Richard Heinberg

Master of Arts Journalist and author Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, USA (1950-Present)

Heinberg has written extensively on energy, economic, and ecological issues and is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on the urgency and challenges of transitioning society away from fossil fuels. Heinberg has authored scores of essays and articles and is the author of thirteen books, including Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (2004) and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality (2011).  His latest book is Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path to One Hundred Percent Clean Energy (2016), co-authored with Berkeley energy expert David Fridley. Heinberg also hosts’s online course Think Resilience.

Heinberg is the Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa, California and editor of MuseLetter. He also serves on the advisory board of The Climate Mobilization, a grassroots advocacy group calling for a national economic mobilization against climate change, with the goal of 100% clean energy and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Richard has appeared in many film and television documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour. He is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education. Richard’s animations Don’t Worry, Drive On (2012), Who Killed Economic Growth? (2011)  and 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds (2010) (winner of a YouTubes’s DoGooder Video of the Year Award) have been viewed by nearly two million people.

“Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful. I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.”

“The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”). Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.”