The Triple Crisis, Two Years On


One of my very first posts in 2010 was about what I called the triple crisis. As I noted back then “our economies are crumbling, our climate is warming and our energy supplies are getting scarcer.”

You would think that after two years, we would have started to do something about them. Well, from what I see, we haven’t. Unemployment is still high, we are still as reliant on oil and coal and our climate is getting weirder by the month.

On top of these crises, a fourth one has emerged: government debt. Our economies are completely broken as the richest are getting even richer and as more and more people are struggling.

We are now certain that we are beyond peak oil. The IEA announced it in its World Energy Outlook last November. Since conventional oil supply is not growing any more, any increase in oil supply will come from extreme oil. And with it more pollution per barrel of oil extracted.

Meanwhile, our climate continues to get warmer and weirder as more extreme weather events that have occurred in the past two years. From Texas to Thailand, from Europe to Australia and Brazil in South America, all our continents have been affected.

This would be worrying enough, but with positive mechanisms feedback such as the melting permafrost in Russia or the Amazon rainforest which started EMITTING greenhouse gases, the situation threatens to move from alarming to dire.

The Economist announced that we should  “Be afraid” in a recently published issue. Well, I am starting to be seriously worried for our common future, for my own future…

Solutions DO exist most fortunately:

Energy efficiency, conservation and sobriety can do wonders. This is why I am now preferring efficiency and sobriety over renewables… As we have less and less capital to spend and as a mechanism to engage our chronic unemployment, these mechanisms can do wonders.

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind and many others (geothermal or tidal among others) still have the potential to completely change our ways of life this decade, but they need to be paired with efficiency efforts and behavioral modifications.

Let’s hope we will apply them with the necessary scale and scope… Let’s make it happen in 2012 and after!

photo: Flickr

About Author

Fascinated by sustainability and cleantech since 2004, Edouard wrote both his Bachelor of Arts' dissertation and Master's thesis on sustainable energy topics. He haven't stopped writing on these subjects ever since. A French Master's graduate in international management, Edouard has had several experiences in Marketing and Communications in Europe. He worked for firms as diverse as a German water treatment company, a leading French business school and lately a Belgian automation specialist. He is currently for hire globally. Since 2007 Edouard has been selecting for his own blog the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, cleantech and the world energy sector. With over 1,600 published articles, he is read all over the world. On Cleantechies, Edouard has been proposing since June 2009 news articles and opinion pieces on on French and European policies. Don't hesitate to contact him as he is always interested in discussing with new people.

  • Olivier J

    Thank you for this interesting article.

    Regarding these crises, I think we have now gone past the “realization” stage and we are aware of what is at stake.

    But now we are facing another problem to overcome: the political will needed to impulse a large-scale change. What should we do in order to have our leaders (the guys we elected) taking action to solve these crises? Reforming governance in our countries and at international level will be huge work!

    PS: could the team correct the first link of the article ? It does not seem to direct me to the right entry about the “triple crisis”.