Saturday, August 21, 2021


Most of us, for one reason or another, want to know “what comes next”. There are many wrong ways of going about this. We can, for instance, take our expectations for the future ‘on trust’ from others, or we can simply assume (meaning hope) that the future will be what we want it to be.

The only effective way of forming rational expectations, though, is to follow a ‘path of reason’ from “what we know” (about the present) to “what we want to know” (about the future).

The original plan here was to try to encompass this within a single discussion. Practicality, though, suggests that we tackle this in two or three stages.

This first instalment starts with “what we know”.

This turns out to be rather a lot.

We know, for example, that the economy is an energy system. This knowledge identifies an equation which expresses the conversion of energy into material prosperity.

We know, further, that this is a constrained equation. The constraints on our conversion of energy into prosperity are set (a) by the physical characteristics of energy resources, and (b) by the limits of environmental tolerance.

This knowledge enables us to clear the ground by dismissing the fallacy of the infinite. Infinite growth isn’t feasible on a finite planet and within a finite ecosphere.

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