General / Off-Topic Recycle or Die! (the elite environmental thread)

The hubris of intelligent men has led to many things, not all of them great, not all of the assumptions correct. That is what i'm getting at. One of the big problems of science as a medium (and i'm a firm pro-science guy in general) is it breeds a type of 'thought arrogance' that can skew ones ability to find the right solutions and enact the right actions. So a scientific article pointing to thermodynamics being the reason for 'culling' everyone except a million lucky humans.......well that tends to show the danger of the 'arrogance of man' (i.e. when 'we' think we know all the answers).

We have computers, we can fly into space and have extended the lives of the majority of people alive today. All incredible things thanks 100% down to science and mankind's ability to apply the scientific principle to the world around us. Big pats on the back us.

However to think that after just a few hundred years on that journey (of real science) we know everything and can predict everything, well that is just scientific hubris. I'm not saying the concerns in the article are not real or that there is simply a magical pixy dust solution around the corner (maybe God will step in and help out etc), but as people of science we need to be really careful to understand that we really, 90% of the time, actually don't fully understand,,,,well just about everything. How does a bumblebee fly, what started the Big Bang, why IS the universe still expanding (and doing it faster and faster), where is 90% of the Universe etc. Oh and using Cane Toads in Australia to control a pest was in hindsight a bad scientific idea.

So sometimes we have to step back from the data at hand and look for a bigger picture, that is all i'm getting at. There are solutions to pretty much all the fundamental problems we face. Having the ability to see that and act on that is the great gift of mankind's brain and the scientific principles we have used well (mostly) so far.

Hunger on earth? The vast majority of people that live in starvation or below the threshold of what we consider a normal level of nutrition do so because of war. It is really hard to grow crops and prepare the soil when living so statically leaves you to the mercy of murders and armed killers. If we want to solve hunger on earth we need to stop selling weapons to tyrants (as a first step). That means we citizens of our countries need to force any elected representatives to not fund the arms trade. We could do that if we wanted. With no war we'd find a huge boost in the worlds ability to feed itself.

We are right on the brink as modern organised societies, i agree with you there, and AGW is going to be huge this coming 100 years in terms of if we make it or if it all comes falling down. However if we change how we work, how we think and how we act, all this drama and destruction will be a foot note in mankind's future history.

Personally i'm up for changing, i'm up for kicking fossil fuel into touch and going 100% renewables, i'm up for not electing war-mongers and self-serving sociopaths, i'm up for not giving my money to corporations that destroy the one good world we have, i'm up for seeing and believing we can be 'better' and actually have a future, a decent comfortable future where science and reason can lead us if we really want it.

Sadly we still have a way to go until that day:

'Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011':


Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels.

BP’s annual global energy report, an influential review of the market, revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The recorded temperature swings – days which are much hotter or colder than normal – helped drive the world’s biggest jump in gas consumption for more than 30 years.

They also resulted in a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade.

Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy.

That level of growth in emissions represents the carbon equivalent of driving an extra 400m combustion engine cars onto the world’s roads, said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist.

Dale said the increase in the number of extreme weather events and increasing demand for energy could be a vicious cycle. “If there is a link between the growing levels of carbon in the atmosphere and the types of weather patterns observed in 2018 this would raise the possibility of a worrying vicious cycle: increasing levels of carbon leading to more extreme weather patterns, which in turn trigger stronger growth in energy (and carbon emissions) as households and businesses seek to offset their effects”
This is really the sting in the tail of AGW, in that we have not reacted quickly and correctly enough to avoid adding problems such as the article goes into. It is a rough journey ahead and the more we allow our governments and corporations to drag their feet on the issues (of AGW) the worse the immediate future is going to be for all of us.
 
@Zak Gordon
Today the Guardian also has an article telling that "Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050". (Yeah right!)


2050 is too late. You know that and I know that, and a lot of other people people know that, but some disagree. However, who agrees or not does not matter. Who is the most powerful person on this planet? The POTUS? The Pope? They still can't do magic.

I recently stumbled upon a woman called Alice Friedemann. She has a web page:


After reading some of her posts, I have to say that she is one of the few persons I've seen trying to do actual calculations, on a large scale, on whether something like a transition to renewable energy is realistically possible. Let me quote:

"Utility scale energy storage has a long way to go to make renewables possible"

Now you might think that Alice is a lobbyist from the oil industry writing something like that. That doesn't seem to be the case when you read on. A lot of Alice's calculations are what science, with a slightly derogatory term, would call "back of an envelope calculations". However, most of science starts out with an idea popping up in someones mind, and a quick calculation on an envelope or a napkin somewhere. Alice is mostly concerned about the US, but she has solid references on what she states. From the article on energy storage:

"Using data from the Department of Energy energy storage handbook, I calculated that the cost of NaS batteries capable of storing 24 hours of electricity generation in the United States came to $40.77 trillion dollars, covered 923 square miles, and weighed in at a husky 450 million tons."

"Barnhart looked at how much material and energy it would take to make batteries that could store up to 12 hours of average daily world power demand, 25.3 TWh. Eighteen months of worldwide primary energy production would be needed to mine and manufacture these batteries, and material production limits were reached for many minerals even when energy storage devices got all of the world’s production (with zinc, sodium, and sulfur being the exceptions)."

When was the last time you heard a decision maker mention something like that?

NaS batteries is currently one of our best bids, when it comes to large scale energy storage from wind and solar. The main reason being that contrary to lithium, we have large amounts of sodium and sulfur. However, these batteries are not easy to deal with. They contain large amounts of pure sodium that has to be in a liquid state, meaning that they have to operate at temperatures above 300 deg C (572 deg F). They also burn from time to time.


From the article:

"In Japan, sodium-sulfur batteries at Mitsubishi Materials Corp.'s Tsukuba plant in Ibaraki prefecture caught on fire on Sept. 21. It took firefighters more than eight hours to control the blaze, and authorities declared it extinguished on Oct. 5.

NGK Insulators Ltd., the company that manufactured the energy storage system, said it is still investigating the incident's cause and has halted production of its sodium-sulfur cells, which are installed in 174 locations across six countries.

"Clearly, storing large amounts of energy is difficult from a physics standpoint; [the energy] would rather be somewhere else," said Paul Denholm, a senior energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory."

The article I linked to from the National Academy of Sciences concerning the thermodynamics of the biosphere is equally simplified as Alice's calculations. I think they are simplified for a reason. It is easy to get lost in science. It's complicated, but there are still simple facts that we all agree upon. Like gravity pulls or no nutrients means life is not possible. That goes for energy as well. No energy, no life.

That is what the article tells and then they do a very simplified calculation of the system, being overly optimistic (and stating that), coming to the result that with business as usual, even if we could eat all the biomass including the trees (we can't digest those), in a few decades we reach a point where even that won't be able to sustain the energy need of the human population for a year.

To change that we need a magician.
 
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@Zak Gordon
Today the Guardian also has an article telling that "Theresa May commits to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050". (Yeah right!)


2050 is too late. You know that and I know that, and a lot of other people people know that, but some disagree. However, who agrees or not does not matter. Who is the most powerful person on this planet? The POTUS? The Pope? They still can't do magic.

I recently stumbled upon a woman called Alice Friedemann. She has a web page:


After reading some of her posts, I have to say that she is one of the few persons I've seen trying to do actual calculations, on a large scale, on whether something like a transition to renewable energy is realistically possible. Let me quote:

"Utility scale energy storage has a long way to go to make renewables possible"

Now you might think that Alice is a lobbyist from the oil industry writing something like that. That doesn't seem to be the case when you read on. A lot of Alice's calculations are what science, with a slightly derogatory term, would call "back of an envelope calculations". However, most of science starts out with an idea popping up in someones mind, and a quick calculation on an envelope or a napkin somewhere. Alice is mostly concerned about the US, but she has solid references on what she states. From the article on energy storage:

"Using data from the Department of Energy energy storage handbook, I calculated that the cost of NaS batteries capable of storing 24 hours of electricity generation in the United States came to $40.77 trillion dollars, covered 923 square miles, and weighed in at a husky 450 million tons."

"Barnhart looked at how much material and energy it would take to make batteries that could store up to 12 hours of average daily world power demand, 25.3 TWh. Eighteen months of worldwide primary energy production would be needed to mine and manufacture these batteries, and material production limits were reached for many minerals even when energy storage devices got all of the world’s production (with zinc, sodium, and sulfur being the exceptions)."

When was the last time you heard a decision maker mention something like that?

NaS batteries is currently one of our best bids, when it comes to large scale energy storage from wind and solar. The main reason being that contrary to lithium, we have large amounts of sodium and sulfur. However, these batteries are not easy to deal with. They contain large amounts of pure sodium that has to be in a liquid state, meaning that they have to operate at temperatures above 300 deg C (572 deg F). They also burn from time to time.


From the article:

"In Japan, sodium-sulfur batteries at Mitsubishi Materials Corp.'s Tsukuba plant in Ibaraki prefecture caught on fire on Sept. 21. It took firefighters more than eight hours to control the blaze, and authorities declared it extinguished on Oct. 5.

NGK Insulators Ltd., the company that manufactured the energy storage system, said it is still investigating the incident's cause and has halted production of its sodium-sulfur cells, which are installed in 174 locations across six countries.

"Clearly, storing large amounts of energy is difficult from a physics standpoint; [the energy] would rather be somewhere else," said Paul Denholm, a senior energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory."

The article I linked to from the National Academy of Sciences concerning the thermodynamics of the biosphere is equally simplified as Alice's calculations. I think they are simplified for a reason. It is easy to get lost in science. It's complicated, but there are still simple facts that we all agree upon. Like gravity pulls or no nutrients means life is not possible. That goes for energy as well. No energy, no life.

That is what the article tells and then they do a very simplified calculation of the system, being overly optimistic (and stating that), coming to the result that with business as usual, even if we could eat all the biomass including the trees (we can't digest those), in a few decades we reach a point where even that won't be able to sustain the energy need of the human population for a year.

To change that we need a magician.
What about non chemical batteries?
 
What about non chemical batteries?
Which in particular? You can pump water up and heat stuff up? Or do you mean something different?

Water is only available on larger scales as seawater. We use a large part of the fresh water for irrigation, and a lot of humans lack water already.

Heat is a very inefficient form of energy storage, and therefore it demands a much higher energy production for the storage. Note that the 18 month of global energy to build a large scale NaS battery does not include the energy needed elsewhere, and it doesn't include the energy needed for windmills or solar cells.

Also, every time you convert one type of energy into another type, you loose some. Electricity is basically electrons. These are best stored as electrons, meaning chemically in a battery.

Edit: Today I read a "sensational" story about an asteroid with a 1/7299 chance of hitting Earth? What about worrying about the actual future, and the fact that there is no Bruce Willis in a spaceship to save the planet, and no plan?

I've personally seen one of these. Space junk is rather common:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcsJ6e8S5lA
 
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Which in particular? You can pump water up and heat stuff up? Or do you mean something different?

Water is only available on larger scales as seawater. We use a large part of the fresh water for irrigation, and a lot of humans lack water already.

Heat is a very inefficient form of energy storage, and therefore it demands a much higher energy production for the storage. Note that the 18 month of global energy to build a large scale NaS battery does not include the energy needed elsewhere, and it doesn't include the energy needed for windmills or solar cells.

Also, every time you convert one type of energy into another type, you loose some. Electricity is basically electrons. These are best stored as electrons, meaning chemically in a battery.
I know every energy transfer implicates a net loss (second law of thermodinamics) but is it too great of a loss to be considered unviable?
 
I know every energy transfer implicates a net loss (second law of thermodinamics) but is it too great of a loss to be considered unviable?
If you look at the numbers for a chemical battery solution it seems pretty non-realizable. Then add the net loss. What is your gut feeling about whether that would work?

I know that there is no single solution, but there are problems that we can single out. Energy storage being one of those we still don't have a solution to.

I've had a pretty salty feeling today when I saw people driving around the city in huge SUV's and I'm a petrolhead...
 
As i was saying, any individual studying the topic can come up with 'easy' to reach negative conclusions (and let's be generous and say there are no bias behind that work). What we need is actual solutions, so invest that study in that instead perhaps?

There is a whole political barrel of stuff around this and i've seen that energyskeptic site before (there was another someone suggested here from a young guy, with a similar 'message') and frankly i am just not willing to bet humanities future on individual website authors as there is just so much potential for misinformation, or information 'leaning' in, usually, a specific direction (that often ends up being 'we need to burn our fossil fuels'). Just to get that out there.

And we covered a few topics in this thread like Morbad mentions above, alternative (and functional) methods of energy storage that does not have to be chemical. Often it is incredibly simple 'technology' like converting old vertical mine shafts into pulley mechanisms etc. There are certainly lots of options out there we could focus on if the chemical battery situation is the biggest stumbling block for mass renewable energy roll-out.

---------------

So pesticides and the Big Oil industry are very closely aligned and part of the BIG problems we face today, and these were interesting articles around that issue:

'UK accused of 'silently eroding' EU pesticide rules in Brexit laws':


The UK has been accused of “silently eroding” key environmental and human health protections in the Brexit-inspired rush to convert thousands of pages of European Union pesticide policy into British law.

Despite government claims the process would be little more than a technical exercise, analysis by the University of Sussex’s UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has uncovered significant departures from EU regulations, including the removal of a blanket ban on hormone-disrupting chemicals, which are known to cause adverse health effects such as cancer, birth defects and immune disorders.

The UK legislation removes the EU system of checks and balances to give a handful of ministers the power to create, amend and revoke pesticide legislation. It also appears to weaken the existing “precautionary principle” approach, which requires scientific evidence from an independent body that a pesticide is safe to use. Instead, UK ministers are given the option to obtain and consider such evidence at their own discretion.
That bolded part is very interesting imho, as to digress slightly into murky 'politics', i have a working theory it is the USA that has been the biggest driver of Brexit, and that 'ideology' would fit very well in that particular theory (and the actual strategy of reducing controls on pesticides in general). Anyway just an interesting snippet on a rather negative (fur us and UK wildlife) prospect.

And also we have this from Brazil:

'Hundreds of new pesticides approved in Brazil under Bolsonaro':


Brazil has approved hundreds of new pesticide products since its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took power in January, and more than 1,000 since 2016, a study has found. Many of those approved are banned in Europe.

Of 169 new pesticides sanctioned up to 21 May this year, 78 contain active ingredients classified as highly hazardous by the Pesticide Action Network and 24 contain active ingredients banned in the EU, according to the study published on Wednesday by Greenpeace UK’s news agency Unearthed. Another 28 pesticides not included in the report were approved in the last days of 2018.

“It really appears that they have accelerated their approvals process,” said Prof David Eastmond, a toxicologist at the University of California, Riverside. “Some of these are highly hazardous and this raises concern.”
So while many of us are trying our best to 'do their bit' in relation of ecological damage, the 'usual' parties are pushing full on for doing as much damage as they possibly can while they are in power. These are all things we need to be concerned about on the global level imho.
 
Yesterday the French Prime Minister said: "France must accelerate its ecological transition".

The same day Aurélien Barrau, astronomer, physicist, university professor, cosmologist, philosopher, poet, astrophysicist replied:

"What the Prime Minister says does not make sense! Accelerate is a lie because France has not even started its ecological transition."

Indeed, in 2018 the country has increased its CO2 emissions ... :D
 
@Zak Gordon
It's not that we disagree on the problems, and I know how to check my sources.

The thing is that the problems are bigger than anything humanity has ever faced before, and they are coming at us faster than ever before. The politicians act on the information they get. They are rarely scientist themselves. So when a politician like May leaving office says that the UK will be carbon free in 2050, that's an easy promise I have heard a gazilion times before. The IPCC has existed for more than 30 years and absolutely nothing has happened other than talk-talk...

The more I dig into to this, the more it becomes clear that no one has a plan that would work on a global scale. I have used a lot of time to try and find that, but it's all just intentions with no real science behind it. I can easily promise that we all fly to another planet, but it would be obvious to anyone that it would be a false promise. When a politician say sustainable or renewable, we all know that the situation is bad, and we are being taught to recycle our waste and so on, so everybody believe there must be a plan.

Well, there isn't. You might not believe me, but then it should be easy to point me to a plan. Surely there must be more than one. You won't find it at EU, US, China, UN or where ever you search. Is it secret? Probably not. They just don't have it.

That puzzled me at one time, until I started doing the math, and realized that the model is extremely complicated, and therefore easy to argue against. More importantly, you don't need to do many back of the envelope calculations to prove that it is impossible, if you use some basic laws of nature, that can't be broken.

It's easy to get fascinated by technology. I personally love technology, but think about the giant flywheels. They can store energy alright, and without bearings and friction momentum would be "saved". Then think again. We are 7.8 billion people. That's an astonishing large number no human can wrap their mind around. Instead you HAVE to start calculating any proposed solution on a global scale. What material is supposed to be used for the magnets? Do we have enough of the elements needed for that. How much energy would be needed for the vacuum?

A windmill is nice. But it takes a load of materials (and energy) to build one. Tons of copper for one unit, to name one of the obvious. We are running out of copper. Quickly. We have a lot of it stored in electric wiring, so we could use that, and live very close to the mills, or what?

I'm beyond the point where I apologize for my pessimistic prognosis until someone can show me a plan with numbers. Especially when everybody, presented with simple facts look the other way and changes the subject. It's not that I really blame most of them. This is tough stuff, and at the end waits mother nature with her giant iron fist. Who want's to think about that?
 
@Zak Gordon
It's not that we disagree on the problems, and I know how to check my sources.

The thing is that the problems are bigger than anything humanity has ever faced before, and they are coming at us faster than ever before. The politicians act on the information they get. They are rarely scientist themselves. So when a politician like May leaving office says that the UK will be carbon free in 2050, that's an easy promise I have heard a gazilion times before. The IPCC has existed for more than 30 years and absolutely nothing has happened other than talk-talk...

The more I dig into to this, the more it becomes clear that no one has a plan that would work on a global scale. I have used a lot of time to try and find that, but it's all just intentions with no real science behind it. I can easily promise that we all fly to another planet, but it would be obvious to anyone that it would be a false promise. When a politician say sustainable or renewable, we all know that the situation is bad, and we are being taught to recycle our waste and so on, so everybody believe there must be a plan.

Well, there isn't. You might not believe me, but then it should be easy to point me to a plan. Surely there must be more than one. You won't find it at EU, US, China, UN or where ever you search. Is it secret? Probably not. They just don't have it.

That puzzled me at one time, until I started doing the math, and realized that the model is extremely complicated, and therefore easy to argue against. More importantly, you don't need to do many back of the envelope calculations to prove that it is impossible, if you use some basic laws of nature, that can't be broken.

It's easy to get fascinated by technology. I personally love technology, but think about the giant flywheels. They can store energy alright, and without bearings and friction momentum would be "saved". Then think again. We are 7.8 billion people. That's an astonishing large number no human can wrap their mind around. Instead you HAVE to start calculating any proposed solution on a global scale. What material is supposed to be used for the magnets? Do we have enough of the elements needed for that. How much energy would be needed for the vacuum?

A windmill is nice. But it takes a load of materials (and energy) to build one. Tons of copper for one unit, to name one of the obvious. We are running out of copper. Quickly. We have a lot of it stored in electric wiring, so we could use that, and live very close to the mills, or what?

I'm beyond the point where I apologize for my pessimistic prognosis until someone can show me a plan with numbers. Especially when everybody, presented with simple facts look the other way and changes the subject. It's not that I really blame most of them. This is tough stuff, and at the end waits mother nature with her giant iron fist. Who want's to think about that?
You are right.

Aurélien Barrau yesterday also said that the governments have no plan because the scale of the challenge is huge and complex and that these people think only of the economy, productivity, consumption.

They have not yet understood that it is a lifestyle change that is essential for the survival of our species and other species on the planet.
 
As I wrote earlier, we have used the energy stored over many millions of years to boost the system, making it capable of sustaining life for billions. We have roughly used half of that energy in 200 years, with an exponential growth in the consumption. This correlates with the population rising exponentially. When we run out of energy, the system will collapse.

The only realistic solution is to stop using fossil energy like we do and use every remaining drop of oil to transition into a more sustainable planet. That would cause a lot of starvation on the way, and nobody dares suggest that (starvation=social unrest), but it would be our only realistic plan, and it wouldn't save all of us.

However, let's do another simple calculation. Right now, ~55 million people die every year, so in a decade that means half a billion. If we stopped having kids (we won't), then by the end of the century the population would be 4 billion and very old. At that time the fossil energy will be far gone and the biosphere will be able to deliver energy for human metabolism for somewhere around one million. How is that supposed to work?
 
"Julian Simon was a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a professor of business and economics. In his book The Ultimate Resource 2 (first printed in 1981 and reprinted in 1998), he extensively criticizes the notion of "peak resources", and uses copper as one example. He argues that, even though "peak copper" has been a persistent scare since the early 20th century, "known reserves" grew at a rate that outpaced demand, and the price of copper was not rising but falling over the long run. For example, even though world production of copper in 1950 was only one-eighth of what it was in early-2000s, known reserves were also much lower at the time – around 100 million metric tons – making it appear that the world would run out of copper in 40 to 50 years at most."

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This guy obviously knew nothing about physics, and he might have been an economist, but he hadn't understood the logistic function, and he surely hadn't understood Hubbert's peak theory. You have to understand basic calculus to do that, but it's not that complicated. When you start extracting any non-renewable resource, the production will be low in the beginning, accelerate, and finally reach a point where all of the resource is gone. The curve shows the accumulated extraction, and 1 is 100%:

134580


If you take the derivative of the logistic function, you get the Hubbert peak curve:

134581


The red curve shows the yearly production. Most economists agree upon the logistic function, but they think the market can solve the Hubbert curve. IT IS THE SAME. It's just two different ways of showing the logistic function, but the Hubbert curve doesn't leave room for a never ending exponential growth in the economy. Maybe that is what blurs their minds.
 
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The only realistic solution is to stop using fossil energy like we do and use every remaining drop of oil to transition into a more sustainable planet. That would cause a lot of starvation on the way, and nobody dares suggest that (starvation=social unrest), but it would be our only realistic plan, and it wouldn't save all of us.
i think the realistic plan already assumes this to be inevitable, so letting all those people die from environmental consequences or starvation (if we really run out of oil soon enough) while either waving the issue away or just faking concernment is pretty convenient. unless something fundamentally changes they will die anyway, so why take responsibility instead of blaming it on our collective behavior, on forces of nature or even on gods will (i wouldn't be surprised god is again a thing by then). in the end this is just based on the hope that they will be in the portion of those 'saved'. which is likely, but many one will get a nasty surprise ...
 
The other day I did another "back of the envelope calculation". Moore's law states an exponential growth in the number of bits being flipped. This goes for the internet as well. At the same time the energy used per bit has dropped exponentially. So do those two cancel each other out? Nope. The amount of energy spent in total still increases exponentially with a lower rate (doubling time). So how bad is it? Let's be very optimistic and assume that we currently spend 1% of the global energy consumption on IT. Then we will have to use 100% of the energy we use, just to run the internet in roughly 30 years. I didn't save my calculation, but try and do the math yourselves. It's easy to do using a spreadsheet, and using Google to find the numbers needed.

The argument against that is that Moore's law can't continue. So far it does:

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Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) once said:

"We do not want to live in a retrograde world. We do not want to live on an Earth where we should freeze population growth and reduce the use of energy. We enjoy an extraordinary civilization, fueled by energy, and by the population. [...] We want the population to continue growing on this planet. We want to continue using more energy per person."

Amen 😇
 
Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon) once said:

"We do not want to live in a retrograde world. We do not want to live on an Earth where we should freeze population growth and reduce the use of energy. We enjoy an extraordinary civilization, fueled by energy, and by the population. [...] We want the population to continue growing on this planet. We want to continue using more energy per person."

Amen 😇
That means more customer's for him, so that makes sense.
 
The argument against that is that Moore's law can't continue.
The better argument against that is that using 100% of energy generation for computers is impossible, because you need at least some of that energy for other things and there is going to be a point well before that where it's not practical.

Also, Moore's Law isn't even applicable to this argument because increased transistor density increases efficiency and is thus a mitigating factor on the energy required by IT, not a contributory one. IT's energy fraction would be higher if Moore's Law came to an end, because demand would still be increasing, but capacity would grow more slowly and power consumption would scale nearly linearly with it.
 
The better argument against that is that using 100% of energy generation for computers is impossible, because you need at least some of that energy for other things and there is going to be a point well before that where it's not practical.

Also, Moore's Law isn't even applicable to this argument because increased transistor density increases efficiency and is thus a mitigating factor on the energy required by IT, not a contributory one. IT's energy fraction would be higher if Moore's Law came to an end, because demand would still be increasing, but capacity would grow more slowly and power consumption would scale nearly linearly with it.
My point was that you rarely hear anyone saying that with the current development in bits flipped worldwide and more efficient chips, we still reach an unrealistic IT power consumption in a few decades. Whenever you have something that develops exponentially, once the curve goes vertical it goes crazy.

Here on Earth, population, energy consumption, economy, meat production, resource extraction, pollution and much more has roughly grown exponentially for many years. It is because the curves are getting steep now that it is difficult to comprehend the current and future growth rate for many people. It's basically what Bartlett said. When you have an exponential growth the like Moore's law, this means that the amount of bits flipped the next two years (the doubling time) will be equal to all the bits that has been flipped from the birth of the computer until today.

The doubling time in general for the development of the Earth system is more than two years, but the effect is still the same. When the curve becomes steep, it becomes difficult to understand. Any exponential growth seems pretty linear when you look towards the past, but towards the future it looks like a wall.

Edit: One of the frightening things about this is that this pattern resembles the growth curve of a microorganism in a Petri dish. That is also a closed system with limited resources, and it doesn't end well for the microorganisms unless someone adds more resources. We claim to be an intelligent species... :)
 
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