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#2507635 - 01/27/12 04:57 PM "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8155

Been saying for years that the model of perpetual growth of 3-4%, which is apparently necessary to avoid recessions etc. etc. are impossible when looked at from a humanity type time frame...it's always countered with words like "replacement" and "efficiencies", but the above link is an interesting argument/thought experiment.

Our fossil fuels are stored solar energy, so the premise is that "sustainable" is in equilibrium with solar inputs.

Scenario 1 is using P.V. at 20% efficiency, the entire global land mass is covered with P.V. in 275 years...really not that very long.

Make the assumption that we get way smart, and make them 100% efficient (impossible), and that factor of 5 only buys another 70 years due to exponential growth...cover the oceans as well, buys another 55 years, again due to the exponential growth.

The end part deals with the thermodynamics of the Earth's energy balance should we start to use technologies such as fusion, where the earth has to reject excess heat, which it can only do through rising temperatures, just due to plain laws of physics (not the tabboo stuff on the board, just simple radiative heat transfer.

In short, if we keep doing what we are doing, and following the economic lead, our model of society has literally only a couple hundred years ahead of it.
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#2507698 - 01/27/12 05:54 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
Torino Offline


Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 725
Loc: Henderson, Nevada
Nah, gyrate around with E=MC2 a bit. John--Las Vegas.

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#2507762 - 01/27/12 06:33 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz
Get to the end bit, and all of those MC2s have to be liberated, and the only way of doing that is to increase the K(T1^&4-T2^4)
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#2507764 - 01/27/12 06:35 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
toneydoc Offline


Registered: 12/16/11
Posts: 1569
Loc: War Eagle
Ah heck, use g oil, save the oil and no matter what, I will be gone within the next 100 years or so. Hope they do OK after I am gone.
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#2507852 - 01/27/12 08:06 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 3537
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
Re: Sustainable Energy / Perpetual Growth Impossible: So, what is your point.

Years ago when I was in high-school one day the Chemistry teacher told the class about a biology experiment using a large cage and rats. On day one one rat was placed in a large cage. And every after that one more rat was added to the cage. At first there were no problems. After the population became large enough the rats would sometimes fight. And when the population got even larger diseases would kill off some of the rats.

Moral of the story, for a limited area and limited resources there is a limited number of population that can be supported.

Consider that there are 238 Countries in the world, 6.8 Billion people consisting of all ages, living in many different groups from single to lager family, speaking 1000 different languages, practicing 15 major religions, living in different environments ranging from rain forest, to desert, to arctic. With diversity like that, It is very hard, to get a large enough population in agreement and cooperation so as to make significant change in the life stiles of enough people so as to have a positive effect on the environment. And if said positive effect is achieved, then all it can ever accomplish is to simply move the bar higher as to how many people the limited given area and limited resources can support.

I believe the experiment with the rats shows that it is nature not mans mind that will ultimately control the maximum population that the earth can support. And there is always the possibility of some major catastrophe weather it is natural or man made, causing a significant decrease in the population.

While there have been significant improvements throughout history, from the first mass water supply system, to all of the advantages we take for granted today, in the end even with all the improvements, there is a finite limit to the number of people the earth can support, and when the population reaches that limit, something will limit further increases in population.

One thing I learned from the rat experiment, is to not loose sleep when I see signs of possible natural means of limiting the population. It is just nature at work.
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#2507865 - 01/27/12 08:15 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
PandaBear Offline


Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 13502
Loc: Silicon Valley
Agree with the above.

What I do see that is more likely, is the pricing of energy will be so high later that people will change what they do to use less, either through efficiency (i.e. public transit, not living in harsh climate, not doing fun stuff like travel across the globe, not manufacturing at the opposite end of the globe), or reduced overall population (birth control, late child birth, etc) that makes the world reach a balance.

We can keep digging up energy (coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, geo thermal) or harvesting energy (bio fuel, solar) all we want, but eventually they still cost something and the world would change according to the pricing.

We no longer use sperm whale oil for lubrication due to scarcity, nor do we use natural gas for street lighting, so we'll find something to do with less of what we have. People in India and China survived fine with much less energy back in the days, we'll just find ways to do with less.


Edited by PandaBear (01/27/12 08:15 PM)
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#2507993 - 01/27/12 10:07 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 3537
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
And every day after that one more rat was added to the cage.
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#2508032 - 01/27/12 10:55 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz
I agree that nature will limit us, even with as a species we are the cancer that nearly does her in.

More to my point is that our entire financial system is reliant on a constant and perpetual exponential growth, of around 3-4%, to stop the whole debt based money system from falling down like a house of cards...drop below the magic number, your credentials as a country are called into question.

Every 20 years, we use as much of "everything" as we did in all of history up until that point, the next 20 we'll use as much of everything (yes except sperm whale oil, asbestos - well the chinese still use that) as has been used in all of history up to that point.

a group of people standing in a football field, where the population is doubling every 10 minutes feels pretty good about their room to move until the last 1 or 2 cycles...not leaving much time to act,n a beast that's bigger than it ever has been.
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#2508112 - 01/28/12 03:58 AM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz

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#2508155 - 01/28/12 06:59 AM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
SteveSRT8 Offline


Registered: 10/10/08
Posts: 18330
Loc: Sunny Florida
Pure Gloom and Doom.

NO one knows the future. Expect Nature to step in and plague us back down to a reasonable size.

It could happen.
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#2508630 - 01/28/12 03:54 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: SteveSRT8]
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz
Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
Pure Gloom and Doom.

NO one knows the future. Expect Nature to step in and plague us back down to a reasonable size.

It could happen.


So you consider THAT an uplifting message ?

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#2508653 - 01/28/12 04:16 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
d00df00d Online   content


Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 10659
Loc: PA
More uplifting than buckling down and doing something about it now, apparently.
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#2508883 - 01/28/12 08:15 PM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: d00df00d]
JimPghPA Offline


Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 3537
Loc: Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
Originally Posted By: d00df00d
More uplifting than buckling down and doing something about it now, apparently.


How would one go about buckling down and doing something about it now with the: 238 Countries in the world, 6.8 Billion people consisting of all ages, living in many different groups from single to lager family, speaking 1000 different languages, practicing 15 major religions, living in different environments ranging from rain forest, to desert, to arctic?


Edited by JimPghPA (01/28/12 08:16 PM)
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Boy will I be happy when ALL vehicles on public roads are autonomous.


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#2509050 - 01/29/12 12:40 AM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: Shannow]
Shannow Online   content


Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 35948
Loc: Oz
That's the next easiest answer isn't it ?

"look over there !!!"

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#2509247 - 01/29/12 09:55 AM Re: "Sustainable Energy" Perpetual Growth Impossible [Re: JimPghPA]
Y_K Offline


Registered: 05/29/09
Posts: 1901
Loc: WA (USA)
Originally Posted By: JimPghPA
And every day after that one more rat was added to the cage.

There was a lovely variation of this experiment in Royal Navy: they would not feed the rats by anything but rats. The last surviving one was released afterwards and liberate the ship from rats, they called those Rat Kings..

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