Effect Measure

Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States and the only one not to be elected as either President of Vice President, isn’t even in the ground yet but some of him is being resurrected. Over at Gristmill Dave Roberts has an excellent piece on Ford’s 1975 State of the Union speech (complete with a long excerpt of the relevant part) where the former President worried over the country’s loss of energy independence.

In it he noted that America’s surplus oil — and its attendant ability to stabilize world oil prices and prevent the emergence of a petroleum cartel — had vanished in 1970; we had become net importers of oil. He worried about our loss of energy independence and recommended a crash course in energy production.

You will recall that President Carter took those concerns seriously and put in place programs to address them.

But the cartel that formed after we lost our energy independence, OPEC, quite enjoyed our dependence. Rather than use it to hurt us, it plied the world market with cheap oil, upon which floated enormous U.S. prosperity. Ronald Reagan abandoned all pretense of fighting for energy independence and instead cruised on cheap-oil-driven economic growth to “Morning in America.”

Reagan’s decision to suck at the teat of OPEC, and offer political obeisance in return, was driven by many things, not least political expedience, but high among them was the realization that cheap oil prosperity could help us expand our military and weaponry and spend the Soviet Union into the dirt. (Dave Roberts, Gristmill)

Aside from the thorny question raised in the last paragraph as to who lost The Cold War first and why, the consequences are all too evident:

An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.

“It really is incredible,” said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. “It’s like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.”

The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000- to 4,500-year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.

It broke up 16 months ago, but no one was present to see it. The scientists say they are only now making public details after piecing together what occurred using seismic monitors and Canadian and U.S. satellites.

They say the ice shelf collapse, suspected to have been caused by global warming, is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation under way on Ellesmere, Canada’s most northern land mass.

“We are seeing incredible changes,” said Vincent, whose group is studying the island’s disappearing ice shelves and their unique ecosystems. “People talk of endangered animals – well, these are endangered landscape features and we’re losing them.”

The Ayles ice shelf was one of six ice shelves left in Canada, remnants of a vast icy fringe that used to cover the top end of Ellesmere.

Scientists consider the Canadian shelves, located about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole, sentinels that reflect the accelerating change in the Arctic.

In 2002, one of Vincent’s graduate students, Derek Mueller, discovered that Ellesmere’s Ward Hunt ice shelf had cracked in half. The researchers have also seen the sudden collapse of ice dams and the draining of 30-kilometre-long lakes into the sea. (Montreal Gazette)

This is only a bit of this article, which is scary as hell. The connection to Ford, Reagan and the Bushes, however, is in how they used cheap oil, offered to keep us dependent, to keep prices down and business and the military in the pink. Now that we are fully addicted, we are forced to more drilling, more fossil fuels, deregulation of natural gas and more of everything because we didn’t invest in alternatives and conservation to the extent needed.

Instead of quoting Gerald Ford’s State of the Union (which you can see at the Gristmill post), I’ll go to that other sage of the sixties, Tom Lehrer, in his song, The Old Dope Peddler:

The Old Dope Peddler by Tom Lehrer

When the shades of night are falling,
Comes a fellow ev’ryone knows,
It’s the old dope peddler,
Spreading joy wherever he goes.
Ev’ry evening you will find him,
Around our neighborhood.
It’s the old dope peddler
Doing well by doing good.

He gives the kids free samples,
Because he knows full well
That today’s young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow’s clientele.
Here’s a cure for all your troubles,
Here’s an end to all distress.
It’s the old dope peddler
With his powdered ha-happiness.

OPEC, Exxon, Shell, Conoco, BP, etc. Doing well by doing good.


  1. #1 K
    December 29, 2006

    Imagine that you invest a dollar and get a return of $100. One could live a very very good life on that. Imagine your investments now only get $10 to each invested. Still pretty good but the good life won’t be quite so good. Now imagine your return on your investment sinks to returning $1.50 for each dollar invested. Guess you are going to have to cut way back.

    That is what ERoEI is for energy resources – the amount of energy returned for energy invested. When we were hitting gushers in OK and TX ERoEI was 100 to 1. Now oil, becoming harder to get is about 10 to 1. The alternatives – wind, solar, biofuel are all less. In fact Dr. Pimental of Cornell Univ says that ethanol is a negative return – it takes more energy to make it than it returns. Obviously the good life of high ERoEI energy resources is coming to an end. Further one has to calculate the ERoEI of such sources as Oil sands to know how much you really have – if the ERoEI is 2 a trillion barrels of oil in oil sands will only net you 500 billion. If the ERoEI is 1.5 then you net about 250 billion barrels – or less than 10 years of oil for the world at current usage.

    Not only is the ERoEI of oil going down, we have probably peaked production – ie we will never produce more in any future year than we did this year – add to that the fact that discovery has long ago peaked – we find less and less new fields.

    The end of the age of cheap oil is here – nothing short of some miracle (like finding the corner that fusion has been hiding around for years) will change that. If the world doesn’t start conserving NOW a crash is inevitable. The alternatives will not “save” us.

    The boys in the White House all know this. They are pursuing a Last Man Standing program – get all we can and cut everyone else out.

    A good primer on Peak Oil can be found at
    Much of the work on when Peak will come was done by M. King Hubbert who correctly predicted Peak in the lower 48 states. His work is being continued by retired oil geologists – some have founded the Assocation for the Study of Peak Oil http://www.peakoil.net/

    If H5N1 doesn’t cull the human population way back we are in for one rocky ride down the other side of the oil curve.

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 29, 2006

    So Revere you hit it on the head. When the last drop of oil comes out of the ground on the last day of the oil as energy era, they will drop the first viable hydrogen this or alternative fuel that on us. Its called business and anyone who thinks its anything other than that is nuts.

    So a 4500 year old chunk of ice fell off into the sea. Big deal. If global warming starts killing customers it will force them to go to alternatives more quickly. But it is a 4500 year old chunk. So whats that mean? It was warmer 4501 years ago for sure, ice forms at 32 deg. So it means its cyclical or there was a massive explosion of volcanoes, or a meteor, asteroid or comet hit the earth. We were around before and after that event too. No scientist will step out on the limb and directly say its caused by us. They just cant say it without proof. The Earth IS warming, but we are also about 60,000 miles closer to the sun than we were 300 years ago as the elliptical orbit we were on starts to tighten into a more circular one in the orbit decay. We are moving towards perigee. Two hundred thousand years from now this place will be an ice box as we go to the apogee.

    So far, the science that I have read says they can account for one degree average in the ocean which is the heat sink of the world. Its also the carbon sink via plankton. No one knows definitively where we are going with this. I certainly dont but Revere if you are right it wont matter anyway. We will develop a third lung or something to pull more air in or enlarged chests to accomodate a larger set of lungs. We adapt or we die. We cant make the shift unless there is is a reason. They will when we start to change, drop the price of oil to near zilch to prevent us from doing it.

    This will set MIH off but it is the nature of this beast called humanity. We are a virus with a brain and that virus says keep eating,.mutating, creating those by-products (carbons, poisons, toxic this and that) and eventually when all the resources are gone, so will we be.

    Happy New Year Revere

  3. #3 bar
    December 30, 2006

    OK, so increasing the CO2 content of the air possibly has health implications. Plus I am old enough to remember that we used to have white sunrises and only the occasional red sunset (during bushfires or duststorms). Esthetically, I do not like pollution, and would (if I was world dictator) stop all air travel excepting medical emergencies. Incidentally, that would slow down the spread of the looming H5N1 epidemic.

    However even if we stopped adding CO2 to the atmosphere today, the problem would not go away. And need I discuss the impossibility of stopping CO2 production?

    Instead, we should all think outside the box. There are at least two areas of research that I can think of that might mitigate or eliminate the mooted problems.

    1) Develop an efficient biological mechanism that eats CO2 and other waste products. Plants using chlorophyll already eat CO2, but some forms of chlorophyll are more efficient. Lets hurry evolution along by developing more efficient plankton.
    2) A scientist in Arizona suggested mirror satellites in the sky. From memory, he claimed the satellites would cost about a trillion dollars (i.e. about one year of US defence budget) to install. Imagine, with such a system farmers could request rain or sunshine, no more drought, the Colorado dam always full, the Sahara a land of green, Siberia & Canada would become huge farms or wildlife refuges, maybe we could even settle Antarctica.

    In March 2005 I published a web page on ecology that attempted to predict the effect of global warming on our planet’s climate, and included calculations that indicate that world oil resources would be exhausted by 2042 (no growth) or 2032 (~3% growth in usage). If that calculation is correct then we will have to stop using oil for manufacturing petrol in ~25 years (assuming a major disaster like H5N1 with ~75% fatality rate or WWIII does not intervene.) Of course coal, shale, or tar could be processed into petrol, but by then I anticipate that photoelectric technology and storage cells will have been developed to the point that use of fossil fuels for energy production would be an expensive anachronism.

  4. #4 peggy
    December 30, 2006

    Revere, Why are hearing about the ice shelf breaking off 16 months after the fact? Shouldn’t that have been news when it happened?

  5. #5 revere
    December 30, 2006

    peggy: It would have been if anyone had been there to see it. It wasn’t discovered for 16 months.

  6. #6 K
    December 30, 2006

    Ah yes, someone will come up with a super efficient solar cell and we will all run on electricity – and with that we will power our electric cars and hydrogen cars – of course seeing how much problem they are having with the weight of the hydrogen tanks and batteries it becomes difficult to imagine hydrogen powered earth movers and electric powered 18 wheelers. Anyway all that sunlight is not doing nothing. It is growing our food, warming the earth and powering our weather. Sure with global warming it might be good to appropriate some of the warmth from the sun. But to get all the energy we are used to using we would begin to encroach on photosynthesis – just as using corn for ethanol is going to encroach on food for livestock and humans. Price of corn is up about 20% already at the feed store. No, I am afraid that when the very special and high energy gift of ancient stored sunlight in the form of coal and oil and gas is gone modern industrial civilization goes as well. Since previous ages used up ancient stored sunlight in old growth forests and top soil it is likely that the world will not be able to sustain even the numbers that lived during the middle ages.

    We keep solving ourselves into new problems but think that there are endless solutions out there. If there is a solution to the end of the age of oil scientists better start working much harder to find it because they don’t have much time.

  7. #7 TimB
    December 30, 2006

    Mr Kruger, You said “We are a virus with a brain and that virus says keep eating, mutating, creating those by-products (carbons, poisons, toxic this and that) and eventually when all the resources are gone, so will we be.”

    My brain is telling me that we need to start concerving our resources, stop polluting our environment and start cutting back on emissions of green house gases for us humans to survive. It seems that alot of other Democrats are saying the same thing. I think you’re talking about a Republican virus not a human virus.

  8. #8 bar
    December 30, 2006


    At the equator, sun power available ~ 1KW/M^2. So at latitude 45 deg (allowing for thicker atmosphere) should be at least 650 watts/m^2. Current peak efficiency of solar cells is over 30% so you could obtain around 200 watts/M^2

    So a house of 100 square meters with 6 hours of usable sunlight per day could generate about 120KWH each day.

    That is more than enough to keep your computer functional. Check your latest utilities bill for an idea of just how much energy you use each day. We use about 35 KWH per day, with no heating or cooling, gas hot water.

    By my rough calculation, (taking efficiencies into account) 10 KWH would take a car about the same distance as a gallon of petrol.

  9. #9 K
    December 30, 2006

    bar, I am not talking about what it takes to power a house. I am talking about what it takes to run a modern industrial society. We forget so easily how globalized we have become. What minerals are needed to make solar panels? Where do they come from, how do they get transported to a factory and then a home or industry? Copper is no longer mined as a mineral but rather processed out of copper sands – can solar panels provide the power to do that so we can continue to get copper to wire our houses? Can we ship things from other countries in solar powered, or hydrogen powered ships? Will solar power be able to run the factories that make nitrogen fertilizer or the heavy equipment that mines phosphate fertilizer? Can we smelt steel with solar power? Kathy

  10. #10 bar
    December 30, 2006

    From the CIA factbook the USA used 3.656 trillion KWH p/a in 2003. That works out to 33 KWH per capita per day.

    (In case you wondered how our household averaged 35 KWH/day, our home has 3 adults and 2 children:)

    So the average home could probably export power back into the grid.

    As for industrial transportation & excavation. Those new age, lightweight, super batteries I anticipate will be loadable into land vehicles, or perhaps recharged in ten minutes at the local filling station. Ships could employ a hybrid of solar & wind energy for power.

    You asked about resources. No resource is essential. There is most always an alternative. For instance, Aluminium is nearly as good a conductor as copper, and it is one of the commonest elements in the crust of the Earth.

    There is a plant called Sub-Clover. It has bacterial nodules on the root that “fix” Nitrogen from the atmosphere. If Nitrogen fertilizers become too expensive to manufacture, then perhaps those nodules could be persuaded to grow on other plants, or perhaps the farmer would have to grow sub-clover for a season.

    The production of steel requires a reducing chemical, and last time I looked, it was charcoal (from coal). Admittedly, smelting metals requires lots of heat, hence lots of electricity. The refining of Aluminium also requires lots of electricity. Perhaps the refineries & smelters of the future will be in places that have a lot of sunlight, which can be concentrated to produce heat, or can be used to produce electricity.

    The thing is, all of these discoveries are coming. Maybe we could hurry them along with an expeditious mix of taxes (on fossil fuels, agricultural nitrates & etc) and subsidies (on relevant research) and tax breaks (for capital expenditure on solar technology).

    Eventually the only economic use for carbonacious minerals may well be in the manufacture of plastics.

    The future of the world is rosy. Let us not choke it with punitive legislation made in fear.

  11. #11 K
    December 30, 2006

    bar, the future of the world is not rosy.

    Of course their are essential resources – lets start with fresh non saline water. Like oil, we have used the easy water first. Wells in such important food production areas as the midwest are having to go after a declining water resource requiring more power to do so.

    Iron may be abundant, but the iron ore we mine now has less and less iron in it making it more energy intensive to obtain. Aluminum may be abundant but it requires a lot of energy to obtain.

    Fertile soil has already been frittered away. Using it for ethanol will complete the job. Didn’t you know that Mesopotamia became a desert from over use. Greece cut down its trees to create the brass age and then eroded its top soil away.

    And while they can make an electric car it sacrifices size to counter the weight of the batteries. Even super effienct batteries ain’t gonna move an 18 wheeler or a dump truck.

    Life is rosy right now for the first world. It ain’t rosy for the 3 billion people who live on $2 a day or less. Pretty soon us first worlders will likely gain some empathy as our lifestyle declines. Back to my original point. Excess (net) energy has made our world rich. Solar will never give the 100 to 1 of oil gushers or even 10 to 1 that we currently get from oil. Even if it does fulfill the promise so many are hoping for, it will never support the life we have now. Oil, gas and coal was our inheritance of stored sunlight from the past. We blew it.

    The guys in charge of the US know this. They know that the alternatives will never do what oil did so they are out to get all that is left – after all the American way of life is non-negotiable eh. On the other hand the Sudanese, Iraqi, Somalian, Afganistan, Turkmenistan, etc way of life is negotiable to these folks.

  12. #12 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 31, 2006

    I am giddy with glee! Science at last. Univ of Neb at Lincoln has just revealed that the ice cap surged and receeded 50 times in the last 5 million years. That was determined from core samples. Uh, our little butts didnt show up until 50,000 or 5,000 years ago depending on the Bible, Quran, Intelligent Designer you speak too. I am sure we werent much beyone furry little guys in any case but it did it without the help of the creature called human. Sorry guys, the balloon just burst. Its not a vast Republican conspiracy after all. All they can scientifically say now is that it happens cyclically, and MAYBE we are affecting it slightly.

    Now the air is nasty and dont get me wrong but again power grids, cellphones, ELF, VHF, UHF in home wiring and the orbit of the sun could be causing this problem to exist. Dear AL Gore, gone by the wayside goes your Inconvenient Truth. But then again that yellow cloud coming out of the smokestacks cant be good for the health. So stay with the science and qut speculating that its all the Republicans and that only Republicans are fucking up the environment.

    In fact, there are just too many people. Wonder how many zooey microbes are locked up in the ice of the Arctic and Antartic. Buy stock in Big Pharma, likely something in there that smacked the last eminent species… Dino’s. Did bird flu kill the dinosaurs coordinated with a massive global hit from an asteroid/comet? Dunno but man proving half this stuff is going to give both sides ammo for years to come. Hell you can blame Nixon and Gerry Ford!

  13. #13 Lea
    December 31, 2006

    Happy New Year MRK.

  14. #14 bar
    December 31, 2006


    I feel a bit as though I stumbled into a beehive. And me not a bear:)

    OK. World future has some black spots. Mostly I worry about the moves towards total government in the USA. You guys are the hope of the future for liberty for everybody around the world, and you are spending the inheritance of Lincoln and others by abusing human rights and corrupting the political process to concentrate power in fewer hands. You are important because no other country in the world can stand if the USA decides to challenge that status.

    Next black spot is H5N1, then asteroids.

    Water: Australia is said to be the dryest continent, and most of Australia is currently suffering severe drought. I visited the Boulder dam in Nevada a couple of years ago. It was at an historic low. Rainfall is a world problem. The simplest solution that I can think of is weather control by mirror satellites (see my entry above). Ask any atmospheric scientist, and I believe that he would agree, if we control the energy reaching the surface, we can produce rain on demand. Apart from that, we might have to obtain water by desalination & purification.

    We actually do not need huge amounts of water. Water not for households is used to produce food. At the local shop I can buy hydroponic lettuce. Hydroponic food needs no pesticides or herbicides and a minimal amount of water. Why not grow all vegetables & fruit hydroponically?

    My father was an agricultural scientist. According to him, you can grow anything given sand, super(phosphate), sunlight & water. He spoke disparagingly of another scientist in the department who said he could produce humus from sand in three years. My father contended that it took at least ten years. (humus is the living topsoil, and it’s presence removes the necessity for the addition of super).

    We don’t need to grow ethanol. Instead use photocells to charge plugin batteries and use electric cars. I expect the batteries of the future to be light, energy dense and capable of extremely fast energy transfers. And yes, I expect that they would move an 18 wheeler, and with regenerative braking. If fast energy transfer batteries do not eventuate, we could always supplement with kinetic (flywheel) hybrid systems.

    WAL-MART and other US corporations are raising the living standard of the poorest people on Earth. If you want to help the poorest people in third world countries, the first step you should take is to write to your US congressman asking him/her to dismantle US agricultural and other tariffs. That way poor people will be able to earn the money to buy the water purifiers and medicines etc. that will improve their lives. If you try to disburse charity to those countries, it most likely will disappear into a morass of corruption.

    And no, I disagree. When economic solar cell technology and super batteries are developed, there will be a new power revolution, a bit like the internet explosion. People who own power station shares will end up using them for wallpaper. Of course the transmission line and hydro power station shares will be worth their weight in gold (or maybe emeralds). The multiplier will not be 10:1 or 100:1, but 1000:1.

    And allow me to correct you. The coal supplies still underground in the USA are sufficient to supply the USA’s total energy (coal + oil + natural gas + nuclear) requirements for over a century.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 31, 2006

    Bar-the coal is there but the energy required to take it out might just make it a no win situation. Oil sands at 65 bucks a barrel is more than economical to produce. Then we have solar cells. Yep and then we move to that and then what happens. Its an assumption that the sun will shine. What if you are wrong and the Ozone depletes, the Co2 continues to rise? Eeven if we dropped to nicads or something like it, there IS NOT enough metal on this entire planet to make the batteries and solar cells that are needed.

    We need new gizmo’s for sure but the idea of a car accident with a battery the size of my back seat coming into contact anode to cathode just doesnt appeal to me, even at low voltages. 2 volts and 10,000 amps is enough to light you up like a Xmas tree. Think not, go and get a freshly charge 12 volt with 1000 amps of cranking power rated on it and drop a jumper cable between the two. Nader and the Eco nerds will be going nuts. Nor will it work as they say on anything that will haul anything. The change over alone would cost biillions upon billions. Cars also would go from light to heavy. I am still waiting for something feasible and yes they will field very expensive cars in the green and yellow moves. Guess what ? They wont work and you will only get about 2 or 3 years between very expensive battery changes. Going to learn to coast a lot.

    Hi Lea. Hit me at memphisservices@bellsouth.net. I have something for you. Happy New Year.

    Dear Saddam – AMF

  16. #16 bar
    December 31, 2006

    Hello Randolph,

    Mining is not my forte. I mentioned coal only to show that carbonaceous minerals were not about to be exhausted.

    Instead I argue that some photocells are already 30% efficient. When production problems are overcome, photocell roof panels will reach a price per kilowatt at which consumers will find it economic to install photocell roof panels in their homes. They will then try to sell their surplus to the grid. The grid will gradually abandon purchases of the more expensive power supplied by coal power stations.

    Hydroelectric stations would be happy to buy cheap power when there is a surplus, and pump water uphill, if they could sell the power back more expensive when demand outstripped supply.

    As for transport. As oil depletes, oil’s price trend is upwards. Perhaps the road/rail cost of heavy transport will tilt, so that rail becomes cheaper than road.

    Alternatively I anticipate discovery of a cheap, light, safe, energy dense high current storage device, and that it will be in production before about 2015 – 2020. If not, then compressed hydrogen internal combustion engines would provide a less elegant but competitive alternative to diesel or petrol for transport. The Hydrogen being generated by the surplus electric power.

    Your assumption that the sun will not shine? So put the solar cells where the sun do shine. So maybe the homesteads in N Dakota need to buy power from Arizona in winter? That is what the Grid is for.

    Not enough silicon to make silicon crystal photo cells (which are currently 25% efficient, still rising)? You gotta be kiddin me.

    I don’t know what materials will be needed to manufacture the energy storage devices, because they haven’t been invented yet, but I suspect that a storage device will be found for which materials will not be a problem.

    btw, are you worried about travelling around in a petrol powered car with about 10 gallons of extremely combustible fluid sloshing around in a tank? Over here a lot of people are panicked about drinking recycled water. It’s pretty easy to scare people about new stuff.

  17. #17 AndyS
    December 31, 2006


    I think you’ve been reading way too much science fiction and have little or no experience with real-world engineering, politics, or business practice.

    “When economic solar cell technology and super batteries are developed, there will be a new power revolution,…” And with wings pigs would fly.

    Solar is great techonology but nothing like the pancea you are painting.

  18. #18 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 31, 2006

    Silicon is plentiful but its only one component of solar cells. Gallium Arsenide and other little crazy things that go into them Bar. Hey, I would be the first to go out and do it if it were feasible. It isnt so far. Gasoline fires you can put out, ever seen what happens when an airplane sized nicad explodes in the back of an airplane? It blows the back end out. Designed to do it as a matter of fact. Resides in a place called the Hell Hole. Why, because when that battery lights off it fills the compartment with hydrogen as it starts to die. Then as it does it builds heat until its high enough to melt the cells. Finally as a whizzer for New Years, it arcs and kaplooey there is an explosion that continues after the initial one. Yep, rush me down for that new fangled thing. Keep trying though. I’ll be waiting.

  19. #19 bar
    December 31, 2006

    guilty, NG, G, NG.

    Which prediction/fact do you not like?
    1) Oil is going to get more expensive.
    2) Solar cells are going to (within a decade) get cheap to the point where the electricity they generate will be cheaper (or as cheap as – economic forces at work!) than power from the grid.
    3) Power storage technology will improve to the point that (within a decade) it will cost a few hundred dollars a year to store 50 KWH of power at home.
    4) Hydrogen powered IC engines are already a reality. So are cars powered by electric motors.

    Now think like a consumer.

    If it was your option to install solar power roofing for (say) an extra $1,000 in your new house, and that roofing would generate all your power needs, plus a surplus that you could sell to the grid, would you invest that extra $1,000?

    If two cars were on offer. One uses petrol costing $5.00 per gallon. The other uses Hydrogen which is generated at home, or could be bought for the equivalent of $3.00/gallon at your local service station, which would you buy?

    No brainers huh? But be specific, which prediction don’t you like, and why?

    Admittedly, my prediction of cheap, power dense, high delivery, lightweight power storage devices is ambitious. Perhaps a timeframe of 20 years?

  20. #20 bar
    December 31, 2006

    There are several kinds of solar cell.

    The one I was thinking of uses Boron & something else as doping agents on silicon crystals. Not Gallium, not Arsenic.

    And I guess we wont be using Nicad batteries. Maybe somethin else?

  21. #21 bar
    December 31, 2006

    Randolph, sorry about the “P”.

  22. #22 Lea
    December 31, 2006

    Dont have the information available to back this up but still have it in the information cavity of the brain.

    Read several, several years ago that Tessler? or one of those geniuses was assassinated because they came up with a rod of some sort that worked off of the magnetic fields that exist on Earth. The rod would generate enough energy to keep the refrigerator going and who knows what else.

  23. #23 K
    January 1, 2007

    bar, if solar were to replace oil and natural gas it needs to replace not just the current electric use – it needs to replace the energy of gasoline, heating oil, airplane fuel, etc if it is to keep our western industrial civilization going. Further lots of infastructure needs to be replaced – our whole fleet of cars would be too heavy for electtric and would need to be replaced. So extra energy would be needed quickly for that. We could use the last of the oil to build trains for mass transport but if the past is a predictor of the future we won’t until its too late.

    re hydroponics – your food will never have anything in it that isn’t available to the plants – so if we want really healthy magnesium, selenium, trace minerals in our food it would have to be added to the water. One can grow food that looks OK but is severly lacking in those minerals that keep us healthy. At any rate we need the vast carbohydrates generated on the great plains of the US and elsewhere. Just imagine trying to do that with hydrophonics. Again more energy to build the infrastructure – and then new machines to harvest it somehow instead of the great huge threshing machines we now use. Suddenly thinking of running those on electricity comes to mind. No way.

    There are those who thnk that some Tessler technolgy is waiting in the wings -we shall see…They have started a big fusion project in Europe – perhaps they will turn that corner. But solar ain’t gonna do it.

    When we started buring fossil fuels we thought nothing of putting the waste gasses in the air. Whether they are causing global warming or not they have caused acid rain, and are NOT nice to breathe. We never anticipate what doing something in a big way might do. If we could plaster solar panels all over the world we might disrupt the weather in a big way. Experiments that big can only be tried once and often have unpleasant surprises for hubristic humans.

    Power down is what we need to do. Our forefathers had good lives living with less. All this stuff we have hasn’t made us happier IMO.

  24. #24 crfullmoon
    January 1, 2007

    Lea; Tesla? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

    What a world, what a world…

  25. #25 cougar
    January 1, 2007

    All the arguments above seem to start with the assumption that our current wasteful way of life should continue and that we must find a suitable energy source to back it up. Finally, K makes a good point: back down. We don’t need 3500 square foot and up homes, we don’t need giant SUV’s, we don’t NEED a lot of the energy-using products we have. From what I’ve seen, most of these are status symbols and nothing more. I’m not saying everyone should go back to living like pioneers (tho I for one intend to), but I would like to see a reversal of current trends that dictate bigger is better. Why not small homes and cars? During a discussion the other day, a fellow volunteer at the sanctuary told me he lived alone in a 2700 square foot home and couldn’t possibly downsize because then he wouldn’t have room for all his stuff. This kind of thinking is what got us into this mess in the first place. The energy crisis is just a symptom, the real problem is that our wants have gotten way out of hand.

  26. #26 M.Randolph Kruger
    January 1, 2007

    Respectifully Cougar you need to think a bit about this. Of course we dont NEED any of it as you say, but it is a lifestyle that provides jobs so that others may have a life style that they may be accustomed to such as eating a little lower down on the economic chain. Car parts from Mexico alone provide for 1/10th f the Mexican life style. Now because things are rising in costs there, they are moving to Honduras with the plants. Did they need to move and leave all the infrastructure? Nope, but it sure costs less there… Oh shit I hear Kyoto calling… Its Al “I own a ton of stock in BP” Gore on the phone.

    You make reference to “this kind f thinking” got us to where we are today is exactly on point. On the other hand its an assumption made that you are right, based upon another assumption. The entire planet would have to change to do what you suggest and to revert back to what you “think” is the right way to go. That if you follow it to its most logical common conclusionr would mean that we would have to move back into caves. Hell, we dont need no stinkin’ houses, we got this hole in the rock that the great sprit left for us. De-evolution. By the same logic we didnt NEED fire to warm us, but it ensured that we wouldnt get eaten by bears ad it provided light and a place to burn the funk off the inside of pelts. And we could sell it to other tribes. They just didnt call it Exxon back then.

    Man is an energy consumer across the board. If an SUV is a sin then I am a fully blown gone to hell type. Somewhere along the way the assumptions made seem to be that we are always doing wrong in some way and that we are polluting the sea, soil etc. So was gold mining where it left arsenic and cyanide in the water. But we did it, and if you have an ear ring, gold ring, turn on your tube or this here computer you are as guilty as the next guy. We might have clear and present dangers in our lives from what we are doing, but our brains got us out of the problems each time. Casualties along the way. My motto: Dont screw with bears unless you can run them down with your SUV.

  27. #27 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 1, 2007

    Oh vey! Bar, about that boron. Its one of the most toxic substances out there. Boron if inhaled will screw you up something fierce. Again my point… Make something and you always have a by product. About 95% bad even if its 5% good on the PR side.

    Kind of like recycling lead. The amount of sulfuric acid released into the atmosphere each year if concentrated all on one day from the recycling process would dissolve the entire city of Los Angeles down to the surface. So about those electric cars. Revere can ellucidate for days probably on the effects of cadmium on humans. That alone will smoke you. from some horrific cancers.

  28. #28 Lea
    January 1, 2007

    Yes, Nikola Tesla. Thanks for the correction. And the link to the wikipedia.
    Perhaps someone more savvy than I with the computer can find out more. If the time presents itsself Ill do some research too. I dont move too fast these days though; reflective contemplation, chores, and taking care of the bread winner take precedence over all else for now.

  29. #29 K
    January 1, 2007

    Lea, there are lots of folks out there in web land that think that Tesla was on to free unending power or some such thing – they think TPTB (the powers that be – take your pick of which ones) have the technology and will eventually produce it. You might not really want to look down this particular rabbit hole. I am an agnostic on the whole matter.

  30. #30 K
    January 1, 2007

    MRK, when the crash comes your SUV will still be useful – perhaps as a home. Perhaps as a solar food dryer.

    Do you really consume to support others that are getting trickle down from 1st world overconsumption? Would you stop consuming if there was no trickle down to those 3 billion unfortunates living on $2 a day or less?

    At least they know how to live without – first worlders are going to be totally unprepared when the oil production begins to slow.

  31. #31 bar
    January 1, 2007

    Cougar and Kath and Randolph

    I do not think of myself as advocating anything, but as predicting what will happen.

    Someone once said, when you have eliminated all the obvious, then whatever remains, no matter how unlikely, must be the solution.

    Twenty years from now, probably nobody but OPEC will have oil, and that oil is going to be in expensive. I would guess that petrol from oil might cost about $5 or $6 per gallon in today’s money. Alternative fuels manufactured from Coal, shale & tar will be just as, if not more expensive.

    I have earlier argued that the cost per KWH of work delivered by an IC (internal combustion) engine using natural or synthetic fuel will, by then, probably exceed the cost of photocell generated electric energy/work. Here is an abstract in which the Japanese plan PV (photovoltaic) electricity will, within a couple of decades, cost about 7 Yen (~ 7 cents) per KWH.. (For comparison: A gallon of petrol in a car produces around 10 KWH of work, so 70c would buy a quantity of electricity that would push the car as far as a gallon of Petrol.)

    Wind, waves, hydro & biofuels are limited in energy generation capacity. (As has been pointed out in various posts above). Even Nuclear is limited by Uranium supplies, which are limited. Forget Fusion. That has been promised as being a decade away since the 1950’s. All that is left is photoelectric, (PV) which is heavily researched and becoming cheaper. I did a calculation above that showed that about 100 square meters (say 1000 square feet) could, with existing technology, generate 120 KWH per day below latitude 45 degrees on a sunny day.

    US electricity use (including industry) was calculated above to be around 35KWH per capita. Oil use in the USA is about 20 million b/d, and from Wikipedia the equivalent energy of a barrel is 1,700 KWH, giving about 110 KWH energy equivalent per capita.( There will be some duplication here, some of that oil is probably used to generate electricity, and the refining of oil is energy intensive, so rather than add in gas fuel, I will assume those quantities approximately balance.)

    However internal combustion (heat) engines are only 30% (petrol) to 38% (Diesel) efficient at turning heat into work. (Heat engine efficiency is limited by the Carnot law.). Sizeable electric motors have efficiencies of over 90%. So if we could substitute electric power for liquid fuels in transport and other oil powered machinery, we would probably only need around 55 KWH per capita to do the same job as is currently done by 110KWH of oil.

    I see no reason why battery powered trucks should not travel interstate. It is just a matter of storage capacity and rate of power takoff. (lets call that option “A)”. If a lightweight, power dense, high power takeoff, cheap battery cannot be produced, we might have to use PV electricity to electrolyze water and use Hydrogen as a substitute for oil fuels. (Option “B”).

    I would love to see cars built lighter, houses built smaller, but somebody’s always gotta prove that his whatever is bigger by having the biggest SUV. (Apologies to MRK). So unless we can legislate otherwise, big cars and big houses will stay.

    Energy usage in the USA (including all infrastructure, excepting energy infrastructure) is between (55+45=) 100 KWH per capita (“A”) or about 150KWH per capita.(“B”).

    Option “A” would require about 80 square meters of PV roofing per capita, Option “B” would require around 125 square meters of PV roofing per capita.

    Personally, I am conservation minded. I think abusive thoughts at SUV’s, and already stated that, given the power, I would ban all aircraft except medical. However the elitists who rule us (I include Greenpeace, the Republicans & the Democrats, Wall street and the other usual suspects who fly everywhere) like flying around. So conservation is not going to happen, unless we can introduce a more responsive & equitable system of legislating at Federal government level. (something like the propositions system in California maybe?)

    So, to recapitulate, I anticipate the photoelectric society will come about without the intervention of politicians. It will be gradual, and due to a confluence of economic and technological factors.

    As for Hydroponics, As a follower of Atkins I agree that trace elements should be introduced into Hydroponic foods via the water, I also think that Carbohydrates are not as necessary a component of the diet as everyone seems to believe. However I expect that market forces will ensure the continuation of grain and beef on the table. Hydroponic and/or hothouse lettuce and tomato and Orchids can already be purchased. I expect that the list of foods grown hydroponically or in hothouses will grow, and would probably accelerate if somebody started advertising. I repeat that heavy farm machinery could work off option “A” electrical power, given a suitable battery, Failing that, by using an option “B” Hydrogen IC engine.

    I agree that the pollution in our atmosphere is very bad. During 9/11 the president stopped airplanes flying for two days, scientists claim that ambient temperature increased in those two days by 2 degrees. Longitudinal studies are reported in my archives that claim that pollution in the atmosphere reduces the sunlight falling on the USA by 10%. I do think the traces of stabilized boron (which I can currently buy at the local shop to kill ants) used to dope silicon crystal would not be as bad as the byproducts of oil.

    As for Kath’s worry that the presence of solar cells might affect the environment. Since the solar cells would be replacing roof sheeting, I really do not anticipate that they would in any way affect the weather. (well, not any more than our existing cities are affecting the weather.) Even if photoelectric power was a government project built specially in a desert in New Mexico or Arizona, it would only occupy an area about 110 miles square. (12,000 square miles).

  32. #32 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 1, 2007

    So bar your point is that all of this is viable and an option to the original pundit hit? Its not, the transmission of electricity is very difficult and the solar cells alone would screw up up the environment. No one knows what wide spread solar cell use would do except change one problem into another. They also go bad, disposal is a bitch I hear because of all of those elements used in them. Cant shred and bury, cant reclaim them. So some spotted owl or something will take a hit because it scares the shit out of them or something.

    No, environmentalists complain and justly so. But no one comes up with answers.

    K..I wouldnt delude myself by saying that. We ALL do that and there is and has been since the beginning of time a “1st” world as you put it. Prior to 1900, Europe was the first world with all of their battlewagons and then poof it all went to hell in a bucket when the first airplane was built and we sank one. Its a simple analogy but 2 dollars a day is probably right. It will be a lot less if we quit consuming. Carters BIG IDEA in the 70’s was to tax the shit out of gas and then foir a short period the economy was good as those taxes went into the giveaway pile. But then they spent more than they had and the interest rate went to 21% and the economy for all intents and purposes shut down. Now no one wanted or bought gasoline, time to borrow yet more money to keep the boat afloat.

    Each time someone comes up with this they INSIST its cheaper than the present form, INSIST this is the way to go, INSIST that we are all going to hell in a bucket if we dont. Well, okay the only thing I have seen different in modern cars is that they are really nothing more than computers with engines. Its not the cars any longer Bar and K, its manufacturing in lands that have no rules or regulations. Cut that off and the air would get cleaner in a week and be very nice within about 3 months.

    Look I have offered to send you a nice picture from Moppit and Modis. MIH got it months ago and like me when I saw it, she was stunned. We could turn off everything here and the Chinese would be making enough pollution for the entire planet. you want it just hit me at memphisservices@bellsouth.net. I am not a hardass that thinks that just because I think the Dems/Libs (elected ones anyway) are full of shit, that there are no answers. Shoot , just the opposite is more right. On the other hand if I see Al Gore running around with a bullshit movie that cites baseless or single fact information then I get a little pissed. There are lots of Republicans that are very green, I am one of them. But my SUV has passed every pollution inspecton so if someone tells me that I shouldnt should remember that I bought it with my money, pay for the gas with the same. If you had a 440 volt, 300,000 watt SUV that will do 80 on the freeway, not instantly blow up if damaged then maybe we can talk. Else you’ll just have to leave me to my devices. The assertion that I shouldnt live in a big house by someone else is that “well you are wrong” crap again. Who gives those people the mandate to even make that statement.? Are we to have the big house police now? How about the ice shelf police? How about the shrinking ozone layer? That alone should tell you its cyclical. CFC’s have been outlawed for 10 years and its still shrinking. Hmmm …. might it be because of the solar flares we have been experiencing. Oh shit, now here comes that science stuff again.

  33. #33 bar
    January 1, 2007


    I object to big SUVs because they block out too much of my view of the road when I am following and want to overtake. When they are parked on corners I can’t see oncoming traffic. The drivers of SUV’s are generally more reckless and overbearing in their driving because they feel (and are) safer in a crash with most other cars.

    As for houses, I UNRESERVEDLY withdraw my statement. You are quite right. Everyone is entitled to a house as big as s/he wants and can afford. Of course I believe (like Henry George, see Wiki) that most of our taxes ought to be collected on real estate and similar parts of the environment, (bandwidth etc) not on commerce or income.

    As for PV cells. You are not presenting facts, just prejudices. I could answer every one of them, but so could everyone else.

  34. #34 cougar
    January 2, 2007

    Randy, if I had my way, we’d all be living in small huts made of completely natural materials, using horses for transportation, growing all of our crops, and there’d be about 5 billion fewer human bodies on this planet to share the resources. No need to worry then about who’s getting paid to produce what wigit in what country. This is simply my idea of how we should be living; you have your own ideas of what’s right as does everyone else. My ideas are based on a core belief that human beings are no more important than any other animal in nature and we do not have the right to destroy nature and waste natural resources for our own personal pleasure. Go ahead and condemn me for that one, but don’t bother arguing with me about it. Might as well try to convince Revere there’s a God! May be a moot point anyway if H5N1 goes pandemic at a CFR over 50%, humans (at least those who survive) will be forced to change their ways whether they want to or not. And yes, I am still a consumer “sinner” too but I am trying to do better! 😉 BTW, I wear a feather in my ear and am probably one of the few women in this country that thinks diamonds and gold are stupid trinkets. Give me a good milking cow and I’d be happy!

  35. #35 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 2, 2007

    Same should apply for big cars Bar. Its up to someone else to be green with them if they can and so far they havent. I can remember the first “mileage” increase demanded by congress. It took 20 years after that before cars were worth a shit again. Turn it off, go into the store, come back and it was still out in the parking lot knocking and a pinging away. Gave rise to the throat fuel injection system. Did clean up the air a bit. See here is my rub. We cant do much more on the MPG. Its called volumetric efficiency. We really only smog up when the cars are idling and are more than about 5 years old. Now the Japs might have a good idea. Roadside inspections. If your car engine has grease on the outside, its sent to the dealership. Remember all that plastic coating on the engines? Its sermatel and its the same thing we use on aircraft engine blades. Its also the sealant from Hell so no oil. They wont let you pollute their water or streets over there.

    No China is a different story. MIH and I saw the same picture and drew the same conclusion. China is polluting the ENTIRE world with what they are emitting for the worst gas which is CO, rather than CO2. Fuck a bunch of greenhouse clouds, the air in China runs Carbon Monoxide all across the planet. Alaska gets the drift as does, Hawaii, California, and then on east. Our emissions in the winter only go up just slightly so we ARE doing what WE are supposed to. Those states and where I live gets a pot load of it from them too cant pass the clean air act in winter of each year. We keep trimming and they keep building. So a effing electric car wont do shit in California in the winter time for pollution. Whats next, outlawing existence? Seriously guys there isnt a thing we can do about it. except maybe bird flu to get it down to cougars, one cow and no gold and 1.5 billion souls across the board.

    Now no woofing here. Go get my nice little rice propelled friends in China to quit polluting and maybe we can do something about the air. Else quit saying America is to blame for air pollution and that we use too much and all of that other stuff. The Chinese are not Republicans, but they sure make contributions to Democrats now dont they? There is always a leader class and that may be shifting soon but not on my shift.

    Cougar your cow will die from heart disease just as a human will from CO poisoning. Arteriosclerosis is one of the major effects. One other thing is that I think that this is a much bigger threat than CO2 because where its being found is at the jet max level of about 35-45000 feet. This ensures everyone gets to bite the big one as it rolls across the planet. Revere can post it up too. He has a copy of it. Stunning picture actually.

  36. #36 bar
    January 2, 2007


    I couldn’t give a tinkers curse about pollution. Yes, CO and NOX is V. unhealthy. The pollution in the N Hemisphere is worst over Siberia, and second worst over Europe, and least over N. America. I suggest you come and live in Oz.

    Most of the pollution originating in the Northern Hemisphere doesn’t get to the Southern Hemisphere. Yes, I have seen the data on the Chinese burning coal. They are burning more coal than the USA. I have worked in a coal fired power station. Coal can be a v. dirty burn, specially if you don’t use precipitators.

    I hate SUV’s because they are big and bulky and a hazard to other road users. You are quite correct, the new ones almost certainly have a lower fuel consumption, and produce less NOX and CO pollution than a car half their weight and 20 years older.

    Listen to me. Read my lips. I am not suggesting that anyone should convert to electric cars. I am saying that it is inevitable that most people will be driving electric (or H2) powered cars in 20 years. Because they will be cheaper to operate. The world is running out of oil, the situation is not helped by having over two billion people in India and China all clamoring for the American way of life, like they see in Hollywood & Bollywood, and wanting to drive cars.

    With all those new buyers and a shrinking supply, I expect that the price of fuel is going to rise very much faster than inflation.

    Your government knows that cheap fuel is what keeps US citizens happy. Hell, look what happened in Cali when Grey tried to increase the tax on cars. That lesson is burned into their souls. IMO, Red or blue, they will apply political and military force all over the world to keep fuel cheap.

    I am not a Luddite. I just call the shots as I see them. I am definitely not a greenie. I consider that bunch of wankers (Greenpeace) to be far worse than used car salesmen, or real estate agents, or politicians. They deliberately tell lies to their gullible public so that they can get money to live the high life. On the other hand, I have met PETA people. They travel second class, and stay in backpacker hostels. We might disagree on detail, but I believe that they are genuine.

  37. #37 K
    January 2, 2007

    All – I know that China is a big polluter – they are trying to catch up to us in energy used per capita – just that they have more capita per square mile than we do. If we stopped buying all the stuff they produce they would loose their market and stop polluting. But the world is part of a ecconomic pyramid scheme that requires growth to work. Impossible now to get back to some sort of sustainable steady state ecconomy without a big crash. The ecconomic crash is as inevitable as the cheap oil crash…So hang on to you large houses – perhaps if you own it free and clear you can keep it and survive by renting rooms. Hang on to your SUV’s – if paid for they could be a house if your big house isn’t paid for and gets repossessed.

    We live in a fairy land that says life is good and collapse of the good life impossible. Science will always save us (unless we believe in a God who will save us) and life will be rosy and good forever.

    Of course death overtakes us all in the end. But I think the death of industrial civilization will hit before most of us have our own personal deaths. Saw a good cartoon recently. Woman sitting on a couch next to her husband – says to another woman – my husband is a fatalist – he believes he will grow old and die.

    PS to Bar – humans have to have carbohydrates – if not in the grains they eat, in the meat of animals that eat grains. It is the energy that powers the human machine. The 2006 world grain harvest was 1,984 million tons – try replace that with hydroponics. Unfortuantely global warming (whether natural or manmade) reduces grain production, overuse of soil reduces grain production, additional fertilizers are no longer increasing yeilds in many areas. The Green Revolution only succeeded in a temporary increase in food – since it wasn’t coupled with serious birth control it gave us an even bigger problem and more will starve in the end that if we had left well enough alone.

    “With carryover stocks of grain aft the lowest level in 34 years, the world may soon be facing high grain and oil prices at the same time (See Figure). For the scores of low-income countries that import both oil and grain, this prospect is a sobering one.

    The 2006 world grain harvest of 1,984 million tons, estimated by the USDA in its June crop report, is down 24 million tons from last year, or roughly one percent. It is down three percent from the historical high of 2,044 million tons produced in 2004.”

    PS to Bar – humans have to have carbohydrates – if not in the grains they eat, in the meat of animals that eat grains.

  38. #38 bar
    January 2, 2007

    1) I didn’t say gtain would be grown hydroponically. I said batteries or Hydrogen could fuel those big agricultural machines.
    2) Meat consistes of protein & fat. No carbohydrate whatsoever. Not a scrap.
    3) Atkins theory is that refined carbohydrates (i.e. those having a high glycemic index) cause instability in the glycose level in the blood. Low glycose in the blood is thought to be what makes people hungry. So in case you wondered, when a nation adopts high GI foods, then people of that nation start to gain unhealthy amounts of weight.
    4) I am glad to realize that somebody else has noted the connection between grain prices and fuel prices. If farmers have no fuel, then broadacre farming is dead. Hydroponics also needs fuel.
    5) I do not actually believe that anyone has shown that humans MUST have carbohydrates. Of course it would be very hard to find a diet that totally excludes them, but the eskimo in arctic circle quite possibly lived for months on a carb-free diet. I have lived for periods of close to a year on a grain free diet, just veg, fruit, meat & cheese.
    6) By leaving well enough alone, I suppose you mean witholding medicines and health know-how from Africa and Asia? Because that is the main reason why there are so many people in those places. If not withold medicines, could you please clarify just what we should or should not have done?
    7) Ever since Malthus there have been doomsayers who foresaw catastrophe, often from depletion or shortage of some essential item necessary for human survival, usually within a decade. Perhaps such people are essential, because they alert the creative, problem solving people among us of the potential structural problems with our civilization’s progress. The Reveres are such doomsayers, but, at least to me, they have the saving grace that they appear to know of what they speak, and offer solutions on a personal level. (Anyone want to buy a few acres in a sparsely settled part of Australia?:)
    8) I have given you references showing just how the “energy crisis” is not an energy crisis, but it’s just water off a ducks back.

  39. #39 K
    January 2, 2007

    A grain free diet may work fine, but cattle, pigs, chickens etc eat carbohydrates. Fish may eat fish but somewhere down the line some fish or marine creatures eat the carbohydrates produced by plankton. Fruit contain carbohydrates. So a meat diet is second hand carbohydrates.

    Since the problems they are having with the weight of hydrogen tanks in autos have not been resolved, and the problem of the weight of batteries in electric cars have been in part solved by reducing the weight of other parts of cars, I think that it is unlikely that machines that require size and weight are likely to ever be powered by hydrogen or electricity

    Colonization of other countries has never been about doing good for those people. It has always been about ripping off their resources. This has been done by all sorts of people – not just the west, europe, also China, Japan, Persia, etc. My personal opinion is that hunter gatherers might have had shorter lives but I expect they were more fulfilling lives – living in the environment that their genes were programed for. I see all around me unhappy people with lots of stuff and medical care. Many of the reports of the last of the hunter gatherers indicate happier lives..

    But most were gone by the time modern medicine and the green revolution came. What I said is that these life savers should have been accompanied by birth control.

    M Hubbert King correctly predicted the peaking of oil in the 48 lower states. Those who use his method of predicting the peaking or world oil deserve a hearing. One incorrect prediction by a doomsayer is used to discount even those who have made correct predictions. I don’t follow the logic.

  40. #40 bar
    January 2, 2007


    A few misapprehensions.

    Cattle & sheep eat grass. The wild pigs on my farm do not get fed grain. They dig for roots. Chooks will happily scrounge for grubs and all sorts of goodies. Fish are meat, and contain no protein. Plankton is not grain. Of course grain can be substituted for grass, grubs & plankton. It’s called feedlotting. People feedlot cattle because they can fatten them faster with grain and no exercise. It’s an economic venture. I don’t eat beef or sheep because I like them. I prefer game (Kangaroo) because they knock over my fences.

    Correct, fruit & veggies contain lots of carbohydrates, so do nuts, and to a lesser extent berries. All good cave man food, which grain aint.

    About Hydrogen. I do not know much about fuel cells, except they make electricity. I would use liquid H2 in an IC engine. The fact that about 1%-2% might evaporate each day is not really a problem with continuously operating heavy transport. For personal vehicles, possibly a dual system, a cylinder of compressed H2 for local, intermittent use, and a cold tank for long distance.

    However H2 fueled IC engine is my second choice. I predict that some form of lightweight, energy dense, cheap, high power transfer energy storage device will become available.

    When Photovoltaic roofing sheets reach a discounted price (ie “electricity generated over lifetime” divided by “costs associated with purchase, installation maintainence, disposal”) of around 10c/KWH, then I would expect that a large number of 10KW – 25KW PV systems would be purchased. There would be a concurrent huge demand for energy storage devices capable of storing up to 100 KWH. I can think of at least two technical systems (not suitable for mobile use) using existing technology that would be better than 90% efficient, would need negligible maintainence, and probably sell (mass produced & installed) for $5,000 – $10,000.

    I have been looking over the latoc site at http://lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ site. Allow me to say, I do not think that a politician giveing a scare talk on a subject it is an acceptable scientific “proof” of anything. Nor do I think that PV electricity can be considered an untenable option merely because less than 1/3% of home power is currently produced that way.

    Your comment about birth control. I do not think that catholics (most of S. America) or Muslims (lots of Africa & Asia) would accept birth control. Birth control before 1960 (when India & China had greatest gains percentagewise) was by information or rubber. Children in that era were an asset.

    I do not know about other people, but I am extremely happy with our civilization. Sure, there’s a few negatives (like SUV’s & terrorists) but an SUV is less hazardous than a croc or rhino, today’s terrorists are less of a danger than Norsemen raiders or the Golden Horde. I’d rather be treated by a doctor than a witch doctor. There is next to no likelihood of famine, and a reduced chance of plague.

  41. #41 bar
    January 2, 2007

    sorry,I wrote “protein” instead of “carbohydrate” in the fish sentence.

    It wasn’t only Malthus. The “Club of Rome” I think it was said something similar (that civilization would grind to a halt because of exhaustion of mineral resources) circa 1950’s. There were others, relating to pesticides & fertility, inevitably of atomic war, the list is actually quite extensive.

  42. #42 K
    January 3, 2007

    I realize that the common usage of carbohydrates is to designate grain products. However carbohydrates are the product of photosynthesis – they are part of grass, leaves, tree trunks etc. Without carbohydrates – the energy of the sun captured by photosynthesis we would not exist. Your grubs also live on carbohydrates in decaying matter in the soil.

    I don’t know if basic biology classes have failed us or the common use off the word carbohydrates have erased the meaning of the word. Please take some time to study the process that makes animal life possible on this planet. I can’t discuss energy with you if you don’t at least understand the primary energy we all depend on.



  43. #43 bar
    January 3, 2007

    Kath: sorry. I thought we were talking about hydroponics. Then about not being able to grow grain using hydroponics, then that grain was essential to “the human machine” which in my parlance means “the human body”.

    Quote: “PS to Bar – humans have to have carbohydrates – if not in the grains they eat, in the meat of animals that eat grains. It is the energy that powers the human machine. The 2006 world grain harvest was 1,984 million tons – try replace that with hydroponics.”

    In retrospect, I see the ambiguity.

    Looks as though this thread is about to end. I don’t think I am going to be able to convince you that our civilization is not in imminent danger of collapse, or v.v. Anyhow, been nice talking to you. We will no doubt meet on other threads.

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