Fairness and Energy Accounting


Usually, when we talk about Energy Accounting as a hypothetical alternative to capitalism, we are discussing it from an ecological, structural and technical perspective. This is not surprising, by our very roots our movement is concerned with sustainability, and sustainability as a subject is connected to the objective physical reality of the world – a reality which as you know unfortunately doesn’t concern itself with morality or compassion or any human values for that matter.

This does not mean that ethics and fairness are inconsequential. One definition of human societies is that they consist of institutions which are based around systems of ethics, morality and norms. While a few teenage anarchists may want to burn down all norms (because there are entrenched norms which underpin unjust hierarchies and prejudices), a society without norms or without a concept of justice – in short a nihilistic society – would soon enter into a problem when factions would start using force to exert their will.

Ultimately, a society does not only need rules to govern, but to govern well it needs a concept that these rules are fair and ideally would follow a consistent set of beliefs ingraining them into the general interactions of human beings.

One counter-argument against Energy Accounting is that while EA might be possible, it will run counter to – if not human “nature” – then human concepts of fairness. The purpose of this article is to address these concerns and make a case that Energy Accounting as it is conceived by the EOS is a profoundly consistent system of ethics, and that it is more fair – both in terms of the progressive and the conservative understanding of the concept of fairness.


  • Energy Accounting is not primarily intended to be a system of property redistribution, but a replacement for money.
  • While Energy Accounting removes the concept of exchange, it replaces it with a concept of allocation, taking into account and weighing the contributions of each member of society when determining future income.
  • This will produce a certain amount of merit-based compensation.
  • Energy Accounting removes the concept of long-term savings, meaning that generational wealth in the form of energy credits cannot be accumulated.
  • Fairness in general – both in the conservative and progressive meaning of the concept – means that people should get what they “deserve”. The main difference between the right and the left is that the right ignores unequal starting positions and posits that redistribution will destroy incentives, whereas the left want to create a level playing field to help those disadvantaged by accumulated poverty to advance and hopefully reduce inequality.
  • Money in general works to increase inequality by merit of being storable.
  • Energy Accounting will reduce inequality and eliminate wealth not derived from needs or labour, by merit of being non-storable.

A moneyless unit of calculation

The Energy Survey defines the total production capacity within the ecological constraints of the planet in terms of exergy, meaning the total amount of available energy within a system. This exergy pool will be divided into shares which will be distributed to the public sector, through key holons and to the individual citizens of the Technate. These shares are divided into units which we refer to as Energy Units or Energy Credits (both terms have their own weaknesses, Energy Units can be confused with actual Units of Energy and make readers believe that they are going to have to carry a battery storing energy around, while Energy Credits sound like it is going to be money with a new fancy name, just like the Hyperloop is just a car tunnel with a new fancy name).

Energy Credits distributed to the public sector represents what the people in common own, while those transferred directly into the hands of the individual citizens represent the share of the global production capacity directly owned by each citizen (excluding property such as valuables, clothing, housing and possibly even land).

There are two essential differences between Energy Credits and money.

First, Energy Credits are created upon transferal to the recipients, being holons or individuals. When used, they are allocated towards the production of goods and services desired by the recipient. During the process of allocation, they are transformed into information, which thereafter are unusable as means of trade. Each Energy Credit is only created to be allocated once, and can thus not wander indefinitely through the economy. The reason why is that they reflect the production capacity of the economy of the Technate.

Total Production Capacity = Total amount of Energy Credits

This of course means that during the course of an accounting cycle, the diminishing amounts of Energy Credits reflect the shrinking ecological budget (or, to use a fancy term – climate budget).

Second, of course, when the accounting cycle is finished, the second Energy Survey has been completed and seamlessly the accounts of every citizen and holon will be cleared and refilled with newly created Energy Credits, reflecting the data of the preceding period.

The unused Energy Credits of the preceding period, however, are deleted, and scrubbed from the system. This means that they neither can be accumulated (through trade) or saved – only used.

Why would anyone work?

We have identified three methods for the Technate of distributing Energy Credits to the citizens.

  1. A flat basic income which would be granted equally to all citizens. This would guarantee that no citizen would needlessly, against their will, be subject to debilitating homelessness and poverty.
  2. Energy Credits representing the time and effort put into labour during the preceding period. This method of distribution would ensure that there is an incentive to commit time and effort to work.
  3. Energy Credits representing the popularity and quality of the services provided by the holons of which the citizens are partaking in. In case the services of the holon are non-authentic or undesired by the citizens, this can be represented by a subtraction of Energy Credits, which would motivate the holon to be dissolved and its participants to move to areas where there is an actual demand.

We would recommend the usage of a combination of these three methods of distribution, though we can see significant room for regional variants and democratic participation.

What binds them together under our form of Energy Accounting is that distribution will occur on basis from data of the preceding period. This would mean that the work hours of for example a baker will yield an increased portfolio of Energy Credits for the succeeding period, and so on.

In short, this will mean that a certain inequality of outcome will arise.

Then, what makes it different from money?

Money and inequality

The invention of money arguably was a stepping stone in the advancement of the human species, as it made trade far easier as a means of standardization (previously, consumer items such as beer and dried cod served as currencies in pre-monetary economies). Money was for all purposes quite useless outside of as being a means of capital, trade and exchange, and moreover it was durable and storable over long courses of time.

The key-word, however, is storable. As money, notwithstanding inflation, can be saved, it is at the same time simultaneously a means of exchange and means of capital. As we today live in a world with soon to be eight billion human beings, most available resources on the planet are owned, and access to them is dependent upon the acquisition of money which then can be utilized for purchasing said access.

This creates a situation characterized by the following two axioms:

  1. Those without capital savings need to work for someone with capital savings in order to gain access to capital which they then need to pay for housing, clothing and food.
  2. Those with substantial capital savings can be more picky when choosing what they want to work with, or choose to not work at all.

This situation creates a profound inequality, which also tends to perpetuate itself, because capital is inheritable and can serve to uplift dynasties – especially after the invention of stock markets, which allow those with capital to let their money work for them.

Granted, this system has a proven track record of creating economic growth. A substantial part of humanity today lives in a state of splendour unthinkable even for most middle class and nobility just two hundred years ago. This is far from the case with most of the human race, many of whom are still living as sedentary farmers in the developing world (though cell-phones and Internet access are also affecting the lives of an ever-increasing number of Africans).

However, most of that growth – 80% as a rule – tend to end up in the hands of the 20% wealthiest members of the population. When capital gains grow faster than productivity, the wealth concentration also tend to accelerate. Most of the debate between the proponents of capitalism and socialism during the 19th and 20th centuries have occurred in this dimension and the issue has been about which system is superior in generating growth and also creating fair outcomes.

For the 21st century, the issue will be about a different topic – namely that it is increasingly evident that our current system is overexploiting the planet’s natural reserves and surface, and thus building up the foundations for the largest reduction of social complexity in human history (read; a collapse of gargantuan magnitude).

A fair case for the current system

Cornucopians such as Björn Lomborg, Hans Rosling and Stephen Pinker often point out that while they recognize that inequality is a feature of the current system, it need not be so bad if the economy grows for everyone. In short, an African country which liberalizes and open up its markets will initially feel a shock, but gradually, due to economic growth, people will afford to buy sandals. Their children will then buy bikes. And their grand-children will drive cars on African free-ways. In short, while the monetary system will perpetuate inequality, economic growth (which according to some theorists may even be generated by increased inequality since inequality drives up the incentives for workers to perform and increase their productivity) will lead to a better outcome for everyone in the long run.

Thus, from a utilitarian perspective, inequality may be an acceptable side-effect of economic growth in the long run, if one chooses to disregard the fact that we are living on a planet where we are utilizing the equivalent of what 1,7 Earths can renew in one year!

Thus, the utilitarian argument that eventually, all countries on the planet will catch up with Sweden falls on the fact that if everyone lived as a typical Swede we would need more than 4 Earths for all of humanity. Therefore, what remains are the moral arguments – so lets examine those.

Fairness as a product of labor

Usually, as the conflict is construed in the popular narrative in western societies, the moral conflict between capitalism and socialism is understood as the former believing in legalism – i.e people are entitled to their property rights – whereas the latter believes in social justice – namely that all people should get access to the products and services which the aggregated economy can provide for them.

This view is however only true on the surface level, as both the Right and Left are more closely aligned than either of the two polarities really care to admit. Namely, in regard to the fact that both sides care for fairness as a product of labour.

  • The Right, on its side, asserts that every person should be entitled the fruits of their labour, and thence the concept of taxes and redistribution are inherently problematic, as they (according to the proponents of this morality) transfer wealth from the people who created it to people who took no part in its creation. Note that when we talk about the “Right” in this context, we are focusing on market liberals and conservatives, and not proponents of fascist, reactionary or traditionalist ideologies, whose moralities are founded on irrational and subjective principles which are inherently and openly self-serving.
  • The Left, on the other hand, claims that capitalism is inherently unfair as the starting field on the marketplace is heavily skewed towards people who possess inherited capital, and that poor people often are brutalized and have less choices in what paths they can pursue, and therefore that some redistribution can make up for the power capital holds over labour in society.

Both sides, in theory, conform to the idea that people are entitled to the fruits of their labour. The conflict lies in whether redistribution or capital inequality constitutes the greater evil.

Therefore, Energy Accounting would solve this conundrum and eliminate this conflict altogether.


Under the model envisioned by the EOS, the distribution of Energy Credits to each citizens is divided into three individual accounts per citizen. The first one is distributed on the basis of a UBI system where each citizen will acquire an equal share of the global economy. The second one is distributed on the basis of the hours of work provided by the citizen, and the third one on the basis of the performance of the holon (cooperative, corporation, branch, department) within which the citizen is working.

This means that there will not be a total equality of outcome under the model which we propose. If you work more during the Period I, you will receive a higher income during Period II, than another citizen who has worked less. Granted, since there is an income floor, the inequality will not create such effects as homelessness or undernourishment. This follows from the third criterion – all human beings should have access to the planet’s livelihood! Meanwhile, the two other citizen accounts will take into account the meritocratic aspects of society.

Is this relative inequality fair, from a leftist or rightist perspective?

If we look from the perspective of work due to labour, both leftists and rightists would have to accept that the Energy Accounting model is fair, as it would guarantee each citizen access to the fruits of their labour, and award Energy Credits according to the amount of time and effort a citizen has committed to necessary tasks.

What Energy Accounting will eliminate, however, will be capital, in the sense of units of wealth which can be exchanged (Energy Credits are transformed into information when allocated and are not units of exchange) and stored (at the beginning of period II, Energy Credits valid for period I are deleted and each account is reset with period II Energy Credits).

This means that aggregated, long-term inequality will be eliminated. Amassing and hoarding wealth over generations will be impossible, and thus the value of one’s labour will diminish over time, meaning that the disparities of income and thus access to resources can more fluidly change between individuals under a system of Energy Accounting. The concept of “old wealth” and “aristocracy” will be completely abolished, not by political decision but by the very design of Energy Credits.

If you believe that fairness is that people should be compensated in accordance with their performance, and that each person is entitled to the fruits of their labour, Energy Accounting should be seen as a system that strives for a fair(er) outcome, as it gives more people the opportunity to participate on a more equal playing field.


The First Criterion for Sustainability – the Energy Survey


The first of the Three Criteria is that humanity may not use more resources than the Earth can renew each year, and it is no coincidence it’s the first. After all, if we use more than our planet can renew each year we will be creeping towards a Mass Extinction Event (MXE) no matter how many sustainable technologies we are implementing and how little CO2 we are releasing.

One question does however arise; At what point do we use more than what the Earth can renew?

There are several studies conducted both by national, international and non-governmental bodies which outline our usage rate of different resources, based on available data. Sadly, it can be said that these surveys generally fail to receive access to the resources which they need, and also do not gain the wide public attention they so richly deserve. Nevertheless, they represent an important step in the right direction.

Before we can install an ecological budget ceiling we need to know approximately how much resources which are available on a global level. If there is one aspect of the EOS design which is absolutely, critically essential for the future of Humanity, that would be the one.

In today’s world, it is absolutely paramount that we install a surveillance system capable of continuously surveying our Civilization’s resource usage and its environmental impact on our planet. We need to give up the illusion there is something called “a free lunch” and realise that whatever we are doing, ecosystems will be affected.

That is but one of the reasons why we desperately need to consciously minimise our impact.


  • The current crisis in the world is primarily a resource usage crisis.
  • This crisis is manifesting in an ecological budget deficit.
  • This deficit will lead to a MXE if not reversed.
  • If we want to live sustainably, we will need to establish an ecological budget ceiling.
  • This budget ceiling must be based on the planetary carrying capacity and determine how much resources and – in the long term – surface that we may utilise for the purpose of Humanity.
  • We need to determine this budget ceiling using the scientific method, with basis in criteria which can be objectively verified.
  • There are several methods to determine the resource usage on the planet.
  • The principle we have chosen to look at closer is derived from the concept of the energy survey.
  • This concept is a continuous process, which is meant to be an on-going investigation and tracking of resource capacity and resource flows.
  • This process is meant to gather data which defines the constraints within which our civilization on Earth may operate.
  • This process must be continuously fine-tuned within the perimeters established by scientific consensus.
Credit: Global Footprint Network

How the crisis manifests

The current crisis has two aspects – pollution and surface over-usage.

When most people think about environmental problems, they usually think of the first phenomenon. Particle emissions have a negative local and regional impact, and the release of fossilised greenhouse gasses perils human civilization as we know it. Other examples of damaging by-products are for example chemicals leaking out where they should not be, hormones from medicines polluting freshwater reservoirs and tire rubber infecting trees. In general, people tend to have an instinctual understanding of why this is having a negative impact.

The understanding of our surface impact is sadly more difficult to convey to the masses, partially because pollution often leaves visible tracks, while the aberrations caused by the surface usage are invisible to a large extent. Everyone could see and smell if a once clear and blue lake now is covered by slimy green algae, but the gradual disappearance of pollinating insects, the continuous retreat of natural ecosystems, the destructions of soils and freshwater reservoirs go unnoticed and are more difficult to comprehend. To some extent this is also true for CO2 emissions, whereas one big chemical plant may poison a river, the on-going release of fossilised carbon into the climate cycle remains a de-centralised distributed process, where each little car provides a minuscule amount but the billions of cars are having a profound impact.

Ultimately, around between 33% and 40% of the Earth’s land surface is utilised for the purpose of industrial monocultures, which has an incredibly degrading effect on soils and freshwater reservoirs. Coupled with the reliance of fossil-based fertilisers and pesticides this does not bode well for sustainability in the future. Even if renewable technologies are available, the unsustainable methodologies still grow faster and wider in scope, and quite often even if new and more efficient technologies are introduced, they actually worsen the environmental impact by making exploitation more available (Jevons’ Paradox).

Similar data exists for all ecosystems affected by our linear resource usage system. Trawling has damaged oceanic ecosystems. Urban sprawl has created light pollution which affects nocturnal ecosystems badly. Vast areas of forests are being cleared each year, leading to a deficit of trillions of trees. Our civilization seems to be a super-organism, hell-bent on slowly covering the planet’s surface in its web.

An ecological budget ceiling?

Often, you hear different numbers – that we are reaching Earth Overshoot Day earlier and earlier each year, that to be sustainable our planet would have to be 1,4 times larger than it is. This data is derived from the Global Footprint Network, a Euro-American think tank which produces global biocapacity studies derived from tens of thousands of control points each year. An ecological footprint here is defined as the quantity of nature it takes to sustain populations and economies. The carbon footprint is determining the cost by converting the data according to the Earth’s ability to absorb carbon, which is a narrower methodology, while other institutes are measuring the impact with other methodologies. According to Post Carbon Institute, the average human being is using “2,7 global hectares of bioproductive land and water”, while only 2,1 should be sustainably available, thus overshooting by circa 30%.

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is calling for a global, ecological budget ceiling which would constrain the amount of surface which can be utilised for purposes related to the human civilization, to the point where we can secure the long-term resilience and feasibility of human activity on the planet. This means that measurements of Earth’s carrying capacity should become the central core tenet of any future world economy and establish the constraints within which we may act. This is so essential that we define it as the first criterion for achieving sustainability; and that should be a no-brainer!

When we talk about an ecological budget ceiling, we are not talking about morality – about urging the consumers to choose right. We are talking of a global limit of what might be extracted by producers, over the entire planet.

Yes, that is currently a Utopian concept, but sadly for our era everything which would put our civilization on a truly sustainable path would be considered politically unfeasible – thence Utopian. The concept of an ecological budget ceiling must, as long as we are having a technologically advanced industrial civilization on the planet, be the foundation of our resource extraction parameters.


The Energy Survey methodology

The foundation of the Energy Survey will be that each continent, region, locality and community should be equipped with the tools to conduct a continuous, automated survey of all the vital ecological systems in their geographic areas, as well as the energy and resource usage of all available machinery. In short, both the biosphere and the technosphere should be put under thorough, continuous and vigilant surveillance.

This data acquisition would either be conducted by individuals in each community tasked with monitoring the relevant information fractals, by automated computerised systems, by academic institutions, by departments or by a combination of some or all of the aforementioned. It will be poured into a global information hub which will be available through the Internet or equivalent information technology platforms which may hypothetically supplant it. Within the framework of this hub, all economic operations conducted by humanity on the planet Earth would be analysed from various different perspectives – but most notably from an energy perspective, and then specifically regarding the exergy and emergy aspects of resource flows. This conversion of information would provide the public and the technate with a frame of reference from which decisions can be derived. The information provided would contain all types of operations, industrial and agricultural, ecological and non-ecological – all being measured with the same parameters, their impact on the ecosystems analysed from a long-term energy perspective.

Who will control this extensive databank?

Ultimately, both for the purpose of data acquisition and transparency, the control must be distributed and intermediate.

Conducting and controlling the Survey

There are three reasons for distributing the control over the Energy Survey.

  • Assembling and registering millions of data points every month cannot be maintained efficiently by one centralised structure, which would need to exist parallel to all economic operations.
  • It will reduce the risk of errors if all information is available for peer reviews and for verifiable correction of flawed information by the communities involved.
  • It will significantly reduce the risk of any political or technological faction exerting totalitarian control, as well as the perception of that being the case.
  • Which actors would then be able to take part of the data as well as contributing to it? By necessity there would need to be at least six groupings which influence the Survey in different or similar manners.
  • The Public: Each citizen would be able to introduce input which will be subject to peer review and which would be approved or discarded judged by evidence (for example if an individual is noticing that someone is storing liquid fuel in the forest or shooting beavers and omitting to report it). So much information as possible about resource flows should also be available for the public. The Survey would also – more importantly (see the article on Energy Accounting) be the foundation for the market economy, affecting the cost of all products and services which the individual citizen would like to allocate energy units to. The Public would also use the data of the Survey to be able to make political decisions about resource allocation.
  • Production Facilities: Or Holons. Each Holon would be responsible for reporting all vital data on its own resource usage to the Survey, and would of course also have available special data sheets seeing its own resource usage over time.
  • Communities: Local communities would both be responsible to report vital data of the resource usage of their utilities and public buildings, as well as to report future projects and conservation efforts. The Survey would also be available to provide a basis for planning and allocating collective resources. Communities would also potentially have their own teams responsible for developing, improving and fine-tuning the Energy Survey locally in order to make it better reflect the economic reality.
  • Academic Institutions: Ecologists, geophysicists, geologists and other scientists would form teams which would serve in boards which establish reference points and conduct peer reviews, and would also – in case things are unclear – send out field excursions to analyse anomalies which may appear within the Survey. Amongst the coordinators, there must be a certain amount of scientists to validate the findings of the Survey in a transparent and open manner.
  • Technical Institutions: Or rather, nodes. Software technicians, computer programmes, continuous scans and probably thousands of servers will store and manage the assembled data, and provide the graphic interfaces which will allow the public to gain access to easily understood statistical information pertaining to the Survey. The role of these institutions is to ensure that the software of the Survey works efficiently, to protect the data from viruses and to support the platform.
  • The Technate: In reality, both the Facilities/Holons and the Technical Institutions are considered to be parts of the Technate, but the Technate does also – in this model – provide one crucial service, and that is that it uses the results of the Survey to issue Energy Units and distribute them to the Holons, to the Communities and to the Public, for in short the Survey is determining the size of the economy.

We should not discuss any details on the complex networks which are required to make this process work, as they would be dictated by the size of the global resource flows and by our technical capabilities to conduct this Survey at any given point. What can be said, however, is that it probably will be increasingly possible to automate a larger and larger share of this work for every year – which will arise other questions which rather pertain to the autonomy of the community and the individual. I will not delve into that discussion much herein, but instead say that putting all the monitoring of the Earth’s resource flows into the cybernetic chips of an AI God seems like a move towards a massive centralization and subsequent loss of autonomy, as well as running counter to the resiliency and sustainability we want to strive towards.

By EmilisB, DeviantArt


A critique often heard against the Energy Survey is that it would be very encompassing and difficult to conduct, yes it will even contribute somewhat to our resource usage on Earth! To that critique, I can say without doubt that it is correct, but that we mean that the Energy Survey is a necessary instrument – and that for several reasons. We can list two of the most important reasons.

  • If you want to have an ecological budget ceiling – which you must want to have if you are in support of sustainability – we need to determine how much resources we can use.
  • The Energy Survey would eliminate much of the need for tiresome political bickering and compromises, and do away with the tradition of random, arbitrary patch-work policies (punish some products, rewarding others based on political preferences). Our goal is to replace perceptions of reality with reality.

You know well the main challenges of instituting a global energy survey which would run for the continued duration of human civilization, right? The fact that we have 190+ more or less independent nation-states, multinational corporations, alliances and a myriad of short-term interests working to maintain an untenable status quo…

Technically, it would be extremely cumbersome to process and analyse such an ocean of data every month of every year, and provide – in as close as real-time as possible – an interactive flowchart and map of the planet’s resources and their usage.

Yes, but who has said that the Survey should be installed in one swoop and emerge in its crystal-clear, final form as Phoenix from the flames? In fact, much like the other aspects of our work, the Survey will most likely emerge gradually if we install it – first with a focus on certain regions and certain raw materials, before the scope incrementally widens. In the beginning it will not necessarily be directly connected to the concept of Energy Accounting either.

This means that the fact that the software algorithms and programmes necessary for the Survey are not developed yet shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem. Rather, there might even be interest amongst agents in today’s civilization to contribute to the development of an Earth Resource Monitor Software, and incentives to innovate the technologies necessary to eventually shift towards the Energy Survey. These innovations will also make the measurements conducted by the Survey gradually more and more accurate, even if the accomplishment of full accuracy is extremely unlikely.

This, the accuracy issue, is another issue of contentment. Since perfection is impossible to achieve, we should not even try, and instead make use of the information patches we currently have to get political compromises where possible and continue down the current trail. That argument, however, should not even be dignified with a  response, since it could well be used as an argument for not minimising traffic deaths or aeroplane accidents, and to not sanitize the water supplies since a hundred percent elimination of parasites is impossible.

What stands clear is that we need an ecological budget ceiling – something akin to an Energy Survey is necessary.

Credit: Dylan Cole

Energy, Exergy and Emergy

Usually, an energy survey studies the energy efficiency of a building and how to save energy when constructing or maintaining infrastructure. Our Energy Survey will treat the entire human civilization’s infrastructure as one integrated super-system. In our opinion, energy is the most useful denominator since it can be labelled the Currency of the Cosmos, which means that the available energy reserves determine what we can utilise.

A rough draft of how we would proceed would look like this:

  • We would measure the total energy capacity currently available on the Earth (exergy), and then subtract the part which is necessary to keep the biosphere ecologically sustainable (that part would constitute the limit for the budget ceiling, and it would be verboten to exceed).
  • We would measure the total energy needed to maintain our technosphere (emergy).
  • We would measure the total amount of energy it will take to extract resources and to compensate for adversarial environmental effects within the scope of our current technological ability (emergy).

This model would provide a few challenges on its own. On a macro level, there can come times when we are forced to exceed the ecological budget ceiling, for example during natural disasters, which is why there ideally should be a buffer (that can also help compensate for inaccuracies in the Survey itself).

One usual critique against Energy Accounting is that different types of energy are using different amounts of labour, and therefore “the value of the energy units would differ between different types of energy”. I have a distinct suspicion that these critics have misinterpreted aspects of the Design, as that argument was aimed at poking holes against the claim (or rather observation) that values in terms of energy are not subjectively defined with that different types of energy have different energy values (while the basic energy units remain the same)! I must admit that argument is quite incomprehensible, and probably arises from a misunderstanding.

However, one aspect of the critique is correct, and that is that sometimes energy efficient ways of managing for example forest reforestation or mining operations would not be available, forcing the people on the ground to rely on less energy efficient methodologies. Moreover, outdoor temperatures, moisture levels, equipment age and similar can affect the amount of energy which is used and on an aggregated level have huge effects. This can be partially alleviated by installing energy measurements into machinery and buildings, which is a necessary aspect of the Energy Survey anyway.

A smart civilization?

The concepts of “smart cities” and “the Internet of Things” are well-known ideas which are gradually being implemented as these words are written. These are, within their own at the moment limited scopes, vastly improving information gathering and to some extent energy usage.

What we want to do ultimately is to scale these concepts to a civilisationary level – because while a smart city would manage the energy within its limits more sustainably, cities today are using land surface from throughout the globe, and the usage of these resources are only measured in terms of the city’s energy cost in managing said flows.

What we need is to interconnect all cities, all the machinery and all the facilities which make up our technosphere, so we can see the extraction of the raw materials, the production of machines and goods, their usage and their effect on the environment in a full scope. While smart cities are a beginning, we must not delude ourselves that is an end point of our discussion.

Smart cities could however serve as a starting point towards the Energy Survey, and regional energy surveys which run continuously and involve relevant institutions, factories, the government and the people would serve as experimental fields which can be studied with the purpose of identifying inherent weaknesses in our current methodologies and systematically eliminate or minimise them as the time passes on.

Time is not on our side however.

Credit: Sam Clayton/Vincent Callebaut

Where we must go

The EOS Design has one area where no compromises are possible, and that area is the Three Criteria. These must be fulfilled so Humanity should be able to thrive sustainably on Earth, and most important of these is the First Criterion – that we do not use more resources than the Earth can renew.

It is very likely that the situation is far more complicated and serious than we even can imagine. Our civilization is currently built on a house of cards of fiat money and debt, and the establishment is currently caught between the Scylla of economic collapse (in case economic growth stalls) and the Charybdis of ecological collapse (in case exponential growth continues unabated).

In order to live within Earth’s carrying capacity, we need to have an ecological budget ceiling.

To have an ecological budget ceiling we must, as objectively and scientifically as possible, determine the planetary carrying capacity.

To do that, we need some form of Survey, and therefore while there might be alternatives to conducting Energy Surveys, we cannot escape the fact that if we are going to have a technological civilization on Earth to sustain billions of human beings while at the same time avert a Sixth Mass Extinction Event, we need to monitor our resource usage, which will require a coordinated global effort to track flows. Energy is simply one methodology which encompasses all systems, especially if we integrate the budget ceiling and make ecological compensation a hallmark of every resource transfer.

The alternative, which we currently are pursuing, is sometimes based on close-to-exact data within limited areas, but equally often on political expediency, which creates random and arbitrary results and lulls the public into believing that whatever it is we have today can survive with the bare minimum of reforms.

We need a deep and radical transition, if Humanity should be able to successfully thrive on Earth for this millennium. If we base our estimates on real data and adapt as the information improves, we stand a real chance to create an equitable future for everyone.


Energy Accounting


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.

Exergy for Resource Accounting


A hi-tech society utilises energy, materials and information. Such a society utilises automation as much as possible to reduce work thus in such a society in becomes useful to use a measure of energy for resource monitoring and allocation. The article looks at the exergy concept as a way to measure energy utilised, materials and information for a hi-tech resourced based economy such as one that uses an energy accounting system. 


Since its beginning, the technocracy movement has advocated a thermodynamic interpretation of economics [Tec]. This comes from foundation works in thermodynamics and the works of Professor Soddy [Sod] .

In thermodynamics, we can model all processes as converting energy from one form to another and in the process generating work or forming structures of low entropy. Nothing gets done without the conversion of energy. We lose no energy but we done change the form of the energy and as we do so the resulting energy forms have less use [YoFr].

Although originally scientists developed thermodynamics for heat engines such as steam trains the laws of thermodynamics have much wider application. We can apply them to the human body and to society as a whole and to information [Cha, Geo]. It was from this realisation that the technocrats in the US used thermodynamics as a way to interpret economic and resource allocation system.

Since the 1930s science has progressed and a number of concepts have become unified in a thermodynamic understanding. For example, we can understand information as a form of entropy as well as economics and social history and life (as processes that try to maximise low entropy).


Entropy measures a negative concepts; disorder or the uselessness of energy. The higher the entropy the more the disorder and the less use we can obtain from a given quantity of energy. We can look at this another way and measure the amount of useful energy we have; the negentropy or exergy [Wall]. The term “Exergy” means external energy; its a measure of our ability to do work. Our ability to do work has a dependence on the environment. For example, if we have a high temperature difference between a heat source and the outside world we can gain more work than if we have heat at a lower temperature and if we had heat at the same temperature as the surrounding environment we could get no work out of it. Thus, exergy has a relationship to environment and a relationship to value. Ice in the desert has a higher exergy content and thus higher value. Ice in the Arctic has low exergy and low value.

The entropy concepts allows us to capture a number of other concepts in thermodynamics such as Gibbs energy and Helmholz energy which measure useful energy in relation to heat and heat and pressure reservoirs. We can also measure exergy content of materials through measuring the Gibbs energy in relation to the environment form of a material and the concentration of that material.

We can extend exergy to measure information. Entropy was linked to information in the work of Shannon [Sha]. The more states a system has the greater the potential the system has for storing information and, thus, the more useful the system from an information perspective. Thus a system with high information potential has low entropy or high exergy. The information potential also has a link back to the environment as known information (information that matches the environment) has no value but information that differs from the environment (from what we know) has value.

Exergy and resource accounting

In energy accounting we measure the production capacity, in terms of energy, we have for personal use and then divide that with the number of people we have. We then issue Energy Credits (ECs) to each person for them to allocate to production. In the system we produce and then consume energy credits. Actually, we really measure the amount of useful energy used in production not the energy itself; we measure the amount of exergy consumed in production.

A resource allocation system,however, does more than just allocate energy for production; it also allocates materials. Each item produced takes a certain amount of raw materials to produce it and this needs taken into account when managing the system. Exergy offers a way we could do this in common with energy used in production. In using exergy as a measure we not only measure more closely what we do in production but also have a common unit to measure the materials used as well. As a hi-tech society not only consumes exergy but also utilises information, exergy also gives us a common unit of measure for measuring information. Thus exergy gives us a common unit of measure for energy usage, materials and information.


As we can use exergy as common unit for energy usage in production and materials as well as information the exergy concept becomes a possible accounting method for a energy accounting system or a resourced based economy.


[YoFr] “University Physics”. Young and Freedman. Addison Wesley

[Wall] “Exergetics.” Göran Wall. Bucaramanga 2009

[Geo] “The Entropy Law and the Economic Process”. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. Harvard University Press. 1971.

[Cha] “The Physical Foundations of Economics”. Jing Chen. World Scientific Printers. 2005

[Sha] “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” C. Shannon. The Bell Systems Technical Journal. 27, 379-423, 623-653.

[Sod] “Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt” George Allen & Unwin. Frederick Soddy. 1926

[Tec] “Technocracy Study Course”. M. King Hubbert et al. Technocracy Inc.