One hangover from the ultraliberal 1980s (during which the New Economy emerged from the wreck of " Keynesian economics ") is the myth or pious belief in so-called ‘supply side solutions’. The myth itself, however, was built on the real world, realpolitik process of first destroying demand.
Starting next week, shoppers and motorists will have to brace themselves for early closing times at department stores and petrol stations, as the government implements its latest set of energy-saving measures.
The plan involves three interacting strategies. One is a subsidy switch, in which industrial countries would eliminate government subsidies for fossil fuels and establish equivalent subsidies for renewable, non-carbon energy technologies. Another is a clean energy transfer fund, which entails creating a pool of money on the order of $300 billion a year to provide renewable energy technologies to developing countries. The last one is a progressively more stringent fossil fuel efficiency standard that rises by 5% per year; its adoption, perhaps within the Kyoto framework, could be complemented with the emissions trading mechanism to help nations meet it.
FARMERS in Pembrokeshire have launched a co-operative to produce, market and supply biofuels.
Amid predictions of long-term price hikes, the Gallop Government is already moving to reduce Western Australia's dependence on oil, according to Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
"Powerdown" is a strategy that will require tremendous effort and economic sacrifice in order to reduce per-capita resource usage in wealthy countries, develop alternative energy sources, distribute resources more equitably, and reduce the human population humanely but systematically over time.
Do we really need to embark upon another risky technological fix to solve the mistakes of a previous one? Instead, we should be looking for solutions that are based on ecological and biological principles and have significantly fewer environmental costs.
Even the most productive sustainable systems imaginable would never sustain large-scale cities, a global economy, and Western material affluence even if all the conventional energy conservation strategies were to be adopted. This is a bitter pill to swallow for Westerners raised on the notion of material progress.
Caryl Johnston argues that the Rare Earth Hypothesis is indispensable to the development of an ethic of stewardship in an era of energy descent.