- As the world’s higher-quality fossil fuel reserves rapidly deplete, no combination of alternative energy sources is likely to be sufficient to sustain industrial society at its present scale. Energy supply problems, perhaps severe, are likely during the coming decade.
- Fossil fuels and high quality uranium ores are depleting rapidly; world oil production may already have peaked. Present expectations for new technological replacements are probably overly optimistic with regard to ecological sustainability, potential scale of development, and levels of ‘net energy’ gain.
- Certain energy production systems suffer from low or negative net energy gain; these include most biofuels, hydrogen systems, oil shale, tar sands, and biomass, some of which also present unacceptable environmental.
- Limits to future energy supply are more dramatic if environmental impacts are considered including accelerating climate change, fresh water scarcity, destruction of food-growing lands, and shortages of minerals.
- Given the above, it is necessary to prepare societies for dramatic shifts in consumption and lifestyle expectations. It will also be necessary to promote a new ethic of conservation throughout the industrial world. A sharp reversal of today’s globalisation of commercial activity must be anticipated and facilitated, and government leaders must encourage a rapid evolution toward economies based on localism.
- The emphasis by policy makers on growth as the central goal and measure of modern economies is no longer practical or viable, as growth will be limited by both energy shortages and by society’s inability to continue venting energy production and consumption wastes (principally, CO2) into the environment without catastrophic consequences.
- With energy supplies diminishing, raw material resources similarly depleting, and crises such as climate change rapidly advancing; the long-term goal of satisfying the needs of the world’s poorest peoples, in their attempts to recover from centuries of colonialism, resource exploitation, and removal from traditional lands and economies, becomes ever more daunting.
- These factors must all be taken very seriously by policy makers in all countries, that have thus far failed to be realistic about what will be required to avoid future social and economic breakdowns and geopolitical crises, as countries and peoples compete for dwindling resources.
The study was carried out by the Post Carbon Institute, a think tank that works toward a transition to a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable world.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/16112009/fossil_fuels_cannot_be_replaced_by_alternative_energy_systems/