Part of a post by John Quiggin, at Crooked Timber (a blog I usually consider of high quality!)
“Energy is important, but it is no more ‘essential’ or ‘special’ than many other goods and services in a modern economy. If the supply is reduced, the market will respond to bring demand into line, especially if this response is facilitated by sensible government policy.”
I’m struggling to find a suitable over-the-top analogy. Let’s go with: “Things made out of ‘atoms’ are important, but they are no more ‘essential’ or ‘special’ than all the other things not made of atoms in a modern economy.”
Seriously, this is one of those things that make me wonder–am I fundamentally stupid or insane? Because this seems so fantastically wrong-headed that it boggles my mind that someone thoughtful could say it in all seriousness. Seriously–either Quiggin or I have Failed Physics Forever. I mean, the market fetishism here is almost totally forgivable in the face of what is a major misunderstanding of How Anything Works by either JQ or I.
Energy–part of the basis of fundamental physical laws? Entropy? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Pertinent reading list (just to get you started):
- Tainter, J. 1988. The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge: Cambride University Press.
- Daly, H.E. and J. Farley. 2011. Ecological Economics: Principles and applications (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
- Norgaard, R. 2010. Ecosystem services: From eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder. Ecological Economics 69(6): 1219-1227.
- Wikipedia, “Energy Economics“
- Ecological Sociology [blog], “Integrating economic gain in biosocial systems“
Tainter (whom I don’t totally agree with on several points, mostly to do with the possibility of “solving” the problems he points out) has an excellent lecture available on youtube.
(And if you’re curious about solving the pressing environmental problems of our times, why not check out The Solutions Journal?)