The Road to Zero

Human beings — regardless of race, religion or culture — like to embrace any belief that is absolute. This is because absolute beliefs are simple, easy to comprehend, and false positives that offer us a false sense of security.

If we come to believe that a particular idea, place, or group of people are either all good or all bad, then we humans fool ourselves into thinking that we have got a piece of a particular equation all figured out. Such a binary viewpoint is psychologically comforting, allowing us to feel assured and in control. The more control we feel the more assured we feel so there is a feedback loop here which can and does take hold. Keep in mind, if the underlying belief is garbage, it doesn’t stop this process from taking place, provided we are constantly reassured. Now, think of propaganda, which is, of course, a group reassuring another group of a particular narrative.

Consider that if you have decided that a group of people are all bad, then all you have to do is stay away from them or keep them away from you. Life just got easier. If you decide that a group of people are your enemy, all you have to do is make war against them and once they are all gone, life would surely be better, right?

The problem with absolute thinking is that it causes pain and suffering in the life of the person who adheres to an all-or-nothing attitude in any facet of his thought process. This is because the person is routinely exposed to contradictions to his beliefs, which creates a sense of threat to his world view. Eliminating the threat (cancelling) brings about relief and even the cancelling of any contradiction provides reassurance. See how this works?

Absolute thinking doesn’t just come into play in prejudices; it is a primary factor in how people live their lives. Have you ever encountered people who have come to believe that if they engage in one particular activity, all their problems will go away. People whose answer to literally everything centres around one thing.

Absolute thinking is the genesis of, among other things, genocides. The reason I bring all of this up is because when I first viewed statements about climate change I knew immediately we had a problem on our hands. The statements were and are universally absolute: “the science is settled.” I knew that we were dealing with a cult, not science. It is why the governments’ statements about carbon zero and the road to zero emissions are dangerous. Because they’re absolute, allow for the demonization, and hence eradication of anyone that opposes this narrative. It is literally impossible to get to truth without the ability to view the possibilities of other or new facts. This is true of any field, not just climate science.

As of right now you’ll notice the “absolute,” which cannot therefore be questioned can be found in the following topics:

  • Covid
  • Climate change (CO2 emissions and “net zero”)
  • Ukraine
  • BLM
  • LGBQT
  • Critical race theory
  • Privileged white males

I’m quite sure there are others, but you’ll know that all of the above will bring hell fury if you are to question the orthodoxy of views held in relation to these topics.

This means that most anything can be done in the name of these topics and escape scrutiny which would otherwise not be the case.

These are all worrying attributes of this current hysteria we’re living in, but let us deal with the facts and the realities. Facts and realities are what typically bring societies back to some sense of rationality. Mao’s China never gave up on attempting centralized farming because debate and discussion resulted in their thinking to themselves, “My oh my, this doesn’t look good, perhaps we were wrong in our assumptions.” No, they starved tens of millions of people first and only when the evidence was absolutely overwhelming and the hysteria had burned itself out there was the ability to chart a different course.

History

We’ve many examples throughout history but let us today consider this one of CO2 emissions which feeds into “renewables” and a “sustainable” future.

Never in the history of man have we transitioned from a more dense energy form to a less dense one. The reason is simple. It is “barse-ackward.”

If we look at any time we’ve transitioned from a less energy dense form to a more energy dense one we see a number of things.

  • Higher productivity
  • Lowered inflation (the two going hand in hand)
  • Rising standards of living

It stands to reason that by doing the opposite we’re likely to see the following:

  • Lower productivity
  • Increased inflation
  • Falling standard of living

Side note on inflation: Very quickly, let us cover the inflation side of things. Though simplistic, this is broadly true. If you have productivity gains/growth in an economy of, say, 6% and monetary inflation (pointy shoes at the CBs doing what they do) of, say, 5%, you’ll see growth exceeding inflation (people gaining wealth and having access to more stuff).

If you see productivity growth of 5% and inflation of 7%, you’ll see falling living standards and folks would have less purchasing power and hence less access to goods and services. So as you can see, a central bank can easily cock up things for the average Joe, even when productivity growth is positive.

Ok, back to energy.

Looked at purely from an investment perspective an important ratio is energy return on investment. The multiple of your energy input that translates into output.

Proponents of solar will point out that solar generates decent energy returns. What is often missed is that the numbers used to support this are more often than not cherry picked from locations (enjoying sunlight) and daytime hours. This is a problem given solar doesn’t work particularly well when the sun doesn’t shine, which is on a cloudy or rainy day as well as at night. Unfortunately this is when the bulk electricity demand comes into play.

In fact, when electricity is generated at times inconsistent with demand, the price of delivery for this energy can often be negative. Only when adding storage and delivery costs can we get a true reflection of overall electricity costs and hence EROI (energy return on investment). If this EROI is lower than any preceding electricity, then consequently we can expect lower productivity, higher costs, higher inflation, and lower living standards. This isn’t rocket science.

If we look at man’s history from an energy perspective, we see the following: wood, biomass, coal, oil, natural gas, uranium. Biomass is denser in energy than wood, and coal denser still, and so on.

Dense forms of energy with high EROI let nature do the work. For example, oil is just concentrated solar from eons ago.

Or take hydro which takes energy from the sun (weather/rain) and then lets geography and gravity collect it over a wide area into a concentrated harvest site (big running river and or dam).

If a source generates electricity at a time inconsistent with demand, the price it can sell for can often be negative. It’d be like trying to sell me a cold cappuccino at 3pm. I don’t want it. I want it hot and at 7am, thanks. Adding storage adds costs and worsens EROI.

The second issue that requires consideration is that solar and wind infrastructure require a lot of dense fuel to build.

Those wind turbines require a lot of steel. In order to produce steel we need iron ore mines and coking coal to form the steel. Then there is the concrete and the graphite. All of these things need to be mined, brought to the earth’s surface, trucked, shipped, forged, and so on. All of these processes are, if you think about it, components of energy density.

But we’re told by the absolutists that we’re getting rid of all of these processes. Zero is the absolute word.

We may well approach some level of “zero” in parts of the world. It’ll be zero energy, zero food, zero life. And that means conflict of the sort we’ve never experienced in our lives.

I wish it wasn’t so, but that is the road we’re on with the absolutists steering this titanic catastrophe in the making.

In the meantime, some will come to their senses, change course, and embrace physics. The asymmetry they will provide to us will be extraordinary, and it’s our job to attempt to navigate where and who these places will be.

Which brings me to…

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