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If increasing agricultural efficiency and reducing global poverty are among our goals, the world must prepare to vastly increase its energy consumption, or so said speakers at the Breakthrough Institute's recent Dialogue conference. Rather than conserve energy by using less of it, we ought to rely on human innovation to expand the efficiency of technology. Inventions like the tractor and nitrogen fertilizers, which resulted in net increases in energy use, helped create a planet far more habitable to human life by guaranteeing food stocks to large swaths of the population.

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Expanded energy use has created modern economic growth (allowing business owners to hire more workers), allowed hospitals to refrigerate vaccines and power life-saving medical devices, liberated women and children from manual labor, and provides light, heat, and ventilation to schools that educate citizens and workers. Contrary to doomsday conservationists, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future: humans have already progressed a long way through the use of technology and an optimistic outlook is more conducive to invention and innovation than pessimism.

Read more at Scientific American

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