Robert Bryce: Innovation Keeps Proving 'Catastrophists' Wrong

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 05:02 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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America's domestic energy production is up 40 percent since 2005 — proof that advances in industry and technology are outpacing predictions of global catastrophe and easing fears that our needs will outstrip our resources, says the author of a new book on innovation.

Robert Bryce talked to Newsmax TV on Wednesday about "Smaller Faster Lighter Cheaper Denser: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong," his survey of breakthroughs from the first automobile to today's shale-oil drilling techniques.

Bryce told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth that a surge in U.S. energy production is just one of many developments to confound the doomsayers who consistently underrate the capacity of innovation to keep civilization moving forward prosperously.

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"Shale oil and shale gas are now fundamentally changing the U.S. energy picture, and why has it happened?" said Bryce. "Remember, for many years, decades even, oil and gas drillers thought there was no way to extract natural gas and oil from shale. And in 2005, Lee Raymond, the CEO of Exxon Mobile, declared very flatly that in the lower 48 states there was no more natural gas to be found."

U.S. natural gas production is up 40 percent since then, said Bryce.

"So we've seen what's happened in the oil and gas sector, where they have adopted better drilling techniques, better drill rigs, better drill bits, more powerful pumps, better seismic technology," he said. "All of these things have combined to now make the U.S. truly an energy super power, and it is attracting investment from companies all over the world."

And it's not just U.S gas. Bryce's research and travels took him from a Pittsburgh high-tech battery company, Aquion, to a Kenyan software firm, Safaricom, that is pioneering mobile payments.

"All of these companies are thriving now because of innovation — because they're able to make their things and processes smaller, faster, lighter, denser, cheaper," he said.

As for the "catastrophists," Bryce said they've always been with us since the days of Thomas Malthus.

"We see it today in the work of Paul Ehrlich and even in some of the statements from climate activists like Bill McKibben, this idea that we've fallen from grace," he said. "We've sinned and therefore we're headed for doom of whatever type: We're running out of food, peak oil, climate change, the rest of it."

Bryce's innovators are an antidote to an apocalyptic streak that seems to run through human nature.

"What are they? How are they succeeding?" he said. "Because they're making their products lighter, they're making our communications faster, they're making their engines denser. Farmers today in agricultural production, it's denser food production.

"This is a trend that runs across all sectors of the economy, and it's a trend that is inexorable. It's what we humans do. We're not going to sit around and freeze in the dark; we're going to invent."

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