[extropy-chat] Debate on Peak Oil

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sat Apr 30 19:17:46 UTC 2005

On Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 01:59:32PM -0700, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> >This discussion ignores the fact that one can manufacture gasoline out
> >of a few dollars of electricity right from the carbon dioxide in the 
> >air
> >and hydrogen in the water.
> Hahahaha.  Show me how that is economical.

While one could develop electro-/photosynthesis routes to, say, methanol from
CO2 and water it's a bit silly. It's much easier to use fossil and renewable
(biomass) sources of carbon, and synthesize both fuel and synthetic precursors
from there (perhaps using nuclear fission for process heat, if you want to
minimize CO2 output overall) -- via Fischer-Tropsch process' modern variants.

But we can do much better still by directly using photovoltaics and novel
batteries (high power density, many recharge cycles, rapid recharging) to
drive vehicles for personal transportation. 

It would be much better still to use telepresence over broadband (I understand
Japan rolls out 1 GBit fiber Ethernet to the curb, with last leg being Fast
Ethernet, for cheap), and not move atoms at all, if you can avoid it.

The peak oil issue is very serious, though, for psychological reasons. If
wide, sudden realization that demand surges on while output decays sets in
the market reaction won't be pretty, and prices will suddenly go through the
roof (and will stay there, for a while) -- which will cause all kind of
disruptions which will make the Oil Shock look like the picnic it was. 

So, I don't think we can afford to dismiss the Peak Oil issue. We've already
have been dragging our collective feet for over 35 years on hydrogen economy, 
we *will* have to deal with it eventually, so why not now? 

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07078, 11.61144            http://www.leitl.org
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http://moleculardevices.org         http://nanomachines.net
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