This paper entitled Lotka’s wheel and the long arm of history: how does the distant past determine today’s global rate of energy consumption? is in the works by Timothy Garrett, Mathias Grasselli and Stephen Keen.
It seems to reveal a dynamic in which continued waves of growth (especially in technological projects seen as essential for “progress” will begin to starve the corpus of civilization through hyperinflation since the new projects will not be using truly surplus sources of energy, but sources that are essential for maintaining the foundations of civilization.
To me, this seems to be exactly the course our leaders have embarked upon, using energy stocks essential for the metabolic maintenance of civilization to build things like new super-cities, Mars colonies, 5G surveillance states, AI, robotics, etc.
Lotka’a Wheel (Burn more faster.)
“Alfred J. Lotka regarded the “life-struggle” as a competition for available energy. The role in this struggle of any physical system, subject to external constraints, is to maximize the flow of energy through it. Lotka proposed, “The influence of man, as the most successful species in the competitive struggle, seems to have been to accelerate the circulation of matter through the life cycle, both by `enlarging the wheel’, and by causing it to `spin faster’ … the physical quantity in question is of the dimensions of power”. “In every instance considered, natural selection will so operate as to increase the total mass of the organic system, to increase the rate of circulation of matter through the system, and to increase the total energy flux through the system, so long as there is presented an un-utilized residue of matter and available energy” (Lotka, 1922) (our italics).
“It is important to note, however, that zero real, inflation-adjusted production does not forbid nonzero, positive nominal production. If there is a large difference between the nominal and real GDP, it appears in economic accounts as high values of the GDP deflator or as hyperinflation. Interpreted physically, civilization dissipates energy along previously produced networks. Even as current production continues to grow these networks, there is concurrent fraying of those previously constructed that is sufficient to offset any productive gains Garrett (2014).
A metabolic steady state may only represent a temporary marker prior to more complete collapse, thermodynamic as well as economic, given the severe constraints hyperinflation would impose on modern society. Along the pathway of contraction, any external resources that become available to civilization would no longer be sufficient to count as an un-utilized residue available for further growth. Like a patient consumed by cancer, production would be more than offset by consumption – burning the furniture to heat the house, so to speak. Nominal production might remain, but it would be fueled more by internal than external resources. Eventually, civilization would attain a point of complete collapse, whereupon both civilization power and nominal production would equal zero.”
My interpretation is that if they starve the existing system with its eight-billion old-fashioned dissipative humans as they build their “future” using energy essential for the old civilization’s metabolism, they run the risk of collapsing the system entirely. Getting from here to there will involve slowly collapsing what they see as non-essential structures, including people, as their new structures appear.
Most likely they’ll never get the new system up and running before the collapse the old one.
A couple of human RNA work (with plans) and tools to assemble the skeleton of a multi-chambered domestic cell. These two RNA go by the name of “carpenter” based upon the specialized knowledge and tools they employ. The pine boards, from farmed or naturally growing trees, were harvested and finished at a mill and were shipped along the technological circulatory system to arrive where new cellular growth is occurring. Like an organic cell preparing for mitosis, much of what human RNA busy themselves doing is building the next cell to be occupied by RNA like themselves, especially when there is no final and long-lasting functional form to achieve. Unlike molecular RNA, human RNA have special needs which must be met to facilitate their functioning, like running water, waste removal, light, heating/air conditioning and usually an entire chamber or room dedicated to preparing servings of energy or food. There is usually also a dedicated sleeping chamber. The refinement and expansion of this entire way of living has been accomplished through the breaking of hydrocarbon bonds and conversion of released energy into the movement of various technological tools which facilitate gradient consumption, various manufacturing processes and distribution. It is a natural and self-organizing process where dissipative structures successful in entraining an energy flow are rewarded with continued existence.
As these humans are busy being carpenters, it probably hasn’t entered their minds that all of the gradients are finite and that some day growth would stop, their jobs would cease to exist and the technological cells would die or no longer support metabolism. Most all of the RNA failed to recognize this weakness inherent to the rapidly growing technological system. Some, like Dennis Meadows, one of the researchers and writers of “The Limits to Growth”, did recognize the likely outcome but he was mostly given negative reviews. The RNA preferred to believe in “they’ll find something” or “God is in control” because their dopamine delivery systems were pushing them to continue functioning to obtain the rewards necessary for life, a comfortable, well-fed life inside a multi-chambered cell, connected to the whole by an arterial system that penetrated every area that promised resource riches. The technological system continued to consume and grow. Even today, as the banking system struggles to coax more production and consumption into the metabolism, most doubt the likely and unsavory outcome.
Some of the RNA, under the influence of a social brain that evolved partially to categorize human behaviors as being either good or evil, considered themselves moral failures and retreated to their temples and churches to ask for forgiveness and the chance for a new start that they would, from then on, show only the best and most cooperative of behaviors if godly powers would but restore their potential. But little did they realize that it was this nice, cooperative behavior that had figured in the complexity and order necessary to empty the gradients in the first place. No, cooperating and reducing friction between the RNA would not work this time as any well functioning dissipative structure would only make the problem worse. It actually needed a few monkey wrenches thrown into the works to slow the flow of energy (like food plants burning down and pandemic lock-downs). Even a cooperative global society that realized savings by reducing military expenditures would soon eliminate residual gradient energy by other means like increased flights to Bora Bora for extravagant vacations.
There was really only one solution, one which nature would eventually get around to taking herself – the absolute reduction in the number and energy flows through existing dissipative structures. Even the human RNA, being dissipative structures, would have to be reduced in number and if a special project were to be funded, even though ridiculous like “living forever schemes”, “Mission to Mars” and panopticon surveillance projects, enough dissipatives would have to be eliminated to free energy flow for continuance of these projects important to the elites. In a zero-sum environment growth in one area requires sacrifice in others. Even at this early stage of the “Great Reset” it becomes apparent from whom the sacrifices will come and to whom the rewards will flow. Those designated for elimination include business cells not involved in crucial technological projects, internal combustion engines, “useless eater” humans that contribute little to the technological effort and even whole nations can have their energy flow disrupted. Eventually pets will also be eliminated. In the future, if something metabolizes it will serve the goals of the “owners” which will not include the residual population of humans whose American Dream will be replaced with a low-consumption, Metaverse non-life.
It seems that most everything in the universe and we could say the universe itself is about achieving equilibrium or the lowest energy state possible. The universe may be a perturbation in what existed prior to its inflation. In other words, something stirred the ether and created an unsettled condition and it’s now running back towards its equilibrium state. This could be considered entropy or the dissipation of energy. What does a universe that reaches equilibrium look like? It probably doesn’t look like anything as it wouldn’t exist. The things you see in the cosmos, including space, are manifestations of a disruption in equilibrium. All structures and features extant in the universe would be resolved back into a most basic submicroscopic equilibrium or state of rest.
Even this quantum foam model shows features coming into existence and then disappearing seemingly into nothingness. Something probably upset the equilibrium apple cart and this is what happened.
On earth, all matter seems to be trying to achieve the lowest energy state in its local environment, although turbulence from solar insolation keeps things well stirred in the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Gravity and electromagnetic attraction seem to be pulling towards the lowest energy states.
Life is composed of dissipative structures and is powered by the overall entropic flow. Certain wavelengths (mostly around 450 and 650nm) of the sun’s rays interact with Chlorophyll A and Chlorophyll B and other pigments and through a chain of electrochemical reactions produce the sugar glucose. Glucose is taken in by mitochondria in both plants and animals to produce ATP. ATP is the equivalent of gasoline for cars and provides the energy for catalytic reactions and muscle fibers sliding past each other resulting in movement. The plants are eaten and those that eat the plants are eaten as each species becomes a source of energy for others. All throughout its movement in seeking energy and mates, the human will be dumping low energy infrared heat into the environment as electromagnetic waves mostly at around 12,000nm. The energy loss in the step down from 450nm to 12,000nm is enough to grow plant tissues, herbivore tissues and movement, and carnivore movements like hunting for more food to keep all of the molecular balls in the air. The human and other life must eat in order to counteract the constant tendency for the body to achieve its lowest energy state in which molecules become more stable but less able to maintain the structure of the dissipative. Damaged DNA, cross-linked proteins and other damages must be constantly repaired and waste must be removed to maintain the dissipative capacity of the organism.
Can anyone be surprised at the human preoccupation with accumulating wealth (energy) and mating behaviors? Maintaining existence requires a steady flow of energy. Even upon death, many people will attempt to prevent the remains from achieving their lowest energy state through various interventions like preservatives and metal burial boxes. Some will have their name inscribed on the more resilient granite slab so as to avoid disappearing completely. Even religions are an effort to avoid equilibrium. But rest assured, if the structure is not at its lowest energy level, it will be sent there over time by gravity and various chemical reactions. I am quite sure that the wood furniture I possess will eventually be degraded by fire or termites, which will convert energy trapped in atomic bonds into their own structures and waste heat, or I may have to throw the furniture on the fire to stay warm this winter. Whatever the case, it has a ways to go before reaching an equilibrium in the local environment.
Even the structures of the fossil fuel burning, technological civilization will eventually find their final resting places as gravity and the elements work against them.
Someone should save those slate shingles, they’re quite resilient. Without them, this structure would likely have already done a face plant in the yard.
Settled ether can be disturbed by things like generators with magnets creating a temporary disturbance that immediately runs towards equilibrium along the path of least resistance, usually a copper wire. Lightning too is a manifestation of the return to equilibrium when potential becomes to great.
In the end, it’s quite a fight just to keep your atoms from achieving a relatively motionless, sedimentary rest. Humans always lose the fight, but their cells often live on and take new forms like children. Have you hugged your dissipative today?
Dave Lysak mentioned humans “jostling” in the furtherment of their goals a few comments back in the last post, a nervous agitation of human souls and cells seeking fulfillment of their energy requirements. I found this video clip of jostling ruthenium atoms in carbon nanotubes and thought it thermodynamically similar, at a smaller scale, of what humans are up to.
Rhenium atoms in carbon nanotubes.
You can see that the atoms are unsettled, releasing and accepting photons from each other and from what must be an environment turbulent with electromagnetic wave energy. They jostle and jostle, each in competition with the others to reach that position and bonding configuration closest to absolute zero, which might not be very close zero at all, but closer. Waves are incoming from the environment and outgoing and being passed from electron to electron. If they were chilled sufficiently perhaps the Brownian motion would slow and finally stop. No doubt the mechanism that provides the visuals adds heat to the subject and ambient temperature of earth’s biosphere is not free of turbulence thanks to the sun.
But what does this have to do with humans jostling or any organism for that matter? It may seem counterintuitive, but humans are also trying to achieve the lowest energy state. They bounce around the environment motivated by greed and dopamine trying to find a configuration of atoms and molecules to help settle into a lower energy state, to help them reach their most stable configuration where significant amounts of energy has been depleted from their bonded structures and exhausted as heat wave energy. But humans avoid their own equilibrium state, lowest energy level, by helping others achieve theirs, by eating and essentially burning them. In the process they build-up their own complexity and avoid low-energy equilibrium with the environment. Like recharging a battery before it goes dead. In accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics the total energy in bonds that has moved farther away from equilibrium, become more complex, in building the human dissipative structure, is less than the amount of food/bond energy or complexity that was consumed. Some of the food energy lost from the food bonds is exhausted into the local environment and then into space. There can never be one-hundred percent efficiency or conversion of food to dissipative structure. But the entire ecosystem cannot run down to equilibrium as the sun creates electromagnetic turbulence every day to stir the matter, including and especially chlorophyll, which again captures some of the ample energy in bonds, likely later to be released by some other dissipative structure like a caterpillar.
The struggle for existence is the struggle to release energy from other matter that still has the potential to reach a lower energy state. Don’t mind eating the pig, according to the universe it’s not in a optimal state of being. If you eat it, much of the embedded energy will be released and your own structure will be bolstered while a certain proportion finds its way into space. But equally, the human is not in an optimal state either. Nothing that lions and tiger and bears and other humans can’t take care of. The whole biosphere would likely approach its lowest energy state if it weren’t for the sun blasting us daily with wave energy that blows the atoms from their comfortable low-energy states. The complex behaviors of humans and other dissipative structures are no different in essence from atoms jostling to reach the lowest energy state. Humans and other organisms do it at a large scale by eating big chunks of energy rich matter and burning it. The universe thanks you for releasing the heat from the pig, even though you’ve bolstered your own out-of-equilibrium structure.
Squeezing the energy out of fossil fuels is the human’s special project for the universe which has the beneficial side effect of allowing humans to eat much more organic life than would have been possible with the energy derived from their tissues. We can actually eat food that would have traditionally had a negative Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) throughout all of natural history. Fossil fuels have been a nice subsidy while they lasted but have created lots of damage to the coevolved ecosystem. Humans in their rRNA tool-building capacity are desperately trying to come-up with something additional to eat as fossil fuels begin to wane. Even the organic matrix and been stripped bare and has been depleted of nutrients so that even if fossil fuels lasted, the matrix of industrial growth for human food likely would not and fake laboratory meat and meal worms will not make-up for capacities being lost from the natural environment.
A farmer (technological RNA) working a field in Idaho that will likely grow taters. The plants will capture the energy from the sun with chlorophyll and produce some starchy sugars to store in the taters. Humans, knowing that there’s a lower energy state potential for the taters, will dig them up and eat them, maybe at McDonald’s, and release their bond energy back to space while bolstering their own structures. It is often said that there are ten calories of fossil fuel energy spent on every calorie of food produced and eaten. Judging by the diesel eating tractor and the irrigation system along with pesticides, processing and distribution, that might be pretty close. It seems like an impressive economies-of-scale operation though, much more efficient than a backyard gardening effort. If humans were to try to accomplish the same feat, planting by hand, harvesting by hand, picking bugs off the plants and carrying water from the nearest river, I’m sure that in the end they would use more energy than they got from the potatoes. Negative EROEI equals starvation. But at least it would be totally organic.
This is an example of high EROEI living:
And this is an example from Madras, India during the famine of 1877 of negative EROEI living:
Matter is always being moved about on the surface of the earth by energy passing through or staying for a short while before it continues its entropic journey back into space. The incoherent movements like methane seeping from deep sea deposits, tornadoes randomly smashing communities to smithereens and warming oceans killing defenseless coral reefs are a few examples, but it’s not until we consider the coherent flows of energy that we can be both horrified and somewhat entertained by the wicked potential of mother nature.
The incoherent flow of energy pretty much moves through matter randomly, jostling air and water molecules and stirring a bit of surface matter and eventually ending-up as infrared radiation traveling through the medium of space. It has little coherency beyond a variety of common intermolecular interactions. On the other hand, the coherent flows of energy are not allowed to flow willy-nilly as they make their way to “the cool” to borrow from Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan’s book “Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life”. The coherent flows of energy, the ones that define life, are those that are made to flow in a certain direction, non-randomly, usually through a chain of biochemical reactions in a watery medium. It just so happens that the coherency is defined by information or DNA at the cellular level which happens to code for the biomolecules which spend their days passing the energy baton in furtherance of the survival of the system which they comprise. Never a completely efficient operation, the various non-random, biomolecular jostlings stir the watery medium in which they occur and send waves of thermal waste rippling towards the epidermal shore. The result is that structure is built, nervous systems are defined and the coherent flow of energy results in non-random, energy seeking systems or cellular aggregates on a gradient seeking mission. If you have noticed or participated in the human preoccupation with food and investments you might understand to where the coherent flow of energy leads, to an obsessive effort to acquire yet more energy.
In the case of humans the energy flow is said to be equivalent to a 100-watt light bulb. The mission for all of that biomolecular coherency defined over billions of years of evolution is to keep the light bulb lit. This is why humans are constantly competing and killing for energy. It’s not like it’s a matter of free will, there are billions of years of evolving DNA and resulting coherent mixtures and movements of biomolecules to make sure the energy is somehow loaded into the maw, distributed and turned into ATP. This is why humans are so preoccupied with accumulating wealth, worrying daily about their crypto, gold, silver, fiat, real estate and homes, each is trying to assure themselves of a continuous flow of energy into the future. Strangely few have concern for ecosystem, the greatest generator of wealth, without which all human light bulbs go out. Most people seem to think that the health of the technological system or economy in which they function as rRNA is of most importance and can guarantee their own organic cellular well-being. The coherent energy flow, defined by DNA has made sure they pay particular attention to things like the next meal, appearance and copulating to fruition like fruit flies, although human ingenuity has created ways to get the opioids without the progeny, after all, raising progeny RNA, even if handed-off to various schools and institutions, can interfere with the competitive tendencies to advance ones career in the technological system. A new energy flow from fossil fuels has advanced human’s new role as rRNA but the feeding frenzy has temporarily blinded humans to the exceptional importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The new technological tools have enabled a cancerous pillaging of the natural world. It remains to be seen, by someone or something in the future, if the technological system can replace humans with robots that are not dependent on the ecosystems continuance.
One of my grandfathers was primarily old school ecological, didn’t make much money in the technological system, but had eleven children which all survived to become upstanding energy degraders. My other grandfather was more successful in the technological realm, applying tools to the ecosystem to deliver an abundance of energy. He owned warehouses and farm supply business. His three children and farms, stores, warehouses were also all superb energy degraders. From copulator to business operator, the transition from ecosystem entrepreneur defined by coherent energy flow from the ecosystem to technological entrepreneur defined by coherent energy flow from the pool of fossil fuels, has been underway in earnest for at least a couple of centuries.
Eventually it became apparent that the better life could be had by owning and operating within technological cells whose magnificent new tools could make mince meat of the ecosystem and various energy and resource gradients rather than having many technologically unequipped children that would accept meager returns throughout their lives. Today many will decide not have any children at all, an affront to their DNA, but certainly enabling more time to garner rewards for their own dead-end bodies from the technological, cancerous consumption of everything.
And the technology will continue evolving and consuming until it reaches limits. What better way to throw back the limits than by applying technology to eliminate a whole population of inferior, half-baked rRNA whose tendencies lead them to a slower, less technologically adept existence. I suppose you could call them useless eaters, useless to the technological cancer. Little did the technological humans realize that the robotic RNA would soon eliminate them just as their ancestors cancelled the less technological Neanderthals. I found the perfect video clip to describe the current state of mRNA technological evolution (see below).
Those magnificent men with their CRISPR machines. Current state of mRNA technology. Go ahead and get on-board, they’ll work-out the kinks eventually.
The primary goal of coherent energy flow is to intercept energy or market share and grow. The clueless human RNA, freshly minted from the local school system with specialized information and tool using abilities, finds a cell to perform their daily repetitive functions to get their energy and rewards. The owners of the cell will give them a regular energy stipend for performing their tasks. Most haven’t a clue as to what’s going on and spend their lives on the hamster wheel of little success until their worn-out bodies finally succumb to the ravages of time and the eventual realization that things won’t be getting any better. Those that own capital, the cells and machinery of technological production, gladly use the lives of other humans in the productive process and greedily siphon their productivity, but cannot be wholly condemned as they’re guided by a naturally acquired greed.
In the video clip below a line worker just can’t figure out his own dissatisfaction with life, a human RNA doing repetitive motion like their organic, cellular counterpart slapping amino acids together. The stakeholders as Klaus Schwab calls them, appreciate the effort as they congratulate themselves on effective stewardship of the technological enterprise and reward themselves with billions earned by the sweat of forlorn human RNA. For thirty years of this torture you may be granted ownership of a tech cell, if you’re lucky. However, the self-organizing winds are shifting and the fifteen years of “retirement” has been deemed too expensive. The ecological human kept grandma and grandpa around, even though their productivity waned and may even have become negative. It was a sort of “thank you” for all those years of hard work. But the new technological human will see grandma and grandpa become a thing of the past as they are put down lest they deprive the technological system of some fraction of energy flow needed for its continued growth and evolution. Thank you grandma and grandpa, job well done, now die. I’ll be sailing the seas on my 500 million dollar yacht while you molder in the grave. There are different rules for stakeholders and when resource scarcity means the wealth pump that served them well during growth will soon go into reverse, they are eager to make genocidal changes to maintain their disproportionate share of wealth.
Perhaps the most wicked trick of mother nature is to create us to feel for an unfeeling colony of cells. The primitive eyespot of the protist has given way to two ocular organs and brain that serve the needs of the entire system of trillions of cells. The inputs from these “eyespots” and other sense organs pass into a mass of neural tissue sculpted by evolution to achieve competition, cooperation and greed to assure the unfeeling cells accomplish their goals .Whipped by pain and enticed by pleasure, the brain plays us like a puppet. Our main tasks of which we are constantly reminded are to eat, compete, eliminate waste and reproduce. With any spare time we can use curiosity to develop the analog mind which has paid energy dividends in conjunction with other evolutionary adaptations including a hand which can readily bond and fabricate tools, vocal chords which can represent aspects of reality with sound waves and many other changes in the brain related to making sense of and sometimes distorting the many aspects of reality. The concept of death can hardly be avoided by even the dullest mind although we try our hardest, sometimes practicing religious rituals and holding beliefs that banish the prospect. The illusion of self which operates in the analog mind and plans our next move in conjunction with the motor cortex and is given the responsibility of keeping the cellular system safe is panicked by the inescapable prospect of death. Our entire existence is dedicated to the cellular colony and promoting its success and reproduction. For many millions of years we could not see death, the analog mind was not well-developed. But our evolution into technological function with a more elaborate analog mind has outweighed the negatives associated with death salience and the brain has even evolved to cover-up death while still gaining the benefits of technology. The “self” of humans, more developed than in any other organism, operates and plans in an analog mind and fears its own passing as its cellular system eventually and inevitably fails. There is no place for the “self” to be when the analog mind goes poof and the body dissolves back into the environment. It’s somewhat of a dirty trick for evolution to create us to be useful to a collection of unfeeling cells only to abandon and throw us away in the end – job done. That’s what the technological cells intend to do with us too after our usefulness is exhausted. It seems we’re trapped between two sets of cells, organic and technological at quite different scales. The organic cells are telling us to do one thing and the technological cells are trying to control us in other ways. Dealing with the demands of ones own microscopic cells is enough but many have taken to a job identity and seem to thrive in that environment with short breaks for feeding and eliminating wastes.
By the way, my old website died an untimely death as I didn’t pay the bill within forty-five days. I have copies of past posts, but the associated comments have likely dissolved back into the environment forever. Isn’t that the way things go.