Methane: A tidbit

In an age of global warming/ heating/ boiling it is important to have a basic understanding of a few chemicals. Methane is one of them.

A chemical compound is a substance made of many identical molecules containing atoms from more than one chemical element, held together by chemical bonds. There are several different types of chemical bonds, but those will not be discussed here, but the next time a chemical is presented.

Atmospheric oxygen = O2 is not a compound because there are atoms of only one element present, two atoms of oxygen joined together. Water = H20 is a chemical compound. It consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. A compound can be transformed into a different substance by a chemical reaction, typically involving interactions with other substances, and where bonds between atoms may be broken and/or new bonds formed.

Natural gas is not a compound, but a naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily (typically 97%) of methane. The chemical formula for methane, CH4, indicates that it is a compound, with one carbon atom bonding with four hydrogen atoms to create a methane compound. Natural gas/ methane used to be considered a clean-burning bridge fuel, an intermediate step between coal and renewables, to reduce emissions. Such a pleasant fantasy.

Atmospheric methane concentration has increased by about 160% since 1750, with the overwhelming percentage caused by human activity. It accounts for 20% of the total radiative forcing from all of the long-lived and globally mixed greenhouse gases, according to the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Radiative forcing = climate forcing = a climate science concept to quantify the change in energy balance in the Earth’s atmosphere caused by various factors, such as concentrations of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and changes in solar radiation. Technically, it is the change in the net = downward minus upward = radiative flux (expressed in W/m2) due to a change in an external driver of climate change. Both carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are examples of external drivers. Most of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen (N2) in addition to about 21% oxygen (O2).

The International Energy Agency 2024 methane tracker chart (below) shows the countries with the worst methane emissions from their oil and gas industries. At the far end of the chart is Norway which releases 0.01% well to end use emissions.

Worst in class is the United States, which is also the world’s largest producer of gas and oil by volume. USA produces 943.2 Gm3 of natural gas, compared to second-place Russia’s 701.7 Gm3. Canada’s sixth-place produces 172.3 Gm3, and Norway’s 11th place produces 11.43 Gm3. The natural gas figures are from The CIA World Factbook, 2021. From the same source, one can read that USA produces considerably more oil than than second-place Russia, and third-place Saudi Arabia. Part of the reason for United States’ position is its unconventional oil and gas extraction with shale oil and fracking. Both lead to high methane emissions.

For over fifty years, I have been one of those lummoxes who refuses to use non-metric units. For example, most days I refuse to use figures like 13.5 million tons, or even the quasi-metric equivalent expressed in tonnes. 1 ton = ca. 907 kg. Instead, I convert the original quantity to something metric. In this case 12.25 Tg.

The use of metric prefixes dates back to the definition of kilogram after the French Revolution. Currently there are 24 prefixes in use, ranging from quecto- (q) = 10 -30 to quetta- (Q) = 1030. Quecto, ronto (10-27), ronna (1027) and quetta were added in 2022. Wikipedia has an enjoyable (at least for some of us) article about metric prefixes.

Methane is a gas, so it is necessary to understand how gasses are measured. It begins with pressure. The standard atmosphere (atm) is an American unit of pressure defined as 101325 Pa = 101.325 kPa. While the Pascal is an SI unit, most metric users will call the standard atmosphere 1 bar, more accurately 1.01325 bar. Both of these units refer to a standard pressure, approximately equal to Earth’s average atmospheric pressure at sea level.

Methane is a colourless and transparent gas. It has a boiling point of −161.5 °C = -258.7 °F (read: deadly cold) at a pressure = 1 atm. As a gas, it is flammable over a range of concentrations (5.4%–17%) in air at 1 atm.

Methane is also odorless. The smell of natural gas some people experience at various locations is caused by the addition of an odorant for safety purposes. Usually the odorant is tert-butylthiol = tert-butyl mercaptan (TBM) = (CH3)3CSH often abbreviated t-BuSH. Given a choice, most people prefer to smell an odorant, alerting them to a gas leakage, than to die in an unannounced gas explosion.

Methane does more damage in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Thus the twenty year global warming potential (GWP-20) = 81.2. That second number is used to convert the pollutant into a CO2 equivalent. In the case of methane, GWP-100 = 27.9, is significantly less because methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime than carbon dioxide. Thus, 12.25 Tg of methane has the effect of 994.7 Tg GWP-20 of CO2. Despite it not being totally correct, I am going to refer to this as its 1 Pg GWP-20 C02 equivalent. The GWP-100 value is 340 Tg. The world’s total carbon dioxide emissions are about 40 billion tons a year = ca 3.6 Pg/ year.

The most common chemical reactions of methane are combustion, steam reformation of synthetic gas and halogenation.

Combustion, is an exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel = reductant and an oxidant = most often atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products. Redox = reduction–oxidation = chemical reaction where oxidation results in the loss of electrons while reduction results in a gain of electrons. Exothermic means the reaction releases energy from the system to its surroundings, usually in the form of heat.

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

Steam reforming to synthetic gas (syngas) is an endothermic process = a chemical/ physical process that requires/ absorbs heat from its surroundings. Endothermic is the opposite of exothermic. In this case, there is a need for energy ( 206 kJ/mol of methane) for the reaction to take place:

CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2

Halogenation is a chemical reaction that entails the introduction of one or more halogens into a compound. Halogens form a group (#17) a column of elements with similar characteristics, in the periodic table. They consist of five (or six) chemically related elements from top = lightest, to bottom = heaviest, atomic mass. Their symbols, atomic number = position and approximate atomic mass/ weight are: fluorine (F #9, 18.998), chlorine (Cl #17, 35.45), bromine (Br #35, 79.904), iodine (I #53, 126.9), and the radioactive elements astatine (At #85, 210) and tennessine (Ts #117, 294). Not all chemists accept tennessine as a halogen. The word halogen = salt former = salt maker. When halogens react with metals, they produce salts. Think: NaCl (sodium chloride) or common table salt. Sodium (Na) is a metal, chlorine (Cl) is a halogen.

CH4 + Cl2 → CH3Cl + HCl

Note: This is not the first chemical I have written about. Earlier, I wrote a weblog post about silicone.

Social Credit

Landlocked between Montana, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan, Alberta was known for its Social Credit government. Now, oil dominates media coverage. This map shows the extent of the oil sands in Alberta: the Athabasca Oil Sands, the Cold Lake Oil Sands, and the Peace River Oil Sands. Map: Normal Einstein, 2006.

Clifford Hugh Douglas (1879 – 1952) = Major Douglas, is credited as the founder of the social credit movement. He worked as an electrical engineer throughout the British empire. During World War I, he reorganized work at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a research institution located at Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire, England. There he noticed that the costs of goods produced exceeded that paid in wages, salaries and dividends. This contradicted the prevailing economic theory of David Ricardo (1772 – 1823), that stated that all costs were distributed simultaneously as purchasing power.

The core of his economic argument was that the economic system was organized to maximize profits for those with economic power by creating unnecessary scarcity. One short, but interesting source that comments about this has been written by Janet Martin-Nielsen (1982 – ).

Douglas claimed there were three possible economic policy alternatives:

  • 1. To impose a system of thought and action.
  • 2. To provide employment.
  • 3. To provide goods and services.

Douglas felt most governments aimed at the first two policies. He aimed to satisfy the third. Because of this disparity between the flow of money and stated industry objectives, the delivery of goods and services, he began to apply engineering methods to the economic system.

This led Douglas to distinguished between values, costs and prices. He claimed that economists were obsessed about values. He considered values to be subjective, incapable of being measured objectively. He rejected money as a standard/ measure, of value, but regarded it as a medium of communication whereby consumers could direct the distribution of production.

Wealth is derived from the Old English wela = well-being. Douglas believed that all production should increase personal well-being. Production that does not directly increase personal well-being is waste = economic sabotage. Consumers pay for the costs of production, including waste. This results in wasted work. Douglas believed that this waste was directly linked to confusion about the purpose of an economic system, especially the mistaken belief that it exists to provide employment.

Douglas noted that the long-term consequence of a full-employment policy is a trade war, that typically leads to a real war. That is, full employment leads to excessive capital production (as expressed in the 21st century by extreme/ billionaire wealth). Where this does not use up all of the capital there is an opportunity for military build-up, Military buildup results in violence or an unnecessary accumulation of weapons.

The social credit admonition: He who calls for Full-Employment calls for War! was expressed by John Hargrave (1894 – 1982) leader of the Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hargrave was also a Quaker and a pacifist, but enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in World War I. This experience convinced him that modern civilization had failed, expressed in The Great War Brings It Home (1919), and a call for a character-building and physical training foundation, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, in 1920, as a movement for all ages and genders, and a progressive alternative to the Boy Scouts. He was often regarded as a potential replacement as Chief Scout Robert Baden-Powell (1857 – 1941), at least until Baden-Powell expelled Hargrave from the scout movement.

Hargrave wrote The Fighting Programme of the Social Credit Party in 1939, although I rely on a second edition, published in 1941. It listed twelve points: 1. Finance = Establish a Sane Economic System; 2. Government = Make the Will of the People Effective; 3. Work = Abolish Unemployment and Wage Slavery; 4. Defence = Create Effective Defence Forces; 5. Food Supply = Regenerate the Soil; 6. Health = Regenerate the People; 7. Industry = Increase Mechanisation; 8. Building = Demolish the Slums: Build New Towns and Cities; 9. Transport = Reorganise the Transport System; 10. Education = Provide Equal Opportunity for All; 11. Culture = Make Leisure Available to All; 12. Foreign Policy = Abolish War. Through the rest of the book these points are explained in greater detail.

An aside: Hargrave was also a founder of one of the coloured shirt movements that followed the first world war, the Social Credit centrist green shirts. Juan Francisco Fuentes counts 10 green, 8 blue, 4 each black, grey and red, 2 brown, 1 white and 1 orange = 34 groups, of which 25 are right wing, 2 are centre and 7 are left wing. These included: The brownshirts or Sturmabteilung, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s; Hirden, a Quisling/ Nasjonalsamling equivalent in Norway; the blackshirts or squadristi of the Italian Voluntary Militia for National Security, originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party but, after 1923, an all-volunteer militia in Italy under the fascists.

Much of the world entered a depression in 1929. In Canada, the Alberta Social Credit party was founded in 1934, in the middle of this depression. In the 1935 provincial election it won a majority government, remaining in power until 1971. It was initially led by Bible Bill, William Aberhart (1878 – 1943). Aberhart added a layer of evangelical Christianity to the economic mix. For this, and other reasons, Douglas was not impressed with this party’s interpretation of the principles outlined, and especially disliked the inclusion of economic content from Johann Silvio Gesell (1862 – 1930) a German-Argentine economist, and founder of Freiwirtschaft, an economic model for market socialism. Alberta Social Credit issued Prosperity Certificates = funny money, based on Silvio Gesell’s ideas.

In 1935, Hargrave started to work for the Alberta Social Credit party. It lasted one year. He returned to Britain in 1936.

After Aberhart’s death in 1943, Earnest Manning (1908 – 1996) took over party leadership. Manning was regarded as Aberhart’s religious protege and closest political associate. However, the party became increasingly socially and fiscally conservative, mainly due to Manning’s pragmatism. Manning was premier of Alberta from 1943 to 1968. As Wikipedia explains: Under Manning, Alberta became a virtual one-party province. He led Social Credit to an incredible seven consecutive election victories between 1944 and 1967, usually with more than 50% of the popular vote, and only once had to face more than 10 opposition MLAs.

The province of British Columbia, immediately to the west of Alberta, also formed Social Credit organizations in the early 1930s. This did not result in political influence, until the early 1950s, when the party formed governments between 1952 and 1991, except for the years 1972 to 1975, when the British Columbia New Democratic Party governed. Unlike Alberta, the emergence and continued popularity of Social Credit had nothing to do with depression relief. Rather it stemmed from a revolt against corruption involving a Liberal – Conservative coalition.

Leader of the party from 1952 to 1972 was W.A.C./ Cece/ Wacky Bennett (1900 – 1979), followed by his son Bill Bennett (1932 – 2015), who was premier from 1975 to 1986. The downfall of the party had its roots in the election of Bill Vander Zalm (1934 – ) as party leader.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Social Credit in British Columbia is its attempt to ride two horses simultaneously. It is both a free enterprise party, but also responsible for purchasing BC Electric and Blackball Ferries to form the backbone of BC Hydro and BC Ferries, respectively. Both are crown = government owned, corporations.

My interest in Social Credit stems from living in British Columbia from 1948 to 1980, where a Social Credit government was in power, for most of those years. I think one of the reasons for its popularity, was its investment in highways. These are especially important in mountainous areas of the world.

I particularly remember Phil Gaglardi (1913 – 1995), a Pentacostal minister from Kamloops, and minister of highways for most of my formative years. The provincial highways construction signs always ended with Sorry for the inconvenience and his name and title. His nickname, Flying Phil, came from his tendency to speed while driving and accrue speeding tickets. He was also noted for encouraging the provincial government to buy a Lear Jet, for use by ministers.

Social Credit no longer exists in Canada as a political party, and its economic philosophy is no longer regarded as important.

Currently, my interests in economic philosophy relate to alternative forms of economics that are better for the planet and living human beings, especially. When Trish and I first moved to Norway in 1980, it felt like a poorer society. That feeling did not last long, as oil infused the country with wealth. Some of the differences we noted were shorter working hours and longer holidays as well as (more) affordable houses. I am not happy with all of the changes made in the intervening forty plus years. In more recent years, the EV transition has been notable.

To understand how societies can transform themselves economically, I recommend the following books, in chronological order: Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism (2010); Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level (2011); Mariana Muzzucato, The Entrepreneurial State (2013); Thomas Piketty, Capitial in the 21st Century (2016); Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (2017); Mariana Muzzucato, The Mission Economy (2021); Thomas Piketty, Brief History of Equality (2022); Ingrid Robeyns, Limitarianism (2024).

Publication of this weblog post has been postponed from 2023-03-18 at 12:00 to 2024-03-23 at 12:00.

Antigonish Movement

Yes, this poster is too small to be legible, but it shows some of the thoughts regarding the Antigonish movement. I note that one gender and many ethnicities are under-represented. Hopefully in the 75 years since this poster appeared these issues have been addressed, and resolved.

Two quotations from Moses Coady:

If we are wise, we will help the people everywhere to get the good and abundant life… to become masters of their own destiny.

When you stop pioneering, you die.

I first became acquainted with the Antigonish movement, Saint Francis Xavier University (SFXU), and the Coady Institute (CI) when I was living in Halifax in 1975. Since the start of the internet age, I have periodically looked at websites related to these.

It is now a century since the Antigonish movement was started. Jimmy Tompkins (1870 – 1953) and Moses Coady (1882 – 1959) are generally regarded as its founding figures.  They were both Roman Catholic priests from the Margaree Valley on Cape Breton Island. They were double-cousins of each other, of Irish ancestry.

Tompkins was vice-rector then vice-president and prefect of studies at SFXU from 1907 to 1923. He offended Antigonish Bishop James Morrison (1861 – 1950) and was exiled to Canso, Nova Scotia. Here, he observed the plight of the fishing community and helped organize cooperative fisheries, stores, housing projects, and adult study groups. In addition, Tompkins started the first regional library in Nova Scotia, its first credit union and Tompkinsville (as it was commonly called) a cooperative housing association in Reserve Mines, about 15 km north east of Sydney. Tompkins can be considered the spiritual founder of the Antigonish movement.

The movement is named after the Antigonish diocese. It currently includes 99 parishes and mission churches in seven deaneries, located in Northeastern Nova Scotia, including all of Cape Breton Island. In 1924, the area experienced labour unrest, especially in the coals mines, and out-migration.  It was proving difficult to counteract these issues.  Coady was working on a project to put into practice his theory that: The short, quick, scientific way to progress in the world, even in the field of formal education of youth, was through the enlightenment and education of adults. He posed two questions: What should people do to get life in this community and what should they think about and study to enable them to get it? The basic technique of the Antigonish Movement–the formation of study clubs acting as crucibles in which co-operative group action was created through a persistent process of questioning, debate, education and learning–had emerged.

A seminary was established at Arichat on Isle Madame, accessible from Cape Breton Island, in 1853. In 1855, it was moved to Antagonish, on the Nova Scotia mainland, 100 km = 60 miles away and renamed St. Francis Xavier University. In 1928, Coady was appointed the first director of the extension department of SFXU.  In 1930, Coady and the extension department initiated local community actions, calling mass meetings and introducing study clubs.  Coady would speak at these meetings often and lectured the community on its failings; he then challenged them to ask key questions: What do we need and how can we get it? 

Coady’s book, Master of Their Own Destiny (1939) is available at the Internet Archive. After his death, the CI was opened at SFXU to continue his work in emerging nations. CI offers on-site and on-line educational programs with an emphasis on social change. The focus is on practice and participation, using learner-centered and asset-based methods with a potential for personal growth and social transformation.

Currently 12 on-site courses are offered at SFXU in Antigonish. These include Asset-Based and Community-Led Development: Theory and Practice which provides an opportunity to share and to learn about the principles, practices and tools that put local assets and action at the centre of development initiatives. This provides a time-out for participants to question conventional community development practices and beliefs, and to re-evaluate the role of institutions in stimulating and supporting genuine asset-based and citizen-led development (ABCD). Another on-site program has a focus on Community Led Solutions for Climate Change. Human-induced climate change is the most pressing global issue of our time. The course uses case studies from different regions of the world and draws on the experiences of participants, facilitators, local practitioners, activists and community members.

There are also twelve online programs offered by SFXU that use various communications platforms.

While all of these programs invite the participation of women, five of the twelve on-site and two of the online programs are specifically for women, without male participation. These are: Feminist Advocacy for Agency, Equity and Justice; Indigenous Women in Community Leadership; Towards Decolonial Feminist Leadership; Women’s Leadership for Community Development; and, Advancing Women’s Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding for Community Development. The two online programs specifically for woman are: Feminist Leadership for capabilities, ecology and transformation; and, Resources and Tools for Working with Young Women Leaders.


  1. Life-long learning is important. Adult education opportunities need to be provided, including topics in economics related to asset management.
  2. People need a living wage. This is non-negotiable. Learn about this in context. This also means that there should be a maximum wage, and a ceiling on assets.
  3. People need control of the assets that affect their lives. At a minimum, this means producer co-operatives, consumer co-operatives, housing co-operatives and credit unions.
  4. Once the material needs of people have been met, spiritual needs can be worked on.


For the past 70 years I have tried to understand my place in the world. It has been confusing. To begin with, I had to separate an unknown nature, from a misknown nurture. Misknown? Yes, when my paternal Scottish roots turn out to be Scottish and Irish, the latter from Mohill, County Leitrim, and my maternal English roots turn out to be Scottish and English, with the Scottish probably from Roxburghshire in the Borders area. Yes, when my Protestant heritage is largely Catholic.

In this post I attempted to reveal my spiritual connection to the Antagonish Movement and the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The MacLellans settled there in 1795 or 1821 (sources vary). Some sources claim that the brother of my MacLellan ancestor was the Catholic priest for these Scottish immigrants.

For most of my life, I have known that the MacLellans had come from the Outer Hebrides. Barra, I was told. However, this turns out to be a fleeting moment on South Uist. Before that it was Swordland, on the mainland of Scotland. Swordland is a small hamlet in North Morar part of the Lochaber district of Highland Council Area. It lies on the northern shoreline of Loch Morar, about 1 km south of Tarbet. Alasdair visited this area in 2023, and found numerous MacLellans including several with the names Alasdair and Shelagh.

On Cape Breton Island, I was told the MacLellans lived in Sydney Mines. It turns out that this was just another stop, on a journey that led to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. They had actually lived in the Margaree Valley. I had been told that given name Alexander = Alasdair, in Scot’s Gaelic, was common, both meaning, helper of man. Another common given name was Archibald = Gilleasbuig, in Scot’s Gaelic, meaning servant of the bishop.

Nature? In 2017, I found out that my biological father, Percy Bradd (1914 – 1956) was also Catholic. My biological mother was Protestant. I chose to be a Unitarian, and then a Baha’i.

I am planning one last trip to Nova Scotia, scheduled for the summer of 2025. I was last there in 1976, close enough to fifty years earlier. I am looking forward to seeing Cape Breton again, especially visiting the Margaree Valley for the first time. On the Nova Scotia mainland, SFXU and Antigonish more generally, are intended places to visit. I am also looking forward to seeing how Halifax has changed.


The Technocracy Monad on a poster.

This weblog post investigates the history of Technocracy, with its potential to develop a New World Order into something unexpected by the vast majority of modern critics: a currency that results in greater equality, or at a minimum, eliminates the extremes of wealth and poverty. Here, some references to contemporary issues will also be made to help clarify the subject.

Technocracy is derived from the Greek words techne = skill and kratos = rule. Thus, it is government by skilled engineers, scientists and technicians as opposed to elected officials. It was opposed to all other forms of government, including communism, socialism and fascism, all of which function with a price-based economy.

Technocracy can trace its origins to the scientific autocracy of Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and in the positivism of Auguste Comte (1798- 1857), sometimes referred to as the father of the social sciences. Positivism elevated science and the scientific method above metaphysical revelation. Technocrats embraced positivism because they believed that social progress was possible only through science and technology.

Technocracy as a social concept originated with William Henry Smyth (1855 – 1940), a California engineer, who used the term in Technocracy – Ways and Means to Gain Industrial Democracy (1919), published in the Journal of Industrial Management. Smyth wanted engineers and scientists to be included in decision-making processes. Even in the new millennium, there is an effort to silence the influence of engineers, scientists and technologists in decision making. One has only to see the situation at Boeing, where after its merger with McDonnell-Douglas, in 1997, the company moved its head office to Chicago in 2005, to restrict engineers from having influence over corporate decisions. This allowed the short-term interests of share-holders to be placed above the makers (and users) of its products.

Norwegian-American economist and sociologist, Thorstein Veblen (1857 – 1929), known for his criticism of capitalism, significantly influenced technocracy with an article, Engineers and the Price System (1921). Here he argued for the formation of a Soviet of Technicians, a precursor to a more socialistic organization of economic affairs.

As an early advocate of technocracy, Veblen was a member of the Technical Alliance, consisting of engineers, scientists and others in New York City. Veblen predicted business enterprises would decay once they encounter new inventions. Clayton Christensen (1952 – 2020) makes a similar point in The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) where he describes disruptive innovation. A typical example is that of steam/ power shovel manufacturers, none of whom were able to survive the disruption that came with hydraulic excavators. In the 21st century, one sees signs that legacy automotive manufacturers, are incapable of competing with Tesla, BYD and others.

The technocracy movement criticized the price system as incapable of effective action. The technocrats proposed phasing out the price system and replacing it with a measurable energy unit, today, most commonly, the joule. If this is not used within a specified period of time, the currency expires. People then receive a new allocation based on new energy production quotas for the next period.

In the early 1930s, the depression stirred public interest in finding alternative solutions. One of the major characteristics that distinguishes technocractic organisations from others was its energy-based accounting system. Technocrats saw this as a mechanism to help the economy heal from the the crisis. However, the public interest in technocracy declined by the mid-1930s following the emergence of Franklin Roosevelt’s (1882 – 1945) New Deal, introduced to counter the depression. The New Deal involved public work and financial reforms introduced between 1933 and 1939.

Another challenge facing Technocracy and, as will be shown in a subsequent weblog post, Social Credit, is its anti-war attitudes. Governments, particularly in the 20th century, were often eager to use war as a solution for their problems. Thus, before the Second World War, technocratic organizations were banned in Canada due to their alleged opposition to war. The ban in Canada was lifted in 1943 when the organizations pledged their commitment to the war effort by proposing a program of total enrollment to any war.

Technocracy is considered undemocratic, since it allows people with technical expertise to make decisions, potentially against the will of the population. I fail to see how this differs significantly from political parties using experts in economics or business management to propose, justify then impose political decisions. Most political decisions are not based on principles, but on targeting groups to impact. Frequently, those targeted groups are those that make the most significant donations to a political party.

Several technocratic organizations were established immediately after the First World War, such as New Machines and the Soviet of Technicians. However, these organizations did not last long.

Technocracy, as a non-political philosophy, was started in the United States by Howard Scott (1890 – 1970) and Marion King Hubbert (1903 – 1989) in the 1930s. They proposed replacing government with technocrats, scientists and engineers who possessed the necessary skills and experience to manage the economy. They argued that a society headed by technical experts would be more productive and rational.

Hubbert, then a young geoscientist who would later (in 1948-1956) invent the now-famous Peak Oil Theory. Hubbert stated that the discovery of new energy reserves and their production would be outstripped by usage, thereby eventually causing economic and social havoc. Many modern followers of Peak Oil Theory believe that the 2007-2009 global recession was exacerbated in part by record oil prices that reflected the validity of this theory. However, attempts to find collaborative evidence of this, have proved futile.

Hubbert received all of his higher education at the University of Chicago, graduating with a PhD in 1937. He later taught geophysics at Columbia University. In 1933, Hubbert and Howard Scott formed an organization called Technocracy, Inc.

The principles of technocracy soon resulted in Hubbert and Scott also co-authoring Technocracy Study Course in 1934. This book is the root document to which most modern technocratic thinking can be traced. It can be downloaded at no expense. At is most basic, Technocracy postulated that only scientists and engineers are capable of running a complex, technology-based society. They argued that, because technology changed the nature of societies, previous methods of government and economy were obsolete. They disdained politicians and bureaucrats, who they viewed as incompetent. By utilizing the scientific method and scientific management techniques, Technocrats hoped to squeeze the massive inefficiencies out of running a society, thereby providing more benefits for all members of society while consuming less resources.

The other integral part of Technocracy was to implement an economic system based on energy allocation rather than price. They proposed to replace money with energy credits. This focus on the efficient use of energy hints at Technocracy being a sustainable ecological/ environmental movement in the United States.

In Technocracy Study Course, Hubbert & Scott state: Although [the earth] is not an isolated system the changes in the configuration of matter on the earth, such as the erosion of soil, the making of mountains, the burning of coal and oil, and the mining of metals are all typical and characteristic examples of irreversible processes, involving in each case an increase of entropy. (p. 49)

The modern emphasis on curtailing carbon fuel consumption that causes global warming and CO2 emissions is essentially a product of early Technocratic thinking. As scientists, Hubbert and Scott tried to explain (or justify) their arguments in terms of physics, especially the law of thermodynamics = the study of energy conversion between heat and mechanical work.

Entropy is a concept within thermodynamics that represents the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work. Entropy thus increases as matter and energy in the system degrade toward the ultimate state of inert uniformity.
In layman’s terms, entropy means once you use it, you lose it for good. Furthermore, the end state of entropy is inert uniformity where nothing takes place. Thus, if man uses up all the available energy and/or destroys its ecological basis, it cannot be repeated or restored ever again.

Howard Scott wrote an article that appeared in Technocracy Magazine in 1937-07. It described an Energy Distribution Card in great detail, declaring it a: means of accounting is a part of Technocracy’s proposed change in the course of how our socioeconomic system can be organized.

He further wrote: The certificate will be issued directly to the individual. It is nontransferable and nonnegotiable; therefore, it cannot be stolen, lost, loaned, borrowed, or given away. It is noncumulative; therefore, it cannot be saved, and it does not accrue or bear interest. It need not be spent but loses its validity after a designated time period.

At one point Technocracy showed an updated Energy Distribution Card. It was similar to a contemporary debit/ credit card, with an embedded microchip, that contained all the information needed to use the card. Of course there is no need to restrict this to that technology. A smartphone could equally well contain an Energy Distribution app. It was contended that a card/ app could provide a universal identification document. This also sheds light on a more negative aspect of Technocracy’s philosophy, which allowed each person to be monitored and accounted for, to track their consumption of energy, and their contributions to manufacturing processes.

Modern Carbon Markets

The modern system of carbon credits was an invention of the Kyoto Protocol and started to gain momentum in 2002 with the establishment of the first domestic economy-wide trading scheme in the U.K. After becoming international law in 2005, the trading market was predicted to reach $3 trillion in 2020. Graciela Chichilnisky (1944 – ), an Argentine American mathematical economist, and one-time director of the Columbia Consortium for Risk Management and a designer of the carbon credit text of the Kyoto Protoco: [Carbon credits are] therefore all about cash and trading – but it is also a way to a profitable and greener future. She does not elaborate on how this profitability and greenness are related. Indeed, these are meaningless soundbites, unfortunately. It is all about greed. The largest carbon traders are also the largest banks: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Bloomberg noted in an article Carbon Capitalists 2009-12-04: The banks are preparing to do with carbon what they’ve done before: design and market derivatives contracts that will help client companies hedge their price risk over the long term. They’re also ready to sell carbon-related financial products to outside investors.

Blythe Masters (1969 – ), the British fintec entrepreneur, with a bachelor’s degree in economics, who invented credit default swaps, was described by The Guardian newspaper (2008-09-20) as the woman who invented financial weapons of mass destruction. At the time, The Guardian was criticized for not giving her an opportunity to defend herself.

From 1995 to 2010, there were numerous articles advocating a carbon currency (CC). Below are some of those I have been able to find and read.

In 1995, Judith Hanna wrote Toward a single carbon currency in New Scientist, where she proposed: to set a global quota for fossil fuel combustion every year, and to share it equally between all the adults in the world.

In 2004, David G. Victor and Joshua C. House published A New Currency in the Harvard International Review. It stated: For those keen to slow global warming, the most effective actions are in the creation of strong national carbon currencies… For scholars and policymakers, the key task is to mine history for guides that are more useful. Global warming is considered an environmental issue, but its best solutions are not to be found in the canon of environmental law. Carbon’s ubiquity in the world economy demands that cost be a consideration in any regime to limit emissions. Indeed, emissions trading has been anointed king because it is the most responsive to cost. And since trading emissions for carbon is more akin to trading currency than eliminating a pollutant, policymakers should be looking at trade and finance with an eye to how carbon markets should be governed. We must anticipate the policy challenges that will arise as this bottom-up system emerges, including the governance of seams between each of the nascent trading systems, liability rules for bogus permits, and judicial cooperation. The article concludes that: after seven years of spinning wheels and wrong analogies, the international regime to control carbon is headed, albeit tentatively, down a productive path.

In 2006, UK Environment Secretary David Miliband spoke to the Audit Commission Annual Lecture and flatly stated: Imagine a country where carbon becomes a new currency. We carry bankcards that store both pounds and carbon points. When we buy electricity, gas and fuel, we use our carbon points, as well as pounds. To help reduce carbon emissions, the Government would set limits on the amount of carbon that could be used.

In 2007, Hannah Fairfield wrote When Carbon Is Currency that appeared in the New York Times . She pointedly stated “To build a carbon market, its originators must create a currency of carbon credits that participants can trade.”

PointCarbon, a consultancy, partnered with Bank of New York Mellon to assess rapidly growing carbon markets. In 2008 they published “Towards a Common Carbon Currency: Exploring the prospects for integrated global carbon markets.” This report discussed environmental and economic efficiency, in a similar context to that of Hubbert in 1933.

On 2009-11-09, the Telegraph (UK) presented an article “Everyone in Britain could be given a personal ‘carbon allowance.’” It stated: … implementing individual carbon allowances for every person will be the most effective way of meeting the targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It would involve people being issued with a unique number which they would hand over when purchasing products that contribute to their carbon footprint, such as fuel, airline tickets and electricity. Like with a bank account, a statement would be sent out each month to help people keep track of what they are using. If their “carbon account” hits zero, they would have to pay to get more credits.

On 2010-01-26, Patrick Wood published an article titled, Carbon Currency: A New Beginning for Technocracy? Global currency replacing all paper currencies, limiting manufacturing, food production and people movement. Wood discusses a proposed new Carbon Currency, designed to support a radically different economic system based on energy production and consumption, instead of price. The era of fiat currency = irredeemable paper currency, was introduced in 1971 when President Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994) decoupled the U.S. dollar from gold. Almost all other currencies eventually followed.
This approach is essentially technocracy, as seen through new eyes. Both want to find a more equatable currency that reduces poverty, encourages population reduction, reduces environmental hazards and global warming, and allocates energy and goods more equitably.

Some concepts are poorly explained in the article. For example, how will a CC allocate available energy to people? The energy supply chain is dominated by a global elite, that interacts with with energy providers and energy consumers. It is unexplained why and how this elite will abdicate its role in providing energy. Related questions will have to be asked about manufacturing, agriculture and services. It is understandable that many people want to be part of the allocation process. Wood notes that local currencies could remain in play for a time, but states that they would eventually wither and be fully replaced by the [CC], much the same way that the Euro displaced individual European currencies over a period of time. Wood has obviously misunderstood how the Euro became the currency of much of Europe. It did not evolve, it replaced national currencies on 1999-01-01.

Wood does bring up some other interesting facts, including literature influenced by Technocracy, including: Aldous Huxley’s (1894 – 1963) in Brave New World (1932), especially its scientific dictatorship; H.G. Well’s (1866 – 1946)The Shape of Things to Come (1933); and, George Orwell’s (1903 – 1950) 1984 (1949).


Technocracy expanded the use of entropy to include social entropy. This unscientific and previously unknown term, was postulated to increase social efficiency by allocating available energy then measuring subsequent outputs to find a state of equilibrium.

In Technocracy Study Course, Hubbert & Scott, on p. 238-239 show how Technocracy proposes to allocate energy. People/ adults/ citizens (sometimes)/ residents (other times)/ would receive Energy Certificates (ECs) in order to operate the economy. These would be recorded by an agency called the Distribution Sequence, and be a matter of public record. Purchases of goods or services would require an individual to surrenders ECs. This allows a single organization to produce and distribute all goods and services: With this information clearing continuously to a central headquarters we have a case exactly analogous to the control panel of a power plant, or the bridge of an ocean liner.

Technocracy admits that control of a currency results in a controls of an economy, and its overlaying political structure. Energy-based accounting could fundamentally change world economic and political systems.

I had read in some forgotten source, that Technocracy is now growing rapidly in Europe and other industrialized nations: For instance, the Network of European Technocrats was formed in 2005 as “an autonomous research and social movement that aims to explore and develop both the theory and design of technocracy.” The NET website claims to have members around the world.

This is undoubtedly an exaggeration. NET had very few members. Full disclosure: I was a member! A few insignificant organizations, even with websites, cannot create/ implement a new global energy policy. They can barely dent the old. They may gain some influence on modern energy thinking, with a focus on Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory, introduced in 1954. Much of the ecological/ environmental movement incorporates Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory, along with an emphasis on global warming. John Walsh concluded: The issue of peak oil impinges directly on the climate change question. (see John H. Walsh, “The Impending Twin Crisis – One Set of Solutions?, p.5.)

Technocracy likes to emphasize two key differences between price-based money and ECs: 1) money is generic to the holder while EC are individually registered to each citizen, and 2) money persists while ECs expire. This second feature would greatly hinder, if not altogether prevent, the accumulation of wealth and property.

At the start of WWII, Technocracy’s popularity dwindled as economic prosperity returned.

A map of the North American Technate, with some unexpected countries. Howard Scott with two other unidentified people. Location: unknown. Date: unknown. Photographer: unknown.

Smoke screens

Technocracy brings with it a number of irritations.

Technocracy’s original focus was exclusively on the North American Technate. Yet, membership was only open to American and Canadian citizens, despite this Technate having an unusual composition. In addition to Canada and USA, it also included: Greenland, Iceland, St Pierre and Miquelon, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, as well as Venezuela. One wonders if Venezuela’s massive oil wealth influenced this cartographic aberration.

When I look at the map of the North American Technate (shown in the background in the above photo), I always wonder if petroleum engineers with American citizenship will have a far too dominant influence. In a transition from a price-based to an energy-based economy, I wonder if corporate loyalty to wealthy oil companies will have an undue influence on these individuals, and their scientific reasoning.

The second problem this map brings forward is the assignment of energy costs. Take the cost of transporting perishable foods to Nunavut, and other remote areas. These are normally air-freighted in. Who will bear the energy costs? Will it be only those living in the north, or will these costs be distributed over the entire Technate? In searching Technology literature, I have not found any answers.

In a Scandinavian context, people have often been encouraged to buy locally produced foods. This meets considerable opposition. Take tomatoes. In Scandinavia the only practical way to grow tomatoes is in greenhouses. This is increasingly the way they are grown in other places, in more southerly locations. The main difference between two such places is the heating costs which, in the north, far exceed transportation costs.

At one time, I was a proponent of multispecies grazing, at least theoretically, since I have no practical knowledge of farming. This involves grazing two or even three species of livestock together on pasture land, typically sheep, cattle and goats. A diverse range of plant species encourages a diversification of grazing animals. Cattle prefer taller, coarse grasses, sheep prefer shorter species (including grasses), while goats browse woodier species. Because species’ preferences vary, multispecies grazing can work without negatively impacting animal performance or plant sustainability.

However, what I note is that local farmers do not even attempt to engage in multispecies grazing. Part of the reason can be the excessive cost of providing shelter (read: barns) for animals, which are specific to each species. In addition, it is cheaper to import feed from South America, and other distant places, than to encourage animals to use existing pasture land.

Hannah Fairfield wrote When Carbon Is Currency which appeared in the New York Times on 2007-06-06. The article reflects back on 2003, when George E. Pataki, then New York’s governor, invited governors of 10 other states from Maine to Maryland to discuss a program to cut power plant emissions. All but one of the states joined the program; Pennsylvania has observer status.

The article looks at the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, over the course of three years. The program sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that the 10 states — as a whole — can emit. Starting in 2009, each state will receive a set amount of carbon credits for its power plants, and each plant must have enough allowances to cover its total emissions at the end of three-year compliance periods.

Officials have closely watched the European Union, which started its carbon trading market in 2005. To build a carbon market, its originators must create a currency of carbon credits that participants can trade. In Europe, power companies received these credits directly and could buy or sell from one another as needed. But most companies passed the cost of the credits on to consumers even though they received them free, giving the companies windfall profits.

Participants in the United States want to avoid that problem by selling some or all of the credits at auction, with the proceeds going to state energy efficiency programs. In Europe, energy credits have been complex because of the many businesses wanting to earn offset credits. To avoid this complexity in the north-east, the program limits offsets to five categories: capture of landfill gas, curbs on sulfur hexafluoride leaks, planting of trees, reductions in methane from manure, and increased energy efficiency in buildings. Power companies can offset 3.3 percent of a plant’s total emissions from any combination of the five categories.

In discussing Carbon Currency, Technocracy often positions itself as the originator of the idea, equating it with Technocracy’s Energy Certificates (ECs). These ECs originally applied at the Technate = continental level, where they acted as an exchange mechanism. While there was discussion about a more equitable distribution of energy, there was no discussion about the consequences of CO2 emissions.

When I read this article, I discovered that New York State was one of only two jurisdictions to use a 20-year time horizon to account for the damaging effects of planet-warming gasses. Others use 100 years.

Fast forward to 2021, and New York has a new governor, Kathy Hochul (1958 – ), who wants to take less aggressive action to slash greenhouse gasses. According to her, New York’s law was the most ambitious statutory mandate requiring emissions reductions when it passed in 2019. It required emissions to be reduced by 40 % from 1990 levels by 2030 and by 85 % by 2040, with the remainder offset. It also requires zero-emissions electricity by 2050.

This legislation makes methane = the main component of natural gas, more potent than under the longer accounting timeline. Some say the shorter timeline more accurately reflects the short-term warming impact of greenhouse gasses, and the urgency around reducing emissions.

The latest U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned global action is not happening quickly enough to avert some of the most damaging potential effects of a warming planet.

New York is unique in using three factors that increase the emissions that have to be reduced: the 20-year metric, out-of-state upstream emissions from imported fuels and biogenic emissions from burning fuels like wood and ethanol.

I have an appreciation of all three measures, but will comment only on one. My irritation is sparked by Inderøy municipality allowing a wood burning heat distribution centre to be built in its most densely populated area. They did not even bother to examine the PM2.5 levels, arguing that wood is a natural product, and that burning it is, somehow, natural.

A photo showing a Technocracy car in gray, with red detailing. I remember these vehicles from my childhood. Location: looks like somewhere near San Francisco. Date: unknown. Photographer: unknown

Howard Scott quotations

In the original publication of this post there was a quotations allegedly by Howard Scott cited. However, it is difficult to vouch for its authenticity. Thus, it has been removed. All of the following quotations below have been found in Wikiquote, with sources provided.

We owe nothing in our origins from Adam Smith, Ricardo, Pareto, Proudhon, Bakunin, Karl Marx, Lenin, or any of the rest of the political philosophies. We do owe a debt to J. Willard Gibbs, Nikola Tesla, Steinmetz, Mac and John Rusk, and a thousand other American chemists, engineers, scientists, and technologists. Howard Scott interviewed at Radio station KYW, 1964-11-19.

A number of engineers became so-called disciples of Frederick W. Taylor, even though he had passed on to his reward in 1915. A considerable number of engineers took up the so-called scientific management of Frederick Taylor and further embroidered it and publicized themselves as efficiency engineers and management consultants. Henry L. Gantt had been Taylor's assistant at the Midvale Steel and the Bethlehem Steel Company. Gant, Morris L. Cook, Leffingwell, Emerson, H. K. Hathaway, Frank B. Gilbreth, Harlow S. Person and C.G. Barth were among the many prominent advocates of Taylor's efficiency system with some variations. Howard Scott, History and Purpose of Technocracy in Northwest Technocrat (1965-07) p.7

Gant, Barth and others tried to start an organization, ' 'The New Machine." ' 'The New Machine" never got off the ground; all of them wrote articles and delivered papers in the engineering societies and management conferences. But their chief purpose was in creating a national image so they could sell their services to large-scale private enterprise as scientific managers and efficiency engineers who would be able to install the system that could extract more productivity from the American worker.
Howard Scott, "History and Purpose of Technocracy" in Northwest Technocrat (1965-07) p. 7

We never had any use for Taylor or any of the efficiency or scientific management crowd. They never realized that human toil was the last thing in the world you had to be efficient about; the only way to be really efficient is to eliminate it entirely, and this would have been heresy to any of the Taylor, Gant, Barth, Cook efficiency crowd.

It is sad to contemplate that men of the technical ability of the names mentioned in this paragraph were so lame in their thinking and social outlook that they missed the boat so completely. Who in hell wants to be efficient with a shovel, and what sense would there be even if you succeeded? They should have had their heads opened with a shovel; it might have been more effective. Howard Scott, "History and Purpose of Technocracy" in Northwest Technocrat (1965-07) pp.7-8

The technological concepts of Technocracy are completely beyond any of the political and social philosophies, from Adam Smith, Ricardo, Proudhon, Bakunin, Karl Marx, Lenin and various other promulgators of rightist and leftist political philosophies. Howard Scott, "History and Purpose of Technocracy" in Northwest Technocrat (1965-07) p. 23

Quotes about Howard Scott

Technocracy originated in the winter of 1918-19 when Howard Scott formed a group of scientists, engineers, and economists that became known as the Technical Alliance--a research organization. Howard Scott was chief engineer of this group. The Alliance lasted about fourteen years. Its membership embraced many of America's top scientists and engineers, including such personalities as: Frederick Ackerman, architect; Leland Olds, statistician; Thorstein Veblen, economist; L. K. Comstock, electrical engineer, and Charles Steinmetz. It conducted what became known as the famous 'Energy Survey of North America.' Out of the survey, and under the guiding genius of Howard Scott, there emerged a completely new way of looking at life and human affairs. The social assets and liabilities (in a physical sense) of North America were laid bare for the first time. The social trends and tendencies were analyzed scientifically and for the first time in history a continental area (North America) had a glimpse of its future, or at least of the broad alternatives.Technocrat (1976), Nr. 257-271

The technocrats made a believable case for a kind of technological utopia, but their asking price was too high. The idea of political democracy still represented a stronger ideal than technological elitism. In the end, critics believed that the socially desirable goals that technology made possible could be achieved without the sacrifice of existing institutions and values and without incurring the apocalypse that technocracy predicted. William E. Aikin, Technocracy and the American Dream: The Technocracy Movement 1900-1941, University of California Press (1977), p. 150.

Technocracy's heyday lasted only from June 16, 1932, when the New York Times became the first influential press organ to report its activities, until January 13, 1933, when Scott, attempting to silence his critics, delivered what some critics called a confusing, and uninspiring address on a well-publicized nationwide radio hookup.Howard P. Segal, Technological Utopianism in American Culture, Syracuse University Press(2005), p. 123.


This post has been in development since about 2010, as anyone can see from the numerous quotations dated immediately prior to this year. The topic has been messy to work with, mainly because content would disappear from sites, and only sometimes reappear on other sites. With hindsight, I note that I should have made copies of all of the content. I didn’t, and my time machine has been ineffective in bringing me back to prior events.

Originally, there were two organizations representing Technocracy in North America: Technocracy, Inc., located for most of my life at 2475 Harksell Road, Ferndale, Washington, 98248. There were also American branches in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California. Earlier, there were other branches, particularly along the American east coast. However, these had been disbanded by the time I took an interest. Thus, it always appeared to me as a left-coast phenomenon. Currently, the head office appears to be located in a post office box, at Huntington Beach, California. It’s website can be found at to which redirects.

A sister organization in Canada, had its head offices in Vancouver, British Columbia, about 70 km north-west of Ferndale. I remember Technocracy from my childhood, especially when taking the Pacific Stage Lines bus from New Westminster to downtown Vancouver along Kingsway. Just after crossing the boundary from Burnaby into Vancouver, on the south (odd-numbered) side of the 3700-block Kingsway, one encountered a large monad (yin-yang) sign in red and grey, proclaiming Technocracy’s Canadian headquarters. That block was redeveloped in 1976, when the Telus boot, was built. This boot was an unusually shaped office tower that, for a period, became the head office of Telus, previously known as the British Columbia telephone company.

Other signs of Technocracy’s presence in Vancouver were its grey cars, with red detailing. Presumably, these were privately owned vehicles. However, they were marked with an identification number. Section numbers were important in Technocracy. Most began with 123. The section number for Vancouver was 12349, which combined longitude 123 West with latitude 49 North. Portland used 12342.

At some point the Canadian headquarters moved to 2946 272nd Street, Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada V4W 3R4. This is about 40 km away from Ferndale, navigating the border at Blaine, Washington/ Douglas, British Columbia. The direct line distance is only about 20 km. At one time, the Vancouver Technocracy website could be found at: It no longer exists.

Publication of this weblog post has been postponed numerous times, most recently from 2023-03-11 at 12:00 to 2024-03-09 at 12:00. After this last postponement, I told myself that if this post needed to be postponed further, it would never be published!

Banking in Norway

Minibank. Torggata in Oslo, 2017-01-08 At the top is a screen. When a card in inserted in the reader below the screen, to the right, and a correct pincode is inserted using the keypad, in the centre, a list of choices will appear on the screen. Select one of these by pressing a button, and follow the online instructions. Cash will appear at the bottom. A receipt will be printed and appear on the left side. Remember to take your card, when you are finished. Image: Kjetil Ree

This weblog post came about because of an email from my bank. They told me that I could not expect to have my Mastercard renewed, unless I used it. So, the next time I went shopping at my local hardware store, I took out my Mastercard, told the cashier – a person I have known for over 35 years – that I was uncertain if the pin code would work, then proceeded to buy a manageable sum of necessities, with the card. It worked. The cashier told me that his wife had also had to use her Mastercard, for the same reason.

This weblog post looks at our banking and related experiences in Norway, with a few additional comments about banking in Canada, over the past forty years. I have had to consult with Trish to see if she remembers the same details as I do. This has resulted in some changes, hopefully corrections.

When we first arrived in Molde, Norway in 1980, we opened a bank account at the first bank we encountered, Forretningsbanken = The Business Bank, located beside the bus station. There was no major problems opening an account, and we were able to deposit our savings, and withdraw them as required. We experienced it as very similar to a Canadian bank. One difference was the lack of orderly queues, one would find in Canada. People would hang around, possibly chatting to friends. Yet, everyone would know their position in this most casual of queues and wait for their opening to approach a teller. Most often, we would take cash out from our account, then visit the stores to buy our groceries or other necessities, paying for them in cash.

In these early years, everything looked expensive. We would typically visit each of the five grocery stores in downtown Molde, starting at the eastern side of town, then work our way westwards, when we reached the co-op at the western end, we would buy everything on our shopping list at the store where they were cheapest, ending up at the eastern most store at the eastern end of the bus terminal. We would then take our bus home.

As students, we were allowed to work part-time during the school year, and full-time in the summer. Our earnings were automatically deposited into our bank account. This is required procedure. All employers are required by law to deposit all wages into a bank account. Cash payments are not allowed. We also acquired cheques/ checks for other payments, but realized that the preferred method of payment was to giro funds. Soon, we opened a savings account at the local post office. It was a bit more complex, but manageable, and had a better giro system.

After our first summer of working at the local slaughterhouse, we had saved up enough money to buy our first luxury purchase, a radio. We started work at 8:00, and finished at 15:30, then walked to the centre of Molde, arriving at about 16:00. By that time, all of the specialty stores had closed. Only the grocery stores remained open, until 16:30. Thus, we decided to take a trip to downtown Molde on a saturday. We were disappointed because, during the summer, the store (singular) selling radios was only open monday to friday.

At one point we had visitors from America. They had come with an American Express card, intending to use it to pay for everything. This was not yet an acceptable payment method in Norway. The closest place that would accept their card was in Åndalnes, 57 km from Molde. They had to take a bus to get there and back, using a day in the process.

When we moved north to Bodø in 1985, we were a bit more selective about where we opened a bank account. Now, we had full-time employment and money was coming into our account every month. Money was also flowing out of our account, in the form of rental payments for our accommodation. We also had to withdraw cash to make smaller payments, for groceries, and other expenditures. Larger payments, such as rents involved use of giros.

Soon, we experienced a major change. We were issued Visa debit cards. The fun part was that we (and everyone else in Norway) were paid to use the cards. This lasted for up to several months! Stores started to accept cards for payment. Soon, human tellers were less often used, replaced by minibanks, the Norwegian word for automatic telling machines (ATMs), found at the entrance of most banks. This became the new norm of how we obtained cash. Yes, minibanks appeared in Norway at four banks in Oslo in 1970, but they differed considerably from those used later. ATMs that relied on bank cards and pin numbers first appeared in 1978.

The next step in our integration into Norway came in 1986. We talked to a loans’ officer and asked to borrow most of the money needed to buy a new car. Obviously, the person had done some homework. It took us about five minutes to secure the loan, which was for about NOK 100 000, or six months wages for one person, at the time. The money was deposited into our account on the agreed date, and we were able to pay for our new 4WD Subaru Justy, some days later.

The car loan was not paid off before we made our last move, to Inderøy, in 1988. So we had to find a new way of making a loan payment. It was not difficult. We just had to giro the money. In Inderøy we opened savings and chequing accounts at the local Savings Bank. This bank later became part of a larger, regional bank. At the end of 1990, we arranged for a mortgage on a house. Once again, there was no problem borrowing the money. The house was mortgaged, with the bank holding the house as collateral, we made a substantial down payment, and we were both employed, with regular income. The mortgage also came with life insurance, so that if one of us should die, the principal would be paid off, automatically, and the survivor would be debt free. This loan was paid off in about seven years, although the amount of interest paid was almost equal to the principal. The interest rates were about 14.5% at the time. That was the down side. The up side was that housing prices were exceptionally low. We still live in the same house.

At one time, the banks were encouraging people to invest in funds. Their financial experts would, for a fee, find the most suitable stocks to invest in, and we would have equity based on their competence. We decided to try it, with a minimum investment. After a couple of years, almost all value was lost. We stopped the experiment. A few years later, people were allowed to save a portion of their income each year, tax free, and to withdraw it and pay taxes on it, over a ten year period, after retirement. With the amount I have saved this increases my pension by 2 – 3 % a month. I think this pension ends when I turn 77. Should I die before then, the residual is turned over to my estate.

Perhaps the greatest irritation with using the banking system in Norway has been the need to provide identification to the banks. We identify ourselves whenever we open an account, but the bank fails to record it, so some years later we have to go through the identification process again. They claim this is to prevent money laundering. I am certain that anyone seriously involved in illegal banking activities has all of their papers in order, so that it is only innocent people that have to ride this identification treadmill. This last happened to us in 2021. We had to drive to a place we do not otherwise visit, find a parking space, walk to the outer door of the office, contact the person we wanted to meet by phone, wait for that person to let us into the office, present our ID, wait for it to be photocopied, recover it, then leave.

For several years, we had a safety deposit box at the bank to hold our valuable possessions. However, when the local bank moved to a new and smaller location, those boxes became unavailable. The solution was to buy a safe. It is mainly used to hold documents, such as birth certificates and passports. Sorry, there is no money, gold or diamonds in it!

For the past several years, we have not used cash. I remember one trip to Sweden where we attempted to buy lunch. The person running the eatery told us he didn’t have a card reader, but gave us direction to a bank where we could withdraw funds. We thanked him for the information, and cancelled our order. We were not going to contribute to criminal activity. Any legitimate company can buy or rent a card reader. It is one of the costs of doing business.

Originally, I dated the end of cash in Norway to the value-transport guards’ strike that lasted 78 days from 2020-09-16 to 2020-12-03. This resulted in the banks being unable to fill their minibanks. Inderøy had a empty/ non-functioning minibank for approximately five weeks. In addition, merchants could not use the night-deposit system. At the local grocery stores, it has always been possible to add an additional amount to one’s card payment and receive cash back, but I don’t think this worked optimally during the strike.

Then I had to reconsider my prophecy. Just before Constitution Day, 2022-05-17, card terminals throughout Norway became inoperative for hours. Then, on 2022-09-02, Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl announced a need to clarify the rules and strengthen the consumer’s right to cash payment, with companies having to make provision for cash payments during emergencies, including internet and electrical outages. Customers in Norway will have the right to pay with cash in all fixed business premises where traders sell goods and services to the public. That includes all shops, restaurants and service providers in Norway, but excludes pop-up shops, food trucks and similar operations.

If anyone is expecting Norwegians to use an armoured vehicle to transport cash, they will be disappointed. I think the vehicles are just ordinary vans, that have a safe-like structure bolted in. If there is an attempt to break in, bills will be stained with a red dye, making them unusable. Armed guards? Sorry! Not even the police are armed, although they have sealed weapons locked away in their patrol cars, should they be needed. However, they must obtain permission to unseal them. There was an experiment some years ago, where the police were armed, but there were just too many incidents where the police injured/ shot themselves.

For people interested in bank robberies, Norway’s most famous and largest robbery happened on 2004-04-05, at the NOKAS = Norsk kantantservice AS = Norwegian Cash Service Limited, depot in Stavanger. Thirteen perpetrators escaped with 57.4 million kroner = US$ 10 million, in Norwegian and foreign currencies, making it Norway’s largest-ever robbery. NOK 51 million has still not been recovered. One police officer was killed in the incident. All of the perpetrators received prison sentences totaling 208 years in prison, the longest one being 21 years.

Store hours in Norway in 2024, are very different from 1980. Our co-op now opens at 7:00 in the morning, and closes at 23:00 at night. In general, stores are closed on sundays. This does not apply for energy stations (the new name for gas stations, because they often include high-speed DC EV chargers) and their kiosks, and grocery stores, which can have an area up to 100 m2 open. We no longer have post offices. These have been replaced by post in the store centres, which are open the same hours as their host stores. For us, this is at the co-op. These provide all the same services that were once provided by post office.

Despite the experience of the Americans with their American Express card in the 1980s, times have changed. When we travel abroad we rely on our bank cards, Mastercard and Visa. They work in Canada, USA and throughout the EU (including Sweden), and Norway (a country that is not in the EU). We always purchase in the local currency, allowing our own bank to profit from the difference in exchange rates. Our bank assures us that they are cheaper than anyone else. We never withdraw cash at airports. When asked, typically in the US, if I want to pay in Norwegian crowns, I deliberately stare as deeply as possible into the eyes of the questioner. If they don’t look contrite enough I will ask them: What sort of fool do you take me for? Then I will tell them: Just take it out in American funds. I then check my receipt, without moving so that the person cannot assist the next person in the queue, until I am satisfied. Norwegian airports have billboards everywhere advising everyone to pay in local funds.

I think we have 3 x NOK 10 coins in cash, stored in Buzz, our car. We only need one, but sometimes people forget, and keep a coin or two in their pockets. One of these is used to feed a buggy at the shopping centre in Steinkjer, about 35 km north of our house. When we return the buggy, we get the coin back. Otherwise there is no need for cash.

The latest transformation has been Vipps, which is an online payment method on our handheld devices = Asus Zenfone 9 smartphones. We use this to buy eggs at a local farm, to pay for coffee at the small shopping centre in Straumen, the capital of Inderøy. I have even used it to buy a CNC machine from another person. There are any number of worthy causes that attempt to collect money during the year. Even they have had to give up collecting cash. Now, the only thing they do is go around to houses giving out pieces of paper with their Vipps number. Not everyone wants to use Vipps. The local farm where we buy milk has a card reader, and prefers us to use a bank card.

We have not entered a bank for years, because everything is done online. Just before the start of 2018, we, and almost everyone else in our neighbourhood, had a fibre optic cable installed to the house. This improved the speed and reliability of the internet. While we also have WiFi, many of the machines are connected with Ethernet cables. My accountant (Trish) regularly uses bank transfers to pay any invoices. This is usually done using a computer, with a screen large enough to read the fine print! I also make some regular payments internationally using Paypal, from a computer, with an even bigger screen, making the print almost as legible.

Keyboard propaganda. We feel comfortable using most computers, since both of us studied computer science from the mid 1970s, and had to put up with non-ergonomic keyboards, as students. From my perspective, the key to the successful use of multiple computers, is to use keyboards with the same feel, especially having the laptop and desktop keyboards match each other. While we both use Acer Swift 3 laptops with ISO nordic keyboards, Trish’s Logitech MX keys mini ISO nordic keyboard for her desktop machine is better matched than my desktop keyboard, a Logitech K860 Ergo. In terms of desktop keyboards, I have a lifetime supply (= 5), including a similar MX keys mini ISO nordic keyboard, for use when the current one wears out, possibly as early as 2030.

Increasingly, I prefer to buy things online. When we buy something from an online store, there are usually a number of payment options, including credit cards (Mastercard) or debit cards (Visa) or Vipps or, heaven forbid, delaying payment for six months, but having to pay interest. Increasingly, I use Vipps, because it eliminates a number of steps in the purchasing process. Vipps knows where I live, and any purchased goods are sent there, unless I specify something different. The amount of the purchase is not deducted from my account, until the goods are sent.

A red Maxus EV delivery van from the Norwegian post office. The sign on the side of the van reads, Nobody knows Norway better. In the background are two Pakkeboks, that hold goods of assorted sizes, awaiting pickup by customers.

Depending on what we purchase online, there are several ways in which the product can be delivered. Posten and Bring, owned by the Norwegian post office, PostNord, owned by the Danish and Swedish post offices, and a service delivering paper newspapers, run by Schibsted ASA, a Norwegian media company. Most small packages, such as books, are delivered to our postbox. Larger, heavier materials can be delivered to our front door, or picked up at our local co-op. The third option is to have the product delivered to a Pakkeboks = Package box, located outside a store (see above photo). A box can only be opened by customer’s smartphone, when the customer is beside the Pakkeboks. In 2023, we encountered similar boxes in Iceland.

So far there has not been much mention of cheques. That is because, they have not been used in Norway since 1992! We do have cheques for our Canadian chequing account, but it always feels unsafe to use them. If people want us to transfer money to them, we ask them to provide us with an account number so that we can transfer the money directly.

Wikipedia tells us: In Norway, credit scoring services are provided by three credit scoring agencies: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Lindorff Decision. Credit scoring is based on publicly available information such as demographic data, tax returns, taxable income and any Betalingsanmerkning (non-payment records) that might be registered on the credit-scored individual. Upon being scored, an individual will receive a notice (written or by e-mail) from the scoring agency stating who performed the credit score as well as any information provided in the score. In addition, many credit institutions use custom scorecards based on any number of parameters. Credit scores range between 300 and 999.

Orthography = a set of conventions for writing a language, including: spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word boundaries, emphasis and punctuation. Yes, I have been influenced by over 40 years of living in Norway. Despite knowing (Canadian) English conventions, at least as they existed in 1980, I choose to subvert some of them. One of my more recent changes is a refusal to use capital letters when writing the names of weekdays and months. My spelling mostly follows British English, with a few American quirks added.