This week’s The Economist June 21st-27th 2008 has the featured section, “The future of energy: It’s closer than you think.” It begins “A fundamental change is coming sooner than you might think.” After a paragraph of general introduction paragraph 2 reads:
Such a failure of imagination has been at the heart of the debate about climate change. The green message-use less energy-is not going to solve the problem unless economic growth stops at the same time. If it does not (and it won’t), any efficiency saving will soon be eaten up by higher consumption per head. Even the hair-shirt option, then, will bring only short-term relief. And when a dire prophecy from environmentalism’s jeremiad looks as if it is coming true, as the price of petroleum rises through the roof and the idea that oil might run out is no longer whispered in corners but openly discussed, there is a temptation to believe that the end of the world is, indeed, nigh.
Well, we should be heartened that this prestigious British news-business magazine even bothers to write about mankind’s dependency on fossil fuel. But, there is a small problem with this lead article in that every sentence is laden with egregious error. 1st sentence – there is no lack of imagination, but a lack of commitment to implementing in a big way what has been proposed, and not very much monetary support for creative new technologies. With the price of oil rising that will change. 2nd The green message isn’t just to be more frugal with what energy we do consume, but limit one-time usage of one-time mined resources, and shift to renewable ones. 3rd The economy will not stop it will shift the deployment of resources, and the contradictory statement that efficiency will be eaten up by consumption. The consumption would have to be of some separate new item which the consumers decided they wanted more than whatever it was they didn’t consume in the first place to create the savings. We must agree that the hair-shirt option will only bring short-term relief, but that brevity of relief isn’t because of their postulated increased consumption of new found leftover resources; it is from increased human population. They never mention excess population growth as that is apparently a forbidden subject for the media with forbidden solutions. If they never look at the real problem there is no hope of ever finding a real solution. The 4th sentence, a waddling paragraph long sentence of obscure guilt, and innuendo that those who were right in their predictions are now somehow to blame for the impending catastrophe.
So, this most prestigious of magazines missed the key issues in a featured section dedicated to the problem. It is this lack of insight even by the informed media which makes the problem of long term, even the medium term, survival of high tech humanity improbable. The problem evolves from too many people consuming too much fossil fuel creating too much CO2, and other pollutants, which cause global warming which shifts the wind, and rain patterns, which bring about droughts in agricultural areas, which brings on famine throughout the world, which precipitates war between major powers, which brings upon humanity the Doomsday events.
The opening sentence was, “A fundamental change is coming sooner than you might think.” but, they seem to think throwing a bunch of as yet unpaid, and un-created, so far, engineers at the problem will bring us new energy sources. They don’t seem to realize that the engineering schools are having trouble attracting students. Except in China and India. Perhaps they will be our saviors. Someone, has to be because these newspapers certainly are not. Perhaps this new technology can be created with fabulous new energy creating sources, but perhaps it can not. The population is still growing, and their demands are growing even faster than the population.
I have no bitter lament or axe to grind, and feel that I am no prophet of Doom, because the facts are plain enough for everyone to see, and the conclusions are simple enough to make — if anyone doesn’t see it is because of willful blindness. If I see where others do not, it is only because I have my eyes open, and if I speak out where others who see do not speak, it is not because I have greater wisdom, or a stronger voice, or a higher platform. I have none of these. I have only this blog, and most people of this planet can now have that for free. This blog is free. And, being free it can’t be sold, and having no economic value it is worthless.
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