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                            Chapter 3

                           E N E R G Y

                 (c) 1991, 1993 by David G. Hays
                      (c) 1995 by Janet Hays
3.2. RANK 1:  Muscle and fire
3.3. RANK 2:  Advanced agriculture
3.4. RANK 3:  Iron and coal
3.A. Appendix: Population Growth

     Each rank obtains energy by its own combination of
     conversions; the concept of efficiency becomes a goal
     in rank 3.  Human welfare appears as an effect of
     energy growth only in rank 3; before that, population
     growth absorbs all advance.


     Each rank takes energy from nature and converts it: from
     chemical to heat, from heat to motion, and so on.  The
     conversions that occur in the sapient's own body are most
     valued--work, play, growth.  The flux of energy grows from
     rank to rank.

     Leslie White, an anthropologist, took it as his central
theme that energy use per capita grows in the course of human
history ( NRGYBIBL* ).  Historians are not entirely in accord
even on this elementary point, let alone its implications.  For
example, I have read that the industrial revolution was not
really about power, since in many cases steam replaced water-
wheels or windmills. But differences do appear from rank to rank:

     Quantity:      More energy per capita
     Structure:     New sources, uses, and pathways
     Unit capacity: Engines get bigger
     Engine weight: More power per pound
     Efficiency:    More power per calory of fuel

This rich phenomenon has attracted many analysts ( NRGYBIBL* ). 
I have inserted references to Smil's recent compendious book
( GEEB* ) into this edition.

     Let's take a first look at quantity, and then lay out a plan
for the chapter.

     Each rank at least doubles the flux of energy per capita.
Earl Cook* (p. 84) gives some numbers, which I present graphical-
ly as best I can:

        PFHHAAIIIIIMMMMM    The letters stand for
        PFHHAIIIIIIMMMMM        P - Primitive man - Rank 0
        FHHHAIIIIIIMMMMM        F - Foraging (hunting) man
        AAAAAIIIIIIMMMMM            - Rank 1
        AAAAAIIIIIIMMMMM        H - Horticultural (primitive
        IIIIIIIIIIIMMMM             agricultural) man - Rank 1+
        IIIIIIIIIIIMMMM         A - Advanced Agricultural man
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM             - Rank 2
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM         I - Industrial man - Rank 3
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM         M - Modern (technological) man
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM             - Rank 4 (nearly)
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM     Each character stands for about
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM         1 Mcal/day of energy
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM         = 1,000 Kcal/day
        MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM         = 1,000,000 calories per day

So Primitive man has 2 Mcal/day.  Each level continues all of the
energy to the left of and above its own space; foragers have 5

     I have changed Cook's terms to get distinct initial letters;
his terms are in parentheses, where different.

     The following lines distribute the energy available (Mcal/-
day) at each level over categories of use:

     P 0     2                                        2
     F 1     3       2                                5
     H 1+    4       4           4                   12
     A 2     6      12           7           1       26
     I 3     7      32          24          14       77
     M 3+   10      66          91          63      230

(Data from Cook* p. 84.)

     Rank 2 (26 Mcal per person per day) has roughly five times
the energy flux of rank 1 (5 Mcal/day).  Rank 3+ trebles rank 3.
Successive ranks achieve this per capita increase while raising
their populations.  Moreover, since rank 1 filled the habitable
world, the density of population increased as well.

     In the course of the chapter, I supply calculations about
energy, population, and land area.  From those calculations, I
arrive at these daily energy densities in inhabited areas:

             Rank 1       5 Mcal per square mile
             Rank 2   2,600
             Rank 3  20,000
             Rank 3+ 87,446

These are truly horseback estimates.  I used Britain in 1870 for
rank 3.  And if I used Japan 1990 rather than New York State 1970
for rank 3+, I should obtain a larger number for that rank.  The
rate of growth from rank to rank seems to be decreasing:  We may
now have as much as 5 times the energy density that rank 3
achieved; at its peak, rank 3 may have had 10 times as much as
rank 2; and rank 2 had 500 times what rank 1 enjoyed.

     What if we allow 230 Mcal/day for each of, say, 6 billion
persons?  That would bring all of Earth up to the USA's recent
level, and the global energy flux to 1.38 x 10^12 Mcal per day. 
Where could our descendants obtain that much energy?  And if they
could get it, how would they radiate it out into space, where all
energy must eventually be transmitted if the climate is to remain
stable?  And, most difficult of all, how could they obtain so
much energy without producing wastes in disastrous amounts?

     Before going into those questions, I ask once more what
happened in history, and why it happened.  Where did our fore-
bears get their energy, how did they make it useful, and by what
means did they up the ante again and again?  And, above all, why
did they crave energy?  In a word, I propose to examine ergonomic
history in an evolutionary perspective.

     By _ergonomics_, I intend this:  We take from nature a
quantity of energy; we convert and apply that energy in various
ways, devoting a portion of our own time; we dispose of waste
energy; but we derive pleasure, comfort, security, health, and
life itself from this turmoil, which therefore eminently deserves
to be called 'practical'.  The changes from rank to rank are both
quantitative and structural.

     Most of Earth's energy comes from the Sun.  A little of it
originates in radioactive processes right here, as mass becomes
energy; and we get a little energy from geological processes
( GEEB* 11-57).  Even fossil fuels--coal and oil--and the energy-
bearing materials in topsoil got their energy from the Sun.  Our
technology generally has to do with _conversions_:

     From chemical energy to heat, with fire
     From heat to motion, with a steam engine
     From linear to rotatory motion, with a crank

and so on.  In every conversion, some energy is lost--typically
dissipated into the environment as heat.

     We _use_ energy first of all for metabolism, to keep our
bodies running ( GEEB* 59-95 ).  Then for processes, such as
cooking food or smelting metals.  Also to drive our devices, from
sewing machines to computers.  And in every use as in every
conversion, we waste a portion of our energy.

     For each rank, I shall attempt to display the ergonomic
structure and estimate

        - Energy taken from the environment
        - Power delivered to useful purposes
        - Human labor required
        - Material welfare produced

For our own situation in the USA in the 1990s, some of this is
not much better than guesswork; for remote times and places,
information is far less reliable.  Alas, our predecessors did not
anticipate our need for information and kept few or no quantita-
tive records.

     Useful power can be compared with energy taken to give an
estimate of technological efficiency.  Material welfare can be
compared with labor input to give an estimate of wage rates. The
ratio of useful power to material welfare is an indicator of
something:  Efficiency, perhaps, or empowerment.  If each rank
raises efficiency and wages, we are entitled to hope that rank 4
(if it comes) can do it again; if not, the people of Earth must
ask whether there is enough power on Earth to provide the materi-
al welfare of the American middle class to all of them.

     We will see paradigm shifts as we go along; and we will see,
perhaps, that the future is not likely to consist of stringing
more zeros onto energy fluxes.

     See Fig_3_1* for a summary of the technological innovations
in conversion and application of energy.


     3.2.1.  Ecological Ergonomy.  Getting a living out
             of the Sun's energy ...
     3.2.2.  !Kung Quantities.  What hunters do for a living,
             and gatherers ...
     3.2.3.  From Campfires to Gunpowder.  Some steps toward
             another rank ...

     Rank 1 lives on the products of solar energy, converted by
     plants and animals, by fire, and by human effort.  Foragers
     live widely scattered and need work but little; as the
     number of sapients grows, and their density increases, they
     begin to pay some attention to the supply of both animals
     and plants.

     There is evidence for the use of fire by _Homo pekinensis_
before we, _Homo sapiens_, evolved--the Primitive man in Cook's
data is of an even earlier kind.

     Rank 1 depends entirely on solar energy, which is absorbed
by the plants that rank 1 gathers, the plants that nourish the
animals that rank 1 hunts, the plants whose woody parts provide
the fuel for fires.  Sunlight amounts to a great deal of energy,
but only a very small part of that energy is stored in the plant
and animal matter consumed by human beings.  We can take the
whole of the sunlight received as a resource, and say that it is
used with infinitesimal efficiency; or we can take the energy in
the food and fuel actually consumed as the resource.

3.2.1.  Ecological Ergonomy

     In an ideal-typical society of rank 1, only wild plants and
animals, human muscle, and small fires convert energy usefully.
Figure 3.2 ( Fig_3_2* ) summarizes the ergonomic structure here. 
Each row and each column contains information about a category of
energy converters.  Rows show outputs and columns show inputs. 
Thus plants (first row) provide oxygen and food for animals
(second column).  The table compresses reality ferociously.  What
does it mean to say that plants provide seed and compost to
plants?  The first level of expansion says that a plant, by its
reproductive action, produces seeds which grow to be plants
again, and that plants, by decomposition under the influence of
micro-organisms, collapse into matter from which later genera-
tions of plants can gather minerals already bound into useful
compounds.  We could expand again, and again, until we were
explaining vast amounts of biology and physics.  It is not
appropriate to go so far in this book (see GEEB* instead), but we
do need to remember that this and subsequent tables are only

     By their own metabolism, and by the fires they use, human
beings accelerate the conversion of energy that plants have
captured and stored into waste heat, which must radiate from
Earth into space.  The other side of this coin is reduction of
plant and animal matter from high-energy forms (food and fuel) to
low-energy forms, notably carbon dioxide, excrement, and ash.

3.2.2.  !Kung Quantities

     Cook estimates for rank 1

               Food      3 Mcal/person/day
               Domestic  2 Mcal/person/day

But I want to understand the system:  The internal dynamics, the
relations among the parts.  Fortunately, although there are no
records for the period more than ten thousand years ago when all
human beings lived in this way, there are reports from several
anthropologists who have lived among contemporary foraging groups
and kept accounts of effort and energy.  A good one, often
quoted, is that of Richard Borshay Lee (1969 in FORGBIBL* ).  The
people he studied were the !Kung, who live in a dry part of
southern Africa.  The Pimentels (FESo 30-35) summarize that
account, and provide additional calculations.  In Table 4.2, I
give details; the next paragraphs sketch the situation.

     [See also GEEB* 96-104; in FORGBIBL* Kemp analyzes Eskimo
hunters; McCarthy reports from Australia; Sahlins surveys food

     A portion of the energy consumed in any group is for human
satisfaction, but another portion has to be spent in acquiring
the whole.  Each family in rank 1 lives on its own efforts; of
five persons, three may be mature and vigorous; the rest are
too young or too old to work.  One person can, at most, deliver
about 0.05 Hp (horsepower).  But persons of rank 1 do not work
steadily.  The amount of effort applied to obtain food and do
every other practical task is small.  An equally small amount of
energy is captured from fire.

            Energy taken      Mcal/day      5.75
            Power used        Hph/day       0.57
                              Mcal/day      0.37
            Human labor       Hrs/day       2.20

            Material welfare  1990 $/wk   $29.86

            Efficiency                      8.1%
            Wage rate         1990 $/hr    $1.94
            Empowerment       Hph/1990 $    0.13

     Cook* allows foragers 5 Mcal/day, and my table reports 5.75. 
That difference is small, given that Cook is averaging over the
Earth and all these numbers are crude.

     On a foraging day, an adult among the !Kung averages 5.4
hours which, at 0.05 hp, amounts to 0.27 hph, worth 0.173 Mcal. 
This person eats 2.680 Mcal of food on such a day, for an effi-
ciency of about 6.5%.  Or, if we do not charge against efficiency
the energy costs of sleeping and enjoying non-working time, the
per- son's efficiency is almost 13%.  The efficiency of an open
fire for personal warmth and cooking is lower than that.

     I measure material welfare in 1990 dollars because I know of
no alternative.  What would it cost, per person, to buy the
groceries for a rank 1 diet?  Allow something more for the cook-
ing.  Add in the value of the clothing and shelter.  In an
attempt to guess what rank 1 clothing would be worth in New York,
discounting any special value for the collector, I imagined a
bark-cloth skirt for sale on a rack on 14th Street next to the
cheapest kind of modern skirt.  The price would have to be low
indeed to find a buyer.

     Comparing this analysis of the !Kung with Cook's figures, I
find that I have given them a bit less to eat than he allowed and
that I have given them a bit more fuel for their fires than he
estimated.  The orders of magnitude match, and every example of a
rank 1 group would produce a somewhat different result.

     Population density in rank 1 is on the whole around 0.1 to 1
person per square mile (in POPLBIBL* Deevey 1960, Keyfitz 1963,
Dumond 1975, Hassan 1975; Campbell* 1985; in FORGBIBL* Lee 1968;
AGSPREAD* 1984 p. 63; in NRGYBIBL* GEEB* 100).  The land area of
the Earth is about 60 million square miles.  About 10,000 years
ago, at the end of the time when all of Earth's people were
foragers, the experts reckon the population at 3 to 5 million:  1
person per 12 to 20 square miles.  Leaving out the coldest, the
driest, the most rugged parts of Earth brings us to something
like the right order of magnitude.  The !Kung numbered 248 and
had a territory of 2850 sq km = 1100 sq mi; about 0.23 per sq mi
in arid country.  At 1 person per square mile, Cook's allowance
of 5 Mcal per day per person leads to a density of energy over
the populated area of 5 Mcal per square mile.

3.2.3. From Campfires to Gunpowder

     On the growth curve from rank 1 to rank 2, horticulture is
an early step.  Burn a part of the forest, to return minerals to
the soil, and plant a crop.  After one or at most a few crops,
leave that patch to revert to forest again and plant another.
The fallow period between crops can be 20 years or longer.

     For this  kind of life, several estimates of labor have been
published (see GEEB* 105-111).  Rappaport* (1971) describes the
Tsembaga of New Guinea.  He found a population of 204 in a
territory of 3.2 sq mi.  In their mountainous district, they had
only 1000 acres that they cared to plant, and 90% of that had to
lie fallow in any year.  Nevertheless, they ate well enough.  A
garden produces rather more than 20 K Mcal/year.  The typical 103
lb man needs 2.6 Mcal/day, or about 1 K Mcal/year.  The typical
85 lb woman needs 2.2 Mcal/day, or about 0.8 K Mcal/year.  A
quarter-acre plot would feed a family of four or five in its
first year, and it continues to give something in a second year.

     If I have made proper assumptions, read the numbers right,
and converted with good arithmetic, the Tsembaga need work only
about 430 hours a year each (men and women both work) to feed
themselves, their dependents, and the pigs that they reserve for
a feast every few years.  Suppose they work another 430 hours
each on other chores, or 860 hours a year all together. That is
about 2/5 of a modern work year of 40 hours x 50 weeks.  With 2/5
of the people working 2/5 of the year at 0.05 hp, the society
gets by on 0.01 hp per capita.  And they live with a density of
26 persons per square kilometer, surprisingly high for horticul-

     Other estimates are quoted by Pimentel ( EAWM* 7-8) from
Lewis and Stadelman.  A Mexican horticulturist works 1144 hours
per hectare to get 6.84 K Mcal of corn.  On poorer soil, a
Guatemalan works 1415 hours to get 3.75 K Mcal of corn.  These
figures are not so much different from New Guinea, although corn
requires grinding (not taken into account in these figures) as
the sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, and yams of New Guinea do not. 
Food conversion is added labor with corn.  The Mexican needs
almost a hectare for a family of 5, and the Guatemalan needs

     In horticultural groups as with foragers, all waste matter
returns to the soil and all energy comes from the sun day by day,
to be cumulated annually in plants and during a lifetime in
animals.  Labor is sometimes light, but there is no material
wealth beyond the group land.  Even houses are for temporary use.
As long as the population is well below the carrying capacity of
the land, this life can go on forever; but archeologists have
found evidence of disasters in such groups, and attributed them
to over-population and over-utilization of the land, resulting in
collapse of the soil.

     After horticulture is established (about 10,000 years ago in
the earliest example), domesticated animals and sails come into
use, and the agriculture  becomes a  little more regular. Eventu-
ally a small portion of our species reaches the step after
foraging in Cook's table, the H step with 12 Mcal/day per capita. 
Cook suggests 7000 years ago in the Near East, but at suitable
dates this life was lived in China and India. 

     Only a little further along the growth curve toward rank 2,
potentates organize human effort in massive amounts to raise
pyramids and temples.  In European antiquity, a few small water-
wheels are built.  Later, when Germanic peoples from northern
Europe begin moving toward rank 2 and receive ideas from Islamic
peoples and the East, they build waterwheels in large number.  At
that time, also, fireplaces and chimneys appear; and so does
gunpowder, from China.  The use of solar energy becomes more
efficient with the development of agriculture; the density of
population grows correspondingly higher, to perhaps 25 persons
per square mile.


     3.3.1.  Animals, Wind, and Water.  New converters of
             energy ...
     3.3.2.  From Horseback to Iron Horse.  Toward a new rank
             ...  The turn to fossil fuels ...

     The power of air and water in motion can be converted into
     useful energy by windmills and waterwheels; rank 2 made
     these inventions, and harnessed livestock to plows, carts,
     capstans, and treadmills.

     Cook takes his example from northwestern Europe in 1400. 
This technological level uses beasts of burden, waterwheels,
windmills and sails, and much bigger, hotter fires.  Wind and
water drive grain mills and later many other machines.  (See
GEEB* 111-147.)

3.3.1.  Animals, Wind, and Water

     Let us consider a model of rank 2 life, a farming village

                 Population            100
                 Working adults         60
                 Wind and water mills    3
                 Working animals        20
                 Workweek hours         60

Schulman, quoted by Stanhill (EnAg 115), estimates 90 units of
animal energy for 18.6 of human in French agriculture in 1775; in
this model the animals provide 100 hph per day and the human
beings 30, but I am exaggerating the output of both.  The
Domesday Book, cited often by historians, lists 5624 water mills
for 3000 communities in 1086; windmills come in later, but there
are a good many by 1400.  These estimates for animals and mills
are most likely not much above the ordinary situation.  Rank 2
windmills and waterwheels give about 4-20 hp each (EnEc 7).  For
the horse or the ox, the working limit is about 0.5 hp.

     The ergonomics of the farming village is sketched in  
Fig_3_3* .  The weather supplies power to machines (mills),
through wind and running water.  As long as we are thinking about
the weather, we might as well recall that growing plants need
rain. The role of plants here is the same as before.  Animals
still provide food, and they are now harnessed to plows, carts,
and mills.  Coal is used for heating and cooking fires, but in
such small quantity that I leave it out of my calculations; the
shortage of wood forces the English unwillingly to turn mainly to
coal only from about 1600.  Fire still provides heat and light,
and although there are enough fireplaces in Europe to raise the
efficiency of fire a little, there are not many by 1400. Machines
serve for grinding grain and almost nothing else.  But the spin-
ning wheel has appeared.

     Cook estimates for rank 2

               Food            6 Mcal/person/day
               Domestic       12
               Agriculture     7
               Transportation  1

     The advantage of rank 2 over rank 1 or 1+ is questionable.
Plowing with an animal to pull the plow is easier than using a
digging stick.  Grinding grain with a windmill is easier than
using a mortar.  But in the end the overall material welfare of
the people is not as great, and the wage rate is lower.  Why did
welfare decrease?  Because these villagers eat a lot of bread and
not much meat, whereas the !Kung eat mongongo nuts and meat.  The
villagers have houses, clothing, and furniture, but all of their
goods are crude and they can rarely replace a garment or anything
else.  Why is the wage rate lower?  Because the villagers are
working hard to get a living out of a small plot of ground.

        Energy taken     Mcal/day     25.85 Per capita
        Power used       Hph/day       5.10
                         Mcal/day      3.28
        Human labor      Hours/wk        60
        Material welfare 1990 $/wk   $27.66 Double food cost

        Efficiency       %            12.69
        Wage rate        1990 $/hr    $0.77 Double food cost
        Empowerment      Hph/1990      1.11

     The extra power is part of what it takes to live ten times
more densely than at rank 1.  By 1300, the population density in
France had reached 100 per square mile (SHTy 33).  The applied
effort, combined with sunlight and rain, furnished the French
with an adequate diet, with more meat in 1400 than they would
have in 1800.  As yet artificial or imported fertilizer played no
great role.  Fallow was practiced adequately to keep the topsoil
in good condition in 1400, but perhaps not in 1800.  And during
this period all of Europe was burning wood faster than the
forests could grow.

3.3.2.  From Horseback to Iron Horse

     Coal is mined for domestic use, and later coke comes into
use for iron smelting and forging.  Sailing ships--caravels--
combining square and triangular sails are good enough to cross
the Atlantic and go around the world.  Finally, rank 2 produces
the atmospheric engine:  Steam raises a piston, and air pressure
forces it down.  Newcomen gets credit for the version that works
well enough for a few purposes, especially removing water from
the mines of England.

     Between rank 2 and rank 3, Benjamin Franklin invents his
stove, to raise the efficiency of domestic fires, and conceives
of the identity of lightning, a natural phenomenon, and static
electricity, which is being generated artificially by European
experimenters.  James Watt, probably with some conceptual help
from Joseph Black, a chemist at the University of Edinburgh,
looks at the steam engine as a heat machine and makes
revolutionary changes in it.  Watt's engines can be used in
factories, ships, and--once the boiler pressure is raised--in
railroad locomotives.  Coal gas is brought into use for lighting
and for internal combustion engines.  Nobel invents dynamite.
Turbines replace wheels for both water and steam power.  Finally,
after several persons have attempted to use steam for free-moving
land vehicles, Gottfried Daimler provides the automobile with a
light, powerful internal-combustion engine.

     The history of the steam engine is summarized in Fig_3_4* .


     3.4.1.  The Age of Steam.  An industrial revolution   3_4_1*
     3.4.2.  From Electricity to Nuclear Forces.  Moving
             toward a new rank ...                         3_4_2*

     The first industrial revolution combined coal as fuel, iron
     as structural material, and certain simple chemicals--all of
     which became easy to obtain in large quantity--to produce a
     massive quantity of goods.  In the late twentieth century,
     awareness of the finite quantity of fossil fuels in the
     Earth disseminated widely.

     What distinguishes rank 3 is the application of science in
economic life.  The science was not very good by the standards of
the 1990s, but it was good enough to effect an industrial revolu-
tion.  The invention of invention made change commonplace.

     Compare, for example, "the most famous machine in the
world", according to a 1759 handbook, with a grand engine of
1876.  The plant, built 1681-85 at Marly, raised water for the
fountains of Versailles.  Its 14 water wheels, each 40' diameter,
drove 221 pumps, raising the water 526'.  Total horsepower, 80--
perhaps the largest of its type.  (Gartmann, p. 6, in BIBLNOTE* 
and also GEEB* 139)

     On May 10, 1876, President Grant and Emperor Dom Pedro II of
Brazil opened the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia by
starting a Corliss steam engine that drove 8000 machines.  2500
hp, 40' tall, 700 tons; the largest ever built.  Transmission
through belts and pulleys, lighter than the European shafts and
gears.  (In AMERBIBL* Breeden, pp. 109, 112; Norman, p. 139;
Heyn, p. 16)

3.4.1.  The Age of Steam

     The ideal-typical society of rank 3 is not very different
from Britain around 1900.  Britain produced 229 million tonnes of
coal in that year for a population of 42 million, that is, almost
5.5 tonnes per person.  Converted into horsepower hours, that
makes 147.9 hph per person per day, or 18.5 hp for an 8-hour day.
The horses were still there in 1900, on all the farms; and the
human beings were working full out.

                       Human effort    0.02
                       Animal power    0.2
                       Coal           18.5
                       Rank 3 total   18.72

(See Fig_3_5* for ergonomic flows here.)  Agriculture feeds the
people and animals.  The coal fires iron refineries and found-
ries, steam engines, and furnaces for space heating.  Wood is
almost insignificant as a fuel.  Agriculture is now using
imported fertilizer, and certainly reducing the value of the
topsoil.  Coal is drawn from a finite supply, and a large propor-
tion of the energy derived by burning coal is wasted.  This rank
is consuming the Earth's capital and not getting full benefit.
(18.72 hp for 8 hours corresponds to 94,900 Kcal per person per
day, a little higher than the number at the top of this chapter--
by 1900 Britain was above the typical rank 3 area.)

     The area of Great Britain in 1990 is 94,214 sq mi.  In 1870
the part of Ireland which is now a republic was part of the
United Kingdom, adding 26,600 sq mi.  In that total area of
120,814 sq mi there lived 31.484 million persons.  The density
was therefore 260.6 persons per square mile.  At Cook's energy
level of 77 Mcal per day per person, the flux was 20,066 Mcal per
day per square mile.

     (See GEEB* 149-219.)

3.4.2.  From Electricity to Nuclear Forces

     Rank 3 employs electricity for lighting, factory power, and
railroads, and applies chemistry to crack petroleum into gasoline
and other useful substances.  It improves the internal-combustion
engine in a host of ways.

     As we move from rank 3 toward rank 4, we discover nuclear
energy.  We rework coal burning systems and introduce gas
turbines. We improve the efficiency of machines so that more of
the energy consumed goes to the end purpose intended.

     For an approach to rank 4, take the United States in 1960
(ergonomic flows in Fig_3_6* -- I dropped the "Weather" column to
gain space, and switched from "Coal" to "Fossil" because other
fossil fuels are in use), where energy consumption was 45
quads (quadrillion Btu) for a population of 185 million; the
sources were oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy--in that
order of quantity.  (Landsberg 30-32.)  Industry used about 155
million hp, consuming 16 quads.  At that rate, 45 quads would
supply 435 million hp.  So we can reckon

     Rank 3++ Total 2.35

     380.4 Mtons = 340 Mtonnes
     340 Mtonnes / 185 Mpersons = 1.838 tonnes/person
     1838 kg/person / 0.714 kg/kwh = 2574 kwh/person
     2574 kwh/person x 1.34 hph/kwh = 3449 hph/person
     3449 hph/person / 2000 hours = 1.725 hp/person from coal

     Coal is about 1/4 of total; total = 4 x 1.725 = 6.9


     USA uses 2468 Mtonnes coal equivalent.

     2468 Mtonnes / 250 Mpersons = 10 tonnes/person
     10,000 kg/person x 1.34 hph/kwh = 13,400 hph/person
     13,400 hph/person / 2000 hours = 6.7 hp/person total

     From 0.02 to 2.35 hp per capita is, we might say, just two
orders of magnitude.  Should we agree that increasing energy flux
goes with evolution of technology and culture?  If so, what
happens at and beyond rank 4?  Will the energy flux go up again?

     In the USA in 1970, Cook estimated

     Food                                10,000 Kcal/person/day
     Domestic                            66,000
     Industry                            91,000
     Transportation                      63,000

     Energy taken from the environment  230,000 Kcal/person/day
     Power delivered to useful purposes 25.36 hph/person/day
     Human labor required               40 hrs/person/week
     Material welfare produced          $50/person/week

     Efficiency (Power/Energy)          2.5%
     Wage rate (Material/Labor)         $2.50
     Empowerment (Power/Welfare)        0.0224 hph/$
     The population of the USA in 1970 was 204 million.  Its land
area was 3,615,123 sq mi.  The density was therefore 56.4 persons
per square mile.  Allowing Cook's energy level of 230 Mcal per
day per person, we get 12,979 Mcal/sq mi per day.  But much of
the United States is empty still--Alaska, for example, and the
western desert.  Take New York State, which in 1970 had 18.19
million persons in 47,834 sq mi of land area, a density of 380.2
persons per square mile.  Cook's energy level gives 87,446 Mcal
per square mile per day.


          "All energy use ends up as unrecoverable
          waste heat.  The final heat sink for the
          earth is radiation to space."  (Chauncey
          Starr, E&Pr* 12)

     3.5.1.  Rank 1 Conversions
     3.5.2.  Rank 2 Conversions
     3.5.3.  Rank 3 Conversions
     3.5.4.  Toward Rank 4

     We talk about "generators" of electricity, but what we have
     are converters of other kinds of energy into electric
     energy.  In fact, all power plants from campfires to jet
     engines convert energy from one form to another.  The only
     exception is the nuclear reactor, which converts mass into

     Besides an increasing flux of energy from rank to rank,
rankshifts have extended the range of known and usable conver-
sions.  At first, if we leave out the use of human muscle, only
conversions between chemical and kinetic energy are possible. The
attempt to master kinetic energy carries us through rank 2. Heat
is understood in rank 3, and electromagnetic and nuclear energy
come in with the approach to rank 4.

     Rankshift may also bring increased efficiency in energy

     Certainly each successful technology becomes more efficient
over time.  Newcomen's engines were at about 0.5%:  99.5% of the
energy in the coal dissipated into the environment without doing
anyone any good.  But of course the loss of the coal and the
pollution of the environment happened just as if the energy had
served to pump water.  Smeaton doubled that to 1%, more or less.
Watt achieved 2.7% to 4.5%, and the ratio went up and up.  By
1906, a triple-expansion engine had achieved 23% efficiency.  As
we approach rank 4, we are reworking steam engines.  ( Forbes
4:164, InRvBIBL* .)

Around 1900, the efficiency of electrical generation from coal by
steam engines improved rapidly:

     1900:  Charles Parsons supplies 2 1500 kw steam turbogene-
     rators to Elberfeld, Germany.  Biggest on Earth; axial flow. 
     Use 8.3 kg of coal per killowatt hour.  Williams 1987, p.
     163, SHTC 68

     1902:  Electrical generators use 7 pounds (3.2 kg) of coal
     per kwh.  Average cost for residential use, $0.162 per kwh.
     Pacey 1990, p. 249

     1904:  Carville power  station, Newcastle, Great Britain. 
     6000 kW turbogenerators, use 2 kg of coal per kwh.  SHTC 68

References in IR2BIBL* .

In the production of iron, the amount of fuel used per ton of
product did certainly fall during the 19th century, and also in
the 20th, from 22 hundredweight of coke per ton of pig iron in
1900 to 10 hundredweight in 1970 (SHTC 122 in IR2BIBL* ).  In
1841, a certain ironworks used 3.2 tons of coal to produce a ton
of pig iron (Hyde, p. 153, in InRvBIBL* ).  By 1841, part of the
coal was used to produce a hot blast of air, and the coal mixed
with the ore was in the form of coke.  In 1750, the blast was not
heated and the fuel was charcoal; for both reasons, the efficien-
cy was lower at the earlier date.

     But the improving efficiency of each technology is not the
same thing as replacement of some technology by another, more
efficient one during rankshift.

3.5.1. Rank 1 Conversions

     Does the rank 1 person consume more food in order to work?
A little, no doubt, but current opinion holds that rank 1 life
was not particularly strenuous.  The gross inefficiency of the
rank 1 life is not in using muscle for hunting and gathering,
but in letting sunlight go to waste.  An open fire is not
efficient in converting wood into useful energy:  Light, body
warmth, or cooking heat.  If forests were burned to drive out
animals during mass hunts, the waste of the wood and of the
productive capacity of the forest itself is inefficient.  And
when planting begins, the burning of forest to clear space for
crops is inefficient.

3.5.2. Rank 2 Conversions

     The men who row a boat occupy a substantial fraction of the
boat's carrying capacity.  A sailboat is therefore, in some
sense, more efficient because the masts, sails, tackle, and
sailors add up to a smaller weight and volume--sails themselves
occupy none of the hull's cubage.  Furthermore, the food eaten by
a few sailors is less than the food eaten by many rowers.  The
net cost to society of a sailing ship is therefore, I assume,
less than the net cost of a rowed ship.

     The use of horses, oxen, or other animals for power is not
so clearly efficient in comparison with human power.  Whatever
horses eat--grass in a meadow, hay, or oats--they compete with
human beings for the land to grow the food.  They return manure
that can be used to increase crop yield, and they may survive on
food produced on land that is, for example, too wet to produce
food for human beings.  Perhaps the net balance favors the use of
horses on farms, for plowing and also to drive the machines that
all farms need (but in the right place, water buffalo serve well;
see GEEB* 115).

     The efficiency of a system with wooden parts and horses for
power cannot be high because of internal friction in the machine
and because of metabolic waste in the horse--calories to keep it
alive as well as calories to do the work.  Beyond the farm,
animals are more efficient pulling carts or wagons than carrying
packs.  They did supplant human beings in coal mines, moving the
coal from where it was cut to the lift shaft and turning capstans
to raise the coal to the surface.

     Power for machines also comes from wind and water.  Measur-
ing the efficiency of waterwheels is a tricky business.  Taking a
river as a whole, only a tiny fraction of the potential energy
hits the mill; consider the drop over the whole course of the
river, and the whole flow.  Modern dams can use more of the drop
and more of the flow than earlier millraces did.  And the wooden
parts of the wheel and the mill it drove were not efficient
because of internal friction.  The same is true of windmills,
which capture little of the wind across a hilltop and convert
what they catch into useful motion with low efficiency as long as
they are built of wood.

     The Newcomen engine, as I have already mentioned, was a most
inefficient converter of coal into power.  Since it was the first
device to consume a nonrenewable resource, we may feel the bite
of its inefficiency.  Where are the winds of yesteryear?  We do
not grieve the winds lost or used inefficiently by the windmills
of the past, and the crops eaten to do work inefficiently are
nothing to us except insofar as they depleted the soils we
inherited, but the coals burned in Newcomen engines would still
be useful to us if only the eighteenth century Britons had not
consumed them.  The ratios were poor; but the absolute quantities
were negligible.  Some of the parts were of wood, and the metal
parts were crudely made and wasted steam first and power after.

     "It was claimed, for example, that one Newcomen engine at
     Griff colliery in Warwickshire costing L150 per year to
     operate in fuel, maintenance, and labour, replaced horse--
     pumping by a team of fifty horses costing L900 per year in
     feed and labour.  (Flinn, p. 116 in InRvBIBL* )

But the number of Newcomen engines installed was on the order of
400 between 1710 or 1712 and 1775 (Flinn, 121-122).

     Rank 2, and the societies that lived on the growth curve up
from rank 1, did in fact deplete soil by their incompetent
methods of agriculture.  But this is not necessarily an example
of inefficiency.

3.5.3. Rank 3 Conversions

     Meteorological forces have little part in the energetics of
rank 3, and biomass--food for animals and human workers, wood for
fires--loses its part also.  Rank 3 relies on fossil fuels, the
nonrenewable resources, coal, petroleum, and natural gas.  We are
in the midst of working out solutions to the problems created by
massive and inefficient use of these fuels which, to make things
worse, pollute air, land, and water.

     Yet efficiency is the byword of rank 3.  Science provided
the knowledge that enabled rank 3 to improve the efficiency of
all energy conversions, and imitations of science by managers
gave special attention to efficiency.  The rank 2 operators of
blast furnaces had the craftsman's interest in efficiency, and
chose their methods accordingly (Hyde in InRvBIBL* makes the case
fully).  But in rank 3 a category of inventors and engineers
emerges, and many in this category have the efficiency of pro-
cesses as their main concern.

     In part, efficiency grew with better tools and more precise
workmanship.  Boulton and Watt had to be content with pistons
that fit their cylinders so snugly as to leave barely room for a
shilling piece to slip through.  I myself as an adolescent ran a
machine that cut bearings to fit within a thousandth of an inch.
The better tools and parts were, in general, of metal; wooden
parts all but disappeared from machinery in rank 3.

     Another source of efficiency is the improvement of materi-
als.  Thermodynamics says that engine efficiency increases with
temperature, and high temperatures require better metals and
ceramics.  Rank 3 moved from wood to metal to still better metal.

     Further increases in efficiency come from controlling waste.
Watt separated the condenser from the cylinder to conserve heat
in his steam engine, and used insulation besides.  Once electri-
city came into use, insulators and conductors were significant
elements.  Internal combustion engines must be designed to burn
all of the fuel injected, letting almost none escape in the

     Again, efficiency increases as the dead load shrinks.  In
automobiles, the weight of the engine, frame, shell, and fuel is
dead load; the same is true of every vehicle.  A Newcomen engine
could not well drive a train or ship because the dead load was
too large and the power too small.  Diesel locomotives weigh less
than steam locomotives of the same power, and carry no water. Oil
tankers and airplanes have grown larger because the dead load per
unit of cargo decreases with scale.  Most factory machines are
lighter than they once were, because improved materials are
stronger per unit weight.

     But in the end efficiency often depends on a change in the
whole gestalt of the system, replacement of one process by
another.  A compound steam engine, using a first set of cylinders
with high-pressure steam and passing the exhaust at lower pres-
sure to a second set of cylinders, is more efficient than a
simple steam engine.  Turbines are more efficient for both water
and steam power than the earlier waterwheels or steam pistons.

     I think that it is fair from our perspective to call the
systems of rank 3 inefficient. For many reasons, reasons of each
of the kinds I have enumerated, rank 3 used more fossil fuels for
its purposes than we would need to accomplish the same ends.  The
resources are gone, and are still going as the world continues to
use rank 3 systems in many places for many purposes.  On the
other hand it seems equally fair to characterize efficiency as a
rank 3 invention.  Rank 2 did not think about efficiency so much,
and accordingly did not achieve so much improvement.  During the
centuries when rank 3 thinking was the best on Earth, much was
done to improve the efficiency of technological processes, and
the results were dramatic.

3.5.4. Toward Rank 4

     The significant novelty with regard to efficiency that we
can see around us as we try to find a route to rank 4 is that we
apply a much broader definition of resources in analyzing the
efficiency of any process.  We are trying to look further into
the future than the fourteenth century ironmasters who stripped
Britain of its forests to fuel their furnaces.  We are trying to
see efficiency in terms of process cost, and to include every
kind of cost in our calculations:  Sunlight, in these terms, is
cheap in comparison with coal just because the sun will continue
to shine whether we make something with its light or not, but the
coal is gone once we burn it.  And the residue that a process
dumps into air, water, or land as waste is to be recognized as
adding to the cost of the process, in proportion as the wastes
are harmful and long-lasting.

     We cannot yet carry out such cost analyses satisfactorily,
because we do not know enough about the large-scale dynamics of
the natural systems in which we live.  We are surprised, from
time to time, by effects that are either worse or not so bad as
we predict.  The recent examples of the ozone hole and greenhouse
effect serve to remind us that we cannot claim to have so much as
an inventory of all the consequences of technological activity.

     But, just as efficiency turns out not to be an indicator of
rankshift in general but only an indicator of rank 3 thinking, so
I believe that breadth of vision is characteristic of our times,
and perhaps a sign that we are actually laying a basis for a new


     Technological advance is, in part, an increase in the ratio
     of power to weight in energy converters.  This increase is
     often counterbalanced by a demand for a greater amount of

     Some years ago, I invented a story about the computer:  If
progress in transportation had been as rapid as progress in
computaton from 1945 to 1965, you could have bought a Cadillac
automobile weighing no more than a paper plane for the price of a
postage stamp.  Later I heard enough versions of this story from
enough sources to believe that others had thought of it for
themselves, and to wonder if I had myself unconsciously repeated
it from a forgotten source.

     But in fact dramatic shrinkage of energy converters did
occur.  Earlier.  Daimler improved the internal combustion engine
from 1800 pounds per horsepower to 45, or something like that.
Steam engines ran at low pressure and were too big and heavy (in
proportion to power output) to move around; high-pressure steam
engines made railways possible.  And so on.

     I mentioned above that the rowers' weight was a large part
of the weight of an oar-propelled galley.  Were the sails, masts,
rigging, sailors, and their food a larger or smaller part of the
weight of a clipper than the engines and fuel supply in a super-

     But note that improvements in efficiency and compactness
have generally served not only to do things better on the same
general plan but also to facilitate doing things on new plans. 
We shift from sailing ships to supertankers, but also to jet air-
planes.  We shift from shallow coal mines to deep, but also to
open-pit and hydraulic mining, which move far more earth to get
the same amount of coal.

     Here are issues that merit discussion in terms of envi-
ronmental impact, the third world's hope of enjoying material
living standards comparable to ours, and so on and so on. 
Progress often consists in reducing the size and energy cost of
some technology.  If that were the whole of it, we could foresee
the spread of cheaper and cheaper technology to more and more
people, with only moderate growth of total energy consumption. 
But, often, the improved thinking that makes an old technology
more efficient also invents a new technology.  The old goal
becomes easier to achieve, but now we have a new goal.  Once we
asked, "Can I have a vacation?"  Eventually we shall ask, "Can I
have a vacation on the Moon?"  The long-term future of the Earth
depends on whether material ambition continues to climb as fast
as the cost of satisfying old ambitions diminishes.

     And a real clinker.  Take a man in India who sits under a
tree all day and put him to work--hard physical labor.  Now he
needs more food.  If his additional requirement drains the
world's supply of energy more than a machine to do the same
physical work, which way should India go?


     3.7.1.  Primary Effects.  More of everything ...      3_7_1*
     3.7.2.  Secondary Effects.  Reorganizing ...          3_7_2*
     3.7.3.  Tertiary Effects.  Thought itself changes ... 3_7_3*

     A society with greater flux of energy has more material
     goods, more education, longer lifespan, different kinds of
     government, and, in the long run, different modes of cogni-
     tion.  Some of these differences may be attributed largely
     to the plenitude of energy, but most must result when many
     factors change together.

3.7.1. Primary Effects

     Material welfare, we might suppose, responds most directly
to changes in the flux of energy.  Let's look at some components:

                                         R 1   R 2   R 3   R 3++
Nourishing, palatable food               Good  Poor  Fair  Good
Comfortable, pleasing clothes            Poor  Poor  Fair  Good
Spacious, handsome shelter               ?     Poor  Poor  Fair
Furnished in comfort                     ?     Poor  Poor  Fair
Art, entertainment, diversion            Good  Fair  Fair  Good
Social companionship                     Good  Good  Fair  Poor
Education and information                None  Poor  Fair  Good
Heat and light                           Poor  Poor  Fair  Good
Communication                            None  Poor  Fair  Good
Transportation                           None  None  Fair  Good
Security                                 None  None  Fair  Fair
Health care                              None  None  Fair  Fair

My ratings are nothing but impressions; the reader may freely
disagree.  These ratings concern the typical person, with neither
power nor wealth.

     According to my calculations, material welfare is about the
same for a modern factory worker as for a forager:

                              Rank 1  Rank 2  Rank 3++

Energy taken     Mcal/day       5.95   25.85    230
Power used       Hph/day        0.57    5.10     25.36
                 Mcal/day       0.37    3.28
Human labor      Hours/week    23.76   60.00     40
Material welfare 1990 $/week  $46.20  $27.66    $50

Efficiency       %              8.20   12.69      2.5%
Wage rate        1990 $/hr     $1.94   $0.77     $2.50
Empowerment      Hph/1990 $     0.09    1.11      0.0224

The USA in recent years takes from the environment about 40 times
as much energy per capita as a typical foraging society. Material
welfare comes out about equal.  Suppose we take away from the
rank 1 forager half of what I have allowed, and give the modern
American twice as much; then the ratio comes out a 4:1 on materi-
al welfare.  But not 40:1.

     Paul A. Samuelson, a renowned economist at MIT, presents a
chart of "English price levels and real wage, 1270-1980" in his
textbook of economics (11th edition, p. 257). The source is an
article by E. H. Phelps Brown and S. V. Hopkins ( WAGEBIBL* ),
and the source is careful to caution the reader about the weak-
ness of the data. The curve for real wages is flat from 1300 to
1800 (the period when I estimate $27.66 per person per week),
then rises to eight times as high in 1980 while I only arrive at
a doubling.

     We may ask why the economist's figures grow faster than
mine, and why neither his nor mine grow faster than they do.

     The most plausible answer to the first question is that my
figures are wrong.  (Further checking will test that answer.) 
But we should also note that economists have usually not given
credit for unpaid work:  Raising food to eat, not to sell;
housework; child rearing; and so on.  I believe that material
welfare depends on unpaid as well as on paid work, and I may take
more account of it than the economists.  Also we may wonder
whether the late rise in wages results in averaging in some
higher-paid workers, managers, etc., who are not included in my
     Nevertheless, even if it turns out that the best measure of
real wages, or material welfare, grows by a factor of 16 from
agriculture to advanced industrial society, that gain is small
(ONLY 16:1?) in comparison with the amount of invention, innova-
tion, and organization that has been invested.  And agriculture
looks to be poor in comparison with foraging.  So I feel the need
for an answer to the second question, whatever mistakes I have
made in my calculations.

     And the only answer I can believe is that increasing popula-
tion density has introduced new costs that absorb the products of
invention and labor.  To force sufficient food from the same
Earth as population grows by a factor of 1000 or 10,000, we must
be clever and diligent.  Shelter, transportation, and communica-
tion become more difficult:  One house has to be built on top of
another, traffic jams intensify, etc.  My conclusion is that we
have paid dearly, for 10,000 years, for our propensity to breed
above replacement rate.

     Joel Mokyr, whose _Lever of Riches_ (in BIBLNOTE* ) was
published after the preliminary edition of this diskbook, says,

          When the resource base of an economy expands, it
     can do one of two things: it can enjoy higher living
     standards, or it can, in H. G. Wells's famous phrase,
     "spend the gifts of nature on the mere insensate multi-
     plication of common life."  In recent history, economic
     growth has occurred _despite_ population growth. 
     Before that, as Malthus and the classical political
     economists never tired of pointing out, the growth of
     population relentlessly devoured the fruits of produc-
     tivity growth, and living standards, as far as we can
     measure them, changed very little in the long run.  (p.

So my conclusion merely coincides with an old and well-argued
line of thought.  Since population growth turns out to be a major
variable, I add an appendix describing the growth of Earth's

     We should remember, in all of this, that material welfare is
only crudely measured in dollars.  Electronics comes cheap, and
the fee of a good modern physician may not be higher than that of
a shaman, however much more effective modern medicine may be in
reducing pain and prolonging life.

3.7.2.  Secondary Effects

     The secondary effects of increasing energy flux are diffuse.
Furthermore, they are mostly the joint effects of energy increase
together with one or more of the primary effects.

     Let me begin with competition.  In a society where energy is
scarce and costly, very little travels far between production and
consumption.  Most goods are offered for sale only within a
narrow radius, and within that territory there are few suppliers
for many goods.  A peasant either shoes his own horses or takes
them to the blacksmith in his own village; he does not go to the
nearest town.  Effectively, the blacksmith has no competitor.  In
the eighteenth century, the British market for iron was segmented
geographically and inter-regional competition hardly occurred
(Hyde, p. 48, in InRvBIBL* ).  Without railroads, food did not
travel far; local famines could occur, and certainly market
gardeners did not compete with imported fruits or vegetables. 
Cheaper energy enlarges market territories and makes possible
more competition.

     Next, new domains of resources become available.  Coal could
be brought from deeper underground when energy could be applied
to pumping water and lifting the coal.  Europe could obtain raw
materials from overseas colonies; sailing ships sufficed in the
beginning, but steamships enlarged the commerce.  Energy must be
used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors.  Will space flight
open a new domain of resources?  One possibility is that we
capture sunlight that does not reach Earth and beam it down; as
an alternative to burning fossil fuel, this possibility has
merit, but as a supplement it is merely another contributor to
global warming.

     Going further, take longevity.  Energy increase aids longev-
ity, since there is enough heat to keep everyone warm in cold
weather, and eventually to cool them in hot weather.  The in-
crease in agricultural production yields more food for all, and
the increases in production and distrubution yield more varied
diets for many.  Energy is used to pump the water that carries
away excrement from cities, making them cleaner and healthier,
but various technologies have to advance to provide the parts of
the sewage system.

     Another secondary effect is education.  Having more energy
is a necessary condition for widespread education.  General
advance in technology motivates governments to educate their
populations, since -- from the industrial revolution onward --
uneducated workers are inadequate to run the system.

     Another is change in the criteria for sociopolitical promi-
nence.  As long as all work is done by human muscle, the only
kind of organization is for fighting and, perhaps, ritual. The
prominent persons are those skilled in organizing and carrying
out combat and rites.  Even in rank 2, with beasts of burden,
sailing ships, and a few waterwheels, leadership does little
more; some leaders may have skill at keeping a community tran-
quil, or skill as traders. The higher energy levels of rank 3,
and the resulting increase in all sectors of the economy, raise
the value of both technology and organization.  Persons who can
make a factory succeed rise to prominence.  Some of them acquire
social power.  What happens at rank 4 is obscure, but my guess is
that gross energy flux--input--will not go up much, net energy
flux--output--will increase, and the leadership that achieves
this outcome will have somewhat different qualities from those
who have been most prominent in western civilization for the last
century or two.

     Finally, for this chapter, a secondary effect of increasing
energy flux and efficiency is longer hours of work for most of
the population.  Ethnographers tell of simple societies in which
the average person works 2 hours a day.  We went up to 70-80 hour
weeks, and fought our way back to 35-40 hour weeks.  Why should
labor-saving machines induce us to work more?  Probably just
because they made work useful.  Human beings seem voracious, not
just for food, warmth, and a dry place to sleep, but for diversi-
ty of experience and for aesthetic experience.  Psychopathology
may be involved somewhat, and in our present condition we may
raise demand artificially with advertising and also (for example)
by showing affluent homes on television.  If 2 hours work a day
yields all the food you want, and more work would yield nothing
but unwanted food, why work another hour?  If an extra hour a day
earns the income to buy a fresh experience, a healthy person 
might decide to do the work even without propaganda or compul-

     These, and surely many more, secondary effects of energy
increase are direct:  They happen regardless of higher-order
patterns of culture.  When higher-order patterns change, they
lead to tertiary effects, my next topic.

3.7.3.  Tertiary Effects

     When the quantity of energy that a culture can command goes
up by an order of magnitude (coal becomes available) and effi-
ciency improves (Watt engine replaces Newcomen), the culture
applies that energy to making more goods (cotton).  In Europe,
people suddenly benefitted from new opportunities:

     In 1842 "'the cotton mills were in crisis.  They were
     choking to death, as the warehouses were overflowing
     and there were no buyers.  ... Prices fell ... until
     cotton was selling at six sous  ...  The sound of six
     sous seemed to act as a trigger.  Millions of buyers
     ... who had never bought [textiles] before, began to
     stir.  ... And the result was a major, though little
     remarked  revolution  in  France, a revolution in
     cleanliness and the suddenly improved appearance of the
     poor home  ...  [Linen] was now possessed by whole
     classes who had never had any since the world began.'"
     Michelet, _Le Peuple_, 1899:73-74, quoted FBCC* 2:183

Thus the primary effects.

     Order of magnitude changes seem to result from positive
feedback loops.  Steam-driven pumps facilitate mining; cheaper
coal means cheaper iron; cheaper iron means more machines; and
some of the machines are used to mine and move the coal, so coal
gets even cheaper and around we go.  Along the way, new systems
come in (railroads) that trigger new loops:  The railroads needed
enough iron to bring the price down for all uses.

     Plentiful energy (relative to earlier levels), in combina-
tion with all the changes that result immediately, changes the
nature of work.  Almost everyone was a farmer before the indus-
trial revolution; almost everyone was a hunter or gatherer before
the agricultural revolution.  Beasts of burden may have made
possible the concentration of people in towns and cities (al-
though the American proto-civilizations did not have beasts of
burden; food was brought in by human porters).  Steam-powered
machines needed a new kind of worker, one who could understand

Ernest Gellner* writes that

     Work, in industrial society, does not mean moving
     matter.  The paradigm of work is no longer ploughing,
     reaping, thrashing.  Work, in the main, is no longer
     the manipulation of things, but of meanings."  (pp.

Apprenticeship is not an adequate preparation for that kind of

     "... the major part of training in industrial society
     is generic training ... its educational system is ...
     the least specialized ..."  (p. 27)

Gellner believes that the need for workers with primary education
led to the formation of homogeneous cultures over wide areas:  If
the kids must be taught, the teachers must be trained, and the
trainers must have professorial education (p. 34).  The educa-
tional system as a whole cannot be small.

     Thus secondary effects.

     All of which changes the way people think.  I remind you of
the higher-order patterns that determine reality:

     Medieval Europe:    Essence and ultimacy
     Modern west:        Matter and causality

Alchemy, a medieval discipline, devoted itself to understanding
substances as manifestations of the godhead.  Chemistry, a modern
western discipline, wants to know what reactions the elements
enter into.  Alchemy explains events by reference to the ultimate
proper state of the substance; chemistry, by reference to local
and immediate causal events.  Experience in life and laboratory
after 1500 were _unreal_ to the medieval higher-order pattern.
It tried to stop the world, but failed; whereupon it died.
People who grew up without committing themselves to the old
pattern, outsiders perhaps, arrived at the new pattern of
causality and taught it.  Thus tertiary effects.

     Are we experiencing tertiary effects of a new burst of
energy today?  We certainly are.  Petroleum is not a very good
source of energy until it is cracked, and cracking is beyond the
capacity of rank 3 chemistry (I judge).  Gasoline could only
become plentiful when better thinking produced subtler processes
of conversion.  In turn, gasoline yielded more energy more
efficiently than coal, in more compact unit systems--automo-
biles, in particular.  Mobility went up.  Electricity is a good
form for the distribution of energy, since no mass has to be
conveyed to the point of use.  But electricity is an obscure
topic to a rank 3 thinker.  It seems to me that telegraphy, with
its dot-dash code, is just possible for rank 3 thought, but that
the telephone, with its analogue of speech as a waveform, is well
up on the growth curve toward rank 4.  So electricity enhances
communication, and facilitates the distribution of energy to hand
tools in factories, farms, and homes.

     And so we come to the computer.

     The experiences of modern humanity, in life and laboratory,
are _unreal_ to anyone whose highest-order pattern is causality.
Life in the large has always been too complex for causal explana-
tion, but by now what goes on around us, on the most immediate
and obvious level, is too complex for causal explanation.  More
happens; we see further; and the time intervals between connected
events are shorter.  We need a new higher-order pattern, and we
do not have one.  So we flail around.  The  new pattern, if it
emerges, may involve cybernetics (feedback loops), nonlinear
systems (chaos, Prigogine's dissipative structures), maybe more. 
Only it hasn't crystallized anywhere that I know of.

     For the essence-and-ultimacy thinker, slavery is a natural
state, the _ultimate_ condition of a person who is in _essence_ a
slave.  For the causal thinker, slavery is the result of some-
thing that may or may not be identifiable; all men are created
equal, and human actions can give or withhold their chance for
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

     Rank 3 thinkers look for the causes of war.  I wonder
whether rank 4 thinkers will despise that view as much as we
despise the view that some men are natural slaves?  Perhaps, with
a new higher-order pattern, they will reject war as our 19th
century ancestors rejected slavery.

     Coda:  The tertiary effects of energy increase cannot be
separated from the tertiary effects of any other aspect of rank
shift.  At the tertiary level, all aspects of rankshift are
involved in such an intricate network of feedback loops that they
are all involved in each outcome.

3.A. Appendix: Population Growth

     The fact of population growth is well known.  The next
screen shows numbers from several sources:  Campbell* (Table
12.5, p. 397); McEvedy & Jones; and Kennedy ( PREP21* ).  Similar
numbers are given by Braudel ( FBCC* 1:33, 1:46-47).  Population
at the end of the Palaeolithic is estimated as 3-5 M by Hassan
(1975), Dumond (1975), Deevey (1960), and Braidwood & Reed (1957
in AGRIBIBL* ) but in a later book (1981) Hassan raises that to
8-9 M.  Coale puts population 2 Kya at 200 M.  (See POPLBIBL* )

     In the next screen, Mya = Million years ago; Kya = thousand
years ago (2 Kya = AD 1); and population is given in millions


  1 Mya   Paleolithic begins                    0.125 M    Deevey
100 Kya   Homo sapiens appears                  1.7 M     McEvedy
 25 Kya   End of tool-use rise                  3 M        Deevey
 12 Kya   End Palaeolithic                    2-9 M     See below
  5 Kya   Primary cycle begins
  2 Kya   Agriculture                         200 M      Campbell
  2 Kya   Primary cycle ends                  190 M       McEvedy
AD  500   Medieval cycle begins
   1200   Medieval cycle ends                 360 M       McEvedy
   1600   Literate age                        500 M      Campbell
   1800   Industrialization cycle begins      900 M       McEvedy
   1860   Industrial age                     1000 M      Campbell
   1940   Nuclear age begins                 2300 M      Campbell
   1965                                      4400 M      Campbell
   1990                                      5300 M            UN
   2025                                      8500 M            UN
   2100                                     10000 M    World Bank
   2200   Modernization cycle ends           8250 M       McEvedy

     Deevey (1960) suggested that fastest population growth
occurred in three revolutionary periods, when something new had
appeared in culture; each rapid rise was followed by a period of
approximately stable population.  The first rise followed the
introduction of tools, -1m to -25k, pop. 125 K to 3 M.  Campbell
and McEvedy & Jones also note periods of rapid growth.

     Of course, the periods of rapid population growth correspond
to rankshifts.  The first is the shift from rank 0 to rank 1; the
next is the shift from rank 1 to rank 2, when population growth
was centered around the eastern end of the Mediterranean.  Then,
mostly between AD 1000 and AD 1200 ( McEvedy & Jones 347) Europe
rose again from rank 1 to rank 2.  Another period of rapid growth
came as the shift from rank 2 to rank 3 approached completion.

     What seems to have happened now is that the rank-3 rise
spread from a few small regions to the whole Earth after World
War II; there was no plateau, just a change from a high rate of
growth for the sapient population--mixing higher rates in some
areas and lower rates in others--to a higher rate when the slow-
growth regions began to grow rapidly.

     Think of it this way:  Some 5-10 Kya, the population of
Earth was on the order of magnitude of 1-10 M (and if you want a
more precise number, please remember that the data are not very
good).  At that time, Earth was _full_ of sapients; gathering
plants and hunting animals, they needed all of Earth's high-
quality territory to flourish.  By 1800, the population of Earth
was about 1000 M.  That is to say, Earth's sapient population
increased by a factor of 100 to 1000.  Only technological prog-
ress can explain the _possibility_ of providing sustenance for a
thousand times as many sapients in the same territory (or in a
territory only slightly larger).

     From the fact that Earth was full when agriculture first
began, and the fact that agriculture began in several widely
separated places at about the same time, Nathan Mark Cohen
concluded that agriculture was the sapient response to a food
crisis.  (See also Harner 1970.)  Cohen's 1977 book is often
cited and his ideas debated; I allow some truth to his position,
but sapients can respond to food crises in other ways:  Avoid
procreation (this is the method that Handwerker* considers most
common); kill or neglect infants; kill one another in combat. 
(Disasters also hold down population growth somewhat.)  Remember,
until a short time ago periods of rapid rise were separated by
long periods of level population.  It is possible for those who
live to adulthood to live satisfactory lives, eating adequately,
in a territory just adequate to their needs given their technolo-
gy.  (References in AGRIBIBL* .)

     My reading of the simultaneity that Cohen emphasizes is that
the cognitive requirements for rankshift took about the same
length of time everywhere.  Starting (as I suppose) from a common
origin, sapients spread over Earth, and by blind variation and
selective retention arrived, in various places, and cultures that
could give birth to rank 2 thought.  The process may be slowed a
little by migration; in the Americas, most remote from the place
of origin, agriculture came somewhat later.

     Population growth follows rankshift, then, because sapients
tend to raise as many children as circumstances permit.  If the
question is whether the adults or the children will eat, the
answer is that the adults eat and the children die.  But if the
food supply is enough for all, the children grow up and the
population increases.

     It seems to me, however, that the mechanisms of analysis and
decision available to rank 1 and rank 2 do not guarantee that the
population will remain small enough for progress in technology to
bring improved welfare.  Rank 3 populations have often reduced 
their rates of procreation.  Everyone talks about this
phenomenon, and everyone has an explanation:  Desire for
more goods, for more education and a better job, alienation,
or the lower economic value of children in industrial life. 
The simplest explanation, in my opinion, would be that rank
3 sapients think more effectively about the long-term
consequences of their actions.

[Mind-Culture Coevolution Home] [Tech Evol Contents]
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[5 Politics] [6 Investment] [7 Appropriate] [8 Best They Could]
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