Tony Morley


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Tyler Cowen AMA

Preface: If we assume that a global zeitgeist of degrowth, anti-solutionism, pessimism, national tribalism, de-enlightenment, and de-globalization — creates a non-trivial risk to future human progress, then

Q: What might reasonably be done by the progress studies community to move the zeitgeist? Or is it too little, by too few, coming too late? It's sometimes difficult not to see the entirety of the progress movement as a drop in the ocean of doom-centric media.

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How is progress correlated with energy intensity?

When you ask questions like that, the name Vaclav is going to come up at least a few times, and Energy and Civilization was a titan of a book. The other book from Smil that I would have to recommend in line with your question would be "Grand Transitions How the Modern World Was Made" - Vaclav Smil, c2021

Another recent Smil book, slightly out of the scope of your question but still relevant, is "Numbers Don't Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World" - Smil c2021.

Note: Smil is a fellow Canadian, and I've had the opportunity to bounce emails around with him since 2018, when when I reached out to ask his take on some Tesla-related questions. While he's a truly brilliant thinker, a genuine world expert on energy, many books, including Rhodes's, took inspiration from his work — he is, from my perspective, become, or perhaps always was, glass-half-empty on the future of human civilization. I had the opportunity to interview him for an op-ed earlier in the year but didn't push it as I was somewhat worried it would result in an unrestrained dump on future progress.

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