[ExI] EP and Peak oil.

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 1 08:02:50 UTC 2008

--- John K Clark <jonkc at att.net> wrote:

> Not me, I agree with the quote. Whatever is going to replace oil it
> will
> need to be HUGE, absolutely ENORMOUS! Wind farms and tidal energy
> just don't make the grade. Maybe solar energy could someday make a
> dent in the problem, but the technology just isn't there yet. Right
> now
> it would take a solar panel the size New Jersey to replace the energy
> dispensed by just 100 gas stations. There are about 20,000 gas
> stations
> in the USA alone. And yes, I've heard of solar power satellites, but
> are
> you so confident that the idea will be economically and ecologically
> feasible that you would be willing to invest your entire life savings
> into
> the idea and be prepared to live on the streets if it failed? I'm
> not.

Why not? If you go down with the oil and internal combustion industry
ship, you will be on the streets any way. Some chance of avoiding
famine and the horrors of starvation is better than no chance. We are
stuck in a Malthusian trap plain and simple. We have gotten out of
these before and we can do it again, as long as we have the collective
will, freedom of action, and investment capital. But the solution won't
be a single technology or fit into a single sound bite. It will be a
lot of little things. Things like generating electricity from methane
bioreactors at sewage treatment plants and land fills, solar-steam 
farms, lots of nuclear power, and stirling-engine automobiles.   

> And I'm all for making things more efficient, but that's not going to
> solve
> the problem either, efficiency just makes energy cheaper, thus people
> will
> use more of it.

Yes this is the over-arching long-term problem. Going from hunter
gatherer to agrarian gave us some ecological slack that we subsequently
lost by overbreeding. Same thing happened when we made the agrarian to
industrial transition. If we escape from this one trap there is another
one on the horizon. So we best make best use of whatever time we buy to
find another habitable world. If we just breed to capacity again, we
really are screwed.

> You can fantasize about nuclear fusion (hot or cold) or vacuum zero
> point
> energy all you want but the cold hard reality is that right now only
> 5
> technologies have the potential to replace oil. All of them would
> give Green
> Party tree huggers a tizzy fit (but then everything gives them a
> tizzy fit);
> and none of them are exactly cheap, except perhaps the last if we did
> it
> just right. They are:
> 1) Coal
> 2) Tar Sands
> 3) Oil Shale
> 4) Methane clathrate, (the least developed technology)
> 5) Nuclear Fission

Well if this is the case, we should be cajoling and bribing the
automotive industry to shrug off the death-grip of the oil industry and
start building stirling-electric hybrid automobiles. These things would
run off of batteries until the stirling engine got hot enough to start
recharching them with a generator. They could be set up to work with
ANY heat source. Burning coal, wood chips, cow-dung, even uranium fuel
rods. Either that or get ready to drag the steam engines back out.

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"Life is the sum of all your choices."  
Albert Camus

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