Growth, fossil fuels, and “green” energy

Grinding to a halt: Total Factor Productivity for USA, Germany, UK, France, Japan, OECD
  1. Total number of workers actively working / producing.
  2. 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 live (this is a VERY small percentage of the space we occupy and indeed a negligeable land area).
  2. Where we keep our roughly 80+ billion enslaved animals worldwide, such as grazing cows, sheep, etc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Most energy forms have a MUCH lower EROI (“energy return on investment”) than fossil fuels, or said differently, nothing comes even close to fossil fuels in terms of pure energy effiency.
  2. Only nuclear power and hydro power rival fossil fuels.
  3. “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!
  4. EROI of fossil fuels has been steadily decreasing since 1995.
  1. We can’t burn all fossil fuels because we will hand over an “unliveable” planet to humans after 2100 that will not be possible to “undo” for several centuries.
  2. EROI is dropping in the highest EROI energy sources such as fossil fuels.
  3. “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.
  4. 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 insists on “green policies” will adopt these energies and technologies and will have stagnation and increasing living costs due to low EROI, with lots of frustration and social tension as well as political tension between these countries and others who go a different route. I am guessing Europe will go down this path, which will put lots of pressure on the EU and Eurozone.
  2. 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

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Pascal Bedard

Pascal Bedard

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