On the odd occasion my online meanderings bring forth something relevant to the CONVERGE project. In the case of Low-Tech Magazine, I came accross it via a facebook status-update. According to the update: Low-Tech magazine 'refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution'; well that seemed sensible, so I read on. The article in low-tech magazine which caught my eye was "How (not) to resolve the energy crisis". It describes how regardless of all the wonderful renewable technology out there, we are increasingly dependent on fossil fuels.
Screen shot from: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/11/renewable-energy-is-not-enough.html.
Much as I have some niggles about the content of this article, (for example the European Union’s emission target of 20% by 2020 – surely they have a role) I do think that the concept the author is getting at can be transferred to many of the resources that the CONVERGE project may explore. Examples can be gleamed from the fisheries industry, or forestry, or access to development land in the face of growing population. What I got out of this article is that: No matter how much we attempt to improve technology, until we can pause our use of these resources (side thought - and in many cases restore their capacity to renew themselves) we forge onwards towards their exhaustion, often with no substitute available.
The author demonstrates that it’s the rules of the system that really need a fix:
Changing the rules of the system - capping energy production, or fish consumption, or wood consumption, even if impermanent could be a valuable step towards a sustainable society. There's endless research to be done around this concept of capping the consumption of finite or slow-to-renew resources, and we are just at the begining of our work here with the CONVERGE project. Lets hope this article can remind the CONVERGE team to focus on our original challenges and not get lost in technical fixes.
Many thanks to Kris De Decker for his article. To read the article in full go to: http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/11/renewable-energy-is-not-enough.html