A message to the occupiers of planet Earth: It’s All about Energy: Towards a Regenerative Earth
(Concepts: Embodied Energy, the Laws of Thermodynamics, Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI), Fiat Currency, Equality)
One of the secrets of the universe is in plain sight.
When you eat a piece of cake, it provides energy for your body to function. If you had to pay for the cake using money, you cannot mistake the money you used to acquire the cake for the cake. You can’t eat the money. So why is everyone chasing the money instead of the cake?
The future will not be like the past.
While it is prudent to study past geology and ecology of the planet, the second law of thermodynamics indicates that energy, always seeking equilibrium, is unidirectional. This is a law that supersedes any law created in the human mind and implemented by humans – The laws of nature are outside of human influence in this dimension.
Ecologically, for approximately 2 billion years of plant and animal life on Earth, sun energy has accumulated on the Earth through life forms. Aside from the gift of petroleum that ancient life forms have provided, one result is that the height of biodiversity on Earth was approximately 1880 – just before humans began having a negative impact on Earth’s carrying capacity. Biodiversity is an energy index or energy indicator. Biodiversity has some impact on the planet relative to Earth’s geological history. In that sense, some of the currently still high biodiversity of the planet is mitigating the geological changes that resemble previous periods of time when the planet had higher sea levels. But at the current rate of species extinction, at least 200 times that of normal, the planet is losing biodiversity at a rapid and alarming rate; a rate that is also exponential. With this understanding it is plausible that humans can conclude that investing energy into biodiversity will have benefits to mitigate overuse of energy in another form of bioaccumulation (fossil fuels) and the recent introduction of life-challenging products of
nuclear fission. Humans need to use biodiversity as a resilience tool as it is now acting in that capacity relative to geological time. But for humans to have a role in increasing biodiversity, humans must have easy access to energy when needed, and use that energy in very specific ways… sometimes deciding not to use energy at all.
The only way for humans to solve this problem is for humans to consider, under all and any circumstance, energy return on energy invested when making decisions about any action to take. Often humans who have too much energy don’t make decisions based on energy; the glut of energy distorts their understanding of its contextual abundance or scarcity. The primary framework for decision making, especially in the “West” is money. And this only takes place because it appears there is so much energy available right now. Humans use money to make decisions, especially the ones they consider important. In this universe, this is an error in judgement.
One way to go about encouraging people to make the proper decisions with full consideration of energy-return-on-energy-invested and the Laws of Thermodynamics is to change the systems of exchange to reflect energy rather than the disconnected system humans now have with fiat currency (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_currency). This is only one way to approach the problem and it not necessarily exclusive to all other strategies that consider energy-return-on-energy-invested. But it’s one that has broad appeal and can be easily instituted relative to the problems that Earth and your species will face if the destruction of the ecosphere continues unabated. It is a rapid band-aide approach that has a specific function in this time and space to prepare people to use a system of energy tabulation when preparing to make decisions about the future.
The power to reverse the damage humans have done to Mother Earth, your Mother Ship, requires more control on energy, and energy placed in specific areas. You have the tools to rejuvenate the planet, increase her biodiversity, and bring human relationships back into balance with nature, but it requires your complete focus and concentration on the science of energy. This will not be an easy task because energy also has many definitions and forms, so it’s difficult at first for people to understand “energy”. The idea of energy is a moving target because ultimately all things are energy. Everything is energy. In many cases, the ecological rejuvenation that must take place is best done by nature alone – meaning no amount of human intervention (and therefore energy expenditure by humans) should be undertaken. Simply stated, the energy return on nature doing the job is much greater a return than if humans intervene.
Importantly, energy tabulation and understanding only work in conjunction with two other important secrets: Equality (where no one or group of people oppress others – very much unlike the global slave system now in place on planet Earth) and the rejection of faith in technology. The Occupy / (Un)Occupy movement is best doing this.
Another reason that energy literacy amongst the human population is going to be a significant task is because people are familiar with the way investments works relative to money. You take a certain amount of money and invest it; the result is some sum of money over and above the original amount invested. You take 10 dollars and invest it for an annual return of 10% for example. The banks expect rates of investment return when they lend you money – if you use credit from a bank using a credit card, the bank’s rate of return is sometimes 20-25%. Since humans know very well this system of expectation, it frames the discussion presented here about how to “invest” energy for a return on that initial investment. Humans expect a return that is reasonable and at this point in time 20-25% is accepted as reasonable when using short term credit on a credit card. There will be significant reluctance to convince the world that humans must now use energy as an
indicator of value in contrast to money. Two things take place when you use energy as your instrument of investment. First, there is a specific and considered limit on how much energy is available, and second, the rate of return is more closely defined by the rate of energy return of nature itself. In nature, the rate of return on energy invested, on average, is drastically lower than the rates of return in the monetary system humans are and have become accustom to. If you are using energy as your investment tool, the rate of return is in-line with the median rate of return for nature – and that stands perhaps under 2%.
So while humans can still gain and grow with energy investments, that growth is
slower and takes longer. It is a rate of return defined by the universe, not by the banks. Ironically, as such it is also a rate of return that is entirely more fair and egalitarian. No longer is an arbitrary and unilateral decision about the “rate” of return defined by humans – usually humans how have power and use power to retain power. A rate of return defined by nature can only be more reasonable and easier for humans to agree upon.
Experiments have shown that cooperation yields a higher energy return on energy invested than competition. For example, if you take a human and have that human shovel dirt from one location to another over the course of a certain period of time, that process, on average, produces a result that can be increased by 25% by simply adding another person to the process. Cooperation moved 25% more dirt than had the individuals moving dirt separately from each other – even in direct competition to each other. It is clear that
competition is contextually based on the specific goal in mind. And at this moment in the evolution of humans, human future prospects and its stated goal of survival on this planet would be best served by cooperation, not competition. That is rate of return more in-line with the rate of return of a credit card company – so while on average nature certainly takes a much longer time to produce an “investment” return, it is possible under the right
circumstances and intent that energy returns on certain energy investments can
be significant. Free energy may be one of those options, but even in a world of free energy, humans will still need to carefully consider what energy is expended upon.
Some people are starting to understand what embodied energy(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_energy) means, and some corporations are using it as a secondary decision making tool for large industrial projects. (The beauty of energy tabulation is that it can be applied to large industrial projects as much as it can be applied to the simple, most humanly intimate things in life.) But often industrial projects yield a net energy loss (such as the entire non-thorium nuclear industry, which is really just a ruse for nuclear weapons and a more local example, the Alberta Tar Sands) while at the same time turning a monetary profit because the monetary tabulation is what humans most use to make sense to each other and to convince each other that a project should take place even though there are significant environmental impacts and ultimate energy loss. Large industrial projects are useful for a few people at the exclusion of all other people, and therefore, in terms of energy, such projects have been and will continue to be seen throughout humanity’s future history as grave errors in human judgement.
A temporary institution of a global system of energy tabulation will transform the use of “money” and encourage corporations, organizations, governments and individuals to make important societal decisions by the tabulation of energy use and function; the energy unit must be used to determine how humans tabulate value, how humans determine how humans relate to each other, how humans make decisions; doing so is the next human evolutionary step. Without it, humans face extinction. This initial evolutionary step is simple and can be instituted quickly; once humans broadly understand that energy is what keeps humans alive, not money, the process becomes easier. Every living creature in nature uses instinctively this theorem to exist and propagate, why are humans not using
this same instinctual understanding?
It is energy and energy alone that has allowed the human species to grow in number on planet Earth to 7 billion people. It’s not technology or intelligent decisions or clever social schemes. Many will say that it is the invention of money that allowed humans so much – but without energy from somewhere, the money cannot deceive in the manner it currently
does. All of these must be animated by energy and energy alone (willpower is nothing without the physical energy to animate it). Without access to energy to animate ANY idea, those ideas have no wings. And the human effort to rejuvenate planet requires energy.
Energy is everything, and the reason humans are in the process of destroying the Earth is not because humans cannot have their needs and wants met; by contrast, at this moment in human history, humans have to simply reduce needs and wants so that other life forms may live too and bring the surplus of energy that biodiversity creates to planet Earth.
Any overage of energy use denies other life forms the opportunity to live.
The imbalance humans have with nature is directly related to how much energy humans use; sometimes something as simple as smoking a monoculture / corporately produced single cigarette is a large and unnecessary use of energy relative to nature. The cigarette can offer momentary pleasure to only those who would have that pleasure persist for the duration of their human life. It is very much unlike the pleasure a human feels when they consume a volume of water. Humans will never eliminate cigarettes because self-destructive behaviour is all part of being human. But in terms of the human collective, the body politic and nature itself can do without the corporate production and mass consumption of products that are an affront to nature.
There are so many examples of energy being consumed in unwise ways. An individual’s life will be better if all other humans understand the principles that belie and inform all successful life (nature). Things that belie successful human life include: Large quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere or in one’s immediate space; Toxins produced by energy use; Toxins produced by energy acquisition from the earth (be it mining for oil or metals), etc. ; the creation of radioactive material on planet Earth. Things that inform successful life: Pure water; Energy on hand and available when needed; Biodiversity; Variety and purity of food, etc.
One part of the Laws of Thermodynamics that cannot be overlooked is that when energy is transformed from one form to another there is a change in composition of the original form of energy. That means that in the case of energy use – using gasoline to move around in a car – the form of energy in gasoline is dispersed into separate components: heat, light, sound, CO2, CO, heavy metals, water, etc. Humans sometimes refer to the end products
of this process as “waste”. But this statement is only accurate if you have a situation where nature cannot absorb the results of energy transformation. Nature is the primary consumer of human waste in all forms. But when humans make “waste” at a rapid rate, as is taking place at this moment in history, the ability for nature to absorb waste i compromised and in many cases, diminished.
Humans tend to rely upon the notion that nature is all powerful and can take care of all of the waste humans produce. Humans rely upon nature to clean-up and absorb waste, mess, by-products… and it usually does, but not at a rate that is equivalent to the rate at which humans now create waste. Humans are using too much energy in a short period of time – it’s really that simple.
Human have expended approximately a trillion barrels of oil in a very short period of time relative to the amount of waste absorption nature can provide in the same period of time. While nature is unable to absorb the large amounts of waste from the large amounts of energy use, humans often simultaneously decrease nature’s ability to handle waste. Many of the things humans use energy for also destroy nature’s capability – like mining and road building. This is sometimes called Energy Cannibalism(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_cannibalism). This human activity can be likened to a snake eating its own tail. Humans will consume themselves very soon without transformation. That transformation starts with acknowledging that the universal currency is energy and this understanding must be functionalized in the human population first with a form of an energy tabulation or energy credit system that is global in scale. It should be mentioned that currencies do not necessarily have to disappear – they will have their place for entertainment, but will likely not be used to operate basic needs as is done today.
If humans make all forms of symbolic exchange a unit of energy, a few things take place: an automatic limit to the amount of energy units in circulation is initially stable, and any increase will, by nature, increase slowly in an ergonomic fashion. Investment of energy units logically results in an energy surplus. Humans will not necessarily lose their coveted sense of how they currently relate to each other by way of a monetary method, but such a
format will be secondary, and hopefully over time disappear.
Humans need to slow down the planet’s human activity and reduce the amount of resource consumption – particularly the energy and nutrients humans throughput their bodies. Producing food with energy- invested-for-energy-return in mind shows that the energy return on organic food is much higher than petroleum food and therefore preferable (without necessarily taking into account that organic food production slows down energy harvest and consumption to a level of waste creation that nature can handle without impairment; organic food is also more nutricious for the human body).
When considering the complexity of energy-return-on-energy-invested, it is important to institute an energy understanding within the current human conceptualization of how to do things. Humans can’t immediately all become raw-vegans and expect this to work. Humans can’t all be expected to produce food right away; there’s always a learning curve. What is realistic however is to allow people to accumulate wealth as an index of energy accumulation, not monetary criteria, to initially have them understand the laws that govern all life in the universe. This shift will have radical and long lasting effects on the planet, on humanity, and on other living species.
There is no correlation between energy and money. It does not exist. The correlation between energy is energy alone – it is represented by units of energy. If you want humanity to survive, if you want the human species to continue to exist, you must learn about energy, you must teach each other about energy, and you must relate to each other through energy, NOT through money. If you LOVE you must use as little energy as you can so that other life forms may continue to exist as you exist. Energy is how humans relate to each other, not money, not power, not superiority, not inequality and oppression of entitlement. In nature all living entities are equal and the human species must reflect that reality and embrace it so as to evolve with nature. It has taken 5 billion years to get to this point; humans require the realization that energy is the currency of the universe and understanding it as the basis of everything provides the key to how humans can stop the human destruction of the ecosphere and the ultimate destruction of themselves as a result. Being enslaved to each other as humans is anachronistic in a world where humans each know the true basis of life. Without the realisation that energy is the currency of the universe the human species will perish. It’s all about Energy.