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View Diary: "increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilization". Hell, yes! (247 comments)

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  •  There's also the pesky problem people like eating (1+ / 0-)
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    Calamity Jean

    For a site in which supply-side economics are routinely derided it is odd to see the notion advanced that people buy fossil fuels for little more reason than fossil fuel companies like selling it.

    People buy oil and coal because oil and coal are used to produce food, shelter, heating in winter, cooling in summer, creature comforts and beer. They buy oil and coal because these items are what we have on hand which provide energy in the massive amounts needed to keep 7 billion humans alive. People do not buy oil and coal because BP has identified X amount of petroleum reserves.

    Does the fossil fuel industry get in the way by spreading disinformation? Of course. But the day the better mousetrap is invented fossil fuels will be abandoned for the new game in town. Ask saddle-makers if you don't believe me.

    The problem with getting off fossil fuels is that there is as yet no other source that can deliver the same amount of reliable energy at the same "low" cost. But the day controlled fusion ever becomes viable is the day Dutch Shell stock drops by 99% - no matter how much they have identified in reserves.

    •  Not a coincidence: (1+ / 0-)
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      The problem with getting off fossil fuels is that there is as yet no other source that can deliver the same amount of reliable energy at the same "low" cost.
    •  Watch "Who Killed the Electric Car" (4+ / 0-)

      and then tell me about how if there were a better mousetrap it would be obvious to all and everyone would charge towards the new product.

      In actuality, the Electric Car was not killed, but merely delayed; but that's bad enough right now, given how little time there is to make such large changes.

      We could do far far better than we are doing and perhaps buy us enough time to figure this shit out. But instead we're doubling (and tripling) down on the very actions that are sending us over the cliff.

      Once civilization has been torn apart in water riots and food riots and a massive (80%) die-off has happened, there won't be the resources to find or invent the better mousetrap.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:16:16 PM PST

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    •  The "low cost" (7+ / 0-)

      is because we are misdefining "costs" by having so many real costs as 'externalities'.

      We can make fertilizer (ammonia) with electricity and water. Renewable systems are coming on line in the zone of competitive w/the prices which natural gas based fertilizer is sold.  We could, in 10 years -- if we chose, convert to renewable energy based ammonia fertilizer. That is only about 2% of total human emissions.  (That, of course, puts aside question of whether better agricultural practices would make this unnecessary.)

      And ...

      Market is mal-defined to give fossil fuels advantages in markets (like electricity) where they don't have a real advantage -- if we defied costs and benefits accurately.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:50:49 PM PST

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      •  What about renewable natural gas (1+ / 0-)
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        A Siegel

        from burning garbage and other waste? A friend wrote to me recently:

        One issue that doesn't get near enough media coverage--even among environmental organizations--is renewable natural gas.  Long story short, we can make fuel that can power electrical generation (or any other power need) from green waste and even from discarded plastic, tires, etc.   And this can be done very cleanly and in some cases actually sequester carbon.

        Biofuels that can be made from waste products (as opposed to crops grown to make biofuels) are as green as it can get because they make it possible to use less and less natural gas and coal.  If we can keep reusing (with the help of photosynthesis) the same old carbon over and over again, and even sequester some of the 400 ppm in the form of biochar, we don't have to take carbon out of geological formations (coal, oil, gas, natural gas, etc.), and we can gradually diminish that 400 ppm.

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:29:01 PM PST

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        •  Elsewhere ... (1+ / 0-)
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          in all these comments I believe I commented about energy from waste. There are a range of waste-to-energy projects/paths out there, fuel from waste is one of those. Note that your friend's comment seems to be referring to liquid fuel from waste, rather than "renewable natural gas" -- note that both are possible and can (will) help in terms of energy into the system.

          Writ large, agree with your friend's comment -- although I feel like I do see many discussions of this, perhaps because it is a field which I 'follow'.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 03:00:19 AM PST

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      •  We don't have to MAKE fertilizer (0+ / 0-)

        ammonia is like a shot of meth.  It gives you a quick result but damages the soil.  Life needs a lot more than nitrogen.  

        An integrated system includes livestock - which rebuilds soil faster than any other alternative - and perennial woody crops to capture carbon.  For instance, hazelnuts for protein and oil, chestnuts for carbohydrates.  Even biochar isn't necessary; just bury unneeded wood prunings and cuttings and it not only puts carbon back in the soil, it holds moisture during droughts.

        Those systems can be just as productive short-term as "modern agriculture," better quality short- and long-term, and much MORE productive long-term.      

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