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Author Topic: The upcoming energy crisis.  (Read 23526 times)
Ivan Ivanov
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #105 on: October 10, 2006, 02:18:22 pm »

Retooling to run vehicles on methanol actually requires very little modification to the vehicles themselves, and the price per litre of methanol is far lower. In addition, engines running methanol instead of petrol run cleaner and colder. The drawback here is that methanol without additives delivers lower performance than ordinary petrol (octane of 70-odd instead of 90-odd).

If that is really the case, expect some car mechanic with a nose for buisness to offer car modifications, and a guy with good contacts with another guy from Brasil to start some gas stations.
The reason you don't see this in America is because for all the complaining gas over there is still very cheap. But where I'm from some people (specifically the ones who's buisness is greatly dependant on gas prices like taxi drivers or truckers) would kill for a cheap alternative.
To give you an example, taxi drivers mix gasoline with oil (the kind you use for frying), so they can save a few cents on a litre.

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The only issue with conversion to methanol is retooling to produce the quantities required i.t.o. cost and environment impact. Sugar cane is a very good raw material to extract methanol from, and if I have to give up sugar in my coffee for a cleaner environment, I'm prepared to do so.

That's very nice of you, but also very naive.
How much sugar do you use daily?
How much alcohol could you get out of it?
Not much, huh? Now even if everyone decided to save sugar, also pretty much everyone has a car, so the amount of sugar saved per capita would be pretty much the same as you'd get for yourself if only you decided to save sugar.

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Reduce the number of cars and increase the number of scooters and bikes, and the amounts required go down even further. I travel to work every day. Most families around here have a car per license - one per kid and one for each parent AND the minibus/4x4 for weekend use. Excessive?

This just in - Popular Mechanics just ran an article about a (production) car with a 400KM range and a 0-100 of 4s, running ELECTRICITY! This is a technology worthy of mass production, IMO.

The problem is neither you or any other single person or a cometee get to decide what is worthy of mass production and what is not. If there is a mass demand, there will be mass production, any attempt to force producers to make something that no one really wants will end with a disaster.
This Divine Intervention tactic that you seem to suggest will cause more harm then good. If you really must play with market forces, be more subtle - tax the hell out of something you want to discourage and and lower the taxes on the stuff you want to encourage, but even then it can backfire.
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Mugz the Sane
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #106 on: October 12, 2006, 09:49:06 am »

Begin eruption...

Actually, what IS going to happen is this: First - we are going to continue with our stupid lifestyle and stupid values and stupid morals and stupid greed, thus using up what few resources we have. Because we insisted on continuing with methods which are inherently self-destructive, and showing little to no interest in alternatives "because it costs too much to implement the change/the change is too inconveniently large-scale/the change requires too much behaviour modification", our resources are going to dry up - disappear. By that stage it will be too late to switch to alternatives.

Second, everyone is going to kill everyone else for possession of the last remainder of bugger-all and the human race will be extinct. Wonderful. At least then our embarrassment of a species won't be able to spread to space and wreck more of the universe, considering how we've wrecked this insignificant little ball of rock which we all live on and WILL become extinct on.

Humanity DESERVES itself.

End eruption.
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Ivan Ivanov
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #107 on: October 12, 2006, 10:05:03 am »

Actually, what IS going to happen is this: First - we are going to continue with our stupid lifestyle and stupid values and stupid morals and stupid greed, thus using up what few resources we have. Because we insisted on continuing with methods which are inherently self-destructive, and showing little to no interest in alternatives "because it costs too much to implement the change/the change is too inconveniently large-scale/the change requires too much behaviour modification", our resources are going to dry up - disappear. By that stage it will be too late to switch to alternatives.

What you speak of is impossible for a very simple reason.
As Deus said in this very thread: I don't think you realize that you're not just going to wake up some day and say "OMG, the OIL (or whatever resource). . .it is ALL Gone!".
As the resources run out their price will grow, as they keep growing the prices of alternatives won't look as discouraging and we will switch to them.
Even now there is big incentive to develop alternative energy sources, and with time this incentive will only grow.
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Culture20
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #108 on: October 12, 2006, 01:21:24 pm »

At least the Amish in the U.S. wouldn't be killing people if "bugger-all" suddenly disappeared.  Not that they even kill someone in self-defense... so they might end up being victims of people raiding Amish farms for food.
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Lukipela
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #109 on: October 12, 2006, 01:23:12 pm »


What you speak of is impossible for a very simple reason.
As Deus said in this very thread: I don't think you realize that you're not just going to wake up some day and say "OMG, the OIL (or whatever resource). . .it is ALL Gone!".
As the resources run out their price will grow, as they keep growing the prices of alternatives won't look as discouraging and we will switch to them.
Even now there is big incentive to develop alternative energy sources, and with time this incentive will only grow.

Very true. As the price of dealing with ouil becomes higher, all sorts of alternative solutions will become more and more attractive. At some point, they will become more profitable than oil, or we will switch over. this is one of the core tenets upon which the world is run. Always use the cheapest option in order to maximize profit.

The problem that I think Mugz is alluding to, is that it might not be as easy as all that to switch over to alternative fuels after the oil becomes to expensive.  In theory, sure, when plastic bags become to expensive it is more profitable to make paper bags, when gasoline cars become to expensive it is more advantegous to own ethanol fueled cars.

But research into these things isn't easy. It takes a lot of time, money, and energy. If all goes well, we will at some point spend a few years/decades/centuries more with energy prices that rise higher and higher before we come up with something that replaces oil. But what if we don't find it? What if no new energy source we find is capable of providing us with the same amount of energy for the same low price? What if nothing we come up with allows the infrastructure we've built upon cheap energy to continue functioning even in the least? It's hard to research alternate ways of producing power if you can't fire up your lab because of the high cost. It's hard to convert your factories to run on methane if you can't transport the new macinery there due to high energy prices.

Of course, as I've stated earlier, this is gloomy to the extreme. More probable than not, we're not going to fall back into some sort of Steampunk fantasy where "He who controls the oil, controls the universe". I just feel slightly worried that so many people just go "Crisis, nevermind, we'll have fusion in a few years!"
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Ivan Ivanov
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #110 on: October 12, 2006, 04:28:25 pm »

Of course, as I've stated earlier, this is gloomy to the extreme. More probable than not, we're not going to fall back into some sort of Steampunk fantasy where "He who controls the oil, controls the universe". I just feel slightly worried that so many people just go "Crisis, nevermind, we'll have fusion in a few years!"

That's understandable, but I on the other hand don't like it when people scream "THE SKY IS FALLING! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!". I don't like it even more when people who claim that the sky is falling advocate heavy government (or whatever) intervention.
In a situation where people will run around screaming about the end of the world, and generally having an 'give us anything but oil, or we'll cut your heads off' attitude, they might get... anything that isn't oil - regardless of it's efficiency, costs, and impact on the evironment.
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Mugz the Sane
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #111 on: October 14, 2006, 11:03:38 am »

Ah, well.
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #112 on: October 14, 2006, 09:55:14 pm »

That's understandable, but I on the other hand don't like it when people scream "THE SKY IS FALLING! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!".

Which is why we complement eachother so beautifully in threads such as these. I prefer to err on the safe side, and point out problems. This pessimism annoys you and you rebutt with positive projections. So I crank the old gloom-o-meter up a bit, and you counter with some Optimist RaysTM. At some point, we should just duke it out until we end up in position not quite unlike "APOCALYPSE WTF OIL BLOOD STONE AGE!!" and "HIPPY HIPPY FREE ENERGY MAN UTOPIA SHINY GRACE!". That could be quite interesting.

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I don't like it even more when people who claim that the sky is falling advocate heavy government (or whatever) intervention.

Still, not all things can be solved without intervention. Granted, it's very seldom effective, but it can be a first step on the road. Look at endeangered animals. Without protection many of them would have vbeen wiped out already. But even with some heavy-handed intervention they are still getting there. The solution can be to buy some time through interventions, and use that time to fix the problem. Of course, it doesn't always work.

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In a situation where people will run around screaming about the end of the world, and generally having an 'give us anything but oil, or we'll cut your heads off' attitude, they might get... anything that isn't oil - regardless of it's efficiency, costs, and impact on the evironment.

Did I hear someone say bioethanol?
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Mugz the Sane
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #113 on: October 16, 2006, 08:03:39 am »

The one gets lighter and the other gets darker. Hmmm. Maybe we should keep pushing this one until we manage to obtain a sustainable matter-antimatter reaction right here on the forum.
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #114 on: October 16, 2006, 02:17:45 pm »

Still, not all things can be solved without intervention. Granted, it's very seldom effective, but it can be a first step on the road. Look at endeangered animals. Without protection many of them would have vbeen wiped out already. But even with some heavy-handed intervention they are still getting there. The solution can be to buy some time through interventions, and use that time to fix the problem. Of course, it doesn't always work.

It's funny you mention endangered species protection.
I just got around watching an episode of Bullshit about this very subject.
It was about how it was handled in the States, so I understand it's different in other countries, but I wanted to discuss the mechanism itself.

One of the problems with the endangered speices legislation there, is that determining which species are endangered and which aren't is left to local authorities.
So if you have two adjectant areas, one has lots of animals of species X in one area, but only a few in the other, in one place they are considered endangered and protected, and in the other they're not.
The consequence of this is that in one place you are allowed to completely mow down the habitat that animals prefer (since most of them are living there, it follows that they prefer to live there), while you're not allowed to touch the place that they don't really like.

I know this can't be used as an argument agianst intervention in and of itself, but it describes the mechanism I was talking about perfectly.
If there's an angry mob screaming "Save the endangered species!", the focus is not on doing the job right, but on making the mob calm down. As a result, it is likely that the actions taken will do more harm then good.

If anyone's interested in the mentioned Bullshit episode, I think you can catch it on Google Video
here

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Did I hear someone say bioethanol?

Heh, I didn't really research ethanol, but there are quite a few things that come to mind, like the way recycling was implemented in my country - they set up a few containers so people would sort their trash, only to have it all dumped into the same truck's cargo hold.
Not to mention that recycling some stuff is more harmful to the environment then just producing more of it.
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #115 on: October 16, 2006, 04:22:18 pm »

The drawback to government intervention specifically is that governments have to kowtow to public opinion. The public very seldom agrees on what exactly it wants, yet knows precisely what it doesn't want. The government usually only finds out what the public doesn't want the hard way. (less frequent)

Alternately, the government doesn't give a damn about the majority of the public, choosing instead to cater to an unrepresentative minority of their supporters - NOT voters! - and generally being more interested in making themselves and their buddies rich(er) than in anything else.

Intervention to buy time to implement a solution is pretty much the only thing interventions are good for, although usually then it's too late anyway.

But then, cynicism compels me to remark that the time is always 'too late.'
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #116 on: October 17, 2006, 10:31:11 pm »

I don't mean to derail anything or sound unhip, but I'm afraid this whole topic is not really looking at the problem, just a side effect. The real issue is actually gloomier than even luki's take on the situation. Wink

The good news is there is no need for a search for alternative energy because there is plenty of energy sources.

But the problem is that there is just too damn many of us, and we are growing, growing, growing. In europe and america, we can cut back and live like hippies, but we are what? 500-600 million people? China and India are both becoming very modern, with a combined population of about 2,500 million. That's about 3 billion combined heavy consumers/polluters. So we all have to use something like 1/6 of the energy and create 1/6 the pollution of what we use/create today, just to keep things going as badly as they are now, in just these two respects (will get to the others later.) And that is not counting continued population growth in these nations (China revoked its one child per couple law in 2002, India still has a very high birth rate, US is growing heavily do to extreme immigration, EU is probably the slowest of the four.)

And for greens (such as myself,) I have more bad news, as the US and China have hordes of coal resources that will undoubtedly by used once the relatively "clean" petrol fossil fuels become way too expensive, and should be much cheaper than alternative energies outside of damns (ecologically destructive as well, but will also continue to be built.)

But fuel is also highly less noteworthy because we have so little essential things like water and especially food, whose shortages are increasingly aided by climactic instability.

So to create that ethanol (which has relatively very little energy per gallon when compared to standard gas) Mugz ain't going to be giving up the sugar in his morning coffee, he's going to be deciding whether to run his car and heat his house, or eat that day.

The US/EU liberal/progressive belief that utopia can be accomplished using alternative energy and careful resource usage, while turning a blind eye to the real problems of population growth and the resulting food/water shortage disasters, is about the same as believing everything is about to be taken care of by armageddon, as long as you follow strict religious law. It's just that to try and deal with the real problem takes so much away from our emotions and modern morals that it is too upleasant and hard to deal with for most people, so they simply don't, imo.

So to finish off my perfectly depressing rant, the only solutions you would find from biological and nuclear energies, would be from plagues and mushroom clouds. Wink

(Deus sweeps into first place for gloomiest human on the planet, leaving luki to have to settle for second.)
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Re: The upcoming energy crisis.
« Reply #117 on: October 18, 2006, 08:16:56 am »

'Too many humans, not enough space and resources to go around'.
(5 points to whoever can give me the source of that quote, +5 for the context)

What we need is a negative population growth for about, ohh, a millennium. How to achieve this?

The quickest way to halt and reverse population growth will be to do nothing. The resources will run out one day. It might be tomorrow, for all I know. We have now established this beyond any possible doubt. Loss of fossil fuels and other energy sources is admittedly minor. Food and water, now, that's a biggie. Global drought and famine, probably with a few plagues thrown in for good measure. It is going to be very biblical.

I don't think we'll have too many survivors. If there are survivors, well, good luck to them. They're going to NEED it.

It is going to be very interesting. Unpleasant, but interesting.
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