Update: New steel alloy has strength to weight ratio of titanium at one tenth the cost (Nature Abstract)
When Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, and John Harte wagered Julian Simon $10,000 that the cost of commodities and natural resources would always go higher — and never lower — Malthusian monkeys were riding high in public and academic opinion. And even though the doomer-monkeys lost the bet to economist Simon, the echo-choirs of Malthusian doom continue to ring a loud and cacophonous song of calamity.
Of course, the fear that a growing population is rapidly depleting its finite store of natural resources while mercilessly wrecking its environment is probably as old as civilisation. Some scholars thus interpret the oldest surviving written story, The Epic of Gilgamesh, as a warning against the rapid deforestation of Mesopotamia nearly 5,000 years ago. Two millennia later, Confucius (551 – 479 BC) and some of his followers reportedly argued that excessive population growth may reduce output per worker, lower standards of living and create strife.
… The first full-fledged population catastrophist among modern writers is generally acknowledged to be the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Botero (1544-1617) who, more than two centuries before the better known Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), argued that human population would increase to the maximum extent permitted by human fertility, that the means of subsistence wouldn’t keep up, and that the unavoidable result would be poverty, starvation, war, diseases and population crashes.
In time, the ‘Malthusian trap’ came to describe the belief that population growth is absolutely limited by finite resources; that because there is only so much to share, a smaller population will be inherently better off; that technological or social innovations can at best delay the unsustainable character of population growth; and that because of projected future ills a range of – sometimes drastic – preventive policy interventions are justified in the present. This jeremiad was repeatedly brought to the fore over the past two centuries under the feather, pen, typewriter or keyboard of some (often highly credentialed) concerned individuals. And almost invariably, each time scores of public intellectuals, activists, bureaucrats, politicians, academic journal editors, private foundation and granting agency officials echoed, promoted, funded or implemented restrictive policies in the name of preventing the children of careless lemmings from jumping over the societal cliff. __ http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-simonehrlich-wager-25-years-on#.Vg5h5PRUWkI
Once again, prices of commodities have fallen recently, as the artificially boosted demand from China and India has slumped — and as better methods of production, and cheaper substitutes for more expensive materials erase illusions of scarcity once again.
And human ingenuity — the mainspring of human progress — has barely begun to rise. Out of many amazing scientific discoveries recently, some new experimental and computational methods for discovering new chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and materialsare coming to light.
… Who knows what extraordinary materials might lurk in chemical space – after all, it’s been barely a decade that we’ve been getting to know the potential of one of the simplest materials conceivable, the pure form of crystalline carbon called graphene. Dyes, batteries, catalysts, solvents, food additives, you name it – there’s not a single area of chemistry that might not be enriched by our stumbling into a new region of chemical space…
… It’s not sheer fantasy to imagine dialing in the properties you want from a molecule – biological activity, catalytic specificity, optical behaviour, you name it – and having the computer scan chemical space to give you a small set of candidates. Then you might turn to a facility like the Dial-a-Molecule scheme being developed by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and have them made for you by automated synthesis and delivered by mail order for you to test.
The article above examines a number of different approaches to the opening up of “chemical space,” a fantasy land of unbelievable potential. Thanks to human ingenuity, scarcity of chemicals and materials will not likely be a near-term cause of doom. No peak oil, no peak fertilisers, no peak plastics, no peak pharmaceuticals, etc. etc.
The most popular version of doom in the modern world is the climate apocalypse, sometimes referred to as Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW). Climate apocalypse is a most unlikely occurrence for the next few centuries at least, but it has a large popular following, nonetheless.
We are now learning that global cooling is more likely than global warming, for many reasons. Here is yet another reason to wonder about a pending global cooling:
The oceans not only take up heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they are also sources of various gaseous compounds, thereby affecting the global climate. A key role is played by the so-called surface microlayer (SML), especially at low wind speed. In these few micrometers thin layer different organic substances such as dissolved organic matter, fat and amino acids, proteins, lipids are accumulating as well as trace metals, dust and microorganisms.
According to a study by the Institute of Catalysis and Environment in Lyon (IRCELYON, CNRS / University Lyon 1) and the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), the oceans are producing unexpectedly large quantities of isoprene – a volatile organic compound (VOC) – which is known to have a cooling effect on climate.
… “Here is more evidence of what we have known for some time: that climate models simply do not mirror the reality of a chaotic system – and that they should never have been trusted in the first place,” says Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
The news could scarcely have come at a worse time for the global climate alarmist community which has been ramping up the scaremongering message in the run up to the latest round of UN climate talks in Paris this December ___ http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/01/global-cooling-discovery-may-scupper-paris-climate-talks/
So it looks as if climate apocalypse will not be the doom of the near or intermediate future — certainly not Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.
If not for widespread scientific fraud, would anyone take the climate apocalypse narrative seriously? Likely not.
So what are the Malthusian Monkey Echo Choirs screeching about, in an eerily dissonant unison? Nothing in the real world, certainly, so they must be screeching out the calamities that dwell inside their own minds and fearful hearts.
… catastrophism is largely a manifestation of our primary cultural myth: that all things end with suffering, death, and then resurrection. Belief in apocalypse is programmed into western civilization. Given our heritage, “the end is nigh” is the nearly unavoidable personal and collective response to times of uncertainty and rapid change…
… Peak Oil writings are sprinkled with predictions that billions will die, civil order will collapse, and even that civilization will end. Scientists, too, aren’t immune. During geologist Ken Deffeyes’s Peak Oil presentations, he displays the words “war,” “famine,” “pestilence,” and “death”—the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
… One fascinating aspect of doom scenarios is that they have evolved over the centuries to suit the times. Once you get familiar with the history of apocalypse stories, it’s no surprise that in our technological age, technology—and not a god, an emperor, or the stars—is the bringer of the end. __ Pattern Literacy
Disruptive Innovation is likely to completely overturn today’s established order, just as disruptive innovation destroyed the established orders of each of the previous 5 centuries. But “disruptive innovation” may not mean what you think it means. It certainly does not mean what the skankstream mainstream culture is telling you it means. It is not smart phones, it is not Uber or Air BnB, or any other peripheral “technology” trends that threaten minor disruption.
True disruptive technology draws bored yawns from media monkeys, academic and thinktank screecher – howlers, and political apes. Until it knocks them on their arses, that is. 😉
One must look much more deeply beyond the consensual delusion of media, academia, government, foundations, faux environmentalism, and other cultural institutions, if one wants to see into the well-disrupted future.
As for the “prophets of doom,” pay no attention to what they are predicting now. Look at what they were predicting 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 years ago. Did they predict the things that actually happened? Of course not, not beyond a few mindless short-term extrapolations.
But the future does not come via straight line extrapolation. It comes via non-linear chaotic trends, most of which are well hidden from — or obscured by — the skankstream mainstream.
More on disruptive innovation:
A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market. __ Wikipedia “Disruptive Innovation”
Disruptive innovations arise when human minds accidentally or purposefully discover new approaches to supplying the needs / desires of people or societies. If the new approaches render older industries and institutions of societies obsolete, they qualify as disruptive. Disruptive innovations often trigger other disruptive innovations, in a chain reaction fashion.
More on dynamical systems:
Simple nonlinear dynamical systems and even piecewise linear systems can exhibit a completely unpredictable behavior, which might seem to be random, despite the fact that they are fundamentally deterministic. This seemingly unpredictable behavior has been called chaos. Hyperbolic systems are precisely defined dynamical systems that exhibit the properties ascribed to chaotic systems. In hyperbolic systems the tangent space perpendicular to a trajectory can be well separated into two parts: one with the points that converge towards the orbit (the stable manifold) and another of the points that diverge from the orbit (the unstable manifold).
With or without disruptive innovations by humans, nature herself contains many forms of chaos which inevitably contribute unavoidable disruption to humans and their societies. The fact that another ice age is likely to occur in the next few hundreds or thousands of years, is one such inconvenient natural dynamic disruption.
The modern lefty-Luddite skankstream of dieoff.orgiasts would like for you to join the consensual delusion with all your heart and resources. Why not give in and go with the flow? After all, you are soaking in it!
Pessimists are a dime a dozen. Here is a short list of optimistic books worth skimming.
As Julian Simon and the others have told us: It is better to set about solving our problems, than to wallow in a slough of doom.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.
In transportation, structural components in automotive and aerospace designs are taking advantage of lighter, stronger metal alloys like advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) and new aluminum blends. For example, after the 2011 FutureSteelVehicle (FSV) engineering study, the auto industry’s use of AHSS alloys has accelerated, said Dave Anderson, senior director of the Automotive Technical Panel and Long Products Program for the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI).
Lightweight new 3D print construction
The most disruptive technologies will be those that alter basic constituents of human life — such as reducing daily sleep requirements, extending useful lifespan, boosting human intelligence – creativity – focus, improving physical strength and endurance, etc. Such innovations would reveal a very rapid disruptive effect on human societies.
Other disruptions — such as inexpensive housing, food, clean water, health care and augmentation, infinitely broad educational and work/learning opportunities, etc. — would follow quickly after the human mind/body boosting innovations, having a symbiotic disruptive effect.
Everything you think you know, just ain’t so. That is an inevitable side effect of groupthink, the consensual delusion that is virtually impossible to escape for most normally socialised people. It is this inbred bubble of consensual groupthink that prevents most people from seeing what is possible, and how quickly societies might be transformed for the better.
For the ruling skankstream of government, media, academia, and other societal institutions, it is a life or death matter to maintain the consensual delusion as deeply and for as long a time as possible.
Neither optimist or pessimist, the fact is “we don’t know” what the future will be.
We have to struggle malthusian forces, like gravity ! It always will be. We have many malthusians periods in the past : being dazzled by technology is just the symetric of the doomers.
Some time we find new technology in time, some time, we don’t, and we suffer rapid ressources depletion, until we find something else to deplete.
The fact is that we are entering a malthusian period. Unless we find somethink “disrupting” very rapidly, we will suffer restrictions.
New technology usually takes some decades to get out of lab to reach common people. We have to change infrastructure, universities program, have a network of replacement pieces, etc…
So unless the breakthrough have been made 30yr ago (approx) … it will not change the world today.
Bad government and dysgenic decline will assure the onset of a quasi-Malthusian period, at least in patchwork fashion around the globe.
Disruptive innovations do not necessarily have to take nearly as much time as most people seem to assume.
Universities, for example, have become more of a hindrance to modern societies than a help for most areas of study. Attempts to replace universities would be a waste of time. Focus on what is necessary, not on perpetuating the mistakes of the past.
Replacement pieces exist on different scales. Replacement parts for intricate machines will be grown or printed, or assembled molecularly. Replacement machines will be assembled by robots, themselves made by other machines. Most repairs will be done by machines.
Such a world represents an extreme dependency upon technology, but so does our current world. The difference is that future technologies will be more integrated and less ad hoc and proprietary.
The first thing to do is to discontinue dysfunctional immigration policies, thus slowing the dysgenic decline. Many other things are necessary, but it is likely that many of us would disagree about them among ourselves — to say nothing of disagreements within the skankstream.
Some disruptions may have to be enabled by large-scale catastrophe — both natural and man-made. Human nature and the inertia of the ruling classes virtually guarantees this. In such a case, positioning and preparation are key to survival.
Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
The big problem with Malthusian thinking is that it creates exactly the conditions for Malthusian catastrophes when it’s used to generate policies. By artificially constraining resource usage you limit the ability of people to innovate and create corrupt special interests determined in maintaining the status quo. This goes on until resources really DO run out and the state dies.
The resource most in danger of running out, however, is human ingenuity. When the state squashes human freedoms and human opportunity so thoroughly that human ingenuity cannot be expressed, it withers and dies.
I’ve got series of posts working on just that.