Not by Money Alone: economics as nature intended

Some of you may be interested in some work we have done on the wider energy, social and global implications of the oil peak. As pioneers of Natural Capital Accounting, a procedure in which all economic activities are measured in terms of the primary non-renewable energy they dissipate, we have built several system dynamic models of economies. One of these, a global model (GlobEcco), has been used to explore what is the maximum rate at which the global economy can expand within the constraints set by available oil, gas and coal. The 'cost' of these resources is measured in terms of the energy that must be invested and used to explore, extract, refine and deliver fuels to the market. This amount will rise as resources are depleted and their extraction becomes more capital and energy intensive.

One can run such a model for any number of policy options - for example development of renewable energies, emphasis on nuclear, the hydrogen economy and so on. What emerges is that UNLESS action is taken soon, and there is a major diversion of capital resources into non-oil systems, the global economy will go though a peak about 2030, with disastrous effect on the developing world, not to mention a financial crisis in the developed world.

Outcomes are sensitive to the choices we as a global society make. What is the best mix of alternative energy sources and how can they best be phased in? What are we willing to trade off for future benefit? Clearly the outcome is also data sensitive, including just how much oil and gas there is and what it will take to extract it. This approach cannot take account of geo-political factors which may exacerbate the situation long before 2030.

We have sought to lay out the argument in simple non-technical language in our recent book 'Not by money alone.... economics as nature intended', published by Jon Carpenter Publishing, Oxford (authors King & Slesser) ISBN 1-897766-72-6. Direct sales from the publisher @ +44-1689-870-437 price post free in UK 11.99, add 20% for EU and 20% elsewhere; or bookshops

Jane King & Malcolm Slesser

Review

World politics in the age of oil depletion: Paying for Petrol with Human Lives with comments on the book.