The Cussedness of Whole Systems

There’s an interesting divergence between the extreme complexity of the predicament that besets contemporary industrial civilization, on the one hand, and the remarkable simplicity of the failures of reasoning that have sent us hurtling face first into that predicament, on the other. Nearly all of those failures share a common root, which is the inability—or at least the unwillingness—of most people in the modern world to pay attention to the natural cussedness of whole systems.

Energy – May 10

– Thomas Homer-Dixon: Exploring the climate “mindscape” (oil supplies and energy junk)
– Government influence is negative for energy fuel policy
– The German Switch from Nuclear to Renewables
– Scientists’ Arctic drilling plan aims to demystify undersea greenhouse gases
– Ancien directeur de TOTAL: Nouvelles découvertes et gaz de schiste retarderont à peine le pic pétrolier

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 a way of producing extremely cheap energy—as near to “free energy” as can be imagined.

Energy – Jan 11

– Biofuels become a victim of own success – but not for long
– Brazil, short of biofuel, can’t open spigot to US
– Keystone XL pipeline: Oil chief issues threat to Obama over decision
– Oil sands pipeline battle turns ugly
– Arab News: Renewables making inroads in emerging global energy mix

Energy – Dec 23

– Former oil expert from the IEA: decline of ‘all liquids’ soon after 2015 (in French)
– Nigeria on alert as Shell announces worst oil spill in a decade
– Shelling out the Oil in Waters off Nigeria: Radar Satellite Image December 21, 2011
– Oil Workers Rise Up in Kazakhstan, Face Brutal Crackdown
– MIT: The Chinese Solar Machine

ODAC Newsletter – Nov 4

In a year when chaos is beginning to feel like the norm, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s out of the blue announcement calling a referendum on the latest Euro bailout plan caught even the most jaded observers by surprise. Although it looks as if the idea has now been abandoned, the likelihood of a still more serious financial crisis has surely moved a step closer…