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> The energy crisis
Witless
post Feb 25 2012, 05:52 PM
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I posted about this on facebook, but i'll post it here anyway because I suspect it will be discussed for more than a day here.

I personally regard the human race as being in the early times of the first stage of an energy crisis. There's a lot of us in the world, and even is we cut out energy use in half, we'd still have to increase how much we generate if we wanted to give people in the poorer areas of the worlds a better lot in life. With fossil fuels being finite and the population of the world continuing to increase that seems unlikely.

I learnt about how much money it would take to allow everyone in the world to have access to less than half of the average american. The total amount of energy needed for that to become true would be for the human race to generate 30 terawatts of energy per year which is double what we currently generate. So we'd have access to half the amount of energy of the average american but need to double how much we generate.

When looking at all the forms of energy generation we have, we are screwed. They are either finite (fossil fuels) or produce far to little energy to do the job. Even Nuclear fission (the form of energy that produces the most energy that won't run out) falls way too short. We'd need to build a new power station every week for 25 years to produce 5TWs of that 30TWs.

The only thing we have going for us is that we might get nuclear fusion working. If we did then that'd be the human races get out of jail free card since that produces a hell of a lot without polluting the hell out of our planet to do it. We would have gotten our hands on the method used for 99.999999...% of all energy generation of the universe. The human race will have solved the energy problem.

The problem is that it currently hasn't been perfected yet. The world currently spends 1 billion pounds a year on the research effort, that's less than the cost of 7 jet fighter planes. The UK last year spent more money on mobile ring tones than on research and development to trying to get nuclear fusion working. So my hopes are not high that this is going to be figured out in time to save us all from what I believe to be a particularly unpleasant world war 3 when resources run low (That's my prediction for what the countries of the world will do.)

Do you guys think that more needs to be spent on nuclear fusion research or invest more money in technology we know to be working and bite the bullet and just build an obscene amount of it all?

I'd like to believe we can maybe cut down how much energy we need to use. The average american sits at 10KW the worldwide average is 1.7KW and some areas of the world are less than that. That power usage isn't merely electricity. That's includes number of calories used to keep them alive. To even get everyone on 5KW would require a massive amount of extra energy generation. But perhaps maybe you guys think there is other ways of reducing energy usage?

Discuss.

PS. Some info in this post from the documentry I linked above and some here.

PPS there is possibly spelling and grammar errors all over this. I haven't proof read it because I need to go shower. I may come back and fix it when I get the chance. Hopefully it makes sense until then.


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Phantom
post Mar 9 2012, 05:03 PM
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it sure does sounds a bit complicated (the numbers that is for me).
When you write about this, and I read about this I feel rather ignorant and more or less dumb.

But regarding on the subject,

When I read the complete story all I could think of was;
'if we get that energy source, it sure sounds like something we could use for free,
which l'm sure leaders do not want.'
With that initiate thought I continued thinking about how I feel like if we
are able to get such a energy source more powerstruggles will enter the world,
maybe even greater than when we run out of energy.
The WIII thing, I am not sure if it will mostly relate to the lack of fossil fuels
I more recently have the feeling it's going to be another religion thing.
Or more even: because they simply want to play with their nuclear weapons
as little boys on a playground do.

Back to the energy, as you potrai it, and I mention it like this
simply because I did no research about this topic whatsoever,
it sounds like spending more money on the research is simply very necessary.
The fact that they have spend more money on mobile ringtones is probably
because they generate more out of it, and with research projects you simply
have to wait until you have result. Which more naturally makes them less
interesting, even though the end result of this project will help the energy
problems.

We will still cope with the over population and as far as humans normally behave
we probably will always find a way to hurt mother earth.

my wishes still remain the same, those are; yes please to the nuclear fusion.
But when that is accomplished, than please people in charge do not hurt us with
your power and corruption.


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CrazyFooIAintGet...
post Mar 10 2012, 10:34 AM
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I think more money should be invested in science and technology in general but not focus on fusion specifically. Regardless of how much money you throw at it, it's not going to solve our immediate problems.

QUOTE
When looking at all the forms of energy generation we have, we are screwed. They are either finite (fossil fuels) or produce far to little energy to do the job. Even Nuclear fission (the form of energy that produces the most energy that won't run out) falls way too short. We'd need to build a new power station every week for 25 years to produce 5TWs of that 30TWs.
You're conflating two things here though. Bringing the rest of the world up to america's level of energy usage, and then replacing all energy production with renewable sources. This is somewhat ambitious. On the scale of individual countries it's definitely possible to move over to mostly fission power if there is an economic reason for it (e.g. France).

Clearly the UK should place a tax on buying ringtones.


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Witless
post Mar 11 2012, 09:06 PM
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I was considering bringing people up to half the level of an average american. It would take a lot more than 30TW to give everyone America's level of energy consumption. Switching only a few countries over to fission doesn't help much. Considering most of the worlds manufacturing happens in poorer countries of the world and that manufacture is energy intensive we'd still all be in trouble.

Though I suppose I do consider bringing everyone up to a point of having access to resources would be a goal I'd like to see, whether it's done or not.

I know throwing money at things doesn't mean the technology necessarily will work, but if its ever to get anywhere in a decent time frame it needs a lot more from what I have read and watched lately. There simply aren't any other candidates that will help us when those fossil fuels do run out (and they will at some point.)

I like to think on the optimistic side of things (aka not the global war over resources future) where we manage our declining resources situation well and switch over to alternatives in gentle manner. But right now it seems we're just going to go until we run out and THEN work it out. which sounds like a disaster in my book.

London already has power brown outs most summers due to all the air conditioning units we use whenever it gets hot, and we don't even consider ourselves running low.


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alstan
post Jul 13 2012, 11:08 PM
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What is certain in my mind, building loads of stupid wind-turbine 'farms' blighting huge areas of our precious countryside just ain't never going to do it.

In the short term I don't think we have any other option except nuclear - it's just a shame that instead of building our own power stations we have to get the French and the Germans to do it for us- but not unsurprising, considering we (as a country) don't bother to support our engineering/manufacturing base any more.

This country has also still got plenty of coal...but that would also mean supporting miners...with a Tory led government ... ?


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Mata
post Jul 18 2012, 09:48 PM
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I am beginning to think that the most useful techinque would be a really good plague or possibly putting contraceptives in the water supply (at least in the big cities). We can't sustain this level of growth and something is going to have to give in the end.


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Hobbes
post Jul 22 2012, 11:05 AM
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This is the kind of problem that I think about and just go: "Errr".

That's not an "Err" of apathy, I must stress. It translates as something like: "This problem is huge and appears insurmountable. I can't begin to even fathom a solution."

I watched a video recently of a small wood-burner that has a power outlet; harnessing - I presume - the heat energy in order to provide electricity. The good-intentions of the product being that people could use it on those areas of the world that are without electricity. Obviously it's output is relatively small, but provides something at least.

This isn't a solution at all to the big problem though. We already know that burning stuff to get power isn't exactly friendly to the environment, ozone layer, etc. But it's a neat little idea for providing electricity on a very small scale.

I still remember reading about a guy who rigged a dynamo up to the wheel in his hamster's cage, using it to charge his mobile phone. I think the key point about the story was that the guy had failed his science exams, and so irony was being implied. But since then I've always wished I had some decent knowledge of electronics/electrics to try something like that.

..

None of that really answers the original 'question' though. Probably cause I don't know the answer.



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