Our understanding of innovation has been shaped by decades of growth in the rate by which we can extract environmental resources. Now that conventional oil reserves are no longer flowing as readily, what does this do to how our modern civilization thinks about innovation? Do the innovations of the future involve faster processors and further advances is silicon materials or will it encompass something entirely different? Can we achieve sustainability through innovating?

In Extraenvironmentalist #44 we discuss the archeology of innovation with Sander van der Leeuw to learn how our complex societies have shifted short-term risks to long-term risks through the application of technologies. Sander explains how our complex societies developed and describes why our previous models of innovation may not address issues of sustainability. We ask if the genius factor can have a role in developing the breakthroughs necessary to preserve our species or if we’ll need to look for other models of development. Then, we travel to Salt Spring Island, BC to meet Amy and Larry who innovated in low-energy models of living by living off the grid for fourteen years in California.