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Thursday, January 6, 2011

ON THE MATTER OF DOOMSDAY

Only a year ago, I kind of made fun of doomsdayers.  I've always been an optimist about the future, until more recently, when some of their arguments began to actually make sense.

For example, the matter of Peak Oil scares me for Hawaii.  If oil goes shooting up to $150/barrel and higher, jet fuel will rise accordingly, and tourism will suddenly drop by 20% to 50%.  Our economy will go into a prolonged depression because there is no substitute for jet fuel and replacement for the standard jet liner.  How's that for doomsday?

Now, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has petroleum at only $96/barrel in December of 2019, not bad, as oil costs around $90/barrel today.  On this basis, can microalgae jet fuel become cost competitive ($2/gallon) by then?  Can the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper or any aircraft capable of flying with a sustainable fuel become commercial by then.  DARPA seems somewhat optimistic about the former, and Rinaldo Brutoco has expressed some confidence in his development for the latter.  Keep in mind, though, that if a biofuel for aviation can compete with $150/barrel ($3.57/gallon) oil, this still would mean that air tickets will jump, and how will that affect tourism?  My HuffPo on this subject provides the current state of the thinking from scientific and industrial experts.  And for the latter, I'm afraid it takes decades after perfection for a new aircraft to become truly commercial.

Hawaii's future at this point looks bleak, unless the Blue Revolution can make a real difference for local economic diversity (next generation fisheries, OTEC electricity/water, Disney at Sea, floating casinos, etc.).  There is always hope, so I will continue to do what I can to stimulate sustainable air travel and economic development of our seas in harmony with the marine environment.

About global doomsday for Humanity, cults regularly announce the next Judgement Day, as was reported today in the Star Advertiser.  This latest one is projected for May 21 of this year.

Then, of course, there is that Mayan Prophesy that the end of the world will come on 21December2012. This one is based on some celestial line-up on the longest day of the year.  It's difficult for me to take any of these historic/religious predictions too seriously.

But, for good reason, even I have a doomsday, as depicted in Chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, THE VENUS SYNDROME.  I was hoping to scare decision-makers to take global warming a lot more seriously.

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The Dow Jones Industrial dropped 26 to 11,697, while world markets were mixed.   Gold  went down $7/toz to $1368, while petroleum settled below$89/barrel.

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