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View Diary: The End of Economic Growth (188 comments)

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  •  Show me the ergs (3+ / 0-)
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    Sparhawk, JHestand, SuWho

    The main reason mankind has not shifted of fossil fuels is because there is not alternative that can deliver the massive amount of E=MC-squared we've grown used to.

    Calls to move off of fossil fuels must be sensitive to teh fact that fossil fuel currently keeps soome3-5 billion humans alive.  Just sayin'.

    •  Right (7+ / 0-)

      There is no apparent way that we can run what we're currently running without fossil fuels.

      We certainly should be cutting fossil fuels out of the picture wherever possible and (especially) be trying very hard to develop local power sources that can survive without external inputs (wind, for example), but it doesn't look good at all.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:22:24 PM PDT

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      •  Woulda coulda shoulda (4+ / 0-)
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        Cliss, NoMoreLies, DaleA, FarWestGirl

        Yep. There's stuff to do to limit the impact but you can't turn a global society around on a dime.  I don't see people learning until long after it is too late for the soft landing.

        Me?  I live in a fresh water paradise, but it's too populated. (Between Chicago and Milwaukee.)  So I plan to relocate north, where there are still people but not too many for local farming to support.  And where the global climate change will make the area more habitable.  That's why I am currently learning French.

    •  Almost (3+ / 0-)
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      Sparhawk, Quicklund, SuWho

      There is nothing that says the earth has to support the massive energy use we have grown used to.

      The laws of physics and the facts of geology really, REALLY don't care what happens to the human species. And they certainly have no interest in the number of us alive at any one time.

      We can choose to find ways to live within our energy budget or the said laws will kill off as many of us as is necessary to balance that budget.

      Your final statement is correct, but it is one step short of the reality check. When those fossil fuels can no olonger support 5 billion people, then the surplus numbers will die.

      Given a falling energy capability, that number could easily, and very quickly, reach 3 billion. It only takes a few days after the water pumps stop working for a lot of people to die.

      In places where the water pumps never work, they have ways to survive, but in most of our cities, we have zero experience in dealing with that. So we will die in large numbers. Very large.

      Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

      by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:25:37 AM PDT

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    •  Gasoline powered cars are horridly inefficient (3+ / 0-)
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      FarWestGirl, northsylvania, Quicklund

      as is the suburban and exurban sprawl that goes with them.  Driving a Prius has made me aware of how much gas I have wasted over the years, and a Prius is hardly the end all in efficiency.

      Nuclear power could provide massive amounts of energy safely if the nuclear business were run by meticulous, safety oriented people. However, TEPCO has shown that, even in the meticulous Japanese culture, profit oriented management takes deadly liberties with risk. Nuclear power's problems are so disheartening because they have been caused by stupidity and recklessness.

      There is much that can be done by combining efficiency, renewable power and redesign of our living and transportation arrangements.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

      by FishOutofWater on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:50:16 AM PDT

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      •  Uranium is a limited resource (1+ / 0-)
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        Fission buys mankind a few decades perhaps.  Then we are past peak uranium and back in the same boat.  Stable, contained fusion would be a source of long-term and essentially limitless power.  But there are engineering challenges...

        Yes, there are many ways for mankind to reduce energy consumption.  IMO though, humans as a worldwide group are not wise enough to do so until long after the soft-landing scenario has ceased to be viable.

        •  Re (1+ / 0-)
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          Uranium also can't be used as a transportation fuel. All existing hydrogen and/or electric transport schemes are somewhat viable for a few individual vehicles, but they do not scale well at all. The idea that all of these cars, trucks, airplanes, etc are going to keep running off of battery storage of electricity (either via hydrogen or real batteries) is a pipe dream.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:55:59 AM PDT

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          •  Dylithium crystals will save us (1+ / 0-)
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            They will have to. As you say, regular lithium batteries won't do it.  Instead of a oil shortage we'd face copper, lithium, and rare eaarth element shortages.  Not to mention the mining processes aren't always pretty.

            Root cause continues to be over-population. This will sort itself out. Unfortunately.

            •  But the overpopulation issue (0+ / 0-)

              is like the proverbial third rail. Nobody seems to want to address it, although without addressing it nothing can every really change for the better. I'm not sure why it is the issue that cannot be discussed -- religious beliefs, political beliefs, what? If we could just somehow get people to limit their reproduction to one kid per couple things would start to change for the better. Sigh.

              "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Anais Nin

              by SuWho on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:31:35 AM PDT

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              •  Dictatorship is the problem, (0+ / 0-)

                I think, not religion. Italy, arguably one of the most religious countries in the world, has had one of the lowest birthrates for a long time. Wherever there is social democracy and available healthcare, there is family planning, which is used regardless of religion. Wherever there is oppressive government and no healthcare, there is an abundant, desperately poor labor force.

        •  Please look up IFR, MSR (0+ / 0-)

          LMFBR, LFTR.  These nuclear reactor designs can support breeding cycles of U238->Pu (and other transuranic actinides) and Th232 -> U233.  The Integral Fast Reactor is based on the EBR-II that ran for 30 f!king years, so don't tell me this is pie-in-the-sky.  These reactors aren't running now because political decisions have been made to make sure it is so, and remains so.

          Implement close fuel cycle systems and we have enough nuclear power for thousands of years with established, known technology.  

          With regards to safety, I'd like everyone to consider how many people actually died from the Fukushima reactors?
            NONE is the answer.  

          To get any death toll numbers at all requires leaning on the so-called LNT hypothesis that posits that lethality is proportional to the dose, even as the dose approaches zero.  It is ludicrous and has NO scientific evidence, yet this is the yardstick used by governments.  If the same principles were applied to fossil fuel emissions (including NOx, SOx, mercury, arsenic, etc.,etc.) every coal and gas plant in the world would have to be shut down as they dump all their waste into the atmosphere all the time, on purpose.  

          There is plenty of evidence that a threshold exists below which there is no effect of radiation.  Just ask the people who happily live in parts of the world where natural background far exceeds the levels defining the Fukushima exclusion zone without any evidence of increased cancer rates.  The worst a 40-year old plant can dish out under catastrophic circumstances still falls well below what is actually a REAL large-scale danger.

          New reactor designs, such as small modular units with passive safety features (so called walk-away-safe), buried underground, etc. can be profoundly more safe over what are already safe designs.

          Why aren't progressives pushing hard for new, intrinsically / passively safe, sustainable nuclear energy systems?  If we go down the road of energy starvation leading and climate crisis, both leading to economic collapse, everything progressives champion (economic justice, social justice, peace, etc.) will go down the crapper without any options.  Energy is the master resource and the clock is ticking on fossil fuels.

          IMHO, being pro-new-nuclear is a profoundly progressive position based on scientific evidence and rational analysis.  We need to change our personal and collective living arrangements (e.g. electrify transport, more rail), conserve AND deploy the only dependable, scalable energy source that can also be sustainable - and that is new nuclear with closed fuel cycles.

          The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

          by mojo workin on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:26:40 PM PDT

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