Michael Moore Attacks Renewable Industry By Detonating His Own Credibility

Planet Of The Humans review

Planet Of The Humans:  Earth Day documentary by Jeff Gibbs and promoted by Michael Moore. It’s zero stars from me in this review.

Two days ago I watched a documentary called Planet of the Humans that was released on Earth Day on April 22.  It’s by Jeff Gibbs and promoted by Michael Moore, who was its executive producer.

If you don’t know who Michael Moore is, he’s famous for making documentaries such as Bowling with Columbines and Roger Me, Sicko.

Planet Of The Humans is 100 minutes long and incredibly tedious.  If you’re not willing to take my word that it’s dull, you can watch it yourself because it’s free on Youtube, but I can’t in good conscience recommend that.  Not unless you are a glutton for punishment or the type who describes The English Patient as “Rollicking good fun.

Planet Of The Humans was so slow I thanked Allah, Buddha, and Jesus for the fact that Youtube lets you speed up videos. I usually have to increase Americans to 1.5X regular-speed before they approach normal English cadence, but this documentary is almost unbearable at anything under 2X speed.  I fear British flibbertigibbets may need to crank it up to relativistic speeds before it becomes intelligible to them1.

But I can say this in the documentary’s favour — Planet Of The Humans has one clear message that comes through loud and strong.  The core message I took away from it is:

Bicycles are as bad for the environment as cars.

Bicycles Are As Bad As Cars

Although the word “bicycle” isn’t mentioned once during the entire documentary’s 8 month subjective run time (only 3 months subjective at double speed), the lesson Jeff Gibbs taught me in Planet Of The Humans is that bicycles are as bad for the environment as cars.

Very quickly, using the same methods as the documentary, I will explain why:

  • Bicycles are made of steel.  Steel is bad because it’s made from coal.  It takes a lot of coal to make steel.
  • Bicycles are made using rare earths.  This requires more mines on top of the mines for iron ore and coal.  This is bad.
  • Bicycles are made in factories.  Factories are enormous industrial complexes.  Their foundations are made of concrete and concrete is the third-largest source of CO2 emissions.
  • At some point, somewhere, electrical equipment used to manufacture something related to bicycles will make use of sulphur hexafluoride which is 23,000 times worse than CO2.2
  • Oil and natural gas are used to make synthetic rubber tires and other plastics.  Basically, bicycles are made of fossil fuels.
  • People are happy to ride bicycles when it’s sunny but as soon as it starts raining they go back to driving cars.  This makes them as bad as cars.
  • In a couple of years, bicycles begin to degrade and must be replaced a few years later.
  • Large corporations profit from selling bicycles that then degrade and must be replaced.  The only reason large capitalist corporations are producing and selling millions of bicycles every year is to make a profit.

It’s possible some bike riding eco-terrorist, like my boss Finn, might try to counter this by saying:

  • While fossil fuels are involved in the manufacture of bicycles, the amount is far less than what’s required to make a car.
  • Manufacturing a bicycle currently requires fossil fuels, but a bicycle doesn’t burn fossil fuels when in use.
  • Even if people only ride their bicycles when it’s sunny, that’s still better than driving their cars everyday.
  • As our society uses more renewable energy the amount of fossil fuels used to make a bicycle will decrease.
finn with his bikes

Eco-terrorist, Finn Peacock yesterday. Photo: Nick Clayton

While these counterpoints may seem reasonable and have the advantage of being true, they are not good enough, and I can easily dismiss them by using counter counterpoints:

  • Although the amount of fossil fuels used to make a bicycle is much less than what’s used to make a car, it is proportionately the same given the weight of the bicycle.  Therefore, bicycles are just as bad.
  • While a bicycle, technically, doesn’t burn fossil fuels directly, it is powered by food eaten by the rider and this is produced using fossil fuels to power tractors and make fertilisers, so bicycles are fossil-fuel-powered.
  • People using bicycles when it’s sunny does no good at all because every bicycle has to be backed up by a car.  And that car has to be idling the whole time the bicycle is in use to cope with the sudden increase in vehicle transportation if it rains.  If you don’t believe me, check your car’s fuel gauge before you go for a long bike ride and afterwards.  It will have gone down by the same amount as if you had driven the car.
  • It does no good if more renewables in the grid reduce the amount of fossil fuel required to make bicycles. You see, fossil fuels were used to manufacture those wind turbines and solar panels.  So everything will become contaminated by fossil fuels.3

Just to be clear, I don’t actually believe bicycles are worse than cars.  But this the sum of Jeff Gibb’s argument in Planet Of The Humans against renewable energy.  It boils down to renewable energy being bad because fossil fuels are used to build it, and capitalists are making money from it.

At the moment, both a solar farm and a coal power station require fossil fuels to build.  But the CO2 emissions of solar farm are trivial no matter how you look at it, while the coal power station will be emitting thousands of tonnes of CO2 every day it is in operation.  However, this fact doesn’t get a look in.  Not once in the entire 100-minute documentary is this brought up.  Jeff Gibbs succeeds in making perfect the enemy of good.

Perfect Should Not Be The Enemy Of Good

In real life, you don’t want to ditch the good in favour of the perfect.  It may be nice to have perfection if you can get it, but if you strive for it everywhere, you’ll get very little done; while if you are insane, you’ll start advocating killing people because humans sure as hell aren’t perfect and some will always find a way to sully your perfect plans.

When it comes to climate change, it would be nice if we could magically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100% overnight.  But I can’t see any way to do that.  At least not any way that wouldn’t:

  1. Kill people.
  2. Be rejected by the vast majority of the earth’s population.

But if we stop worrying about the perfect and instead concentrate on the good and keep installing solar panels and taking other steps to reduce fossil fuel use, we can cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next 10 years.  It doesn’t look like this will happen at the moment, but we can achieve it if we really want to. No one, except perhaps some die-hard gamblers who continue to invest in oil pipelines and coal power stations, needs to be out of pocket.  We can look after fossil fuel workers and lower health costs from cleaner air may be sufficient to pay for it.  Reducing destabilising climate change would be a substantial extra economic benefit.  In the decade after that, by continuing to expand clean energy, we can get net emissions down to zero.

It appears that if Jeff Gibbs can’t get a perfect solution, untouched in any way by fossil fuels or large companies, then he’s not interested in anything that helps to substantially reduce emissions.

Jeff Gibbs Presents No Road Forward

I don’t know what would make Jeff Gibbs happy.  He certainly doesn’t tell us what he sees as a way forward in Planet Of The Humans, and this is a significant flaw of the documentary.  Maybe he wants fusion in a bucket4 that anyone can make in their garage following one page of instructions off the internet and using parts from the local hardware store.  But this would technically be nuclear power, and I know Michael Moore doesn’t like that.  Even if this was possible — which it isn’t5 — it wouldn’t be long before large corporations were selling fusion buckets in stores because people are too lazy to put them together in their garages and that would make him sad.  After all, I don’t bother to bake my own bread in my kitchen even though I know how.6

Jeff Gibbs Didn’t Check Facts

If you didn’t know anything about solar power and wind energy and watched this documentary you’d probably come away with the impression they don’t work and don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  This is because Planet Of The Humans does things like showing people claiming a 60-panel solar array can’t power a toaster or that wind farms increase carbon emissions. At no point does he point out they are wrong.  Because Gibbs is the writer, director, and presenter, I say this counts as him lying to me.

You could argue Gibbs never knew these people were wrong and so he’s not lying to us in Planet Of The Humans.  But I say because he is promoting what he’s made as a documentary – and not Harry Potter fan fiction – he has a responsibility to fact-check, so viewers are not misled7.

Renewable Energy Is Better Than Burning Fossil Fuels

I saw no indication in Planet Of The Humans that Gibbs cares that the claims that renewables are worse than burning fossil fuels is…

  1. Something that has been settled by numerous studies over many years.
  2. A bullshit question from the start.  It’s as stupid as asking whether or not bicycles are better for the environment than cars.  It’s not a question of if, but only of how much.

One study published in December 2017 by Pehl et al. 8 concluded the embodied emissions for solar PV and coal power plants were the same in 2015.  This is before the coal power station burns a single lump of coal.  So coal power and PV were equal before thousands of tonnes of CO2 start getting spewed out by one, while the other has utterly trivial emissions.  A solar farm is not going to use 60,000 barrels of oil a day to lubricate the gate hinges.

The figure for embodied energy for wind was already much less than for coal power in 2015, while over the past 5 years the figure for PV has improved as panels have become more efficient and manufacturing processes have improved.  Here’s a graph showing Pehl’s embodied energy estimates for 2050.  The figure for PV is the only one with a large change from 2015 and has gone from being equal to coal power to much lower:

Embodied energy - renewable energy vs. fossil fuels

(Image: Pehl et al 2017.)

In his documentary, Gibbs asks this question about renewable energy…

“Are we avoiding looking too closely because we don’t want to know the answer?”

This is odd because the most charitable interpretation I can give to his failure to present the facts in Planet Of The Humans is he hasn’t bothered to look closely himself.

Gibbs Complains About Intermittency Every Now And Then

Gibbs suggests the intermittency of new renewables is a show stopper.  I’m guessing he’s one of those 20 percenters I wrote about recently — people who state solar and wind can’t provide more than 20% of a grid’s electricity despite the existence of grids using more than 50% solar and wind.

He doesn’t think batteries will solve this problem.  One reason is that — in one of the few true statements given in his own words — he says…

“In a couple of years they begin to degrade and need to be replaced a few years later.”

So how much time is that?  Five years?  With ten years being the typical warranty for energy storage batteries, every major lithium battery manufacturer in the world may go bust.

He also thinks we’ll need a lot more battery storage than we do because he states…

“When I looked up how much battery storage there is it was less than one-tenth of one percent of what’s needed.”

He says this while showing an image of humanity’s annual energy consumption:

Planet Of The Humans energy screenshot

Because clearly, we need that much storage to cope with those times when the sun doesn’t rise, and the wind doesn’t blow for a year.9

No Additional Storage Required For Zero Net Emissions

Because people have been whining about renewables and intermittency for over two decades now, most people aren’t aware the amount of additional energy storage required for the Australian electricity sector to have zero net emissions is none.  No additional storage is required.

Instead we could:

  • build extra wind and solar power capacity,
  • build more transmission lines,
  • make good use of our existing hydroelectric capacity,
  • use demand management, and
  • capture and sequester any remaining emissions from natural gas generation used to firm the grid.10
  • I’m not recommending we do this.  It will be a lot cheaper to just build energy storage.  But even if we lost a bet and weren’t allowed to build any more, our grids could still get to zero net emissions and the extra cost would be trivial for a rich nation like Australia.

In reality we are going to end up with a lot of storage.  Some will be pumped hydro and a lot will be batteries.  I happen to know an eco-terrorist with an electric car that represents a lot of energy storage on wheels.

Even if Finn’s battery-on-wheels only ever sucks energy out of the grid and never blows it in, it’s still beneficial for when renewable output is high.  Also, if Elon Musk stops being such a dick about it, Tesla’s electric cars may become able to send energy into the grid one day.

Biofuel Bitching

Jeff Gibbs complains about biofuels a lot.  I’d almost forgotten about biofuels, but it’s still a thing in weird places like Finland.  But in normal countries that don’t export bike riding eco-terrorists, it’s not a very active field anymore.  It’s just not competitive with solar, wind, and storage.  But the United States is not a normal country.

The US has a weird, massive, biofuel boondoggle going on. They subsidise corn-derived ethanol to go in their Hummers, Cadillacs, and  Canyoneros11.

While Gibbs does complain about ethanol in Planet Of The Humans, he expends most of his biofuel bitching on the more mundane burning of wood for heat and electricity generation.  I don’t know what’s going on in this area in the US.  Maybe I could learn something about it if I watched a documentary about it by someone who was a reliable source of information.

We’re Ethanol Idiots Too

Of course, just because America’s stupid doesn’t mean we’re not.  We have our own stupid ethanol boondoggle where it’s subsidised through a discount fuel excise which makes it cost far more than reducing emissions by other means.  However, it pales in scale to the US.

There are no concrete plans for any significant increase in biofuel use in Australia.12  It’s just not cost-competitive with solar, wind, and storage these days.  It’s the Grandpa Simpson of renewable energy.  But then Gibbs seems to be living in the past, what with prominently featuring ancient 8% efficient American made solar panels in his documentary.  Even Australians can manage over two times that.

No Babies For You!

I mentioned earlier that Gibbs offers no road forward in Planet Of The Humans.  And he doesn’t.  He does have one suggestion, which is dumb.  He thinks we should tackle overpopulation.  This is weird because…

  • The problem has mostly fixed itself. Improving living conditions causes countries to go through the demographic transition where birth rates fall below the replacement rate.
  • It’s good to help people generate energy cleanly but making other people, who will mostly be black, have the number of babies you think is appropriate doesn’t quite count as good.

This fertility map shows all developed countries are below the replacement rate.  China’s population may already be shrinking in absolute number’s, and India’s birth rate has fallen to replacement level.  Despite jokes about quarantine babies, the pandemic will further reduce fertility.  Most countries that have high population growth due to birth-rate are in Africa:

World fertility rate map. (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Even if you halve the birth rate, all else equal, it won’t have much effect on emissions.  If the world population would be 10 billion in 2050, but you somehow cut the birthrate in half now, the world population will still be around 9 billion in 30 years.  If that reduces emissions by 11%, it’s not nearly enough.

To avoid disaster — or at least to have a good chance of avoiding disaster — we need to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and population control isn’t going to do that.  Only a rapid build-out of renewable energy will.

A massive decrease in living standards could also do that.  But I don’t think you’ll be able to convince many to go down that route.  Not when buying solar panels and a bitching electric car can do the same job.  But, by all means, don’t let me stop you if you want to try it yourself.  Just be aware that if you lower other people’s living standards that tends to increase the birth rate above what it would be otherwise.

We definitely should assist developing nations to get a decent standard of living as swiftly as possible, and we should use clean energy to do this because hunger and preventable disease are nasty.  Birthrates will then fall, but it will be because it happens in every country as living standards improve, not because people have been coerced or manipulated.

Capitalist Punishment

Jeff Gibbs says the only reason capitalist organisations are making solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars is so they can turn a profit.

He’s 100% correct.

Huge factories wouldn’t be operating day and night producing the hardware we need to smash emissions if they weren’t making money from it.  Maybe it’s a good thing that the profit motive is involved, or perhaps it’s a bad thing.  But, at this point, I don’t give a shit.

I don’t want to die.  I don’t want my children to die.  I don’t want Marie-Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye to die.  (I’ve never met her.  She could be a real dick as far as I know.  But I still don’t want her to die.)  If you stop the production of renewable energy capacity because you don’t love the smell of capitalism in the morning, the likelihood of our dying increases and I don’t appreciate that.

If Jeff Gibbs, or anyone else, can demonstrate a faster or lower-cost way to replace fossil fuels that don’t use the profit motive and works in the real world, that would be great.  I would tell everyone, “Do this, it works better.”  But I can tell you now that’s not likely to happen.  It would require an intelligence so advanced it’s capable of doing basic research, occasionally reading the abstract of a scientific paper, and sometimes pressing the buttons on a calculator.  And Gibbs’ Planet Of The Humans documentary has made it abundantly clear this sort of intellect is in short supply.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Burn It All

I can understand how people can be sick to death of big capitalist organisations.

I can imagine being involved in the green movement all your life,  believing it would lead to a future without greed and corruption.

I can see how you might end up feeling hurt and betrayed when clean energy becomes big business and delivers profits to the capitalists and bankers who mocked you for decades.

If, as clean technology marched into the mainstream, you realized – correctly – that this capitalist take over is the quickest way to end deadly climate change, then you’d have no choice other than to hold your nose and bear it.

But if you convinced yourself that using renewable energy was no better than fossil fuels, you could continue to feel both wholesome and righteous by simply attacking the clean energy industry, metaphorically blowing it all up.

And we see that, as always, the first casualty of any war is the truth.


  1. Unfortunately they’ll then die from high energy photons coming out of their speakers
  2. The warming effect of sulphur hexafluoride is estimated to be 23,900 greater than CO2 in the atmosphere.  This is why it is generally not released into the atmosphere these days, and if I knew a company was releasing it, I would raise hell over it.  (Maybe I would make a documentary about it.)
  3. A rehash of the Tainted Octopus argument against gay marriage which is, “Each time a man and a woman are married, they are touched on a higher plane of reality by one of the tentacles of God’s immense Octopus of Marriage, housed in Heaven, whose countless tentacles stretch out to embrace everyone else joined in the divine institute of Marriage. However, if gays begin to be married in America, the Octopus of Marriage will stretch down – unwittingly! – and touch its tentacle to their marriage as well… and in doing so, will be tainted by Gay.”
  4. I’d call it Gibbs free energy but only chemistry nerds would get that.
  5. Yes it’s possible to create cold fusion reactions at home in a bucket using parts from a hardware store, but no it’s not possible to power your house and car off it.
  6. I know a lot of people currently bake their own bread, but that’s only because they’ve gone crazy from Coronavirus isolation.
  7.  It’s not a documentary like Grizzly Man where the obviously mad Werner Herzog makes a program about a guy who’s even crazier, but lacks Herzog’s ability to shrug off bullet wounds like they are mosquito bites and dies when a bear eats him.  An event which makes it very clear the advice he gave about making friends with giant, flesh-eating, wild animals was not correct
  8. presumably, because he was hungry
  9. Just like in 1976 — the year all people over 45 swore to never mention.  Similar how you’ll be required to never speak of the Coronavirus.  (It’s in the terms and conditions of all the software you’ve ever used.  It’s not my fault if you didn’t read it.)
  10. Cleaning up emissions from natural gas generation may cost less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour generated from it.  Note this is extracting it directly from the air biologically.  There is no point putting expensive carbon capture equipment on a gas generator that may only be used less than 100 hours a year.
  11. They also put it in other more fuel-efficient vehicles resulting in an average passenger fleet fuel efficiency better than Australia’s. Sad!
  12. But old fashioned wood burning in fireplaces is a huge source of winter air pollution in Australian cities.
About Ronald Brakels

Joining SolarQuotes in 2015, Ronald has a knack for reading those tediously long documents put out by solar manufacturers and translating their contents into something consumers might find interesting. Master of heavily researched deep-dive blog posts, his relentless consumer advocacy has ruffled more than a few manufacturer's feathers over the years. Read Ronald's full bio.


  1. Michael Oberhardt says

    Oh gee they lost the plot…

    I guess they are just trying to make themselves feel better for driving and flying everywhere…

    And I’m speaking a someone who rides everywhere, all weather, rain hail or shine, to work, shops, etc. I can’t recall the last time I was in a car or train or bus. Maybe 2018?

  2. I’ve always found myself on the fence about Michael Moore’s films. The thing I think I dislike about them the most is that Michael is a whiner.

    However, I’ve always found some important insights in his films also, and I think this one is no exception.

    What I’m about to say should be read in the context of the fact that I have 10kW of solar on my own roof. So here goes:

    I hope this film gives those further out towards the far end of spectrum on the Left a good kick in the collective groin, because although there’s plenty to quibble about, renewables are no panacea like a growing chunk of the Left seems to think they are. Nor is the world on the edge of environmental ruin – by many measures the world (and the people in it) is in better shape than it was 100 years ago.

    I hope it dumps a big bucket of pragmatism on their heads and they wake up wiser for it.

    All energy options need to be on the table and assessed in a holistic and pragmatic manner.

    The world is rapidly progressing towards ideological extremes at the moment, and that can end very badly. Let’s all calm down, dispense with ideology and move forward in an earnest attempt to follow the science – realising fully that this is an iterative process requiring ideology-free rational thought. Because even then, working out what the truth actually *is* is very difficult most of the time.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Well said, John!

      I feel Finn & Ronald are well grounded pragmatists, and I too feel much of the anti-renewable drivel lacks any basis in reality (as Ronald has so eloquently pointed out). But, I do note many idealogues post to this site and others, without considering the reality or practicality of what they propose.

      A good dose of pragmatism is needed – science is the way forward, as it always has been – not unwanted “religious fervour”.

      Let’s put ALL options on the table, but be prepared to weed out those grandiose and “way out” concepts that fail to make the grade. Although kept fairly quiet, we’ve already seen several expensive prototype trials fall over.

      I’m actually “for” wind and PV, but only as part of a mix that may or may not include batteries, pumped hydro, maybe tidal if costs can be contained, small modular nuclear – the list goes on.

      • I actually believe this site is above thinking it’s adherents and other contributors give two hoots about a Mike Moore (American) doco which typically offers no solutions. Spend your time and space more wisely chaps!

    • Geoff Miell says

      You state:
      “Nor is the world on the edge of environmental ruin – by many measures the world (and the people in it) is in better shape than it was 100 years ago.”

      Perhaps you are (wilfully?) blind to various evidence to the contrary, John? Overwhelming scientific evidence I see indicates environmental conditions will inevitably get more hostile for humanity, but how much worse is dependent on how we behave from now on.

      Ice core data for before 1958 and direct measurements since 1958 reveal that today’s atmospheric CO2 levels far exceed any present on Earth for more than the last 800,000 years. CO2 levels ranged between 170–300 parts per million (ppm) before 1910 to earlier than 800k years ago. Since 1910, global mean CO2 levels have risen above 300 ppm, past the 400-ppm threshold in 2016 and are currently around 415 ppm.
      See: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/pdf-downloads/
      Also: https://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/ghgases/Fig1A.ext.txt

      The last time planet Earth’s atmosphere was so rich in CO2 was millions of years ago, back before early predecessors to humans were likely wielding stone tools; the world was a few degrees hotter, and sea levels were tens of metres higher.

      On 17 Nov 2018, Professor H. J. Schellnhuber CBE presented a lecture outlining two Earth climate state possibilities that humanity could experience within this century, dependent upon the global human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emission trajectory path that ensues within this decade (i.e. the 2020s). Humanity is currently on a GHG emissions path to civilisation collapse before 2100.
      See YouTube video from about time interval 0:23:23 through to 0:26:45 [Keynote Debate Can the Climate Emergency Action Plan lead to Collective Action_ (50 Years CoR)] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK2XLeGmHtE

      But the escalating risks of dangerous climate change is not our only problem. I see the very real possibility that the COVID-19 crisis has triggered a global post- ‘peak oil and gas’ supply world – we may never see a recovery of oil and gas supply back to 2019 levels.

      The COVID-19 crisis has precipitated oil demand destruction estimated by some energy analysts to be around 30–40%. The current low oil and gas prices will discourage new exploration and production developments. Many oil and gas storage facilities (including seaborne tankers with nowhere to go) are rapidly filling, and very soon, many wells will need to be capped to rapidly and drastically curtail flows – a process that’s expensive to reverse and sometimes damages them.
      See: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/business/energy-environment/crude-oil-companies-coronavirus.html

      Before the COVID-19 crisis (i.e. 2019), conventional oil and gas discoveries had fallen to their lowest levels in 70 years. Only one barrel out of every six consumed was being replaced with new resources. IMO, that’s clearly unsustainable.
      See: https://www.ogj.com/exploration-development/reserves/article/14068305/rystad-oil-and-gas-resource-replacement-ratio-lowest-in-decades

      Without new oil production developments coming online, existing conventional oil well aggregate production rates would normally decline around 4–5% per annum on average. US shale oil & gas production rates decline at much, much higher rates (i.e. 70–90% over 3 years).

      So, will super-cheap and abundant oil that is happening now quickly flip to major global oil and gas supply shortages and become unaffordable for many in a few years’ time? Perhaps this is the time to rapidly reduce our oil and gas dependency?

      Unless humanity changes behaviour real soon, I would suggest that many people that were born from 1945 through to 1965 have probably experienced in the majority (or all) of their lifetimes, the best years on offer in human history, for a very, very long time.

      There are ten existential threats that humanity needs to deal with in the next few years that will determine whether present and future generations face a safe, sustainable and prosperous future, or the prospect of collapse and even extinction.
      See: http://humansforsurvival.org/sites/default/files/CHF_Roundtable_Report_March_2020.pdf

      You also state:
      “Let’s all calm down, dispense with ideology and move forward in an earnest attempt to follow the science – realising fully that this is an iterative process requiring ideology-free rational thought.”

      John, it seems to me you aren’t following “the science” and your ideology is preventing you from seeing the overwhelming evidence.

      • You have the CO2 record completely wrong. You are relying on ice core data which is not the same as CO2 concentrations at sea level. CO2 has been at dangerously low levels recently its true. But not the levels which ice core data would indicate.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          If you are referring to glacial periods, that’s okay, but if you think CO2 levels have been dangerously low during this century or the last you probably aren’t going to have much fun commenting here.

          • So everyone is delusional here. That what you are telling me Ronald? You are matching up ice core readings with real data, sequentially on the same graph. Thats science fraud.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Actually, I wrote…

            “If you think CO2 levels have been dangerously low during this century or the last you probably aren’t going to have much fun commenting here.”

            I’m still of that opinion.

          • But you are accepting a lie, in terms of a make-believe CO2 record. I can see what you are about fella. That makes you part of the problem on a much deeper level than mere energy production problems.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Accurate, direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentration have been taken since the late 50s. If you want to convince me that these are not accurate and/or they don’t indicate CO2 concentration has increase 30% since 1960 you are welcome to try, but I think you would be better of spending your time watching the Goodies or perhaps Wayne and Shuster — Canadians can be pretty funny at times.

        • Graeme Bird,
          You state:
          “You are relying on ice core data which is not the same as CO2 concentrations at sea level.”

          Are you an atmospheric scientist? I don’t see you providing any evidence to back up your statement.

          Here’s what the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, that runs the Mauna Loa Observatory that has been measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations directly, consistently, and at high data resolution since March 1958 to present day, has to say on the subject:

          “On the ice core question, it turns out that the ice core reconstructions overlap with the first couple decades of the South Pole record of atmospheric CO2 made by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientists, and the overlap shows very good agreement. Also, ice core records recovered from different locations in Antarctica agree quite well with each other. Both of these facts demonstrate that the ice cores are recording atmospheric composition quite faithfully.”
          See: https://sioweb.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2014/03/20/how-are-ice-core-data-and-mauna-loa-atmospheric-data-made-comparable/

          Atmospheric CO2 concentration is expressed as parts per million, which is a RATIO of the number of CO2 molecules compared with an overall number of all molecules/atoms within a gas volume of atmosphere.

          Atmospheric air pressure is a proxy for how many gas molecules/atoms there are within a given fixed gas volume. At sea level, the atmospheric pressure is higher, where there are more gas molecules/atoms for a given volume (say per cubic metre) bumping about, compared with higher altitudes, where there are less molecules/atoms (per cubic metre) bumping about, and therefore lower pressure.

          Graeme, you are confusing atmospheric pressure with atmospheric CO2 concentration – they are very different things.

          The Hawaiian Mauna Loa Observatory is located at an elevation of 3,397 m above sea level. The Antarctic Dome C location that provided ice core data for 800,000 years has an elevation at 3,233 m. The Antarctic Vostok location that provided ice core data for 400,000 years has an elevation at 3,488 m. So the Mauna Loa Observatory is at a similar elevation (within 170 m) to the Antarctic Dome C and Vostok sites.

          The animation “Carbon Dioxide Pumphandle 2019” shown below indicates global CO2 gas concentrations are mixed uniformly, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, from direct measurements at multiple sites that are at various latitudes and elevations over time.

          The history of atmospheric CO2, from 800,000 years ago until January 2019 is seen in this animation. The animation starts at the beginning of 1979 showing actual CO2 measurements at multiple measuring points around the globe, progressing to January 2019, then adding in the Keeling direct CO2 measurement data back to 1958, then the ice core data back to 800k BCE.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Hi Geoffrey

            I’m not arguing the fact that CO2 levels are increasing due to human impacts here – but I do have a question you may be able to answer.
            From 1950 to the present, the World’s population has increased by about 300% (2.5-7.8 bilion). At the same time, the world has increased it’s consumption of energy, and probably also of agriculture, disproportionately (we have a considerably better standard of living now, than back in the 50’s).
            Yet, CO2 levels have increased by only about 15% (330-380 ppm) over the same period (the depressed zero tends to disguise this). And, this has been almost linear, not exponential as per population growth rates.
            So – are we saying we are simply in the process of “filling up the reservoir” – and if so, why is the rate of growth of CO2 not more clearly exponential?
            I’m obviously missing something…

          • Ian Thompson,
            You state:
            “From 1950 to the present, the World’s population has increased by about 300% (2.5-7.8 bilion). … Yet, CO2 levels have increased by only about 15% (330-380 ppm) over the same period (the depressed zero tends to disguise this).”

            Where did you get your CO2 figures from, Ian? You have the CO2 range wrong.

            Per data derived from ice core proxy data, global mean CO2 mixing ratios:
            1950 _ _ _ 311.3 ppm (NOT 330 ppm as you state)
            See: https://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/ghgases/Fig1A.ext.txt

            Per Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) Mauna Loa Observatory direct measurements, global mean CO2 mixing ratios for given year:
            1960 _ _ _ 317.07 ppm
            1970 _ _ _ 325.54 ppm
            1980 _ _ _ 338.99 ppm
            1990 _ _ _ 354.29 ppm
            2000 _ _ _ 369.64 ppm
            2010 _ _ _ 389.21 ppm

            This year (2020) SIO Mauna Loa Observatory readings appear to be in the range from about 410 ppm in Jan to a peak of 417.91 ppm on Apr 9. Latest reading is at 411.28 ppm.
            See: https://sioweb.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/mlo_one_year.png

            So CO2 levels have risen from 311.3 ppm in 1950 (NOT as you say 330 ppm) to over 410 ppm in 2020, exceeding 417 ppm (NOT as you say 380 ppm). That’s a 32% rise over 70 years (NOT as you say 15%).

            Apart from getting some facts seriously wrong, what’s your point, Ian?

            My point is the last time planet Earth’s atmosphere was so rich in CO2 was millions of years ago, before modern humans existed.

            If CO2 levels continue to increase much further global mean temperatures will overshoot 2°C above pre-industrial age (later this century) and human civilisation is headed for collapse.
            See my earlier comment above: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/planet-of-humans-review/#comment-691161

            You state:
            “I’m obviously missing something…”

            Yep. I think you are still engaging in wilful ignorance. I think you are still engaging in climate science denial.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Well, Geoffrey – you really haven’t answered my question.
            As far as data – I simply read off the axes of the “pumphandle” graph you included with your previous post – having noticed this was near-LINEAR.
            Was this post incorrect – or are you “cherry-picking” worst case again, rather than taking approximate average figure as I did. Or is the example you provided iincorrect?
            My question remains unanswered – why are the records not showing an EXPONENTIAL increase – as we would expect for a heavy human related cause?
            Nothing about denial – just a question for a self-proclaimed expert in these matters.

          • Ian Thompson,
            You state:
            “As far as data – I simply read off the axes of the “pumphandle” graph you included with your previous post – having noticed this was near-LINEAR.”

            You need your eyes checked, Ian, or is it deliberate misreading? Run the “Pumphandle” animation and stop it at time interval 1:34, just before the orange ice core data is added. The green wiggle (which represents the Keeling data from the Mauna Loa Observatory) on the right-hand graph starts at 1958 and is showing below 320 ppm. The end of the red wiggle (which represents SIO Mauna Loa Observatory data from 1979) ends at Jan 2019 is at 411 ppm. I think that’s consistent with the data in the table referred to in my comment above.

            How you could get any where near an accurate mean reading from looking at the animation of the orange ice core data is beyond me – that’s why I went off the tabled data referred in my comment above. You could have easily looked for similar info in seconds on the internet, but clearly didn’t.

            You then ask:
            “My question remains unanswered – why are the records not showing an EXPONENTIAL increase – as we would expect for a heavy human related cause?”

            If you pause the “Panhandle” animation at time interval 1:35 you can clearly see an exponential rise from 1750 through to today.
            Even from 1958 through to today it’s clearly not linear.

            From NASA:

            “…scientists know the increases in carbon dioxide are caused primarily by human activities because carbon produced by burning fossil fuels has a different ratio of heavy-to-light carbon atoms, so it leaves a distinct “fingerprint” that instruments can measure. A relative decline in the amount of heavy carbon-13 isotopes in the atmosphere points to fossil fuel sources. Burning fossil fuels also depletes oxygen and lowers the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen in the atmosphere.”
            See: https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2915/the-atmosphere-getting-a-handle-on-carbon-dioxide/#:~:text=Crisp%20points%20out%20that%20scientists,fingerprint%E2%80%9D%20that%20instruments%20can%20measure.

            I take your question to be an attempt to downplay an existential risk and a distraction from the real and urgent issue: Humanity needs to stop burning carbon quickly.

  3. I have watched enough youtube to see scores of channels of people denying covid-19 even exists at to prove to me that natural selection has been abandoned by mother nature.

    Another one of those ‘special’ investigators, just from the other side of politics. Not really ying and yang but more bill and ben…..

  4. Thank you, Ronald. It needs a damned good writer to come up with a very entertaining read that completely dismisses this deceiving and tedious (on an epic scale) documentary without being tedious oneself. We should force feed your article to all the simple minded believers that are taking this bundle of sugar coated lies for real.The comments on YouTube suggest that there are many.

  5. Lawrence Coomber says

    Ron you are certainly correct in saying-

    ‘In real life, you don’t want to ditch the good in favour of the perfect.’

    Reduction; insignificant, and permanently, are the key thrusts of your thinking here Ron.

    Applying this same logic to climate change issues, as you have and more specifically to Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions – a summation might read:-

    “reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to insignificant levels permanently”

    There are a lot of other factors that can’t be excluded from any discussion about GHG, but this snippet above is in sync with your logic Ron.

    Try a Google search of the complete snippet (including the inverted commas); there is something out there in the ether to mull over for sure; including comments in past Solar Quotes blog posts.

    Lawrence Coomber

  6. “…the United States is not a normal country…”

    You said it… .

    At 95 kgs, Moore might extend his longevity if he rode a bicycle.
    He’s around 15 kgs overweight… .

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I was going to leave my glass house to throw some stones, but I became winded bending over to pick one up…

  7. I posted a link to your review on The Conversation; hope that’s ok.

    You might like to watch Michael Moore’s reply to his critics of his environmental film.




    Fair amount of push back from both right & left ?

  9. Lex Edmonds says

    I agree with Tony that Ron’s article is a well-argued debunking of the documentary. One example I found of Jeff Gibbs’ lack of research was in his big attack on Bill McKibben for supporting biofuels (i.e. burning wood to generate electricity). However, Bill admitted that he was wrong about this several years ago, and I found one article written in 2016 where he admitted that doing this was a very bad idea. So in this case Jeff was going with totally out of date information — similar to the 8% efficient solar panels I guess.

  10. Duncan McKillop says

    I found this article almost as long and almost as difficult to read as watching the documentary. They both make us suffer from the same negativity that they both complain about. Not one of your better articles

  11. I like MM’s reply in the interview link, he does not ever say do not try to go green by cutting out coal, He merely points out in the film some of the disastrous results of our attempts so far like woodchip burning, wasted agricultural land with corn to fuel, deforestation for same plus solar farms and windmills instead of ramping up rooftop solar.
    We are at the beginning of the journey to replace coal and some seem hell-bent on stopping the only quick answer we have so far in nuclear which is still not perfect but better in my opinion than the above.
    Also, fewer people and less continuous ad bombardment must equate to less demand for widgets we did not know we needed, But that would stop our continual expansion business model which has so far increased co2 from 350 ppm when things started to get desperate to over 400 in spite of all attempts so far and we are the poorer, having lost countless trees and habitat on the highly profitable journey for some.
    I think your spiteful critique of the film does you a disservice.

    • Geoff Miell says

      You state:
      “…some seem hell-bent on stopping the only quick answer we have so far in nuclear which is still not perfect but better in my opinion than the above.”

      Taishan-1, in China, is an EPR-1750 type nuclear reactor, that began construction on 18 Nov 2009 and commercial operation began on 13 Dec 2018. Does >9 years seem “quick” to you, Eddy? I don’t think so.
      See: https://www.world-nuclear.org/reactor/default.aspx/TAISHAN-1

      Flamanville-3, in France, is another EPR type nuclear reactor, that began construction on 3 Dec 2007, but it is still not operational. Does >12 years (and counting) seem “quick” to you Eddy? I don’t think so.
      See: https://www.world-nuclear.org/reactor/default.aspx/FLAMANVILLE-3
      Also: https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Decree-delays-deadline-for-start-up-of-Flamanville

      Olkiluoto-3, in Finland, is another EPR type nuclear reactor, that began construction on 12 Aug 2005, but is still not operational. Does >14 years (and counting) seem “quick” to you Eddy? I don’t think so.
      See: http://www.world-nuclear.org/reactor/default.aspx/OLKILUOTO-3
      Also: https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Olkiluoto-faces-further-delay-to-July-2020

      Vogtle-3, in USA, is an AP-1000 type nuclear reactor, that began construction on 13 Mar 2013, and it seems that operation by Nov 2021 would be a “challenge”, with massive cost overruns. Does >8.5 years seem “quick” to you, Eddy? I don’t think so.
      See: https://www.world-nuclear.org/reactor/default.aspx/VOGTLE-3
      Also: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/georgia-utility-regulator-more-delays-likely-for-vogtle-nuclear-plant

      Evidence I see indicates nuclear fission power:
      1. Takes far, far too long to build – renewables are much, much quicker to deploy;
      2. Costs far, far too much – renewables (including storage) are much, much cheaper;
      3. Relies on finite fuels (uranium-235, plutonium-239 derived/transmuted from uranium-238, and potentially uranium-233 derived/transmuted from thorium-232);
      4. Has a toxic waste problem that will long outlast any energy benefits gained.
      See my Submission (#215) at: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2542#tab-submissions

      What nuclear solutions do you have in mind that have actually demonstrated at large-scale anywhere in the world that’s “quick” to deploy, Eddy? I don’t see any – many promises & lots of talk by proponents but nothing actually demonstrable.

      • Paul Lafreniere says

        With all due respect, Michael Moore’ s new documentary “Planet of the Humans”, provides a different reading. You may want to consider a more nuanced position. Facts? Please compare the carbon intensity of Germany and Denmark with that of France, Sweden and closer to home, Ontario. Nuclear power is the only proven solution that HAS ALREADY scaled to power human flourishing while improving the environmental footprint. Comparison of current electricity costs, shows only the nuclear option does not result in exhorbitant unit costs and increased energy poverty among the poor. To single out current US nuclear plant construction costs ( as well as other prototypes), is a strawman. It falls apart under closer comparison with the 50 plus reactors under construction worldwide. Provide a level playing field for all energy options and let them compete.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Paul Lafreniere,
          You state:
          “Comparison of current electricity costs, shows only the nuclear option does not result in exhorbitant [sic] unit costs and increased energy poverty among the poor.”

          Perhaps you are (wilfully?) blind to various publicly available and credible evidence to the contrary, Paul?

          Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – version 13.0 (2019) indicates UNSUBSIDIZED costs for:
          Solar PV – Thin Film Utility Scale: _ US$32 – 42/MWh
          Wind (on-shore): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ US$28 – 54/MWh
          Wind (off-shore): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ US$89/MWh (midpoint)

          Gas peaking: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ US$159 – 199/MWh (gas price US$3.45/MMBTU)
          Nuclear: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _US$118 – 192/MWh (excludes decommissioning costs)
          Coal: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ US$66 – 152/MWh (excludes decommissioning costs)
          Gas Combined Cycle: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ US$44 – 68/MWh (gas price US$3.45/MMBTU)
          See: https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019
          Also see: https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/stakeholder_consultation/consultations/nem-consultations/2019/2020-inputs-and-assumptions/prelimresultswebinar_final.pdf?la=en

          Nuclear is more than two to three times the cost of renewables, without including the astronomical costs of decommissioning nuclear plants. Or are you suggesting Lazard and AEMO/CSIRO are wrong, Paul? What credible evidence do you have to support your claim that “only the nuclear option does not result in exhorbitant [sic] unit costs”? The overwhelming evidence I see indicates the nuclear option is exorbitant/unaffordable and untimely for climate change mitigation.

          Per Professor Blakers, firming/balancing costs (for Australia) adds up to another AU$25/MWh for 100% renewables. See YouTube video at about time interval 24:00 [2017 CURF Annual Forum – Andrew Blakers keynote]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1IC6TiNDRc

          You also state:
          “To single out current US nuclear plant construction costs ( as well as other prototypes), is a strawman.”

          What “strawman”, Paul? I’ve provided four actual examples of the current technologies being built or just completed – how many have you provided, Paul? None, so far. What examples can you nominate to support your unsubstantiated assertions, Paul? What reactors of similar generating capacities can you nominate that have demonstrated within the last decade that they have actually been built significantly faster and cheaper compared with the examples I’ve provided, Paul? Do you have any, or are your assertions hollow, Paul?

          You finish with:
          “It falls apart under closer comparison with the 50 plus reactors under construction worldwide. Provide a level playing field for all energy options and let them compete.”

          Nuclear fission energy cannot and has NEVER competed without substantial subsidies – it’s never operated on “a level playing field”. In most countries, like USA, Russia (and former USSR satellites), UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel and South Africa, the primary reason for supporting a “civilian” nuclear power industry is to gain possession of technology for providing fissile materials and a cadre of skilled people to facilitate the acquisition and/or maintenance of nuclear weapons, and for some, ongoing operations of military vessels like nuclear-powered submarines, and aircraft-carriers, etc.
          See: https://doi.org/10.18723/diw_dwr:2019-30-1

          Uranium and thorium are finite energy resources. The known global high-grade uranium ore reserves at current rate of consumption will be depleted within this century. Thorium lacks a fissionable isotope – it’s impossible to start a fission chain reaction solely on mined thorium. The thorium fuel cycle is immature, not yet self-sustaining and decades away from being so, if ever. Fissile Pu-239 is not naturally occurring and must be produced by transmutation of naturally occurring fertile U-238 in particular types of nuclear reactors. An aggressive expansion of nuclear fission energy cannot be supported because there’re inadequate fissile fuel supplies available to sustain it. Nuclear reactors simply won’t work without adequate fuel. Nuclear fission technologies are not long-term sustainable.
          See Figure 113 at: http://energywatchgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/EWG-update2013_long_18_03_2013up1.pdf
          Also: https://www.oecd.org/publications/introduction-of-thorium-in-the-nuclear-fuel-cycle-9789264241732-en.htm

          These are the inconvenient truths that nuclear proponents refuse to accept.

          In this age of information, ignorance is a choice. Paul, please don’t be like these people: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/photos/head-in-the-sand-people?mediatype=photography&phrase=head%20in%20the%20sand%20people&sort=mostpopular

          • Paul Lafreniere says

            Thank-you Geoff for taking the time. You make valid points but I feel you are missing the essential points of Moore’s documentary that seem obvious to the “common” folk. The film points out:
            1. Renewables have not delivered “at scale” in 30 years.
            1. A trillion $ + hasn’t even made a dent in global CO2 emissions. It is getting worse.
            2. Renewables have imposed significant environmental and cost premiums at the macro level. Germany and Denmark have the most expensive electricity in Europe.
            3. Countries that have pushed the green agenda hard, are now facing a formidable grass roots resistance. NIMBY will impede further build-out. How many wind turbines are going up in Germany this year?
            4. At the end of the day renewables cannot scale without imposing a 100% + cost penalty and onerous land grab 100× conventional sources.
            5. The intermittent nature of new renewables is a showstopper to scaling at the Terrawatt level. As for storage, the French have a saying: ” La fuite en avant n’est pas une solution”.
            Regarding your comments on the nuclear option, I would like to have a more in-depth discussion in the near future. However I pointed out that we should all welcome competition. I owe it to my grandson.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Paul Lafreniere,
            You state:
            “…I feel you are missing the essential points of Moore’s documentary that seem obvious to the “common” folk.”

            It seems to me you accept Moore’s documentary as is without checking/researching the points you apparently regurgitate from it. Perhaps your ideology is getting in the way of checking details? I’ll tackle some of the points you’ve raised:

            1. “Renewables have not delivered “at scale” in 30 years.” – Perhaps because renewables (excluding hydro) have started from a very small base?
            See: https://ourworldindata.org/renewable-energy

            But wind and solar are starting to grow rapidly – see: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/6/18/18681591/renewable-energy-china-solar-pv-jobs

            2. “A trillion $ + hasn’t even made a dent in global CO2 emissions. It is getting worse.” – Perhaps because fossil fuel and nuclear industries have received the lion’s share of investments and of subsidies for a long, long time? IMF estimated that in 2017, global fossil fuel subsidies grew to $5.2 trillion, representing 6.5% of combined global GDP. That’s perhaps why CO2 emissions are getting worse.
            See: https://reneweconomy.com.au/global-fossil-fuel-subsidies-reach-5-2-trillion-and-29-billion-in-australia-91592/

            3. “At the end of the day renewables cannot scale without imposing a 100% + cost penalty and onerous land grab 100× conventional sources.” – Just think about that statement for a moment, Paul – if that statement were true then I’d suggest humanity’s future is grave – energy starved on an increasingly uninhabitable planet – what’s the alternative affordable, rapid deployment, abundant solution in the limited timeframe? Nuclear? – see my earlier comments above.

            Fortunately, there are studies that that indicate that renewables are doable in the required timeframe and are the cheapest way to transition to a low-carbon emissions future. For your grandson’s sake, I’d suggest you better hope studies like the example I’ve given below (there are also others) are correct (or close enough to the mark). What alternatives are there for your grandson’s future, Paul? Any suggestions?
            See this one as an example: http://energywatchgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/EWG_LUT_100RE_All_Sectors_Global_Report_2019.pdf

            The clock’s ticking and time is running out for emergency action to rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions.
            See my earlier comment: https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/planet-of-humans-review/#comment-691161

          • Thanks for the article but i want to call out what i see as a massive flaw when talking about and directly comparing costs to produce a MW by the various different technologies.

            You cant compare a MWh from an intermittent source as equivalent to one that has a constant output and particularly not when comparing the costs.

            A 1 GW solar plant can not deliver the same outcome as a 1GW coal or nuclear plant. Even if they produced the same energy output (which they dont) you in fact need additional technologies, like batteries, or pumped hydro (or the very technologies you are trying to displace) each delivering system losses, to achieve the same outcome when looking at Solar and wind.

            To put it another way – remove all the generation capacity of coal from the grid – call it 15GW – now replace it with Solar and Wind such that you deliver the same system outcomes (key word) -that is on demand, dispatchable, 24x7x365 – Its not a 15GW system.

            Now also include the upgrade to transmission systems, distribution systems that is also needed to deal with intermittent, semi controlled dispatchable sources and include that in the costs.

            Now how do the costs compare?

      • Seppo Sipilä says

        Dear Geoff, the argument that nuclear power “takes far too long to build” is an exaggeration. 3 out of 4 of your examples represent a new reactor design from a new consortium with all the related teething problems in construction logistics.

        Take a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors and check especially China, Japan and South Korea that have been building new power reactors in the 2000s and 2010s. For many of these (at a quick glance around 40), the time from construction start to commercial operation has been 5-6 years. That’s what can be expected with an experienced construction organization.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Seppo Sipilä,
          Thank you for the link. You state:
          “…check especially China, Japan and South Korea that have been building new power reactors in the 2000s and 2010s.”

          From your link:
          For China (I’ll pick some examples):
          Fangchenggang-1: CPR-1000 type, construction began 30 July 2010, commercial operation began 25 October 2015, time taken >5 years (1913 days);
          Fangchenggang-2: CPR-1000 type, construction began 23 December 2010, commercial operation began 15 July 2016, time taken >5.5 years (2031 days);
          Haiyang-1: AP-1000 type, construction began 24 September 2009, commercial operation began 23 October 2018, time taken >9 years (3316 days);
          Haiyang-2: AP-1000 type, construction began 20 June 2010, commercial operation began 9 January 2019, time taken >8.5 years (3125 days).

          China’s CPR-1000 type is a Gen II+ design, based on the French 900 MWe three cooling loop design (M310) imported in the 1980s, improved to have a slightly increased net power output of 1,000 MWe (1080 MWe gross) and a 60-year design life. Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a revised design called at the time ACPR-1000+ was described.
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPR-1000

          The AP-1000 type is the first of the Gen III+ design. The AP1000 design is considerably more compact in land usage than most existing PWRs, and uses under a fifth of the concrete and rebar reinforcing of older designs.
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000

          So, it seems to me the Chinese CPR-1000 design is based on decades old French technology, compared with the newer AP-1000 design.

          As for Japan:
          Ōma-1: ABWR type, construction began 7 May 2010, still not operational, time taken so far is almost 10 years (3652 days)
          Tomari-3: ABWR type, construction began 18 November 2004, began operation 22 December 2009, time taken >5 years (1860 days), but operations are currently suspended, under review. Why?
          I think Japan is not a good example to support your argument.

          As for South Korea:
          Shin-Hanul-1: APR-1400 type, began construction 10 July 2012, still not operational, time taken so far >7.5 years (2857 days and counting).
          Shin-Wolseong-2: OPR-1000 type, began construction 23 September 2008, began operation 26 February 2015, time taken >6 years (2347 days)

          The APR-1400 type is a Gen III design by KEPCO. The OPR-1000 is a South Korean designed two-loop 1000 MWe PWR Gen II nuclear reactor, developed by KHNP and KEPCO.

          Seppo, I don’t think you are comparing apples with apples.

          What risk would you accept Seppo – faster (i.e. 5-6+ years) build time for Gen II type reactors but greater risk of catastrophe, or slower build time (i.e. >8.5 years) with Gen III & III+ (and much more expensive, based on USA experience with Vogtle-3 AP-1000) but allegedly lower risk? And why would you want to pay more than double to triple the cost for electricity from nuclear (excluding decommissioning costs) compared with renewables?

          • Seppo Sipilä says

            In Japan, the nuclear energy industry has been practically halted by political decision. This has nothing to do with the Japanese technical and organizational know-how on building NPPs. So, looking at reactors completed in the 2000s and 2010s:

            For both main types (PWR and BWR), on the basis of mandatory probabilistic risk and safety analysis (PRA/PSA) introduced in the 1980s, the instrumentation, control mechanisms, safety systems as well as operational and safety practices have evolved tremendously in the last decades, and these improvements are routinely applied in old designs too, either directly at construction (as in the case of the Chinese CPR-1000s) or afterwards (e.g. Loviisa 1 & 2 in Finland – 1970s gen II VVER-440/213s originally constructed with western containments and instrumentation, and later retrofitted with practically all modern safety features, bringing their probabilistic risk of core damage closer to gen III plants than basic gen II plants.

            And there is really nothing wrong with decades-old gen II designs which have proven themselves – the heavy metal is practically the same between gen II and gen III PWRs. Basic gen II designs are not intrinsically unsafe either: even for them the probabilistic risk of core damage is required to be less than one incident per 10.000 years of operation.

            Gen II NPPs being built and operated today are a bit like airliners such as the 747 – airframe designed in the 1960s, great service record, still in production, just tremendously updated and improved on the inside.

            As for BWRs, the ABWR is a gen III design. Four units were completed in Japan in the 1990s and 2000s in no more than 4-5 years each (search for ABWR in the wikipedia list). This demonstrates that gen III NPPs need not be any slower to construct than older designs.

            Nuclear power being 2-3 times as expensive as renewable power is another exaggeration. There is a thorough article on this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source .

            I don’t think there’s room for shunning any low-GHG or GHG-free energy source on the basis of price anyway, if we really want to do something about the climate change. Renewables alone are not going to be anywhere near enough to break the world’s coal habit, and neither is nuclear power alone.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Seppo Sipilä,
            You state:
            “Renewables alone are not going to be anywhere near enough to break the world’s coal habit, and neither is nuclear power alone.”

            Reportedly published on May 5 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a paper titled “Future of the human climate niche”. The paper finds that as many as 3.5 billion people will be exposed to “near-unliveable” temperatures averaging 29 degrees through the year by 2070. Less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s surface now endures such heat.
            See: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/04/28/1910114117

            My point is that the clock is ticking. Humanity MUST rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions: >50% reduction by 2030; and to net-zero by 2050. If we don’t, then we risk civilisation collapse in the second half of this century.

            Can you please explain to me how nuclear can assist to rapidly reduce GHG emissions when it demonstrably takes more than 5 years (for Gen II reactors by experienced countries) just to construct them (excluding the time to plan and procure)? Gen III reactors take more than 8.5 years (for experienced countries). How long do you think it will take for inexperienced countries to get reactors up and running? I’d suggest more than a decade, probably at least 15 years. All too late to contribute to rapidly reducing GHG emissions.

            Then there’s the fuel supply situation. Where’s the long-term fissile nuclear fuel supply coming from? As I indicated above, the known high-grade uranium reserves (costing up to $260/kg U) at CURRENT rate of consumption (let alone supporting an aggressive expansion) will be depleted within this century. The thorium fuel cycle is immature, not yet self-sustaining, and decades away, if ever. There are suggestions uranium could be extracted from seawater, but there is no technology available now that has demonstrated that it can be done at large-scale, and the fuel would be significantly more expensive – some speculate it could cost $470 to $860/kg U for off-shore processing at 1200 tonnes U per year. That’s if it works – so we would be relying on a technology that doesn’t yet exist at large-scale.
            See: https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/48/039/48039446.pdf

            Then, what do you do with the toxic waste?

            More nuclear material increases the risk of weapons proliferation. Why increase the risks? So, do you exclude some countries from going nuclear – what do they then do for energy?

            You state:
            “Gen II NPPs being built and operated today are a bit like airliners such as the 747 – airframe designed in the 1960s, great service record, still in production, just tremendously updated and improved on the inside.”

            Two words: Chernobyl, Fukushima. Can we afford to have more catastrophic failures like these? The more reactors there are, the more likely it will happen again. Why do you think the nuclear industry is progressing to Gen III and III+? I’d suggest to reduce the risk of that happening again, but it appears to cost much more to build and takes significantly longer post-Fukushima (in China, USA, France, Finland, Japan – experienced countries). IMO, there’s clear evidence of increasing delays that are not helpful to get GHG emissions rapidly down now.

            You also state:
            “Nuclear power being 2-3 times as expensive as renewable power is another exaggeration.”

            So, it seems to me you are dismissing detailed economic studies by Lazard, CSIRO/AEMO, and others. Actually, Wikipedia refers to at least Lazard, & BNEF, and it seems there are sections that need to be updated. Did you actually look, Seppo?

            Nuclear is getting hammered by renewables.
            See: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-04/nuclear-is-getting-hammered-by-green-power-and-the-pandemic

            So, why keep ignoring the overwhelming evidence, Seppo? Why persist with the fantasy that nuclear can rapidly reduce our GHG emissions in the required timeframe?

        • Finn Peacock says

          Terve Seppo,

          Olen samaa mieltä kanssasi.


  12. ARTHUR PALMER says


    Michael Moore, filmmakers respond to criticism of new environmental film

  13. Lawrence Coomber says

    Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore need a short break. They have lost his way forward, and their contributions are no more than a continuing distraction from the real issue “the global energy imperative”.

    We are all fully aware by now that globally a sense of urgency has entered discussions regarding the technological imperatives that must be met to massively electrify and industrialize developing nations to modern standards in all ways and means, as well as transition away from fossil fuel generation to a primary non-polluting generation technology that will reduce global GHG emissions to insignificant levels.

    Nothing less will cut it; and Gibbs, Moore, and many others trivialising this key point with a miniscule local vision is all about scientific capitulation rather than useful globally focussed modern age commentary.

    This is the critical challenge (despite many commentators interests elsewhere) , and the clock is ticking before runaway GHG effects will become impossible to mitigate with devastating consequences, including the disintegration of global social structures, that will increasingly and through sheer necessity, become the disruptive global society norm.

    With emissions rising and the realisation that without drastic action, the world is on a track to precipitate a runaway climate change situation by the end of the century; recognition is growing of the need for a new level of ambition in current efforts to decarbonise and transform the global energy system.

    The incumbent primary global fossil fuel (coal) generation technology, as a major contributor to the urgent climate change issues unfolding, has a diminishing future to one of minor significance within 40 years as a future global generation technology.

    Decarbonisation of the industrial, heating, transportation, as well as the development of zero emissions power generation, will be the whole focus of the new frontier age of power generation science this next 50 years.

    The global renewables technology development sector (across the board) remains fragmented and lacks any capacity at all for sustained long-term investment and development on a global scale, to massively electrify and industrialize developing nations as well as satisfy the permanent ongoing redevelopment imperatives of developed nations. The global renewables sector is effectively dead in the water and firmly tracking on the obsolescence pathway; and will most certainly diminish rapidly to be of minor (and boutique circumstances only) significance by 2050 at most.

    The world’s best and brightest physicists, scientist’s, researchers and engineers are well aware of the numbers and the inexorable scientific pathway forward. NANS technology (new age nuclear solutions) being at the apex of power generation science, is the only practical form of power generation technology that has the exploitable attributes that can satisfy the global energy imperative going forward in perpetuity.

    Remain mindful scientists and commentators, that there are 7 billion people on earth today, and by 2045 that number will read 11 billion.

    A recap on the key technological attributes of the “global energy imperative” that are essential moving global energy generation science forward (in broad terms) are:-

    1. Must be an energy dense technology at the apex of the energy science pyramid, and be able to deliver massive, safe, clean and low-cost energy;

    2. Replace all other forms of inefficient and polluting energy generation sources globally, and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to insignificant levels permanently;

    3. Be modular and scalable and easily deployed cost effectively to power new age energy intensive technologies, industries and businesses everywhere;

    4. Be available through modular design to cost effectively benefit all people, villages, broader communities, states and nations throughout the world – effectively and decisively.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • “Going forward in perpetuity”? You must be dreaming!

    • Way to go, get your article slamming the only decent truthful info we’ve seen in years at the top of Google home page. Start it off with how droning the film is so people will avoid watching it, cos god forbid people are informed with the truth and start to see through the illusions.
      This was a great film, well worth watching. Full of what ‘they’ don’t want you to know.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Lawrence Coomber,
      I seem to recall you’ve made similar statements before in other threads on this blog. Your latest comment includes:
      “NANS technology (new age nuclear solutions) being at the apex of power generation science, is the only practical form of power generation technology that has the exploitable attributes that can satisfy the global energy imperative going forward in perpetuity.”

      Posted today at AFR is an article by Lars Paulsson and Rachel Morlson headlined “Nuclear is getting hammered by green power and the pandemic”.

      I’d agree with Tim Buckley’s comments – the AFR headline says it all.
      See: https://twitter.com/TimBuckleyIEEFA/status/1257476724008251392

      Lawrence, why do you persist with such fantasy?

      • Randall Mathews says
        • Ronald Brakels says

          I’m not very impressed. There are countries with CO2 emissions per capita that are one-third of ours with high standards of living. Switzerland’s emissions are 28% of ours per capita while being about 50% richer per capita in nominal terms. Clearly high CO2 emissions are not a requirement for modernity or to live a luxurious life. If the author goes back and corrects that part of the article I’ll read the rest.

          • Ian Thompson says

            With respect Ronald, I agree that higher power and energy utilization near-inevitably equates to a higher standard of living https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421511001042, but using Switzerland I think you’ve provided a somewhat poor example for Australia to follow (depending on your point of view). We recently travelled there, and marvelled at the impressive mountains and rivers, snow-melt, etc. Clearly they have much better options for hydro-power than we do – and this accounts for more than HALF of their electricity demand https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Switzerland#Nuclear_power.
            They also use pumped hydro from base-load stations and “green-washing nuclear power from France”, whatever that means.
            In 2013 they sourced 36.4% of their electricity from their own Nuclear plants, although I note they have shut down one plant, and plan to decommission their Beznau plant reactors (one the oldest commercial reactor in the world) around 2030.
            Hydro & Nuclear therefore account for over 86% of their energy source – and they import nuclear from France.
            Wind power (subsidised) provided 0.1% of their electricity in 2013.
            Solar (subsidised) is now (after a slow start) estimated to provide up to 2% of their domestic needs.
            Hardly a template that Australia could or would follow?

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Well, yes, Australia is in a far better situation to go carbon neutral than Switzerland, but the Swiss are a good example of what can be done even when geography has dealt you a bad hand.

        • Geoff Miell says

          Randall Mathews,
          Thanks for your link.

          Paul Fenn states in his review in the last paragraph:
          “Environmentalists and lawmakers need to learn to get real about carbon reduction if we are to meet the urgent 2030 deadline recently set by the United Nations. We need to get out of startup mode and into endgame mode, that means a radical physical transformation in three years, not ten, to even come anywhere close to reaching the UN targets by 2030.”

          IMO, humanity needs to “get real”. This is the ‘last chance’ critical decade for rapid effective action to preserve human civilisation as we know it. If human-induced GHG emissions cannot be rapidly reduced – i.e. >50% reduction (relative to pre-COVID-19 levels) by 2030 – then it’s likely game over for human civilisation in the second half of this century. That’s the overwhelming scientific evidence I see. Beyond 2030, GHG emissions need to continue to keep coming down to net-zero by 2050 (or sooner). The 2050 target becomes irrelevant if the 2030 target is not met – nothing less than deep reductions are REQUIRED within this decade.

          That suggests the use of fossil fuels in the electricity generation sector and for low temperature heat must cease worldwide before 2030. Other sectors also need to reduce some of their emissions within the same timeframe.
          See: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

          Humanity has already failed, as planet Earth’s climate will inevitably get more hostile for human civilisation as global warming passes the 1.5°C temperature rise threshold, probably as early as 2030, and probably reach at least 1.8°C a decade or two later due to GHGs already in the atmosphere. The question remains: How much further do we wish to fail? 2.5°C rise? 3.0°C rise, or more?
          See the figure headlined “1.5°C likely to be reached around 2030” at: http://www.climatecodered.org/2020/02/a-climate-reality-update-at-2020.html

          The fossil fuel vested interests would have you believe differently, but it seems to me they have been lying to us for decades and decades.
          Hear podcast: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rn-presents/spin-cycle/12181028

    • Ian Thompson says

      Oops Geoffrey – it looks like you’ve maybe been caught in a lie – or at least blindsided by your very own myopia.
      You have clearly “cherry picked” the mostly newly developing nuclear reactor examples to make your case for “too long” – and this is dishonest.
      Do you really believe the professionals dealing with budget extensions don’t understand the “fallacy of sunk costs” concept – i.e. that further expenditure is related to the remaining risk & benefit, not to the amount already expended?
      On that point – do you not realise that it has taken us 20 years (of similarly risky development, RIT) for Australia to reach merely about 15 GW of PV total installed capacity – and that this relates to a steady generation equivalent of only about 3 GW, or less (PV generates most only for a few hours around the middle of the day, none between sunset and sunrise, and little during overcast).
      In other words, 20 years to get to the equivalent of only 1 decent sized nuclear plant, but without the necessary continuity of output, and therefore usefulness.
      Then you point out to Lawrence that renewables regularly reach “oversupply”, and that Covid-19 has hammered nuclear. I really don’t believe you are so stupid not to understand that intermittent oversupply is the very essence of the difficulties associated with PV & Wind – that will cost plenty to address – and so far haven’t done so. Nor that you do not understand that a sudden downturn in demand is inevitably going to require curtailment of some generation potential – whether it be nuclear, renewables, or both. These will involve contractural arrangements, not technological efficacy.
      I am for renewables where they fit – but until they come integrated with storage and increased transmission capacity, I feel we need to consider a technology that if we’d committed to 20 years ago would have allowed us to have already displaced most of our fossil fuelled electricity generation sources – and can STILL have a useful part to play.
      Get real, Geoffrey.

      • Geoff Miell says

        Ian Thompson,
        You state:
        “You have clearly “cherry picked” the mostly newly developing nuclear reactor examples to make your case for “too long” – and this is dishonest.”

        Ian, what examples would you use to prosecute your case, post-Fukushima event (Mar 2011)? Or would you prefer to use pre-Fukushima event cases (like Seppo Sipilä is suggesting to look at in the 2000s in the comment on May 6, 2020 at 11:29 pm) and ignore those lessons from the catastrophic event? How long from planning to operation, Ian? Do you know, Ian, or are you just ‘hand waving’ again?

        Of course, construction times are only part of the story. Nuclear reactors need to be planned, like finding suitable sites, getting permits, purchasing or leasing the site, obtaining construction permits, obtaining insurance and finance for construction, producing site related construction plans, negotiate and obtain transmission access, and negotiate power purchase agreements.

        So, the lag time between initial proposal to operation for nuclear is generally more than a decade. For example, the EPR type Taishan-1 & -2 reactors in China were bid in 2006. Taishan-1 began commercial operation on 14 Dec 2018, and Taishan-2 on 7 Sep 2019. So plan-to-operation times were 12 & 13 years respectively.
        The planning-to-operation (PTO) times of all nuclear plants ever built have been 10-19 years or more.
        See: https://www.beforetheflood.com/news/the-7-reasons-why-nuclear-energy-is-not-the-answer-to-solve-climate-change/

        So, I extend the same challenge to you as my challenge to Seppo Sipilä in my comment above (at May 7, 2020 at 11:24 am). Can you please explain to me how nuclear can assist to rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions within the required timeframe (i.e. by 2030 – that’s when all fossil fueled electricity generators must cease operating if there’s any chance of avoiding civilisation collapse in the second half of this century)?

        You state:
        “I feel we need to consider a technology that if we’d committed to 20 years ago would have allowed us to have already displaced most of our fossil fuelled electricity generation sources…”

        Lamenting about what might have been is not productive for what needs to be done now. Your suggestion “if we’d committed to 20 years ago” is IMO telling – all the evidence I see indicates that is what would be required at a minimum for getting nuclear up and running for multiple units to make a difference – all too late for rapid action on dangerous climate change that must happen now at a much faster rate. Only renewables now have the speed of deployment to do so, if we had the will to do it.

        • Paul Lafreniere says

          Ref: Geoff Miell ‘…Can you please explain to me how nuclear can assist to rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions within the required time frame (i.e. by 2030 ..’
          Please do not construe my input as dogmatic but I promised you a follow-up. I live in Quebec where we are blessed with 99.8% hydro-electricity. All sources involve trade-offs and local factors are crucial. I believe we both insist on a holistic approach that strives to the greater good of humankind. New renewables fill a niche; but are only an extension of fossil fuels. They are not an improvement on fossil fuels because new renewables do not scale. ….the cure is worse than the disease. I credit Plant of the Humans, for calling a spade, a spade. Moore’s message to put it crudely: ‘At what point do you stop cutting down trees for the sake of a green agenda?’ New renewables carry their own burden of ugly side effects as does nuclear, hydro-electricity and vaccines for that matter. All pros and cons must be considered not just those that fall ‘in-line’.
          Back to your challenge: I respect your concern on reactor cost escalation risk. Your ‘going-forward’ risk argument carries weight for decision-makers. I think we both know part of the answer. First, let’s look at the past: Entire fleets of Gen 2 and 3 reactors were built in many countries to schedule and budget over a decade…where political support was strong and continuous i.e., France, South Korea, China, etc. (There are currently 440 reactors operating with 55 under construction.) Elsewhere there were some spectacular failures. It is disingenuous to confuse the cost of a ‘FOAK’ (First of a kind) new reactor class with the going forward cost. Many of the reactors you mention are Gen 3+ reactors that inevitably hit teething pains after long year of building inactivity. As an example, AECL the Canadian PHWR designer, supplied it’s last (5) reactors (out of a series of (16) 600 MWe class units) within budget and schedule (6 years). The Qinshan reactors in China, required only (5) years from Contract Effective Date to In-service (2003). Capitalism can innovate and replicate cost effectively with the right incentives.
          The future: The current trend to SMRs is gathering momentum, as young engineers and scientists pick up the mantle of some 20,000 reactor-years of experience including SMR prototypes. SMRs will resolve many of the current concerns while they share DNA with the 500+ military and civil reactors in service above and under the seas. SMRs are based on incremental innovations not revolutionary technologies. Big capital investments will be forthcoming as the SMR risk can be staged and insulated from chronic political and ideological interference.
          I have witnessed many people around the globe, step out of poverty, thanks to the atom. Tossing it aside without a healthy debate, may meet secular interests but it does not serve our better angels. The starting point for an objective review of technology options would be to compare outputs to date. Studies of what may or may not be possible at a given cost, are secondary but require careful expert review. Fortunately a comparison of CO2 reduction results achieved in major economies, is now possible:
          1. Carbon Intensity of Electricity consumption. #auspol #cleanenergy #Energiewende #hydro #nuclear #wind #solar #ExtinctionRebellion @electricityMap #rstats #ggplot2

          2. Renewables Threaten German Economy & Energy Supply, McKinsey Warns In New Report

          Evidently the well-intentioned German Energiewiende roadmap to CO2 reduction (for the cost of weekly ice-cream, sic), ran into the roadblocks of physics, budgets and grassroots opposition. I do not want to be negative, only realistic about what can be achieved. If the Germans cannot make it work, who on earth, can?
          I recall meeting village women in India decades ago, who expressed deep gratitude to me for the power plant that had liberated her and her family from the bonds of a short, feudal existence. Atoms for peace deserves a second chance.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Australia has a fleet of aging coal power stations. None of the large power companies want to replace them with new coal power stations because coal power is more expensive than solar and wind plus dispatchable capacity to firm the grid. This is without a carbon price. Nuclear power is not cheaper than coal power. If it was, we wouldn’t export so much coal to South Korea. As a result, nuclear’s not getting a look in here. If nuclear does become cheaper than, not just coal power, but renewables plus firming, please let us know.

          • Please Ronald,
            coal is not being replaced because its been demonized by the vested interest of the greens. if it was cheaper you could all sleep at night because everyone would simply build what you outline. but its not, and still needs incentives to drive investment, these incentives are the very reason power prices continue to rise despite having abundant sources (I’m on 60c feedin as an early adopter of solar, everyone with out solar pays for my power bill now for most of the year). to deliver the same outcome as a coal power station of 1gw you would need to build substantially more solar and wind (I dont know the numbers but guess at least 6x) plus invest in distribution and transmission and batteries to fix the inherent issues of intermittency in a world needing reliable continuous supply. should we be trying to go renewable, yes, but stop pretending the economics work because they don’t.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Tj, the marginal cost of electricity from existing coal power station is less than the cost of new firmed renewable energy at the moment. The cost of new coal power is not. Apart from a modest upgrade to an existing coal power station AGL has no interest in replacing it with coal power despite the lack of incentives for renewable at that point.

            Update: I made a muddle of this comment. I’m referring to the next planned coal power closure in April 2023 — Liddell Power Station. AGL is not replacing it with a new coal power station and has no desire to.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Paul Lafreniere,
            Thanks for your response. You state:
            “…I live in Quebec where we are blessed with 99.8% hydro-electricity.”

            I’ve visited the Canadian provinces of British Colombia, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. I’ve probably flown over Quebec province a few times, between Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and London Heathrow (LHR) and one return journey through Halifax Stanfield (YHZ) – a wonderful part of the world!

            Every place has strengths and weaknesses with respect to energy resources – different places need to optimise their particular strengths, like Quebec has with hydro.

            Further along, you then state:
            “New renewables fill a niche; but are only an extension of fossil fuels.”

            That’s where I disagree. If renewables cannot replace fossil fuels, then humanity will be in a real pickle, from both the perspective of escalating dangerous climate change (due to ongoing GHG emissions from fossil fuels) and finite fossil fuel resource depletion (first oil and gas supply scarcity probably beginning within this decade, then coal supply scarcity beginning probably later this century). If humanity cannot end its fossil fuel addiction, and soon, then humanity will be experiencing a more environmentally hostile world, together with increasing energy starvation. Unaffordable/scarce energy means civilisation decline – nothing happens without energy. Not a good prospect for your grandson’s future then? I assume you disagree with the findings of the EWG/LUT study I linked to (in my comment on May 5, 2020 at 4:09 pm)?

            You then state:
            “…new renewables do not scale. ….the cure is worse than the disease.”

            Wind turbine units have scaled from 12 kW in 1888, 30 kW in 1980, to 9.5 MW behemoths today, and the prototype Haliade-X offshore turbine features a 12 MW capacity. Solar panels are scaleable – just keep adding more panels together. Panel efficiencies are also improving. Molten-salt solar thermal generator units are scaleable up to about 220 MW with 17 hours storage (per BZE Stationary Energy Plan), and then add more generator units, like what has already been done with coal/gas/nuclear generators. New renewables certainly are scaleable – your statement is not a reflection of reality. What “disease” are you referring to, Paul?

            What “ugly side effects” apply to vaccines, Paul?

            To business. You state:
            “The Qinshan reactors in China, required only (5) years from Contract Effective Date to In-service (2003).”

            From the Wikipedia “List of nuclear reactors”, the Qinshan site was developed in 3 phases. The third phase consisted of the two 650 MWe (net) / 728 MWe (gross) CANDU-6 series reactors. The CANDU reactors were first developed in the late 1950s.

            The Qinshan-III-1 reactor began CONSTRUCTION (i.e. NOT when the planning first began) on 8 Jun 1998, and began operation on 31 Dec 2002, meaning BUILD-to-operation time was >4.5 years (1667 days). That’s NOT PLANNING-to-operation time which would have been significantly longer – that’s the information I’m seeking. Planning of nuclear reactors don’t miraculously happen overnight!

            The Qinshan-III-2 reactor began CONSTRUCTION on 25 Sep 1998, and began operation 24 Jul 2003, meaning BUILD-to-operation time was 8.5 years)
            See: https://www.world-nuclear.org/our-association/publications/world-nuclear-performance-reports/world-nuclear-performance-report.aspx

            The IAEA has produced guidelines for “Project Management in Nuclear Power Plant Construction: Guidelines and Experience” which includes Fig 8 indicating pre-construction planning indicating circa 5 years. So, PLANNING-to-operation is at least 10 years – more for inexperienced countries starting afresh (as Ziggy Switkowski, who headed an Australian review of nuclear power in 2006, suggested at an Australian Parliament inquiry last year).
            See: https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/Pub1537_web.pdf
            Also: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/29/nuclear-power-australia-not-realistic-decade-ziggy-switkowski

            As for SMRs, where are they? There are no “factory-built” SMRs anywhere that have demonstrated the claims being made – they don’t exist yet (NuScale is promised to be “commercially available” around 2025 at the earliest?). The technology is required NOW and must be deployed and operational by 2030 – not 2040, or on the never-never – all too late for rapid reduction in GHG emissions needed right NOW.

            You finish with:
            “Atoms for peace deserves a second chance.”

            Nice try, Paul, but IMO you haven’t provided any compelling evidence. The evidence I see clearly and unequivocally indicates nuclear fission energy:
            • takes far, far too long to get up and be operational to contribute to rapidly reducing human-induced GHG emissions in a timely manner;
            • costs much, much more than new renewables with ‘firming’/storage;
            • relies on finite fuels that will inevitably get scarcer and more expensive and thus cannot sustain nuclear power long-term;
            • leaves a toxic waste legacy that will long outlast any energy benefits gained.

          • Geoff Miell says

            Correction to my comment (at May 11, 2020 at 5:41 pm)
            It seems part of my comment did not make it through and was truncated -something to do with the use of the less than and greater than character. The paragraph shown above in my previous comment:

            The Qinshan-III-2 reactor began CONSTRUCTION on 25 Sep 1998, and began operation 24 Jul 2003, meaning BUILD-to-operation time was 8.5 years)

            …should be replaced with these three paragraphs:

            The Qinshan-III-2 reactor began CONSTRUCTION on 25 Sep 1998, and began operation 24 Jul 2003, meaning BUILD-to-operation time was >4.8 years (1763 days).

            My points are: Qinshan-III-1 & -2 reactor units were based on a pre-Fukushima event (i.e. Mar 2011) design, were built on a ‘brownfield’ site developed previously for the earlier phases I & II (that had already gained site approvals and transmission links, etc.), and the times given don’t include the significant times to PLAN those projects prior to construction. IMO, the example you have provided cannot be taken as indicative of what new reactors would take post-Fukushima event, on ‘greenfield’ sites, and even less so for nuclear-power-inexperienced countries like Australia.

            The World Nuclear Association’s “World Nuclear Performance Report 2019” isn’t helpful either – it only provides CONSTRUCTION-to-operation times – See Figure 10. Figure 11 provides median CONSTRUCTION times for reactors since 1961. For 2018, the median construction time was 103 months (or >8.5 years)

  14. To many words cant be bothered

  15. Jill Pichardo says

    If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. It asks a question is to raise awareness. The question is “Can technology, industry and billionaires save us from the problems caused by industry and overpopulation?”

    The simple answer is we need less. Less industry, less people, less consumption.

    You can’t solve a problem if you won’t even talk about it. This movie is an opportunity for dialogue. Watch it twice.

  16. Wow, almost took me 100 minutes to read this article. Perhaps follow your own advice next time. #tedius #nothingpositive

  17. Joan Lagerman says

    I personally have a new found respect for Michael Moore. They were not looking to come to the conclusion’s that they did, in fact they where shocked by it. I was not shocked. I live surrounded by 88 400’ turbines..I was not shocked!

  18. Hugh Spencer says
  19. Greg Cudmore says

    I stopped reading the article when the author began firing personal cheap shops about the film makers. The debate the film is calling for must be dispassionate and nor about childish point scoring. The film is not arguing against riding a bike. Rather that we need to acknowledge the real problem if we are to save the planet.

  20. Gary allan says

    Sorry mate the scam is up we on the right always new this it was the hystericals who struggle with facts

  21. More of the rational dissection: Michael Moore’s “Planet of the Humans” Is Full Of Myths, Errors, & Dangerous Misdirection https://cleantechnica.com/2020/05/04/michael-moores-planet-of-the-humans-traffics-in-myths-errors-dangerous-misdirection/

  22. Malcolm Wilson says

    It is an error to dismiss the need for population control. Excessive population is the reason all the other bad things are happening. Massive increases in population in Africa are really bad for its environment in every way. It is not the solution to our short term problems but it is for the longer view. there is a good argument that instead of subsidizing solar panels the money should be spent on paying for improvements in women’s health in Africa and other poor areas and on education in those same areas. the real problem has always been population population population and is an increasing problem in Australia because of ridiculous levels of immigration. It has destroyed the environment, led to land clearance, and is a major cause of cutting down Koala forests south of Brisbane.

    • Jerrold I Gilbert says

      Malcolm, I agree with you 100%. I have long been an advocate for population reduction. I don’t think we can go China’s way of establishing laws prohibiting families from having more than one child. But we have to find positive ways to incentivise people to have fewer children. Primarily, such a reduction would allow us to take better care of the people we have. I read a recent quote that said that our environmental problems are due to “too many people, consuming too much, too fast”.

      • Hugh Spencer says

        we could institute population reduction – but it wouldn’t be a vote winner, not yet anyway. Free contraception technology – from vasectomies to IUD’s to RU 486 and condoms. No questions asked.
        Eliminate child support subsidies and other benefits after the first child.
        That would do for starters – and perhaps significant tax bonuses for women/families with single children or no children. Negative after that.

  23. Peter Barreca says

    I wonder what Micheal More would have said if he did the analysis on replacing all the bikes in Europe with Cars.
    The arguments put forward have so many holes in them thet if it was a ship it would sink in a minute.
    You can’t argue with idiots who have a closed mind as they will make an argument that shows that lead should float.

    A bit like that meglomaniac Trump who is chocking the air ways with stupid ideas and comments – some causing great loss of life. He’s a bigger threat to America than Bin Ladden.

  24. Have you read this: 3 times Michael Moore’s film Planet of the Humans gets the facts wrong (and 3 times it gets them right) Web link:


    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Dana
      Just for a little fun being the Devil’s Advocate here – theconversation claim that the quoted 8% efficiency figure for PV is wrong – could also be considered correct depending on the reference point you choose to use.
      Sure, PV is closer to 22% efficient – but only when cool, with the sun high, unobstructed, and shining perpendicular to the panel surfaces. Under any other circumstances, it will be far less efficient.
      For example, my rooftop PV achieves only about 18% of the annual generation that it’s panel rating would imply, generating 24/7. And my system performs well, in a good Zone.
      Now, 18% of 22% is only 4% – which could be considered the actual PV efficiency when comparing it on a Capital investment basis to a non-intermittent technology!

  25. Lawrence Coomber says

    Ian solar PV circuits subscribe to the same principles as all other electrical circuits. They can fail and will fail eventually with unpredictable results.

    Solar PV operates in the harshest of environments as well which puts them in the high risk electrical circuits category. This should not surprise anybody.
    Circuit integrity in all of its forms is the overarching issue.

    Integrity of connections is foremost – from the solar cell level PV junction connections through to the module strings series and parallel connections, and interposing isolator and circuit breaker and inverter connections, are all weak links in the integrity of a solar PV circuit.

    Any one of them can and many will fail over time due to oxidisation and surface corrosion of the circuit connectors at some point in the complex chain; and temperature expansion and contraction fatigue and finally fracture over time of any of the myriad of exceedingly small metal connections within every solar cell causing “dry joints”.

    From an electrical circuits viewpoint, there are so many connections in a solar PV circuit that can fail, it is a category 10/10 for failure at some unknown point in the chain and at some unknown time with unpredictable performance and circuit safety consequences.

    Equally problematic is short circuit conditions developing somewhere and sometime due to ingress of moisture (condensation and humidity) causing short circuits of varying resistance and also having both dangerous and unpredictable consequences.

    Anyone who believes that solar PV technology is solid as a rock for 30 years guaranteed, is ill-informed.

    But in the main, solar PV is a robust and reliable circuit.

    Lawrence Coomber

  26. Graeme Stockton says

    Whilst it’s true the film has numerous inaccuracies about renewable energy, it is very unfortunate the main message regarding population and consumption has been either dismissed or left out in this blog. Renewable energy is a useful technology but our energy demands far exceed what renewables can provide.
    This has huge implications because whilst we have no choice but to move toward a renewable energy-based future, it is not going to be anywhere as energy dense as the fossil-fueled one we are leaving. What does this mean for a global economic system based on endless GDP growth and which uses population growth and consumption as primary drivers? Look at planetary indicators to find out: Carbon emissions continue to soar, biodiversity is in a swan dive, resource depletion of renewable and non-renewable resources is accelerating and equity; equity for other species, equity for future generations and inequity for those who are poor and getting poorer is growing rapidly. This means instability. This means growing resource conflict. It ultimately means collapse.
    One last thought, the world renowned biologist, E.O. Wilson who developed the theory of island biogeography and its relevance for global conservation efforts says “Threats to the natural world are multiplying. Species are going extinct at an alarming rate. Unless we move quickly to protect global biodiversity, we will soon lose most of the species composing life on Earth.” There’s a solution. It’s called the Half-Earth Project. If we conserve half the land and sea, we can still safeguard the bulk of our planet’s biodiversity” —E.O. Wilson.
    How does that marry with infinite growth? (this folks is the fundamental question that Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs ask in this film. The inaccuracies about renewable technologies are largely irrelevant.)

    • Hugh Spencer says

      Thank you for saying this.. but remember, most of us are now urbanites – urbanites see things through a different (distorting) lens. The urban world has become the new normal. Sure we like the critters in the park – so long as they don’t interfere with our lives. Trying to re-direct that mindset, will be exceedingly difficult.
      We are also faced with the psychology of “shifting perceptions” – looking out the window – things today look much the same as they did yesterday, so what’s your issue, Bub?

  27. Ronald Brakels says

    Any comments suggesting another commenter needs to go to the brain bank to borrow a cup of grey matter will not be approved.

  28. Ian Thompson says

    Ha – and here was me thinking Switzerland is luckily highly endowed with Hydro opportunities, and has great access to indigenous and imported nuclear – which would help explain why they have a better quality of life, while at the same time with only 28% (per capita) of our carbon footprint – we don’t have these opportunities.
    Plus, they have had this great electrification and decarbonising performance many, many years ahead of our pitiful results.

  29. It’s funny how you are missing the whole point of the doco that Green/renewable energy is a farce!

  30. Hugh Spencer says

    We seem to have forgotten the rapidly climbing CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa (and Cape Grim in Tasmania). To which you can add the climbing levels of fluorocarbons, methane and N oxides – which have a far higher global warming impact than CO2. Fluorocarbons can be several thousand times higher than CO2 – and there are millions of tons of them in Air conditioners, refrigeration and plastic foams – all waiting for release. for example see the illustrations in :

    and that’s just A/C

    Not a good look.

  31. Isaac Douglas says

    How does one know that they do not know something? By disregarding all that they consider absolute proof and balancing it through reason into indubtable fact. Ignorance is total oblivion of a fact or topic. Opinion is a step away from ignorance as hypothesis. Knowledge is complete in an of itself. Knowledge is not opinio

    Reading this discussion, there is indeed much opinion, in the article and all the follow up comments. There is some ignorance and definitely little knowlegde. Much debate on effects little notice on causes. Some comments duly highlight the fact that the article, despite sharing valid counter reasoning points, seem to miss the whole point of the film, which is a review of the causes of the present day energy dillema.

    The issue here is not which energy type to use and it’s efficiency but rather, “HOW MUCH” energy we use as humans and the effects of our infinite, untamed consumption. The issue is not which means of exploiting the environment and nature for energy but rather the level of the exploitation and possible outcomes or endgames of the human behaviour of today.

    As on of the saying’s therein, ” Humankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery – not of nature, but of itself.” Despite the errors and fallacies as seen in the documentary in trying to bring out this topic, it is a most important point of action. For all of us as humans, who share this planet and its resources. It is not about finding new ways of consuming even more energy but rather reviewing how we use finite energy and to what means.

    The means of producing it may vary but at the end of the day, the forces which play through the physical, light/heat/sound/electiricty/magnetism, are available ANYWHERE on earth and what is needed is a way to precipate them from their source into the physical. Starting to sound as philosophy but this is science, as advanced as can be. Former civilizations knew this, the knowledge is available and just needs to be made known. Free, wireless electricity for all, like Tesla envisioned too. But to get there, the topics of human consumption and infinite appettite for more food, possesions, fame, power and copulation is the start of the discussion. But as seen even from this thread, it is easier to change the whole world than it is for an individual to change themselves, hence the real debate is avoided.

    P.s> Have and still work in solar industry in Africa for 10yrs+ and also got offended by some of the fallacies of logic as presented in the film but overall, key take away is as above, not energy sources or the unit economics around them but rather consumption. Infinite, untamed consumption.

    Be the change you want to see in the world, consume less 🙂

  32. Ian Thompson says

    On the contrary, Isaac, I feel we need both:

    1. Improved efficiency, giving lower energy consumption for a result, and

    2. More non-polluting energy generation, with less polluting generation.

    Quality of life positively correlates with higher per capita energy consumption.

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