Thermodynamics – Fossil Fuels – Renewables

coolplanet-foundation

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

by Dr Louis Arnoux

In Part 1 we met the cast and encountered the Good, aka Thermodynamics.

In Part 2 we became acquainted with the Ugly, aka Fossil Fuels.

In Part 3 we met the Ugly, aka Renewables. We are now closing this romp with “elephants-in-the-room” by examining the energy trap we are now locked in with no possibility of exit, short of radical change, and where this may lead to if, by any chance, we do manage radical change: the 4th Transition.

Energy pools and Transitions

Tragic the unfolding Energy Seneca drama may seem; all is not lost. There are ways out of the Seneca’s energy trap. However, this requires understanding the problem instead of rushing to delusional “solutions” focused on treating symptoms instead of the actual “disease”

Let’s first set matters in perspective as summarised in Figure 11.  The size of the circles and of the sun picture represent the relative sizes of available sources of energy versus what we, humans, require to live comfortably, say, some 28TW of power by 2050. The energy sources that decision-makers in the GIW currently focus on, shown the right side of Figure 11, are now unviable. This also includes PV technology that only capture a tiny fraction of the direct solar influx and that, as we have seen, can’t scale.  In contrast, we see the huge energy abundance coming from the solar influx. Inherently, there is no energy scarcity.  Scarcity is created by Tooth Fairy believers.

Figure 11

Now that we have just passed to the downside of the Energy Seneca but not yet slid down its thermodynamic cliff, the challenge is to access efficiently the solar influx – something that the GIW presently does not have the capacity to achieve within the remaining time window. The change in question amount to much more than a very abrupt civilisation change. To understand what this entails, let’s stand back and take a view of the last, say, three million years of humankind’s evolution as shown very schematically in Figure 12.

Since the beginning of the Stone Age, humankind has undergone three major transitions.  First humans became sophisticated hunters-gatherers and, after a long while, mastered fire and developed language. Then, second transition, they developed hierarchies, literally the rule of gods and goddesses upon large groups of people, combined with the invention of agriculture and pastoralism, and the development of cities. This led to the formation of long series of empires perennially rising and falling, an endless series of “mini Senecas”.

About 270 years ago, the Industrial Revolution began to emerge: the third transition. Fossil fuels had been known for thousands of years but used only in limited ways. The development of physics and more specifically thermodynamics changed the game, enabling the massive use of fossil fuels to generate a huge amount of wealth (by whatever name) and unprecedented population growth.

Each transition was propelled by revolutionary innovation sets (RIs) giving access to ever larger energy pools. Each RI involved thermodynamic advances combined with novel modes of thinking, decision-making and social organisation.

Figure 12 – How and where to jump?

Let’s clarify. Compared with a fist or a rough stone, the tip and sharp edge of a skilfully knapped stone tool concentrates some 10,000 times available muscular power, enabling access much more easily to an increased energy pool in the form of food. The mastery of fire and cooking enabled a fairly rapid evolution of human physiology with a reduction in the size of the digestive tract and increased energy available to the human brain. With the second transition, farming and pastoralism enabled accessing even larger amounts of solar energy in the form of biomass. The related development of hierarchies though had substantial drawbacks. While hunter-gatherers enjoyed EROIs of about 100:1, working on average only 2 to 4 hours per day, with a life expectancy often extending to some 60 years, early farmers saw EROIs decline to around 30:1, were forced into long hours of labour, suffered decreased health with new diseases due to nutritional changes and proximity with newly domesticated animals (the ancestors of the current pandemic), much shorter stature, and a life expectancy down to around 30 years – except, of course, for the top hierarchs and their immediate underlings… Still, overall the energy pool accessed by humankind had enormously increased.

While the 1st and 2nd transitions took place over millennia, the third transition occurred very rapidly, in a matter of decades and is likely to have lasted hardly three centuries. Figure 12 shows clearly the Seneca pattern – long arduous growth, peaking and abrupt fall. Along the last 270 years, for having followed blindly and in servile fashion hierarchical elites that remained wholly under the sway of the Tooth Fairy, we now stand at the edge of a steep thermodynamic cliff, caught in the Energy Seneca trap.

Let’s clarify further. As shown in Figure 12, the third transition took place in roughly three main waves thanks to the development of a series of new Technology Classes, steam engines, turbines, internal combustion engines, electrical technology with motors, generators and batteries, and finally electronics, aka Information and Communications Technology (ICT). All vastly expanded the energy pools humankind could and did access – all except the last one, ICT, that by and large now acts as a large energy drain.

This 3rd transition saw a tsunami like surge in social complexity, especially over the last few decades with the development of the Internet and related mass consumption of products and services. As for the second transition, the third had its massive drawbacks. Presently, only roughly 10% of the global population really benefit from it, those living on more than €10,000/year/person, while the approximately 90% Remainder must make do with extremely limited access to energy… and all, 10% wealthiest and Remainder alike, now stand at the edge of the cliff, caught in an energy trap.

Compared with the three earlier transitions, humankind now must face a wholly uncharted future.  It no longer has a biomass-based “safety net” to fall back on. Until now, under previous societal or civilisational collapse conditions, large numbers of people could fall back to various forms of subsistence farming or even hunting and gathering. For billions of people, especially urbanites, this is no longer an option. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed us abruptly right to the edge, toes dangling over a void that most have not even noticed yet.  Will we drop off and go “splat” at the bottom or will we achieve a Fourth Transition? Such is the challenge of our times.

We can no longer rely significantly on photosynthesis/biomass; that energy pool is far too depleted. We can no longer rely on accessing fossil fuels, the Bad, with existing energy technology classes that are de facto obsolete (i.e. all internal combustion engines, all turbines and most batteries) given the far too low EROIp for the whole energy systems built with them and given what we now know about the Climate Emergency, 2ºC overshooting and all.  We can no longer hope to build a substitute, self-powered energy system with current renewables, the Ugly. Meaning that PVs, WTs and EVs are also de facto obsolete, except for very limited market niches. The sole, large remaining energy pool, is the direct solar influx shown in Figure 11. It is massive and ongoing. Yet accessing it requires at least one new energy technology class, new modes of thinking, decision-making and social organisation. That is, the challenge is to develop and implement a new set of revolutionary innovations, RI, in record time – not some thousand years, not a century or so, but approximately over a couple of decades. Developing an RI that fast has never been done before. It can still be done; my team has ascertained this. The chief obstacle is the prevalence of elites holding for dear life onto their beliefs in the Tooth Fairy

Four unanswered questions

As early as 1988, Joseph Tainter developed the view that, notwithstanding their actual knowledge and capabilities, in most cases civilisations do not collapse directly as a result of overstepping ecological limits but more fundamentally, in my own wording, when the energy costs of solving the problems that they encounter or create become significantly higher than the energy flows that they can muster within the framework of the mythical corpuses under which they operate, that is, when they fall into an energy trap.[1]  The abundance of thermodynamic evidence that has come to light in recent years points firmly towards the GIW having fallen into such an energy trap.

The fourth principle of thermodynamics concerns complex systems operating far from equilibrium, which is the case for the GIW. Put in simple lay terms, it states that such systems survive thanks to ongoing energy flows traversing them from a source (e.g. the sun) to a sink (e.g. outer space) and self-organise so as to maximise power, i.e. energy flow per unit of time, measured in Watts, and export entropy to their environment.[2]

The fourth principle constitutes the background to Tainter’s analyses. While industrialised societies are engaged in a dynamic of power maximisation, they indeed must solve the problems that they ceaselessly encounter along the way. Tainter’s key contribution is to have pointed out that societies’ problem solving takes place mostly through ongoing increases in complexity and that such increases in complexity result in net additional energy costs. 

Furthermore, problem solving takes place strictly under the constraints of the (largely erroneous) beliefs decision-makers are holding (that we referred to as the Tooth Fairy in the case of the GIW). Under the sway of the Tooth Fairy, each specific problem solving engenders more issues whose solving entails more energy costs that in turn engender more problems, in an endless chain that can easily turn into an avalanche, a self-organising criticality (S.O.C.). As shown by Tainter, as societies progress along such trajectories they unavoidably end up by overshooting the maximum power point that they can muster and afford. Then overwhelmed by excess energy costs, they fall into thermodynamic decline. Overshooting through endless, energy inefficient, increases in complexity is what happened to the GIW from the 1970s onward, culminating with the massive development of ICT and bringing us to the cliff edge. 

In the present drama, peering through the looking glass, we can see that the actual Bad and Ugly characters are not inherently Fossil Fuels or Renewables, but mindless beliefs subsumed as the Tooth Fairy syndrome.

Tainter’s analyses of how societies’ problem solving through ever increasing complexity drives them into energy traps that precipitate their collapse led him to formulate four key questions for our times:

“Modern societies will continue to need high-quality energy [to replace fossil fuels]… securing this should be the first priority of every nation…:

  1. Can we contravene history by finding ways to address major societal problems, such as adapting to climate change, without increasing complexity and resource consumption, and thereby worsening some of the problems we are trying to address?
  2. Can we develop new, clean fuel sources with adequate net energy… when the productivity of innovation is declining…?
  3. How can we develop the political will and financial resources to address future large-scale problems, including the need for more energy?
  4. Should we try to achieve distributional equity in new energy that requires advanced technology, and if so, how?”[1]

Tainter’s are hard to answer questions that are crucial to addressing our Energy Seneca predicament.  They remain ignored by decision-making elites and thus remain unanswered.

In contrast with many advocates of harvesting low-grade diffuse energy flows through low-efficiency devices (such as PVs and WTs), Tainter recognises that addressing the Seneca requires securing high-quality energy as a top priority.  “High-quality energy” means something equivalent to those high energy density molecules presently derived from fossil fuels that enable securing everything else (nuclear, biomass, direct soar, wind, etc…) and that we are in the process of losing access to. 

His first question thus is momentous.  Can we break with the whole of the historical record and avoid collapse resulting from further relentless increases in complexity?  One cannot and must not underestimate the import of this question.  Recall, for example, that the current push towards “the Internet of things”, self-drive vehicles, massive use of so-called “artificial intelligence” (AI), and “smart grid” integrating distributed “renewables” in order to “combat global warming”, all entail a massive increase in complexity and in resulting energy costs. 

The GIW is the first civilisation ever where a tiny minority of people has been able to begin to understand the process of civilisational breakdown just as it happens.[2]  What remains to be seen is whether the GIW will also be the first civilisation where a tiny minority of people will be able to break the historical pattern by using available knowledge to achieve a Fourth Transition. Such a feat has never been done before for the whole of the global population at once.

The know-how to develop a new revolutionary innovations set is available. However, all key players are in an “everyone to themselves and that the devil take the hind most” mode, in a situation of global cognitive failure, without the slightest idea that Tainter’s first question exists and, of course, even less how to answer it.  Which means that avoiding global collapse is doubtful but avoiding it for at least part of the global population remains feasible.

If in doubt, consider the present situation. With Covid-19, global elites ignored warnings for more than two decades and are now fumbling haphazardly in their responses. Regarding climate and energy matters, the same elites have similarly ignored warnings and failed to act for over five decades, with consequences bound to be much worse than the pandemic. In effect, Covid-19 mostly looks like a tame dress rehearsal for what our romp through the looking glass demonstrate as bound to come next and very rapidly – the terminal breakdown of the thermodynamic foundations of our world, already in train for over 10 years, the now unavoidable overshooting of the so-called 2ºC global warming “limit” and its dire consequences, the acceleration of the 6th mass extinction and of the other ecological disasters already well in train, mass disruptions among the 90% poorest Remainder, revolts among the youth of the 10% wealthiest who are also realising that they no longer have a future, breakdown of nearly all financial systems, erratic food supply disruptions and famines, and of course, more epidemics, affecting humans as well as crops and animal husbandry (some dozens are in train right now) – all with much loss of life and enormous wealth destruction…

There is no point in blaming anyone. Where others wring their hands in despair, march endlessly in protests, sue their governments, or remain in denial… it has become vital to understand that the only remaining practical way of extricating ourselves from the utter mess we are now all in is to make it very profitable and attractive to do so, for all stakeholders.

Tainter’s second question, can we develop new clean sources with adequate net energy, is poignant.  He acknowledges the known multi-decadal decline trend in the number of innovations that could make a difference in terms of securing enough net energy. Recall our review of EROIp thresholds. Tainter’s 2nd question translates into whether one can rapidly shift back above 30:1 using the direct solar influx, without massive recourse to PVs or current concentrated solar power (CSP). We have the knowledge to achieve this. My team is working on it. The core know-how to access the direct solar influx on a global scale with EROIs above 30:1 was developed and proven during the 1950s, but not integrated, then largely forgotten… but not entirely.  Our Fourth Transition Initiative is in the process of reviving it, augmenting it, updating it, and bringing it to bear to address the Energy Seneca trap… notwithstanding Tooth Fairy believers. However…

This bring us to Tainter’s third question, concerning the political will and availability of financial resources.  The political will has clearly emerged in recent years but is rendered impotent due to the prevailing reliance on Tooth Fairy mythical and magical thinking resulting in massive cognitive failure.  There is no longer time left for changing this state of affairs. As stressed earlier, it took over 50 years for elites to begin to accept the urgency to do something about climate change. They have not yet managed to bring themselves to act about it in ways that would not be pure fantasy and beyond the symptoms of global warming they have not yet seen the Energy Seneca. Let’s be clear, no number of marches, protests, demonstrations, “Fridays for Future” or “Extinction Rebellions” can change it.  Neither governments nor main stream businesses are in a position to address Energy Seneca matters.

Historically, major transitions have never been engineered by governments of any kind nor by elites. Revolutionary innovation sets have always been developed by tiny groups of people who took the trouble of understanding the problems and who stepped out of the beaten tracks to produce solutions extending beyond the minds of their fellow humans. Then and only then, once they had been able to demonstrate new ways, were they backed by powers-that-be and their innovations taken up by the masses. At the outset, it has never been a case of developing policies, regulations, educational programmes, incentives, subsidies and targeted taxes. In short, it has always been a matter of resolute entrepreneurship pitted against established ways. Addressing the Energy Seneca trap is no different. As stressed earlier, what’s new is that this time round we do not have the odd one thousand years nor even a century or so to invent, develop, and deploy a new set of revolutionary innovations to achieve a Fourth Transition. We have to carry this out in about two decades, or else matters will look worse than grim.

There remains the fourth question of whether one should try to achieve distributional equity concerning new energy means?  Setting aside matters of ethical or moral considerations, the answer is implicit in the very nature of the solar influx and of life on Earth. Distributional equity is a thermodynamic necessity, if humankind is to survive the Energy Seneca trap. The solar energy influx is evenly distributed over the whole of Earth. The sole complex system that is currently able to access this influx efficiently is what we call “Nature”, aka the whole of life’s ecosystems – Earth-Life – that we now understand to be self-organising, self-regulating and self-perpetuating, fueled, so to speak, by the solar influx. Inherently, Earth-Life is also distributed. Energy-wise, Earth-Life is over 80% energy efficient in its capture of the solar influx, recycling waste heat through numerous cascading processes, and rejecting the balance to outer space, mostly as infrared radiation. In short, versus the about 19TW of fossil-based power currently controlled by the GIW, with a mere 12% efficiency and that it is in the process of losing, Earth-Life, abiding with the 4th principle, musters in the order of 2267TW at over 80% efficiency.[1]

19TW (about to be lost) versus 2,267TW: the GIW does not stand a chance if it continues with its current hyper-predatory dynamics of power over “Nature”. It should be obvious that emulating Earth-Life is now the sole remaining avenue to extricate ourselves from the downside of the Energy Seneca. It unavoidably ensues that “distributional equity” is not a matter of yes or no.  It is not a matter of “attempting to achieve it” either.  Instead, it is the sole avenue left to humankind.  Distributional equity is built-in the necessity of harvesting the solar influx directly at the point of use, in the necessity of recycling waste heat energy directly at the point of use, in the necessity of networking the harvested energy in the ways nature does, that is, in the necessity of maximising power in distributed fashion among all points of use, and in the necessity of providing resilient means of exchange, account and storage of value fully distributed and inherently grounded in the networked, installed power – all done in the simplest possible fashion.  This is what we call the Fourth Transition. It requires a radical change in prevailing ways of thinking, decision-making and acting, free from Tooth Fairy fantasies.

What to do after the orgy?

In one of his moments of lightning insights, Jean Baudrillard once exclaimed:

If I had to characterise the present situation, I would say that it is that of after the orgy. The orgy is that explosive moment of modernity, that of liberation in all domains. Political liberation, sexual liberation, freeing of productive forces, freeing of destructive forces, liberation of women, of children, of unconscious impulses, of art… We have run through all the paths of production and virtual over-production of objects, signs, messages, ideologies, pleasures. Nowadays everything is liberated, the chips are down, and we are collectively faced with this crucial question:  WHAT TO DO AFTER THE ORGY?

Fundamentally, the orgy Baudrillard talks about is that of the huge, wasteful surge in primary energy use that has brought us to the edge of the Seneca’s cliff. There, in the dense fog of the morning after, elites wander aimlessly, endlessly arguing about what to do, children and environmentalists keep marching and Friday-striking, Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests or their equivalent around the world occasionally riot and police forces repress, while all remain oblivious of the increasingly large herd of elephants roaming around them – a rather pathetic scene.

Figure 13 – The Fourth Transition challenge

If one is prepared to let go of one’s Tooth Fairy beliefs, pluck one’s head out of the portable sand bucket it was buried in, and look around, finding what to do is not that difficult. Figure 13 summarises the challenge that must be addressed to escape from the Seneca Energy trap.

The light shaded, tsunami like diagramme shows the surge of energy use over the last two centuries. This combines all energy forms used by the industrial world, coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wood, new forms of biomass, and the PV and WT renewables. From very little, next to nothing, in 1800, the surge has now reached in the order of 19TW-year (Terawatt-year, i.e. some 166,440 Trillion watt-hours). The orange sliver shows the useful work actually derived from that huge surge of primary energy use – i.e. only 12% of the total. Let this sink in. Early steam engines circa 1750 were about 1% to 5% efficient. 270 years later, the current, global, almighty energy technological system is still only 12% efficient – an appallingly wasteful use of fossil fuels.

Figure 13 contrasts the Industrial Revolution development with that of Earth-Life. The thin blue sliver in Figure 13 shows the amount of wastage that would have resulted from emulating Earth-Life. Had the industrial world done this, GHGs would have remained well below 350ppm CO2 equivalent, global warming would not be an issue, we could still use the precious high energy density molecules found in fossil fuels for at least a century, we would not be drowning in massive pollution of all kinds, and we would not have caused nor face the 6th mass extinction. We could easily and smoothly transition to 100% solar societies. This drop and, instead of pretending, actually going 100% solar are what the Fourth Transition is about. With Figure 13 we are reaching the term of our walk through the looking glass. Thanks to our herd of elephants-in-the-room and a few Dumbos flitting about, we have discovered that Thermodynamics is neither Bad nor Good. It just is. It’s up to us to handle it intelligently instead of what has been done for 270 years – in which case we could unleash unprecedented prosperity while simultaneously “fixing the Planet”. We also found that Fossil Fuels are not inherently the Bad. The actual Bad is the moronic way in which we have used and keep using energy. Finally, we could not escape realising that the assumed Good, the so-called Renewables, are not what they are touted to be. Through the looking glass they turned Ugly. Standing on the edge of the Seneca’s cliff, this led us to realise that we have no longer any other option but dropping off the Tooth Fairy and beginning to think, critically, rigorously.

Figure 14 – Amalie Materna as Brünnhilde, 1876

We have all heard the not too politically correct quip: “the show ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. The quip was originally about the stout Valkyrie Brünnhilde’s farewell scene ending Wagner’s opera, the Götterdämmerung, the Twilight of the Gods – an epic end for a mythical world…

We no longer live among glorious heroes. We live in a rather pathetic and nonetheless mythical Tooth Fairy world. Amidst the global din of Covid-19, impacts of both the pandemic and responses to it, and umpteen fake news about it all… few have yet realised that a post-modern Brünnhilde has finished singing. The globalised industrial world’s “show” is over. Whichever way one turns, the “unthinkable”, albeit anticipated for decades, has happened, speeded up by the pandemic. The world we live in no longer has a future. Instead of chasing the lethal mirages of an impossible BAU or “green” “recovery”, the actual challenge is to lay out sustainable foundations for much more than a civilisation change. It is to lay the foundations for a new world, for a Fourth Transition.

The point made with Figure 13 is simple. We need to drop from 19TW-year all the way down to where we should be. We can still do this – albeit in the nick of time. We do know how to drop extremely rapidly to around 2.7TW-year for current energy uses and how to add to this some 5.5TW-year, or even more, to supply those currently deprived and fix the ecological damage wrought by the industrial world over the last 270 years. Throughout our romp with the herd of elephants we kept pointing out that “Something-else” is urgently required. This is the opportunity heralded in Figure 13. To achieve that drop and survive to tell the tale requires meeting the following imperatives:

  • “Keep wheels running” for all modes of transport (land, sea, air). Fantasies about “all electric” transport are a lethal mirage. Our world relies on approximately 1.3 billion land transport vehicles, plus a global merchant fleet of over 1.75 billion dead weight tonnes, plus over 365,000 active aircraft (many of which are presently grounded – Covid-19 oblige). If only a portion of that stops running, we will see massive wealth destruction and much loss of life. We do not “need” that many vehicles, yet we do require maintaining a large transport capability, including to fix the Planet, which implies developing the ability to retrofit existing transport means – there is simply no time left for global fleet replacement.
  • Retain access to high energy density molecules from oil or equivalent, e.g. biomass (they are some 60 times more energy dense that the best Li battery). This is an essential part of keeping wheels running, yet we must do so in ecologically sound ways – something readily doable through a drastic shift in energy efficiency to over 80%.
  • Achieve cost-effective direct air capture of CO2 (DACs). Current strategies to address the Climate Emergency cannot succeed in time without this. A number of avenues are available that can be implementable only through the same energy efficiency shift to over 80%.
  • Re-establish the self-powered status of the industrial world’s energy foundations, currently based on net energy from oil. The only way to achieve this in sustainable ways is to integrate novel, advanced solar energy technology and DACs to existing oil-based energy supply chains to render them sustainable.
  • Change the global game by redesigning how we use energy, i.e. the imperative is to flip in record time from 88% energy wastage to over 80% productive use of energy, sustainably.
  • Monetise a substantial part of what was energy wastage and that can be retrieved by shifting to over 80% efficiency. This represents an over €5 Trillion per year opportunity – plenty to make the transition highly attractive, supply those currently energy deprived and fund fixing the Planet.

In our analysis, the sole effective way forward is in “disrupting the disrupters”. Current Renewables are bound to fail. Contrary to what hordes of investors now believe, they cannot disrupt fossil-based BAU successfully and the real game is elsewhere. That is, laying down sound thermodynamic foundations for sustainable prosperity by fundamentally redesigning how we access and use energy – without such a redesign none of the myriad other challenges that we must face can be successfully tackled.

Based on decades of systematic science, technology and market intelligence, we at Fourth Transition Wealth Ltd (4TW) have established the feasibility of a strategy that meets the above imperatives. In short, we have found how to build a safe, highly profitable, “Middle Way” that disrupts both BAU and illusory “green”. While retaining access to precious high energy density oil and biomass molecules as well as extending the life of remaining oil reserves by over 20 years, the prospect is to take a turn towards a 100% Solar Sustainable World, globally, in less than 20 years, at lower cost than anything else, unleashing unprecedented prosperity. This is readily feasible in ways that neither those plumping for “business-as-usual” nor “greens” have ever considered.

Footnotes

Joseph Tainter, 2011, Energy, complexity, and sustainability: A historical perspective, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Elsevier

For example, Limits to growth was published right when in the early 1970s oil-derived power maximisation per head of global population peaked and the GIW underwent thermodynamic decline.

Tainter, Joseph, 1988, The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge University Press; – — -Tainter, Joseph A., 1996, “Complexity, Problem Solving, and Sustainable Societies”, in Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics, Island Press, and -Tainter, Joseph A. and Crumley, Carole, “Climate, Complexity and Problem Solving in the Roman Empire” (p. 63), in Costanza, Robert, Graumlich, Lisa J., and Steffen, Will, editors, 2007, Sustainability or Collapse, an Integrated History and Future of People on Earth, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, U.K., in cooperation with Dahlem University Press.

The 4th principle is based on the works of Alfred J. Lotka, 1922 and Howard T. Odum, 1978.

Based on: Murray, James, and King, David, 2011, Oil’s tipping point has passed, The economic pain of a flattening supply will trump the environment as a reason to curb the use of fossil fuels, in Nature, 26 January, Vol. 481; and Axel Kleidon, 2012, How does the Earth system generate and maintain thermodynamic disequilibrium and what does it imply for the future of the planet? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2012 370, doi: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0316.

In Part 1 we met the cast and got acquainted with the Good, aka Thermodynamics.

In Part 2 we met the Bad, aka fossil Fuels.

In Part 3 we looked closely at the Ugly, aka Renewables.

With this Part 4 we closed our romp with “elephants-in-the-room” to learn about the radical change that could enable us to exit the energy trap we are presently locked in and achieve the Fourth Transition.

To learn more contact louis@fourthtransitionwealth.com and visit Fourth Transition and Cool Planet Foundation

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