30 January 2011

Talks this Week: UBC and Portland


I'm giving two talks this week.  If you are a reader of this blog, please do say hello.  Here are the details from the two talk announcements:

First, Tuesday at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver:
The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians
Won’t Tell You About Global Warming

University of British Columbia
Tuesday February 1st 2011
12 - 1pm
AERL room 120

The world’s response to climate change is deeply flawed. The conventional wisdom on how to deal with climate change has failed and it’s time to change course. To date, climate policies have been guided by targets and timetables for emissions reduction derived from various academic exercises. Such methods are both oblivious to and in violation of on-the-ground political and technological realities that serve as practical “boundary conditions” for effective policy making. Until climate policies are designed with respect for these boundary conditions, failure is certain. Using nothing more than arithmetic and logical explanation, this talk provides a comprehensive exploration of the problem and a proposal for a more effective way forward.

ROGER PIELKE, Jr., has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado since 2001 and is a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). At CIRES, Roger served as the Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research from 2001-2007. Roger’s research focuses on the intersection of science and technology and decision making. In 2006 Roger received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich, Germany for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. Before joining the University of Colorado, from 1993-2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Roger is a Senior Fellow of the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. His most recent book is The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell you About Global Warming (September, 2010, Basic Books).
And then Thursday evening in Portland:
Fixing Climate Through Energy Innovation
Illahee Lecture Series
Thursday February 3rd
7 PM at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Avenue in Portland
Tickets here

February 3, 2011 Political scientist Roger Pielke maintains that we'll make better progress on climate if we focus on energy innovation. Pielke is Professor of Environmental Studies at University of Colorado, and has held leadership positions at NCAR, CIRES, and the Breakthrough Institute. He is also author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, and The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell you About Global Warming. More about Roger Pielke here and here.


  1. Roger,

    President Obama in his recent SOTU address said that "this is our generation's sputnik moment" referring to the need to use science and technology to develop cheaper clean energy (among other things). It seems the Chinese were listening because last week they announced a focussed effort to achieve technological leadership in thorium molten salt reactors.

    Press report.

    (partial google translation)
    "Yesterday, as the Chinese Academy of Sciences started the first one of the strategic leader in science and technology projects, "the future of advanced nuclear fission energy - nuclear energy, thorium-based molten salt reactor system" project was officially launched. The scientific goal is to use 20 years or so, developed a new generation of nuclear energy systems, all the technical level reached in the trial and have all intellectual property rights."

    What is a "thorium-based molten salt reactor system"? Please see this link to a previous WUWT post on this technology.

    Will the US accept the challenge or allow the Chinese to dominate advanced nuclear technology too? Using a technology invented in the US 40 years ago no less!


  2. CharlesH,

    Molten salt reactors are on the Generation IV roadmap.(Page 33)

    There are technical challenges to be overcome operating at 700 degrees C.

    Quote from the document -

    "The main challenge concerning valves, joints, and fittings is to ensure correct mating of surfaces ranging from room temperature to 700°C. Avoiding fusion bonding with the molten salt is also a technical challenge for efficient valve operation, and tests will have to be carried out to improve reliability."

  3. Harry,

    Thxs for the 2002 link. I think they are referring to the French MSR work (the pics look familiar).

    What is the US doing today? My understanding is that essentially nothing is being done on MSRs in the US.


    "Currently there is no US effort to develop a thorium MSR. Readers of this blog and Charles Barton’s Nuclear Green blog know that there has been a grass-roots effort underway for over five years to change this."

  4. In other words, a molten salt thorium reactor works in principle, but may require unobtanium as a material of construction.

  5. dewitt,

    Prototypes were build and operated for years in the 1960. The technology needs updating but there are no "show-stoppers". Thus the Chinese action.

    The Chinese don't have the innertia of an existing LWR/uranium industry/NRC infrastructure to contend with.

    I suggest you spend a few hours on the blog.


    Here is a good place to start.


  6. Roger,

    I hope you see this comment and read this article. It is a very nice summary of the political/economic issues surrounding the Chinese LFTR announcement.