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Subject: Reviving The Red Fleet
SYSOP    1/25/2013 5:16:37 AM
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Belisarius1234    Yes, the DAMNED Americans.   1/26/2013 6:42:47 PM
Buying Humanity another century to get to fusion power, and delaying for another hundred years a catastrophe, that includes massive famine, drought wars, species die off, and the inevitable PEAK OIL they've miraculously postponed as they bought a time cushion with good old CAPITALIST financed SCIENCE.    
Thank GOD for the DAMNED Americans. Even the Russians should get down on their knees. That's TWICE we've saved those incompetents.
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Reactive       1/27/2013 8:58:49 AM
You know something quite funny (or interesting) is that having found extensive signs of deep shale deposits across Europe (and likely a huge resource in the north sea) and with the technology to recover it now maturing fast Russia's Gas exports to Europe (which it had assumed would be indefinite and has exploited accordingly) are potentially going to be hit hard and potentially over a long duration  - surprise surprise BP's spokesman suggests that this won't be a "game changer" and have repeatedly tried to downplay the finds so far without offering much in the way of evidence, whose back might they be scratching *cough*?
A century (or two) to get working fusion happening is realistic - There's no such thing as a free lunch and fusion is the ultimate free lunch - perhaps this era's version of alchemy - where evidence of a few milliseconds of fusion is used to secure funding for the "final testbed" (ITER) - even though no one is sure that tokomaks are inherently viable.. I'd much rather that same level of investment was put into technologies that have a smaller level of risk and deliver energy-dense outcomes.. 
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Belisarius1234    Geothermal Stirling engines...   1/27/2013 11:02:52 AM
and ocean tidal generators and such are scalable proven technologies, but they are incredibly maintenance intensive. Those are also inherently dangerous for a variety of reasons, both environmental, geophysical and ecological, that some industrial engineers only fuzzily understand. Trapped methane release and crustal heat release are just two foreseeable environmental hazards. The Earth is also elastic. It wobbles physically. Its magnetic field changes shape when influenced by heat and tilt displacement. We certainly know mass distribution, magnetic moment (including the magnetic field's disappearance for unknown reasons!), and tilt changes marginally, from minor crustal and ocean displacement that we see in the geophysical record. We can measure it happen today during earthquakes. So we know that possibility is real. What if we goof up the engineering? What we don't know can kill us. 
Some of those proposed machines are massive enough to approximate a magnitude seven to eight earthquake 24/7.
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Reactive       1/28/2013 12:18:46 PM
Generally speaking we have been repeatedly shocked (as a society) by the impacts that cumulative human influence can have on ecosystems and potentially even major weather systems.
My gut instinct would tell me that there's very little impact that human thermodynamic effects could have but there are crucial caveats to this "instinct" firstly that I am not an expert and secondly that "because it's so large" is not a valid argument. That the current focus (for want of a better word) is largely gaseous changes in the atmosphere, human influence on cloud formation, ocean acidification (and its associated effects), particulates in the upper-atmosphere (global dimming) and damage to ecosystems is probably (imv at least) the correct approach . 
Solar radiation at the earth's surface is around 80-90,000 TW - we currently produce around 15 TW (based on 2008 data) it's reasonable to conclude that the variation in cloud formation and solar variation YOY is orders of magnitude higher than the current human heat usage - my personal view is that in terms of thermodynamic effects alone we will remain somewhat insignificant UNTIL we really do start to start to move to the next energy state - whether our generation of water vapour significantly increases cloud-formation is another matter and it seems to me that it may have a larger impact than is generally presumed especially where large areas of land are irrigated etc.
It seems to me at least that fusion, if/when eventually realised will completely redefine our definition of human-limits - it will open up every frontier we can imagine for human habitation, provide enough energy that we will lose our reliance on the sun as sole-provider of foodstuffs (imagine vast, weather-independent stacked hydroponic systems) - at that point, yes our thermodynamic effects are unquantifiable - without any naturally-imposed limit on energy generation we could maintain a population of 100's of billions or even trillions, travel into deep space, set up shop on Mars - it really is singularly that important, for that reason I feel we're in the equivalent place in human terms of pre-industrial civilisation was prior to the age of steam, except I suspect there will be people alive in 100 years who will still be eagerly awaiting this technology, which will 'only be 20 years away'.
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