Energy Systems and Social
What a great read!
The Auberle Argument
o Developing New Knowledge
o If we know the answers, we don’t have a job.
o Doc Smith puts the readings into a very
complex matrix of years of study
o Student X is thinking these ideas for the first
o Student X might have the better
How Do Humans Interact With The
o Pay attention to your energy participation in
your daily life
o When you do something think about the
energy life of the activity
o When you consume something think about the
energy history of the item
Some New Terminology
n Something from without the system or control
o Katrina for residents of New Orleans
n Something from within the system
o Climate weirding!
n See how quickly our knowledge systems change!
o Limited by the resources
o Optimized for life or maximized for numbers?
n Singing and dancing?
n Breathing and procreating?
n Are children normal or inferior?
o In an economic sense
n At what level of subsistence does the income
elasticity become negative?
o Sieferle is very Parsonian in his approach
o Discontinuity in circumstance
o Perhaps some exogenous changes in climate
resulted in a major need for social/economic
change in production systems
o Thus agriculture.
o Social acceptance
o “A New Metabolic Regime”
o A confluence of disaster and opportunities
n Sound familiar?
o Nutritional blanding
n diet of necessity
o LESS leisure
n Less singing and dancing
o Social differentiation
o Was agriculture a better lifeway?
o More people, but was life better?
o Irreversible changes
n Land use
Controlled Solar Energy System
o More variability in outcomes???
o Substitutability between 3 possible uses of
n Animals for work
n Wood for heat and shelter
o Economic tradeoffs
Eat it or Heat it
o Metabolic energy for
o Mechanical energy
o Thermal energy from
o Mutually exclusive
o Singing and dancing
o Time, weight
On a feedlot, young beef cattle are grown to market weight on a diet that consists primarily
of grain. Cattle that are fed grain reach market size at about 14 months of age,
compared to 18 to 24 months for grass-fed beef, but raising cattle on grain is much
more energy-intensive. (EPA)
o Expands available living locations
Recently I discovered a company through a Google ad that
made the Eskimold. Well I ordered one and we had a hoot
making this lopsided Igloo. I recommend it for a fun winter
o Agricultural societies were limited by distance
in terms of energy budgets
o 1 person = 40 KG and 25 km/day at a cost of
1 kg of food.
o 40 days, round trip, or the trade is limited to
o Draw the circle for trade: only high value
o Location Economics
Agriculture Invites Innovation
o High value trade
o More productive crops
o More productive transport
o Increasing population pressures
o The NEED for improving the energy
conversion of solar energy
The Incoming Solar Energy Limits
o Transport and thus trade cannot have a
negative energy balance
o No longer true in the fossil age
o A need for increased bioefficiency of crops
n More monoculture
n More requirements for human interaction
n Genetic engineering of corn, grains and potatoes
o Concentrated populations of humans
o Concentrated specific matter
n Nutrients and by-products
o Removing same matter from the hinterlands
o Removing the productivity of soils
o Removing the productivity of mines
o Reducing the diversity of the endowments
Dust to Dust
o Agriculture and urbanization focuses attention
on specific randomly distributed elements
o These elements are not returned for
distribution after use
o Imagine farming on a graveyard
o This reduces the potentiality of the incoming
Conservation Of Matter
o Concentrating randomly distributing elements
o Reusing those same elements?
o Recombine and redistribute for reuse
o Recall the Jacobs conduit idea
o A new chemical regime
“The only and epochal escape from
this dilemma was to finally break
the bonds of this system and to
shift to an energy regime of an
altogether different nature.”
highly significant or important especially bringing about or
marking the beginning of a new development or era
Population Pressures Mandate A
o “Economic growth became the system
o “If it ends in a dead end, there is a danger,
because of its tendency towards globalisation
and universalisation, that for the first time in
history not only a single society but in
principle all of humanity will be affected.”
A New Paradigm
o Agrarian societies were innovative within a
o Fossil fuel societies are expansive in terms of
energy use with no obvious budget.
o Fossil fuel societies are by definition a
transitory phase of humanity
o Hunter gatherer societies had lots of singing
o Megafuana hunting 40-60 MJ/hour
n Lots of fun
o Some kind of change = small game hunting 4-6
o Agriculture 12-20 MJ/hr
n Some singing off key
o Fossil Fuels
n No limit
o Human: 100 pounds (ouch) walk 15 miles a day and
eats 2.2 pounds of that food from incoming solar
o Gasoline: moves a 1500 pound car 30 miles in half
an hour and doesn’t need to eat today’s sunshine.
o The limitations are gone
o Or are they?
o “led to the formation of behaviour that appears
absurd from an energy point of view.”
A Short Fling
o A treasure of development
o Climate change
o Singing and dancing
o 62% of moms feel guilty, what about dads?