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What if the Future is Real?

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Published on May 4, 2013

My Earth Day talk at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Sustainability banquet -on energy, natural resources, environment, human behavior, finance, economics - a general overview of our human ecosystem and how it is currently borrowing from both the past and the future.

It is my view that as energy productivity (EROI) declined, we moved to credit as a world society starting in the 1970s. This widened the spigot on energy and everything else by borrowing from future affordability and creating an order or magnitude more ways to consume. As debt productivity (how much GDP for one unit of debt) declined to almost zero in past decade, we now went to the sovereign/central bank mode of keeping consumption/energy use going. After that fails, we will start changing rules, definitions, etc. Basically growth, as measured by GDP is over. It might last another year or 2 in OECD and another 5 years or so in world as a whole, but the next decade and beyond we will have to do with 'less each year', which is not something we have thought much about let alone prepared for.

I was pretty tired for this talk, and combined maybe too much, but there is alot that is relevant to the current choices being made about our future. We are going from spending 5% of GDP on energy, to 10-15%.

For most people, producing more/consuming less, being good civic/community minded people, being physically and psychologically resilient, changing their definition of success, etc are going to be primary. But we do need scientists and activists on the social (demand) and physical (supply) side of our societal dilemma. I hope also, that some small contingent of people changes how they view personal success - where working towards - in perhaps as yet unknown ways - a future living planet where unborn generations of humans and other species have access to the beauty and bounty of Earth in ways similar to what we had/have. Its not going to be easy, but its doable, and well....theres nothing more important. njh

** A less sombre overview from a few months ago is here...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ055L...

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