Posted by mike on May 1, 2012, 9:44 pm
What if it works and we have infinite cheap energy??
Well...we'll use it.
And much of what we need involves exothermic reactions.
So, who's working on that endothermic process that
will save us from the exothermic process that we
invented to save us from fossil fuels?
Or do we just let Mother Nature take care of it by
killing us off.
Posted by Morris Dovey on May 2, 2012, 3:00 am
On 5/1/12 4:44 PM, mike wrote:
I think this is a really important question. The new exothermic
technologies should be considered as no more than temporary zero-carbon
bridges from combustion to unfueled, energy-neutral production methods.
As you (and Don Lancaster before you) point out, any technology that
releases more heat into the atmosphere than can be radiated away from
the planet will lead to catastrophic overheating.
We already have some experience in such energy-neutral technologies as
wind, solar, and hydro. We'll need to continue and intensify efforts to
innovate, discover, and implement new technologies.
In the meantime, at least some of the zero-carbon "bridges" may allow us
to significantly diminish the human contribution to greenhouse gas
We may even need to, as Orson Scott Card suggested in one of his novels,
use our new-found genetic engineering sciences to develop a hardy plant
that produces large white blossoms or large black blossoms, whenever
climatic conditions are seriously out of balance...
Posted by mike on May 2, 2012, 11:32 am
On 5/1/2012 8:00 PM, Morris Dovey wrote:
There's always the quick fix backup plan...nuclear winter. Also makes
a big dent in the overpopulation problem. Two birds... ;-(
I've been reconsidering my position on the severity, but don't know the
If I burn a BTU worth of coal, I put a BTU worth of heat
into the environment.
The greenhouse gasses change the dynamic of the interaction between
the sun and the earth to cause additional energy
to enter the biosphere.
So, I expect a short term increase in the RATE of absorption from the
sun. And there should be a decrease in this additional component over
time with some half-life.
If I integrate all that, how many extra sun BTU's did that BTU of coal
And there's a related issue about the heat capacity of the system.
If I could magically bring the earth back into thermal equilibrium,
then change all energy consumption to clean exothermic energy with
no greenhouse gasses...
At the current rate of energy consumption, how long would it take to
raise the temperature of the atmosphere by one degree??
Posted by Morris Dovey on May 2, 2012, 1:48 pm
On 5/2/12 6:32 AM, mike wrote:
I don't know - to all of the above.
I'm convinced that combustion-based energy technologies have overtaxed
planetary resources to the point that there is no longer any upside to
their continued use on any significant scale.
A cursory review of our "peak wood", "peak whale oil", and "peak
petroleum" experiences leads me to conclude that fueled technologies all
ultimately lead to some "peak fuel" point.
Seems to me that it'd be smart to choose technologies that don't have
Posted by mike on May 2, 2012, 6:58 pm
On 5/2/2012 6:48 AM, Morris Dovey wrote:
Can't disagree, but the ratios do matter.
If fossil fuel is 1% direct heat and 99% global warming, one might conclude
that nuclear energy is a viable alternative for generations.
Yeah but...you have to have viable technologies to choose from.
The human race is selfish and greedy.
I've cut my carbon footprint in half over the last few years.
I could do more, but I'm greedy.
I like long, hot showers.
I can afford long, hot showers.
I'm not gonna stop just so there'll be more energy so YOU can
take a long, hot shower in my place.
The human race is also very resourceful in fixing problems.
But they don't care until it affects them directly in ways they
can't tolerate. In this case, by the time that happens, it'll be too late.
I take great comfort in the fact that I have no descendants and
will be dead by the time it happens. There's that greed again...