Click to get your own widget

Saturday, June 07, 2008


From a discussion on Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor:

Regarding the availability of nuclear fuel - My understanding is that Professor Bernard Cohen calculated some years ago that it would be possible to obtain enough uranium from sea water to keep our current nuclear industry going till the Sun explodes. This would also require breeder reactors & recovering uranium from "waste" but we know how to do all that. Admittedly that much uranium isn't in the sea at the moment. He is fiddling a bit by assuming that the rivers will keep running the stuff down to the sea.

Boiling the seas would cost rather more than current mining but fuel is a far smaller component of nuclear power than of the conventional stuff so it doesn't much matter.

Even Wikipedia is forced to acknowledge that there are enormous resources though naturally it has been edited into an addendum at the end of their article

And when the uranium runs out we can use thorium.

Neil Craig

The important point is that there is enough uranium economically available to keep us going until we have solar power satellites and fusion plants. See A Step Farther Out; I dealt with much of this in my book. My Survival With Style presentation used to be fairly popular -- at least I got fairly high speaking fees for it -- and went into details about energy and other resources. It's in A Step Farther

UPDATE - Jerry has published this response, which confirms & extends what I said:
Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

I used to spend a lot of time arguing the nuclear power issue on local dial-up bulletin board systems and Usenet, including lots of time (pre-Internet) in various libraries looking up facts and figures.

My understanding of the figures on how long our proven reserves of uranium would last is that the quoted numbers are assuming that our current once-through fuel cycle is left in place permanently, and we'll continue throwing away the plutonium bred in the reactor and the leftover U235 along with the un-transmuted U238 until the end.

Buildup of neutron-absorbing fission products, not burn-up of all the fissionable isotopes, is the major factor in when a fuel rod must be replaced.

Just separating out the plutonium isotopes and the unburned uranium and recycling them into new fuel multiplies the length of time those proven reserves will last by several times, even without going to breeder reactors. Jimmy Carter banned fuel reprocessing in the U.S. by executive decree. One of my greatest disappointments with all the presidents after Carter is that none of them ever saw fit to get around to un-decreeing the ban.

Breeder reactors multiply how long our proven reserves will last by something like an order of magnitude. Then there's thorium breeders. According to my CRC handbook, thorium is "about as common as lead", and "there is probably more available energy in the earth's crust from thorium than from uranium and all fossil fuels put together."

And finally, according to a bit in Petr Beckmann's excellent book "The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear", written back around 1974 or so, the Japanese at that time had an ion-exchange process that could extract uranium from sea water at a cost of about $200/pound in 1974 dollars. That's probably about as inexhaustible as inexhaustible gets.

In my judgment there is no danger of a shortage of nuclear fuels.

Friday, June 06, 2008


While as much cooling in 1 years as we had warming in a century should be major news it is quite obviopus that it is not being & will not be reported by our continuously loyal media. However:

All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

... The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years [I thought this an understatement since the warming over the last century has been described as 0.6C] All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn't itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

Let's hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


No not a building company as I expected when I looked it up. Nothing so constructive.
Capacity Builders (UK) Limited (Capacitybuilders) is a company limited by guarantee and an executive non-departmental public body (NDPB). It commenced business on 3 April 2006 and assumed responsibility for delivering the ChangeUp programme (aims to improve the capacity and capability of organisations that offer services to the front-line) previously managed by the Home Office. Capacitybuilders has a £70.8 million budget to fund ChangeUp for the financial years 2006/07 and 2007/08. Their mission is to work to secure a high quality, sustainable funded infrastructure for the front line voluntary sector.

Yes but does anybody know what they actually do?

And who would actually be worse off if the stopped doing it.

It may be that what they are doing is giving money to Greenpeace & other approved "sustainable" charities which are on board for pushing for more government regulation.

They are one of the 1162 quangos that spend £63.5 billion of our money listed in a report (pp 8-35)by the Taxpayers Alliance.

The key findings of the report were:

 That no government office keeps a complete, public record of
the UK’s public bodies. This is our attempt to provide an authoritative,
comprehensive list.

 In 2006-07, taxpayers funded 1,162 public bodies, at a cost of
nearly £64 billion.

 This is equivalent to £2,550 per household in the UK.5

 Over 700,000 people in the UK work within this layer of quasigovernment.

 While the number of Executive Non-Departmental Public
Bodies - the classic “quango” - has fallen since 1997, from 1,128
to 827, the cost of these has soared from some £19 billion in 1997
to £31 billion in 2007, a growth in real terms of 50%.6 This reflects
three consistent trends: firstly, the merging of multiple smaller quangos
into super-quangos; secondly the creep of government into every
aspect of British life; and thirdly, the ever increasing willingness of
ministers to farm out the responsibilities of investment, regulation and
provision of services.

 Government definitions of public bodies exclude massive
swathes of ‘unseen’ government. The accountability of these
bodies is even more suspect as a result. Our definition is broader, and
captures a true picture of Britain’s public bodies’ landscape.

 The organisation of British government is difficult to comprehend.
Political and financial lines of responsibility are so divorced
that it is often difficult to ascertain where responsibility lies, or
to whom anyone is accountable. With no coherent structure,
duplication of responsibilities is endemic: for example, five bodies
monitor the water industries of the UK.

 Government itself does not know the true and size and cost of
government. The few official documents concerned with Britain’s
public bodies are out of date and often inaccurate. The Cabinet Office, whose responsibility it is to monitor and regulate public bodies, applies
a very limited definition of public body, and fails completely to provide
the public with clear information on the size and cost of the public

Now when was that "bonfire of the Quangos" going to start?

Incidentally I notice that their remit is, in the best tradition of Yes Minister, not "secure a high quality, sustainable funded infrastructure" but to "work to secure a high quality, sustainable funded infrastructure" so there are no failure standards & as long as they are doing some work, or what pases for it, everything is hunky-dory.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The government's chief science advisor Sir David King was attacked yesterday by the former editor of Nature & now the chief scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Jeff Harvey. He said that Sir David's statement that by the end of the century Antarctica would be the only habitable continent was a "kindergarten level analysis assuming that humans are exempt from the laws of nature" & that "If the climate warmed up at such a rate as to make the Antarctica habitable, at least in the time frame I think you are referring to, our species would be facing extinction in the face. Why? Because complex adaptive systems have not evolved to respond to change in such a short time scale". Mr Harvey also went on to attack any suggestion that an increase in CO2 would generally cause an increase in plant growth which has heretofore been accepted by virtually all scientists.

OK here's the skinny.

This was all said on a Green discussion board which I was directed to by a comment on here a few days ago called Deltoid. With a considerable amount of rudeness from most concerned Mr Harvey did indeed make that remark about Sir David since he had not properly read the post & thought the statement came from me. Such insults being common behaviour among those pushing the warming scam, at least in academe (or in the Netherlands)..

I replied (post 146

"Before I forget I agree with you on one point:

I would not have been so impolite as to say that the statement about Antarctica being the only inhabitable continent within a century indicated the author capable of only "kindergarten analysis" but since you have done so I cannot dispute it & reserve the right to quote you. If you had actually read what was written you would have seen it was written by Sir David King the government's chief science advisor & a prominent alarmist

I think I can say that repeatedly the "environmentalists" said things which I did prove were untrue, that they continuously refused to acknowledge even the most blatant untruths.

For example said:

"If we were building vast numbers of reactors they could be mass produced & the economies of scale would make them cheap enough for the Chinese to buy enough & for the Indians & even Bangladeshis to buy them with a little western aid." (post 87)

As a result of this statement alone I was repeatedly accused of having said that the western powers are currently preventing the Chinese building their own reactors. Not one single person on the "environmental" side even suggested that I said no such thing so that claim must remain as representing the standard of honesty to which even the most academic "environmentalists" aspire & yet is clearly a total & deliberate lie.

Now I am used to the Greens ranting & having a contempt for mere facts but some people on there, including Mr Harvey were clearly supposed to be serious academics (certainly making their living from it) at the most intellectual end of the "environmentalist" spectrum. Yet it is clear that even here they have no respect whatsoever for facts or real debate & will make up any lie or insult as they go on.

This is what the very best of "environmentalists" can come up with in the way of serious discussion & it is indeed "kindergarten" stuff. Less serious ones like Gore also make up stuff but go to great lengths not to face any sort of actual discussion.

I was previously banned from an earlier Deltoid thread on the grounds that when the discussion went off topic & I answered off topic points raised I also was going off topic & therefore, alone, should be banned. Obviously I have now been banned from this thread which I think I can reasonably take as a sign of success. That they have to behave in this way proves they know their claims are all smoke mirrors & having access to the "official" media on which reasoned discussion has always been prevented (as anyone seeing the BBC can testify).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


"Tony Blair has the chance to do for the interfaith movement what Al Gore has done for environmentalism"

Quite right though I think Newsweek mean it in a good way.

It seems I was wrong on the name & some detail (It is based in the US where the money is & the extradition for war crimes trials isn't) but nonetheless wasn't far off when I said a couple of years ago that his future plans would include

June 20, 2006 11:59 AM , Neil Craig said...
The Blair Institute for International Niceness & Big Eyed Children, HQ a luxurious castle in Tuscany, funded by George Soros & the Morgan Foundation.

I guess I have been doing this long enough to see my predictions start coming true.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

British Blogs.