Episode 166: “Energy and Technology Reality” with Mark Mills
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Today’s episode is a treasure trove of important facts that we all should know about technology, society and the future. My guest is once again Mark Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute – who specializes on science, technology, energy, and future manufacturing technologies – and who has just published The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s Conventional wisdom as to how technology will change the future is wrong. And what is quite wrong is the view that the only technological revolution that matters will be found with renewable energy and electric cars. According to Mills, a convergence of technologies will instead drive a broad economic boom over the coming decade. It will come not from any single big invention, but from the confluence of radical advances in technology’s three domains: microprocessors, materials, and machines. At the center of all of this is the Cloud, history’s biggest infrastructure, which is itself based on the building blocks of next-generation microprocessors and artificial intelligence. For an optimistic take on what’s ahead, Mark dives into this, and more. But we also talk about some of the dangerous dead ends we face if we plow ahead blindly with a promised “green” energy future. As we all know, today’s elites are obsessed with climate change and replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind energy and other yet-to-be-invented technologies. But has anyone really thought this through? Wouldn’t now be a good time to assess what actually doing this would look like. Mark Mills has thought it through and has a stark message – an inconvenient truth: “There won’t be a world powered entirely by wind and solar or batteries. The reason I say that is because it is not possible. We don’t have the materials and we can’t afford it in either environmental or economic terms. ” To switch from hydrocarbons oil, gas, and coal to wind solar and batteries, the quantity of materials acquired to be extracted from the earth to produce the same unit of energy goes up a thousand percent – that’s ten times. Mark jokes that people believe in a new element “unobtainium” with perfect attributes: high energy density, it weighs nothing, costs nothing, and getting out of the earth is easy. “You have to mine stuff, build stuff. You always have to do that. Everything starts with mining.” Take electric cars. The battery in an electric car weighs about a thousand pounds. Most people don’t know that the thousand pound battery is replacing a 60 pound fuel tank. To make the thousand pound battery, to fabricate it, ou have to mine and dig up somewhere on the earth, 500,000 pounds of materials. Nickel copper, the manganese, lithium, carbonates, all of that. All of that requires mining equipment and mining machinery, almost all of which is oil fired. This is just one reality. Listen in as Mark also explains the true costs of solar and wind technologies. They are not what you thought. We need to be clear about what we’re doing. The most valuable thing in the universe is the time that we have to live on earth. Much of what history has been devoted to is making our time available to do other things which translates into speed and convenience and comforts. And making time always takes energy. We need to stay smart about this and Mark explains how.