The World of Babel

There is a lot of chatter around, with no understanding of the real issues. I’m sorry, but I’m going to defend this position for once.. The nonsense I hear and see in talk shows, news, or read in newspapers, regarding climate and environment, is really unlimited. What they add to the discussions is outrageous, its from a limited human view of things, that of 1 species that is navel-gazing.

There is only 1 reality, and it is physical.

The destruction of the earthly paradise that is going on, is physical, has nothing to do with what we think of it, also has nothing to do with money, nothing to do with philosophical or psychological views, but has everything and exclusively to do with matter and energy, and conversions thereof. And in every conversion, physical quality is lost. Currently in an unprecedented quantity and speed, against which even evolution seems unable to cope. Technology, innovation, growth, in all forms it comes along , all chattering optimists , to the grave .

Green Growth then? Growth is mainly financial meant, that is, GDP. But whatever color growth may have, it requires energy and raw materials, so any growth doesn’t solve anything. Yes, if you relate everything to CO2, then you could think we are doing a good job, but I have said it many times before, CO2 is an effect, not a cause, you do not solve the cause so there is still exhaustion of energy and raw materials. But people don’t understand that because they don’t have a clue about physics. Only about money. And property, and stuff.

Life is all about physics: And physics dictates, that is, as we have discovered laws of physics, that everything degrades. Nothing disappears, but it turns into lower qualities, that is the uni-directional path that everything and everyone has to go through: energy dissipates like infrared, humans decay into nutrients for other species, raw materials degenerate into dust, un-concentrated and unusable.

The only real growth that is relevant , is that of biomass and biodiversity, from which everything is derived, even fossil, and even ourselves. We are also that biodiversity. Which, by the way, we are eradicating across the board. And we chat and chat.

Biodiversity, and its biomass, the main driver of quality growth on this island in space, and on which we depend, is being depleted and given no chance to recover, to close the cycles. While these are the necessary growth processes that are interrupted and thus hinder (re-)organization of matter. Organization that in turn is necessary for other matter to also organize itself, all physical processes that involve energy and material, trying to organize quality. Processes that would also take place without mankind around. That is, even more , because we actually hinder them. We degrade quality and hinder recovery. For stuff that we think is valuable but is in fact worthless to the ecosystem. No added value at all. Physical value, that is.

But that is not what people chat about . The species, is mostly concerned with itself, and how to arrange things among themselves. Chatting about trade, economics, rights, money flows, subsidies, in relation to environment and climate , but in that context all completely irrelevant . Narcissism of one species, who thinks they can arrange everything with their own invented money. But all completely irrelevant when it comes to the future, to the physical ability of the system to ensure sufficient quality of energy food and raw materials, and an ecological system required to boost that process.

Anyway, many other species like humans have already gone extinct without even knowing this, and this species is also well on its way, so nothing special really.

It’s all pure physics: thermodynamically, with every step or change, quality , or power to change things, is lost, and the more steps or the more actions or conversions, the more and faster quality is lost. The more technical development and the more products for change, the faster that depletes the system, or extends or even hinders recovery time.

Growth can be only to the extent that we succeed in capturing solar energy in biomass, in land yield ( or sea) . And what is not captured is gone. Reflected, or converted to infrared and back into space. And there are no other ways to capture it, that is, it all starts with solar radiation. Once you have it, then you can transform it, and store it in multiple ways, but each step is loss again. From the moment the solar radiation enters our world, it becomes less useful with each step.

Take food. First a simple procedure, some potatoes harvested from the backyard vegetable garden, cook them and done. But more and more processing has been organized around food, reducing the efficiency that food has, until it even works the other way around, that more energy goes in producing than comes out, even with free solar energy included. In the Netherlands, the average amount of energy that goes into agriculture is six times the amount that comes out as food energy. And that is even only the ‘upstream’ part counted. Not yet counted the losses downstream after harvest: transport, processing, refrigeration, storage, supermarket, and cooking. Dutch agriculture, or our food chain sustainable? Laughable.

And all just continue to chat about products and technology and innovation, and rolling out new techniques. Forgive them because they don’t know what they are talking about. They keep thinking in products, a great lust for everything new, but products which are completely useless for the functioning of nature, the system, biodiversity, evolution. Exclusively meant for the comfort of 1 species among those millions of other species.

A species that, lazily lying on the couch with a remote control , switches between chat programs. Or itself chatting about climate and sustainability under the heat lamps on the cafe-terrace in winter.

Even our current so-called sustainability policies, energy transition and the like, can only be achieved by the grace of resource depletion, and unbridled use of fossil fuels. The destruction of the system is accelerating. You can make good money out of it though. And that is precisely what it is all about. And about payback times. Of money they mean. But physical payback? Like ‘ regrow times? Huh? What’s that?

I now understand where that story about the tower of Babel comes from. It’s not just that tower, it’s the world. Of the one kind, that is. The world of Babel.



PS: Yes but what about growth and decoupling….?

As soon as energy and materials are involved, growth is a burden. Green or not.

Growth and decoupling: there is indeed a difference in some cases. But: energy and material never goes down, it just goes up less. In other words, we’re still going down the drain, but less fast. That just says we are doing some things a little bit smarter, but still doing them. After all, it can’t go down anyhow, since everything we do has energy and material effects. That is a physical fact , otherwise nothing happens.

But then for the other side of the equation: where is the increase in GNP in that, if there is decoupling? It is not in how well we manage energy and raw materials, but in how we manage money. Its more money that is involved ! I haven’t researched that specifically, but probably that goes into things like cleaning up the mess, of pollution in all forms. Or the reception, of asylum seekers, which will increase. Then money circulation does increase, but with no net increase in prosperity and no net increase in efficiency. In fact, you would have to deduct it, and then the decoupling gap would close again…. ( After all, GDP increases with bad work: more maintenance…and thus mostly labor).

Author: ronald rovers