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Understanding and Planning A Prosperous Way Down

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  1. Understanding and Planning A Prosperous Way Down Howard T. Odum and Elisabeth C. Odum Presentation by Thomas Abel

  2. Our Futures • Now is a time of: • Large world populations • Stress on many ecosystems • Economic problems • Growing social inequality • What will our futures look like?

  3. Our Futures • Some think our economies can grow forever, that any limits will be overcome by technology – Techno-optimists • Others predict the collapse of nature and economies – Dystopians Two extremes Techno-optimists Dystopia

  4. Our Futures • But maybe there is path in between the two extremes • A way that recognizes the importance of ecosystems and the limits to resources • A way that offers hope that we can maintain the health and dignity of people, and the essences of life that are meaningful to us… …a prosperous way down

  5. A Prosperous Way Down • Growth, transition, and descent • If the principles and predictions within A Prosperous Way Down are correct, the world has no choice, nor should it fear the inevitable course in the latest chapter of our human journey

  6. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • Pulsing • From the study of ecosystems and other systems, the Odum’s argue that “pulsing”, as they call it, has four common stages • Growth • Transition • Descent • Low Energy Restoration

  7. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • This is thought to be the course taken by all systems of nature, nested one within the other, constructed from both the living and non-living

  8. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • The Odum’s have argued the ubiquity of pulsing to be the result of the self-organization of energy in systems, what they call the ‘maximum empower principle’ A nested hierarchy of pulsing patterns

  9. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • A similar pulsing pattern has been proposed by C.S. Holling, called the ‘adaptive cycle’ The ‘Adaptive Cycle’

  10. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • Studies of many kinds of systems in many fields of knowledge show that pulsing is usual • A time of gradual production and storing of reserves is followed by a short period of intensive consumption and recycling

  11. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • Think of a shoe factory • When a pair of shoes is made, it is not shipped immediately to the retail store • That would be inefficient • Instead, managers wait until they have made another pair, and another pair, and another pair • Finally, at some point when the storage of shoes is large enough they are all shipped to the store for sale • Shipping the shoes is the rapid consumption pulse • Now the factory will slowly rebuild its storage of shoes

  12. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • The traditional view in ecology and one model for our economic future is growth followed by leveling off into a steady state where inflows balance losses • It is popular with many in our society who seek “sustainability” for our civilization “Sustainability”

  13. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • Pulsing, however, prevails because operations that pulse transform more energy than those at steady state • Apparently, an alternation of production and consumption provides a better long-run coupling of energy intake for maximum empower than a steady state can provide Pulsing prevails Steady-state leveling for ‘sustainability’

  14. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • Pulsing patterns result from self-organization • A pulsing system of some form appears to be the stable one in the long run, repeating its periods of storage and use • There are optimum frequencies for maximum performance

  15. Pulsing and Maximum Empower Pulsing Systems Diagram • Over a long, long time fossil fuels have been stored in the Earth • We are now participating in the consuming pulse Blue - Nonrenewable Energy Red - World Assets Pulsing Simulation

  16. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • One of many examples of Hubbert Peak predictions Campbell (2004)

  17. Pulsing and Maximum Empower • This presentation will explore the issues of energy resources, economy, culture, information, policy, and their relation to this pulsing model and its implications for our global future • Our exploration will be speculative (nobody can see the future) • But our exploration will alert you to new challenges that we may all face, and hopefully suggest valuable new solutions

  18. The State of the World Today Growth Becomes Transition

  19. The Global Network Chapter 9

  20. The Global Scale and the Global Network • As the growth melee strips the remaining natural capital of the Earth and civilization reaches its zenith… • …the exclusive dominance of large-scale capitalism can be replaced with an emphasis on cooperation with the environment and among nations • Increased efficiencies are likely to limit extremes in the distribution of real wealth • International trade and loans can be made equitable with emergy evaluations

  21. The Global Scale and the Global Network • A major change in mechanisms for international order is evolving that can replace the old system of territorial defenses with shared military forces • A reverse arms race may occur, with reductions leading to further reductions Territorial defenses Peacekeepers Disarming

  22. The Global Scale and the Global Network • Global sharing of information and increased trade are joining the centers of civilization in common enterprise • Already something of a new global culture is developing with the power to eliminate wars by interconnected futures and shared aspirations and attitudes for peace Shared information for common goals

  23. The Global Scale and the Global Network Protect our atmosphere • Examples of important shared information messages: • Protecting the purity of the global atmosphere • Maintaining cordiality and trade between neighboring countries that are culturally different • Sharing technologies that are useful anywhere Maintain cordial trade relations Share technologies Biogas generator

  24. The Global Scale and the Global Network • Declining resourcesdiminish nations’ inclinations and military capacities to encroach on others • Providing that the remaining fuel resources are shared in open markets, great wars of national competition, growth, and conquest may never come again • Small conflicts and boundary disputes may be within the power of international organizations to limit United Nations

  25. The Global Scale and the Global Network Share Information • For a peaceful transition we need to: • Share information internationally rather than sell it • Arrange trade and loans with emergy-based equity • Replace resource exploitation with environmental mutualism Emergy-based trade equity Environmental mutualism

  26. Energy Sources Chapter 10

  27. Evaluating Energy Sources • Are there energy limits to growth? • Is energy a substitutable commodity just like any other?

  28. Evaluating Energy Sources Crude oil, coal, natural gas • The value of an energy source is not in its yield • Yield = energy out (J, Kcal, BTUs, etc) • When evaluating and comparing energy sources, the important issue is always the net output • Net is Y/F

  29. Evaluating Energy Sources • To get energy output you must do work – equipment, mining, pumping, transporting, storing, refining, research, new technologies, labor, educating technicians and researchers, etc. • Net measurements compare the output against the input • Fuels must have a net emergy output significantly greater than 1 to drive an economy

  30. Evaluating Energy Sources • Although many energy alternatives and substitutions are possible… Energy Sources

  31. Evaluating Energy Sources • … none in sight now have the quantity and quality to substitute for the rich fossil fuels that support the high levels of structure and process of our current civilization Electricity Production Coal-fired Power Plant

  32. Evaluating Energy Sources • Burning Fuel for Heat (many uses) Emergy Yield Ratio Palm Oil 1.06 Plantation Wood 2.1 Natural gas, offshore 6.8 Oil, Mideast 8.4 Coal, Wyoming 10.5 Oil, Alaska 11.1

  33. Evaluating Energy Sources • Making Electricity Emergy Yield Ratio Solar cell 0.41 Wind power 2-? Coal power plant 2.5 Nuclear power 4.5 Hydroelectricity 10 Geothermal 13

  34. Evaluating Energy Sources • Whereas ecosystems, forests, agricultural systems, and fisheries using sunlight have net emergy yields to support society, solar technology does not because the dilute nature of sunlight prevents efficient conversion directly to mechanical or electrical energy Sunlight is a dilute source Net emergy yield is 0.41

  35. Evaluating Energy Sources • The trend of substitution of one fuel for another continues toward more use of natural gas, but proven fuel reserves are not increasing Liquid Natural Gas

  36. Evaluating Energy Sources • Because 71% of the whole Earth empower comes from fossil fuels, global consumption eventually has to be reduced to less than one-third of its current level Eventually we must live on one-third the emergy

  37. Evaluating Energy Sources • For developed nations the impact will be greater • They depend on nonrenewable resources for 80-90% of their energy • They will eventually have to reduce either their populations or their living standard (emergy use) by 80-90%.

  38. Evaluating Energy Sources • However, with reduced populations we can look forward to a new but smaller agrarian economy, green again, enriched with knowledge developed in the fuel-rich century of complexity

  39. Transition

  40. Transition • As we pass through ‘transition’, how do we… • Sustain nations? • Sustain people?

  41. Sustaining a Nation Chapter 11

  42. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • To extend the summit we need to sustaininputs (national emergy budget) and waste it less • We need incentives to encourage favorable balances of international exchange and energy conservation

  43. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Cooperation in climax ecosystems • Ecosystem analogies suggest good national policy • Except in early stages of colonization, cooperation among units maximizes empower • Keeping the climate stable helps sustain the economy Ecosystem Engineers

  44. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Cooperation in climax ecosystems • Making trading partners prosperous assures continued jobs at home • Sharing military expenditures reduces the costs of defense for each nation Mutualism

  45. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • National energy policy • Nations should maintain access to those primary fuel sources with the highest emergy yield ratios

  46. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Trade policy • Nations should seek to maintain a positive emergy exchange • With a positive emergy trade balance, nations can maintain what is essential in their way of life for some time

  47. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Trade policy • For equitable trade between any two nations, all exchanges should be balanced (except fuel imports) with treaties for emergy equity

  48. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Trade policy • Only fuel exporters should receive a negative emergy exchange, but due to their fortune in fuels they should easily sustain a high standard of living by using a sufficient portion of fuel for their own domestic development Dubai

  49. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Trade policy • All countries should limit exports of raw products, and use them within their country • Countries that sell raw products almost always receive less emergy in international trade than is embodied in the product Exports of real wealth

  50. Sustaining a Nation during Transition • Domestic resource use • Resource use at home lowers prices of food, housing, paper, and fuel within a country and raises the standard of living • Less energy goes for transportation