back to article It's non-stop fun in Zero Carbon Britain, 2030

A hundred years ago, the socialist utopians had a vision of what they called "a world without want". The Zero Carbon Trust published its vision of Britain in 2030 earlier this month, and it's one where people's "wants" will substantially increase. Particularly anyone wanting, say, a lamb chop with rosemary and garlic, or a …

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peak-oil coming with or without Orlowski

It's not because it's uncomfortable that we won't have to do it anyway. By the end of this century, we Humans will have to live without fossil energies, only using renewable ones. So it's better to get prepared, and true, iPhones don't help.

You're probably right that marketing managers, stress-advisers, credit-default-swap merchants, and other useless jobs will disappear. Will we be missing them ?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: peak-oil panic unnecessary

There's a error in your logic. Do you want to bet that we won't be able to synthesize hydrocarbons in a hundred years time? We can synthesize crude already.

http://www.ls9.com/

The Peak Panic Movement is an ascetic political program, largely comprised of the same Malthusians, bedwetters, DIY types etc that "need" irreversible climate change.

What they dread most is a seamless tradition to synthesized hydrocarbons - especially one so smooth nobody notices. Because after that, nobody will want to go whittling with them.

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WTF?

"We can synthesize crude already"...

... but what that site *doesn't* say is how much biomass or energy is used to create that synthetic crude. Will it be self-sustaining? Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?

Perhaps Andrew Orlowski could take time out from making ridiculous ad hominem attacks and address the errors in his logic?

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Well no...

If we can synthesise crude - and it's far from impossible that we will be able to in future - the important equation is the ratio of energy in to energy out. Crude oil pumped out of the ground has is about 1 barrel in to 7 out. Nothing else comes close to that and the simple economics mean that unless synthetic crude does it will be much more expensive. The Peak Oil claim is not that oil will run out, it is that supply cannot keep rising to match demand and consequently the price of oil will rise to the point that it is uneconomical.

I'm sure Tim Worstall could find a free market explanation for why supply and demand are outdated communist notions, but it seems coherent with my understanding of the world.

Biomass-derived crude, like the people grasping at abiotic oil generation or even biofuels to a significant extent, is a convenient blinker to save on having to worry about something that is out of our control. A lot of people seem happy with those.

Monbiot, cheerful fellow that he is, suggests that Peak Oil will simply result in people switching to much more harmful coal-derived fuels.

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Anonymous Coward

Fischer Tropsch

You can make hydrocarbon fuel from energy, water and a bit of carbon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process

The Krauts used it back when they were trying to kill everyone.

Who needs self sustaining? It only has to sustain itself until the next trick is discovered. Although it probably is depending on the price of the resulting fuel.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "We can synthesize crude already"...

" Will it be self-sustaining? Will it require turning more and more of the planet's ecosystem over to growing the biomass needed?"

You're still thinking like an uneducated medieval labourer - in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!) You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things.

Now we may or may not be doomed - but we're certainly doomed if we follow you. We wouldn't be here today if our ancestors had. Simple, really.

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Boffin

@The JonB

"You can make hydrocarbon fuel from energy, water and a bit of carbon."

The bit of carbon you refer to is commonly called a coal mine. That's also usually called a fossil fuel.

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Synthetic hydrocarbons

We have been able to syntheise hydrocarbons for 80+ years - look up the Fischer Tropsch process, but you need lots of energy to do it. So the question is where does the energy come from? It is all very well knocking climate change, greens etc, but unless we find a way to change the laws of thermodynamics (particularly the first!) then we either have to find new ways of converting energy into useful forms or reduce energy consumption.

IIRC you are a great critic of freetards - well in a sense what you are doing is promoting a freetard approach to the environment ie the idea that we can continue as things are with no cost to the environment.

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no

"1 barrel in 7 out" I bet if you look that ios tearms of kwh in and kwh out you get better with a nuclure plant and cedrtainley will with some of the future tech nucler.

I would be prepered to bet if we bit the bullet and went for a full on nucler stratergy we could easley out produce our current socirys energy needs but we would then have the problem of converting it inot the form we want

in short as peek oil aporces pepol will convert things to other forms of energy use (we are allready seeing that with the rise albit it slow of the electric car). or things like man made oil (using nucleur power as a feed) will become econopmicley viable the laws of supply and demand in operation

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Anonymous Coward

*sigh*

Coal is not the only carbon.

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Bronze badge

Where does the energy come from?

Very simple - the same nuclear reactors that should be supplying all of our carbon free electricity.

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FAIL

Medieval labourer and blinkers...

"You're still thinking like an uneducated medieval labourer - in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!) You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things."

Ironic that you insult others for being stuck in the past, yet you argue for the status quo and some as yet to be discovered silver bullet. Stick your head in the sand and hope everything will be OK! Don't worry technology will save us etc. It will but perhaps not in the way you mean...

Of course there are natural limits to resources and energy conversion - it is called the basic laws of physics.

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Stop

And where does the fuel come from...

Not so simple - if all the world switches to nuclear where does the uranium come from? Yes, we can switch to plutonium/thorium and fast breeder reactors, recycle more fuel, but then we have to sort out the technology, proliferation issues (for U and Pu), decommissioning, cost etc.

Don't get me wrong I am in favour of nuclear, but it is not the simple answer!

Like everything there is a "cost"...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Medieval superstitions

No, I merely argue for the continuation of scientific and technological development. The same stuff that got us here.

For some unnamed superstitious justification, you aren't able to see it.

"Of course there are natural limits to resources and energy conversion - it is called the basic laws of physics."

Um. Why do you think anyone would dispute that? The same basic laws of physics were used to oppose the introduction of all kinds of technology. Bedwetting is nothing new.

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Fischer Tropsch - the Gaia way

Gaia has the conditions to do Fisher Tropsch at pretty much no economic cost to us. As the oil just keeps on gushing and gushing and gushing out of Deepwater Horizon and spoiling the locals' mint julups (among a lot of other things), I am find it harder harder and harder to believe it all originally came from a few molluscs, crustaceans and assorted gymnopedies. If that is true, then praise be to God and pass the kool-aid. Otherwise we should be convinced of the abiotic origin of oil. (Hint: it's in the isotopes).

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Anonymous Coward

I fear that

We could all live much better if we could have more nukes, but we will be forced to live in missery because some people would rather live like that than have them. Or more likely they are the nimbys who have an OK life, and know they can keep it, and afford more expensive energy/food/water etc as they get old and die, and leave the rest of us to live in small cold boxes. The same people who opose every building project, be it houses, wind farms, nukes, roads etc.

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Make your mind up

So where has the current strand of R&D taken us? Mostly into energy efficiency measures to reduce consumption.

Why? Because there isn't a great amount more you can do to improve energy conversion efficiencies of our current power generation. You really are bashing at the limits imposed by thermodynamics - you can't really get more efficient than CCGT plants, well you can using CHP but that costs lots of money and needs a total re-think on housing and planning etc.

One post you say you don't dispute that there are natural limits, in another you ciriticise people for thinking "in terms of "natural" limits terms of "natural resources" (Praise Gaia!)" - perhaps you could make your mind up...

Nothing superstitious or bedwetting about any of that...

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Grenade

were you pissed when you typed this?

Or is it the first time you've used a keyboard?

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Anonymous Coward

Zealots

Your point seems to be that zealots are idiots. Thing is, you're a bit of a zealot yourself, Orlowski.

I notice you still haven't summoned up the courage to publicly dissect actual scientific papers, preferring bizarre conferences that deduce difficult decisions are best made by ... the uninformed masses? Are you fucking serious? Tell you what, let's put the masses in charge of your pension, your salary, your marriage, your anything. No?

Anyways, I'm off round yours with a knife. Don't worry, by the time I've arrived, I bet they'll have invented the knife-proof face. Hey they can do it in vests already(*).

(*) Nota Bene: a startup and a few bits of paper do not a product make. When that purported fuel goes into mass production, then and only then we can treat it is an economically viable synthesised hydrocarbon.

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Boffin

Re: "We can synthesize crude already"...

"You need to think in terms of available energy and how well we can harness it, and turn it into useful things."

Please, Andrew, tell us the difference between *available* energy and *usable* energy. (Hint: An atomic bomb produces LOTS of energy, but exactly how much of that is usable?)

It's all very well posting clever pictures of "this is how much energy we use and this is how much is available", but it doesn't say how much energy we will have to *expend* in order to get that, does it?

"Now we may or may not be doomed - but we're certainly doomed if we follow you. We wouldn't be here today if our ancestors had. Simple, really."

Oh dear, Andrew, another personal attack, one of many you use when you have no way of countering an argument that you don't like.

You keep making comments about "bedwetting" (do you really think they add anything to the validity of your points?) yet you keep reaching for your security blanket of "we'll be able to sort this all out eventually" and pulling it over your head in the hope that it will make the nasty bogeyman of increasing usage versus limited production go away and stop scaring you.

What my argument actually is (as opposed to your Straw Man caricature of it) is that we, as a species, are using more and more energy and at some point we *WILL* reach a point at which demand will exceed supply.

Now hopefully, yes, we will come up with a new technology that will solve the problem but until then, how about we just start acting a little more sensibly and try to use the energy that we produce in a more *efficient* manner to put off that crisis point a bit?

Is that too hard to accept as a reasonable argument without resorting to personal attacks?

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Boffin

*sigh*

Although I freely admit to having no idea what a "barrel" of oil is (it all smacks of "units" back in the days when the GPO ran the phones), I believe it is not an unreasonable assumption that it would represent a certain number of litres of oil; and therefore, since the enthalpy of oxidation of crude oil is close to a constant, a reasonably fixed amount of kWh.

Therefore, 1 barrel in : 7 barrels out would be 1 kWh in : 7 kWh out.

Of course if everybody just used SI units exclusively then this would not be a problem.

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re: Fischer Tropsch

Here is a link to rather interesting research on synthetic photosynthesis being conducted at the University of Cincinnati in the States, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl100550k?cookieSet=1&journalCode=nalefd

As to Utopian social issues, has anyone ever actually read Sir Thomas More's "Of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia"? This 16th century tripe that coined the term manages the "wonderful" society by dividing the people into two classes, those who enjoy the benefits of the wonderfulness, and those slaves who provide it for them. So, indeed we may be heading for Utopia if the Greens get their way. The author points out that if the livestock are cut to 20%, then one would have to be a wealthy Lord to afford meat. Well, that would indeed be a Utopian society. The Lords live luxuriously in an ideal World with no carbon-based problems, and that wonderful World is provided to them by the happily sacrificing slaves. Yes, a wonderful world it would be.......for the Lords.

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EROEI?

Might just get in the way of your grand energy plans.

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FAIL

@ "Bedwetting is nothing new."

Neither is ignorance!

"No, I merely argue for the continuation of scientific and technological development. The same stuff that got us here."

Whilst science and technology got us part of the way "here", I'd hazzard a guess that humanity stumbling upon 2 trillion barrels of a certain black gooey substance probably had more to do with it........

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FAIL

I don't see any mention of the ability to synthesize crude

Appears to be a fermentation process producing a hydrocarbon petrol substitute and not "crude" as such......

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: @ "Bedwetting is nothing new."

bennett_1357: "Whilst science and technology got us part of the way "here", I'd hazzard a guess that humanity stumbling upon 2 trillion barrels of a certain black gooey substance probably had more to do with it........"

See my other post.

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Thumb Up

How much of a grant can you get for a solar panel, then?

I might have to save up for one.

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Flame

What's the point?

I do my bit, my recycling, try to avoid the car for piddly little journeys, ride my push bike when I need to go a little further.

Let's face it Greenies, the world is fsck'd OK? We are a nasty, greedy, self-obsessed species with nothing but selfish needs and desires. Driven by 'Greed for the Green", we will never stop our lust for land and money, it's all that had driven us and it will continue to do so. One day, if we can get our heads out of our arses for 2 mins we might lift off this planet and head out into the wild black yonder, but give it 2 weeks on an alien world and it will be covered in litter and 48,000 Strabucks and Maccy Ds!

When people in my office can't even be arsed to turn off the screens and hibernate PCs at the end of day, what hope have we got?

I shall carry on trying to do my little bit for the environment, but somehow saving a few plastic bottle from being buried in a landfill will not save this doomed planet! Best thing to do? Get you cameras out and snap away, at least you might be able to show your grand kids what green grass and semi-clean seas and lakes used to look like!

I'm off down the pub before they insist on stopping beer production to save the sodding termites!

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: What's the point?

"Get you cameras out and snap away, at least you might be able to show your grand kids what green grass and semi-clean seas and lakes used to look like!"

Silly lad, you're wetting the cot again.

There's lots of green where there used to be deserts. As agricultural productivity goes up, there's more "green space" than ever.

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Re:

"There's lots of green where there used to be deserts. As agricultural productivity goes up, there's more "green space" than ever."

Whoa, whoa, whoa - what?! I generally agree with the vast majority of your IP stuff, but you don't appear to have as good a grasp when it comes to energy. That "green space" you're referring to comes at the expense of other types of land. Often forest (rain or otherwise). If you think they just turn desert into high production arable land by spilling seeds on it you need to think again. Such things require **** loads of water and nitrates, both of which require energy and lots of it.

It also has issues with variation. 5000 hectares of single crop doesn't actually count as green space you know?

Energy IS an issue. Carbon too (but not for the climate change reason - because we burnt all of the easy (i.e. cheap) to reach stuff). Prices will rise. A lot. Ppl will suddenly realise that 'leccy and gas on tap isn't a right, it's something the rich can afford to pay for.

Your argument that the Germans built 5 coal fired stations to support the wind farms is ridiculous. 5?! Really? Do you have any clue how many coal fired stations we have here in the UK, and how much bigger Germanys energy requirement is than ours? 5 stations are gonna generate 10,000MW tops. Now go Google Germanys peak energy usage.

If they can reduce the total number of carbon using stations to 5 max at any given point by using wind power then they've performed a miracle 'cause that's nowt.

I know bashing the climate change lot is funny (and easy to boot) but I would genuinely ask that you go speak with a variety of ppl about energy, land usage and economy before you write anything else on the subject. It's a ****ing HUUUUUUUUUGE area and putting your fingers in your ears and saying that we have enough oil to continue as we are for ever 'cause some idiot forged some temp data with tree rings ain't helping anyone.

There are plenty of things to write about, but this ain't one of 'em.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re:

The proposition is that "resources" are contingent on cheap abundant energy, and you seem to be in agreement.

This might help put things in perspective:

http://regmedia.co.uk/2009/10/29/global_energy.jpg

Now we'd better get busy tapping into that.

Most energy "experts" havea finger in the pie - you do realise that?

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Anonymous Coward

Sad picture, really

Too bad that everything *but* solar is of the use once, lose forever kind. That's totaling what, maybe fifty times the current world use? A hundred? Not counting future increases, and we already know they *must* go up or we suffer lack-of-growth and oh the pain. But apart from that I find it a bit of an affront to use up all those resources and hand our children a spoiled earth core to lovingly care for.

The only real solution, long term, is find some high-efficiency way (>>50%) of taking that solar energy and making it of use. And to my mind the most straight-forward way of doing that would be to find non-earth area to catch solar radiation on, meaning we go out to space. This because once you have the basic setup, there's quite a lot more space you can fill with solar panes or what-have-you than we have room on earth: ``It scales better.''

So, by that logic, the direct enabler is a way to go up the well on the cheap, the vaunted space elevator or something, and better direct solar converter tech (in space). But since it requires a concerted effort and brings rather high up-front cost (though it can perhaps be done in a way less wasteful of money than nasa and all its faults), it's never going to happen. There's always a short-term cheaper cop-out.

And that's the complaint, innit? We're all trying to push our own little agenda, whether we make sense or not. Quick quick, world peace!

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Megaphone

What they did not reveal

To generate the wealth needed to feed its progressive citizens, Britons would be paid carbon credits along with their wages with the credits being stored on an identity card which would double as a carbon rations card. Each citizen would be alloted a fixed number of carbon credits monthly which would be reduced every time a purchase is made (or any form of consumption occurs including travel, eating, etc). No form of consumption will be possible without using the ration card.

Once a person runs out of carbon credits they will be required to either work more to earn more or purchase them. To put it simply, the more productive you are and the more you share what little wealth you have with the rest of society, the more you will be punished and have to pay for it.

That's what the report didn't want to say. But there's more. Without much of an economy to pay its citizens wages in the first place, where will income come from? To this end, every nation will be required to take part in carbon trading. Nations which do not take part will have sanctions and penalties imposed on them.

As a result of carbon trading, Britain's low carbon and low production economy will be selling credits to the tune of billions of pounds worth to emerging economies who will need to purchase credits if they want their economies to grow. Britain and other powerful nations would thus be stealing from the poorer off who want a chance to grow, but can only do so with the use of cheap carbon intensive methods.

This revenue stream will effectively pay for a vast welfare system in Britain turning our once productive people into lay-abouts living on bare minimum incomes. To the Greens, Neo-Marxists and their new alliances with Islamist clerics and activists (see the Respect Part for more) this would mean shunning consumerism and returning to a simpler life involving local farming, cleaning streets, animal care, praying, and generally following a shariah-like religious system introduced slowly and subtly via the backdoor.

Once that happens, everything else falls into place quickly in just a couple of generations to turn a democracy into a theocracy.

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Anonymous Coward

you what ?

So you want to put the world on the carbon standard ????

There are so many things wrong with your idea that its impossible to list them all. All I can say is you are an idiot.

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Boffin

Yes, but

This will be a theocracy where no other God will be permitted. Greens are not very tolerant.

It's Earth-worship all the way, baby!

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Flame

Think of the children...

The public turned all green and organic (which is far from green) when times were good, as soon as they have to tighten their belts it's back to me, me, me.

Which is fine by me.

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Anonymous Coward

Organic

Can be green. It depends on how you do it, and depends on what you call green. If you just talk about water and energy, then no, it is not "more green" than anything else, but if you look at the whole cycle, then biodiversity, low fertaliser etc is a good thing.

As for going off organic now times are hard, not everyone has done that.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Organic

Only as a starvation diet.

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One Big Con

'nuff said.

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Black Helicopters

free money is a business unto itself

My biz partners and I decided last year that we were going to change our business model to take advantage of the green mania. We remade our marketing literature and began cynical grabbing for climate handout dollars. It's working well but we all feel very sheepish about it. We don't worry about the actual manufacturing of product anymore, we monitor the handouts and measure the impact.

We are the unmentioned third group. We're not free riders. We are specifically and exclusively making money off of federal regulatory flim flam and gov't handouts. No posing about it. Money is falling from the sky, don't be too proud to scoop it up. This is not fraud or larceny, it's free money.

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Hartwell Paper

This is basically what the Hartwell group decided aswell. Personally I'm for fixing the damage rather than preventing it from happening. Terraforming over regressing to some ultra primative hippy lifestyle.

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Maybe the Steampunks have the right idea?

Victorian levels of inventiveness, with a 21st century flavour.

This all reminds me of a BNFL (remember them?) video I showed to a Physics class once, in which the future was either bright and rosy (and nuclear powered), or populated by dirty-haired hippies living in teepees and playing recorders for fun.

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Anonymous Coward

Poor analogy

Steampunk isn't inventiveness, it's the opposite: retro nostalgia.

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Anonymous Coward

Human Nature

The problem with most idealists is that they don't believe in human nature. For example Marxism sounds like a great idea until you realise it's supposed to apply to human beings.

This lot clearly don't even begin to get the fact that a government that tried to impose such a regime would find itself out on it's ear in no time. Lets be fair, any cabinet trying to impose even part of this would be on the receiving end of a backbench revolt, it wouldn't even need to go to the electorate. But hey, that doesn't worry idealists. Idealists are always right behind the idea of a dictatorship. Not that they'd call it a dictatorship of course, but people just don't know what's good for them so the idealists want to impose it on them and as soon as you do that you have a dictatorship.

The socialist utopians did have some nice ideas, but they never realised then that the majority of people are quite happy with their narrow minds and treading the same groove every week. Whether it's work, pub, sleep, etc. occasionally footy and once a year a holiday in the sun or something a little more inspiring the majority of people have few aspirations and don't want to broaden their minds. In that the socialist utopians also failled to understand human nature. There are still plenty of people around who believe that the proletariat would love to be force fed a cultural diet, but most of them don't want that, what they really want is to be paid more and work shorter hours so that they can enjoy the life which the idealists don't want them to lead.

I always thought Blair was something of an idealist, although his ideals may have been a little strange. At times it appeared that he was genuinely distressed that people didn't want what he was pushing and it was clear at times that he thought he should be allowed to impose his rules on the rest of us. I honestly don't believe he wanted to be a dictator, or saw himself in that role, but that he really thought he knew what was best for us and wanted to save us from ourselves. OK so he wasn't a socialist utopian by any means, but he had some characteristics in common with them.

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Hooray!!!!

For green facism, right im off to punch a badger in the face and burn a tree, take that hippies!

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WTF?

"Hitch a lift from a passing horse"

Except, of course, there won't be any horses. Since they're livestock.

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Silver badge
FAIL

One measurement for everything?

The Environmentalist- you can use them as fuel, or eat them or knock them about with sticks for entertainment, and when it gets dark, light them up in a big wicker man.

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