With endless exploding energy…

“Endless exploding energy” is quite temporary, of course.

Think of any example, any case where it’s not just the start of things.  We might start our day or a new business effort with a burst of “endless exploding energy”, but not really mean that literally.  “Endless exploding energy”, if you mean it literally, generally causes things to rip themselves apart, destructively. With our economy there’s little doubt we mean it literally, is the problem, inherent in the universal plan for “real growth” at stable positive exponential rates.

Think of any of the quite common examples, and then wonder: Why haven’t people been curious about it? Our whole design for economic prosperity involves using energy to multiply energy use, to take endless exploding control of the earth’s energy resources, for empowering our social relationships,

to “take off”, and keep using ever more, ever faster,
the more we use.

The idea of our ever exploding future... literally!

I don’t know why I am perhaps one of the only living people to have had the curiosity to break free of the misconceptions leading our culture to be so committed to increasing our energy use by bigger steps the more we use, forever.  Somehow I both:

  1. noticed the signs of there being something deeply wrong with our knowledge of life, and
  2. discovered the universal solution for how to respond upon finding one’s own life rides on an exploding bomb of energy use, with no built in method of turning it off.

Survival is only possible if we use the energy it grows by… for something better,

The use of our own and the earth’s energies for further multiplying our energy uses, managed to explode at maximum rates forever,… is very explicitly managed for doing just that.   It’s readily apparent in our normal uses of money, if you look, found to be innocently posing as if designed to serve everyone’s “self-interest”.

Still, the problem is confounding.

Even as our societal ability to manage ever increasing scales of energy use breaks down, our whole society is becoming ever more focused on and committed to accelerating it, as if it could remain a natural way of life.  The natural way of life is to change habits when they get in trouble, of course, being responsive.   We are instead becoming ever more attached to it, though, as it becomes unmanageable and exceedingly dangerous to continue.

Equally mysterious is that I find lots of people who find it easy to discuss intuitively, in casual conversation.  It’s only a matter of simply recognizing the independent behaviors of self-organized systems like cultures and industries, etc.   What’s hard is finding any intellectual who can understand it.  People who live by creating a rational world in their minds, from their information, just can’t invent rules for emergent properties of nature like “scale”, or understand behaviors independent of their logic.

Somehow I bridged that, and followed another kind of curiosity, searching for how to break out of the traps caused by a rational worldview naturally excluding markers for its own living parts.  I guess it was by perceiving one after another “strangeness” in human rationalizations, as a great tangle of socially reinforced self-deception.  That they all seemed connected too just kept making me ever more curious.  It had to be a very powerful mental trap, able to give us such remarkable “misplaced normality” in so many ways at once.

Even most environmentalists treat “economic prosperity” as the source of the money for saving the environment.  The cruel irony is that what is so graphically harming the environment is the way of prosperity is generated.   We use money to use energy more the more we use it, that people generally don’t  see the consequences of!

So the main threat to the environment gets to be seen as the solution to all that ails it too.   The presence of that delusion is itself is no fantasy, though, but a clear fact of life, as real as a sunrise, a hot meal or looking up and finding your whole world becoming unfamiliar.

Still, I haven’t really found what simple hint people need to hear,… to get them to “just look around” and see what’s happening to our lives.   There is very ample evidence that endless exploding energy use is a true societal commitment, and so has become the greatest problem humanity ever faced, … as we “don’t see it”.

the clear expert and popular consensus around the world is that endless exploding energy is not only “good to do” but also what would solve all problems.

Isn’t that odd?   So, yes the problem is  “It’s the economy stupid…” but not in the usual way that phrase is meant.   It’s not that we’er failing to burn up the earth’s energy resources fast enough, as it is usually intended to mean.   The basic problem is that our whole economy it’s quite explicitly designed to take off like a rocket, with businesses mostly started up with a little spark of genius, and managed for collecting and using energy rather like a rocket taking off with no destination but “faster”.

We think of it with the exciting anticipation of a rocket ship achieving “lift off”

…to ride on the top of a massive explosion of energy burned at as fast a controlled accelerating rate as humans can devise.   Crazy visionaries then extend that vision of ever exploding energy to our achieving “escape velocity”, as if we could then continue to have exploding control and use of the energy of the universe.   “Forever” in this case is completely certain to be very brief, of course, with no actual “escape velocity” being physically possible.   The curious thing is there’s…

a critical piece of thought missing from the “flight plan”…
not having any concept of landing, just “take off”.

The obvious natural ends for such endless “take off” plans are either for “enterprise earth” to…

  1. exhaust itself, leaving some lifeless entity without its dream , drifting without energy to keep itself together or any means of change, or
  2. for something to break, turning a life designed to forever ride a controlled explosion of energy into an inferno, to burn itself up and vanish instead, or
  3. manage to keep working till it collides with something, at peak velocity and acceleration, to be disabled by that immediately, or become stuck uselessly burning up its remaining spare energy, trying to get the bomb exploding again, as it’s supposed to.

We’d just have to “drop” our dreams of endless exploding energy, and learn to live instead.

The hidden “last option” is what all successful organisms do, after they start-up their lives with just such a bomb of exploding energy use to get them going.  Successful organisms then switch development paths, usually at just the right time, responding to the approaching self-defeating outcomes of going too far, at the very first signs.

It’s exceedingly rare to find anyone in the sciences who has discovered that, though.   It’s also all but impossible to find any willing to discuss it.   No one including myself have yet found how to communicate the concept to them, the experts and theorists who run our world.   I only know of two scientists, two systems economists, who ever noticed and seriously considered the problem and its quite natural solution.

As far as I can tell, none of the leading environmental scientists, either, have quite understood what “response” could mean when referring to something outside their system of thought.   In personal lives we encounter the unfamiliar all the time, of course.  We find response may be a struggle but do see the need to respond very easily.   Professionals, though, seem generally unable to connect their own professional languages of rules and information with the natural world of independently behaving things their personal experience lets them recognize so easily.

For a system of social constructs like the economy, responding changes not in the rules is “undefined”, as is everything else not in the rules.   What we now see ourselves doing, at the limits of our ever exploding use of energy, is attempting to regain control of things going ever further out of control, while searching desperately for new ways to keep expanding our problems.  “Response” would mean the opposite, letting go of habits getting us in trouble, to look for what new way of using what we built could work better.

The simple principle is, “first use profit to build, then to get along”



Note, every natural system and the environments where they interact, are unique in how they arrange themselves.   So finding how general principles fit your individual circumstance is ALWAYS a “do it yourself” learning process.   It starts slowly and builds, from discovering any productive question at first… starting small just like any other process develops.

See other blog posts here, under “Natural Economy” and short articles on Synapse9.com such as Economies that become part of natureThe one Real option… natural climax



Added note:

Keynes seems to have been the first person to ever seriously consider the idea that our whole economy would need to change form at its natural end to growth, and Ken Boulding was the other one I know of.    Keynes’ idea started as one of his wilder “thought experiments”, that he first called “the Widow’s Cruse” after a biblical verse.

Both that and subsequent versions were all immediately rejected by virtually all those around him.    It’s not so hard to prove conclusively, but still a largely “taboo” subject, an abhorrence to a society living by the exact opposite principle.

I’ve studied it enough, and understand the group of issues around it well enough, to make it seem easily proved from as many directions as anyone might like.   We should find the way to do it now, though, without delay.   Failing to is putting us in great peril, of triggering a unrecoverable world economic decline.

Keynes simple observation is that as growth becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, the economy can really only survive if investors recognize and respond to that.  They’d need to recognize that it’s their own use of their investment profits that compels the economy to build up faster and faster.  They’d need to then change how they use their profits to allow the whole economy to discover a way of “getting along” with the rest of the natural world and without itself continually increasing in scale.

Presently how investors use their profits forces the economy to keep generating ever growing returns on investment.  Realizing the need to end that would also mean giving up their long habit of using profits to endlessly multiply their own savings, their own wealth and power, as a part of learning to get along!

State action enters in as a balancing factor to provide that the growth of capital .. shall .. approach [the] saturation-point at a rate which does not put a disproportionate burden on the present generation.

…so that we should attain the conditions of a quasi-stationary community where change and progress would result only from changes in technique, taste, population and institutions, with the products of capital selling at a price proportioned to the labour,,…

… this may be the most sensible way of gradually getting rid of many of the objectionable features of capitalism.  For a little reflection will show what enormous social changes would result from a gradual disappearance of a rate of return on accumulated wealth {i.e. the use of financial earnings to multiply financial savings}. A man would still be free to accumulate his earned income with a view to spending it at a later date. But his accumulation would not grow.

Though the rentier would disappear, there would still be room, nevertheless, for enterprise and skill in the estimation of prospective yields about which opinions could differ.

from J M Keynes  The General Theory ch 16