Sunday, October 01, 2006

The right to choose your own energy source

John Galt over at Three Sources had a good post on peak oil. I tried leaving a comment but couldn't, and in any case I wanted to reproduce it here for my readers:
An Iranian talking about Peak Oil? I'd sooner believe Ted Kennedy talking about how alcohol makes one a better swimmer. Hmm, wonder why Iranians would be talking about this. Could it be because we're finding new deposits all the time, depressing prices and thus rendering Madman Mahmoud's "oil as a weapon" as effective as spitballs?

I call the Peak Oil doomsayers, the ones who genuinely believe we're running out as opposed to those trying to create a false panic to drive up market prices, "Malthus' philosophical descendants." I look to much earlier than the 1970s, John, for the first instances of "population explosion" Chicken Littles: we're all living proof that Malthus' 1798 prediction of mass starvation was pretty boneheaded. Similarly, the oil doomsayers are being proved wrong as we speak.

Last year I wrote about John Tierney's bet with oil doomsayer Matthew Simmons. The latter thinks we'll have such a scarcity that by 2010 the price per barrel will be over $200 (in 2005 chained dollars). In hindsight, I think they shouldn't have bet an absolute number of dollars ($5000), because what if the price is $199? It would have been better to negotiate some sort of option, where Tierney can make his own prediction of oil's future price. That way the winner's profit would increase with how correct he was.

Let's say Tierney thinks oil will average $60 per barrel for 2010, so they contract that Simmons will buy 100 barrels from Tierney at $130 each (the midpoint). If oil averages $60 per barrel, then Tierney will profit $70 per (less broker fees). If oil averages $200 per barrel, then Simmons will profit $70 (again less broker fees). And the more the winner is correct, the more he'll profit.

Anyway, in that entry, I noted Don Luskin pointing out how our *proven* oil reserves are constantly increasing. As you guys noted last month, U.S. reserves are now up by an estimated 50%, 15 billion barrels. That's on top of the Chinese buying PetroKazakhstan (owned by Canada -- will the wonders of globalization never cease?) so they can explore tar sands in Alberta, and OPEC nations developing their own reserves. The latter for years have *already* been pumping (pun intended) profits back into exploration and development.

Strictly speaking, I won't say "we" should be going nuclear. There are lots of us who are content with fossil fuels for specific reasons, although I think nuclear reactors are great for household electricity. All I ask is that you don't have to subsidize my choices, that I don't have to subsidize yours, and that you don't force me to trade in my gas-powered car before I'm ready. The new nuclear pellets are very promising indeed, but the Department of Energy subsidized the project, while Congress still has environmental regulations that keep nuclear power too expensive, or entirely restricted in a lot of jurisdictions. Sigh.

Indian Point, which is pretty antiquated, and I are on opposite sides of Westchester County. There are two radii for determining evacuation, depending on the severity of any problems. I'm inside the second, I think, but I don't worry about it. The biggest problems are the perpetual ones keeping the damned warning sirens working. The occasional reactor problem is far less dangerous to me than the idiot drivers along I-684 and Route 22.

The environmentalist nutjobs are always trying to shut down the reactor. They know they can't, but their lawsuits make IP much more expensive to operate. Thus its electrical output is much more expensive than it should be, in addition to all the environmental restrictions. Some putz years ago tried telling me that nuclear energy is the most expensive kind, and I had to educate him on why.


Blogger James Aach said...

If you'd like to read an insider's view of life in a US nuclear plant (the technology, the wacky politics, etc.), and how an accident might unfold, see my blog site. I've worked in a nuclear plant for over twenty years and have written a novel for the layman on the topic. Its free - and readers seem to like it judging by their homepage comments.

Note: the reactor described is a bit different than IP, but that's really a technicality, as far as the info and perspective the book tries to get across.

Monday, October 02, 2006 12:31:00 AM  
Blogger James Aach said... by the way.

Monday, October 02, 2006 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger JS_VP said...

To James Aach, I say, thanks for the free read , James. I read it through online last Saturday.
I too have worked some decades in nuclear, and I want to ask you just how an operations "walker", not assigned to specific backup diesel disassembly duty, got into your diesel house to jimmy the startup oil pump? And how he managed to know exactly how to sabotage a very complex & locked down piece of equipment, not immediately trained to operations types, and how he just happened to have all the tools at hand, and all the sabo spares, and how the diesel house was left with no CCTV surveillance, no card swipe entry, no hand geometry, no talkback from security "Attention worker Vitaly-the-Sleeper, you are not authorized for diesel house entry on this watch...stand fast, security is on the way, remain where you are"... HOW COME NONE OF THIS HAPPENED? and no tamper switches at all on the whole machine anywhere? What the hell is this., 1968 ????. What an amateur frigging nuke plant! That BWR deserved what it got, if you ask me! Piss poor security, piss poor internal control! Now on to Indian Point (my personal expertise base) . A PWR cannot be failed in the way that your Fairview BWR was in the novel.
A Russian sleeper cannot just mosey about, until the time is right, entering vital zones for no reason, and 5 separate means of blackout power are always available at all times. I like the balloons, though. Very credible, although at IP, it would just fail one of a quadruple redundant power path.
Good luck getting published, but you know what? Its too low key. You need a dam break, and an earthquake too, and then you'll have yerself a NOVEL brudda!
BTW..... You reeeaally think we stil have post-KGB sleepers? Don't you think they'd just "Go Native" and blend in, to avoid having to return to "Mother Russia" , where all the women are advertising 24-7-365 for Amerkanski husbands on the internet, so they can GET OUT?

Monday, October 02, 2006 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger jk said...

BTW - Your comment was rejected because it has more than two links (I had never run across this before, I guess it is a MT 3.x default). I "approved" it and you are live.

Monday, October 09, 2006 4:54:00 PM  

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