Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Debunking the Doomsayers

Note-- This article was originally a response to an article also written on blog spot entitled, "Sorry no Gas". What I love about this article is another limitation on the human mind I call "Lack of informed imagination". Inventors are rarely afflicted by this. Unfortunately most bureaucrats and those in job that perpetually look into the past are loaded down with a lack of imagination. The author of "Sorry no Gas" is one of the better examples of this breed and thus I give him credit for good writing. What he says would even be true if suddenly all the scientists were to simply stop discovering and inventors stopped inventing. Fortunately for humanity scientist and inventors still gain great wealth and social prestige from doing what they are doing (at least in the capitalist west). What you should take away from this article is the fact that inventors will be needed to create a future with more knowledge and fewer limitations then we are accustomed to today. A slowdown in technological progress could be disastrous for us in this future of limited oil.

Most signs of progress seems to be increasing in pace as information is exchanged among researchers. The only real worry of mine is the falling standards of education we are seeing world wide. Smart motivated children are the fuel on which humanities future is built. Humans would largely perish from the Earth without children who out preform their elders in the art of discovery. Anything that slows down technical progress should be looked at through this lens. The current population on earth would not be possible minus what we have invented so far.

With that in mind, read the article "Sorry no Gas" then read my responses and the research behind it (provided below).


The doom and gloom crowd forgets one very important fact about resource depletion. We are entering the era of genetic and nano engineering. As resources become more scare, nano robots building everything from raw meat to skyscrapers from scratch, could keep humanity ahead of the depleting oil. The line between machine and organism is going to become quite blurred in the next 20-40 years. Never underestimate science (or a better word perhaps is intelligent individuals armed with good info) to ultimately defeat every big resource shortage that comes our way. Resource depletion can only destory major sections of the human population, IF progress in Nano and Genetic engineering is slowed down by narrow minded traditionalists. (which is not to say some safety features should not be built into this emerging tech to avoid disaster).

Amazing new things are on the horizon that will make peak oil seem as alarmist as coal shortages in the 19th century appear to modern eyes now. Solar panels that grow them selfs after a technician programs the cells to do so. That is just a sampling of the sort of tech we as humans are going to be accustomed to. Fifty years ago somebody who said that humans could communicate at the speed of light, sending ideas and money across contentments would have been dismissed as a science fiction writer. Today we are now using the internet. That tiny fraction of geniuses that lifted humanity out of the dark ages will also lift humanity out of the sort of inefficiency and physical want we are again experiencing. The moldy over bureaucratized United States dominion is masquerading as some form of resource apocalypse. The fact is when you look at the price of oil in terms of gold grams instead of dollars the actual scarcity of of oil measured in the market price.... has not even budged! (The chart below is courtesy of or

Look at the chart and assume that oil will be really expensive in another 20 year even when valued in a currency that does not depreciate such as gold or silver, even if that is not the case at the moment. Still I am rather hopeful because human beings are not in fact animals but rather a transitional form away from blind biological machinery toward greater intellect.
Unlike animals: Humans can remake the physical world by unlocking many of the physical laws that make the universe function. Human intelligence would have eventually come up with industrial civilization even with no hydro carbons in the ground. It may have taken longer to get to the tipping point, but humans would have reached it. My only cause for concern is the lingering animal instincts that humans display when put under serious survival pressure.

The question is can humanity overcome some of its age old superstitions? For instance many humans were killing cats in mid-evil Europe because they were believed to be witches in animal form. This placed no population check upon the rats that actually carried the black plague. Is this superstition so different from todays objections to bio medical research, that will keep us ahead of resource depletion? Another example would be how the repressiveness of governmental/educational institutions in most of the world keeps human potential unrealized. If enough of the old tradition and ignorance can be stripped away, the young will solve problems their elders could only despair over. It happens over and over through history. Physical limits on growth only become a problem when the growth of human knowledge slows down too much. Oil is only irreplaceable to a mindset that has no room for what has yet to be invented. Solar, nuclear and many other forms of power are in their pre-modle T phase if you liken them to a automobile development. Such early beginnings will seem primitive against what will be developed in even so short a time as 10 years.

Admittedly their is some cause for gloom in the short term. This recent "recession of democracy" is in large part due to resource depletion. On the plus side is that outer space has plenty of room to allow humans to truly matter in the cosmic sense.(instead of being a biological also ran, waiting for the next big asteroid impact) Governments that give inventors a dis-incentive to ply their mankind saving trade, is the real threat that gives "resource depletion" a chance to catch up to a spry humanity, that has outpaced poverty with knowledge for some time now. While many doom sayers are right to warn of a partial breakdown of society (particularly in the third world) and correctly point out how hard oil is to replace. Where these gloomy bureaucrats go wrong is the when they value human enginunity so lightly against the troubles we face now. Every 50-60 years their is a crisis of civilization. This crisis is called the "Kondratieff Winter"

Terra formation of Mars and other suitable worlds, asteroids, and other heavenly bodies made habitable by technology will likely make population problems on earth as quaint a problem as in-breeding is to a modern resident of any major city. Even with the primitive tech we have enough technology to form a major self supporting outpost on Mars or even a tiny city is not out of the question (and less impractical then you might imagine).

Before the technology catches up to us their will be the normal interval of war and strife. (muted by nuclear weapons this time around but longer lasting to be sure then WWII). Huge changes are afoot but none of them are likely to be very palatable. Our next 20 years are likely to be harder then our previous 20 years. Precious metals will likely kill fiat money and technology will be put to very sinister ends. Through it all humanity will survive and that tiny subset of humanity that invents new industries, will likely have saved us once again. No need for the doom and gloom in the long run but likely the first fifth of the 21'st century will be unhappy to be sure.

Sincerely Gordon Angelino (Raptoreyes)


(Nano technology)

Nano by Ed Regis (accessible to a non technical individual)

Engines of Creation by K Eric Drexler.(recommended only for engineers)

(Terra forming)

Entering Space by Robert Zubrin

Look up NASA's "Mars Direct" plan in early stage implementation now!

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