[ExI] repercieve the economy [was: Engineering]
ablainey at aol.com
ablainey at aol.com
Fri Dec 21 14:34:03 UTC 2012
Yes essentially I am talking about EROEI. But rather than hiding the the false economy in a financial system where it is easy to obfuscate the reality. I am promoting a system that wears it heart on its sleeve.
Today we can exploit energy sources with less return than the initial investment and still make a profit! Take an undefined & inefficient collection method where a physical energy source is put in a tanker ready for market. The eroei can be less than parity yet you still have a salable product which someone will buy. That product can change hands many times each adding a markup and taking their cut. By the time it gets to the end user the total eroei for the whole system can outweigh the energy contained in the tanker. Yet people are still buying and others getting rich. A nonsense situation. Entropy in action.
This is only possible because of the way the economy works today where the true cost in energy is not reflected in the perceived value of the product. If we had an energy economy you would never buy that tanker and it would never have been filled in the first place unless it was economic in terms of energy. It would be like buying a loaf of bread for the price of 5 loaves.
This isn't a way to solve the energy shortfall, peak oil etc. Its main reason is to make these problems and all other energy wastage visible. Which would drive innovation, efficiency and new energy production methods.
It cuts through the lies we are telling ourselves and our politicians tendency to think printing new bank notes will somehow make energy appear from thin air.
One benefit is that we will still be using symbols and this gives economic hope and flexibility. As it allows for leverage and using untapped future energy reserves as currency today. Promisorry note based on energy we will be able to harvest in the future. Admittedly still a kind of fiat system, but one where the backing is tangible and undeniable. the energy is out there and we know the sun always shines and have a fair idea of its constant output. It will never fail (in terms of human lifespan) compared to oil which has diminishing returns. As such there is inherent stability and an infinite non terra centric view of that stability. We will always be chasing the maximum which we know is out there and never achieving it. Rather than trying to get more from less as we do today.
The need for exploiting sources like Nuclear would become apparent also that we also need to exploit the waste. RTEG, TEG, Gamma voltaic systems will seem obvious choices to collect the low yield but long term energy from spent fuel. Non renewables will be seen as bonus windfalls. Mearly short term boosts that give a leg up. They won't be the constant fixation and goals as they are today. I won't go into energy storage, but it would also obviously become a major issue. A battery/capacitor would be like a piggy bank. It already is if you are on a solar feed in scheme.
In a sense it creates an infinite economy. The universe becomes cash that we haven't collected yet. That cash is infinite, indestructible and indivisible. Compare that to an exponentially growing population of bald monkeys confined to a single rock. Who base their concept of value on fraudulent promises printed on dead trees. Seems a bit silly really.
Maybe its my own perception? To me there is only two things of real value in the universe. Energy and information. Everything else is a means to those ends.
From: BillK <pharos at gmail.com>
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 17:17
Subject: Re: [ExI] repercieve the economy [was: Engineering]
On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 1:21 PM, ablainey wrote:
> I have been thinking about this for years now and it is becoming every more
> realistic when looking at our current economic system. Rather than try to
> find ways to raise money for future energy solutions. I think we need to
> re-evaluate the way we perceive the problem and change our economy
> We are arguing in terms of MWh gained per $ spent. When we should be arguing
> in terms of energy outlay per energy return. MWh out vs MWh in.
> If the economy were shifted to an energy backed standard instead of a
> tangible commodity like Gold. It would be easier to see what pays for itself
> and yields a profit.
> A solar satellite would then have a substantial energy cost value instead of
> a $ value. It may cost 200MWh to produce and launch the thing and have an
> estimated return of 30000MWh during its expected lifetime. (random figures)
> I just think that in a world where energy is the number one commodity, we
> need to start using it as our global unit of currency. Doing so is the only
> way to increase our efficiency as a species and will drive us to the stars
> as it will be the only realistic method of long term economic growth.
I think what you are talking about is EROEI (energy return on energy invested).
Unfortunately this leads to the 'Energy Trap' that we are currently
In its early days, oil frequently yielded an EROEI in excess of 100:1,
meaning that 1% or less of the energy contained in a barrel of oil had
to be expended to deliver that barrel of oil. Not a bad bargain. Oil
production today more typically has an EROEI around 20:1, while tar
sands and oil shale tend to be about 5:1 and 3:1, respectively.
An EROEI reduction on this scale leads to economic recession.
And it is called a trap because our civilisation has to spend more
resources to get energy than we get back in return.
We need a new source of 'free' energy very soon before we no longer
have the resources available to develop new energy sources.
Politically, the Energy Trap is a killer. In my lifetime, I have not
witnessed in our political system the adult behavior that would be
needed to buckle down for a long-term goal involving short-term
sacrifice. Or at least any brief bouts of such maturity have not been
politically rewarded. I’m not blaming the politicians. We all scream
for ice cream. Politicians simply cater to our demands. We tend to
vote for the candidate who promises a bigger, better tomorrow—even if
such a path is untenable.
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