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Old 04-04-2016, 01:23 PM   #1
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Is an economy based on endless growth unsustainable?

Originally Posted by Muse
All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way that the availability of the remaining energy decreases. In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system, the entropy of that system increases. Energy continuously flows from being concentrated to becoming dispersed, spread out, wasted and useless. New energy cannot be created and high grade energy is being destroyed. An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable
Right now we're shifting to cleaner energy resources like geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and nuclear. The issue is that it takes an incredible amount of resources and energy just to create the sort of output necessary to sustain large populations, especially in cases of hydroelectric and solar.

Is the human race doomed if we do not find a consistently renewable resource that drastically decreases human entropy, and is it our moral obligation to do so?
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Old 04-04-2016, 01:37 PM   #2
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I mean, if we really want to be honest, if we don't switch from fossil fuels at some point, regardless of however long you think they are going to last (50, 100, 200 years or summat), we're doomed. They are renewable, but in the timespan of millions of years, and we can't manufacture fossil fuels ourselves in a way that doesn't take more energy than what we're getting. We have to make the switch at some point in the future, otherwise the ramifications are going to be absolutely horrible.

I think we also have a moral obligation to do so, but that's not terribly convincing.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:19 PM   #3
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Your title/that quote is misleading, VGM. I thought you were talking about actual economics, not energy.


Fossil fuels are renewable, technically. Shale oil is a near unlimited resource since we're turning rocks into energy, and petrol can be derived from dead organic matter through thermal depolymerization in the same way the Earth originally created oil. The problems are the environmental effects from petrol extraction, refinement and burning.


Entropy of the universe isn't going to decrease because the entire universe is an open system unless we start to tap into dark energy. There is no true renewable resource because the energy comes from somewhere - usually the sun. Solar, wind, tides and liquid water is impacted by the sun's gravity and radiation (creating temperature gradients). You might as well ask how can humans survive without the sun, and the answer is we can't. When Sol gets too old or threatens to wipe out life on Earth, humans have to move to a new star system.

Nuclear is easily the best option for a clean, efficient energy, but humans have shown they're too irresponsible to handle it.
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:51 PM   #4
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Technically no depending in certain possible technological advances i.e fusion reactors.

But basically yes. Global capitalism is inherently designed to eventually stop working. On energy, which this thread is actually about, there are a lot of ways forwards but the global industry is set up to promote the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Inroads into smart power, renewables and other things can help but we're facing at least many more decades of digging stuff out of the ground and burning it.
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Old 04-06-2016, 12:03 AM   #5
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In the not even very far future, a Dyson Sphere will be perfectly viable. A Dyson Sphere is basically an sphere of super high efficiency solar panels built around the Sun to transfer almost all of its energy to the Earth. There are variants of this, of course, but that's the basic idea. This is the ultimate, the God Tier energy. By the time we get this, we will probably already have interstellar travel, so we can even harvest the energy of other stars. This is the end level stage for the current human species.

Let's say that's a 1000 years off to build a fully-functioning Dyson sphere, which I think is acceptable and very, very conservative. We need to get to another 1000 years. That is the problem we are currently facing, because we can't even make it to 2100 by current estimates.

The only real solution is nuclear power. It's had a horrible rap in the media despite the fact that it is safer than coal in every conceivable way, and fission will...last for a while, iirc, about 200 years. That bumps us up to about 2250, let's say. Our mission then is to manage fusion, which is our current level God-tier ability. Fusion will literally enable us to make it far, far beyond 3000, but okay, let's have some countermeasures. Solar panels throughout much of the world will give us a huge boost too, if we can properly manage it. Hydroelectricity is annoying, and will not give us much, but the little things will add up.

I think we can manage the energy crisis. But we need to listen to the scientists. So I guess what I'm saying is we won't manage the energy crisis.
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