Categorie archief: books

We have technologies, but not the materials…


Materials and energy : a story of linkages René Kleijn, 2012


Lots of books and papers provide very interesting insights and details about the future, sustainability , resources, urban livability etc. However, none really wonders if you multiply every solution to the global level, to serve 7 billion and later 9 billion, will it still work?

Rene Kleijn did a massive work and looked at the resource impacts if society as a whole would be based on a renewable energy system. Which in this case was chosen as one on Hydrogen to solve the timing constraints from streaming resources. And this is what he concludes: “The transition to a low-carbon energy system required to tackle climate change implies a steep increase of the metals intensity of the energy system, which in turn implies a substantial increase in the demand for metals (by a factor 2 to 100). At the same time, declining ore grades will result in a substantial increase in the use of energy, water and land and in the production of waste per kg of metal produced.”

The equivalent to several to hundred times current annual world production would be needed to build the required grid, wind turbines and hydrogen pipelines. ”

The EROI will drop enormously. While Kleijn in his PhD work cant say it loudly , I can: its impossible to be able to build a renewable based energy society grid, with current technologies, we will run out of (usefull forms of) energy ( to invest in concentrating materials!) long before the system is established, leaving the rest of global activities in disarray. (or in other words: for us humans  to have energy and matter organised in sufficiënt concentrated forms to cover the whole system).

Which implies two things: we have to find smarter ways to make renewable energy work for us ( far less energy/material intensive) , and as well, reduce our demand drastically , to create a global equal renewable energy world .

If you want hard data: read this one! Downloadable at:



The omnivore’s dilemma, review

 Michael Pollan The omnivore’s dilemma, 2006

“At its most basic, the story of life on earth is the competition among species to capture and store as much energy as possible, either directly from the sun, in the case of plants, or in the case of animals, by eating plants and plant eaters”. Thats how Micheal Pollan starts his quest for a search for the perfect meal. What would be a natural plate of food? Pollan explores our food chain, and concludes that in fact corn and mais have done a terrific evolutionary job, since they are the most abundant food, direct and indirect ingredients in the majority of our industrial processed foods, and as a species succeeded in having mankind working for the plant to flourish. Thats the way Pollan looks at it, turning fixed mindsets upside down.

And continues to analyse the whole chain of ingredients, visiting a range of farmers, to show that integrated farming concepts can produce more with hardly any disruption to the land, to end with a perfect meal on his plate during a dinner for friends.

In the mean time, some astonishing insight is given in that chain and market: Which in fact cant grow: There is a limit to what people can eat, and the market in the US grows in principle with one percent: the population growth. That leaves only two strategies for food industries to grow: Make us want more processed foods, which will cost more, ( and spent 10 calories of energy for 1 calorie of food) or make us eat beyond our need: “to pay a high price in the end: obesity, diabetes type 2 ,heart disease. “ Highly recommended for some insight in the food chain.





Books and reviews

SBSClogo-klNow and then I add to the website a review of a book I read. I make some notes anyway and why not share these. A new one has been added. Some books however are available online, in a complete form for free download.

As and example the famous book: “Without the hot air” , by David MacKay . In a very practical way he looks to all options for a renewable energy based society, and calculates what exactly they can contribute. Lots of data, and handy indicators, with some eyeopeners. Download at:

The other one is dealing with materials, Which is mostly the forgotten impact in the energy equation. The UK has funded a few very focused research institutes in the climate change policy, and one of these has focused on materials, and published a book on their findings: “With both eyes open” . (by the way, sustainablematerials dont exist…) A review is under the book review section, but you can download it here: