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« Happy (sic) New Year | Main | Could There Be Any Hope? »

March 20, 2019


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Basudeb  Das

Nice post author. Thank you.

Yuneng Khong

I still remain unconvinced nuclear can't solve our needs, at least for the next few hundreds of years. I'm also not sure why many studies have not given a favourable EROEI to nuclear given nuclear has orders of magnitude much higher energy density, with overall life-cycle environmental costs very debatable. It is counter-intuitive.

Simply imagine for instance, using nuclear energy to heat up the Canadian oil sands to speed up the oil hydrocarbon maturation (cooking) process, to power fracking etc. What a sight that would be.

Lots of avenues for capitalists to explore to push the energy cliff much much further beyond our lifetime if nuclear gives good EROEI.

Sujoy Chanda

Thank you for your post. Keep it up.

Paul Chefurka

You nailed it, George. It has been good to travel part of this path with you. Truth is a bitter wine, but it's the only one worth drinking.

I was drawn back here when a correspondent mentioned both you and Guy M, and asked if I had been drawn to your writing, given the similarities in our views. I responded thus:

I indeed threw in the towel in 2013 - I wrote a bit more on Facebook, but 2013 was the end of my short career as a public intellectual on the subject of collapse. I respect both George and Guy very much. My views are closer to George's overall, but I really resonate with Guy's uncompromising attitude. I don't agree with his vision of the near-term extinction of the entire human species, however. Instead I think a massive die-off and the complete loss of global civilization are in the cards. But humans are resourceful critters (second only to cockroaches?) and can survive in very improbable climatic niches, though of course in extremely small numbers. I estimate that when the dust settles there will be about 10 million humans left, living as hunter-gatherers. That's not much different from extinction, frankly.

I no longer think that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is the root cause of our failure as a civilized species. I now think the root is primarily cultural. Severe psycho-social changes were triggered in Europe in about 4000 BCE by a combination of climate change during the 5.9 kiloyear event in Saharasia (the Sahara and Western Asia) and the superior weapons of the early Bronze Age. These changes were just the sort that could be spread around the world by conquest, which followed according to the conflict dynamics laid out by Andrew Schmookler in his "Parable of the Tribes." The Second Law of Thermodynamics was merely the energy-releasing mechanism, as it is for all animals. The Lotka/Odum Maximum Power Principle explains why we gravitated toward fossil fuels in our quest for the domination of our neighbours, much to the detriment of all life on this planet. However, I believe that the effects of these cultural events are just as immutable as if they were caused directly by thermodynamics and genetics.

Having explained the course of historical world events to my own satisfaction, and being convinced that nothing can be done to head off or even noticeably ameliorate the looming catastrophe, I have withdrawn to private life. I am now determined to lead a small and happy life as best I can, and to encourage others to do the same.

I may not do any formal writing any more, but I still love talking about this stuff. It's the biggest topic in the world right now.

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