Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises (192)

PM192_640“There are no real solutions, there are only responses.” So say the expert contributors in The Post Carbon Reader, pointing to society’s complex, interdependent systems squeezed by growing demand and declining resources. Co-editor Daniel Lerch tells us renewable energy will never be able to replace fossil fuels. Thus resilience —  the capacity of a system to withstand disturbance while retaining its fundamental integrity — needs to replace sustainability as a guide to action. Episode 192. []

YouTube | Audio | iTunes | Janaia’s journal: Daniel Lerch and The Post Carbon Reader


  1. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    John, I see your point. It will be difficult to make silicon pure enough, or magnets strong enough in a world without oil. However I think you have missed the point of Daniel’s interview. As we are most likely to be just past the peak and on the downhill slide of oil, amongst the many perspectives presented in the post carbon reader is the idea that we should hang on to as many of the resources that we have left and not “throw the baby out with the bath water”. The most important resource for a continued human existence without strife is knowledge. With charcoal furnaces we can smelt copper, steel and many other metals. Much of our basic electrical generating systems (not photovoltaic) can be made in any home garage given the right tools. Of course these back yard practices won’t be available for selling retail goodies to the consuming masses in the western world, they should be for community infrastructure only. While we still have enough oil, we should be creating systems that will enable us to carry on with as much technological smarts that a reduced energy paradigm can allow. A good example of this is Cuba, which is producing doctors and agrarian scientists aplenty.
    To complicate matters, China has been hoarding many of the rare earth commodities for some time now. This will most likely be for “the last man standing scenario” that the major countries are preparing for. Another example is the Bakken oil field near the Rockies. You can bet your last biscuit that the US govt won’t allow this to be used for the general population to drive around in their fuel guzzling pickups, it’ll be for the govt, military and other “essential” services necessary for controlling the unrest that is likely to ensue.
    This fits with your prediction that the rest of us will carry on in denial until a crash or series of crashes of will signal the end of our profligate consumerism. It is up to those of us that are aware to try to retain as much knowledge in as many disciplines as possible.

  2. Energy in the Real World
    Solar and Wind are not renewable. The energy from solar and from wind is of course renewable but the devices used to capture the energy of the sun and wind is not renewable. Nor are they green or sustainable.

    An oak tree is renewable. A horse is renewable. They reproduce themselves. The human-made equipment used to capture solar energy or wind energy is not renewable. There is considerable fossil fuel energy embedded in this equipment. The many components used in devices to capture solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy and biomass energy – aluminum, glass, copper, rare metals, petroleum in many forms to name a few – are fossil fuel dependent.

    beginning paragraphs with pictures from:

  3. We will do anything and everything to maintain our present personal level of energy use and the comfort it affords us. We will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to continue on this path. And if we don’t have the energy level we see others have, we will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to attain that level. The proof of this assertion is simple; we are doing it.
    A beginning paragraph from:

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