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The Ecotechnic Future

July 21, 2010

Here’s a book I’m going to add to my reading list – the author does dress as a druid, but that’s no something I’m going to hold against him 🙂 it’s the quality of ideas that count – and these are big ideas:

Greer’s newest book, The Ecotechnic Future, builds on The Long Descent by sketching out some of the likely dimensions of the future that Greer believes lies on the other side of our descent. It doesn’t devote much space to explaining why our civilization is headed for collapse, or describing how people can prepare on the individual and community levels, since these were covered in his earlier book. Instead, in a series of chapters with straightforward titles like “Food,” “Home,” “Community” and “Culture,” it takes an in-depth look at the kinds of changes that we can expect in these and other aspects of our lives as industrial civilization winds down.

What, exactly, is the “ecotechnic future” to which the title refers? Well, to begin with, it’s a play on the phrase “technic society,” a term coined to describe the modern world that came into being following the Industrial Revolution. Greer’s conception of the technic society is that it’s the first human society powered primarily by nonfood energy, rather than by the food energy that has sustained, for example, the far-more-stable hunter-gatherer societies that have existed throughout history. The phase of the technic society coming to an end with the advent of peak oil is one that Greer refers to as “abundance industrialism,” in which humanity has used the immense energy contained in cheap, abundant fossil fuels to maximize the production of goods and services at the expense of gross inefficiency. In contrast, the ecotechnic society that Greer sees as the inevitable successor to abundance industrialism is one that relies wholly on renewable energy resources, and that places a premium on using them as efficiently as possible at the expense of reduced access to goods and services.

Druid Greer!

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