Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time Constraints

We may have less than ten years to bring new energy and manufacturing technologies into common use.

“Peak oil” experts and my own projections of energy production rates indicate that oil production will reach a maximum within ten years and then rapidly decline. Over the past 30 years, populations of other species have declined by over 30 percent (by my projections, the fraction may be as high as a half), and the pace is increasing. One of the greatest impacts of pollution on the environment, global warming, may reach a point soon where it is self-sustaining; and experts predict that we must drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases within a decade to keep from reaching that point (and the costs of not doing so could be catastrophic).

An economic change of this magnitude is unlikely to occur without a huge increase in demand for products and services based on the new technologies, and a corresponding decrease in demand for what people are currently buying. Demand is unlikely to grow based on just utility: New products and services are likely to be viewed as highly expensive replacements (expensive because the supply is comparatively low). Potential consumers must perceive additional value that justifies the difference in price.

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