2 May 2006
What Exactly IS Energy Descent?
The term ‘energy descent’ is being used more and more to describe the period beyond the peak in world oil production. The concept is simple enough, the upwards left-hand side of the Hubbert curve we might call ‘energy ascent’, where each year there is more and more oil and gas available. Beyond the peak we can call it ‘energy descent’, where there is less and less available each year. For the paper I am writing at the moment I am looking to define what this much flung-about term actually means. I am attempting to draft a definition, and I would very much welcome your thoughts and input.
The initiators of the concept (although I have yet to find anywhere where he uses the actual term) were Howard T. Odum and his wife Elisabeth C. Odum who wrote “that the way down can be prosperous is the exciting viewpoint whose time has come. Descent is a new frontier to approach with zeal … if everyone understands the necessity of the whole society adapting to less, then society can pull together with a common mission to select what is essential. Presidents, governors, and local leaders can explain the problem and lead society in a shared mission. Millions of people the world over, if they see the opportunity, can be united in the common quest for a prosperous way down. The alternative is a world of selfish battles for whatever resources remain