Sunday, January 27, 2008

Richard Heinberg and Technology

An American friend of mine introduced me to the ideas and significance of Richard Heinberg a little over a year ago. At the time, I'd heard of Hubbert's Peak Oil theory, but it was sorta at the edges of my radar at best, and certainly overshadowed by concerns like global warming and its associated environmental issues. I picked up a copy of Heinberg's Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, and I spent the next several months reading nearly everything about Peak Oil I could get my hands on via the internet. These days, even some of the more conservative experts and the most mainstream authorities are making public statements about the coming of the permanent decline of fossil fuels. It seems, though, that as long as people are able to afford to keep filling their gas tanks at the fuel pump, that the general public is transfixed by this notion that the planet's oil supply are endless and that life as we've known it during the oil age will continue. Or that, at least, there'll be easy solutions "just in time" so that our rate of consumption need never be affected.

In this month's MuseLetter, his monthly essay on energy, civilization and economics, Heinberg's re-issued an eight year old essay of his on the future of technology. Rather than being dated, it still holds water. Lots. It's definitely worth a read if you have an interest in the impact of runaway advances in biotechnology. He's a lucid writer, and probably one of today's most important voices.

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