Punx0r wrote: ↑
Apr 19 2019 7:28am
Frankly, I'm not surprised you find people turned off if they're repeatedly told we're all going extinct because fossil fuels are running out and there is no possible replacement.
There is no possible replacement that is as cheap, as portable and as available as quickly. There are lots of possible replacements that don't hit all those pluses, of course.
Let's take one example. Let's say we go all solar and cancel oil tomorrow. Great. To store the energy we need to build batteries. They are expensive, and if they are to run everything, everything will get more expensive - shipping, farming, housing, transportation. At the end of the day, "expensive" means labor. So the labor you perform will not be able to buy as much. Maybe that means you'll be able to afford a house (or apartment) and food but that's it. No cars; all our efforts to electrify will barely support farming and shipping. That will dramatically change our society.
Or maybe cars are such a huge priority that we decide we can't live without them. Something else has to give. Perhaps then the future looks like much smaller cars with everyone eating a plant-based diet (since meat is a huge energy sink.)
And for both cases it means the end of growth; future society will have to contract in terms of economic output. And all our economic models are built on constant growth. So what kind of new economy will allow a decent lifestyle with a contracting, instead of expanding, economy? No one knows yet. All the existing examples are pretty grim (think 1929.) But perhaps we will be smart enough to manage to avoid that.
That does not mean "the end is near!" of course. If we returned to an 1850s era (or even 1929) lifestyle in terms of transportation it is certainly not the end of the world. But it also means that the future doesn't look like Star Trek; it looks more like Blade Runner. (But with fewer flying cars.)
It must be especially irritating if you work in the renewable energy industry and have daily first-hand experience of the capabilities of alternative energy sources.
I do. But I also think that it's unrealistic to think that renewable energy will replace fossil fuels as anything like a 1:1 replacement. If we put everything we had into building out a non-fossil-fuel energy system (massive solar/wind, HTGR nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen, batteries, HVDC transmission, electrified highways, new sources of concrete and fertilizer etc) then the changes might not be too painful. But since we are not willing to do that, the changes will be more painful when they come. There are a lot of people like Hillhater and Beastie out there - and people even more selfish than that. So any progress we make will be limited by that sort of short term thinking.