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Olduvai theory

  1. I have this strange idea, that we could start an intelligent discussion about the future of the world as far as energy consumption goes.

    Here is an interesting theory, I have to say that I agree with its outlook unless the world's energy consumption AND population can be lowered somehow (by new inventions, war or disease).

    So take a look first and then we can have the discussion:

  2. For people with ADD, here is a shorter version:


    The theory basicly states that the industrial civilization is going to last for about 100 years, between 1930-2030.

    An interesting snipet from the previous article: World oil production per person has been falling since 1979....
  3. Well, good luck with that intelligent discussion.
    I thought this may be about archeology, or paleo-anthropology, i was somewhat nonplussed to find it was just a graph and numbers.
    I would put forward, that in terms of actual needs visa vie actual energy consumption, ancient rome came mighty close to these stats.
    I cant back that up of course, but if you factor in leisure hours, the number of slaves/workers necessary to provide a continuem to this society, you may find that in terms of actual live or die needs, modern civilisation, with all its microwaves, air cons, cars and the rest, isnt that far off at all.

    Factor in a massively larger population compared to any earlier supposed "civilisation" and you WILL have humungous pollution, robot (slave) factories, significant concentration of wealth, and basically anything else you can point to.

    Oh, but technology you say...........
    what about technology? Well they had SHITLOADS of technology back then, they could easily have had more, just it wasnt a priority for business-sound familiar?? Most of the best stuff was left on the inventors drawing boards, never developed properly due to market interests (ie not interested) or otherwise discarded.

    What happened to the roman empire by the way?
    Oh thats right, they DUMPED THE GOLD STANDARD, people lost faith in the system due to shocking CORRUPTION ,
    and despite their aqueducts still serving modern alexandria, despite their roads still serving much of europe (no offense to any poms, but you are kinda near europe) , well, pax romana didnt quite work as planned.

    Is their any particular reason to think, anyone living now, should expect thir descendants to have a similiar quality of life, in a couple hundred years time?
  4. If I understand correctly, the premise of the theory is that civilization trends towards greater individual prosperity in a manner roughly correlating with per capita energy production. And, as the per capita production has been declining, the theory says that civilization should decline with it.

    My rebuttal would be that as population increases, the demand for energy will tend to increase. Eventually, the cost of supplying that energy will increase to the point where it will be cost effective to utilize a power source that is, at the moment, generally untapped, and which is not based on fossil fuel.

    That energy source is the sun. It is a well established and researched fact that solar power generating stations could be placed into orbit around the Earth, and their power could be radiated to the surface via low power microwave relay.

    The only thing preventing this from taking place is the cost and the will. It's just not something that business is interested in yet, because the market isn't ready to demand it.

    So, I suggest that we may see a dip in the overall level of prosperity as the cost and demand for fossil fuel rises, but most of the population can't afford it. But, and assuming that no large-scale popular revolution derails technological advancement, in general, industry/government will eventually decide that there's loads of dough in sunlight, and it will go up and build those satellite generators, and suddenly, the per capita energy supply will recover from its dip, and civilization will continue on it's path to who knows where.

    Obviously, all bets are off if some terrorist gets hold of some anti-matter source and starts killing off the world population en mass.

    However, that scenario may cause the per capita energy supply to increase, so I'm not sure that this would defeat my rebuttal argument.

    Anyway, the future is always cloudy -- but that's my take on the shape of things to come.
  5. Kudos... we are all dumber now