June 15, 2022

The Smart Thing To Do Right Now

It is said that you could line up all the economists in the world end to end and they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. 

However, more of them agree that a return to simplicity is the only way to deal with the multi-levered machine required to keep modern consumer economies functioning. 

They understand that the world has run out of the cheap, easy energy that created the complex consumer experiment. 

The cheap, easily accessed oil is gone, and it's not coming back.

No easy energy means no complex economies. They run on oil, and lots of it - 96 million barrels per day globally.

The following excerpt is from an article by an economist that is catching on to the power of simple (emphasis mine).

"The huge quantities of surplus energy involved explains why a large part of the population of western states have enjoyed a standard of living which would be the envy of kings, and, indeed, why we are ruled over by a handful of godzillionaires whose wealth is so vast as to make the Gods of Olympus jealous.


This is something of a problem because the world recently passed peak exergy (the amount left over after we have obtained the energy to begin with).

We will, of course, continue to extract ever more difficult and expensive fossil fuels, but their extraction will remorselessly consume an ever-greater part of the exergy previously available to the wider economy.  Which, in turn, means that the wider economy is going to shrink… and we have no economic theory to explain how we are going to handle this.

From this viewpoint, the smart thing to do today would be to simplify our way of life – and write-off a large part of the monetary claims on future exergy growth which will not be arriving – in order to bring our economies into line with the declining surplus energy available to us. 

The difference – at least for those who see the economy as primarily an energy rather than a monetary system – is that we have the necessary knowledge to avoid our complexity trap if only we are prepared to actively simplify away from an economy based on mass consumption in favour of one based around material simplicity…  I’m not holding my breath though."

There it is. 

Material simplicity is the only way, whether we like it or not. It has always been this way, and will always be this way.

Like I have been saying for over 10 years on this blog with stupefying repetitiveness,

     "Simplify now and avoid the rush".

Forward looking economists agree that it is the smart thing to do right now.

It also happens to be a lovely way to live.


  1. Nice to actually feel ahead of the game for a change.

  2. I don't know who the economist you're quoting is, but I give that person props for being honest: "...the wider economy is going to shrink… and we have no economic theory to explain how we are going to handle this." Thoreau said it decades ago: "Simplify, simplify, simplify."


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