Monday, January 23, 2017

The problem of falling net energy -- the elephant in the room

@NafeezAhmed openDemocracy: "Over the last century, the net value of the energy we are able to extract from our fossil fuel resource base is inexorably declining. The scientific concept used to measure this value is Energy Return on Investment (EROI), a calculation that compares the quantity of energy one extracts from a resource, to the quantity of energy used to enable the extraction.
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.... Because we need energy to produce and consume, we need more energy to increase production and consumption, driving economic growth. But if we’re getting less energy over time, then we simply cannot increase economic growth.

This has led to a number of devastating consequences. To maintain economic growth, we are using ingenious debt mechanisms to finance new economic activity. The expansion of global debt is now higher than 2007 pre-crash levels....

As global net energy is declining, to keep the endless growth machine running, the imperative to drill like crazy to get more energy out only deepens. So instead of scaling back our exploitation of fossil fuels, we are accelerating it. As we are accelerating fossil fuel exploitation, this is accelerating climate change. That in turn is driving more extreme weather events like droughts, storms and floods, which is putting crops in major food basket regions at increasing risk.

As climate and food instability ravages regions all over the world, this has fueled government efforts to task their militaries with planning for how to deal with the rising instabilities that would result as these processes weaken states, stoke civil unrest and even inflame terrorism. And that escalating breakdown of regional states coincides conveniently with a temptation to use military force to consolidate control of more fossil fuel resources."

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