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.
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.
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.
All available evidence tells us that a return to energy system that mostly rely on renewables will significantly shrink our economic activity. Unfortunately, the new optimistic term "free solar energy" gives too many people an incorrect impression that we could migrate off fossil energy while maintainng our standard of living and economic growth.
After becoming the richest people of all times around the year 2000, inflation-adjusted incomes since shrunk for most households in advanced economies, despite many attempts at reviving growth.
Equally, prospects for young people are becoming bleaker, and many are struggling to find jobs matching their expensive educations, to buy a house or build a nest egg.