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We will NOT find an alternative to energy dense, easily transportable conventional oil in time to sustain indefinate economic growth.

All alternative energies have one or more disadvantages that do not let them compete with cheap conventional oil.

Given our industrial civilization depends on massive amounts of cheap energy, the reliance on conventional oil is enormous.

The only quick solution I see is a drastic downscaling of economic activity.

Topics: energy

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    Feb 11 2013: First of all, we need a solution, but we don't need a quick solution. The oil industry is healthy and can continue on for several decades. Furthermore, I find it sad that your imagination is so limiting - we're presented with a difficult challenge, and your first response is to retreat with a 'drastic downscaling of economic activity.' Is that the best world you can hope for your children to have? Solar energy isn't yet an economic alternative to oil, but it very soon will be. You should also educate yourself on liquid fluoride thorium reactors, a cheaper, safer, far less polluting alternative to conventional nuclear reactors. As we speak, there are other potential alternatives to oil waiting in the wings.

    • Feb 11 2013: I agree that we should start moving to thorium as an energy source. Some of our current reactors can use it, although not as efficiently as a thorium designed reactor.
      The problem with looking at oil as an energy source only, is that it ignores its purpose as a feedstock. We make lots of things out of oil.
      I mean, what will ugly people wear when there is no polyester left???
      The other danger with a longer term solution is our complacency with developing a solution that is not driven by crisis. We just don't
      Another danger is the fluctuating cost of oil as it becomes more difficult to find and refine. A society that relies so heavily on a cheap energy dence power source can become unstable when that power source becomes too expensive. None of us live close enough to farms that we can get our food without a transportation system and farms are heavily mechanized and would have to pass on fuel charges or go out of business.
      I don't see downscaling a viable approach either but a ramping up of research in alternatives using real science (not whatever mental process they used to decide that ethanol was a good idea) is needed and given its long incubation period .... needed quite quickly.
    • Feb 11 2013: A quick solution ensures uninterrupted economic growth. The reason urgent action should be taken is that world conventional oil production has flat lined. Look at where oil companies are tapping new reserves.. tar sands, deepwater, oil shales. There is evidence that the easy to reach fruit has already been picked.

      I would remind you that electricity is not a replacement to oil. Major breakthroughs in batteries must be made for an all electricity economy. The time frame for any viable alternative to be competitive to oil is relatively short.
    • Feb 12 2013: Lawren,
      A downscaling of consumption has benefits you know. I would be happy to see my children live in a world that isn't driven by the need for ever more consumption. I would prefer this change to be voluntary but recognise a good chance it will be market driven.

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