Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vermont Yankee Powers Down While Vermont Protestors Flock Down to New York City to Protest Climate Change

Empire State Building
In New York City

In the Brattleboro Commons, the article about the Climate March in New York is titled The last opportunity to keep the climate cool?  According to that article, 1400 Vermonters are headed to New York  for the march. They are traveling in fifteen buses (some sponsored by Ben and Jerry's) and many cars. The marchers hope to convince our leaders to do-something about the climate.

(Note: Ben and Jerry's is a major opponent of Vermont Yankee, although the company needs prodigious amounts of power to make and distribute their product.  See my post on the Ironies of Ice Cream. )

In Vermont

Meanwhile, back in Vermont, Vermont Yankee is powering down for the last time.  As this article in WWLP writes in a headline: Vermont Yankee provided about 70% of the electricity generated in Vermont.  Replacement power is sure to come from fossil sources, though ISO-NE lists "alternatives, hydro and fossil replacement."  Local businesses are already hurting, as some  Vermont Yankee employees begin to move away.

Hypocrisy Rides Again

Poster from EcoWatch
Most of these marchers are in organizations that were eager to shut down nuclear energy. Let's  think about two leaders of the march:  Harvey Wasserman and Bill McKibben.

You can see the Wasserman  poster at the right. His group has a rallying cry: "Don't Nuke the Climate!" (I have updated the poster with the much-better parody poster, below!)

McKibben and I had quite an exchange at this blog post: Carbon Dioxide and Nuclear Energy.  (Check the comments section.) McKibben founded an organization against global warming, but he has been steadily opposed to Vermont Yankee's operation.

Thank you to Urs Bolt for this image
So, why do I call it hypocrisy? Maybe they really think that nuclear energy "nukes" the climate?  If they do, they simply have refused to look into the facts. Willful ignorance is a form of hypocrisy, in my opinion.

A few facts, please

First: The UN. With a few moments worth of investigation, the anti-nuke "Climate Worriers" could find out that nuclear power creates far less greenhouse gases than almost all other forms of energy.  If you look at the Wikipedia article on life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, you will see that the UN agency IPCC studied life-cycle emissions from many forms of energy.

According to IPCC:

  • nuclear averaged 12 gCO2/kWh, 
  • rooftop solar was 41 grams.
  • combined cycle natural gas was 490 grams.  

Note that the IPCC is the agency that also tracks atmospheric carbon dioxide and warns us about global warming.

And yet, some people can claim the IPCC is truthful  about global warming  but dedicated liars about nuclear energy.  Well, whatever! The movie Pandora's Promise has a really good bit about this.  Comic relief! Watch the movie!

Next: Vermont Law School. But meanwhile, if people think they can't trust the IPCC, maybe they can trust Benjamin Sovacool, a leader at Vermont Law School and a dedicated foe of all nuclear energy? (Really, he's written anti-nuclear books). And Sovacool also did a life-cycle carbon dioxide footprint for various sorts of energy. I have no doubt that he did his level best to make nuclear look bad.

Sovacool's numbers are in the Wikipedia article. Sovacool calculated these life-cycle numbers:

  • solar PV at 33 g CO2/kWh
  • nuclear at 66 grams ("various reactor types") 
  • natural gas combined cycle at 443 grams.  

Well, I guess Sovacool kind of bashed nuclear, huh?  But this doesn't  exactly show "Nuking the Climate," does it? I am sure he tried, though, gotta give him credit for trying...

It Really Rides. Hypocrisy Rides Again

According to the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources, as of a few years ago, 46% of Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation, and 4% came from electricity generation. ( See page 22 of this pdf from the Agency.)

So what's with all these people getting into gasoline-fired vehicles and heading on down to New York City?  Aren't they GASSING the climate! Of course they are.

They are riding the climate to death!

And I suspect they feel very virtuous about it, too.

End note: Someone asked me  about the carbon dioxide footprint of this march. I don't know, but I welcome comments that would try to calculate it.


Howard Shaffer said...

Great post.

I concluded long ago that the dedicated anti-nukes have made and emotional decision that nuclear power is so bad that anything is preferable.

We can't change their minds with facts. We have to defeat them in the political arena.

John ONeiil said...

Cyril at Energy from Thorium has been doing a fairly comprehensive tally of the energy inputs into the ESBWR reactor. He comes up with 1.08 grams CO2 /kWh, from construction, mining, enrichment, fuel fabrication, through to making the containers for the spent fuel. That's using conservative numbers - low grade uranium ore, diesel rather than electric power for the mining machinery. The big saving is centrifuge enrichment, now that the old energy hog diffusion plants have closed.
John ONeill