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Going cold turkey might just be the way to eradicate that addiction. No half measures. And Trump or Clinton… what does it matter? Like choosing the firing squad or the guillotine. With the latter you know you face imminent death. With the first you can hope the aim is off, but that might inflict other, more painful wounds with the same end result. At the moment, the question I want to ask is whether PlankTOM10 considers a sufficient number of plankton functional types.

And what about baleen whale consumption of krill in the Southern Ocean? Maybe we could domesticate some whales and through iron fertilization of the Southern Ocean to bump primary productivity we could ranch the whales with a possible side benefit of whale feces removing some carbon from the upper layers of the sea. No fish?


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That sounds fishy. Whales and dolphins, penguins, sea birds, and the occasional Homo sapiens fisherperson… they must all have too much imagination then. Does the incremental increase in the number of species considered add complexity to the model in a non-linear way?? As for my being an ecomodernist — some labels may be accurate in one context, yet seem silly in another.

Contrary to your claim, his work is full of details of the human mechanisms, politics and history that have shaped and are shaping our future, and leading us to the climacteric. Shaun, what percentage of the people you meet at conferences, in discussions etc. A sense that we have gone wrong and lost so much of what actually makes life convivial and enjoyable. Not many blank stares in that regard.

I do agree that many myself undoubtedly included struggle to appreciate just how different the coming half century could be from the last. She sees Lean Logic as a tool to help them to see what is good in their traditions. All power to her. I think I may be in the wrong geographical place here to expect something as profound as a sense of loss; neither the gooey sentimentality nor the equally pervasive cynical doomerism will contain any of it.

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Books by Margaret Murray Robertson (Author of The Orphans of Glen Elder)

First, here in the U. Survivors of the depression may have been somewhat hardened for the experiences of WWII. Secondly — and perhaps more significant — both the depression and the war occurred within a single generation. My point then goes to the resilience of the human spirit. To your point that very few of us living today have any memory of that period… so true. But then that reboot can always be deferred as long as possible by working that wealth pump as hard as it will go.

Nothing, nothing but ever more regulations and consumption forecasts. Nothing lost, nothing to be changed, ever. This fact gives nod to human creativity on the one hand, but overlooks a salient feature of photosynthesis on the other. Photosynthesis is linked to incredibly diverse storage systems.

Photosynthesis occurs across oceans, from sea level to the tree line on the highest mountains. At the risk of wearing out my welcome over repeated indications that plant breeding is a human endeavor to the rescue I will offer that we can and have made small increases in photosynthetic rates per unit incident radiation.

Oil seed rape is ok I suppose. But there are much better alternatives for broad acre production. And of course small farm production of veges and more human diet friendly plant materials is clearly one way forward. I for one think we might even be getting good at it. Wood is great, but the problem with it is the rather low grade energy it provides. The modularity and grid-independence of PV is such that it would be an attractive option for the neo-peasant to spend their few miserable pennies of surplus money on.

On PV, there are various EROEI figures available, almost all of them positive; I guess we have to interpret them as best we can, but to me it looks like PV shapes up better than most other options. Longer-term — well, maybe PV could be a useful bridging technology. Storage indeed is a problem for electricity, though there are developments in that field. Then again, turning stored plant energy other than of the fossilised sort into high grade energy-in-use is also a problem. I like the idea of our better angles BTW — mine are a touch flabby and obtuse these days.

Not sure why you think wood is only capable of making low-grade heat, Chris.

"Forgiving What You'll Never Forget" by Dr. David Stoop- Ch. 1

You can make steam at very high temperatures and pressures using wood as the fuel. Some of the woody biomass power stations in Europe do this already. Some woody biomass thermal systems are used in industrial thermal applications although for a number of reasons this is uncommon at present. By using the flue gases directly in a woody biomass system very high grade heat can be utilised.

Blacksmiths use charcoal with a forced air supply to get metal hot enough to work. Most residential scale woody biomass systems deliver heat for uses such as hot water and heating. These are very useful applications for wood energy but by no means the only ones.

On a related topic, anyone that thinks the Olduvai Gorge scenario is way too optimistic might benefit from perusing the wealth of information available on pre-industrial revolution energy systems. Wood was an important contributor but so were humans, animal traction, wind and hydro driving mechanical systems and even fossil fuels in the form of sea coal, for example. There are existence proofs already of grids with high renewable energy penetration. More broadly deployed grids with high penetration of intermittent renewables will have different characteristics but electricity will still be available.

David Fleming's Forgiveness by Margaret M. Roberts

The only reservation I have about grid availability is concerted cyber infrastructure attacks through state-sponsored or other entities. This can be prevented IMO but it takes effort and cost. The wiring of an electric grid is very durable, from the high voltage transmission lines to the local medium voltage distribution system to the wires in a home. But everything connected to the grid, especially on the supply side, needs not only a fully functioning industrial economy, but the financial system that mediates the transactions that make the economy work.

The history of any major grid involves more and more efficiency as a result of more and more technical sophistication of generating units and user equipment combined.

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The only downside to that history is more and more fragility and complexity. It will be very difficult to keep a modern grid operating if our world-wide industrial economy simplifies even a little. As an example, even the biggest power plant in the world has relatively few people operating it. All are computer controlled, with all of the monitoring instrumentation and control equipment requiring very advanced manufacturing techniques from all over the world.

The days of fly-ball governors and bare-backed men shoveling coal into the boiler furnace are long gone. The grid and modern semi-conductor manufacturing operate together. When they go down, so does the grid. Demand for the technology would be high, so bankruptcies would prompt other market entrants. It is difficult to know exactly how much a forced reduction in complexity would cause a very complex system to fail utterly.

I do know that the technologies that underpin the electric grid and the internet are among the most complex we have created. There are certainly redundancies in the suppliers of those technologies, but there are also single points of failure. I worked in a combined cycle power plant for about eight years. It had a custom distributed control system DCS , with lots of built-in on-site redundancy, but by the time I left that facility, we had to check with aftermarket control card re-manufacturers for parts.

OEM parts were no longer available. In addition, the software that ran the system was obsolete.

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We had to fly an expert in from thousands of miles away if we wanted to make a programming change. The software was so complicated that no one on site knew how to modify it. All this means is that to keep these complex systems going requires a great deal of specialized support. Given enough time and effort, any particular system can be made simpler and require fewer specialists and computerized equipment, but to do such a thing in advance would be very noncompetitive, so no one does it.

Industry is trying to reduce human labor inputs, not increase them. We do disagree though if you believe that Fleming saw an impending climacteric as somehow desirable or positive. I feel quite sure having had the pleasurable advantage of many a drink with him that he saw it as a most regrettable circumstance which he had indeed spent decades working to address — as Green Party economics spokesman and press secretary in the 70s, setting up The Other Economic Summit to counter the G7 in the 80s, etc.