Fossil Fuel Futures
Smil’s take on the future of fossil fuels seems very similar to that of Steve Koonin (and thus BP), namely that there’s plenty of all of them in the ground for us to damn ourselves to a hothouse hell, if we should so desire. I’m not entirely sure whether this strikes me as an optimistic, or pessimistic statement, but I suspect it’s pessimistic. If we were forced to change our energy systems, I believe (unlike many Peak Oilers) that we would be up to the challenge, dramatically reducing demand without reducing our standard of living, increasing conversion efficiencies, and innovating our way out of the mess partly technologically, and partly socially. If, on the other hand, we have to choose to stop burning fossil fuels, I’m much less confident that we’ll do the right thing.