Saturday, August 29, 2009


MLP #2

Mode mindless link propagation.

Jamais Cascio: Three Possible Economic Models: Resilience Economics, Just-in-Time Socialism, Robonomics. All three of these are quite sunny models of where we might end up - but each hints at the dark side that it helped to prevent. I see the future as being like Resilience Economics, but with a lot of the dark side of robonomics tempering it.

Charles Stross: Merciless. Quote: "There is a cancer in the collective American soul — a mercy deficit that has in recent years grown as alarmingly as the budget deficit. Nor is it as simple as a left/right thing: no political party has a monopoly on merciless behaviour. Rather, a creeping draconian absolutism has cast its penumbra across the entire arena of public discourse, tainting every debate, poisoning and hardening attitudes across the board."

Scott Brusaw: Solar roadways gets $100k funding, awesome! The Automotive X Prize focusses on the cars, but building the roads is at least as unsustainable. Can the solar road idea be made to work? The numbers look good, but people are skeptical that it would be possible to actually make durable roads that way... this 100k won't address that (since as I see it the problems with this design are at the interfaces between the panels), but it'll get us a big step closer.

Craig A. Severance: Game changer 3: New natural gas supplies — great for low-cost climate action, bad for coal, apparently vast new unconventional reserves ("shale gas), and newly available cheap Foreign Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) have made the price of natural gas plunge, with plentiful supplies predicted to last for decades now - a dramatic reversal from the long-term scarcity predicted even as little as a year ago. Craig thinks this cheap natural gas will really help with climate change emissions.

Steve Savage: Why Wheat is an “Orphan Crop:” Conclusion, which includes an incredible chart of the yield/acre of corn versus wheat. The rate of growth in yields has been basically constant since the 50s - and it's large, 20 extra bushels/acre every decade for corn. I had thought at yields has leveled out in the 70s after the green revolution, but this is not true at all! Combine with the above surplus of natural gas (which is the primary input behind both fertilizer and pesticides) and it looks like industrial agriculture is going to easily maintain it's dominance.

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