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Efficiency as a Vice

In modern economic thought, efficiency is paramount. The goal of economic systems, and entities within those systems, is to maximize efficiency.

The Energetic Basis of Wealth

Last year I did an analysis to try to understand whether it’s possible to feed the world sustainably. Today I’d like to try to understand what happens to countries as they must rely upon the sun for energy (and, indirectly, wealth).

Rube Goldberg Nature

The more I learn about it, the more Nature looks like a Rube Goldberg machine: energy and materials flow through convoluted paths to accomplish something seemingly simple.

We Can Feed the World / No We Can’t / No We Won’t

There are, and have been for a few decades now, competing narratives about food, hunger, and population.

The decline of falsifiability

Many ancient societies were ruled by claims of divine right; royal proclamations were not falsifiable...But we don’t have to look to the distant past to see what it looks like for dogma to trump reason.

Principles of Terraforming

A few months back I started exploring the idea of terraforming. In this post I’d like to consider two important questions about it. First, what is terraforming, anyway? And second, why should we do it? Oddly enough, it seems to me that the second question is easier to answer than the first because even with a vague sense of what terraforming entails, it seems clear that there are many …

Programmable Permaculture

How can we solve a problem (in a garden, say), with permaculture tools, by decomposing the problem and coming up with a set of interlocking pieces that solves it? Framing the problem in this way is very much applying an engineering mindset, something that might irk those who insist on thinking holistically about any and all ecological settings. (And I can relate to that sentiment, because …

Services provided by nature

A while back I had considered free energy as it exists in modern industrial society. Today I want to consider free services provided by nature, but that are ignored for what they are, especially in the context of a long-running trend that is finally getting notice in the tech-centric media: the tension between automation and employment. Specifically, I’ve been trying to understand what …

There’s No Emergency Room for a Planet

...most of us living in wealthy nations know, somewhere deep-down, that if something bad happens to us that there'll be something and/or someone to take care of us...

Free energy does not occur in nature

It's not just that what we generally think of as free energy doesn't occur in nature, but also that free energy does occur in the everyday lived environments of people in industrial nations, which we might thus say are unnatural. So what are instances of free energy that we experience in our lives, and why do they matter?
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