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back to article You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Among the more surprising things that the BBC revealed to us last week was that the UK was going to run out of coal within the next five years. Given that the island is pretty much built on a bed of coal, this is something of a puzzler. The northern end of the huge water-filled pit, showing the coal seams in the rock at Broken …

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Great Article.

As soon as I saw the Headlines in the press, I knew they were crap- now I know exactly why, and have had confirmed for once and for all, that we as a planet, are being run by a pack of idiots.

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Re: Great Article.

I agree it is a great article -- very persuasive. However, I know nothing about the subject matter and can't judge whether the assertions are correct, or whether there are any counter-arguments. What I am even more worried about, than the fact that some incorrect analysis is going around, is that we don't seem to have a good way for claims like these to be tested and debated and trustworthy conclusions to be drawn.

What has happened to the good science journalists? Presumably this is an effect of our unwillingness to pay for journalism any more. How do we get the BBC to rescue Horizon from the pit it has fallen into and start using it for serious science journalism like this?

Some topics, like climate change or string theory, are extremely hard to analyse and there can be genuine expert disagreement (although vested interests don't help!). But I would have thought that this topic was something which some genuine experts could all agree on in their lunch break.

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Ahem.

"What has happened to the good science journalists?"

I can give you a clue.

"I agree it is a great article"

*smug smile*

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Re: Ahem.

Tim, It is a good, informative and interesting article. Definitely good science journalism. Thank you.

But that is only half of the picture. It isn't an investigative or independent review article. And I wouldn't ask you to write one precisely because you are a subject matter expert, with your own opinion. Where are the other good science journalists, who can investigate the (possibly divergent) views of experts, present the arguments for and against, and help us come to a conclusion?

Both aspects are needed: informative, educational articles about a subject area, and investigative, analytic articles to help us draw conclusions. I am not sure El Reg is the right forum for that, but I don't know where is nowadays.

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Re: Great Article.

It's not always about science but I find "More or Less" on BBC Radio 4/World Service (and podcasts) is still happy to have a go at debunking dodgy statistics on almost any subject from any source. I thought they had done one on "peak oil", "reserves vs. resources", etc. - although I can't find it - but, for example, they did cover "peak population" and they don't mind quizzing politicians or charities about claims that are arguably or provably false. i.e. they are all about the facts and the reasoning rather than worrying about whether the claims are being made to support something that is considered "broadly good" or not.

I suspect their audience isn't really big enough to be making a difference though.

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Re: Ahem.

I'm sorry, but your "discuss the controversy" sounds just like the creationists. they have no argument; they have no knowledge; they have no fact. The "lack" of scarcity is not a question of divergent opinions among the "experts"; the knowledgeable sources were never sourced for the original article.

The only thing i've run out of is gold-pressed latinum; everything else we're good on for a long, long time. good article.

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Re: Ahem.

Sorry, Earl, I didn't make myself clear. I am not interested in "discussing the controversy" -- as you say, that is the opposite of science, used only by the most disreputable.

I am, however, interested in articles which are not just polemic (interesting, informative but polemic), but ones where I can have some way to make a judgement on the validity of the claims: the BBC certainly do make mistakes in science journalism but you have to have your supporting evidence clear if you are going to make that claim. In the academic world this is usually by citing references, pointing to supporting material. However, in the popular world it is normally by a trusted, independent journalist explaining whether there is any serious disagreement, if so by whom, what credentials and evidence the disagreeing parties have, etc.

Tim's article was educational and interesting. However, for a reader with no experience in this area, it gave no information as to where his claims lie on the continuum between "bleeding obvious to everyone" to "credited only by the tinfoil hat brigade". It was an opinion piece. I would like an analysis piece as well.

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Re: Great Article.

"What has happened to the good science journalists?"

Take a look at this:

http://eatingacademy.com/personal/wired-think-scientifically-can-done?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wired-think-scientifically-can-done

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Re: Great Article.

The reserves one is I think very recent indeed. Might not be available yet even.

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Re: Ahem. @Graham Cobb

> but ones where I can have some way to make a judgement on the validity of the claims

Well, there's some validity to this article, but as usual, Mr. Worstall seems to make convenient assumptions.

Available resources = the resource + availability (duuuh). Obviously we can't destory the actual atoms of %element% so let's look at availability. What makes %element% available? In large part, refinement [*]. What does refinement take? Lorra, lorra energy. Where does that come from? Mainly fossil fuels, currently. Do we have several 1000 years' of fossil fuels, and and adequate place to dump FF waste without bad things happening? You tell me.

All things become possible under the idiotic assumption of unlimited energy.

Mr. Worstall blatantly does not work in the fossil fuel industry. I worked in a related area and what I saw about the production of FFs literally scared me, and still does.

Other points on the article...

> Thus we get told we must recycle more

So, Tim, you're suggesting we shouldn't bother?

> the poor cannot be allowed to become rich

I'd appreciate a reference, as I've never heard of or read this nasty proposition.

> [Thus we get told we must ] limit human civilisation

Almost meaningless without saying what 'human civilisation' actually means. Could you clarify?

[*] leaving out refineries etc.

(and @everyone else, per a separate thread - please get out and vote!)

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Re: Great Article.

I love this stuff, long been interested in the weirdo elements, Europium, the Erbium family, working out what these powdery grey metals are actually "for" .

Where else would you read that Hafnium is a by-product of Zirconium production?

Question though - what' s the Lithium situation really? Here seems to be one we might run short of. Can we have an numerate update Tim?

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Re: Ahem. @Graham Cobb

>> Thus we get told we must recycle more

AFAIK the reasons for so doing are to do with energy use (=> climate change), not material scarcity. There's also the fact that not everyone want to live next to an open-cast mine or have their mountain tops sliced off.

-A.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

> All things become possible under the idiotic assumption of unlimited energy.

What's idiotic about that? Energy is near-as-dammit unlimited. What's limited is our ability to harness it, convert it, move it around, etc. But that's just a technological problem, so the situation keeps improving.

> Mainly fossil fuels, currently. Do we have several 1000 years' of fossil fuels

See how you conflated "currently" with "for the next several thousand years" there? Oops. You really want to say categorically that we won't be able to mine for an element in a thousand years' time because we won't have enough oil to run the machinery? But Tim made an idiotic assumption. Right.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

> Energy is near-as-dammit unlimited. What's limited is our ability to harness it, convert it, move it around

For pete's sake. *Exactly*. Christ on a fucking bike.

> But that's just a technological problem

Yes. And it's a huge one.

> See how you conflated "currently" with "for the next several thousand years" there? Oops

No. Currently we use fossil fuels. When they run out I *don't know* what will replace them. You can't assume that something just as cheap will. It may, it may not, but either you don't assume it, or you do and you make that assumption explicit. He didn't.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

> For pete's sake. *Exactly*. Christ on a fucking bike.

Hey, don't blame me if you don't word things correctly. I was responding to exactly what you wrote.

> Yes. And it's a huge one.

Yes, and? What we're discussing here isn't how difficult it is to solve the problem but how likely it is to be solved in a given timeframe. Given that that timeframe is significantly larger than the one that got us from horses being our fastest method of transport to landing on the Moon, any assumption that progress will not occur because it's difficult is frankly ridiculous.

> Currently we use fossil fuels. When they run out I *don't know* what will replace them.

It's 1500. Currently we burn wood. When it runs out, I don't know what will replace it. But any prediction I make based on the assumption that nothing will replace it is going to be utter bollocks -- and, indeed, such predictions were made and were utter bollocks.

> You can't assume that something just as cheap will.

And no-one did. The hypothetical fuel doesn't need to be as cheap as oil. It just needs to be cheap enough to make extracting the mineral cost-effective. Saying that it needs to be cheaper than oil is like evaluating the cost-effectiveness of a current mining rig based on a comparison between the cost of the oil it's using and the price of whale oil in olden times. It's completely immaterial.

> It may, it may not, but either you don't assume it, or you do and you make that assumption explicit. He didn't.

Oh, please. If someone doesn't explicitly state "I think we might be using different technology in a thousand years' time," the rest of their argument is rendered invalid?

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Re: Ahem.

""What has happened to the good science journalists?"

I can give you a clue.

"I agree it is a great article"

*smug smile*"

Sadly not working at the BBC it would seem

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Re: Ahem.

El Reg isn't really the place for that. There's a definite desire for "flavour" here. And, if I'm honest, I'm probably not the writer for a "fair and balanced" piece. Given that I know....no, not am convinced, but know....that those who tell me that everything is just about to run out are ignorant.

As an example, there was a recent report from the Royal Society. As scientific as science can get. In the economic discussion of resources (I assume Sir Partha Dsagupta) there was no problem. The moment we got to the environmental/ecologic section (I assume Paul Ehrlich and Jonathan Porrit) everything that the earlier part of the report had said was entirely ignored. As if they hadn't even read it. They simply assumed the opposite of what Dasgupta had said.

No, in such circumstances I am not the right guy for the impartial article.

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Re: Ahem.

"Sadly not working at the BBC it would seem"

Indeed not: the BBC can't afford me.

Which is slightly weird I know, given the river of cash they have. The BEEB pays vast amounts for stars, horrendous amounts for bureaucrats, but very much lower than the free market for standard work. Odd, but true.

Perhaps that should be the other way around. I can't afford to work for the BEEB.

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Re: Ahem.

>>"Which is slightly weird I know, given the river of cash they have. The BEEB pays vast amounts for stars, horrendous amounts for bureaucrats, but very much lower than the free market for standard work. Odd, but true."

I've heard that the BBC used to be the place for people of particular careers and that therefore it had quite a culture of 'working your way up'. I don't know how true that is today or if it applies to journalists or just technicians which is the context in which I heard it. But perhaps they pay less because they're still stuck in an era where they expect to have long-term career builders working their way up inside the BBC?

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

> I was responding to exactly what you wrote.

Maybe mixed wires. It's pretty evident to me we've got a large sphere of energy nearby but concentrating it enough is a clear problem. Maybe my cockup (shrug).

> Yes, and? What we're discussing here isn't how difficult it is to solve the problem but how likely it is to be solved in a given timeframe

Dearie me, no. If it's (hypothetically) solved in say 500 years but our fossil fuels run out in (say) 200, that's a 300 year gap of no energy. No energy = no cheap anything = population collapse = war = more death. No, if we need another energy source it has to be contiguous with our current fossil fuel exhaustion, or else. Or do you think our current civilisation will just magically hibernate for 300 years till the problem is solved? It won't. Dumb.

> It's 1500. Currently we burn wood. When it runs out, I don't know what will replace it. But any prediction I make based on the assumption that nothing will replace it is going to be utter bollocks

You're right! It's 2500. Fossil fuels have run out and we've replaced them with... wood. It worked before, right, and civilisation carries on exactly as before, just burning wood. Yes? No?

Look, maybe something will come to fill in the gap, the problem is solved, but it DOES NOT get solved by people like you supposing technology as a magic wand that cures everything. People like you ARE the problem because they can't be arsed to face reality - "the market will fix it"/"something will come along"/"progress is great". Clearly you have no grasp of the scale of extraction of fossil fuels, or their enormous energy density. Ignorance of these is not a position of strength.

> And no-one did [assume that something just as cheap will come along]. The hypothetical fuel doesn't need to be as cheap as oil. It just needs to be cheap enough to make extracting the mineral cost-effective.

The key deceptive phrase here is "It just needs to be cheap enough...". And it may be, or it may not. Show me how it *will* be "cheap enough", without handwaving or assuming the future will fix everything, because I bloody can't.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

Missed this last bit

> Oh, please. If someone doesn't explicitly state "I think we might be using different technology in a thousand years' time," the rest of their argument is rendered invalid?

Misrepresentation. The assumption is not that 'we *might* be using a different technology' but that there *will* be some technology to take its place that's "cheap enough" (your words). Something magic to step in and save the day.

Like I said, maybe there will be, but better not assume it. Better to get involved in energy policy and make the future happen. Before you ask, some years ago I was. I will again. How about you?

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

No magic is needed.

Unlike previous centuries, the replacements for coal, oil and gas are already clearly visible on the horizon.

Nuclear fission already works, and nuclear fusion is relatively close - we know how to make that work, but can't scale it up yet. That's coal replaced - and we could do that today if we wished.

Many energy uses of oil and gas are already easily replaceable by electricity - heat pumps, trains and trolleybuses. Other forms of transport will still need some form of oil, and battery technology is unlikely to change that, due to the energy density needed for lorries, aircraft and shipping.

Various forms of solar power already work but are too low efficacy to be economically viable, this can also change if funding switches away from the current insane subsidies for solar PV across to actual research into various forms of solar power.

- One interesting angle of solar power research is the engineered microbes that use photosynthesis to create artificial oil and gas. It is likely that one or more of those could be scaled up, so that's oil & gas replaced.

Even solar PV could be improved, along with the HVDC interconnects needed to get power from the good places to put solar PV and solar furnaces to the locations where the power is needed.

It is true that there will almost certainly be an energy crisis very soon, however it will be caused by the politics that have made it impossible to build appropriate generation capacity, and the decision to subsidise building and operating large numbers of white elephant installations of technology that simply isn't ready yet, rather than the research and development that would make some of them economically viable.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Richard 12

Upvoted as you've tried to provide answers instead of pretty wishes and rainbows, however I do disagree with some of what you've said.

> Nuclear fission already works,

Hmm. Kind of works, we act stupid with it, we still don't know how to dispose of waste safely etc. But yes, it's our ace card.

> and nuclear fusion is relatively close - we know how to make that work, but can't scale it up yet. That's coal replaced - and we could do that today if we wished.

I don't know about how close it is. We should do a manhatten project on it. (Write to your MP!)

> Various forms of solar power already work but are too low efficacy to be economically viable

That's debatable. It can be argued that coal is heavily subsidised compared to PV.

> if funding switches away from the current insane subsidies for solar PV

I disagree. The subsidies build a user base which builds industries which produce economies of scale. But we may differ on this.

> One interesting angle of solar power research is the engineered microbes that use photosynthesis to create artificial oil and gas. It is likely that one or more of those could be scaled up, so that's oil & gas replaced.

Not going to happen. It would take phenomenal land use to do this. From <http://www.syntheticgenomics.com/media/emrefact.html> "Algae could yield more than 2000 gallons of fuel per acre of production per year". 1 Barrel ~ 40 gallons, so 50 barrels/acre/year. I think we use about 90 million barrels/day, so = about 30 billion barrels/year [*]. We'll be using less if we use nuke but, no, I don't think it's going to work. IMO anyway.

Positive post, though, thanks.

[*] sickening figure isn't it.

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Re: Ahem.

As the BBC struggle these days to get the audio at a decent level on live events these days - I'd say it's a good bet the more technically able people - are obviously being employed elsewhere (and as ITV are even worse - it isn't there).

Seriously the BBC used to be held up as an example of how other countries should run their media networks, but these days - the BBC can't even use proper punctuation (or proof read it would appear) on their own website.

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What has happened to the good science journalists?

Good Science Journalist: Here are the facts.

Editor: Well thats f**ing boring. I want something more punchy. Something that attracts eyeballs. We're here to sell papers (or ad clicks) you know! Screw all the hard numbers.

GSJ: Ok, I'll clean it up.

Editor: Nope still boring. Look, you've got to pay your way here or you're gone.

GSJ sells soul to devil. Screw the facts. Up the alarmist. Becomes Bad Science Journalist.

BSJ: How about this: Glaciers will all melt, flood the empty mines and mutant octopii will invade London and eat everyones brains.

Editor : When will this happen?

BSJ : Two hundred years from now?

Editor: Sooner.

BSJ: Next Tuesday?

Editor: YESSS!

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

For pete's sake. *Exactly*. Christ on a fucking bike.

do you want nails with that ?

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Re: Great Article.

We need all the lithium for shake n bake.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

> If it's (hypothetically) solved in say 500 years but our fossil fuels run out in (say) 200, that's a 300 year gap of no energy. No energy = no cheap anything = population collapse = war = more death.

You're assuming that one energy source running out and another being developed are independent events. In fact, one drives the other through pricing. Alternatives that were too expensive to develop become worthwhile as the old options become more expensive and become cheaper as technology becomes more mature. The price of any prospective alternative goes up as the urgency of the need for it increases, which pushes up the amount of resources that go into developing it. You seem to think this stuff is just some wishful guess, but it happens constantly.

Interestingly, you are implying that humans would rather suffer mass global population collapse and war than build some nuclear power stations. And you accuse me of being dumb.

> Look, maybe something will come to fill in the gap, the problem is solved, but it DOES NOT get solved by people like you supposing technology as a magic wand that cures everything. People like you ARE the problem because they can't be arsed to face reality - "the market will fix it"/"something will come along"/"progress is great".

But I never suggested that I was the one who would develop a replacement for fossil fuels. It is possible to predict that someone will achieve something without being that person.

You are insisting that any prediction that the world will move from one energy source to another when necessary has to be accompanied by an exact prediction of what that will be, with supporting evidence, or it doesn't count. The thing is, though, anyone who suggested in 1850 that we wouldn't need so many horses in the 20th Century because need would drive the market would incentivize ingenuity would drive technology was right, regardless of whether they predicted the rise of the car. Meanwhile, people like you could insist that any such prediction must be ignored unless it sets out in detail, with timeframes, the inventions of the internal combustion engine and assembly-line production, and get on with fretting about what on Earth we were going to do with all the horseshit.

You say that people like me are refusing to face reality, but actually I've just learnt from history. I've been listening to people tell us we're about to run out of stuff and face resultant mass death and war for my entire life. The UN sent a distinguished gentleman to my school to tell us very soberly about their official predictions of mass global starvartion, killing a couple of billion people by the year 2000, 2010 at the outside, due to running out of oil and not being able to grow enough food. These doommongers have been wrong every single time they've opened their mouths. Recognising that is facing reality.

But you clearly believe reality is different, so go on, then: give us an example from the last five hundred years of when a suggestion that market-driven technological progress would solve some predicted problem would have been wrong.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen

Other forms of transport will still need some form of oil, and battery technology is unlikely to change that, due to the energy density needed for lorries, aircraft and shipping.

Sorry, there are no fundamental problems here, just a need to migrate to new technologies as and when they become cost-effective (mostly here, because the old ones become more expensive because of fossil-fuel depletion).

Lorries can go electrical in the same way cars can go electrical. The "problem" in both cases is recharge time. We need batteries that can recharge at a higher current, or a standardised battery-swap technology with recharging being done slowly at the fuelling stations. The latter could be done with today's tech. Both would need a huge investment in infrastructure which is unlikely to happen while oil remains at its current price. (There's also compressed natural gas, which is already replacing diesel to some extent in the USA and elsewhere where NG is cheaper than diesel, but that's a short-term work-around).

Oh, and if you segregated freight from cars to a degree, trolley-lorries would be another viable approach. Wire up the M-ways and main A-roads, build pull-overs for HGVs to unhitch themselves, their batteries would be fully charged after an hour or so travelling along the wire, for an onward local delivery. ISTR this was actually implemented somewhere in the FSU.

Shipping could use liquified natural gas. Post fossil fuel it could revert to "sail". Modern wind technology wouldn't look anything like the square meters of canvas of yore. Think vertical powered rotating cylinders (Bernoulli effect) and/or huge computer-controlled kites, plus energy generated from wind to charge battery banks for use in close-quarters manouvering or escaping port during dead calms. (Low tech batteries: sail ships need heavy ballast so they can tack, may as well be lead-acid batteries? ) Finally add in modern weather forecasting and telemetrics. The sail ships of tomorrow would never become becalmed because they'd know where the calms were going to be, and navigate elsewhere. Really BIG ships, if needed at all, might be nuclear-powered.

Which leaves aircraft, and the simplest (only?) solution there is that we go back to the 1920s. The very rich or those sent by rich employers fly in craft powered by (necessarily expensive) biofuel. The rest of us stay on the ground. Mass air tourism and most air freight is not a necessity, it's a luxury.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

> You're assuming that one energy source running out and another being developed are independent events

No. Your assumption: "What we're discussing here isn't how difficult it is to solve the problem but how likely it is to be solved in a given timeframe". Not contiguous but "in a given time frame". Your words.

> In fact, one drives the other through pricing

I agree up to a point. Markets are crap at dealing with long-term future likelihoods though, under the current system ("profits NOW!"). They need to be forced to take a long term view if your suggestion is to work. If that were so I'd be a lot happier.

> Interestingly, you are implying that humans would rather suffer mass global population collapse and war than build some nuclear power stations.

You think our current energy policy is not a mess? Acknowledged fossil fuels are running out, nuke builds are getting behind schedule, you can find vegetables in the supermarkets *flown* in to the UK FFS, we still have no policy for dealing with nuke waste (something I know about) etc.

Yeah, I think humans are dumb enough to outbreed their sustainable resources and then crash horribly. Looks like it's happening already.

> But I never suggested that I was the one who would develop a replacement for fossil fuels

I didn't say you were, only that you had given no suggestions other than nice wishes. Perhaps if you got involved in energy policy...? No? Too much effort? Ah well.

> It is possible to predict that someone will achieve something without being that person

And it is possible to be wrong. Not necessarily wrong, but possibly.

> You are insisting that any prediction that the world will move from one energy source to another when necessary has to be accompanied by an exact prediction of what that will be

No I did not. I just didn't like your (and Tim's) ignorance of energy supply. Others here (Richard 12, Nigel 11) are giving some useful, constructive, intelligent, thoughtful suggestions. You are taking the view that happy things will happen if you wish hope enough. That's not good enough, indeed its a root cause of our trouble now. (NB I don't necessarily agree with the aforementioned 2 posters but I value what they're saying and for that I upvoted).

> These doommongers have been wrong every single time they've opened their mouths

Yep. So far. One day they may be right. Or we could make them wrong by stop acting like short-term apes and plan for the future.

> so go on, then: give us an example from the last five hundred years of when a suggestion that market-driven technological progress would solve some predicted problem would have been wrong.

Well, it's not tech but this. Not a big fan of this guy but here. The market bombed just a couple of years later. It was obvious even to me what would happen and I'm no economist. Dumb people are dumb.

If you insist it has to be a tech fix, I can't off the top of my head, but assuming that the magic will continue forever is like assuming any bubble will continue forever.

Damn: just remembered this!. Intel says 10Ghz chips in 2011, the editor of that page then loonily opines

"

so, assuming that early 2001 is a time when 1 GHz processors are rampant let's see what we get if we apply Moore's Law:

early 2001: 1 GHz

mid 2002: 2 GHz

early 2004: 4 GHz

mid 2005: 8 GHz

early 2007: 16 GHz

mid 2008: 32 GHz

early 2010: 64 GHz

mid 2011: 128 GHz

This is very interesting indeed. Intel appears to be underestimating progress in 2011 by a full factor of 10.

"

Fantastic! Seen any 10Ghz chips on the market recently? Seen any 128Ghz chips either? No? Sad innit.

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Re: Great Article...Club Of Rome LIES !

The Club of Rome LIES about Carbon climate forcing, 'sustainable' energy and 'peak' oil. On climate, see "The Reality of Long Range Weather and Climate Forecasting" by Dr Piers Corbyn at the Thunderbolts(.)info site. On 'sustainable' energy see "Green Prince of Darkness" and on 'peak' oil see "Fracturing the Fossil Fuel Fable", both at the FauxScienceSlayer site. We have been systematically LIED to by the ruling Demonic Warlords about everything.

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Re: Ahem.

Whoa, Graham!

What on earth do journalists have to do with this? If there's an issue of judgement, a complex story that requires a multi-faceted perspective, especially one that includes subjective input - the care of the elderly, tax on alcohol - I can see a reason to suppose there is an advantage of having a debate arbitrated by a seasoned, well rounded individual though why that individual should be a 'journalist' really is not clear to me.

But when it comes to a question like whether or not there will be adequate minerals available to meet our needs what does a journalist bring to the table? If there are divergent perspective on such a black-and-white topic they will be held by experts in the field who have credentials such as a related PhD or fellowship of a relevant chartered organization or hold a relevant position in an appropriate leading organization. They can tell us their perspective directly and, if appropriate, we can make up our minds. This does not need to be mediated, or worse interpreted, by some who read history at uni.

Now if it is the case that the world's supply of a irreplaceable mineral will end in a few years time then maybe then a journalist will have a role in explaining why that's happened and the policy decisions necessary to take any possible remedial action.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

Whilst clock speeds haven't been going up by much, the number of cores on a CPU has.

Also, strictly speaking Moore's Law refers to the density of switches on silicon, not the clock speed of a chip.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two @Roj Blake

> Whilst clock speeds haven't been going up by much, the number of cores on a CPU has.

Irrelevant. The prediction was clock speed, it fell on its face.

> Also, strictly speaking Moore's Law refers to the density of switches on silicon, not the clock speed of a chip.

You're completely right. Not even 'strictly speaking', the that extrapolation was total bollox. I shouldn't have posted that bit. Upvoted for that catch.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

> Markets are crap at dealing with long-term future likelihoods though, under the current system ("profits NOW!"). They need to be forced to take a long term view if your suggestion is to work. If that were so I'd be a lot happier.

See, this is funny, because it was only a couple of years ago that oil futures traders speculating on coming oil shortages pushed the current price of oil up to reflect the predicted future price rise, thus increasing the cost of use and therefore decreasing the amount of use, thereby increasing the amoutn of time we can expect oil to last. And what happened? The media and political class exploded with outrage at the Evil Bankers.

> I didn't say you were, only that you had given no suggestions other than nice wishes.

Or, as they're otherwise known, an evidence-based understanding of how markets work.

> Perhaps if you got involved in energy policy...? No? Too much effort? Ah well.

Damn right it's too much effort, because I have other things to do. But here's an idea. How about if every single person in the world got involved in energy policy? Would that work? I think the committee might be a tad unworkable myself, and that most of the work they'd have to give up is probably needed. Given that, is it really fair to say that no-one who isn't directly involved in the political side of something has a right to voice an opinion on it? And have you ever said anything about something you're not politically involved in? I bet you have. I see you were commenting about the NSA. Are you involved in the USA's national security and espionage policies? No? Too much effort?

>> These doommongers have been wrong every single time they've opened their mouths

> Yep. So far. One day they may be right.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yes, they may be, just as the guys preaching on steet corners about the Book of Revelations may be, but it seems a tad perverse to accuse anyone who decides not to believe people who have a 100% record of being wrong of refusing to face reality.

> Well, it's not tech but this. Not a big fan of this guy but here. The market bombed just a couple of years later.

The real estate bubble is your example? House prices that had been rising for a hundred years crashed back by about seven to eight years? Wow. You're right: the sky is falling.

> Intel says 10Ghz chips in 2011, the editor of that page then loonily opines ....

But this example makes my point. Did computers become more powerful? Yes. Was Moore's Law broken? No. What happened was that progress and innovation continued, fast, but that, when asked to specify exactly how technology would go, a soothsayer got it wrong. As they always do, even when they don't get details wrong like misunderstanding Moore's Law. Since even very clever well-informed people have been consistently mostly wrong when making such predictions, I don't. But you keep insisting that only people who do make such predictions can possibly have valid opinions.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

Starting at the end:

That's NOT what Moore's Law is (and it's not a law in any scientific sense anyway.) Moore's Law is about the density of transistors and it's still ticking along, albeit maybe doubling every 2 years now. And in terms of MHz, we went multi-core rather than single core high speed, so it could be argued processing power is still increasing at an exponential rate even if baseline speeds aren't. Seems to me like the magic IS continuing.

> we still have no policy for dealing with nuke waste (something I know about) etc.

Sure we do - use the radioactive waste to create more energy. We just opt not to do it because the by-products get more and more nasty and more and more dangerous if they were ever released into the wild/taken by bad people.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

> See, this is funny, because it was only a couple of years ago that oil futures traders speculating on ...

Clearly oil will run out. It's been predicted for decades. But 'only a couple of years ago' is not long term. Or is it?

> Or, as they're otherwise known, an evidence-based understanding of how markets work.

No evidence that you consider markets other than omnipotent in the face of a shortage. They can cure anything, all will be well, fluffy wishes again.

> Damn right it's too much effort [to get involved in energy policy]...

Exactly.

>... because I have other things to do. But here's an idea. How about if every single person in the world got involved in energy policy?

Because I suggest you should doesn't mean everyone in the world should. There are many other things to be concerned about. It's just general apathy that stops people becoming involved in anything.

> And have you ever said anything about something you're not politically involved in? I bet you have.

This is a fair point. I don't expect everyone to be involved in everything, only that they take due care of *something*. Doing nothing for anything is dangerous I think. So as long as I do something (which I did), I have a right to speak on it and other areas. Those who do nothing don't have that right. IMO anyway.

> Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yes, they may be, just as the guys preaching on steet corners about the Book of Revelations may be

False comparison. Religion is neither measurable nor testable. Fossil fuel extraction is. CO2 rises are. The lack of a current energy policy to replace FFs when they're gone is eveident.

> The real estate bubble is your example? House prices that had been rising for a hundred years crashed back by about seven to eight years? Wow. You're right: the sky is falling.

Yep. People thought the bubble would grow forever. It didn't. The market failed in its predictions. Read again: the market FAILED. Not infallible.

> But this example [10Ghz chips] makes my point.

No it doesn't. Exactly the opposite. Intel, one of the largest chip companies in the world if not the largest, made a prediction and *got it badly wrong*. If you think More Cores is equivalent to Higher Clock, you're clearly not a developer. More cores happened BECAUSE they couldn't keep cranking up the clock even though they said they could. They WANTED to produce higher clocking chips but they FAILED. Your soothsayer, Intel, got it wrong. If anyone knew about clocking up it should have been Intel. They wanted to satisfy the market and they FAILED. Dear me...

> Since even very clever well-informed people have been consistently mostly wrong when making such predictions, I don't.

No, you just wave the harry potter wand of Market Forces. You don't even propose an alternative energy source unlike other commenters. "It'll be all OK if you turn your brain off and trust the invisible hand". Maybe. Maybe not. Looks like human stupidity will cause us to find out.

I also notice you avoided addressing my para wherein I said "You think our current energy policy is not a mess?". Why, market forces not looking too good there?

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

Clarification as I realised what you're saying.

>> But this example [10Ghz chips] makes my point.

>No it doesn't. Exactly the opposite

Intel said X. They couldn't do it. They then did Y as an alternative. You say the market succeeded. I agree, kind of. More cores is an alternative to higher clocks but not as good as. So I'm saying the market could not produce something of the same quality - we get a lower quality alternative.

There's always a *lower quality* alternative. Always. It may be much lower quality ie. going back to wood burning when FFs are exhausted. Can we support more than a few million on wood alone? No? Then what happens to our 7 billion population?

BTW when resources get tight people get aggressive. I wonder how The Market copes with resource wars gone nuclear? You can't assume linearity.

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Re: Creationists

Ok, creationists are pestilential but I thought they only infested the US. What we are talking about is good old fashioned, universal and very human bullshit. The best cure for that is open discussion with plenty of facts available. The more the merrier.

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Re: Great Article.

We have yet to even scratch the abyssal plains. We already know that there are vast resources there, but we lack the political/legal means to expoit them. Here once agian, we are prevented from taking advantage of known resrources because of objections being raised by those who would prefer to keep everyone in penury.

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Re: What has happened to the good science journalists?

It's simples:

The Progressives heard Bill Murray's line from Ghostbusters and made it the cornerstone of their agenda. You know the line: "Back off man. I'm a scientist."

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@ Squander Two

> It may, it may not, but either you don't assume it, or you do and you make that assumption explicit. He didn't.

Oh, please. If someone doesn't explicitly state "I think we might be using different technology in a thousand years' time," the rest of their argument is rendered invalid?"

What's even more amusing is, that's exactly the assumption all the tree huggers make when talking about "renewables". They don't know exactly how it's going to work, but as soon as they get those evil money grubbing corporations out of the way, the science will be simple. But they don't state explicitly that they don't know how we're going to get there.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

Acknowledged fossil fuels are running out, nuke builds are getting behind schedule..

Blah, blah, blah, blah blah.

Look here you sanctimonious pinhead: Your kind have been making this exact prediction since the 1970s when the bogey man was the coming ice age instead of global warming. We were supposed to be out of oil no later than 1995 which was going to cause WWIII which was going to leave the cockroaches in charge of the planet. Your track record for predictions is worse than Herbert W. Armstrong. At least after three failed end of the world predictions he learned not to do that any more.

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Re: Ahem. @ BlueGreen @Squander Two

Clearly oil will run out. It's been predicted for decades. But 'only a couple of years ago' is not long term. Or is it?

Every 5 years since at least back to 1970, some august body of sanctimonious idiots has predicted that we will run out of oil within 15 years. That's a long enough track record from me to put you in with the rest of the end of the world doomsayers.

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I would argue the situation was even worse

We're ruled by arts graduates who don't merely fail to understand the problems we face, but fail to understand the importance of hiring advisers who do. To cap it off I've just had to choose which particular flavour of cluelessness I wish to govern me, in large part to ensure that we're run by idiots who will ruin the country slowly, rather than xenophobic idiots who'll REALLY make a mess of the place.

OK. I'll get a coffee and calm down. I didn't sleep that well.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I can't even be arsed to vote. Even a 'protest' vote would mean voting for the novice buffoons instead of the grandmaster buffoons and I'd rather the slightly warped novices didn't get a crack at anything to be honest.

At the end of the day it all seems to boil down to corporate backhanded cash-for-policy anyway so it's largely irrelevant who gets in to wherever.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I would encourage you to still vote. We have serious problems with our politicians but I don't believe the "cash-for-policy" is anything like as bad as it will get if the public continue with apathy. Just look at the US, where the corporations really are in complete control, to see how bad it could get!

A caring and engaged electorate, even if largely powerless, may give politicians and their corporate sponsors some pause. And maybe we can actually encourage some genuinely useful candidates to stand in future elections.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I'm not not sure it's even that. We've all been there; a manager wants to know how long something is going to take, or how much it's going to cost. You start explaining what's involved, and analysing the factors that might impact the answer. The manager holds up his hand, and says "Give me a number." So you make up a number, he puts it in the plan, and that number that you just pulled out of your arse is now a "fact". Management types and leaders like the certainty of such "facts" so they can forge ahead confidently with their plans, and look competent and assertive, but it doesn't really matter if the "facts" are actually true, as long as they came from a sufficiently credible source to let said manager or leader make the claim, and have someone to blame if it's wrong. This is especially true of politicians making long term plans, because they're going to be long gone from their post before the shit hits the fan. They're perfectly capable of understanding the problems, they just don't need to, because they just need plans that sound credible, not plans that actually work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I'm hoping the next Parliament is hung one - I'll even help build the gallows.

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Re: I would argue the situation was even worse

I'll bring the rope.....

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