World Energy Relationships and the Failures of the Human Economy

Seven points about current world energy relationships and the instability of our current energy practices, by Howard T. Odum. Reprinted with permission, 1974.

| May/June 1974

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    Howard T. Odum, PhD has many environmental credits to his name and offers a consideration of energy as a net product that incorporates the biosystem, humanity and our inventions, and our efforts to produce more conventional forms of energy, such as electricity and gasoline.

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Note: The following notes are reprinted with the permission of Dr. Howard T. Odum, PhD. In addition to his other credits (including the book Environment, Power and Society, first published in 1971 and revised in 2007), Professor Odum was a Graduate Research Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville and Director of the Center for Wetlands in 1974.

Twenty points about the current world energy situation are made Net Energy, Ecology and Economics, an article that uses simple models to show some fallacies in many proposed responses to energy needs. Additional points follow: 

1. U.S. policy relative to other countries is dangerous to its survival as an independent entity. 

The countries that hold back their richer fuel reserves while others are spending their last reserves end up with more relative power in military and economic affairs. The recent actions to use our reserves of fuel and other energy costing and amplifying strategic reserves for business as usual is bordering on treasonous and yet was adopted by an ignorant Congress.

Rich energies get more energies if they are used in amplifier actions (example: machinery for using other resources). As rich fuels get scarce they become more and more limiting in such activities and their energy amplifier effect gets larger. Thus, the countries that save energy until later get more energy out of secondary amplifier actions. One should not spend our reserves now.

Fuels don't actually run out except where price fixing is attempted, since holding prices down causes oils to go elsewhere for sale. Money costs rise as energy cost of getting energy rises, since a higher percentage of the human economy gets involved in energy getting. The long-range energy effect is the diversion of many current aspects of our so-called standard of living back to energy collection and concentration work.

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