[ExI] Extensive vs. intensive causes of energy demand

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Fri May 10 18:37:03 UTC 2013

On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM, spike <spike at rainier66.com> wrote:

> I will buy into part of Eugen’s reasoning, the part that would wipe the
> Alfred E Newman grin off of even my own optimistic face: if we wait too long
> to start, then there isn’t enough energy to build the energy conversion
> facilities.  The results will be horrifying.

### The only plausible situation where energy supply becomes a problem
would be a breakdown of the normal feedback effects between energy
demand and energy supply. In a functioning economy an increase in the
difficulty of producing energy increases energy prices stimulating
both more effort at energy production and reducing demand. If the
economy is disrupted, for example by a war, a sudden physical disaster
(e.g. supervolcano eruption or something similarly dramatic), or by a
madness of crowds (communism, environmentalism, religious fervor), the
responses to challenges may be delayed or perverse. Otherwise, as long
as the markets are there to direct resources and inventiveness to
satisfy our needs, the slow increases in energy demand due to growing
populations are easily met by increased energy production.

One issue that frequently gets glossed over by doom-freaks is that a
large part of the recent increase in energy demand is not due to
extensive factors such as population growth but due to intensive
factors, that is an increase in wealth among the heretofore poor
nations, such as China, and many others. From a humanitarian
standpoint this is a very important distinction: The former could mean
decreased energy per capita, while the latter could not. Decreased
energy per capita is, after a point, indeed horrifying. Increased
wealth among the poor is a reason to rejoice.

But, from a strictly technical standpoint, the whole energy discussion
is just silly - we are swimming in abundant and diverse sources of
energy that can be economically used assuring cheap and plentiful
supplies to take care of any plausible increases in human population,
at least for hundreds of years (excluding singularity upload

So, we have no need to worry or rather, we might worry about human
stupidity, not technical issues.


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