Jesse how much oil is embedded in European renewables? Calculate the energy
budget along the entire pipeline form the original mining of raw materials
all the way through final disposal of obsolete windmills/panels etc. How
much of this energy is fossil in nature?

Believe me I am all for renewables and am just as much a proponent of
building green and in general increasing energy efficiency, but the fact
remains that there is a huge fossil input into the renewable energy
industrial supply chain. For example the production of polysilicon is very
energy intensive. If Europe outsources its pollution to places like China -
a big supplier of PV to Europe - it still counts as pollution and to the
extent that the supply chain of renewables depends on fossil inputs these
sectors will remain tied to whatever supply/demand curves drive the global
fossil energy market.

As fossil energy prices skyrocket - because energy is very inelastic demand
- what affect will this have on the global renewable energy supply chain?

Everything is inextricably bound up with all these massive global spanning
systems and extricating ourselves from the mess we have made of things on
this earth will not be as easy as I think many hope it will be. 

Just as the resource limits - especially fossil energy (including uranium) -
begin to drive an unrelenting global economic contraction the world is also
going to have to begin dealing with the tailpipe consequences of a hundred
years of really dumping our shit into the biosphere. Look at any metric you
choose: global human population explosion; collapsing marine and terrestrial
ecologies; global annual rates of desertification and deforestation; global
mean moving average temperature rising; mass extinction going on (amphibian
species disappearing very rapidly); Fukushima; peak oil; loss of natural
organic fertility in soils globally; eutrophication of lakes and waterways
and growing dead zones; mono-crop petro-chemical dependent industrial scale
profit driven agriculture. the list could go on.

Put all of this together and then focus all of these effects into the small
period of say fifty years - the fifty years ahead of us - I am not as
sanguine as some here that our species will be able to ride the buffeting
compounding effects (at every phase in the supply chain) that all of these
global trends will begin and already are having.

I certainly hope we can make a transition to a wiser way of living, but am
not so sure we will do it based on what I see going on all around me in this
earth I inhabit. For the earth it matters less & less what Europe or the USA
does and increasingly global ecological and resource availability outcomes
will be driven by what China and India decide to do over the next thirty
years - IMO.

Cheers [even though it is a less than cheerful subject, wish it were
different]

-Chris

 

From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
[mailto:everything-list@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Richard Ruquist
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:00 AM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Is Earth F**ked?

 

I think a solar flare will end it first

 

On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 9:24 AM, Jesse Mazer <laserma...@gmail.com> wrote:

I think there's a strong chance climate change will end technological
civilization, but I also think the situation is not hopeless, there are
reasonably plausible scenarios I can imagine where we would avoid this fate.
Chris, you mention "disruptive technologies on the energy front" but if you
are talking about major technological innovations I don't think that's
actually necessary, if the political will is there to transition away from
carbon, it's possible to make up the energy with other existing technologies
like solar, wind, and possibly nuclear (though I think that has the problem
of a large time to build each plant). The E.U. has a plan to get their
energy nearly 100% from renewables by 2050, and they're well on track to
meet their Kyoto goal of 20% of their energy from renewables by 2020 (see
http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2013100901_en.htm and
http://www.wwf.eu/?207523/New-policy-can-put-the-EU-on-track-to-reach-100-re
newable-energy ). The U.S. could start to follow suit although they're
obviously behind--I think younger generations are more in favor of taking
action to cut carbon, and demographic changes are making the U.S. more
liberal overall (sad that saving the world from climate disaster has become
identified as a specifically "liberal" cause in the U.S., but that's how it
is), so there may be the votes to sign on to a similar plan within the next
decade. 

 

Even if there's more of a global effort to cut carbon soon there's still the
issue that temperature lags behind carbon in the atmosphere, and that carbon
takes a long time to get cycled out...I'm not sure what the latest
projections are for the temperature increase by 2100 if there is a worldwide
drop-off soon, it may still be at a civilization-destroying level. So my
other hope is that technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere
artificially will be developed alongside emissions cuts--there are already
prototype "artificial trees" which remove carbon 1000 times faster than real
trees, but currently the technology is fairly expensive (see
http://io9.com/5950271/could-artificial-trees-solve-the-global-warming-crisi
s and http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/01/22/reverse-emissions/ for some
links). As with solar and other technologies it's plausible the cost will go
down though. I also hope that as automated manufacturing technologies
develop, we will eventually reach a point where we have something
approaching a self-replicating robot factory, or perhaps just a
sophisticated 3D printer, that can build and assemble all the parts needed
to make another factory/printer, and another etc. At that point I expect the
cost of all goods that could be manufactured by such a factory/printer would
tend to drop pretty dramatically, and having them churn out massive numbers
of carbon-removal devices (along with other helpful things like solar
panels) might not cost much more than the price of the raw materials and
energy that they need to be "fed" with. I don't have much of a sense of a
timescale for how many decades it would take to reach this point of fully
automated self-replicating machines, but I suspect it could be done before
2100 if civilization doesn't fall apart in the meantime.

 

For those of us who favor the multiverse idea, I suppose the stoic attitude
would be to accept that some possible futures from this point will see
civilization being destroyed by climate change, while others will avoid it,
and all we can do is make whatever little contribution we can towards
efforts which increase the proportion of survivors...

 

Jesse

 

On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 2:01 AM, Chris de Morsella <cdemorse...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

Will we be around in 100 years? That is an open question. Some will point to
the fact that we did not blow ourselves up during the cold war, and we
didn't, but times change and the planetary resource equations have also
changes, and dramatically so in some cases. During the cold war both the
Soviet Union and the USA were for the most part resource rich and energy
independent. 

The world has become on one hand more unipolar with a twenty year era of
American ascendance, but also increasingly multi-polar as well with the rise
of powers such as China and India and to a lesser extent Brazil. The other
thing that has changed is that both the USA and Russia are not nearly as
rich in resources as they once were. No new super mega fields have been
discovered in Russia and the eastern Siberian mega fields are in depletion
now. The Russians seem to pin their hopes and dreams on global warming
melting the polar ice cap and them seizing control of hypothetical super
mega fields that some think may exist in that basin. 

The Americans meanwhile are in full blown bubble fever with the shale play -
America the new Saudi Arabia and all that glossy PR BS. To see how
unsustainable this boom is one only has to look at the depletion rates of
drilled wells. Fracking will open up a flow of gas and in shale oil bearing
rock an oil like tar that can be made to flow if sweated out of the rock
with a witches brew of chemicals and heat. But it is sucking the water
tables dry and the wells after only a few years begin to deplete at a rate
that is much higher than the typical depletion rates of gas and oil wells
that have been assumed in the costing and financial statements that have
formed the bases for funding. In order to sustain this boom an ever
increasing number of well will need to be sunk and the fever pace of
drilling sustained just in order to stay abreast of the depletion rates.

This is not just a matter of return on capital invested, which as the impact
of rapid depletion on a projects lifetime costing estimates and revenue
projections etc. begins to fall back down to earth, will be huge, but also
in terms or EROI (or ERoEI) - or energy returned on energy invested. During
the 1930s-1960s in the epic supermega fields, such as Gawar the EROI was
even above 100X in some cases. Now it is down way down and as the overall
energy costs of say developing the Bakken formations becomes apparent as the
sector matures it will sink in that the energy payback is getting down
towards marginality.

While I certainly hope we can manage our energy and resource availability
decline with grace I fear we are more likely to go out instead in some
existential desperate energy war - and the US military has a strategy in
place since 1973 called Last Man Standing that I think pretty well sums up
the kind of strategic thinking (insanity perhaps) going on in these circles.
It's not just the US that is eying the last places on earth that have oil
(and other strategic resources as well) - as the downward pressure of
depletion begins to really put the squeeze on the world's industrial and
military powers the last remaining places that have oil will become flash
points of wars that will become central for the survival or not of large
powers.

Look - I am saddened by these thoughts and wish it could be otherwise,
perhaps it will. I have hope in our better nature, not much though.

When millions of people in the former well off areas of the world - in the
US & Europe & Japan - within decades find their worlds falling down around
them as energy starvation leads to chronic contraction of the economy and a
massive social dislocation as people get shed en mass and increasingly left
to fend for themselves. Imagine the potential for the rise of fascist
demagogues who fire up masses of angry confused people with easy answers and
easy enemies (internal and foreign) In times of rapidly falling living
standards there is upheaval. Now look at the Asian powers. at China & India
- which cling to a social contract premised on an unachievable materialist
dream. What happens when hundreds of millions of people in these countries
realize they, nor their children will ever climb out from under grinding
poverty and that the future that had been promised them will never
materialize for them. for the 1% sure, but not for them.

I just cannot see happy stable societies thriving in this kind of world. I
also do not see any disruptive technologies on the energy front that will
allow us to side step the planets looming fossil energy bottleneck. 

I hope our world can transition to a lower energy and more resource frugal
life style versus pedal to the metal straight over the cliff, which is our
current trajectory, but the momentum of current systems and powerful
psychological/behavioral drivers in us such as greed, short term thinking.

-Chris

 

 

From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
[mailto:everything-list@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of LizR
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:25 PM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Is Earth F**ked?

 

On 31 October 2013 12:13, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

Of course if there are 7 billion people it's more likely there will be
survivors than if there are only few million.  But an asteroid strike could
easily be big enough to wipe-out all terrestrial life bigger than bacteria.
We have the concept now, but we don't have any ability to do anything about
it and we probably still won't fifty years from now.

 

But we might in 100 years, or 200, if we continue to advance
technologically, which still gives us a good chance of averting any
impending impacts. Whereas if we revert to, say, a Medieval level of
technology, we'll have no chance whatsoever.

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