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I am skeptical of the distinction between "energy" and "raw materials." Energy, in the final analysis, is simply another raw material, not so different from many other.

The fundamental difference is between sustainable and unsustainable (use of) resources. Harvesting more of an unsustainable resource does not make you wealthier, for the same reason drawing down your bank account does not make you wealthier. Harvesting more of a sustainable resource (subject to the boundary condition that it remains sustainable) makes you wealthier, for the same reason getting a better paid job makes you wealthier.

Using resources more efficiently makes you wealthier, of course, for the same reason paying less rent on the same house makes you wealthier.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:41:00 PM EST
A good abstraction -

  1. Sustainable resources
  2. Unsustainable resources
  3. Human labour

For time bound resources - e.g. labour it's clear that using the resource more efficiently allows something else to be done. But as I note, our current system is really bad at getting something else done.

Likewise, while some kind of inter temporal thinking is clearly correct, I'm wary of the hand-waving that is often done around this at the moment, because it seems to lead inexorably to not doing things.

Using less steel to build a train carriage makes us wealthier because there's more steel left to do something else with. But the question is, do we?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 06:54:21 AM EST
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I like to distinguish between renewable, reusable and consumable resources, because they have subtly different characteristics.

Making it:

Consumables
Reusables
Renewables
Labor

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 07:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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