Greece and Essential Value, a letter to a friend

To Catarina Tully at From over Here

Hi Cat

Sir David King has just made the following statement: Sir David King lambasts Treasury for preventing green economic recovery

How do we get the message across that it is not about ‘resource efficiency’ but about the ‘effective’ use of resources creating ‘essential value’. This is not an easy discussion to have, but if we don’t face up to this as a society we will end up in the situation in the book just released.

If we continue to muddle along on the basis that completely free enterprise can find a way forward when the marginal cost of producing a barrel of oil is over $90 and the useful energy remaining is on a downward trajectory, we are deluded.

We see in Greece the effects of the reducing Energy and Resource Intensity of a Society and Economic Block that does not recognise what is really happening.

Chandran Nair does recognise this and is doing his best to make Asia aware of the situation: as Asia tries to grow using the multi-planet paradigm this contagion can only spread.

These are Global issues but we must act as SystemUK if we are to be competitive and provide inspiration to others on the art of the possible. Are we the innately ingenious people we think we are, or was our prosperity purely a result of the Energy and Resource Intensity we were able to exploit?

The answer is probably a lot of both and we need to recognise this if we are not to squander this innate creatively and ingenuity as the Energy and Resource Intensity of SystemUK inevitably falls.



My letter in the Professional Engineering Journal 2007

Engineers are supposed to be mathematically literate but a simple understanding of compound interest is all that is needed to see that the current predictions of growth are the pipe dreams of economists.

Take a chess board and put one unit on the first square, 2 on the second and 4 on the third and continue doubling up. The time to each doubling is 70 divided by the rate of growth i.e. 7%/annum is equal to 10 years.

Add the squares together 1+2+4 = 7 i.e. the sum of all previous doublings is less than the value on the next square – 8

Oil was first commercially exploited in 1859 and we are now at around 30 billion barrels/year and on the 32nd square. At the present rate of growth we will need more oil in the next 20+ years than in the previous 150!

Even if this amount of oil exists, finding, extracting and applying unknown technologies to turn the poor quality, heavy, and polluted crude we obtain into useable product is clearly not possible on this time scale.

And that’s without the climate crisis and the fact that we need a fair amount of the remaining oil to create a low carbon future.


Derek Deighton MIQA AIEMA AMIMechE

Coordinator, Northwest Engineering Institutions, Sustainability Joint Venture

Northwest Energy Forum

Trailblazer Business Futures, Business and Built Environment Systems Integration

Helping create the One Planet World through creative partnerships


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s