Research project to calculate the potential reduction in the use of materials and energy for our production systems, if the peer production stack would be applied integratively. Our general claim is that commons-based peer production, with its intensive mutualization of knowledge and material infrastructures, is a key ingredient to achieve Quasi-Circular Growth, and "subsidiarity in material production'. The latter, producing closer to the place of human need, combines 'Design Global, Manufacture Local' (DGML) to achieve the Cosmo-Localization of production. It is distinguishable from neoliberal globalization, nation-state economic protectionism, but also from simple localization strategies.
Our key research project on the Thermodynamic Efficiencies of Peer Production, a complement to the ongoing efforts of our P2P Lab, fully takes into account the Jevons Paradox, i.e. without structural reforms, thermodynamic gains are useless. What we aim for therefore, is Perma-Circularity, i.e. a systemic approach of the circular economy to the system as a whole.
This Thermodynamic Efficiencies of Peer Production is a joint research project by the P2P Foundation and the Blaqswans Collective, coordinated by Xavier Rizos and Celine Trefle.
Provisional and 'rough' documentation via .
- 1 Key Report by the P2P Foundation
- 2 Citations
- 3 Key Resources
- 3.1 Key Articles
- 3.2 The Energy basis of our economy and civilization
- 3.3 Key Books
- 3.4 Key Research Projects
- 3.5 Key Statistics
- 3.6 History
- 3.7 Key People
- 3.8 Key Research Projects
Key Report by the P2P Foundation
- Report: Peer to Peer and the Commons: a path towards transition. A matter, energy and thermodynamic perspective. Céline Piques and Xavier Rizos. P2P Foundation, 2017.
The aim of this project is to calculate the 'savings' that could be obtained through a full use of peer production as the mode of production and exchange, and to quantify some of the following effects:
1) moving artificial scarcity driven design (generalized planned obsolescence) to global open design communities and their sustainability driven motives saves x percent of matter and energy
2) moving towards more shared physical infrastructures saves x percent of matter and energy
3) moving to open supply chains and open book accounting and its speed up effect on circular economy integration saves x percent of matter and energy
4) moving to a cosmo-localized production (4a) for on demand (4b) distributed production saves x percent of matter and energy
Jason Moore's work on World-Ecology
Natural Step's proposed scientific definition of a sustainable society
"In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing …
… concentrations of substances from the earth’s crust (such as fossil CO2 and heavy metals),
… concentrations of substances produces by society (such as antibiotics and endocrine disruptors),
… degradation by physical means (such as deforestation and draining of groundwater tables),
…and in that society … … there are no structural obstacles to people’s health, influence, competence, impartiality and meaning." (http://www.thenaturalstep.org/sustainability/the-system-conditions/)
Potential background documentation of interest
- P2P Accounting http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:P2P_Accounting
- Open Source Circular Economy: "from the current linear system (we take resources out of the ground, and transform them into (often hazardous) waste. We consume and destroy our own planet faster than it can possibly recover) to a circular economy in tune with the cycles in the natural world.
- Sustainable Manufacturing section on the P2P Foundation wiki, at http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Sustainable_Manufacturing
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): “regulatory principle based on the life-cycle approach, and aims to implement ownership patterns that encourage stewardship and conservation of resources.” 
"The defining question of our age is not whether we can achieve the impossibility of sustaining more than nine billion people on a western industrial model of development, but how to deliver prosperous lives for the global population within the regenerative biocapacity of one planet."
Without Structural Reforms, Increased Efficiencies are Useless
"Gains in resource and energy efficiency have never led to a sustained decrease in humanity’s raw materials and raw fuels consumption with a stationary level of GDP. Invariably, in waves, the engineers’ contribution to shop-floor efficiency in production processes have been used by the businesses that employ these engineers to save on costs so as to be able to produce and sell more. In fact, what we call economic growth is the long history of the diversion of efficiency gains into production increases. And quite often, this also ends up leading to more, rather than less, raw material extraction and consumption. If any engineer ever had the illusion that they would be working to improve the world through efficiency, he or she should think again — and take a good, hard look at how businesses and industries are, by the very logic of single-minded profit-seeking that moves them, hijacking the efficiency gains and transforming them (when 'successful') into gains in sales and in profits, and usually also into increases in global resource consumption. More fuel-efficient automobiles or airplanes, for instance, are a total scam — not in themselves or as feats of cutting-edge engineering, but because they make driving or flying cheaper per kilometer, so that all of us car or airline users can do more kilometers than before with a 'clean conscience', all the while helping companies reap profits from diverting their engineers’ well-meaning micro-level efforts into ecologically deleterious impacts at the macro level."
- Christian Arnsperger , 22/06/16
- This is the key overview essay of the issues at hand: The Real Circular Economy. By the indispensable Sharon Ede. See also the Critique of the Circular Economy.
- Christian Arnsperger in: The Circular Economy Effects Only Work Under One Percent Growth ; introduces the calculations of Francois Grosse: Quasi-Circular Growth: a Pragmatic Approach to Sustainability for Non-Renewable Material Resources.
- Richard Heinberg: Ecological Backgrounds of the Deep Infrastructural Shifts in the History of Human Civilization
- Herman Daly: The Thermodynamic Roots of Economics
- A Systems and Thermodynamics Perspective on Technology in the Circular Economy. By Crelis F. Rammelt and Phillip Crisp. real-world economics review, issue no. 68, 2014
: "The paper ultimately reflects on what role society can realistically assign to technology for resolving its ecological concerns. While environmental engineering undoubtedly has something to offer, it will end up chasing its tail if the social and economic forces driving up production and consumption are not addressed."
- How Currency Value Should Be Connected to the Carrying Capacity of Non-Renewable Resources. By James Quilligan.
On the general ecological crisis of humanity
- Steffen et al. (2015) Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 13 Feb 2015: Vol. 347, Issue 6223, 1259855 DOI: 10.1126/science.1259855
- Ceballos et al. (2015) Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances 19 Jun 2015: Vol. 1, no. 5, e1400253 ; DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400253
Supply-chain and transportation costs
- How Hyper-competition leads to inefficiencies in the supply-chain 
The Energy basis of our economy and civilization
Four crucial studies, summarized here:
- Impact of Resource Depletion on the Economy
- Article: Are we entering the age of involuntary degrowth? Promethean technologies and declining returns of innovation. By Mauro Bonaiuti. Journal of Cleaner Production, February 2017 
- Decline of EROI Directly Impacts on Economic Prosperity
- Article: How Does Energy Resource Depletion Affect Prosperity? Mathematics of a Minimum Energy Return on Investment (EROI). By Adam R. Brandt. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality, March 2017, 2:2 
- Long-Term Estimates of the Energy-Return-on-Investment
- Article / study: Long-Term Estimates of the Energy-Return-on-Investment (EROI) of Coal, Oil, and Gas Global Productions. By Victor Court and Florian Fizaine. Ecological Economics, 2017 
- Economic Growth Remains Ultimately Dependent on Growth in Material and Energy Use
- Article / study: Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible? By James D. Ward , Paul C. Sutton, Robert Costanza et al. PLOS One, October 14, 2016 
* John Thackara's Thermodynamic Bibliography: 13 suggestions, the best book and resources for understanding the biophysical limits of the human economy.
* A Prosperous Way Down: Principles and Policies. By Howard T. Odum and Elisabeth C. Odum. University Press of Colorado, 2001.
"Consider the future with less fossil fuel and no new natural or technological energy sources. How can it be peaceful and prosperous? More and more leaders concerned with the global future are warning of the impending crisis as the surge of unsustainable growth exceeds the capability of the earth's resources to support our civilisation. But while history records the collapse of countless civilisations, some societies and ecosystems have managed to descend in orderly stages, reducing demands and selecting and saving what is most important. Although some scientists predict disaster, this book shows how our world can still thrive and prosper in a future where we live with less and charts a way for our modern civilisation to descend to sustainable levels. The authors make recommendations for a more equitable and co-operative world society, with specific suggestions based upon their evaluations of trends in global population, wealth distribution, energy sources, conservation, urban development, capitalism and international trade, information technology, and education. This thoughtful and provocative book will force us to confront our assumptions and beliefs about our world's future, which is all too often taken for granted." (publisher)
* Environment, Power, and Society for the Twenty-First Century: The Hierarchy of Energy. By Howard Odum. Columbia University Press, 2007.
"Howard T. Odum possessed one of the most innovative minds of the twentieth century. He pioneered the fields of ecological engineering, ecological economics, and environmental accounting, working throughout his life to better understand the interrelationships of energy, environment, and society and their importance to the well-being of humanity and the planet.
This volume is a major modernization of Odum's classic work on the significance of power and its role in society, bringing his approach and insight to a whole new generation of students and scholars. For this edition Odum refines his original theories and introduces two new measures: emergy and transformity. These concepts can be used to evaluate and compare systems and their transformation and use of resources by accounting for all the energies and materials that flow in and out and expressing them in equivalent ability to do work. Natural energies such as solar radiation and the cycling of water, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are diagrammed in terms of energy and emergy flow. Through this method Odum reveals the similarities between human economic and social systems and the ecosystems of the natural world. In the process, we discover that our survival and prosperity are regulated as much by the laws of energetics as are systems of the physical and chemical world." (publisher)
- Jason W. Moore. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso 2015)
- On the Bio-Physical Triggers of Political Violence, see: Failing States, Collapsing Systems. BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. Springer, 2017 
- Classical Econophysics. By by Allin F. Cottrell (with contributions by Paul Cockshott, Gregory John Michaelson and Ian P. Wright. Routledge, 2011
Key Research Projects
P2P Foundation Network
- International Learning Network of Networks on Sustainability: designers for sustainability, European research project
- P2P Lab: P2P Foundation lab and research network, focusing on 'DGML' researh, "Design Global, Manufacturing Local"
- Thermodynamic Efficiencies of Peer Production, project of the P2P Foundation, with the Blaqswan's Collective
- Cindy Kohtala
- Vasilis Kostakis
- Jose Ramos
- Xavier Rizos
- Anna Seravalli
- John Thackara
- Celine Trefle
- Alekos Pantazis
- Christina Priavolou
Compiled via :
- Aguinaldo Dos Santos <[email protected]> ; Distributed Design & Distributed Manufacturing ; Curitiba, Brazil
- Andrea Broom <[email protected]> ; Distributed Renewable Energy, Distributed Manufacturing, Distributed production of Software, and Distributed production of Information  ; (CPUT), Cape Town, South Africa
- Sandra Molina <[email protected]>; Distributed Design & Distributed Manufacturing ; (UAM) Azcapotzalco, Mexico City, Mexico
- Natural Resources in a Planetary Perspective. By Harald Sverdrup & K. Vala Ragnarsdóttir. Geochemical Perspectives, Volume 3, Number 2, October 2014
: resources have peaked or will peak within 50 years.
The Circular Economy is only sustainable under 1% raw material consumption growth
Post-Growth Institute, by Sharon Ede:
"In 2011, a study commissioned by the CEO of Veolia was published in a peer-reviewed journal focused on sustainability, with the objective of assessing the business opportunities of the circular economy and recycling. It found that the ability to ‘decouple’ is only possible if the total annual raw material consumption growth rate is under one percent, and that ‘the influence of recycling on resource preservation is negligible for any raw material with a greater than 2% per annum increase in world production’.
Even then, growth in material consumption kept below that rate is still insufficient to decouple, and requires a high rate of recycling (60% – 80%). Economist and Professor of Sustainability and Economic Anthropology Christian Arnsperger of the University of Lausanne analyses what this means:
Efficiency gains…become themselves the ‘raw material’ for generating new economic growth thanks to lower raw material requirements…and it explains why the circular growth economy attracts so much enthusiasm among businesspeople and industrialists: The mirage is that of perpetually expanding markets along with perpetually contracting raw material consumption…we have no use for a pseudo-circular metabolism that is actually a steadily widening spiral: circling, yes, but spinning slowly out of control nevertheless, in ever-broader circles of ever-growing circumference. We need a genuinely circular metabolism…one that doesn’t spiral outward but, rather, promises to keep the same circumference… " (http://postgrowth.org/the-real-circular-economy/)
Global Footprint Network: biophysical accounts of over 200 countries
Post-Growth Institute, by Sharon Ede:
"Biophysical accounts for over 200 countries dating back to 1961 maintained by the Global Footprint Network show that humanity uses around 1.5 planets’ worth of bioproductive space, meaning the Earth takes one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. If population and consumption trends continue on their current trajectory, we will need the equivalent of two Earths by 2030. There are billions of people whose material living standard needs to increase, and many who wish to emulate consumerist lifestyles, yet we are already in overshoot — using more human demand on nature’s capacity exceeds what nature can supply." (http://postgrowth.org/the-real-circular-economy/)
Intensive Industries costing society 10% of GDP
"A ground breaking report commissioned by the United Nations in 2013; ‘Natural Capital at Risk‘ found that our most environmentally intensive business sectors - cement, chemicals, energy, farming, fishing, forestry, mining, paper, steel and utilities - were costing society around $7.3 trillion a year (more than 10% of global GDP) in pollution-related health costs, natural resource degradation and climate change impacts."
- Alastair MacGregor 
- Thomas Homer-Dixon. The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization. ]: explains the decline of the Roman Empire through its energy overshoot, then examines the current crises of China, Europe and Pakistan as current examples.
- Ecological Revolution: The Political Origins of Environmental Degradation and the Environmental Origins of Axial Religions; China, Japan, Europe. by Mark D. Whitaker: a 3,000 year comparative review of ecological crises in Europe, Japan and China, reveals that resource depletion is more the rule than the exception for competing elite systems, and that civilizations reacted through religious reform movements leading to renewed mutualization of resources.
- Frederick Soddy
- Alfred Lotka
- W. Fred Cottrell
- M. King Hubbert
- Howard T. Odum
- Robert Costanza
- Earl Cook
- Robert Ayres
- Herman E. Daly
- Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen
Key Research Projects
- The Thermodynamic Efficiencies of Peer Production. A project of the Blaqswan's Collective in collaboration with the P2P Foundation.
- Evaluating Open Hardware From an Ecological Economics Perspective. A project of the P2P Lab
Pages in category "Thermodynamic Efficiencies"
The following 133 pages are in this category, out of 133 total.
- Can Economic Growth Last
- Capitalism in the Web of Life
- Carrying Capacity
- Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization
- Cheap Nature
- Chinese Ecological Civilization Construction Indexes
- Circular Economy
- Circular Economy Effects Only Work Under One Percent Growth
- Circular Finance
- Circular Makespaces in Redistributed Manufacturing
- Classical Econophysics
- Commoning as Adaptive Reuse in the Context of a Failing Civilization
- Commons as an Ecological Imperative
- Conceptual Framework for Ecological Economics Based on Systemic Principles of Life
- Earth's Carrying Capacity
- Eco-Digital Platforms
- Ecological Aspects of Surplus in Production
- Ecological Backgrounds of the Deep Infrastructural Shifts in the History of Human Civilization
- Economic Growth Remains Ultimately Dependent on Growth in Material and Energy Use
- Emergy Theory
- Environment, Power, and Society
- Evaluating Open Hardware From an Ecological Economics Perspective
- Extended Producer Responsibility
- Impact of Resource Depletion on the Economy
- Incentives for the Transition to a Sustainable Economy
- Increasing Local Economic Sustainability
- Integral Ecology for a Perma-Circular Society
- International Ecocity Framework and Standards
- International Learning Network of Networks on Sustainability
- Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible
- Is Earth Recognized as a Finite System in Corporate Responsibility Reporting
- Islands of Sustainability
- Scale and Diversity of the Physical Technosphere
- Secular Cycles
- Social Cost of Carbon
- Steve Keen on the Role of Energy in Production
- Supply Chain
- Sustainability Commons
- Sustainability Context
- Sustainability Context Group
- Sustainability for Non-Renewable Material Resources
- Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
- System Energy Assessment
- Systems and Thermodynamics Perspective on Technology in the Circular Economy
- TEEB for Business Coalition
- Thermo-Dynamic Efficiencies of the Third Industrial Revolution
- Thermodynamic Cradle-to-Cradle Assessment of the Earth's Mineral Resources
- Thermodynamic Efficiencies of Peer Production
- Thermodynamic Foundations of the Earth System
- Thermodynamic Perspectives on Peer to Peer and the Commons as a Path Towards Transition
- Thermodynamic Roots of Economics
- Thermodynamics and Economics
- Thermodynamics of Empire
- Tom Murphy
- Transition Trade
- Transition Trade Proposals for Renewable Energy Projects
- Transparent Supply Chains
- Trucost Report on Unpriced Natural Capital