Epilogue: Decisions Under Uncertainty

  • Reiner KümmelEmail author
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)


The easily accessible fossil energy sources are drying up, pollution is creating ecological problems on a global scale, and the increasing costs of providing energy contribute to the growing instability of the global financial system. The very uneven distribution of wealth that has resulted on national and global scales is likely to create social tensions and breakdowns that are dangerous in a world of growing population and nuclear weapons. All technical and social actions that may avoid a Dark Age of battles for diminishing resources bear risks, whose assessments by individuals and nations differ substantially. The first decision to be taken under these uncertainties should concern the legal framework of the market and its adjustment to the challenges of a future ruled more clearly than ever by energy and entropy. This adjustment should stimulate energy conservation and emission mitigation. Furthermore, it should invigorate those sectors of the economy where humans cannot be easily pushed aside by energy-powered machines, and observe simultaneously that the production of material wealth rests on the conversion of nature’s gift of energy into physical work. Whether the appropriate instrument is a social-ecological tax reform that shifts the burden of taxes and levies from labor to energy according to the productive power of these factors is a question that voters and governments will have to decide. Their decisions may well depend on the general acceptance of old and seemingly trite rules of conduct that serve to promote a minimum level of equity for all.


Photovoltaic Module Roof Area Conventional Combustion Solar Thermal Power State Indebtedness 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical Physics and AstrophysicsUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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