Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The end of industrial civilization

I'm on a kick right now reading a series of recent books on civilizational decline, trying to understand what a post-industrial future will look like, and what living through the transition away from an energy-intensive civilizational framework will feel like, both physically and intellectually. There's a variety of important texts out there for understanding what this process will look like, and I'll be posting from my readings regularly. 

So far my thinking on this topic has been particularly influenced by Tainter's The Collapse of Civilizations, Homer-Dixon's The Upside of Down (who I've blogged about before),Orlov's Reinventing Collapse (which I first blogged about here), Kunstler's The Long Emergency, Greer's The Long Descent, and John Robb's invaluable blog, Global Guerrillas.

These gentlemen (and it seems that most all writers on this topic are North American men--a fact possibly worth pondering) come from a wide variety of political and technical backgrounds, but they all converge on a common set of themes. The key variable, for most of them, is peak oil (or, more precisely, the asymptotic approach of EROI toward 1.0). This spells the end of the energy-intensive, globalized industrialism that U.S. politicians like to refer to as the American Way of Life. They concur that the industrial world will not end in a bang but rather in a whimper. (All them rightly excoriate End Days-Road Warrior apocalyptic visions as merely the inversion of the faith that endless technical progress will forever propel our civilization forward, eventually to other solar systems.) Most agree that the secular decline has begun in the center of this industrial civilization, marked by the stagnation or decline in the median standard of living over the last generation. All agree that the ride down will take a long time, and be, in technical economic terms, very lumpy. Most of them, I suspect, would agree with me that Hurricane Katrina, in both its ecological and its political implications, was not a one-off failure but rather represents a dark glass for scrying the future. All agree that government isn't going to save us, and suggest various strategies for learning to live locally.

So what will this look like as we play it forward? For my money, the best brief scenario for what this decline will look like is Greer's:
Imagine an American woman born in 1960. She sees the gas lines of the 1970s, the short-term political gimmicks that papered over the crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, and the renewed trouble in the following decades. Periods of economic and political crisis, broken by intervals of partial recovery, shape the rest of her life. By the time she turns 70, she lives in a beleaguered, malfunctioning city where nearly half the population has no reliable access to clean water, electricity, or health care. Shantytowns spread in the shadow of skyscrapers while political and economic leaders keep insisting things are getting better.

Her great-grandson, born in 2040, manages to avoid the smorgasbord of diseases, the pervasive violence, and the pandemic alcohol and drug abuse that claim a quarter of his generation before age 30. A lucky break gets him into a technical career, safe from military service in endless overseas wars or "pacification actions" against separatist guerrillas at home. His technical knowledge consists mostly of rules of thumb for effective scavenging. Cars and refrigerators are luxury items he will never own, his home lacks electricity and central heating, and his health care comes from an old woman whose grandmother was a doctor and who knows something about wound care and herbs. By the time his hair turns gray the squabbling regions that once were the United States have split apart. All remaining fuel and electrical power have been commandeered by new regional governments, and coastal cities have been abandoned to the rising oceans.

For his great-granddaughter, born in 2010, the great crises are mostly things of the past. She grows up amid a ring of villages that were once suburbs, but now they surround an abandoned core of rusting skyscrapers that are visited only by salvage crews who mine them for raw materials. Local wars sputter, the oceans are still rising, and famines and epidemics come through every decade or so, but with a global population less than half what it was in 2000 and still declining, humanity and nature are moving toward balance. The great-grand-daughter learns to read and write, a skill most of her neighbors don't have, and a few old books are among her most proud possessions, but the days when men walked on the moon are fading into legend. When she and her family finally set out for a village in the countryside, leaving the husk of the old city to the salvage crews, it likely never occurs to her that her quiet footsteps on a crumbling asphalt road mark the end of civilization.
We're living the industrial analog of the Severan Dynasty. It's worth thinking carefully about how people living in the few decades after that experienced their world, as it marked the shift from the classic ancient world to the world of so-called Late Antiquity. Can Obama be our Diocletian

2 comments:

SOLOMON SAMI AZAR said...

ENERGY IS THE KEY TO CIVILIZATION- don't believe me- go live just one day in the woods- the valuable resource is getting dry as India and china want to live a little like the west-cant blame them- who I do blame is being on this net for so long as everyone uses their own arrogance and negativity to ignore solutions for energy- how many people have you met in your life that says they solved it- go ahead and ignore this as the rest in past year- when the total economy fails- don't be puzzled as you did nothing- pressure a university to investigate and repeat- I don't want your money-take your energy and help solve the energy crisis

Hello, my name is Solomon Azar- I HAVE FOUND THE ROAD TO SAFE CLEAN NUCLEAR FUSION- When this is found and understood- the energy crisis will end- I have been looking at this system since 2002 and it is perfect in every way. I finished my experiments April-2007. I have since that time tried to the best of my abilities to inform many people upon the net- there is no question It would be nice if concerned citizens would offer suggestions or help provoke a university to simply repeat my experiment to end the energy crisis- 19 months and I still wait as the world crumbles from lack of abundant clean energy.



I have performed an experiment never done before in science- I used a Tesla coil for its use in high voltage high frequency and apply its discharge plasma not upon the dielectric of free air- but to the dielectric of water itself- specifically I used ultrapure reagent grade water from manufacture NERL-this is to establish the high degree of insulation needed for plasma (you cannot have contaminants for conductivity)- I doped my water with heavy water from the manufacturer UNITED NUCLEAR-(however- a full concentration of heavy water is desired)- I built my 1 million volt Tesla coil entire tunable- every aspect of it- as it must be done to TUNE THE OUTPUT DISCHARGE OF THE TESLA COIL to the water itself- once the arc is stable- the voltage may be increased- I have written in my pdf file in my website of noblefuse.com that a prerequisite of 750 kv is needed as an electric field gradient about the charged particles used in fusion( in this case the hydrogen bound in the water molecule) because of voltage drops as expected as in all electrical systems upon the load (load here is the water)- a much higher voltage is needed in order to distribute the voltage gradient upon entire arc plasma length between electrodes in water- THUS- THE HIGH THE VOLTAGE- THE BETTER- within my website you will find a link to youtube showing my primitive experiment- BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THIS- THIS IS THE FIRST TIME EVER DONE BEFORE - I propose nuclear fusion of water/heavy water- my little experiment IS THE ROAD TO NUCLEAR FUSION- we must universally connect the dots- put two and two together- and conclude this- MY EXPERIMENT MUST BE REPEATED ON A LARGER SCALE- my system is a direct replacement of nuclear power plants particularly of the pressurized water reactor which uses heavy water already - a vessel already built for gamma radiation and other high energy flux which will emit with the plasma arc-




Power reactor in which the heat is dissipated from the core using highly pressurized water (about 160 bar) to achieve a high temperature and avoid boiling within the core. The cooling water transfers its heat to the secondary system in a steam generator. Example: Grohnde Nuclear Power Plant in Germany with an electrical output of 1,430 MW.



Replace the rod assemblies and use electrodes to conduct the Lightning bolt! High Voltage High frequency will create the magnetic pinch to slam the isotopes of hydrogen together which is bound in water- helium and oxygen are the outgassed products recaptured by expansion tanks-it is absolutely perfect!




_ I HAVE FOUND THE TRUE PURPOSE OF THE TESLA COIL- the answer was always in the lightning bolt- understanding of gamma bursts from lightning discharges have only been recently vindicated from satellite in late 90s---

CA 94305 United States
Said, R ( ) , STAR Lab, Electrical Engineering, 350 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305 United States
Smith, D M ( ) , Physics Department and Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
Lopez, L I ( ) , Astronomy Department and Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 United States

The observation of brief (<1 ms) bursts of intense γ-rays, the so-called Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), by the BATSE γ-ray experiment was one of the most unexpected discoveries by the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.


Let me try to give another analogy to make the point. think about striking a match, if all conditions are proper , one knows that to strike a match, you must go a minimum speed- you cannot strike the match too slowly- this is understood as more speed is more friction and thus more activation energy necessary to create combustion of the match material. the same applies to this fusion system, first, imagine my system as inside a pressurized water reactor used in fission plants- the moderator is already heavy water- we shall use it as the fuel. I have said the plasma arc looks exactly like our friend the electric lightning bolt- but I talk about in my pdf file- that the so called lightning bolt must be understood in regards to high voltage and frequency- just like the minimum speed needed for the match- so it is with the combination on high voltage and frequency to not only resonate with the dielectric molecule of heavy water- but more so- to create a minimum velocity upon charged particles in the fuel water. this velocity is also exhibiting itself as a magnetic field-think of the cathode ray scope- in a snap shot instant in time for analysis, look at when the maximum energy is being applied on a per strike basis of the input cycle- or shall we say the highest amplitude of the ac signal. if for example- an input energy of one megawatt was injected into the strike of the arc- a magnetic pinch shall be directed upon the charged particles in transit of the discharge- in a thermodynamic extraction process such as this - we need at least 5 times more energy out of the system to recoup our initial energy input- and a surplus for commercial energy supply- thus- via fusion of hydrogen to helium- with each strike- a minimum voltage and frequency SHALL give the minimum activation energy required for magnetic pinching and fusion of the isotopes of hydrogen. to increase the q of the reaction in this system- a magnetic toroid may be used around the plasma arc for increased efficiency= such as used in tokamak devices. I hope this analogy helps those who question this system- THANK YOU--




Here is a thought experiment for electromagnetic fusion with Einstein in mind



Pretend you are water-you are an oxygen atom- you are stable- you are noble- 8 protons-8 neutrons-and 8 electrons- there are only 5 magic shell nuclear elements of the periodic table- oxygen is one of them- it is very stable-



Therefore- you are stable and noble- you have no need for fusion- yet it could happen- but the probability of another element such as hydrogen and its isotopes would be made to fuse together in some kind of fashion mankind tries will occur way before oxygen does- - ok-so now you are this noble one and you have outstretched in your hands a hydrogen atom and or its isotope deuteron and you hold it out to mankind as a gift-



Man understands the gift of fusion for many years and is desperately trying to do such-



I propose electromagnetic fusion- I propose the BENNET pinch used in poloidal currents used in plasmas of tokomaks- but much further-



Here we go – the thought experiment- you are this oxygen atom with two hydrogen’s and you stand amongst your friends similar in nature. You are placed in a large vessel filled of your kind-now imagine that two walls opposing in this vessel are the plates of a capacitor- who cares what is applied to the capacitor plates (electrodes of system)-for all you know as a noble oxygen and the hydrogen you have in your hands is nothing more than the electric field upon the plates-



You are composed of charged particles- thus you will interact with the applied electric field of the plates-this is common electronics and electric knowledge-



However, I speak of dielectric breakdown- I speak of the lightning bolt- let us now assume we have made the capacitor plates oscillate at 1 million volts peak to peak as way of a tesla coil



Think of the electric field- everything will be controlled by this field- a dielectric breakdown will occur- and all discharge current will begin to flow and oscillate as a function of the applied voltage-



Now- you are in the heart of a lightning bolt- you who are noble as a oxygen probably lost all your valence electrons due to the magnitude of such a high electric field- every charged particle in transit of the discharge current is surely ionized and talks of being a complete water molecule should be erased- the state of this plasma current is nothing more than ionized hydrogen and oxygen and a complete sea of electrons-



Let us think first of the electrons- 1896 times smaller than protons- no question it will oscillate much faster as a function to the applied voltage- remember the cathode ray scope- basic physics also will say this charged particle will also have a magnetic field about itself because of the electric field that has driven it-thus- this oscillating electron current will have an intrinsic magnetic field

Let us now think of the protons- oxygen has 8 and surrounded by 8 neutrons and is far less likely for reaction than isotopes of hydrogen for fusion- this should merely be understood by refereeing to atomic tables of elements and known theory- but this hydrogen is a singly bound proton with mass one- unless we speak of a deuteron- it will also be controlled exactly the same way as the electron is affected by the external applied voltage- however- it is opposite to the electrons motion-and much slower by its mass – however-its magnetic field will add to that of the electrons- this is standard knowledge of magnetic field generation of charged particles by way of electric fields-



Thus, in this thought experiment- within this state of dielectric breakdown- I like to say the lightning bolt- can you now see the oscillation of the charged particles by such a large magnitude of the applied voltage plates- can you now see the probability at a certain moment in time- particularly when the applied ac signal is greatest- that all magnetic fields of charged particles in transit can have the power to be magnetically pinched-



Magnetics have push and pull- it is well known that high frequency causes a constriction upon electrical currents- whether in copper lines and forcing such to the surface- or in plasma and made use to constrict it - high frequency is known to constrict the currents- thus- do you see the forces I am referring to as this dielectric breakdown has occurred upon the most perfect fuel of the heavens- water- this oxygen atom holds the hydrogen for us- we shall apply a high voltage (high is relative- I have stated 750kv in the vicinity of the hydrogen for fusion- I come to this by way of understanding the beta decay of a free neutron- if it can disintegrate- it can come together- made into a deuteron- then made into helium)-



Thus –we make helium and oxygen is then unbound and must also be recaptured- this is easy in expansion tanks- the byproducts are helium and oxygen-truly noble-



To increase the q of this system- a simple toroidal magnet as used in tokamaks for plasma control may be used for additional pinching-



I hope this helps- however- you must always think of the applied electric field and its magnetic inducement upon the charged particles- we will stably run the Tesla coil upon the dielectric of water itself (more appropriately heavy water) and turn up the voltage for greater acceleration speeds and thus magnetic fields- we can control pressure in this vessel- we can control electrode spacing and so much more-

that is my thought experiment for you to understand it is my intention to use all input energy by way of oscillating a very large electric field which will induce the proper magnetic flux density in units of Tesla for a pinching- not established hot fusion whereby all energy input is chaotic and the probability of fusion comes by way of statistics from a gas equation- no- high voltage and high frequency in an orderly manner by the construction of a man made lightning bolt with controllable parameters inside an existing pressurized nuclear reactor- everything is off the shelf- the world will run on steam power again globally-from trains-factories-ships-and all power plants- I offer the Watt steam engine again- not with two sticks to make fire and boil the water- but electromagnetic fusion with two electrodes to induce fusion of hydrogen isotopes to boil water and make steam- it is absolutely perfect.



To the CEO's of nuclear power plants-or pressurized coal fired- you have spare reactors in the back yards of your plants- take a 1 million volt tesla coil and do what I have said- you will measure its fusion reactions and you will conclude this - I have found the road to safe clean energy.

I speak plain science- please connect the dots and let us end this energy crisis for a world that desperately needs energy- May the light of God shine upon all our actions for the betterment of mankind



Solomon Sami Azar





update-after 19 months on this net- it seems evident people do not care until the machine breaks, right before our eyes our economy collapses as inflation and energy costs have been eating at our economy for some time now- maybe even global war with russia and iran will you finally care to investigate the deeds of a human being that has sacrificed his life over a dangerous experiment for all of us. Time will tell.

Brian H said...

Two simple points;
a) the steam cycle for generating power is very lossy and inefficient.
b) oxygen is not "noble", it is very reactive. The outer shell has 6 electrons, and hence a valence of 2. Helium is noble, with a filled inner shell of 2, and nothing else. Such an elementary mistake makes me doubt your competence.