Charlie Hall on ERoEI

21 04 2017




4 responses

21 04 2017

It’s a cogent criticism of the “Fairy Tales” that pass for economics today.
It deserves nothing less!

22 04 2017

I think that he’s got part of the picture. Energy is important in an ecosystem, but it is an error to suggest that it is most important. Matter and information are also important. Asking which is most important is asking a nonsense question.

In my opinion, he also makes a mistake when he asks, “Why should economics be a social science (and not a natural science)?” I think economics should not be any kind of science. It should be an engineering discipline concerned with social systems and institutions for acquiring, transforming, and distributing resources to meet human needs. Like any other engineering discipline, it should be based on scientific knowledge and understanding. THe sciences that provide input to an economist (an engineer) include many of the hard (natural) sciences and many of the soft (social) sciences. A very important science providing input to this engineering discipline shares a root in its name, ecology. Ecology is the science studying the movement of matter in, the flows of energy through, and the transfers/exchanges of information between members of a community involving all the living organisms and their environment in a definable open system.

22 04 2017

” it is an error to suggest that it is most important”

Oh no it isn’t……. without energy, NOTHING happens. Not even information. The growth in solar energy cannot even keep up with the growth of the internet..

And if by ‘matter’ you mean resources, try mining those without loads of energy.

22 04 2017

No reason to become excited, Mike, if I failed to make what I wrote clear to you. You might consider Einstein’s well-known equation e=m (I use a system of units in which c=1), which essentially means that matter and energy are different sides of one coin. To assert that one side of a coin is the “more important” side is absurd, in my opinion, because without both sides it is not a coin.

Information is more problematic because of our very meager understanding of what it is. Information is critical for living organisms. This is clear from the central role that the “invention” of the first written language a few billion years ago played in the process of biological evolution. We are still a long way from being able to fully translate that language into terms we understand.

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