Friday, November 21, 2008

Frank Barnaby's Nuclear Disinformation

The Rectification of Names
“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.” - Confucius

Tsze-lu asked,
"If the Duke of Wei made you an advisor,
what would you address as the very first priority?"

Confucius replied,
"The most important thing
is to use the correct words."
"What?" Tsze-lu replied.
"That's your first priority? The right words?"

Confucius said,
"You really are simple, Yu.
The Sage keeps his mouth shut
when he doesn't know what he's talking about!

"If we don't use the correct words,
we live public lies.
If we live public lies,
the political system is a sham.

"When the political system is a sham,
civil order and refinement deteriorate.
When civil order and refinement deteriorate,
injustice multiplies.
As injustice multiplies,
eventually the electorate is paralyzed
by public lawlessness.

"So the Sage takes for granted that he use the appropriate words,
and follow through on his promises with the appropriate deeds.

"The Sage must simply never speak lies." - (Confucius, tr. Jimmer Endres)

今聖王沒,名守慢,奇辭起,名實亂,是非之形不明,則雖守法之吏,誦數之儒,亦皆亂也。若有王者起,必將有循於舊名,有作於新名。然則所為有名,與所緣以同異,與制名之樞要,不可不察也。
"Nowadays, however, the sages and true kings have all passed away. Men are careless in abiding by established names, strange words come into use, names and realities become confused, and the distinction between right and wrong has become unclear. Even the officials who guard the laws or the scholars who recite the Classics have all become confused. If a true king were to appear now, he would surely set about reviving the old names, and creating new ones as they were needed. To do so, he would have to examine carefully to see why names are needed, how to go about distinguishing between things that are the same and those that are different, and what essential standards should be used in regulating names".
異形離心交喻,異物名實玄紐,貴賤不明,同異不別;如是,則志必有不喻之患,而事必有困廢之禍。此所為有名也。
"If there are no fixed names, men begin to discriminate the different forms of things on the basis of their own particular observations, each applying his own names and interpreting the different phenomena in his own fashion, then the relationships between names and realities will become obscured and entangled, the distinction between eminent and humble will become unclear, and men will no longer discriminate properly between things that are the same and those that are different. In such a case there will be a real danger that the ruler's intentions will not be properly communicated and understood, and his undertakings will undoubtedly be plagued with difficulty and failure... This is the reason why correct names are needed".
名無固宜,約之以命,約定俗成謂之宜,異於約則謂之不宜。名無固實。名有固善,徑易而不拂,謂之善名。
"Names have an intrinsic appropriateness. One agrees to use a certain name and issues an order to that effect, and if the agreement is abided by and becomes a matter of custom, then the name may be said to be appropriate, but if people do not abide by the agreement, then the name ceases to be appropriate. Names have no intrinsic reality... There are, however, names which are intrinsically good. Names which are clear, simple, and not at odds with the thing they designate may be said to be good names..." - Xunzi

"[B]alance . . . ought to mean that truth gets treated like truth and lies get treated like lies." - Robert Niles

Confession

Well what can I tell you, I have a masters degree in Philosophy, and spent a semester studying classics of Chinese Philosophy. The Chinese concept of rectification of names should surely be applied to the so called debate on nuclear power. The rectification of names would require us to question if a real debate is in fact taking place. Debate is defined as "a process of inquiry and advocacy seeking reasoned judgment on a proposition. Debate allows for two or more sides advocating their positions on a given issues under some set of rules with some kind of judgment to follow from a judge or audience". The term debate implies that both sides disagree about some matter, and base their respective positions on facts reasonable people would acknowledge to be unquestionable truth. If there is no agreement about facts, then rational conclusions - reasoned judgements - are impossible, hence the conditions for a debate cannot be meet. I have no doubt the esteemed Chinese Philosophers Xunzi and Confucius, who both believed in reasoned arguments would agree with my my understanding of debate. I also have no doubt that Robert Niles brief account of balance in journalism would have received the been endorsed by the great Chinese sages with the following addendum, "not just in journalism, but also in life".

The imbalance of truth and lies in the anti-nuclear movement

Frank Barnaby and Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen were colleagues in the writing of a report titled CIVIL NUCLEAR POWER, SECURITY AND GLOBAL WARMING, published by the Oxford Research Group. Storm van Leeuwen wrote a section of the report titled, "CO2 emissions from nuclear power". It would, of course, be galling to Barnaby, an editor of the report to have to admit that the work of one of his coauthors was was widely regarded as a discredited authority on nuclear power. But surely Barnaby knew of that Storm van Leeuwen work was very controversial, and that both his methods and his conclusions had seemingly been successfully challenged. A scrupulous debater would either attempt to rehabilitate a questionable source, or would have preferred to use a source that was more impervious to criticism. Yet in a recent essay, Frank Barnaby uncritically qualifies Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen as "an expert on uranium resources" even though Storm van Leeuwen has never had a paper on uranium resources published in a peer review scientific journal.
According to calculations made by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen, an expert on uranium resources, assuming that world nuclear capacity remains constant at 372 GW, the net energy from uranium will fall to zero by about 2070 (6). Assuming that world nuclear share remains constant at 2.2 per cent of world energy supply, given that energy demand will increase to meet the needs of a rapidly growing human population, the net energy benefit will fall to zero by about 2050
Barnaby fails to acknowledge that Storm van Leeuwen views are in direct conflict with numerous papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals, and Storm van Leeuwen research including his math have been repeatedly criticized. See Martin Sevior,
http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/3096/
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2323
http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeEnergyLifecycleOfNuclear_Power
See also Roberto Dones
http://gabe.web.psi.ch/pdfs/Critical%20note%20GHG%20PSI.pdf
And David Bradish has described Storm van Leeuwen's math errors as egregious.
http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2008/01/van-leeuwen-and-smiths-egregious.html

For Frenk Barnaby to cite only Storm van Leeuwen in discussions of uranium resources is cherry picking of the worst sort. For Barnaby to hide from his readers the controversy surrounding Storm van Leeuwen claims is worse that cherry picking, it is outright dishonest. Dr. Barnaby must be aware of the controversy about Storm van Leeuwen, and he hides it from his readers.

In addition to using Storm van Leeuwen bogus arguments about Uranium resources, Barnaby argues that use of reactors produce electricity to produce electrical power poses a nuclear proliferation danger. Barnaby quotes Carson Mark
Effective nuclear weapons can be fabricated from plutonium produced by civil nuclear-power reactors.
Yet Barnaby ignores Alexander DiVolpi discussion of what Carson Marks actually said about the claim that nuclear weapons can be easily built from reactor grade plutonium. DiVolpi argued that the American test of a "fuel grade" plutonium device had been been a failure and that the failure of the test had been covered up by the Carter Administration.

In their responce to diVolpi's position, Marvin Miller and Frank von Hippel stated, "We are in sympathy with DeVolpi's skepticism about the implication of the 1962 U.S. nuclear test for the usability of reactor-grade plutonium in nuclear weapons. The information disclosed about this test in 1977 represented a compromise between policy makers in the Carter Administration who wished to high-light the proliferation risks of of civilian plutonium use and those responsible for protecting classified weapons-design information. We have been briefed on the details, and do not believe that, even if design and yield of the device had been made public, that the issue would have been settled." This can be taken as a very broad hint that the writers, who knew the score, was willing come as close as they could, without violating security rules, to acknowledge that the 1962 test device was a failure.

It would appear that there has never been a successful test of a reactor grade plutonium device. In May, 1998, India tested a series of nuclear devices. At least one of those devices was believed to use reactor grade plutonium. The yield was reported to be between 0.2 and 0.6 kilotons, but some Indian scientists speculated that it was much smaller. 2006 North Korean nuclear test, which probably used "fuel grade" plutonium from their Magnox type reactor. Prior to the test, the North Koreans told the Chinese that they intended to set off a 4 kt nuclear device. Estimates of the actual size of the North Korean device varied widely with estimates running as low as 0.1 kts and as high 1.0 kt. Since the seismic reading fell into to the range of a large conventional explosion, some experts suggested that the North Koreans had not used a nuclear device at all. The Wall Street Journal suggested that the blast was equivalent to the explosive force of about $100,000 worth of ammonium nitrate.

Thus Marvin Miller and Frank von Hippel responded to DiVolpi's suggestions but did not entirely dispute DIVolpi's arguments, in fact they offered partial support for DiVolpi's cpntensions . They agreed that no nation has chosen to build nuclear weapons from using "reactor grade plutonium", even when they had access to it. In fact the South Africans chose to develop a Uranium enrichment technology in their sucessful effort to produce nuclear weapons. Marvin Miller and Frank von Hippel acknowledges "a proliferator would not prefer weapon-grade plutonium or highly-enriched uranium to reactor-grade uranium". The case histories of Pakistan and South Arfica suggest that in fact would be proliferators are willing to invest a lot of money in efforts to avoid using reactor grade plutonium in nuclear weapons. Thus it is not enough to claim that a would be proliferator could use reactor grade plutonium from civilian power reactors to produce nuclear weapons. The argument against nuclear power must also show that proliferation would be more likely if the United States, the United Kingdom, and other potential builders of new nuclear power plants were to do so. Dr. Barnaby, fails to do so. Hence he fails to demonstrate that building new nuclear power plants will lead too nuclear proliferation..

6 comments:

donb said...

The original posting states:
According to calculations made by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen, an expert on uranium resources, assuming that world nuclear capacity remains constant at 372 GW, the net energy from uranium will fall to zero by about 2070 (6). Assuming that world nuclear share remains constant at 2.2 per cent of world energy supply, given that energy demand will increase to meet the needs of a rapidly growing human population, the net energy benefit will fall to zero by about 2050.

Frankly stated, what a bunch of crap! Yeah, if we use only those uranium mines presently in operation, use only gas diffusion for enrichment, use only light water reactors, then this might be true. To arrive at the conclusion above, one must cherry-pick the worst examples of out-of-date data. Thrown out are the best current practices and up-to-date data. No provision has been made for the use of efficient reactors that have already been demonstrated. There is no allowance for improvements in technology in the future.

Also in the original posting:
Barnaby argues that use of reactors produce electricity to produce electrical power poses a nuclear proliferation danger.

As Charles Barton states, effective bombs cannot be made from plutonium extracted from commercial reactors, except possibly by doing very short fuel burns and a lot of fuel load swaps. Proliferation is a concern with those countries which do not already have nuclear weapons. In order to even remotely produce weapons grade plutonium from commercial grade fuel, they would have to have a lot of fuel, well beyond what external supplier would provide. Since no external supplier would provide it, they would need to make their own fuel, which means uranium enrichment. If they can do uranium enrichment, then it would be a whole lot easier to just do more enrichment and make a uranium nuclear bomb, bypassing all the bother of a reactor and separation plant.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, if we use only those uranium mines presently in operation, use only gas diffusion for enrichment, use only light water reactors, then this might be true."

Far from it even under those conditions. He overestimates the amount of energy required to mine uranium at the Rössing mine in Namibia by nearly two orders of magnitude(actually his formula suggests that the mining at Rössing consumes more energy than the entire country of Namibia).

Finrod said...

Storm van Leeuwen has hidden the original SLS paper at the back of his current version of that document. In his summary for the chapter on the viability of low-grade uranium ore, he’s put the following comment:

“It turns out that the energy requirements of mining and milling these lean ores may surpass the energy produced by "burning" them in a nuclear reactor.”

This is, of course, nonsense, but it is a far cry from his original contention that nuclear reactors can’t even be economical using high-grade ores.

Charles Barton said...

Storm van Leeuwen Pays absolutely no attention to criticisms, no matter how valid. He will never change his views, even in the face of powerful and compelling evidence.

George Carty said...

No state would start a nuclear war due to fear of retaliation. The real threat of nuclear weapons use is from non-state-backed terrorist groups.

Since terrorists do not have the technical sophistication to build a working implosion device (essential to make plutonium explode), this implies that the only serious proliferation threat concerns HEU, not plutonium.

Charles Barton said...

George, It would be much easier for terrorists to go for the existing post-cold war stockpiles of U-235, than to take a make it yourself approach to HEU or plutonium. Even though Carson Mark talked about how easily reactor grand plutonium could be weaponized, the truth is that the device Carson Mark designed was not successful and was not a weapon, and Carson Mark had the
resources of Los Alamos at his disposal.

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