Accidental Gods podcast

Drawing Humanity out of the Cave with Dr Simon Michaux (Part 2 of a series)

Rewind 15 seconds
Fast Forward 15 seconds

This week, we're returning to the second part of the ongoing series with Dr Simon Michaux. If you haven't listened to the first part, I'd recommend you do and I'll put the link in the show notes, but the edited highlight is that Simon is a mining engineer who is dedicated to crunching the numbers that nobody else bothers to crunch - of how much stuff there is: key stuff, like copper and lithium and cobalt and concrete - and where it comes from and how much power it takes to dig it up and move it around and where that power might come from. 

Our original plan for this 2nd part in our conversation was to explore Michaux' hierarchy of needs - the logistical things we'll need as we move to a low entropy, post-carbon, (which is to say, post-fossil-fuel) world. Everything in these conversations is predicated on the understanding that we've got to where we are by burning fossil fuels, which is to say concentrated ancient sunlight, laid down over millions of years - millions of years ago - and that this sudden access to vast quantities of readily transportable energy has changed who we are. Our civilisation is built on this stuff. But we haven't necessarily used it wisely. If I had time, I might write the counter-factual history where we discover oil in a culture that isn't predicated on power hierarchies and the accumulation of resources to the few by the many. But we don't live in that culture. We live in this one and we've burned more oil since 1995 than the whole of the rest of human history before that point. In doing so, we've brought ourselves to the point where the entire ecosystem on which we depend is breaking down and we need urgently to step back and think differently. 

Which is the entire point of this podcast - what does the thinking differently look like? How can we connect to the web of life in a way that allows us to play a constructive, regenerative part in a flourishing web? What are the spiritual and psychological and conceptual shifts this will take and how best can we make those shifts?

In all those questions, I've tended to take for granted, for instance, the idea that we need to shift to renewable sources of power without actually thinking about whether that was a logistical possibility. Which is where Simon comes in because he does think about these things and he has the numbers to back it up. He gave his baseline talk 91 times in 2022 - sharpening it at every iteration - and now he's talking at governmental level to people who are listening, even if they don't yet know quite what to do. Unless you're listening in Scandinavia, he is probably not talking to your government. But he should be. So part of the reason for continuing the conversation is so that we - all of us who care - can get our heads around reality and then we can use that understanding to create governance systems that work.

Link to Part 1 with Simon
Balanced Resource Economy Paper
Simon's Site
Alice Friedman site
Alice Friedman - When the Trucks Stop Running
The Venus Project
Sam Harris TED Talk on AI
Biomimicry Institute

More episodes from "Accidental Gods"