A long letter with his usual emphasis on energy supply and depletion, Heinberg discusses the energy backdrop of the war and the potential future impacts to the global energy supply and global politics and economy. Very sobering stuff. The new thing here though is an expansion of his years long focus on powering down, i.e., self-limiting our energy consumption. He argues that the three plans to mitigate climate change, energy substitution, divestment and taxing carbon, aren’t working.
Energy substitution isn’t working because, in spite of the large increases in renewable energy, the world’s energy consumption is increasing faster, putting even more carbon is going into the atmosphere. Divestment isn’t working because fossil fuel companies have no end of financial resources available to them.
Taxing carbon isn’t working because it doesn’t guarantee the actual reduction of carbon.
Heinberg suggests a new plan called cap and ration. Cap global fossil fuel production and then ration fossil fuel consumption. His rational is quite compelling. It’s powering down in a controlled fashion. And it’ll take cooperation which is in short supply these days. But so does everything else. This is worth reading.
Thanks, Ray, for the excellent contribution! This is exactly the kind of information that is so important to share with our members. And this is an excellent place to post information that will help us all be better advocates for a livable planet. I would vote for this article to at least be part of the Book Club conversation in April, if not a good chunk of it. It seems to me that the approach Heinberg proposes could be a suggestion for CCL to replace the approach that is currently going nowhere. Or it could augment carbon fee and dividend. It has the built-in justice piece that CCL would approve of. I am confused by the conflicting information about having enough resources to build out solar and electric vehicles. Does the world have enough or not? We need to know the truth! I attended the Skagit CCL talk by Bob Hallahan last Thursday on national security. I forget who these comments are attributed to, but they would seem to apply to Heinberg's article:
Selfishness, greed and apathy are problems that scientists can't fix. Rather, we need peacemakers and healers. Now would be the time for a peace movement rivaling the 1960's! We're certainly not going to solve this problem with war.
I share your worry!!
I favor any approach that works. As this newsletter points out, so far no approach is working. For cap and ration to work would require that governments worldwide would be willing to take on the program and they would have the power to implement it. My ongoing worry is that we as a species are unwilling or unable or both to take a rational look at long-term prospects and from their make rational choices about what to do about those prospects.