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Energy Return on Investment

Energy return on investment (EROI) is the ratio of energy returned from an energy-gathering activity compared to the energy invested in that process. While EROI by itself is not enough to judge the virtues or vices of particular fuels or energy sources, it is a crucial component for such assessments because it indicates whether a […]

Outsourcing Pollution and Energy-Intensive Production

Globalization has largely been seen in the context of the outsourcing of information technologies. But the larger outsourcing that globalization is leading to is the outsourcing of pollution and the energy-intensive production of goods. The corporations and consumers of the rich global North thus bear some responsibility for increased greenhouse gas emissions in the poorer […]

The False Promise of Clean Coal

The coal industry’s slick advertisements promoting “clean coal” employ twenty-first century media techniques to keep us locked into a nineteenth century energy economy. A classic greenwashing campaign, it uses the iconography of sexy technology and down-home Americana to maintain the status quo: Big Coal’s influence over energy politics. This is a chapter from The ENERGY […]

The Case for Conservation

Sooner or later we must make conservation the centerpiece of economic and energy policy. Energy conservation is the best strategy for pre-adapting to an energy-constrained future and our best hope for averting economic, social, and ecological ruin. The transition to a more durable and resilient but lower-energy economy will go much better if we plan […]

Retooling the Planet

Powerful corporations and governments of developed nations are the ones with the budgets and technology to execute geoengineering schemes. There is no reason to trust they will have the rights of more vulnerable states or peoples in mind, and the risk to the planet’s ecological integrity is great. This is a chapter from The ENERGY […]

Alternative Energy Challenges

Alternative energy depends heavily on engineered equipment and infrastructure for capture or conversion. However, the full supply chain for alternative energy, from raw materials to manufacturing, is still very dependent on fossil fuel energy. The various obstacles to alternative energy compound the fundamental challenge of how to supplant a fossil fuel–based supply chain with one […]

Our Global Ponzi Economy

Our mismanaged world economy today has many of the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme takes payments from a broad base of investors and uses these to pay off returns. It creates the illusion that it is providing a highly attractive rate of return on investment as a result of savvy investment decisions […]

Coal: The Greatest Threat to Civilization

Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet. The climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes, effects that would be irreversible, if we do not rapidly slow fossil – fuel emissions over the next few decades. A moratorium […]

No Ecological Sustainability without Limits to Growth

The main cause of global climate change is growth: unrelenting economic growth and a swelling human population. Most proposals for reducing climate change take this growth for granted and focus exclusively on technical means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An economic system dedicated to generating ever more wealth and consumption for ever more people must […]