Peak Oil, Peak Innovation, and Sustainable Notions
When consumption will only increase and production will only decrease, we've hit peak-oil. It's fairly easy to understand and most economists and resource managers acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the historic event. Much more difficult to appreciate or acknowledge is the parallel notion of peak-innovation.. Several researchers of innovation have suggested by the end of this year, we'll have hit peak-innovation: when consumption of innovation will only increase and production of innovation will only decrease.
The main reason it's difficult to accept is because of the recent exponential growth rate of technology in most practical disciplines: medicine, nanotechnology, cybernetics, communications, transportation,.. However, there is a notable lack of growth in disciplines such as: math, physics, chemistry,.. This is understandable considering the nature and requirements of each discipline regarding humanity. Math, physics, and chemistry are there to explain 'why'. Medicine, cybernetics, and communications are there to serve humankind efficiently and 'optimally' according to ever-changing criteria. Again, understandable and forgivable (in both directions) considering the discipline-requirements placed on them by humanity.
What is not realistic are our expectations regarding technological innovation. Most of us have this 'sense' somehow: technology will save us from ourselves (our fatal environmental mistakes): our abuse of petroleum-based products which are unsustainable simply from a consumption perspective. When we consider the myriad environmental impacts, they're doubly unsustainable: most plastics, artificial fertilizers, gasoline, too much of plastics go unrecycled, artificial fertilizers effectively sterilize soil, and gasoline is the prime commodity. Whenever that happens to consumers and transportation both, it becomes a stranglehold on our civilization distracting us from other more important things like peak-innovation.
If you're a fan of organic gardening, you know a mild soap solution works as an effective pesticide and fungicide. This author is unaware of effective organic herbicides (other than fingers). But please see the difference in approach to gardening/farming: organic gardeners/farmers want more natural / biodegradable solutions to their problems. To use a toxic non-biodegradable solution to a problem goes against the principles of organic cultivation. We desperately need organic innovation. This author's point is: the notions are not only sustainable but also eminently profitable! It seems difficult to convince Wall Street investors of this fact.
If we can accept the notion of peak-innovation, very soon we'll be reaching that point (of course, we'll be reaching that point whether we recognize it or not). What this means historically is this: inventions will continue to be developed but at a decreasing rate – eventually petering out completely. Ideally, we'll invent fusion propulsion for spacecraft long before this point and won't be restricted to a single habitable planet any longer.. Many years ago, this author proposed terraforming Mars or Venus for human habitation. But if we keep repeating our environmental mistakes, there's no point.
Last night, this author viewed a wonderful video about Jacque Fresco and his amazingly prophetic ideas. There was only one point of the video this author 'disagrees with': imposing the blend of technology and sustainability on the human population. He seemed to imagine everyone in the future will prefer to live in these high-tech naturalized cities. What about those families who want to be totally independent from 'the grid'? We cannot criminalize or even snub this kind of behavior; in a global melt-down scenario, the only likely survivors will be these 'preppers'. From one perspective, they're 'giving up on humanity'; from another, they're champions. This author prefers the latter.
Jacque Fresco has some other ideas which this author will attempt to pursue independently: ion / electrostatic propulsion of aircraft – and – air-vortex support of aircraft. What dumbfounds this author is the insanely prolific number of inventions developed by Jacque and our neglect of them. Sure, our Navy has taken his bubble-scheme to increase the speed of submarines in a pinch, but by-and-large, we've ignored the bulk and attribution to Jacque. Therefore out of necessity, this article is dedicated to Jacque Fresco and his wonderful inventions which we've barely accessed.
It's perfectly fitting we recognize Jacque in an article about peak-innovation. This author doubts Jacque would admit such a notion – being a fountain of innovation that he was. Forgive me Jacque, this author just noticed he's still alive! If he's not totally 'gone', we need to ask him some questions before he goes!
can we develop his modularized habitats without use of plastics? How?
can he please develop a prototype family-air-car that does not use gasoline?
can he please invent an aluminum smelting process that is much less energy intensive?
can he please prototype self-repairing vehicles?
As this author is similar to Jacque being an 'idea guy' himself, he realizes that: to say one thing is interesting; to develop a working prototype is miraculous. We must forgive Jacque and this author in that rarely were our ideas backed/financed to be able to arrive at working prototypes. But this neither forgives the inventors nor investors for not pursuing critically needed inventions such as listed above.. If we want Jacque's vision of the future, or even just parts of it, we need to develop and make affordable those key technologies listed above.
Salvatore Micheal, RIO cofounder, 2012/OCT/07