Re: On Listmail
- Doug Pensinger wrote:
> Ahem. Hello? Anyone hereJust got back from Penguicon. I had breakfast with Karl Schroeder, which
was fairly wide-ranging in looking at Canada and the US, among other
topics. And attended a great talk by Geoffrey Landis that discussed the
physics of time travel.
But your point about Facebook and Twitter may be correct, to some
degree. The unfortunate thing about that is neither medium is worth a
damn for any serious conversation. I am not in Dan Minette's league, as
3-4 paragraphs into an e-mail I start to run out of steam, but you
simply cannot talk intelligently at 140 characters per message.
Kevin B. O'Brien TANSTAAFL
zwilnik@... Linux User #333216
"The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy
way to factor large prime numbers" - Bill Gates, The Road Ahead
- -----Original Message-----
From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
Behalf Of Doug Pensinger
Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2010 11:22 PM
To: Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion
Subject: Re: On Listmail
Concerning oil spills, Doug wrote.
>Tax, conserveBoth are reasonable ideas. If you recall, JDG had, almost a decade ago,
suggested a gasoline tax to change buying habits. I had mentioned, around
the same time, a $1.00 federal tax added every year....with appropriate
rebates for low income folks, help with job training for truck drivers, etc.
Of course, the best conservation possible is a massive downturn. CO2 output
for 2009 was down to 1994 levels for the US. But, the latest data we have
from China is 2006 data. Since then, their combined oil and coal
consumption, and their cement production has indicated an increase in CO2
parallel to that of their economic growth. Thus, the true numbers of
production would indicate that China is now, roughly, producing 50% more CO2
than the US. Baring a collapse of the Chinese economy (which is possible),
in 3 years they will should double the CO2 output of the US.
>find alternatives and leave the oil in the ground.If only we'd listened to Jimmy Carter.
>Here and elsewhere.
In any case, thanks for the info in your earlier post about possible
causes; interesting stuff. One thing; you can speculate about this
being a black swan, but there's no real way to confirm that.
>Even if this kind of thing happens only a couple of times a century, that'sWhy is something acute and highly visible, such as an oil slick, much worse
>way too often.
than something chronic and invisible. For example, look at the biggest oil
The burn was massive, as the link said, soot was found in the Himalayas.
The spill was overwhelming: >8 million barrels are listed hear. However, a
New York Times article from a couple of years later indicated that the
damage was acute: not long lasting.
Contrast this, if you will, to the dead zone that has been in the Gulf for
the last 20 years. This is a massive, chronic problem, probably associated
at least somewhat with the fertilizer runoff from farms in the Mississippi
drainage area. When you are discussing ending oil production, you are
discussing a downturn in the world economy that would make the last two
years look like a blip.
I think where we mostly disagree is the concept that, with enough funding,
the Captain Piccard system for engineering works (just say "make it so" and
Geordi (sp) has it done by the end of the show). I'd argue, that Clay
Christensen is correct on how innovations work. A quick overview of this
idea is at
As is often true with Wikipedia, this isn't perfect, but I think that the
basic concept describes why alternative fuel sources have not penetrated the
market, and what would be needed for them to do so.
It's probable that the US and Europe will have lower fossil fuel use in a
decade than today. It's also probable, and it would take a 10 year lack of
growth for this to not happen, that countries such as China and India will
greatly increase their use of fossil fuels. Prices patterns indicate that
oil production will not expand greatly. Natural gas will, and should, in
the US, but most of the world will use a lot more coal...in plants with
minimal pollution control equipment.
The only way the US has to influence this is to come up with a disruptive
innovation in energy. Anything else is as real as the run up in housing
prices before the bubble burst.
BTW, Clay and Gautam are friends. They got to know each other when Gautam
used this concept to explain why the British didn't use an effective
countermeasure for submarine warfare on merchant ships in WWI that they had
already been using to protect battleships until the end of the war.