Reality Blind - Vol. 1

hydrocarbons, and (b) with a relatively smooth societal transition.

These technologies include solar power, wind power, wave power, geothermal power, fission power, fusion power (not yet workable), and hydroelectric power. Except for some ancient water- and wind-powered grain mills and small dams, none of these have ever been built in any other way than by burning coal, oil, and gas. They require finite materials that are irretrievably lost each time they are built. They currently depend entirely on the existing fossil-fueled global extractive, shipping, processing, and manufacturing system to be constructed. The process of building “renewable” technology generates environmental pollutants that are harmful. They are built of materials that in some cases will be exhausted in a fairly short time. Many of them provide only intermittent power, and they all eventually break down and need to be built again from scratch. “Renewable” energ y technology is (at this point) just one more thing we do with fossil energy, along with racetracks, Disneyland, projection TV’s, disposable forks, etc. The mechanisms – such as solar panels - do not stand apart as something that will exist forever. Current solar panels are built to last 20-25 years, and their supporting electronics fewer. 179 When they are replaced, the world will have less oil, lower quality ore grades, and other hurdles deriving from the limits to growth. Yet renewable tech will need to be entirely replaced, along with its associated devices and the infrastructure that makes them, at least five times every century. Mechanisms to tap direct and indirect solar flows are not renewable. They are rebuildable to the extent the energy, resources, time, and human prioritization can rebuild them. This doesn’t seem to be much of a problem now, because our societies are coasting on infrastructure built in the past and are still near the all-time peak of human net energy availability. For our purposes, the sun is forever, but mechanisms to tap it surely are not. If we are to still be erecting giant wind turbines in 100 years, or 500, how exactly will that happen, and what will they connect to?

Examining energy, its properties and the many ways that we use it, is therefore important to understanding our future.

TaaL: Renewable Energy isn’t a thing. It’s a slogan, like “clean coal” or “safe nuclear” which works as a “meme - plex” in your human story -based associative thinking, which is greatly simplified when you get in groups. Low-carbon energy, in contrast, IS a thing, and a thing worth pursuing. To do so effectively, you need to understand how energy works and what you


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