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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is Swedish Government in control over the country’s energy future?

Posted by steve on February 24, 2013

From figures released recently by the International Energy Agency it looks as if the Swedish government has abandoned any control over the future supply of energy to the country. I hope I am wrong, but I find no comfort in the combination of signals in the media, from experts and from the government information.
At first the figures seem to reveal that Sweden is on the right path: a gradual reduction in fossil fuel use or at least reaching a plateau. It is not until you dig deeper into fuel use that the pattern emerges.
The period 2013 to 2030 is strategically important as the stated government strategy is that Sweden will break fossil fuel dependency by 2030 and be fossil-fuel free by 2050. With a 17-year life time of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, you would expect that next year vehicles that do not run on fossil fuels would be available, or alternative fuels for the existing vehicle fleet would be planned.
That does not seem to be the case. Neither alternative- fuelled vehicles nor large production of renewable fuel seems to be planned. Vehicles sold today will be worthless if there is neither fossil nor renewable fuel to power them. This means that Sweden is on course for a serious dip in its economy if the vital transport sector cannot grow. Sweden’s economy is dependent on cheap energy because the country, sparsely populated and the fourth largest in Europe, has modernised its logistics chains to rely on long-distance transport of goods and long-distance commuting.
In this diagram below from IAEA, the projection for oil remains constant from 2013 to 2030. So it would seem that Sweden is dampening its appetite for fossil fuel and weaning itself off dependency on it.

However, the demand for fossil fuels, and the dependency on fossil fuels is actually growing. This graph here from the blogger Cornucopia shows how fuel use (shaded area)  and GDP (solid line) have  grown hand in hand since. It is the reduction in use of oil in industry that accounts for the overall reduction..

So, despite touting Sweden as a fossil-fuel independent county by 2030 the government is leading the nation into continued oil dependency. There is another reason why this can end badly: it is unclear where Swedens oil will come from up to 2030. Sweden has three major suppliers of oil: Denmark, Norway and Russia. As shown in the graph below, Denmark will cease to export oil 2018-2019. Norway’s exports will cease toward the end of the period. Several experts doubt if Russia will be able to increase supplies to satisfy all three countries.

SWeden energy use_Denmark stop

It looks as if Sweden’s transport system, along with its economic growth, will slow down during the coming period. And the Government, along with the Swedish Energy Agency, looks to be standing by and letting it happen. With long cold winters and  temperatures going down to -14 C in the south and -40 C in the North one can wonder how they plan to keep people warm and fed without a functioning fossil – fuelled transport system. Even the hydro .electrics and nuclear power plants rely on maintenance vehicles that run on fossil fuel.

Read more (in Swedish)

Daily newspaper reports on energy policy

Government statements on energy policy


The citizen pays all, whilst what she wants is taxed and doesn’t want is allowed free.

Posted by steve on February 19, 2013

The engine of the economy is the consumer citizen.

The engine of the economy is the consumer citizen.

Preparing a project to explore the finer art of taxation I created this diagram to illustrate the various fee and tax relationships that exist between the entities in the political economy.

Some rather striking things emerge from this simple diagram: there are a lot of transactions going on, separating them all out from each other is going to be a major task.

Another thing that strikes me is that the consumer, whilst being in the centre of the economy, is actually surrounded by the corporate-state economy that she is actually fuelling.

Let us consider what the average citizen wants:

To live in a society where everyone has a job.
Situation: work is taxed heavily in most countries

To give coming generations the opportunity to enjoy the same cheap energy they do

Situation: whilst work is taxed heavily, it is much cheaper for corporations to replace work with automated, fossil-fuel powered machines. In general, it is more profitable to sell things newly made than services or repaired goods.

To have a thriving economy where people buy and sell from each other in abundance

Situation: most transactions are taxed with VAT or sales tax, in Sweden 2o% of what individuals pay is tax.

To live in a clean environment

Situation: companies supplied by long supply chains leave behind  massive pollution for every kg of product they sell or every unit of service they provide. The fees paid by companies for recycling and waste are only a tiny fraction of all the other taxes.

To use natural resources like metals sparingly

Situation: the tax framework makes it more profitable to mine iron and other metals anew than to recycle existing materials

To have politicians deliver on promises

Situation: there are no bonuses or taxes on politicians beyond those for normal citizens. Regardless of performance, politicians get paid. The politician role comes with generous pension rights, too.

The political economic system is something we inherited from the the century before last. It is well due for an overhaul. A good start would be to collect revenue to run public services by putting fees on things we want less of.

Read more in Capitalism: a hobby



Secret alternative rules of Monopoly show how everyone can live in prosperity

Posted by steve on

The original board

I am utterly astonished. We have heard of the DaVinci code, but there is a MONOPOLY code. The secret rules of the game from the early 1900s show how, by changing the rules, everyone can live in prosperity.

Back in the early 1900s a woman called Elizabeth J. Magie patented the Landlord’s game to be a “practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” Elizabeth was not against capitalism, rather defeating monopoly in all its forms (but, particularly, monopoly of nature). Lizzie continued to work on the design of The Landlord’s Game as a way to explain how the political economy system of  Henry George would work in real life. Henry George was against all forms of taxation except from those who owned land.

Parker Brothers purchased Elizabeth’s patent in 1932 for $500, on condition that Parker Brothers would continue to publish The Landlord’s Game as well as Monopoly.  In the third edition, published in 1939, and consistent with the agreement with Elizabeth, the game came with two sets of rules. However, only the rules copyrighted by Parker Brothers were actually sold with the game. Purchases were required to contact Elizabeth Magie Phillips to obtain the alternative rules. Remarkably, Elizabeth’s rules were made available by Hasbro on the company’s website.

If you download the alternative rules ( I am going to try this as soon as I get my hands on conventional monopoly) and play, do let me know how you get on. The comments are open for you :).




The article explaining the history is here .

This is the link to the secret rules. They are at the end of the conventional rules. Look for “THE MONARCH OF THE WORLD” and the SINGLE TAX.

Thomas Forsyth is one of the most knowledgeable collectors of the original game boards and pieces related to The Landlord’s Game. He has compiled a detailed history of the game, which can be examined at The Landlord’s Game.

Thoughts from the man’s weekend leadership workshop

Posted by steve on

here are my notes, gathered from my recent tweets from the workshop MAN IN MISSION.


#12 after having spent the weekend in the circle of men I seem to be even more appreciative of female energy!
#11 It is not a male culture we live in, but one of D.I.E domination, individualism, exclusion. Hostile to men AND women.
#10 Every man needs to develop all their archetype roles: lover, warrior, magician, king
#9 we strive to be the men that make clear commitments and deliver on them concientiuosly
#8 Amazing how calm and secure the feeling is of being in the circle of men.
#7 when we put our overalls on and jump into dig the ditch together all barriers of profession and class dissolve.
#6 I have the gifts I have and they are both sufficient and needed.
#5 we see out civilisation is on its way to collapse, but wonder; what can we do?
#4 put pumpkin seeds in your porridge it is good for your prostrate.
#3 first when the tribe closes the circle do all the members’s unique gifts shine.
#2: Leave some space for God in your life.
#1 the passage from boy to man is too important to be left to school, corporation or state.

Living on biomass only: a thought experiment

Posted by steve on

Let’s suppose we design a society to live on biomass only. What sources do we have available and how are we going to divide the uses of that biomass to get the most out of it? And if there is a lot of carbon in the atmosphere will we still need to carbon compensate and sequester even if we stop using fossil fuels?

First of all it is only excess biomass we are talking about: food waste, wood not used for building or firewood. And waste not composted. The diagram below shows one feasible scenario.

The top section is for dry waste, the sections below for wet.


Time to form the culture we want – starting with small acts of kindness

Posted by steve on February 10, 2013

This is a translation and adaptation of the leader column I submitted – in my capacity as JAK board member – to JAK’s alternative economy magazine, Grus och Guld. JAK is a member- owned cooperative bank offering interest-free loans.

Like many JAK members I am driven by the desire to change society for the better. Not only to counteract the negative impact of interest on our economy, but the whole system’s negative effects on people. It is sad how money has penetrated our culture so deeply that it is determining the very fundamentals of our way of life. Soon, we won’t be able to “ afford” to be those wonderful, generous, creative, spiritual, loving, appreciative beings that we are in our true nature.

Still, it is not only the monetary system itself that shapes our culture, but the attitudes this money culture carries. It is attitudes not system that mean a farmer can hardly live on producing healthy food while a heart surgeon, who fixes the effects of poor diet, lives in luxury.

As an immigrant to Sweden in the 80’s I see how the hard side of Swedish culture continues to evolve. Despite priding itself on being a socialist nation, they accept domination of state, oligopolies and other strong forces, they accept individuals competing themselves into burn-out and they accept exclusion, even to the extent that people go homeless, toothless and hungry. This development is self-perpetuating. Companies encourage their executives to take risks, cut costs and act on the edge of what is legal in order to achieve profit. This in turn fosters a social psychopathic work ethic that recently had a private old-age care company badly mistreating the old people in their care just to squeeze a few more percentage points.

There are alternatives and possibilities, not least in the Transition movement. Last summer I had the privilege to meet with representatives of alternatives currencies in England. We did a membership count. (It went something like this I don’t remember exact numbers.) Totnes: 2000, Brixton:1000, Bristol: 3000, JAK: 37.000. A silence fell in the room where I can just imagine the thoughts the others were having – what THEY could achieve with 30 000 + members!

Although I do not have money to put into my JAK account, and even if I cannot borrow to put into a community project, there are things I can do, preferably together with other members of JAK. We can get together locally, talk to each other, discuss how we can become creators and bearers of a new, human, Swedish folk culture.

We can do small acts of kindness to our neighbours. And just inviting them for coffee, forming groups that do things together helps create the feeling that as long as we can form trusting relationships with each other there is enough for all – even an abundance – of what we need to live well. And it is just that – good feelings  and good relationships – that form the heart of a healthy culture.

No corporation or government is going to contribute to this development. We must create it ourselves. We can start by looking at the real capital we have in our communities – social, human, natural as well as the infrastructure built by the toil of our forefathers. Respect and trust are absolutely the most solid currencies available. It befalls those of us who recognise what’s going on – and you know if you are one of them – to do what we can to grow this kind of capital. Everything else is just numbers that we were enticed into putting our faith in by those who had the most to gain from perpetuating the illusion.

New eco-village design

Posted by steve on

sketch2This new design (Click on it to see a larger image) is a first sketch for the assignment to design a village layout for a project in Brazil, a village that will house a conference centre in the middle of six sustainable farms. The centre and village will get its food (and coffee) from the neighbouring farms on subscription, and the farm will produce biogas and biochar, combining the char with the organic leftovers from the gas process will produce a soil enhancement that goes back to the farmers.

The design is based on the idea of radiality, from my book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet”. Radiality is the design approach of living arrangements, villages or even cities, being designed in circular form.

Some things to note:

The technical park houses toilets showers and laundry to separate urine and grey water for use in the market garden. The toilets are between the large meeting place and the central plaza.

We put the parking lot outside the area to make the place car-free, and designed it using the permaculture idea of zones to minimize walking. The areas that people would like to be private are separate from the public areas and to keep noise interference down, farthest from the meeting centre.

The central plaza houses a cafe and restaurant, a place to pick the food up (using the eco- unit concept of food subscription) and a place to hang out. Being in the centre it is  a place for chance meetings and to catch people as they go past.

This is just early stages, but to secure a time-share in the village investments are starting at around 20,000 Euros. Contact me if you are interested in getting in at this early stage!

The V2V fund

Posted by steve on February 6, 2013


A lot of people nowadays long for a different lifestyle – a feeling of being close to nature, being part of a community and having somewhere they can enjoy living with a good, green conscience. But making the change is a huge step for many. You need time to get to know what you are getting into and a house or apartment in the village needs  financing.


We are offering interested individuals the chance, by participating in our fund, to visit the amazing range of projects for longer or shorter stays. At the same time, we are offering financing for village projects.

The idea is simple: just purchase a number of units from us. These units come with points that you can redeem for accommodation at any of our participating villages. With units come exclusive offers to try out the sustainable life-style at excellent prices – all accommodation redeemed with points gives you a guaranteed generous discount. And as the money goes in advance to the villages, you know that your money is helping a good cause already from the get-go.

If you purchase more than 10 units you can use them as points against shares in the village initiative of your choice to become a member and even buy/lease a house. Shares are always offered at a discount to unit holders.


But there is more: we offer village initiatives the chance to get interest-free funding as well as access to a wide network of potentially interested villagers. The income from the sale of units is transferred to participating villages for them to invest in developing their initiative.  Villages get the funding interest-free, and in return offer a discount on accommodation.

The idea is at the concept stage just now, we are looking for villages and individuals to prepare a pilot scheme. Contact us if your are interested.


Circle way training

Posted by steve on February 5, 2013

Data sheet

No matter if you work with neighbors, in a cooperative, in a Transition Initiative or among volunteers, good relations and social cohesion are critical not only just to success, but maintaining good feelings and energy in the community.

We’ve taken the best of what is available and put together an introductory training that prepares you to introduce or develop the circle meeting form in your community or organization.
This course is for you who are active in a group or eco-village and want to experience circle way potential and learn how to get started with it.
If you would like to have one of these sessions in your community, town or country, please contact one of our social entrepreneurs who will help you arrange it or contact Stephen Hinton directly.
Click on the picture on the left or here   to download the factsheet.