Archive for the Environment Category

Free Idea #1: Saving water

Posted in Environment, Free Ideas on April 1, 2011 by max

I’m adding a new category of posts, titled “Free Ideas”. These are brainstorms that might actually have some real-world value, but that I am not in a position to do anything with. Feel free to run with it…

The issue

Given the plethora of well-documented world-wide issues with adequate fresh water, it occurs to me that it is practically obscene to be using clean, potable water for the purpose of whisking bodily wastes into the sewage system; that is, flushing the toilet. My back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the US wastes 4.8 billion gallons of water per day in this manner (partial statistics here). You could save a lot of salmon with that kind of flow. Low-flow toilets are not a complete solution, since each flush still wastes 1.6 gallons; moreover, in the city of San Francisco, they have a problem with inadequate volume of liquid to move the wastes through the sewers, which were designed for older high-volume toilets (yeah, I know… TMI).

The solution

My idea is to revise the building code to require the use of gray water for flushing toilets. Gray water is recycled water; for example, recovered from the shower or bathtub. This water is already ticketed to go down the drain, and you can’t really argue that a little shampoo residue is going to hurt your toilet bowl (a filter could be used to catch the gross stuff like hair). In drought situations, a lot of people already capture shower water in a bucket and it it to flush the toilet. My idea is to institutionalize this with a standard design of a simple plumbing system that would perform the same function, and be completely transparent to the user.

A typical shower using a modern 2.5 gallon-per-minute shower head would provide 7 or 8 gallons of water for this system. For comparison, a modern low-flush toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush. So for each person taking a shower in your household, you would get five “free” flushes per day. It would also be logical for the system to utilize water from the bathroom sink and kitchen sink (assuming no garbage disposal), and possibly the dishwasher and washing machine. Gray water irrigation systems don’t use washing machine output because of the possibility of fecal contamination from diapers (more TMI), but that”s not a problem as this water would wind up in the sewer anyway.

As I see it, this system would need a holding tank (probably about the size of the typical water heater), and a system of valves that would automatically enable flushing with clean water if the tank happened to be empty, and that would route excess gray water down the drain when the tank was full. It might also need some kind of pump or siphon system depending on the relative levels of the plumbing fixtures, and a cleanable or replaceable filter. Some genius could probably design a kit that could be used to retrofit existing residences.

Fukushima: in hindsight, could the crisis have been prevented?

Posted in Environment on April 1, 2011 by max

Today, with increasing concerns about radiation leaks, and very little progress in stabilizing the reactor cores, the situation seems to be deteriorating. I am wondering, however, if some of the radiation figures we are seeing are really major increases, or just a result of better monitoring — more instruments in the field, and more systematic deployment. In the early days, the workers were too busy to spend a lot of time on monitoring, and most detectors were offline. Clearly, there is a buildup of contaminated water in the lower levels of the reactor buildings, and the nearby spillover trench; but this can only be expected, considering how indiscriminately they have been using whatever water was available to keep the fuel rod temperatures more or less under control. It also seems inevitable that a lot of this contaminated runoff will reach the ocean, as it is already within 50-60 meters. At present the primary radioactive material seems to be iodine 131, which has a short half-life of only eight days. There is a report of trace amounts of plutonium, presumably from reactor 3, but it is not clear how it might have escaped. The stabilization of the reactor cores remains the first priority, so it is likely that a certain amount of radiation release will continue, as an unavoidable side effect of these efforts.

In an ideal situation, we would not have radiation leaks at all, it goes without saying. So, looking backward, is there any way this ongoing near-catastrophe could have been prevented? I have to say “yes” — both before the fact, at the plant design level; and after the fact, in the early response stages. I am going to save the discussion of the former for another time, and address the actions of the plant managers in the first days after the quake.

What happened on March 11

According to the NOVA special, the Fukushima reactors automatically went into shutdown when the quake hit. This was apparently a deliberate safety measure (whether it was a good idea is a question I will explore later). While it takes a long time for the reactor cores to actually cool, at this point they were no longer generating electricity. Diesel-powered generators automatically kicked in to provide power for lighting, controls, and the crucial cooling pumps. It is not clear whether the plant was cut off from the national electric grid by the effects of the earthquake itself, or by the later tsunami, but for the purposes of this reconstruction I will assume the connection was knocked out by the earthquake. At any rate, for this brief period between the earthquake and tsunami, the situation was under control.

We all know what happened next — the tsunami flooded the diesel generators, which cut off all power to the plant. It isn’t clear whether the generators were damaged, completely destroyed, or merely quit due to temporary submersion, but the result was the same. The plant shifted to emergency battery power, but this was sufficient for only eight hours of operation. By approximately midnight, the critical function of pumping cool water through the reactor vessels to cool the fuel rods had stopped, leading to elevated core temperatures and the possibility of meltdown. Most reports have focused on this failure (for good reason), but I would like to call attention to another malfunction that I think actually initiated the downward spiral: the secondary containment structures also had a cooling and ventilation system, which, of course, was also without power.

The purpose of the secondary containment was to capture any releases from the reactor vessel in case of malfunction; therefore it was equipped with a sophisticated ventilation and filtering system. The filters were designed to capture any radioactive particles, and to harmlessly vent any hydrogen gas buildup. Highly-explosive hydrogen gas is a known byproduct of overheated fuel rods. The problem was that, with no electric power, they had a situation with both overheating fuel rods and a non-functioning ventilation system (I have to say this certainly looks like a design flaw).

As the fuel rod temperatures increased, the cooling water in the reactors turned to steam, increasing the pressure in the vessels. In order to prevent the reactor vessels from bursting (which would have been a first-class calamity), the plant managers were forced to release steam into the secondary containment structures. This steam contained both radioactive contaminants, and hydrogen gas.

March 12: fatal inaction?

This was the situation in the early morning hours of March 12. The site personnel had probably been on the job for 12-18 hours; transportation and communications were disrupted throughout the region; many people were probably in a state of psychological shock. TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo probably had very little understanding of the situation at the plant, and the government oversight agencies even less. Workers were preoccupied with cooling the reactor cores — I believe they were in the process of introducing seawater to replace the water that had boiled off. In the confusion, the issue of hydrogen buildup seems to have been overlooked. Then, the roof blew off Reactor Building #1.

For all the reasons mentioned above, I can scarcely blame anyone for this particular disaster. As I said, it seems to have been a secondary result of a faulty design that allowed two sequential safety systems to fail for the same cause. But you could also argue that this hydrogen explosion should have been anticipated; after all, they knew they were venting the core, and the system had been designed with the understanding that this venting could release explosive hydrogen. Regardless, it seems inexcusable that the explosion in reactor 1 was followed by explosions in Building 4 (the same day), Building 3 (March 14) and Building 2 (March 15). Given that the possibility of a hydrogen explosion was well-known, not to mention conclusively demonstrated on March 12, it seems to me that some kind of effort should have been undertaken to vent the secondary containment buildings; either by manually opening roof vents, or even sending work crews to remove sections of roof or walls if necessary.

I am harping on this point because, in hindsight, these hydrogen explosions are the primary reason the reactors have not been stabilized, and why there are continuing problems with cooling and with radiation releases. Look at this video of one of the damaged reactor buildings — try to imagine how difficult it must be for workers trying to reestablish lighting, control and cooling systems in this apocalyptic, radioactive landscape of steaming, twisted metal. I would go so far as to say that if it weren’t for the damage caused by these explosions, the reactors would all be under control by this time (as are reactors 5 and 6, which did not suffer explosions).

Tough choices

One possible reason why no attempt was made to ventilate the secondary containment buildings was that this would release a certain amount of radiation. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami, it is understandable that TEPCO managers would be reluctant to do so; in fact, in normal circumstances, a deliberate release would be almost unthinkable, given the sensitivity to any mention of radioactivity that is understandably widespread in the Japanese populace. But my contention is that a deliberate release at this point (to be more precise, it would have had to have been an ongoing release over a week or more) could have prevented the enormous destruction of infrastructure which is currently handicapping the recovery efforts and endangering the workers; infrastructure that, ironically, had survived the earthquake and tsunami intact.

Fukushima: the struggle continues

Posted in Environment on March 26, 2011 by max

The effort to contain the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant underwent a setback yesterday, when high levels of radiation forced workers to vacate reactor building #3. Two workers suffered radiation burns from wading through contaminated water; reportedly, the workers were not wearing protective boots. The BBC reported that turbine halls at reactors 1 and 3 had radiation levels 10,000 times higher than normal. Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency denied that the reactor cores were breached, but admitted that some sort of leakage may have occurred.

Levels of radiation measured in sea water 300m off the coast were eight times higher than a week ago. An NSA spokesman stated that sea life should not be affected, as the radioactive iodine isotope responsible has a half-life of only eight days, but many Japanese remain concerned. It is not clear whether the radioactive material was swept to sea as runoff, or was borne by offshore winds.

Considering the amount of water that workers have been spraying around the plant over the last week in an attempt to keep temperatures in the spent fuel rod pools under control, elevated radiation levels in runoff would hardly be surprising. This could also explain the concentration of radioactive contaminants at low points in the reactor buildings. It is not necessary to presume a breach in the core containment. However, so long as the fuel rod temperatures remain above normal, the danger of meltdown and core breach remains. It is critical that technicians are able to keep working in the reactor buildings to bring control and cooling systems back online. This is the major concern raised by yesterday’s developments: if workers are unable to safely approach the reactor buildings, the status of the damaged reactors, already unstable,  will rapidly deteriorate. Hopefully, as in the case of previous radiation alerts, the workers will be able to resume their valiant efforts after a brief hiatus.

Japan nuclear plant: Radioactivity rises in sea nearby

Fukushima update

Posted in Environment on March 23, 2011 by max

Here is an updated status from BBC News:

  • Reactor 1: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas explosion. Power lines attached.
  • Reactor 2: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage suspected. Power lines attached.
  • Reactor 3: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage possible. Spent fuel pond partly refilled with water after running low. Power lines attached.
  • Reactor 4: Reactor shut down prior to earthquake. Fires and explosion in spent fuel pond; water level partly restored. Power lines attached.
  • Reactors 5 & 6: Reactors shut down. Temperature of spent fuel pools now lowered after rising high. Power lines attached.

Note that power lines have been hooked up to each building. In reactors 5 and 6, they are reported to have successfully brought the cooling systems online. The have brought up power and lighting in the control room for reactor 3, and are planning to try to start the cooling pumps tomorrow.

All of this is good news. The fact that they have accomplished this much is an indication that radiation in the immediate area is not increasing, and gives hope that progress will continue at this pace. It may still be weeks or even months before all of the reactors are stabilized, due to the physical damage to systems and structures; but I would go so far as to say that the possibility of a core meltdown is greatly diminished. Good job.

The Fukushima disaster (part 2)

Posted in Environment on March 19, 2011 by max

I ended part one of this story by describing the destruction caused by the hydrogen explosions in the reactor buildings, and how this must complicate efforts to get the cooling systems operational. I just found this status report on the BBC News site:

  • Reactor 1: Was first to be rocked by an explosion on Saturday; fuel rods reportedly 70% damaged
  • Reactor 2: There are fears a blast on Tuesday breached a containment system; fuel rods reportedly 33% damaged
  • Reactor 3: Explosion on Monday; smoke or steam seen rising on Wednesday; damage to roof and possibly also to a containment system
  • Reactor 4: Hit by a major blaze (possible blast) on Tuesday and another fire on Wednesday

According to the BBC, all four reactor buildings have experienced explosions or fires or both. There are two more reactor buildings on site (total of six), but the other two were offline at the time of the earthquake. These two are also reported to have elevated fuel rod temperatures, but like many of the reports, this is difficult to evaluate — who is measuring these temperatures, and with what instruments?

Desperate measures

Most of us have seen the video of the helicopters attempting to dump water into the spent fuel rod storage pool, located on the upper level of a reactor building. This brings up another dangerous situation, which I haven’t addressed yet. The Fukushima plant stores ”spent” fuel rods in water tanks on the upper floors of the reactor buildings, as well as some in a common pool. The number of these rods dwarfs the number of rods in the actual reactors — over 600,000 rods are stored on site. Each rod consists of around 5kg of uranium oxide pellets, sealed in a zirconium tube — that’s about 3 million kilograms of hot radioactive material outside of the reactor vessels, that must also be submerged in continuously circulating water. Needless to say, the pumps responsible for this circulation are not functioning, either. One of the serious flaws in this reactor design, that has been heavily criticized in the past, is the fact that these storage pools and their support systems are not nearly as robust as the main reactor systems. They are not “hardened” against natural disasters or protected by multiple redundancies. In the case of  Fukushima 1 through 4, it is entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that some or all of these systems were irreparably damaged by the hydrogen explosions. The fact that you have a hole in the roof of the containment building large enough to attempt a helicopter water drop is a pretty good indication that the interior is seriously messed up. And when the official spokesman is reduced to expressing hope that there might possibly be some water left in the storage pool, I think we can assume that if it is not dry now, it is going to be very soon.

What prompted the managers to attempt such low-probability stunts as helicopter drops and water cannons (which would seem to have the same chance of success as trying to fill your neighbor’s backyard pool by blindly tossing water balloons over the fence)? Well, they probably felt they had to do something, considering the alternative. Left to themselves, the spent rods would eventually boil off the remaining water, becoming exposed to air, at which time the temperature would increase enormously. The zirconium casings might even catch on fire (it was speculated that this may have been the source of the fire in building 4); eventually the fuel would melt through the tank and drop through to the lower levels of the building (where it would continue to do damage), all the while releasing high levels of radioactivity, preventing workers from approaching the area and essentially forestalling any mitigation measures. All things considered, squirting water from a distance may have been the only viable option.

What happens next?

The latest reports state that TEPCO workers have succeeded in bringing grid power to Building 2. This is great news, but it is not in itself a solution. The suppression chamber at reactor 2 is reported to have been breached; if true, this will need to be repaired before water flow can be restored to the reactor. Then there is the question of the building utilities — considering all the various types of damage that have been inflicted, starting the pumps is not going to be a simple matter of flipping a switch or resetting breakers. Circuits and pipelines will need to be tested for integrity, computers will need to be rebooted, safety systems reset or even overridden. In the other buildings, which have gross visible structural damage, this task will be even more difficult. One encouraging sign is that the situation has not become obviously worse over the last two days — there have been no new explosions or columns of smoke, or sudden spikes in radiation (although the effective capacity for monitoring radiation at the site has been questioned). My guess is that right now the outcome is still in the balance — they may be starting to get a grip on events, but there is still potential for matters to spiral out of control on several fronts.

Meanwhile, I would like to send a deep bow in the direction of the heroic workers.

Related stories:

Japan steps up moves to cool stricken nuclear reactors

Fukushima Coverup: 40 Years of Spent Nuclear Rods Blown Sky High

Nuclear fuel (Wikipedia)

The Fukushima disaster (part 1)

Posted in Environment on March 18, 2011 by max

Like many people, I have been absorbed in the news reports about the horrifying triple-tragedy in Japan — first, an enormous earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami, and now this continuing crisis with the damaged nuclear power plant. The available information on this latter topic has been sketchy, at best. Some people are blaming the Japanese government or the power company for a “lack of transparency”. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be pointing fingers, considering the overwhelming problems they are facing, but for my own satisfaction I have been trying to piece together a clearer picture of what went wrong, and how these incidents might be prevented in future. After all, the nearest nuclear plant to my location is also situated on the edge of the ocean, near an active fault, so the question is all too germane.

Keeping cool

All the issues at the Fukushima Daiichi plant can be related to a single factor: cooling, or rather, lack of same. A fission plant generates electricity in pretty much the same way as a natural gas or coal plant — it boils water, and the steam is used to turn a turbine, which spins a generator. The difference is,  in the fossil fuel plants, if you shut off the gas valve, or stop shoveling coal, the fire goes out, the water cools down, and you can pretty much walk away. But nuclear fuel rods generate heat via their natural radioactivity — you can dampen the reactor core to shut down the chain reaction, but the fuel stays hot. In the reactors used at Fukushima, the core will be boiling off 60 gallons of water per minute one week after shutdown. So it is imperative that a continuous supply of cool water is circulated through the reactor in order to draw off this heat, for more-or-less the entire life of the plant. In the absence of cooling water, bad things start to happen (can you say meltdown?), which I will get into later. For now, let’s examine this idea that the cooling system cannot be allowed to fail, ever.

Redundancy and more redundancy

First, we have to realize that the power for running the cooling pumps cannot come from the reactor itself. If it did, and you had to shut down the reactor, the turbine, or the generator for either maintenance or an emergency, then you’d immediately be into meltdown mode (no coolant circulation). So that doesn’t work. In our example, the power for the pumps comes from the national electrical grid. Unsurprisingly, highly-developed countries such as Japan or the US consider the grid to be a reliable source of power — except, of course, in the case of a major natural disaster. But TEPCO thought they had that covered, with sufficient diesel-powered generator capacity to run the pumps on all the reactors (and presumably the plant lighting and control functions). To back up the back-up, they also had battery capacity for 8 hours of operation. So far, so good.

An unanticipated sequence of events

It is unclear whether the earthquake itself knocked out power to the plant. Assuming it did, the pumps would have been running on power from the diesel generators when the tsunami hit. Leaving the tsunami aside, the “by the book” scenario would have had TEPCO emergency workers restoring power to the plant as a matter of priority. Given the scale of this particular earthquake, that may have taken days, but in the meantime trucks could deliver diesel fuel to keep the generators running. Potentially there could have been some delays involved with clearing the roads, but there was a certain amount of fuel storage on-site (I haven’t seen a figure for this, yet), and, in the worst case, they could go to batteries overnight. But, as we know, the earthquake was followed within an hour by a massive tsunami which not only drowned the diesel generators but probably severely damaged or destroyed the related infrastructure (power lines, control systems, fuel pipelines and storage tanks). By the following morning the battery power was exhausted, and the water in the reactors began to boil away.

Bad things start to happen

So, what are the adverse consequences of failing to circulate water through the reactor core? The first thing is the water starts to boil, creating steam. But the steam isn’t going anywhere (for instance, to power the turbine) because you can’t afford to let it flow out, since you don’t have any way of replacing the water (since the pumps are down). But that creates pressure, and eventually you have to release some of it to avoid blowing up the reactor vessel. So you are forced to vent some steam into the secondary containment structure. There are a few problems with this. One is that the steam contains traces of radioactive elements, but it’s not like you’re releasing it into the environment (not yet). The second is that the steam also contains hydrogen gas (the heat of the nuclear fuel breaks water vapor into hydrogen and oxygen; apparently this process is catalyzed or otherwise exacerbated by the zirconium casings on the fuel rods). Hydrogen gas is explosive (think Hindenburg disaster). Now the secondary containment is designed to deal with this situation — it is equipped with air pumps, filters and scrubbers that can capture the radioactive trace elements and the hydrogen gas — except for the fact that the power is out and none of this equipment is operational. Oops. The monitoring instruments that would inform the operators of a hydrogen build-up are also off-line.

Out of control

Up to this point nothing irreversible has occurred. If the power suddenly came back up, we’d soon be back to normal, with no permanent harm done. But unfortunately, events at Fukushima took a different turn. The first clue that something was seriously wrong at the complex occurred when one of the reactor buildings suffered a hydrogen explosion. The news reports stressed that this was not a nuclear explosion, and that the reactor containment was not breached. But what had happened was bad enough. The images clearly showed severe damage to the upper portion of the reactor building — gaping holes in the walls and roof, piles of twisted metal debris, and an ominous cloud of smoke. In my opinion, this was the critical event in the sequence of failures.

Prior to the explosion, full plant operation could have been restored by the flick of a switch. Now, it is impossible to say — it is conceivable that nothing can be done to prevent a full meltdown. This is a more pessimistic position than we have been hearing in the media, but I am finding it difficult to imagine how the situation can be quickly turned around. Look at the wreckage of the reactor building — even if TEPCO manages to hook up grid power, as they are attempting today, it seems unlikely that many of the building utility systems could remain functional. Lighting, control, monitoring and plumbing have all been massively damaged, at least insofar as the secondary containment and spent fuel storage functions are concerned (the reactor vessel and its systems can’t be seen). Debris removal, damage control, structural repair and systems replacement will have to be performed before full function can be restored, and all of this will necessarily be attempted in the dark (no lighting), in a structurally unstable environment choked with debris and subject to radiation leaks and further explosions, by exhausted workers hampered by rad suits and the absence of heavy equipment and power tools. My understanding is that this description applies to three of the reactor buildings as of Friday morning.

The situation of the plant workers is equivalent to that of a smoke jumper whose pumper has just been overrun by a fast-moving forest fire, leaving him standing downwind with a shovel and a bucket. He’s game, and he knows his business, but he doesn’t have anything to work with.

(to be continued)

Traitor to the planet!

Posted in Environment on December 2, 2010 by max

That sounds pretty melodramatic, but I think it’s actually a pretty good description of Bjorn Lomborg. If you haven’t been paying attention, that’s the fellow responsible for the current feature film “Cool It”, which purports to be a scientific rebuttal to Al Gore’s allegedly overstated “An Inconvenient Truth”. This new film has been getting reviewed along the lines of “OK, that’s seems reasonable, or at least it’s a plausible alternative viewpoint.” I’m here to say, emphatically, “No!”

Without quibbling about details (including whether I have I seen the film or read his book), I am going to summarize his position on the issue as follows: Yes, there is scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. But it’s not as bad as this Gore fellow makes out. In fact, there’s no reason to panic, or even to change anything at all. Let’s just see how this thing plays out. Maybe it will be a blessing in disguise. At any rate, human technology can deal with it when the time comes.

Sound reasonable? That’s what he’s counting on. In fact, what he is doing is providing a fig leaf of “scientific” skepticism (as opposed to  clearly anti-scientific denial), that in effect entirely justifies the policies of the most fervent climate change deniers (you know who they are — oil company execs, coal state senators, Republican congressmen). Basically, he is leveraging whatever scientific credibility he might have in order to become the darling of the status quo. There are always those who are willing to sell out their professional integrity for fame, wealth, or power, and this might be merely a particularly egregious example, except for the fact that the stakes are so high, and the consequences so serious.

Look at it this way: suppose Lomborg is right, but we ignore him, and do everything we can to reduce carbon emissions. We wind up (eventually, hopefully) with a carbon-neutral economy, and we’re set for the next few centuries, at the cost of some corporate profits in the short term (and those mostly associated with old-line energy companies; while at the same time, entrepeneurial alternative energy companies are booming). No big harm done, and the petroleum economy was already on its way out (see: peak oil).

Now suppose we listen to him, but it turns out Al Gore was right (or even half right). We’re totally f**ked. Crops fail. Millions are displaced by rising sea levels. Taxes go through the roof to pay for massive infrastructure projects (seawalls, dams, macroengineering mitigation schemes). The economy collapses as oil runs out. Will Lomborg (or James Inhofe) step up and take responsibility for this mess? Ha.

One more point I would like to make, that I think is generally overlooked in this discussion: it isn’t all about us humans. As a species, we have the capability to mitigate the effects of climate — we have been doing it since the last ice age, and it is what has enabled us to spread out across the planet like so many ADD cockroaches. The effects of climate change are already being felt by other denizens of this planet; among the more significantly affected are corals, conifers, and amphibians. The Lomborgs of this world are apparently unconcerned about the fate of the odd cuttlefish or wolverine — after all, that can’t possibly affect their comfortable urban lifestyles. But of course, they are entirely missing the big picture.

Human civilization is made possible by “free” ecosystem services, providing both the water we drink and the air we breathe (among other things). The ecosystems that provide these services (upland forests, rain forests, oceanic plankton populations, to name a few) are not immutable or permanent; they have changed many times over the long history of the planet. But here’s the catch: the global human population is adapted to the specific conditions that have existed over the last twenty thousand years or so, and civilized humanity to an even more recent set of conditions. In the long term, if prairies become deserts, and tundra becomes prairie, species will migrate and adapt. But in the span of a human lifetime, this kind of change would be enormously disruptive, both for humans and wildlife. It’s not like you could just uproot the entire agricultural infrastructure of the American great plains and teleport it to the Yukon. And vegetation cannot migrate tens of miles per year to track a changing climate.

The mere change from winter snowstorms to winter rains in the Sierra Nevada would severely impact the carrying capacity of the state of California. Massive winter flooding would displace millions; summer droughts would devastate agriculture and cause water rationing in the cities. A similar change in the Himalayas would be even more catastrophic, affecting billions of people. How would Lomborg propose to “mitigate” disruption on this scale? The fact is, he is prepared to accept billions of starving Asians in the near future, in order to protect his lifestyle over the next ten or twenty years (and good luck with that).

In other words, he’s a total douchebag.