Thursday, October 19, 2006

New! Why I Am A Doomer

A new series here on the Edge: posters will tell our gentle readers, in eloquence far exceeding Chaos’, why they espouse a dark age, collapse, dieoff and the end of most life on the planet. First up is Cherenkov from The Oil Drum. Perhaps, in Chaos’ opinion, the finest expositor of doom in one paragraph one could find. Really hard to argue with, yet the cornucopians manage to do so, although not effectively. Well, to the point, then:

“Clearly the save the automobile movement rules this place.
The talk centers around preserving the technology and not the human.
What I find particularly fascinating is insistence that we can just switch over to less driving, more mass transit, that we can be just like Europe and start walking.
Have you been to Europe? If yes, compare and contrast. Hmmm. US--Five miles to the nearest store. No local food production. No local clothing production. No local industry. Car culture rules. Economy based on import of energy, food, clothing, consumer goods of all stripes, decent fuel efficient cars. We export IOUs. Huge military.
Europe--Walkable cities. More local food but still imports much. Imports fuel in most of Europe. Some local industry, but mostly high tech and service. High concern about energy issues and the political will to get something done. NOT A CAR-CENTRIC CULTURE. Husbands old farming methods. Slow food movement. Small militaries.
I'd say we have about as much chance of becoming like Europe as pulling a cow through your nostril.
The energy cost of converting this vast suburban, car-loving nightmare into a walkable country with local economies will quickly subsume any savings that may be accomplished. The truth is plain. There will be privation. When the NatGas goes, there will be starvation. When the television watching rubes that make up this country see their widescreens go dark and the Mickey D's closing, they will riot. And not one of these fantasies espoused here regarding a transition to another form of energy intense society that just keeps on growing and consuming will ever happen. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Now comes the point where everyone says, oh, pshaw, you doomer. How the heck could that happen? Look at us, we be so smart!!!
Well, if you are so smart, why do we continue to destroy the oceans, the arable land, our aquifers, the air, the climate? Why does our food have the nutritional quality of cardboard? Why do clothes last such a short time? Why can't we build a light bulb that lasts for 100 years? (HINT: we can and did in the fifties. My Uncle invented it for GE. They de-engineered it. "Can't make money with a device like that!") Why did we vote for a man who is clearly a retard, both morally and mentally?
Why? Because humans are incapable of thinking beyond their immediate needs.
My favorite statement today says we have "fifty years of oil left." SO, I GUESS WE ARE OKAY? Screw the future, as long as I gots mine.
Humans are vermin.”
And this:
“I think that EROEI should include a factor called the Inverse Population Effect.
Quite simply, if an effective energy alternative is developed that allows population to continue its upward growth, you must divide the EROEI by that growth factor.
Lets say your windfarm provides energy for a community of one thousand. Because of this energy, population growth business as usual continues and we add another 250 mouths to feed and energize: a quite reasonable number given our current growth rate.
As you may notice, the amount of energy produced does not increase, and the amount of energy availble per capita decreases. The standard answer is build more windmills. That requires resources including land, more energy to build the mills, metals, etc. We continue to grow our population, but if you follow the trend out to its logical conclusion, we must reach a balance point where population needs cannot be met if more windmills are built. At this point we have a moment of decision.
Either we control population, or we let the quality of life erode. (The question of what constitutes an appropriate definition of a satisfactory quality of life is another interesting issue.) Obviously more windmills will not solve the problem of insufficient arable land or potable water.
Again, the desire by the technos to keep the techno ball in the air precludes rational thinking. Overpopulation is the problem -- not the potential fall of our toy obsessed, growth addicted, and infotainment driven, energy drunk civilization. The greatest minds in our brief rise as a thinking creature lived in a pre-energy rich society. The best art we have ever created came about without the help of the Internet or 250 channel cable.
Yes, pre-hightech lives were often tougher, but not because they lacked technology per se. Their lives were tougher because they did not know how to control population. Or, they did not know that they needed to control it. We know. And, yes, that knowledge comes thanks largely to this tech bubble, but that does not mean we need to hold onto this beast forever. Think Daedalus and Icarus.
Because engineers are such short term thinkers, I doubt that my presentation of rock solid, indisputable facts will sway them. They cannot see the limits. What they know is that they can build a boat in the basement. They just won't have an "ah-hah" moment until the last nail is hammered into the last plank on their boat and they look up and realise they must disassemble the boat to get it out of the basement. Let's hope there is a world outside their closed-minded inner world for them to reassemble the boat in.”

Take a bow, Cherenkov. Not bad.

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