Mirco_Vogelgesang comments on Two critical Mega-trends that Effective Altruism has missed so far [Edited] - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 February 2018 06:52:09AM *  1 point [-]

Re: desertification, do you have thoughts on http://www.superchimney.org/ ? (Discussion)

Re: peak oil, my understanding is that sustainable sources of energy are now price-competitive with fossil fuels.

If you are concerned with peak oil, the solution is simple: buy & hoard oil now. This accomplishes a few things. First, it increases the price of oil near-term, which creates a financial incentive to move our infrastructure off oil. Second, if you like, you can personally prevent anyone from burning the oil (since you own it) and it won't release any carbon into the atmosphere. Third, if you choose, you can sell the oil later on (after oil prices have risen) in order to smooth the transition to a post-oil society. Fourth, if your projections are accurate, you will make a tidy profit doing this (which can then be applied to EA causes). To add leverage to this strategy, convince rich speculators that they will make money by buying & hoarding oil.

Comment author: Mirco_Vogelgesang 11 February 2018 12:28:26PM *  0 points [-]

Geoengineering and thermodynamics are outside my field of expertise, so I am not really qualified to make a judgement about this Chimney concept - to me it seems questionable whether such a system could actually facilitate that kind of energetic heat exchange without the air reaching a state of equilibrium inside.

Yes, renewables are a lot more competitive now, but the transition towards them remains too slow to feather off peak-oil. In addition, they can´t compete in every sector (such as transportation, which contributes considerably to both fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions).

Anyhow, hoarding oil sounds like an interesting way to drive up its price and hence create economic incentive to speed up this transition but at the same time demands a very close look at how the global energy system works. It is designed to cover demand with supply very closely, hence there is little infrastructure for long-time storage and reserves. Consequently, it would need to be created. It also means getting into the social systems and control regimes of the global energy sector. It seems like an interesting idea which will demand quite a bit of research to assess its feasibility but is designed for the scope of civil-society and pre-existing neoliberal order and hence not set too high of a hurdle to get behind.

Also, advocacy to increase carbon emission taxes and oil tax may be cause areas here.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 12 February 2018 06:44:12AM 0 points [-]

For what it's worth, I asked my brother (who has a physics degree) about the Superchimney site and he said he didn't think the analysis was that great.