Our energy future will be defined by limits, and by the way we respond to those limits. Human beings can certainly live within limits: the vast majority of human history played out under conditions of relative stasis in energy consumption and economic activity; it is only in the past two centuries that we have seen spectacular rates of growth in economic activity, energy and resource consumption, and human population. Thus, a deliberate embrace of limits does not amount to the end of the world, but merely a return to a more normal pattern of human existence. We must begin to appreciate that the 20th century’s highly indulgent, over-consumptive economic patterns were a one-time only proposition, and cannot be maintained.
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