No, Michael Moore did not make a documentary called “Planet of the Humans”

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That was some other guy. The recently released documentary “Planet of the Humas” was written by Jeff Gibbs and Directed by Jeff Gibbs. See?

No mention of Michael Moore there. This is a Jeff Gibbs documentary.

Michael Moore does have a lot to do with this production, though. He is the executive producer, and he seems to be promoting it. But it is not his baby. It is Jeff Gibbs’ baby. We don’t know how much Moore was involved, or if he’s even seen it. (Well, he’s probably seen it, but did he only see it after it was done?)

Why is this important? For a rather sad pair of reasons. Here they are:

1) Trusted, sincere, carefully done analysis from several different individuals shows us that Planet of the Humans is not a good documentary at all. It borders on dishonest (if not charging across that border several times) and while here and there in the film there is surely an important message or two, the messages are supported with information that is mostly bogus, biased, some kind of balderdash.

2) Many people love and respect Michael Moore and his work, and a large number of individuals have, in my experience, decided that since this is a Michael Moore joint, it must be fabulous, and it must be true.

So, I say this to you, Michael Moore fan: This documentary sucks, but it is OK that it sucks. This is a documentary by Jeff Gibbs, not by Michael Moore. So, it is OK to pay attention to the many voices of critique. Indeed, as my friend Adam Siegel asked me earlier today: “Who is the real victim here? Is Michael Moore a victim of his friend Gibbs’ poor work? Does he know how bad this is? Poor man,” or words to that effect.

Speaking of Siegel, he is the one on-line expert who has gone all meta over Moore. He has assembled a series of posts, the most recent (on top of the list below) being the most comprehensive but all are worth a look, that put together the panoply of critiques of Planet of the Humans. Go read:

Moore’s Boorish Planet of The Humans: An Annotated Collection

Planet Of The Humans: Moore Trouble Than It’s Worth

Distributor pulls Michael Moore’s (@MMFlint’s) #PlanetOfTheHumans due to truthiness & errors

For #EarthDay, Michael Moore (@MMFlint) releases fundamentally misleading film

Sometimes less is more. In this case, Moore is less.

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
*Please note:
Links to books and other items on this page and elsewhere on Greg Ladens' blog may send you to Amazon, where I am a registered affiliate. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps to fund this site.

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38 thoughts on “No, Michael Moore did not make a documentary called “Planet of the Humans”

  1. That was confusing. The title which came up on Youtube was “Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans” I do now see his name as Executive Producer on the main title page.

    I found many of the criticisms of green energy accurate. Intermittent wind and solar do need fossil fuel backup for when it is not windy or sunny, and it does take fossil fuel to keep the backup spun-up and ready to provide the backup power when needed. There is no grid level power storage yet for storing the intermittent power and feeding it back when it is needed. Mining for solar panels and lithium batteries does do a lot of damage and does take a lot of fossil fuel to mine, transport and manufacture.

    So a lot of the criticisms were on point. Cutting down trees to make wood chips to burn as a renewable sustainable fuel doesn’t make a lot of sense – so I get that criticism also. Especially shipping the woodchips to Europe from the USA (and elsewhere) – using fossil fuels. Nuts.

    My criticisms of the movie:

    1. No solutions. They allude to reducing population – but don’t say how to do that or even how much we need to reduce it by.

    2. No nuclear. They left out the one baseload energy source which we currently know how to build, which is more green than fossil fuel – nuclear power. They don’t talk about nuclear at all. A real opportunity missed. Rather than killing 7 billion people (they don’t advocate that, but it is implied by reducing population) – why not embrace nuclear power to generate 50 or 60% of the energy needed, with the rest provided by renewable power. They wimp out in the end and I was disappointed.

    I really do think nuclear power is the solution, and we need to triple our nuclear power output from 20% in the USA to 60% or even 80% – with the rest provided by intermittent renewable (and hydro). This is doable, would work and would solve the problem Gibbs identified – but he isn’t willing to go there.

    What a shame.

    Maybe in another decade we will be more willing to embraced nuclear power.

    1. “Rather than killing 7 billion people (they don’t advocate that, but it is implied by reducing population) ”

      Wow — that jumps to the top 10 in the list of unjustifiable comments you’ve made.

    2. Maybe it is unjustified. I had read elsewhere that Earth can sustain about 1 billion humans. I just did the math and combined that with the movies call for reducing population to a more sustainable level.

      What is your thought on what Gibbs thinks the sustainable level is (from having watched the documentary).

    3. Re: “we need to triple our nuclear power output from 20% in the USA to 60% or even 80%”

      Oh really? Have they found someplace to isolate the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants safely for ~10 half-lives of the longest half-life isotope involved? We haven’t done that with the waste we have now, let alone the amount that ramping up nuclear power at 4X the present rate in the U. S. alone would generate.

      Keep in mind that civilizations fall and and languages evolve. Do we have any assurance that whatever sites our nuclear wastes are stored will not end up poisoning future populations who no longer know what and where they are? Or have enough technology to identify them for themselves?

      On a shorter time-scale, how sure can we be that human fallibility, wars, natural events (including earthquakes, tsunamis), and other occurrences will keep all the greater number of nuclear power plants you envision working safely?

  2. I have no idea — and neither do you. The stupidity of your assertion is easily explained: you’re assigning an idea you claim to have “read somewhere” (i.e, made up) a sustainable number is 1 billion, and you “did the math” (which makes it a certainty it’s wrong, given your ability) to assign that value to the people who made the movie.

    You just aren’t capable of reasoned thought are you?

  3. Re: my previous comments.

    Just to save you some time: (1) “At this time there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level waste. ” (2) “Strontium-90 and cesium-137 have half-lives of about 30 years (half the radioactivity will decay in 30 years). Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years.” — information from a recently updated NRC website (The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is an independent agency of the United States government tasked with protecting public health and safety related to nuclear energy.)

    https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/radwaste.html#waste

    The isotopes above are in high-level radioactive waste. A half-life is the time it takes any amount of radioactive isotope to break down into its daughter isotope. So, any amount of a radioactive isotope, let’s say Strontium 90, will be reduced to half that amount in about 30 years, by the end of the next 30 years it will be reduced to one-fourth of that original amount, after the next 30 years it will be reduced to one-eighth of that original amount, and so on. After ten half-life intervals have passed, the original amount will be reduced to 1/1024th of that original amount.

    1. Tyvor:

      Did you know that we can reuse the nuclear waste? 90% of the energy is left, and it can be reused, over and over again. Each cycle, it reduces the amount of waste and its half-life. We have years worth of energy sitting in casks at the 100 nuclear power plants – being wasted.

      Did you know that all existing nuclear waste in the USA would only cover a football field 10 meters high?

      Sure nuclear waste is a problem – but not as big a problem as CO2 emissions.

      Unless we invent real working fusion, space-based solar or grid level power storage, we have to pick – either go nuclear or emit massive quantities of CO2.

      Compare the energy obtained to quantity of waste of nuclear fission to any other conventional energy production. The amount of waste of nuclear fission is minuscule compared to fossil fuel based energy or the waste in making solar panels or wind turbines that can produce comparable energy output.

      We are being so short-sighted by not going nuclear!

      Hopefully we will get better educated and wake up.

  4. “Hopefully we will get better educated and wake up”.

    Coming from you, RickA, with your profound ignorance, this statement is a total gem. Your problem is that you think you are informed. The truth is vastly different. All of your views are distorted by your warped, right wing political ideology. Your understanding of science is no higher than that of a mediocre high school student. Writing as a scientist, I can see that quite clearly.

  5. “Did you know that all existing nuclear waste in the USA would only cover a football field 10 meters high?”

    Believing anything you say when there is no reference is a huge risk, but assuming that is true: you don’t see any problem there?

    1. dean:

      Here is a reference:

      https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/5-fast-facts-about-nuclear-energy

      No – the amount of waste is very very small compared to any other type of energy, and it can be reused multiple times to produce more energy.

      It is very clearly the way to go – not only if you believe global warming is a problem, but because we will use less fossil fuel by switching to nuclear than if we try to boost renewable – which simply burns more fossil fuels than the nuclear alternative.

    2. Re: “Did you know that we can reuse the nuclear waste? 90% of the energy is left, and it can be reused, over and over again. ”
      =

      Yes I did and it is covered in the reference I gave. I found it interesting that: “There is no commercial reprocessing of nuclear power fuel in the United States at present; almost all existing commercial high-level waste is unreprocessed spent fuel.” In other words, the free enterprise, corporate part of the U. S. so beloved by the Republican Party and Trump, has shown no interest in reprocessing nuclear “fuel” nor in permanent, safe disposal of nuclear waste.
      = =

      Re: “Did you know that all existing nuclear waste in the USA would only cover a football field 10 meters high?”
      =

      To me that is irrelevant because:
      (1) We are not the only country using nuclear power and we are connected in many ways to the rest of the world. We also owe something to the future of humanity.
      (2) We haven’t been using nuclear power for very long (in a historical time frame) and never for our major power needs. So the waste produced so far is minimal.
      (3A) That waste is not generated at just one site but hundreds, and you want more not fewer sites.
      (3B) To accumulate that waste into one (or even much fewer) sites would involve transportation and transporting dangerous materials is another risk added — especially in the antiquated U. S. transport network.
      (4) In terms of both geology and semi-democracy, finding a safe site is problematical when half-lives of thousands of years are involved. (Of course I suppose you could just say: “Screw the future generations as long as we’re ok.”)

  6. Why *are* deniers like Ricky so down on renewables anyway? And so impervious to the fact that even the nuclear industry’s own optimistic estimates make it clear that it will not be a fix for AGW.

    1. I simply do not think renewable’s can replace fossil fuels. They can generate 30 ish percent of the power, as long as you have a baseload power source ready to smooth out the indeterminacy’s of renewables. That baseload power source can be hydro (where appropriate) or nuclear. They will never be able to generate 100% of the energy without grid level storage, which we have not invented yet.

      Nuclear can provide all the power we need – it will just cost more. If we are trying to save the planet, the cost shouldn’t matter (within reason). The nuclear waste is a problem, but a small problem in the context of global warming. There is so little waste, and it can be reused over and over, making it less toxic each cycle that it is really a non-issue.

      Of course, that is just my personal opinion. You are free to disagree and have a different personal opinion.

      It is my opinion that the more renewable we deploy, the more fossil fuel we will burn – absent switching over from baseload fossil fuel to baseload nuclear. I think the data show that clearly.

    2. Nuclear can provide all the power we need

      […]

      Of course, that is just my personal opinion. You are free to disagree and have a different personal opinion.

      I don’t resort to worthless wankery like ‘personal opinions’. I leave that to people like you who are desperately pushing a political peanut up a counterfactual slope.

      I use facts and data. In this case, nuclear industry data, which allow an optimistic estimate of where we could get – under favourable assumptions – and it’s not even close to your pulled-out-of-your-arse numbers:

      The Harmony goal is for the nuclear industry to provide 25% of global electricity and build 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050. The World Nuclear Association says this requires an economic and technological level playing field, harmonised regulatory processes to streamline nuclear construction, and an effective safety paradigm which focuses safety efforts on measures that make the most difference to public wellbeing. The build schedule would involve adding 10 GWe per year to 2020, 25 GWe per year to 2025, and 33 GWe per year from then. This rate compares with 31 GWe per year in the mid-1980s. The Harmony goal is put forward at a time when the limitations, costs and unreliability of other low-carbon sources of electricity are becoming politically high-profile in several countries.

      Source: World Nuclear Association

      That’s 25% of global electricity generation (*not* TPE) by 2050. Just 25% under favourable assumptions. Not. Even. Close.

      Now I’ve pointed this out before, so once again we have a situation where you are bullshitting your worthless ‘personal opinions’ instead of resetting your position in accordance with external information. That’s lying, in my book.

      It is my opinion that the more renewable we deploy, the more fossil fuel we will burn – absent switching over from baseload fossil fuel to baseload nuclear. I think the data show that clearly.

      Really? News to me. Which data Ricky? Link to your sources, you dishonest bullshitter.

    3. BBD:

      Here is a paper you can look at:

      http://tmtfree.hd.free.fr/albums/files/TMTisFree/Documents/Energy/Energy%20intensities,%20EROIs,%20and%20energy%20payback%20times%20of%20electricity%20generating%20power%20plants.%20Weissbach,%202013.pdf

      It uses the term “buffering” for compensating for intermittency. It is an interesting read. Taking buffering into account, nuclear gives the best energy return on investment, and solar PV the worst. They use pumped hydro as the buffer.

    4. The 20-year old study you link does not support your claim that:

      It is my opinion that the more renewable we deploy, the more fossil fuel we will burn – absent switching over from baseload fossil fuel to baseload nuclear. I think the data show that clearly.

      You were bullshitting again. Either link to the data that support your claim or admit that you pulled it fully formed out of your arse.

      Speaking of which, from your link:

      Solar PV in Germany even with the more effective roof installation and even when not taking the needed buffering (storage and over-capacities) into account has an EROI far below the economic limit.

      ‘Far below the economic limit’. Who knew? And why have not all the solar schemes developed over the last two decades gone bust in the 20 years since this stuff was published?

      Perhaps making any claim ‘supported’ by a study that purports to find that SPV is hopelessly uneconomic would be unwise given the vast amount of real-world data we now have proving exactly the opposite.

      I suggest you stop bullshitting and read your own supposedly supporting materials both more closely and more critically.

    5. Next up, you BLANKED ME AGAIN when I pointed out – again – that you are simply talking bollocks about nuclear potential.

      You bullshit constantly and refuse to admit error no matter how often it is pointed out.

      You are a dishonest little shit and a fucking troll to boot.

  7. Addendum to “Re: ‘Did you know that we can reuse the nuclear waste? 90% of the energy is left, and it can be reused, over and over again.’”
    =
    The heavy “transuranic isotopes” including plutonium are formed by neutron capture not the fission that produces lighter elements and the energy used by humans. It is these isotopes that have the long half-lives and “account for most of the radioactive hazard remaining in high-level waste after 1,000 years.” (Same reference I gave before.)
    = =

  8. The energy solutions are rather difficult for the scientific laity to sort out, and it seems that this documentary (based on reviews by people I trust,) further muddies the waters. I know some people who are convinced that green energy is foisted on us by the capitalists, and not a fix for AGW. They point out the environmental costs of extraction and disposal, the lack of sufficient resources for wind and solar to be able to ever generate enough power in a post-carbon world, and the attraction of modular nuclear power plants as an alternative to wind and solar. They point out that as long as population grows unchecked, our species will never catch up and that we need to simplify and cut our energy use.

    So, on to checking population growth:

    1. I think we need to go back to Malthus and learn an important lesson. We will never attain a reduction in population growth steep enough to solve the problems of sufficient food (and distribution) to prevent hunger. Population is just going to grow once we achieve success in that.

    2. Developing nations, where population is growing most rapidly, are not using as much energy as the nations where population is in relative check and growing more slowly. We’re not dying off as fast as we need to, we live longer than we have been in the past. So, the better health outcomes of developing medicine are extending our lives and exacerbating the population problem and I, for one, am not about to tell Nigeria to stop trying to heal their people so that we can solve the energy crisis. Also, it would be bad form for the rich nations to tell the developing nations that they need to put their development on hold so that energy needs are not increased.

    So, we need to use technology to reduce the carbon load on our atmosphere. And we need to make the issues more accessible to the lay people who vote for the decision makers who must lead the way in making this happen. As with most issues in science, bluster and sciency talk hides the facts and is seductive to people who think they are smarter than the average bear, but really are the average bear. I accept that I am ignorant when it comes to most of the difficult issues in energy technology, and I think a couple of years of college level physics is about the only way that I would be able to gain enough skill to make determinations on which energy solutions are going to be the most effective. Balancing efficiency against environmental costs of resource extraction and waste disposal is not easy. My presumption is that resource extraction for the materials needed for solar and wind power, for battery storage, and other alternatives to carbon fuel is that over time the renewables provide more energy at a lower environmental cost than oil, coal or natural gas.

    But, like I say, it’s very complicated and people tend to find that facts that fit our own presumption. I don’t like documentaries, as a general rule, because they reflect personal biases. This is not the only one to do so.

    I understand that Moore did not write or direct this one, but his name is on it as an executive producer. He either funded it or secured funding for it. I also understand that he is promoting it. If he is, then he bears responsibility for this as much as Gibbs does.

    1. You were wrong almost immediately Mike in assuming that there is a problem in terms of there currently being insufficient food to feed 7.5 billion people. There is already easily enough food for that – the problem is based on global social inequity between countries in the north and those in the south. In other words, distribution. Also, the rich countries do not freely share their technologies with the poor nations: they want hard cash for giving access to them. Tons and tons of food go to waste in the developed world. Underpinning every environmental and social problem is the equity dilemma. The warped form of capitalism known as ‘neoliberalism’ (that is neither new, nor liberal), has concentrated wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. The current political order prioritizes the interests of the privileged few and therein lies the rub.

      Indeed, almost every country in the developed world harbours a deep, ecological deficit that can only be maintained through a system that enables the rich nations of the ‘quad’ to run the show, and to loot capital from the poor, underdeveloped south. Government and corporate planners have long known that the cumulative ecological impacts of the rich nations are hugely unsustainable, but they have been content to promote social and economic systems that maintain this disparity as long as it is not a threat to the national security of the rich nations. I lecture on this subject at two universities and nothing I am saying here is remotely controversial to many economists. Read books like “Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation” by Patrick Bond and the situation is crystal clear. Far from trying to promote freedom, human rights and democracy in the south, our governments and corporations are more interested in maintaining the current plunder, while paying lip service to more noble aims in order to placate the public.

    2. Mike:

      I enjoyed reading your very thoughtful post. I agree with much of it. Especially about telling the third world – sorry we pulled up the ladder. I think they should be able to raise their standard of living just like we did.

      A couple of thoughts for you to consider.

      1. You need rare earth metals for renewable technology (mostly solar panels). You need lithium for lithium batteries (i.e. electric vehicles). If we made enough batteries and solar panels to produce a higher percentage of energy (and storage), say going from 5% to 50% – well that would require 10 times as much rare earth metals (and they are rare – it is right in the name). Also, a solar panel lasts 10 years and then it has to be disposed of and/or recycled. The energy density of both solar panels and wind is much lower than nuclear and fossil fuel – so that is a factor also. So while we will probably run out of fossil fuels someday – so to we will someday run out of rare earth metals, cobalt and other things which are required for renewables. Not that we cannot make a bunch more – we can. It is just that we cannot replace fossil fuel with renewables because intermittent power production requires always on, spun up, backup up power production to provide constant power to the grid when it stops blowing or a cloud covers a solar farm (or night happens). Or we need grid level power storage – something we just don’t have yet. So we are really building two power systems – the renewable one and the backup one. Does that sound efficient? And the backup one is constantly burning fossil fuels – so the more renewable deployed the more fossil fuel you burn. So that is a problem.

      2. Nuclear is like 8000 times more efficient than anything else. So it takes a lot less mining and transportation to get and move the fuel needed to produce the same amount of energy. Way less waste (in volume). The total amount of nuclear waste in the USA from 1953 to present would only cover a football field and be 10 yards high. That is really puny, considering nuclear produces 20% of the energy in the USA – especially compared to fossil fuels, or the waste from solar panels (after 10 years) or end of life wind equipment. Nuclear power plants last at least 50 years and probably could be pushed to 100 years. Nuclear power plants take up much much less space than solar and wind. It is also the safest form of energy and could be made much safer (building fourth generation plants or moving to thorium). And don’t forget that the waste still has 90% of its energy potential and by building the right kind of nuclear power plant, we can recycle the waste, over and over, reducing its half-life each time and the volume of waste each time.

      So those are my thoughts. I think we can make 80% of our energy with nuclear power (despite what BBD’s opinion is), because there is no technical reason we cannot build 300 more nuclear power plants in the USA (we already have 100). It could be done and it could probably be done in 5 or 10 years, if it was a priority. So we COULD produce 80% of our energy with nuclear and 20% with renewable (about what we have now). That is technically feasible and would solve the global warming problem (at least the part played by the USA).

      It is interesting that this solution is rejected out of hand and rejected by the majority of the public. People are just irrationally afraid of radiation, even though they don’t mind getting a suntan. Go figure!

      One last thought. Fusion would be even better than fission – but we haven’t invented it yet. We have been working on it for 50 years and we should keep working on it – but we have to go with what we have now (i.e. fission).

      Let me know what you think of my thoughts Mike.

    3. So those are my thoughts. I think we can make 80% of our energy with nuclear power (despite what BBD’s opinion is), because there is no technical reason we cannot build 300 more nuclear power plants in the USA (we already have 100). It could be done and it could probably be done in 5 or 10 years, if it was a priority. So we COULD produce 80% of our energy with nuclear and 20% with renewable (about what we have now). That is technically feasible and would solve the global warming problem (at least the part played by the USA).

      1/ I stated clearly that what I posted was a nuclear industry projection, not my ‘opinion’. The source – the World Nuclear Association, no less – was linked in the post. You cannot have failed to see it so this is deliberate on your part. Stop your lying and trolling.

      2/ The US is not the world but emissions abatement is a global problem so stop the false equivalence.

      Now, please.

    4. BBD:

      Their projection doesn’t change my opinion. I am not projecting where we will be, but where we SHOULD be (in my opinion). There is no technical reason to prevent building 300 plants in the USA. As opposed to the technical reasons we cannot do 100% renewable.

      I only vote in the USA, so I only offer my opinion as to where the USA should go. I will leave the rest of the world to the rest of the world.

    5. Their projection doesn’t change my opinion.

      Give me patience.

      The nuclear industry’s most optimistic estimate of where it COULD be is what you are being given.

      Neither it, nor I nor anybody else gives a shit about your worthless opinions. They don’t matter. They are noise. All that matters is what lies within the realm of the possible.

      Your discourse has fallen below the level of idiocy. Please, just fuck off.

    6. Ever the troll.

      Well if you won’t go, then stop bullshitting and learn the morally necessary function of modifying your ‘opinions’ when they are shown to be wrong.

  9. Remember BBD, rickA is hte moron who cited a 20-year old study in which the authors based numbers on “the current economy” (between equations 6 and 7), implying that they would be relevant today.

    He’s dishonest, yes, but he’s also the dullest butter knife in the chef’s kitchen.

  10. Re: “People are just irrationally afraid of radiation, even though they don’t mind getting a suntan. Go figure!”
    =
    I can’t let that sentence slide by. It’s so much like the bs from Republicans comparing death rates from Covid-19 with deaths from the flu, auto accidents, or even heart disease as if they were of similar transmissivity, deadliness, and preventability.

    There is nothing irrational about being afraid of radiation doses that are likely to produce damage to your body, including cancer. Equating the UV of sunlight with radiation from radioactive isotopes from the waste of nuclear power plants or the radiation released when a nuclear power plant goes blooey is a false equivalency.

    For one thing, the act of getting a suntan results in (some) protection from further exposure to sunlight, whereas the radiation from radioisotopes does no such thing. Furthermore, information about the dangers of overexposure to solar radiation has resulted in many people safeguarding themselves (and their children) using sunblock and protective clothing but there is no widely available “radioactivity block” lotion or protective clothing.

    Other notes: Radon given off by isotope decay in granite countertops is a special case and can be mitigated by replacing the countertops or making sure there is plenty of circulation of outside air into the house. ventilation to the outside. The amount of natural radiation given off by soil varies with its composition and geological history but is moderated by footwear and is at a low enough level to show no statistical correlation with medical problems. [I have no specific references at hand for the radon and soil radiation items; I may look if I can remember to do so.]

  11. RickA, try telling the ruling elites in the north that the poor nations should be allowed to raise their standard of living just like we in the developed world have. Publicly they make all kind if meaningless gestures saying that they support it, but behind the scenes they do everything to prevent it. Have you not read quotes from influential politicians planners and bankers over the years? Smedley Butler? George Kennan? Henry Kissinger? Lawrence Summers? They make it clear that any meaningful raise in the standard of living of the poor in the underdeveloped south will conflict with the way of life of those in the rich north, and thus any measures to raise the standard of living of the poor must be resisted. Government planners in the United States and Europe realize that the ecological impacts of populations in the developed world aline exceed the planetary biological carrying capacity, and that if everyone aspired to enjoy the same lifestyle as the average American then we would need several Earth-like planets to sustain it. The last time I checked, Earth-like planets were hard to find; we have one, and at present the combined human ecological footprint exceeds the planetary capacity by about 50%. In other words, we are living off of capital, rather than income.

    I certainly do not expect a right wing, anti-environmental-Republican Party supporting lawyer to understand any of this. But that does not abrogate the truth. If we are to have a sustainable future for everyone on Earth then the rich nations need to reduce their consumption dramatically and we need to dismantle neoliberal capitalism is favor of a much more equitable, egalitarian political, economic system.

    1. Re: “we need to dismantle neoliberal capitalism is favor of a much more equitable, egalitarian political, economic system.”

      World pop. in 1940 is est. at 2.3 billion and is now est. at 7.8 billion, despite several wars and genocides since 1940. That’s just one lifetime, not so far from the median for first world countries. Increased affluence seems correlated with declining birth rate and increased longevity, which combination has its own problems already seen in Europe and North America so a lot of things have to be thought out carefully or we’ll just trade one dark future for another.

  12. From RickA’s source cited at

    http://gregladen.com/blog/2020/04/27/no-michael-moore-did-not-make-a-documentary-called-planet-of-the-humans/#comment-872102

    The results show that nuclear,hydro, coal, and natural gas power systems (in this order) are one order of magnitude more effective than photovoltaics and wind power.

    The only way that can work is if the externalities, especially of coal and natural gas, are ignored. Also ignoring the environmental vulnerability of nuclear.

    As BBD points out, RickA is far up his own fundament given the state of play twenty years later.

  13. The study I cited isn’t 20 years old. It was submitted to Energy in 2013, so it is 7 years old.

    Here is an article from 2012 which makes the same point:

    https://www.latimes.com/local/la-xpm-2012-dec-09-la-me-unreliable-power-20121210-story.html

    The more renewable power is deployed, the more fossil fuel is required to back it up (unless we switch to nuclear power). Solar and wind power is intermittent. That is a fact. Because wind and solar are intermittent, we will use more fossil fuel as backup the more wind and solar we deploy. That is also a fact.

    Nuclear power is baseload power (i.e. not intermittent).

    As we rebuild Americas power generation ability, I would like to see us replace coal power plants with nuclear, as they reach their end-of-life. Eventually, I would like to see us replace all fossil fuel power with nuclear. I would like to see us build a couple of recycling nuclear power plants and recycle all the nuclear waste which is currently being stored onsite at over 100 power plants, and is currently being wasted.

    I think eventually more and more people will see the wisdom of going nuclear.

    We will see.

    1. The study I cited isn’t 20 years old. It was submitted to Energy in 2013, so it is 7 years old.

      And still demonstrably incorrect in a key finding.

      The more renewable power is deployed, the more fossil fuel is required to back it up […] That is also a fact.

      Except that it’s not. You could use pumped hydro (PHES) in combination with hydrogen produced and stored during the periods when large-scale W&S generation exceeds demand. There’s no necessity to use FFs. You are trying to create a false dilemma. Yet another logical fallacy in the service of your bizarre anti-renewables fixation.

      I ask again: why *are* you so anti-renewables? Is it just a tribal thing, or what?

      I think eventually more and more people will see the wisdom of going nuclear.

      This is now pure trolling. You’ve had the industry’s own optimistic projection and it’s grossly insufficient to be the mainstay of decarbonisation. You’ve been reminded – again – that CO2 is a global problem and the US is not the world and you are pushing a silly false equivalence.

      This blind resistance to the facts is disturbing.

  14. It seems the paper rickA linked to is as flawed as he is.

    The first page of a detailing of the issues is here
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0360544214014327/first-page-pdf

    Another rebuttal, apparently in response to comments by the original authors, is here.

    https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/file/b1d4ee13-ca9e-4bb9-b149-d3f40747314f/1/raugei2015rebuttal.pdf

    From the conclusion:

    In conclusion, we cannot help but reiterate here Raugei’s previous conclusions that “in the light of all of the above, there appears to be ample reason to question the reliability of the authors’ numerical results, and, most importantly, their internal as well as external comparability to those produced by previously published studies.”
    In addition, the authors make a number of physically impossible statements, such as “only exergy is generated and destroyed” [3, p.212] (exergy can only be destroyed, never created), which could be forgiven as a typographical error (though suggesting a lack in methodological rigour) were it not for the fact that
    it was compounded four sentences later with discussion of”generated exergy” suggesting (perhaps even worse) that the authors lack a fundamental grasp of basic thermodynamics, further underlining the need to question the original analysis. Finally, Weißbach et al.’s defence of their untenable assertions by setting up straw man arguments and misinterpreting and misquoting Raugei’s comments comes across as a worrying indication of their seeming lack of familiarity with scientific standards and widely accepted methodological conventions.

    1. Thanks dean. It was obviously flawed and very much an outlier as a consequence but there comes a point where aside of pointing out the obvious, I cannot any longer be bothered to chase down the crap Ricky throws up. But I feel a bit guilty now…

      What is interesting to me is where did Ricky get this study from?

      Who is peddling it?

      Perhaps he would be kind (honest) enough to tell us in his next comment on this thread.

    2. BBD:

      Since you asked so nicely (grin) – nobody is “peddling” this study.

      I found it on Google Scholar, just using keywords to get you a reference (since you requested one). I found the LA Times news article doing a simple google search. There are lots of places one can find support for the proposition that hooking up a wind farm or solar farm to the grid requires backup power to smooth out the intermittency.

      Yes – pumped hydro can be used to smooth out the intermittency of wind or solar. Not available in all geographic areas and pretty expensive to set up as a backup energy provider – but yes – pumped hydro is available. More commonly coal or natural gas is currently used for that purpose (because it is cheaper).

      My main point – which we might just disagree on forever – is that it would be cheaper to just build 300 nuclear power plants to simply replace the fossil fuel power plants, and use nuclear to smooth out the remaining 20% renewable wind and solar power we currently have.

      I am sure we could probably do 60% nuclear and 40% renewable if we changed the grid (instead of 80/20). It is my understanding that anything over about 35% intermittent won’t work with the current grid (we would have to make very large changes to accommodate that level of intermittency).

      Nuclear could work to solve the carbon emission problem – if we want it to. I think it would be cheaper than building two power systems (a renewable one and a backup one). It would take less land, less mining, less transportation of fuel, it would last longer than solar panels or wind towers, it is baseload and its waste, while radioactive is recyclable.

      So as one individual voter – I advocate using nuclear to replace all fossil fuel power plants. That is just my personal opinion.

      You don’t have to agree. I am just letting you (and the other readers) know my opinion of how to solve the problem of global warming. At least in the USA.

      Would fusion be better? Yes – if we can get it to work. No radioactive waste to deal with using fusion. We don’t have fusion yet and probably won’t for 20 to 50 years.

      If global warming is truly the problem people say it is – than we should look to all the solutions. Nuclear is a solution and it doesn’t need to be invented – it is here right now. All we need to do is decide to build it (as a nation). That part isn’t going so well. Hopefully if I keep educating readers of this blog more people will read up on nuclear power and decide it is a solution we should be looking at.

      My main problem with renewable energy (wind and solar) is that the cost/benefit isn’t as favorable as with nuclear. It is impossible to replace all our fossil fuel with renewable without using nuclear (in my opinion). I have no problem with renewable at 20% or 25% or 30% of our total power needs. Going to 35% or higher IS a problem (in my opinion). But I am willing to let renewable go higher in some state or region and see if they can make it work (especially without buying fossil fuel power from outside their region to smooth out intermittency). It would be nice to have a test case to study. In the meantime, I simply share my opinion.

    3. I found it on Google Scholar, just using keywords to get you a reference (since you requested one).

      And it was a dud.

      If global warming is truly the problem people say it is – than we should look to all the solutions.

      Indeed we should. And since the nuclear industry’s most optimistic estimation of where it might get by 2050 is only 25% of global electricity generation, it is obvious that we need to include – not exclude – a very large scale contribution from W&S. There really is no getting away from this.

      My main problem with renewable energy (wind and solar) is that the cost/benefit isn’t as favorable as with nuclear.

      First, you need to do more than just assert this. Second, since nuclear cannot deliver what is required, no matter how much opinionated wishful thinking we engage in, then we are going to have to accept the cost of large-scale W&S and associated backup technologies.

      Correct me if I am mistaken, but I see no evidence for any willingness by the nuclear industry or its necessary investors to build these 300 plants in the US. Free market guy that you are, this should be deeply troubling, yet you gloss over it without a blink. This is disturbing.

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