Sustainability of Human Progress

Check out this website I found at www-formal.stanford.edu

I haven’t read through all of this, but what I have read seems well-thought-out, and highly coherent and documented.

In particular I like his assessment of global warming: it’s level-headed and looks at the facts.

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One thought on “Sustainability of Human Progress

  1. Rob McMillin

    Having studied the energy problems some, I think he elides a lot. For instance, the 1970’s-era Japanese study on extracting uranium from seawater asserted a raw material price of yellowcake at about $200/kg, IIRC, at which this becomes economically feasible. But what I wonder is, how much of that is energy expense, and are they assuming current prices? I have to believe the answers to those questions are "most of it" and "yes". That is to say, it appears that this will never be economically feasible because it is not *energetically* feasible — you’re paying out too much in energy inputs to extract too little in uranium to pay it back. So this suffers from the vanishing horizon problem that we often see in other areas. I expect more of this as natural gas becomes increasingly valuable as a commodity itself, rather than something used to extract oil from the Canadian tar sands, or used to refine the sticky, heavy oil coming out of Venezuela’s Orinoco River belt. Similar issues exist with solar and wind that will ultimately prevent them from providing the levels of energy needed to sustain a modern industrial economy.In the medium term, thorium fission is the answer, fusion — if we can ever make that work — the long-term answer.

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