Re: Long-Term Sustainability Notes Online...
From: Brian Bartholomew (
Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2007 14:01:41 -0700 (PDT)
"Lisa Poley" <lpoley [at]> writes:

> Ronald's presentation of information that points up the very real
> challenges that face us in the coming decades in no way equates to
> "wanting 99.4% of human beings to die within 40 years" and it
> strikes me as disingenuous to represent his message in that way.

Here are the words he wrote:

        6,600,000,000 - 37,902,186 = 6.5 billion or so must die in the
        time remaining for fossil fuels

        As of 2007, a large portion of the global population is 20 or
        younger.  At current consumption globally of 30 billion
        barrels per year, and the largest daydream of 1,200 billion
        barrels of oil, we have 40 years until depletion... MUCH LESS
        until demand permanently exceeds possible supply, and anyone
        not self-sufficient crashes.

And the signature quote he picked:

           "Stabilization of human numbers is no solution... To speak of
           an actual reduction of human population - exactly what is
           needed if the world is to avoid unprecedented human dieoff
           through famine, pestilence, and war - is unthinkable and
           unspeakable, at least in polite company.  Not just Catholics
           and conservatives, but liberals as awll become positively
           apoplectic if the subject is broached.  And so the discussion
           necessary to understanding our econlogical dilemma, and
           dealing effectively with it, never occurs."
                                - Richard Heinberg, Power Down

Birth control won't make his numbers, which leaves "wanting 99.4% of
human beings to die within 40 years".  If that's not what he meant,
I'm sure he'll clarify.


> Eternal optimism is a great quality.....unless it serves to blind
> people to hard facts and keeps them from facing very real challenges
> in a clear headed and serious manner.  We seem to be in an era of
> maximum 'fantasy indulgence' here in the U.S. where denial and
> magical thinking are epidemic.

The amount of oil energy Ronald quotes is delivered by the sun in an
area 95 miles on a side.  It is plausible to replace all oil with
solar, if we plan for it.  No fusion magic is required.  California is
installing 300-900 MW of solar concentrators onto Stirling engines:

This product is shipping.  There is nothing mechanically exotic about
it, and when more companies make them, they will get cheaper.  For
example, this guy built a 5 HP unit in the 1980's in Bangladesh:

I expect developing countries will build their own non-PV solar power
systems, including solar salt ponds, which are lower tech large
collectors.  One Laptop Per Child will deliver the knowledge on how to
bootstrap food, shelter, education, and decent health.

The hard facts are that we have an energy and communication roadmap
now for how to make the future a happier place.  I don't see tough
times ahead, I see the developing world gaining the aspects they
desire of the Western middle class lifestyle.


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