After 10 years of mostly scientific work on understanding our human ecosystem, energy&stuff is IIER's first public outreach project. Given the very negative societal dynamics observed around the world, with hate and blame on the rise, we consider it relevant to instill a sense of reality into the discussion, hopefully supporting a different and more constructive dialogue moving forward.
There are so many things in life that can make you happier than "shopping therapy." We simply have to re-learn them. Once we embrace that and find ways to leave the struggle for "more" behind, we can live a great life with much less material wealth.
This website is providing you with many ideas and practical examples to make it happen in your personal life.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution in sight. If we don’t want to go down fighting, there is no choice but to embrace a life with less. There is enough evidence from around the world that happiness isn't tied to high incomes as long as our true needs are covered.
This means we have to give up our bad feelings and be happy about the fact that we can and will still be the richest humans of all times if we do things right.
Economic science teaches that energy and natural resources play no role and that growth will continue as long as there is more labor and capital, supported by increasing productivity.
For over two centuries, this was true, but now, we've reached the limit, and our plans no longer work. We need new economic theories, or more precisely, return to older ones.
For the first time in 250 years, energy and natural resources have become limiting factors for further growth. Extracting more of them is becoming increasingly difficult, making it hard to expand the economy further.
This is hard to grasp for all of us, as our brains work best when they extrapolate past experiences. If that fails, we are getting confused.
When trying to understand the reasons for our recent problems to maintain growth, we have to re-discover an old truth: more economic activity means more energy and resource use.
Photosynthetic plant growth has always been the driver of our prosperity, but since the beginning of the industrial revolution we are tapping into fossil solar power at breathtaking speed.
The drivers of most economic planning, labor, capital and their productivity, are at the core of the concept described by the Cobb-Douglas production function. Unfortunately, this "unlimited" view has hard limits in energy and resource availability that didn't matter during the 20th century.
Many advanced economies seem to have become much more energy- and resource-efficient during the past decades, emitting far less greenhouse gases per unit of economic output. Unfortunately, the largest part of those improvements exist only on paper, as globalization and the related de-industrialization have driven the "heavy lifting" elsewhere.