Energy limits: Is there anything we can do?

The energy limit we are running into is a cost limit. I would argue that neither the Republican or Democrat approach to solving the problem will really work.

The Republicans favor “Drill Baby Drill”. If the issue is that the price of oil extraction is too high, additional drilling doesn’t really fix the problem. At best, it gives us a little more expensive oil to add to the world’s supply. The Wall Street research firm Sanford Bernstein recently estimated that the non-Opec marginal cost of production rose to $104.50 a barrel in 2012, up more than 13 per cent from $92.30 a barrel in 2011.

US consumers still cannot afford to buy high-priced oil, even if we extract the oil ourselves. The countries that see rising oil consumption tend to be ones that can leverage its use better with cheaper fuels, particularly coal (Figure 1). See Why coal consumption keeps rising; what economists missed. The recent reduction in US oil usage is more related to young people not being able to afford to drive than it is to improved automobile efficiency. See my post, Why is gasoline mileage lower? Better gasoline mileage?

Figure 1. Oil consumption by part of the world, based on EIA data. 2012 world consumption data estimated based on world "all liquids" production amounts.

Figure 1. Oil consumption by part of the world, based on EIA data. 2012 world consumption data estimated based on world “all liquids” production amounts.

The Democrats favor subsidizing high-priced energy approaches that wouldn’t be competitive without such subsidies. Government debt is at 103% of GDP. It is hard to see that the government can afford such subsidies. Also, it is doubtful that the supposed carbon-saving benefit is really there, when all of the follow-on effects are included. Buying wind turbine parts, solar panels, and goods that use rare earth minerals (used in many high-tech goods, including electric cars and  wind turbines) helps to stimulate the Chinese economy, adding to their coal use. Furthermore, the higher taxes needed to pay for these subsidies reduces the spendable income of the common worker, pushing the country in the direction of recession.

So what do we do as an alternative, if neither the Republican or Democrat approach works? I would argue that we are dealing with a situation that is essentially unfixable. It can be expected to morph into a financial crash, for reasons I explained in How Resource Limits Lead to Financial Collapse. Thus, the issue we will need to mitigate will be debt defaults, loss of jobs, and possibly major changes to governments. If we are dealing with a financial crash, oil prices may in fact be lower, but people will still be unable to afford the oil because of other issues, such as lack of jobs or lack of access to money in their bank accounts.

Because neither political party can fix our problem, I expect that most of our responses will necessarily be individual, personal responses. These are a few ideas:

1. Get out of debt situations, if it is easy to do. There are a lot of people who own stocks on margin, or who own an expensive house with a big mortgage on it. Now, with prices of stocks and homes both higher, would be a good time to get out of both types of debt. Sell the stock or buy a less expensive house, without the mortgage.

Equities and home prices both seem to be inflated now, indirectly because of Quantitative Easing. Some recent analysis suggests that real (that is, inflation adjusted) interest rates are rising partly because inflation is falling.  The reason that inflation is falling is because oil prices are lower (Figure 2). Comparing the first four months of 2013 with the first four months of 2012, oil prices are about $9 per barrel lower. Oil prices are lower because of reduced demand due to economic contraction, especially in Europe.

Figure 2. Spot oil prices and actual refiners acquisition costs, based on EIA data.

Figure 2. Spot oil prices and actual refiners acquisition costs, based on EIA data. Refiners acquisition costs are what refiners actually pay for oil.

In the past month, there has also been an uptick in interest rates (even apart from the declining inflation component). According to the Wall Street Journal, “Yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note now stand above 2.1%—still low by historic standards, but nearly half a percentage point higher than at the start of May.” Mortgage rates are also reported to be half a percentage point higher than they were six months ago.

There are a number of risks with rising real interest rates and falling inflation. One is that the higher interest rates will trigger lower stock prices and lower house prices. Another is that deflation will continue, making debt payback more difficult. If this happens, it is something that the Fed can’t handle with its monetary easing policy. Interest rates can go to zero, but not below. A third issue, especially if interest rates rise further, is the adverse impact on the US government financial situation.

2. Reduce your expectations about what investments can do for you. Dmitry Orlov, who has had experience with the collapse of the Former Soviet Union, made the remark, “There are two kinds of investments: those that lose all their value at once, and those that lose value slowly.” Paper investments are a particular problem, because they can decline in value very quickly if conditions change. Even real estate can be a problem, though, because governments can take away what you thought you owned, or raise taxes to a level that you cannot afford. If you buy something and have to move, but cannot take the object with you, you will likely lose the value you invested. The only things that are really yours to keep (at least until your declining years) are skills that you learn.

3. Take up a hobby that will provide food for your family (planting a few fruit or nut trees, adding a garden, raising a few chickens, or learning to hunt/fish). Taking up hobbies such as these provide several functions: They provide a diversion away from the problems of the day, and let you feel like you are doing something helpful. They may actually provide a cushioning effect, if there is a sharp downturn. Taking up such hobbies can provide a useful skill for the future. In some cases, it may make sense to purchase land for purposes such as these. If considering doing this, a person should take note of items (1) and (2) above. It takes quite a long time to get started, and you can’t take the improved land with you, if you have to leave.

4. Learn to appreciate nature, family, and simple joys that can’t easily be taken away. It is possible to be happy, regardless of circumstances. We can find many good things in every day. Obsessing over the future is not really helpful. Don’t tie your happiness to having more “stuff”; you are likely to be disappointed. Learn to sing happy songs, or how to play a musical instrument. Or memorize uplifting poetry or religious writings.

5. Build a network of friends. If things go downhill, we can’t expect to use a gun to ward off intruders, night and day. If nothing else, we will run out of ammunition. Over the long term, the approach that is likely to be successful is working together with other community members toward a common goal.

6. Learn new skills, if you are concerned about job loss. Try to think of what will be needed in a lower-energy world. People will always need dentists and midwives, regardless of how poor they are. Buggy whip manufacturers went out of business long ago. Maybe we will need them back!

7. If you want to develop larger-scale plans (such as for cities or regions), keep them cheap and easy to implement. Governments are already running short of funds to implement plans. Look for approaches that are inexpensive to put in place, such as car-sharing plans. Alternatives that worked years ago, such as boats and canals, might be considered as well.

8. Aim for a flexible approach to problems. We don’t know things will turn out. Water may be in very short supply in one part of the country. Or job opportunities may open up in a place far from home. Even more than in the past, we are likely to need to be able to change our plans on short notice.

This entry was posted in Planning for the Future and tagged , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.

444 thoughts on “Energy limits: Is there anything we can do?

  1. In earlier posts, I showed that sufficient material exists in tailing dumps to cover suitable roofs and parking lots in the US with PV. Using our Institute’s performance models, I estimated the power production of this resource. Using PassivHaus performance standards, I estimated the power consumption of US housing, once converted to PassivHaus standard.
    What follows is an analysis of one way to convert the US completely to a combination of PV/wind/Hydro/GeoThermal. The performance numbers shown for power resources come from our proprietary performance models, and are realistic. The demand numbers shown, are sourced from USDOE, USEIA, PassivHaus Institute, Bullit Foundation, Wikipedia, and others. They are realistic.
    This analysis is limited to provision of the requisite power, using off the shelf technologies, and to mitigation of demand, using off the shelf technologies. It does not consider costs, although our performance models, give us those figures, because that added complexity obscures the data.
    Regarding costs, and credit, and purchasing power, I recommend you visit Bill Mitchell’s blog, where you will find that no sovereign fiat currency issuer is revenue constrained, and most certainly the US is not. I agree that the franking privilege can be misused, take no position as to the merit of this proposal over another, and remind one and all that what follows, is for the purpose of establishing the feasibility of conversion, from an energy viewpoint.
    What follows, contains the following assumptions:
    1. All US housing is converted to PassivHaus Standard.
    2. All lighting nationwide is converted to LED
    3. All cooking is electric & refrigeration/aircon is of the holdover plate type, operating during the day.
    4. All computer systems and electronics are converted to super energy efficient ones.
    5. Each dwelling has one EV, which is used only on weekends for shopping/recreation trips, for a max of 100 miles, or one recharge
    6. All commuting is via walking/bicycling to the nearest public transport stop, thence by public transport to destination.
    7. All public transport is electric.
    8. All rail transport is electric.
    9. 95% of all freight movements are by rail
    10. The full GeoThermal potential of the US is realized
    11. The full Hydro potential of the US is realized, including conversion of existing dams to produce
    ____ electricity.
    12. The Grid is improved to the point power can be wheeled nationwide
    13. Each dwelling has 16 hours storage capacity
    14. All PV is grid connected.
    15. All suitable commercial roof space is occupied with PV
    16. Each dwelling has a solar hot water heating system
    17. Commercial energy efficiency is improved to half that of the Bullit Building in Seattle.
    18. Industrial energy consumption is halved via energy efficiency improvements.
    Power demand per dwelling (US)_______________4,636 kwh / yr
    Power demand all US housing____________________23 kwh/m2-yr
    Number of US houses___________________125,000,000
    Average US house size________________________ 200 m2
    Total US housing power demand_____________ 633,000 Gwh/yr
    Modeled PV capacity / dwelling___________________ 6 kwe/dwelling
    Total Dwelling PV supply_________________ 1,226,400 Gwh/yr
    Household EV power consumption_________________22 kwh/week-house
    Total EV power consumption________________ 142,000 Gwh/yr
    Surplus Dwelling Power Production__________ 462,000 Gwh/yr
    Number of US Commercial Buildings________ 4,500,000
    Bullit Center Demand X 2 (BCDx2)________ __ 350,000 BTU/m2-yr
    US Commercial BCDx2 Demand____________ 613,000 Gwh/yr
    US Commercial rooftop PV supply___________2,000,000 Gwh/yr
    US Commercial Energy Surplus_____________ 1,387,000 Gwh/yr
    US Rooftop PV Energy Surplus______________ 1,850,000 Gwh/yr
    US Rail Power Demand______________________182,000 Gwh/yr
    US Industrial Power Demand X 0.5___________ 3,517,000 Gwh/yr
    US power demand net after Rail & Industrial____1,850.000 Gwh/yr
    US Hydro energy production_________________ 282,000 Gwh/yr
    US GeoThermal potential production__________ 441,000 Gwh/yr
    US demand net after Hydro & GeoThermal____ 1,126,000 Gwh/yr
    Utility Scale US wind Potential_____________________14 Twe
    Utility Scale US wind Capacity Required____________0.41 Twe
    Utility Scale US wind Energy Required________ 1,126,000 Gwh/yr
    Number of 5 Mwe wind turbines Required_________ 83,000

    From the above, we can see that a combination of energy efficiency in dwellings, commercial, and industrial use, and maximization of rail transport, provides a solution.
    This solution requires installation of PV on all suitable roofs nation wide giving
    2 Twe of PV capacity, supplemented by 100 Gwe of Hydro, 100 Gwe of GeoThermal, and 413 Gwe of wind.
    This is not the only possible combination which provides a solution, but it is feasible, maximizing distributed production & consumption of power, eliminating transmission and conversion losses of ~ 15%.


    • Indy,

      Even without the computation of ERoEI*, one can be fairly certain that distributed PV on rooftops is a winner – provided only that the purveyors and installers and other ancillary stakeholders do not extract inordinate profits from or try to live an exorbitant life style at the expense of the technology. It would be best if the expertise were distributed among the consumers so that they could deal with the manufacturer and avoid every sort of salesman or promoter. For example, you wouldn’t buy a solar collector from a guy with a fancy title wearing a suit and holding a microphone, would you? 🙂

    • To Indy:

      A few months ago I flew to Dayton to spend a week with daughter and her children while her husband was away attending training. The woods and farms in southern Ohio have been converted over the last decades to low density sprawling suburb / exurb regions that resemble Southern California or Houston, but with more trees. Every house includes a quarter to half acre of park land. The result is transportation energy waste of the worst order. Each worker drives at least 20 miles per day commuting to work. C’est la vie for low density communities.
      Proclaiming that henceforth all residents are forbidden to drive except on Saturday or Sunday only, and for a total of X miles, will not only not solve any problem, it will create far worse ones. Such as the total collapse of economic activity. Or perhaps we can set up trains, buses and van commuter transport systems that link a myriad origins with a myriad destinations and can meet the schedules of all participants. That’s a little more complex than running some calculations about passengers per rail mile, and the reality such analyses provide would inevitably add significant cost to your ‘streamlined’ energy plan. Three times as costly? Five times? Twenty? Who knows until the studies are done.
      Cheers, CWJ

      • Chris that post on the drop in Japan may not have come through here is a paste in.

        NIKKEI 225 (^N225)

        12,598.06 Down 691.26(5.20%) 11:45PM ED

        • But isnt the Nikkei fall just a correction of the over inflated index over the past years? If you check the history of it, it was much lower around November 2012.

          • Hello, yes John, the Nikkei did run up very fast since the first of this year, so I guess it could be just a normal correction of something that ran up too fast. I am still watching Japan because they have been experimenting with QE for longer than any other central banks. Recently they were talking about cutting it back and we saw the big drop in their stocks. I do not believe it will end well.

        • Thanks, Scott. Here are a couple of Marketwatch combined headlines:
          Nikkei plunges into bear market; China sinks
          Japan index drops more than 6%; China markets also see deep losses
          Japan stocks remain prisoner of the yen
          Commentary: Conservative yen forecasts can’t help Japan shares

          This stuff is pretty complex, some might say confusing. Japan, China and the US are all sort of like soccer players trying to dribble past the opponent and faking one way and another.

          The general consensus is that Japan’s situation is a little better than four months ago but still risky. And that applies to China and the USA as well. Yes, even China is in much worse financial condition than most observers know, or the Chinese government acknowledges. The best informed, however, will admit that China’s 30 provinces can be equated to Europe — as in 30 Greek debts. Xi Jinping’s recent talks with President Obama were masterfully deceptive in portraying China as the up and coming world power. That’s still a big maybe, and Mr. Xi has a boat full of alligators he has to deliver.

          • Hello Chris, I was looking at Japan’s inflation rates, they are low according to the charts I pulled up. It seems they are printing all this money to fight deflation and it not working.


            I am also a little confused about inflation rates staying so low in light of the money printing. I read somewhere if all this money is printed and it goes into places like banks and treasury bills and it is not getting lent out to the people the money just kind of hides in these bubbles like stocks and treasuries. When banks loan money there is a money multiplier affect. It seems to me that all this out there and will someday enter the system.

            The things Indy wrote about would put our countries back to work again and it is such a good thing, I hope more people read this. If we could focus all of the money and power of our military industrial complex in this direction (instead of war) we could start a “Manhattan Project” to build and convert to these systems. What a wonderful thing it would be to get people working again and having jobs building solar roof top conversions and all of those things that need to be built.
            So if we could focus all of our resources away from war like things and in this direction we may have a chance and there is still time. We could put people back to work.

            But I still say it will not happen until the crisis is visible to the worlds people, which has not yet happened.

      • My dear Chris,
        You bring up a very good point regarding mini-farms. JHK, I’m sure would agree.. . .
        Shit happens, they will be abandoned.. . .
        Because there won’t be fuel for the commute!

        Also, I note that you have a discipline problem. In that you can’t or won’t accept the discipline imposed by insufficient energy to do as you please.

        Like I said, Conversion of all dwellings to PassivHaus, conversion of all commercial buildings to efficiencies half as good as the Bullit building, halving Industrial demand, shifting freight to rail, and commuting on public transport, leaves a future.

        Don’t like that future? Prefer living like the Maori or Thingit of 800 AD?
        With what energy source? What source of building materials?

        I checked out what you and Mike write. It’s crap.. . . Dream stuff.. . . You watch
        too many movies.. . .

        You are not going to be able to go out into the wilderness and build such buildings, the trees aren’t big enough yet, and the diseases brought by global transport are killing most of what is left.

        You have yet to accept a planet with limits, you are still subconciously thinking you can
        escape to a resource rich environment that is unpopulated, by yourselves. Won’t happen.

        I’m always ready to listen to alternatives. Do the math, show the results. Like I did.

        Otherwise, it’s show time!


        • INDY,
          The point I was trying to make is a tad more complex, perhaps because I have great difficult envisioning the transition from current state to various potential successor states, by which I mean ‘social conditions’: population level, economic activity, etc, associated with various levels / stages of collapse

          I can no more ‘see ahead’ what life will be like in southern Ohio than in south Manhattan or south New Zealand. You’re entirely right about the unlikelihood of adapting to a neolithic life style.

          It’s not clear who ‘Mike’ is, or how his and my ideas converge, but he must be a smart fellow! As are you, sir, as you know. I haven’t really seen many movies about such stuff in awhile. However, as Don Stewart urges I try to conceptualize since we are discussing conditions and events for which none of us have clear pictures.

          My primary problem with the academic overview analysis you provided is that it didn’t lay out ranges of possibilities, and I think that’s essential when considering such matters. Like all who read it, I greatly admire your ability to compile the facts and numbers you have presented. But we all possess the right to question their accuracy.

          I would propose that rather than stating that egg consumption will be 15 per person per week, why not say ’10 to 20′ per week. And then later you can get fancier and break it out according to age, etc. Once such exercises begin they rarely end. Just ask the planner in Moscow in 1990…

          And that, of course, is the other big problem: coercion. Yes, you can claim economic reality will drive one set of behaviors or justify a limitation or a rule. To which my response will be ‘let’s review the scenario.’

          If — and it’s a big if — we are rapidly reduced to the ‘survival mode’ such as that Maori photo or worse, then the die-off will be likely be sizeable, and probably bloody. Under that scenario all you energy computations are worth less than the paper they’re written on.

          If, on the other hand, we maintain sufficient economic output to undertake the energy transitions you propose, then your list will have to be seen as an ‘early draft’. You talk about economic reality, which is appropriate, but telling people they’re not allowed to drive their cars except on weekends might cause just a slight uproar. That, too, is a reality that you should face. It’s not a factor of the quantity of PV panels on a roof, but that people live in one place and work in another, which takes transport systems. If in deep collapse, as Athens, then survival mode in the hills succeeds because there’s no transport system needed. But that’s not the same set of conditions, not the same scenario. I’m not watching movies, INDY, just trying to understand.

          Cordially, Chris Johnson

          • Dear Christopher Johnson
            Please forgive me for once again referring to Surfaces and Essences by Hofstadter and Sander.

            On page 383: In short, though we may tell ourselves that we are royally pushing analogies around from the heights of our conscious thrones, the truth is otherwise: we are really at the mercy of ouir own seeting myriads of unconscious analogies,…

            Now a short story. I have been trying to solve the water problem at a community garden. It has been an unrewarding experience. Slowly, it has dawned on me that most of the gardeners have never hauled water in their lives. They have no physical memory of what it is like to haul water. Water comes out of a tap, effortlessly. When I describe the physical apparatus which can cause water to flow uphill (the analog of a water tower), they have no memory of ever constructing anything like it. Most of them are trapped in the analogies they can make from the world of ‘industrial water’, and those analogies just won’t work if the industrial water goes away.

            As our society has evolved to where most people make their living moving mice on mousepads, most people have lost the rich vein of experiences of how things work in the physical world. And so they will be hard pressed to come up with useful analogies if anything happens which interrupts the global industrial system.

            I have the treasure trove of early childhood experiences to remember and analogize from due to age and growing up poor. In addition, I have made some deliberate experiments in living without certain conveniences. For example, I have lived in off-grid solar houses with very small batteries and I have lived in cabins that had no power at all. They are not nearly as bad as everyone thinks they will be…is my conclusion.

            I suggested to Xabier that he might like to watch the movie Sansho the Bailiff, a tale of medieval Japan. In that movie, a noble woman, her two children, and a servant are traveling (walking) to the place where her husband has been exiled for political reasons. They cannot find lodging for hire, so the woman sends her children to gather materials for a shelter and she builds the overnight shelter. Kenji Mizoguchi, the director, was meticulous in his depiction of medieval life…so we can assume that a woman of the nobility nevertheless knew something about constructing a shelter from natural materials.

            I believe it is worthwhile to think back to the basics and to get some physical experience of dealing with those basics. Absent actual experience, the quote from Surfaces and Essences would leave one with little optimism about the survival of the clueless.

            Don Stewart

            • Hello Don, Yes, I have been reading a lot of books about the old days and old ways. I also bought some books to put in my library about gathering edible plants. I have always liked to build things with my hands and I think those skills will be handy to those that concentrate on learning how to make things on their own. That may be in our future.

              But few are able to do these things and many jobs today are doing a simple task – perhaps one piece of a puzzle of a larger project that they do not even understand the big picture of what they are building. Like for example; soldering a single component into a circuit board on an assembly line. So people may be good at only one little thing and when they are faced with many things they will unable to perform the tasks.

              I have a neighbor up here that put in a hand pump well out there in his yard so his family could always have water in an emergency. So I some people doing some things out there and if you can build with wood or welding and have those abilities you will be farther ahead if things get tough. I think most people in the world live in apartments in cities and they could not install hand pump wells and such things, but building would have panels for hot water and PV.

              I am prepared to cook on my wood stove if needed, we could live like pioneers and I may even like it as long as folks help each other and do not get violent in a crisis. I think we will have problems with people coming out of the cities and causing trouble even here where we live in remote Oregon and that could lead to blood shed. I think the cities could very quickly become dangerous in an energy crisis people trying to get out maybe on foot on the roads walking around all of the cars out of gas! I can just picture the roads full of roving people and cars sitting empty of gas. But will we have that type of crisis or just slowly increasing costs for fuel that may force us onto mopeds etc.?

            • Dear Don Stewart:
              Thank you for your continuing contributions that never fail to enlighten. I have not had the opportunity to read Hofstadter and Sandler, nor dabbled in Oriental movies for the last few decades, but look forward to doing so.
              I believe one of the more difficult problems all of us have is visualizing what the future will look like. There’s a wide range between mild slowdown (continuing mild recession, no growth) and post-apocalyptic. Will we live in Maori houses or Passiv Haus with PV on the roof powering the TV, the toaster-oven and the teapot? Will we need jobs? Have gainful employment that enables us to buy food at the supermarket? the farmer’s market?
              It might be worthwhile for us — from the least of us aged and over the hill to the most highly sapient Phds — to begin sketching out some of the possible scenarios, and then determining what factors would favor one over another. Then some smart, talented artists can put some of those ideas onto a sketch pad, and we might be able to visualize what the options are.
              There was a Will Smith move some years ago about a plague that killed off almost all of humanity. All I recall now are the desolate scenes of NY City…
              Cordially, Chris

      • We discovered years ago that trying to commute by train from the suburbs is a nightmare (no matter what the train schedule) for someone like my husband, who is a college professor and teaches at all hours of the day and night. Every train he rode was a “milk run.”

        • The idea that someone would ‘decree’ who gets to drive when and how far tends to the ‘stalinesque’, who did all things for the good of the people. But even more hairbrained is the notion that public transport systems can be ‘economically’ designed to provide all, or almost all, of the required transport for all the people from their homes to work, etc. Do you remember the pictures of Chinese on their bicycles in the 70s?

  2. I am not sure anyone will see my comment about (i) solving problem of pop. and econ. growth, (ii) my calculation regarding and transcending Apollo Alliance program at, and (iii) my analysis of the idea of furloughing those who serve the market or otherwise produce nothing useful at – due to the peculiar place that WordPress placed it. I am not sure about all the email addresses and accounts with passwords either. For that matter, I’m not sure what my name is.

    • Dear Doctor Wayburn, I have bookmarked your site and plan to study it. I understand that you see something that you believe in. I think most of us we do not see and frankly it is still beyond me as you have some complex computations. But as I said, I am lacking in extended education although I worked as a Management Analyst for many years.

      It would help if you would not condescend, but instead try to explain your theories and the math, I and most of us, will never understand those complex formulas you have put together unless you explain them to us. I know there is at least one other scientist on this site and I wonder if any one understands those mathematical formulas.

      Your attacks should be directed at our corrupt government as you did say something very there about that which I liked. I think Gail is doing a wonderful job and cares about this message and has gotten a following, I want to understand your work, but need your help as most of us do. Remember we are just simple mortals.

      You have to realize that most humans think everything is cool. And, I have been spending a lot of time writing about how few people there are that even see a resource problem and the those of us that do we are the great minority.

      Perhaps – only 5 in a hundred or less believe that we are facing any resource problems down the road in our lifetime.

      Recently, I have been starting to feel more and more we have the solutions, but our governments are standing in the way and forcing this collapse upon us almost by design.

      I hope you keep writing and try to explain things perhaps in a simpler way we can grasp or, perhaps other scientist reading your materials can help explain to us what you see.

      I have seen your extensive website and have just begun to dig in, so cannot we be kind and helpful to each other as we are all trying to get grasps on this problem. I plan to spend some more time tonight looking at your site. If Gail cannot make sense of it – I do not stand a chance.

      I think most of us are looking for practical every day solutions that the average high school drop out could help with and help to institute a plan of action.

      If you look at the world as a whole few have the degrees and knowledge beyond simple means in many parts of the world. So we have to consider that as well.

      In summary, can you cordially simplify your message to the group?

      • Sorry about sending a reply to you that should have been directed at someone else. You don’t sound like someone who wants to hang me from the nearest hanging tree and I appreciate it. I hope you realize that some people are predisposed to hate me. I’d like to give them a few things worth hating.

        • Hello Dr. Wayburn, I plan to continue to study your work. I think most of us here want to understand you and others. It looks like even though, we have found many answers, the governments and the political systems are not in place to allow us to do anything. Road blocks in government standing in our way are everywhere.

          It will likely take a crisis before they listen to many of these new ideas, sadly. Until then, I plan to keep looking at your work and that of others, not that I will matter – as have little power to change this big system we are locked into. But if we see something – that will help, we will surely be talking about it and if enough people get a hold of an idea it may get done. I was asking you last night if you have built any prototypes for a machine that can generate power with zero input?

          I think even if you presented such a machine to a company like Exxon, they would not want to see it or talk to you until they really have the crisis we speak of. Or they would buy it from you and shelve the idea for later, when they have sold all their oil.

          What I am getting mostly – is we have a long laundry list of things that we know how to do, things that can be done and they all cost money which is hard to come by. If money was directed properly by governments and corporations away from war and world control, we may have a chance to build these projects?

  3. Thank you Dan, good to see you posting, I hope you will write again. We all have to remind ourselves no matter how smart we are that we are all humans, that is unless you are an alien.

  4. Dr. Wayburn, I read this section tonight. And it made sense to me, you wrote this a long time ago long before many thought of such things. I guess the part I am looking for to understand your new findings, have you a device or anything like that yet to generate power?

  5. To correct an error: I mis-quoted Lord Acton, who actually said “…absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” Not that it actually does so all the time. I think a good read through history will uncover an extraordinarily small number of people who were not corrupted by power, so the point is almost moot. Note that this includes the most saintly and otherwise humble as well as the most blatantly egotistical. Humans are easily corrupted regardless of the organizational structure; some just make things worse, and communism proved to be among the worst ever.

    • “communism proved to be among the worst ever.”

      A common error with commie-bashers is they conflate a government system (totalitarianism) with an economic system (communism).

      There is no reason the two must go together, and there are lots of examples of totalitarian capitalist systems that have failed spectacularly.

      • Dear Jan,
        I really have no desire, at least at this moment, to explore the moral or other considerations regarding political and social structures. I’ve said what I said because I believe it, and I agree wholeheartedly with your point that plenty of political, economic and social structures failed regardless of the particular flavor of their ruling ‘ism.’
        Maybe we can pick this up again later. Regardless, I still recommend to any and all that a slow walk through Arnold Toybee’s ‘A Study of History’ is well worth the effort.
        Cordially, Chris

        • Hello Chris, you know, I am really at the point where I see too many road blocks set up by bad governments around the world. We seem to have the solutions for many of the problems presented on this site, but there is not the political will – or honesty.

          So, therefore it is not going to get done, until a crisis but then it will be tried and too hard to do perhaps. And, you know we have been discussing the financial aspects, it seems during the good times people buy sail boats and cabins and fix up their homes – but when a financial crisis comes like we saw in 2008, or worse next time they not built the systems needed. Kind of reminds me of the “Roaring Twenties” just before the great depression.

          In summary, the governments of the world do not seem to have the political will to steer people in the direction of truth and honesty, but instead have taken the path of least resistance. I guess this energy party will continue. Kind of like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as has been said on this site.

          I think we have a bit of time still before crisis, as long as nuclear war does not break out. I hope we can muddle along for a long time here.

          We will surely have a harder time with things, year after year – as we are now though. So I guess the best we can hope for is that things just get a little harder year by year.

          • Scott, I thank you for your sincerity and depth of thought. I am not prepared, however, to pick up the phone and begin explaining what’s going on and what we should be doing about it. Nor has Gail asked me to, and if she did I probably wouldn’t.

            In case you didn’t notice, some 110 million people voted in the US elections last November. I’d bet somewhat fewer than 500 have ever read Gail Tverberg’s blog or similar blogs that discuss the coming (already arrived?) collapse and the potential reversion to 1850 lifestyles (or worse).

            Gail and her counterparts are to be commended for shining lights on interesting problems that may be well beyond the capabilities of anyone you or I know to even comprehend in their totality, much less take any remedial action. One thing about politicians that you want to keep foremost, is that they avoid getting involved in matters like this that cannot be readily resolved. If nothing else, they want to avoid looking like a fool or anything less than the great leader they know they are and that all their supporters believe them to be. In other words, they really don’t want to hear from us.

            There was a lovely comedy movie produced in the 60’s called ‘The Mouse That Roared.’ I think shooting arrows in an assault on the government to get their attention would have about the same impact. When the government decides to participate, they will let us know.

            • Thank you Chris. People are now kind of afraid to speak as we are being monitored by who knows who. But that is okay maybe they will learn something from our group. Our group has presented answers to problems that threaten our so called way of life, but of our so called way of life has threatened us anyway.

              I have spoken of things that some may be afraid to speak of but I will take my chances in order to get the word out. I love my country and I hope we can get back to our basic beliefs which are worked better for us in the older days.

              Looks like our daughter has decided to leave San Francisco and join us here to help us in our venture here and I think she made the right decision.

              Judge it for yourself but it reminds me of and old song…. Here is an old song that I am going to post in that has a message.

              Somethin’s at the edge of your mind You don’t know what it is Somethin’ you were hopin’ to find Your not sure what it is
              Then you hear the music And it all comes crystal clear The music does the talkin’ Says the things you want to hear
              I’m young, I’m wild And I’m free I got the magic power Of the music in me
              I’m young, I’m wild And I’m free I got the magic power Of the music in me
              She climbs into bed, she pulls the covers overhead And she turns her little radio on She’s has a rotten day so she hopes The D J’s gonna play her favorite song
              It makes her feel much better Brings her closer to her dreams A little magic power Makes it better that it seems
              She’s young now, she’s wild now She wants to be free She gets the magic power Of the music for me
              She’s young now, she’s wild now She wants to be free She gets the magic power Of the music for me
              [ From: ] If you’re thinkin’ it over But you just can’t sort it out Do you want someone to tell you What they think it’s all about?
              Are you the one and only who’s sad and lonely You’re reachin’ for the top Well the music keeps you goin’ And it’s never gonna stop
              It’s never gonna stop It’s never gonna, never gonna Never gonna, never gonna Never gonna stop
              The world is full of compromise The infinite red tape But the music’s got the magic It’s your one chance for escape
              So turn me on, turn me up It’s your turn to dream A little magic power Makes it better than it seems
              I’m young now, I’m wild now I want to be free I got the magic power Of the music in me
              I’m young now, I’m wild And I’m free I got the magic power Of the music, I got the music in me
              I got the power, I got the magic She’s got the power, she’s got the magic She’s got the power, she’s got the magic She’s got the power, she’s got the magic

    • Thanks Mel, I enjoyed that article, sure sounds like it is tough and takes bravery and skill to run a team of horses on a plow like that. Dangerous work. I just read a book called “Valley of Wild Horses” by Zane Gray. In the 1800’s there were millions of wild horses in North America. In the story the cowboys tied ropes on some of the wild horses legs to keep them under control when they were on the trail to move the horses from this valley to another place. When I was a kid our neighbors had horses and I would ride, I have been kicked and thrown off of them too and scared to death when a pony I was riding bare back decided to run as fast as he could and would not stop, that was the time I was thrown off as I could not hold on to the hair on the mane.

      I had no idea there are an estimated 400,000 farms in N. America that use the animals in some way. It takes skill to train and work with the animals in this and you have to get to know them.

  6. Pingback: A long thread on Our Finite World leading nowhere | eroeistar

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