Decent Democracy
About | Acknowledgements | Contact | | Follow site activity RSS 2.0


First published June-2010
last update 27-June-2010

"... humanity uses much more concentrated levels of energy for many energy intensive tasks, such as boiling water, roasting produce, making pottery, baking bricks and ceramics, melting metal, and making paper." These tasks are of course not necessary both from a epistemological as well as survival point of view, but in the short and medium term it is difficult to imagine humanity going without these practices.

Not only can direct solar energy be used in far greater quantity before creating ecological instability, it is available in essentially every location on the planet. Using solar energy at one location does not reduce solar energy access at another location.

Not only can tapping a relatively small percentage of solar energy directly provide more energy access than current energy systems, but on-location solar transformation requires little transportation energy, and energy requirements can also be significantly reduced by reducing transportation and the transportation infrastructure. So not only does direct solar energy have far less environmental impact per kilowatt than extracting natural solar derivatives, such as fossil fuels, rivers and biomass, but its on-location nature reduces the energy requirement of the energy system.

Though this does not in itself guarantee a more equitably and wisely managed earth, it can put energy access in the hands of those currently outside the petro-chemical complex.

Due to Problems 3 and 4, the oil society will have a difficult time adapting to a decentralized solar society, and risks complete collapse. The construction of a decentralized solar society in still largely decentralized non-petrochemical regions will create a motor for global stability in which a collapsing petrochemical society could be inspired in terms of learning the model, skills, tools, and designs required to decentralize. A decentralized solar option on the planet would also reduce pressure on and conflict over fossil fuels and biomass.

The very existence of an alternative decentralized solar society somewhere in the world forms a powerful argument against an all out effort to maintain resource extraction at all costs or embark on a massively destructive war, both of which risk consuming the remainder of the resources and energy that could be used to decentralized while tipping the ecological balance towards a complete collapse of the systems that support complex animal life.

Particular dangerous in this scenario is the possibility of fossil fuels entrapment in low quality hydro-carbon fuels. Not only are low quality hydro-carbon fuels, such as tar sands, coal, and bio-fuels, far more ecologically destructive than conventional oil, but they require much more energy and fresh water to extract and refine. Since we know fossil fuels society is unsustainable, using the last reserves of high quality fossil fuels to build a system to extract low-quality fossil fuels, is not only long-term environmental madness, but since those energies require more effort to extract and refine there is great risk that there would not be enough surplus energy to both maintain the present petro-chemical infrastructure of industrialized nations in the short term and build an alternative infrastructure. So, this path significantly increases not only the environmental destruction of centralized, petro-chemical society, but risks entrapment in short-sighted "industrial-subsistence" based on low quality fossil fuels leading towards complete environmental collapse.


Furthermore, non-petrochemical societies currently rely heavily on biomass from tree fuel. By replacing biomass combustion with solar, in ecologically degrading regions deforestation and desertification can be reversed, and in all regions where biomass combustion is replaced solar the ecosystems would be able to grow in capacity. Such a global forest growth would increase precipitation, absorb pollutants, help stabilize the atmosphere, increase habitat for creatures, and increase ecosystem stability in a general way. In conjunction with a largely vegetarian food-forest food system the collapse of the ecosystems that support complex animal life as we know it could be avoided (Appendix Q).



[1As for bio-fuels, it is quite possible that on a large scale centralized plan (not a low-tech, local scale) that more fossil energy is required to extract, refine and transport bio-fuels than the energy they delivered; especially when the cost of maintaining the transportation infrastructure is considered, this conclusion is nearly certain. And when we consider the fact that conventional high-extraction agriculture is completely dependent on fossil fuels and completely unsustainable, and even if this were not so cultivating all the agricultural land in the world would not replace a quarter of the fossil fuels currently used, bio-fuels are clearly pure madness.

[2Appendix Q: Though traditional artisan crafts will are extremely useful to relearn, recreating pre-oil society is not possible, as pre-oil society was still based on the exploitation of the naturally concentrated energy store of trees, which has equal if not greater catastrophic results of over exploiting, and the pre-oil craft system was based on an abundance of easily found material, not only biological, such as trees and game animals, but also mineral oar was readily found in 50 to 90 percent quality. Though the society of the future will resemble that of the past in being decentralized, it must be radically different in relying principally, in terms of quantity of joules, on direct solar energy rather than the biological energy of animals and plants, beyond that which is necessary.

And of the biological energy necessary, food (which is a small minority of the energy humanity currently uses), the principal source must be food from trees, and not annual crops. Annual crops have shallow roots and so far less access to water and nutrients, but even worse creates an overwhelming urge to till the soil which creates erosion. Trees however have a far deeper root system, which stabilizes the soil and draws up moisture from the water table without salting the land, and with a direct cooling of the surrounding vegetation as well as an increase of the probability of rain in the region (the evaporated water from trees increases the ambient humidity towards saturation and thus rain – 90 percent of rain that falls on a rain forest was evaporated by the trees of that forest).

Trees are extremely efficient at maintaining an ecosystem agreeable to human life, maintaining biological processes, and providing food and building material. However, trees are extremely inefficient as a combustion energy source.

Thus replacing combustion with direct solar concentration reduces the urge to cut down incredible amounts of trees for firewood, and significantly reduces our impact on nature not only directly but also indirectly by reducing the annual crop trap (due to cutting down fruiting trees that may take several years to grow and bear fruit and nuts).

Written by Eerik Wissenz.

Table of Contents

*Chapters in grey are in progress.

About | Acknowledgements | Contact |
Built with | template | | Follow site activity RSS 2.0