Transition Brockville archive

Tag : Resource depletion (29)

The curse of energy efficiency

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 26 February 2018

Energy efficiency is a technological illusion that secures and sustains what is arguably a one-way freeway to resource depletion and atmospheric chaos. Contrary to Carr’s fairy tale notions, energy efficiency actually encourages the use of more energy and more resources. As such it merely sustains the dangerous status quo, albeit one illuminated by lots of energy-efficient digital signage.

Even Canadian government reports unwittingly acknowledge the starkness of the problem while calling for more efficiency. A 2013 study on energy trends, for example, lamented that “Canada was producing economic values more efficiently” but each household was using “a greater number of energy‐consuming goods and services per capita than in 1990.”


Old age and societal decline

Museletter / Richard Heinberg / February 2018

People grow old and die. Civilizations eventually fail. For centuries amateur philosophers have used the former as a metaphor for the latter, leading to a few useful insights and just as many misleading generalizations. The comparison becomes more immediately interesting as our own civilization stumbles blindly toward collapse. While not the cheeriest of subjects, it’s worth exploring.


We need a richer picture of the human ‘economy’

Paul Arbair / 17 February 2018

Mainstream economics seems to have learned little and changed nothing in the last decade, despite the fact that the financial crisis and its aftermath laid bare a number of important issues with its theories and models. Failure to address these issues is making the economics discipline increasingly incapable of informing us about the trajectory and situation of our world.


Energy, money and technology – from the lens of the superorganism

KAUST Official / Streamed live on 23 January 2018

In his #WEP2018 keynote, Nate Hagens discusses how all of our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but more stochastic energy types.

Special thanks to our Platinum #WEP2018 sponsors: Saudi Aramco and Sabic.

Why a “modern” can’t understand the risks we face

Resource Insights / Kurt Cobb / 08 May 2016

Mandelpart2_redPROCIn my previous piece, I discussed why it is useless to argue with a person clinging to what I called the “religion” of modernism. I summarized four main tenets of the modern outlook as follows:

  1. Humans are in one category and nature is in another.
  2. Scale doesn’t matter.
  3. History can be safely ignored since modern society has seen through the delusions of the past.
  4. Science is a unified, coherent field that explains the rational principles by which we can manage the physical world.

These assumptions make modern humans particularly susceptible to becoming captives of the bell curve. Our understanding of risk is mediated by a misleading picture of regularity in the physical world and in human society. Moderns believe that nearly all risks–and certainly the nontrivial ones relating to our survival as species–can be easily calculated and managed.


Review: The Schizophrenic Society by Roger Boyd / Frank Kaminski / 25 January 2016

schizoIn a chapter titled “The New High Priests: Economists,” Boyd summarizes a handful of the widely held false beliefs about our society’s relationship to its ecology that lie at the heart of common economic wisdom. These include unquestioned faith in the infinite supply or substitutability of any natural resource, an espousal of free trade and deregulation as the optimal ways for a country to develop, the supposition that all economic participants have equal market power and the tenet that everyone makes rational, self-interested decisions. The author points out that these mainstays of economic thought are simply unproven assumptions that benefit the elites by providing “a smokescreen of beliefs” concealing how modern societies really work. While there’s nothing really new in this discussion for those already familiar with the failings of conventional growth economics, Boyd does a succinct job of outlining the main ideas.


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