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Good and Bad Choices for Energy Policy and the Environmental Movement 2009-2010

By       Message Morton Skorodin, M.D.       (Page 1 of 11 pages)     Permalink

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Two energy/environment phenomena are being widely discussed currently. These are global warming, and its mitigation, and the nuclear resurgence -- the worldwide push to supply power with nuclear power plants. Careful study of these issues leads to the following conclusions:

  1. Global warming is real and is causing harm.

  2. Global warming is mostly due to heat production by human industry since the 1800s, from nuclear power and fossil fuels, better termed hydrocarbons, -- coal, oil, natural gas. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. CO2 plays a minor role even though it is widely claimed to be the cause.

  3. Both nuclear and hydrocarbon-based power must be eliminated to solve the global warming problem.

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  4. Nuclear power advocates have commandeered the global warming/greenhouse gas formula to promote nuclear power, based upon two errors: exaggerating the role of CO2 on the one hand and incorrectly claiming that nuclear power plants do not produce CO2 on the other hand.

  5. Nuclear power cannot be separated from nuclear weapons, which are essential to the consistent drive for American military domination of the world. This is the reason for nuclear power. Nuclear power does not make sense as a safe, efficient, or economical way to provide energy.

  6. Solar and solar-derived (wind, wave) sources of power do not add heat to the environment and can be used to supply virtually unlimited electrical energy without causing global warming. If done properly they will open up new vistas of human freedom and cultural development. They also produce much less CO2 than either nukes or hydrocarbons.

The rationale for these conclusions is given below.

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Climate Science

We begin with a fact on which almost all agree; that the Earth's near-surface temperature has risen approximately 0.7 degree Centigrade since 1880.[1] Much evidence has been presented that human health and society are being damaged as a result.[2]

The science of global warming and the logic behind it has been widely publicized and understood both by proponents and detractors. It essentially is this, with details omitted for the sake of clarity:

In essence: energy comes in from the sun and, like an infrared heat lamp it is radiated out from the Earth as infrared long-wave radiation. This outward radiation is trapped by the greenhouse gases.

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, hydrocarbon fuels have been burned in large quantities resulting in the release into the atmosphere of more greenhouse gases than before, particularly CO2.

Global warming thus is thought to be harmful and due to the man-made addition of greenhouse gases and will be amenable to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2. Public policy, both technical and economic, research, and public discussion revolve around mitigation of CO2.

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A Different Climate Science

However, on careful reflection, it can be seen that there is a step that has been skipped; an unspoken omission that becomes an unconscious axiom and leads us to ignore an entire line of inquiry. This step-skipping is illogical.

That is, that with the advent of the industrial revolution not only is CO2 generated by burning hydrocarbons, so is heat itself. Likewise with nuclear power, heat is released upon the transmutation (changing into other substances) of Uranium. In thinking about global climate change, one must to calculate the heat added by nuclear reactors and hydrocarbon fuels. Energy (in this case in the form of heat) cannot be destroyed, so says the first law of thermodynamics. Therefore, in tallying the causes of global warming, this heat energy must be included, be it large or small.

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Morton S. Skorodin, M.D. is a regular guest writer for Axis of Logic and other sites. He offers a sound scientific perspective on a range of social and environmental issues that confront all of humanity in the 21st century. He lives in Oklahoma.

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Good and Bad Choices for Energy Policy and the Environmental Movement 2009-2010