World Oil Production at 3/31/2014–Where are We Headed?

The standard way to make forecasts of almost anything is to look at recent trends and assume that this trend will continue, at least for the next several years. With world oil production, the trend in oil production looks fairly benign, with the trend slightly upward (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Quarterly crude and condensate oil production, based on EIA data.

Figure 1. Quarterly crude and condensate oil production, based on EIA data.

If we look at the situation more closely, however, we see that we are dealing with an unstable situation. The top ten crude oil producing countries have a variety of problems (Figure 2). Middle Eastern producers are particularly at risk of instability, thanks to the advances of ISIS and the large number of refugees moving from one country to another.

Figure 2. Top ten crude oil and condensate producers during first quarter of 2014, based on EIA data.

Figure 2. Top ten crude oil and condensate producers during first quarter of 2014, based on EIA data.

Relatively low oil prices are part of the problem as well. The cost of producing oil is rising much more rapidly than its selling price, as discussed in my post Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. In fact, the selling price of oil hasn’t really risen since 2011 (Figure 3), because citizens can’t afford higher oil prices with their stagnating wages.

Figure 3. Average weekly oil prices, based on EIA data.

Figure 3. Average weekly oil prices, based on EIA data.

The fact that the selling price of oil remains flat tends to lead to political instability in oil exporters because they cannot collect the taxes required to provide programs needed to pacify their people (food and fuel subsidies, water provided by desalination, jobs programs, etc.) without very high oil prices. Low oil prices also make the plight of oil exporters with declining oil production worse, including Russia, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Many people when looking at future oil supply concern themselves with the amount of reserves (or resources) remaining, or perhaps Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI). None of these is really the right limit, however. The limiting factor is how long our current networked economic system can hold together. There are lots of oil reserves left, and the EROEI of Middle Eastern oil is generally quite high (that is, favorable). But instability could still bring the system down. So could popping of the US oil supply bubble through higher interest rates or more stringent lending rules.

The Top Two Crude Oil Producers: Russia and Saudi Arabia

When we look at quarterly crude oil production (including condensate, using EIA data), we see that Russia’s crude oil production tends to be a lot smoother than Saudi Arabia’s (Figure 4). We also see that since the third quarter of 2006, Russia’s crude oil production tends to be higher than Saudi Arabia’s.

Figure 4.  Comparison of quarterly oil production for Russia and Saudi Arabia, based on EIA data.

Figure 4. Comparison of quarterly oil production (crude + condensate) for Russia and Saudi Arabia, based on EIA data.

Both Russia and Saudi Arabia are headed toward problems now. Russia’s Finance Minister has recently announced that its oil production has hit and peak, and is expected to fall, causing financial difficulties. In fact, if we look at monthly EIA data, we see that November 2013 is the highest month of production, and that every month of production since that date has dropped from this level. So far, the drop in oil production has been relatively small, but when an oil exporter is depending on tax revenue from oil to fund government programs, even a small drop in production (without a higher oil price) is a financial problem.

We see in Figure 4 above that Saudi Arabia’s quarterly oil production is quite erratic, compared to oil production of Russia. Part of the reason Saudi Arabia’s oil production is so erratic is that it extends the life of its fields by periodically relaxing (reducing) production from them. It also reacts to oil price changes–if the oil price is too low, as in the latter part of 2008 and in 2009, Saudi oil production drops. The tendency to jerk oil production around gives the illusion that Saudi Arabia has spare production capacity. It is doubtful at this point that it has much true spare capacity. It makes a good story, though, which news media are willing to repeat endlessly.

Saudi Arabia has not been able to raise oil exports for years (Figure 5). It gained a reputation for its oil exports back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and has been able to rest on its laurels. Its high “proven reserves” (which have never been audited, and are doubted by many) add to the illusion that it can produce any amount it wants.

Figure 5. Comparison of Russian and Saudi Arabian oil exports, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 data. Pre-1985 Russian amounts estimated based on Former Soviet Union amounts.

Figure 5. Comparison of Russian and Saudi Arabian oil exports, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 data (oil production minus oil consumption). Pre-1985 Russian amounts estimated based on Former Soviet Union amounts.

In 2013, oil exports from Russia were equal to 88% of Saudi Arabian oil exports. The world is very close to being as dependent on Russian oil exports as it is on Saudi Arabian oil exports. Most people don’t realize this relationship.

The current instability of the Middle East has not hit Saudi Arabia yet, but there is increased fighting all around. Saudi Arabia is not immune to the problems of the other countries. According to BBC, there is already a hidden uprising taking place in eastern Saudi Arabia.

US Oil Production is a Bubble of Very Light Oil

The US is the world’s third largest producer of crude and condensate. Recent US crude oil production shows a “spike” in tight oil productions–that is, production using hydraulic fracturing, generally in shale formations (Figure 6).

Figure 6. US crude oil production split between tight oil (from shale formations), Alaska, and all other, based on EIA data. Shale is from  AEO 2014 Early Release Overview.

Figure 6. US crude oil production split between tight oil (from shale formations), Alaska, and all other, based on EIA data. Shale is from AEO 2014 Early Release Overview.

If we look at recent data on a quarterly basis, the trend in production also looks very favorable.

Figure 7. US Crude and condensate production by quarter, based on EIA data.

Figure 7. US Crude and condensate production by quarter, based on EIA data.

The new crude is much lighter than traditional crude. According to the Wall Street Journal, the expected split of US crude is as follows:

Figure 8. Wall Street Journal image illustrating the expected mix of US crude oil.

Figure 8. Wall Street Journal image illustrating the expected mix of US crude oil.

There are many issues with the new “oil” production:

  • The new oil production is so “light” that a portion of it is not what we use to power our cars and trucks. The very light “condensate” portion (similar to natural gas liquids) is especially a problem.
  • Oil refineries are not necessarily set up to handle crude with so much volatile materials mixed in. Such crude tends to explode, if not handled properly.
  • These very light fuels are not very flexible, the way heavier fuels are. With the use of “cracking” facilities, it is possible to make heavy oil into medium oil (for gasoline and diesel). But using very light oil products to make heavier ones is a very expensive operation, requiring “gas-to-liquid” plants.
  • Because of the rising production of very light products, the price of condensate has fallen in the last three years. If more tight oil production takes place, available prices for condensate are likely to drop even further. Because of this, it may make sense to export the “condensate” portion of tight oil to other parts of the world where prices are likely to be higher. Otherwise, it will be hard to keep the combined sales price of tight oil (crude oil + condensate) high enough to encourage more tight oil production.

The other issue with “tight oil” production (that is, production from shale formations) is that its production seems to be a “bubble.”  The big increase in oil production (Figure 6) came since 2009 when oil prices were high and interest rates were very low. Cash flow from these operations tends to be negative. If interest rates should rise, or if oil prices should fall, the system is likely to hit a limit. Another potential problem is oil companies hitting borrowing limits, so that they cannot add more wells.

Without US oil production, world crude oil production would have been on a plateau since 2005.

Figure 9. World crude and condensate, excluding US  production, based on EIA data.

Figure 9. World crude and condensate, excluding US production, based on EIA data.

Canadian Oil Production

The other recent success story with respect to oil production is Canada, the world’s fifth largest producer of crude and condensate. Thanks to the oil sands, Canadian oil production has more than doubled since the beginning of 1994 (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Canadian quarterly crude oil (and condensate) production based on EIA data.

Figure 10. Canadian quarterly crude oil (and condensate) production based on EIA data.

Of course, there are environmental issues with respect to both oil from the oil sands and US tight oil. When we get to the “bottom of the barrel,” we end up with the less environmentally desirable types of oil. This is part of our current problem, and one reason why we are reaching limits.

Oil Production in China, Iraq, and Iran

In the first quarter of 2014, China was the fourth largest producer of crude oil. Iraq was sixth, and Iran was seventh (based on Figure 2 above). Let’s first look at the oil production of China and Iran.

Figure 11. China and Iran crude and condensate production by quarter based on EIA data.

Figure 11. China and Iran crude and condensate production by quarter based on EIA data.

As of 2010, Iran was the fourth largest producer of crude oil in the world. Iran has had so many sanctions against it that it is hard to figure out a base period, prior to sanctions. If we compare Iran’s first quarter 2014 oil production to its most recent high production in the second quarter of 2010, oil production is now down about 870,000 barrels a day. If sanctions are removed and warfare does not become too much of a problem, oil production could theoretically rise by about this amount.

China has relatively more stable oil production than Iran. One concern now is that China’s oil production is no longer rising very much. Oil production for the fourth quarter of 2013 is approximately tied with oil production for the fourth quarter of 2012. The most recent quarter of oil production is down a bit. It is not clear whether China will be able to maintain its current level of production, which is the reason I mention the possibility of a decline in oil production in Figure 2.

The lack of growth in China’s oil supplies may be behind its recent belligerence in dealing with Viet Nam and Japan. It is not only exporters that become disturbed when oil supplies are not to their liking. Oil importers also become disturbed, because oil supplies are vital to the economy of all nations.

Now let’s add Iraq to the oil production chart for Iran and China.

Figure 12. Quarterly crude oil and condensate production for Iran, China, and Iraq, based on EIA data.

Figure 12. Quarterly crude oil and condensate production for Iran, China, and Iraq, based on EIA data.

Thanks to improvements in oil production in Iraq, and sanctions against Iran, oil production for Iraq slightly exceeds that of Iran in the first quarter of 2014. However, given Iraq’s past instability in oil production, and its current problems with ISIS and with Kurdistan, it is hard to expect that Iraq will be a reliable oil producer in the future. In theory Iraq’s oil production can rise a few million barrels a day over the next 10 or 20 years, but we can hardly count on it.

The Oil Price Problem that Adds to Instability

Figure 13 shows my view of the mismatch between (1) the price oil producers need to extract their oil and (2) the price consumers can afford. The cost of extraction (broadly defined including taxes required by governments) keeps rising while “ability to pay” has remained flat since 2007. The inability of consumers to pay high prices for oil (because wages are not rising very much) explains why oil prices have remained relatively flat in Figure 3 (near the top of this post), even while there is fighting in the Middle East.

Figure 3. Comparison of oil price per barrel needed (Brent) with ability to pay. Amounts based on judgement of author.

Figure 13. Comparison of oil price per barrel needed by producers (Brent) with ability to pay. Amounts based on judgment of author.

When the selling price is lower than the full cost of production (including the cost of investing in new wells and paying dividends to shareholders), the tendency is to reduce production, one way or another. This reduction can be voluntarily, in the form of a publicly traded company buying back stock or selling off acreage.

Alternatively, the cutback can be involuntary, indirectly caused by political instability. This happens because oil production is typically heavily taxed in oil exporting nations. If the oil price remains too low, taxes collected tend to be too low, making it impossible to fund programs such as food and fuel subsidies, desalination plants, and jobs programs. Without adequate programs, there tend to be uprisings and civil disorder.

If a person looks closely at Figure 13, it is clear that in 2014, we are out in “Wile E. Coyote Territory.” The broadly defined cost of oil extraction (including required taxes by exporters) now exceeds the ability of consumers to pay for oil. As a result, oil prices barely spike at all, even when there are major Middle Eastern disruptions (Figure 3, above).

The reason why Wile E. Coyote situation can take place at all is because it takes a while for the mismatch between costs and prices to work its way through the system. Independent oil companies can decide to sell off acreage and buy back shares of stock but it takes a while for these actions to actually take place. Furthermore, the mismatch between needed oil prices and charged oil prices tends to get worse over time for oil exporters. This lays the groundwork for increasing dissent within these countries.

With oil prices remaining relatively flat, importers become complacent because they don’t understand what is happening.  It looks like we have no problem when, in fact, there really is a fairly big problem, lurking behind the scenes.

To make matters worse, it is becoming more and more difficult to continue Quantitative Easing, a program that tends to hold down longer-term interest rates. The expectation is that the program will be discontinued by October 2014. The reason why the price of oil has stayed as high as it has in the last several years is because of the effects of quantitative easing and ultra low interest rates. If it weren’t for these, oil prices would fall, because consumers would need to pay much more for goods bought on credit, leaving less for the purchase of oil products. See my recent post, The Connection Between Oil Prices, Debt Levels, and Interest Rates.

Figure 4. Big credit related drop in oil prices that occurred in late 2008 is now being mitigated by Quantitative Easing and very low interest rates.

Figure 14. Big credit related drop in oil prices that occurred in late 2008 is now being mitigated by Quantitative Easing and very low interest rates.

Because of the expectation that Quantitative Easing will end by October 2014 and the pressure to tighten credit conditions, my expectation is that the affordable price of oil will start dropping in late 2014, as shown in Figure 13. The growing disparity between what consumers can afford and what producers need tends to make the Wile E. Coyote overshoot condition even worse. It is likely to lead to more problems with instability in the Middle East, and a collapse of the US oil production bubble.


I explained earlier that we live in a networked economy, and this fact changes the way economic models work. Many people have developed models of future oil production assuming that the appropriate model is a “bell curve,” based on oil depletion rates and the inability to geologically extract more oil. Unfortunately, this isn’t the right model.

The situation is far more complex than simple geological decline models assume. There are multiple limits involved–prices needed by oil producers, prices affordable by oil importers, and prices for other products, such as water and food. Interest rates are also important. There are time lags involved between the time the Wile E. Coyote situation begins, and the actions to fix this mismatch takes place. It is this time lag that tends to make drop-offs very steep.

The fact that we are dealing with political instability means that multiple fuels are likely to be affected at once. Clearly natural gas exports from the Middle East will be affected at the same time as oil exports. Many other spillover effects are likely to happen as well. US businesses without oil will need to cut back on operations. This will lead to job layoffs and reduced electricity use. With lower electricity demand, prices for electricity as well as for coal and natural gas will tend to drop. Electricity companies will increasingly face bankruptcy, and fuel suppliers will reduce operations.

Thus, we cannot expect decline to follow a bell curve. The real model of future energy consumption crosses many disciplines at once, making the situation difficult to model.  The Reserves / Current Production model gives a vastly too high indication of future production, for a variety of reasons–rising cost of extraction because of diminishing returns, need for high prices and taxes to support the operations of exporters, and failure to consider interest rates.

The Energy Return on Energy Invested model looks at a narrowly defined ratio–usable energy acquired at the “well-head,” compared to energy expended at the “well-head” disregarding many things–including taxes, labor costs, cost of borrowing money, and required dividends to stockholders to keep the system going. All of these other items also represent an allocation of available energy. A multiplier can theoretically adjust for all of these needs, but this multiplier tends to change over time, and it tends to differ from energy source to energy source.

The EROEI ratio is probably adequate for comparing two “like products”–say tight oil produced in North Dakota vs tight oil produced in Texas, or a ten year change in North Dakota energy ratios, but it doesn’t work well when comparing dissimilar types of energy. In particular, the model tends to be very misleading when comparing an energy source that requires subsidies to an energy source that puts off huge tax revenue to support local governments.

When there are multiple limits that are being encountered, it is the financial system that brings all of the limits together. Furthermore, it is governments that are at risk of failing, if enough surplus energy is not produced. It is very difficult to build models that cross academic areas, so we tend to find models that reflect “silo” thinking of one particular academic specialty. These models can offer some insight, but it is easy to assume that they have more predictive value than they do.

Unfortunately, the limits we are reaching seem to be financial and political in nature. If these are the real limits, we seem to be not far away from the simultaneous drop in the production of many energy products. This type of limit gives a much steeper drop off than the frequently quoted symmetric “bell curve of oil production.” The shape of the drop off corresponds to (1) the type of drop off experienced by previous civilizations when they collapsed, (2) the type of drop-off I have forecast for world energy consumption, and (3) Ugo Bardi’s Seneca cliff.  The 1972 book Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows et al. says (page 125), “The behavior mode of of the system shown in figure 35 is clearly that of overshoot and collapse,” so it tends to come to the same conclusion as well.

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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861 Responses to World Oil Production at 3/31/2014–Where are We Headed?

  1. Stefeun says:

    Adding to paranoia:
    “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers
    By Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux5 Aug 2014, 12:45 PM EDT 149
    Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept.

    Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” That category—280,000 people—dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.

    The documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush.”
    read more

    • Paul says:

      At the end of the day Obama is just the front man for the Deep State — who control America — if he had really tried to change things he’d be sat down for a screening of this

      JKF’s head (or what’s left of it) sits on a stake out front of the white house — as a reminder to all presidents of who is really in charge

      • John Doyle says:

        Do you mean this sort of conspiracy?
        We see signs of this in the TPP and TTIP treaties being finalised now.

        This video is interesting too, particularly where a court case is mentioned where the bank’s use of fiat currency made their hold on the mortgage invalid;

        • Paul says:

          I don’t like the phrase conspiracy theory — it was created by CIA spin doctors to discredit any theory that exposed something they want to keep secret.

          There is no secrecy involved here — it is obvious that the Deep State controls the president — see The Deep State from PBS

          • John Doyle says:

            Thanks for the link. It says very little compared to G Edward Griffin’s talk. I guess you didn’t listen to him, but just jumped on the word Conspiracy? which was not my word. Griffin goes into detail about the group not having any name, deliberately staying nameless.

  2. Paul says:

    Flight MH17 – What You’re Not Being Told

  3. Paul says:

    Gas women and children… overthrow elected governments… shoot down an airliner and blame Putin?

    Seems anything goes when it comes to America….

    U.S. Government Caught Using Humanitarian HIV Program As Front To Foster Cuban Dissent

    Regular readers will recall that earlier this year we highlighted how the U.S. government covertly created a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo in a failed attempt to overthrow the island nation’s regime. The elaborate plot was implemented under the umbrella of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is responsible for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid. Well we now know that USAID went a lot further than that. Another scheme to unseat the Cuban government has now been revealed. This time with even more immoral foundations, and which could disrupt genuine humanitarian relief efforts the world over. Incredibly, the U.S. government used an HIV program as a front to foster dissent amongst Cuba’s youth. The HIV-prevention workshop was even referred to as the “perfect excuse to recruit political activists.” Despicable.

    Oh did I mention how the CIA infiltrated polio vaccination teams to try to find Bin Laden — and now legit polio teams are being shot dead —and polio spreading?

    Co – lat – er – al …. damage….

    It has a nice ring to it … don’t ya think?

  4. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All
    For a recording of Nicole Foss talking about financial collapse and what local communities can do about it, see:

    This is from her recent tour with David Holmgren in Australia.

    She is still introduced as a ‘Canadian’.

    Don Stewart

  5. Pingback: Edito | Blog de Yoananda

  6. yoananda says:

    I don’t see what’s the problem with energy capex requirements, as reported by the IEA.
    In 2000 : 600 billion where spended
    In 2103 : 1600
    in 2035 : 2600 in average are needed.
    So in fact it correspond to +77 billion each year between 2000 and 2013, and +87 between 2014 and 2035 to reach 3514 billion spending, making an average of 2600 billion more per year starting with 1600 in 2013.


    we should compare spending growth from year to year. If we compute spending in % increase from previous year we have :
    from 2000 to 2013 : +8% to go grom 600 to 1600.
    from 2013 to 2035 : +4% to go from 1600 to 3831 to meet 2600 average.

    We see that there is no big deal in investments requirement for the future since it will be (relatively speaking) half what we did in the last decade.
    I’m right ?

    • Stefeun says:

      Interesting article, with nice charts, especially the last one showing tremedous increase in currency creation, while electricity consumption remains flat or slightly decreases.

  7. yoananda says:

    I think the cost of securing oil should be assumed as a cost of production like any other cost. It would better reflect the situation.

    About EROEI, maybe we should extend and complete the concept. Starting with OROOI (Oil returned on oil invested) and look how different EROEI can be combined (when two different EROEI are used in production, what is the resulting combined EOREI ?) … this is a huge study that needs access to data that maybe we don’t even have access too.

    • the true cost of a gallon of gasoline is about $16 when the cost of the wars to protect the oil supply system throughout the middle east is factored in.
      This is why the US internal infrastructure is crumbling, because it was built (roads, bridges railways etc) using cheap oil, now there isn’t enough energy in the system to maintain it. Armies have to be maintained instead to keep the illusion going a little longer that the lifestyle of everyone can be kept going a little longer by voting for the right politicians and spending more and more on armaments.
      Futile of course, but most people believe that.
      If the real cost of fuel was presented at the pumps, the economy would instantly grind to a halt, yet this is what taxpayers are really paying

  8. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Sierra Leone, Liberia deploy troops as Ebola toll hits 887

    Hundreds of troops deployed in Sierra Leone and Liberia on Monday to quarantine communities hit by the deadly Ebola virus, as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak reached 887 and three new cases were reported in Nigeria.

    Panic among local communities, which have attacked health workers and threatened to burn down isolation wards, prompted Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to announce tough measures last week, including the closure of schools and the quarantine of the remote forest region hardest hit by the disease.

    Police were setting up checkpoints and roadblocks for key entrance and exit points to those infected communities, which nobody will be allowed to leave. Troops were deploying to badly affected areas to prepare to enforce the measures.

    A Reuters witness in the Liberian capital Monrovia said several clinics were spontaneously closing their doors because doctors were too afraid to treat patients. More than 60 doctors have already died of Ebola, hampering efforts to control the outbreak.

    Highly contagious, the deadliest strain of the Ebola virus can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, though in the current outbreak the rate is running around 55 percent. Symptoms initially include muscle pains and joint aches, then worsen to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding in the final stages.

    • CTG says:

      As I have mentioned in an earlier post of mine, the hysteria and the panic of this virus will definitely cause the supply chain to break down. It will also drag down the financials. This could be the trigger for the collapse. The collapse that everyone here knows that is coming. The history of SARS is being repeated but not in the Asian region but globally.

      • Eivind Berge says:

        I don’t believe Ebola can trigger a global collapse or cause supply lines to break down, because this virus is actually very easy to contain. Ebola is a very undemocratic disease which mostly kills people who are too uneducated or stupid to take precautions. In fact, Ebola appears to be a good way to bring the population down a bit without incapacitating critical hubs or infrastructure. Health care workers are at risk, of course, but they are not critical to civilization. So Ebola seems more likely to delay collapse rather than trigger it. One could hardly pick a better virus for this task.

        • CTG says:

          Were you in Asia when SARA struck?

          • CTG says:

            Sorry SARS and not SARA. Autocorrect in action

          • Paul says:

            SARS was an air borne virus so much more easily spread — and which created a great deal of panic …

            Although Ebola is not air borne — it would certainly create a perhaps an even greater degree of panic causing people not to travel, eat in restaurants etc…

          • Eivind Berge says:

            No, I was not there, but I know we survived SARS without collapsing, and Ebola is a lot less infectious. It mainly kills primitive people who refuse to take basic precautions and believe disease is caused by evil spirits and that sort of thing. Anyone smart and educated enough to be critically important to supply lines or infrastructure will easily avoid Ebola. It is not airborne and does not infect others before the person has symptoms, so you really have to go out of your way and touch a sick person or a corpse to get it. I hear it is even pretty safe to sit next to a person with Ebola on a plane or bus. So I don’t see how it could be truly disruptive to the developed world. Sure it could cause some panic, but not enough to prevent people from showing up for work in the numbers needed to trigger collapse. It could slow down the economy, but then there would be less people to feed afterwards — and fortunately for us, most of the dead will be in backwards parts of Africa, because this disease does not kill democratically. It kills ignorant, irrational and superstitious people while sparing rational and responsible people.

            • Paul says:

              The fact that dozens of doctors and other medical staff — some of them from advanced countries – certainly all would have been taking precautions — have contracted the disease — leaves me questioning the claim that this is a ‘primitive persons’ disease’

              It would seem as if Ebola is much easier to spread than we think…

            • CTG says:

              Eivind, one of the major shortcoming of our present human civilization is specialization. We are too focused on what we are doing and forgot to look at the macro view, i.e. we see the trees and never the forest. The main reason I am asking you if you are in Asia when SARS struck is because you need to be here to understand the real situation. From afar, you will never see it. Like what I am focusing on supply chain when writing in this blog, I was in the midst of the 2008 meltdown when Lehman collapse. I knew the consequences of a collapsed supply chain.

              In 2003, when SARs struck, it was an economic winter in South East Asia. Airports, supermarkets, cinemas and many public places are deserted. If SARS lasted for another couple of months, it would cause a massive economic crisis in many countries. However, SARS fizzled out. Fast forward to 2014, we have used many “magical financial tricks” like ZIRP, QE, etc yet our economy is in a comatose state. Energy prices now are a few times higher than 2003; there are so many low cost carriers and tourism is booming in Asia with many peopled involved in this industry. Globalization is extensive now as compared to 2003. The whole world is deep in economic stress and not just a corner of the world as in 2003. The use of derivatives and other arcane financial products are not as widespread as it is now. Debt level is also much lower in 2003. Basically, 2003 is very different from 2014 and 2014 is worse. So, if we have another case of great worldwide economic slowdown, then it would really trigger a collapse as debts cannot be serviced, economy cannot grow and the financial derivatives will just explode or implode (whichever you like). Mind you, the financial games that the banks play is really orders of magnitude larger than the world economy.

              When you talked about 10-20% of the population dies off, it is better for the world. Perhaps I am wrong but my guess is that you are not working in the manufacturing line. You are probably in the service or academic industry. In any of the manufacturing, especially high tech or capital intensive manufacturing, specializing is so common that people are not easily substitutable. Can an engineer that specialized in wind turbines be able to work immediately in another field in short order. The answer is no. The equipment are too complex and too proprietary. You can repair your old 1970 Toyota and if I were to ask you to do a 1972 Volkswagen, yes you can do it. However, if you specialized in 2013 Toyota, likely you cannot handle a 2014 BMW in a short period of time without any help from a BMW expert. The software is different, proprietary and complex. The tool that is used to open up the engine is special and only BMW has it. Even the screws are different. Many reason for that is that the car manufacturers want to monopolize on servicing the car and would not want anyone else to service it when the warranty runs out. Independent mechanics do not have the tools or equipment (diagnostic machine) to repair your new BMW or Toyota for that matter. It goes the same for power plants, hospital equipment and all other complex but critical machines. So, with just 10-20% die, you may be short of critical manpower. With Liebig’s Law of Minimum kicks in. You may not have the parts or manpower to restore the operation of a certain equipment which in turn will affect other parts and in a cascading matter. Simply put, if the engineer in charged of the power plant is gone, you may not even have power.

              We are stretched now in terms of capacity, skills and resources. Do you think you have enough hospitals and trained medical staff to handle any outbreak. If the medical staff is infected, do you think you can still run the hospitals? What makes you so sure that the medical staff will turn out to work? Everywhere in the world, the answer is the same – not enough hospitals, be it in a rural area and metropolitan. Not enough beds or ICUs. Does your hospitals have enough medicine ? How are the medicines come in? By truck? Do they have enough supplies? What happens when the supplies run out? Will the people be unruly and break things/equipment? Can your local hospital handle 50 cases of walk ins per day before being overwhelmed? If there is no power supply, how would things turn out?

              Let us just say there is an Ebola outbreak and it is mild one with just 20% mortality and it is airborne, will you

              1. Work or allow your child/sibling/parents (relatives) work?
              2.. Will you allow your relative to work if one of his colleagues die of Ebola?

              Unlike in 1950s where you can plant your own vegetables and food, you have to go out and buy them at the store. If no one wants to work (or only if a fraction) wants to work, can you still get the food at the store. If the security guard holding the key to the store dies or AWOL, will the store be opened? If the bank is closed, will you have money to buy? If you are not working and you are paid hourly, will you have the money to buy food? If the truck driver does not want to drive or is dead, will you have the supplies (food, medicine, etc)? If all the planes are grounded (due to restriction or if the pilot/air traffic controller is AWOL), do you think you have a functioning economy? Will your antibiotics that is made in US gets to be delivered to your local hospital in Japan or Singapore or China? The drug has to pass through so many hands before coming to your hand and if one of the hands go missing, the medicine will never reach your hand.

              How long can your community last when the ATM runs out of money as everyone is taking out money to buy food and how long can your community survive with the food just in the stores? What many people think is just narrowly focused on – “oh OK just 10-20% die and we will be better off”. It is true if this is 1800 ir 1950s but not in 2014.

              Assuming that someone spotted a large asteroid that is heading to earth in 30 days time and it is calculated that it will be an extinction level event. If this news leaked out, it will be the end of humanity within 1 week. Will you work? Since it is end of times (Armageddon), why do you even bother to work, might as well enjoy your life. Unfortunately, everyone will think like what you think. It cannot be that you are the only one who can say “well, let me enjoy my life before I die”. So, the pilot, doctor, truck driver, bank teller, janitor, shop keeper ,supermarket staff, CEOs, hotel worker, receptionist decided not to report to work the following day. They want to spend time with their family before the asteroid hits earth in 29 days time. So, what do you think it will happen? I don’t even have to say the consequences. Why I say 1 week? That is the maximum number of days one can last before succumbing to starvation.

              Information travelled so fast that everyone in the world will have the same thoughts. If this is 1900, only a group of people know. They can go and enjoy their last 30 days of their life. The other 99.9% of the people do not even know that the asteriod will hit earth. Even if it hits Europe, the farmers in South America or Australia may survive (if the asteriod is not that big after all).

              So, do you think the government will play down the threat of Ebola or any potential “extinction level events” ? Yes, they will and if I am one of them I will too. Therefore, by the time you know about the massive spread of this sickness, it is usually way too late to do anything.

    • Paul says:

      Hmmm… those are some disconcerting numbers …. in fact I am not sure SARS killed any medical staff in Hong Kong — I do recall a handful getting sick….

      So even though this is not air borne it is definitely capable of seizing up the economy if it strikes in a major advanced country…

      When people start reading about others dying bleeding from their eye sockets, ears and mouths… they tend to panic…

      Interesting that the US has actually imported Ebola repatriating sick people to the US — rather strange in light of the fact that medical staff seem unable to protect themselves from the disease when treating those infected.

      • edpell says:

        I would guess it is illegal for the bio-weapons division of the military to bring Ebola samples into the U.S., bring back a U.S. citizen for humanitarian reason priceless.

  9. Rodster says:

    “The truth you’re not being told about the Toledo water crisis in Ohio: Chemical agriculture poisoned the water”

    Agricultural pollution
    Algal blooms are a sign of a wildly imbalanced ecosystem. Before modern industrial agriculture came along and started polluting the lake, algae were kept in balance and didn’t mass-produce the poisons that now contaminate the Toledo water supply.

  10. Paul says:

    How World Bank and IMF Plan to “Dismantle” Ukrainian Economy

  11. Paul says:

    Some people are starting to get it…

    Can BP plc And Royal Dutch Shell plc Survive The End Of The Oil Age?

    How Low Can You Go?

    One challenge is cost. When oil explorer Edwin Drake drilled what is said to be the world’s first commercial oil well at Titusville in Pennsylvania, he struck black gold just 21m below the ground.

    On Sakhalin Island, the Russians have successfully drilled for oil nearly eight miles down, and more than seven miles out under the ocean.

    As the oil price rises, these crazy and costly operations start to make financial sense.

  12. Paul says:

    Another insider who turned on the wicked beast that is America and therefore has 1000x more credibility than the US MSM is David Stockman – here’s his latest take:

    The Collapse Of The American Imperium

    David Stockman, former director of the OMB under President Reagan, former US Representative, best-selling author of The Great Deformation, and veteran financier is an insider’s insider. Few people understand the ways in which Washington DC, The Fed, and Wall Street work and intersect better than he does…

    He’s extremely concerned by the “perfect storm” he sees of concurrent failures in US policy across foreign, monetary, economic, and fiscal fronts:

    He is very good at explaining that we are headed towards the cliff – but he fails to understand the cause — which of course is the end of cheap oil

    • Paul says:

      The DT has really gone lame — it has whored itself to the PTB and even Pritchard – their best guy — is now regularly spewing US recovery stories.

      I seldom bother to go there any longer

  13. Pingback: Article: Empire in Chaos: Why America is Destabilizing the Planet | OpEdNews « The Progressive Mind

  14. Stefeun says:

    To those interested in F.Roddier’s “Thermodynamics of Evolution”.
    Unfortunately the book isn’t published in English version yet; it was planned, but…
    I nevertheless found some short documents:

    A project of article for Nature:

    Transcription (summarized) of a conference given at Momentum Institut:

    the original text in French was twice longer, here’s an auto-translation of it:

    • Thanks for posting these links.

      I am sorry I have not been on line much recently. I have a son in the hospital and have been spending a lot of time there.

  15. Rodster says:

    More good news regarding fracking. /s

    “Fracking’ in the Dark: Biological Fallout of Shale-gas Production still largely Unknown”

    “Eight conservation biologists from various organizations and institutions, including Princeton University, found that shale-gas extraction in the United States has vastly outpaced scientists’ understanding of the industry’s environmental impact. Each gas well can act as a source of air, water, noise and light pollution (above) that — individually and collectively — can interfere with wild animal health, habitats and reproduction. Of particular concern is the fluid and wastewater associated with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a technique that releases natural gas from shale by breaking the rock up with a high-pressure blend of water, sand and other chemicals. (Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment )”

    • Jeremy says:

      This can’t be good: from your article link:
      ““Some of the wells in the chemical disclosure registry were fractured with fluid containing 20 or more undisclosed chemicals,” said senior author Kimberly Terrell, a researcher at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. “This is an arbitrary and inconsistent standard of chemical disclosure.”
      Thanks Dick Cheney for allowing this loophole in the regulations.
      You know this MUST be poisoning the groundwater, Of course, after the REAL science is confirmed and it is determined that it is tonic, the companies will be long gone and too late to “Correct” the damage.
      God Bless America

  16. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    If we are thinking about surviving a collapse, or rebuilding after a collapse, or just thriving in the world of Business as Usual, then cooperation with other humans and dogs becomes very important. It is also important to understand when our tendency to cooperate may get us in trouble.

    I recommend two things to listen to and think about. The first is the TED talk on how cooked food permits humans to develop very much larger pre-frontal cortexes than our primate cousins. The very large number of additional neurons permits us to cooperate and compete. We can also manipulate others for good purposes or bad.

    The second is a talk by Bridget Martin Hard at Stanford. The talk is part of a series organized by Kelly McGonigal. The talks are available free on iTunes. I do not know if non-Apple computers will display them.

    The only way I know to get to the talk is a little circuitous. First, go to Kelly McGonigal’s website and scroll down until you find ‘How to Think Like a Psychologist’.

    Click on the download from iTunes (Check Out the Full Course on iTunes) and you will see a list of talks. The specific talk I recommend is the fourth in the list, by Bridget Martin Hard.

    Hard talks in considerable detail about how human infants prefer cooperative people from a very early age. She makes the case that one of the primary things that sets humans apart from chimpanzees is our much larger ability to cooperate. Chimps are very smart in terms of competition, but very stupid in terms of cooperation. I do know that chimps do form raiding parties which kill other bands of chimps.

    After an hour with Hard talking and discussing research, she sits down for about 15 minutes discussion with Kelly McGonagle. Kelly is concerned about how our human desire to fit in may cause us to do things that are probably not in our best interest. I think, for example, of the stirring movie Triumph of the Will, which celebrated the 1936 Nazi Party Congress. The Nazis were manipulating many of these factors for ends which most of us find repugnant. Of course, we see the same thing with the blizzard of propaganda circulating in the media at this very moment.

    At 1 hour and 9 minutes, Hard answers a question regarding the different behavior of chimp mothers and human mothers which is very instructive. It is also instructive to think about how modern society is doing its best to destroy the playful interaction of mother and child.

    When we think about productivity in a BAU world, or surviving a collapse, or rebuilding after a collapse, we have to think in terms of group dynamics. The talents which cooked food plus evolution has given us has both positive and negative potential. Wisdom may require us to know how this operates.

    Don Stewart

  17. Don Stewart says:

    You have frequently talked about cooking and humans. This TED talk gives some mathematical relationships and pretty well proves that it is cooking that permits humans to afford our cerebral cortex.

    Don Stewart

  18. ktos says:

    Diminishing returns in US coal extraction:
    And they say that US has 250 years of coal reserves.

  19. Jeremy says:

    Cool Video visiting “The Yurt Foundation” homestead of Bill Coperthwaite before he died in an auto accident this past year. Bill was a regular feature in “Mother Earth News” and promoted traditional skills and knowledge of sustainable cultures. A remarkable man:

  20. Jeremy says:

    When i was young, “Mother Earth News” promoted Yurts and namely “The Yurt Foundation” started by a fellow, who has recently passed on, Bill Coperthwaite

    another article about another type of cloth Yurt in England:

  21. Jeremy says:

    Nice article regarding small group of folks planning for the downturn in Hudson Valley, New York
    “The Long Spoon Collective is a group of six adults, male and female, mostly young, who grow food on several sites throughout Saugerties, construct tiny houses at no charge for those who want them and hope to pioneer a new local economy based on giving instead of money.”
    Collective members are committed to growing their own food and living as much as possible without using money. Foudriat, the lone boomer in a group dominated by millennials, says members show impressive dedication. “I’ve been deeply inspired by the many young people I’ve joined with. They are actually living sustainable lives, as opposed to just talking about it.”

  22. Jeremy says:

    Couple in England find it a challenge to live the post petro life with the PTB:

    “Good Life” couple have won a three-year stay of execution against a council order to tear down their unauthorised Devon eco-home.
    Matthew Lepley and Jules Smith moved from a London tower block to the West Devon countryside five years ago in a bid to build the UK’s most eco-friendly house.
    But after they refused to get planning permission- because it was “against their principles” – the council ordered the pair to “remove” the timber dwelling from their field in Beaworthy.
    Now, a planning inspector has ruled that the couple should be granted an extended stay, citing new planning rules introduced by the Government which give added weight to sustainable development.
    Five years ago, in a utopian bid to escape the “rat race” which echoed the 1970s TV series, the Good Life, Matthew, 34, and Jules, 54, left behind their jobs as carers and tower block in Wood Green, north London.They bought a 20-acre field, set aside £20,000 , then scoured farmland and scrapyards for unwanted junk.The foundations were made from old tractor tyres filled with gravel, while the walls and roof were built from discarded haulage pallets and railway sleepers.
    Despite having just one bedroom, a lounge, a kitchen and a bathroom, the building has taken years to complete because the couple refuse to use power tools.
    However, their plans were wrecked when a neighbour complained to the council.
    The couple say the planning process is not green enough for their eco beliefs and involves too much paperwork, energy and bureaucracy.
    The couple grow their own fruit and veg, have no electricity and store food in an underground compartment to keep it cool. Water is drawn out of the ground with a bore hole but they have no running taps and use an outside compost toilet before recycling the waste”

    • And if everybody walked out of the city and sat on 20 acres of land and built a shack made out of junk?
      Especially next door to you?

      • Jeremy says:

        Most of the modern construction materials and methods now a days is “junk” and just looks “pretty”. One posted here of plastic water pipping for plumbing.
        I “inspected” a home in various stages being constructed and was appalled by the cheapness of thin chip board glued together and obvious rush to put it in place. The structure would find it difficult to hold together 50 years, if that!
        Anyway, when the SHTF, “End of More” better expect to reside in a “shack”, because all those “MacMansions” will be just gutted out ratholes without roofs and working amenities.

        • Adam says:

          So “End of More” turns out to be just a NIMBY. 🙂 True enough, he’ll have great trouble staying one during the collapse.

          • yup—a nimby nobody sums me up i guess
            However, by my calculation everybody in the USA has 3/4 acre available. Thats every bit of land divided by the people in it….arithmetic was never my strong subject, but we certainly dont have anywhere near 20 acres each.
            If the agricultural land was divided up the same way—it might be standing room only
            best of luck finding room for your junk shack

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “However, by my calculation everybody in the USA has 3/4 acre available. Thats every bit of land divided by the people in it….arithmetic was never my strong subject, but we certainly dont have anywhere near 20 acres each.”

              There is a difference between land suitable for farming (arable land) and total land. If we look at total land area (not necessarily suitable for farming), there’s some 2.3 billion acres, divided by some 300 million people, and you have 7.7 acres for every man, woman, and child in the US. So there’s enough land for every family of three to have 20 acres.

              According to the CIA World Fact Book, 16.29% of US land is arable. If we multiply 20 acres per family by .1629, on average each family of three would get a little over three acres for crops, or about one acre per person for crops.

            • Paul says:

              Keeping in mind almost all of the acres that are available for farming have been ruined by industrial farming methods.

              In reality there is almost no good land available for growing food in the US — even most lawns have had chemical pesticides and fertilizers poured onto them.

              7.7 acres or 770 acres of land that has been soaked with chemicals are equally worthless.

        • interguru says:

          In my neighborhood the water company replaced our 75 year old corroded cast iron water mains with PVC water mains. I talked to the engineer and he claims that the PVC will last longer the the cast iron piping did.

          • You dig iron ore out of the ground, heat it and convert it into pipes
            you dig oil out of the ground, heat it and make pipes with it
            Seems to me the critical factors are the heat and available raw materials, not so much one over the other

        • I did apologise in advance on the math part—got the decimal point wrong….7.5 instead of .75 acres—no matter
          if your 7.5 acres is on a bit of the Arizona desert, the Alaska tundra or a vertical bit of the Rockies. I’m my arithmetic will be comforting

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “And if everybody walked out of the city and sat on 20 acres of land and built a shack made out of junk?”

        That would surely overwhelm the building inspection authorities, which is A Good Thing.

        “Especially next door to you?”

        You said, “everybody.” That would include you, unless you’re nobody.

  23. Stefeun says:

    Bonjour Gail,
    For your information.
    forwarding you this document in which you are cited as “keen observer of the world of energy”, between Ugo Bardi and David Korowicz. This is the latest issue of French “Institut Momentum”, by Yves Cochet (shortly introduced at the end of the document); as not yet translated into English, I also link a google auto-translation that seems almost readable.
    The original document:
    Its auto-translation:
    Institut Momentum, EN version:

  24. “To make matters worse, it is becoming more and more difficult to continue Quantitative Easing, a program that tends to hold down longer-term interest rates. The expectation is that the program will be discontinued by October 2014. ”
    Maybe I’m too skeptical, but, cutting out QE sounds like “cold turkey” to me — you mean they agree with me that continuing QE might result in “liver failure”? (I don’t give the US popular mentality that much credit — wouldn’t they rather try to continue BAU?

    • Paul says:

      I agree. If QE is the only thing keeping the patient on life support why would the Fed disconnect it?

      As we have seen the Fed lies constantly (for good reason) so if they actually are stopping QE you can bet your bottom dollar that they are still stimulating to the tune of trillions.

      Because if they really stopped — the collapse would be overnight — because the stock and bond markets would implode as the high frequency trading programs would kick in and within milliseconds we’d be back in 2008 – but on steroids

  25. Rodster says:

    Gail, do you agree with Russian Oil estimates?

    “Russia is a really interesting case. It’s been the world’s largest oil producer, but analysts say it has just seven years before oil output collapses, taking the state budget with it. The problem is the country’s decaying fields in Siberia, which have been in decline since 2007. While there’s still some time left before the fields are completely tapped, most experts agree Russia’s oil production will peak in 2018/19.

    Then things get ugly…

    HSBC Bank forecasts a 13% decline in oil production in the period from 2020 to 2025, with the drop accelerating from that point on.

    • it is certain that Putin is fully aware of what will happen when Russia’s oil taps run dry
      This is why he is grabbing back as much of the old Soviet Union as he can before TSHTF, Once it’s seen as a fait accompli, the west including the USA can rant and posture as much as they want, but they wont be able to get the Ukraine back…we dont have the resources to go to war like we did against Germany
      The Ukraine is an energy producing asset, a breadbasket. Putin knows this, and wants it for the post oil economy–roughly the situation that existed in Tsarist times

      • xabier says:


        Exactly: it used to be said that the Russian aristocrats spent so freely without a thought for the morrow because they had all the natural resources of Russia -wood, leather, fur, honey,etc – and a perpetually self-replicating wealth producer: the Russian peasants, who were of course originally slaves.

        It’s notable that Dmitry Orlov has gone to great lengths to secure his son a Russian passport. As good a hedge as any……

        • Rodster says:

          I’m not current on Dmitry Orlov. Why would he want to secure a passport for his son?

          • Don Stewart says:

            Ugo Bardi recently commented that a student from Russia found it rather odd that the Italians kept talking about resource depletion. Resources are so abundant in Russia.

            I think Dmitry looks at it as a combination of climate change plus resources. I think Dmitry also sees the Russian society as more stable.

            Don Stewart

            • Rodster says:

              OK, thanks for that. According to the article, doesn’t Russia’s oil depletion negate any of their other resources as every economy cannot function without oil?

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear Rodster
              Russia has an incredibly large shale oil field. There was an article about it in Peak Oil News a couple of weeks ago. The Soviet Union tried to frack it with small nuclear bombs decades ago.

              Don Stewart

            • VMJx says:

              Just what I thought, “Frack us Free”. This Fracking will likely avert a near rapid downturn in oil output. Of course, because of lack of infrastructure and lead time of logistics, some regions will be left dry and out of the loop. Bill McKibben commented that the Oil Industry has incredible talented, smart engineers that can squeeze oil fields, too well for our own good. Should be an interesting next decade or two.

          • xabier says:


            He stated in his blog that he put very great efforts into obtaining it for his son as he sees Russia as a potential safe refuge, with an eye on climate change and political conflict in the near future.

      • Paul says:

        Putin is grabbing nothing.

        As he has stated on many occasions – what he wants is for the US and NATO to honour the agreement following the fall of the USSR to leave a buffer zone on Russia’s borders.

        Ukraine has remained in Russia’s sphere of influence enjoying huge discounts on energy provided by Russia as part of this deal — Russia of course also has been granted extensions on its base on the black sea as part of this long standing deal.

        What happened recently was the EU/US attempted to woo Ukraine into their sphere of influence — Yanukovych initially agreed to shift allegiance — of course Putin did not like that so outbid the Nato powers and brought him back in line…

        Of course the Nato powers did not like this and instigated a revolution — this is in keeping with the US doctrine that you are either with us or against us — and if you are against them you have to go…

        Paul Roberts is a former Reagan official and WSJ editor — he was part of the elite — and he has turned against both the repuplicans and democrats … i.e. he has seen the light on what America truly is — those at the top seldom do…. So his insights are most valuable.

        Here are a few examples :

  26. james says:

    Another insightful article Gail. I think the only thing that can save humanity now is for a wildcard like free energy, reverse engineered UFO craft, or any of the plethora of over unity devices that you find on the net – that is if they are true of course?

  27. Paul says:

    Exxon’s Profit Climbs Despite 5.7% Lower Production

    Further evidence that big oil is falling back on it’s existing production and failing to find new oil that can be extracted profitably. They continue to buy back shares which drives up their share price keeping investors happy — for now.

    Another reason cheap cash must be made available — companies continue to borrow at very low interest – buy back shares — and drive the stock markets to never-ending record highs.

  28. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All

    George Mobus’ current blog entry is about the physical economy and the political economy.

    I made two comments that may interest those of you thinking about collapse. Briefly, I expect that economists and people in general will be forced by energy shortages to think more clearly about the difference between dopamine prompted behavior and true happiness and pleasure.

    Don Stewart

  29. Paul says:

    Interesting article here … but I don’t believe for a second the central banks are taking the foot off the gas pedal.. as the author spells out — that would mean higher costs for cash — which would punish the bottom lines of big oil which is incurring debt to buy back shares — and it would end fracking…

    Why commit suicide now — when you can hold off the day of reckoning even another day by continuing with the money printing?

  30. Stefeun says:

    Zero Hedge: “Top Financial Experts Say World War 3 Is Coming … Unless We Stop It”…-unless-we-stop-it

  31. Reblogged this on Emir Hancioglu.

  32. Pingback: CFS NEWS-VIEWS DIGEST NO. 60 (8-1-14) | Citizens for Sustainability

  33. interguru says:

    Wind and solar power are even more expensive than is commonly thought ( from the Economist )

    But whereas the cost of a solar panel is easy to calculate, the cost of electricity is harder to assess. It depends not only on the fuel used, but also on the cost of capital (power plants take years to build and last for decades), how much of the time a plant operates, and whether it generates power at times of peak demand. To take account of all this, economists use “levelised costs”—the net present value of all costs (capital and operating) of a generating unit over its life cycle, divided by the number of megawatt-hours of electricity it is expected to supply.

    The trouble, as Paul Joskow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has pointed out, is that levelised costs do not take account of the costs of intermittency.* Wind power is not generated on a calm day, nor solar power at night, so conventional power plants must be kept on standby—but are not included in the levelised cost of renewables. Electricity demand also varies during the day in ways that the supply from wind and solar generation may not match, so even if renewable forms of energy have the same levelised cost as conventional ones, the value of the power they produce may be lower. In short, levelised costs are poor at comparing different forms of power generation.

    Read on. He puts some numbers in — which do not look good.

    • Don Stewart says:

      Dear interguru

      Here is my frustration with articles such as this one. Somehow, we have to narrow the field of choices. I propose some principles which might help:
      1. Fossil fuels are rapidly becoming too expensive to extract and use in the myriad ways that they are used in the rich countries today.
      2. Therefore, new nuclear plants should not be built, as it is unclear that we can ever decommission them, or that there will be a market for their electricity.
      3. Fossil fuel shortages will depress economic activity, and may collapse supply chains.
      4. Therefore, the most important goal is not ‘cheap electricity’, but preservation of supply chains. And perhaps evolution away from complex supply chains.

      5. Governments can choose between at least these options:
      a. Subsidize fossil fuels and perhaps ration them. ZIRP, in effect, does this now.
      b. Subsidize wind and solar to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus extend fossil fuel life.
      c Get on with simplifying economic life in as graceful a way as possible. Perhaps rationing of fossil fuels to avoid supply chain collapse and build local distribution infrastructure.

      Those seem to me to be the realistic choices. I think that assuming that everything can continue on as it has been is a mistake which obscures the need to make some choices now from a realistic scenario of the next 50 years.
      Don Stewart

      • MJx says:

        Sure, Don, I am VERY sure the Congress and Wall Street will take your suggestions (“principles”) with utmost consideration. It ain’t going to happen.
        Every President sdince Richard Nixon been doing the “talk” and that is just about all it is.

    • Paul says:

      I lump solar energy in with vitamins and religion — even though there are no facts to back it up — in fact the data indicates that solar is a complete waste of time and money — people still believe

      It’s call hope — hope that solar can keep BAU going forever — with vitamins (even though they are proved to be a waste of money) hope that one can live forever (or at least for a lot longer) — and with religion it is hope of eternal life.

      When hope/faith are involved — you are wasting your breath to argue the issue — all logic is out the window.

  34. interguru says:

    In 2006 when James Howard Kunstler published his breakthrough book The Long Emergency, the next two years seemed to vindicate his warning that the oil age was coming to an end with perilous consequences. Oil soared to $147 a barrel in mid-2008. …. It seemed for months that the world was headed for an economic depression.

    Oil prices have rebounded and have remained at or near record levels for more than three years when measured by the average daily price of the world benchmark Brent Crude. That high price (higher on average than the year of the spike) is holding back economic growth. It is creating a seeming puzzle for economic policymakers who don’t understand why their extraordinary measures have not led to extraordinary growth. They are blind to the central role of energy and particularly oil in the economy.

    Despite the so-called recovery, much of Europe remains mired in low or no growth, lingering on the edge of a deflationary spiral. Germany is the one bright spot; prospects for France continue to darken. In the United States jobs are only now starting to return to previous levels almost five years after a slow and laborious climb off the bottom of the so-called Great Recession.

    Perhaps another reason that the long emergency we have entered does not seem like one is that some emergency measures have morphed into permanent fixtures of society. The Bank of England has held its key lending rate at 0.5 percent since 2009, the lowest since the opening of the bank in 1694. The projected U.S. federal deficit of $492 billion for 2014–which previously would have provoked sharp public debate about the ruin of government finances–today seems unnoteworthy when compared to the four straight $1 trillion plus deficits from 2009 to 2012. The abnormal is becoming normal.

    Analyst Doug Noland at first didn’t believe that governments around the world would mortgage the future of their peoples to such an extent to protect and enrich the financial class in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. Eventually, he dubbed the phenomenon the “government finance bubble.” He expects it to be the largest and final bubble of a series occurring in the last 30 years. At the end there will be no Bank of Mars to bail us out when the government finance bubble collapses.

    Nothing in the article should surprise anyone here, but it is worth a read. It might convince someone on the sidelines

    • Paul says:

      I think that came out in 2005 — but nevertheless — he was spot on with pretty much all predictions…

      Amusingly, even though he predicted correctly what was going to happen – people are still in denial.

      And the likes of Noureil Roubini — who utterly fails to understand the fundamental core of the problem (or if he does says nothing) — yet predicted the financial crash – is a media darling…

  35. MJx says:

    Job report looks good and RECORD profits for OIL Giants. All is well in the Universe

    • Paul says:

      If you cut capex because new exploration is unprofitable — and you buy-back shares with ZIRP QE cash… that’s like putting eyeliner, blush, lipstick and a wig on your pig — and you can make your pig look real perty….

      But make no mistake — the pig — is still a pig.

    • If businesses keep making one full time job into two half time jobs, jobs reports will look marvelous. (Job reports don’t pay attention to such details.) This seems to be what is pumping up “job growth.”

      The reported oil profits have a related issue. The current reported profits look good because they reflect big reductions in the expense item of new investment. They also reflect sale of land that companies have decided that they don’t want to develop. As long as people don’t figure out that the lower investment companies are now making will lead to less oil in the future, profits sound great.

      • Paul says:

        Investors understand what is happening with big oil — that is why big oil is buying back shares — if they didn’t investors would head for the exits.

        Another signal that the end game approaches — how long can the like of Exxon keep up this charade? I suppose perhaps as long at the central banks keep shoveling cash to them — and shareholders hold the line…

        However mathematics at some point enters the equation — as production falls because they have reduced capex… and shale fails to make up for the declines in conventional oil — eventually supply and demand dynamics take over and prices march higher — and growth tumbles…

  36. Don Stewart says:

    See this short video for an example of ‘Amish Permaculture’. Making swales (one of the poster boys of permaculture) with horses:

    Based on what I see in the video, and having no knowledge of the specific circumstances, I would say that the Amish have arrived at the same farming system as espoused by Mark Shepard, the well known permaculturist who made the video. As to the technology that this particular band of Amish accept, I am not very certain. I see horses, for sure. I also see a golf cart. I see a piece of an automobile, but it may not belong to the farmers. The Amish I know will accept rides in cars, but they won’t drive them.

    I would ignore the cheesy background music. The point is that the secular Mark Shepard and the religious Amish family can agree on the basic wisdom of making swales and the notion of perennial calorie crops. Whether they harvest with machinery, I don’t know. Shepard designs his farm to accommodate mechanical harvesting, because manual harvesting would cost way too much to be financially viable. It is possible to use a lot of farm equipment with horses rather than internal combustion engines.

    Do you see why I don’t think it is very useful to talk about ‘Amish farming’ as something separate and distinct?

    Don Stewart

  37. Paul says:

    How amusing — the Pentagon ‘condemns’ Israeli’s mass murder campaign — yet they continue to help them load their guns

    Tail wagging dog.

  38. interguru says:

    I came across this book “The Knowledge How to Rebuild our World from Scratch” by Lewis Dartnell. It probably has valuable information. You can see reviews of it on my website,

    • antares71 says:

      I think it would be interesting to set-up a wiki site to collect all the useful post-petroleum knowledge and skills. Anyone could contribute with techniques on how to do vitals things without oil. For example, how to drill a hole in the ground to reach a well and how to extract the water underneath, and in the first place how to localise a well etc…
      And then of course print on paper the most useful paper for safe keeping 🙂

      • I wonder if someone has done this already. It seems like a worthwhile kind of thing to do. There are certainly many books on related subjects.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “I think it would be interesting to set-up a wiki site to collect all the useful post-petroleum knowledge and skills.”

        Y’all are welcome to request an account at the EcoReality MediaWiki site.

        Due to spam-bots, I don’t allow self sign-up, but send me an email via the site, and I’ll create an account for you.

        We also have a 70 GB on-line library of post-copyright book scans and such, but access is limited due to leeches sucking up all our bandwidth. The most efficient way to get this library is to post me an appropriate number of flash drives — 64+16 should do it — plus return postage.

      • kesar says:

        Great idea!
        I plan to prepare extensive library of useful books, as you said. I have no problem with choosing philosophers and great classic literature – these are easily available. The issue I have is with post-collapse engineering, agriculture, medicine books. These are rather rare and most good books on the subject are in English (few are in German/French). I doubt the next generations will speak these languages in my region. And I don’t have time for translation, not mentioning the fact, that I have most of them in e-book form. Printing is another problem.
        Maybe someone would prepare a list of books of his own. Others could add positions to this archive in order to have all-topic post collapse library. If anyone’s interested I can prepare and publish the first version of my own.


        • antares71 says:

          Hey kesar, Yes! spot-on. This is what we need. I think at a first stage it would be very precious to circulate titles and authors so that anyone can search for those books on its own.
          On a second stage, (copyright permitted) if a wiki site pops-up having them digitalised on the net will also bring the advantage of translating them in different languages, as in wikipedia. For this Google translation can help a lot. It can actually get the input source of translation from file (I guess plain text without formatting), which would avoid all the nuisance of copy-and-paste, then native speakers can always edit the pages to correct translation mistakes.
          But one thing for sure, “post-collapse engineering, agriculture, medicine” will be THE KNOWLEDGE to know and I think it shall be shared with all the people in the world so that everyone can help him/herself. The more people will know how to survive the less riots we will have.
          After all, as Rob Hopkins preaches, what’s the point of making your own safe heaven if then you have to arm yourself to the teeth to defend it round the clock from looters?

  39. Anybody noticed in that recently linked talk by Nate Hagens (july 2014) when he revealed his past “sin” venturing briefly into the area of precious metals (PMs) and guns, albeit temporarily. Since that time he moved onto other subjects of prepardness more in the natural world space and human interaction realm. However there was no further comment about should this be at least some small partial response to the future instability events at all?

    For what it’s worth it can be argued that PMs in historic perspective did perform as dense and portable store of value. However some “semi-insiders” theorize that the forthcoming societal reset would also provide for one time only abrupt revaluation. And here the fun begins, some individuals as for example James Rickards are partial to say 5x-10x revaluation in real purchasing value coming relatively soon. Others are dead certain on the 15-30x revaluation bracket given the astronomical debt levels of the global and national financial system as of today. And few more speak about even more outrageous multipliers.

    I’d say isn’t this very train of thought in fact and within the scope of our finiteworld host quite similar to some people talking about $250-500 per gallon price or in the same vein projecting the most extreme climate change scenarios by 2050-2100 due to continuous fossil fuel economic viability?

    So, if the overall economic activity be constrained via “Seneca Cliff” event, then the economic output declining or crashing in the next decades in fact presents the very same problem, namely that precisous metals revaluation would be effectively capped into smallish factor of 2-3x or nothing at all, i.e. just keeping the purchasing power for a while on some plateau while other paper instruments vanish and evaporated? Since the capital destruction in idle factories and industrial world assets would not attract any need for said revaluation, those high revaluation scenarions couldn’t be correct.

    What makes this topic now a bit interesting is that the nascent global powers such as China are ramming through such policies which are in a way crafted to “democratize” this process by allowing or mandating open trade in these in much smaller, fractional form factors (dozens grams or single kilos) in direct contrast to recent past in which these were clearly on purpose by western PTBs kept in very large sizes, effectively making it little people prohibitive, so strictly for government, central bank, and megacorporation usage.

    • Paul says:

      Rickards and others including China seem to look at gold in terms of a collapse of the financial system in which there is a recovery at some point — they seem not to understand that this is not a collapse of rather it is the end of BAU.

      Gold may serve some purpose as the system descends into chaos but when the dust settles food will be the new gold.

      Gold is a form of money and money is a representation and store of surplus energy e.g. if a farmer uses a tractor to produce more calories than he can consume he can sell the excess and obtain currency in return.

      Going forward farmers will not have tractors — they will shift a labour intensive back-breaking form of farming in which they will be fortune to achieve a nett production of calories.

      I think that as the tools that are looted from Walmart and hoarded break down that and there is no fuel remaining to forge new ones — that we revert to something that resembles the situation pre-iron age… (assuming we don’t burn every last tree on the planet trying to maintain the new ‘BAU’ i.e. trying to make tools by recycling scrap metal)

      I hold some physical gold that I bought in 2007 — I didn’t get excited when it went to 1900 (more than double) and I didn’t sell (it’s an armageddon hedge not a trade) — and I don’t lick my chops when I hear the financial pundits like Schiff claim it will go to $5000.

      They are still thinking like BAU goes on after a reset. They are completely wrong.

      I see gold only as some desperate place to store some ‘excess calories’ — something that MIGHT be useful as this descends into chaos. If I had not already ramped up the farm to where I want it, I would most definitely use the gold to purchase more hand tools that might be hard to come by going forward

      • Thanks for the response. I’d agree that for very wealthy individuals it might be prudent to set aside some PMs as “another caloric storage” of sorts, but for ordinary folks without political or mafia style clout in the societal pyramid it’s not going to work, perhaps it could be quite dangerous to have it, rather just focus on hectares, water, tools, books, hands on knowledge, animals, etc.

        • Paul says:

          I don’t think this applies to the ultra wealthy – most average people have stored wealth in some form or other – stocks and bonds for instance.

          Those are of course all going to be worthless so it might make sense to convert some of those to gold — although timing is an issue here so I won’t recommend people sell out of everything an buy gold. I often see the formula of holding 20% of excess wealth in gold.

          Again this is not a trade — i see it as a POSSIBLY useful item to have when the SHTF.

          • Let me refine a bit. From what I have seen, even basic silvo pasture farm operation takes 10-15yrs to establish. If somebody is holding PMs to convert/unload after shock it won’t work in the sense he/she would be exactly 10-15yrs short and stuck with newly bought petrochemical farm at that dire moment. However, some people can sell bonds and stocks today (preferably yesterday) and find themself nice property in some corner of the nation/world, plus few percents in PMs, that starts sound like a plan. But who is acting on such plan? Very few people had the insight and planing at the right time.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “However, some people can sell bonds and stocks today (preferably yesterday) and find themself nice property in some corner of the nation/world, plus few percents in PMs, that starts sound like a plan. But who is acting on such plan? Very few people had the insight and planing at the right time.”

              Most people with money don’t have agricultural skills — and vice-versa!

              I’m hoping people with some money and enough wisdom to realize they don’t have the needed skills will throw their lot in with others. I’m afraid the best-kept secret of the coming collapse is that the age of the “rugged individualist” is over. Individual actions have always been driven by excess energy; collective actions are driven by a paucity of energy. This is Ecology 101.

            • Paul says:

              Unfortunately most of the people with significant spare cash are so wedded to BAU that they cannot see past their noses … they are more interested in accumulating more than seeing what is coming and investing in a future.

              One retired banker with plenty of dosh I know sees something bad coming — and sees that it makes sense to park some of his mega wealth into gold — but he cannot bring himself to park in PM — he must play the market through gold mining shares etc… he simply cannot not trade and let money sit idle…

              To get someone like that to team up with someone on an agricultural hedge (put up the cash – the partners set up the farm – and when things go badly he heads for the haven) is as you can imagine a rather difficult sell.

            • In response to Jan Steinman, perhaps most of the people in agriculture today don’t have much agricultural skills at all anyway. I don’t count the the wisdom and skills of leasing 350hp machinery, planting GMO seeds or cash crops, and collecting subsidies as such.

              On the individual-collective question, the nucleus always will be a family and clan, the community (village, region) comes second and third.

    • Gold and silver can only buy what is available to buy. If there is little to buy, they won’t buy much at all.

      If somehow, some things remain highly valued (medicines, tools, food, guns), and gold is good for buying these, then anyone known to be holding gold is likely to be a target for theft.

      • Lets apply lense from the “fast vs. slow” time perspective.
        On the global scale the dollar regime is so entrenched inside the veins of everything “progress” and “industrial society” of the last couple of centuries: business legal framework, stock exchanges, letters of credit.. Yes, the trend of de-dollarization can continue via off the SWIFT arrangements among the BRICs swaping their own currencies etc. However it is unlikely that the dollar system would be pushed from say current saturation of roughly 65% to less than 40% or 30% of the global system in the next two decades. Something has to give about now, let say in relation of the fracking bubble expiration due to no later than 2020, so that the credit cycle might burst much sooner than in decades time. And is the world going to just desintegrate over night and crawl inside then? Unlikely. We might be entering a twilight zone of say ten years window of even more crazy gorilla tape tricks like widespread bail-ins, international tradewars, cycles of currency devaluations etc. The PM proponents posit this is the exact time of forced revaluation as perhaps one of the latest tricks available of them all. And if such new environment is going to last more than few months, lets say 2-5-10 years, therefore it makes a lot of difference for the little people as well. Again the sequencing of events is rather unpredictable and will make or ruin livelyhoods of all people involuntary involved.

        • I think that a major concern is a rise in interest rates. This could pull things apart quickly. So could a major failure in the system–for example, the derivatives markets, if Japan defaults on its debt. There are many things that could go wrong. In fact the financial system is “optimized” in a way right now where it can sort of handle high oil prices. But if interest rates go up, that puts an end to the ability to handle the high oil prices. Or if there is a big drop off in oil production, that would create a problem.

          It is easy to say the system will go on as it has, but if a person knows some of the weaknesses, it is see where “tears” are very possible.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        “anyone known to be holding gold is likely to be a target for theft.”

        Sounds like a good reason to avoid weapons, as well.

        Be a small target. Avoid boasting. Manage to feed yourself without looking wealthy.

        • That’s largely correct, if history and current world events can provide some hints it’s clear enough that in any struggle the war/violence professionals separate from the populace after a while, that distinction is apparent very soon.

          However, being on purpose “a small target” is only a temporary plan, especially in countries with such a high percentage of gun ownership, so be mentally ready to be taken over and included by local land/warlord to his petty dominion fairly soon. It will be a coexistence, unfair, unbalanced even humiliating, but still somewhat natural in the great scheme of things. The “duke it out” diy style on your own is the shortest lane to graveyard/ditch in resource struggles.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            “being on purpose “a small target” is only a temporary plan, especially in countries with such a high percentage of gun ownership”

            Yea, I hear that a lot — mostly from Mercans, who seem to put guns somewhere up there with growth as a matter of highest religious belief.

            But where will the bullets come from?

            Without governments, without a finance industry, without long-distance transportation systems, without mining, the local warlord had better stock up on muzzle-loaders and saltpeter.

            If you accept that many trappings of civilization must be in place in order to have firearms as a local offensive and defensive factor, I’ll stick to my tiny island in a country where handguns are illegal, thank you. And if our government falters and handguns flood across the border, being a “small target” might just keep one out of trouble until they’ve used up all their ammo on others with guns.

      • VPK says:

        How come there is always a catch?

        • Competition for resources, there is always some danger lurking in the shadow next to you.
          Civilized people are sick to the bone, it’s called “grand illusions of something for nothing” be it pirates, conquistadors, settlers, financial tycoons, gamblers..

          Sometimes, individuals strike it lucky, 10-20-50bagger before age of 40-50 or younger, that’s has been the motto for ages. But usually in only next two generations “the wealth” will be blown to the wind on fluff and apperances.

          To strike it rich, i.e. accumulate resources/wealth in high multiples of lifetime work of an ordinary individual is a rare miracle, but to keep multigenerational wealth intact or even growing is yeat another upper rarity level, thus the .01% super elite.

          The “catch” is meant for the little people. While the fat cats are trimmed sporadically at the times of ending the supercycle only once in a few hundred years etc.

      • dashui says:

        If u r concerned about your gold horde attracting attention then buy some old wedding rings, so that it looks like you are selling in desperation.

      • xabier says:

        Gold makes you not just a target for theft, but torture too.

        • Isn’t it a bit over the top.
          People are being tortured as of now this very minute around the world as we speak because of drugs cash, weapons, state secrets, religious fanatism, art treasures and what have you. It will likely get worse in more resource constrained world..

          But clearly isn’t it much more clever and easier making PMs disappear form the daily view, i.e. reserved to big honcho trade level only, interbank market done in tons. And let the single oz. retail level for those few “permadoom fools” out there.. That’s what happened in the west pretty much in the last 100yrs odd years anyway.

      • Paul says:

        Yes certainly — however given the choice — I’d rather be holding a pocket full of gold rather than nothing.

        If someone robs me of that then so be it.

        That said I do not put much faith in gold being of any use other than perhaps as a way to buy one’s way out of a bad situation as the world descends into chaos and the last vestiges of BAU unravel — once the starving and the dying starts food will be the new gold.

        • John Doyle says:

          IMO, silver is by far the best option. It’s so much more convertible than gold. Gold works for countries since it would unlikely trade less than one bar at a time. Silver is assumed by some to be better value as well, with more scope for price rises.
          However any real wealth would be wasted trading during the downturn as you would be buying high and selling low. Consumables are different but selling gold to buy medicine might be worth it if it saved a valued life, like one’s own!

  40. MJx says:

    Peak Soil….,0,500313.story
    We know far more about the amount of oil there is globally and how long those stocks will last than we know about how much soil there is,” said John Crawford, Director of the Sustainable Systems Program in Rothamsted Research in England.

    “Under business as usual, the current soils that are in agricultural production will yield about 30 percent less than they would do otherwise by around 2050.”

    Surging food consumption has led to more intensive production, overgrazing and deforestation, all of which can strip soil of vital nutrients and beneficial micro-organisms, reduce its ability to hold water and make it more vulnerable to erosion.

    • MJx says:

      more that is even better:
      If we keep treating our soil the way we do, we will have to convert about 70 percent of the earth’s surface into agriculture to meet demand for food by 2050 (from about 40 percent now),” Crawford said.

      That is in part because there will be many more mouths to feed. The United Nations has projected that global population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050, up from 7.2 billion last year.

      Emerging nations are also embracing Western diets that include more consumption of meat, which will add further to the strain on agricultural resources.

      Crawford also noted that moderately degraded soil could only store about half the amount of water of good soil, adding to pressure on limited water resources.

      “We need to find ways of pricing the true cost into food, including the environmental cost of soil degradation,” Crawford added.

  41. Paul says:

    When I watch this I can’t help thinking — this collapse cannot happen soon enough — it will be a pyrrhic victory of course…

  42. Stefeun says:

    Maybe some of you have already seen this (1 year old) interesting Animated Protest Mapping:

    1 flashing spot per protest every month from 1979 until 2013 ; you can zoom. If it doesn’t work, you can try to get it from

  43. Paul says:

    5 industries worried about peak oil (skip the first feel good paragraphs…)

  44. antares71 says:

    Well CTG, in Britain during WW2 the British government dictated what to grow in the fields. This was to assure maximum yield of only those produce that could feed the population. Other major fields were used to grow plants to make fibers for the para-shoot.
    Ratios were imposed in major big cities like London and since then the British people have learned to queue properly at the bus stop, in the shops etc…
    That was Britain in the 40’s, and Churchill really cared about the very people he was trying to protect so the “strict discipline” was always accompanied with a message that every one had to make an effort in the war. This actually sparked a great deal of solidarity among the British people and united a whole country (Elizabeth even went clandestinely to celebrate victory in the street of London with the “normal people”).
    This is to say that although martial low and ratio may seem a gloomy possibility it does not mean that it WILL happen. You cannot given the future prospect for granted. The more you think it will go that way the more that image will be real in your mind. I believe there is also space for a U-catastrophe, as Tolkien explained, that is the possibility that bad things can turn unexpectedly to good thing.
    One thing for certain though. If you want to avoid riot, move away from highly dense populated area in favor of a small community in the countryside.

    • Paul says:

      This time is different.

      In the past population was not a problem – the elites knew starvation was not imminent because we did not farm using petrochemicals.

      But now we have 7.2 billion people — almost every last single one relies on oil and gas farmed food.

      The elites know that there is no way in hell even a fraction of these billions can be fed.

      If I were making the decisions I would do nothing to help the masses — because trying to feed them would be futile. I would want them to die as soon as possible.

      It might sound cold – but this is the reality. If anyone is expected a UN truck to distribute emergency rations — I would not count on that.

      You will be on your own. And I very much doubt you will be allowed out of your home if you are in a city to forage for what little food is available. I expect total lock down and a bullet in the head for anyone breaking the curfew.

      What the PTB will want is for you to sit in your apartment watching CNN spew lies about how all is well – don’t leave your house – help is on the way – recovery is around the corner.

      And then you will weaken, the fight will go out of you and you will die of dehydration as the water supplies are shut off and you are trapped in your apartment/house.

      There is no turning back the clock — when we started to farm with petro chemicals – we were doomed.

      • antares71 says:

        Paul, true this time is different of course, but I think the way problems are tackled is also a question of culture.
        We are 7.2 billions but this makes no difference because oil scarcity will reduce, if not cut off entirely, transportation as we knew it and so the problem will be only local. Every country will have to face it on its own. Yes, in the most populated area there will be the most crude selection but I find it difficult to believe that in Europe there won’t be any attempt to save as many lives as possible. And the same goes for Australia and New Zeland. I find difficult to believe that the Norwegian government or the Dutch government or even mighty Germany with its 80 million people will not try to help the population. It is ironic that I write this as Europe, after all, has produced characthers like hitler, mussolini and franco, so you never know who may pop-up!
        I think what you wrote may well be true for the US. I’m saying this not out of pre-conconditions but out of past examples like how easy it was to consider a low (very low indeed) priority the tragedy of Katrina. And even so, I think it will depend on the asministration, not all US governments are the same.
        Anyway, however it will go it is always safe to move to a small community and prepare for the worst.

        • Paul says:

          I think the point is that there is no way to help them – even if the PTB wanted to…

          When the petrochemicals are not delivered farming stops – period.

          Are the PTB going to use the finite oil reserves that are in storage to make inputs for farming to feed 7.2 billion people — for perhaps a few months more? Knowing that when that oil is gone that’s the end game.

          Plan B is already in place — and it doesn’t sound as if it involves futile attempts to save the little people — after all there are way too many little people already — the PTB are clearly aware of that — so why try to keep what is already unsustainable – alive?

          Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

          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”

          I would not bank on the government to help – in fact I hope that they do absolutely nothing – because the best outcome for anyone who has anticipating what is coming and made preparations — is that most people are simply dead within weeks of the collapse.

          If they linger on they will literally be ‘at the gates’

        • I think that quite a few governments will go away, at the same time we have huge financial disruption. So Europe may end up with far more countries (and no EU). And the US could be multiply subdivided.

          • dashui says:

            I always thought it was JFK’s motto: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but how many in your country you can do!”

    • Things have changed a lot since that time period. I was thinking about JFK’s inaugural address 1961:

      As not what your country can do for you

      We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

      The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

      . . .

      Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” — a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

      Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

      Can you imagine anyone saying these things today? People recognize that life is hard, and we are getting poorer and poorer.

      • Creedon says:

        I don’t know what people recognize. I don’t think that they recognize peak oil. I don’t think that the ‘haves’ recognize the plight of the have nots. Also, we on this website do not agree on fast collapse versus slow collapse scenarios.

        • You have just described the relativity of time.
          From my vintage point, in fact “very little” has changed inside our family in say past 100yrs. I still get most of the food from the city shops and live in the city, still use the mass transit, obviously all in a bit more modernist flavour. I travelled and visit places globally, my ancestor 100yrs ago only across one continent and less so frequently during their lifetimes.

          Now, lets move the clock 300-500-700yrs back and we are talking more pronounced change in all aspects of life then.

          Therefore only the sheer tour de force of say Seneca Cliff taking place in short span duration of 5-10yrs would have the propensity to push such a dramatic change now on me. And I think it’s unlikely, the system will rather eat itself inside out, i.e. slow or not very fast collapse ala Western Roman Empire and we are clearly not in comparable situation as their fourth or fifth centuries A.D. compared to them.

      • xabier says:

        Kennedy’s speech was the last blast of the 19th century belief in Progress, and stirring an educated public up with rhetoric.

        Still, it certainly makes much better reading than the the primitive demagogic technique of Obama: this change itself expresses the decline of our civilization quite well.

        His audiences seem to respond well though: tell unreflective and poorly-educated people that they are going to get something and they will always applaud. Even a declining state can dole out bread and circuses, or the appearance of them…..

  45. CTG says:

    I have some thoughts that I would like to share and discuss. It is rather lonely not to have someone who can talk to physically on what is on my mind. No one will ever believe you or pay any attention to you when you start to talk about negative things.

    There are many people talking about martial law and rationing. Rationing will only work if the populace sees that there is hope in the future and it is geographically localized. For example, the gasoline lines in 1970s. People see that it is due to the Arab Embargo and it can go away. In the aftermath of Katrina on New Orleans, martial law can be implemented as the people know that it is only localized in one area.

    However, if people realized that this is something big, cannot be resolved easily or it is not geographically localized, then the populace will resist as they know there is no solution or hope. Even the law enforcer will have problems on their own. If it is the whole nation going for martial law, then who is going to pay the law enforcer? The banks will probably be closed or may not have enough physical money to be distributed. Supply chain may be broken and supplies will run short. Abuse of power will happen. Rationing will only serve those in power where they will have a large share of the supply shipped in (how the government gets the supply is another question). This bias-ness will become violent if the society has firearms. Rationing cannot be implemented in a “population overshot” situation. It can only be implemented if there are enough food supply for everyone and rationing will prevent hoarding. Just imagine if a truck full of grains arrive and all the people come around and grab whatever they want. There will be people who has a lot and there will also be a lot of people who has none. In a normal rationing where the population is less, a ration card can be used. Those who have farms will be able to supplement their rations. Imagine again if you try to implement rationing in New York City, Chicago, London, Tokyo or any large city. How do you intend to do rationing at those big cities?? Anyone care to imagine and tell me how it should be done?

    There are also talks in blogs that when martial law is implemented, factories can be converted to do electric cars and extract oil. Those are really really pipe dreams by those who are not working in manufacturing line. Factories are NOT convertible to make other types of products. Car companies have spent a lot of money optimizing the method just to produce different cars and trucks at the same factory. Factories are so automated and the staff is so highly specialized that it is not possible to do anything else. I work in a high tech factory and if one of our staff (due to specialization) is on emergency, we have to wait for him to come back the next day to complete it as we have no idea how to do his work. Making an electric car, semiconductors and other complex machines is an industry on its own. You cannot have some other people coming in and work in those factories. My semiconductor factory requires parts from all over the world and one failed part will cause the entire production line to go down. There are no substitute parts (these parts are proprietary and the designs are company secrets).

    Mining or drilling for oil is not what Paul says – stick a straw in the ground and oil will come out. That is the easy oil. Expensive oil is probably more academic. You need advanced supercomputers, fantastic software and complex equipment to map oil fields and extract oil. I know one extremely highly paid drilling supervisor who is every sought after by every company because he has the skills to know when to stop drilling. If the drilling continues, it will result in an explosion like Deepwater Horizon. He is constantly moving around the oil rigs and will be called upon when his skills are required. I am not surprised, based on his skills and salary, that there are only a handful of these people in the world.

    So, would any person with sticks and shovels be of any help to anyone ?

    Humans are competitive by nature. Any alliance is short-lived and usually ends as soon as the need to dissolve it arrives. So, there are many instances of people saying that banksters control Russia, US, UK, China, etc and what we see are just shows and theater. Personally, I don’t think so. We have the Republicans suing Barack Obama and we have in-fighting in every country and politics.

    Government or the elites are not “know all”. If they act on the behalf of the people, then Europe would have a solution for “Russian monopolizing gas exports to Europe”. Russia has been threatening Europe on the “gas issue” since 1990s. Even if they start building LNG terminals in 2000, they would have completed it by 2005 or 2010. Until today, Europe is still at the mercy of Russia. Smart? Self-serving?

    Elite are really not “god” or very smart. You may click on the link below (Zerohedge) or the original Twitter by Joseph A. LaVorgna, Managing Director and Chief US Economist at Deutsche Bank. From his tweet, he does not seem to be sarcastic and seems to believe what he says. I have no idea why he can come out with what he has tweeted.

    Do share with me your comments. This is the only blog where I can post up my opinions without anyone laughing at them. Excuse me if my English is not good. It is not my first language.

    • antares71 says:

      See my comment below CTG, it was in reply to your comment.

    • Paul says:

      Some excellent insights….

      The elites are most definitely fallible — anyone who thinks the supposedly smart guys will work this out — is delusional…. they have most definitely proved adept at kicking the can in the BAU paradigm… but again – This Time Is Different — the can is up against the wall…

      No doubt they will attempt martial law — but I agree — it will not work…. it might be effective in the first few weeks or maybe even for some months — but this will quickly fall apart as centralized control is lost due to declining oil reserves — soldiers will starve along with the rest of the population… and they will resort to pillaging where possible.

      Anarchy x 1000 — hopefully these sorts of people are not able to move around easily — and they quickly die of hunger.

    • I agree that everything is super-specialized, with long supply lines. It wouldn’t take many outages to bring things down.

      Perhaps the zero hedge post is an attempt at humor.

  46. Stefeun says:

    Salut Christian,

    Ultima Llaada (Last Call manifest) is now available in French:
    Subtitle: “A civilization is coming to an end and we have to build up a new one”
    My opinion is that such initiative is useless, unfortunately ; it says nothing more than everybody already knows (talking for Europeans with minimum awareness) and suggests that a mega-brainstorming and restored democracy will save us all (“7.2b+ of us living in dignity”!). It could make sense 40 years ago, but today, whatever direction you look at, you realize we’re trapped. I think most of the people know that, they just don’t imagine the end is so close (even in the manifest, they say “we have max 5 years to gather and start a large debate”!!).

    On a different topic, I find what “they” are doing to Argentina totally unworthy and Intl shame. The method is simply disgusting. Those not yet aware can read, for example:
    “It’s the end of Argentina as we know it, and the world economy will be just fine
    An entire country defaulting on its debt? After a fight with US hedge-funders? This is the stupidest ‘nuclear option’ yet”
    Madame Lagarde says it doesn’t matter because Argentina is rather isolated, not much interlinked with world-finance (in other words: we can press them to death). BAU for IMF…

    • Stefeun says:

      Sorry I missed the M in Ultima LlaMada.

      “Today’s the Day for Argentina and Its Vultures”

      • Christian says:

        Steph, don’t matter you missed the M, the world indeed missed the call… J’ai dit que c’était un peu rose…

        Thanks to you and Gail for thinking on us. Argentina’s situation is really amazing: we don’t know if we defaulted… It’d be our fourth default in history, but we’re learning: now we can disguise it somewhat, not as the third wich was so noisy… Not sure how long the trick will work this time, while it’s true GFS has become so weird it looks as if anything can go and improvisation sets the tone.

        Guardian’s article seems to miss the RUFO clause -which is well explained in Bloomberg’s. This is why we can’t pay the full price to the hedge funds even if we have the money: exchange creditors would be willing to get 100% as well, and that’s what is absolutely impossible to pay. Btw, it’s bizarre Griesa mandated us to pay holdouts the full price instead of forcing them to enter in the exchange. I understand that according to the US domestic law, if 70% of creditors take the exchange it is declared enforceable to everyone. And we got 92% of exchanging creditors. But I don’t know if another juridical framing is applicable. And it looks like there is just not much legislation nor juridical clarity concerning sovereign defaults.

        I’m not sure about Lagarde’s words. The most important point is the IMF is a terrific creditor, the worst of all because it’s the most powerful, but we don’t owe to them a single penny anymore. That’s a part of why Lagarde dismiss Argentina as nonimportant: it’s really not IMF’s business. And it’s true Kirchner choosed not to take more debt and the country is out of debt markets. Pushed by the negative energy balance started in 2011 (at which is pointing Gail) the gov was recently trying to return to debt markets, but it doesn’t look like they will succeed… I don’t care very much if this is the only consequence of the default (without new debt we must cut subsides on residential nat gas, which is already being done and will work for a couple of years if properly managed), On the other hand, I know of some private importers that since three months ago are asked to pay in advance. Before they did’nt used LC’s but an insurance on the payment, now it’s like our commerce is de-banking by its own. Perhaps this is the way

        • Stefeun says:

          maybe the fact that Argentina is out of debt markets and owes nothing to the IMF is actually the real reason why they’re so agressive with you ; they’re trying a roundbout way to subject you to the global finance.
          If they succeed in forcing you to pay the $120b (total I heard is at stake, for the 7% of creditors who refused the 2001 deal) then you might need the IMF, because your reserves have recently vanished down to $28b (if I got it correctly)… Don’t give up!

          • Christian says:

            Yes, reserves are under 30 since a year ago or so. So absolutely no way to pay 120b to everybody (this would be 100% creditors at a 100% value; hedge funds at 100% is just some 3b we do are able to pay but will not). You can talk about it just for laugh, as one of the articles said.

            As you say, banksters must be missing us, they made a lot of money since they lent to the last Junta in the 70’s (through YPF assets backing), and the interests on that loans is what we are trying not to default now, 40 years later (they call it “development”). But tell me something. If you are a banker and use to deal with the president of ArCorp, always a lawer or such, and one day it is the head of the security staff of ArCorp who is willing to get some money in the name of ArCorp, are you going to give it to him?

            But I’m not sure Griesa can enforce us to pay the hedge funds, unless he sizes our embassy in DC; in that case, hope he’ll get its staff as well and sell them also (not a big fan of that kind of people). Salut

        • Thanks for your comments!

          We will need to watch what happens in Argentina.

        • kesar says:

          I’m sorry to conclude Argentina’s situation as the ‘inclined plane’ with cliff ahead.

          Lower debt->less trade/unemployment/deflation/inflation cycles/lower debt->… loop. Run on banks, buncruptcies, riots, etc.
          One of the first collapsing countries on periphery of the ‘first world’.

          On the other hand in the long run it will be benficial for Argentina – you will have much softer landing than those other countries. The later, the steeper the curve.


          • Christian says:


            Lower debt… yes. Not sure it will make a difference in the long run unless it drives us to accept the real situation, which is surely not to take for granted

    • Not good for Argentina. This is an old oil imports/exports chart for them. It explains a major part of the problem.

      Argentina oil production -consumption

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