Tuesday, February 13, 2007

it takes 80 times more energy to feed four times more people

Alternet has a fascinating (and yes disturbing) interview with Thomas Homer Dixon regarding our unsustainable use of energy and various tectonic movements developing underneath our societies. The discussion looks at energy production beyond the barrel of oil template with some practical advice on how we need to be honest with ourselves about the coming disruptions.

THD: In fact there's a whole way of approaching economics that uses thermodynamics. Herman Daly in particular has pioneered this. Energy is a currency that is fundamental and physical, and it gets you away from prices, which are often distractions. The price of something -- a barrel of oil, a bushel of grain -- includes so many other factors that may not have anything to do with underlying abundance or scarcity of these things.

THD: There will be times of frustration and fear and anger on the part of many people when fundamental verities and patterns of life are suddenly challenged. They'll be scared. And in those moments, extremists can take advantage of the situation and push our societies in directions that are very bad. Those of us who are nonextremists need to be prepared to push in other directions and create something that's good.

* Thomas Homer-Dixon is director of the Trudeau Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflict at the University of Toronto. He is the author of "The Ingenuity Gap" and his newest book "The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization."

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