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Ecology - Ed's journal
Every now and then, I am engaged in a discussion about the future of the world. Things like recycling and energy efficiency come up.
Things like the intrinsic cruelty implicit in industrialised agriculture, and how actually a cow is actually quite expensive in terms of the food it consumes over it's lifespan.

And then we often get onto energy security - rates of consumption of oil. And how we should all be moving over to wind power, because that's basically free, and how 'people' like the idea of more, cheap and plentiful power, but don't like the idea of living near a powerstation.

But here's the problem. All these things seem rather a lot like ... well, frankly treating the symptoms, not the disease. Rearranging deck chairs on the titanic if you will.

You see, even if we did really well, and halved our waste levels overnight... that gives us a little under 50 years before we're back to square one, at the current rate of population growth. The disease, if you will, is humanity - geometric population growth of a greedy self centered mammals.

I mean, we're already at a point where there is just not enough farm land on the earth to support everyone in a fashion comparable to the 'average western lifestyle'.

Am I being a pessimist, or is it really the case that we're playing a game of global "chicken" with 6 billion participants?
5 comments or Leave a comment
jorune From: jorune Date: November 25th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I type "peak oil" into google I get 2.5 million hits. Watch out Alice, you're about to enter a very big rabbit hole. Good luck trying to determine truth from fiction down there.
xarrion From: xarrion Date: November 25th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
We've been having that discussion internally at work for years :)
mcnazgul From: mcnazgul Date: November 26th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
People have been talking about this for years but nobody appears at the higher strata of our society to be willing to actually do something about it.

And why would they? They're not the ones who will feel the bite for a little while yet.

We aren't playing chicken. We're failing.
darkgodfred From: darkgodfred Date: November 26th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Grab the PDF version of http://www.withouthotair.com/ It's a reasonably entertaining 'back of envelope' maths analysis of renewable energy (and non-renewable) and what it actually means.
(Deleted comment)
sobrique From: sobrique Date: November 27th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think we'll ever reach the stars.
Quite simply, there is nothing out there for us - all the planets we've found so far have 'heavy' elements buried so deep they're next to impossible to get at, and the planets themselves are ... well uninhabitable.

I think we'll find it's impossible to sustain life elsewhere without the chain back to Earth - at which point you're still talking about economizing, not solving the core of the problem.

The one thing I can see happening is technological singularity within the solar system - everyone 'going virtual'.

But ... 50 years isn't so very long - think about when we did the last (manned) mission outside earth orbit, and how far we've come since?
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