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« Needing some time! | Main | What Should a President Do? »

October 03, 2010

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David

A truly excellent post but there is one thing that particularly interests me that you have barely touched upon: the idea of 'virtual' wealth. As I see it, beyond our raw physical survival needs, all 'wealth' is just a means to generate pleasurable signals in our brains, and starting with the invention of the printing press, perhaps, man has striven to invent methods of doing this directly, without the need to "move atoms about" - or at least only a few. Technically, doesn't this mean that our wealth can increase, and the economy 'grow', without there necessarily having to be an increase in the availability of usable energy?

neil

Don't feel completely alone. It's worth reading this book http://www.theupsideofdown.com/

Summarized, the book makes the case (among others) that Rome's demise was not simply politics, but rather trying to manage a higher level civilization with grain and oxen being the main energy source.

George Mobus

All,

I am really bogged down in work these days. Our campus is undergoing some particularly difficult situations that need attending. Sorry for not responding sooner.

------------------------------
Phil,

Good point. I mentioned Howard Odum's work. He expounds on the theme of the role of money in A Prosperous Way Down written with his wife, Elisabeth. Excellent book in my opinion.

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David,

Somewhere else in these pages I have written about the nature of knowledge as wealth. It is not altogether virtual (very real in the sense of being encoded patterns of neural firing when called upon). But knowledge is the most efficient form of wealth with respect to the energy costs. However, it still requires a support infrastructure that expends far more energy to make the increase in knowledge possible.

Indeed, one might even take the position that the entirety of physical wealth exists so that some pinnacle of knowledge acquisition and maintenance might be possible. In other words the expenditure of energy by all human beings, in some sense, supports the knowledge we have gained.

----------------------------
Neil,

Read it. And have passed it on to others to read. I think it is excellent work.


George

Lars Thunberg

Hallo I red with a great interest and found the angle, exergy illuminating. I will read it again.
But there is a small matter about the moving family.
You say ”we ignore friction”. Please don’t do that. I’ts all about friction. No friction means that you won’t need any work to move the car and no exergy/energy will be required. The force, F is directed in the same( or opposit)direction as velocity. So F equals friction at constant speed. Friction depends on the mass and the hieght you have loaded the car, among a few other things.
There is a possibility that you will lose some readers and that wood be a pity.
Regards Lasse

Steven Earl Salmony

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czvxyDgqxmM

Lyrics : David Gray Lyrics : Draw the Line Album : Full Steam
Full Steam Lyrics - David Gray
All our lives we’ve dreamed about it
Just to find that it was never real
Coming closer each turn of the wheel
Forlorn, adrift on seas of beige
In this our Golden Age
Even in our darkest hour
Never thought that it could get so bad
Bullied, suckered, pimped and patronised
Every day your tawdry little lives
So loose your head
And step within
The silence
deafening
Now you saw it coming
And I saw it coming
We all saw it coming
But we still bought it
You saw it coming
And I saw it coming but still
Running full steam ahead
In and out of consciousness
It breaks my heart to see you like this
Crying, wringing hands and cursing fate
Always so little far too late
It’s 3am I’m wide awake
There’s still one call to make, one call
Now you saw it coming
And I saw it coming
We all saw it coming
But we still bought it
You saw it coming
And I saw it coming
We all saw it coming
But we still bought it
Running full steam ahead
Running full steam ahead
Running full steam
Gonna cover my eyes, gonna cover my eyes
Runnin' full steam, yeah
Now you saw it coming
And I saw it coming
We all saw it coming
But we still bought it
You saw it coming
And I saw it coming
We all saw it coming
But we still bought it
_end_

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, est. 2001
Chapel Hill, NC
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176
http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/
http://www.panearth.org/

George Mobus

Lars,

You are too right there. I thought I would try to simplify the analysis for a lay readership, but may have overdone it by failing to mention that the energy consumed went to overcoming friction. A number of commentators on The Oil Drum posting mentioned this as well. I promise I'll do better next time.

George

George Mobus

Steven,

It is terribly frustrating working with willfully ignorant humans. I wish our species was just dumb; then we would have an excuse for being ignorant. But then if we were we would still be simple brutes in the forest. As it stands we have no excuse from a lack of intelligence, just a lack of sapience.

George

Manoel

This is a great piece, George. A must-read for many people, I'd say. Once again: thank you!

I'd like to translate to Galician the part about money, so I can post it on our association's blog. Hope I can make the time for it.

Manoel

You know for my previous comments that I agree with you and many other nowadays in the peakoil/collapsnik community, that it's time for action. Really. The little energy we have as individuals (time, money, connections...) should be better used in preparing those lifeboats (Transition Towns, degrowth groups... you call it) that we'll be the needed reference, the conditio sine qua non for any possibility of a future for Mankind.

I know it's not the subject of this post but I'd like to know if there is some global directory of those iniciatives, so we can take the best of Internet communication before international cheap connections break down. Is there anybody trying to make such a list?

Manoel

I mean.. we all know what Transition people are doing, and what Post Carbon Institute are trying to help to do... but I guess there are other less known iniciatives. Was J.M. Greer trying to set up something like an "order"? And I think you too were preparing something.

Shouldn't an international coalition be done between all of us, really DOING something, building the base for a future post-collapse Humanity?

I'd like to know your opinion on such an idea. Or maybe it already exists!

George Mobus

Manoel,

My own efforts are really attempting to quantify the feasibility of what is a sustainable social structure under limited energy flows. It is very similar in intent to Transition Towns, etc. but with the base assumption being that we will all be living in permaculture villages rather than the kind of civilization we have now. And, of course, there will many fewer living in such a world than right now.

JMG has been posting on something he calls Green Wizardry. I've followed a few of his posts but it resembles permaculture sufficiently that I haven't been following it closely.

My advocacy is strictly to the few who can hear the message and understand it. Organize around a permaculture village and keep knowledge alive (University of Noeisis). I realize that this "solution" will not work for the mass of humanity that exists today. But it will work for the more sapient who take heed. That is my hope anyway.

George

Manoel

Thanks, George. I've been reading about the "Greer" Wizards ;-D and should read more about your Noesis + permavillage idea. Hope I can transmit something to my mates here in Galicia. I believe every solution has to be very locally adapted to be of some value. I mean Green Wizards could be very suited for American alternative mentality, and Transition approach to Northern Europe way of working. But none of them could be very effective if directly copied upon Galician particular way of thinking and social structure. So we'll try to take the best of every approach which is being trying in other parts of the World (take advantage of the Internet while it lasts!) and see if it's adaptable to our country, and its existing resilience structures (traditional knowledge, agro-activists, permaculture experiments, rural population structure and territory...). Hope we can then give back some ideas for the rest of the World! That would be a nice locally based post-oil internationalism! :-)

George Mobus

Manoel,

Good to hear from you. My next blog will pick up on the theme of the sapient permavillage. It will address the theoretical underpinnings of permaculture and its significance to the possible future of humanity.

George

Account Deleted

Also remember to try removing production 'wastes' to get the most out of your time and energy when working. I learned that when I attended our office's lean manufacturing presentation. Lean presentations like that are probably the best kind of seminar and training an employee can have.

Marianne

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.
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auto body shop

I have scholarly somethings from your edifying post. i see it everyone cannot bee saved anyway when collapse comes, We are simply hopelessly overpopulated on this planet. I hope to see your next post. thanks.
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Fashion Discount Codes

It is awfully frustrating employed with willfully unaware humans. I wish our class was just dumb; then we would have an reason for being ignorant. But then if we were we would still be simple brutes in the forest. As it stands we have no reason from a lack of intellect, just a lack of sapience.
[Moderator edit: Removed commercial URL]

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