Energy

Energy Accounting

Background

If you have read our article about the problems with the current monetary system, you know that it is addicted to exponential economic growth – something which is impossible within the near absolute constraints of a finite world. This can only mean one thing, and that is that we need to transition towards a different way of resource management – and one that can fulfill the three criteria outlined in this website.

Read more: Energy Accounting

Energy – the currency of the Cosmos

One of the set of governing laws that defines our Universe is Thermodynamics. There are four laws of Thermodynamics which together determine how matter and energy works.

  • Zeroth law of thermodynamics: If two systems are in thermal equilibrium respectively with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of temperature.
  • First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.
  • Second law of thermodynamics: In a natural thermodynamic process, the sum of the entropies of the interacting thermodynamic systems increases. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible.
  • Third law of thermodynamics: The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero.[2] With the exception of non­crystalline solids (glasses) the entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically close to zero, and is equal to the log of the multiplicity of the quantum ground states.

The laws of thermodynamics in short means that every action in the Universe comes with a cost in terms of energy. Each system contains an energy reserve, which is called exergy. The term applied for the energy consumed in direct utilization of production is called emergy.

Since every action costs energy, that means that industrial operations, but also actions intended to remedy environmental effects, can be measured in their energy costs. This means that it is possible to calculate an economic system from a physical basis, namely how much energy an entire industrial process is taking into account. 

The Energy Survey

The Energy Survey as envisioned by the EOS is a process where the Earth’s carrying capacity is continuously measured. Such measurements do exist today as well, and studies show that we are using far more than what the planet can renew every year. The plan with the Energy Survey is to provide data about the ecological and economic situation of the Earth.

Out from this survey, we will move out slightly less than 100% of the Earth’s renewal capacity. That amount would be the resources available for human economic utilization. That means, per definition, that under the system of Energy Accounting, it would not be possible to use more resources than the Earth can provide for.

The Energy Units

The available energy in terms of the renewal capacity of the Earth will be distributed to each human being. The distribution means that each human being will be given an “ownership”, or rather “usership” of an exclusive amount of the Planet’s renewal capacity. The distribution can happen in several ways. All human beings can be given a specific amount just because they need to live and survive for example. People can be compensated for how many hours they work as well, or for their participation in innovative projects and the popularity of said innovations. All three ways to give people access to the resources can be employed simultaneously as well, and the system does not need to be homogeneous throughout the world. Energy units are distributed for a specific period, dependent on the Energy Survey. When the Energy Survey has updated, the amount of Energy Units are reset and distributed out again. Some critique within the EOS has pointed out that this can incentive hoarding during the end of the measurement period. 

How to use Energy Units

Energy Units will be allocated by the citizens individually to the companies, cooperatives or sequences (collectively understood as “holons”) which build up the production system. People choose themselves what holons they want to order goods and services from. The cost of the product or service will be equivalent to the energy cost in terms of the energy that it will cost to extract the resources, produce the item, transport it to the consumer and then restore the extraction site and deal with other environmental costs.

This means that the more environmentally hazardous a particular operation is, the more it will cost in terms of Energy Units. This will incentive actors to produce goods and services which are more efficient and durable in terms of environmental effects.

There is a discussion within the EOS on how the time factor should be measured.  

Economic growth under Energy Accounting

We are not opposed to economic growth in itself. Our problem with the current system, the Debt­based Monetary System, is that it is addicted to exponential growth at all costs.

Under Energy Accounting, the situation will be different since we are basing the measurements of the Energy Survey of what the Earth can cope with on long terms. That means that in terms of the volume of resources we use, we will grow slower. However, the de­facto size of the economy will grow due to efficiency gains when items gradually require less resources, are made more modular and more durable, and when the infrastructure is transitioning towards a more sustainable system.

That means that we will experience deflationary growth, as the user will be able to obtain more and more through an individual Energy Unit, while the total amount of Energy Units will remain in a state of equilibrium in relation to what our planet is able to manage. 

Empirical testing

Energy Accounting works on paper, but before any system like that is going to be implemented, it has to be tested – within computer simulations, factories and local and regional socioeconomic environments. The goal of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability is actually to field test Energy Accounting and attempt to break it.

The reason why we want to do that is so that we can find the flaws with our proposed system and then adapt Energy Accounting after the results of our tests, in order to form it organically after the needs of reality. We are a scientific movement and strives to achieve certain objectives, not to dogmatically cling to certain systems. If Energy Accounting is proven to not work, we would still try to learn as much from the experiments and use the parts that work to improve either on the current system or on some other potential system.

If our system is proven to work, we will not try to install it globally tomorrow, but rather opt for a gradual transition, where the immediately pressing goal is to see to it that the world of tomorrow is fulfilling the three criteria.

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Energy Accounting for beginners

Introduction

The goal of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability follows from our understanding of the world’s problems today at the start of the third millennium. We argue that the human civilization currently is 1) utilizing resources and surface in a manner which disturbs climate, soils, freshwater reservoirs and ecosystems, 2) that this disturbance will cause a “loss of social complexity” and threaten the welfare of billions of human beings and 3) that the process which is causing these life-threatening environmental problems are caused by the current socio-economic system.

From this follows that any type of long-term solution to the current conundrum would have to entail the phasing out of our current global socio-economic system and its replacement with a new global socio-economic system.

The E.O.S has developed a blue-print for this new sustainable socio-economic system, and our goal remains to test it.

The purpose of this introductory article is to outline the broad characteristics of our socio-economic model, Energy Accounting, and why we primarily want to run field tests.

The Three Criteria

The E.O.S has defined three criteria for sustainability which a new socio-economic system must conform to.

  1. The system must utilize equal or less resources than the Earth can renew.
  2. The system must utilize as much of the available energy and utility of the resources used as sustainably possible.
  3. The system must ensure a dignified level of life where access to food, housing, heating/cooling, clothes, education and healthcare is ensured for every human being on Earth.

These are the three poles within which a socio-economic system must find itself for it to be deemed sufficiently sustainable, according to us.

Main article on the Three Criteria.

Energy Accounting – a brief description

Energy Accounting as envisioned by the thinkers and engineers associated with the E.O.S is built on the idea that money as a means of exchange should be replaced by Energy Credits, which would represent units of production capacity. The system is resting on three pillars, the Energy Survey, the Technate and the aforementioned Energy Credits.

The Energy Survey

The first step of the economic calculation process under Energy Accounting would be the initiation of a global Energy Survey, where resources and ecosystems are continuously monitored by several thousands of institutions, communities and millions of individuals, and the data input would determine the global ecological budget of the planetary civilization.

The Technate

The Technate is envisioned as a supranational institution responsible for validating the Energy Survey and the creation and distribution of the Energy Credits. It would play a role reminiscent of a central bank under a monetary market economy.

The Energy Credits

The global ecological budget is divided into a specific number of Energy Credits, which are issued by the technate and distributed out to the users, which will be both holons (institutions/organisations/networks) and citizens, with which we mean individual human beings.

When used, the Energy Credits cease to exist, and are transformed into information that the user has allocated a share of their Energy Credits to a process of labour with the purpose of realising an item, a service or a process. In short, the Energy Credits represents how much physical energy is utilized in a production process, from the extraction of raw materials through the assembly towards the users and finishing with the energy cost for environmental compensation. This in order to ensure that the economy does not use more energy and resources than the global ecological budget ceiling allows.

New Energy Credits are created and distributed at regular intervals. When that is happening, all existent Energy Credits from the prior period are deleted.

The Holonic Social Model

Due to the development of information technologies such as the Cloud, hierarchical and rigid institutional systems will gradually be phased out and replaced with horizontal and fluid holons. A holon (meaning part-whole, a part which can be considered a whole in its own right) will be an autonomous, horizontal project group centred on fulfilling a function – often defined by its members. Given that capital as we know it has been abolished, factories, production centres and idle machinery may be utilized by numerous holons on a running schedule locally determined. The holons form their own networks to fulfil specific social, environmental and individual needs, and are empowered to conduct production from the allocations determined by the users.

Thus, we are talking about a radically de-centralized future, directed towards resilience and autonomy. People would in general experience a higher degree of freedom in terms of how they want to utilize their time, but also in terms of democratic participation.

Benefits – for the environment

  • It will not be possible to utilize more resources than the planet can renew.
  • Production processes which demand more efficient use of energy will become more affordable than processes with a high environmental footprint, incentivizing green technologies.
  • Things will only be produced when the users are actively asking for them, reducing overall production.
  • Users will know the environmental footprint in the prices of goods and services and will consciously strive to reduce their footprint.

Benefits – for society

  • Abolition of debt.
  • Abolition of the boom-bust cycle.
  • Abolition of life-threatening poverty.
  • Abolition of inflation and deflation.
  • Reduction of artificial scarcity-based bottlenecks.
  • We will no longer be forced to destroy the environment by the need for exponential growth.
  • Reduced inequality between the Global North and Global South.
  • Increased transparency.

Benefits – for the individual

  • A guaranteed minimum income.
  • Guaranteed housing.
  • Guaranteed education.
  • Guaranteed healthcare.
  • Shorter work hours due to reduced need for production.
  • More time to develop family life and personal interests.
  • Higher resiliency and personal/communal autonomy.
  • A higher degree of personal freedom.

Our goal: To test (aspects of) Energy Accounting

Here comes the aspect of the E.O.S which people often find the hardest to wrap their minds around. Our goal is not to – in a political or revolutionary manner – replace Capitalism with Energy Accounting. Our goal is to test aspects of Energy Accounting to learn how it would operate in the real world.

Specifically, we want to learn the following things:

  • Are there any aspects of Energy Accounting which do not work?
  • Are there any aspects of Energy Accounting which can be improved?
  • How will the introduction of Energy Accounting alter human behaviour?

And, most important of all:

  • Is Energy Accounting capable of fulfilling the Three Criteria.

That is the only thing we are asking for – the opportunity to run field tests on an alternative system. If the current socio-economic system employed by a majority of the regions on Earth may be unsustainable, then it would be a positive to have alternatives available. There is a possibility that we are wrong, and that the current system actually is possible to combine with sustainability (which we believe it isn’t). But there also is a possibility that we are right.

Even if you disagree with our hypothesis, it is wise and prudent to keep the door open for alternatives.

Why the EOS and not any larger green pro-sustainability organisation?

Most green organisations are operating under the assumption that the main problem is the symptoms. They are doing a laudable work and if you feel they better correspond to your interpretation of the current situation, then they are better served by your help.

The E.O.S wants to find a realistic and achievable model which can replace the current socio-economic system and fulfil the Three Criteria. This is our primary focus. We are not primarily an activist group or a political party.

How you can help

The E.O.S is a small organization and in need of manpower and resources to fulfil its operational goals. In short, we are in need of financial support to conduct our projects, like the ERCS developed by E.O.S Cascadia.

  • We are gratefully and duly accepting grants and donations from institutions and members of the public, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the budget is utilized in a transparent manner and in accordance with the designated projects it’s earmarked for.

We love to have new members and volunteers. From September 2020, membership fees will go to the local E.O.S associations.

  • As an E.O.S member, you have the power to propose projects and amendments to our internal decrees, as well as to petition to form holons.

Do you have a project you care about and which you believe can be of aid in assisting us towards achieving the Three Criteria? Please talk with us, and we will see if we can find ways to assist you.

  • We are interested in learning of and connecting with projects aiming to fulfil the Three Criteria, and which operate on local, regional or global levels.

This planet is your planet, and right now our current socio-economic system has caused a series of unintended, emergent phenomena which may cause a new dark age for humanity. We have never before as a species faced a situation like this, and we urgently need to develop alternative ways of resource management if we are going to achieve a sustainable transition.

If you want to join us, please go here: https://eosprojects.com/join-us

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The Current Ecological Crisis

Life on Earth is not just an assembly of all living things, but also an intricate, diverse and complex self-regulating system striving towards a state known as a dynamic equilibrium. This means that when minor disturbances occur within the eco-systems, or because of outside disturbances, the eco-systems react in a manner that restores balance. 

Of course, over longer periods of time, species will go extinct or evolve into new species, and environments will change. The system itself, however, tend to favor increased levels of complexity. 

On the global level, we can talk about a biosphere, which in itself affects the atmosphere and other systems which it depends on. The biosphere is simply all the life on Earth, excluding isolated eco-systems (like the deep ocean gas vent eco-systems, the eco-systems in Antarctic lakes or those in closed caves like the Movile system near the Black Sea).

Minor disturbances occur on a frequent basis, are natural and serve as an important impetus for the evolutionary process. Even most large disturbances can be absorbed by the system, and hundreds of such events have happened during the existence of this biosphere.

However, some large disturbances have off-set the balance so much that the biosphere itself has collapsed. The biosphere that we human beings currently are a part of is actually the sixth biosphere in the Earth’s history. It is characterized by land-based eco-systems dominated by mammals and avian (bird) dominance of the skies. 

These characteristics have existed for 65 million years, following the end of the Mesozoic biosphere, which was dominated by dinosaurs and sea reptiles, an era mostly characterized by a warm climate and more and smaller continents than today. What brought the end of the Mesozoic had been debated since the latter half of the 19th century – most scholars today are agreeing that the Chicxulub asteroid impact hypothesis is the most believable cause for a mass extinction which wiped out around three quarters of life on Earth.

Today, scientists are estimating that we are losing species at a thousand to ten thousand times the normal background rate. This corresponds to the rate experienced by the biospheres during the previous mass extinction events1. Moreover, the characteristics of the systems which are affected by and affecting the eco-systems are rapidly changing. These three systems re the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the lithosphere (more exactly the pedosphere, the uppermost layer of the ground) – which can be called air, water and earth respectively.

The Climate

For the last millions of years, Earth’s climate has been characterized by a flow between warm periods and ice ages when large parts of the northern hemisphere have been covered by large glaciers. The main regulating atmospheric gas which has governed these seasonal climate shifts have been carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which heats the Earth by blocking the reflection of sunrays out from the atmosphere, thus trapping heat.

Carbon dioxide is also one of the gasses that is “breathed” by and stored by vegetation – and then especially trees. The relationship between the forests and the atmosphere have until recently determined the shift between warm periods and ice ages.

During ice ages, forests consume and bind carbon dioxide, reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere – and thus the climate is becoming colder. This leads to glaciers spreading out throughout the northern hemisphere, which are replacing forests and also binding water, creating a more desert-like and drier climate throughout the Earth.

Such a drier climate leads to forest fires, the spreading of grasslands and deserts and the replacement of boreal forests with tundra. All of these processes serve to liberate carbon dioxide, which heats the Earth. When the Earth is warming, glaciers are melting, creating more water that can be released into the hydrological system, increasing annual rainfall, thus allowing forests to spread out and bind carbon – thus the process repeats itself.

From the 13th century, the Earth was actually starting to enter yet another Ice Age, and the world became regressively colder until the 1860’s, when the climate suddenly first began to stagnate, and then to shift towards an increase in average temperatures.

The reason for this is that the Industrial Revolution has relied on the usage of energy stored in coal and oil, which releases additional carbon when burnt. This means that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continuously has increased due to human intervention, and the climate is currently increasing at the greatest rate since we first started to measure it back in the 19th century.

Right now, it is estimated that the average temperature of the planet’s surface will increase by more than two degrees this century, which will present an enormous challenge, especially as it will affect global rainfall and drought patterns, transforming the conditions of agriculture and human in-habitation in the most populated regions of Earth. Additionally, it can lead to the partial or complete collapse of the Greenland ice shelf, the largest inland glacier system on the northern hemisphere – and the subsequent rise of sea levels.

Most of the large cities world-wide are coastal, and the situation could produce hundreds of millions of refugees at the end of this century.

The Oceans

Covering two thirds of the Earth’s surface, the Oceans and Seas are extremely important – especially as they play an important role regulating the planet’s weather and climate. Apart from that, the first advanced eco-systems on Earth were oceanic eco-systems. When the surface of continents were nothing but inhospitable deserts, the seas thrived with coral reefs and a complex biosphere containing tens of thousands of species.

The oceans today are still the home of beautiful and diverse eco-systems – home for beings ancient like the jellyfish, or intelligent like whales. Despite their abundance of life, the oceans are very sensitive however, as much of the diversity is bound to just small parts of it.

The coral reefs, the lungs of the oceans, are far more susceptible to pollution damage than previously thought, and many reefs have either collapsed or are in a state of slow dying.

Overfishing has taken its toll on nearly two thirds of assessed fish stocks worldwide, and while demand is creeping up, the reduction of oceanic biomass has made ocean wildlife a shadow of what it was just forty years ago2.

The oceanic eco-systems are some of the most sensitive on the planet, and their collapse may happen well in advance of other collapses which we may see occur at a later date.

The Soils

The soils – once nutrient-rich and deep – are the result of millions of years and tens of thousands of generations of beings that have lived, eaten and died on land, as well as the outcome of the grinding, flooding forces of nature that have nagged down rock into grains and freed minerals. Plants and trees have bound the soil and served to create firm ground, and are in their turn dependent on soil for their survival. The lithosphere – the global soil layer – is what makes life on land possible.

That is why soil degradation is a global environmental problem on the same level as climate change. Reduction of organic matter, erosion, structural deterioration and the effects of changed rainfall patterns all contribute to a decline in the quality of soils on a global level.3

To a large extent, this is caused by the expansion of pastures and of high-intensity mono- cultures. In traditional eco-systems, hundreds of species of plants co-exist with one another and return nutrients to the earth when they die. In high-intensity industrial agriculture, the goal is to get the produce to the markets as quick as possible, without any regard to the needs of the soil. If the soils are unable to cope, then you can simply use artificial fertilizers to increase the yields.

For the last 150 years, half of the topsoil of the planet has been lost, and a third of the arable land has become unproductive, according to the World Wildlife Fund.4  

Freshwater Reserves

Only 2,5% of the water on Earth consists of freshwater – which is distributed in lakes, rivers, brooks and aquifers throughout the world. Freshwater is absolutely paramount for the well- being of the world’s eco-systems. Throughout millions of years, rainwater has been stored in the soil through root systems which later decay.

This has built up large aquifers of freshwater underground, that can sustain both eco-systems and human activities. The amount of freshwater has been near constant since the days of the Dinosaurs. That is… until now.

Sadly, water scarcity is on the rise globally, as cities, water-intense industrial and agricultural practices and other forms of activities are leading to us using up more freshwater than rainfall can renew. Moreover, climate change is causing a melting of glaciers which can turn large swathes of the most populous nations on Earth into desert-like regions.

This crisis has today affected one third of Earth’s freshwater systems, and by 2025, two thirds of the global population may face water shortages5.

The sixth mass extinction

Currently, species are disappearing at a rate thousands of time exceeding what has been normal for the last 65 million years. Not only large animals are vanishing, but also small animals, plants and insects. Moreover, more and more species are becoming threatened by extinction, as their gene pools collapse and they are isolated into remote pockets – unable to migrate and have access to their living space.

There are many causes, from climate change and regional environmental crises, to poaching, poisons and destruction of habitats. One of the main reasons can be said to be out-crowding. Monocultures, highways, infrastructure projects, urban sprawls and other activities are now more surrounding nature than nature is surrounding it.

That means that eco-systems are physically being pushed aside, and that species are split in isolated pockets that lead to inbreeding and stagnation. Even if species such as the various tigers survive due to conservation, they are today living at the mercy of human intervention, and will do so for a foreseeable future.

Not even seed banks, zoological gardens or genetic samples can salvage threatened species – because a species is not only a collection of individuals, but a product of their particular environment. When that environment is destroyed, there’s often no room for specialized animals to survive.

By mid-century, it is estimated that a third to half of all species on Earth may face extinction, which will make the events which are to unfold the worst disaster for life on Earth for 65 million years.