Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Next Big Thing

I was visiting with the CEO of a billion dollar company today.

I was loaning him my copy of The Long Emergency.

We talked about how Peak Oil was now definitely in the lingo.

As we began to chat on,

He remarked that things were moving back to coal and nuclear,

that these were becoming the safe bets.

I thought to myself,

Coal and nuclear plants are as safe a bet as buggy whips were

at the turn of the century before last.

I spoke to him about the risk associated with building a coal plant,

About how the plant for most of its life,

will be subject to CO 2 controls,

just like they are subject to controls on SO2 right now.

He was familiar with the concept.

He is getting ready to spend perhaps 100 million on SO 2 scrubbers.

We went from there to other things.

In trying to predict the future,

I told him that I try to look at the big drivers and then

create branches or logic trees that emanate from these drivers.

He had no problem imagining that the emerging consensus

on climate change

would no doubt effect the cost of new coal plants.

But I could tell that I lost him when I spoke about the 1 in 5 chance

of a War in Iran in the next few months,

and the resulting likelihood of substantial breakdown of oil supplies

that would occur from such a conflict in the Persian Gulf.

He did understand that a growing world wide competition

between the US and China would just continue,

and that the seeds of conflict surely reside in that struggle.

But then I mentioned that a Bird Flu could change everything.

China would be so busy burying some large percent of its billion

that it might forget to grow for a decade or so.

Of course the rest of the world wouldn't fair so well either.

That would certainly postpone the Peak Oil problem.

The International Energy Agency calls that demand destruction.

I told him that I don't agree with Kunstler and the Long Emergency,

But I thought that it had value, if for nothing else,

to shock people out of their SUV stupors.

We spoke briefly about emergency planning,

about how to turn a city into a bunch of villages,

but it really didn't sink in.

And of course we talked about terrorism,

but he didn't connect it to the risk of building new nuclear plants.

There is a book out that says that the next big thing,

will be about really small things.

It is about nanotechnology.

Which if it all goes right.

It will be.

Unless of course,

It doesn't.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

Albert Einstein


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4 Comments:

Blogger archive said...

i like the critical flow of this post. wielding information with ease. very nice, indeed.

2:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post is remarkably prescient given today's news.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Steve's comment. I was thinking the same thing. He said it more eloquently.

The quote from Einstein is a good punch line. Perhaps we can get jolted to our senses without a major punch line.

8:11 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

If the United States can maintain its control over Iraq, with the world's second largest known oil reserves, and right at the heart of the world's major energy supplies, that will enhance significantly its strategic power and influence over its major rivals in the tripolar world that has been taking shape for the past 30 years: US-dominated North America, Europe, and Northeast Asia, linked to South and Southeast Asia economies.

It is a rational calculation, on the assumption that human survival is not particularly significant in comparison with short-term power and wealth.

Noam Chomskey

8:38 AM  

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