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May 09, 2012

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Mark Bahner

"So this would be of tremendous value to me, but it need not involve much additional energy (at least compared to the first ~80 years of life)."

"Living *forever* would in fact need infinite additional energy."

OK, how about living 10,000 years?

Hedonic Treader

"So this would be of tremendous value to me, but it need not involve much additional energy (at least compared to the first ~80 years of life)."

Living *forever* would in fact need infinite additional energy.

"There's no limit to energy's percent of GDP because GDP is based on "value," which is not a physical parameter. Therefore, "value" can approach infinity."

I do think all actual forms of value are reducible to physical implementations and therefore strictly bound by physical parameters. Even the subjective perception of value (i.e. pleasure) needs a physical implementation that has ultimate limits in energy-efficiency. I agree mindboggling growth is possible here, but unless you can acquire literally infinite physical resources, value of this or any other relevant type conceivable by me cannot approach infinity.

Mark Bahner

Hi,

"Why is there no limit to energy's percent of GDP?"

There's no limit to energy's percent of GDP because GDP is based on "value," which is not a physical parameter. Therefore, "value" can approach infinity.

For example, a new store in the mall near me is called, "Forever 21." What would be the value to you of you and all your loved ones being able to live forever in the best physical condition you were ever in? The older you are, the higher the value you would probably assign to this...but I'd definitely give up all my retirement savings for such a situation. So this would be of tremendous value to me, but it need not involve much additional energy (at least compared to the first ~80 years of life). It could consist simply of monitoring and repairing damage immediately within the body.

In fact, many of the improvements that could raise GDP could lower net energy usage. For example, if you could wear clothing that would keep you comfortable at all times, there would be no need to heat or cool your house. Similarly, Tom Murphy writes about the various energy use levels for foods:

"I had heard from multiple sources that eating meat carried a large energy tax, amounting to as much as 8× for beef, 5× for pork, and something like 2× for chicken and fish. I have not been able to track down this original source, but the sentiment was almost certainly correct if not the numerical factors. In any case, I switched to a primarily meat-free diet."

However, it may be possible within the near future to "grow" meat in a laboratory that is essentially no different from meat obtained by growing and killing animals:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_vitro_meat

This would involve much less energy, and would add value (particularly for people like me who would rather not kill animals).


Max

Why is there no limit to energy's percent of GDP?

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