[ExI] Extensive vs. intensive causes of energy demand

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat May 11 10:43:16 UTC 2013

On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 02:37:03PM -0400, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:

> 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

This is precisely the reason why old forecasts are so far off.

> 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.

You seem to think that agriculture and industry needs no energy
> But, from a strictly technical standpoint, the whole energy discussion
> is just silly - we are swimming in abundant and diverse sources of

Abundant yes, but not exactly diverse: the Sun is the only
one to fit the ticket (4 MT/s energy flux).

> energy that can be economically used assuring cheap and plentiful

Yes, it can be economically used. To the tune of TUSD/year, for
the next 40 years to assure 1 TW/year conversion rate.

In absence of that, you'll get starvation and war.

> supplies to take care of any plausible increases in human population,
> at least for hundreds of years (excluding singularity upload
> scenarios).

Let's revisit the discussion in 2030. Then we'll see how the 
hundreds of years will be faring.  

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