Editor's note: The author presents a definitive essay. Learn why:
• "Those who expect to get by with 'victory gardens' are unaware of the arithmetic involved."
• "There are already too many people to be supported by non-mechanized agriculture."
• "To meet the world's present energy needs by using solar power, then, we would need... a machine the size of France. The production and maintenance of this array would require vast quantities of hydrocarbons, metals, and other materials -- a self-defeating process. Solar power will therefore do little to solve the world's energy problems."
• "In a milieu of social chaos, what are the chances that the oil industry will be using extremely advanced technology to extract the last drops of oil? "
Peter Goodchild's new book The Coming Chaos will be appearing shortly.
- Jan Lundberg, Culture Change
Modern industrial society is based on a triad of hydrocarbons, metals, and electricity. The three are intricately connected; each is accessible only if the other two are present. Electricity, for example, can be generated on a global scale only with hydrocarbons. The same dependence on hydrocarbons is true of metals; in fact the better types of ore are now becoming depleted, while those that remain can be processed only with modern machinery and require more hydrocarbons for smelting. In turn, without metals and electricity there would be no means of extracting and processing hydrocarbons. Of the three members of the triad, electricity is the most fragile, and its failure serves as an early warning of trouble with the other two [6, 7].