Just as a sunken ship provides the opportunity for a coral reef to form, I used the launch of my Energy Slaves comic as an opportunity to create a host of essays about my thoughts on energy.
Energy Slaves is a thoughtful comic that weaves together multiple topics. I discuss environmental and civilisational issues involving energy consumption. I examine these issues both from both personal and societal levels.
After I completed and published the 84-page comic, I took time to ask myself “what does it all mean?”. This led to a 6,500 word essay, which I have split up into seven blog posts – each with plenty of artwork. The essays each cover distinct topics, but could easily be read as one flowing thread.
Listed below are the seven articles:
Hidden in plain sight: our invisible slaves
Imaginary ‘energy slaves’ perform work on behalf of human beings. They are ‘hidden in plain sight’, because they make our lifestyles so effortless. Essay 1 / 7.
The mind, but not the muscle: understanding Energy Slaves
Did you know that an entire year of typical human exercise only equals the equivalent of 14 litres of gasoline (petrol). Energy powers our human lifestyles. Essay 2 / 7.
Building up steam: our civilisation’s history of collecting energy slaves
Energy has allowed people to magnify their impact on the natural world. This essay charts human civilisation’s history of gathering energy from fossil fuels. Essay 3 / 7.
Diminishing returns: understanding ‘net energy’ and ‘EROEI’
At the heart of my Energy Slaves comic is the concept ‘EROEI’ (energy returned on energy invested) a.k.a. ‘net energy’. I explain this concept using the analogy of an apple orchard. Essay 4 / 7.
Powered by energy: the many layers of civilisation
Our civilisation has many layers, including industry, education, and healthcare. These layers are only possible because of fossil fuel energy surpluses. Essay 5 / 7.
Living within limits: low-energy lifestyles
Our lifestyles require vast amounts of energy. Will we be able to transition to low-energy alternatives that provide similar levels of happiness? Essay 6 / 7.
All part of the problem: our collective wastes of energy
It is easy to single out certain people for wasting energy. This essay discusses how we are all part of the problem. We all waste energy on a large scale. Essay 7 / 7.
By the way, this is in a similar vein to the multiple Making of Peak Oil essays that I released in conjunction with my Peak Oil comic. Consider reading both comics—as well as their related essays—together.