Podcast

Chris Answers Your Questions (Part 1)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 1:21 PM

It's the big man's turn in the hot seat today.

A few weeks ago, we asked you, the CM.com community, what questions you would most like to hear Chris address in an interview. You weren't shy!

I sat down with a stack of your questions ranging from precious metals investing to global warming to what Chris does to blow off steam and grilled Dr. M as best I could.

The good news is that there's a lot of meat in here for the serious CM.com reader. The 'bad' news is that we only made it halfway through your questions so we'll do this again soon if the feedback from this interview is positive.

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below. And if there are questions you'd like Chris to address in our next interview with him, add them here.

Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Chris (runtime 41m:58s): 

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71 Comments

Jessica's picture
Jessica
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Posts: 3
Suffocating

[Moderator's note:  This post is a violation of the forum guidelines.  We have long said that we will not tolerate "drive-by" character attacks or mean-hearted speculation about Chris' personal motives.  Characterizing Chris' motives as purely profit-driven is probably among the most common of these "drive-by insults."  Such comments are not helpful (or true).  Without any foundation, these sorts of comments are just naked, unproductive negativity.]

[removed]

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Posts: 492
Building community

Susan,

I liked your observation:

Where we get on each other's nerves might be growing pains - out-of-practice humans re-learning community in a much more complex world than has ever existed to challenge us.

I think we've been indoctrinated with a culture of learning sensitivity when we should instead be teaching tolerance. We all choose to spend valuable time here in this venue that Chris has established. I like that in here community doesn't necessarily mean group think.

Mark

sofistek's picture
sofistek
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Posts: 644
How can I say this?

Bob,

Thanks for your comments.

Although I'd disagree that a commercial battery storage facility is a "when" rather than an "if", I agree that it would offer the potential to help mitigate global warming. (Human ingenuity is not guaranteed to solve any particular problem, no matter how much we desire it). However, that doesn't mean it has the potential to improve the environment, unless accompanied by lifestyle changes and overall energy and resource consumption reduction. Science is only just now starting to look at just how much renewable energy can be diverted from its current use (as part of our current delicate environmental balance).

I have discussed similar arguments with others. To you, battery technology is the goal. To another guy, Cheap Access To Space should be the goal (and he has a good understanding of the technology involved) in order to place huge reflectors/shades in place, as the only way we're going to start getting the temperature back down. Both of you have no doubt that your particular focus will work. But, unless we start living in a very different way, a sustainable way, success in either goal will simply delay catastrophe, at best.

On the question of those leaked emails, I agree that they set the human induced climate change position back, even though there was nothing in the emails that could have done that from a purely scientific stance (as shown by several enquiries into the matter). But should this site be swayed by what the mainstream media and a few denialist blogs say? There is also much disinformation on resource depletion, but Chris covers those things.

I'm sorry if I appear to have a prejudice against all Americans as it most certainly is not true. I have a prejudice against the "American Dream", but, as it has been exported across the global, Americans are no worse than others; they are simply further ahead in their impact on our only known habitat. I accept that this site focuses on the US, as that is where most or all of the main contributors are based and the US is the biggest consuming nation and economy, by far. Obviously, it can be a bit frustrating for other nationals but there is a dearth of non-US (or non-North American) sites dealing with these issues, so I guess I can't grumble too much (but can grumble a bit).

I accept that I perhaps concentrate on certain issues to the detriment of my argument, because so many people have their own focus. However, from what I've learned about our deteriorating environment (not just warming, and all the things it brings, but almost every aspect of the environment that sustains all life is deteriorating), it is hard to consider positions that would be perfectly valid in a world where the environment isn't deteriorating, but have much less importance in a world where we may well have gone beyond natural limits in so many areas, already (see "A Safe Operating Space for Humanity" [PDF]). I suppose a convert is the most passionate about a subject - I was a fervent AGW denier up until about 2001, and then only started to really consider its impact on me once I learned of peak oil, 3 years later, which led to reading a lot of stuff. I'm now convinced that any response to our predicament that doesn't involve consideration of our only known habitat is just not enough to avert disaster, though some responses might delay disaster for a while. Consequently, I just can't understand why a site that is attempting to correct the prevailing narrative that drives our reckless behaviour, and that covers just about all the other major parts of our predicament, can so completely ignore what is at least a hugely important aspect of the correct narrative (since it underpins absolutely everything on the planet). Tony

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Perhaps I got it wrong

Hello Bob,

I don't consider you the font of information/disinformation problem but I was positing that you might be the victim of it.  It wouldn't be logical to both advocate and denigrate science at the same time. Obviously this was not your intent. The fact that we all muddle around in here says to me that we all sense we've been manipulated with misinformation (I liked Susan's earlier post) for quite a while and are trying to wake up.

I understood your point to Tony, and I hope he takes it seriously. I was just taking issue with your making global statements about the scientific establishment that seemed (to me) to present a potential contradiction with your passionate advocation for battery technology. For example, in this post, you state that:

The powers that be took the climate change issue off the table not me.

All I am saying that they (whoever they are) took it off your table, not necessarily mine or many others.

The politics have swayed absolute science with an alternative point of view

I know you don't intend it to be, but I find that sort of statement offensive because it impugns my personal integrity. Is there a basis for such a charge? This has been an active area of research for over 100 years. I would say that the problem more accurately stated is that science has failed to sway the politics despite their best attempts of providing warning, not the opposite. This is why many scientists, including myself, are speaking out in public. This is deadly serious.

We probably agree on more than we disagree. Where we don't I am happy to agree to disagree without rancor. Kyoto isn't dead, it's likely to get extended life support (sort of like the Greek bailout drama) until the world can get its collective act together and replace it with another, most likely insufficient, Protocol. Note, you can be both helpful and abrasive, heck, I have obviously been abrasive to at least you and who knows how many others. I personally don't have a problem with strong opinions or large egos as I deal with them all the time. As long as we deal with each other respectfully and forthrightly we enrich the community.

These discussions don't need to be either/or in nature. Take Mike's reduced energy consumption and your battery technology facilitated alternative energy and put them together. If we would all live more like Mike's example then we could get by with a lot fewer and smaller energy networks. Can we make those lines of thought cross somewhere? We need the batteries but the flip side of the challenge is to work out how few and/or small we can get by with. The question (or at least my version of it) is can we live within our resource budget while keeping at least some of the lights on after the cheap energy binge is over?

Note, I am not 'judging' you, I was only pointing out how you could be (mis)perceived. No doubt, I would be surprised about how others might misconstrue my own words.

Mark

Doug's picture
Doug
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DIAP

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

......looks around.  What's going on folks?

Long time...where you been hiding, the pepper patch?  Good to have you back.  Hope you stick around.

There's a new website coming up soon that I think will be pretty cool.

Catch us up with what you've been up to.

Doug

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Doug wrote: Dogs_In_A_Pile

Doug wrote:

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

......looks around.  What's going on folks?

Long time...where you been hiding, the pepper patch?  Good to have you back.  Hope you stick around.

There's a new website coming up soon that I think will be pretty cool.

Catch us up with what you've been up to.

Doug

Hey Doug -

I took a break to decompress, refresh and recharge.  Joe Mancini came down from Connecticut to visit this weekend.  Cat and I are trying to convince him to move down to Virginia to join our growing community.  Last night we drove up to Richmond and had dinner with Davos and his wife in son.  We sat for 4 1/2 hours talking about anything, everything and nothing - and we kept coming back to CM.com and how much we missed the camaraderie and spirited discussions.  Long story short - I needed a break, I took it, I missed the interaction and discussions with the good people here and it was time to come back.

Joe can tell you about how he broke the gun range in a different thread.......

Stan Robertson's picture
Stan Robertson
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Posts: 529
Welcome back, Dogs

So, have you some new lines of thought to share? We have missed you.

Stan

RJE's picture
RJE
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Posts: 1369
Mark and Tony...

...in the broadest sense we are fundamentally on the same page. I am very concerned with climate change. The scientific community has my deepest respect. When I spoke of politics with regards to the climate issue, and science in particular, I should have been bold and just called a spade a spade. That being, Big Oil had its influence, and the puppet politicians doing their bidding for them.

I am not so certain that the priority now is climate change either, I'm not. I am certain that energy that is affordable is. Now, I respect it is your focus of concern, and I respect that but it is not my reality as I see it. So I'll apologize in advance if I touch a nerve but it isn't intended to harm you or anyone intentionally. 

While we may dream of being completely off the grid that reality is a fraction of the super majority though. No data to support this notion but I believe it's true. Everything we own or will purchase, including the use of this lap top by all of us is Fossil fuel generated, and has a carbon foot print. We all require fiat money for everything outside of barter so frankly we are all hypocrites but we are trying to lesson our foot print the best we can. Maintaining this complex system is imperative or the chaos that will ensue will be a horror show. Certainly we are not that narrow minded or self righteous or jaded. I know I have limitations that prohibit me from doing all that I would like so I do what I can.

This issue , and all issues we deal with here are important, and Susan is right. All a warm up to what we will face in the world outside our front doors. Tony, I feel you have been unduly harsh towards Professor Martenson, and Americans in general. I mean it when I am not coming to his defence but many of your words obviously were to incite a negative response. So, counter productive to all the intelligence here. To your intelligence. You can say all that you wish,  but be respectful at least. 

My focus has been, and always will be on Peak Oil. An energy source that must be preserved to carve out whatever future we may have. I visualize a clean, and sustainable future of plenty. Not like the environment of today at all but a better future. I believe too that many more tons  of CO2 will be dumped into our atmosphere to achieve a future balance in this world that is in more harmony with nature. I see utter and total calamity if we do not supplement Oil ,and preserve the awesome power this fuel provides us. If we fail, we fail but the Earth will still be here long after we are gone. I am focused on one piece of the puzzle, Mark on another, and Tony another. All motivated, all wanting to be a part of the solution, and who knows if we'll make a difference. I know this, we must try.

The world is at a cross road, and all of us will play our parts. I hold no grudges, I respect communication that is fair, and pointed. Nothing has changed for me here. Fact is, this has been a good experience. Writing is a difficult way to project your true thoughts and intentions. The whole of what you/we say often comes down to one sentence, a word, and it carries on a life of its own, unintentionally. I am moving on now, done with this issue.  Respectfully given

BOB

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thatchmo
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Posts: 266
Aloha Dogs!

Glad you're back!  Hope your decompression was beneficial.  I know I speak for many here- we missed you.  Not to burden you on your first day back, but any thoughts on Fukushima?  Aloha, Steve.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Stan Robertson wrote: So,

Stan Robertson wrote:

So, have you some new lines of thought to share? We have missed you.

Stan

Hey Stan -

Hope you've been well.  Probably not too many "new" lines of thought, but perhaps some new ways of looking at them.  I just needed a break.

It looks like I've got some thread surfing and reading to catch up on.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2491
thatchmo wrote: Glad you're

thatchmo wrote:

Glad you're back!  Hope your decompression was beneficial.  I know I speak for many here- we missed you.  Not to burden you on your first day back, but any thoughts on Fukushima?  Aloha, Steve.

Hey Steve -

It was a much needed and very beneficial break, but I'm glad to be back on the site. 

I've got lots of thoughts on Fukushima, and they're still very much in line with what I was saying back in March.   Anything specific you had in mind?

I did see Jake Shimabukuro a while back and was stunned....the kid is a one man cluster pluck!

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
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Posts: 266
re: up scope...

Dogs- you got Alpha Mike in that sub with you? 

Regards Fukushima, it's just been off the mainstream radar for a while but it seems it's still a potential (ongoing) catastrophy.  Any recent info you'd like to explore or critique (as if there wasn't enough to worry about...)?

The radio station I work with did a "Talk Story" interview CD with Jake.  PM me your address and I'll mail you a copy.

Aloha, Steve.

joemanc's picture
joemanc
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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: Doug

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Doug wrote:

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

......looks around.  What's going on folks?

Long time...where you been hiding, the pepper patch?  Good to have you back.  Hope you stick around.

There's a new website coming up soon that I think will be pretty cool.

Catch us up with what you've been up to.

Doug

Hey Doug -

I took a break to decompress, refresh and recharge.  Joe Mancini came down from Connecticut to visit this weekend.  Cat and I are trying to convince him to move down to Virginia to join our growing community.  Last night we drove up to Richmond and had dinner with Davos and his wife in son.  We sat for 4 1/2 hours talking about anything, everything and nothing - and we kept coming back to CM.com and how much we missed the camaraderie and spirited discussions.  Long story short - I needed a break, I took it, I missed the interaction and discussions with the good people here and it was time to come back.

Joe can tell you about how he broke the gun range in a different thread.......

As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz would say...there's no place like home....

Glad to see you came back to the site - and it was great to see you, Cat and Davos this weekend. I gotta work on getting both him and Cat back on too.

As for the range...I may have broken it, but you gotta admit, that was a hell of a shot.

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SagerXX
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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: It

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

It looks like I've got some thread surfing and reading to catch up on.

Welcome back DIAP!  You've been missed...

Doug's picture
Doug
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Joemanc

Quote:
As for the range...I may have broken it, but you gotta admit, that was a hell of a shot. 

OK, dish, what happened?

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Yeah! Don't leave us hangin'

Doug wrote:

Quote:
As for the range...I may have broken it, but you gotta admit, that was a hell of a shot. 

OK, dish, what happened?

Okay, I'm dyin' to hear about this great shot. Tell us already; it ain't like it's bragging if we begged you to tell!

P.S. Glad to see you're back, Dogs.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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I'll leave it to Joe to explain....

Duplicate post

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Posts: 2491
earthwise wrote: Doug

earthwise wrote:

Doug wrote:

Quote:
As for the range...I may have broken it, but you gotta admit, that was a hell of a shot. 

OK, dish, what happened?

Okay, I'm dyin' to hear about this great shot. Tell us already; it ain't like it's bragging if we begged you to tell!

P.S. Glad to see you're back, Dogs.

I threw Joe under the bus enough over it this weekend.  Davos almost aspirated his food while I was retelling the story - with only a few embellishments.

I leave this one up to Joe to explain, but if he doesn't fess up in a day or so, you can rev up the Greyhound.............

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sofistek
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Posts: 644
robert essian

robert essian wrote:
Maintaining this complex system is imperative or the chaos that will ensue will be a horror show.

That may be so but if this complex system can't be maintained (and I can't see how it can) it either becomes a moot point or we have to ensure that chaos doesn't ensue. It is my opinion that as long as we try to maintain it, the collapse will be even more severe. Also, in trying to maintain it, we will ignore environmental consequences which will be a double whammy, with a collapsed system and a degraded environment, making recovery to a different system all the more difficult. Whilst the environment is my current focus I realise that there are certain short term considerations that have equal short term weight but the environment is definitely part of the narrative and is so grossly missing on these pages.

robert essian wrote:
Tony, I feel you have been unduly harsh towards Professor Martenson, and Americans in general. I mean it when I am not coming to his defence but many of your words obviously were to incite a negative response.

There were intended to elicit a discussion about a very serious issue that Chris, as far as I can tell, always sidesteps. I accept that some of my words could have been better chosen but I'd really like to know Chris's views on environmental degradation, in general, and AGW, in particular. At this point, I have no idea what they are and am left to, possibly incorrectly, deduce his position from the absence of his words on the matter. What else can I do?

robert essian wrote:
My focus has been, and always will be on Peak Oil. An energy source that must be preserved to carve out whatever future we may have.

Preserving that energy source means not using it. If we use it, it can't be preserved. So we have to live a different way. I think we have a lack of visionaries that can see a world where sustainable lifestyles is the norm. I struggle with that vision constantly, which is why I seek it elsewhere. However, there is one overriding feature - if it isn't sustainable, it can't be sustained. Richard Heinberg distilled some thoughts on sustainability in his "Five Axioms of Sustainability", which can be summarised as 1) not consuming any resource beyond its renewal rate and 2) not degrading our habitat. Seems simple but will be very difficult to achieve with anthing like our current society and economy, as far as I can tell, so a wholesale change is needed. I don't think that comes out in Chris's articles or on this site.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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thatchmo wrote: Dogs- you

thatchmo wrote:

Dogs- you got Alpha Mike in that sub with you? 

Regards Fukushima, it's just been off the mainstream radar for a while but it seems it's still a potential (ongoing) catastrophy.  Any recent info you'd like to explore or critique (as if there wasn't enough to worry about...)?

The radio station I work with did a "Talk Story" interview CD with Jake.  PM me your address and I'll mail you a copy.

Aloha, Steve.

Steve -

Sorry for the delayed response, been busy catching up.  No Alpha Mike on Das Boot, but I have it on good authority he's around.....

About Fukushima?  It's pretty much where I figured it would be at this point.  Cleanup is plodding along in a painstakingly slow process.  There are still issues with keeping the core covered and keeping cooling flow going, and there are reportedly some occasional flareups of spontaneous criticality occurring in Unit 2 - suspected due to the detection of certain Noble gases, specifically Xenon.  Fortunately, the decay heat rates in the cores of the striken buildings are thankfully pretty low, so even in the event of a total loss of coolant or flow, there is time to restore coolant/flow and the margins are increasing.  Injection systems were installed on Units 1, 2 and 3 to be able to inject borated water into the cores to help suppress and shield the spontaneous events (boron is a very efficient neutron absorber) but since the spontaneous flareups are occurring almost solely due to fuel particle geometries due to fuel matix damage, the borated water won't stop the spontaneoous criticality from occurring, but they will help shield and absorb the neutorns preventing them form causing fission in adjacent fuel elements.  I have read conflicting reports about the system on Unit 2 having some trouble, but so far, they have been able to run the system as intended.  I haven't read anything about Units 1 or 3.

There are some ongoing issues with the spent fuel pools in Unit 2.  There is some kind of temporary desalination/coolant system installed on the pool and occasional reports about "high flow differentials" and temporary flow stoppages, but without knowing the specifics about the system I would only be able to offer an educated guess.  If I had to guess, I'd say they were aving clogging issues with debris, salt and corrosion particles as the system is operated.  In any event, the decay heat rates in the spent fuel pools are much lower and therefore more manageable than the core.

They aren't out of the woods by any means but the immediacy of action is not anywhere near as dire as they were at first.  The big issues now are what to do with the contaminated water pumped in to cover the cores that pooled and collected in places it wasn't intended for.  There's a lot of it (water) and there was a lot of entrained debris that clogged the filters at first requiring more frequent shutdowns of the system to flush and/or replace the filter elements.  I have read in several credible sources that the amount of cooling water being used in Units 1 and 3 are decreasing - which is certainly good news, but Unit 2 is still a concern.  The good news is that things have stabilized to the degree that they have been able to remove some of the spent fuel from the pools for transport and storage at a "safer" place.

As far as external contamination this is now a localized event - as in accident site out to 12 to 20 miles depending on the distribution pattern of the radioactive contamination.  A very significant event, but very local.  Credible sources are hard to find.  I read that the Japanese Ministry of the Environment has commenced a study to measure the impact of radioactive contamination released into the environment on the reproductive elements of plant and animal life located within the immediate accident area and at areas at increasing distances from the site.  The study looks to be fairly comprehensive in that it is going to look for levels of cesium as well as detectable changes in the DNA of the sampled plant and animal life.  Like Chernobyl, there will be areas surrounding the accident site that will not be habitable for many years to come, and increased risk of developing cancers in areas that were contaminated, but deemed livable.  The difficulty is that it will be very hard to determine with certainty that any cancers were unequivocably caused by radioactive contamination released in the accident.  I maintain that it will be equally hard to prove they weren't.  So if at all possible, pending detailed radiation and contamination survey results, I would seriously rethink any thoughts of reinhabiting an area within 12 miles of the accident.  That may not be an option for some and is a pretty shitty dilemma to face.

What Fukushima is not right now is a threat to Hawaii or the Left Coast.  And the likelihood of it turning in to a threat to the US is remote and growing remoter (I do not know if that is a real word).

I read a report a month or so ago where Arnie Gunderson stated that if another earthquake were to occur, and the cores cracked open, and the spent fuel pools caught on fire again it would be bad. (I paraphrased a bit)

No shit.

We should also worry about a meteor strike that hits Unit 2?  I think not.  Gunderson provided a wealth of accurate information, but he also provided a lot of shrill noise.  Separating the nuggets of good info from the tailings can be a challenge with someone who has an agenda that sometimes clouds objectivity.

Short answer - I wouldn't be too concerned about Fukushima contamination if I lived in Hawaii.

Hope this helped - feel free to fire any additional questions if they come up.  We should probably shift them over to the Fukushima thread since we have otherwise thoroughly hijacked this one......

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