Thanks to Apneaman for bringing my attention to a new blog by Tim Garrett.
Garrett is the most important and least recognized physicist in the world, having explained and quantified the relationship between energy consumption and economic wealth. You can find other work by Garrett that I’ve posted here.
This most recent essay provides a nice overview of Garrett’s theory and its implications.
Because the Gross World Product (GWP) exists, we grow, and then use our growth to access more energy which we can then consume with the higher infrastructure demands. The relevant equation is that every 1000 dollars of year 2005 inflation-adjusted gross world product requires 7.1 additional Watts of power capacity to be added, independent of the year that is considered.
Right now, energy consumption is continuing to grow rapidly, sustaining an ever larger GWP. But it is not the rate of energy consumption that supports the GWP, but the rate of growth of energy consumption that supports the GWP.
This important distinction is flat out frightening. The implication is that if we cease to grow energy and raw material consumption globally, then the global economy must collapse. But if don’t cease to grow energy consumption and raw material consumption then we still collapse due to climate change and environmental destruction. Is there no way out?