THINKING ABOUT SIMPLE THINGS

cropped-circular-economy-man-before-large-painting-of-cicles.png

– By Robert U. Ayres

Background

From early childhood I have been fascinated by learning “how things work”. I suppose that is quite natural for children, but for one reason or another, most children are discouraged at an early age. The world is too complicated, there are too many “things” to learn about, there are conflicting short-term needs for time, they are told that parents or teachers or priests will explain it all in due course when we are “ready”, etc.

For some reason, however, I found a book called “The Strange Story of the Quantum” that introduced a curious idea, namely that there is an underlying simplicity that can be grasped by human intelligence, and that understanding “things” can sometimes be approached from “below”, so to speak rather than from the usual perspective “above”.  I read that a fizzy-haired man named Albert Einstein had already found a way to put that underling simplicity in a single mathematical equation, a “theory of everything”. It is why I was attracted to physics.

Continue reading

Editorial: Hmm, let’s see. Now that didn’t work, didn’t it? That at least is clear. But why? And what do we do now?

Editor’s Note. Paris, 25 May 2018.

Dear readers, friends and colleagues,

This ambitious collaborative web project “Ayres on Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth” has been in existence for close to four full years now.  And over this time despite the potential of tremendous content and burning issues, and considerable effort on our part, it has failed to take off.  At least to the degree that the subject merits.  What went wrong?  And where should we go from here?

Making a web platform like this work — highly technical content, including a fair dose of abstract  topics and analytic approaches which require a well prepared audience to be meaningful — is no easy task. And all the more so in this era of crushing information overload.  But that would be a poor excuse.

The main shortcoming thus far has been that we have simply failed to give it sufficient time, commitment, touch and content  — or regularity, — to win over the kind and size of audience which the work and findings of Ayres and his distinguished colleagues deserve in their own work in these complex inter-related spheres of, once again, Environment, Economy, Energy & Growth,..

Continue reading

A hint about the trouble with GE

 

The continued decline in GE share prices (now below $20 per share) have been a major topic in the financial press (and TV) during the past few weeks. Jeffrey Immelt (Jack Welch’s protegé) is gone, no doubt with a sizeable “golden parachute” to comfort his golden years. Yet in GE’s peak year, under Welch, in August 2000 (just before the “dot.com” crash) GE was worth more than $600 billion. Recently it fell to $190 billion.

Hmm. Let’s have a look.

Continue reading

Cornucopians versus Doomsters: On Julian Simon’s Refutation of Global 2000 (and the Club of Rome)

man-chart-growth-copernius-viewRachel Carson’s landmark book “Silent Spring” was published in 1962. It, alone, of the important environmental best-sellers of that era, had a significant impact: it led to the banning of DDT (at least in the Western world) and major shifts in agricultural practice.

Paul Ehrlich, a noted American biologist, best known for his warnings about the consequences of population growth and limited resources,  was the author of a famous book “The Population Bomb” (1968), in which he claimed (as Malthus had claimed in 1798) that increasing population – demographic catastrophe — would inevitably outstrip food and resources, and that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1970s.

Continue reading

On EROI: Commentary by Professor Charles Hall

See “On EROI, as a measure of what’s left in the barrel” at http://wp.me/p55vqx-95

charles-a-s-hall-2Happy to see a website devoted to the (mostly) good ideas of Robert Ayres. As the originator of the term if not the concept of EROI I would like to clarify a few things from my own perspective. The energy invested is usually and appropriately considered the energy diverted from society to get energy to society. Thus natural gas used to pressurize an oil/gas field or energy used in society to make a drill bit or oil rig or fertilizer for corn-based ethanol would be considered part of the investment. Geological energy to make radioactive uranium or oil would not.

Continue reading