Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

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Tyndmyr
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:39 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:
folkhero wrote:
jestingrabbit wrote:It seems like a lot of people with these, sometimes incredibly debilitating, illnesses aren't claiming, or eligible, for disability.

Yes, and?


You invited me to look at the demographics. That's what I did. I then stated an obvious conclusion.

My point is that even if there is "fakery", there are also people who probably are eligible and not applying and are ineligible and should be. There might be some people scamming the system, but making it more strict is also going to deprive worthy individuals of the state's assistance. My point is also that 1 percent of the population claiming mental illness disability seems entirely in keeping with the incidence of these illnesses.

As for the incentives for people to help get people on disability, given that the rates of people on disability seems low when compared to the incidence of the illnesses, and that the system is already so complicated that you to hire a lawyer to have a reasonable chance of receiving help, the balance seems tipped well and truly against helping people.


Meh. You can improve the program without focusing on denials. It doesn't necessarily have to translate to "deny worthy people".

I have no trouble believing that the application process is brutal. I've dealt with the VA elsewhere, and it can be a nightmare to get a little piece of paper from them sometimes(DD-214, a relatively common one, is so annoying to get in some cases, that private companies have sprung up to guide you through it). Much like for immigration, we need to fix it. We do this not by putting more burden on the individual to prove their case, but by fixing the systemic issues involved.

For starters, I'd like to see the paperwork for a LOT of government programs heavily streamlined. Seriously, we live in a country that passed a "paperwork reduction act" that added an extra page to a huge list of forms. Needless complexity will result in more human errors of both kinds(false denial AND false acceptance). Both are bad.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby morriswalters » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:01 am UTC

Heisenberg wrote:The human population continues to grow at an incredible rate. So does the job market. None of the thousands of "earth-shattering" technological advances has changed that to date.
And just how would you know that? A number of countries are experiencing population declines and the UN doesn't expect world population to double as fast as it did prior to the current date. And plenty of indications that we are close to exceeding carrying capacity now. Simple physics says it can't go on forever. It takes energy for this kind of growth and for the foreseeable future that means fossil fuels and everything that goes with it.
Tyndmyr wrote:For starters, I'd like to see the paperwork for a LOT of government programs heavily streamlined. Seriously, we live in a country that passed a "paperwork reduction act" that added an extra page to a huge list of forms. Needless complexity will result in more human errors of both kinds(false denial AND false acceptance). Both are bad.
The process in terms of the paperwork is actually simple For Social Security Disability. The process in terms of approval is arcane. There is a list of things that qualify automatically, but try finding it. And I would guess it's hidden for good reason. You can't be working when you apply and the process can take up to two years. Too many applicants and too little money for the staff. You will see one of their doctors and provide all the documentation that you have in terms of medical records. Your doctors opinion doesn't count. And then you wait, or lawyer up. And then someone in an office throws darts at a board marked in divisions of accept or decline. And if no, you get to go to an administrative court of some type, which can take years. And Social Security is either putting up barriers(MSNBC) or making it too easy(Fox News). To get Medicare, assuming that you are not eligible for it already(in which case why would you apply for disability), takes two years from the date you are approved. So four years without health coverage and two years without income. People do in fact cheat it. And twice the gross national product of the US is hidden in offshore accounts by the wealthy. Fair and Balanced.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:03 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:At some lovely point, perhaps robots really will provide our every desire. That actually sounds pretty nice. I'd happily live there.


It sounds great if you are an owner. Not so good if you earn your daily bread by getting paid for your labor.

Ain't gonna happen anytime in the vaguely near future, though.


I doubt we could have machines providing for everybody without first arranging a giant change in our ideology. If people don't work, and they don't own stuff that their great-great-grandfathers took from the Indians, why should they deserve to be given stuff?

And yeah, machines getting better is a virtue, not a vice. I had the privilege of getting a private tour last summer of a factory by the fellow that was doing their process automation. He told me that as he automated, they didn't actually lose overall jobs...they simply converted jobs to operator jobs from the previous menial positions. Better paid positions, too, because, let's be honest, the menial jobs of stacking things and gluing things together paid poorly. How is this possible? Well, they made a LOT more stuff with the automation.


This is the part I'm not so certain about. Yes, it's better to have important jobs than menial jobs that aren't worth much. It's better to have work that makes a difference, than work that a machine does better. This one factory made a LOT more stuff with the same people, because the machines were much more productive than the people had been. So either total world production goes way up and people have a lot more of whatever they make, or a bunch of other factories that can't compete get shut down. Those workers do not get jobs running automated factories that make this product. Maybe they will get jobs running automated factories that produce things we simply did not produce before, so we are richer than ever? That would be nice.

So, the company overall grew, increasing US market share in that area, the end prices of the product got cheaper, and better jobs were there to be had. Win for everyone(except, I suppose, the companies in china who lost market share).


They produce a LOT more without increasing employment. This is the pattern I'm seeing. Production goes up, employment does not go up. Well OK. If I have to compete for a job when there aren't enough jobs to go around, I'd rather compete for a well-paid job running a factory than a bad job gluing stuff together. Not like it's all bad.

Just, if the government is going to go to great efforts to make sure I don't get away with anything, I'd feel a lot better if there were enough jobs to go around. If they say I can't have unemployment and I can't have welfare and I can't have disability because I can work, but there are no jobs, that's scary.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:14 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:And yeah, machines getting better is a virtue, not a vice. I had the privilege of getting a private tour last summer of a factory by the fellow that was doing their process automation. He told me that as he automated, they didn't actually lose overall jobs...they simply converted jobs to operator jobs from the previous menial positions. Better paid positions, too, because, let's be honest, the menial jobs of stacking things and gluing things together paid poorly. How is this possible? Well, they made a LOT more stuff with the automation.


This is the part I'm not so certain about. Yes, it's better to have important jobs than menial jobs that aren't worth much. It's better to have work that makes a difference, than work that a machine does better. This one factory made a LOT more stuff with the same people, because the machines were much more productive than the people had been. So either total world production goes way up and people have a lot more of whatever they make, or a bunch of other factories that can't compete get shut down. Those workers do not get jobs running automated factories that make this product. Maybe they will get jobs running automated factories that produce things we simply did not produce before, so we are richer than ever? That would be nice.[/quote]

The "production goes way up, and we start making new things" is pretty much the way it's always happened up till now. It's a fair bet that it'll keep on going that way. Total demand is infinite, since there's an infinite number of possible products. Yeah, maybe we'll get hovercars in the future, and the car market will shrink to a few nutters who like old things. Whatever. We'll all be after the latest, most awesome hovercars, then. Some people will want twelve hovercars, or especially fashionable hovercars. It's the nature of things. If you doubt the bottomless appetite of humanity for ever-more things, look to the rich. They manage to consume quite a lot, and still often seek more. No different than the people will less, really.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:44 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
And yeah, machines getting better is a virtue, not a vice. I had the privilege of getting a private tour last summer of a factory by the fellow that was doing their process automation. He told me that as he automated, they didn't actually lose overall jobs...they simply converted jobs to operator jobs from the previous menial positions. Better paid positions, too, because, let's be honest, the menial jobs of stacking things and gluing things together paid poorly. How is this possible? Well, they made a LOT more stuff with the automation.


This is the part I'm not so certain about. Yes, it's better to have important jobs than menial jobs that aren't worth much. It's better to have work that makes a difference, than work that a machine does better. This one factory made a LOT more stuff with the same people, because the machines were much more productive than the people had been. So either total world production goes way up and people have a lot more of whatever they make, or a bunch of other factories that can't compete get shut down. Those workers do not get jobs running automated factories that make this product. Maybe they will get jobs running automated factories that produce things we simply did not produce before, so we are richer than ever? That would be nice.


The "production goes way up, and we start making new things" is pretty much the way it's always happened up till now. It's a fair bet that it'll keep on going that way. Total demand is infinite, since there's an infinite number of possible products. Yeah, maybe we'll get hovercars in the future, and the car market will shrink to a few nutters who like old things. Whatever. We'll all be after the latest, most awesome hovercars, then. Some people will want twelve hovercars, or especially fashionable hovercars. It's the nature of things. If you doubt the bottomless appetite of humanity for ever-more things, look to the rich. They manage to consume quite a lot, and still often seek more. No different than the people will less, really.


Maybe. I hope you're right.

http://i208.photobucket.com/albums/bb30 ... islums.png
Here is a place in Brazil that used to have inhospitable slums. Officially they had no water or electricity. But the Brazilian government has worked hard to provide them with water and electricity, because in fact before they were stealing it.

Many of these people are very poor but they get by. They find work and ways to buy insulation and waterproofing for their houses. Some people get technically rich and do not move away because they are used to their homes and feel safe there. Many people have TV, partly because those who have steady jobs can get credit, and so can pay for TV in up to 36 months.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby pitareio » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:06 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The "production goes way up, and we start making new things" is pretty much the way it's always happened up till now. It's a fair bet that it'll keep on going that way. Total demand is infinite, since there's an infinite number of possible products. Yeah, maybe we'll get hovercars in the future, and the car market will shrink to a few nutters who like old things. Whatever. We'll all be after the latest, most awesome hovercars, then. Some people will want twelve hovercars, or especially fashionable hovercars. It's the nature of things. If you doubt the bottomless appetite of humanity for ever-more things, look to the rich. They manage to consume quite a lot, and still often seek more. No different than the people will less, really.


Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth. That's not exactly a new idea, it was expressed in 1972 by the Club of Rome.

J Thomas wrote:http://i208.photobucket.com/albums/bb30 ... islums.png
Here is a place in Brazil that used to have inhospitable slums. Officially they had no water or electricity. But the Brazilian government has worked hard to provide them with water and electricity, because in fact before they were stealing it.


I'm not sure how the picture is meant to illustrate your point, but I hope you know Mumbai is in India, not Brazil? You could take a very similar picture of the favelas of Rio, of course.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:10 pm UTC

pitareio wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The "production goes way up, and we start making new things" is pretty much the way it's always happened up till now. It's a fair bet that it'll keep on going that way. Total demand is infinite, since there's an infinite number of possible products. Yeah, maybe we'll get hovercars in the future, and the car market will shrink to a few nutters who like old things. Whatever. We'll all be after the latest, most awesome hovercars, then. Some people will want twelve hovercars, or especially fashionable hovercars. It's the nature of things. If you doubt the bottomless appetite of humanity for ever-more things, look to the rich. They manage to consume quite a lot, and still often seek more. No different than the people will less, really.


Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth. That's not exactly a new idea, it was expressed in 1972 by the Club of Rome.

J Thomas wrote:http://i208.photobucket.com/albums/bb30 ... islums.png
Here is a place in Brazil that used to have inhospitable slums. Officially they had no water or electricity. But the Brazilian government has worked hard to provide them with water and electricity, because in fact before they were stealing it.


I'm not sure how the picture is meant to illustrate your point, but I hope you know Mumbai is in India, not Brazil? You could take a very similar picture of the favelas of Rio, of course.


Oops. I was looking for stock photos from brazil, and that one slipped by. It looked a whole lot like the others, and it showed a nice contrast. I tried the same method again and got something from venezuela. <sigh>
http://landscapeofaztlan.files.wordpres ... aracas.jpg

This one is Brazil.
http://www.moon.com/files/blog-entry-im ... avelas.JPG

Lots of underemployed people who still have lots of demand. Nice substantial homes, on land they do not exactly have title to. Great big masses of them living close to rich hi-tech areas.

http://favelaissues.files.wordpress.com ... 090670.jpg
See how sturdy and well-built these houses are. A woman cooking at a stove, the blue thing by the stove might be a gas tank? It looks like amateur power lines but maybe some of them have laundry hanging from them, my eye isn't all that good. The open sewers don't show. It doesn't look so bad, people could live there just fine. Except the government wanted to get rid of the houses and replace them with better houses for people who can pay more.

People who can get enough work can do just fine, even if it doesn't pay much. The big expensive issues are health care and dentistry. Give up those and you can live pretty cheap.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby EMTP » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:52 pm UTC

Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth.


No. Just no. You are assuming a fixed relationship between resource consumption and production.

About me: I blog on climate change and have for several years. I am an advocate for sustainable practices and I believe we should strive to live more densely, abandon marginal agricultural lands, and make more room on the Earth for other species.

It bugs the hell out of me when people set themselves against economic growth. Smart growth makes fixing what is wrong with our economies and our lifestyles much easier. People almost universally aspire to be richer and more comfortable; to attack that is to set yourself against a vastly more powerful impetus to human action and there is no reason to do so.

People will continue to grow wealthier in an economic system that appropriately discourages or prevents destructive behavior (like the unsustainable release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases, or the destruction of global fish populations through overfishing). Some of that wealth can further be redirected to developing and implementing better infrastructure and more sustainable ways of achieving our aspirations.

The Earth has limits we should respect, but we can respect them while continuing to grow more prosperous ("increase production") through better technology and better use of the technology we have.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Ormurinn » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:12 pm UTC

5% of the U.S is on disability, 10% of the U.K (20% of working age population), Jestingrabbit has posted evidence that mental disability alone is around 7% cumulatively.

A question for those more experienced in medicine, statistics, biology and anthropology - has this been constant throuought history? My Gut feeling says improves standard of living and medicine should mean if anything the proportion of people who cannot work has gone down not up.

If so, how has the human race survived? Are there any other animals where 1/5th of the value-securing population cannot perform useful labour? How does a band of 100 hunter gatherers survive when 20 of them are incapable of securing their own food?

Is the modern environment so incredibly bad for humans that were actually worse off? I've read a piece by Jared Diamond on the shift from predation to agriculture that argues that, but seriously, my mind is boggling.

--------

On the subject of employment - it doesn't actually seem that hard to get a job in the U.K at the moment, there seems to be a lot of hiring going on. There are flyers in just about every window on the high street looking for workers. What theres a lack of is careers, or jobs well paid enough to support a family on.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:20 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:
Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth.


No. Just no. You are assuming a fixed relationship between resource consumption and production.


Agreed. Even today, there are people who get onto multiplayer computer games and spend 40 hour weeks or even 80 hour weeks doing utterly boring farming so they can get custom items or stat increases etc. The products they value take very little in the way of resources -- 80 hours/week online plus a few pixels. But they value them the way poor people value luxury food.

All it takes is the right sort of marketing, and we can get big parts of the population to compete heavily for prizes that take essentially no resources. While they do that they won't notice much about what they eat or where they sleep. It can work out just fine. Better than crack.

It bugs the hell out of me when people set themselves against economic growth. Smart growth makes fixing what is wrong with our economies and our lifestyles much easier. People almost universally aspire to be richer and more comfortable; to attack that is to set yourself against a vastly more powerful impetus to human action and there is no reason to do so.


Yes. We only need to get people to feel rich when they have the right pixels, and it will all work out. Don't tell them they can't be rich. Just get them to feel rich even when they don't have much gold, silver, iron, aluminum, plastic, cotton, electricity, oil, coal, or food. They don't have to consume a lot of resources to be rich, if you can get them to redefine their goals.

The Earth has limits we should respect, but we can respect them while continuing to grow more prosperous ("increase production") through better technology and better use of the technology we have.


Definitely! So, like, while you're winning the game your avatar can live in a palace and really impress anybody you meet. You can live in some barrio and all you need is an adequate internet connection to be a winner. (Plus whatever it takes to win at the game.)
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby pitareio » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:25 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:
Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth.


No. Just no. You are assuming a fixed relationship between resource consumption and production.


This is the case today. All current human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy. We get most of this energy from fossil sources, of which we've got a limited stock that won't be renewed before a few millions years. Replacement of these sources of energy with renewable energies, while not impossible, would require a long time (many decades) and huge investments.

About me: I blog on climate change and have for several years. I am an advocate for sustainable practices and I believe we should strive to live more densely, abandon marginal agricultural lands, and make more room on the Earth for other species.

It bugs the hell out of me when people set themselves against economic growth. Smart growth makes fixing what is wrong with our economies and our lifestyles much easier. People almost universally aspire to be richer and more comfortable; to attack that is to set yourself against a vastly more powerful impetus to human action and there is no reason to do so.


I could agree, but this is quite a different definition of growth that the one we use today. It doesn't go well with "woo-hoo, twelve hovercars for everyone!".

People will continue to grow wealthier in an economic system that appropriately discourages or prevents destructive behavior (like the unsustainable release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases, or the destruction of global fish populations through overfishing). Some of that wealth can further be redirected to developing and implementing better infrastructure and more sustainable ways of achieving our aspirations.

The Earth has limits we should respect, but we can respect them while continuing to grow more prosperous ("increase production") through better technology and better use of the technology we have.


Unfortunately, by the looks of it, this is not where we are headed.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby pitareio » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:43 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Agreed. Even today, there are people who get onto multiplayer computer games and spend 40 hour weeks or even 80 hour weeks doing utterly boring farming so they can get custom items or stat increases etc. The products they value take very little in the way of resources -- 80 hours/week online plus a few pixels. But they value them the way poor people value luxury food.


Huh, yeah. And computers grow on trees don't they?

All it takes is the right sort of marketing, and we can get big parts of the population to compete heavily for prizes that take essentially no resources. While they do that they won't notice much about what they eat or where they sleep. It can work out just fine. Better than crack.


I'm not sure how serious you are (not too much, I hope), but if this world needs anything, it's less marketing, not more.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Ormurinn » Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:58 pm UTC

pitareio wrote:
EMTP wrote:
Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth.


No. Just no. You are assuming a fixed relationship between resource consumption and production.


This is the case today. All current human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy. We get most of this energy from fossil sources, of which we've got a limited stock that won't be renewed before a few millions years. Replacement of these sources of energy with renewable energies, while not impossible, would require a long time (many decades) and huge investments.


Replacement of them by nuclear fission is eminently feasible though.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby pitareio » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:08 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
pitareio wrote:
EMTP wrote:
Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth.


No. Just no. You are assuming a fixed relationship between resource consumption and production.


This is the case today. All current human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy. We get most of this energy from fossil sources, of which we've got a limited stock that won't be renewed before a few millions years. Replacement of these sources of energy with renewable energies, while not impossible, would require a long time (many decades) and huge investments.


Replacement of them by nuclear fission is eminently feasible though.


That would only push the problem a little further - resources in Uranium or Thorium aren't infinite either, and you don't build a new plant overnight either.

As a bonus you get the problem of dealing with nuclear waste and the risk of an accident.

Breeder reactors might offer a more interesting solution, but before considering it can be a global solution, there's a long way to go.

Before someone mentions it : fusion is just a dream for now, that may or may not become a reality in the second half of this century.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby sardia » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:42 pm UTC

You do realize that if we really wanted fission, we'd just take the nuclear waste, and reprocess it more reactor fuel, aka the breeder reactor and other variants. It doesn't matter if nuclear reactors only provide enough power for the next 100 years, we have fusion coming into the pipleline in the next 100 years.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:21 pm UTC

sardia wrote:You do realize that if we really wanted fission, we'd just take the nuclear waste, and reprocess it more reactor fuel, aka the breeder reactor and other variants.


Currently we get about one good reprocessing before reprocessed reactor fuel has too many highly radioactive contaminants to be safe to use. We could probably develop techniques to do that better, except it's currently not profitable. Hard to be sure what would be possible if we had a shortage of nuclear fuel. Maybe we could find cheaper ways to do stuff. One possibility -- reprocess the fuel onsite, inside the reactor shielding. Then it wouldn't matter so much how dangerous it would be if it got out.

It doesn't matter if nuclear reactors only provide enough power for the next 100 years, we have fusion coming into the pipleline in the next 100 years.


I don't know how to estimate how long it will take to get fusion working. It's been 20 years away for 50 years. No, I guess they started increasing the estimates after awhile, so it started out 20 years away and now it's more like 40.

It's possible we already have all the research needed for fusion reactors, but the governments keep it secret because they think that would reveal too much about how to make bombs. I've talked to fusion researchers who said they ran into problems along those lines, that their sponsors were far more interested in making sure they didn't publish anything bad than in letting them publish useful results. Maybe it will be quick once we get the will to let it happen.

I just don't know. If we do something that works for our own lifetimes that's a start. After that it's Somebody Else's Problem.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Fire Brns » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:26 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
sardia wrote:You do realize that if we really wanted fission, we'd just take the nuclear waste, and reprocess it more reactor fuel, aka the breeder reactor and other variants.


Currently we get about one good reprocessing before reprocessed reactor fuel has too many highly radioactive contaminants to be safe to use. We could probably develop techniques to do that better, except it's currently not profitable. Hard to be sure what would be possible if we had a shortage of nuclear fuel. Maybe we could find cheaper ways to do stuff. One possibility -- reprocess the fuel onsite, inside the reactor shielding. Then it wouldn't matter so much how dangerous it would be if it got out.
We could always just use grow radioactive fungus from the waste and then burn the fungus as fuel. :P

It doesn't matter if nuclear reactors only provide enough power for the next 100 years, we have fusion coming into the pipleline in the next 100 years.


I don't know how to estimate how long it will take to get fusion working. It's been 20 years away for 50 years. No, I guess they started increasing the estimates after awhile, so it started out 20 years away and now it's more like 40.
I doubt the validity of fusion claims as well. We have to work with what we have here and now. The fact that fusion only naturally occurs when you get several billion tons of hydrogen together is a good indicator of it's difficulty to reproduce.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:42 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
I don't know how to estimate how long it will take to get fusion working. It's been 20 years away for 50 years. No, I guess they started increasing the estimates after awhile, so it started out 20 years away and now it's more like 40.
I doubt the validity of fusion claims as well. We have to work with what we have here and now. The fact that fusion only naturally occurs when you get several billion tons of hydrogen together is a good indicator of it's difficulty to reproduce.


There are working fusion reactors today, although no one has been able to keep one online for more than 10 minutes, IIRC. We're getting very close and we're certainly closer than we were 50 years ago.

Ormurinn wrote:5% of the U.S is on disability, 10% of the U.K (20% of working age population), Jestingrabbit has posted evidence that mental disability alone is around 7% cumulatively.

A question for those more experienced in medicine, statistics, biology and anthropology - has this been constant throuought history? My Gut feeling says improves standard of living and medicine should mean if anything the proportion of people who cannot work has gone down not up.

If so, how has the human race survived? Are there any other animals where 1/5th of the value-securing population cannot perform useful labour? How does a band of 100 hunter gatherers survive when 20 of them are incapable of securing their own food?

Is the modern environment so incredibly bad for humans that were actually worse off? I've read a piece by Jared Diamond on the shift from predation to agriculture that argues that, but seriously, my mind is boggling.


Getting statistics on the amount of people dependent on forms of welfare historically is essentially impossible, although much smarter people than me could probably make some pretty good guesses. Aristotle mentioned that there was a form of disability benefits in Athens. The Romans had a law as early as the First Century BC requiring food to be given to the poor of Rome. Jewish law provided a portion of a farmer's fields to be open to the poor. In the Medieval world, Christian churches of course encouraged charity to the poor and collected alms and charity is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, generally collected as a tax and then redistributed to the needy. I'm not as familiar with historical welfare in India and the Far East, but I suspect in any non-subsistence economy you will probably find a substantial amount of people unable to work.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:51 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
It doesn't matter if nuclear reactors only provide enough power for the next 100 years, we have fusion coming into the pipleline in the next 100 years.


I don't know how to estimate how long it will take to get fusion working. It's been 20 years away for 50 years. No, I guess they started increasing the estimates after awhile, so it started out 20 years away and now it's more like 40.
I doubt the validity of fusion claims as well. We have to work with what we have here and now.


On the other hand, if we spend a few trillion dollars building fission plants that turn out to dangerously produce expensive electricity for 60 years or so, and then it turns out that by waiting 5 years or so we could have done a lot better....

We have new fission designs which look much much safer. But if we in fact build a hundred of them in one year then by the next year we will have a lot more data about how safe they are in practice than we do now. And it would take us ten years running a hundred reactors to get the data we would get from one year running a thousand of them. We don't find out about the dangerous rare events until we are committed.

The fact that fusion only naturally occurs when you get several billion tons of hydrogen together is a good indicator of it's difficulty to reproduce.


That looks plausible. And yet, it's possible that we will figure out how to do it, and then we will find out about it happening in nature under circumstances we simply hadn't noticed before.

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/sc ... ntimatter/
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Fire Brns » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:33 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:There are working fusion reactors today, although no one has been able to keep one online for more than 10 minutes, IIRC. We're getting very close and we're certainly closer than we were 50 years ago.

J Thomas wrote:That looks plausible. And yet, it's possible that we will figure out how to do it, and then we will find out about it happening in nature under circumstances we simply hadn't noticed before.
I never said that it was impossible, just really hard. We don't get to take advantage of gravity when producing nuclear energy.

And the working fusion reactors still require more energy put into them than they give out. I assume that if we could run a tokamak long enough without it leaking multimillion degree plasma it might give a return.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby sardia » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:37 pm UTC

On top of that, the breakpoint isn't just getting more energy than we put in, it's turning that heat and light into turning a generator. Of course, once we get fusion past 10 seconds, it's relatively easy to turn it into some sort of boiling liquid turning a turbine.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:47 am UTC

pitareio wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The "production goes way up, and we start making new things" is pretty much the way it's always happened up till now. It's a fair bet that it'll keep on going that way. Total demand is infinite, since there's an infinite number of possible products. Yeah, maybe we'll get hovercars in the future, and the car market will shrink to a few nutters who like old things. Whatever. We'll all be after the latest, most awesome hovercars, then. Some people will want twelve hovercars, or especially fashionable hovercars. It's the nature of things. If you doubt the bottomless appetite of humanity for ever-more things, look to the rich. They manage to consume quite a lot, and still often seek more. No different than the people will less, really.


Demand may be theoretically infinite, but in a finite world with finite resources, there's definitely a limit to production and its growth. That's not exactly a new idea, it was expressed in 1972 by the Club of Rome.


Resources are technically finite, but utilization of them can be optimized. Sure, it's always more likely that we'll be worried about how to best make use of limited resources than having too many, but the theoretical ceiling on what we can do with the resources on earth is...very high, and probably unknowable at this time. Who knows what awesome tech we may develop some day?

Plus, humanity need not be restrained to earth forever. In some edge cases, we're utilizing resources from off earth right now.

Economic growth may, in the end, be finite, but the upper limit is so ludicrously beyond our understanding that there's really no point worrying about it.


As for mental disabilities, I suspect that not all of those folks are on disability. Instead, some of them are probably homeless, and rather a lot of them are probably in prison. Mental problems happen, but following de-institutionalization of mental facilities(a reasonable reaction to the excesses of some institutions), we kind of replaced the existing system with...nothing in a lot of places.

Also, nuclear fuels(my, we are covering a lot of topics here) are essentially infinite if we include oceanic reserves. I recall a comparison between the life of the planet in terms of human habitability and all fissile materials on earth, and it actually didn't look bad. Now, yeah, energy consumption will likely continue to rise, and not all fissile fuels may be practical to access, even with future tech...but there's a LOT of potential energy there, and it makes sense to use it at some point in time. It's not like it gets better with age. Honestly, fossil fuels are...really handy. It's going to be a challenge to replace them, there doesn't appear to be a single perfect answer...some sort of hybrid system is almost certainly the way to go. And yeah, the more research on this, the better*.

As for historical welfare, Christianity was actually surprisingly socialist in many ways, IMO. Probably not a popular viewpoint these days, but from the inside, both cultures share some ideals, at any rate.

*Not all libertarians agree, but I'm generally for basic research being done by government, and being published for all to use, free of legal hindrance. Can private research eventually discover how to, say, do a fusion reactor? Yeah, probably. But it'll take a good while, and then, that company will try to lock down the tech for ages. The boundaries of what, exactly constitutes basic research is a bit fuzzy, but in general, companies rock at turning basic research into a marketable product....but a commercial LHC is difficult to even imagine.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Carnildo » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:57 am UTC

Ormurinn wrote:5% of the U.S is on disability, 10% of the U.K (20% of working age population), Jestingrabbit has posted evidence that mental disability alone is around 7% cumulatively.

A question for those more experienced in medicine, statistics, biology and anthropology - has this been constant throuought history? My Gut feeling says improves standard of living and medicine should mean if anything the proportion of people who cannot work has gone down not up.

Historically, being disabled greatly increased your risk of dying, especially from cold, starvation, or disease. So, yes, the rate of disability has gone up, because disabled people are living longer and consequently forming a larger part of the population.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby sardia » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:24 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:5% of the U.S is on disability, 10% of the U.K (20% of working age population), Jestingrabbit has posted evidence that mental disability alone is around 7% cumulatively.

A question for those more experienced in medicine, statistics, biology and anthropology - has this been constant throuought history? My Gut feeling says improves standard of living and medicine should mean if anything the proportion of people who cannot work has gone down not up.

Historically, being disabled greatly increased your risk of dying, especially from cold, starvation, or disease. So, yes, the rate of disability has gone up, because disabled people are living longer and consequently forming a larger part of the population.

The implication of the article was that disability was the new unemployment check/welfare, especially since they have no skills besides manual labor.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:23 pm UTC

We don't know how to keep our nuclear waste from getting into our groundwater. We don't know how to clean up tar sands spills or oil spills either, but why make it worse? We don't have the technology to fix these kinds of issues(we fucking would if anyone had decided to figure it out. We've got iPhones for fucks sake). So using these fuel options is great but let's not talk like it's possible for them to be perfect.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:34 pm UTC

Fantastic Idea wrote:We don't know how to keep our nuclear waste from getting into our groundwater. We don't know how to clean up tar sands spills or oil spills either, but why make it worse? We don't have the technology to fix these kinds of issues(we fucking would if anyone had decided to figure it out. We've got iPhones for fucks sake). So using these fuel options is great but let's not talk like it's possible for them to be perfect.


Right now the question isn't getting something perfect. The question is getting something that lets us preserve our civilization. If we get a big energy deficit we could slip back to a feudal society or worse. Maybe a big population crash. The way we do it right now, it takes a lot of fossil fuels to feed 7 billion people.

So we need a lot of energy from something other than fossil fuels. Unless of course it turns out that the fossil fuels aren't running out after all. Perhaps we are getting lots and lots and lots of methane rising up from the mantle, more than we could possibly need. Maybe all we have to do is drill the right way and we will have all the energy we could possibly burn, we could burn fossil fuels forever or until the climate change stops us, whichever comes first. Maybe it's raining soup and we just need to get a hat.

But failing that, our only hope of getting enough energy is nuclear fission. Fusion won't be ready in time. Green energy is a fantasy put out by sandal-wearing hippies, we can never get enough energy that way at any reasonable price, and if we could there wouldn't be any profits in it, it would be decentralized things that would be hard to find bottlenecks to get money from.

So we have to build thousands of fission plants, quickly. Never mind about the ground water, we just have to hope it will work out.

Anyway there's some evidence that radiation is good for you. You could search "radiation hormesis". I guess there isn't really evidence that radiation is good for you, but the evidence that low-level radiation is bad for you is weak enough that we can doubt it like we doubt climate change and ozone depletion and health effects of tobacco. It *might* not be bad for you. There's hope. Maybe after we build thousands of fission plants and get a bunch of little accidents that contaminate the groundwater etc we might find out it isn't so bad.

Whether it's bad or not, it's pretty much a done deal. The media hasn't started pushing it that much yet because oil is still so affordable, and the oil companies don't want them to talk much about alternatives. When it gets clear that the oil is no longer viable, then the media will tell everybody that fission is our only alternative and there is no choice. And the new designs are much much safer, which we will prove once we have thousands of them to collect data from. And maybe radiation is good for you. And anyway there is no choice. The public will go along, just like they decided after 9/11 that the world had changed and no matter how much nostalgia we felt for 9/10 we had to put up with things we used to think Americans would never do.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby EMTP » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:00 pm UTC

pitareio wrote:This is the case today. All current human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy.


I would urge you to look beyond this bit of empty-headed punditry and ask yourself if you even know what the hell it means, because as far as I can tell, it fails to be completely wrong only by virtual of being vague and meaningless.
We get most of this energy from fossil sources, of which we've got a limited stock that won't be renewed before a few millions years. Replacement of these sources of energy with renewable energies, while not impossible, would require a long time (many decades) and huge investments.


Neither you, your anyone else knows how much fossil fuel can be extracted from the environment. There are many alternatives to fossil fuels for energy generation.

I could agree, but this is quite a different definition of growth that the one we use today. It doesn't go well with "woo-hoo, twelve hovercars for everyone!".


Not really. We define growth as growth of the economy. Most of our economy is services. I don't think very many economically literate people think economic growth necessarily means more steel mills and coal mines. That fallacy, much like the one about "human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy" is pretty much a fallacy of the extreme right and the extreme left, both of which want to believe that conserving the environment requires abandoning capitalism altogether.

Unfortunately, by the looks of it, this is not where we are headed.


Sure, but how does it behoove us to accept the right's false framing of wealth vs. nature, when the correct framing is smart growth(*) vs impoverishing both the natural world and ourselves?

* Economic growth, not necessarily literal physical growth.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby pitareio » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:19 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:
We get most of this energy from fossil sources, of which we've got a limited stock that won't be renewed before a few millions years. Replacement of these sources of energy with renewable energies, while not impossible, would require a long time (many decades) and huge investments.


Neither you, your anyone else knows how much fossil fuel can be extracted from the environment. There are many alternatives to fossil fuels for energy generation.


On the scale of our current usage? Available right now, or easily available in the next few years? That would really be good news.

Reminder : the USA get almost 85% of their energy from fossil sources (oil, gas, coal). Other countries use a little more or less, depending on how they developed hydro/nuclear/other renewables.

I could agree, but this is quite a different definition of growth that the one we use today. It doesn't go well with "woo-hoo, twelve hovercars for everyone!".


Not really. We define growth as growth of the economy. Most of our economy is services. I don't think very many economically literate people think economic growth necessarily means more steel mills and coal mines. That fallacy, much like the one about "human activities rely on the availability of cheap and abundant energy" is pretty much a fallacy of the extreme right and the extreme left, both of which want to believe that conserving the environment requires abandoning capitalism altogether.


Services don't run on water and fresh air, they need offices, computers, transportation of goods and people... All of this require energy. Shops don't run if they don't have products to sell. Actually, if anything, heavily tertiarized countries consume more energy than others.

Human activities, as they exist today in developed countries, heavily rely on cheap and abundant energy. That's a fact. Deprive a country of its supply of fossil energy and it collapses. You can call me a nazi bolchevik if you wish.

Unfortunately, by the looks of it, this is not where we are headed.


Sure, but how does it behoove us to accept the right's false framing of wealth vs. nature, when the correct framing is smart growth(*) vs impoverishing both the natural world and ourselves?

* Economic growth, not necessarily literal physical growth.


I've yet to see a model of perpetual economic growth that doesn't imply ever increasing energy consumption and still works, but I'd love to see one, really. How do you define smart growth?

Also, this is interesting : http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/201 ... owth-last/ (I have more sources, but in french, so I won't point to them here...)

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby sardia » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:23 pm UTC

On the scale of our current usage? Available right now, or easily available in the next few years? That would really be good news.

Reminder : the USA get almost 85% of their energy from fossil sources (oil, gas, coal). Other countries use a little more or less, depending on how they developed hydro/nuclear/other renewables.Services don't run on water and fresh air, they need offices, computers, transportation of goods and people... All of this require energy. Shops don't run if they don't have products to sell. Actually, if anything, heavily tertiarized countries consume more energy than others.

Human activities, as they exist today in developed countries, heavily rely on cheap and abundant energy. That's a fact. Deprive a country of its supply of fossil energy and it collapses. You can call me a nazi bolchevik if you wish.I've yet to see a model of perpetual economic growth that doesn't imply ever increasing energy consumption and still works, but I'd love to see one, really. How do you define smart growth?
Availible right now? Tar sands oil, fracking natural gas, and deep ocean methane hydrates coming soon. What your arguing is a straw man. You're saying something along the lines of "If the sun explodes, we're all gonna die. Therefore the economy will crash." Which is true, but utterly useless trivia. What you're actually predicting is that cheap fossil fuels won't be available to economies anymore therefore stalled growth. That has some evidence behind it, oil shocks by OPEC, etc etc. But the alternative to a permanent stall in economic growth is innovations in efficiency. One of the downsides to cheap energy is that we're incredibly inefficient with our resources. In addition, higher energy prices means more capital directed towards generating energy. Fracking wasn't possible 2 decades ago, and tar sands oil wasn't feasible until oil hit 100$ a barrel.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Iulus Cofield » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:57 pm UTC

Er, did this turn into an argument about whether or not fossil fuels will run out?

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby sardia » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:34 am UTC

Probably not, or at least I hope not. I assume He's referring to the trope of increasing demand for energy, and the inability of supply to keep up.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:21 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Er, did this turn into an argument about whether or not fossil fuels will run out?


Yes, it did. There are various arguments to say that fossil fuels will not run out in our lifetimes. Basicly they boil down to saying that the larger the fraction of our resources we put into extracting fossil fuels, the more fossil fuels we can extract. So for example if we find ourselves using tar sands in ways that burn 4 barrels of tar to extract 5, plus use up a lot of capital in other ways, still that means the fossil fuels stretch out.

Methane fracking is a special case. If the methane is just sitting there, it won't last very long and lots of the places we could use that technology won't be profitable -- unless the technology itself gets considerably cheaper. But it's hard to be sure how the methane got there. It could be partly produced by biological processes, and slowly recharge. It could be partly produced by oil fields etc, the methane that gets trapped with the oil might be some of the methane that is trying to get out. One of the ways we track oil domes is from the methane that leaks out around their edges and gets consumed by methane-eating bacteria on the surface. So that would let it slowly recharge. And even more exciting, where does the methane come from that winds up in the oil domes and leaking around their edges? If methane is leaking from the earth's mantle, there could be an inexhaustible supply. Just wait for those fracking formations to recharge, and you can get more and more and more methane. Maybe tons of methane every year, and it will never run out.

So there is hope! If we burn our known fossil fuels we will release around 3 times as much carbon as there is locked in the biosphere. But if it turns out that there is unlimited fossil fuel available, we could burn 10 times the biosphere, 50 times, 500 times! Depending on how fast we can extract it, we might be able to burn more and more and more fossil fuels until something else stops us.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:35 am UTC

Fantastic Idea wrote:We don't know how to keep our nuclear waste from getting into our groundwater. We don't know how to clean up tar sands spills or oil spills either, but why make it worse? We don't have the technology to fix these kinds of issues(we fucking would if anyone had decided to figure it out. We've got iPhones for fucks sake). So using these fuel options is great but let's not talk like it's possible for them to be perfect.


Honestly, all of those things are entirely fixable from a technology issue. They're not even hard. They may well be unsolvable from a policy issue, but that's something entirely different.

Let us take nuclear waste. Where did we get the fissile material from? The ground, generally. What, exactly is wrong with it going back there? Nothing, so long as you spread it out adequately. Frankly, it'll be safer than it was originally, since some of the fissile material is gone. Keep the short half-life and mixed stuff in storage for a bit before you do this, so it decays enough that this is practical, and it's no big thing. This is, of course, after you've taken any useful products out for reprocessing and medical use(already a thing), since why waste that resource? The problem is not a tech one at all, but that nobody wants to deal with long term disposition of nuclear waste near them, regardless of the science of it.

Oil spills? Hell, the big problem is plugging the leak. We know how to do that, even if it's occasionally problematic. Bacteria that eats oil totally exists, and when this happens, it suddenly has a field day. All the deep horizon oil isn't still there(well, some of it is)...bacteria has been working on that stuff pretty hardcore. Can we make technological advances? Sure. Can we fix the trouble we have now? Absolutely.

J Thomas wrote:But failing that, our only hope of getting enough energy is nuclear fission. Fusion won't be ready in time. Green energy is a fantasy put out by sandal-wearing hippies, we can never get enough energy that way at any reasonable price, and if we could there wouldn't be any profits in it, it would be decentralized things that would be hard to find bottlenecks to get money from.


While your overall point of "build nuke plants" is sound, and yes, many green energy products have been little more than hippie fantasies...not all of them are. Consider hydro. Pretty green by most standards, and it works damned well(pun intended) if you're in the right place. Likewise, solar works decently if you're, say, living in the arizona desert. Most of them are only suitable to certain areas...but if you're in an area where it's doable inexpensively, embrace it.

Decentralization is not entirely a downside, either. Lack of bottlenecks is actually a good thing. We want a nice, resilient energy supply. If it makes some random dude a lot of money is mostly irrelevant from my perspective, but I figure people will likely figure out how to get rich off any system that gets used in some way.

Problem with massive nuke construction is...not only is nuclear plant construction slow, it's fairly inflexible. There's not a lot of places on earth where reactor vessels are made, for instance. Given the importance of safety(something we've generally done well on with nukes), you really don't want to throw caution to the wind here, but it'll take decades to seriously ramp up production to build thousands of fission plants. We'll probably need to do that AND pursue green energy AND keep harvesting at least sizable amounts of fossil fuels for quite some time.

The power sector is huge. There isn't really a magic button that solves this issue, because the scale is so damned big. Even if you found a green energy source that was just as efficient as fossil fuels, and worked in all the same ways with no additional downsides(unlikely at best), merely deploying it would take quite a long time. Still, we need to do something. We're gonna keep burning more and more energy, and even fairly hard-boiled climate skeptics would, I hope, accept that at some very large carbon emission level, we're going to start seeing undesirable side effects. How much bad effects at what level? Meh. Somewhat debatable, and there's no point getting bogged down in that. Right now, we still want to effectively say yes to all the energy generation sources we can.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby morriswalters » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:46 am UTC

sardia wrote: Availible right now? Tar sands oil, fracking natural gas, and deep ocean methane hydrates coming soon. What your arguing is a straw man. You're saying something along the lines of "If the sun explodes, we're all gonna die. Therefore the economy will crash." Which is true, but utterly useless trivia. What you're actually predicting is that cheap fossil fuels won't be available to economies anymore therefore stalled growth. That has some evidence behind it, oil shocks by OPEC, etc etc. But the alternative to a permanent stall in economic growth is innovations in efficiency. One of the downsides to cheap energy is that we're incredibly inefficient with our resources. In addition, higher energy prices means more capital directed towards generating energy. Fracking wasn't possible 2 decades ago, and tar sands oil wasn't feasible until oil hit 100$ a barrel.

Let's see, the more efficient we become, the fewer of us we need, and the greater the incentive to get on disability, that assuming labor as the easiest place to achieve efficiency. The cheaper fossil fuels are, the more of them we burn and the quicker we get to wherever we are going climate wise. Why would either of these be a good thing? Add to that, in the US, a declining will to address any of these problems. We either set some realistic limits on social services like disability or the system is at risk of collapse.

Just for laughs and giggles imagine the world at large using energy like the countries with the top energy consumption as depicted here. For instance China and India.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:06 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Let us take nuclear waste. Where did we get the fissile material from? The ground, generally. What, exactly is wrong with it going back there? Nothing, so long as you spread it out adequately. Frankly, it'll be safer than it was originally, since some of the fissile material is gone. Keep the short half-life and mixed stuff in storage for a bit before you do this, so it decays enough that this is practical, and it's no big thing. This is, of course, after you've taken any useful products out for reprocessing and medical use(already a thing), since why waste that resource? The problem is not a tech one at all, but that nobody wants to deal with long term disposition of nuclear waste near them, regardless of the science of it.


Interesting approach! Let me see if I understand you -- people are upset that radioactive waste might get spread around where it can hurt people and there's basicly no escape from it for the next million years or so. (Like, plutonium is pretty bad and its longest halflife is around 80 million years though the most common isotope is around 24 thousand years. Sure, we'd like to collect the 24000 year stuff and use it again, but that's only economic up to a point. So your solution is to spread the stuff out evenly in the ground, put it everywhere, so it's diluted enough it's harmless. Interesting idea.

Oil spills? Hell, the big problem is plugging the leak. We know how to do that, even if it's occasionally problematic.


When an oil tanker spills a lot of oil the problem is usually not plugging the leak.

Bacteria that eats oil totally exists, and when this happens, it suddenly has a field day. All the deep horizon oil isn't still there(well, some of it is)...bacteria has been working on that stuff pretty hardcore. Can we make technological advances? Sure. Can we fix the trouble we have now? Absolutely.


Well.... Bacteria can certainly reduce some fractions of the oil. The immediate problem in the ocean of them doing that is they tend to suck away all the oxygen leaving none for ocean things that need it. And when the oxygen is gone they stop eating it until they can get more oxygen. We could maybe help things out by supplying them with oxygen but that's expensive.

The more complex molecules in the oil are the hardest to break down, and so the bacteria tend to go after those last. Those polycyclic things, kind of like miniature graphenes, some of them pretty carcinogenic. The oil-eating bacteria tend to use up the oxygen eating the stuff that gets the biggest kick first, and it saves those for later.

In the long run things recover. Forest fires, cyanide spills, nuclear war, something always survives and spreads into the places that things were killed. So I guess we could say that all these problems are basicly solved though there's room for technological advances.

J Thomas wrote:But failing that, our only hope of getting enough energy is nuclear fission. Fusion won't be ready in time. Green energy is a fantasy put out by sandal-wearing hippies, we can never get enough energy that way at any reasonable price, and if we could there wouldn't be any profits in it, it would be decentralized things that would be hard to find bottlenecks to get money from.


While your overall point of "build nuke plants" is sound, and yes, many green energy products have been little more than hippie fantasies...not all of them are. Consider hydro. Pretty green by most standards, and it works damned well(pun intended) if you're in the right place.[/quote]

Sure, but most of the hydroelectric plants we can afford to build are already built. Not the Grand Canyon, though. Somehow we've never gotten around to damming that.

Likewise, solar works decently if you're, say, living in the arizona desert. Most of them are only suitable to certain areas...but if you're in an area where it's doable inexpensively, embrace it.


Sure, it's fine. But the economic model fails. You have to buy your solar stuff first, and then it pays off over years. If the price of energy goes down, you're stuck with your losing investment. It has to get pretty cheap before it can compete with a model where you build a cheap power plant and then you pay for your fuel as fast as you sell the power. It does keep getting cheaper though. No telling where the limit will be.

Decentralization is not entirely a downside, either. Lack of bottlenecks is actually a good thing. We want a nice, resilient energy supply. If it makes some random dude a lot of money is mostly irrelevant from my perspective, but I figure people will likely figure out how to get rich off any system that gets used in some way.


If people who are already rich can't make a lot of money by investing in it, then it has to get done with minimal capital. It will be competing against whatever they do invest in, and they will lobby for subsidies for their stuff and punitive taxes on yours. Decentralized energy mostly won't happen. I consider not happening a great big downside.

Problem with massive nuke construction is...not only is nuclear plant construction slow, it's fairly inflexible. There's not a lot of places on earth where reactor vessels are made, for instance.


Now you are not thinking expansively. Once we decide to go ahead, we can build one full-scale plant in 3 years. Using what we learn from that, we can build four full-scale plants in 2 years. The people who trained on the first plant can run the others. We can build 16 plants in another 2 years, 64 plants in 2 years more, etc. Nuclear power plant construction is slow and inflexible because that's all we've wanted before. Once we decide to mass-produce them, we'll do it fast.

Given the importance of safety(something we've generally done well on with nukes), you really don't want to throw caution to the wind here, but it'll take decades to seriously ramp up production to build thousands of fission plants.


Yes. If we wind up making just twice as many each cycle, and if Murphy's law brings the cycle time down to 4 years instead of 2, then it's 20 years to reach 63 plants and 40 years to reach 2047 of them. We'd need to go a bit faster than that.

We'll probably need to do that AND pursue green energy AND keep harvesting at least sizable amounts of fossil fuels for quite some time.


Well, you notice that oil prices swing up and down, and each time they swing down investors cancel various energy projects that look expensive. If we try everything, then each time one of the gets a breakthrough it slows down the others. I don't think we're organized enough to do it that way. That approach is wasteful and slow for us. Each kind of energy that looks promising for awhile but later gets canceled, not only uses resources we could have put into something else, but also slows down all the others. Until one of them gets so much of a lead that the others all shut down.

The power sector is huge. There isn't really a magic button that solves this issue, because the scale is so damned big. Even if you found a green energy source that was just as efficient as fossil fuels, and worked in all the same ways with no additional downsides(unlikely at best), merely deploying it would take quite a long time. Still, we need to do something. We're gonna keep burning more and more energy, and even fairly hard-boiled climate skeptics would, I hope, accept that at some very large carbon emission level, we're going to start seeing undesirable side effects. How much bad effects at what level? Meh. Somewhat debatable, and there's no point getting bogged down in that. Right now, we still want to effectively say yes to all the energy generation sources we can.


Energy conservation would be a good thing, we just don't like it. We could scale back our commercial aircraft by 99% or so. We mostly can't afford it anyway.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:42 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Likewise, solar works decently if you're, say, living in the arizona desert. Most of them are only suitable to certain areas...but if you're in an area where it's doable inexpensively, embrace it.


Sure, it's fine. But the economic model fails. You have to buy your solar stuff first, and then it pays off over years. If the price of energy goes down, you're stuck with your losing investment. It has to get pretty cheap before it can compete with a model where you build a cheap power plant and then you pay for your fuel as fast as you sell the power. It does keep getting cheaper though. No telling where the limit will be.


Up front investments are also necessary for nuke plants in spades...not seeing a huge difference here. At least solar can be broken into more discrete chunks.

It's mostly a straight cost-effectiveness comparison between them, which will be very location specific.

Decentralization is not entirely a downside, either. Lack of bottlenecks is actually a good thing. We want a nice, resilient energy supply. If it makes some random dude a lot of money is mostly irrelevant from my perspective, but I figure people will likely figure out how to get rich off any system that gets used in some way.


If people who are already rich can't make a lot of money by investing in it, then it has to get done with minimal capital. It will be competing against whatever they do invest in, and they will lobby for subsidies for their stuff and punitive taxes on yours. Decentralized energy mostly won't happen. I consider not happening a great big downside.


Oh, they'll lobby for subsidies and taxes, certainly. That should not be the deciding factor on what we do, though. In fact, we should avoid the hell out of picking winners in the energy sector based on such. That said, subsidies have already been given to solar, etc companies. Therefore, your initial assumption that they can't make money off it is questionable.

Problem with massive nuke construction is...not only is nuclear plant construction slow, it's fairly inflexible. There's not a lot of places on earth where reactor vessels are made, for instance.


Now you are not thinking expansively. Once we decide to go ahead, we can build one full-scale plant in 3 years. Using what we learn from that, we can build four full-scale plants in 2 years. The people who trained on the first plant can run the others. We can build 16 plants in another 2 years, 64 plants in 2 years more, etc. Nuclear power plant construction is slow and inflexible because that's all we've wanted before. Once we decide to mass-produce them, we'll do it fast.


Where are these numbers from? Frankly, they look invented.

Given the importance of safety(something we've generally done well on with nukes), you really don't want to throw caution to the wind here, but it'll take decades to seriously ramp up production to build thousands of fission plants.


Yes. If we wind up making just twice as many each cycle, and if Murphy's law brings the cycle time down to 4 years instead of 2, then it's 20 years to reach 63 plants and 40 years to reach 2047 of them. We'd need to go a bit faster than that.


That's an exponential rate. Do you have any justification for assuming that, or for your 4 year build time? Because those certainly don't match historical times.

We'll probably need to do that AND pursue green energy AND keep harvesting at least sizable amounts of fossil fuels for quite some time.


Well, you notice that oil prices swing up and down, and each time they swing down investors cancel various energy projects that look expensive. If we try everything, then each time one of the gets a breakthrough it slows down the others. I don't think we're organized enough to do it that way. That approach is wasteful and slow for us. Each kind of energy that looks promising for awhile but later gets canceled, not only uses resources we could have put into something else, but also slows down all the others. Until one of them gets so much of a lead that the others all shut down.


Some research paths are also just dead ends. Nature of the game. Can't really tell which is which until you get there, either, so pouring all your resources into something that's a dead end is extremely likely if you focus in on one thing only. And, even if you DO focus on one thing only, you're now extremely limited by that one thing's weaknesses.

Wind, solar, nuclear, etc...they all have different weaknesses. By embracing multiple paths, each method covers for weaknesses of the others. You can use what's best for any given area, and have a much better overall efficiency. Oh, it may take a little bit longer to learn how to do it right instead of focusing on one thing only, but it's a faster path to the maximum efficiency we're capable of with modern tech.

Energy conservation would be a good thing, we just don't like it. We could scale back our commercial aircraft by 99% or so. We mostly can't afford it anyway.


We *could*, but it would mean abandoning desirable stuff. It's a lowering of demand. Humans are really bad at that.

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby leady » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:55 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:A question for those more experienced in medicine, statistics, biology and anthropology - has this been constant throuought history? My Gut feeling says improves standard of living and medicine should mean if anything the proportion of people who cannot work has gone down not up.

If so, how has the human race survived? Are there any other animals where 1/5th of the value-securing population cannot perform useful labour? How does a band of 100 hunter gatherers survive when 20 of them are incapable of securing their own food?

Is the modern environment so incredibly bad for humans that were actually worse off? I've read a piece by Jared Diamond on the shift from predation to agriculture that argues that, but seriously, my mind is boggling.
.


Just to pretend this is stil vaguely on topic, my favourite "joke" right wing statement is "whats a good way to reduce the number of depressed people? Hunger". Its both simultaneously evil and true - instances of depression are next to zero in subsistance cultures from what I've read in the past, i.e. necessity prevents its development

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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:40 pm UTC

Energy acquisition happens in a vacuum and as such there's no reason to take into account the other things we get along with that energy.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby J Thomas » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Likewise, solar works decently if you're, say, living in the arizona desert. Most of them are only suitable to certain areas...but if you're in an area where it's doable inexpensively, embrace it.


Sure, it's fine. But the economic model fails. You have to buy your solar stuff first, and then it pays off over years. If the price of energy goes down, you're stuck with your losing investment. It has to get pretty cheap before it can compete with a model where you build a cheap power plant and then you pay for your fuel as fast as you sell the power. It does keep getting cheaper though. No telling where the limit will be.


Up front investments are also necessary for nuke plants in spades...not seeing a huge difference here. At least solar can be broken into more discrete chunks.


I have the strong impression that a much bigger chunk of the costs for solar are upfront costs, while nuclear power has large continuing costs -- which are not always easy to predict ahead of time. If they cost about the same per mWh but one has bigger costs upfront, that's bad.

Decentralization is not entirely a downside, either. Lack of bottlenecks is actually a good thing. We want a nice, resilient energy supply. If it makes some random dude a lot of money is mostly irrelevant from my perspective, but I figure people will likely figure out how to get rich off any system that gets used in some way.


If people who are already rich can't make a lot of money by investing in it, then it has to get done with minimal capital. It will be competing against whatever they do invest in, and they will lobby for subsidies for their stuff and punitive taxes on yours. Decentralized energy mostly won't happen. I consider not happening a great big downside.


Oh, they'll lobby for subsidies and taxes, certainly. That should not be the deciding factor on what we do, though. In fact, we should avoid the hell out of picking winners in the energy sector based on such. That said, subsidies have already been given to solar, etc companies. Therefore, your initial assumption that they can't make money off it is questionable.


I agree that we shouldn't do it that way. I hope you're right that we won't do it that way.

Problem with massive nuke construction is...not only is nuclear plant construction slow, it's fairly inflexible. There's not a lot of places on earth where reactor vessels are made, for instance.


Now you are not thinking expansively. Once we decide to go ahead, we can build one full-scale plant in 3 years. Using what we learn from that, we can build four full-scale plants in 2 years. The people who trained on the first plant can run the others. We can build 16 plants in another 2 years, 64 plants in 2 years more, etc. Nuclear power plant construction is slow and inflexible because that's all we've wanted before. Once we decide to mass-produce them, we'll do it fast.


Where are these numbers from? Frankly, they look invented.


Of course they're invented. How could they not be? Where will we get good estimates about how we will build thousands of nuclear plants quickly?

Given the importance of safety(something we've generally done well on with nukes), you really don't want to throw caution to the wind here, but it'll take decades to seriously ramp up production to build thousands of fission plants.


Yes. If we wind up making just twice as many each cycle, and if Murphy's law brings the cycle time down to 4 years instead of 2, then it's 20 years to reach 63 plants and 40 years to reach 2047 of them. We'd need to go a bit faster than that.


That's an exponential rate. Do you have any justification for assuming that, or for your 4 year build time? Because those certainly don't match historical times.


No, they don't. We used to make nuclear plants like we made skyscrapers or capital Navy ships. Each its own project with its own schedule delays and cost overruns. Each with its own safety issues.

If we want to build thousands of nuclear power plants in a reasonable time, like 20 yeras, we had better build them quickly. We had better ramp up production because otherwise we'll have a whole lot of inexperienced people doing the work. Say we made them all at the same time, a giant crash project, and when they were ready then we advertise for nuclear power plant operators with 2 years experience....

If we can quadruple the number of new plants each cycle, then each building crew can have at least 1/4 that are veterans of a previous build. And the operating crew for the new plant can have 1/5 that operated a previous plant. If it's only double then half the new building crew can be veterans and 1/3 of the operating crew.

If we need a lot of power plants in only a few decades, how else can we do it?

We'll probably need to do that AND pursue green energy AND keep harvesting at least sizable amounts of fossil fuels for quite some time.


Well, you notice that oil prices swing up and down, and each time they swing down investors cancel various energy projects that look expensive. If we try everything, then each time one of the gets a breakthrough it slows down the others. I don't think we're organized enough to do it that way. That approach is wasteful and slow for us. Each kind of energy that looks promising for awhile but later gets canceled, not only uses resources we could have put into something else, but also slows down all the others. Until one of them gets so much of a lead that the others all shut down.


Some research paths are also just dead ends. Nature of the game.


Yes. I have the impression that promising projects get shut down when oil prices drop. It shouldn't be that way. Investors should go for the long haul, and think about predicted prices when they're ready to go into production and not prices now. I don't know that they are making this mistake, I got it from the media. I don't know how I could find out better. If I talked to people whose projects were shut down, they might have been too close to their work to see that it was dead ends.

Can't really tell which is which until you get there, either, so pouring all your resources into something that's a dead end is extremely likely if you focus in on one thing only. And, even if you DO focus on one thing only, you're now extremely limited by that one thing's weaknesses.

Wind, solar, nuclear, etc...they all have different weaknesses. By embracing multiple paths, each method covers for weaknesses of the others. You can use what's best for any given area, and have a much better overall efficiency. Oh, it may take a little bit longer to learn how to do it right instead of focusing on one thing only, but it's a faster path to the maximum efficiency we're capable of with modern tech.


I agree. I'd prefer that we do it your way. I don't expect it, but I think it would be better.

Energy conservation would be a good thing, we just don't like it. We could scale back our commercial aircraft by 99% or so. We mostly can't afford it anyway.


We *could*, but it would mean abandoning desirable stuff. It's a lowering of demand. Humans are really bad at that.


Yes. We manage it during serious wars. Americans would put up with all sorts of lowered demand if we were at war with China. Or Russia. Or both. Maybe sometimes one and sometimes the other.
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Re: Nearly 5% of the US population is on disability

Postby Heisenberg » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:22 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:If so, how has the human race survived? Are there any other animals where 1/5th of the value-securing population cannot perform useful labour? How does a band of 100 hunter gatherers survive when 20 of them are incapable of securing their own food?

The non-producers died, and did not drain the resources of the community.

You could argue that modern medicine has actually increased the percentage of living disabled people by keeping people with serious injuries, birth defects, and mental health problems alive longer.


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