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1_Searching_for_a_Miracle_web10nov09

1_Searching_for_a_Miracle_web10nov09 - THE CONSERVATION...

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SEARCHING FOR A MIRACLE [ T H E C O N S E R V A T I O N I M P E R A T I V E ] by Richard Heinberg F o r e w o r d b y J e r r y M a n d e r A Joint Project of the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute. [ False Solution Series #4 ] September 2009
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SEARCHING FOR A MIRACLE ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society
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A CKNOWLEDGMENTS This document could not have been produced without the great help of several people. I particularly want to thank Prof. Charles Hall of Syracuse University, who has been a pioneer in developing the concept of “net energy,” (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) that is at the heart of this report.We also drew directly from his published research in several aspects of the document. Jerry Mander and Jack Santa Barbara of the International Forum on Globalization helped conceive of this project several years ago and stayed involved throughout, reading several drafts, and offering detailed editing, shaping and writing suggestions. Dr. David Fridley, Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, read a later draft and gave valuable tech- nical advice. Suzanne Doyle provided needed research and fact checking, and drafted the footnotes as well as several paragraphs.Alexis Halbert and Alina Xu of the IFG gathered many of the research materials on net energy, and engaged in some original research, and Victor Menotti of IFG offered important information on the state of climate negotiations.A special appreciation also goes to Asher Miller, my very supportive colleague, and ED of Post Carbon Institute. My profound thanks to all. Finally, I must acknowledge the pioneers who first understood the many profound dimensions of the relationships between energy and society; without their prior work this document could not even have been imagined: Frederick Soddy, Howard Odum, and M.King Hubbert. —Richard Heinberg Designer: Daniela Sklan Editor: Jerry Mander Editorial contributions: Jack Santa Barbara,Anne Leonard,Victor Menotti,Alexis Halbert,Alina Xu Proofreader: Elizabeth Garsonnin Diagrams,Tables, and other research: Suzanne Doyle Additional assistance: Kate Damasco, Claire Greensfelder,April McGill Cover Photo: iStock Printer: ChromaGraphics F UNDING S UPPORT : We offer very special thanks to the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation and the Santa Barbara Family Foundation for their very generous financial support for IFG’s “False Solutions” publications project.
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CONTENTS Foreword: Which Way Out? by Jerry Mander 1 One: Overview 7 Glossary of Terms What is Energy? Two: Nine Key Criteria: Comparing Energy Systems, and their Limits 15 1) Direct Monetary Cost 2) Dependence on Additional Resources 3) Environmental Impacts 4) Renewability 5) Potential Size or Scale of Contribution 6) Location of the Resource 7) Reliability 8) Energy Density a) Weight (or Gravimetric) Density b) Volume (or Volumetric) Density c) Area Density 9) Transportability Three: The Tenth Criterion:“ Net Energy ” (EROEI) 23 Returns on Investments (EROEI) Replacement of Human Energy
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