• TheMadFool
    2.4k
    What does that mean in practical terms? Is it not just a trendy soundbite that has no meaningful implications?karl stone

    Mass mobilization, causally speaking, requires a conjunction of opportunities which I feel is not within the reach of many of us. Add to that the fact that most people with the right number of audience aren't bothered by environmental issues. I'm talking about celebrities.

    So, it seems to me, those of us who are concerned about the world are left with no choice but to do our stuff at a much lower social stratum e.g. we can raise te awareness of our family or friends or community. We then hope that our efforts spread out from their.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    201
    I suggest we can mortgage fossil fuels while still in the ground, and use that money to apply sustainable energy technology. I also suggest floating solar panels at the equator, producing hydrogen fuel - did you read the OP? Solar panels would not provide electricity directly. Hydrogen fuel would be burnt in power stations, and electricity transmitted through existing grids. Thus, nighttime etc isn't an issue.karl stone

    Yeah my bad, I read the hydrogen part, but didn't think about it writing my post. It was more an example of the type of questions I would have.

    I guess the main issue then might be the cost and efficiency of producing hydrogen. I allways hear that it's not particulary energy efficient, but i'm no expert so...

    The mortgages and the hydrogen production are two seperate things it seems to me, as mortgages can be used to finance whatever renewable energy source. And the market would presumably favor the one that cost the least.

    Oh super - you had a thought. I've been thinking about this for many, many years, but you think your off the cuff impressions are more likely to be true? Not! Did you know for example, that a nuclear power station requires about half the energy it will ever produce in the construction phase alone - and that's to say nothing of the carbon cost of managing nuclear waste forever afterward?karl stone

    Though I don't claim to be an expert, I did know that the construction costs were high, and I also know that the production cost itself of nuclear energy are very low. My point was only that the discussion seems more ideological than rational concerning nuclear energy, and that if needed, we should choose nuclear power rather then let CO2 levels rise... until we figure out how to run everything on renewables. But maybe we can allready.
  • Jake
    898
    Hi again Karl,

    Well, obviously we're not opposed to clean energy and abundant fresh water. If we confine your post to a purely technical analysis of how to solve purely technical problems, your ideas may be worth considering. I don't really feel qualified to analyze your technical ideas, but they are interesting to examine.

    I would however decline your larger claim that these technical fixes will "save the world". We tried to "save the world" by implementing the industrial revolution, and what we accomplished was to replace one set of problems with another set of problems that are arguably larger. We tried to "save the world" with the Manhattan project, and what we accomplished was to put human civilization less than an hour away from destruction in every moment of every day.

    You're trying to apply technical fixes to a problem which is not fundamentally technical. The real problem can be described with a single four letter word. More.

    What the evidence shows is that whatever technical powers we develop we will relentlessly push the envelope in a reckless manner in the endless quest for more, more, and more. And by doing so we continue a process of giving ourselves more power than we can successfully manage.

    Your ideas might give us some breathing room, but if successful they just kick the can down the road a little bit and we'll soon find ourselves once again up against the wall. As example, endless free clean energy would result in us burning through other finite resources at an accelerated rate. The problem gets moved from one box to another box, but the real problem doesn't get addressed, or solved.

    It appears that, like most of our culture, you've bought in to the science "religion" which has as many or more problems than regular religion.

    Explained further here.
  • karl stone
    224
    According to the latest climate report from the UN, we have even less time to do something "to save the world" than we thought: 12 years...Bitter Crank

    I've read articles about the report, but I haven't read the thing itself. "Act now, idiots!" - was the title of one such article. But the last thing we need is an idiotic reaction. Instead, we need to be cleverer than we've ever been.

    Of course we can cut CO2 emissions to practically zero in 12 years (or say 24). When Japan, Germany, Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States mobilized for WWII, heaven and earth were moved. Tremendous productive forces were employed to build the capacity to wage massive war. We can do it again for CO2 reduction.Bitter Crank

    I thought about that as an approach, a war for sustainability - turn over entire national economies to the effort, but I do not think it would work. In wartime, they shoot deserters - the most graphic example of a much larger negation of freedom. Similarly, I think - a war for sustainability would require the negation of freedom on a grand scale, and that's best avoided - not just because people would hate it, but because the entire political and economic system of the west is built on freedom.

    How?

    Convert private auto manufacture to mass transit production.
    Start a crash wind turbine and solar cell production program; install widely.
    Build large energy storage batteries.
    Immediately reduce consumption of goods which are not merely unnecessary, but are useless.
    Reorganize life for need rather than profit.
    Obviously: end coal and petroleum production.
    Bitter Crank

    What you seem to be describing here is a centrally planned economy, and that has failed again and again to deliver for people and the planet. If you would argue capitalism is bad for the environment visit Russia or China. Without a market value, resources tend to be abused. The philosophical notion is titled "Tragedy of the Commons" by Harding - if I recall correctly.

    It can be done, but it will almost certainly NOT be done because the short-term costs of saving the planet will cost the rich more money than they can stand losing. It will be necessary to liquidate the wealth of the richest 1%. (Mind, that is liquidate the wealth -- not liquidate the wealthy. Liquidating the wealthy gets too much bad PR.)Bitter Crank

    It can be done, I agree. And the OP here discusses one possible technological solution - that's also a political and economic solution that respects freedom to the greatest degree possible. If we lose our freedom we will never get it back, so I'm sorry - but in my view, a war for survival is not the way to go.
  • karl stone
    224
    Mass mobilization, causally speaking, requires a conjunction of opportunities which I feel is not within the reach of many of us. Add to that the fact that most people with the right number of audience aren't bothered by environmental issues. I'm talking about celebrities.
    So, it seems to me, those of us who are concerned about the world are left with no choice but to do our stuff at a much lower social stratum e.g. we can raise the awareness of our family or friends or community. We then hope that our efforts spread out from their.
    TheMadFool

    A crowd sourced future. I have no principled objections - have at it, make some noise. But ultimately, it would be to put pressure on government and industry to take the matter seriously. What I'm trying to do is develop a philosophy of political economy that promotes sustainability - such that, sustainability is a function of those systems; not some extra burden - but the very means of economic progress. I don't see this as a zero sum game - in which, for one to win the other must lose. In my philosophy capitalism is indispensable to the solution - only capitalism directed in the course of a common acceptance of a scientific understanding of reality. That is to say, science first, and profit second.
  • karl stone
    224
    Yeah my bad, I read the hydrogen part, but didn't think about it writing my post. It was more an example of the type of questions I would have.ChatteringMonkey

    You're my hero! I love that you straight up admitted it. Kudos!

    I guess the main issue then might be the cost and efficiency of producing hydrogen. I allways hear that it's not particulary energy efficient, but i'm no expert so...ChatteringMonkey

    No, you're right. The system I describe has all the thermodynamic efficiency of a steam train. There's an energy loss with conversion from electricity to hydrogen fuel, and from hydrogen fuel back into electrical energy - that's not dissimilar to the heat loss from the fire box and boiler of a steam locomotive. However, it's a clean process, and the sun is blazing down upon millions of square miles of ocean anyway. Capturing that sunlight and turning it into fuel made from seawater - effectively negates that thermodynamic inefficiency, like we'd still be using steam trains if we had an infinite amount of coal that didn't harm the environment.

    The mortgages and the hydrogen production are two seperate things it seems to me, as mortgages can be used to finance whatever renewable energy source. And the market would presumably favor the one that cost the least.ChatteringMonkey

    Well, arguably, given that applying this technology is premised upon accepting a scientific understanding of reality as authoritative - it follows that the market would put the science before the profit motive. I entirely accept there are experts who know better than me, and while I'd argue for my technological solution relative to others, there are other technologies - and the best scientific and technological advice to the market might not be my advice, in which case - listen to them.

    Though I don't claim to be an expert, I did know that the construction costs were high, and I also know that the production cost itself of nuclear energy are very low. My point was only that the discussion seems more ideological than rational concerning nuclear energy, and that if needed, we should choose nuclear power rather then let CO2 levels rise... until we figure out how to run everything on renewables. But maybe we can allready.ChatteringMonkey

    The financial cost of building a nuclear power station is not the point. Climate change is the point. Nuclear power produces carbon free electricity, however, because construction requires as much as half the energy it will ever produce - it is only half as carbon neutral as it appears, and that's without taking into account the carbon costs of looking after the nuclear waste forever afterward.
  • karl stone
    224
    Hi again Karl,

    Well, obviously we're not opposed to clean energy and abundant fresh water. If we confine your post to a purely technical analysis of how to solve purely technical problems, your ideas may be worth considering. I don't really feel qualified to analyze your technical ideas, but they are interesting to examine.
    Jake

    "Jake!"

    Hiya Jake!

    That's not exactly what my post is about. I just needed to prove that sustainability was technologically possible - and it is. Rather, my post is about creating the political and economic rationale to apply the technology without over-turning the apple cart of global capitalism.

    I would however decline your larger claim that these technical fixes will "save the world".Jake

    I know. I read your other thread. Interesting thesis. I'm sorry I haven't replied on your thread yet, but I'm hitting this hard - here and elsewhere right now. I get it. You think of technology like the Chinese finger trap - the harder you pull the more it grips. The answer is implicit in my thesis; that we accept a scientific understanding of reality as a basis for the application of technology because, what you don't appreciate is...

    We tried to "save the world" by implementing the industrial revolution, and what we accomplished was to replace one set of problems with another set of problems that are arguably larger. We tried to "save the world" with the Manhattan project, and what we accomplished was to put human civilization less than an hour away from destruction in every moment of every day.Jake

    ...that science as truth was suppressed, primarily by religion, and thus technology was applied for power and profit, not as a scientific understanding of reality would suggest. Consider, in reality as described by science, nation states are not real things, money is not a real thing. Those are man made ideological concepts - not eternal truths that describe reality as it really is. So, when we apply technology as directed by ideological motives, it's not technology as science would have it. There's no motive in a scientific understanding of reality to build nuclear weapons, for example. That's a consequence of science as a tool - used by ideologies, in denial of science as a rule.

    You're trying to apply technical fixes to a problem which is not fundamentally technical. The real problem can be described with a single four letter word. More.Jake

    In those terms, what I'm arguing for is: More, and better!

    What the evidence shows is that whatever technical powers we develop we will relentlessly push the envelope in a reckless manner in the endless quest for more, more, and more. And by doing so we continue a process of giving ourselves more power than we can successfully manage.Jake

    Again, science is not just a tool box - it's also an instruction manual. We used the tools but haven't read the instructions. It's a poor workman that blames his tools!

    Your ideas might give us some breathing room, but if successful they just kick the can down the road a little bit and we'll soon find ourselves once again up against the wall. As example, endless free clean energy would result in us burning through other finite resources at an accelerated rate. The problem gets moved from one box to another box, but the real problem doesn't get addressed, or solved.Jake

    I completely disagree with that. By applying technology in the manner I describe, we multiply resources. With fresh water from renewable energy, we can develop wasteland for agriculture and habitation, thereby protecting forests, river and lakes from over-exploitation. Further, mining the sea bed for metals has recently become technologically feasible - such that we have 7/10ths of the earths surface as yet untouched. There's no immediate problem, though eventually, we will be looking to space for resources.

    It appears that, like most of our culture, you've bought in to the science "religion" which has as many or more problems than regular religion.Jake

    Beneath my surface enthusiasm lies the heart of a cynic. I reject the suggestion my critical faculties are not engaged. I always rip a thing to its component pieces, and rebuild it to see how it works, or failing that - cross-check several sources before I commit to an idea. Your assertion depends on your Chinese finger trap view of science and technology - but now I've I've refuted that, maybe you'll reconsider.
  • karl stone
    224
    Where's my response to Jake's post gone?

    Caught by spam filter - restored by mods. Thanks mods!
  • karl stone
    224
    Where's my response to Jake's post gone?

    Caught by spam filter - restored by mods. Thanks mods!
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Caught by spam filter - restored by mods. Thanks mods!karl stone

    If Karl's posts can't make it through the spam filter, then there is something wrong with the filter.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    but in my view, a war for survival is not the way to go.karl stone

    Hmmm, Odd. If survival is the goal, and there is a real threat to survival, then why wouldn't an all-out effect be the way to go?

    If we lose our freedom we will never get it backkarl stone

    Throughout American history, "freedom" has always been somewhat illusory. That's probably true everywhere, and it is certainly true here. Deviation from the norm, or clearly expressed dissatisfaction with the norm, usually meant sustained hostility. Luckily for many dissenters of various kinds, there was always frontier territory where one could go, at least until the frontier came to an end in the latter 19th century. Strong challenges to the status quo, like unionism, socialism, Mormonism, abolition, women's suffrage, civil rights for blacks, and so on have been intensely resisted by the central authorities.

    Yes, we have had more freedom than openly despotic states. But Americans have been free like most people elsewhere have been free: if you like the way things are, it seems pretty free. Most Germans felt that the nazi years were good times, because they didn't strongly object to the goals of the Nazi state. Our national narrative is that everyone is free and our history is good. As long as you don't challenge that too forcefully, you'll be OK. But organize a strong union and go on strike against your company employer, and the state is likely to interfere. (And they have interfered. Current law has created numerous barriers to successful organizing.) The central state has frequently interfered with leftist organizations.

    Why are suburbs uniformly white? Why do black people mostly live in second or third rate housing? It was very specifically and centrally planned that way. (See the histories of the Federal Home Loan Administration, like The Color of Law by Rothstein.

    What you seem to be describing here is a centrally planned economy, and that has failed again and again to deliver for people and the planet.karl stone

    Not so fast. The American economy, bless it's little coal shoveling petroleum pumping heart, isn't accidental. America was founded on basic principles of exploitation -- begun with the Plymouth Colony and pursued with a vengeance ever since. It didn't just happen by chance. Governmental, financial, regulatory, treaties, religious, military... institutions have propagated the kind of economy we have now and have resisted any deviation from the "free enterprise model". The law, courts, legislatures, religious bodies, education, westward expansion (aka genocide of the native people), suppression of labor rights (or forced labor in slavery), manifest destiny, and so on have all been focused on created the kind of economy we have.

    Take railroads, for instance. In most of the 19th century railroads were the prime industrial drivers of the economy. How did it happen that long lines were built across the country, mostly before there was any particular need for the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, etc.? They were built because the central government and financial speculators in New York wanted them built. It didn't just happen by accident.

    If the US is going to make it's critical reduction in CO2 and other green house gas emissions, it will be because the central government and centralized corporate powers decided to do it.
  • ssu
    774
    If the US is going to make it's critical reduction in CO2 and other green house gas emissions, it will be because the central government and centralized corporate powers decided to do it.Bitter Crank
    Perhaps start with repealing Citizens United vs FEC?

    The truth is that facts can be replaced with alternative facts and if the story is believable enough and fits into people's World view, falsehoods prevail. And people tend to listen to the argument they want to hear. Politics can be an obstacle. Discourse about energy policy can get ludicrous very quickly.

    Of course the only true way for fossil fuels not to be used is that alternative energy resources come to be truly far cheaper. Rich countries, if they want, can artificially make this happen by subsidies and taxes, but to get true change to happen happen, this should happen in the free market.

    The way that solar power is getting more efficient and less costly is a positive trend.
  • unenlightened
    2.9k
    Here's a new report on food and warming, that suggests we need to at least cut back on the meat.

    If you don't have time for the academic report, here's the news version.
  • Limitless Science
    17
    The human race should care more about its health. If it does that, every other problem will solve itself. Health is still not the first priority in the human's civilization unfortunately. :confused:
  • karl stone
    224
    but in my view, a war for survival is not the way to go.
    — karl stone

    Hmmm, Odd. If survival is the goal, and there is a real threat to survival, then why wouldn't an all-out effect be the way to go?

    If we lose our freedom we will never get it back
    — karl stone
    Bitter Crank

    That is my only reason. I'm not hiding my light under a bushel or anything. I think freedom is an important economic and political principle, that an all out war for survival would necessarily negate. It's easy to be cynical, but the invisible hand of capitalism is a straight up, real world, miracle - without which, production requires people are told what to do and when to do it, in a system that centrally plans what is produced and how it is distributed. In such systems, people are interchangeable - replacement parts for the economic machine that can be, and are discarded when they're no longer useful. It gives me the creeps.

    Throughout American history, "freedom" has always been somewhat illusory. That's probably true everywhere, and it is certainly true here. Deviation from the norm, or clearly expressed dissatisfaction with the norm, usually meant sustained hostility. Luckily for many dissenters of various kinds, there was always frontier territory where one could go, at least until the frontier came to an end in the latter 19th century. Strong challenges to the status quo, like unionism, socialism, Mormonism, abolition, women's suffrage, civil rights for blacks, and so on have been intensely resisted by the central authorities.Bitter Crank

    In Russia now, there's an intense homophobia unto this day - as an example of social movements that didn't happen under an oppressive system. You say:

    "unionism, socialism, Mormonism, abolition, women's suffrage, civil rights for blacks, and so on have been intensely resisted"

    Sure, but at least they happened. Look at Pussy Riot - jailed for dancing in Church. Russians can't scratch their arse without someone wondering what they're hiding up there.

    If I might be so bold as to skip over the rest as more or less agreed, I want to get to this last line:

    If the US is going to make it's critical reduction in CO2 and other green house gas emissions, it will be because the central government and centralized corporate powers decided to do it.Bitter Crank

    Again, agreed - which is why I believe it's necessary to find a way that allows them to - without demolishing their interests. Otherwise, it won't happen. I suggest they can accept a scientific understanding of reality in common as an authority to direct the application of technology, without undermining their wealth and power. Or, either, making that power absolute.
  • karl stone
    224

    Here's a new report on food and warming, that suggests we need to at least cut back on the meat.
    If you don't have time for the academic report, here's the news version.
    unenlightened

    I wouldn't disagree with the report per se - but merely point out that it's written ceteris paribus, all else being equal, as if food were the only variable in the equation. It assumes continued fossil fuel use - something I aim to overcome within a generation. Instead, you argue - I should go without meat so oil companies can keep pumping the black gold that will kill us anyway. Perhaps a little later, if we all go veggie - but inevitably. Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is necessary to survival - so why not do that first, and then wonder what else we have to cut, rather than cutting living standards to protect the profits of the very corporations that have failed to apply the best technology available?
  • Jake
    898
    I just needed to prove that sustainability was technologically possible - and it is.karl stone

    Yes, if we remove human beings from the equation, then I agree sustainability is likely technologically possible.

    I know. I read your other thread. Interesting thesis. I'm sorry I haven't replied on your thread yet, but I'm hitting this hard - here and elsewhere right now. I get it.karl stone

    No worries on replying, there is no obligation. But sorry, no, you don't get it. Not yet anyway. That's completely normal, especially for science worshipers, no matter how many PhDs they have.

    You appear to have an engineer's mind, and you like to talk about reality a lot, but you seem to be completely ignoring the reality of human beings, the central fact in this mechanism you are trying to build. It's like designing a great car in a purely technical manner, leaving out any consideration of the driver.

    A better approach is to look at the problem holistically, considering all the factors involved. Then, look for the weak link, the single point of failure, and address that. As example, if I upgraded the engine, transmission and drive train on my car so that it could go 500mph that sounds technically impressive. But if I forget to upgrade the tires too, it's all for nothing.

    In the real world of human beings, if your plan was implemented successfully the end result would be that we would continue racing recklessly forward as fast as we can until we hit some other wall. Like all science worshipers you want to give us as much knowledge and power as possible, a well intended plan which ignores the fact that human beings can't successfully manage unlimited power.

    It might help to think of us as a mechanical data processing chip inside of the machine you are building. The power of your machine is limited by the power of that chip. You can't just ignore the limitations of the governing mechanism and build anything you want.

    Again, as a purely technical exercise I don't feel qualified to complain about your plan. Just saying, in the real world it's not a purely technical issue.
  • Jake
    898
    ...the solution I devised is very simple, and entirely consistent with the principles of our economic system. Basically, fossil fuels are commodities, and commodities are assets. Assets can be mortgaged - and in this way, fossil fuels can be monetized without being extracted. The money raised by mortgaging fossil fuels would first go to applying sustainable energy technology.karl stone

    I think I need more discussion of this, which seems central to your plan.

    I read your answer to SSU, but don't get it. Or maybe you don't get it either? Not sure. Try again if you want.
  • Jake
    898
    I would suggest that solar panels floating on the surface of the ocean, could produce electricity - used to power desalination and electrolysis, producing fresh water and hydrogen fuel at sea, collected by ship, or pumped through pipelines to shore. The geographical area available at sea is incredibly vast, and effectively shading the ocean, with thousands of square kilometers of solar panels would also help combat global warming.karl stone

    Where I live, we just narrowly missed getting hit by a Category 4 hurricane which just ripped through the Gulf of Mexico. Storms on the ocean are, you know, kinda common. Where exactly do we put the panels that won't experience storms?
  • karl stone
    224
    No worries on replying, there is no obligation. But sorry, no, you don't get it. Not yet anyway. That's completely normal, especially for science worshipers, no matter how many PhDs they have.Jake

    I really do understand your argument. You believe any technology we invent to solve one problem, necessarily causes other problems, and perhaps, bigger problems. Is that not it?

    I do not accept that argument because, I believe, you assume that the application of technology we have is a rational and natural course of events, for a world blind to that problem.

    What I'm saying is that the application of technology is perverse - and that the problem you describe is inherent to this perversion of science and technology.

    This perversion stems from the suppression of science as truth from the 1630's, and the subsequent use of science as a tool for the pursuit of ideological power and profit.

    I get what you're saying, but accepting a scientific understanding of reality as the basis to apply technology, this problem would be subject to redress. Currently, it's not subject to redress because profit and power dictate the application of technology - like clean energy technology. The technology exists - the need to apply it is clear. So why is it not applied?

    I read the rest of your post, and I take that on board - while dancing by the light of the holy bunsen burner!

    I think I need more discussion of this, which seems central to your plan. I read your answer to SSU, but don't get it. Or maybe you don't get it either? Not sure. Try again if you want.Jake

    I don't know what you don't get about mortgaging an asset. It allows us to monetize fossil fuels without extracting them. SSU asked - 'How would they have value if they are not used?'

    It's something known as the 'Stranded Asset problem' - and I can't give a definitive answer, but argue that, in acceptance of a scientific understanding of reality as a basis to apply the technology necessary to secure the future, the surety is inherent in the long term viability of civilization. Essentially, sovereign debt owned by the world. There are a great many variables - not least, who gets the money, I don't want to weigh in on. Big can o' worms. The concept has initiated a new programme at the Smith School of Oxford University which considers stranded assets across a range of sectors from an academic perspective. This link has an interesting precis of the issue:

    https://www.carbontracker.org/terms/stranded-assets/

    Where I live, we just narrowly missed getting hit by a Category 4 hurricane which just ripped through the Gulf of Mexico. Storms on the ocean are, you know, kinda common. Where exactly do we put the panels that won't experience storms?Jake

    One word: submersible!

    I don't know what it means, but I think it answers your question.

    LOL
  • Jake
    898
    I really do understand your argument. You believe any technology we invent to solve one problem, necessarily causes other problems, and perhaps, bigger problems. Is that not it?karl stone

    Not quite it, but thank you for reading enough to get that far. To quickly summarize my thesis is that scientific progress if pursued without limits will inevitably produce powers which we can't successfully manage. Evidence, we currently have thousands of hair trigger hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats, hardly a case of successful management.

    I'm not really objecting to your specific technical proposal as I don't feel qualified to do that. I'm instead objecting to assumptions I see behind your proposal, such as the idea that saving the world is a technical problem requiring technical solutions. My argument is that such a simplistic notion is the very idea which brought us to the problems you are trying to solve, with more of that idea.

    I do not accept that argument because, I believe, you assume that the application of technology we have is a rational and natural course of events, for a world blind to that problem.

    What I'm saying is that the application of technology is perverse - and that the problem you describe is inherent to this perversion of science and technology. But science and technology is not correctly applied.

    This perversion stems from the suppression of science as truth from the 1630's, and the subsequent use of science as a tool for the pursuit of ideological power and profit.
    karl stone

    Ok, I don't quite get this yet, so perhaps you can expand on it in future posts? I hear something like "we're using science incorrectly" because various religious and commercial powers have subverted it. But I'm not sure that's what you mean.

    The technology exists - the need to apply it is clear. So why is it not applied?karl stone

    Well, we've not yet resolved key problems with your proposal, as I understand it so far. How do we derive commercial value from petroleum in the ground which forever remains in the ground? How do we put mass solar panels on an ocean subject to repeated storms. Maybe the technology has not been applied simply because it wouldn't work as you describe it?

    I don't know what you don't get about mortgaging an asset.karl stone

    Why is a material which can never be used an asset?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    One word: submersible!karl stone

    Maybe that would work. If the framework on which the solar panels were mounted were sufficiently strong and rigid, it could probably be submerged without being damaged by wave action on the bottom. Or, one would float the panels on small lakes or lagoons where wind wouldn't generate huge waves. Floating panels should be look at as a specialty application.

    Wind turbines, however, can be located off shore. But they have to be off a shore that gets enough wind. In Minnesota, at least, wind is providing a substantial share of electrical energy. States from MN to TX down the center of the continent generally have good wind. Texas is a leader in wind energy -- surprising, even though there is an exceptionally large amount of hot air in TX.
  • karl stone
    224
    Not quite it, but thank you for reading enough to get that far. To quickly summarize my thesis is that scientific progress if pursued without limits will inevitably produce powers which we can't successfully manage. Evidence, we currently have thousands of hair trigger hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats, hardly a case of successful management.Jake

    Consider the motives for creating nuclear weapons. They are not motives drawn from a scientific understanding of reality, but occur as a consequence of competing pre-scientific ideologies. The nation state as a sovereign political entity dates back to the Treaty of Westphalia (1650).

    The nation state is not a scientific fact - it's just made up, yet it is from behind national borders - in competition with other nations, decision are made about how technology is applied - both military technology, and domestic energy policy. The sum of all national energy policies does not amount to a global energy policy. The global reality is externalized by the local ideology.

    Similarly, if we had accepted a scientific understanding of reality, instead of maintaining an ideological misunderstanding of the world, there would be no motive to produce nuclear weapons.

    (I should add here, this is to illustrate the mistake we made - suppressing science as truth from 1630 onward. Not to propose who we are now, might all join hands and dance around the maypole to the strains of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair. I'm not that naive.)

    What I'm saying is, what you think is "hardly a case of successful management" - is actually caused by something else; failure to recognize that science is true knowledge of reality - that could easily have been accepted by the Church in 1630, as the word of God the Creator. Instead it was suppressed as heresy - while at the same time, used to drive the Industrial Revolution. We raced ahead technologically while remaining ideologically primitive. That's the mismanagement you identify, but attribute - incorrectly, to the nature of science and technology itself.

    The technology exists - the need to apply it is clear. So why is it not applied?
    — karl stone

    Well, we've not yet resolved key problems with your proposal, as I understand it so far. How do we derive commercial value from petroleum in the ground which forever remains in the ground? How do we put mass solar panels on an ocean subject to repeated storms. Maybe the technology has not been applied simply because it wouldn't work as you describe it?
    Jake

    Hey, it's not me - I've only been here a few decades. It was like that when I found it!

    I answered these questions insofar as I'm able - in my previous post. I can really only point you to experts working on this issue - as I did above. I'm not an economist; I did undergraduate modules in micro and macro economics, and that's my answer to the stranded asset question. They're submersible!
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    One major problem that is not amenable to a technical solution is population. Not if we want to remain civilized, anyway.

    7 billion plus people have the capacity to swamp improvements in food production and fresh water supply by merely continuing to reproduce at moderate levels. What we need to do, in the midterm and long term is reduce the number of people on the planet. That means population attrition, not just in Europe or Japan, but everywhere.
  • karl stone
    224
    Maybe that would work. If the framework on which the solar panels were mounted were sufficiently strong and rigid, it could probably be submerged without being damaged by wave action on the bottom. Or, one would float the panels on small lakes or lagoons where wind wouldn't generate huge waves. Floating panels should be look at as a specialty application.

    Wind turbines, however, can be located off shore. But they have to be off a shore that gets enough wind. In Minnesota, at least, wind is providing a substantial share of electrical energy. States from MN to TX down the center of the continent generally have good wind. Texas is a leader in wind energy -- surprising, even though there is an exceptionally large amount of hot air in TX.
    Bitter Crank

    It's one of a few technical ideas ...floating around! Another idea is strong plastic spheres, the entire surface of which is one big solar panel, with the electrolysis or desalination machinery inside. These are free floating - and set to drift along relatively predictable ocean currents, soaking up light and creating hydrogen fuel or fresh water stored within. They're also a delivery system - just throw them in the ocean and they arrive some months later, juiced up with fuel or water.

    Aesthetically, I like the spheres...they're so, "I am not a prisoner - I am a free man!"
    (No? Old TV show! Classic!)

    Onshore wind has the bird problem, and noise. I think they're beautiful, but some people think they're an eyesore. Add to that real estate costs - and clearly, there's some advantages to making energy at sea.

    One major problem that is not amenable to a technical solution is population. Not if we want to remain civilized, anyway.

    7 billion plus people have the capacity to swamp improvements in food production and fresh water supply by merely continuing to reproduce at moderate levels. What we need to do, in the midterm and long term is reduce the number of people on the planet. That means population attrition, not just in Europe or Japan, but everywhere.
    Bitter Crank

    I reject the premise. The idea that there's too many people is a pernicious implication from the misapplication of technology for ideological ends. The way technology is applied now there's too many people, but it needn't be the case. We can support massive population going forward - and protect environmental resources from over-exploitation at the same time if we apply technology as directed by scientific rationality.

    I don't know if you were aware, but long established research shows that improving living conditions tends to reduce family size. It happened in Europe and Japan - as you indicate. Counter intuitively, poor people tend to have more children - presumably, due in part to a lack of contraception, but also - a rational decision where there's high infant mortality, and parents need looking after in their old age.

    The UNDP, assuming continued improvements in living standards - and importantly, women's rights with regard to reproductive health, predicts a leveling off of population growth by 2100, at around 11 billion. I think that's entirely manageable from a scientific and technological perspective.
  • karl stone
    224
    Not quite it, but thank you for reading enough to get that far.Jake

    Jake, I read the whole thing, and a number of comments on the thread.

    Also, I didn't miss this:

    Where I live, we just narrowly missed getting hit by a Category 4 hurricane which just ripped through the Gulf of Mexico.Jake

    Saw the footage on TV, and wondered if you're okay.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I don't know if you were aware, but long established research shows that improving living conditions tends to reduce family size.karl stone

    Yes, I am aware of that.

    The problem of population, 7-11 billion, is that it is up against an agricultural environment that will be deteriorating, even if we make some progress toward limited CO2/methane/other. Those are:

    All the arable land we have is now being used for agriculture. There are no significant idle reserves. (What about northern lands becoming agricultural? The soils that are now very cold or frozen are not, and will not be suitable for agriculture. What about irrigation? All of the fresh water that is suitable for irrigation has been tapped. Drinking water has also passed its peak. The Asian glaciers are shrinking rapidly. In 50 years, the temperature in many agricultural areas will be too hot to work in for much or all of the day. (When the temperature and humidity combined make it impossible to cool off, people start dying from heat.) Fisheries productivity is in decline.

    Agriculture, under the best of circumstances, is risky: too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too many insects, not enough bees, plant diseases, soil exhaustion, etc. There is usually enough world production to keep people fed, but an increasingly warm, erratic climate doesn't favor agriculture. Projecting enough production to feed 11 billion ignores erratic and fast climate change.

    Not despairing yet? Declining hydrocarbon output: Much of high agricultural productivity depends on cheap, abundant oil and gas for chemicals, fertilizers, and fuel. We are past peak oil. We can not feed 7 billion people, maybe not 5 billion using animal traction, organic farming, and the like. We could do that at maybe 2-3 billion under good conditions. Those days are over.

    Getting the population down to 2-3 billion or less will come about if the species crashes. That could happen if global warming becomes too severe in the 22nd century (only 82 years away).

    I am pessimistic about all techno-fixes. I like techno-fixes. However, it does not appear that the we have the will or the political means to slam the brakes on CO2/methane/other. If we (the whole world) did have the will, the ways, and the means to abruptly cease CO2/methane/other output, we could, perhaps, solve the problem. But we don't. NO country is meeting even the modest targets set recent agreements.

    Why not? Why are they not?

    One reason is that major technological changes (like from horse power to machine power, like telephone, radio, television, railroads, highways, airplanes, medicine, engineering, etc. etc. etc.) require around 40 to 50 years to propagate throughout society. It isn't just behavior change; it's all sorts of changes. We have not committed to abandoning fossil fuels, so the 40-50 year change over hasn't begun.

    Yes, there are solar panels and windmills here and there. But transportation in the developed world is still predicated on cars and trucks. Heating and cooling still are largely dependent on electricity from fossil fuels. A rising standard of living around the world requires more production of everything, and a lot of waste.

    It isn't that I think we can not do anything; theoretically we can. But we run up against time (we waited too long) and material limitations on what is possible in a short period of time, because people generally don't worry about threats unless they are unmistakably visible -- like seeing the tornado about 3 blocks away. That's just the way we are wired.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Where I live, we just narrowly missed getting hit by a Category 4 hurricane which just ripped through the Gulf of Mexico.Jake

    So, how bad was it where you live? What was it like?

    I've never seen a hurricane. Gales, once; tornadoes, one or twice; blizzards, numerous. Long hot droughts, once or twice. Bad floods, a few times. No hurricanes. No earthquakes either.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    ...might all join hands and dance around the maypole to the strains of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair. I'm not that naive.)karl stone

    Apparently you're not that young, either -- Mr. Scarborough fair. And you're being very anachronistic: the heyday of maypoles didn't come close to Simon and Garfunkel. They (S & G) were certainly favorites of mine, back in those dear dead days of long ago. (Well, still are, mostly.)

    I have my books
    And my poetry to protect me,
    I am shielded in my armor,
    Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
    I touch no one and no one touches me.
    I am a rock,
    I am an island.
    And a rock feels no pain,
    And an island never cries.
  • karl stone
    224
    The problem of population, 7-11 billion, is that it is up against an agricultural environment that will be deteriorating, even if we make some progress toward limited CO2/methane/other. Those are:

    All the arable land we have is now being used for agriculture. There are no significant idle reserves. (What about northern lands becoming agricultural? The soils that are now very cold or frozen are not, and will not be suitable for agriculture. What about irrigation? All of the fresh water that is suitable for irrigation has been tapped. Drinking water has also passed its peak. The Asian glaciers are shrinking rapidly. In 50 years, the temperature in many agricultural areas will be too hot to work in for much or all of the day. (When the temperature and humidity combined make it impossible to cool off, people start dying from heat.) Fisheries productivity is in decline.

    Agriculture, under the best of circumstances, is risky: too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too many insects, not enough bees, plant diseases, soil exhaustion, etc. There is usually enough world production to keep people fed, but an increasingly warm, erratic climate doesn't favor agriculture. Projecting enough production to feed 11 billion ignores erratic and fast climate change.

    Not despairing yet?
    Bitter Crank

    A little daunted perhaps - but despairing? No! I believe these challenges are amenable to redress or mitigation. We'd maximize our ability for redress and mitigation by accepting a scientific understanding of reality in common, as a basis to apply technology. But even if we don't - there's a possibility that somehow, science is so powerfully true that it's adequate despite our failure to put the science out front, ahead of the ideology.

    Declining hydrocarbon output: Much of high agricultural productivity depends on cheap, abundant oil and gas for chemicals, fertilizers, and fuel. We are past peak oil. We can not feed 7 billion people, maybe not 5 billion using animal traction, organic farming, and the like. We could do that at maybe 2-3 billion under good conditions. Those days are over.
    Getting the population down to 2-3 billion or less will come about if the species crashes. That could happen if global warming becomes too severe in the 22nd century (only 82 years away).
    Bitter Crank

    Well, as long as you make it! Eh?

    I am pessimistic about all techno-fixes. I like techno-fixes. However, it does not appear that the we have the will or the political means to slam the brakes on CO2/methane/other. If we (the whole world) did have the will, the ways, and the means to abruptly cease CO2/methane/other output, we could, perhaps, solve the problem. But we don't. NO country is meeting even the modest targets set recent agreements.Bitter Crank

    That's why, I argue we need to change our ideological approach - putting the science out front as a guide, with our ideological selves following along behind. I appreciate that requires some degree of sophistication from people who have genuine beliefs that are inimical to science. I appreciate also, that it requires a willingness on the part of the rich and powerful to see their interests served by this approach. I think those are the real obstacles we face, but the technology available is adequate to meet the challenge.

    Why not? Why are they not?

    One reason is that major technological changes (like from horse power to machine power, like telephone, radio, television, railroads, highways, airplanes, medicine, engineering, etc. etc. etc.) require around 40 to 50 years to propagate throughout society. It isn't just behavior change; it's all sorts of changes. We have not committed to abandoning fossil fuels, so the 40-50 year change over hasn't begun.
    Bitter Crank

    Not necessarily.

    New York 1900 - spot the car!
    New York 1913 - spot the horse!
    https://www.businessinsider.com/5th-ave-1900-vs-1913-2011-3?IR=T

    Yes, there are solar panels and windmills here and there. But transportation in the developed world is still predicated on cars and trucks. Heating and cooling still are largely dependent on electricity from fossil fuels. A rising standard of living around the world requires more production of everything, and a lot of waste.

    It isn't that I think we can not do anything; theoretically we can. But we run up against time (we waited too long) and material limitations on what is possible in a short period of time, because people generally don't worry about threats unless they are unmistakably visible -- like seeing the tornado about 3 blocks away. That's just the way we are wired.
    Bitter Crank

    I'd agree with that. People are inherently conservative. methodical - if not hidebound. But we can jump on things and make dramatic changes very quickly when all the stars align. Are they not lining up for you at all?
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