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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 23 2013: It's sad, although possibly quite realistic to consider (and not to naively deny) that humanity's adverse impact has already gone too far at this point in history. Besides that being said, we still have an obligation, a responsibility to try and recover what we can, and to remember that have so many solutions and most of the neccesary discoveries have already been made. In terms of energy, we must identify the issue as being one centered on improper implementation (as opposed to an inability to implement) and the obstacle of the colossal inertia of the fossil fuel industry... Lets all remember Nikola Tesla for starters, a largely forgotten genius... The myth is that we don't have the ability and the technology. There is enough evidence out there to show that it is simply being suppressed and hidden.
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      Feb 23 2013: Has humanity really had an adverse impact that is not recoverable? Most of our adverse impacts are self inflected wounds. All humanity has to do is stop beating it's head against the wall so to speak.
      In terms of energy, Are we still beating that dead horse of fossil fuel industry is a fossil ? In the last 15 years, The FF industry has surged in development of bigger and better extraction processes that have increased production and maintained market levels. And rest assured, the if any of the big FF companies could find a better way to produce energy and make a profit, they would be all over it. And yes, it's about profit. Think about it. Why would some one spend millions of dollars to drill for oil, process it through a billion dollar refinery, deliver it to a $250K gas station and you fill your tank for free or even cost.? Why would anyone do that?
      But, let's go farther then. No fossil fuels. No transportation, no electricity. Wait a minute, we light our homes with candles? We ride horses? We heat the house with wood fires? No fire, wood is a fossil fuel. Renewable? Yes, but the smoke is a pollution, climate change....
      So! No, communications, computers, Ipads, cell phones, air conditioning, airplanes, cars. the list is forever.
      That's not going to work, so we can substitute other stuff for fossil fuels. But, at best, other stuff cost twice as much as FF. Yes, sunlight and wind is relatively free but getting it there to your light bulbs is costly.
      So, everyone gives up some electrical or transportation service. Who choses? Politicians? Environmental Scientists? Hidden and suppressed laboratory icons? No, your wallet.
      And that's life. .
      • Feb 24 2013: Thanks for the reply,
        I do agree that a large percent of our activity's impact results in self inflicted wounds, but my point was suggesting that our overall attitude and habits as a global community don't show many (or enough) signs that we will stop "beating our heads against the wall". I'm aware that Earth will end up recovering from whatever we do to it over the time of our existence.
        And I agree as well that, undoubtedly, the energy game is all about profit. I hope that we've had this fact cross our minds as being "potentially" an inherent problem with our energy dilema. I know that way of speaking doesn't settle very well with many, but I believe that competition and profit will always get in the way of any rational decision being made by humanity for the greater good of itself as a whole.
        Maybe the profit system has gotten in the way of our drive for creativity in the energy sector. Most of the alternatives are not being given enough attention and resources by governments and scientists to become competitive, although that shouldn't come as a suprise given the nature of the capitalist game. I guess it depends on where our morals lay and what our priorities consist of. Maybe once they've been thouroughly accessed we'll understand why we haven't come up with an energy alternative that can be made as abundant, economically feasible and easily accessable.
        And, unfortunately, that's life, (for now).
      • Feb 24 2013: Mike, the FF industry has picked the easy to reach fruit and now has to use a ladder (so to speak). Price of a barrel of oil reflect this. There certainly is more oil to produce but the FF industry will have to invest more capital to get it. The result is that oil prices have stayed high.

        We pay the higher price because it would cost even more to change our infrastructure to use some other energy system.
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          Feb 24 2013: Brian,
          You are right on. Cost of production is increasing, but output is all up, the the rise in price will / should not spike unless of political BS (who knows) . Now we have two energy problems, power and transportation. not only the fuels, but the distribution. For ex. we have about 60,000 gas stations in the US and how many LNG or electric charging stations? It took 100 years to get to this number of gas stations. Same story with power distribution. Our national grid is 100 years old and running at about full capacity. A lot of yelling and screaming about "renewable" energy sources, Solar and wind are mostly free, but to get it in electricity is costly. And my favorite is "bio" Right! We use food or land to grow food for fuel. Great. I can fill my tank while I starve to death.
          We got maybe 200 years to get an energy source that can sustain our current ...not economy or the 1% , our civilization. The alternative is a book called the "History of Western Civilization" will become a dusty library reference.

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