Life After Energy: What if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow?

There is an anti-human TV program on the History Channel called Life After People, which portrays the aftermath of the imaginary scenario where all people on Earth suddenly vanished in a rapture-like event tomorrow.

Life_after_people

I’ve often seen it flipping channels, and it has always been my impression that it represents the ultimate utopian vision of radical environmentalists, who see people as a scourge on the planet, sort of a Fear and self loathing in Las Vegas applied to Gaia.

I get word from Dr. David Deming, Geologist at the University of Oklahoma, of an essay he has composed asking about what would happen to people if fossil fuel based energy disappeared tomorrow. Deming asks this simple question: What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want?

It is an eye opener for those that really don’t think much about where the energy they use daily comes from. I’ve excerpted parts of it below, and I have a few observations of my own that follow. 

What If Atlas Shrugged?

by David Deming

Atlas Shrugged is the title of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel in which the world grinds to a halt after the productive segment of society goes on strike. Tired of being demonized and exploited, the world’s innovators and entrepreneurs simply walk away.

What would happen to the US today if the fossil fuel industry went on a strike of indefinite duration? What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want?

Within 24 hours there would be long lines at service stations as people sought to purchase remaining stocks of gasoline. The same people who denounce oil companies would be desperately scrounging the last drops of available fuel for their SUVs. By the third day, all the gasoline would be gone.

With no diesel fuel, the trucking industry would grind to a halt. Almost all retail goods in the US are delivered by trucks. Grocery shelves would begin to empty. Food production at the most basic levels would also stop.

With no trains or trucks running there would be no way to deliver either raw materials or finished products. All industrial production and manufacturing would stop. Mass layoffs would ensue. At this point, it would hardly matter. With virtually all transportation systems out, the only people who could work would be those who owned horses or were capable of walking to their places of employment.

Owners of electric cars might smirk at first, but would soon be forced to the unpleasant reality that the vehicle they thought was “emission free” runs on coal. Forty-two percent of electric power in the US is produced by burning coal.

us_elect_generation-large

With natural gas also out of the picture, we would lose another 25 percent. The environmentalist’s favorite power sources, wind and solar, could not fill the gap. Wind power currently generates about 3 percent of our electricity and solar power accounts for a scant 0.04 percent. The only reliable power sources left would be hydroelectric and nuclear. But together these two sources could only power the grid at 27 percent of its normal capacity. With two-thirds of the electric power gone, the grid would shut down entirely.

Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)

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Here are a few observations of my own about what would happen if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow:

  • After elevated tanks of municipal water systems were depleted of drinking water in a few days, there would be no more water supply. This would force people to start looking for alternate sources, and we’d be back to a time when water treatment was unknown. Disease and death would follow for many as tainted water spreads disease. People with water wells would have to tear out electric pumps and install hand pumps or windmills to get water.
  • Related to the first point, toilets would be useless without water to flush them. Fecal matter disposal becomes an issue as gravity fed sewage systems eventually clog, and eventually fecal matter will end up in streams and rivers contributing to the spread of diseases much like the Great Stink in old London.
  • Garbage collection becomes a thing of the past. Garbage will be piled high in the streets.
  • People that have grid tied solar power systems would be no better off than their neighbors, because the DC to AC inverters require an AC power grid presence signal. Otherwise they shut off for safety. Some people with electrical skills might be able to rewire them, but then they’d only have electricity during daytime.
  • People who may have working solar energy might be targeted by the have-nots. They might wish they had paid attention to the Second Amendment to protect their home based energy source. People who still have gasoline in their cars trying to escape cities might find themselves victims of mob attacks as the have-nots look for the last remaining bits of energy. Mad-Max world ensues.
  • Windmill farms (that also need grid presence to operate) will stand as icons of folly, unusable, and cursed by the populace since they can’t make use of them. Eventually they’ll all look like these wind farms or fall down.
  • Radical climatologists like Mike Mann and James Hansen will no longer be able to communicate their apocalyptic visions of the future to us, since there will be no Internet or radio/TV networks or newspapers printed to disseminate their views.
  • Along the same lines, thankfully, we’d never see another episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.
  • Climate modelers like Kevin Trenberth would never be able to run another computer model telling us how hot our future apocalypse might be, since his NCAR computer is run by Wyoming coal. Likewise, NOAA’s Gaea supercomputer will be DOA since it can’t run on recycled vegetable oil.
  • Al Gore will no longer be able to jet around the world to tell us how the world will end soon if we don’t pay attention to his new book about The Future. He’ll be reduced to holing up in one of his many properties and hoping the Mad-Maxers don’t come for his solar panels.
  • Congress would be reduced to debating in hot, sweaty, non air-conditioned rooms, just like the founders of our country did at the first Continental Congress and as they did in the summer of 1988, when Dr. James Hansen and his sponsor, Senator Tim Wirth, turned off the A/C in the hearing room for effect while they sold the idea of global warming to the Senators.
  • Without air conditioning, city dwellers would truly experience the Urban Heat Island effect in the summer, that is when they weren’t scrounging for food and water, and fighting off the Mad-Maxer gangs who would take anything they could from them, including their life.
  • Wood burning to stay warm during the winter becomes all the rage again. Smoke pollution returns to cities, especially in winter.
  • Real climate refugees start streaming south from high latitude countries as people run out of fuel. Many towns in Alaska and Siberia that survive only because of regular supplies of heating oil and gasoline would be abandoned.
  • Global warming, environmentalism, politics;  all would be a thing of the past, since survival trumps everything.
  • Paul Ehrlich wanders the streets near Stanford, dressed in rags shouting at people “I was right! I was right!

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So which is the worse future, a slightly warmer one with fossil fuels or one without them?

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steveta_uk

Not sure about the garbage accumulation in the streets – empty shops means no source for the discarded packaging, and food waste will have become a thing of the past.
Otherwise, looks about right ;(
REPLY: It would accumulate for about two weeks, and then it would start to disappear slowly as it was scrounged. – Anthony

Pull My Finger

And the population will need to be reduced by at least 6 billion since the end of globalization, even regionalization, will result in mass starvation in all but the most fertile areas which will of couse be assaulted by starving hoardes for years or decades until only the strongest survive. Darwin is great, all hail Darwin!

Pull My Finger

Honestly the abject stupidity of the green weenies just defies all reason, the sad part is the ignorant masses believe it all. Now The Weather Channel has been totally and fully conquered so it’s 2 parts warmista propoganda and 1 part 24 hour Today Show.

I would give it a try: California, for example.

Somehow evolution, survival of the fittest and the most adaptable, doesn’t apply to humans. Some actually express this view. David Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service said,
“Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”
With this lack of knowledge he is lucky he has a government job.
This quote is part of an essay I wrote a couple of years ago on the thinking behind the bumper sticker, “Save the Planet, Kill yourself.” Whoever practices this ensures that natural selection works. It would be the same natural selection if the killer virus Prince Philip wants to return as in order to reduce population in his next incarnation killed Royalty first.
http://drtimball.com/2011/antihuman/

PaulH

Things would get very bad at the local hospital and cancer treatment centre.

John Woolley

I think you’re being too negative about “Life After People”. It tends to explore questions like how long buildings would go on standing without anyone maintaining them, what animals might thrive in abandoned (and decaying) cities, and so on. It’s not anti-human, just interested in what things might be like without humans.

Gail Combs

And the survival networks who have been planning for just such a possibility laugh their heads of as they sing ♬ “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” ♬

Brian D

Could you imagine the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of nicotine, caffeine, narcotics, etc. We are a totally drugged up society, prescription or not.

ConfusedPhoton

Another form of Dante’s Inferno – these religious fundamentalists just love to tell us about our eternal damnation. Get behind me Lucifer!
I notice with all the abhorrence of things human, they do not seem to want kill themselves as an act of faith. Instead they just bore us to death.

Pathway

A green utopia.

BobW in NC

I think about the megacities—New York City, for example, and the horror that would ensue there. The deaths would be beyond description from lack of food, water, and mob violence. Horrible.

Mark Bofill

My first thought was ‘what a shame that the author obscured the issue by making it tomorrow’. Off the cuff, it seemed to me that lack of preparation could be blamed for the ensuing problems and that the argument could be dismissed on that basis.
After giving the matter a little more thought though, I don’t think having planning and preparation would change much of the result in the end. Is it even possible that the energy produced by fossil fuels could be replaced by wind and solar by ANY means today? I doubt it. To be fair, a combination of nuclear and natural gas ~might~ conceivably let humanity off the hook, but somehow I don’t think this is what the more rabid enviromentalists have in mind. But to get back to the point, I think having a planning and preparation interval would only draw the agony out with the same end result.

Gail Combs

Anthony, you should also read David Deming’s Global Warming Is a Fraud

…..Why do people think the planet is warming? One reason is that the temperature data from weather stations appear to be hopelessly contaminated by urban heat effects. A survey of the 1221 temperature stations in the US by meteorologist Anthony Watts and his colleagues is now more than 80 percent complete…..

Brian R

“Radical climatologists like Mike Mann and James Hansen will no longer be able to communicate their apocalyptic visions of the future to us, since there will be no Internet or radio/TV networks or newspapers printed to disseminate their views.”
So it really would be utopia then.

Anthony, this piece needs to be made into a movie for the whole country to see. It would be something along the lines of the History Channel piece. If I was rich enough, I would fund this movie project in a minute and do my best to get it distributed in movie theaters around this country and in Engish-speaking countries around the world. With the possible exception of Fox, we probably couldn’t get anybody in the leftwing broadcast media to show it on television.
The result of such a successful effort would be veeery interesting now wouldn’t it?
Where is Bill Gates when we need him?

With our almost total depandance on all things electronic a more likely scenario is the complete stoppage of power due to a carrington event or more likely a cyber attack.
The end results would be as described in the article
Tonyb

Nuclear would have to shut down as well – since their backup systems all run on Fossil Fuels. That would leave just the few Hydro plants, and the Solar and Wind – which would soon break down due to lack of spare parts (since there would be no transportation).

Bryan A

It would be a good thing for those in the northerm climate zones to relocate to the more southerly zones. As the Carbon is cycled out of the atmosphere, the temperatures would drop bringing longer and colder winters to the northern latitudes and eventually bring about the massive reglaciation of northern territories

john robertson

This is an experiment I do not want to share in.
How about we give the eco-…. a chance to experience their utopia with out annoying the rest of us.
As hydrocarbon based energy is evil, all oil based goods must go and there are too many people in their world, let them move to a warming paradise in the Canadian High Arctic.
Here free from their deniers and sceptical people, they can practise what they preach.
Save the polar bears indeed.I would even donate for one way travel on the faithfuls part.

Gail Combs

What is really really scary is the commitment of politicians in the EU to the 80% reduction of CO2 by 2050 and the commitment of the US congress to 25% RENEWABLE by 2025, a short 12 years away. The Eco-loons have zero idea of what that actually means. With 10% or more of the coal capacity closing we in the USA are going to be getting a taste of what Dr. Deming is talking about sooner than we think.
“Smart Grid” information here

Folk out in the country might barely get by, but I fear folk from the city would come out and there would be a lot of shooting. It really is an ugly thing to imagine.
Eventually we might get back to former ways, with a greatly reduced population. However those people would be busy trying to get where we are now, using science to develop Thorium Reactors, and to re-create the surplus of energy that currently allows us to avoid so much suffering.
What I am trying to understand is the psychological roots that makes some who call themselves “environmentalists” (though I have other, impolite words for them,) hate humanity so much.
Personally I find humanity sometimes annoying, but also charming; sometimes ugly, but also beautiful; sometimes selfish, but other times inspiringly unselfish; sometimes sinners, but sometimes saints, and always, always full of surprises.

Joel Upchurch

In reality fossil fuels are finite resources and unless we plan a transition to nuclear power we are going to have the life after energy without the environmentalist interference. Of course many environmentalists are also oppose to nuclear power and apparently think our energy needs are going to solved by magic.

Dan Fundo

There was a good book along these lines a few years ago call “One Second After”. I forget the arthor. The story told of what happened after all the electrical power was cut by a nuclear EMP.

He implies, but doesn’t state what should be obvious – the world would be looking at a 90% population die-off in the first 2 or 3 years, and in large urban areas, for a while, human flesh will be the most commonly consumed food product, after all of the animals within reach are gone.
But the actual disappearance of fossil fuels is fantasy; the only real threat is some government that sought to deny their use. The consequences of an attempt at this are also predictable; since the costs are so high, any government or society which sought to do this would collapse as soon as they started to be felt, and be replaced by some type of authoritarian regime which wouldn’t have any qualms about imprisoning or executing any who protest it’s energy (and other) policies. For a current example, look no further than China, or Putin’s Russia. I’d like to see any of the current enviro-activists try to go to either of those places and try to launch a protest against their environmental policies. Well, that’s why you don’t see anyone even try.

ShrNfr

“People that have grid tied solar power systems would be no better off than their neighbors, because the DC to AC inverters require an AC power grid presence signal. Otherwise they shut off for safety. Some people with electrical skills might be able to rewire them, but then they’d only have electricity during daytime.” – This is untrue for the system I have. The Outback inverters do not sell into a non-existent grid, but they will continue to put out AC on independent side of the inverter. They generate their own sine wave. They also require a battery bank to run on no matter what. since they have to make sure that the IEEE spec for selling into the grid is met. In my case, it is 100 KHW deep of lead acid cells. That gets me through a day or three with no input from the panels or the grid. Not at all cheap, but the reason the system is there is not to play how green is my outlet, it is to make it through an extended outage in NE from an ice or snow storm.

Mark Bofill

Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)
—————————-
Anthony, did you put this up at this time in order to tweak Lewandowsky’s nose? I only ask because some might say there’s some substantial nefarious ideation going on at the hosting website. Naturally, I’m enjoying the heck out of reading there. :p

R2Dtoo

This is the most powerful message we have to counter the alarmist messages that connect with the sheeple. It would be nice if the energy companies could selectively cut the power to the MSM, Washington and Boulder. I’m a bit surprised that the gas lines that formed so quickly after Sandy didn’t sink in to the rest of the U.S. population. I really wouldn’t mind a few days of shutdown (summer only please- I live in Manitoba) just to let the people know the seriousness of the situation. This wouldn’t be anymore an example of civil disobedience than occupy wall street, but it would really make the folks think, and would provide a forum for getting out the word. Maybe all the coal generating plants could be shut down for “maintenance” at the same time.

albertalad

I do pity the city folks. They lack survival skills most of us in the north still practice on a daily basis. We still know how to grow food and still use wood. We have the knowledge to hunt and fish and manage herds. The barter system would return. Then again we do have oil sands beneath our feet, hundreds of gas wells in our region. Most shut down because of low gas prices. The big problem being out here in fly over land are where all the resources are from food to every other product. City folks? God help them.

Big D in TX

steveta_uk says:
February 7, 2013 at 9:27 am
*********************************************
In any major city there is an enormous volume of trash produced every day. Halt the pickup suddenly, and all that waste will just lie around, regardless of whether the source to add to it dries up.
The only people not negatively affected by all this? The subsistence farmer, who has been driven into near-nonexistence in civilized nations.
Here’s an interesting case study on abandoning the modern world:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/For-40-Years-This-Russian-Family-Was-Cut-Off-From-Human-Contact-Unaware-of-World-War-II-188843001.html

Things would be impossible even if electric power was not affected. .

Tom O

A couple of thoughts – interestingly enough, those that will put a bumper sticker that says “Save the planet, kill yourself” ought to lead by example instead of expecting others to do so.
Regarding a program such as “LIfe after People,” I can only say this – exactly who cares what life after people would be like? Really. About as senseless an idea to share with your fellow man as the above bumper sticker, unless you intend to follow its lead.
As for a garbage in the streets – there would be no food scraps to speak of and anything that would or could burn would be scavanged, but who’s going to bother to pick up the styrofoam and tin cans that can’t be used for any purpose what so ever? You are right – there WILL be garbage in the street, it just won’t be organic.

Jon

In best case cenario the answer is global socialism?

Tom E.

The thing that really gets me, is that the technology exists to take big leaps towards their “stated goals” of reduced dependency on fossil fuels and reduced pollution/land fills.
If all the money being wasted on wind and solar (which have huge foot prints BTW) was put into other nuclear technologies, we could reprocess the hottest of the waste we are stock piling, and use significantly safer reactors such as thorium.
We could also use technologies such as Thermal-depolymerization to sterilize and turn waste into usable products.
If we where to develop significant power generating capabilities with safe Thorium power plants, and use GE’s water desalinization/purification technologies with off peak power production, we could provide significant quantities of irrigation and drinking water for areas of Texas/New Mexico and California that are set to suffer from serious water shortages in the next decade or so as aquifers dry up.
But yet, it seems like no one in North America is even discussing these solutions, let alone working towards them. Now I know there is some work into Thorium reactors, but not nearly enough, in my almost educated opinion.

Gail Combs

One comment I have not seen yet and one that is a very real possibility is cannibalism in the cities.
The green idiots who think they are going to leave the cities and “live off the land” in the farming areas are going to be in for a real shot shock. However most of the inner city dwellers are scared to death of nature and will stay put preying off each other. For those who do venture out of the cities, well the people in my neck of the woods are armed to the teeth and know how to reload shells, make gun powder and know their land.
Supposedly the army/FEMA is to confiscate everything and redistribute ( SEE: Executive Order 10998 ) but that will fall apart rather quickly as fuel runs out. Instead you will see armed camps building up around farming communities and a type of feudalism evolving.
With luck the idiotic FEMA bureaucrats will not make it completely impossible for the people with know how to survive or doing something really suicidal like killing and eating all the breeding stock and horses/mules. Then again rotten officers in Nam died from American bullets in the back….

James at 48

I was a teenage Earth Firster. Now with that off my chest …
Back in the day, in my minds eye (and shared with many brethren) was a pre-Christian, Celtic Antiquity notion. Tree hugging was literal given the Druid / Wiccan nature of the religious element. Of course, failing the tribal Euro utopia, I would have settled for the Dark Ages, the next best thing as the true Middle Age regime had yet to settle in. No Cathedrals yet at that point … 😉

We are the burners of fuel…. It made us…… As I suggest in ‘The Habit’. To attack this without a technology that can fully and affordable replace it is to attack ourselves. It’s not mankind that is a virus. It’s the critics of mankind that have become a virus upon mankind.

TheOldCrusader

“Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)”
I really think that was an uncalled for swipe – considering some of the sites you carry links to without such caveats.
I tend to think of you politically as a ‘standard’ contemporary conservative – i.e. a conservative that would be unrecognisable as such to say, Cal Coolidge.
But this sneer directed at a solid libertarian site – the readers of which are overwhelmingly on your side of the CAGW controversy – is really absurd.

OssQss

My apologies in advance! I could not stop my mouse (°¿°)
[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_xA41Qf8ac&feature=youtube_gdata_player ]

These people are not very aware.
I would fire up my MIT NANOR and continue to live happily ever after..

Jon

Move to Norway … Hydroelectric Power supplies almost 99% of their electrical energy! 🙂

I wanted to add these links to the above comment about the MIT/ JET energy NANOR…
http://www.iscmns.org/work10/HagelsteinPdemonstra.pdf
http://world.std.com/~mica/nanortechnology.htm

outtheback

This shows that we, as a species, must do everything possible for the planet to increase its average temp in order to keep the energy required for heating to a minimum (save the trees).
We can live without most material and transport available to us at the moment but cold is not one we can cope with on its own.
We could make rat and mice fur coats to stay warmer and that would assist in solving that rodent problem also, we all need to learn to play a wooden flute to catch them (no more steel available), which is more environmentally friendly then shooting the little critters and saves time not having to stitch up the bullet holes. (not to mention no more metal for either guns or bullets) Plus they are a good source of animal protein. Going to the butcher for a rat sirloin. We could GM them to make them bigger.
New and adapted industries will be created, life goes on, the species adapts albeit with a reduced gene pool.
In the mean time it is a timely reminder that we do need to improve the nuclear, thermal and hydro power generating capacities dramatically over the next 100 years (we may have learned by then that wind and solar are only suitable for hard to get to places with few people), lest there is more truth in above then wanted.

Neil Jordan

Energy that you can dig out of the ground with a shovel will come to the rescue. This morning’s Wall Street Journal carries an article about coal from the US being shipped to Europe where it competes with more expensive natural gas there:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323644904578271830563979920.html
BUSINESS
Updated February 6, 2013, 9:20 p.m. ET
U.S. Coal Finds Warm Embrace Overseas
By KEITH JOHNSON
NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—On 67 acres here along the James River, almost 800,000 tons of coal tower in two-story-high stacks, ready to go overseas. The shipping terminal is so busy that this past Christmas Day, workers volunteered for lucrative overtime to load a bulk carrier.
Coal-terminal operator Dominion Terminal Associates, owned by three big mining firms and one of the biggest coal exporters in the U.S., stands at the center of a surprising boom.
For all the troubles of the U.S. coal industry at home, its business with the rest of the world is brisk. Last year, the U.S. set a record for coal exports, with the final tally estimated to top 120 million tons, double what it exported as recently as 2009.
The boom isn’t about feeding the voracious appetites of China and India—not yet. Instead, American coal mined in the eastern U.S. and shipped overseas goes overwhelmingly to Europe, especially the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy.
The U.S. is sending coal to Newcastle, and other English cities where the lights go on thanks to power plants fired by the American imports. British coal consumption for electricity rose about 50% in the third quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, as power producers there found coal cheaper than natural gas.
“The gas plant has simply been pushed off the grid by coal plant [in Europe], and that’s most marked in the U.K.,” said Nigel Yaxley, the managing director of the Association of U.K. Coal Importers, a trade group.
[…]

Mark Bofill

Gail Combs says:
February 7, 2013 at 10:27 am
One comment I have not seen yet and one that is a very real possibility is cannibalism in the cities. …
—————————————————–
After reading the article I was tempted to comment on how zombies are almost icing on the cake in a zombie apocalypse and aren’t even a necessary ingredient, but then you come along and disabuse me… Ick! 🙂

oldfossil

Alternative energy: There is a carbon-neutral way to make methane gas, by recombining carbon dioxide and water. It’s called serpentization. The problem is the cost. It’s not economically competitive. But then again, if electricity and automotive fuel went up five times in price, the world’s economies would crash catastrophically. So Anthony, your forecast stays accurate.
Tim Ball, above, quotes doomsayer David Graber as saying:

Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we [humans] quit the contract and became a cancer.

A billion years ago, the most advanced form of life on earth was an amoeba swimming around in the sea.
In any event, of all the people-haters calling for drastic population reductions, I haven’t seen any offering to start the ball rolling by jumping off the Hollywood sign.

Richard111

Ah, well, might as well add my two cents. As food riots increase governments will impose martial law. Once all western nations are locked down the world government becomes fait acompli. It’s already waiting in the wings. Calls itself united nations.

Gail Combs

Brian D says:
February 7, 2013 at 9:47 am
Could you imagine the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of nicotine, caffeine, narcotics, etc. We are a totally drugged up society, prescription or not.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Not to worry, we have Mary Jane (a relative of hemp) and New Jersey Tea or Ceanothus americanus

Leaves of New Jersey Tea plants makes excellent tea, and were used as a substitute for black tea during the American Revolution. Prepare the thoroughly dried leaves as you would oriental tea. The taste and color is similar.

Unfortunately it has no caffeine but the roots contain a blood-clotting agent.

son of mulder

So should I become very overweight in advance so I could outlive thinner people or would that simply mean I would be eaten sooner?
Let’s play “Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?”
Far more fun than the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Doug Proctor

The programme is just a cool “what-if” that demonstrates our fingernail hold on this world. If anything, it says that within a couple of hundred years the world would be vibrant and full – even the nuclear plant meltdowns would be of no importance.
We do not build for even 15 years without constant maintenance. When you realise this, you have to realise that we can only build in the way we do to the extent that maintenance costs and efforts will eventually equal our disposable funds and energies for both maintenance and improvement.
In Alberta, Canada, about 25 years ago, a foolish Premier promised to pave all the secondary roads in Alberta (a project that was actually started in Saskatchewan). The deterioration of our roads, however, due to freeze-thaw cycles alone, are so high that the impossibliity of doing this without bankrupting the province(s) was clear from the git-go. (In Saskatchewan the trial roads were allowed to fall apart and then put back into dirt and gravel, with others allow to return to cart tracks.)
In science fiction the future is full of massive stone and steel buildings that are in use but never under maintenance. Like castles from the 1500s! Until we learn to create now for zero maintenance futures, we will be both limited in our future endeavours and strapped to the treadmill of repair and replacement. This is the falling down of the wind turbine business: the turbines die too soon, so that even at low rates of profitability, they are not sustainable over the long run. In Britain the government is buying out some windfarms: I suspect it is because there is no money other than government taxes to pay for upkeep and replacement, but the government doesn’t want these things standing broken, making their Green initiatives look foolish.
Our civilization does not build to last. That is one obvious point of the program. It also has mucho cool graphics of things like the Empire State Building crashing to the streets.