Category Archives: History of technology

Stall warning for renewable energy?

A model that estimated the plateauing of nuclear and hydropower to within 20 percent of reality suggests that absent a technological breakthrough, the growth of new renewable energy – that is, wind and solar – will saturate and end when these new … Continue reading

Posted in Energy, History of technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Atomic mail rockets, and how monocausal predictions are particularly dangerous

The new, shining age of information delivery was briefly at hand on June 8th, 1959. A Regulus cruise missile – designed for delivering a nuclear warhead to a Soviet city or port – landed neatly at the naval base at … Continue reading

Posted in Ecomodernism, History of technology, Nuclear energy & weapons | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Energy transitions: is everything different this time?

The debate about whether transition to low-carbon energy would be faster or slower than previous energy transitions somewhat misses the point. The real problem is whether this time everything is different and whether the low-carbon energy revolution will be complete … Continue reading

Posted in Ecomodernism, Energy, History of technology | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Songs from the Hungerland: reflections on Ecomodernism, history, and Nature

Songs from the Hungerland in response to 21.10.15 The Guardian opinion piece: The Brave New World of Ecomodernism During spring and summer 2014, I spent many nights under the Finnish sky. Early the next morning where the picture above was taken, I … Continue reading

Posted in Ecomodernism, Economy and the Environment, Energy, History of technology | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Space system “Shuttle,” part of USA’s nuclear attack arsenal?

  The story of a white elephant colloquially known as the Space Shuttle is familiar to most students of the history of technology. The shuttle was originally touted as a cheap way to access space: being mostly reusable, it would … Continue reading

Posted in History of technology, Nuclear energy & weapons, SETI, Aliens & Space | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the relationship between regulation, technological change and competitiveness

Translation of my presentation in the 38th Ilmansuojelupäivät in Lappeenranta, Finland, 20.8.2013 If we deconstruct the topic of the panel, “is environmental protection a threat or an opportunity to a country’s competitiveness,” sooner or later we will end up considering … Continue reading

Posted in History of technology, Innovation, Scarcities and constraints | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What the necessity mothers: energy shortage and the development of copper smelting furnaces, 1900-1980

An old adage tells us that necessity is the mother of invention. But if necessity were the prime mover of invention, why, then, there are so many really nifty technologies – say, antigravity – that would be obviously useful, yet … Continue reading

Posted in History of technology, Innovation, Scarcities and constraints | Tagged , , | 1 Comment