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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 36,982

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

I used to be an anti-nuclear activist, and a radical one at that.

When I first started posting on DU I was a little less radical, but still on the anti-nuclear side of the fence.

I thought renewable energy could save the world.

Alas that experiment has been done and the numbers are in. It's clear that aggressive renewable energy schemes in places like California, Denmark, and Germany have failed. They're not economically viable without substantial fossil fuel inputs, especially natural gas. No amount of hand waving about batteries, hydrogen, pumped hydro, or any other energy storage scheme changes that. It has to do with thermodynamics. Human laws and creative accounting can't change that.

California, for example, already has many gigawatts of solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage schemes. You can subtract fossil fuels out of California's energy mix and model any sort of renewable energy utopia you like. None of them look good, none of them scaled up can support eight billion people.

If we don't quit fossil fuels now billions of humans are going to suffer and die because of global warming.

It's not much better if we switch to fully "renewable" energy sources. Billions of people would suffer and die, mostly for lack of food, clean water, and adequate shelter.

We've worked ourselves into a corner. Eight billion humans are dependent on high density energy sources for food, shelter... our very survival. Most of that energy now comes from fossil fuels.

The only energy resource capable of displacing fossil fuels entirely, which we must do, is nuclear power.

Claiming that renewable energy will save the world is just another flavor of climate change denial.

Many of the arguments I hear from renewable energy enthusiasts remind me of the arguments I hear from Creationists. These arguments somehow make sense to the creationist, but they make no sense to anyone living outside their bubble.

If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

For many of the anti-nuclear activists I used to work with, some of them I'm still in occasional contact with, their activism was essentially a religious belief. Atomic bombs and atomic power were the apple in the garden of Eden that Satan was tempting mankind with.

It might not be coincidence that I first met Helen Caldicott when I was an impressionable (and slightly psychotic teen) in the community room of a Lutheran church. That's how I fell in with an anti-nuclear crowd. They could use a university library researcher and dumpster diver. I loved university libraries and dumpsters.

Like any otherwise sane human I abhor nuclear weapons. I remember as a kid the cold war nuclear drills, diving under our desks when the alarm went off with our butts facing the windows, ready to kiss our asses good-bye. I'm glad my children only knew the fire and earthquake drills. The earthquake drills were similar to the cold war drills, but you got to leave the classroom when the shaking stopped. When I was teaching we had a big earthquake, and we spent most of the rest of the day out on the playground until the buildings had been inspected for serious damage. That wouldn't have been the case if the USSR had dropped a bomb on us. My students and my children didn't worry about "The Bomb" as I had as a kid. There is some sanity in the world, all these years since Fat Man.

As I've said, I've changed my mind about nuclear power. In a world where toxic wastes of every kind imaginable, most with a half life of fucking FOREVER, I'm not going to worry about a little plutonium unaccounted for amidst the horrific death toll of a tsunami. I'm absolutely certain worse shit was spilled in the tsunami, carcinogens and mutagens of all sorts, but it was the kind of familiar shit we ignore in our daily lives.

"Those places" are selling something they don't have.

That, and their abusive practices is what makes them criminal.

So long as our society, in general, believes that punishment is an effective form of behavioral modification we are fucked. It isn't.

The way to deal with teenagers who believe they know everything and can support themselves is to provide them with reasonably safe opportunities to prove it.

Our society should provide opportunities like that for children whose parents can't manage it.

As a parent once you've gotten yourself into a power struggle with your teen you've lost. If you feel you have to hire someone to kidnap your teen in the middle of the night, you've lost big.

Two of my siblings ran away from home at sixteen with highly dramatic exits, which is a family tradition, going back centuries as I discern. Fuck you mom and dad, what do you know? All four of my grandparents were like that. But channels of communication always remained open.

Myself, I put my parents through a worse hell, no channels of communication open, leaving them to assume I was taking care of myself which wasn't true in any way. I was learning how to be a feral human dumpster diving for food some days. But I'd long trained my parents, since I was first a psychotic teenager, not to ask whenever I showed up on their doorstep battered and bloody.

What made all the difference was they accepted me, simple food and shelter at first, especially when I wasn't talking.

When I was 12 years old I knew fucking everything, all the secrets of humanity and the universe. With puberty my mind went completely sideways and I didn't gather most of it back together until I was 25 at least.

I think all we humans are the same to some greater of lesser extent.

This town burns coal when the wind isn't blowing, just like everyone else in Germany.

Or worse. Sometimes they burn food.

Building on the wind farm's success, the farming cooperative has diversified its business. In the face of falling crop prices and rising energy costs, they decided to build a biogas plant. That facility now turns maize and cereal silage - plus a mixture of pig and cow manure - into methane, which in turn heats and powers Feldheim's homes.


Feldheim's non-reliance on fossil fuels is largely an accounting trick. The energy their wind turbines put into the grid is considered equivalent to that they take out of it, which is not the case. Projects like this may reduce fossil fuel use to some extent but not enough to save the world.

But that's not why I call out these sorts of hopium.

( Hopium -- the metaphorical substance that causes people to believe in a false hope. )

For all such projects I ask what's the environmental footprint per person? What's the capital cost per person? Than I multiply that by 8 billion.

People who are wealthy generally have huge environmental footprints. Some of them feel guilty about it and do all sorts of strange things, often with government subsidy, to assuage their guilty feelings, while failing to reduce their environmental footprint in any significant way.

The answer to our environmental crisis can't be found in buying more stuff, especially if it's stuff made with copper, lithium, and rare earth magnets.

Sadly, the earth can't support a Tesla car, a PowerWall, Wind Turbines, and Solar Panels for every human. There's too many of us.

The answer isn't electric cars, the answer is fewer cars overall. Etc..

It's clear that the political and economic empowerment of women and rising standards of living reduce birth rates. How do we accomplish that?

A reliable electric supply and a safe water supply with indoor plumbing are a large part of that equation. These systems can be made from abundant materials -- steel, aluminum, concrete, and plastic -- materials abundant enough to raise living standards everywhere, for every human on earth.

Solar and wind power are not going to magically replace fossil fuels. The only way to quit fossil fuels is to quit fossil fuels. Feldheim hasn't done that and never will.

Germany sought to replace its coal and nuclear power plants with a hybrid gas-wind-solar system. They failed.

The fossil fuel industry knows that solar and wind power will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels, especially natural gas. In the long run solar and wind power will do nothing to reduce the overall amount of greenhouse gasses dumped into the atmosphere.

These articles are greenwash, which is why you see articles like this everywhere, even in publications that enthusiastically promote fossil fuel industry propaganda.

Imagine a politician running on a political platform of "NO NEW CARS..."

...and rebuilding our cities so that most people don't need them.

That wouldn't fly, not even here on DU.

What would all those auto workers do?

How many people here would like to see the population density of their suburban neighborhoods doubled or tripled? Streets closed, parking lots in-filled with attractive energy-efficient high-density apartments and condos, public transportation expanded, etc.?

What we learned from Chernobyl is that humans going about their ordinary business are worse for the natural environment than the very worst sort of nuclear accident. So we have to change our ordinary business. What we now call economic "productivity" is, in fact, a direct measure of the damage we are doing to the earth's natural environments and our own human spirit.

Unfortunately there are now about 8 billion of us. So-called "renewable" energy can't support our population. We've become dependent on high density energy resources, mostly fossil fuels, for our food, water, and shelter. And it's not the poor people who are most dependent on fossil fuels, it's the affluent people.

We've worked ourselves into a terrible corner. Without these high density energy resources half of us wouldn't survive. If we don't quit fossil fuels soon global warming is going to kill even more of us.

I used to be a "live within our means" anti-nuclear activist, and a fairly radical one at that. I'm not any more. Aggressive renewable energy schemes in places like California, Denmark, and Germany have failed. The experiment has been done. These schemes will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels, especially natural gas.

There's enough natural gas in the ground to destroy whatever is left of the natural environment as we know it. It's best we leave that gas in the ground, even that which supports our renewable energy fantasies.

I figure the U.S.A. could quit fossil fuels in fifteen years if we decided to do it with the same intensity we fought World War II. We have the resources and the technologies, including nuclear power, to do that.

First we have to recognize the problem.

Just before the U.S.A. entered World War II there were still many U.S. Americans who thought Hitler had some good ideas and Japan was too far away to worry about. That's where we are now.

I don't know what the wake-up call is going to be, but it's going to be horrible.

Gun fetishes are disgusting.

That's where I aim my wrath.

I've got absolutely nothing against the utilitarian uses of guns.

Hunting for food isn't any less ethical than buying meat at the grocery store so long as it's carefully regulated.

Trophy hunters are disgusting.

Wannabe warriors are disgusting.

I don't think most of our police have the skills or the temperament to use guns appropriately. I've seen them shoot people who weren't shooting back, and people who didn't even have guns.

Most gun fetishists vastly overestimate the value of guns for self defense. One of my great grandmas, who was a suburb hunter and outdoors person all around, would say things like, "If I wanted you dead I'd poison your coffee." She had ZERO tolerance for fools with guns, especially the incompetent city yokels who invaded her territory every hunting season with their ridiculously expensive gear seeking to prove their manliness. And this was before the modern idiocy of military style rifles and the like.

Gun fetishists need to crawl back to their closets. Most U.S.A. citizens don't care enough about guns to bother owning one, and support much stricter regulation of guns. It's a crime that violent and ignorant people, their brains damaged by lead and insecticides and television, enjoy more political representation than saner folk.

Oh, and the second amendment is bullshit. It's not like our Constitution wasn't full of bullshit when it was written, things like the 3/5 person compromise, that were meant to appease horrible white men who kept others as property -- as slaves, wage slaves, even their own wives and children.

I'm not going to stop mocking gun fetishists, nor will I compromise with them. They are wrong, just like racism is wrong, hatred of LGBTQ people is wrong, etc..

Most people in the U.S.A. can't be bothered to own a gun.

A certain number of people like hunters and ranchers use guns for utilitarian purposes. These kinds of guns last forever, since they are usually kept locked away unused.

That leave's "gun culture" as the only market for new guns -- people who already own multiple guns. A lot of the people who participate in that culture probably shouldn't own any guns and might not be given permits in places like Switzerland.

This huge market, driven entirely by gun culture, also makes it easy for mass murderers and violent criminals to obtain these weapons.

I thought this would be a thread mocking the UFO hearings so I didn't click on it. Too easy.

Most UFO theories tend to be lacking in imagination. Any beings able to travel between the stars, or even from the outer reaches of our own solar system, are not going to be zipping about in the equivalent of the Jetson family car.


I've personally had some "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," half of them I attribute to my own mental illness, which sometimes includes hallucinations mostly auditory but sometimes visual, especially when I'm not sleeping enough.

Sometimes I've seen stuff that is later explained. I once happened upon a very early pre-dawn test flight of a stealth fighter back when I was prone to running long distances and minor trespasses.

That first encounter registered in my head as another UFO until the aircraft was publicized. I had a few drone aircraft register as UFOs as well. Military things like this, before they were commonplace:


These things look like they are zipping around at incredible speeds if you misjudge the distance. When I saw them they were probably looking at me.

Meh, that's just Hunter. He's crazy and mostly harmless.

The true interstellar visitors don't need spaceships. They already permeate everything, shifting their awareness around according to their incomprehensible whims.

On the macro-scales of the three dimensional universe we live in, faster-than-light travel is simply impossible.

That's a good thing.

There are many other species out there just like us. They don't play well with others.

The speed of light and all the ways to die in space keep us very well quarantined.

There are plenty of disused cities throughout the U.S.A.

Maybe we could train an army of specialists to refurbish and modernize these cities with high speed internet, excellent public transportation, and carbon-free power sources.

Then we could offer them up for homestead, with free water and utilities for a year, no rent or mortgage for two, first dibs to the people actually doing the reconstruction.

Those who don't make the transition to self-sufficiency in two to five years would be offered more conventional publicly subsidized housing and other opportunities.

All the resources required to do this, money and manpower, could be diverted from our overheated military budget.

I don't think it would take a great fraction of those resources to nearly eliminate homelessness and wage slavery in the U.S.A., and it would also create a more welcoming environment for immigrants and refugees whom we need to prevent demographic senescence.

That probably sounds too much like communism to some people. It's actually an investment in our future.

Libertarians like to believe such progress can be accomplished by the "invisible hand of the free market," but it's not happening. Gentrification is not the same thing. For every "winner" in the gentrification game there are more losers -- mostly lower income people who are driven away by high rents and evictions.

Everything Elon Musk does makes me pessimistic about humanity's future.

He pretty much personifies the lucrative (for him anyways...) kind of false optimism that will destroy what's left of the natural world as we know it. I'm pretty sure he's an apartheid asshole as well.

If we believe wind turbines and solar panels and batteries and electric cars are going to "save the world," we are only deluding ourselves. These will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels, especially natural gas. In fact, an expansion of these technologies to more humans will only increase the environmental footprint of humanity at large.

Seeing wind turbines on hillsides or at sea, and acres of solar panels growing like cancers on previously undeveloped land, does not give me the warm fuzzies. And there's no way in hell this planet can sustainably support an automobile for every adult human, whether it's electric or not.

Human space exploration does not make me optimistic. I'm fairly certain natural humans won't ever have a significant presence in space beyond low earth orbit. We're just too damned fragile. There have been spectacular advances in computers and robotics since we last sent men to the moon so there's no good reason to send human explorers out into space any more -- it's a waste of resources and humans will only get in the way of actual science.

Robotics make me optimistic.

If we natural humans don't destroy our twenty first world civilization, then it will be our intellectual offspring who colonize this solar system; engineered beings who can safely walk naked on the surface of Mars, or fix a problem on the exterior of a spaceship wearing minimal protective clothing... like putting on a coat before going out into frosty weather, no space suit required. Breathing? What's that?

There are things that make me optimistic. The political and economic empowerment of women, easy access to birth control, and realistic sex education will halt human population growth in its tracks. That's a demonstrated fact.

It delights me every time I hear in ordinary conversation a woman talking about her wife, or a man about his husband.

Durable plastic pipe and sophisticated water treatment systems could bring clean water and indoor plumbing to everyone on earth. Modern treatment plants can turn sewage into irrigation water, or even back into tap water. The sewage that goes down the drain in my house irrigates crops, and some of it gets turned back into tap water. I don't have to feel guilty about my flush toilet. My shits not getting dumped directly into some river or contaminating the groundwater my neighbor drinks.

Vegan and vegetarian diets are becoming increasingly sophisticated, both in their own right and with the greater availability of products that mimic meat and dairy products. It won't be long now before the most popular and least expensive burger in your favorite fast food place is vegan, the same as the milk you pour on your breakfast cereal. Unless you want to pay extra for the "real thing" which, hopefully, won't be some animal tortured in a factory farm and processed by abused workers.

I think everyone in the world deserves a reliable, affordable, supply of electricity. The way to accomplish that is with nuclear power, which is an established seventy year old technology far less dangerous, kilowatt hour for kilowatt hour, than any fossil fuel. Unlike complicated "renewable" energy schemes, the components of a modern electrical grid are mostly made of iron, aluminum and concrete. These materials last a long time and iron and aluminum are easily recycled when they are no longer serviceable, in a way that the components of various "renewable energy" schemes are not, everything from wind turbine blades, electronic waste, and lithium batteries.

I think small modular nuclear reactors built in factories and shipped to places that need electric power have a very promising future. I like living in a nation that never abandoned this line of research so we won't be dependent on Russia or China for this technology when it becomes clear to the majority of us here in the U.S.A. that the fossil fuel industry must be shut down.

There's no point to being an "optimist" or a "pessimist" if you don't have any clear vision of a viable and sustainable future.

Personally, I seek to crush the optimism of anti-intellectual intolerant religions, climate change deniers, racists, homophobes, libertarian twits, etc.

It was fun to see this meaty post back at the top again.

I'm some kind of Luddite so my opposition to nuclear power was because it works, not because I fear any sort of nuclear wastes or accidents. Fossil fuel wastes and accidents are clearly worse in every measurable way.

Nobody freaks out when a gas explosion levels an entire hotel or neighborhood, the kinds of accidents that happen fairly frequently. But some people are still freaking out about Fukushima, an accident that was caused by a giant tsunami and not any ordinary negligence. The non-nuclear toxins spilled by the tsunami certainly had larger environmental impacts than the nuclear loss of cooling accident, and the death toll of the tsunami itself was unimaginably worse.

"Peak Oil" didn't make me fearful, it made me optimistic that we humans might be forced to live within our means. But that was proven wrong. It's now clear there's enough natural gas in the ground to destroy the natural world as we know it, yet people still think it's a relatively "clean" source of backup power for their renewable energy follies. They say it's "better than coal" and other such nonsense, which is like arguing about the best way to execute prisoners. We're all prisoners.

In recent years I began to think about how dependent we all are on high density energy sources. Even the poorest person living in a slum, someone who can't afford shoes let alone a bicycle, is dependent on high density energy sources for their food and probably their water too, no matter how wretched the quality of that food or water is.

For now most of that high density energy is supplied by fossil fuels. If we don't quit fossil fuels as soon as possible very bad things are going to happen, worse than are happening now.

Nuclear power is the only energy resource capable of displacing fossil fuels entirely.

Watching energy data almost obsessively, all of it readily available on the internet on sites such as CASIO, it's become clear to me that aggressive renewable energy schemes in places like California, Denmark, and Germany have failed, and they won't "save the world." At this assertion affluent renewable energy enthusiasts (who tend to be quite wealthy by world standards) will wave their arms and say something about batteries and other fanciful forms of storage that simply don't exist, and cannot exist, at the necessary scale. Nobody is going to give that guy who can't afford shoes or a bicycle a Tesla Powerwall. But maybe everyone can have safe shelter, clean water, and reliable electricity.

The other argument is that "Perfect is the enemy of good." The problem is hybrid gas/renewable energy systems are not good. If they are widely adopted around the world they will only prolong our dependence on natural gas and probably increase per capita environmental footprints and greenhouse gas emissions as well.

An electric power grid is made out of iron and aluminum. It doesn't require any exotic materials. The dreaded wastes of nuclear power plants, unlike fossil fuels, can be captured and contained indefinitely. There's no energy source capable of supporting all the world's cities and agricultural industries that has a smaller environmental footprint than nuclear power.
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