When speculative bubbles form, as they did in the 1920s and the late 1990s, the financial community invariably listens to academic entrepreneurs peddling their pet philosophies about the financial boom.
In the 21st century, burning hydrocarbons is critical to achieving the economic expansion that is needed to support the billions of new people who are projected to inhabit the planet. Yet chasing that growth could throw so much carbon into the atmosphere that it may undermine humanity’s very survival.
TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $7.6 billion Keystone pipeline system, which would take crude from Alberta’s tar sands down through the Midwest and on to Texas and the Gulf Coast refineries, could be scuttled because of concerns about its potential impact on a major aquifer in Nebraska.
For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world’s economies.
In the autumn of 1977, John Mariani and his new wife, Galina, took a culinary drive across the U.S. that ground to a halt in Birmingham, Alabama, when a waitress in velveteen shorts served up a really terrible steak.
The world economy will face shocks and depressions, punctuated by ever-shorter and weaker recoveries, as long as it relies on outdated fossil fuels, says Jeremy Rifkin, author of “The Third Industrial Revolution.”