Friday, September 6, 2013

On the Possibility for Civilisations in an Energy Scarce Future

Martin Larner said... JMG - in the absence of any viable petroleum sources for the first 10 million years, where are these Global Civilisations getting their energy from to for instance create aerostat towns?

As I understood it, the basis for a lot of your work is that a Global Civilisation would not be possible in the absence of a cheap and abundant source of concentrated energy, so it would be unlikely that such a civilisation could exist once those sources have depleted.

I'd envisage a more medieval type of civilisation or those of earlier ones such as the Romans, Mongols or Babylonians once the memory of todays technology, along with the energy to produce it have become myths or forgotten entirely. I'd expect such civilisations to be much more localised and develop at different rates, unaware of each others existence.

During this period before petroleum sources are replenished by the Earths own processes, we would be forced to live off our energy 'income' rather than 'inheritance' as I believe you have previously stated.

John Michael Greer said...  Martin, I've argued at some length in my book The Ecotechnic Future that industrial society is merely the first, and the most cluelessly wasteful, of a potential range of technic societies, defined as societies that use a significant amount of energy from sources other than human and animal muscle. There are plenty of things that can still be done with the more modest energy flows that can be obtained from renewable sources, and I expect that a future society that plays its cards right could certainly manage aerostats and a global civilization without having to waste energy as freely as we have.

Read the discussion thread here.

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