It is interesting to consider the operation and development
of an organism in mathematical terms. ERoEI (Energy Return/Energy Invested) is
a mathematical expression that is in common use in discussions of such issues
as the supply of oil. It is simplistic , so misleading, as it is dealing only
with the rate of using energy embedded
in the system extracting and supplying the oil: the EI term together
with the rate of energy supply: the ER term. It is an expression of the oil
supply situation at some, unidentified stage. The numbers will change with
developments. ERoEI was a very high value in many oilfields, including the
Middle East. However, it is now so low where fracking is used that the process
is hardly worthwhile.

ERoEI is a measure of the oil extraction process used by
many commentators despite its unrealistic consideration of energy alone and the
assumption that the energy input, the chemical energy in the oil is free. There
for it is only a limited measure of the energy cost of the process as
represented by EI compared to the energy output, ER. It does not take into
account the materials irreversibly used in the process. In addition, it is only
a measure of the operation of energy provision. The operation of industrialized
civilization entails many other processes. The manufacture of an airliner is
another operational process and this is subject to continual scrutiny by
specialists in the company without reference to a simplistic mathematical
expression such as ERoEI.

However, it is an aid to understanding of the operation and
development of an organic or inorganic organism to formulate a mathematical expression
that does represent what invariably happens. Materials (solids, liquids and/or
gaseous) are input into the organism at a rate that varies over time.

Processes in the organism carry out a range of activities
while transforming the rate of inputs that
then provide rates of (solid, gaseous and/or liquid) outputs. In
mathematical terms, the activities can be represented as functions of the rates
of the inputs. The rates of the outputs can be represented as functions of the activities. These functions
continually change over time. That is the development of the organism. The
functions can be mathematical expressions that approximate what happens to a
degree. Often what happens is fuzzy so the approximations are not very good.

However, the principles outlined here about the relation
between the operation and associated development of organic and inorganic
organisms are sound even though most people do not understand that they always
apply in natural and technological physical operations. Economists certainly do not because they
believe money flow is the determining factor.
Medical people do understand many of the aspects of operation and
development while all people have some knowledge of how their bodies behave
over time. Engineers have understanding of the operation of machines and
appreciate the development that these machines will wear out (due to friction).
Biologists and botanists understand this coupling of processes in their fields
without needing to use mathematical models. On the other hand, climatologists
strive to produce mathematical models that mirror operations of the climate in
the endeavour to predict developments under the input of greenhouse gases.
Geologists aim to gain understanding of the vast forces acting underground that
have over time affected developments such as mountain ranges. These are some
examples of where specialists have understanding of operations and developments.
But society at large, and the leaders in particular, do not take the holistic
consequences of these principles into due account. Yet they do understand that
they cannot be immortal.