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Energy money

An integrated, energy based approach to money systems
(+3, -3)
  [vote for,

We all spend a lot of time harping on about sustainability. But at the end of the day, the predominant pedagogy of our time is the free market. I contend that until the free market takes account of all externalities, it will not be sustainable; and further, a free market can never take account of all externalities.

The second point is based on two assumptions. 1. Free market economics and the profit narrative requires some component of cost to the system to become externalised, and 2. externalising this component allows profit (and waste! but thats another argument) to replace this cost. Based on this logic, if we had a system that took account of all its externalities, there would be no 'profit', as by this definition, 'profit' in one system is just 'loss' to another.

Thankfully our biological world upon which we are so dependant realised this and evolved a completely self sustaining system with no waste. Our prissy human brains are yet to realise this in our ever indulgent rage of greed and material gain.

So if you are still reading, here is the idea: Take one (or eight) massive supercomputers with yet to be evolved monitiring software and input all energy costs of all production systems, to establish energy costs for all products and services everywhere. Rank against sustainable energy targets ie. what the earth can afford to lose, worked out by hundreds of superbrainy scientists locked in a room for three years until they work this one out. Develop a global energy metering system that allocates energy use credits, which caan of course be traded. Allow these enregy use credits to replace money.

For example - our weekly shopping trip can be subject to energy use allowances. We can use our 'credits' to pay for for 'costs' ie. energy costs or producing goods, so if we want free range eggs thats a low energy cost, if we want ice-cream of pacaket food, thats a higher energy cost. So this forces us to shop more sustainably. When we fill up at the station, we use our allocated energy credits to pay for fuel, the unit cost of fuel reflects its cost of production and all externalities associated with its use. When we purchase a car, same again, its the true energy cost we are paying and not the market cost. Want to travel overseas? Fine, but that might use a significant chunk of oyur energy credits to get you over there. Once you're there, if you are backpacking and staying in low energy using hostels, great. But stay in an energy guzzling casino, and it'll cost you more. So its not socialism, we still have freedom of choice in using our credits.

The idea con work the other way to, to maintain the motivating factors of a free market economy. Just that, you get paid for hnow much your job contributes to sustainability of the system. ie., if you work for a petrol company, bad luck. If you work for a solar or wind power company, great! you're loaded! Energy credits can be earnt much the same as money, but because they account for externalities in the production cycle of whatever your job is, they represent their truer value to the system.

So before you all go Adam Smith on me; just consider - free markets are insane because they have no need to be grounded in any biological reality. In fact, all human production is a distortion of biological production and represent the survival needs of one species only.

williamsmatt, Oct 02 2008

is air travel efficient? http://www.sightlin...el_air_travel_aug04
[williamsmatt, Oct 03 2008]

tragedy of commons http://en.wikipedia...gedy_of_the_commons
[williamsmatt, Oct 05 2008]

Mostly similar idea Watt-backed_20money
Watt backed money [Voice, Oct 06 2008]


       //if you work for a petrol company, bad luck//
Well, I can't claim to be a Big Oil fan, but the amount of GHG they put into the atmosphere is nothing compared to the amount that most of the people who buy those petroleum products (currently) do.
FlyingToaster, Oct 03 2008

       Yars. but if you're paying the energy cost of those products, then you're accounting for this environemtal cost as well.
williamsmatt, Oct 03 2008

       Which "you" am I, the oil company or the gas-guzzler owner/operator ?
FlyingToaster, Oct 03 2008

       //most of the people who buy those petroleum products//   

       sorry, should have said 'they're''. not suggesting you're doing the buying!
williamsmatt, Oct 03 2008

       A few points points to begin:   

       //so if we want free range eggs thats a low energy cost//   

       I'd wager that free range eggs come at a significantly higher energy cost than battery eggs, since free range hens waste lots of energy walking around being all happy. That's why battery eggs are so cheap - it's the most energy efficient way to convert chicken feed into human food. Energy efficiency isn't always nice.   

       // So this forces us to shop more sustainably.//   

       I'm no expert, but I believe if the global population switched to a 'sustainable diet' (by which I assume you mean organic and generally Gaia friendly) we'd quickly see a couple of billion people die terrible, terrible deaths during the resulting global fashion for 'having no food' - organic farming, while good for the environment, is frightfully energy inefficient.   

       Idealism is all well and good, but we simply don't have the land to get sufficient crop yields to feed the world in an environmentally friendly way. Look at Mexico, Pakistan and India before Borlaug developed dwarf wheat to see how we fared feeding the world without fiddling around with it for our own benefit.   

       //Want to travel overseas? Fine, but that might use a significant chunk of oyur energy credits to get you over there. Once you're there, if you are backpacking and staying in low energy using hostels, great. But stay in an energy guzzling casino, and it'll cost you more. So its not socialism, we still have freedom of choice in using our credits.//   

       If, as you suggest, these energy credits replaced money then the only people who could afford to travel would be those who produced a massive net benefit to the system - perhaps people who inhaled and survived on CO2 and methane, for instance. Either people earn 'credits' at a level the market dictates - the system we employ today, for better or worse - or everyone earns the same number of credits regardless of contribution, in which case there wouldn't be enough credits to go around to allow anyone the massive energy cost of an overseas flight, even if they slept on the streets when they got there. A single long haul flight can pretty much wipe out the environmental benefit of a lifetime of recycling.   

       However, [+] for the concept, since our best hope is to keep people thinking about ways to make the world a better place.
sambwiches, Oct 03 2008

       thanks [sanbmwiches]. free range eggs have less energy cost - all that is required is a chicken and egg (whichever comes first) and some grass, with manual egg collection. battery hens require manufacture of the factory and automation of all the egg collection systems. your comment regarding land use is correct; free range would take up more space. the sustainable shopping comment is not intended to encourage people to eat lentils, rather, forcing them to pay the energy cost of the food. this means less processed food (the fact it is healthier being incidental to this idea) has a lower energy cost than higher processed food. frankly i couldn't care what peolpe stuff their faces with, but when you have a system where the food that is worst for you (maccas for eg) is cheaper than a raw, unproicessed food, yeh you do have to start to wonder.   

       regarding overseas flights, i am not talking about a 'zero' effect system, I am basing the idea on the premise that there is a level of sustainable consumption and waste the earth system can absorb, ie there is an amount of air travel that can be accommodated within reasonable energy use limits, so there is a reasonable amount of air travel that individuals can undertake. also because air travel is collectivised it is relatively energy efficient, being about the same as a medium car. refer link.
williamsmatt, Oct 03 2008

       //free range eggs have less energy cost - all that is required is a chicken and egg (whichever comes first) and some grass, with manual egg collection.//   

       If you want laying hens you'll need a little more than just grass. They'll eat pretty much anything, the greedy buggers, but the bulk of their diet comes from pellets or mash - they need a rounded diet to lay healthy eggs, and grass (and bugs) isn't enough. I see what you mean though :)
sambwiches, Oct 03 2008

       What you really want is food scraps in addition to the bugs and grass.   

       Then you are conserving energy by using "trash" in a productive way, with less energy expended in the manufacture and transport of pellets.   

       If you are to be successful in this new economy, the chicken poos will be collected to fertilize your or a neighbor's plants. Maybe you will find a method of disinfecting their feathers for some cushions. They will make broth/stew meat when they are no longer productive.   

       And, you will find, much to your chagrin, that this energy- efficient economy is guiding you towards a simpler, well- baked way of life of generations past. And that you are rather exhausted for having used less petroleum and more of your own energy.
ryokan, Oct 03 2008

       Energy use is not the problem. Greenhouse gas emissions are the problem. You're aiming at the wrong target
BunsenHoneydew, Oct 05 2008

       [buns honey dew] actually it is the effect of free market pricing i am aiming at and its lack of accountability to environmental criteria. for a start read 'tragedy of the commons' as per link. PS. why are we talking about chickens?
williamsmatt, Oct 05 2008

       soooo... basically you just want the end-user to get hit with a cumulative "ghg tax"... difficult to set up but I like. I think the hardest part would be to make sure the taxing agency spends the money directly on taking carbon out of the atmosphere rather than a bloat-supporting slush fund.
FlyingToaster, Oct 05 2008

       Energy-based money is inherently the most effecient possible economy. It will, however, do nothing to improve the ecology or save mother earth except by making people use the highest density energy available: Nuclear. Reality is, by building enough nuclear power plants we can make the deserts bloom, feed the hungry, manufacture plastic for products, scrub the atmosphere of CO2 and, in general, create utopia.
Voice, Oct 06 2008

       hey [voice], nice to know someone is thinking this way also. but nuclear power plants? how can we be so similar and yet sooooooo different?
williamsmatt, Oct 06 2008

       If you look at the real numbers, a watt generated with nuclear power creates much, much less pollution of any type including radiation than a watt generated with coal. Coal plants put uranium dust into the air besides all the other nasty stuff they do. A year of coal power today does more damage than every nuclear accident ever, including most of the nuclear bomb tests.
Voice, Oct 06 2008

       Interesting, Voice. Can you substantiate that?   

       By the way, Free-range eggs definitely consume less electricity.
Ling, Oct 06 2008

       Am I missing something? Isn't energy use how prices are figured now? When I buy an egg, I am paying for the cost of feed, housing, upkeep, etc. for chickens then cost of delivery and storage, etc. All of these costs with the exception of salaries are all energy based. Are you trying to include paying for results of that energy, ie carbon credits? When I fly the cost of the flight is mostly based directly on the price of the fuel and indirectly on the energy used to create the parts ie electricity to create the aluminum.
MisterQED, Oct 06 2008

       Certainly, Ling. I would be happy to write the required 350 page thesis. There is the slight matter of a grant...
Voice, Oct 06 2008

       Grant? Would he be your advisor?
Ling, Oct 07 2008


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