

      I already explained that you can easily look up sources and economics for U235. But, I also said, which you ignore,. perhaps because it ruins your desperate arguing, that U238 is >100 times as abundant as U235, and Thorium is another factor of 4 more abundant everywhere in the solar system.

      There's no need to look for U235 when…

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    37. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Diana, thank you for the kind words. Alex amuses me, as his tone reminds me of the 'best' of climate deniers, convinced they have the One True Answer and annoyed the world is too stupid to recognise their genius.

      I think the future will include nukes, even here in NIMBY-riddled Australia (BANANA riddled, actually: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), but to think that nukes will solve the global warming crisis, which was at least on topic for this article, is as fanciful as thinking…

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    38. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, now hiding in Dianna's skirts, talks about catching "more flies with honey" and avoiding "bombast". Who said we're looking to catch flies, Doug?

      Your grandma probably also knew the old saying: "There's no substitute for human stupidity".

      Doug, your really need to go back a see who started with the name calling, before you play "bombast" vistim.

      For example, you just wrote: "Alex amuses me, as his tone reminds me of the 'best' of climate deniers, convinced they have the One True…

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    39. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, Doug and whoever else keeps flooding our inboxes with pointless arguing

      Remember "our descendants are watching from the future"

      But in the meantime, those of us who aren't obsessed with how good or bad any given option is (be it nuclear, wind, solar or otherwise) are actually trying to think of ways to change our own behavior in lieu of macro ideas, and it gets a little bit tiring, when grown adults such as us, prattle on about whose side anyone is on.

      Doug - yes we need to change…

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    40. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma said "we need to change our own behavior, but whether we'll need to go as far as you claim depends on the macro stuff". Quite right. I am basing my pessimistic outlook on the available evidence and my reading of human nature, but nothing would please me more than to be proved wrong.

      Emma also said "The hardest thing we're facing right now is polarised arguments over damn well nothing. Get a frigging move on". I couldn't agree more! If only the people who don't see that we have a problem could…

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    41. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark said "global reduction in energy consumption is fanciful". I fear you are right: in the short term, people in wealthy countries will fight tooth and nail to keep their existing standards of living and energy reduction means lowering those standards.

      In the long term, if we continue to act at the current glacial rate (and I see no evidence that we will act otherwise), global reduction in energy consumption is as inevitable as night follows day, but we will not like the circumstances under…

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    42. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Doug

      You asked "I sympathise with Alex's viewpoint on this, but I still maintain that starting the massive building program today would not avert the catastrophic 4 - 6 degrees rise. Please give me some encouraging news on this, so I can stop worrying! "

      Google " history of nuclear energy in france" and look at the power point from Christian NADAL It shoul;d be about the 4th reference (as of now). Have a look at slide 29

      In just 10 years France converted more than half their country…

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    43. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark, you say "Imagine if we reduce global emissions by 50% by, say, 2025 or 2030". I don't need to imagine it: look at the video I linked to a couple of posts ago. The central theme is that the 'West' needs to stop emissions immediately, if we are to avoid 4 - 6 degrees C of warming. Halving emissions by 2025 does no do that.

      You go on to say (edited to save space, but meaning unaltered) "it is ONLY by urgently buidling nuclear simultaneously with the fastest possible roll out of Solar PV in…

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    44. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Doug - I'm sorry but your reply seems totally non-sensical to me - even ridiculously so.

      I provided the link http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/pics/lewandowsky/fordynamicsys.jpg
      that shows that a reduction, globally, to 50% of emssions by around 2030 is what is needed.

      You then argue that because your link is more pessimistic - and the building nuclear to achieve that the level of reduction I propose is not enough we should do nothing?? I'm sorry but isn;t that just stupid??

      Let's…

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    45. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "So why limit ourselves to just nuclear?"

      This is a strawman. No-one is proposing just nuclear. Strawman statements do not progress anything.

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    46. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark, where did I say we should do nothing? What I am actually saying is that we need to cut our emissions more drastically than most people are willing to contemplate and certainly more drastically that is imagined in our current laughable attempts to limit warming to 2 degrees C. We can reduce drastically and it will hurt badly, but the alternative is even more drastic: 4 - 6 degrees C warming.

      You went on to say "a reduction, globally, to 50% of emssions by around 2030 is what is needed". I…

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    47. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Doug - to be frank you seem disingenous. You seem to be urgently concerned about high degrees of warming (indeed what reasonable person would not?) yet you have consistently written posts opposing one option (nuclear) that could clearly reduce that risk.

      My position (and if I may speak for Alex to some degree his as well) is clear. The risk of significant warming and the associated risk of a high damage function is real - and while no one can say exactly what it is, the available evidence…

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    48. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "It's only if we are willing to take these radical steps that we will avoid the 4 degree plus scenario"

      "We", of course, includes China, which is currently responsible for 80% of the growth in world CO2 emissions. China won't care what anyone in Australia thinks about its own nuclear power development (thankfully) but we can only hope that China recognises that getting that 80% figure down is far more important than whether it uses nuclear or non-nuclear means to do it.

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    49. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Chris - spot on. China is critical (as is India). I suspect both will regard providing energy to their people as paramount, with environmental concerns and climate change secondary - especially while we in the west are running scared on nuclear.

      Those people who "think" they are green (meaning pro-environment) and whose minds turn to mush when the word nuclear is mentioned and seem only capacble of irrational fear and denial need to have a good look at what the options (apart from do nothing…

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    50. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Emma, please read what Mark said to Dianna, when she intentionally misquoted me.

      As for you saying: "Alex - nuclear requires mining and is not as sustainable as other options, like solar, "

      You indicate you don't understand what "nuclear power" means, and are stuck in 1946 technology.

      So will you study why we need no new U mining? Will you learn that the various materials we do mine for 'renewable' systems, like windmills, EVs, etc. result in waste products that themselves can be used for nuclear power?

      Will you also study why existing 'waste' nuclear fuel isn't "waste", but also usable for power, which at the same time eliminates it from storage worries?

      After you study those topics, then you might discuss "nuclear power" intelligently.

      Until then, yes, you're "prattling" and wasting time and real power that drives all the electronics that makes possible the prattling here.

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    51. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark, I am sorry you think I am being disingenous:
      "dis·in·gen·u·ous/ˌdisinˈjenyo͞oəs/
      Adjective:
      Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.
      Synonyms:
      insincere - false - devious - hollow-hearted."

      I assure you, I am being very sincere in expressing my views. I am trying very hard to be pragmatic and candid, not devious. As you can tell from my posts, I am not 'pretending to know less' than I really do. On the contrary, I actually…

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    52. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH protests against being "disingenuous" with: "I am trying very hard to be pragmatic and candid, not devious", when Doug clearly had the opportunity to observe Dianna's fib about my belief, yet even adopted it, rather than call it out as Mark did.

      So Doug, Mark's term for your writing here is apt. You've wasted lots of time & real energy here, flopping around and unhappily demonstrating that our serious problems needn't fear you for effective leadership.

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    53. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, if you re-read my posts, you will see I wrote "That is not what Alex has been saying: he sees nuclear plus renewables as the answer". What part of that is failing to point out Dianna's error? You are not making sense now. The rest of your post does not need a reply from me: I will leave that up to others.

      Dianna, Alex has a strong focus on nuclear coupled with renewables. He has written that urgently starting to build on both these fronts will enable us to maintain our current lifestyles…

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    54. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Dianna said "Well I've had enough of being bullied - had this been a social event where we met face to face, would've walked away long ago. I will now do so". I will miss your calm voice on this thread, but I understand why you are going. The problem with leaving is the bullies are encouraged; the problem with staying is one has to put up with the bullying. The loudest voice ends up undisputed. It's a no-win situation for non-fanatics.

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    55. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH indeed you corrected one of Dianna's misstatements about my range of energy choices to fight emissions problems. You did it once, thanks.

      However, when she persisted in ignoring that and lying about it again, you remained silent on it, though you had plenty else to say here.
      .
      Now Diana has played the departing-victim card: "Well I've had enough of being bullied", and you go along with her, having yourself volunteered verbiage like this...

      "Alex amuses me, as his tone reminds me…

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    56. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, thanks for acknowledging that I pulled Dianna up on her implication that you did not include renewables in your mix. I usually consider if a person has been told something once, they stay told, so repeating myself is a waste of energy. I cannot help it if you regard this as some kind of backdown, or tacit agreement. I did not agree. I corrected the error. Period.

      Your tone does amuse me. You do remind me of rabid climate change deniers fighting their battles on a warmist comment thread…

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    57. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Doug, you say all that's needed to illustrate your disingenuousness...

      " I am surprised you are so engaged in attacking a position so close to yours."

      When what you & I said was exactly: "we need to get on with building whatever we can" to which I only ever add: "that makes environmental sense." -- "attacking", Doug?

      Then there's a bit of your pomposity...

      "Your tone does amuse me. You do remind me of rabid climate change deniers fighting their battles on a warmist comment thread. If you are offended by that, change your tone"

      Let's see if you really: " usually don't worry about who has the last word,". Or will the "usually" be your wriggle, as you "usually" wriggle?
      ;]

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    58. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      @ Dianna

      The definition of bullying is "repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons."

      You have no more, and no less, power on these threads than anyone else.

      Nor has there been any abuse directed toward you.

      To play the victim card in this instance is passive agressive behaviour and also an insult to those who truly DO suffer from bullying.

      If you are unable to muster…

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    59. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark Harrigan suggested I Google for "history of nuclear energy in france", click on the link to Christian Nadal's Powerpoint presentation and look at slide 29, to see how France built a huge amount of nuclear power generation in ten years.

      I have now done so and the graph looks impressive, however, I note that the preceding slide 28 suggests that approvals had been granted prior to 1981 and then the scheme was reviewed. To be a fair comparison with the situation we are in now, we should really…

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    60. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Mark also suggested I look at the graph at http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/pics/lewandowsky/fordynamicsys.jpg This shows nice comfortable curves for global emissions reductions, but I note we have already missed the 2011 target. We have actually been injecting carbon at an increasing rate.

      The much-vaunted Kyoto Protocol included two lists of countries. Annex 1 is the developed countries of the 'Western' world and Annex 2 is all the rest, including China, India and Brazil. Annex 2 countries…

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    61. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, I had a look at some of the links to Thorium-related sites you posted a few days ago. (I didn't watch the video at http://thoriumremix.com/2011 - it appears from the info bar of the player to last 1:59:59 and I don't have that much time to spare).

      Thorium certainly seems to have interesting potential as a nuclear fuel, although there are some drawbacks. The biggest problem for early deployment of Thorium reactors seems to be the experimental nature of many of the processes. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle , "only one liquid core fluoride salt reactor has been built (the ORNL MSRE) and it was not using thorium". Do you have more up-to-date information that would indicate it is, or will soon be, ready for deployment in the real world?

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    62. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, re Thorium and MSRs, indeed there was no liquid salt reactor at ORNL using Thorium, because the Nixon admin. pulled the funding after the 5-year success of the MSRE, which used U233 & U235.

      The 2-hour video covers some of it and toward its end even shows the "Heating Oil Institute" name on newspaper ads from the Shoreham time.

      Here are some briefer discussions of history. The Martin book "Superfuel" goes into the sorry politics, etc, in the '70s. The MSR, however, is indeed one of…

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    63. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, thanks for all the links. I can see I have some reading to do! Are there technological reasons why Thorium reactors have not gone into production yet, or is it just public resistance to anything that sounds like a nuke (anything with 'reactor' in its name)?

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    64. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, the reason no Th is twofold:

      1) on the Cold War, we wanted Pu for bombs -- Th is 9 neutrons away from Pu; U238 is only 1 capture away.

      2) Fuel breeding (from Th to U233) is best done in liquid-salt reactors, which is a naturally safe system, but solid-fuel, water-cooled reactors (LWRs) were 1st -- Rickover built 10 nuke ships in under 10 years, so the source of expertise in utilities & AEC was naval, thus biased toward LWRs. Martin's book explains the history of how AEC Reactor Design…

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    65. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, so resistance to Thorium reactors has been from the military and from vested commercial interests? That's a powerful duopoly to combat in any attempt to get Th plants built. You can bet the likes of Heartland's spin machine would be active in opposing plans to deploy Th reactors.

      It would take overwhelming public pressure to get the military-industrial complex to allow Th reactors to gain any traction. That would require the public to firstly be correctly informed about the threat of global warming and secondly to be correctly informed about the advantages of Thorium, such as they are.

      Change will only happen when the public demands it. Given the difficulty faced by scientists in trying to inform the world about global warming, I doubt such a public epiphany is likely to occur soon enough to be of any use.

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    66. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      DougH, yes, just like HIV/AIDS, public education is always the issue. This is why education of the average person is key to MSR promotion.

      Note that the MSR can also solve the existing nuclear waste problem, so it has appeal to many folks who actually get good info & think.

      The rest of the world is indeed busy, while our govt. diddles.

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    67. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Perhaps China will build one or more MSR plants, to safely dispose of their nuclear waste (or as much as cannot be used to breed weapons-grade Pu). Having one or more plants up and running safely somewhere in the world would help public perceptions. I cannot see any of the Western democracies imposing a commercially viable Th plant on their populace, against their will, no matter how attractive it appears in theory.

      Is there anywhere other than China where an MSR might get up and running in the near future, do you think?

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  38. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    DougH is "Colour me confused". by the real fact that our delays of decades in building emissions-free power plants cannot now be suddenly instituted to remove the ~teratons of anthropogenic CO2 from air & seas.

    Since your blind anti-nuke attitude was mimicked by others over decades, even in orgs I've supported and been a member of, it's indeed a problem -- especially an ethical problem for folks & orgs with your mindset, Doug.

    However, if you remember how people address problems as effectively…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Y'know Doug, it's always good to study before making statements like: "...world does not contain enough uranium...".

      But, I'm glad you're now down to brass tacks rather than just brass bias.
      ;]
      The world has considerable U235 still, and yes, seawater is a source (since photosynthesis made Uranium into soluble oxide a billion+ years ago), if needed, especially because the rise of desalination is making U from seawater even more economical.

      However, your jump to "fast breeder" is unnecessary…

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  39. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    Back in the early 1960s my Science Department lecturers were warning that we only had known oil reserves for 30 years at present consumption/discovery rates, coal for 200 years and nuclear for 1000s. And the biggest possible output from a blast furnace had been reached at 1,000,000 tonnes pa. Gas reserves were not even considered.
    By late 1960s same lecturers had only upgraded the blast furnace output to 4,000,000 tpa. Fuels (like the coal blast furnaces relied upon and were being used at higher…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Interesting you talk of "enlightenment", Whyn, when you equate non-equatable things, like oil/col/gas with nuclear, etc.

      The End of Oil (or Coal, or Gas) has nothing to do with today's issues.

      See of you can figure out why, from all the other discussions here, Whyn.

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    2. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Dr Cannara, sorry, even when using acute tunnel vision one's eyes must stay open.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      With all you write, Whyn, one might think you could answer the question below.
      ;]

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Whyn Carnie is not here to answer questions. He's here to troll.

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  40. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    @ Doug H

    I have followed the discussion on your part for a while and compliment you for your patience with responding to the resolutely unevolving opinion of the pro-nuke squad.

    If you have been listening to the news you will be aware that scientists are predicting a 4 to 6 degree increase in world temperature by the end of this century if we continue to prevaricate instead of act.

    You have pointed out succinctly the problems with installation of nuclear reactors around the globe. Apart…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Thank you Dianna!!

      Though perhaps not as you might expect, because what you write so artfully & polemically, like: "unevolving opinion of the pro-nuke squad", is mostly garbage...

      And, garbage indeed deserves cleanup for all to see...

      1) "One nuclear mistake is forever." -- really. Have a walk at Chernobyl, or the worst locale polluted by Fukushima
      http://imgs.xkcd.com/blag/radiation.png
      And then take a nice bike ride through Bhopal, maybe camping right by the old Union Carbide plant…

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      No, thank you Alex for replying to my post addressed to Doug.

      After having read your predictable response - I gather you follow the maxim of "if you're not with us you must be against us". Wrong, I am for clean sustainable power generation which does not include fossil or other nonrenewable resources.

      Still not coming to grips with the basic reality of mining, processing, using and storing uranium, are you?

      Still not considering the safer, long term aspects of sustainable technology?

      Still believe that nuclear will solve everything without any side effects at all? Have you not learned anything from dependency on coal/oil?

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, you confirm you don't bother reading what others write when it challenges your bias?

      "believe that nuclear will solve everything"

      Where did I say that, Dianna? C'mon, point it out. Remember, even Doug knows that's not true. So when you talk of others being "not with us you must be against us", look right in the mirror, eh Dianna?

      What you do display is breathtaking disregard for fact and what's 'renewable', 'green' or environmentally sustainable.

      Your slavish attachment to…

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  41. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    @ Alex Cannara

    >> DougH, now hiding in Dianna's skirts <<

    I guess if I was a man, you'd have Doug hiding in my trousers :D

    If you are incapable of even discussing the problems of relying solely on nuclear to tackle climate change and can only resort to personal attacks, you have lost the argument. You have nothing further to offer other than rhetoric. Therefore, I am unable to hold an intelligent discussion with you.

    @ Doug H

    I doubt we will resort to hand-washing, give up our mobiles…

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      @ Dianna,

      Alex has never said "retying solely on nuclear". If you are going to rebut anothers argument you might be best advised to do so on what they actually say. Alex is a strong advocate of Solar PV for virtually all domestic (and possibly more) applications. He isn;t a fan of wind (I don;t entirely agree there but he has valid points).

      What, Alex, and I and many others, are trying to get across to those, like you, who are concerned about AGW is that nuclear needs to be part of the mix…

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Thanks Mark, it's a wonder how people who can't argue honestly expect others to listen.

      These are some useful refs on the overall choices for future power, given how poorly we've managed combustion over the decades since we knew it was trouble...

      Ripu Malhotra "A Cubic Mile of Oil" -- we now burn ~3 of those equivalent/year, ~30GT of CO2/year.
      http://www.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195325546/doc/Q_A_Ripudaman_Malhotra.doc
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil
      http://cmo-ripu.blogspot.com/2011/11/here-are-few-links-to-downloadable.html

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  42. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    It is so easy to be misunderstood.

    For example, Alex Cannara will not hear a negative word against nuclear power - not one. If the obvious contras are pointed out, he immediately claims that the person merely presenting a few hard truths regarding the safety, security and sustainability of nuclear is in league with the coal/oil industry. Yes, he has claimed this.

    He also claims that he does not consider that nuclear is the sole answer to alternative energy - yet when alternatives are presented, again the hapless poster is subjected to a tirade of insults - Mr C has not presented anything positive about any energy resource apart from nuclear.

    However, when I present this fact - which can be determined by simply reading Mr C's copious posts, he calls me a "liar".

    If it looks like yellow cake.

    Burns like yellow cake.

    You've got radiation.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Sorry Dianna, but Mark saw your lie about my beliefs re alternative energy sources for what it was -- a desperate lie to avoid being wrong. But everyone here saw your lie.

      So now you continue to lie about what another says or believes, without shame.

      "Mr C has not presented anything positive about any energy resource apart from nuclear." -- can't read, eh Dianna? Did you not read what Mark said to you about just this kind of lie you think improves with repetition? Everyone else here has…

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  43. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    @ Doug Hutcheson

    First off - thanks for you civil and courteous comments.

    If A Cannara has written extensively on renewables - then I have missed it. He certainly has not responded to me when I have discussed alternative energy sources that he has considered any suggestions I have made.

    He has yet to address the many and varied problems with mass installation of nuclear processors. Instead has used personal invective in all responses to both yours and my posts. This is not the foundation…

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  44. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    @ Doug H

    You have inspired me to google "can enough nuclear reactors be built in time to effect climate change"

    This is what I found, which is pretty much a list of pros and cons of nuclear power, that you, I and others have dared to submit. Much has been said about the pros - as you know when someone has the temerity to publish the cons, one can expect to be abused.

    However, both sides of the argument for the potential of nuclear power to mitigate some of the effects of climate change must…

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, whilst we are in agreement on most points you raise, I must point out that Alex has stated that the existing waste products we worry about could be fuel for the next generation of nuclear generators, which would solve the waste problem and increase the lifetime of existing fuel reserves.

      The key problem, to my way of thinking, is the sheer time it will take to get a nuclear building program off the ground in Western democracies. Even if the process could be rushed whilst maintaining safety…

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Doug H

      My entire post led up to the problem of timelines:

      "For nuclear plants to be sufficiently installed (leaving aside all cons except for actual implementation and function), we need a time frame of under 10 years to be effective, if at all."

      We know that this (implementation of nuclear power world wide within ten years) is highly unlikely. We have a much better chance of successful implementation of less fraught alternative energy sources within the next ten years - starting NOW.

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, exactly! We need to start today with whatever tools we have in our toolbox right now, not in five or ten years' time. If nuclear proponents can get that technology accepted as part of the solution, good luck to them.

      I doubt Australia will accept nuclear as an early part of the mix, because there is considerable political inertia and public opinion to be overcome. Even getting approval for a wind farm or solar farm takes years here. That is the price we pay for living in a democracy. Perhaps a command-and-control style of government would have more luck making an early-enough start.

      Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking, as we hurry onward to our decidedly warmer future.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      DougH is quite right to look at French (and even German & S. Korean) nuclear-power history, as example of how an effective nuclear power deployment could have been done, and still can be..

      Since China, India, Middle Eastern oil states and others are indeed doing their best to move forward with many new nuclear plants, it's clear they understand the old general's order to his gardener, or the familiar rights demand: "If not now, when?"

      The word "fraught" applied to nuclear-power dangers remains…

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    5. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Unbelievable intellectual dishonesty. Object to Nuclear power because it will take too long and not seeing that it currenlty takes too long because ill informed opposition objects to nuclear power - thus delaying it.

      There is NO evidence that renewables alone are sufficient.

      The licensing process in the USA is a two step process. First the utility applies to build
      the plant; an action that can be, and frequently is; challenged in court. After a protracted
      period of lawsuits and public…

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Right Mark. The power of breathtaking disrespect for fact is unlimited.

      Some inconvenient facts that drive my anti-nuke Sierra Club friends crazy...

      http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html
      www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

      Another inconvenient fact for unthinking wind advocates is that a nuke has far lower CO2 emissions burden from construction than does a wind farm of equivalent average power. Siemens, etc. data sheets are revealing reads.

      Those pretty white towers of hundreds of tons of steel made in China/Korea don't stand without 1000 tons or so of concrete under that benign looking layer of grass at their bases. ~700 tons of fossil-fuel-processed raw materials is what each peak wind MW demands -- multiply tonnage by ~3 for avg. MW.

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    7. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Mark said "Unbelievable intellectual dishonesty. Object to Nuclear power because it will take too long ...". I think you are misunderstanding. I do not object to nuclear because it will take too long, however, I believe relying on nuclear to get us out of our current mess ignores the lead-time during which humanity will continue merrily injecting carbon into the atmosphere.

      I have no problem with industry, today, submitting nuclear generator plans for approval; I just think that the horse will…

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  45. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    Must be frustrating that among the legion of contras for nuclear power, that we simply do not have the time (although the money is there; I suspect the massive organisation required for nuclear processing, construction and running is a major reason why we continue to have such a fraught energy source still in play) to install around the globe reactors, that will be functional, safe and economically available to all.

    Arguing for nuclear as a primary power source for Australia, when we already have…

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna - doing all the above sounds great. Especially solar and limiting coal. But if it isn't enough?? What then? How will you explain when the lights go out? Or that we couldn;t displace the coal because we had insufficient sources to do so?

      I think you will find the opportunities for further development of hydro in this country are limited. Geo and tidal also have this constraint. And for wind you just can't escape the need for another power source when the wind doesnlt blow plus, as it becomes a larger and larger component, how it creates real grid management problems.

      Alas solar CST is orders of magnitude too expensive and, at scale, decades away.

      You see - as much as we might "wish" there to be alternatives - the facts get in the way.

      So, in reality, your vision is one of accepting the damage of climate change over the (small) rsisks of nuclear. It's just you won't be honest enough with yourself to see it.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      It's indeed interesting how you continually think your ignoring nuclear's unmatched safety record makes it "fraught", Dianna. You may not wish to study the facts, but others do, and see your selective avoidance of reality, much as the climate deniers do.

      Indeed, solar PV/hot-water is being deployed and should be deployed as fast as possible. Aussie structures are as good a place for it as acre Calif. structures.

      Indeed wind is far less efficient and more "fraught" with dangers from mining, combustion, construction, maintenance and the environment. You may try to ignore the huge resource & combustion burden each MW of windmills entail, but others don't, and that's one reason wind is having financial problems.

      If we want to do the right thing with eliminating carbon emissions, we owe it to our descendents to study alternatives carefully & honestly. Otherwise, we simply foolishly support the combustion industry, as they hope.

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  46. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    DougH, having lost track of where your last response went, I'll just say you can sit back and do nothing. Many in the world are actively addre4ssingn nuclear needs, delayed by others' foolishness though they may be.
    ;]

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