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Comment Re:Great news! (Score 1) 128

It is a matter of concentration and processing cost, not the fact that it sits in the same gravity well with us.

Generally I think minitiaturization is great since we can do more with less say rare earth metals or even such metals as copper or gold. The downside is that we are able achive a much finer distribution with it.

Comment Only 1C (Score 1) 442

From what I've heard scientist in the 80s came up with 1 C before serious changes would kick in. Then some economists decided that the damages could be managed until we reach 2C. So the 2C is an economic goal. Interestingly at ~0.9C we already see permafrost melting and decaying which could leed to some feedback effect that could ultimatley dwarf our contribution. So that article may be overly inconservative with its 1.5C goal.

Comment Re:Steam to extract oil that shouldn't be... (Score 1) 82

Well I didn't want to write that much, obviously I can't just throw out some ill connected thoughts though.

Ultimately I agree with you that the project in question will mainly aid extraction. It will be used to protect the investment in existing infrastructure way before we could hope for transitioning towards a world where oil is only used for production of plastics and transportation is achieved through technologies with a lower impact.

While I see your point of not burning fossil fuels you should offer some credible way out of the problem, our existence is based on that probably just as much as on a stable climate. Also note that if you stop the flow of oil today you will feel the effects within half a year maybe at most in society, whereas the climate gives you a 40 year lag. There is no way you get this past people. I could write more but I'm incredibly tired of it.

Comment Re:not sure that we want it controlled (Score 1) 119

I suspect this is a psychological problem, people probably can accept death through an act of god easier than through human action. The number of people suffering is probably not important to anyone else than politicians. Assuming that you can know around 150 people the number of dead in either case exceeds what you can grasp.

The difference between the two cases is that diseases affect poor nations that don't compete for resources as much. I would guess that Ebola spreading won't prevent resource wars because it doesn't affect the interested parties.

Comment Re:Steam to extract oil that shouldn't be... (Score 1, Insightful) 82

"With present technology, the extraction and refining of heavy oils and oil sands generates as much as three times the total CO2 emissions compared to conventional oil."

This isn't present technology, this is future technology. In other words you are using old data to tarnish the image of an improved technology, let me call you a green liar maybe even a green troll.

Also it is a practical way of converting sunlight into chemical energy and a simple storage solution for solar energy. If we can get rid of the 70% use of fossil fuels in transportation and only use it for producing plastic the only problems we have to worry about is the pacific garbage patch and associated problems. Once we can keep population growth in check we can solve mankind's problems - very nice. These stop gap measures are exactly what we need to align peak population (2080?) with peak industrial society (2020?).

Just for shits and grins, how do you plan to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere to get back to 280ppm? Also how many billion dead people are you willing to accept?

Comment Re:+-2000 deaths? (Score 1) 119

I have doubts, but if you look at which country has the higher probability of dying it is poor countries in Africa whereas the first world can fend it off easily. This leads me to think that as we get under pressure from net energy decline we will be far more susceptible to diseases like Ebola. Of course pandemics can have knock on effects, i.e. the global flow of things will get reduced due to countries barricading themselves in, but initially it were the conditions of people living in West Africa who were unable to defend themselves because they didn't have the means to do so.

If you assume the club of Rome was correct in discovering that exponential population growth cannot be supported by improving technology, our inability to fend off the killers of the past should serve as an indicator of how far we have gone towards the bottleneck. The spread of diseases is especially useful as an indicator since they spread faster with higher population density and higher transportation volume. Whenever we must let our guard down because we cannot afford it you should see something like Ebola getting out of hand.

So far this is happening at the fringes, if we have reached a number of 500000 cumulatively infected by March next year I'm willing to believe you though. But I'm certain that we have enough time to study our decline in great detail, even though it should get sketchy toward the end.

Comment Re:It's geopolitics, not just simple spy flap (Score 1) 219

Given that we may be nearing some energy crisis you could think about what it might cause. Looking for it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...
you can find talk about decentralization which means a break up of a system into smaller units. I think this is what might be happening, Europe is basically used up having an aging populace and diminishing resources, whereas Asia has lots of young people and some ambition to get their hands on resources. Since there have been signs in the past that energy demand has been outstripping energy availability, I would guess that for the US to keep its position in the world it has to find new resources and keep competition and resource use low. With the current system the finding of new stuff has long been passed, so its hampering other peoples development and reducing energy expenditure now.

Europe is a competitor but not as much as Asia, I would expect Europe to become some kind of backwater and less useful to the US in the future, which would mean the fracturing of NATO. This spy scandal and Ukraine appears to be the start of this process.

Comment Re:The Asimov opinion (Score 1) 124

From the little I know about the story I would say the robot had a remarkable sense of ethics. After all he decided for the patient to be more independent after the operation not less so. To make the point differently, If you had two options, either mechanical prosthesis or organ replacement made in the lab, the mechanical part would make you more dependent on society providing for replacement parts whereas biological replacements are repaired by yourself. The latter would give you far more freedom to be yourself so to speak. Conversely I would suspect that robotic societies have the room for far higher degrees of integration than is possible with biological beings right now. (I would not say though that biological beings are not integrated into a society at all just in case anybody gets this crazy idea.)

Comment Asimov wasn't so deluded (Score 1) 339


Let me add as a teaser:

And out there beyond are the stars.

And the interesting thing is that if we can get through the next thirty years, there's no reason why we can't enter into a kind of plateau which will see the human race last, perhaps, indefinitely...till it evolves into better things...and spread out into space indefinitely. We have the choice here between nothing...and the virtually infinite. And the nice thing about it is that you guys in the audience today, when I say guys I mean it in a general term embracing gals...when you guys in the audience today will still be barely middle-aged when you will know which choice has been made.

See, I've been so shrewd that I fixed it so that I was born in 1920.

[group laughs]

Which means I'll be safely dead."

Comment Re:Translation... (Score 1) 784

Both statements may turn out to be wrong. The first, because we already see global warming/extreme weather events affecting harvests and people with less money to spend, tend to riot when hungry, which I would call a sign of the beginning chaos (so far people blame oil prices, but this is changing).

The second because lets admit it we will follow the BAU and worst case scenarios regarding CO2 output since nobody will screw up the economy on purpose. Since we will have exponential CO2 growth at ~2% according to the following article:

You can conclude that we have our contribution doubling every ~35years, which means that as the 35year younger you can not complain since your own generations contributions are just as large as the older.

So while the world may only officially end in 2100 (some say 2050, due to feed backs and societies inability to deal with cognitive biases and understanding complex non-linear systems) there is a fat chance that an uncomfortably large number of people will get some raw deal much earlier.

Comment Re:Because ... (Score 1) 150

Sure, you can come up with a better model for industrial society. The main point I tried to make is that people have connected machines with slavery for quite some time now mostly to illustrate the role machines fulfill in society and to provide some proportion. My main interest is related to energy flows in industrial civilization so I nudged the discussion into this direction, any more thorough discussion would probably not deal with slaves all that much.

You could also argue that slavery deserves more mention as a topic on its own, other people have made remarks toward that end already.

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