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Cheese Slicer

By Billy Schoenberg
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The Cheese Slicer as it has been called, was first developed by Charles Hall, Robert Powers and William Schoenberg in their 2008 paper "Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems Benefits and Risks". This datavisualization shows how it is energy that powers the US economy and how the output of the US economy has been allocated to 5 aggregate "sectors" of the economy, including 1 sector based which is investments into getting new energy.

  1. Necessary Consumption: This is the percentage of GDP allocated to the basics needed for survival, Food Shelter and Clothing. In this case Necessary is analogous to the amount it would take to support a family of 4 at the poverty line. The arrow flows out and down because it does not directly re-enter the economy to be re-invested in the coming years
  2. Discretionary Consumption: This is defined as Consumption (published by the BEA) minus Necessary Consumption. This arrow flows out, away from the economy because it is not re-invested.
  3. Energy Investment: This is defined as the monetary return on investment on all energy sources for the US economy, This "sector" is very much based upon the concept of EROI, except rather then Energy Returned on Energy Investment it is the money spent on energy to get energy. This is why this investment does not flow back into the economy but rather into the workgate that controls the flow of energy into the economy.
  4. Maintenance Metabolism: This is the portion of investment that is used to maintain the economy. This output is allocated to fixing roads, bridges, schools etc. This does not include new capital investments, just the maintenance of old capital.
  5. Discretionary Investment: This is Investment (published by the BEA) minus the above two investments. You can think of this as resort hotels, second homes, luxury homes, etc.

About the author

I am one of the developers at Forio. I spend a lot of time working on the UI designer and the Model Explorer. I also do work as a consultant building SD models.