X-Message-Number: 21962
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003 22:14:14 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: The True Death in the Post-Carbon Age

At 11:38 AM 6/12/2003 -0700, Mark Plus wrote:

>In Message #21954, Mike Perry writes, "Another thought too
>is that possibly we will be in for some economic hard times that will make
>liquid nitrogen hard to get for a long interval, as suggested by Mark Plus
>(#21945). In this case, a low-maintenance option such as chemo plus
>permafrost burial (or even very good chemo and plain conventional burial or
>some other high-temperature storage) could be the only hope."
>I think you misconstrue my point. Once we've squandered what's left of the 
>planet's fossil thermodynamic capital, the human race faces a massive 
>die-off and a PERMANENT dark age, no matter how much technological 
>knowledge we might have acquired by then. That's when the survivors will 
>get to see Keith Henson's beloved evolutionary psychology in action.

A permanent dark age would, I suppose, mean things like no space 
colonization, no curing aging, no developing into more-than-humans. In the 
end, barring some other intelligent species evolving on earth (or kindly 
extraterrestrials intervening, say) the sun would swell into a red giant 
and life on earth would end. No, I didn't read this into your posting, but 
more of a cautionary yet still less pessimistic note.

>You might want to study Jay Hanson's DIE OFF Website, especially the 
>well-documented synopsis at:

I have, somewhat, but still don't think this kind of Doomsday is just 
around the corner or inevitable. I also don't think this "synopsis" deals 
too well with the solar energy issue. It claims solar cells are within a 
factor of two of producing enough energy that from that we could produce as 
many new solar cells as it takes to produce the energy (though we are still 
short). In the approximately two years since the essay was written there 
has been a significant improvement in the efficiency of solar cells; see


Also, I notice no mention of the possibility of using solar collectors in 
space, where they could be made quite large and numerous (their energy 
output would still have to be transported to humans or posthumans, but 
there are a number of approaches to that, not excepting ourselves going 
into space). Another thing almost not mentioned is fusion power, which is 
said to be approaching break-even yields now (though it would need much 
more development to really be useful). But if nothing else, I have 
confidence that the sun as an energy source could sustain a human or 
post-human population, if conditioned to manage its resources wisely, for 
quite a while. In the U.S. we seem to be approaching the point where 
natural gas must be imported like oil. It will be interesting to see if 
reasonable adjustments can be made so as not to disrupt the economy, and if 
they will involve developing alternative energy sources not dependent on 
fossil fuels. I for one think an orderly changeover is more likely than a 
final catastrophe. It may take some rethinking on the part of economists, 
but they should have incentive enough.

Mike Perry

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