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elchololoco wrote (edited )

Oh, you sweet, sweet summer child.

I feel bad telling you this, in the same way I would feel bad telling my little nephews that Santa Claus isn't real (and for roughly the same reasons), but that is not going to happen. The only reason we've been able to do so much damage to the planet in the first place is because we burned through a quarter-billion years of stored sunlight in the span of about two centuries. Now that the majority of those reserves (and almost all of the easy-to-access ones) are depleted, we simply do not have access to the amount of energy required to undo what we've done. There are hard physical limitations on what human beings can accomplish, and we have only been able to circumvent past limitations by burning nonrenewable fossil fuels. Now that we are running out of fossil fuels, those limitations are returning. Better get used to that idea.

The planet will survive what we've done. Our species will probably survive, but in significantly fewer numbers, and at a level of technology which is limited by the amount of sunlight currently irradiating the planet.

Our civilization--whether sadly or mercifully, depending on your perspective--will not.


Chomskyist wrote

But we can just switch to renewable energy can't we? The only reason we haven't yet is because of corporate lobbying.


elchololoco wrote (edited )

This kind of thinking is called "cornucopianism".

"They'll think of something. They have to."

They don't have to.

You would do well to familiarize yourself with a concept called EROEI, "Energy Return On Energy Invested". Modern industrial civilization requires an EROEI ratio of ~10+:1 to maintain itself. "Light sweet crude"--that most delicious of oil--nets you about 300:1. Fracked oil can do you for about 30:1. Solar and wind can get up to maybe 7:1 or 8:1 if you build them right. Let me explain what this means in practice.

Solar panels require exotic minerals to construct. These minerals have to be mined--using fossil fuels--refined--using fossil fuels--transported to the production site--using fossil fuels--built--using fossil fuels--transported to the site where they will be used--using fossil fuels--and installed--using fossil fuels.

This same principle holds true for every other exotic technology that people put their faith in.

The only way to win is by conservation, but the fact that the first two syllables of that word will send liberals into a screeching berzerker rage makes it a non-starter. Thus, modern hypercapitalism is doomed. It's better this way.


notanaccout wrote

What's the eroei of fusion power?


elchololoco wrote

It's a negative number. Fusion reactors run at a loss.

Or did you mean the completely hypothetical reactors that have been "just 20 years away, guys!" for the past 50 years? The ones that require a functioning high-technological industrial base to construct? Hard to say on that one, but at the rate we're going, I don't think we're gonna make it.

In summary, fusion power ain't gonna save us. If we'd started 40 years ago and put Manhattan Project levels of effort into it (instead of trying to kill each other), then maybe we'd have had a chance, but not as we currently stand. Try again.