Monday, October 06, 2008

The machinery of civilization

Insty notes something about it here, which got me thinking. I've come to the conclusion(long time ago, but it kind of coalesced now) that to an awful lot of people that machinery just appears from somewhere. Kind of like food appears in the grocery store.

I once worked it out for someone. They thought getting rid of all the nasty coal and gas and oil-fueled power plants would be just wonderful, somehow doing so would force clean, abundant alternate sources to appear(the Pure Effing Magic effect). So I asked them if metals would be needed for society to continue? Machines and tools and so forth? Of course, they said.

So how are you going to make them? The metals, and the tools?

I don't think that'd ever really occurred. How DO you make them?

Ok, so at the most basic level, metal tools, that means forging them. Will coal be allowed as a fuel for the fire? No? Too dirty? So back to the original. Charcoal.


Yep. Over time whole sections of forest were cleared by the charcoal burners, turning trees into forge and furnace and cooking fuel. One forge might not use that much, but a bunch? Not to mention the furnaces to refine metal from ore, and recycle steel and brass and copper(to mention a few); say goodbye to a LOT of trees. What? Can't allow that? Well, then, considering that you cannot name one alternate energy source capable of replacing oil and gas and coal(not going into nuke plants right now), in efficiency and cost and space in the next ten years(at least, barring a miracle-level discovery) let alone right now when you turn off the currently operating plants, we're screwed. If you did allow charcoal you'd have to log off most of the forest on the continent to keep a metals industry of any size going.

Which connects to, I wonder if a lot of the enviroweenies have really thought about what the effect is on people in third-world countries when they try to deny them coal or whatever-fired power? That means cutting trees and drying animal crap for fuel; the latter is not exactly fun, the former means cutting trees and spending a lot of time each day to get the fuel just to cook food. I know the real nutcase level greenies have a solution: let die off(or kill off) so much of the population that the nasty humans are no longer any real influence on Mother Gaia; but for the less genocidal/homicidal types, what the hell do they THINK people are going to do? Solar panels won't cut it, wind won't cut it(either one on any real scale), and the greenies break out in hives at the thought of dams, so the question becomes WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THESE PEOPLE TO DO? They want the machinery of civilization, badly. And they get really, really pissed when you tell them they can't have it, to stay in their quaint little villages and be happy.


Dave said...

You wrote "I wonder if a lot of the enviroweenies have really thought".

Full Stop.

No, they haven't.

Anonymous said...

The really good news is that if they manage to get their way, we will no longer have any reason not to kill them - ie too many useless mouths sitting around the fire...

GunGeek said...

I remember reading about instances of third worlders having to deal with declining crops because they were using all the dung as fuel instead of fertilizer. Why? Because some do-gooders managed to prevent them from being able to cut down the trees for fuel.

Folks were starving because their crop yields were way below normal.

Fire said...

Do those environuts EVER really think about anything and view the FULL picture? I haven't seen one do so yet.

oldblinddog said...

Well of course solar will work. You see you just set up your forge on the front side of Mercury and NASA can haul the steel back to Earth for us - free - and, and... oh, nevermind.

Brent the Crude said...

There was one thing Malthus did not forsee:

The use of Fossil fuels to till land (frees up the land that grew oats and hay for horses)and,

synthesise fertilisers and pesticides (grow more on that land.

Apart from that, Malthus was right: land has a finite carrying capacity.

Do away with the fossil fuels and watch around 3,500,000,000 excess population starving and fighting for land.

Not even Stalin and Mao achieved that kind of fammine and slaughter.


GunGeek said...

It's not just the use of fossil fuels to till the land that freed up the oat and hay growing acreage, the use of fossil fuels also freed up the land used to provide food for all of our personal and commercial transportation animals.

And, as bad as vehicular exhaust is, it's a far sight better than horse, uh, "exhaust" is when it's filling the streets.

Firehand said...

I've read accounts of major cities in the late 1800's, and the enormous amount of horse crap in the streets. And the smell, and flies. Yuck.

Brent said...

Not to mention the increased length of traffic jams (just look how long a horse drawn vehicle is)