E4 Scholars Network

Foundational Principles

Foundational Principles are assertions we consider to be self-evident, which do not require proof, even though many people do not think about them (and some people even actively obfuscate them).

  1. The finite Earth is a closed system materially and an open system energetically.
  2. Non-renewable natural resources such as fossil fuels and rock phosphate are finite.
  3. The ability of Earth's ecosystems to assimilate pollution without consequences is finite.
  4. Energy throughput is essential to all human activities, including the economy.
  5. Growth of any physical quantity (including economic activity) must eventually cease.
  6. Technology is not a substitute for energy, but rather a tool for employing energy.
  7. Human combustion of fossil fuels is the primary cause of ongoing global climate change.
  8. Humans are a part of nature, not apart from nature.
  9. Today's human activities impact the quality of life of future generations, not only in creating problems but also in exhausting the resources necessary for the inevitable transition beyond carbon.
  10. The tacit, taken-for-granted, largely unconscious nature of human culture presents difficult problems for readjusting people's shared expectations, even as cultural models for behavior can change quickly under certain circumstances.
  11. Social capital is central to resilience.
  12. The fact that humanity has managed the technological world for generations does not guarantee future success, especially in the face of unprecedented pressures on our planetary system.