[FoRK] Malthusian machinations

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 15 05:59:34 PDT 2010

On Jun 15, 2010, at 5:42, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 12:25:01AM -0500, Jeff Bone wrote:
>> On Jun 11, 2010, at 18:40, Sean Conner <sean at conman.org> wrote:
>>>  1. We have a lot of coal in this country.  It contains Thorium,
>> +1, thorium very good, and *very* small, cheap, and safe Th reactors
>> are essentially a done deal.
> You think? I'll believe it when you can buy them as a commercial
> product. So far, they're part of the nuclear failure. I don't think
> they'll get a second chance. There's no longer time nor money for  
> that.

Okay, here is an actionable bet.  I'd put something on the prospects  
for a commercial concern generating non-trivial revenu either making /  
selling or employing Th reactors by the end of this decade. Too lazy  
to write up the Long Bet, but if somebody else does it reasonably, I'm  
in.  How 'bout it, Eugen? (Obligatory disclosure: I'm aware of at  
least two credible efforts along these lines already, both beyond the  
whiteboard stage.)

Re Ken, your point is entirely valid re transportation,  
infrastructure, etc. That's part of why I rather insist on an  
incrementalist approach, as the end-game Eugen advocates, while  
absolutely the only possible positive end game, represents a complete  
phase change from where we are at today.  That ain't going to happen,  
because we can't stop the bus for long enough to change the tires,  
much less fab the replacements.  We've got to both fab the tires AND  
change them while the bus continues to roll on down the highway.

Tricky proposition.

BTW, the cold fusion bit was a troll.  I don't think there's any real  
bullet there, silver or otherwise.  Now, re Th, I do.  Re seawater U,  
less so, but still not a non-starter;  a little coral / sponge  
engineering and we can *grow* the harvester plant onsite in the  
appropriate places and trivially process the required amount of water;  
collecting the proceeds is slightly trickier but a little clever  
bioengineering could solve that, too --- have em detach and float once  
saturated, then just scoop em off the surface and process them.  I'd  
put that in the 20-year timeframe of practicality, though of course  
the idea of heavily GM'd radioactive sponges spreading around the  
ocean is probably a political non-starter for now, at least and  
probably a bad idea anyway without some substantial further  
safeguards. (Insert handwave here.) When oil hits say 200 / barrel and  
supply chains start to crumble, maybe less so.



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