Integral Energy: Uniting Mulitple Perspectives on our Thermodynamic World

Obviously the title of this discussion is a playful plagiarism of the book on Integral Ecology by Esbjorn-Hargens and Zimmerman. I do believe that the subject of gross physical energy has been woefully under-discussed in the integral community.

A great place to begin is a recent essay by Richard Heinberg that has been received to high acclaim over on the Resilience.org website, which is operated by the Post Carbon Institute, for which Heinberg is a senior analyst. Heinberg has been writing about energy for 12 years, and is the author of books such as Cloning the Buddha: The Moral Impact of Biotechnology; The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies; Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World; Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines; Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis; The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality.

In his latest essay, Our Renewable Future, Heinberg demonstrates that he is what I would call an energy realist. He does not demonize the fossil fuel industry, but he clearly lays out the formidable challenges we face as the climate crisis worsens and as easy access to these fuels continues to recede.  Nor does he communicate as would a lobbyist for the renewable energy industry, hyping the benefits and downplaying the problems in this field.

Instead, Heinberg approaches the problems from multiple perspectives and honestly conveys his own biases, and encourages us to broaden our thinking:

I consider myself a renewable energy advocate: after all, I work for an organization called Post Carbon Institute. I have no interest in discouraging the energy transition—quite the contrary. But I’ve concluded that many of us, like Koningstein and Fork, have been asking the wrong questions of renewables. We’ve been demanding that they continue to power a growth-based consumer economy that is inherently unsustainable for a variety of reasons (the most obvious one being that we live on a small planet with finite resources). The fact that renewables can’t do that shouldn't actually be surprising.

What are the right questions? The first, already noted, is: What kind of society can up-to-date renewable energy sources power? The second, which is just as important: How do we go about becoming that sort of society?

As we’ll see, once we begin to frame the picture this way, it turns out to be anything but bleak.

I believe this to be an extremely important essay, and the embedded links provide even more depth, providing a great resource for essential 21st century energy literacy.

- David

Our Renewable Future

Or, What I’ve Learned in 12 Years Writing about Energy

(7000 words, about 25 minutes reading time)

Folks who pay attention to energy and climate issues are regularly treated to two competing depictions of society’s energy options.* On one hand, the fossil fuel industry claims that its products deliver unique economic benefits, and that giving up coal, oil, and natural gas in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind will entail sacrifice and suffering (this gives a flavor of their argument). Saving the climate may not be worth the trouble, they say, unless we can find affordable ways to capture and sequester carbon as we continue burning fossil fuels.

On the other hand, at least some renewable energy proponents tell us there is plenty of wind and sun, the fuel is free, and the only thing standing between us and a climate-protected world of plentiful, sustainable, “green” energy, jobs, and economic growth is the political clout of the coal, oil, and gas industries (here is a taste of that line of thought).

Which message is right? Will our energy future be fueled by fossils (with or without carbon capture technology), or powered by abundant, renewable wind and sunlight? Does the truth lie somewhere between these extremes—that is, does an “all of the above” energy future await us? Or is our energy destiny located in a Terra Incognita that neither fossil fuel promoters nor renewable energy advocates talk much about? As maddening as it may be, the latter conclusion may be the one best supported by the facts.

If that uncharted land had a motto, it might be, “How we use energy is as important as how we get it.”...

Read the full essay here.

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A good article on the Tiny House movement of which I support to various degrees: 

http://www.straight.com/news/817631/tiny-homes-are-merely-trendy-fa...

But let's be clear here: this is a band-aid solution to a condition where a small group of people have hijacked the planet for their own amusement and entertainment. IMO, this group in sworn to no more concessions to the masses, and the future will be predicated on that obstinance. 

And on the nuclear front: 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nuclear-power-needs-to-do...

The continued thinking that it's a good idea to give the most irresponsible species in the known universe continued use of this technology. And if that's not enough, let's package that technology within corporate neoliberalism wherein we can deregulate the industry and get private corporations to run these reactors. Bravo! Great plan!

Now where these reactors could be used safely: imagine a university that wasn't run by neoliberalism but was run as a wholistic environmental system trying to integrate the best of all human endeavours; with an oversight administration sworn  to global responsibility, enacting principles of justice and fairness. Well then, yes, under the present global circumstance this group would be worthy of the risks  involved. 

Andrew,

Where we may differ a bit is that I tend to shy away from framing the issue as us vs. them (the oil companies).  I understand and sympathize with your view to a certain extent, but I don't find it to be the best way to view the situation, nor as the best way to take action.

I think it was in 2013 that Bill McKibben wrote a popular article for Rolling Stone on "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math," where he stated that climate change needed an enemy, which he suggested should be the oil companies. I wrote a post featuring a few links to writers who advocated a different approach (Responses to Bill McKibben).  See especially this one.

While I agree that corporations should be held accountable for their actions, in the bigger picture I think it is the entire culture that has to shoulder the blame for the mess we're in.  It comes down to the idea that we're all caught up in this meme that economic growth is necessary.  It's the Global System 2 that Pogany talks about - a self-organized system that has developed a pretty strong immune system to ward off ideas that would bring it down.  You can call it "the consensus trance" as James Howard Kunstler does, or you can call it cognitive bias or a myth of the given as postmodernists do, or you can call it an epistemic fallacy per Bhaskar.

The way I see it is that the world is stuck in a way of operating that at one time seemed quite useful, following Odum/Lotka's "fourth law of thermodynamics" - the Maximum Power Principle, where systems that maximize power will out-compete and be more successful than other systems.  This "worked" when fossil fuels were plentiful, and when the sinks of the earth's ability to absorb the waste products seemed to be infinite.

We have not yet learned that in today's environment, the best way to maximize power is to conserve and to share (more like a well established forest, and less like a competitive, fast growing weedy landscape).



andrew said:

Hi David, I appreciate your scholarly adherence to detail and find your attitude towards generalized laypersons refreshing :) It's true that the wests neoliberal's have not succeeded in privatizing the whole globe as of yet. But, I don't think there is a place they haven't tried to colonize. It appears at this time, that Vlad and Xi want much more say about how financial/petrochemical hegemony plays out. My grim prediction is that this new stand-off may lead to WWW3, but I certainly could be wrong there. 

On the mental condition of those who run these massive industries whether state or private: from all the info I have Gazprom and such have devastated ecosystems in their countries in the same way that B.P. et al devastate ecosystems in neoliberal run countries. In all instances the denial, lack of empathy , utter ecological and personal damage is dismissed; and business as usual must be maintained . By definition, this is psychopathic behaviour. 

One does wonder though, how this resource might have played out if it was managed with skillful means with consideration to the people and the planet given equal weight in decision making over the last 200 years. In stead we have had a pornographic orgy of greed and destruction perpetrated upon the planet and its inhabitants who are now the victims of massive social control mechanisms.

Hi David, once again, I find myself appreciative of your view, however, even in criminal court there are degrees of intention; and when a group of people are consciously and willfully bent on destruction, then, am not so sure they should be sympathized with. Pathological serial behaviour spanning generations is more than just a freaky coincidence. 

Here's Gupta being a P.O. naysayer: 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/02/why-the-crash-in-oil-prices-...

I agree with him that there is plenty of oil to last out the century. Eventually, it will run out, but one thing I am convinced of: the companies that control this resource couldn't care one iota about green environmentalism . The atmosphere is their casino in the same way the globe is the central bankers casino. And they are the two main players on the globe today , who will also use religion in any way that can benefit them . 

I'll check out the links you posted later this evening. 

Well, where to start? There are plenty of articles around like this, and it seems almost intuitive - a glut of oil, and low oil prices must disprove Peak Oil, right? No. There are very good reasons to hold the counter-intuitive position that the current "glut" and low prices are consistent with a peak oil situation. Richard Heinberg's latest is a short article (After the Peak) that briefly outlines this position quite well:

Slightly ahead of forecast, conventional oil production started drifting lower in 2005, resulting in several years of record high prices—which led the industry to develop technology to extract tar sands and tight oil, and also incentivized the US and Brazil to begin producing large quantities of biofuels. But high petroleum prices also gradually weakened the economies of oil-dependent industrial nations, reducing their demand for liquid fuels. The resulting mismatch between growing supply and moderating demand has resulted in a temporary market glut and falling oil prices.
 
Crashing prices are in turn forcing the industry to cut back on drilling. As a result of idled rigs, global crude production will probably contract in the last half of 2015 through the first half of 2016. Even if prices recover as a result of falling output, production will probably not return to its recent upward trajectory, because the US tight oil boom is set to go bust around 2016 in any case. And banks, once burned in their lavish support for marginally profitable drilling projects, are unlikely to jump back into the unconventionals arena with both feet.

In response to Gupta's piece, there are numerous inaccuracies and misleading statements. He begins with some strawman type arguments, quoting science fiction novels and extremist P.O. websites (he quotes a decade old site that was taken down by the author who moved on to become an astrologist when his oil crash scheme apparently wasn't making enough money and then reposted by someone else).

He speaks of P.O. as the idea of "running out" of oil, rather than it's true definition of reaching a half-way point of available supplies.

He completely misrepresents the Limits to Growth report of 1972, which presented several scenarios, but did not make specific predictions as claimed; in fact numerous follow-up reports have confirmed the Limits to Growth report as being remarkably accurate.  Gupta instead relies on the discredited anti-environmentalist Bjorn Lumborg as his reference. 

He lumps a number of peak oil writers together and says "they have been declaring peak oil for over 20 years," implying incorrectly that they all said it would happen 20 years ago.  The first post-Hubbert report was by Campbell in 1998 (17 years ago) predicting a conventional oil peak in 2010. As Heinberg points out, a little later "Laherrère added that the peak in conventional oil would cause prices to rise, creating the incentive to develop more unconventional petroleum resources. The result would be a delayed peak for “all liquid fuels,” which he estimated would occur around the year 2015."

That's about all the time I have for debunking Gupta. 

Is there enough oil left to fry the planet? Sure! That's why both P.O. and C.C. need to be addressed together as part of one larger fossil fuel problem. 

Is there enough oil to last out the century?  That depends on what is meant by "enough."  There will always be some amount left, but I believe we're already seeing the signs that we don't have enough to power consumer society.  Even the International Energy Agency is much more bearish that Gupta.  Check out my article on "Watching the Watchdogs: 10 Years of the IEA World Energy Outlook."

David

andrew said:

Here's Gupta being a P.O. naysayer: 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/02/why-the-crash-in-oil-prices-...

I agree with him that there is plenty of oil to last out the century. Eventually, it will run out, but one thing I am convinced of: the companies that control this resource couldn't care one iota about green environmentalism . The atmosphere is their casino in the same way the globe is the central bankers casino. And they are the two main players on the globe today , who will also use religion in any way that can benefit them . 

I'll check out the links you posted later this evening. 

Hi David, I suspect Gupta to be towing the party line. What I mean is that the politics of India today will most likely script narratives which suit their best interest. So no outright denial of C.C.,officially, while signing solar and nuclear deals. We may yet see a strong 'investment' in anti-C.C. from within , too, as the PCMIC agents work their best interests there in the coming years. So, a billion people rightfully want and need toilets and there has to be a narrative which addresses the situation, and like most narratives an antithesis is needed: those rural american 'downsizer's' are delusional; or something like that. Of course, it may simply be that they have a more accurate understanding of thermodynamic systems and ecology, but we must never let facts get in the way of ideology. 

Anyway, I am going to go off on a tangent here so as to have some entertainment value during these long dreary days of winter. And we are for the moment talking about India; so this one is for Gupta and Rajiv:) It's premised on Whitehead's idea of a congruent and logically consistent speculative metaphysics ( in this case alternate) , one that steps out of the confines of my own immediate cultural conditioning ( see a coherent alternate speculative  metaphysics laid out in the Noah thread based on western theism), and my imaginative theory here will be premised using  an alternative dharma. 

The year: 1670

Location: the throne of the Lord of Karma situated beyond an immeasurable vast void that separates the material universe from spiritual godhead. 

The Lord of Karma, " The cries of the souls of the merchants, artists, and actors, musicians, and common people  are reaching unto thee my Lord." " The Brahman priests and warriors have abused their authority for 10,000 years upon the Earth , and the consequence of their indulgence has come unto thee."

The Spirit of Godhead, " I sanction thee to allow a re-balancing of the karmas and see that the merchants, artists,  and actors, musicians, and the common people of the earth readdress the inequities of the priests and their warriors. " " See to it that the next 300 years on earth gives rise to equality of the merchants, artists,  and actors, and musicians, and common people. " 

The Lord of Karma, ' Your will be done Sri!"

The year 1970: 

The Lord of Karma, " Your will has been implemented upon the earth Sri; the merchants, artists,  and actors, musicians, and the common people have affected an amazing culture upon the earth; but the warriors and priests are planning a rebellion against your will and are plotting a plan that will start in 2001; this will give the balance of power back to the warriors and the priests upon the Earth."

The Spirit of Godhead, "It is how it should be oh, Lord of Karma, as all things must attain balance , equilibrium, and flow within the material universe's according to natural law." " Oh, Lord of Karma, see that in the next 100 years that all the castes upon the Earth fulfill their rightful and just balance upon the Earth; that they learn that there is an interconnectedness to all things within their life systems that strives for balance, equilibrium and justice!"

The Lord of Karma, " Your will be done Sri!"

Okay, okay, it's  stuff like this that makes Harris and Dawkins want to shut down all the philosophy and religious departments within the academies! Atoms and cells are enough to explain everything! Dammit!'

Of course, there is always that darn pesky E.T. hypothesis and a female Neo is at 'er this time: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Ascending

A quote from Bhasker to finish up, " but of course in the process of evolution we do not know whether self-consciousness is the summit or whether there is something beyond it, only that there is no way that this is the absolute limit. "



DavidM58 said:

Andrew,

Yeah, that's pretty close. I wouldn't use the word "neoliberal" to describe capitalism in its entire history, but rather use that term to describe it's late, deficient phase.

Here I'll attempt to outline Peter Pogany's analysis. He calls classical capitalism Global System 1, stemming from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in 1776 to the beginning of WWI in 1914. “Laissez faire/metal money/zero multilateralism” – a free market system with little if any regulation, based on the gold standard, and zero collaboration between different nation-states.  

"An ideological conviction took root that blossomed into the following general view: Scientific progress and the magic power of the market are destined to make man (the subject) the master of nature (the object). The free market credo effectively locked the repertoire of socioeconomic behavior into the narrow closet of calculative, money-metric self-interest and turned the past into the prehistory of a rationally assessable, eternally valid, equilibrium-centric order."

Much like the idea of the earth itself as a self-organizing system (Lovelock and Margulis’ “Gaia hypothesis), Pogany sees the development at this time of world socio-economic systems that come to be self-organizing, hence "GS1").  What did it take for GS1 to emerge? A chaotic transition, otherwise known as the French revolution.

Much success ensued. The free market was right for its time and improvement compared to what came before. By the early 20th century, however, GS1 came into what would in Gebserian terms be called its "deficient" stage. Every stage concludes with a deficient stage, and we do not see smooth transitions that evolve to the next stage. For this reason Gebser did not like the term "evolution," but rather spoke of mutation. Each period of mutation was accomplished by breakdown and crisis before the new system would emerge. GS1 lasted until the outbreak of WWI in 1914 (Pogany, 2009).

 And so we see the chaotic transition of 1914 to 1945, between which were experienced two world wars and the great depression.

Emerging from that crisis was what Pogany called GS2 – Global System 2, where Roosevelt's New Deal and the Keynesian economic model was predominant. Pogany characterizes GS2 as "mixed economy/minimum bank reserve money/weak multilateralism." Until the fall of the communist governments in the 1980s, socialism remained an unsuccessful alternative to GS2. Both GS1 (unfettered market capitalism) and socialism influenced GS2, as it navigated its way between these two polarities.

GS2 performed very admirably for about 60 years, and an improvement on what came before. Some of the signs of deficiency, however, have been around a long time now, evident at least since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and the Meadows, et al Limits to Growth books, and the first American oil crisis. Real deficiency came with policies that were put in place with Reagan and Thatcher (a regressive move reaching back to the ideas of GS1).  And the global crisis of mutation/transition began with 9/11 and marked again with the collapsing economies of 2008.

Andrew, you then ask, "how do we make this move when a dialectic has been set up that says one is being a marxist or left wing socialist, etc., when one posits these new realities?"

This is the same question Pogany asks: "What will it take to go from the current hostile disgust with the dystopia of tightened modes of multilateral governance to people around the world on their knees begging for a planetary guild? It will take nothing less than a mutation in consciousness, as outlined in the oeuvre of Jean Gebser (1905-1973).” (quoted from his 2013 paper on Thermodynamic Isolation and the New World Order).

And that mutation in consciousness, he believes, will only take place after a chaotic transition - likely more chaotic than the great depression and two world wars. "The current world order," he said, "cannot deliver long-term sustainability on a planetary scale. By design, it is incapable of recognizing humanity’s thermodynamic reality." The new world order, GS3, will likely be characterized as "two-level economy/maximum bank reserve money/strong multilateralism." Micro-activities would be subject to globally-determined and nationally allocated macro-constraints; money creation would be curbed and disciplined." [Perhaps parallel to Rifkin's 3rd revolution, or Morin's dictum that "we must globalize and deglobalize."] 

Thus "The grand and painful path of consciousness emergence" (Gebser's EPO, p. 542).


andrew said:

Let me take a shot at distilling what you guys are saying:) Correct me where I am wrong please. The dominant economic paradigm today (neoliberal capitalism ) has reached the end of it useful function when you line it up with what we now know about reality thus far in the right quadrants... 

Hi David,

I'm enjoying this discussion and your determination to bring the energy realism/thermodynamic view to integrative discussions. I'm curious about a couple of things that have cropped up so far. One here and one in a reply above. In the reply above, you described the earth as a functionally closed system. This is true for the most part regarding material flows, but not with regard to energy. Energetically we receive an unending flow of resource from the sun and emit heat to space–thus we are functionally an open energetic system. With enough energy and no substantial material losses ecological and economic processes could theoretically continue forever based on the continued recycling of material elements. My second curiosity is about the emergence of the block chain algorithm(s) and how they might change Pogany's prediction of GS3. With the block chain and sufficient encryption (and this exists) there is no way to limit the creation of currency by central authorities. This would essentially nullify the one of the central tenant of GS3–namely that money creation would be curbed and disciplined. GS3 seems like a linear prediction based on the trajectory from GS1 to GS2, but what about disruptive possibilities like the block chain? How might they lead to something quite different?

Hi, Mr. Winton, David,  here is a book review link that JMG recommends as necessary reading : 

http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0902/article_10...

This weeks blog comments get into all kinds of questions including the open/close thermodynamic question. Interestingly, there were also queries on satori like experiences, and how such experiences might be able to solve what I call 'the black tar' issue ( I've brought that up here at IPS) . Also, queries as to whether E.T. was going to help out. No such luck! 

Bruce posted a recent kickstarter  link which talks about a new P2P money supply. My thoughts on this: if one has ever dealt with the worst kind of hoarders; then one knows it's almost impossible to correct their condition. We might think of the globalists as the worst kind of hoarders; it shall not be easy cleaning up their mess! But David is right , too, to some degree we are culpable, also. 

Hi Tim,

Nice to see you here; thanks for participating in this discussion.

Everything I've seen on the subject of thermodynamic systems points to the following three classifications: 1) an open system is one that allows both energy and matter to flow into and out of the system. 2) A closed system allows energy to flow in and out, but matter does not flow in or out.  3) An isolated system does not allow either energy or matter to flow in or out.

A human organism is an example of an open system - we take in food, water, and air, and we excrete waste out of our system.  The earth, with energy flow, but no material flow (except for the occasional asteroid, etc.) falls into the "closed" category.

The result, then, is that even with continuous recycling of materials, entropy eventually wins the day. Improved recycling practices (via modalities such as Permaculture and Cradle to Cradle) would certainly bring huge benefits, but we must acknowledge that every time material goes through a recycle, some quantity of usable energy is lost and the material is further degraded, and at some point the energy return on energy invested makes it uneconomic.

Peter Pogany wrote about this extensively in his book Rethinking the World, but perhaps most simply and plainly expressed in his article "From Fame to Shame: The Coming Crisis of Unecological Economics."  Here is an excerpt:

Given the practically unlimited availability of energy and Einstein’s famous discovery about the equivalence of mass and energy, resources appear to be unlimited; the terrestrial sphere seems like an inexhaustible standing reserve that can support economic growth ad infinitum. The practical asymmetry in the mass/energy nexus and the consequent inevitable build up of entropy in our ecological niche are the most obvious blind spots of this vision.

When thinking about mineralogical riches and production techniques (i.e., not about general relativity), mass can be equated with matter. As soon as we do that, the mirage of solar energy substituting for orderly structures vanishes. Energy can be produced from matter but the reverse is impossible in economically significant quantities. We cannot manufacture oil from heat, coal from electricity, copper from sunshine. The growth of biomass through photosynthesis also draws from the Earth’s fixed supply of matter. Photons from the yellow star do not become substance; they only facilitate the synthesis of what is already here.

Nor can the readying of energy for worldly applications take a detour around matter: Solar panels, hydroelectric and wind turbines, geothermal stations, and nuclear reactors are not built of massless ether by incorporeal seraphs and cherubs. And matter is (also) subject to the second law of thermodynamics. Some structure is always lost beyond redemption. All technological processes, whether the production of energy or material goods, reduce the ratio of economically accessible (“free”) energy to total energy (“free” plus “latent” energy) enclosed in matter. The consequences of irrevocable degradation (i.e., the transformation of low entropy structures into high entropy ones) remain with us forever.

Energy simply cannot pick up the tab for accessing or regaining material resources without further degrading matter...

In his book, he used the heading "The Growing Decrepitude of Matter." Interestingly, in one of his last papers (he passed away last May), Pogany argued that, although not technically correct, it might be beneficial to consider earth an isolated system in order to emphasize the need at this point in history for a recognition of "limits to demographic-economic expansion."

Regarding your second query about block chain algorithms and how they might change Pogany's prediction for what he calls GS3 (Global System 3). I'm not well versed on these algorithms or their application with Bitcoin, but I will share a bit more about Pogany's vision (his most optimistic scenario possible) about money and economy in GS3. FYI, before retiring to theorize and write, Pogany was a high level working economist with international experience.

From page 80 of "Rethinking the World":

"We call the global system that may emerge after GS2, two-level economy/strong multilateralism (GS3). At one level, production in specific sectors (e.g., mining, manufacture of structural materials, certain heavily polluting industries) will have to be controlled and divvied up among nations or multinational producers and some activities, such as space exploration, will have to be financed and organized jointly. At the second level, private enterprise and free markets would flourish under thoughtfully conceived quantitative constraints. Local socioeconomic environments may harden into close-knit self-help units or cantons.

These arrangements would require a new set of domestic and multilateral agencies. GS3 multilateralism would represent a profound change from GS2's "weak" version. It implies the liberal-democratically valid consent of the world's population to a moral and legal authority to overrule national preferences in the interest of long-term global interests. The accomplishment of this global transformation is the macro-future's optimistic scenario."

Please see also Pogany's 2012 paper presented to the Gebser Society conference on "An Aperspectival Opinion on the Future of 'Smart Money' " which I've attached below (under the title GebserConferencePaper2012.pdf).

He believed the creation of debt money needs to be curbed, because it then creates the need for vigorous economic growth ("Money created by debt to be repaid with interest is the link between the economy's present and its ever larger and more complex future." p. 7)

I think I can see where you're coming from to characterize GS3 as a linear projection, but I don't really think that is accurate. Pogany is very clear that the level of change required will necessitate a significant bifurcation - a mutation of consciousness:

"To round up the argument, the wide scale, generalized mutation into the integral structure will not be the result of self-development, an individually willed inward journey to our quintessential core, the 'itself.' Rather, it will be compelled along with the emergence of a third global system (GS3) that will take into account  humanity's thermodynamic reality -- the limits to GLOPPE's growth [GLOPPE = GLObal Population Plus Economy]. GS3's main attributes could be two-level economy/strong multilateralism/maximum bank reserve money...

Frightening as this prospect may sound, as it evokes the specter of 'world government,' Gebser serves here as a source of optimistic reassurance. Since GS3 and integral consciousness are identical, the world is bound to discover that only the return of archaic pre-temporality, enriched with the unfolded powers of consciousness can assure both a more fulfilling, anxiety-free individual life and the world's survival under dignified conditions, materially and socially.

As far as the monetary subsystem is concerned, it would reflect the need to control both the scale and structure of economic activities. Maximum bank reserve would restrict the ability of banks to extend loans.... While such an arrangement may not eliminate the creation of money through debt it would certainly change its nature. The consent of depositors would be required to make loans, making financial intermediation once again the modest helper that draws together scattered household savings in order to  place them into the hands of bona fide entrepreneurs. 'Enterprise' in the Keynesian sense will squeeze out 'smart money.' " (p. 15)

And from his book, p. 211 on transformation:

"Gradual and smooth transition to a renewable resource-based techno-economic space cannot substitute for global transformation/chaotic transition because the accomplished transition implies conversion at the macroscopic, mesoscopic, and microscopic levels at once...."

I got carried away there with extensive quotation, but I hope you find it helpful.

Yes, disruptive technologies could lead to something quite different.  One of Pogany's comments about technology, however, points out that in the post fossil fuel age we shouldn't expect the rate and level of breakthrough technological achievements that were experienced during the Pulse of the last 200 years of energy and resource abundance.

And yet Pogany concludes the 2012 paper quoted above with these humble words:

"But to remain truly aperspectival in this moment, not even an opinion perceived by arrogating this adjective ought to be considered infallible. All attempts at meta-narration are subject to deconstruction. the one presented here should be no exception."

Tim, I'm curious how all of this lands with you, and I'd love to hear if you have an alternate perspective to bring to the fore, or if you want to share more about disruptive possibilities such as the block chain algorithm.

Tim Winton wrote:

Hi David,

I'm enjoying this discussion and your determination to bring the energy realism/thermodynamic view to integrative discussions. I'm curious about a couple of things that have cropped up so far. One here and one in a reply above. In the reply above, you described the earth as a functionally closed system. This is true for the most part regarding material flows, but not with regard to energy. Energetically we receive an unending flow of resource from the sun and emit heat to space–thus we are functionally an open energetic system. With enough energy and no substantial material losses ecological and economic processes could theoretically continue forever based on the continued recycling of material elements. My second curiosity is about the emergence of the block chain algorithm(s) and how they might change Pogany's prediction of GS3. With the block chain and sufficient encryption (and this exists) there is no way to limit the creation of currency by central authorities. This would essentially nullify the one of the central tenant of GS3–namely that money creation would be curbed and disciplined. GS3 seems like a linear prediction based on the trajectory from GS1 to GS2, but what about disruptive possibilities like the block chain? How might they lead to something quite different?

Attachments:
Hey, Andrew, that Band video was a treat. I never saw them before, and seeing through the traveling camera lens I could hear better what a smooth, varied and talented vocal medley they achieved, and then the vocal overlays and harmonies towards the end. It seems to me to be a relatively unpretentious performance and audio-video recording, at least compared to some of the contemporary extravaganzas. I always liked to dance while listening to this band when they were current. I wanted to move because of the basic beats and rhythms, without paying much attention to the musical and lyrical particulars. That's just where I was in those days. It's nice to see and hear more, and of course hearing them takes me back to my early married and somewhat career-and-life-optimistic days. Moving on a hardwood living room floor that I had refinished myself. Simpler times. Nice nostalgics. Hah.

Andrew,

First, after my last reply, I regretted some aspects of my tone which may have been a little less than generative and open to critiques of the Peak Oil concept. From my own perspective and bias at this point, however, I have seen very little that comes across as a fair and honest debate on the subject. I can think of one prominent energy expert (widely regarded as one of THE top energy expert writers) that have put forth a semi-cogent argument against P.O., and that is Vaclav Smil in his book Energy at the Crossroads. However, that book was published in 2003, and I think time since then has been on the side of P.O.

Secondly, interesting tangent there with Lord Karma...which reminds me of yet another Peter Pogany excerpt, from Rethinking The World, p. 257-260, talking about the Saga required to underlie GS3:

"The Saga will have to represent everybody, speak for everybody, and allow everybody to speak. Its universalism will have to be conceived and built pluralistically...And it will be "local," as postmodern philosophy advises on what may be good and real, in contrast to vested-interest-conserving, "Euro-centric" or other "essentialism" -deformed, imperially "totalizing" meganarratives...If GS3 is to exist and succeed, the Saga will have to be transnationally, trans-socially, and transgenerationally altruistic, thus making obsolete all current political, social, and cultural revendications. It may well reflect the continuation of the philosophical tradition of Pragmatism from Charles Sanders Peirce, through William James and John Dewey, to the contemporary writings of Richard Rorty...

...It is equally intriguing to contemplate the founders of the four major faiths, the three prophets of the Book and Buddha, because this sectarian quartet is perfectly suited to the process of creating GS3. With minds skulking in pre-Enlightenment mist, a marble-hearted, obscenely bloodthirsty faction of Mohamed's faith is attacking the Judeo-Christian vanguard in open-ended global conflicts (projecting the likely "poor against rich" dimension of the coming chaotic transition) while a patient, collectively oriented individuality, steeped in Buddhist traditions, is waiting in the wings...

It is not possible now, nor will it be possible under GS3, to prognosticate all the selection pressures the future will bring. The cosmic strain toward thermodynamic equilibrium follows an unknowable schedule."

- Rethinking The World (2006), Peter Pogany

andrew said:

Hi David, I suspect Gupta to be towing the party line. What I mean is that the politics of India today will most likely script narratives which suit their best interest. So no outright denial of C.C.,officially, while signing solar and nuclear deals. We may yet see a strong 'investment' in anti-C.C. from within , too, as the PCMIC agents work their best interests there in the coming years. So, a billion people rightfully want and need toilets and there has to be a narrative which addresses the situation, and like most narratives an antithesis is needed: those rural american 'downsizer's' are delusional; or something like that. Of course, it may simply be that they have a more accurate understanding of thermodynamic systems and ecology, but we must never let facts get in the way of ideology...

Ah yes, the classic "Overshoot" by William Catton (1983). 

And then there's his more recent (2009) update, "Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse," where this reviewersays "he drops the part about we can evade the worst. The subtitle says it all. Now he concludes that it is already too late to mend our ways and somehow avoid the collapse of civilization."

andrew said:

Hi, Mr. Winton, David,  here is a book review link that JMG recommends as necessary reading : 

http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0902/article_10...

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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