Our Renewable Future


Homo sapiens are thought to have undergone three major energy transitions previously: 1) the discovery of fire; 2) the agricultural revolution; and 3) the fossil fuel (industrial) revolution. It’s quite possible the renewable energy transition will be the fourth such major energy transformation. Photo credit: Wikimedia and Shutterstock.com.

Historically, major changes to energy systems have also led to enormous economic and political shifts. This suggests the renewable energy transition will entail much more than simply replacing coal power plants with solar panels and wind turbines. This raises some profound questions. For example:

  • How will our food system evolve as we reduce fossil fuel inputs?
  • Who will be the economic winners and losers from the energy transition?
  • Will a renewable future be more equitable or less equitable?
  • Are our current governing institutions capable of managing the energy transition?
  • What changes to our homes and public buildings can we anticipate?

Post Carbon Institute explored these and other key questions about our renewable future with experts in a number of relevant fields: food, justice, consumerism, the economy, buildings & communities, and technology. These conversations—conducted live via webcast, with audience participation—were not meant to provide the answers, but rather surface promising ideas, proven models, and most important, get us all thinking.