Harnessing the Energy of the Winds

4 July 2007 at 2:48 am Leave a comment

While browsing Manuel De Landa’s A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, I came across an early passage in which he speaks of harnessing the energy of the “‘double-conveyor belt’ formed by the trade winds and the westerlies, the wind circuit that brought Europeans to the New World and back again” (53).  He mentions the wind as a form of solar energy:

The oceans and the atmosphere form a nonlinear dynamical system that contains ten times more solar energy than plants capture through photosynthesis, and only a tiny fraction of the potential energy of plant life powered most of civilization’s past intensifications. The enormous reservoir of oceanic and atmospheric energy fuels a great variety of self-organized structures: tornadoes, cyclones, pressure blocks, and, more importantly for human history, wind circuits. (53)

This reminds me of Kevin Phillips’ work, especially in Wealth and Democracy and American Theocracy, where he tells of the history of empires ranging back to the Reformation.  The Dutch followed the Spanish and preceded the English/American hegemony when it harnessed the energy of wind circuits. . . .

The ability to sail across the oceans constitutes an important chapter in an energonomic interpretation of history….


Entry filed under: books, economics, energonomics, science.

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