Growth, fossil fuels, and “green” energy

Is there a “limit to growth” as exposed in the Meadows Report? Our global system works on “growth” of production to generate employment and income, which takes several forms: wages, incomes for enterpreneurs and stock holders, capital gains, rent and interest income, which themselves finance State income (taxes!) and other institutional incomes. Private and public pension funds run on “total returns” from assets, themselves tied closely or loosely in the long run to the underlying “cake” that we all “eat”, which is also called Gross Domestic Product: the total economic value generated per year.

Grinding to a halt: Total Factor Productivity for USA, Germany, UK, France, Japan, OECD
  1. Total factor productivity, which we can simply think of as the “efficiency” of producing economic output (value) with a certain quantity of inputs: time, energy, land, machines, infrastructure, etc.
  1. Where we keep our roughly 80+ billion enslaved animals worldwide, such as grazing cows, sheep, etc.
  2. Where we have our crops, most of which are fed to our enslaved animals at a significant efficiency loss, but some of which are also consumed by humans.
  3. Our various infrastructures such as roads, bridges, ports, airports, water and sewer systems, electrical lines and telecoms installations, etc., and also our transport vehicles, including planes, trains, automobiles, boats, submarines, etc.
  4. The waste of all our activity: plastics, metals, ciment, thrown-away objects, fish nets and lines, toxic waste, construction trash, household trash, industrial waste, shit and piss from our 80 billion animal slaves and ourselves, not all of which is used as fertilizer / manure, etc.
Human population since Year 1000
  1. Only nuclear power and hydro power rival fossil fuels.
  2. “Green energies” such as solar, wind, tidal, biomass, and others are quite inefficient and also much less practical, as they are diffuse and not constant, and biomass on a macro scale would require extreme deforestation and essentially “burning food” which could be used by humans instead!
  3. EROI of fossil fuels has been steadily decreasing since 1995.
  1. EROI is dropping in the highest EROI energy sources such as fossil fuels.
  2. “Green / renewable” energies have a very low EROI and there is a maximum on their EROI of these energies simply due to “energy density” and basic principles of thermodynamics. Here I mean “low maximum EROI” when taking into account ALL social costs of these energies, including State subsidies, materials, transport, maintenance, costs related to reliability, etc.
  3. Nuclear power is an almost impossible “sell” to the public and is still not fully “sustainable”, as it consumes finite materials…
World Bank
  1. Countries where the population rejects “green policies” will have more growth and prosperity in any given political cycle, on average, and will of course contribute to a larger macro problem down the road, but will not pay the bill to others or to future generations. I am guessing the USA might go down this path, even under the Biden Presidency and later, but I may be wrong. China and India and Brazil and Russia will do this for sure.
Me climbing on a beautiful face of vertical rock, in Quebec, Canada, Summer 2020

Sharing thoughts on economics, finance, business, trading, and life lessons. Founder of www.PascalBedard.com

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