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Resources Are Infinite

 
 
davidm
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 May, 2010 06:41 pm
@Pepijn Sweep,
I haven't read this whole thread, just scanned it; but reading the OP the first thing that popped into my mind was, ho-hum, Julian Simon. And a little later, sure enough ... Very Happy

Hydrogen jet packs, eh? You do know that the EROEI of hydrogen is a negative number, and therefore there never will be hydrogen jet packs or even hydrogen cars. I mean, sure, you can MAKE them, but always you will put more money into the project than you will ever get out of it, rendering the whole effort economically pointless.

Fossil fuels will become uneconomical to exploit in this century, probably well before 2050 (EROEI will go negative as it will require more than one barrel of oil to procure a barrel from the ground) and when it does you can kiss your industrial/technical civilization goodbye, along without about five billion people. There is nothing to replace fossil fuels, so the "we always found a new energy source argument before" doesn't wash. Besides, as someone mentioned, your whole argument amounts to a huge inductive fallacy: "Because I've never died before, I won't die in the future."

And btw, all sorts of civilizations in the past have collapsed, usually due to the exhaustion of their resource base. So it has happened before, many times; they did NOT come up with something to replace the resources they exhausted. The only difference this time is that the collapse will be global and not local.
trismegisto
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2010 07:15 pm
@davidm,
davidm;171077 wrote:
I haven't read this whole thread, just scanned it; but reading the OP the first thing that popped into my mind was, ho-hum, Julian Simon. And a little later, sure enough ... Very Happy

Hydrogen jet packs, eh? You do know that the EROEI of hydrogen is a negative number, and therefore there never will be hydrogen jet packs or even hydrogen cars. I mean, sure, you can MAKE them, but always you will put more money into the project than you will ever get out of it, rendering the whole effort economically pointless.

Fossil fuels will become uneconomical to exploit in this century, probably well before 2050 (EROEI will go negative as it will require more than one barrel of oil to procure a barrel from the ground) and when it does you can kiss your industrial/technical civilization goodbye, along without about five billion people. There is nothing to replace fossil fuels, so the "we always found a new energy source argument before" doesn't wash. Besides, as someone mentioned, your whole argument amounts to a huge inductive fallacy: "Because I've never died before, I won't die in the future."

And btw, all sorts of civilizations in the past have collapsed, usually due to the exhaustion of their resource base. So it has happened before, many times; they did NOT come up with something to replace the resources they exhausted. The only difference this time is that the collapse will be global and not local.


Well, at least we have always got nuclear for when the fossil fuels become rare. Thank god for nuclear power!
0 Replies
 
EmperorNero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jul, 2010 12:48 pm
@davidm,
davidm wrote:
Hydrogen jet packs, eh? You do know that the EROEI of hydrogen is a negative number, and therefore there never will be hydrogen jet packs or even hydrogen cars. I mean, sure, you can MAKE them, but always you will put more money into the project than you will ever get out of it, rendering the whole effort economically pointless.


Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source. So is electricity. Which doesn't seem to be economically pointless.
There isn't any lack of energy (there is enough coal for another millennium and nuclear energy is potentially abundant), the problem is getting the energy into our cars and appliances at a low cost. The energy carrier is always a net loss, but so what?

There you see how these theoretical concepts confuse you into meaningless conclusions. It sounds very plausible and fancy to speak of EROEI and all those theoretical concepts, but the conclusions are often mistaken because those theoretical models rely on plausibility, on sounding obvious, they often don't apply to reality.

davidm wrote:
Fossil fuels will become uneconomical to exploit in this century, probably well before 2050 (EROEI will go negative as it will require more than one barrel of oil to procure a barrel from the ground)


Malthusians have been saying that about something every other decade, and they have been wrong every time. At some point we should figure out that their theoretical models are flawed. (See below.)

Fossil fuels are not getting scarce, the supply is artificially restricted because 80% of the oil supply is controlled by governments. Since the 70es they managed to control the market enough to restrict supply. That's why oil prices are so high, not because the physical stuff in the ground is scarce. Fossil fuels are far from getting scarce, we are just scratching at the surface. The net energy output is actually increasing.
The oil suppliers love that you all believe that resources are getting scarce, that excuses the high prices. The environmentalists love it too, but they are misguided. Artificially lowering consumption is actually bad for the environment, because it means that we will be using oil longer before we move on to a cleaner alternative.

davidm wrote:
and when it does you can kiss your industrial/technical civilization goodbye, along without about five billion people. There is nothing to replace fossil fuels, so the "we always found a new energy source argument before" doesn't wash.


There are plenty of alternatives to replace fossil fuels. Nuclear fission is a safe and abundant energy source, and nuclear fusion could end all energy scarcity whatsoever. Then there's a bunch of other technologies like cold fusion that may or may not work. And there's those we don't even expect yet. Just because we don't know of any alternative yet doesn't mean there won't be any. Nobody could have predicted the move from firewood to coal, or the move from coal to oil, so why would we assume that unless we can predict the next thing now there won't be one? We can seldom foresee the next world-changing technology.

See, a new resource is made available because the old one gets scarce, i.e. expensive. (Because a high promise of profit will make investors and entrepreneurs jump on it.) It is wrong to think that humans are just harvesting the resources that are already there, because they weren't resources until we created a use for them. In that sense resources are created by people, because of scarcity. Malthusians forget that in their theoretical models. They think that as it is used up, a resource will grow continuously scarce, until we will run out of it and die. They forget that scarcity is the reason that that resources are created. Resources are used up, they get scarce, we create more, they get scarce, we create more, etc. That is the process by which resources are created. It has worked that way forever (as my examples in the OP were supposed to illustrate), and it will continue to work that way unless there is a limit to resource creation. Such a limit is a positive statement, it is making an assumption. Malthusians are saying that unless we know that there is no limit, we should assume that there is one. They are assuming a positive unless we can prove a negative, which is impossible, especially if we are speaking about the future. (How could you prove that something will not happen?) That's why Malthusian predictions always turn out wrong, their models don't include that resources are created by scarcity, and that the process requires economic freedom.

davidm wrote:
Besides, as someone mentioned, your whole argument amounts to a huge inductive fallacy: "Because I've never died before, I won't die in the future."


Those were just examples that show my theoretical model to be accurate. The examples are not the argument, the argument is the theoretical model that resources are created by scarcity and economic freedom. (As explained above.) The examples are just evidence of the model being correct. Those who say the whole argument amounts to a inductive fallacy have been mistaking the examples for the argument.

davidm wrote:
And btw, all sorts of civilizations in the past have collapsed, usually due to the exhaustion of their resource base. So it has happened before, many times; they did NOT come up with something to replace the resources they exhausted. The only difference this time is that the collapse will be global and not local.


Sure, civilizations in the past have collapsed due to resource exhaustion. (Not 'usually' though, just in some exceptional cases.) But not because they reached physical limits as you are suggesting, but because they failed to provide resources for themselves.
If you don't buy any food, you are going to run out of it and possibly starve, no surprise there. But your death is in no way evidence of a physical limit to food production, just of your inability to make it available to you.
If a civilization has a mistaken belief about resource creation, it will take the wrong actions in it's attempt to create more resources.
For example, if a civilization thinks that sacrificing to the sun god will result in a better harvest, they will neglect the crops because they are busy sacrificing to the sun god. Crops go bad and scarcity grows stronger, the civilization assumes the sun god was not appeased and it will divert more and more of it's productive capacity to sacrificing and eventually collapse. They didn't die because their populations overshot the carrying capacity of the area they are living in, but because they had mistaken beliefs about how resources are created.
Similarly, if a modern society isn't aware that resources are created by scarcity, and that this process requires economic freedom, it might implement a stronger government to enforce conservationist restrictions and subsidize"green" energy and whatnot. That society will therefore waste it's resources on inefficient energy sources, and restrict the very economic freedom that creates new resources. And then they might actually run out of resources because, not because of physical limits but because they had a mistaken belief about how resources are created.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2010 12:15 pm
@EmperorNero,
So what do think about constant growth Nero and the consequences. You fail to recognise the effects of industrialisation on the worlds climate and the oceans pollution. You fail to realise most of your remaining fossil fuels are the dirtiest and nuclear becomes more and more expensive to generate and dispose of. Certain minerals are becoming so scares wars are contemplated on the security of them. Oil , the consequences of its scarcity has become relevant by the necessity of deep sea exploration and the devastating results America has suffered. Food has become more and more expensive due to the growing needs of India and china. Water in many countries will make them bankrupt within a decade. Australia are considering relocating millions of it citizens due to water reserves, reserves stable for millions of years , which are now on the point of disappearing forever. Africa is quietly being colonised by china to maintain its economy and feed its billions. You are living in a strange world of make believe Nero, where you think stating false hoods magically make them true...Sorry but reality is never that easy to reinvent.
0 Replies
 
 

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