Editorial: Hmm, let’s see. Now that didn’t work, didn’t it? That at least is clear. But why? And what do we do now?

Editor’s Note. Paris, 25 May 2018.

Dear readers, friends and colleagues,

This ambitious collaborative web project “Ayres on Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth” has been in existence for close to four full years now.  And over this time despite the potential of tremendous content and burning issues, and considerable effort on our part, it has failed to take off.  At least to the degree that the subject merits.  What went wrong?  And where should we go from here?

Making a web platform like this work — highly technical content, including a fair dose of abstract  topics and analytic approaches which require a well prepared audience to be meaningful — is no easy task. And all the more so in this era of crushing information overload.  But that would be a poor excuse.

The main shortcoming thus far has been that we have simply failed to give it sufficient time, commitment, touch and content  — or regularity, — to win over the kind and size of audience which the work and findings of Ayres and his distinguished colleagues deserve in their own work in these complex inter-related spheres of, once again, Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth,..

A choice to make

So here it is the merry month of May 2018 and we now have a have a choice to make.  Either we really get down to work at the level of originality, commitment and performance which this informed public conversation on these critical issues deserves . . .  or we count the spoons, do our accounts, and close the whole operation down.

At the very least there is one thing I can definitely promise you,  And that is that we shall under no circumstances continue in this half-hearted distracted manner, which to our discredit has been the case up to now.

So to sort this out, we are starting today with a hiatus though the month of June at the end of which we do our analysis, run the numbers, look at what we have (and could have), engage our critical discussions and draw our conclusions.

During this period we will leave the site on-line as is, in the hope that some of our readers, colleagues and friends may wish to have a look, and share their ideas and critical suggestions with us as we gear up to make the final decision.

We look forward with real interest to hearing from you.


# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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4 thoughts on “Editorial: Hmm, let’s see. Now that didn’t work, didn’t it? That at least is clear. But why? And what do we do now?

  1. Hi Eric, yes it is a lot of work to launch a platform especially given the considerable amount of noise around on the internet these days. I think it is certainly essential to continue. My suggestions include the following:

    1. Partners – who ? How can we leverage the content to engage a partner who will raise the profile of our work ?
    2. Focus – what ? The storyline, the zeitgeist. How to identify what the headline is, to make sure it is a relevant response to a story that is playing out now.

    Of course perhaps the main problem is that we are all doing “other stuff”, myself trying to manage a small start-up, which is all-time-consuming.

    I suggest a stronger link to the exergy-economics group that has formed between Leeds, IST Lisbon and others.



  2. Very encouraging and helpful Benjamin. In the coming days I intend to prepare a “work and reflection” note to be sent to a fairly consequent group of old friends and colleagues inviting their reactions and eventual inputs. Then will work on it over June with the idea of coming up with something solid and engaging by early July.. I’ll be posting the process here, tough in the meantime I do not anticipate any new substantive postings. But one never knows. /eric


  3. Good stuff. Here is an idea on content. What I find is that many of Bob’s working papers and publications were so far ahead of their time that just now they are really coming to be of considerable relevance. I would task MSc / PhDs to reflect on the relevance of these works in light of their studies as oped pieces. This oped / social media writing skill is something many are keen to develop and will need in the future. This would be a great opportunity for them to contribute. Similar tasks could be assigned to industry followers.


  4. Well I cannot understand why anyone should vote for Trump either, but enough do, and they still like him even as he robs his supporters blind. So I have no clue about human psychology

    People basically think they have heard our message before (since 1970 for older ones), what was predicted did not occur and therefore we are disqualified to have an opinion. My email inbox is about half filled with various usually ridiculous technical salvations for all of us and about half filled with financial or debt or social apocalyptic assessments and not too much in the middle. Meanwhile society and its leaders acts basically as if peak oil was a misdiagnosis, solved by technology, (rather than has been delayed by a decade or possibly two), limits to growth has been disproven (it has not — see Graham Palmer’s analysis among others), market interference is to be avoided and growth remains an indefinite probability and will solve all problems. There are a number of very thoughtful assessments (Tverberg, Bardi, Mearns, Martenson, Ayres) with their own followers but that have little impact on policy, even to the extent of undertaking good government studies about all this. I think we might combine forces as suggested, but in a sense this has happened (100 or 1000 scientists signing apocalyptic things ) and the Queen Mary has not shifted course an inch.

    The increasing price of gasoline, possibly the tip of the iceberg, gives us a little leverage. Maybe if it goes up to $100 a barrel and stays for a while we will get some attention. Or maybe not. One would conclude from Tainter and others that civilizations cannot see their demise or even major problems and have no mechanism to do so, let alone respond intelligently.

    For every one of us there are 100 economists who have a completely different mind set who will, if not negate what we say, at least give a different set of mechanisms (even if they work only while oil is cheap). So I have worked on writing books teaching BioPhysical economics to our young people, but of course that has not had any particular impact either, although now and then I get a nice email out of nowhere.

    I am now 75, listened to Ehrlich and the Meadows in grad school and had no children, about which I am pretty happy. I continue to write a lot, mostly because I like to write and think I have useful insights. My concerns are about the social consequences of what I see as the inevitable resource contraction (although not necessarily collapse), as best put forth by Nafeez Ahmed’s book: Failing States, Collapsing Systems: Biophysical triggers of social violence. So I think maybe our job is to understand these things and to continue to try to get them out so that if and as they occur the power does not shift to the demagogues, if it is not too late…..



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