Capitalism IS the Crisis….

26 04 2014

I heard this film mentioned by Derrick Jensen at the end of that podcast I mentioned in Why we are still screwed….. Thorium or no Thorium!

It’s a bit long at one hour forty minutes – why is it doco producers seem to think their films can’t be as good if they’re edited shorter?  Anyhow, I still think it’s compulsory viewing….  especially for Australians who can have the advantage of seeing where Canada’s Harper government took its people.  Remember, we are just a couple of years behind, and Abbott could easily be Harper’s clone.

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14 responses

27 04 2014
Lindsay

Neo Marxism is not the answer either. We are in this mess because most people are ignorant and lazy and are happy to hand over authority to an elected official to do as they please as long as they get their due. Whether that be a welfare payment, a baby bonus or some form of corporate consideration. We’re all in it. It seems absurd to berate oil company executives and then fill up with the finest unleaded the moment we need to go out. If they’re so bad dump the car and start walking, I’ve yet to see anyone take their protest “that far”, hypocrites. Them, them, them is the mantra. Turn it around and look at ourselves. Do something different. Vote for an independent, break the grip of the political elites. But that might mean I don’t get X.

27 04 2014
mikestasse

Totally agree….. but look at “welfare payment, a baby bonus or some form of corporate consideration” and what have you got? MONEY…. Everything’s measured with money, nobody does anything anymore unless there’s something in it for them, and that something’s always money.

Once upon a time, we just helped each other whenever someone needed assistance. Almost no one had money 200 years ago………

27 04 2014
robertheinlein

We don’t need to decide between capitalism or socialism. Collaborationism will win by mid-century. Read Jeremy Rifkin’s new book [i]The Zero Marginal Cost Society[/i] and you’ll see that socialism and capitalism are dying forms of culture. The Free Culture will subsume them.

27 04 2014
Mulga Mumblebrain

How does the ‘Free Culture’ end ecological destruction and repair the damage already done?

27 04 2014
mikestasse

I started watching this but only got as far as 6 or so minutes because I could not help wondering how Rifkin, of all people, think this will happen in an energy crisis? Hasn’t he stopped pushing the Hydrogen economy?

27 04 2014
robertheinlein

Big Oil would like you to think there’s an energy crisis. In reality, there is not. Big Oil requires high energy prices to allow them to make a profit extracting oil & gas.

In less than two decades we will be able to capture enough solar energy to meet all of mankind’s energy needs. We will eliminate fossil fuels the old-fashioned way: drive them out of the market via price. At the rate we are going, this will happen by 2027 at the current doubling every 2-year rate. This is what has Big Oil running scared. Sanford Bernstein just published a report where they foresee price deflation in energy caused by solar within the decade. They note that large investments in new oil & gas will dry up once large investors realize that they will never be able to realize the expected value of fossil fuel reserves held underground (see my blog entry http://marketclues.blogspot.com/2014/04/energy-price-deflation-coming.html for more detail).

27 04 2014
mikestasse

In your dreams…….. exactly how do you anticipate we will make solar panels without oil? How will we mine all that stuff needed in the production, let alone build the factories and transmission lines without steel and concrete?

And where exactly have you read “Big Oil would like you to think there’s an energy crisis”? Everything I read from the fossil fuel industry tells me we have hundreds of years of the stuff left….

It’s not the PRICE of solar that matters, it’s its ERoEI.
https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/tilting-at-windmills/

28 04 2014
robertheinlein

We have enough oil to make solar panels, especially if we stop burning up most of it. For that matter, why not use solar panels to generate the energy we need to make more? If we have electricity, we can create the oil that’s required to make solar panels (which isn’t very much). There is very little mining involved in making solar panels, which is why they are cheaper and getting much cheaper. Why do we need transmission lines? One of the great benefits of solar is that it can be distributed. We don’t need to build out solar in the old 2nd Industrial Revolution way where massive centralization is required. Each rooftop becomes a factory producing (essentially) free energy. Once the installation costs are paid for, it’s all free.

If it’s ERoEI that counts, then think of how much the energy from the sun costs: zero. The rest is an engineering problem to be optimized. The study cited is incredibly flawed as it concentrates on an older solar technology that has already been obsoleted by advanced engineering. And, it uses an industrial example, not the rooftop solar model, so it doesn’t even apply to this discussion.

28 04 2014
mikestasse

Robert, do you NOT understand ERoEI? IF solar does indeed have an ERoEI of only 2.5 – and if there’s one person I trust on this it’s Pedro – then a WHOLE 1 from the 2.5 is needed just to recover the original energy expended. Now, you want to use the 1.5 surplus to make oil? Making oil from thin air has an even lower ERoEI than solar! By the time you’ve finished doing that your ERoEI would be negative…. The 20th Century was built with oil ranging in ERoEI from 100:1 to 50:1 Already, now we have to use low ERoEI oil (at least double that of solar still..), growth is struggling, and as a result the economy will tank, nobody will subsidise your solar panels, and either the price will skyrocket, or production will cease.

That the sun’s energy is free is not an issue. We still need to make the conversion equipment to turn sunlight into something we can use. And if you think we can make panels with more panels, then show me where they do this. I know of only one attempt, and it was a failure. Solarex built a ‘solar breeder’ http://www.arttec.net/SolarPower/4_Hardware/Solarex_breeder_plant.jpg which BP promptly dismantled when they bought that company. You can attach a conspiracy theory to that if you wish, but the fact remains that PVs are framed in Aluminium and the cells protected with safety glass, wired with copper, all of which requires mining of Silica, Aluminium and Copper, not to mention the rare earths like Gallium etc..

There’s only one reason Chinese PVs are so cheap: they’re subsidised! And even when subsidised, the companies STILL go broke…. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2013/04/09/solar-companies-continue-to-go-bankrupt/

Like I said……. in your dreams!

29 04 2014
robertheinlein

Mike, Your argument is analogous to arguing that because an IBM System 370 Model 155 of 1970 only had 1 MB of main storage, we could never have enough computer power to run the Internet. You’re mixing up old tech with future tech and it’s a specious argument. Solar technology does not stand still! It progresses at an exponential rate. Just like computer technology today is billions of times more powerful (and much cheaper) than 1970s computer tech, solar will advance a billion-fold, becoming far cheaper to build in the process. Trying to argue that technology will simply stop progressing is like arguing that the sun will stand still.

Then there’s storage tech, where we are making huge advances which will allow us to store solar energy for use when the sun isn’t shining. That’s growing faster than solar itself and will see a similar exponential increase in capacity alongside a huge decline in cost.

29 04 2014
mikestasse

Your analogy is totally off…… had solar technology moved along at anything like computer technology pace, we would now have 100% efficient solar panels made of things we have never even heard of……..

Instead, we still use Silicon cells exactly made as they were in the 1990s when I studied this stuff, only slightly better wired to improve efficiency from 12% to 17% (I’m talking about off the shelf stuff here – because NASA satellite standard panels of 25% efficiency are simply unaffordable), and they’re made to be easily interconnected using plugged tails…….

The biggest difference between the 90s and today is that instead of standalone inverters, the majority of new inverters are grid tied. And they’re made with cheap Chinese labour instead of expensive American or Australian labour.

Even storage tech is little changed. Until just a few months ago, I had a 48V 500Ah bank of lead acid batteries here in my own house that was considered industry standard Rolls Royce of batteries. Those EXACT SAME batteries were available in the 90’s when I studied Renewable Energy Technology……! They were the best then, and they still are.. The only improvement, which I will try when I build my next house totally off the grid this time are Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries designed not for domestic solar storage but electric cars. Their cost too has dramatically come down since they are made in……. you guessed it, CHINA.

China is the biggest difference in solar equipment these days…… NOT technology.

29 04 2014
robertheinlein

Solar and storage have their own individual development curves that aren’t identical (in phase, particularly) to other products, although the general shape of the curve is similar. In the past few decades we have been in the slow-growth part of those exponential growth curves and it has seemed to be slow progress. However, as you know, an exponential curve has a knee and once that knee is passed, growth accelerates. You have an exponential growth on top of an exponential growth—a double exponential. We are getting very close to the knee of the curve today where the rapid development will amaze you.

Lead-acid is indeed ancient technology. Current storage technology is several times better as Wikipedia will attest. Future storage technology is going to be several orders of magnitude even better. According to Wikipedia’s energy density table in the Rechargeable Battery article, lead-acid has only 30-40 Wh/kg while several new kinds of batteries are an order of magnitude better. Very soon, a product will be introduced with a high storage capacity, but low cost. The technology today in the labs will reach the consumer market soon, resulting in a massive change in the market as the Sanford Bernstein study states. Their timeline of a decade is much too long. The changes will happen quickly and those changes are coming later this year.

As for solar, new varieties of solar will allow much more flexibility in packaging (eliminating the mining requirement) and low cost, automated production with cheap raw materials as input. The theoretical efficiency of solar is said to be 60%, but efficiencies higher than that have been achieved in the laboratory already.

The bottom line is that we have been fooled by slow growth to date into thinking progress is linear. It’s not, it’s a double exponential, but we’ve been too close to the curve to recognize it.

29 04 2014
mikestasse

Ever heard of kneecapping………..?? That’s what Peak Oil and economic collapse and climate change will do to your green wet dream.

The biggest differences between the “green economy” and “industrial economy” are in the name and marketing strategies. The planet cannot support industrial wind or solar schemes any more than it can industrial coal or gas projects.

27 04 2014
MargfromTassie

Mike is right. In addition, there are thousands of products that are made from petroleum itself, including fertilizers. Here are some :-
http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm

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