environment,energy,greenhouse,gas,carbon,dioxide,global,nuclear energy,clean energy,emissions,global climate change,environmental impacts, Nuclear Energy Can Save US: October 2007

Nuclear Energy Can Save US--America�s 100 nukes equal four million barrels of oil per day.

Billions of lives and civilization itself may be at risk from the Global Warming & End of Cheap Oil, Crisis. Rising sea levels and rising oil prices could be the end of civilization as we know it. The problem is so huge that the most powerful answer, many nuclear plants, must be deployed. Currently, America‘s 100 nukes deliver the energy of four million barrels of oil per day. Wind and solar cannot do the job, and may delay the real answer too long. Still, all kinds of clean energy, plus conservation, plus reducing deforestation, will be needed to help the poor half of the world, and for civilization to survive through this century.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Earth's Inconvenient Water Supply

Water is very unevenly distributed on Earth. Long-term droughts, and major floods happen randomly; deserts hardly ever get any water. Two out of six billion people, need more water on land; while fresh melt water from ice caps is raising ocean levels. The Los Angeles Times (1966) had a chart showing 280 cubic miles of water evaporated every day; 230 from sea, and 50 from land. The water precipitates as rain somewhere else (70 on land, with 20 runoff to the sea, and 210 on the sea). 280 cubic miles equals 0.01% of Earth's 320 million cubic miles of water.
97% of our water is too salty for crops or people, and 2% (7 million cubic miles) is frozen in ice caps. Several sources say that ocean's are rising 2 millimeters (0.08 inch) per year. This much over 140 million square-miles of ocean equals 200 cubic miles of melt water. One cubic mile of water equals one trillion gallons; 200 trillion gallons melt from the ice every year.
America used 150 trillion gallons (500,000 per person) in 2000. At this rate, the world would need 3000 trillion gallons, or 3000 cubic miles of water per year. Earth's land area, 50 million square miles gets 70 cubic miles (70 trillion gallons) water/day; 3000 trillion would take only 45 days of rain. The US 150 trillion gallons on our 3 million square miles would take about 38.
This is lots of water, but uneven supply, due to climate change leads to droughts, floods, critical water shortages in many countries. Conservation, and better water management will always be necessary. Nuclear plants could give energy for desalination and purification of sea and poor quality ground water by reverse osmosis throughout the world.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Defense of Big Oil Profits

Though I have no stake, I believe that suspicion of Big Oil profit is not helpful for the world's future. Cheap oil, drilled wells, must continue as long as possible, yet there are demands from some people for punitive taxes on Big Oil. They are business people, and will make a profit when they can, but they can't control prices. They explored worldwide, drilled, built oil fields in other countries, then saw their work expropriated. Still, the wonderful properties of oil, and the enormous supply virtually created the modern world economy. We must hope that Big Oil will apply their economic might to nuclear energy as oil disappears this century. A Wall Street financier was quoted recently as saying that they must do this, or perish.
My common sense tells me, the following pure guesses about oil profits:
When oil is $100 a barrel (real world price), the OPECs of the world will be able to lift a billion barrels of oil for $5B, and sell it for $100B export price; a $95B profit. Is this profit immoral? Maybe, but it is their resource, and it is running out.
Big Oil pays $100B for the billion barrels; transports it here for $5B; refines it for $20B; ships to oil and gas suppliers for $5B; adds $20B for profit; and sells to retailers for $150B. ($10B income tax leaves them $10B profit.) Retailers add $20B for their costs; $10B for profit; add $20B for state and local taxes; and sell to us for $200B. (REMEMBER: This guess is for only one billion of the 4 billion barrels that we import every year.)
Every 100 new nuclear plants, will equal energy of 4 million barrels of oil per day, 1.5BBPY, and save $150B to OPEC for $100 oil; $300B for $200 oil. Better, 500 nukes, costing $2 trillion in current dollars, will save 20MBPD, 7.5BBPY; and $1.5T per year for $200 oil; which will come.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Century Malthus Could Be Right (Part Three)

Just one week ago, I became frightened when I read that we Americans are dependent on fossil fuel for the productivity of farmers (Please read "Eating Fossil Fuel", referenced in Part One of this post.) Now today, Oct. 17, 2007, the US Agricultural Department dropped a Bombshell; US wheat stockpiles have fallen to the lowest levels in 59 years.
There are many reasons, some easy to correct, but others are scary:
Farmers harvest 40 bushels per acre now, versus 17 in WWII, but acreage is down by one-third, or 28 million acres. The extra grain was produced by fossil-fuel farming.
20% of last year's corn crop went to make ethanol-INSANITY (my opinion).
Bad harvests in the Ukraine, one of Europe's breadbaskets, was followed by poor harvests in Russia, Egypt, and Australia; Global Warming is blamed by some experts. This is not proven, but how can we blithely ignore the possibility?
USDA slashed its estimate of Australian harvest from 19 million to 13.5 million tons.
China and India are importing more and more food each year, for their growing populations and improving life styles. However, drought has withered 27 million acres in China.
Despite its rising GDP, India's food grain production has been stagnant for a decade. Also, since they produce very little oil, they plan on 35 million acres of biofuel crops. This may be a worse form of INSANITY than America's ethanol; India's people do not have surplus food.
US prices for food and beverages rose 4.2% in the 12 months through August. USDA estimates the next 12-month rise at 4.0%; but what if it is double that, as others guess? So many nations are rushing to buy our exports, since they consider them cheap.
15% of the world's food grows on depleting ground water, or rivers that are drying up.
It is time for the world to stop whistling in the dark. Thousands of nuclear plants and millions of wind turbines must be built. Worries of so-called "nuclear waste", proliferation, etc. are as nothing in comparison with the possible total collapse of world civilization.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Century Malthus Could Be Right (Part Two)

More worries triggered by the report "Eating Fossil Fuels" (See Part One of this series of posts). The report showed me that huge quantities of energy must be developed for food, and by extension for water. It seems more necessary than ever that conservation, efficiency, and alternative fuels must somehow increase exponentially, year by year. The Economist, London (10/16/07), cited altenative energy spending (worldwide, and including wind energy, most likely) as $63B this year, up from $49B last year, and $30B the year before; doubling in two years. To some people this probably sounds great, and they will say, "See, we will be alright". To me, they just do not see the size of the problem. It will only be great, if by mid-century, yearly expenditures double, and double, and double again, then triple from that point. Also, it will only be great, if nuclear energy keeps pace with this to double the overall clean energy, and provide the massive, concentrated base of energy to make it all work. I can't compute precisely, but I believe that 1000 nuclear electric plants added to all of the other programs, will be a good START toward solution of the energy crises that humanity faces.
Late Thought: I don't know if The Economist includes nuclear in alternative energies. If so, my guess of 2 x 2 x 2 x 3, which equals 24 will have to be doubled again. Yearly clean energy spending in 2050, would have to be 48 x $63B, or more than than $3T (in 2007 $).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This Century, Malthus Could Be Right. (Part One).

While researching a recent post, an extremely scary article was discovered. This piece, entitled "Eating Fossil Fuel" by D. A. Pfeiffer (2004), proposes that the so called, "Green Revolution", which increased world grain production 250% between1950 and 1984, was primarily a process of converting fossil fuel to extra food. Fossil fuel agriculture uses an average of 50 times as much energy as traditional methods. The inceased production is degrading cropland, requiring more and more energy just to maintain the yield we have now; running harder and harder to stay in place, just at the century when oil will disappear; possibly natural gas as well. The "Greenhouse" monster, coal, will still be in use; almost as big a tragedy as the loss of oil.
I hope that Mr. Pfeiffer's projections are too pessimistic, but his facts ring true. He projects that the U.S. will stop being a food exporter by 2025 due to increased population. This concurs with my Post, Ethanol From Corn Will Not Do; running cars on food is INSANITY. However, enough clean, non-CO2 energy, can get humanity through. If Mr. Pfiffer's data is near right, and it looks too solid to be far off, America needs thousands of nuclear plants, millions of wind turbines, conservation, efficiency of energy usage, reforestation, biofuel, and a new source of fuel such as fusion energy, to avoid devastation on a massive scale.
The next several posts will explore specific problems that he foresees for America (which in turn will impact the world); we are eroding topsoil and wasting arable land, shrinking the land required for producing biomass energy, using more and more water resources, etc. I hope that many people will read Mr. Pfeiffers report at,

Monday, October 8, 2007

What Does CO2 Gas Weigh?

The weight of the CO2 molecule is the combined weight of one carbon, and two oxygen atoms. Each atom's weight depends on the number of nucleotides, protons and neutrons, in its nucleus. The carbon atom is atomic number 6, meaning 6 protons in the nucleus. Carbon has an atomic weight of 12, with six protons and six neutrons (neutral particles) in the nucleus. Likewise oxygen is atomic number 8, and atomic weight 16; 16 particles in the nucleus.
When a carbon atom burns, it is oxidized by oxygen to form the CO2 molecule. This molecule has a combined weight of 12 + 16 + !6 or 44 nucleotides. It is therefore 44 over 12, or 3.66 times the weight of one carbon atom. When one carbon atom burns the CO2 molecule is 3.66 times the weight of the carbon atom; when one pound of pure carbon burns, 3.66 pounds of CO2 is formed; when one ton of carbon is burned, 3.66 tons of CO2 is formed; when one billion tons of coal (typical year for America) are burned, 3.66B tons should be expected.
The US produces 6 billion tons of CO2 per year (eis.doe.gov), and 85% , or 5.1B tons is from fossil fuels. If one billion tons coal produced 3.3B tons CO2, all of the remaining oil and natural gas would only give 1.8 billion tons, which seems unlikely. The discrepancy is because coal burning is only 75% efficient (Taftan). It may therefore, only emit 3.3B tons X 75%, or 2.5B tons CO2, with the remainder. 0 2.6B tons from oil and natural gas.This now seems reasonable, e.g., natural gas burns so much more completely and emissions from burning are so much less than coal.
This is consistent with the data in Post "Clean Coal" and Global Warming, from a NY Times article, showing that coal burning produces 1897 pounds of CO2 per million BTU; while natural gas, much more efficient, emits only 842 pounds.
If the Taftan link doesn't open; use www.taftan.com/xl/combus1.htm.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Nuclear Waste Isn't.

How in the world, did the world, allow anti-nuclear zealots to convince us that spent nuclear fuel is waste, when it is in fact, a treasure trove.
Moreover, they say that the spent fuel will be radioactive for tens of thousands of years and that it cannot be safely stored. The U-235, source of the bombs, and energy, and controversy, has been in the ground for billions of years, slowly decaying into radon, to form part of background radiation we must live with all of our lives, killing a small number of us every year.
For years President Carter's silly worry about proliferation has prevent us from reprocessing the spent fuel. Did he think someone could steal the spent fuel and make a bomb in a garage? However, luckily for the continuation of civilization, the tide is changing. Plans are in the works for many new nuclear electric plants worldwide, and the US Energy Department hopes to have a reprocessing plant up and running by 2020, if the technology is feasible. Four contracts have been awarded (Associated Press, Oct. 3, 2007) under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Under this program, nations such as the United States and Russia will provide uranium fuel to other nations for generation of electricity. The spent fuel will then be retrieved for reprocessing; a practical way to minimize proliferation

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

100 Nukes Equal 4MBPD or 200M Tons/Year of Oil

No one has commented, and no one seemed impressed by the facts in the title above, when these same data were used in an earlier post. 100 tiny plants, relatively, can produce the same energy as a veritable sea of oil. As oceans rise with global warming emissions from oil, and other fossil fuels, and as oil prices rise relentlessly until oil vanishes, the world economy (civilization itself) is in critical danger.

Right today, worldwide, 84MBPD of oil is consumed. This is equal to the energy from 1700 nuclear electric plants (per eia.doe.gov, 100 U.S. plants equal 8Q energy; U.S. 20MBPD oil equal 42Q; therefore 100 nukes equal about 20% of U.S. oil consumption or 4MBPD). Also, one BPD of oil equals 50 tons per year (google), therefore 4MBPD, or 1.5BBPY, equal 200 million tons of oil.

Anti-nuclear activists say use renewables such as wind instead. I agree that this would be great, as long as they really mean it, and build millions of huge wind turbines (2000KW, minimum). If they are so concerned, why aren't they assembling the capital and starting to build? In the real world of U.S. capital, nuclear plants are seen to be viable investments, with 30 or more possible in the next 20 years. Except for Germany, which has made an enormous governmental investment, wind turbines are not catching on.