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"You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" 2017 continued.

This seems to be shaping up to be a future counterfactual in the grand tradition of soc.history.what-if (which only chewed over historical counter-factuals), but what the hell.

The story of 2017 ("Things can only get better!") continues below.

May Marine Le Pen invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, to take France out of the EU. (France also leaves the NATO single command structure at this time, but that's nothing new: they were out from 1967 to 1998). A run on the Euro ensues: the EU can survive one of France or the UK leaving, but not both. By the end of the month, Greece and Italy are threatening to leave as well. Monte Paschi Bank and Deutsche Bank experience runs due to loss of retail depositor confidence.

For no explicable reason (unless one imagines that President Trump is a sock puppet for the Kremlin) POTUS throws one of his now familiar tantrums and announces an end to nuclear weapons co-operation with the UK: there will be no more joint ownership of Boeing UGM-133 Trident 2 missiles with the Royal Navy. Theresa May, on the back foot, catches the Eurostar to Paris for an urgent summit on nuclear cooperation with Le Pen (it's a Hail Mary plan to buy French M51 missiles) to plug the gap in the UK nuclear deterrent), but Le Pen is inexplicably reluctant to sell SLBMs to the old enemy. On the way back, all the toilets break and her train is delayed inside the Channel Tunnel for 8 hours by a Border Agency exercise simulating post-EU border controls.

In Iraq, the Mosul Dam on the Tigris collapses due to poor maintenance and lack of grouting during the civil war; despite last minute attempts to relieve the dam by opening spillways, a wall of water 40 metres high washes downstream and destroys Mosul, then subsequently inundates downtown Baghdad, including the Green Zone. An estimated half million people are killed, and over 10% of the population of Iraq are rendered homeless. In the ensuing chaos, fighting between militias escalates and a second Iraqi civil war commences.

Also in May: the Trump regime issues a contract to compile a database of Muslim-Americans to a hastily-acquired Trump Organization subsidiary, and there are race riots in Marseilles, Paris, and Dearborn. The President spends four weeks of this month on vacation, tweeting angrily and threatening to sue news agencies for libel.

June Barclays Bank announces plan to move to Frankfurt. Bank of Scotland announces plan to move to Dublin. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces plan to move to Paris then cancels it 24 hours later and announces plan to relocate into low Mars orbit "to escape the contagion". Sterling continues to slide and dips below dollar parity for the first time ever, but maintains Euro parity because the Euro is also slipping. Speaker Paul Ryan proposes to address the economic malaise now affecting US exporters (due to the relatively strong dollar) by switching to the Gold Standard. Melania Trump books an 8 hour slot on QVC pushing sales of Trump-branded gold bricks. (Early purchasers complain that their gold bricks are actually a thin layer of gold plate over a lump of (much cheaper) tungsten: the Trump Organization sues them for libel.) The retail price inflation index in the UK rises to 9.5%. British economy officially in recession (although whether this is due to Brexit or the death of the Queen is unclear).

Rumors begin to circulate about the construction of concentration camps outside Paris.

The Russian army conducts its biggest peacetime exercise of the new century just outside the Estonian frontier, simulating a response to a NATO invasion through the Baltic republics. Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has only peaceful intentions and has no historic claim to Latvia. President Trump congratulates him and invites him to the opening of a (non-existent) hotel in Talinn.

Boris Johnson announces the British response to this naked aggression against a NATO member: the UK will send two Eurofighter Typhoons, a destroyer, and an infantry platoon. He then plagiarizes a speech by Winston Churchill, is called on it during a live Sky News interview, and resigns in a temper tantrum.

Donald Trump spends only 3 weeks on vacation in June: his plan to visit Fife for a round of golf is cancelled when Police Scotland say that securing the approaches against Mexican marching bands and mooning Glaswegians is impossible.

Race riots break out in multiple US cities. Race riots break out in multiple French cities: state of emergency declared.

Britain is not facing race riots or war at this time, but has a different crisis: the King has announced that it is vital for national food security during the time ahead that everyone adopt an organic vegan diet, and raising the top marginal rate of income tax to 96% (as it was during the second world war). The Daily Mail and Daily Express, for the past 20 years pro-royal family, begin running headlines about "Loony Lords" and "Charlie Chuckles", and editorials with titles like "Nigel Farage for President?"

The banking crisis in Italy accelerates. Monte Paschi is effectively bankrupt, and despite government denials contagion takes down several other Italian lending institutions and spreads to German institutions that acted as guarantors for short-term loans.

Finally, on June 30th, just as Russian tanks roll across the Estonian border, Deutsche Bank files for bankruptcy.

July Despite the invasion of a NATO member nation by Russia, Donald Trump announces his intention of taking the first week of July as a vacation. Finally losing patience, VPOTUS Pence invokes Section 4 of the 25th amendment and seizes power. He institutes an immediate cabinet reshuffle and it is noted that all the new faces are hardline dominionist Christians. Quietly and without any fuss Ruth Bader Ginsberg has had a stroke: Pence indicates that her replacement will be a pro-life fundamentalist Christian. (Goodbye Roe v. Wade and, quite possibly, Griswold v. Connecticut.) A bill to revive the Comstock Laws is introduced simultaneously in the Senate and House, but nobody is paying any attention because ...

Following a tense 48 hour period of negotiation, Pence announces to the world that he has reached a consensus with the Russian government and the tanks will be removed by the end of the week. This doesn't happen, but by the end of the week the media news cycle has moved on, because ...

Sterling has dropped to 80% of dollar parity and the Euro has dropped below dollar parity for the first time since 2003 as the liquidity crisis originating in the European banking sector spreads to China. The ECB and Bank of England attempt quantitative easing prematurely, to no avail. Gold spikes to $4000 per ounce; the spot price of oil triples.

A challenge to the May government's process on Brexit is heard by the European Court, which rules that Article 50 was triggered when the referendum result was announced, not by the government declaration nine months later; the UK is already halfway out of the EU, with no transitional deal under consideration much less agreed. A challenge to the Brexit referendum is heard by the UK Supreme Court which rules that Brexit violates international treaty law in the shape of the Good Friday Agreement. An entity identifying itself as the Cyberspace Irish Republican Army announces that if Brexit results in violations of the GFA or in checkpoints along the Irish/NI (EU/non-EU) border, they will resume the armed struggle "by any means available". The most ferocious distributed denial of service attack ever is then launched against UK government websites—now the only supported way for citizens to access government services—by over five million internet-connected lightbulbs worldwide and every smart meter owned by British Gas (they've been pwned). Public sources attribute the attack to Russian hackers, but the possibility that the CyIRA is a real grass-roots organization using zero-day tools provided by state level actors has to be considered. (Hacking tools are much easier to smuggle across borders than AK-47s and Semtex.)

The Campi Flegrei super-volcano caldera, which has been showing increasing activity for years, burps: Monte Nuovo begins to emit smoke, and the ground level rises 50cm.

August Begins with the 2017 global financial crisis in full swing, NATO in disarray, a Russian army group parked in eastern Estonia, and a super-volcano rumbling ominously in Italy. Then everything gets worse.

In the UK, HSBC, over-exposed both in the UK and the far east, declares bankruptcy. HSBC is the world's sixth largest bank and the largest bank in the UK sector; with equity of over $530Bn the collapse is on a similar scale to that of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The Pence administration executes a 180-degree foreign policy turn on Russia with respect to the Trump administration. US military advisors are dispatched to Syria to back the rebels instead of bombing them. A Patriot missile battery scores its first kill against a Russian bomber over Syria; protestations that the missile crew thought it was a Syrian air force plane are ignored, and "Syrian" air strikes against the US missile batteries in theater prove alarmingly effective. (The "Syrian" air force apparently now operates state-of-the-art Russian planes, and the 30 year old US SAM batteries are showing their age.)

Pence is reported as having made an after-dinner speech, before an approving audience of fellow Dominionists, in which he announced that the Kingdom of Christ is at hand and that the US Army will triumph over Da'esh within 30 days "at a place called Armageddon".

The following day, Air France flight 007, the daily Airbus 380 super-jumbo service from Paris to New York's JFK airport, deviates from its approach path two minutes before landing and explodes in mid-air over Manhattan. There were 492 passengers and crew on board, and another 38 people are killed on the ground, making it the worst air disaster in history ... until the claims of responsibility begin to trickle in from, variously, Da'esh, the Estonian Resistance, and 4chan.

Merely dealing with an aviation disaster over Manhattan is bad enough, but two days later rescuers and commuters who were under the area of the explosion begin to come down with a mystery respiratory ailment. 24 hours later the first deaths from weaponized anthrax are reported. Wall Street is closed; downtown Manhattan is cordoned off, causing chaos: USAMRIID and the CDC are called in: the White House announces that they are dealing with a terrorist biological warfare attack on the scale of 9/11, and declares that "Middle-Eastern Islamic Terrorists" are responsible. Suggestions that the disease vector strongly resembles an Anthrax strain weaponized at Biopreparat are ignored by the media: Ken Alibek is unavailable for comment, having been found dead in his apartment. (A later autopsy will reveal the presence of a tiny bead containing a cocktail of conotoxins and Irukandji venom). Curiously, web sites promoting the theory that AF007 was blown up by the GRU as a false flag operation to induce a US invasion of Syria come under heavy attack by the CyIRA, and their owners are doxxed by wikileaks.

A second Russian army is poised on the Latvian border. Finland mobilizes the army reserves. The Polish government declares a state of emergency, and calls for Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to be activated. France declines, citing secession from NATO. The US State Department, facing an angry Chinese carrier battle group in the Taiwan Straits (a legacy of former POTUS Trump's mishandling of Sino-American relations) and a likely war in the Middle East, is over-committed and opts for negotiation rather than ultimatum.

Then, at the end of August, just as Germany heads into its federal elections, Angela Merkel loses a vote of confidence in the Bundestag over her handling of the Baltic crisis and the simultaneous global financial crisis and has a stroke.

And the Euro collapses.

September The UK's retail price index shows inflation hitting 12.5%. If the current rate of increase is extrapolated, Sterling will be experiencing Weimar levels of hyperinflation within 15 months. In an attempt to reassure the markets the Chancellor of the Exchecquer announces that there will be no quantitative easing. A liquidity crisis ensues and what's left of British industry grinds to a shuddering halt as no banks are lending and no businesses can operate without credit.

A panicky interim manager parachuted in from Serco, who have been awarded site operating responsibility on an emergency basis due to the sudden bankruptcy of the previous contractor, takes one look at the accounts for Windscale and orders the immediate closure and laying off of staff for some of the storage units on site, notably the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond. An anomalously warm summer has led to algae overgrowth on the pond and loss of water through evaporation, and without monitoring, the buildup of radioactive sludge becomes critical—literally. Greenpeace estimates that the pond contains 1300Kg of dissolved plutonium: this is discovered to be a regrettable low-balling when the unattended and badly eroded concrete pond comes to a rolling boil and begins to spew fallout across the Irish Sea. Initial attempts at denial only make matters worse, and by the time (a week later) the British government admits to what's going on, the radioactive discharge exceeds the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daichii and is second in degree only to the Chernobyl disaster.

This is not the only radiological disaster of the month. Chaos and confusion arising from the global financial meltdown—gold has now hit $8000/ounce, but the proliferation of fake gold bricks has resulted in many people refusing to accept it—is leading to industrial accidents. Airliners across the USA and EU remain grounded in the wake of the AF007 attack as operators work to add biowarfare safety to their security screening protocols: international supply chains are beginning to shut down as container ships reach their destinations and nobody will pay for their cargo or fuel. In the UK there are reports of food riots in Newcastle, Liverpool, and the West Midlands: things are much worse elsewhere. Optimists with flush Bitcoin wallets—BtC is trading around $16,000 or £22,500—are keeping quiet: there are reports of organized gangs hunting down BtC traders and murdering them for the contents of their laptops.

The Greek government defaults on its Euro debt, nationalizes its banking industry, and issues an interim New Drachma—plans have apparently been in place for over a year, and the transition goes relatively smoothly, in contrast to the proposed French transition to the New Franc, which leads to anti-FN demonstrations on a scale of millions and a march on the Elysee Palace that results in 14 deaths and hundreds of injuries when troops open fire on the crowd.

USAF and Army units begin to deploy to Syria, but are hampered when Monte Nuovo begins to erupt continuously, blasting a cloud of volcanic ash into the skies that drifts north into the great circle route from the eastern US seaboard to Syria.

Quietly, and without any great fuss, the Chinese People's Liberation Army crosses the border into North Korea and brings food and (relative) freedom to the DPRK. There's no significant opposition; King Jong-Un has spent the past two years purging any conceivable internal opponents then lost his nerve and fled to a six-star hotel suite in Dubai.

Power brown-outs begin to affect the UK as autumn closes in and the price of Norwegian and Russian natural gas rises beyond the ability of cash-flow-kneecapped operators to pay. There are widespread fuel shortages at the pumps and the government announces plans to bring in petrol and diesel rationing.

The Russian army remains poised on the Latvian frontier, and the troops on Estonian national soil do not start the anticipated drive west on Talinn. President Putin has not been seen for some time and rumors are circulating about heated arguments in the Kremlin. PRIVATE EYE runs a cover cartoon showing Putin yelling at Alexander Dugin: "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

(TO BE CONTINUED) ...

388 Comments

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1:

“… a wall of water 40 metres high washes downstream and destroys Aleppo …” I mean I wouldn't put anything past 2017 after this year, but presuming that's Mosul?

2:

It's not all doom and gloom, at least we get some nice weather!

3:

Governments declare all cash illegal, blockchain only currency so they can ration and track everything and evryone

4:

I'm delighted to see that in this future we still have Private Eye. Maybe nothing else, but we have humour.

Anything on the decreasing electricity generation of the UK as well?

5:

French transition to the New Franc
That would technically be the "new new Franc"; the currency issued following the post WW2 revaluation was then known as the "new Franc".

Otherwise still processing.

6:

One consequence of all this economic collapse will be to the demand for oil. The Russian oligarchs won't like that at all, so Putin's prospects from this sort of policy outcome are terrible.

Which is a reason a manchurian candidate is a great idea; you can avoid demand collapse under the guise of realpolitik while reducing actual conflict on a world-economic scale. If the result is to give a lot of stupid people unchecked power, on the other hand, "demand collapse" is getting off lightly.

7:

Gold plated tungsten bricks - the american answer to gilts.

8:

One consequence of all this economic collapse will be to the demand for oil. The Russian oligarchs won't like that at all,

Yep, hence the ending on the Italian Job reference. (Seriously, go click that YouTube link if you haven't already seen it. Michael Cain's finest line ever.)

9:

Missed opportunity for drama: 25th Amendment removal of a sitting President is a more drawn-out process than that, if the President being removed doesn't actually want to go (and is conscious enough to say so). If the President contests removal, Congress convenes to adjudicate the matter, and a two thirds majority of both House and Senate is required to finally get rid of him. If you do the math, that means that about a hundred Republican House members would have to vote to dismiss Trump. The Republican base being what it is, they'd at least endanger their future in elective office with that vote, and a lot of them would have to worry about armed lone nuts within their districts.

Just in terms of pure vote count, impeachment would actually be easier; that just requires a simple majority in the House (though House leadership would still have to permit the vote!)

10:

Dude! I think you need to take MORE medication. How about a more optimistic look from the other side of the pond for 2017.

1. Disgusted by the betrayal against them by both the Republican and Democratic Party establishments, most United States citizens become more politically involved than ever before, and urban Liberals start forging common ground with rural conservatives. The older generation of US citizens recall their hatred and fear of Russia all too well, and Trump and Pence make history by being the first President and VP to be impeached simultaneously in their first term of office.

Possibly even by their own party.

Either that, or some butt-hurt gun nut blows their brains out after banks being 'regulated' by Trump's Treasury under Mninchen takes his house away from him, but neglects to notice the massive gun collection.

The pendulum of politics and social discourse in the United States swings back in the direction of the New Deal, and the new president is a progressive Democrat thanks to the Democratic party un-sticking their heads from their asses, and waging a grass roots campaign led by progressives that throws out the cozy billionaire relationship defined by the conservative Clinton Democrats and Reagan Republicsns.

As a consequence, another history making election has the Democrats taking over both the House and the Senate in the mid-terms.

Over the long term, racists and homophobes become less and less of a factor in US elections, as the demographics driving those forces start succumbing to old age.

2. The majority of French and British citizens are similarly horrified by the monsters they created when they hit the switch and ran a billion volts of populist anger the mostly diseased corpses of racial hatred and fascist ideology. Fortunately, just as in the United States, the majority of citizens can start yelling at their MPs that they made a horrible mistake, and they'd build internment camps for people of the wrong color of their rotting corpses.

Protests and mobilizations by the majority of citizens in both countries paralyze the lunatics in oceans of red tape and no confidence votes. Additionally, a professional military establishment in all three countries that's become very serious on the subject of 'illegal orders' and 'damn stupid ideas' and refuse to let the leadership of any of those three countries do anything dumb with the nukes.

3. China, India, Germany, and the other 'big dogs' of the financial and trade world recognize that the US is well on it's way to decline. While Trump and the wing-dings in the far Right of US politics fumble around like a keystone cops routine, they form a loose coalition that holds the world economy together through the frantic thrashing around of the US, France, and the UK.

It's not ideal, as neither India nor China are any great paragons of freedom and equality, but they hold the global markets together, and while the US goes into a minor meltdown, the banking system there starts self-regulating with surprising effectiveness after a few banking executives are dragged from their offices by an enraged militia from Michigan, and lynched in front of the Wall Street bull.

4. Putin dies happy and in scandal at a drug fueled orgy put on for him by one of his billionaire gangster pals. In disarray, the kleptocrats of Russia end up pulling some support from Syria. Sadly, even after Syria's Russian backed government leadership are pulled from their homes and hacked to pieces by rebels, the whole region remains a mess.

Not that it matters, as the entire intelligence community of the West has been lashing out at Russia due to their embarrassing failures in stopping Russian hackers from screwing with their elections.

5. Recognizing their role in putting Trump into office, and rather butt-hurt about it at that, the leaders of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and such recognize their role in propagating fake news, and isolating people from different points of view. A handful of clever tech entrepreneurs create news aggregators that filter news via algorithm in much the same way that SPAM filters do.

One of those sites (probably a revamped Google News, but maybe Duck Duck Go or some other smaller player) becomes dominant, and fake news and clickbait become the same kind of joke that only the dumbest of Internet users fall for. No more relevant than African princes in need of moving millions of dollars.

Political discourse across the Internet starts becoming more sane and nuanced, and sites that reflect extreme political viewpoints without ethical reportage or fact checking end up binned at the bottom of most news feeds.

11:

Note that the year isn't over yet!

12:

Oh, one other missing flash point: China, Taiwan, and the South China Sea. Trump's phone call with the Chinese government hasn't had any lasting consequences yet -- because he's not in power yet. But even Chinese doves are saying, on the record to western reporters at the New York Times, that if he keeps having direct contact with the Taiwanese government after taking office, they should break off diplomatic relations. You can imagine what the hawks are saying. (And so far, at least, the Republican establishment, such as it is, is no brake on him; Bob Dole, former Presidential candidate and long-time leader in the Senate, personally helped arrange the call.)

It would be nice to think that the prospect of actual war with China would motivate Congress to dump Trump -- but the prospect of war, even under dubious or false pretenses, tends to make people rally 'round the flag at least as often...

13:

Nah. MacLeod did this better in the Fall Revolution series. This book proposal won't fly, it's not out-there enough, to derivative.

Now if Putin were to turn out to be Trump's love-child ... Maybe. File under failure of imagination.

Scary thought of the day: When did the Fall Revolution series come to look like fact-based, near-term thrillers?

14:

"Trump's phone call with the *Taiwanese* government." Yowch!

15:

the EU can survive one of France or the UK leaving, but not both...
Or Italy, or Greece, for that matter.
[ Not that le Pen is going to get elected, though...]

and her train is delayed inside the Channel Tunnel for 8 hours by a Border Agency exercise simulating post-EU border controls.
SNARK
Precisely - why leaving the EU is a bad idea.

Barclays Bank announces plan to move to Frankfurt. Bank of Scotland announces plan to move to Dublin. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces ...
Just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, try again.

Death of Queen... also wrong ....

VPOTUS Pence invokes Section 4 of the 25th amendment and seizes power....
Yeah, that is all too likely.

And the Euro collapses. All too likely, anyway - with or without volcanoes!


16:

Le Pen is inexplicably reluctant to sell SLBMs to the old enemy.

Also, of course, if Trump does block nuclear co-operation with the UK because his friend Vlad asked him to, then Le Pen (who is quite open about getting funding from Moscow) is likely to have had the same memo from Putin.

So you wind up with a world where the only nuclear weapons that aren't controlled by Putin or his ... shall we go with "affiliates"? ... are in South-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Israel. At least there aren't any potential flashpoints in any of those places[/sarcasm]. [shivers]

17:


An intresting imagination of what if literally almost everything goes completely wrong, though pretty unlikely. I think that some of that above in reality if it should happen would take much longer to occur than weeks or months. Though with trump being an unknown quantity and brexit *really* being an unknown quanitity .... it's possible some of that might happen.

random thought: the BBC have had their own annual programme in which they try to look ahead in the next year called "Correspondents Look Ahead".

Last year their two main predictions were completely wrong - hilary would be president and the UK stays in the EU.

This year the predictions seemed to be a little on the "flat" side.BTW The programme itself by now is on the iplayer.

SP

18:

I figure the worst possible outcome is for Trump to have a non-fatal stroke with an ambiguous prognosis on January 18th.

Pence _should_ be sworn in as President, but no one wants to say so. A general collapse of legitimacy for the USG follows.

19:

OMG. Small correction: There's no need for MlP to declare a state of emergency, as France is already in one.
Oh, and what happens in Turkey and Israel?

20:

Minor nitpick: France cannot declare a state of emergency. It is already in a state of emergency since 13 November 2015. Which has been extended again, and again, and again. I doubt they will return to normal operations any time soon.

21:

You! Stross! Your fiction comes true much too often. Write us a happy future or the llama gets it!

22:

France can only manage one state of emergency at a time? That's why they're a waning power. The United States is up around thirty...

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/22/president-obama-states-of-emergency/16851775/

23:

I can't quite decide if this is heading for "We Will All Go Together When We Go" or just that we'll all wish it would.

24:

Awesome! An old tune popped up. Can't believe the song is over 30 years old. Getting old here! It's all so depressing. Best wishes to all 4 2017.

25:

Race riots break out in multiple US cities. Race riots break out in multiple French cities: state of emergency declared.

I am sorry to say that in our reality, the state of Emergency has been in force in France for over a year. It has been renewed 5 times, and France has invoked her right to suspend fundamental liberties under emergency provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights. This took place under a nominally left-of-centre government.

Incidentally, is everybody aware of The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia?

26:

You are about the fourth person to note that here. Kindly read the other comments?

Yes, I blogged at length about Dugin's book and its significance back in mid-November.

27:

I keep thinking of "Whoops! Apocalypse"...

No, you can't bring the f***ing tiger, Donald...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnpKqFWsbSk

28:

I am waiting for our PM to explain our self inflicted economic woes on pixies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBHHFnUqo5o

29:

FFS. You could at least get "film at eleven" right.

30:

"Cameramen on strike. Slides at eleven."

31:

Do not feed the troll (with multiple sock-puppets, who I am currently playing whack-a-mole with), m'kay?

32:

OK, but can I tell cptbutton that slides are still film? '-)

33:

Which leads me to ask - is this post getting unusual amounts of troll attention, or is it just that I normally don't see it? (The former having potentially more interesting implications than the latter, obviously.)

34:

More likely to be "Artists impression at 11".

Ex-broadcast engineer pedantic note: Most TV stations would have a 16mm film processing rig in the basement for news footage, 35mm film would have to wait for Boots to process it...

35:

Curtis Mayfield: If there's Hell below, then we're all gonna go

36:

Happy New Year!

Proving that the Mogwai do have some redeemable features, here's an amusing recap of 2016 from their angle:

Would you play a modern dystopian setting meets fantasy magic game if this was the fluff? Imgur link (as tradition), SFW for all Minds, nothing shocking.

(For Greg et al: "dubs" is the last digits of a post. Since they're (allegedly) governed by a RNG, if you get dubs / trips etc, this means (now) that "Meme Magic" has been engaged from the non-linear chaotic dynamic system. Yes: 4chan actually worship Chaos; deal with it).


The funny thing is...

It's almost Truthfully Correct.

37:

Sorry to double so early: We might be that "snek waifu", but we're definitely "woke".
Note to Americans: No, despite your propaganda, that term wasn't invented by BLM etc, nor is it a ethnically "owned" syntax.

While MW does allow for the now modern usage:

Woke’s transformation into a byword of social awareness likely started in 2008, with the release of Erykah Badu’s song “Master Teacher”

The new sense of 'woke' is gaining popularity Merriam-Webster, April 2016

There's a much much longer heritage to its' usage.

~

If you want to get into semantics, you're going to have to start looking at weccan and Christian conversion in Anglo-Saxon / Danish Britain, for example.

Middle English: state of wakefulness, vigil (late Middle English: vigil over a dead body), probably continuing Old English *wacu (found only in nihtwacu night-watch)

And we all know the Spiritual side of all-night-long Vigils, don't we? Way to being a True Christian Knight and all that.


Ironic, given the Britons were the then ethnically disadvantaged sub-group, eh?


p.s.

Went on a binge: apparently Robin Hood only occurs because Norman Royalty made the Royal Forests from land taken from the ex-Saxon aristocracy as a huge penalty / power-grab type deal. Still have to check that one out - it's being floated around various places.

38:

A minor note, US cabinet members are nominated by the president but are confirmed by the Senate. So while a hypothetical president Pence could fire the entire cabinet he'd have to get the replacements through the Senate committees and then to a floor vote - and without a new vice-president only two Republican would need to defect to block the nomination. Since such a move would be a blatantly obvious purge without precedent (e.g. Ford kept Nixon's cabinet) and would require both a lot of political capital in the aftermath of removing Trump and a fair amount of time to effect I would not assume a crazed Dominionist Pence cabinet before the end of 2017. I most especially don't see a SecDef Mattis being arbitrarily fired in the middle of a crisis with Russia without generating a shit ton of controversy.

39:

Triptych because we have to:

The irony is that BLM / Campaigners would gain far better traction into their opponents if they not only acknowledged the lineage of the etymology they were using, but showed that they were sharing a similar type cultural concern. It's not as if African-American culture isn't massively Christian as it is (highest % Evangelical / Happy-Clappy stuff) by ethnicity.

But no... American "Lefties" have to go with: "Only African-Americans can use "woke" because we don't understand their plight" because... Oh, right. Zombieland.


And that is why you failed.

~

If you want to win, grab that 2,000 year old history, start using the memes: Robb'n Da Hood is a comedy sketch waiting to happen[1]. If you only allow Disney cartoons to do it, you're gonna have a bad time.


[1] You can segue into Native issues at the same time for a shared laugh and bonding experience. "Who the fuck knew that White People's myths are based on what they suffered and ended up doing to everyone else? That's some fucked up Daddy issues right there"

40:

I'm Praying to the Aliens ! Gary Numan said that, a long time ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JfEWCckF-A

This is an SF website, isn't it ?

41:

Went on a binge: apparently Robin Hood only occurs because Norman Royalty made the Royal Forests from land taken from the ex-Saxon aristocracy as a huge penalty / power-grab type deal.

Colour me unconvinced; there's no trace of Robin Hood until the 14th Century, which is a bit late for him to be a complaint about events 300 years earlier.

There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in the legends, though, and it could plausibly be true of some things we (now) consider related. Friar Tuck, for example, actually predates Robin by a considerable time (and that story potentially gets complicated by the question of earlier tales of wandering monks, before the Franciscans arrived, so before he could have been a Friar...). I don't think Tuck is old enough to be a complaint about Willy the Conk nicking everyone's forests, but without access to primary sources I couldn't say for certain.

42:

...Night Sessions anyone?

Жаль только жить в эту пору прекрасную уж не придется ни мне, ни тебе.

43:

Your point on brownouts and rolling power cuts is consistent with Britain importing about 40% of our energy, and being less able to purchase this with a devalued currency.

This 40% includes the five or six percent of our energy imported in the form of electricity from France, which might still be available if the Euro slides downwards as fast as Sterling.

Assuming, of course, that the French don't just pull the plug...

...And that's an interesting point to ponder, because a lot of Britain's infrastructure is in foreign ownership. Why wouldn't they just pull their 'plug', too?

44:

How about this alternate future ... Charlie's version with a few twists ...


May --- Fearing a collapse of its banking system, MLP through family connections hires blackhats to bring down their exchange – no money in, no money out – this buys MLP some time to negotiate a loan with China. Currently Italy is France’s largest debt-holder, but relations haven’t been smooth lately, and MLP doesn’t trust Trump or Putin to beg for cash.

Meanwhile, seeing money to be made in small-scale nuke-powered household heating, POTUS announces an end to the nuclear weapons program … period … and all nuclear materials currently owned by the US must be sold off at penny-on-the-dollar rates to his new anti-nuke not-for-profit-(yet) foundation whose CEO happens to be his son-in-law.

In Iraq, the Mosul Dam on the Tigris collapses due to poor maintenance and lack of grouting during the civil war… this is a good thing because the gov’t had been trying to get voters to agree to a massive urban renewal program which got rejected due to very high demolition costs. Because property insurance policies as well as social assistance programs in Iran do not cover ‘acts of God’ - which despite maintenance records is what the gov’t insists happened – there is no financial help offered to any former residents/property owners. A new city plan complete with to-scale intricately carved models is unveiled one week following what is now called ‘The Deluge’.

In May the vacationing Trump tweets angrily that he’ll stop banking/hiding his money in the BVI from now on if he ever has to fill out an entry form when mooring his boat in the BVIs.

June --- Barclays Bank moves all of its operations to the BVI, stating that this brings them to much better proximity to Panama which has become the new global banking center. Plus, the taxes are lower. When the Trump ‘Goldbrick’ hits the market, Russia which had been stockpiling gold for decades, offers Americans a 5% discounts on its gold for every Trump Goldbrick they swap for a Russ-brick. Price war ensues, and is won by Russia thanks to deeper pockets/gold reserves.

Rumors begin to circulate about the construction of concentration camps outside Paris … however as most French construction trades normally take the entire summer off, no one takes these camps seriously.

Britain – food scarcity is a real threat … the King requests that the BBC re-air its Wartime Farm documentary series and that the WW2 WarAg pamphlets be updated and distributed. ‘This saw us through our war against the Gerries, and will see us through again.’ Upon hearing that virtually all arable land – including golf courses - will be seized by the Crown for agriculture, Trump has a hissy fit and threatens to nuke Parliament. The Scottish gov’t stays hush because … well, just because … they’re Scots after all and have no liking for either dobber. The 'Go Vegan' campaign which market-tested so well outside London failed miserably when HoL members dining at their favorite restaurants learned that going Vegan would result in their favorite eateries having to also change their menus and quite likely lose their Michelin stars. Following the failure of King Charles' Go Vegan campaign, The Daily Mail and Daily Express launched a grass-roots petition to put Prince William on the throne.

Italy’s banks go ‘pooff!’ and in an attempt to stem the stampede, the gov’t calls in its debts … starting with France, The Netherlands. The French are on holidays and don’t pick up the phone, the Dutch haggle and get a really deep discount. (The Dutch then generously turn around and offer to loan Italy the same money but at three times the going rate … Italy accepts.) Pope Francis hearing of this responds that usury is a sin … and that the Vatican can shave a few points off the Dutch rate.

Deutsche Bank files for bankruptcy … however this is stopped or rather goes nowhere because everyone is too busy watching Trump implode to notice. Under cover of the Trumpmania, the board of Deutch Bank governors fly off in a chartered jet to sunny Panama.

July --- Pence seizes the Oval Office and despite his best attempts, his Cabinet never gels … none of the fundies gets along with or listens to any other of the fundies. In despair and after about a month or so, Pence hires an temp agency to fill his Cabinet by week’s end. The Pentagon persuades Pence that because of their exposure to a deluge of fake-news throughout 2016, all new Cabinet appointees should be sent to a military neuro-surgical specialist to have their most recent memories purged so as to enable them to learn and retain actual data re: what Russia, the US and some other nations have actually been doing. Clinical trial data presented but Pence never had much use for science or stats before so doesn’t bother to read anything ... like say that the erased brains have certain quirks.


Sterling has dropped to 80% of dollar parity and the Euro has dropped below dollar parity … US and Chinese culture-vultures arrive in droves in the UK and Europe and start to buy up properties and art at a fast pace. Major museum directors are warned by their respective gov’ts that any missing inventory will be cause for immediate dismissal and possibly jail time.

August -- The Old World is in a financial mess, old allies are deserting, an old foe is at the gates and the elder gods are stirring. This would be a good time to try something different … starting with getting rid of the ‘leadership’, old thinking and old money. Time for digital currency and digital government ... but old religion says 'NO!'


SARS, MERS, EBOLA and ZIKA researchers are called in to code/decipher and develop treatment for the novel neurotoxins and other bioweapons found following the NYC ‘Sky-ageddon’. Increasing numbers of New Yorkers are calling for the closure of the city’s airports and making NYC a no-fly zone. Trump okays this provided all three airports remain open for AirForceOne ‘cause y’know, he visits NYC every week to see his wife and son. (AF1 flight crew’s code name for Trump is Tweetie-One. Upon learning this, the Pentagon/NSA/CIA etc. renamed Putin ‘Puddy-Tzat’.

Pence speaks before fellow Dominionists at a dinner at Arizona’s Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) and introduces (Anthony) Giddens* a noted British sociologist as guest speaker. Mis-hearing this, tabloids erroneously reported this event as Pence’s promised Armageddon. (*See: The theory of structuration)

End of August --- Germany’s Angela Merkel after losing a vote of confidence suffers a stroke, as does the Euro. Fortunately for Merkel, a new stroke drug (NoNO Inc.) had been recently approved for clinical trials in the EU so she was immediately put on it and is expected to have a full recovery. (Dr. Michael Tymianski and Dr. Michael Salter, founders NoNO Inc. ... this is real.) The Euro however does not look to be as fortunate.

September --- Hyperinflation threatens the UK, Greece, Spain and increasingly Italy and Germany. Quantitative easing is off the table as the public has become increasingly hostile toward financial institutions, perceiving them as the prime cause of their current crisis. Gold hits record levels but as more evidence points to Russia having effective control of gold worldwide, governments are being pressed by their populations to find an alternative. On a related note, because of confirmed Russian meddling in the US election, digital currency in its current form (i.e., lack of gov't protections and oversight, murders of BitCoin holders) is also off the table.

China takes over NK just minutes after Jong-Un’s plane takes off. This event is reported by NA news media as the 'Fall of Hanoi, Part Two'.

October --- Putin celebrates his 65th birthday and is now one of the oldest males in Russia. In his televised birthday address, he vows that going forward all Russian men can live to be 65. Male Kremlin staff from recently annexed Estonia realize this means they can expect to live 11 years less.


45:

Edward Longshanks was named Edward because of a resurgence of Saxonicity in the identity of English kings; this is also the dominant period for archer armies and there's considerable primary evidence that can be interpreted as shipping bandit archers off to France being the primary social use of the 100 Year's War.

So, no, not a direct memory of Bastard William but a reflection of real social tensions of the period. All three Edwards had high taxes to support their various wars.

46:

Given that Romulus and Remus lasted a good 800 years or so, you'll colour me less than surprised.

The comment was about resurrecting old angst and tarting it up in a gaudy paint of colours.

*Side Eyes to the Trump*

47:

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Turnbull government continues on the way it's been going for the past year or so[1]. Which just proves the disaster keeps on keeping on no matter where you are in the English-speaking world!

[1] For non-Australians: the Turnbull government has been marked by a level of fiscal incompetence previously un-reached by Australian governments to date, combined with a determination to redress this by attacking the least powerful in society.

(For details, google "Centrelink data-matching debts")

48:

Oh, and since no-one picked up on it last time:

Let's mention Brut again. Kinda a mainstay of Anglo-Saxon Law...

Frið and Fredom: Royal Forests and the English Jurisprudence of Laȝmon's Brut and Its Readers California State University, Feb 2015

~Might need a log-in for that, will try and source the legal PDF when not wasted.


And, look.

If you're going to pull the "it's only a tale", at least source properly:

The Boke of Saint Albans is the earliest English printed treatise on hunting. It was first issued at St. Albans in 1486.

The royal forests of EnglandCharles Cox, 1720

Which, unsurprisingly, ties into the entire Robin Hood myth. Piers Plowman is a 100 years earlier, but this was a zeitgeist repackaging.

Marketing / Fashion - not a modern invention.

~


So no: go back to the actual events and then trace the mythology. Saxons losing their ancestral lands to forests is a big deal. (Note: State Land in the USA etc. PoKE POLKEKE POKEKEE)

49:

Apparently there's some renewed interest in establishing the bancor ... never heard of it before apart from what's in Wikipedia and wondering whether it's been used in any SF.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bancor

Happy New Year to all!

50:

I thought that was the monster under Jabba's palace. The one Luke killed and broke the beastmaster's heart, the bastard.

51:

*BOOM TUSH*

People still not getting the sub-context of Star Wars that was put in without G. Lucas esq. realizing it (and thus editing it out in future editions, a la "Han shot first": he's the only film maker to deny an original print to the US library, fyi, under contract - should chase that up if you want to see power contracts in action).

The Rancor is just an animal - put a lion into a pit, starve it, stab it a lot, then push in a load of Christians, you get the same thing. Yes, Lucas was really aiming for that audience there.

The real ethical statement was that Power uses the physically powerful to their own ends, usually twisting and torturing them to get them to lash out. And the Rancor had a keeper who loved it: that's the subversive element.

A fat man wearing leather chaps crying was the most radical statement in the 1st half of RoTJ:

Who knew?


OF course Star Wars is trite Christian philosophy at its heart: Lucas was spending 10+ years burning out all the little subversive bits.

52:

SIGH: HIT BUTTON TOO SOON:

IF YOU IMAGINED A PRINCESS IN A BIKINI STRANGLING A FAT OLIGARCH WITH THE CHAINS OF SERVITUDE WAS THE RADICAL THING ABOUT THAT SECTION OF ROTJ YOU'RE NOT THINKING HARD ENOUGH

IT WAS THE FAT LEATHER CLAD DUDE WHO WAS ALSO A SLAVE WHO LOVED THE BEAST HE WAS DESTINED TO LOOK AFTER, AND TRIED TO MAKE ITS LIFE TOLERABLE


ONE IS A CLASSIC CASE OF EMPOWERED ARISTOCRACY INVADING AN OLIGARCHY AND GETTING HER POWERFUL FRIENDS TO FUCK SHIT UP. THEY'RE TOOLED UP: THEY HAVE JEDI POWERS, GUNS, SHIPS AND ALSO A FUCKING WOOKIE.

THE OTHER IS A SAD TALE OF A MAN WATCHING POWER DESTROY THE ONLY EMOTIONAL LABOUR THAT MEANT ANYTHING TO HIS LIFE AND NOT GIVE A SHIT. IN FACT, HE PROBABLY HAD 20+ YEARS OF PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THAT SAARLAC RATHER THAN THE RANCOR HE LOVED.

WHAT DOES HE HAVE?

NOTHING.

POST ROTJ, HE'S STUCK WITH NO BOSS, NO JOB AND NO LOVED PET. "EX-RANCOR HANDLER" DOESN'T GO VERY FAR IN A DESERT FUCKING PLANET WHERE IT WAS AN EXOTIC ALIEN IMPORT.

53:

Nitpick: I can't see Deutsche Bank going bust pre-impeachment, as they have the past-piss-poor-judgement-slash-current-great-good-fortune to be owed large amounts of money by one Donald J. Trump. I see a bailout on very generous terms in their future.

Of course, there's always the chance that they wind up in Enron's position, where close ties to the white house made a bailout politically unsaleable, but that supposes politics as usual and something other than complete contempt for public opinion.

Either way, I assume China and various other interests are keen to acquire that debt from Deutsche at a very attractive price.

54:

Compulsory viewing on mention of Friar Tuck et al.
After all, we do need some laughs ....

55:

Because they would them make NO MONEY from it rather than a little less money ..
Don't be more daft than you can help, please?
Seriously, this is about money, not about political point-scoring, where stupid self-inflicted wounds rae all too common.

56:

MLP?

And NO
We have already established that Lizzie is till alive ....

57:

...And that's an interesting point to ponder, because a lot of Britain's infrastructure is in foreign ownership. Why wouldn't they just pull their 'plug', too?

If we're going to go full Mad Max on the subject ...

The ownership of those physical assets is negotiable; WTO and EU rules forbid nationalization without compensation, but if the EU arm-wrestles May towards a hardest-mode Brexit (complete with the UK losing its WTO membership proxy via te EU and being totally out in the cold) then there's nothing stopping a populist-right government from nationalizing the entire shooting match. Promise to feed the workers and their families (and issue nice new brown uniforms with armbands) and then run the existing nuclear plant well past its sell-by date. Come to think of it, there are about 20 spare reactors sitting around in SSNs and SSBNs; they're only small 50Mw kettles, so between them they're good for about 1.5% of the UK's demand, but there's a factory that produces them and we've got a huge stockpile of underused fuel and a reprocessing plant that's not being used right now.

If you accept autarky into your soul, a lot of the problems go away (temporarily). Of course, you're left with the State moving into the equivalent niche to the post-Soviet oligarchs, but hey, we already know the set of conditions for which National Socialism is a short-term-viable solution, and hardest-Brexit looks very much like one of them, right?

As for the foreign owners, expropriating their assets would be a hugely popular move (consider how happy everyone is right now with Scotrail or Arriva or EDF). Never mind that the folks losing the dividend payments are mostly pension funds and the people being impoverished are British taxpayers — it's an arm's length affair and most of them won't understand what's happening and will buy into the "taking back control" narrative, especially when the surplus goes to shore up the state pension (making them more, not less, dependent).

58:

The one lesson we should all take from 2016 is that "impossible" things happen and "they wouldn't be that stupid" is no argument at all.

59:

For non-Australians: the Turnbull government has been marked by a level of fiscal incompetence previously un-reached by Australian governments to date, combined with a determination to redress this by attacking the least powerful in society.

Thereby demonstrating that the Turnbull government (and it's predecessor under Tony Abbot) are the Tweedledee to Cameron/May's UK Conservative's Tweedledum.

60:

NB: I am not seriously proposing that a sane solution to hard Brexit would be a fascist government gearing up to power the UK using about a thousand naval nuclear reactors running on weapons-grade fuel built to a design with a known vulnerability to meltdowns in event of a LOCA. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

I'm just saying, it doesn't seem markedly less plausible than any of last year's lunacy!

61:

Pence and the rest of the Republicans probably aren't all that interested in getting rid of Trump. By some combination of good luck and rat cunning they seem to have stumbled upon a workable way of playing Trump, which is more than can be said for the Dems and the media:

Trump is allowed to function as figurehead, basking in Nuremburg rally applause on a permanent campaign, with Bannon as propaganda minister to keep the rubes sufficiently dazzled and misdirected to stop them asking questions.

Pence takes the Cheney role as President in all but name, with Reince Priebus as bagman/ enforcer for the big-money donors (his role at the RNC).

The Republican congress gets to pass pretty much any legislation it likes, so long as it doesn't have implications for Russia.

The cabinet are mostly movement conservatives with whom Pence and the congressional Republicans can get along just fine.

To the extent that Trump's stated policies conflict heretically with GOP doctrine or donor wishes, I doubt he has any real comitment to them. We'll see some anti-dumping tarriffs more-or-less legitimately allowed under existing rules slapped on Chinese steel, but not a real trade war. Photo-ops will be arranged showing scary looking tattooed Latino ex-cons in orange jumpsuits being deported south of the border, just like Obama has been doing for years, but an exploitable, frightened latino workforce will be allowed to remain in the US.

Republican congressmen will find themselves suddenly in favour of huge infrastructure programs in their home state, with fat contracts to well connected donors.

And when everything goes to hell, they can all turn around and say, oh, that was Trump, he was never a real Republican. (As they couldn't really do with Dubya).

The major flies in the ointment will be (a) if Trump and co. are clumsy about grifting, and (b) if Trump's narcissistic megalomania means he tries to actually run policy on issues the Republicans care about. I'd add Russia to this list, but only a handful of Republicans seem to be expressing any serious concern.

Getting rid of Trump means millions of angry deplorables, and probably a real risk of losing the Senate to the Dems and the white house to pretty much anyone.

62:

The saner solution is to build lower tech civilian designs. The UK has a bad habit of building prototypes and paying through the nose for R&D, but the one time we bought off the shelf we ended up with Sizewell B which came in more or less on time and on budget.

With Hinkley Point we were supposed to get an off the shelf design but delays elsewhere mean we are probably stuck with some of EDFs R&D and all the associated costs and delays.

63:

If Trump quits or cannot continue in office, how long can Pence be replacement-POTUS without losing his poossible two terms as elected POTUS?

64:

The 22nd ammendment states:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

LBJ could have run again in 1968, after winning the '64 election, because he took office more than two years into Kennedy's term, post-assassination. He chose not to for unrelated reasons, mainly Vietnam.

I doubt Pence would win one election, though, never mind two, especially if the deplorables think he had a hand in deposing Trump.

65:

Yes, but that's politicians, not people wanting to make money ....

66:

There aren't any practical off-the-shelf civilian designs right now.

Magnox is ancient and was really a bomb factory design, power was secondary. AGR was elegant but overly-complex — the Concorde of civil reactor designs — and in operation the reactor structures have shown some annoying neutron embrittlement problems. First-gen PWRs like the Westinghouse design at Sizewell B are now being superseded by the new-generation designs like Hinkley C ... which are running into prototype/startup headaches; they'll be great when the bugs have been ironed out in 20-30 years but right now they're over budget and behind schedule.

Nobody wants to build a last-gen BWR design (cough, Fukushima) or first-gen PWR (cough, Three Mile Island) because they have a much more limited lifespan than the modern designs, and more dangerous failure modes.

67:

Wonderfully scary, Charlie, but really!

Haven't you noticed that May's rhetoric is exactly opposite to that of the Madwoman from Grantham?
We will have to wait & see if her modern version of Disraeli's conservatism is real or just words, though. Won't we?

68:

Huh.

I think May is:

a) An instinctive authoritarian control-freak, who is

b) Shit-scared because she's riding a populist tiger fed raw meat by the right-wing tabloids and uncaged by the Brexit referendum, and

c) All she cares about is locking down the lid on the pressure cooker, because that's what she does best.

She's smart enough to realize that you need to move the pressure cooker off the heat source if you want to avoid explosions — hence the talk about ending austerity (via Hammond) — but she's not comfortable with stuff she doesn't control, and even if she cancelled Brexit immediately she'd be unable to control the EU, so that option is gut-level unacceptable to her.

And she doesn't understand macroeconomics, trade, or foreign policy.

Upshot: she's not quite the worst possible leader for these times (none of today's Tory ministers are any good, although I'll reserve judgement on Hammond for a while: he's not obviously a moron), but we're scraping the barrel with our leaders. In fact, the sad fact is that the most effective party leaders in the UK are all out-of-play because they're sitting in the Scottish parliament. (I don't have much time for Kezia Dugdale but she can't do worse as Labour leader than Corbyn; ditto Ruth Davidson vs. Theresa May in the Conservatives: and so on.)

69:

If we're talking mass-producing wee reactors, SLOWPOKE-4 would be an interesting choice. I'm sure AECL would be very reasonable about licensing.

70:

There's a nasty corollary to that: if the foreign owners of British utilities take a terminal view of the assets - sell off and physically ship out everything object of value, strip and sell on all the IP on punitively and nfavourable terms - and run the businesses for cash unsustainably...

More so, far more so than any existing privatised and mismanaged public service. Blatantly, as a deliberate effort to push the boundaries of our appalling complacency and lenience, and actually break them.

...How does May call in the contracts and franchises - or even activate the penalty clauses - without triggering an immediate WTO dispute for 'asset seizure' or 'appropriation'?

If there's already a WTO dispute declared, this can go straight to seizing and freezing UK assets overseas.

'Pulling the plug' isn't the only failure mode: one might attempt analogies involving forcibly inserting the plug and strangling us with the power cord.

71:

Allow me, if you will, to hypothesise a truly horrifying event for 2017: Mike Pence evangelises Trump.

Put this one down as a very low probability scenario.

The problem with *your* low probability scenarios is tgat they're all in the outer-decile and outer-percentile areas of the probability space.

...And you've farted out, what, twenty of them already?

** ONE OR MORE OF THEM WILL HAPPEN **

I think you're wrong about HSBC, and I'll be happy to expand on that if you want (short version: more than one UK institution will go down before HSBC does, it's arguably the most resilient bank in London) with a few outer-decile financial disaster suggestions of my own.

72:

The only thing going for us is that a lot of the infrastructure on outsourcing contracts isn't terribly portable. Prisons? Nuclear reactors? The railway network? Sure you can strip out fixtures and fittings, but that tends to be a labour-intensive process. As for highways and municipal water treatment plants ...

Where I get the cold shudders, though, is stuff like hospitals (MRI machines are relatively transportable, as are transplant organs — if time-limited), and you don't necessarily need a lot of boots on the ground to cause havoc.

73:

There aren't any practical off-the-shelf civilian designs right now.

There ARE practical off-the-shelf civilian reactors -- I can think off-hand of three, the Russian VVER family, the South Korean APR1400 and the Chinese Hualong-1. Notably none of these are "Western" designs but they're being built today in quantity in their homelands and elsewhere, not as one-offs. They are all GenIIA evolutionary versions of the classic Westinghouse PWR, bigger and better (the APR1400 puts out about 1300MW of electricity, three times the capacity of the British AGRs) with more fallback and failsafe systems that don't quite match the GenIII standard of less than one core meltdown in 10 million years of operation. Then again no-one's actually got a GenIII reactor in operation -- the ill-fated EPRs were the first to actually begin construction but shit went wrong and none of them have actually started up anywhere (yet).

There's a cost-size benefit to building a few big reactors rather than a flock of small reactors in terms of construction costs, operating costs, manning levels, fuelling logistics, land footprint etc. The biggest proposed reactors, again evolutionary designs based on existing working reactors and with a manufacturing pipeline are in the 1700-1800MW range. Britain might be the first to build an 1700MW ABWR or ESBWR, for example but it's still not at the pouring concrete and bending metal stage.

74:

The way things are going, you should have a full-scale nuclear exchange by next Christmas.

75:

In a sense, Trump has already been evangelised. As a child his family attended the church of Norman Vincent Peale, author of mega-selling Ur self-help book The Power of Positive Thinking. Trump seems to have taken the noxious prosperity theology and emphasis on winning to heart.

That aside, Trump seems to have little interest in any religion other than a personality cult with himself at its apex as Messiah, Saviour and Prophet.

76:

Gigantism is a side effect of the current philosophy of nuclear safety - exclusion zones, redundancy, containment domes and security don't get much more expensive when you make your reactor bigger, so they're less costly per kilowatt electric the bigger the reactor is. But there's a problem here, because a larger reactor also means much higher heat-load in shutdown mode. It's workable, but it's never going to be a super fast process to build reactors that way. You can standardize and series produce, but you can't build these in a factory, they're just too big.

If you want to rush build, you need to adopt a different safety paradigm - Small molten salt, or molten lead cooled reactors that can reject heat without active cooling in shutdown mode or have been build to fail-safely. Or heck, just use nautical reactors in the environment they were originally designed for - the entire philosophy of the water-cooled reactor was that the ultimate backup cooling system is the sea, so put them in places where you can flood them by opening a couple of valves if all else fails.

77:

I can't help but feel the major flaw in these predictions is that you have a Patriot system in Gulf actually hitting what it was aiming at...

78:

Oh, another left field for the analysis.

North Korea might have the ability to deliver a nuke to NY, London, and Paris
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/01/asia/north-korea-kim-jong-un-speech/

Of course, Kim Jong Un also stated that he wants to put a man on the Moon within the next 10 years
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/88fa76909dec40b299658a34b489dc1a/ap-exclusive-north-korea-hopes-plant-flag-moon

79:

"Transplant organs are relative transportable, if time-limited".

OTOH, under present UK laws, you may not "harvest" organs for transplant without first obtaining the explicit consent of the next of kin.

80:

Given the NK attitude to treaties, maybe they'll build a proper Orion and put a city on the moon!

81:

Re: 'Sure you can strip out fixtures and fittings, but that tends to be a labour-intensive process. As for highways and municipal water treatment plants ..'

Given the growing interest in space exploration including how one might live in a closed environment, widespread public support of the 3Rs (reduce, re-use, re-cycle), increasing joblessness, this isn't such a bad idea. Also, this would play well with a mostly closed circular economy that Britain might find itself in. The idea of a circular economy has been around for some time now. Below is a brief history ... article published in March 2016.

Circular economy: Getting the circulation going

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7595/full/531443a.html

82:

a larger reactor also means much higher heat-load in shutdown mode.

A larger reactor means more mass to contain the heat in shutdown. There is a cube-square law situation in that the surface to radiate/conduct away the heat is lessened but that's a problem with fuel rods which can overheat no matter how large or small the reactor structure is since all of the heat-generating fission products are contained within them.

In the case of Fukushima Daiichi, reactor no. 1 is the smallest of the three that overheated but it took as much core damage if not more than reactor no. 3, a larger reactor built later. The GenIIa PWRs and BWRs being built today are all getting passive walkaway cooling systems involving large water tanks with gravity or thermosyphon circulation systems good for several days of no-power operation, with easy top-up options from outside if needed.

83:

In this timeline, I can see the proven and fast-to-build RBMK design looking awfully attractive...

84:

I'd now like you to imagine an RBMK built by Wimpey and operated by SerCo.

Note to readers: if you don't know why this is a Very Bad Idea, click on the helpful wikipedia link: it's shudderific.

85:

Charlie, I think each scenario you listed here, should it not come to pass, should be written in frosting on a cake for you to eat, come 2018.

What are your druthers in matters of the bakery?

86:

"Gigantism is a side effect of the current philosophy of nuclear safety - exclusion zones, redundancy, containment domes and security don't get much more expensive when you make your reactor bigger, so they're less costly per kilowatt electric the bigger the reactor is."

So what's wrong with just setting up shop in a large exclusion zone, with redundancy, domes, and security, and setting up an array of smaller nuclear reactors?

87:

You would get a lot of resistance from within the industry to that, but threatening to build RBMKs on appropriate coastlines could be used as a way to persuade our closer neighbours to sell us more advanced cores at a discount. :)

88:

c) All she cares about is locking down the lid on the pressure cooker, because that's what she does best.

That's why I say the U.K. should play the "Russian Hacking" card with regard to Brexit, not because it's legal or "real," but because you folks need a good excuse not to go through with it. As long as everyone in power in the U.K. or E.U. thinks Brexit is a bad idea, "the dog ate my country's homework" does just fine... it doesn't matter whether the dog really ate your homework or not.

89:

I don't know that this is a bad idea: You know why I think that a project operated by Serco is likely to be as good as its staff.

90:

If that were the case, the legal fact that the referendum was advisory, not binding, would be more than enough. Unfortunately, our political class is intellectually bankrupt.

91:

Disagree re (c) if only because she's seen that it does not work ...
OTOH, she's quite correctly, frightened of her own right wing - which is why (IMHO) the proposal for "worker-directors" got dropped.
But if she quite openly refers to the 48% & the 52& ( thus drawing attention to the narrowness of the gap) & talking about a "brexit for everyone" (Which just might include no Brexit) then one must wonder ....
Like I said, we don't know & must wait & see ...

92:

If she does that, how will your right wing react?

We're in this mess because most people thought that the right wing had enough self-preservation that they wouldn't lob a live nuclear grenade in the global economy with Brexit and the alt-right. You've just told them that they can do even more damage consequence-free (because the government will quietly fix it). They will escalate.

93:

"Worse? How could it be worse? Jehovah, Jehovah..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIaORknS1Dk

94:

"dubs" is the last digits of a post. Since they're (allegedly) governed by a RNG, if you get dubs / trips etc, this means (now) that "Meme Magic" has been engaged
That is an interesting practice; thanks much for the pointer. A search finds enough material, though I have some (uhm) technical questions that will require some more digging to answer. (Notably, the question of how polluted it is by the use of techie tools for cheating.)

95:

Apologies, I'm going to be a drip again. I understand that the scenario is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but the brownouts have me baffled.

Rather than explain why I'm baffled, just assume that I know the size of the U.K.'s coal, gas and electricity imports, have some experience with natural gas contracts and PPAs, wrote a report for Albania on solving their electricity problems, and understand the percentage of electricity prices made up from fuel costs.

Given than, can you please walk me through the logic? Because I don't follow.

96:

I really don't care how the right wing reacts. It's starting to look like Putin is putting a lot of money into fascist efforts in the U.S. and Europe and he's frequently getting his money's worth as various countries vote for leaders and ideas that are pretty thoughtless. Pushing back is probably a good idea, and Brexit is not the smart thing to do.

I don't want to seem paranoid here - I'd happily accept evidence which contradicts the idea that Putin is pushing fascism hard in various countries - but that's what it looks like at this point. How hard to push against probably depends on the quality of your evidence, and it may require that various countries share intelligence they don't usually share.

97:

How do you make opposing fascism profitable?

(Keep in mind that fascism's selling point is guaranteed profits for its adherents.)

98:

I'm not sure, but opposing Russia was a bestseller for years, so it can probably be revived.

99:

FFS.

Look at QE #4.

It's either the largest wealth re-distribution and heist of the last 300 years or its People-Who-Think-They're-Smart moving into a cashless society.


Hint: they printed enough cash to pretend that Tn derivatives don't matter. Cash buy-back of stock is the sole reason the Stock Market is zooooming along.


This is Post-Capitalism now, my little munchkin.

100:

That's ignoring little shit things like wage stagflation for the last 30-40 years covered by low interest debt to all - and before you start moaning, that's largely to Asian countries.

Go look up what shrimp and tuna and sushi for all cost the world.

~


Oh, and the blow-back is gonna be Biblical.


Fucking. Biblical.

OP's post is hilariously optimistic.

They. Are. Going. To. Enact. Gigacide.

101:

"But Mummy, I don't want to be part of the tentacle."

102:

If you're looking for happy fun ideas for the next installment, I'd suggest doing some reading about the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

And on the subject of human insanity, the possibility that the proxy war in Yemen between Saudi Arabia and Iran turns into a shooting war in the middle of a large part of the world's oilfields. With the Saudis pulling in a nuclear armed Pakistan if things don't look to be going their way, and the problems that would then cause with the Indians...

103:

>Barclays Bank announces plan to move to Frankfurt. Bank of Scotland announces plan to move to Dublin. The Royal Bank of Scotland announces ...
Just NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, try again.

Bank of Scotland's corporate registered office location suffered a wobble way back in 2001 when it merged with Halifax then control was effectively conceded to Lloyds during the credit crunch - although the registered office of the post-credit crunch business remains at the Mound, the headquarters is in the Square Mile...
During the Scottish independence referendum, both RBS and Standard Life said they would move their registered offices out of an independent Scotland. This would have left the premises, the functions and the majority of the jobs in Edinburgh but the addresses on the stocks of headed notepaper would have been in the City...
Bank of Scotland has been around since the late 17th century but it effectively ceased to be anything other than a sub-brand of Lloyds in 2009.
Stuff happens. Barclays, Lloyds and RBS could easily stick a plaque on an office in Frankfurt, leaving (EU compliant) operations in a non-EU country like the UK. Major UK institutions have been outsourcing call centres and IT to India for years, for example.
There would be PR consequences for the big banks with such a move but it would simply be spun the opposite way to the noises RBS/Standard Life made in 2014. ("RBS to move brass plaque from St Andrews Square to Paternoster Square, Scottish economy in tatters"; "Barclays to move brass plaque from Canary Wharf to Frankfurt, nothing to see here move along".)

104:

Charlie, I think each scenario you listed here, should it not come to pass, should be written in frosting on a cake for you to eat, come 2018.

I'm going to have to decline your suggestion; I have type II diabetes, and that much sugar would probably kill me. (Alternatively, you could use xylitol or maltitol, but you wouldn't want to be within a kilometer of ground zero—the toilet—when the indigestible saccharides hit my intestine.)

105:

Your problem is a lack of sufficient large exclusion zones. The UK is small, geographically: we probably don't have anywhere remote enough and suitable for building reactors where we could pre-allocate a Pripyat.

Having said that, the Chernobyl reactor fleet continued to operate for some years after the explosion, feeding power out over the grid, until all the RBMKs were decommissioned; I suspect the lack of construction of new reactors in the zone is simply down to the Ukrainian economy having tanked after 1991 and gas being cheap in that part of the world. If Japan continues to reactivate the reactors that were shut down after the Tohoku quake in 2011, eventually they could plausibly complete building and power up the units at Fukushima Daichii that were under construction hence undamaged by the meltdowns.

106:

That seems plausible, and indeed almost inevitable, as political pressure to move away from carbon mounts. Fukushima was bad, but nowhere near the scale of bad that Chernobyl ended up being. The fact that they're both level 7 accidents is proof that the scale either needs radical re-calibration (perhaps with Chernobyl occupying a new 8th level) or a serious reexamination of the political machinery that made such a bogus, fear-mongering decision in the first place.

More people die from coal or oil, by a vast margin, than from radioactivity. But booga-booga, let's pretend that late 50s Soviet-era construction, and mid-80s Soviet-era institutional dysfunction are the norm for all reactors everywhere, and that these are not problems that can be remedied, and consign ourselves to extinction because...

Oh dear I'm ranting again aren't I?

107:

Here are some figures for UK energy generation circa 2015.

Brown-outs have been a worry for years now, since Tony Blair panicked when he learned the UK's reactor fleet (then producing 25% of the UK's energy) would have to shut down by 2025 and there were no replacements on hand. Replacements are now being built, and some of the existing ones have had their lives extended, but indigenous civil nuclear construction basically died in 1989 after Sizewell B was finished and the new reactors will all be imports (French or Chinese).

The UK is committed to going coal-free; the last coal plant in Scotland shut down for good in spring 2016, and the Drax complex that provided roughly 8% of the UK's power is closing, etcetera. So the UK's power comes from a mix of renewables (almost all wind turbines — solar is useless this far north — and hydroelectric), nuclear (down to 21%), and gas — we have big pipelines out across the North Sea to Norway and parts east; we burn a fair amount of Russian gas IIRC, and imported electricity via undersea cables. (You could argue that the UK is currently 30% nuclear, we just outsourced the reactors to Normandy.)

Here's the problem: importing gas or electricity means paying for it in Euros. Paying foreign corporations to build new reactors means paying for them in something that will be hedged against exchange fluctuations. So the postulated sterling crash is going to make the price of fuel spike, just as capital for construction of new energy projects disappears, and there's a postulated political confrontation with Russia (who have used gas and oil as leverage in squabbles with other countries in the recent past). Adding the Windscale nuclear accident on top is probably unnecessary if all I want is brown-outs; political pressure for a hard shutdown of all nuclear power would be hard to resist (see Japan in 2011) but catastrophic.

108:

Somewhat peripheral to all this but quite interesting in a post truth context: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b086nzlg

109:

I tend to agree — partially — with George Monbiot about nuclear power. The technology, engineering, and energy source is all right and we need it for decarbonization; but the human institutions we trust to manage it are absolutely terrible, and we need better.

110:

No, units five and six at Fukushiima Daiichi are scheduled for decommissioning since the site is compromised with enough residual radiation that they can't be operated safely as the excursion detectors would trip continuously. This has been a problem with other nuclear reactors sited close to coal-burning plants when they trip out as the plume from the smokestacks sometimes exceeds their permitted radioactive emission operating limits.

The interesting thing will be if the Japanese ever bring the Onagawa reactors back into operation. Onagawa was actually a lot closer to the epicentre of the Great Tohoku earthquake than the two Fukushima plants but suffered no noticeable damage.

111:

You could say the same thing about the carbon industry -- "the human institutions we trust to manage it are absolutely terrible, and we need better" but that would put up prices for energy for everyone and compared to that the future threat of climate change, accidents like Deepwater Horizon, the recent coal-mining disaster in India is not treated the same way the demonstrated record of safe nuclear power is.

112:

nuclear reactors sited close to coal-burning plants when they trip out as the plume from the smokestacks sometimes exceeds their permitted radioactive emission operating limits

Could I get a reference for that? A quick search didn't turn anything up (probably using the wrong search terms), but it would be useful for the next unit in my physics course…

113:

Actually, this is one case where you probably can get away with "proof by assertion" - Vis. Since it is well-known that coal fired power stations produce more atmospheric radioactive pollution than nuclear plants, it will come as no surprise nuclear power plants sited close to coal fired plants sometimes trip out when the plume from the smoke stacks exceeds the nuclear plant's permitted radioactive emission operating limits.

114:

I don't know which thread to stick this in.

Here's a map of the cheapest energy sources by county.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a24272/cheapest-power-plant-every-county/?src=socialflowFB

Unfortunately, my eyesight isn't good enough to separate out PV from coal.

116:

The problem here is that the garbage produced by a nuclear plant lasts longer than any civilization we have records of by orders of magnitude. Even leaving aside the rather large costs of a meltdown, we don't have to capacity to safely manage nuclear garbage over deep time.

Whether there are reactor designs, thorium or pebble bed, for example, that can fix this problem is academic at this point; To my knowledge thorium reactor are simply not being developed, and the Chinese might have a small pebble-bed, but I haven't heard of any results on the garbage it produces.

117:

According to this article India made enough progress to start up a thorium reactor this year.

118:

Yes we do; dig a deep mine in a subduction zone, fill with nuclear "waste" and concrete, and let continental drift do its thing.

119:

As I read it, India is putting thorium into an ordinary fast-breeder reactor to turn it into U-233, but I don't think they're using a molten-salt type reactor of the kind we usually mean when we say "thorium reactor." They may be planning such a thing in the future, but I don't see that in the article.

120:

The waste produced by a typical 1GW nuclear power reactor in a year consists of about a tonne of highly-radioactive material that can be safely sequestered long term by deep geological burial. The Finns are starting to dig a deep repository, the French are in the planning stages. No-one else really has enough high-level waste material to be thinking of building their own depository at the moment. As for "deep time" (whatever that means), the hot dangerous stuff goes away in a short period, the long-lived stuff isn't very active. Evidence from the Oklo natural reactors is that most of the worrisome fission products aren't very mobile over a billion years even in loose rock exposed to the elements and ground water.

If there was twelve billion tonnes of nuclear waste produced each year as the coal industry generates I could see there being a problem but a few hundred tonnes of nuclear "garbage" which can be safely stored aboveground for centuries without killing people, affecting the climate or entering the biosphere is not worth worrying about.

The mercury released today within agreed limits by coal-fired power stations enters the biosphere and kills people today and it doesn't go away. Ditto for nitrogen compounds, particulates, sulphur, cadmium, beryllium, radium, radon and a host of other killers and cripplers. We don't seem to have the capacity to safely manage coal-fired garbage right now, never mind over "deep time" but the irrational fervour goes into opposing non-lethal nuclear power while mass-killer-today coal gets a pass because... I don't know, really. Maybe as an opponent of nuclear power you can tell me?

121:

India has a problem in that they're not signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and this restricts their access to world markets for nuclear technology and materials. They don't have a lot of uranium natively hence their interest in thorium but it's a clumsy multi-stage operation to get it to produce energy -- they need to breed U-233 in specialist reactors to make it work at all then put thorium into heavy-water reactors to breed that into more U-233 along with plutonium from yet more reactors etc. I can't see it being cost-effective unless they cut corners. Instead they have a lot of coal they are burning instead even when it kills people -- about sixty coal miners were killed there a few days ago. Nuclear power is a lot safer, provably.

Pebble-bed reactors can use mixed-oxide fuel with thorium as an adjunct but they still rely mostly on U-235 for energy production. The Germans have two wrecked pebble-bed reactors they're still trying to figure out how to decommission since there are bits of radioactive pebbles jammed in places they were never meant to go. The Chinese 10MW gas-cooled PBR has been working for over a decade and they're building a commercial version, a modular unit that will hopefully produce about 100MW of electricity. They have new-tech pebbles, the so-called TRISO fuel design which is believed to be a lot stronger and less prone to breakage plus the reactor can be freed of jams, dust and broken pebbles if necessary. Pebble-beds run at much higher temperatures than PWRs and BWRs though and this can cause other problems as well as providing opportunities (desalination, process heat for industrial consumers etc.)

122:

Suggested listening for this posting: Leonard Cohen "you want it darker?"

123:

“Here's the problem: importing gas or electricity means paying for it in Euros. Paying foreign corporations to build new reactors means paying for them in something that will be hedged against exchange fluctuations. So the postulated sterling crash is going to make the price of fuel spike, just as capital for construction of new energy projects disappears, and there's a postulated political confrontation with Russia (who have used gas and oil as leverage in squabbles with other countries in the recent past).”

Again, with the realization that your scenario isn't meant to be taken straight (although I don't think all of the commentators in this thread realize that):

Under normal circumstances, a price spike won't be an immediate problem for three reasons. The first is that U.K. gas prices were double what they are now as recently as 2013; wholesale electric prices were 25% higher. That gives you a rough idea of the pass-through.

The second is that for the next few years the U.K.'s LNG imports (from Qatar) are covered by firm long-term contracts. (See page 21.) A rise in prices will hit their bottom lines, but they have the capacity to borrow. (That said, they already lose money

Finally, the U.K. gets its pipeline gas from Norway.

To get brownouts, you need to have that financial collapse in September, making it impossible for utilities to raise working capital. But I don't understand how you got that other than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

I understand that rabbit-hatting is the point. Your scenario involves rolling about 300 sixes in a row. (Including, I hate to point out, a brain transplant for Mike Pence. Not that I'm an admirer, but.) It's meant to make us all feel better about whatever 2017 actually brings.

But I don't know how many of readers realize that.

124:

I'm not an opponent of nuclear power so much as an opponent of the currently-fashionable design in nuclear power plants. I'd really like us to get moving on better designs which are inherently safer, like pebble-bed and thorium seem to be. The currently used designs have failure modes that are particularly ugly, that's all.

As for coal, your critique is very accurate and I'd love to get rid of all the coal plants in the world. My only issue is that I'd like to see them replaced by a safer nuclear infrastructure than we currently have, which probably means a different plant design. (Keep in mind that the current designs are optimized for producing raw materials for bombs - civilian reactors shouldn't breed plutonium!)

125:

You're a little out of date with that: India discovered substantial reserves of Uranium ore in 2011, at Tummalapalle in Andhra Pradesh.

India will probably abandon the Thorium fuel cycle: the active fuel is Uranium-233 and this is problematic, because U-233 (and, even more so, the U-232 produced with it in a parasitic reaction when you bombard Thorium) have decay chains with fearsome gamma emitters.

The Indians have known this for a while: about 18 months after you fabricate fuel pellets (or a warhead) out of U-233, they reach an equilibrium concentration of gamma-emmitting Bismuth isotopes that will kill anyone working on them with the usual leaded-glass and glovebox procedures that are safe working practices for Plutonium and Uranium-235.

You have to place several feet of lead between the operatives and Thorium-derived Uranium; and the ionising radiation will fry the electronics in the 'hot side' cameras.

Needless to say, this problem is even worse for military applications - you can't weigh down a missile or a crewed aircraft with that much lead shielding! - and there's only so much you can do to harden the complex electronics in a warhead.

This remains a problem in, both civil and military applications, throughout the lifecycle of the fuel.

In all commercial Uranium and mixed-oxide reactors, spent fuel rods are extracted and put into 'cooling ponds' to wait out the decay of the gamma activity before removing the fuel-rod 'cladding' and sending the pellets offsite for reprocessing (extracting the plutonium and recovering the unburnt U-235) and we dispose of the remaining material as high-level waste. This is all done in a reprocessing plant (or in some countries, where no recovery is attempted, a disposal plant) where the handling equipment, the sensors, the pipework and the valves, are all visible and accessible to suitably-protected humans.

There are very few activities in the civil nuclear industry that need 'remote handling' - robotic equipment and several feet of lead between the hazard and the humans - because it's difficult, it's expensive, it always produces high-level waste; so we structure our processes to minimise the quantities of high-level gamma emitters that we produce.

You can't 'wait out' the lethal gamma activity of a Thorium-cycle fuel rod. You have to store it onsite, and the transportation containers we use in the UK for moving cooled-off pellets from the decladding vat to the reprocessing plant (or a repository in other countries) have nowhere near the shielding you would need to move industrial quantities of partially-spent U-233.

In short: Thorium power enthusiasts are dangerously deluded. Or, like India, they are pursuing a hazardoud policy out of necessity, where the priorities of civil power generation are taking second place to military calculations.

126:

That's a slightly terrifying issue with the thorium systems that I wasn't aware of. Can you give me a link to read more/more authoritatively and spam at people who are dead keen on thorium saving the nuke industry?

127:

So because existing tested operational nuclear reactor designs are only super-mega-safe and not ultra-super-mega-safe[1] you're fine with not replacing the world's coal-fired power stations with off-the-shelf reactors. That's nice.

Germany is decommissioning its non-polluting nuclear power fleet while maintaining its consumption of lignite at practically unchanged levels because people falsely believe that nuclear power kills people (it doesn't) and burning lignite doesn't (it does). That's the bottom line, basically -- no-one is willing to front up the money to make coal and gas as non-polluting as nuclear because it would raise electricity prices. Proper sequestration of CO2 would double or even triple the meter price for most electricity consumers around the world (not in France though for some reason...)

Oh, and as for "(Keep in mind that the current designs are optimized for producing raw materials for bombs - civilian reactors shouldn't breed plutonium!)"

That's a lie. Period. It was made up for a magazine article and is basically bullshit but it gets repeated endlessly. By the time nuclear power plants based on PWRs and BWRs started to be rolled out en masse in the 1960s the Big Four nuclear-armed nations already had as much weapons-grade plutonium as they'd ever need from purpose-built reactors totally unlike the PWR/BWR designs. After that time the number of weapons went down significantly even before the SALT and START treaties with the result that the Big Four now have hundreds of tonnes of weapons-grade Pu in store and they don't want more.

PWRs and BWRs, the most common reactor designs in existence don't produce pure Pu-239, it's always contaminated with Pu-240 which makes for piss-awful weapons because of the long period between refuelling operations. There are power reactor designs that can produce weapons-grade material, like the CANDU, RBMK-4 and Magnox/AGR designs (which can be refuelled on the run) or India's heavy water reactors but they're very scarce.

[1] The new evolutionary GenIII and GenIIIa designs of PWRs and BWRs are actually ultra-super-mega-safe, ten to fifty times safer than their predecessors. That's still not safe enough for the nay-sayers though even with the slaughter coal has inflicted on the world over the same period their predecessors have been operating without killing anyone.

128:

Australia recently signed a deal to supply uranium to India, supposedly for civilian purposes only. (Australia has ~40% of known global uranium reserves). The deal has a nod and a wink from Obama, who relaxed nuclear sanctions on India a few years back.

129:

Yup, America's deal drove a cart and horses through the NPT principles that anyone who wants to import civilian nuclear power technology and materials has to open their entire nuclear industry up for inspection so that none of the imports can be diverted into weapons programs. It was the same American government that layered extra inspection and other requirements on an inspections-compliant NPT signatory, Iran.

130:

Start with the Wikipedia article on Uranium-233.

After that, it's hard work: start with the references in that Wkipedia article.

Try this PDF: U-232 and the Proliferation-Resistance of
U-233 in Spent Fuel"
and see what else is there on the Fissile Materials site.

After that, it gets difficult: a lot of the personal accounts and layman-level articles that used to be discoverable online have disappeared in the last decade.

I'll let you guess why, with this little hint: don't follow any of those links without a safe anonymising VPN, if you live under a regime that records your online activity.


Also: anyone who tells you that you can centrifuge out the U-232 is talking bollocks. The US Navy is said (no citation) to order separating out the even-numbered isotopes in Plutonium destined for the warheads carried in submarines - not because of the predetonation problem, but to protect the crew who live in close proximity to the gamma-ray emissions.

No-one else attempts an isotope separation that close: if you deep-dive into the calculations (look up Separation Work Unit) it's three orders of magnitude harder than separating U-235 out of U-238, and prohibitively expensive. No other navy does it. And doing it for Thorium means getting the undesirable isotope down below 5ppm.

Worse, one of the Bismuth isotopes comes from the U-233 itself: even if you do the work to separate out the U-232,it's still too dangerous for any existing civil installation.

131:

Well, that's what happens if you press inappropriate equipment and procedures into use for a task involving substances and conditions distinctly different from those for which they were originally designed. It's a bit like using standard kitchen equipment in a kitchen to perform the free-radical chlorination of toluene: you can, but it tends to lead to tears. Much easier on the mucous membranes to do it in a fume cupboard with the correct lab equipment.

As Nojay points out, reactor design has long moved on from dual-use weapons plutonium production configurations, but the fuel cycles, processing methods, fuel configurations and the like are not so far altered - modified, indeed, but not fundamentally changed. Instead the new reactor design space has been constrained by the desire to bodge it on top of an underlying supply and service infrastructure originally intended to extract and securely stockpile plutonium from (relatively) non-hazardous materials. The appropriate response is not to continue in the same vein producing a continual chain of new bodges to get around the constraints imposed by previous bodges, digging yourself deeper and deeper into the same hole and spawning a tottering pile of elephantine bollocks like x86. Rather, it is to understand that to apply those constraints to a system to handle materials which are hazardous but from which there is not any requirement to purify weapons-grade fissile material is contradictory and silly, and instead to design that system differently and in a manner appropriate to its purpose and operating conditions.

One such alternative is to use homogeneous fuels and on-site continuous reprocessing; tapping off a stream of fuel from the reactor, extracting the fission products, and stuffing the rest back in. The waste output from that process would be, as a very approximate rule of thumb, about the same in volume and average flow rate as the waste output from a human, so in a plant the scale of a power station it really wouldn't be much of a bind to store it until it calms down.

Where the gamma-emitter contamination does make a difference is in hand-machining and hand-finishing components of refined metal; hijacking a thorium cycle to produce bombs as a side-product tends to leave an embarrassingly large pile of distinctively-dead corpses in a way that doing it with a plutonium cycle doesn't.

132:

Instead the new reactor design space has been constrained by the desire to bodge it on top of an underlying supply and service infrastructure originally intended to extract and securely stockpile plutonium from (relatively) non-hazardous materials.

The only production-ready reprocessing systems in operation (i.e. capable of handling hundreds of tonnes of used fuel pellets a year) that I know of are based on the PUREX system which was developed to separate Pu-239 out of short-exposed U-238 targets for military purposes. Feeding PWR and BWR spent fuel rods through a PUREX line returns somewhat-enriched uranium (better than mined feedstock, less than fresh enriched fuel) and plutonium, an unweaponisable mixture of Pu-239, Pu-240 and some -241 isotopes plus assorted concentrated waste in small amounts.

I'd like to see a better process, possibly based on laser separation that isn't as expensive and more productive. Then again laser separation might also provide a simple route to separating Pu-239 from Pu-240 which is bad. A PUREX line is expensive to build and expensive to operate (the US has had a half-built reprocessing line for a decade now with no signed-up customers for any reprocessed uranium and plutonium it might produce if it is completed). At the moment and for the forseeable future freshly-mined uranium is cheap to the point of ridiculousness so many reactor operators use a once-through fuel process and then wet-store and finally dry-cask the spent fuel rods. The Finns are planning to permanently bury their spent fuel rods without ever reprocessing them to recycle the fissile materials they contain and others are considering the same.

133:

The attempt to set up a Muslim registry in the US may be resisted by more people than some think--I have talked with my local pastor about setting a 'King of Denmark Society' whereby church members line up to register as Muslims.

The attempt to outlaw all cash will result in the digging out of 'junk silver'--many Americans have a few pre-1965 quarters and what not, or have purchased some from dealers. However, the wise ones will be discreet about throwing around gold, not wanting late night visitors with guns. Also, who's going to tell old Mrs. Johnson who is 88 and has never had a credit card in her life that her money's no good? On top of that, the illegal sector which is never going to diminish that much, *see* Original Sin, is going to sternly resist the removal of cash or cash-like items and will likely sell their goods and services for hard money, drugs, jewelry, and TVs. Pawn shops may well work out deals with the local cops to look the other way in exchange for facilitating any little deals for them. Cops have families who like to eat, too. I suggest any attempt to remove cash from society where I live will result in big time inflation for any electronic money and a considerable discount for 'hard money' (I remember when silver was $50 an ounce and the local gas stations and grocery stores were cutting deals all over the place). Plus, we'll probably put a feeder pig in the back yard.

The abolition of Medicare with worthless vouchers might well result in some old-timer deciding that they're going to be dead in a month anyway and he or she may as well visit that nice Mr. Ryan or attend his next open-air meeting. If he or she doesn't care about being caught, many things could happen, not that I am advocating same, I hasten to say (as a fantasy writer, I can think of much, much worse. But I need a cooperative dragon).

134:

Thanks for that, I fear I have the same problem as you do with references, but I hoped you might have something up your sleeve.

For me personally the nuke stuff seems a bit far-fetched. Living as I do in Aotearoa (electricity was 90% hydro under govt policy changed that to below 80%, we even had a synfuel plant to turn gas into petrol because what else can you do with the gas? CNG and LPG conversions weren't popular enough), and Australia (can we say ideal target for solar? I knew we could), the idea of also wanting nukes seems a bit like the calls to bring back slavery... sure, we could, but why would we want to?

I can see it in densely populated countries, but I doubt either country will ever count as densely populated (Australia is almost as big as China). The advantage of nukes over coal is that it's much easier to contain and ship the pollution, but obviously the disaster risk is different. Although the fire at Hazelwood was nasty, it's not even close to Fukashima let alone one of the nasty Russian problems. And people moved back in pretty much immediately after the fire was out.

From a "logical solution to global problems" point of view I can see using the Indo-Australian subduction zones as waste dumps, but instead the silly buggers want to choose a stable, dry area for the international dump. Which is not as dumb as doing the same thing in a wet, unstable, densely populated area in Europe, but it's still not very smart. Sadly the price offered is also ludicrous, because politicians price these things based on "I'll be retired by then" which comes back to Charles' point about also needing a political system capable of thinking past the next election.

135:

The main reason everyone rejects the subduction zones has nothing to do with safety - it's because everyone expects the various "Final" repositories to get looted bare by our descendants in not very many centuries. A spent nuclear fuel-rod that's just been pulled out of a spent fuel cask and buried is a witches brew. The same fuel rod 500 years from now? Just about all the nastiest stuff will have decayed away. So people anticipate that these things will be dug up, processed and put to use again. Probably. Maybe noone will bother. So the design constraints are that nuclear waste facilities have to work for both cases. They need to be accessible to people who want their contents and at the same time stay safe if everyone forgets about them. Thus, stable geological features get holes dug in them.

136:

Not sure where laser separation comes into it? Separating isotopes is really hard however you do it, which is why laser separation is interesting in the first place, but reprocessing is much easier because it depends not on a minute mass difference but on a fairly gross chemical one: all those loosely-bound outer electrons give actinides an interestingly different chemistry from all the rest of the goop. (The fundamental step of PUREX is extraction of a solution of goop with tributyl phosphate in kerosene (IIRC); most of the waste - as in the irritatingly voluminous if not all that radioactive stuff - is produced in the stages of getting to that solution from the raw spent fuel rods.) Moreover, that chemical difference is more marked and distinctive than any other property that might be used to distinguish between actinides and goop (it's a very handy side effect of how fission works - half-size nuclei with half-size positive charges can't have those big loose outer electron shells), and I can't see any other test - or rather, combination thereof, since there isn't that single distinctive difference anywhere else - lending itself to other than a more complicated and less effective process.

I won't mention once-through-no-reprocessing cycles, I had a rant about that not long ago :)

137:

The advantage to nukes over coal is that coal is busy killing the planet. Break agriculture with climate forcing, and everybody dies. (At least to a first approximation, and maybe actually.)

Even considered purely in terms of excess deaths, coal is way, way, way ahead. It's just invisible for some reason.

138:

So maybe you an explain to me why the modern designs are safer than Fukishima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, or San Onofre (which is now permanently shut down with a decommissioning cost I'd expect to end up in the 20-30 billion dollar range.)

I love the idea of getting rid of coal as quickly as possible, but I'm not sure nuclear is the way to go. So tell my why they're safer than all the bad examples I've mentioned?

139:

P.S. And please do so without being patronizing, or making assumptions about what I think.

140:

The attempt to outlaw all cash will result in the digging out of 'junk silver'--many Americans have a few pre-1965 quarters and what not, or have purchased some from dealers
Any attempt to outlaw cash (less so for the elimination of larger bills) will encounter enormous pushback. A lot of the economy in the US uses cash, for various reasons mostly having to do with relative anonymity for transactions, e.g. trade in illegal goods, and hiding income for various reasons including tax evasion, ducking child support, falsely qualifying for means-tested government benefits (or even private benefits like scholarships), etc.
And a lot of the people who prefer cash vote Republican, and are gun owners.
(note: using naked links because proper links are busted in preview for some reason)
A push was made early 2016 to float the idea of getting rid of large US denominations, e.g. http://www.infowars.com/war-on-cash-larry-summers-wants-to-kill-the-100-bill (Alex Jones website, just for color, a pushback article), and it continues, e.g. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-sinister-side-of-cash-1472137692 , and there was some pushback in the conservative media. (plus what are essentially grifting advertisements (IMHO!), e.g. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-22/cash-ban-coming-us )

The abolition of Medicare with worthless vouchers might well result in some old-timer deciding that they're going to be dead in a month anyway and he or she may as well visit that nice Mr. Ryan or attend his next open-air meeting.
I understand the sentiment (you have a lot of company BTW), but it is likely that if the Republicans make a move on Medicare (unlikely IMO) it will leave benefits for current beneficiaries untouched, so the pool of severely affected people might be limited, to e.g people who get hit by the gap if the eligibility age is moved up. So I expect that this will need to be fought in the political area, with all available tactics, including tactics that are hard and ugly and sharp and mean and nasty.

141:

I'd like to second your request for info on this.


Given that many ionizing radioactives are used in medicine (CT Scans, chemo, X-ray machines, iodine tests, etc.), seems that better education re: range of different radioactives (purposes/uses, risks, how they're managed, what recycling options exist if any such as which decay to other radioactives (e.g., U-238 to Th-234 to Pa-234 ... to Pb-206, half-lives) would be in order.


Just looked up Bismuth 209 on Wikipedia ... this stuff is going to hang around a really really long time!

'Bismuth-209 ... 209Bi undergoes alpha decay with a half-life of approximately 600 yottaseconds (1.9×1019 years), over a billion times longer than the current estimated age of the universe.'

142:

Yah, but stuff with really long half lives means that your amount of radiation per unit time is low for a given mass.

(Half-life = how long it takes half of it to decay. If the half life is in yottaseconds, you might not notice it's radioactive in your lifetime unless you're carefully monitoring a large mass of it.)

Chernobyl was a big pile of graphite bricks; graphite is a good moderator but flammable. This is a generation 0 design. It's a terrible design from a safety perspective.

Three Mile Island was more or less operator error (as was Chernobyl); a PWR that loses pressure overheats, and people (after causing the problem) overrode the automation to do the wrong thing. Try not to make reactors that melt without coolant. (One approach is to use heavy water so the coolant is also the moderator; losing coolant turns the reaction off.)

San Onofre is 2nd gen PWR design; it got decommissioned due to steam pipe corrosion and never leaked anything. (the 1st gen PWR design on that site got decommissioned at end of life.) The ridiculous decommissioning prices are policy, not necessity.

Fukushima wasn't designed for a richter 9 earthquake and was a boiling water design, which can lose coolant without losing the moderator. It is still rather small potatoes in terms of excess deaths. The highest total excess death number anyone will commit to for Chernobyl is around 60,000 -- that is, over the entire consequences of the release. That's about a year of air pollution deaths for the US. It's very likely Fukushima is well under that number.

A current reactor design is going to have three characteristics; it's going to be unable to sustain a chain reaction without coolant, it's going to fail off (losing power turns the chain reaction off), and it's going to have a lot of excess heat capacity. There are a bunch of different ways to achieve these goals as engineering.

Personally, I'd like to see a lot of 10-to-50 MW range reactors being installed in hospitals. And anywhere else you really don't want to lose power, but hospitals would be a good place to start. Having lots of small ones is a good way to maintain a larger community of operators and a fund of operational experience. One ongoing problem with reactors is that they're run by people who have no context for experience; it's this specific plant, which is special. And then you've got to not make any mistakes while doing something boring for years.

143:

Looked up isotopes and wonder whether any one radioactive isotope is sufficiently plentiful to build enough equipment worldwide that can run on it exclusively. Because, let's face it, as a society, we've become used to having a 'universal' fuel along the lines of one-size-fits-all types of equipment. And quite a bit of resistance to solar and renewables is that none of these is enough in itself to do the job (heating/cooling) year round. Coal, natural gas, oil are (as I understand it) not nearly as diverse in their structure, therefore, in their usage or resultant performance. I'm curious: is this (plethora of isotopes, with only small % being the 'right isotope') part of the problem with using radioactives for power generation?

http://www.periodictable.com/Properties/A/KnownIsotopes.html

144:

who's going to tell old Mrs. Johnson who is 88 and has never had a credit card in her life that her money's no good?

Like it or not we're mostly there with the older population. My wife and I had to take away money and health care handling from her mother about 5 years ago (she's 88 now). And so have most of my friends with parents still living. Very few of them at that age have the mental agility to deal with internet payments, paperless billing and banking, and are insane enough or have relative who will let them carry around $5,000 in cash for that emergency that pops up. The health care system in the US is almost all done via web sites and even if you get the paper most of them can't figure it out. (There's a movie out about the UK NHS and this topic.)

I started trying to give up on cash about 2 years ago. So far my only real stumbling blocks have been for tipping and event parking. (Decided to keep $20 or $40 in the car after that 1 mile walk in the snow in dress shoes.)

145:

seems that better education re: range of different radioactives (purposes/uses, risks, how they're managed, what recycling options exist if any such as which decay to other radioactives ... would be in order.

Sorry, but you have the way of the universe backwards. Most people do NOT want complicated answers to simple questions. They want simple answers to complicated questions.

146:

it's going to be unable to sustain a chain reaction without coolant, it's going to fail off (losing power turns the chain reaction off), and it's going to have a lot of excess heat capacity.

These are the crucial issues for me, and if they have, in fact, been implemented, I'm good with nukes... That being said, the current lot of nuke plants does not share those characteristics and the failure rate is clearly higher than most of us are willing to put up with. And safe disposal needs to work better. Putting stuff in 55-gallon drums in the desert is a big no-go.

And before we agree to put up a shitload of reactors, how many of these plans have been subjected to real-world testing?

Lastly, my bullshit detector pings really hard on the subject of San Onofre. I drive by there several times a year and it still smells like getting an X-Ray.

147:

Apart from amazon and ebay, I use cash for everything (and postal orders for sending). Because it is so much EASIER not to have to bother about even trying to interact with financial institutions, and also to make certain that all payments require my personal action and cannot be automated.

148:

Radioactive isotopes that occur naturally in sufficient abundance to be used as a power source: 235U. That's it. And only because it's fissile.

It can also be used to convert a couple of others into power sources.

All the "interesting" isotopes you get to hear about are artificial, either byproducts of uranium fission or deliberately made in reactors in very small quantities.

149:

Maybe when I retire but cash would be a huge time sink for me and my wife at this point in our lives. My electric bill is the only one that requires automatic payment if you want to go cashless/checkless. I DO use automatic payment for our auto loans as they are with one of our banks and it's easier and they give a discount on the loan rate. I spend an about 3 to 4 hours a month paying bills for my wife and I maintaining residences in 2 states.

150:

"If the half life is in yottaseconds, you might not notice it's radioactive in your lifetime unless you're carefully monitoring a large mass of it."

Quite so. Bismuth was considered a stable element until quite recently, and for any conceivable practical purpose it still is.

151:

The advantage to nukes over coal is that coal is busy killing the planet.

I agree entirely. The disadvantage of nukes over anything else is cost and risk. For countries where coal is unnecessary, and also relatively clean (Australia and Aotearoa, for example) the transition could much more easily to be renewables rather than changing what's burned in thermal plants. I'd much rather see India and Africa go distributed PV with limited grids, much as they've done with telephony, rather than try to replicate the process that Europe and America went through.

There are also big opportunities to optimise even the grid parts, by building local generation and storage in from the start. Datacentres with PV, for example, often need much less storage than you might think because the big loads always happen during the day. This is more true than I expected, at least in Australia (it's only ~50% of the power in most cases, but that's still huge on a (number of datacentres) x (power used by each) basis).

When you start looking at designing buildings to store cool rather than heat (again, the south has a lot more cooling load than heating load), there is some funky solar heat pump geolinking/ground source work being done in Kenya and South Africa. Basically, PV shades the heat pump on the roof, which dumps heat into a coolant and then into the ground (it's expensive to put the heat pump in the basement, but cheap to drill a hole next to the building and run pipes up the wall). I'll try to find links, but this is the new excitement from a friend who returned to Kenya after university in NZ.

152:

In Iraq, the Mosul Dam on the Tigris collapses due to poor maintenance and lack of grouting during the civil war

Apparently this is the one big thing that's not just possible in the CS fantasy but may be very likely.

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/02/507922310/deterioration-of-iraqs-massive-mosul-dam-reaches-crisis-point

153:

Coal fired power plants.

I wonder what will happen to the drywall / gypsum board industry if coal plants and their scrubbers go away.

154:

I know this is a very small data point...

These are the crucial issues for me, and if they have, in fact, been implemented, I'm good with nukes...

My daughter spent her senior year (high school, not university) in Germany back in 2009-2010. She goes back several times per year to catch up with school mates and visit with her host family and friends.

She knows of no one there who thinks nuclear is anything but something to avoid even if it means living in caves. They think we are a bit insane living 10 miles from a nuclear power plant.

[You are / live in Germany? Correct?]

155:

The attempt to outlaw all cash
Is this actually a thing, or a believable scare-story?
More information, please.

LURVE the idea of a "King of Denmark" society ......

156:

YES
...and also to make certain that all payments require my personal action and cannot be automated.
I use debit-card quite a bit & on-line ordering ( e.g. $_BIGRIVER for books ) ... but, it is still each single transaction. modulated by my personal input.
I'm very suspicious of Direct-Debit, because it can still be subverted, even with safegaurds

157:

Thomas, to clarify, my reference to using a subduction zone as a nuclear waste repository was not because I think this is a specifically good idea but explicitly to meet the requirement for something that would "outlive civilisation and require no maintenance".

158:

Make that "The disadvantage of nukes over anything else is cost and perceived risk" and I'll agree your point.

159:

There's work going on to investigate using deep boreholes (4 to 5 km deep) for nuclear waste disposal, specifically spent radioactive sources used in industry and medicine; it's cheaper for concentrated waste as there's no tunneling infrastructure required and it's ultra-mega-hyper-safe rather than being just mega-hyper-safe as hard-rock repositories such as Onkalo would/will be. Attempts to bore trial boreholes with no intention to actually bury waste in North Dakota have been put off as the locals are worried about waste being buried in the proposed holes.

http://world-nuclear-news.org/WR-US-companies-prepare-for-borehole-field-tests-2212167.html

Spent fuel is bulky after encapsulation and needs tunnels to transport it to sufficient depth for deposition. The Onkalo repository is about 450 metres deep but the sloping tunnels to the deposition site run for several kilometres. Reprocessed waste is a lot less bulky and could possibly be disposed of using boreholes. I've also seen speculation of remotely mining a cavern at the bottom of a deep borehole to expand the deep storage volume but no-one's ever done something like that before.

160:

Actually, there's another solution to the waste disposal problem on the horizon: if Elon Musk's Interplanetary Transportation System works to spec, then it's cheap enough to contemplate a waste repository in high Earth orbit.

Ship the waste up as ballast on the unmanned tanker flights for ITS; do it a ton at a time, inside a stripped-down Soyuz capsule (about 4.5 tons) with heat shield so that if the tanker has a whoopsie the waste cargo survives re-entry intact like the Apollo 13 RTG. Given Musk's proposed tempo for Mars colony flights, it should be possible to ship a few thousand tons of waste into orbit with minimal fuss in the 2030-2060 time frame, where it's safely segregated from our biosphere but not beyond retrieval if someone wants it — as long as they've got the tech to build orbit-capable launchers, at which point we can assume they probably know what they're going to do with it.

161:

I know that the probability of anyone wanting it is low, but for some reason I am getting a mental image of people fracking for nuclear waste.

162:

There are a number of interesting isotopes in "waste" but generally if more are needed then it's easy (too easy, perhaps) to make more where we can get at them. The short-lived "hot" isotopes of most interest would all be gone in a few days/weeks/years after the fuel is removed from the reactor anyway.

Burying once-through spent fuel without reprocessing means a significant amount of U-235 gets sequestered along with convertible U-238 but there's not going to be a shortage of mineable fresh ore for a thousand years or more, and there's always uranium extraction from seawater which is not cost-effective at the moment but is still well within the Energy Return Over Energy Investment (EROEI) threshold.

My long-term estimate is that a few hundred years from now there will be a lot more nuclear power plants than there are today, each with the preserved corpse of a carbon industry executive at the entrance to warn future generations of the dangers of extracting and burning fossil carbon to generate electricity. Reprocessing of spent fuel will be more common using cheaper and simpler processes than the PUREX derivatives used today with concentrated waste being buried in deep boreholes in various locations around the world. Fusion power will be twenty-five years away and Germany will still be burning lignite.

163:

I'm a bit more optimistic than you. I think after a couple of hundred years commercial fusion will only be 20 years away.

164:

Speaking of reactors, which we seem to be, there's been a series of descriptions of historical reactor accidents/incidents/close calls and related topics running at the Union of Concerned Scientists site for a while. Worth reading if you're interested in such things. No surprise, but human factors is a recurrent theme.

http://allthingsnuclear.org/author/dlochbaum

165:

Union of Concerned Scientists has always had a reflexive hate on for civil nuclear power so I tend to discount them automatically. They're not quite as bad as fairewinds and enenews though.

A comparable list of carbon-energy accidents/incidents/close calls would be a lot lot lot longer with a much much much larger death toll and environmental impact but no-one really cares since carbon is an old comfortable friend, not the untamed dragon of nuclear power that seeks untiringly to destroy us all in our sleep. Any day now. Just you wait. Really. (There are people who think Godzilla was a documentary...)

166:

You mean that Gojira isn't a documentary; I always thought it was why Tokyo has such a good public works department! ;-)

167:

Union of Concerned Scientists has always had a reflexive hate on for civil nuclear power

Their public statements seem to be more against nuclear power done wrong rather than a comprehensive hate of the entire idea.

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power

"Enforcing fire and earthquake regulations, addressing flood risks, and safer storage for nuclear waste are just a few of the ways we can help prevent nuclear accidents.

"The United States should take these steps now—upgrading safety and security standards, enforcing all the rules, and becoming the tough, consistent regulator the public deserves.

You can help. Check out our action alerts, visit our citizen resource center, and speak up for better-regulated nuclear power in the United States. Together we can make this important low-carbon energy source as safe as possible."


168:

It wouldn't be hard to play the "Russian hacking" card wrt Btrexit, since Farage has already dealt us the hand, face up. What might be harder would be making most of the media pay attention.

169:

CANDU and the French equivalent have all of those characteristics. (Though there was an interesting surprise about zirconium crystal structure under sustained neutron bombardment.)

Waste is pretty much a non-problem. People want a definitive solution for it and it's very hard to explain to someone who is sure it's a dire problem that it wasn't really a problem to begin with. You stick it in a storage pool. Either it will become economical to process for an nth generation reactor or you're going to drop it down a deep, deep hole in a hundred years in a world where someone has used new physics to figure out how to build a big tank of electrons or direct matter/energy conversion or something. In neither case do you have a problem. (Unlike the unspeakable hell of coal ash ponds.)

170:

Just got pointed at a newish toy/tool. Hoping for more and better such tools emerging very rapidly over time; fixing news media and consumers is key (and re a point by Glen at #10).
http://hoaxy.iuni.iu.edu
Hoaxy: How claims spread online
Visualize the online spread of fake news, hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories, satire, fact checking, and the occasional accurate claim.

Twitter-focused ATM, but quickly draws nice clickable graphs and seems useful after a few drill-downs on some semi-obscure memes.
More here: Indiana University researchers launch tool to understand spread of fake news with a paper link that needs access for full text: Hoaxy: A Platform for Tracking Online Misinformation(april 2016)


171:

See the elite Tokyo Police Cataclysm Division in the webcomic Megatokyo.

172:

Actually as far as I know the government still owns a reasonable chunk of land on the Kaipara just north of Parakai that was earmarked in the 70s for our first nuclear plant. The idea was to have a stable location with ready access to water and shelter from disasters somewhere north of Auckland to balance out the supply issues. With the rise of anti-nuclear sentiment it was quickly put out to pasture, along with the dustbin sized test reactor in Wellington that was relabelled as a medical facility. That reactor was very quietly dismantled I think in the early 00s and now we get all our medical isotopes from Oz.

173:

No, I don't live in Germany. I'm in the U.S. And I'm not anti-nuclear power. I'm in one of those gray areas between two extremes. I'm all for nuclear power which is safe. Now prove to me that your design is safe.

Current plants don't have a great safety record. There are currently about 450 plants, and at least three of them have had major problems in the last fifty years. That means about 1 accident per 75 plants over each 100 years, and these are very ugly, dirty accidents which have massive clean-up costs.

I'll add that current operators don't have a great record of getting important stuff right, like the several would-be operators in earthquake-prone California who apparently didn't look a maps of active faults when deciding where to site their reactors, or the Japanese electric company failing to put crucial infrastructure above the historically known and properly marked tsunami line near their property. Current nuclear operators also have a record of lying through their teeth, so I don't have much trust.

That being said, if there really, truly are modern designs that can handle the bad stuff, I'm happy to use them. In fact, I'm ecstatic to use them because I agree that coal is a huge menace.

If those designs are truly safe, you should have no problem with building one of them and allowing me to test your prototype against earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, or someone firing a couple hundred bullets into the control gear, then inviting some ugly, cynical friends of mine to perform those destructive tests which I haven't thought of.

But once you get your prototype right, competing against a competent red-team that's very serious about finding and exploiting the weaknesses, you may build as many of them as you want, (according to whatever restrictions are set by the red team.)

I don't say this to be a ass or to set up an impossible burden, but because I'd really like to see nuclear power which nobody needs to be afraid of.

174:

Actually I'm fairly close to you in thoughts on this. It just seemed based on your comments that you might be in/from Germany and I was looking for an insight into their opinions.

175:

The UCS grew out of the science community's backlash against nuclear weapons programs hence their Doomsday Clock. In the late 1940s and early 50s there was an effort made to dramatise the effects of radiation on biological systems, plants and animal in order to make the idea of developing and using nuclear weapons anathema; the result was not to stop the weapons development programmes but to turn the population against civilian nuclear power because... scary!

Since then nuclear power has had to face stupidly exaggerated requirements for safety -- for example a metal filing cabinet in a nuclear power plant's offices is regarded as nuclear material and when it is scrapped they have to meet a standard of less than 5000 Bequerels per kilogramme or it is classified and dealt with as nuclear waste (low, medium or high). Scrap steel from, say, an oil tanker is regarded as perfectly safe and not nuclear even if it is emitting radioactivity to a level just under 500,000 Bq per kilogramme or a thousand times higher. These exaggerated requirements have led to a perception of danger and an ever-escalating demand for yet more safety while the carbon industry gets a pass time and time again as it slaughters millions of people every year with its pollution, accidents and disasters.

177:

People are afraid of nuclear power the same way they're afraid of sharks. (Statistically, you should be much more afraid of cows than sharks.)

Canada and France have already run safe designs for decades.

The standard you are proposing could not be met by the gasoline infrastructure, coal, natural gas, plastics, hospitals, or any kind of transit system. I'm pretty sure nuclear missile basing doesn't meet these standards. (resilient against "opening fire on the control system" is a VERY high bar.) Why is nuclear power special in that you want to it be invincible?

(Just as a for-example, see http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library/data-stats/pipelineincidenttrends about natural gas pipelines.)

The real calculation is "is this better than what we have now?" and the answer is inevitably yes because what we have now is on course to kill everybody by breaking agriculture. How much nuclear we need is a question; my take is "some" because core infrastructure on renewables isn't quite there yet and speed counts.

178:

Cheers, but I was actually joking.

179:

Thanks all for the info and perspective re: nuclear energy!

Some additional thoughts/questions:

Drilling deep wells to dispose of nuclear wastes ... does sound somewhat like fracking ... how do you avoid setting off seismic events, leakage/spillage? Note: I don't buy the 'storage drums will outlast the radioactive materials' bit because some 40-50 year old drums used for this purpose have already resurfaced and were found to have leaked their contents.


Why can't the U235 waste byproducts be used for some other benign thing/activity? - Seems as though before we go nuke we need better understanding of 'nuclear ecology'. Historically, anything that humans did to 'simplify a system' ended up with unwanted consequences usually because the full cycle of that system was not probed or was deliberately ignored. Almost needs a 'Law' here: If you build it 'simple to use', don't trust it because this means that it will have only one direction to go in and that direction is you (i.e., it will kill you). A second Law could be: Before building/installing any new energy gizmo, you must have a reclamation/recycling scheme in place. A third Law: if your system will only work if it's humongous/extremely expensive, it's probably a bad idea. (Huge means it probably doesn't fit/won't work with/will disrupt the local ecology. Extremely expensive usually means: a) the money is ending up in a few someones' pockets and/or b) the project will likely hold its new owners hostage because they can never back out of it because doing so would be a waste of taxpayers' money and/or a sign of poor decision-making.)


Re: 'more deaths attributable to coal than to nuclear' ... a question: are these stats based on per watt (whatever energy unit) produced, number of operators, number of users, number of installations/units or what? Because I can probably come up with stats that say sugar is deadlier than salt (or vice versa) depending on how the results are parsed.

180:

resilient against "opening fire on the control system" is a VERY high bar.

I'm not looking for "resilient" against anything. I'm looking for "fails safely." I'm not an ogre, and if you'll stop seeing me as an ogre we might actually communicate.

181:

Charlie,

Oh, crap. NOW you really do have me scared. It *appeared* that a lot of the funnymentalists voted for Trumopolini.... I wish someone hacked *their* private organizational emails... because I'm wondering if they did so on the *promise* that Pence, the Dominionist, would take over, and not four years from now, and certainly, they wouldn't wait eight.

And remember, for those that don't know, the whole vector of the Dominionists is not only that The Rapture Is Coming, but to bring it on.

I'll also note that if Trumpolini gets the alt-wrong pissed at him... they do have firearms, and are self-evidently nuts.

If this happens, and Francisco Pence tries to Christianize (tm), it'll be the For Whom the Bell Tolls, not the camps, for me. Or maybe I could open a nightclub, and call it Cafe Americaine....

mark

182:

Canada and France have already run safe designs for decades.

However, the French government got really worried about their reactor fleet after the Tohoku quake and associated meltdowns and ordered a review, which concluded that their sites were able to meet the safety specifications they'd been built to, but not to cope with a "never happens" disaster (like a magnitude 9 quake followed by a tsunami). And simulations of what would happen after a "never happens" incident showed that the operators would not be able to cope with the aftermath, any more than TepCo's site workers were.

IIRC, the plan for how to tackle this went into two phases. Phase B: the next generation of nuclear plants should be even more over-engineered. But for Phase A, all existing sites should be augmented with just-off-site emergency bunkers full of heavy equipment, generators, etc, and a national emergency response team with helicopters should be formed who could fly in to open up the emergency bunker and rescue the situation in event of a NEE so bad that all the staff on site were killed or disabled and all ground routes into the reactor complex were cut off.

(In other words, they're planning for something like deliberate sabotage by terrorists with persistent nerve agents to deny access to the plant, or explosive breach of the reactor vessel, or a meteor impact, or a nearby nuclear weapon ...)

183:

Anti-nuclear still largely equates to pro-coal, and while the market will eventually shut down most carbon based energy as renewables improve, is it wise to wait for it?

184:

About power, btw, it's looking like solar has just become cheaper than coal, etc.

Further... I've found out just this last year that solar on my roof would generate plenty of power for my house... and I'm in a small, split-level in the DC 'burbs. Solar on every roof - and I see some office highrises are building with, or retrofitting, solar.

Am I anti-nuclear? Yes. Until we have a *permanent* storage facility (like freakin' Yucca Mountain), I want nothing that's going to generate radioactive waste that's going to sit in decaying 55gal drums in a pond.... Don't talk to me about nuclear until you can point to a location and say here, and we have all the licensees and permits to store it forever. Then I'll be happy to listen.

mark

185:

Not to worry, Trump has his own private security that he is using instead of the Secret Service. Of course, as a private sector operation, it is infinitely superior to any government bodyguard.

186:

Yes, that's why some people have been suggesting since the election that the main physical danger to Trump is from christian terrorists who don't like his evil ways. Thus leaving one of their own in charge.

As for Nukes,
Doesn't anyone else remember someone linking to a nuclear waste eating reactor concept months ago? Needs a lot of work of course, but in theory entirely possible to take all the reactor waste and burn it up in a slightly different sort of reactor. Which, if built in the proper failsafe manner a sensible distance from the sea etc etc, would go a long way to dealing with our waste problem. Of course the development costs would be equal to a hundredth or more of an Iraq war, so naturally nobody seems to be interested when it is cheaper to just store the waste above ground and pretend you are going to build a safe repository for it.

187:

The deep borehole projects being mooted are going four or five kilometres down, way way WAY deeper than oil and gas bores or fracking drills, way below any water tables and deep into homogenous rock.

As for U235 waste products, my simple solution to storing spent fuel was to use it as heating elements parked in the basements of offices and apartment blocks -- a storage container containing 20 or 30 fuel assemblies puts out about 100kW of heat on average for a couple of decades after initial cooldown without doing anything to it The outer surface gets warm by natural convection of the pressurised gas inside but that heat could be recovered and used. Not going to happen though.

The other waste elements are mostly not useful in any way -- Sr-90 has been used in radioisotope generators but they can't be flown on spacecraft as the shielding is heavy.

Deaths per petawatt-hour (PWh) of generation is the most common comparison of the risks involved with any generating option, including fuel acquisition, plant production and construction, operation and final disposal of waste. One chart I've seen recently says coal kills 170,000 people per PWh, solar kills 440 per PWh and nuclear deaths are 90 per PWh. We generated about 24 PWh last year.

Solar and wind deaths are higher than nuclear as people fall off roofs, towers etc. or have things fall on them and each installation doesn't produce a lot of electricity. A nuclear reactor produces a lot of electricity in one lump with very few deaths, it doesn't use much fuel or ore so the mining and transport operations have a lesser death rate due to that, the waste isn't emitted into the atmosphere and doesn't kill people that way etc. It's mega-hyper-safe but not ULTRA-mega-hyper-safe so it's believed to be more dangerous than fluffy-bunny renewables.

188:

That's complete bullshit. You can be anti-nuclear and pro-solar, pro-wind, pro-tidal, pro-hydro, or pro-something else. It's not "coal vs. nuclear," it's "coal vs. any one of half-a-dozen alternatives."

189:

Re: 'nuclear ecology'

By this I mean how all of the results/byproducts of every nuclear isotope interacts with every node along their reactions and not just the current environmentalist definition (i.e., kills x people, y plants). For example, a few years back there was some discussion on this blog about 'critical mass' of nuclear fuels*. So one of my requirements re: understanding nuclear ecology step-by-step is what isotopes are safe to be buried together; how much nuclear slag can be safely stored within a given area, what new chemicals/isotopes are going to form if/when too much of specific types and concentrations of nuclear slags interact, and so on.


*One of Feynman's contributions to the Manhattan Project was his observation that the nuclear inventory (packed in metal containers) was stored in too small an area thereby potentially capable of starting a nuclear chain reaction.

http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2014/06/06/feynman-and-the-bomb/

190:

Doesn't anyone else remember someone linking to a nuclear waste eating reactor concept months ago?

That might have been me, but if so I didn't save the link. Maybe one of our pro-nuke types knows. (It's sure as heck a concept I'd favor!)

191:

nuclear waste eating reactor concept

There are a lot of Powerpoint presentations about waste-eaters. Nobody is bending metal or pouring concrete on one.

192:

Renewables can't be rolled out fast enough to replace coal. Germany is proof of this, despite a nationwide effort and willingness to spend hundreds of billions of Euros on solar and wind and garbage-burning plants their consumption of coal has not gone down appreciably in the past decade. What has decreased over that period is the amount of electricity they generate from non-carbon nuclear power plants as they are being shut down by government fiat.

What can replace coal in a short period of time is nuclear power. France proved this back in the 1970s, decarbonising their grid at a stroke by going heavily nuclear. They also pay less for their electricity than green Germany and don't import large amounts of Polish coal and Russian gas to top things up as Germany does.

193:

Not now, it isn't. I hope to live to see renewables take up more of the load, and every bit helps, but they aren't there yet. BTW, do you also despise space based solar?

194:

Sure you can. But _right now_, the problem is "how do we get rid of coal?" AND "how do we keep India from going into coal in a big(ger) way?"

Solar is cheaper than coal, and getting cheaper. That's mostly due to Chinese policy. (This is a very good thing.) US policy about solar is inconsistent and often hostile. (Power utilities DO NOT like the prospect of everybody having solar on the roof.)

I'd recomend https://www.withouthotair.com/ which has a lot of numbers. The only real long term options are solar and nuclear with a side of wind in a few geographically favoured regions. (Charlie is not wrong that Scotland is one of those.) (Provided the wind stays consistent and not too violent. This is one of the attractions of both solar and nuclear; neither are dependent on the weather staying consistent.)

195:

I don't know enough about space-based solar to comment one way or another. And I don't "despise" nuclear either. I just don't like the level of safety offered by the current version and want us to do better.

196:

Sure, I said that. But is it because of economic factors, i.e. fuel is cheap enough now, or short sightedness or what? You're the one parading about as an expert.

197:

Without being too much of a pessimist, the idea of a "King of Denmark Society" runs into the unfortunate reality that someone collecting data at the level of the NSA/etc with the will to do so hardly has to ASK what your religious affiliations are, especially if they're not afraid of a few false positives here and there. Someone acting maliciously (for 1930's-40's values of malicious) isn't going to mail out a form, just work out an algorithm to run Facebook posts (as hardly-all-inclusive-but-convenient example) through.

198:

Coal is like a layer of Euro bills just lying in the ground, waiting to be dug up and shoveled into someone's bank account (the same applies to oil and gas, of course). Most coal mining today is surface-based, large open excavations of low-grade coal and lignite which are heavily automated to keep costs down. Once it's burned in power stations the waste gases and toxins are someone else's problem. In contrast nuclear power has the unique financial burden of dealing with all of its waste for millions, if not trillions or even quadrillions of years (according to some).

There's also a matter of fuel security -- most countries burning a lot of coal have a lot of coal to burn. Germany, for example, has several hundred years of reserves of lignite within its borders even at its current extraction rate (about 170 million tonnes a year). No-one can turn off the supply tap on a whim or bump up their price willy-nilly. The same applies to China, India, most of Africa and the United States.

There's also jobs -- coal and lignite burning employs a lot of people even with automation since its bulky and not very energy-dense. Nuclear power in contrast produces a lot of electricity with a low requirement for manpower and jobs so there's more pressure to keep burning coal and lignite to keep the pay checks coming while pretending the deaths and climate change coal causes aren't a real problem.

199:

Space based solar has the potential to obsolete most carbon based power generation, but it can't happen large scale until we have an off-planet industrial base, and power is transmitted by a microwave link, which might annoy a person that feared radiation.
Nuclear power looks like the best chance for the smokestacks to go cold in my lifetime.

200:

Nuclear power looks like the best chance for the smokestacks to go cold in my lifetime.

I'm fine with that. Now build me a prototype and prove that it fails safely in any reasonable scenario. I don't think that's too much to ask before deploying some version of the same tech that gave us Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima.

201:

I don't believe that you could be satisfied, and we would disagree on what constituted reasonable.

202:

Do we get to consider height above sea level and geological stability of underlying terrain as mitigating factors?

203:

Fukushima wasn't a reasonable scenario: the Tohoku quake that triggered the meltdowns was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to hit Japan, and the fourth most powerful quake on record anywhere in the world, ever.

Basically, it was a "never-happens" event, on the same order as a reactor being hit by a meteorite.

Despite being hit by a "never happens" level quake, all three reactors at the Daichii plant scrammed and shut down in good order. (As did a bunch of other reactors elsewhere on the Fukushima coastline.) The meltdowns happened days after the quake and subsequent tsunami and could have been avoided via several different pathways: a chunk of the damage can be put squarely at the feet of inadequate leadership.

Better tsunami defenses should have been in place; they were in place and protected other reactor sites elsewhere on the coast. So: local management couldn't be arsed doing the job that managers elsewhere thought necessary. Again: if the backup generators that ran the cooling pumps had been placed on the roof rather than in the basement, or the fuel bunkers hadn't been vulnerable to flooding — back to the tsunami defenses — the whole incident could have been managed just as well as it was at all the other reactors you don't hear about because they didn't melt down, nothing to see here, move along now.

Upshot: our current reactors are safe, for reasonable values of "safe". We do, arguably, need better solutions to "never happens" events that outstrip reasonable values of "safe" — the French emergency crisis team approach for example (so that even if everyone on the site is wiped out, the site is contaminated, and hostile forces are shooting at people, there's a plan to get professional disaster mitigation crews into it ASAP). But we don't really need new reactor designs for that.

204:

That's reasonable, or we could go with a couple different designs which relate to the general stability of the area. Montana, which is geologically pretty stable, might get a B-rated design, while California, which is not geologically stable, gets an A-rated design. Or we could bias various designs against earthquakes as opposed to tornadoes and put them in the right places.

As I wrote above, I'm not an ogre. I just want something at least an order of magnitude safer than current designs... 1 bad accident per 1000 reactors over 75 years comes close to what I'd like to see, particularly if nuclear reactors are considered to be a transitional solution while we move to something even safer.

Also, I note a logical flaw regarding an earlier pro-nuke argument. We probably can't replace coal plants "faster" with nukes than with other renewables. Any project, nuclear or otherwise, takes time and effort to get approval and be built, so there's probably a 5-10 year lag regardless.

Also, nuclear has a very poor reputation (regardless of whether it's deserved.) For everyone to change their opinions, you'd need a pretty good demonstration of all the possible problems and how your design would fail safely when confronted by any reasonable set of failures.

205:

Note also: Three Mile Island was 1979; Chernobyl was 1986.

So these accidents took place 37 and 30 years ago respectively. I'm pretty sure nuclear site operators today have learned the lessons from those accidents. Anything that goes wrong this year is almost certainly going to be different.

206:

I want nothing that's going to generate radioactive waste that's going to sit in decaying 55gal drums in a pond.

Doesn't happen today in the 1st world. Anymore.

207:

Fukushima Daiichi actually had tsunami defences, a lot better than the port city of Sendai further north where a few thousand people were killed when it was inundated. The inadequacy of those defences has never been questioned in part because they couldn't build suitable defences (i.e. ten to fifteen metre high seawalls) and still operate it as a port. The only safe thing to do is to evacuate the entire Japanese coastline which is not going to happen, any more than Americans are going to stop building towns in tornado-prone areas (just in, four people killed in Alabama yesterday by a tornado).

Japan is a place where the geography actively attempts to kill people. It succeeds quite often and it will succeed in the future.

208:

Drilling deep wells to dispose of nuclear wastes ... does sound somewhat like fracking ... how do you avoid setting off seismic events, leakage/spillage?

Outside of a deep hole in the ground there is nothing similar. Fracking involves drilling down to semi-porous rock that has oil and gas trapped in the voids. Then drilling horizontally for a few 1000' into this material. Now inject some nasty water under really high pressure to break up this semi-porous rock and push the oil, gas, and some nasty water back up and then separate it. Earthquakes come from breaking up the rock down deep and allowing stress to be relieved as other rock can now slide. Talk to Oklahoma for more details.

Nuclear disposal is about drilling deep into hard rock, putting stuff at bottom, filling hole back up.

209:

any more than Americans are going to stop building towns in tornado-prone areas (just in, four people killed in Alabama yesterday by a tornado).

Given that 50% or more of the land mass of the US is under threat of tornado, yep, we're not going to do that.

210:

Yeah, well I was thinking of placements like the Canadian or Scandinavian shields, where the Fukushima event would be something like a 1/1x10E12 probability for the next eon or so.

211:

As I wrote above, I'm not an ogre. I just want something at least an order of magnitude safer than current designs... 1 bad accident per 1000 reactors over 75 years comes close to what I'd like to see, particularly if nuclear reactors are considered to be a transitional solution while we move to something even safer.

The problem with this desire is that there isn't anything safer than nuclear already. There isn't even anything close. (Wind and solar are a factor of four more likely to kill somebody; that figures Nojay gave for deaths per PWh are well-established.) "An order of magnitude safer than current best-practice" is well into the "if you want to move the decimal point you're going to pay a hundred times as much" territory, which is functionally the same thing as saying "no, no way, never, no how".

French and Canadian heavy water designs have had no significant accidents for decades. They're designed that way. A subsequent design would have improvements, but still; the example of what you assert you want already exists. Why do these designs not count?

(Wind and solar do have the large advantage of being decentralized; this is a very big deal as the weather gets worse and the grid gets more fragile or more expensive or both.)

212:

It would be nice to have a nuclear tradition of "red teams" with the power to fire and blacklist, which would go from site to site and deal with stuff like this. "You sited your generator below the tsunami line? You're fired. You'll never work in the nuclear industry again. And we're fining your company a hundred million dollars. Yes, it is meant to hurt!"

But the simple fact is that tsunamis are not a "never happen" event. The height of tsunamis has been tracked in Japan for more than six-hundred years, and written down on stone slabs where anyone can see the record!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/world/asia/21stones.html

In fact, Tepco had run computer simulations of "monster tsunamis:"

"Tepco’s sōteigai (beyond imagination) defense was dismissed not only because the utility had actually anticipated the possibility of such a monster tsunami in its own computer simulations, but also because effective risk management requires anticipating the unexpected. Of course, risk cannot be eliminated, but Tepco chose not to adopt sensible countermeasures such as a higher seawall to mitigate risks it knew about."

This is why pro-nuclear people have no credibility! They make inflated claims of safety, think of "rare" events as "never happen" events, don't track tsunamis even with an easy-to-find records, don't build their highly radioactive, critical-mass-involved infrastructure to withstand rare events, do computer simulations and don't fix the problems those simulations reveal, then when they're called on their shit they whine about replacing coal plants (an otherwise laudable idea) and argue that their creations are "safe enough."

IMHO, the reason why we don't have an amazing nuclear future ahead of us has nothing to do with the technology. The technology can be fixed with enough money and research and that part doesn't worry me. It is doubtless possible to make nuclear reactors that are much safer than current designs.

The real reason we don't have a nuclear future is because nuclear advocates can't be trusted to admit to the weaknesses in the technology and their processes. They insist on building nuke plants near active faults, claim that tsunamis are "never happen" events, argue with people who detect weaknesses in a safety protocol (instead of fixing the safety protocol,) and generally assume that "disasters will never happen to us."

If there are a hundred kind of events we label "thousand year events" and refuse to worry about, one of those events will happen every ten years (on average.) Beyond some regional probabilities - no tsunamis in Kansas - we don't know what event will happen in this particular ten year span. So we need to protect against those events.

The problem with nukes is not the technology. It's the people.

213:

We probably can't replace coal plants "faster" with nukes than with other renewables. Any project, nuclear or otherwise, takes time and effort to get approval and be built, so there's probably a 5-10 year lag regardless.

My understanding is that your timescale is somewhere between optimistic and foolish. There are a bunch of already-approved reactors ready to build, some actually started, that could be completed in a 5-10 year timeframe (mostly in the US). For countries with existing nuclear industries whop are willing to build old/proven designs it's probably possible to have a completely new reactor up and running within 20 years assuming the site search is not too difficult.

But for countries without an existing industry, or who have deskilled their industry (designing and building plants is not the same as operating them), you have to add a 5-10 year lead time to obtain or train the necessary staff and build the industry that will build the plants. Australia had a bad experience with their medical/research reactor, the Brazilian design was cheapest at contract time, but then the local suppliers struggled to make the grade. On a toy-size project.

Australia needs to be rolling out more than a gigawatt a year of clean energy supply, but our governments are working to prevent that happening. Currently we have <10GW of capacity, but even the paltry targets accepted by the current federal govt require more than that. But even with a mad panic effort, getting 5-10GW of nuke plants built in 5 years is something China would struggle to do, for Australia it's more like 20-50 years (with martial law 20 years is quite feasible, under democracy 50 is more likely if it happens at all).

The flip side of that is grid electricity demand is actually dropping, only partly because people are installing PV at home. Deindustrialisation is partly responsible, but technology changes in lighting and appliances are also contributing. So the new capacity is actually mostly to replace end-of-life coal plants.

The Conversation has this article on Australian home design and energy use that some of you might find shocking as well as informative. One key point is that about 25% of our power bill comes from the 10-odd peak demand days, which are all in midsummer when "everyone" turns their aircons on full blast. That capacity sits and rots the rest of the year.

214:

Are you a safety analyst? I'm not qualified as one, but I work with people who are.

215:

The problem is numbers. We've already got an existing "major accident" rate of 1 accident per 75 plants every hundred years. If we build another 300 plants we've got one accident every 10 years. Double that number to 1500 plants and we get one major accident every 5 years. That's a lot of uninhabitable real-estate.

Also, do you expect me to believe that all those cancer cases we'll be seeing in Japan around 2030 or so have nothing to do with Fukushima? Do you believe that anyone will be allowed to move back to those villages around Fukushima any time in the next century?

I'll say it again. If you want to be trusted as a nuclear advocate, you've got to come clean about the problems with your technology. At the point where you come clean, then we can start fixing those problems, and that's what will make you trustworthy again in the eyes of the post-Fukushima world.

216:

Those are probably good place to put nuke plants if the cooling is available.

217:

I'd have to dig, but I don't think anyone is actually working on the incomplete nuke plants in the U.S. right now, and work has not taken place for decades. How easy it would be to restart work is probably a crapshoot. (The NIMBY is strong in these folk.)

Part of the issue here is the middle-class approach to life. Having overcome life's basic problems we prefer to minimize low-risk events. Tell your average member of the middle-class that the failure rate of that nuke plant you want to build on the other side of town is 1 big failure/75 years per 100 plants and they'll be out petitioning before the ink is dry on the required notice that you've applied for a permit!

On the other hand, the middle-class is frequently clueless about when the best policy is to take a risk.

218:

I'm not a safety analyst. But maybe that should have been my career. :)

220:

Watts Bar 2 was completed about a year ago after being mothballed back in the 90s and is now generating 1100MW of non-fossil-carbon electricity. Summer and Vogtle are each getting a pair of new-build AP-1000 reactors, completion due about 2020 or 2021. They appear to be pretty much on schedule, don't know how the financials are working out for them.

I know that another mothballed reactor project in Alabama has been purchased by a group looking to finish it and bring it into production but it's still a crapshoot whether it completes and starts working commercially.

221:

Like I said, I didn't look. I'm beginning to lose the love for this discussion because I keep getting slammed into the "anti-nuke" box. I've got no problem with nukes as long as there have been major improvements in their safety.

222:

Probably just as well, since your definition of "an accident" seems to include "deliberately over-riding all safety devices", and don't say "make better safety devices" because that just makes the idiots more ingenious.

223:

There have been major improvements in the safety of existing and new-build reactors even though they were incredibly safe to start with compared to the alternatives. There is no possible level of reactor safety that you will accept, basically. This attitude is sadly quite common and because of that coal gets a pass pretty much everywhere.

224:

No, they have something to do with it. They're fear-driven misdiagnosis. Thyroid cancer is never screened for.

You check for it if a patient has a bunch of symptoms of thyroid failure, never without because the rate of false positives is far to high if you do. This is the case under normal circumstances where doctors have no particular reason to expect thyroid cancer. - Thyroid glands have huge variability, and it's very, very easy to go "TUMOR!" when it's just odd. Even experts do it, and you can't really put those glands back in after you cut them out for no good reason.

Japan instituted a screening of people from the affected areas despite this. Which was dire health-policy malpractice. If you tell a doctor you want him or her to screen a thousand people for thyroid cancer and, oh hey, they just got evacuated from a nuclear exclusion zone, it doesn't matter if the people screened *had* a health problem, at the end of the day a bunch of them are going to be missing their thyroid glands, and you have zero information on whether there actually ever was a problem other than the screening.

To actually diagnose an increase in cancer in this situation, you would have to double blind the screening - bus in ringers from another province and make sure the doctors don't know which patients are from the zone. That was not done.

225:

As a matter of interest, and to help me in assessing another program entirely, what sort of rate of false positives would you expect were you to "screen for thyroid cancers" without double blinding the screening?

226:

Thyroid cancer is never screened for. You check for it if a patient has a bunch of symptoms of thyroid failure

On the bright side, if you're going to get a cancer, AIUI get thyroid cancer. Slow and treatable.

The surgeon who cut the large lump out of my beloved's neck literally wrote the NHS book on the subject (yay, the NHS) and she's on levothyroxine for the rest of her life. Otherwise, no noticeable impact (less the scar on her throat).

227:

.. Scary high? If I could put decent numbers on it, I'd not be asking for a double blind. The limit to how bad it could get is mainly the accuracy of a biopsy test, but.. those aren't really satisfactorily accurate.

228:

Something like half the population has nodules in the thyroid. A thin-needle biopsy is has a false positive rate of up to 8% So the upper bound on how fucked this could get is that 4 % of the screened people get a cancer scare and potentially unnecessary treatment.

229:

I think I'm done with this discussion. You've just demonstrated perfectly why the problem with nuclear energy is nuclear advocates rather than nuclear technology.

The technology can be fixed. I have no doubt about that. (Maybe it already has been fixed.) But people with the attitude of "I will acknowledge no wrongs and no problems" can't be fixed, and it's that attitude rather than (fixable) problems with the technology that is killing nuclear.

If you want to sell someone on nuclear technology after Fukushima, and in the face or solar, wind, tidal. etc. you need to acknowledge all the problems, even the tiny, picky fiddly bits, and demonstrate how you'll fix them. Then build a prototype and give a demonstration of Nuke Plant 2.0 (or 2.1 if you're smart.)

Continually whining about coal and claiming that current designs are perfect sounds an awful lot like "the check's in the mail" or "communism is perfect. It simply has never been implemented properly."

230:

I never said they're perfect. They just don't slaughter people like the alternative, coal.

231:

Bad practices are bad practices regardless. I have no problem with your critique of how the Japanese handled this, (unless you misunderstood something and the Japanese government intends to do biopsies at five-year intervals, which might make pretty good sense.)

232:

So the key thing learned from Fukushima is that you need a plan for what happens after the disaster you didn't budget for. All the Japanese reactors successfully scrammed, which proves the reactor design was good. Problem was the tsunami took out the backup generators, and left them with too little time to recover. A similar event could easily have happened inland, with a landslide doing the same damage. The location on the coast wasn't the major issue, the cooling failure was.

So a new design needs to fail gracefully, if a little hot, under the expectation that the generators are gone. If it can't, then you have to have redundancy and resilience built into the site to protect the crucial cooling systems.

I also like the idea mentioned above of buying some heavy machinery and storing it conveniently near each site in case of a disaster, then training a specialist team to get in and use it as needed. There are staffing issues if more than one plant goes down at once, but life is a trade off. All power plants are built and run by private companies. Running things close to the bone is what capitalism is all about. Moderating that is what governments should be about. The big difference with nuclear is their incidental costs are known upfront, the coal and gas ones are quietly ignored.

233:

The big difference with nuclear is their incidental costs are known upfront, the coal and gas ones are quietly ignored

Yes and no, there's quite a lot of information about coal mine fires if you look for it, and they get media coverage from time to time. Speaking of uninhabitable, how's the fire in Centralia, USA going? They've evacuated the town with no idea when or if the area will ever be habitable again because the fire is still there and every now and then a bit of surface drops into it.

I think AGW is less "quietly ignored" and more "desperately try to pretend it's not happening". It's like when you don't clean the toilet for a few weeks. It gets manky, so you don't clean it some more. After a few years it's a major toxic waste site and it's easier just to board up that room and pretend it doesn't exist. Averting major climate change is like that, except we should have started in the 1970s. 40 years later... "eeeeww, gross" doesn't even start to describe the problem.

234:

So these accidents took place 37 and 30 years ago respectively. I'm pretty sure nuclear site operators today have learned the lessons from those accidents. Anything that goes wrong this year is almost certainly going to be different.

The problem will be when the engineers, managers, and regulators who lived through those times retire (or are replaced). As a society we aren't terribly good at learning from procedural mistakes made before our time. Look at dismantling financial regulations, for example. Or dismantling unions.

Yes, there's people who want those outcomes. But enough of society doesn't remember why the safety regulations are there that no one fights them. Just as every financial bubble is "different than the last time", every big industrial accident is too — and our record isn't good on holding companies (and their directors) to task for screwups.

235:

After further reflection, I think the answer about nukes and Global Warming is best found by looking at the question of what people believe and how you change opinions.

The important question is this: How many big ideas do you want to change at once? One big idea - and we're having plenty of trouble conveying just one idea - is "Climate Change exists and will kill billions if not stopped." We're facing a big propaganda push against what climate scientists consider a basic fact, and the push won't stop until we've killed their ideas (or they've killed ours.)

Another big idea to be fought over is "We've solved all the problems with nuclear... you know, that same technology that caused Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima, so let's use nuke plants to replace those horrible coal plants and fix global warming." Can anyone think of a better way to anger the political left?

So, do we want to fight on one front against the right, while simultaneously opening another front against the left (our allies,) such that our fights against both the right and the left are attempts to solve the problem of Climate Change by fighting both political blocs at once!

At some point things will change. After we've lost Florida we'll see a WWII-level effort to fight Climate Change and the nuclear people will certainly get a seat at the table. Until then, if you want to kill coal, don't mention nukes.

236:

The problem will be when the engineers, managers, and regulators who lived through those times retire (or are replaced). As a society we aren't terribly good at learning from procedural mistakes made before our time.

Yes and no. My father and others were talking about how after TMI a lot of control rooms were changed so that alarms were staged and displays better arranged so when something did go wrong you were not staring at a 10 ring circus of clown cars all on fire.

He was one of the production managers at a gaseous diffusion plant and said it took a while to move from analog gauges to computerized readouts. With the analog you could look at a door sized panel covered with analog gauges and quickly tell what was up with a stage. And there were 24 (or 48?) stages in a building. They learned the patterns. With digital all they had at first was a wall of numbers. Later they got back analog indicators with numbers for exactness when needed.

My point is those lessons were learned and now are a part of plan control system companies.

237:

I want nothing that's going to generate radioactive waste that's going to sit in decaying 55gal drums in a pond.... Don't talk to me about nuclear until you can point to a location and say here, and we have all the licensees and permits to store it forever.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), wikipedia has an article. Nuke waste stored in a subterranean salt layer that's been stable for a half billion years, salt crystal structure under pressure deforms plasticly around material put in to it so that chambers excavated a few years ago now have walls visibly bulging in, eventually it all gets encased like flies in amber.

238:

Like some utter-rethuglican US states have banned any restriction or tax on plastic-bag use
( Look it up )
Do these people actively WANT to destroy their own environment & if so, why?
What's wrong with their brains/

239:

OOPS - pressed "send" too soon:
After we've lost Florida - you did see that bit about Miami Beach raising all its streets & installing big pumps etc etc - whilst voting Republican - which states that GW is a hoax & sea-level rise isn't happening?

Um, err .....

240:

What effects do you guys think this route will have?

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-03/china-starts-freight-train-to-london-as-xi-promotes-trade-ties

juli 2017
Due to an unfortunate mix-up at a chinese rail yard 3 containers filled with a short lived biological weapon end up in Brussel, Paris and Berlin which results in the deaths of the members of the euro parliament and the german and french parliaments. In the ensuing political chaos the pope calls upon his rather huge pool of devout polish followers to take up weapons and restore peace, order and christianity in Europe. After the first 100,000 public beheadings across the continent christianity becomes a very popular religion indeed.

241:

Due to an unfortunate mix-up at a chinese rail yard 3 containers filled with a short lived biological weapon end up in Brussels, Paris and Berlin Which turns out to be life imitating the film starring Jackie Chan, Wesley Snipes, Nicolas Cage and Milla Jovovich (together at last!) released only the month before. Where they have only 17 days to try and stop a runaway China-Europe express and it's deadly cargo. Also starring Eddie Marsan as the Russian premiere.

242:

So if you say 4% false positives is unacceptable, how would you feel about a test where the rate of false positives is more like 20%?

243:

Do these people actively WANT to destroy their own environment & if so, why?

Yes, yes they do.

It's because denying certain inconvenient facts has become a touchstone of tribal loyalty; evolution is a sham, climate change isn't happening, and so on. It's not about the facts, it's about who you identify yourself as being, and to admit the facts would be to undermine their sense of self.

See also coal rollers. (Seriously Greg, click that link.) You can't make this shit up!

244:

The acceptable false positive rate depends on the base probability of the thing you are testing for, the availability of further tests to verify, and the consequences of both missing the problem and of seeing a problem where there isn't one. I the case of thyroids.. well, it's a rare cancer, unnecessary treatment has a significant quality of life cost, and catching it early doesn't move the survival rate in any statistically signficant way. So no tests until it's obviously needed. A 20% false positive rate that causes you to give people oh, I dunno, a bottle of prussian blue and orders to take one every three days when they didn't really need to do that on the other hand? Would be acceptable.

245:

In other words, it's become a religious belief, effectively, & thus impervious to anything other than brute physical force.

Assuming that there is an election in 2020 & that the R's are thrown out ( Which is why I'm predicting no 2020 election, of course ) then their backlash against the real actual proper environmental legislation that will follow, will make lief - interesting &, being the USA also brief for some ....

246:

In other words, it's become a religious belief, effectively, & thus impervious to anything other than brute physical force.

Correct.

A large minority of the US population hold a belief system that is at odds with reality, and it's self-reinforcing in exactly the same way as religious fundamentalism.

The religious fundamentalists overlap with the conservative denialists; it's not a 100% overlap by a long way, though. And a lot of the people who think of themselves as "Christian" in the US are actually fully invested in an all-American folk religion that has as much to do with established Christian doctrine as Da'esh have to do with the family who run your local corner shop.

247:

Yup
..... folk religion that has as much to do with established Christian doctrine as Da'esh have to do with the family who run your local corner shop.
And, as always, with religions, telling the difference between the first, who are a menace & the ssecond who are harmless loonies is something of a problem ....

248:

Cheers; I'm not in medicine, and would normally consider 1% false positives totally unacceptable, and the same for 0.1% false negatives.

249:

It's not really credible, looked at from an American point of view, that the follow-on administration will change much of anything.

The problem is that there's no left wing at all in American government: a significant portion of the actual public hold left-wing views, but the political establishment doesn't get farther left than neoliberal corporatism.

The Democratic party is firmly conservative, but holds the position in public perception as a left wing party, because the right-wing religion designates them as such. Actual leftists (or even centrists) are massively suppressed and basically considered lunatics and traitors. This system has its roots in generations of hard work on the part of right wing media, as well as talk radio nutjobs, and isn't going away. If you've ever tried to talk politics with an American wingnut, it should be obvious that you're speaking with a religious fanatic, not holding a real discussion.

This is also why the talk of repealing the 19th and bringing back chattel slavery isn't credible, though: those things might be acceptable to some fundamentalists and Nazis, but they aren't compatible with the right-wing religious identity.

What IS compatible is anti-immigrant (especially Muslim) hatred, and essentially any level of outright attack on poor people in general (but minorities in particular).

Instead of chattel slavery, expect debtors prisons and indentured servitude loosely disguised as criminal punishment. Instead of attacking suffrage, expect brutal economic punishment of single mothers.

In other words, basically how America works already, but more so.

250:

We're in the kind of post-factual world all the intellectuals who survived WWII warned us about. There's no authoritative clearinghouse of facts both sides can agree on. If 97% of climate scientists tell me I'm wrong, I say 97% of 'em are on the take from Big Patchouli!

Germany is cracking down on fake news like this.

http://www.br.de/nachrichten/oberbayern/inhalt/facebook-falschmeldung-vergewaltigung-100.html

Once again, a false message has appeared in the social media. It is alleged that an asylum seeker has raped a girl in Mühldorf am Inn. According to police is absolutely nothing at the message.

The message was spread on Facebook. An asylum seeker had massively raped a girl in Mühldorf am Inn. Supposedly the hospital staff had received instructions that the information should not reach the press.

My new favorite German word: falschmeldung! False message or hoax.

Bavarian police are going after the perpetrators now. The big question I have is how do we judge news to be fake? Who passes judgement? It's clear in a case like this, false reporting, no evidence. But I live in Florida and Governor Voldemort banned all mention of global warming by government employees. Can he declare newspapers reporting on this fake, too? Are we going to end up like Erdogan jailing people for cheeky facebook posts?

The moment reasonable people started complaining about fake news the monkeys threw their feces and declared our sources fake, too.

251:

And they'll choose all the wrong answers, again, it won't work, again and they'll blame some straw man or other, again. No alternative will be permitted until the wheels incontrovertibly come off.

252:

Nojay writes: The deep borehole projects being mooted are going four or five kilometres down, way way WAY deeper than oil and gas bores or fracking drills, way below any water tables and deep into homogenous rock.
...
Sorry, Nojay, but they've been drilling oil and gas wells deeper than that for years. A quick google got me this, from 2011:
Excerpt:
On Sakhalin Island, in Russia's far east, temperatures can fall to 35 degrees below zero. Many islanders herd reindeer. And in January, oil crews drilled the world's longest and deepest extended-reach well, 7.7 miles down into the ground and 7.1 miles out under the ocean. Seven of the 10 longest oil wells on Earth have been drilled there since Exxon Mobil launched its Sakhalin-1 project in 2003. Crews expect to keep breaking their previous records in the coming months.
--- end excerpt ---

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-06/end-earth-longest-deepest-oil-wells-world

253:

About space-based powersats - in the early eighties, at a PSFS meeting, we had a speaker about powersats, and he told us *then* that they'd already done the Environmental Impact Statements, and only needed money. The power being beamed down, IIRC, was around 1W? 10W per m^2, and would not cook the birds or the cattle (irregardless of "Home on LaGrange".... )

mark

254:

It's about how people do insecurity management.

Any doctrine has the strong advantages of simplicity and social reinforcement; it will handle an actual emergency really badly, but until then, you get a reassuringly stable hierarchy and not needing to spend much time or effort -- which you very probably do not have -- thinking about things. It's especially useful if you're in a miserable situation you (perceive as one which you) cannot change.

Facts, well, facts are hard; facts are independent of any specific person's head. It's hard work, hardly anyone has time, the rules are blatantly unfair in terms of primate fairness expectations, and the answers are frequently things like "welp, everybody's going to be much poorer for the next hundred years" and people simple won't accept those answers; they really do prefer eventual mass death to present loss of relative social status, it's not a mistake.

My take on it is that the human species is extinct by 2100 because efforts to cripple public education systems so hardly anyone -- statistically no one -- derives emotionally meaningful information from a graph were successful, and that was mostly a side effect of naked racism. I know there are people out there who think this is funny. I'm not one of them.

255:

"The wheels coming off" as you say is no guarantee of change, or really even a good indicator of such.

When you live in a post-factual environment where reality is decided by ideology, there's really no short-term way for any level of turmoil to bring about change for the better. If anything, it just creates the sort of chaos that authoritarian types are good at utilizing to their ends as people become dominated by fear.

For example, people deny global warming now by saying it isn't happening at all: every time it snows, that's proof that it's all lies. But there's already a backup plan too: it's all natural causes, nothing we did.

Give it fifty years, and the backup cause will be primary, with a new backup reason sitting in the wings: the climate was ALWAYS like this. There was never a time when things were different, that's all liberal lies from those evil "scientist" elites.

Plus, things are really bad: food security is gone, there are wars everywhere, refugees... What we must have is a *strong leader*, someone who takes *decisive action* and isn't bothered by the pathetic cooing and soft-talk of those liberal elites in the universities.

It's a self-perpetuating ideology. The only solution is for sane people to fight against it and win, not to hope that crazy people will get religion. They already have one.

256:

True, the true believers will also be convinced that the Obama administration was liberal, so that's been tried, mostly, not in their lifetime, but, beliefs. Concerning climate doubters, the time between a carbon reduction and a perceptible climate improvement is too long for most attention spans, the transition needs to be sold differently, and the environmental impact of coal could be a powerful argument, as could the prospect of a reduction of influence for OPEC. In a more equitable economy, most of the alt rights arguments would lose force, as it's more difficult to hate on a full stomach, change is less scary if one can afford it. Social Darwinism must go, than many things become possible.

257:

Florida is a big place.
Population 20 mil, land area 170000km2

UK
Population 65 mil, land area 242000km2

Does all of UK vote and think alike?

258:

The city of Miami and surrounding areas are making plans for dealing with rising water. Northern half of state is pissed at them.

259:

"I understand the sentiment (you have a lot of company BTW), but it is likely that if the Republicans make a move on Medicare (unlikely IMO) it will leave benefits for current beneficiaries untouched, so the pool of severely affected people might be limited, to e.g people who get hit by the gap if the eligibility age is moved up. So I expect that this will need to be fought in the political area, with all available tactics, including tactics that are hard and ugly and sharp and mean and nasty."

--However, grandfathering the already aged into the Medicare program won't save enough money for all those tax cuts for the rich or for military expansion. Trump is also talking about privatizing the VA, for those already in the system. Ryan's current proposal talks about some sort of choice--but if the Medicare system for those already in it is made less attractive to heath care providers, the choice may not be much of one.

Here's another scenario--insurance companies are banned from dropping people just because they come down with something expensive, but that's part of the ACA which is likely to be repealed at some point this coming year, and I suggest that its replacement, if any, will not contain that unwelcome provision (it was legal prior to the ACA, and yes, companies actually did that with individual policies. Some people have been fired from their jobs for being too expensive on group policies as well). The Medicare vouchers are presumably to buy policies on the open market, which the insurance companies will want to avoid issuing save at a very beneficial cost ratio. There may well be people who bought individual policies who may be dropped as soon as repeal occurs, or allowed to pay overpriced premiums and then dropped as soon as they become ill with something expensive. These people may be able to figure out who the author of their death sentence might be...

260:

It doesn't help that at least some voices in the environmental movement has this weird pastoralist / austerity / back - to - the land narrative going. *I'd* sooner die than try and live by agriculture without mechanization. But that's a future people hear about and they turns them right off. Same with carrying capacity arguments.

That entire narrative is, of course, wrong. There is absolutely nothing prohibiting mankind from adopting a full-recycling industrial society of nearly arbitrary levels of wealth. It's all atoms and energy - the atoms can be reused until the end of time and energy is not actually scarce. We have to actually expend effort to get there tough - it'll not happen fast enough without policy to stop various quite severe disasters.

I *don't* expect climate change to kill us off. The wars it spawns? Maybe. That could happen. People escalating to parts of the arsenals that should never be unleashed. But the climate on it's own recognizance without a helping hand from the horsemen of war? No. We're at the point where industrial society would likely persist right through everything short of earth turning into venus - It would be expensive to secure food production with no reference to weather.. but not expensive enough to make it impossible. So the worse case senario I'm operating with is that billions die and all the survivors get used to living on hydropondic produce. That's well worth preventing.

261:

"Fake News" ?
Anyone who claims at evolution is false?
Could be great fun!

/sn(a)rk
( I needed a laugh at this point ...

262:

Epistemology is hard. We're currently failing really hard at dealing with the information revolution and how it permits the shaping of world views. In particular, people have stopped paying for accurate information sources, and instead are consuming whatever someone wants to fund putting in front of their eyeballs.

I am.. not actually sure how to fix this. I mean, in terms of necessary budget, it's nothing. Running news services of record could be carved out of the intelligence service funding, and that would make sense, because a it's right smack in the middle of the proper function of that entire idea.. but that means the main source of information is the government, and creating an institution that won't be either subverted for disinformation purposes or starved by funding cuts is... A tall ask.

263:

Well, we _can't_ live by agriculture without mechanization; there are way too many of us. (My childhood involved such entertaining learning experiences as chopping wood and using a scythe. And harnessing horses, and arguing with sheep, and well, I'm not a crazed pastoralist back-to-the-land sweat-is-virtue sort. My sibs both got the farmer gene and I didn't, which might have something to do with it.)

A full-recycling industrial society is impossible without a different economy, which the preponderance of power opposes, and will always oppose. The lack of a technical barrier isn't the problem, it's organizational, which is especially nasty because getting a revolution to enact a new form of economic organization *and* a new form of social organization probably isn't possible. (What usually happens involves a marcher state and elites making a mistake.)

Agriculture is way more fragile than I think most people realize; it wouldn't take much more than 2012 four times in a row to be a very serious problem, and all the paleoclimate work says you can get much, much worse than that for a couple decades, easy. The question is how soon we hit it. I don't see how anyone could possibly secure food production with no reference to weather; I don't see how anything industrial can keep going with the kind of skills loss the population truncation would involve, either.

264:

Increasing insecurity increases money flow (that's what advertising does) *AND* social predictability. That drives a really powerful feedback to keep increasing people's insecurity right up until things come unstuck.

I suspect a major problem right now is that "accurate" is "creates more insecurity"; the response is "give me a familiar narrative that fundamentally reassures me I'm upset enough but that nothing of true significance has changed". (Which is why Obama was such a problem; there wasn't any way to make a black president not have true significance.)

"How much insecurity is too much, how do we measure it, and how do we add a feedback to keep it no higher than less than too much" is a harder problem than setting interest rates and that one's clearly not solved. (I think that one could be by using different financial mechanisms than interest.)

I think this might be a "takes an AI" problem; automated filtering on the basis of factually well-supported. Tricky (though apparently you can just-math bias out of some current AI mechanisms) but I think it could be done.

265:

Greenhouses and hydroponics are very, very productive, and desalination is cheap is how. Also, there are brute force options for producing calories in emergencies - It is for example nearly trivial to synthesize food-grade sugar from cellulose in bulk.

266:

In other words, it's become a religious belief, effectively, & thus impervious to anything other than brute physical force.
Pushing back a little on this. There is no scripture for climate change denial, just a bunch of absurd talking points that can be changed at the will of the people who generate and distribute them, and also argued at the interpersonal level. (I get uncharacteristically rude and sciencey when somebody uses such talking points.)
Optimistic take:
I expect that the shift will be from denial to hmmm to "we can fix this, let's get rich doing geoengineering!!! What will annoy liberals most? Nuclear-powered atmosphere scrubbers? GMO-based carbon capture?", with a side of "OK, probably it's optimal to spew fewer gigatons of GHGs, hmm, what will most annoy liberals, nuclear power it is."
Just some illustrative examples not carefully selected for plausibility. With my Trump-voting friends/acquaintances, none remain in the pure "denial" state; all are in the "hmmm" or scared state.
Also, I'm expecting panic about climate change to hit an electoral-significance threshold soon in the US, e.g. 2017 or 2018. The raw info material will be available (e.g. Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph(click show all on right) and worse), the US press will be feistier due to Trump, and activists might become more effective.

267:

Here's another scenario--insurance companies are banned from dropping people just because they come down with something expensive, but that's part of the ACA which is likely to be repealed at some point this coming year

As with most ways in which the insane American system crushes people, this is both true and not true.

It's not exactly true that insurance companies were allowed to drop people as soon as they started using their insurance: this was indeed banned in a de jure sense, since obviously it wouldn't be insurance at all if this was the case.

Instead, what insurance companies were allowed to do was go over a person's medical history, and look for anything, no matter how small, that they'd forgotten to disclose in triplicate when they signed up for insurance.

So for example, you have breast cancer? If only you had some personal responsibility and hadn't deceived the poor blameless insurance company by forgetting to mark down that you had an acne diagnosis once, then the fine folks in the insurance company rescission division would be more than happy to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to help. [1]

But you're a terrible person and basically a criminal, so die already.

Notice how helpful this scenario is for dead-eyed authoritarian types? The insurance company is never in the wrong: it's always your fault that your life is so terrible and short.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/16/health.care.hearing/

268:

“The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.”

― Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon

269:

The Personal is Political C. Hanish

If even Storm Front have forum posts on this topic, you're kinda behind the times when you still have faith in your system to actually change things.

But, fuck it, right?

"ObamaCare" (actually Mitt Romney Care) is too radical for your times.

~


You want to know how to change things?

Start by burning registries and data-banks then move onto their homes until the message is clear.

271:

I know the chemistry in this is either not fully explained or dodgy, and the process probably carries externalities that were omitted from the article. Still, if it is economically viable...

272:

Read Eric Fagan
Especially: "The Little Ice Age"

Yeah, the ghastly non-summer of 1215, followed by 3-5 almost-as-bad years.
The decline of French as opposed to Brit agriculture, 1685-1792.
etc.

273:

Greenhouse & Hydroponics are, however, labour-intensive, as well.
Both in tending the plants & maintaining the infrastructure.

As you imply, if done properly, it's worth it.
If I didn't have a just frost-free greenhouse attached to my house & an unheated one, built from scrounged bits one on my allotment plot, I would be eating both less well & (from my p.o.v.) considerably less variedly than otherwise.

274:

You are assuming that Pence & the Kochs won't simply do their best to suppress & deny all this (as they are doing at present) & attack all who tell the truth ....
A tad optimistic methinks.

Of course, making a profit from a cleaner environment is already here ( Musk ) ...It doesn't seem to have stopped the polluters, does it?

Also, at the personal level ... I'm probably going to have to change the power-plant in my old Land-Rover ( 1996 diesel) but ... with what - there are NO alternatives at present & I've probably got 3 years, maximum.
Multiply that across the spectrum.

275:

If true, then "just in time" ??

276:

To misquote another commenter, "Time, Space and Scale: You're not good at them.". Quite apart from the usual rotten science journalism, this Indian Soda Ash production system may be a good business. But it won't put even the smallest dent in 10GtC/Yr or the #terafart of 1TtC of the remaining, easily accessible fossil carbon just waiting to be chucked into the air.

277:

Greenhouses and hydroponics are very, very productive, and desalination is cheap is how.

Unfortunately it takes time, capital, and — worst of all — suitable land in order to roll out intensive factory farming systems like that. (It also takes energy, but let's hand-wave that away for now.)

The problem is that the lead time to build a new hydroponic food factory is probably measured in years — single-digit years to be charitable, double-digit months if we're going to be realistic — and as Graydon noted, four really bad crop years in a row are all the notice we're going to get that we're living in an existential crisis. But we won't get that. Instead, we'll get the odd bad year here or there, then they'll come closer together ... but never consecutively at first, so the likely return on investment for the intensive technical farming start-ups will be marginal at best (the profits being wiped out by every year in which the climate doesn't destabilize).

Also, land being turned into intensive farms is probably land that is already under cultivation using traditional methods. Converting land use during a crisis is going to make the crisis more acute, in the short term.

278:

I was actually quite surprised at just how many large greenhouse farms were in Iceland on a recent visit. Careful situation near geothermal was key - heating was a waste product from the power generation, which was small scale geothermal located adjacent. Mostly they stuck them in sheltered valleys, with the ones in the open having large berms alongside - presumably to avoid too much damage to the glass from flying debris - the wind was pretty ferocious.
I don't know how self sufficient they are, but with their small population I wouldn't be surprised if it was close, and I expect it is fairly competitive pricewise with shipping fresh foodstuffs from Denmark.

279:

Eh, the first part of this strategy - uncoupling portable water from rainfall via desalination - is so blatantly profitable today that it kind of makes me loose faith in capitalism it isn't happening on a much larger scale already. The prices places like urban California pays for water are absurd. It's supposed to be an entrepreneurial culture, and they don't look at their water bill, then look at the ocean and go "Wait-a-minute.."? Not to mention the middle east, where countries with shorelines are falling apart due to water shortages. Which is just inexcusable.
So yhea, we might have a future reaping coming, which will kill everyone that fails to grasp the importance of solving those problems that can be solved by building things by building things. That's not going to do in the entire planet. A lot of people, but not everyone.

280:

Think about how economic insecurity in the working class prolongs the use of older, wasteful, if not outright toxic technology. So, do the .001% get that much mileage from the contrast, or have they found a way to tap into suffering... oh, wait, that was the whole point of privatization.

281:

You mean like how Greg and myself (to name but 2) drive "older cars" rather than getting a new one on contract hire every 2 or 3 years and using several times the energy on having that new one built that our "old one" has used since first registration?

282:

There's also the point that there is NO REPLACEMENT AT ALL for my car... [ note ]
So, I will, almost certainly, need an engine-transplant.
As well as the highly "economic" point raised by Paws, that it's much less polluting in the larger sphere to keep the one I've already got.

But, I live in London, it's an old diesel so by definition EVIL, etc ....
The fact that most people are stupid enough to replace their cars every 5 years is irrelevant.

note: Can (not at the same time) carry up to 10 passengers, carry 15 bags of horse-manure, carry almost anything & without having to hire a van, & I can do 90% of my own maintenance, & doesn't need a tarmac road.
Um er .....

283:

Wasn't specifically thinking of cars (Mine is 11 years old), more like pilot ignition forced air heating, but, now you mention it. really old stuff like carburretor equipped gasoline cars, or older diesels that roll coal by design.

284:

And I would never have thought of "forced air heating" because I don't know anyone who has it.

285:

Unit construction and indépendant suspension aren't the end of the world...
Wouldn't an engine transplant approach the price of a similarly antiquated Land Rover that already had a gasoline engine? You're looking at not only the engine, but also the fuel tank & associated plumbing, ECC box, much of the wiring harness and instrument panel. About the same labor and expense as adding a more or less contemporary electronically controlled engine to a 50 year old death trap.
More sensible to attempt a swap with someone that isn't facing a ban.

287:

I'm not sure whether Greg has a Series or a Coilie, but either way he's clearly got an LWB, and even giving up the 4WD he still needs a minibus to meet the 10 seats plus respectable cargo volume requirement. I haven't seen a petrol minibus other than LWB V8 Coilies in over 20 years.

288:

I'm in Southern California. One of my hopes is to move a couple thousand miles further north, preferably to a higher elevation. and set up some kind of community designed to survive Global Warming. (I want a couple decades of head start at least) One of the problems I've been contemplating is exactly what you're talking about; the variability of climate, both in terms of rain and temperature, before things settle into a new equilibrium. Obviously it would be necessary to farm, but how do you do that when the climate might be tropical one year and cold, plus semi-arid the next?

289:

1996 LWB "County" 300Tdi engine coil springs, IFS, discs all round transmission handbrake.
Other advantages - built like a brick shitouse ( "Crumple zone are other people's cars" ) very tall, with very good view, so inherently a "safe" vehicle, particularly as the permanent 4WD does give an amazing grip on the road, or any other surface ....

Also, it's worth at least as much, now, as when I bought it - they are not depreciating, so as you'd notice(!)

Try this link:

290:

Is there a hope of finding someone with a gas burning version that wishes they'd checked the diesel box?

291:

Can you legally convert it to bio-diesel?

292:

You get a cheer from me - I used to have a SWB '78 Series 3. Lost one seat to a LPG tank to make it a bit more economical, but loads of fun, (relatively) comfortably fit six, went anywhere, could park anywhere. Totally agree about the view, and who needs a heater when you have an engine and a firewall?

Must be a right pain in the backside manoeuvring something that size around London though.

293:

About global warming denial - for some of them, maybe a lot of them, it really *is* religious. I used to see this woman most days on the Metro, going into work, and we started talking. One of the last times (she may have moved to another job) we spoke, we got into global warming, she's a librarian... and she literally told me that she didn't believe that God would give us enough power to affect the world's climate.

Btw, everyone see the news today, that a new study confirms the database chances in the last major NOAA study, and there was no "pause" in global warming?

294:

And about the US money-gathering, sorry, medical insurance industry and the ACA.... There *was* outright denial before. And here's my hard evidence: I spent the first half of '01 in chemo. In '02, out of work and on COBRA, I was looking for cheaper medical insurance. Living in Chicago at the time, I called Blue Cross/Blue Shield of IL, and was told, on a "may be recorded for quality control" phone call, and I quote, not paraphrase, "There's no company in the US who will insure you [other than through work,] in any less than five years after the end of chemo."

That's right, if I wasn't on COBRA, or through an employer, I COULD NOT BUY MEDICAL INSURANCE IN THE US.

295:

Somewhat. In the sense that I do a google sweep every six months on whats happening with a list of technologies, including desal. The middle east is doing *some* desal. The more functional parts. But.. they could be having an agricultural "Make the fertile cresent bloom" revival if they were serious about it. They're situated on a very high-quality solar resource and land that is useless (and thus cheap) without water. Put the two together, and it's a money and food machine. But Egypt is importing food. That's just wrong.
Israel is operating on a saneish scale.

Re:Troux: You can't. Not with a small community - to harden food supply, you need an industrial supply chain. If you're serious, however, and can get both people and some funds together.. go to the Sonoran desert, lay down lots of solar, and start an agricultural coop using this stunt: http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/technology.html
As long as you build everything to not fall apart in the first storm, and plan on scaling up..

Uhm. Aircon not optional.

296:

You were on Cabinet Office Briefing Room Alpha?

297:

No

It's the particulate emission in particular.
I MIGHT be able to put the Rover V8 burning LPG into it, but - fiddly & finding LPG stations is not too easy.
I'm hoping that series electric with small petrol engine might be available by then, maybe.
Or try for an exemption as there are so few of them.

[ This last has to be done for L-R's all-too-often as the legislators seem to forget these weird vehicles that are both private cars &/or buses &/or commercial vehicles & don't fit any of the standard "boxes" - I have to have a "Bus" licence to drive it - which I do, because I passed my test in 1963/4...
It's complicated .... ]

Mayhem @ 292
I do not drive IN to "town" & everybody gives me a wide berth - I wonder why that might be?
Oh & the heater works on those, if you set the controls "just so" & get the bubbles out of the top of the water-system.

P.S. That photo - over 3 miles to the nearest tarmac, behind me & about 5 or 6 in front ...

298:

Nothing in Iceland is self-sufficient; it can't be. There's only 300,000 of them or so. Whole huge industries they can't have.

All the plumbing has to be imported. This is way more economic than importing food, but going off fossil carbon -- as we truly, utterly must -- puts an awful dent in either the price model for the greenhouse or the availability of the tanks, pumps, and tubing, or (very likely) both.

299:

You can't.

That's the whole problem.

Given a lot of land area, you can plant for every range of plausible outcome, but this presumes that you have the stuff to plant (not a given; current seed production is heavily optimized for a climate range, and the year they get that wrong is going to be a memorable year indeed) and the land area per person. Upping the arable land required per person by a factor of five runs into "there isn't that much arable land" problems. Yield improvements are hard to get. Yield improvements when the climate is going wonky are not plausible expectations. Multi-year food storage is just upping the arable land requirement in a different way.

300:

I see the problem, my bad.

What you say is correct, but they're not doing it for a very simple reason: there's no reason for them to do it. If the Saudi's had built what you propose in the 1990's despite the fact that it would have been cheaper to import it from the US, they would not have really protected themselves as of 2010. In other words, 1990-2010 wouldn't have turned out very much differently for them.

Note that growing grain by extracting groundwater is cheaper, so they depleted their aquifers.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/economy/2014/12/11/KSA-to-stop-wheat-production-by-2016.html

Not everyone plans for long term low-probability high-consequence event. More and more I'm starting to see that as a specific mindset as opposed to something innate in all humans. It could also partly explain the success climate deniers have had in the US.

301:

Assuming you're serious: COBRA is a mechanism for employees to continue their employer based insurance for a time after leaving employment with said company. One has to pay the full rate for the insurance; so you won't get the benefit of any subsidy your employer might have provided.

302:

Steel production per metric tonne via electricity: 440 kwh. (the mines are often as not electric anyway, because it saves on ventilation) Cost of solar electric in a greater than 2000 wh/m2 insulation location (equatorial desert), what, 5 cents? so.. 20 dollars per tonne. = Utter non-problem. If you don't like shipping all the ore off to Morocco for processing, running the whole process of nuclear electricity still doesn't make steel significantly more expensive.

We're not dependent on fossil fuels -we're dependent on energy inputs. Those are not actually scarce. Just about everything can be replaced by sufficient amounts of electrons, and sufficient amounts of electrons can be produced without coal.

303:

Low-probability events are one thing - it can be perfectly rational to just go "Preparing for all of them is going to cost more than just doing damage control after the fact on the ones that actually happen". It's failing to do policy to deal with distant certainties that drives me nuts. If it's going to happen and you can see it coming, do something now.

304:

"That photo - over 3 miles to the nearest tarmac, behind me & about 5 or 6 in front ..."

Walna Scar Road?

I'd suspect a Rover V8 might be your best bet, but I'm not entirely clear what the problem is: why not simply rebuild the existing engine, if it is worn out? Or is it some London thing?

305:

And yet even in the scenario where the insurance company can pass off responsibility, it's quite likely that some enraged person with a death sentence out of all of those being told 'sucks to be you' may well decide to take some action towards those who made this possible. Or perhaps a relative of a person who has failed the new, improved death panel. You would think a would-be dictator or group thereof would realize that encouraging poor people to accumulate weapons might someday backfire on them, but apparently not. Not that I am advocating any such action, I hasten to say.

However, consider it an extreme downside of privatizing the VA. A lot of those veterans have some *interesting* souvenirs.

306:

However, consider it an extreme downside of privatizing the VA. A lot of those veterans have some *interesting* souvenirs.

I think you're misunderstanding how privatization works. Aside from some new bureaucratic difficulty in receiving care (instead of the existing bureaucratic difficulty) there's no reason that people on a newly privatized VA or Medicare system will receive worse care, or that the care will cost them more.

Note that there is already a private Medicare system, called "Medicare Advantage." Essentially, individuals have the option of choosing a private insurance provider instead of the regular Medicare service, for a small fee. The premium is then paid for by the government, which costs the taxpayer significantly more than regular Medicare does (plus, very sick people tend to switch back to the regular system, which then acts as a free backstop for the private companies).

People are strongly encouraged to sign up for these plans, because regular Medicare coverage is engineered by law to have coverage gaps in it, chiefly involving drugs. So unless they sign up for the private version they'll be at significant risk.

In effect, the private Medicare plans exist to siphon off taxpayer money (the excess that the plans cost) and send it to insurance companies. Any privatization of Medicare, the VA, etc. would surely work the same way: people would be provided with private plans paid for by the taxpayer, which would initially cost them the same as their existing care. Over time, services would be cut and the individual premiums would increase, but that's a slow process so as to avoid angry mobs.

The added cost will of course just be paid for in deficit spending, which the Republicans will pretend doesn't exist as long as they control the presidency. If a Democrat is elected, they'll dredge it up as proof that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible, obviously.

307:

Afon Clearddu - central Wales - Walna Scar is usually closed these days.

Nothing at all wrong with the engine, but The Khanate ( London mayoralty ) are proposing to, effectively ban [ Note ] any diesel older than 2012-build inside the N & S circular roads - & I live 2 km inside the former.
And all petrol cars older than approx 2006-build.
As usual, they make no consideration for oddities & old vehicles ( The original proposal was for ALL vehicles over that age, even "classics", in spite of the tiny numbers.
At present, it's gone quiet, but it looks as though it will be implemented in some form.

Note] By imposing a daily "Pollution charge" even if the car is not used that day ...
somewhere between £2 & £10 a day.
IF the charge was for when I actually used it & was nearer the lower bound, I'd simply pay up, but I can't afford a daily rate like that & nor can anyone else.
And they are not prepared to let most older cars simply wear out & be replaced with new stuff, either.
I can see why it's being done, but it's incredibly clumsy & ham-handed.
There is already a "Low Emission Zone" for London, which applies to commercial vehicles & originally "they" decided that ALL Land-Rovers were commercial vehicles, because "they" are stupid ... It took quite a lot of campaigning & persuasion to convince them otherwise.....

308:

Serious point, if put frivolously; Cabinet Office... is the object I'd expect most Britons to associate with COBRA.

309:

Well, my response will simply be to visit London "even less" (and Dysprosium was the nearest I've got to doing that in 6 years).

310:

All right for you!
Not so for me .....

311:

Thermal desalinisation done economically requires high temperatures. The Arab countries doing desalinisation are burning gas to provide the process heat and power. Solar desalinisation can be done but the efficiency is piss-poor. Part of the reason the UAE is building a bunch of nuclear reactors and Saudi is considering following suit is to provide power for desalinisation so they can sell their gas abroad as Europe and elsewhere increases their CCGT generation capacity to cover their renewables buildout.

The Russians had a nuclear fast reactor, the BN-350 that could perform desalinisation directly using process heat from the primary coolant cycle at about 700 deg C. Their new fast reactor, the BN-800 could be adapted to desalinate if necessary but it's not part of its experimental campaign which is concentrating on developing metal fuels and spent fuel recycling technology while proving reliability and generating electricity.

The downside to desalinisation is the destruction of marine coastal habitats close to the plant as the enriched brine waste is pumped back into the sea, usually some distance from the intakes to keep conversion efficiency up.

313:

What other protests am I supposed to be able to do?

314:

COBRA — in the insurance sense — is unknown outside the USA, because we have working healthcare systems for all.

COBRA — in the UK sense — is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, where emergency/confidential cabinet briefings are held, usually chaired by the Prime Minister (e.g. during time of war, terrorist incidents, major disasters).

315:

Cost of solar electric in a greater than 2000 wh/m2 insulation location (equatorial desert), what, 5 cents? so.. 20 dollars per tonne. = Utter non-problem.

Except solar is intermittent and stops working entirely at night, while most of the plant required for manufacturing steel requires constant high-current draw 24x7, or it cools down and breaks down messily.

316:

Nothing at all wrong with the engine, but The Khanate ( London mayoralty ) are proposing to, effectively ban [ Note ] any diesel older than 2012-build inside the N & S circular roads - & I live 2 km inside the former.

Alas, for good reason:

London breaches cumulative toxic air pollution limit for 2017 in first five days.

I know your Landy is colateral damage in this; the real problem is buses, vans, taxis, and delivery vehicles, which tend to be poorly maintained and do a lot of urban driving. But the PM10 and PM50 particulates from diesels are lethal — they're killers the like of which we haven't seen since the great London smogs that predated the Clean Air Act. People are dying of this shit.

I can see the need for the ban, and I speak as the owner of a 2007 diesel Volvo V70 estate.

In a related move, there are changes to vehicle excise duty: your current wheels (anything bought before April 1st, 2017) are grandfathered in, but they're about to begin tightening the thumbscrews on non-zero-emission vehicles. (Meanwhile, various US companies are trailing electric cars with 4WD, 0-60mph times under 2.3 seconds, and range between charges of 350-400 miles; it's not your father's milk float. And all-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell articulated trucks are in prototype.)

317:

This is true for aluminum, and for some designs, but there are steel smelters that are currently run entirely on off-peak power due to cost of electricity savings, so running them only in the day isn't a problem. Arc furnace batch times are short - it's perfectly viable to run them according to the weather forecast, especially in a location that gets 300 days of sun a year.

.. I don't think anyone wants to be in the room when you are running a smelter in a desert, that'd probably kill you from heat exhaustion, but that's why you automate things.

Hmm.. Okay, assuming I'm correct that "Solar in a desert with very limited buffering needs" is going to be the cheapest form of power in the world.. which seems likely.
Annual steel production is going to go up, so lets say 2-3 billion tonnes. Iron content of ore, 50-70 %, and a good chunk of scrap iron (Iron content= 100%) lets call it 75% overall. So that's a 0.25 billion tonnes of slag, or a 2000 meter mountain every century. Huh, that's not as bad as I thought, and eh, if they don't want new mountains, could always tip the slag back down the mines the ore came out of.

318:

Or use it industrially, of course. It has uses.

319:

Since we're talking "in the desert", Dubai are making more land. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Islands

320:

I figured he was serious about not knowing what (US) COBRA was; that's why I explained it. There's no reason for any non-American to know about COBRA. And there should not be any need for Americans to know what COBRA is because it should not need to exist. Like the ACA, it is a tiny bandage on a sucking chest wound of a health "care" system.

321:

.. Which is down to their plan to substitute tourist income for their declining oil revenue. which.. Okay, on the one hand, I can see why they want to do that. On the other.. hand.. The island of Lesbos has had some friction between what was a moderately conservative population and the fact that it's a major cruise destination for the obvious demographic. How, exactly, is that kind of thing not going to be a much worse problem if you build a tourist economy in what is a fairly conservative and officially islamic state?

322:

At least in the U.S. Toyota is selling gas/electric hybrid 4WD vehicles, some of them decently-sized SUVs. A RAV-4 hybrid with a rear seat would probably hold eight or carry 5-600 kilos (minimum.)

323:

I meant it was another use for the slag; not that "tourism" (include religious pilgrimage for this purpose only) is a good idea in a conservative Islamic state that does not contain Mecca.

324:

Ferrous smelting lends itself very well to off-peak energy usage, especially in large-batch processing.

I used to carry out IT support for a factory that made paper-making machinery, casting single-piece cast iron rolls as big as 160 tonnes at a time. They were melting in a gas furnace but spent a chunk of money changing over to electric induction melting -- this required planting a 33kV switchyard in the car park and running in some big overhead cables. They melted overnight using cheap off-peak electricity, usually negotiated directly with the supply company as they could time-shift their production a few days if necessary (summer weekends were the best, apparently). They poured once the melt had cooled down sufficiently and the alloying elements such as manganese were well-mixed. They did have production schedules to meet though, they couldn't wait too long for the sun to shine brightly or the wind blow strongly enough to make the electricity cheaper. All they needed was a six-hour window of 30MW of electricity at £35 per MWh but they did need that time in one lump.

325:

Greg, looking a little more deeply, the RAV4 will only hold 5-6 people. The Highlander holds 8, however, and has All-Wheel drive. (I don't know what that gives you in terms of traction or horse-power, but worth looking into, I'd expect, if you've got the cash.)

326:

Like I said - I can see why they are doing it, but it could be done much, much better.
]It's amazingly clumsy & stands to piss-off a huge number of people.
I just hope that, by, say March 2020 there will be a suitable replacement power-plant readily available.

327:

You assume that people who currently get ACA subsidies and people on Medicare and the VA will be held harmless. Look up the voucher system proposed by Paul Ryan--do you really think that Republicans won't take advantage of this opportunity to skim the helpless?

Remember, they are also in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood (though most customers are women, let's not assumed that they won't take action either). There are undoubtedly going to be cases if that takes effect where women and men (they do breast exams for men, too) receive a death sentence from not having something checked soon enough. Or a woman dies from an ectopic pregnancy because Abortion Is Bad (Oklahoma was going to ban abortion even for life of the mother), and her relatives are unhappy about this.

Also, the Medicaid program may be turned into a block grant to the states, which of course will not increase with increased population. I'm a bit surprised that someone from Texas has not yet taken action, frankly, because I know a couple of whom one member *is* facing a death sentence for not being able to afford care, because Texas did not participate in the Medicaid expansion offered the various states. Gov. Pence has done one good thing in his life that I know of--he allowed the expansion of Medicaid for Indiana, despite being not pleased with the concept.

328:

Of course, making a profit from a cleaner environment is already here ( Musk ) ...It doesn't seem to have stopped the polluters, does it?

Understand I'm a face of EM, Space X, Tesla, etc...

But I have to wonder, how many electric cars have to be on the road for how many miles to make up for the pollution costs (net cradle (ore) to grave (exhaust gases into air) of a launch?

I saw a web site about ten years ago which showed the net net pollution costs of various makes and models of cars. It was interesting. A Hummer wasn't all that bad. Especially when you looked at the costs of a Prius. Mining ore in Sudbury CA, shipping it to Iceland to be refined, then to China to be made into the correct metal shapes, then to Japan to be made into batteries and put into cars, then to the US for sale and use. Plus disposal costs when the battery wears out.

329:

Past 300 so I think I'm OK to ask.

If I wind up in London tomorrow with Saturday afternoon and evening free, is there anything special worth finding? I've never been to London.

330:

It's London, the list of such places to visit is huge. I personally know of the British library and their current exhibition on maps; the BRitish Museum; Tower of London. But these are just the history places to visit. If you want to know about other places, we need to know what you like to see.

331:

I have to decide in 30 minutes to get on the plane or not.[1] My wife would then meet me there. I'm open to most anything but the London weather looks a bit hazy and cool. Normal sites I know about. I was just wondering if anything different was going on tomorrow.

I'm trying to fly out tonight but may not make it on the flight as I'm on standby. And staying here by myself is not my idea of fun. Rain soon changing to snow in a few hours. Temps going down continuously until about 3C Monday am. 8cm to 10cm of snow expected. But 25+cm possible.

332:

Oh, well. Just talked to wife and she can't make it work where she is. Never mind.

333:

Extra reply:
they're killers the like of which we haven't seen since the great London smogs that predated the Clean Air Act. People are dying of this shit.
Except - I remember certainly the second great smog of '55.
people died, their deaths went into the records.
Where are the directly-attributable deaths that are supposed to come from diesel pollution?

And the current pollution is nowhere even faintly near as bad as then, so scaremongering (?)

PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT saying that all new vehicles should not be fitted with or be made to be as low-pollution as possible.

That reducing vehicle emissions is an obviously good move to make.
But, most of the existing kit will wear out or be replaced in the next 10 years anyway ... so why deliberately attack people's property, which they have paid for?
I would like to see a much clearer link - say as good as the links for AGW which we all agree on - because I haven't seen one - yet....

334:

I do rather agree... and I have a nasty feeling that an engine swap isn't going to cut it; they'll continue to classify it as what it was originally no matter how much you explain to them that it isn't. If you can manage to find somewhere to garage it outside the boundary that doesn't cost more than the supertax would, that might be the best bet...

Diesels have, after all, been commonplace for a very long time - in black cabs, buses, commercial vehicles, etc, ie. a large part of London traffic even before they became common in private cars. If they were deadly on the level of the old London smogs then we would see deaths on the scale of the old London smogs. We don't. And we would have noticed it all along. It wouldn't have remained obscure until we got to the point where the long-scheduled legal impact of a figure pulled out of someone's arse 20+ years ago was discovered to be incompatible with the physics of diesel combustion and the technology of liquid injection.

What we really have is another of these cases that run along the lines of "x deaths of cancer per year * y[] normalised exposure per carcinogen = xy[] deaths per carcinogen", which is a silly equation and doesn't relate to anything that is true in a useful sense. The number of elements of y[] is very large and the value of each one is very small (and subject to huge individual variation, too). People die of cancer a lot mainly because it is difficult to cure but the other things that they used to die of before they would have got cancer are not. Reducing the value of one element makes no noticeable difference to the overall result as there are so many others to take up the slack.

It is, however, a cosy and convenient problem to publicise, because it can be attributed to something which is so deeply embedded in our society that eliminating it is self-evidently an enormous project, and anyone will assume without thinking about it that little change can be expected in the foreseeable future no matter what for simple reasons of scale. So it is a handy subject to get people concerned about so they have less CPU left for being concerned about other things that they might actually expect to see a result on, that doesn't call for anything more than talk itself, and that allows any budget allocated to it to be spent on expensive consultations by firms that one is interested in, designed to conclude that there's nothing we can do in less than 20 years and it'll cost loads and we've just spent all the money on the consultation so it's tough cheddar for the time being.

335:

You're committing enumeration. It's a common fallacy - human intuition fails very badly with very small and very large numbers, which means you will nearly always overestimate the cost or impact of something if you split the description of it it it into sufficiently many sub-tasks without using actual numbers. I see it get used with deliberately malicious intent fairly often, but as you just demonstrated, it's frighteningly easy to do by accident. Don't commit life-cycle analytics without a spreadsheet. You will be very badly wrong.


The important thing about electric motoring is that the entire chain you just described can be uncoupled from fossil carbon, and ultimately be put on a closed industrial cycle. You dispose of batteries by feeding them into the production of new batteries, not into landfill - that doesn't work while we're still increasing fleet size, of course, but ultimately, it will.

336:

No cite because I once saw a paper copy, and have never been able to find it on-line.

The only work I've ever seen on the origins of total PC10s dates from 1982, and had tyre related and brake related at about 30% each of the total, which with their assumption that none originate from octane leaves 40% from mechanical injection citane engines running high sulphur diesel.

Since then, we've moved to mostly electronic injection engines which shouldn't over-fuel resulting in incomplete combustion and cleaner burning (because I don't know the effects in detail) ultra-low sulphur diesel, both of which will reduce citane related PC10s.

337:

That's the sort of reason why I thought they should have spent the tram money on making all buses and taxis in Edinburgh zero emission. End result would be not just a world leading transport network, but a significant drop in air pollution and noise pollution from bus engines. You'd think they could try that in London too.

338:

And, indeed, reduce bus/taxi pollution in places other than the choke road from Haymarket to the Post Office.

339:

But I have to wonder, how many electric cars have to be on the road for how many miles to make up for the pollution costs (net cradle (ore) to grave (exhaust gases into air) of a launch?

Currently Falcon's Merlin engine runs on rocket-grade kerosene fuel and LOX as an oxidizer. Yes, it's fossil fuel. It burns pretty cleanly, though — the combustion exhaust is really hot, so any left-over fuel vapour probably oxidizes in-atmosphere.

The next-generation Raptor engine runs on supercooled methane and LOX; there's already been some suggestion that SpaceX are looking to synthetic fuel — i.e. Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — in the long term.

So, it should ultimately be possible to fly the SpaceX launch stack on a carbon neutral/renewable energy basis. Just not for at least 5-10 years.

340:

Where are the directly-attributable deaths that are supposed to come from diesel pollution?

People don't choke to death immediately on diesel fumes. What happens is, they get asthma (a sometimes-lethal condition, as you know), emphysema, chronic bronchitis leading to congestive heart failure or pneumonia, or lung cancer. Then they die, often agonizingly slowly, and their deaths are logged against the immediate cause of death.

The statistical correlation between diesel particulates and these conditions is about as well-established as between primary or secondary tobacco inhalation and lung diseases, and saying "where are the directly-attributable deaths" is about as reasonable as saying "well I smoked twenty a day for thirty years and it didn't kill me, so cigarettes are harmless!"

341:

You're suffering from "not invented here" with respect to your medical statistics.

Here's an epidemiological study for you, from researchers at MIT.

Here's some more informed comment on deaths due to diesel particulates in China.

Note: cleaner diesel fuel (less sulfur) helps a lot at the low end, but it's like going from high tar unfiltered cigarettes to low tar with filter tips: you're still smoking.

342:

Charlie, ref #340 and #341, and to be entirely clear, I did not mean #336 to be read as "there is no problem" but as "part of the problem is tyres and brakes (oh and probably dry clutches)" according to the only work I've ever seen that wasn't running a political agenda of some form. Also it is out of date and over-states how much of the problem is exhaust emissions.

343:

[...] do you really think that Republicans won't take advantage of this opportunity to skim the helpless?

As the COBRA discussion earlier demonstrated, the insane structure of the American health care system won't be obvious to everyone here, so let me throw in a quick list of terms in my answer:

  • Medicare: For retired people (and disabled people, but most people forget that). Federal single-payer with private option.
  • Medicaid: For poor people. State/federal partnership with block grants. Historically very limited, but expanding it was one of the two ACA core programs.
  • VA/VHA: For veterans. Federal socialized medicine, with government hospitals.
  • ACA/Obamacare: Government subsidies for private insurance, and Medicaid if you're poor. Plus, insurance industry regulation.

Note that approximately nobody in America has any idea how this system works, particularly Obamacare, so the public perception is completely bizarre and has nothing to do with reality.

Anyway, what the Republicans will do to these programs will surely depend on who they view their constituents as, along with how their anti-Obama propaganda has colored peoples' views.

The reason I think they'll hold Medicare and the VA benefits steady and simply attempt to loot them, is because they have nothing to do with the ACA and the people who use these programs are seen as being part of their base. Plus, touching Medicare/Social Security is seen as being political suicide. The VA is less sure, since the Republicans have been cutting benefits there for years (and it hasn't seemed to cost them any votes).

Medicaid on the other hand is explicitly about helping the poor and historically poor women with children in particular, so it will absolutely be their #1 target. Plus, they've already managed to block the ACA expansion of medicaid in most red states, so it now essentially exists as a Federal program that pays for poor peoples' health care in predominantly blue states only (and is unknown to their red-state constituents).

The Republicans have been fomenting anti-poor hatred (poor is a dog whistle for minority) for generations, and their propaganda outlets explicitly blame "poor" people for most everything, so seeing urban poor people in blue states die will be pretty agreeable to their base.

The rest of the ACA/Obamacare on the other hand is basically identical to the Republicans' own health care reform plans, such as they have any at all, and strongly benefits uneducated rural white voters in red states. I'd expect they'll "repeal" it with an end date far enough in the future that nobody loses coverage before the midterm elections, and then kick around an extension and general mismanagement until a big enough distraction comes along or they manage to relabel it as Trumpcare.

344:

This is why I want to get there as close to immediately as possible, and at least twenty years early. There's a ton of stuff to learn which I can only do if I'm on site, plus I'd like to build up a little community; butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and figure out a way to make sure we don't get buried in refugees. All the problems in this case are hard, but not solving them is guaranteed death for my descendants...

I think the U.S. under Trump is going to completely screw up its attempts to avoid/fix global warming, and the only alternative for people who wish to survive is some kind of private effort.

345:

Of course, the same programs that limit health care to 'urban' populations will also end up limiting health care to the rural ones, too. Oops.

346:

Their political platform is completely incoherent and stupid, so how is this a surprise?

I mean, they already blocked poor people in those same red states from receiving free health care paid for by rich blue states... and instead of hurting them, it gave them ever greater control of their states and both houses of the congress too.

Not to mention the people are riled up in anger at Obama for the poor health care their Republican officials provide them.

347:

Taken ... but.
I wonder how close the correlation is also between the recent study about being near a main road re illness generally co-acts with this.

Even now (Never mind 30-40 years ago) I notice that, on a day with little or no wind, at my local station [ Walthamstow Central ], with a busy clogged main road that there are discernible fumes, yet I only have to walk for about a minute & the air is OK again. After another 4-5 minutes, I'm at my front door, there's an empty school field opposite - what pollution?

348:

SO, the LOGICAL route for sensible healthcare in the US would be for Medicare to be rolled out as the "National" health service.
But, I suppose that would be too simple, wouldn't it?

Still doesn't answer "The Boss's" question: "Why do Americans hate each other?"

349:
Melania Trump books an 8 hour slot on QVC pushing sales of Trump-branded gold bricks. (Early purchasers complain that their gold bricks are actually a thin layer of gold plate over a lump of (much cheaper) tungsten: the Trump Organization sues them for libel.)

If you are wondering about this, as I did:

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chemical_elements
density of gold : 19.282 g cm-3
density of tungsten: 19.25 g cm-3

Tungsten is the closest in density to gold. Other nearby elements are plutonium 19.84 g cm-3. uranium 18.95 g cm-3, tantalum 16.654 g cm-3.

So a tungsten bar of the same dimensions as a nominal standard gold bar would weigh 21 g less. The difference will be a bit smaller if the tungsten bar is coated with gold. But 21g or so is detectable.

However - a nominal standard gold bar can weigh from 350 to 430 oz, (9.9 - 12.4 kg) so the density difference can be concealed by stamping the bar with its weight. So weighing will not detect gold plated tungsten bars.

But I suspect that there would be other tests that would find the difference. Here's a suggestion: sound is more than twice as fast in tungsten as it is in gold, 4620 m s-1 vs 2030 m s-1. A little acoustic test (sound generator and receiver attached to ends of the brick, and a circuit to measure the propagation time) should spot fakes easily, and non-destructively. The metals have different resistivities too, but I think current would flow over the surface of the brick, through the gold shell, so this test might not work.

Once you have an acoustically invalid brick, you can drill into it to see what's under the veneer.

Passing off tungsten as gold might have worked in the 19th century, when all you had was scales. Now there are lots of properties of materials that are easy to test. I bet metal buyers use lots of tests besides just weighing.

I'm wondering if perhaps there is an alloy with nearly the right density, and other diagnostic properties similar to gold's ?

350:

Actually tungsten gold bricks have been around for quite a few years now. Very popular with the buying gold by post people, they also turn up in other situations. The fact is that a lot of people dealing with gold don't have the correct equipment to properly check if something is gold, or is gold all the way through, so such bars can end up in circulation without anyone noticing.

A random internet search finds for instance this page:
http://www.runtogold.com/2010/03/fake-tungsten-gold-found/
claiming to be doing ultrasound checks, as you suggest. Please note that within professions the people involved in dealing with issues are usually many years ahead of random people on the internet working things out from first principles.

Here's a 2012 story about it:
http://www.businessinsider.com/tungsten-filled-gold-bars-found-in-new-york-2012-9?IR=T

The x-rays mentioned are simple and cheap X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, used all over the world for jewellery testing for hallmarking. They are accurate, cheap, fairly easy to use unless the jeweller has made a really complicated item and plated it with rhodium or such in which case getting a good reading becomes harder, and fine for the normal day to day work.
Unfortunately their x-rays only penetrate a couple of hundred micrometres into an object, so as long as you put a decent thickness of gold on, you will get away with it.
As for why more people don't have ultrasound detectors, that might be down to not everyone dealing with gold bars very often, and so unless you are using it every week it hardly seems worth the expense. I wonder how expensive the testers are.

I know of no alloy with density or other modern properties similar to gold. There are a number used in historic alchemy, but they would all fail modern testing methods if the full range of them was applied.

351:

Weight it, then put in a bath of water & see how much it displaces - Archimedes rules the Table, OK?

352:

"At least twenty years early" would have been about 2000.

All this stuff is in the present tense.

353:

SO, the LOGICAL route for sensible healthcare in the US would be for Medicare to be rolled out as the "National" health service.

Yes, absolutely.

Changing the eligibility requirements so you don't need to be 65 to sign up (and fixing some of the historic problems, such as drug coverage) was absolutely the preferred option among more progressive-minded people.

However, this was seen as politically impossible because it's "socialism" and would imperil the massive profits available to the private insurance industry.

This doesn't really get across just how nuts the American system is, though. You need to consider all sorts of other factors: health insurance from your employer (especially for government jobs) is strongly used as a way to guarantee employee retention while offering low wages, for starters. If you dare quit, you and your family will die, so better you accept health care peonage and live.

Also, Medicare is paid for via a regressive flat tax on wages (Social Security is fully regressive, with a cap) where half of the payment is off-books on your pay stub. Along with Social Security, the programs are sold to the public as not being "socialist" based on the idea that the taxes are just part of an ordinary retirement fund, so any attempt to change the structure leads to hordes of angry people who feel it's communism somehow.

354:

Re US Medicare and
However, this was seen as politically impossible because it's "socialism" and would imperil the massive profits available to the private insurance industry.
This is perhaps no longer a monolithic belief. I have a friend, wingnutty as they come[1], who hates Obamacare because such hatred is part of the US right-wing canon, and he believes that a single payer system is the only way forward in the US, that nothing private-enterprise-based can work. Just one person, but there is probably an interesting germinatable seed of thousands of such people.
The establishment US Republicans have lost control over the ideology and it is warpable and will be warped, and transformed, and fragmented. (By whom, is the question.)
Now to gather some links justifying these assertions. :-)

[1] When we go out to dinner, his phone is often beeping with breaking news email alerts from right wing sources. Usually these are complete fizzles. The run-up to the US election was particularly irritating.

355:

I was thinking more in terms of "twenty years before the food riots start." I know Global Warming has already started influencing damn near every aspect of climate, weather, and growth - that's been obvious even to laymen for several years now.

356:

A total reply to any objections.
Alternatively, please don't confuse us with facts ....

357:

[...] he believes that a single payer system is the only way forward in the US, that nothing private-enterprise-based can work.

I don't have a reference handy, but I've seen a number of polls and such over the last few years showing that a single-payer system such as Medicare-for-all has widespread and majority support among both Democrats and Republicans, and has for a long time.

At the same time, I think these same polls (or polls conducted at the same time at least) show completely incoherent results, i.e. that giant majorities of Republicans (and strong minorities of Democrats) feel that "government health care" is evil, that "socialism" is bad, and so forth.

Just to reiterate some of the previous themes... the only way to understand these results (other than the conclusion that people are morons, which is probably true but not the whole story) is to understand that these are not ideological positions, they're cultural positions.

In other words, people don't vote Republican because they believe that Republican Party platform positions are better, they vote Republican because they are Republicans and Republicans vote for Republican candidates. Republican people hold the position that "government is bad" so they hold that position. Republican people hate "communism" and "socialism" (whatever those mean) not to mention "liberals" so they are fervently against them.

However, at the same time, they'd like their public officials to do a good job and operate public utilities like the power company, the sewer company, and so on efficiently and with skilled oversight. And this clearly has nothing to do with "government" or "socialism" in any way, obviously.

Right wing American politics is fundamentally about cultural identity, akin to religion.

358:

A total reply to any objections.

A number of years ago, early on in Obama's term, I tried to have a rational discussion with a conservative about health care reform.

He had a few arguments in favor of private health care: it's cheaper (demonstrably false), that more insurance companies leads to competition and lower rates (false: smaller insurers have less negotiating power with hospitals etc.), that public systems elsewhere cost too much, and so on.

I answered each of his assertions and demonstrated that they were wrong, and I also pointed out that the American system already costs more in public spending than systems like the NHS, even before you consider the private insurance at all (the WHO had some helpful data).

Finally he admitted I was right: in all measurable ways, a publicly administered universal system is more efficient and produces higher quality care for less. However, he said, I was still wrong because I'd missed the point.

The whole point of having a health care system, according to him, is to have "competition" and a "free market." It doesn't matter whether the system is better or worse: what matters is that it's capitalist.

I ended the conversation at that point.

359:

First link doesn't work; my response to that is only of relevance to the benighted morons who wrote the site and is also at least 50% rude words, so I will refrain from posting it here.

Second link... overall message appears to be that China today is much the same as London was in the 1950s (complete with photo of smog in Beijing) precisely because they have not done the same things to reduce pollution that we have done since then. So I don't see how it relates to the persecution of Greg's Land Rover in London; the overall vehicle design may still be of the 50s, but the engine isn't.

Concerning emphysema (or COPD as they call it these days) (which I have myself), a quick search brings up lots of web pages which seem to pretty much agree with each other. Here is a sample of such, from the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease/Pages/Causes.aspx - 90% of incidence is down to smoking; other significant factors include substances to which exposure is most usually occupational; there is no conclusive link with air pollution.

Also, apparently 1 in 100 people have a genetic deficiency predisposing them to it. This creates a limit - soft, and exactly where it is depends on exactly what "predisposing" means - for the significance of causes, below which chipping away at minor causes (especially when there is no conclusive link to call them a cause) becomes a waste of time because their effect is in any case swamped by the unavoidable level of incidence from genetic causes.

360:

Surely there is a simple, quick and easy way to check whether a gold brick has a tungsten core or not: whack it with a coal hammer. Tungsten is hard, gold is soft, and gold is also still worth the same amount whether it is in the form of a plain cuboid or a plain cuboid with a deep indentation in it. The method is straightforward enough to do the test in a few seconds right in front of the person who is trying to sell you the hooky brick, which has the advantage of making them look a cunt, and the piece of test equipment which you are holding is evidently also going to be effective at making deep indentations in skulls, which helps to deter them from retaliation.

361:

"...but I think current would flow over the surface of the brick, through the gold shell, so this test might not work."

The extent to which this happens depends both on the resistivities of the different materials involved, and on the frequency of the test signal: in a homogeneous block, DC will flow through the bulk of it, but as the frequency rises current flow becomes confined more and more to the outer layer. So if you measure a different resistivity depending on whether you use a DC or RF test signal, you know there's something dodgy going on.

362:

That suggests you know nothing about commerce.
"Gold brick for sale, only slightly damaged" I'm sure they'd be flocking to buy it.

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if that is how it is done in some parts of the world, but the global gold trade is a lot bigger and more sophisticated than you seem to think it is, and such an approach would get in the way of any kind of efficient commerce. Remember, we're in a globalised world, people keep not realising just how intermeshed and complex it all is.

363:

The whole point of having a health care system, according to him, is to have "competition" and a "free market." It doesn't matter whether the system is better or worse: what matters is that it's capitalist.

What matters is that it means that only the worthy people get good health care, and the unworthy get inferior health care (or none at all). Because they are hard working people who paid for their Medicare and Social Security though their payroll taxes, which means it totally not a social benefit or welfare or any of those Bad Programs the government uses to waste money on lazy slackers.

364:

Well, the thing about gold is that the value of a lump of it depends on its mass, not its shape. Therefore you can't really "damage" a gold block except by actually cutting bits off it. Whacking a hole in an engine block damages it and makes it worthless, but whacking a hole in a gold block does not affect the mass and so there is no reason for anyone to consider it damaged or of less value. People might be bloody stupid about it, but 1kg of gold is 1kg of gold no matter what shape it is.

365:

the thing about gold is that the value of a lump of it depends on its mass, not its shape

Only in theory. And in practice the difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory.

When you buy an ingot, you're paying partly for the shape which says "this is a 50 gram ingot of 99.5% pure gold alloyed with 0.5% silver" (or whatever). Damaging it removes the validity of that shape, and you're back to weighing it and arguing about whose scales are less wrong, as well and some fun times trying to find a non-destructive way to establish the exact composition.

366:

Right wing American politics is fundamentally about cultural identity, akin to religion.
There is no written immutable American right-wing creed though. The belief system can change, and fragment (schisms). It can be, using INB's terminology, effectorized. Especially the objectively ludicrous aspects like climate change denial.



367:

But the whole reason that the tungsten core trick works is that "the shape [which] says "this is a 50 gram ingot of 99.5% pure gold alloyed with 0.5% silver" (or whatever)" isn't actually true. The identical shape can also be assumed by a lump of tungsten with a layer of gold over the outside of it: the shape is meaningless, and counting on shape to distinguish between one thing and another thing that has the same shape - especially when you already know that such other things exist - is self-evidently bloody stupid.

368:

bloody stupid
It's gold - it makes people stupid.

Sorry. You may not have the grift targeted at gullible right-wingers that we do in the US. Including advertisements on TV; "There has never been a better time to buy gold", with gold coins being fondled a hand model, is one such that has stuck indelibly in the memory.


369:

reason that the tungsten core trick works is...

I'm not arguing against it working, I'm more suggesting that at some point the buyers need to decide whether it's currency or object. Currency means the label is the thing that has value, with the actual composition and form bridging the gap between the concept of money and the tangible form.

But if you're shuffling lumps of valuable stuff round, you need a big QA infrastructure that has to be paid for and the "gold trading" scams don't seem to have that. I've yet to see a "home mass spectrometer" marketed to them, for example, or even decent scales. Decent in the "must be calibrated in the stable environment they are kept and used in" sense.

370:

There is no written immutable American right-wing creed though. The belief system can change, and fragment (schisms).

And other religious systems can't?

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." --Mark 10:25

Prosperity Gospel, a thing in modern American Christian religion.

Or to put it another way, the important bit is the chanting, the dancing, the unquestioning and absolute belief that your peoples' way is the only right way, your leaders are the right leaders, and whatever they say is the truth. Adherence is morality, and you must never, ever question.

The written bit was invented later.

371:

By the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!

"There be some that call me. . . Tim".

372:

but as you just demonstrated, it's frighteningly easy to do by accident. Don't commit life-cycle analytics without a spreadsheet. You will be very badly wrong.

What I started my comment with was:
But I have to wonder

I would like a spreadsheet. I didn't do the analytics. I didn't make a statement of it. I was pondering it.

Sheesh.

As to:
The important thing about electric motoring is that the entire chain you just described can be uncoupled from fossil carbon, and ultimately be put on a closed industrial cycle.

I'm not convinced. But I will admit I may be wrong. But as has been pointed out by others large scale mining and transportation is a very long way from operating on non fossil fuels. Not as far as air travel but still a long way away.

373:

so any attempt to change the structure leads to hordes of angry people who feel it's communism somehow.

Interestingly I've read where advisers to FDR said he set it up that way for just this reason.

374:

Weight it, then put in a bath of water & see how much it displaces

Based on the earlier density numbers you're talking a difference that you need to measure of 0.166%. Hard to do with direct observation of water levels. And even if you get a good decent cost volume measuring widget any surface contamination might warp the readings.

375:

Actually, you put in to an exactly brim-full container & catch the overspill in a properly-calibrated receptacle.
Doesn't even have to be a volumetric receptacle - it could be a container on a pre-zeroed balance.

376:

I strongly suspect that surface tension effects and atmospheric pressure might affect the outcome. But I'm way past my know knowledge at this point.

I just remember that dealing with very small amounts of water way back when in various chemistry classes, we had issues with such things.

377:

Gotta agree with the "Too complicated, Big hammer" school of testing. But that's mostly because I'd never buy gold with the intent of leaving it in bar form anyway. It's a useful - and beautiful - material, and I don't really get the obsession people have with burying it again after we went to so much trouble digging it up.

378:

I think they actually mean the shape that is the hallmark. You mess that up, people might not want to buy your gold bar. Bearing in mind you might need to hit a dozen or two bars before finding one that is definitely tungsten.
I would like to know what sort of % of bars out there are tungsten, but that is probably a closely guarded secret amongst people who know, because taking away the gold at the end of hte rainbow makes you unpopular.

379:

Did people in old times complain about gold coins with teeth marks? (wasn't that why people supposedly bit coins?)

If that was really a way people tested purported gold coins, I suspect some counterfeit coins were made with fake teeth marks...

380:

You just likely add your own bit mark. Pure gold is definitely that soft. (From what I've read.)

381:

Not that I've read of. I have read of people testing it by biting, but know of no primary source for that actually working. Instead, what you have in Europe, is over a thousand years of testing methods, some quite sophisticated. The methods include hitting it with a hammer, cementation, i.e. melting it on a cupel made of bone ash, and adding some lead, and seeing what results and weighing it. And the streak test, where you rub it on some black stone and see what colour streak is left behind.
The latter is easy to do and accurate enough.
Counterfeit coins were made in a variety of ways, from casting with an impure alloy and polishing the surface with acidic liquids to enrich it by leaching out the base metals, to making a coin of lead and putting gold foil on it.

There is an extant letter from a middle eastern king to the Egyptian Pharaoh, maybe 3,300 years ago, saying that unfortunately some nefarious person must have stolen the gold the Paraeoh sent to him and replaced it with fake gold, because when they tried to melt it in the furnace it disappeared or turned into ashes.


382:

I actually tried to do an Archimedes measurement once. I had left a coffee pot on the stove unattended, and came back to find a molten lump of metal. I was curious what the metal might be, so I thought I would determine its density, using my kitchen apparatus. (I suspected aluminium, but was wondering if it had been alloyed with something. I was also amazed at the temperature an electric stove can reach.)

I can't find my calculations atm, but here's what I recall. Firstly, it was hard to measure the displaced volume. I used a top-up method, as the only accurate measuring tools I had were little scoops that held as little as 1 mL. Using a run-off/displacement method is tricky, because surface tension holds the water in the vessel for ages, and it's easy to spill too much, once you break surface tension. Instead, I measured how much water I had to add to bring the level up to a mark, both with and without the lump immersed. Meniscus sighting is a problem on a vessel large enough to contain the lump.

My digital scales claim to be good to 1g. The uncertainty analysis though was the kicker - from memory, it was huge, 10-20% on the density. That's with domestic kitchen gear. Nevertheless, the computed density came in at bang on the density of room temperature aluminium to 2 or 3SF \pm 10-20%. Perhaps my error analysis was overly cautious. Or maybe I just got lucky.

Aluminium melts at 660 deg C, which tells you how hot a resistive coil electric element can get, although I should have guessed that from the orange colour of a fully heated element.

I think a large part of the uncertainty came from the small displaced volume of water relative to the larger body needed to immerse the metal lump.

Anyway, as DavidL@374 points out, the Au-W density difference is tiny, and the uncertainties from anything but very accurate gear would swamp that. Archimedes' idea is nice, but in practice it is a bit tricky, and possibly destructive of items that cannot be immersed. I would still go with an acoustic or electrical test.

I think it's courteous not to destructively test things people offer you for sale, at least not until after a non-destructive test reveals a suspect sample. I would not like to take property to a dealer/dealers and have them whack it with a hammer.

I still keep the aluminium blob that used to be my cafetiere to remind me NOT TO LEAVE A HOT STOVE UNATTENDED. And I use a stainless steel cafetiere now.

383:

That's a nice anecdote.

The interesting thing I just noticed is that the book on assaying by Lazarus Ercker, in the 1580 German edition, says you can estimate the amount of gold in silver by weighing in a balance underwater. I assume they knew their weights and volume measures just weren't very good.

384:

You're right, the Indians are doing something different. In China, India and the USA there is work being done on development of what you mention.I found an article on Kirk Sorensen in the library that pointed me to:

Flibe-energy.com

Through their library link one can find a lot of information on molten salt reactors.

[[ link now fixed - mod ]]

385:

I still keep the aluminium blob that used to be my cafetiere to remind me NOT TO LEAVE A HOT STOVE UNATTENDED.

I have a wooden cutting block in my kitchen with a charred blob on it, an artifact of my own discovery that the aluminum[1] cladding on a pot could be melted right off, leaving a wood burning liquid inside after all the water boiled off...

[1] It's “aluminum” because this gaffe was in America.

386:

Bear in mind Archimedes wasn't really interested in getting perfect accuracy. He was being paid to discover if the King's goldsmith was a crook, nothing more; if the crown wasn't the same volume as a lump of pure gold of the same weight, that was good enough to get him hanged!

This said I wonder if Archimedes could have used olive oil since its surface tension is lower. Would viscosity pose a problem?

387:

mixing a surfactant like dish detergent in with your test water should reduce surface tension, and meniscus, enough to improve measurement by a "whole bunch", likewise just using rubbing alcohol instead of water. But the issue is moot already since prospective gold buyers can decrease almost to nil their uncertainty about gold content of their purchases, by avoiding ingots and sticking with coins like the govt issued one ounce gold eagle. It's got a nominal value of fifty bucks, which is pointless in view of the gold being worth around $1200, except for the fact that as a currency coin it has the penalty of counterfeiting attached to the crime of trying to fake one up. Ingot faking would only be liable to penalties like false advertising or deceptive business practice, nowhere near as heavy as getting caught counterfeiting U.S. currency.

388:

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/314991-trump-team-prepares-dramatic-cuts

That makes bad reading now that trump has come to power officially and if he acts out some of the things there.

ljones

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