Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
DeAnander, don't you believe in competition? That single reply is worth in itself a diary... I'm starting to suspect you just like having the status of undercover frontpager.

The fossil fuel boom is (my view concurring with a school of historical/political thought here) just another one of these stories of looting, in a compressed time period, the accumulated energy discovered "free for the taking".  Whether it be topsoil or petroleum, the initial high burn rate cannot be sustained, and attempts to sustain it hit the walls of thermodynamics very quickly.  This is the final refutation of the infamous doctrine of substitutability:  we can't eat rocks and sand.

I loved that. Particularly your view that time becomes an inextricable element of energy concentration strikes me as astute. You've done geological training? All energy examples you quote are time dependent (and running out), following the great Arrow of Time. Even the sun itself is a by time concentrated energy. If we get down to it: it's nuclear fusion, nuclear fission and heat of cooling/precipitation of the earth's core.

Yet on a philosophical tack, something is nagging me. Amino acids formed with little ease in the earth's earliest atmosphere, and we still don't know where life took off first. The oceanic black smokers are still a favourite for many as the progenitors of life: the smokers bring in hot water (from radio nuclear decay) and nutrients. I could understand that temperature is a boundary condition to form life since an absence of T would hinder chemical processes to make them happen. But what about those nutrients? What happens without them? You could then wonder that in the phase spaces of energy, those nutrients form their own part. So perhaps we could say that (and you touch upon this yourself) that in the nutrients of the earth we also find a source of energy that was parcelled out to "us" when the earth took shape: it is part of the biotic energy. Which can indeed run out as well, since it is just as time dependent as the sun or nuclear decay.

The big challenge then becomes tapping responsibly into that biotic energy and I think you're on the ball when you argue that energy shock waits for us around the corner. As for the sustainability of our current burn rate, I take the optimistic view as developments in nuclear fusion are still progressing forward. I do feel that that Race against Time won't be won before the lacking of oil catches up with our feverish spending rate of energy. I'd predict the use of energy as a boomerang curve: it's high now, it will plummet in the future and depending on how fast and how deep it will drop it will take time to creep back up again. On the condition that the Holy Grail of energy is indeed harnessed. But if all goes well, that's probably the stuff of my grandchildren's children...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:57:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series