Towards a Financial Reset: Assessing what we owe to our planet

Presenting world debt as energy, assigned to our planet as creditor

This article builds on the concept that global human debt can be assigned to an energy deficit with our planet, and thus repaid by appropriate installation and utilisation of solar power.

Background

We’ve seen that global debt is accelerating, with (Until recently), no conceivable way to balance.

It is also apparent that literally billions of people worldwide are being made redundant by an ever automating system, driven by one thing only; profit.

Further, we can see a growing impact on our environment, with seemingly no way to reverse the damage being done.

Various schemes of debt jubilee have been discussed, but none seem satisfactory; none actually fixing the ongoing problems of recurring financial difficulties, and manufactured environmental disaster.

It is becoming clear that as a global population, we are actually processing something on a continuous, accelerating, ongoing basis, which our global zero-sum economy cannot support.

To fix permanently, we need to correctly identify and introduce exactly what it is we are dealing with, and where it comes from, to our economy.

The thing we are dealing with of course, is energy.

The source of it is the massively powerful donor of the sun, which donates all, effortlessly to all of us and our world, on an ongoing basis, with nothing asked in return.

To utilise it correctly, efficiently, removing our dependence from Earth resources, and correcting all of the other problems, we must convert our human financial debt entirely, directly, to what it actually represents, energy donated in the first place, to Earth, by the sun.

It makes perfect sense to consider what we now see is an otherwise unmanageable financial debt, as a kind of overdraft, or an IOU, of the real thing which is actually on loan, the energy taken from our planet.

That done, continuous stimulus can be commenced indefinitely, secured against the main bulk of free money issued being towards implementation of sufficient solar energy to begin repaying the IOU.

Besides fixing the fundamental problems mentioned already that need to be fixed without further delay, the further benefits of doing so are literally too many to mention, an infinity.

It is the solution to what seems to be pretty much all of the problems seen in our history to date, including colonialism, racism, wars, and needless massacre of life.

It is simpler to say that there are no arguable disadvantages or harmful side effects whatsoever. All humans, and all living things genuinely win all things.

In formal Systems Engineering terminology, the solution is absolute. It meets all of the concerns and all of the needs of all stakeholders, where the stakeholders are all people, and even all living things including our environment.

Indications

The following things all happened in quick succession, in the earlier phases of the onset of covid.

Firstly:

  • Massive stimulus was issued.

Immediately afterwards:

  • Shares in bankrupt companies with well known, much loved products soared. The law in the US was changed to allow that to continue. Traditional investors like Warren Buffet declared that the market, and money, were doing strange things, so withdrew from the markets.
  • The environment made a small leap of recovery
  • Oil prices went negative
  • The dollar value, in terms of world markets went up.

What was happening was people trading with free money; donated money, with no expectation of profit.

For the first time ever, ordinary people, empowered by free money, had entered market trading (Via apps like Robinhood), and were donating to the things they saw as important, rather than investing.

We saw there, a tiny glimpse of what is possible, by empowering people with free money.

Their function became distributors of wealth; each individual assigning what they could as an implicit member of a decentralised community, to the things they saw as important, in the markets.

The Energy Debt, In Numbers

When we look at live counters for the totals of Terrajoules of energy used, vs Terrajoules of energy striking Earth, we see that the rate of energy donated to Earth is more than 3000 times greater than our current rate of energy consumption.

The counters used for this article are at:

Further, a CSV of the data illustrated in the header graphic of this article, is kindly made available at:

Entering that data in a spreadsheet, linearly interpolating where necessary, gives us an estimate of the energy used every year since 1800.

Summing those gives us our estimate of the total power taken from Earth.

That total is 7,991,652 TWh, or around 28,769 Exajoules.

For the purposes of this article, a convenient round figure is 8 EWh (Exawatt-hours, where Exa means multiplication by 10¹⁸)

This is readily convertible to currency, by current energy market values.

The current price of electrical energy is around $70/MWh, averaged from:

An Exawatt is 10¹² MW (One trillion MW)

So $70/MWh is $70Tn per EWh.

So our first estimate of the financial value of the total energy debt is $560Tn.

Comparing this with the total given in “The Economist” global debt clock;

We see there a total of around $60Tn.

Whereas in a CNN davos report:

We see the debt estimated as around $260Tn.

Which of those is right guys?

To be fair, it is clear already that the world economy is not actually zero sum, since removing gold standards, all financial authorities have had the capability to manipulate various factors including LIBOR etc. Not knowing the detailed history of such things, and their interdependences, it is practically impossible to definitively tie down a figure.

But it does get much simpler to compute, and thus to repay, when we realise what the debt actually comprises, and who it is payable to.

{Updated 24/11/2020}

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*Footnote: The importance of separating solar power from other forms of “Renewable” energies, as things commonly bundled together, such as in the counters referenced, should not be overlooked. This is a fundamental requirement, to separate the energy that truly comes from outside Earth’s ecology, therefore is freely donated, direct from the sun, with no appreciable cost to the planet, and with no existing component in our economy. Otherwise, if they are always mixed, nothing is solved, only problems diluted and thus postponed, which turn out to have the most damaging effect.

Solarpunk

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