Many of you know that my main mentor for the majority of my life has been R.Buckminster Fuller.
Introduced to his work in my mid-twenties, there was something compelling about him, his life demonstration and his story that captivated me completely. Not just a superficial love affair, a deep dive that continues to this day.
I was listening to a podcast featuring one of the very few people I pay attention to currently, Daniel Schmachtenberger, speaking with Nate Hagens and was reminded of one of Bucky’s most profound insights/contributions.
The topic was Energy Blindness. Of course this topic was one that lived across Bucky’s work over decades, beginning back in late 1927 when Bucky considered the all-in-cost of a barrel of oil and determined that there was not a single human on Earth who could afford a barrel. He stated that eventually humans would pay the after-tax of their lack of accounting. That tax is indeed now being paid in the form of environmental degradation, breakdown, climate refugees, food insecurity and in many other areas less evident.
This Sunday Syntropy is written in respect to the life work of Bucky Fuller and the kind of thinking that preceded by multiple decades this current conversation.
The Unusual Unstated Facts – from the introduction of Critical Path by R. Buckminster Fuller, 1981.
Note: This is a whole systems view as presented by Bucky.
It no longer has to be you or me.
Selfishness is unnecessary as there is more than enough of everything.
War is obsolete.
Making money with money adds zero value to anything.
Over 70 % of jobs are preoccupied with work that is not producing any life support or real all-human-and-earth wealth – producing instead what Bucky Fuller called Obnoxico. For example; inspectors of inspectors, re-underwriters of insurance reinsurers, promoters, spies, gunmakers, the middle person, many managers. These people are going to jobs using cars using fuel that costs billions…it would actually be cheaper to pay most people to stay at home for the fuel costs alone, even more so when we add in the all-in accounting cost.
Let us examine what this all means using the Energetic Universe, Cosmic Energy Income and Cosmic Energy Savings.
The Energetic Universe
The Energetic Universe is made up of the physical universe and the metaphysical universe.
The physical universe consists of energy associative as matter, and dissociative as electromagnetic behaviour – what we call radiation. Both forms of matter are inter-transferable and can be measured. Both forms make it onto the balance sheet of traditional accounting. Our current ‘wealth’ is the measure and accumulation of the physical universe.
The metaphysical universe is weightless, dimensionless, abstract – thoughts, principles, values, culture, emotions, warm data, know-how. These metaphysical elements do not usually make it onto the balance sheet. They do however make it onto a Syntropic World Synergistic Balance Sheet. This is one of the key distinctions of a Syntropic Enterprise compared to any other form of enterprise or business.
Wealth as Bucky defined it ”consists of physical energy (as matter or radiation) combined with metaphysical know-what and know-how.”
Our entire world wealth to this point has depended on energy. Those who hold the energy, hold the power. We build cities and communities around energy access.
Our ability as humans to store energy as food to survive long winters, drought and famine, and to even move to cities away from farming, relying on the farmer to grow and deliver food that can be stored, is another example of wealth from energy.
Our utilisation of the stored energy from Earth – fossil fuels – has enabled an accelerated acceleration of human growth – in population, financial wealth accumulation and technological development.
Yet we waste between 70 and 95 out of every 100 units of energy consumption with most of that energy coming from fossil fuels.
Take cars for example: They are less than 50% efficient. An average of 2 million cars waiting at traffic lights is the equivalent of 200 million horses jumping up and down at full effort going nowhere. Where do we put this cost on the Earth’s balance sheet? (Any manager of a business running this level of waste would lose their job.)
We have failed to consider that we are accessing our Cosmic Energy Savings account when we do this, and the savings account is running empty.
So how does the Cosmic Energy Account work?
Syntropic Cosmic Energy Income
The Cosmic Energy Income consists entirely of our Gravity and Star (the Sun) Dividend – water, wind, sun and wave power, vegetable alcohols and vulcanism for example. Life touched by photosynthesis. Plentiful, abundant, Syntropic.
In 1981, when Bucky Fuller published Critical Path, humanity’s rate of total energy consumption amounted to only 1/4 millionth of one percent of the rate of Earth’s energy income.
Said another way, the amount of Cosmic Energy Input to earth every minute is equivalent to all the energy needed by humanity in one year: we do not have a scarcity of energy. (Critical Path)
Using the wrong accounting model, we have spent too much of our creative human energy on anything but the economic use of our Cosmic Energy Income, accessing instead our Cosmic Savings Account with complete disregard to what this means a little down the track of time. During the transition from using our Cosmic Energy Savings to our Cosmic Energy Income we get sidetracked on how to place a meter between the Cosmic Energy Income with its free abundance and the consuming humans, in order to achieve maximum profit.
Syntropic Cosmic Energy Savings
Our Cosmic Energy Savings are made up of fossil fuels. How much is the true cost of a barrel of oil including the all-in-accounting costs of photosynthetic transformation of vegetation and algae, being gradually accumulated in certain areas, pressurised, all over a very long time?
In 1981 a single barrel of oil using this accounting consideration was well over 1 million dollars. Bucky called it nature’s own savings account.
Imagine if we practised ALL-IN-ACCOUNTING in everything? This type of thinking extends well beyond circular economics, which is a cradle to cradle application, better than the model we currently have, but still ignoring the work of nature. (Circular economies seek to have any produced item or service live in a 100% recycled loop, every element and part being able to be re-used and recycled. It does not account for the materials used before becoming parts. In other words, all of the work of nature to get a something to be of use in a product.)
We have spent the past few hundred years consuming our Cosmic Energy Savings, while ignoring utilisation of the Cosmic Energy Income, and still hoping for a future.
We all know where this irresponsible use of resources leads. This parasitic relationship is further exacerbated by the economic imperative for endless growth, not only on a finite planet, but as the singular measure of wealth and worth. Think about this: using our traditional accounting while one barrel of oil provides the energy equivalent to a strong human working continuously for five years, this energy gift is accounted for using only the cost of extraction. This neglects the cost for nature to produce it AND the post-use cost, the pollutive effects – known in accounting speak as externalities – making small number of people obscenely wealthy at the cost of our future.
The analogy to all of this is a cancer consuming the host which leads to the host’s demise, but a cancer that makes a very small part of the host wealthy before they die of the very cancer that made them wealthy.
No less illogical than burning your family home to keep the family warm during a winter’s night cold snap.
Using fossil fuels – our Cosmic Savings Account – is entropic
There is no substitute for energy other than another form of energy. Energy is entangled in 100% of all human activity and productivity. In our current global model of GDP growth on a finite planet, profit maximisation and growth imperative are baked into the DNA of the system; the use of ‘cheap’ extraction-only energy cost accounting of fossil fuels – is woven completely into the model for economic growth, perceived success, and wealth. Stop this growth and the current system collapses.
This entropic model tethers growth to the energy extracted from the fossil fuel Cosmic Energy Savings account of humanity and earth.
This is the double bind that we must break.
But first we must better understand the terrain and the context.
We must start by considering the whole – using an all-in-accounting of everything, including the externalities, a whole system approach.
We must start to understand that the Cosmic Energy Savings account is drying up; cheap access to fossil energy is ending. Given the way it is baked into the very DNA of our global economic system, the financial perturbation on this transition is not to be ignored. Once we also begin to add the massive after tax of our misguided accounting – including the externalities of climate turbulence, climate refugees, environmental loss, species extinction – we might see that there is a reckoning coming.
On the other hand, we have the impetus to access the other side of the balance sheet: our abundant daily Cosmic Energy Income. We might even consider taking the meter off its free abundance which will make it so affordable for ever more people. In so doing we will see the precessional effects of this that Bucky spoke of in his Word Game Scenarios. A decline in birth rate for example, better education of children, especially girls, and a lifting out of intractable poverty for millions of people.
This is where Earth and humanity’s true wealth lies.
A question I have held for a long time that in part seeded our work at Syntropic World, is why the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, even in their rebranded iteration, continue to fail. Poverty is still a thing. Starvation is still a thing.
Can we do better?
Indeed we can, but only when we go to the root of the root, while simultaneously holding the biggest picture view of the whole system available.
This is the work that Bucky dedicated his life to.
If we want to begin, we must start with how we consider all-in-accounting, a re-defined recognition of value that includes the physical and the metaphysical, an acknowledgement of what all-human wealth might be and how we use the daily abundance of energy we have been gifted.