The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has created this educational resource on the Circular Economy.
The second Fiscal Sustainability Report published by the UK Office of Budget Responsibly appears to make no reference to energy other than to falling North Sea Revenues. Important though this is, it is the statement that productivity will continue to increase at the long run 2%, without justification, that is the critical issue.
Productivity has been, and is, intensely energy dependent and here is significant discussion about the amount of easily won energy moving forward from this point, and the value of the useful net energy it yields; not least within the International Monetary Fund.
Energy use and GDP are historically closely correlated and projections that ignore this are suspect at best and probably meaningless.
This a strategic mistake as it fails to focus the available National creativity on the search for energy and resource intensity reduction in UK economic activity at system level.
At the moment, all efforts are aimed at marginal energy and resource intensity improvements at micro level.
In yesterday’s Telegraph there was an article titled ‘Why the Military must invade our schools’ and whilst this might have a simplistic attraction in the situation we find ourselves in as a society, it fails to address the reality we are now in. Fragmented as society of’ individuals’ in a future where the Common Good must be placed centre stage as the energy and resource intensity of our society, SystemUK, inevitably falls.
Radio and Television programmes abound, Panorama last night for instance, but none recognise this fundamental reality. The Seventies were the beginning of the future we are now in, only with outcomes differed was a result of the exploitation of North Sea Oil. Which we squandered on Business as Usual, creating no reserve for the transition to the future we are in.
As a consequence, neither did we educate for this reality and the common purpose and action this future requires. The ‘Service for the Nation’ required of us all.
We are now in a world of fire-fighting failure demand and looking for End of Pipe solutions to Society’s Failure Demand. Such is the reasoning behind ResPublica’s genuine concern. Failing schools, send in the military to sort out the problems.
But we are all in this together for the Common Good, and whilst it is eminently sensible to encourage military personnel to take up the work mentioned in the article, dealing with the issues in separate boxes does not solve the problems at system level, SystemUK.
We thought resources were plentiful, to squander as we thought fit as individuals, rather than the reality; limited and needing to be marshalled for the Common Good.
In this future we must all be expected to act for the Common Good, bankers included!. This can only be achieved by educating for and implementing, universal and compulsory ‘Service for the Nation’ , not military discipline in a forlorn attempt to contain the Failure Demand created by not doing the right thing right as a Society.
There are difficult times ahead but we must start now if we are to ensure a coherent and competitive society rather than a failing one. There are scenarios out there we do not need to let happen.
To Catarina Tully at From over Here
Sir David King has just made the following statement: Sir David King lambasts Treasury for preventing green economic recovery http://bit.ly/M1AxgG
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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jun/08/why-uk-no-longer-superpower
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. http://vimeo.com/43261566
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_CL2imxmeE
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
It is now widely acknowledged that global resources are increasingly constrained, most recently on the 16th March by the US, where the president signed the National Resource Preparedness Order
As resources become more constrained, we, as societies, organisations and individuals will decide what is the ‘essential value’ that gives us a satisfactory ‘Quality of Life’, within the affordable resources available to us. Spending on ‘non-essential value’ will of necessity fall; although in the real world it will not completely disappear as incomes will always be unequal. (luxury car sales to China for example)
We can see at https://trailblazerbusinessfutures.wordpress.com/the-one-planet-equation/ that Resource Intensity decides the Consumption (Value) creatable for a given consuming population. Past circumstances that allowed a disproportional level of consumption in the West for given availability of resources no longer apply.
In the limit, most available resources will be used creating ‘essential value’ and we can thus define Resource Intensity as ‘the resource use per person per unit of ‘essential value’ created’.
Although there will always be transient niche markets; in this One Planet World, only organisations that create ‘essential value’ can hope to survive and grow over time.
What we can say is, tomorrow’s successful, sustainable organisations will help maintain the Essential Value Created on Energy Invested by
- Satisfying emotional and spiritual need rather than gratuitous wants – self-actualisation
- Satisfying the essential needs in the lower orders of Maslow’s Pyramid
- Employing people rather than energy
- Creating or using renewable energy and other resources
- Minimising water use or creating the technologies that do
- Creating/deploying climate stabilising and mitigation technologies
- Being increasingly local
- Providing a service rather than a product
- Practising life-cycle stewardship of their resources
- Managing value rather than cost
- Being able to operate at continually reducing resource intensity
The UK Public Accounts Committee has recently carried out a consultation exercise on ‘Strategic Thinking in Government’. A link to the submission made by me can be found below.
Background to the consultation
Reasons for the inquiry
In October 2010 PASC published a report, ‘Who does UK National Strategy?’, which concluded: The answer we received to the question, “Who does UK Grand Strategy?” is: no-one … As things stand there is little idea of what the UK’s national interest is, and therefore what our strategic purpose should be.
The global system is increasingly multipolar, with power shifting East, potentially diffusing to international institutions and to different non-state actors (like civil society, business, high-net worth individuals, cities and regions, sovereign wealth funds, Diaspora groups, international multi-stakeholder fora).
The development in social media that harnesses the ‘wisdom of crowds’, cyber-advances, and other technological progress is transforming the context of policy making. This challenges the capacity and nature of government but also provides opportunities for both stronger engagements with the public and clearer national leadership.
The complex and unpredictable nature of many global issues, which stem from multiple and interrelated problems, require systems-based and evidence-based analyses if emergent strategy is to be effective and efficient. Within this context, many countries (including the UK) face implicit, diffuse and unpredictable risks, rather than explicit and identifiable threats.
In a previous report, we identified a deficit of strategic capacity across Government. In its initial inquiry, the Committee found “little evidence of sustained strategic thinking or a clear mechanism for analysis and assessment. This leads to a culture of fire-fighting rather than long-term planning”.
We wish to assess what progress has been made since then.
“In the #oneplanetworld how do we continually reduce the #resourceintensity of society? Do we rethink everything, or do we let the Earth do it for us?”
Resource Intensity of Society – “the resource used per person per unit of ‘essential goods and services’ created”.
Two things flow from this
- Non-essential processes add no value to society in a resource constrained world, their RI is effectively infinite
- The least resource intense process is the one that doesn’t exist.
The Oil Drum 30th July http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8210
It has been a constant theme in these columns that the global oil supply is under real threat. The facts to confirm this are everywhere if one were interested in pursuing the topic. (Google “Peak Oil” and see what comes up). A clear indication of a shift in supply is that Saudi Arabia, while it increased its output by 700,000 barrels per day, has kept more of its oil at home to benefit its own citizens with air-conditioning and desalinization projects.
So how do we confront a shrinking economy at work and at home? Brutal assessments will be the order of the day. Even though the top 10 percent of the population will manage to keep luxury businesses going for a time, the economy must shift away from businesses that feed the public’s desires to those that address what people need to survive.
Small enterprises will fare better. All businesses should start wondering whether their employees could get to work if they couldn’t afford to fill the gas tank. Is your business near a transit network? These are tough questions”.
“So how do we confront [and avoid] a shrinking economy at work and at home?” We do it by decoupling ‘service availability’ from ‘resource use’ as viewed from a ‘SystemUK’ perspective, by rethinking FE and HE to enable the creative reduction in the processes ’essential ’ to maximising our Quality of Life with the resources competitively available to us. We become continually more ‘effective’ as a society.
We don’t do it by trying to do what we are doing now more ‘efficiently’
Competitively winning constrained resources requires us to evolve and create organisations that can innovate as expressed in the presentation. Enabling the Future v1
Let’s not change a Challenging Adventure into an Impossible Challenge