Thursday, April 30, 2009

David Hughes on Carbon Shift

50% of the oil found on the planet has been consumed since 1950.

90% of all coal burned on the planet has been burned since 1910.

As for cars and the ridiculous state of the automobile industry, there were 70 million cars built in 2001 wonder there is a problem.

Think about what comes next rather than trying to resurrect a corpse.

Move toward relocalization of food productions.

Minimize length of supply chains.

Embrace a lower impact lifestyle.

Use the fossil fuels we have now to create sustainable infrastructures, not searching for more non-renewable sources.

A few of the notes taken during Hughes lecture here in Banff on Monday night. Much of what he said wasn't new, but it was very well researched, logically articulated. Compelling facts. Must get the book of essays edited by one Homer Dixon. Yes, we're in trouble, yes we're facing huge challenges, but also yes, there are so many opportunities for innovation ahead of us. Replacing styrofoam with organics. Recycling tires into footware. How about self-sufficient green gyms, for example? Why are elliptical machines sucking power when they could be generating it, or at least powering themselves? Why not green roofs? Why don't we have solar panels on parking garages selling energy back to the grid? Why don't we have rain barrels as a matter of course? Why don't we think about where we locate technologies? Supply chains, distribution systems, have had industries--everything from food production to magazines--by the throat for too long. Why not break down those chains and rethink them? Or make them more flexible in any case.

This is taking me back to my Vancouver and Vancouver Island days where I spent many hours dreaming of ways to get off the grid entirely...but ultimately one can't really get off the grid can they? To be human is to be part of the world, and if one is part, wouldn't one rather be part of the solution to use cliche speak. What I find baffling is that we have at hand so many resources, so much potential to innovate our way into a most intriguing future, and we've known about this for several decades now (peak oil in the US occurred in 1973), so what's the hold up? Yes, things are falling apart, but they're falling into the new as well. I'm wondering when the next tipping point will come. Not the hysterical one, but the one flush with excitement.

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