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Coronavirus in relation to "Future Scenarios" Brown Tech, Green Tech, Earth Steward, Life Boats?

 
pollinator
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Dave Homgren wrote an interesting essay on what future scenarios we might be facing, depending on the speed of peak oil depletion and the speed of climate change, and the paths we choose to address them. For those who read this essay, which path does the coronavirus make more likely?
 
pollinator
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As Holmgren suggested at the end of the essay, all of them, all at once, in pockets determined by the availability of resources and the flavour of political will.

What's interesting here is that it's not a shortage but a glut coupled with depressed demand causing the issues on the oil side. That will probably mean that there will be some brown transition in areas for which oil production is lowest-cost, as in Russia and Saudi Arabia. Expensive extraction and processing in Canada, along with the political will to account for social and environmental costs in our economics, will probably mean that we go the green tech/Earth Steward route. Contrary to some beliefs, I think that the two aren't mutually exclusive.

I also think the presence of natural gas as an alternative to coal allows for lighter shades of brown tech, if you will, which will ameliorate otherwise coal-based brown tech systems.

I think that hopefully, what we will see in green tech innovations, in addition to the typical solar and wind, will include Small Modular Molten Salt Reactors, fuelled by radioactive waste, yielding a decrease in volume and radioactivity, and lots of free energy. This will enable places like Canada to export these prefabbed small modular reactors to places with waste that could also use energy from an otherwise destructive source.

This essay is essentially the best synopsis of permacultural futurism as applied to the energy picture. I look forward to hearing other opinions on the matter.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:

As Holmgren suggested at the end of the essay, all of them, all at once, in pockets determined by the availability of resources and the flavour of political will.

Predicting government reactions is hard and getting harder. Many governments are trying to maintain order and citizen cooperation by promising +/- actually delivering money to people in need. The problem is that money has to come from somewhere and no one's talking about the huge debt this is creating on top of already indebted nations. If this results in greater rates of country insolvencies, that will put huge pressure on neighboring countries and more international refugee issues, if the areas have no resiliency.

What I'm truly hoping for is that governments will follow Iceland's example during their banking crisis and rather than bailing out the big guys, focus on the little guys. For example, locally we have a small scale poultry abattoir run by a local farmer who normally processes once or twice per week for "local" (probably 100 km give or take) producers. Clearly local demand for his service has been growing because we had some difficulty getting a early summer date for Hubby's meat chicks. The hoops he had to jump through and the huge expenses he had to shoulder to get approval was ridiculous because the same rules apply to him as to the mega factory farm processors. But he's a Pop, Son +1 operation, so the risk of covid shut-down is all or nothing! We're hoping for nothing! That's so different from the outbreaks we're hearing about on the mainland where there are huge staff working in close contact and it only takes one person to trigger a large infection.

If we can help people see that the increased cost of returning to small local sustainability gives us defense against covid, that might shift Holmgren's Scenarios towards the Earth Steward direction and reinforce the value of having goods locally produced and consumed. If Governments focus on protecting Big Business, that may convince Joe Average that covid was just a once in a lifetime upset and everything will go back to the way it was. If that happens, we will be right back to a totally energy dependent society that has kicked the can a little further down the road in an effort to make it the next guy's problem.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Oh, I agree, 100%. I actually made the meat factory versus mobile processing observation  yesterday in conversation with my much better half.

Right now, Canada has the federally launched the CERB (Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit, iirc), $2000/household/month for 4 months to all hit by COVID-19. I think that for long-term stability, along with a rockety rebound past the status quo, this should be offered per person and as an Universal Basic Income. Grants for retraining should also be offered, to get people trained up for a changed job market. I know if I had such a thing, along with a government-backed zero interest mortgage on a piece of land and farming grant, I would be there already, adding to regional food stability rather than just my own.

Also, I can't think of a better way to keep trade and economies moving than to pay people so they can live rather than starve, and then investing further in their capabilities, for their good and the good of all.

And government might have little choice. They need the little wheels driven by human necessity to keep on grinding.

In any case, I think Holmgren's essay is great to bring up now in such interesting times. I think it is very practical and realistic in tone, considering current developments.

-CK
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Interesting responses! I wonder if low oil prices will last for a while.
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