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Power and civilization

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  • Jon Louis Mann
    ... I never could get through Stapleton. What was destroyed; all other sources of power? How could that be? ... Years ago George R.R. Martin wrote a pilot
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 29, 2012
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      > The measure of a civilization could be said to be
      > its consumption of energy and how it uses resources. 
      > Conspicuous v. sustainable... 
      > Jon

      > > From: Medievalbk@...
      > Twas in Last And First Men, by Olaf Stapledon,
      > I think, where all future 
      > civilizations had their power based upon alcohol.
      > Nothing stored from the past was left.

      I never could get through Stapleton.
      What was destroyed; all other sources of power?
      How could that be?


      > > From: John Garcia <johngar@...>
      > I'm reading John Varley's Slow Apocalypse. The
      > premise is that all
      > un-processed petroleum is destroyed by an act of
      > bio-terrorism. In the
      > middle of it right now, but so far it's scaring the
      > spit out of me.
      > john

      Years ago George R.R. Martin wrote a pilot called "Doors". If I remember correctly it was about an alternative Earth where a virus was created to absorb oil spills and it ended up eating up all traces of petrochemicals everywhere on Earth and civilization went back to the horse and buggy days. (not necessarily a bad thing!~)
      Jon Mann

      > >The measure of a civilization could be said to be
      > Its consumption of energy and how it uses resources. 
      > Conspicuous v. sustainable... 
      > Jon Mann

      > At what point was civilization sustainable without depending
      > on unknowable
      > innovations in the future?  It would have to be before
      > steel, because
      > blacksmithing almost deforested England before coal was
      > found and used (back
      > around 1000 I think).  Going to Africa, and seeing the
      > sustainable organic
      > farming they used to get 5 bushels/acre out of depleted soil
      > reminded me of
      > what my Zambian daughter Neli argued, to no avail, to the
      > government of
      > Uganda.  That using natural methods would just have
      > it's people starve, like
      > they have for centuries.  Unfortunately, the European
      > Greens were more
      > powerful in their persuasion....and Uganda will remain poor
      > until they stop
      > listening to them.  It's hard because the EU policy is
      > dedicated to
      > protecting inefficient EU (mostly French) farmers.
      > Dan M.

      You have a Zambian daughter, Dan?

      I have no clue at what point civilization was sustainable after the leap from hunter gatherer to agriculture to industrial society. I suppose it won't happen unless humanity matures beyond greedy, pleasure seeking immediate gratification, self centered behavior, and that probably won't happen unless there is a singularity event.

      How were the European Greens responsible for keeping Uganda poor, by turning them away from nuclear? I was following the conversation but I still think there are problems, especially with some of the older nuclear plants. I recall reading about unethical cost cutting shortcuts and Japanese government coverups, etc. Is it true that only one person died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami off Sendai, or is that just so far? What about long term effects of the meltdown? I had a friend who survived Hiroshima only to die many years later.
      Jon

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    • Dan Minette
      ... From: brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com [mailto:brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com] On Behalf Of Jon Louis Mann Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:47 PM To:
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 29, 2012
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
        Behalf Of Jon Louis Mann
        Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:47 PM
        To: brin-l@...
        Subject: Power and civilization

        > The measure of a civilization could be said to be its consumption of
        > energy and how it uses resources.
        > Conspicuous v. sustainable...
        > Jon

        > > From: Medievalbk@...
        > Twas in Last And First Men, by Olaf Stapledon, I think, where all
        > future civilizations had their power based upon alcohol.
        > Nothing stored from the past was left.

        I never could get through Stapleton.
        What was destroyed; all other sources of power?
        How could that be?


        > > From: John Garcia <johngar@...>
        > I'm reading John Varley's Slow Apocalypse. The premise is that all
        > un-processed petroleum is destroyed by an act of bio-terrorism. In the
        > middle of it right now, but so far it's scaring the spit out of me.
        > john

        Years ago George R.R. Martin wrote a pilot called "Doors". If I remember
        correctly it was about an alternative Earth where a virus was created to
        absorb oil spills and it ended up eating up all traces of petrochemicals
        everywhere on Earth and civilization went back to the horse and buggy days.
        (not necessarily a bad thing!~) Jon Mann

        > >The measure of a civilization could be said to be
        > Its consumption of energy and how it uses resources. Conspicuous v.
        > sustainable...
        > Jon Mann

        > At what point was civilization sustainable without depending on
        > unknowable innovations in the future?  It would have to be before
        > steel, because blacksmithing almost deforested England before coal was
        > found and used (back around 1000 I think).  Going to Africa, and
        > seeing the sustainable organic farming they used to get 5 bushels/acre
        > out of depleted soil reminded me of what my Zambian daughter Neli
        > argued, to no avail, to the government of Uganda.  That using natural
        > methods would just have it's people starve, like they have for
        > centuries.  Unfortunately, the European Greens were more powerful in
        > their persuasion....and Uganda will remain poor until they stop
        > listening to them.  It's hard because the EU policy is dedicated to
        > protecting inefficient EU (mostly French) farmers.
        > Dan M.

        >You have a Zambian daughter, Dan?

        Two. The eldest, Neli, came to the US about 10 years ago. She is an
        ecconomist who was a Brookings Institute fellow for a couple of years,
        concentrating on African development. She was always second author on the
        papers she wrote, with a big name as first author. She was quietly upset
        until she found out high government officials called Brookings to complain
        about the papers and talked with the big wig instead of yelling at her. We
        were in Zambia for two weeks in August, with 10 from the US (including Neli
        and her American husband) and 5 from Zambia and went all over Zambia as one
        big happy American-African family. We went to the home villages of both of
        Neli's parents. I got to dance in lion skins with the village wariors at
        her mom's village.


        >I have no clue at what point civilization was sustainable after the leap
        from hunter gatherer to
        >agriculture to industrial society. I suppose it won't happen unless
        humanity matures beyond greedy,
        >pleasure seeking immediate gratification, self centered behavior, and that
        probably won't happen
        >unless there is a singularity event.

        Actually, most commodities (e.g. iron and copper) are used less now. If we
        can solve one of many problems (e.g. find a cheap way of storing energy,
        have a venture like Joule Technology work in synthetic biofuels, have a way
        to "poison" breeder reactor fuel output so it can't be used for bombs,
        develop mesoscopic physics to the point where solar cells are practical) in
        the next 250 years, we won't need to worry.


        >How were the European Greens responsible for keeping Uganda poor, by
        turning them away from nuclear?

        Two ways:

        1) They have extremely strict and unreasonable standards for imported food.
        For example, its virtually impossible for US food products to be sold there.


        2) They convinced Uganda that using fertilizer and insecticides was bad.
        That's why the crop yield is so low. Little grows and the insects get most
        of it. The US, on the other hand, uses insecticides in cycles so it's hard
        for the insects to develop immunity to several insecticides...what is
        superior for one is inferior for the other. And, farmland is now adding
        topsoil with fertilizer and advanced techniques, and genetically modified
        crops. If we could get corn to fix nitrogen better, we'd be home free.

        Dan M.


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      • Kevin O'Brien
        ... In fact, the other major sin of the Greens (in addition to being against nuclear power) is the opposition to genetically modified crops. I get the fact
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 30, 2012
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          On 11/29/2012 9:16 PM, Dan Minette wrote:
          > They convinced Uganda that using fertilizer and insecticides was bad.
          > That's why the crop yield is so low. Little grows and the insects get most
          > of it. The US, on the other hand, uses insecticides in cycles so it's hard
          > for the insects to develop immunity to several insecticides...what is
          > superior for one is inferior for the other. And, farmland is now adding
          > topsoil with fertilizer and advanced techniques, and genetically modified
          > crops. If we could get corn to fix nitrogen better, we'd be home free.
          In fact, the other major sin of the Greens (in addition to being against
          nuclear power) is the opposition to genetically modified crops. I get
          the fact that Monsanto is the poster child for evil greed, but there
          really isn't any other way to feed the number of people we now have, let
          alone will soon have, without those high-yield crops.

          Regards,

          --
          Kevin B. O'Brien
          zwilnik@...
          A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.


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        • Klaus Stock
          ... That s their political agenda. When the CDU announced that the nuclear power plants in Germany will be shut down, the greens were not alltogether sure if
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 30, 2012
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            > In fact, the other major sin of the Greens (in addition to being against
            > nuclear power) <snip>

            That's their political agenda. When the CDU announced that the nuclear
            power plants in Germany will be shut down, the greens were not
            alltogether sure if they really wanted that... ;-)

            > is the opposition to genetically modified crops. I get
            > the fact that Monsanto is the poster child for evil greed, but there
            > really isn't any other way to feed the number of people we now have, let
            > alone will soon have, without those high-yield crops.

            Unfortunately, we already have surplus crop and other produce. In order
            to keep the price up, surplus is destroyed.

            Monsanto has proven that genetically modified crop is dangerous. Yes,
            genetic modifications have a long history. Yup, "trial & error
            breeding". My problem with Monsanto is that they not only sell the
            crop, but also poison which kills every living thing (except their
            genetically modified crop).

            - Klaus


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          • Medievalbk@aol.com
            In a message dated 11/29/2012 6:47:33 P.M. US Mountain Standard Time, ... I never could get through Stapleton. What was destroyed; all other sources of power?
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 30, 2012
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              In a message dated 11/29/2012 6:47:33 P.M. US Mountain Standard Time, net_democracy@... writes:
              > The measure of a civilization could be said to be
              > its consumption of energy and how it uses resources. 
              > Conspicuous v. sustainable... 
              > Jon

              > > From: Medievalbk@...
              > Twas in Last And First Men, by Olaf Stapledon,
              > I think, where all future 
              > civilizations had their power based upon alcohol.
              > Nothing stored from the past was left.

              I never could get through Stapleton. 
              What was destroyed; all other sources of power? 
              How could that be?
              Atomic power (though not named exactly as such) burned of most of the crust. Mankind restarted from one Arctic scientific research boat.

               
            • Dan Minette
              ... keep the price up, ... I goggled for that in the US, and it referred to this happening during the Great Depression, when prices were so low during the
              Message 6 of 15 , Dec 1, 2012
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                >Unfortunately, we already have surplus crop and other produce. In order to
                keep the price up,
                >surplus is destroyed.

                I goggled for that in the US, and it referred to this happening during the
                Great Depression, when prices were so low during the deflationary era that
                it wasn't worth the cost of bringing them to market. Since then, farmers
                have been paid to leave land fallow. Lately, it's been much better.
                Farmers are paid to plant land with the greatest risk for erosion with
                grasses that are superior for soil retention. That's one reason why, on US
                farms, topsoil is increasing. My stepfather in law grew up on his family
                farm and farmed until he retired....and he's very familiar with how grains
                are grown.


                >Monsanto has proven that genetically modified crop is dangerous.

                I've seen some extraordinary sketchy studies on this, but nothing
                substantial. With 95% or so of the US eating food that has been genetically
                modified, then we should see the effects with real science. I've checked the
                latest study of organic food vs. non-organic, and absolutely no health
                benefits were found with organic foods. Yes, residue pesticides exist on
                non-organic food, but the linear hypothesis is required to assume danger.
                And, I drink to the great fellow who gave a beautiful illustration of the
                problems with the linear hypothesis.

                And, a friend of mine points out, India is self sufficient in food with > 2x
                the population it had when starvation was epidemic. He said that the person
                who created a the short stalk grain hybrid saved the lives of many of his
                friends.

                >Yes, genetic modifications have a long history. Yup, "trial & error
                breeding".

                Genes don't care how they are modified.

                >My problem with Monsanto is that they not only sell the crop, but also
                poison which kills every living >thing (except their genetically modified
                crop).

                The poison you talk about is roundup. And, yes, if I drank a bottle of it,
                I'd probably be sick. But, I've used it on weeds. Spray it on grass, and
                the grass dies, but spray it on weeds 3 inches from grass, and the small
                amount that gets on the grass doesn't hurt it. If Roundup were that bad,
                wouldn't we see the effects on the laws of folks who use it, on the animal
                life in the area, etc?

                Dan M.


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              • Klaus Stock
                ... Yup, I checked, right. In the EU the overproduction problem had been solved by 2007. However: regardless if we destroy surplus or get paid not to produce
                Message 7 of 15 , Dec 2, 2012
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                  >>Unfortunately, we already have surplus crop and other produce. In order to
                  > keep the price up,
                  >>surplus is destroyed.

                  > I goggled for that in the US, and it referred to this happening during the
                  > Great Depression, when prices were so low during the deflationary era that
                  > it wasn't worth the cost of bringing them to market. Since then, farmers
                  > have been paid to leave land fallow. Lately, it's been much better.
                  > Farmers are paid to plant land with the greatest risk for erosion with
                  > grasses that are superior for soil retention. That's one reason why, on US
                  > farms, topsoil is increasing.

                  Yup, I checked, right. In the EU the overproduction problem had been
                  solved by 2007. However: regardless if we destroy surplus or get paid
                  not to produce it, it won't help feed more people.

                  >>Monsanto has proven that genetically modified crop is dangerous.

                  > I've seen some extraordinary sketchy studies on this, but nothing
                  > substantial. With 95% or so of the US eating food that has been genetically
                  > modified, then we should see the effects with real science. I've checked the
                  > latest study of organic food vs. non-organic, and absolutely no health
                  > benefits were found with organic foods. Yes, residue pesticides exist on
                  <snip>

                  That wasn't the danger I meant.

                  >>Yes, genetic modifications have a long history. Yup, "trial & error
                  > breeding".

                  > Genes don't care how they are modified.

                  Dan, you still think like a scientist. You need to think like a greedy
                  idiot to understand what I mean. :-)

                  In historic times, 232 different races of domestic pigs could be found
                  in Germany. In more modern times, this was reduced to one single race (the
                  most efficient, short-term money-wise). Nowadays, a few "old races"
                  seem to have re-appeared.

                  The real problem is that if you base you base your country-wide
                  farming on a single race of crop, diseases can lead to crop failure or
                  mass mortality. Country-wide. Diverse redundancy would have helped.

                  The problem are not genetic modifications by themselves, but the
                  reasons *why* and *how* it is employed.

                  It's used to maximize short-term profits. There's a risk to it, as
                  mentioned above. But, what the heck, if anything fucks up, the state
                  will bails us out again. Yup, not only bankers think that way, farmers
                  as well.

                  > The poison you talk about is roundup. And, yes, if I drank a bottle of it,
                  > I'd probably be sick. But, I've used it on weeds. Spray it on grass, and
                  > the grass dies, but spray it on weeds 3 inches from grass, and the small
                  > amount that gets on the grass doesn't hurt it. If Roundup were that bad,
                  > wouldn't we see the effects on the laws of folks who use it, on the animal
                  > life in the area, etc?

                  That's what they said about DDT, too.

                  However, I'm still suspicious. Monsanto apparently prefers buying
                  politicians over addressing my doubts and concerns. While their
                  product safety tests have their merits, I find them a bit...simplistic
                  for a technology on which a complete country relies on for feeding
                  its population.

                  - Klaus


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                • ALBERTO VIEIRA FERREIRA MONTEIRO
                  ... That s not how slow poison works. People don t die for smoking a cigarette, or for smoking 100 cigarettes a day for 30 years. But then they die in the 31st
                  Message 8 of 15 , Dec 3, 2012
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                    Dan Minette wrote:
                    >
                    > The poison you talk about is roundup. And, yes, if I drank a bottle of it,
                    > I'd probably be sick. But, I've used it on weeds. Spray it on grass, and
                    > the grass dies, but spray it on weeds 3 inches from grass, and the small
                    > amount that gets on the grass doesn't hurt it. If Roundup were that bad,
                    > wouldn't we see the effects on the laws of folks who use it, on the animal
                    > life in the area, etc?
                    >
                    That's not how slow poison works. People don't die for smoking a
                    cigarette, or for smoking 100 cigarettes a day for 30 years. But then
                    they die in the 31st year.

                    Alberto Monteiro

                    PS: is bringing "cigarettes" to the discussion like bringing Hitler?

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                  • Dan Minette
                    ... or for smoking 100 ... The difference, of course, is that there were a large number of symtoms, very statistically significant differences in longevity,
                    Message 9 of 15 , Dec 3, 2012
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                      >That's not how slow poison works. People don't die for smoking a cigarette,
                      or for smoking 100
                      >cigarettes a day for 30 years. But then they die in the 31st year.

                      The difference, of course, is that there were a large number of symtoms,
                      very statistically significant differences in longevity, etc. with cigarette
                      smoking. Even with simple studies, it was easy to see.

                      With DDT, much more sophisticated studies were done. It's impossible to
                      prove that no-one is hurt by exposore to DDT, Roundup, etc. But, Roundup
                      has been subjected to the tumor prone mice study. What hasn't, is natural
                      supplements. It is likely that there are dangerous things sold in health
                      food stores that we could check for, but by law they are not checked because
                      they are natural.

                      Dan M.


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