The Dim-Post

April 4, 2011

Chart of the day, sexy but deadly edition

Filed under: climate change — danylmc @ 12:45 pm

Sourced from here. The fatality rate of renewable sources like wind and hydro aren’t included, but they’re smaller than nuclear by a significant margin.

The National government’s energy strategy has been accidentally released. It’s online here. They list twelve ‘areas of focus’: the first is: develop petroleum and mineral fuel resources. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is last on the list.

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39 Comments »

  1. Hmmmm, I wonder if the deaths from nuclear power include the intergenerational effects of radiation poisoning?

    It always seemsi as though nuclear advocates forget how long radioactive isotopes hang around…

    Comment by Philoff — April 4, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  2. Yeah, it’s hard to quantify “deaths per watt” for nuclear energy when the timeframe during which deaths may occur is tens of thousands of years long.

    Comment by SHG — April 4, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  3. Coal doesn’t kill people, people kill people.

    Comment by George D — April 4, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

  4. Love the headline for this post. It appears that coal is definitely still sexy.

    Comment by Mark Dittmer — April 4, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  5. If we must accept deaths from oil and coal.. at least let it be “our” oil and coal.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 4, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  6. I would have thought Hydro may have been larger than Nuclear – e.g. a burst dam devastating the towns below.

    That being said, at least a burst dam doesn’t cause the affected area to be unliveable for a few hundred generations.

    Comment by Chris S — April 4, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  7. If you look at the source, hydro is 2.5 times more deadly than nuclear, if you exclude the Banquiao dam collapse. If you include those 170,000 people, it’s, um, 35 times worse.

    Comment by Tim — April 4, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  8. don’t we already have #4 on the strategy list?
    surely the market reforms of past years have achieved this already

    Comment by amc32 — April 4, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

  9. “The fatality rate of renewable sources like wind and hydro aren’t included, but they’re smaller than nuclear by a significant margin.”

    Eh? Am I misreading the table:

    Hydro – world incl Banqiao 1.4
    Wind 0.15
    Hydro – europe 0.10
    Nuclear 0.04

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 4, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  10. Lots of pictures of wind turbines
    not one of a coal or gas power station
    so it must be okay

    Comment by Roger Parkinson — April 4, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  11. I think if we were to calcualte the deaths per watt of water and wind generated power, we should include those deaths caused by floods, storms, hurricanes, and general drowning.At first glance, they appear unrelated, but are ultimately important as factors of past research into the mechanics of this natural phenomena.

    Comment by Bed Rater — April 4, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  12. Green energy breakthroughs coming faster and faster:

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-03-29/

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 4, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  13. “don’t we already have #4 on the strategy list?
    surely the market reforms of past years have achieved this already”

    I would have gone further and said we’d also proved that #4 and #6 are mutually exclusive.

    Comment by greg — April 4, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  14. If you’re going to continue to rely heavily on oil and coal (as apparently we will) you’d better get used to floods, storms, hurricanes etc, not to mention no more coral reefs, an ice-free planet, 50m sea level rise and much, much more besides! http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/4degrees/index.php

    Comment by Neil — April 4, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  15. If you count the actual death rate from nuclear rather than the propaganda rate it’s not actually that good. The “official” death toll from Chernobyl is “under 4000, eventually”, but the excess deaths in the surrounding area since the accident are at least an order of magnitude higher.

    The great thing about nuclear deaths is that they’re so rarely direct. It’s like smoking or asbestos – the process is slow and relies heavily on complex statistics which makes it extremely easy to fudge the figures. So yes, few people died in ways that are provably a direct result of the reactor accident. Even the excess deaths number is problematic, because no-one lives in the exclusion zone any more so there’s less people to die. But the people who were there during the accident are not being tracked well if at all, so we don’t have a clear idea of how many of them have died, or of what.

    On the one hand you have the 20-year retrospective by the WHO with the 4000 death headline (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html) but buried in the detail is a lot of “we didn’t count…”. The Guardian has a few other estimates (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/mar/25/energy.ukraine) ranging from under 10,000 to half a million.

    Comment by Moz — April 4, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

  16. Moz – is this not true for coal and oil as well? They both seem quite a bit like smoking or asbestos as well…

    Comment by James — April 4, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  17. My understanding is that wind power has a shockingly high casualty rate of around 200 times that of nuclear per unit of energy. Most of it is attributable to workers falling off the giant towers while building the turbines or maintaining them. Blade failure can be nasty too, with bits of blade sailing up to 1.3km in failures overseas. Turbines are built in scenic areas like Makara with walkers and cyclists in close proximity, but they really should have a cordon with a radius of a couple of kilometers around them.

    Comment by davidp — April 4, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  18. Note that the figures are global, and they’re skewed a lot by China, where coal provides most electricity and where safety and environmental standards are lacking to say the least. Coal is environmentally horrible but not necessarily more horrible than oil.

    Comment by bradluen — April 4, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  19. Comments of the day on the Nats energy strategy on my facebook:
    “You too can have a coal mine in your backyard! with the govt’s new energy strategy…”
    “Govt releases new energy strategy – so backward looking I’m surprised they’re not advocating we use whale oil.”

    Comment by LucyJH — April 4, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  20. James: even more so for coal and oil in many ways. The question of how many people will die from AGW is an entertaining one, albeit not very easy to answer. And again, there’s a wealthy and powerful lobby trying very hard to pretend the problem does not exist.

    One thing that confuses this is that we’re talking about large-scale generation only. Despite the inclusion of home PV and wind in some estimates, no-one is trying to pretend that the headline deaths should include those from microhydro or those little petrol-powered generators so beloved of campervan operators. I’m sure that if there was such a thing as backyard nuclear power plants that industry would be trying very hard to exclude micro generators from the numbers. But since there’s not they try to slip them in wherever they can.

    Comment by Moz — April 4, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  21. “Govt releases new energy strategy – so backward looking I’m surprised they’re not advocating we use whale oil.”

    I know Cameron Slater is a large unit but that large?

    Comment by TerryB — April 4, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  22. Ok. What part of “tap water too toxic for consumption” don’t you people understand?

    Comment by Philoff — April 4, 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  23. It would be nice if someone could find a use for cameron slater.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 4, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  24. “Most of it is attributable to workers falling off the giant towers while building the turbines or maintaining them. Blade failure can be nasty too, with bits of blade sailing up to 1.3km in failures overseas.”
    People falling off I believe. But being killed by a flying piece of wind turbine blade? Sounds like it would be pretty rare. Even if you are close to a turbine when it happens you’d have to be pretty unlucky to be actual hit by a piece – unless they have built in people-seeking technology. I’m sure being killed by a falling coconut is much more likely, perhaps we need cordons around coconut trees?

    Comment by wtl — April 4, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  25. Do the oil fatalities include those that were killed in the civil/global wars that decide who makes the money out of it?

    Comment by Seamonkey Madness — April 4, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  26. “The fatality rate of renewable sources like wind and hydro aren’t included, but they’re smaller than nuclear by a significant margin.”

    Pfffft, until you fly into a wind turbine on your microlight…

    Comment by Conor Roberts — April 4, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  27. This chart is very anti-green. You haven’t included all the dead birds from wind farm blade strikes, and all the dead canaries from coal mines and all the dead albatrosses around the necks of ratepayers.

    Comment by ZenTiger — April 5, 2011 @ 12:57 am

  28. Annual deaths from coal pollution – 300,000
    Annual deaths from AIDS – 3,100,000
    Annual deaths from starvation (mostly children) – 11,000,000

    Coal vs Nuclear seems like a bit of a #firstworldproblem when you put it in perspective..

    Comment by gazzaj — April 5, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  29. gazzaj: “Annual deaths from starvation (mostly children) – 11,000,000″

    Source?

    Comment by bradluen — April 5, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  30. Gazza: Smoking kills more people annually worldwide than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined. We don’t seem to be doing a whole lot about that either.

    Comment by Simon Poole — April 5, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  31. Despite the black boxes, deaths per watt is a very poor surrogate for actual harm from any energy source, because some installations may be safe and efficient and others toxic and ineffective. The mission should be to use any energy efficiently, thus providing more value to the consumer, providing more revenue for sources to move to best environmental/safety practices, and reducing overall need for more energy sources.

    Unfortunately, as the recent debacle about wholesale electricity prices during a scheduled outage showed, the whole supply chain is motivated by maximum watts to consumer for maximum profit by each link in the chain, coupled to disincentives for consumers to economise, such as fixed line charges unrelated to MegaJoules delivered.

    It’s easy to reduce demand for energy, as it just takes some consumer lifestyle changes, combined with rational financial incentives. If good behaviour has to be imposed, then having the air force rearmed and tasked with taking out single occupant SUVs at random could be more entertaining than taxation.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — April 5, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  32. Bruce
    Or shoot down the planes carrying thousands of climate change folks to holiday spots around the world every year

    Comment by Adam — April 5, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  33. Thanks for pointing this out. It led me to question my blanket anti-nuclear instincts and look for some science. I found radiation exposure is not nearly as catastrophic as I feared.

    The National Academies study
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11340 (the summary is free)

    The Japan-US Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivor study
    http://www.rerf.jp/index_e.html (the first PDF)

    However, the potential risk from nuclear war and terrorist attacks could be huge (but kind of a different issue).

    Comment by Tobias — April 5, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  34. Do our national parks have any Thorium deposits?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/is-thorium-the-answer-to-our-energy-crisis-428279.html

    Comment by Tobias — April 5, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  35. Thorium-bearing Minerals in New Zealand
    W. R. B. MARTIN
    Victoria University College, P.O. Box 196, Wellington, N.Z.
    Nature 178, 1476 (29 December 1956); doi:10.1038/1781476a0

    IN the course of a comprehensive study of the opaque mineral sands of New Zealand, the occurrence of thorium-containing minerals of medium density has been noted in the Westport area. Dr. C. O. Hutton, of Stanford University, California, has identified the principal minerals responsible as thorium-bearing sphene and the epidote allanite (private communication).
    Ref…Nicholson, D. S. , Ilmenite Deposits, in N.Z. Dominion Laboratory Circular (1949).

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — April 5, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  36. “Or shoot down the planes carrying thousands of climate change folks to holiday spots around the world every year”

    Win

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 5, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  37. Wind farms- 996 accidents 67 fatalities so far.

    Comment by Redbaiter — April 6, 2011 @ 1:25 am

  38. Redbaiter: I answered on your site and I’ll say the same thing here; if you cast the net that wide for a definition of wind farm fatalities, you should do the same for nuclear. Who knows how many concrete trucks were involved in accidents on the way to the construction site?

    For everyone else: These are the sources Redbaiter cites. Take a look for yourself.
    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/page4.htm
    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/fullaccidents.pdf

    Comment by Simon Poole — April 6, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  39. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/05/anti-nuclear-lobby-misled-world

    George Monbiot discovers that the left lie. Whats next? Will he discover the world hasnt warmed for 30 years?
    Nice graph here from the UAH series on Nasa’s Aqua Satellite system measuring temps in the troposphere.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/05/global-temperature-still-headed-down-uah-negative-territory/#more-37362

    Comment by David — April 6, 2011 @ 6:18 pm


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