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A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt 2

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ralfy » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 19:00:34

kublikhan wrote:I disagree. There have been many collapses in history. And yet manufacturing, trade, mining, etc continued after the collapse. Activity levels may be curtailed, but they will not come to a halt. I would wager scrap collection/recycling will increase in important compared to today as new material entering the system starts to shrink.


I think the discussion involves collapse of a global economy, and given present circumstances:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... g-collapse

I don't think this ever took place in the past.

It should also be noted that using scraps and recycling have been taking place in much of the world for decades, but it is due to poverty, with much of the waste coming from businesses and the middle class.

Given that, it is highly unlikely that material resource use will shrink due to recycling. If any, it will have to increase given poverty and low ecological footprint per capita globally. If it shrinks, it will be cause of limits in biocapacity coupled with collapse due to environmental damage, global warming, conflict, and resource limitations.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby peripato » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 21:56:41

MonteQuest wrote:
kublikhan wrote: Dartnell seems a bit more optimistic than Brown:

The Industrial Revolution was powered largely by fossil energy. Most of these easily accessible fossil energy sources —deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas—have now been mined toward depletion. Without access to such readily available energy, how could a civilization following ours haul itself through a second industrial revolution? The solution, as we'll see, will lie in an early adoption of renewable energy sources and careful recycling of assets—sustainable development will likely be forced on the next civilization out of sheer necessity: a green reboot.


What utter hogwash. The population's existence was also powered by fossil energy. He doesn't mention the severe population contraction. McGyver skills will be needed to just survive, much less rebuild a second industrial revolution.

We'll look at how best to cannibalize components and scavenge materials from the detritus of the dead civilization: the post-apocalyptic world will demand ingenuity in repurposing, tinkering, and jury-rigging.

A Mad Max scenario hosted by the scattered remnants of the apocalypse.


The future, post-collapse will be one of utter gut-wrenching survival. Attempts to restore anything resembling what came before would be as likely as finding a week with two Tuesdays.

We also know that during periods of great discontinuity in the past when other civilisations collapsed they never re-appeared. Their populations scattered and lost the knowledge that came with them.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ennui2 » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:10:03

onlooker wrote:I think your underlying assertion Ennui is that we doomers are invested emotionally into the narrative of doom. That is not true.


It's absolutely true. You have your narrative and I have mine. Better to admit it and try to see outside the box than to keep resisting the notion.

onlooker wrote: We are simply observing and making conclusions about those observations.


Consciously, yes, but that analysis is colored by unconscious desires, fears, and axes to grind.

onlooker wrote:In regards to Monte's seemingly wishing for a die-off well I will not speak for him but my understanding is that he simply alludes to the fact that anything at this point that is done to stave off the correction to overshoot, will make the die-off that much worse in the future. Trying to somehow put off die-off now will probably mean greater die-off in the future. Meaning going deeper into overshoot.


I know his position well because it's exactly what I sparred with him on about a decade ago. At that time there were also virulent anti-civ advocates who also spoke out of both sides of their mouth, presumably humanitarians, and yet also kind of hoping for a die-off or end to civilization as we know it.

And intellectually I understand the logic. Al Bartlett's left and right hand list. What tends to happen, though, is a sort of doomer cognitive dissonance where you advocate mitigation part of the time and standing-down and letting nature take its course the other. If you're gonna make a stand, be consistent. Don't flip-flop. That's all.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ennui2 » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:18:00

pstarr wrote:Monte, it might not be a Mad Max scenerio. The steel, concrete, lumber, pipes and glass were refined from mined ores and forests at great cost in energy and ecological damage will not disappear and can be re-purposed. The energy embodied in the construction of this doomed infrastructure still exists in a way. Much of it is re-usable.


You are actually describing the Mad Max scenario. Mad Max was about cannibalizing the leftovers of civilization. They were still driving ICE vehicles produced pre-crash like an extended Cuba situation. There were just a hell of a lot fewer of them than in the heyday and they were powered by refinery oases. Kind of demand destruction to the nth degree allowing for an extended long tail to the FF era.

Now, if you want to go full-on olduvai theory than yeah, stone knives and bear skins. But that will take a while.

pstarr wrote:I actually see a future, business opportunities even, in total infrastructure recycling.


Just think of the ultimate recycling. Soylent Green!

Image

Ah, nothing like a good old fashioned doomer porn thread, and all the more timely with <$2 gasoline! Grab your popcorn folks! The end is more nigh than ever before!
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:37:35

pstarr wrote:Monte, it might not be a Mad Max scenerio. The steel, concrete, lumber, pipes and glass were refined from mined ores and forests at great cost in energy and ecological damage will not disappear and can be re-purposed. The energy embodied in the construction of this doomed infrastructure still exists in a way. Much of it is re-usable.


Oh, I don't dispute that--once the dust settles. It's before that where the struggles will unfold.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:42:48

ennui2 wrote: And intellectually I understand the logic. Al Bartlett's left and right hand list. What tends to happen, though, is a sort of doomer cognitive dissonance where you advocate mitigation part of the time and standing-down and letting nature take its course the other. If you're gonna make a stand, be consistent. Don't flip-flop. That's all.


Flip-flops are a matter of perspective. Ecological ethics often appear at odds.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:45:06

ennui2 wrote:Ah, nothing like a good old fashioned doomer porn thread, and all the more timely with <$2 gasoline! Grab your popcorn folks! The end is more nigh than ever before!


I actually find the irony in that quite funny. 8)
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby Shaved Monkey » Wed 13 Jan 2016, 22:46:26

The fine art of bridging the gap from anger to acceptance.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby kublikhan » Fri 15 Jan 2016, 02:19:01

ralfy wrote:I think the discussion involves collapse of a global economy, and given present circumstances:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... g-collapse

I don't think this ever took place in the past.
It's true, the world was much less interconnected back then. However that cuts both ways: If their collapsing empire was their "world", and if many of the factors that led up to the collapse are similar to now, then I think prior collapses should still be studied.

Causes of collapse
Common factors that may contribute to societal collapse are economical, environmental, social and cultural, and disruptions in one domain sometimes cascade into others. In some cases a natural disaster (e.g. tsunami, earthquake, massive fire or climate change) may precipitate a collapse. Other factors such as a Malthusian catastrophe, overpopulation or resource depletion might be the proximate cause of collapse.
Societal collapse

ralfy wrote:It should also be noted that using scraps and recycling have been taking place in much of the world for decades, but it is due to poverty, with much of the waste coming from businesses and the middle class.
Recycling is more than just the poor scavenging the garbage of the middle class. Most of new steel today comes from scrap rather than raw ore. Aluminum could see even great gains from recycling. It takes just 5% of the energy to recycle aluminum as it does to create it from raw ore. Yet less than a third of the aluminum in this country is recycled.

peripato wrote:We also know that during periods of great discontinuity in the past when other civilizations collapsed they never re-appeared. Their populations scattered and lost the knowledge that came with them.
Not always. When the Greek and Roman empires collapsed, their knowledge was carried on through the new Islamic empires which reached a golden age after the collapse of the Greeks and Romans. This knowledge later found it's way back to Europe and kicked off the Renaissance.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ralfy » Fri 15 Jan 2016, 19:08:25

kublikhan wrote:It's true, the world was much less interconnected back then. However that cuts both ways: If their collapsing empire was their "world", and if many of the factors that led up to the collapse are similar to now, then I think prior collapses should still be studied.


Unfortunately, their "world" is not the same as ours. That is, there is no other planet we can go to when things get worse.

Recycling is more than just the poor scavenging the garbage of the middle class. Most of new steel today comes from scrap rather than raw ore. Aluminum could see even great gains from recycling. It takes just 5% of the energy to recycle aluminum as it does to create it from raw ore. Yet less than a third of the aluminum in this country is recycled.


Given the amount of material resources and energy needed to meet basic needs, we will need more than just recycling:

https://theconversation.com/if-everyone ... uble-43905

And that's assuming that global population does not increase further and pollution levels off (as shown in the previous article).
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby kublikhan » Sat 16 Jan 2016, 16:33:27

ralfy wrote:Unfortunately, their "world" is not the same as ours. That is, there is no other planet we can go to when things get worse.
The bulk of the population of collapsing empires did not flee either. The Romans, Inca, etc died off from plagues, warfare, etc. There were more people migrating to these regions than away from.

The Roman Empire suffered the severe and protracted Antonine Plague starting around 165 AD. For about twenty years, waves of one or more diseases, possibly the first epidemics of smallpox and/or measles, swept through the Empire, ultimately killing about half the population. Similar epidemics, such as the Plague of Cyprian, also occurred in the 3rd century. McNeill argues that the severe fall in population left the state apparatus and army too large for the population to support, leading to further economic and social decline that eventually killed the Western Empire. Economically, depopulation led to the impoverishment of East and West as economic ties among different parts of the empire weakened. Increasing raids by barbarians further strained the economy and further reduced the population, mostly in the West. In areas near the Rhine and Danube frontiers, raids by barbarians killed Romans and disrupted commerce. Raids also forced Romans into walled towns and cities furthering the spread of pathogens and increasing the rate of depopulation in the West. A low population and weak economy forced Rome to use barbarians in the Roman Army to defend against other barbarians.
Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire

The effects of smallpox on the Inca empire were even more devastating. Beginning in Colombia, smallpox spread rapidly before the Spanish invaders first arrived in the empire. The spread was probably aided by the efficient Inca road system. Within a few years smallpox claimed between 60% and 94% of the Inca population, with other waves of European disease weakening them further. Smallpox was only the first epidemic. Typhus (probably) in 1546, influenza and smallpox together in 1558, smallpox again in 1589, diphtheria in 1614, measles in 1618 – all ravaged the remains of Inca culture.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 17 Jan 2016, 01:24:06

kublikhan wrote:The bulk of the population of collapsing empires did not flee either. The Romans, Inca, etc died off from plagues, warfare, etc. There were more people migrating to these regions than away from.

The Roman Empire suffered the severe and protracted Antonine Plague starting around 165 AD. For about twenty years, waves of one or more diseases, possibly the first epidemics of smallpox and/or measles, swept through the Empire, ultimately killing about half the population. Similar epidemics, such as the Plague of Cyprian, also occurred in the 3rd century. McNeill argues that the severe fall in population left the state apparatus and army too large for the population to support, leading to further economic and social decline that eventually killed the Western Empire. Economically, depopulation led to the impoverishment of East and West as economic ties among different parts of the empire weakened. Increasing raids by barbarians further strained the economy and further reduced the population, mostly in the West. In areas near the Rhine and Danube frontiers, raids by barbarians killed Romans and disrupted commerce. Raids also forced Romans into walled towns and cities furthering the spread of pathogens and increasing the rate of depopulation in the West. A low population and weak economy forced Rome to use barbarians in the Roman Army to defend against other barbarians.
Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire

The effects of smallpox on the Inca empire were even more devastating. Beginning in Colombia, smallpox spread rapidly before the Spanish invaders first arrived in the empire. The spread was probably aided by the efficient Inca road system. Within a few years smallpox claimed between 60% and 94% of the Inca population, with other waves of European disease weakening them further. Smallpox was only the first epidemic. Typhus (probably) in 1546, influenza and smallpox together in 1558, smallpox again in 1589, diphtheria in 1614, measles in 1618 – all ravaged the remains of Inca culture.
Inca Empire


The global population that time was much smaller, did not have heavily depend on fossil-fuel driven industrialization to keep infant mortality rates low and allow life expectancy rates to rise significantly, and did not face combinations of pollution on a global scale coupled with global warming. And the fact that several societies still collapsed makes matters worse.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 13:30:05

Advanced “renewable” technologies like wind and solar will, like oil, peak, and then go into terminal decline, as they are based upon non-renewable resources.

The developed industrial world was not only built on fossil fuels, it was built for fossil fuels, as can be readily observed by just looking out the window. Building this vast fossil fuel infrastructure of the modern world has been by far the greatest construction project in human history. It took over a 150 years to lay the vast network of fossil fuel pipelines that crisscrosses the US.

Image

Now we have to replace most of this vast infrastructure with something built for renewable energies, mostly in the form of electricity or storage mediums from batteries to hydrogen. We have to be able to build, maintain, and replace this new infrastructure system with different energy generators, different vehicles, and industrial processes, without using petroleum-based materials like plastics on any scale approaching what we have done in the past. Sure, all plastic that can be recycled, will be recycled, but new plastic containers will need to be replaced with glass or metal. That endeavor alone is beyond my comprehension to grasp. Usable pre-peak plastic containers will be worth their weight in gold.

While we have fossil fuels to do this, we can build a lot of infrastructure to support such a future, and we are doing just that, however, not at a rate fast enough to stop the continued build-out of our infrastructure devoted to fossil fuels, nor garner a significant share of the world energy pie.

If, somehow, we were able to get in place an infrastructure to replace the FF based one, how would we maintain it, or replace it when it became deteriorated without fossil fuels? Unless a second generation of sustainable energy ideas based on truly sustainable resources is established, the renewable light could be in danger of dimming, and then going out.

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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 14:00:10

Given the difficulty of completely transitioning off of oil, I think it would be wise to first look at a transition phase and how and where cuts will likely come from. The vast majority of oil consumption is IMHO also the least important: personal vehicles. Less than a quarter of oil is used for industrial purposes. I think these purposes are more valuable than personal vehicles use and thus should be cut last.

IMHO, these are the areas that should be cut first in oil consumption:
1. Oil used for electricity generation
2. Oil used for heating
3. Oil used for personal vehicles

And these should be cut last:
1. Oil used for agricultural needs
2. Oil used for plastics
3. Oil used for shipping
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 14:15:54

kublikhan wrote: The vast majority of oil consumption is IMHO also the least important: personal vehicles. Less than a quarter of oil is used for industrial purposes. I think these purposes are more valuable than personal vehicles use and thus should be cut last.


Least important? More valuable? To whom?

These cuts would have the most disruptive economic impact. The developed world was build to support these uses on a scale to the point of calling it the "American love affair with the automobile". Cut out the car and you cut out brick and mortar businesses from car washes to auto parts, car repair, fast food, insurance, etc.

Cut out personal vehicles includes ATV's, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, boats, airplanes, and NASCAR and all the associated paraphernalia.

If you put it up for a vote, you would get a different answer from everybody. One man's waste is another man's job.

But maybe recreational energy use would be a good place to start. NASCAR would be hard to defend. :roll:
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby kublikhan » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 14:50:46

The cuts are coming so they have to come from somewhere. I think few would vote for cutting the food supply. Thought I suppose switching to a more vegan diet would save a good chunk of fuel. Although this would be unpopular as well.

Although a vote such as that would not be my preferred choice for influencing policy. As a first step I would prefer to see EU style gas taxes in the US. Then let market forces push these decisions. I would expect the high levels of miles driven and vehicle ownership per capita in the US would then start to fall. Perhaps people would start to warm up to mass transit as well. Although I think the lower density and longer distances in the US would still leave mass transit in the US at a disadvantage compared to Japan and Europe, not to mention our ill advised city layout with sprawling suburbs.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby MonteQuest » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 15:36:31

kublikhan wrote:As a first step I would prefer to see EU style gas taxes in the US. Then let market forces push these decisions. I would expect the high levels of miles driven and vehicle ownership per capita in the US would then start to fall. Perhaps people would start to warm up to mass transit as well.


Not if you have job losses and businesses bankruptcies on a daily basis. There is no way to unwind the economy without chaos. We will find scapegoats, then we will hoard, and then we will fight over the resources.
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Re: A Critical Discussion the Limits to Renewable Energy Pt

Unread postby ralfy » Mon 18 Jan 2016, 22:30:18

I remember reading a short comment about it in a DOE page once, but I can't find it at the moment. From what I remember, it was said that for the U.S. and some developed countries, oil is used more for passenger vehicles, etc. However, for the rest of world (which makes up the majority of the world population), it is used more for manufacturing, electricity, infrastructure, and other basic needs.

Perhaps one can see this in light of passenger vehicles. The U.S. has something like 250 million of such vehicles registered, but that's around a quarter of vehicles worldwide, and for less than 5 pct of the world's population. Other countries might not have enough of such vehicles, with ratios of one vehicle (i.e., not just passenger vehicles but any type of vehicle or side car that needs a license plate) for every fifteen people or so.

There may be enough vehicles, construction materials, etc., worldwide per capita, but in order to ensure that basic needs are met they will have to be distributed evenly across the globe. That will require governments working with each other and enforcing distribution of private property, etc., the dismantling of the current global economy together with any military forces that might impede distribution, etc. In short, the complete opposite of what has been taking place for many decades. That is highly unlikely.

Finally, such a scenario assumes that there is more than enough in terms of biocapacity per capita. That may also be questioned:

https://theconversation.com/if-everyone ... uble-43905
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