A Primer for the Post-Carbon World


Originally posted on Greenbiz.com

"When is comes to controversial issues, population is in a class by itself. Activist working to reduce global population growth are attacked by the Left for supposedly ignoring human-rights issues or glossing over Western over-consumption. They are attacked by the Right for supposedly favoring widespread abortion and promiscuity. Others think the problem will be solved by technology.

One thing is certain: The planet and its resources are finite and it can not support an infinite population of humans or any other species. A second thing is also certain: The issue of population is too important to avoid just because it is controversial."

Thus begins a fantastic, and chilling, chapter entitled "Population: The Multiplier of Everything Else" by WIlliam Ryerson of the Population Media Center in a must-read book entitled The Post-Carbon Reader, edited by Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch. Heinberg is well-known for popularizing the Peak Oil concept and is Senior Fellow-in-Residence at the Post Carbon Institute.

The Post Carbon Institute has gathered 29 of the world's leading experts to point the way to a more resilient, just, and sustainable world. The Post-Carbon Reader is a comprehensive, in-depth examination of the inter-connected sustainability crises humanity now faces. Rather than just being a gloom and doom book representative of the genre, each author brings forth solutions and positive trends affected the issue about which they write.

It can be challenging to bear witness to the enormity of the challenges associated with providing food, water, and energy to a growing worldwide population. Sustainability advocates can veer towards pessimism and hopelessness in the face of so much discouraging news. On the other hand, there are many smart and passionate communicators, policy analysts, futurists and activist remind us that positivity is a renewable resource; the mass transformation we are seeking will come from a positive view of the future, not from fear.

Many current media stories about the financial meltdown have asked the question "How could this happen? Why didn't anyone see it coming?" However, many people did see the warning signs arise as early as 2005 and started asking pointed questions about the sustainability of the housing boom and sub-prime lending. The contributors to the Post Carbon Reader are in a similar position. While it may be easy to dismiss their warning about upcoming shortages of all the basic materials upon which modern society is based, we would be wise to heed their cry and study their solutions. The Post Carbon Institute is doing great work to popularize realistic solutions to the world's biggest problems.

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