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Old 10-29-2012, 05:31 PM
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auroraglacialis auroraglacialis is offline
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
They're also the only practical method for people who can't do things remotely. Yes, ideally people could live anywhere and work remotely, even having things like food delivered rather than having to drive just for the capacity, and with a PRT system to get to places (think automated [Globidigoo fantasy stuff]), but that requires restructuring. The world is going that way, and maybe in 10 years it will be practical on a larger scale, but as it is right now, unless you live somewhere like London or New York, there's no comparable way to get anywhere.
Public transport is one way - relocalizing work is another. Here is a radical idea - actually build the companies close to the peoples homes and vice versa - not according to where it is cheap. But I know, that is a planned economy and that is communist....
But even without this, you just made the point that this sort of fuel technology is nonsensical because it certainly will take the 10 years you proposed for the practicality of a public transport system that you like to erect and power and fuel all the infrastructure to make this artificial oil plus the power plants that run it. I dare say that this would probably take even longer - certainly it would take a lot longer and will be a lot more expensive than to do something rather simple as to double or quadruple or even increase by an order of magnitude the availability of public transport. The costs of getting 10x as many busses and 4x as many trains and 10x as many people who drive the busses is quite a bargain compared to basically increasing the number of power plants by 20 or 50 or 100% in addition to building massive numbers of high tech factories to produce oil from that power.
I just dont get it why people always think that problems cannot be tackled right now with existing technologies but just shifted priorities of how to spend money and how to run an economy.

Originally Posted by Clarke View Post
Well, yeah, but the toxicity here is "conserved" - if the oil is in your vehicle, it can't be polluting anything.
Luckily you put in that wink smilie to indicate it as sarcasm, otherwise this would have been one of the most stupid comments I ever read

Consuming energy, in and of itself, is not a problem. After all, if we actually got fusion working, and used shiny and efficient nuclear for everything, we could consume PWhs or even EWhs of energy with comparatively negligible impact on the environment.

The problem is that our energy-generation processes produce harmful by-products and use resources in ways that aren't sustainable for the time-scale we'd like. Sufficiently advanced engineering can change this - we merely have to develop and use it.
Do you know Physics? There is something called thermodynamics and what it says basically is that if you transform energy from one form to another, you always loose something and you always create at least "disorder". Basically this means that ALL types of "creating" energy (what really is done is that energy is converted into electricity mostly) will have an impact on the environment. What you can do is to increase efficiency - the output of energy in relation to the waste you produce - but increasing efficiency does not guaerantee you a lowered impact. In fact history shows that usually the other case is happening, that people simply increase their standard of living and eventually you have what is called I believe a backlash which results in the impacts overall actually increasing. Something like fusion would be a huge improvement in efficiency and I am sure the standard of living for people would increase dramatically with people being able to do a vacation on Mars or go to the Moon colony for shopping or be able to build a skyscraper with thousands of appartments that have their own swimming pool and artificial sunlight in an indoor garden or whatever one can come up with - but it will most certainly not decrease the impact on the natural world but rather increase that. At least as long as the social parameters, the economic parameters and the culture is unchanged - because all of these are forces that turn any gains in efficiency eventually into an increase in affluence/wealth/standard of living instead of actually reducing the impact they have with their present way of life.

Fixing the latter is easier than changing the former for two reasons:
1) To change how people consume energy, you must convince them of a benefit that's very hard to visualize. In order to generate power efficiently, you must invent a device and convince a business to use it. The latter is massively easier than the former - people in general are irrational and bad at forward thinking, whereas business managers are generally frustratingly rational and far better at forward thinking, especially where investments are concerned.
2) Attempting to significantly lower the energy used by people directly impacts their quality of life - and therefore attempting to do it directly contradicts most humans' nature. Good luck.
#2 is exactly the cause of what I described above - people never will accept a lowered or even steady state standard of living. I do not call it quality of life, because that has a value attached to it that certainly equated material affluence with quality. Arguably people can be quite happy and have not much material wealth while people in wealthy nations are record breakers in depression and anxiety. Also I refuse to call it "human nature" because much of what we think of as human nature is a cultural construct - humans are cultural beings who act to a very large degree on what they learn instead of somethign they are born with. Numerous culutres existed that did not confuse material affluence with quality of life.
And #1 is again trying to solve a problem on a level of thinking that created it. You try to use market based economy, businesses and the ideology of solutions through increases in efficiency as means to reach a solution for a problem that was precisely caused by these things playing out in the past. I am not interested in that. The problem cannot be solved within that framework. If people cannot break out of this framework, they WILL destroy the natural world and eventually themselves.
Know your idols: Who said "Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.". (Solution: "Mahatma" Ghandi)

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