Saturday, March 7, 2009

If you want to understand what's coming

Yes, the future is hard to predict. But that cliched truism doesn't mean that you can't look at the present trends and extrapolate intelligently to set some boundaries on what the future would likely produce. After all, unless the aliens come, we know that we live on a finite planet, we have a fair to good understanding of many important physical laws that will continue to govern how things work on this finite planet, etc.

So read this article. It explains one hell of a lot about what we can expect. And it ends well, pointing out that the future trends need not portend disaster -- it's our choice about how to respond. We can try to cling to business as usual, pouring more and more of our efforts into propping up a society that requires abundant, cheap energy in ever greater quantities, or we can adopt gracefully to the future that is fairly clearly before us:
Despite his gloomy outlook on oil supplies, Brown strikes a hopeful note. He thinks the world can manage the needed downsizing once people abandon their faith in the myth of perpetual economic growth. Having done that, they can band together with their neighbors and fellow citizens and create a new low-energy society that he believes could end up making us healthier--we'll have to walk and bicycle more--and more connected to our neighbors with whom we'll have to work closely to make our communities work.

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