[ExI] Extensive vs. intensive causes of energy demand

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue May 14 16:45:05 UTC 2013

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 12:14 AM, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, May 11, 2013 at 11:28 AM, Rafal Smigrodzki
> <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ### Look at it this way:
>> If you have population growth, this comes with increased demand for
>> absolute necessities (food, shelter, sanitation) which means that
>> fluctuations in energy supply may cut into these necessities,
>> producing starvation, unrest, war, possibly a vicious cycle of damage
>> to energy production, triggering further starvation, etc.
>> But a stable or slowly growing population that increases its energy
>> demand due to industrialization and increasing affluence does not put
>> itself at increased risk of starvation due to fluctuating energy
>> supply. If there is a problem with slower than expected energy supply
>> growth, well, some luxuries get trimmed off the list, to much gnashing
>> of teeth, but nobody starves among this population. This is Maslow's
>> hierarchy of needs in action, not a belief in energy-independent
>> agriculture and industry.
> Rafal, I usually argue with you, but I see a bit of a hole in your logic
> here. If a billion enriched Chinese have increasing affluence, that seems
> like it could still result in a lot of starving Africans.... How do you
> address the geographical differences in these scenarios? I'm not saying you
> are wrong, but I'm asking you to think about it. Are there scenarios where
> Americans, Europeans and Chinese do belt tightening, while Africans and
> South Americans go down the shitter?

### I knew this was coming :)

You notice how I wrote "nobody starves among this population" and
"population.... does not put itself at increased risk" (emphasis on
"this" and "itself"). Yes, you are correct, increased competition for
energy between the old rich, newly rich and the still poor can be bad
for the still poor - but note that this does not invalidate what I
wrote about low risk of societal breakdown in the intensive energy
demand scenario.


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