What’s That Got to do with People?

It is important to understand the energy relationships of the ecosystem for two reasons:

1. We are part of the ecosystem and we can not survive without it, but really our individual comfort and satisfaction are not as important as the welfare of our communities. They can’t survive either.

2. Maybe it is even more important that we realize the relationship between MONEY and ENERGY. That would be, of course, an idea of how the economy relates to the ecology. When I consider the following sequence of factual statements, I end with the conclusion that we need to do a lot more thinking on this subject before we continue to try to cure a problem by doing more and more of what caused it in the first place. What’s your conclusion?

a. Whenever we use energy to do work, the energy changes from a higher form to a lower form. Because there is no such thing as 100% efficiency, some of the energy is lost, commonly as heat, a waste product or byproduct that is released into the environment.

b. Most of our energy for doing the work of staying alive and also the work of maintaining our communities (road work, driving around town, making things for us to buy) most of this comes from burning organic molecules. What happens when we burn organic molecules? A big molecule changes into a bunch of small molecules and the chemical energy (that I referred to above as organic energy) bonds that were keeping them together is released. So, an organic molecule is burned, some of the energy is used to do work, while heat and water and carbon dioxide are the byproducts. This happens in our bodies (as metabolism, see below) and it happens in our communities.

c. Our usable energy is a resource that comes from the earth. As stated before, the SOURCE of organic energy is plants, because plants make organic molecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and a few other things). Plants are the only source of energy for most of the life processes of our bodies and our communities. Oil, coal, gas were generated by plants and animals that were fossilized during the carboniferous age. We will not get more from that source than whatever is already in the earth.

d. There are also other resources that come from the earth that will be discussed in a later section.

e. Money is nothing more than green paper unless it has a relationship with resources. Money has no value. The vale of money lies in its relationship with resources.

Money of value is related to resources; resources come from the earth. That is why Ponzi schemes always eventually crash.

If we want to reach a sustainable relationship with the earth, we must look to our money and consider what we do with it. Only balance is sustainable, in goods, molecules, resources of any kind, and money. Growth is not sustainable, and as the resources become exceeded – growth is impossible.