Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Military research is not a corporate subsidy.

This statistic bugs me:
From 1943 to 1999 the U.S. government paid nearly $151 billion, in 1999 dollars, in subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power, Marshall Goldberg of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research organization in Washington, wrote in a July 2000 report. Of this total, 96.3 percent went to nuclear power, the report said.
Note the starting date of that statistic. 1943. The subsidy they are claiming we gave the nuclear industry was clearly the Manhattan project. It was not until 1957 that we built our first civilian nuclear reactor. That whole period until then was almost entirely military research. Even in the time since then much of this subsidy was military research that happened to be relevant to civilian applications. This research more than payed for itself. The United States Navy operates more nuclear reactors than any other organization in the world. You are not going to power an aircraft carrier on solar and wind, so this is a damn good use of money. Also, a lot of the remaining subsidy is entirely payed for by taxes on nuclear power plants! This was particularly true of the work at Yucca mountain. You can't seriously call money taken from an industry to pay for related infrastructure a subsidy.

Even if this statistic was accurate, it is still meaningless. There are about 100 civilian nuclear reactors in America. This, clearly grossly inflated, subsidy number only works out to about a billion and a half dollars per reactor. With a mere 150 Billion dollars in government subsidies we manage to produce a fifth of our electricity. The several billion we have spent on solar still only produces four hundredths of a percent of our electricity. With a payoff as low as that it is no wonder that the government chose to support nuclear instead of solar...

I don't buy into the case that nuclear energy is uneconomical. It rests entirely on the assumption that new reactors will be many times more expensive than the old reactors. The reactors we built in the fifties through eighties have managed to not kill a single member of the public with radiation poisoning while costing a small fraction of the 10 Billion that people are projecting new nuclear will cost. We could just build duplicates of these reactors at similar prices to what was payed back then and do just fine.

This discrepancy is magnified by the fact they project the cost of the first new reactor we build. Yes the first reactor we build might be 10 Billion dollars because we have to reinvent the wheel. However all that design work can pretty much be copied exactly for dozens of future reactors. Any reasonable projection of cost for the tenth, hundredth, or thousandth reactor is significantly lower than what costs were for the existing reactors we operate. Standardized designs alone would be enough to ensure that is true.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tricking Conservatives

This may be the funniest attempt I have ever seen to try and manipulate conservatives into believing in global warming:
Climate change linked to possible mass Mexican migration to U.S.
Of course it is complete BS. Even if we could predict the effect of global warming with sufficient accuracy to make such a prediction, demographics would kill it. This is almost certainly the end for mass Mexican immigration to America. While I am sure people will always want to come here, there has been a huge demographic shift in Mexico:
The population's annual growth rate has been reduced from a 3.5% peak, in 1965 to 0.99% in 2005. While Mexico is now transitioning to the third phase of demographic transition, close to 50% of the population in 2009 was 25 and younger. Fertility rates have also decreased from 5.7 children per woman in 1976 to 2.2 in 2006.
With a population that is no longer growing it is unlikely Mexicans will be trying as hard to get out of the country as they do now. Even if they do, there will simply be less Mexicans which leads to less immigration.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Locking people up

Pretty consistently the Economist is the news source I agree with the most. They just seem a whole lot more rational than the media we have here.

Anyways, I rather like this article on how many people we are locking up.

An exciting election this fall...

I don't know if we really have a chance at passing proposition 19 in the fall. I also don't know if the Federal Government will continue to step all over the 10th amendment and block the effort even if we do pass it. This sure will be an exciting election though. As far as I can see the pro-legalization proponents are putting up a good fight, but it really will just come down to which side cares enough to show up to the polls. Clearly there are enough Californians who support this issue to pass the ballot measure. However I have no idea which side will manage to attract the most voters.

Anyways, the SF Gate has a pretty good article on the subject, as does the LA Times, San Jose Mercury News and The Economist.

One thing that worries me is that it does not seem to have gotten around just how conservative this bill is. It does not make it legal to smoke in public, does not alter driving under the influence laws, does not make it legal to sell or grow for sale in counties who do not allow it(although it does make it legal to transport it, and grow for personal use), so the final effect will be that it is only entirely legal in perhaps a dozen counties in the state. Maybe as few as two or three.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Buchanan is dangerous

I just clicked on a listing of California's War Dead after hearing another person in my high school class was killed.

Buchanan High school appears to have had more war deaths than any other high school in the state(and that was before the death of Brian Piercy on Monday). My class has lost four people so far. Still no World War 2, but rather scary nonetheless. I strongly suspect in my high school class that war deaths are the leading cause of death since graduation.