Category: Political Science

A New Contract With America
by Richard R. Tryon

The review shows how Tim Morgan has raised the specter of a time when we can not feed all or keep them warm and mobile without a cap caused by the need for more energy to release or develop more than what we expend per unit of supply provided.

Review of “Life After Growth” by Tim Morgan
by Richard R. Tryon June 1, 2014

After being invited by to review this book to help them sell more of them, I confess it only reminded me that I had planned to do it but have been delayed by the press of working to solve two of the critical concerns expressed by the author in his ending summary of Chapter 14 quoted here:

“However brief the growth interlude may have been in the overall history of mankind, growth has been with us long enough to have become firmly established in the human psyche. If society is to transition successfully from here to some form of economic stable state, we are going to need to undertake a mental change which far exceeds anything that we have ever had to face before. We need to be quite clear and unequivocal about what has to happen. We, and the leaders of our society, are going to have to ditch virtually all of our long-cherished assumptions. Our current economic system is facing imminent obsolescence, we will have to create a financial system to replace one that is poised to disintegrate, and societies will need to be run on wholly different lines. The necessity for this transition will create enormous risks. It is at this point that governments and multinational organisations really need to start addressing the EROEI challenge rather than acting like Pollyanna, who believed that all troubles would vanish if she ignored them, and whistled a cheerful tune. Whatever actions are taken, energy is going to become successively more expensive, as are critical energy-related resources such as food and water. The escalation in these costs is going to make us poorer, whether we are yet prepared to accept this fact or not. The question now is not whether this process can be averted – this is not possible – but whether it can be managed in a way that minimises disruption and hardship. Ideally, governments will recognise the nature of the EROEI problem, carry out extensive research, and appreciate that mitigating strategies are imperative.

Morgan, Tim (2013-11-18). Life After Growth: How the global economy really works - and why 200 years of growth are over (Kindle Locations 2456-2469). Harriman House. Kindle Edition. “

Noting the computer revealed spellings out of conformity with US English to show that an Englishman has been writing from a perspective colored by the history of his nation as was the case when the quest for government planning that caused the foreigner Friedrick Von Hayek to be scorned and rejected in favor of the English political-economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynesian Theory became the global key to central planning and is today as much a part of our societal fabric as is the notion that 'global warming' has caused the appearance of a frozen Lake Michigan with icebergs to appear again because of it! Neither statement is valid!

I submit that such speculations gain theoretical adherents long before real proof really is 'settled science' as even our President declares as a result of his well hidden academic credentials which allows him to remake his conclusions come forth as Executive Orders aimed at forcing us to deal with such matters as he decides. But, I digress into political speculation.

Instead we need to focus on the EROEI problem. Insofar as Morgan takes it, he is right. But, he chooses to dismiss the American 'can-do' attitude and freedom that used to overcome the world of skeptical thinking and bring forth invention. Sir Thomas Malthus predicted starvation by over- population long ago. Why has this not happened in spite of 6-7 billion more humans now than when I was born? Morgan admits that science has increased agricultural output and improved infrastructure to support it has developed to gain the way to move output anywhere. What he does not foresee it the age of producing the essential fish, vegetables and small fruit either at home or in various neighborhood, church, or other small groups of many institutional settings. Really? How on earth can such happen?
The answer requires an escape from the notion that we must find or make more soil to be used to grow food which Morgan correctly contends is not possible. So that leaves only the natural outgrowth of the discovery that essential foods can be grown anywhere without soil in minimal amounts of water, if done vertically in towers like the one shown below.

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Yes, if we allow the unemployed the freedom to feed themselves, and help finance their ability to do so, by lending the tools shown, they will be able to survive as well as our nation's pioneers who had to clear land and work very hard to avoid starvation. These tools can pay for themselves quickly, have few slow moving parts that will last a long time. They need only wind and/or solar power to stay off the GRID and only enough water to be taken up by the plants. If they grow fish to have protein and fertile fish waste water to feed plants, the water left goes back to the fish so plants not only give us food but the reformatted water taken-up by the plants! Water is never destroyed although it can be broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen.

The near future will show that hydrogen will solve our need for fuel for heat and power! The French Post Office is already showing us how with some help from a French inventor. When these two technologies are commonly available Sir Thomas Malthus will once again roll over in his grave!

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Of course, we must also perfect the way to use the sun's energy, not what we make from burning fossil fuels, to make hydrogen and oxygen from water that is stored at home to fill the car sized tank safely protected behind the rear axle to be used as needed by the Hydrogen fuel cell generator that charges the car battery to extend range several hundred miles.
When Tim Morgan sees these items moving people that are being fed and warmed by burning hydrogen to put it back into use as water to keep the supply of water unchanged on Earth....except for new water that may have been bombarding Earth since its formative gases were too hot to let it stay in a liquid form until an atmosphere ultimately cooled off enough to convert it into the liquid we call rain!

While Morgan's energy formula is correct in noting the high cost of getting conventional forms of energy it is not correct to say that the incremental output per unit of energy created is less than what it takes to get it. True, the low fruit has been harvested, but once the infrastructure for harder to get to is invested, the incremental output eventually does not need to carry all amortized capital costs.

No, I don't fault TimMorgan and I thank him for reminding us that Yankee ingenuity is now just as essential as it was in the time of Malthus to free us from dependance from those lacking the can-do spirit needed to survive in the wilderness.


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