Hot fusion scientist describing characteristics of laser fusion actually describes future of cold fusion

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a talk by Ed Moses from the National Ignition Facility (NIF about laser fusion technology entitled “Clean Fusion Power This Decade”. You can download and listen to an mp3 posted on the Long Now site here:

In the talk, he describes ignition occurring in the 02010-02012 range, with a prototype reactor ready by the 02020 range and I want to thank Dr. Moses for his work and effort to communicate that research.

I had been a fan of hot fusion technology for years before I knew that cold fusion was real. In 02002 I went to the San Diego fusion facility ( for a teacher training and professional development workshop. I toured the tokamak and met lots of smart and extremely generous people, enthusiastic about a fusion energy future. I wish them, and the NIF, the best of luck in reproducing star-power. It would be a major achievement.

But listening to Ed Moses, and now knowing (since 2003) that cold fusion has the promise to bring a decentralized carbon-free energy source with a simpler technology than large hot fusion reactors, I had to respond more critically. He envisions 9+ billion people populating this planet, concentrated in mega-cities, those cities above a population of 10 million, “because that’s where the jobs are, that’s where culture is, that’s where centers of power are, and by the way, they are more energy efficient.” There are many points to make in response to that scenario, let me make just a few.

Feeding and finding the resources for an additional 4 billion people, the majority of which are concentrated in cities, is quite a challenge even in a future with fusion technology. The carrying capacity of this planet is debatable. But where are we now with planetary resources for six and one-half billion people?

The oceans have been over fished with many species on the brink of collapse. Water resources have been privatized planet-wide and are being rationed. In the last several decades, food production has expanded only because of fossil fuels and the cheap oil available to produce and transport these foods worldwide. The heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers derived from petroleum has reduced topsoil around the globe to “merely a sponge”, a dead layer that has the capacity only to soak up more chemicals.

When Dr. Moses claims that cities are “more efficient”, what does he mean? More efficient than what? It’s not clear how he measures this efficiency. As I understand it, large centralized populations need huge influxes of food shipped in from very long distances. The majority of these shipments come on trucks using petroleum diesel as most mega-cities, that I know of, have no local food production. Many who live in mega-cities have a poor standard of living, with little access to nature.

Many of these large mega-cities of the world have their water transported hundreds of miles, from places that are becoming resentful about sending their water out of their local area. Some mega-cities situated in desert climates have expanded their population by mining water, i.e. tapping into underground water pools left by the recent ice age. These communities will experience a drastic and sudden need for more water when these one-time resources disappear.

I also wonder what kind of jobs are available in the mega-cities of the future? Will there be a second renaissance in advertising and marketing? Are the centers of technological revolution going to be located in these mega-cities? Is that a trend we can identify now? Are technology companies with huge job openings choosing to locate in cities now?

To say “we are in a non-local society” is to miss the dynamic changes occurring right now. We are fast flipping to a local society, where food, water, and energy resources are all farmed, pumped, and created locally. Geo-political forces are emerging that challenge the hegemony of superpowers’ reach abroad.

I just don’t see large cities as apart of our positive future, mostly because of a world population argument. The population explosion is directly related to the oil age. Controlling populations who need food, water, and jobs seems like it would require a police state, a total loss of personal freedom, and plenty of chemical inundation.

Dr. Moses contends that “2030-2050 is where things start happening”. I submit that things are starting to happen now. Perhaps the NIF would be willing to consider the plethora of displaced auto workers, the newly released mid-level office managers from marketing departments, or the shrimpers and fishermen, as new hires for their multi-billion dollar facility. If not, then Houston, we have a problem. The lights are going out all around the world right now as electrical grids are beyond capacity, and we need food, water, and jobs, for an increasing number of people.

Fusion technology will create its own environment, a vastly different one, not merely extend this present system. The Long Now seeks to find paradigms that last on the order of thousands of years, and perhaps large metropolis’ will emerge in that time frame, but the next hundred years are going to be a major transition, and I can only see a positive future if Earth’s population is reduced, not increased.

Every new technology creates an environment of services and disservices. Cold fusion technology, with its simple structure, small, compact and portable would surely allow the freedom to live in a decentralized world, closer to nature, if one so chooses.

Hot fusion technology is great. I hope that the NIF finds the answer to ignition soon. I am excited about basic research in science and have always been particularly interested in the science of stars, energy, rocket propulsion and space exploration. But hot fusion has had its share of the funding pie, with good results. Isn’t it time to take a look at cold fusion, low-energy nuclear reactions, which has had just as astounding results without the “infusion” of funding? One could argue the results that low-energy nuclear reaction scientists have obtained is even more remarkable given the paltry funding on the order of millions of dollars, as opposed to the tens of billions that hot fusion has received.

When Dr. Moses describes a “sustainable, carbon-free, not geo-political, safe, modular, compact, relatively rapid development path”, that “uses our existing infrastructure” and “accepts evolutionary improvements”, he is describing the technology of cold fusion. Yes, “it is too good to be true”.

ACTION Let’s contact the Long Now and ask them to present a cold fusion scientist to discuss the future of energy in a de-centralized and local world. You can find their contact information here:

Getting Real and Going Beyond “Demanding Clean Energy”

There’s a recent petition making it’s rounds on the net, titling itself as “Demand Clean Energy”, relating the action to the attack on the gulf.   People have been jumping all over this in light of the gulf disaster.  Signing it, posting and re-posting to their facebooks, twitters, email lists and so forth.

But what exactly is “clean energy”?  It sounds nice.  Seems like it should make sense.  But specifically what is supposed to suddenly stop all the drilling and allow us to power ourselves without petroleum?

Unfortunately reality doesn’t have anything to do with good intentions. When asked by most people what they believe the clean energy being proposed is,  likely you will hear the stock alternative energy responses:  Solar, wind, etc.

Why is it that people are still unaware that NONE of the stock clean energy alternatives, and NO combinations of the stock alternatives will be able to run what we are running now from oil?

It simply won’t work.

And this is old news.  It’s been mentioned time and again from experts over the better part of the last decade.  Yet the belief still exists that these will somehow work on large massive scales, that we have the time and resources to make this mass “flip of the switch” transition, and if we do it then in a few years we will all be driving around in electric cars.

This is how behind everyone is.  Lacking in specifics and putting it all under a vague and unrealistic umbrella of “clean energy”.

It’s time to get real, get honest, and get specific.  Start waking up to the realities of what won’t work on a massive scale, and the technologies that do actually have the potential to work on an enormous scale, and deserve the investment, willpower and push for immediate developments.

Yes, demand clean energy but be specific about it.  Demand cold fusion now.

BP attacks the Gulf, US surrenders

June 14, 2010 — The Gulf is a graveyard. Fishing is likely finished for the next several years, if not decades. Wildlife has been devastated, and some species may never return. Tourism to some of the most beautiful beaches in the US has plummeted. Shipping lanes are set to be sludge tracks. And hurricane season is just beginning.

BP attacks the Gulf, but the virtual surrender from the Feds hasn’t shamed the oily politicians enough to keep them from whining about more drill permits. An Exxon Valdez gushes into the Gulf every 3-4 days as a whole ocean clogs with crude. Listening to the army of those who want to expand drilling further into the last remaining wildlands is a surreal and sorry sound.

Even those who accept the Peak Oil scenario fret over “environmentalists going bonkers” with their “outrageous demands” to curb this sociopathic need to consume oil.

It shouldn’t be surprising. Petroleum revenues fuel our entire society. We are all complicit. Few of us have the skills to escape the ubiquity of the slick. Worse, our elected representatives, in training for industry jobs, deflect scrutiny of their oily paycheck by shouting: 50,000 jobs on the line if drilling doesn’t continue; the “growth” of our economy will halt; poor ole grandma won’t be able to heat her house in December.

Where was the whining as jobs were vacuumed up across the border over the last several decades? And define economic growth. Growth for who?

Sadly, when it comes to Grandma’s house, there is an element of truth. For Grandma won’t be able to heat her house in winter much longer, whether drilling continues or not. Indeed, the most compelling argument against further drilling is not about jobs or the environment. It’s about Grandma, and it’s strategic.

The world’s finite petroleum resource is about half gone; the easy discoveries have been made, and the easy oil has been extracted and burned. Global oil discoveries peaked in the early 1960s and as demand has grown, we’ve been nursing the same oil fields for decades without replacement. Only the difficult, dangerous, and more expensive to get at oil remains. Whether it’s tar sands or deep ocean, the price of oil is set to rise, going well beyond Grandma’s ability to pay.

It’s called rationing, price rationing to be specific. And the biggest victims will be oil’s biggest users – US.  With only the expensive oil left to extract, higher prices are inevitable. Eventually, Grandma and everybody else in the US will be priced out. Meanwhile, $10 a gallon won’t stop the guy on his tiny motorbike in Vietnam who only uses a quarter-gallon a week.

In a recent interview, Dr. Michael McKubre stated the most compelling argument.

“These days with what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico, people are sensitized to the fact that oil is bad; it’s environmentally bad; burning it is bad; it is worse than bad – it’s crazy. It’s a one-time resource, it’s a chemical feedstock; it should be used to make our fertilizers and plastics and the things that make our society comfortable. We shouldn’t be burning it. Someone said burning oil to heat your home is like burning Rembrandts. It’s crazy.”

The range of materials that can be created from oil is extensive, from life-saving plastic medical devices to writing utensils. Notwithstanding polyester, petroleum products are a one-time gift to humanity. Continuing to run an entire transportation network on petroleum is a “huge mis-allocation of resources” and in no way sustainable.

Future generations will look back at this past century and shake their heads, mystified at our Medieval ways. How could a people so effectively misuse their resources? Shouldn’t we be preparing for this inevitable decline in the avaialablity of oil? Shouldn’t we make contingency plans to mitigate the inevitable higher prices? Shouldn’t we invest in a clean and safe energy source? Shouldn’t we have cold fusion now?