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Old 2011-04-29, 01:10   Link #61
synaesthetic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I don't think there's any way to get cheap unlimited energy, you can't beat physics. As it is, Oil is very cheap, and very plentiful. The difference between the last centuries and those previous was how cheap energy was. Remember that it used to be all energy had to be supplied by people or animals.

And anyway, even if you could generate unlimited energy, you still have to transport it, you have to build the machines that generate it, you have to maintain those machines. There's always a cost involved, and it just so happens that currently those costs are far higher then the price of oil, so no one does it.

Space isn't really the solution though. For one thing it currently costs in the region of $100,000 to lift just a single litre of water into space.

On the other hand, if you're finding gas prices gouging you, there is a solution: Don't drive a car! Use a bicycle instead, or public transport.

Of course that doesn't help you if you don't live in cycling distance to work or don't have a public transport system, all problems that afflict many americans.
Space development is the only solution.

If we don't expand beyond Earth, we may well become extinct or be forced to enact massive depopulation measures--either officially sanctioned or through terribly destructive wars--in order to prevent going extinct.

We're basically doomed if we don't expand, but if we do and we do it well, we're virtually ensured existence in perpetuity.
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Old 2011-04-29, 01:21   Link #62
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Personally, I'm in favor of a war. If we lose enough of our population, people may remember the lessons that war is supposed to teach people.
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Old 2011-04-29, 01:30   Link #63
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Yeah, about that... there's a problem with wars.

People die in them.
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Old 2011-04-29, 01:40   Link #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Space development is the only solution.
Inevitably it will be. Forge the Sun imploding 5 billion years from now. Well before that, resources will be spread too thin between too many people.

Quote:
If we don't expand beyond Earth, we may well become extinct or be forced to enact massive depopulation measures--either officially sanctioned or through terribly destructive wars--in order to prevent going extinct.
Until space technology is developed and technology is created to cause other planets like Mars into habitable places, more efficient use of resources will need to happen. And the human population will either be capped or culled. I have been thinking of a culling happening for a long time. It's not like there aren't countries that haven't done that before. Methods I could see being used are:

1. A lottery. Luck of the draw.
2. The rich/influential/those with proven relative worth are allowed to live while 'the surplus population' is exterminated.
3. War by the biggers countries to take things by might. U.S. vs China vs India vs Russia is rather plausible.
4. Death games made into entertainment, Team Fortress 2 style.


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We're basically doomed if we don't expand, but if we do and we do it well, we're virtually ensured existence in perpetuity.
As long as we don't run into 'The Borg.'

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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Yeah, about that... there's a problem with wars.

People die in them.
War is usually the biggest source of techonogical progression. But the costs always outweigh the benefits unless you're an arms dealer. And the thing is people haven't really learnt their lesson from last century. You just get the feeling a third big war is coming. As soon as one major power gets into crisis, it will happen.
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Old 2011-04-29, 01:48   Link #65
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'It is good that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it'
- General Robert E. Lee

Since people aren't dying in the massive numbers that they used to in war, we are no longer seeing the cost and the sacrifice that must be undertaken when people take up arms. When this happens, war becomes commonplace, and eventually, routine.

The great thing about war as population control is that it generally takes the lives of those yet to start a family of their own, preventing a whole group of potential offspring. It may sound cold, but when you reduce everything to numbers (especially with finite resources), everything seems cold.
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Old 2011-04-29, 02:11   Link #66
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Yeah, no thanks. I'd rather take all those hundreds of billions of dollars spent on killing people, and spend them on applying Sammy Hagar logic to the speed limit of the universe.

Edit: All inanity aside (including FTL travel, which may or may not be physically impossible) take those hundreds of billions and use them to solve the cost problem of putting shit into orbit. Once we make getting to space cheaper, it'll spark an explosion of development.
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Old 2011-04-29, 02:16   Link #67
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If you figure out how to make a weapon with it, you'll get all the funding you'll ever need.
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Old 2011-04-29, 02:21   Link #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Yeah, no thanks. I'd rather take all those hundreds of billions of dollars spent on killing people, and spend them on applying Sammy Hagar logic to the speed limit of the universe.
You just reminded me of one of the legends of humanity - Bill Hicks. He said the following on his final comedy tour before his untimely death at 32 in 1994.



The world needs someone like him again. No one has come close to having the guts, wit and black humour Bill Hicks had. He was considered a comedian and a philosopher with good reason. Unfortunately, the majority of people will never able to see the world and other people in such a way.
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Old 2011-04-29, 03:28   Link #69
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Space development is the only solution.

If we don't expand beyond Earth, we may well become extinct or be forced to enact massive depopulation measures--either officially sanctioned or through terribly destructive wars--in order to prevent going extinct.

We're basically doomed if we don't expand, but if we do and we do it well, we're virtually ensured existence in perpetuity.
I completely fail to see the point of intentionally lower the population. The more children a family has, the less resource is dedicated to each child, the harder it is to maintain a quality of life. And it is a fact that most advanced economies have negative birth rates.

Most of the increased population are from the poor nations. And the poor don't use much energy because they can't afford them. The more wealth a population has, the more energy they demand, but the lower their birth rates would be.

Population explosion is now debunked. Yes, finite energy sources will one day run out, but it has nothing to do with the size of the population. Your dreams of mass organised killings is nothing more than movie plotlines.

We would move into the stars when we need to. But if we don't figure out how to live on Earth sustainably, there would be no way we can survive on an alien planet or on a space colony ship. So in that sense trying to go to Space wouldn't solve our problem; if we live sustainably then we never really have to leave Earth. If we don't live sustainably then the rest of the universe wouldn't be big enough for us to pillage forever.
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Old 2011-04-29, 04:03   Link #70
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Well, that's good news.



Wars are pretty much stupid penis-waving, they aren't my dreams and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't put words in my mouth.

Also "sustainable" is such a misused word it makes me sick. What is "sustainable" anyway? The only way we can ever reach a point of complete sustainability is to obtain virtually unlimited energy. That cannot be done by burning things.

Hence, space development, to get those big power-collecting arrays grabbing big chunks of otherwise-wasted solar energy.
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Old 2011-04-29, 06:29   Link #71
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Well, that's good news.



Wars are pretty much stupid penis-waving, they aren't my dreams and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't put words in my mouth.

Also "sustainable" is such a misused word it makes me sick. What is "sustainable" anyway? The only way we can ever reach a point of complete sustainability is to obtain virtually unlimited energy. That cannot be done by burning things.

Hence, space development, to get those big power-collecting arrays grabbing big chunks of otherwise-wasted solar energy.
We can most certainly have sustainability by burning things. We just have to make sure to whatever we need to burn is created by us first. Technically wood is just a converted form of solar energy.

Ultimately the sci-fi way to get near infinite energy is to simply build a mega-structure around a spare sun from another solar system. A sun is just a very large fusion powerplant. Encase it would mean we get its total output.
Sustainability is about using energy that can be replenished. Infinite energy is one way of getting it, but that's far harder than simply making sure we secure an energy supply that takes shorter time to make than to use.

For all intent and purposes coal and oil are actually infinite; they are regenerated by Earth's biosphere. But since the rate of creating new coal and oil naturally takes tens of thousands of years more than it takes to burn them, we would run out of sufficient quantities of them. So sustainability means trying to find an artificial means of generating fuel that are created in a quantity that match or surpass our consumption rate. "Infinite" energy is not needed, as we don't consume infinite amounts ourselves.

By the way, the current solar panel designs means it is not possible to build a giant solar powerplant in Space. The amount of silver and rare-earth metals needed means we can't make them at that macro scale even if we get up there.
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Old 2011-04-29, 06:51   Link #72
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Food is the operative problem facing the world, I'd say. We got lucky in the last century with green revolution, but there's only so much land out there to grow food on, not only that but we need to preserve as much as possible for the purpose of forestry, to absorb emissions and preserve natural habitats.

In this respect I'm totally opposed to "organic farming" as it's a terribly innefficient way to grow enough food to feed the world's population. In the further long term we need to restrain population growth, particularly in Asia. I think the only solution is increased wealth all around the world, in western countries population growth is very low (sub replacement in Europe). In this respect the world is on the right track, I think worldwide economic inequality is on the decrease, particularly in South America and many parts of Asia. But it's to be expected that food prices are rising:

1. The world's population is growing, while the supply is not, when demand increases with regard to supply, prices rise
2. There have been several droughts, crop failures recently, causing a drop in number of crop harvested. Also crop diseases like Wheat Rust.
3. Increasing land demand for biofuels and other uses.
4. Certain lands are suffering decreases in fertility due to poor farming practices.

All of the above are causing decreased supply of food, and no one is directly to blame for any of it. We're reaching the limit that this planet can support, at least with current technology. GM crops could improve things a lot.
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Old 2011-04-29, 07:44   Link #73
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Food is the operative problem facing the world, I'd say. We got lucky in the last century with green revolution, but there's only so much land out there to grow food on, not only that but we need to preserve as much as possible for the purpose of forestry, to absorb emissions and preserve natural habitats.

In this respect I'm totally opposed to "organic farming" as it's a terribly innefficient way to grow enough food to feed the world's population. In the further long term we need to restrain population growth, particularly in Asia. I think the only solution is increased wealth all around the world, in western countries population growth is very low (sub replacement in Europe). In this respect the world is on the right track, I think worldwide economic inequality is on the decrease, particularly in South America and many parts of Asia. But it's to be expected that food prices are rising:

1. The world's population is growing, while the supply is not, when demand increases with regard to supply, prices rise
2. There have been several droughts, crop failures recently, causing a drop in number of crop harvested. Also crop diseases like Wheat Rust.
3. Increasing land demand for biofuels and other uses.
4. Certain lands are suffering decreases in fertility due to poor farming practices.

All of the above are causing decreased supply of food, and no one is directly to blame for any of it. We're reaching the limit that this planet can support, at least with current technology. GM crops could improve things a lot.
Actually, we have not reached the maximum food production. not by a long shot. This is because there isn't as much farmland as there could be, because ironically even though food has increased in price, the small farmers are not benefiting from it. The combination of farm subsidies in rich nations and the way food distribution is built means farmers get a tiny share of the profits, cause there to be less farmers and farmland despite rising prices.

Farmland is being out-competed for land. In the Middle East, farmland is used to grow poppies for the drug trade. In China, farmland is being destroyed to create more factories, as it just brings in more cash.

Eventually rising food prices would lead to increased production to meet demand. But the lag is what caused the problem. If you built a shoe factory on top of your farmland, you can't revert it back to food production even if you wanted to.

What it boils down to, is that there is "just enough" farms to keep everyone fed, as any more production than that isn't profitable to the big companies. But as soon as a disaster hit, like a bad harvest, or a fire, there would be a big gap in supply because there isn't any slack in the system. We haven't hit a limit at all, we just restricted our own food production intentionally for maximum profit.
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Old 2011-04-29, 07:46   Link #74
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Food is the operative problem facing the world, I'd say. We got lucky in the last century with green revolution, but there's only so much land out there to grow food on, not only that but we need to preserve as much as possible for the purpose of forestry, to absorb emissions and preserve natural habitats.

In this respect I'm totally opposed to "organic farming" as it's a terribly innefficient way to grow enough food to feed the world's population. In the further long term we need to restrain population growth, particularly in Asia. I think the only solution is increased wealth all around the world, in western countries population growth is very low (sub replacement in Europe). In this respect the world is on the right track, I think worldwide economic inequality is on the decrease, particularly in South America and many parts of Asia. But it's to be expected that food prices are rising:

1. The world's population is growing, while the supply is not, when demand increases with regard to supply, prices rise
2. There have been several droughts, crop failures recently, causing a drop in number of crop harvested. Also crop diseases like Wheat Rust.
3. Increasing land demand for biofuels and other uses.
4. Certain lands are suffering decreases in fertility due to poor farming practices.

All of the above are causing decreased supply of food, and no one is directly to blame for any of it. We're reaching the limit that this planet can support, at least with current technology. GM crops could improve things a lot.
Global wealth is criticized by some scholars to be a ponzi scheme that is an illusion which make sense since energy is definite therefore there may not be enough around for everybody especially if there is deninite amount of land to cultivate.

At the end we may all be eating Soylent Green.
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Old 2011-04-29, 07:52   Link #75
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Originally Posted by Tri-ring View Post
Global wealth is criticized by some scholars to be a ponzi scheme that is an illusion which make sense since energy is definite therefore there may not be enough around for everybody especially if there is deninite amount of land to cultivate.

At the end we may all be eating Soylent Green.
I would believe that as soon as farmers in Western nations stop needing subsidies to make a profit. Farming is losing to industrial and commercial interests in terms of land use. There is plenty of potential farmland, there is just no money in it.
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Old 2011-04-29, 08:16   Link #76
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Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant View Post
Actually, we have not reached the maximum food production. not by a long shot. This is because there isn't as much farmland as there could be, because ironically even though food has increased in price, the small farmers are not benefiting from it. The combination of farm subsidies in rich nations and the way food distribution is built means farmers get a tiny share of the profits, cause there to be less farmers and farmland despite rising prices.

Farmland is being out-competed for land. In the Middle East, farmland is used to grow poppies for the drug trade. In China, farmland is being destroyed to create more factories, as it just brings in more cash.

Eventually rising food prices would lead to increased production to meet demand. But the lag is what caused the problem. If you built a shoe factory on top of your farmland, you can't revert it back to food production even if you wanted to.

What it boils down to, is that there is "just enough" farms to keep everyone fed, as any more production than that isn't profitable to the big companies. But as soon as a disaster hit, like a bad harvest, or a fire, there would be a big gap in supply because there isn't any slack in the system. We haven't hit a limit at all, we just restricted our own food production intentionally for maximum profit.
Farmland isn't being used to build shoe factories, or if it is, it's a very negligible portion, compared to the amount of land available as a whole.

The problem is that it is difficult to expand agriculture beyond what it is now, Most of the fertile land that is not already being used for agriculture is currently used for forestry, which would be a bad idea to cut down on further.

And it's not just land that's limited, more accurately it's water for that land as well. In Europe it's not too bad, we have loads of water, but pretty much all of our usable flat land is already used for agriculture anyway, but in asia, where the vast majority of the population is, and the vast majority of arable land is located, water is extremely limited. The likes of China and India are almost at the limit of land they can still use for agriculture, when a crop failure hits those regions, as wheat rust did recently, we get the food price rises we're getting right now. The green revolution is the only reason these places have not experienced severe famine in the last 40 years.

Now there are other agricultural products as well, but these are often just as nessecary as food for the global economy, and they use the same land and water resources. And it tends to be the same farmers growing poppies as wheat, they just see poppies sell for more...

I think the earth, with current resources and technology, can comfortably grow enough food for 9 billion people, but things are already reaching an impasse. Look at the riots in the middle east, those were largely driven by rising food prices, which we can take in the west, but the poor throughout the developing world cannot.

Also the reason western farmers need subsidies is to compete with farmers in other parts of the world, who can work for far less. On the other hand, if subsidies were removed it would probably make things better in the long run.
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Old 2011-04-29, 15:52   Link #77
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Originally Posted by Vallen Chaos Valiant View Post
Actually, we have not reached the maximum food production. not by a long shot. This is because there isn't as much farmland as there could be, because ironically even though food has increased in price, the small farmers are not benefiting from it. The combination of farm subsidies in rich nations and the way food distribution is built means farmers get a tiny share of the profits, cause there to be less farmers and farmland despite rising prices.
Farmland is also being diverted for corn ethanol production (in the US) thanks to oil and mega-agri lobbies for special tax breaks. Not ma and pa farms (like the ones around me).. .but the ADM megafarms, etc. There is simply less edible grain being raised globally -- and this drives the food prices up (in addition to transport fuel cost uncertainty the distributors incur). Expensive food drives political instability worldwide.
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Old 2011-04-29, 21:38   Link #78
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Farmland is also being diverted for corn ethanol production (in the US) thanks to oil and mega-agri lobbies for special tax breaks. Not ma and pa farms (like the ones around me).. .but the ADM megafarms, etc. There is simply less edible grain being raised globally -- and this drives the food prices up (in addition to transport fuel cost uncertainty the distributors incur). Expensive food drives political instability worldwide.
So their plan of exploiting China for food isn't working, since there are rumours of local magistrates window-dressing harvest reports in the agriculture areas?

Yeah....apparently a hungry man is an angry man. And a hungry woman.....is more dangerous than a nuclear device.
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Old 2011-04-29, 23:41   Link #79
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On the matter of farmland, I remember it was mentioned that Detroit used to be a farming community.

There are now talks of reviving agriculture there now, because there isn't much of a manufacture sector left in that city. Of course there is worries that the land is no longer usable for that, but Detroit has already fallen on such hard times they might as well try anything.
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