They expected the industrial era to end with the burning of the last coal.
|Increasing awareness of the health implications|
of the carbon particles in the air, which can
cause heavy smog, is one of the internal drivers
for China’s transition away from fossil fuels.
Modern economic development has been built on intense use of fossil energy. Leading nineteenth and early twentieth century thinkers focusing on the future of human civilisation and the economy, from Jevons to Weber, thought that the benefits of the modern industrial economy depended on the availability of fossil energy to continue.
Australian pioneer of development economics Colin Clark noted in his seminal Conditions of Economic Progress in 1940 that we would need to find other sources of energy to allow modern economic development to continue after we had returned to the air as much fossil carbon as was consistent with stable atmospheric conditions.
Clark suggested that sustainable substitutes would be found for fossil energy, and that we seek them in the fast-growing Australian eucalypt or new technology built on recent developments in silicon physics.
Read the Pursuit story by Professor Ross Garnaut from the University of Melbourne - “Energy transition in China and Australia.”