History of Human Systems|Entropy and Sustainability (02)
Since the survival of our systems depends on getting the low-entropy resource from the environment, throwing the high-entropy waste into the environment, and maintaining the low-entropy structure against the environment, the fluctuation of the environment has modified the history of humans. Environmental history is now in fashion in conjunction with the rise of environmentalism, but I would like to reconstruct environmental history in terms of my theory of entropy described in the previous part.
- 1 : Preface
- 2 : The Human Evolution
- 3 : Revolutions in the Holocene
- 4 : Climate and Economy
- 5 : Related Works
- 6 : References
1 : Preface
The most important and fundamental factor of history is the solar radiation, as the living systems depend on it for most of the low-entropy resources. The solar radiance varies according to the relation between the Sun and the Earth. The rotation of the Earth on its axis causes the daily cycle while the revolution of the Earth around the Sun causes the annual cycle. Besides these well-known cycles, there are longer cycles that affect the solar radiance on the Earth, named Milankovitch cycles. According to Milankovitch theory, the eccentricity, the axial tilt, and the precession cause the variation of the Earth’s orbit and result in 100 thousand year cycle in the Ice Age.
The solar output itself changes. The major solar variation is based on the 11-year sunspot cycle. It is well known that William Stanley Jevons, an economist in Britain and one of the main contributors to the marginal revolution, claimed that there was a connection between commercial crises and the 11-year solar cycle. Before Jevons’ claim, Frederick William Herschel, a British astronomer famous for discovering the planet Uranus, had discovered the connections between wheat price and solar spots.
But their theories were not accepted in those days because the detailed causal connection was unknown. The variation in annual mean total solar irradiance is only 0.08% (or about 1.1 W/m2) between the minimum and the maximum of the 11-year solar cycle. Though the accumulated variation can have a little influence on surface temperature, it cannot change global climate drastically.
Recently Svensmark and Friis-Christensen discovered that cloud cover correlates with the galactic cosmic ray intensity, which varies with the sunspot cycle. Galactic cosmic rays are high-energy charged particles that enter the solar system from the Galaxy. They penetrate the atmosphere to create large numbers of ions and radicals, around which water vapor condenses and forms clouds. When the number of sunspots increases, the solar wind blows strongly and ejects galactic cosmic rays from the solar system. Hence, an increase in sunspots leads to decrease in cloudiness and increase in temperature.
The sunspot minimum is a hard time when it is difficult for living systems to get resources and therefore they have to gather and cooperate to obtain heat sources, especially food effectively. The sunspot maximum is a happy time when living systems can easily get the resources and scatter to throw waste heat effectively. So, we can say power is centralized at a cool time and power is decentralized at a warm time.
There is another reason for the tendency. When cooling reduces the availability of food, warfare could be the ultimate means of getting resources. David D. Zhang and his team looked at the impact of climate change on the warfare frequency over the last millennium in eastern China and found that almost all peaks of warfare frequency and dynastic changes occurred in a cooling phase. Needless to say, centralization of power is necessary in order to win the warfare. Maybe we can generalize their findings to the rest of the world.
There is another tendency. Intellectual revolution takes place at a cold time to overcome the crisis and intellectual stagnation takes place to preserve the status quo. We can explain this tendency not only in terms of necessity but also ability. The solar wind produces electromagnetic radiation, causes fluctuations in the geomagnetic field and possibly affects human brains. The more active the Sun is, the higher the information entropy is. That might be the reason warm periods tend to be dark ages, with few intellectual achievements.
The cool time is more critical than the warm from the viewpoint of thermal entropy, while the warm time is more critical than the cool from the viewpoint of information entropy. The strong intellectual ability compensates for the shortage of material resources at the cool time, while the amplitude of material resources compensates for the weak intellectual ability at the warm time. This compensation is a happy dispensation of the world.
In this part, we will recognize the law of history in the viewpoint of entropy. The law can be applied to other living systems, but here I would like to confine myself to applying it to the human history.
2 : The Human Evolution
As the climate record constructed by combining measurements from globally distributed deep-sea sediment cores indicates, it has gotten colder since the humans branched from the chimpanzee. This means that we have evolved in the deteriorating environment. I will take up four innovations as milestones of human evolution, the formation of family, migration of the modern human out of Africa, the invention of clothing and the so-called “Great Leap Forward”.
2.1 : The Formation of Family
Our ancestors in Africa seem to have lived near or in the freshwater areas, such as lakes, marsh, ponds, and rivers. Bipedalism, nakedness, abundant fatty layer and so on can be regarded as the result of the adaptation for the semi-aquatic environment.
As it got cooler and drier, the freshwater areas shrank and our ancestors were obliged to live in the savanna. Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and other Hominids died off, while Homo survived. The first species of the Homo genus was Homo habilis, but the species really innovative and distinct from other human ancestors is Homo ergaster, which lived throughout eastern and southern Africa 1.9-1.4 million years ago.
The former hominids showed strong sexual dimorphism. Generally speaking, the stronger the dimorphism in a species is, the more likely it is to be polygamous and the less the task of caring for offspring is shared among the sexes. The reduced sexual dimorphism of Homo ergaster suggests it began social monogamy with the male participating in caring for offspring.
The males of Homo ergaster were the first hunters. They developed various tools such as hand-axes and cleavers, made creative use of fire, cooked food and supported their family. The support of both parents must have contributed to the survival of their offspring. Homo erectus succeeded this social revolution and spread out of Africa.
Here we can apply the law of history: the power is centralized and the intellectual revolution takes place at the cooler period. The formation of the family is a centralization of human systems and the sophisticated hunting technology is the result of intellectual innovation.
2.2 : The Birth of Modern Human
The modern human, namely Homo sapiens sapiens, evolved from Homo sapiens idaltu 143 thousand years ago in the coldest period of Wolstonian glaciation. The genetic innovation occurred at a cooler period. So did the cultural innovation.
The graph below shows the temperature fluctuation and innovations in the last glaciation.
The warmer period on the left of the graph is the Eemian interglacial era that followed the Wolstonian glaciation. When it ended, it got colder and drier again in Africa, which drove the modern human out of Africa. Before they got to wear clothing, however, they can at most advance along the shorelines of Saudi Arabia, India, South East Asia and Australia.
Marian Vanhaeren and others found the oldest evidence of symbolism at this time. They say:
Perforated marine gastropod shells at the western Asian site of Skhul and the North African site of Oued Djebbana indicate the early use of beads by modern humans in these regions. The remoteness of these sites from the seashore and a comparison of the shells to natural shell assemblages indicate deliberate selection and transport by humans for symbolic use. Elemental and chemical analyses of sediment matrix adhered to one Nassarius gibbosulus from Skhul indicate that the shell bead came from a layer containing 10 human fossils and dating to 100,000 to 135,000 years ago, about 25,000 years earlier than previous evidence for personal decoration by modern humans in South Africa.
The perforated shells might be used as money rather than mere ornaments. In that case, wearing them as a necklace was a way of storing the money. Here, you can see the development of the communication media in a cooling period.
Professor Alison Brooks, an expert in African archaeology at George Washington University, said, “It supports my thought that there are no great revolutions in the evolution of modern human behavior – it is a gradual process.” Certainly, this finding reveals that the so-called “Great Leap Forward” was not so “Great” as was once thought to be, but not necessarily that the human progress was gradual. All living things are conservative and try to remain the same so long as it is unnecessary to change. I suppose Punctuated Equilibrium in cultural history as well as evolutionary history and what punctuates the equilibrium was cooling and drying.
2.3 : The Invention of Clothing
Another important step in human evolution is the invention of clothing. Scientists at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology estimated that humans adopted the frequent use of clothing about 72,000 ± 42,000 years ago. They used a molecular clock approach to date the evolution of the body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis) from the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis). As humans got to wear clothes, the louse could advance to a new frontier of a human body.
It is not a coincidence that a super volcanic event occurred at that time. The Toba caldera in Indonesia underwent a mega-colossal eruption with a VEI of 8 about 71,500 ± 4000 years ago. VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) is a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions, ranging from 0 to 8 according to the volume of ejected tephra. There have not been any Holocene eruptions with a VEI of 8. The Toba eruption is possibly the largest within the last two million years.
The volcanic eruption injects water vapor (H2O), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), ash (pulverized rock and pumice) etc. into the stratosphere. The ejected ash interrupts sunlight and hinders photosynthesis of plants. Most of the hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride are dissolved in water droplets in the eruption cloud and quickly fall to the ground as acid rain. Both have devastating effects on plants.
Water vapor converts sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere and forms fine sulfate aerosols. The aerosols increase the Earth’s albedo (that is to say, they reflect more radiation from the Sun back into outer space), thus cooling the Earth’s lower atmosphere. On the other hand, they also absorb heat radiated up from the Earth, thereby warming the stratosphere. When the surface gets warmer and the stratosphere becomes cooler, the convection in the atmosphere is activated. Otherwise, it stagnates.
The volcanic eruption not only interrupts the supply of the low-entropy energy to plants but also stagnates the convection-driven air circulation, hindering the living systems from throwing the high-entropy wastes into outer space.
According to the Toba catastrophe theory proposed by Stanley H. Ambrose, the Toba event reduced the human population to 10,000 or even 1,000 breeding pairs. Thus all the other human species except for the two branches that became Neanderthals and modern humans became extinct.
Necessity is the mother of invention. The “volcanic winter” resulted in a decrease in average global temperatures by 3 to 3.5 degrees Celsius for several years. It must have been this abrupt cooling that drove Neanderthals and modern humans to invent clothing.
The first human species that migrated out of Africa was Homo erectus, but Georgia in Europe and Beijing in China was the northern limit where they could advance. Thanks to the spread of wearing clothing, humans were able to break through the limit and migrate to colder regions, such as Europe, Siberia, and North America. Clothing was really a breakthrough technology for humans to spread all over the Continents. We hardly know what social systems they formed, but the large-scale migration indicates the existence of strong leaders.
2.4 : The Great Leap Forward
Look at the graph above again. After the Toba catastrophe, the modern humans underwent another bottom era but clothing helped them to advance northward. You can see another bottom, the coldest era in the Wisconsin (Würm) Glaciation, when Neanderthal became extinct, though the modern human survived the era and now flourish. What made the difference?
The average skull capacity of Homo neanderthalensis was 10% greater than that of Homo sapiens sapiens. But what it means is not that Homo neanderthalensis was more intelligent than Homo sapiens sapiens, but that the former had a larger body than the latter. A more credible criterion of intelligence is the rate of the weight of the frontal lobe to the cortex. Homo neanderthalensis was not so intelligent as Homo sapiens sapiens because the frontal lobe of the former was not so developed as that of the latter.
The frontal lobe is an area in the brain of vertebrates, located at the front of each cerebral hemisphere. It has the selective and executive function to control and manage the information processed at the other lobes. The brain of Homo sapiens sapiens has more combining and networking function than that of Homo neanderthalensis. So are their societies.
Homo neanderthalensis settled down in a place and lived a self-sufficient life. The productivity of a self-sufficient economy in a limited area was low. The Neanderthal men worked hard to compensate for this low productivity, which made their body stout. The modern human moved around for a better game and traded various commodities with other families. Homo neanderthalensis was resident and isolated, while Homo sapiens sapiens was migratory and trade networking.
Homo neanderthalensis seemed to speak the language, but their language was not highly articulated. The highly articulated language develops when one encounters another culture. Tacit understanding is enough within the family. We can see many cave paintings that reflect the desire of Homo sapiens sapiens for representation, but Homo neanderthalensis left no such remains. Homo sapiens sapiens networked ideas and created sophisticated culture.
Homo sapiens sapiens was not sophisticated from the beginning. About 50–40 thousand years ago Homo sapiens sapiens showed the cultural innovation named “Great Leap Forward”. The essence of the innovation is the networking based on the brain structure and applied to the linguistic and social structure.
Through the Great Leap Forward, the modern human also developed sophisticated hunting techniques, such as pitfall traps, or driving animals to fall off cliffs. Once they sophisticated the ability to use language, it became easy to transmit new technologies from generation to generation.
3 : Revolutions in the Holocene
3.1 : The Neolithic Revolution
The graph below represents the temperature fluctuation in the transition from Pleistocene to Holocene and the climate periods from Oldest Dryas to Atlantic.
The Oldest Dryas occurred during the coldest stadial after the Wisconsin glaciation. The Bølling and Allerød periods followed it with a brief cooling intermission known as the Older Dryas period. The temperatures in the northern Atlantic region rose from glacial to the present day level during this warming oscillation.
The warming oscillation must have increased human population. Then came the Younger Dryas, a rapid return to glacial conditions mainly in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The cold and dry Younger Dryas lowered the carrying capacity of a population level and forced hunter-gatherers to start the cereal cultivation. In the 1920s, Vere Gordon Childe named the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture “Neolithic Revolution”. Abu Hureyra, an ancient settlement in the northern Levant, is thought to be the place where the Neolithic Revolution first occurred.
New evidence from the site of Abu Hureyra suggests that a systematic cultivation of cereals started well before the end of the Pleistocene by at least 13000 years ago, and that rye was among the first crops. The evidence also indicates that hunter-gatherers at Abu Hureyra first started cultivating crops in response to a steep decline in wild plants that had served as staple foods for at least the preceding four centuries. The decline in these wild staples is attributable to a sudden, dry, cold, climatic reversal equivalent to the ‘Younger Dryas’ period. At Abu Hureyra, therefore, it appears that the primary trigger for the occupants to start cultivating caloric staples was climate change.
Today there still remain hunter-gatherers in the world. They do not engage in agriculture, not because they do not know how to grow plants, but because agriculture requires harder work than hunting and gathering. According to a report on hunter-gathers, the average length of time per adult worker per day put into the appropriation and preparation of food is three to five hours. So long as one can enjoy such an “Original Affluent Society”, no one dared to cultivate crops. It was not until they were faced with the hunger that the Neolithic Revolution started
Let’s describe this revolution in terms of my system theory. The deteriorating environment means the increase in material entropy and people began to produce the low-entropy resources by themselves. Agriculture is the labor-intensive industry and requires special techniques. Here again, we can apply the law of history: power is centralized and intellectual revolution takes place in the cooler period.
When the Younger Dryas ended and the Pre-Boreal warming started, the agriculture society afforded to raise cattle thanks to overproduction of cereal. Agriculture replaced gathering in the cooling period and cattle breeding replaced gathering in the warming period. Farmers used livestock first for meat, and then for traction, transport, wool, and milk. This secondary products revolution was disseminated as part of the process leading to urbanization.
3.2 : The Urban Revolution
The Urban Revolution, which again Vere Gordon Childe gave a name to, also happened in a cooling period. After the 8200 BP event, a long warm period known as “Holocene Climate Optimum” or “Atlantic” lasted until about 3000 BC. Then came a cool period that brought about civilizations. There is no name for this cool period. So I will call it “Subboreal Cool Period”, following the name of pollen zone divisions. Here is a graph of temperature fluctuation from 5000 BC to AD 200 reconstructed from oxygen isotope data of the Greenland ice core.
Here is another graph of temperature fluctuation from 6000 BC to 400 BC reconstructed from pollen assemblages preserved in a sediment core from northern Finland.
When the Subboreal Cool Period begins, regions from 35° north latitude southwards, such as Mesopotamia, the Nile Delta, the Indus plains, and southern China got cold and dry, while regions from 35° north latitude northwards, such as the Anatolian Plains and the Tibetan Plateau got cold and wet. It was this climate change that caused Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese Civilizations to rise.
The Japanese meteorologist and geographer Hideo Suzuki has made the interesting suggestion that it was the refugee herdsmen and farmers from the increasing desert regions round about who were fated to become the slaves who made possible the intensive agriculture and the great building works for which ancient Egypt and the other river valley civilizations are famous.
The bottom of 2700 BC was the age of Urban Revolution when these major civilizations flourished almost at the same time. Take the Sumerian Civilization as an example. The precipitation in the upper reach of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers increases, while that in their lowlands decreases. The rivers got swollen and the farmlands around them dried up. Farmers naturally rushed to the riversides to seek for irrigation water. But just gathering does not make civilization.
The word “civilization” comes from the Latin word “civis”, meaning townsman or citizen. The word “civis” contrasts with the Latin word “barbaria”, meaning barbarian, which further stemmed from the ancient Greek word “βάρβαρος”, meaning a non-Greek. A non-Greek’s speech sounded “bar bar” to the Greeks and “βάρβαρος” was an imitative word for the unintelligible babble. Can we say whether the communication media mediated people or not is the criterion for civilization?
The communication media, namely, language, money, and punishment, had functioned to some degree before the Civilizations emerged, but these media became important, when people gather together, resulting in high population density and high social entropy.
We can attribute the civilization/culture difference to that of urban/rural. The word “culture” comes from the Latin word “colere”, meaning “cultivate”. The Neolithic Revolution was the culture revolution, while the Urban Revolution was the civilization revolution. Both revolutions are characterized by centralization and intellectual sophistication, but the Urban Revolution requires more centralization and intellectual sophistication because of the high population density.
Suppose people rush to the riversides to seek for irrigation water, as must have happened at the Subboreal Cold Period. They will quarrel with one another, struggling for water or harvest. This chaotic uncertainty increases social entropy and those who can control the three media, language, money and punishment, that is to say, who have cultural, economic and political capital must intervene to reduce this social entropy.
The Civilizations I mentioned above disappeared or declined after 1800 BC. You can see the peak named Subboreal Warm Period in the graph above. After 1800 BC, the reverse of Subboreal cooling happened, that is to say, the regions from 35° north latitude southwards got warm and wet, while the regions from 35° north latitude northwards got warm and dry.
In the regions from 35° north latitude southwards got, precipitation increased and river flow decreased. Farmers do not have to depend on cities any longer. They left cities and scattered to the countries. On the other hand, nomads in the regions from 35° north latitude northwards migrated southward to seek for water. Some attribute the Dark Age after 1800 BC to the invasion and destruction by these nomads, the Civilization would have disappeared or declined without the migration of the northern nomads. The Dark Age is so named not because it was the miserable age, but because there remained few written records of the age. As I stated before, at the warmer period, power is decentralized and intellectual stagnation takes place.
3.3 : The Achsenzeit Revolution
The word “Achsenzeit” is a term that German philosopher Karl Jaspers coined, meaning the Axis Age.It is the period from 800 BC to 200 BC, pivotal in the history of thought. Greek philosophers such as Socrates (circa 470-399 BC) and Plato (428/427-348/347 BC), Zoroaster (628-551 BC), the founder of the first monotheistic religion, the prophets in Israel such as Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Upanishad philosophers and Siddhartha Gautama (463-383BC) in India, Confucius (551BC-479BC) and other Hundred Schools of Thought in China appeared during this age.
Look at the two graphs above again. The temperature from 800-200BC is low. What should I call this period? According to pollen zone divisions, the period from Achsenzeit to the present is named Subatlantic. This period is too long for historical analysis. So, I will adopt the classical division into three periods, Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Modern Times. It is not accidental that each epoch begins with cooling event lasts over warm time, and ends with the next cooling event because an epoch-making event occurs in a cooling period.
The Ancient Cool Period and Medieval Cool Period were the periods, when monotheism or, more exactly speaking, paternal religion came into being and spread. The first attempt of monotheism was the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, though it turned out to be a failure. The first successful monotheism is Zoroastrianism. It worshiped Ahura Mazda as the transcendental and universal God. The most influential early monotheism is, however, Judaism, from which Christianity and Islam stemmed.
Castration as well as monotheism is an important feature of paternal religion. Here I use this term in a Freudian meaning. According to Freud, human children passed through stages, oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital stage, till they become independent of their mother. Freud tried to apply the recapitulation thesis “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” to his theory of psychosexual development. I will also try to apply the recapitulation theory to these stages.
Getting out of the aquatic environment corresponds to getting out of amniotic fluid. The oral stage corresponds to the cannibalism. The early humans depend on the Mother Nature, like infants. The “stade du miroir” that divides oral/anal stages corresponds to the Great Leap Forward, the linguistic revolution. The anal stage corresponds to the ages when humans store harvest and trade it with others. The phallic stage corresponds to the male-dominant age after the Urban Revolution, though humans still worshiped the Mother God, like the boy attaching to his mother. The transition from maternal to paternal religion corresponds to the castration and the repression of the Oedipus complex. Since the Mother Nature got cold, humans were obliged to abandon the adherence to the Mother God.
Though Buddhism is neither monotheism nor polytheism, because it does not believe in any gods, it is paternal religion, because it is a typical religion of castration. Siddhartha Gautama taught that one should stop clinging to the unawakened, worldly life because it is the cause of the suffering.
The big three paternal religion, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, spread the world during the Medieval Cool Period. These revolutions were the intellectual revolutions as well as the spiritual centralization.
3.4 : The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution took place in the cold period, named Little Ice Age. See the graph of temperature fluctuation below.
The Industrial Revolution began with the textile industry. As it got cold, the demand for clothing in the world increased and Britain, which had many colonies over the world, had to produce textiles in bulk quickly. This is because the Little Ice Age caused the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
During the Little Ice Age, solar activity as seen in sunspots was extremely low, with no or few sunspots. So, we can attribute the three deep troughs of the temperature during the Little Ice Age to three periods of sunspot minimum, namely Spörer Minimum (1450-1550), Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) and Dalton Minimum (1790-1820).
- The Spörer Minimum corresponds to the age of Enclosure in Britain during the 15th and 16th centuries. Since it got cold, the demand for wool increased and sheep farming grew profitable. But at this period, Britain just exported wool without processing it.
- Maunder Minimum corresponds to the age of manufacturing textiles made with wool from the sheep-farming areas created as a result of the Enclosure in Britain. Britain must produce the wool products by herself to meet the increasing demand for textiles.
- Dalton Minimum corresponds to the age of the Industrial Revolution that broke out in Britain in the 1780s. In this period, the East India Company introduced calico (a cotton product) to England. Its popularity posed a serious threat to England’s manufacturers of woolen products. That is why the newly emerging cotton industry in Britain made every effort to catch up with the technical level of Indian calico and the Industrial Revolution of cotton textiles broke out.
Why did the Industrial Revolution and the modern capitalism take place in 18th century Europe and not in other parts of the world such as India or China? Max Weber, a German political economist and sociologist, asked this question and he credited it to the different religious ethos. But you cannot credit the modern capitalism to the Protestant work ethic because the Protestant work ethic is the product of the Little Ice Age. Here again, we can attribute it to climate difference. As IPCC states, “the “Little Ice Age” appears to have been most clearly expressed in the North Atlantic region as altered patterns of atmospheric circulation.” This is because the Industrial Revolution first took place in Britain that faces the North Atlantic.
4 : Climate and Economy
Economic activity fluctuates, forming business cycles. There are several types of business cycles, notably the Kondratiev Cycle (45-60 years), the Kuznets Cycle (15-25 years), the Juglar Cycle (7-11 years) and the Kitchin Cycle (3-5 years). In this section, we will see that the climate change causes these business cycles.
4.1 : The Kondratiev Cycle
The Kondratiev Cycle is a wave that the Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev, a Russian economist, discovered. The wave is usually thought to be that of economic growth, but it is actually that of prices or interest. The following chart shows the correlation of Δ price index in Britain and sunspot numbers from 1750 to 2006. It adopts 11-year moving average to smooth 11-year fluctuation.
The correlation between them before 1800 is -0.67, while that after 1801 is + 0.51. How can such reversal of correlation be explained?
The decrease in sunspot number leads to more cloudiness, a drop in temperature and poor harvest. Before the Industrial Revolution, it resulted in inflation, because the limited supplying capacity could not meet the increasing demand for clothing and food. Nations often made war to acquire scarce resources, which accelerated further inflation.
After the Industrial Revolution, the improved productivity can solve the problem of the supply shortage. Instead of the poverty and inflation, richness and deflation have become the cause of the crisis. When the sunspot number increases, resources become abundant enough to lead to deflation and unemployment. Governments often make war for Military Keynesianism.
So, at the descending phase of Kondratiev Cycle, technological innovation takes place to meet the increasing demand and at its ascending phase, wars break out to reflate the money supply, re-create demand and push unemployment down. You can recognize it in the following table that includes five Kondratiev Cycles after the Industrial Revolution.
4.2 : The Kuznets Cycle
The Kuznets Cycle is a wave that the American economist Simon Kuznets discovered. It is often called an infrastructural investment cycle, but the question is why such long-term infrastructure investment fluctuates at this interval.
Brian Joe Lobley Berry enumerated “two Kuznets cycles per Kondratiev wave.”As I explained, the Kondratiev wave is a cycle of prices and interest and is independent of the cycle of economic growth. Hence, there are four combinations of the two factors and each can be named as follows.
- rising prices + growing economy = reflation
- rising prices + stagnating economy = inflation
- falling prices + growing economy = disinflation
- falling prices + stagnating economy = deflation
These four combinations in this order correspond respectively to ascending, peak, descending, and trough phase of the Kondratiev cycle. Thus the Kondratiev cycle consists of two Kuznets cycles. Let us examine each phase.
- Reflation is the phase of escaping deflation by increasing the money supply (a gold rush or an easy-money policy) and/or public undertaking (especially war). The rise in nominal interest rate booms economic growth.
- Inflation is the phase of the excessive money supply and the shortage of resources, which ends up with stagflation. Stagflation usually appears after the war.
- Disinflation is the phase of escaping inflation by decreasing the money supply (a tight-money policy) and cutting down expenses both in public and private sectors. The drop in nominal interest rate booms economic bubble.
- Deflation is the phase of the excessive money supply and the shortage of resources, which ends up with a financial crisis. A financial crisis usually appears after the bubble burst.
The Kuznets Cycle might be connected with the Hale cycle, a 22-year cycle in the reversal of the magnetic field of the Sun.
4.3 : The Juglar Cycle
The Juglar Cycle is a wave that Joseph Clément Juglar, a French physician and statistician discovered. Fluctuation of investment in plant and equipment is usually thought to drive this business cycle, but we must inquire further why the investment fluctuates. The following graph depicts the correlation of Δ “Indices of Industrial Production” in Japan and reversed sunspot numbers from 1978 to 2007. It adopts 39-month moving average to smooth 39-month fluctuation I will explain in the next division.
It shows when the sunspot number decreases, that is to say, the broken line ascends, production increases and when sunspot number increases, that is to say, the broken line descends, production decreases. As Jevons anticipated, the solar activity has an influence on economic activity.
4.4 : The Kitchen Cycle
The Kitchen cycle is a wave that the American economist Joseph Kitchen discovered. It is often called an inventory cycle, but the fluctuation of inventory cannot be the ultimate cause of the business cycle, because it depends on the fluctuation of consumption and we must inquire the cause of the latter fluctuation.
The period of this cycle is near that of atmospheric oscillations, such as ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation), NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) and AO (Arctic Oscillation). The following graph depicts the correlation of Δ inventory ratio in Japan and reversed NAO index. It adopts 12-month moving average to smooth 12-month fluctuation.
The North Atlantic Oscillation influences Japan’s climate via Arctic Oscillation. When NAO becomes positive, that is to say, the broken line descends, the summer of Japan becomes cool and the inventory ratio decreases. When NAO becomes negative, that is to say, the broken line ascends, the summer of Japan becomes hot and inventory ratio increases.
The relation of temperature and prosperity in the Kitchen Cycle is similar to that in the Juglar Cycle. When it gets warmer, the atmospheric circulation is activated, systems can easily reduce entropy, resources become abundant, the demand decreases, new products are not sold and thus the inventory ration increases. When it gets cooler, the atmospheric circulation stagnates, systems have difficulty in reducing entropy, resources become scarce, the demand increases, new products are well sold and thus the inventory ration decreases.
There is the quasi-biennial cycle in the sunspot number fluctuation, but it is so weak that there might be another cause of the atmospheric oscillations. Masayo Ogi et al. connected NAO and the 11-year solar cycle and said, “the influence of the winter NAO on the summer climate is modulated by the solar cycle through the surface cryospheric processes.” Not only the quasi-biennial cycle but also 11-year cycle of solar activity might affect the atmospheric oscillations.
5 : Related Works
Amazon.com: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (
Amazon.com: The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.) (860140069 ...
Barnes and Noble Routledge Classics set: Stone Age Economics (Volume 157): Marsh
Barnes and Noble Routledge Classics set: Stone Age Economics (Volume 157) [Marshall Sahlins] on ...
Climate, History and the Modern World: Hubert H. Lamb: 9780415127356: Amazon.com
Buy Climate, History and the Modern World on Amazon.com ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders
6 : References
- William Stanley Jevons (1875) Influence of the Sun-Spot Period on the Price of Corn, Nature; William Stanley Jevons (1878) Commercial Crises and Sun Spot, Nature.
- William Herschel (1801) Observations tending to investigate the nature of the sun in order to find the causes or symptoms of its variable emission of light and heat, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, 91. p. 354-362.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) Climate Change 2001, The Scientific Basis, 18.104.22.168
- H. Svensmark and E. Friis-Christensen (1997) Variation of cosmic ray flux and global cloud coverage – a missing link in solar-climate relationships, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, vol.59, No.11. p.1225-1232.
- D.D. Zhang, J. Zhang, H.F. Lee, Y. He (2007) Climate Change and War Frequency in Eastern China over the Last Millennium, Human Ecology, Volume 35, Issue 4. p.403
- Lorraine E. Lisiecki (2005) A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Paleoceanography, Vol. 20, PA1003.
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