A Surfeit of Tims

There are three bloggers called ‘Tim’ writing on the energy scene whose blogs I read regularly (and often get confused) —Tim Watkins, Tim Morgan and Tim Garrett.

Tim Watkins is a UK blogger and writes The Consciousness of Sheep. A huge variety of posts come under the headings, Economy, Energy, Environment and Society. He also has a book with the same title as the blog, which condenses writings on all the concepts into one place. The blog actually started as an offshoot from the book. Read his ‘about’ page for a bio. He says his aim is to provide…….”a running commentary on the slow motion train wreck that is Western civilisation in general and its British variant in particular.” If you want to understand Brexit or the ins and outs of fracking, he’s the one. I know I’ll be in for an interesting and informative read when I see his name in my blog feed reader.


Tim Morgan, also from the UK, writes Surplus Energy Economics with the by-line, How the economy REALLY works. He says: “Although this blog will cover a wide range of topics, my main interest is in a radically new way of thinking about economics. This is explained in my 2013 book Life After Growth.”  I’m currently reading it (for the second time).

The ‘radically new way’ of thinking about economics is to see the economy as basically an energy system and not a monetary one. Everything we do, use, consume and buy is provided by energy, mostly fossil fuel energy (about 80% of the total energy mix). Tim says: “Money is the language used in the discussion of economics, but the real economy is not a monetary system at all. The economy is a function of energy, a term which needs to be defined to include human labour and nutrition as well as external inputs such as oil, natural gas and coal. The sophisticated societies of today are a function of enormous inputs of energy.”

The most important thing to understand is that, “whenever energy is accessed, some energy is consumed in the extraction process and it is surplus energy—that is, the difference between these amounts—that determines economic output.” Hence the blog’s name—surplus energy economics. Anyone familiar with the concept of EROEI—energy returned on energy invested—will see where this is going.

There’s plenty of information on how the financial system works—something that’s always been a mystery to me.


Tim Garrett is physicist studying atmospheric science. His blog is called Nephologue—Exploring the interplay of thermodynamics, economics, and climate. He also has a home page with links to his papers here. I found lots of interesting information in the links. Tim has discovered a theory that explains and quantifies the relationship between wealth and energy consumption. The Wikipedia page explaining that is here.  I must admit that I’ve ignored the maths (not my thing) and just focused on the descriptions, such as: “Civilization is an open thermodynamic system. It uses external sources of primary energy and raw materials and dissipates waste heat and materials.” There are thus implications for sustainability and climate change. The Wikipedia page is a bit on the technical side for me, so I prefer his writings in the blog and home page.

2 Responses to “A Surfeit of Tims”

  1. Specks Says:

    Thanks again Bev. I’d started to read The Consciousness of Sheep, but the other two are new. I’ve done some economics, but I’m afraid science makes my eyes glaze over. I’ll see how I go though. I’ve been reading up on oil lately – it’s fascinating where a little research can take a person. Best wishes, Specks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bev Says:

      Hi again,Specks. I love science, especially biology. Physics and maths have been my nemesis, but I can get physics if I try. Maths….I’m leaving alone, except the very simple stuff!

      You’re wise to read up on oil. It appears the situation might start to become a problem in the next decade with the supply of diesel. Already there’s a big price differential at the pump down my way. I was reading yesterday that in Australia, should there be a supply problem, we have only 18 days worth of diesel in storage. We don’t comply with the International Energy Administration requirements (even though we’re members), to have 90 days worth of fuel in reserve. I don’t drive a diesel car but the worry is with all the vehicles that deliver food to the supermarkets and farm machinery, etc. I try to keep up with the supply situation, ready to head off to the supermarket and stock up just in case, before the average person wakes up and the shelves empty rapidly.


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