S.E. Cupp Attacks Climate Science and Climate Scientists on MSNBC

Yesterday, I appeared on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner to talk about The Republican Brain. It was largely an interview about what’s going on with conservatives and science right now—why they distrust it so much–but S.E. Cupp, the conservative on the panel, called my argument “infuriating.”

Then, she proceeded to attack climate science and the researchers who produce it—doing a very good job of proving my point about conservatives and science! Brad Johnson has provided a transcript at Think Progress (video below it):

CUPP: There have been, to quote Rick Santorum, phony studies on climate change. East Anglia University I should mention!
WAGNER: And that study –
CUPP: Every time science has been corrupted by politics, everyone in the scientific community should be worried!

Chris Mooney discusses "The Republican Brain" on MSNBC's NOW with Alex Wagner

I deliberately didn’t answer Cupp’s point about “East Anglia University” on the air. But let me answer it now.

First, the “ClimateGate” issue at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Center was about stolen emails, not “phony studies.”

Second, conservatives did claim that the emails proved some sort of fraud or wrongdoing on the part of scientists. But the emails didn’t actually show that. Multiple investigations (see a discussion here and here) in the wake of “ClimateGate” vindicated the scientists whose emails had been exposed, showing that these charges weren’t valid.

Third and most important, the central conclusion of climate science—humans are causing global warming—was never at stake in “ClimateGate.” The case for human-caused global warming depends on multiple independent lines of evidence, and the conclusion has been ratified by a much broader body of scientists than those principally involved in the “ClimateGate.”

All of this has been said before, of course. And it isn’t, frankly, very interesting.

What is interesting is that S.E. Cupp made these assertions, which have been so convincingly refuted. Clearly, they still float around the conservative ether, where “ClimateGate” is still considered to be the ultimate rebuttal to all things global warming-related.

Rush Limbaugh has cited “ClimateGate” in essentially the same way. And it is no doubt what Rick Santorum too had in mind in talking about “phony studies.” So what’s up with this? Why cite bogus charges that were long since refuted, and that even if accurate, wouldn’t actually matter? Why seize on “ClimateGate,” even though in an intellectual sense, doing so gets you nowhere?

Here’s what I wrote back in June:

Remember what things were like before [“ClimateGate”] happened. We were coming off 2007, when Al Gore and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize. We’d just elected President Obama, who was backing cap-and-trade legislation and a Copenhagen deal. The science—and the policy—of global warming had all the momentum behind them. If you didn’t believe that the problem was real and needed to be addressed, you were in a pretty difficult position.

ClimateGate was a true blessing in this regard for climate skeptics and deniers. It furnished a brand new excuse to dismiss it all. It was all a scam! …

So “ClimateGate” was seized upon—and then, to borrow a term from psychology, after “seizing” “freezing” may have occurred for some. Minds were made up, and no new evidence was admissible—because “ClimateGate” proved it was all a hoax. Thus, whenever global warming comes up, we now hear “ClimateGate” cited endlessly, as a way of shutting down further consideration—as a vindication, even. And it’s completely baffling, if you know (as we all do) that the science of climate is as strong as it ever was, the issue didn’t go away, and “ClimateGate” doesn’t really have any substantive significance.

In other words, the people citing “ClimateGate” in this way simply may not have performed a complete, thorough, or accuracy-motivated information search. Rather, they seized on just enough information to reaffirm their beliefs. That they’re nonetheless willing to make such grave and serious charges against scientific researchers—on such a weak basis–is why it is more than fair to point out that in the end, they are really just attacking and undermining science and scientists.

So thank you again, S.E. Cupp, for proving my point.


The crux of the false climate gate allegations was that the UAE CRU temperature series was flawed because of the combination of the tree ring data with instrumental data.

Even if we were to accept that as true, we cannot thereby conclude that all global temperature reconstructions are flawed. Even if we threw out the particular reconstructions based on that specific record from tree rings, the global record is robust, is it not? The reconstructions are based on a lot more than bristlecone pines, which are proxies for only certain areas.

“tree-rings, corals, and ice cores and historical documentary records…

“including tree-ring, marine sediment, speleothem, lacustrine, ice core, coral, and historical documentary series” (Mann, et al 2008)

See http://www.pnas.org/content/105/36/13252.full

Then the “skeptics” allege a global conspiracy seemingly involving any scientist who contributed to an IPCC report. Talk about taking a flying leap of logic. First of all, none of the several investigations resulting from the stolen emails found any shred of evidence of conspiracy of any kind. The closest they can come are the comments disparaging journal editors who continued to publish what they considered obviously and eggregiously flawed papers.

So, even if the skeptics had a leg to stand on with respect to “climage gate,” it in no (logical) way casts doubt on human influence on climate change. You just cannot add so much CO2, from 280PPM to what is it today - 392PPM - and expect no impact.

The CRU global and hemispheric land station temperature products do not use tree ring data.  The so-called hockeystick papers do combine that tree ring proxy with several others to obtain a northern hemisphere temperature product which extends back in time well before the instrumental period.

Why didn’t you answer ? ”Rick Santorum is wrong, there is no such study. Nine separate independent investigations by government ,academia, and science  have exonerated the falsely accused scientists at the University of East Anglia, and elswhere ,of any wrong doing “

Rick Santorum knows that he is wrong.  Rick Santorum, a GOP candidate for our highest political office, willfully chooses to publicly lie because he knows that many of his tea-bagged constituents don’t know that he is wrong & the rest don’t give a hoot that he is wrong.

They “feel” him right regardless of the facts flagellating about their synapses.

S.E. Cupp is nothing more than a hired gun, & Rush Limbaugh, a racist hate-monger.

Cupp is a mouthpiece for the Koch inspired ultra capitalist fossil fuel warthogs that are destroying the climate- what would one expect? That the GOP has degenerated into a gutter political party lacking ethics and morals should not be a surprise to anyone.

…is that scientists can get cranky when “research papers” that contain blunders that they would flunk their students for are used as political weapons against them.

I give specific examples of such blunders in a couple of prominent skeptic “research papers” in my amazon.com review of Michael Mann’s book “The Hockey Stick…”, linky here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R144UZ0BPXWVDY/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=023115254X&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=

I gave my review the (IMO charitable) title, “Attack of the C-Students”.

Cupp was going to blow a valve, lol. Maybe if she yelled louder, it would have added more weight to her arguments. Yelling & guns make you right I’m told.

Good job Chris. They will be making pinata’s of you over at WTFUWT & Denier Hill over that one ;)

Chris is calling republicans authoritarian, but it seems to me that liberals want to give the EPA a big increase in authority to regulate CO2. I also see some liberals fawning over China – most notably, Thomas Friedman.

“ but it seems to me that liberals want to give the EPA a big increase in authority to regulate CO2.”

I know, it’s outrageous isn’t it! Next Liberals will be asking that water authorities can regulate water quality or that the public health department can inspect cleanliness of places selling food. 

They want to allow the EPA to do it’s job?! This is a crime I tells ya.

“I also see some liberals fawning over China – most notably, Thomas Friedman.”

Please provide a url.

Fossil fuels are not giving off enough CO2 to have any immediate pollution effects, except for minor increases in ocean acidification. The issue is it’s long term effect on the Earth’s climate. This is something for our elected officials to debate and decide. The EPA is trying to sneak around this with it’s authoritarian power grab.

Here’s Thomas Friedman’s famous China worshiping column:


“Fossil fuels are not giving off enough CO2 to have any immediate pollution effects”

If you cover your eyes & shout lalalalalala, then I guess you are right. It is clear your position is established, so it’s pointless providing you with a list of links proving you wrong. Your stance is like noticing termites in your house & then commenting “I don’t see any immediate damage, so it’s ok”.

So here is a short non science film on your no immediate pollution effects:


Secondly, I doubt you are sufficiently qualified to make the statement you made. Instead, you have ignored the entire worlds major scientific bodies & chose to believe a handful of ideologically aligned & fossil fuel paid scientists, or worse snake oil salesman like Monkton.

“This is something for our elected officials to debate and decide.”

Like I say, do they debate and decide over whether water board authorities can test water supplies to make sure it is safe for the wider public? The EPA is just doing it’s job. 

“The EPA is trying to sneak around this with it’s authoritarian power grab.”

I suppose you have the same line of thinking about police, when they prevent people enjoying the liberties & freedom they wish to partake in? You are just echoing corporate spin.

“Here’s Thomas Friedman’s famous China worshiping column:


Wow, great story, thanks.

Wow, a Bill McKibben op ed illustrated with video footage of natural disasters! If he does a policy op ed, it could be illustrated with footage of New York’s blackouts and Jimmy Carter’s gas lines. But if you like Bill McKibben, you should absolutely NOT miss his very civil debate with Peter Huber from Feb 2000. It can be downloaded as an mp3 here:


Natural disasters seems more like the province of the Army Corps of Engineers or FEMA, than of the EPA. CO2 may be affecting the world’s climate, but other than slightly decreasing oceanic PH, it is not a major pollutant.

“I suppose you have the same line of thinking about police, when they prevent people enjoying the liberties & freedom they wish to partake in?”

Absolutely! I don’t like authoritarianism from liberals, conservatives, democrats or republicans. I tend to agree with the small “l” libertarian veiws put forth by reason magazine and reason.com. One of the criticisms of this internet age is that people get stuck in their own echo chambers. That’s why I visit places like this.

If you think Thomas Friedman’s Chinese authority envy is a good story, then there’s probably no hope for you!

“But if you like Bill McKibben,”

Not particularly. Like I said, your position is established. Providing evidence at this point will just reinforce the backfire effect. But thanks for at least taking the time to watch the video. Even if you disagree with it. Btw, the Mp3 link is now broken. Pity, it looked like a real hoot with a conservative speaker practicing dog whistle politics with stereotypical right winged themes. 

CO2 may be affecting the world’s climate, but other than slightly decreasing oceanic PH, it is not a major pollutant.”

Obviously, you have not put much thought into the ramifications of increased acidity.

“Absolutely! I don’t like authoritarianism from liberals, conservatives, democrats or republicans.”

So we shouldn’t have laws that everyone must abide by? Other commenters here often warn not to converse with trolls……..or fools, I fell for both.

“I tend to agree with the small “l” libertarian veiws”

Oh goody. A Tea party nut job. The dupe is complete in this one.

“That’s why I visit places like this.”

Admirable……yet pointless.

“If you think Thomas Friedman’s Chinese authority envy is a good story, then there’s probably no hope for you!”

Interpretation of that story is subjective. You read it with McCarthyist goggles, I don’t.

Sorry about the bad link (must be an old page). Here’s a page where the link works:


Interesting that you bring up McCarthyism. James Hansen suggested some sort of tribunal for oil execs. “Are you now or have you ever been a climate denialist?” I think he should ask climate scientist and activists why they didn’t participate in policy debates.

“Sorry about the bad link (must be an old page). Here’s a page where the link works”

Thanks, will have a listen.

“I think he should ask climate scientist and activists why they didn’t participate in policy debates.”

Because they are scientists? Why don’t the policy advisors or politicians debate in peer review?


“Because they are scientists? Why don’t the policy advisors or politicians debate in peer review?”

If anything is to be done about climate change, it will have to be done or approved by politicians. If climate scientists and activists want to be consulted, that means they will have to make their case to these elected officials and the public that votes for them. I think the pro climate action side is vastly underestimating how hard this will be.

My choice of climate actions (in order of preferance):

1. Research

2. More nuclear plants

3. A carbon tax

Action to restore climate balance does involve government policy, but also involves corporations and individuals.

Even without a carbon tax or other national climate policy, individuals, corporations, government agencies (e.g. DoD), and local governments have been taking action.

Canman wrote:

My choice of climate actions (in order of preferance):

1. Research

2. More nuclear plants

3. A carbon tax

1. Research:

Been there, we’ve done that. The models are performing well - even Mann’s crude 1982 model has done well. The important physical processes involved are well understood. I’m not a researcher, but if my recollection is correct, the current frontier of research includes cloud feedbacks, better understanding of ocean processes, better understanding of deglaciation processes and ice sheet melting. These are refinements in the research. None of them would provide evidence that could support slowing action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations. *** Check ***

2. More nuclear plants:

Why favor one technology over another? It seems contrary to libertarian principles to which you subscribe.

3. A carbon tax

Interesting choice for a libertarian. A tax. A taking. The other alternative is an emissions trading scheme like either the NOx trading markets or the carbon cap and trade such as the Kyoto Protocol. The emissions trading systems were originally promoted by conservative thinkers as a way of using market discipline to develop the best solutions. Either way, if you put a price on it, you will get less of it. Anything that produces results is good. The stronger the results, the better.

I wonder if you could detail what sort of carbon tax you would consider. What would happen to the revenues generated, who would pay, etc?

To see how well the crude forecast performed, read this article:


At that time, the fingerprints had not been detected and the global average temperature had not risen enough to make the case on its own. By now, it has. Good reading.

“If anything is to be done about climate change, it will have to be done or approved by politicians.”

Of course, but that’s just one part of the whole story. Scientists perform the research, give the results to policy advisors and make a series of recommendations on what to do about it.  It is up to politicians to weigh up those risks, how much it will cost to fix the problem and the potential risks of not fixing those problems. Certain politicians are funded by companies that would be affected by the policy decisions of mitigation, so those politicians already have a bias against action, otherwise they lose funding. Politicians are also very poll driven creatures and watch the polls on any decision they make. If it’s resoundingly bad, they back off from it, if its good they proceed. Knowing how sensitive the policy process is to these polls, fossil fuel disnformation campaigns, through lobbyists, bloggers, astro turfers etc, seek to shape perceptives and opinions of the public, who are really, fairly uneducated about the subject. 

“If climate scientists and activists want to be consulted, that means they will have to make their case to these elected officials and the public that votes for them.”

Many scientists have, I’m sure you have seen the various senate hearings. Activists on the other hand do not have the same access. They have to get their message out through the blogosphere, marches, mail outs etc. There are some high profile scientists that get out in public and warn people regularly. Others do it via blogs. 

“I think the pro climate action side is vastly underestimating how hard this will be.”

I believe they know, it’s just that they must face constant white anting by corporations seeking to protect their profits. The same happened with whalers, asbestos producers, CFC producers, cigarette producers and now fossil fuel producers.

“My choice of climate actions (in order of preferance): 

1. Research - There is enough evidence now to act.

2. More nuclear plants - Not a bad idea, but politically unpalatable.

3. A carbon tax” - This would be on the top of my list .

Mine would be almost reversed.

1) Carbon tax/ETS/Cap & Dividend

2) Large investment into renewables, some to nuclear.

3) R&D into better efficiency for renewables & new technologies.

4) Continue research into GW.


1. Research – I was thinking more along the line of research into technologies like batteries. The Obama administration apparently may have a significant success with ARPA-E funding of Envia:  http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/02/28/433434/envia-gm-doe-lithium-ion-batteries-cut-costs-in-half-triple-energy-density/

2. Nuclear power – I know it’s picking a technology, but it’s one with a track record, a small footprint and that delivers lots of power. Whatever humanity does about the climate, it seems pretty clear we’re going to get some significant warming, and will almost certianly need lots of energy to deal with it. I think it will become more politically palatable as people realize how expensive and intermitant renewables are. Apparently, China is moving in this direction: http://www.elp.com/index/from-the-wires/wire_news_display/1621584677.html

3. Carbon tax – I don’t like cap-n-trade because of the huge scale and complexity of the CO2 issue. At Reason (the leading libertarian magazine and website), science corrospondent Ronald Bailey has proposed an internationally harmonized carbon tax. Countries tax themselves and do what they want with the money.

if you want reliable, on demand electricity from the grid, you’ll receive more watts per dollar via the nuclear option.

Solar costs are still on a fast fall in costs, and the systems are lasting longer than the financial projections gave them credit for. That means that the per-kWh cost has already been lower than the EIA figures.

Then there is the North Carolina study that says that the costs have already crossed-over. It may be that some nuclear plants will be less expensive, but I am aware of others where the cost will be significantly higher than photovoltaics (a long-delayed Florida plant for example).

Read about the NC study here:


a reliable, on demand electicity grid cannot have only solar PV as the generators.  New storage (pumped hydro) is very expensive and none could possibly afford the cost of storage for long cloudy periods.

Some solar PV could be accomodated by a mostly nuclear power plant (NPP) grid but the economics begin to go sour around 6% of the energy provided by solar PV.

“Solar costs are still on a fast fall in costs,”

It’s been going down so fast here in Australia it’s unbelievable. I kind of wished I had waited even 12 months, as the prices almost halved. I’m about to add another 8 panels.

One of the recent specials here:


My only complaint………I don’t have enough roof space.


Solar photovoltaics will certainly have a bright future for lots of applications, but I doubt that they will be a major source of energy for industry – you need industry to make solar cells. If you can get the PV cells for free, you still need lots of wiring, batterries and other infrastructure.

“Solar photovoltaics will certainly have a bright future for lots of applications, but I doubt that they will be a major source of energy for industry”

Probably not for industry needing 24 hr power in the short term, but for the rest, it’s already happening as I pointed out in the link below, which I will repeat here:


This is despite the non stop misinformation campaigns and  attacks by the fossil fuel industry to supress competition and through politicians that they fund, who deprive R&D and investment into renewables.

“– you need industry to make solar cells. If you can get the PV cells for free, you still need lots of wiring, batterries and other infrastructure.”

The same argument could be made over fossil fuels. There is a massive energy intensive process to get to the the point of you pumping fuel into your car. Likewise with coal extraction. It’s not just sitting around on the surface of the ground to pick up. Vast pits and mines need to be constructed to get to the stuff. Massive networks of rail & ports are needed to transport it. They have also enjoyed huge tax payer handouts over the years, of which renewables have never seen even a microscopic amount of in comparison.

Wiring and infrastructure is already there.

In fact its likely already law in most jurisdictions that the power grid must accept power from private sources.

In Alberta the Wind industry fought long and hard to force the utilities to obey that specific law.

Battery technology is still lacking.  I believe in the UK they hollowed out a mountain which they fill up with water in the off peak hours, then drain in the peak hours.

Phil lower solar prices is an expected market effect of being pro-green.  Not to mention a nice increase in employment.  In Alberta we are sub arctic so we need way more cells to compensate for less light.


Progressive, forward-thinking citizens & innovators of states & regions with a can-do solar attitude are figuring new ways to giterdun.  In sunny SoCal, we call it the SOLAR SURGE.

Leasing Opens Solar to New Markets

“The sun is shining on homeowners in less affluent neighborhoods who are discovering they can afford solar energy after all — by leasing rather than buying the panels on their roofs.

“The new business model lets homeowners save money the very first month, rather than breaking even a decade after an initial investment of $5,000 to $10,000.

“Analysts with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the solar lease business is surging in southern California. And the model is being adopted in less affluent neighborhoods that had avoided customer-owned systems….

“If what’s true in southern California proves true for the nation, it means that rooftop solar power could attract an additional 13 million Americans — and that could push solar energy into the mainstream.”


“Third-party photovoltaics (PV) ownership is a rapidly growing market trend, where commercial companies own and operate customer-sited PV systems and lease PV equipment or sell PV electricity to the building occupant. Third-party PV companies can reduce or eliminate up-front adoption costs, reduce technology risk and complexity by monitoring system performance, and can repackage the PV value proposition by showing cost savings in the first month of ownership rather than payback times on the order of a decade.”

The transformation of southern California’s residential photovoltaics market through third-party ownership


Giterdun, America!

Average residential rooftop in may area is between 4 and 5 kW.

13MM x 4kW = 52GW

Distributed rooftop has some grid benefits as well. If electric vehicles take off and they get the standards done to allow the grid to use the EV batteries as storage, it could be a real game changer.

(Came out first as WC instead of EVDYAC!)

We are already at the crossover where investment in new solar installations trumps any new investment in nuclear plant construction. And the accelerating impacts of anthropogenic climate change & rapidly developing nations leave little doubt we are at the crossroads of our human civilization.
Solar and Nuclear Costs —The Historic Crossover
“Solar photovoltaic system costs have fallen steadily for decades. They are projected to fall even farther over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, projected costs for construction of new nuclear plants have risen steadily over the last decade, and they continue to rise. In the past year, the lines have crossed in North Carolina. Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear plants.
“Many U.S. utilities are finding solar and wind energy to be profitable and preferable to risking investments in new nuclear facilities. In fact, Duke Energy considers itself a leader in clean technologies, and indeed is developing significant solar and wind energy projects — but those projects are in other states where Duke must compete for market share.
“For many years the U.S. nuclear power industry has been allowed to argue that “there is no alternative” to building new nuclear plants. This is just not true. It is time for the news media and the public to see the compelling evidence that clean, efficient energy is the path forward and to make sure their elected representatives hear this message repeatedly.”

Nuclear has become way too expensive & way too risky in more ways than one.
Appendix B: Nuclear plant cost estimates and upward revisions per reactor

the Westinghouse AP1000s just starting construction at VC Summer are projected to supply electricity with an LCOE of US$0.076/kWh.  What is the current LCOE of solar PV new build?

Solar PPA rates are between $.10 and $.14, level. These are typically 20 year terms. But expected life now is 30 years, reliably. The first commercial solar panel is still in service. It was installed right around 1960.

There was a study suggesting a longer life be used for solar LCOE. That would bring it well below $0.10/kWh.

David B. Benson

if you want reliable, on demand electricity from the grid, you’ll receive more watts per dollar via the nuclear option.

Nuclear is not viable and it never was.  Its the most subsidized industry on the planet bar none.  Give me fossil fuels first.

OK… Why would say that?  The Nuclear industry is only viable because its insurance premiums are capped.  Last I checked, $100,000,000 US.  So work it out.  We got single buildings downtown worth more than that.  Think about the cost of replacing a city?  A country?

Fukashima’s radiation is just starting to ramp up world wide.

If you include insurance, nuclear has never been viable.

“Nuclear is not viable and it never was. “

Nuclear is a tough one for me & I have swayed back & forth with support for it over the years. On one hand, it seems like a great solution if we were to replace all fossil fuel baseload. Small, input, for a lot of output. Dependable baseload that lowers CO2 fast. 250 reactors supplying cities worldwide, 180 supplying ship and submarines & 3 accidents so far, none in the military. Clearly having trained, diligent and disciplined professionals such as in the military shows its a good source of power for shipping at least. I wouldn’t trust cost cutting private enterprise to it though. Those things above are really appealing to me.

And if you were to subscribe to Barry Brooks, Brave New Climate blog you would meet people that deny there are any downside whasoever to nuclear…..none.


The downsides for me are the waste, the potential effects of a meltown, the lack of insurance and the need for massive amounts of water. Public percepption after Fukushima is totally detroyed now also. So, virtually no one is going to sit by and watch one of these things get built in their neighbourhood. I don’t think nuclear will ever become palatable until they start making Gen V reactors, which will have far superior fail safes & a shelf life for waste of 10 years, as opposed to the current 500 years. But that is 15-20 years away.

“Its the most subsidized industry on the planet bar none.”

I’ve never done the comparisons, but I’d bet the BNC guys would savagely disagree. You are probably right, I don’t know. What I do know is. If renewables were given half as much tax payer funding as what nuclear & fossil fuels have had over the years, we would  probably all be using renewables of some description by now. Maybe something not even present on the market as yet.

Renewables invariably suffer from the “how can it provide baseload” problem though. Encouraging news are things like the 110 MW Solar plant near completion in Las Vegas.


Its projected to have 10 hours of storage. Not as good as 24 Hr with Nuclear & fossil fuels, but it’s a start. Probably would be better with equal tax payer subsidization.

At present renewables for residential seems like a far smarter and more self sufficient means of power ( direct & generated onsite). Probably why most of my Conservative mates have bought solar. Not to be green or do their bit to lower CO2, but for the self sufficiency aspect & long term costs savings. 

As opposed to centralised power which loses 7% on the supply side alone & requires an ever increasing upgrade to the distribution network. Plus, has prices that will increase virtually every year due to distribution upgrades from A.C & Plasma purchases.


concentrated solar power (CSP) is 2–3 times more expensive than an NPP and as the techhnology is fully mature will probably always remain so.

Water consumption for an NPP is about the same per watt generated as a older coal burner.  Alternatives include air cooling (much less efficient) and providing district heating is a closed loop underground piping system.  The later is found in some locations in Europe but nowhere in North America AFAIK.

I’ve looked through all the alternatives, even the ones which turn out not to be sensible.  If you want reliable, on demand electricity from a grid provided by low carbon generators, France is a good role model.  Eventually solar PV will be sufficiently low cost that even the French will add some.  Turns out that only a small portion of average electric power can be from solar PV and still maintain grid stability.

“concentrated solar power (CSP) is 2–3 times more expensive than an NPP

This sounds similar to the argument deniers use in support of fossil fuel. It totally ignores the amount of tax payer funds invested into Nuclear & Fossil fuels. Even up the investment & then we can talk about which one is more expensive.

“and as the techhnology is fully mature will probably always remain so.”

Sounds like the same arguments I have been hearing for years over at BNC. It’s the nukes is the only answer head in the sand approach. For years I have seen those guys froth at the mouth over nuke is the only answer to lower CO2 and provide baseload. No other solution is the answer according to them……yet it’s happening regardless of all the feet stamping.

What sort of damage would a solar power plant have in comparison to a NPP if another quake or tsumani were to hit?

is to use LCOE, which ignores the sunk cost of prior research, but also ignores whatever incentives government puts into so-called renewables.  The prior research is already done and the monies so used cannot now be put to another purpose.  The utilities use the LCOE approach to determine which technology generators to build.

To protect against natural hazards requires additional civil structures.  The engineer’s task is not an easy one; please read Henry Petroski’s “To EnginEER is Human”.

I started by looking into the various renewable proposals and eventually came (independently and reluctantly) to roughly the same position as Barry Brook and George Monbiot.  While there are some prospects for some alternate generation methods, what usually happens is that those proposals fail yto scale up.  The few that do take decades before the method is ready for deployment.  We don’t have decades to wait around for pie-in-the-sky anymore.

“is to use LCOE, which ignores the sunk cost of prior research, but also ignores whatever incentives government puts into so-called renewables.  The prior research is already done and the monies so used cannot now be put to another purpose.”

From what I understand. LCOE takes into account subsidies now, not subsidies and tax payer funded investment to date. 

It seems a bit unfair to remove from the equation, decades of tax payer teet sucking & start the comparison from now.

LCOE is good for comparing purchase options, not necessarily the best for policy choices.

the economics, properly done, should heavily influence the policy choices.  Unfortunately, politicians and the voting public are not always rational and so the power engineers have to live with whatever they get even if it is not the most cost effective.  In effect, no matter what is constructed, the ratepayers and taxpayers (if subsidized) are going to pay for what was built and operated.

it is the correct procedure to use in determining the best choice for future investments.  Monies spent aqe sunk costs, gone, so ignored.  Current incentives or subsidies affect the LCOE.  For example, a wind farm in the USA receives a federal US$0.021/kWh production credit.  That has to be included in the LCOE analysis of whether to build any particular wind farm.

The utility should indeed use LCOE. That is appropriate.

But a government must take public interest into account when making public policy, no?

That includes direct economic benefits, job creation, impacts to the public commons (nuke waste, mercury emissions, etc…), competitive advantage, and strategic impacts.

So, the nuke insurance liability cap is a real cost, mercury emissions too, carbon emissions also, nuke waste storage for umpteen generations, nuke proliferation risk, and so on.

Going to a 6% solar mix means a 10x increase from today. Doable.

Storage is not there yet, but is moving fast. That will enable non-dispatchable power to grow.

But renewable energy is a lot more than wind and solar.

re: “I’ve looked through all the alternatives…”

You’re still entrenched in late 20th Century thinking, amigo. With 20-some years in the nuclear industry, both naval & commercial, we too once repeated those worn-out, pro-nuke arguments. But more recent studies & developments reveal that rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies is a more affordable & less risky strategy to slay the anthropogenic global warming dragon & avoid dangerous exposure of our women & children to unnatural levels of anthropogenic radionuclides.

Germany & Denmark are showing the rest of us once-reluctant old schoolers how to deploy & configure & transition to wind & solar & other renewables to provide most if not all of our energy needs for a 21st Century clean energy economy.

Denmark Passes Legislation: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050!

“Denmark’s Parliament has passed the most ambitious green economy plan in the world: it will generate 35% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020 and 100% by 2050. …

“First, cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 34% below 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce energy consumption 12% below 2006 levels.

“Second, supply 35% of energy from renewables, with wind providing 50% of that. The rest will come from renewable heat, smart grid, biogas, and other green technologies.

“The agreement is important for delivering on the political goal that Denmark’s entire energy supply (electricity, heating, industry and transport) is covered by renewable energy in 2050, says the document.

“Wind energy, which Denmark has long exploited, currently provides 25% of the country’s electricity. Vestas, the world’s leading turbine maker, is based there. …

“To achieve 50% wind energy, the program calls for 1500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 1800 MW of onshore wind by 2020, to provide for replacement of older turbines.”


On an all costs internalized basis coal burners are much more expensive than NPPs.  On an LLE risk basis NPPs are about as safe as eating peanut butter; see Bernard Cohen’s “Understanding Risks”, web available.  Quite clarly burning coal causes vastly more harm to health and environment than NPPs, but burning anything has its problems.

Contrary to the belief of many the nuclear industry is insured against a variety of hazards.

Radiation from Fukushima is so low that in most of Japan it is hard to detect, being masked by the still decaying remains from above ground nuclear bomb testing.

It is possible to educate oneself about the actual problems.  George Monbiot has doone so and his position is quite similar to mine; he writes far better than I do.

“Radiation from Fukushima is so low that in most of Japan it is hard to detect, being masked by the still decaying remains from above ground nuclear bomb testing.”

There is a 20km exclusion zone around the plant David. 20kms! How about the nuke enthusiasts over at BNC pitch a tent for a week within 1km of the plant & post the footage of “hard to detect”.

Rice harvests 50km away have been found to have unnaceptable radiation levels.


Just because the cancers don’t emerge instantaneously, doesn’t mean they wont. It is pretty much over for current generation NPP’s. They need to get their act together and come back to the table with all the solutions, then people will embrace it again. None of this , “we could potentially use the waste for this and that”, “we could have it so that there is virtually no risk”.


but a 20 km exclusion zone, now mostly lifted for daytime use only, is still only about 63 km^2 (being along a coast) and Japan has a total of 377835 km^2.  I stand by my statement as factual.

Yes, earlier some agricultural products were too radioactive but for most of even Fukushima province that was never so and is even less so now.

Cancers:  some radiologists computied that the most irradiated of the Fukushima Dai-ichi cleanup crew (now no longer allowed to work in or around NPPs anymore) had there lifetime cancer risk go up from 42% to 42.2%.  Since the allowed levels for the general public are 20/250 of that amount, somehow I figure the risks from other effects vastly outweigh the risk of developing a cancer from the Fukushima Dai-ichi radiation.

No one builds Gen II NPPs any more.  All the Gen III designs under construction have much better safety features than the Gen II NPPs; passive safety being primary.  But even the Gen II designs are about as safe as eating peanut butter on an LLE basis.

As for the once-through fissionable materials, one can (rathr expensively) reprocess to use once more as MOX or simply sequester in medium term storage awaiting the coming of fast reactors.  India, Russia and China are all currently working on fast reactor design and constuction.

1 out of 20 girls who will bear the next generation is a pretty damn big impact.

Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated

“Looking at the scientific data presented by Mr. Goddard, Fairewinds has determined that at least one out of every 20 young girls (5%) living in an area where the radiological exposure is 20 millisieverts for five years will develop cancer in their lifetime.”


And so is 1 trillion dollars.

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US

“At the US NRC Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, DC March 13 to March 15, the NRC’s Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko emphasized his concern that the NRC and the nuclear industry presently do not consider the costs of mass evacuations and radioactive contamination in their cost benefit analysis used to license nuclear power plants. Furthermore, Fairewinds believes that evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.”