OECD predicts collapse of capitalism


#63

In the end everything comes down to energy. Since the price of oil is inelastic - unlike so many other resources if the price goes up we cannot just reduce our use because there really are no alternatives. At some point however there may be a tipping point say to electric cars if we can figure out the storage problem. And solar power in some areas such as Australia and the southwest US is actually more competitive than coal making the utilities antsy with people who are switching to solar.

Elon Musk, who is also co-founder of solar city is talking about building two giga-factories larger than any other factories in the world to make electric batteries. Note that this would also be useful not for electric car owners but solar power users.

Then again it might come from left field with synthetic biology - George Church in Regenesis writes about looking at the extra c02 (from fossil fuels in the atmosphere) and using it as a feedstock for e-coli that could generate bio-diesel - apparently it is supposed to be competitive with oil at $30? a barrel (I’m guessing) but I don’t think the oil industry should count on continuous growth. Even now
many coal mines are being shut down because China has started cracking down on coal power plants and the price of coal has plummeted. As a Canadian we are always hearing about the Alberta oil industry but it is also very expensive to extract and some big players are shutting down projects because so much of it depends on getting the world price - and yet there are few pipelines available (and much opposition rightfully) to take advantage of it.


#64

Really? I’d love it if it were true.


#65

A company was getting a patent for this a few years ago but then nothing seemed to come of it. I wonder if they didn’t really get it to work, if they were planning on just trolling with that patent, or if they were bought by a larger company that didn’t want the competition.


See Joule Unlimited - biodiesel from e-coli
#66

Call me a traditionalist, but if you’re going to talk about the centerpiece of the French Revolution, let’s not use the 'Murican spelling, mkay? :wink:


#67

The conservatives with money (and thus power) are heavily invested in oil and gas. Why would they want to help the long term economy of other people instead of the immediate economy of their own bank accounts?


#68

I occasionally fantasize about some geeks at MIT, or some guy in his garage, coming up with a design for an electric motor and battery pack that could be fitted into lots of different makes of automobiles, and suddenly everyone is modding their cars to run on electricity for really cheap, the price of gas comes down (and then the oil companies create some “public interest” group to halt this due to some kind of invented public safety concern.)

I imagine something like this already exists, but isn’t cost-effective or efficient enough to make it worthwhile. The idea of everyone having a helio-electric array, or wind turbine that pumps energy back into the grid, or into you car (or generates H2 for fuel cells) is another idea like that. And it’s not so far-fetched, it just needs to spread like a virus, the kind of thing that takes off and can’t be stopped once enough people are doing it.


#69

Yeah, biotech can be very alluring but I don’t know the details. I mean, if you could somehow engineer bacteria that eat CO2 and sunlight and poop out gasoline then couldn’t you just put them in a massive dish and they would grow all by themselves? It seems simple, but apparently when people came up with nuclear power they thought it would be so cheap to produce that they’d pretty much just be giving it away. Reality hits you hard sometimes.

Still, I fantasize that the problem is the patent system or wealthy suppression of inconvenient technologies. I mean it could be, right?


#70

Yes! That is the whole purpose of humanity. This is why we use the colloquialism “what are you worth” when discussing someone’s assets. The extent to which life is a zero-sum game then necessitates cruelty to others, to better oneself. The purpose of a ‘successful’ life is to maximise profit, and thus success can only be achieved through the process of crushing other, less ‘successful’ people.


#71

I am nursing a thought along these lines. Floating “green crude” factories. A master ship (or a few, in order to have backups) that houses separators, rudimentary refinery, bioplastic production using the refinery output as feedstock, and a 3D printer.

Sail to the high seas. Print large flat pontoons that float in an array around the master ship, possibly as shallow pools or as meanders of channels, and grow algae in them. Use a semipermeable bottom for exchange of nutrients with seawater.

And run autonomously for years, print new pontoons as needed to expand production or to replace damaged/broken ones, and print single-use transport minitankers to send the surplus production to shore where full-scale refineries are, preferably using natural currents or tugboats. If the green crude is biodegradable, eventual inevitable spills are pretty much inconsequential.

High-protein biomass is a byproduct that can be potentially used for feeding farmed fish. Alternatively, the algae can be gene-engineered to enhance or create selective phytoextraction traits, to bioaccumulate certain elements (gold, uranium, nickel…) from seawater (“mining” from seawater is possible), and then the byproduct contains preconcentrated metals and can be used as an ore, or the metals can be concentrated in the crude and then harvested in the on-shore refinery. (Or exclude or neutralize some known toxins, so the protein fish-feed can be used even from farms in contaminated areas.)

Not exactly a self-replicating system, but something on the way there.


#72

In my opinion these facts are very true


closed #73

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