Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Energy hedgehogs, Energy foxes

πόλλ' οἶδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δ'ἓν μέγα ("The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"). - Archilochus (c. 680 BC – c. 645 BC)

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin divided thinkers into two categories, Foxes who know many little tricks, and hedgehogs who know one big trick. This division is somewhat artificial, but still useful. My quarrel with the Energy Collective is really a quarrel with the foxes of the energy collective, who may know a lot of tricks but none of them are very good. The supporters of nuclear power like Rod Adams and Dan Yurman are the hedgehogs of the collective. They believe that their one trick, nuclear power works better than all of the tricks of The Collective's foxes.

The Collective's foxes deny the very possibility of the Collective's hedgehog's trick. "There is no such thing as a silver bullet," they say knowingly. They tell the rest of us that nuclear power is too expensive, without ever noting that other low carbon energy sources, for example solar and wind, are even more expensive, and are far less reliable. The Hedgehogs notice that much of what the Foxes talk about does not make sense or is unproven. The Foxes seem to hold the Hedgehogs trick in contempt.
If only it wasn't nuclear.
Collective fox Tyler Hamilton says, when nuclear hedgehogs demonstrate how neatly their trick works with small reactors. Hamilton adds
The fact is the units would still produce nuclear-fuel waste – a football-sized amount for each reactor
Mind you, each reactor produces a huge amount of waste, A football size amount! And Tyler lets us know he is on the side of righteousness:
a large part of the population believes it immoral to create and leave behind highly toxic waste for future generations.
perhaps we should call him Saint. Tyler demands to know:
Can a company like Hyperion be trusted .. . ?
in the end Tyler acknowledges the message of small nuclear
Efficient. Flexible. Safer. Transportable. Scalable. Swappable. In the world of nuclear energy, small could end up becoming the new big.
But then he drops the bomb,
If only it wasn't nuclear.
It would help if Tyler would have interviewed NASA engineer and nuclear blogger Kirk Sorensen about how radioactive post-reactor LFTR fission products are after a few years, and what their uses are. But typical of Collective foxes, Tyler in not really interested in whether the problem of nuclear waste is real, or if it whether the alleged problems of nuclear power can be solved. Like most Collective foxes, Tyler clearly loathes nuclear power and and wants to have nothing to do with it. Tyler is in the eyes of the nuclear hedgehogs not a fox at all, rather he is an ignorant ass, who is satisfied to remain ignorant about the possibility of making nuclear power our big trick. Should we suffer fools like Tyler gladly when his ignorance puts the future of humanity at risk?

Unfortunately many of the so called energy experts who writings are featured on The Energy Collective are every bit as ignorant as Tyler, and every bit as willfully so. We are not going to win the fight against global warming if we listen to the voices of idiots.
The world of the Energy Collective Foxes: Recent German wind electrical output.

There are 19,460 wind turbines in Germany with a total capacity of 22,247 MW installed. Note that wind generation output dropped to zero on August 22, and still had not recovered at the end of August 25.

Update 8/27/09: The Capacity Factor has posted another critique of Tyler Hamilton, futher calling into question his professionalism.

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