"death certificates have already been issued for billions of people"

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This document is the most important thing you can read on the net today. It explains (implicitly) why enslavement by our own machines is the BEST we could hope for. That may not come to pass, as we may be fated to destory our own civilization first.

The worst ?

According to this author (maintains an excellent website by the way, www.dieoff.org; this article (A Means of Control is his most recent new posting), the peak of world energy production is not far off. Oil is non-renewable, yet our entire political and agricultural economy depends on it. The author makes a convincing case that depletion of world oil reserves within 10 -20 years, with subsequent war, famine, and plague are now all but inevitable.

Read it carefully, read it and weep.

Then, as Gary North would say, get out of town.

-- scott (hma5_5@hotmail.com), February 15, 2000


Scott, for apocalypsologists this is even better than Y2K. I note the fellow lives in Kona.

On a positive note what is the chance of beating this one by the development of alternate sources of energy?

-- Aldo (Aldo@uneco.org), February 15, 2000.

Aldo, he seems to address that by implicitly saying "no way".

Relevant quote seems to be:

"A recent review of the future prospects of all alternatives has been published. The summary conclusion reached is that there is no known complete substitute for petroleum in its many and varied uses." [[36]] Global food production will drop to a fraction of todays numbers: "If the fertilizers, partial irrigation [in part provided by oil energy], and pesticides were withdrawn, corn yields, for example, would drop from 130 bushels per acre to about 30 bushels." [[37]] Obviously, death certificates have already been issued for billions of unsuspecting people.

-- scott (hma5_6@hotmail.com), February 15, 2000.

What about hydrogen?

Patent filed on energy discovery: UC Berkeley and Colorado scientists find valuable new source of fuel

BERKELEY-- A metabolic switch that triggers algae to turn sunlight into large quantities of hydrogen gas, a valuable fuel, is the subject of a new discovery reported for the first time by University of California, Berkeley, scientists and their Colorado colleagues. The news appears in this month's issue of the journal "Plant Physiology."

"I guess it's the equivalent of striking oil," said UC Berkeley plant and microbial biology professor Tasios Melis. "It was enormously exciting, it was unbelievable."

Melis and postdoctoral associate Liping Zhang of UC Berkeley made the discovery - funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Program - with Dr. Michael Seibert, Dr. Maria Ghirardi and postdoctoral associate Marc Forestier of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

Currently, hydrogen fuel is extracted from natural gas, a non- renewable energy source. The new discovery makes it possible to harness nature's own tool, photosynthesis, to produce the promising alternative fuel from sunlight and water. A joint patent on this new technique for capturing solar energy has been taken out by the two institutions.

So far, only small-scale cultures of the microscopic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii have been examined in the laboratory for their hydrogen production capabilities, Melis said.

"In the future, both small-scale industrial and commercial operations and larger utility photobioreactor complexes can be envisioned using this process," Melis said.

While current production rates are not high enough to make the process immediately viable commercially, the researchers believe that yields could rise by at least 10 fold with further research, someday making the technique an attractive fuel-producing option.

Preliminary rough estimates, for instance, suggest it is conceivable that a single, small commercial pond could produce enough hydrogen gas to meet the weekly fuel needs of a dozen or so automobiles, Melis said.

The scientific team is just beginning to test ways to maximize hydrogen production, including varying the particular type of microalga used and its growth conditions.

Many energy experts believe hydrogen gas one day could become the world's best renewable source of energy and an environmentally friendly replacement for fossil fuels.

"Hydrogen is so clean burning that what comes out of the exhaust pipe is pure water," Melis said. "You can drink it."

Engineering advances for hydrogen storage, transportation and utilization, many sponsored by the U.S. DOE Hydrogen Program, are beginning to make the fuel feasible to power automobiles and buses and to generate electricity in this country, Seibert said.

"What has been lacking is a renewable source of hydrogen," he said.

For nearly 60 years, scientists have known that certain types of algae can produce the gas in this way, but only in trace amounts. Despite tinkering with the process, no one has been able to make the yield rise significantly without elaborate and costly procedures until the UC Berkeley and NREL teams made this discovery.

The breakthrough, Melis said, was discovering what he calls a "molecular switch." This is a process by which the cell's usual photosynthetic apparatus can be turned off at will and the cell can be directed to use stored energy with hydrogen as the byproduct.

"The switch is actually very simple to activate," Melis said. "It depends on the absence of an essential element, sulfur, from the microalga growth medium."

The absence of sulfur stops photosynthesis and thus halts the cell's internal production of oxygen. Without oxygen from any source, the anaerobic cells are not able to burn stored fuel in the usual way, through metabolic respiration. In order to survive, they are forced to activate the alternative metabolic pathway, which generates the hydrogen and may be universal in many types of algae.

"They're utilizing stored compounds and bleeding hydrogen just to survive," Melis said. "It's probably an ancient strategy that the organism developed to live in sulfur-poor anaerobic conditions."

He said the alga culture cannot live forever when it is switched over to hydrogen production, but that it can manage for a considerable period of time without negative effects.

The researchers first grow the alga "photosynthetically like every other plant on Earth," Melis said. This allows the green-colored microorganisms to collect sunlight and accumulate a generous supply of carbohydrates and other fuels.

When enough energy has been banked in this manner, the researchers tap it and turn it into hydrogen. To do this, they transfer the liquid alga culture, which resembles a lime-green soft drink, to stoppered one-liter glass bottles with no sulfur present. Then the culture is allowed to consume away all oxygen.

After about 24 hours, photosynthesis and normal metabolic respiration stop, and hydrogen begins to bubble to the top of the bottles and bleed off into tall, hydrogen-collection glass tubes.

"It was actually a surprise when we detected significant amounts of hydrogen coming out of the culture," Melis said. "We thought we would get trace amounts, but we got bulk amounts."

After up to four days of generating an hourly average of about three milliliters of hydrogen per liter of culture, the culture is depleted of stored fuel and must be allowed to return to photosynthesis. Then, two or three days later, it again can be tapped for hydrogen, Melis said.

"The cell culture can go back and forth like this many times," Ghirardi said.

-- SuperLuminal (prism@SpamKill.bevcomm.net), February 15, 2000.

Also, what about bio-diesel from soybeans; ethanol from corn, gene engineered crops that produce their own fertilizers; fuel cells for your basement that produce electricity and heat from propane, natural gas, hydrogen, etc; a new hybrid car from [Honda?] (you can buy it right now for around $17,000.) that gets 70 mpg...

These are just a few things that I can think of off the top of my head.

I'm not saying he's right or wrong (I don't know what his credentials are) but after all the hype over Y2K doom and gloom I'm a little more skeptical of these kind of claims.

Finally, what is he offering as a "fix" for this supposed dilemma? Central planning? I think that was tried already in Russia and the results were less than spectacular... :-/


-- SuperLuminal (prism@SpamKill.bevcomm.net), February 15, 2000.

Hi Super, I know what you mean about all the y2k hype, I was semi- burned by that too! Though realized, belatedly but BEFORE rollover, that there'd be no serious hit.

There are these alternatives (you posted), but the question is whether they can be deployed widely, quickly, and cheaply enough (all the hidden costs) to replace the 'free ride' we've been getting on petro. Hanson seems to back up his words with a lot of serious data (on site as well as most recent article). For example, if corn or soy enthanol is going to somehow 'replace' the petro, what about Hanson's assertion (well footnoted) that agriculture is one of the BIGGEST petro-junkies around ???

In any case, your interesting replies implicitly seem to track the other side of this ongoing debate: 'infinite human ingenuity' vs 'physical reality'. It has an almost metaphysical interest, does it not ?

-- scott (hma5_6@hotmail.com), February 15, 2000.

There are these alternatives (you posted), but the question is whether they can be deployed widely, quickly, and cheaply enough (all the hidden costs) to replace the 'free ride' we've been getting on petro. Hanson seems to back up his words with a lot of serious data (on site as well as most recent article). For example, if corn or soy enthanol is going to somehow 'replace' the petro, what about Hanson's assertion (well footnoted) that agriculture is one of the BIGGEST petro-junkies around ???

Yeah, I agree that agriculture is a huge user of oil. I guess it comes down to the question of: can farming change enough to become self-sufficient? They're relying on this finite source of energy right now - Can they "close the loop" and produce enough fuel/fertilizer/food without relying on petroleum?

I do wonder if developing->planting->harvesting->refining crops for fuel is any more labor-intense than the finding->drilling->extracting- >transporting->refining of oil?

*sigh* It's more than I can figure out... :-(

-- SuperLuminal (prism@SpamKill.bevcomm.net), February 15, 2000.

Super, I think farming for fuel would require enormous amounts of petro energy and might turn into an energy sink. Unless huge amounts of human labor were applied, which would have all kinds of strange social (and possibly military) implications. In addition, I don't believe there's enough fresh water and good soil left in the world to have significant new crops grown (over what we already do for food itself) AND retain current living standards in other areas. I don't see the way around Hanson's points, but maybe (and this is what the PTB and the general population are implicitly betting on) some genius like Nik Tesla will come up with a new free energy source or something just before the hammer comes down.

-- scott (hma5_6@hotmail.com), February 16, 2000.

Technology can not solve our survival problems because our survival problems are not "technological" problems at all. All of our survival problems are "political" problems. The question to ask is what "means of control" could keep people from altering their natural environment (not building houses, clearing land, etc.) in ANY way for ANY reason?

THE HUMAN ANIMAL Many of us criticize economics and economists for their obviously unrealistic view of the human condition. But few of us willing to take the next step and discard our own unrealistic views of ourselves.

Our largest obstacle in understanding the society we live in is our own innate belief that we are "rational" (i.e., behavior based on mathematical calculation). But let's ignore the public relations sound track for a minute and deduce from our own observations. Let's try pretending we are biologists from outer space. What do we see?

We see that we are not "rational" at all. We see that we are "rationalizers" -- we use "reason" to justify our behavior. But if we are not rational, what is the source of our behavior?

BIOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR The biological goal (estimated at about 50% of behavior) of the human mind is simply to reproduce the genes that created it. Genes are chemicals that direct the combination of more chemicals. Edward Tatum and George Wells Beadle investigated the transmission of hereditary characteristics of genes and proved that particular genes are responsible for particular enzymes, and therefore all biochemical processes are regulated by genes. For their work on genetics, they shared the 1958 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Joshua Lederberg.

Human behavior is driven by neurotransmitters that were designed by a billion years of evolution. Deep in the brain is a region called the "nucleus accumbens" that is rich in neurons which produce and respond to dopamine. The nucleus accumbens is the brains "G-spot", a pleasure center, and the release of dopamine in this area feels good -- very good.

"Dopamine belongs to a group of brain chemicals called monoamines, a family of neurotransmitters involved in many different aspects of behavior -- personality, depression, drug and alcohol use, aggression, eating, and sex. It is tyrosine, a common amino acid found in many foodstuffs, with a few little changes at one end.

"Dopamine alone is not enough to give us a rush. Dopamine is a key that opens a lock. The lock is called a receptor, a large protein that sits on the surface of brain cells. The receptor is recognized by dopamine but by no other chemical, just like a lock can only be opened by the correct key. When the dopamine snuggles into the waiting receptor, the tumblers turn. Inside the brain begins a series of chemical reactions." [ pp. 35-36, LIVING WITH OUR GENES: Why The Matter More Than You Think, by Dean H. Hamer & Peter Copleland; Anchor, 1999; http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385485840 ]

People tend to do what makes them "feel good", avoid behavior that makes them "feel bad", and then "rationalize" that behavior to themselves and others. These behavioral "algorithms" are stored in our genes.

Good feelings come from the kinds of behavior that tended to enhance genetic reproductive success ("inclusive fitness") over the last few million years. In general, this is more political power -- more children and or/more "wealth" (artifacts, beauty, etc.).

Craig Stanford managed to capture the human condition in just one sentence: "Males typically obtain meat in human and nonhuman primate societies and then attempt to use it to manipulate or control females." [ p. 10, THE HUNTING APES: Meat Eating and the Origins of Human Behavior, by Craig B. Stanford; Princeton, 1999; http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691011605 ]

People who mutated to limit themselves politically were eliminated from the gene pool by those who didn't.

UTTERLY INCOMPATIBLE Although the "net energy" world view is obviously correct, it is equally obvious that net energy world view is utterly incompatible with our own behavioral algorithms; it simply doesn't fit because it can't lead to more political power -- indeed, it hasn't! Nature's rules of survival still apply: any tribe that voluntarily limits itself will be eliminated by those more-powerful tribes that don't.

By understanding our past, we can see the broad outlines of our future. We will continue to act in ways that tended to get our ancestors laid over millions of years. Then when the energy crisis is fully upon us, we do what we were designed to do: we will invent reasons to murder our competitors and, thus, insure the survival of our own genes.

"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." -- Charles Darwin, 1871

Jay -- www.dieoff.org

-- Jay Hanson (j@qmail.com), February 24, 2000.

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