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Solarpunk

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Solarpunk! It's like steampunk only....prettier? Cleaner, that's for sure. Okay, that first sentence hurt my steampunk heart. But listen up, you need to look into this!

The world as it is today looks rather...well. bad. But solarpunk makes a great view of it! With the techniques of today they make a wonderful world, a world they believe we could make with what we have nowaday. They sketch a dilightfully optimistic and beautiful future and it's even better because it's splendid that this future view is based on actual techniques that are in use right now...I think they deserve more attention, because it's pretty and inspirational. 

Now follow a couple of pictures:

c5c28d250759cc4fec552b3f4f6c36fb.jpg

tumblr_nqgv6eX1A21uwh4zwo8_500.jpg

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So essentially society that grows more greenery around it's architecture and probably uses solar energy (and maybe like hydroelectric?)

...that sounds so wonderful on the lungs

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I like to think that solar power will be our main energy supply in the future. Photovoltaics are inefficient in their current form, but have lots of potential.

That being said, when I hear "Solarpunk", I envision something like Treasure Planet:

treasure-planet-main-review.png

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Wow! This is really the yin to steampunk's yang. I love it. 

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3 hours ago, Xaende said:

I like to think that solar power will be our main energy supply in the future. Photovoltaics are inefficient in their current form, but have lots of potential.

You remind me of fusion advocates that keep saying that affordable fusion power is 20 years around the corner... for the past 50 years.

Nice art though.

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@Xaende

It's not just photovoltaic cells, the most simple form of solar energy harvesting is simply storing the heat from the sun in rocks or the like and using it to generate steam. 

But yeah, solar energy gets cheaper by the year it seems. Still betting on geothermal/wind for power grids

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7 hours ago, WolfNightV4X1 said:

So essentially society that grows more greenery around it's architecture and probably uses solar energy (and maybe like hydroelectric?)

...that sounds so wonderful on the lungs

I do sincerely hope our society as a whole is heading towards this goal instead of ending up as a dystopian government and corporation dominated endless consumer society that needs to grow, conquer and exploit just to sustain their itself

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6 hours ago, Xaende said:

I like to think that solar power will be our main energy supply in the future. 

Only if humanity will bomb itself back to the stone age and solar panels will survive this.

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1 hour ago, Vitaly said:

Only if humanity will bomb itself back to the stone age and solar panels will survive this.

Did someone say solarpunk dystopia!? That'd be an interesting concept indeed. But honestly, solar will get more important as we go. We /will/ run out of fossil fuels eventually, anyway. At the moment huge corporations make tons of money of fossil resources, thus making it impossible to just dump that industry, but we cannot go on like this. Or we all die. That's an option too.

But maybe solarpunk and teslapunk could go hand in hand?

 

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9 minutes ago, Caledonian said:

But maybe solarpunk and teslapunk could go hand in hand?

Since it's about as realistic here's some tesla punk for you:

latest?cb=20110101205254

An alternative to France's troubled nuclear reactors:

RA2_Beta_Eiffel_Tower.png

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8 hours ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

You remind me of fusion advocates that keep saying that affordable fusion power is 20 years around the corner... for the past 50 years.

Technically, solar power *is* fusion power, but I'm pretty sure you're thinking of it in more of a human-made sense.

A more apt analogy would be the electric car. The technology exists, but it's relatively inefficient and expensive. Like the electric car, solar power is real and already on the market. They even share a common limitation: batteries.  People can and do live off the grid, but few can afford to do so if they want to keep their modern appliances and creature comforts. It's not a stretch to think that, over time, these technologies will continue to improve and become more accessible to the masses. Whether governments and power companies that rely on fossil fuels for revenue will allow it, however, is another matter. I'd expect it to be taxed, to keep the prices artificially high. At least in the short term.
 

6 hours ago, Fantasma said:

@Xaende

It's not just photovoltaic cells, the most simple form of solar energy harvesting is simply storing the heat from the sun in rocks or the like and using it to generate steam

But yeah, solar energy gets cheaper by the year it seems. Still betting on geothermal/wind for power grids

Solar + Steam = Solarsteampunk FTW

 

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2 hours ago, Xaende said:

Technically, solar power *is* fusion power, but I'm pretty sure you're thinking of it in more of a human-made sense.

Yep, was thinking about it in the form of solar panels.

2 hours ago, Xaende said:

A more apt analogy would be the electric car. The technology exists, but it's relatively inefficient and expensive. Like the electric car, solar power is real and already on the market. They even share a common limitation: batteries.  People can and do live off the grid, but few can afford to do so if they want to keep their modern appliances and creature comforts. It's not a stretch to think that, over time, these technologies will continue to improve and become more accessible to the masses. Whether governments and power companies that rely on fossil fuels for revenue will allow it, however, is another matter. I'd expect it to be taxed, to keep the prices artificially high. At least in the short term.

There are diminishing returns when it comes to technological "progress", and it seems that applies to electric cars and solar panels as well.

 

Take electric cars. The darling of the electric car industry, Tesla, has been losing money for 13 years both overall and per electric car produced (about 16k USD for their main model).

They're losing money despite government subsidies, despite tax credits, despite investors throwing money at them and despite all of the technological progress that has been made.

What does the company have to show for their 13 years of losing taxpayer and private money? In April they sold 3,850 cars, according to Autodata. This accounts for 0.27% of market share.

Thirteen years of losing money and they've gone from 0% to 0.27% market share. Worldwide electric cars account for less than 0.1% of total cars.

I could go on about how electric cars will always be more expensive than equivalent conventional cars (they require three times more copper mostly because of the engine, the battery is a far more expensive form of energy storage compared to a simple fuel tank, etc). Also remember that electric cars are not new, the first "practical" one was made in 1884.

 

As for solar:

euan-mearns-europe-electric-price.png?w=

Remember that just like the electric car, photovoltaic cells are not new either. The first PV cell was made in 1839.

There's also the matter that civilization is using a condensed form of solar energy (in the form of fossil fuels) that took around 300 million years to accumulate, at a rate of roughly 100000 times faster than it accumulates at the current rate of consumption. Even if we blanketed the entire earth with solar panels there's only so much electromagnetic energy striking the Earth at any time; it's a fraction of the condensed energy that we're able to dissipate.

There's also matters with solar, wind and other renewables in that they're made of nonrenewable materials that keep getting more expensive to extract (diminishing returns) and that they're always going to be converting diffuse energy into concentrated energy (eg electricity) which is much more expensive than converting a highly concentrated form of energy (eg fossil fuels) into another concentrated form (eg electricity) or into a more diffuse form (eg heating).

 

In USA, Europe, Australia and elsewhere "renewable" energy of all sorts has received all sorts of tax credits, subsidies and other incentives despite always being much more expensive than other types. At the end of the day the limits of renewables are physical limits.

Also consider that people working in various parts of fossil fuel industries would like their children to have a future as well (yes, even the people at the top sometimes have children). If renewables were so superior to fossil fuels then those in charge wouldn't hesitate to buy out their competition to control the wonderful new energy supply themselves (company mergers and takeovers are a regular thing in the business world).

 

As for "living off the grid", such people are still reliant on the rest of civilization functioning in order to get their essential supplies.

If there's any long term hope for the species, it lies with those few people still living a somewhat sustainable life:

58897c866da55739c96be086c025a780.jpg

 

Not with people who think that solar cells are "clean":

Fixed_Tilt_Solar_panel_at_Canterbury_Mun

Because they don't see what's involved in the material extraction, processing, manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and other processes that are necessary for the solar panel to even exist:

Garzweiler.strip.mine.jpg

environment-3.jpg

Pictured: mining and processing materials necessary for solar panels and high "high tech" items.

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3 hours ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

Yep, was thinking about it in the form of solar panels.

There are diminishing returns when it comes to technological "progress", and it seems that applies to electric cars and solar panels as well.

 

Take electric cars. The darling of the electric car industry, Tesla, has been losing money for 13 years both overall and per electric car produced (about 16k USD for their main model).

They're losing money despite government subsidies, despite tax credits, despite investors throwing money at them and despite all of the technological progress that has been made.

What does the company have to show for their 13 years of losing taxpayer and private money? In April they sold 3,850 cars, according to Autodata. This accounts for 0.27% of market share.

Thirteen years of losing money and they've gone from 0% to 0.27% market share. Worldwide electric cars account for less than 0.1% of total cars.

I could go on about how electric cars will always be more expensive than equivalent conventional cars (they require three times more copper mostly because of the engine, the battery is a far more expensive form of energy storage compared to a simple fuel tank, etc). Also remember that electric cars are not new, the first "practical" one was made in 1884.

 

As for solar:

euan-mearns-europe-electric-price.png?w=

Remember that just like the electric car, photovoltaic cells are not new either. The first PV cell was made in 1839.

There's also the matter that civilization is using a condensed form of solar energy (in the form of fossil fuels) that took around 300 million years to accumulate, at a rate of roughly 100000 times faster than it accumulates at the current rate of consumption. Even if we blanketed the entire earth with solar panels there's only so much electromagnetic energy striking the Earth at any time; it's a fraction of the condensed energy that we're able to dissipate.

There's also matters with solar, wind and other renewables in that they're made of nonrenewable materials that keep getting more expensive to extract (diminishing returns) and that they're always going to be converting diffuse energy into concentrated energy (eg electricity) which is much more expensive than converting a highly concentrated form of energy (eg fossil fuels) into another concentrated form (eg electricity) or into a more diffuse form (eg heating).

 

In USA, Europe, Australia and elsewhere "renewable" energy of all sorts has received all sorts of tax credits, subsidies and other incentives despite always being much more expensive than other types. At the end of the day the limits of renewables are physical limits.

Also consider that people working in various parts of fossil fuel industries would like their children to have a future as well (yes, even the people at the top sometimes have children). If renewables were so superior to fossil fuels then those in charge wouldn't hesitate to buy out their competition to control the wonderful new energy supply themselves (company mergers and takeovers are a regular thing in the business world).

 

As for "living off the grid", such people are still reliant on the rest of civilization functioning in order to get their essential supplies.

If there's any long term hope for the species, it lies with those few people still living a somewhat sustainable life:

58897c866da55739c96be086c025a780.jpg

 

Not with people who think that solar cells are "clean":

Fixed_Tilt_Solar_panel_at_Canterbury_Mun

Because they don't see what's involved in the material extraction, processing, manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and other processes that are necessary for the solar panel to even exist:

Garzweiler.strip.mine.jpg

environment-3.jpg

Pictured: mining and processing materials necessary for solar panels and high "high tech" items.

Electric cars will always be more expensive? I wouldn't be so sure.

Just because a technology existed in some form in the past, that doesn’t mean it conformed to modern specs. Wind power predates the electric car by thousands of years, for instance. The difference is that our materials and manufacturing techniques are more advanced. Modern windmills are much more efficient, not to mentioned used in new ways. We have made strides in material engineering, and have computer design/modeling advantages that weren't previously available.

Electric vehicles have been with us for years, but the underlying technology was better suited for golf carts, boats, trains, and amusement park rides than for propelling large automobiles substantial distances at contemporary highway speeds. Better batteries played a big role in this, and also play a big role in the future of solar.

As with solar, fossil fuels also have physical limits. One of the biggest constraint for fossil fuel is supply, and one of the biggest constraint for solar is the materials used. The sun will continue to shine, however, and fossil fuel supply will continue to diminish, as scientists and engineers develop new and better materials.

As the costs associated with solar power and electric vehicles continue to fall, and the costs associated with fossil fuels continue to rise due to scarcity and potential damage to the environment, solar power and electric vehicles are becoming more economically viable options.

It's also worth noting that copper can be recycled, and other metals like aluminum can be used in its place. 3x more copper sounds like a lot, but I suspect that even more copper is used in other consumer devices and utilities combined.

I like to think science/technology gets us out of more messes than it gets us into. It seems unlikely to me that we'll need to live in the wilderness without modern conveniences to achieve greater autonomy and sustainability than the fossil fuel model.

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7 minutes ago, Xaende said:

Electric cars will always be more expensive? I wouldn't be so sure.

The engine and the fuel storage (battery vs fuel tank) alone in electric cars will always be more expensive than equivalent conventional cars as they are more complex, require more materials (eg 3x as much copper) and a greater variety of materials as well.

9 minutes ago, Xaende said:

Just because a technology existed in some form in the past, that doesn’t mean it conformed to modern specs. Wind power predates the electric car by thousands of years, for instance. The difference is that our materials and manufacturing techniques are more advanced. Modern windmills are much more efficient, not to mentioned used in new ways. We have made strides in material engineering, and have computer design/modeling advantages that weren't previously available.

Electric vehicles have been with us for years, but the underlying technology was better suited for golf carts, boats, trains, and amusement park rides than for propelling large automobiles substantial distances at contemporary highway speeds. Better batteries played a big role in this, and also play a big role in the future of solar.

Yet there is clear evidence that shows our economic system, society, the world environment and ecological systems are all deteriorating despite all of the supposed progress.

Our economic system functions due to surplus energy and material. Replacing one (formerly) cheap form of energy with a much more expensive and intermittent form of energy will not fix things.

 

Fossil fuels are also required for their material properties. They are used in things such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, bitumen, lubricants, fertilizers and other items critical for the system.

What we've been attempting to do in recent years is substitute various materials and energies for more complex and more expensive forms and for more expensive devices, such as electric cars.

Do you seriously expect Tesla's market share to go anywhere in the next year from 0.27% after 13 years of losses and still losing money? Or even the next few years or decades?

I'm wondering if I should've gone into the "renewable" industry myself if people are so easy to dupe with snake oil.

 

21 minutes ago, Xaende said:

As with solar, fuels also physical limits. One of the biggest constraint for fossil fuel is supply, and one of the biggest constraint for solar is the materials used. The sun will continue to shine, however, and fossil fuel supply will continue to diminish, as scientists and engineers develop new and better materials.

See the above about having deterioration despite all of the material advances.

Also keep in mind that advances in materials also have diminishing returns, unless you think that properties like tensile strength can be forever increased while decreasing mass at the same time for example.

Also you've ignored my previous statement:

"There's also the matter that civilization is using a condensed form of solar energy (in the form of fossil fuels) that took around 300 million years to accumulate, at a rate of roughly 100000 times faster than it accumulates at the current rate of consumption. Even if we blanketed the entire earth with solar panels there's only so much electromagnetic energy striking the Earth at any time; it's a fraction of the condensed energy that we're able to dissipate."

I'm not saying that fossil fuels are everlasting either, merely that the alternatives are in many ways much worse (but they are good for fooling the gullible into thinking there's a civilized future after fossil fuels, and that's ignoring all the other damage we're doing besides energy dissipation).

 

28 minutes ago, Xaende said:

As the costs associated with solar power and electric vehicles continue to fall, and the costs associated with fossil fuels continue to rise due to scarcity and potential damage to the environment, solar power and electric vehicles are becoming more economically viable options.

As I've said there are diminishing returns, and due to the nature of electric vehicles (eg more expensive, more complex, greater amount of different materials required) and other high tech crap they will always have various costs that are higher than simpler devices.

While it's technically true that solar power and electric vehicles are more economically viable than they were 20 years ago, they are still clearly far more resource intensive (and more environmentally destructive as they require more material/energy to be used, the extraction and manipulation of which are harmful for most organisms). Furthermore, there's absolutely no evidence to show that they'll be viable any time soon.

You also ignore the fact that civilization does damage to the environment through far more ways than just dissipating fossil fuels. We'll still continue the destruction of habitats and release of substances toxic to most organisms through the use of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, chemicals processing, etc

 

43 minutes ago, Xaende said:

It's also worth noting that copper can be recycled, and other metals like aluminum can be used in its place. 3x more copper sounds like a lot, but I suspect that even more copper is used in other consumer devices and utilities combined.

Recycling is an incredibly energy-intensive endeavor, so much so that only some materials are recycled by industry (and far from 100% of any given material including copper).

More so, certain materials also require chemicals to treat them as part of the recycling process (eg to remove impurities). The resulting waste is not recyclable.

As devices become more and more complex they also become harder to recycle as they contain many materials (especially rare earth minerals) in such tiny quantities per device that certain materials in complex devices like smartphones are not even recycled AT ALL. That will only get worse as devices more ever more complex.

 

50 minutes ago, Xaende said:

I like to think science/technology gets us out of more messes than it gets us into. It seems unlikely to me that we'll need to live in the wilderness without modern conveniences to achieve greater autonomy and sustainability than the fossil fuel model.

You like to think that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

Also in order to make any sort of complex device (than what an individual can make on their own) you require not just enough surplus energy and material but also higher levels of organization. As the society, the economy and the devices employed therein become more complex greater levels of organization are required. This necessarily leads to less autonomy, not more as the system becomes more networked and the human/machine components become more interdependent.

Civilization was unsustainable (compared to hunter gatherers) long before fossil fuels were discovered. Once agriculture was developed the human population and resource consumption entered into overshoot mode. We've had to keep expanding the system in order to combat diminishing returns and increasing systemic costs ever since then. Clearly that cannot go on forever in a finite world, with space being even more inhospitable and resource-intensive to utilize than our (comparatively benign) Earth.

 

On a personal note I find it interesting that I'm talking about things like a finite world, diminishing returns and physical limits. Several years ago I held similar views that you did, that technology could fix anything.

What changed my views was learning about how the human and non-human components of our socioeconomic system interact with each other and the surrounding environment, about the energy and material flows that are necessary, about the differences between diffuse and concentrated energy, about debt and so on.

It's amusing to consider that technology, rather than worshiping one or more deities, has become the new religion of the masses in many ways.

 

If you want more information about the various systems and subsystems of this world I can provide a list of links for further reading, supplemented with plenty of statistics/facts/evidence/etc.

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1 hour ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

- Yet there is clear evidence that shows our economic system, society, the world environment and ecological systems are all deteriorating despite all of the supposed progress.

- "There's also the matter that civilization is using a condensed form of solar energy (in the form of fossil fuels) that took around 300 million years to accumulate, at a rate of roughly 100000 times faster than it accumulates at the current rate of consumption. Even if we blanketed the entire earth with solar panels there's only so much electromagnetic energy striking the Earth at any time; it's a fraction of the condensed energy that we're able to dissipate.

- As devices become more and more complex they also become harder to recycle as they contain many materials (especially rare earth minerals) in such tiny quantities per device that certain materials in complex devices like smartphones are not even recycled AT ALL. That will only get worse as devices more ever more complex.

- Also in order to make any sort of complex device (than what an individual can make on their own) you require not just enough surplus energy and material but also higher levels of organization. As the society, the economy and the devices employed therein become more complex greater levels of organization are required. This necessarily leads to less autonomy, not more as the system becomes more networked and the human/machine components become more interdependent.

 

If you want more information about the various systems and subsystems of this world I can provide a list of links for further reading, supplemented with plenty of statistics/facts/evidence/etc.

Citations, please!

- I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that our environment will deteriorate more rapidly by using solar energy for power than by continuing to rely on fossil fuels. Economic systems rise and fall, but the general trend has been toward improved quality of life.

- Fossil fuels are more efficient at this time, but we're using them at a higher rate than the rate at which they're being replenished. As far as I'm aware, we don't need to blanket the Earth with solar panels for them to be effective. There are already people living off the grid by using solar power, among other alternative sources of energy. This has been going on for years, becoming easier and more accessible with time.

- Newer, more complicated, devices can actually be easier to recycle than old devices:
1. They may be designed to be recycled. For an example, you might want to read about Apple's recycling program.
2. We're getting better at recycling.

- It's possible to design and build solar cells and panels at home. That suggests more autonomy, not less. Check out what this guy did: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-solar-cell-from-scratch/

Actually, instructables has a lot of great tutorials for DIY solar projects. Solar is more accessible than designing and building one's own internal combustion engine, let alone digging for and refining the oil to turn into fuel.

 

 

 

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giphy.gif

Here I thought we were discussing something cool. 

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7 hours ago, Xaende said:

Citations, please!

- I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that our environment will deteriorate more rapidly by using solar energy for power than by continuing to rely on fossil fuels. Economic systems rise and fall, but the general trend has been toward improved quality of life.

- Fossil fuels are more efficient at this time, but we're using them at a higher rate than the rate at which they're being replenished. As far as I'm aware, we don't need to blanket the Earth with solar panels for them to be effective. There are already people living off the grid by using solar power, among other alternative sources of energy. This has been going on for years, becoming easier and more accessible with time.

- Newer, more complicated, devices can actually be easier to recycle than old devices:
1. They may be designed to be recycled. For an example, you might want to read about Apple's recycling program.
2. We're getting better at recycling.

- It's possible to design and build solar cells and panels at home. That suggests more autonomy, not less. Check out what this guy did: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-solar-cell-from-scratch/

Actually, instructables has a lot of great tutorials for DIY solar projects. Solar is more accessible than designing and building one's own internal combustion engine, let alone digging for and refining the oil to turn into fuel.

 

 

 

Check out the articles about renewables on the first site if you want to learn more about them in particular, otherwise the sources go into great detail about various aspects of the human and natural world which would result in more text walls if I were to write about them here.

 

"

I get my information from multiple sources and even then I have to do a lot of sleuthing to cut through the bullshit. I'll list the sources I can remember off the top of my head from most recommended to least (all worth a good read though):

https://ourfiniteworld.com/

The source to go to for analysis of important economic data. Deals with topics such as interconnected systems of inputs/processes/outputs, diminishing returns, increasing entropy, how different sectors of the world & national economies interact with each other and what this all means for the socioeconomic "big picture". The comments range from insightful to ridiculous. Look at the older articles as well!

http://dieoff.com/page137.htm

Energy and Human Evolution by David Price. It provides a good summary of the evolution of energy use by life on Earth and the relationship between humans and extrasomatic energy.


 

The stuff below mostly focuses on smaller parts of the big picture.

http://feasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Trade-Off1.pdf

Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse by David Korowicz. It deals with a slightly smaller part of the big picture (mostly the financial side) but it is incredibly detailed and well thought out.

http://www.feasta.org/documents/risk_resilience/Tipping_Point.pdf

Similar to the previous paper by the same author. It's a much older paper but still makes some good points.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1644264/

The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population by John B Calhoun. A paper about an experiment where a group of healthy mice were introduced to a "utopian" environment that was regularly cleaned, climate-controlled, and had limitless water and food. The only limitation was the space available to them. Note that some of the behaviors exhibited by the mice are being exhibited by some humans today.

http://wildism.org/docs/tk-isaif.html#_introduction

Industrial Society and Its Future by Ted Kaczynski. I disagree with the methods they used to bring attention to their paper however the paper itself contains sound analysis of the history of industrial society and where it will likely head if it keeps on going. If you're squeamish about what they say about leftism just replace the word "leftism" with "collectivism" while reading.

https://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Bernays_Propaganda_in_english_.pdf

Propaganda by Edward Bernays. An old yet very important book on business and political propaganda.

http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html

A yearly review of various energy statistics. Go straight to the data workbook download, the PDF is too general.

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/global_oil.cfm

Short-Term Energy Outlook. Contains more recent world energy statistics. Use the Forecasts and Data menus and don't bother looking at projections, just the recent data.

https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley Butler. Explains some of the special arrangements that certain businesses got during world war 1.

http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/best_enemy/index.html

THE BEST ENEMY MONEY CAN BUY By Antony C. Sutton. It looked at the role of military technology transfers up to the 1980s between NATO and USSR. This shows that USA and USSR had more of a "frenemy" relationship than anything else.

It goes into immense detail about all the technologies traded between the powers, but here's the author's summary: "In a few words: there is no such thing as Soviet technology. Almost all — perhaps 90-95 percent — came directly or indirectly from the United States and its allies. In effect the United States and the NATO countries have built the Soviet Union. Its industrial and its military capabilities. This massive construction job has taken 50 years. Since the Revolution in 1917. It has been carried out through trade and the sale of plants, equipment and technical assistance."

If you have an issue with this claim then read the book and check the sources for the technologies traded between the powers. Don't worry about the theology bullshit in the URL, that's just where the online version of the book is hosted. It's also available at archive.org and alor.org, do a search. Also search for other works by Antony C. Sutton and read what interests you.

http://wolfstreet.com/
Ignore the fawning over renewables and the blame game on central bank policies, it's actually their policies that have stalled economic collapse. Focus instead on articles dealing with raw data and business activities (eg Cass Freight Index, Hanjin).

http://www.zerohedge.com/

Most of their articles are self-indulgent editorials but they sometimes report actual things of importance (eg debt levels, capital goods orders).

https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/about/

Similar to Wolf Street, in that the articles that deal with reporting raw data are usually the only readable ones (eg UK's Current Account).


 

Youtube channels / sites:

GoingUndergroundRT

Just as western media is good at pointing out issues in Russia, so is Russian media good at pointing out issues in the west.

Democracy Now

Many of their videos are collectivist feel-good garbage that misses out on significant parts of the big picture, however they do sometimes report on important events in US and the world that no one else (at least in the mainstream media) does.


 

Since this list turned out more comprehensive than I thought, I've saved it for my own reference and in case someone else asks ;D


 

Specific articles:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-29/story-durable-goods-story-global-economy

About durable & capital goods worldwide and the economic dislocation after the GFC.

https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/05/20/19712/scientists-say-nuclear-fuel-pools-around-country-pose-safety-and-health-risks

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/burning-reactor-fuel-could-have-worsened-fukushima-disaster

http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-japan-fukushima-insight-idUSBRE97D00M20130814

http://www.dcbureau.org/20110314781/natural-resources-news-service/fission-criticality-in-cooling-ponds-threaten-explosion-at-fukushima.html

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/making-nuclear-power-safer/handling-nuclear-waste/safer-storage-of-spent-fuel.html#.VUp3n5Om2J8

http://www.cfr.org/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-spent-fuel-pools-secure/p8967

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16fuel.html

http://science.time.com/2011/03/15/a-new-threat-in-japan-radioactive-spent-fuel/

http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/the-growing-problem-of-spent-nuclear-fuel.html

About nuclear reactors and fuel ponds. The risk articles mostly deal with the event of a terrorist attack disabling the ponds however similar outcomes would happen if the fuel ponds were inoperable for whatever reason (eg electric grid goes down longer than backup generators last- around 2 weeks in most cases).

The assumption by most researchers/scientists is that fuel ponds can never be unplugged, at least not for long. The only way to get the answers on what happens if they are inoperable was to dig up research related to a terrorist attack.

Almost all the research only talks about what would happen if ONE fuel pond or a few were to fail. One of the articles (the Harvard one) states that on the average a fuel pond would release about 8-17 times the radioactive material released by the accident at Chernobyl. Given that there are 4000 fuel ponds around the world, even if we go with a conservative estimate (say 10 times) we're looking at the equivalent of 40,000 Chernobyls worth of radioactive material being released. There are also around 400 reactors in the world.

The reason that almost no research delves deeply into ALL fuel ponds failing is because it's inconceivable to most scientists that the supporting economy and infrastructure around all of these fuel ponds would fail. That's why one needs to look at what would happen to fuel ponds on the average and scale the effects of that to all of the fuel ponds in the world as they will all inevitable collapse and fail once the global economy fails.


 

http://wolfstreet.com/2017/02/19/2016-sp-500-earnings-back-at-2011-levels-as-stocks-ballooned-87-percent/

About S&P 500 NON-GAAP earnings & net income overall going down while market capitalization inflates into a massive bubble. Links to graph showing price-to-sales ratio at around 1.87, it was around 2.0 during the dot-com bubble and slightly less than 1.5 prior to the GFC.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/11024845/Oil-and-gas-company-debt-soars-to-danger-levels-to-cover-shortfall-in-cash.html

Steven Kopits from Douglas-Westwood said the productivity of new capital spending has fallen by a factor of five since 2000. “The vast majority of public oil and gas companies require oil prices of over $100 to achieve positive free cash flow under current capex and dividend programmes. Nearly half of the industry needs more than $120”.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534254/

"Human domination of the biosphere: Rapid discharge of the earth-space battery foretells the future of humankind" by John R. Schramski. More specifically it's about declining living biomass.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-15/harvard-debunks-obama-recovery-farce

Various charts about incomes, investments, labour force stats, etc in the USA.

https://srsroccoreport.com/end-of-the-u-s-major-oil-industry-era-big-trouble-at-exxonmobil/

About free cash flow and expenditures of the formerly most profitable US oil company.

https://srsroccoreport.com/the-blood-bath-continues-in-the-u-s-major-oil-industry/

From Feb/2017. About the top three U.S. oil companies.

https://srsroccoreport.com/continental-resources-example-of-what-is-horribly-wrong-with-the-u-s-shale-oil-industry/

From Feb/2017. CONTINENTAL RESOURCES: Example Of What Is Horribly Wrong With The U.S. Shale Oil Industry

http://www.afr.com/markets/debt-markets/theres-1-trillion-of-australian-mortgages-and-some-now-worry-of-whats-next-20170207-gu7ray

About Aussie household debt to income going up from over 165% in early 2013 to over 185% in 2016.

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/02/australian-household-debt-control/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily MacroBusiness&utm_content=Daily MacroBusiness+CID_f243ad8954e949b0ea4c9a7945a939b2&utm_source=Email marketing software&utm_term=Australian household debt out of control

More about Aussie debt ratios. “Despite record low mortgage rates, Australia’s mortgage slaves are still sacrificing a far higher share of their income to pay mortgage interest (let alone principal) than when mortgage rates peaked in 1989-90”.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-10/recession-alert-us-government-revenues-suffer-biggest-drop-financial-crisis

About declining US government tax receipts.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-14/something-snapped-us-department-store-sales-crash-most-record

About US department store sales declining at the fastest YoY rate on record, faster than GFC.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC92012/

Ionizing-Radiation Resistance in the Desiccation-Tolerant Cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis. Of particular interest as it is a photoautotroph, synthesizing their own food from inorganic substances using light as an energy source.

"

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7 hours ago, Xaende said:

Citations, please!

- I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that our environment will deteriorate more rapidly by using solar energy for power than by continuing to rely on fossil fuels. Economic systems rise and fall, but the general trend has been toward improved quality of life.

So help me I'll address each point as succinctly as possible.

 

Here's one reference to get you started (remember that the 1% energy use they're referring to is TOTAL energy use, not just electricity):

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineers/

 

As demonstrated in an earlier chart, renewables themselves are far more expensive than other energy types. Furthermore, renewables require a backup system to run due to their intermittent nature.

The material and energy cost to run such a dual setup means that the affected areas must draw far more resources from the Earth to function, thus renewables are actually more harmful overall.

Then there's also the material and energy costs in electrifying all heating and transportation which the above article goes into.

 

"Improved quality of life", organizational level technology and similar things require resources of all sorts to be consumed faster than they are naturally replenished. Clearly such a state of affairs cannot go on forever. For more info check out the links.

 

7 hours ago, Xaende said:

- Fossil fuels are more efficient at this time, but we're using them at a higher rate than the rate at which they're being replenished. As far as I'm aware, we don't need to blanket the Earth with solar panels for them to be effective. There are already people living off the grid by using solar power, among other alternative sources of energy. This has been going on for years, becoming easier and more accessible with time.

Those people are using products made available by fossil fuels. The requirements for some "off-grid" person living such a lifestyle are quite different to the requirements for factories, smelters, cargo ships, chemical plants and so on that must operate to make such a lifestyle possible.

Like in previous posts you're failing to consider all of the necessary elements of industrial civilization that are necessary for any sort of industrial life (off-grid or not) to even be possible.

 

7 hours ago, Xaende said:

- Newer, more complicated, devices can actually be easier to recycle than old devices:
1. They may be designed to be recycled. For an example, you might want to read about Apple's recycling program.
2. We're getting better at recycling.

Unfortunately I didn't keep references relating to recycling. Suffice to say that that our "progress" in recycling is lagging far behind the growing complexity of devices used.

In theory maybe some devices can be designed to be recycled. In practice, rare earth minerals and other substances present in complex devices in such small amounts make it prohibitively expensive compared to extraction. Again apologies for lack of references here, I'll keep some as I come across them for the future.

I suppose the following diagram should give you some sort of idea about smartphones (and yes there are other devices as complex and more complex than smartphones):

Recycling-Rates-of-Smartphone-Elements.p

7 hours ago, Xaende said:

- It's possible to design and build solar cells and panels at home. That suggests more autonomy, not less. Check out what this guy did: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-solar-cell-from-scratch/

Actually, instructables has a lot of great tutorials for DIY solar projects. Solar is more accessible than designing and building one's own internal combustion engine, let alone digging for and refining the oil to turn into fuel.

Hahahaa. So you're saying that by using tools and materials made in factories/chemical plants/smelters/etc powered mostly by fossil fuels and transported using vehicles powered by fossil fuels (using roads and other infrastructure maintained by fossil-fuel powered vehicles) you can make your own little solar cell.

Newsflash: without the internal combustion engine vehicles and other parts of industrial civilization you wouldn't be able to make your solar panels. You call this "autonomy"?

 

As before you make the mistake of looking only at one tiny part of the system (what the end-user sees and uses for DIY projects) and completely forget about the global supply chain and economy that's necessary to make it all possible.

 

You want to be autonomous? Try making your solar cell without using anything from any shops or utilizing any energy or material made available by our global industrial system.

Basically whatever you can get from the natural environment on your own:

Biogradska_suma.jpg

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@Xaende Instructables ftw!

 

@WileyWarWeasel

You really aren't getting it. Look up earthships, uses passive solar design to keep houses at a 71° temp all year round when used with natural earth berm wall (with piping for passive A/C). Has complete independence in terms of water, very limited solar or wind power is needed due to no air conditioning or water heater being required, can grow a great deal of food all year round inside, provides enough water for a small orchard in front of the house.

So let's break that down, when in the right location these houses can provide all the water (and food needs when combined with goats and chickens) for a family, uses a small amount of solar power, and the house itself is simple enough not to require much repair. As compared to horribly inefficient houses with large air conditioning and heating systems required to be run so people don't fry in basically godawful house design and construction.

So no need to transport water, or build and maintain expensive pipe work, with local food very minimal transportation or large-scale processing needed, and guess what the house is made out of? Mainly mud and trash.

Trash. Old tires, glass bottles, and soda cans. Yes there is wood of course but that can be local and sustainable (less energy spent on transportation), the only real things in the house that aren't are appliances (which yes would need traditional manufacturing until people realize wood stoves are pretty cool), metal for roof and fixtures, glass, and the liming plaster.

So in short you are right about solar power not being as economical as gasoline right now. The infrastructure is not there to basically maintain the same incredibly wasteful societies we have now..... But that's not solar's fault.

As I mentioned solar is not just photovoltaic cells. It's also heat collection in a very raw form. Do you know how expensive it is to run piping under some rocks and put them in the hot sun? Not near as expensive as mining gasoline in absurdely hard to reach places then delivering it to across the world through a very very complex infrastructure with a wide variety of vehicles etc.

So yes, gasoline is a thing that can power wasteful houses, wasteful city design, food that has to be processed in big factories and shipped all the fuck over the place. It can power them at extreme cost to the enviroment, not to mention the financial costs of maintaining so so much equipment for all of this.

 

(Also saw something on vertical farming in cities, very smart. I'm really understanding why people like the locally grown food now because it's just makes sense not to buy something from hundreds or thousands of miles away, ship it to you using a shitton of gasoline, and then probably have it go to waste anyways)

Also for recycling the best things are not the rare earth minerals that for sone reason people like to put in everything, but bulk plastic and metal etc

And lol, you realize that to power a house using coal or the like, you have to ship things there year after year? The point of things like PV cells is you get it set up and are basically done aside from batteries which get better year by year. Just the maintenance parts for the coal power plant and transport would be more complicated and worse for the enviroment than the manufacture of PV Cells. Not to mention people are starting to get better at using broken PV cells bought from power plants.

And on one last note, what I see as being used for energy is composting. That stuff gets seriously hot, generates richer soil for farming, and takes care of food waste without locking it into a typical red clay dump where the nutrients are unreachable.

 

images (7).jpg

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@Fantasma What you're not getting is that you still need various tools and devices for such a house (for things like gardening). It also looks like it uses various materials made available by industrial civilization.

Does such a house produce all of its own tools using 100% local materials that are also extracted entirely by its own tools? Or are you relying on scavenging or buying tools and materials from elsewhere which breaks down over time.

That building is still reliant on the industrial system to exist.

 

Pay careful attention to this image. See that these people do not use anything from industrial civilization. No tools, no materials, no infrastructure. That's autonomy.

Spoiler for National Geographic-tier nudity, but still nudity. ~mod Vae

58897c866da55739c96be086c025a780.jpg

Edited by Vae

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On 5/9/2017 at 1:51 AM, WileyWarWeasel said:

As demonstrated in an earlier chart, renewables themselves are far more expensive than other energy types. Furthermore, renewables require a backup system to run due to their intermittent nature.

The material and energy cost to run such a dual setup means that the affected areas must draw far more resources from the Earth to function, thus renewables are actually more harmful overall.

Then there's also the material and energy costs in electrifying all heating and transportation which the above article goes into.

 

"Improved quality of life", organizational level technology and similar things require resources of all sorts to be consumed faster than they are naturally replenished. Clearly such a state of affairs cannot go on forever. For more info check out the links.

 

Those people are using products made available by fossil fuels. The requirements for some "off-grid" person living such a lifestyle are quite different to the requirements for factories, smelters, cargo ships, chemical plants and so on that must operate to make such a lifestyle possible.

Like in previous posts you're failing to consider all of the necessary elements of industrial civilization that are necessary for any sort of industrial life (off-grid or not) to even be possible.

 

Thank you for providing references.

However, I don't see where I've overlooked the fact that most components are manufactured elsewhere. Economies of scale and specialization lower costs. Although 3D printers and small-scale manufacturing may lessen the need to a degree, it will likely remain necessary for the manufacture of many items.

My point is that the efficiency of solar tech is becoming more efficient, and narrowing the gap with more conventional sources of energy. We can do more with it than we could just a few decades ago. Solar can, and does, increase the user's autonomy in meaningful ways by providing heat, electric, water purification, etc. without direct reliance on big utility companies. Dependence on fossil fuels is lessened when living off the grid, or simply through partial implementation of solar solutions. Think of it as a tool, or a class of tools. Just because a tool depends on the factory that makes it, that doesn't negate the usefulness of the tool. With the right tools and a little ingenuity, it even becomes possible to improve how the factories themselves are built. That process got us to where we are today, and to remain competitive it must continually evolve.

You are correct that "such state of affairs" can't go on forever, but I think you are mistaken in your assumption that this is necessarily a bad thing. I'll continue to hedge my bets on scientific and technological progress as the most likely solution to humanity's energy and environmental problems. Solar still strikes me a realistic long-term option for heat and power. I don't think it should be written off so quickly.

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3 hours ago, Xaende said:

Thank you for providing references.

However, I don't see where I've overlooked the fact that most components are manufactured elsewhere. Economies of scale and specialization lower costs. Although 3D printers and small-scale manufacturing may lessen the need to a degree, it will likely remain necessary for the manufacture of many items.

 

On 09/05/2017 at 7:24 AM, Xaende said:

- It's possible to design and build solar cells and panels at home. That suggests more autonomy, not less. Check out what this guy did: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-solar-cell-from-scratch/

Actually, instructables has a lot of great tutorials for DIY solar projects. Solar is more accessible than designing and building one's own internal combustion engine, let alone digging for and refining the oil to turn into fuel.

You completely overlooked that the components to make your solar cells are made possible by a global system of energy/material extraction, processing, manufacturing, transportation, etc.

Using components from such a system suggests that you're still tied to the industrial system by the apron strings. No industrial system, and your homemade collection slowly falls apart without replacements coming in.

 

3 hours ago, Xaende said:

My point is that the efficiency of solar tech is becoming more efficient, and narrowing the gap with more conventional sources of energy. We can do more with it than we could just a few decades ago. Solar can, and does, increase the user's autonomy in meaningful ways by providing heat, electric, water purification, etc. without direct reliance on big utility companies. Dependence on fossil fuels is lessened when living off the grid, or simply through partial implementation of solar solutions. Think of it as a tool, or a class of tools. Just because a tool depends on the factory that makes it, that doesn't negate the usefulness of the tool. With the right tools and a little ingenuity, it even becomes possible to improve how the factories themselves are built. That process got us to where we are today, and to remain competitive it must continually evolve.

Solar panels don't spring out of nowhere. Once again you look at the tail-end of the industrial system (solar panels) and fail to recognize all of the processes, machines, etc required to make them available to the end user, almost entirely fossil fuel and nuclear powered and all using materials from a finite world. You are still dependent on fossil and other fuels to get your precious solar panels and other goods and services.

If in some hypothetical scenario 100% renewable energy (including transportation and heating not just electricity) were to be used to make equipment to harvest renewable energy the material and energy cost to maintain such a system would be far greater than any energy derived from such sources. Such a system would quickly collapse.

I demonstrated with a chart previously that even with relatively small percentages of renewables the costs of electricity climb rapidly, and these are recent figures as well.

 

There is also the matter of diminishing returns when it comes to efficiency improvements. In ideal conditions and when the sun is at its zenith, the amount of solar radiation hitting the ground is around 1120 W/m2. No matter how much technology improves, this figure will not change (apart from slow changes in things like the sun obviously).

The closer you get to the 1120 W/m2 limit, the harder it becomes to make any efficiency gains because the cheapest to research and implement improvements have already been made.

 

There are also diminishing returns when it comes to resource extraction from the earth itself. Metal ore for example is almost always mined from the shallowest and cheapest to extract locations first.

As the cheapest ores are mined first civilization is eventually left with ores that are deeper underground, in less hospitable terrain and/or of a lower quality.

Again, it doesn't matter how much technology improves it will always be more expensive to extract something that is say 2km underground rather than 500m.

 

Civilization as a whole has adapted to this by growing faster than the downward pressure applied by diminishing returns and also by increasing complexity. It has also grown faster than the increasing costs incurred through things like pollution, debt and complexity itself. Globalization of the economy and society was a part of this.

Complexity has its own pitfalls as well though. The supply chain of almost everything in society now involves multiple countries, even for basic items like a toothbrush. This means that for even basic items there is enormous interdependence of all the components involved, and failures in just a few crucial junctions have flow-on effects to the rest of the system.

 

The complexity pitfalls also extend to growing complexity in devices. As devices have become more complex the energy/material requirements to recycle them have outgrown the progress made in recycling techniques. The mobile phone is one of many recent examples.

There is also a wealth of data indicating that **despite** all of the technological progress we've made in the past hundred years and in more recent years, civilization as a whole consumes more resources than are naturally replenished (after being converted to various wastes) and that the waste products created are harmful to the vast majority of organisms and are output at a much faster rate than the environment and ecological system can handle. The rate of organic and inorganic material/energy consumption and waste production has increased over time despite technological progress (or really, because of it if we're being honest).

 

3 hours ago, Xaende said:

You are correct that "such state of affairs" can't go on forever, but I think you are mistaken in your assumption that this is necessarily a bad thing. I'll continue to hedge my bets on scientific and technological progress as the most likely solution to humanity's energy and environmental problems. Solar still strikes me a realistic long-term option for heat and power. I don't think it should be written off so quickly.

Just so that you don't get the mistaken impression that I'm just assuming, here's some easy-to-read data that shows what we've been doing to our world with all of our technological and scientific progress. There's much more than this but this should give you an idea of what our scientific progress has done to our world.

Biomass_zpse59f7bcc.png

pnas.1508353112fig03.jpg

Fig-4-Global-trends-in-the-state-of-worlWorld fish stocks.

forestareawb.jpg.7d0e66c363653e03a62914cfd5e1fce6.jpg From the World Bank, referring to world forest area.

species_loss.jpg Data from United States Geological Survey, showing world data.

 

We can clearly see that the social/scientific/technological/whatever progress we've made over the years has had significant detrimental effects on the environment. We can also clearly see that with recent "scientific progress" the rate of deterioration in some major areas (like species extinction rate) has increased.

 

How much more evidence do you need? Or do you think that if we just invent the right device (it's always around the corner!) we'll mitigate or even reverse the damage that we've done and the damage we're currently doing at a much faster rate than before?

 

Clearly it's never occurred to you that the very production and transportation of anything made by industrial civilization (including solar panels and electric vehicles that you seem to cherish) involves many material/energy extraction and transformation steps across the world, almost all of which harm the environment / ecosystem in one or multiple ways. You pay lip service when saying "However, I don't see where I've overlooked the fact that most components are manufactured elsewhere." but you obviously don't understand the implications of such a system.

If you understood the implications you wouldn't be spewing nonsense about "renewables" being clean as it is obvious that the extraction, transportation and transformation of energy/materials used in "renewable" technology is environmentally destructive every step of the way. Not only that, because the tech and the additional equipment required (eg inverters, batteries for storage, etc) is overall materially/energetically more expensive (as reflected in costs when you factor everything that is required) it's actually more environmentally unsound overall because the system needs more energy/material to make renewables "work".

 

All this being said, I recommend that you do some reading on topics such as "global supply chain" and "just in time logistics" so that you actually have a clue what it means for "components to be manufactured elsewhere".

 

TLDR: When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.

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imageproxy.php?img=&key=152e9e4630a31b91@WileyWarWeasel

I've neither overlooked nor ignored the manufacturing process. I just recognize that it is dynamic and evolving, whereas you regard it as static and fixed. The "tail-end" of the industrial system you speak of becomes more viable and mainstream by the day. Slowly increasing in efficiency and decreasing in cost as it becomes less of the "tail" and more of the body.

I'm well aware that solar panels are made of stuff. So is everything else.

Yes, alternative energy sources are generally more expensive than fossil fuels. This is largely due to supply and demand, combined with the relative inefficiencies. Neither of these are static. The sun gives off a fixed amount of energy, but as the technology matures we are able utilize more of it.

800px-PVeff(rev170414).jpg

We are nowhere near the limit, and battery storage technology continues to improve. Likewise, our machines become more efficient through advances in science and engineering. Batteries are probably the weakest link in the chain at this time. There's lots of room for improvement in terms of storage capacity and waste.

Meanwhile, the cost of oil rises as the cost of solar falls.

Crude Oil Price History Chart (macrotrends.net):

crude-oil-price-history-chart-2017-05-12-macrotrends.png.e151b8c779f5c371d68539002ba596f9.png

 

As the cost of oil rises, the cost of solar falls:

50d6ba1d0b3e2705bb4af4360af38d41.png

 

fall-in-solar-prices-chart-1.png

 

We're also becoming more efficient with other things, such as food production:

fam.thumb.png.bb8bd59baa631776a5b5d5d9713040e5.png

 

If you are arguing that population increases and the spread of technology has caused a few problems, I agree with you on that point. Is it too late for us? I don't know. I just think advancements in science in technology are our best bet for finding solutions to these problems. Solar may or may not be the silver bullet, but it's an increasingly viable step in the right direction and a promising technology in its own right.

 

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Why we gotta bitch about how nonrenewable energy sources dont work when we could be finding or focusing on efficent means to try not to kill the planet instead?

 

VAL WHY YOU POST ON MY ACCOUNT

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33 minutes ago, Xaende said:

I've neither overlooked nor ignored the manufacturing process. I just recognize that it is dynamic and evolving, whereas you regard it as static and fixed. The "tail-end" of the industrial system you speak of becomes more viable and mainstream by the day. Slowly increasing in efficiency and decreasing in cost as it becomes less of the "tail" and more of the body.

Actually I said that it has changed quite a bit, becoming the opposite of what you've said. Rather the supply chain for simple and complex items alike has become globalized.

Yes, you can use the materials made available for your own DIY projects and the info for such projects is becoming more mainstream. That doesn't change the fact that the supply chain for such materials has moved away from local to global in scope, especially as the machines involved in extraction/processing/etc usually get their parts from elsewhere which require materials/energy from somewhere else which require a different set of machines and so on.

 

38 minutes ago, Xaende said:

I'm well aware that solar panels are made of stuff. So is everything else.

You completely missed the point.

Here it is: "Once again you look at the tail-end of the industrial system (solar panels) and fail to recognize all of the processes, machines, etc required to make them available to the end user, almost entirely fossil fuel and nuclear powered and all using materials from a finite world. You are still dependent on fossil and other fuels to get your precious solar panels and other goods and services.

The supply chain of almost everything in society now involves multiple countries, even for basic items like a toothbrush. This means that for even basic items there is enormous interdependence of all the components involved, and failures in just a few crucial junctions have flow-on effects to the rest of the system."

How has the tail-end become more of the body if extraction/processing/manufacturing/etc processes are now performed in multiple countries even for simple things?

 

44 minutes ago, Xaende said:

Yes, alternative energy sources are generally more expensive than fossil fuels. This is largely due to supply and demand, combined with the relative inefficiencies. Neither of these are static. The sun gives off a fixed amount of energy, but as the technology matures we are able utilize more of it.

Actually it is mostly due to converting a diffuse form of energy into a more concentrated form as well as the intermittent nature of renewables. You will always have to expend more energy/material to obtain renewable energy due to these factors alone.

Then there's also the fact that renewable energy equipment is not made from renewable material, with recycling issues discussed earlier.

43 minutes ago, Xaende said:

We are nowhere near the limit, and battery storage technology continues to improve. Likewise, our machines become more efficient through advances in science and engineering. Batteries are probably the weakest link in the chain at this time. There's lots of room for improvement in terms of storage capacity and waste.

Meanwhile, the cost of oil rises as the cost of solar falls.

 

Obviously one cannot rely on fossil fuels indefinitely.

Yet despite the improvements/growth in solar/wind including recent improvements they are still much more expensive than fossil fuels.

euan-mearns-europe-electric-price.png?w=

 

Then there are also the costs of electrifying all transportation and heating if one were to seriously convert to renewables:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineers/

 

These charts you've provided show interesting trends as well, which you've missed:

57 minutes ago, Xaende said:

 

fall-in-solar-prices-chart-1.png

 

We're also becoming more efficient with other things, such as food production:

fam.thumb.png.bb8bd59baa631776a5b5d5d9713040e5.png

 

Notice in the first chart that even according to solar advocates themselves efficiency gains have slowed down a lot since 2012.

Also notice that productivity and agricultural output have barely risen since 2004 while inputs are almost even since 2004.

 

The battery efficiency improvement is a bit better but the materials involved in batteries are still incredibly toxic, the waste materials produced are even more toxic and only some parts of the batteries can be recycled. Also they are unsurprisingly very toxic to dispose of as well. If you want I can post more info about how "green" batteries are.

It's ridiculous that people still think that batteries are more environmentally friendly or cheaper than a simple fuel tank (or equivalent container for holding concentrated energy like coal, gas is expensive to store compared to oil and coal products I'll grant you that).

1 hour ago, Xaende said:

If you are arguing that population increases and the spread of technology has caused a few problems, I agree with you on that point. Is it too late for us? I don't know. I just think advancements in science in technology are our best bet for finding solutions to these problems. Solar may or may not be the silver bullet, but it's an increasingly viable step in the right direction and a promising technology in its own right.

You argue that science and tech are the best solutions, yet your own graphs show efficiency gains slowing down over time.

Efficiency gains are also slowing down elsewhere despite technological progress:

five-year-average-growth-in-productivity Using OECD data.

At the same time that efficiency gains are slowing down, the rates of change for other things have sped up.

4 hours ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

 

pnas.1508353112fig03.jpg

 

4 hours ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

species_loss.jpg Data from United States Geological Survey, showing world data.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Fantasma said:

Why we gotta bitch about how nonrenewable energy sources dont work when we could be finding or focusing on efficent means to try not to kill the planet instead?

Like I said earlier, equipment involved in "renewable" energy extraction and transformation (including inverters, load-balancing equipment, etc) are made from nonrenewable materials.

Obviously the equipment that uses the energy is also made from nonrenewable materials.

 

You do bring up a good point though, so it's time for some positivity and positivism :D

 

Even if humans unleash a nuclear war on the planet we'll most likely not kill it. There are plenty of organisms (mostly microorganisms and insects) that are incredibly resilient to various extreme conditions including ionizing radiation that would kill more complex life like mammals/humans.

 

Here's some links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC92012/

Ionizing-Radiation Resistance in the Desiccation-Tolerant Cyanobacterium Chroococcidiopsis. Of particular interest as it is a photoautotroph, synthesizing their own food from inorganic substances using light as an energy source.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGux5FH-BdcCie411y6FiZQ

Quick course on microbiology showcasing how resilient and ubiquitous microorganisms are.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade

Of course there are plenty of resilient heterotrophs such as the tardigrade. The wiki info is general but it is well cited and provides a starting point.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiotrophic_fungus

Radiotrophic fungi, granted the research is a bit preliminary but off to a good start.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermococcus_gammatolerans

The most radiation-resistant organism encountered, it also lives in extremely acidic and hot environments.

https://micro.cornell.edu/research/epulopiscium/bacterial-endospores

Details how certain bacteria form endospores when confronted with adverse conditions. "Endospores can survive environmental assaults that would normally kill the bacterium. These stresses include high temperature, high UV irradiation, desiccation, chemical damage and enzymatic destruction. The extraordinary resistance properties of endospores make them of particular importance because they are not readily killed by many antimicrobial treatments. A variety of different microorganisms form "spores" or "cysts", but the endospores of low G+C Gram-positive bacteria are by far the most resistant to harsh conditions."

 

Then there are of course resilient macroorganisms like fruit flies. There's plenty of microscopic and some macroscopic organisms that should do fine even in a worst case scenario, do a search for "extremophiles" to learn about more such organisms.

 

4 hours ago, WileyWarWeasel said:

 

Biomass_zpse59f7bcc.png

Notice how the animal biomass was overall lower in 10000BC compared to more recent years. This is mostly due to the fact that humans and their domestic animals utilized biomass from elsewhere such as the oceans as well as the world's phytomass, but a great portion also comes from utilizing fossil fuels and other materials as fertilizers to increase crop yields and thus feed more humans and domesticated animals.

 

As some resilient heterotrophs will likely survive, this means that if humans and their animals die off for whatever reason their biomass will (eventually) be converted into more resilient forms of life. There are even some organisms that prosper directly from substances emitted by civilization such as carbon dioxide (capnophiles), methane (methanotrophs), and there are even some organisms that feed off of metals and other substances toxic to most others (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbial_corrosion).

 

I know that I've used some wiki references in this post but the wiki posts themselves use plenty of citations from actual scientific research. They should at least give you some general understanding about the more resilient organisms that inhabit this Earth.

There are various costs to dredging up carbon (eg from fossil fuels) and other substances in order to dissipate them into the surrounding environment, loss of biodiversity is one of them.

 

You can rest assured though that at least some resilient forms of life (mostly microbes) will likely survive the worst that we can throw at the Earth ;)

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Believe, build, and grow until it fails then pick up the pieces and continue as best you can. Anything less is defeatism and has less of a point than trying.

Even if renewables aren't the end all be all, they extend our grasp. Who cares how difficult and inhospitable space is if we can still conquer it to extract use and resources from it? Interdependence forces peace and complexity drives us to be better. There is value in trying in the face of overwhelming odds. To say that diminishing returns on this trend or another are harbingers of ultimate doom ignores the potential of technology for radical transformation.That is to say, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

The finite nature of the universe will always be the primary problem that civilization works on, but its secondary goals must always be to extend its benefits and enfranchise more people, more creatures, more environments. It is the transformation of one ultimately unsustainable system into another one with a potential for greater utility of that finite universe.

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58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

Believe, build, and grow until it fails then pick up the pieces and continue as best you can. Anything less is defeatism and has less of a point than trying.

An interesting point. Ignoring the consequences of our actions also appears to be a part of it.

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

Even if renewables aren't the end all be all, they extend our grasp.

Renewables certainly have their niche, but it is pure delusion to think that they can be endlessly (and quickly enough!) improved to make up for diminishing returns and increasing systemic costs elsewhere. Even the graphs @Xaende showed that the efficiency gains slowed down immensely.

 

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

Who cares how difficult and inhospitable space is if we can still conquer it to extract use and resources from it?

Sure, if energy were plentiful and extremely cheap, one could ignore the increased costs of extracting anything in space compared to Earth. The reality is quite different however: commodity companies of all sorts are struggling to function with commodity prices as low as they are as businesses/individuals/governments can no longer afford the previous higher prices even with interest rates at or below zero percent around the world and a record debt binge to boot.

 

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

Interdependence forces peace

An interesting point, and what's more the hard data seems to support your assertion at least when it comes to deaths by state based conflicts. There is still conflict though but one can say that there's less human death directly caused by it.

ourworldindata_wars-after-1946-state-bas

 

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

and complexity drives us to be better.

This part I disagree with, at least partially. Growing complexity and in particular globalization allow people in developed countries to mostly ignore the consequences of their actions (for a time). It allows developed societies to utilize material/energy extraction and transformation processes at much larger distances, usually in developing countries. Because people in developed countries only see the end product (whether it's solar panels, cars, building materials, electronics, etc) they more easily ignore the environmental/societal/ecological costs of almost all of the steps necessary to make the products available including the "green" products.

Another symptom of growing complexity is that it is much harder for individuals to learn about the socioeconomic system that they live in because there are so many more moving components and fields within it compared to even 50 years ago. The end result is that the vast majority of people study one narrow part of the system (usually their occupation) and have a dim view at best of how the rest of the system functions.

I fail to see how being encouraged to have a myopic view of the world thanks to increasing complexity and specialization makes us better, unless you mean that it makes us better and more pliable components in an unsustainable and mostly harmful socioeconomic system. I'm not talking about the shallow "knowledge" that most people have of things like the economy/environment/society that is mostly propaganda fed to them by government and corporate marketers. I'm talking about more detailed knowledge of the various components in the socioeconomic system, their interactions with each other and the wider world.

 

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

There is value in trying in the face of overwhelming odds. To say that diminishing returns on this trend or another are harbingers of ultimate doom ignores the potential of technology for radical transformation.That is to say, it's not the destination, it's the journey.

Almost all civilized humans including you and me live very cushy lives compared to hunter-gatherers. Our apparent triumph in the face of overwhelming odds has been due to utilizing concentrated energy to refashion material into various forms. The concentrated energy and material that is viable to extract is almost all gone and the waste products are harmful to most organisms including ourselves.

All of our technological progress has been to exploit the resources around us at faster and faster rates (look at the world figures). Far from ignoring the potential of technology, I have studied its effects and it is our technological society together with the exploited resources that have led us to our current predicament. To expect technology to solve the problems that it itself creates shows just how delusional we are as a species, that people can deny this fact in the face of overwhelming evidence.

 

You do have a point though that it is the journey that is important. Ultimately everything is temporary including the universe, and has been a wild ride regardless of what the ending will likely be.

 

58 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

The finite nature of the universe will always be the primary problem that civilization works on, but its secondary goals must always be to extend its benefits and enfranchise more people, more creatures, more environments. It is the transformation of one ultimately unsustainable system into another one with a potential for greater utility of that finite universe.

As I've demonstrated with statistics and other data, our civilization has been destroying the environment at an increasing rate and causing species extinctions at higher and higher rates despite our good intentions. With growing wealth inequality and decreasing energy per capita it's arguable whether significantly more people are even being enfranchised anymore.

 

You are correct that ultimately our unsustainable system will transition into something else, it's just that that something else will likely be simpler and more resilient organisms (as the resources for more complexity have already been dissipated) and less / possibly no humans. Then eventually the changing solar conditions will render the Earth uninhabitable even to them but that's not for a few billion years.

 

14 minutes ago, Tsuujou said:

Jesus fucking Christ what a way to ruin a goddamn thread.

On the contrary, I daresay that we might've learned something. Or at least I did ;P

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13 minutes ago, Tsuujou said:

Jesus fucking Christ what a way to ruin a goddamn thread.

I don't know, I had fun. Could stand to have more pics, tho.

It's up to the individual contributors to decide whether it's worth their time to continue a discussion in one direction or take it in another. There's no grand judge who decides whether an argument has been won, lost, or just abandoned and enforces consequences of these outcomes.

TL;DR Pretty pics time!

tmp_32267-tumblr_n60qceocpx1tobu78o6_1280-1170x973-1887703830.thumb.jpg.5751d513be2930daf48ea5f7e080083c.jpg

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17 minutes ago, DrGravitas said:

There's no grand judge who decides whether an argument has been won, lost, or just abandoned and enforces consequences of these outcomes.

No clue what you're getting at with this, but sure.

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I think we should just conclude that discussion for time time being in the same way that the Paris Climate Summit was concluded: with no binding resolutions ^__^

 

Here's a pic of elvish solar punk before I sign off for the day. Enjoy.

365cb2b6b40cec500dcaee502c3325c1.jpg

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So. I want to make clear I....as most Timepunks, do not really care how possible something is. After all, timepunk is (read: clockpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk and solarpunk are) sci-fi.

I never really bothered with the possibilities of this future

tumblr_static_filename_640_v2.jpg

So why should i bother with the science facts behind this one?

69cd6915812aa496910381886e43067f.jpg

But i do know which one is more appealing....

The top obv.

And which one can still have hopes of their future becoming reality

Because honestly the age of steam will probably not come back.

 

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Okay, so what fo ya guyss think of solarpunk fashion? I personally think this is one thing steampunk has the better vision over but I'm biassed.

 

Screenshot_20170512-233658.jpg

Screenshot_20170512-233539.jpg

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Woah!!! I really like the solarpunk fashion! I feel like everyone in a solar punk setting would be dirty vegetarians though. I can care for the environment and still eat a fat, organic, grass fed bit of steak. I'll pay for premium

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