Kyoto – A Perspective (Part 19)

Posted on Thu 05/01/2008 by


A coal fired power plant in China.
Would this pass the clean air act in the US?
Click on Image to open a larger picture in another window.
Picture taken by , 2005-07, loaded to english wikipedia.


Again it seems I’ve strayed from the Kyoto heading, and again this only serves to accentuate the complexity of the problem.
I just love the way environmentalists demand that we stop producing greenhouse gases. Rational engineers point out that this means closing coal fired power stations, and not just one or two, but vast numbers of them, effectively cutting off power to vast swathes of people.
An indignant attitude regarding the situation, and lack of knowledge of how complex it really is, they point at engineers and say that they should be able to replace one with the other, and to just get on with doing it instead of making lame excuses.
What I’m trying to do is to explain that it’s just not that simple.
Readers who have stuck around long enough to follow this are just the tip of the iceberg. The people who really need to understand what it all means are those who would read a few lines of what I have to say, and pass me off as just another pessimist wanting to stay with the status quo.

What I want from those environmentalists is for them to explain to me, and the rest of us where the money is going to come from, who is going to pay that phenomenal amount, where they want us to build these new plants, what they want us to do in the interim, and just why we should be the ones to dismantle our plants while the developed countries build new ones.

It seems to me that these environmentalists have misguided intentions. They mean well, but in the process, they have no real idea of just what has to happen for us to reach the target that they demand, and when it is explained to them they don’t believe it, not because it doesn’t agree with what they say, but because they don’t have the technical understanding of what it really means.
We in the Western World have a standard of living we have become so used to, that we take something like electrical power for granted, so much so that when it’s pointed out that we would have to do without, they prefer not to believe that fact, confident that in the nick of time, something will magically appear to save the day.
Then, if they do think about it, they say that, right, we’ll just have to do things tough for a while until something turns up.

Unintentionally, they still don’t get it.
If the problem is to be effectively solved, everybody needs to be working from the same song book.
If we in the Western World need to cut back, then the rest of the Planet also has to run parallel with what we are doing.

As we in the Western World shut down our coal fired power plants, those developing countries (and remember, they are exempt from Kyoto) are building coal fired plants. China alone is commissioning new coal fired plants at the rate of one per week.

Surely it must stand to reason that any greenhouse gases we stop emitting as we close our plants are being replaced by those developing countries as they build new plants.
Okay then, we stop developing countries from opening coal fired plants, a simple thing to say.
However, as well intentioned as that sounds, what it effectively means is that tens of millions of people are denied electricity in those developing countries.
They have no access to electricity now, and why these plants are being constructed is to bring these people up to a standard of living that we’ve already had for close on a hundred years, now a staple of life.
So, these environmentalists with all their good intentions, are effectively practicing discrimination, a form of racism if you will, just by their very nature, saying well, we’ve got it, but so that the environment stays pristine, you’ll have to do without.

A 2000 MW baseload nuclear power plant costs conservatively six billion dollars and take seven years to construct. To replace the coal fired plants mooted to be removed from the grid, we need 50 of these. That’s $300 Billion.

The argument is that this is just the Nuclear Option.
Each of the other replacement methods is around the same cost, and some considerably greater with similar time spans for construction. You’re also looking at a similar number of smaller peak power plants of some sort or another, and all of this is just to bring us up to the level we have at the moment. You have to add new infrastructure to this, the high tension transmission lines. Then, as the population increases, so does the need for more electricity.

These numbers are in today’s figures. If we were to start this now, we’re looking at a conservative ten year time span till the first ones come on line, and we’re still only in the discussion stage. Not only are new plants not even being considered, we’re actually cutting back.
Are we to keep the coal plants running for those ten years or shut them down with the catastrophic chaos that will produce. I’m not talking homes doing without power, but workplaces, whole towns, cities.

Do we tell those developing countries to hold off on their coal plants, which they can barely afford now.

Seriously, how much influence will the sponsors of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations, have in telling China these facts, and do you seriously think China will listen, or having listened, stop building these plants.
No. Environmentalists have more power in Western Countries, so they protest in those Western Countries, knowing full well that in a democracy, we will allow them to protest, we even listen to them and more often than not, politicians out of electoral fear give in to them.
Let them protest. Let them tell us we need to stop producing greenhouse gases. However try and make them listen when the reality of the situation is explained, and that’s another thing altogether.

Kyoto decrees that Western Countries pay for developing countries to acquire the technology.

On top of that, Western Countries then have pay the monumentally huge carbon tax, and also have to pay to construct replacement power plants for their own country.

This is what I want those environmentalists to explain to me.
Who pays for all this?
Who decides those of us who have to do without electrical power?
Who decides which millions of people in developing countries do without power?

Can you see now why your leaders have not signed off on Kyoto. It has nothing at all to do with which side of the political fence you sit on, and yet that is exactly what politicians are doing, making it political.