Tad Patzek: Our complex civilization will cease to exist 20-30 years from now

Tad Patzek. 9 July 2012. What to do?

Without the high energy density, fungible fuels flowing at high rates through our complex civilization, our society will cease to exist within 20-30 years from today.

A Public Agenda survey in 2009 found

  • Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39%) couldn’t name a fossil fuel.
  • Nearly half couldn’t name a renewable energy source.
  • More than half of the public (56%) says incorrectly that nuclear energy contributes to global warming.
  • About one-third of the public (31%) thinks solar energy contributes to global warming.

While the survey is a few years old, I am skeptical that public knowledge has improved all that much. Since my blog is dedicated to the issues of energy, society and ecology, I’ll only state that this particular ignorance is deadly for a society that makes no efforts to diversify itself away from personal automobiles and to densify its cities.

I am still waiting for a multitude of IPOs of manufacturing companies, oil companies, mineral mining companies, mass transit companies, computer hardware companies, organic farming companies, healthy food companies, solar water heater companies, or cheap drug companies; anything that would make me believe that there is a way to cure my beloved but confused country from the self-inflicted wounds.  These companies do not have to be big and should serve their local communities.

Dr. Tad Patzek is chairman of the Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.   Patzek works on the thermodynamics and ecology of human survival and energy supply schemes for humanity. He has participated in the global debate on energy supply schemes by giving hundreds of press interviews and appearing on the BBC, PBS, CBS, CNBC, ABC, NPR, etc., and giving invited lectures around the world.

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