[FoRK] Malthusian machinations

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Jun 15 07:14:24 PDT 2010

On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 08:32:23AM -0500, Jeff Bone wrote:
> 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.

My numbers are from /dev/ass. This is just US, looking at current
budgets and assuming there will be cutting, and no further sources
of debt.

World wide the numbers would be at least 3-4 times as high.
> 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.

Well, we're seeing some minor progress in just one major industrialized
place: Germany. It is not nearly enough, and it looks like we're
about to run out of money (apropos bet, a global crash within
the next decade looks almost certain, arguably it could hit
in the next 5 years).
> 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  

Just the US? There's no money there.

> 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  

They also do not have it.

> sources. And their motivation to do so ironically doesn't kick in  
> until too late, because as oil crunches their profit margins go *up.*  

I expect that profits go down as you tackle increasingly more inaccessible
resource. Look at BP, just a minor glitch is about to finish them off.

> 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  

Achieving 80% energy sustainability in just 30 years? This isn't on
any roadmap I've seen. Germany targets for 50% renewable by 2040,
which it might or might reach. Currently it's 12%, but that's just
the electricity. Imports are still 2/3rd of total.

> 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.

There's going to be a giant demand gap renewables (or anything else)
won't be able to fill. Yep, we screwed the pooch on that one. The only
way to leap across that is by increasing energy efficiency, and reduce
energy use. 
> 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  

History may not repeat itself, but it certainly does rhyme.

> 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.  

There's going to be an unbridgeable gap, and we have to crawl across
it. It's not going to be pretty.

The only thing I wonder about whether there will be a war. There usually

> I see no way to avoid there being a gap, so I'm preoccupied with ideas  
> for how to build bridges.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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