There is no wealth but life.
The second law of thermodynamics is fine – it sets some boundaries, but nothing really significant at this stage in our evolution.
The amount of energy released from the sun is so many orders of magnitude higher than humanity currently uses, that the law is essentially irrelevant at this time.
It seems to me that we need to take a step back and look at economics.
Economics is defined as:
“the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.”
The term money and markets is not mentioned there.
Somewhere in the education systems of our planet this has been forgotten, and economics has come to be equated with money and markets.
I contend that there is ample energy and matter available for all human beings to have a level of abundance available only to the most rich at present (and beyond); and there are some real limits imposed by the particular technologies we choose to use. All technologies are density dependent poisons.
The key to such abundance is automation.
The complete automation of the entire production, distribution, and maintenance systems of all key requirements of humanity.
For the first time in our history this is now a real possibility.
The Google “self driving car” is a solid example of the levels of planning and replanning and localisation that can be achieved with modern systems.
I contend, that if we as a species limit ourselves to thinking within the current “economic box” of money and markets, then the fundamental incentive structure present in all markets will force us into an unstable and dangerous future (as John has many times correctly identified).
I contend that it is only by stepping beyond the concepts of money and markets, and generating abundance and freedom for all, at the most fundamental levels and all the way up from there, that we can create a sense of justice that will provide the security that we all seek.
How we manage the transition will be a little interesting, and in another sense is essentially irrelevant.
That we commit to making the transition is all that really matters.
From there our natural creativity will find a way.