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« Is this a clue? | Main | BBC to review climate coverage - so what? »
Wednesday
Jan062010

No more democracy

Ecofascism is a word that is bandied about with gay abandon by many on the sceptic side, but it may well be a term that finds greater currency in the near future. Why do I say that? Read Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr on the impatience of climatologists with the democratic process and the admiration some of them express for authoritarian forms of government.

...the times are changing. Within the broad field of climatology and climate policy one is able to discern growing concerns about the virtues of democracy... it is an inconvenient democracy, which is identified as the culprit holding back action on climate change. As Mike Hulme has noted , it can be frustrating to learn that citizens have minds of their own.

Leading climate scientists insist that humanity is at a crossroads. A continuation of present economic and political trends leads to disaster if not collapse. To create a globally sustainable way of life, we immediately need in the words of German climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a "great transformation." What exactly is meant by the statement is vague. Part, if not the heart of this great transformation is in the eyes of some climate scientists as well as other scientists part of the great debate about climate change a new political regime and forms of governance: "We need an authoritarian form of government in order to implement the scientific consensus on greenhouse gas emissions" according to the Australian scholars David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith their book The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy. The well-known climate researcher James Hansen adds resignedly and frustrated as well as vaguely, "the democratic process does not work". In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, James Lovelock emphasizes that we need to abandon democracy in order to meet the challenges of climate change head on. We are in a state of war. In order to pull the world out of its state of lethargy, the equivalent of a global warming "nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech is urgently needed.

 

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Reader Comments (70)

'...a global warming "nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech is urgently needed.'

Intriguing thought indeed - what would Winston Churchill have to say on all this? Surely he would be most impressed by all the solid, settled, irrefutable science - btw didn't he object to the foundation of the U.N. in the first place? He knew.

Jan 6, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

One of the signs of really bad science, on the badness scale of eugenics, is when the promoters of the bad science demand that, based on their asserted importnace the whole world must be changed as they say it must.

Jan 6, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The fanbois are true believers, and knowing that they and only they are right, it is just a matter of time before they start blowing up things, and maybe themselves, to prove they are right.

God protect us from those who would protect us from ourselves.

And yes, Churchill knew.

Jan 6, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Yes, eco fascism, I've thought that for a while. Lots of people talk about water melons, I think it's more green on the outside, brown in the centre.

Interesting, a young neighbour just been indoctinatated into Brigitte Bardot's foundation. BB has been married to a leading French National Front person. That didn't seem to bother her at all when I mentioned it.

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterShona

So these wise men wish to IMPOSE blood, sweat and tears on mankind for their supposed greater good? How very considerate of them.

Churchill on the other hand said "I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat", in his first speech to the House of Commons after taking over as Prime Minister of the Britain at the start of World War II, having just replaced Neville Chamberlain.

This was when Britain was faced with invasion by the mighty German army and about to engage in a life and death struggle for her existence. The blood, toil, tears and sweat offered was to fight for freedom, for democracy, against others who wanted to impose their will by dictatorship.

Compare this with imposing dictactorship to fight an imaginary threat, disagreed by a considerable number of scientists and economists, that might take place a century hence. This is the equivalent of Hitler giving a blood, toil, tears and sweat speech.

There is a real and far more immediate and widespread threat the world faces, and that is from Islamofascism, which also wants to impose its will by bullying, violence and terror.

Instead these warmist clowns want to divert attention and resources away to fight an imaginary threat and impose dictatorship while doing so.

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

And let's not forget ClimateGate, The Movie

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDABbio

Good.. They're coming out into the open, and living in a bubble as they do they don't realise how little support they actually have.

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat

The last time a German fascist talked about a "great transformation" we ended up with WW2 and 100 million dead.


They do say history repeats itself. Especially if your cause is "right" or "just"

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

For movie titles, I'd prefer 'Wag the Thermometer'.

As for the rest, it's why benevolent dictatorships are the best form of government. No boring committee meetings, just get things done. Bigger the government, the harder it is to get decisions made. More politicised the government, worse still because people play for advantage. In the UK, we have the perfect storm with a bunch of clueless politicians that have never really managed anything other than their own careers in charge. Because they have no real experience, they're easy pickings for consultants and NGO's, who 'advise' them. Given those advisors (Gore et Al) are politically astute, their advice is neatly packaged so the politicians don't have to think, or question. If they do, there's an array of scientists to baffle them in exchange for bigger grants, fame, fortune and book deals.

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Shona : "Yes, eco fascism, I've thought that for a while. Lots of people talk about water melons, I think it's more green on the outside, brown in the centre."

Rotten watermelons.

Jan 6, 2010 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean Demesure

There are also some who argue that this "great transformation" to mobilise the world against climate change would also need to be a religious one. Here's Andrew Brown of the Guardian on this theme:

"Compulsion will be needed but compulsion alone won't do it. People aren't made like that. They need to believe in what they are forced to do. They need idealism, and that will also mean its dark side: the pressure of conformism, the force of self-righteousness, huge moral weight attached to practically useless gestures like unplugging phone chargers. They need, in fact, something that does look a lot like religion."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/nov/06/religion-atheism

"They need to believe in what they are forced to do." Deeply, darkly, almost ridiculously sinister.

Jan 6, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

I hear doubts are being cast on whether Tony Blair actually won the 2005 election, based on a lack of transparency over 3 million postal votes that were crammed into Labour marginal constituencies. It could be that No More Democracy is exactly what we have.

Jan 6, 2010 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrugal Dougal

I think Churchill's view is clear:

"democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time."

Jan 6, 2010 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Boycott

These people are a flirting with fascism. And, like all flirtations, the words have to keep getting more and more risqué in order for the excitement levels to be maintained. Of course, those involved are too carried away in their mutually-masturbatory fantasies to understand - or care - that fascism doesn't have to arrive in brown shirts, wearing swastikas... it looks increasing likely that the next genie emerging from its bottle will be dressed in green, with a windmill badge (and, no doubt, a mangy dog on a string).

Jan 7, 2010 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

I'm in a place with a national socialist lite - green coalition in power (Ireland)

I've been saying for a while now that Britain is at a Wiemar moment in its history.

The British population wouldn't know what a fascist / national socialist was if one bit them, they've been told for too long that anything other than a communist is a nazi, so is it a surprise that they now think it is not a bad idea to vote green or BNP?

Come to that, what the hell are the authoritarian wing of the Tories? nothing libertarian or individualist about them, just another bunch of collectivist statist brownshirts willing to create and exploit any crisis they can.

Intereasting that Benito Musolini was Duce of the Italian Marxists before WW1 and he remained in mutual admiration and correspondence with Vladmir Lennin and Leon Trotsky, up to their deaths.

So many graves to piss on - and so little time

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

We've already had the movie. It's called "Avatar", one of the all-time success stories of the movie industry. It's got a great plot, loveable heroes, subtle villians and graphics that made me cringe (I've got a THING about heights, you need to understand)... but it is also an evil work of propaganda catering to the Green agenda. It depicts a world that may actually be sentient (Gaia, anyone? James Lovelock?) with an indigeneous, sentient species that not only lives in harmony with nature but regards their prey as brothers who should be prayed for and thanked after killing them (the noble American Indian... see Dances with Wolves or Last of the Mohicans) and who are being dispossesed by evil capitalist, technologically advanced, militaristict humans who are destroying their own world and the Pandora Garden of Eden as well. The hero receives redemption by discarding his humanity.

Is there anyone comfortable with this? I urge all my students to read Mein Kampf... the Fuhrer is not around to collect royalties, grace a' dieu, but this movie needs to be seen by everyone with a brain... and the actors, writers, directors, producers..... anyone who had anything to do with this should be subjected to what we sociologists call "informal sanctioning".... let them know how you feel.

It is not just the environmental scientists who have become anti-democarcy, there is a coalition of statists, greens, animal rights people, children-rights people, anti-capitalists, anti-militarists, vegetarians... an endlist list of fringe groups who are coalescing into a bloc who hate all that Western Civilization has produced: democracy, individualism, human rights, rationality, technology and even science itself. They are using the term "science" to undermine and subvert true science..... much like North Korea styles itself the "People's Democratic Republic".

Friends... the struggle is just beginning. Develop a critical eye. The elitists are neither Democrat or Republican, Labour or Conservative, Labour or Liberal... they are all of the above. They go to the same schools, belong to the same associations, sit on the same boards... they even marry each other. Karl Marx in the 19th century wrote about "false consciousness".... a theme carried forward in the 20th by the so-called "Frankfurt School" - the elites attempt to hide the true nature of disadvantage by blaming "outsiders" - we can blame the liberals or the conservatives for the mess, but they were actually all complicit. Each was ionterested in a compliant, docile population. And so we've become.

Aux Lanternes.

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

A few years back I visited the traveling Holocaust Museum in Ottawa, Canada. The exhibit is littered with newspaper articles and government propaganda on Eugenics that shares a spooky similarity to what we see on climate change. I find the historical parallels astounding. A pseudo science consensus compelling us to act to save humanity. A world economy on the verge of a depression. The fools in academia assaulting us with their wisdom. And a general belief in a Fascist type government to save us from global warming and those "evil" corporations. I cannot help but think we are marching down that road again.

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg F

any belief system gives an individual a moral right to impose tyranny upon other human beings is to be opposed by all humanitarians & libertarians.
this dynamic is the root cause of some of the most vicious & hideous acts of humanity & is the dogma of the inquisition, nazi 'experiments' on concentration camp prisoners, the use of atomic weapons, all wars, & murderers everywhere.
they define themselves with such cold & calculating statements & people everywhere are watching as they decide where they stand on this...
truth or dogma?

Jan 7, 2010 at 4:58 AM | Unregistered Commenteruseless-eater

what we are seeing taking shape is happening in other areas of science & the debate is almost identical.
AUTISM-THIMEROSAL / HIV-AIDS have both been hijacked by corporate science & biostitutes & truth stifled.
However, just as in climate science, truth & integrity are rising up & are unstoppable now.
I ask people to watch some of the films of Gary Null PhD regarding both AUTISM & HIV.
Yes, I agree with the last comment, we are witnessing an attempt to resurrect fascism not just in the domain of climate science but in many other areas.
the illegal wars on terror & the simultaneous loss of our liberties in the name of false flag operations.
none of this is new to many, but the obvious power & influence behind the myth of AGW is impossible to ignore & causing many to wake up to hidden & powerful agendas that are capable of orchestrating politics, science & main stream media to perpetuate this bullshit.
x

Jan 7, 2010 at 5:14 AM | Unregistered Commenteruseless-eater

The sum total of 20th century deaths from socialism (including national socialism and communism) is about 120 millions. That is twenty Holocausts resulting from an ideology that says: "I am a right-minded thinker, and I am therefore holy, and if you disagree with me, you are evil and must be destroyed." That same ideology is found today in the greens who spew spittle as they rant their "global warming" drivel, inebriated on their own adrenaline.

"...the Khmer Rouge view themselves (as) superhuman saints whose enormous kindness, benevolence, and goodness justifies the savage torture of everyone who fails to live up to the impeccable example of kindliness and saintliness set by the good Khmer Rouge themselves." http://www.jim.com/chomsdis.htm

Jan 7, 2010 at 6:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

As regards Avatar, I think we need to avoid hysterical over-interpretation or over-reaction. Calm down dear, it's a blockbuster. Terminator II didn't do anything for the robotics industry and Titanic didn't change cruise ship safety. The film seems a perfectly reasonable metaphor for the genocide of the native Americans by white settlers and a fair commentary on much of the world's mining. See
http://www.panossouthasia.org/pdf/Mining-Final.pdf
(H/T EU Referendum).
We certainly need some counter to the vampire squid and its agents.

Jan 7, 2010 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrianSJ

"Uekoetter is fond of quoting historian R. Dominick from whom we learn that of 18 top German conservationists in 1938, ten were Nazi Party members and one had been refused membership. (18) What Uekoetter neglects to relay is that Dominick concluded 60% of German conservation organization members were card-carrying Nazis. (19) Uekoetter places membership in the conservation movement inside the Third Reich at 5 million. Nazi Party membership was also in the low millions. During MOST of the Third Reich MOST active German conservationists were Nazi Party members and MOST Nazi Party members were active in conservationist organizations. We are not dealing with two camps of men. We are dealing a single fascist/conservationist camp. Uekoetter concedes this on several occasions:
“...most members of the conservation community touted nature protection as a quintessential goal of Hermann Goring and Adolf Hitler.” (20)
"
Uekoetter's "Green and Brown" Condensed and Critiqued

Jan 7, 2010 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavidNcl

Essential reading:

Joshua Goldberg: "Liberal Fascism" published by penguin.

there is a very good itemization of genocides in the 20th century on the JPFO website

I've got a copy of "they thought they were free" waiting to be read, I think I'll start it today.

Now, to the tune of the Horst Wessel Laid....

Jan 7, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Are we saying all attempts at eco conservationism are bad because AGW is false science? It just seems this is as far off the spectrum as the AGW crowd to me.

Surely there is middle ground, maybe once AGW is dropped we can get back to "proper" (or real) ecological conservation, like preventing ground water contamination via hydraulic "fracking" or addressing imminent and actual water shortages (peak water?) by re-planting forests around the foot hills of the Himalayas, or preventing wholesale de-forestation which will lead to further drinking water shortages as rainfall patterns are disrupted.

I see AGW as a political cover for Peak Oil, most of the "ordinary people" who back AGW are stuck in a "precautionary principle" mindset, and seem to think that by standing under the AGW banner they have the best chance to address resource depletion, misguided as that is, I can see why people flock to the banner.

I also think this whole debate is a massive distraction, the global PTB are positioning "the grand chessboard" for resource wars as we speak, once Israel announce "check" by attacking Iran with nuclear weapons - whilst claiming they used conventional weapons that somehow set off nukes (see Timothy Hampton who was one of the few could renounce that story) - the Eugenicists will get there population reduction.

The current chessboard looks like "Rimland" on acid. While we all scream foul on AGW the PTB are planning our endgame.

Jan 7, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Just to add to DavidNCL's comments,

The Nazis also hijacked the German organic and whole foods movement.
The hunting tests required in most of Europe were a Nazi introduction.

One good and lasting thing that came out of the Nazi "greens" was the Youth Hostel Association!

Jan 7, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

I found this quote most illuminating:

'The well-known climate researcher James Hansen adds resignedly and frustrated as well as vaguely, "the democratic process does not work". '

In typical totalitarian fashion (to cover the whole spectrum, from left to right, which forms fascism), it is always the 'system' (another expression beloved by totalitarians) called democracy which is at fault when they cannot impose their desired measures.

This is just another side of the astonishing arrogance of the AGW proponents. Not only do they want to put a stop to evolution, to the activities of sun and oceans and on plate tectonics - they also regard us all, the people, as being too stupid to understand that they only want the best for us.
Thus we all need to be forced to accept our great good luck ...

Yes - ecofascism is the right expression.
Unfortunately there aren't manypeople left alive who know what living under fascism actually entails ...

Jan 7, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

It seems to me that consensus (usually misspelt "concensus") doesn't actually exist. It is precisely because there is no consensus in the voting population that it "needs" to be imposed by non-democratic means.

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterShona

The film Avatar, reminded me of the Industrial Wind Turbine industry, ignoring the democratic concerns of local residents, trashing the land for greed. Unfortunatly, with the support of the present government.

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

I hear similar disturbing activist soundbites from the dutch social-democrat MP(!) and climate spokesman Diederik Samsom.

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterHans Erren

"the democratic process does not work". To the contrary, it works. It is the will of a majority against the will of a minority. If the majority doesn't approve of the world governance concocted by a minority even if this majority agrees with the doom to be expected from climate change, the majority can still decide that it prefers the doom of climate change over the doom of world governance.
That's democracy in its purest form.

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered Commentercogito

"Surely there is middle ground, maybe once AGW is dropped we can get back to "proper" (or real) ecological conservation, like preventing ground water contamination via hydraulic "fracking" or addressing imminent and actual water shortages ..."
I certainly agree with Anon, but aren't we doing this already? Aren't our computers, houses appliances, cars, consuming less energy that 10 years ago? The problem is, they have become far more affordable (also because they use less energy), so more people use them. Should we restrict the use of such "luxury" items?

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commentercogito

<p>Seems to me that if a group
</p>
<ul>
<li>Seriously believed in AGW Armageddon </li>
<li>Had an iota of understanding about human nature</li>
<li>And wanted to do something about AGW Armageddon

</li>
</ul>
<p>the answer is obvious.  Propose, invent, advocate, and develop non-carbon based supplies of energy at a cost less than the current carbon based sources (e.g. natural gas, oil, coal).  Any other approach is doomed to failure.
</p>
<p>So why aren't the doom-sayers pushing HARD for nuclear?  Maybe they have another agenda where AGW Armageddon is a smoke screen.  Nothing else makes any sense to me.

</p>
<p>

</p>

Jan 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Ramsey

The real problem is that there is a global overpopulation of humans. Fifty years ago there were about 2.5 billion. Now there are over 6 billion. Why aren't the Watermelons and Fanbois screaming about that?

And there is something to be learned about that from Avitar -- We will try to take somebody else's world for our own.

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Gandalf to Frodo: "Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterA Tolkien Fan

Viv, I assume you are living in the UK - you know very much about what living under fascism is like. Remember a certain little politician (Who I think is creepy and slimy), talking about his being the "third way"?

Fascism is actually quite a cosy system - for the chosen volk...

Don Pablo, Malthus thought the world was overpopulated 200 years ago, he didn't foresee agricultural improvements. Todays "greens" certainly have eugenics and population control in mind - for thee and me - not for themselves.

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Keith: the two best blog comments I've read this year so far, especially the first.

The nationalist element of National Socialism/Fascism had its origins in the “back to the land” movement of the late 19th/early 20th Centuries, although it clearly developed beyond that eventually. Those proto-greens believed, after Malthus, that in order to sustain their more “natural” way of living, the population would have to be reduced. Hence eugenics: “obviously” it made sense to kill off the weakest and least productive.

This has all happened before. One of Jonah Goldberg's main points is that because the left has denied its common ground with authoritarian socialism and projected any evil done in its name on to the “right”, it's prone to make the same mistakes again in the firm belief that they aren't the same. And here they come...

Jan 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam Duncan

Mike Ramsey, nuclear is no long term solution, at best it can only help transition to a MUCH lower consumption society.

From Energy Watch Group ( Uranium resources and nuclear energy 2006 summery)

"Any forecast of the development of nuclear power in the next 25 years has to concentrate on
two aspects, the supply of uranium and the addition of new reactor capacity. At least
within this time horizon, neither nuclear breeding reactors nor thorium reactors will play a
significant role because of the long lead times for their development and market penetration.
The analysis of data on uranium resources leads to the assessment that discovered reserves are
not sufficient to guarantee the uranium supply for more than thirty years. Eleven countries have already exhausted their uranium reserves. In total, about 2.3 Mt of
uranium have already been produced. At present only one country (Canada) is left having
uranium deposits containing uranium with an ore grade of more than 1%, most of the
remaining reserves in other countries have ore grades below 0.1% and two thirds of reserves
have ore grades below 0.06%."

http://www.lbst.de/publications/studies__e/2006/EWG-paper_1-06_Uranium-Resources-Nuclear-Energy_03DEC2006.pdf

To extract 1 kg of uranium out of 1% ore containing material needs the processing of 100 kg. Extracting the same amount from 0.01% ore needs the processing of 10,000 kg. You can easily see that even if, for the sake of the argument we assume that the EROEI of nuclear energy for all ore grades is positive, there are physical limits to the production throughput Uranium production can ever reach.

There is no viable replacement for Oil at even half of current global consumption levels.

Jan 7, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Anon......I understand there are extremely large amounts of Uranium in sea water, and a proven method for extracting it? I imagine also, the transition would be towards a Nuclear Fusion society? Or other, future tech, solutions. I doubt very much, myself, that we will consume less energy.

Jan 7, 2010 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

"At least within this time horizon, neither nuclear breeding reactors nor thorium reactors will play a significant role because of the long lead times for their development and market penetration."

A fully functional thorium reactor with an electric output of 300 MW was run in the 80s in Germany (Hamm-Uentrop). I'm not sure about the reason for its shutdown but i suspect it was the lack of a wast disposal strategy.

Jan 7, 2010 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

Keiith - yep, I know precisely of whom you speak ...!

Indeed, the new fascism is cosy for those inside. But - it comes with a smiling face, not with jackboots. That is the enormous danger, because people simply don't notice what is happening until it is too late.
Also, the new fascism hides its goals behind smooth, PR-polished slogans.
Who could possibly object to clean air, to a clean environment?
Then you have all the concerned arts students, who end up in the meejah, being outraged about the pollutant CO2.
Sounds familiar?

Over the years I've been reading a lot about both the 3rd Reich and the Soviet Union. One valuable lesson out of this is that one becomes sensitive to their language, their slogans, and to the underlying concepts.
The other very valuable lesson is that the ordinary people, the famous man on the Clapham omnibus, have a far better idea of what is going on than most of the pundits in the media.
And they have not been taken in by AGW, even well before ClimateGate.
So there is hope!

Jan 7, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

January 7, 2010 | Don Pablo de la Sierra

"The real problem is that there is a global overpopulation of humans".

There isn't. People are the ultimate resource. More people = more brains = more ideas = more weath. Eventually the solar system will team with us in the hundreds of trillions and, in time, the entire Galaxy. It's that or the long down.

Jan 7, 2010 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidNcl

fenbeagle: you can get gold from seawater too, now why do you suppose no-one bothers? EROI = Energy return on energy invested, it would take more energy to extract it, than it would produce.

Fusion? "Dr Briscoe said that it will probably take two-and-a-half to three years from the start of one reactor for it to supply enough surplus tritium to start up another. The estimate he gave was that even if the only obstacles were technical ones it will be 2100 before fusion can supply more than 30% of Europe’s electricity.... One estimate puts the capital cost at €14/W electrical for DEMO falling to €4/W for commercial plants in serial production....These prices should be compared to today's fission and coal plants at €3 /W and €1.5 /W. respectively for the plant alone." http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/2164

Mike: "There was a pebble bed reactor accident at Hamm-Uentrop West Germany nine days after the Chernobyl accident. On May 4 1986, a pebble became lodged in a feeder tube. Operators subsequently caused damage to the fuel during attempts to free the pebble. Radiation was released to the environs. The West German government closed down the research program because they found the reactor design unsafe."

Reactors of any type take a huge commitment of energy just to construct. Foundry parts, concrete, land, machine parts, equipment, welding, computers, (in your case) helium, manpower and precision. If you were to add up all of the calories spent on the inputs and the perpetual care of the waste you would find that in the end thermodynamics will win and you might as well have just burned the oil directly to generate power.

Jan 7, 2010 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Anon: Interesting detail about the Hamm thorium reactor - thanks. However, your suggestion that nuclear reactors in general provide no net energy output sounds very wrong to me.

Jan 7, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike

Sam, I'm flattered, thanks

Viv, apologies for earlier underestimation!

Anon commenting about uranium,
be very sceptical of any scare story using the term "Reserve"
"Reserve" has a very specific economic deffinition, it requires the deposit to have specific levels of confidence in it's grade and tonnage distributions and plant recovery tests, it also requires, and this is the important bit, a bankable feasibility study, to the rules laid down by the appropriate stock market, demonstrating the economic viability of working that defined block of ground.

The ammount of drilling, testing, pilot plant work and possibly even triall working are extremely expensive.

Due to the time value of money, the value in todays money of income more than 25 years in the future is virtually zero,

All of that means that there is no point in proving up beyond 25 years production to "reserve" standards.

The confusion between reserve and resource led to a massive "crisis" in the 1970's when, shock horror, it was declared that copper, tin, oil etc etc etc would all run out in 25 years. This resulted in massive wasting of money that could far better have been used else where in economies, being used by state sectors in mineral exploration.

Result, the metals price crash in the late 80s early 90s- due to massive over production (once again, states created loosers).

Regarding grade and tonnage, in most minerals there is a roughly inverse correlation between head grade and resource tonnage, both between different deposits and within individual deposits.

One of the jobs in compiling a feasibility study is to determine the optimum cut off grade, this is and should usually be the one which gives the largest net present value for the operation (the greens who get as far as hearing that love it - filthy lucre determining what part of a deposit doesn't get worked).

I'll use the example of gold as I understand a little about it:

Cononish, near Tyndrum in Scotland, has small, high grade "lenses" of gold bearing material in a pretty well defined vein. the guys who were looking at it in 1990 worked on the idea of requiring 3ppm Au to be worth going for as at the state of knowledge then, it looked like being a small, relatively labour intensive operation, with no real prospect of economies of scale.

Porphyry copper deposits in the Andes and Papua New Guinea, are huge tonnages of finely disseminated sulphides in massive volumes of rock. These are the sort of deposits that you can use fleets of 200 tonne or bigger dumpers to haul outr of open pits potentially up to 3km deep, to leach pads, where oxidation of the sulphides gives sulphuric acid to leach out the copper, and leaching with dilute cyanide leaches out the gold. 0.3ppm Au could be very interesting.

Optimum cut off grade should continue to be determined at several points during the year, and it would not be unknown for an operation to sample and rework its dumps if the market demand changes.

Jan 7, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Anon. A link to more optimistic views about Uranium extraction from sea water. Particularly by the Japanese.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/11/india-working-with-france-on-extracting.html

...There is much experimentation, under way at the moment, for different methods of producing Nuclear Fusion. And other future energy technologies. And many existing and conventional methods for producing energy that will not run out of fuel in the very near future. Even CO2 can be turned into Methanol for fuel, as experiments in Singapore would suggest.

Jan 7, 2010 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

This is nothing new. Back in the early 90's when I pointed out that cutting out all pesticides would probably condemn a billion people to starvation, a green responded: if that is what it takes. Now most Greens are not fascists and would be horrified at the suggestion, but the problem is that they really don't understand the consequences of the actions for which they are calling. They live in an ideal world where of course THEY wouldn't use force, never understanding that "they" are not in control. To accomplish what they want would require massive coercion, and someone is going to have to administer it, and THAT person will not have an issue using force to their advantage.

Jan 7, 2010 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Sace

Don Pablo de la Sierra

You are actually horribly wrong about over-population. Looking at big numbers without context is misleading. The context in this case is population structure and sex ratios. In 2007 there were approximately 6.6 billion people in the world with a median age of 28 years, a life expectancy of 65.8 years, and with 27.4% being under the age of 15, 65.1% between 15 and 65, and 7.5% over 65. The world wide population growth rate was 1.17% and the world-wide fertility rate was 2.59 children per female. That fertility rate is important because to maintain a steady state population, that figure must be approximately 2.1 children per female.

Take a look at the UK: the median age in 2007 was 39.6 and life expectancy was 78.7 years. The age structure was 17.2% under the age of 15, 67% between 15 and 65, and 15.8% over 65. The growth rate was .28% and the fertility rate was 1.66 children per female. The UK's population grows only because of immigration. The native born population is no longer sustaining itself but, rather, is shrinking and the population is aging rapidly. The Englishman could become an endangered species.

This pattern is reproduced through out the industrialized world. Germany and Japan, for example, are both in a regime of declining population in absolute numbers. This means that the burden of production is falling on an increasingly smaller demographic while non-productive consumers (those over 65) are increasing.

Now take a look at one of our competitors, India. The median age in 2007 was 24.8 years in 2007, with a life expectancy of 65.8 years. The age distribution was 31.8%, 63.1% and 5.1%, respectively, while their growth rate was 1.6% and their fertility rate 2.81 children per female. Of crucial significance is the percent of population engaged in agricultural: for the UK that figure is 1.0%, while for India it is 60%. As India mechanizes its Agricultural as the West has done, it will release huge numbers of workers for industrial and technological work at a time when the West will have fewer and fewer such workers available.

The Good/Bad news is that India and China will both go the way of the West into a regime of declining, aging populations. By the 23rd century, world population could be down to about 2.5 - 3 billion. World power goes to the societies with large, youthful, productive populations.

World population too large? Not really. It is the disparity in population structures that are the problem. A very complex problem.

Jan 7, 2010 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Our politicians - of both parties -have, over the past thirty years, handed around 70% of our sovereignty over to the EU. This happened one little bit at a time, so no-one really noticed it. The trend towards big government knowing best has become well-nigh unstoppable. Unless someone rallies the millions of people who, if properly led, could take us towards true democracy - that is, small government in a nation that has a constitution such that sovereignty can never be irrevocably outsourced.

By the way, remember that Mussolini was a socialist, and much lauded by Russian communists in the early days - until Stalin decided that Mussolini's "national" socialism was too much of a competitor with his (Stalin's) "international" socialism or communism. And Hitler took after Mussolini. National Socialism or International Socialism/Communism - they were just two sides of the same coin. And they differed little in their philosophy of "big government knows best" from the global warming movement we're seeing now. Except now the movement doesn't like nation states because people don't always think the right way, and free elections may give the "wrong" answer. So they've chosen global warming as the big scare to get their way. That's why the global warming movement is like a religion, But don't be deceived. It's not a religion. It's an anti-freedom anti-democracy POLITICAL movement with the aim of a dictatorial world government.

Jan 7, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRebivore

Mike: I think 10k plus years to look after the waste probably figures high in those remarks.

Thanks for your thoughts Keith, I do find it interesting how countries like China are now aggressively chasing and hoarding resources like copper etc.as if they're going out of fashion, which seems to indicate a level of depletion not faced before.

fenbeagle, your link was dead unfortunately. However the point I was trying to make is that it seems clear that all these replacement technologies for oil are still in early (embryonic) development, and none will come online in time (if at all) to replace finite oil reserves. Since we passed peak oil 2004-2008, and current estimates for reserves are around the 6% per year depletion rate, we are facing a major oil crisis, probably within 2 years if further demand destruction (like the credit crunch) does not reduce global demand. This crisis seems underplayed by most media, and most people have no clue as to the level of impact (devastation) it will cause.

Jan 7, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

"The real problem is that there is a global overpopulation of humans". -
There isn't. People are the ultimate resource. More people = more brains = more ideas = more weath. Eventually the solar system will team with us in the hundreds of trillions and, in time, the entire Galaxy. It's that or the long down. January 7, 2010 | DavidNcl

Not so. People are a resource when they are educated and specially when the women are educated. When that happens, as in all western societies, they stop breeding to the level that the population stabilises to a sustainable level.

When the women are not educated, or when they are forced to breed due to religious or cultural pressures, the population grows to unsustainable levels, which is the case in many parts of the world.

The population pressures that the Western World is facing from the Islamic world, for example, is not because their lands are being drowned by global warming, but simply because they are being drowned by people breeding like flies.

The reason for the decline of Western societies compared to China or India is the decline in the Western education system and the dumbing down of society. In New Zealand for example we have a system in our schools called the NCEA, where you can take the most irrelevant of subjects. There are few exams and no one is graded with marks. If you "fail" it is just known as "Not Achieved". The standard of Science and Maths is appalling. History practically non-existant and even the standard of English is pretty poor.A large percentage graduate from our schools semi-literate and with no knowledge of science or history or the outside world.

In a sense that the Global Warming scam has been swallowed by the general population, is reflection of the failure of our education system. A prime example was when "Ethical Man" of the BBC "proved" Global Warming to an uninformed crowd in his kitchen! At the end of the show a few who were initially sceptical started to discuss the sacrifices they were prepared to make to "save the world"!

Jan 8, 2010 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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