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I'm depreeeeeessedddd

The more I read, the more I realize our civilization is CRAZY, and we are ALL in denial because there is NO solution and we are ALL part of the problem.

I could shower you with links, but damn, google it yourself, okay.

Care for a long read ?

-> Summary before the long story : Before 2050, maybe before 2040, the TOTAL OFFER OF EVERYTHING, since EVERYTHING is based on energy, will SHRINK. And will shrink more and more, year after year.
Apart from the sun above the crops, EVERYTHING is based on consuming energy, or investing energy to produce things. Your food. Your clothes. Your car. Your books. Your computer. Your house's walls, lighting, heating. And this available energy for human spending, its total amount on Earth, is going to shrink more and more. Less and less of everything. This is real. This is the real shit.

And this is no sci-fi or conspirationist madness.

The long story, now ?

(1) - Hydrocarbons : the HYPER BEST we can hope for is a plateau until 2025-2030 followed by a steady and fast fall. Example : all the hype in America about new resources amounts in total and in the best case for 5 years of their consumption, you can't do much better worldwide with best hopes. There is no hidden miracle to come.

(2) - Metallic resources : several metals will have PASSED their peak by the end of the century, some of them before 2050, damn, some of them before 2025. That also means EASY to mine areas don't exist anymore for several materials, mining now relies on extremely well-trained and experienced mining with lots of energy.

(3) - On the rest of the energy production area : let's discard all environmental tolls and sense of realism, and imagine we multiply coal and nuclear energy production by 5, hydroelectric energy production by 2, and renewables by a wholesome 25 times factor (while it is considered that large-scale energy shifts take 60 years, remember my mention about realism). In that scenario, it wouldn't be enough to make up for the shrinking in oil production and the follow-up fall in gas and coal production.

CONCLUSION : I'll repeat the conclusion : before 2050, maybe before 2040, the TOTAL OFFER OF EVERYTHING, since EVERYTHING is based on energy, will SHRINK. And will shrink more and more, year after year.
Apart from the sun above the crops, EVERYTHING is based on consuming energy, or investing energy to produce things. Your food. Your clothes. Your car. Your books. Your computer. Your house's walls, lighting, heating. And this available energy for human spending, its total amount on Earth, is going to shrink more and more. Less and less of everything. This is real. This is the real shit.

(4) - More trouble ?
. Less and less energy, even though the demography will bring billions more humans on Earth. And those humans will be brought up with dreams of adopting the good old western way of life. Nothing adds up.
. The rarer the resources, the more highly technical their extraction becomes, it doesn't only consume more energy, it consumes more brains and facilities. The easy to extract materials in easy to exploit mines are gone for most of them : maintaining extraction will become even more sensible to political instability and energy costs. And for the next hundreds millions of years, Earth won't be offering anymore easy access to hydrocarbons and metals to the beings coming next (except occasional lumps of mixed nuclear waste here and there, perhaps).

(5) - False hopes ?
. Generic mistake of confusing reserves and resources. it's not because there is something under the ground that you'll always be able to extract it
. « As prices raise, extraction will become economically viable again ». Untrue. Prices can't raise too high or they kill either demand or customers, activity won't keep on with high prices, it's the activity that will stop or slow down when reaching certain prices. And there's also the energy cost of extraction, if you spend 2000 joules of energy to extract 1000 joules from the ground, you're doing it wrong (cf the line below).
. Kerogen : falsely promising areas like the kerogen oil shales like America's Green River are a mere illusion, extracting oil from this would consume more energy than it does produce energy. Same deal for uranium in sea water.
. Fission nuclear reactors : funnily, uranium's depletion is a reality, and MOX raises meltdown risks and damages while not bringing much added reserves. As for breeder reactors, there might be a reason why France gave up on it and Japan : it might work someday, but there's no telling if it will really work, and when, and then it would take several decades to spread largely enough, raising then urgent questions about global security and threats to the environment (do you imagine a breeder plant in a warzone ?). Lastly, thorium reactors might delay the problem, but delay it only, each time their reaction is relaunched it consumes a lot of uranium to start up the reaction.
. fusion nuclear reactors : fusion reactors just don't even work in labs, it's only parts of them are are in testing in small scale units for labs, and the closest we can get fusion reactors to work if EVERYTHING proceeds fine will be in 60 years.
. cold fusion is nothing but sci-fi apparently, and Andrea Rossi's E-cat looks like a giant hoax sadly, that guy's been telling several contradictory versions and been caught liying all around on various topics
. maintaining our level of energy consumption, but based on renewable sources : not doable, and if it were doable, we'd risk running short on some metals in the medium term

(6) - Ways to make it less dramatic ?
. reduce waste
. stop buying useless shit
. bring industries closer to the customers, produce food consumed locally
. stop making children
. buy more expensive products going to last longer
. encourage companies to produce better products that will last longer in order to reduce products turnover (for fuck's sake, cf )

(7) - Will the chapter (6) be enough to avoid the real shit ?
. no
Oliver H.'s profile photoHidde “Ganonmaster” Jansen's profile photoMassimo Artizzu's profile photo
Note : please, if I'm totally wrong, prove it, I would LOVE to be wrong.
The argument on nuclear fusion seems wrong to me. Energy from nuclear fusion is based on solid scientific principles. (light atomic nuclei fusing together to form a heavier nucleus, generating energy in the process, etc.) To simply dispel it as a 'false hope' seems wrong to me as this technology provide much more energy for a given weight of fuel than any technology currently in use. And as water is the fuel for these machines, chances are we won't run out of that stuff too soon. The waste it produces is negligible, so the potential here is enormous.

I must admit that this technology is still some time away from perfection. Funding for these types of projects is a problem, and many of these projects are planned for a time-frame of about 30 years. However, the ITER project is set to make the transition from experimental studies to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants. 7 years from now, the facility will become operational and from that point on, things are looking less gloomy than some would claim. Projects like DEMO and PROTO are drafted to become the first commercial fusion reactors to be connected to the grid. Granted, both of those are still 20 years off and will not solve the global energy crisis on their own. With proper funding from the commercial energy sector, these projects could be completed sooner, but big-oil/coal/whatever is more interested in keeping their monopoly and making more money than funding good solutions to this problem.

It's the same issue with the production of meat. The most delicious, healthy and safest meat in the world is already being produced/grown in labs in many different countries. It tastes the same as regular meat, has no side-effects and no animal was harmed during production. You can produce more meat per square meter this way as you only grow the parts you actually want to eat. This is real, and could land on your plate within 5 years, but it's being held back by monopolies of big corporations and lack of funding. Same goes for growing new organs. It could be here already Look at the skin cell gun. A true example of life altering technology that, albeit experimental, has already proven itself by healing serious second degree burns in dozens of people without any immediate side-effects. With proper funding, this technique could be in use all over the world within a year or two.

The problem all comes down to allocation of resources by governments and businesses. (i.e. money) Maybe I'm just too much of an optimist and/or futurist to believe in the inevitability of impending doom, but I think this energy crisis can be overcome if money is invested in renewable energy sources and research. (damn you money, you'll be the death of all of us)

I also like the solution of stop making children. there's not enough room and energy to sustain them as it is now. Let's make more of them when we have colonized Mars and more efficient methods of space travel.

Or maybe I'll just die a virgin. Prospect of that is looking positive with the rapture coming within 8 months.
I think the real problem with different kinds of energy production, I mean the ones that today aren't widely considered, is the structure behind them, which is underdeveloped and thus making the way economically unviable.

Let's see some examples.
a. Solar energy from the Sahara desert. What's better than 9 millions of sq. km of sunny, hot, unhabited land to get energy power? We're wasting a lot of money, resources and space building photovoltaic plants in northern Europe and America, so what's holding us?
Simple: the absence of a decent power grid. And it has to be a HUGE and very complex one. Moreover it wouldbe built on highly politically unstable countries like Lybia, Sudan, Chad, Egypt; or haunted by terrorists, armed authonomist groups, raiders and finally fundamentalist islamic groups. So none would invest a huge amount of money in such areas, since it can't be sure if they could even finish the project, not to mention to enjoy the results for a long time.
b. Nuclear energy from thorium and breeder reactors. Those technologies are real and already proved viable. The problem is that nobody invests on them except for research plants, since the alternative (uranium fission) is still way cheaper.
BUT when the uranium won't be so cheap anymore, things will definitely change, and we would get the thorium mines and fuel production plants we need, as well as some new cheaper and more reliable projects and technologies for breeder and fast breeder reactors. Thorium is 4 times more common than uranium, and the Superphénix was a wonderful project, closed because of its high maintenance costs, but it paved the path for future development.
The same applies to ADS, which could dramatically help us burning our previous nuclear wastes, giving us some more energy too.

Other tecnologies are simply too underdeveloped and thus too expensive. I'm not talking about wind and solar energy, actually: those two has already decades of continuous development and application, and their prices already dropped a lot, and now isn't dropping not even nearly as fast.
I was thinking about something more sci-fi, like energy beamed to an earth-based plant from a gathering satellite, or nearer to us all, like wave and tidal energy, or even GMO bacteria producing methane from urban wastes.
This argument applies to the extraction of more conventional energy sources from unused mines, like oil sands, bituminous schists, methane crystals and so on. Even CO2 capture could become cheap enough in comparison, allowing us to use more coal and methane for energy production.
(Well actually photovoltaic energy is a big question mark. Maybe there's still a chance to produce solar cells with a hundredfold decreased cost, which can be found in a couple of years - who knows? The problem of the amount of space could be reduced as well but will still remain though - and forever, too.)

Really, we have still hundreds of way to produce energy. They're simply not cheap enough. Out major problem is that we need them FAST, because not only human population is growing (not forever, but still), but there are a lot of countries that are now facing a decent industrial development. They're going to buy a lot of resources like... coal, oil, gas. Yep, the old hydrocarbons, and it will be a mess of the environment.
Meanwhile, they'll be more and more expensive, so more industrialized countries, with maybe the addiction of China and India, will try alternatives. And meanwhile China and India can do something, Europe, North America, Japan will hit the reality hard and understand that they cannot afford to invest on renewable energy anymore, because it's still to expensive (with the exception of hydroelectric plants, but its production has already peaked in many countries - including mine, a long time ago).
Roosevelt's New Deal brougth the USA out of the economic crisis, but created a huge national debt. Our current economic crisis prevents us to do something like the New Deal, because national debts are the main problem now.

You already know the answer. We won't invest on oil, gas and coal, because the first two (expecially the first one) mainly come from unstable countries, and the third is too damn polluting (unless the CO2 capture above).
So we will stick to nuclear energy for now, and I foresee a new interest on nuclear plants in the next 10-15 years, opening the path to thorium fueled and breeders reactors.

So, cheer up. We will always find a way, NO MATTER WHAT. We just can't go back. Many things will change, for sure. The economy won't be the same, we will mourn the past old days when a liter of car fuel costed less than 1 euro and one kWh of electric energy costed 10-20 cents.
But we will also know the wonders of the future technology, and some of them will be so intimately part of our lives that we will think "How could we survive in 2012 without it?!". Just like we do now with the Internet and cell phones, 30 years ago we did it with color TVs and microwave ovens, 60 years ago with cars and refridgerators.
Maybe in 2050 we will all have 30" OLED displays with 2 W of power consumption, electric cars with light and realiable batteries that can give 200 KW and last 2000 km with a single charge, we will eat delicious steaks made out of lab-grown chunks of meat, and cancer will be cured.

Energy will still be a problem, until nuclear fusion will finally be a dream came true, hopefully freeing the world from the energy problem once and for all. But meanwhile, we won't run out of energy.
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