HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Environment & Energy » Environment & Energy (Group) » Does Humanity Have a Deat...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:10 PM

 

Does Humanity Have a Death Wish? (Question Everything)

http://questioneverything.typepad.com/question_everything/2012/11/does-humanity-have-a-death-wish.html

That season is upon us when we gorge ourselves with feasts and try to outdo one another with gift giving. This coming Thursday thousands of ‘shoppers’/‘consumers’ will camp out overnight to be first in line for real bargains in what has become known as “Black Friday”, meaning retailers hope to get into the black ink on their books by this ritual of acquiring more mostly useless stuff. There is a sad irony about this. What, on the surface, seems a burst of finding happiness following the American way of life, is, in fact, simply accelerating the consumption of now precious resources in a frenetic gasp to preserve our God-given right to hedonic pleasure.

---snip---

This season the happy news is that we are awash in oil and natural gas. And by 2025 or so America will be energy independent. That is cause for joy. Except that when you actually do the numbers you find that the cost in energy to get all of this non-conventional fuel is substantially higher than generally acknowledged. Another great irony is that we probably will be energy independent but only because the current supposed glut will evaporate and drive prices (in dollars) sky high so that demand will drop precipitously. Ergo we will buy quite a lot less fuel, and only for absolutely essential (cost is no object) needs. Ah well, economists who know how to interpret a conventional balance sheet and income statement have not yet realized that the same kind of accounting process that produced those instruments should be used on energy units so you could see that we are no longer in the black in energy terms. Indeed our energy costs are rapidly approaching our gross energy gains (e.g. the recent supposed increase in oil and gas extractions). It turns out that fracking and extracting tar sands oil takes considerable energy. Moreover the production dynamics of fracked wells, both gas and oil, are such that they tend to produce higher volumes than conventional wells, at first. And then the volumes fall much more rapidly with a total volume often less than the presumed recoverable reserves numbers suggested. The glut of gas, for instance, has led to a lower price on the market. But how much of that glut is due to the early rapid production curves wherein the growth in drilling has been in hydrofracking plays (shale). Even now operators are shutting down wells and not increasing their activities in new drilling. Why? Could it be that they are already discovering that the marginal costs are greater than the marginal revenues? Could profits be falling or at least not growing? Only those companies will know from the impact it will ultimately create on their standard accounting books. Meanwhile they will do whatever they can to keep up appearances and preserve their cash flows. So the real news here isn't really happy after all.


much more at the link

10 replies, 911 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply Does Humanity Have a Death Wish? (Question Everything) (Original post)
Speck Tater Nov 2012 OP
NoOneMan Nov 2012 #1
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #2
AldoLeopold Nov 2012 #4
AverageJoe90 Nov 2012 #7
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #8
AverageJoe90 Nov 2012 #9
Fumesucker Nov 2012 #3
phantom power Nov 2012 #5
GliderGuider Nov 2012 #6
pscot Nov 2012 #10

Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:46 PM

1. A death wish would require sapience, would it not

 



Rather, I think infinite, exponential civilization has infinite, exponential momentum. You can not shout down momentum of this nature; it rolls forward without thinking.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NoOneMan (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:14 PM

2. "It rolls forward without thinking"

Until it hits a bump, or perhaps a hill in its fitness landscape that's too high for it to climb...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NoOneMan (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:23 PM

4. Couldn't agree more

Just as a philosophical hypothesis, it may be possible that there are other types of sentience "out there" that are quite different than our own. Out of the millions or maybe billions of sentient species that could exist, perhaps ours is the type that habitually exceeds its carrying cap (in our case because of petroleum) and dies out - destroying its habitat in the process.

Perhaps another type of sentience would eliminate by various mechanisms this tendency for exponential momentum (a good term).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to AldoLeopold (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:53 PM

7. Humanity wouldn't die out entirely because of C.C. alone, though.

Amongst the things it'd be useful to keep in mind is that humanity has lived thru disasters that are at least on the scale of, if not perhaps worse than, the possible worst-case AGW scenario. If you've ever heard of Toba, this Indonesian supervolcano was primarily responsible for a major bottleneck that occurred 72k years ago, and reduced us from quite a few (~20?) million, to only about 100,000 or so. While it doesn't appear that too much damage was caused to too many other creatures(which is nothing short of a miracle if current research is proven correct, especially considering that most scientists agree that volcanic activity was a primary cause of the Permian Extinction), it really could have been far worse; a majority of scientists agree that if the Yellowstone complex in Wyo. ever erupts, it could potentially cause a great amount of damage and very well could snuff out, many, many species.

And also, I wouldn't rule out the existence of other sapient species in the universe, either.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:57 PM

8. +10C would do us all in, in a geological heartbeat.

And that's where we're heading.

What does the potential existence of other sapient beings in the universe have to do with our survival?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:10 PM

9. Two issues with this.

One, even +10*C wouldn't be enough to do us in entirely, and two, we are not necessarily headed for 6*C by 2100. Doesn't mean it can't happen, it's just not inevitable, that's all.

Another interesting thing that I learned rather recently is that some scientists suggest that, when the Younger Dryas period ended, that temperatures shot up by as much as 7*C or so in just several decades. Though it was likely rather tough on some species, it doesn't seem that particular event caused any notable extinctions and it sure didn't kill off whatever humans were living on the planet at that point in history.


What does the potential existence of other sapient beings in the universe have to do with our survival?


Not much. Just thought I might reply to Aldo since he brought it up.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:20 PM

3. Bookmarking for later

It's serpent handling night at the church and I don't wanna be late or all the real poisonous ones will be already taken.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:45 PM

5. Humans don't have a death wish, we have hyperbolic discounting.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to phantom power (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:57 PM

6. Indeed. It's not that we want to die

We just have this wonderful ability to diminish problems that will happen later.
This ability that enables us to ignore our own deaths also allows us to ignore the death of our civilization and species.

It's a useful quality, except that it lets us do things without worrying about later consequences. On a personal level, think of smoking cigarettes. On a global level, think about smoking coal.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:35 PM

10. I cna't believe you're here speculating about this shit

When you could be lying on a sidewalk, rolled up in a waterproof sleeping bag so you can be the 1st guy into Target when the doors open at 12:01 Friday morning.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread