Friday, January 04, 2008

Wizards at War - VI

quoth Cobb;
I'm a proponent of Dyson's Utopia. But as my friend at BP says, low skill people are always going to migrate towards urbanization. That's the macro trend that we cannot stop, short of convenient genocides. As long as the paradigm of urban living is with us, our energy requirements are going to be high per capita. There is no global decentralization coming.
Neato, but none of the architects of the current political and military administrative regime share your fondness for this unattainable sci-fi theme. Rather, they've been embarked on a global enterprise-wide initiative to get ready for a series of those convenient genocides you mentioned. As a professed Straussian and uberfan of T.P.M. Barnett - perhaps you're already familiar with the Marshallite nougat underlying the politically expedient neoconservative just-so-stories used to grease and sell the GWOT? What, other than provide the means to selectively instigate, manage and utilize "convenient genocides"- is the revolution in military affairs intended to accomplish?

The World Does Not Need More Fossil Fuel, or Alternative Energy Sources to Replace It - 2003 Joseph George Caldwell

While there is much discussion and expenditure of energy on the subject of finding and developing and using oil, there is also much discussion on the topic of alternative energy sources, such as nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and solar energy (including all uses of the current flux of solar energy, such as hydroelectric and biomass, not just solar heating and solar electric). In my book, Can America Survive?, I made the point that these other sources of energy cannot replace the energy of fossil fuels, for a number of reasons. I will not go into those reasons here. The point is that, relatively soon, mankind is going to be restricted to living on the budget of the current solar energy flux. And the salient consequence of this is that the current-solar-energy budget can support at most only a few hundred million human beings. When fossil fuels are gone, the global human population will drop from over six billion to far less than one billion.

But even this is not the point. Even if mankind could find a source of energy to replace fossil fuel, it would be a fatal error to do so. Mankind is currently using an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s biologically useful supply of solar energy, and is using many times that amount of energy in the form of fossil fuel. And it is that high level of energy use that is the problem. Mankind is using so much energy (current solar energy plus the stored energy of fossil fuel) that it is destroying the biosphere. For human beings to survive, and for the biosphere to survive in a condition similar to that in which mankind evolved, it is necessary for mankind’s use of energy to drop dramatically. In other words, if an energy source (e.g., nuclear fusion) could be found to replace fossil fuels, the demise of the planet would be assured. The biosphere cannot continue with the present high rate of energy use. That high rate of energy use is causing mass species extinction, and is destroying the biosphere. The survival of mankind and the biosphere is totally dependent on mankind’s reducing the level of energy utilization back to that level at which the biosphere and mankind evolved.

So what is to be done? All of the industrial nations are seeking to consume fossil fuels as rapidly as possible, and they are also eagerly and urgently seeking alternative energy sources, despite the fact that this high level of energy use is destroying life on the planet. I have two points. First, as I argued in Can America Survive?, it is very unlikely that mankind will find any energy source to replace the energy of fossil fuels. Second, even if it did, to continue to use energy at the current rate would continue the mass species extinction and destroy the biosphere. Such a discovery (although not likely in my view) would sound the death knell for the planet and seal its doom.