Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network

The story of energy and the economy seems to be an obvious common sense one: some sources of energy are becoming scarce or overly polluting, so we need to develop new ones. The new ones may be more expensive, but the world will adapt. Prices will rise and people will learn to do more with less. Everything will work out in the end. It is only a matter of time and a little faith. In fact, the Financial Times published an article recently called “Looking Past the Death of Peak Oil” that pretty much followed this line of reasoning.

Energy Common Sense Doesn’t Work Because the World is Finite 

The main reason such common sense doesn’t work is because in a finite world, every action we take has many direct and indirect effects. This chain of effects produces connectedness that makes the economy operate as a network. This network behaves differently than most of us would expect. This networked behavior is not reflected in current economic models.

Most people believe that the amount of oil in the ground is the limiting factor for oil extraction. In a finite world, this isn’t true. In a finite world, the limiting factor is feedback loops that lead to inadequate wages, inadequate debt growth, inadequate tax revenue, and ultimately inadequate funds for investment in oil extraction. The behavior of networks may lead to economic collapses of oil exporters, and even to a collapse of the overall economic system.

An issue that is often overlooked in the standard view of oil limits is diminishing returns. With diminishing returns, the cost of extraction eventually rises because the easy-to-obtain resources are extracted first. For a time, the rising cost of extraction can be hidden by advances in technology and increased mechanization, but at some point, the inflation-adjusted cost of oil production starts to rise.

With diminishing returns, the economy is, in effect, becoming less and less efficient, instead of becoming more and more efficient. As this effect feeds through the system, wages tend to fall and the economy tends to shrink rather than grow. Because of the way a networked system “works,” this shrinkage tends to collapse the economy. The usage of  energy products of all kinds is likely to fall, more or less simultaneously.

In some ways current, economic models are the equivalent of flat maps, when we live in a spherical world. These models work pretty well for a while, but eventually, their predictions deviate further and further from reality. The reason our models of the future are wrong is because we are not imagining the system correctly.

The Connectedness of a Finite World 

In a finite world, an action a person takes has wide-ranging impacts. The amount of food I eat, or the amount of minerals I extract from the earth, affects what other people (now and in the future) can do, and what other species can do.

To illustrate, let’s look at an exaggerated example. At any given time, there is only so much broccoli that is ready for harvest. If I decide to corner the broccoli market and buy up 50% of the world’s broccoli supply, that means that other people will have less broccoli available to buy. If those growing the broccoli spray the growing crop with pesticides, “broccoli pests” (caterpillars, aphids, and other insects) will die back in number, perhaps contributing to a decline of those species. The pesticides may also affect desirable species, like bees.

Growing the broccoli will also deplete the soil of nutrients. If 50% of the world’s broccoli is shipped to me, the nutrients from the soil will find their way around the world to me. These nutrients are not likely to be replaced in the soil where the broccoli was grown without long-distance transport of nutrients.

To take another example, if I (or the imaginary company I own) extract oil from the ground, the extraction and the selling of that oil will have many far-ranging effects:

  •  The oil I extract will most likely be the cheapest, easiest-to-extract oil that I can find. Because of this, the oil that is left will tend to be more expensive to extract. My extraction of oil thus contributes to diminishing returns–that is, the tendency of the cost of oil extraction to rise over time as resources deplete.
  • The petroleum I extract from the ground will consist of a mixture of hydrocarbon chains of varying lengths. When I send the petroleum to a refinery, the refinery will separate the petroleum into varying length chains: short chains are gasses, longer chains are liquids, still longer ones are very viscous, and the longest ones are solids, such as asphalt. Different length chains are used for different purposes. The shortest chains are natural gas. Some chains are sold as gasoline, some as diesel, and some as lubricants. Some parts of the petroleum spectrum are used to make plastics, medicines, fabrics, and pesticides. All of these uses will help create jobs in a wide range of industries. Indirectly, these uses are likely to enable higher food production, and thus higher population.
  • When I extract the oil from the ground, the process itself will use some oil and natural gas. Refining the oil will also use energy.
  • Jobs will be created in the oil industry. People with these jobs will spend their money on goods and services of all sorts, indirectly leading to greater availability of jobs outside the oil industry.
  • Oil’s price is important. The lower the price, the more affordable products using oil will be, such as cars.
  • In order for consumers to purchase cars that will operate using gasoline, there will likely be a need for debt to buy the cars. Thus, the extraction of oil is tightly tied to the build-up of debt.
  • As an oil producer, I will pay taxes of many different types to all levels of governments. (Governments of oil exporting countries tend to get a high percentage of their revenue from taxes on oil. Even in non-exporting countries, taxes on oil tend to be high.) Consumers will also pay taxes, such as gasoline taxes.
  • The jobs that are created through the use of oil will lead to more tax revenue, because wage earners pay income taxes.
  • The government will need to build more roads, partly for the additional cars that operate on the roads thanks to the use of gasoline and diesel, and partly to repair the damage that is done as trucks travel to oil extraction sites.
  • To keep the oil extraction process going, there will likely need to be schools and medical facilities to take care of the workers and their families, and to educate those workers.

Needless to say, there are other effects as well. The existence of my oil in the marketplace will somehow affect the market price of oil. Burning of the oil may affect the climate, and will tend to acidify oceans. It would be possible to go on and on.

The Difficulty of Substituting Away from Oil 

In some sense, the use of oil is very deeply imbedded into the operation of the overall economy. We can talk about electricity replacing oil, but oil’s involvement in the economy is so pervasive, it can’t possibly replace everything. Perhaps electricity might replace gasoline in private passenger automobiles. Such a change would reduce the demand for hydrocarbon chains of a certain length (C7 to C11), but that only reduces demand for one “slice” of the oil mixture. Both shorter and longer chain hydrocarbons would be unaffected.

The price of gasoline will drop, (making Chinese buyers happy because more will be able to afford to use motorcycles), but what else will happen? Won’t we still need as much diesel, and as many medicines as before? Refiners can fairly easily break longer-chain molecules into shorter-chain molecules, so they can make diesel or asphalt into gasoline. But going the other direction doesn’t work well at all. Making gasoline into shorter chains would be a huge waste, because gasoline is much more valuable than the resulting gases.

How about replacing all of the taxes directly and indirectly related to the unused gasoline?  Will the price of electricity used in electric-powered vehicles be adjusted to cover the foregone tax revenue?

If a liquid substitute for oil is made, it needs to be low priced, because a high-priced substitute for oil is very different from a low-priced substitute. Part of the problem is that high-priced substitutes do not leave enough “room” for taxes for governments. Another part of the problem is that customers cannot afford high-priced oil products. They cut back on discretionary expenditures, and the economy tends to contract. There are layoffs in the discretionary sectors, and (again) the government finds it difficult to collect enough tax revenue.

The Economy as a Networked System

I think of the world economic system as being a networked system, something like the dome shown in Figure 1. The dome behaves as an object that is different from the many wooden sticks from which it is made. The dome can collapse if sticks are removed.

Figure 1. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks

Figure 1. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks

The world economy consists of a network of businesses, consumers, governments, and resources that is bound together with a financial system. It is self-organizing, in the sense that consumers decide what to buy based on what products are available at what prices. New businesses are formed based on the overall environment: potential customers, competition, resource availability, services available from other businesses, and laws. Governments participate in the system as well, building infrastructure, making laws, and charging taxes.

Over time, all of these gradually change. If one business changes, other business and consumers are likely to make changes in response. Even governments may change: make new laws, or build new infrastructure. Over time, the tendency is to build a larger and more complex network. Unused portions of the network tend to wither away–for example, few businesses make buggy whips today. This is why the network is illustrated as hollow. This feature makes it difficult for the network to “go backward.”

The network got its start as a way to deliver food energy to people. Gradually economies expanded to include other goods and services. Because energy is required to “do work,” (such as provide heat, mechanical energy, or electricity), energy is always central to an economy. In fact, the economy might be considered an energy delivery system. This is especially the case if we consider wages to be payment for an important type of energy–human energy.

Because of the way the network has grown over time, there is considerable interdependency among different types of energy. For example, electricity powers oil pipelines and gasoline pumps. Oil is used to maintain the electric grid. Nuclear electric plants depend on electricity from the grid to restart their operations after outages. Thus, if one type of energy “has a problem,” this problem is likely to spread to other types of energy. This is the opposite of the common belief that energy substitution will fix all problems.

Economies are Prone to Collapse

We know the wooden dome in Figure 1 can collapse if “things go wrong.” History shows that many civilizations have collapsed in the past. Research has been done to see why this is the case.

Joseph Tainter’s research indicates that diminishing returns played an important role in the collapse of past civilizations. Diminishing returns would be a problem when adding more workers didn’t add a corresponding amount more output, particularly with respect to food. Such a situation might be reached when population grew too large for a piece of arable land. Degradation of soil fertility might play a role as well.

Today, we are reaching diminishing returns with respect to oil supply, as evidenced by the rising cost of oil extraction. This is occurring because we removed the easy to extract oil, and now must move on to the more expensive to extract oil. In effect, the system is becoming less efficient. More workers and more resources of other types are needed to produce a given barrel of oil. The value of the barrel of oil in terms of what it can do as work (say, how far it can move a car, or how much heat it can produce) is unchanged, so the value each worker is producing is less. This is the opposite of efficiency.

Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov have done research on the nature of past collapses, documented in a book called Secular Cycles. An economy would clear a piece of land, or discover an approach to irrigation, or by some other means discover a way to expand the number of people who could live in an area. The resulting economy would grow for well over 100 years, until population started catching up with resource availability. A period of stagflation followed, typically for about 50 or 60 years, as the economy tried to continue to grow, but bumped against increasing obstacles. Wage disparity grew as wages of new workers lagged. Debt also grew.

Eventually collapse occurred, over a period of 20 to 50 years. Often, much of the population died off. An inter-cycle period followed, during which resources regenerated, so that a new civilization could arise.

Figure 2. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turkin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

Figure 2. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turkin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

One of the major issues in past collapses was difficulty in funding government services. Part of the problem was that wages of common workers were low, making it difficult to collect enough taxes. Part of governments’ problems were that their costs went up, as they tried to solve the increasingly complex problems of society. Today these costs might include unemployment insurance and bailing out banks; in ages past they included larger armies to try to conquer new lands with more resources, as their own resources depleted.

Today’s Situation 

Our situation isn’t too different. The economy started growing in the early 1800s, about the time we started using fossil fuels, thanks to technology that allowed us to use them. Oil is the fossil fuel that is depleting most quickly, because it is very valuable in many uses, including transportation, agriculture, construction, mining, and as a raw material to produce many goods we use every day.

Our economy seems to have hit stagflation in the early 1970s, when oil prices first began to spike. Now, some of the symptoms we are seeing are looking distressingly like the symptoms that other civilizations saw prior to the beginning of collapse. Our networked system has many weak points:

  • Oil exporters Governments can collapse, as the government of the Former Soviet Union did in 1991, if oil prices are too low. The fact that oil prices have not risen since 2011 is probably contributing to unrest in the Middle East.
  • Oil importers Spikes in oil prices lead to recession.
  • Governments funding Debt keeps expanding; infrastructure needs fixes but they don’t get done; too many promises for pensions and healthcare.
  • Failing financial systems Debt defaults are likely to be a major problem if the economic system starts shrinking. Debt is needed to keep oil prices up.
  • Contagion if one energy product is in short supply This happens many ways. For example, nearly all businesses rely on both electricity and oil. If either one of these becomes unavailable (say oil to supply parts and ship goods to customers), then the business will need to close. Because of the business closure, demand for other energy products the business uses, such as electricity and natural gas, will drop at the same time. Direct use of energy products to produce other energy products (mentioned previously) also contributes to this contagion.

Unfortunately, when it comes to operating an economy, it is Liebig’s Law of the Minimum that rules. In other words, if any required element is missing, the system doesn’t work. If businesses can’t get financing, or can’t pay their employees because banks are closed, businesses may need to close. Workers will get laid off, and the inability to afford energy products (economists would call this “lack of demand”) will be what brings the system down.

Modeling our Current Economy 

Everywhere we look, we see models of how the energy system or the economy can be expected to work. None of the models match our current situation well.

Growth will Continue As in the Past It is pretty clear that this model is inadequate. Every revision to growth estimates seems to be downward. In a finite world, we know that growth at the same rate can’t continue forever–we would run out of resources, and places for people to stand. The networked nature of the system explains how the system really grows, and why this growth can’t continue indefinitely.

Rising Cost of Producing Energy Products Doesn’t Matter In a global world, we compete on the price of goods and services. The cost of producing these goods and services depends on (a) the cost of energy products used in making these goods and services (b) wages paid to workers for producing these services (c) government, healthcare, and other overhead costs, and (d) financing costs.

One part of our problem is that with globalization, we are competing against warm countries–countries that receive more free energy from the sun than we do, so are warmer than the US and Europe. Because of this free energy from the sun, homes do not need to be built as sturdily and less heat is needed in winter. Without these costs, wages do not need to be as high. These countries also tend to have less expensive healthcare systems and lower pensions for the elderly.

Governments can try to fix our non-competitive cost structure compared to these countries by reducing interest rates  as much as possible, but the fact remains–it is very difficult for countries in cold parts of the world to compete with countries in warm parts of the world in making goods. This cost competition problem becomes worse, as the price of energy products rises because we are competing with a cost of $0 for heating requirements. If cold countries add carbon taxes, but do not surcharge goods imported from warm countries, the disparity with warm countries becomes even worse.

In the early years of civilization, warm countries dominated the world economy. As energy prices rise, this situation is likely to again occur.

Price is Not Important  Apart from the warm country–cool country issue, there is another reason that energy cost (in real goods, not just in financial printed money) is important:

The price of the energy used in the economy is important because it is tied to how much must be “given up” to buy the oil or anther energy product (such as food). If energy is cheap, little needs to be given up to obtain the energy. Because of energy’s huge ability to do “work,” the work that is obtained can easily make goods and services that compensate for what has been given up. If energy is expensive, there is much less benefit (or perhaps negative benefit) when what is given up is compared to the work that the energy product provides. As a result, economic growth is held back by high-priced energy products of any kind.

Supply and Demand Leads to Higher Prices and Substitutes  Major obstacles to the standard model working are (a) diminishing returns with respect to oil supply, (b) recession and even government failure of oil importers, when oil prices rise and (c) civil unrest and even government failure in oil exporters, if oil prices don’t keep rising. If there isn’t enough oil supply, oil prices rise, but there are soon so many follow-on effects that oil prices fall back again.

Reserves/ Production This ratio supposedly tells how long we can produce oil (or natural gas or coal) at current extraction rates. This ratio is simply misleading. The real limit is how long the economy can function, given the feedback loops related to diminishing returns. If a person simply looks at investment dollars required, it becomes clear that this model doesn’t work. See my post IEA Investment Report – What is Right; What is Wrong.

IPCC Climate Change Model Estimates of future carbon emissions do not take into the networked nature of the energy system and economy, so tend to be high.  See my post Oil Limits and Climate Change – How They Fit Together.

Energy Payback Period, Energy Return on Energy Invested, and Life Cycle Analysis These approaches look at the efficiency of energy production, comparing energy used in the process to energy produced in the process. In some ways, they work–they show that we are becoming less and less efficient at producing oil, or coal, or natural gas, as we move to more difficult to extract resources. And they can be worthwhile, if a decision is being made as to which of two similar devices to purchase: Wind Turbine A or Wind Turbine B.

Unfortunately, modeling a finite world is virtually impossible. These approaches use narrow boundaries–energy used in pulling oil out of the ground, or making a wind turbine. It doesn’t tell as much as we need to know about new energy generation equipment, together with (a) changes needed elsewhere in the system and (b) whatever financial system is used to pay for the energy generated with that system, will actually work in the economy. To really analyze the situation, broader analyses are needed.

Furthermore, there are the inherent assumptions that (a) we have a long time period to make changes and (b) one energy source can be substituted for another. Neither of these assumptions is really true when we are this close to oil limits.

Where the Peak Oil Model Went Wrong

Part of the Peak Oil story is right: We are reaching oil limits, and those limits are hitting about now. Part of the Peak Oil story is not right, though, at least in  a common version that is prevalent now.  The version that is prevalent is more or less equivalent to the “standard” view of our current situation that I talked about at the beginning of the post. In this standard view, oil supply will not disappear very quickly–approximately 50% of the total amount of oil ever extracted will become available after the peak in oil production. There will be considerable substitution with other fuels, often at higher prices. The financial system may be affected, but it can be replaced, and the economy will continue.

This view is based on writing of M. King Hubbert back in 1957. At that time, it was commonly believed that nuclear energy would provide electricity too cheap to meter. In fact, in a 1962 paper, Hubbert talks about “reversing combustion,” to make liquid fuels. Thus, not only did his story include cheap electricity, it also included cheap liquid fuels, both in huge quantity.

Figure 3. Figure from Hubbert's 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

Figure 3. Figure from Hubbert’s 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

In such a situation, growth could continue indefinitely. There would be no need to replace huge numbers of vehicles with electric vehicles. Governments wouldn’t have a problem with funding. There would be no problem with collapse. The supply of oil and other fossil fuels could decline slowly, as suggested in his papers. Assuming that it is possible to extract about 50% of oil supply after peak is equivalent to assuming that the networked economy will hold together indefinitely–there will be no problem with collapse.

But the story of the cheap, rapid nuclear ramp-up didn’t materialize, and we gradually got closer to the time when limits were beginning to hit. Major changes were needed to Hubbert’s story to reflect the fact that we really didn’t have a fix that would keep business as usual going indefinitely. But these changes never took place. Instead the view of how little change was needed to keep the economy going kept getting downgraded more and more. “Standard” economic views filtered into the story, too.

There is a correct version of the oil limits story to tell. It is the story of the failure of networked systems. That is the story I am telling in my posts.

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.
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967 Responses to Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network

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  5. Sylvia says:

    Sometimes I wonder and hope whether we overlook something. Like. … can 10 billion people live in a system with 30 mbd of oil? Without individual motorized transportation for example and super efficient ways for light and heat, where everyone grows some food, where most everything is done through the web, and so on. Small probability to get to an equilibrium like that without a fast collapse to set the stage. … but I’m hoping. …

    • Paul says:

      The web will not exist after the SHTF — because there will be no energy available to power the web — there will be no energy available to mine and smelt the minerals that are required to make computers and maintain the grid…

      The web is massively energy intensive — both the inputs used to build the infrastructure behind it — and the general functioning of the system e.g. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2011/08/01/report-google-uses-about-900000-servers/

      There is no question in my mind — we are going back to the 1700’s shortly — but a) without the know how of how to survive in a pre-industrial time and b) all of the easy to get at resources such as surface coal and oil — are long gone…

      Of course there is also the other problem — we didn’t quite have as many people then either

      • Sylvia says:

        I fear you are right, funny cartoon btw

      • John Doyle says:

        Plus;This is what I mentioned earlier, Isaac Asimov says there will be no dignity, no democracy etc when the crunch occurs;
        The future is grim if BaU keeps dominating our thinking!

        • Paul says:

          John – clearly the BAU have put in place the means of control — but their methods remain based on the assumption that the BAU model – to a very limited extent – can continue.

          How will the NSA operate when nobody has a computer or internet service…

          How does the Deep State control the situation when the strategic reserves of petrol run dry…. armies are needed to enforce order — and armies run on gas…

          Perhaps the Deep State knows this — and these preparations are being made so that they can maintain their dominance for a few years longer… just as QE ZIRP were other tools to keep BAU going…

          This may not of course only be self-serving…. we may look back on the days of martial law as the last vestiges of anything approaching a civilized world…. when order breaks down because there is no entity that is even remotely decent to enforce it…. who knows what comes next…

    • We can hope, I suppose. One weak link is governments. Funding for them dries up early on. Can they continue, if they can’t provide Social Security, Medicare, road maintenance, and many other things people were expecting? How will repairs be made after storms, if governments are too poor to chip in with the cost of electrical repairs after storms?

      Then the problem becomes building and maintaining all of the necessary infrastructure. We think in terms of oil we use, but a big share of the 30 mbd of oil would need to be used by farmers, and in maintaining all of the pipelines for water and sewer, and to continue oil transport. Also maintaining electric power lines.

      It is not clear that the price of oil can be kept high enough, either, if a large number of people are out of work, and debt repayment isn’t working.

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  7. Jeffrey ONeill says:


    I’m not sure if the warmer countries will have such a large energy advantage over colder countries. Depending how cold it is, the fact that humans tend to be able to deal with cooler temperatures that hot ones will increasingly be a disadvantage in warmer countries. Air-conditioning is just as energy intensive as heating is, and for a lot of countries they need to cool their buildings all year long to keep temperatures within a range that humans can be productive in.

    Another issue is the population density of warmer countries tends to be far higher than European ones, so it may be far harder for them to adjust?? They also tend to have currently less financial capacity to adopt to changes. If production capacity moves gradually that wont be such an issue, but for a lot of these countries to be able to absorb higher levels of manufacturing capacity they would need to invest large amounts of money in electricity networks / roads / ports.

    Finally, a lot of these warmer countries are way down on transparency indexes and high on corruption, so the cost advantages are nowhere near as high as they first look.

    Finally, I’d argue that if the richer countries are losing their ability to purchase goods and services, the need to build new manufacturing capacity warm countries will likely be minimal since most are mercantilist export oriented and follow the japan / korea / china model of keep internal consumption low. That may change over time, but then it’s a question of if their citizens can afford the products being produced.

    I don’t want to come off overly critical. I like the way you write and highlight the real issues we’re facing, but I just had issue with the way you sounded a bit too black and white with your argument over production moving to warmer climate countries when there are a lot of other variables involved.

    • Paul says:

      You seem to be suggesting the BAU model will continue after the SHTF…. I think what comes after will be akin to being bombed back to the stone age — there will be no ‘means of production’ that even remotely resembles what we have — nor government — nor offices that require AC…

      That’s what happens when oil no longer flows — when there is no longer a grid — there is no longer energy to extract minerals and refine them and turn them into useful products.

      At best there will be very local communities with agrarian based economies. I will take a warm climate with good rainfall levels over a place that has winter if given the choice

      Population is not an issue — because most people in most places will starve and die.

    • Jan Steinman says:

      “I’m not sure if the warmer countries will have such a large energy advantage over colder countries.”

      I think I agree with Jeffrey.

      I seem to recall someone’s analysis of the industriousness of warm versus cold climates — I think it was Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, but I can’t find the reference at the moment, nor anything germain in the book index.

      The premise was that colder climates increased the industriousness of populations, whereas warmer climates tended to make people more complacent and less industrious.

      Yours to take with lots of grains of salt… this colder-climate person certainly feels more industrious when the leaves change colours and I don’t have my firewood in yet…

      • Paul says:

        I think we need to keep in mind that ‘industrious’ required readily available energy…

        The easy to extract oil and coal that fueled the industrial revolution is gone — sticking a pipe into the ground to get oil is long over — hammering a coal seam and filling a bucket is no more.

        These days energy extraction is a high tech business aimed at the hard to reach fruit. When the SHTF that will end — and we will be in a far worse position than those pre 1800’s — because there will be no readily available energy sources.

        There will be plenty of scrap — but how would we recycle it without energy? We might burn trees — but as pointed out on earlier articles deforestation was becoming a problem before we started to burn coal.

        I am reading Arctic Dreams — and the author points out how herds of wild animals were nearly hunted to extinction well before modern man came on the scene… what will thousands of hungry people with hunting rifles do to the remaining animal populations?

        There is the saying that people in warmer climates did not develop much in the way of industry because they did not have to — they could easily grow an abundance of food year round. I think that food will be the issue going forward so I agree with Gail — warmer climates will have a huge advantage.

        However there remains the problem that even in warmer climates farming is industrial in nature — and anything associated with the word ‘industry’ is going to disappear when the cheap energy to drive it disappears.

        • InAlaska says:

          The only problem with the south is there are so damn many people living there. Soon to be hungry people…I prefer those wide open empty spaces in the north where there’s firewood aplenty for the few who make it through the first year. And year by year, the cold climate will be less cold as planetary warming really takes hold. Its already happening in my neighborhood.

          • Paul says:

            Given the choice I’d take interior BC and the mountains — but I was there last month and that short one crop max growing season concerns me… as does the population issue here.

            I am thinking that population is the lesser of the two problems because I suspect most people will just go catatonic and give up when their food runs out.

            It’s a very difficult call — inertia and the fact that I already have the land producing a lot of food here in Asia means we likely make our stand here.

            We dropped in another 60 banana plants + 20 or so more papaya in the past week… and just completed all the terracing and that will more than double what we can pull out of the entire space in the coming months.

            • InAlaska says:

              Hey Paul, congratulations on all your terracing and food production. Sounds like you’ve got a good thing going there. You’re right that its a hard call to make. At this point its probably too late to change our situations even if we wanted to. I’ve often thought about getting a retirement place somewhere down by Penticton, BC. Seems like its got a nice combination of climate and population, fruit and fish and game animals. Nice people too. Bali must be a wonderful food producing region.

            • Paul says:

              There’s a saying here ‘throw a box of toothpicks onto the ground and a few months later you’ll have a forest’

              Even I can get stuff to grow here (another thing that concerns me about BC — I am sure I would struggle to succeed as it is a lot more difficult to grow stuff there)

              That whole Okanagan area is good — but I am inclined towards the more remote frontier of the central Kootenay’s…

            • InAlaska says:

              Yeah, I have lots of crop failures here in central interior Alaska. Things are just harder to grow here to start with then if you make a mistake, you’re season is toast. Never been to the Kootenays before, but have looked at it on the map. I guess we’re the only two awake right now in OFWland.

            • Paul says:

              Just coming up on 330pm here so I’m up for a while yet heheh…. time for a cup of iced coconut water then it’s afternoon shift time out in the garden.

      • InAlaska says:

        Or the moose hanging in the meat shed, the fish in the freezer or the gallons of blueberries picked. Its making me industrious just thinking about it.

        Its hard not to imagine that the north can be as or more industrious than the south when it was in the north where the Maybe we NEED to be a little less industrious and give our planet a break.

      • Robin says:

        JP Rushton, Race Evolution and Behaviour. In cold countries they face major challenges of food over winter, hence complex societies predominate over traveller types. In Africa easy living alternates with famine droughts and plagues and consequently the fast breeders predominate over long-term investors. In china the means of cultivating rice in communally-organised paddies results in a far less individual culture hence they are so much less inventive than the whiteys.

    • John Doyle says:

      What may behind your criticism of warmer climes being less suitable for humans is simply one of “entitlement”. Instead of us adjusting to a different environment we bring our environment with us, so AC is everywhere these days. The buildings we build reflect the. They are not suitable without big energy inputs to the tropics. We will live happily in the tropics we just have to understand we cannot continue the way we are today. The world would be nowhere near the limit of exhaustion if we had based our lives there.
      It’s our western desire for growth that has us on the brink of ruin. let’s not forget that!

      • Paul says:

        Excellent points.

        I am in the tropics — I do not have AC – I use a fan but could live without that – most people here have nothing.

        Keep in mind many places in the tropics have siesta during the hottest part of the day.

        I believe the key going forward will be the ability to produce food – that means one crop in a cold climate – I can get 3 here in Bali.

        I am sure people can make do in the north or south — it will just be more difficult

        • InAlaska says:

          I think you’re right, Paul. North or south, the people who make it through the Great Starvation of the first year, stand an excellent chance of making a comfortable enough living among the scraps and leavings of the dead and gone world. There will be so much useful stuff lying around to be had for the taking, that even recycling won’t be necessary for decades or longer. For example, how many hammers exist in the world. We won’t go all the way back to the stone age as long as there are millions of steel hammers lying around and millions of axles with metal wheels and rubber tires attached to them. Steel axes, plows, woodstoves, etc. etc. etc. For those who are left, the dead and gone world will provide a smorashboard of stuff to make life easier. Now if only the damn climate will cooperate.

          • er—I don’t want to disillusion you, but recycling metal needs heat.
            Reworking ferrous metal needs charcoal (ie trees) The industrial revolution kicked off in 1709 because we were running out of wood to make iron.
            Exactly what can be done in industrial terms, with a rubber tyre escapes me for the moment—especially when it comes to making life easier?
            I hope we can go on using metal tools, but I would point out that since mankind became a tool user, in general terms he has used them in 2 basic ways—to improve his own life—or destroy somebody else’s

            • InAlaska says:

              EOM, my point was that the survivors/inheritors of the post manufacturing world won’t need to recycle, at least not much, because everything they could possibly want will have already been manufactured and will be lying around to be picked up and used. Why would they need to recycle the metal from an old car to make, say an axe, when there are millions of axes already in existence and will be so for quite some time.

          • Alaska—It is not in man’s nature to sit outside a shelter and bash things with hammers—he will attempt to ‘create’ or re create. Remember that knowledge will not be lost, just the means.
            He will want to do more than bang things and cut things, because he will know that such things are possible
            You might have all the basic hand tools in your possession, but what exactly would you do with them?
            Seems tools give you a choice: to adapt nature to aid our own survival, (food clothing etc)
            make something to trade, to help your survival, (Blacksmithing etc)
            or forcibly acquire something that someone is unwilling to give/trade. (weapons)
            My point being that hitting things with hammers must have a purpose.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “Remember that knowledge will not be lost, just the means.”

              How can you be certain?

              Surely, when the disks stop spinning, these conversations will be lost!

              I have a huge soft library of PDF books. That too will be lost when the disks stop spinning.

              I have a number of physical books, but there is a lot that can happen to them, as well. The next generation may not be able to read, for example, and books may be end up being used as fuel.

              It seems to me that our reliance on extrinsic knowledge is a fragile thing. My money’s on the cockroach, which has its knowledge self-replicated through DNA. I don’t know of any books that can do that before they turn yellow and brittle.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear Jan and Others
              I don’t deny that a lot of things might disappear. And while I think it is worthwhile to insure that our basic needs can be met by very low technologies, I can also appreciate what technology can do for us today.

              As one example, my daughter in Portland, OR raises chickens and ducks in her yard. She has struggled with predators over the last couple of years Her chicken and duck houses, which began as primitive structures, have evolved in the arms race with raccoons, possums, skunks, snakes, etc. Her latest acquisition is a solar powered gate opener. It is a box which contains a PV panel on the exterior, with a battery, a clock, and an opening mechanism inside the box. You seldom open the box for any reason. You put two magnets on the outside of the metal box where you want the gate to open and where you want the gate to close. As the seasons change, you move the magnets. The whole thing was less than 300 dollars. Having the device frees her up from having to always be at home when the gate needs to be opened or closed.

              A second example is the Apple Book E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. It is designed for use as a high school biology textbook. It is available free, thanks to a foundation. I can only say that biology wasn’t taught this way when I went to high school. I think it is a magnificent accomplishment. The integration of video and animations right into the text should accelerate learning considerably.

              Ugo Bardi’s blog entry today bemoans ‘overshoot’ in technology. One of his exhibits is the smart phone. I agree that smart phones can be used for pretty useless purposes, and that overuse of smart phones can have bad repercussions. On the other hand, I saw first hand how smart phones made the running of a small farm more efficient. If there was a downside, it was that the five or six people who worked at the farm tended to ask the farmer for instructions instead of taking responsibility themselves. Five or six years ago, when nobody had smart phones, people would decide, experience either good results or bad results, and learn something. I fear that constantly asking for instructions makes the intern process less productive. On the other hand, I have been working side by side with the farmer many times when he took calls from restaurants or suppliers and sold and bought products for the farm…without all the telephone tag or driving around town needlessly.

              I have seen many instances on this blog where those who are convinced that collapse is going to happen next week, or at least next month, are eager to deny that technology does any good things at all. I hope these examples give a more nuanced view.

              Don Stewart

            • Paul says:

              In the meantime I see no reason why anyone would not continue to use BAU tools — I continue to dump truckloads of manure so we can stockpile compost — and I have purchased quite a few duplicates of many hand tools — anything that softens the blow a little.

              Forgoing the modern conveniences and comforts we enjoy would be pointless so may as well dance while the music plays

            • Jan
              we will have the knowledge of how to make an internal combustion engine, but not the means to make one.
              The steam engine didnt become practical on a large scale until we smelted iron in cheap quantities.
              If we cant make heat engines, then we are stuck using cold implements, ultimately sticks and stones

            • Paul says:

              Agree — but as someone pointed out — there are a lot of ‘hammers’ and other tools around — and there will not be too many people left — so initially we probably don’t quite go back to the stone age

              Most will not take much solace in that — but it’s the best silver lining I can think of…

        • the great civilisations arose roughly in the regions of the tropics around the world, that should tell you a lot about the chances of large scale survival in the colder north or south

      • InAlaska says:

        Yes. Who said we need to work a 40 hour week anyway? In the hot countries they had a very civilized 20 hour work week and a 2-3 hour siesta in the hottest part of the day. I like that kind of industriousness.

        • John Doyle says:

          That’s what I mean. Here in Aus the aborigines were industrious for half the day and took time off for the remainder. They thought it very odd that the newcomers worked all day. Just shows they can still our “superior races” something useful!

          • I would suggest that they were not ‘industrious’ in industrial terms. Once you’ve gathered enough to eat and sustain you and your family for the day, there’s no point in doing more particularly in a warm climate
            Unfortunately we chose to build houses, roads, police, schools, armies and so on. So instead of producing sufficient unto the day–we have to support all those extras. But still the myth persists that we need only work 20 hours a week, why not 10? why work at all?
            We get away with working a 40 hour week because hydrocarbon energy adds power to provide everything we want, or think we want.
            One must assume that extolling the virtues of the aboriginal lifestyle means that we can do without the list of above ‘civilised’ assets.
            There persists a totally blinkered outlook on why we can exist in the way that we do. That somehow we have a choice in the matter. Oil lets you be lazy, at least till it runs out, After that, it will be interesting to see how successful the aboriginal lifestyle is for 7 billion people. http://tinyurl.com/oa854gt

            • VPK says:

              How many people would be in the world if we let those under say about 30 years of age live and the rest of us kick the bucket. Seems fair to me, since we already had the taste of the riches that will no longer be there in the future.
              Find it amusing all the fossil fuel energy expended by those preparing for the “fall” to save their own hides, after admitting of a population crash. Why is it they should be entitled to be one of the few remaining? Suppose we will have another “Chapter” of the Bible concerning the chosen people!

            • Paul says:

              One might turn that around and criticize those who selfishly had kids after the Limits to Growth study was published — who knew full well yet ignored what was coming — have caused this problem for the youth of today.

              But try telling someone it is selfish to have kids….

              At the end of the day nothing is fair — if anyone has the foresight to attempt to compensate for what is to come — then they will be more likely to live.

              Those with their faces buried in Facebook — watching Dancing with Stars — desiring to ‘live large’ — and laughing at anyone who might point out that this is going to end badly….

              All I can say is good luck to that — I made a conscious decision not to have kids primarily because of the fact that they would likely end up suffering and probably dying because of the exact limitations we are hitting now.

              Personally I intend to try to go on as long as I can — if the 30 somethings want to make 40 — they might do their best to emulate some of the wiser owls on this forum…

            • John Doyle says:

              See if you can locate the video of Bill Moyers interview with Isaac Asimov, in the 1990’s I think.
              In it he says population growth will cause the loss of all the norms we live for today.
              It’s quoted in Al Bartletts video;

            • Paul says:

              Excerpt – see p. 56 onwards for more:

              As an illustration of the commonality
              of energy, imagine filling the tank
              of a car with one gallon of gasoline,
              driving it until the fuel runs out,
              and then paying someone to push
              it back to the start-point. The ability
              of this person to do this depends, of
              course, upon sufficiency of nutrition,
              itself an energy equation. Obviously
              enough, the energy contained in food
              is converted by the human being into
              a capability for work, is exhausted, and
              requires continuous replacement. But
              this process is a circular one, in that the
              cultivation of food is a process which
              itself requires energy inputs, be they
              the labour of human beings (most
              simply in planting and harvesting), the
              labour of animals, the employment of
              machinery or the direct use of energy
              inputs such as fertilizers.

              The exercise of putting one gallon of
              fuel into a car, driving it until the fuel
              runs out and paying someone to push
              it back to the start-point also illustrates
              the huge difference between the price
              of energy and its value in terms of
              work done.

              According to the US Energy
              Information Administration
              ,one (US) gallon of gasoline equates to
              124,238 BTU of energy, which in turn
              corresponds to 36.4 kwh

              Since one hour of human physical labour
              corresponds to between 74 and 100
              watts, the labour-equivalent of the
              gasoline is in the range 364 to 492
              hours of work. Taking the average of
              these parameters (428 hours), and
              assuming that the individual is paid
              $15 per hour for this strenuous and
              tedious activity, it would cost $6,420
              to get the car back to the start-point.

              On this rough approximation, then, a
              gallon of fuel costing $3.50 generates
              work equivalent to between $5,460
              and $7,380 of human labour.

              One could come to a similarly-
              leveraged calculation of the energy
              cost-to-price mismatch by measuring
              the cost of employing workers
              pedalling dynamo-connected exercise
              bicycles to generate the energy
              used by electrical appliances in the
              typical Western home, and then
              comparing the result with the
              average electricity bill.
              the great breakthroughs –
              agriculture and the heat-engine

              The development of society and of the
              economy is, in reality, a story of how
              mankind overcame the limitations
              imposed by the energy equation. In
              the pre-agrarian, hunter-gatherer era
              (which lasted for at least 40,000 years),
              there was an approximate energy
              balance, in that the energy which
              each person derived from his food
              was roughly equivalent to the energy
              that he or she expended in finding
              or catching that food.

              Put simply, there was no energy surplus, and
              consequently no society. Each person
              had to be self-sufficient, or perish.

              The first of the two great breakthroughs
              in human development was the
              discovery of agriculture. Farming seems
              to have begun in the “fertile crescent”,
              an area which stretched from the Upper
              Nile through modern-day Lebanon,
              Israel and Syria to the basins of the
              Tigris and the Euphrates in what is now
              Iraq, and to the upper coastal regions
              on both sides of the Persian Gulf.

              This region is also known as “the cradle
              of civilisation”. Evidence of cultivated
              grain suggests that the transition from
              a hunter-gatherer to an agrarian way
              of life may first have occurred in about
              9,500BC, though millennia were to
              elapse before some of the staples of
              organised agriculture (such as crop
              rotation and the domestication of
              animals) were discovered.

              From an economic standpoint, the
              significance of the development of
              agriculture lay in the liberation of
              surplus energy. If twenty individuals or
              family units could now be supported
              by the labour of nineteen, the
              twentieth was freed to undertake…


            • VPK says:

              Paul lays blame on the parents that selfishly gave life to children as a justification to extent his own life as long as possible. As if the “sins” of the parents are those of their offspring.
              Yes, indeed, Paul, I suppose it IS the WAY ONE LOOKS at it.
              I, too, made a determined decision not to have children also. What of it? Does it place me in a special place of selection? At the end is there fairness? Are we to blame someone? Perhaps only God and small children are in that realm.
              One function of “society” is to establishment of “fairness”.
              Paul, you and I won the lottery in human existence. Nothing can hurt us now. Sometimes one must recognize that it is time to depart from the ship.

            • Paul says:

              No offense intended towards those with kids…. although I am sure some will be taken…

              So be it — I have endured plenty of criticism over the years for my decision not to father children and was called a Cassandra… and probably an idiot or worse behind my back…

              if you revisit my comment I was taking a different perspective on the initial comment (I could come up with many perspectives from which to view this situation for which I think I could put forward convincing arguments)

              I can’t remember the entire dialogue but if I recall I took that angle to point out how absurd it was that anyone should shoulder the blame for this — and that address the rhetoric that those of us over 30 should somehow step aside for the generation that did not have a chance.

              If the ‘Millenials’ or whatever we call the new generations these days —- want a chance —- then they need to get their faces out of their smartphones — stop checking every 30 seconds to see who has ‘liked’ their photos or whatever other useless things it is they do on Facebook…

              If they want a chance to come out the other end of this then it is up to them to see this for what it is — and do something about it.

              Because nobody is going to step aside and help them along — not mommy — not daddy —not the government — not even an aid agency ….

              And that goes for everyone else who is in denial about what is coming — in spite of overwhelming evidence (how many people are seeing that Guardian article??? — or that Homeland security is getting ready to go to war against YOU???) almost every last person is doing absolutely nothing.

              Which raises the question — why do we bother with trying to inform people of what is coming?

              Might I suggest it is because we are trying warn them that a train is roaring towards them — so that they might consider stepping aside…. yet they giggle like little children… and frolick on the tracks choosing to remain in oblivion.

              Do we owe the younger generation anything? Nope. Do we owe any generation anything. Nope.

              Should we blame anyone for this outcome — not really – although i could make a strong case against Norman Borlaug

              Very little is ever fair in life. If I had an IQ of 170 — but was born to a crack smoking whore in Detroit — where would I be now? No – it’s definitely not fair.

              We need to get over this feeling of entitlement — as was pointed out in this article …. the only way we were ever able to deliver on entitlements was because of cheap energy — and that is gone.

              I am reading Arctic Dreams — and I am amazed at how the animals and people survived in that harsh environment – on their wits, instincts, and sheer brute will.

              Big parallels with what is coming …. we are about to return to the ‘jungle’ — and the unprepared and weak will not get a chance.

              Sentimentality will have no place in such a world. Harsh – but true.

            • InAlaska says:

              Paul, I read Arctic Dreams when I moved to Fairbanks in 1992. It is one of the finest natural history meditations that I have ever found. It was one of the things that inspired me to make my home here. I just got back from 10 days on an arctic river in the ANWR. Astounding place still full of wild creatures and essentially untouched by industrial man.

            • Paul says:

              I had the opportunity to traverse the North West Passage starting in Resolute Bay a few years ago on an exploration ship — one motivation was that I had just read a book about a Hudson’s Bay trapper who was quite a character…

              I was interested to see the region before the we destroyed it — and also if the native communities had retained much in the way of ancient traditions.

              The scenery and the wildlife were incredible — however it was very disappointing to see the condition of the native people — they had very much lost their way as we push them to modernize and be part of our culture — yet they are unable to adapt — often because of racism… so now there is no going back and no going forward… which of course often results in unhappiness and substance abuse.

              As evidence of this failure to understand these people most of the others on the boat had the attitude of ‘we have done everything for you people and look at you’ — one native women who had a degree from an Ontario university stepped on that and said ‘we were doing quite well before you stepped to do everything for us — and let’s not forget that the original explorers to this region were like children — they would have died without our help’

              I felt I had to add to that with a comment that — perhaps giving people things is well intentioned but that never ends well does it — if the Canadian govt had given any one of us say $2000 per month free money — would we be on this ship? Now imagine the tables were turned and you had to live in a native community — how do you think you would deal with that? One thing would be different – rather than encountering racism mockery and abuse — the native community would almost certainly be welcoming and helpful to we idiots who wouldn’t last a day in the far north without help.

              Anyway – it was quite clear that ne’er the twain shall meet — as is usually the case with people who are unable or unwilling to ‘walk in the other person’s shoes’

              Magnificent land — magnificent book — I’d really like to visit again — but I suspect that is not going to be possible.

              Oh — when I mentioned the Hudson’s Bay fellow to a few of the old timers in the villages even though he has been dead for decades — they knew him well — he had left a trail of children throughout the north… quite the character indeed…

            • InAlaska says:

              Its a pretty hopeless situation with Native folks here with drugs, booze, welfare, dependency, sexual abuse of women and children, fetal alcohol syndrome, and more. Yet, still there are a few bright spots. With the high cost of energy in the roadless communities there are still a few traditional villages where dog mushing, fishing and hunting still abide. Perhaps a few who remember will make it through.

            • Paul says:

              Was this a guided tour? I’d like to get back to the canadian arctic but the flight rates are insane ($7000 or more!) unless you have a group like we did last time (even then I recall 2000).

              I am wondering of alaska might be an easier option if this holds together long enough to be able to get there…

            • InAlaska says:

              Heaven’s no. I’ve been banging around up here long enough to do these kind of trips on my own. We hired a bushplane (friend of ours), borrowed an NRS raft (from other friends) and went out on our own for 10 days. Every family should do it. We basically gave the kids a full immersion backcountry Alaska survival course that was fun, too. Good for family unity. Also getting out into the natural world really helps me reset my optimism clock. It always helps to see the natural world operating as it should without a bunch of us mucking the place up. As the human world faded away and we fell into “river time” it was hard to imagine collapse.

            • InAlaska says:

              You could do it, Paul. The flight in was about $2500.00US and then we floated north until we hit the trans-Alaska pipeline and drove back on the service road. You’d have to be willing to drive alot. We put 1200 miles on the truck to do it.

            • Paul says:

              Thanks – might look at this next summer — if it is still possible of course…

  8. Pingback: Oil: Primary Energy Source for the Human Social CAS | thePOOG

  9. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    Few notes about the internet and it’s failure to solve most problems.

    Let’s begin with the article about Barbara Fredrickson in The Sun:


    I won’t try to summarize or dissect all the points she makes. But I believe that she highlights the problems with relying on the internet as a medium which can materially help with fundamental issues. For example, those who believe that human happiness is all about continued exponential expansion of the economy and the use of energy from non-solar sources, versus those who subscribe to a more biology based notion that happiness is the normal state of an organism that is living as Mother Nature designed it to live in the environment it evolved in. Or those who see ‘survival of the fittest’ as the sole test versus those who see ‘love’ (as Fredrickson describes it) as the ultimate goal, versus those who see humans as conflicted between the solitary and the social with no unambiguous formula for balancing the two.

    There are a number of useful references besides the Fredrickson article:
    *The book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir

    *The book Life on Earth, by E.O. Wilson and others. Available for free download from Apple Books.

    *. Geoff Lawton’s comment in an interview with Paul Wheaton that the solution to many of the world’s problems is the discovery of Abundance, once people focus on the important things and learn the skills necessary to achieve them. (This is what I would call a biologically based answer to the happiness question.)

    Just a few comments to weave them together a little. One cannot read Life on Earth without being impressed by the skill with which Mother Nature provides for our needs. For example, ATP molecules are the main source of energy for our cells. These molecules are used and reused hundreds of times each day, being reconstituted after each use. Photosynthesis produces ATP which powers our cells which maintain an internal environment which is quite distinct from the external environment (not in equilibrium). The disequilibrium is necessary for life as we know it, and cannot be maintained with energy. This system works entirely without our knowledge (until modern science made discoveries) and without our help…although we can mess it up.

    I think Geoff Lawton would include the workings of ATP and the other marvelous mechanisms which constitute Life as part of his Abundance equation. These are free gifts of Nature. Then Geoff would go on to add that we need to learn the skills of harvesting water, producing food, and making shelters and living in an emotional world such as Barbara Fredrickson describes. Then we have Abundance everywhere. Fossil fuels and industrial civilization may help a little, but not very much. Fossil fuels and industrial civilization can also do enormous damage.

    The Scarcity book details just how scarcity distorts our feelings and thinking. If we perceive that we have a scarcity of fossil fuels, then we will stray farther and farther from Lawton’s ideal and our feelings and behaviors will become more and more dysfunctional.

    Let’s suppose that I am sitting talking with someone. We discuss this and that, and finally begin to trade stories about how we are trying to bring more harmony and happiness into our lives. Now make a leap of faith and assume that Don Stewart is an accomplished Lovingkindness practitioner. Perhaps the other person’s idea is to ‘get closer to God’. Well…that’s not my idea. In person, I am far more likely to behave like the heroine in Cold Comfort Farm. If you have never seen that marvelous movie, you should make a point of it. A young woman comes to a run-down farm and succeeds in transforming the lives of the people she meets by helping them discover and achieve their goals. On the Internet, we would more likely engage in a shouting match, or just refuse to listen to each other. I think Fredrickson is right about the need for face to face contact.

    On the Internet the tendency is to pound on what we perceive to be wrong about the other person’s position. In face to face, we tend more to recognize the reality: two fallible humans searching for something they perceive rather dimly, are living in very different circumstances, have different capabilities and assets, and are starting from different physical and intellectual positions.

    The Internet is good for some things. For example, a fruit farmer in Quebec participated with a local photographer in putting together a show and tell on his innovative orchard. They are selling downloads and DVDs for 25 to 50 dollars. From what I hear, they give excellent advice in a beautiful presentation. This is preaching to the choir. Monsanto executives will definitely not be watching this, nor will senior officials in the Agriculture Department or most of the Land Grant colleges. If you could persuade the Monsanto, Dept of Ag, and Land Grant profs to eat one of his plums right off the tree…would it make any difference? Probably more difference than will ever be made by exchanges on the Internet.

    In summary, I suspect that the Internet is mostly useful for fine tuning practices and attitudes and beliefs which already exist. I don’t think it is very useful in building cooperation and good will between people who, while trying to achieve the same fundamental goal, are pursuing different methods. Nor do I think it is very good as a method for getting people to address their fundamental assumptions about the way things have to be.

    Don Stewart

    • Robin says:

      I disagree, albeit not too absolutely.
      On the internet I meet people who are capable and willing to discuss important things, mixed in with a proportion of loons riding their one-track hobbyhorses and other loons delighting in their liberty to make public a-holes of themselves without need to persuade editors first.
      In the “real world” outside of the internet I meet only people who are “too busy” to discuss important things, people who are “too busy” to discuss important things, and people who are “too busy” to discuss important things.

  10. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail
    One more interesting thing in the Lawton/ Wheaton conversation. The discussion turns to Portland, OR vs. a sub-tropical location. Geoff says that Portland is probably better than the subtropics because Portland gets a lot of filtered sunshine rather than the blazing sun of the sub-tropics.

    I have posted here the advantages of using shade-cloth, or certain types of trees which make open shade, for precisely this reason. In direct, bright sunshine plant temperatures can climb into the range where they have to stop photosynthesizing…they will look wilty. A person today can learn a lot by building some simple supports and using shade cloth, which is lightweight spun fabric. In a ‘black Friday’ collapse, shade cloth would become unavailable. So the person would have a couple of years to come up with an alternative. One is to make bamboo shades which allow about half the sun light through. Tie the shades together with vines (Robinson Crusoe like) and drive tree limbs with forks into the ground and simply lay them on the forks to hold them up.

    In a ‘black Friday’ scenario, one is likely to have plenty to do besides worrying about bamboo shades, so having some shade cloth, knowing from experience what to do with it and when, is likely to pay big dividends.

    This is a ‘gardening’ approach rather than a 40 acres of corn approach.

    Don Stewart

  11. Don Stewart says:

    Here is some more information about urban permaculture, from a rambling conversation between Geoff Lawton and Paul Wheaton

    Lawton addresses the issue of ‘how much land does it take to feed one person’? Using Biointensive methods, not very much. Geoff also talks about the abundance of resource flows in urban areas, and how those resources can be captured and composted. This is a point he has made frequently in his videos. One can gather carbon simply by going out on trash day and picking up cardboard and newspapers from the neighbors. Carbon is extremely valuable, and is mostly just thrown away….although commercial composters are changing that to some extent. He also talks about using the built environment, such as houses or sheds, to control the environment…as, for example, giving shade against the hot late afternoon sun.

    Your manicured lawn may end up looking like a junk yard from all the scavenged stuff, but your plants will love it.

    He covers these topics pretty early on. Then they veer off into other topics (e.g., the third ethic) which are tangential to your main concerns.

    I will point out that the flow of boxes today is a tidal wave. If the US experiences a ‘black Friday’ collapse, then the flow of boxes and newspapers will also collapse. If you already have carbon rich soil, all you have to do is maintain it with things such as leaves and branches from trees and bushes. But if the flow of carbon rich trash in the cities and suburbs crashes, then building carbon in your soil becomes far more problematic. Today, the electric company trims trees and dumps wood chips not far from my house. So I have all the carbon rich wood chips I can haul. In a ‘black Friday’ scenario, the electric company goes away, they don’t do tree trimming, and nobody turns the tree limbs into wood chips.

    The Biointensive estimates of productivity are probably on the high side in a ‘black Friday’ scenario because resources which are free, or practically so, today would become unavailable. Still, I think that the ways of thinking and the skills learned would be invaluable in a real collapse. As well as the accumulation of capital in the form of rich soil.

    Don Stewart

  12. VPK says:

    On on the Kurdland front, new developments:
    Gasoline stocks in the Kurdish region are running low, requiring rationing and hourslong waits for a fill-up. Hundreds of thousands of civil servants have gone months without a paycheck after Baghdad cut payments to the regional government in retaliation for its exporting oil without permission.
    As soon as Barzani made that threat and Netanyahu and Shimon Peres echoed that, you heard Turkey say they do not want an independent state in Kurdistan, and the United States saying that as well,” Mr. Goldwyn said. “So I think the K.R.G.’s future lies in a strong economic relationship with Turkey, and if Turkey is opposed to independence, then independence will not produce the outcome they seek.”

    There are signs, however, that the talk of a referendum on independence may have been a bargaining tactic. On Thursday, top Kurdish officials visited Washington, suggesting that they were still willing to consider a political settlement that would keep the region within a unified Iraq in exchange for more autonomy and more concessions on oil.

    • Interguru says:

      I wonder why there is such widespread attention and support for the Palestinians’ aspirations and almost none for the Kurds, who were also promised a state.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear Interguru
        I think the lack of support for the Kurds is traceable to several root causes:
        1. Kurdistan stretches across Iran, Turkey, and Iraq. All three oppose the creation of a Kurdish state.
        2. The ‘West’ invested a tremendous amount of PR, money, and deaths in the project of ‘liberating’ Iraq. I think that the politicians find it very distasteful to admit that Iraq was just an arbitrary state whose lines were drawn on a map. What did all that investment accomplish?
        3. The US has invested in overthrowing secular rulers such as Saddam and the guy in Syria. It doesn’t like to admit that the replacement will be some sort of fundamentalist religious regime which won’t be fundamentalist Christians (which might be OK). You won’t find much in the MSM about the degradation of conditions in Iraq since we overthrew him. Of course it’s all better! We are the US, after all.
        4. Why doesn’t the US support the aspirations of the ethnic Russians who are stuck on the wrong side of the boundary in eastern and southern Ukraine? If you look at US actions around the globe, you have to conclude that it’s all about US…what the people who live there want is mostly irrelevant, unless a breakup suits out purposes. I expect the US would support Siberian Separatism, if there was such a thing. There were rumblings about it in DC a decade a so ago.

        Don Stewart

        • Creedon says:

          According to Global research the Iranians, Russians, and Syrians are fighting the Sunni take over of Iraq while we have become very hesitant to do anything. They also state that we are likely to ultimately loose the struggle in the Ukraine which will be an irreversible set back for the west and bring about a unipolar world which is already in the process of happening.

            • Dave Ranning says:

              Only from a neoliberal point of view.
              If you make your box a bit larger, the view will change.

          • Robin says:

            The arms trade (Military Industrial Complex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY ) wins in ALL wars. They need new wars like a vampire needs new blood to suck. The UK parliament did something useful for the first time in its history and wrong-footed Hypocrite Obama on his pretend red lines. The arms trade then reckoned to find its next feeding source via the murderous neo-Nazis of western Ukraine. And destabilising Russia’s economic and physical neighbour too, hardly anything Putin & Co would want. The arms trade see a “failed state” as an income stream and don’t care about losing the battle for hearts and minds because they always win the war for profits in the meantime. Especially with peace-prize poodles pretending to be presidents.

          • Thinking of the middle east in general as an unstable region, (due to many factors–religion–overpopulation–oil wars etc) and how little it takes to trigger insurrection, a little noticed news item slipped by over the weekend, that Egypt has removed fuel subsidies, resulting in diesel rising by 76%.
            Considering that half the population is living below the poverty line already, and food production is maintained mostly by diesel driven pumps providing irrigation water, one can only await the inevitable tipping of the next middle east domino, as the Egyptians find that they cant afford to eat

  13. Paul says:

    Recall on an earlier article US foreign was discussed — with some indicating that the US was a doer of good around the world….

    U.S. foreign aid is expected to promote poverty alleviation and facilitate developmental growth in impoverished countries. Yet, corporations and special interest groups have permeated even the most well-intended of U.S. policies.

    El Salvador is a recent example of corporate domination in U.S. foreign aid. The United States will withhold the Millennium Challenge Compact aid deal, approximately $277 million in aid, unless El Salvador purchases genetically-modified seeds from biotech giant, Monsanto.

    The Millennium Challenge Corporation is “a U.S. foreign aid agency that was created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004,” according to Sustainable Pulse, and serves as a conduit for foreign aid funds. MCC’s unethical aid conditions would force El Salvador to purchase controversial seeds from the American biotech corporation instead of purchasing non-GMO seeds from the country’s local farmers – an action that would have negative effects on El Salvador’s agricultural industry in addition to presenting serious health and environmental risks.

    The conditional foreign aid from MCC is an attempt to break into El Salvador’s non-GMO agricultural sector and exploit the food market. Because El Salvador has high food insecurity, it imports 85% of its food. This allows U.S. foreign aid organizations to take advantage of the dire need for their own monetary gain. The United States used similar aid policies in Haiti to force open Haiti’s agricultural market for U.S. food products – effectively destroying Haiti’s agricultural economy and creating an overreliance on food aid.

    Due to powerful lobbying by corporate giants like Monsanto, in addition to the shipping and agricultural industries, the U.S. government’s foreign aid program has become an encroaching business. Just when the U.S. foreign aid program couldn’t appear to be more corrupt, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, U.S. Congress, and Monsanto have raised the bar.

    Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/07/who-is-foreign-aid-for-foreigners-or-us.html#uUpefc6Ckec4KUI1.99

    • Christian says:

      I talked yesterday to a hi tech ag pro and he is fully aware his three kids will live in a rough world, recalling Soylent Green. Many people does, while they don’t realize the timing nor softening paths

  14. VPK says:

    This JUST in the WORLD is AWASHED in OIl and NEW technology will set it FREE:
    Paul looks like more and more we are going to have that 10-20 years of BAU.
    and they said there was NO Santa Claus!

    Rapidly advancing technologies are opening up astonishing sources of oil and gas all over the world. We are entering a new era of fossil fuels that is reshaping global economics and politics—and the planet

    The widely circulated fears of a few years ago that we were approaching “peak oil” have turned out to be completely wrong. From the Arctic to Africa, nanoengineered materials, underwater robots, side-scanning 3-D sonar, specially engineered lubricants, and myriad other advances are opening up titanic new supplies of fossil fuels, many of them in unexpected places—Brazil, Australia, and, perhaps most significantly, North America. “Contrary to what most people believe,” declares a recent study from the Harvard Kennedy School, “oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption.”

    hich brings us to the biggest unknown of all: what this new era means for our rapidly warming planet. More hydrocarbons burned on the ground means more carbon in the atmosphere, which means nastier storms, a melted Arctic, rising seas, emerging diseases, and the rest of the dismal, all-too-familiar litany.

    Even industry execs acknowledge that. “There’s enough oil and gas out there to last us right through to the end of the next century, without much doubt,” says David Eyton, head of research and technology at BP. The real problem, Eyton says, is that “we are running out of the carbon-carrying capacity of the atmosphere.”

    • Paul says:

      Here we go again ….

      Nobody is disputing there is a lot of oil left — roughly half of all oil on the planet is still in the ground.

      The problem is not that we are running out — it is that we are running out of the oil that can be found and extracted cheaply.

      According to the OECD Economics Department and the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices. http://www.iea.org/textbase/npsum/high_oil04sum.pdf

      THE PERFECT STORM (see p. 59 onwards)
      The economy is a surplus energy equation, not a monetary one, and growth in output (and in the global population) since the Industrial Revolution has resulted from the harnessing of ever-greater quantities of energy. But the critical relationship between energy production and the energy cost of extraction is now deteriorating so rapidly that the economy as we have known it for more than two centuries is beginning to unravel. http://ftalphaville.ft.com/files/2013/01/Perfect-Storm-LR.pdf

      • VPK says:

        The problem is not that we are running out — it is that we are running out of the oil that can be found and extracted cheaply
        Do NOT assume that the” Masters” will not approve a “method” to do just that Paul.
        Extract “cheaply”, and it depends on how one defines “cheap”. Many have expressed surprise on the creativeness of the “System”, especially in regard to “creative accounting”.
        My hunch is thy have a few more “tricks” up their sleeve that will preserve their world for a little while longer.

        • John Doyle says:

          Even if the oil figures are true and that we still have cheap oil for decades to come, it is really bad news.
          Bad because a shortage of oil is only one of the many resource peaks we have to deal with, like soils, fisheries,etc. Exponential growth BaU will condemn us regardless of the oil supply. But cheap oil will make us ignore the threat to our survival for longer and longer., making a catastrophe more and more inevitable.

          • VPK says:

            True enough, but in the end today’s Masters can not live forever….the great equalizer

    • Paul says:


      We interrupt Dancing with Stars to bring you this news flash from the planet Mars where Curiosity has discovered a gigantic pool of oil on the dark side of the planet. More detailed measurements are currently underway but David Eyton, head of research and technology at BP has indicated that preliminary indications are the the pool contains more oil than the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans combined.

      Eyton commented on the find saying “we have enough oil here to last us for at least 500 years – BP is building 1000 intergallactic super tankers that fly at the speed of light to Mars to load the oil and deliver it to our Texas refineries — the first tankers will be completed within 6 months and the oil will start arriving in Q1 2015”

      BP indicated the price per barrel to make this project feasible was $1000.

      According to the OECD Economics Department and the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices. http://www.iea.org/textbase/npsum/high_oil04sum.pdf

      THE PERFECT STORM (see p. 59 onwards)
      The economy is a surplus energy equation, not a monetary one, and growth in output (and in the global population) since the Industrial Revolution has resulted from the harnessing of ever-greater quantities of energy. But the critical relationship between energy production and the energy cost of extraction is now deteriorating so rapidly that the economy as we have known it for more than two centuries is beginning to unravel. http://ftalphaville.ft.com/files/2013/01/Perfect-Storm-LR.pdf

  15. In the Cheap Seats says:

    I just picked up the latest National Geographic magazine and read the article about Africa being the new Breadbasket of the World…how large corporate and corporate/government interests are buying huge wants of African farmland to convert into U.S.-style high-tech, highly mechanized monoculture factory farms. In some places, small farmers are being run off their family plots. The article is hopeful that this transformation of African agriculture will be the trick that allows 9-10 Billion people to be fed in the future, while raising incomes of Africans and bringing them modern infrastructure such as lots of asphalt roads and concrete buildings.

    Please scroll past the opening splash screens to read the text of the article.


    Africa seems to be the Baaken and Eagle Ford of global agriculture…ag production will go up and up and up…until one day, the FF inputs to the mechanized farming become incredibly expensive and limited in volume…then the African’s will be left with lots of inappropriate crumbling infrastructure and greatly deleted soils. The next and final wave of Afri-imperialism by the World has begun.

    I wonder how this will affect, one way or the other, the fertility rate of the folks in Africa? I an only hope they will emulate Japan while they have the chance before the great depletion becomes manifest.

    It will all be great…until it isn’t.

    • Thanks! I have that magazine as well, but hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet. I wonder where the cheap fuel to do all of this development will come from?

      • John Doyle says:

        It won’t. it’s just a pipe dream. Maybe it could be like the cotton plantations of the 19th century.

      • In the Cheap Seats says:

        You are spot-on…where will all the FF come from to power the industrialized farm machinery, and the processing and transportation of the food? And also for the fertilizers, pesticide, herbicides, and fungicides? The article even talked about the large corporate interests wanting to produce bio-fuels.

        The article was silent about water resources (!) Not only will natural watersheds be drained, but fossil water as well. The industrial farming runoff will present another problem.

        The article mentioned that much of the land under consideration has incredibly rich soils…I wonder how long it will take for industrial farming to deplete these to low-quality soils?

        Gail, you and other were correct in saying that although things that can’t last forever will eventually stop, these things may last a lot longer than people think. I am afraid that the sum total of this African industrial ag exploitation and all the the other ‘final frontiers of the Earth’ schemes (trillions of #$ of minerals in Afghanistan!, etc). will serve to extend BAU longer than we think, at the price of a much higher population which will experience a much more profound crash, and a World depleted of its former biodiversity.

  16. Leo Smith says:

    Gail: time to get some books on dynamic theory.

    You are of course getting to be absolutely right. Economists dont do maths – not the clever stuff.

    Neither do (most) scientists.

    I have said it before and I’ll repeat it here. There are two sorts of scientists: Those that understand system analysis and chaos mathematics., and those that believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    Its a moot point as to whether application of inadequate analytic tools is in fact more dangerous and worse than no application of analysis at all.

    • “Its a moot point as to whether application of inadequate analytic tools is in fact more dangerous and worse than no application of analysis at all.”

      What I need besides more books is more hours in the day.

      I did find this chapter in a book, talking somewhat at dynamic theory. http://www.iub.edu/~cogdev/labwork/handbook.pdf In this case, the discussion is primarily about human development. What a deaf child learns to see is different from what a hearing child learns to see, because of the way the system automatically tries to compensate for problems.

  17. CTG says:

    Guys, I think that “Elites pulling rabbits out of hats” follows the same principle of “resource extraction”. Easiest first and hard ones later.

    Expropriation Is Back – Is Christine Lagarde The Most Dangerous Woman In The World?

    To me, QE seems to be a no brainer (low hanging fruit) and it gets progressive tougher to pull rabbits out of the hat and one day, there are only small, skinny and ugly rabbits. There will always be rabbits but the audience might not appreciate those rabbits anymore as it is not the white, fluffy type anymore…..

    • Paul says:

      What amazes me when I see this is that there is not a wholesale run on 401Ks and other pension funds — or maybe that is the purpose of this message — convince people to cash out and spend — keeping the hamster running longer?

      Meanwhile we know the central banks have already printed 29 trillion dollars and bought equities – so there is no fear of the stock market crashing if people pull out pension funds — the banks will match them dollar for dollar — and then some.

      Meanwhile the heat has just turned a notch higher on the sheeple who are boiling in the pot — and they are feeling quite comfortable — stock market made 17,000 — what’s to be concerned about?

      • VPK says:

        Paul, just had a gleaming co-worker claimed he had extra cash and bought Amazon stock for $338 a share. Just a natural reaction, I asked what was the price/ earning ratio. He said he did not know, but liked the CEO, so he bought it. No concern….
        The Stock Market is the only game in town

        • interguru says:

          Peak Water – in one country


          In less than 50 years, we’ve used all but 30 percent of our groundwater supply, which took a million years to gather, and it’s getting worse and worse due to unsustainable development,” said Nasser Karami, an Iranian physical climatologist who is an associate professor at the University of Bergen in Norway.

          But BAU marches on

          “We don’t realize that we’re making life for the future impossible, for our own uses today. We shouldn’t only think about living comfortably today at the expense of tomorrow,” Karami said.

          Among the signs of Iranians’ disregard for water conservation are unregulated gardening taps in public parks that flow for hours on end, the widespread practice of hosing down hot and dusty concrete to cool it down and faucets that are habitually left running in kitchens around the country.

          Check the worldwide map in the article too.

          • Rodster says:

            That’s the problem with central planning in an infinite growth society. There is NO forethought towards the future. It’s all about NOW. The same can be said for the wasteful amounts of energy to SHIP fruits and vegetables across the globe when you can buy local. It’s only to keep the global economy growing by offering nations a way to make money buy selling their goods.

            I still shake my head at anyone who would want to live in Las Vegas. So much water is used in wasted trying to make a desert green. They too, are running out of water.

            • interguru says:

              That’s the problem with central planning in an infinite growth society. There is NO forethought towards the future. It’s all about NOW. The same can be said for the wasteful amounts of energy to SHIP fruits and vegetables across the globe when you can buy local. It’s only to keep the global economy growing by offering nations a way to make money buy selling their goods.

              Can you give me an example where lack of central planning worked any better. Lack of foresight is part of the human condition

              I still shake my head at anyone who would want to live in Las Vegas. So much water is used in wasted trying to make a desert green. They too, are running out of water.

              70% if their water is used in watering their lawns. They have plenty to live on

              In fact, the biggest water wasters in Las Vegas continue to be outdoor sprinklers that water lawns and golf courses beyond the Strip. These water uses account for some 70 percent of southern Nevada’s water use.


            • Jan Steinman says:

              “70% if their water is used in watering their lawns. They have plenty to live on”

              Until the power goes off and the pumps stop working.

          • That is interesting, and awful! The 30% of groundwater statement relates to Iran. Iran can do a little with desalination, but it is hugely expensive. Agriculture without water doesn’t work well. Neither do power plants.

            The world water graphic is found at this link directly. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/global-water-system-stress-and-water-use/2014/06/27/c1476e18-fe28-11e3-b1f4-8e77c632c07b_graphic.html

            • John Doyle says:

              I’m not sure the article is quite accurate. If you look at the accompanying charts, Iran is not by any means in the worst categories of shortages. Australia and the USA are much more wasteful.
              Still any loss of groundwater will be hard to replace and will bite sooner or later.

          • xabier says:

            Iranians careless with water? Incredible, the whole civilisation was built on careful water management!

            Modern plumbing makes it far too easy to access water, imparting the illusion of inexhaustibility.

          • John C Green Jr says:

            Here’s a note I sent to some friends not on this blog …

            This Washington Post article is about Iran running out of
            water. Similar articles could be written about every
            state that uses Colorado River water and every state that
            sits above the Ogallala Aquifer in USA and many other
            countries that have intensive agriculture and relatively
            dry land.


            > With Iran’s annual precipitation only a third of the global
            > average, heavy overconsumption has ravaged its available
            > water resources. A 2013 study by the World Resources
            > institute ranked Iran as the world’s 24th most
            > water-stressed nation, putting it at extremely high risk of
            > future water scarcity.

            Clickable link in above article …

            Global water system stress and water use:


            I’ve read that Yemen is the most water-stressed nation and
            will be the first to have mass exit migration to avoid the
            ecological disaster. But what do I know? This list of 36
            countries places 16 countries in a tie for worst water
            stress and list Yemen in 25th place:


      • Christian says:

        Paul, may be you are exagerating somewhat. There are a couple of million people aware of the situation but we don’t instantly withdraw from the system

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “Guys, I think that “Elites pulling rabbits out of hats” follows the same principle of “resource extraction”. Easiest first and hard ones later.”

      CTG, and now some of those rabbits are already being retired, as QE tapers to zero later this year. Also deficit spending is being reduced. The bag of tricks to duct tape BAU are dwindling.

  18. program says:

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little research on this.

    And he actually ordered me breakfaast because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spendng some time to talk about this topic here on your site.

  19. Paul says:

    While shoveling manure this morning the following thought came into my mind — what actually happens to people when they are deprived of food — do they rampage and kill for a can of beans — or do they lie down and die.

    I found some interesting research on the subject (below) … it leads me to re-think what actually happens when the SHTF … rather than hordes at the gates I wonder if people quickly become docile from lack of food and eventually curl up and die.

    You can bet your bottom dollar the elites are aware of this sort of research — could Plan B be:

    1. Declare martial law ensuring that anyone who resorts to violence to obtain food is quickly smashed down (the NSA already knows who the potential trouble-makers are)
    2. Make no effort to feed anyone other than military forces and other key people
    3. All petroleum reserves to be used only to enforce martial law – and maintain key infrastructure (e.g. keep nuclear plants and fuel ponds from melting down)
    4. Wait until most people are dead.
    5. Pick up the pieces

    The elites will most certainly not stand by and allow complete chaos to overwhelm them — they will definitely be trying to influence the outcome —- they will most definitely want to cull the population drastically.

    Of course they are right — we need to take the numbers down by many billions — I do have at least one concern if this is in fact Plan B…

    Why do the ‘elites’ not get culled — in favour of say people with organic farming skills and other abilities required to build some sort of sustainable world going forward. (rhetorical of course).


    – I am more inclined to hold gold — because if the above is correct — it is highly likely that gold would remain a store of wealth in the new paradigm (but gold will be of no use initially — only if you survive the multi billion person die-off)
    – having a stockpile of food to survive at least 3 months would be crucial — the only way to join the ‘elites’ in participating in the ‘brave new world’ would be to outlast the billions who will starve to death
    – having productive land goes hand in glove with the above – and martial law might ensure that you are left alone to grow your food — while the ‘elites’ carry out an accelerated die off by not feeding anyone — and not allowing them to access food stores through violence.

    Minnesota Starvation Experiment

    The Minnesota Starvation Experiment, also known as the Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment, the Minnesota Starvation-Recovery Experiment and the Starvation Study, was a clinical study performed at the University of Minnesota between November 19, 1944 and December 20, 1945. The investigation was designed to determine the physiological and psychological effects of severe and prolonged dietary restriction and the effectiveness of dietary rehabilitation strategies.


    The full report of results from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was published in 1950 in a two-volume, 1,385-page text entitled The Biology of Human Starvation (University of Minnesota Press). The 50-chapter work contains an extensive analysis of the physiological and psychological data collected during the study, and a comprehensive literature review.

    Among the conclusions from the study was the confirmation that prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression.[1]:161 There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally).[5] Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation.[1]:123–124 The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate. Some of the subjects exhibited edema in their extremities, presumably due to decreased levels of plasma proteins given that the body’s ability to construct key proteins like albumin is based on available energy sources.


    • Paul says:

      Homeland Security has purchased 1.6 rounds of ammo “some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers”


      We need to go to Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (1979) for a quote:

      “And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God… the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.”

      The more I percolate this — the more I am becoming certain — this is the general basis of Plan B.

      It MUST involve a massive reduction in population — it MUST involved draconian crowd control measures (see Egypt as the model) — it MUST involve the ability to identify and crush violent dissent (see the NSA scandal — and note that pretty much all western countries are participating in similar programmes targeting their populations)

    • Thanks! I remember seeing something like this earlier. I think it this pattern that lies behind the belief of many that if they can make it through a short time while others are starving, they will be OK.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear Gail and All

        These will be a few observations about food after a collapse. I would like to say I am a grizzled veteran of many collapses…but that is not true. I have thought about the subject, and have taken some actions in my own life. As I approach 74, some of those make less and less sense. But I offer my observations for what they are worth.

        First, it makes a lot of difference whether the collapse happens on a Black Friday in the stock market or over a century or two as in the case of Rome. For the sake of simplicity, I will talk about an instantaneous collapse. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. This is the most challenging kind of collapse, because one doesn’t have time to adjust very much. One has to be prepared before the collapse happens.

        Will there be marauding bands raiding sources of food? Perhaps, but a more likely scenario is that, over perhaps a six month period, people grow hungry, despondent, and die. A couple of years ago I posted descriptions of the Irish potato famine, where the British directed the Irish to walk to a neighboring town where they would be given food, but when they got there the British officers told them there was no food, and so they walked back to where they started. A very high percentage of them died on the road. They simply laid down and died. That is the most likely scenario, I think. It also means that one should not spend a lot of time worrying about ‘feeding 7 billion’….there won’t be 7 billion.

        Will you be able to buy food? Let’s separate perishable food such as fruits and vegetables from staple crops such as grains. If you are in a place with a lot of truck farms, you may be able to buy perishables and potatoes, but in most places industrial perishables account for 98 percent of the total. That means everyone else will be trying to buy from the same truck farms. What about grain from the Midwest? If oil and industrial civilization collapse over a six month period, there will be very little grain making its way from Indiana to New York City. Even in the second year after collapse, there will be very small production because the existing grain farms are tied very closely to an industrial model of production. It would take a long time to substitute smallholder farms which use biological methods of production for the current industrial farms. Also remember that raw potatoes are not edible…so you need some cooking facilities.

        One partial solution to the above dilemmas is to begin to garden extensively today, and perhaps to establish a solid relationship with a local small farm which is close enough to your house to transport some food without the use of fossil fuels. Another is to begin to garden as much of your own food as you reasonably can. If you are preparing for a fast collapse, you should invest in some calorie crops such as potatoes or sweet potatoes. Small grains, chickens, etc. if you are ambitious enough. If you are going to raise chickens, make sure you know how to efficiently kill them and prepare them for cooking.

        It is a mistake to think that if 75 percent of the people die, there will be plenty of land to go around. Food production is much more about intensive and intelligent cultivation than it is about acreage. An enormous amount of food can be grown in a quarter acre, but one has to know what one is doing and have some capital. 50 acres of weeds and brambles will be nearly worthless.

        What sort of capital? First are basic gardening tools. Second is the knowledge of how to garden intensively, with several years of practice. Third is seed saving…because seeds mailed from far away may not be available. Fourth is methods of preserving the harvest. Will you need a root cellar? If so, now is a good time to think about that and build yourself a root cellar. Fourth is a way to cook. Kris DeDecker has had some good posts in the last couple of days about stoves and such….read and heed. Think about getting a solar cooker and practice with it. Fifth is season extension. A gardener learns to ‘succession plant’ so that everything doesn’t mature at the same time (which is in contrast to a lot of industrial farming, which wants to harvest everything all at once.) But one also needs to figure out clever ways to grow crops in the winter and the heat of summer. These methods will be highly site specific. Go to farmer’s markets, observe the farmers who are able to offer things out of season, and ask them how they do it. Many of these will involve plastic. The plastic you have one the day of collapse will probably last you between 5 and 10 years, so you will be buying time to figure out other alternatives.

        Another form of capital is water management and carbon sequestration. I link those two because soil high in carbon will store more water. Why is that important. Right now, I haven’t had any rain in 30 days. Yet the crops in my yard are still doing reasonably well. I have been building carbon and doing some simple terraforming such as digging swales. You need to get started on that as soon as possible. Gather cardboard and newsprint from your neighbors and put that carbon in soil. To do that, you will also need to learn about nitrogen, from kitchen waste and nitrogen fixing bacteria and their plant hosts.

        The final form of capital is teaming with likeminded individuals. That can be as simple as neighbors and as complex as joining an intentional community. It is unlikely you can make a go of it alone.

        Finally, I recommend a careful consideration of one’s attitudes. Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee, says that those who rely on volunteer labor will go broke. Therefore, at his farm, he relies on professionals….young people hired from the community. The problem is that amateurs simply aren’t very efficient. And producing food with a positive energy balance requires a high level of efficiency. (Unless you are a hunter gatherer in a territory with a low population density). So if you are preparing for a fast collapse, it is important to think frugally and constantly be alert to efficient production.

        I am sure there are other things that you should be thinking about, but perhaps this list will provide enough grist for the mill right now.

        If you would like to participate in a free on-line seminar on growing your own food, see this link:

        I haven’t heard this, but they have a lot of the usual suspects talking, such as Joel Salatin. Also a seed saver. Many others.

        Don Stewart

        • That sounds like a pretty good list. The link you give seems to be to an event that is past. Is there a way to get to the presentations the people made?

    • edpell says:

      The Ik People faced with starvation saw their society fall apart. Parents throwing children out of the house at age 3 to fend for themselves.
      More along the lines of lie down and die.

  20. edpell says:

    It is the peak not the end. I just drove down the US east coast on I-95. The federal government is spending money on new highways like the auto had just been invented. Six lanes roads to 10 lane roads, the largest road was 18 lanes, as six three lane road side by side in new Jersey. Massive building around DC. Here in Raleigh it is a boom town building roads, strip malls. cell towers, transmission lines like crazy. No sign of any cultural artifacts parks, museums, zoos, performance art, etc… No sign they have ever heard of zoning laws. Poor James Howard Kuntler would have a fit if he saw this LA of the east coast. No one owns land. If the gasoline goes everyone dies. On the other hand go 40 miles away from the center and you find a sharp transition to large scale farm land. Not clear what if anything is being grown and if it serves the local food needs of the area. Maybe some potatoes or peanuts can not tell from a drive by.

    • Paul says:

      BAU will not go down without a fight — China is of course doing its part — the latest is as we know a reproduction city of Manhattan.

      But you ain’t seen nothing yet!!!!

      My spies tell me that an announcement is imminent — that China and America are set to build a subway system connecting Beijing and New York

      (Inside Tip: go long Australian mining stocks + cutlery manufacturers >>> don’t tell the SFC where you got this tip please)

      Apparently it will be dug using tea spoons with round the clock shifts of hundreds of thousands of workers who will be paid $50 per hour (with benefits)

      President Obama will hail this as huge job creation scheme — a ‘New Deal’ for the American and Chinese people”

      And Paul Krugman is apparently working on a front page Op-Ed for the NYT with the headline ‘FINALLY!’ — in which he will capitulate on his demands that governments provide more stimulus — that this is the type of thing he has been recommending all along — a hundred trillion dollar job creation project that will act as the spark that gets us back on the eternal exponential growth model that he so dearly believes in.

      Hot damn Mr Krugman, Mr Obama — this calls for a song — come on people — clap your hands — stomp your feet — and sing along!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL0Qt7IF8Q4

    • xabier says:


      Same for Britain: everyone in power sees infrastructure as the answer. Stuck in the 1950’s, mentally.

  21. Paul says:

    Another indication that Russia and China have thrown the US under the bus….

    Washington’s War Crimes Spread from Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine

    Paul Craig Roberts

    A person might think that revulsion in “the world community” against Washington’s wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and many officials in their regimes. But the vocal part of “the world community”–the West–has become inured to Washington’s crimes against humanity and doesn’t bother to protest. Indeed, many of these governments are complicit in Washington’s crimes, and there could just as well be arrest warrants for members of European governments.

    The one exception is Russia.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine. Propagandized Americans think that all the violations in Ukraine are made by Russians. The White Book carefully and accurately documents reported violations that occurred in Ukraine for four months from December 2013 through March 2014.

    Read more: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/07/03/washingtons-war-crimes-spread-africa-middle-east-ukraine-paul-craig-roberts/

    • edpell says:

      Russia is well advised by Henry Kissinger. It lets the US and its puppet continue to commit heinous crimes against humanity in Ukraine. People keep saying where is Putin?, why won’t Putin act? It is like Coventry in WWII Churchill let hundred of his citizens die to protect the greater war effort. Why don’t people say where is the UN? Where is China? Where is the security counsel? Where is Obama? When white phosphorous is dropped on innocent civilians in Ukraine and residents are shelled. It is clearly an internal matter of a sovereign state. Putin knows this but the west no longer believes in sovereign states and wages color revolution acts of aggression against fellow member states of the UN. Isn’t it time to bring democracy to the US?

  22. xabier says:


    Rather in agreement with your musings on the propensity to violence.

    We do underestimate the degree to which past conditions selected for useful warriors, although perhaps we shouldn’t forget that in tribal warrior societies females were often active participants, or at the least enthusiastic cheerleaders from the sidelines; although it was perhaps more a case of the women coming out after battle to do the finishing off, robbery and torture (Kipling wrote about the Afghan women -‘blow your brains out before they get to you!’ and I found an interesting account of what Russian peasant women did to survivors of Napoleon’s Grand Army – smashed their heads open with clubs, roasted them alive, etc. One Russian officer begged a Grand Duke to behead him with his sabre rather than save his life and leave him exposed to the peasant women).

    Here’s another historical instance:I have been digging into the history of Northern Spain and the Basques, and it is clear from piecing together hints in chronicles and legends that after the suppression of one of the great peasant rebellions that marked the last decades of the Empire, the Roman governor ordered the killing of the greater part of the male population and replaced them with foreign soldiery, who were married to the widows and daughters of those they murdered. An entire strata of that society replaced with professional killers. This sort of thing probably happened more times in the past than we care to imagine. And in those social conditions, men with a killer instinct were what one needed.

    Also encouraging is that ferocious energy in battle – not necessarily cruelty and psychopathy – is not incompatible with high culture and a decent social demeanour. The founder of the Moghul dynasty in India could switch quite happily between decapitating his enemies and pausing on a journey to compose poetry on a wild-flower meadow he had come across – his autobiography is quite a read!

    • Don Stewart says:

      Dear Xabier
      After I hit the ‘publish’ button I realized that I should have made it clear that women are not necessarily ‘nicer’ than men. A woman gets half her brain from her father and half from her mother. Her brother gets half his brain from the same father and the same mother. So…other things being equal…they should be about equally cooperative and equally combative.

      What changes is when MOST of the fathers are bloodthirsty males. The male and female children still get half their brains from each of their parents, but suddenly a lot of the fathers are tilted way over to the bloodthirsty side. So the more primitive parts of the brain are likely to enjoy things like cockfights and prize fights and bull fights and decapitating one’s opponents and raping all the women or drinking the blood of the French soldiers, etc. The more recently evolved parts of the brain will still have the cognitive capacity for cooperation, thanks to the non-selection for violence on the female side (barring a civilization of Amazons). But overall behavior is likely to strike us as bad.

      So my home-baked theory on how we became ‘kinder and gentler’ is that we invented, and more or less observed, monogamy, which shifted the male distribution from way over on the violent side to just the mean of a normal distribution. The female distribution always was, and remained, the mean of a normal distribution. (I am discounting, but not too deeply, the alleged penchant women have for ‘dangerous men’….My wife chose me and she says I am just a joke…:-)

      Don Stewart
      PS As I remember, The Marriage of Figaro is set in Spain. One of the more delicious villains in opera is Dietrich Fisher-Diskau as the lecherous Lord who is insisting on his right to deflower Figaro’s intended. Maybe this ‘wretched tradition’ has something to do with all the violence you see in Spain.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “A woman gets half her brain from her father and half from her mother. Her brother gets half his brain from the same father and the same mother. So…other things being equal…they should be about equally cooperative and equally combative.”

        So on the “nature versus nurture” spectrum, you come down solidly on the “DNA determines all” side of things, then?

        Or do you agree that testosterone (or nutrition, or pollution, or education, or, or, or…) could play as much a role as genes?

        In particular, I think social norms play a huge role in male/female relations — again, not dictated by DNA.

        • Don Stewart says:

          Dear Jan
          As I hope my posts on epigenetics and genomic imprinting and other subjects have made clear, I think that most all humans have a genome which is capable of supporting a healthy human being IF the human is giving the genes the right kind of environment: good food, plenty of exercise, not too much stress, etc.

          One of the things that we have begun to realize is that epigenetics and genomic imprinting (see my references to Randy Jirtle) can steer a foetus in an undesirable direction depending on the environment the mother is giving the foetus. There is even evidence of a multi-generational effect, which some liken to Biblical judgments on future generations

          I, personally, think that the epigenetic effects can be changed by radical environmental changes. For example, in Britain a trial reversed Type II diabetes in 10 days and eliminated all traces of it in six weeks But the diet was quite draconian…a shock to the system. The evidence I have seen is that small changes do not reverse things like Type II diabetes and probably epigenetic markers. Of course, what everyone is being told is that small changes are adequate…and keep taking your meds.

          As to the heritability of ‘cooperative genes’ and ‘competitive genes’, I have no firm evidence. I am not aware that it has been a subject of much research. But we do know that Genghis Khan left an enormous amount of his genetic material in eastern Europe. We know that the Lords of the Manor fathered way more than their share of the children. We know that the guys fathering the children tended toward the ‘conquest with the sword’ persuasion. We also know, as I said, that certain parts of the genome are inherited from the mother (which gives rise to ‘mitochondrial eve’) and some from the father. We know that the dominant influence on the later evolved brain structures is primarily from the females, and the dominant influence on the ancient brain structures are primarily from the males So, as I wrote to Xabier, I put two and two together and conclude that, back in the good old days of pirates and conquerors and Lords of the Manor, there were more ‘aggression’ genes poured into the foetus and now that ‘mild mannered reporters’ have more of a chance, the distribution will tend to revert to a normal curve. The female contribution has probably always been close to a normal curve…at least I can’t think of any reason it would be strongly skewed

          Don Stewart

      • xabier says:


        It was quite usual for landowners to have rights over the prettier (or even not so pretty!) girls on their estates. The decent ones rewarded the husbands with promotions and sinecures, so happiness all round: those were the rules of the game. In a pragmatic world, where the poor starved, the advances of the landlord were therefore quite welcome.

        In Casanova’s Memoirs, he often gets his wicked way with a poor young lady, by offering to settle a large sum for her marriage as a dowry. These things were negotiated, and a useful step up in life – far better than street prostitution.

        The Spanish aristocracy became very decadent and quite urbanised in the 18th century: by the time of the Napoleonic wars the English regarded them with utter contempt as poor physical specimens, shifty and cowardly, and yet they were the descendants of the men who kicked out the Arabs and who had been engaged in constant warfare for centuries. The easy life corrupts…..

  23. George Marchetti says:

    As M. King Hubbert said: “Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.”

    Had the United States embarked on a real sustainable energy program in order to wean itself off fossil fuels 40 years ago, it could have been done by now. America could really have been a “Land of Opportunity”; instead it became the “Land of Lost Opportunities”. Hubbert correctly predicted that fossil fuels could be a bridge to a solar/nuclear energy future, but only if policy makers could escape the thrall of the fossil fuel industry. So, here we are, having literally “burned” that fossil fuel bridge behind us. What could have been done even with 1970-80s era technology?
    –Molten salt thorium nuclear reactors (inherently safe and a distributed power option)
    –Breeder reactors
    –Concentrating solar power (molten salt storage)
    –Algal biodiesel (from algae-based wastewater treatment plants; off peak electricity used for pulse separation of oil)
    –Algal NPK fertilizer (from pulse separation at wastewater treatment plants)
    –Recycling “pulsed” (sterile) wastewater
    –Biodiesel plug-in hybrids (Mitsubishi Outlander, e.g.); electricity and biofuel combination
    –Zero net energy housing (see many comments above)
    –Processing coal for carbon fiber (e.g., lightweight auto bodies and construction material). No net CO2 emissions from coal
    –Processing coal residue (from carbon fiber process) for thorium, uranium and metals, No net CO2 emissions from coal residue. A reliable source of nuclear fuels with more energy than the carbon in the coal.

    Hubbert was right that a solar/nuclear option could have been successfully pursued if we had wisely used fossil fuels as a bridge over the past several decades. Ignorance was never the problem. Our problem was our failure to recognize that we were crossing a bridge and that we needed to start “using what we know” before we got to the other side.

    • There were a lot of people who thought as you do:

      Had the United States embarked on a real sustainable energy program in order to wean itself off fossil fuels 40 years ago, it could have been done by now. America could really have been a “Land of Opportunity”; instead it became the “Land of Lost Opportunities”.

      I think that there were a lot more obstacles to this than people realized:

      1. Electricity doesn’t substitute for oil.
      2. Cost is a huge issue.
      3. Any species, including humans, has more offspring than it can raise to maturity. Whatever energy we substitute would have been used to the same extent, and also exceeded.
      4. Civilizations because of the way they grow, invariably outgrow their limits and collapse. This really is a physics issue. Civilizations are “dissipative systems.”

      • Creedon says:

        If the bottom line is that civilizations are dissipative systems, than we as a civilization have nearly done our work and we can feel full-filled that this work is finished. We can die and move on to the next realm in satisfaction. I think evolution has a plan an God, (so to speak) is always coming up with the next plan. I think that he probably has the next plan already developed and if we are forward thinking individuals a most on this website are than our task is to order our lives to be part of the next system. Thus the tension as we move from one paradigm to the next.
        On a separate issue; with all the attention given on this website to the current collapse I feel that we have not yet come up with a sufficiently good means of tracking the current energy supply collapse. Here in central Missouri the PTB seem to manage a lower price of fuel over the holidays and than slowly raise i between holidays. This would imply that they still have obvious room to maneuver. If the IEA does fore see an energy crunch this fall, we seem to be out of the loop as to what the cause of this crunch will be.

        • That is an interesting way of thinking about the situation:

          If the bottom line is that civilizations are dissipative systems, than we as a civilization have nearly done our work and we can feel full-filled that this work is finished. We can die and move on to the next realm in satisfaction.

          I think you may be right, even in the part about a God coming up with the next plan.

          Regarding gas prices, I think there was a small run-up, when the Iraq problem became known, but then prices have drifted back down. Also, China is refusing to take United States’ DDGs to feed animals. In order to sell ethanol, corn producers must find someone to sell the (pretty awful) DDG co-product to sell to animal producers as food. China won’t take this, and apparently that is driving the price of ethanol down. At least partly because of this, the price of ethanol is down quite a bit. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/commodity/ethanol

          • Christian says:

            Don’t know about God, although this would rather come out to be a gnostic demiurge one. Till yet the rose blooms because she blooms, and we can’t say we didn’t flourished. As an intellectual I see as a good point we achieved a deep understanding of the development in physical terms, and it is not impossible that other finite worlds are doing their part and completing the overall picture.

    • Paul says:

      In Steve Coll’s book about Exxon – Private Empire — when the oil crisis hit in the 70’s future CEO Lee Raymond was tasked — and given a substantial budget — to attempt to find replacement options for oil.

      Of course can say that was hype – kinda like BP = Beyond Petroleum — but I don’t think so — at the time there were long lines to get gasoline — the threat was real — and I think Exxon truly did look for alternatives.

      Raymond conclusion after tens of millions of dollars were invested: ‘there is no substitute for oil – period.’

      The world has invested massive amounts of money into solar — it simply is not feasible http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/bernstein-energy-supply.jpg

      See http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/01/21/ten-reasons-intermittent-renewables-wind-and-solar-pv-are-a-problem/

      See http://www-tc.pbs.org/independentlens/classroom/wwo/petroleum.pdf

      Oil is unique — nothing can substitute for it — our civilization is built on cheap oil — when cheap oil is gone — our civilization is done.

      I like how the author of The Perfect Storm explains this —- you could take all the world’s greatest scientists and lock them in a room — and ask them to conjure up a ham and cheese sandwich out of nothing — and guess what the result would be? Of course nothing…

      Some things are simply not possible — has science cured baldness — allowed us to grow crops in snow — cure cancer — the list goes on and on — finding something that can replace cheap oil is just one of many things we cannot do.

  24. timl2k11 says:

    The NSA says it was a very excellent comment. 😉

  25. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All

    (I can’t connect this to my post about ‘selection after the crash…sorry)
    My observations about what evolution will select for after the collapse is related to this post:


    ‘I’m not naive. I know perfectly well that Business as Usual as I’ve experienced it over the course of my life is crumbling. This diatribe against collapse isn’t an attempt to deny or hide this reality. Rather, I’m convinced that promoting a need for radical, pervasive change isn’t best achieved by appealing to people’s fear. If this short essay achieves one thing, I hope it inspires people, particularly educators and commentators, to reconsider how they use language in their messages, particularly their decision to promote their ideas and ideals through the collapse meme. I predict the lineages of people alive 1,000 years from now will count among their ancestors people who transcended today’s collapse mythology and got to the real work of self and community development, inner work and adaptation. The future belongs to those who choose their language wisely so as not to prevent of the outcome they most desire.’

    Back to me. I don’t know whether using the word ‘collapse’ is a good idea or a bad idea. I think it is correct in that a lot of people will suffer. When I refer to ‘selected for’, that means that those who don’t succeed will be ‘selected against’ In a collapse, the carrying capacity shrinks, which inevitably means that a lot of the ‘selected against’ will die. Which is why all the arguments about feeding 7.2 billion people are mostly irrelevant.

    I do agree with the author that the descendents in the future will tend to be the offspring of ‘people who transcended today’s collapse mythology and got to the real work of self and community development, inner work and adaptation’

    Don Stewart

    • timl2k11 says:

      I’ve been thinking about “collapse”, the concept of it, a lot. I’m not so sure it’s the best way to think about what is coming. I think what we are more likely to see is something akin to a “phase change” or “change of state” in the order of things. An analogue might be found in AGW. The atmosphere may at some time reach a tipping point and rapidly change states to a new configuration that is in equilibrium with the current levels of greenhouse gases. Likewise the world order may reconfigure itself to cope with the new paradigm of decreasing rather than increasing energy production as well as in response to how close we are to the limiting factors required for economic growth.

  26. MJ says:

    Who knows it may appear later…in the twilight zone

  27. Jarle B says:

    Paul wrote:

    “As for your efforts to reduce consumption — as I have said — unless you get off the grid and live in a shack in the woods and do not participate in the BAU economy then you remain part of the problem.

    how can you see things as black or white as this?

    Myself, I consume, but not like there is no tomorrow. If everyone consumed on my level, the economy would be a lot smaller, but not nil.

    • Paul says:

      I see this as black and white because it is black and white.

      Let’s think this through — imagine that most people reduced consumption — let’s say by half.

      What would happen?

      Actually – no need to imagine — it is already happening — not voluntarily of course (most people still prefer to live large) — rather it is being forced upon us by high energy costs:

      High energy prices = less consumption because everything including the fuel in your tank costs more = layoffs = less tax revenue = government cutbacks, layoffs and debt increases = less consumption = more layoffs = less taxes ===== economic death spiral.

      Compounding the problem is the fact that a weak labour market means real wages drop – as they are across the world right now – that means everything is more expensive and your buying power is dropping at the same time.

      Governments recognize this and are trying to offset with debt, easy lending (they are purposely inflating bubbles), lower interest rates and money printing.

      This all started in 2002 when oil went from $12 a barrel to nearly $40 (and of course has never looked back)

      Of course they will fail – because the disease is expensive oil. And there is no substitute

      The economic death spiral will accelerate when the QE and ZIRP no longer have any effect and the confidence game collapses.

      So this is most definitely black and white — there is no gray area.

      Reducing consumption is not an option – unless your goal is to live a stone age life style.

      See: There is No Steady State Economy (except at a very basic level)

      • Jarle B says:


        people went about living their life long before the age of oil and endless debt, and they will after it is gone. If you don’t understand this, then you are locked into seeing modern western life as the only life worth living, which it isn’t.

        I’ve been reading Gails fine writings for some time, I think I have understood much of what she thinks, and I agree. So no need to wake up to reality over here, I’m already there.

        • Rodster says:

          The problem we are in is that TPTB have locked everyone into the current paradigm. What happens to all those nuclear power plants around the world when the SHTF? What happens when you don’t have a farm and need food? What happens when govt’s have collapsed around the world and you haved crazed, pissed off gangs like ISIS and ISIL who now have access to nuclear weapons? This not fear mongering rather it’s sobering questions.

          The “Little House On The Prarie” society sounds great with minimal governance. Unfortunately cheap oil got us into this hellhole system and it’s going to be difficult or next to impossible to get out of without mass lost of life or civilization collapse.

          • Jarle B says:


            the population will shrink, but some will live, and they will appresiate the life they have…

            • Rodster says:

              Anything is possible but if you think survivors will have a great quality of life post industrialization, I would have to disagree. As with ALL civilization collapses in history i.e., post Dark Age, then yeah but that takes time.

      • edpell says:

        For a particular cost of energy the world can support a certain number of people at a certain level of affluence. Yes, there is a system in place that requires cheap energy and it will fail. How far down the spiral we go is not clear to me. People who are already near starvation will move down to starvation. But people who are living in 4000 sqft houses with three cars getting 8 miles per gallon have the option to move down to 2000 sqft and two cars getting 45 miles per gallon without any real physical pain, maybe some psychological pain.

        Rather than see whole sectors of the economy fail because they are not given their current level of inputs we may see triage. Farmers in areas without water go out of business. There is less food and only that fraction of the population who can afford it eats.

        We are already seeing infrastructure “reformed” so there are fees for usage no free ride for the low income people. I see this in roadways, electric systems, education, water, art museums.

        I see a coming division by ownership and income. No one hunts in the King’s forest.

  28. Pingback: Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network | Doomstead Diner

  29. Paul says:

    Oil explorers hit rock bottom

    The $250m price tag attached to the sale of a 50 per cent stake in a key project should have given a big boost to the share price of Africa-focused oil explorer Bowleven last week. It failed to.

    Analysts said the farm-down of the oil and gasfield off the coast of Cameroon was worth about 68p a share to Bowleven. Yet a day later, its shares were trading at just 40.5p. Its market value is now lower than the cash it earned on the Cameroon deal.

    “Something is not working here,” says a person close to the company. “The market is dysfunctional.”

    International exploration and production companies – or E&Ps – were once stock market darlings. A string of spectacular discoveries by Tullow Oil in Africa, Cairn Energy in India and DNO in Iraqi Kurdistan grabbed headlines and investors’ attention.

    But E&Ps have lost their lustre. That is partly because they seem to have lost the knack of discovering oil.

    “It would be great if someone actually found something with the drill bit to remind people of the reasons for holding E&P stocks,” says Brian O’Cathain, chief executive of Petroceltic International, an oil explorer quoted on Aim, London’s junior market. “Discoveries have been too sparse.”

    A trading update from Tullow Oil illustrated the point on Wednesday. A pre-tax exploration write-off of $415m was accompanied by a blip in interim production figures. Its share price has almost halved in the past two years.

    It is all a far cry from 2012, when small-cap Cove Energy, whose main asset was a tiny stake in a gasfield off the coast of Mozambique, found itself in the middle of a bidding war between Thailand’s national oil company PTTEP and Royal Dutch Shell. PTTEP won out, paying $1.9bn for the company.

    The post-Cove hangover has been long – and chilling. International E&P share prices are down 21.3 per cent since the start of 2012, while the S&P 500 is up 55.8 per cent.

    Bowleven’s performance is typical. Scepticism over its ability to develop the Cameroon asset has driven its shares down 90 per cent from their 2011 peak of 394p to 37.75p today.

    With a few exceptions, “the whole sector is trading below core net asset value”, says Brendan Walsh of BMO Capital Markets.

    Disappointing exploration results are just part of the problem. The E & Ps’ fortunes rise and fall with the oil price, and crude has been more or less stable over the past two years.

    Also, valuations used to be supported by merger and acquisition activity in the sector. But since Cove, deals have been few and far between.

    “Potential acquirers are much more choosy than they were in the past,” says Mark Wilson of Jefferies.

    Big Oil, under pressure from shareholders to show more capital discipline, has pulled back from large corporate deals. Also, E & Ps hoping to sell themselves or their assets are facing a much more crowded market, as the majors pursue multibillion-dollar asset disposal programmes. Witness the difficulties Tullow has experienced in trying to sell down its interest in TEN, a vast oil project off the coast of Ghana.

    The sector has also suffered from the US shale revolution. American investors that used to back international E & Ps have switched into shale oil producers such as EOG and Pioneer Natural Resources that offer more secure returns.

    “The attraction of the onshore US is that you put your [capital expenditure] in and you get production out within 12 months,” says Mr Wilson. London-listed oil stocks, in contrast, tend to carry more geopolitical and exploration risk.

    The fall in the E & Ps’ stock price also reflects a big change in the way their assets are perceived by the market. In years past, they gained credit for oil they had discovered but had not yet started to produce, as well as for their exploration potential. Now, investors only seem to ascribe value to assets that are actually producing oil and generating cash. Beneficiaries include Genel Energy, run by Tony Hayward, the former BP chief executive, which extracts oil from two huge fields in Iraqi Kurdistan.

    The problem for the smaller E&Ps is that they are so different from other stocks. “Elsewhere in the equity market you have hard, rigid criteria like dividend yield, and physical asset value,” says Bradley Mitchell, a senior fund manager at Royal London Asset Management. “With the E&Ps there’s more hope and anticipation, especially when their production is far out in the future.” And that hope has been dashed, he says, by years of poor exploration results.

    Some say it was inevitable that the bubble would burst: companies’ valuations were in some cases hugely inflated, based on expectations that were not met.

    “E&Ps have been over-promising for a while now,” says Petroceltic’s Brian O’Cathain.

    Tony Durrant, the newly appointed chief executive of London-listed Premier Oil, agrees. He accepts that Premier, along with many of its peers, are on a “yellow card from the investment community” because rates of return over the past two years “have not been good enough”.

    However, many think a re-rating could be on the cards. Mergers and acquisitions activity seems to be picking up: Caracal Energy, an oil explorer focused on Chad, was acquired by Glencore Xstrata for $1.35bn in April, and Heritage Oil was bought by Qatari investment vehicle Al Mirqab for £924m a couple of weeks later.

    Some wonder whether these could be the harbingers of a bigger, transformative deal that could change the sector’s fortunes. Having tightened their belts over the past year or so, the majors will soon have more cash to spend on acquisitions.

    Others think the chaos in Iraq could push up oil prices, which would also be positive for valuations. Meanwhile, the cost inflation that has hurt the juniors is now less of an issue, with once sky-high rig leasing rates finally easing off.

    Sentiment could also change dramatically when one of the big players in the sector starts generating free cash flow: Tullow is expected to do so in 2016 with the start-up of the TEN project.

    But what would really transform the outlook for the sector would be another big discovery – something on the scale of Tullow’s Jubilee field offshore Ghana, found in 2007. “There’s got to be another Jubilee out there,” says Jefferies’ Mr Wilson. “The industry just has to find it.”

    Even without that, however, some oil executives are confident valuations have hit rock bottom – and the only way is up. “We’ve got 350m barrels of reserves, and an enterprise value of less than $2 per barrel of oil equivalent,” says Mr O’Cathain. “That can’t persist.”


    • Interesting. It seems to be more confirmation that oil prices are too low to encourage production. E&P are having too low of a success rate.

      • Paul says:

        As we see more very expensive dry holes — investors will head for the exits — which means new conventional oil finds will collapse.

        Again the tipping points are finance-related —- there is oil beneath the ground in large quantities — but if money cannot be made finding and extracting it — it will remain in the ground.

        CAPEX is being slashed by Big Oil because of this dynamic — this points to a nearer term vs longer term collapse.

  30. MJ says:

    Perhaps since 2008 we are living an Indian Summer:

    • I think that may be a reasonable way of describing the situation. The very low interest rates have given us temporary respite from the problem of high oil prices, in a sort of “Indian Summer.”

  31. Paul says:

    Having a look at this earlier post http://usawatchdog.com/official-2014-imf-forecast-based-on-magic-number-seven-steve-quayle/

    ‘The god the illuminati worship is Lucifer’ Gimme a break. Next they will be saying if we conduct an exorcism on Lagarde our problems will be over.

    This is the kind of stuff that gives a bad name to conspiracy theories.

    Ya maybe something is set to happen on July 20 — maybe not — but to say that the devil is dictating events — well, that’s just plain looney bin stuff.

    There is no devil — just like there is no tooth fairy — and no santa claus…

  32. john howard wilhelm says:

    Gail Tverberg, On June 23, 2014, the FT published
    a nicely edited version of the following letter in response
    to its editorial on the demise of peak oil which I had
    sent. I would like to bring it to the attention of your
    readers. Thank you. John Howard Wilhelm

    4 West Eden Court
    Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108


    Tel. 734/477-9942

    June 17, 2014



    Your assertion (editorial June 17, 2014) that Peak Oil is dead and

    that US output of liquid petroleum has regained its previous peak

    reached in 1970 should not go unchallenged.

    According to data put out by the US Energy Information Administration,

    US field production of crude oil in 1970 was 9,637 thousand barrels per

    day. The figure for 2013 was 7,443 thousand B/D. That is, in 2013 US

    crude oil production stood at 77% of its annual 1970 peak level.

    If one looks at the facts, the situation is far more fraught than implied

    by your analysis later in the piece.

    Earlier data from the Bakken Oil Field that I have seen indicated that

    annual production per well averaged 85,000 barrels per year initially

    with a decline rate of 40% per year which implies on a compounded

    basis 856 barrels per year or 2.35 barrels per day in ten years, surely

    a level at which a stripper well might well be shut down.

    Later data I was sent by a prominent geologist indicate an initial

    annual rate per well of 133,955 in the Bakken with an annual decline

    rate of 63% which implies that in seven years the daily production

    rate of the average well could well be even lower than the 2.35 barrels

    per day

    From everything I know, this situation broadly applies to all US and

    world shale oil and gas developments. Given this and given the

    reality cited in your piece that “it is a striking fact that since 2005,

    all the increase in the world’s crude oil production has come from

    the US, it would seem premature to relegate the Peakists’ argument

    to the “dustbin of history.”

    Sincerely yours,

    John Howard Wilhelm, Ph.D.,


    • Paul says:

      The FT editorial team is exhibiting an extreme case of schizophrenia — on one hand they publish peak oil is dead articles — then they publish stuff like The Perfect Storm research.

      Of course the peak oil is dead articles are complete rubbish because they fail to acknowledge that the issue is not that oil is running out (by definition half remains) — but that the problem is price.

      Now one could excuse this mistake if one were reading an op-ed in butt flukk creek arkansas (population 4000) but the FT is arguably the most prestigious MSM finance source on the planet…

      It’s supposedly their job to not publish fluff pieces that lack thorough research.

      But then I am sure they are trying their best — because the PTB do issue edicts that tell the MSM to hold back on the truths — because there is a bigger agenda here — the one that says if the herd gets spooked then all control is lost…

      I wonder what the prescribed ratio is on positive vs negative energy stories — for every 1 The Perfect Storm articles — 10 Peak Oil is Dead?

      • John Doyle says:

        Paul, where do you get the link from the Financial Times to Tullett Prebon? Is TP a subsidiary of an FT company? The Perfect Storm is a “Strategy Insights/issue nine” document. The web address has ft in it but is that all you rely on? As you know Tim Morgan, the author is out on his own now.
        I’m glad though that my recommendation has been so welcomed, because it is a fine work.

        • Paul says:

          I believe someone posted the link on this forum earlier…. no idea if the FT has a stake in PB http://www.tullettprebon.com/#

          Are you inferring that this research was not meant for public consumption and that it might have been leaked?

          • Christian says:

            Looks like leaked, doesn’t?

            • Paul says:

              It is perhaps the most comprehensive single piece of research I have seen on this issue — with the stamp of a significant financial institution and the FT to give it the credibility that is required for the masses to take notice.

              I am not sure how anyone reading p. 59 – 84 of that could still believe that BAU will continue for much longer — or that the end of cheap oil is not the problem.

              It would take an act of supreme cognitive dissonance to do so….

              So ya – one has to wonder what the intent was of releasing that — if it wasn’t a leak…

            • Christian says:

              Supreme dissonance… not talking about the pictures!

          • John Doyle says:

            I think I posted the Tullett prebon document here first several days ago now. I have no ulterior motive about any link to the Financial Times. I was only wondering why you linked them.
            I find their graphs on page 75 interesting. If you flip one vertically the two curves match very closely.The rapid crash at the end of the “EroEI and energy sources” graph seems to bear out your contention that once easy oil is scarce civilization as we know it is in serious trouble.

    • Thanks for telling us about your letter.

  33. Paul says:

    Jan – not sure if my comment made it live as the net had an issue… here it is again re: Martenson:

    So if Mr Sorenson paid Gail a placement fee and had her write an article that stated that thorium was a viable alternative to oil — and as a condition of the advertorial contract, dictated that Gail delete any comments disputing the thorium claims — and also required Gail not to disclose that Sorenson was a principal in a thorium start up….

    Would any of us continue to participate on this platform?

    You bet your bottom dollar I would walk…. but only after I posted a comment stating I was retiring my jersey because I believed that Gail had sold out… which is her prerogative of course — but if she did that she would lose all credibility as one of the world’s great thinkers.

    • What Martenson is paying isn’t a lot. I have no idea who deletes comments–presumably the author does.

      There are people who want to place articles with all kinds of sites (The Oil Drum was one of them) who fail to mention that they are hoping to indirectly make money off the project. I know at The Oil Drum, we were trying to be on the lookout for this kind of thing, but we had a policy against such articles. The site was supposed to be educational.

      I suppose if Martenson really thought thorium was a viable alternative to uranium (probably not to oil), then he might run the article. He might not mention Sorenson’s thorium start up, if he didn’t want to channel money to him.

      I know I ran one thorium article at The Oil Drum. The subject was more hotly contested than practically any other, with some folks thinking it might provide salvation. If we had another 50 or 100 years, it might be worth pursuing, if a person were looking at all possibilities.

      • edpell says:

        I like and respect Kirk Sorenson. I think molten salt reactors have value. I think thorium as a primary fuel has value. Someone just posted a link to a Chinese pebble bed hot gas cooled reactor that looks interesting.

        Hot is good because the fraction of heat energy that converts to electric energy goes up as the temperature goes up.

        Molten fuel is better than solid fuel because solid fuel expands over the course of a year and is no longer usable. That is it will swell and get stuck in the machine whereas molten fuel has no issue even if it does expand.

        The pebble bed is the approach of some of those silicon valley billionaires who are investing in nuclear startups. It is not a topic I am up on.

        I expect the Chinese will do thorium fuel long before the Americans.

        On the other hand the Indian Point nuclear reactor 50 north of New York City was the first commercial reactor to try thorium in 1961! They had issues with fuel re-processing and stopped.

  34. Paul says:

    I like Pilger’s take on the IFM .. and World Bank:

  35. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    Here are some thoughts about the post-collapse environment…what will probably be important and what will probably be unimportant. I will take an evolutionary viewpoint. I will refer primarily to the work of Uri Alon on Network Motifs (relatively small chains of events which can be mixed and matched to produce a wide variety of end products and behaviors), and to Daniel Dennett’s philosophical writings, as codified most recently in the book Intuition Pumps, and Other Tools for Thinking, and also to E.O. Wilson’s explanation of group selection as one way individual genes can be preserved into the future, as delineated in The Social Conquest of Earth.

    Let’s consider first a very simple organism which has many wondrously hard-wired behaviors, but those behaviors result in the organism being very brittle. A current example is the monarch butterfly, which is entirely dependent on milkweed. As humans eradicate milkweed, we also eradicate the monarchs. Next consider the wily squirrel. Squirrels have a large array of behaviors, including climbing and leaping and gliding. They will also eat everything from strawberries to acorns to birdseed. As humans feed birds and garden strawberries, squirrels are quite capable of figuring out how to get to ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeders and stealing the gardener’s strawberries. To use Uri Alon’s language, we might say that the squirrels have a large array of Network Motifs which they can combine in many different ways to outsmart humans. If a squirrel had no Network Motif for leaping, but only climbing, then a greasy bird feeder pole would foil it. But squirrels are quite capable of leaping from a house or a tree to a bird feeder, because they have the variety of Network Motifs that they need to be successful.

    Let’s consider the possibility that the industrial food system collapses. Most Americans have no Network Motifs which might be helpful, other than perhaps robbery. But a gardener who has been diligently practicing a low input garden will have developed lots of Network Motifs which can be pressed into service in the new circumstances. Our goal should be to have the capability of a squirrel seeing its first bird feeder appear in a suburban lawn….do what we know how to do, but put the elements together differently, to solve a new problem.

    Daniel Dennett builds on Folk Psychology to construct the more inclusive theory of The Intentional Stance: rational agents who are governed in their choices of action by a consideration of their belief and desires. (Page 78). Thus, when little Johnny kicks us on the playground we make some inferences about why Little Johnny is doing what he is doing, and we select our response informed by our inferences. Likewise, when the computer won’t do what we want it to do, we infer something about what we think it wants to do and alter our actions to try to get it to do what we want it to do.

    All humans are not equal in terms of the Network Motifs we can mobilize as explanations for the behavior of Little Johnny or the computer. Or, for that matter, why the broccoli is turning yellow in our garden, or what steps might be taken to keep our roof from falling in.

    Finally, let’s consider E.O Wilson’s ‘social conquest’ theory of evolution. Wilson finds that those creatures that evolved sociality have risen to dominate the world: ants, termites, and humans among them. But sociality did not eliminate purely self-centered behavior. It’s just that the ants and the termites were able to form large colonies in which competition between individuals is severely constrained and cooperation in the interests of the colony is maximized. The history of Earth indicates that at least some social behavior is more adaptive than pure selfishness.

    But Wilson also states that humans are torn between cooperation and pure selfishness. Much of our art is about the tension between the two Now let’s consider the whole class of Network Motifs which are useful in finding ways to cooperatively solve problems or accomplish work, and the whole class of Network Motifs which are useful in finding ways to gather, by hook or by crook, more resources to oneself at the expensive of everyone else. It is clear that, in a post-collapse society, both sets of Network Motifs will be useful. As will be the wisdom to know when each set is appropriate.

    Darwinian Selection in a Post-Collapse world.

    Genes: Not important except at very long time frames.

    Epigenetics: Intense selection over the short term, as epigenetics plays a large role in disease.

    Genetic Imprinting: Selection at the generational level. Children of environmentally damaged adults will be born with handicaps.

    Skills Dependent on Network Motifs:

    Folk Psychology: Intense selection over the short term. Misjudging allies and opponents more likely to be fatal.

    Productive Abilities: Intense selection over the short term. Those who do not produce probably will not eat.

    Social Assets: Intense selection over the short term. Lone Rangers will probably perish. It helps to have tried and true partners when the collapse happens. Those who have weeded together will have welded together. ‘Find the Others’…Spielberg. However, pre-collapse status will not be important.

    Capital Assets: Intense selection over the short term. Get your scythe and sharpening stone and become an expert in creating razor edges now. Build the roof water collections system now. Regain your health now. However, paper assets will probably be useless.

    Not Helpful:
    Dennett, page 204, slightly modified:

    ‘When people sense that something they love is under threat, their first reaction is to build an ‘impenetrable wall’, a Maginot Line—and just to be extra safe they decide to enclose a bit more territory, a buffer zone, inside its fortifications It seems like a good, prudent idea. It seems to protect us from the slippery slope, the insidious thin edge of the wedge, and as everyone knows, if you give them an inch they will take a mile. Dig the moat, build the wall! And as far as you can afford. But this policy typically burdens the defenders with a brittle, extravagant, set of dogmas that cannot be defended rationally.

    In summary, I do not think anyone, even our esteemed Bloggista, can accurately predict exactly how Collapse will play out. But I do think that we can look at the principles of how Network Motifs are woven together to create everything from cells to cooperative behavior to computers, and form some judgements about the utility of adding certain kinds of Motifs to our repertoires. I think that we can sense what sorts of social and capital assets are likely to be helpful. And I think we can avoid spending a lot of time digging useless moats and building useless walls.

    Don Stewart

    • Paul says:

      Don — my concern would be that we have so massively over shot the earth’s carrying capacity using artificial methods (chemical inputs in food production, medicines and procedures that keep people alive longer) that none of these proposed models that are based on the natural world will have any relevance.

  36. Interguru says:

    Also in the MSM — http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/finance/211012-another-financial-meltdown-on-the-horizon

    And you thought that last global financial crisis was bad.

    A report issued on Sunday by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that policymakers have failed to address the root problems that caused the 2007-2008 financial meltdown. Instead of taking a long-term perspective aimed at increasing real economic productivity and output — the kind that actually benefits people by raising living standards — government officials have sought to pump up the numbers through monetary and fiscal stimulus.

    The BIS annual report packs a punch because the organization behind it commands the respect of the world’s central bankers. Based in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is essentially the bank for central banks; it serves as a hub for gathering and analyzing the data provided by its 58 member central banks and performs in-depth research leading to broad policy recommendations.

    When the BIS chastises policymakers for masking structural deficiencies and long-run misallocations of economic resources by resorting to the quick monetary fixes of quantitative easing and zero-interest rates — well, it should get their attention. And when the report suggests that short-term policy responses to the last crisis may be “creating a bigger one down the road,” the red lights should start flashing.

    • Paul says:

      The problem with the BIS report is that there is nothing that could have been done to right the ship.

      I am sure Bernanke and the PTB examined every single possible option and they determined that the only thing that could be done is what they did — loosen the money supply — drop interest rates — leading to ZIRP and money printing.

      The BIS seems to suggest that there is a way out — that if only the central banks would implement the right policies we’d not be facing an exponentially worse calamity that 08.

      The FT article rips that theory to shreds http://ftalphaville.ft.com/files/2013/01/Perfect-Storm-LR.pdf

    • Thanks for the link. The BIS concerns are obvious to quite a few of us, but there is no real fix this time. This may be a link to the report: http://www.bis.org/speeches/sp140629.pdf This may be related. http://www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2014e.htm Or is there a different one?

      I am trying to figure out the relationship between to BIS and the IMF. The BIS is the bank for central banks, based in Basel, Switzerland. The IMF was started later than the BIS (in 1944 vs 1930), and is headquartered in Washington D. C. The purpose of the IMF, according to Wikipedia is to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

      The IMF is the one working on Special Drawing Rights.

  37. Paul says:

    I’ve rattled a few cages passing around the FT article today http://ftalphaville.ft.com/files/2013/01/Perfect-Storm-LR.pdf

    The FT has gravitas (and I don’t) so when they write this the antennae start to twitch….

    One has to wonder why the FT is running this — after all they are MSM…. to what purpose?

    I wonder if at some point the central banks simply give up trying to fool people and we get an announcement that actually outlines the actual problem that we are facing —- and that we will require massive sacrifices to overcome this problem (e.g. seizing all wealth).

    Kinda like ‘the Martians are attacking — we all need to pull together’

    At the same time trying to make sure they don’t cause massive panic…. perhaps that will be one of the last bullets they use before the ship sinks…. who the hell knows…

    But it does appear we are getting a lot closer to the end game here…

    • B9K9 says:

      Well, Paul, I (we) can tell from your posting activity that this subject is perhaps still somewhat new information to you. If you’re curious, and the search function is working, take a look @ some of original my comments @ ZH from 4-5 years ago.

      From the outset, I used to point out that Bernanke was doing more than simply buying time. In fact, it was nothing more than a gamble – hope & prayer – that some new Ghawar type of miracle energy source would be discovered to save humanity’s collective bacon. Alas, we of course now the outcome of that experiment.

      But more to your point regarding finally informing the sheep of the reality of our situation. I used to riff on C Hedges to understand the underlying motivation of the various legal protocols and infrastructure developments being created by the deep state in preparation for their “coming out party”.

      At this point, everything seems to be pretty much in order. If the US fed.gov can hurry up and substitute 20-50m new passive immigrants while simultaneously killing off the old guard – those who bitterly cling to their beliefs – then they will be in fine position for complete & total dominance of the core population. Once that’s in place, then it will finally be time to inform everyone why they must now work for their superiors to ensure a continuity of the lifestyle they thought they were getting.

      You’re close to having all the answers – except in your own head. Once you reconcile the BAU hamster policies with the necessity of the ongoing propaganda campaign, then the topic no longer remains interesting. At that point, your posting frequency will drop until perhaps you simply stop, as I did @ ZH 2-3 years ago. After awhile, it’s just the same shit, different day. Nothing is going to change until it does; and when it does, none us are going to be prepared.

      • Paul says:

        I’ve known something was wrong since around the turn of the century — but I couldn’t put my finder on exactly what the problem was.

        I began to suspect oil was the issue when the latest iteration of the crisis hit in 2008 — but I did not understand the specifics until the last couple of years — and particularly when I discovered Gail’s writings.

        So the info in the FT article is not really new — nothing that hasn’t already been divulged on this blog.

        i too mostly stopped ranting at the policies — once I understood the true nature of the problem — in fact I now support many of the things I was against in the past — mainly because I do not think there is much of a future post-oil.

        it is quite clear that the PTB are bolting together Big Brother — militarized police, NSA monitoring, 1.6 billion rounds of ammo….

        It is of course futile to attempt to explain to the likes of Hedges what this is all about — he is living in an old paradigm… where standing for what is right made sense and one could enact change (I still get caught up in that paradigm from time to time myself – old habits die hard)

        What is coming trumps everything — economics, history, politics, sports, literature, technology — all will cease to be relevant. Every benchmark of normalcy will be thrown in the trash bin.

        The PTB as always have a plan what would have them remain at the top of the garbage pile — but I suspect this time is different — none of us are prepared — none of us really can prepare — and that includes the masters of the universe.

        The masters of the universe aka the PTB — like each of us — attempts to influence the world — to protect our interests — the only difference is one of scale. But in this instance all the money and power and military might is likely to be completely overwhelmed by a rather unique set of circumstances.

        I note that Jamie Dimon was diagnosed with cancer the other day.

        It will be interesting to see how the masses react when the snarling beast finally comes out from behind the curtain. I see Egypt as the experiment — when things get bad enough — people will grow to love the beast.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “Nothing is going to change until it does; and when it does, none us are going to be prepared.”

        You’re right, of course, that there is no such thing as perfect preparedness. But certainly, some will be more prepared than others, and those will be the ones most likely to survive.

        Like the joke about the two guys running from the bear. Neither one can outrun the bear, but one will outrun the other!

        It’s a bit of a treadmill, though. As things get tougher, more and more suburbanites are putting in gardens, for example. One has to keep one step ahead of the competition when it comes to preparedness.

        • xabier says:

          I have to confess to rather negative feelings about Survivalism.

          After all, I am not all that important when I last checked!

          I spend quite as much time thinking about how to nurture birds, bees and every creeping, flying and buzzing thing with what I plant as I allow for the question of feeding myself and others.

          Similarly, the contemplation and understanding of Change is perhaps more valuable than obsessing about Collapse.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            “I have to confess to rather negative feelings about Survivalism.”

            So do I.

            By using the word “survive,” I did not mean to imply all that upper-case “Survivalism” implies.

            Certainly, if one does not survive, one cannot do all the things one thinks are important, such an nurturing birds, bees, and every creeping, flying, and buzzing thing!

            • Paul says:

              If I survive — and life turns out to be nasty and brutish — I will be pleased if it also turns out to be short as well. In the meantime, I continue to put in place things that increase the odds that life will be at least tolerable. Doing nothing is not an option

    • Christian says:

      Closer to the end game. Yes, even IEA is starting to throw in the towel. Regarding new arrangements, I wonder if the military personnel will be willing to share a tiny retirement with the civilians

    • There are some strange IMF things that have come out recently. One of them you pointed out recently:
      Within that, there is a link to a new Reinhart and Rogoff Paper, “Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Lessons Learned and Lessons Forgotten” found at this link http://armstrongeconomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/IMF-Sovereign-Debt-Crisis.pdf

      Today I ran across a really bizarre numerology reference by Christine Lagarde, in this post (with video links): http://usawatchdog.com/official-2014-imf-forecast-based-on-magic-number-seven-steve-quayle/

      Supposedly July 20, 2014 is the date of some announcement according to Steve Quayle’s interpretation. It is pretty clear that the reference is to someday in July, and July 2, July 11, or July 20 would fit the numerological requirement. The reference to G-20 supposedly would suggest that the appointed date is July 20.

      • timl2k11 says:

        “Today I ran across a really bizarre numerology reference by Christine Lagarde, in this post (with video links): http://usawatchdog.com/official-2014-imf-forecast-based-on-magic-number-seven-steve-quayle/
        It’s an interesting concept. How do you “encode” critical information in such a way that the general public won’t pick up on it? It is very odd of her to have referenced (and opened with!) numerology completely out of the blue.

      • Christian says:

        “It is noteworthy that the IMF imagines this haircut on private creditors as a kind of condition that bankrupt states must do to get any further loans from official creditors.”

        Welcome to the trying-not-to-default-countries-club :-). It’s the only kind of thing they can do, isn’t? Capital upon everything else. Remember Korowicz said a default on the Eurozone would put a third of the continent upon some nasty food issue some four months later… So that’s what it is all about. Damn it (sorry) but I’ve just lost a lot of improvements in a paper I’m working on about this subject, cause of this stupid technology (XP, should move to Linux I guess)… The hamster is running out of black blood, now it’ll get some red one… Nobody really likes my revolutionary stuff, but don’t miss that conditions allowing bankers and polititians will literally get our shirts. That’s their job now, the only one they have, and we are the only target at sight.

      • Christian says:

        “most advanced economies, where debt restructuring or conversions, financial repression, and a tolerance for higher inflation, or a combination of these were an integral part of the resolution of significant past debt overhangs”

        Another welcome to the club. What’s the strange thing here? I remember Graeber mentioned this point many times…

  38. Paul says:

    Radical Stupidity: Academics Endorse $20,000 Income for Everyone, Working or Not

    Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/07/radical-stupidity-academics-endorse.html#6LteZT1eobWudJPS.99

    Alas Mr Mish… not so stupid — if only you could get your mind around the fact that the old economic model is DEAD — because the oil that was used to grease the wheels on that machine — is way too expensive these days — and the wheels are grinding to a halt

    Under that model yes – this would be stupidity.

    As would printing 29 trillion dollars and pumping it into the stock market — as would be trillions more and pumping it into the bond and housing markets….

    All sheer stupidity back in the day — but not now — all of these sorts of things are wise central banking policy.

    I’ve heard that MBA programmes will soon be changing their syllabi —- but this will probably blow sky high before they get to that.

    It amazes me that these financial analysts continue to scream and wail (Stockman, Mish, and many others) — open your eyes boys — the central bankers are not stupid — they are DESPERATE.

  39. Paul says:

    More on the insanity in China More on the China insanity http://www.bloomberg.com/video/china-s-manhattan-plan-marred-by-ghost-buildings-Yq8Bh1qNTJiWAPL1P9dO6A.html

    Dedicated to keeping the hamster running….

      • Paul says:

        Why do I feel like I am in and episode of the Twilight Zone?

        Just going through the FT report…. they are finally beginning to report what has been obvious to many of us for quite some time….

        For anyone not having the time to read 85 pages (although it is well worth the time) — this sums it up:

        The economy is a surplus energy equation, not a monetary one, and growth in output
        (and in the global population) since the Industrial Revolution has resulted from the
        harnessing of ever-greater quantities of energy. But the critical relationship between
        energy production and the energy cost of extraction is now deteriorating so rapidly that
        the economy as we have known it for more than two centuries is beginning to unravel.


        • Paul says:

          From the FT article:

          The magic bullet, of course, would be
          the discovery of a new source of energy
          which can reverse the winding-down
          of the critical energy returns equation.
          Some pin their faith in nuclear fusion
          but this, even if it works, lies decades
          in the future – that is, long after the
          global EROEI has fallen below levels
          which will support society as we know
          it. Solutions such as biofuels and
          shales are rendered non-workable by
          their intrinsically-low EROEIs.

          Likewise, expecting a technological
          solution to occur would be extremely
          unwise, because technology
          uses energy – it does not create it. To expect
          technology to provide an answer
          would be equivalent to locking the
          finest scientific minds in a bank-
          vault, providing them with enormous
          computing power and vast amounts
          of money, and expecting them to
          create a ham sandwich

          • Paul says:

            Key parts to this are part 1 – and the summary that starts on p 59 for anyone not wanting to read the whole 84 pages

            • Paul says:

              Going through that — sounds like he’s been reading Finite World…. most of what is covered has been covered here…

          • Interguru says:

            “For anyone not having the time to read 85 pages (although it is well worth the time) ”

            Paul. In all seriousness, how do you get so much time to read and write?

            • Paul says:

              Funny – my wife asks the same question!

              I am up around 5am most mornings — I try to delegate as much as possible (usually to people far more capable than me) — so basically I just pick up work-related emails as they dribble in throughout the day

              While I am waiting on emails I remain at the computer most of the time so I use that time to pursue rabbits down holes — reading all sorts of stuff (which usually leads me to link off and read other stuff) — pulling down various newsletters — and making comments from time to time. Lots of time to pile through book reading as well…

              I do get away from the screen a couple of times during the day to get a couple of long sessions out on the field. From time to time I try to go to have a look around some interesting places. I’m very keen to see Iran before it’s no longer possible. Saw something about a 1000 year old market in one of the cities…

        • Christian says:

          Paul it’s not an FT report, it’s Tullett Prebon’s. Their CV:


          I can’t find the link to the article in the alphaville blog site, neither do it in TP’s one. How did you got that?

      • xabier says:

        I’m going to recommend they build a copy of my town in China – then it will be easier to move around in the summer tourist season. With only one long and picturesque main street, I feel like an Islamic insurgent trying to find the weak spot in a long convoy….

        Mind you, making one’s way through several hundred Chinese -always polite – is a lot nicer than trying to push through a dozen Europeans: Spanish, French and Italians being the very worst offenders for bad and inconsiderate pavement manners. As for the English, often too fat to move with much agility these days, rather pathetic to see.

  40. Paul says:

    The Next Global Meltdown Is Baked In: Connecting The Dots Between Oil, Debt, Interest Rates And Risk

    The Federal Reserve’s zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) has two purposes:

    1. Channel immense sums of free money to the too big to fail banks by relieving them of the onerous requirement of paying interest on deposits while giving them unlimited access to nearly-free money they can lend out at huge spreads. (This is crony-capitalism writ large. The winners were picked by the Fed and the rest of us are the losers. Yea for the godlike Fed, our modern-day Mammon.)

    2. To keep consumption alive as income declined and the oil tax eroded household disposable income, the Fed made borrowing cheaper.


  41. Paul says:

    Iraqi Hydrocarbon Prize of U.S. Invasion in Danger?

  42. MJx says:

    * Highlights OPEC supply challenges, cuts Iraq oil forecast

    * Sees peak in global oil demand growth coming after 2015

    * Says shale oil to make some impact outside U.S. by 2019

    * China may overtake U.S. as top crude importer in 2014 (Adds details, IEA comment from paragraph 2, link to graphic)

    • Christian says:

      The end of the article:

      After 2015, the IEA sees a slowdown in global oil demand growth further down the road, citing environmental concerns and cheaper alternatives to oil.

      “While ‘peak demand’ for oil, other than in mature economies, may still be many years away, peak oil demand growth for the market as a whole is already in sight,” it said.

      • Paul says:

        “cheaper alternatives to oil” — and what might those be?

        I suppose they wanted to leave the sheeple with a positive take away….

    • The IEA report notes:

      “Oil markets are in many ways tighter today than they were at the onset of the U.S. shale and tight oil boom, and considerably tighter than they were a year ago,” the IEA said.

      Yet the prices aren’t all that much different from a year ago. People can’t afford to pay much more.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Yeah, I agree oil price is pushed up against an affordability ceiling. Unfortunately once hit it marked the beginning of the end, as the historical norm of rising price to support rising extraction, to support ever increasing growth is no longer effective. In fact it won’t even support the current rate of extraction, and as this dynamic pincers in, the economically viable list of oil sources will shorten, eliminating presumed URR and replacing it with sharply declining URR.

        We have hit a ‘limit’ to growth in the form of oil affordability.

      • Christian says:

        There is a difference, may be it’s what IEA is referring to. The point is two years ago the shift, the amplitude in Brent price variation has entered a narrower phase. This trend is likely going infinitesimal. So we have to expect criticallity arising as market’s indefinition would be overwhelmed. We can see that the last month’s Iraq’s affair shifted Brent price almost a third within the prevaling two years range. Gail may be you can plot something upon this.

        • Thanks for the suggestion. Now price is back down again.

          I think we may be in an overshoot period–prices are too high for consumers, but they are not high enough for producers and exporters. Crises don’t move prices very much any more.

          The scary part is what happens as we start seeing the effects of low prices for the oil exporters and oil producers (selling off resources, more belligerent action by exporters). If prices bounce up much at all because of reduced production or reduced exports, the economy seems likely to “tank”.

          • xabier says:


            A few reports in the British press caught my eye – headlines that support your thesis on financial pressures:

            ‘Study concludes the basic cost of living for a British family has risen by 46% since 2008’. (And, I would add, a lot more since 2000, judging by my food bills!)

            ‘Institute of Chartered Engineers report says ‘Why build more infrastructure when we can’t maintain what we already have?’ (Why indeed!)

            Low interest rates – enabling the payment of mortgages – and maximum credit facilities to offset a huge rise in basic costs and stagnation of wages, are the only reason that many families can still get by. This is while the UK is supposedly enjoying a ‘roaring recovery’…..

      • Christian says:

        And this peak demand or peak production, the point is the matching. I guess IEA is controlled my the majors and OPEC, and as everybody sees the source of problems away to them it’s obviously client’s fault. As consumers, we tend to see a production failure.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “Yet the prices aren’t all that much different from a year ago. People can’t afford to pay much more.”

        As Simon Michaux put it, there is no longer “supply elasticity.” In the video that has been posted here several times, he shows that oil went from supply-priced to demand-priced in 2008.

  43. xabier says:


    Your failed permaculture course offer is very illuminating.

    The thing is, these guys are peasants – born to it, but not necessarily loving it. Everywhere on Earth that they’ve had the chance to escape the peasant life, they have done so. Even modern farming is too hard – the hours are unsocial, and it’s financially too uncertain – to retain the young. This is why farmers in Europe are mostly over 60. (Every time a peasant farmer dies in a tractor accident where my Spanish family live, I note his age – never under 60). When their kids, or grandchildren die, they lived in town and drove their car into a tree when drunk/drugged at 3am – no tractor accidents for them…..and no farming!

    What did your course offer them? More work, less free time. Resilience? What’s that to them? Chemicals? Great!

    I make an exception for the heroic young hill farmers of Britain, to whom I doff my hat in salute: shafted by the supermarket buyers, ignored by government, earning next to nothing, but still going on with the family tradition.

    • Jan Steinman says:

      “Every time a peasant farmer dies in a tractor accident where my Spanish family live, I note his age – never under 60.”

      Of course, that might have as much to do with being over 60 than it does with the age distribution of farmers!

      Being just on the south side of that decade, I know I’m not as good a tractor operator as I once was. Especially with older equipment, it takes strength and quick thought — two things that start to decline around that age.

      • MJx says:

        4% of the population in Valencia Spain are in faring and over 90% are over 40 years old

      • I think that there is an issue in many places, though, that farmers tend to be older. When an industry has been shrinking, few new people are added. The result is a very skewed age distribution.

        We are running into some of that same issue in other industries. The electrical grid was put in place in the 1960s, and many fewer work on it now. Even oil field engineers have a big gap in ages, with quite a few old, not many in the middle, and some new.

        • xabier says:


          It doesn’t apply to farming of course, but in Europe the age distribution can be skewed by the sheer cost of laying-off older workers, due to protective legislation. The IMF and the Troika are pushing to change that, and on the whole I think it a good thing, as it does squeeze out the young almost completely in some fields. In the local VW factory where my Spanish family live, there is barely a worker under 40, which is a nonsense.

          • Christian says:

            Xabier, you know people under 40 will not have a future making cars

            • xabier says:

              Yes, and, of course, I’d like to see all the young being taught how to grow some of their food and that is happening in fits and starts, but right now they’d like some work after leaving school!

              I just love the unions in Spain: ‘More Socialism! More Work for the Young! Share the Work!’ Nice banners. But ask them to give up their grip on jobs: to hell with that!

              Their attitude is disgraceful, if predictable. They are also engulfed in immense corruption scandals, to equal the politicians, which is saying something!

          • In one way or another, even without protective legislation, that is happening everywhere. If a field is shrinking, it is hard to add new bodies, when the old ones are doing a fairly acceptable job of keeping the status quo. The book publishing industry is an example, but almost everything has this issue. Medicine has been the big exception, but the rest of us cannot afford to pay for ever-more-expensive treatments for the same old diseases–especially when life expectancy is stagnating relative to other countries.

        • edpell says:

          Gail, you are right about the electric industry it is run and staffed by old men. They still think it is 1950 and do not want to hear about any of that that newfangled tech-nol-ah-gee.

      • xabier says:


        Two years ago two Basque farmers had a punch-up in a field, to settle a feud which had been boiling since their twenties.

        Both died. One from a punch, the other from the exertion.

        They were in their 80’s! I love rural life, always entertaining.

        • Christian says:

          Good story. Where I live some “serrano” -as we call people born in the hills- smashed a close friend of him with an axe to take his monthly salary. But it happens among them, it’s like a game we are (hopefully) not invited

          • xabier says:


            What about the old Argentine knife-fighting? Or was that just the gauchos? Axes are for the Basques, or so we like to think.

            I almost prefer it when they kill one another, to when they kick goats to death for fun.

            My family come, in part, from the Sierra de Urbasa in Navarre, tough place in terms of both climate and people, and used to breed good soldiers for the Spanish Empire, but not much of a murder rate now as it’s mostly empty, everyone’s gone to town……

            • Christian says:

              Hey Xabier

              Knives were gaucho’s arms, and guapos tangueros used them in the early 1900’s. Now knives are mostly popular in jails, and I got robbed once when threatened with a big kitchen specimen.

              It’s not culturally supported, but there surely are some basque genes around. And regarding your axes… three years I worked in a hotel in the sierra here, up in the hills no 220v etc, The owner was a 73 year old Basque, Manolo, quite a character. He had an axe set, very sharp all of them. And it happens I took one to do… well just to play, and cut one of my toes very badly. I reached the hospital the day after, too late to stitch. Nevertheless, the wound made it pretty well. It took 6 years until I used an axe again (a small one for sure).

              Manolo had smoothly painted the sticks holding the wires of the perimeter in green, red and white. It was not his case because he came in the 30’s, but your country fellows have had very prominent ranking here at the colonial stage and later, and even now names as Anchorena and Arrieta control half of the best lands of the country. Perhaps there is a cousin of you over there?

            • Christian says:

              Edit: Axes are not culturally…

            • xabier says:


              Hang an axe up over the fireplace, blade uppermost,and it protects against all evils. Might as well try it, eh?

              Lots of relations in Argentina through my step-mother, an Aranoa, whose grandfather had to flee for his life from Franco. But my direct ancestors, the de Baquedanos from the sierras, went to other places within the Spanish Empire much earlier, all professional soldiers.

              Poor men from the mountains went all over the Americas as shepherds and adventurers in the 19th c, the lucky ones returning to Spain as ‘Americanos’ to build nice houses in their home valleys and wonder at how everything had changed in their absence……

            • Christian says:

              “Hang an axe up over the fireplace, blade uppermost,and it protects against all evils.”

              Mañana mismo lo intento, je. Saludos

          • MJ says:

            When I played golf, something similar happened up in Stoneham Mass at Unicorn Golf Course.
            Two retired neighbors sharing a property line with the golf course would vie to collect lost golf balls and resell them to passing players at tables each had in their own backyard. Seems they came upon a few balls .in the “neutral zone” at the same time and a fight erupted. Needless to say, one died from the exertion and the other died from the punch. Oh my!

            • xabier says:


              Excellent story. Such a smart species surely has to be able to get out of this fix, eh?!!

            • timl2k11 says:

              The neocortex is a relatively recent development. It’s like a new set of wheels we are still trying to master. When it comes to survival and even plain old territorial pissings, I think many of us revert to our ape heritage!

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear timl2k11 and Xabier
              The situation is actually more interesting than reverting to our ape ancestors.

              The recently evolved parts of the brain are inherited from one’s mother. The more ancient parts of the brain are inherited from one’s father. We might oversimplify and say that the ‘mother brain’ thinks like this:

              Perhaps the two of us can cooperate and do better than if we fight each other to the death.

              The ‘father brain’ thinks like this:

              Kill strangers first and ask questions later.

              In historical times, a few kings and warriors sired far more than their share of the children. In biology, more than 99 percent of the living creatures never have an offspring. Humans probably never reached that level, but it was once much higher than the percentage today. So our ancestors were much more shaped by some very violent men.

              Somewhere along the way, we invented the notion of monogamy. Even if the female strayed, or was raped, the husband in most cases still assumed he was the father. Female birds are quite fond of straying, but the ‘husband’ still goes out and gathers worms and feeds them to those hungry mouths that he thinks are ‘my kids’. So now we have achieved, I would guess, a ratio of perhaps only 25 percent of humans having no offspring.

              The result of diversifying the pool from which the ‘father brain’ is drawn would, I think, result in a more equal balance between the more reason driven newer parts of the brain and the more primitive impulse parts of the brain. Which could help explain the recent historical decline in violence.

              Don Stewart

  44. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    I predicted quite a long time ago that there was nothing Russia could do that would satisfy the US short of surrendering its oil and gas. Somehow, the US has gotten Europe to go along with what seems to a rational observer like idiotic actions. The latest is a refusal to be part of the South Stream pipeline which would bypass Ukraine. For a good laugh, read the comments of the US Senators. What is Europe thinking? ..Don Stewart


    • MJx says:

      Love the comments section to the article above. Zerohedge has a number of first rate comedians and better than “comedy CentraL” Thanks for sharing.
      Have a co-worker that is wishing to get transferred back to Las Vegas and he is one Guy that deserves to go there, if you know what I mean.

    • This is an excerpt from the Last Vegas article you link to:

      “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly,” warns Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, telling The Telegraph, the situation in Las Vegas is “as bad as you can imagine”. After a devastating, 14-year drought drained the reservoir that supplies 90% of the city’s water, the apparently endless supply of water is an illusion as Las Vegas population has soared. As Barnett ominously concludes, “unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere, Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.”

      I know a couple who retired to Las Vegas. It struck me as a strange thing to do. Of course, if you don’t think about resources, everything should be OK.

      I wonder how housing prices will react in the next 10 years in Las Vegas. I wonder how many of the mortgages will actually be paid in full? How about paying off all of the bonds relating to casinos?

      • John C Green Jr says:

        Smells like a lot of stranded capital to me. The Ancestral Publeoans (Anasazi) abandoned the Four Corners area possibly because of The Great Drought. Las Vegas has advantage relative to the Ancestral Publeoans as it has Lake Meade which helps it survive drought. However Las Vegas has a disadvantage relative to the Ancestral Publeoans as it has over 400K people each using over 200 gal./day of water which makes it vulnerable to drought.

        Google of “stranded capital” results in most early hits being about fisheries. It’s hard to repurpose an industrial fishing boat or a seaside fish processing plant. The Ancestral Publeoans were willing to walk away abandoning everything. Perhaps the abandoned Las Vegas Hotel/Casinos will be visited by future tourists like Pubelo Bonito is today to marvel at the largest apartment house on earth with over 800 rooms built in stages over a three hundred year period ending in 1150. No larger one was built until the late 1800s in NYC. Of course 850 years after abandonment it’s unlikely that Las Vegas will be in as good shape as Publeo Bonito is today. 🙂

  45. MJ says:

    “I can’t believe someone would be that low to rob people’s oil,” said Rocky Point resident Richard Giallanzo

    Police: Heating Oil Siphoned From LI Home

  46. jeremy890 says:

    This JUST IN from BP OIL: The World has 53.3 years of Oil left….
    BP raised its reserve estimate by 1.1% to 1,687.9 billion barrels, which is enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current production rates. However, there’s likely a lot more oil left in the tank beyond what BP sees today.
    good portion of the growth in global oil reserves in BP’s report comes from the United States. According to BP, the U.S. has 44.2 billion barrels of oil reserves, which is 26% higher than it previously thought. It’s also quite a bit more optimistic than the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which recently increased its estimate to 33.4 billion barrels of reserves, or 15% more than previously thought.
    The overall cause for that surge in oil reserves is that America’s shale oil plays — the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin — are now being unlocked through horizontal drilling technology.
    Despite the big boost in reserves over the past year, there appears to be much more oil potential in each shale play, with the Permian Basin really standing out.
    Investor takeaway
    While the world as BP sees it might just hold 53.3 years’ worth of oil, that certainly does not mean we’ll run out of oil anytime soon. New shale plays continue to be discovered in the U.S., which should fuel substantial gains in reserves over the next decade. There’s plenty of oil still left in the world’s tank thanks to the development of America’s shale resources.
    Interesting, and I suppose they don’t agree with us here at all. Time will tell.

    • Paul says:

      Assuming we peaked in 2005 — that means half the oil on the planet remains in the ground.

      So there is plenty of oil left.

      But the problem is the COST to find and extract what is left is enormous….

      That is why oil is above $100 a barrel – if it drops — then it will not be profitable to extract it.


      According to the OECD Economics Department and the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices. http://www.iea.org/textbase/npsum/high_oil04sum.pdf

      So if $35 oil does this to growth – what does $110 oil do to growth?

      For the thousandth time — we are not out of oil – we are out of CHEAP oil…. the global economy — as we are finding out — does not like $100+ oil — and we are trying to offset the impact of expensive oil by printing money and running ZIRP.

      I guarantee you — those policies will fail LONG before we pump the last barrel of oil out of the ground.

      Wanna bet?

    • John Doyle says:

      53 years of oil left “at current consumption” is a mathematical trap for the unwary.
      I suggest you look at Al Bartletts presentation ;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umFnrvcS6AQ&feature=youtu.be.
      The exponential equation reduces coal supplies from 500 years to 50 years.
      Actually we will never run out of oil. What we will run out of is economically recoverable oil. Once it costs more than a dollar to capture a dollar’s worth no corporation will touch it. Already corporations are losing money as capture is not remunerated in the current market
      So 53 years is a blink of an eye!

      • I rather like the notion of 53.3 years
        It’s OK boys, we’re OK till the end of March.
        After that run for the hills.—Even doomsters need to laff sometimes
        Rather like the 4004 BC creationists—-

    • edpell says:

      As Paul says it is all about the cost. How much of the 1690 billion barrels can be extracted for $10/barrel, for $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640 dollars per barrel?

    • I hope some folks will figure out that the investment dollars won’t be there to get it all out.

  47. jeremy890 says:

    Thought this was amusing about a protest group “Rising Tide”:
    Portland Rising Tide showed up about 5:30 a.m. Monday, and a woman strapped herself to a barrel filled with concrete that said “No Oil is Safe.” The barrel was placed on train tracks used by ArcLogists, a crude-oil transport company.
    Police hauled the woman and the barrel off the tracks. But they found the woman’s right arm was somehow embedded in the concrete.
    “We are against trying to shift the narrative about oil trains away from the fact they occasionally explode in derailments to the fact when oil is used it causes far greater harm to the communities.”
    Meredith Cocks said that oil trains are “clearly unsafe.
    “But the impact on our climate are even more dangerous in he long run,” she said, “and we can not ignore either of these threats to our community.
    Wonder how many “protests groups” there will be when the oil STOPS coming?

    • edpell says:

      Do they propose an alternative to the crude-oil transported by rail?

      • Jeremy says:

        Rising Tide is committed to stopping the extraction of fossil fuels and preventing the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Equally important, we must make a just transition to sustainable livelihoods that foster local autonomy and self-sufficiency.
        or their home page
        Seems to be an offshoot of EARTH FIRST!
        Very informative articles and links and appears to be a vibrant group of activists. Reminds me of the 1980’s!
        Good for THEM. (Even if it means SWHTF if they succeed)

      • Stevo says:

        This is a problem with people on the liberal side, they don’t get the whole picture. When I tell liberals that we are going to see a decline in the fracking in the U.S…they say great! Fracking is so bad! I guess that is better than the people on the far right who say it is Obama’s fault or that oil is abiotic… And we know this is crazy because it came from the Aliens!

        • Paul says:

          Fracking is of course bad — but the alternative is far, far, far worse…

          Liberals/environmentalists seem to have not thought this through….. in many instances they cannot understand why we don’t simply develop green alternatives…. again they have not thought that through either… mainly because they are beholden to the MSM and the green media — which have convinced them the future is green — and that the impediment is the oil lobby.

          And when faced with overwhelming evidence that a green future is not possible on any level — they recoil — they become angry — and they refuse to objectively examine the facts.

          The belief in ‘green’ is not much different that the belief in a ‘god’ — if you take it away you take away hope — and for most — acknowledging the flimsy ground on which they stand — is a quick path to despair.

          So very much understandable why people grasp at such concepts.

          • edpell says:

            Lawrence Livermore National Labs proposed they calculate the total life cycle cost of all energy systems. Their proposal was rejected.

            My rough calculation say it would cost 1/8 of a million dollars per person to provide their needed energy via solar PV. That would be 40 trillion dollars for the US. This is just a rough estimate. This is not a statement for or against solar PV. It is just the cost. Maybe other energy sources are cheaper.

            Does that must surplus still exist? I do not know.

            • edpell says:


            • Paul says:

              if we invested that amount in solar panels the world would asphyxiate on all the lignite coal that would be burned in the production of those panels.

              And in any event, even if we could do that at a reasonable cost — it would not solve the fundamental problem of the end of cheap oil.

            • Solar PV does not substitute for oil. In fact, it doesn’t even substitute for dependable electricity. I expect your calculation needs a bunch of adjustments.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear Gail and All

              Wikipedia has a nice article on solar hot water:

              Some popular systems in China are less than 250 dollars. Also, note the very high penetrations in countries like Israel with lots of sunshine.

              Don Stewart

            • Thanks for the link to the wikipedia article. Solar hot water is theoretically like a water bottle left in the sun. Theoretically it can be done very cheaply. And it is, in countries that are not used to water heated to a precise temperature every hour of every day–particularly warm countries, where freezing is not a problem.

              In the US and other countries where subsidies and debt is available, and people are used to higher standards, a much fancier system is designed with bigger capacity, integration with “regular heater” to give the same heat all the time, and other bells and whistles. The cost is a lot higher.

        • MJ says:

          The problem with “conservatives”: is they wish the world as “it should be to them” and not what it actually is. I bet over HALF of the the consumer products we produce has no bearing on any tangible benefit for life endeavors. On the contrary it is a detriment to an individuals well being.
          The ONLY focus is a limited view of “profits” and “growth:. regardless of the manner it is attained/
          I HOPE there is an economic collapse. A TOTAL FAILURE or institutions here in the United States. than people we wake up to REALITY of their LIVES. Not some manufactures Madison Acvenue product that is pitched.

          • Paul says:

            I hear you but the problem is when this happens (not if… when) we will wake up to a reality that I think is different from what you appear to envision.

            They will wake up to a world of epic starvation — lack of clean water — disease — pestilence — death — and suffering on a scale far beyond what we have ever seen.

            Somalia today will look prosperous and organized by comparison to what is coming.

            Be careful what you wish for — there is not going back to Little House on the Prairie — you can only do that by watching re-runs.

            • MJ says:

              Starvation….you, PAUL, even ADMIT that close to 100% of people are relying ON OIL and Natural gas for their FOOD!
              How MUCH is being devoted to GROWING FCKING LAWNS!?
              People NEED to WAKE UP!

            • Paul says:

              An anecdote…. I put the word out in our village that anyone who wanted a crash course on permaculture was welcome to visit our little farming disneyland… We offered to pass out seeds to anyone who wanted them free of charge.

              Nobody showed up.

              When I asked the guys who help me on our property why not — they said no interest — they prefer to do things the easy way — sprinkle the magic pellets on the ground…

              People will wake up at some point — I expect that point will be when the rioters clear the shops of every last bit of food — and the delivery trucks don’t arrive to replenish the shelves…

              Unfortunately growing food takes months assuming you even know how to do so. I just did a hunting/survival course — if I recall 2 weeks is about the limit you can go without food…

              Not very good news for those of us who do produce food.

              Needless to say, I am not looking forward to the point when this all unravels — I cannot feed an entire village of hundreds… and sadly when the magic pellets are not available — their farms will grow nothing.

  48. edpell says:

    To the person who asks why keep coming back? For me I learn new things. The discussion does not necessarily change one day to the next but over time new ideas are being brought up, world news makes more sense with resource considerations as a background, there are several topics that can be discussed here that can taboo in almost all other sites.

    I do not find it gloomy. Things are what they are, I am not going to stew about them. Not living in Yemen I still have a comfortable life and being an intellectual enjoy the conversation.

    • Stevo says:

      That is because you are probably part of the wealthy elite…your rewards given to you from the backs of poor…..”I do not find it gloomy. Things are what they are, I am not going to stew about them. Not living in Yemen I still have a comfortable life and being an intellectual enjoy the conversation.” Those of us with young children it sucks and it will be hard not to scapegoat the older generation as they had all this information laid out in front of them since 1953 and chose to ignore it…. I don’t find myself “gloomy” I find myself pissed off…whether justified or not there a millions more young people like me….so hold that thought.
      Would love to sit and drink fine brandy but I need to hit the target range—-

      • Paul says:

        Stevo — pissed off at who?

        Someone posted this earlier – well worth reading http://www.feasta.org/2014/03/17/how-to-be-trapped/

        As Korowitz points out — the environmentalists are as much a part of the ‘problem’ as is Paris Hilton…. they are participating in the system — they fly – they use smart phones – they consume…

        And they buy endless gadgets for their children – who demand them….

        The only ones who have a right to be pissed off and shout ‘hypocrites!’ would be those who have chosen to live a a completely self-sustaining life — and when I say that I mean living a ‘Walden – Life in the Woods’ type existence — but there are not too many Thoreau’s on the planet (Ted Kaczynski was one of few…)

        I think the Rubicon was passed with the green revolution — there was no turning back the moment we started to farm using chemicals derived from oil and gas. Let’s say the year that decision was made was 1953….

        Put yourself in the drivers seat — if we don’t go in that direction what happens? Growth stops — civilization as we knew it would stop — yes we could survive in greater numbers but everything we took for granted — hospitals, modern conveniences, appliances, travel, etc etc etc would have disappeared — we would have gone back to ground zero…

        Would you have made that decision? Would you have been ALLOWED to make that decision?

        No way in hell.

        There would be those – and there are those — who would say — you cannot deny progress — and you would say BUT — we will run out of oil and gas — and they would say — we will invent our way out of this — we are humans — we are brilliant — we are problem solvers…

        I blame nobody — I don’t like the consumerist society we live in but then I do not live in a hut in the jungle catching fish and picking fruit — so who am I to criticize?

        I would argue that even the most impoverished in the world should embrace what they have — because when the SHTF — no matter what your position is now — it’s going to look like prosperity when you look back.

        Keeping in mind in the current paradigm the happiest people tend not to be the wealthiest — contrary to what the MSM might tell you.

        Let’s not blame anyone for not being able to ‘live large’ — because really — at the end of the day that’s what most people desire to do — and they are increasingly pissed off that they cannot. So if we want someone to blame — let’s look in the mirror — it is our desire to always have ‘more’ that is our undoing…

        Again from Korowitz:

        “So long as the object of our craving is unattained it seems more precious than anything besides. Once it is ours we crave for something else. So an unquenchable thirst for life keeps us always on the grasp.”

        • ordinaryjoe says:

          “The only ones who have a right to be pissed off and shout ‘hypocrites!’ would be those who have chosen to live a a completely self-sustaining life — and when I say that I mean living a ‘Walden – Life in the Woods’ type existence — but there are not too many Thoreau’s on the planet (Ted Kaczynski was one of few…)”

          Out of all the beautiful peaceful people choosing to reduce their consumption you choose a murderer to represent them?

          “so who am I to criticize? ”
          Paul you criticize everthing from the smell of Harpers underwear to fit of Bushs shoes. I notice you stay far away from the subject of Obama being the one dropping bombs- to painful for a liberal. Social issues deserve your 24-7 paul comentary but environmental issues no one has the right. Who do you think you are?

          “they fly – they use smart phones – they consume…”
          Im a environmentalist and I dont fly or use a smart phone. I would dearly love another trip around the world and Ive got plenty of fiat to do it but I dont deserve it. When I was much younger I went around the world. Why do I deserve to get to use that sort of energy once let alone twice? How bout the your neighbors in Bali- are they jetting down to cabo wabo for a beer this weekend? You define a environmentalist as either a hypocrite (which there are) or a murderer. Just be honest Paul. Your rich you like to consume and you dont care about the planet. From my way of sizing things that makes you exactly the same as any other rich individual who doesnt care about things like Bush. You dont care about the species that are going extinct. You would rather consume than admit your relationship to the planet. The air we breathe comes the planet. The food we consume comes from the planet. We are connected. People who are developing and exploring that connection mess with your consumption model so you call them murderers and hypocrites. Your consumption model justifies its consumption by your “awareness” of social issues. The ‘conservative” consumption model is very similar only it justifys consumption on ” I earned it” thing. Just become a conservative Paul it will be easier for you. Youve flat out came out and said you dont give a rats ass about anything but BAU. Youve told us we have no right to complain about environmental issues. Just become a conservative and add social issues to the things peons have no right to complain about and spend your fiat wealth in a glorius orgy of consumption with no hindrance to your consumption model at all..

          • Paul says:

            I used to get my news from the MSM at one point and thought the Unabomber was a mad man… but then when I escaped the matrix and looked deeper into issues I came across this — I suggest you read it before you judge http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt

            Derek Jensen lives with an Indian tribe off the grid as well — he is the author of End Game – he supports violent over throw of the system — http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60971.Endgame_Vol_1

            While I think what he advocates is futile and doomed to failure (he will end up in the same place as Ted if he continues) he does at least walk the walk…

            Word association – Obama >>>> conman, front-man, stooge, same as Bush, Deep State employee.

            Liberals >>> naive, fools, ignorant

            Conservatives >>>> naive, fools, ignorant

            As for the rest of your rant…. let’s take your environmentalism to the logical conclusion. If I and everyone else did what you want — stop flying — stop consuming — guess what would happen?

            You’d enter the stone age within a few weeks — all of that wonderful stuff you take for granted would cease to exist. You wouldn’t even be able to buy a shovel – a piece of hose – a toothbrush — a bucket — a spoon —- the shops would empty and stay empty

            You would be on your own — 100% — no police to protect you — no medical care — nothing — on your own.

            And if you have a food source — get ready for the crazies with the guns to come and take it.

            Got a daughter? A wife?

            Are you ready to deal with what just might happen to them when the worst scum of the earth shows up at your door and decides he wants them. And I do mean scum — the vilest filth that inhabit our prisons will be on the loose — have you thought about that?

            I have.

            We are long past the point of returning to ‘Little House on Prarie’ — if you want a look at what is coming read ‘The Road’ — or better still take a trip to Haiti — I was there 6 months after the quake raising money for an aid organization — it was a total hell hole — you did not venture out at night…. gangs running whores in the tent camps… outbreaks of disease … one night a photo journalist showed me photos of two dead kids taken earlier that evening — shot dead in the middle of the street for taking some food.

            Keep in mind there are plenty of aid agencies at work in Haiti — there will be no aid agencies to help with the SHTF. You will be on your own.

            You bet your bottom dollar I want BAU to continue. Because when it stops all hell is going to break lose.

            Do I care that BAU destroys the environment? Of course I do — one reason I grow my own food is because I don’t like eating chemicals or GMO.

            But I am a realist — we have no other option — stop destroying and we collapse immediately into some hellish, dystopian world — continue with BAU — we end up in the same place — only later.

            I’ll take later.

            And let’s not forget the fact that we have thousands of spent fuel rods in cooling ponds around the world that require BAU to stop from exploding and showering us with poison. Have you thought about that when you wish for BAU to end?

            I will continue to dismiss the ‘environmentalists’ who drive around in the Teslas… who buy the latest smartphone, who plug into facebook and the giant energy consuming internet… and on and on and on… because they haven’t got a clue…

            If you consume – if you use the internet – if you watch TV – if you have a job – if you buy food from a shop — then you are not an environmentalist. Period. Because anything that you do that relies on an infinite growth paradigm sorry to tell you is contributing to the destruction of the planet.

            Unless someone is going to totally unplug — and not have children — then sorry — but I am not interested. Ted unplugged…

            As Mother Jones recently wrote that a child born today will use at least 10x the resources of each of their parents…. so anyone with children by definition is not an environmentalist

            And in the past year we burned a record amount of coal — yep – in spite of solar, in spite of wind, in spite of all these other pointless attempts to be green we are poisoning ourselves at a record pace.

            So ya — I will continue with my BAU lifestyle — a) because it is futile to stop and more importantly b) stopping is not an option

            We are damned if we do — and damned if we don’t.

            So I choose to keep the hamster running as long as possible – because I am quite certain that even those people living in tents in Haiti to this day — are in a better situation than what they will be in when the SHTF.

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              All thats BS Paul. Consumption model BS. My wife and daughter will be raped if I dont take another trip around the world and buy a lexus. Imaginary. You dont know what lies ahead and neither do I. The species that are dieing are real. If you choose to continue your consumption to the extent that your fiat allows thats your choice. You have free choice. Some of us are choosing to reduce our consumption. We want to live simple lives and get as honest as we can. Your consumption model drives you to find the most extreme portrayals of environmentalist you can. We are simple peaceful beautiful people trying to find our relationship to the planet through our actions. If you want to consume just consume. You dont have to portray environmentalist negativly to consume. I dislike the “environmentalists” that consume in excess as much as you do but you must know that not all of us are that way. Their choice. Imaginary. Panels on the roof, prius in the garage every thing else over the top. Yup crazy imaginary consumption model. Why would you condemn people trying to live simply and get right with the planet? Why would you say we have no right to discuss environmental issues? Get honest Paul. Im not a shrink just a observer. Your a smart man. Your portrayal of environmentalists doesnt make sense. Do you consider Farley Mowat an advocate of wife and daughter rape? Get honest. Why are you going to these extremes? Why did you just spend two hours searching out extreme environmentalists on the web? I observe this all the time. Reasonable smart people adopting crooked logic when it comes to their consumption. If Im wrong and your Ok with your consumption why the negative portrayal of environmentalist, the statement we dont have the right to discuss environmental issues, the imaginary rape nuclear release monsters. Why?

            • Paul says:

              Joe — if you are living in a manner similar to what Thoreau did (for a limited time I might add) then fantastic — but as I can see from the fact that you are plugging into the internet you are no different than me — you are consuming — you have bought into BAU — and you are also burning out the planet.

              Do you have a TV?
              Do you have any motor vehicles?
              Do you use hospitals or other gov’t services?
              Do you have a radio?
              Do you shop in a grocery store?
              Do you own anything made in a factory?
              Do you have a mobile phone?
              Do you have a bicycle?
              How much of your own food do you produce?
              Do you have children?
              Do they go to school?

              If yes to any of the above then guess what – you are part of the problem — even if you attempt to cut back you are still part of the problem.

              As Derek Jensen states — there is no compromising with BAU – if you are against it you must reject it completely and you must work to destroy it.

              You cannot pick and choose and say — oh yes I am against BAU — except that I want to watch the NFL playoffs —oh and I want to drive my car to the shop but only once a week , not daily, and anyway it’s a Prius!— and I want to have modern dentistry fix my cavity —- and I really would like to keep my mobile phone, I promise not to upgrade every 6 months, maybe every two years? and and and and and….

              I repeat — unless you go cold turkey and completely reject BAU in every way shape and form then YOU are part of the problem — regardless of if you consume less than me or anyone else.

              As an aside, we buy very little food these days because we produce most of what we need on our farm – I am not doing that because I think I am saving the world — the world is screwed — I am doing it because I know that at some point there will be no other options — and because I enjoy doing it.

              If I am not mistaken the author of this blog is on record as desiring that BAU continue as long as possible… Gail – pleasecorrect me if I am wrong.

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              Paul I could detail my consumption but I will make it easy for you. I live in the USA and consume under $5k a year. Since you inquire, how bout you?

              The occaisonal human that chooses to reduce their consumption is not a threat to your consumption model. Address the real problem. The poor.

              The next time you are driving through a Jakarta slum hop out of your land rover and let them know!

              Tell them “work harder you lazy surfs- consume more! You are putting my daughter at risk my wife at risk! You are putting the whole world at risk of nuclear contamination! Consume more!”

              In this one act you could negate my lack of consumption that is so worriesome to you. Think of the advantages. No need to prove your social awareness to the world to justify your elite lifestyle! Turn your attention to the real threat to your consumption level, get those lazy poor consuming.

            • Paul says:

              Joe – I have walked through worse slums from Haiti to Manila to Cambodia to Cairo that you can imagine — not drove through — walked. And talked with the people — because I try to understand how the world works — and I find the best way to do so is to go and see for myself (some go to the beach – I go to the strife)

              And I know poor – we had next to nothing as kids growing up in Canada – I recall having one pair of trousers in grade school – and I worked from 4am till classes started in university — so don’t try to tell me about poor. I know how difficult it is to escape being poor — and I have a great deal of empathy for those who do not have the opportunities and luck that I have had — because I was born where I was.

              Funny you should go on about the poor – when in previous posts you have waved the flag and supported US hegemony

              You do know that the prosperity of the US primarily comes out of the barrel of a gun — that it comes from stealing the resources from other countries?

              And you should know that when this happens people in these countries suffer — they live in slums, they are diseased, they sell their daughters into whorehouses, they suicide, they fester — yes Joe — that these are the toxic side-effects of American foreign policy.

              But I suppose you have never been to a real slum — or have you driven through a US slum in a Land Rover?

              And you are a great supporter of US foreign policy therefore even though you probably are not aware of it — you are living a relatively wonderful life off of US-inflicted suffering around the world.

              So don’t give me this I live on $5000 a year —- go to Smokey Mountain in Manila and set up a house made of tin cans next door and wait for the next load of rubbish to arrive — then take your kids and root through the fetid mess for something you can sell for a few pesos. Then you can come and tell me about poor.

              As for your efforts to reduce consumption — as I have said — unless you get off the grid and live in a shack in the woods and do not participate in the BAU economy then you remain part of the problem.

              You are not significantly different from the guy who drives a Prius and says hey I am doing my part to save the world —- you both might think you are — but you are both continuing to consume therefore you are wrecking the world — the only difference would be the pace at which each of you contribute to the global raping.

              in case you hadn’t noticed — the world is far beyond saving — and nearly 100 million new mouths will be added this year — all demanding smartphones, cars, motor bikes….. living in severe austerity is like rushing home to shut the oven off — after the turkey’s been roasting for a month on high….

              And I will state unequivocally — I am 100% behind the continuation of BAU — I applaud every effort of the Central Bankers to keep this thing going — and might I suggest — that when the horror starts unfolding around you wherever you are — you are going to be wishing they’d done more to keep the hamster running another year — another month — another minute.

              We are not here to sugar coat the situation so I will not apologize if these comments are found offensive by some.

      • xabier says:


        The possession of information rarely means that one can also act.

        Generational blame is a dead end: it is being fomented by politicians for their own ends, to pass the buck.

        Not so long ago, one third to half of children would die before they could speak. Life is unspeakably cruel.

    • Jan Steinman says:

      “being an intellectual, [I] enjoy the conversation.”

      I can identify, and yet I see a shrinking market for purely intellectual pursuits.

      I hope you’re taking some practical steps as well, Ed.

      I get a lot of flack from “inevitablists” for trying to do something. That brings up the joke about the two hunters. A bear charges them, and one says, “C’mon! Let’s run!” The second one says, “You can’t outrun that bear!” to which the first replies, “No, but I can outrun you!

      That’s how I see things unfolding. You don’t need to be 100% self-sufficient and defensible — that’s too daunting a task, especially if you spend too much time thinking about it.

      All you need to be is more self-sufficient and defensible than 90% of the population. And that actually isn’t too hard to do.

      • tmsr says:

        Jan, I probably have not taken as many steps as you but yes I have taken steps. It is not a thing I would ever talk about in public and especially on the internet.

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