July 1997 Vol. XIV, No. 4





Meeting the energy needs of the twenty-first century will require innovation. But innovation cannot be conjured up by rubbing Aladdin's lamp. Nor can the needed developments be specified in advance by a prestigious committee.

On the contrary, ``technological innovation and market-driven changes imply unpredictable opportunities and changes,'' stated S.S. Penner, Ph.D., speaking at the recent DDP meeting in San Diego.

Dr. Penner was chosen by Dr. Teller as the recipient of the 1997 Edward Teller Award because of his ingenious work on missile technology. Because he was unable to be present, Dr. Teller made the award presentation by videotape.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) statement that carbon dioxide emissions could be decreased without harming American living standards is easy to endorse, Dr. Penner said-but only if the policy options include technology such as passively safe nuclear reactors and fuel-cell systems for urban transportation. (If CO2 emissions are the primary consideration, Dr. Penner mentions battery-powered electric vehicles with nuclear reactors serving as the primary energy source instead of fuel cells.) An actual decrease in the use of electricity is unlikely to be without economic harm: GDP and electricity use are tightly coupled.

Improved efficiency can be only a small part of the answer. The ratio of GDP to energy use increased by a factor of about 1.5 from 1973 to 1995, but only by a factor of 1.05 from 1986 to 1995, implying that the easy improvements were made rapidly and further gains will be much harder to achieve. The U.S. has already reached a much higher efficiency level than nations that would not be constrained by proposed restrictions on CO2 emissions. In Shanghai, for example, CO2 emissions are projected to reach levels about 6 times larger per unit of GDP than current US averages.

The development of renewable energy resources has lagged far behind hoped-for goals. Dr. Penner includes in this category the gas-cooled breeder reactor and fusion reactors (never referred to by the UCS). Neither solar electricity generation nor geothermal energy recovery has reached full-scale implementation. The desired decrease in cost of solar generation from $10/Watt to as little as $0.33/Watt remains a paper wish despite a generation of serious effort with significant government support in many countries.

As for recycling, Dr. Penner notes that the construction of a dedicated plutonium burner (to make use of the accumulated 250 tons of weapons-grade plutonium and 1000 tons of reactor-grade plutonium) could be accomplished at a cost equal to a very small fraction of the value of the electricity output.

There are compelling reasons for biomass utilization, Dr. Penner thinks, but he notes that a highly successful entrepreneurial company concerned exclusively with the subject vanished overnight when government subsidies ended. Sustainability of biomass production without soil-nutrient replacement has been problematic in all areas studied.

Meeting IPCC levels of CO2 reduction and assuring the economic well-being of upwards of 10 billion people worldwide by 2050 without large central fossil-fuel or nuclear power stations appears to be a ``Fata Morgana based on wishful thinking, hypothetical technological innovations, unwarranted extrapolations, and a celebration of the sustainability doctrine,'' Dr. Penner concluded.


[Copies of Dr. Penner's lecture, ``United States Energy Supplies for the 21st Century'' are available on request. It will also be included in the forthcoming CD-ROM with tapes and selected scanned written materials from the past several meetings.]


The state of innovation in ballistic missile defenses was discussed by Dr. Robert Jastrow, who is President of the Mount Wilson Institute and the George C. Marshall Institute. The one bright note is that the Israeli Arrow hit its target dead on in two recent tests. But the state of American programs remains dismal. The army's THAAD interceptor has failed three times in three tests.

Meanwhile, progress marches on in China, where decoys are being developed. The only counter to decoys or cluster munitions is a boost-phase intercept, which the Clinton Administration refuses to permit, to the delight of the Russians, who have nevertheless abandoned their no-first-use pledge. Additionally, the Russian command has now gone to a ``Launch on Warning'' policy. A warning has already occurred: in January, 1995, a Norwegian atmospheric research rocket triggered a conference of Yeltsin and the national command. Technology also marches forward in Russia. No less than 26 ICBMs have been launched in the past six years. The SS-25 is being replaced with the new Topol M, and a new version of nuclear missile submarines is scheduled for 2002.

[Dr. Jastrow's written comments are also available.]


While the world has been fascinated by the adventures of a little robot vehicle on Mars, the real visionaries contemplate going to the Red Planet themselves. Not 50 years from now, but soon and at an affordable cost. Robert Zubrin presented an update on the Mars Direct program. His book, The Case for Mars, covers a broad field: nuclear thermal engines, Mars cars, making propellant on Mars, emigration to Mars, and even selling real estate on Mars.

[A limited number of copies of The Case for Mars can still be purchased from DDP at a reduced price of $20 plus $3 shipping and handling.]




In recognition of her courageous stand for scientific truth, Dr. Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics received the Petr Beckmann award. Dr. Baliunas delivered a devastating critique of the global warming hoax.

The cost of meeting treaty targets for the reduction of CO2 concentrations, which would continue to increase even if emissions are stabilized, would be to cut emissions by 80%. One way to do this would be to forego 28% of our electrical production (half of the 55% generated by coal), which would mean a 28% decrease in GDP. During the Great Depression, GDP declined by 10%. However, this U.S. sacrifice would fail to stabilize global emissions because by 2025, China will be burning about four times as much coal as the United States does now.

Like all good scientists, Dr. Baliunas asks about the consequences of being wrong. On global warming, the cost of delaying draconian emission cuts for decades, pending more data, would be trivial, according to the IPCC's own model.

The attitude of the global warming advocates is far different. When shown that all observations so far are incompatible with the global warming hypothesis, James Hansen asserted that something must be wrong with the data.

[Dr. Baliunas's most compelling slide, showing that IPCC authors deliberately omitted temperature data that contradicted their hypothesis, is reprinted in the July issue of Access to Energy. (Subscriptions are available for $35 per year, PO Box 1250, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523.)]




In a nationwide series of conferences sponsored by the U.S. Dept of the Interior and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, economic and environmental impacts of climate change (the occurrence of which appears to be a given) will be discussed. The Southwest Regional Climate Change Symposium will be held in Tucson September 3-5. A Web Workshop is at [].

The Society for Environmental Truth (SET) has invited scientists of opposing views (including Ben Santer and Sallie Baliunas) to a workshop to be held at a hotel in Tucson in November (probably Nov. 11). Call 520-519-0430 for information.


DDP, 1601 N. Tucson Blvd. #9, Tucson, AZ 85716, (520)325-2680.