Breaking the story of a report to the UN on obstacles to economic growth

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In August, I broke the exclusive story of a scientific report commissioned by the UN’s group of independent science advisors working on the UN’s Global Sustainability Report due out next year, a report warning of how the transition to a new era of expensive energy production is undermining the very basis of capitalism as we know it, and endless economic growth in particular. In coming decades, we will be forced into a different kind of economy. We either adapt to that willingly and proactively, or we bury our heads in the sand, buckle down on trying to kickstart more growth and face-up to the dangerous consequences of doing so.

The piece first ran via my column at VICE’s science and technology magazine Motherboard. It was then run in the UK by The Independent. From there, the story was picked up by the Daily Mail, New Zealand Herald, Slashdot, and covered in a range of other places. A few publications plagiarised the piece pretending that they were reporting the story themselves (despite using language and concepts from my story), such as Laura Paddison in Huffington Post US, Big Think, and Science Alert.

Kind of pathetic that they felt the need to not credit me or VICE, bizarrely, but in any case, suffice to say the piece went viral and did an important thing: it raised public awareness of the pivotal issue of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) and its fundamental role in the global economy.