I was lucky enough to attend the 4th Annual Biophysical Economics conference held this year at UVM. This three day event featured some of the most notable names in Ecological and Biophysical Economics. Such as Dennis Meadows author of Limits to Growth, Christopher Martenson author of, The Crash Course, and Charlie Hall, founder of Biophysical Economics, a field that focuses more on the biophysical effects of what we are doing to our planet. A field that is, in his own words, “sustainable sustainability”. These individuals and many other brilliant speakers gave several presentations over the three day event, subjects ranging from oil depletion, to food security, to gas taxes, to energy return on investment (EROI). This was a truly transformative experience to listen to professors, economists, physicists, and environmentalists and see how many facts there are that prove our economic system is killing the planet.
Dennis Meadows and all of the work he has done with exponential graphs told us that we are long past peak oil and on a steep downslope towards running out of our most important resource. Chris Martenson illustrates the “three E’s” Energy, Environment, and Economy. He showed how they all tie together to make up a super complex system and how the only way one can grow is by taking away from the other two. The way we have rapidly grown our economy rapidly depletes our energy and destroys our natural environment at an unprecedented rate. Charlie Hall gave us a chart that describes how high our EROI needs to be in order to maintain the way of life we have grown accustomed to. A way of life that is impossible to maintain without oil. A way of life that even if oil was infinite would destroy our planet as it already is doing.
This information is just the tip of the iceberg but it would require a whole new blog to truly delve into the world changing implications of this conference. Luckily there are a few of those http://www.theoildrum.com/ and http://www.peakprosperity.com/learn and many more can be found through these websites and the networks they have created. I want to leave you with one small experience that had a major impact on me and hopefully will resonate with you also. I was talking with this eighty-something year old retired professor and I asked him how he got involved with all of this and he looked me right in the eye and said “I am trying to figure out how to save my family.”
By Tucker Malone, Class of 2016