Powering Nations

Author:  Ali Farhan

Institution:  repss
Date:  February 2008

In his monumental book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" published in 2004, Jared Diamond highlights spectacular cases of environmental mismanagement leading to the collapse of societies and entire civilizations. Easter Island which was once the site of a thriving society that sculpted huge stone statues facing inland (called Moai) is one famous example. It is now a sparsely resettled island with one of the worst cases of deforestation in the world. Diamond weaves together evidence from physical sciences, economics, politics, history, biogeography and others to make the compelling point that the fate of societies and civilizations depends on energy and environmental sustainability.

Although on a smaller scale, the article by Gabriele in the latest issue of JYI carries that same thrust of sustainability. Gabriele analyzes the state of natural gas economy in Argentina by combining perspectives from economics, physical sciences, and policy studies. He proposes a number of hard solutions to ensure the sustainability of the natural gas economy in one of the largest countries in South America. The message of the article is simple: unless something is done now, an energy crisis may hit Argentina and have vast repercussions in the country and other parts of the world. Gabriele's article is timely given the recent attention on energy, environment and sustainability science. We too welcome fresh international perspectives on a topic that JYI has not published on for some time. We hope the article can stimulate discussion among undergraduates and others on the issue of energy back home.