Atmospheric carbon approaches “unprecedented” levels, while world ignores Ontario’s unprecedented nuclear-driven carbon reductions

Climate talks in Bonn, Germany kicked off two days ago with a warning from the head of the UN Climate Change body that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) are about to reach the point of no return: 400 parts per million. That is recognized by scientists as the level beyond which mankind cannot hope to constrain global average temperature increases to below 2.4 degrees Celsius.

Coal-fired power plants create massive amounts of electricity, and CO2. The current climate meeting in Bonn, Germany is about reducing the latter. But the host country is building a whole fleet of new coal-fired plants because it needs the former. Germany could have massive amounts of electricity with no CO2 emissions, simply by restarting its nuclear plants which were idled in the media hysteria over Fukushima. Ontario has achieved huge CO2 emission reductions by using nuclear energy. But then again our political leaders are not panic-prone or spineless like Germany’s are.

Meanwhile, the host country scrambles to build new coal-fired electricity generating plants to cover the electricity shortfall that will come because of its panic retreat from nuclear power after the harmless Fukushima meltdowns of March 2011. Though the meltdowns occurred 3514 days ago, and there have been no people killed or even injured by the minor radiation leaks from the reactors, the German government was spooked by the hysterical Green-Party-led exploitation of the media circus that accompanied the non-event. And lacking the qualities of true leadership, which oblige leaders to stand firm in the face of manufactured and agenda-driven hysteria, the German government buckled like wet cardboard and agreed to throw away the country’s nuclear generating fleet. And, knowing that it cannot possibly hope to replace its nuclear output with the much-touted but lamentably inefficient and unreliable wind turbines and solar panels the Greens have forever demanded, the German government has okayed a rush of new coal-fired plants. Germany is, after all, a modern jurisdiction that cannot live without electricity.

Coal-fired electricity generation produces upwards of one kilogram of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour put into a grid. Which means that for every megawatt-hour (MWh), a coal-fired plant will dump one metric tonne, one thousand kilograms, into the air. See Tables 1 and 2 in the left-hand sidebar.

So, while the head of the UN climate change body goes about her business at Bonn, the host country’s coal-fired power generators will be adding to the atmosphere’s inventory of the man-made CO2 the Bonn meeting is supposed to discuss, while perfectly good nuclear plants sit idle because of hysterical phony-green scaremongering.

Will these observations, or anything like them, make their way into the official communiqué when the Bonn meeting is over? If Bonn is anything like any of its innumerable predecessors, no.

Meanwhile, my home jurisdiction of Ontario has achieved a truly remarkable reduction in electricity-sector CO2 emissions. These were around 43 million metric tons in 2000, and 16 million tons last year.

How did Ontario achieve this? By bringing refurbished nuclear generators back into service. This has occurred since 2003.

The refurbishments were carried out at two sites: the Pickering generating station just east of Toronto on Lake Ontario, and at the Bruce station on Lake Huron.

The Bruce station recently returned to full power, and now has eight operational units totaling around 6,300 megawatts. This makes it the biggest clean energy centre in the western hemisphere.

I doubt this achievement will be even mentioned at Bonn, let alone extolled as a proven way to reduce CO2 emissions.

Which makes me wonder what the Bonn meeting is really about.

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James Greenidge
7 years ago

Too too excellent summation of Germany’s spaghetti-spined lack of leadership!

Re: “I doubt this achievement will be even mentioned at Bonn, let alone extolled as a proven way to reduce CO2 emissions.”

Is there a Canadian contingent or rep there who can be called on TO mention it?

James Greenidge
Queens NY

7 years ago

I do not speak German, or I would translate the description of the contradiction and send it to publications such as Der Spiegel and Stern.

Joris van Dorp
7 years ago

Great article. I love this style. Not just stick in the knife, but give it a couple of twists.

I realize from personal experience with this crowd that the people discussing policy at Bonn are good people (mostly) and they have good intentions (mostly) but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they are living under the weight of anti-nuclear illusions that now pose an existential threat to humanity.

Clearly, soft-balling and patience has not worked in shaking them out of their illusion. So now it has become time to get ‘fed up’ with them, as James Hansen has recently advised. It time to stick in the knife and twist! Discovering that nuclear power is bona fide can be a painful proces for some people, but this pain must be gone through, and quickly. So give it another twist! 😉

Morgan Brown
7 years ago

I agree with most of what you wrote, and empathize with your frustration. However, I don’t like hyperbole. The statement “concentrations of CO2 are about to reach the point of no return” implies CO2 levels could never be lower again (by natural or artificial means). In the short time scale, this may be true, but the earth has seen large changes in CO2 levels in the past, and will likely do so again. That doesn’t mean we should not be very concerned (over all resource use/waste streams).

Also, the Fukushima meltdowns were not “harmless” nor a “non-event. The accidents have been overblown in many media stories, and the ~19,000 dead from the earthquake and tsunami are virtually forgotten. But the accidents were nonetheless very serious; they are appropriately classified as “severe accidents” (my specialty). The deposition/concentration of radionuclides could have been worse (i.e., the winds dispersed much of the radioactive plume over the ocean in a relatively harmless fashion). I doubt the radioactive contamination will cause measurable long-term effects in the population, but some evacuations were necessary (probably not to the extent nor with the haste with which they were implemented). With the evacuations went stress and hardship. Even if no one was (or will be) directly harmed by radiation, there was/is still hardship and harm (including economic) caused by the accidents.

James Greenidge
7 years ago
Reply to  Steve Aplin

Amen. Wish that got out to WAY more folks — even in Japan, despite the media.

James Greenidge
Queens NY