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How Much Energy Do We Need?


Because energy fuels both human development and environmental damage, policies that encourage energy demand reduction can run counter to policies for alleviating poverty, and the other way around. Achieving both objectives can only happen if energy use is spread more equally across societies.

However, while it’s widely acknowledged that part of the global population is living in ‘energy poverty’, there’s little attention given to the opposite condition, namely ‘energy excess’ or ‘energy decadence’. Researchers have calculated minimum levels of energy use needed to live a decent life, but what about maximum levels?

Image: Azuri Technologies.

Energy Use Per Capita

Humanity needs to reduce its energy use radically if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, the exhaustion of non-renewable resources, and the destruction of the natural environment upon which our survival depends. [1] Targets for reductions in carbon emissions and energy use are usually framed in terms of national and international percentage reductions, but the energy use per head of the human population varies enormously between and within countries, no matter how it is calculated. [2]

If we divide total primary energy use per country by population, we see that the average North American uses more than twice the energy of the average European (6,881 kgoe versus 3,207 kgoe, meaning kg of oil equivalent). Within Europe, the average Norwegian (5,818 kgoe) uses almost three times more energy than the average Greek (2,182 kgoe). The latter uses three to five times more energy than the average Angolan (545 kgoe), Cambodian (417 kgoe) or Nicaraguan (609 kgoe), who uses two to three times the energy of the average Bangladeshi (222 kgoe). [3]

These figures include not only the energy used directly in households, but also energy used in transportation, manufacturing, power production and other sectors. Such a calculation makes more sense than looking at household energy consumption alone, because people consume much more energy outside their homes, for example through the products that they buy. [4]

Average energy use per capita 2014 LTM

Such a ‘production-based’ calculation is not perfect, because countries with high energy use per capita often import a lot of manufactured goods from countries with lower energy use per capita. The energy used in the production of these goods is attributed to the exporting countries – meaning that the energy use per capita in the most ‘developed’ countries is an underestimation.

Finding out about the distribution of energy use within countries requires data with higher spatial resolution. For example, an analysis of variations in household energy consumption (electricity + gas) and energy use in private transportation in the UK shows that the average energy use per capita can differ fivefold depending on the area. [2] Taking into account both differences between and within countries, as well as the outsourcing of manufacturing (a ‘consumption-based’ calculation), the highest energy users worldwide can contribute 1,000 times as much carbon emissions as the lowest energy users. [5]

Inequality not only concerns the quantity of energy, but also its quality. People in industrialised countries have access to a reliable, clean and (seemingly) endless supply of electricity and gas. On the other hand, two in every five people worldwide (3 billion people) rely on wood, charcoal or animal waste to cook their food, and 1.5 billion of them don’t have electric lighting. [6] These fuels cause indoor air pollution, and can be time- and labour-intensive to obtain. If modern fuels are available in these countries, they’re often expensive and/or less reliable.

Beyond Energy Poverty: Energy Decadence

It’s now widely acknowledged that these 3 billion people in the developing world are living in ‘energy poverty’. [7][8] In 2011, the United Nations and the World Bank launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, which aims to “ensure universal access to modern energy services” by 2030. Energy poverty has also gained attention in developed countries, where it is mainly focused on inadequate space heating. A 2015 study found that up to 54 million Europeans are not able to adequately heat their homes in winter. [9] The European Commission launched the Energy Poverty Observatory in 2017, which will conduct research and provide guidelines to national governments for setting up measures to address fuel poverty. [8]

However, while it’s recognised that part of the global population is using not enough energy, there is not the same discussion of people who are using too much energy. [2] [10] [11] Nevertheless, solving the tension between demand reduction and energy poverty can only happen if those who use ‘too much’ reduce their energy use. Bringing the rest of the world up to the living standards and energy use of rich countries – the implicit aim of ‘human development’ – would solve the problem of inequality, but it’s not compatible with the environmental problems we face.

Masai mobile phone

Image: The Panos Network.

Based on the figures given above, if every human on Earth would use as much energy as the average Western European or North American, total world energy use and carbon emissions would be at least two to four times higher than they are today. This is an underestimation, because to achieve the same living standards developing countries first need to build an infrastructure – roads, electricity grids, etcetera – to make this possible, which also requires a lot of energy. [12]

Consequently, whilst much work has been done around fuel poverty, there is a parallel debate to be had about ‘energy decadence’ or ‘energy excess’. [2] The quest for ‘energy sufficiency’ – a level of energy use that is both fair and sustainable – should involve not only ‘floors’ (enough for a necessary purpose) but also ‘ceilings’ (too much for safety and welfare, in the short or long term). [13] Otherwise, we would be mortgaging the health of future generations to realise development gains in the present. [14]

Calculating Floors and Ceilings

How do we define energy decadence? How much is ‘too much’ energy use? To a large extent, we can build upon decades of research into energy poverty, which has measured the components of a minimum acceptable standard of living. [14] For example, the Millenium Project of the UN Development Program establishes a minimum level of 500 kgoe per person per year – an amount of energy that is almost four times below the world average. [15]

Some researchers have addressed energy decadence in a similar way, calculating a maximum acceptable standard of living. For example, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology proposed the 2,000 watt society, which implies a worldwide energy use per capita of per 1,500 kgoe per year, while the Global Commons Institute’s Contraction and Convergence proposal limits energy use to 1,255 kgoe per person per year. [10][13][16] These levels of energy use per capita correspond to a reduction of 20-35% below the world average today.

How much energy do we need

Because energy poverty research only investigates ‘floors’ and not ‘ceilings’ of energy use, minimum energy levels are calculated from the bottom-up. Researchers investigate how much energy is required to live a decent life, based on a set of goods and services that are considered essential.

On the other hand, maximum energy levels – above which energy use is considered to be excessive and unsustainable – are calculated from the top down. Researchers determine a ‘safe’ level of global energy use based on some indicator of the carrying capacity of the planet – such as a level of carbon emissions that is thought to keep global warming within certain limits – and divide it by the world population.

Between the upper boundary set by the carrying capacity of the planet, and a lower boundary set by decent levels of wellbeing for all lies a band of sustainable energy use, situated somewhere between energy poverty and energy decadence. [14] These boundaries not only imply that the rich lower their energy use, but also that the poor don’t increase their energy use too much. However, there is no guarantee that the maximum levels are in fact higher than the minimum levels.

When a minimum level of energy use is calculated from the bottom-up, it remains to be seen if this level can be maintained without destroying the environment. On the other hand, if a maximum level of energy use per capita is calculated from the top down, it remains to be seen if this ‘safe’ level of energy use is sufficient to live a decent life. If the ‘floor’ is higher than the ‘ceiling’, the conclusion would be that sustainable wellbeing for all is simply impossible.

To make matters worse, defining minimum and maximum levels is fraught with difficulty. On the one hand, when calculating from the top down, there’s no agreement about the carrying capacity of the planet, whether it concerns a safe concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, the remaining fossil fuel reserves, the measurements of ecological damage, or the impact of renewable energy, advances in energy efficiency, and population growth. On the other hand, for those taking a bottom-up approach, defining what constitutes a ‘decent’ life is just as debatable.

Needs and Wants

The minimum and maximum levels of energy use mentioned above are meant to be universal: every world citizen is entitled to the same amount of energy. However, although distributing energy use equally across the global population may sound fair, in fact the opposite is true. The amount of energy that people ‘need’ is not only up to them. It also depends on the climate (people living in cold climates will require more energy for heating than those living in warm climates), the culture (the use of air conditioning in the US versus the siesta in Southern Europe), and the infrastructure (cities that lack public transport and cycling facilities force people into cars).

Differences in energy efficiency can also have a significant impact on the “need” for energy. For example, a traditional three-stone cooking fire is less energy efficient than a modern gas cooking stove, meaning that the use of the latter requires less energy to cook a similar meal. It’s not only the appliances that determine how much energy is needed, but also the infrastructure: if electricity production and transmission have relatively poor efficiency, people need more primary energy, even if they use the same amount of electricity at home.

And then there was light

Image: Off-Grid Electric.

To account for all these differences, most researchers approach the diagnosis of energy poverty by focusing on ‘energy services’, not on a particular level of energy use. [17] People do not demand energy or fuel per se – what they need are the services that energy provides. For example, when it comes to lighting, people do not need a particular amount of energy but an adequate level of light depending on what they are doing.

An example of this service-based approach is NGO Practical Action’s Total Energy Access (TEA) indicator, which was launched in 2010. [17][18] The TEA measures households in developing countries against prescribed minimum services standards for lighting, cooking and water heating, space heating, space and food cooling, and information and communication services. For example, the minimum level for lighting in households is 300 lumens, and Practical Action provides similar standards for other energy services, not only in households but also in work environments and community buildings.

Some energy poverty indicators go one step further still. They don’t specify energy services, but basic human needs or capabilities (depending on the theory). In these modes, basic needs or capabilities are considered to be universal, but the means to achieve them are considered geographically and culturally specific. [10] [17] The focus of these needs-based indicators is on measuring the conditions of human well-being, rather than on specifying the requirements for achieving these outcomes. [19] Examples of human basic needs are clean water and nutrition, shelter, thermal comfort, a non-threatening environment, significant relationships, education and healthcare.

Basic needs are considered to be universal, objective, non-substitutable (for example, insufficient food intake cannot be solved by increasing dwelling space, or the other way around), cross-generational (the basic needs of future generations of humans will be the same as those of present generations), and satiable (the contribution of water, calories, or dwelling space to basic needs can be satiated). This means that thresholds can be conceived where serious harm is avoided. ‘Needs’ can be distinguished from ‘wants’, which are subjective, evolving over time, individual, substitutable and insatiable. Focusing on basic needs in this way makes it possible to distinguish between ‘necessities’ and ‘luxuries’, and to argue that human needs, present and future, trump present and future ‘wants’. [14][17]

Change over Time: Increasing Dependency on Energy

Focusing on energy services or basic needs can help to specify maximum levels of energy use. Instead of defining minimum energy service levels (such as 300 lumens of light per household), we could define maximum energy services levels (say 2,000 lumens of light per household). These energy service levels could then be combined to calculate maximum energy use levels per capita or household. However, these would be valid only in specific geographical and cultural contexts, such as countries, cities, or neighbourhoods – and not universally applicable. Likewise, we could define basic needs and then calculate the energy that is required to meet them in a specific context.

However, the focus on energy services or basic needs also reveals a fundamental problem. If the goods and services necessary for a decent life free from poverty are seen not as universally applicable, but as relative to the prevailing standards and customs of a particular society, it becomes clear that such standards evolve over time as technology and customary ways of life change. [11] Change over time, especially since the twentieth century, reveals an escalation in conventions and standards that result in increasing energy consumption. The ‘need satisfiers’ have become more and more energy-intensive, which has made meeting basic needs as problematic as fulfilling ‘wants’.

Average energy use per capita historical and compared with sufficiencyEnergy poverty research in industrial countries shows that the minimum energy level required to meet basic needs is constantly on the rise. [11][20][21] What is sufficient today is not necessarily sufficient tomorrow. For example, several consumer goods which did not exist in the 1980s, such as mobile phones, personal computers, and internet access, were seen as absolute necessities by 40-41% of the UK public in 2012. [20]

Other technologies that are now considered to be minimal requirements have gone through a similar evolution. For example, central heating and daily hot showers are only a few decades old, but these technologies are now considered to be an essential need by a majority of people in industrialised countries. [22]

In fact, these days in the industrial world, even the energy poor are living above the carrying capacity of the planet. For example, if the entire UK population were to live according to the minimum energy budget that has been determined in workshops with members of the public, then (consumption-based) emissions per capita would only decrease from 11.8 to 7.3 tonnes per person, while the UN Development Program’s target to limit the increase in average world temperature is less than two tonnes of carbon per person per year. [14] In short, the ‘floor’ is three times higher than the ‘ceiling’.

Challenging Needs and Wants

“By equating what is ‘required’ with what is ‘normal’”, write UK energy poverty researchers, “we actively support escalating expectations of need, which runs counter to objectives like those of reducing energy demand… To achieve demand reduction entails challenging embedded norms rather than following them.” [11] In other words, we can only solve energy poverty and energy decadence if we manage to decouple human need satisfaction from energy intensive ‘need satisfiers’. [21]

One way to do that is by increasing energy efficiency. In a 1985 paper called Basic needs and much more with one kilowatt per capita, researchers argue that the amount of energy needed to avoid energy poverty will decline thanks to continuing improvements in energy efficiency – from 750 kgoe per capita per year in 1985 to only 570 kgoe in 2030. [23]

In reality, this is not what is happening, because efficiency gains are continually matched by more energy-intensive ways of life. However, if this trend could be halted or even reversed, advances in energy efficiency would allow us to live increasingly low energy lives. For example, to produce the 300 lumens that Practical Action considers the minimum level for lighting, a LED-light requires six times less electricity than an incandescent light bulb.

How much energy do we need

Image: Huang Qinjun.

More importantly, basic needs can be met with different means, and the relative necessity of some energy services could and should be questioned. This approach can be labeled ‘sufficiency’. Energy services could be reduced (smaller TVs or lighter and slower cars, or less TV watching and car driving) or replaced by less energy-intensive ones (using a bicycle instead of a car, buying more fresh instead of frozen food, playing boardgames instead of watching television).

Substitution can also involve community services. In principle, public service delivery could bring economies of scale and thus reduce the energy involved in providing many household services: public transport, public bathing houses, community kitchens, laundrettes, libraries, internet cafés, public telephone boxes, and home delivery services are just some examples. [24] [25]

Combining sufficiency with efficiency measures, German researchers calculated that the typical electricity use of a two-person household could be lowered by 75%, without reverting to drastic lifestyle changes such as washing clothes by hand or generating power with excercise machines. [25] Although this only concerns a part of total energy demand, reducing electricity use in the household also leads to reductions in energy use for manufacturing and transportation.

If we assume that similar reductions are possible in other domains, then the German households considered here could do with roughly 800 kgoe per capita per year, four times below the average energy use per head in Europe. This suggests that a modern life is compatible with much lower energy demand, at least when we assume that a reduction of 75% in energy use would be enough to stay within the carrying capacity of the planet.

Low-tech Magazine

18 Comments on "How Much Energy Do We Need?"

  1. Norman Pagett on Mon, 29th Jan 2018 4:15 pm 

    I would hazard a guess, that if the author of this piece a daydreaming fantasy needed medical intervention for some disease or other medical problem, he would head for the nearest hospital and take advantage of its ”high tech” facilities.

    it may also be that he gets water from a tap, flushes his lavatory cooks food by remotely generated heat, and switches lights on and off at will (if not, please accept my apologies)
    to sum up this flight of daydreaming fantasy as concisely as possible—– what this article proposes is universal control of energy usage

    Or to use another word—Rationing

    Quote from above///////Substitution can also involve community services. In principle, public service delivery could bring economies of scale and thus reduce the energy involved in providing many household services: public transport, public bathing houses, community kitchens, laundrettes, libraries, internet cafés, public telephone boxes, and home delivery services are just some examples. ////

    I would remind the author that some of the above were common less than 100 years ago—public bath houses for instance—- community kitchens were the norm in the middle ages. Laundrettes were stones in the river—etc etc

    Are you REALLy advocating the removal of private kitchens and bathrooms?
    Are you REALLY advocating a ban on private vehicles and allowing only the use of bicycles. (or feet))

    Just what kind of North Korean dreamworld is this.??

    No doubt TV use would be drastically reduced by putting out only programmes that advocated the above—24/7—hence no viewers

    We have locked ourselves into a complex industrial society, and (wrongly I admit) demand that it goes on into infinity—it wont of course, any thinker is aware of that.

    Check Capetown right now. They are running out of water—that eventually will mean introducing public kitchen and bath houses—but by force of circumstance, not voluntary choices. Their problem is climate change, yet the denial of it is endemic

    Quote again—–///efficiency gains are continually matched by more energy-intensive ways of life.///–sorry, but Jevons law seems immutable

    We want our civilisation to run on indefinitely, and as we’ve fixed it, Civilisation exists by ===

    converting explosive force into rotary motion—read that again because it says all that we are, summed up in six words.
    The author advocates stopping that rotary motion (except for a priveleged few no doubt.

    I wish him well—control demands controllers–they are invariably unpleasant people (show me one that isn’t)

    Yes we are burning far too much energy. Stopping that burning will not be in the way the author suggests

    nevertheless it WILL stop—and it will be unpleasant for all concerned.
    this might be said to be our destiny…I hope I’m wrong–but it seems to me than in the last 200 years humankind has succeeded in burning the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in a single flash of light and heat–possibly the supernova of humankind, when looked at in the perspective of geological time

  2. Davy on Mon, 29th Jan 2018 5:02 pm 

    Let’s face it behavioral changes are the key. Demand management to include intermittency, seasonality, and localism can do more than any technical advancements. Non-tech low cost efficiency strategies should be maximized.

    Bad behavior has to be dealt with. Promote real green living. How many showers do you really need? Many behaviors can change just by changing the social narrative. People are habituated and conditioned so change the customs by putting demand management and real green into that equation.

    The free part of markets and political systems must be limited in regards to discretionary wants. A value must be put on resilience and sustainability. Rewards should be given for demand management behavior. Governments should fund the movement of people to low energy footprint living. Pay people to be like Amish. You pay them by making the infrastructure available and they pay it down by living and working. They can always leave that arrangement but then they give up the farm.

    Population policy must be part of the mix too. I am not sure if we can ever crack that egg but let’s at least mark that one up as a vital problem. This is not the case today with economist and religious leadership. Greatly reduce the movement of people because you can’t make gains then have those gains watered down by people seeking a better life. Bad behaviors require consequences not get out of jail free cards.

    This is about more control there is no way around it. We
    have to control behaviors and it can’t just be through markets. The basic social narrative must change from freedom choice to choices with controls. This may never work because it smacks of communism. Yet, the discussion has to explore what will work. If we don’t think we can do it fine but let’s be honest that what we are doing is not working.

  3. Mitchell Covell on Mon, 29th Jan 2018 11:29 pm 

    An excellent comment Davy – my opinion.
    Perhaps Norman is correct regarding our collective inability to reduce consumption now so that our children may be spared the worst consequences of continued unsustainable consumption. However, I believe that you are correct in that if do not at least try to get the citizens of wealthy nations to understand the long term consequences of their excessive consumption, then there is no hope.
    Perhaps this effort is futile, but what else can we do but try?

  4. pointer on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 9:16 am 


    (1) Nothing ad hominem intended.

    (2) My experience with behavioral changes is disappointing. I have trouble changing my own behavior. We are embedded in a culture that in some ways requires us to behave contrary to the well-being of future generations.

    (3) My attempts to engage people in discussing and thinking about behavior change usually quickly encounters a change in conversation topic — including with those who are well-educated, and can spew a litany of blame on those they see as responsible for damaging the livability of the planet — though, oddly, they usually don’t list themselves. Another problem is that they attempt to educate me with what they “know”, which is usually some superficial (or even incorrect) things they’ve heard or seen in the mainstream media. Virtually none of these people ever visit 🙂

    (3a) Sometimes I suspect my motives for engaging people in such conversations, or for educating/correcting people. Points below may make this clearer.

    (4) Agreed, economic incentives are necessary. They work. But then you say we should not rely on markets? Not sure where you come down.

    (5) Population policy is dicey. Are we going to legislate “one child per family”? The best deterrent to having lots of kids happens to be the money grubbers who prey on parents’ obsession with the preciousness of their children, thereby making the raising of a child obscenely expensive. Universities probably lead the pack, although there are a lot of other types of such money grubbers (only the best pre-school for Susie, or she will be damaged for life, or you must sign up Johnny for the lacrosse training for 5-year-olds or he won’t have a chance of getting into an Ivy League school). It’s pretty clear to me that the reason 2.x children per family is the standard in most parts of the world these days is the cost per child. One benefit of living in one of the poor parts of the world is that the money grubbers do not bother these people.

    (6) What specific population problem are you addressing? There are 7+B humans, and we’re pretty much locked into 11B by mid-century, even if those parts of Africa that have high fertility were to be miraculously convinced to join pretty much the rest of the world with 2.x children per family.

    (6a) To tip my hand, the population issue I think is more important is energy consumption intensity. A US human consumes 35x the energy of someone from Bangladesh, and maybe more. Thus is seems like we could make progress toward sanity if Americans and Bangladeshis each were both something like, say, 15 current Bangladeshis, and not any more. Conservation, merely like building and renovating according to the Passive House standard, would go a long way toward this goal.

    (7) Last, but perhaps the most important: until we *resolve* what motivates humans to behave as they do, they will continue to behave they way they currently do. Control will not work. Humans always find a way in the long run to defeat whomever or whatever attempts to control them.

    We are on a merry-go-round and need to get off. Most of us do not even know we are on a merry-go-round, however. Meditate for some time on why humans behave the way they do — in particular why you behave the way you do, since it is only with yourself can you gather some direct internal observations. I can’t say it is an easy process, but it is worthwhile. Read the writings of those who have had brilliant insights into the inner workings of humans to help you find your way.


  5. Jef on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 10:00 am 

    How much energy do we need?

    ALL OF IT!

  6. Norman Pagett on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 11:02 am 

    i agree we must try to do something

    but i had to take issue with the idea that we would voluntarily elect to use public kitchens and bath house—it might come to that but not without a great deal of suffering.

    capetown right now is headed in that direction if their water situation doesnt improve

    3.5m people use a lot of water and create a lot of waste—all our water needs energy to keep it flowing

  7. GregT on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 11:03 am 

    “Last, but perhaps the most important: until we *resolve* what motivates humans to behave as they do, they will continue to behave they way they currently do. Control will not work. Humans always find a way in the long run to defeat whomever or whatever attempts to control them.”

    Humans are just like any other living species, in that as long as there is excess energy available, their numbers will continue to grow. When energy availability becomes problematic, the human species will die off.

    In the long run, nature is in control, and there isn’t a damn thing that the humans can do to change that.

  8. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 12:00 pm 


    What about your God head and Jebus?

  9. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 12:00 pm 

    My view on the climate change issue is that it is irrelevant. Once we are in a full blown oil/energy crisis, with people unable to drive to work, school buses unable to run, farm tractors running out of fuel to grow our food, we’ll be existing in such a state of chaos and confusion that we won’t give a damn about the weather/climate – we’ll instead be focused on one thing and one thing only – where’s my food! If we are sitting in a freezing home with the heat unavailable and water turned off because the pipes are busting, we’ll be out and about in our immediate vicinity’s foraging for firewood. We won’t be worried anymore in the least about theoretical climate change.

  10. Davy on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 12:08 pm 

    Great comment Pointer
    “My experience with behavioral changes is disappointing.”
    I agree and it is likely not until a crisis that changes can be made and at that point it may be too late. Real changes take years to soak into the cultural fabric. My point is behavior is the key and technology secondary. I am not optimistic for behaviors and the technology is not enough without adapted behavior so as you see failure is likely.

    “Another problem is that they attempt to educate me with what they “know”, which is usually some superficial (or even incorrect) things they’ve heard or seen in the mainstream media.”
    This topic is outside of normal conversation. Who would even consider radical changes to behavior as a solution to our energy issues? What the solution is today is more of the same but more efficient and with better tech. Behavior is not even considered. Market and price will take care of behavior is the default. There are far too many experts who think they are experts making the task of changing behavior maddening. It would take real authority to enforce change because we have a multiplicity of views today. Everyone has the answer and everyone is blaming someone.

    “Sometimes I suspect my motives for engaging people in such conversations, or for educating/correcting people. Points below may make this clearer.”
    Yeap, I think I know it all too. But at least we are debating and not afraid to call out bad ideas.

    “But then you say we should not rely on markets? Not sure where you come down.”
    Well markets may be all that there is in our globalized world of competitive cooperation grounded in market based capitalism and defended by liberal democracy. My point is authority is needed to make uncomfortable choices and today people bristle at that thought. Free markets allowing extreme discretionary choice must be limited to choice within controlled markets. I am not saying we need to completely leave markets out of the equation but what we are doing today is obviously not working. Too many loopholes and too much focus on profit over value. When I say value I am saying it in a systematic way. Value as in enhancing civilization and its commons.

    “Population policy is dicey.”
    I would only make it known and acknowledged that population is a problem. This may influence the debate and make the debate more urgent if it is accepted population is dangerous too high. Currently many economist and religious people are arguing for more population. Like climate change we need to accept the science that we are in overshoot and dangerously exposed to life support system failures. We need to put a stop to any talk of more population is good. Maybe we could at least give people a guilt trip to lower reproduction. I doubt anything will ever be done with population until it is too late and it is likely already too late.

    “To tip my hand, the population issue I think is more important is energy consumption intensity”
    They are both vital issues and both difficult to change. Degrowthing overconsumption has consequences. Our global system gets very unstable in a deflationary environment. Degrowth is deflationary. Even population reductions are deflationary. It may not be possible to do either in a world like we have today. The answer then is a mad dash to get as much as we can through the markets and other exploitive means until it’s gone. Sounds like yeast in a petri dish strategy. My opinion is if we did decide to degrowth we better do it with the understanding the global economy will never be the same and we will end up in a different world. Most people are not ready for that.

    “Last, but perhaps the most important: until we *resolve* what motivates humans to behave as they do, they will continue to behave they way they currently do. Control will not work. Humans always find a way in the long run to defeat whomever or whatever attempts to control them.”
    I agree and the reason I say we likely will not succeed very long with what we are doing.

  11. pointer on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 12:12 pm 

    “where’s my food”

    Per survivalists: The things you need, in order of importance:

    + oxygen (without it, you die in minutes),

    + [medication (if you have some acute issue that will cause you to die in minutes or hours without the meds)],

    + shelter (without it, you die in hours),

    + water (without it, you die in days),

    + food (without it, you die in weeks).

    With a reliable supply of all these, you can survive indefinitely. If you are sitting in a freezing home with no water, but with lots of food, you will still die in short order.

    Of course, one could add to this list to address issues of environmental toxins, radiation, etc.

    It is nice to see you don’t need many of the things we westerners consider “necessities”.

  12. GregT on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 12:36 pm 

    “Per survivalists: The things you need, in order of importance:”

    #1: A healthy natural environment.

    Without which:

    No oxygen

    No water

    No food

    No survival

  13. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 1:04 pm 


    Shut the fuck up about your green nonsense! Nobody gives a shit! Humans are pigs and will trash the planet until they die off! End of story!

  14. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 1:06 pm 


    With another world salad of the day! jesus christ your mind is collapsing faster the the world economy! I hope you don’t pull a Michael Ruppert!

  15. Cloggie on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 1:08 pm 

    How Much Energy Do We Need?

    I love riding my hobby horse: Croatia!

    As I have reported before, I visited that country in the summer of 2016 and was pleasantly surprised. It was a bit like in Holland in the 60s. There were no big supermarkets, the roads were rather empty, I didn’t see beggars, people were generally friendly and relaxed. The pace of life is slow.

    Energy budget: 1913 kgoe

    According to the graph that is slightly less than what Germany had… in 1960 (graph above).

    Zadar in the summer:



    GDP: $26k/capita PPP, $14k/capita nominal

  16. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 30th Jan 2018 1:18 pm 

    Harley Davidson shuts plant as woes worsen for Trump’s model manufacturer

  17. Boat on Wed, 31st Jan 2018 1:33 am 

    Harley is going to produce an electric motorcycle. That is proof there will be no crash. Even gangs will go green just like the EU.

  18. Cloggie on Wed, 31st Jan 2018 1:22 pm 

    The Dutch government planning agency PLB is warning against a North Sea becoming overcrowded with wind parks. Conflict of interests could emerge between wind, fishing and shipping interests. Coordination is necessary between Holland, Britain and Germany, who all have great offshore wind ambitions.

    In 2050 there are expected to be 20-60 times as many windturbines as there are now in the North Sea (The Netherlands currently has 1.0 GW offshore wind).

    By 2050, 25% of the Dutch part of the continental shelf is to be expected to be filled with offshore wind, that is supposed to produce twice the amount of electricity the Netherlands produces now.

    Dutch average power consumption: 13 GW.
    Maximum production capacity: 29 GW.

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