Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Energy Standard Redux

by ChrisCook Thu Sep 12th, 2013 at 02:13:02 PM EST

A hat tip here to my friend John Rogers, who has spent a great many years in the trenches working on community currencies.

HG Wells wrote A Modern Utopia in 1905 in which he imagined an economic system that preserved gold as the medium of exchange but NOT as the standard of value, which instead would be based on energy units. Entertaining and interesting!

This from Chapter Three (my bold)

"Moreover, one may imagine Utopian local authorities making contracts in which payment would be no longer in coinage upon the gold basis, but in notes good for so many thousands or millions of units of energy at one or other of the generating stations.

Now the problems of economic theory will have undergone an enormous clarification if, instead of measuring in fluctuating money values, the same scale of energy units can be extended to their discussion, if, in fact, the idea of trading could be entirely eliminated.

In my Utopia, at any rate, this has been done, the production and distribution of common commodities have been expressed as a problem in the conversion of energy, and the scheme that Utopia was now discussing was the application of this idea of energy as the standard of value to the entire Utopian coinage."

Wells envisaged electricity currency and an electricity standard, but as I have pointed out recently, a unit of energy may have manifestations other than electricity, and an energy standard is independent of the variations of energy currencies whose relative values may be priced by reference both to it, and the relative locations of issuer and user.

The application of least energy cost principles leads - as the Danes demonstrate in practice - to completely different outcomes to the application of least fiat unit cost principles.

Recently, I read Jaron Lanier's latest book (see http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2013/8/11/204018/546) because an interview with Lanier led me to believe there would be a discussion of the confluence of energy, information, and economics.  Wasn't there that I could see.

R Buckminster Fuller too was interested in energy as a unit of economic value.  I would suggest that it is not energy but actually exergy, the thermodynamic term for the ability to do work, that should be the standard.  For instance, in the 2012 US energy budget, only 39% of the energy produced was used for actual work.  61% was "rejected energy," most probably waste heat and transmission losses.

I would also suggest that you take a look at the work of Ralph Borsodi and his experiment with a local currency based upon a market basket of useful goods, the Constant:  

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Fri Sep 13th, 2013 at 03:19:52 PM EST
Interesting! An H.G. Wells Utopia that I haven't read. But then my topic was his utopian novels. But that was one year shy of half a century ago.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2013 at 08:11:22 PM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]