[FoRK] Subjective value

Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> on Wed Aug 29 13:24:23 PDT 2007

On Wed, Aug 29, 2007 at 01:03:47PM -0700, Aaron Burt wrote:

> Ah.  I was worried that you were saying that.

Perhaps insufficiently worried.
 
> You assume that non-potable water is abundant (in the air or otherwise)

Vater vapour is abundant, even in the desert, especially in a closed-circuit
environment with metabolising animals in it.

> and that high-quality manufactured goods (and spares) are always easily

A world where grassroot (as in, consumed few meters from where it's produced,
personally owned installations) electricity is one order of magnitude cheaper
than now is very different from today.

> available.  Not good assumptions given geography, transport and money issues.

Let's say I give you a self-inflating dome home made from polymer PV, with
a solid-state heat pump and a hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell, buffered by gas
bags filled by an electrolysis cell. The entire assembly for a whole
family would be a few k$, and fit in the back of a hillbilly EV truck.

You think that's not a game changer for rural places everywhere?
Add wireless mesh with LEO routed backing, and there's no need
for fiber. You could sit down smack in the middle of Gobi, which
is a damn lot easier to terraform than Mars.
 
> Also assumes there's biofuel and advanced battery tech sufficient to

Biofuel doesn't work.

> replace all transport fuel needs, and that we can replace all necessary

Why do you need battery tech if you have very cheap kWh?

> industrial chemistry that currently depend on petrol feedstock.

What is petrol other than fossil fixated CO2? There's plant, carbonates
and plain air everywhere (with sufficiently cheap kWh, I can make you
methanol from thin air).
 
> We're close on the transport fuels/batteries, assuming folks can handle

What's wrong with methanol, or a simple EV?

> *much* higher transport costs, heavier usage of trains and ships and the

Why higher? The cheaper your kWh, the lower transport costs.
We live in a world where energy is scarce, while only tapping
some 10^-4 of what hits this planet; nevermind what passes
through cislunar space (which is more than enough to boil
lead on Earth surface -- eat flaming death, global warming). 


> attendant multi-week lead times, and fuel/battery costs that put
> personal automobiles in a class with private planes.

You seem to have taken the wrong reality branch. Either we're
going to bite the dust, or we'll rise to outshine the gods.
 
> We're working on the industrial chemistry.  It's mostly a university
> research thing as far as I know, but we still have a lot we can recover
> from WWII Germany and the pre-petrol era.  (I understand we'd been
> making cellulosic ethanol with weak-acid hydrolysis over 100 years ago.)

Biofuels don't work.
 
> Interestingly enough, I recently read a paper that stated that oil crops
> can produce the same amount on the same acreage if grown organically
> rather than chemically.  So we don't need to waste precious petrol on
> fertilizers and pesticides just to grow biodiesel.

Biofuels don't work.
 
> Solar energy don't cost a penny.  Getting it in good quantities, in a

But the antennas to catch it do. Let's say PV panels which last a few
summers at some 10% efficiency cost you 1$/m^2. What then?

> usable form that's in the right place at the right time, OTOH, is what
> my wife works on now (Ag Sci) and what I hope to work on (EE).

Plants do worse than 0.5% efficiency (fossil does much, much worse,
you're living on burning dead dinos), and none of it is in direct
consumable kWh. 

On the long run, there's no difference between Ag Sci and EE, anyway.

-- 
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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