Is This The Future We Have To Look Forward To?

“In the future, we’ll all live in “Live Cubes,” tiny homes that restrict your energy and water use.”

In the future, we’ll all live in “Live Cubes,” tiny homes that restrict your energy and water use, meaning hackers will generate their own energy and filter their own water, according to the exhibit, Live Cube, by Jason Anaya, Michael Emono, and Richard Rizzo, students from Cal State East Bay.

The trio built the cube around the idea that the Department of Energy Regulation Protocols (DERP) repossessed the home of an electricity bandit. Within, picking up objects or interacting with the environment triggers audio/visual displays that clue the viewer in to the former owner’s story. It’s mostly powered by embedded LightBlue Beans, and each item is tagged as evidence. An Adafruit Flora embedded in a jacket, for example, asks the wearer to jump up and down, powering LED strips; the video talks about how useful that particular garment would have been during the “energy riots.”

“This project developed from our shared passion in speculative fiction,” the creators write. “We hope to show people a version of how the world could be if we do not change our behavior in respects to the environment and natural resources.”

Really? Where did this come from?  I can see that the kids in the video are earnest about this, but they are also terribly misguided.  They have things right about what the future might be like, but it’s not global warming that would create that kind of future, but Progressivism and the push for “sustainability.” This is the future espoused by the Davos crowd, Al Gore and the UN.

Of course I know were this came from. This is what they have been taught, or rather indoctrinated with, all their lives.

Here’s the sort of stuff that most students get from their teachers, who got it from back in the 1970’s when the Left and the elite realized that technological progress was not taking things in the way they wanted it to go.  That’s when the Club Of Rome started the campaign to change the course of how human society was going to go.  A campaign that has been amazingly successful in indoctrinating people, if not actually changing things very much.

What has happened is that in the forty odd years the tone of the people supporting the apocalyptic end of the world point of view has gotten more strident and the behavior of the people supporting that view has gotten ever more cult like as time has proven them wrong over and over again.

The people chasing “sustainability” have the problem that they have been crying wolf for too long now and people have caught on to them.  There’s also the nasty problem of dealing with the effects of the globalization policies that the elites have been chasing since the end of WW2.  The problem the elites had was that the free world did not want to mold itself to their visions and was going on it’s merry way, making them irrelevant, in spite of the great wealth and power at their command. So they made it look as if the world would come to an end if the dictates of the new cult they created were not followed.

The problem was that in order get the impact they wanted to actually get people to change their lives, the elites had to exaggerate the impact of industrial society. First it was running out of resources and overpopulation. Then when that didn’t cause the impact and the votes that the wanted, they went for weather apocalypse.

Fortunately there have been other voices trying to return sanity to the culture. Voices like Julian Simon, Herman Kahn and Jerry Pournelle tried to make the point that doom was not the only alternative to a massive regulated and rationing society.  These people got very small voices in the media of the 1970’s but they did step farther out to make their points.

The problem with the program of the elites is that they no longer have skin in the game. They live in their cloudspace flitting here and there, buoyed by the rents gathered by the immense wealth that they get for their nothing jobs from the government and academia, the left overs from their grandfathers’ wealth creation or simply the contacts that they develop through the connections in the Ivy Covered Snob Factories and government and nongovernment institutions.

For the most part the failings of the Blue model have been invisible to them. Or they excuse the consequences as some sort of natural thing that “just happens.”  You can hear and read them in the media all talking about this effect and that event separate from the causes that created those things, all with true concern.  But never with real action, because taking corrective actions would mean that the elites would have to admit that they made the mistakes in the first place and that is something that they will never admit.

Decade after decade the elites have spread the word through all the media that growth was bad.  All the while, like vampires they have been sucking off the lifeblood of civilization to pay for the lavish lifestyles they lead. Yet the potential for the true disaster that could be coming somehow escapes them. Or they believe that if the apocalypse comes the will be able to jet away from it.

The elites have called for the people to turn over their liberties and large parts of the wealth that goes with that to create the “desirable society.” They have told us that by the virtue of the credentials and academics they hold that they are the ones best equipped to manage society for everybody.  They have failed in that management.  The reason they have failed is that while creating the low or no growth society, they forgot the welfare state that they created required growth to be sustainable.

It’s the rationing  and regulated society that has been the goal of the left since the early 1970’s when the left gave up on industrialization. If you look at all the magazines, newspapers and media, 1968 0r 1969 was the time that everything went dark, at least here in the US.  It was as if one day the future was the Jetsons and the next it was “we’re all going to die.”

I think that what the elites were afraid of was that if things kept going the y way they were, the elites would get left behind. After all they had their wealth, power and influence.  All they have to do is maintain those things and the best way to protect them from competition is to ensure that nobody else can compete.  So that it the goal.

It’s not as if the elites have made a great secret about what they are doing.  You can read it in the newspapers and magazines, to say nothing about the endless books.  They know what’s best and the rest of us must let them have big chunks of our livelihoods for the preservation of the future is what they say.  But the future they think they are preserving is their prosperity and we are going to be left with the scraps.

I think that you can have sustainability and poverty, or you can have high energy and wealth, but you can’t have sustainability and wealth except for a few. If you want an oligarchy, sustainability is the way to go.:

The reason oligarchy  works in the Sustainable society and doesn’t work so well  in a high energy society is that energy gives people options and the ability to create wealth. Without the ability to create power, a culture can only support the very few in prosperity. The rest have to struggle and pay the rents to maintain that prosperity. At least until something happens and the civilization dies.  Because without enough energy no civilization can gain the resilience to weather the slings and arrow of misfortune. The energy of effort over and above what a human or animal can produce is how a society maintains itself.  We have forgotten as is pointed in this piece, just how much energy we have access to and what that means.

I got to thinking about this number, one kilowatt-hour’s worth of electricity for a long ten-hour day’s work, in the context of the discussion about energy costs. Some people think raising energy costs to discourage CO2 production is a good thing. I say that raising energy costs, whether to discourage CO2 or for any other reason, trades a certain present loss for a very doubtful future gain. As such, it is an extremely bad idea. Here’s why:

The existence of electricity is perhaps the one thing most emblematic of human development. With electricity, we get refrigeration to preserve medicines and foods, light to extend the day, electric heat, power to run machinery, the list goes on and on. Now, as I showed above, we can hire somebody to generate electricity for us, at the rate of a kilowatt-hour for each ten-hour day’s work. Where I live, this day’s worth of slave labor, this thousand watt-hours of energy, costs me the princely sum of about thirteen cents US. I can buy an electric slave-day of work for thirteen cents.

That is why I live well. Instead of having slaves as the Romans had, I can buy a day’s worth of a slave’s constant labor for thirteen measly cents. That is what development consists of, the use of electricity and other forms of inexpensive energy in addition to and in lieu of human energy.

Now, here’s the next part of the puzzle. Out at the farther edges of society, where people live on a dollar a day or less, electricity is much more expensive than it is where I live. In the Solomon Islands, where I lived before returning to the US in 2009, electricity in the capital city cost fifty-two cents a kilowatt-hour, and more out in the outer islands.

Now, let us consider the human cost of the kind of “cap-and trade” or “carbon tax” or Kyoto Protocol agreements. All of these attempts to decrease CO2 have the same effect. They raise the cost of energy, whether in the form of electricity or liquid fuels. But the weight of that change doesn’t fall on folks like me. Oh, I feel it alright. But for someone making say $26.00 per hour, they can buy two hundred slave-days of work with an hour’s wages. (Twenty-six dollars an hour divided by thirteen cents per kWh.). Two hundred days of someone working hard for ten hours a day, that’s the energy of more than six months of someone’s constant work … and I can buy that with one hour’s wages.

At the other end of the scale, consider someone making a dollar a day, usually a ten-hour day. That’s about ten cents an hour, in a place where energy may well cost fifty-two cents per kilowatt-hour. Energy costs loom huge for them even now. I can buy six months of slave labor for one hour of my wage.  They can buy a couple of hours of slave labor, not days or months but hours, of slave labor for each hour of their work.

And as a result, an increase in energy costs that is fairly small to me is huge to the poor. Any kind of tax on energy, indeed any policy that raises the cost of energy, is one of the most regressive taxes known to man. It crushes those at the lowest end of the scale, and the worst part is, there is no relief at the bottom. You know how with income tax, if you make below a certain limit, you pay no tax at all? If you are below the threshold, you are exempt from income tax.

But energy price increases such as carbon taxes don’t even have that relief. They hit harder the further you go down the economic ladder, all the way down to rock bottom, hitting the very poorest the hardest of all.

So when James Hansen gets all mealy-mouthed about his poor grandkids’ world in fifty years, boo-boo, it just makes me shake my head in amazement. His policies have already led to an increase in something I never heard of when I was a kid, “fuel poverty”. This is where the anti-human pseudo-green energy policies advocated by Hansen and others have driven the price of fuel so high that people who weren’t poor before, now cannot heat their homes in winter … it’s shockingly common in Britain, for example.

In other words, when James Hansen is coming on all weepy-eyed about what might possibly happen to his poor grandchildren fifty years from now, he is so focused on the future that he overlooks the ugly present-day results of his policies, among them the grandparents shivering in houses that they can no longer afford to heat …

Perhaps some folks are willing to trade a certain, actually occurring, measurable present harm to their grandparents, in order to have a chance of avoiding a far-from-certain distant possible future harm to their grandkids.

Not me.

I say let’s keep the old geezers warm right now, what the heck, they’ve been good to us, mostly, and lets provide inexpensive energy to the world, and thus encourage industry and agriculture to feed and clothe people, and let the grandkids deal with the dang future. That’s what our own grandparents did. They didn’t dick around trying to figure out the problems that we would face today. They faced the problems of their day.

The  fact is that while they are invisible, you have 600 odd slaves keeping your lights on, you home comfortable and yourself fed.  Actually if you add it all up, it’s even more, considering all the slaves working on the farm and in the factories.  the fact that all those slaves are actually Joules of electricity and power from an internal combustion engine is what makes the lifestyle that we all enjoy possible.

Consider that world voyages that once took years are now doable in hours. That what was even in my great grandfather’s time a difficult journey is now nothing much.  Trips that were once lifetime journeys and usually one way are now weekend overnights.

The Value of Petroleum Fuels

The elites don’t want that kind of life for most of us. For themselves, yes, but they don’t want the rest of us having access to too much energy and what that does.  They want to be able to control the amount of stuff we can have because when scarcities exist they think that they can control who gets what.  It’s that control that they really want.  That’s why the solutions they constantly propose to problems that don’t really exist always involve shrinkage and rationing of resources.

What they don’t seem to understand is that the so called “sustainable society” is in fact unsustainable. I was reading the biography of financier and Wall St Terrorist  Jay Gould and his early life revolved around rural upstate NY in the mid 19th Century and the need for tanners to keep moving to find hemlock trees for tanning. This was not unusual for mid 19th Century industries like glass making, and iron smelting who would always be chasing wood for fuel and chemicals like tannin.  It was only until the advent of railroads, electrochemistry and electric power  that the movement for resources stopped and industries could grow to take advantages of the economies of scale.

If you don’t make a study of industrial history and none of the great thinkers in the elites have, you don’t really understand just how things work, or don’t. So if you pursue romantic visions and technical frivolities they don’t see the problems that that can cause.  If you can’t understand the real problems you can’t solve them.

The elites tend to have this romantic vision of how energy generation and distribution actually works.  Even when they have some technical background like the Silicon Valley crowd they hold to the idea that you can make a 21st Century industrial society work with 18th Century energy sources.

I’ve never understood that attraction of the so called renewable energies.  For as long as I can remember, all the way back into the 1970’s the insistence had been that if “we” would only spend more money on research and developing  various flavors of solar or wind power we could get all our energy needs filled for FREE!! This romantic vision has taken hold with governments and corporations, all run by the elites.  Including people who you would think  would know better.  The consequences of chasing the renewables dreams has been wasted tax money, bankrupt companies and entire countries brought to poverty and the verge of total ruin.

John Kutsch is rather  blunt in this video, speaking as an insider and because he still believes in the other great romance of the elites, the idea that industrial pollution, in this case taking the form of climate catastrophe, can ruin the planet.  Still his points about all the hokum that’s come out the green energy people have come up with is absolutely right on track.

The thing is that people like Helen Caldicott have never lived in a society where energy is cheap and abundant. She can go around in that daze she does and never have to deal with the consequences.  Yet she ahs spent her life, since the 1970’s to my personal knowledge, trying as hard as she could to deny people access to energy and prosperity.  Look at this video.  Does this seem logical, or for that matter even sane? Yet Mrs. Caldecott has been a leader in the movement against nuclear energy for decades now.

The students who came up with the “live cube” were portraying a future they thought of as pretty grim, but with things like electronics and computers still around.  Part of that is that,  having grown up with computing machinery they can’t imagine life without them. The big part is that they don’t see the huge infrastructure of industries and businesses that make the computers even possible.  Or the web of people committed to doing the things that put the computers on the desks and the phones in the pockets of everybody.

That infrastructure is highly reliant on energy, reliable energy to make it work. The fact that how that energy gets to the places it needs to be is largely invisible to most people doesn’t change the fact that if the lights go out in so many of the industrial processes out there, it’s a very bad thing. All it takes is one very bad cut in the supply chain of energy to really bollix up almost all the industrial infrastructure and all the things that the industrial infrastructure creates for us.  Play around with how we get energy and the rest goes down hill very fast.

The kids up top don’t really understand what they are doing.  They are like kids brought up in cult who are only taught to think one way.  They’ve been indoctrinated all their lives in the tenets of the green cult and the viability of renewable energy, but the contradictions are inescapable. Live cubes are nothing much more than Thoreau’s Walden shack brought into the 21st Century and mandated by a government run by people trapped in the romantic vision. Or at least they would be those people were actually to get everything they wanted.

The fact that they haven’t been able to actually enact their total platform has probably saved Western Civilization from the big crash.  Because civilization requires power and water infrastructure and the willingness to maintain it. Something that California is rediscovering right now with the incident at the Oroville dam. All the posturing about green this and sustainability that will not  keep the lights on and the water flowing.    Yet the elites tend to look down on the people who do keep the lights flowing.  Seemingly as far as they are concerned, keeping the light on is a problem for the servants.

Which would be fine if the elites  didn’t work so hard to make it harder to do that.  So many rules and so much chasing of technologies have truly fundamental issues with physics.  Too much chasing solar roadways and other such hokum.   Along with far too much virtue signaling and talk about things like “renewable” and “sustainability” without explanation about what the real goals.

The industrial revolution has been a pain in the sides of the elites and the culture drivers since the beginning back in the 18th Century. Various forms of literature have called industry satanic and the people who run the plants tyrants and greedy. As far as the elites were and are concerned the stuff needed to get things done was dirty, greasy stuff that they didn’t want to think about. let alone learn how it worked.  All that industry was also dangerous to the precious social order and created too much wealth and nouveau riche, people who could compete with the elites for the good stuff.  Then there was the servant problem with industry and factories providing all those better jobs.

So the elites want a society with low energy and more people work. The thing they don’t understand is that civilization is a lady or a tiger. You can either face the lady of growth and  prosperity or the tiger of decline, decay and poverty which will, the end not have people living in “live cubes,” but in the kind of peasant huts on manors that so many people worked so hard to escape from.  The road to that will not be a pleasant or painless one.


  1. jccarlton · February 11, 2020

    Actually I think that the cubes were at a NY Maker faire. So, yes I have probably seen the work. There are advantages to have been around for a while. As for being curmudgenly, watching the lies go on and on does that. At least I don’t look up three year old blog posts to post stupid comments on.


  2. jccarlton · February 14, 2020

    I’m going to approve this so that you can see this. After that, I will delete both your comments and any that I see from your IP address. See my about for why. I do not allow comment from cowards. And that is what you are. People who hide behind anonymity and snipe at people are cowards because they are so afraid to actually stand up for and have a rational discussion. Instead so bye, coward.


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