Tag Archives: economic growth

Ramping up wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles can’t solve our energy problem

Many people believe that installing more wind turbines and solar panels and manufacturing more electric vehicles can solve our energy problem, but I don’t agree with them. These devices, plus the batteries, charging stations, transmission lines and many other structures necessary to make them work represent a high level of complexity.

A relatively low level of complexity, such as the complexity embodied in a new hydroelectric dam, can sometimes be used to solve energy problems, but we cannot expect ever-higher levels of complexity to always be achievable.

According to the anthropologist Joseph Tainter, in his well-known book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, there are diminishing returns to added complexity. In other words, the most beneficial innovations tend to be found first. Later innovations tend to be less helpful. Eventually the energy cost of added complexity becomes too high, relative to the benefit provided. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , , | 97 Comments

Why raising interest rates to reduce inflation may work out very badly

Are we headed for very high energy prices? Or, are we headed for a financial system that starts falling apart? The whole economic system may change remarkably. For example, what many people thought was money, or a promised pension plan, may not really be there when the time comes to get value from it. Shelves in stores may be empty when it comes time to make a purchase. Continue reading

Posted in Energy policy, Financial Implications, News Related Post | Tagged , | 3,945 Comments

Don’t expect the world economy to resume its prior growth pattern after COVID-19

Most people seem to think that the world economy is going through a temporary disruption, caused by a novel coronavirus. As soon as COVID-19 goes away, they expect the economy will be back to normal. I think that this assessment is overly optimistic. The way I see the situation, the world economy was already having severe growth problems, caused indirectly by resource problems, even before COVID-19 hit. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , | 3,576 Comments

2021: More troubles likely

Most people expect that the economy of 2021 will be an improvement from 2020. I don’t think so. Perhaps COVID-19 will be somewhat better, but other aspects of the economy will likely be worse. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , | 3,373 Comments

2020: The Year Things Started Going Badly Wrong

Some might describe the energy story as a “diminishing returns” story, but it’s really broader than this. It’s a story of services that we expect to continue, but which cannot continue without much more energy investment. It is also a story of the loss of “economies of scale” that at one time helped propel the economy forward. Continue reading

Posted in Financial Implications | Tagged , , , , | 2,805 Comments