I started this blog because I think a lot about TEOTWAWKI – you know, the End of the World as We Know It. I don’t mean civilisation going up in a nuclear fireball, leaving zombies roaming the streets. Rather, I mean the roll over from nearly 300 years of fossil fuel-powered industrial expansion into an era of non fossil-powered … something else.
Whatever we like to tell ourselves about human ingenuity, exceptionalism, etc., the reason we live at the scale and level we do is because we broke into a vast store of trillions of BTUs of fossilised solar power in the form of oil, coal and gas.
That’s not to say that we wouldn’t have come a long way from mid-18th century living arrangements without fossil fuels. Just that, without them, we’d have progressed differently and on a much smaller scale. So this blog looks at what’s going on in the world through the following lenses:
- Industrial civilisation depends on massive flows of energy
- Those flows are declining – not because fossil fuels are running out but because it is increasingly hard and costly to extract them
- Therefore, the net energy left over to maintain society (let alone continue its expansion) is shrinking
- Renewable forms of energy can help make up for some of the lost fossil energy flow.
- But renewables are incapable of powering industrial civilisation at its current scale, while scaled-up, high tech solutions like nuclear fusion are decades away.
- Expectations of permanent growth, upon which all conventional politics and economics are based, can no longer be met
What interests me is how this will pan out. I’m no doomer. In the past, civilisations rarely collapsed overnight and ours has many capabilities that could theoretically slow the decline process down to the point where it’s not so painful.
Nor am I a cornucopian who believes that planet earth will offer up infinite resources simply to ensure that humans can continue to increase consumption.
So sitting somewhere in the middle, I watch, look and listen.
I’m a middle-aged, middle-class, white guy living in the West of England. I own my own copywriting and PR business with clients mainly in the car leasing and fleet management business (ironically enough!).