Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia."
June 2, 2011 5:56 PM   Subscribe

"Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong: The future of energy is not what you think it is"
Previously: fracking
posted by andoatnp (88 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great. Now we can ALL have fire coming from our sinks.
posted by toekneebullard at 6:01 PM on June 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, I hope he got a good grade for that essay. He seems like a really bright seventh grader.
posted by BYiro at 6:02 PM on June 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost

That's a mighty IF on that statement.

And you forgot "zero impact/harm to the surrounding environment". But never mind me, the future is all good!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:04 PM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's still a nonrenewable resource. Why kick the can another 200 or 300 years down the road* when we could start getting off this shit now?

*assuming we could recover this energy without the obvious drawbacks of fracking and simultaneously offset the greenhouse gas emissions that continued use of fossil fuels will cause. so, uh, probably a terrible assumption
posted by ofthestrait at 6:05 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Y'know, we could also generate a fair amount of power by burning books, dogs, and non-whites.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:06 PM on June 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Good thing fracking also cancels out global warming, eh?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:06 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Shitload of citations needed]
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:08 PM on June 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Previously by the same writer (By Michael Lind)

Bad influences: JFK, Ike and Obama ( expresses concern that those guys just weren't / aren't good enough)

Hey, liberals: Time to give the Beck bashing a rest (expresses concern that liberals shouldn't be exposing such people so much)

How Reaganism actually started with Carter (I really don't have to comment this one, do I ?)

And wow - in this latest piece I learn that fracking is a good thing

According to google , Michael Lind is a self-described former neo-conservative. I'd like to, right now, thank Ariana Huffington for helping to formulate my current opinions of "former neo-conservatives".
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:11 PM on June 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


Well this certainly takes a load off my mind. Thank you Salon for finally putting these concerns to rest with real scientific truth.
posted by humanfont at 6:12 PM on June 2, 2011


What a load of fraking gas.
posted by Splunge at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2011


from the salon comments:

Dr. Strangelind
Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Global Warming
posted by ofthestrait at 6:16 PM on June 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well ... that was a pointless read.
posted by phoque at 6:16 PM on June 2, 2011


Many of the same Greens who oppose fracking because it might contaminate some underground aquifers favor wind turbines and high-voltage power lines that slaughter eagles...
eagles? i knew it, those damn greens just one spin of the color wheel away from red.... sluaghtering our national symbol.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:19 PM on June 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


A rebuttal
A rebuttal to the rebuttal
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:22 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is bad. I stopped reading after this argument:

The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes -- a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it. But even if the worst outcomes were likely, the rational response would not be a conversion to wind and solar power but a massive build-out of nuclear power.

on to...

If runaway global warming were a clear and present danger rather than a low probability, then the problems of nuclear waste disposal and occasional local disasters would be minor compared to the benefits to the climate of switching from coal to nuclear power.

so that must mean!

The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed.

I was expecting him to back this up a bit more, but after that he was obviously satisfied with his argument and moved on.
posted by Defenestrator at 6:22 PM on June 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sigh - what a horrid, horrid, under-researched turd of an article. And that's a shame, because the underlying premise is worth discussing.

I'm in agreement with ofthstrait that kicking the can down the road is stupid, but, before the discussion was about how we had to make the transition now. Like them or not (and for the record, I do not), fracking and natgas extraction techniques, along with "clean" coal, mean we can chug along on hydrocarbons for way longer than it looked just a few years ago.

This is very well disastrous, since climate change (which this author handwaves away), seems to be skipping along at the top edge of the predictions.

Also, can we please, please stop passing around the "fracking causes the water to burn" meme. There are many legitimate concerns about fracking and way the ensuing industrial activity does to a watershed. However, that famous scene in Gaslands has been pretty handily proven to be natural methane from coalbeds that the homeowner drilled through for his home well.

If we want to advocate for clean energy, we need to have our ducks in a row, and not hope that the hydro's will just run out or suddenly Exxon is going to care that Bangledesh is underwater.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 6:26 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there nothing we can't say if we add the word "may" to it? Let's find out:
Global Warming May Be Caused By Conservative Blowhard Offgassing

Does Flouride Cause Republicanism? Maybe

Why Liberals May Be the New Insect Overlords (Welcome!)

Salon May Have Jumped the Shark, But At Least They Burned a Lot of those Pesky Fossil Fuels While Doing So!

Michael Lind May be a Reptilian: "We Don't Know," Says One Anonymous Blogger, "He Hasn't Denied It!"
Yep! Works every time!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


Wait, was it Opposite Day on Salon and nobody told me?
posted by briank at 6:32 PM on June 2, 2011


"Eventually civilization may well run out of natural gas and other fossil fuels that are recoverable at a reasonable cost...But that is a problem for the inhabitants of the world of 2500 or 3000 A.D."

So basically..."lol not our problem lol"

I also like how he qualifies his statement by saying that we "may well" run out of finite resources. He may well run out of air if I hold his head underwater.
posted by jnnla at 6:33 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, here's my dumb question -- how is global warming not made worse by still burning shit? For centuries/millenia to come?

To my walnut-sized brain, leave the furnace on, it's gonna git warmer.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:34 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed.

Uh, what about pollution? Isn't pollution still bad? Even IF it doesn't mean global warning, isn't pollution still bad?

(Note that I said "if".)
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:36 PM on June 2, 2011


Also, can we please, please stop passing around the "fracking causes the water to burn" meme.

It doesn't look like we can or should.

Scientific Study Links Flammable Drinking Water to Fracking

Pennsylvania Residents' Flammable Drinking Water Blamed On Fracking YouTube

Big Downside to Fracking: Flammable Water

'Fracking' may put water at risk in Shenandoah
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:39 PM on June 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Seriously, I try to be more moderate, but what a fucking idiot. Journalism would be better without people like him, as would probably the world.
posted by smoke at 6:46 PM on June 2, 2011


There aren't many certainties in this life, but one of them is this: eventually, Pete Seeger is proven right. In all things.

Ignore Pete at your own (or your kids') peril.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, anecdata, but my retired game warden father, an anomalous conservative conservationist, told me about a guy who worked for a wind-power company (either a power company that uses windmills or the co that manufactures them or perhaps it's both) whose job was to inspect power windmill sites for dead birds, and to log them. Speaking at some conference or hearing or something, when asked how many birds he had found dead at those sites in his four years on the job, he answered, "None".

I really wish I had all the specifics on that, because I'd love it to not be such a [citation needed].
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:49 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frack you Michael Lind.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:49 PM on June 2, 2011


OK, here's my dumb question -- how is global warming not made worse by still burning shit? For centuries/millenia to come?

To my walnut-sized brain, leave the furnace on, it's gonna git warmer.


This is why you're not a sciencyst, even with your over-sized brain! It works like this:

E=MC2, where E=energy, M=mass, and C=consumption. From Eisenstein's famous equation, it is clear that as mass consumption increases, the energy available to consume also increases. This perpetual motion of God's good will is also evident in such scientificish principles as the second law of thermodianetics, which states that conservation of energy is socialism, and entrophy, which is the theory that everything is falling apart and dying at such a rapid rate, that the end times will surely come before we run out of fossil fuels, anyway.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:51 PM on June 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed.

Motherfrackers. Seriously. This is a biggest shill for Big Oil that I have ever seen. What, did Salon get free petrol for a year or something if they agreed to write this?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm let's take a look at what this fellah's credentials are with regard to energy. Whaddya know, none whatsoever. I do like how in his own defense in the Salon rebuttal mentioned above he just pretty much pretends he didn't say that global warming wasn't really a problem anyone should be taking seriously.
posted by nanojath at 7:01 PM on June 2, 2011


When Lysenko did this kind of thing in the Soviet Union, it was a tragedy.

Now the right wing hack machine is doing the same thing, and one might hope it will mostly amount to a farce.

So far it's mostly amounted to making it next to impossible to be an engineer and a Republican. Lind and his ilk should pay a visit to MIT some time and see how many republicans they find among the undergrads. It used to be easy. They are the reason it's difficult nowadays .
posted by ocschwar at 7:03 PM on June 2, 2011


Even if we run out of oil, we've always had a shitload of coal available. That's never been an issue. Natural gas can replace oil a lot more easily for automotive uses, though. So that's a good thing, I guess.

But none of this has any baring on global warming. In the article, he just says global warming isn't a big deal and we should just not worry about it. Fucking ridiculous.
The majority of renewable energy consists of CO2-emitting biomass -- wood and dung used for fires by the world’s poor, plus crops used to make fuel
It emits CO2 that was pulled out of the environment.

---
So far it's mostly amounted to making it next to impossible to be an engineer and a Republican.

Unless you're an oil engineer.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]



Also, anecdata, but my retired game warden father, an anomalous conservative conservationist, told me about a guy who worked for a wind-power company (either a power company that uses windmills or the co that manufactures them or perhaps it's both) whose job was to inspect power windmill sites for dead birds, and to log them. Speaking at some conference or hearing or something, when asked how many birds he had found dead at those sites in his four years on the job, he answered, "None".


Google Scholar can help. (And I'll be a hypocrite by not spending the next 10 minutes rounding up the relevant papers. )Outside of 1970's era windmills in places like Altamont pass, birds manage just fine avoiding turbine blades. The blades are slower, and higher up. And better sited.

KNow what does kill lots of birds? Glass towers.
posted by ocschwar at 7:06 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about we listen to actual scientists, instead of whatever this guy is.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:06 PM on June 2, 2011


KNow what does kill lots of birds?

Ooh, ooh! I know this one, I know this one! Is it: Dick Cheney?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:07 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm more comfortable with continuing fossil fuel consumption meaning the end of the world as we know it.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:16 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The really large wind turbines don't kill many birds. And people who study birds are a lot more worried about bird habitats being wiped out by global warming then they are about birds getting killed by wind turbines.
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh, ooh! I know this one, I know this one! Is it: Dick Cheney?


I think you're attributing greater marksmanship to Mr. Great White Quail Hunter than the record warrents.
posted by ocschwar at 7:19 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I heard his best friend fell on a bird when Cheney shot him in the face.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:22 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


As one of the comments on Salon says:

"Shill, baby, shill!"
posted by sneebler at 7:25 PM on June 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, anecdata, but my retired game warden father, an anomalous conservative conservationist, told me about a guy who worked for a wind-power company (either a power company that uses windmills or the co that manufactures them or perhaps it's both) whose job was to inspect power windmill sites for dead birds, and to log them. Speaking at some conference or hearing or something, when asked how many birds he had found dead at those sites in his four years on the job, he answered, "None".

That is pretty funny, since you mention it, because I have never really seen any reliable clear figures about bird-kills at windmills. I've heard lots of hearsay from people who object to windmills for aesthetic reasons.
posted by ovvl at 7:25 PM on June 2, 2011


> Even if we run out of oil, we've always had a shitload of coal available.

Ignoring extraction, natural gas is less polluting and CO2 emitting than other fossil fuels (per kWh generated). You can buy a natural gas powered car today and some utilities (PG&E in California is one) let you refill your car at the substations where they fill their trucks so you don't double your fuel expenses with electricity to compress gas at home.

The alternate fuel credits are structured so if you pay AMT, you can't get a credit for a NGV, but you still can for a battery electric car, but a Civic GX is still cheaper than a Leaf even for "rich" folk.

So, yeah, if fracking wasn't such a dirty mess, natural gas would be a better way to keep consuming like madmen until we've built enough wind farms.
posted by morganw at 7:25 PM on June 2, 2011


Google Scholar can help.
I'd never even heard of that! Thanks!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:30 PM on June 2, 2011


I feel like he may be trolling to get people's hackles up and get them to focus on the issue a bit more.


At least I hope that is what is going on.
posted by dibblda at 7:44 PM on June 2, 2011


I feel like he may be trolling to get people's hackles up and get them to focus on the issue a bit more.

No. Everyone who draws a salary producing conservative editorial writing has been writing this kind of crap for over two years now. People who are smart, educated, and have interesting things to say, are acting like total marionettes. It's nauseating to watch, and I say this as someone who makes a point of reading that stuff.
posted by ocschwar at 7:47 PM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Like conflating all climate change with "warming" in order to prove your point that not all the problems have to do with heat or warmth, this is more specious straw-man reasoning.

The problem, dear reader, is not that we are running out of fossil fuels (though this will happen eventually) but rather than the era of /cheap/ and /easy to extract/ fossil fuels is over.

The rich deposits we so successfully used to power the industrial and post-industrial global economies were key because they were, all things considered, cheap to extract. Oil became a de facto currency precisely because it was cheap enough to be a nearly fungible currency. The opportunity and capital costs of getting into the game kept hydrocarbon inflation in check.

Those days are long gone. As we go back over the same, known, oil, gas and coal deposits it gets more and more expensive to extract the hydrocarbons we need to maintain the currency at its ideal level. Inflation starts to creep up as a result.

Put another way: to keep energy costs nice and cheap, it was typical during the 70s and 80s for oil to be extracted with relatively cheap pumps. The break-even point for keeping the cost of the fuel at a certain level for the amount of investment was to extract roughly 50% of the oil in deposit before abandoning the well and moving on.

OPEC nations are busy going back over those wells to extract another 50%, at a much, much higher cost. And then we will consider the next 50%.

You can see that this may not go so well in terms of keeping the wheels of industry turning with cheap energy and raw material.

So, like many things in this unfair world, the real issue of energy production and hydrocarbon use is a lot more nuanced and complicated than "we will never run out, problem solved forever!" The primary issue is not if or when we will run out (and we will, eventually) but at what cost is it worth it to continue to support the entire enterprise.

Because, at some point, it will a terrible idea to get the next 50% out of a deposit, and if we don't have some alternative, we are well and truly fucked. And this is without even considering the various health and environment downsides and pesky "externalities" the whole biz would rather you did not pay any attention to.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:06 PM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fracking - natural gas machine - is on overdrive. Commercials on tv, astroturfing, everything imaginable... to make the general public believe that this is the one true answer to our energy needs.

There's a massive amount of money involved here.
It's only going to get worse.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:06 PM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you look at a very serious problem for our world--drinkable water--then turn to fracking, here is what you get:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Fracking

fracking requires a tremendous amount of drinkable water, produces pollution, gasses, and radiation
posted by Postroad at 8:07 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fracking -- which uses enormous amounts of drinkable water along with toxic chemicals and which also releases radioactive materials and other hazardous substances in shale deposits -- has raised significant environmental and health concerns.[3] In New Mexico, for example, similar processes have leached toxic chemicals into the water table at 800 sites.[4]

The industry lobbied the Bush Administration and Congress with its claims that the "fracking fluid" should be considered "proprietary" and exempt from disclosure under federal drinking water protection laws.[5] Led by Halliburton and aided by the former CEO of Halliburton, then-Vice President Dick Cheney, the industry obtained this exception in the law along with favorable treatment by political appointees and regulators in the "Environmental Protection Agency." As a result of the "Halliburton loophole" to the law, drilling companies have not been required to divulge the cocktail of chemicals that are in the fracking fluids used at each of the proposed or continuing drill sites across the country.
posted by Postroad at 8:09 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides flammable water, another interesting side effect of fracking -- earthquakes!
posted by bonzo_dog55 at 8:23 PM on June 2, 2011


It is unscientific to jump to the conclusion that fracking is harmful (or harmless) to the water table. The EPA is doing a comprehensive study which is scheduled for release in 2012.
posted by blargerz at 8:36 PM on June 2, 2011


Nothing sends this board into spasms of sputtering indignity than a fossil fuels story that doesn't portend of the end of the world. I read the article, on Salon dot com of all places, earlier this week and could have predicted this reflex. Especially insightful was this bit:

... wind power and solar power may never be able to compete. For that reason, some Greens hope to shut down shale gas and gas hydrate production in advance.

And so it goes. In the meantime, the supply/demand graph line somehow stays in sync instead of diverging as it's supposed to and forcing us to shiver in the dark. Someday, a discussion of enery policy will take place that takes the political and pious out of the mix, but it probably won't be for awhile if this board is any indication.
posted by SeeAych4 at 8:41 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. So much wrong with this article, but for some reason this is what annoys me the most:
Another casualty of energy abundance is the new urbanism. Because cars and trucks and buses can run on natural gas as well as gasoline and diesel fuel, the proposition that peak oil will soon force people around the world to abandon automobile-centered suburbs and office parks for dense downtowns connected by light rail and inter-city trains can no longer be taken seriously. Deprived of the arguments from depletion, national security and global warming, the campaign to increase urban density and mass transit rests on nothing but a personal taste for expensive downtown living, a taste which the suburban working-class majorities in most developed nations manifestly do not share.
Yes. People are in favor of mass transit because they're elitist, latte-sipping urbanites who want to take away our god-given right to a back yard.

What an asshole.
posted by brundlefly at 8:48 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Extreme protest idea: obtain fracking fluid, drink it in public spectacle
posted by BeerFilter at 8:55 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even better, obtain fracking fluid, stage giant scene that allows you the ability to pour a round of drinks of said fluid, toast fracking CEOs, ask them why they aren't drinking it since that's what's going into the water table, drink your glass, convulse, win?
posted by BeerFilter at 8:59 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to find something positive to say about this post. The problem is its so lacking in specific information, and so opinionated and clearly politically slanted, there's really not much that can be salvaged. It amounts to public relations in the form of an OpEd, both of which are not good MeFi material. One could say it's because MeFi itself is politically slanted, but imagine a similar article like this taking a pro-renewables anti-fossil fuel perspective - it probably wouldn't get the bile this post did, but it wouldn't get much comment either, and certainly some people would step forward and be skeptics. Either way not a good type of post.
posted by stbalbach at 9:08 PM on June 2, 2011


The counter-rebuttal linked above is kind of interesting. Lind tries to recast the earlier article as a set of very pessimistic predictions, rather than his own hopes. Looking at it that way, the development of fracking probably does mean that we're in for a couple more centuries of completely wrecking the Earth, and apart from the fact that the original article seems to pretty clearly represent Lind's own hopes and beliefs, maybe he is just the bearer of bad news.
He elaborates on his low-probability global warming claim, too, and it's some sort of circular argument where politicians don't listen to climate scientists -> global warming must not be a real threat -> politicians don't need to listen to climate scientists. I have no idea how he justifies that one to himself.
posted by marakesh at 9:13 PM on June 2, 2011


Speaking at some conference or hearing or something, when asked how many birds he had found dead at those sites in his four years on the job, he answered, "None".

That's just someone in the pockets of Big Wind.
posted by ymgve at 9:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


So, we have a whole world full of increasingly expensive, increasingly environmentally damaging, increasingly run-away global warming pollutants we can still burn?! Yay! BUUUURN!!!! FIREFIREFIRE!!
posted by markkraft at 9:19 PM on June 2, 2011


Please don't forget... the trees and plantlife in whole regions are going to fail anyway as it gets warmer. Might as well consider them valuable fuel too. We must burn them before nature does! And besides, doing so will save the environment!
posted by markkraft at 9:25 PM on June 2, 2011


I picture an ad, showing images from Fukushima, along with statistics about the radiation involved, stating, "this is what happens when Nuclear Power goes wrong."

And then, a moment later, "This is also what happens when fracking goes according to plan."
posted by Navelgazer at 9:30 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The stupid, it burns. The greed, it kills.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because cars and trucks and buses can run on natural gas as well as gasoline and diesel fuel, the proposition that peak oil will soon force people around the world to abandon automobile-centered suburbs and office parks for dense downtowns connected by light rail and inter-city trains can no longer be taken seriously.

Yeah, of course the most sensible thing to do whenever we find an energy source is to figure out how to use it up as fast as possible. Let's sprawl the suburbs out even farther! So smart!
posted by fartknocker at 9:43 PM on June 2, 2011


BTW, if you don't understand fully just how ridiculous this article is, I strongly recommend you play a really great game, with a very high user rating... as high as Portal 2 or GTA: Vice City.

It's a surprisingly detailed game, with a climate model based on the research of Prof. Myles Allen of Oxford University. And it's incredibly frustrating and challenging too, because it's *DAMN* hard to prevent Really Bad Things from happening, without getting people to give up their coal and oil... and, ideally, to wean themselves off of natural gas.

I thought for awhile that I might win my last game... if only another few billion people were able to die off, before everyone turned against me.
posted by markkraft at 9:50 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Canada is jumping into fracking in a big way. The oil companies are making their moves fast, because they know there's no way in hell the public is okay with it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I couldn't finish the original article, but I did read his rebuttal to Andrew Leonard, and as soon as he stops talking about how many photons the sun showers on the earth and starts talking about politics, he is right on. Things may be possible technically, (e.g., it sounds like an excellent repurposing for Arizona), but as long as the foundation of society rests on capital accumulation and Mr. Leonard's "free market" it simply will not be done. Particularly well taken are his remarks about what a resource-constrained society would be like politically. Markkraft is right, we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that. But politically its not yet on the table.
posted by carping demon at 10:03 PM on June 2, 2011


I don't mean to say that Markkraft is advocating such a thing.
posted by carping demon at 10:04 PM on June 2, 2011


we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that.

You first?
posted by wilful at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2011


Technically that would be a possibility. But politically, no so much.
posted by carping demon at 10:22 PM on June 2, 2011


Lind is an attention-seeking buffoon, and his writings are contemptible.
posted by anadem at 10:30 PM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that

I think this problem will eventually take care of itself the old fashioned way......war famine and disease. God forbid we educate people and encourage family planning and woman's rights.

The earth will survive, it will end up as a post-humanity earth though.
posted by dibblda at 11:13 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes -- a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it."

Someone wrote this with a straight face? World governments are being lazy about tackling climate change because probability distributions tend to have tails??
posted by edd at 11:25 PM on June 2, 2011


Inhabitants of the world of 2500 to us: FUUUCKK YOUUUUUUuuuuu
posted by gonna get a dog at 11:28 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Avian collisions with wind turbines brings together data from wind turbine avian mirtality studies with data for avian mortality in other areas. It suggests estimated bird deaths annually up to 2001 were:

• Vehicles: 60 million - 80 million
• Buildings and Windows: 98 million - 980 million
• Powerlines: tens of thousands - 174 million
• Communication Towers: 4 million - 50 million
• Wind Generation Facilities: 10,000 - 40,000

There are quite a few reports out there, many of them behind journal pay walls unfortunately.
posted by biffa at 1:10 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm really glad there are no fossil fuels under London.
posted by Summer at 2:46 AM on June 3, 2011


we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that.

You first?

I did my part by not reproducing. technically, it's not that hard.
posted by Abinadab at 5:19 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Splunge: "What a load of fraking gas."

Or perhaps, 'What a load of fracking gas'.
posted by bwg at 5:42 AM on June 3, 2011


we need several billion fewer people on the earth

I'm so sick of this bullshit. I presume what is meant is that the only way to deal with our environmental, economic and societal problems is mass-sterilisation. Or just waiting for the poor people to die. The US consumes around a quarter of the world's energy, yeah? I can think of a similar solution that would suit most of us pretty well.

Or we grow up, stop with these depopulation fantasies and deal with the problem of our inefficient overconsumption like adults. Obviously it's a political problem, but that means looking for political solutions, not just shrugging our shoulders and waiting for a wave of disasters to reorder the agenda.
posted by howfar at 6:05 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that.

You know who else tried to depopulate the world....
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:13 AM on June 3, 2011


Harold Camping?
posted by biffa at 6:35 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here we go with that tired routine we bring out any time someone mentions overpopulation. We're not going to solve the population problem, so we can put our Hitlers away.

The way to "control population" is to allow natural constraints to keep it in check. Prevention is the only plausible way to manage such a large scale process with a long feedback time frame (much like climate change). We failed to prevent overpopulation—specifically, the diplomacy of the US and other industrial nations has involved over-producing food and selling it to nations whose populations would otherwise have been constrained by food availability like all other organisms.

That we have sabotaged this natural process vividly illustrates the failure of modernity. As with fracking, nuclear power and anthropogenic climate change, the world population explosion is born of our collective inclination to egoistic fantasy and a profound misunderstanding of man's place in the natural world.

The best thing that can come of the few difficult centuries ahead of us is that we manage somehow to learn from the disaster we've caused, and that we find a way to maintain that wisdom in perpetuity.

On preview: LOL Harold Camping!
posted by maniabug at 6:44 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fracking is going to frack up Pennsylvania in a major way. Gov Corbett said that he wants to turn PA into Texas, but with shale drilling instead of oil. But taxing the companies who are hungry to destroy? Oh, terrible idea. Let's cut funding to public schools and university by 1/2 instead.

For reals, this is what he is doing. He is a very bad man.
posted by angrycat at 6:59 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Markkraft is right, we need several billion fewer people on the earth. Technically we could accomplish that."

Just to clarify what Markkraft was saying... BAD THINGS were happening in the game by 2100. There was a very serious economic collapse that had led to global famine. I had already implemented a "one child per family" educational program in China and India, along with educational programs, and population was already decreasing in those nations... but in retrospect, population growth wasn't the worst problem, as compared to the climate forcing effects of deforestation, melting polar ice, release of methane from frozen tundra, etc. Those effects were very hard to stop, without acting very fast, very early.

What we should be doing IRL, ASAP, to avoid the worst effects of global warming, is:
1> Energy efficiency.
2> Forest conservation and replanting.
3> Biochar. (Hell... we should encourage the homeless and jobless to help.)
4> Expanding nuclear and working towards more efficient reactors, with some thought as to fuel diversity, as there are limited supplies of uranium.
5> Encourage using natural gas over oil and coal -- yes, there will be fracking... -- but charge a premium on ALL of the above, so as to subsidize actual renewable energy and CO2-reducing programs, and give green energy a chance to be cost-effective.
6> Switch to electric vehicles in a very big way.
7> Restrict air travel through higher taxes, while encouraging greener alternatives.
8> Serious, targeted research. We need to find greener, more efficient ways to get ourselves out of this mess.
9> While we do need serious efforts to make existing coal plants more efficient, we should probably stop building new coal plants, unless it means taking older, less efficient plants down at the same time.
10> Charge extra for meat, and use that money to subsidize vegetables. Have state programs that encourage people to grow their own veggies locally too, as in Cuba. You should *NOT* be able to buy chicken on sale for 89 cents a pound, while paying $2.50 for five ears of corn. This is wrong, and if you can't see why it's wrong, well... that's your problem. The meat you eat should cost what it really costs.

A lot of the core of the problem is that green energy isn't efficient and inexpensive enough yet. All this rush to get at natural gas is only giving us inexpensive natural gas... which hurts efforts to increase solar and wind energy. Yes, it's helpful to reduce coal emissions and save oil, perhaps... but I have to wonder whether it is going to be a costly distraction in the long run, as we need to reduce emissions ASAP.

Those who think that global warming is something far off that can be ignored for now aren't looking at the climate forcing effects that we already know are getting significantly worse in the short term. You can't expect to cut down all the trees, melt the polar ice, and let the methane from frozen tundra bubble up and have things not get substantially worse... runaway steam train worse, really.
posted by markkraft at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow, I wish I could believe...ANY of this.

Sadly, the moment he started talking about the actions of politicians as proof that global warming isn't a big deal was where I was sure he was just full of shit. He presupposes that politicians know what they're doing and/or have anything other than "how do I win the next election?" in mind.

The world would be so much more awesome if things were really this simple. I imagine he lives a really stress-free life.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:02 AM on June 3, 2011


I did my part by not reproducing. technically, it's not that hard.

Maybe for you. I reproduce by budding. It's kind of out of my control.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory: what the frack?
posted by azarbayejani at 10:00 AM on June 3, 2011


Future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:14 AM on June 3, 2011


The core of the problem is that our habits have developed in the presence of cheap energy, and therefore we waste energy terribly. We have to go back to a less energy intensive way of life, and that means accepting what the modern would consider third-world such as intermittent and limited availability of "necessities" like electricity, private transportation, and air conditioning. Our national mode of wishing for some magical "efficiency" or "clean nuclear" to save us from that awful fate is only keeping us in denial.

Markkraft, you're right on target about the meat subsidies. True-cost economics should be practiced throughout the market, not just in the meat department.

Also, eat the vegetables rather than making liquid fuel out of them.
posted by maniabug at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2011


Mr. Lind what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 12:59 PM on June 3, 2011


« Older Mind Reading: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the...  |  Introducing HTML11. The future... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments