Hugging The ArchDruid  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

I see the ArchDruid has made TreeHugger - their visualisation doesn't match what I would have guessed though - The Archdruid Nails It: Energy Conservation, Not Efficiency, Is Key.

A good read for the eco-serious is The Archdruid Report, a collection of perspective on industrial society which is written by John Michael Greer. The posts are characteristically druid-like - long, thoughtful, laden with wisdom - and although sometimes grim, are superb. The one on "Net Energy and Jevons' Paradox" targets the problem of peak energy and is a charmer.

Greer begins with a whammy; to build the infrastructure to produce a new energy source in meaningful quantities ("the production cost"), a great deal of energy will be needed. Additionally, if the new source can’t be delivered via an existing distribution network ("the system cost"), we'll need to invest even more energy to build this out as well. Immediately, one can see why some alternative energy options are being tried; for example, ethanol and windpower have some production costs but negligible additional distribution costs. In contrast, hydrogen requires both new production and distribution networks, so is proving to be a bust.

How will we come up with the surplus energy to make the transition? The Druid looks at two oft-thought methodologies, conservation and efficiency, lauding the first and laughing the second. Greer acknowledges that both approaches boost the net energy of the system but, unlike conservation, as efficiency goes up it also becomes economically feasible to apply the energy resource to new uses, and so people have reason to use more of it. This is known as the Jevon's Paradox, and just take a lookie 'round to see it in action - multiple TVs per household, the McMansions, more miles driven due to increases in automobile fuel efficiency, meat consumption. In every case advancements in efficiency not only encouraged more use, but also depleted the surplus in energy we require to make the transition to a new energy economy.

3 comments

To be honest, after reading Greer quite a bit for the past month, I've come to the conclusion he's just as much of a fruitcake as most other doomer/collapsitarians, albeit just a very well written one. In fact, he's rather evidently a new age fruitcake, and even a leader in a new age religion. He's also wrong about so much...for example, his belief that the "Internet" will dissipate from some energy contractual period, yet somehow society will go back to more energy intensive methods such as, the pony express and telegraphs with Morse code demonstrates he really understand so little about energy and technology.

To me, he's not much different than mental case "Mike Ruppert".

Sure - he's got no idea about technology - he's just trying to put together a story which suits his belief system.

His stuff is basically entertaining fantasy - not to be taken too seriously.

True enough, but I get a bit tired when people continuously cite him, when in reality, he neither knows or cares about science, as evident by an interview he conducted with "The Pagan Wiccan Times" that he doesn't even accept the scientific method. You're right though, he's mostly a speculative fiction author really just expanding on his religious belief system.

Though he's been going off the deep end lately with his "Green Wizardy" nonsense.

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