[FoRK] Malthusian machinations

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 15 06:32:23 PDT 2010





On Jun 15, 2010, at 7:04, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

>
> Again, I think we have excellent migration pathway by conservation,
> micro co-gen and renewable both at microgrid and supergrid level.
> At ~terabucks annually until 2050 it would probably work.

Perfect, now we have numbers.

Aside from disagreement about the present state of the nuke industry,  
we are really only disagreeing about two things: the cost (and  
provenance) of your solution and the timeframe to completion.

Re the former, I think you are off by an order of magnitude or two:  
10-100 terabucks annually is what I'd put it at.  And since that  
clearly isn't going to come from the public till (present or  
increasingly-leveraged future) absent some coordinated, global  
technocratic putsch, it's got to come from the usual private sector  
sources. And their motivation to do so ironically doesn't kick in  
until too late, because as oil crunches their profit margins go *up.*  
The economic path therefore has to be monotonic.

Re timeframes, at the level I mentioned I'm slightly more optimistic  
than you: we'd get there by 2040, I'd say. But the  effort will have  
to make it on roughly the funding level you mention, though heavily  
backloaded. That puts completion at your 2050 or maybe 1-2 decades  
further; and that leaves a potentially deadly serious 1-3 decade gap  
in the middle of the century. It's that gap that worries me.

The biggest worry of all for me is that we "what, me worry?" ourselves  
so far into that hole that we don't have the means to get out by the  
time we realize we are in it.  The technocratic soft tyrrany necessary  
IMHO to go straight to your solution most efficiently and avoid the  
gap entirely seems unlikely to me at this point given economic and  
political / cultural reality, but those winds do blow...

So I guess there's a third disagreement, too: you don't see any way to  
bridge a gap, so going straight to the end game is your only solution.  
I see no way to avoid there being a gap, so I'm preoccupied with ideas  
for how to build bridges.


jb



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