ltgbrown wrote:I guess I am a victim of the "progressivist myth", also. I also think that necessity can breed invention, i.e. if the need is great enough ("cheap" oil and coal run out and minaeable metal dwindles to near zero) things like solar, wind, tide, wave, fission, etc will pick up the slack. The ability to mine asteroids, moons, and planets will pick up the slack.
Unfortunately, there is no basis I know of for that fantasy.
Oil and natural gas have a great advantage -- they come out of the ground at pressure. In the early day of exploration, 1 barrel of oil for exploration yielded 100 barrels of new discoveries. For most of the 20th Century that ratio changed to 1:50. Now it's worse than 1:10 in many places. And it's still a great deal -- coming out of the ground, practically ready to use.
The energy return on investment on solar and wind etc. is much (MUCH) lower. We could build wind tubines at with the same dedication and panic as we built tanks during WWII and still not replace even 60% of our existing electrical production 30 years from now. And we'd be a lot LESS prosperous after those 30 years because the wind turbines require many more people to build, maintain and repair them than are needed for the equivalent of traditional power stations.
I'm not against alternative energy, but it is not an "alternate" -- it will not enable us to continue to live as we live now. If wind and solar were better, they wouldn't need to be subsidized.
The harsh reality is life is about to change for unavoidable reasons of geology and physics. Most people cannot accept that oil is in decline, and the known alternatives are not substitutes because it means life is going to continue to get more difficult unless something surprising -- like aneutronic fusion -- happens.
ltgbrown wrote:The critical point that we are at is not whether cheap electricity from fusion may compensate for disappearing fossil fuels, but whether humanity will learn to understand its true impact on others as it produces and consumes all that energy.
Learn to understand????
Humanity will learn to understand its impact on...???
Thinks to ponder when we're sitting in the cold and dark (unless aneutronic fusion works of course)