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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A recent commentary, “Restore metal value to currency” (Feb. 7), advocated a return to a metal standard (gold and silver) for U.S. currency, which was abandoned in 1971. There are many problems with a gold/silver standard, an important one being that at some point in the near future, gold and silver extraction for the U.S. and the world will peak and then fall to negligible amounts as the energy required to mine them increases.
The gold and silver that is already mined will eventually be scattered across the Earth, as mandated by the second law of thermodynamics. This is not a good basis for a currency.
A better basis for currency is energy consumed. Currently, the main component of an energy-consumed standard would be energy generated from burning fossil and nuclear fuels, but eventually consumed-energy will be generated only from the sun and geothermal sources. Since those eventual sources will be nearly constant for millions of years, their energy production will provide a steady basis for currency.
A system would have to be in place that assures that politicians do not exercise priority over scientists in determining how much energy is consumed.
For details about a currency system based on energy consumed, see http://www.roperld.com/science/CurrencySystems.htm.
L. DAVID ROPER
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