In Conversation: Consumerism After Fossil Fuels

July 7, 2016

NOTE: Images in this archived article have been removed.

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The creation of the consumer economy—a complex, interconnected system of institutions, goals, rewards, and punishments—was one of the great social projects of the twentieth century, when energy was cheaply abundant and two of our chief economic problems were overproduction and unemployment. The transition to 100% renewable energy raises some key questions for the future of consumer culture and consumption-based economies. For instance:

  • What are the prospects of the consumer economy in this century, when we are changing our energy sources and also dealing with climate change, water scarcity, resource depletion, and overpopulation?
  • How will we create jobs if we’re not constantly expanding consumption?
  • What’s the future of advertising?
  • What are some of the best practices related to reducing consumption and waste that can serve as models as we move forward?
Live Discussion: Consumerism After Fossil Fuels

On June 30, 2016, Asher Miller and Richard Heinberg from Post Carbon Institute were joined by Annie Leonard (Greenpeace and Story of Stuff) and John de Graaf (Take Back Your Time, The Happiness Alliance) for a lively, free-flowing conversation about what the future of consumerism might look like in a 100% renewable energy future. The recording can be viewed below.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be hosting discussions with experts in various sectors to explore what the post fossil-fuel future. You can sign up for upcoming discussions by visiting



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Photo credit: joyfull/

Richard Heinberg

Richard is Senior Fellow of Post Carbon Institute, and is regarded as one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels. He is the author of fourteen books, including some of the seminal works on society’s current energy and environmental sustainability crisis. He has authored hundreds of essays and articles that have appeared in such journals as Nature and The Wall Street Journal; delivered hundreds of lectures on energy and climate issues to audiences on six continents; and has been quoted and interviewed countless times for print, television, and radio. His monthly MuseLetter has been in publication since 1992. Full bio at

Tags: Consumerism, energy consumption, Our Renewable Future