[iDC] DIY: nightmare for humanities, social sciences, media

John Hopkins neo at neoscenes.net
Thu Sep 22 14:59:46 UTC 2011

greets -- more on energy...

> Universities are indeed overblown--just like post offices, trade unions, governments, etc.

With H. T. Odum's conceptual support, I would opine that these conditions can 
only arise in a system which has a glut of energy (at all levels of structure) 
which is illustrated (at one level) by the increase of obesity in the 
oil-glutted 'developed' world.  There is one thing that creates wealth and that 
is access to energy to maintain the ordered structure of a complex social system 
or to maintain a position towards the top of a social hierarchy.  And while cash 
is convertible to energy when the social system issuing the abstracted fiscal 
instrument holds the trust of its participants, when the s**t comes down, cash 
doesn't help, only access to power/energy in supra-concentrated units (weapons!) 
will save.

Most of us are in such positions, relatively, and are communicating here through 
a techo-social system which is absolutely dependent on that energy glut for its 
coherent orded and in a situation when the energy glut tightens to an energy 
lack, you can be sure that we all will be sliding down, relatively, to a lesser 
state.  Personally I believe that the current 'economic' situation happening is 
because we have reached a point where the hydrocarbon-fired social order is 
coming to an end.  (This partly caused in the West by the rise of China's demand 
for hydrocarbons, but globally by the condition of use equaling production, and 
new reserves being less than any predicted future use.)

No techno-social system is free from this thermodynamic reality, ever, and 
furthermore, energy availability is the foundation upon which all ideological, 
political, economic, security, and other realities play out.

And, as I was going to say in response to Brian's recent reply -- To be sure, 
collapse, contraction, stability, or other characteristics of (social, 
'natural,' cosmological, all!) structures is primarily determined by their 
access to usable energy input, so it is, again, important to understand this 
first, and that the 'economic' is merely an abstracted social construct which, 
at root, may be quite disconnected from the energy reality of a system.  The 
fiscal obscures the actuality, and this can lead to incredible errors in 
judgment by entire social systems as well as individuals.

Thinking in the moment, it occurs to me that an explanation of the mortgage 
'crisis' in the US could be that, given the conversion rate between the embodied 
life-energy/life-time of an individual (home buyer) and their relative economic 
'power' there was a substantial gap.  Another words, an individual could not, 
given their own energy sources, bring together the energy to create a house of, 
say, 4000 ft2 (400 m2).  In an system where there is a glut of energy, that 
excess of energy can plug the gaps in an individuals energy lack, and allow them 
to exceed what would be their normal status without the glut.  This same 
argument would hold for all scales -- where, say, the US military is in the 
exact same situation.  W/o the oil glut there simply would be no US military (of 
the magnitude that it is)!  The gap between a 'normal' military appendage and an 
obscenely bloated and aggressive one is excess energy...  (in this case, the 
energy availability has a parallel mapping: testerone::individual aggressivity 
-- oil::techno-social aggressivity

(speaking as a former explorationist for a major US oil company ... )

(By oil glut, I mean the entire history of hydrocarbon usage which concentrated 
in (created!) the 'developed' world during the last 200 years)

Watching the Tao is better than watching the Dow!


John Hopkins
exploring cosmological patterns of flow @

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