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 […]

Energy and society – it’s complex

At first glance, it is quite evident that society and its development depend on energy. But it takes a second, deeper look to grasp the complexity of this dependency and how that relates to innovation. Today, I’d like to develop a narrative for the nexus of energy, society, complexity, and innovation, building the storyline around two books I’ve come […]

When energy flow broke free …

From an energy perspective, you might split the entire history of mankind in just two phases: one before, and the other after the Industrial Revolution. Before that incisive event, an archaic pattern of energy flow ruled: muscle was the main source of energy to fulfil human needs; this source was decentralised and easily available to everybody, but […]

When limited energy flow constrained innovation

Since the Industrial Revolution, human life on this planet has changed dramatically: spurred by technological progress, society escaped the Malthusian Trap to become ever more numerous and ever more prosperous, while energy consumption increased by several orders of magnitude, both collective and per capita. Throughout this stormy development, energy played a double role: on one hand, increasing […]

Energy for innovation

As the key resource that defines our standard of living, energy has shaped the evolution of our culture not just for decades or centuries, but since the beginning of human society. A wide variety of investigations in cultural anthropology took a deep dive into the effect of energy in the development of human culture. To give just a few examples: In 1959, Lesley White […]