Stephen Gloor is an Australian with whom I have had many arguments on Brave New Climate and the Energy Collective. Gloor is a fervent opponent of Nuclear Power, but beyond that an adherent of the Club of Rome cult. I call it a cult because its adherents claim to have special knowledge about the future history of humanity, knowledge that they believe should be acted on without further checking. Adherents of the Club of Rome theory are convinced of their own infalibility. They simply cannot understand why anyone would believe that they are capable of making mistakes, yet they are.
Gloor responded to one of my comments with the statement,
Solutions to AGW will not emerge until all parties realise they are living on a finite planet. Nuclear will not save us nor will renewables or any single simple energy supply based solution as much as you would like it to be.
Glower went on to sing the praises of the Club of Rome view that the eath could only support a small human population, and then only in utter misery. I posted the following comment in response to Gloor:
Stephen, I have been aware for some time that you are an adherent of the Club of Rome Cult. I call it a cult because adherents of the CoR Theory have not as of yet offered serious tests of its validity. The CoR theory is at best speculative. Secondly, the CoR theory uses a flawed mathematical model of growth. Economic growth need not be exponential, and need not require greater and greater materials in order to sustain it. We see that in the American economy growth is increasingly occurring in information and media technologies. I had the privilege of seeing a super computer in 1970. It also consumed tens of thousands of watts of electricity. It was a huge monster that occupied a very large heavily air conditioned hall. The computer that now sits on my desk now has far more computing power, than the 1970 monstrosity, yet only a tiny fraction of the materials used in the 1970 computer, and operating on less than 100 watts of electricity. Thus far from collapsing, the economy can produce products that will do far more with far fewer resources. The Club of Rome Study did not foresee this.
Thirdly, the Club of Rome study assumed that all resources would operate on a supply curve similar to that of oil. Yet no proof of this has been offered. And there are good arguments to the contrary. The supply curve for thorium as an energy source would be dramatically different. These is so much thorium, its energy potential is so great, and the effects of thorium mining and energy use on global resources would be so great, that a movement toward thorium energy sources and toward a thorium based economy would open a virtual cornucopia of resources for future human use for a period of time that would exceed a billion years.
Fourthly, basic materials are not in short supply, and are abundant enough to sustain a high development infrastructure for all people. The supply of minerals such as iron, aluminum, carbon, sodium, chloride, etc is for all purposes inexhaustible, especially given the potential energy resources of uranium and thorium. It would be possible to create many mineral resources as a byproduct of the nuclear breeding process, while other mineral resources could be recovered along with uranium and thorium in mining operations. Finally, waste heat from nuclear power can be used to desalinate sea water, and minerals present in the resulting brine extracted. Thus by switching to Generation IV nuclear power, the avaliability of dozens of mineral resources would be assured for hundreds of millions of years.
Fifthly, the Club of Rome assumptions ignore a fact that is well known to demographers. That is the effect of economic development on population growth. Demographers have pointed to powerful evidence that economic growth leads to a decline in the reproduction rate. In some economically advanced countries, notably Japan and several European countries, reproduction levels have dropped below the ZPG rate. Thus a fundamental assumption by the CoR theory, that there is no relationship between economic growth and human reproduction has clearly been falsified when tested empirically.
Stephen, science operates by empirical tests, not by a fanaticism which ignores contradictory evidence. You can read the canon of the Club of Rome cult all you want, but what you get is propaganda, not serious scientific tests of a theory.
I actually agree with you to a certain extent about efficiency, but only in the long run. In the long run efficiency will be one of the engines of economic growth, but not a tool to decrease the energy demands of high energy a global society. Rather, efficiency will lower energy costs. Jevons' Paradox tells us that when efficiency lowers energy costs, energy demand will rise. So be it. We have plsnty of nuclear energy resources, and even in a high energy demand society, they will last us for a long time.