To the Ends of the Earth
At the top of the pyramid, energy is easy to find and cheap, and it requires minimal labour and has the highest capital and energy return on investment, as in the case of Saudi oil. In the middle of the pyramid, resources are more difficult and costly to extract, as in the case of the Alberta tar sands and shale gas:
“Drill, baby, drill” has become “mine, baby, mine,” “steam, baby, steam,” and “frack, baby, frack.”
At the bottom of the pyramid there are resources such as Utah’s oil shale, the economic feasibility of which, despite billions in investments, remains uncertain. After ten years of rather intensive global development, “unconventional resources” now comprise 42% of the planet’s energy mix.
We meet some fascinating people along the way. A petroleum geologist trying to hold his industry accountable for its practices, a university professor who risks losing her home to fight a pipeline, a woman who has already lost her home to a flood, an environmental lawyer who has switched from defending the fracking industry to fighting against it, a seal hunter worried about gargantuan oil spills in his home- one of the most pristine places on earth. All of these people give us a window into the new energy age we have stumbled unwittingly into.
Given that 95% of all economic transactions in our globalized economy bear the footprint of fossil fuels, does this spell the end of economic growth for our civilization?
To the Ends of the Earth brings forward the voices of those who not only denounce the rise of extreme energy, but also envision the new world that is taking shape in its stead: a future beyond the resource pyramid, a post-growth economy.