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“There’s No App for That” — Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg published his excellent and influential book, The Party’s Over, the same year as The Long Emergency and we met many times since then on the conference circuit. Richard is Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute. He’s the author of 13 award-winning books, including six on the subject of fossil fuel depletion. He has written for Nature, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and The Christian Science Monitor among other publications, and has delivered hundreds of lectures on energy and climate issues to audiences around the world. You may be interested in his latest essay at the Post Carbon Inst website: There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss. His latest books are: Our Renewable Future (with David Fridley) Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.

JHK Recommends David McAlvaney’s Weekly Commentary Podcast: https://mcalvanyweeklycommentary.com

Direct download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/kunstlercast/KunstlerCast_294.mp3
Please send questions and comments to jhkunstler@mac.com.


38 Comments on "“There’s No App for That” — Richard Heinberg"

  1. onlooker on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 1:46 pm 

    Limits to Growth is a very simple concept if you look at it. It involves basic physics and physical laws. One is you cannot have indefinite growth on a finite planet. Also,that the environment can provide for only so many organisms. And that the environment can only tolerate a limited amount of waster produced by the organisms within it. Finally, that we are not God and cannot produce healthy air, water, soil, food etc. out of thin air.

  2. GregT on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 2:26 pm 

    “Limits to Growth is a very simple concept if you look at it.”

    Then it stands to reason that the humans aren’t looking at it, or perhaps just doing their best to ignore it. Whatever the reason, growth is still the mantra.

  3. onlooker on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 2:36 pm 

    Well, I would categorize the people this way Greg.
    1. Those who are understand but are not communicating it ie. the very poor subsistence farmers etc.
    2. Those who are involuntarily oblivious because of lack of information ie. the masses of poor living in cities
    3. The majority in rich country who are intentionally denying this and/or ignoring it
    4. The minority in rich countries who know what is going on and are trying to be heard ie. us.
    5. the wealthy elite and power holders who are trying to quell the truth. Some know, some suspect and probably some also are willfully oblivious.

  4. Boat on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 3:36 pm 

    Thankfully technology is making huge advancements. One product, the tv is a good example. About 15 years ago it would take $1800 for a 48″. The thing was a monster box weighing close to 125 lbs. Fast forward to today a 48″ is less than $500 and weighs less than 50 lb. The picture is better and is more energy efficient.
    Does this modern miracle of enhanced living help the rise in GDP, alas no. Does it have a smaller recycle footprint? Why yes it does. Less growth for the US 200 billion recycle industry. Will it use less energy? Along with using less energy 10 percent is the new record in the US for renewable penetration for electricity.

    For the first time, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in the United States, based on March data in EIA’s Electric Power Monthly. Electricity generation from both of these energy sources has grown with increases in wind and solar generating capacity. On an annual basis, wind and solar made up 7% of total U.S. electric generation in 2016.

    https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31632

  5. onlooker on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 3:48 pm 

    Yes, Boat, you and Clog have been quite adamant that technology will save us. Mr. Heinberg is not so optimistic. I am sure Mr. Heinberg will welcome your insights as he probably has not considered them yet. Boat, technology is like growth, it is a false God. It just allows us to postpone maybe the day of reckoning a little more while throwing us ever more out of balance with the natural processes which allow for any life to exist.

  6. vegeholic on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 4:22 pm 

    A couple of current developments: Cummins Diesel has announced an electric version of the classic tractor for hauling trailers on the highway. claim is 300 mile range and charging time 1 hour. Tesla claims to have an imminent announcement for a similar vehicle with greater range than this. I share the skepticism of many that this would really a step forward, but it is interesting. Maybe it keeps BAU going along until i am comfortably in my grave.

  7. Cloggie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 4:34 pm 

    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/08/30/class-7-short-haul-electric-truck-cummins-revealed/

    It has a 145 kWh battery and can haul a 22 ton trailer for up to 100 miles. Thanks to its advanced technology, recharging takes only an hour using a 140 kW charger. The Cummins power train won’t go into production until 2019 and the company expects charging times will have dropped to around 20 minutes by then.

  8. Cloggie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 4:41 pm 

    Yes, Boat, you and Clog have been quite adamant that technology will save us.

    Minute amendment: if you run out of fossil then it makes sense to look out for something else.

    If the claim is that fossil fuel is heating up our atmosphere, permafrost and oceans and that this is not good for organic life on the planet than it also makes sense to lookout for a replacement for fossil fuel.

    In both cases that would be Renewable energy or fusion, with the first having the advantage that it actually works.

    That’s the techie message.

    For more religious tainted concepts like “saving us”, I need to refer to the local vicar, priest, imam or rabbi.

    Chief Seattle would do as well.

  9. Boat on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:01 pm 

    onlooker,

    ” Boat, technology is like growth, it is a false God. It just allows us to postpone maybe the day of reckoning a little more while throwing us ever more out of balance with the natural processes which allow for any life to exist”.

    Exactly, delaying the crash is a noble goal and delaying the deaths of billions even better. If we humans get better at tech and efficiency who knows how long we can stretch it out.
    I am close to being convinced were good for 20 years. That will put me at 80, so tech has done enough for me to ride it out. Here’s to tech saving the next 20 years after mine.

  10. Cloggie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:05 pm 

    Listen to the sound the Cummins truck doesn’t make!

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/cummins-all-electric-class-7-truck-revealed/

  11. onlooker on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:05 pm 

    Well, Renewable energy at best will allow a segment of the populations in rich countries to maintain their lifestyles a while longer. It will not allow Modern Industrial world wide civilization to continue because of the impacts of said Civilization in many pernicious ways. It will not allow our species to avoid a massive die off. It will not stop climate change at best mitigate some of its worse impacts. And this is partly because it cannot be employed on a mass world wide scale. And in part because it does not address other consequences of our extreme overshoot of our planetary environment. In fact in certain ways it could over the long terms make it worse by allowing Modern Civilization to further damage the life sustaining properties of this planet and by perhaps allowing a still too large human population to continue to exist.

  12. Boat on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:32 pm 

    onlooker,

    “It will not allow our species to avoid a massive die off”.

    Before you go worrying about a massive die off let’s first reach the population peak climate change allows. Got a prediction?

  13. Cloggie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:47 pm 

    Another slap in the face of your regular doomer:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/lithium-not-goodenough-solid-state-batteries-for-electric-cars/

    New battery with three times higher energy density/liter developed in Texas.

    Secret: solid state electrolyte rather than fluids. Are you ready for the glass battery?

  14. sunweb on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 5:52 pm 

    Read it first, look at the numbers, look at the area required, check the references:
    Many materials used in our industrial world require energy from mining to manufacturing for processing and transportation. The energy for some of these products is in the form of high temperatures – 2000° F (nearly 1100°C).

    There are proposals that solar and wind energy collecting devices can provide the energy to maintain the industrial world. To look at this possibility, solar electric panels, wind turbines and concentrated solar installations in the form of parabolic trough collectors (PTC) have been assessed.

    The energy requirements in 2010 for the following essential components of our industrial world are provided: steel, aluminum, chromium, copper, manganese, cement and glass. This energy would be mining, processing and transporting to name some. Other important components of the industrialized world such as nickel and cobalt are not considered because they are part of the high temperature processing of other ore metals.

    The kWh output and area required for installations of solar electric panels, wind turbines and PTC has been researched. This then is divided into the energy (exajoules converted to kWh) required for global production of each material in 2010.
    NEEDED
    121,214.45 Square Miles of Solar Electric Collectors
    257,472 square miles and 2,807,276 Wind Turbines
    77183.4 square miles of PTCs
    There are many other critical components of our global industrialized world that require industrial heat (lead, silver, tin, food processing) that are right at the top heating limit of solar devices. They must also be included in an all “renewable” future. If only half of important materials were provided, what would our world be like?

    See maps, images and calculations at:
    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2017/08/heat-for-tomorrow-many-materials-used.html

  15. GregT on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 6:30 pm 

    Boat,

    Do you honestly consider a TV to be a ‘modern miracle of enhanced living’. Seriously?

    I haven’t watched any considerable amount of television for over 30 years. I find it to be a complete waste of time, and an insult on one’s intelligence. Definitely not what I would call ‘enhanced living’, or even close to being a miracle. Television is a means by which propaganda can be spread to the masses in the comfort of their own homes. Nothing more.

  16. GregT on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 6:45 pm 

    Boat,

    “I am close to being convinced were good for 20 years. ”

    If population continues to grow at the current rate, which it is expected to do, there will be an extra 2 billion more people to add to a die off, in about 25 years.That doesn’t exactly sound like such a great plan.

  17. Boat on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 7:08 pm 

    Harvey was a large storm in a modern industrial society. In 3rd world countries the loss of life would have been in the hundreds of thousands instead of a couple dozen. You talk of plans…”If population continues to grow at the current rate, which it is expected to do”. I see much less population growth 20 years down the road as the climate takes it’s toll.
    If I were to make a wild guess, in twenty years peak population will be fairly accurately estimated.

  18. LetStupidPeopleDie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 7:18 pm 

    Richard is just a fraud. The lost of biodiversity has been explain a long time ago by genetic entropy. John Sanford talk about it. Everything that uses DNA will eventually die and go extinct.

    Google Joseph Muller and cancer genetic entropy

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Joseph_Muller

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muller%27s_ratchet

    Some geneticist estimate that human have only 400 years to go before human DNA become too damage to produce humans.

    There is plenty of university paper written by doctors investigating genetic entropy as the cause of cancer. Here is a sample

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muller%27s_ratchet
    Google

  19. LetStupidPeopleDie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 7:20 pm 

    Bad link. Here is an example of paper about cancer and genetic entropy

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muller%27s_ratchet

  20. LetStupidPeopleDie on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 7:21 pm 

    Here is the correct link. I have brain freeze

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3843370/

  21. GregT on Wed, 30th Aug 2017 7:32 pm 

    “If I were to make a wild guess, in twenty years peak population will be fairly accurately estimated.”

    Your wild guess does not jive with population growth estimates by pretty much anybody in the scientific community, except for perhaps a very few, like Guy McPherson. The ultimate doomer.

  22. Cloggie on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 12:54 am 

    “Here is the correct link. I have brain freeze”

    You know what will happen to stupid people?

  23. Cloggie on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 3:55 am 

    @sunweb – why is it impossible to build 1-2 million wind towers that last at least 30 years, where it is very well possible to build more than 1 billion cars every ten years or so, including the infrastructure and oil tankers to provide for the fuel?

  24. Davy on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 4:41 am 

    “@sunweb – why is it impossible to build 1-2 million wind towers that last at least 30 years, where it is very well possible to build more than 1 billion cars every ten years or so, including the infrastructure and oil tankers to provide for the fuel?”

    Well, we also need to build another 1BIL cars and infrastructure along with 1-2million wind towers. It is not a switch out or a tradeoff. It is an all of the above. Add to that all the other things that need to be built then ask yourself how long can this go on. We may be at that point where “what –is” is all we can do. You do agree there is such a point, right?

  25. Cloggie on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 7:56 am 

    Do not agree. By making the car part of the public transport system and exploit the possibilities of IT and location aware smartphones, you can genetate the same transportation effort with 20% of the car fleet by ensuring a near 100% occupation rate. That frees a lot of car manufacturing resources, not to mention renewable fuel.

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/by-2030-you-wont-own-a-car/

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/the-world-of-autonomous-e-vehicles-according-to-daimler-and-bosch/

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/intel-in-autonomous-cars/

  26. Jan Steinman on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 9:22 am 

    The techno-cornucopians ignore one important fact: all our resources are in decline, not just energy or carbon buffering.

    We used to get kilograms of metal from tonnes of ore. Now we get grams, largely thanks to burning more energy. What happens when we only get milligrams?

    HT Odum taught us that complexity (such as high technology) is actually a function of energy. We cannot maintain or expand high-tech without more energy.

  27. Cloggie on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 9:32 am 

    The techno-cornucopians ignore one important fact: all our resources are in decline, not just energy or carbon buffering.

    There are no cornucopians on this board.

    Not every resource is in decline:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2016/08/17/10-solar-energy-facts-charts-everyone-know/

    We used to get kilograms of metal from tonnes of ore. Now we get grams, largely thanks to burning more energy. What happens when we only get milligrams?

    You can get very large returns from recycled scrap metal. Besides your referring to grams or milligrams is bogus; iron is abundant:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_ore

    Export grade DSO ores are generally in the 62–64% Fe range

  28. sunweb on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 10:16 am 

    Cloggie – your response are pure entertainment. Using your beloved off shore wind turbines akin to the London Array just to provide the high heat for the seven processes in the essay (and there are more) in would require:
    312315 square miles of wind turbines
    and
    797400 Wind Turbines.
    or the ALTA WIND FARM
    30985 square miles of wind turbines
    3718200 Wind Turbines (would have to cover all of Norway) regardless of siting.
    On top of this, these installations wouldn’t be near the source of the mineral.
    I so enjoy your groping.

  29. sunweb on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 10:22 am 

    Cloggie – more fun and games.
    “With the case of copper, the study has shown that the average copper ore grade is decreasing over time, while the energy consumption and the total material production in the mine increases. Analyzing only copper mines, the average ore grade has decreased approximately by 25% in just ten years. In that same period, the total energy consumption has increased at a higher rate than production (46% energy increase over 30% production increase).”
    Also consider the total energy needed to recycle anything. And the heat requirements are the same.
    http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/5/4/36/htm

  30. Cloggie on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 10:31 am 

    Sure sunweb, we in Europe are all nuts who have no clue what we are doing (apart from being the original inventors of science and technology).

    But by all means sunweb, keep dissing renewable energy and put your country at a distance, where the rest of the world is racing ahead with renewable energy.

    312315 square miles of wind turbines

    Your point? We have that space in Europe:

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/the-enormous-energy-potential-of-the-north-sea/

    600,000 km2

    https://deepresource.wordpress.com/2017/08/20/sif-the-wind-tower-company/

    Offshore windpower growth rates:
    2015 – 386
    2016 – 560

    50% growth rate. Sustain that for a couple of years to arrive at a few thousand wind towers per year times 30 is more than 100,000 wind towers in the North Sea.

    Europe installed 6.1 GW in Q1+Q2. That would be 1200 5MW towers

    http://gwec.net/europe-adds-6-1-gw-of-wind-energy-capacity-in-first-half-of-2017/

    But sunweb, if America volunteers to retreat to the prairie and live in tents, please go ahead and “enjoy my groping”.

  31. sunweb on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 11:25 am 

    Those Chinese invented nothing.
    Cloggie – thank you so much for the entertainment.

  32. GregT on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 11:29 am 

    “we in Europe are all nuts who have no clue what we are doing (apart from being the original inventors of science and technology).”

    Not ALL Europeans are nuts Cloggie, just the ones that believe in ‘sustainable development’, and infinite exponential growth in a finite environment. A little secret for you, (shhhh don’t let the word get out), surplus energy is what drives science and technology, which happen to be destroying the biosphere that the humans will not survive without.

  33. onlooker on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 11:55 am 

    Clog, I recommend a book for you by Richard Heinberg “Peak Everything”. You are being minimalistic. Or seeing the trees but not the forest. This world Civilization was a one time thing, I have become convinced of that. It has depleted many resources including the most important energy. It has unraveled the Ecosystems functioning to very dangerous levels. The only possible way to correct all this is if several billion disappeared. Oh will be chosen and who will chose. We are living on the fumes now of our past glory. We will almost certaily will never see on this planet another Civilization as large,modern or industrial as this one nor a population as large as we have now. And to boot we in fact will be desperately trying to not become extinct if anything like past climate change epochs transpires.

  34. onlooker on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 11:57 am 

    sorry who will be chosen

  35. Anonymouse1 on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 1:51 pm 

    Thank goodness for advanced tech. Now, retards like boatietard can sit in their mobile homes, glued to their financed flat-screen TV’s, hanging on every word from CNN and the 700 club.

    Does this modern miracle of enhanced brainwashing help the rise in GDP?, alas no.
    Does it have a smaller retard footprint? Why yes it does! It keeps retards like boatietard largely confined to their mobile homes, Nascar races, Wall-Mart), and off the streets. More efficient TVs means more boatietards can be kept in state of permanent stupefaction while using less energy and space. A win-win.

    So, whats on the idiot box to-nite , retard?

  36. Sissyfuss on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 2:00 pm 

    Uh oh, OL. You probably just triggered an epileptic seizure for the Cloggennator. Akin to mentioning Niagra Falls to Curly Joe. The Clogoputzer has illuminated us on his rejection and disgust for one Heiberg of Dick. I hope he will find it in his atrophied heart to forgive you of this major sin. If not, I’d suggest you uproot your family to some South American banana republic and not one that is harboring members of the Third Reich for Clogstapo will be frequenting those locales on a regular basis. Good luck, we’re all behind you. Way behind you.

  37. Apneaman on Thu, 31st Aug 2017 2:21 pm 

    Hey clog, ever hear of Al-Battani?

    “Albategnius, Albategni or Albatenius) (c. 858 – 929) was an Arab[1] astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician. He introduced a number of trigonometric relations, and his Kitāb az-Zīj was frequently quoted by many medieval astronomers, including Copernicus.”

    “Al-Battānī’s work is considered instrumental in the development of science and astronomy.[3] Copernicus quoted him in the book that initiated the Copernican Revolution, the De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, where his name is mentioned no fewer than 23 times,[6] and also mentioned in the Commentariolus.[7] Al-Battānī was frequently quoted by Tycho Brahe, Riccioli, among others. Kepler and Galileo showed interest in some of his observations,[2] and his data continues to be used in geophysics”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Battani

    That’s right. Copernicus got many of his ideas from him and even says so in his own writings. Copernicus was far from the only so called renaissance European scientist and inventor whose writings contains mentions of medieval Islamic scholars and scientists who helped and inspired them. They never told you that in white supremacist school? They knew, but chose to write it out of history, but could not do it without destroying the writings of the very scientists and thinkers they were trying to make gods of. Did not fit with the story. The euros still deserve their credit, but so do all the others going back to the Sumerians, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and medieval Islamic thinkers. It’s a chain.

  38. Cloggie on Fri, 1st Sep 2017 10:09 am 

    Albategnius, Albategni or Albatenius

    OOOhhh, how could I have forgotten Albategnius, Albategni or Albatenius!? Shame on me. Send in all these raw diamonds, these gold pieces from Africa, Arabia and what not and to increase the civilizational level of backward-places like Europe and America.

    Seriously, why don’t you stick ’em in a kosher place where the sun doesn’t shine?

    Back to reality…

    America’s origin Columbus decapitated:

    https://www.axios.com/christopher-columbus-statue-beheaded-in-new-york-2479930574.html

    Our Peter Stuyvesant is probably targeted next, tik-tak, tik-tak:

    http://nypost.com/2017/08/24/jewish-activists-target-removal-of-peter-stuyvesant-monuments/

    All frontal attacks against white America. And that’s OK as it will increase their despair with present day America and lowers the threshold to leave the Union, causing some major geopolitical upward mobility for the (violins please) Mother Civilization.

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