Here’s some suggestive flow charts depicting US energy production, consumption by broad sector, and how much of this consumption is purely wasted (“Rejected Energy”), as opposed to how much provides what the system calls energy services. (H/T Death by Car.) According to the US Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, well over two thirds of energy consumed in the US is simply lost into the environment as heat and pollution. The great bulk of rejected energy comes from electricity generation and transportation. So right there we see the fraudulence of anyone who talks about climate change or the environmental ravages of energy extraction but who does so within any framework which assumes: Licentious electricity consumerism, globalization, the personal car. Industrial energy consumption also wastes over 50% of what it consumes. (See here for the LLNL’s measures of carbon emissions, which correlate well with energy wastage.)
As insane as this level of waste is, it’s still merely the US government’s own public depiction of how wasteful and destructive the extreme energy system is and incorporates all the most optimistic and manipulative methods of measure. The real number no doubt is much worse. By one alternative measure the level of energy actually used serviceably is only 13%, with the rest being pure waste.
But it gets worse. Those compiling and measuring this data are themselves believers in the essential goodness of the corporate-technocratic system and define “energy services” according to metrics of the Mammon religion like GDP. This means, for example, that a rocket fired by the US military which blows up dozens of women and children celebrating a wedding is counted as having provided excellent energy service, while the rejected energy is only whatever proportion of the rocket fuel’s energy dissipated as stray heat instead of helping to power the missile, along with the waste embedded in extracting the fossil fuel for the rocket’s tank and generating the energy for the electrical systems. (The drone’s fuel energy wastage would be calculated separately.)
In the case of corporate industrial agriculture, the bulk of the rejected energy spews from its industrial processes and globalized commodity transportation (“food miles” as well as input miles; the global South is forced to import the vast bulk of the industrial seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, and machinery required to grow the commodity crops globalization has forced upon it), though Western-style retailing and end-consumer food preparation also uses a large amount of energy. All these processes also are dependent upon the electricity generated with such extreme wastefulness.
The astronomical amount of industrial agriculture’s rejected energy is all from a sector which in its so-called “services” as well is only inefficient, wasteful, and destructive.
(When we consider the massive contribution of corporate industrial agriculture to the climate crisis, as always we must add that in addition to being the number one emitter of greenhouse gases it is by far the worst destroyer of carbon sinks, and one of its primary political campaigns is to prevent the necessary massive rebuilding of carbon sinks. It’s a fact that there is one and only one solution to avert the worst of climate change: Greatly reduce emissions, completely stop destroying sinks, and rebuild sinks on a massive scale. Each of these three necessary elements requires, first and foremost, the abolition of corporate industrial agriculture and the global transformation to agroecology.)
These typical examples demonstrate how the measure of Rejected Energy only scratches the surface. This is the corporate globalization system itself admitting how grossly wasteful it is according to its own measure of what comprises a “service”: The same measure which values a death camp according to the construction work performed and the volume of Zyklon B sold, and values at zero the care a mother provides for her infant. As grotesque as the amount of the system’s officially acknowledged rejected energy is, the measure becomes even more profoundly abysmal when we ponder the “services” the non-rejected energy actually provides: According to any human measure, the great bulk of these as well are not just a waste, but deeply destructive of humanity and the Earth.
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