[ExI] Energy Defeatism

Brent Neal brentn at gmail.com
Tue Dec 18 04:42:57 UTC 2012

I'm a little late to the party here in this thread, but I am completely on-board with the idea of Practical Optimism.

The way I think Practical Optimism applies in this particular case - and thus why I am optimistic about the future of energy - is that our global economy is rapid shifting to one where the fundamental unit of wealth is the ability to direct the use of a unit of energy. (One could argue, and many have when I've spoken about this in various public forums, that this has always been the case. I'm not an economic historian, so I won't speculate.) 

If wealth is tied to energy, when wealth becomes scarce, all of a sudden a -lot- of people are interested in increasing the supply of energy.

This is likely why the as-yet-unnamed government agency that Keith is talking to is talking to Keith. :)  (So, Keith, my bet is Japan, given the Fukushima Daiichi issue and the sea-change in the attitudes of the Japanese towards nukes. Also, I did finish digging through the spreadsheets you sent me a while back and got lazy/busy before I could follow-up with you about them.) I am optimistic about SBSP, though I think the primary obstacles will turn out to be political rather than physical. I'm still optimistic on enhanced geothermal and thorium cycle fission as well, though I recall that thorium cycle reactors are a hot-button issue here. But the bottom line is that I trust people to act to maximize wealth in aggregate and in the modern economy, the best way to do that is to increase the supply of energy.


Brent Neal, Ph.D.
<brentn at gmail.com>

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