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Biofuels, by Henri Prevot

Automatic translation from french :


– A product now unnecessarily expensive; Tomorrow if the political decision is taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
– The technique: biofuel, as today, from only oil or sugar, or, as tomorrow, from all organic carbon
Quantities and costs – text written at the end of 2009, completed in June 2011

– Cost: In June 2011, the Ministry of Economy published an abridged and updated presentation of a study carried out in 2010; It shows that the cost of production by a Fischer Tropsch process would be 1000 € / m3, which leads to 1.8 € / l at the pump, including the TIPP of the diesel fuel. In order to do so in 30 or 40 years, it would therefore be necessary to increase by 2 c € / l each year, in constant currency. This is more than the assessment we made three years ago in “Too much oil!”, Which led to € 1.45 / l, but it is not dramatic and it is far less than this Which others announce, wanting to bring the price of fuel to 2 or 3 € / l. See here a note showing how the cost of production depends on the price of biomass, the cost of financing, and the price of electricity.

– The quantities that can be produced: a recent study published in September 2009 shows that crops and short-rotation coppice crops could produce 90 M dry tons out of 7 Mha of agricultural land while convertible agricultural areas are valued at 10 or 13 Mha, improving the environmental situation (phytosanitary, nitrates and water consumption). This biomass would produce 14 Mtoe of second-generation biofuel on agricultural land without external energy input; By providing external energy, it is therefore possible to produce more than 20 Mtoe by improving the environment. See the study published in the Cahier du Clip of September 2009 in particular his p. 34.
The values retained on this site, which surprised more than one, are therefore validated by this study. This is good news: in France, it is possible to halve CO2 emissions from vehicles and airplanes by increasing distances traveled, replacing one third of liquid fuel with electricity and producing more than 20 Mtep of biofuel.
Nevertheless, this requires a very large amount of electricity. Direct use of electricity is more efficient. The balance between biofuel and electricity will thus depend on the progress of batteries and nuclear production capacity. In the reference scenario revised in June 2011, the production of biofuel is only 12 Mtoe, the consumption of electricity by road or air transport of 8 Mtoe. But it is possible to provide 20 Mtoe of biofuel without increasing nuclear capacity if the biofuel is produced off-season using the available production capacity.
In 2010, Shell reported that it had developed a new chemical process and tested the fuel thus produced from lignocellulosic material; This process supposes that hydrogen and alcohol are brought from the outside. We do not know the energy and CO2 balances of this process or its biofuel production capacity per hectare.


– So today what to decide about biofuel?
It does not seem relevant to want to increase biofuel production today; It is better to start by burning the biomass.
A variant that combines taxation, regulation and market instruments to follow an optimum path: firstly develop heat use and develop efficient biofuel production techniques, and then develop the use of biofuel.

– But the government’s decision is different: the E85 (85% ethanol fuel) is expensive!

The electric turtle could catch up with the smoke hare … 

​Is salvation in the electric car ? 

Hervé Nifenecker (Save the Climate NGOs) 

“The need to reduce CO2 emissions as well as the prospect of a sharp increase in oil prices, once the crisis has passed, has led manufacturers as well as the state to accelerated development of electric cars. Is this “rush” justified or unthinking, reflecting a fashion phenomenon as we find unfortunately so many examples at a time when all projects must have the label “sustainable development” to be taken seriously? The first question is obviously whether the development of electric cars is economically reasonable. Economic outlook to fix the ideas it is useful to retain the hypothesis of an all-electric car using lithium-iron phosphate batteries. As an illustration we consider the Nissan-Renault / Better Place project: a Kangoo-type vehicle with an energy capacity of 25kWh batteries, a range of 165 km (0.15 kWh / km), a battery life allowing to cover 200,000 km (2000 cycles), or about 10 years. Let us recall some economic data on this basis. The battery price of 25kWh is currently around 10,000 €, which can be considered an overpriced compared to the non-electric model. Over a period of 10 years and for a mileage of 200,000 km, electricity consumption at the off-peak rate would amount to € 2010, whereas for a standard model consuming 6l / 100km at 1 € / l, the expenditure would reach 12000 €. The over-cost of the electric car would be compensated in 10 years. It is true that one should take into account the respective changes in oil and electricity prices on the one hand, and the TIPP and the future carbon tax on the other. For smaller urban cars, with a battery with a capacity of 10 kWh, the over-cost is amortized in less than 6 years. Globally, for 10 million electric cars of the Kangoo type, about 5 billion euros of purchase of imported oil will be saved each year. Consumers will save about 10 billion, but the state will lose around 5 billion because of the decline in TIPP and VAT revenues. Also in the case of a fleet of 10 million cars, one can envisage that it will be necessary to supply 1 million batteries each year, generating a turnover of about 10 billion euros, and 200 000 jobs! The question of their location is, of course, of prime importance … It is high time that the French battery industry wakes up! All in all, economically, the bet of the electric car is worth trying. What about the ecological side? Can electric cars help reduce CO2 emissions? The 1,200 liters of diesel used by the heat engine lead to the emission of 2.9 tons of CO2 per year. By themselves, electric motors do not emit CO2. Some, however, want to affect the CO2 emitted at the electricity production stage. Taking the mean value of emissions in Europe (600 gCO2 / kWh), the consumption of 3000 kWh would lead to the annual emission of 1.8 tons of CO2 per year. In the case of electricity generated during off-peak hours in France (40 gCO2 / kWh), emissions are reduced to 0.15 tonnes of CO2. In the French case, a fleet of 10 million private electric cars would thus avoid the emission of 28 million tonnes of CO2 per year, ie more than 7% of our total emissions and about a quarter of emissions from the transport sector . By admitting a CO2 price of 50 euros per tonne, the price of avoided carbon would reach more than one billion euros each year. Globally, with the commissioning of 600 million electric cars and retaining a CO2 content of 600 gCO2 / kWh, the reduction in emissions would reach 840 million tonnes, more than 10% of the emissions due to transport. From the ecological point of view, the development of electric cars is undoubtedly justified. Will there be enough lithium? For some time it has been said here and there that the development of electric cars will be greatly limited by the reserves of lithium. The scientific basis of this skepticism is found in the article by W. Tahil. The lithium reserves estimated by the latter are between 6.8 (economically exploitable reserves) and 15 million tons (total reserves). Note that the estimates of these reserves are dependent on the acceptable extraction costs. More recent work estimates resources (excluding economic considerations) at 28.5 million tonnes. Currently the price of lithium is around $ 5500 per tonne of lithium carbonate, or about 30 € / kg lithium. 

The weight of lithium included in a battery of capacity 25 kWh is of the order of 3 kg. The cost of lithium in the battery is therefore around 90 Euros. This figure is compared to the price of 10 000 € of the battery. It can be seen that a 10-fold increase in the price of lithium would have little influence on the total price of electric cars. It therefore seems justified to retain the high estimate of reserves at 28 million tons of lithium. W.Tahil is considering the commissioning of 600 million electric vehicles. The lithium stock in the batteries of these cars would therefore be 1.8 million tons, a figure well below the reserves. W.Tahil does not extend to the recycling of lithium, which leads him to consider that these 600 million cars are replaced every 10 years, or that on average it would be necessary to find 180000 tons of lithium every year . In a hundred years we see that the reserves are largely undermined. But, not only recycling lithium is possible, but it is mandatory. Under these conditions everything changes. Even a relatively low recycling rate of 90% would make it impossible to exhaust reserves before a thousand years. There remains a real challenge: to develop production quickly enough. At present, it is about 23,000 tons. Suppose that we want to reach 600 million electric cars in 20 years. This means putting into service an average of 30 million cars each year requiring an average annual extraction of 90 000 tons of lithium, which is 4 times more than at present. This corresponds to an annual rate of increase of 14%. Fast, no doubt, but not impossible. To be complete, it must be noted that the distribution of reserves could have geo-strategic consequences. Indeed, the most profitable operations consist in extracting lithium from brines which are found either in underground saline aquifers or in surface saline waters. The largest deposits are in Chile (3 million tonnes), Bolivia (5.4 million tonnes), Argentina (2 million tonnes), China (2.7 million tonnes), Russia Million tonnes). In other words, industrialized countries are likely to depend on Latin American countries for their lithium as they depend on the Middle East for their oil. With the nuance, however, that a shortage would not prevent the cars from rolling; It would call into question the rate of increase of the park. What would be the need to increase nuclear capacity to power electric cars? A car traveling 20 000 km / year consumes 3000 kWh / year. The total consumption of 10 million cars would then reach 30 TWh, or 6% of the French production, a little less than 4 reactors of 1 GW, or 6% of the installed capacity. In fact, the nuclear power needed would be lower: between one and six in the morning, the production of nuclear power plants is between 5 and 10% lower than their diurnal production (hence the interest of the double tariff for EDF) . Under these conditions, if the refills take place preferentially at night, it can be estimated that it would not be necessary to increase the nuclear power to meet the new demand. ”

In french :

No, there is no scenario “100% renewable energies”

Translation of french site :

“Politicians and journalists affirm it: it would be possible, in France, to increase to 100% of renewable energies. Where do they get that information? No French energy transition scenario asserts that it is possible to dispense with fossil and nuclear energies, even with a drastic reduction in energy consumption.

Electricity or Energy ?

The assertion that it would be possible to switch to 100% of renewable energies generally comes from a study by the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) published in 2015 on a France fueled  by 100% in renewable electricity. But electricity accounts for less than 23% of France’s final energy consumption. With 100% renewable electricity, we would come out of nuclear power but we would solve less than a quarter of the energy problem.

Why would it be desirable to use only renewable energies ? Because they will never fail, but also because they emit few air pollutants hazardous to health and CO2 that warms the climate. Fossil fuels, ie oil, gas and coal, are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide every year because of the pollution they generate, they represent the number of deaths of hundreds of Chernobyl Every year, not to mention the consequences of global warming. The important thing is to do without fossil fuels, ie oil, gas, and coal.

However, in France, these energies serve very little to produce electricity, they are mainly used for transport and heating. It would therefore seem desirable to replace petrol cars with electric cars, petrol trucks with electric goods trains, gas or oil heaters with electric heat pumps, industrial heating systems with coal, oil or gas By electrical systems … But this should logically increase the consumption of electricity. We must therefore look at the energy problem as a whole and not just under the prism of electricity.

The energy transition scenarios:

– the Negawatt scenario predicts that virtually all will be spent on nuclear power, but not on fossil fuels, which would still represent 10%. This scenario predicts a drastic reduction of primary energy consumption by 66%.

– the Greenpeace scenario resulted in a similar decrease in energy demand of 63% without completely removing fossils.

To reduce consumption, among the proposals of Negawatt, Greenpeace and the Virage energy association: 70% reduction in clothing consumption, 50% in household products, 50% in cosmetics and toiletries, 50 % of meat consumption, 50% of dryers, dishwashers, freezers, audio-visual equipment, 50% of the size of refrigerators, use of collective washing machines, decrease in the comfort temperature of the dwellings , The size of dwellings which should be collective, the increase in the number of inhabitants per household, the disappearance of the vehicle as we know it today, the reduction in long-distance tourism and air travel, …. These changes may be considered necessary, but they are absolutely incompatible with the economic growth sought by the vast majority of policies.

– ADEME published in 2013 scenarios of energy transition “ADEME’s contribution to the development of energy visions 2030-2050”. They do not at all lead to the conclusion that nuclear and fossil fuels can easily be dispensed with. In the “median” scenario, they recommend a 47% reduction in final energy consumption. Renewable energies would then supply 55% of the needs, the rest being assured by oil, gas and nuclear which would have a significant role. According to the scenarios nuclear production would go from 251 to 670 TWh per year (it was in 2015 of 417TWh).

– The National Agency for the Coordination of Research for Energy published in 2013 three scenarios allowing to divide by 4 the CO2 emissions: while developing largely the renewable energies and without leaving the nuclear energy, Energy savings would go from 27% to 41% through sustained energy efficiency efforts.

– the Negatep scenario of the association “Save climate” foresees a division by 4 of CO2 emissions, despite a reduction of only about 18% of the final energy consumption. Fossil fuels would be largely replaced by renewable energies (+150%) but also by nuclear power (+46%) capable of producing carbon-free electricity, the production of which would increase by 61%.

No French scenario therefore claims that it is possible to replace fossil and nuclear energies by renewables, even drastically reducing consumption.

– The “Wind Water Sun” scenario from Stanford University in California claims to be able to supply all the world’s energy needs with renewables without loss of comfort. A project so ambitious that criticism of its realism is not lacking. At the French level, too little detail is given so that we can understand by what miracle it would be possible to do what the French studies do not claim to be able to do. The production potentials used are superior to those of all other French scenarios, the problems of intermittence and storage of solar and wind electricity seem to be clearly underestimated. Yet at the current rate of installation of wind turbines in France (about 1 GW per year), it would take more than 150 years to reach the necessary power of this scenario, while the lifetime of a wind turbine does not exceed 25 years .

A 100% renewable electricity ?

If the goal is not to fight against the deadly air pollution and the dangerous global warming but to do without the nuclear, then the question of whether in France we can produce the amount of electricity that we currently consume only with renewables is relevant.

The ADEME study “A 100% renewable electric mix” published in 2015 is not a transition scenario since it does not explain how to move from the current system to this new system. This is a “prospective and exploratory” job. It seems to me that the enthusiasm aroused by this study can be moderate because it considers in its “reference” scenario:

– Electricity consumption down to 422 TWh per year, compared with approximately 440 TWh (net consumption) in 2015; Despite 10 million electric vehicles (out of 38 million vehicles currently in France), despite population growth and probably economic growth.

– The use of wood or biogas to produce electricity, these sources of energy would then be less available for heating.

– Times where it would be necessary to import electricity from abroad, not necessarily produced by renewables.

– Battery storage with poor environmental performance would require several million tons of batteries with a limited lifetime.

– An increase in the number of Energy Transfer Stations by pumping (artificial lakes or dams allowing indirect storage of electricity), without specifying where to build new immense reservoirs of water. Let us recall the strong opposition to the construction of the Sivens dam.

– A large storage by “Power to gas”, a technique used to transform electricity into gas (hydrogen or methane) and eventually into electricity. This technique is promising but still stammering and without real feedback. It currently exists only in experimental form, relying heavily on it is therefore quite ambitious.

– An enormous development of wind power, the production of which would be 303 TWh per year whereas it was at most 160 TWh in the report published by Ademe in 2013. Wind power production in France was 21 TWh in 2015 , It would take at least 10 times more wind turbines than today.

– An optimistic load factor for terrestrial wind power of 31% whereas it is currently only 23% (the load factor is the ratio between the real average power and the installed capacity, it gives an account of the fact that The wind does not always blow enough).

– An installed wind power of 96GW against 10GW in 2015. Knowing that less than 1GW has been installed in France in recent years, it would take 86 years at the same rate to arrive at this power, but the lifetime of a Wind turbine is less than 25 years.

– Significant delays in consumption (60 TWh) of factories, heating of houses, heating of water or use of electrical appliances. Sometimes, depending on the wind, it may be necessary to shift them off when production is insufficient. It is therefore a trend towards less comfort since it would sometimes have to shift the working hours of employees, avoid heating his dwelling when it is cold, cooking when hungry …

– A supply-demand adjustment modeled too finely, the authors themselves stressing that the management of the stability of the electricity grid is not treated in the study.

Independently of the problems of intermittence and storage, this study of Ademe specifies that the maximum theoretical productible of renewables is, in France, 1268 TWh. But Ademe stresses that “there is no guarantee that production and demand will always fit”. This figure does not mean that all this energy is available: it should be removed from the inevitable loss of transport and storage, and especially what one would not be able to store because not necessarily produced at the moment we need it. This figure of 1268 TWh, although seemingly optimistic, is still considerably lower than the French energy consumption (1900 TWh in final energy paid by the consumer, almost 2900 TWh in primary energy before any transformation) and only confirms the conclusion we should considerably reduce our energy consumption to get out of fossils and nuclear power.

Historically, there has never been an economic growth associated with a decrease in energy consumption and this decoupling seems very unlikely. Therefore, policies that advocate the replacement of fossil and nuclear energy by renewables should begin by explaining how they will manage unemployment, public deficits, health, pensions, education, security, social welfare, etc. Economic decline.”


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Comments on the “Laudato Si”encyclical.

Translation from EFN’s blog of the web site

Link in french :

Link source : Laudato SI


Note first that many of the recommendations of the encyclical are very relevant, especially encouraging sobriety and humility in a world of wealth and an amazing complexity. The reference to humanism (§141) and the general idea of “saving the common house” can only bring together all people of good will. The ideal of simplicity and exaltation of the virtues of community life recall what we know of the Essenes, the model back to the original purity.

That said, despite the sympathy I have for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, I do not entirely share his opinion on several important issues. So I took my pen and I give you my thoughts below.

The guiding ideas

Throughout the text appear two very distinct attitudes:

• The collective takes precedence over the individual. In my view, the Christian doctrine fully integrates these two aspects of human activity and there is no need to oppose them (§208 : overcome individualism). When I read: “The ecological citizenship (is) the best of the human being. “I think, and charity ? the solidarity is first individually to the nearest neighbor ? Isn’t it ? An example will better light thing: the request of citizens towards municipal officials that “community” is committed to welcoming immigrants in distress seems little in comparison to the Action parishioners who host home said immigrants awaiting permanent solutions.


• We must safeguard, preserve what exists rather than take the lead, innovate and create. The encyclical does not take risks to promote a better world; it refers to a frozen world. A particular point surprise: known energy resources are limited (which is debatable) so you have to share them and book which must return to the poor. This immediately provides a moral requirement, it is true. What the hell ! seeking new sources, new ways of storage and we will loosen constraints. In this regard, speeches in the eighteenth century about the depletion of timber from forests are instructive. Except that to take advantage of the mistakes of the past must not be suspected of principle technical progress to be destructive and to convey a materialist worldview.

Rejection of the liberal system

It is obvious to the vast majority of people that the free market economy can not function without control, without regulatory bodies; they exist even in the face of the authorities to ensure that effective competition is maintained. European bodies involved in this field steadily and firmly. Nothing to hear the protests of the interested one can realize that the method works.

At the international level, there remains room for improvement. However, existing international treaties or under negotiation run in the right direction. There is no doubt still abuse. This is not a reason to condemn the system without mentioning the means implemented to correct the defects and the results already achieved. Its advantages and benefits are ignored. At the same time the negative effects of such economy that result papal teachings are hidden as if not talking made them disappear.

A few examples will show the state of mind:

The search for a reduction in production costs is considered an improper purpose (§141). But these costs consist for the most part of human labor and what could be more desirable to produce the same things with less human labor? The spirit of enterprise, initiative and human ingenuity always find employment in tasks that are not production. And whether the company can sustain some of its members without work, where’s the harm? Today there is a problem to adapt to new forms of work: it is not by fixing .the structures, institutions and methods of production that will solve it.

The use of carbon credits is rejected (§132) because it would allow speculation. At this rate, what about the money? Should we return to a barter economy? Needless to say the carbon market would require, too, regulation and supervision.

Finally, add that in the encyclical, the trial of the developed countries with liberal market economy is only instructed to the prosecution.

The anathema on financial activities

They are considered parasitic activities, bad in itself. Yet today they are required to finance the economy. We must therefore accept them, this does not mean to let them do anything. In fact these activities are among the most regulated and many of the excesses observed are due to a failure of the supervisory authorities whose leaders are appointed by the political power and remain under its control. This is where the problem is. It is therefore essential that citizens, political parties and the MPs seriously inform and determine according to their political and economic options the desirable degree of control and the level of autonomy of the regulatory authorities. A very controversial issue, particularly in France, deserves more attention: the separation of market activities and commercial activities. In no event of losses on the markets should not compromise customer deposits and business operation, this without the taxpayer is called to the rescue. The situation in this area is not satisfactory for the wrong reasons. But we must recognize that in recent crises, despite a few broken pots, governments have implemented quickly and effectively the measures it took to avoid the dramatic collapse of the system. Like what the worst is not always certain; progress (suspect concept, I know) has been made since the great depression of the thirties, especially in terms of international cooperation.

In financial matters, the question must be put aside, that of interest rates. We must, in my opinion, distinguish loans personal basis which we can, or rather we should apply the evangelical principles and those under the financing of the economy; to them it is legitimate to apply the laws of the market, a market that itself obeys the imperatives of the economy of the steering provided by those responsible for public finances in view of the common good.

Breach of the principles and virtues of representative democracy,

Whereas liberal economy to function properly and allow the poor as the rich benefit from its virtues should not be subject to unnecessary constraints but must obey strict rules guaranteeing the existence of competition and avoiding fraudulent excesses the question arises which will determine the rules and enforce them. Professional knowledge, of course, is necessary; it will not be enough by far, obviously. We will need also economists, sociologists, ethicists, psychologists etc. to propose solutions. But ultimately, the decision will rest with public authorities so policymakers. And this is where the discourse of our Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church, if you prefer, seems seriously inadequate. There is talk (§179) to put pressure on the institutions, the bodies consist of powerful but obliquely, as if Christians and people of good will in general had to be content with a marginal role! Why would they leave our brethren the field to only politicians who are looking for all the power. Far too many Christians especially among young people do not bother to vote. Why some of them could not aspire, personally, electoral mandates, they do not engage in the harsh political struggle. Jacques Delors is from this point of view an example to follow. Voters may be incompetent, their only job will be to elect one who shares their beliefs, following the principles of representative democracy.

Vis-à-vis future generations (§159)

Certainly we will forward their debts and we consumed a portion of natural resources; we will have made disturbances in the balance of the biosphere, even in the physicochemical state of the Earth. Should however consider that the balance of assets and liabilities that we will send them is necessarily against them? Nothing is less sure ! First, we have given life in abundance resulting in a much different situation than a Malthusian policy could produce them. Overpopulation is not a good thing, a contraction in world either. The men themselves are an asset. One has only to see the effects of demographic growth so sought after! We are not in a frozen world where useful activities that man can exercise would be predefined and limited. The world is expanding, ideas fuse, it’s not nothing. We deliver to our descendants a world somewhat dangerous but always full of new promises. Is not this exciting? Still, the main asset that we bequeath them is knowledge accumulated over generations and generations in all areas, ie which we generously made our contribution. Equipment, networks of all types may disappear, he will find out, the institutions and principles of democracy, freedom, solidarity, all of which do not go which despite gaps and shocking failures are still very much alive in the minds of humanists and are revered by most of our elected officials. Although often it is a hypocrisy, it is to be welcomed: it is, as the saying goes, the homage of vice to virtue. To us back on rules and frozen concepts, we risk letting out all the news that will correct the mistakes we have made.

Attitude towards the poor men, particular groups or nations

It is a duty to help those who live in poverty. That said, knowing that not everything can be done in a day, what is the best way to achieve this? Clearly, often for subsistence, it is not the food shortage; it is the means to send them to those in need. There appear the shortcomings of potential recipient countries, weak governance, competence and probity. We saw the property offered by rich nations to the poor captured by corrupt administrations and / or villainous mafias, diverted through food, sit despotic power. This is not a reason to give up but you have to see things realistically without interfering in local governance and its political implications. We can not say that the encyclical focuses on that subject.

The right approach, in my opinion, is to consider that all the poor manage to become rich when citizens will be able to choose effective leaders irrespective of religious or ideological question. Therefore education and training are essential. Welcome students in our universities and fund schools on site, universities too, is more important than building development plans. Grant scholarships to deserving students, dare I say, is better than to invite the children of leaders who, upon graduation, will leave to work in the US or represent their country in any of these international bodies whose missions are prestigious and questionable usefulness.

Natural morality and Nature

Do we really follow the advice of Our Holy Father and consider the nature basically good in the beginning, was perverted by irresponsible men? Such a conception obviously refers to the earthly paradise and all that follows. Is this sufficient to validate the thing? To subscribe, it would overshadow all the struggles, all the competition between living species and even between individuals of the same species long before the appearance of man on earth. Man is the product of these struggles. It would still be foolish to deny the altruistic tendencies that exist particularly in higher mammals, starting with the dedication of parents towards their offspring, necessary for the survival of the species. Probably the development of these behaviors altruistic beyond it is the family needed him, the development of social life and the ability to cooperate, which, among others, make the success of the human species. It is therefore reasonable to think that human nature coexist side of a selfish impulses that can be expressed in violent and despotic manner and the other altruistic tendencies leading to help the weak, educate the poor, to the reign of justice and peace.

In this perspective, Christ would come to give men the taste and the desire to develop his innate abilities to altruism. If nature was fundamentally and exclusively good, what need would be a redeemer? When the encyclical says that there is a natural morality, does this not the trace left throughout the West by centuries of sincere Christian faith vehicle an ideal of love and charity? This ideal, though often ignored, not least indirectly inspired all constitutions which are the founding texts of modern democracies. Thus, the church assigns more readily a naturalness to it that moral is ultimately a reflection of his own convictions.

Philanthropy and charity: the ways of development of countries with natural resources

Today, charity drifted philanthropy. Unfortunately, religious principles, whatever they are, can not inspire effective policy to optimize the well being of everyone. Obviously, defining the optimum well-being is something very difficult since, according to the most credible polls, the happiness of an individual depends largely on comparisons he can do with the situation of other persons or classes of people to the point that in a totally egalitarian society, happiness could be only a mirage and motivation to improve the common lot completely absent. The way forward was mentioned a little earlier: it would put poor people in a position to defend their interests and exploit their natural resources. In this regard, the case of the oil rent is instructive to take advantage of a deposit, it is necessary that there is a market (not magic) and investments in exploration and development exploitation. Without collective structures at the local level able to invest and thus to take risks, the use of private foreign contractors in the present case, provides a natural solution. After launching the operation, the rent sharing is needed willy-nilly, if pension ago. The resources obtained as well, provided they are in the hands of individuals or organizations not advised taking for their benefit that a reasonable share, allowing countries from holding wealth in the rough to legitimately defend their interests and finance a profitable economic development for all citizens. Must still a strong power, accepted by the population allows everyone to act rationally in a stable political context socio or at least predictable. The example of some Maghreb countries and the Arab and Persian Middle East shows that this scheme can work. Unfortunately, this is not always the case; but these are not necessarily the countries that have made the first investments that are responsible.

Anyway, once the poor populations reached a sufficient level of development, they know very well defend their property, if they wish keep their way of life and promote their culture. In an intermediate phase can be useful, even necessary, to provide them with aid in order to empower them to preserve their culture, yet the vision of the countries likely to intervene on what to do is not necessarily those countries that need help. So however great admiration we have for the works under foreign cultures, it is preferable that each judge himself of the merits of its heritage.

Catastrophism widespread

To believe the encyclical, the world would run to ruin: the poor are condemned to live in poverty and only anxious to eat, they would lose their cultural roots, nations would rise against each other to capture the natural resources , starting with water. Natural areas would be devastated, life in general and particularly human life would be threatened due to a share of the extinction of many species and other genetic manipulations to be reckless to make a profit or to achieve challenging goals ethics or even to satisfy a desire for power that would transform the scholars demiurges. And this catastrophic vision of the future is presented as if it were a revelation. In reality, these concerns are not new; men individually, political, public and private, national and international organizations, and scholars in their majority questioned the consequences of technological progress. That we should mobilize and coordinate all these energies to protect against risks that actually are not deniable, either! And papal initiative should be welcomed as an exceptionally powerful support to safeguarding immutable ethical principles. And yet, after greeting the benefits obtained through science and technology, our Holy Father retains much distrust of scientific and technical research (§105, §109, §136), while civil society appears as she did has ever done before the desire to control any negative consequences of progress: an increasing number of standards and regulations clearly show the permanent concern of the legislature and the public authorities to regulate the consequences of innovations and, most importantly, the precautionary principle, a principle enshrined in the constitution with all due solemnity, is a major advance, based on an innovative approach to how far were treated risk that technical innovations are likely to result. Why the encyclical did she say anything? Reasonably applied this principle should enable the control of future developments that all yearn, without giving the expected benefits of scientific progress.

Finally, how can we be as restrictive when it is known, and these are just two examples that one billion men, and no doubt many more were fired from misery by the progress of agriculture and means transportation and child mortality fell by almost half between 1990 and 2013 (UNICEF report released on 16/09/15) due to advances in medicine and hygiene? All this is disturbing and shows, in my view, a lack of confidence vis-à-vis the man and what he might do in the future.

Rhetoric appearance of text

The sincere convictions of the author, the relevance of certain arguments and sympathy that personally inspires the reader can push to take out a little fast with the views developed in the encyclical. Nevertheless, we must be aware that the views expressed are without debate and that the legitimate objections of those even good Christians, who are of a different opinion are almost always ignored. The rhetoric of our Holy Father, perfectly controlled, is very much there.

The technical methods include

• Lending to extravagant opinions opponents to discredit them (§144 and §196).

• Use pejorative terms to describe the attitudes, practices, systems that we fight “instrumental reason” (§219), “magic market design”, “irrational confidence in progress (§19)”, “paradigm dominant technocratic “(§81),” iron logic “(§108) etc. The next step is the demonization on purely ideological grounds and finally the debate without conviction. This led very ably without anathema too loud, without overtly vindictive.

• Give special meaning to a general phenomenon: the fact that the regulation is not applied, which is observed in all areas, would the sign in offending a particular hostility to environmental concerns. Always and everywhere the economic actors seeking to turn the laws and regulations for control and regulatory authorities to do their job, politicians to demand that investigations are made and the penalties imposed and enforced.

• The vocabulary to impress: for example, the word self-referentiality (§208); in the context where it is used egocentrism would have been more appropriate and understandable to the uninitiated.

Methodological problem in practical action

Certainly the issues of environment and social justice have links; it’s not as far as actions to improve the situation in each of these areas must be packed together: if one expects that democratic countries have abandoned the liberal economy for s’ engage in measures to limit global warming, the situation is not going to improve.



The prophetic accents of the Pope in the question time on the relevance of our economically advanced societies development models can provide the comforting feeling that someone finally has a compass. That the Pope and the ambition to play the role of inspirational guide seems quite natural. And you have to admire his boldness and communicative strength of his convictions. However, it appears that conversion to which he invites us must be accompanied by the rejection of the liberal market economy. This is a heavy option that deserves a specific debate. Especially since, to my knowledge, the definition of compatible economic system with the teaching of Scripture is an open question and that the founding principles of ecology do not imply, either, to discard a particular system.


Author: Jean-Pierre Sarrau

“ITER: an announced disaster.” (2010 but still available…)

Article in Libération August 10, 2010 under the title “Nuclear: stop Iter …”

So what we feared is happening: the estimated cost of ITER construction to go from 5 to 15 billion euros, it is question of making budgets suffer the consequences of funding for scientific research European. This is exactly the disaster we feared. It is time to abandon it.

ITER is the experimental reactor 7 countries decided to build in Cadarache (Provence) to test the ability to generate electricity from nuclear fusion. These countries are the United States, Europe, Russia, South Korea, Japan, China and India.

Nature magazine 1 July 2010 reveals that the European contribution should increase from 2.7 to 7.2 billion euros, of which 1.4 billion to find in 2012- 2013 budget Seventh terms of European research. Europe has in fact committed to 6.5 billion euros in late July. For France, the expense will represent more than all loans (excluding salaries) available to all laboratories of physics and biology for twenty years! Many other more research, including the energy future of our planet so threatened.

Why more important?

Check the fusion to generate electricity is an old dream. But unlike fission that quickly allowed to build our current nuclear power plants, the merger poses problems for over 50 years, we can not solve.

To summarize: the method involves heating a mixture of heavy hydrogen (a plasma of deuterium and tritium) to 100 million degrees by speeding in an enclosure shaped ring. At such a temperature, the nuclei fuse, releasing a colossal energy. It is the energy released by hydrogen bombs, but ITER is not dangerous because the amounts of hydrogen are very small.

To control this energy, three major challenges must be overcome:

maintain the plasma within the chamber (it is unstable), produce tritium in industrial quantities and invent materials to enclose the plasma UHV in an enclosure of some thousands of cubic meters.

It was only from 2019 that ITER should begin studying the first difficulty. Now it seems that the most formidable is the third: violently irradiated by high-energy neutrons (14 MeV) emitted by plasma fusion, materials of the enclosure lose their mechanical strength. It was nice we say we can imagine materials that will stand the irradiation because they are both waterproof and porous, we are at least skeptical waterproof and porous, is not it contradictory? No one, so far, managed to prove otherwise.

Suffice to say that we are far from the development of a power plant prototype and a commercial seeded finally the advent of a new power generation sector. Puncture other basic research projects on the grounds that this would be an almost infinite source of energy is therefore not justified. Plasma physics is to be financed in the same way as other major areas of basic research, not beyond.

Now our energy problem is urgent.

It is immediately need to save energy and replace fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal), responsible for global warming, by clean energy. The only massive energy source that is free of carbon dioxide, is the fission at work in our current nuclear power plants.

We know that it will become sustainable when the 4th generation plants (G-IV), which will transform the current waste into fuel and thus provide clean energy for at least 5000 years.

Superphenix was a prototype. After some unavoidable technical problems for a prototype, and in spite of many administrative and political problems Superphenix worked remarkably well for a year. Its closure in 1998 resulted in a requirement of Dominique Voynet of the Greens to participate in the Jospin government.

Instead of investing in ITER, the international community and especially Europe would do better to rebuild a G-IV type of plant to improve what has already taught us Superphenix.

It could also accelerate research on other G-IV power plants, known as “molten salt”. They will use thorium, an abundant element, and whose use is less of a proliferation concerns that uranium and plutonium in the current chain.

Today, unfortunately, Euratom is clearly commissioned on the merger. Globally, although it is difficult to obtain precise figures, research appropriations related G-IV are about 10 times lower than those allocated to ITER. The only countries that build plants of this type are the Russians, Japanese and Indians.

In this time of economic crisis when looking for clean, sustainable solutions to global warming is urgent, it is essential to direct public funds toward the real priorities. They told us that ITER being engaged, it would be very expensive to stop. This argument is not satisfactory. Construction has not begun, only the field is set. If you continue, all research sectors will suffer.

This situation reminds the construction of the International Space Station, ISS. Another mammoth project, the ISS has cost 100 billion dollars and our fellow astrophysicists still remember the cuts that its construction entrained. But what served the ISS? Practically nothing. To observe the Earth or the universe, it is better to send robots into orbit, they are more stable and cheaper. In fact, the astronauts are bored up there. So they spend their time studying their own health !

ITER is likely to be similar: if built, this big machine will only serve to study the stability of the ITER plasma. 15 billion euros for that, is not it a bit much? Especially since, by 2019, this cost may be revalued again …

So rather than hide poor initial decision by a worse climbing again, it would be better finally admit that the project gigantism is disproportionate to the expectations that management appears deficient, our budgets do not allow us to continue, and transfer this money to the useful research.

Sébastien Balibar, research director at CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris.

Georges Charpak, Nobel Prize in Physics.

Jacques Treiner, Emeritus Professor at the University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.


“El Hierro, a 100% renewable electricity island ?”

El Hierro, a 100% renewable electricity island ?

Hubert Flocard

(“El Hierro, une île à l’électricité 100% renouvelable ?”)


Quick english translating french NGO “Let’s Save The Climate” :

This summer, media have plenty commented of what the island of El Hierro, in the Canary Islands, now benefited from a 100% renewable electricity mix. In fact this ad was not supported by all and for all, that two hours of operation of the facility Gorona del Viento (GoV). On 9 August, a brief demonstration line with the objective announced in the project document has been completed. Cheerful, on behalf of the Union of Renewable Energy, Segolene Royal, the environment minister and the French energy immediately rewarded the project.

What is the overall findings today, this facility opened in June 2014? A considerable financial investment, based on 43% of the Spanish and European public subsidies, leading to a complex system with more than 34 MW of installed capacity (diesel, wind and energy transfer pumping station by one third each) on an island whose maximum power requirement of only 7.6 MW, four times less.

GdV product that has almost nothing for a whole year woke up in late June 2015. The reality of performance after six months of real operation in the second half of 2015 is as follows: For the three months more favorable because the windiest from late June to late September, the renewable contribution was less than 42%. On a half year, the result is even more disappointing with only 30% renewable coverage. For 13% of the time, power consumption has been fully ensured by the diesel plant. In fact, given the wind and electricity consumption, even though every effort had been made to achieve the best possible coverage renewable, one that could not exceed 46.3%.

What explains such modest performance against stated objectives, leading to considerable cost per MWh produced by GoV since 2015, it will be about four times the price of MWh provided by the diesel plant and resulting in a cost of avoided CO2 over 1000 € / ton ? We have identified two causes: first the limitations of wind generation that is in summer is too strong for the hydraulic capacity of the plant or at other times is almost nonexistent; secondly, the contract that the Spanish state has agreed to sign with the funder consortium to 57% of the cost of GoV, a contract that does not favor the search for optimal environmental performance.

In short, unrealistic announcements, gullible media deplorable governance and a very expensive technical partial success for the Spanish citizen.

Hubert Flocard describes the functions and capabilities of El Hierro in a study to download to:

(In french)


Low radioactive doses: instill doubt even without legitimate reason

Some nuclear skeptics say low doses are dangerous and so this low carbon must not be deployed massively because of the danger when an accident occurs. This article shows how wrong an opinion it is.

Translation of french blog : “antiscientific press”

(Sorry for automatic translation)

According to a researcher at INSERM, the rule of LNT (Linear No Threshold Relationship) concerning radioactive radiation would be too optimistic. We would all be in danger.

It’s quite the opposite.
This rule is overly cautious and dates from a time when you could still formalize the safety of low doses.

Link to Publication refuted in this post:

There is much to say about this article as: “The risk of low radiation doses should be reassessed” appeared in Sciences et Avenir August 5, 2015 and Ms. Thébaud-Mony.
Indeed, the author is not a biologist and his interview is dotted with nonsense (such as birth defects or frequency of post Chernobyl cancers)

This is an article biased, mixing true or false assertions and presented as mere hypotheses established.

Three examples:

There is not a shred of evidence of a “supra-linear” for the appearance of cancer after exposure to low doses.

It may be radiation-induced defects during fetal exposure, but it has never demonstrated after exposure of prospective parents themselves.

There is no transmission of these defects to offspring (hereditary radiation-induced defects have been identified in animals, not humans)

Conversely :

1) There is reliable evidence for a radiation-induced cancer risk proportionately lower (or no?) Low doses (<100 mSv) compared with high doses.

Why this is known and schematically, for DNA damage induced by low doses, the organism favors the absence of repair or apoptosis, which leads to cell death (thus the damaged cells n 'not evolve into cancer cells).

In high doses, the DNA repair is imperative to preserve the function of the exposed organ; a cell can then be repaired badly, with one or more mutations that may be a step in a process leading to a cancer cell.

For high doses, other defense mechanisms (control by the cellular microenvironment, or by the immune system) are submerged and become ineffective.

This shows that the tissues do not defend the same way against strong, low doses (besides the genes activated in response to irradiation are different), so the linear extrapolation of the effects of high doses to zero, as does the LNT, is meaningless.

2) epidemiological studies on irradiated Hiroshima Nagasaki and nuclear workers (including the latest INWORKS study (1)) show no cancer risk increased significantly below an exposure of 100 mSv. Studies on child may show lower limits, but they are not entirely convincing (eg, studies after scanner (s) X-rays in childhood does not account for why Scanner has been made).

3) the effect of hormesis (protection against the effects of ionizing rayonements with small doses of exposure, like Mithridates) was clearly demonstrated in mice in the analysis of available publications made by Duport in 2003 (study about 60,000 mice, 40% of experimental series show a very clear effect of hormesis).
A credible mechanism was found by Portess in 2007 (Low-dose irradiation of nontransformed cells Stimulate the selective removal of precancerous cells via intercellular induction of apoptosis).
Finally an effect of hormesis is common in chemical toxicology; this is not a fantasy of pro-nuclear activist.

4) Unlike some laboratory animals, there is still no conclusive evidence of an effect of hormesis in humans but only very strong evidence. Check whether or not this effect exists in humans, and especially to what extent, will require a considerable biological and epidemiological research effort.
The complexity of costly cofactors make a rigorous scientific study and its ROI will be low. And those whose is the goodwill to warn about the dangers of excessively low doses would have much to lose to insist that it takes place (hearing for the press, memberships and grants for NGOs, development of regulatory bodies , …).

Hint: It may be noted that for nuclear workers, the risk of cancer for people who have been exposed to low doses well below the spontaneous risk in unexposed; it can be a "healthy worker effect", but it would be unusually large.

Source Wikipedia –
The hormesis is a phenomenon well known and well documented, not just for radioactivity, also in terms of chemical toxicity: just a tiny little poison effectively stimulates the defense mechanisms. It is a general rule that applies, inter alia, to radioactivity.

As a reminder of our great scientist:

"Although it can be argued that" The absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence "
we never make choices only on absolute data, but only on probabilistic data.
Do not observe a phenomenon increases the calculable probability so that it does not exist. "

Cognitive biases do the rest. Without being aware of it, we are moving towards the theses we intuitively satisfying, we have already selected a priori as a result of the influence of "cognitive market."

Or sprinkling of financial resources to oversee the "nothing" asphyxiation them greatly deleterious areas where needs are urgent (tobacco, illiteracy, carbon, …). Democracy must recover.
The risk of not acting is often overlooked in favor of the much lower risk of acting.

So one wonders why the magazine "Sciences et Avenir" will look, to talk about the effects of low doses, a notorious militant who, according to PubMed, never published anything on the subject.

Thébaud-Mony same was as Director of research at INSERM, "public health specialist," which to the uninformed reader Sciences et Avenir means "competent in medicine and biology", but in reality, Wikipedia dixit Annie Thébaud-Mony is a French sociologist of health, known for its research and community work on occupational diseases.

A visit to the sitesébaud-Mony
or is illuminating.

The second link provides on its page and its "publications" which are three exceptions to articles or books activists, as ordinary books published and not peer-reviewed journals. So three exceptions:

1) With D. Walters, R. Johnstone, K. Frick, M. Quinlan & Baril-Gingras G. (ed.) Regulating Workplace Risks. A comparative study of inspection regimes in times of change. Edward Elgar Publishing. 400 p.

2) A Multidisciplinary network about occupational cancer in Paris suburb, Seine-Saint-Denis (France). First results of a pro-active research (with the SCOP 93 network), International journal of occupational and environmental health, 2005, 11, 263-275.

3) Repair the damage related to work? Social relations, institutional laws and practices, Social Sciences and Health, 2003, 21 (4), 105-113.

The second is a collective work (it is not mentioned in the summary) and the third is unknown PubMed …

Consider then an article and a half according to current assessments.
Access the rank of Research Director at INSERM with such a record he has earned or the result of political balance? Each judge.

Sciences et Avenir has nothing of the requirements of a scientific publication, it is an extension of the body that is to scoop the draw: the anguish sells particularly when it is written by a director of the INSERM strong known in the art.

Thébaud-Mony Ms. sees an epidemic of cancers, regularly denounced in various journals of Social Sciences where she accumulated abundant literary production. It offers quite regularly, without justification other than his partisan faith research topics on occupational cancer to agencies sometimes have weak financing; there has never been any scientific proof of the assumptions it made nor the least acceptable method to check the plausibility. She seems sincerely convinced of the conspiracy theory that places academic toxicologists in the class of profiteers ulterior interests, which makes her a partner listening in the world of social sciences strong fond of these treats.

"Another explanation is its managing editor, seems to be herself a convinced anti-nuclear. The press ethics is slow to progress, publications are often influenced by the ideologies they are made, and not always balanced by the opposite opinion. "

Cf the work of the french association "Information Citizens"(Citoyensdelinfo) totally independent association that advocates a French press council (as in Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Austria, South Africa, Tunisia, etc …). This will allow ( only the form and not in substance) to promote ethical dialogue within the journalistic profession, and limit the exploitation by publishers of their power of influence. "


(1) Study INWORKS:
Search: First results of the epidemiological study INWORKS on the risk of leukemia among workers in the nuclear industry


Normal leukemia risk is 20/10000, and here it would be spent 21/10000 for workers. You call this effect "devastating"?

On the interesting comments in Nature:

The study only considers occupational doses
while the medical doses varied widely and is higher today than professional, unlike the beginning of the study period …

And remember untreated uncertainties in the reference mortality rates. In short, the result is much more uncertainsuretenucleaire announced by IRSN.

The data processing rejects those not compatible with the linear increase with the elimination of the first 10 years …

(2) Self called the confirmation INWORKS 10/20/2015:

"Prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation, even at low doses, increases the risk of so-called solid cancers, according to research on nuclear workers."

Other sources:

Sources scientifically prove these assertions.

In anti chronological order:

a) The linear no-threshold theory is historically based on scientific concealment of Professor Hermann Muller
(Nobel Prize 1946 Medicine for having discovered the mutagenic effects of radiation) – Released by Bruno Comby – EFN – 2011

and the Benefits of Low-Dose Radiation – Jerry Cuttler, Myron Pollycove – 2009…

When will we acknowledge the reality? Jerry M. Cuttler – 2006…

d) – Dose-effect relationships and estimates of the carcinogenic effects of low doses of ionizing radiation
[French National Academy of Medicine] March 6, 2005



Comment :

The rapid development of science arouses distrust a foul to understand its operation.
Scientists, mostly inhabited by the requirement of rigor and progress, are routinely suspected of collusion and dishonesty. Projections of our own greed vices? And this without cause in the majority of cases (pharmacy pretend me more concerned than other industry saw baskets of secu.)

The drift is often about the inability to relativize the dangers: That can not be said enough that everything is in the dose. But few are concerned about it and anxiety wins, including with the nocebo effect. (radiation (mSv), microwave, bisphenol, endocrine disruptors, …). This does not mean of course that we should not strict standards and respected.

In fact, one must realize that the absence of technical progress is more deleterious than the very low numbers impacts of its progress (see the rapid increase in life expectancy). The lifestyle in developed countries, carries the vast majority of sore (tobacco, psychotropic substances, overweight or over-nutrition, exhaustion, stress and sedentary lifestyle, neuroses, and psychosomatic effects nocebos), the individual seeks a goat envoy to justify its difficulties.




Translation from the french site :

* YVES BRÉCHET is a physicist, member of the French Academy of Sciences.

He was elected to the Academy of Sciences in 2010 at the age of forty-nine years, and it has since been one of its most listened members.

Wikipedia :échet

From the “bad humor duty” to the “defense of the public good”

“We live in strange times … “”

Soon published…
Waiting autorisation…

Will Germany go out from the way out of nuclear power?

(Translation from the EFN’s french blog (Environmentalists For the Nuclear) – aepn –


Will Germany go out from the way out of nuclear power?

For now, Germany has not regretted its progressive phasing-out of nuclear energy yet. Of course the majority is still not convinced that it is a huge mistake and it will take time.

Past sorrows explain many things:

1) the guilt of having created a Reich that was one of the initiators of the military nuclear energy,

2) the trauma of having imagined Germany as an operation field of military nuclear missiles between East and West

3) East German guilt from having approved a communist regime which has made Chernobyl possible (great human drama, but equivalent to one week of the European deaths linked to tobacco.)

So when will people be aware of the need to return to civil nuclear power, if we really want stop fossil fuel production and reach factor 4 without outsourcing its CO2 ? With the Generation IV? Or in 2100? Or sooner than expected?

In the meantime, can we venture to predict a postponement of the judgment of the last reactor? Even given the deliquescence of the industry?

To be continued… Never say Never.

Anyway hangover is already here in Germany:

Hopefully, this model can only be an illusion temporarily in one country, as long as it appropriates the margins of others and storage remain prohibitive (long). Its forced sales are certainly not lost for everyone; skillful especially for a very liberal country.