Machines, making machines, to make PVs, to power machines to make more….

9 10 2014

I know I lead a sheltered life, but what I have just discovered (and should have known existed, really…) has me nodding my head in disbelief.  We’ve all seen those mesmerising robots that weld cars together and even solder computer boards and assemble all manner of modern life’s little conveniences, but I have to admit it never occurred to me that they would be used to multiply…  like this:

THEN……  they are also used now to manufacture PVs…


After watching that, it’s really obvious why people are dazzled by technology…….  how can there ever be any limits to our ingenuity?  Well, for starters, how about the fact these things put huge numbers of people out of work, who can no longer afford to buy the stuff the robots make..?  Or that surely all this stuff was made with ever increasing amounts of non renewable resources, causing greenhouse emissions at every stage?

While participating in the Conversation’s degrowth article I’ve mentioned a couple of posts ago, this Ted-X presentation in Moscow came up.  It’s a bit longer than most at about 30 minutes, and I hasten to add the presenter Harald Sverdrup is not the most fluent public speaker I’ve ever seen, but his points are valid nonetheless.  If you are familiar with Limits to Growth, I recommend skipping the first half.  I’d love to know what you all think…




4 responses

9 10 2014
David Barnes

I’ve led anything but a sheltered life. Sheltered or not your comments are spot on.Its a madness.We are about to see in Geelong what the withdrawal of the manufacturing base does to a community. I saw the ” flamboyant” mayor there waffling on about how they would transition to a new brightly lit upland of tourism and service jobs based on the fact that there are beaches and wineries.Tell that to the middle aged worker now unemployed or the young school leaver facing an uncertain start.
People washing each other’s dogs, mowing each other’s lawns and serving coffee to each other. A metaphor for the nation as a whole as the debt levels mount.
As we tumble down the right hand side of the Hubbert Curve I guess all this is moot.
Cheers, David Barnes, Sydney.

9 10 2014

boy you do lead a sheltered cloistered life, chuckle. yeh those unemployed then pay no income tax, need welfare and public health assistance, need rental assistance, plus in the end those robot built products aren’t cheaper for he plastic wealthy set either, as sales fall and making less costs more.

funny hey

the best way employ people, robots get no wages pay no taxes.

9 10 2014

Energy is different from materials – use it once and it’s gone, no recycling possible. And energy is needed to do all the hard work of mining and refining and transport and electricity. So you can forget about the shortages of materials, because energy is the most critical shortage.

If the energy-supplying companies were to acknowledge Peak Energy, they would be acknowledging that they soon won’t be able to make a profit, and their share price would start falling. Then their credit lines would be called in and they would go bankrupt. Trillions of dollars’ worth of “assets” would suddenly evaporate and the growth system would implode and collapse.

So they will not acknowledge the correctness of Limits to Growth, ever. Instead they borrow more cheap money and use it to buy back their own shares, which makes the share price rise artificially – it’s easier than finding more oil and coal.

The resulting shortage of energy raises the price until it is so high that miners and manufacturers can’t make a profit and go bankrupt. This is why energy consumption is falling and living standards are falling right now, but it has only just got started.

Living standards can only fall so far before peoples’ children are hungry and they get very angry. If they protest in the streets, they will find themselves up against riot police with tear gas, pepper spray, batons, attack dogs, water cannons and guns. (see Sydney Sept 2012 ) And then SWAT teams at dawn to round up the organisers, and a full on crack down on dissent.

What other choice do governments have when they can’t feed their people, or organise enough fuel and electricity for them? None.

And if a revolution succeeds, how will the new regime do any better? They can’t.

I don’t know why the lecture didn’t look into this kind of future – simply saying “sustainability” wont cut it.

10 10 2014
randy Friesen

Great blog topic! Fascinating to watch an all mechanical assembly line. Not a human to be seen. What an amazing peak to our techno worshipping culture to have such a thing, albeit briefly. I live with some techno optimistic people and the video alone of the PV assembly should show why this will not go on much longer , the energy requirements and complexity of system needed to maintain it , will be hard to maintain if at all. I’d share it with them, but they still wouldn’t get it.
The TED talk seemed good, not the usual TED feelgood inspirational. Too long for me though to listen much. Thanks Randy

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