[ExI] Some thoughts on the ecopocalypse - the argument for domestic ground based solar.

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 07:52:06 UTC 2009

I'm making the following, I think reasonable, assumptions:

1 - Global warming is real
2 - Global warming is anthropogenic

I'm pretty sure we can't use less energy. Great extropian approach to
the analysis here:


And you know, why should we? Screw that. We're sitting in the
neighborhood of a crazy big fusion reactor, there is energy. We just
suck at harnessing it so far.

Also, no technologies that we currently have available can save the
day, they just don't scale well enough. The guy in the article above
says we need to build a nuclear reactor per day for the next 20 years,
and Saul Griffith's figures are similar.

So the answer is, we need technologies that don't yet exist, on a
massive scale, in a pretty short timeframe for such sized projects (a
few decades).

That's daunting, but then I thought about the human genome project.
That managed to do the impossible in an impossible timeframe, by going
exponential. That seemed to rely on
1 - Heated competition
2 - tying to IT and thus moore's law, to an extent
3 - short loop time, from idea to prototype to product to deployment
to next idea.

I think all the big engineering approaches can't get us there, because
they can't improve rapidly enough. They can't do point 3. Nuke plants
take years, maybe decades? Solar power in space, what's the iteration
time there? others?

My bet is on the small distributed approaches, mostly I'm thinking
solar. If you can it to a point where everyone desires their own solar
power panels, at the domestic and small business level, you have the
giant weight of consumer capital pressing on the area, which means 1
is taken care of. 3 is already good in this scenario, because this is
consumer product stuff.

How about 2? Are development of solar technologies in any way tied, or
can they be tied, to IT?

Or, are there other technologies that might fit here?

Remember, if you can get a virtuous cycle going here, and progress
goes exponential, then the early and medium term products can be
insufficient to solve the problem (X terrawatts in Y decades). All the
good work will come in the last couple of years of the process.

On a side note, I think if this is going to be driven from anywhere,
it's probably going to be from China. They seem more motivated, and
frankly more skilled and geared up, to make it happen.


http://emlyntech.wordpress.com - coding related
http://point7.wordpress.com - ranting
http://emlynoregan.com - main site

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