The following post was sent by ECW reader Christopher Dennis as a comment on an earlier thread titled ‘The Structural Impacts of LENR‘, and I felt this would be a good starting point for a new thread.
I think the thread started by Oaklandthinktank — while very insightful about many of the possible scenarios surrounding the future of LENR, and very useful in generating discussion surrounding this — is too conservative on the dramatic possibilities of LENR, particularly in its speed of deployment and the compounding effects of its destabilising influence.
There is a tradition or tendency with destabilizing technologies to make predictions that are far too conservative — the idea that 640 K memory would be enough memory for anybody is only one example that comes to mind. While our current predictions may make sense within the paradigms that we function within at this point in time, these paradigms are pretty change , especially in conjunction with the destabilizing influence of LENR.
Paradigm shifts on several levels will have a compounding effect that will make it further difficult to predict any outcome. Furthermore, the speed at which these paradigm shifts occur currently is increasing, and has an exponential trend, so that it may be the case that full shifts are happening without us even being aware of them. With that being said, I feel we can make some projections that fall reasonably in-line with that which LENR will create.
It seems Oaklandthinktank’s this thread has probably grossly underestimated the gravity and quick impact that LENR will have on our current energy situation — particularly pricing. The tendency to be conservative both these projections, as mentioned above, is habitual and instinctive , but is shown to be incorrect almost across the board. We will not have to wait 10 to 15 years, for example, for all transport sectors to be radically modified by the deployment of LENR. Almost every argument on this forum that supports a drawn-out effect of LENR on the transport industry, as opposed to an immediate effect, makes the claim that it’ll take many years to switch to electric motors in all sectors. The presumption that we need to alter any existing craft at this point completely ignores the possibility of substituting fossil fuel with ELECTRICALLY GENERATED SYNTHETIC FUELS that will be far far cheaper with the advent of LENR.
We can all buy electric cars in the future, but as soon as LENR is deployed, the companies that make synthetic gasoline, diesel, and other fuels will be able to immediately produce these items at a far, far cheaper price than their fossil fuel analogues, making them available to pump into EXISTING vehicles. All existing refueling infrastructure (with the exemption of key input components) could remain the same. The local gas station can pump electrically-sourced gasoline into your current vehicle. Diesel trucks that form the backbone of transport of manufactured goods in North America could be refueled with existing diesel infrastructure , only with electrically synthesized diesel in the place of its regular form.
The entire shipping industry of the planet would make use of electrically synthesized fuels at a price far, far below what is currently being paid. The collective savings would not simply disappear as corporate profits – although certainly corporate profits would be increased — this money saved on fuel will be available to spend on all other areas of the economy by companies AND the consumer, where it was previously not available. This will be a BOON to all of these other parts of the economy — and will create more jobs – and will lead to greater productivity, innovation compounding towards higher economic growth, and effectively making the collective FAR richer than before.
There’s a reason why nearly no one employed in North America does the hard labor that their great-grandparents did. Most of the employed are reasonably fed, clothed, have some form of medical care, have access to basic transport ation, operate within a reasonably-conditioned temperature environment and have many other basic necessities that they did not produce themselved, but often exchange some form of service for these items that contains within it labor that is vastly less than the amount of “work” performed to create all these necessities (our great-grandparents and particularly a great-great grandparents were responsible for performing the labor to actually create many, if not most of these necessities for themselves, and thereby had far less of these necessities, with a greater amount of work invested to acquire them).
Right now the average Western desk-job worker is clothed, fed, heated, cooled and transported about, without their chopping any wood for heating or cooking, or tilling the land/growing food, or sewing/producing their own clothes (or having a family member sew them / produce them ), etc. The desk-worker gets all of the benefits of modern living via performing a service that is abstract ( for example, a computer programmer deals strictly in abstract, symbolic figures that have nothing to do directly with producing by hand all the goods and services that the computer programmer consumes). This kind of existence is made possible only by an increasing array of technologically advancing machines, all powered by cheap energy to do the ‘heavy lifting’. The advent of LENR will exponentially accelerate this process.
At the time of the American Revolution, 95% of American labor was in agriculture. As a previous post on this forum pointed out, though many dreaded the loss of employment due to the industrialization of the farm process, these workers were freed up to perform more advanced tasks – for example, working on the farm machines that had taken over their previous jobs – to the effect of eventually exploding the economy. This trend will not sputter with LENR , but will be sped up.
LENR will vastly increase our ability to “saddle” our machines with our increasing demands , further freeing us up in ways we can’t now understand, to do things we haven’t yet dreamt of. The massive effect that LENR deployment will have on world energy prices is only one effect that has been underestimated. Because of compounding effects , making any predictions about LENR is difficult , but I believe it is the conservative ones that will prove to be the most inaccurate – this being something we have seen before with other destabilizing technologies.