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Old 03-08-2011, 07:09 PM   #26
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Po

Quote:
Tenyu Hamaki wrote: View Post
Phi,

Fusion is star trek fantasy.
You mean nuclear fusion is out of our technological reach?

Fusion is definitely not as far fetched as Star Trek technology. Scientists don't know how devices like warp drive or transporter might be built. Such technologies may not be physically possible.

But nuclear fusion has already been done. It is not even new. But it is an enormous engineering challenge to do it in a way that the process returns more energy than it costs to keep the fusion going at a price that can compete with burning fossil fuels.

The ITER project was started in 1985. It gets funding (13 billion dollars) from several countries and it takes decades to complete.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER


Last edited by Dave de Vos : 03-08-2011 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:18 PM   #27
lbb
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Re: Po

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
While I am totally all over solar and other "Green" sources of energy, the only way we will be able to supply the energy needed by the world's population and its demands for economic development going forward is by developing nuclear power starting right away.
I'd agree, but it's got to be in combination with stopping being so damn wasteful in our use of energy.

Unfortunately, there's so much resistance to this change that it probably won't happen in a planned, relatively painless manner. Instead, people will look at the change and think it's just too painful, being asked to carpool and turn down the thermostat and turn off appliances when they're not in use. So they won't change. And then, they'll discover what real pain is, and the rest of us along with them.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:34 PM   #28
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Re: Po

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
That's a rather broad statement...and makes some rather large assumptions. You're suggesting that if we were able to use fusion power we would only feel more empowered and use it up faster? Cotton Gin all over again?
I disagree that it is the necessary result. The cynic in me would be inclined to agree with you, but that part of me isn't exactly based on what is actually possible.
So you think no energy technology should be sought? Should we live as the other great apes do?
Technology is not a source of energy.

quote from MonteQuest:

As we are all learning, we are about to enter an era in which, each year, less net energy will be available to humankind, regardless of our efforts or choices. It takes energy to do any work. Energy is not the only factor we must consider, however; the operative principle in determining the carrying capacity of an ecosystem is known as Liebig's Law, which states that whatever necessity is least abundant, relative to per-capita requirements, sets the environment's limit for the population of any given species. Climate change may well be the limiting factor or water availability, but energy seems to be forefront, for now.

The Second Law of Thermo Dynamics states that whenever energy is converted from one form to another, there is an energy loss in the form of heat. This is the law of entropy as well, which is a measure of the amount of energy no longer practically capable of conversion to work. Entropy within an isolated system inevitably increases over time. Since it takes work to create and maintain order within a system, the entropy law tells us that, in the battle between order and chaos, it is chaos that ultimately wins. The only truly isolated system we know of is the universe. But there are two other system types: open and closed. The earth is an example of a closed system. It exchanges energy with the universe, but not matter, save the occasional meteorite.

Living organisms, on the other hand, are an example of an open system, where both matter and energy are exchanged. It is because of this exchange that living systems can afford to create and sustain order. Take that useable source of energy away and they soon die. This is true of human societies and technologies as well. Human societies can increase their level of order by increasing their energy flow-through; but by doing so they increase the entropy (random movement towards disorder) within the closed system. The energy available in an ecosystem is one of the most important factors in determining its "carrying capacity," which is the maximum load, that can be supported on a sustainable basis.

The limiting factor for any population may change over time. Nature prefers stable arrangements that entail self-limitation, recycling, and cooperation. Energy subsidies as the results of disturbed environments (mining, oil, coal, LNG, extraction) or colonization (invading Iraq) provide giddy moments of extravagance for the species, but crashes and die-offs usually follow. Balance eventually returns.

Man has increased his energy flow-through in many ways: colonization, tool use, specialization, globalization (trade), and the use of nature's stock of non-renewable resources: coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium. This last strategy has been the most successful in increasing the carrying capacity of the environment. The human population did not reach 1 billion until 1820; so in 190 years, it has increased more than six-fold. If we were to add up the total energy consumption that keeps us in the life-style we are accustomed to, compared to the energy a human body can produce, we find that every American has the equivalent of 50 "energy slaves" working for them 24 hours a day. While we enjoy our "slaves", it has its costs: ecological destruction, pollution, climate change, and an every increasing dependency on sun-light carbon that went underground millions of years ago, which is not a part of the earth's closed carbon cycle system.

When there is lots of food-energy available, a population will flourish. Obviously, it can't go on forever, eventually there will be more numbers than there is food to support them or some other "least abundant necessity" will set a limit. Over the long-term, nature will strike a balance between the number of individuals and the available carrying capacity. However, the momentum of population increase from a sudden energy wind-fall (such as fossil fuels) will lead the population to what is referred to as "overshoot, " and far exceed the carrying capacity of their environment. Normally, Nature's feedback loops keep its populations in check. We have found ways to circumvent most of them: medicines to combat disease, increased production of food, and the exploitation of non-renewable energy sources.

A proliferating, ever-energy-hungry overshoot population, feeding off of a temporary stock of non-renewable energy, will actually reduce the natural carrying capacity, even as their numbers and energy consumption is increasing, creating a deficit. In other words, populations in overshoot continue to grow even in the face of declining food, resources, and the ability of the environment to absorb the wastes. If this occurs, the population will not simply gradually diminish until balance is achieved: instead, it will rapidly crash—that is, die-off. The human population is in severe overshoot and our phantom carrying capacity is leaving us.

At this point, depending on how seriously we have destroyed the natural carrying capacity due to overshoot, the global human carrying capacity will plummet perhaps even below its pre-industrial levels or we could die out altogether. Other species certainly have done so in the same biological situation. This is Liebig's Law and no species is immune. The party is over, the beer is gone, and the harsh light of morning is in our eyes.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:46 PM   #29
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Re: Po

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I'd agree, but it's got to be in combination with stopping being so damn wasteful in our use of energy.

Unfortunately, there's so much resistance to this change that it probably won't happen in a planned, relatively painless manner. Instead, people will look at the change and think it's just too painful, being asked to carpool and turn down the thermostat and turn off appliances when they're not in use. So they won't change. And then, they'll discover what real pain is, and the rest of us along with them.
Did you read post #4 of this thread?

Carpooling is like putting a band-aid on after having your leg cut off and thinking that's gonna prevent bleeding to death. This analogy is generous considering the scale of global energy consumption.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:44 AM   #30
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Po

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Tenyu Hamaki wrote: View Post
Technology is not a source of energy.

...The party is over, the beer is gone, and the harsh light of morning is in our eyes.
Hi Tenyu,
I never said technology is an energy source and I know most of these concepts fairly well (by lay standards). That still doesn't seem to answer my questions. Saying that the adoption of fusion power will necessarily lead to more and greater degrees of irresponsible behavior is a presumption. You seem to be saying it's bad because there's a risk people will become more dependent on limited energy sources; that abundance necessitates gluttony. I merely think it's a tendency based on ignorance, and one which could just as easily be shifted toward sustainability (or a modicum of sufficient balance) since we're big brained apes who are particularly good at adapting with tools and analytical/synthetic thinking, something wolf populations who overshoot their food supply don't have.
Take care,
Matt

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:26 AM   #31
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Re: Po

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Tenyu Hamaki wrote: View Post
Did you read post #4 of this thread?
Did you read my post?

Quote:
Tenyu Hamaki wrote: View Post
Carpooling is like putting a band-aid on after having your leg cut off and thinking that's gonna prevent bleeding to death. This analogy is generous considering the scale of global energy consumption.
You seem to feel that because one "band-aid", as you put it, won't cure the entire problem all by itself, it's not worth doing. I question whether there is a fix that's big enough for the problem. I don't see any indication that this is so -- but I do see a lot of lazy, wishful thinking in this direction. So, when you combine disparagement of smaller, partial solutions with the tooth-fairy belief that there's a big win total solution lurking out there somewhere, just around the corner, you have an airtight way of thinking that enables you to go on consuming, not make any changes in your lifestyle, and assume that the Easter Bunny is going to come along with some new technology to bail you out. I don't think it's going to happen that way. I don't think that the big win is there. If it isn't, what's the outcome?

The useful purpose behind carpooling, reduced consumption, local food production, alternative energy, etc. is not to solve the "how can we continue to do exactly what we're doing now" problem. The purpose is to solve the problem of how to adjust to the fact that our current lifestyle will no longer be an option -- not that it will be a little bit more expensive or a little bit less convenient, but that it will be gone altogether. When that day comes, people who haven't made adjustments in their lives and learned to live with less are going to have one hard and rocky row to hoe.
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:59 AM   #32
C. David Henderson
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Re: Po

Quote:
Tenyu Hamaki wrote: View Post
David H,

I think it's both, and almost everyone who studies oil professionally, the biggest industry in the world, thinks likewise.

Best case scenario for this pipe dream is ten years from now? Look at where we are in terms of net oil production in 2020 on the first graph in this thread. Not to mention you still can't power cars, trucks, planes or ships the arteries and veins of the global economy with electricity.

All agriculture, food production, food delivery requires cheap oil. There's no replacement.
Tenyu,

I have no quarrel with you opinion on this subject, generally, though I don't agree with you.

I also remain respectfully skeptical of many of your assessments about the future, or at any rate, at your expressions of certainty.

David Henderson
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:01 AM   #33
Tenyu
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Re: Po

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Hi Tenyu,
I never said technology is an energy source and I know most of these concepts fairly well (by lay standards). That still doesn't seem to answer my questions. Saying that the adoption of fusion power will necessarily lead to more and greater degrees of irresponsible behavior is a presumption. You seem to be saying it's bad because there's a risk people will become more dependent on limited energy sources; that abundance necessitates gluttony. I merely think it's a tendency based on ignorance, and one which could just as easily be shifted toward sustainability (or a modicum of sufficient balance) since we're big brained apes who are particularly good at adapting with tools and analytical/synthetic thinking, something wolf populations who overshoot their food supply don't have.
Take care,
Matt
http://peakoil.com/forums/post962535.html#p962535
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:02 AM   #34
Tenyu
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Re: Po

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Charles David Henderson wrote: View Post
Tenyu,

I have no quarrel with you opinion on this subject, generally, though I don't agree with you.

I also remain respectfully skeptical of many of your assessments about the future, or at any rate, at your expressions of certainty.
What parts would you not agree with?
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:01 PM   #35
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Po

I disagree that "the" playbook has failed "us." Whether or not "it" will remains to be seen. I think a lot of good points have been put forth. There is inequity between the Haves and the Have-nots the world over, to varying degrees. I still think some of the rhetoric is a little too hyperbolic.

Quote:
Big thinkers of the time, like Rene Descartes, concluded that the world was one of mathematical precision, not confusion. Science and technology were seen as the tools to rearrange the stuff of nature in a way that best advanced the material self-interest of human beings.
I believe the world is essentially just that. The difference is that the math has grown...and it is in the material self-interest of human beings to learn what they can about their environment; to foster sustainability and to think socially as well as economically. It's a balancing act. And just as every person is born ignorant and bumps into the world around it until it develops some familiarity, so too does mankind in a larger sense.
I'm all for returning to a more nature-based society. I see nothing in here that says technology approaches toward energy harvesting is necessarily bad. I still believe there is more grey to this than your black and white presentation.
I do think we agree with each other that our society in general is too greedy; that we take our standard of living for granted and don't appreciate the many luxuries we enjoy; that for all practical purposes we live within a finite system and are subject to limitation (asymptotic characteristics ne?). My view is that our sense of entitlement is ridiculous, but since I find myself wanting to stand on a soap box all of a sudden, I'll digress.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 03-09-2011 at 01:09 PM.

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