Buddhism and Peak Oil

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:22 am

kirtu wrote:
mañjughoṣamaṇi wrote:Ironically, it is the US's political stance with regard to both energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions to hold out for a technological solution that will fix the problems. The European nations you mentioned have all sought to reduce fuel consumption by choosing not to subsidize gasoline, and to utilize high fuel taxes as a coercive measure to limit fuel consumption.


This was so promising ....

but then ....
Likewise they've accepted the need to reduce emissions rather than wait for higher efficiency technologies.


Well that's one way of looking at it.


It is apparently the way that many of the European industrial nations looked at it when they cited it as the reason for embracing the Kyoto Accord. This does not mean they haven't pursued more efficient energy sources, but it does mean they realized that holding out for technological solution that still hadn't manifested was insufficient. This is contra the US position which officially argued that regulation and restriction of fossil fuel use stifled business, subsequently stifling technological innovation which is supposedly the way out of dependence on fossil fuels and the increased emissions that come with them. This faith in business and technology has even been part of the justification used to push the fracking debacle.

America is stuck in Can't-Do but will likely play catch up after the demo technologies have been proven by others. And that unfortunately is one of the lesser lauded historic patterns that the US follows.


I don't think this catch phrase is very accurate. America is huge, and there are a lot of opinions floating around here touching on everything from the utopian technologist, to advocates of strong regulation, to greed overwhelming concern, to people not giving a shit for whatever reason (preoccupation with lowering standard of living, the loss of political power for those outside of the moneyed class, religious belief, etc).

With regard to your answer that Europe with develop more hybrid vehicles, Japan and America are the leaders in that field if one looks at development, production, and purchases of those vehicles. I for one hope that Europeans don't increase car ownership levels as that can lead to urban planning nightmares and habitat destruction.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Nemo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:49 am

Kirtu,

Having lived off of solar power for years your ideas are fanciful and unrealistic. They would make a great cover for popular mechanics but they are completely unworkable with present technology. Since solar does not have reliable output it can only make up a small part of total power generation. The problems of energy storage and the need for redundant back ups make solar only feasible for generously 20% of total grid power. My imaginary fusion power plant that uses fuels that have no radioactive isotopes in their decay cycle is infinitely better than your imaginary solar furnaces.

The rot has already set in to our political and economic systems. The levers of power for ordinary citizens do not work. Try voting against the banks. The only escape now is in small groups making independent sustainable communities. The level of totalitarianism that will come to prevent armed insurrection will be intolerable for many people. Even though it may be preferable to the alternatives. Our society has a consumptive illness, free market capitalism without moral constraints. It is getting too late in the game since 7 billion people do too much damage to our ecology to sustain ourselves long enough to cure. The problem is ethical. Not technological. Human character has failed. Time to take refuge from Samsara. If the changes were going to happen they would have happened in the 1980's when all the current problems were foreseen. There was a revolution and we lost.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:49 am

Namdrol wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Actually romans did have machines, here is a picture of a roman sawmill, as an example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%B6mische_S%C3%A4gem%C3%BChle.svg



Yes, run by slaves. The cotton gin was also a machine, albeit run by slaves.


The roman saw mill uses the power of gravity, ie the flowing of water to a lower level, as in a normal waterpowered electricity generator.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Aemilius » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:08 pm

Nemo wrote:Things are getting very complicated. Solar can only supply about 20% or less of total grid energy. There are these things in the sky called clouds and when they go by energy production almost stops. Backup power generation is needed within minutes. The only things that spin up fast enough are natural gas generators. There are no great energy storage solutions currently.


Calculations about solar energy as the primary form of energy, that I refered to, say that the effect of cloudy days is included in the calculations.

There are large energy storage methods in use already, for example in Germany. They store the surplus energy from windmills and solarpanels etc when it is necessary. That is they pump water into artificial lakes, this water can then be used later through waterpower generators. The storage efficiency rate is between 65% to 75%.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Nemo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:12 pm

You won't see an industrialized country go over 20% of power generated by PV panels. Too unreliable. Back up plants and storage are too expensive. Wind and hydro are better choices but after a certain point even these renewables are not cost effective. For the price of a storage plant you can build a generating plant. We will have mixed power generation. When technology improves then the formula changes. Solid state energy storage would be a game changer. Been chasing the dream of that for years. I don't know if we are any closer to a breakthrough. Fusion is the long term solution. Or massive depopulation.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby catmoon » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:56 pm

Fusion is the long term solution? How long?

In all of history up to 1940, we added one billion humans to the planet. Since then we have added another 7 billion. If fusion were to kick in in a big way, yielding massive amounts of almost free power, we will make massive amounts of fertilizer, plastics, cars and may even return to giant gas guzzlers as all that free energy might make it economic to synthesize cheap fuel.

So it will become possible to add another 7 billion people, and another and another, which each new cohort being more technological and using far more energy than the one before.

I don't think the planet can take it. The oceans are half fished out already, agricultural land is in rapid decline in quality and quantity, and the atmosphere is overloaded with waste gases as it is.

Maybe Antarctica will become habitable. Of course, if the ice sheets melt, they will expose and entire continent's worth of untouched resources, so we'll have to have a big fat war or ten over that.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:23 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Aemilius wrote:Actually romans did have machines, here is a picture of a roman sawmill, as an example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%B6mische_S%C3%A4gem%C3%BChle.svg



Yes, run by slaves. The cotton gin was also a machine, albeit run by slaves.


The roman saw mill uses the power of gravity, ie the flowing of water to a lower level, as in a normal waterpowered electricity generator.


Manned by slaves again.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:54 pm

Nemo wrote:Our society has a consumptive illness, free market capitalism without moral constraints. It is getting too late in the game since 7 billion people do too much damage to our ecology to sustain ourselves long enough to cure. The problem is ethical. Not technological. Human character has failed. Time to take refuge from Samsara. If the changes were going to happen they would have happened in the 1980's when all the current problems were foreseen. There was a revolution and we lost.


It is getting worse, too. Just go to India or China and you'll see what I mean. Over a billion people each and rapid industrialization with huge quite visible wealth gaps and almost nobody at all with the foresight to see that it will all come to an end quite rapidly. Here in Asia people are optimistic about the future and assume in due time everyone will have a standard of living like middle-class Europeans. This is why those countries just barrel into rapid industrialization and assume they can only go up from there.

So, when you have energy guzzling nations like the US, China, Russia and India and others competing for a shrinking amount of fossil fuels, this will only lead to conflict.

The irony is that citizens might condemn their governments for tacitly supporting brutal dictatorships in the Middle East or even launching war to acquire further oil supplies for the long-term, but by virtue of their consumption habits the political consent for such actions is indirectly given. The powers that be only can do such things because of economic realities. This is especially the case in capitalist democracies where your re-election depends on promising good economic times (even if it means giving the nod to nations like Bahrain to crush rebellions). Nobody will get elected on a platform of sacrifice, de-industrialization, ruralification and downscaling of everything.

It is promises of progress and economic development that gets you votes, not telling people the cold hard truth that we've reached ecological limits and must scale back.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:00 pm

catmoon wrote:
I don't think the planet can take it. The oceans are half fished out already, agricultural land is in rapid decline in quality and quantity, and the atmosphere is overloaded with waste gases as it is.

Maybe Antarctica will become habitable. Of course, if the ice sheets melt, they will expose and entire continent's worth of untouched resources, so we'll have to have a big fat war or ten over that.


The Mayan civilization collapsed partially due to overshooting their resource base. In their case it was diminishing production of corn.

We're already doing the same. We've reached ecological limits and not widely aware of it.

The IEA already admitted that around 2005/2006 we already hit peak oil, which means from thereon we will never have an increasing supply of oil again.

It is all downhill from here. Industrial civilization will end, but not before billions of people probably die in the process. We're entering a dark age.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Nemo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:01 pm

catmoon wrote:Fusion is the long term solution? How long?

In all of history up to 1940, we added one billion humans to the planet. Since then we have added another 7 billion. If fusion were to kick in in a big way, yielding massive amounts of almost free power, we will make massive amounts of fertilizer, plastics, cars and may even return to giant gas guzzlers as all that free energy might make it economic to synthesize cheap fuel.

So it will become possible to add another 7 billion people, and another and another, which each new cohort being more technological and using far more energy than the one before.

I don't think the planet can take it. The oceans are half fished out already, agricultural land is in rapid decline in quality and quantity, and the atmosphere is overloaded with waste gases as it is.

Maybe Antarctica will become habitable. Of course, if the ice sheets melt, they will expose and entire continent's worth of untouched resources, so we'll have to have a big fat war or ten over that.


Without Dharma life would be very bleak right about now. I hope we produce some good art and cultural artifacts on our way out. The only route to freedom I see right now is making your own power and growing your own food. The other possibility is having a small sustainable home in a city near shopping and work. Cars will be one of the first things to go. Then reliable or affordable power generation depending on your countries choice. Food prices will skyrocket. Suburbs will become the new ghettos. Life will get more complicated.

The loss of manufacturing in the US will be the nail in it's coffin. With most of your population redundant and no longer a primary market of capitalism the future for 70% of your population is very grim. Totalitarianism will be the only choice to prevent armed revolt by the ignorant masses. By bureaucrats constantly choosing the least evil of horrible choices Oceania from George Orwell will look like a pleasing place to take a vacation.

I don't mean next week or next year. I first got interesting in environmentalism in the 80's. Traveled to a number of hot spots and lobbied governments to do the easiest steps to prevent ecological collapse. Looking back over the last 30 years of my personal experience and adding what I can learn through a very limited view of human history patterns emerge. The patter is not good. 30 or 40 years out things look bleak. 100 years out things look abysmal.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:11 pm

catmoon wrote:Fusion is the long term solution? How long?

In all of history up to 1940, we added one billion humans to the planet. Since then we have added another 7 billion. If fusion were to kick in in a big way, yielding massive amounts of almost free power, we will make massive amounts of fertilizer, plastics, cars and may even return to giant gas guzzlers as all that free energy might make it economic to synthesize cheap fuel.

So it will become possible to add another 7 billion people, and another and another, which each new cohort being more technological and using far more energy than the one before.

I don't think the planet can take it. The oceans are half fished out already, agricultural land is in rapid decline in quality and quantity, and the atmosphere is overloaded with waste gases as it is.


This is why Ehrlich and crew came up with the IPAT formula to try to quantify environmental impact. [Environmental] Impact = Population x Affluence [measured in terms of consumption patterns] x Technology [Efficiency]

Technology is only one part of the equation. Without addressing the other two we will just rip through whatever savings we may find through more efficient technologies.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Malcolm » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:36 pm

mañjughoṣamaṇi wrote:
Technology is only one part of the equation. Without addressing the other two we will just rip through whatever savings we may find through more efficient technologies.


Then there is the Jevons Paradox:

In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.

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

This led to a reexamination and restatement as the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazzoom-Brookes_postulate

"When individuals change behavior and begin to use methods and devices that are more energy efficient, there are cases where, on a macro-economic level, energy usage actually increases." The effect of higher energy prices, either through taxes or producer-induced shortages, initially reduces demand but in the longer term encourages greater energy efficiency. This efficiency response amounts to a partial accommodation of the price rise and thus the reduction in demand is blunted. The end result is a new balance between supply and demand at a higher level of supply and consumption than if there had been no efficiency response.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Nemo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:32 pm

Like how flat screen televisions were supposed to be more energy efficient. They were much more efficient at similar screen sizes. But replacing a 29 inch Trinitron with a 52 inch LCD panel didn't save a thing.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:15 pm

I think the affluence (measure of the ability to consume resources) in the IPAT formula was meant to partially account for this principle. I remember watching a debate between Ehrlich and a socialist of the utopian-techie variety. The socialist was saying we wouldn't need to reduce consumption because we can just improve the technology, citing catalytic converters as an example of a higher efficiency/lower impact through technology. The response was that with the increase in vehicles on the road due of the affluence of the American middle class and the growing population, the efficiency gains were undercut and the impact increased anyway.

Whether it accommodates those ideas or not, all these ideas definitely serve to undermine the idea that technological advances are a panacea for the problems of diminishing power supplies and pollution.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:26 pm

catmoon wrote:Fusion is the long term solution? How long?


If we develop fusion power then energy scarcity is eliminated for the lifetime of the planet. For real.

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:31 pm

Nemo wrote:You won't see an industrialized country go over 20% of power generated by PV panels.


No one here has stated that PV's were a primary solution. 20% PV seems quite optimistic to begin with.

However in non-industrial countries that might not be the case.

I am amazed that the Germans are currently at 6% solar mostly from PV.

We will have mixed power generation.


I said that within my first couple of postings in the thread.

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby kirtu » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:45 pm

Nemo wrote:Having lived off of solar power for years your ideas are fanciful and unrealistic. They would make a great cover for popular mechanics but they are completely unworkable with present technology.


I'm not sure how you've come up with this mischaracterization. What do you find ripped from the pages of Popular Mechanics?

Since solar does not have reliable output it can only make up a small part of total power generation.


I have not said otherwise. Nonetheless the Germans have demonstrated that they can provide 1.3% of their total electric production from solar energy, primarily from photovoltaics. They have also demonstrated that they can provide 20% of their total energy from renewable sources.

If you read what I wrote you will see that I have said from the start that energy production has to be from a mixture of sources but I have also said that solar energy has not been tapped sufficiently. I have never proposed solar energy as a single solution (except for the possibility of massive numbers of O'Neil collectors proposed in the 70's and 80's but which no one has yet developed a prototype of). In fact in other threads I have been ripped for flatly stating that nuclear power is something we will have to live with.

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:45 am

kirtu wrote:In fact in other threads I have been ripped for flatly stating that nuclear power is something we will have to live with.

Kirt


Whether we like it or not, we're locked into nuclear power.

If faced with a drastic reduction in energy consumption or continuing running risks with nuclear power, most people will take the latter.

In Japan for example there might be a lot of opposition to nuclear power, but few would be willing to sacrifice their standard of living to get rid of it.
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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:44 am

Huseng wrote:
kirtu wrote:In fact in other threads I have been ripped for flatly stating that nuclear power is something we will have to live with.

Kirt


Whether we like it or not, we're locked into nuclear power.

If faced with a drastic reduction in energy consumption or continuing running risks with nuclear power, most people will take the latter.

In Japan for example there might be a lot of opposition to nuclear power, but few would be willing to sacrifice their standard of living to get rid of it.


Germany and Sweden voted against nuclear power and shut their reactors down. This is one reason why the Germans are trying to generate 60-80% (I've seen the goal revised down in some discussions) of their electricity from renewables by 2050 and why their attempt is so noteworthy.

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Re: Buddhism and Peak Oil

Postby Indrajala » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:33 am

kirtu wrote:
Huseng wrote:
kirtu wrote:In fact in other threads I have been ripped for flatly stating that nuclear power is something we will have to live with.

Kirt


Whether we like it or not, we're locked into nuclear power.

If faced with a drastic reduction in energy consumption or continuing running risks with nuclear power, most people will take the latter.

In Japan for example there might be a lot of opposition to nuclear power, but few would be willing to sacrifice their standard of living to get rid of it.


Germany and Sweden voted against nuclear power and shut their reactors down. This is one reason why the Germans are trying to generate 60-80% (I've seen the goal revised down in some discussions) of their electricity from renewables by 2050 and why their attempt is so noteworthy.

Kirt


I imagine Germany and Sweden can get their necessary energy needs from elsewhere for the time being.

A country like Japan cannot.
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