Alternative Socioeconomics/Why look at alternative systems?/Energy
We define energy as the ability to motion. All physical things have an ability to move which can depend on its position, its current motion or its chemical make up. A ball at the top of a hill has more ability to move than a ball at the bottom of a hill. A fast moving object has more ability to move than a slow moving one and certain chemical have great ability for motion, such as oil, than others, such as water. We can measure the ability to motion in different ways, which leads us to define different types of energy; potential energy, kinetic energy, chemical energy and energy in transfer such as heat energy and electrical energy.
For any physical object or system to move or to do anything it first requires a ability to move. When it moves it changes its ability to move from one form to another. A ball at the top of the hill has an ability to move (it can roll down the hill) at a certain rate which we can measure and calculate. As it move it exchanges it ability to move for other forms of energy such as heat energy and kinetic energy (sound). When the balls comes to a rest at the bottom of the hill it has less ability to move but we also have heat and sound generated. If we add up all our energy at the start and at the end of the ball rolling down the hill we find we have the same about of ability to move but the form has changes; from potential energy to heat and kinetic energy (as some, much less, potential energy). Thus, all that we do involves converting energy from one form to another.
Our socioeconomic system represents another example of a physical system; far more complex than a ball running down hill but still requiring energy and converting it from one from to another. Thus our socioeconomic requires energy to run; no more energy means it will collapse and die.
At the beginning of the 21st century our socioeconomic uses a number of different sources of energy; chemical in the form of oil, nuclear as well as potential in the form of wind and hydro power. However, we heavily depend on oil as our main sources of energy to keep things running. Oil will not last. We use oil up at a rate far exceeding the Earth's ability to renew the oil deposits. We also use up oil at an exponential increasing rate.
We not only need to move to a sustainable source of energy and away from oil but we also need to maintain a state dynamic equilibrium with our energy supply. Our dependency on oil and our increasing need for more energy both result in the potential, for an economic collapse and thus, a need to look at alternative systems.