Failing States Collapsing Systems

Author: Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319478168
Size: 80.14 MB
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This work executes a unique transdisciplinary methodology building on the author’s previous book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it (Pluto, 2010), which was the first peer-reviewed study to establish a social science framework for the integrated analysis of crises across climate, energy, food, economic, terror and the police state. Since the 2008 financial crash, the world has witnessed an unprecedented outbreak of social unrest in every major continent. Beginning with the birth of the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, the eruption of civil disorder continues to wreak havoc unpredictably from Greece to Ukraine, from China to Thailand, from Brazil to Turkey, and beyond. Yet while policymakers and media observers have raced to keep up with events, they have largely missed the biophysical triggers of this new age of unrest – the end of the age of cheap fossil fuels, and its multiplying consequences for the Earth’s climate, industrial food production, and economic growth. This book for the first time develops an empirically-ground theoretical model of the complex interaction between biophysical processes and geopolitical crises, demonstrated through the analysis of a wide range of detailed case studies of historic, concurrent and probable state failures in the Middle East, Northwest Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Geopolitical crises across these regions, Ahmed argues, are being driven by the proliferation of climate, food and economic crises which have at their root the common denominator of a fundamental and permanent disruption in the energy basis of industrial civilization. This inevitable energy transition, which will be completed well before the close of this century, entails a paradigm shift in the organization of civilization. Yet for this shift to result in a viable new way of life will require a fundamental epistemological shift recognizing humanity’s embeddedness in the natural world. For this to be achieved, the stranglehold of conventional models achieved through the hegemony of establishment media reporting – dominated by fossil fuel interests – must be broken. While geopolitics cannot be simplistically reduced to the biophysical, this book shows that international relations today can only be understood by recognizing the extent to which the political is embedded in the biophysical. Although the book offers a rigorous scientific analysis, it is written in a clean, journalistic style to ensure readability and accessibility to a general audience. It will contain a large number of graphical illustrations concerning oil production data, population issues, the food price index, economic growth and debt, and other related issues to demonstrate the interconnections and correlations across key sectors.

Energy And The Wealth Of Nations

Author: Charles A.S. Hall
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319662198
Size: 10.51 MB
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In this updated edition of a groundbreaking text, concepts such as energy return on investment (EROI) provide powerful insights into the real balance sheets that drive our “petroleum economy.” Hall and Klitgaard explore the relation between energy and the wealth explosion of the 20th century, and the interaction of internal limits to growth found in the investment process and rising inequality with the biophysical limits posed by finite energy resources. The authors focus attention on the failure of markets to recognize or efficiently allocate diminishing resources, the economic consequences of peak oil, the high cost and relatively low EROI of finding and exploiting new oil fields, including the much ballyhooed shale plays and oil sands, and whether alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar power can meet the minimum EROI requirements needed to run society as we know it. For the past 150 years, economics has been treated as a social science in which economies are modeled as a circular flow of income between producers and consumers. In this “perpetual motion” of interactions between firms that produce and households that consume, little or no accounting is given of the flow of energy and materials from the environment and back again. In the standard economic model, energy and matter are completely recycled in these transactions, and economic activity is seemingly exempt from the Second Law of Thermodynamics. As we enter the second half of the age of oil, when energy supplies and the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption are likely to constrain economic growth, this exemption should be considered illusory at best. This book is an essential read for all scientists and economists who have recognized the urgent need for a more scientific, empirical, and unified approach to economics in an energy-constrained world, and serves as an ideal teaching text for the growing number of courses, such as the authors’ own, on the role of energy in society.

When Trucks Stop Running

Author: Alice J. Friedemann
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319263757
Size: 23.12 MB
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In lively and engaging language, this book describes our dependence on freight transport and its vulnerability to diminishing supplies and high prices of oil. Ships, trucks, and trains are the backbone of civilization, hauling the goods that fulfill our every need and desire. Their powerful, highly-efficient diesel combustion engines are exquisitely fine-tuned to burn petroleum-based diesel fuel. These engines and the fuels that fire them have been among the most transformative yet disruptive technologies on the planet. Although this transportation revolution has allowed many of us to fill our homes with global goods even a past emperor would envy, our era of abundance, and the freight transport system in particular, is predicated on the affordability and high energy density of a single fuel, oil. This book explores alternatives to this finite resource including other liquid fuels, truck and locomotive batteries and utility-scale energy storage technology, and various forms of renewable electricity to support electrified transport. Transportation also must adapt to other challenges: Threats from climate change, financial busts, supply-chain failure, and transportation infrastructure decay. Robert Hirsch, who wrote the “Peaking of World Oil Production” report for the U.S. Department of Energy in 2005, said that planning for peak world production must start at least 10, if not 20 years ahead of time. What little planning exists focuses mainly on how to accommodate 30 percent more economic growth while averting climate change, ignoring the possibility that we are at, or near, the end of growth. Taken for granted, the modern transportation system will not endure forever. The time is now to take a realistic and critical look at the choices ahead, and how the future of transportation may unfold.

Energy And The Financial System

Author: Roger Boyd
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 3319042386
Size: 52.61 MB
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The modern financial system was developed to support the rapid economic growth that took off about 200 years ago with the phenomenal amounts of cheap energy made available through the exploitation of fossil fuels. As a result, its viability is completely dependent upon the continuation of that growth. Unfortunately, the more recent fossil fuel discoveries, especially for oil, have tended to have lower production levels than earlier ones. In addition, greater amounts of energy are required to extract the fossil fuels leading to less net energy available for society. The Energy Return On Investment (EROI) for oil has fallen from 30:1 in the 1970's to 10:1 today. Thus, newer energy finds produce lower extraction rates and more of the energy provided is offset by the energy used in the extraction processes. The result has been economic stagnation or even contraction, with growth in China and India etc. only possible due to the extensive use of local coal reserves, and recession-induced drops in OECD country energy use. Renewable sources of energy will not be able to expand fast enough to replace the 87% of energy supplies provided by fossil fuels, and apart from hydro and wind, tend to have very low EROI rates. They are also critically dependent upon the cheap energy infrastructure provided by fossil fuels. The phenomenal amounts of path-dependent energy infrastructure will also greatly inhibit any move away from fossil fuels. Without continued economic growth there will not be the extra output to fund loan interest payments, nor the revenue and profit growth to support share price/earnings multiples. The financial system acts as a time machine, creating asset prices based upon perceptions of the future. As an increasing percentage of investors come to accept the future reality of at best, financial asset prices will fall to reflect a realistic future. The resulting crash will remove the underpinnings of the banking, brokerage, mutual fund, pension fund, and insurance industries. The comfortable futures of many will be shown to have been based upon a mirage of future growth that will not take place. With the financial system acting as the critical coordination system of the global economy, its crash will also intensify economic problems. Written by a retired financial industry executive with over 25 years of experience, this book describes how the crisis will affect different regions and industries to help identify the career and investment choices which may provide a relative safe harbour.

Cold War Energy

Author: Douglas B. Reynolds
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780692630617
Size: 47.10 MB
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Every great empire, from the Roman to the British and to the Soviet Empire, has had, at its economic heart, an energy source that is integral to that empire's ability to produce, transport, and use goods and services. Without energy nothing can move, run, or work in any economy, particularly an imperial one. Energy is an often overlooked key to understanding economics in general and understanding the Soviet Union's remarkable economic growth in particular, from the challenging era of collectivization, to the spectacular technological era of Sputnik and to the expansionist era of Soviet-Afghan aggression. Energy is central and integral to understanding Soviet economic growth as well as our own current, Western economic growth. However, a rise and decline in available energy must be considered as a factor in the incredible rise and then decline and fall of the Soviet Union's Empire. In this book, we will look at how the Soviet Union's economy relied on energy every bit as much as our own Western-oriented economies do today and how the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) should be analyzed as a cohesive and synergetic economic/energy system, which parallels today's global, trade-oriented, Western centric economic/energy system almost exactly. The book provides an overview of the many theories that seek to explain the fall of the Soviet Union, including an energy theory, and challenges the prevailing status quo hypothesis promoted by many economists and much of academia for how the fall of the Soviet Union happened--that it was caused by a mismanaged economy. We will look at the Soviet Empire's economic history just before the collapse in order to understand how growth and decline occur in general and how it occurred in Easter Europe and Central Asia specifically. Then we will explore, in laymen's terms, standard, economic growth orthodoxy, often called neo-classical growth theory, and relate it to the rise of Soviet power. The book also goes into the theories of peak oil including the economic and physical reasons for why peak oil occurs and how it progresses.

Energy Return On Investment

Author: Charles A.S. Hall
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319478214
Size: 13.99 MB
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This authoritative but highly accessible book presents the reader with a powerful framework for understanding the critical role of the energy return on investment (EROI) in the survival and well-being of individuals, ecosystems, businesses, economies and nations. Growth and development are fundamental and ubiquitous processes at all scales, from individuals to food crops to national economies. While we are all familiar with the concepts of economic growth and living standards as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), we often take for granted the energy use that underpins GDP and our expectations for year-on-year growth. In this book, you will learn how these measures of “progress” are completely dependent on the balance that can be achieved between energy costs (inputs) and gains. Nothing is made or moved without an energy surplus, and it is the EROI of available energy sources more than any other single factor that determines the shape of civilization. Nearly all politics and economics assume that policy and market forces are the levers upon which future outcomes will hinge. However, this book presents many examples of historical and current events that can be explained much more clearly from an energetic perspective. In addition, a future scenario is developed that gives a central place to EROI in assessing the potential of governmental and private initiatives to substitute so-called renewable energy sources for diminishing stocks of fossil fuels. When cheap fossil fuels are no longer available in the abundance needed to mask economic problems and power business as usual, it will be EROI more than the plethora of “green” technologies that creates the boundary conditions for a sustainable future.

A Prosperous Way Down

Author: Howard T. Odum
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
ISBN: 1607320819
Size: 67.64 MB
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A Prosperous Way Down (2001), the last book by Howard T. and Elisabeth C. Odum, has shaped politics and planning as nations, states, and localities begin the search for ways to adapt to a future with vastly increased competition for energy. A Prosperous Way Down considers ways in which a future with less fossil fuel could be peaceful and prosperous. Although history records the collapse of countless civilizations, some societies and ecosystems have managed to descend in orderly stages, reducing demands and selecting and saving what is most important. The authors make recommendations for a more equitable and cooperative world society, with specific suggestions based on their evaluations of trends in global population, wealth distribution, energy sources, conservation, urban development, capitalism and international trade, information technology, and education. Available for the first time in paperback, this thoughtful, provocative book forces us to confront assumptions about our world 's future and provides both a steadying hand and a call to action with its pragmatic analysis of a global transition.

A User S Guide To The Crisis Of Civilisation

Author: Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Publisher: Pluto Press
ISBN: 9780745330549
Size: 57.82 MB
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It often seems that different crises are competing to devastate civilization. This book argues that financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages need to be considered as part of the same ailing system. Most accounts of our contemporary global crises such as climate change, or the threat of terrorism, focus on one area, or another, to the exclusion of others. Nafeez Ahmed argues that the unwillingness of experts to look outside their specialisations explains why there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding about particular crises. This book attempts to investigate all of these crises, not as isolated events, but as trends and processes that belong to a single global system. We are therefore not dealing with a "clash of civilizations," as Huntington argued. Rather, we are dealing with a fundamental crisis of civilization itself. This book provides a stark warning of the consequences of failing to take a broad view of the problems facing the world.

The Cancer Stage Of Capitalism

Author: John McMurtry
Publisher: Pluto Press
ISBN: 9780745313474
Size: 36.64 MB
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In this bold look at the uncontrolled spread of global capitalism, John McMurtry, professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph, develops his analysis of modern capitalism as a cancer. Its invasive growth, he argues, threatens to break down our society's immune system and--if not soon restrained--could reverse all the progress that has been made toward social equity and stability.John McMurtry traces the causes of this global disorder back to the mutating assumptions of market theory that now govern the world's economy. He diagnoses the malaise as a pathologist would a biological cancer, tracking the delinked circuits of the global system's monetised growth as a carcinogenic disorder at the social level of life-organization. In the wide-lensed tradition of Adam Smith, Marx and Keynes, McMurtry cuts across academic disciplines and boundaries to penetrate the inner logic of the system's problems.Far from pessimistic, he argues that the way out of the global crisis is to be found in an evolving substructure of history which provides a common ground of resolution across ethnic and national divisions.

Scarcity Humanity S Final Chapter

Author: Christopher O. Clugston
Publisher: Booklocker.Com Incorporated
ISBN: 9781621412502
Size: 22.73 MB
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Scarcity is a book about humanity's "predicament" Our persistent utilization of enormous and continuously increasing quantities of finite, non-replenishing, and increasingly scarce nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs) - i.e., the fossil fuels, metals, and nonmetallic minerals that enable our modern industrialized way of life, and that are essential to perpetuating our modern industrialized way of life - is undermining our very existence as a species. Scarcity explores the causes, implications, and imminent consequences associated with humanity's predicament.