[p2p-research] Earth's carrying capacity and Catton

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 16 23:28:03 CEST 2009

On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Ryan Lanham wrote:
>> Photovoltaic (current from light) is highly problematic so far.  It
>>>> produces
>>>> lots of waste plastics and requires many nasty chemicals.  Plus the
>>>> electronics burn out...some over longer times than others, but they burn
>>>> out.
>>>>  Oh, come one. Citations? Solar panels usually have twenty to thirty
>>> year
>>> warranties, and seem to last even  longer. In thirty years we'll likely
>>> have
>>> all kinds of amazing material science -- maybe including nanotech
>>> disassemblers.
>> It's a great question.  What exactly are the waste products associated
>> with
>> solar...and how much carbon is used to make a panel?
>> Whenever I ask these questions to the "green" solar manufacturers, I get
>> blank stares or angry and factless retorts.  I don't believe there is
>> green
>> active solar yet.   Until someone shows that they have long mean-time
>> between failures, low waste energy and carbon costs per Kw/h, and can be
>> disposed of without major issues...I am skeptical of the whole industry.
>> For now, it is moot because the costs rule them out as serious contenders
>> for wide scale use.
>> That these are nasty to produce is not controversial. Cadmium and selenium
>> (both nasty) are widely used.  There are numerous patents and methods
>> meant
>> to rectify the problems.  None are industry scale so far as I know.
> And you are saying, that producing enough solar panels in the USA for
> everyone is very much worse that producing the 250 million cars currently on
> the road, in terms of pollution? Let alone all the asphalt cars run on?
> (Ignoring the oil they burn and what that takes.)
No, but people get utility from cars.  The utility that comes from solar
devices has to be greater than the costs or I seriously doubt a market-based
society will implement them.  You can call for ending the US as it is, and
I'm not sure I'd be against you, but to be for you, I'd need to see the
plan, or as John Lennon put it...You say you want a revolution...well, you
know...we all want to change the world!

I am as against carbon as anyone.  I have been for not 3 or 5 years...but
15, and can document it.   So I've learned to be frustrated, doubtful, etc.
OTEC was ready for a full go in 1970.  We still don't have a commercial
scale plant.  40 years.  Salinomycin was invented in 1970.  We just
discovered it kills cancer cells.  First to clinical at production scales
estimated at 2020...50 years.

I live in political worlds and I know a bit about how politicians and
business leaders think.  There has to be a transitional logic...a working
model of the evolution.  That's why so many radicals want revolution.  But
just watch Obama bog down.  It isn't new or surprising.  Change is
fantastically difficult.  And yet it happens.  I just don't get too excited
about the easy modes we can adopt to save the world if only everyone would
just love each other and share our abundance!
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