Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Basics of Hope


At an extremely conservative estimate, Sol produces 200 septillion (two hundred trillion trillion) watts per second. Overblowing generous estimations, Earth uses about 100 gigawatts (a hundred billion) per day. Being even more ridiculously generous to make the math simple and account for non-human biomass use and extra doubleplus errors, let's double the planet's usage figure for purposes of discussion, such that in one second, Sol produces enough energy to power Earth for only a quadrillion (a thousand trillion) years at the current level of civilization.

Assuming we don't feel entitled to impinge upon the radiation spilling out to the rest of the verse, the Earth's size collects roughly 1.8% of the sun's energy as part of its natural orbit. Being extremely modest, and cutting that to 1%, Sol sends, each second, enough energy directly to Earth to power it for ten trillion years at the current level of civilization.

That easily, for aeons. That includes day after day, millennium after millennium, of:

1) Bret leaving his F-250 on while he runs into the store for some cigarettes;

2) Jerry washing his polo shirt every time he wears it for five minutes;

3) Marcia throwing out the turkey that overcooked while she was cheering for the Steelers on the six flatscreens; and,

4) Barry developing a fleet of thousands of coal-charged terminator robots to scan California backyards for possible hemp farming.

The expression "a drop in the bucket" fails at conveying the massive potential of one star in one solar system. Even if we accept large-explosion creationist cosmology, and be extra conservative, Sol has another few billion years left of producing energy at similar levels before reducing its output for a couple hundred million more en route to supernova. And there are other stars, maybe even a lot of them, but be really stodgy and stick with considering just Sol, for now.


Again accepting just the singularity creation and a verse only a dozen billion years old, humans appeared a few hundred thousand years ago, and up until around five thousand years ago, any given adult human had available roughly one-quarter of a horsepower through control of a human body. Using horses increases that to one, and in the twentieth century, vacuums and go-karts easily exceeded that. The twentieth century also produced commonly available cars with two or three hundred horsepower. And computers, aero-planes, et cetera, but stick with just commonly-available power. Earth's rate of multiplication is impressive in exceptionally limited human terms, and portrayed even modestly on the canvas of the future--even allowing for a few hundred years of zombie wasteland in between--suggests pleasant horizons.

Casual Hope

Assume that we've mastered the understanding of the idea that corrupt elites infest, brutalize, steal from, and otherwise make war upon Earth and its inhabitants. Despite what it might've seemed upon coming out of standard education, standard childhood, or otherwise waking up, we've not seen the end of the plot. The game is not over once we begin cataloguing lvl.-1 blunt discriminations, war atrocities, or financial chicanery. Be, then, wary of the next levels of elite deception, one of which is predicated on the assumption that you are intelligent enough to have figured out, say, Sarkozy or Bernanke. The seeds of "resource scarcity" have been long sown, and the harvest is supposed to be your hopelessness. Coming off of Dick Cheney's PNAC oil-grab, Obama's genocide of the Somalian people, or the latest "fiscal tragedy" tax job, it seems to make so much sense to conclude that, even though things are being done poorly and maliciously, they're being done because elites are trying to gobble up "what's left." Paired with the obscene self-largesse of the deathlords, the message "We need to sacrifice and become more prudent and cautious to have any hope of surviving" seems not only reasonable, but an act of resistance to the evils that plague the world.

It is not. The vile lies of world leaders about war, property, and caste come in second in comparison to the subtle lies about the harsh realities of a failing planet.

In this tiny corner of the verse alone, energy and matter exist in such abundance that, at the very least, the Earth's human population could grow to ten trillion. And without any worry at all about the future--about avoiding the nearest red giant or dimensional fold--those ten trillion could live breezily and carelessly for a billion years: throwing out cupcakes for amusement, leaving the bathtub on over the weekend, having aircraft carrier demolition derbies, and each owning ninety acre private space yachts on coordinated orbits filled with robot masseuses and terrain re-generators.

Watch for the seeds of hopelessness, not just in elite operatives posing as progressives concerned for the state of the world economy or the needs of humanity's supposedly too-selfish modern desires, but in your own thoughts. The corporate learjets, sprawling mansions, $200K bridge games, transsexual dominatrix escorts, and custom BMWs of the "super-rich" elites are pieces of impoverished nothing next to the hundredth shadow of the most minor dream dreamt in the realm of the possible.

Continued in Intermediate Hope.


  1. A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of time equal to one thousand years.

  2. Well, this is an un-typical oversimplification.
    I certainly agree that the message of hopelessness is very dangerous, and should be resisted.
    Further, the resources indeed exist to ensure decent survival for every single human on the planet - but only IF the current socioeconomic system is abandoned entirely, so a rational approach to resource management is possible to adopt.

    But it will *have* to be at a lower rate of resource consumption, and this is where I obviously disagree: just because the total output of solar energy is indeed enormous it certainly doesn't mean that we can actually use it. Solar energy (as it reaches the earth) is an extremely high entropy source. Which means that in order to use it, you also need to *expend* enormous amounts of energy and materials (unlike, say, coal, which you only have to dig out and light on fire).

    There is no doubt that ultimately humanity has no other energy options, however our ability to actually use it is *centuries* away in the future, and will still require lower rates of energy consumption.

    Further, there are limits on energy production increase - it cannot go on indefinitely. the amount of energy produced by humanity is already comparable to the energy emitted by the earth's core (!).

    And of course, there is the issue of the other - far more limited - resources and systems collapsing before our eyes, most notably deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, ocean pollution. These are also possible to fix, but certainly not within the current framework.

    So, again, while I certainly agree that the message of hopelessness is a useful tool for domination, the opposite does not necessarily hold true.

  3. Btw, here is a nicely complementary essay from today entitled "Apocalypse and the left"!!