The above title was an open lecture given by a professor. I was glad I saw a notice for it. By the time I arrived, five minutes before the start of the lecture, the lecture theatre was already packed. I got a seat on the edge of an aisle. People who arrived after me sat on the stairs and on the floor around the doors. The rules for fire hazard were disregarded, which made it comparable with the lecture I attended when Lord Professor Robert Winston spoke.

I started taking notes and filled a page before my pen informed me that I had passed Peak Ink and it needed a new cartridge. (Note to self: buy new cartridge for pen, signed, Andrew.)

Essentially the best estimates make this the year of peak oil. From now on there will only be less oil. For civilisation’s sake we need to start moving to renewable energy sources now. We need a 20 year period to make the transfer. New Zealand is pretty lucky that we do have alternative forms of energy that are easily accessible. We are looking into wind and tidal production already.

The bad news is that we won’t make the transfer. It involves a complete change in thinking. The market won’t let us because it lies awake at night thinking about all the lovely money it can drain out of us as we pay more and more through the nose for fuel. Economists have deliberately forgotten to think that there are alternatives to growth. In a finite world ‘sustainable development’ is as big a contradiction as ‘military intelligence’ or ‘Microsoft works’. To allow the developing world nations to survive and stabilise population growth the first world must surrender its own production.

Otherwise it will not be those who plan ahead who survive the collapse of our technologies and population, it will be the strong.

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