Monday, June 13, 2005

baseless opinions waxing

Peak oil will be a non-event
Personally, I don't think anything will happen. I look at "peak oil" in the very same way I looked at the "Year 2000 crisis" in 1999. "Peak oil" will be a non-event. We will see prices for gasoline go up, yes, and there may be some short term spikes that are a little disruptive, but overall I believe we will work this out in a natural way.

The very simple explanation for why this will happen can be summarized in about 15 words: As oil gets more expensive, other technologies will compete on price and replace oil.

Here is the simplest example. Right now, in 2005, we are about to reach the point where you can buy a tanker car full of soybean oil for about the same price as a tanker car full of diesel fuel. With a very simple reactor you can turn the vegetable oil into biodiesel. That puts a cap on the price of diesel fuel. Petroleum diesel prices cannot increase much above the price of biodiesel, or people will stop buying petroleum diesel.

Marshall Brain and his market driven opinions have been making the rounds. Not much content in his post, a lot of bowing and scraping to soybeans. Marshall: It is all about the energy returned on energy invested. If we want it positive, we're going to do it Brazilian style - that is - poor farmers farming by hand. I can see the boomers lining up to be serfs now. Sounds like honest work to me. Maybe the Indians will do it cheaper.

Then there is that useless Y2K analogy, one I've seen pop up before.

Y2K was a serious software meta-bug that was for the most part fixed by financial institutions at great expense. It had the potential to wreak havoc and melt down financial markets for a few months, which was why, many years before the year 2000, the investment was made to fix it. The Y2K scenario also happened to raise hysteria levels here and there due to a byteless conjunction with the western calendar.

"Peak Oil" -- or as I call it, Peak Oil, has no software fix. A bevy of aging cobol hackers will not fix our dependance on liquid fuels.


At 6:19 PM, June 13, 2005, Blogger WHT said...

I have seen a few of Brain's software books. After reading Brain's post, I believe we are seeing proof of the old adage "jack of all trades, master of none".

At 1:00 AM, June 14, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

After his peak oil post, he took some criticism, so he started another blog (looks to be maintaining 6 or 7) which is ostensibly an alt-energy blog.

It looks for all the world like he did a quick web search on alternative energy and posted the results without analysis.

But I guess somehow that bolsters his original argument, such as it is.

At 10:43 AM, June 14, 2005, Blogger WHT said...

That's what I thought. He can cherry-pick the data to meet any conclusion he desires. Brain chooses to cherry-pick to achieve some sort of technology nirvana solution.

Are we seeing the rise of Jerry Pournelle Jr. ?

At 12:24 AM, June 15, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

At least Pournelle is a confessed science fiction author.

Check the drivel in this review, in which M. Brain uses, doubtless only a fraction of his cognitive firepower, in "debunking" a fantasy movie.

It is damn funny. After this, no more brain man for me.

brain man:
"A robot like C-3PO will have a complete and highly detailed "situation image" for the entire ship, and for much of the rest of the galaxy as well. Millions of droids will integrate their views of the world together to create this image."

My comment: WTF?

brain man:
"would people still inhabit their bodies? Let's say that Darth Vader had the choice of leaving his brain in his messed-up human body, or transfering it to a robotic body with the athletic abilities of the robots in I, Robot. It is pretty clear that he would choose the robotic body. Humans on earth will start having this choice within the next 30 years or so."

My Comment: WTF? Further - people who claim we will be able to shortly download or upload or otherwise load our personalites onto computers are fools.

brain man:
"Now this is entirely too much. Within 10 to 20 years, humans will no longer have CDs, DVDs, memory cards or any other form of physical media. Instead, everything will be stored on the Internet, and the notion of "physical media" will have died."

My Comment: WTF? And the internet store data where - the freaking ether? AAAAERGGHHH YOU ARER A COMPUTER SCIENT%EST MARSHALL BRAIN

brain man:
"This is the main problem with using human guards -- they tend to make stupid mistakes. Thus, in a highly advanced society, the guards will be robots, not humans."

My Comment: WTF? And we are done. Marshall Brain has replaced stoopid hoonams with robots, who are even now putting together consumer goods on the moon for us (dvd players and cheetos) cuz it is cheaper, off course, in pelting us with them from the moon than our "old fashioned" method of using chinese serfs and cheap fossil fuels.


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