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The nuclear fusion disaster.


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#1 Shirou

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 23:32

Nuclear Fusion. I need only tell the two words or comparisons to the Holy Grail and the Sun itself spring to mind. While the latter is not so far off, it's the symbolism that I emphasize there. Nuclear Fusion is of course, the mystical hard science solution to the world's looming energy problem. We have loads of practical physicists, optimists in their (part of) nature, who are throwing different timescales at us concerning how long it is going to take them to commercialy offer fusion energy. We have the US government's main 'green' expense being the research into alternative energy solutions, rather than anything else to reduce the American footprint.

Now imagine they'd do it. Imagine that somewhere a good time before peak oil actually happens, they'd do it. They find some revolutionary way to induce nuclear fusion in controlled environments and it would be good enough to replace fossil fuels. Huzzah, the world energy problem would be saved. The Ocean would literally be our new fuel station and since it is so large, we have virtually unlimited energy without a harmful emissionary footprint.

At first this is very good, because it will stop us from going back to the worlds giant coal stocks (which is tens of times larger than the oil stock) as the primary energy source and completely dilute the air. It would allow us to phase out fossil fuel burning gradually without really any crisis at all perhaps. Since water is pretty much everywhere, there wouldn't also be energy dominance by a few countries holding the worlds major stocks of kinetic energy for our cars. In the end, it would make the world a better place eh?

I think not.

Lets reboot this thing. Start off with human evolution. We are the most dominant and powerful species on this planet. There is no 'wildlife' that can pose a threat to us in modern days. Going by geological time, our evolution from primeval ape to the sentience we have achieved now has gone amazingly fast. Every show of strength, specialized evolution etc has been beaten by the sheer brainpower of this lone species. With the evolution of culture and technology, we have never ever stopped at getting better and better at what we wanted to do and achieve. There has never ever been a restraint, never been a permanent blockade that selected those of us to live with it. Any such thing was simply eliminated in favor of our superior species.

As a result, as technology advances, our humanity did not include that little thing called moderation. Never has any stage of our evolution taught us to nourish nature if one wants to take advantage of it. Even better, most of the stages in our ''development'' have always included massive degradation of the environment around us. You can probably predict the desultory doom-mongering I will continue with. I state that because of our evolutionary process and the total absence of any inhibition towards uncontrolled destructive exploitation, I believe the invention of yet ANOTHER new technological advance is not going to move us forward.

Nature selected the merry of its species and allowed them to thrive because they were able to adapt to their environment. Any disturbance in the delicate balance of a species existence, and the species will destroy itself. The best example of this are introduced alien species in an ecosystem they don't belong to. Most animals wrongly introduced in an ecosystem either die because they cannot adapt, or exponentially grow because they have no enemies in that environment. As a result they over-exploit the system, grow extremely numerous over the backs of the native species, and eventually, collapse and die because the wasted ecosystem and can not support the giant number of animals. Effectively and unknowingly, the species destroys itself.

Laying the link between this and the entire development of humanity isn't that hard. Going back to the topic title. The worst thing that could happen at this moment is humanity inventing nuclear fusion or any similar technology that would give us a giant energy boost. Namely it would prevent one of the last things that could stop us prematurely (depletion of fossil fuels) from creating a global ecological collapse and kill ourselves. After all, it will not be the scarcity of electricity that will make humans stop breathing, it is the absence of food produced by the environment that will. Having nuclear fusion energy at our disposal now or in a couple of decades will not repair any of the envinronmental degradation at all, it would only worsen it. It would only allow us to continue expand, further over the world's carrying capacity. The cliffs of the environmental abyss will grow steeper, harder to climb, and the fall will be longer and more painful.

The whole craze of, for example, the US to gain a new energy source over any other environmental concern is only an evolutionary desire to continue on the path we have come from the very beginning. The only natural way to get out of this tendency is for nature to get back at the population, in the same way as it is doing to an introduced species destroying a habitat that is not theirs. The other way, and this is something animals do not share with us, is through our own understanding and education of our own species, so that we can stop this from happening.



I have written this essay to probably include it in the quarterly journal of my study association. However I felt I should share my views with you, so if anyone feels like it, discuss.

Edited by Shirou, 10 September 2010 - 07:10.

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#2 Destiny

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 00:03

I...don't know what to say.

We've already 'invented' nuclear fusion in thermonuclear weapons. Harnessing the power of nuclear fusion in civvie use should come in a bit later when they manage to do it. And how do you think countries can expand more? There's no more space, and anyone who tries Antarctica is going to get nuked. I see you're mainly pointing your finger that USA too.
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#3 Shirou

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 07:09

I'm using it as an example, but yeah I could globalize the example as well. May be better. The reason for me using it is that I've read an article with complaints about the US policy being so dominant on green energy solutions, rather than other stuff like energy reduction.

If theres any more stuff that doesn't make sense to you, please point it out. I write these things with the vigor of the moment so there may also be some scientific lapses in examples I use.

Edited by Shirou, 10 September 2010 - 07:14.

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#4 GuardianTempest

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 07:40

I have to agree with you on many points, it's not like once Nuclear Fusion is perfected that we have a sudden surge of innovation as a result in this new profound energy. What it will bring though is an even BIGGER jump in population since that more electricity is available, but in-turn, also causes a higher depletion of supplies and space. Then even if we prevented this, all the major changes is on the electric bill. I wonder how would that new-found energy be used to increase food supplies and stabilize population.

I just emptied my 'spur-of-the-moment thought-box'.
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#5 Golan

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 08:06

Ha, I see your error there. Without the need for fossil resources, pollution from classic power sources will cease, taking enough burden from nature to sustain us. BASE SUCH ASSUMPTIONS ON NUMBERS OR THEY ARE MEANINGLESS!
Fusion is NOT an instantaneous, infinite magical power source. It has heavy limitations in how fast it can be introduced as well as even worse requirements on infrastructure.

Author's Note: Zis makes me ängrie!!! Do you have äny ideä how nucular füsion actual works and its technical limitations? Your entire argument is ONE sentence basically saying "ve'll have infinite powa, making us grow faaaast, making us die!". The rest is entirely separated from the issue of Fusion.
There are thousands of limiting factors to our population growth, namely those you've listed as reason for our extinction, that will prevent this from happening on a large scale. On a small scale, it's already happening anyways, no need for fusion...
€dit: Also, if the mighty US of A tries going for a large scale power increase, they are likely to fry themselves as their outdated power grid is unlikely to be able to handle the energy demands a population growth required for you little theory would come with. But hey, seeing humanities evolutionary process and the total absence of any inhibition towards uncontrolled destructive exploitation, I'm sure they'll probably all band together, forming a hellish power grid of DOOM by putting together a big heap of cutlery, creating a power surge that IS OVER 9000!!!, resulting in a doomy doomsday doom of destruction.

€dit: Oh by the way, while H20 is available to us in abundance, Lithium6 is not and it is a prime component in getting Tritium, which is fucking important.

€dit: My apologies. Can't stay serious these days.

€dit: Oh by the way, electric power ≠ babies. Just thought I'd point that out. Thank you all for reading, have a good night. Now go out an procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

€dit: Come to think of it, did you just say (notwithstanding the stuff about fusion etc.) that babies is inevitably synonymical with Götterdämmerung?

€dit: My apologies again. Might have strayed a bit from the topic...

€dit: OTOH, if you think a bit further, we'd actually already be in the state you described, as the sum of Oil + Fission Stuffzzz + Other Resources available to us would probably totally allow us to go for a 100+ year MEGA power supply. Oddly, we still seem to exist.

€dit: Come to think of it, could you perchance try rephrasing your point in short?

€dit: Calling it "The nuclear fusion disaster" also kinda seems a bit lurid. Fusion is really kinda unimportant to your point (well, at least the one I found) and it's more like "The population growing above what we can sustain disaster, despite these factors probably preventing us from reaching this point in the first place". Of course, that's not very poignant...

Edited by Golan, 10 September 2010 - 08:52.

Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

#6 Shirou

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 11:04

Golan, I know you better than this, and I know you a very well argumented critic. When I saw you responded here I was eager to read it, nearly sure you would have something to say against it.

However if you want to criticize me please do it while not acting like you're drunk. I wait for the more constructed version of above post. Whats mostly clear to me that you did not get the point, namely that environmental degradation will not be stopped by the invention of large scale green energy and will likely only worsen. You also pretty much proved one of my points here that the energy thing is the only thing that seems to matter...

Oh and yes, electric power = babies. Take the industrial en electrical revolution and put them next to our population growth. Then come back at me.

@Tempest. For sake of making this point I made a very black and white comparison of the entirety of humankind and an introduced species going down the drain because of its habitat destruction. Its of course way more complex like this, but the principal meaning is the same. I therefore would like to add that whatever we might end up to, it probably won't be as bad as the animal examples, but it will be bad anyway.

Edited by Shirou, 10 September 2010 - 11:15.

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#7 Ion Cannon!

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 12:13

Even with unlimited power its unlikey there would be large population spikes in developed countries, such as the USA. They have reached a stable-ish population, as death rate and birth rate are about the same. Most western developed countries are in this state, some developed countries such as Japan seem to have even entered the next stage, where unless they start having more babies they will die off by about 2150.

This is probably a different kettle of fish if say, India developed fusion, but I don't see how that would effect population that much. India's population is still exploding, but its stabilising slowly, as healthcare ect improves more babies survive, so the parents need not have so many children so birth rates tumble shortly after the death rate does.

See the Demographics Transistion Model for more - http://en.wikipedia....phic_transition

I know that wasn't the main issue you pointed out, I just thought I would clear that up.

It wouldn't be an environmental disaster, even though I agree that developed nations should focus more on emissions reduction in other areas, switching all our power over to a cleaner source would be a good thing. What I'm saying is, if all power was switched to fusion, americas footprint would decrease. There would still be a long way to go though. Honestly though, its all talk. Most countries which have claimed to reduce emissions have just shifted theres to China, if you take into account import emissions. The only thing thats going to cause a real shift towards green energy and saving the environment is either a batch of politicians who all really give a damn or we run out of conventional energy sources. Until then it will never become a priority.

You also have to remember the industrial revolution in the west was in part kept going by exploitation of other countries, IE the British Empire. Humans always have and always will use resources, to become balanced with nature we would have to live like animals, there would be no electricity, no cars, none of the modern comforts we take for granted. Even if all countries cut their footprint by 90% eventually we will still deplete the planets resources. It's simply a matter of delaying that as long as possible.

Reserves are an interesting subject though. If you look at the estimated years worth of reserves of things such as Silver, Aluminium ect - They haven't changed since the 1960's. This is because constant exploration discovers more reserves and as the economy fluctuates resources that weren't economically viable become so. The methods for exploration and extraction also become more efficient so costs decrease.

Edited by Ion Cannon!, 10 September 2010 - 12:21.

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#8 Golan

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 12:34

Sorry, I can't take your article seriously - if I did, I'd have to see it as a deliberately propagandistic, pseudo-philosophical strawman argument against Fusion Power. If you know me better then you should be aware that mockery is the least someone has to fear from me for such a thing. I'd most likely punch someone in the face for giving me such a speech.

But let's be civil, shall we?

In general, the articles main failure is that it doesn't have a coherent argument for any fusion disaster. One, you are incorrectly depicting fusion as an infinite or magical or whatever power source, when it clearly IS NOT. We won't miraculously turn water into pure energy, there won't be a miraculous spike in our energy output and we won't get rid of our energy worries. Two, you take this faulty depiction of Fusion to blame an entirely unrelated process (which is very unlikely in the first place) leading to HUMANITIES EXTINCTION on it. Uhm yeah... exaggerate much?

Your argumentation is purely based on correlations, no matter how weak they are - what my be a viable influence on a qualitative level isn't on an actual quantitative level.
Skipping the introduction part... done!
Yes we've advanced a lot but we aren't an uber species and our ongoing survival and technological advance isn't much of a proof for a hypthetical lack of restraints - there are thousands of species prospering on this would even though we assholes are in their way. You even mentioned the prime issue of our (ongoing!) evolution, brainpower, so really, we aren't in any way specially unrestrained - being restrained by nature in the way you put it means being extinct, so anthropomorphic principle dictates we can hardly prove anything about it with our current status.

Adjusting to nature and nurturing it is the entire MO of our species, what do you think Fusion actually is? Magic? It's part of what's rightly called natural science. Part of our success lies in agriculture, which is nurturing nature to the max, much more than any wildlife would even be capable of. The reason why so few species other than our own have unbalanced nature is that we are the top dogs and have big fucking guns. That doesn't mean that no other species would unbalance nature if given the chance to - it's actually quite likely given how many no-brainers there are running around on our world.

As a species, we have a LOT of moderation and inhibitions. If you haven't known this already, we could kill each other ten-fold - yet we still exist. The entire idea of Fusion Power IS a result of this strife for moderation, so arguing that because earlier technological advances (well, those that fit your position - bonus points for ignoring any others) were disadvantageous for nature this "new" one will be too is like saying this post is shit because my last one wasn't serious.

Oh, bonus points again for mentioning how most species will utterly destroy an ecosystem if they have the chance to because they think with their dicks and stomachs and not with brains capable of creating an artificial SUN. We have invaded pretty much every ecosystem above sea level and while we certainly trashed the place a few times, I can't think of many places that we've destroyed for good.

Yeah, it's Fusion time now! Okay, let's see:
Giant energy boost: Fusion won't do that. We have to build up an infrastructure for the technology slowly and it's going to take decades, perhaps centuries until a good chunk of humanity can enjoy Fusion-E [TM]. Also, while our reserves for fuel are practically infinite, our resources are not - we still have to process most of the stuff, not to mention that Fusion does not run on water alone, we need lots of other stuff like Li6.
Fusion Revolution => absence of Food killing us: Uhm yeah. How does Fusion factor in here again? Most people that have an abundance of electric power are quite conservative about their mating habits, in fact the natural population growth in almost every industrial nation is negative. The effects of industrial and electric revolution on population were a side effect of better health care becoming possible - which in the long run reduced population.
Fusion not getting rid of existing environmental damage: Sorry but that's a nonsensical argument. Fusion itself is unmeasurable more environment friendly than any alternative other than sticking our heads in the sand and dying. If people fuck up because they are people and like to fuck things up, then the problem is people, no fusion.
Fusion would allow us to expand further: Electric power isn't the limiting factor to our expansion. It's basic resources like food and living space. You actually admitted this by stating it as the reason for extinction should we ever get above a certain level - which electric power won't enable us to.

True, the only way out of our misery is by changing our own way of living - for example by getting our energy from Fusion...



Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

Edited by Golan, 10 September 2010 - 12:39.

Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

#9 Shirou

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 15:20

Okay, really, while you are right on some points, you don't get others. Also, ''giving you such a speech''? This is the philosophers corner, and this is my opinion and mine alone, so why this agressive?

Incorrections in the above:

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Yes we've advanced a lot but we aren't an uber species and our ongoing survival and technological advance isn't much of a proof for a hypthetical lack of restraints - there are thousands of species prospering on this would even though we assholes are in their way. You even mentioned the prime issue of our (ongoing!) evolution, brainpower, so really, we aren't in any way specially unrestrained - being restrained by nature in the way you put it means being extinct, so anthropomorphic principle dictates we can hardly prove anything about it with our current status.


All of our advancements have always lead to misery for other species on this planet. It isn't our ongoing survival that I use as proof for my statement, it is the sheer speed at which our dominance has come to be and the footprint that it is leaving. You seem to take my examples to the extreme and assume because they haven't happened yet that it can't happen at all. Thousands of species prospering on our planet? The only species that are even remotely ''prospering'' are those that are able to take advantage of man's dominance (perhaps rats?) On a geological scale we are in a massive extinction period. That number alone doesn't say enough about it yet, as pretty much every large animal has been massively reduced in numbers and habitat and many have gone extinct. We have a different view on animal prosperity, clearly.

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Adjusting to nature and nurturing it is the entire MO of our species, what do you think Fusion actually is? Magic? It's part of what's rightly called natural science. Part of our success lies in agriculture, which is nurturing nature to the max, much more than any wildlife would even be capable of.


Nurture? What nurture? The entire fucking western food source is based on external input of nutrients and resources from artificial fertiliser and imported food for our meat production. The result is continent-wide soil and water degradation. The pieces of meat you eat are made possible by the nutrients being pulled from former rainforest soils leaving the barren. The reason for this because people think with their stomachs, dicks and pockets. Only after some science comes around and points out that it is actually bad to throw in massive amounts of fertiliser, will something change, and this results in the small movement of sustainable agriculture.

This is not nurture, this is extreme exploitation which only restraint is the fact that we want to re-use the land the year after. In previous times, after a piece of land did not yield enough results, we would leave it and move on. Now, because we are with so many we have been forced to reuse the land we are growing our food on. Our own population has become the restraint.

This is the case in most countries where we have rid the land of nearly all of its forest, where there is no new land to expand on. My own country NL is the a prime example of this. But hey, what does humankind do in countries with a different status? Countries with remainders of ancient forest? Exactly, the same thing we did with pretty much all of our land, it hasn't changed at all and hell its worse because there is technology and an increased population increasing the pressures tenfold.

A big fallacy of the article I see now, is the black and white comparison of introduced animal extinction and that of our own. I would do better to compare it to any sort of crisis that would massively reduce the carrying capacity of our planet. The fear I express that the increase of our population is going too fast for humanity's intelligence to cope and adapt. The energy limit imposed by fossil fuels is the biggest one out there, and it would do good to serve as a restraint for stuff like energy reduction and with it reduction of EVERYTHING that is intricately linked with energy usage. It is the perfect restraint, just like the absence of new land was the restraint to start re-using land.

Almost taking offence to my limited understanding of nuclear fusion, why? I did not say it would be better than oil in terms of actual energy production, did I? Its not the message about fusion power I was trying to convey but if the article does give that impression then that is my wrong. As far as I know, I only re-used what the physicists of NGC, BBC Horizon etc have been saying, e.g. Fusion as the energy source that can sustain our further development and their statements that they could make it viable as this replacement before any sort of problems arise with our fossil fuels. Look up BBC Horizon on Fusion Power and you will know what I am talking about. The guy doesn't think about whether anything else than this energy resource of his is needed to sustain us on this planet. If you think my views on fusion are wrong then why are the physicists such prophets of hope?

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Fusion itself is unmeasurable more environment friendly than any alternative other than sticking our heads in the sand and dying. If people fuck up because they are people and like to fuck things up, then the problem is people, no fusion.
Fusion would allow us to expand further

I don't have a problem with the technology. It is as you say one of the best things that could happen to us if we can make it commercially viable. I only tried to point out that if it happens when we are not ready for it, it could lead to a disaster larger than would happen if we had to sustain ourselves on fossil fuels. A large part towards creating a global sustainable society is a global reduction of footprint. ''The environment'' seems to be everything that is the Global Warming hype, while lots of other environmental problems are in a more severe state and is also much more directly damaging. These problems do not have many direct solution and the cover it gets is laughably small. Every problem on this planet has to get bad and cause trouble before we actually do something about it (another great example, CFC and the ozone layer) and it is there that I draw the lines with human nature and evolution. Lots of climate-sceptists around for example have no idea about either side of the conflict yet side with the one that suits their situation best, namely the one that doesn't make them change things.

As Ion Cannon also said, if you agree with my views on the model of envinronmental destruction before we take action, then an energy crisis would be one of the best things that could happen to us and Nuclear Fusion could mess that all up.

I am happy with this discussion because partly the reason I put this article up there is because I wrote it in one big swipe and usually when I do this, I bring up lots of controversial points and make correlations that are very thin. That doesn't mean you should treat it like you did in your first post, as that one was purely thread-degrading.

Edited by Shirou, 10 September 2010 - 15:38.

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#10 Golan

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 16:34

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

Okay, really, while you are right on some points, you don't get others. Also, ''giving you such a speech''? This is the philosophers corner, and this is my opinion and mine alone, so why this agressive?
There was a subjunctive in that sentence... meaning it wasn't about you, as you didn't give me that speech (neither are you in my physical reach).

Incorrections in the above:

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

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Yes we've advanced a lot (...) with our current status.


All of our advancements have always lead to misery for other species on this planet. It isn't our ongoing survival that I use as proof for my statement, it is the sheer speed at which our dominance has come to be and the footprint that it is leaving. You seem to take my examples to the extreme and assume because they haven't happened yet that it can't happen at all. Thousands of species prospering on our planet? The only species that are even remotely ''prospering'' are those that are able to take advantage of man's dominance (perhaps rats?) On a geological scale we are in a massive extinction period. That number alone doesn't say enough about it yet, as pretty much every large animal has been massively reduced in numbers and habitat and many have gone extinct. We have a different view on animal prosperity, clearly.
We are living beings. We need to take things if we wish to go on living. If we take something, then it means we take it from somewhere. Every species does. If we advance, then that means we have to take more. This is a logical result of our dominance. Technologies like Fusion and others are developed to reduce this strain and if you haven't realized, we are in an age were we are finally beginning (I'm to cynical to say we succeed) to try to do this on a larger scale, so arguing what bad bad boys we've been before is comparing entirely different situations.
I can hardly take your examples to the extreme because they already ARE. There is no "sheer speed" to our development or an unusual footprint to our actions as we know no other species capable of the scale of our actions.
No, we don't have a different views on animal prosperity, we have different views on the nature of nature (no pun intended).

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

Nurture? What nurture? The entire fucking western food source is based on external input of nutrients and resources from artificial fertiliser and imported food for our meat production. The result is continent-wide soil and water degradation. The pieces of meat you eat are made possible by the nutrients being pulled from former rainforest soils leaving the barren. The reason for this because people think with their stomachs, dicks and pockets. Only after some science comes around and points out that it is actually bad to throw in massive amounts of fertiliser, will something change, and this results in the small movement of sustainable agriculture.
The "entire fucking western food source" is history of a couple decades compared to thousands of years of successful agriculture. And it's already in the process of (very) slowly being turned back to a sustainable situation. But hey, history is only allowed when it follows your point of view, isn't it?

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

This is not nurture, this is extreme exploitation which only restraint is the fact that we want to re-use the land the year after. In previous times, after a piece of land did not yield enough results, we would leave it and move on. Now, because we are with so many we have been forced to reuse the land we are growing our food on. Our own population has become the restraint.
Then what is nurture to you? Of course we take as much of as possible and nurture it just to the point of sustainability, that's the entire point. How should we nurture anything further? "Hey, species X looks so groovy, let's nurture it a bit further by miraculously getting the stuff needed for it out of nowhere and not at all taking it away from other species!". Yeah, because it isn't already bad enough that we actively nurture ourselves.

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

This is the case in most countries where we have rid the land of nearly all of its forest, where there is no new land to expand on. My own country NL is the a prime example of this. But hey, what does humankind do in countries with a different status? Countries with remainders of ancient forest? Exactly, the same thing we did with pretty much all of our land, it hasn't changed at all and hell its worse because there is technology and an increased population increasing the pressures tenfold.
Yeah, I too wept when they harvested some thousand hectares of forest following modern recycling technology. I totally see your point how technology leads to destruc... no wait, I don't. Especially not when the issue at hand is a technology that means an efficiency leap.

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

A big fallacy of the article I see now, is the black and white comparison of introduced animal extinction and that of our own. I would do better to compare it to any sort of crisis that would massively reduce the carrying capacity of our planet. The fear I express that the increase of our population is going too fast for humanity's intelligence to cope and adapt. The energy limit imposed by fossil fuels is the biggest one out there, and it would do good to serve as a restraint for stuff like energy reduction and with it reduction of EVERYTHING that is intricately linked with energy usage. It is the perfect restraint, just like the absence of new land was the restraint to start re-using land.
The big fallacy of your article is that 90% of what you say has nothing to do at all with Fusion and electrical energy. So perhaps you should try to actually explain how you think it relates to all the bad stuff.

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

Almost taking offence to my limited understanding of nuclear fusion, why? I did not say it would be better than oil in terms of actual energy production, did I? Its not the message about fusion power I was trying to convey but if the article does give that impression then that is my wrong. As far as I know, I only re-used what the physicists of NGC, BBC Horizon etc have been saying, e.g. Fusion as the energy source that can sustain our further development and their statements that they could make it viable as this replacement before any sort of problems arise with our fossil fuels. Look up BBC Horizon on Fusion Power and you will know what I am talking about. The guy doesn't think about whether anything else than this energy resource of his is needed to sustain us on this planet. If you think my views on fusion are wrong then why are the physicists such prophets of hope?
Your entire premise of Fusion leading to a population leap due it being, well, whatever you think it is, is based on wrong assumptions. Yet you blame the possible extinction of humanity on it!
Yes, of course fusion power will sustain our further development if it becomes our main power source, that doesn't mean that development will say "screw you other factors, I have fusion!" and go into hyper mode. Key word sustain. Our energy needs. Of course he doesn't think about anything else, because THAT'S NOT THE QUESTION! He's a physicist. He either assumes other people have a brain or he doesn't have one himself. We tend to be that way.
If you publish things like this, people will read it. And they will tell it to others and be convinced of it because obviously, someone had to write it, and they would never have someone publish something they don't know shit about, would they? Do you have any idea what damage you can do if you spread such faulty views? Do you realize what you imply with your article? :D

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

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Fusion itself is unmeasurable more environment friendly than any alternative other than sticking our heads in the sand and dying. If people fuck up because they are people and like to fuck things up, then the problem is people, no fusion.
Fusion would allow us to expand further

I don't have a problem with the technology. It is as you say one of the best things that could happen to us if we can make it commercially viable. I only tried to point out that if it happens when we are not ready for it, it could lead to a disaster larger than would happen if we had to sustain ourselves on fossil fuels. A large part towards creating a global sustainable society is a global reduction of footprint. ''The environment'' seems to be everything that is the Global Warming hype, while lots of other environmental problems are in a more severe state and is also much more directly damaging. These problems do not have many direct solution and the cover it gets is laughably small. Every problem on this planet has to get bad and cause trouble before we actually do something about it (another great example, CFC and the ozone layer) and it is there that I draw the lines with human nature and evolution. Lots of climate-sceptists around for example have no idea about either side of the conflict yet side with the one that suits their situation best, namely the one that doesn't make them change things.
Yeah right, because as we screw up in so many places, having the chance not to screw up in one place is despicable as it would delude our view on what else we screw up. Totally see your point! How about we let a couple more scrupulous dicks ruin the rainforest so people will see how important it is to take action? How about we find a cure for AIDS and trash it so people realize what a danger it is? Fabulous plan!
You aren't qualified to predict what happens when we are not ready for it because you don't appear to understand what "it" is in the first place.

View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

I am happy with this discussion because partly the reason I put this article up there is because I wrote it in one big swipe and usually when I do this, I bring up lots of controversial points and make correlations that are very thin. That doesn't mean you should treat it like you did in your first post, as that one was purely thread-degrading.
No, it was the response I'd give to you in a non-written conversation and one you will probably receive from many others that know a bit about the issue.

Edited by Golan, 10 September 2010 - 16:47.

Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

#11 Shirou

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 00:56

View PostGolan, on 10 Sep 2010, 18:34, said:

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All of our advancements have always lead to misery for other species on this planet. It isn't our ongoing survival that I use as proof for my statement, it is the sheer speed at which our dominance has come to be and the footprint that it is leaving. You seem to take my examples to the extreme and assume because they haven't happened yet that it can't happen at all. Thousands of species prospering on our planet? The only species that are even remotely ''prospering'' are those that are able to take advantage of man's dominance (perhaps rats?) On a geological scale we are in a massive extinction period. That number alone doesn't say enough about it yet, as pretty much every large animal has been massively reduced in numbers and habitat and many have gone extinct. We have a different view on animal prosperity, clearly.
We are living beings. We need to take things if we wish to go on living. If we take something, then it means we take it from somewhere. Every species does. If we advance, then that means we have to take more. This is a logical result of our dominance. Technologies like Fusion and others are developed to reduce this strain and if you haven't realized, we are in an age were we are finally beginning (I'm to cynical to say we succeed) to try to do this on a larger scale, so arguing what bad bad boys we've been before is comparing entirely different situations.
I can hardly take your examples to the extreme because they already ARE. There is no "sheer speed" to our development or an unusual footprint to our actions as we know no other species capable of the scale of our actions.
No, we don't have a different views on animal prosperity, we have different views on the nature of nature (no pun intended).

So nature to you is what we allow it to be? Thats no nature, thats a landfill. So now at the moment we are like every other species? I think we are completely different. We are not controlled or restrained by any ecoystem, we are completely independent. Anything a normal animal species takes from its environment is sustainable as otherwise it would serve to damage its own population in the end. Humanity does not seem to work this way.


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View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

A big fallacy of the article I see now, is the black and white comparison of introduced animal extinction and that of our own. I would do better to compare it to any sort of crisis that would massively reduce the carrying capacity of our planet. The fear I express that the increase of our population is going too fast for humanity's intelligence to cope and adapt. The energy limit imposed by fossil fuels is the biggest one out there, and it would do good to serve as a restraint for stuff like energy reduction and with it reduction of EVERYTHING that is intricately linked with energy usage. It is the perfect restraint, just like the absence of new land was the restraint to start re-using land.
The big fallacy of your article is that 90% of what you say has nothing to do at all with Fusion and electrical energy. So perhaps you should try to actually explain how you think it relates to all the bad stuff.
. 90 percent of it doesn't directly relate to fusion because there are many people like you who don't know the main points I am talking about. That is why I widened up about it so much and that is why it strayed from the fusion point a bit too much. I agree that I used the fusion point to title and outline article to gain the attention but I don't honestlly see whats wrong with that.

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View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

This is not nurture, this is extreme exploitation which only restraint is the fact that we want to re-use the land the year after. In previous times, after a piece of land did not yield enough results, we would leave it and move on. Now, because we are with so many we have been forced to reuse the land we are growing our food on. Our own population has become the restraint.
Then what is nurture to you? Of course we take as much of as possible and nurture it just to the point of sustainability, that's the entire point. How should we nurture anything further? "Hey, species X looks so groovy, let's nurture it a bit further by miraculously getting the stuff needed for it out of nowhere and not at all taking it away from other species!". Yeah, because it isn't already bad enough that we actively nurture ourselves.

What sustainabilty, exactly? If you hadn't noticed I just tried to make a point about our ''sustainable'' land use leading to continental soil degradation. Yet you impeccably managed to ignore it again. Whatever you believe, but in my opinion our current treatment of our environment is despicable. You only seem to see what is still there but if you would take the time to look a bit further it may clear some things up.


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View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

This is the case in most countries where we have rid the land of nearly all of its forest, where there is no new land to expand on. My own country NL is the a prime example of this. But hey, what does humankind do in countries with a different status? Countries with remainders of ancient forest? Exactly, the same thing we did with pretty much all of our land, it hasn't changed at all and hell its worse because there is technology and an increased population increasing the pressures tenfold.
Yeah, I too wept when they harvested some thousand hectares of forest following modern recycling technology. I totally see your point how technology leads to destruc... no wait, I don't. Especially not when the issue at hand is a technology that means an efficiency leap.
So being able to scour more hectares of forest a day than people were able in history because of technology is an efficiency leap rather than a threat. Now this is getting interesting...

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View PostShirou, on 10 Sep 2010, 15:20, said:

Almost taking offence to my limited understanding of nuclear fusion, why? I did not say it would be better than oil in terms of actual energy production, did I? Its not the message about fusion power I was trying to convey but if the article does give that impression then that is my wrong. As far as I know, I only re-used what the physicists of NGC, BBC Horizon etc have been saying, e.g. Fusion as the energy source that can sustain our further development and their statements that they could make it viable as this replacement before any sort of problems arise with our fossil fuels. Look up BBC Horizon on Fusion Power and you will know what I am talking about. The guy doesn't think about whether anything else than this energy resource of his is needed to sustain us on this planet. If you think my views on fusion are wrong then why are the physicists such prophets of hope?
Your entire premise of Fusion leading to a population leap due it being, well, whatever you think it is, is based on wrong assumptions. Yet you blame the possible extinction of humanity on it!
Yes, of course fusion power will sustain our further development if it becomes our main power source, that doesn't mean that development will say "screw you other factors, I have fusion!" and go into hyper mode. Key word sustain. Our energy needs. Of course he doesn't think about anything else, because THAT'S NOT THE QUESTION! He's a physicist. He either assumes other people have a brain or he doesn't have one himself. We tend to be that way.
If you publish things like this, people will read it. And they will tell it to others and be convinced of it because obviously, someone had to write it, and they would never have someone publish something they don't know shit about, would they? Do you have any idea what damage you can do if you spread such faulty views? Do you realize what you imply with your article? :D
So the question is how we can sustain a population of nine billion people in 2050 on our own welfare levels while it is clear that any other factor we need to sustain our life is not possibly available for 9 billion people. However apparently this energy requirement is fact and this is what the physicists have to prepare us for by making sure we have more energy. If people are this narrow minded and ignorant to think of anything broader then I don't know if I can trust those people.

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I don't have a problem with the technology. It is as you say one of the best things that could happen to us if we can make it commercially viable. I only tried to point out that if it happens when we are not ready for it, it could lead to a disaster larger than would happen if we had to sustain ourselves on fossil fuels. A large part towards creating a global sustainable society is a global reduction of footprint. ''The environment'' seems to be everything that is the Global Warming hype, while lots of other environmental problems are in a more severe state and is also much more directly damaging. These problems do not have many direct solution and the cover it gets is laughably small. Every problem on this planet has to get bad and cause trouble before we actually do something about it (another great example, CFC and the ozone layer) and it is there that I draw the lines with human nature and evolution. Lots of climate-sceptists around for example have no idea about either side of the conflict yet side with the one that suits their situation best, namely the one that doesn't make them change things.
Yeah right, because as we screw up in so many places, having the chance not to screw up in one place is despicable as it would delude our view on what else we screw up. Totally see your point! How about we let a couple more scrupulous dicks ruin the rainforest so people will see how important it is to take action? How about we find a cure for AIDS and trash it so people realize what a danger it is? Fabulous plan!
You aren't qualified to predict what happens when we are not ready for it because you don't appear to understand what "it" is in the first place.

You just don't seem to get the point. I state that invention of an energy source before we can restrain ourselves to use that energy sustainably is a bad thing. Just telling that nuclear fusion is purely a good thing and would mean ''we don't screw up'' while the point of my article is exactly to disprove that very thing. While you may not agree with it, this shit gives me the impression that nothing of it has even reached port.

Also I am more than qualified to give my opinion about this. Raving on about the practicalities of nuclear fusion isn't my main point and thus isn't of concern to it at all.

Edited by Shirou, 11 September 2010 - 01:01.

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#12 Golan

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 08:47

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

So nature to you is what we allow it to be? Thats no nature, thats a landfill. So now at the moment we are like every other species? I think we are completely different. We are not controlled or restrained by any ecoystem, we are completely independent. Anything a normal animal species takes from its environment is sustainable as otherwise it would serve to damage its own population in the end. Humanity does not seem to work this way.
"Normal" species only take sustainable amounts from their environment because the populations aren't big enough to create a greater strain. This is a passive process forced on them by circumstances, not a matter of actively working for it. Under shifting ecological circumstances, like a species introduced to an alien ecosystem or an existing ecosystem being changed, most species will destroy an ecosystem, as you pointed out in your initial post.
Humanity can cancel out many dangers due to our sheer numbers and resources, but neither are we autonomous from our ecosystem nor is this behavior of shielding ourselves a human trait - again, we just have the advantage of being the dominant species. We can only realistically live on less than 20% of our planets surface, thousands of people are dying every day due to their ecosystem not sustaining them, industrial nations have millions of people aggravate tons of diseases due to their own reduced ecosystem not properly supporting them and you say we aren't restrained? Every single thing you mentioned about us in your article will either restrain us or kill us so as long as we still live, yes we are fucking restrained!


View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

90 percent of it doesn't directly relate to fusion because there are many people like you who don't know the main points I am talking about. That is why I widened up about it so much and that is why it strayed from the fusion point a bit too much. I agree that I used the fusion point to title and outline article to gain the attention but I don't honestlly see whats wrong with that.
What's wrong with it is that you completely missed to coherently link Fusion to Doom but instead jumped straight to the conclusion!

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

What sustainabilty, exactly? If you hadn't noticed I just tried to make a point about our ''sustainable'' land use leading to continental soil degradation. Yet you impeccably managed to ignore it again. Whatever you believe, but in my opinion our current treatment of our environment is despicable. You only seem to see what is still there but if you would take the time to look a bit further it may clear some things up.
I didn't ignore it, I addressed it in the paragraph before the one you quoted. I'm not arguing against your depiction of the current status, which is mostly true, I'm arguing against the conclusions you draw. If you still haven't realized, I was talking about agricultural history as an example of how we as a Species only made it that far because we DON'T always ruin everything.

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

So being able to scour more hectares of forest a day than people were able in history because of technology is an efficiency leap rather than a threat. Now this is getting interesting...
Wait, what? How would any of the things I just talked about allow us an efficiency leap in destroying rainforests?
:D

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

So the question is how we can sustain a population of nine billion people in 2050 on our own welfare levels while it is clear that any other factor we need to sustain our life is not possibly available for 9 billion people. However apparently this energy requirement is fact and this is what the physicists have to prepare us for by making sure we have more energy. If people are this narrow minded and ignorant to think of anything broader then I don't know if I can trust those people.
Sorry, I don't quite follow. The question isn't at all how we can sustain a population of nine billion people, the question is how we can sustain the pure electrical energy demand of whatever population we have. Even if we have the electrical energy to sustain (the pure electrical energy demand of) nine billion people, that doesn't mean we'll HAVE nine billion people as, y'know, there are other factors probably preventing us from reaching that number. Like, those that you've listed as us miraculously circumventing them only for them to miraculously get back into effect and doom us.
And surely those people are narrow minded when they don't talk about your topic number 1 when this topic isn't the question posed to them. Totally see the point of the person who just condemned fusion power with 5488 characters. Damn those evil physicists only publicly talking about what they actually have a scientific clue about.

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

You just don't seem to get the point. I state that invention of an energy source before we can restrain ourselves to use that energy sustainably is a bad thing. Just telling that nuclear fusion is purely a good thing and would mean ''we don't screw up'' while the point of my article is exactly to disprove that very thing. While you may not agree with it, this shit gives me the impression that nothing of it has even reached port.
Well d'uh, then perhaps that should tell you that your article sucks at getting your point across!
You haven't been making an coherent argument about the effects of energy sustainably a single time.
You haven't been making an coherent argument for why we can't restrain ourselves in using fusion a single time.
You haven't been making an coherent argument to disprove that using fusion means ''we don't screw up'' a single time.

View PostShirou, on 11 Sep 2010, 0:56, said:

Also I am more than qualified to give my opinion about this. Raving on about the practicalities of nuclear fusion isn't my main point and thus isn't of concern to it at all.
The practicalities? You haven't even bothered with its features aside from "Ultimate Powaaah!!!". How can you draw a conclusion about something if you don't bother about what it is?!?

Edited by Golan, 11 September 2010 - 08:56.

Now go out and procreate. IN THE NAME OF DOOM!

#13 Shirou

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 09:47

Since I don't think it would lead to me responding coherently in yet another quote storm (I struggled to get the forum to accept my last response for like ten times due to incomplete quotes), I hope I can make a coherent story about this.

After reviewing my article I do agree that the point that I wanted to make isn't really coming across unless you agree with me in the first place. I also used nuclear fusion because in my views it is the only thing that could sustain our current energy use and increase, as I am skeptic about a world ran by solar/wind etcetera. I only meant to use the principle of an energy source that could sustain further development of the entire globe without having to deal with an energy crisis caused by fossil fuel depletion. This would be much in the way as energy researchers and policy makers would like to see it and of course it also looks like the best way to go, but it simply isn't that easy.

I thought about leaving this energy source completely abstract but that would lead my article to be too alien and weird, and thus I tried to use fusion although I agree that it isn't strengthening my point either if I don't know enough about it to make a qualified statement.

Anyway, I'll try to compress the point I wanted to make. I severely dislike the fact that, notably the US but in many other countries, the attention given to the environmental policy consists out of only a very narrow tunnel. Most of the public attention it is taken by the endless discussion on global warming and in relation to that the fossil fuel discussion. While this is one of the biggest factors that will govern the way our future is shaped ahead of us, the way this seems to be so utterly dominant seriously scares me. Listed as one of the ten big threats by the UN, environmental degradation is in my opinion a far bigger threat. Many of the things that I come across on my University courses, every one of them introducing a new global problem, I hadn't yet before heard of in the normal media. Looking back, global warming is actually the first environmental threat that actually got such massive media attention after CFCs and the ozone layer, so its not really that surprising.

The line that I drew between an introduced species habitat destruction and that of our own, is because of what you exactly said here:

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We can only realistically live on less than 20% of our planets surface, thousands of people are dying every day due to their ecosystem not sustaining them, industrial nations have millions of people aggravate tons of diseases due to their own reduced ecosystem not properly supporting them and you say we aren't restrained? Every single thing you mentioned about us in your article will either restrain us or kill us so as long as we still live, yes we are fucking restrained!


I didn't say or meant to say that nature did not restrain us already, I meant to say that mankind on those places did not do it himself before severe situations like this came to be.

Coming back to the energy question. I think that while having a sustainable energy resource before depletion of fossil fuels gets problematic wouldn't serve us well because env. degradation is going much faster than the awareness across the world is raising. Survival principle in low economic situations states that recycle, moderation and recovery come back into play normally. This process of a natural restraint forcing the numbers of humankind into sustainability is so much more powerful than if we would have to try and do it through educating six to nine billion people about the merits of not throwing their cans to the side of the road.

Edited by Shirou, 11 September 2010 - 09:50.

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