Wednesday, February 21, 2007

too cheap to meter

US Nuclear Plants' Power Output 2nd Highest Ever
The industry group said 103 nuclear plants nationwide generated 787.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year, just off the 788.5 billion kwh record set in 2004.
At the same time, production costs sank to a record 1.66 cents per kilowatt hour in 2006, despite three years of price increases for uranium, the fuel used in nuclear generation. These are preliminary figures, the institute said, and final numbers are expected in two months.

Unprecedented efficiencies in power generation. Well, of course, plant operations can be expected to streamline over time. Even as their internals relentlessly corrode. Still, one can only marvel at how these outputs are achieved.

Maybe we should check some recent headlines.

Safety Lapse Feeds Debate on New Jersey A-Plant
Water Level Drops at Indian Point Nuclear Plant in Upstate New York
Safety Alarms Raised at Nuclear Weapons Plant
Unit 2 to be back in operation by Friday after outage

So, by and by, in addition to replacing oil and gas, we will need to replace every reactor running today. It doesn't matter if their operating leases get extended. These things wear out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

back in the saddle

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

fresh rotten eggs scent


The Arctic shelf is currently undergoing dramatic thermal changes caused by the continued warming associated with Holocene sea level rise. During this transgression, comparatively warm waters have flooded over cold permafrost areas of the Arctic Shelf. A thermal pulse of more than 10°C is still propagating down into the submerged sediment and may be decomposing gas hydrate as well as permafrost. A search for gas venting on the Arctic seafloor focused on pingo-like-features (PLFs) on the Beaufort Sea Shelf because they may be a direct consequence of gas hydrate decomposition at depth. Vibracores collected from eight PLFs had systematically elevated methane concentrations. ROV observations revealed streams of methane-rich gas bubbles coming from the crests of PLFs. We offer a scenario of how PLFs may be growing offshore as a result of gas pressure associated with gas hydrate decomposition.

The above abstract is an interesting data point. Earlier this year I referenced an intriguing rumor which was unsubstantiated, yet suggestive:

Fuel tankers reporting increased methane venting from sea beds.
According to U.S. maritime industry sources, tanker captains are reporting an increase in onboard alarms from hazard sensors designed to detect hydrocarbon gas leaks and, specifically, methane leaks. However, the leaks are not emanating from cargo holds or pump rooms but from continental shelves venting increasing amounts of trapped methane into the atmosphere.

Oceanic methane can get powerful warm when unfrozen, trapping atmospheric heat left and right. The cows will be proud. However, do not become unduly alarmed.

If we stand on the cusp of a new thermal maximum, a pesky die-off, be assured that there is hope. Look to the humble Lystrosaurus, a hard charging reptile which survived where many others failed:

Lystrosaurus is notable for dominating land during the Early Triassic, found on every continent, for millions of years. This genus survived the end-Permian mass extinction and went on to thrive, becoming the most common group of terrestrial vertebrates during the Early Triassic. It is the only time a single species of animal dominated the Earth to such a degree. Why Lystrosaurus survived the Permian-Triassic extinction event may possibly be due to blind chance, however, adaptations to surviving on more resiliant plant material may have contributed to this genus' survival.

Blind chance? You be the judge.

It isn't just the handsome tusks, suitable for ripping carrion flesh from the backs of Exxon executives and their mercenary army of paid deniers / elephant gropers.

Look where the nose of the Lystrosaurus is pointed. Inches from the ground.

That is where the breathable oxygen will be if we fail.

Take a good look.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

War is a Calamity, News at Eleven!

Some may wonder why so much ink is spilled hereabouts on the possibility of a war with Iran, or the war in Iraq.

It is certainly more than just oil being a strategic resource. That isn't the only angle. One cannot be certain that Cheney started World War Three simply for oil. Reasons don't really matter. Perhaps Cheney is so callow a man that burnishing his Halliburton Stock options shall at last be his measure.

Causality is irrelevant. This war must be blotted out.

The world is tiny now. It is smaller than my cramped office. If I set out in a canoe desperately seeking a better life at risk of slumbering with the jellyfish (china or bust) it is unquestionable that I would meet a woebegone soul paddling from the other direction. The sense of frontier and mystery is fleeing this globe as the mother dough expands to fill the pan.

Two crisis loom, one acute - - Peak Oil and energy, and one chronic - - that being Violent Climate Change.

In both cases, time is not unlimited to address the problems head on, squarely.

Yet the stupidly expanding conflict in the Middle East threatens our ability as a race to fix the problems we need to fix. This may seem overly dramatic, to the average American, who have suffered no more than price inflation at the supermarket as the war in the Iraq region has drained millions of barrels of oil monthly from our finite resource base into a hazy blue sky.

The incalculable hatred we have bred in the hearts of one hundred generations of Iraqis pales when compared to the possible outcome of a full spectrum bombing run on Iran.

What happens if Iran blockades the Persian Gulf with their missiles? Answer. A shockwave is generated that leads directly to food rationing and economic collapse in such first world countries as the US of A.

China will shortly decide that the time to hold Dollar reserves is at an end, and with three carrier groups tied halfway across the world, Tawian is a beckoning prize of opportunity.

Russia shuts off her methane taps again, driving home the jui-jutsu lesson of twenty-first century warfare.

Nigeria might then explode as all the foreign hornets fly the nest to protect the queen.

You're telling me that this shit is occuring and we're interring carbon at the same time? We're funding Amory B. Lovins to re-write building codes for the world? We're teaching former Squalid-Mart employees to become organic farmers? While people are rioting in the streets and being hosed down with microwaves?

No. The answer is no.

Stop the war or lose the world. Time is not unlimited.

Peak oil is visible in the rear-view mirror and ethanol is still a fucking joke. This is no rant, "this is reality."

by Barry Schweid for AP

WASHINGTON -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser, told Congress the war in Iraq is a calamity and likely to lead to "a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large."

Testifying before the Senate foreign relations committee Thursday, Brzezinski skewered U.S. administration policy as driven by "imperial hubris" and a disaster on historic, strategic and moral grounds.

While other former U.S. officials and ex-generals have criticized administration policy in committee hearings, none savaged it to the degree Brzezinski did.

"If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, and I emphasize what I am about to say, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large," said the security adviser in the Democratic administration of former president Jimmy Carter.

He set out as a plausible scenario for military collision: Iraq failing to meet benchmarks set by the administration, followed by accusations Iran is responsible for the failure, then a terrorist act or some provocation blamed on Iran, culminating in so-called defensive U.S. military action against Iran.

That, Brzezinski said, would plunge the United States into a spreading quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Proposing a massive shift in policy, Brzezinski, who holds a senior position at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the United States should announce unambiguously its determination to leave Iraq "in a reasonably short period of time."

Second, he said, the United States should announce it is undertaking talks with Iraqi leaders to jointly set with them a date by which U.S. military disengagement should be completed.

Instead, he said, the administration is developing a mythical, historical narrative to justify the case for a protracted and potential expanding war.

Initially based on false claims Iraq had secret arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, Brzezinski said "the war is now being redefined as the decisive ideological struggle of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism."