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 …
You assume I would confine energy collection to the surface of the Earth.
Didn't your parents teach you what happens when you assume things?
Just the sort of over constrained incrementalist approach there has been far too much of.
Once again. Think about the system *boundary*.
Re: 10% of *all* sunlight coming from the sun.
>> can the fossil-fuel-fired party continue forever like Andrew and his American neighbours <<
Straw Man: addressing an argument the person never made. Once again, if this was school, that would earn you a fail. You'll see in my earlier posts, I'm addressing a "post oil" energy situation and describing what we need to get there.
But you're now on the right lines. There's a lot of energy there to be captured. You need to factor in nuclear and geothermal too.
Re: sunlight etc
Some time ago, Scientific American had an article about the feasibility of getting all America's energy needs from solar, wind and the like. Seemed quite doable without assuming any fancy new tech, just a great deal of plain old engineering and construction (you have to put those desert areas to good use). The numbers did add up.
Given this, there really is no reason to predict any dystopias.
"Single males are overly represented in this group: they can DIY everything they need,"
I can think of something single males can't do, even with DIY.
if your wife left you
just have to "do ti your self" nuf nuf
Tell me, people, where is this obsession with meat every day? It wasn't like this fifty-odd years ago, and look at the enviro-damage being caused in the name of raising billions of pigs and cattle. Somewhere along the way our sometimes-meat diets changed to plenty-of-meat diets.
That said, a lot of this is unworkable. If it was to be implemented, it will be "expected" of the poor and low wagers, while those with big paycheques will carry on like before.
Hell, America, as a nation, has been resisting the enviro-friendly treaties. Ones that even *China* have come onboard for. Who's going to be seen as "the big polluter" now? Maybe Dubyah WAS telling the truth after all?
Oh, and this isn't one of my typically scattered random thoughts. It is a question of how much pain would Britain, as a nation, endure, before it realises that it is really very small and all of its efforts will count for nothing if it, alone, is attempting to be zero carbon. What would be the point?
Bootnote: Love the entry into this topic - deleted, deleted, deleted... :-)
> Bootnote: Love the entry into this topic - deleted, deleted, deleted... :-)
I can repost them if you really want, but they're the typically emotional and nasty stuff you get from eco warriors. One was an ad hom, the other a list of ways of killing people.
I think reality is gradually creeping up on them. When the argument is slipping away, that's what happens.
No, I like the entry too
Though you do have a tendency to play the man instead of the issue too, so I don't find your reasons why you've deleted them all that excusable. It'd be much better even just to have a large list of elevator pitches with which to refute arguments you disagree with and fill one in every time you want to call someone a bedwetter or idiot or whatever the latest in insults is. Though fresh argument would still be preferred over canned argument.
Re: No, I like the entry too
There's a difference between making fun of a point of view and attacking a person, you blur the two. Calling a fearful, suspicious, anti-technology worldview "bedwetting" is fair comment. Calling someone an idiot isn't.
The problem with some topics (eg Apple, over the years) is that some people take every criticism of an argument personally. The sign of a mature person who can weight several opposing ideas at once.
Global warming and environmental stories do attract far more personal abuse, threats and bullying than any other topic. Zealots view it as a moral issue, not a practical problem to be solved, so people who oppose them are immoral, and fair game for abuse and bullying.
There's no reason why we should change our policy on abusive posts if they contain no rational argument. On other sites I've noticed moderators simply snip out the abuse and if there is a point, let the argument stand. I tried that here yesterday - guess what happened?
Your argument would be stronger if you didn't insist on total anonymity, but you deserve an explanation
If that is the case...
... then the basic problem is starting out with this ``making fun of'', and perhaps not bothering with the rebuttal at all. Which would be besides the point anyway because for some people it no longer matters; failing to be much funny at all here also means failing to make a point and thus losing the argument.
Great for building up a ``controversial'' reputation and attracting dissent regardless of rationality, not so great for moving a discussion along. If we're talking about the strength of arguments, those that can stand on their own merits and don't lean on non-universal ideas of ``fun'' tend to carry more.
Neither this nor the previous comment except its title was much about el reg's moderation policy. Though I dislike moderation in general I have few comments that ended up rejected or deleted though I've attracted my share of downvotes. I think el reg is doing reasonably well with the ``rationality'' filter, and as long as that stays the case and it doesn't become a ``morality'' filter, well, it's still a filter but corporate entities do need to cover their arse. And yes, though not my preferred method, moderation does help with the readable.
Thing is, calling a crank a crank in his face is a bit akin to cranking the crank up to eleven. Can't complain about the amounts of crank you're liberating then. Or, as the Germans put it:
Wenn man mit einem Narren streitet, solle man darauf achten, dass dieser nicht dasselbe tut
Back in the 70s the post-apocalyptic types in the US were not tree-huggers. They tended to be well-stocked with weapons and rations.
I don't CARE
I have worked for the last 45 odd years - I don't care, I demand and expect to live a comfortable retirement. The greens can go Fuck themselves.
I will demand my rights and expect them regardless of whether the country or World can afford them, AKA I will take what I want regardless.
Comments welcome - there will be 15 million in Britain alone waiting to hear what you have to say
Good article, even if I don't agree.
I am a confused puppy myself - free marketer, tinged with a engineer's opinion that laws of physics do matter. I don't find Greens pleasant bedfellows, far from, but I tentatively believe that global warming might end up being a Very Big Deal (TM). I wish it didn't so I could go back to flying off to Hawaii, which I have all but given up.
What I find annoying is that environmental debate is left to either left-leaning academics/public servants or to hair shirt self-flagellating yahoos. Just because changing our lifestyle is inconvenient doesn't mean that we won't have to do it. But as long as clever folks don't articulate things like nuclear energy, carbon taxes rather than handouts, more capitalism rather than government nannying, the plans will all end up being made by folks like PETA.
And, yes, for now the electorate would not touch this stuff with a 10' pole. But enough of a mess later on might force a rethink. What we will need then is sensible policies that _can_ be sold to voters, not silly mankind-is-a-pox-on-the-world thinking.
Here's hoping that it's all caused by sunspot activity levels ;-)
p.s. Mac Kay is actually pretty clever and hardly Malthusian, unless you don't know what a Malthusian is. I just disagree with his insistence that nuke-based solutions should work for 500 years or so -100 years should do to get to fusion.
Big Greenie Is Watching YOU!
"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever. "
Nice of the Zero IQ Carbon (Un)trust
to volunteer isn't it. Volunteer to be first against the wall when the revolution comes... next thursday OK for everyone?
A quango that desperately needs culling ..with extreme prejudice! Fascist morons.
"confine energy collection to the surface of the Earth."
Did I assume that collection would be confined to the surface of the earth?
Not exactly. I made an engineering cost-effectiveness back-of-envelope judgement that solar sails (or whatever they're called) collecting solar energy outside the earth's atmosphere and beaming it back to where we currently need the power (where we live, on the earth's surface) are not going to be practical or affordable in engineering/physics/economics terms, in part because the currently proposed mechanisms for transmitting energy from them to the surface of the earth (visible light or microwaves?) were somewhat impractical last time I checked.
Obviously another possibility would be deep-core drilling but deep drilling's out of fashion this month.
If those weren't the particular mechanisms you were thinking of, other examples would be most welcome, but as far as I can currently see they mostly need to be outside the Earth's atmosphere and therefore need an extremely high performance energy transmission mechanism. By no means impossible, but whether it's cost effective either in $$$ or in Energy Return on Energy Invested would be an analysis some people might like to see.
I'd be genuinely happy to be corrected, especially if you have definitive references with Mackay-style numbers for GW and $$$, rather than uncosted Arthur-Clarke-style SF visions. As (hopefully) would Andrew and his fellow travellers.
"Think about the system *boundary*."
What exactly are you trying to say here? Surely for all practical purposes for the foreseeable future, the boundary in thermodynamics or energy economics terms is not far above the Earth's surface, which might as well be *on* the Earth's surface (again, correction welcome).
"Did I assume that collection would be confined to the surface of the earth?"
Yes. Give the relative sizes of the projected area of the Earth and the sphere of light at the Earths orbit which the projected area could catch a moments thought would have told you *most* of the collection would be done by free orbiting collectors.
My actual *point* was that with present efforts to make use of existing energy and material resources (The continued use of landfill for wast disposal. The complete failure to use *any* of the UK coast for tidal or wave power generation *despite* it being one of the best place in Europe for them. The complete failure to generate *any* of the UK's natural gas needs by anaerobe digestion) have been *so* limited and ineffectual that (certainly in the UK's but world wide) until *full* use has been made of *available* resources we don't need to look at free flying collectors.
People would be better off working out *how* to make full use of those resources before spouting the "We're all doooomed " mantra.
In energy and resource terms the gulf between what is used, what *could* be used readily (but no one seems bothered to use) and reasonable attainable limits (A measurable fraction of the Sun's output and a reasonable fraction of the mass of the Solar System) is so *vast* (not just between the first 2 and the last but also *between* the first 2) that we should stop worrying there is not *enough* but work out how to *use* what is available.
A *realistic* system boundary *is* the Solar System. If you doubt this picture what would happen if there were no Sun and if all the *waste* heat stayed in the Earth atmosphere.
No Sun leave Earth's atmosphere a sea of Liquid Nitrogen and Oxygen a few hundred metres deep. Without somewhere to dump the waste heat produced by *all* Human activity this planet would be a molten soup. In reality it's radiated into space at night and drives a little of the atmosphere to escape velocity to leave the Earth entirely.
For numbers on Space Solar the 1977 NASA study measured an 87% conversion efficiency from electricity to microwave energy and the same back again at about 1Kw/Kg of the cheapest converter technology, when Silicon solar cells could manage c17% conversion (2010 state of the art is c17% thin film, 43% rigid crystal). Sunlight above the atmosphere is 44% stronger than sunlight on Earthat c1300W/m^2. Current solar array work by the USAF give an array specific energy of 100Kw per Kg and last but not least you might like to look up "Solaren" who are the contractors to Pacific Gas & Electric to deliver 200MW of electricity from a space solar array by 2016. PG&E are not a charity.At anywhere about 800Km the array works 24 hours a day (no Earth shadow)
What am I saying. Believe what you want. We are *far* from exhausting the possibilities for improvements in meeting our energy and resource needs.
Off to Cygnus Alpha with me then.
Why do you even believe technological progress is necessary?
We got by with fairly low tech for centuries, but all of a sudden in the past couple of centuries humans seems to believe that they need their cars and TVs and mobile phones to live a fulfilling life. Were humans miserable before the industrial revolution?
I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights. I don't understand this sense of entitlement you seem to feel. If anything our technological progress just increases our desires, makes us more material, more distant from each other. As other nations get caught up in this do you really think that there is a technological solution for all the species we make extinct as we turn their habitats to our use? Will we bring them back from DNA traces? When we re-introduce them will we get the balance right?
Even if we assume that technological progress is a human drive, does it really to have to be at such a pace? Why is it necessary for a TV or phone to be outdated only 6 months after you bought it? The pace of our technological progress is being governed by the tech companies desire for profit and greedy consumers who can't be content with what they have. Or those always seeking advantage over others. Is this your idea of Utopia?
Why is it that the cleaner technologies can't move at such a pace? Why do I still breathe petrol fumes whenever I walk down the road? Even if oil were an unlimited resource it is still a dirty one. Whether you believe in global warming or not surely you can see the effects right in front of you? Economic arguments are weak. Economic arguments are always based on the self interest of individuals and companies who want to hold on to their material wealth. Economics are largely based on human values and humans can change their values if they want to. They just don't want to.
There is no such thing as human nature. Humans can choose their nature. It is not some sort of written rule that humans are greedy, they simply choose to be greedy. Equally they can choose not to be greedy, but that course is harder so it is not often picked.
Fixing more trollop
"I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights."
If they weren't a right we could demand then you're saying it is OK to take them away from people.
"Were humans miserable before the industrial revolution?"
Yes, they were pretty ill, died easily and they committed genocide quite often for very minor things that today are in abundance and available to many.
"Why is it necessary for a TV or phone to be outdated only 6 months after you bought it?"
If you want to use a Nokia 3310 you can still do so. Just don't cry about how you might also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc
The more powerful a device becomes the less you need to carry around, and that is not only efficiency at work but also good for the environment.
"Even if oil were an unlimited resource it is still a dirty one."
Dirty only if not processed to the best standards, which we have not achieved yet in the meager time we have used oil for fuel.
And technically speaking oil is unlimited as the planet continues to produce it under our feet all the time. We can't live without it as nearly all products are developed using petro-chemicals.
"Why do I still breathe petrol fumes whenever I walk down the road?"
The so-called harmful chemicals in petrol fumes are measured in the billionths parts of air and in real world terms would only harm your health if you were extremely weak or stuck your mouth on an exhaust pipe. Some are beneficial - CO2 feeds plants and Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator which improves your blood circulation. It is used by athletes in higher amounts to improves sports performance.
"It is not some sort of written rule that humans are greedy, they simply choose to be greedy. Equally they can choose not to be greedy"
If you have no self-interest then you're not interested in survival, by your own hard work at least. A person who gives up on their self-interest is a person who has given up their rights, even their life, to the authority of either a make-believe being, a megalomaniac political ideology, or the state.
"If you want to use a Nokia 3310 you can still do so. Just don't cry about how you might also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc
The more powerful a device becomes the less you need to carry around, and that is not only efficiency at work but also good for the environment."
I by no means agree with the greens on carbon, but I wonder if I'm even the same species as people like you. You use the word need in such a bizarre way it puzzles me. Why on earth does anybody "NEED to carry an mp3 player" or whatever. Nobody NEEDS an mp3 player. You don't NEED any of those things, you just want them.
People who think they NEED so many of the trappings of modern human existence actually need a reality check. Unfortunately so many of the worlds governments have signed up to the idea of a consumption driven economy being the best way to prosperity and over the years people have become convinced that they need the newest and best of everything. You don't need it and you never did, it's just become convinced that you do. The funny thing is that people who subscribe to this theory are very seldom really happy. Yes they are happy for a short while when they get a new gadget, but the rest of their time is spent being unhappy because they no longer have the newest and best. Happy people generally lead a simple life. Of course you can't enforce this way of thinking on people. It's taken a very long time to impose the current thinking on most of the populace and if we start now we might be able to convince people that they will be happy living a simpler life we might manage it by the end of the century.
To give you a simple example I have a friend who is constantly upgrading his bicycles. On his latest carbon (ahem) fibre confection he has spent around £7000 when you include the upgrades he has added in the last year. He just has to have the latest and best. He's seldom happy. His time on a 25 hasn't improved over the last few years, but at the end of every trial he's always telling us he would be faster if only he had the latest wheelset or whatever. I on the other hand have a bike from 1993 which I was given, I have spent very little on parts - just consumables and a saddle really. I'm perectly happy with the bike. My 25 time two years ago was slower than my friend by over a minute. Recently I have ridden over a minute quicker than him. I suspect my times have improved because I focus on my own performance rather than the bike. My friend is becoming even less happy because he's constantly looking for upgrades that will let him beat me, rather than concentrating on his own performance.
"I by no means agree with the greens on carbon, but I wonder if I'm even the same species as people like you. You use the word need in such a bizarre way it puzzles me. Why on earth does anybody "NEED to carry an mp3 player" or whatever. Nobody NEEDS an mp3 player. You don't NEED any of those things, you just want them."
You are correct, there's no chance we could be the same species. Your specie is clearly blind as I had written, "you MIGHT also need to carry an mp3 player, video player, newspaper, laptop, photos in your wallet, etc"
And some people do NEED these things. Ask a few musicians or fans who feel their lives are enhanced by the presence of music. Clearly you feel they don't NEED these things and should shut up and pray five times a day or something equally useless, backwards and green.
So my tip. Next time you want to spit at someone try not to aim to high. It only lands back in your face and we see what kind of person you are.
Plastering your trollop over it, you mean.
`` "I enjoy my internet access and a warm comfortable home but I don't believe in any way that they are rights."
If they weren't a right we could demand then you're saying it is OK to take them away from people.''
Plenty of people do not, in fact, have access to internet, comfy homes, or even much income at all. Yet, you say they're rights. Pensions and benefits are a right in that sense, and yet they're being taken away because nobody is around to pay for them. Clearly, that logic is flawed. I think we need to stop thinking that way.
What we have is incredibly privileged lives to the point that we can not now and likely not ever extend that ``right'' to everyone on the planet. Or at least not the same and incredibly wasteful way the Americans have it and as vociferously as you demand to keep it.
We could try and fix some of that through technology, but be prepares that some things must change before we can scale up further. As noted, we're currently scaling down as important components are *breaking* down. That's right, our precious rights are taking themselves away.
``Yes, they were pretty ill, died easily and they committed genocide quite often for very minor things that today are in abundance and available to many.''
A point, though nowadays ``we'' just do UAV strikes on fuel trucks, killing indiscriminately over the internet. Saves washing out the blood from *your* uniform, to be sure, but still.
The medical improvements are welcome, of course, but we still have a contingent of people bringing the ``good news'' to where it wasn't before, incidentally also bringing other ``good news'', and, reducing child mortality but, uhm, not child birth rates--rates that are high exactly to counter high mortality. So you get an explosion of people that do to the land exactly what rabbits or locusts do to the land when their population explodes. Yes, you could argue hunger crises are caused by missionaries.
My point? Mostly that with greater power (better tools, knowledge, etc.) comes greater responsibility. You did it, you fix it. Or, rather, we did it, we fix it. We're still in this together.
Yes, we might possibly find ways to ``fix'' our use of oil, though at this rate it looks like it's going to be too little, too late, and worse, it's by no means certain we will. I don't think you quite grasp the time scales involved, but you're welcome to back your assertion up by some numbers. We've been busy burning up the oil for a hundred years or so, coal a bit longer, and forming that stuff cost what, couple million years? couple billion? I forget. I think the rates aren't as optimistic as you pooh-pooh them to be.
``The so-called harmful chemicals in petrol fumes are measured in the billionths parts of air and in real world terms would only harm your health if you were extremely weak or stuck your mouth on an exhaust pipe.''
This is a bit of a canard and a nasty one at that. Cities with permanent smog covers, anyone? And that's not just the soot-black east German ones before they got around to cleaning them up.
``If you have no self-interest then you're not interested in survival, by your own hard work at least. A person who gives up on their self-interest is a person who has given up their rights, even their life, to the authority of either a make-believe being, a megalomaniac political ideology, or the state.''
Of course! If we don't keep up the race to see who can out-consume each other, we lose our basic human rights! Why didn't we think of that sooner?!? *facepalm*
The self-interest you advocate is that of the American Individualist Consumer, with a God^WCorporation Given Right To Consume. Which incidentally is good for everyone else's bottom line, though you might need a second or third job to pay for it all. That's certainly not the only definition of self-interest. Another would be to have enough of the right things to get by, raise happy kids, and leave them a lush green earth to frolic and raise kids in. I'm sure that, if not you plenty others here, could come up with alternative definitions of self-interest.
For the record, I'm still using a nokia 6310 someone gave me years ago. Getting a replacement battery (which is, arguably, a consumable) is proving to be a bit of bother, and there's some things that its firmware could do better but won't ever be fixed.
Still, the new backup (a cheap samsung with a solar panel in the back) replacing a 6210 that only does single-band these days was a bit of a disappointment. It's new, shiny, has a colour screen and a find-the-keyhole LED, but has deliberately been cripled (no putting appointments in the calendar and a few other things), has clearly more bugs in the firmware --glaringly, many of those visibly increase energy use--, and, uhm, no updates.
I *so* want a phone that a) has all the hardware interfaces I care for and b) comes with an open-source OS plus open-source toolchain so that I can fix this kind of flaw myself. Might take me a year or more to get around to it, but I'll get to it eventually, or someone else will. Oh, and c) be as sturdy and long-lasting as or better than a 6310.
Come that time I'll happily spend another six to ten years using the same hardware. If enough people do that, there'll be a reasonable market for ``consumables'' too. This is more important to me than whether it's the latest model, most of which seem to be roughly the same to me anyway. But then, I'm not a connaiseur of ``fashion phones''.
Why do you care?
So he spends unreasonable amounts of cash on a bike. Does it pollute that much? Do the MP3s pollute that much? No, they probably don't, when compared to Ryan Air and the like spewing tons of CO2 for a few quids so the lads can go guzzle beers on the Spanish coastline.
That's one thing no one seems to really get. It doesn't matter much if it is touchy-feely tree-huggy. Or if it is Gordon Gekko capitalism at its worst. What will ultimately matter is CO2 emissions, rather than good intentions. My neighbor wants to regulate suburban commuting here in Canada, but flies the whole family down to Mexico every winter ;-) Give us carbon taxes, rather than self-righteousness.
Still... if he can't beat your 93 bike with his 7 big ones... not so hot.
This report comes as no surprise, I have been saying the same for the last 20years. The following is true:
This island cannot produce sufficient food to support the population even if every square metre is producing vegetables. We cannot support animals: so no meat.
In this country life without artificial energy is impossible.
We cannot produce sufficient energy from renewables to supply even 20% of what we use now; we have to cut back hard on what we use and for the remainder we have to go nuclear.
Here is the IT angle: electronics take far too much of what we use, that reduction to 20% goes for electrics as well. So get busy guys.
Because all energy will be delivered by electricity, the electrical distribution system will have to be about three time the size it is now. So expect to see pylons everywhere.
Because of the switch to electricity expect to see the completion of about two nuclear power stations per year FOR EVER.
This is a pragmatic view and factors in that we will not be rescued by technology. I think you will recognise that this is close to what will happen. The only question when?
I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids. Not going to happen is it?
Re: Sustainable lifestyle?
OK, I'll call you out on this one. You're a public sector consultant and repeating "sustainability" claptrap is one of your selling points. So you have a vested interest here. You really ought to declare it, but I'm declaring it on your behalf, since it illustrates my point about people repeating garbage not for ideological reasons, but because of the financial incentives.
"I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids. Not going to happen is it?"
Yes it is. Search the entries above for "wetting" and "cot" and circular logic. Since you didn't read the article, so I wouldn't expect you to read the comments either.
"I always though that when I died I would leave a better world for my kids."
" Not going to happen is it?"
Why not ?
What the Greens fail to address......
...is how the hell am I going to keep my Taser charged up? I mean, it's going to need a lot of power because I'm planning to redistribute a small portion of it's power to every green liberal do gooder I meet.
I for one welcome our environmentally minded green overlo**KERFOOKINZAP** **sizzle**
If oil is so evil.....
Why are the government taxing the hell out of huge V8 engine gas guzzlers? We're using up all the oil as quickly as possible so it stops being an evil issue for everyone. How's about a little 'thanks' every now and again?
Paris...I'll bet she knows what a V8 is..... :)
the "We're all doooomed " mantra (John Smith 19 10:10)
Thanks for taking the trouble to reply, in depth, with figures.
I like the "outside the box thinking". Without imagination, we are all doomed.
Other than that, was I one of the ones who had said "we're all doomed" ? I hadn't intended to be. I might well have intended to say "modern aspirational north American lifestyles are doomed". Do you see the difference? I guess it depends if you consider "we" to be El Reg readers or the human race in general, or some similar distinction.
"landfill for waste disposal"
You're suggesting incineration (and power generation) instead? Birmingham used to do that, then refuse collection was privatised and now it doesn't happen. I happen to know that some woodchip from city council tree work is used for power generation. In effing London (of course, it gets there by truck not train and the trucks come back empty). Such is progress under the dead hand of Andrew's darling market.
I'm aware of natural gas from landfill too; an ex-colleague used to live in Loscoe before it blew up (look it up). It's technically possible but currently economically uninteresting.
I'm aware of a biogas (anaerobic digestion) proposal on Anglesey. Wylfa (2GW or so?) nuclear is about to close. There might or might not be a nuclear replacement, one day, if fingers ever get pulled out. The biogas proposal was to be fed by animal waste (by road again) from a wide area, but from memory generated only a few 100kw. Barely viable? In searching for details of that proposal, which I couldn't quickly find, I note the sole biogas advert on G**gle is from an outfit that can't even understand the difference between kW (power), kWh (energy), and kW/h (mostly daft, but that's the one in their ad).
"The complete failure to use *any* of the UK coast for tidal or wave power generation *despite* it being one of the best place in Europe for them."
Yes we should have done a lot more with that rather than waste it on the eventually-bankrupt BNFL. Again, see technically possible, economically uninteresting. Cambridge's Professor Mackay has a free downloadable book http://www.withouthotair.com/ with lots of numbers in it, highly recommended reading. Wave power is chapter 12, tidal power is chapter 14; I'd get it wrong if I tried to summarise, but although we should have spent less on nuclear subsidies and more on wave/tidal R+D in the last 30 years or more it wouldn't anything like have sorted us out (and as you note, there are plenty of places with less access to wave/tidal power than the UK). What's the severn barrage, 2GW or so at best? Need a bit more than that from somewhere; Mackay lists most of the options currently viewed as practical.
I probably sound negative but I'm trying to sound realistic. Technically possible but economically uninteresting applies to a lot of things. Joined up thinking would help but the stovepipe-driven "market" which brought us the insane post-privatisation "dash for gas" won't help joined up thinking. Fix that first.
I do apologise for confusing Arthur C Clarke with Asimov in my earlier post. Space based solar power comes from Asimov in 1941, and is still a few years in the future... a lot closer than fusion will be though.
Re: the "We're all doooomed " mantra (John Smith 19 10:10)
Please refrain from attributing views to people that they don't hold. If your argument is so weak you need to make stuff up, maybe you need a new argument. The dash for gas was indeed ludicrous, and if you think I'm a market fundamentalist, you *really* haven't been paying attention - or are hoping ad homs don't get noticed.
"Such is progress under the dead hand of Andrew's darling market."
Well, your prejudices are pretty clear here. Markets are good at a couple of things, though, and one of them is pricing. Which you ought to be quite pleased about, because it means the difficulty of extracting conventional fuel is reflecting in the price.
Your own views on energy policy are quite inconsistent. You're in favour of subsidies, but only for things you approve of, a priori. MacKay fell into the same trap. Unfortunately this is not how policy decisions should be made, nor how they will be made. We'll evaluate investments on the basis of their likely return. In brutal terms, how much Gw will we get from a particular energy technology, for how much. Nuclear needs subsidies, but the paybacks are proven, and there's lots of very advanced and effective new technology available.
Shocking, isn't it, that energy policy is driven by rational cost/benefit calculations, rather than Anon on a Message Board :-)
"although we should have spent less on nuclear subsidies and more on wave/tidal R+D in the last 30 years or more"
I can hear a Frenchman laughing his socks off. Go and ask them what a rotten decision they made.
"Other than that, was I one of the ones who had said "we're all doomed" ?"
Specifically no. it is a theme that has been cropping up on this thread which I personally am opposed to.
My recurring theme with the ideas I mentioned is to point out that this apocalyptic view is a product of *economics*, *not* technology.
Economics gave us the sort of closed box thinking that produced "The Limits to Growth" in the 1970's with its apocalyptic vision of the future. BTW does any remember *when* they predicted the date for the planetary FUBAR? I think it was 10-15 years ago.
Economics produced the UK electricity market designed to kill the UK coal industry and make anything but a gas fired gas turbine power station uneconomic.
OTOH Economics will also see the US launch the world's first solar power satellite in 2016.
Economics and markets are the product of human minds. Most energy markets are *highly* regulated (in some ways) and very far from free. If the set of rules in use at present don't give the sort of long term outcomes people want perhaps they should change the market?
"Cambridge's Professor Mackay has a free downloadable book http://www.withouthotair.com/ with lots of numbers in it, highly recommended reading."
BTWThe anaerobic digestion thing came from a report commissioned by Centrica and reported by El reg. they say 50% of current gas demand, but I suggested a much more conservative 25%. Relevant because it would be Carbon *neutral*, use existing infrastructure and operate 24/7. they are obviously talking about digesters located around meat processing plants, fruit and veg markets etc.
IIRC UK Generating capacity is roughly 70GW of which 20-25% is nuclear and most of that is going obsolete. I don't think the UK can avoid building some nuclear stations, but I do think they could turn out to need fewer than they think.
"oil is unlimited as the planet continues to produce it under our feet all the time"
The planet may be continuing to produce oil, it may not, but what happens if the rate it's being used is greater than the rate it's being produced?
Answer: It runs out. It is not unlimited. Numbers matter, as do demonstrable facts. Where are the facts and numbers to support your claim?
The rest is just as poorly thought out too.
"The planet may be continuing to produce oil, it may not, but what happens if the rate it's being used is greater than the rate it's being produced? Answer: It runs out"
Pointless question and answer as nobody knows at what rate or in what quantities Gaia produces oil for us. But if you want to get close to an answer, take all the living organisms that died today, calculate the total amount of mass which would sink through the layers of Earth to form oil, multiply it by 365 for the days of the year, then multiply it by the number of years ever since organic life first appeared on the planet, then subtract the amount of oil used by humanity, then realise that ther rate of oil production should be increasing over time as we have more living and dying species today (in total numbers, not in diversity) than ever before due to industrialisation, domestication and farming.
I await a scientific answer without activist diatribe and vitriol.