“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is China a Paper Dragon?

China: It's Not As Big As You Think

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Competition: The common wisdom is that China's large and fast-growing economy could overtake the U.S. as soon as 2012. Not so fast. New data suggest China's not quite as big as economists once thought.

Related Topics: East Asia & Pacific

The World Bank's latest estimates for the global economy contained a stunner of a statistic: China accounts for just under 10% of the world's total output — or about 40% smaller than thought.

At $5.3 trillion based on 2005 data, China's economy is still No. 2. But it has considerably more ground to make up before passing the U.S. in absolute size — if, in fact, it should ever do so. Total world output in 2005 was $55 trillion. The U.S. produced $12.4 trillion of that — with a population only one-fourth the size of China's.

How did these new data come about? The World Bank uses what's called Purchasing Power Parities — PPP for short — to figure how big an economy is. Basically, it surveys a market basket of some 1,000 goods and services, and sees how much of each people in those countries can actually buy in their own currency.

Doing this around the world, the bank discovered that 12 economies make up more than two-thirds of the world's GDP. Seven of those are so-called high-income economies — the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain.

Five are "transitional" economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called "BRICs") plus Mexico. Together, they make up about 20% of output.

But the one that sticks out is China. World Bank statisticians got access to real data on China for the first time ever, and came away surprised. "The previous, less reliable, methods led to estimates (of China's GDP) . . . 40% larger than the results of the new, improved methods and benchmark," the World Bank report said.

This should be a lesson for those who take international statistics at face value. Anytime you're off by 40%, it's more than a rounding error. It's a big mistake — largely China's fault, since it wouldn't let anyone accurately measure its economy before.

And this is of more than just statistical interest. It means, for instance, that there are likely more than 300 million Chinese who live below the World Bank's $1-a-day poverty line — not the 100 million previously estimated.

This helps explain why China's communist regime still cracks down hard on any manifestations of dissent — contrary to its PR of China as the land of perpetual economic boom. It knows how bad things really are in the undeveloped hinterlands.

It also calls into question China's financial ability to support a massive military buildup to challenge the U.S. Dollarwise, the country just won't have the money — at least not yet. And besides, it should be spending that money on development — not arms.

This doesn't mean China's economy isn't growing fast. It is. Nor does it mean China isn't a potential U.S. rival, both economically and militarily. Again, it is.

But to us, this smacks a bit of the CIA's faulty analysis of the Soviet threat in the 1950s and '60s. Back then, there were no good real-world data issued by the Soviets. So economics analysts fell back on the tried and true: toting up Soviet output using satellites, secret cameras and other means to count the raw number of trucks and trains leaving factories during a given month, then comparing it with the same month a year earlier. If a factory had 100 train cars leave its doors one year, and the next year it had 110, it was assumed that the plant's output expanded by at least 10%. Not a bad assumption — but a wrong one.

For while the Soviets churned out massive amounts of goods, their quality was suspect. Box cars could be filled with shoddy, virtually unusable goods intended to meet state quotas. But we pretended that output was the same as ours.>


  1. They're all running dog capitalists as far as I can see, exploiters of the working class. Pay scale on a par with industrializing Manchester, England, 1850. Bad actors, doomed to historical footnotes.

  2. PPP stats need to be taken with a Big Grain of Salt, also. They make many assumptions that wouldn't be accepted in the "real" world. They can end up finding "equivalence" between, say, a Chinese Cherry, and a Honda Civic - or, a John Deere Harvester, and one made in Russia.

    I, also, think they probably have a hard time with "Intellectual" Capital. You end up equating auto mechanics, and automotive Engineers. Jes Sayin

  3. Sounds a lot like that NIE reevaluation of Iran.

    Whatever the need be, politically, we can get Intel to fit that need.

    Accurate in every case, too.

    If the Chinese are not booming, and the Iranians are not going nuclear weapons capable, who is the enemy that we need those F22s and the F35s for?

    Or did all the F15s just happen to wear out, in time to be speedily replaced?

    It's interesting to see who the new boogie men are, as time goes by.

    This day and age we're living in
    Gives cause for apprehension
    With speed and new invention
    And things like fourth dimension.
    Yet we get a trifle weary
    With Mr. Einstein's theory.
    So we must get down to earth at times
    Relax relieve the tension

    And no matter what the progress
    Or what may yet be proved
    The simple facts of life are such
    They cannot be removed.

    You must remember this
    A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
    The fundamental things apply
    As time goes by.

    And when two lovers woo
    They still say, "I love you."
    On that you can rely
    No matter what the future brings
    As time goes by.

  4. Now, amigos, here is an interesting point that may provide a talking point to the accuracy of this report.

    The Top 12 countries, US to Mexico.
    Two of the North American Union prospects.

    So I think, but what of Canada?
    Well a quick trip to the CIA tells US that:
    Mexico has a GDP, PPP adjusted of $1.14 Trillion. Non adjusted, based upon exchange rates $743.5 Billion USD

    Spain GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.109 trillion (2006 est.)
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $1.084 trillion (2006 est.)

    Both of these countries are listed a 2% of Global Economy, in the top 12 by the IBD editorial

    But what of Canada?
    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $1.181 trillion (2006 est.)
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $1.089 trillion (2006 est.)
    Higher in both real and adjusted terms than both Spain or Mexico, but not listed at all.

    The prospective North American Union countries account for 27% of the Global economy.

    But the article is not accurate or the CIA cannot be trusted.

  5. Keep in mind that it was PPP calculations that the CIA used to place the USSR's GDP on a level with ours only a year before the Collapse.

  6. But how much of that was poitical expediency, the need for a "strong" enemy, by the "professionals" at the CIA.

    I tend to think there is a lot of politics in each of these assessments.

    In this case by the editors of the IBD, or Mexico would not be listed, while Canada ignored.

    Massaging the data to prove their point, which none of us would ever do ;)

  7. I trust statistics about half the time, and "economic analysis," Never.

    CIA, WSJ, IBD - all samey same. I'd be more likely to listen to the old man down at the pool hall.

  8. I agree Rat, for some reason, a mistake or otherwise they omitted Canada from the graph. But isn't that a side issue. The point was that China's economic might has been vastly overrated (btw - so has India's).

    Apparently IBD and Rufus see eye-to-eye on the failings of the CIA.

    The cynical questions raised about motives behind these ratings and release of the information are valid and troubling to those of us who already question the decisions and actions of our elites.

  9. I have a funny story: I had to make this trip to Moscow and meet with a group of communist party executives who were all trying to set up their own scams as the Soviet Union was coming apart in pieces. To a man they all blamed the impending demise on the Chernobyl meltdown and scoffed at my idea that Reagan did it.

    We had to get special internal visas to take an overnight train to a truly miserable military and industrial city called Tambov. When we arrived, the hotel was a nightmare, the entire area a wreck and we were toured through some of the larger factories to see what was available for privatization.

    That evening over vodka and Armenian cognac toasts they asked me what I thought of the Soviet Industrial might. I thought a second, and through my interpreter, said, "The CIA was a lying sack of shit." We all had a very good laugh for obvious reasons. No once could have mistaken what we saw that day for an industrial might equivalent to the West.

  10. It was probably more funny at the time as I re-read it. The cognac probably helped.

  11. hmm, Cognac sounds good. Excuse me for a minute. :)

  12. I agree with 'Rat:
    Just as the Govt will tell us inflation is X, when anyone that can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and also shops for themself, knows better.
    ..."oh, we just left out oil, too volatile, who needs it anyway?"

    And CANADA!
    I've been blown away by their oil wealth and wondering wtf is happening to it.
    Some folks obviously have a reason to keep it hidden.
    And China is growing at what?
    What is the doubling time on that, I forget the easy rule of 72, or I just can't believe the answer.

  13. When that plane crashed in Brazil, they said the traffic at that airport had doubled in 5 years!
    ...I guess Brazil will be moving smartly through the pack, as time goes by.

  14. Think about this: China's problem is that their economy is too small to absorb an, approx., $300 Billion/Yr Profit from Trade. Our economy allocates that much infusion about every 12 to 15 days.

    There's no way in the world their economy is 44% the size of ours. PPP strikes again.

  15. It is a sidebar issue, certainly, that Canada was omitted, but it raises the issue of accuracy for the rest of the data. Especially it's analysis.

    My Asian experience is limited to Korea, in 1984.
    Wiki says of South Korea:

    now the 3rd largest economy in Asia and the 11th largest economy in the world. In the late 20th century, many people referred to South Korea as a Newly industrialized country and an Asian Tiger due to its rapid economic growth. Today, South Korea forms the G20 industrial nations and is a Next Eleven nation with many developing countries referring to its economic success as the "Miracle on the Han River", using South Korea's success story as a role model. South Korea has a "High" HDI of 0.912 and is both part of the CIA and IMF list of advanced economies, being defined as a High Income Nation by the World Bank.

    It was not the most poverty stricken place I had ever visited, but was not at all comparable to Scottsdale or Cave Creek, AZ.

    People drove industrial strength roto-tillers attached to wagons, and they were quite proud of them.

    I recall that the Hyundais were beginning to arrive in Arizona in around 1986 or so, the fanciest car in their Korean inventory hit the US, and was considered kind of a joke.

    I can assume the same of China.

    The IBD article does not mention Korea, either:
    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $1.196 trillion (2006 est.)
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $897.4 billion (2006 est.)

    Though the CIA puts them in the hunt, too.
    The IBD using the World Bank as a source, which tells US what, about the World Bank ...

    More so than what it may mean about IBD, I'd bet.

  16. Oops, now I've dropped a zero. I'm in an apple - to - oranges scenario, here.

    Anyway, any economy that can't put that much profit to work isn't anywhere near 44% as large as ours.

  17. Seoul today is a far cry from when you were there 'Rat, just as today's Hyundai is compared to '86.

  18. Somehow, more than 50% of non-food items we buy today are made by Chi-coms.

  19. What, they should not have had pride in their Roto-tillers?

    That's what's wrong with this country!
    We have no pride in our selfless public servants like Harry and Nancy!
    Shame on us!

  20. 50%? Doug, that seems a bit high.

  21. Of course, I guess you could buy a barbie doll, a GI Joe, and a Cadillac, and say that 2/3 of the items you bought were from China.

  22. I am sure that is true, doug.
    Happily so, for both US and them.

    Another US success story.

    But where is China, compared to Korea in 1986? That was the theme I was exploring.

    When I looked into importing the go-karts and motorcycles from China, the largest displacement engine allowed in China, for domestic sale, was 250cc.

    I would wager that any auto built in China is closer to that 1986 Hyundai than to the 2007 Hyundai.

    Just based upon their domestic needs and consumption. The Hyundai that was originally imported to the US was their "top of the line" at the time, based upon the supplies and demands of the Korean market. They had a whole range of products that they did not even contemplate exporting, but served their needs well.

    As I'm sure China has now. A whole range of junk, built for domestic use in China

  23. They should have been proud of those roto-tillers, but if I was driving one to the Maverick Saloon, in Cave Creek, I'd have been goin' home alone, no matter how much I thought of my roto-tiller and wagon.

    A whole different set of Standards.

  24. They (the Chinese) had one car they wanted to export to Europe (I wish I could remember the name of it) that got *No Stars.* None . . . Zippo . . . Nada . . . . Nyet

    I think they took it back home (in a box) for "Redesign." :)

  25. Parsing China's Trade Surplus

    What's driving China's trade surplus?
    The big driver isn't on the export side but on the import side. Export growth fell a bit, but import growth was barely half what it was in 2004, so there has been this ballooning of the trade surplus.

    Based on the data available so far, it looks like the biggest decline in imports is in machinery and equipment. Parts and components that go into export processing are still growing at 25% to 30% annually. But machinery and equipment is running at about a third the rate of 2004 -- that's to say at 10% rather than the 30%-plus growth seen in 2004. So what we're seeing in 2005 was some slowing in the pace of domestic investment.

    This comes against the background, you'll recall, of investment growth that began to accelerate in 2002 through early 2004. Then the government got worried about excess investment and overheating, so they started to put the brakes on the economy. This is evidence that the measures they took are starting to bite.

    What are the strongest export sectors?
    The big drivers of export growth have continued to be information technology, electronics, and telecom. Those have been the big drivers for the past few years, and it continued in '05.

  26. The Indians are making a $2,500 (!) dollar car, I think.
    Probly what's in store for the Chery.
    Like Ford, so they can buy the car they build.
    Unlike early America, their food might as well be grown in the sewer farm.

  27. I'll betcha you guys ain't never pulled one of These behind a Ford Tractor.

  28. Chery Automobile -

    2003 to present
    In 2003, Chery founded a research and development organization, and began working with foreign consultant firms to improve its technology and quality. Chery hired a Japanese engineer from Mitsubishi to head Chery's Lean/Six Sigma production systems, which were first applied to their cars in 2003. They adopted DURR Paint Systems in their paint shop in 2004, becoming one of only 5 factories in the world to have this advanced paint system. SAIC sold its stake back to Chery in 2004 due to rising tension between Chery and its other partners General Motors and Volkswagen

    In 2005, Chery was upgraded to ISO/TS 16949:2002 production quality, the highest and strictest quality control system in the global auto industry.

    Chery Ramping Up a lot Quicker than Hyundai, or anyone else ever did.

  29. Ain't that what we do here at the Elephant, Rufus?

  30. That's interesting information on Chinese Imports, Doug. It's got me thinking.

    :( Boy, that's Hard.

  31. The Chi-Coms are much more efficient:
    The Chickens, Ducks, and Pigs and Oxen spread it directly, by themselves.

    Sometimes requires a small spritz of water (contaminated) on the lettuce leaves to get it back to green.

  32. Never re-examine any of your preconceptions, Rufus, and you'll find it easier:
    Just ask Trish.
    Assuming she'll answer a pile of vomit.

  33. Ain't that what we do here at the Elephant, Rufus?

    What? Drive Ford Tractors?

    chuckle, chuckle :)

  34. You'd lose, rufus.

    Though it was a gray market Kobota, not a Ford

  35. My analogy, Doug, might be that they bought the equipment to make the road, but didn't have anyone to build the store at the end of it.

  36. btw,
    Corsi has tape of his interview w/Gilchrist, disproving much of what Jim contends.
    If he can't get a straight ans by the 24th, he'll write about it:

    2 Days before the huckster talked to Jim, he told Chris Wallace his unworkable touchback scheme would have a turn-around time in a matter of days.

    When he talked to Gilchrist 2 days later, he assured Jim it would be YEARS, behind all the other folks in line.

    Man of the cloth.

  37. Store would be a wasted resource, being that nobody can afford to shop.

  38. If the turn-around is days, they may particpate, similar to the Pence Plan, as I recall. If it's years to turn-around, they're not going to leave.

  39. That would be my point, exactly, Doug.

  40. It is not a Presidental decision, in either case, what to do with these folk here illegally.

    Though the President has some impact, it is not decisive. Proof of that, GWBush can tell US about the signing ceremony that he never held.

  41. 20 Million would be 200,000 a day or something, 'Rat:
    Ain't never gonna happen that way.

  42. Rat, I've been reading that quite a few have already left Oklahoma, and that they're starting to pack their bags in Arizona. Do you think any of that is true?

  43. When Jr got back from the Corps he applied online for the Border Patrol, they did not get back to him, thankfully.

  44. An ex-Marine, back from the Sandbox? Prolly not what the Border Patrol is looking for, I'd think.

  45. Some of it is true, but not much on a macro level.

    Those folks with few ties to the community may leave, but they won't be going back to Mexico or Guatemala, be my bet.

    California, Arkansas, New Mexico.
    Those would be the first destinations. Depending upon where they are starting out from.

    New York is a "dream destination" for many, though having lived there I do not know why it would be.

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. That's what I figured, rufus. But I encouraged him to apply, before I got him into college. That was the point of having him apply.
    Getting him into school.

  48. BTW, Guys; that's exactly why China can't keep growing at 12% for long. You can only survive on "exports" so long. Eventually, you've got to have small businesses springing up (not just in Beijing, but out in the hinterlands,) promoted by entrepreneurs with access to capital.

    That's where the Commie experiments always fall apart.

  49. Especially troubling to some watching the case of Ramos and Compean is the mandatory minimum 10-year sentence imposed by 18 U.S.C. 924(c) under which Ramos and Compean were convicted.

    As WND has reported, 18 U.S.C. 924(c) is a law Congress passed to impose additional penalties on federal felons who carried firearms in the commission of their felony.

    Appellate attorneys for Ramos and Compean argued on Dec. 3 before the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that 18 U.S.C. 924(c) was never intended to be applied to law enforcement officers who fired their weapons in the line of duty, even if the officers used misjudgment in the decision to discharge their weapons.

    Aldrete-Davila is now arrested and indicted for a "second load," which he allegedly brought into the U.S. in 2006 just prior to the trial for Ramos and Compean.

    At that time, Aldrete-Davila was under a grant of immunity to testify at the Ramos-Compean trial and in possession of a border pass card signed by DHS special agent Christopher Sanchez.

    Prosecutor Debra Kanof, in the office of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in El Paso, successfully convinced Judge Kathleen Cardone to seal all information about Aldrete-Davila's second load from the jury, thus preventing the defense in the Ramos and Compean trial from using this information to impeach the credibility of Aldrete-Davila's testimony under oath on the stand.

  50. The Chinese are a tad different from the other Commies, rufus.
    They have a huge numbers of entrepreneurs in their expat communities. Many of which still have ties to the homeland.

    None of the others, like the Russians, had that cultural asset, for what it could be worth.

    Could make the difference, or not.

  51. They gotta turn off a bunch of their coal generators for the Olympics too, Rufus!
    That'll cut down production for a week or two.
    ...and all the transportation used to ship people away from where they don't want them.

  52. True, 'Rat, the Chinamen have been doing business for quite some time.

    Entreprenures are held in high regard.

  53. My favorite Chinese food take-out man was from Shang-hai. His kids would never go back there, but he could be persuaded.

    I knew one family that went back, after the daughter finsihed college. They had the storefront buffett on the corner. Watched that little girl grow up, she was about five or six years older than mine.
    She was always there at the store, working the tables or doing homework.

  54. Shameful,
    How will she get a proper slothful attitude being raised like that?

  55. I think the Chinese People are Great Entrepreneurs, Rat; but, the key phrase was access to Capital. I do believe, as you do, that the Chinese will get a lot further with their deal than, say, the Russians did; but I still have my doubts about them Not running into a wall sometime soon.

    Then, again, I could be wrong.

  56. Their son, doug, was well infected with a proper slothful attitude, but their daughter turned out well.

    I took mine there after karate practice once a week, positive role model, I figured.

    Mine'll be out of High School this spring, on the three year plan, with a few college hours already credited, so it may have worked.

    But that chicken has not yet hatched, but I can see the beak.

    The difference I've seen, rufus, is all the immigrants talk about saving money and heading back to the old country, becoming a big shot. $20,000 plus is the number bantied about.
    The only ones I've ever seen really do it, were Chinese. They sell the store to another family, then head out.

    Though I do know some Mexicans that have built fancy houses, back in their old villages, in Mexico.
    Mostly for their parents to live in, with the never fulfilled dream of going home themselves.

  57. Well, I wish'em luck. If they're busy "gettin rich," maybe they won't have time to do something Stupid.


    Hundreds turn out seeking answers on plan to build power plant near Payette

    Payette, Idaho AP--

    An executive with a company that is considering building a nuclear power plant outside this southwest Idaho city says a decision to pursue permitting and construction could come as early as next fall.

    Bill Fehrman, president of MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Co., told about 400 people at a meeting here Thursday night that more answers will be forthcoming as the company decides whether to build the plant.

    For many at the meeting, the biggest concern about the project appeared to be whether there is enough water to go around. Payette is a high desert town tied to farming and located near the confluence of th Snake and Payette Rivers.

    "Where are we going to get the water when even our farmers can't get enough?" asked Kurt Key, a Payette carpenter.

    The reactor would use an estimated 25,000 acre-feet of water annually, more than a quarter of the water stored in Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise, he said.

    Walt Bosse, a retired cement plant supervisor, quizzed Fehrman on environmental safeguards the company intends to implement.

    "If they have a problem, they're going to flood the reactor," Bosse said. "What are they going to do with that water?"

    Fehrman said many of the details will come later when the company selects a reactor design and completes nearly a year of study just to determine whether to move forward.

    If company executives give initial approval, the project would face another four-year review by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As part of its review, NRC scientists would take an even closer look at the environmental issues, Fehrman said.

    The idea has attracted early support from some.

    Duane Youngberg, a Payette businessman, said he was excited about the plant's economic potential and had no worries about safety.

    "I pulled up a map of nuclear sites," Youngberg said. "The East Coast is dotted with them. What do we have to be afraid of?"

  59. "Their son, doug, was well infected with a proper slothful attitude"
    Public Schools are better at doing that to young Males than ever before.

  60. The core melts down when the water supply fails.

    The farmers cannot get irrigation water, when the reactor requires the water to maintain the saftey margins needed.

    That changes the economics of the area, not always for the better. Exportation of energy less labor intense than production and export of food stuffs.

    Ask the folk in Georgia what happens when there is a drought, but I'm sure you've experienced them previously, bob.

    How's the ground water in the area?

    Remember the energy production recieve priority, once the plants are in place. Can't shut down the reactor, dry, once it's up and running.

  61. Then there is the "Waste"

    Hundreds of years worth of poison.

  62. Costa Rica Reports Record Marijuana Bust in Abandoned Boat; No Arrests Made
    12-22-2007 6:02 PM

    SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Associated Press) -- Costa Rican agents made the largest marijuana bust in the Central American nation's history, seizing 4.85 tons of the drug found in an abandoned boat, police said Saturday.

    The marijuana _ enough to roll 17,600 joints, police said _ was discovered Friday during a patrol with the U.S. Coast Guard off the country's Pacific coast, Costa Rican police said in a statement.

    The ship's crew fled, abandoning their 48-foot-long boat near the border with Panama, where they appear to have fled, police said. No arrests have been made.

  63. hundreds of years of poison that can be stored in a big ole swimming pool for a bunch of years before being warehoused. In the grand scheme of things the waste, though terribly toxic, doesn't fill up much space.

    Capital to build the sucker plus redundant systems to keep the much needed coolant water flowing appears to be the main downside.

  64. and, the loss of energy through transmission is huge (my nuke engineer friend was spouting the equation; something like loss = distance squared). Building and big ole nuke plant in the desert barrens isn't very effecient. You really need to build the suckers close to the users - right next door, or in, the big cities.

  65. Well, let's look at the realities, up close.

    The world�s fleet of nuclear power plants is, on average, more than 20 years old. Even though the design life of a nuclear power plant is typically 30�40 years, it is quite feasible that many plants will be able to operate in excess of their design lives, provided that nuclear power plant engineers demonstrate by analysis, trending, equipment and system upgrades, increased vigilance, testing and ageing management that the plant will operate safely. In the operation of nuclear power plants, safety should be always the prime consideration. Plant operators and regulators must always ensure that plant safety is maintained, and where possible enhanced, during a plant�s operating lifetime.

    So, 30 to 40 years, add a decade, maybe two, for doing things right.
    The plant will generate electricity for fifty years.

    Wiki tells US

    After 10,000 years of radioactive decay, according to United States Environmental Protection Agency standards, the spent nuclear fuel will no longer pose a threat to public health and safety.

    Fifty years of electrical power, 10,000 years of hazardous waste management.

    The United States is 300 year old.
    Rome fell 2,000 years ago.

    The Third Reich was only projected to last 1,000 years, lasted less than a fifteen years.

    Who will manage the waste, until 12,007 AD.
    Who will shoulder that responsibility?
    It seems the obvious question as:

    Spent fuel is highly radioactive and needs to be handled with great care and forethought.

    That is the requirement, 10,000 years of forethought.

  66. While duece worries of using up the oil and coal, not saving it for the future generations.

    The nuclear waste lingers for 10,000 years, as ash tells US, easily stored.

    Through the next ice age?

    Was Idaho ever glaciated, ever in the past 10,000 years?
    Who guarentees it will not be, in the next 10,000 years?

  67. For fifty years worth of electricity generation.

  68. Spent fuel rods are stored in shielded basins of water (spent fuel pools), usually located on-site. The water provides both cooling for the still-decaying fission products, and shielding from the continuing radioactivity. After a few decades some on-site storage involves moving the now cooler, less radioactive fuel to a dry-storage facility or dry cask storage, where the fuel is stored in steel and concrete containers until its radioactivity decreases naturally ("decays") to levels safe enough for other processing. This interim stage spans years or decades, depending on the type of fuel. Most U.S. waste is currently stored in temporary storage sites requiring oversight ...
    In the U.S., which does not reprocess nuclear waste, "Already more than 80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next to the 103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting transportation to a storage facility yet to be found. This dangerous material will be an attractive target for terrorist sabotage as it travels through 39 states on roads and railway lines for the next 25 years"[40]. Even keeping track of it all has proved to be a problem [8]. In fact fears have been expressed that terrorists could get hold of some of it to make nuclear bombs

    Those would be of the Dirty Bomb variety

    According to a 2007 story broadcast on 60 Minutes, nuclear power gives France the cleanest air of any industrialized country, and the cheapest electricity in all of Europe. France reprocesses its nuclear waste to reduce its mass and make more energy. However, the article continues, "Today we stock containers of waste because currently scientists don't know how to reduce or eliminate the toxicity, but maybe in 100 years perhaps scientists will ... Nuclear waste is an enormously difficult political problem which to date no country has solved. It is, in a sense, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry ... If France is unable to solve this issue, says Mandil, then 'I do not see how we can continue our nuclear program.'"

    MAYBE in 100 years they'll figure it out, but then, maybe they won't.

    We should bet the future on that unknowable?

    If they don't "figure it", it's 10,000 years of waste management.

  69. That last article you cited seems to basically cover it Rat- the stuff sits in pools for a decade or two and then warehouses for more decades. Not huge amounts (like our ever growing landfills) but certainly enough to worry about.

    It is when you compare the downside to other downsides that the magnitude of waste doesn't appear to be so bad. Look at the junk we have to worry about when burning coal, burning oil, and piping natural gas. With nukes you get a huge capital cost to build, relatively low operating costs, huge amounts of energy with little CO2 and relatively low amounts of really long lifed toxic stuff.

    Personally I thik clean coal technology has a lot to offer. If we can burn it cleanly (i.e. scrub and sequester) then it also has great potential. My nuke pals spout fusion but also agree the tech aint there yet. When I queried my engineer friends about the sequestering of CO2 underground they thought it eminently feasible - pump the stuff into abandoned underground mines they said; we do it all the time for temp storage of nat. gas. Loads of room to store - or so they say. Gotta love the eternally optimistic problem solving engineers...reality and finance can ruin the best laid plans however.

  70. Burning the recycled fuel to make electricity destroys the long-lived wastes. With that gone, only the short-lived wastes will need to be stored in a repository. "The total amount of waste in the repository is reduced," Sackett said, "and in less than 1,000 years, the short-lived wastes decay until they are safer than the natural ore the original fuel came from."

    Where is the first Advanced Recycle Facility going to be built?

    When is the first Advanced Recycle Facility going to be built?

    How does building a Advanced Recycle Facility reduce the terrorist threat while the waste is in transit?

    "Over the next three years," Williamson said, "we plan to scale up to batch sizes in the tens-of-kilograms range, followed by a small-scale demonstration of the technology at Argonne-West.

    The article was written in 2003, over three years have passed, where in the world is tens-of-kilograms processing plant, today, as promised?

  71. Let's taste that pudding, or see if it's just another theory and study needing Federal funding.

    They are already behind their proposed demonstration schedule, no?

  72. "The point was that China's economic might has been vastly overrated.."

    Brain trust, that's the real indicator of wealth.

  73. 1,000 years, instead of 10,000

    Let's go look at the Coliseum,
    in Rome.

    Where is there a 1,000 year old building still operating as designed?

  74. OT:P

    I posted my take fwiw on Serving Two masters. Might make some sense of the pollard discussion.
    The question is why was this story leaked and why now. Someone inside the NSA leaked this story.It could not have come from some place else.

    I wonder if this doesn't have something to do with the intel community's embarrassment over that silly Iran estimate. maybe someone was getting back at someone for their part in heated subsequent intramural discussions. This is a very curious story. Just as curious is the this story: Report: Hoover had plan for mass arrests (1950, up to 12,000 suspected of being disloyal).

    Maybe the two stories are related.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. I don't know anything about nuclear waste, except Dr. Bill there at KGO, who does, has been asked that question many times, and the upshot is, it's not that big a problem. I don't know what the ground water is there, though there is, or was, lots of water underground in parts of the desert. The Snake carries a lot.

  77. From Dr. Bill His take on nuclear waste. Talks about France and Britain.

  78. I heard recently some interesting facts about nuclear waste. The French reuse their uranium numerous times. We use it once...

    Another interesting factoid: The waste per person's entire lifetime is about a cup. Reused (as the French do) it's reduced to about the size of a shot glass.

    Who's to say that we couldn't use those babies to power our cars and boats? Who knows what uses could be found for all those little cupfuls of power?

  79. Just over a hundred years ago men were seriously worried about another kind of waste. The booming population and growing cities were threatened with inundation by the manure from all those horses on the streets.

  80. MYTH: We can’t handle all that deadly nuclear waste.

    TRUTH: The supposed difficulty presented by nuclear waste has long been a point of emphasis for environmentalists and other critics of nuclear power. As far back as 1975, Ralph Nader was warning it would take an army to guard the nation’s nuclear industry and its waste. “Some people believe there may be a million people with direct and backup assignments to guard the nuclear industry by the year 2000,” Nader warned then. Of course, this army of guards never materialized.

    In fact, such wastes as are produced are small in scale. Because very little fuel is required in the generation of nuclear energy, there is correspondingly little waste. What wastes are produced, moreover, aren’t necessarily wastes at all. In the United States we have been led to believe that spent fuel rods are nuclear wastes. Not so. They contain valuable uranium, plutonium, and other important medical and industrial isotopes that we currently spend considerable sums to have transmuted from other elements. With appropriate reprocessing facilities, these can be successfully recovered and reused from the supposed nuclear waste.

    Both France and the United Kingdom operate reprocessing facilities. These take in spent fuel rods and strip away built-up wastes while recovering the vast majority of the still-useful fuel. In the UK, for instance, according to BBC News, the Sellafield reprocessing center “receives waste nuclear fuel from 34 plants around the world. The metallic outer casing is first stripped away and the spent fuel is then dissolved in hot nitric acid. This produces three things — uranium (96%) and plutonium (1%) and highly radioactive waste (3%).” Both the recovered uranium and plutonium are turned into fuel pellets that can be used to create more energy in nuclear plants. And it is a lot of energy. According to the BBC, “each six-gramme [plutonium fuel] pellet holds the equivalent energy of one tonne of coal.” This from a process that reduces nuclear waste by a whopping 97 percent!

    The United States was to have a commercial reprocessing facility at Barnwell, South Carolina, but the plant was nixed by the Carter administration. Had it been built, the amount of spent nuclear fuel stored by U.S. nuclear power plants could have been reduced by that same 97 percent. As far as the danger posed by the remaining three percent is concerned, its disposal is not nearly the problem it has been portrayed to be (see next myth).

    MYTH: Nuclear waste will always be dangerously radioactive.

    TRUTH: Shortly after it is produced, high-level nuclear waste is very toxic, but radioactive waste becomes less toxic over time through the natural process of radioactive decay. By convention, scientists measure the rate of this decay in terms of “half-life” — that is, the amount of time it takes for a radioactive isotope to lose half its radioactivity. Radioactively “hot” isotopes lose radiation quickly and so have short half-lives. With half-lives measured in days or less, they soon emit too little radiation to pose a health threat. Substances that lose radiation very, very slowly and have correspondingly long half-lives present little danger to people from the get-go.

    The disposal of wastes from a nuclear power plant has often been criticized as a gargantuan problem because of the belief that the waste may be dangerously radioactive for many thousands of years into the future, but as you can see, after a relatively short “cooling” time, the waste poses little health threat. For this reason, some nuclear wastes could even be diluted with water and dumped into the oceans (oceans are already naturally radioactive!) without causing a health problem. It sounds outlandish, but it’s something the British have been doing for years at their Sellafield reprocessing plant. Compare this to the 1,000 tons per day of ash, including arsenic and other toxic heavy metals, that are sent to landfills by a 1,000 megawatt coal power plant. Those landfills stay toxic forever
    from Dr. Bill

  81. Compare this to the 1,000 tons per day of ash, including arsenic and other toxic heavy metals, that are sent to landfills by a 1,000 megawatt coal power plant. Those landfills stay toxic forever.

  82. Another interesting "fact". The US is the "coal richest" country on the planet. Seems to me that we need to find a way to clean up the existing plants that we have as well as developing new clean burning coal fired plants. It can be done.

  83. Just one more thing we can blame on Jimmah Carter.

  84. Some comments by the greens--

    Cloaked in the garb of “environmentalism,” they use the anti-nuke movement to promote big government and harass productive capitalistic enterprises. Among these is Paul Ehrlich, who is known for his outrageous (and wrong) doomsday predictions. In the May-June 1975 issue of the Federation of American Scientists’ Public Interest Report, Ehrlich wrote: “Giving society cheap, abundant energy … would be the moral equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” Amory Lovins, another critic and one-time British representative of Friends of the Earth, agrees. “If you ask me,” Lovins said in an interview with Playboy magazine in 1977, “It’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.”

  85. All that may well be true, but as the French man said, even after they reprocess the fuel, the remaining waste will shut down their program, eventually.

    That the wastes are not guarded does not mean they should not be.

    Much like tourist visas for entry to the US issued to Pakistani Pashtuns.

    There is no reprocessing plant in the US, whether there could have been if ...
    Doesn't much matter.
    That there is not one and that none are in the permit process, today, is what matters.

    The political process is more important than the technical difficulties that could be overcome.

    No State will allow the spent fuel to transit their State, on it's way to Yucca Mountain. Nevada does not even want Yucca Mountain to activate.

    It still is a 1,000 year challenge, even if it is not 80,000 metric tonnes, but only 10% of the original, 8,000 metric tonnes.

    17,000 lbs of highly radioactive waste, more or less, today, if the current waste could be processed, by US, which it cannot, because there is no processing plant.

  86. Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, 24 miles north of New York City, New York. The plant, which includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors, is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy also owns the intact decommissioned Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. Total employment at the site is 1500.

    Twenty million people live within a 50 mile radius of Indian Point

    The two reactors were built in 1974 and 1976. The plants are protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a national guard base within a mile of the plant, as well as by specialized and highly trained private on-site security forces. Plant security across the country has been increased since 9/11.

    1975 plus 50 brings the useful life of this plant to 2025, the licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.

    The waste has not been reprocessed since 1975 and is still on-site. It will be dangerous for 10,000 years. With 20 million people within a 50 mile radius.

    Those are today's realities.

    We should build more plants before the problems are truely solved?
    The wastes actually reprocessed?

    Seems a tad bit of a hard sell, at least to me.
    In today's enviorment anyway.

  87. It'll be just like Stonehedge, in a few thousand years, no one will remember why they are there, just like Stonehedge or the pyramids of Teotihuacan

    Dry cask storage, is a remarkably simple, yet extremely safe and reliable system that seals used nuclear fuel in massive airtight steel and concrete canisters that provide both structural strength and radiation shielding. The system of concentric cylindrical containers provides above ground, long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel. Casks are placed upright on a concrete pad and are hardened structures capable of withstanding natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The vertical system is referred to as dry because the fuel is surrounded by helium gas rather than water. The canister/cask system is very robust, about 20 feet in height and 11 feet in diameter, with a cask wall that is over 2 feet thick and a total loaded weight of about 360,000 pounds. The inner canisters and outer casks have no operating equipment requiring regular maintenance. The fuel is cooled by passive means, with its heat dissipating via cooling channels in the outer cask that allow air to circulate naturally on the outside of the inner canister. This type of storage is also known as an Independent Spent Fuel Storage System ISFSI. See Dry Cask Storage Fact Sheet and Dry Cask Storage Brochure

  88. The idea of putting the waste in a rocket and shooting it to the sun, or the galactic center, was suggested but so far rejected as being too risky.

    Article on French Nuclear Power

  89. Thin film solar on every house and building. Wave, wind, geothermal, tide, waste - biomass for transportation.

    Clean, safe, sustainable, ubiquitous. The big energy companies hate it. That's where we're going.

  90. Rufus,
    Electricity is so expensive here, the old fashioned solar cells are already cost effective.

  91. Rat,
    The Las Vegas paper was filled with anti-nuke stuff when I looked a couple of days ago, with their Hero Harry swearing it'd be over his dead body.

  92. Albob,
    The Maroons that suggest blasting it into space have no conception of the amount needed to be blasted, and then you multiply that by some factor of thousands of times greater amount of fuel required to lift it.

  93. Hawaii, Doug? Waves, Waves, Waves. It's gotta be a Winner.

    Plus, there's gotta be some Great Currents down there, somewhere.

    In twenty years, Doug, electricity should be damned near free over there. But, your big utility will fight you to the death.

  94. Space elevator, Doug, it's the coming thing. aka Beanstalk
    No rocket fuel, needed:)

  95. Over Harry's corpse would be great. Two problems solved.

    Ah, Vegas! Hookers, roulette and radioactivity!

  96. I'd think there would be some geothermal around Hawaii, at least on the big island.


  98. Interesting, Mat. 9 square miles!

  99. Geothermal? Hawaii? Gee, ya think Maybe?

  100. Yeah, but do they utilize it?

    Religious prejudice is alive and well in the USA Romney, Clinton Equally Hated
    Whereas with Hillary it's just cause she's a bitch.

  101. 12 sq km to create 1,000 megawatts. A thousand megawatts is about 10% of Israel's present generating capacity. Enough for a million people.

  102. And, aswering my own question, the answer is Yes

  103. Well, you won't need Zion Oil ad Gas, Mat.

  104. No, but we'll need the Sinai. Or, maybe just flatten Gaza and start there.

  105. Then what would there be left for excitement, what w/no incoming rockets?

  106. You guys didn't read my precious posts when I said the environmentalists have just about stopped any further Geothermal.

  107. I just remembered:
    PGE in Calif is going to build a large Solar Tower Boiler with a field of mirrors focusing Mr. Sun's rays on it.

  108. Good News:


    On the Research Channel, Gen. Petraeus is giving a talk.

  110. Now you mention it Doug, it comes drifting back to mind, all right.

    Focus the suns rays, always been intrigued with that.