With ten billion coming, sustainable is not enough

crowd

Stephen Emmott is a chief techno-wizard at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England.  His brilliant young scientists are doing research in complex natural systems.  Their objective is to invent miracles.  They want to program ordinary cells to perform photosynthesis, so we can produce food from sunlight, without plows and seeds.  Agriculture can’t feed ten billion.  The goal is to delay the … [Read more...]

If solar has gotten so cheap, why isn’t there more of it?

Why don't more homes have this sign? Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

Some people who worry about peak oil like to point out that renewable energy won't save us. That is, given the amount of fossil fuels that the world uses today, it would take an unrealistically large increase in the amount of renewables available now to make up the difference as oil, natural gas and coal start to deplete. So we might as well resign ourselves now to a future of shivering in the … [Read more...]

Peak oil pulled a fast one on me

Photo: Imahornfan/Flickr.

I don't know about you, but I'll admit that I was completely caught off guard by the recent (and ongoing?) crash in oil prices. It'd be a stretch to say I'm embarrassed by my lack of foresight, although perhaps "dumb-ass" would be a bit deserving. For even though there were bloggers out there discussing the possible ramifications of low oil prices, its possibility still didn't register with me. … [Read more...]

Distraction, surveillance, peak oil and the end of the Internet

NYC in blackout

Let me be upfront about one thing: I don't particularly want to be writing a blog, from which this article comes. But as I am an unpublished writer completing his first book in this early twenty-first century of ours, for what should be obvious reasons, I am. Why don't I particularly want to be writing a blog? For one, I'm not a very big fan of the Internet, and beginning in mid-2008 had … [Read more...]

Big oil companies find it harder to turn a buck

gas station on a red sky

Judging by pump prices, drivers might think oil companies were rolling in profits that only move higher. Lately, though, the big boys in the global oil industry are finding that earning a buck isn’t as easy as it used to be. Royal Dutch Shell, for instance, just announced that fourth quarter earnings would fall woefully short of expectations. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant warned its quarterly … [Read more...]

Why the world needs Transition

new economy infographic

There are many approaches to the three main crises threatening civilization today, namely, climate change, peak oil and economic crisis. The problem is that most of them won't work. Weak and cowardly Most responses to these huge problems are too little, too late. For example, even though stimulus (spend more) and austerity (make big cuts) take opposite approaches to fixing the economy, wherever … [Read more...]

Staying on the train

time flies sign

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end. -- Rabindranath Tagore Nearly every day I speak with people who are confused, bewildered, disoriented, or conversely, extraordinarily clear about what is happening to them. A few years, months, or weeks earlier, they began waking up to the … [Read more...]

6 ways to become more miserable about climate change and peak oil

man in bathtub

It's bad enough that most middle-class people still have to struggle to keep their jobs and homes in today's Second Great Depression. But if you're even a little bit awake, then you also have to worry about longer-term threats: climate change, Fukushima, peak oil and the impending collapse of industrial civilization. There's plenty of reason for anyone to be depressed these days. Yet, … [Read more...]

The high price of materialism

shopping carts

A war on climate change is a war on materialism, plain and simple. The carbon pollution spewing out of our power plants and tail pipes is a natural byproduct of the monstrous engine of economic growth we have built, an engine that exists solely to satisfy the demand our materialism creates. Indeed this demand is so great that if everyone in the world lived like Americans, we’d need 4 whole Earths … [Read more...]

The economy isn’t coming back

recession space

Presently Americans wait with bated breath, watching sales numbers and unemployment statistics, grasping for signs that an economic recovery is underway. We search for signals that indicate we’re growing, that there will be a job for everyone who wants one, and that the United States will resume the prosperity and standing in the world it once had. We wait in vain. The economy isn’t … [Read more...]