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Is our species capable of looking ahead to prepare for the potentially disastrous results of larger trends? While daily existence has always presented challenges, modern civilization uses advanced technologies to address problems. Yet, is our ability to problem solve the very problem itself? What if the technology we’re developing is increasing our reliance on a strategy yielding rapidly diminishing returns? Though a general understanding of complexity eludes us, are there ways of feeling it in our day-to-day life?
In Extraenvironmentalist #31 we speak with Dr. Joseph Tainter about collapse, complexity and energy. Dr. Tainter recently co-authored Drilling Down which explains why the BP Gulf Oil spill occurred in terms of the complexity that supports supports our society. We discuss concepts of complexity, energy and a meaningful definition of sustainability. In our conversation, Dr. Tainter covers the dynamics of the Roman Empire as it moved further down the road of collapse; debasing its currency and unraveling due the expenses of foreign wars. Seth and I ask if energy alternatives exist that can support civilization, such as solar photovoltaics or wind power. If they can’t, are we trapped in a complexity spiral with no way out?
// Music (in order of appearance)
Sinnitus Tempo – C’est La Vie via Elbo.ws
Penguin Prison – Multimillionaire (Shook Remix) via Et Musique Pour Tous
Miike Snow – Devil’s Work via Pretty Much Amazing
DJ Shadow – Scale It Back ft. Little Dragon (Robotaki Remix) via The Music Ninja
Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek (ENiGMA Remix) via The Music Ninja
// Extended Clips (in order of appearance)
Shopping Seizes Minds, Leaves No Room for News
Bill Rees – How to Convince People to Face Reality
Richard Heinberg on Transition
Thomas Homer-Dixon on Civilization Far From Equalibrium
// Additional Links
Jamie of Steppin’ Off the Edge interviews KMO and Justin about collapse
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