I wonder, I wonder

Does George Monbiot read the Adam Smith Institute blog? Today.

But he is also wrong. In his article last week demanding a return to coal and accusing me of selling out, Scargill suggested that radioactive discharges are more dangerous than carbon emissions. This, of course, is nonsense; but if he really believes it he should be campaigning against the burning of coal.

The odd and widely ignored truth is that routine radioactive discharges from coal-burning are greater than those produced by nuclear plants. Coal contains trace amounts of uranium and thorium. Though these are present at much lower levels than in nuclear fuel, a lot more coal is burned, which means that total emissions are greater.

And the ASI blog on Saturday.

A 1,000 MW coal-burning power plant could release as much as 5.2 tons/year of uranium (containing 74 pounds (34 kg) of uranium-235) and 12.8 tons/year of thorium. The radioactive emission from this coal power plant is 100 times greater than a comparable nuclear power plant with the same electrical output; including processing output, the coal power plant\’s radiation output is over 3 times greater.

Naah, sadly not….although I\’m sure he\’d learn a lot, I reckon both of us just looked up Wikipedia.

Although George has definitely been reading someone interesting.

My position is that environmentalists should stop trying to pick technologies for electricity generation. Instead we should demand a maximum level for the carbon dioxide produced per megawatt-hour, impose a number of other public safety measures, then allow the energy companies to find the cheapest means of delivering it.

He\’s a convert to markets for example. Set the technical parameters and let people get on with it. Yes, we might disagree on what those parameters are but this is a huge step forward in his thinking don\’t you think?

8 thoughts on “I wonder, I wonder”

  1. Could you get out your magic fag packet and work out what that limit might be, including all CO2 going back to extraction of raw materials like sand, metal, uranium, coal, and indeed the CO2 emitted in building the machines we need to extract said raw materials?

  2. Again, why not let the market work out the limit? Set a levy on CO2-e and the market will wash the cost through the entire mind-boggling complex supply chain and find the cheapest solution. There are only a few pinch points for CO2-e to be emitted (coal mined, oil pumped) where the levy can be imposed.

  3. And bear in mind that there is no convincing evidence that carbon dioxide is causing any problem for the planet. In fact, given that it is good for plant growth, the undoubted increase in this trace gas will help feed the world.

    No need to create artificial and pointless markets with resulting rises in the cost of living.

  4. Having read Kay Tie and Jeff Wood’s comments, I suppose I might as well withdraw mine; the answer appears to be, set the ‘price of carbon’ at, er, £nil, and leave the rest to the markets. Hurray!

  5. Pingback: Uranium in coal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *