Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pulling a Farnsworth

Good news, everyone!
BERKELEY, California - Climate models that predict the Earth's average temperature could rise as much as 10 degrees by the end of the century may have underestimated the increase by as much as four degrees.

New research at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory suggests that as carbon dioxide emissions heat the globe, hotter oceans and soils will release stored carbon dioxide, which will in turn kick up the thermostat an extra notch.

"We've probably underestimated the problem," said UC Berkeley ecologist John Harte....

"It's a vicious cycle where more warming causes more greenhouse gas emissions, and more greenhouse gas emissions cause more warming," Torn said. "That could have serious consequences both for human populations and biodiversity."
A year and a bit ago I wrote that the prospect of a positive-feedback cycle was making me reconsider my opposition to nuclear power, and I keep waffling on this. I guess I need another hit of good, pure, uncut data from actual renewables performance before I abandon nuclear entirely.


Westacular said...

So ... no Robot Party Week this year?

Ronald Brak said...

As far as I understand, a combination of wind, nuclear, solar hot water and possibly sequested CO2 thermal coal are the cheapest low emmission energy sources. Personally I would much rather people build nuclear power plants now and retire open cycle coal plants than allow CO2 emmissions to increase while waiting for improved alternatives.

I can understand people who would prefer to develop alternatives instead of nuclear but I don't think the risks of nuclear power warrant a delay. I think the risks to our environment are much greater.

Currently increasing wind generation seems to be the best option in most countries. However once that reaches a certain point nuclear will start to become more economical than adding more wind generation.

Ronald Brak said...

I've just been looking at estimates of what it would cost to capture CO2 from a coal burning plant and sequestor it. It doesn't look like it can compete with wind or nuclear power. However, there may be places with convenient access to coal and geological features that can trap carbon dioxide that might make it economical in a few areas.