Reality Blind - Vol. 1

economies can be likened to the flow of blood in mammals, with the veins and arteries of the human ‘sphere’ being the global air, sea and road transportation nodes. 123 124 Virtually all human infrastructure - gas stations, surface area of roads, hospitals etc. - scale using similar biological allometry relationships. 125 Connections – veins in bodies, social media, telephones or highways - scale at roughly ½ of the number of nodes squared (.5n 2 ). (So a system with 10 nodes has approximately 50 connections =0.5*10X10=50). Each of these nodes requires energy to maintain, and new nodes need energy to connect. Modern human society can thus be viewed as a macro- organism, whose energy metabolism increases at the size of the global GDP to the ¾ power. 126127 Larger animals – (and larger economies)-are more efficient, which is why they don’t scale 1 for 1. TaaL: This scaling relationship is an incredibly cool and deep reality. Who would have guessed that a simple mathematical relationship could relate the energy use of a paramecium to that of a blue whale? But then – a far bigger mind-blower – that VERY SAME relationship holds for built-out modern human society using fossil energy exosomatically. This shows that the term “human superorganism” is far more than a metaphor. Your human systems are still bound (so far) by the same dynamics of living organisms, and the characterization of humanity as a single energy-seeking superorganism is a reasonable description.

The open - and central - question is whether a more sapient human species might depart from this trend and use less energy.

Not yet.

The Bottom Line: Just like animals, human society has an energy metabolism linked to its size.


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