My name is Graham Palmer and I split my time between industry and academia. I’ve worked in manufacturing and HVAC doing project work, automation, and maintenance. Before that I worked in electronics and automotive doing contracting, team leading, design and service. Most of the time, I’m a researcher working in academia who is deeply interested in the future of humanity in a finite world. A list of my publications is here. I see energy as the master resource that enables nature and society. I have an B.Eng, M.Eng, and a PhD in energy return on investment (University of Melbourne). I have affiliations with Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), and the Australian-German College of Climate and Energy at the University of Melbourne. I don’t spend as much time on this blog as I would like but post things that I find interesting.
The site name “George Jetson” is an allusion to Peter Thiel’s witty quote “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” Thiel was making the point that much of what passes for technological innovation since roughly the year 2000 is Silicon Valley hyperbole and useful, but not really life enhancing technology. Sure, Twitter is a useful tool, but it doesn’t compare with the life-changing developments of antibiotics, the steam and gas turbine, grid electricity, or indoor plumbing. The animated 1960s sitcom The Jetsons, featuring George Jetson and his flying car, depicts the 1960s idea of the twenty-first century. The future arrived, but it’s not quite what Hanna-Barbera Productions depicted. The point is that our material lives continue to be governed by immutable physical laws, and finite energy and material flows from nature. Most of humanity is yet to reconcile the idea of exponential growth with living in a finite world.
If I was to recommend two books the first would be Vaclav Smil’s Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems. And in order to explore the tools and methods of navigating our predicament, I would recommend Hall and Klitgaard’s Energy and the Wealth of Nations.