Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 07:55:56 AM EST
As I write this, I am pouring a glass of Casal Garcia, a Green (Green-White) wine from Northern Portugal. A bottle costs 659 Escudos (3.29 Frank-Marks if you are so interested) at Continente (a chain of big supermarkets around here). Much better than any plonk you can buy at Tesco's by the way.
The CEO of the company owning Continente (one of the two richest Portuguese) went for a meal in the Douro Valey a few months ago, he was entertaining some foreigners. He asked for a few bottles of Barca Velha (google for it). The meal had a cost in the 4-5 digit range (In Frank-Marks, mind you), lets say 5000 Euros (I do not know the precise value).
While I like Portuguese Green wine a lot, I have a distaste for Portuguese Beer. I can drink German beer, but mostly I have a soft spot for American beer (Having spent quite some time in the micro-brewery state of Montana). My favourite is actually a pretty common beer (in the US, at least): Blue Moon (sometimes called a "Belgian" White type of beer by gringos).
You might consider the discussion above quite boring. Self-centred maybe. Surely useless.
It is actually useless, but for another reason: it talks about money. It is quite interesting if you redo the paragraphs above in energy terms.
from the diaries, with minor edit - Nomad
A bottle of Casal Garcia is only slightly cheaper than a bottle of Barca Velha in energy terms. A bottle of Barca Velha is cheaper compared with a couple of bottles of Blue Moon.
What money buys is status and pedigree, mostly. In energy terms, money is actually a bad proxy of value - especially in terms of human consumption where symbolic value tends to be the factor. But back to energy: For the Brit readership think for a second about M&S "Fresh orange juice flown from Valencia TODAY" or "Fresh fruit from KENYA overnight".
While these examples over-exaggerates things, I would suggest that there is a grain of truth to it: Wealth inequity is lower when measured in energy than in money. Especially in the Western world. Especially if you measure consumption. I am aware that are many examples to counter this, but I am not looking for perfect correlation, just a rough rule that makes some sense. And I think this one does.
Now for the sweet part.
I will suggest that the current crisis is a way to make the vast majority (i.e. you and me and most people in the Western world) to consume less in energy terms (and other natural resources). The planet is approaching a few limits, part of humanity (aka the Southern hemisphere) is raising its standards, this creates competition for scarce resources.
There are many ways for a dynamic, highly-complex system to adjust. We need to downscale (I am assuming here that some natural resources are becoming scarce - you might disagree). This is a away. Like many others possible. I am not saying that it is my favourite. I am not saying that it will end well. Just that, in one way or the other, we need to de-growth in real terms. The current (obnoxious) way, actually does it. Money might stay stable or increase (especially the concentration in the hands of a few) but resource consumption goes DOWN (which has to happen).
Inequality as a way to lower consumption of natural resources.