Monday, June 2, 2008

Kurzweil Continued

P-man,over at Emergent Ink, is a good friend and I have enjoyed arguing with him for many years now; he's a strong thinker. He is also what I would call a Peak Oil Pessimist (although I am sure he would consider himself a realist, not a pessimist.) He has read and linked to my previous post on Kurzweil and solar energy, and I thank him for that. And he has posted a rejoinder to Kurzweil and solar that is well worth a read.

However I have a few bones to pick;

#1         P-man seems a bit too skeptical of Ray's prophecies.

That is to say my rating of the estimated prophet is a bit higher than P's.

 #2        (and somewhat more salient)  P-man is convinced that, even if the  growth rate Kurzweil predicts in solar pannel technology is believable, there won't be enough energy around to build those panels. (I think we can agree that we will be able to build those panels without using much if any petrolium products in the basic materials except of course  the energy to produce those materials.)

The problem with P's energy argument is this. What if, instead of being able to provide all our energy with solar, we can only provide 1%. And what if we dedicate 5% of that new energy to making more solar panels? Even if we only compound it monthly it will take a bit les than 32 months to reach the 100% solar -supplied goal. Lets say half of that new energy is used in scaling up manufacturing, we are still looking at a 5 year project. If Kurzweil is anywhere near correct in his projections we just need to start 5 or 10 years before oil runs out; still quite possible in my opinion!

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