Originally posted by Gilsch
Who would've thought 100 years ago that today we'd be communicating over these "internets"....wirelessly from our couches in our living rooms via portable laptop computers in front of our 42" LCD screens while watching overseas newschannels in real time?
Beware technological optimism. Just because technology keeps doing more and more amazing things is not a good reason to suppose it will solve every puzzle or solve it fast enough for us.
Now, I'm not totally sold on the idea that Peak Oil = Doomsday, and that there's nothing we can do about it. We're already weathering a pretty hefty increase in the price of crude oil now better than some people would have thought.
But there are potential dangers in our current dependence on oil, and I'd even say some chance of some of the more dire Peak Oil predictions coming to pass. Need for solutions does not automatically produce solutions. Need for fast solutions does not automatically produce rapid progress towards solutions. Need for solutions does not automatically produce completely desirable solutions.
Suppose getting off oil is as difficult as curing cancer? Cancer is a problem we've been working on for a long time now, and while we've made progress, it's been slow progress. In most cases it's far more accurate to say we've made progress in treating
cancer, as opposed to curing it. Many of those treatments are very unpleasant and involve ugly trade-offs, like drugs with unpleasant side effects, or having parts of your body hacked away which you might otherwise have preferred to keep.
Suppose oil hits $250 per barrel next month. How many people will have solar panels on their roofs the month after that? How many people will have hydrogen powered cars in a month, and how many hydrogen fueling stations will be in place for those drivers to use, and how many solar-powered hydrogen production plants will be operating and at what capacity?
If we try to go the ethanol route, how much valuable farm land will be switched from feeding hungry mouths to feeding hungry cars? How much rain forest will be destroyed to plant sugar cane for ethanol production? How quickly would corn ethanol lobbyists who want to sell lots of corn get out of the way of the US using a far more efficient sources of ethanol like sugar cane?
You mention the internet and wifi as some of the amazing things technology has produced for us. Well, stop and think about how long such technologies have been in development. You could go back to the early 90s, even mid 80s, and find lab demonstrations and pilot projects for much of what we enjoy today.
Imagine that for some bizarre hypothetical reason the world had suddenly NEEDED to have wifi internet access in every home, and needed to have it BADLY, in, say, 1992. How far do you think that technology would have been rushed along by 1993? How widely available do you think it could have been?