Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Ever decreasing returns


The ICE energy board's simplification of the complex issues surrounding energy generation and the environment (NCE 26 April) is useful but it does not mention the root causes of the problem. These are the growing economy and an increasing population, which Dick Cheney identified in a report on energy for the USA.

It takes no more than common sense understanding of the wider implications of the second law of thermodynamics to realise that the factors cited already combine to diminish the quality and diversity of life on Earth. That is because any lifestyle more sophisticated than subsistence depends on unsustainable uses of energy and of the environment.

Without a greater understanding of entropy, mere technical solutions will cause further environmental damage.

At best they can only postpone the inevitable - extinction of yet more species and untold misery for millions of people within a few decades.

The art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man is no longer sufficient.

Such activities have now become a significant part of the problem. It is increasingly likely that the only acceptable long term solutions will be found in the softer human and biological sciences, and the sooner we start looking for them the better.

Paul Kirkley (M), Hazeldene, Holton, Oxford OX33 1PS.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.