Energy and the Wealth of Nations

Understanding the Biophysical Economy

  • Charles A. S. Hall
  • Kent A. Klitgaard

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Energy and the Origins of Wealth

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-2
    2. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 3-39
    3. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 41-69
    4. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 71-91
  3. Energy, Economics, and the Structure of Society

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 93-93
    2. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 95-130
    3. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 131-143
    4. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 145-160
    5. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 161-190
    6. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 191-206
    7. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 207-220
  4. Energy and Economics: The Basics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 221-221
    2. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 223-249
    3. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 251-283
    4. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 285-300
    5. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 301-306
  5. The Science Behind How Real Economies Work

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 307-307
    2. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 309-320
    3. Charles A. S. Hall, Kent A. Klitgaard
      Pages 321-338

About this book

Introduction

For the past 150 years, economics has been treated as a social science in which economies are modeled as a circular flow of income between producers and consumers.  In this “perpetual motion” of interactions between firms that produce and households that consume, little or no accounting is given of the flow of energy and materials from the environment and back again.  In the standard economic model, energy and matter are completely recycled in these transactions, and economic activity is seemingly exempt from the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  As we enter the second half of the age of oil, and as energy supplies and the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption become major issues on the world stage, this exemption appears illusory at best.

In Energy and the Wealth of Nations, concepts such as energy return on investment (EROI) provide powerful insights into the real balance sheets that drive our “petroleum economy.” Hall and Klitgaard explore the relation between energy and the wealth explosion of the 20th century, the failure of markets to recognize or efficiently allocate diminishing resources, the economic consequences of peak oil, the EROI for finding and exploiting new oil fields, and whether alternative energy technologies such as wind and solar power meet the minimum EROI requirements needed to run our society as we know it. This book is an essential read for all scientists and economists who have recognized the urgent need for a more scientific, unified approach to economics in an energy-constrained world, and serves as an ideal teaching text for the growing number of courses, such as the authors’ own, on the role of energy in society.

  • Integrates energy and economics
  • Uses predictive tools and measures, such as EROI, to show how the economy is embedded in a biophysical world subject to scientific rules and constraints
  • Provides a fresh approach to economics for those wondering “What’s next?“ after the Great Recession and the recent increases in oil prices
  • Assesses energy sources from the perspective of peak oil, the role of alternatives, and potential impacts such as climate change

Keywords

Embodied energy Net energy alternative energy assessment biophysical economics ecological economics book economic sustainability emergy end of cheap oil energy economic production energy economics energy economics book energy policy book energy return on energy invested energy return on investment environmental economics book eroei definition eroei explained eroei significance eroi eroi definition eroi explained eroi significance exergy limits to growth peak oil book resource economics book second half age of oil wealth production energy

Authors and affiliations

  • Charles A. S. Hall
    • 1
  • Kent A. Klitgaard
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Environmental, Science & ForestryState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Professor of EconomicsWells CollegeAuroraUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9398-4
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Engineering
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4419-9397-7
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4419-9398-4
  • About this book