How Does the World Work?

  • See the About page for a description of the subjects of interest covered in this blog.

Series Indexes

Global Issues Blogroll

Blog powered by Typepad

Comment Policy

  • Comments
    Comments are open and welcome as long as they are not offensive or hateful. Also this site is commercial free so any comments that are offensive or promotional will be removed. Good questions are always welcome!

« Acid Test Results - A Post Mortem | Main | Have a reflective and hopeful Thanksgiving »

November 22, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


"Globalization, for example, was more about finding cheap labor to replace expensive energy for machines and expensive American labor that needed to be supported in energy-hungry lifestyles than finding new markets."

Did you ever read Hornborg's 'The Power of the Machine'? Made that point very well.

I agree it is worth pursuing understanding. Get it on paper for the future even if it can't change the present.

You should know that here in the uk (and I'm sure the us will follow before long) fringe dictator-wannabes are already onto energy shortage. The BNP ("British National Party") is just waiting for the mainstream parties to look utterly foolish and for people to get as angry as possible about the economy, so they will be willing to go for a nastier alternative.

As you say, the mainstream parties cannot tell they're killing themselves with their indecision; the entire system can't turn around now so is destined to split apart I believe. Reading posts about 'sapient governance' is beginning to feel dispiriting compared with what we have, but still, I'm enjoying catching up with your earlier series. Thanks for the work.


Plenty of clean, net energy here:

No carbon emmissions. Very little waste and what there is is quite manageable.

The only obstacles are political.

Chris Dollard

it seems to me that all this talk about cap & trade, and the looming Copenhagen wealth transfer, er, I mean climate change agreement is really moot in the growing obviousness of past-the-peak oil and net energy as you discuss. This matches exactly with Jeff Rubin's book, Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller. Oil will simply become too expensive because of economics/supply & demand, not because of some painful carbon-offset/world government bureaucracy initiative. The temporary lull in oil prices also complicates the future supply matter because suddenly it's not economically feasible to invest in new refineries or oil sands monstrosities. So is Mike Ruppert (Collapse movie) right? If the party's over, do we head for the hills?

George Mobus


Thanks for the tip on Hornborg.

Sapient governance is an idea whose time is yet to come -- after the crash of what currently passes for governance.


If you read further in my work on biophysical economics you will get the drift of why I don't think there are ANY magic bullets, ANYWHERE.

Chris D.,

Haven't seen the Collapse movie, but have heard about it. Will try to see it. As for personal preparations for a "likely" collapse, I have no advice other than be flexible and 'adapt or die'.


Dan Conine

You're wrong.
It's the Net Usefulness that matters.
Any species survives based on the amount of Net Usefulness that they provide for their future offspring. Net Usefulness is the amount of usefulness over and above what they consume in resources. Breaking even isn't enough, either. Randomness requires some extra usefulness by all species to overcome setbacks.
Sorry, but energy is not the root issue. Usefulness is. If we had all of the free energy available, we would still go extinct if our net activity remains consumptive.

George Mobus


Would you kindly quantify "usefulness". And I would recommend basic courses in physics and biology to boot.

The comments to this entry are closed.