Ken Deffeyes on Brisbane Radio

For those who don’t know of him, Ken Deffeyes is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University and the author of many books and articles on Peak Oil. With the Aussies panicking as much as us Kiwis about the rocketing price of petrol, Brisbane’s Radio 4BC rang him up and asked him what was going on.

The 11 minute interview can be found here.

My favourite quote of Ken’s is:

“The economists all think that if you show up at the cashier’s cage with enough currency, God will put more oil in ground.”

Hat Tip: Big Gav from PeakEnergy and The Oil Drum

48 Comments Posted

  1. Gerrit wrote:
    “New geothermal power station at Kawerau has opened to little fanfare.

    Would have thought that the Greens would hold that up as a shining light to future electric power generation from a renewable source that will provide theelectricity to power all the trains, cars, trucks and busses we need for transport options.”

    How sure are you that this station has actually started generating power? There isn’t anything to that effect on Mighty River Power’s web site. It was scheduled for completion late 2008:

    http://www.mightyriver.co.nz/Generation/News/LatestNews/Detail.aspx?id=1059

    Another news item said it was months ahead of schedule, so I believe it is now due for completion in August.

    Here is a summary of some of the geothermal possibilities:
    http://www.contrafedpublishing.co.nz/Energy+NZ/Renewable+power+247.html

    Trevor.

  2. Geothermal energy is as close to infinite as anything needs to be to meet mankinds energy needs. Unfortunately like oil you need to drill rather a long way down to get the really good stuff for generating electricity. If you just want to heat your home you get all you need from right under your driveway, especially if you’ve already got a heat pump to do the extracting.

  3. Yes, the water in goethermal is pumped back into the ground.

    Unfortunately, geothermal energy is not infinite, or it would be a wickedly good source of energy. But we have some, and so lets make use of it.

  4. Intotall agreement with you Turnip28.

    To much social engineering, not enough constructive and positive environmental policies.

    Problem with putting policy out there for the greens is that it needs costing for it to be serious and as such requires an alternative budget.

    Fo people to buy into the Green’s environmental poliies such as carbon taxation, people need to see where the carbon tax is going to be spent, and how that will improve their lives.

    So it needs to be a three pronged approach, identify the best alternative energy creating scheme, engineer it to suit all our needs, marketing the gains to be made to the people.

    Simple.

    Just a question on an idea tumbling through my mind. Does a geothermal electricity generating station like Wairakei, pump cold water back into the earth to be “harvested” again as steam?

    Sort of like a perpetual motion machine where the water is endlessly recycled from steam back to steam.

    Would the energy required to pump the water back underground be less then the amount generated? I guess someone would have done the maths on that.

    New geothermal power station at Kawerau has opened to little fanfare.

    Would have thought that the Greens would hold that up as a shining light to future electric power generation from a renewable source that will provide theelectricity to power all the trains, cars, trucks and busses we need for transport options.

  5. Which begs the question why the Greens keep enabling Labour, but can’t get their heads around enabling National…

    Kick the reds, get green, and get blue….

  6. You mean No RIGHT Turn…

    Could’ve been the greens wanted a bigger subsidy in the first place but Labour didn’t?

  7. BTW: I see the Nats have a solar scheme that might actually work, as opposed to the Green initiative, which had zero takeup nationwide (includes Green Party members).

    Labour have nicked it, of course…

    From noleftturn:

    “the government has stolen National’s solar policy. This isn’t surprising – the current policy offered too little money and was too much hassle, so it was in for a major shakeup; National’s proposal to double the size of the grant and simplify applications was a good idea, and an obvious one at that (the government’s contribution has been to shift the paperwork onto the home owner and give them cash in hand, thus solving the split incentive problem of installers having no reason to fill out forms so their customer gets a discount).”

  8. Turnip hear, hear.

    Although I fear you’ll be banging your head against a brick wall trying to get Marxists to focus on the environment….

  9. I agree with Big Gav in that solar isn’t a good fit for our energy requirements. Our demand peaks in winter. Solar power peaks in summer. We have limited storage. While some solar should be added where the cost to do so is low (existing suitable infrastructure) or the benefits high (isolated islands running diesel generator sets), for the bulk of our new power generation we need either steady generation (geothermal and tidal come to mind) or generation that peaks in winter (wind and wave).

    Trevor.

    PS: BJ’s comments didn’t offend me, but then I am another engineer.

  10. I am also an engineer and i also joined the green party because I wanted a party that is serious about global climate change and the end of cheap oil.

    The green party seems to be more interested in Socialism and Tino rangatiratanga which is not good since all the wanabe Trotsky’s aren’t going to be able to sit around and debate the virtues of socialism if their isn’t anywhere to sit.

    Right now the green party needs to start acting and start producing real policy. This policy needs to deal with the issues we face and not the philosophies of the past. Who cares if you are red or blue who cares about left or right, siting around arguing who’s philosphy is better doesn’t achieve anything. I have yet to read a comprehensive peice of policy from the green party that addresses the two issues of climate change and peak oil.

    The green party needs to wake the hell up, every piece of policy put out by the party refers to Tino Rangatiratanga and Social Justice and Social responsibility. Instead every piece of policy needs to refer to climate change and peak oil. If we develop a housing policy then it should talk about peak oil and climate change, if we develop economic policy then it should talk about peak oil and climate change, if we develop a transport policy then it should talk about peak oil and climate change. The core policy of the party needs to be peak oil and climate change since these are going to have the biggest impact on us. The socialist writings of Marx and the Maori view of Tino Rangatiratanga are going to have a limited impact on each of us in the near future and unless we deal with the two gigantic elephants sitting in our living room, then there wont be a future in which to debate these ideologies. In short can all the social scientists get the F***k out of the way and let the engineers save New Zealand.

    There you go BJ now i’ve also offended a lot of people on the board too.

    Turnip

  11. The “Garden of Eden” thing is a FABLE… and one could (and I do) regard it as a bid by the religious to keep their flock ignorant and thus pliable.

    Some of us are Atheists. Some of us are Engineers with a science background. Some of us worked for NASA. Some of us spent years at sea… so SOME of us don’t care for ignorance and regard it as a problem. Ignorance kills. Ignorance is the problem. Ignorance and religion are not the same thing. They are often, but not necessarily found together.

    It was human intelligence (that God didn’t want us to have) that…

    This is an example of what can be wrong with religion… If God didn’t want me to be intelligent I would, by God, be a Republican. The Gods most people worship have the manners of a spoiled child and the morality of a Barracuda.

    I know that I can’t teach the horse to sing. That’s for the society to work out, social scientists and politicians to agree on and they don’t. I try to negotiate the best deal I can with Mother Nature… and hope that she spares my children the worst of the hiding that is coming.

    Our species has done well… on the back of the ephemeral accessibility of extremely cheap (in historical terms) energy. I don’t think that that will continue for even another decade and I don’t think the result will be all that comfortable for civilization. ( Population overshoot isn’t a matter of being “too smart”… it is a perfectly natural and common phenomena for all species )

    That makes cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels, our downfall. The problem isn’t that we’re smart, it is that we are not able to act collectively.

    The planet won’t sustain even 6 billion of us at the sort of energy consumption rate that the average person in the US enjoys, halve that rate and it might manage half the number on our current tech base.

    My view is probably as pessimistic as they come, but my approach doesn’t include throwing up my hands and doing nothing or taking shelter in superstition… . I’m an engineer… my job is to build civilization and to support its survival.

    One doesn’t do that by telling everyone to go scratch a living out of the mud by hand. I’m a “Green” because the party is the only game in town if you’re serious about warming as a problem. The socialist hair-shirt tendencies of the party are however, as un-helpful as anything in the climate denial camp. .

    … now that I have offended EVERYONE on the board, I can go back to work. 🙂

    respectfully
    BJ

  12. Going back to the thing about God (I’m not religous, but just thought I’d throw this in for argument sake).
    Didn’t God also tell Adam & Eve not to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden?
    And when they did, their eyes were opened. They became self aware (intellegent). God then told them that they would suffer for what they did.

    It was human intellegence (that God didn’t want us to have) that got us into this situation in the first place, so why are some people so sure that human intellegence will get us out of the situation?

    Human intellegence has enabled us to cheat natural selection, and grow beyond our natural boundaries.
    As far as I can see, human intellegence is our greatest downfall, not our greatest asset. And for every problem that it solves, it just makes another worse or creates an entirely new problem.

  13. Kevyn, I think they are getting around that issue in…Israel, and maybe California. I don’t know how, they’re just doing it.

  14. Kevyn- that’s because there were plenty of unclaimed resources and energy in the time of the romans. Really, there have been very few times in history we have faced similar challenges to peak oil, where a resource we were so dependent on has become scarce, and each time people have solved the issue by… finding more supply (which will only really slow down the problem in this case due to our massive demand) or finding an alternative.

    And none of the current alternatives are anywhere near as cheap as oil. So it looks like expensive energy is going to be the new norm. That has some economic issues of its own.

    What’s really worrying is that there’s no real good theory on how to handle the massive transition between instructures that’s going to be involved. Switching all the oil power, every petrol station, every car, train, bus, tractor, truck, and so on all over to a new system is going to have pretty big costs.

    That’s even leaving out interoperability concerns- some alternative fuel systems like hydrogen burning could potentially suffer from a “neither-chicken-nor-egg” scenario where fuel companies won’t carry it because cars aren’t using it because fuel companies won’t carry it, and so on.

  15. @frog:
    Is there somewhere where we can see the cost benefit analysis for phasing out fossil fuelled power stations, so we can get an idea where that 90% target came from? If so, where should we comment on it?

    Personally I believe that the 90% target is only a practical upper limit if the problem of generation is taken in isolation. If you add demand-side management and encourage the use of electricity at times when there is a surplus at a reasonable (rather than ridiculously cheap) price, then there is justification for building the extra renewable generation required to meet the demand when generation from renewables is down. Also storage systems can make it more economical to meet the demand by averaging out both supply and demand, and avoiding some of the waste of surplus generation. Here is one pumped storage proposal using water from the Clutha river to provide 12,000GWHours of storage:
    http://www.med.govt.nz/upload/46519/98.pdf

    Trevor.

  16. dbuckley, Energy constraints didn’t stop the Roman’s from aggressively marketing their indoor plumbing throughout the known world. 😉

  17. Gerrit their is finite energy in the universe but the universe can expand in every direction infinitely. Of course most of the universe is nothing.

    We can’t really see anything in space, space is a time machine when you look at the stars you are viewing the past which means you can’t see the edge or even see space really. Right now nobody on earth knows what the universe looks like in the present as they can’t see it.

    We don’t need infinite memory its simply a theory on which computer science can be based. Theoretical computer science doesn’t need a computer it simple needs a human brain to imagine a turing machine upon which to develop a theory but anything found to be limited within this imaginative world will also be limited in the real world. In fact any classes at university to do with theoretical computer science wont touch a computer as there really isn’t a need for one.

    Your last line is very important we must always solve the problems of tomorrow with the science and engineering that we have today.
    However we have people in the NZ parliment like Rodney Hide and John Key who would stand in front of a freight train and wouldn’t move instead they would tell you “don’t worry by the time the train hits us scientists will have invented a force field to repell the train.”

  18. I’m not sure thin film solar (as per the Nanosolar comments above) is the best way to go for NZ (though if you can get hold of some and use it on your house then good luck to you).

    In the right locations (NZ admittedly not being one of them) CSP is the best way to go – with an EROI in the 20-45 range – not as good as Iraqi oil, but still pretty good.

    On your side of the ditch the best options would seem to be:

    – wind
    – more geothermal
    – maybe more hydro if there are any suitable sites left
    – biogas
    – ocean energy (wave and tidal)

    If you develop enough of these and electrify your transport system then you’ll be fine – oil isn’t necessary to run an advanced economy…

  19. turnip, I hear what you are saying.

    But you say that the universe is finite. Which by definition means the there are boundaries. Wonder where they are? And more importantly what lies beyond the finite universe? Wonder if the Hubble telescope can see that far.

    Why do we need infinite memory in a computer? Lets use what we have to engineer solutions in the here and now.

  20. Gerrit a turing machine requires an infinite memory which is impossible in a finite universe. You use an approximation of a turning machine every day its called a computer. Computer science places limits on what that machine can and can’t do. Then engineering places further limits.

    You see science gives us a theory which defines the upper limit.
    We then engineer from this theory a solution which usually doesn’t arrive at the upper limit what we call a theoritical limit. We then improve on our engineering until we get closer and closer to what the theory has defined as an upper limit.

    You see this concept over and over again from the combustion engine to fuel cells etc.

    You can say there are no limits Gerrit you are allowed to but it doesn’t change the fact that their are. I can say the earth is flat as well but it doesn’t make it so.

    There is no scientific theory that says we can’t walk on water in fact their is scientific theory that tells you why you will sink but since you now know this you can engineer a solution to solve it.

    Space thats still a long way away breaking through the gravity well will require vast amounts of energy.

    That is a rather large hurdle which we will have to jump. Don’t get confused by the apollo program sending a few humans to the moon was a giant leap for humanity but sending humans into space to colonize is enormous. Gravity is a big hurdle to overcome. However you certainly can’t base a population policy on the notion that we will simply go into space.

    As of yet the human race has no right to be in space. How would you feel if I polluted my house used up all its resources and then decided to come over to your house. Until we can learn to live in a sustainable way here on earth space is not an option. Note we will require sustainablity science learn’t here on earth in any space colonies since waste in space is not a good idea. You will want to maximize the outputs of every system in your space colony waste equals lost energy from the system.

    Don’t get me wrong space does need to be a goal for humanity as we can be wiped out by an asteroid and their is nothing we can do about it apart from be aware of it. Which makes us more stupid than the dinosaurs they didn’t see there’s coming we probably will.

    My personal vision for humanity is that one day we leave the earth all of us and let someother life form try and succeed. You know the baby bird has to leave the nest one day.

    Which is why i’d vote for NZ keeping most of its oil in the ground building up our sustainabilty technology and then using our oil to give us an energy boost to get the NZ people into space.

    Of course that wont happen as we will sell it so people can stick it in their cars and burn it.

  21. @Gerrit “Physical restriction such as gravity are overcome on a daily basis by hopping in an aeroplne, lift, or simply climbing stairs (BJ LTA ship is another example). We build the infastructure to let us beat gravity.

    More accurately, we employ energy to overcome restrictions such as gravity.

    Which is fine, unless you are in an energy constrained or expensive environment. If we couldn’t have harnessed energy, we couldn’t have done any of those things you list…

  22. I run linux on my laptop (Ubuntu). I find it easier to follow than windows which has a lot of automaton instructions in its help section…(ie) all the help is clearly and simply communicated.

  23. bjchip Says:
    May 24th, 2008 at 4:03 pm
    I remain “grim? about the future.
    ………..
    Me too. I know a lot of people (especially women) who depend directly and indirectly on tourism and who have no family here and are living in a sort of nowhere urban landscape.

  24. I support all of your proposals BJ. Some of which I’ve included in a business proposal that I’m developing.

    1. A photovoltaic plant to produce the nanosolar panels here.
    I know someone who has contacts at NanoSolar
    2. Retire all our fossil fuel plants within the next 20 years
    Lots of rhetoric on that one, but not much action unfortunately
    3. An electric/air/fuel-cell powered basic vehicle produced here…
    Easily possible if the car bodies are made from polymer composites rather than metals. No need for expensive tool-steel dies (USD$1m each), no need for pounding, welding, and finishing the bodies. Amory Lovins claims that tool cost could be cut by up to 90%.
    http://www.natcap.org/images/other/NCchapter2.pdf
    Hemp Tech are doing a research programme for developing composities out of um. hemp
    http://www.hemptech.co.nz/colour_textiles.html
    Scion in Rotorua also have an extensive programme looking into bio-materials
    http://www.scionresearch.com/about+biomaterials+engineering.aspx
    http://www.osgv.org/nfphpbb/index.php
    4. Electrification of rail.
    5. Alternate routes.
    ?
    6. Coastal shipping arrangements.
    Doesn’t coastal shipping compete with rail?
    7. Design of purpose built wind-assisted ships.
    The New Zealand ship building industry is perfectly placed for that
    8. Bio-Diesel development for things that need the energy density
    Hopefully thats included in the budget for the Fasttrack Agricultural Industry Funding
    9. Insulation and double glazing of every house in NZ.
    The place I’m staying at in Christchurch certainly needs it brrrrr.
    10. LTA transport link from Auckland to Australia…
    I love airships! They’re sooo cool.

  25. I raised the question of what should we be doing last month:
    http://blog.greens.org.nz/index.php/2008/04/19/oil-touches-us-117-a-barrel/
    when oil was > $15 cheaper 🙁

    I would add wave power and tidal flow power to BJ’s list, and keep an eye on Pressure Retarded Osmosis (power generation from fresh water entering the sea). Of course this could be regarded as part of #2 (retiring fossil fuel power stations), as would increasing our geothermal capacity.

    Of course it might not be necessary to retire the fossil fuel stations – converting them to biomass achieves the same advantages. This would allow us to keep some dry-year backup.

    Trevor.

    .

  26. BJ,

    Been away from having to make IT line decisions for a while so not up to speed with how far Linux has got. When the company I worked for did the evaluation for what system to go with, the servicing aspect was a major (as it would be for most medium and small copanies) consideration. Thinks may well have changed. Can well remeber the hassles even with the Microsoft server software, office software licencing, the Clear routers not talking to Telecom lines etc. Not to mention the dreaded Norton anti-virus software. So hopefully things have improved for the better.

    I’m so against visual polution (HT transmission towers in particular) I dont like wind turbines dotted on the foreshore or on windy ridges. They are butt ugly. Hence the preference offshore and underwater. Understand the technical difficulties.

    Visual polution of our vista rates bearly a mention in the Greens anti pollution campaigne but every time I see a marine farm for instnance I gag. How ugly!

    Sorry turnip you and I will have to disagree. There are no limits. Only those you put on yourelf.

    Need more space for people. No limit at all. We havent even colonised the 3/4 of the earth underwater. Nor BJ favourite, outer space. See the limit is in your imagination.

    What is a Turing Machine and what benefit to man kind will it bring?

    Physical restriction such as gravity are overcome on a daily basis by hopping in an aeroplne, lift, or simply climbing stairs (BJ LTA ship is another example). We build the infastructure to let us beat gravity.

    Want to beat natural law that says people cant walk on water? Easy, built a bridge.

    I think you are getting theoritical science mixed up with real science.

    Maybe we should say engineering instead of calling it science.

    But with Cullen having left the cupboard bare with this election, it is not the engineering that is the problem but the money. Sometime soon we are going to have to borrow 100billion to put in place the infastructure required in an oiless world.

    Talking of an oilless world. Carbon fibre, so needed for wind turbines is an oil derivative (Nylon incinarated at high temperatures). we should set the scientist on finding a worthwhile replacement (hemp?).

    Not inventing excuses why a Turing machine will not work. Priorities turnips. Lets do what is important.

  27. Unfortunately, the near term future for a certain fossil fuel, namely coal, is fantastically bright. Thermal power plants will be with us for a good while yet.

    I think everyone understands the laws of physics well enough to understand that we cannot create (or destroy) energy, we can only convert it from one form to another, and generally with efficiency losses coming out as heat.

    Because we can’t make energy, we are stuck with the energy we can find or capture. Ultimately, all the energy we have available to us is solar based, oil and coal being no more than stored solar energy.

    I can’t see how the widening gap between oil production being static and oil demand increasing can be bridged. Effectively, we need to reduce world demand for oil to be just less than supply, and it is (spikes in production excluded) looking like the downward slope is more or less here. Already oil product is too expensive for some countries, and the list of those countries has just begun to be written. But the list will get longer with time…

  28. Gerrit science is bound by limits.
    Since science is the observation and understanding of the universe and the universe is bound by limits it follows that science can and is bound by these same limits.

    In my field of computer science we have a whole set of problems which are all undecidable and show us a limit to what we can and can’t do with a Turing machine, a modern computer is an aproximation of a Turing. You can’t build a Turing machine since the limits of the universe don’t allow it).
    The most famous of these is the Halting Problem which has been proven to not be solvable on a Turing machine.

    I don’t have to explain were the energy is coming from to powere the train since the train may not exist. This is not a light bulb switching exercise, we are not replacing fosil fuels with renewable energy. We are reducing our energy consumption until we reach a balanced state.

    I suspose a better way to view it is to understand that to support you on this planet Gerrit you require a fixed area of land, from this land comes all the energy you use in a life time.

    If you calculate this land area and then multiple it by the number of people on the earth it needs to be significantly less than the surface area of the earth. Human’s share the earth so we can’t use all the land and also not all the land is useful for extracting energy. Until this land area is sustainable humans will need to die until we reach a balanced sustainable state.

    Note I don’t like the word carbon footprint and think people should talk about land footprint. Since I could have a low carbon footprint but still have a large unsustainable land footprint.

  29. From a purely commercial point of view, as IT manager would you go with an Open Source Software option where you have to take a risk that the system that someone like yourself would install, could be serviced by another when you retire?

    In every shop I visit these days, the tech base is solidly competent in linux. They can and do manage their machines from a linux base, and there is no shortage of support if you feel the urge to actually pay for it.

    The only impediment is the marketing. There’s plenty and more of people capable of servicing the products.. most likely on staff already. My understanding is that you have a top-end cad system which requires MS. I’d keep THAT behind the air-gap and give everyone linux for their external facing work… including Word Processing on OpenOffice . Set up some strict rules about the transfer of executables.

    Which is to say, yes, I would be comfortable. We use Open Source and sell it into some very big shops quite regularly.

    #############

    No scientist I know will question the basics. The laws of Thermodynamics do not excite curiousity. When someone claims to have managed to break one, the real scientists simply try to determine if he’s a fraud or a fool.

    I’m less enthused about the offshore options simply because I know how destructive the marine environment is of things that aren’t fish. “Rust never sleeps” isn’t just an album (who did that one?) . I’ve seen all sorts of proposals to create additional hazards to navigation… free floating automated factory ships to alter the planet’s albedo was one that stuck in my mind.

    The only reason people want to go offshore, which will be IMHO about 2x more expensive than the top of the ridgeline at BEST, is because they think that changing the view is bad and wind turbines are ugly. In 30 years their kids will see any such device as an icon of civilization and as beautiful as anything that Pininfarina every created. The values people have today are predicated on what they (think they) can afford.

    If some fraction of civilization survives the next 3-500 years of change the final answer has to be getting off the planet. Satellite Solar Power, Satellite based control of climate, Methane scoopships going to the gas giants and life outside the gravity wells. That’s where the human future must aim. If someone were going in that direction it would be good, but first we have to endure the cure to the overshoot we find our planetary population in now.

    The chances of cataclysmic change are fast approaching unity. After the change there will be a greatly chastened and somewhat saner social and economic milieu… or we’re all dead. My aim is to try to preserve what knowledge and capability as can be preserved.

    respectfully
    BJ

  30. I was watching a video of a presentation given by Shawn Frayne, inventor of the Humdinger Windbelt. His discription of the process he went through to develop the windbelt lends weight to Gerrit’s optimism for the future. There is a link to the video here:
    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Humdinger_Windbelt

    I also found this site a good place to search for positive news about hybrid developments. Search for phrases like hybrid locomotive, hybrid excavator, etc.
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/

  31. Turnip,

    Science, but more importantly the scientist do not have limits. Put a limit iin front of a genuine scientist and I’m sure to a person they would explore that limit. You are misunderstanding the difference beween science and the laws of nature (newtons laws of motion?)

    You are right the universe does not care an iota of what I believe. I think you missed the point I was trying to make. Frog and BJ seem to have got it OK.

    Totally agree with your list BJ. My personal interest is the wind powered shipping, being in the business. All the others are achieveable in our lifetime, what we need is funding for research, development + most importantly construction.

    Can get the funding out of carbon emmision taxing. But dont send those taxes overseas. Use them here to develop all those strategies you have outlined.

    Thast has been my anti Kyoto gripe all along. Not the climate change (allthought the tide line has not risen at the boat ramp) nor emmision taxing.

    So turnip you suggest where the electricity will be generated for the electric trains and cars we need for the future.

    My idea all along has been offshore wind farms and tidal flow underwater turbines.

    What we need though is the capital. Well Cullen has cleaned out the cupboard with this budget, so where will the funds come from?

    Thanks for sticking up for me BJ. We agree on many topics but probaly from slightly different angles.

    Off topic, but a follow on from the computer operating system discussion. Many companies would stick with Microsoft simply because the number of technical staff available to sevice the Microsoft products. From a purely commercial point of view, as IT manager would you go with an Open Source Software option where you have to take a risk that the system that someone like yourself would install, could be serviced by another when you retire?

    That commercial reason alone could well be why they might stick with Microsoft.

  32. One other thing for the rest of you to think on. Gerrit isn’t one of the bad guys and he didn’t say X isn’t happening or Y will definitely happen. He asked a valid question… what would WE do about it if we had the votes to make stuff happen instead of wishing for it.

    That IS a fair question. Particularly given the automatic opposition to all hydropower that seems to be built into some of the party faithful. 🙁

    You don’t win elections by simply arguing that people should vote against stuff… you win by giving people something to hope for.

    respectfully
    BJ

  33. LTA stands for Lighter-Than-Air… not useful much around mountains which is why it has to go to the North of the North Island, but about 10x faster than a ship but with similar economies of fuel use and the ability to drop cargo in convenient places if required.

    Frog… it wasn’t like I thought real hard about that list 🙂 … we have some natural gas resources… but I suspect that at the prices we’re going to be seeing for the fuel, the exponential price curve will be pushing that exponential cost curve to lesser relevance.

    respectfully
    BJ

  34. BJ – While I wholeheartedly agree that having a NanoSolar factory here would be a good thing, I think phasing out all fossil fuel within 20 years is too ambitious. I have seen the cost benefit analysis of the 90% renewable target and I couldn’t support a higher target without some significant breakthrough happening, which I’ve already indicated I don’t think is coming for a long, long, time. the cost curve goes exponential very soon after 90%. Once we have calculated just how much our natural sinks can handle, a bit of fossil fuel shouldn’t be a threat. It is the abuse of this privilege that must stop.

  35. samiam – Nandor’s Waste Minimisation Bill aims to do just that – make it more dear to throw things away than to recycle. Not very popular with business here, but it is very successful in Germany.

  36. Further Gerrit what you beleive in is irrellevent the universe doesn’t care what you believe in.

    If you went around believing that the law of gravity didn’t apply to you and then decided to leap off the empire states building, you would fall to your death and make a mess on the street below. You see the universe didn’t care about your belief.

  37. I couldn’t agree more BJ a very nice list.

    Gerrit science has limits and I think you don’t understand this. You seem to be treating science as a religion since you are putting faith into it rather than reason.

    BJ, Frog, myself and many others have not used faith or wishful thinking we have used reason when thinking about these problems.

    I may sound pessimistic but I am not when it comes to NZ as I beleive NZ should be fine but we would be even better if we started doing more.

    Note I just thought of something are we building our wind turbines in NZ or are we purchasing them from overseas in bits and assembling them on site. I say this because you aren’t energy independent if the construction plant manufacturing the parts along with the manufacturing knowledge is located in another country. We don’t just need to be using renewable energy we need to be energy independent as well. Also do we have the abilitiy to manufacture solar panels. Actually what can we manufacture in NZ since haven’t we moved our manufacturing base out of the country.

    3 things a country needs to survive:
    1 Food independence
    2 Energy independence
    3 Manufacturing independence

  38. Gerrit

    The most favorable development I have seen to date is this:

    http://www.celsias.com/2007/11/23/nanosolars-breakthrough-technology-solar-now-cheaper-than-coal/

    Which has been mentioned here before.

    Other changes will doubtless occur but I am (as otherwhere noted) extraordinarily grim in my assessment of our probable future.

    We have to replace an enormous amount of infrastructure in a vanishingly short period of time. We have to alter attitudes to allow the money to flow from the pockets of the currently well-to-do to the investment in infrastructure changes.

    On a global scale.

    It will not happen. Not with the current thick-headed breed of homo-saps running things. Scientists tend to be defeatist now because we see what progress has not been made and we know who is behind the barricades.

    We know that ultimately the fools behind the barricades will die … but they are intent on taking every living thing on the planet with them. All in the name of their “rights”. I would tell them to go to hell, except, and this is the disadvantage of atheism, I don’t have one of those available, and I reckon that one WILL become available for all of us all too soon.

    How to move forward? Not the Green Party line, but my own:

    1. A photovoltaic plant to produce the nanosolar panels here.
    2. Retire all our fossil fuel plants within the next 20 years
    3. An electric/air/fuel-cell powered basic vehicle produced here…
    4. Electrification of rail.
    5. Alternate routes.
    6. Coastal shipping arrangements.
    7. Design of purpose built wind-assisted ships.
    8. Bio-Diesel development for things that need the energy density
    9. Insulation and double glazing of every house in NZ.
    10. LTA transport link from Auckland to Australia…

    Self-sufficiency.

    There’s more but that’s the first 10 that came to mind. The Green party aligns fairly well with my views on some things, but doesn’t follow the logic required by some of the others.

    I remain “grim” about the future.

    It doesn’t seem to affect my cheerful disposition or sense-of-humour… but I do not have much time for people who think that science will rescue us.

    The parts of that list above which might favorably affect the survival of the poor of China, India, Africa or Brazil are pretty small. The transition required is pretty large. The trouble we are in is enormous.

    respectfully
    BJ

  39. Gerrit – I am a died in the wool optimist, but even I know that technology cannot replace the miraculous Energy Return on Investment (EROI) that oil has given us, at least not any time soon. Millions of years of sunlight squashed into a portable, energy dense liquid. It took nature millenia to create it and I have very grave doubts that mankind is going to find a replacement in the near future, particularly because mankind is in total denial that the end of cheap easy oil is upon us. Sure, mankind will some day find another cheap and abundant fuel source with a seemingly miraculous EROI, but not before we have the cornucopian delusions knocked out of us by a serious economic upset and population correction.

    I have great faith in humanity’s creative genius, but not in humanity’s hubris. The real genius for humanity right now would be to re-learn how to live within our natural energy budget. The innovations that such an learning/research enterprise would bring would be staggering and I welcome the revolution.

  40. God may not have put more oil in the ground.

    But he sure as heck put brains into mankinds head to come up with alternatives.

    That is if you believe in a God.

    I believe in mankind to come up with beter scenatios then the defeatist talk these scientist.

    Where is looking for better alternatives rather then looking at the past?

    Reminds me of the saying “Walking backwards into the future.”

    How about a possitive outlook for a change, frog?

    Sure, kite assisted shipping is not going to cut the mustard, but plenty of alternatives are out there.

    Keen to focus on a few?

    What is the Green Party vision of the future? How will it be achieved?

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