“None of these systems, whether “natural” or man-made, can operate without a continuous supply of energy and resources that have to be transformed into something “useful.” Appropriating the concept from biology, I shall refer to all such processes of energy transformation as metabolism. Depending on the sophistication of the system, these outputs of useful energy are allocated between doing physical work and fueling maintenance, growth, and reproduction. As social human beings and in marked contrast to all other creatures, the major portion of our metabolic energy has been devoted to forming communities and institutions such as cities, villages, companies, and collectives, to the manufacture of an extraordinary array of artifacts, and to the creation of an astonishing litany of ideas ranging from airplanes, cell phones, and cathedrals to symphonies, mathematics, and literature, and much, much more. However, it’s not often appreciated that without a continuous supply of energy and resources, not only can there be no manufacturing of any of these things but, perhaps more important, there can be no ideas, no innovation, no growth, and no evolution. Energy is primary. It underlies everything that we do and everything that happens around us. As such, its role in all of the questions addressed will be another continuous thread that runs throughout the book. This may seem self-evident, but it is surprising how small a role, if any, the generalized concept of energy plays in the conceptual thinking of economists and social scientists.”


Geoffrey West, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Lifein Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies
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Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Lifein Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Lifein Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West
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