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viddaloo

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Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« on: October 06, 2014, 01:10:13 AM »
Økosof / ecophilosopher and world famous Norwegian professor of philosophy Arne Næss (1912-2009) often said he was an optimist for the 22nd century, stressing that things had to get a hell of a lot worse before getting better.

Næss says in his Ecosophy T in the final of his famous Eight Points, that anyone who acknowledges the previous points has an obligation to go out and seek change, and to be the change. Domestically he argues that young eco-activists have an obligation to be the speartip of change, using civil disobedience, eco-sabotage and NVDA - non-violent direct action - in order to change the course of human history.

Changing a whole society from its collision course with the ecosystems is obviously a very slow process. Yet it's not slow simply because Things Take Time. It is painstakingly slow primarily because status quo powers are in a position to define the nature of our challenges. Because they decide and shape science (yup, even science is corruptable) and primarily the way science is presented to the general public through our mass media.

So it's not just a matter of taking a few extra decades implementing the changes that impatient environmentalists want implemented NOW, it is more like using the careful least drama scenarios from 20 years ago when finally starting a minute transition of fatal emissions 20 years down the road.

A natural reaction for a human being - even for an environmentally minded human being - is to embrace what little change there is to the ecocidal course of the corporate elite. We need optimism, they say, in order to change things, together with the criminal corporate elites and polluticians. Realists who point out how late they come and how minute and inadequate these changes are, are easily excluded and made into scapegoats: They are of course right, but they say things the public does NOT want to hear. Not now. Not any time.

Embracing Darkness and embracing our darkest thoughts and feelings does, however, have its merits. If we can reason without fear - and some of us do have that rare skill - we can more adequately see the whole picture - not just the pleasant parts - and figure out where this ship is heading.  The course is virtually locked on collapse and ecocide. That is the hard truth. The truth we'd all face if we dared look closely. Which means it is the truth (denial doesn't change reality, if anyone thought so).

Yet, civilizational collapse and ecocide are in fact two very different things. True, they are related and may very well occur at the same time. But the degree of ecocide, or the completeness of the distruction of life on Earth, may vary depending on the nature and timing of the collapse of civilization. In a nutshell, an earlier collapse of civilization could mean less hardship for all the other living beings on this planet.

I believe the great ecophilosopher Næss had these things in mind when he said he was an optimist for the 22nd century. There will be a crash, and it will be utterly devastating, but it won't be the end of all life. At least not in a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.

Life will return, evolve, florish and expand on a constantly greening planet!
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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2014, 02:39:10 AM »
Life will return, evolve, florish and expand on a constantly greening planet!

Until the sun gets too hot.

Frankly though I view the question of precisely when and how collapse sets in (and it arguably already is in some places, let our soft western lifestyles not insulate us from others too much, lest be be blind) as somewhat irrelevant. No action I can take is likely to materially affect the state of play in this sense and hence it is a waste of mental effort (let alone physical effort or whatnot) to direct energy in that direction.

What is under my control, however, is what I do in the event of collapse. I very much can exert control and influence on that scale, and hence focus my efforts there.

I also find virtually nobody seems willing to address that particular niche of thought - either they are of the mentality they must remain with the herd as it struggles (and likely fails), or they are of the mentality that all is doom and there is no hope.

Why is the middle ground so sparse?

Our distant ancestors spread out into the world armed with little more than fire and pointy sticks, and from those origins everything we are and everything we have done came. It doesn't have to be that hard to start again if all else fails. What is surely hard is to avoid repeating the endlessly iterated mistakes of the past (and I don't agree all past civilisations fell because of resource depletion, some fell due to strictly external climatic shifts, and others due to hostile competition from other groups of people).

Some of the ancient civilisations ran for thousands of years before failure. We are nowhere near those levels of longevity in the modern age. Surely with the right attitudes, we could make something better though - even if it is now impossible to avoid a collapse in this iteration?

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2014, 02:52:38 AM »
Well, another great Norwegian ecosophist, Peter Wessel Zapffe, who died just before I discovered him at University, says in a nutshell that man's tragedy lies in his overdevelopment. We are simply too skillful for this world.

While I agree with what you say about climate change ending some former civilizations, my view is that the longevity of some of those iterations without destroying everything, wasn't for the lack of trying. They simply didn't know they could burn coal or split atoms to kill their enemies. Had they known it, they would have done it. It's so easy to romanticize previous attempts to destroy everything.

Basically I agree with Zapffe: We're too clever.
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Laurent

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2014, 09:38:33 AM »
We'd better be very clever and find a way to absorb CO2 (efficiently and cheaply) and (or) other gazes very quickly. Trees will help (may be if they can survive what is coming) and a no till farming with low energy (mean without big tractors, little solar powered robots). I don't know if solar concentration could help in that process ?

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2014, 02:44:41 PM »
We'd better be very clever and find a way to absorb CO2 (efficiently and cheaply) and (or) other gazes very quickly. Trees will help (may be if they can survive what is coming) and a no till farming with low energy (mean without big tractors, little solar powered robots). I don't know if solar concentration could help in that process ?

So let's predicate our existence and future upon a fantastic technology that isn't invented yet? Sounds like a wonderful plan to me... particularly if you ignore the nasty mathematics.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2014, 05:05:13 PM »
Ccg, I think Laurent is at least pointed in the right direction. O.K. the robots are stretching it.
Without trying to figure out what to do with everybody else how do we as individuals choose the best  (for the planet/Gia ), way forward? How do we measure our action? I would suggest lifestyles that embrace human powered tools and farming/horticulture are the best way to avoid contributing to a large individual carbon footprint. For all the ways one might add to carbon sequestration potential of the planet planting long lived trees and vines is one of the most obvious. If those trees and vines produce food calories then in addition to carbon sequestration you get energy. Energy as food can then power more planting, more C sequestration ,and ultimately another little farmer someday. A cycle that benefits other life. We do not however plan our lives around a life of planting ,eating, and measuring the carbon benefits thereof.
 I bought a steel nutcracker , 6.8 kilos. Converting the energy investment to manufacture the nutcracker into kilocalories gives you a figure of ~ 32,660 KCal.
So yesterday I cracked and separated 9 pounds of acorn meat yielding about 15,840 KCal of food.
The acorns were collected and transported on foot so the imbedded energy in the steel can be paid back in less than two days and then you own a tool that can in one day  provide enough food calories to feed you for over a week. You could of course smack the acorns with a rock and save the
32,660KCal investment but just try to crack and shell all those acorns for years to come.If every action and tool were put through the same analysis we would at least have a way to judge how to proceed. I do think at an individual level a human can contribute to net sequestration. Those planted trees and vines do need to survive for long periods to really do much good. Well worth the effort , short on other methods.
 It is early in the morning and the embracing the darkness part comes soon enough, but for now.     
 
   

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2014, 06:39:05 PM »
Ccg, I think Laurent is at least pointed in the right direction. O.K. the robots are stretching it.
Without trying to figure out what to do with everybody else how do we as individuals choose the best  (for the planet/Gia ), way forward? How do we measure our action? I would suggest lifestyles that embrace human powered tools and farming/horticulture are the best way to avoid contributing to a large individual carbon footprint. For all the ways one might add to carbon sequestration potential of the planet planting long lived trees and vines is one of the most obvious. If those trees and vines produce food calories then in addition to carbon sequestration you get energy. Energy as food can then power more planting, more C sequestration ,and ultimately another little farmer someday. A cycle that benefits other life. We do not however plan our lives around a life of planting ,eating, and measuring the carbon benefits thereof.

I might have been a little hasty to be hostile perhaps, I read his comment as hoping for some grand techno-optimistic fix - and really, I don't think there is one in that sense. The quantity of carbon dioxide that would need to be somehow captured is immense, the energy requirements to do so greater than that obtained putting it up there in the first place, and the timescales limited. The best methods are almost certainly those the natural world has spent hundreds of millions of years developing.

That particular problem to me is thorny, considering the tons of carbon each person globally (billions) is dumping into the atmosphere, what would it look like for people to sequester personally the same carbon they emitted? That's an awful lot of biochar, for example. And most fixes are shorter term storage as the carbon is always being cycled (long lived trees are surely good though - for other reasons too - and if memory serves even old forests can still be actively sinking carbon).

Certainly it seems to me our only chance to sequester the carbon in such a way would be to find some way to amplify our efforts using the natural world and it's hard to see what could do so much so fast with so much of the natural world already running flat out with what we're emitting (not to mention our continued erosion of the natural world in question, eg deforestation).

I bought a steel nutcracker , 6.8 kilos. Converting the energy investment to manufacture the nutcracker into kilocalories gives you a figure of ~ 32,660 KCal.
So yesterday I cracked and separated 9 pounds of acorn meat yielding about 15,840 KCal of food.
The acorns were collected and transported on foot so the imbedded energy in the steel can be paid back in less than two days and then you own a tool that can in one day  provide enough food calories to feed you for over a week. You could of course smack the acorns with a rock and save the
32,660KCal investment but just try to crack and shell all those acorns for years to come.If every action and tool were put through the same analysis we would at least have a way to judge how to proceed. I do think at an individual level a human can contribute to net sequestration. Those planted trees and vines do need to survive for long periods to really do much good. Well worth the effort , short on other methods.
 It is early in the morning and the embracing the darkness part comes soon enough, but for now.     

And a stainless or exotic material nutcracker could last almost indefinitely (assuming you're talking mild steel, though the problem today if of course that the market selects against making goods too durable). Whether or not an individual can contribute to net sequestration currently I think is a little complicated. Certainly it is possible in theory - but for most westerners it would be extremely problematic due to the emissions embodied in our lifestyles that we can't directly affect.

To me the most promising route to sequestration is through farming practices and the incorporation of biochar into the soil (I guess trees also count as a farming practice). That would have a cumulative effect, can bring other benefits, and would scale with population if rigorously adopted.

In any event, I think we're all looking to the same ultimate outcome - the destination should be the same regardless of it one puts a collapse cycle in the middle or not. We have to operate within sustainable parameters, and preferably still achieve the ability to progress and develop as a species (longevity alone is an insufficient goal - earthworms have been around for something like a hundred million years if memory serves, and I wouldn't be in a hurry to want to be one).

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2014, 08:04:15 PM »
Laurent speaks for himself, but I think he was being ironic :)

The ironic part being we're so g-d clever, and yet we cannot figure out how to live in harmony with Earth, like every other species knows how to. A sad paradox, but absolutely in line with Zapffe's thinking.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2014, 08:24:36 PM »
Viddaloo   I know I'm going sideways here.. I will try to read some Zapffe but I was excited about my nutcracker., Ccg, If I were to run the same calculation and anywhere include f/f transportation the calorie calculations get ugly. So since f/f transport is such an integral part of everyones expectations there is a problem with scaling the embedded C / food calorie return numbers. If transportation expectations can be challenged and run thru the same EROEI justifications that I ran on the nutcracker then of course things would work out differently than our current civilization(not) We will find even small electrics difficult to justify without some prioritization schedule to somehow work down the embedded energy costs. How to do that?
How to do that for everyone? Not enough room for most people. Rail and Ships can with volume  achieve efficiencies that would probably  justify certain hubs /cities but so much changes when you actually have to justify energy use. Everything would have to be different including our expectations.
 Maybe though with well chosen tools and a good location it might be possible to construct something that approaches a working model. Something efficient and durable. The parts and pieces each considered separately but something you could stand up as something that someone  might copy.
Hell I don't know ,the nutcracker is the first tool that has ever performed so well in the energy
number test . I would think other food processing , cultivating tools , bicycles , small solar / battery construction tools , looms, etc. would also perform. Honestly though as I look about the room,
too big, too frivolous, or not utilized. 
 
     
   
   

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2014, 08:45:41 PM »
Quote
We will find even small electrics difficult to justify without some prioritization schedule to somehow work down the embedded energy costs.

Seems like you're thinking fossil fuels when you think about energy.

We're in the early days of moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  Each day we have more clean energy on line, energy from a source that won't run out or get used up in the next few billion years.

With renewable energy the old EROEI worry simply dissipates.  EROEI was important back when we had no viable options other than fossil fuel which were "short years" finite.  Now we're moving to an energy source which for all practical purposes is infinite.

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2014, 08:53:14 PM »
Viddaloo   I know I'm going sideways here.. I will try to read some Zapffe but I was excited about my nutcracker.

Actually I think the nutcracker sounds pretty exciting too - pretty good for a single purpose specialised tool... and without much abrasion I bet it lasts a very long time - even longer than a humble knife, for instance.

How to do that for everyone? Not enough room for most people. Rail and Ships can with volume  achieve efficiencies that would probably  justify certain hubs /cities but so much changes when you actually have to justify energy use. Everything would have to be different including our expectations.

It's that "including our expectations" bit that's the problem really. I personally think it's actually technologically feasible to do it all - but within the guise of a growth focussed consumption capitalist society? No chance in hell. That's before you stack up the inherent problems already committed to be coped with, and a socioeconomic elite dogmatically clinging to the system that they like (and taking the bulk of the population along compliantly with them).

Maybe though with well chosen tools and a good location it might be possible to construct something that approaches a working model. Something efficient and durable. The parts and pieces each considered separately but something you could stand up as something that someone  might copy.

When it comes to tools - I think the Vikings (if memory serves) show a model - iron from bog ore was so scarce and hard to obtain that tools were really valued. That gets durability into being a must have goal. The problem is how do you get those values without apparent scarcity? It's one thing for it to be enforced through necessity, quite another for it to be ideologically enforced to assure future supplies for the long term.

The only way I see such paradigms working is if they are indoctrinated (almost religiously) into a population, such that the socioeconomic elites and masses alike follow that way of life without necessarily understanding why or wondering what else there might be - really the same as today of course, just a different paradigm embedded.

If one simultaneously destroys all those who exhibit contrary behaviour (particularly in this context where it is an attack upon people of the future who cannot defend themselves) and export the same values as aggressively as the existing paradigm did - perhaps there is an ultimate possibility there.

I get that the idea isn't totally pretty, but I haven't thought of anything better yet. I think we have to swap our valuations of today and tomorrow, so that tomorrow is more valuable. In such a way we would aspire to create a virtuous circle of always making tomorrow better, instead of sacrificing it for today - and our descendants would reap the fruits for as long as they stuck to the path.

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2014, 08:53:28 PM »
The nutcracker is great! I think thinking about what tools you want to have handy post-collapse is a crucial thing. Is it still possible to buy simple stuff that will last a century with little or no (advanced) maintenance? In such a world energy calculations will only be important in the same way that they are to a wolf, walking backfeet in the tracks of the forefeet and always in a straight line (no ups and downs or messing around like a dog) in order to save enough energy to get to another kill/meal. Lots to be learnt from the wolf!
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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2014, 08:58:18 PM »
In such a way we would aspire to create a virtuous circle of always making tomorrow better, instead of sacrificing it for today - and our descendants would reap the fruits for as long as they stuck to the path.

And if you don't mind my borrowing the nutcracker momentarily, this model ultimately creates sufficient nutcrackers of sufficient durability that the productive efforts of a society are not continually bent into replacing broken or discarded ones, and can thus advance still while retaining a much better resource/consumption profile.

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2014, 09:00:03 PM »
The nutcracker is great! I think thinking about what tools you want to have handy post-collapse is a crucial thing. Is it still possible to buy simple stuff that will last a century with little or no (advanced) maintenance?

Of course it's still possible, but the moment you tool yourself up such that you can last a century and declare your problems solved - that is the moment you have committed the sins of our ancestors and damned your descendants.

Your first tool must thus be how to provide tools for them, while your own survival is a key pre-requisite to having descendants, your survival is worthless to them if you don't solve at least the same problems for them.

That's the problem with survivalists per se. You have to escape the thinking that led us into this trap, not replicate it.

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2014, 09:04:50 PM »
For the record; I'm European and thus not part of any 'survivalist' subculture elsewhere. But I am intent on surviving the cataclysm and creating safety for my folks.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2014, 09:07:16 PM »
Quote
Your first tool must thus be how to provide tools for them, while your own survival is a key pre-requisite to having descendants, your survival is worthless to them if you don't solve at least the same problems for them.

Then get more solar panels on the grid.  We know they last for at least 40 years and have no reason to suspect they will suddenly die.  At age 100 they should be producing from 60% to 90% as much electricity as when new.

If we do a good enough job we will prevent collapse and create a clean energy source for those who follow us.

Sweet, eh?

A well-made knife won't last 100 years of sharpening.

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2014, 09:48:49 PM »
For the record; I'm European and thus not part of any 'survivalist' subculture elsewhere. But I am intent on surviving the cataclysm and creating safety for my folks.

Huh? I'm European too, and? Everyone is a survivalist at heart - it's called being alive - although of course in this context I did mean people preparing personal and immediate family supplies without a thought of future production of same for their long term descendants and wider society (no single set of "follks" is sufficient).

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2014, 09:52:59 PM »
Then get more solar panels on the grid.  We know they last for at least 40 years and have no reason to suspect they will suddenly die.  At age 100 they should be producing from 60% to 90% as much electricity as when new.

If we do a good enough job we will prevent collapse and create a clean energy source for those who follow us.

Sweet, eh?

If it worked out that way, sure, it'd be great. I'm all for solar power, provided finite resources for future generations are not being unsustainably depleted to do it. It's incredibly stupid that our species took the detour into fossil energy that it did given there were solar concentration based power outputs running over a century ago (they were replaced in the application I'm thinking of by coal). Actually I'm on the brink of being 100% solar powered in my "household", excepting when I'm running hungry tools like the welder or plasma cutter.

A well-made knife won't last 100 years of sharpening.

My mother has at least one (that wasn't always hers) that would beg to differ. Much of course depends how often and aggressively you sharpen it and what you use it for (this one is used often for carving meat, and sharpened infrequently).

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2014, 10:09:27 PM »
Quote
. It's incredibly stupid that our species took the detour into fossil energy that it did given there were solar concentration based power outputs running over a century ago

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  However it seems to seldom work until afterwards.

A century ago oil and coal were so cheap and easy to extract that they pushed other energy sources aside. 

We made a very major mistake electing Reagan and putting him the position to destroy our move away from fossil fuels.  If we hadn't fallen for his phony-baloney we'd likely had affordable PV and EVs much, much sooner.  But we can't go back an undo our mistakes.  We have to start with where we are and move forward.

Laurent

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2014, 09:23:37 AM »
There was no irony in my words, it is a paradox that we have to resolve, we want to reduce and even bury carbon in our every day life but we are still consuming much more than we should.

Thinking about optimism, I would be optimist when the 3 main religions of the world and the others behind, start to acknoledge climate disruption and send a clear signal to everybody that population decrease is a prerequisite to solve our problem. When they would ask people to stop reproduce like rabbits and adopt some rules to regulate our numbers.

About the robots, I am just dreaming of a small robot ( 80 cm x 90 cm around 30 kg). The frame could be made with bamboo, the weel would be 20 inches in diameter. Powered by a solar panel (with a little battery or a supercondensator or without). Controled by a microcontroller like arduino or a little computer like cubietruck following predifined path with a gps traker.
http://www.cubietruck.com/
http://www.arduino.cc/
The motor like a bycicle : http://en.cycloboost.com/kit-bike-electric-smart-pie-goldenmotor-7007.html
The idea is to have an array of grass cutter (high or low speed) that would unweed, the cut weeds would either droped or sent on a line that will rote and prepare a bed for seeding. Then let the weeds grow again, drop the seeds and cover with the one you just shopped. The plant will grow and again the robot would unweed between the growing plants.

I don't know if it will work, like Bruce said it, calculation of the EROI has to be done for that and everything else.
We can also use the tractors that we had before (I am less sure of the carbon neutrality), there is an association that does a good job in France. they are promoting a tool that makes it easier to change the tools on a tractor like that video shows.
http://www.latelierpaysan.org/outils/tous-les-outils/triangle-d-attelage.html

Bruce, do you have a few photos of your nutcraker to show us, please ?

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2014, 09:32:20 AM »
Why use robots when you've got millions upon millions of unemployed people? Who's gonna build and repare those robots? Who will transport them back (half a continent?) for repairs?
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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2014, 09:53:20 AM »
Because I already tryed to farm manually and I don't want personnally continue that way (If you want...help yourself).
It would be made as to be repaired locally, with a few tools, that would be done by a not so skilled technician, mean nearly everybody that wants to have a look.
A little robot, does not mean there is no work to do, there is still plenty of things to do for unemployed people.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 10:14:26 AM by Laurent »

Bruce Steele

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2014, 05:02:58 PM »
http://www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Fall2012/AcornBread/tabid/2280/Default.aspx

Here is an article on a larger effort at acorn processing with the Davebilt Nutcracker. I tried some black walnuts and it does crack them also. The beauty is with the rate it can get through acorns.
Like the article says the cracked acorns can be dumped in a bucket of water and the shells float.
I wish all nuts worked that way but walnut shells , both English and Black ,sink with the meats.
I think the Davebilt nutcracker can easily last a lifetime of acorn seasons. Like Ccg says  rust never sleeps so regular cleaning will stretch the longevity.
 Someone on a foraging webpage mentioned Davebilt in an acorn discussion online.
Optimism for the 22nd Century-

 

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2014, 10:35:37 PM »
If people are taught that political and scientific progress (or God) has climate change action under control, they are less likely to take any action on their own.  So, bad news is helpful in that respect.

IMO, a point can be made that 'bad news' like a 2015 September meltdown is helpful for both starting rapid large-scale climate action (low probability) and reaching an early collapse of civilization (high probability).

[I know Sigmetnow commented in another thread, but it made sense here.]
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2014, 11:01:50 PM »
We're seeing the beginnings of what looks to me to be "rapid large-scale climate action".

My probability assignment is pretty different than yours.

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2014, 11:29:21 PM »
Bob, it seems you and I disagree on the meaning of most words, like 'rapid' and 'large-scale' in this latest case. Maybe taking a walk on the 'dark side' can help you see things more clearly?
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2014, 12:00:11 AM »
I've been seeing people predict the "dark side" for my entire life.  I remember disheveled men carrying signs saying "The End is Nigh" well over 50 years ago.  They all turned out to be wrong, even the ones who made their predictions based on some sort of rational argument (Y2K, for example).

Too much "Wolf!!!" crying.  Credibility shot.

There's no reason that we have to crash our civilization due to climate change.  We have the technology that will let us avoid the worst changes, it's become very affordable, and we're starting to utilize it at accelerating rates.

Taking a walk on the dark side is the last thing any of us need to do.  We do need to understand what allowing the dark side to occur would mean.  And then use that understanding to encourage us to work harder to avoid failure.

I suspect those choosing to walk on the dark side are not taking any time to see what the light side is up to....


Lucas Durand

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2014, 12:45:53 AM »
Bob,
Putting your endless assertions aside for a moment, it will be interesting to see what you have to say IF you are wrong.

Will you admit that the species you belong to isn't all you thought it was cracked up to be?
Or will you find someone or something to blame for all the reasons your predictions never came true?

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2014, 01:22:08 AM »
To quote an ex-friend and -activist, who now works for an oil company with a seafood logo:
Quote
Come over to the Dark Side! We have cookies.
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ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2014, 02:14:24 AM »
Too much "Wolf!!!" crying.  Credibility shot.

Guess what though?

In the end the wolf really did come.

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2014, 02:53:44 AM »
Fair point. The wolf came in the end according to old Æsop.

And in that fable, the same boy had been screaming wolf way too often. Note the word 'same'.

The argument in this thread is that civilization simply cannot collapse, because all kinds of religious whackos in the past have said that the world would end. If this was a rational argument, we could save civilization for eternity simply by paying a bunch of people to go out and say the world will end on this and that date. Them being obviously wrong would somehow 'convince' the climate system to behave predictably and, well, civilized, for thousands of years.

What I've found is that the quality of the arguments of the detractors of various theories says a lot about the soundness of the theories themselves.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #31 on: October 09, 2014, 04:18:41 AM »
Bob,
Putting your endless assertions aside for a moment, it will be interesting to see what you have to say IF you are wrong.

Will you admit that the species you belong to isn't all you thought it was cracked up to be?
Or will you find someone or something to blame for all the reasons your predictions never came true?

My assertion that we have the technology we need to get off fossil fuels and stop most our CO2 releases?  That's no assertion.  That's fact.

My assertion that the technology we need is affordable?  Again, no assertion.  Fact.

Now, look back through everything I've ever written.  See if you can find a single time that I've asserted, stated as a fact, that we would avoid extreme climate change.  I can save you the effort, I've never made such a statement.

I have said that it within our ability to avoid extreme climate change, based on my understanding of climate science.  And I think we're ramping up the changes we need to make to hit the IPCC 40% to 70% CO2 reduction by 2050 window.

In short, I'm predicting nothing.  Humans could fail and fail miserably.  Or there could be an unknown unknown that will block our way. 

No, I'll make one prediction.  I will predict that if we do not try we will fail.

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #32 on: October 09, 2014, 04:47:21 AM »
No, I'll make one prediction.  I will predict that if we do not try we will fail.

Just to state the most glaringly obvious in this context: We have tried, and failed miserably as a species.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #33 on: October 09, 2014, 05:01:26 AM »
Well, some members of our species certainly are failures.

But as a species in whole, we ain't done yet.

viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #34 on: October 09, 2014, 05:12:17 AM »
Bob, the Greenhouse Effect was discovered and journaled in the 1820s. Since then we've done nothing but pack increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. We've tried very hard to destroy everything while pretending to be astonished by consequence. So in that sense our species succeded.
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Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2014, 06:02:25 AM »
No, we have not tried hard to destroy everything.  That is hyperbole.

We have used fossil fuels because they were available and they were cheap. 

A few decades back some scientists began to realize that we were creating a problem.  Since then we have disseminated that information widely so that most people (at least in developed countries) now understand.

And we've recently developed the technology that allows us to get off fossil fuels without lowering our lifestyles. 

And even more recently, in the last very few years, we've made that technology affordable/cheap.

Now we will either make the transition over to renewable energy or we won't.  I can't think of a legitimate reason why we won't.   The only issue I see is how much more pain we will put on our plates due to moving at less than optimal speed.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #36 on: October 09, 2014, 07:14:28 AM »
But as a species in whole, we ain't done yet.

Exactly.
We'll be done when we've turned everything on this planet into something that makes us happy and our waste becomes our new environment.

Things are changing certainly, but the big dumb hive must change its behaviour - can it?
We had this same argument a long time ago and some things haven't changed since then.
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #37 on: October 09, 2014, 08:11:49 AM »
We changed from walking to riding animals to riding in cars.

We changed from row boats to sail to steam to bunker fuel.

We changed from sitting around in the dark to fire to candles to oil lamps to electric light.

Seems like the big dumb hive changes its behavior.  What is unknown in this situation is rate of change.

Change too slow - cook ourselves.
Change at a moderate rate - set up the people who follow us for some moderate pain.
Change ASAP - minimize our pain and make it easier for the next set of people to dial things back (assuming someone invents the dial back machine).

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2014, 07:38:09 PM »
We changed from walking to riding animals to riding in cars.

We changed from row boats to sail to steam to bunker fuel.

We changed from sitting around in the dark to fire to candles to oil lamps to electric light.

Seems like the big dumb hive changes its behavior.  What is unknown in this situation is rate of change.

And yet all your changes point in one direction - towards decreasing sustainability.

A thing that cannot be sustained dies. It's pretty simple really.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2014, 09:03:04 PM »
OK, we moved from whale oil to electric light.  Electric light from renewables is sustainable.

(You do realize that you made a major topic shift, don't you?)

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2014, 10:24:15 PM »
OK, we moved from whale oil to electric light.  Electric light from renewables is sustainable.

You make that assumption, because sunlight is sustainable (for long enough for our purposes at least).

But can you show a scientifically sound study showing renewable energy is sustainable in the quantities required in terms of the resources required to manufacture the panels? Whether or not a behaviour is sustainble is more complicated than one might think. Using whale oil could have been done sustainably if the whales were not overharvested - whale oil is in principle a renewable resource (which is more than can be said for some of the resources required to manufacture solar panels).

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #41 on: October 09, 2014, 10:53:04 PM »
Whale oil was not sustainable.  It wasn't available in the quantities we would need for the number of people who would like some light at night.  We damn near did in the whales and it wasn't because we were feasting on blubber.

OK, renewables. I'm not going to bother digging up any studies.  I'm just going to ask you to apply a bit of common sense. 

What do we use to make solar panels?  A tiny bit of sand for the photosensitive portion.  Some more sand for a glass cover.  Some aluminum for the frame.  A bit of silver or other conductive material.  Some plastic for the connector box (could be a bio-plastic).  And just about everything in the panel is reusable after the panel puts in its 100 to 200 years of service.  (We really don't know how long solar panels will last.  They're basically a thin slice of rock underneath a glass cover.  And we know glass can last for hundreds of years.)

What do we use to make wind turbines?  Steel, copper, and some other metals which are reusable.  Concrete for the footings.  If we every get short of basic materials for the concrete we can go to metal footings.  Blade materials.  We know how to make epoxy from plant materials.


ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #42 on: October 10, 2014, 03:17:03 AM »
OK, renewables. I'm not going to bother digging up any studies.  I'm just going to ask you to apply a bit of common sense. 

I'm asking you to use common sense. Even sand and iron are not infinite in supply.

There are a surprising number of key commodities we require that have peaks between now and the end of this century.

It's all very well to wave your hands in the air and presume we can build an arbitrary number of anything we like, a little hocus pocus abracadabra - and voila - we have all the solar panels, electric cars, wind turbines, etc that we would need - but that isn't the world we live in.

Even if it was - resource constraints are a real issue and to be sustainable, it is not sufficient to be able to show your solution is good for decades - or even centuries. It has to be good much longer than that - if not almost indefinitely, or else you will always be relying upon unproven and uncertain solutions that your descendants must find in their futures. Clearly that gamble is statistically not likely to work forever.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #43 on: October 10, 2014, 03:29:28 AM »
You are right.

When the World runs of of sand we can count on civilization crashing.

I better start stocking up on dried beans and crossbow bolts.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #44 on: October 10, 2014, 05:47:55 AM »
You are right.

Sarcasm doesn't enhance your argument. In fact, it very substantially detracts from it in my view.

When the World runs of of sand we can count on civilization crashing.

I better start stocking up on dried beans and crossbow bolts.

I'm being deadly serious - sand is a finite resource that is renewed only over slow timescales. You predicate the future of our species upon infinite supplies of resources, and you damn us all to a miserable indefinite future as those resources deplete. You support a system that consumes rampantly, burning up human quality of life for countless generations to come, stealing from our descendants.

You present no rational counter-arguments - only mocking comments.

Here are a few links - can any reasonable person read them and conclude that sand is infinite or not a resource of interest? Can anyone read them and argue that there aren't serious impacts on the environment of the sand we are already mining?

http://na.unep.net/geas/getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=110
http://www.ejolt.org/2014/08/building-an-economy-on-quicksand/
http://www.academia.edu/7988126/Pauer_Peak_Sand_On_the_Limits_of_Resource_Extraction_Urbanisms_in_the_Straits_of_Singapore_Critical_Planning_20_UCLA_Planning_Journal_The_Future_2013_

Sure, solar panels probably aren't going to be responsible for the world running out of suitable sand - but that doesn't detract at all from the principle of what I am saying.

Do you have the faintest clue whatsoever about resource impacts of the existing population consumption combination upon the world? Or how those resource impacts would change as this century unfolds? When I can show even sand is a finite resource in the modern context, your arguments across the board become entirely worthless to me and worthy of no further responses given how you react to this basic argument.

Bob Wallace

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #45 on: October 10, 2014, 08:08:00 AM »
Lord, darling, if you're trying to play the future out so far that civilization would be endangered by running out of sand then good luck to you.

Personally, I'm going to worry only about the next several generations.  I figure that out a few hundred years people will know a lot more than we do now.  They may have even figured out how to make electricity from fusion.

The big job right now is to keep from overheating the planet so that our numbers get badly thinned in an unpleasant fashion and we have to spend most of our time underground.  And how to substitute in some materials and practices that are sustainable for a long time.  That in and of itself is a big enough plateful.


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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2014, 10:00:24 AM »
Besides potential resource constraints and stuff like EROEI (resources getting harder and thus more expensive to extract) it seems we are also running into limits on the financial side of things. I'm talking debt.

How do we work our way around that if we do not switch to a more logical, reality-based and sustainable economic system? How can infinite GDP growth defy the debt bubble(s)?

Sorry, but again I return to the premise that Green BAU doesn't have a chance of succeeding if we do not at least re-define BAU.
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viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #47 on: October 10, 2014, 10:25:27 AM »
Neven, the aforementioned criminal corporate elites can just print out more fiat money out of thin air, so that's correctly not at all reality-based. If debt was a problem for eternal gdp growth, they could theoretically give every earthling $ 1 million digitally to boost shopping and other spending.

As for BAU - green or grayish - I've laid out in the Top Post how that scenario may be the greenest in the long run (centuries).
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viddaloo

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2014, 12:14:52 PM »
Mockery wins arguments, but ccgwebmaster is right. Not even solar panels are sustainable. I would go further and state that agriculture is unsustainable in a world of 7+ billion hungry consumers. No matter what methods are used to grow your crops, the plantations take up too large areas for it to be called sustainable. So even that approach to solar energy is based on a shallow analysis.
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ccgwebmaster

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Re: Embracing Darkness - Optimism for the 22nd Century
« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2014, 08:09:34 PM »
Lord, darling, if you're trying to play the future out so far that civilization would be endangered by running out of sand then good luck to you.

Personally, I'm going to worry only about the next several generations.  I figure that out a few hundred years people will know a lot more than we do now.  They may have even figured out how to make electricity from fusion.

Guess you didn't bother to read the articles then. The world already largely depleted inland supplies and had to start using marine sand (more environmentally problematic in some respects). Some countries already depleted that too are and are importing from other countries. So you can't even bother to check if there is enough for the next several generations? (I'll give you a hint, there are few things you can consume tens of billions of tonnes of per year, and factor into even a modest growth scenario, and not run out of in an unacceptably short timescale even by your definition of reasonable).

Iron ore effectively runs out in your window too. You just don't get it, do you? You can't be bothered to either, easier to just mindlessly repeat favoured assertions. Wouldn't be so bad, if you weren't doing your bit to damage prospects by disseminating misinformation  like the above (incidentally I grant the solar stuff is good news, it is still nowhere remotely near sufficient).

Our approach to modern civilisation is fundamentally flawed. Climate change is only one of the massive problems we have hanging over us.