Physicist Bob Lloyd, Otago University NZ, wrote in Energy Policy 35 (2007) 5806–5818: The Growth Delusion: why we don’t want to believe in Peak Oil and Climate Change
Concern for the environment and a move towards “sustainable development” has assisted progress in a wide range of renewable energy technologies in recent years. The science suggests that a transition from fossil fuels to sustainable sources of energy in a time frame commensurate with the demise of the fossil fuels and prevention of runaway climate change is needed. However, while the movement towards sustainable energy technologies is underway the world does not want to give up the idea of continuing economic growth.
The transition will be difficult to achieve as nowhere within existing economic and political frameworks are the limits to when growth will be curtailed being set. It is possible that the irrational insistence on endless growth as a non negotiable axiom, by a large proportion of the world’s population, may in fact be akin to the similarly irrational belief, by a similarly large proportion of the world’s population, that a supernatural being controls our existence and destiny. The irrationality of religion has recently been examined by Richard Dawkins (2006) in “The God Delusion”. Dawkins’ book is used as a starting point to investigate similarities between a belief in God and a belief in continuous growth.
The world will run out of oil within a few decades, given rising demand and diminishing supplies, and the continued burning of fossil fuels sequestered for millions of years in the space of a century or so is leading to catastrophic consequences. In contrast, the November 2009 issue of Scientific American proposes that 100% energy availability meeting all of the world’s requirements can be satisfied from sustainable wind, water and solar sources by 2030. Do we have the wisdom to act? See “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030“.
A two-part study by Hacobson and Delucchi expands on that original draft study and will be published soon in Energy Policy:
1. Jacobson, M.Z., Delucchi, M.A., Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials. Energy Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.040 (PDF)
2. Delucchi,M.A., Jacobson,M.Z., Providing all global energy with wind,water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies. Energy Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.11.045