The Age of Low Tech – Philippe Bihouix - Edition Anthropocène Seuil - April 2014 - 330 Pages
In the face of the alarming signals of the global crisis; sluggish growth, tensions on energy and raw materials, the collapse of biodiversity, soil degradation and destruction, climate change and widespread pollution, we are being reassured. Green" technologies are said to be on the verge of saving the planet and growth thanks to a fourth industrial revolution, that of renewable energies, smart grids, the circular economy, nano-bio-technologies and 3D printers.
These much-vaunted new technologies consume more scarce resources, are more difficult to recycle and are too complex, yet they lead us into a dead end.
This book demonstrates one by one the mirages of high-tech innovations, and proposes to take the opposite side of the technological race forward by turning to low tech, the "low technologies". It is not a question of going back to the candle, but of maintaining a level of comfort and pleasant civilization while avoiding the shocks of future shortages. If the author puts down our last illusions, it is to better explore the possible paths towards a sustainable economic and industrial system in a finite planet.
Pessimistic author? Yet he has a good dose of humor! He begins by taking Saint-Exupéry to task: "Forgive me, my dear "Saint-Exupéry", for propelling you by this single reflection..." to conclude with Louis-Sébastien Mercier on a "In the meantime, let's try to make things passable, or, if it's still too much, let's at least dream that they are (...)".
Philippe Bihouix is an engineer specializing in the finiteness of mining resources and its close interaction with the energy issue. With a generalist background, he worked as a construction engineer, then as a consulting engineer in many industrial sectors (energy, chemicals, transport, telecommunications, aeronautics, etc.) for almost ten years. He also spent a year as head of mission in a humanitarian NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. He currently works in rail freight.
He is co-author of the book Quel futur pour les métaux, (2010) which deals with the finiteness of mining resources and its close interaction with the energy issue, poses the technical and societal limits of recycling and the circular economy, and denounces the relevance of green growth and the technological headlong rush of the economy.
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