[ExI] it was the best times, it was the best of times

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Oct 7 16:45:44 UTC 2013

On Mon, Oct 07, 2013 at 09:12:33AM -0700, Adrian Tymes wrote:

> Among the free services I get - nope.  I see no data, either statistical or
> anecdotal from my own experience, that suggests we are anywhere near a peak
> on this.

I'm referring to advanced dumpster divers here. Probably not many freegans
are reading this list. I would be genuinely interested about their pickings
in UK (London, largely) and US. My theory is that there's less waste now,
but I have no actual data.
> You are right to point out that free services are not free products,
> though.  Someone always pays for the products eventually - even if that
> price often (though not always, especially for raw ingredients such as oil)
> gets lower over time, as more efficient ways to make and/or use the
> products are discovered.  (For instance, if oil gets 1.2 times as expensive
> but cars get twice the MPG, then it net costs less to drive a certain
> distance.)

What we're seeing empirically, in the US, is that nonessential driving
is reduced, aka demand destruction. I wonder when the reality of fuel
prices at the pump and economy versus the rhetoric will percolate through.
It doesn't seem to, so far.
> > Mining has ceased last century, as the richer ore veins have been
> > exhausted.
> "Ceased" is a strong word.  It doesn't mean "in decline", it means

Well, that particular mine (the largest medieval mine, 85% of world's
silver came from there during its peak in 1500) was shuttered in 1975. 
It might be reopened again, if the price increases make the lower ore 
grades and deeper mining cost effective. We should also see some of
the copper and silver substituted (e.g. Cu being substituted by
aluminium bronzes and aluminium), similarly as whale oil is no longer
much in demand. But some elements are more vital than others.

> "completely stopped".  If mining ceased no later than 2000 (depending on
> where you put the century mark), then what's with all the active,
> productive mines today in 2013?

I don't know when copper production is supposed to peak, some say
2040 http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3086 -- I think we don't have
sufficient data to be able to tell, quite yet.

Some minerals are critical, others are less so
> And, of course, there's the potential for asteroid mining.  It hasn't
> started yet, and there's quite a bit to do, but the amount of energy needed
> to get it seriously productive seems to be within current reserves - so
> long as that effort is started soon enough, of course.

I'm very optimistic long-term, but we must get there first. I'm not
at all optimistic mid-term, simply because the evidence shows that
we're making pretty much all mistakes in the book. If you make too
many mistakes, there's a critical mass beyond which you no longer
can recover. That possibility should scare people shitless, and make
them move in order to avoid that scenario. Unfortunately, we monkeys
are quite lousy dealing with abstract threats.

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