Disrupting energy and production – Why

The Industrial Revolution essentially was an energy revolution: we learned to harness energy way beyond the natural sources we had used thus far. Instead of relying on renewables such as muscle (ox, horse, and man), wood, water, or wind, we increasingly utilised fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to power the dizzying progress we have […]

The Third of the Grand Revolutions

There’s a lot of talk about the Digital Revolution and the effects it had, has, might have. Let’s take a step back to put things into perspective: Could it be that this revolution is a lot larger than we usually think? Are we currently experiencing the beginnings of a major transformation not only of our technological base, but of the very […]

The limits of complexity

In our daily lives, we are engulfed with complexity. It is all around us: just think about business transactions, global trade, health care systems, jet engines, the energy grid, the tax code, computers, … Many would even add the remote control of their stereo or the radio in their car to that list.  Yet despite that almost permanent […]

Energy and society – an accident waiting to happen?

Energy, society, complexity and innovation are intertwined through a multitude of interrelations that are sometimes difficult to grasp. In an earlier post, I’ve offered a storyline to describe this nexus, based on the considerations of Joseph Tainter and Ian Morris. In essence, the energy supply available to a society poses a limit on the complexity this society can […]

Energy and society – some simple charts …

Recently I’ve presented some ideas on the complex interrelation between energy, society, and innovation. As you might have expected, the textual description of that topic is complex as well; hence I’ve worked on some simple charts to support the overall storyline. A first simple overview could look like two cycles connected through innovation. On the left, you’ll find […]