A narrated visual tour and provocation: For most of human existence we survived on current sunshine – wood, water, and wind – to power society. Then over the past few hundred years we discovered fossil sunshine – coal, oil, and natural gas – to power our lives. We now primarily rely on this ancient sunlight, the fossilized carbon remains of ancient plants and animals, to turn our wheels and light our world. Fossil fuels have allowed an extraordinary expansion of our food supply, our material wealth, and our population. We have transformed our finite planet – the land, seas, and atmosphere – with a seemingly infinite expansion of our dominion over Earth. Scientists and others have begun calling this new human-dominated era The Anthropocene, or "Age of Man." Trend lines show our conquest isn't sustainable, wild habitats and species are disappearing, and our planet is slowly being polluted and cooked by the effluent of our expanding aspirations. Is it possible to create a soft landing for civilization? What will it take? How can ingenuity, wisdom, and those same fossil fuels build a bridge to a sustainable future powered primarily once again by current sunlight?
Dennis Dimick serves as executive environment editor at National Geographic magazine. He has guided creation of several major projects including an April 2010 issue on global freshwater, a 2011 series called “7 Billion” on global population, and the 2014 Future of Food series on global food security. In Sept. 2004 he originated and orchestrated creation of a 74-page three-story project on climate change called “Global Warning: Bulletins from a Warmer World.”
Dimick co-organized the Aspen Environment Forum from 2008-2012, and regularly presents slide show lectures on global environmental issues. He holds degrees in agriculture and agricultural journalism from Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For 17 years he has been a faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop, and in 2013 received the Sprague Memorial Award from the National Press Photographers Association for outstanding service to photojournalism. He is a native of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he grew up on a sheep and hay farm, and was a member for many years of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (now FFA.)