SPECIFICS: (internal growth, storage, or contraction)

   What actually is internal growth or contraction of an energy system like a national society made up of millions of people? In times of new, temporary, gross surplus of left-side energy inputs, the right-side outputs are relatively small. The system has an inherent natural impetus to grow.  This is manifested as skyscrapers, super highways, millions of cars, and most importantly ... population growth.

   A surplus of energy, which vastly increases food supply without the usual proportionate manual labor requirement, especially encourages and facilitates growth. More food equals more mouths to feed. This is a basic natural effect, which only works until a new higher limit of carrying capacity is reached to balance the temporary surplus of INPUT energy. At this point, growth can no longer continue. The new population level is restrained by a ceiling dictated by the balance of input and output energy in all its forms.

   A mathematician, Thomas Robert Malthus, proposed this concept in his 1798 publication, “An Essay On The Principle Of Population.” He used the term “misery” for the result when the natural tendency of a population to expand clashes with the maxed-out carrying capacity for a particular society. This is true of all the animal kingdom. Humans are no exception.  The tenuous conflict between food and other essentials ruled for all of human history until the short fossil-energy age temporarily proved Malthus wrong. Now we’re in serious trouble because we’re not only bumping against a much higher resource ceiling, but the temporary resource bonanza of finite energy is beginning to decline. The ceiling is coming down with no hope of further growth. We’re running out of gas.


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