Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

On the Edge of the Cliff: We need a new way of seeing the world

Philosophy News image
Long-term predictive models don't have a very good record, but some turned out to be prophetic. One case is that of Hubbert's 1956 prediction of a peak in the production of fossil energy shortly after the start of the 21st century. He was optimistic about the possibility of replacing fossil fuels with nuclear energy, but, apart from that, he was right on target. Now we are on the edge of the cliff and we have to take a different attitude toward the ecosystem that supports our existence. The concept of "Holobiont" may help us a lot in this task. We are holobionts, the ecosystem is a larger holobiont, we must find a way to live together. The American geologist Marion King Hubbert deserves the credit of having been the first to see the main trends of the 21st century, nearly 50 years before it were to start. In his 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, he presented the figure above: a bold attempt to place the human experience with energy on a 10,000 years scale.Of course, the figure was overly optimistic about nuclear energy which, in reality, started declining before fossil fuels did. But, with this graphic, Hubbert had laid down the human predicament, several years in advance with respect to "The Limits to Growth" (1972). Catton's "overshoot" (1980), and many others. Without a miracle that could replace fossils well before they would start declining, the human world as it was in the 20th center was doomed. Nuclear energy was not, and could not have been, that miracle.Hubbert's may not have been always cited, but the debate on the decline of the natural resources raged for decades -- with most of the debate being based on various interpretation of the concept of technological progress. In the most optimistic views, depletion was not considered a pressing problem but, in any case, it was believed that technology would chase the problem away, automatically, and without pain for anyone, purely on the basis of market forces. In this view,. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: Cassandra's Legacy

blog comments powered by Disqus