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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:14 PM
Original message
Why I consider carbon a greater threat than nuclear power or even nuclear weapons
In the recent thread A stunning year in climate science, the linked article contains a long, detailed and well informed comment thread. Comment #109 contains a lengthy and detailed analysis of how much heat is trapped by greenhouse gases, and compares the heat to a variety of high-energy events such as the K-T boundary impact, PETM, and nuclear weapons. The comment is worth reading in its entirety, but these paragraphs stick out for me:

To begin to grasp the world-altering scale of the global-warming energy, we need an appropriate yardstick. Let us use the nuclear scale of energies. When a nuclear bomb explodes, the released energy is ultimately degraded to heat. Choose as yardstick the total energy potential of the combined nuclear arsenals of the world as of 1995, estimated at 10,000 equivalent megatons of TNT (~10 gigatons). One equivalent world nuclear arsenal (eqWNA) is here defined as the heat equivalent of all the nuclear warheads and bombs in the worlds stockpiles at that timeapproaching fifty billion gigajoules (5e19 J), coincidentally on the order of one mega-Hiroshima, the released energy of one million Hiroshima bombs and about the potential energy at time of birth of a superenergetic ENSO event such as occurred in 1998. This is vast energy: a freight train able to carry fifty billion gigajoules (50000000000000000000 watt-seconds) of energy as TNT would be 4.8 million km (3 million miles) long, spanning one-tenth of the distance from the earth to the orbit of Venus.

This unit of energy (as heat) that I call the equivalent world nuclear arsenal (eqWNA) is a good measure of the warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases because it roughly corresponds to the diurnal global-warming energy, the excess heat added by man-made greenhouse gases to the global climate system in one night and day.

So we see that in just one twenty-four-hour period of 24 x 60 x 60 = 86,400 seconds, that 500 trillion joules per second of net greenhouse-trapped energy sums to ~4.3 x 10^19 (43000000000000000000) joules, an amount of energy which if released suddenly anywhere in the world (as by a powerful earthquake, asteroid strike, or synchronized detonation of the world nuclear arsenal) would be a major cataclysm. The difference between this energy figure and the fifty-billion-gigajoule figure just quoted is not significant. Over the long term, were fried just the same.

The long-term Earth warming due to man-made CO2 far exceeds the energy potential of the same mass of TNT (or of any fossil fuel) and actually begins to approach the power of a nuclear explosive in respect to its capacity to heat the planet. One ton of excess atmospheric carbon yields roughly 1 to 10 equivalent kilotons of cumulative earth warming over the course of its mean atmospheric lifetime. It follows that over the course of a century one hundred billion tons of man-made atmospheric carbon (100 GtCa fraction of the current anthropogenic total) adds at minimum the heat equivalent of one hundred trillion tons (100 Tt) of TNT to the climate system, comparable to the energy yield of roughly 100,000,000 tons of a nuclear explosive such as Uranium-235. This is approximately the energy released by the prehistoric K-T impact which triggered the dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period. (The Hiroshima bomb was fueled by 10 kilograms of Uranium-235. The K-T impact released on the order of 10^8 megatons, equal to about ten billion Hiroshimas happening in the same place at the same time.) At a mean Earth-warming rate of 1 watt per square meterthe same as one megawatt per square kilometerthe heat equivalent of one K-T impact will be added about every twenty-five years. Nothing more than an order-of-magnitude calculation of the global-warming energy is necessary to make the point, as the energies involved are far greater than those associated with past known climate changes, outstripping even the forcing which drove the catastrophic warming of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 54 million years ago. If we have the answer correct to the nearest order of magnitude, then we have the relevant answer.

Keep in mind that this calculation only addresses the heat added to the planet. It does not address the amplification of the energy storage due to the release of methane clathrates. It especially does not address the chemical properties of CO2 that result in what may be just as serious, if not potentially more so - ocean acidification leading to the disruption of the oceanic food chain and the the damage to phytoplankton's role in the carbon cycle.

In the face of risks like this, even global nuclear war pales into insignificance. On this scale of magnitude, the risks posed by nuclear waste are frankly not even visible to the naked eye. We must do everything we can to halt carbon addition to the atmosphere. If that requires us to use electricity generated by nuclear power, we should not let a misplaced fear of misunderstood risks be the impediment that causes the destruction of much of our planet's life.

We claim to be rational creatures. It's time to prove it.
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Exultant Democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. k&r
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
2. Not a valid comparison - they have completely different effects
The big threat from nuclear war is nuclear winter, where sunlight is blocked.
That calculation really just shows how puny nuclear energy is compared to solar energy.
Global warming is caused by a slight change in how much solar energy gets trapped by the atmosphere.
The earth receives more energy from the sun each year than is stored in all the nuclear fuel underground:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_resources_and...

The estimates of remaining non-renewable worldwide energy resources vary, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 YJ (1 YJ = 1024J) and the available nuclear fuel such as uranium exceeding 2.5 YJ. Fossil fuels range from 0.6-3 YJ if estimates of reserves of methane clathrates are accurate and become technically extractable. Mostly thanks to the Sun, the world also has a renewable usable energy flux that exceeds 120 PW (8,000 times 2004 total usage), or 3.8 YJ/yr, dwarfing all non-renewable resources.


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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. It is a valid comparison since both types of catastrophe fuck up planetary energy balance.
As yet there have been well over 2000 nuclear weapons tests since we invented the bomb. Nuclear winter, unlike global warming, is theorized, and some people believe we'd get at most a "nuclear autumn." Assuming another 20 years of no CO2 abatement (which is the likely outcome) nuclear winter would merely serve to balance out the warming that we have caused.

I'd be more concerned about the billions dying from radiation poisoning and direct effects from nuclear war than a "nuclear winter."
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. No, it's not a valid comparison
Some of the geo-engineering proposals are to put mirrors between the earth and sun, or to pump large amounts of sulfur into the stratosphere. The energy to do those is much less than the solar heating from global warming. The energy needed to block sunlight is much less than the energy in the sunlight you're trying to block. Trying to compare them is meaningless.

Global warming and nuclear winter are based on the same climate models. "Some people" believe that global warming is only a theory, "some people" believe that nuclear winter is only a theory, often those are the same people, and they are usually conservatives.

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:28 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Global warming models have so far been historically underestimating.
Nuclear winter models have been so far historically overestimating. At first it was a snowball Earth, then it was a middle ice age, now it's localized cold events. This of course is assuming an all out nuclear exchange of all nuclear arsenals is even possible (the large states would first have to all go insane and every warhead would have to miraculously survive until detonation).
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #13
23. Even a small nuclear war could produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history
and a nuclear war between the United States and Russia could produce nuclear winter:
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Nuclear_winter

* A minor nuclear war (such as between India and Pakistan or in the Middle East), with each country using 50 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs as airbursts on urban areas, could produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history. This is only 0.03% of the explosive power of the current global arsenal.
* This same scenario would produce global ozone depletion, because the heating of the stratosphere would enhance the chemical reactions that destroy ozone.
* A nuclear war between the United States and Russia today could produce nuclear winter, with temperatures plunging below freezing in the summer in major agricultural regions, threatening the food supply for most of the planet.

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #23
34. Pakistan and India's entire arsenel is not "small."
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #13
24. Large nuclear war: Cooling of 30C over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

<snip>

2007 study on global nuclear war

<snip>

A global average surface cooling of 7C to 8C persists for years, and after a decade the cooling is still 4C (Fig. 2). Considering that the global average cooling at the depth of the last ice age 18,000 yr ago was about 5C, this would be a climate change unprecedented in speed and amplitude in the history of the human race. The temperature changes are largest over land ... Cooling of more than 20C occurs over large areas of North America and of more than 30C over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions.

<snip>

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. That was before the 30% reduction in global arsenel.
And another 30% reduction can be expected in the next decade.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 07:27 AM
Response to Reply #33
37. Actually the reduction has been over 50% since 1990.
Edited on Wed Jan-19-11 07:43 AM by GliderGuider
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/START_I
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_with_nuclea...

A lot better than the results of Kyoto, Copenhagen and Cancun combined ...
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-20-11 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #37
41. Indeed, but the paper was including 1990s arsenal, to be fair (it was made in 2007).
But still, you make a very strong point. We'll likely have reduced our global nuclear arsenal to a point rendering the paper pointless.

But no one has any idea of any possibility of all out nuclear exchange.

We have a very good idea of what AGW is doing, however.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:31 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. As far as "catastrophe causing energy imbalance on Earth" they're directly comparable.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:32 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. Geoengineering is the last refuge of deniers. They love geoengineering.
And by conjuring geoengineering as a solution you automatically reject that there is a problem in the first place.
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 05:12 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. "Geoengineering" = "Godwinning" a climate discussion
"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a solution
involving Geoengineering approaches 1."

Given enough time, in any online climate-related discussion, someone inevitably
"solves" the issues under debate by introducing a "geo-engineering solution",
usually to avoid having to face the reality that there is no feasible or practical
alternative to waving the magic wand of untried (frequently non-existent) technology
that will rescue the "Business As Usual" mindset.

There is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums
that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned
the Nazis geoengineering has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in
progress.

(OK, so I cheated with the last bit ... :evilgrin: )
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:02 PM
Response to Reply #16
31. Pretty much, and once you accept geoengineering, you accept business as usual.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 08:59 AM
Response to Reply #16
39. Worse than invoking the Rapture as a "solution"
because it's cloaked in pseudo-scientific respectability
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-20-11 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #39
43. It's turning me toward the singularity.
HARD AI WILL SAVE US.
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-21-11 03:29 AM
Response to Reply #43
45. The more powerful the computer, the more electricity it consumes ...
... so your best bet to overclock your CPU - hence get to the singularity
quicker - is to take two metal forks, one in each hand, and push them into
the electricity outlet so your brain can get *just* the right amount of power!

:evilgrin:

(Note for any children reading this: please don't try this at home, at school or
anywhere as you need a truly special type of brain for this experiment ...)
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #15
21. I wasn't advocating geoengineering, I was showing that the energy comparisons were invalid
but I'm sure you knew that.
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:02 PM
Response to Reply #21
30. No, you avoided the energy balance issue by invoking geoeingeering. Period.
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. Nuclear autumn - not nuclear winter
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 08:50 AM by PamW
Global warming and nuclear winter are based on the same climate models. "Some people" believe that global warming is only a theory, "some people" believe that nuclear winter is only a theory, often those are the same people, and they are usually conservatives.
====================================================================

Actually, the group of scientists that first proposed nuclear winter, the TTAPS group ( an acronymn of their last names, the "S" is for Carl Sagan ) retracted much of their
nuclear winter claims, and said it would be no worse than a "nuclear autumn". The original calculations were done with one-dimensional climate models. The climate system
is not 1-D but 3-D, and the model seriously miscalculated the effects.

If you want a reference where this is reported, see the New York Times of January 23, 1990 page B-1
( I remember the date because it is my birthday )

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/23/science/nuclear-winte...

PamW

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. There is much more recent work than 1990 - it is nuclear winter
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 11:11 AM by bananas
"A nuclear war between the United States and Russia today could produce nuclear winter, with temperatures plunging below freezing in the summer in major agricultural regions, threatening the food supply for most of the planet."

http://www.eoearth.org/article/Nuclear_winter

Nuclear winter
Published: January 6, 2009, 3:59 pm
Lead Author: Alan Robock

<snip>

There are several wrong impressions that people have about nuclear winter. One is that there was a flaw in the theory and that the large climatic effects were disproven. Another is that the problem, even if it existed, has been solved by the end of the nuclear arms race. But these are both wrong. Furthermore, new nuclear states threaten global climate change even with arsenals that are much less than 1% of the current global arsenal.

What's New

Based on new work published in 2007 and 2008 by some of the pioneers of nuclear winter research who worked on the original studies, we now can say several things about this topic.

New Science:

* A minor nuclear war (such as between India and Pakistan or in the Middle East), with each country using 50 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs as airbursts on urban areas, could produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history. This is only 0.03% of the explosive power of the current global arsenal.
* This same scenario would produce global ozone depletion, because the heating of the stratosphere would enhance the chemical reactions that destroy ozone.
* A nuclear war between the United States and Russia today could produce nuclear winter, with temperatures plunging below freezing in the summer in major agricultural regions, threatening the food supply for most of the planet.
* The climatic effects of the smoke from burning cities and industrial areas would last for several years, much longer than we previously thought. New climate model simulations, that have the capability of including the entire atmosphere and oceans, show that the smoke would be lofted by solar heating to the upper stratosphere, where it would remain for years.

New Policy Implications:

* The only way to eliminate the possibility of this climatic catastrophe is to eliminate the nuclear weapons. If they exist, they can be used.
* The spread of nuclear weapons to new emerging states threatens not only the people of those countries, but the entire planet.
* Rapid reduction of the American and Russian nuclear arsenals will set an example for the rest of the world that nuclear weapons cannot be used and are not needed.

<snip>

Copies of all the papers that describe these results, with figures, slide shows, and animations are available for free download at http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/nuclear

<snip>

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #17
20. Happy Birthday, Pam!
It's just a few days away.
:party:
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #17
22. 2007 study on global nuclear war - it is nuclear winter
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 11:11 AM by bananas
"Cooling of more than 20C occurs over large areas of North America and of more than 30C over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

<snip>

2007 study on global nuclear war

A study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in July 2007,<8> Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences,<9> used current climate models to look at the consequences of a global nuclear war involving most or all of the world's current nuclear arsenals (which the authors described as being only about a third the size of the world's arsenals twenty years earlier). The authors used a global circulation model, ModelE from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which they noted "has been tested extensively in global warming experiments and to examine the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate." The model was used to investigate the effects of a war involving the entire current global nuclear arsenal, projected to release about 150 Tg of smoke into the atmosphere (1 Tg is equal to 1012 grams), as well as a war involving about one third of the current nuclear arsenal, projected to release about 50 Tg of smoke. In the 150 Tg case they found that:

A global average surface cooling of 7C to 8C persists for years, and after a decade the cooling is still 4C (Fig. 2). Considering that the global average cooling at the depth of the last ice age 18,000 yr ago was about 5C, this would be a climate change unprecedented in speed and amplitude in the history of the human race. The temperature changes are largest over land ... Cooling of more than 20C occurs over large areas of North America and of more than 30C over much of Eurasia, including all agricultural regions.


In addition, they found that this cooling caused a weakening of the global hydrological cycle, reducing global precipitation by about 45%. As for the 50 Tg case involving one third of current nuclear arsenals, they said that the simulation "produced climate responses very similar to those for the 150 Tg case, but with about half the amplitude," but that "the time scale of response is about the same." They did not discuss the implications for agriculture in depth, but noted that a 1986 study which assumed no food production for a year projected that "most of the people on the planet would run out of food and starve to death by then" and commented that their own results show that "this period of no food production needs to be extended by many years, making the impacts of nuclear winter even worse than previously thought."

<snip>

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. Thanks to START we will be much closer to the 50 Tg case.
The strategic bombers cannot be considered viable weapons, it's all strategic missiles.

It's still an unlikely scenario and global warming is happening now.
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PamW Donating Member (566 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-20-11 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #22
40. Even that...
Even those results are relatively minor compared to the Chicxulub-scale
epoch promulgated by the originators of nuclear winter. One should heed
the message and learn the lessons espoused by the New York Times below:


http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/05/opinion/editorial-not...

PamW
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-20-11 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #40
44. Yes, "nuclear winter" was to be "snowball Earth."
As it stands now "nuclear winter" is just a little ice age that would no doubt have consequences for the planet, but is nothing compared to 5C temperature change.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #10
26. Small nuclear war: 20 million dead from blast, fire, fallout; 1 billion dead from starvation
You wrote, 'I'd be more concerned about the billions dying from radiation poisoning and direct effects from nuclear war than a "nuclear winter."'
That's incorrect, even for a small nuclear war:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/nuclear-winter-...

New analyses reveal that a conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped ... would produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture. ... Not only were the ideas of the 1980s correct but the effects would last for at least 10 years, much longer than previously thought. ...

More than 20 million people in the two countries could die from the blasts, fires and radioactivity. ... A nuclear war could trigger declines in yield nearly everywhere at once. ... Around one billion people worldwide who now live on marginal food supplies would be directly threatened with starvation by a nuclear war between India and Pakistan or between other regional nuclear powers.

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. I'll see your nuclear war and raise you one Malthusian catastrophe
A 25% decline in world grain production by 2100 would translate directly into a population 25% lower than today's. That's a net loss of 1.7 billion people.

http://www.preventionweb.net/files/1090_foodproduction....

Given that everything about the global ecology and climate is getting worse faster than expected, I consider a loss of 40% by 2100, with a population down to 4 billion from today's 7 billion, to be virtually inevitable at this point. This net population loss would be in the presence of some level of births, so the actual excess death toll over the century would probably be double that, or 6 to 7 billion.

Nuclear war has a low but non-zero risk with a potential death toll of perhaps one billion. Climate change is looking like a slam-dunk with a potential death toll of 3 to 7 billion. Which should I be more worried about?

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. Climate change is happening now. Nuclear war is a highly unlikely scenario.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #29
35. Plus, nuclear war is a pulse-type event, while climate change amounts to a global state change.
The effects of a war might last for a decade or so, but AGW will change the climate for centuries.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #35
36. We have been able to reduce the number of warheads by over 50%. Carbon, not so much.
Edited on Wed Jan-19-11 07:50 AM by GliderGuider
Over the last 20 years we have reduced the number of warheads in the world by 10,000, but we have added 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. In contrast to START I and START II, we have never been able to put a significant ACART Treaty (Atmospheric CArbon Reduction Treaty) in place.

On the one hand we have a minuscule risk of nuclear war that has been successfully addressed by two major international treaties, with a resulting reduction in the threat by over 50% over the last 20 years.

On the other hand we have actual ongoing, accelerating planetary damage (not a risk, but actual damage) that will very probably result in the deaths of multiple billions of people, that is not being addressed in any way whatsoever.

And I'm supposed to think that teh nucular is the real enemy?
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #36
38. That's an important contrast - thanks. (n/t)
:hi:
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-20-11 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #36
42. More people need to see this. We're doing something about nuclear weapons.
We're not doing shit about carbon.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
3. We shouldn't risk global warming or nuclear winter
We don't need nuclear energy to solve global warming.
Nuclear energy just adds more risk.
We claim to be rational creatures - it's time to prove it - let's stop using nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, and coal.

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. It's not just coal.
Edited on Mon Jan-17-11 02:22 PM by GliderGuider
We need to stop using oil and natural gas as well. Immediately, if not sooner.

No wonder nobody's real enthusiastic about solving this global warming thing, eh?
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 09:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. We actually need to stop using coal immediately. We have at most 5-10 years to stop...
...all coal buildout, period. 5-10 years. Coal is where we can really make a dent, immediately, with a good carbon fee.

However, this will never in a million fucking years happen without a in-place replacement for coal. Gen III can't do it.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
5. One additional comment
Despite my exhortations to rationality, I really don't think we're going to do anything at all about global warning. Consumption and mobility rule our activities, and anything that impedes those primal imperatives will be rejected before the idea even becomes conscious. We cannot go backwards voluntarily, our brains will not let us. In the face of this, worrying about whether or not we should use nuclear power to deal with the situation is irrelevant. The bald-ape truth is that we will use whatever means are at our disposal to enable both our mobility and our consumption, consequences be damned.

If we start our thinking with the premise that the above is true, what are appropriate courses of action for aware individuals or groups?
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guardian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 05:42 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. what are appropriate courses of action for aware individuals or groups?
I recommend that you get a bunch of your friends together, form a syndicate, and start buying lots of land north of 60 N latitude. By the year 2100 it will be the new French Riviera and breadbasket of the world as temperatures skyrocket past livable levels closer to the equator. Buy low, sell high! You'll make a fortune! Then you'll be about to afford the beach front property in Boulder CO for your winter home.

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Terry in Austin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
7. K&R, with a modest proposal
Edited on Mon Jan-17-11 06:24 PM by Terry in Austin
I like the quantification. Not so much the nuclear conclusion, though. But then GG knows that, and I respect the reasoning by which he's come to his own position on nuclear power.

Climate change is a daunting problem, primarily because of its sheer scale. As rational creatures, we're unexpectedly stumped when we even try to think about it. We're frustrated that we're not clever enough to solve it.

I suggest that much of the dissonance lies in what we consider "we" -- it's certainly true that as individuals, "we" are rational creatures; however, at the scale on which climate change occurs, "we" are a population, and populations do not behave rationally. In fact, the behavior of populations in general -- from yeasts to rabbits to humans -- is remarkably similar.

That's pretty cold comfort of course, because we as individuals still have to live with the consequences and find ways to come to terms with our individual powerlessness in the face of global-scale phenomena.

Still, despite overwhelming odds and widespread denial, <insert suitably upbeat conclusion here>.

:shrug:

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Still, despite overwhelming odds and widespread denial,
humans have been able to find happiness even in the midst of the most objectively horrifying circumstances, and there is every reason to expect that to continue even as ecological catastrophe unfolds.
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Terry in Austin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Nicely finished, sir!
:toast:

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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
18. You really knocked it out of the park with this thread. Bravo!
I'm gushing praise not only because you agree with my point of view on the relative dangers of nuclear power versus "business as usual" but also for the process you used to come to your conclusion. Well done!

To Terry_in_Austin: love your fill in the blank ending there. At times I've scrapped entire posts because, upon reread, they were so damned pessimistic or negative and I struggled but failed to come up with a suitably up-beat ending.

Anyway, I know in my heart that I'll have no regrets on my death bed for having been a proponent of nuclear power when I get to leave a living planet to my children and grandchildren, instead of a nightmare of devastating hurricanes, droughts, floods, vast deserts where grain once grew and entire states disappearing below the rising seas.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #18
25. GIGO
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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #25
32. Yep, deflecting how global warming fucks up planetary energy balance by invoking geoengineering.
Yup.
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