Power Hungry Podcast: Simon Michaux

Happy Thanksgiving!

In this episode of the Power Hungry Podcast, Robert Bryce interviews Simon Michaux, an associate professor of geometallurgy at the Geological Survey of Finland. Michaux recently published a 1,000-page report about the amount of mining that will be required if the world attempts to quit using hydrocarbons.

In this episode, he discusses why copper will be the key constraint for alt-energy, the “flamboyantly stupid” decisions being made by European policymakers, and why the pending limits to economic growth will require a new “social contract and a radically different system of governance” from what we have today.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more conflicted about a guest on Bryce’s podcast than I am with Michaux. The first half of the episode details his study on the amount of metal needed to convert to an economy where everything is electric, which is excellent.

The second half, however, delves into what Michaux calls the “limits to growth,” discussing the declining energy return on energy invested (EROEI) for today’s technologies and his forecast for a declining standard of living unless we change our consumption patterns.

I tend to fall into the cornucopian camp, so this gloomy vision for the future surprised me. Listen for yourself to see how you come down on this provocative episode.