[ExI] pentagon wants orbiting solar power stations

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Oct 16 10:40:38 UTC 2007

On Mon, Oct 15, 2007 at 05:26:24PM -0400, John K Clark wrote:

> I have heard others complain about me doing this before, and I am just as
> baffled now as I was the first time I heard it. If anyone wants to reread
> your entire post it will take them about .9 seconds to find it. Perhaps they

It's not about rereading posts. It's about you selectively picking out
the irrelevant parts of the conversation, and focusing on them, and nothing
else. Conveniently forgetting my other points, as if I never said them. 
You might be not doing it on purpose, but it's a distinct pattern.

> can see what I could not, the thing you said that you think would prove
> my response to be wrong.
> > Actually, the electroscooter is huge in the third world.
> Well I don't know about the "electro" part but scooters are big in the third



"China produced 19 million battery driven bikes in 2006, and that figure 
could rise by 30 percent this year, said Zhang Changhai, lead analyst with 
metals consultancy Antaike in Beijing."

A drop in the sea, sure, but it's not negligible, and the drive is one
of the worst urban pollutions in the world. The e-bike is lightweight,
and requires so little power that it can be readily recharged from wall
sockets or PV panels, once these have become a cheaper and more reliable
power source than the electric grid, assuming there is a grid. 

Once that infrastructure is established, you can scale up the requirements,
until such comfortable, safe systems are in use everywhere in the world.

> world, because it's better than walking, and it's all they can afford. In

Once again it doesn't matter why they do it, but that they do it.
We live on on the bottom of a small gravity well, with pollution knowing 
no boundaries. A lot of what happens in China crosses the Pacific.
We also live in a limited-resource place, because our technology is
so pitiful it can't yet close material and energy flow loops, like biology
does. Unless we make that work, we have to work within our limits.

> America we can afford better so the closest thing you are likely to find to

The U.S. is not the whole world, and its fraction of importance is shrinking
as developing countries come online in full force. There are great chances
in developing technologies which won't doom them to repeat our mistakes.
It's in our own best interest to do so, both short- and long-term.

> an electric scooter is a Harley-Davidson. And that's not very close.

And many are driving a battered F250 truck, and can't afford the fuel for
the commute, nevermind a hog. Things are not so rosy outside of urban areas.
I don't know how sheltered you are, but things have been rumbling in the 
workforce. The income disparity has resulted in a very real loss of purchasing
capacity (availability of fundamentally new classes of consumables are
beside the point) in much of the populace, despite of rosy official figures. 
> > On the average, the european cars are considerably smaller and
> > more fuel  efficient
> True, and the reason is that gas is more expensive in Europe because it is

The tax rate is some 1/2 to 2/3rds of the final fuel price. Assuming the
tax would go into development of renewables and maintaining the infrastructure
I don't have problems with it. I do have considerable issues with that
being deliberately put into the common pot, removing accountability in the
local government.

> more highly taxed; if it were as cheap as it is in America then European
> cars would get bigger and more powerful because that is the sort of car

I don't think the SUV thing is rational. It's not even safe, statistically.

As to bigger and more powerful, that's not equivalent to larger motor, and
more fossil fuel. The iterative loop of more mass, larger motor, more mass,
till equilibrium also works in the reverse. Electromagnetic drives, spike
caches and electrochemical energy sources are fundamentally game-changing,
and will eventually put the classical ICE out if its misery. As an even
more dramatic game-changer is deployment of symmetrical high-bandwith
residential networks, and virtual and augmented reality technologies.
This took two decades longer than expected, but it finally has started

> most people would prefer to have. Until then most (but certainly not all!)
> European cars will look like toys to American eyes.

There is no such thing as a European car. Most of "European" cars are made
in the Far East. The reason U.S. cars don't sell well abroad is frankly
a bad reliability record, poor design and atrocious operatoin economics.
> > Energy is apparently still way too cheap.
> Too Cheap?! I just would not consider it as a great monument to
> progress if I had to trade in my 306 hp Lexus for some crappy little

You haven't bought your car because it has 306 hp, or an ICE burning
dead dinos in it. You bought it because you wanted to travel quickly
in comfort and safety. Carbon composite, regenerative braking and
spike cache can give you the speed (not that there's much use in the
U.S. for that), acceleration, safety in a much lighter package, driven
by electrochemical energy sources and not by a clunky Carnot cycle
engine with greenhouse, aerosol and hydrocarbon exhaust.

> 1.5 hp scooter that toped out at 18mph. Call me the devil incarnate
> if you want but I just would not be a happy man.

Nobody asks you to buy a scooter. I wouldn't buy a scooter myself, I
have a mountain bike and Far-East car with a very good reliability
record that doesn't cost me more than 50 EUR/month in fuel.
> Eugen I think I've know you long enough to know it is unlikely that you've
> suddenly embraced a philosophy common among Christian
> fundamentalists, that pain and adversity builds character. I really don't

Clearly there is no pain yet, or people would use sensible technology.

As an anarchist, I'm sitting between the chairs of strong government
and strong corporation/free market types. I don't like either, and
prefer bottom-up organization principle of smart, informed agents.

However, in the current reality the agents are neither smart, nor informed,
which is why we need both state and corporations, with the state
adding the long-term optimization component to the market's short-term
optimization, both living in an uneasy truce with each other.

This is also an ideal picture we don't see in reality very often.

The reality is that powerful lobbies own the government, and old
democracies are slowly breaking down into oligarchies, with potentially
disastrous slippage into totalitarian regime.

> think that was the point  you were trying to make, but what you were
> trying to say I have no idea.
> I just hope you haven't watched Al Gore's movie too many times.

I have absolutely no idea what's in the movie and in general I
value my time too much to spend listening to self-promotion PR
folks, who have to sell themselves to the lowest common denominator.

I'm also not sufficiently interested by the climate issue to spend
quality time with primary and secondary literature.

My interest with low-footprint and renewables is because they're fundamentally
local, and out of control, and will crossover with centralistic/nonrenewables
within the next decade outside of spatial and temporal niches. These are
technologies which empower individuals (including myself) and small groups 
of people, instead of maximizing government taxes and revenue of large 
> > fossil energy is getting more and more expensive year by year.
> It may take more pictures of George Washington to buy a gallon of gas,
> but as a fraction of income gas is about as cheap as it has ever been.

Wrong again. Real income has been stagnating since mid 1990s (and insidentally,
the GNP minus debt hasn't risen since that time), and most of the inflation
is in fossil prices.
> > the place I rent out is heated (and partly, powered) by geothermal
> If you live in Iceland geothermal is a no brainer, it is also an option if
> you live in perhaps .7% of the earth's suffice, otherwise you'd better

I'm not sure where you take these numbers. Notice that southern Bavaria
is in general not considered a classical geothermal location. It's not
a fluke, however, though I question the economics of the entire pilot,
since there were cost overruns which however were absorbed by the drilling
company, and not the local community which runs the GmbH operating the

> think of something else.

See, you're doing it again. I'm sure it would drive you up the wall
if I started reciprocating in the same vein.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list