Part 1: What Is Energy Flux Density?


Reversing the Devastation of Globalization


The prospects of a re-election of Donald Trump, and a successful defeat of the attempted coup against his presidency, raises the potential for the United States to return to the mission orientation long advocated for by Lyndon LaRouche. 
The enemy is the British imperial system, including, emphatically, ideological enslavement, as has been increasingly enforced upon the world in the name of globalization (what some call globalism).¹  This present system is responsible for the deaths of countless millions throughout the underdeveloped world, and has left so-called developed countries like the United States in post-industrial ruins. 

What is the alternative? 

A new world economic system, predicated on the cooperation among sovereign nation states, replacing the overarching influence and control of financial and other cartels controlling the options and destiny available to individual nations, as exemplified by the operations run out of the City of London and the oligarchical slime mold surrounding the British royal family.²  In 2009, LaRouche began to heavily promote his proposal for an alliance between the United States, Russia, China, and India to provide the necessary strategic and economic power bloc needed to force through this new global system, which could be organized under the name of a new Bretton Woods System. 

The requirements, for the United States and the world, for reversing the disastrous effects of globalization and implementing the type of development required are immense. To make this vast task more manageable, in this series of six articles we explore one of LaRouche's most emphasized key metrics for assessing true economic growth or decline, entropy or negentropy, progress or stagnation—energy flux density.

 

Why Mathematical and Reductionist Minds Stumble

A persistent stumbling block preventing many from understanding this concept is the attempt to define a single formula to characterize this metric. As LaRouche said in a 2006 article, “The trouble with even acceptable mathematical formulations, lies in the tendency of the reductionist to treat the mathematics as the substance, rather than the shadow it is, of the ontological actuality of the relevant concept.”³

Economies are complex dynamic systems, not reductionist mechanical ones.  Approaching an economic system with a preset formula is like marching into a new mountain range with a map made by someone who has never been there.

With the correct—top-down and dynamic—approach, we can define key guide posts showing the direction of much-needed progress for the U.S. and world economies.  Understood in this way, energy flux density, when properly defined, becomes a characteristic shadow of negentropic development in complex systems. As LaRouche discussed this in a 1987 article: 

“What I have accomplished through my own discoveries in economic science, is to define the interdependency of increase of potential population-density with not only advances in technology,  but the correlation between the possibility of advances in technology and increase of both the energy-density and energy-flux density of energy supplied to human activity. The increase of the relative and absolute power of nations, in total,  per capita, and per unit of land-area, is determined in this way.  Thus, as the increase or decrease of this power determines the relative and absolute conditions of nations and persons, so the results of policies are measurable. The functions for physical economy so defined are non-linear; hence, the making of policy, and the consequences of choices of policy, as their reality is measurable in such terms of physical economy, embodies the same non-linearity.”

—“The Deeper Grounds for Philosophical Doubts Respecting the Existence of ‘Joe Biden,’” Lyndon LaRouche, The LaRouche Democratic Campaign, September 28, 1987. 

Breaking down each literal aspect of the term “energy flux density,” we are looking at a metric that considers the concentration, or density, of the rate or flow of energy application or consumption. Obviously a wide range of specific values could be used, depending on the particular system or process in question—calories per cubic centimeter per day, BTUs per square meter per second, kilowatts per square kilometer, and so on.

Energy flux density is a powerful tool for developing important insights into a spectrum of economic processes—from the productive powers of labor of individual workers; to expressions of technological change within economic sectors; to national, regional, and even global economies considered as unities.  But it provides more universal insights as well—in the evolutionary development of biological systems, abiotic astronomical systems in the very large, and domains of physical chemistry in the very small. 

When economics is properly understood from the most fundamental basis—the connection between a science of physical economy and the uniquely human implications of the epistemology understood by a continuity of revolutionary thinkers from Plato, to Nicolas of Cusa, to Lyndon LaRouche—the application of what we are introducing as specifically an economic metric throughout such a wide variety of other systems is not at all a mystery.  This is elaborated in the concluding, sixth part of this series. 

In the microscopic non-living domain, energy flux density becomes a metric directly associated with the potentialities and phase changes in physical chemistry.  One fascinating example is in the development of femtosecond petawatt laser systems.  A petawatt is an incredible rate of energy flow per time, one quadrillion (or a million billion) joules per second—about 50 times greater than the average rate of total primary energy consumption for all nations on the planet.  However, this is only applied for an equally incredibly brief period of time, as short as a femtosecond, or one quadrillionth (a millionth of a billionth) of a second.  Femtosecond petawatt lasers can operate at energy flux densities which transcend the basic properties of standard chemistry, such as thermal effects, generating physical interactions before the chemical process of heating can even begin.  The entry into this trans-thermal domain is characteristic of a physical chemistry phase shift. Physical chemistry is discussed more in part two of this series. 

In the macroscopic biological domain, the evolutionary development of life to more advanced forms can also be measured by increases in energy flux density, when comparing successive species and higher taxonomic groups (with an emphasis on classes).  The measure of the average metabolism of a species can be seen as a rough energy flux density metric—measuring kilowatt hours per kilogram of body mass per day, for example.  However, when we account for the intrinsic biological time characteristics of different species (as defined in biological allometric scaling laws), we come to energy flux density-type measurements which appear to unify all species within given taxonomic classes (at least for tetrapod classes of animal life).  Rather than kilowatt hours per kilogram per day (characterizing a species), we can use kilowatt hours per kilogram per lifespan to characterize a taxonomic class (subsuming many species).

 

Mouse

Antelope

Mass (kg)

0.009

100

Metabolic Rate (watts)

0.06

149

W / kg

6.66

1.49

Energy per Lifespan per Mass

(kWh/ kg / lifespan)

486

392

For a mouse (Perognathus longimembris) and an antelope (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) there is nearly a five fold difference between their metabolism per unit of body mass.  However, when we measure the metabolism against their lifespans, the values come very close (within 25%).

Taking this one step further, we can select species sometimes referred to as “living fossils” (thought to be species relatively unchanged over tens of millions of years), for insights into how the evolutionary development of life on Earth can be measured by the increasing energy flux density of respective species, and of the biosphere as a whole.  For example, compare a living fossil amphibian, the hellbender, with a living fossil reptile, the tuatara, and a modern mammal, a squirrel.  The successive energy flux density values, 18, 110, and 350 kilowatt hours per kilogram per lifespan, are likely indicative of the evolutionary advance of the biosphere over tens (or perhaps hundreds) of millions of years.


Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) credit: Andrew Hoffman, 2007; Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) credit: Wikimedia user HeresH (CC 3.0); Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis) credit: Wikimedia user Eborutta (CC 3.0).

 

 Hellbender 

 Tuatara 

 Squirrel 

Taxonomic Class

Amphibian

Reptile

Mammal

Average Adult Mass (kg)

0.36

0.43

0.25

Lifespan (years) 

29 (wild)

90 (captivity)

10.4 (captivity)

Metabolism (W/kg)

0.071

0.141

3.9

kWh/ kg / Lifespan 

18

110

350

Going in a seemingly completely different direction, we can see expressions of the energy flux density metric in the astronomical domain. This takes us to interesting studies of “energy rate density”—a different name given to a (quantitatively) similar metric.  The author of these studies, Professor Eric Chaisson, aimed to define a universal metric for the level of complexity of systems, and settled on a measure of energy consumption per mass per time, what he called “energy rate density.” Chaisson also applies his energy rate density assessment to the evolutionary development of life on Earth, and the development of human societies, although from a reductionist standpoint (this distinction will be elaborated in part six) and well after LaRouche was writing on the subject of energy flux density.  In the astronomical domain, he shows that the life cycles of individual stars and the evolutionary development of entire galactic systems are characterized by increasing energy rate densities.  Further, the increasing energy rate density of a star across its life cycle is directly associated with the production of greater numbers of distinct elements (and isotopes) of the periodic table—another expression of the relation between energy flux density and physical chemistry. 

The expressions across these vast scales of time and size, and transcending the qualitatively distinct domains of the non-living, to the living, to the human cognitive, leads to the perspective of assessing the relative rates of energy flux density of one developing domain against another developing domain—removing any notion of a static baseline from our scientific assessments.  Starting in the 1990s, LaRouche often discussed this type of approach in terms of the work of Vladimir Vernadsky.  For example, in his 2010 paper, “What Your Accountant Doesn’t Know: The Science of Society”: 

“Actually, the rate of relative progress (after discounting for attrition) is a product of the interaction among the representatives of Vernadsky’s three categories: Lithosphere, Biosphere, and Noösphere. Contrary to all positivists and their reductionist forebears, the universe is not subject to any alleged 'principle' of universal entropy. The so-called 'second law of thermodynamics' is simply fraudulent, and a form of pseudo-science. The universe is anti-entropic in all respects, for each of the three categories which I have emphasized here (Lithosphere, Biosphere, and Noösphere). For what bears on the notion of the Lithosphere, the raw reflection of a principle of anti-entropy is a general succession of phases of increased anti-entropy comparable to a notion of qualitatively increasing levels of energy-flux density. Secondly, biological anti-entropy among living systems generally, is the relevant expression. Thirdly, we have the creative powers of the individual personality, as Leibniz defined ‘free energy’ in physical terms of a principle of least action. So, for example, living processes, by the collecting of specific arrays of minerals according to their nature, present mankind with more or less rich concentrations of what we treat as ores. Thus, in all cases, man tends to run ahead of the rate of replenishment of the relatively richest ores, which requires man to resort to modes of production of increased capital-intensity and higher rates of energy-flux density. The array of these and related considerations, defines a physical notion of anti-entropy, which, in turn, points out the significance of the notion of higher levels of anti-entropy as the basis for the relevant notion of economic value.”

In this sense, the expression of true, physical anti-entropy within human societies becomes the leading expression of mankind’s scientific knowledge.  Again, more on this in part six. 

 

Expressions in Economics

In 1982, LaRouche assembled a team to study the characteristics of technological transformations, as expressed in specific industries and sectors of the U.S. economy.  As one participant described it when publishing his contributions, “The task was to investigate, over the existence of an industry, the relationships among relative energy consumption; relative energy flux density; relative capital intensity; and output per capita, per member of the labor force, and per industrial operative.”

For the case of the iron and steel industry, a clear relationship between energy flux density and productivity was shown throughout the history of the United States.  LaRouche later referenced this work when emphasizing the importance of energy flux density: 

“The first constraint affecting the technology function is energy-density per per capita unit of population-density.  To achieve the general realization of a certain level of productive technology,  a correlated minimal level of energy-density per per capita unit of population-density must be realized. In second approximation, we must consider the temperature-equivalent of the energy-density supplied. The following graph of energy-flux densities of iron and steel production, from sixteenth-century to modern methods, illustrates the point.  The energy-flux density supplied to power processes, and as applied to the point of production, must increase secularly with technological progress.”

—“A New Anthropology Based Upon the Science of Physical Economy,” Lyndon LaRouche, May 10, 1988.

As shown in the graphic below referenced by LaRouche in the quote, the increases in the productivity of the labor force in the iron and steel industry were always associated with increasing energy flux density in the modes of production. 

However, this was not a smooth, continuous rise, but a succession of distinct hyperbolic-like curves, each expressing a new technology—from charcoal furnaces, to anthracite coal furnaces, to coke furnaces with superheated blasts, to computerization and other advances spun off from NASA’s Apollo Moon landing program. Although each new technology is designed to operate at a higher level of energy flux density, each technology also appears to have an inherent boundary limiting the potential productivity, despite increases of energy flux density beyond a certain point—the equivalent of the asymptote for the hyperbolic character of the curve. 

After the potential of a given technology has been exhausted, the transition to a new technology is required for the continuation of improvements in the productive powers of labor.  The introduction of the new technology is expressed as a discrete break from the prior hyperbolic-type curve, and the initiation of a new hyperbolic-type curve.  As LaRouche stressed in many locations (including his initiative to this 1982 team), new technologies will appear as mathematical singularities, with respect to the formalized measurements associated with the prior technology.

Deeper insights will be gained when examining this trifold relation of physical economic productivity, technology, and energy flux density from the standpoint of physical chemistry (elaborated in the subsequent articles). 

However, while this series reviews these considerations, the main focus is to provide a competent framework for treating a national physical economy as a single system to defined its inherent energy flux density metrics from its intrinsic characteristics as a dynamic entity. 

This is somewhat analogous to the distinction between measuring the energy flux density of individual species and measuring the energy flux density of the biosphere as a whole (as Vladimir Vernadsky defined the term biosphere).  Additionally, the importance of using the intrinsic biological time characteristics of species is a useful illustration of defining metrics from the intrinsic characteristics as a dynamic entity (rather than an a priori formula, or cartesian notions of space and time). 

Applying this approach to each individual country of the world, in part three we assess the devastating consequences of the failed globalization and radical environmental policies over the past two generations (unnecessarily taking the lives of tens of millions, by extremely conservative estimates), and, in part five, define what is required to ensure adequate levels of development over the next generation (taking the world in 2050 as the reference point).  Based on this assessment, an immediate mobilization for mass production and implementation of nuclear fission power is critical, together with a crash program to demonstrate sustained fusion power generation and develop commercializable designs for mass use.  Further, all silly attempts at large-scale utilization of wind and solar must be abandoned, and a short-term (five-to ten-year) rapid expansion of coal and natural gas usage undertaken to support the economic gear-up needed to support the successful transition to the fission and fusion program. 

Based on this, an estimate of the required number of nuclear fission power plants is developed. To put us on track to meet the needs of the planet by the year 2050, an initial production of 2,000 small modular nuclear reactors and 400 large nuclear reactors is needed by 2030, and a total of 30,000 small modular reactors and 7,000 larger reactors by 2050. 


Produced utilizing population growth estimates from the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019) (World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1) and historical data from the IEA (2014) (based on IEA data from IEA (1960-2016), www.iea.org/statistics; all rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston).

Because this almost certainly exceeds current global production capacity, a crash mobilization to expand manufacturing capabilities is necessary for the survival of hundreds of millions of people doomed to suffer and die from the devastating effects of energy poverty under the continuation of the recent policies of globalization and radical environmentalism (as expressed in the policy of CO₂ reduction programs, for example).  

However, the real bottleneck is political and strategic, not technical.  What is required is the needed political and strategic alliance among leading countries to overturn the present global system, as LaRouche defined in his four powers proposal (the United States, China, Russia, and India).  While there are significant tensions and disagreements between various members of this proposed alliance (typified by strained relations between the United States and China), these countries need to recognize that the true enemy is not another country, but the present system of globalization and the oligarchical factions running it.  

There will continue to be tensions and disagreements, but with a new global system predicated upon respect for the sovereignty of individual nations and upon the necessity of rapid and large-scale economic development globally, the conditions for durable peace can be achieved. As LaRouche said in a 1988 “summary of [his] views on the tasks of establishing an equitable form of new international monetary order”:

“We must not permit this planet to be degraded into a wilderness, but must leave it an improved garden for the habitation of future generations of mankind. The costs of maintaining the fertility and fecundity of that garden of Earth we must manage, are an intrinsic part of the cost of production.  With effective water-management, efficient general transportation, and, above all, more energy per capita at ever higher qualities of energy-flux density, we can do this job at an ever-lower incurred social cost.”

—“The Tasks of Establishing An Equitable New International Monetary Order,” Lyndon LaRouche, January 10, 1988, unpublished.



Benjamin Deniston 
LaRouchePAC Science 
Ben@LPAC-Organizers.com 

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Footnotes

1. “Globalization, The New Imperialism,” by Lyndon LaRouche, EIR, October 28, 2005,  https://larouchepub.com/lar/2005/3242globaliz_imperialism.html [return to top]

2. A somewhat dated, but still insightful assessment of this modern formation of empire was completed under Lyndon LaRouche's direction in the 1990s, “The True Story Behind the Fall of the House of Windsor,” EIR Special Report, September 1997. [return to top]

3. “Why the Senate’s Intelligence Has Failed: Reanimating an Actual Economy,” EIR, https://larouchepub.com/lar/2006/3331animate_real_econ.html [return to top]

4.  For more, see “Fusion: Basic Economics,” by Liona Fan-Chiang, 2014 (https://larouchepac.com/090614/fusionbasic-economics) and Charles Stevens, “Petawatt Laser Creates Machine-Tool Revolution,” EIR, Vol 25, No. 40, 1998, pp. 28-33. [return to top]

5. Or per heartbeat, respiratory cycle, time to reach reproductive maturity, time for population doubling, or other biological cycles which scale with the average size (adult mass) of a species. [return to top]

6. For more, see “Biospheric Energy-Flux Density,” by Benjamin Deniston, 21st Century Science and Technology, Spring 2013 (https://21sci-tech.com/Articles_2013/Spring_2013/Biospheric_EFD.pdf). [return to top]

7. Based on 2016 calculations by the author based on data from. “AnAge: The Animal Ageing and Longevity Database,” http://genomics.senescence.info/species/  Tacutu, R., Thornton, D., Johnson, E., Budovsky, A., Barardo, D., Craig, T., Diana, E., Lehmann, G., Toren, D., Wang, J., Fraifeld, V. E., de Magalhaes, J. P. (2018) "Human Ageing Genomic Resources: new and updated databases." Nucleic Acids Research 46(D1):D1083-D1090. [return to top]

8. For example, see, Chaisson, E. J. 2010. “Energy Rate Density as a Complexity Metric and Evolutionary Driver.” Complexity 16 (3) (May 17): 27–40. doi:10.1002/cplx.20323; and in context of his earlier work, “Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature,” Harvard University Press, 2001. [return to top]

9. “The Iron Industry (1700-1985): A Model of Economic Growth—and Decline,” Robert Gallagher, Fusion, Vol 7, No 4, July-August 1985. [return to top]

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Renee Sigerson
    commented 2020-10-11 13:26:49 -0400
    This is rigorous, and fun at the same time. It really shows how stupid the Monetarists are! You can’t design economic policy starting with (ugh!) “Money”!
  • Benjamin Deniston
    published this page in Science 2020-10-09 09:39:37 -0400

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