The Beginning of the End of the Fossil Fuel Era.
In March in this space I wrote a column called “A Major Energy Transition Has Begun”. The key point was my forecast that:
“We are at the very beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. The use of fossil fuels will continue for decades but 2015-2017 will be looked back upon as the transition from growth to long slow decline.”
I then explained the dynamics that clearly pointed to this statement suggested what economic and geo-political upheavals this would cause. I urge you to read that full column.
The reason for this follow-up column is something else I wrote:
“When it becomes clear around 2020 that the fossil fuel era is indeed in full out decline, the large energy companies will face a completely new reality. They will be perceived as short-term investments. This means they will have to increase dividends, which will be hard, or to invest in the only energy sector experiencing double-digit growth; alternative and renewable energy. They will use the scale and financial resources they still have to move deeply into new forms of energy.”
The Financial Times just published an editorial urging the oil industry to:
“Face a future of slow and steady decline”
The editorial board went further to say:
“Instead of railing against climate policies, or paying them lip-service while quietly defying them with investment decisions, the oil companies will serve their investors and society better if they accept the limits they face, and embrace a future of long-term decline,” the editorial board wrote.
The FT, founded in 1888, quickly became known as “the stock broker’s bible” so this observation comes from as traditional a media voice of investing as there is.
As a futurist I am constantly making forecasts about what lies ahead. Some of the time, particularly when I make a bold, hard to imagine forecast, I get rolling eyes, doubt or push back. That is why I am so thrilled that a 125- year-old publication known as “stock broker’s bible” has come to the same conclusion.
For 200 years we have lived in the fossil fuel age. It is now beginning its’ decline. It will take two to three decades for the usage of extraction energy to decline to 20% of overall energy use. The Carbon Combustion Complex will no longer have the total power it used to have. We are beginning our escape from it.
In my last column here I wrote about how the country of Portugal was able to derive all its electricity from renewable energy for a period longer that four days in a row. The title of that column was “The First Time Something is Achieved it Changes Consciousness”. The point being that having an entire country go for four straight days with no electricity derived from fossil fuels creates that as a reality that can happen.
So we have a country that can be powered without fossil fuels for several days. We have one of the major financial publications in the world acknowledging that the future of fossil fuels is one of decline. Soon the signals, signs, trends, events and thinking will become a tsunami that changes the way humanity thinks about fossil fuel.
As regular readers of this column know, my seventh book, co-authored with planetary ethicist Tim Rumage, is called “This Spaceship Earth”. The writing of this book led to the creation of a global non-profit to create crew consciousness on This Spaceship Earth. Please take a look at the newly launched beta version of the web site.
The name of the book and the non-profit came from R. Buckminster Fuller’s use of the term spaceship earth in in 1960s book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”. In it, he said that we have been given this precious place to live, spaceship earth, but that it didn’t come with an operating manual. He said that we had to develop one quickly and that it had to be based on something other than fossil fuels. His follow up book was “Utopia or Oblivion” that suggested that in several decades, which this futurist perceives to be now, humanity would approach a fork in the road; utopia or oblivion.
The non-profit was launched in the clear view that climate change could well be oblivion. Living at the mercy of the Carbon Combustion Complex has already started us down the path to oblivion. Hope has arrived with the forecast and acceptance that the end of the fossil fuel era has begun.
We must use this turning point as a reason to create urgency for all of us to first develop crew consciousness, to then think as crew and then to act as crew, collectively. There is now a clear path to developing a growing collaboration of stewardship of This Spaceship Earth, the only home of humanity.
The new Era of Energy has begun!