I get requests to do various interviews-by-email while I am at sea. It’s
not that easy finding time to do them, the daily blog pretty much using
up the time I can bear to sit in the cabin working at a laptop, but I do
my best to get around to them eventually. After all, that’s what I’m out
here for, isn’t it – to broadcast messages about the environment.

There was a question the other day that stopped me in my tracks – or
rather, it was my immediate answer to it that stopped me. The question
was: What do you think is the biggest environmental challenge facing the
planet at the moment?

And my answer? Humanity. It just popped out. And then I thought about
it. And I couldn’t disagree with myself.

If I was Planet Earth, feeling a bit under the weather (so to speak) and
trying to figure out what was bugging me, I would have to put “Humanity”
at the top of my list. Those pesky humans, always digging into me and
polluting me and making me feel hot and bothered.

And there are so many of them these days. Seems like just yesterday
there were only a billion of them or so. Now there are nearly seven
billion, and they are everywhere, chopping down my forests and building
new houses and factories all over the place. All that construction makes
me itch.

Never mind. They’ll be gone soon. Like the dinosaurs. I liked dinosaurs.
Didn’t do much apart from eat, but they were pretty harmless. They were
around for a long time. These humans reckon that they (humans) are an
intelligent life form, but if they carry on as they are, they will be
extinct in very short order. Not even close to the dinosaurs’ record.
And it will all be their own fault.

What’s so intelligent about that?

Other Stuff:

The sea anchor is out. True to the forecast, the wind rose from the west
during the afternoon.

But apart from the fact I am going backwards, today has not been a bad
day. There are definitely more fish in this part of the ocean. This
morning when the sea was calm, almost every time I looked over the side
of the boat I could see a little troupe of fishies (mahi mahi?) down
below. A few times a fish jumped clear of the water – up to about six
feet in the air.

I could also see some strange oily globules on the surface of the water.
About the size of a penny, generally round in shape. I took some photos
but they’re not clear enough to survive rendering at low res. When back
ashore I will show them to the experts.

This afternoon I did a few bits of maintenance, including changing the
filter on the watermaker, and made a mindmap of philosophical musings in
the back of my logbook. And ate an entire bag of almonds (8oz) and a bar
of chocolate. All that thinking about the meaning of life gives me a
heck of an appetite.

Our latest Roz Roams podcast is live. Episode 37: News from the Frøzen
Nørth. Thanks to Vic Phillipson.

Congrats to Oceanswatch and Chris Bone on their acquisition of a Wharram
Catamaran for their ocean monitoring and education projects. If you’d
like to get out on the big blue and do something to help, check out
oceanswatch.org.

Marks-the-Spot – what latitude is the space station orbiting? I hope
they can’t actually see me – I’d have to put some clothes on when they
fly over!

Thanks, Aimee, for the update on ocean rowers on the Pacific, and to
Janice for the info on poles of inaccessibility. Interesting that Ikuo
Tateo is going from California to Japan – although I can understand why
he wants to go that way (assuming that he is Japanese, and in fact, also
assuming that he is a he) it’s more usual to go the other way. So he
will have his work cut out. Good luck to him!

John H – thanks for the info on rainbows. Most of the bows I have seen
have been at sunrise, so I had got used to the higher arc. Your circular
rainbow as seen from a plane sounds amazing. Trippy!

Thought for the day:
Never mistake knowledge for wisdom.
One helps you make a living.
The other helps you make a life.
(Anon)

Photo: I was rather fond of this picture of my fishy friends, with
sunbeams. Joan, what do you reckon?!

Sponsored miles: Thomas Huddle, Scott McCarter, Nick Perdiew, Alexandra Stevens, Nancy Bowman, Doug Grandt (in memory of Larry), Courtney Elwood, Karen Morss, Jennifer Bester, Kamas Industries – grateful thanks for sponsoring.

42 Comments

  • Yes the earth is starting to feel hot and bothered: if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels and switch to non polluting nuclear soon, we will expire in the heat of the greenhouse effect as Venus has! France was very smart and has virtually all nuclear power. Politics however has robbed the US of our nuclear waste site for our current program (which is also pretty much dead as of now), but hopefully the new nuclear reactors envisioned will not have any residual material left over, they will burn off everything, and not even have an ash that needs to be thrown out!

    The earth has had warm spells of it’s own: eons ago the North and South poles were down to no ice at all, with the equator much hotter than today, then the ice ages came and the ice caps of the North and South poles were not small as today but extended over all of Canada, down into the United States, and all of France! The South Pole was the same, extending into Chile and almost to the southern tip of Africa! Humans survived, but life is not easy in either extreme and many may die when they return.

    Sorry you are going backwards as of the moment, but that will change and you are plucky enough to get where you want to go, I know!!

    Best,

    John H

    • There is absolutely nothing non-polluting about nuclear!

      If you examine the entire cycle from the mining of the uranium ore, the extraction/separation of the uranium from the rock, the, the enrichment of it, the construction and needed supplies for the power stations, and last but not least the fact that  radioactive waste that really cannot be stored anywhere safely, it is extremely polluting.  Even if you did find a place to store the radioactive waste it is still extremely polluting.  Then there’s the problem of what happens when something goes wrong as it did in Japan recently with the tsunami.  They will be cleaning up that mess for a very very long time.

      As for “the earth has had warm spells . . .” Ummmm none of those were caused by humans and none of them occurred at the pace/rate the present wave of climate change is happening.  As for humans surviving or not . . . we’re not the only inhabitants of this beautiful planet, we do not own the planet . . . we share it with the other species.  The idea that everything on the planet is here for our use at the expense of everything and every other being is a false assumption.

      • I would trade fossil for nuclear any day!!!! The CO2 from fossil fuel is polluting the entire earth! Think of that! The ENTIRE EARTH COULD BE WIPED OUT! Demolishing 500 mountain tops to get to coal….. millions of gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico… millions of gallons of oil flowing into the waters of Alaska…. check with them if they figure there is no pollution from fossil fuel. The Japan instance is old school and unfortunate, we need to look forward. The new SSTAR units that are self contained are the way to go!! They are safe and produce no CO2 (see — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSTAR). Obama closed our safe place to store waste, it would have been absolutely safe and non polluting for 1,000,000 years…. but for politics.

        Roz is looking for new and better ways for us to be good shepherds for this planet, continued burning of fossil fuels is not sustainable, solar is not feasible at this time, and wind generators are a dream (they cost more in maintenance than they produce in generating power!). What is your solution??

        • How do you account for the CO2 emissions, radioactive waste from mining the uranium, and radioactive was in the enrichment process?  Never mind all the other environmental costs of the process from beginning (mining uranium) to end?

          • None of the above come even close to being in the same universe as the CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuel! Maybe .0000001% ! The waste is tiny compared to the destruction of mountains, destruction of oceans, destruction of our entire world through the greenhouse effect. It is very manageable. Why is only a small mine in Nevada large enough to bury most of the nuclear waste worldwide? The environmental cost is so minor in scale in comparison that we are not even talking one in a billion.

          • You can’t possibly believe that the mining and processing of uranium ore is of low environmental impact?

            A substantial quantity of the uranium mined is done with the open pit method which is extremely destructive of the environment.  Additionally, “up to 85 percent of the radiological elements contained in the original uranium ore end up in the tailings.”  

            [source:  http://pubs.pembina.org/reports/ClearingAir_UraniumMining.pdf ]

            Furthermore the dust blowing from those tailings piles can contaminate much larger areas every time the wind blows.  You can attempt to cover the piles but that does nothing for the time period the piles are uncovered as additional tailings are disposed of.  In fact few such piles are ever covered completely until mining is completed.

            Add to that the fact the, “In terms of both short and long term environmental impact, uranium mining is by far the most environmentally problematic of any mining activity because radioactivity of the ore presents an intangible that cannot be chemically mitigated.”

            [source:  http://serc.carleton.edu/research_education/nativelands/navajo/environmental.html ]

            There’s more but I’d take up far more space than I’m sure Roz would appreciate.  

            In parting I suggest taking a gander at:

            http://www.wise-uranium.org/uwai.html

            Where it is stated: “The amount of sludge produced is nearly the same as that of the ore milled. At a grade of 0.1% uranium, 99.9% of the material is left over.  Apart from the portion of the uranium removed, the sludge contains all the constituents of the ore. As long lived decay products such as thorium-230 and radium-226 are not removed, the sludge contains 85% of the initial radioactivity of the ore. Due to technical limitations, all of the uranium present in the ore can not be extracted. Therefore, the sludge also contains 5% to 10% of the uranium initially present in the ore.”

            In other words it remains highly radioactive and damaging of the environment for a very long time.

          • In comparing the uranium mines to the coal mines, coal is much worse. There are immense areas of the earth left uninhabitable by coal mining. Yes, the U238 material left in place is the same material that was there in the first place (but it is not radioactive as the U235 removed is, or there would be no sense leaving it), and yes there sometimes are terrible consequences to the methods used for uranium mining, but, again, that pales in comparison to the destruction of the earth from mining and burning fossil fuel. I understand the impact of uranium mining, and also wish that a better method was being used. On the other hand, one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of Uranium can provide as much energy as 3000 tons of coal. That is 6,000,000 pounds of coal, 6 million pounds vs 2 pounds!!! How many mines and how terrible is coal mining!

            We are also downblending the U235 in nuclear weapons to use in power. Weapons grade material requires 98% +/- U235; nuclear power requires 4%, so some of the fuel for power is coming from our nuclear stockpile! We are pounding our swords into plowshares, not mining for more!

      • The rate of change in the climate may be due to burning of fossil fuels, not nuclear! I totally agree that the we are not the only inhabitants, that is why our burning fossil fuels is so bad, not only could we destroy humans but even worse, before humans go, we would be destroying other species! You do not think that the destruction of mountains and oceans to get fossil fuels is right do you? Our destruction of the earth in the search of and consumption of fossil fuels would be terrible, the assumption that we can keep on destroying everything in search of and burning fossil fuels is really bogus! Nuclear plays a role in climate change, yes, to the better! There proportionally is no CO2 given off!

    • John, I must agree with Cynthia completely in all her points. To add one more, the nuclear industry often attempts to compare the costs of nuclear energy to others, while ignoring the large $$ spent by federal governments.

      One of the biggest problems with nuclear energy is the storage of nuclear waste. Should we saddle hundreds of generations to come with the task of guarding nuclear waste, so that we can generate some power now?

      About twenty-five years ago, I did studies of this very problem while at Lockheed-Martin. Various locations for storage were proposed by the US Fed government, including old salt mines in Utah and Nevada. It was assumed there would *never* be any earthquakes, geological shifts, flooding or any other problems with these areas. This is a very poor assumption.

      Also, nuclear waste itself is not stable. In addition to being radioactive, it is also highly toxic and corrosive. People thought that it would be easy to design and build containers for this waste that would last “forever.” this has proven to be false. Of all of the admitted “gotchas” twenty-five years ago, the nuclear industry assumed that it would be easy to create a process that will turn nuclear waste into a more stable, ceramic type material. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on research in this area with no success.

      So, I must say that your statement that “Obama closed our safe place to store waste, … absolutely safe and non polluting for 1,000,000 years…. but for politics” is completely incorrect.

      And, I am not sure where you get your information that wind powered generators cost more in maintenance than the power they produce. I have never seen any legitimate information that supports this conclusion; and I have investigated the economics of wind power investments. And your statement “solar is not feasible at this time” is based on …?

      Being good shepherds of this planet means much more than simple changing how we produce energy. It means reducing human impact on the planet in all ways, not merely trading carbon pollution for other problems.

      • Storage of nuclear waste is in glass, not ceramics and is ongoing in SRS and Hanford. This glass, even if submerged in water, or ground to tiny bits will not pose any problem! It is not soluble. It is not even a security problem, this was the intent! It would be immensely easier to go to a uranium mine and steal the ore than to try to recover anything out of the glass! Guarding one mine in Nevada is very easy compared to guarding every site we are doing right now to the tune of $11 billion in the next decade. Assuming that there would “never” be earthquakes, geological shifts, or flooding is indeed a poor assumption, that is why the glass!!! Even with all of these occurring, there would not be a problem! An earthquake would bury the stuff and water cannot get to it. The glass is a “forever” “container”, the nuclear material and the glass are mixed in the molten state, no external container is needed once it is in the repository!! In that state it is not toxic, nor corrosive. Your research into ceramics may have been an expensive failure, but watching the production of the glass was wonderful to me!

        I interviewed a vice president of Energy Northwest. Energy Northwest produces solar, hydro, wind and nuclear power. The hydro and nuclear power supports the rest. Their Nine Canyon Wind Project provides less power than the maintenance of it and unless the government requires them to continue it, it will rust up and stop on it’s own. The generators cost $5 each and have to be fully rebuilt every 10 years, with extensive maintenance every five years. They have less than an expected life of 20 years and only produce power for 5 to 6 months a year. So far they are a money pit (like a boat, a hole in the air into which you toss your money and it blows away).

        A solar power station costs 10 times what a nuclear power plant does, takes up 100 times the space, and provides power only 30% of the time. There is no good way to store the power of the remaining 70% of the time.

        So why do power companies build solar and wind? They are forced to by legislation. Why do the power companies burn fossil fuel? Because they are not allowed to build nuclear due to ignorance. So, we are stuck with building fossil and strangling our world on the discharge.

          • Yes the glass is radioactive, if you were to stand beside the cylinders they were pouring you would be dead in 45 minutes. But where were we going to put them? Deep underground 75 miles from the nearest population! Where they would be no danger to anyone! The radioactivity cannot pass through 3 feet of salt, much less a quarter of a mile of salt and earth!!

            Again, the ratio of environmental costs of mining are 6 million to 2.

        • John, I am quite familiar with Energy Northwest. They do *very* little in the way of solar and wind, and not as much nuclear as most. Their mainstay is hydro; no surprise. It is interesting to review their literature, in which they claim hydro power stations no longer impact the local waterways as they have in the past. In fact, their literature and the information they send out to local schools would suggest these hydro stations have no impact at all.

          This is not a supportable position, even though environmental engineers understand how to engineer these types of efforts much better than in the past. But, to ignore the true impacts and pretend they do not exist creates a false economy when comparing alternatives.

          To suggest that a solar power station costs 10 times a nuclear power station is incorrect. There have been some solar stations of high costs, because they were prototypes. But, to compare such a station to a poorly designed nuclear station (look at the Japanese plant based on US designs) that has yearly operation costs heavily subsidized by government is also a false comparison.

          And, your insistence that wind is more costly than the maintenance is simply wrong. Due to topography and wind patterns, the NW has not proven to be a great place to locate wind powered generators. If you want to see an example of wind at work, check out the wind farms in Texas; more wind towers than any other state, a state that has historically based its power on oil, a state that does not heavily promote wind or other alternatives, as some states have. The investors have been very happy with the progress made in Texas.

      • The $5 million for each wind turbine and $1 million a mile to get the power to the nearest power lines, together with the constant down time (either the wind is too high, too low, or something is broken), the extreme costs of bring in three cranes (each one larger than the first) to get to the height needed to replace critical parts, the cost of the complete rebuild at ten years, all have added up to more than the power generated at the site.

        Trading cost efficient methods of power production with inefficient methods does have a huge human impact. Your electric bill would be 1/4 what it is if the US had gone as France did, went all nuclear. Don’t you think that is a great human impact – especially on the poor? Much less the human impact that CO2 has???

      • I presume that your investigation of the economics of wind power  have included subsidies? The imposition of heavy “taxes” (especially on the poor) so that you can say “See, we can be green, we have wind turbines!”

    • I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I do like things that make sense.

      I asked a US Navy friend about nuclear power and safety a few years ago … “We have over a hundred nuclear warships and nuclear submarines. I sleep next to one for months on end. The guy next to me gets paid three grades less than I do. He is the guy that works on the reactor.”

      There is current reports about the building of similar mini nuclear power plants to power approximately 100,000 homes. If this becomes evident, it would be wise for us to know more (both benefits and costs, including maintenence, replacement, rivaling technologies, impact, etc) Unlike our ancestors, we have the power to use the internet to spread awareness.

      Upon further research I chanced upon this article. It is a bit long but again many parts fit in an overall puzzle. Especially why the US is in Afghanistan and the push to continue selling fossil fuel at all cost, (higher cost). It even includes the use of environmental groups for an anti nuclear movement. In-fighting and multiple agendas could only help in maintaining status quo ironically enough. I offer it to you for reading, sharing and your own opinion, and not to be arguementative… 

      warning: it is a definately a conspiracy theorist point of view, but interesting though long.

      Black Gold Hot Gold by Marshall Douglass Smith
      (part five is not available)

      http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/black_gold_1.htm

      as a break from all of the above, if you look up on wikipedia, you will see that the current day peace sign (most think come from US hippy movement in the 60’s) actually come from a march in London. The peace sign comes from the letters “N” and “D” in semiphore, (how sailors communicated with flags). It stood for “nuclear disarmament” and touched off the 60’s peace, love, respect movement in the US…

      Some of those Brits really do rock and change the world… How is that little red ensign flag now Roz? I hope it is wagging in your direction! Keep Rowing!

      • Thanks for the link Outsidejay, you are right that it was a conspiracy site but the part on nuclear was interesting, if only partly true:

        ”    Are nuclear reactors safe, clean and reliable? Go
        ask the US Navy. They have been running hundreds of nuclear reactors for
        over 40 years in their ships, submarines and aircraft carriers. Not one
        accident or radiation leak. When it comes time to change the used nuclear
        fuel, after the old fuel is removed and they wait two days for the
        short-term radiation components in the core container to fade away, the
        nuclear swabbies actually enter the reactor core, and do their regular
        maintenance work.”Actually they cut the entire core out and ship it to Hanford where you can see them all lined up (using Google Earth!). The core is still hot, but it is well shielded and you can walk right up next to them (but you would die if you were to open it up and get inside!!) The reason that you can see them in an aerial is that we have an agreement with Russia to leave them uncovered so the Russians can see them with their satellites.
         
        ”    The US Navy runs more nuclear reactors than
        anybody else in the world. The radiation output from a fully operating
        sealed and shielded Navy nuclear reactor is zero. If you want proof of
        that, go ask the Navy, especially the thousands of Navy-trained nuclear
        technicians and engineers who work on those reactors. And go ask the Navy
        submariners who may spend up to six months of sea duty within feet of an
        operating nuclear reactor. They should know. And they will all tell you
        the same thing.”
         
        ”    Within several years, when the US laws
        prohibiting nuclear waste recycling are dropped, the
        “environmentalists” will become the strongest advocates of clean
        nuclear energy. They will point out that nuclear fuel is recyclable with
        no emissions, while that nasty petroleum fuel is not recyclable and has
        terrible emissions dangerous to health and the planet.”Interesting relative to the last paragraph, we are recycling – Google the MOX plant at the Savannah River Site . But most people do not know it, and are so set against nuclear that they do not want to hear the good. We do have an agreement with Russia to not recycle, but George Bush ignored it and had the recycling plant built.

      • Sorry, my reply was garbled when it was reformatted upon uploading.
        I will try again, below is the article, then my comments:

        ”    Are nuclear reactors safe, clean and reliable? Go
        ask the US Navy. They have been running hundreds of nuclear reactors for
        over 40 years in their ships, submarines and aircraft carriers. Not one
        accident or radiation leak. When it comes time to change the used nuclear
        fuel, after the old fuel is removed and they wait two days for the
        short-term radiation components in the core container to fade away, the
        nuclear swabbies actually enter the reactor core, and do their regular
        maintenance work.”

        ”     The US Navy runs more nuclear reactors than
        anybody else in the world. The radiation output from a fully operating
        sealed and shielded Navy nuclear reactor is zero. If you want proof of
        that, go ask the Navy, especially the thousands of Navy-trained nuclear
        technicians and engineers who work on those reactors. And go ask the Navy
        submariners who may spend up to six months of sea duty within feet of an
        operating nuclear reactor. They should know. And they will all tell you
        the same thing.”

        ”     Within several years, when the US laws
        prohibiting nuclear waste recycling are dropped, the
        “environmentalists” will become the strongest advocates of clean
        nuclear energy. They will point out that nuclear fuel is recyclable with
        no emissions, while that nasty petroleum fuel is not recyclable and has
        terrible emissions dangerous to health and the planet. But before that
        happens the “environmentalists” must complete their current
        project of changing the US laws prohibiting recycling and private
        ownership of nuclear fuels.”.

            MY COMMENTS: The “swabbies” do not get into the core. Actually they cut the entire core out and ship it to Hanford where you
        can see them all lined up (using Google Earth!). The core is still hot,
        but it is well shielded and you can walk right up next to them (but you
        would die if you were to open it up and get inside!!) The reason that
        you can see them in an aerial is that we have an agreement with Russia
        to leave them uncovered so the Russians can see them with their
        satellites.

        Interesting relative to the last paragraph, we ARE recycling – Google
        the MOX plant at the Savannah River Site . But most people do not know
        it, and are so set against nuclear that they do not want to hear the
        good. We do have an agreement with Russia to not recycle, but George
        Bush ignored it and had the recycling plant built.

        I hope this is more clear!

    • I certainly am not an expert, and can only echo what seems reasonable from “experts” but I have to say with all sincerity that I love this conversation … we seem to be of a like mind on a couple essential ideas, and we are passionate about it. This is good.  My only contribution to what has already been said is that we may be talking about different kinds or generations of nuclear power. 

      Dr. James Hansen has been outspoken on keeping out options open with 4th generation nuclear in case renewable energy sources fail to fill our needs.  Dr. Hansen suggests that we focus immediate attention on abandoning coal as we replace it with wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and other renewables — known and yet unknown technologies — and that we invest not only in new renewables but also 4th generation nuclear as an ace in the hole.  Theoretically, if we can implement 4th generation nuclear, it will consume the nuclear waste that we have sitting around waiting to be buried, and it will produce zero waste of any consequence (my simple understanding of it).  It is also my understanding that to build traditional nuclear plants of the current design would take decades to fill the gap left by shutting down old “CO2 dirty” coal plants.

      So we need to keep our options open, but focus on getting renewables ramping up.  My money is on distributed solar thermal for water heating, space heating, cooling — yes, cooling is already in production. Google ‘solar thermal cooling chilling’ http://bit.ly/SolarChilling or ‘yazaki thermal solar cooling’ http://bit.ly/YazakiCooling … if we could just get the volume of production up quickly so the cost could come down, the payback on our homes and businesses would be good and the move toward clean cheap heat will start in earnest.

      DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency http://arpa-e.energy.gov is supporting research in a myriad of hair-brained entrepreneurial innovative ideas, and the results are amazing already. Nuclear is among them.

      Keep it alive … Rozlings with passion rule!

      • Oh, and to gradually impose the “externalized” costs (health, cleanup, environmental degradation, etc.) that are not yet included in the market price of coal, oil and natural gas, to get to a true cost that will allow equity with renewable energy, we need to place a pollution fee on carbon which would send the “price signal” to industry so there is a predictable cost for future investment planning. We the public need to have the resultant increase in cost for goods and services that is passed through to be offset. There are several proposed mechanisms to do just that, one of which is explained in the video at the Million Letter March page http://www.MillionLetterMarch.org which is a project of the Citizen Climate Lobby http://www.CitizensClimateLobby.org … 

        • Sorry Roz, but the misinformation needs to be corrected.

          Thanks UncaDoug, the links are interesting. It says on the Million Letter March website that fees should be charged on fossil fuel…. “Impose gradually rising carbon fees on fossil fuels as they enter the economy”, but then…”Return all revenues from carbon fees in monthly per-person rebate checks”.

          OK, so I am going to pay $100 extra in my electric bill, $50 more for gasoline, $200 more for all the products I buy (like more expensive groceries that the price increased for shipping –  and that TV I just bought that cost more because the plastic and all the parts cost more due to the carbon fee). Then I get a check from the government? How much am I going to get? I will bet it will not be $350 (and six months late)! How is the government going to figure out what my percentage is? How much will your rebate be? Will we have to send in all our receipts to get that rebate?? Then send in our estimate of the increased costs?? i.e.: “My estimate is $2,000 this month, how much is your estimate this month UncaDoug?”  How much is the bureaucracy going to skim from the top? Wow, sounds crazy to me! But wait, it will create more jobs! (Jobs which WE will have to pay someone to do!)     🙂

          • Briefly as I am at work … 100% of the pollution fee would be returned to the public each month.  Because the carbon fee would be imposed at the well head, mine, port of entry, there are relatively few points to deal with.  Existing IRS infrastructure would collect the fees, with no increase in the size of the organization.  The dividend would be distributed either by mail or direct deposit monthly, or possibly quarterly … the idea is to get the money back to the public as soon as it is collected.  The government would collect no portion of it. 100% goes back to us to compensate for increased costs of goods and services.  Those of us who have a smaller carbon footprint would come out ahead … those who have a larger footprint will presumably be able to afford their excess use of carbon.  Those who want to drive SUVs and fly will end up paying more, those who drive energy efficient cars and conserve will have extra to spend as they please.  The initial checks would amount to about $250 per household per year, and they would increase to say, $3000 per household per year.  The proposal is to allow up to two adult “shares” and up to two child “half shares” per household, so if a “share” is valued at $1,000 at some point, two adults would receive $1,000 each and two kids would receive $500 each, for a total of $3,000 per year, distributed monthly.  Well, this is a generalized intent … as they say, the devil is in the details. Gotta get back to work.  Later ;-D

          • Increased manpower would be needed – issuing 310 million checks each month is not trivial, nor cost free (ask your bank to please issue 310,000,000 checks every month…and do it for free!). Keeping track of the change in address or bank account number of 310 million people – not possible without hundreds if not thousands of more personnel. Keeping track of who is an adult and who is not, another nightmare. But it would have one advantage, those who fail to file income tax refunds could be weeded out! No tax record, no money.

            This $1 trillion per year would be ripe for all kinds of scams, check out the people who scammed millions from FEMA after Katrina! Adding $1 trillion to our costs, even with eventual payback would be suicide.

            It also sounds like creeping socialism to me. Take from the rich and give to the poor., but hey, I am poor, send money!

          • John, I was on a nationwide conference call this afternoon and this link was mentioned — http://www.carbontax.org — pay particular attention to the June 10 article “The Carbon Tax Revenue Menu”, especially “Payroll Tax Rebate” and “Deficit Reduction”

    • The 4th generation nuclear concept which is yet to be proven in production, is out there as hope that we can harness nuclear in a sustainable fashion.  Current technology is not sustainable.  Why?  Because, like any finite resource, it is being depleted. Deposits of minerals and ores and organic materials in the form of coal, oil and natural gas are finite.  The saving grace of 4th generation nuclear is that it gobbles up the nuclear waste we have already produced, and don’t ask me the details, but it is sustainable, somehow breeding its own fuel — seems a bit like perpetual motion — and that is probably why it is so difficult and unlikely to succeed.  It is a theory.

      A couple years ago, I did some research on peak everything. Here is one source that I just now came upon which appears to be one that I found before: 

      Uranium Depletion and Nuclear Power: Are We at Peak Uranium?

      I suggest we all take a look: http://bit.ly/PeakUranium

      Here is the summary. Note the last sentence:

      Any forecast of the development of nuclear power in the next 25 years has to concentrate on two aspects, the supply of uranium and the addition of new reactor capacity. At least within this time horizon, neither nuclear breeding reactors nor thorium reactors will play a significant role because of the long lead times for their development and market penetration. This assessment results in the conclusion that in the short term, until about 2015, the long lead times of new and the decommissioning of ageing reactors perform the barrier for fast extension, and after about 2020 severe uranium supply shortages become likely which, again will limit the extension of nuclear energy.”

      If you like charts, take a look at the one below. In that context, the author concludes, “Now if you take into account that nuclear energy produces 16% of world electricity, and less than 5% primary energy supply, it seems impossible to me for nuclear energy with current technology to ever satisfy a big part of the world’s energy demand.”

      Uranium is limited and we we need to bank on sources that are not limited resources — that may well include conservation and other innovative behavior.

      Cheers!

      • Doug, so far we have been discussing fission power plants, and the 4th generation is indeed theoretical based on the claims of the nuclear industry. I personally am not holding my breath.

        There is also some hope for fusion power plants some day. But, they are not radiation free. Fusion produces extremely high levels of neutron radiation that contaminate devices within a fusion plant. But, fusion plants could some day turn out to be an interesting alternative.

        In the mean time, we need to spend the money required to develop more passive alternatives. AND, we need to reduce our consumption of energy. On a per capita basis, western countries are very wasteful.

      • UncaDoug, did you see who wrote that?   “Miquel Torres has a degree in Physics from the University of Valencia,
        he currently lives in Germany and works in secondary education and in
        the field of energy investment.”

        Torres has been publishing that same tripe for the past twenty years. He stated that we were going to run out of uranium by 1990, Why you ask? Look at what his profession is – “energy investment”. He is trying to drum up clients!!!! He has investments in oil and uranium mines he wants you to buy at an inflated rate! His real job is a secondary school teacher! Do you think that between the two he is a believable character??  You can ignore that entire “Oil Drum” web site. (Actually years ago I was fooled by it as well, I passed it on to those in the DOE who explained it to me, it is all fake.)

        • Yup, looks like speculation for short term capital gains is the motive … because long term sustainability is not there:

          http://bit.ly/jWOXDn … Sound Investing: Uranium

          http://bit.ly/jXSJwv … The Future is Green

          The author of the latter states:

          “Even some environmentalists are giving nuclear power a grudging second look. Judith Greenwald, director of innovative solutions for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change commented; ‘Nuclear power can contribute to solving the climate-change problem, if it can solve its own problems.’

          “The problem that they are overlooking is that uranium production has already peaked and is in decline:

          [refer to the chart below on the left]

          “The shortfall in production has been covered by several secondary sources including excess inventories held by utilities, producers, other fuel cycle participants, reprocessed uranium and plutonium derived from used reactor fuel, and uranium derived from the dismantling of Russian nuclear weapons. As excess inventories and nuclear weapons are used up, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain supply for existing reactors.

          “The only way out is renewable sources of energy, but renewable sources are small scale, local, and independent of the net; the energy industry has to make a major adjustment in the way they view energy production in order to make the jump.”

          • Now we are attacking nuclear power because of lack of uranium? Very strange. In fact those websites are just trying to stop nuclear, not providing facts, but scare tactics. Try a REAL website:

            http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeAvailabilityOfUsableUranium

            ” At a price of $US110 per kg the known reserves amount to about 85 years
            supply at the current level of consumption with an expected further 500
            years supply in additional or speculative reserves.”

            So why the scare tactics about the supply of uranium?

        • Yup, looks like speculation for short term capital gains is the motive … because long term sustainability is not there:

          http://bit.ly/jWOXDn … Sound Investing: Uranium

          http://bit.ly/jXSJwv … The Future is Green

          The author of the latter states:

          “Even some environmentalists are giving nuclear power a grudging second look. Judith Greenwald, director of innovative solutions for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change commented; ‘Nuclear power can contribute to solving the climate-change problem, if it can solve its own problems.’

          “The problem that they are overlooking is that uranium production has already peaked and is in decline:

          [refer to the chart below on the left]

          “The shortfall in production has been covered by several secondary sources including excess inventories held by utilities, producers, other fuel cycle participants, reprocessed uranium and plutonium derived from used reactor fuel, and uranium derived from the dismantling of Russian nuclear weapons. As excess inventories and nuclear weapons are used up, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain supply for existing reactors.

          “The only way out is renewable sources of energy, but renewable sources are small scale, local, and independent of the net; the energy industry has to make a major adjustment in the way they view energy production in order to make the jump.”

  • Roz, your thinking over the last few days, as reported in your blog, has my mind buzzing. Over the last several decades these same thoughts and wonderings have risen to the surface of my consciousness on numerous occasions. I have a library of books from the 70’s and then again in the 90’s collected during these spells. I’ve been around long enough to see at least two generations take a shot at dealing with earth’s problems as you describe them. None of our efforts so far have really turned the tide. Let us hope that the awareness people like you stir up in the middle aged people of the planet provide enough support to the youth of the world – they will be the instruments of change – that this time we will see the needed change.

    The change will come. We can make it occur in ways that our species can bear. Or we  can ignore the obvious signs of danger and end up with a disaster for or species and some others; earth and life on it will survive but it may look a lot different than it does now.

    Thanks for helping me think mostly positive thoughts about the future of humans. Continue to spread the word and 

    Row on Roz
      

    • Agree, Stan!  Youth need the freedom to take charge … and many already already are!  Youth can ask an adult to work or them, to help implement their ideas for change.  We adults, need to find a young person to work for, to facilitate their personal growth as leaders. 

      Just one example among many is Alec Loorz, who at age 13 founded Kids-vs-Global-Warming.com and at the age of 14 thought of having a Million Kid March. That march actually occurred around the world as the Mothers Day  iMatterMarch.org … certainly not a million kids, but worth a million dollars in training and self esteem for the kids who organized 160 iMatter Marches in 45 countries (80 marches in the US).  Alec just turned 17, and is a shining example of the passion and commitment that draws kids together … it is happening in other countries around the world, including Germany, Russia, England, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, and too many others to mention here.The best part for me is there are a dozen fledgling leaders (10+ high school and 2 college freshmen) here in Sacramento as a result of that event. Two adults facilitated their trying their wings at leadership. In the  span of two weeks, they found their voices and their strengths. They had a small but ENORMOUS personal success.Find a kid to work for ;-D

  • Agree with you 100% about your feelings on the planet and the relationship with humans.  In fact, the planet will be just “fine”, once the humans are gone.  Even though Malthus is out of favor at the moment, he had some pretty good ideas about how once the human race exceeds its sustainability either in terms of “size” or “actions”, there are “natural laws” that will kick in to control or stop the “pesky humans”.  And of course, this is one of the areas were Christianity went completely off the tracks.  This whole concept of “God gave humans the right to complete dominion over the earth”, is just corporate-speak for “We want a license to rape and pillage the earth for our own profit”.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.  Both rowing, and speaking out.  You’re a “gem”.

    Rico

  • Hi Roz,

    Been following you for some time now. Your day 55 blog finally sucked me in. I’m not fond of Eat This not this because the author suggest you eat food that is really bad for you instead of food that is really, really bad for you. So happy to hear that you do not eat at mcDonald’s. I gave up all fast food four years ago and it feels great! You have been such an inspiration. A while back you suggested to someone to give up hot showers for four months. In a blog you talked about people wasting time watching TV. I had a tough time with the shower thing but have not watched TV for a month. Thank you. Good luck on your journey(s).

  • Hmm- heavy vibes on today’s postings. I highly recommend a
    great group of folks at – http://www.rmi.org/rmi/ for a down to earth factual
    knowledge base to continue further thought exchange. If you right or call –
    tell Amory Lovins howdy from bill @ Jordan Energy Institute. They have worked
    every corner of the planet for 25 plus years on energy, community and global
    social balance. Many of their papers and books are free down loads. Enjoy! :

     

    Roz so happy you enjoy the company under and about. Nothing
    like an unexpected visit from nature to brighten the day.  Ok Roz you might be drinking from the same
    global cup as Pat Farmer? He is about to head out on a Pole to pole run.
    Farmer, who began his run on April 6, wants to raise $100 million for
    clean-water programs in third-world countries.

    More details if folks are interested. You are both living
    and doing your dreams !

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/25/us-runner-poles-idUSTRE75O1B220110625

     

    I am very happy to read of the continued exchange of efforts
    and compassion by so many folks for local food. Real food for children and
    communities. Npr (91.5 fm, North Carolina) had an informative show on tomatoes
    this evening. If we could get those tough as leather and tasteless items listed
    as dangerous weapons? Perhaps restrict the transport across state lines- for
    safety sake! Well – dreams are dreams. Local really matters.

     

    Thought for the day:

    Love does not sit there like a stone; it has to be made,
    like bread. Remade all the time, made anew. – Ursula K. Le Guin

     

    #2 – It makes all the difference whether you hear an insect
    in the bedroom or in the garden. – Robert Lynd

     

    Be safe and warm, BSavage

  • Looks like we have some contenders for The “Richard from DFW bandwidth  hog medal.” Rita’s gonna get you. Those fish are giant squid with hybrid electric eels attached; very rare and dangerous.  Rozzee, I read your book.  I’ll never understand the pressing urge that drives white women to “find themselves” when the answers are so obvious, however; it is your life and you must find the way.
    Best of luck.  No, really I do wish you the best, and I’ll miss posting here.
    Tomas Texino  Panama,Panama

    PS I’m just teasing about the over posting, so don’t bother getting on my case. OK? Fine.

  • Very interesting day (comment wise). No wonder the average Joe Bloggs out there is confused & just wants to bury their collective heads in the sand (which could be turned into glass to bury nuclear waste! The sand that is, not their heads).

    Talking of glass, I’m going to do my bit by conserving bottles next month. Yes it’s July again so I’m doing Dry July – anyone want to join me?
    http://www.dryjuly.com/

    Roz, I love your fishy photo & ponding the little black blobs in the ocean.

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