Thursday, April 2, 2009

Comment on an interesting discussion

Below is a comment that I made to a post at Global Guerrillas, specifically to this post: PARASITIC PREDATION, and more specifically, in response to these comments: Posted by: Duncan Kinder | Friday, 27 March 2009 at 09:12 AM and Posted by: Jay | Friday, 27 March 2009 at 02:11 PM, and Posted by: James Bowery | Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 09:35 AM.

Please feel free to read the above post and comments before proceeding.

My comment:

Duncan: "f we were to define "wealth" as "information" and "the economy" as "energy flows," then it would follow that the solar inputs all of us daily receive vastly outweigh the productivity problems John describes. ( The sun is vastly more productive than you or I or Bill Gates or - indeed - all of us combined. )

While developing solar power and other such technologies would be good and consistent with this, we should note that we are not constrained by technology. We are receiving these inputs whether we develop technologies or not."

Jay: "Ultimately wealth comes from the Sun, with only three means of realizing it - you can mine something, grow something or manufacture something, and pushing paper around doesn't count."

Well stated, and I largely agree, but with some caveats. First is that you can not extract energy from the system - can not rechannel energy flows - without consequences to other parts of the ecosystem (economic or ecological). If I put up a solar panel, some plot of ground no longer receives that energy - hence there are opportunity costs even here. The same applies to wind and tide farms, they also have direct ecosystem consequences.

This is why I think solar farms are a lousy idea. It is much beter to extract solar using something that already absorbs/blocks the energy flow. Solar panels should be used on existing infrastructure, where possible. Additionally, solar farms are a way for the 'elite' landholders/developers/utilities to control the flow and cost of energy to the rest of society. Indivdual, desseminated systems would be far superior in 'costs' (possibly profit?) to the end user, and a more versatile system.

Jay, your land extraction/raw material based economics completely ignores the externalization of the costs of extraction, usually paid by less fortunate, down stream members of society. Further, it presumes that there exists a property right, and there does in a society which is developed under and by force. All property based systems start with someone or some group claiming to 'own' the raw materials/land, with these claims backed by force of arms. It's Darwinian, but I am not able to cite another form that 'acheives' the same level of material prosperity as a property rights based system. I'm also not certain that material prosperity is the best measure of the value of a given society, but a 'happiness' measure always loses to the force of arms that the property based system cna produce and maintain.

In the end, it is of up most importance to understand what effects a chosen method of energy extraction/rechanneling has on your total environment; this is of course difficult to acheive. The original developers of asbestos were not aware of the long term consequences of their product, or the owners would not have initially chosen to live, with their families, near the mines.

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