#120: The need for new ideas

PLANNING THE POST-GROWTH SOCIETY

This article explores an issue that is always at or near the centre of where the economy is going. Worldwide, the long years of growing prosperity are over, and this change fundamentally invalidates many things that government, business and the public have always taken for granted.

The reason why growth is over, of course, is that we no longer have access to cheap energy. Where geographical expansion and economies of scale once drove down the cost of accessing energy, the driving factor now is depletion, which is pushing costs upward, and is doing so in an exponential way.

Though no abrupt plunge in global prosperity is on the cards, there is scant comfort in that. Prosperity in most Western developed economies has already passed its peak. Our economic and financial systems are extremely vulnerable, because they are predicated on perpetual growth.

Thus far, and in spite of all the accumulating evidence, we haven’t recognised that growth in prosperity is over. Rather, we’ve tried to delude ourselves, by using cheap and easy debt, and latterly ultra-cheap money as well, to pretend that perpetual growth remains alive and well. In themselves, these expedients are harmful in ways that can be managed. Efficiency is being undermined by keeping sub-viable entities afloat, and a major crash in asset values has become an inevitably. Neither of these problems is existential in itself.

But changes are happening, too, in ways that are fundamental. A system dependent on ever-growing consumption and ever-increasing profitability is becoming invalidated. The very concept of debt is becoming untenable, because the process depends on growth in borrowers’ income, something which is no longer happening.

These effects have profound political and social as well as economic and financial implications. As growth unwinds, so does tolerance of inequality – that’s why “populists” have enjoyed an ascendancy, and why trends are moving strongly in favour of the collectivist Left.

The dangers of complacency

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’ll know that world prosperity, as measured by the Surplus Energy Economics Data System (SEEDS), is projected broadly flat out to 2030. To put some numbers on this, global average prosperity per person is estimated at $11,050 in 2016, and is expected to be very little changed in 2030, at $11,360 (in 2016 PPP dollars).

There are a lot of reasons, however, not to be lured into any form of complacency by this flat trajectory. First, our economic system isn’t geared to stable-state, but is predicated on perpetual expansion – and that’s a huge problem, now that the conditions which favoured growth in the past are breaking down. Though we can be pretty sure that the era of meaningful growth in prosperity has ended, we cannot know how much collateral damage will result from the challenge of trying to adapt to that change.

Second, the projected global figure for 2030 disguises a wide regional divergence of experience. China, for example, is on the positive side of the equation. Prosperity may not be growing at anything like the rate depicted by GDP per capita, but Chinese citizens are continuing to become better off. For 2016, prosperity is estimated at 30,800 RMB per person – roughly double the equivalent number for 2003 – and the SEEDS projection for 2030 is 42,225 RMB, an improvement of 37%. Improvement is likely, too, in India.

But prosperity in the developed West, already in decline, is set to deteriorate steadily. Comparing 2030 with 2016, prosperity is likely to be 7% lower in the United States, for example, and 10% lower in Britain. These projected declines are in addition to the deterioration that has already happened – prosperity has already peaked in the US, Canada, Australia and most European countries.

Third, and even in countries where prosperity trends are positive, current economic policies suggest that both debt and deficiencies in pension provision will go on growing a lot more rapidly than prosperity.

Worldwide, we’re subsidising an illusory present by cannibalising an already-uncertain future. We’re doing this by creating debt that we can’t repay, and by making ourselves pension promises that we can’t honour. So acute is this problem that our chances of getting to 2030 without some kind of financial crash are becoming almost vanishingly small.

Finally, any ‘business as usual’ scenario suggests that we’re not going to succeed in tackling climate change. This is an issue that we examined recently. Basically, each unit of net energy that we use is requiring access to more gross energy, because the energy consumed in the process of accessing energy (ECoE) is rising. This effect is cancelling out our efforts to use surplus (net-of-cost) energy more frugally.

The exponential nature of the rise in ECoEs is loading the equation ever more strongly against us. This is why “sustainable development” is a myth, founded not on fact but on wishful thinking.

The lure of denial

These considerations present us with a conundrum. With prosperity declining, do we, like Pollyanna, try to ignore it, whistling a happy tune until we collide with harsh reality? Or do we recognise where things are heading, and plan accordingly?

There are some big complications in this conundrum. Most seriously, if we continue with the myth of perpetual growth, we’re not only making things worse, but we may be throwing away our capability to adapt.

You can liken this to an ocean liner, where passengers are beginning to suspect that the ship has sprung a leak. The captain, wishing to avoid panic, might justifiably put on a brave face, reassuring the passengers that everything is fine. But he’d be going too far if he underlined this assurance by burning the lifeboats.

The push for electric vehicles threatens to become a classic instance of burning the lifeboats. Here’s why.

We know that supplies of petroleum are tightening, that the trend in costs is against us, and that burning oil in cars isn’t a good idea in climate terms. Faced with this, the powers-that-be could do one of two things. They could start to wean us off cars, by changing work and habitation patterns, and investing in public transport. Alternatively, they can promise us electric vehicles, conveniently ignoring the fact that we don’t, and won’t, have enough electricity generating capacity to make this plan viable, and that we’d certainly need to burn in power stations at least as much oil as we’d take out of fuel tanks. At the moment, every indication is that they’re going to opt for the easy answer – not the right one.

This is just one example, amongst many, of our tendency to avoid unpalatable issues until they are forced upon us. The classic instance of this, perhaps, is the attitude of the democracies during the 1930s, who must have known that appeasement was worse than a cop-out, because it enabled Germany, Italy and Japan to build up their armed forces, becoming a bigger threat with every passing month. Hitler came to power in 1933, and could probably have been squashed like a bug at any time up to 1936. By 1938, though, German rearmament reduced us to buying ourselves time.

Burying one’s head in the sand is actually a very much older phenomenon than that. The English happily paid Danegeld without, it seems, realising that each such bribe made the invaders stronger. It’s quite possible that the French court could have defused the risk of revolution by granting the masses a better deal well before 1789. The Tsars compounded this mistake when they started a reform process and then slammed it into reverse. History never repeats itself, but human beings do repeat the same mistakes, and then repeat their surprise at how things turn out.

Needed – vision and planning 

The aim here is simple. There is an overwhelming case for preparation.  With this established, readers can then discuss what might constitute a sensible plan, and try to work out how any plan at all is going to be formulated in a context of ignorance, denial and wishful thinking.

Let’s start with a basic premise. For more than a millennium, the population of the earth has increased, a process that has become exponential since we first tapped fossil fuels. The population exponential has been paralleled by trends in food and water supply, and in economic activity and complexity.

The “master exponential” driving all the others has been energy consumption. Basic physics dictates the primacy of energy in this mix. If we hadn’t grown our access to energy, we couldn’t have expanded our foods supplies, our population, our economic activity or the complexity of our societies.

For much of the era since 1760, energy has got cheaper. The petroleum industry, for instance, didn’t limit itself to Pennsylvania, but spread its reach across the globe, most notably finding huge oil resources in the Middle East. The same broadening process benefited coal and natural gas. As the energy industries expanded, they harnessed huge economies of scale. A third positive factor, in addition to reach and scale, was technology.

Since a high-point in the post-1945 decades, however, the trend of energy costs has crossed a climacteric. Reach ceased to help, and economies of scale reached a plateau. The new driver became depletion, an entirely logical consequence of using the most profitable resources first, and leaving less profitable ones for later. The role of technology changed, from boosting gains to mitigating decline. The extent to which technology can mitigate the cost of depletion is limited by the envelope of physics.

Only in science fiction, or in wishful thinking, can we get a quart of energy out of a pint pot.

The cost uptrend (and by ‘cost’, of course, is meant the energy consumed in accessing energy) hasn’t stopped growth in aggregate access to primary energy – yet. So far, we’ve been able to offset worsening cost ratios by using more energy. This said, cost is likely to make it harder to grow total supplies in the future. Fundamentally, as the energy consumed in the energy supply process rises, the amount of value that we get from each unit of energy diminishes, just as we hit limits to our ability to use greater volume to offset reduced value.

In petroleum, at least, we are now scraping the bottom of the barrel. If there were lots of gigantic, technically-easy fields still to be developed, we simply wouldn’t be bothering with shales, or crudes so heavy that they have to be mined rather than pumped. It’s become difficult to find a price that is high enough for producers without being too high for customers. Cost, rather than scarcity of reserves, is the factor that’s going to cause “peak oil”.

Renewable energies, though desirable, don’t offer an instant escape, not least because we have to use legacy fossil fuel energy to build wind turbines, solar panels and the infrastructure that renewables require. We once believed that nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter”, and would free us from dependency on oil, gas and coal. We’re in danger of repeating that complacency with renewables. We need to assume that energy will get costlier, just as growing the absolute quantities available to us is getting tougher.

Growth – the bar keeps rising

As the cost of energy rises, economic growth gets harder. We’ve come up against this constraint since about 2000, and our response to it, thus far, has been gravely mistaken, almost to the point of childish petulance. We seem incapable of thinking or planning in any terms that aren’t predicated on perpetual growth. We resort to self-delusion instead.

First, we thought that we could create growth by making debt ever cheaper, and ever easier to obtain. Even after 2008, we seem to have learned nothing from this exercise in credit adventurism.

Since the global financial crisis (GFC), we’ve added monetary adventurism to the mix. In the process, we’ve crushed returns on investment, crippling our ability to provide pensions. We’ve accepted the bizarre idea that we can run a “capitalist” economic system without returns on capital. We’ve also accepted value dilution, increasingly resorting to selling each other services that are priced locally, that add little value, and that, in reality, are residuals of the borrowed money that we’ve been pouring into the economy.

We seem oblivious of the obvious, which is that money, having no intrinsic worth, commands value only as a claim on the output of a real economy driven by energy. When someone hands in his hat and coat at a reception, he receives a receipt which enables him to reclaim them later. But the receipt itself won’t keep him warm and dry. For that, he needs to exchange the receipt for the hat and coat. Money is analogous to that receipt.

The first imperative, then, is recognition that the economy is an energy system, not a financial one, in which money plays a proxy role as a claim on output. In this sense, money is like a map of the territory, whereas energy is the territory itself – and geographical features can’t be changed by altering lines on a map.

It’s fair to assume that the reality of this relationship will gain recognition in due course, the only question being how many mistakes and how much damage has to happen before we get there. No amount of orthodoxy can defy this reality, just as no amount of orthodoxy could turn flat earth theories into the truth.

With the energy dynamic recognised, we’ll need to come to terms with the fact that growth cannot continue indefinitely. Rather, growth has been a chapter, made possible by the bounty of fossil fuels, and that bounty is losing its largesse as the relationship between energy value and the cost of access tilts against us.

In one sense, it’s almost a good thing that this is happening. If we suddenly discovered vast oil reserves on the scale of another Saudi Arabia, we would probably use them to destroy the environment.

Undercutting the rationale – consumption, profit and debt

With growth in prosperity no longer guaranteed, a lot of other assumptions lose their validity. One of the first will be the nexus of consumerism and corporate profit, where we assume that consumption by the public must always increase, and, over time, profits must always grow.

We’ll find ourselves in a situation where consumption doesn’t keep growing, and will decrease in per capita terms at a pace which at least matches the rate at which population numbers are growing. In this situation, expecting suppliers to keep on expanding, and carry on increasing their profits, becomes unreasonable. Businesses which insist on trying to maintain profits growth in this context will probably have to resort to cheating, both exploiting consumers and falsifying information. It may well be that this process has already started.

Meanwhile, the invalidation of the growth assumption will have profound implications for debt, and may indeed make the whole concept unworkable. If borrowing and lending ceased to be a viable activity, the consequences would be profound.

To understand this, we need to recognise that debt only works when prosperity is growing. For A to borrow from B today, and at a future date repay both capital and interest, A’s income must have increased over that period. Without that growth, debt cannot be repaid.

There are two routes to the repayment of capital and the payment of interest, and both depend on growth. First, if A has put borrowed capital to work, the return on that investment both pays the interest, and also, hopefully, leaves A with a profit. Alternatively, if A has spent the borrowed money on consumption, A’s income has to increase by at least enough to for him to repay the debt, and pay interest on it.

In an ex-growth situation, both routes break down. Invested debt isn’t going to yield a sufficient return, because purchases by consumers have ceased to expand. A’s income, on the other hand, won’t have increased, because prosperity has stopped growing.

This scenario – in which repayment of debt becomes impossible – isn’t a future prediction, but a current reality, and a reality that is already in plain sight.

We need to be clear that the slashing of rates to almost zero happened because earning enough on capital to be able to pay real rates of interest has become impossible.

Businesses which aren’t growing cannot – ever – pay off their debts, and neither can individuals whose prosperity is deteriorating.

Critically, prosperity, which drives both profits and incomes, is declining.  This is evident, not just in real wages (which, in many developed economies, haven’t grown since 2008), but also in the adverse relationship between nominal incomes and the cost of essentials.

To reiterate, if borrowers’ incomes don’t grow, they cannot pay off their debts, and are likely to go under because they cannot carry indefinitely the burden of compounding interest.

The politics of inequality

Financial exercises in denial (including escalating debt, ultra-cheap money and the impairment of pension provision) have already created a stark division between “haves” and “have-nots”. Essentially, the “haves” are those who already owned assets before the value of those assets was driven upwards by monetary policy. The “have-nots” are almost everyone else, especially the young.

Critically, the cessation of growing prosperity creates a fundamental change in attitudes towards inequality. Someone whose own prosperity is increasing is likely to be pretty tolerant towards a richer neighbour. Put prosperity into reverse, though, and that tolerance evaporates.

Again, this isn’t forecast, but fact. It’s one of the reasons why “populist” politicians are doing so well, and it also lays the foundations for a return to ascendancy by the collectivist Left. For this to happen, left-of-centre parties need to purge themselves of the centrists whose logic ceased to function when prosperity stopped growing.

The need to do this isn’t exactly rocket-science, and it’s already happening. We know that Hillary Clinton failed to see off Donald Trump, but we can’t know whether Bernie Sanders might have succeeded. We cannot know whether Labour under Jeremy Corbyn can win power in Britain, but we can be pretty sure that a Labour party led by a returning Tony Blair, or by someone else with the same “New” Labour policies, could not.

This stacks up to the return of division. The reason for this is that it’s becoming impossible for parties of opposition to accept big chunks of the incumbency’s economic agenda. As ordinary people become poorer, and as their ability to carry their debt burdens diminishes, the focus on inequality will intensify. The “politics of envy” will become “the politics of indignation”. Questions will start to be asked about how much money any one individual actually needs. The deterioration in the ability of the state to provide public services will intensify the politics of division.

To be clear about this, collectivism won’t solve our fundamental economic problems, and neither will a system which mutates Adam Smith’s free and fair competition into something akin to the law of the jungle. Deregulated capitalism is failing now, just as emphatically as Marxist collectivism failed in the past.

A logical conclusion, then, is that we need a new form of politics, just as much as we need a new understanding of economics, new models for business and a new role for finance. Co-operative systems might succeed where corporatism – both the state-controlled and the privately-owned variants – have failed.

All of these new ideas need to be grounded in reality, not in wishful thinking, denial or ideological myopia. But reality becomes a hard sell when it challenges preconceived notions – and no such notion is more rooted in our psyche than perpetual growth.

131 thoughts on “#120: The need for new ideas

  1. Expanding on Craeft

    I previously mentioned Alexander Langland’s book Craeft, An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditonal Crafts. If you are interested in understanding how significant the challenge of the end of fossil fuels is (beyond making a lot of paper IOUs become worthless), then I suggest you spend 20 minutes reading about thatching a roof. You should note that Langlands is an archaeologist, who has appeared on BBC programs about traditional farming. His special interest is looking at material objects to divine how the people lived who used the objects.

    Beginning late in the 12th century, a series of fires swept London, Caterbury, Exeter, Winchester, Glastonbury, Chichester, Worcester and Norwich. The fires, which resulted from thatched roofs packed closely together close by fire using industrial processes led to the regulation of thatched roofs. Roofing tiles began to replace thatching in the cities. Thatching remained the roofing material of choice in the countryside because the heavy roof tiles which had come to dominate the cities around the beginning of the 16th century simply couldn’t be moved to the country. Then, as the railroads spread, durable roof materials spread across the countryside. But areas which were remote from the railroads continued to use thatching. Why? Simply because roof tiles are heavy and, absent a railroad or a canal, one couldn’t move the required amount of weight except for buildings such as manor houses and churches.

    So the first lesson is that transportation is a limiting factor in ways that modern people seldom appreciate. Could your house have been built without the transport of heavy building materials?

    Langlands observes that “There is no greater demonstration of Homo faber’s intelligence and resourcefulness than his ability to build a watertight and robust structure over his family’s heads using entirely organic materials sourced from the immediate environment.”

    Then Langlands gives us a blow by blow description of making a thatched roof for an agricultural shed.

    “At this juncture, I was truly beginning to comprehend the sheer level of work that went into a simple barn roof. Not just its making, but its resourcing.

    Each spar needed to be driven in at the correct angle, hard enough that the fingers couldn’t draw it out again. Each new layer in the stolches needed to overlap just the right amount to cover the binding of the previous layer but also maintain enough bulk of material to keep the pitch of the thatch aligned with the pitch of the rafters, again ensuring that a uniformity of thickness was safeguarded at all times. This craft was all aboui the meticulous adherence to a standard, not just with every single fastening and laying of straw but with every single movement that we made on the roof. Every turn, every carry, every placement of tool, every manual shaping of material had to take place within a flow of kinesthetic sensibility. This was clearly a major part of the craeft of thatching as it had been over a century ago, but it simply cannot be considered in isolation from the resourcing of the raw materials and intelligence that comes with taking local organic matter and converting it into a functioning entity.

    Everything on that roof could have been sourced from the farmstead. Admittedly, we imported some commercially sourced thatching straw…and we used a flax twine to secure the gads and bind the bottles. But we could just as well have used lengths of bramble cane or honeysuckle vine shoots, which may have had a longer lifespan but would have taken an extra week to source.

    ….In so many ways this roof had been a gateway into a new world for me. My life would never be the same. A new Alex emerged. Archaeology became so much more than just stuff in the ground. It became an exploration of what it was to be human, not only because we are resourcers, gatherers with an inveterate knowledge of the natural world around us.”

    The additional lessons:
    *Making cannot be divorced from sourcing. Many times sourcing is dependent on planting something a decade or more before it needs to be used. If you are going to source something heavy from far away, you better have a canal or fossil fuels. Additionally, much sourcing is about intergenerational attention, such as the planting and management of coppice.
    *Making is a combination of social intelligence (what the apprentice learns from the master) but also individual innovation (stimulated by REM sleep?) and the particular needs of a job.
    *Reversion to craeft methods from industrial materials such as industrially produced sheets of metal is not necessarily destructive of the human spirit. It may lead to more sensible humans.

    In a separate description of the making of a hurdle (a movable section of fence to control the distribution of sheep in a field), Langlands particularly stresses the ergonomically sophisticated layout of the workspace in the woods. So it all fits together:
    *A convenient stump for chopping
    *Some kneeling, some squatting, some standing…not repetitive motion
    *Use of a fire to make the hurdle and also heat the worker
    *Minimum waste
    *Tools carried in in a satchel
    *Selection of coppice wood to be as light as possible while as strong as needed to control sheep
    *Intricate knowledge of the weaving principles
    *Adept manipulation of the weaving material to turn it 180 degrees without breaking it
    And so forth.

    I say this a little tongue in cheek. If you are contemplating surviving a Fast Crash, it might be worthwhile to get close to Alex Langlands. Not that he claims to be skilled at all these craefts. But at least you won’t be totally clueless.

    Don Stewart

    • I enjoy reading and have learned a ton of technical information from the Stop These Things web site.
      https://stopthesethings.com/2018/03/04/green-energy-fail-how-ideology-destroyed-australias-once-cheap-reliable-power-supply/

      For SEEDS and an EROEI perspective on our Industrial and Domestic energy budgets transparency is essential.

      The jist of the attached article is that corrupt rent-seekers in the Green Lobby ( Al Gore Anyone) are instituting an ideologically driven energy solution onto the poorest in society completely ignoring the sensible transition that is possible for the payback of large subsidies from Big Central Government.

      The Problem that Gore and his like say they are urgently solving is Climate Change, as a climate realist i do not burden my investigations into energy budget solutions with Climate Alarmist dogma that many do make it very easy for StopTheseThings to call out the renewables lobby who have been economic with the actualite much of the time and who are fanatically closed minded to mixed solutions at the expense of upfront pain.( bourne as a sort of penance for past sins).

      The Energy Cliff does not make an appearance in the linked article and SEEDS would add rather a lot to StopTheseThings advocacy, Australian energy abundance surely leads to the idea that they have far more than they can use themselves and can use surpluses to exchange for what they do not have enough of?

      At this point things like Leitaers TERRA currency proposals come to mind but most of all this quote from Benjamin Franklin which fits the polarised and binary state of the renewables versus legacy fuels debate.

      In 1729 Benjamin Franklin wrote a pamphlet ´´A modest Enquiry into the nature and the necessity of a paper Currency.”

      a modest enquiry,
      ”There is no Science, the Study of which is more useful and commendable than the Knowledge of the true Interest of one’s Country; and perhaps there is no Kind of Learning more abstruse and intricate, more difficult to acquire in any Degree of Perfection than This, and therefore none more generally neglected. Hence it is, that we every Day find Men in Conversation contending warmly on some Point in Politicks, which, altho’ it may nearly concern them both, neither of them understand any more than they do each other.
      Thus much by way of Apology for this present Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency. And if any Thing I shall say, may be a Means of fixing a Subject that is now the chief Concern of my Countrymen, in a clearer Light, I shall have the Satisfaction of thinking my Time and Pains well employed.
      To proceed, then,
      There is a certain proportionate Quantity of Money requisite to carry on the Trade of a Country freely and currently; More than which would be of no Advantage in Trade, and Less, if much less, exceedingly detrimental to it.
      This leads us to the following general Considerations.”
      http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-01-02-0041

      http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2016/11/the-giant-sucking-sound-sharp-intake-of.html

      http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2016/11/on-climate-heresies-witchhunts-and.html

    • From Storm clouds gathering. I do not buy into catastrophe porn and the Private Frasier ***We are all doomed ** mindset.

      The best attitude I have come up with is a sort of Stoic form of Ghandis dictum, *Be the change you wish to see in the world”

      Saskia Sassen says as much in this paper which resonated with me when I read a few years back.
      http://www.columbia.edu/~sjs2/PDFs/savage.pdf

      It was introduced to me in a discussion about Coercive aggregation which reminded me of Marx’s Primitive Accumulation.

      http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2013/06/democracy-and-state.html

      There are a number of dialogues on my Blog with Green Party CLimate Catastrophe and Population catastrophe pornographers.

      http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2017/01/watching-watchers-deniers-denying.html

      Population gets a few mentions above, a key question is ”Who’s Reality * are we setting for the benchmark metric?

      The Oligarchy is a bad idea, they are big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves time for some more bottom-up joined up distributed network thinking,

      http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2016/01/the-iron-law-of-oligarchy.html

  2. Dear Tim
    For practical ideas I hope the following is useful.
    I don’t know how many of your readers are familiar with John Michael Greer’s book “The Long Descent”. See https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4347496-the-long-descent
    This provides a convincing picture of the future we are likely to have.
    For dealing with the difficulties see
    http://www.greenwizards.info/
    and Low Tech magazine already recommended on this site http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/
    Thanks to Don for directing me to the work of Gabe Brown with restorative agriculture and for the possibility for farmers to reverse years of soil depletion and degradation, which would appear to be something new in the history of agriculture.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=gabe+brown+ted+talk&form=EDGEAR&qs=HS&cvid=ba70188442c34a7292b27ce76f11905b&cc=GB&setlang=en-GB&PC=HCTS
    Something most of us could experiment with if we have access to a garden or farm is the use of green manures (cover crops). Cereal rye is excellent if overwintered. Skill and knowledge are needed to kill it off (without resorting to Roundup or digging in) at a suitable time so that the soil and essential mycorrhizae are not disturbed.
    https://www.no-tillfarmer.com/articles/6165-cereal-rye-suitability-for-roller-crimping-no-till-applications
    Wood burning will be essential in a fossil fuel poor future. Now is the time to find out about rocket stoves.
    “Heating with wood is often considered a natural and economical alternative to electricity or fossil fuels. However, even with a fairly new and efficient woodstove, many cords of wood are required for burning over the course of a single winter, and incomplete combustion can contribute to poor air quality. A rocket mass heater is an earthen masonry heating system which provides clean, safe and efficient warmth for your home, all while using 70-90% less fuel than a traditional woodstove.”
    https://www.newsociety.com/Books/R/The-Rocket-Mass-Heater-Builder-s-Guide
    Best wishes
    Frank Hemming

  3. Hi Tim,
    I have spent a couple of days working on a synthesis of seeds with the Terra and energy based currency units. It will take me a week or two to work my notes into a workable model but will send a first draft when I have it done.

    https://www.scribd.com/document/31636027/The-Terra-TRC-White-Paper-2004#fullscreen&from_embed

    7
    (1b). Commodity Valuation in Terras.
    The value of this sale of oil to the Terra Alliance (i.e., how many Terras the one million barrels of oil will be worth) is calculated at market prices. This is accomplished by determining the commodity prices at the time of the sale for both the inventory in question (in this case oil) and the sum of each of the commodities in the Terra basket using a pre-agreed-upon procedure.
    9
    The formula used to calculate the commodity valuation in Terras is:
    Commodity value per unit
    X
    number of units = TerrasTerra Unit Value

    • Roger

      Interesting but this isn’t a money problem. It’s an energy problem. The exponential run up in debt has worked marvelously to keep a system running beyond it’s limits. What your suggesting is a gold standard of sorts. Had the world not broken the Bretton Woods the system would have stagnated in the 70s. Simply put our present way of life is unaffordable without money manipulation that realty would set in very quickly. Instead we are awaiting a net energy peak and decline that no monetary policy will change.

    • JJ Roberts Hi JJ Roberts, What I am working on is a synthesis of The Terra with Seeds, whereby Exchange and distribution will be referenced to an energy unit of value which is fixed allowing apples and oranges to be compared against a neutral metric. Money is not neutral in its debt based form which is another issue raised by the BIBO money concept linked to above.
      If you read the full thread and also read all of Tims series of blogs since Seeds as released to the wild You will see that there is a very strong appreciation in Tims work of the shortcomings of the debt based financialised economy, CHeck back in a few weeks and a link will be here to what I come up with I am hoping to put together a working model that allows variables to be compared and that will reference available Energy Data bases in real time via their API.,s incorporating that with seeds should allow for some scenarios to be run with respect to how best to apply the energy budget for production and consumption unhampered by the false spun theories of mentary values.

    • https://www.energycommunity.org/default.asp?action=introduction

      Hi Tim,

      have you come across this tool before it looks very adaptable for our purposes and promising for interrogating its native API and incorporating other API data. Playing with it now and will report back.

      https://cds.cern.ch/record/1640922/files/9780415539661_TOC.pdf

      I have found a whole bunch of interesting fields which may assist in hashing together a hybrid Seeds/BIBO energy based value-based metric.

      Just getting started but take a look at LEAP it’s pretty funky.

  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317720746_Oil_prices_socio-political_destabilization_risks_and_future_energy_technologies

    No sense re-inventing the wheel Intro here refers to the work of Frederick Soddy , ** Money is the nothing we get for something before we can buy anything**

    https://www.iea-shc.org/data/sites/1/publications/2015-11-A-Fundamental-Look-at-Supply-Side-Energy-Reserves-for-the-Planet.pdf

    I will harvest as much data as I can from open source data sets sadly this UN data set seeems to have been moved.

    https://www.unenvironment.org/climatechange/mitigation/RenewableEnergy/SolarDataset/tabid/52005/Default.aspx

    • This report will give you some idea of my own perspective regarding Debt and the Oil Business.

      http://priceofoil.org/…/2011/01/DrillingIntoDebt.pdf

      A number of studies have shown an increased likelihood of violentinternal conflicts in the oil-exporting countries as compared to othercountries (Collier and Hoeffler, 2004; Ross, 2004a, 2004b, 2012;Fearon, 2005; Humphreys, 2005). Lujala (2010) finds that oil sub-stantially prolongs conflict when located inside the conflict zone. Belland Wolford (2015) show that in poor countries the discovery of newoil fields alone (even before the start of actual mining) significantlyincreases the likelihood of internal conflict. Moreover, the probabilityof civil wars in the countries producing oil, gas and diamonds is foundto have increased in the period from the beginning of the 1970s untilthe end of the 1990s (Ross, 2006)

      Oil prices, socio-political destabilization risks, and future energy technologies (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317720746_Oil_prices_socio-political_destabilization_risks_and_future_energy_technologies [accessed Mar 05 2018].

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