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Time to listen to the ice scientists about the Arctic death spiral

A photograph of the Arctic ice, Patrick Kelley, by 2.0
Ice scientists are mostly cheerful and pragmatic. Like many other researchers coolly observing the rapid warming of the world, they share a gallows humour and are cautious about entering the political fray. Not Peter Wadhams. The former director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of ocean physics at Cambridge has spent his scientific life researching the ice world, or the cryosphere, and in just 30 years has seen unimaginable change. When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.

2010-09-21 CCS vs Wind Turbines

This presentation was prepared for - but not given at - a conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in London.

The UK Government was then offering the power companies £ 1 billion to build coal- or gas-fired power plants with CCS.


2003-10-20 New Automotive Powertrains and Fuels

I was a co-author of a paper 'The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak?', of which the final version was published on the web on 15 April 2003. This prompted me to make an extensive study of new automotive powertrains and fuels - to meet the increasing concerns of climate change and resource depletion - particularly Peak Oil. I found a surprising amount of data published on the web, and subjected it to careful analysis. One significant finding is that - of the various Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle prototypes - the Toyota FCHV5 has the best overall 'Well-to-Wheel' efficiency. The second is that even this is inferior to the 2004 model Toyota Prius engine-electric hybrid car that is already in high-volume production.

2012-04-11 The Real Lessons of Fukushima

The Real Lessons of Fukushima - click for full size image
This study is based on evidence on the Fukushima disaster and it's consequences, almost all from the internet. Many quantitative studies have been found, but no proper studies from the IAEA or the UK ONR. The fast-moving and highly dangerous events of such a disaster require decision support. Thermal models of the reactors and spent fuel pools are essential to predict their behaviour under Station Blackout and to evaluate possible counter-measures. Also plume (dispersion) models of possible radioactive releases are essential to inform decisions on the magnitude and direction of evacuations. The Japanese have such a plume model, but it was ignored until later. Also they had no instrument for airborne radioactivity measurements at hand and had to rely initially on aerial surveys carried out by the Japan-based US Emergency Response Centers. These deficiencies were omitted or downplayed in the reports of the IAEA Fact Finding Mission, but most were included in the report of the Hatamura Panel.

2008-02-18 Carbon Savings in the Buildings Sector

The on-site generation of electricity and heat from renewables – often called microgeneration - has been proposed in the U.K. for saving carbon – reducing carbon emissions – in the buildings sector.


2011-09-26 Geo-Engineering Debate: Transport Fuel, then ‘Roll-back’

For a 'Geo-Engineering Debate' held at the Royal Society, I prepared - but did not give - a presentation.

2008-04-14 Response on Domestic Heating etc

I submitted a PDF file in response to the UK Government Market Transformation Programme Domestic Heating and Hot Water Consultation.

New tool can calculate renewable energy output anywhere in the world
Researchers have created an interactive web tool to estimate the amount of energy that could be generated by wind or solar farms at any location. The tool, called, aims to make the task of predicting renewable output easier for both academics and industry. The creators, from Imperial College London and ETH Zürich, have already used it to estimate current Europe-wide solar and wind output, and companies such as the German electrical supplier RWE are using it to test their own models of output.

2003-04-15 The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak?

Ulf Bossel, Baldur Eliasson, and Gordon Taylor

I found on the Internet an early version of this paper, authored by Ulf Bossel and Baldur Eliasson. I had been doing desk research in the same general area, and offered a number of comments and contributions over a period of some months. Eventually I became a co-author of the final version, dated 2003-04-15.


2011-06-08 The Case Against Nuclear Power

The critical issue for nuclear power is the consequences of a major radioactive release. These were predicted in the Sandia CRAC-2 study as 42,000 to 100,000 early deaths. They were confirmed empirically by Chernobyl, which contaminated huge areas of the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia as well as 40% of Europe, with an eventual death toll put variously at 10,000 up to 1.8 million. Due to the high population density, Fukushima has been predicted to cause up to 210,000 excess cancer deaths. The probability of any size of radioactive release is not just unknown but unknowable, so must be taken as 1 - i.e. inevitable. This was understood by the worldwide insurance industry from the start and by some involved in the Reactor Safety Studies as well as by independent analysts. If insurance was fully paid, the cost of nuclear power would increase by e.g. 45 to 348 p/kWh. Other countries are adopting safer, sustainable and infinitely cheaper solutions for supplying electrical and other energy services so there is no need to add to our already huge nuclear risks and debts. Moreover the consequences of a major radioactive release are completely unacceptable, so all existing nuclear plants should be phased out forthwith.
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