I received this email this morning from a friend who works at the prestigious University of Western Australia, if you're interested in this sort of thing, read to the bottom.
I was wondering what to do at lunch time then I got this email about a free lecture, could be interesting.
Our dependency on fossil fuels must decline, so we look to so-called renewable or sustainable energy sources to fuel human endeavour. In his recent book ‘Our Choice’, Al Gore says “…once the renewable infrastructure is built, the fuel is free forever. Unlike carbon-based fuels, the wind and the sun and the earth itself, provide fuel that is free, in amounts that are effectively limitless.” Unfortunately Al Gore does humanity and even the earth itself a huge disservice by propagating this widely-believed delusion. The laws of thermodynamics tell us that this is wrong. The entropy of planet earth continues to increase inexorably and our ability to capture energy from the sun or earth is finite, dependent on resources that we dig from the ground (metals in particular). None of the alternative energy sources is sustainable on an industrial scale, even biofuels. Despite what our leaders say, science and technology cannot provide the solution to humanity’s appetite for energy. But science can help in the transition to a truly sustainable future. We scientists have a responsibility to tell the truth and dispel the Gore delusion. Once humanity emerges from the current period of energy intoxication, and if the environmental hangover is not too severe, the earth will be able to support a small human population enjoying a sustainable, scientifically-enriched and fulfilling life.
Hopefully this thread won't be closed! Harry
At the University of Toronto, a scientist named Ted Sergeant has invented an infra-red photovoltaic that will function even on cloudy days. It can be installed as a paint. At the moment, production is too expensive for all but experimental uses. We expect that will change as experimentation goes forward. If the world's population were to stabilize around, say, 3 billion, we could easily develop a sustainable lifestyle just on Mr. Sergeant's invention alone.
This will never happen. There are the exploitative and the greedy and those who will try to dictate our thoughts that will never allow this to happen. Perhaps in Denmark but never in the U.S. or the middle East. There are too many wars being fought specifically intended to ensure economic or religious domination. Perhaps the Chinese will change things but based on what I see at the moment, I doubt it. War is an effective reducer of population. It is quicker, and more profitable, than education.
However, Mother Nature herself may provide the deciding blow. The violence of storms and earthquakes increases with each incident. It is rather ironic that these "incidents" seem most violent north of the tropic of cancer, the source of a large part of the world's pollution. At some point it is reasonable to assume that the cost of recovering from violent natural acts will exceed our ability to pay. When this happens, anarchy will reign. Only then will the survival of humanity be decided.
The intelligentsia will flee taking their knowledge with them leaving the rest to die out. The greedy will not be welcomed in sharing societies. It is ironic that the system the U.S. uses at its borders to keep people out will eventually be used to keep people in.
Our environment will handle an extreme amount of dirt. Look at the year with no summer in 1816 when the Mount Tambora volcanic eruption polluted the atmosphere so completely that it snowed in Quebec City, in July. ("the snow was up to the carriage axle trees") It took barely a year for the atmosphere to cleanse itself. In those societies where social constraint (thus consumption) can be followed, educated, sharing, societies will survive.
Then, humanity will go through it's most dramatic evolution since the demise of the dinosaurs as such societies prosper (not grow) and the others die off.
The single most critical key to the survival of humanity is extensive and effective education. This will not happen where greed and exploitation reign. So, the question now becomes how does society effect such change? Further, how much greed is enough to advance technologies without upsetting the philosophy of sharing? It seems ironic. We demeaned our first nations' philosophies only to learn that they had the right idea in the first place.
There are two kinds of discussion that will flow out of this. There are those who will present clear debate to what I say above. Then there are those who will attempt to "discredit the messenger." To them I say, I have no credibility worthy of your vitriol. Save your breath. You may need it someday.