# Would abundant, very low-cost energy mean impending doom for the species?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by wesmorris, Sep 22, 2007.

Not open for further replies.
1. ### wesmorrisNerd Overlord - we(s):1 of NValued Senior Member

Messages:
9,844
If it's abundant and low cost anyone can have a shitload of it. Of course if you have a shitload of it you literally have a lot of power. If you have a lot of power you can fairly easily destroy shit on a whim. If pretty much anyone who feels like it can destroy an assload of stuff on a whim, would we be basically doomed, as asshats with temper issues all across the world would seemingly commence to blowing up whatever they could manage to blow up.

Meh, just wondering what you think.

Note: and pardon for screwing up the thread title.

3. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

Messages:
24,690
Abundant low-cost energy would revolutionize the development of many technologies, including security and protection. It would even make it easier to preserve and restore the environment. I doubt that the results would be nearly as bad as you predict. It would probably greatly improve life in the Third World, since one of their looming problems is a water shortage. Widespread industrial-scale distillation of wastewater and seawater would increase their food production and curb their diarrhea epidemic.

5. ### Baron MaxRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
23,053
Well, electric power is pretty abundant and low cost in the USA now. I pay about $5 per day for all of the electric power I need. I think most people will pay about that, maybe a little more. That's including air conditioning in the summer in Texas heat, too. But think about it in relative terms ....how long does the average American work to pay for all of the electric power he needs to live comfortably?$5 per day for all those comforts is not much ...even minimum wage people earn something like \$7 per hour. Which means he works less than one hour of the day to have all the electric power he needs. Is that too much to pay?

Baron Max

7. ### wesmorrisNerd Overlord - we(s):1 of NValued Senior Member

Messages:
9,844

I think you're right in the short term, but a 12-monkeys of the power industry comes to mind. Seems like for instance, if you could have the energy of a car, for next to nothing all stored in a device say the size of a thimble, well.. that seems like a seriously dangerous potential. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, I'm just wondering if YOU think it might be a bad thing and saying I can see how it might be, but I dunno. I definately thing probably for the most part it would be good at least at first.

8. ### wesmorrisNerd Overlord - we(s):1 of NValued Senior Member

Messages:
9,844

how about hydrogen for instance. there's been some serious advances in this area if I'm not mistaken, but I might have been bullshitted. I saw a thing the other day where a guy was ACTUALLY running his car on water, some strange welding process he'd adapted for his car engine, he's supposedly in talks with the military now. I saw another one too where basically they'd figured out how to free the hydrogen from water, and I'm pretty sure they claimed they were getting more out than it was costing them to get it out.

if hydrogen, in all of its explosive goodness is readily available in large quantities, is that boomtime?

i suppose there's gasoline, natural gas and propane already really available and the booms are few, so I prolly should shutup about it. it seems like there's something dangerous there in a big way, but perhaps I'm just playing pessimist too much.

9. ### ZephyrHumans are ONERegistered Senior Member

Messages:
3,371
No worse than an easy-to-make cold fusion bomb.

10. ### NickelodeonBannedBanned

Messages:
10,581
We could use this abundant energy to clean the environment.

11. ### spuriousmonkeyBannedBanned

Messages:
24,066
How? Some kind of super incinerator that will blast our resources into space? Gone forever...

12. ### NickelodeonBannedBanned

Messages:
10,581
Make a drill that would drill into the Earths core, depositing our waste into the depths. Attach it to this endless energy source, and let it rip. We live on the skin of an apple.

13. ### ZephyrHumans are ONERegistered Senior Member

Messages:
3,371
Of course. If by 'clean' you mean 'turn into glass plating'.

14. ### spuriousmonkeyBannedBanned

Messages:
24,066
bloody brilliant!

"patent pending"

15. ### wesmorrisNerd Overlord - we(s):1 of NValued Senior Member

Messages:
9,844
No, patent pended.

Back in the early 70's no less.

Called a "Subterrene". plenty of google gold there.

16. ### dixonmasseyValued Senior Member

Messages:
2,151
That's ridiculous. Terms "heat pollution", "thermal pollution" are well known ALREADY without abundant&cheap energy sources. Climate changes (or fluctuations) can be triggered by as little as 1% fluctuation in the Plane's energy balance. As for now, residual waste heat due to human activity (radiation into space is accounted for) is something like 0.1% of the energy of Sun hitting Earth (i.e. in 10 years we get that 1% of excess heat which would destabilize weather, in the best case). Some projections tell that waste heat will be equal total energy of Sun (hitting Earth) in 250 years (with current rate of energy consumption increase).

Total waste heat of 10% of energy of Sun means absolute doom to everybody. Thus, cheap and abundant energy source without planetary refrigerator = DEATH. In two words, science is not the answer.

17. ### spidergoatValued Senior Member

Messages:
51,949
I don't think energy itself is the problem. The Earth is full of various kinds of energy. The problems come from the how that energy is gathered and used. If we had unlimited cheap energy, it would be beneficial to the whole planet. We could send all harmful waste into outer space.

18. ### dixonmasseyValued Senior Member

Messages:
2,151
I think you don't quite realize that according to the fist law of thermodynamics dU=dQ-dW. In other words, there is no work without heat. You don't need energy per se (except heating), you need work, work is impossible without waste heat. According to the second Law, all processes in nature are going in the direction of the maximum energy dispersal, in other words, waste heat which escaped (while you drive a car, for example) is just that - waste, you can't accumulated/transform it into something else, without spending even more energy. That's fundamental limitation, not technological.

Now, when two Laws are considered, let's consider human economies, nature, etc. If something becomes cheap and abundant - consumption skyrockets, simple as that. Energy consumption skyrockets - waste heat skyrockets (technology cannot eliminate waste heat), planetary heat balance is tipped and that's it. That's why science is not the answer to the modern problems, it's (more exactly its use) rather source of those problems.

BTW, how about that paperless future which was promised by computer technologies? As far as I know, paper consumptions never has been greater. That's exact reason, why relying on science&technology to conserve resources is similar to extinguishing fire with gasoline.

19. ### wesmorrisNerd Overlord - we(s):1 of NValued Senior Member

Messages:
9,844
While I think you raise some very valid points, it seems that the solution to the dilemma you offer is efficiency. If for instance, all the heat created by work is put towards the work instead of wasted, the problem you describe doesn't happen.

On the other hand, perfect efficiency is highly unlikely and even if you could get close were energy incredibly abundant and cheap, most of the world would likely have lesser efficiency stuff, further... the economic motivation to increase efficiency dissappears.

That's messed up man.

20. ### GrantywantyRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
1,888
I think there would be chaos. Gadgets and tranportation devices would run rampant. Individuals and small groups could now afford to do all sorts of things adn I think there would be daily flare ups, explosions, chain reactions, etc.
The number of people who would make rockets, for example, frightens me.

21. ### draqonBannedBanned

Messages:
35,006
it would create new barriers in life...we have energy limiting us now...in future with something like this...we might have social barriers limiting us.