Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

John Daly at OilPrice.com reveals why the Natural Gas industry is doing so much advertising about the safety of fracking and the jobs that will be created.

All Those Oklahoma Earthquakes Over The Weekend Were Probably Caused By Fracking

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.

Why?

In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

The U.S. natural gas industry pumps a mixture of water and assorted chemicals deep underground to shatter sediment layers containing natural gas, a process called hydraulic fracturing, known more informally as “fracking.” While environmental groups have primarily focused on fracking’s capacity to pollute underground water, a more ominous byproduct emerges from U.S. government studies – that forcing fluids under high pressure deep underground produces increased regional seismic activity.

As the U.S. natural gas industry mounts an unprecedented and expensive advertising campaign to convince the public that such practices are environmentally benign, U.S. government agencies have determined otherwise.

Read more:
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/U.S.-Government-Confirms-Link-Between-Earthquakes-and-Hydraulic-Fracturing.html#ixzz1doi1HyJW

Life Support Systems

Human life depends on certain natural resources from ecosystems, sometimes called 'Life Support Systems,' such as clean air and water and nutritious food.

Modern methods of resource extraction, like industrial farming, fleet fishing, headwater pollution, and mountaintop removal, cause cumulative damage to these systems that is ignored or hidden by many of the powerful players who benefit.

Why the Climate Change and Peak Oil Movement Are Failing

John Michael Greer points out why the climate change and peak oil movements have very little traction among the powerful people who make the rules.

…three factors.

The first was the astonishing political naivete of the climate change movement. All through the last decade, that movement has allowed its opponents to define the terms of public debate, execute a series of efficient end runs around even the most telling points made by climate science, and tar the movement in ever more imaginative ways, without taking any meaningful steps to counter these moves or even showing any overt interest in learning from its failures. Partly this unfolds from the fixation of the American left on the experiences of the 1960s, a fixation that has seen one movement after another blindly following a set of strategies that have not actually worked since the end of the Vietnam war; partly, I suspect, it’s rooted in the background of most of the leading figures in the climate change movement, who are used to the very different culture of scientific debate and simply have no notion how to address the very different needs of public debate in society that does not share their values.

This latter point leads to the second primary factor in the failure of the climate change movement, which is the extent that it attempted to rely on the prestige of institutional science at a time when that prestige has undergone a drastic decline. The public has become all too aware that the expert opinion of distinguished scientists has become a commodity, bought and sold for a price that these days isn’t always discreetly disguised as grant money or the like. The public has also been repeatedly shown that the public scientific consensus of one decade is fairly often the discarded theory of the next. When you grow up constantly hearing from medical authorities that cholesterol is bad for you and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, and then suddenly he medical authorities are saying that polyunsaturated fats are bad for you and some kinds of cholesterol are good, a certain degree of blind faith in the pronouncements of scientists goes out the window.

Part of the problem here is the gap between the face institutional science presents to its practitioners and the face it shows to the general public. In the 1970s, for example, the public consensus among climate scientists was that the Earth faced a new ice age sometime in the not too distant future. This was actually only one of several competing views aired privately among scientists at the time, and there were spirited debates on the subject in climatological conferences and journals, but you wouldn’t have learned that from the books and TV programs, many of the former written by qualified scientists and most of the latter featuring them, that announced an imminent ice age to the world at large. It’s become fashionable in some circles just now to insist that that never happened, but the relics of that time are still to be found on library shelves and in museums. When I visited the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC a year ago, for example, the exhibit on ice age mammals had a fine example: an illuminated display, prominently located, explaining that scientists expected a new ice age sometime in the next millennium or so. An embarrassed staff member had taped up a makeshift sign next to it announcing that current scientific opinion no longer supported that claim, and the display would be replaced sometime soon.

The mental whiplash caused by sudden changes in scientific opinion, each one announced to the public in terms much less tentative than it generally deserves, has played a larger role in hamstringing climate change activism than most of its supporters may find it comfortable to admit. Notice, though, that the uncertain nature of scientific knowledge didn’t prevent the passage of the Endangered Species Act or a baker’s dozen of other environmental initiatives in the Seventies; in fact, the scientific community was far more divided over ecological issues at that time than it is about climate change today. That was arguably a benefit, because it forced proponents of environmental protection to approach it as a political issue, to get down into the mud wrestling pit with their opponents, and to address the hopes, fears, and concerns of the general public head on, in terms the public could understand and accept. By and large, climate change activists have not done this, and this is an important reason why they have been so thoroughly thrashed by the other side.

Still, I’ve come to think that a third factor has played at least as important a role in gutting the climate change movement. This is the pervasive mismatch between the lifestyles that the leadership of that movement have been advocating for everyone else and the lifestyle that they themselves have led. When Al Gore, after having been called out on this point, was reduced to insisting that his sprawling mansion has a lower carbon footprint than other homes on the same grandiose scale, he exposed a fault line that runs straight through climate change activism, and bids fair to imitate those old legends of California’s future and dump the entire movement into the sea.

…I long ago lost track of the number of times I’ve heard people in one or another corner of the activist scene throw up their hands in despair and describe the task of organizing people to seek some form of change or other as being like trying to herd cats. In point of fact, herding cats is one of the easiest things in the world. All you have to do is go to the place you want the cats to go, carrying with you a #10 can of tuna and an electric can opener. The moment the cats hear the whirr of the can opener and smell the fragrance of the tuna, they’ll come at a run, and you’ll have your herd exactly where you want them. Now of course that strategy assumes two things. It assumes that you’re willing to go to the place you want the cats to go, and it also assumes that you have something to offer them when they get there.

That sums up what has been one of the most critical problems with the climate change movement: it has been calling on the world to accept a lifestyle that the movement’s own leaders have shown no willingness to adopt themselves, and thus have been in no position to model for the benefit of others. That’s left the movement wide open to accusations that it means its policies to apply only to other people – accusations that have not exactly been quelled by the efforts of various countries, the US very much included, to push as much of the burden of carbon reduction as possible onto their political and economic rivals. I trust I don’t have to spell out how such suspicions will be amplified by Shearman’s cheerleading for exactly the sort of authoritarian politics in which some people’s carbon footprint would inevitably be more equal than others’.

All these points are profoundly relevant to the core project of this blog, for many of the weaknesses I’ve traced out are also found in the peak oil movement. That movement has no shortage of political naivete, and it has plenty of spokespeople who mistakenly assume that their professional expertise – significant as that very often is – can be cashed in at par for influence on public debate. It also has its share of leaders who are perfectly willing to talk in the abstract about how people need to ditch their autos and give up air travel, but insist that they themselves need their SUV for one reason or another and wouldn’t dream of going to the next ASPO conference by train. These are serious weaknesses; unchecked, they could be fatal.

Of course there are other, critical reasons why a certain degree of political sophistication, a recognition that expertise is not enough to carry public debates, and a willingness to embrace the lifestyles one proposes for others – and especially the last of these – are essential just now. The most important of those reasons is that in terms of industrial civilization’s energy future, it’s very late in the day.

Is Our Food Supply Sustainable?

John Michael Greer shows how common sense has been left behind by Big Agriculture. Does anyone see the link between rapid growth and bubbles that pop?

Link: Thinking like an Ecosystem

To grow food crops in today’s world, do you draw on the dozens of readily available and sustainable sources of plant nutrients, which happen to be the sources that plants have evolved to assimilate most readily? Do you cooperate with the soil’s ecology, which has coevolved with plants to store, distribute, and dispense these same nutrients to plants? Do you even recognize that food plants, like every other living thing, are part of ecological communities, and thrive best when those communities receive the very modest resources they need to flourish?

Not a chance. No, you get your nutrients from nonrenewable sources, because that’s where you can get them in chemically pure and highly concentrated forms, even though plants don’t benefit from having them in those forms; you treat soil as though it was a sterile medium serving only to hold plants upright and provide a sponge to hold irrigation water and chemicals, and then do your best to make it a sterile medium; you use chemical poisons to stomp the crap out of any attempt by any other living thing to help form an ecosystem involving your plants; and then you wonder why you’re stuck in a perpetual uphill battle against declining soil fertility, chemical-resistant weeds and bugs, water supplies poisoned with chemical runoff, and all the rest of it.If some evil genius had set out to invent an agricultural system that was guaranteed to self-destruct as messily as possible, I’m not sure he could have done a better job.

Still, because these are the customs we’ve all grown up with, the ways of thinking fostered by this sort of giddy ecological idiocy seem like common sense to most people. Recent discussions about “peak phosphorus” are a case in point. Our current agriculture relies on mineral phosphates, which are mined from a small number of highly concentrated phosphate rock deposits that located in odd corners of the world and are being depleted at a rapid pace. (Does this sound familiar?) The conclusion too often drawn from this is that the world faces mass starvation in the near future, because you can’t grow food crops without phosphate for fertilizer, and where will we get the phosphate?

There’s a point to these worries, since our current agricultural system is probably incapable of churning out food at anything like its current pace without those rapidly depleting mineral inputs, and even the very rapid expansion of organic farming under way in North America and elsewhere probably won’t be fast enough to prevent shortfalls. Still, it has too often been generalized into a claim that the exhaustion of rock phosphate reserves means inevitable mass famine, and this is true only to the extent that current notions of industrial agriculture remain welded into place and nobody gets to work building the next agriculture in the interstices of the present system.

It may already have occurred to my readers, after all, and has certainly occurred to me, that somehow plants grew all over the world’s land surfaces in vast abundance for something like three quarters of a billion years without any phosphate fertilizer at all. If this suggests that there’s something wrong with the logic that insists that we can’t grow plants without chemicals, it should. Nor are food crops somehow uniquely dependent on stuff out of test tubes.

 

Climate Change and Politics in Copenhagen: We Won’t Get Fooled Again?

I'm so tired of being misled by our leaders that I search for people who don't sugarcoat what they see happening. This leads to inner conflict: the satisfaction of getting a somewhat realistic view of the problems that we face up the creek, and anger from realizing that how skilled our leaders are at promising to solve problems to gain power.

John Michael Greer doesn't sugarcoat what he sees. Below are some excerpts from his recent essay on the politics of climate change conference in Copenhagen. Don't read this unless you enjoy dark humor and you want to become more cynical. The realization that there are no easy solutions is always very difficult to swallow.

Link: The Archdruid Report: The Human Ecology of Collapse.

The question that has to be asked is whether a modern industrial society can exist at all without vast and rising inputs of essentially free energy, of the sort only available on this planet from fossil fuels, and the answer is no.

…will somebody please explain to me someday how a head of state got given the Nobel Peace Prize while he was enthusiastically waging two wars?

Meanwhile the socialists are insisting that it’s all capitalism’s fault and can be solved promptly by a socialist revolution, never mind the awkward little fact that the environmental records of socialist countries are by and large even worse than those of capitalist ones; other radicalisms of left and right make the same claim as the socialists, often with even less justification.

I think a great many people are beginning to realize that whatever results come out of Copenhagen, a meaningful response to the increasing instability of global climate will not be among them.

Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that Obama agreed to cut US carbon emissions far enough to make a real impact on global climate change. Would those cuts happen? No, because Congress would have to agree to implement them, and Congress – even though it is controlled by a Democratic majority – has so far been unable to pass even the most ineffectual legislation on the subject.

Suppose the improbable happened, and both Obama and Congress agreed to implement serious carbon emission cuts. What would the result be? Much more likely than not, a decisive Republican victory in the 2010 congressional elections, followed by the repeal of the laws mandating the cuts. Carbon emissions can’t be cut by waving a magic wand; the cuts will cost trillions of dollars at a time when budgets are already strained, and impose steep additional costs throughout the economy.

any nation that accepts serious carbon emission cuts will place itself at a steep economic disadvantage compared to those nations that don’t.

Business executives whose companies will bear a large share of the costs of curbing carbon emissions have funded some very dubious science, and some even more dubious publicity campaigns, in order to duck those costs; academics have either tailored their findings to climb onto the climate change bandwagon, or whored themselves out to corporate interests willing to pay handsomely for anyone in a lab coat who will repeat their party line; politicians on both sides of the aisle have distorted facts grotesquely to further their own careers.

Beneath all the yelling, though, are a set of brutal facts nobody is willing to address. Whether or not the current round of climate instability is entirely the product of anthropogenic CO2 emissions is actually not that important, because it’s even more stupid to dump greenhouse gases into a naturally unstable climate system than it would be to dump them into a stable one. Over the long run, the only level of carbon pollution that is actually sustainable is zero net emissions, and getting there any time soon would require something not far from the dismantling of industrial society and its replacement with something much less affluent.

Even if it turns out to be possible to power something like an industrial society on renewable resources, the huge energy, labor, and materials costs needed to develop renewable energy and replace most of the infrastructure of today’s society with new systems geared to new energy sources will have to be paid out of existing supplies; thus everything else would have to be cut to the bone, or beyond.

I long ago lost track of the number of global warming bumper stickers I’ve seen on the rear ends of SUVs.

Nobody, but nobody, is willing to deal with the harsh reality of what a carbon-neutral society would have to be like. This is what makes the blame game so popular, and it also provides the impetus behind meaningless gestures of the sort that are on the table at Copenhagen.

a strong case can be made that the most viable option for anyone in a leadership position is to enjoy the party while it lasts, and hope you can duck the blame when it all comes crashing down.

the immediate costs of doing something about the issue are so high, and so unendurable, that very few people in positions of influence are willing to stick their necks out, and those who do so can count on being shortened by a head by others who are more than willing to cash in on their folly.

Atlanta is the Most Toxic City in the U.S.?

According to Forbes.com, Atlanta's combination of air pollution and atmospheric chemicals makes it the most toxic city in the country. Forbes said that the city of Atlanta isn't solely to blame for its pollution — suburbs such as Sandy Springs and Marietta are major contributors to the area's toxicity. Both towns, it said, contain chemical plants, metal coaters and concrete factories.

We live 20 miles north of Atlanta – this is not good news for us.

Link: America's Most Toxic Cities

Toxic Cities ranking Metro Area Number of EPA Responses in Principal City Number of facilities releasing toxic chemicals Pounds of toxic chemicals released in area Air Quality Ranking, 2007
1 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metro Area 58 277 41,502,855 28
2 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI Metro Area 68 281 42,051,308 22
3 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI Metro Area 104 773 77,632,218 2
3 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX Metro Area 50 432 88,754,384 10
5 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area 86 341 24,693,320 11
6 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH Metro Area 25 299 24,475,620 18
7 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA Metro Area 99 480 10,391,461 7
8 Jacksonville, FL Metro Area 70 73 15,164,615 37
9 Baltimore-Towson, MD Metro Area 37 99 29,793,565 24
10 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA Metro Area 28 177 12,437,004 26
11 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area 34 332 6,605,651 15
12 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metro Area 15 243 11,442,042 29
13 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL Metro Area 19 63 15,773,627 38
14 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC Metro Area 18 132 15,267,370 25
15 Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area 24 139 10,427,215 21
16 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area 42 81 2,368,807 40
16 St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area 19 211 33,051,384 4
16 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area 53 135 4,214,706 23
19 Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN Metro Area 15 235 22,901,153 13
20 Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area 7 247 81,634,235 9
21 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN Metro Area 16 127 21,990,812 17
22 San Antonio, TX Metro Area 17 75 5,449,175 36
23 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area 33 98 17,927,627 7
24 Columbus, OH Metro Area 12 123 5,295,408 34
24 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area 12 259 15,543,283 6
24 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metro Area 10 127 6,145,119 34
27 Denver-Aurora, CO Metro Area 26 105 4,880,332 18
28 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area 10 99 8,530,127 31
29 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH Metro Area 7 278 3,106,166 20
30 Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA Metro Area 4 179 2,898,776 30
31 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area 2 452 9,897,930 5
31 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metro Area 33 203 3,067,616 1
33 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area 17 81 417,505 33
34 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area 6 63 10,157,973 32
35 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA Metro Area 16 77 2,425,896 27
36 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area 12 135 4,225,497 16
37 Austin-Round Rock, TX Metro Area 4 44 660,611 39
38 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area 11 160 2,082,462 3
39 Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA Metro Area 13 55 659,865 14
40 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV Metro Area 5 50 2,075,237 11

Teddy Roosevelt Quote on Preserving Beautiful Places

There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.

President Teddy Roosevelt, 1903

http://www.nps.gov/thro/historyculture/theodore-roosevelt-quotes.htm

Ann Coulter Says We Should “Rape the Planet”

Ann Coulter knows how to sell books and antagonize me. While I don't want to give her more publicity, some of her quotes are just too brazen to ignore. Here's an example:

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that's the Biblical view.

Ann Coulter

BTW: How many children does she have that will have to live on the raped planet?

A Glaring Flaw in Economics Dogma Is Being Exposed

More than a century ago, John Muir theorized that ice-age glaciers carved out Yosemite valley into the beautiful rock formations that we see today. Geologists ridiculed him, because he was not trained as a geologist and thus his ideas were heresy. Muir was right, of course, and I doubt that the geologists apologized to him.

Similarly, John Michael Greer is looking at economics from a perspective untainted by economic dogma. He uses organic agriculture, in contrast to industrial agriculture, as his metaphor. He builds on the work of E.F. Schumacher to describe a "primary" economy that is ignored by most economists (which may explain why our economy is such a mess).

I've included some excerpts below in the hope that anyone concerned about future generations  might click on the link below and read the whole essay. And while you are there, read the comments. His audience has some great questions and insight, especially on the topic of  the value of land and organic farming.

Link: The Archdruid Report: The Wealth of Nature.

… a society that permits the advantages of ecological abuse to go to individuals, while the costs are shared by the whole society, is effectively subsidizing the destruction of its environment.

…fertile land suitable for growing crops does not simply happen. Like anything else of value, it must be made, and once made, it must be maintained; the only difference is that the laborers that make and maintain it do not happen to be human beings.

Soil suitable for crops, after all, is not simply rock dust. A large part of it – sometimes more than half – is organic matter, some living, some dead but not yet wholly decayed, some dissolved into organic colloids complex enough to give analytical chemists sleepless nights, and all of it is put there by the activity of living things over long periods of time. Energy and raw materials flow through soil, uniting bacteria, fungi, algae, worms, insects, and many other living things into one of the most intricate ecosystems on Earth. Plants participate in and depend on this bewilderingly complex world; they draw water and mineral nutrients from it, and cycle leaves and a wide range of chemical compounds back into it.

The farmer who wants to grow crops is attempting to extract wealth from the underground ecosystem of the soil. She can ignore that, and simply plant and harvest with no attention to the needs of the soil, but the soil will be depleted of nutrients in a few years and her crops will fail. Alternatively, she can replace nutrients with chemical fertilizers, predators with pesticides, and so on; if she does this she will have to use steadily larger doses of chemicals to get the same yields, and when the chemical feedstocks run out – as they eventually will – she will be left with soil too sterile and pest-ridden to grow much of anything. If she wants to fulfill Ricardo’s promise and hand the land on to her grandchildren in the same condition that it came from her grandparents, she will have to provide the things the soil needs for its long-term health. Put another way, she will have to barter with the soil, giving it the things it will accept in exchange for crops.

This is the premise of organic agriculture, of course. It’s a premise that has proven itself over millennia, in the Asian farming regions that inspired the organic pioneers of the early 20th century to devise a more general way of doing the same thing, and over decades, in the farms now using organic methods to get yields roughly comparable to those of chemical agriculture. The organic approach has many dimensions, but one may not have received the importance it deserves. To an organic farmer, land is not a commodity that can be owned but a community with which she interacts, and that community has its own economy on which the farmer’s own economy depends.

The same thing is true of every other form of economic activity, though the dependence on nature may be less obvious in some cases than in others. Behind the human activities that produce secondary goods lie nonhuman activities that produce primary goods – the biological cycles that yield soil fertility, crop pollination, and countless other things; the hydrological cycles that put fresh water into reservoirs and taps; the tectonic processes in the crust that put economically useful metals and minerals into veins in the rocks; and, of central importance just now, the extraordinarily complex interplay of biological and geological processes that stored away countless billions of tons of carbon under the earth’s surface in the form of fossil fuels.

Conventional economics assumes that these things get there by some materialist equivalent of divine fiat. This misstates the situation disastrously. Primary goods are produced by an exact analogue of the way that secondary goods are produced: raw materials are transformed, through labor, using existing capital and energy, to produce goods and services of value. The difference is simply that all this takes place in the nonhuman world. Human beings do not manage the production of primary goods, and the disastrous results of trying to do so suggest that we probably never will; on the other hand, in at least some cases – maltreated farmland is a good example – we can interfere with the production of primary goods, and suffer the consequences.

… The cycles of nature that produce goods needed by human beings constitute the primary economy, while the process by which human beings produce goods is the secondary economy. The secondary economy depends utterly on the primary in at least two ways. First, as discussed last week, something like three-quarters of all economic value in today’s world is produced by nature – that is, by the primary economy – and only around a quarter is produced by human labor. Second, even that quarter is made directly or indirectly from primary goods, and cannot be made at all if the necessary primary goods aren’t there. This is why the attempt to replace a depleted natural resource with something else always involves substitution costs: human labor must be brought in to replace some part of the work previously done by nature, and the costs of that part of the work thus end up having to be paid out of the secondary economy.

We have become so used to thinking of economics as a matter of human labor that it’s probably best to point out that what are sometimes called “primary industries” – farming, mining, and the like – belong to the secondary economy, not the primary one. The primary economy consists wholly of those nonhuman processes that yield economic goods to human beings. Thus a farm and the crops grown on it are part of the secondary economy, while the soil, water, sun, and genetic potential in the seed stock that make the farm and its crops possible are part of the primary economy. In the same way, a mine is part of the secondary economy, while the slow geological processes that put ore in the ground where it can be mined are part of the primary economy. If you examine any human economic activity, you’ll find behind it natural processes that make that activity possible; those processes are the inputs from the primary economy that make the secondary economy possible.

Thus Adam Smith’s dictum cited earlier badly needs reformulation. The product of the natural environment of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessities and conveniences of life; the annual human labor is simply the energy input required to turn some of that product into forms useful for human beings. The wealth of nations, it turns out, is ultimately the wealth of nature, and the sooner the value of natural cycles and primary goods is taken into account, the better chance our descendants will have of avoiding the self-defeating habits that are pushing modern industrial system down the long road to collapse. To do so, however, will require a clear sense of the difference between value and price, or to put matters another way, between wealth and money – the theme of next week’s post.

I recommend that you read the whole essay and comments at this link: The Wealth of Nature.