Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is the #NBN bad for global warming?

Yesterday, I asked a leading question on Twitter about the #NBN and it's negative impact on #globalwarming.

I got a response. There is only so much you can say in 140 characters on the run.

Here is the stream and some notes I've added.

gnoll110 Given that high speed comms is one of the two drivers of globalisation. Is the #NBN, a bad move from a fighting global warming perspective.
djackmanson @gnoll110Absolutely not. The research into new energy production required to reduce global warming can only benefit from faster info tfr.
gnoll110 @djackmanson Miss my point. Localisation is a big factor in reducing fossil fuel use. High speed comm hinders localization.
gnoll110 @djackmanson #NBN is only a tool. Really depends how we use it. Helps R&D but also enabler for distributed manufacturing & outsourcing.
djackmanson @gnoll110 Not so much miss your point as disagree with its underlying philosophy. Don't think localism is the answer. Globalism...
djackmanson @gnoll110 ...with clean energy is what I prefer.
gnoll110 @djackmanson Think you're being techno-utopian. Costs of clean energy will drive re-localisation in part. Solution will have many parents.
gnoll110 @djackmanson In part, high speed comms got us from where we were in 1950 to here. Two edged sword, that one.
djackmanson @gnoll110 No good reason why cheap clean energy won't be distributed over wide-energy grids.
djackmanson @gnoll110 er, wide-*area* grids.
gnoll110 @djackmanson Clean energy will always be dearer. Fossil fuels are a once off free kick. Collecting/concentrating renewable means it's more $
gnoll110 @djackmanson It's a good place to go. But it can never be yesterday, just cleaned up.

I think the improvement to research from the #NBN would be marginal at best. Is this an opertunity cost question? You could do a lot with $40+ billion dollar if applied directly to the problem.

It isn't a philosophical question (localisation vs clean smart grids) for me. It's a question of available energy and what we choose to maintain. It's a continuum, we are replacing cheap energy with more expense energy. Some things won't be viable any more. This has hidden consequences. As something become unviable, other activities to produced inputs for it lose their economies of scale too (increasing unit cost), thus becoming less viable too. A downward spiral to a new status quo. How much we can reduce the reduction in energy yield per energy invested (money is only an easily handled proxy), the less we will have to give up in any new status quo.

I will retract my use of 'techno-utopian', that infers finding new tech that enables grow to go on regardless. It's not where Jack is really coming from. I do think changing the energy base of our society while maintaining the basically unchanged status quo where it is, is unrealistic.

Basically we differ on where we think the new status quo is likely to be. Preferences don't come into it. I would like to be wrong, I like my weekend trips interstate to #railscamp.

A link to One major influence on my thinking.