We Can Feed the World / No We Can’t / No We Won’t

There are, and have been for a few decades now, competing narratives about food, hunger, and population. And supporting these narratives are a large number of divergent arguments from people with an even larger array of ideological perspectives. I’ve been puzzled for some time that these narratives not only have co-existed for as long as … Continue Reading

Observations and Questions

For some time I’ve been accumulating observations and questions on a variety of topics but have felt the need to have, for the former, deep analysis, and for the latter, answers. I don’t have much in the way of either, but I’d like to share them nevertheless. Cause and Effect. Is technological progress driving prosperity, … Continue Reading

4 arguments for deliberate descent, part 1: prudential

‘Deliberate descent’ is the name I’m going to use for the whole family of ideas that includes “downshifting,” “decivilization,” “uncivilization,” “sustainable” living, “deindustrialization,” etc., plus the variety of particular proposals for doing so, such as John Michael Greer’s Green Wizardry, Sharon Astyk’s Adapting in Place, and Rob Hopkins’s Transition movement.  All of these ideas focus … Continue Reading

A Hole Atop the World

I’m a contrarian, so I tend to believe that it’s darkest before dawn about a lot of things. And things are pretty dark when even the IEA is saying things like “we are seeing the door for a 2 degree Celsius target about to be closed and closed forever.” I do think we may be … Continue Reading

Free Energy Does Not Occur in Nature

[F]ree energy does not occur in nature… There’s one thing about that Orlov quote that has struck me over the years: how it applies more broadly than he originally meant it. It’s not just that what we generally think of as free energy doesn’t occur in nature, but also that free energy does occur in … Continue Reading

Computing in the Long Emergency, part 2

I recently learned about a (so-called) international development project taking place in Niger. People in a region of the country have been suffering from malnutrition and outright hunger due to periodic drought-induced crop failures. To help respond to this humanitarian crisis, an NGO that was providing food aid to the region partnered with some researchers … Continue Reading

If Only We Had Free Energy

I thought I’d do a thought experiment. Suppose tomorrow morning a hypothetical university—let’s call it T.I.M.—sends out their weekly press release claiming a “revolutionary breakthrough” that will change the way we think about energy. Unlike every other time in the past decade they’ve made this claim, though, suppose this time it’s actually true: they’ve discovered … Continue Reading

Reversalism and Hedging Strategies

It seems there are many camps when it comes to our energy future. Some don’t think there’s a problem. Some think we’ll not only solve our problems, but produce even more energy more cleanly. Some think we’re doomed and have no chance of anything other than catastrophe. Some think we’re in for a long, slow … Continue Reading