Peak stuff? Peak Carbon? It’s happening, folks…
A headline in yesterday’s Guardian stopped me in my tracks:
UK consumes far less than a decade ago – ‘peak stuff’ or something else?
From crops to energy and metals, average material consumption fell from 15 tonnes in 2001 to just over 10 tonnes in 2013
That’s quite an incredible achievement, if the stats are credible (a criticism of how the consumption was counted from Prof Tim Jackson has since been removed from the article as the Prof seems to have got his facts wrong). But actually, I can believe it – the whole digital economy has boomed – ebooks, MP3s, Netflix, digital photos, online news etc, etc. Cars are getting more efficient, we shop online and my local corner shop owner complains he hardly sells any newspapers anymore (he only gets one or two copies of several titles). And yesterday, it was reported that an English plastic bag manufacturer had gone bust after the introduction of the plastic bag tax (a warning there will be losers as well as winners).
Add this to all the evidence that the clean energy revolution is also laying waste to vast tracts of the fossil fuel industry, despite low oil prices. Carbon emissions stalled in 2014. Clean Energy Canada reported yesterday that last year more money was invested globally in new renewable power than in new power from fossil fuels.
We are clearly moving into new territory – places of which many of us could only dream of a decade ago. Let us drive that wagon train onward to the promised land!