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tryptych
20-01-2008, 05:41 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2243980,00.html

Bit suprised he doesn't talk about the alternative - less people on the planet - especially as that seemed to be his position in "Straw Dogs"

crackerjack
20-01-2008, 11:57 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2243980,00.html

Bit suprised he doesn't talk about the alternative - less people on the planet - especially as that seemed to be his position in "Straw Dogs"

He brings it in at the end:


Green activists, free-market economists and religious fundamentalists may not seem to have much in common, but they are all agreed there can be no such thing as overpopulation...
Actually, the perennially unpopular Rev Thomas Malthus was closer to the truth when, at the end of the 18th century, he argued that population growth would finally overtake food production. Industrial farming was supposed to make famine impossible. But it turns out to have been heavily dependent on cheap oil, and with farmland being lost as a result of the switch to biofuels, limits on food production are re-emerging. Far more than fantastical schemes for renewable energy, we need to ensure that contraception and abortion are freely available everywhere. A world of fewer people would be far better placed to deal with climate change than the heavily overpopulated one we are heading for now.

tryptych
21-01-2008, 11:34 AM
Doh :o

Mr. Tea
21-01-2008, 04:05 PM
The last sentence is quite telling:


It would be ironic if, because of their irrational hostility to high-tech solutions, the greens were to end up as much a threat to the environment as George W Bush.

Perhaps we should have a 'nuclear energy: yea or nay?' thread.

vimothy
21-01-2008, 04:07 PM
I think he misunderstands Malthus and misrepresents "green activists, free-market economists and religious fundamentalists" -- there is no shared consensus between those three groups regarding overpopulation.

Mr. Tea
21-01-2008, 04:10 PM
I think he misunderstands Malthus and misrepresents "green activists, free-market economists and religious fundamentalists" -- there is no shared consensus between those three groups regarding overpopulation.

You just resent being grouped with hippies, don't you? ;)

vimothy
21-01-2008, 04:48 PM
You just resent being grouped with hippies, don't you? ;)

*Moves to stereo*
*Puts Slayer on*

crackerjack
21-01-2008, 04:48 PM
The last sentence is quite telling:



Perhaps we should have a 'nuclear energy: yea or nay?' thread.


I find it impossibble to have aan opinion because I''m scientifically unqualified. I mean, the way things are (oil running out, climate change) it looks like a no-brainer, but, yunno, I've seen Edge Of Darkness man :eek:

vimothy
21-01-2008, 05:23 PM
I find it impossibble to have aan opinion because I''m scientifically unqualified. I mean, the way things are (oil running out, climate change) it looks like a no-brainer, but, yunno, I've seen Edge Of Darkness man :eek:

Isn't the most worrying thing about nuclear power the fact that the technical expertise is very limited now, so even if we did decide that we wanted nuclear power of some sort, the human capital required would take years to replenish?

Mr. Tea
21-01-2008, 08:22 PM
Isn't the most worrying thing about nuclear power the fact that the technical expertise is very limited now, so even if we did decide that we wanted nuclear power of some sort, the human capital required would take years to replenish?

I'm not sure what you mean by this - that if lots of scientists decided to work in creating and maintaining a new wave of nuclear power, we wouldn't have enough to...well, what exactly? Put men on the moon again, take care of ageing nuclear stockpiles?

I think nuclear, suplimented by renwables wherever possible and combined with the application emmission-reducing technology to conventional power stations, is the best course of action over the short to medium term. That's in terms of generating electricity, of course; there's also the question of reducing consumption, which can be a lot less tokenistic than some people claim if you can get big business involved. A lot of companies that rent large office space leave all their lights on overnight, for instance - tackling a single instance of this sort of wastage would be equivalent to getting hundreds of households to improve their energy efficiency.

nomadologist
21-01-2008, 11:32 PM
I think nuclear, suplimented by renwables wherever possible and combined with the application emmission-reducing technology to conventional power stations, is the best course of action over the short to medium term. That's in terms of generating electricity, of course; there's also the question of reducing consumption, which can be a lot less tokenistic than some people claim if you can get big business involved. A lot of companies that rent large office space leave all their lights on overnight, for instance - tackling a single instance of this sort of wastage would be equivalent to getting hundreds of households to improve their energy efficiency.

Agree 100% on nuclear energy being the best short-term (or even "medium-term) viable option for reducing emissions and conserving energy in general.

Surely once the demand for nuclear physicists raises the supply will as well? Just like the supply of IT professionals rose exponentially after the internet became common in U.S. households in the mid-late 90s.

Mr. Tea
21-01-2008, 11:41 PM
Indeed: if the jobs are there, and they're competitvely waged, qualified people will take them.

What nuclear energy *really* needs, though, is an army of crack PR experts to convince the public that another Chernobyl* isn't going to happen - in addition to the engineers needed to ensure that it won't!


*though interestingly, that particular disaster was due to politicians ignoring and overriding the scientists running the reactor - it wasn't a technical error at all

Eric
22-01-2008, 02:51 AM
*though interestingly, that particular disaster was due to politicians ignoring and overriding the scientists running the reactor - it wasn't a technical error at all

I thought it had to with politicization of the process: the scientists/technicians were unable to tell their superiors that there was an actual problem, and so it could not be addressed?

vimothy
22-01-2008, 10:55 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by this - that if lots of scientists decided to work in creating and maintaining a new wave of nuclear power, we wouldn't have enough to...well, what exactly? Put men on the moon again, take care of ageing nuclear stockpiles?

Er, I mean that if we wanted to create a new generation of nuclear power stations (for example), then we would have to find the technical capability from somewhere, because there aren't that many people with knowledge kicking around any more. It's been the subject of plenty of studies (e.g, the NPC Hard Truths About Energy report).


Indeed: if the jobs are there, and they're competitvely waged, qualified people will take them.

I somehow doubt that the turn-around will be so simple -- "let's recreate our nuclear industry". "OK, me and brian will do it."

nomadologist
22-01-2008, 12:36 PM
It's not that difficult to build nuclear power plants and run them. It really isn't. It's more a question of where the money will come from than where the scientific know-how will. There are plenty of biotech industry employed nuclear physicists in the U.S. who would jump at the chance.

crackerjack
22-01-2008, 12:51 PM
It's not that difficult to build nuclear power plants and run them. It really isn't. It's more a question of where the money will come from than where the scientific know-how will. There are plenty of biotech industry employed nuclear physicists in the U.S. who would jump at the chance.

This sounds right. The French (I believe) have been predominantly nuclear for ages.

I can't imagine the know-how has been lost - presumably people keep notes :slanted:

vimothy
22-01-2008, 01:05 PM
This sounds right. The French (I believe) have been predominantly nuclear for ages.

I can't imagine the know-how has been lost - presumably people keep notes :slanted:

I'm not talking about "know-how". The question is, where is the human capital going to come from? You can't just pull it out of your ass, any more than the energy industry in general can make up the projected shortfall in its workforce by saying, "ah well, drilling for oil's not that hard."

Mr. Tea
22-01-2008, 01:06 PM
I thought it had to with politicization of the process: the scientists/technicians were unable to tell their superiors that there was an actual problem, and so it could not be addressed?

Well it probably amounts to the same thing, in a country like the USSR where you'll Damn Well Do What You're Told, right? The engineers running the reactor, like all competent engineers, knew what was and what wasn't a safe level to run their machine at - orders came down from on high that power output had to increase in order to meet that year's energy quota or whatever, and such orders were not to be gainsaid.

A good example of a 'targets culture' gone awry, perhaps!

Gabba Flamenco Crossover
13-05-2008, 01:29 PM
I'm not talking about "know-how". The question is, where is the human capital going to come from? You can't just pull it out of your ass, any more than the energy industry in general can make up the projected shortfall in its workforce by saying, "ah well, drilling for oil's not that hard."

Bloody hell, I missed this completely. Is Vimothy proposing some kind of economic planning is in order here? Did a squadron of pigs just soar overhead?

Grievous Angel
13-05-2008, 01:45 PM
There is not a need for vastly lower population worldwide. There is a need for less, or more sustainable, consumption by rich people.

The man is obviously a tosser.

Mr. Tea
13-05-2008, 02:01 PM
There is a need for less, or more sustainable, consumption by rich people.


Good luck telling China that!

Not that most Chinese are 'rich', by any stretch, but the country as a whole is getting richer at an astonishing rate, which is of course inevitably both a cause and an effect of a turbo-charged industrialisation.

vimothy
13-05-2008, 02:17 PM
Bloody hell, I missed this completely. Is Vimothy proposing some kind of economic planning is in order here? Did a squadron of pigs just soar overhead?

Ha -- and it only took five months for someone to point that out! Weird thread where nomad's arguing for the power of the market and I'm saying that it might need some help...

Anyways, I see oil prices as reflecting:

1. Growng demand from emerging markets (nothing rich people can do anything about)
2. Increasing resourse nationalism (supply chain problems)
3. Speculators hedging against inflation (due to negative real interest rates)
3. Increased reserve holding (because of the first three problems)

vimothy
13-05-2008, 02:23 PM
But don't worry: Hillary Clinton will make it all better (http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0508/Clinton_OPEC_can_no_longer_be_a_cartel.html).

crackerjack
16-05-2008, 10:20 AM
There is not a need for vastly lower population worldwide. There is a need for less, or more sustainable, consumption by rich people.

The man is obviously a tosser.

His point is that no amount of guilt-tripping on the upper/middle classes will achieve anything worth a damn, it will just make some people feel good. The evidence is that he's right.

He's not advocating a programme of mass sterilisation/extermination, but universal access to birth control. I can't see the tosser-ness in that.

Mr. Tea
16-05-2008, 01:28 PM
Universal birth control would certainly be a very good start, but even if the world's population stabilised tomorrow, we'd still be in the shit thanks to the established industrialisation of the developed world and the very rapid development of industry in the developing world.

To put it another way: as far as I understand it (and if I'm talking arse here, please feel free to tell me so!) we're already passed the point of inflection in the world population curve, so that while the population is obviously still increasing, the rate at which it's increasing is itself slowing down (so that, if P = total world population, then d^2 P/d t^2 is negative, if you will). In particular, China's population has more or less stabilised, thanks to the (in)famously effective One Child policy. Most of the world's population growth is occurring in Africa and the Middle East, areas that for the most part have yet to undergo large-scale industrialisation.

vimothy
16-05-2008, 05:23 PM
New research published today by the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) reveals the broad and significant economic repercussions of adopting Kyoto for the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain - and specifically its impact for each nation on energy prices, economic growth and jobs. The research revealed that if the four countries meet their Kyoto emission reduction targets in 2010 they face an average increase in electricity prices of 26% and an average increase of 41% of natural gas prices by 2010. The ICCF research concludes that these consequences would severely damage economic growth and adversely affect standards of living across Europe.
--CCNet, 7 November 2005

Mr. Tea
16-05-2008, 08:46 PM
Talk about disheartening - the idea that significant damage would have to be done to the economies of the major West European countries (though not France, for obvious reasons) just to make a small dent in the increase in China's greenhouse gas output...well, it's a bugger, isn't it?

droid
16-05-2008, 09:39 PM
New research published today by the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) reveals the broad and significant economic repercussions of adopting Kyoto for the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain - and specifically its impact for each nation on energy prices, economic growth and jobs. The research revealed that if the four countries meet their Kyoto emission reduction targets in 2010 they face an average increase in electricity prices of 26% and an average increase of 41% of natural gas prices by 2010. The ICCF research concludes that these consequences would severely damage economic growth and adversely affect standards of living across Europe.

Of course, the economic effects of NOT attempting to stop climate change by curbing emissions are far far worse, and more importanly, completely uncontrolable. Thats not to mention the social and physical costs, and the very serious threat of mass extinction of maybe 37% of plant and animal species on the planet. If the worst happens and we reach tipping point, melting all the ice as a consequence... well lets just say the economic arguments against emission controls will seem somewhat prosaic when the most populated areas of Europe have gone the way of Atlantis.


Talk about disheartening - the idea that significant damage would have to be done to the economies of the major West European countries (though not France, for obvious reasons) just to make a small dent in the increase in China's greenhouse gas output...well, it's a bugger, isn't it?

Carbon Emissions by country (tons):

1. United States 1,650,020

2. China (mainland) 1,366,554

3. Russian Federation 415,951

If the US and Europe achieved even a 30% cut (though a 90% cut is what we need to avoid the worst effects of climate change), that would make more than a dent in the effect of China's output. The new technology developed in such an effort would also go a long way to helping the developing world to curb emissions.

Monbiot is excellent on this in 'Heat'. Its an utterly essential read for skeptics and believers alike.

mixed_biscuits
16-05-2008, 10:08 PM
I thought that ice took up more volume than water - why would melting raise sea levels? Are we talking about ice that is currently resting out of harm's way on land?

Mr. Tea
17-05-2008, 12:04 AM
I think your figures are out of date, Droid - China became the world's biggest CO2 emitter a year or two ago. And a report that came out earlier this year said that, for the period 2006-2010, a total of FIVE Kyoto Protocol-sized reductions in CO2 output would be needed to offset the *increase* in China's output over the same period.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_policy_of_China#Environment_and_carbon_emis sions

(Of course, the greenhouse gas emissions *per person* in China are much smaller than those of most developed countries - half that of the UK and a quarter of the US - but they're rising rapidly.)

M_b, you're right that the main concern is over ice caps and glaciers melting, so water that was safely locked away on land is draining into the see. An even bigger effect, AFAIK, is that warm water takes up more space than cold water, and the simple thermal expansion of the oceans themselves is causing most of the rise.

droid
17-05-2008, 02:50 PM
You're right Tea. They're about 3 years old. The per capita difference is still staggering though. I guess the major question for developing nations is 'why should we reduce emissions when developed nations refuse to'?

As you mentioned, 70% of the worlds fresh water is found in the glaciers. The melting of ice will also cause a decline in the amount of sunlight reflected, resulting in a disasterous rise in sea and land temperature, and more unpredicatble consequences such as hurricanes, flooding and the widespread destruction of crops and vegetation. According to Monbiot, we need a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions in the next 15 years or so to avoid reaching the tipping point where these changes become irreversible, as this period roughly correlates with peak oil, it seems eminently sensible to focus on a change to renewable energy while we still have the chance.

Mr. Tea
17-05-2008, 06:28 PM
You're right Tea. They're about 3 years old. The per capita difference is still staggering though. I guess the major question for developing nations is 'why should we reduce emissions when developed nations refuse to'?

Yeah, it does seem rather hypocritical, doesn't it? To be fair, developed countries (with one glaring exception) are reducing their emissions a bit, but whether it's enough to prevent disaster remains to be seen. I suppose morally there's no real reason why per-capita emissions from developing countries shouldn't be as high as ours; it's just the practical consideration that there's that many more of them. I mean, China and India make up well over a third of the world's population between them.



According to Monbiot, we need a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions in the next 15 years or so to avoid reaching the tipping point where these changes become irreversible, as this period roughly correlates with peak oil, it seems eminently sensible to focus on a change to renewable energy while we still have the chance.

Hmm, this is a tricky word - the world has gone through enormous climate changes in the past and will continue to do so in the future, so I doubt whether anything short of the extinction of all life would be truly 'irreversible'. But there could well be changes that can't be reversed over the course of one or several human lifetimes.

droid
17-05-2008, 07:32 PM
Hmm, this is a tricky word - the world has gone through enormous climate changes in the past and will continue to do so in the future, so I doubt whether anything short of the extinction of all life would be truly 'irreversible'. But there could well be changes that can't be reversed over the course of one or several human lifetimes.

I guess it depends on what kind of timescale youre looking at really. If you look at the worst mass extinction in history at the end of the Permian, it took 30 million years or so for full ecological recovery.

So yes, it wont be 'irreversible' on an evolutionary scale, but it seems pretty certain that human civilisation and natural life as we know it today would find it pretty difficult to survive for even a fraction of that time.