How Energy Is The Economy

Van Gogh’s ‘The Potato Eaters’. Van Gogh spent time with poor families in the coal-mining districts of Belgium. Here is a poor family gathered around a oil flame, eating potatoes. A picture of where we are.

As my homie B writes, energy is the economy. As Vaclav Smil says in Energy And Civilization, “Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many forms must be transformed to get anything done.” In that expansive book, he details the history of human civilization through the energy sources we use.



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Indrajit Samarajiva is a writer from Sri Lanka, grumpily in Oxford for a while. Sign up for my newsletter at, and you can reach me at