PowerSwitch Main Page
PowerSwitch
The UK's Peak Oil Discussion Forum & Community
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Sailing to Byzantium
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> Living in the Future
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:15 pm    Post subject: Sailing to Byzantium Reply with quote

I know that starting a new thread straight away is a sign of being a troll; I am so encouraged by your kind reception that I will to proceed with my pontifications.

No doubt there is little original here that has not been discussed many times before, but I hope you might find my particular twist entertaining. Smile

My idea is that, of course, the present order of things is, like, doomed and we must create a new one on the ruins or else mingle our bones with it.

The successor-civilisation I have named ?Solar Byzantium?: the reference is the Byzantine Empire with came after the Roman Empire and Classical Civilisation when they fell.

Its power-source will be renewable energy, mostly solar and wind, but some tidal and geothermal thrown in. It will be at a much smaller scale than the present civilisation. Some calculations done by the PO people in America came up with roughly 20% of what we have now; whether this is correct I have no idea but certainly this may change as RE technology improves over the long centuries and millennia we have yet to live on this earth.

Much of this power will go into running an electrically powered rail-net to keep communications going on land. Long distance haulage will go by train, short distance haulage by horse and cart.

On the sea, sailing-ships will make a comeback: we will take up from where the old clippers left off. Smile

Industrial production will be a shadow of what it is now, focusing on what is needed to maintain the system and a narrow range of sturdy, useful tools, products and devices.

Human and animal power will replace machines wherever possible. A small amount of bio-fuel will be produced to field a limited number of emergency, heavy-construction vehicles and a very modest propeller-driven air fleet for both military and commercial purposes.

Plastics will be endlessly recycled along with just about everything else. It will be frugal society and the rubbish-dumps of the twentieth century will be unearthed and scavenged for useful things.

In short society will resemble something like the turn of the 20th century. It will not be lavish, but it will be a lot better than the Middle Ages, in a state of equilibrium with nature and it have the capacity to endure for as long as the earth.

Economically the chief difference will be that 70-80% of the population will be engaged in food production, mostly permacultural. International trade will continue though at a reduced scale. Freight will be carried by tens of thousands of clippers instead of thousands of diesel-powered steel behemoths.

Socially and politically it will be controlled by a landed aristocracy and modest commercial class. Society will be relatively stable and unchanging. What it?s emotional and spiritual flavour will be I do not know. Christianity will certainly endure, being essentially a Roman Empire survivalist cult, but it may be joined by a form of Eco-Pagan Earth Worship. Cool

Culturally it will be torn, with part of us yearning hopelessly for the days that can never come again, the other indignantly rejecting the waste, immorality, cruelty and desolation of that era. As memory of it fades other dispensation may come. Cultural life will be more local, diverse and hence far richer than today. Smile

I hope you find this interesting and there is more I could add, or you could add for me. I pause for comment.
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1296
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some interesting points and some bits I don?t agree with Smile (but where would the fun be if we all agreed?)

Have you seen this thread?

http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=489

Smile
_________________
The only future we have is the one we make!

Technocracy:
http://en.technocracynet.eu

http://www.lulu.com/technocracy

http://www.technocracy.tk/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
MacG



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 2863
Location: Scandinavia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Extremely interesting comparison with Byzans. It was only the west-roman empire which fell in the 300's, the east-roman lived on in the form of Byzans, with Constantinople (todays Istanbul) as capital.

The interesting thing is that the byzantine rulers reorganised their society for simplicity in order to survive. Decreased bureocracy, decreased complexity and introducing land owning part-time army which fed itself.

Oh, according to the Cuban experience, there is only a need for some 20% of the workforce in agriculture.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well that's good news about the Cubans. We could all sit around all day rehersing plays and making hand-carved wooden computers.

I'll follow up those websites you provided and tell you what I think. Smile

The Roman/Byzantine thing goes deeper. It is my belief that the Roman Empire essentially perished as a result of an energy crisis.

Huge pandemics in the Second, Third and Sixth Centuries killed off between a third and a half of the workforce, and in a society that relied so heavily on human muscle this doomed the state to slow death.

Byzantium survived, as you say, by simplifying, and that is what we must do also. Very Happy
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
DamianB
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 553
Location: Dorset

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi macsporan.

I largely agree with you and think the big question is "Will we go nuclear?"' for a short while before ending up in a situation like you describe. My guess would be that it will take 50-100 years, what about you?
_________________
"If the complexity of our economies is impossible to sustain [with likely future oil supply], our best hope is to start to dismantle them before they collapse." George Monbiot
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Damien,

Thanks for your interest in and patience with a brash newcomer.


As regards nuclear: Ideally no, but we don't live in an ideal world.

We all know the drawbacks of nuclear power, so I won't insult anyone's intelligence by repeating them here.

So if a century or so of nuclear power is the price we must pay in order to sail to Byzantium, then so be it. Smile
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1296
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would hope not. I?m not anti-nuclear as such but to me it?s just another finite source of energy. It could be the case that we do not have enough time left so we should look at renewables instead.

Smile
_________________
The only future we have is the one we make!

Technocracy:
http://en.technocracynet.eu

http://www.lulu.com/technocracy

http://www.technocracy.tk/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
GD



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1099
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Sailing to Byzantium Reply with quote

macsporan wrote:
Plastics will be endlessly recycled along with just about everything else. It will be frugal society and the rubbish-dumps of the twentieth century will be unearthed and scavenged for useful things.


The 21st Century - A.K.A. "The scrapheap challenge".

Agree with much of what you say, apart from the landed aristocracy bit, but that's partly wishful thinking, partly my hope for reform during the time of coming change.

I'm also thinking that some of the technocracy ideas (even if it doesn't happen quite like Isenhand is talking about) could improve upon it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see that this nuclear thing is a major point of contention here.

I would, as I have said, like to go straight to renewables, but if this isn't possible, and there was not other choice, I would consent to it for the sake of a future sustainable world.

I realise that this would burden us with a huge quantity of hideous nuclear waste, but would it not be worse to have civilisation fall to pieces and all our painfully gathered knowledge lost?Sad

I am uneasy with nuclear, very uneasy. But if there is no other way... Confused
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1296
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

?No other way? is a key statement. We have renewables at the moment. The technology is there but need to be implemented. There is also plenty of room for improvements.

Smile
_________________
The only future we have is the one we make!

Technocracy:
http://en.technocracynet.eu

http://www.lulu.com/technocracy

http://www.technocracy.tk/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The creation of a new civilisation will require a massive effort, a mobilisation of effort in a collective cause we have not seen since the Second World War. We have a generation or two at the most to achieve it.

We must begin to use less fuel for frivilous self-indulgence and direct all our efforts to the manufacture of RE equipment and the creation of an electified rail network.

The way will be long and hard, but at the end we have a world that will last and a civilisation we can be proud of. Much we can achieve by individual and community endevour, but the power of the State will also play a crucial role.

Massive changes in mentality and values must proceed and inform changes in the way we organise ourselves and the purposes of our lives.

It is hard to imagine given the way we wallow now in short-sighted selfishness, but I am encouraged when I recall that every decent thing we've ever achieved began life as a hopelessly romantic, entirely impractical dream.

I am sure we can do this. We must.

Please, what is the state of wind and solar power in the UK? Are there plans in place for its expansion? If so, by how much and how quickly?
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beev



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 112
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wind is expanding. It is going slowly because it involves a lot of investment and people/companies don't want to find out in a few years they've wasted their money. Also there is resisance from people who don't like change or feel wind farms are ugly/noisy etc. See my recent post at www.ethicaladventures.org

As for solar, I quote from a press release by CENAMPS (Centre of Excellence for Nanotechnology, Micro and Photonic Systems):

Quote:
... the key to solving the world's major healthcare issues is to find ways of harnessing and distributing low cost energy more effectively.

Dr. Raymond Oliver, Science & Technology Advisor, Cenamps says, "... if we are able to significantly reduce the energy costs associated with producing clean water then we can improve sanitation and prevent the spread of many types of infectious diseases... Over the next 20 years, synergies amongst nanotechnologies, biosciences, informatics and cognosciences will drive improvements in the human condition, namely by impacting the availability, distribution and affordability of energy."

One of many examples he cites is the advancement in nano-enabled photo voltaic devices, which will make the process of harnessing solar energy - the earth's most abundant source of energy, more effective and affordable.


These nano solar pholtaics are strting to apper already, I believe. Price still quite high, but expect rapid drop reasonably soon.
_________________
www.ethicaladventures.org
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
macsporan



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first heard of nano-solar voltaics earlier in the year I was delighted.

Just how much more efficent are they?

Are they truly on sale in the UK?

What do they cost?
_________________
Child of the Enlightenment
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
isenhand



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 1296
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

macsporan wrote:
The creation of a new civilisation will require a massive effort, a mobilisation of effort in a collective cause we have not seen since the Second World War. We have a generation or two at the most to achieve it.


In a way yes, but I don?t think it has to be done in one or two generations. It could be done that way but another way would be to fall back to self-sufficient communities and then build up from a secure foundation. That could take much longer. But I have no idea how things will go.

macsporan wrote:

We must begin to use less fuel for frivilous self-indulgence and direct all our efforts to the manufacture of RE equipment and the creation of an electified rail network.


Yeap, that is one thing that needs to be done Smile

macsporan wrote:

The way will be long and hard, but at the end we have a world that will last and a civilisation we can be proud of.



I think that will be the case if we have a goal and we set out to achieve that.

macsporan wrote:

Much we can achieve by individual and community endevour, but the power of the State will also play a crucial role.


I would disagree with that. I can see that we can go beyond the idea of state and nations and just think of humans and the planet. We can achieve more as a multi-agent / holonic system without the need of a centralised government. Hmmm ? I think I need to write a lot more on this idea as well Smile

macsporan wrote:

Massive changes in mentality and values must proceed and inform changes in the way we organise ourselves and the purposes of our lives.


Such as thinking about non-centralised forms of government, going beyond the concept of nations and having a moneyless society? Very Happy

"For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions ... Now I feel quite differently. I think you've got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values." -- Martin Luther King, Jr

macsporan wrote:

It is hard to imagine given the way we wallow now in short-sighted selfishness, but I am encouraged when I recall that every decent thing we've ever achieved began life as a hopelessly romantic, entirely impractical dream.


Maybe Star Trek is a source of inspiration? Actually I take a lot of my ideas from science fiction. We all remember Dr. Who?

macsporan wrote:

I am sure we can do this. We must.


Must yes if we wish to survive but will we? I wish I could be as confident as you. Sad
_________________
The only future we have is the one we make!

Technocracy:
http://en.technocracynet.eu

http://www.lulu.com/technocracy

http://www.technocracy.tk/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
beev



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 112
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a real world full of real people who are really doing these things. Who is the "we" you keep referring to?
_________________
www.ethicaladventures.org
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    PowerSwitch Forum Index -> Living in the Future All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group