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I follow KG's logic and stop worrying about oil prices and the energy descent. Now I remove the worry of an asteroid surprise. Unfortunately KG's logic makes him pessimistic about life extension. Rats, Drew

Kartik Gada

Hello Drew,

That's right. Another thing to keep in mind that we must all be extra careful not to die in automobile accidents over the next 10-12 years, because after that, a lot fewer people will die from that. It will be very unfortunate to be among the last few who die that way.

To be clear, life extension up to 100 will be possible for more proactive, informed, and health-conscious people (it won't be just an effortless physical revamp that people go out and buy). But anything past 100 is what I say is very unlikely.

Igor Bloodscene

David Sinclair's work is very promising. https://lifespanbook.com/


Now we just need to worry about a Carrington Event.

Kartik Gada


True. An event such as the 1859 magnetic storm would be very problematic to modern society even as it would have had no impact at all on 1859 society.

A small such storm might force the world to make the grid more robust.

But solar flares and asteroids are not mutually exclusive, of course.

Now, on asteroids, when one examines the impact from 66 million years ago (a 10 km asteroid), such an impact in the 16th century might have killed off 99.999% of all humans. Maybe only eskimos and desert dwellers could have survived, as those are the least dependent on plant life. It would be interesting to see a simulation of that.


"In its World Oil Outlook, OPEC said that demand for its oil may only reach 32.8 million barrels per day (mb/d) by 2024, a figure that is substantially lower than the 35 mb/d from last year’s estimate. Demand is still expected to grow in non-OECD countries going forward, but OPEC admitted that demand may peak in the OECD in 2020."

This is stunning news.

The cause appears to be production outside of OPEC (Brazil, U.S. shale), and declining demand in the OECD.

Peak oil is not going to mean what everyone thinks it means.

What happens next is going to be ugly - a monetization race to the bottom. If I think demand will be trending ever downward, then oil in the ground, today, will be likely worth less tomorrow. It, and all the associate infrastructure, is a depreciating asset. Better to pump and sell what I can today, than wait for tomorrow when it might be worth less. So countries with oil are going to open the taps and sell as much as they can now. And that will drive the price down. Which will panic them into selling even more, and so on. No one wants to be left with an empty bank account and oil still left in the ground, they want to sell down to the last drop.

But on the flip side, oil getting cheaper means gas prices declining, which makes electric cars less competitive. But I think we have passed that hurdle - climate change, air pollution etc. are all valid reasons for electrifying. And electric cars are more or less competitive, and could become even cheaper going forward.

It is going to be a fascinating 5 years.

Kartik Gada


Not only that, but the US is now a net exporter of oil (not merely refined petroleum products, but oil outright).


Further falls in oil price cannot do much to delay EVs. The fall from $100 to $55 already delayed it enough, and a further fall to $40 will do little, what with all the gasoline taxes.

Remember that battery density improvements are much faster than that and can no longer be overtaken by price declines in oil, as we saw from an earlier ATOM AotM :



The most valuable thing from asteroids and comets will be ices - water and otherwise. If you can get off-planet water, you end up with propellant, something to breathe, something to grow plants with, and most importantly, radiation shielding (think about a 10' thick shield on all sides).

Enabling technology will be reactors in space. Might be going that direction with the Gen IV reactor push.

There are some who believe that the hydrocarbon shells on bodies from the outer system (tholins that turn them reddish) are the functional equivalent of kerogens (think petroleum and its byproducts). Cheers -

Kartik Gada


True. But humans living in space en masse is much further off, and may not ever happen at all, mainly because space exploration through AI is thousands or millions of times cheaper.

Plus, only comets have the requisite ices. NEO asteroids have little in the way of ice.

But, yes, if one wanted to create a lake on the Moon, steering a comet to gently land there and melt would be the best way.


“Further falls in oil price cannot do much to delay EVs. The fall from $100 to $55 already delayed it enough, and a further fall to $40 will do little, what with all the gasoline taxes.”

The taxes and political central planning means that there is a strong regulatory component to the disruption of electric vehicles. The ATOM is thus severely distorted in the energy sector. As for the taxes they will simply migrate from gasoline to electro-mobility. It will be very hard, almost unheard of, for an established tax to disappear. It’s almost like trying to roll back entropy. The tax will simply change target. Come to think of it, it is already happening. In many (green) California localities the cost of the supposedly plentiful new electricity as supplied by utilities is a punitive $0.35-$0.40 per kWh. That is, charging a 100kWh electric vehicle to get roughly 300 miles of travel costs $35-$40 of electricity which is about what you would spend to drive a midsize gasoline sedan the same distance in a less green state.

Left to its own devices the electric-mobility industry may one day deliver great solutions. But for the time being, it is all severely distorted by an almost religious mentality whereby the more humans are inconvenienced the better the planet feels. This distortion hurts the ATOM exponent — and, most importantly, those countries that abstain from it will beat the conservation reactionaries to the singularity. It all becomes extremely foolish when one considers that most of the distortion pressure is predicated upon the religious futurology that humans, in a hundred years, will suffer as a result of climate change. In other words it is a religion based on specific predictions regarding the state of a post-singularity humanity! Quite asinine in my view if one considers the singularity a near certainty. Come to think about it, even a much more conservative scenario whereby humanity simply develops at an average mere 4% rate annually, no singularity, no growth acceleration, no-nothing, still makes us fifty times more wealthy and powerful (yes that is 50x=5000%) than we are today in the next century. Given just that, what foolish human would dare predict the state of humanity in the next century, much more so a prediction of suffering due to a 2-3C temperature increase. Apparently the anti-capitalist “Church of Futurology and Later Day Warming” does. In the race to the singularity, coercive collectivism seems to be our most severe handicap.


Kartik -

Per John Lewis at least two decades ago, fully half the NEOs (and all the Earth orbit crossers) are inactive comets, high in percentage of ices. It gets better, as the line between comet and asteroids tends to blur a bit. There is at least one asteroid with an observed tail. There are comets that don't have a tail at all. I think we are going to find they are all variations on the same theme. The one constant is that the more we look outward in the solar system, the more water ice we find, which is VERY good news.

There appears to be substantial water ice on the southern lunar pole. Also substantial deposits on the poles of Mercury. The closer we look at Mars, the wetter it gets. And the asteroid belt may be swimming in water ice. Cheers -

Kartik Gada


The further away from the sun everything is certainly more icy. Callisto has the same volume as Mercury, but only one-third the mass (i.e. ice instead of metals).

But I doubt that NEOs have much ice, being this close to the sun. Comets start to get tails even further than 1 AU, and the Moon (also 1 AU) has very little surface ice.


Steering a comet into the Moon is the answer. The asteroid belt may have good amounts of ice at 2-4 AU.

Kartik Gada


Most EV buyers are not doing it for environmental reasons. They are doing it for cost and convenience.

Remember that over 3% of world vehicles sales are now EVs. More importantly, battery technology is improving rapidly (see the earlier ATOM AotM article for a chart).

It is true that governments will find ways to tax every aspect of EVs (and some have already), but that won't obstruct it from gradually replacing ICEs. Remember, my timeline for the four-pronged disruption is 2032.


They may, but a non insignificant portion of what EV buyers perceive as cost and convenience is regulatory favoritism. It is the market distorting favoritism of getting the $7500 electric vehicle subsidy, the cuddly privilege of driving in the commuter lane, the registration fee (see annual tax) favoritism etc. Because according to the church of futurology and later day warming they will prevent human suffering due to climate change in a post-singularity world. This regulatory distortion hurts the ATOM, and the mentality that “electric vehicles seem poised to dominate, therefore we might as well help them along with legislation” is the classic fallacy of centralized industrial policy. But people never learn. The future belongs to those nations than make the fewer such mistakes. They will be the ones to reach the singularity first.


HB- exactly.

If EVs are the future, are inevitable, make logical sense, then why do we need to do a blessed thing to make them happen from a legislative viewpoint? Also the futility of these actions is quite comical - We cannot afford to have a significant fraction of the total number of cars get free parking, charging, registration, or government rebates. We know, with 100% certainty, that these policies cannot be economically or morally maintained above a small fraction of total EV market penetration. So why bother at all? EVs will have to stand on their own.

Kartik Gada

Yes, there should not have been any government subsidy. Thankfully, it is mostly depleted now (Tesla is well past the maxiumum allowed cumulative quota) so the sales are with far fewer such distortions. There is a slight YoY dip in unit sales, as a result of the marketplace adjusting. There is still 2017-2019 biannual growth.

Remember, the government can't just create a market unless it was imminent anyway (i.e. the government can speed it up by a year, but not more). The Concorde was subsidized for 27 years (1976-2003), only for there to be no supersonic passenger airline even now in 2019. We will finally have it in the 2030s, which is the same timeframe as it would have been had the Concorde never existed.

Far better is if government vehicles (such as the 800,000 police cars and 210,000 mail trucks) go electric because it is cost effective.


Well said, Kartik.

To put it another way, the government can help create technology via research, but it is terrible at creating markets for that technology.

The Tesla situation is funny in retrospect - the government wanted to create an EV market. So they demanded that each manufacturer sell a small number of EVs. Which didn't make any sense - cars are cheap when made in volume, and small batches would lose money and have little incentive to be designed well. But they made the EV certificates tradeable. So Tesla decided to make one EV that would basically generate certificates for all the other car makers. So Tesla grew, but mostly because they were consolidating the regulatory demands for all car makers. And other car makers ignored electric cars because the small volumes required in the regulations would cost a fortune to build.

Now Tesla's special status has expired, and the traditional car makers must now make their own EVs. And Tesla was forced to expand, because the huge source of revenue for the certificates was about to go bust. So I might argue, the expiration of the EV requirement for Tesla has actually created the recent expansion in the EV market. An expansion the program suppressed for several years.

One might note that had the government not made EV certificates tradeable, Tesla likely would not exist in its current form - instead there would be multiple car companies with EVs, and we would be much further along in technology due to competition. Heck, we might be much further along the curve of EV adoption as well - traditional car companies would have been advertising EVs this whole time.

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