On the cusp of collapse: complexity, energy, and the globalised economy

This week’s excerpt from Fleeing Vesuvius is by David Korowicz and provides a useful overview of the challenges discussed in the book.

The systems on which we rely for our financial transactions, food, fuel and livelihoods are so inter-dependent that they are better regarded as facets of a single global system. Maintaining and operating this global system requires a lot of energy and, because the fixed costs of operating it are high, it is only cost-effective if it is run at near full capacity. As a result, if its throughput falls because less energy is available, it does not contract in a gentle, controllable manner. Instead it is subject to catastrophic collapse.

Read the whole article

We will soon have completed our task of uploading the entire original text of Fleeing Vesuvius to the web. After that’s done, we’ll be adding several new chapters which come from the Austalasian edition, published in the summer of 2011.

Featured image: smoke 5. Author: zuwiu. Source: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1361005

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