[FoRK] Are you Malthusiastic? Re: Concrete results

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Jun 17 13:22:34 PDT 2013

On 6/17/13 12:32 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 11:45:43AM -0700, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> On 6/17/13 4:38 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
>>> On Sun, Jun 16, 2013 at 02:39:38PM -0700, Stephen Williams wrote:
>>>>> Today the Bakken has at least 24,000,000,000 barrels of recoverable oil
>>>>> discovered so far.
>>>> What's that?  Innovation saves the day, again?  Why, I'm surprised!
>>> You should be surprised: http://www.theoildrum.com/search/apachesolr_search/bakken
>> Really?
> I take it you've read the top 3-4 hits on that, and disagree
> with either the numbers, or the reasoning. (Notice that this
> doesn't say anything else that has appeared in peer-reviewed
> publications, so it takes a peer-reviewed publication to
> disagree -- something like Nature or Science, preferably).

Not digested yet and ill prepared to properly debunk.  However, the hand wavey dismissal of nuclear with essentially 
preaching-to-the-converted reasoning smells bad.  And that was the first document that I read.

>> Perhaps we should stop making all nasty chemicals based on the same rationale?
> Perhaps we should address the point at hand: how we don't fall
> off the net energy cliff.
>>> # That leaves us with only one sane course of action: demand
>>> destruction combined with renewables. Any challenges to high EROI
>>> renewables carry the responsibility to find high EROI solutions.
>>> If batteries don't cut the mustard, then forget batteries. If the
>>> main challenge is intermittency, then it is time for us to set the
>>> bar higher and put qualified intermittency engineers to work. Many
>>> serious developers are working on low cost, high capacity, high
>>> round-trip efficiency storage. And they aren't wasting their time
>>> on batteries. If trees can survive the night (/and/ winter even in
>>> Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia), then so can humans.
>>> What's your plan B?
>> More innovation, of course.
> What is the precise game plan to fill the fossil gap?
> The number is 1 TW/year deployed. Where is the innovation
> that can give us that, starting yesterdecade, for the next
> 40 years? Notice that there are no exponential in this,
> it's linear at best, and arguably sublinear at high values.

I'm innovating in different areas, so perhaps this is best left as an exercise for the reader.  ;-)
Biodiesel seems promising for non-electricity generation.
Nuclear, plus wind, solar, and waves seem promising for electricity.  Mainly nuclear, unless we get serious about a heliostat with 
microwave satellite relay for serious energy density or drop shipments of space-pumped dilithium-like energy storage.

Getting a heliostat energy relay working will take decades. Building some boilers and turbines could be completed in a few years, at 
scale, if we were serious.  I don't see anything about it that can't be built out in parallel, other than a few key scientific and 
design problems.

>> Not malthusiastic.
>> Or perhaps just in time Malthusian: JITM.
> Some of the Limits to Growth guys are pretty JITM.
> They think that the population collapse doesn't happen
> by deaths but birth rate going to almost zero overnight,
> as peasants flock into the urban slums. I think that's
> some nice crack they're smoking.
>> On development time of nuclear reactors, I doubt there is a
>> fundamental reason that it should take 20-30 years.  Many designs
> It takes that much to go from a paper design to a commercial product
> in volume (all assumes that your paper design works, so far it
> doesn't seem likely). Remember that the volume is 2000 new reactors/year.
> The demand gap is cumulative, and failure to deploy now limits your
> ability to deploy in future. Does this sound like a winner scenario to you?

It does now.  When we, collectively, are dragging our feet.  A serious scale out is much different.  What limits this in an 
emergency, really?  Number of trained welders?  Electricians?

>> are relatively simple.  Assuming an urgent need, we need only relax
>> safety scrutiny and add money & people to speed things up some
>> numbers of magnitudes.
> Sorry, going from zero/year to thousands reactors/year overnight doesn't
> happen in reality. Same applies for synfuel plants. Same applies
> for grid upgrades. Same applies for storage. Same applies for
> photovoltaics.

Depends on the technology involved.

> This isn't about making a NoSQL farm scale. This is actual,
> hard work that takes real skill and real resources, including
> real money.
> It doesn't matter, since we're already too late.
> Since I have to explain elementary truths to a dubious audience,
> here's your proof: we're fucked.

Well then we can try anything because it won't matter.
Or maybe they are dubious truths to an elementary audience?
Anyway, hopefully you are wrong, but we should act like you are close enough to right and start doing something.


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