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Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Challenge of the Senescence Century

The 20th Century saw the growth of the global economy, led by the US, at the expense of divestment of natural material wealth, particularly oil. The 21st Century began with the explosion of debt as the money virus infected the economies of many developed countries. Developing countries are doing their best to emulate this perceived progress. This unsustainable process is coming to an end. So is the high material standard of living of the middle classes.

Economic growth, without taking into account ecological costs, has been fostered by governments and business to grow their wealth, regardless of the impact on the masses or the environment. But nature will inevitably fight back. Irreversible rapid climate change is one unintended consequence of the ravishing of its life support system by civilization. Other will follow as civilization enters its senescence.

Society will slowly wake up to what has gone wrong. The smart ones will rise to the challenge of instilling measures that will ease the inevitable powering down by ensuring the provision of the essentials, food, water, shelter, sanitation, education, health care and security. At the same time, efforts will be made to retain the worthwhile features of current society in the arts, science and knowledge fields. This will entail relearning some of the fundamental skills, including farming, to enhance community living.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Technology fails us

A tablet in the nearby nature reserve describes how bushfires (wildfires) are a natural way to renew the range of plants that have made up the bush for eons. It details the different mechanisms that varieties of trees use to either quickly or slowly renew their lives from the damage the fire did. Botanists, no doubt, have a greater understanding of this wonder of nature. However, the short description on the tablet tells the basis of this sustainable renewal process.

The Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria destroyed a number of towns, houses, schools and the associated infrastructure. These are being slowly rebuild with aging technological systems irreversibly using energy and materials out of the depleting natural store while producing irrevocable waste. This replacement process does not emulate the proven natural renewal process. It is an unsustainable process that will gradually diminish this century as available natural resources run down.

The natural renewal following bushfires and the inability of our systems to emulate this natural process is but one example of the difference between the way natural forces operate and what the systems of civilization can do. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions are other natural traumas that have occurred over the ages from which the eco systems have slowly recovered. But the systems of civilization damaged by these traumas that can be quickly repaired depends on the availability of the necessary materials, energy and human skills to operate the technological systems. That possibility is declining as the natural resources required, including oil, become more difficult to supply.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Future cars

The automotive industry has the size and research capabilities to tackle the growing predicament of the failings of the internal combustion engine using hydrocarbon fuels. The emissions from conventional cars and trucks contribute to climate change. The availability of the fuels for these vehicles is becoming more questionable as the number of them increases due to the emerging demand in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil while the extraction of oil becomes a bigger problem. It is no surprise, therefore, that automotive companies are devoting appreciable resources to alternatives to the internal combustion engine to power these machines. Hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors and other means have been brought to the proving stage. They all have their advantages and disadvantages so only experience will determine which ones, if any, largely replace the conventional vehicle. The liquid nitrogen powered car is now receiving attention as its advantages seem to outweigh its rivals even at this early stage of development.

These considerations of the merit of various forms of powering motor vehicles are to be expected of the global automotive industry. They have the objective of producing something that will expand their market share. This myopic view does not take into account that the vehicles they produce are made of irreplaceable materials and they have a limited life. Recycling scrap cars does not change the principle that the manufacture of various types of cars is an unsustainable process.

It is certain that in the relatively near future only a small section of society will be able to afford to run cars. They will be able to bless the fact that they no loner have to cope with traffic congestion. But the masses will not cope pleasantly with withdrawal of the means of transport they have become dependent on.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

High Frequency Trading dilemma

High Frequency Trading (HFT) using super fast algorithms is a virus that has infiltrated stock market trading. It gives the users the capability to make money at the expense of others. It is a factor in the exponential growth of the wealth of the 1%. It is one of the products of the information revolution using vastly improved electronic devices It is an unsustainable meme. Intangible money can only be conjured up out of thin air only as long as available tangible natural resources can support materialistic operations. Those days are coming to an end as natural resources such as oil and rare earth minerals run out. Those using HFT will be in a good position to cope with the inevitable powering down that the masses will find so hard. But the 1% will be lost without the services provided by infrastructure before it decayed. The denizens of Wall Street are reliant on computing serves such as HFT so will suffer dire withdrawal symptoms.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

energy delusion

People appreciate the ability to use energy. They like to feel energetic as they contemplate their activities for the day. They enjoy the contributions that energy makes to the cooking of their meals, providing hot water for their shower, propelling their car, powering their computers and at the end of the day providing lighting. Many can take this supply of energy for granted, even when they pay the bills, so they give little thought to its source. They do know that they get their energy from the food they eat. They give even less thought to what happens to the energy after it has done the work or provided a service. most do not know that it invariably ends up as waste heat that is radiated to outer space. It is gone forever. That would not worry them as they know the Sun sends us energy in sunshine and that is forever, as far as we are concerned. However, ,most of the energy

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