- What the Laws of Thermodynamics tell us about Energy
- How those same Laws then apply to the Economy
- Why the science convinces us a "forced economic contraction" is in our future
- What we can choose to do about it
One of my bigger 'learnings' from writing The Crash Course in book form was the deepening of my appreciation for the utter importance of energy to our way of life and to the process of creating (and maintaining) wealth.
I spent time reacquainting myself with the laws of thermodynamics and came away with a far more focused view of the predicament in which we find ourselves.
I know that 'using the term thermodynamics' may sound awfully bookish or geeky, but it's by far the most important concept if one wants to understand the role of energy in our economy and why our economy will almost certainly fail to operate well in a world of declining net energy.
The laws of thermodynamics have never been violated by humans, not even for a millisecond. Just like the law of gravity, they just exist as something we can either pay attention to, or not. Our choice. But they cannot be violated. At least, they haven't yet; so betting on a future where such laws have been repealed by human ingenuity would not be, shall we say, a sound wager.
A problem with the laws of thermodynamics is that they require a little bit of study to understand and they are loaded with wacky jargon which masks some very simple ideas. Gravity is easy – all one has to do to appreciate it is get a few feet off the ground – the farther the better – in order for the reptilian portions of the brain to kick in and take over and make you very, very aware of gravity's potential consequences. Unfortunately, the laws of thermodynamics are less obvious, and we don't have a hard-wired evolutionary pathway that will force awareness upon us. We have to come by an appreciation of the laws intellectually.
The first law simply states that..