[ExI] EP and Peak oil.

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 21:16:25 UTC 2008

On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 10:27 AM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
<sentience at pobox.com> wrote:
> Keith Henson wrote:
>  > On Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 1:37 PM, John K Clark <jonkc at att.net> wrote:
>  >
> >>  Right now
>  >>  it would take a solar panel the size New Jersey to replace the energy
>  >>  dispensed by just 100 gas stations.
>  >
>  > It isn't a large state, in fact it's ranked 47th out of 50 in area.


>  >  That's about 1% of the output of a NJ
>  > sized solar panel.
>  That figure sounded a little odd.  Thanks for checking, Keith.
Numbers are sharp as razors.  When you use them, you might as well
show your work.

>  > None of these are renewable.  There was an interesting article in New
>  > Scientist in Jan that makes the case we are within 25 years of peak
>  > coal.  Even with breeder reactors you run out of fissionable fuel in
>  > less time than you would think.  Part of the problem is the amount of
>  > energy you have to feed into getting a unit of energy out.  When you
>  > get down to mining granite for uranium, it's close to 100 percent
>  > being fed back.
>  How long does it take to run out of uranium?

It's an indeterminate question and it deeply depends on the available
technology.  There is a lot of uranium considering how heavy it is,
but it's rarely concentrated.

>  40 years may not be enough time for fusion,

Why would anyone bother with fusion when there is a nearby working
fusion reactor we can tap is beyond me.

>  but it's enough time to switch to thorium or
>  solar satellites (and probably enough time to build AI, but let's
>  leave that out for now).

It's game over when AIs come along.  The problem is that with the time
resolution we have now, we can't (or rather I can't) distinguish
between the out of control ride down the back side of peak oil and the
singularity takeoff.  If huge amounts of energy from space started
coming on line near in the mid to late 2020s, my bet is that the
project would never be finished because of AI.  On the other hand,
maybe the AIs would need the energy.


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