“This will be the defining reality of your lives. Whatever field you go into—business, finance, engineering, transportation, agriculture, education, or entertainment—your experience will be shaped by the energy transition that is now under way. The better you understand this, the more effectively you will be able to contribute to society and make your way in the world.
We are at one of history’s great turning points. During your lifetime you will see world changes more significant in scope than human beings have ever witnessed before. You will have the opportunity to participate in the redesign of the basic systems that support our society—our energy system, food system, transport system, and financial system.
I say this with some confidence, because our existing energy, food, transport, and financial systems can’t be maintained under the circumstances that are developing—circumstances of fossil fuel depletion and an unstable climate. As a result, what you choose to do in life could have far greater implications than you may currently realize.
Over the course of your lifetime society will need to solve some basic problems:
- How to grow food sustainably without fossil fuel inputs and without eroding topsoil or drawing down increasingly scarce supplies of fresh water;
- How to support 7 billion people without depleting natural resources—including forests and fish, as well as finite stocks of minerals and metals; and
- How to reorganize our financial system so that it can continue to perform its essential functions—reinvesting savings into socially beneficial projects—in the context of an economy that is stable or maybe even shrinking due to declining energy supplies, rather than continually growing.
Each of these core problems will take time, intelligence, and courage to solve. This is a challenge suitable for heroes and heroines, one that’s big enough to keep even the greatest generation in history fully occupied. If every crisis is an opportunity, then this is the biggest opportunity humanity has ever seen.”
Richard Heinberg – Post Carbon Institute – graduation address to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA 5.14.11
He gave this address because the leaders of the school invited Rex Tillerson CEO of Exxon to give the commencement address. The student body didn’t agree and demanded that an opposing viewpoint to more carbon death. I don’t know what the multimillionaire Mr. Tillerson said, but you can read what humble Mr. Heinberg said here.