Transport vesicles equipped with maps and timepieces travel along technological arteries to arrive at specific locations at specific times to engage in metabolic activity. By pre-planning humans take the chaos out of metabolism.
The metabolic activity that occurs within System I, the cellular ecosystem, occurs at a scale in which electromagnetic attraction and thermal motion are prevalent. The metabolic activity that occurs within System II, the technological “economy” occurs at a scale where neither thermal motion, random collision or electromagnetic forces produce the necessary interactions, adhesion and transformations. You could argue that the combustion of the internal combustion engine has taken the molecular level kinetic energy and transformed it into an orderly movement of pistons and crankshaft at the technological level. What constitutes technological metabolism however is the use of massive-sized tools for the fabrication and exchange of various products and commodities where separation in space and time must be overcome. The amount of energy needed to randomly move things around until they fit together at the technological scale would be tremendous and destructive. For instance, into a large vessel place all of the parts of a car, apply energy until all parts are airborne and circulating at 600 miles per hour. How long will it take the car to self-assemble? It won’t happen, the parts will be smashed apart upon collision, the amount of kinetic energy necessary to temporarily overcome gravity also imparts destructive force. Vehicles overcome inertia and gravity mostly with the help of fossil fuel energy, but they don’t circulate randomly, but rather proceed in an orderly manner until some malfunction creates a crash and damage.
Instead of relying upon random collision and thermal motion we have developed several tools to facilitate assembly. The foundation of our “economic” success is not in the designs of our tools and products but in the evolution of our brains to map, remember and label various items in our environments. Everyone has studied maps and globes covered with various boundaries, delineations and names. Then perhaps one has studied more detailed maps of states and provinces and one undoubtedly has a mental map of ones hometown. Spatially, the delivery of some product or resource is done within the mental maps of our brains before the actual delivery is made. As a facilitative RNA we may wrap a package, apply an address, take it to the post office and send it on it’s way. Each cell in the country has a very specific tag, label or address such as 400 Washington St. Because of these mental maps and now GPS and computer maps, things can meet up precisely where and when they’re needed. The cells within organisms, equivalent to factories, do not need specific individual addresses that exist at the human scale but rather various receptors and tags or tissue specific.
Within organisms, molecules are moved within the plasma of the blood and within red blood cells for distribution to cells throughout the body. However, in technological society there is no motive force, like a heart to move materials and no diffusion. To accomplish the metabolic exchanges something different must be utilized. The human RNA working in their cellular factories are energized by fats, carbohydrates and proteins taken from the ecosystem, but the technological part of the equation cannot be moved by energy taken from the environment except in the case of a few biofuels that are insufficient in quantity and the use of which competes with human usage. The movement of technological materials relies upon fossil fuels to put in motion the cars, planes, trains, subways, trucks, tractors and so on. Every motion, whether it be the beating of ones heart, the spinning of a lathe or the miles driven in a car must be paid for energetically.
The moon used to be an adequate time-keeper during times of proto-metabolism and trading. Modern technological metabolism needed something more precise like the watch shown above. Don’t be late to school kids, this society runs like clockwork.
Not only must materials meet in space but they must also arrive at the proper time. We’ve developed the concept of time and time tools such as watches, calendars and clocks to make sure that Part A and Part B meet at the right place at the right time to be fastened together with bolts, screws, glues, wires, tape or whatever is specified since the electromagnetic stickiness of molecules doesn’t work at our scale. Man’s brain has evolved to map space and time and we’ve overcome the problems of assembly with various fastening innovations. The primary problem we now face is the potential drop-off in available energy (oil, coal, natural gas) that supplies the kinetic energy for the economy. Without that energy, the velocity and vitality of our economy may come to resemble that of a corpse, stationary and decaying. But even if another source of motive energy were found, the current trajectory of expansion and growth would be self-defeating, just as a cancer, ebullient in its new found powers of growth eventually destroys itself.
Today, with parts made all over the globe, any interruption in the transportation fuel system would result in a failure to meet the space and time tests for effective metabolism for lack of technological substrates or enzymes (raw materials, parts, tools). Many organisms have a substantial stockpile of adipose tissue to maintain movement and metabolism when the environment does not provide energy. This also comes at a cost, but evolution has determined that the benefits outweigh the costs. Human factories may also be well-advised to maintain a stock of parts, but if their customers in some other cell has not done they same, the product that can be produced will not be produced because customers on down the line have been disabled. At what point does metabolism just stop and the vesicles of digestive enzymes burst into the cytoplasm? At what point does metabolism stop in the industrial society and nuclear plant toxins escape their containment? A cancer doesn’t think of such things, but only concentrates upon growth.