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Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:17 am
by JamesR

Sure would be nice if the price of fossil fuels had their replacement value factored in, for even just 10%, rather than just mainly based on extraction cost only.

P.S: Looks like Stuart McMillion is an Australian comic artist that does long-form comics on environment/social issues. is also a good one.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:57 am
by vexed87
Great job here by the author. Thanks for sharing JamesR, bookmarked and I'll be sharing with a few people who might benefit from this style of delivery!

If we priced petroleum products at replacement cost, it wouldn't even be that useful, perhaps except for a select few applications, and even then only achievable by pooling the resources of nation states or monarchs.

More people need to be familiar with these concepts, because the limitations imposed directly impact our practical ability to respond to our resource problems.

The genie is going back in the bottle, but only because some people can't afford to rub it anymore, me thinks self-restraint is a long way away for many that still have the means.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:14 pm
by jacob
These are excellent!

This on top of another favorite of mine who recently surrendered to the adpocalypse finally spurred me to toss some coin into the patreon river.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:01 pm
by suomalainen
Combining this thought with a thought on the FIRE reaching critical mass thread, it's interesting that the FIREcalc, Shiller and other observations of the market's long-term performance coincides precisely (and only) with the era of cheap energy (starting late 1800s at the earliest). In other words, how relevant is the past fifty years of market return data to the next fifty years? past 100 years to future 100 years? At the margin, only 50 years matters to me, but ~100 years will matter to my children and therefore derivatively to me. Is there any chance of financial assets becoming entirely irrelevant?

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:30 pm
by jacob
Weave these two chains together.
Energy => Food => #Humans => GDP => Market performance
Energy => Technological level => GDP => Market perforrmance
Might look diversified, but they both start at the same point... so not really.

I'd say the 20th century [market performance] matters relatively little when calculating 21st century returns. This depends very much on the EROEI of oil-replacements (wind, solar, and battery storage). It is that number that determines which level/complexity of civilization can be sustained. (A lower value can maintain a preexisting one for a while but it's eventually gonna run down due to lack of maintenance.)

There's no chance of financial markets becoming entirely irrelevant on a wide scale although they can certainly become irrelevant on a local or regional scale. (See e.g. the losers of WWII) Markets have existed for at least 2000 years. There are some comments in the ERE book about "pig lending" and the kinds of interest rates derived from that hinting in the direction of the reader needing to do further research as they invest for the future (instead of the past).

I did "design" ERE to be a lot more resilient than FIRE.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:55 pm
by daylen
Great comic. I subscribed on Patreon for $1.03 a month. Word needs to get out.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:43 pm
by SavingWithBabies
This makes me wonder about solar but not just solar but sustainable solar that is created only using solar energy. I get the oil is and will be the bootstrap for solar (it's in the comic). The part I'm curious about is making solar cells efficiently without oil and how realistic that is. Solar cells degrade over time and accidents happen so they need to be replaced. And ideally, they could be made at greater than replacement rate to provide needed capacity. Really great comic though. I wonder how it will play out time-wise in terms of oil increasing in cost and people bootstrapping solar while lowering consumption to sustainable levels.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:18 am
by jacob
@SWB - That's where the EROEI concept enters. This essentially determines how many slaves are available for the rest of the economy. E.g. if it's 20, then 1/20=5% of the energy goes to replacing the energy. If it's 5 then 20% of the energy is held back to keep the system going. EROEI for fossil fuels are continuously dropping because it's getting harder and harder to find and extract (produce) energy; whereas PV is getting higher as technology improves.

However, calculating those values exactly is rather hard; especially since they rely on the current energy-mix. Nobody wants to do an experiment where a PV cell is built exclusively from machinery running on solar operated by a civilization that runs on solar. It's essentially an experiment we can't run in practice since all these energy systems are deeply integrated in the system.

It would be hard for me to imagine mining for rare earth metals with excavators running on solar. OTOH, there are battery driven semi-trucks at this point. In any case, a solar civilization is going to look very different from a carbon civilization.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:56 am
by daylen
The extra three cents is not from fees (I paid with debt card). I just like to be a little different, and three is my favorite number. On the website it states that fees can occur with select payment services such as PayPal. The following is from the website. I am not sure how this works in practice, though.
Payment Processing Fees - the cost of moving funds from your patrons to your creator balance. This fee can be viewed in your Dashboard and is listed as the "Processing Fees".

Payment processing fees represent the amount that our payment processors (e.g., Stripe and PayPal) charge each time they process a payment. Payment processors typically charge a percentage of each pledge plus a fixed number of cents.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:00 pm
by SavingWithBabies
@jacob EROEI is quite interesting and I stumbled across a prior thread that dives into this topic more: The true ERoEI of solar power today. I guess one approach is maybe to farm denser energy producing plants and then use those for energy intensive work. That would require a system of lower energy consumption mechanisms (robots? humans?) to do the work. Either way, the spike in energy cost is going to change our world. Well, maybe worlds at that point although maybe it is wishful thinking to even ponder that. And that takes me down the tangent of energy and the cost to actually colonize another planet.

I'm out of touch with science fiction but... Ah yes, "solar punk" exists. Interesting.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:12 pm
by jacob
The energy consumption of the energy production is inherent in the calculation.

Bio energy sources generally have shitty EREOIs and are barely viable. Corn ethanol was a huge failure because EROEI is ~1 and consequently just amounted to a giant farming subsidy that simultaneously drove up food prices. Brazil runs a bio fuel program based on sugarcane. Sugarcane has higher EROEI values and therefore works.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:10 am
by 7Wannabe5

Bushel corn = 2.5 gallons ethanol
25 bushels/acre = 1900 production level

You need high tech produced filters in order to produce very pure ethanol at home. I don't know what the very small amount of water left after standard distillation/evaporation would do to a small tractor engine over time, but if you are looking for solution that is sustainable in northern temperate climate outside of availability of access to advanced tech civilization then ethanol would beat PVC. Very small woodlot sustainable energy flow of 3% also needed to run still.

Generally, the trick is figuring out what other inputs are necessary in order to convert fund source into flow source. Electricity is not a problem if only used in the realm where it makes most sense, which is procurement or amplification of information; radio, lights, meters. So, 12 volt circuit should serve.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:29 am
by Sclass
Sad. People get rewarded for doing the wrong thing.

Re: Buckminster Fuller's Energy Slaves [Comic form]

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:03 am
by 7Wannabe5

I thought the old bit was interesting, because it shows a simple systems diagram with associated metrics and moral conclusions. Over the last 100 years, opinions on whether the corn should be converted to whiskey, pork, Fritos, ethanol, or food aid to Africa have varied. Meanwhile, recent “chemical/ gene” enhanced Farm Olympics have produced as much as 400 bushels/ acre. So, there is a level on which you can now have your whiskey, bar-b-que, chips, fuel, charity and more too! If you disregard fossil fund depletion and costs associated with waste disposal.

I really liked the book “Green Wizardry” by Greer, and one of the best notes he makes is that although you have to conceive of a boundary in order to diagram any system, most boundaries are either entirely imaginary or at best more like a membrane. There is no such place as “away.”