Energy descent will shape our future – our choices now will determine whether it’s a liveable future

Image courtesy Newsroom

Our current economy and way of life is built on a one-off windfall of energy-dense fossil fuels. While this will not run out any time soon, all evidence points to the fact that it has peaked. But irrespective, if we have any hope of averting the worst extremes of climate breakdown and ecological collapse, we will need to reduce our energy and resource use.

This article, published in Newsroom, explains why and how – by embracing ‘degrowth’, in which we redesign the economy to put human and environmental wellbeing at its centre.

“In years gone by, you may have heard the words ‘peak oil’, often intoned with a sense of foreboding, warning us that before long oil would run out and things would never be the same.

But we don’t hear the term so much any more. Is that because the ‘doomsters’ were all wrong? Because, in fact, we have plenty of oil – and, even better, it’s never going to run out?
Unfortunately – or fortunately, if you care about what we are doing to our climate and biosphere – the answer to all those questions is ‘No. As Isaac Asimov said in his influential address ‘The future of humanity’ in 1974:

When I was 13, I started thinking …
Major premise: The Earth’s volume is finite.
Minor premise: The total volume of coal and oil on the Earth is less than the total volume of the Earth.
Conclusion: The volume of coal and oil are finite
.”

Continue reading at Newsroom.

Why renewable energy is not going to save the planet (but what might)

A protest in Leipzig, Germany. Courtesy https://inhabitingtheanthropocene.com

Over the last few weeks, I have published a number of articles in the media exploring topics such as energy transition, energy descent and food security from a systems lens. I am sharing them through this blog so that they can reach as a wide as possible audience. Here is the first, published on The Spinoff:

“We are all aware of the ambitious changes we need to make if we are to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change. However, exactly what we need to do remains a confusing minefield which few of us have the time or energy to navigate.

Every day we hear of a new technology that promises to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or a space-based solar technology that will power millions of homes, or, conversely, we find out that what was touted as a solution yesterday is no longer one today.

But all this “complexity” is just a distraction from the simple reality that to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown we need to make fundamental changes to the way we live.”

You can continue reading ‘Why combatting climate change means embracing degrowth’ at The Spinoff.