CHAPTER 8

Resource exhaustion

We buy a wastebasket and take it home in a plastic bag. Then we take the wastebasket out of the bag, and put the bag in the wastebasket.

—LILY TOMLIN, COMEDIAN

Since the earth is finite, and we will have to stop expanding sometime, should we do it before or after nature’s diversity is gone?

—DONELLA MEADOWS

In case our society needs one more recipe for disaster, the Daily Grist writer Jim Meyer thinks he has a winner. “Ever wonder about the future of energy?” he asks, as if earnestly. “Will it be wind? Solar? Geothermal? No wait, I got it, tar sands! … They’ve got everything oil does, but they’re harder to get, crappier when you get them, and leave a much bigger mark on the climate.… Tar sands are deposits of about ...

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