Update on US natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables

On August 6, I wrote a post called Making Sense of the US Oil Story, in which I looked at US oil. In this post, I would like to look at other sources of US energy. Of course, the energy source we hear most about is natural gas. We continue to be a net natural gas importer, even as our own production rises.

Figure 1. US natural gas production and consumption, based on EIA data.

Figure 1. US natural gas production and consumption, based on EIA data.

US natural gas production leveled off in 2013, because of the low level of US natural gas prices. In 2013, there was growth in gas production in Pennsylvania in the Marcellus, but many other states, including Texas, saw decreases in production. In early 2014, natural gas prices have been higher, so natural gas production is rising again, roughly at a 4% annual rate.

The US-Canada-Mexican natural gas system is more or less a closed system (at least until LNG exports come online in the next few years) so whatever natural gas is produced, is used. Because of this, natural gas prices rise or fall so that demand matches supply. Natural gas producers have found this pricing situation objectionable because natural gas prices tend to settle at a low level, relative to the cost of production. This is the reason for the big push for natural gas exports. The hope, from producers’ point of view, is that exports will push US natural gas prices higher, making more natural gas production economic.

The Coal / Natural Gas Switch

If natural gas is cheap and plentiful, it tends to switch with coal for electricity production. We can see this in electricity consumption–natural gas was particularly cheap in 2012:

Figure 2. Selected Fuels Share of US Electricity - Coal, Natural Gas, and the sum of Coal plus Natural Gas

Figure 2. Selected Fuels Share of US Electricity Production – Coal, Natural Gas, and the sum of Coal plus Natural Gas, based on EIA data.

Coal use increased further in early 2014, because of the cold winter and higher natural gas prices. In Figure 2, there is a slight downward trend in the sum of coal and natural gas’s share of electricity, as renewables add their (rather small) effect.

If we look at total consumption of coal and natural gas (Figure 3), we find it also tends to be quite stable. Increases in natural gas consumption more or less correspond to decreases in coal consumption. New natural gas power plants should be more efficient than old coal power plants in producing electricity, putting downward pressure on total coal plus natural gas consumption. Also, we are using more efficient lighting, refrigerators, and monitors for computers, holding down electricity usage, and thus both coal and gas usage. Better insulation is also helpful in reducing home heating needs (whether by electricity or natural gas).

Figure 3. Layered US consumption of coal and natural gas, based on EIA data.

Figure 3. Layered US consumption of coal and natural gas, based on EIA data.

Another factor in the lower electricity usage (and thus lower coal and natural gas usage) is fewer household formations since 2007. Young people who continue to live with their parents don’t add as much electricity usage as ones who set up their own households do. Low household formations are related to a lack of good-paying jobs.

Coal Production / Consumption

US coal production hit its maximum level in 1998, with production tending to decline since then. US coal consumption has been dropping faster than production, so that exports (difference between production and consumption) have been rising (Figure 4).

Figure 4. US coal production and consumption based on EIA data.

Figure 4. US coal production and consumption based on EIA data.

In 2012, about 16% of coal produced was exported. This percentage dropped to about 10% in 2013, with greater US coal usage.

Coal tends to cause pollution of several types, including higher carbon dioxide levels. It also tends to be less expensive that most other fuels, so world demand remains high. Worldwide, coal use continues to grow.

Nuclear and Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric is the original extender of fossil fuels. Hydroelectricity using concrete and metals became feasible in the 1800s, when we began using coal to provide the heat necessary to make metals and concrete in quantity. The first hydroelectric power plants were put in place in the US in the 1880s.  As recently as 1940, hydroelectric provided 40% of the United States’ electrical generation.

Nuclear electric power was the next major extender of fossil fuels. The first nuclear power was added to the US energy mix in 1957, according to EIA data. The big ramp up in nuclear began in the 1970s and 1980s. Similar to hydroelectricity, nuclear requires fossil fuels to build and maintain its plants making electricity.

If we look at the US distribution of fuels, we see that in recent years, nuclear has been a much bigger source of energy than hydroelectricity.

Figure 5. US Energy Consumption, showing the various fossil fuel extenders separately from fossil fuels, based on BP data.

Figure 5. US Energy Consumption, showing the various fossil fuel extenders separately from fossil fuels, based on BP data.

The above comparison includes all types of energy, not just electricity. The grouping GeoBiomass is a BP grouping including geothermal and various forms of wood and other biomass energy, including sources such as landfill gas and other energy from waste. Note that GeoBiomass, Biofuels, and Solar+Wind are hard to see on Figure 5, because of their small quantities.

If we look at hydro and nuclear separately for recent years (Figure 6, below), we see that nuclear has tended to grow, while hydro has tended to fall, although both now seem to be  on close to a plateau. Hydro tends to be more variable than nuclear because it depends on rainfall and snow pack, things that vary from year to year and month to month.

Figure 6. Comparison of US nuclear and hydroelectric consumption, based on EIA data.

Figure 6. Comparison of US nuclear and hydroelectric consumption, based on EIA data.

The reason why hydro has tended to decrease in quantity over time is that it takes maintenance (using fossil fuels) to keep the aging power plants in operation and silt removed from near the dams. Most of the good locations for dams are already taken, so not much new capacity has been added.

Nuclear power plant electricity production has grown even since the 1986 Chernobyl accident because the United States has continued to expand the capacity of existing nuclear facilities. I do not expect this trend to continue, for a variety of reasons. Not all such capacity expansions have worked out well. The capacity expansion of the San Onofre plant in California in 2010 experienced premature wear and is now being decommissioned. Many of the nuclear plants built in the 1970s are reaching  the ends of their useful lives. Unless we add a large number of new nuclear plants in the next few years, it seems likely that US generation of nuclear electricity will be falling over the next 20 years.

Other Energy Types

It is easier to see other energy types if we look at them as a percentage of US total energy consumption. The following is a graph of “renewables” as a percentage of US energy consumption, using EIA data:

Figure 7. Renewables are percentage of US energy consumption, using EIA data (but groupings used by BP).

Figure 7. Renewables are percentage of US energy consumption, using EIA data (but groupings used by BP).

A person can see that over the long haul, hydroelectric has tended to shrink as a percentage of energy consumption, as energy needs grew and hydroelectric failed to keep up.

The GeoBiomass category is BP’s catch-all category, mentioned above.1 It (theoretically) includes everything from the wood we burn in our fireplaces to the charcoal briquettes we use to cook food outdoors, to home heating with wood or briquettes to the burning of sawdust or wood pieces in power plants. It also includes geothermal, which is about 6% as large as hydroelectric, and is increasing gradually over time. Based on EIA data, biomass isn’t growing either in absolute amount or as a percentage of total energy consumed.

Biofuels are liquid fuels made from biomass used to extend oil consumption. In the US, the major biofuel is ethanol, made from corn. It is used to extend gasoline, generally up to 10%.  A chart of production and consumption shows that US biofuel production “topped out,” once it hit the 10% of gasoline “blendwall”.

Figure 8. US biofuel production and consumption, based on EIA data.

Figure 8. US biofuel production and consumption, based on EIA data.

Biofuels now amount to 5.7% of US petroleum (crude oil plus natural gas liquids) consumption. In recent years, the US is a slight exporter of biofuels.

Corn ethanol currently takes about 40% of US corn production, according to the USDA (Figure 9). Greater corn plantings would put pressure on land usage for other crops.

USDA corn use, from USDA site.

Figure 9. USDA corn use, from USDA site.

If someone figures out how to make cellulosic ethanol cheaply (perhaps from wood), it presumably will cut into the market for corn ethanol, unless the blend wall is raised to 15%. Without additional ethanol coming from a source such as cellulosic ethanol, such an increase in the maximum blending percentage would likely be problematic.

Wind and Solar PV

Wind and Solar PV are sources of US electricity, so really need to be compared in that context. If we compare nuclear, hydroelectric, and all renewable electricity other than hydro (including electricity from wood, sawdust, and waste, and from geothermal, in addition to wind and solar) we see that in total, all other renewables are approximately equal to hydro electricity in quantity:

Figure 10:  Hydroelectric, other renewables, and nuclear as a percentage of US electricity supply, based on EIA data.

Figure 10: Hydroelectric, other renewables, and nuclear as a percentage of US electricity supply, based on EIA data.

If we look at the pieces of other renewables separately, we see the following:

Figure 11. Wind, solar/PV and other renewables as a percentage of US electricity, based on EIA data.

Figure 11. Wind, solar/PV and other renewables as a percentage of US electricity, based on EIA data.

Wind energy has indeed grown in quantity. Solar/PV is growing, but from a very small base. The remainder, which includes geothermal, wood and various waste products, is growing a bit.

A major issue with wind and solar is that we badly need a “solution” to our energy problem, so these are “pushed,” whether they are really helpful or not. Some issues involved:

(a) Cost effectiveness. Studies (such as by Brookings Institution, Weissbach et al., Graham Palmer) show that wind and solar PV are not cost-effective for reducing carbon emissions. If we want to reduce carbon emissions, conservation or switching from coal to natural gas would be more cost effective.

(b) Peak supply or peak affordability (demand in economists’ language)? The peak oil “story” often seems to be that because of inadequate supply, oil and other fossil fuel prices will rise, and substitutes will suddenly become competitive. This story is used to support a switch to wind and solar PV and high priced biofuels, since the expected high prices of fossil fuels will supposedly support the high cost of renewables.

Unfortunately, the story is wrong. High prices of any fuel tend to lead to recession because wages don’t rise to match the high prices. Also, a country using the high-priced fuel tends to become less competitive compared to countries that don’t use the high-priced fuel. The net effect is that prices don’t rise very much. Instead, manufacturing moves to countries that use less-expensive fuels. Oil prices may fall so low (relative to the cost of oil production) that oil producers sell their land and increase dividends to shareholders instead; in fact, this seems to be happening already.

(c) Hoped for long-term life. If fossil fuels have problems, can “renewables” have long life-spans in spite of those problems? Not that I can see. It takes fossil fuels to maintain the electric grid and to produce any modern renewable, such as wind, or solar PV or wave energy. Wind turbines need frequent replacement of parts, and solar PV needs new “inverters.” Wood and biomass will have long lives, if not overused, but these won’t keep the electric grid operating.

(d) Apples to oranges cost comparisons. There are a few situations where wind and solar PV are used to substitute for oil–for example, on islands, where oil is used to operate electricity generation. In these cases, wind and solar PV are likely already competitive, without subsidies. In these situations, per capita use of electricity can be expected to be very low, because exports made with such high-priced electricity will be non-competitive in the world market-place.

The confusion comes elsewhere, where substitution is for natural gas, coal, or nuclear energy. Here, the savings to an electric company is primarily a savings in fuel cost, that is, the cost of the natural gas, or coal or uranium. The plant’s manpower needs and its cost of electric grid maintenance will be the same (or higher). There may be costs associated with monitoring the new sources of electricity added to the grid or additional balancing costs, and these need to be considered as well.

If we want to maintain the electric grid so we can continue to have electricity for a variety of purposes, the “correct” credit for intermittent renewables is the savings to the power companies–which is likely to be close to the savings in fuel costs, or about 3 cents per kWh on the mainland United States. This is far less than the “net metering” benefit (offering a benefit equal to the retail cost of electricity) that is often used for grid-tied solar PV. It is also generally less than the “wholesale time of day” cost of electricity, often used for wind.

Germany is known for its encouragement of wind and solar PV, using liberal funding for the renewables. This approach has adverse ramifications, including high electricity costs, less grid stability, closure of some traditional natural gas power plants, and rising carbon dioxide emissions. A recent article called Germany’s Electricity Market Out of Balance by the Institute for Energy Research summarizes these issues.


It would be great if we had a solution for our non-oil energy issues, but we really don’t. The closest we can perhaps come is scaling up natural gas consumption some, and reducing coal’s current portion of the electricity mix. We currently have a large amount of coal consumption relative to natural gas consumption (Figure 3), so we ourselves have good use for rising natural gas production, if it should actually take place.

The “catch” in scaling up natural gas consumption is a price “catch.” If the price of natural gas price rises too high relative to coal, then electricity production starts switching back to coal. If, on the other hand, natural gas prices don’t rise very much, not much of an increase in production is likely to be available. Producers would like to export (a lot of) natural gas to Europe, as a way of jacking-up US natural gas prices. This seems like a pipe dream. See my article The Absurdity of US Natural Gas Exports.

Nuclear is a big question mark. If the United States starts taking much nuclear off line, it will leave a big hole in electricity generation, especially in the Eastern part of the US. Germany and recently Belgium are starting to experience the effect of taking nuclear off line. It is hard to see how wind and solar PV can play a very big role in offsetting the nuclear loss.

Politicians need to have a “solution” they can call an energy savior, but it is hard to see that renewables will play more than a small role. Biofuels seem to have “topped out” for now. Wind and solar PV are still growing, but it is hard to justify subsidies for them, as part of the electric grid system. Solar PV does have uses off grid, if citizens want their own source of electricity, with their own inverters and back-up batteries. There are also business uses of this type–for example, to operate equipment in a remote location.

I have not tried to cover all of the various smaller items. There may also be growth possibilities for items that I have not discussed, such as solar thermal for heating hot water, particularly in warm parts of the United States.


[1] I have used BP’s GeoBiomass grouping for convenience, but I am adding together EIA data amounts. What is included in the “biomass” portion of GeoBiomass seems to vary from agency to agency (BP, EIA, IEA), because of different definitions of what is included. For example, is animal dung burned as fuel included? Is fuel that is gathered by a family, rather than purchased, included? I am using EIA data for US renewables in Figure 7, since its long-term data series is probably as good as any for the US.

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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984 Responses to Update on US natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables

  1. Paul says:

    A friend who used to write for The Economist passed this indictment of the MSM to me yesterday… one of the most enlightening documentaries you will likely ever see:

    • It is an hour and a half long. I could tell from the first few minutes that it likely had some worthwhile things to say. Our big for-profit news media “spins” the news in a certain way. It is hard to tell what is really going on.

      • Paul says:

        It actually identifies a number of big news stories that were either ignored by the US MSM — or outright killed… because corporates wanted them killed.

        There are interviews with top journalists including the main anchor of CBS who was fired after she did an expose on Nike slave factories— and it was cancelled because Nike agreed to sponsor the CBS coverage of the Olympic Games…

        Another leading journalist committed suicide after his career was destroyed for exposing something the government did not want exposed….

        An FBI whistle blower was also ignored by the MSM when she tried to expose wrong-doings…

        And on … and on… and on….

        The point being — if you take your news from the corporate MSM machine in America — you are being fed lie after lie after lie…

    • kesar says:

      Looks nice to watch. On the other hand we are all aware, that MSM spreads false stories 24/7 in zillions of channels. I am not sure though, that the true story on what’s going on would have positive effect. Does anyone believe that those not very enlightened and educated billions of people all around the globe would make smart choices confronted with this what we are discussing here? I doubt.

      False narratives are also the foundation of BAU. Without them we are suddenly in the next stage, which is much more unpleasant, I guess.

      • Paul says:

        Actually most people have not got a clue — even some on this site who continue to espouse news speak that they have clearly picked up from the likes of CNN and the New York Times….

        The documentary is important because it details very specific instances where journalists were silenced and fired because they insisted on integrity.

        You can lead a horse to water … but you can’t force him to drink…. that is a powerful expose on how the entire MSM system functions…

  2. Stefeun says:

    Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse
    Four decades after the book was published, Limit to Growth’s forecasts have been vindicated by new Australian research. Expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.
    Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander
    theguardian.com, Tuesday 2 September 2014

    The 22 pages research paper:
    Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Updated Comparison of The Limits to Growth with Historical Data – Research Paper No. 4 August 2014

    • Paul says:

      Thanks – they don’t focus enough on the fact that the financial system is what will likely be the catalyst for the collapse..

      • Stefeun says:

        You’re right, in the Guardian’s article the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) is merely evoked.
        In the research paper, however, it looks like he’s taking it more into account:

        “This paper presents an update on the prior data comparison by Turner (2008). An update is es- pecially pertinent now because of questions raised about how the current economic downturn— commonly associated with the GFC—may relate to the onset of collapse in the LTG BAU scenario. Is it possible that aspects leading to the collapse in the LTG BAU scenario have contributed to the GFC-related economic downturn? Could it be that this downturn is therefore a harbinger of global collapse as modelled in the LTG?”

        I’m currently checking if it goes farther than say that oil prices played a role in 2008 ; I think I’ve read something interesting about “stability”, but I’m not sure how, yet.

        • His statement on oil price is quite weak. He has a long paragraph that starts:

          “Nevertheless, the overriding proximate cause of the GFC is evidently financial: excessive levels of debt (relative to gross domestic product (GDP), or more accurately, the actual capacity of the real economy to pay back the debt) (Keen, 2009). Such financial dynamics were not incorporated in the LTG modeling.” The long paragraph ends, “Alternatively, another potential factor could be the price increases in oil and related commodities, which would be experienced by all households simultaneously (but with a disproportionate impact on large numbers of households with low discretionary income) and hence cause the coordinated debt defaults.”

          • Stefeun says:

            Reg. oil prices he also says in a footnote:
            “i: One particularly important case in point is the change from elastic to inelastic supply of oil and the resulting economic implications (Murray and King, 2012, Murray and Hansen, 2013), which are discussed in detail in later sections.” so… maybe later?

            He quite often mentions the GFC and the financial system, but says very few about the way this “new” parameter would modify the LTG model (which was actually what I was looking for). Instead, he somewhat turns the question the other way round (p.5):
            “Is it possible that aspects leading to the collapse in the LTG BAU scenario have contributed to the GFC-related economic downturn? Could it be that this downturn is therefore a harbinger of global collapse as modelled in the LTG?”,
            and I wasn’t able to find clear answers in the rest of the report.
            Despite rather good overview in the end of the paper (you say “weak”; OK, but it wasn’t the main purpose of the report, maybe we’re too demanding), it lefts me a little bit hungry for more.

            • You are right. He does bring up some other points later. We can’t expect a report that goes through “peer review” (and thus does not offend anyone very much) says things too strongly.

  3. “Fed: US consumers have decided to ‘hoard money'”

    So, saving and/or deliberate ungrowth is now dangerous hoarding.. from the viewpoint of system?
    Look at comments, the msm are clearly not able to contain the charade as effectively as before.

    • xabier says:


      Yes, all those peasants down the ages, shamelessly hoarding: the aristos were quite right to get their henchmen to torture it out of them in order to kick start the economy!

      I hope I am never caught doing anything so shameful as planning for the future rather than buy Mc Crap.

    • edpell says:

      WorldOf, I am concerned about those anti-Americans who buy big houses. If they were taking in one or two section 8 families then the government would have more money for the war. It is their duty to help the government.

    • antares71 says:

      As far as I am concerned, Michael Pento got it right. Since 2008 I have reduced by mortgage by 43% by saving money and not just wasting on nonsense. Lived a comfortable life anyway, ate well, drank good wine.
      Every extra payment I made in to my mortgage gave me extra cash at hand, cash that I saved for the next extra payment to get even more cash next time and so on into a vertical spiral.
      If the FED doesn’t get that it is preferable to clear debts then wasting money (and maybe accumulating more debt along the way) then they have a problem.

      • From the vintage point of a mere humanoid, the future is unknown and unknowable, many near term future scenarios are possible.

        What about financial reset in which most home mortages and consumer loans (cars, shopping) are made null and void from a certain date in order to ease the pain, i.e. avoid pitchforks and fires? In such a situation he who lived beyond his means, still keeps his “mansion” house full with stuff, expensive car. OK, he has no real job now (goes on rations and gov pretend work), no money, in winter time he can barely warm one tiny room, but he lived on the high hog for several decades and “enjoyed his material oppulence” life experience to the fullest extent.

        Compare contrast with uber frugal, daily doom news/blog watching, preping pm stacker. He performed the extra toil to pay all his debts earlier or never incured any to significant degree, never bought a new car or appliance, pyschologically lived in continuous social hermitage and overall depressing type of life. And now to conclude his efforts is being singled out as a hoarder and scum of the earth by the new narrative of less abundance and forced sharing. Obviously he is overtaxed or otherwise “legally” parted with his savings of any form.

        I know the above is on purpose taking the arguments to the extremes (human nature is more varied), but it illustrates the futility of future “guaranteed outcomes” within human experience.

        Sorry, to win the evolutionary game, there is only two options for the little people, get it lucky or climb mercilessly to the top of the social pyramid and making sure it’s stabilized enough to support your weight and your clan during your tenure on the way there.

        • antares71 says:

          Yes, I heard about this financial re-set and the “forget about debt so you paid it out for nothing”. But that is a possibility not a certainty.
          What is certain is that if I had gambled on the financial re-set I would still be stuck with a considerable mortgage today and be chained to the bank for longer. So the hope for the re-set is really good for banks.

          • Paul says:

            I cannot see how simply resetting the financial system would accomplish anything.

            There are many toxic side-effects —- let’s look at one – pensions.

            A reset means pensioners do not get paid — because a pension is a debt. So in the US you would end up with literally tens of millions of older people with 0 income.

            How would they eat?

            • We need the financial system to pull fossil fuels out of the ground. Without it, the fossil fuels stay in the ground. That is part of the rest that folks haven’t thought about. “Renewables” are especially bad in this regard. Energy sources that can be funded from the profits of existing operations are better in this regard. But those are disappearing for oil, with low oil prices.

            • edpell says:

              Paul, that should be “Who would they eat?”?

            • InAlaska says:

              They would eat just like they did in the world before pensions…by falling back into the arms of their loving families who will care for them as they should and as they have been cared for since time immemorial. Its only been in the last hundred years that old people retired with a pension and lived independently from their children. I look forward to the world with multigenerational families living together in a house. That is what builds resiliency.

            • kesar says:

              Hopefully you are right. The transition will be painful though. Western societies lost their family values in many cases.

            • Jarle B says:

              InAlaska wrote:
              ” I look forward to the world with multigenerational families living together in a house.”

              I grew up with two of my grandparents within walking distance. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and I think that was better childhood than it would have been without her…

            • InAlaska says:

              Imagine how many elderly people die alone and forgotten in “retirement communities.” Think how many of their “children” live with the guilt of abandoning their parents in order to pursue two careers and a retirement of their own somewhere else. Imagine all of the childhoods where the grandparents were absent, or half a continent away. Its sad. I think kesar you are right that we lost our family values, along with everything else that we outsourced to other entities: we lost our food values, or environmental values, our healthcare values, our educational values. A civilization that does not take care of its children and its elderly is scheduled for catastrophe.

        • John Doyle says:

          Interestingly enough I also contributed a similar Idea a few weeks ago. I suggested the best way to collapse, since it’s inevitable anyway, was a financial collapse. That way we May save some furniture [resources] for the future.
          So governments have to switch to all party [i.e., non party political] administrative ones which then declare a debt jubilee, wiping out all banks, their mortgages and savings and abilities to create currency. Each customer with a mortgage would keep their property unencumbered. Because of fractional reserve lending banks couldn’t repay more than a few cents in the dollar to depositors anyway. the administration [ “government” ]would take over all the food distribution and supply and use coupons to distribute it. Coupons are free but specific. People can still barter as well. But without food distribution, possibly just starvation rations depending on whether farming can survive, would still the pitchforks and may prevent chaos. Who knows? Plenty of wrinkles to iron out of course but we should PLAN for some solutions to help save something for the future! Lets find some ideas! Here’s one at least from 2 of us.

          • I think we are kidding ourselves when we talk about saving resources (other than soil, trees, and water) for the future. It takes a big, networked system, with lots of debt, to get fossil fuels out. The ones that are left, are likely to stay locked up forever.

            • John Doyle says:

              I don’t believe it will all fall over at once, but rather that it will gradually wind down as equipment succumbs to wearing out or breaking. Even then some machines, oil pumps,[donkeys], can be kept working for years. We all know now we are not going to run out of oil, but that as the technology is lost over time most of the oil, and minerals, will be unreachable. Oil supplies will be rationed so that the army, police and medical services can carry on. Food will be supported with what oil can be rationed for that industry. People will cannibalise parts from broken down machines to keep going. Obviously it’s all going to be very difficult and tragic as population has to drop. and famine and scarcity will take over. But it won’t be the same exactly everywhere however countries relying on imported food will be most affected and shipping goods around the world will be unavailable at anything like what we have today. All private use of oil will dry up as oil will be conserved for essential uses.
              There will be no debts to burden the population, the countries etc. No point in keeping debts which can never be repaid and which is already the case with sovereign debt. Our current society is entirely debt based now.The total USA debt is over a quadrillion dollars. It would just grow exponentially beyond all reason in a deflating economy. That’s about the only good news.

            • Ellen Anderson says:

              I wonder why you think that rationing will be done in a rational way? Why don’t you think that the kleptocracy will continue to steal and cheat the way they do now? Aren’t you assuming that our government will suddenly wake up and think about what the country needs to survive and make private property owners give them what they need? Oil is fungible. It is privately owned and its owners will sell to whoever and wherever there is money to be made. It also secures debt – much more debt than there is oil. So all of the people/banks/countries who have a claim to it will fight over – probably burning it up in the process! Only in that sense will they give it to the military.

            • John Doyle says:

              Sure, Ellen, It’s quite a likely outcome. However the kleptocracy will be as spooked as everyone else. I assume that the management of the downturn will have to be on a war footing. I can believe that giving the 1% what they need will guarantee pitchforks. Any administration not at least appearing to be even handed will just open the way to chaos. The 1% will find it prudent to go along and maybe later think about how they can profit. In any event the writing off of the banks will change everything for them also. Only cash reserves will be much use early on, but precious metals if traded will reduce in value along with the economy so they won’t be willingly used up.
              All such details need working on.

            • Paul says:

              John – I hate to throw cold water on this but when the SHTF every country will be a nett importer of food…(but obviously nobody will be in a position to export)

              Because there is not a country on the planet that I am aware of (perhaps Bhutan?) that is not wholly reliant on petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers to grow food.

              That means epic starvation. That means that nobody will be bothered trying to knock together spare parts to keep a machine running because the only thing that will matter will be food.

              When the oil stops the grocery stores empty — within days. And they will remain empty.

              How will we grow food in dead soil? And even if it were not dead – crops do not sprout overnight – they require months to grow. What do the billions eat while we try to grow crops in the dead soil?

              Sure there are some patches of soil that are not dead — that have not been farmed — but nowhere near enough to feed 7.2B people….

              Might I suggest these discussions of how we maintain remnants of BAU are completely irrelevant — the big issues will be starvation, lack of fresh water, disease, and more than likely incredible savagery — as 7.2 billion people fight over the scraps of ‘civilization’

            • John Doyle says:

              Cold water is fine, Paul. I’m only talking about a possible way out. I just don’t automatically think we are so hopeless we will just wait for the sky to fall in without attempting some ideas for mitigating the worst case scenario, which you seem to be resigned to? Can’t you see any ways forward? Are you certain we can do nothing to break our fall?
              I certainly admit it is a long shot, but not yet without hope. I’m not promoting hopium, but the ways the event evolves and is handled will be critical for how low we go.
              All the contra indications are very important but even the worst news may have side effects that are beneficial. For example the world’s fish stocks recovered during WW2.
              I’m not advocating BaU, but the remnants of it are familiar and we can work on answers we need by reference to BaU administration.
              Etc. etc.

            • Paul says:

              John – I appreciate where you are coming from … I am not the type of person to back down from adversity … I do not throw my arms up in despair — I look for solutions.

              But unfortunately this is one of the few times (the others being the deaths of people) I see no way out. I have spent many hundreds of hours researching and trying to understand what we are facing — and the implications….

              And the only action I think that makes any sense is to get remote — in a reasonable climate — and grow food — stockpile whatever you think you will need (tools, irrigation systems, food, medicine, bicycles – anything that might soften the blow).

              Because there is no way we can avoid a massive die-off — because there is no way to feed even a fraction of the people on the planet.

              Think about what happens when the super markets close for good — the industrial farms stop shipping food — at some point this is going to happen.

              The PTB are not going to lift a finger to help you a) because they don’t care about you b) because they will too busy taking care of #1 and c) because there is nothing they can do.

              I can imagine it is difficult to envision such a situation — because most people’s normalcy bias will not allow them to imagine this

              My normalcy bias is a little more abnormal …. I have seen utter suffering in places like post quake Haiti… some of the world’s worst slums …. I have been in the middle of riots in Cairo observing the desperation of young kids howling with anger and firing stones at authorities because they believed they were on the cusp of democracy (and a better life) only to find it stripped away by another dictator…

              Shit happens — but it always seems to happen to other people — and watching it on the news is not the same as being there. It changes your perspective — and it makes you realize — this can happen to you…

              But in all those instances the people were never left on their own — BAU always provided a certain level of minimal support — the aid agencies have always helped…

              But this time there will be no aid agencies… because BAU will end — I cannot see how people will feed themselves…. I see absolutely no way that can be done — and there will be no truck drops of food… this will be an Ethiopian level famine — but affecting virtually the entire world …

              I honestly cannot see any way out of that — and given the monumental efforts of the PTB to keep BAU going at any cost — I am quite certain that their think tanks have informed them of the likely outcome — and they too have concluded that a nightmare is imminent

              That is why anything goes when it comes to keeping the hamster running on the wheel

            • John Doyle says:

              Dear Paul, I admit what you write is a very likely scenario. I however believe that the defining moment will be massive but initially manageable. It will go to your extreme later, because no plans have been made to address it from the get go. We will certainly have a die off.
              All it takes is for the death rate to increase by 3 per 100 and in less than 100 years the population would be down to 1/10th of where it started.










            • I think this is a point that Dmitry Orlov makes about deaths in the Former Soviet Union. The overall death rate went up, but it wasn’t very apparent, unless a person looked at it in detail.

            • John Doyle says:

              Dear Paul, I admit what you write is a very likely scenario. I however believe that the defining moment will be massive but initially manageable. It will go to your extreme later, because no plans have been made to address it from the get go. We will certainly have a die off. We have to.
              All it takes is for the death rate to increase by 3 per 100 and in less than 100 years the population would be down to 1/10th of where it started. I can’t recall where I read that. This die off will be faster than that.
              It will also be better or worse in different locations with those countries nearest to being failed states, like Egypt, Yemen, the Phillippines, all war ridden states, any overpopulated and under resourced, with all the big cities getting worse first.
              Countries that can feed themselves. with a decent farming community like France may hang on longer IMO. Migration will not be a major issue as only walking will be available and starving people will be low on energy. Those closest to a subsistence level will be the most immune.

              Oil will not dry up for some time, but transporting it to countries without their own supplies will be a big deal. Armies and police will still be able to function there. Which will mandate a government of some sort. It certainly won’t be a democratic one, but without one only the worst kind of chaos will reign. It will commandeer food supplies and distribution, keeping enough trucks and ships to maintain some semblance of BaU.
              People will also form their own communities if they survive the onslaught. Anyone with resources will become fair game for the desperate. People will be left on their own once the breakdown becomes total, if it comes to that.
              Certainly we cannot say what will happen, but I agree it will likely be a nightmare.
              And it has to happen. It cannot be avoided. Just when is the big unknown.

            • Paul says:

              I think Gail has given a stellar explanation — on numerous occasions – of why oil will indeed stop being extracted.

              In a nutshell – oil is a high tech industry – it no longer bubbles to the surface — and a high tech industry needs a functioning BAU to provide the infrastructure required to extract oil. It also requires a fully functioning banking system — and it requires functioning debt and stock markets so that oil extractions continue to function. Of course it also needs paying consumers – people with jobs — and incomes.

              None of these will exist – therefore oil will not be extracted from the ground.

              As for ordering people to extract oil at gun point — that most definitely will not work. Ok – you can round up some oil rig workers and say — pump the oil or die… and they might say sure we can try — but it’s not like you pump it with a hand pump — you need machinery — electricity — etc… you will have none of that — you also need computers and other high tech gear to accomplish this…. that would mean you have to also put guns to the heads of everyone down the supply chain right to the mines and engineering schools ….

              Basically because everything is interconnected you would have to put a gun to every single person on the planet who in any remote way is connected to getting that oil out of the ground — people in Japan, Korea, Germany, China — and wherever the pieces come from that make pumping oil possible.

              As you can see this is a total impossibility — particularly when a lot of these people will be dead — and certainly none will be showing up at work gun or no gun — because they will be rather busy trying to find scraps of food to feed themselves and their families.

              I would suggest that what you are suggesting… is not possible.

            • John Doyle says:

              All true, Paul except these things take time. It’s not like we switch off the lights and instantly its dark, which is what you are implying. In that time, something can be done, assuming any plans have been made of course!

            • Paul says:

              if the central banks do not step in to back stop every financial institution on the planet in 2008 — the lights would have switched over within a few days of the realization that the cavalry was not coming.

              It works like this — if Bank A believes Bank B is insolvent – then Bank A will not extend credit to Bank B.

              So say Bank A is handling a letter of credit for a client who supplies key components to a client overseas who is using Bank B for his side of the transaction. If Bank A does not trust Bank B then the components do not get shipped.

              We were not talking about one or two banks in 2008 – we were talking about every bank — because they are all interconnected holding the debt of each other.

              So just like that — the manufacturers collapse because they cannot sell their products — and the recipients of the products go bust because they have nothing to sell.

              And it quickly spirals out of control.

              The central banks are in the process of firing every weapon they have at this situation — when the next shoe drops there will be no cavalry. It will unravel like a high tension wire snapped under too much weight.

              Just saying (or wanting) you don’t think it will unravel quickly is not good enough. I want this to go on for 30 more years … that does not mean it will.

              Again I will post this — it is the most comprehensive explanation of what happens when a key hub in the complex global economy breaks — please take some time to read it (p. 56 onwards has the punch line)


              I have a very difficult time arguing with the facts presented… so I am left with my conclusion that the collapse is fast.

  4. MJx says:

    Oil Prices Fall Sharply on Weak Demand Outlook, Stronger Dollar
    Nymex Oil Price Posts Largest One-Day Decline Since November 2012
    Oil prices dropped more than $3 a barrel Tuesday as disappointing Chinese and European economic data and a stronger dollar weighed on demand expectations.

    Oil prices have tumbled in recent weeks as weak demand from European and Asian refineries forced sellers to cut prices and global supplies remained ample despite violence in some regions. Recent data indicates that tepid demand could continue in the coming months.
    “You’ve got this double whammy coming through,” said Matt Smith, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric SA, an energy-consulting firm.

    “A stronger U.S. economy in comparison to these other regions is just driving the dollar,” he said. “That’s putting pressure on crude, as are these signals of faltering demand from both Europe and China.”
    Meanwhile, global supplies are plentiful. Libya’s National Oil Corp. said Monday that its production had climbed to 700,000 barrels a day, up from 150,000 barrels a day in late May.

  5. Ann says:

    “Despite modern man’s unparalleled ability to gather and synthesize mountains of data on climate change and other growing dangers, he is helpless to stop the inevitable and well-worn trajectory that all previous complex societies have followed. This time, however, is different in that the scale of environmental overshoot is planet-wide – the world’s oceans are becoming too acidic to sustain life, the soil too eroded and degraded to grow food, and the atmosphere too polluted with heat-trapping gasses. As the green mantle of the Earth is swallowed up in the geologic blink of an eye, eon-long processes of plant and animal evolution are stopped dead in their tracks. Of all the horrors modern civilization has brought forth, the most damaging and longest-lasting legacy is the wholesale loss of genetic and species diversity. Global ecocide is certain suicide.”


    I have given up talking about this to anyone, because they just roll their eyes. Nothing will change until it’s too late, and after some insanely inappropriate technological slap shots damage the ecosystem even further, the blessed silence will return. Since I’m old, I can only hope they kill me first.

    • You are quoting from Guy Macpherson’s web site. I think he is overstating the situation. The world’s systems do in fact, have quite a bit of resilience built in. Even if it turns out that the earth eventually kicks humans off, I don’t think that things are as bad as Guy say. There was much bigger loss of species in previous Mass Extinctions, and the earth recovered. Guy also says that collapse is what will save things from being as bad as what he says. Since I am talking about collapse, perhaps my view could be considered “Good News.”

      • InAlaska says:

        I agree with you. Previous mass extinctions killed off something like 99% of all life in the oceans and nearly as much in terrestrial ecosystems. The earth will abide, even with radioactivity higher than normal, and life will continue to evolve. The caveat being that we don’t go all the way to a Venus effect.

      • Ann says:

        No, not Guy McPherson. It’s from X-Ray Mike’s site, Collapse of Industrial Civilization. Here’s a great quote from a commenter “James” on Mike’s latest post “The Global Reality Freak Show”:


        “I am beginning to appreciate the view that the ecosystem and the very temporary industrial civilization are nothing more than vast self-assembled Rube Goldberg devices. Overly complex organizations that, in the end, do nothing more than ride the thermals within the entropic flow. A thin veneer of unnecessary complexity, self-assembled and put in motion by the flow of high grade energy to be released as low grade energy into space. The radiation of heat to space could be accomplished without any of the complexity, but there it is, cranking along today in all of its meaningful self-importance when, IMO, it is nothing but an unnoticed sideshow inside a small drop of water on the banks of a massive flowing entropic river. We assume that our “intelligence” is the crowning achievement of the universe when, in all honesty, the complexity that underlies it is simply an inconsequential side-effect happening in tandem with, but not necessary to the primary mandate of the universe. And now, as in the game Mouse Trap in which overly complex paths and assemblages are created to move a marble from point A to point B, some integral parts of the path are going to be lost and the marble will no longer find its terminus, but perhaps the players will re-create the game with a shorter and simpler paths, until finally there are no paths at all. Perhaps the game is over and the solar marble will simply bounce off our soon-to-be Venusian atmosphere or penetrate the thick veil and be reflected back out. In any case, when things become simpler it will be wise to not have too many superfluous steps between yourself and food and water.

        The first Rube Goldberg device, the ecosystem, was long evolved and very complex and the marbles are sourced from the sun. It’s a competitive game to see who can obtain the most marbles and send them down the chutes and diversions, and if the behavior of the infrastructure so assembled does not result in obtaining more marbles, it fails and goes extinct. The second technological device, enabled by a mutant monkey, has grown suddenly and is insensitive to existing ecosystem relationships. Its marbles come from fossil fuels and this is a competitive game too to see who can arrange their chutes and diversions in the best manner to snare the most marbles. The marble paths in the ecosystem are being destroyed and eaten by the technological system which is empowered to do so by a one time fossil fuel burn-off. Even though the ape is made of cells and is thoroughly organic, it believes that its new technological marble paths will serve its needs better than the old organic ones, the ones that gave it a habitable environment and food to eat. The technological Rube Goldberg machine will collapse once it runs out of fossil fuel or damages the ecosystem so severely that no amount of energy or innovation in building technology can keep the game going.

        And so one must humbly conclude that both life and it’s malignant offshoot, technological civilization, have very little importance even in the overall entropic theme of the universe. So sit back and watch the humans scuttle around building their chutes and course ways, trying desperately to capture more energy/money, blinded by passions to their suicidal course, and know, that within the larger framework, humans just don’t matter. The myth of progress culminating in intergalactic metastasis (following in the “alien’s” footsteps) is nothing but rubbish meant to serve the financial goals of those promoting it. Our only progress is towards total exhaustion of resources and consequent collapse and our final technological marvel of progress is a planetary gas chamber, life’s snuffing machine running full on today and every day until it’s over.”

        Now THAT is a magnificent insight.

        • B9K9 says:

          Yes, James is another one with terrific insight. I think I’ve seen him post here – not sure.

          Anyway, there are few who can really see the big, macro picture and express it so logically & eloquently as James.

          • Ann says:

            I think so, too, B9K9. I see you posting on other sites, as well, and I admire your writing abilities. I almost always agree with your macro view. I see you a lot on Ian Welsh, for example.

        • Paul says:


          And we look no further than the finance community for further symptoms of what should be a simple system — take money in – pay interest – loan it out at interest — and the difference is your profit…. yet in recent decades has become massively complex — to what purpose?

          To generate more commissions for the masters of the universe of course – and so that the masters of the universe can say ‘look how smart we are’

          Not so smart it seems http://fortune.com/2014/02/05/buffett-widens-lead-in-1-million-hedge-fund-bet/

          It is amazing how the cult of BAU has captured us — our egos are tied to a system that is based on a fallacy — infinite growth in a finite world — and most of us are incapable of grasping the logic of that … a logic that is no more complicated than 1+1=2.


        • xabier says:

          A very fine piece of prose by ‘James’: but one should, perhaps, be inclined to have a certain reservation towards those who talk about fellow humans in such an affectedly disdainful and superior fashion. It is not a very sympathetic trait, and there is really far too much of this elaborately wordy jeering from the sidelines in the face of this great extinction. It smacks of……bad taste.

          • James says:

            I’m no longer interested in “good taste” or appearances and I am disdainful of the malignant presence we approvingly label “humanity.” Is this Rube Goldberg suicide machine “humane” in any way? Maybe I should, somehow, keep up appearances so that the “little people” can continue to find good taste as they savor their implanted dogmas and delusions. The elephant is in the room, and not only must you look at it, we’re going to dissect it so you can see the necrotic tumors growing within. And once this deathbed revelation is complete may all of “humanity” experience the hell on earth to which they readily consign themselves and future generations. The intentional misleading of the masses by the patrician class (most of which are clueless) to protect the proletariat’s emotional well-being is only a self-serving subterfuge aimed at maintaining order and subservience.

            And, in addition, thanks for the great blog Gail, I enjoy reading both your essays and the comments.

            • Ann says:

              James! Thanks for adding to this discussion. I agree with what you’ve written here and at Mike’s site. Humans invent concepts like “bad taste” and “ethics” and “god” and believe they are real entities, when they are only fleeting artifacts of limited conciousness. We are simply rearranging individual grains of sand in the pocket lint of a poisoned planet.

            • Paul says:

              “I’m no longer interested in “good taste” or appearances and I am disdainful of the malignant presence we approvingly label “humanity.” Is this Rube Goldberg suicide machine “humane” in any way?”

              – having or showing compassion or benevolence.
              – (of a branch of learning) intended to have a civilizing or refining effect on people.

              Where does this word come from? It is an artificial construct — a bad joke? I am unaware of any point where as a species we have displayed such characteristics.

              We have enslaved, engaged in genocide, pillaged, murdered, raped (both other humans and the planet)

              In fact ‘civilization’ is based on THESE principals — not on any sort of humanity.

              Rome was based on a zero sum game — conquer others and siphon their resources — enslave them ….

              Western civilization, once oil was discovered, had no need for slaves since oil did the work… so in this zero sum game we looted the world of fossil fuels… living large — and throwing a few coins into the charity basket at the grocery store on the way out to assuage any feelings of guilt we might harbour because of our ‘good fortune’ (as in isn’t it great to be on the winning side and it sucks to be you)

              As you say — it is our patrician overlords who have conjured up this adjective ‘humane’ — of course organized religion has been the main vehicle to deliver this utter bullshit with the masses coming every Sunday or Saturday or Friday — or whatever — to carry out acts of penance in order to be forgiven for acting like wicked demons all week — oh what a brilliant PR scam that is.

              To hell with the good taste – let’s take the gloves off and call this what it is — I have stated many times before that we are absolutely NOT a force for anything positive on this planet — I can think of nothing where our presence has benefited the planet

              The sooner we are exterminated the better.

          • Lizzy says:

            Good for you, Xabier, mi amigo.

            • InAlaska says:

              Yes. One must always speak up for Compassion, Patience, Understanding, Love. No one currently living in this world made the system that we all live in now. We inherited the system, corrupt and bankrupt, from those who came before us, as they inherited it from those who came before them. If we can’t find a way out of the trap we were born into does not make us evil or guilty, particularly if many of us don’t even realize that we are caught in a trap in the first place. The Hindus and the Buddhists figured this out thousands of years ago. Desire causes suffering. Life is suffering. To alleviate suffering one must show compassion. Your fate is your karma.

    • theedrich says:

      Ann, your overview is right on target.  Due to the overwhelming taboos of our time, very few of us have the courage to step back and see things from the larger evolutionary picture of geologic and astronomic time.  From the beginning of the universe (“Big Bang”) 13.8 billion years ago until the formation of the earth 4.65 billion years ago, there was not even a possibility of earthly life.  The earliest living forms identifiable as such appeared around 3.7 billion years ago, in the Palæoarchæan not long after the earth cooled, it seems.  For the next almost three billion years, only single-celled forms such as Archæa, bacteria, and eukaryotes dominated the earthly scene.  Shortly before the end of the Precambrian around 543 million years ago, some multi-celled organisms developed, then seem to have mostly gone extinct.  They were succeeded by the “Cambrian explosion,” in which the multi-celled ancestors of all the modern phyla somehow appeared, unpreceded by any Darwinian-posited ancestors.  (See Stephen C. Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt and Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of formative causation on possible explanations for this.  Both of these scientists, of course, are viciously hated by the materialists.)

      Fast forward somewhat more than another half-billion years.  The killer ape, homo sapiens, emerges from Africa and outcompetes or kills off the other hominin forms and takes over the planet as the crown of the food chain.  After fifty thousand years or so, he blooms to a population of over seven billion and begins polluting, poisoning and exhausting at unprecedented rates.  His development of consciousness (mythically described in the Genesis story of man’s protoparents and misinterpreted by Christianity as a sinful “fall” from animal bliss) enables him, in the last ten thousand years, to fashion ecocidal systems we call civilizations (city-systems).

      The Western intelligentsia clearly sees where this train is taking us, but is trapped by its Judeo-Christianity-derived commitments to ensure a chicken in every pot for all sentient beings, especially those belonging to its own class.  The solution is to lie and proclaim that there are no limits to growth, that trees can grow into the sky.  To ensure belief in this dogma, the U.S. government has now affirmed that a casus belli can be any attempt, not merely to invade the country militarily, but, inter alia, to destroy its economic domination, to attack its satellite networks, to impair world oil trade, or to prevent U.S.-engendered popular revolutions.  This expansion of reasons for genocide reveals just how precarious our existence is becoming.

      At the same time, Vlad, the poker-faced gremlin in the Kremlin, is making not-so-subtle noises about improving (hence wielding) his nuclear force de frappe.  And while our golfmaster POTUS is keeping his promise to him to be “flexible” on re-Sovietization, we have no idea what may happen once his majesty is dethroned.  Because the latter half of this decade is going to see the true arrival of Peak Oil and the failure by exhaustion of ongoing monetary trickery by the government.  Above all, the fierce momentum of ThirdWorld population growth and its consequences is driving our species into a Tainteresque abyss.  Yes, the earth will continue to exist, in the sense that gravity will maintain it in its orbit.  But it is questionable whether higher life forms will persevere in anything like their current lifestyles.  This is the last hurrah for intelligence on our planet after billions of years of struggle.

      • Paul says:

        A truly magnificent post.

        • MJx says:

          What a shame for the possibility of higher life forms being persevered.
          John Shuttleworth, founder of Mother Earth News and deceased now, once in an interview reflected that is the “real” wealth of the Earth, diverse life forms we humans are eager to wipe out for some symbol that we hold of “value”.

      • xabier says:

        Most amusing! A just perspective: we will have been not so much as a fire-fly in the immense and ageless darkness.

      • B9K9 says:

        “the U.S. government has now affirmed that a casus belli”

        I second Paul’s comment – magnificente!

        I would only quibble with the implication that current US policy is somehow different from prior periods. From the very first colonial charters, the intent has always been exploitation; any interference was seen as legitimate casus belli.

        Fast forward to today, and while all eyes seem to be on Russia, the real game is still right here in good old N America. And why is that? Because war time measures don’t only effect foreign policy – they galvanize top-down order in the home front as well.

        Imagine for a moment that the action in Ukraine has nothing to do with Russia’s resources per se, but everything to do with fast tracking domestic development & production. Starting to get the picture? Who cares if states, like Calif, have fracking/off shore drilling prohibitions when they can be overturned by federal decree? Starting to get the picture?

        Just wait as the depletion rates begin to really register, and all manner of wild, environmentally damaging projects are approved left and right. Up next, of course, is then widespread rape & pillage in CA & MX, and so on. Russia might or might not be the ultimate goal, but either way, it’s the perfect device to justify even more draconian domestic policies.

        Seeing how this plays out, I put this question to you: do you want to be part of the problem: opposing development, always complaining, etc, or part of the solution: jumping on the bandwagon, championing BAU, becoming a super-patriot – really a caricature.

        I’m of course poking fun at Paul, but seriously, what’s the point of laying down in front of a train?

  6. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Here is a link to George Mobus’s current article on the need for sapience in homo sapiens:

    I suggest in a comment that our society COULD choose to increase sapience practice with teaching at the high school level. My suggestion involves requiring the students to design, construct, and maintain a complex adaptive system using biological tools. George adds his comment, which is approving.

    Don Stewart

    • MG says:

      Dear Don Stewart,

      yes, the current education system is corrupt, because it is based on growth and progress. It should be concentrated on how to live in the world with less and less energy and the depleting resources and teach more about biological systems.

      • xabier says:


        One can only agree. Education systems = the provision of salaries, holidays and pensions to the ‘educators’. There is no further aim than that. Except perhaps state-industrial indoctrination

        • Don Stewart says:

          Dear MG and Xabier
          My recommendation to George Mobus about using biological systems to teach about complex adaptive systems was based on several goals:
          1. Teaching about complex adaptive systems of all kinds by picking one where the tools are simple, the results are pretty straightforward, and the processes are adaptable to small group efforts The lessons we might learn from a community of microbes, plants, insects, and small animals is just as applicable to human societies, business organizations, how non-profits function, industrial mechanisms, and climate change.
          2. A friend of mine tells me that ‘I used to teach science, but people have lost their curiosity’. I don’t think Sunday sermons about the benefits of curiosity will do any more good than sermons about the sinfulness of sex. The best thing I can think of is a real life immersion in a challenging project where there is no ‘right’ answer…just good and not so good outcomes.
          3. I do believe that understanding biology is likely to be a key survival skills going forward. We will have to manage biological systems for maximum performance…not overpower them with fossil fuels.

          So…it’s not just about biology, but biology is cheap and easy to study and has a multitude of practical implications and broad principles.

          Don Stewart

      • Christian says:

        Perhaps all this is due to the fact that Academy has gone far away in diminishing returns, further than what was found by Nicholas Rescher some decades ago (btw he got several Honoris Causa, Academy formally prized him but not really listened to him). And while all of us participating here are educated people -formally or not-, it seems just a few or none are hired by a university; this is not a coincidence. Almost only physicists are working on LTG while receiving a university salary -because this is the most basic and truly scientific discipline- while they are not paid for this particular task.

        I had many discussions over oil limits and LTG with a friend, a lawyer that modelized the criminal justice system some 10 or 20 years ago. He was very hard to convince on every step of the reasoning, but at some point he told me “I know about the Club of Rome since my modeling work”. So many efforts to convince him but he was in the knowledge since so much time before! At that point I was willing to hit him in the face… Limits are hard to accept, I wonder what would had happened in case Meadows et al. included finances in their model. And why they didn’t. To the first question, it’s likely that standard run would have shown a very steep cliff as the one we are expecting now. To the second, I have no answer excepting that upon such a cliff ahead the only coherent behavior would have been to close MIT and dismiss all technological advancement. Forrester should have burned his creation as a monster. But it’s all baked in the cake since the Big Bang, it seems.

    • Christian says:

      There is some confrontation right now at Córdoba University regarding a venture between the Ag. faculty and Monsanto (not sure, I think the corp is sponsoring a new carreer). Most of the U staff and students, including U’s chairman, are against. However, there is so few time left until TSHF that this is not relevant, and most ag people are not likely to change their minds (I know one of them who is affraid of resources constraints and understand the future is likley to be as Soilent Green but still prefer hi tech agriculture).

      I’ve also talked to a retired ag professional who is participating in a network called Back to the Earth and he was very friendly. I’ve just presented myself as a neighbour who understands the importance of permaculture but at some point he stopped replying to my messages. I suppose he googled my name, found my work on entropy and realised things are far worst than what he used to believe. When people get the full picture they just go paralysed.

      • xabier says:


        Monsanto have their fingers in this Ukraine business too, it seems. Everywhere the tentacles…..

  7. theedrich says:

    It has often been said or implied by various wishdreamers that if Western (i.e., White) civilization goes down the tube, other portions of mankind will grab the baton and continue the rise to supernal heights on a cleansed, pristine and high-tech planet with “social” justice for all.  The current best contenders for such successors are China and India.  The cultures and civilizations of their peoples, however, do not inspire one with great confidence.  It is indeed true that the U.S. alone uses 25% or so of world oil.  But that percentage may soon decline precipitously as the East strives to move up the food chain.

    It should also not be forgotten that (despite the official myth written, as usual, by the victors) the Second World War was essentially over resources — oil in particular.  Germany and Japan were desperate for it.  The utterly unjust Versailles Treaty, blaming everything on Germany, was designed to create another war, as some even said at the time.  Subsequently, FDR ensnared Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor so we could get into WW II and enjoy the spoils.  Towards the end of it he had his famous powwow with King Saud and established the American foothold in Araby.  Now that our system is in terminal decline and even postage-stamp-sized North Korea has nukes, we may find that, as we are replaced by other cultural systems, the earth is not going back to the garden of Eden.  And inviting the poor of the rest of the world to share U.S. real estate is not going to produce the glorious “diversity” playpen that so many anticipate.

    • I would describe the issue as the temporary dominance of the Northern cold countries–the ones that had to turn to coal, because they were depleting their trees too badly. It happens to turn out that evolution made the folks in the Northern cold countries white.

      If the ability to continue falls to anyone else, it likely will fall back to the cultures that were dominant in the past, prior to the rise of the cold countries. These will be the warm countries. The people in these countries tend to have darker skins. But with the international nature of supply chains, I expect that the rise of the warm countries again will be difficult. They will need to have fossil fuels from countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia–countries that need a lot of fuels themselves to mitigate their harsh climates.

      • InAlaska says:

        I find this whole discussion of northern countries and “white” people to be pretty random and inaccurate. The Roman Empire was the product of what we generally consider “white” or caucasian. The Chinese civilizations that flourished in the south and parts of the north, were not black. I am not sure this theory either northern country dominance due to coal or black folk dominance prior to coal would hold much water if tested.

        • xabier says:

          Benign climate without killing and prolonged extremes of heat and cold, in a resource-rich region with easy – usually water-based – communications makes the perfect incubator for higher civilisation (which then usually proceeds to destroy itself, on a cyclical pattern of growth, crash, regrowth). The longer the growing season the better, too.

          • Yes. it’s correct. I can’t phantom what is hard to understand there about this determinism.
            There is a reason people din’t venture en masse into cold northern forrests before mastering fire, warm-fur clothes and especially metal tools to fetch wood. Similarly the first “great” civilizations poped up around Club Med/Middle East, specifically because at that time climate was favorable in winter/summer cycle, there was wood and water streams on the hills (now barren moutains of rocks), sea shore oppulent with aquatic wildlife, also abundant copper, iron, and pm mines were basically ground level operations etc.

        • I suppose I am thinking more of Indians, Middle Easterners, and Chinese. These folks are only slightly non-white in color, if that. The point is that favorable geography determines a lot. It is not really skin color.

          • sheilach2 says:

            Don’t for get the dark brown Egyptians & black Nubian’s, they had the worlds earliest civilizations. As Rome ruled the Mediterranean, white, hairy savages ruled NW Europe. Horses, wheat, sheep & cattle came from the fertile crescent domesticated by brown people.
            In a hothouse world, white people will be at an disadvantage with fewer sweat glands, pale eyes & melanin deficient skin that makes then more susceptible to cancer.
            White people living in a gloomy, weak sunned climate, evolved a skin lacking adequate melanin to absorbs more light to synthesize vitamin D better, a dark skinned person in such a low light environment would suffer from rickets.

            Skin color is only a reflection of the intensity of light that the person evolved in, it in no way has any affect on intelligence.

  8. sheilach2 says:

    Yes indeed things are looking very hopeless indeed! I too know of people who still believe there is plenty of room for more people “just look at all that “empty” land!” Sigh.

    In any case, do we need any more ways to collapse? Energy decline, economic collapse, overpopulation, resource decline, droughts, worsening pollution, antibiotic proof germs, dying oceans & now a runaway greenhouse too! I heard on the MSM that a climate scientist said that we have passed the tipping point & looks like the runaway greenhouse has started.

    Methane is gushing from the eastern Russian arctic, bubbling up off the W. Atlantic ocean & the W. Arctic, it’s blown out at least 3 craters in Siberia & as the tundra thaws, more methane is escaping from there & who knows how many more places around the northern half of earth

    So what will do us in first? Economic collapse? Energy shortages = food shortages, people cooking/freezing? Temperatures higher than we have ever endured, long droughts, violent storms, wide spread flooding, savage cold, blizzards, ice storms.

    Don’t forget the migrants!

    How will we cope with the rising numbers of migrants fleeing from environmental/economic disasters? I expect more wars, vigilantes on the borders & lot’s of dead bodies.

    So much for our dreams of going to the stars, terraforming Mars, a flying car for all etc.

    Mother nature is going to have the last turn at bat, and she is looking very angry.

    • Theoretically this planet can easily feed low dozens of billion people (and keep wildlife too) while using “permaculture methods”, the abundance potential is clearly there, however that’s possible only on very different ground plan, without steep vertical “bizniss/capital” integration, without warfare and omnipresent boot of gov coersion, no mega cities etc. The humans in aggregate always took another avenue so far, it’s doubtfull we can return/switch to the right track now.

    • Paul says:


    • Daniel says:

      We are all going to die! We are all going to die!!! sniffle sniffle….get over yourself you big windbag! Nobody wants to hear your racist rants….!!!

      • sheilach2 says:

        What “racist rants”? ‘Migrants’ could be anyone, even you! If you live in L.A. or Los Vagas, you will have to move, migrate to someplace else. Of course we are all going to die, no one leaves here alive but too many will be going too soon.
        And we aren’t going to feed a low dozen of billions of humans with permaculture, we’ve ruined too much land to do that now, about 1 billion is more like it if we can survive the runaway greenhouse.
        Of course we should be doing everything possible to mitigate the damage & to grow our food in a sustainable way, we will have no choice.
        As for this “big windbang”, I intend to enjoy as much as possible the time that’s left, is there any other choice?
        We never know when the next day is our last, you could get hit in the head by a meteorite.

        • VPK says:

          Sheilach, thank you for your posts and I agree with your writings. Too bad “Daniel” was not raised to be a mature, respectful adult and needs to “act out” to bolster his own deflated self worth. Went the SHTF he’ll probably we the loudest whining.

        • Paul says:

          Well said!

  9. Paul says:

    Cash-strapped Chinese developers are borrowing a record amount in the offshore loan market this year, adding to the highest debt loads since 2005.

    Homebuilders in the world’s second-largest economy got $5.9 billion from foreign banks, up 39 percent from the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Builder debt has soared to 128 percent of equity, the highest since 2005, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of 84 companies. New home prices fell in July in almost all cities the government tracks and developers are missing sales targets.


    • And how does this end?

      • Rodster says:

        Badly, very badly !

      • Paul says:

        If the herd moves big time as they see prices falling I can’t see how the PBOC can do much…

        Lots of parallels with the US housing bubble — the market actually started to stall well before the actual crisis — but it did not crash — but when the dam finally broke it was a bloodbath…

        There was nothing that anyone could do….

        When this blows there will be mayhem in China — punters who are sitting on negative equity will be looking for someone to blame – they should look in the mirror however they won’t — they will likely take to the streets violently…

  10. Paul says:

    What’s a property developer to do these days? The market is low, prices are falling, and the great Chinese passion for home ownership has ground into reverse.

    In the case of the closely held Evergrande Group, the answer lies in another great Chinese passion: food. Last week, Evergrande said it’s spending 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to take a crack at China’s cooking oil and grain markets.

    Evergrande’s new push will focus on a range of organically-grown soy oil, canola oil and rice. With such an emphasis, the group appears intent on directly challenging state-owned Cofco Corp. for turf in a marketing battle catering to China’s burgeoning interest in food safety. Evergrande said it would set up at least three units to process and produce grains, dairy and livestock.


    • John Doyle says:

      That’s bad news for the Chinese people. Corporations taking over their food industry will subject them to the same woes afflicting westerners, metabolic syndrome, obesity, illnesses they traditionally didn’t often get. Unhealthy products will drive out the good traditional foodstuffs. They will promote corn oil, corn syrup, lo fat meals, all products of western food industries, all with poor health outcomes.
      I was hoping the PTB in China would be awake to it, but no, they accepted the blandishments of industrial foods and now we see headlines saying 115million Chinese have diabetes today.

    • In theory, substituting oil energy for human energy in agriculture can improve productivity. The catch is that we are reaching the end of the line on oil.

  11. According to tonights local TV news, one half million commercial pilots will be needed during the next 20 years. A new program at SBB hopes to help meet this demand http://www.sbbcollege.edu/programs/aviation-school/associate-of-science-in-aviation/aircraft-equipment/

  12. Paul says:

    What It’s All About: Russia, China Begin Construction Of World’s Largest Gas Pipeline

    If after months of Eurasian axis formation, one still hasn’t realized why in the grand game over Ukraine supremacy – not to mention superpower geopolitics – Europe, and the West, has zero leverage, while Russia has all the trump cards, then today’s latest development in Chinese-Russian cooperation should make it abundantly clear. Overnight, following a grand ceremony in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, Russia and China officially began the construction of a new gas pipeline linking the countries. The bottom line to Russia – nearly half a trillion after China’s CNPC agreed to buy $400bn in gas from Russia’s Gazprom back in May. In return, Russia will ship 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually over a period of 30 years. The 3,968 km pipeline linking gas fields in eastern Siberia to China will be the world’s largest fuel network in the world.


    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Once the pipeline is complete, will the gas going to China reduce NG going to the EU I wonder.

      • Paul says:

        Or perhaps Russia says — we have a big buyer for our gas — we don’t really need the EU any longer… but…. we can sell to you if…

        Of course that is what the US fears — Russia bringing the EU into their sphere…

        The dots are connecting

    • VPK says:

      Paul, looks like these countries expect BAU to continue for some time to come.
      Had fun with a single 40 year old guy at work and explained our situation. Seems to “get it”, but came back with “the benefits of technology”. I came back that technology is only a transformer of energy and the benefits has been a surge in human population that will crash when the system can not support the cost of extraction.
      No matter, he changed the subject to Rod Sterling’s “Twilight Zone” and aliens.
      Yes, has another 60 year old at work just fathered another BABY! Second time around with a younger wife. Why not, we can have several families, the world has plenty of space.
      I can write without hesitation, it is hopeless.

      • xabier says:


        Hopelessness is the first condition for hope!

        But I’m beginning to think that like St Augustine contemplating the collapse of Rome, that hope has to be focussed on another and higher plane…..

    • The question becomes–can some pieces of the world economy continue, even as others fail? Can a Russia–China link lead to a situation where they can continue, even as the US and Europe and increasingly cut off from exports?

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        We could think of an electrical system with increasingly bad circuitry as analogous to the effects of diminishing returns, with these side deals being made as attempts to re-route the circuitry. Unfortunately there is no escape from the inevitable due to global economic interconnections. It’s just one big circuit board now.

      • MJx says:

        By their actions it is obvious they are planning or this event. I read many years ago China expects the united States NOT to be a world power in the upcoming decades

        • John Doyle says:

          There won’t be any “world powers” in coming decades.
          It’ll be avery ‘man’ for himself

    • Live TV feed from RT, and chinese channels made a big hoopla around it, they erected giant stage in that wilderness like on a rock concert, both presidents/vice- signed the gas tubes and helmets of the “hero welders”. The little addendum not often mentioned is that by the latter stages of the project around 2020 it will be possible to connect Europe to this new gas eastern network as well. So to recapitulate, China is helping to fund an unprecedented fossil energy gigaproject in which Russia will have the option to send the particular %exports both to East/West importers.

  13. Rodster says:

    Once again the Finite World speaks to the masses:

    California water infrastructure on verge of historic collapse

    “Writing for The Washington Post (WP), journalist Joby Warrick draws attention to what many scientists say is an unprecedented collapse of California’s vast water infrastructure, which is marked by an elaborate system of canals, reservoirs and wells that transfer water from the mountains and other areas to the Central Valley. Altogether, the state contains some 27 million acres of cropland. This system is now failing, say experts, and the consequences will more than likely be unparalleled in California’s history.”

    • Thanks. This is a link to the Washington Post article on the California Drought.

      • Paul says:

        Thanks for the article — looks like technology isn’t going to save the day…

        If this continues into next year this could be a black swan — if that much food is choked off by drought prices will go through the roof…

        California — one of the biggest economies in the world — would bust up…

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      We are now beginning September, which sometimes gets rainfall to start the rainy season. In CA we definitely need the rain to begin early and rage down right through March 2015. If this year is a bust then things will get very dire in many areas.

      Last year just north of SF, we got no rain in Sept. or Oct., one storm in Nov. and one in Dec., but finally it got going in Jan-Mar. and we avoided catastrophe but many trees are still dying. We need El Nino to come through!

  14. VPK says:

    Interesting WSJ article on oil demand from India and China.
    Seems China is bent on stockpiling oil and India organic growth.
    n absolute terms China is Asia’s largest oil consumer, having burned 10.76 million barrels a day of oil and accounting for 12.1% of global oil consumption in 2013, according to BP PLC.BP.LN +0.22% The second-largest oil consumer in Asia is Japan, though its oil consumption has been declining as its economy has matured.

    India ranks third at 3.7 million barrels a day and accounted for about 4.2% of global oil consumption in 2013.

    India’s oil demand has shown steady growth through July at an average of 3%, or 101,000 barrels a day. China’s oil demand has declined at an average of 0.6%, or 62,000 barrel a day, in the same period, Barclays BARC.LN -0.16% PLC analyst Miswin Mahesh said.

    Indian oil demand growth has “organic, domestic, economic activity-linked factors still driving it,” he said. Mr. Mahesh expects the south Asian country’s oil demand to accelerate to 210,000 barrels a day next year, spurred by healthy construction activity, government-financed industrial projects and strong growth in car purchases.

    • edpell says:

      “The second-largest oil consumer in Asia is Japan, though its oil consumption has been declining as its economy has matured.” What a nice way to say stalled, failing, aging, expensive, and uncompetitive???

      • The writer is at least catching on that economies do not grow indefinitely.

      • xabier says:


        Like the use of pleasing and sunny terms like ‘healthy’ to describe increases in destructive processes – increased construction, increases in polluting activities like car owneship, , growth of unviable debt…..

    • Thanks! China’s demand has been driven by debt. Now that its growth is failing, its demand is not growing as fast (or perhaps falling).

      The reasons India’s demand is growing sound to me like very temporary things, not really geared toward growth. The article says, “India’s diesel demand rose sharply in the last few months because of power shortages and delayed monsoon rains.” Substituting diesel for other fuel (usually coal) because of power shortages will lead to very high cost power. One of India’s problems is not enough coal and gas for electricity. Substituting oil is not much of solution. It will just run up the country’s debt. Using diesel because of delayed monsoon rains, means that the country is needing to use diesel irrigation to prevent crop loss, because of delayed (and thus probably inadequate in total) monsoon rains. This is another way to run up debt. If the rain had been on time, and in adequate quantity, there would not have been a need for the diesel.

      I think it is likely that India’s growing oil use is being supported by rising debt, and is not sustainable. But I am not sure I know where to find figures to back up that hunch.

  15. MG says:

    Based on my observations of the Slovak population, I come to the conclusion that there is an increasing percentage of the people with lower height and thinner body. It can be clearly seen on the image of the new political party Siet.

    The leaders of the rising, new political party Siet (in English “The Network”):


    The image of the current ruling party Smer is quite different.

    The leaders of the existing, stagnating party Smer (in English “The Direction”):


    This fact again confirms the “japanization” theory regarding the population decline: when there is less resources in the area, the body size goes down.

    Here is an interesting paper on body size in hunter-gatherer societies that brings into correlation resource scarcity and body size:


    The modelling of the population dynamics based just on the number of individuals is not adequate. Certain area can have a higher population, but consisting of the people with smaller bodies. This means that the human population of the Earth can continue rising, but the resource limits can cause the decrease in body size before the actual population peak is reached.

    • edpell says:

      MG, to me it looks like the difference between the slav party and the northwest Europe party. I wonder if there is an IQ difference between these two types?

      • MG says:

        Dear edpell,

        yes, I can agree with you. The “Slav party” has just lost the presidential elections, where the man with the physiognomy closer to the “Norhwest Europe party” won. This is the famous picture from the presidential campaign:


        Explanation: the new president on the left, the leader of the “Slav party”, who took part of the presidential electons and lost them, on the right

        The new president got richt on providing consumer loans and has a university degree in microelectronics.

        There must be a difference in IQ: the “Slav party” adresses workers, the “Norhwest Europe party” adresses people with higher education.

        The image of the “Slav party” is the image of the past, of the communists (it proclaims itself to be leftist, but in fact there is no left party in Slovakia due to the contraction of the social state and the needed optimalization measures that are being taken in order live within the means that are at the disposal). The image of the “Norhwest Europe party” is closer to the reality of energy decline. (I am not a fan of neither of them, I am just trying to put combine their images with the available resources/energy trends.)

        Anyway, there is this overall shift in body size which catches my attention: there are more and more people who are thin or of lower body height, which, in my opinion, gives better chances to the “Norhwest Europe party” in the next parliamentary elections. The society gets japanized.

    • edpell says:

      MG, I do agree with you that there is much long term planning on the part of parties that remain hidden. US involvement in WWII, Japanese involvement in WWII, prolonging the European part of WWII long after Germany was willing to stop were all planned. Endless evil on the part of the CIA and Mossad. The slow genocide of the Palestinians. The faster genocide of the Iraqis, depleted uranium the curse that never ends. The Chinese buying farm land across the planet. The rich oil states buying farm land across the planet. The federal reserve bank of 1913. The murder of Gaddafi to stop a free bank in Africa. The war against Russia as a pat of a free banking system. etc….

      Whether the fall of the US is planned or just greed is not clear to me.

    • I’m not expert on the CEE region, but isn’t more of a generational shift?
      In any case Slovaks used to be traditionally perceived as muscular/stocky, something like the Scots of the Austro-Hungarian empire for lack of better comparison. And as people moved from the toil in the fields and mountains into flats and in front of PCs or CNC machines, it’s just getting apparent after few generations. Look at the obesity in the US, compare contrast with 1930-1940s pictures, the transformation is just breathtaking..

      • MG says:

        Dear worldofhanuman,

        yes, PCs and CNC machines have their influence, too. That is why the image of the worker is rather the image of the past when the machines and electronics make the huge numbers of the people with lower education unusable to the society. That is why the populist “Slav party” (Smer) has a big support from these social strata. Anyway, the rising disparity between its promises and the reality can make the voters simply ingore the elections.

        The current political fight is more about todays working class of the high-tech people of the era of energy efficiency (PCs and CNC machines) and the former working class of the industrial age of cheap and abudant energy.

    • Thanks for your comments. The article from Current Anthropology on body size was very interesting. I know that in North Korea, the size of individuals has been dropping (or dropped, and is rising again). Even though conditions were very harsh, published population figures suggested that population was still rising, but slowly. (I don’t know if these are correct.)

      I don’t know whether the Slovak population has undergone enough changes that it is really showing up in body sizes. I know that in the United States, heights of individuals have been rising for quite a while. Weights seem to be rising disproportionately to heights since about 1970. Many US citizens find that their parents re shorter than they are, and their children are taller than they are, related to the more abundant food supply.

      So you are probably right–there will be a tendency back again, toward smaller individuals, assuming we can keep civilization together reasonably well. If people are dying off quickly from disease or lack of food and water, we may see less of this effect. But such a change would allow more people to live with the same food supply.

      • Paul says:

        According to a new study, white and black Americans have been shrinking dramatically relative to their European counterparts since the end of World War II.

        Researchers say a population’s average height is a “mirror” reflecting the socioeconomic health of a society and speculate that Americans’ worship of “market-based” social policies may explain why we’re now looking up to the Germans and Swedes.


        • This study is from 2007. (Maybe there is a new study as well.) When I stop in the Amsterdam airport, I am always amazed at how tall people are.

          • dashui says:

            The average Dutch man is 6’2 compared to 5’9 for Americans . Europe has better prenatal care.

            • dashui says:

              And going Dutch is a reality, tight with money. My Chinese friend studied in holland, she went to her classmates house at 6.00 they were eating dinner, made her wait and watch them eat until they were finished eating.

            • Jarle B says:


              maybe they were just selfish?

            • I expect they had very carefully bought precisely the amount that they needed for their own family. They did not have any extra for visitors, especially if they had already started eating.

            • It has to be more than better medical prenatal care. Better nutrition of the mothers prior to and during pregnancy, for example. Also different foods after birth.

            • xabier says:

              Old (18th c) European joke. A man -a stranger to town -falls into a canal. Who rescues him?

              The Frenchman? No, he might get his fine clothes dirty.

              The Englishman? No, what are foreigners to do with him?

              The German? No, too drunk to help.

              The Spaniard? No, it must have been the will of God, and he might be a heretic so it would be a sin to assist.

              The Italian? No, after all, it might be a plot by his enemies……maybe the man is an assassin.

              The Dutchman? Yes! Because once he’s been fished out of the water, it might be an opportunity to sell him something.

        • MG says:

          I havou found a paper on the reasons why the Europeans are taller:


          “In little more than a century average height increased by 11cm — representing a dramatic improvement in health. Increasing height was most strongly associated with the improving disease environment as reflected by the fall in infant mortality. Rising income and education and falling family size had more modest effects. Improvements in health care are harder to identify and the effects of the welfare state spending seem to have been small.”

  16. B9K9 says:

    Ed, words like optimist/pessimist are human constructs born of environments where h sapiens possessed sufficient surplus energy in which to exercise illusions of “control”. With that seeming control came delusions of grandeur, as if we were in control of our individual lives and collective destinies.

    Take away concentrated solar energy – whether it is the 60-90 days contained in grasses, 1-2 years in fast growing bushes, 10-20 years in immature trees, or the ***200 million years*** in fossil fuels – and we’re reduced to the same status as every other life form on this rock.

    That is, it doesn’t matter a whit what you think, believe or otherwise convince yourself is reality viewed through an artificial prism like optimism/pessimism. The only things that matter on a day-day basis are: (a) will you get enough food/water to live; (b) will you survive predation; and (c) will you get a chance to breed?

    With regards to my earlier comment, I think people who disregard the Law are making a mistake. Individual lawyers themselves are not the Law/the System. They are mere cogs who support whoever enforces the process.

    History is important, because it reveals exactly how humans respond in all conditions. If you want to know how this plays out, simply become a student of politics.

    That being said, Ed, I think you’re vastly underestimating the intent and design of what is occurring. It’s easy to dismiss events as unplanned, but even a cursory review of current history (eg the last 100 years) reveals a wealth of documentation that indicates every move was intentional and thought out.

    What many people seem to misunderstand is that while puppets are stupid, vain and arrogant, the real masters possess IQs, at a minimum, of 2-3 std deviations or 125+. This gives them the capacity and facility to not only easily understand the nature of what Gail is describing, but to put into play certain policies and procedures designed to confer additional advantages to themselves.

    To so grossly underestimate who you are playing against is a sure formula for failure.

    • edpell says:

      There are a lot of people with 3 std IQs. 3 std is 1/1000 with 7 billion people that is 7 million. Let me remind you of the Rothschild that was found hung in Paris hotel room. Smart only takes one so far.

      Elwood P. Dowd: Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

      from the movie Harvey

      • B9K9 says:

        You make a good point with the 7 number; I seem to recall a discussion as to how many people know what is occurring. 7m puts us in a lot of company – imagine, at a single sporting event holding 50k, at least 50 could be contributing posters to this blog.

        So where is everyone? Well, the 7m is of course potential – some haven’t yet arrived, some are still learning, but perhaps a significant portion have moved on.

        As for guarantees of success, the 3SD only puts you in a bare minimum position to play. While the vast majority are entertained by idiocy, they cannot even begin to register that a game within a game is occurring. But yeah, many players will end up in compromising positions in hotel rooms. But the key is to understand your adversary – they know what you know, but many make the mistake of not knowing what they know.

        The best part is it’s all played out in the open. How many know the US 1917 espionage act is still in effect? But here’s the beautiful part – insurrection is defined as an attempt to curb the authority/control of the state. But what is the state and who does it represent? One day it can be in support of private property, the next, the collective control of men. But do you see that it actually doesn’t matter; rather; it only matters that the state reserves for itself a monopoly on self-defined legitimate force & violence?

        That is the key, and where all battles for control actually take place. And the traditional forces aligned against each other are GAGER – to be used both strategically and tactically by the masters. That’s why I watch with humor, and gently (pleasantly?) chide those who fall into traps by reacting emotionally. But there’s a big secret – the ones controlling the game today will not be the ones running the tables tomorrow.

        The bottom line is production: who can produce surplus – however slim – to run the Law, to purchase the allegiance of soldiers & police? With energy slaves, banking sleight-of-hand was the most effective MO. With a degraded earth and spent reserves, the whole process ratchets down, but the principles remain the same.

      • Paul says:

        In the book Outliers the theory is that a 120 IQ is sufficient to allow you to be successful at just about anything — after that other factors come into play – luck, hard work, right time right place, personality type … etc….

        Gladwell uses the example of the fellow with the 190 IQ — he’s barely scratching out a living because he does not have the other characteristics that would make one successful in BAU.

      • Jarle B says:

        edpell wrote:
        “Smart only takes one so far.”

        … and what is “smart” anyway?

    • I always do wonder who is reading my blog.

      • Stefeun says:

        … and who is NOT reading it!
        Generally speaking, to let full free open access to your work is not the easiest or safest way of doing things, bur that doesn’t prevent you to keep on with writing great posts, answering our questions and letting large freedom in the comment section in which lots of interesting discussions can take place (as well as weird remarks sometimes, too!). I’m personally very admiring and grateful for that, and think most of your readers are too, if not all. This is a precious place we should take all precautions to preserve as long as possible (don’t have a clue of what should/could be done to secure it, however; hope that staying “below the radar” is sufficient…)

  17. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Euro zone manufacturing slows to 13-month low

    Euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 50.7 in August, down from 51.8 in July, according to data from analysis firm Markit. The 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a figure of 50.8.

    Rob Dobson, Markit’s senior economist, said recovery in manufacturing production had slowed for the fourth straight month and hit a 13-month low.

    “Euro zone manufacturers are clearly finding life very difficult at the moment as current heightened geopolitical tensions (particularly related to Russia/Ukraine) add uncertainty to still challenging conditions in many countries,” he said in a research note shortly after the release.

    “This heightened uncertainty has clearly hit business (especially) and consumer confidence and it is likely causing some orders to be delayed or even cancelled, particularly big-ticket orders.”

  18. edpell says:

    Hi folks, Deek Jackson has a “Peak Everything” video. For those who do not know Deek he used to be more fun and creative, now he has become bitter. He uses profanity and obscenity massively so be warned. At 2:45 this video covers PEAK

    This guy makes Paul look like Ronald Reagan, that is an optimist.

    [Edit by Gail–I fixed the video link]

  19. Paul says:

    When Will The Peak Oil Crisis Begin?


    If conventional oil production peaked in 2005 — and continues to slide — I can’t see how shale and tar sands offset that for much longer… which would mean global supply plateaus sooner than we think?

    • Rodster says:

      A terrible global economy is helping keep demand low. It’s what Gail referenced in her posts. The problem is it can’t go too low or it’s not worth extracting. So even with peak oil a bad economy is not having the sort of negative impact on hard to get and expensive oil.

    • This is an article by Tom Whipple –his weekly Falls Church Press News article. http://fcnp.com/2014/08/22/the-peak-oil-crisis-when/

      I continue to think it will be financial issues to that lead to the drop in production–perhaps a combination of current low prices (or drifting lower prices) and other disruptions–such as less demand from China, pushing prices down farther.

      • Paul says:

        Speaking of lower oil prices … I had dinner with a high flying venture capitalist last night and the issue of oil came up — he says the hedge fund people he knows are calling 85 oil this year…

        I casually mentioned that big oil is already slashing capex and piling on debt to buy back shares to keep from collapsing… because even with 100+ oil — they cannot make money on new business.

        Basically that was completely dismissed as irrelevant — I suppose the rational might have been what the hell do I know compared to these hedge fund managers…

        This reinforces my conviction that most finance people are sheep — they do not understand deeply most issues — rather they seem to form their opinions from watching CNBs and Bloomberg…

        That’s why most of them never see crashes coming — they are more like cheerleaders high-fiving each other as the market goes higher — believing they are masters of the universe — when in fact they haven’t got a clue — they are just along for the ride…

        If you want to play the stock market – buy an index fund

        Buffett widens lead in $1 million hedge fund bet

        In year six of 10-year performance wager, index fund wallops hedge funds.


  20. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Off topic but about possible catastrophes, i.e. Yellowstone possible timing. That article above is very poorly written in my opinion. First off they don’t say how many researchers were involved or who they were, or what time frame they think Yellowstone could burst forth. So I ran some numbers. Ok, last eruptions were 3.1M, 2.1M & 640k years ago. The two time intervals between eruptions were 1 & 1.46 million years, added together is 2.46 million years, divided by 2 = 1.23 Since the last eruption occurred 640k years ago, we still have 590k years till we reach the average interval maximum. So anytime between now and 590k years from now it could go, and that just goes to those two known intervals. Other previous intervals may be longer or shorter but it is almost 100% certain that the oil age will end long before Yellowstone tees off, so forget about it. So don’t let them snag you with those periodic Yellowstone scare articles.

    What happens is the current Caldera location is fed by a specific weak spot in the mantle. As the crust moves over that location, every so many thousands or millions of years it builds up enough magma in the crust to erupt. So geographically it keeps moving to new locations, because techtonic plates are moving. What I think would be a more interesting study than just time intervals, is to figure out the average distance the crust moves over the mantle between eruptions. Then find out how far it has moved since the last one 640K years ago. Are we near the average or far off?

  21. Looking for a catalyst of chain reaction?
    There is one pretty potent one just around the corner in less than a month:

    “Something incredible is happening in Scotland. And if the result is a yes vote the shock to the UK will be extreme The Scots may vote no to independence this time. But history shows these movements intensify until something gives.
    There will be immediate ramifications beyond the UK: in Madrid and Brussels there will be outcry; in Barcelona public joy; in Moscow quiet glee.
    Independence has become a narrative of the people against big government; about an energised Scottish street, bar and nightclub versus the sleazy elite of official politics.
    Once established, political psychologies like this do not go away. History shows they intensify until something gives, and at some point it is usually the borders of a nation state.

    What we know already is that a significant number of Scottish people have a dream: where statehood, social justice and cultural self-confidence fit together into a clear and popular project.


    • Lizzy says:

      worldofhanuman, what does “social justice” mean? I’ve heard it a lot since I came to the UK, usually from people on the Left. Does it mean no rich/no poor? No property? Thanks. By the way, separate point — my extended family is Scottish through and through, my husband is from Aberdeen, my best friend is Scottish, etc.
      They all have different views on the vote.

      • I don’t share all the views of the article, I just found some of them spot on and or peculiar.

        Imagine Cameron strolling past Putin at some conference, “hmm, Mr. Cameron, the PM of Anglia Republic and the village of Northern Ireland..?, nice to see you again.., please be seated in our third row alongside Columbia and Angola, ..”

        Also the article tackles the issue of possible 80-90% voter turnout, which will be a major tug of war. On one hand that brings into voting booth lot of socially fringe people not hesitating to cast vote for independence, on the other large voting participation would also agitate lot of “centrist BAU middle class” fearing economic problems when Scots go alone. Chances are small, yet lets hope the vote goes through, just for the watershed potential creating chain reaction and chaotic outcome across the globe as mentioned, Catalonia, Northern Italy, .. another new balls to juggle in the air for the elite circus of doom.

      • xabier says:


        ‘Social Justice’ is a nice empty phrase, always in the air, which makes the user feel and sound virtuous: it implies a sunlight-bathed world without poverty or discomfort of any kind, even if merited, but at root it means ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme!’ I think it’s also a phrase that middle-class people can feel more comfortable with than ‘Socialism.’ Really just another evasion of reality, as so often in Britain. All things to all men, so politicians just love it….

  22. edpell says:

    “Territorial instinct” is a result of the connection between territory and food. No territory no food. Or more subtly marginal territory marginal food. There is no moral dimension here just those who keep control of the food sources survive.

    What amazes me is that most people have forgotten this and will allow unlimited immigration even if it endangers the lives of their children and grandchildren.

    We will of course rediscover this simple truth when food runs short.

    • Most people don’t make these decision and don’t care, well with the exception of some in the border line states as we have seen lately, and voting is almost meanigless apparatus in most “democracies”. Porous borders is deliberate policy by the owner’s of the system to achieve following goals: get cheap non unionized/able labor (fresh consumer/debtor force in) aka “growth”, also adjusting political preferences of the electorate mixing up the current population with new comers, ..

      • B9K9 says:

        @Ed says “What amazes me is that most people have forgotten this and will allow unlimited immigration even if it endangers the lives of their children and grandchildren.”

        Edward, really now, you’re better than this; think man, think! What does someone of peasant stock do when preparing for an unknown future? Why, they start laying aside provisions, stocking the larder, perhaps planning a move, but in general, attempting to eliminate variables and risk. Hence, we have people like Nicole Foss correctly reading the tea leaves and bailing on the powder keg known as GB.

        But how do leaders survive? After all, they produce nothing, but simply live off the fruits of others’ labor and initiative. As we well know, leaders achieve their positions of power through division, guile & cunning. So, how do you increase the likelihood of division to further facilitate power & control?

        Do you see how this works? While peasants lay asides stores, politicians lay aside latent conflict(s). When the time is ripe to tap reserves, peasants go to grain silos, while leaders go to age-old rivalries to stir up discord and then offer solutions of unity.

        Know yourself; if you are repelled by what is occurring, then you’ve self-identified as a peasant. If you know that what is being done is intentional, to be drawn upon in future need, then you’ve passed the next stage of awareness … and preparation. While there seems to still be a lot of wailing, complaining and gnashing of teeth, the smart set correctly sees what is occurring and recognizes it for what it is.

        Start practicing and shaping your pitch: nationalism, race, education, etc -> the others are unfit and undeserving, while you and your kind are to inherit the spoils.

        • edpell says:

          I am more with worldOf I think they are short term planners. Cheap labor, new debtor, new section 8 renters, etc… yes.

          I think they over played their hand in terms of division. In the US the PTB will loose Texas, Arizona, and southern California to Mexico by division.

    • B9K9 says:

      @Ed says “What amazes me is that most people have forgotten this and will allow unlimited immigration even if it endangers the lives of their children and grandchildren.”

      Edward, really now, you’re better than this; think man, think! What does someone of peasant stock do when preparing for an unknown future? Why, they start laying aside provisions, stocking the larder, perhaps planning a move, but in general, attempting to eliminate variables and risk. Hence, we have people like Nicole Foss correctly reading the tea leaves and bailing on the powder keg known as GB.

      But how do leaders survive? After all, they produce nothing, but simply live off the fruits of others’ labor and initiative. As we well know, leaders achieve their positions of power through division, guile & cunning. So, how do you increase the likelihood of division to further facilitate power & control?

      Do you see how this works? While peasants lay asides stores, politicians lay aside latent conflict(s). When the time is ripe to tap reserves, peasants go to grain silos, while leaders go to age-old rivalries to stir up discord and then offer solutions of unity.

      Know yourself; if you are repelled by what is occurring, then you’ve self-identified as a peasant. If you know that what is being done is intentional, to be drawn upon in future need, then you’ve passed the next stage of awareness … and preparation. While there seems to still be a lot of wailing, complaining and gnashing of teeth, the smart set correctly sees what is occurring and recognizes it for what it is.

      Start practicing and shaping your pitch: nationalism, race, education, etc -> the others are unfit and undeserving, while you and your kind are to inherit the spoils.

  23. Jarle B says:

    Hi all,

    what are you doing waiting for the inevitable? I mean on a daily basis.

    Me: Looking after the garden. Not suited for growing stuff you can eat, a lot of granite with some soil in-between, but a nice place to spend time when the weather is good. I’m also taking care of the house, always some minor carpentry/painting etc to do. All in all, trying to enjoy life day bay day.

  24. Paul says:

    “are we animals or human?”

    Let’s not insult the animals shall we… we are demons.

    • edpell says:

      Humans are what they are. It is you who is having strong emotional reactions to humans and their failure to live up to the standards you expect. No need to burn up energy and time fuming, accept the world as it is and be wise.

      • Paul says:

        We are what we are – yes.

        However my issue is not so much with that — it is with people who believe that humans are a superior species — that for some reason we deserve to be saved … that we are special.

        It is those people who are moaning and wailing — demanding that we stop global warming and over-population.

        I am simply pointing out that we are not special.

        The facts overwhelmingly support my assertion that the planet and other species would be better off the second humans were eliminated.

        If humans are extincted by what is coming I think that would be a positive outcome. That is my objective conclusion when I look at the facts.

        How can anyone feel sadness about this when it is we who are the makers of our own demise?

        If a Martian hovered over the planet and observed us he’d surely conclude that we are a species of idiots.

    • Jarle B says:

      Paul wrote:
      “Let’s not insult the animals shall we… we are demons.”

      I thought we were the human race but we were just another borderline case.
      – Spandau Ballet, Through The Barricades

  25. Paul says:

    Jim Rickards discusses the coming collapse…

    • John Doyle says:

      Very interesting and informative talk. Did you subscribe to his letter?
      If so you can pass on his “Day After” plan.
      He omits the consequences of what happens to resources etc
      So it won’t be a 25 year depression, it will be permanent!

      • Rodster says:

        Jim Rickards is a Govt insider so I take whatever he says with a 10 lb of salt.

        • John Doyle says:

          So he should know the ropes. But no harm in being skeptical. However he connects a lot of the dots, explaining for example where the Drawing Rights fit in to the overall picture, etc. Also a lot of what he says [did you listen to the talk?] sounds counter to the Deep State or whatever name one wants to call the 0.1%.

        • Paul says:

          John – that was forwarded to me by a friend in finance in HK… likely related to a paid subscription

          • John Doyle says:

            No worries, I don’t intend to subscribe, but would like to hear his ideas for the solution. Like you say these pundits are only partially up for answers and feel they have to sell hopium.
            John Michael Greer’s opinion is that Growth is a religion and thus not amenable to logic.
            So it just makes us as a species unable to stop before we go off the cliff! Bugger really, because we Could still do something to soften the fall.

            • Rodster says:

              His idea for a solution is an IMF SDR aka “Global Currency”, which is precisely what the Elite want. He’s on record of saying that. Look at what the IMF has done to so many Nations. They financially rape and destroy any Country they loan money to.

            • John Doyle says:

              Is that so?
              He mentions SDR’s in connection with the Euro in the main talk. However he also submits that the US dollar lose it’s reserve status. I can’t see how that would be wanted by the “deep state” or whatever one wants to call it.
              I totally agree about the IMF and the World Bank being criminal organisations, beggaring all the lesser economies for the benefit of the major powers. Scandalous!!!

            • Rodster says:

              When he speaks regarding the IMF/SDR he’s referencing a “global currency basket backed by gold”. One theory is that Russia and China have accumulated vast amounts of gold so as to have a bigger say or more influence in the IMF currency basket. I don’t necessarily buy into that theory as China and Russia risk their gold if the worse happens.

              Needless to say the US currently holds the loftiest seat within the IMF SDR and the IMF SDR has been used for decades. Again the theory is that all the players want to move away from a world reserve currency and issue an IMF global basket currency instead. He also states that by no means will local currencies go away. You will still be dealing with the USD in the US etc but everything will be backed by the IMF SDR. As he also says is that inflation will be tough to tell where or what currency is doing it since all the strings will be pulled by the IMF and BIS.

    • Rickards is respectable author in the macro long term overview of the situation, but I’d be a bit hestitant to trust his market shorting strategies as way of diversification. The idea that these shorts will be honored is preposterous especially in severe case of market crash he is announcing with upto 80% wipeout. More historically corect assumption is they will just flip the table and annouce, “sorry folks it’s force majeure”, game over, and lets go home with your sorry piece of paper claims/computer digits. Quite likely it will coincide with some general government take over in order to cover their backs to do it, war effort etc.

      Read this great article overviewing the last three years of forced levitation and to grasp the gargantuan powers and insanity of the system to survive a day longer:

      • John Doyle says:

        Hopefully one can glean a pretty accurate view of the reality with all the links and conversations here as well as other sources.
        Even economists familiar with MMT are not up to scratch on what Gail and others are saying about the economy and the other troubles brewing today.

        • Paul says:

          Agree – I would not be running out to buy the CD he is flogging at the end of the presentation — I do not think there is any way to trade the disaster that is coming…

          Jim seems to believe that BAU will continue. Or perhaps he is like Chris Martenson — dancing while the music plays and paying his bills — yet knowing full well he is selling hopium…

      • Creedon says:

        This is an outstanding article that articulates the amount of control that these people have; truly amazing.

      • This article does indeed point to a very strange situation. It is not just Belgium, but buyers in several other countries that don’t have money that are holding interest rates low. The author (Chris Hamilton) makes an argument that it has to be the central banks behind all of this buying. I suppose that the other possibility is the Bank of International Settlements could also be behind this buying, if it has a way of creating the funds.

        • Paul says:

          The take-away I get is that QE is definitely not stopping — it is just hiding….

          Another signal of the utter desperation of the PTB… anything goes here…

    • Jim Rickards sees a number of major symptoms, but doesn’t understand the disease behind the symptoms. He is peddling “solutions,” but he would understand they probably aren’t true solutions if he understood the underlying disease. It is not a 25-year depression we are facing.

      • Paul says:

        Or he understands — but just wants to make some dosh while the music plays…. similar to a lot of people including Chris Martenson…

        Telling people there is going to be a 25 Yr Depression — and trying to sell them info on how to play…. rather cheeky …. anyone who buys those CD’s is a sucker.

  26. theedrich says:

    Day by day, Gail’s analysis of the increasing financial losses in the petro industry is being confirmed by red flag after red flag.  On Friday, 2014 Aug 29, Andrew Nikiforuk published A Big Summer Story You Missed:  Soaring Oil Debt on this spiral into nowhere.  He writes:

    Last July the [U.S. EIA] … quietly revealed that 127 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies are running out of cash.

    They are now spending more than they are earning.  Profits have lagged as expenditures have risen.  Overburdened by debt, these firms are selling assets.

    The math is simple.  The 127 firms generated $568 billion in cash from their operations during 2013-2014 while their expenses totalled $677 billion.  To cover the difference of $110 billion, the energy giants increased their debt load or sold off assets.

    After mentioning the exploitation of the usual unprofitable sources such as bitumen, hydraulic fracturing, oil sands, deepwater drilling, etc., Andrew points out that,

    By Carbon Tracker’s calculation, bitumen remains the world’s most expensive hydrocarbon.  The extraction of this fuel signals that business as usual is over, and mining of extreme hydrocarbons comes with extreme financial and political risks.

    Somewhat after this obit notice for BAU, the article adds:

    But given that oil demand in places like Europe, the United States and Japan is flattening or declining, many analysts don’t think that high-carbon, high-risk projects (which all need a $75 to $95 market price for oil to break even) make much economic sense in a carbon-constrained world.

    Goldman Sachs now reckons more than half of the oil companies listed on the stock market — are spending five times more than what they did in 2000 chasing extreme hydrocarbons.  As a consequence they need an oil price of $120 a barrel to remain cash neutral in the future.

    The author goes on to mention the forthcoming consequences of this futility — consequences of which most of Gail’s readers are well aware.  But the political classes and the intelligentsia continue to frantically whistle past the graveyard;  the hebephrenic culture of growth and infotainment, now global, forbids truth.  We are permanently stuck in the first stage of Kübler-Ross’ grief cycle:  denial.

    • Paul says:

      Great article – thanks.

      This reinforces my belief that we do not have very long before this all unravels.

      • theedrich says:

        Mr. Nikiforuk also adds parenthetically (ibid.), “the cost of extracting oil has increased substantially in the last decade — about 12 per cent a year.”

        One wonders how, at that rate, the oil industry can continue in anywhere near its present state even until 2030.

    • edpell says:

      Spending more than they make has not stopped the U.S. government. Clearly the oil companies will need federal government subsidies. At only $110 billion per year the oil companies subsidy is small chance for the federal government. Even if it goes to 500 billion so what.

    • edpell says:

      hebephrenic that is a great word. No underlying theme that is the world of today.

      • edpell says:

        No current day president would dare say “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.” (JFK 1961)

  27. Paul says:

    Fukushima Increased Cesium Levels 100 to 1,000 Times Worldwide … and 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 Times On the U.S. West Coast


  28. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All
    All Collapseniks should take a look at Dave Pollard’s article:

    If you are thinking that commercial agriculture will save you, look at his forecast of the fate of the farmers. Not far off Gail’s forecast of the fate of the oil patch.

    Don Stewart

    • Paul says:

      Excellent article – thanks Don

      • Don Stewart says:

        One more thing. I was in a second had bookstore a few years ago, and found a book for a dollar It is Art and Nature Appreciation by George Opdyke. Published in 1932, the publisher states that the author approached the publishing committee with his book two years previously (1930). He stated that he was a ‘Texas oil man’…his job took him to many places, where he visited art museums. Taught himself art. ‘then came the collapse of the oil business, which had the fortunate result of giving the author ample time to devote to his project’.

        We may also have heard stories from our grandparents of the dumping of agricultural products because they could not be sold in the cities, where people were hungry.

        a. Financial panics do strange things that we probably won’t anticipate.
        b. ‘Safe’ occupations may not be safe.
        c. Let us hope that we land on our feet, as George Opdyke did.

        Don Stewart

        • That’s true, the second half of 19th century is reknown for its massive deflation in commodity/produce pricing due to mega farms going on stream in the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, .. also the factor of fast shipping rail/ships, cheap immigration labor, and new methods like artificial fertilizers, horse powered field machinery attachments (later only made bigger and powered by tractor engine) etc. Basically, that was the necessary prelude stage to kick us off into this 8bln. people situation.

    • B9K9 says:

      Dave is a gifted writer, but like Gail, is in danger of becoming irrelevant if he doesn’t shift focus. You can issue warnings until you’re blue in the face, but when the crisis arrives, no one cares that you were right. At that point, all they want is a solution/action plan for **what is** at that moment in time.

      Dave even makes the mistake of saying “it’s impossible to visualize what it means, what life might become like for all the different segments of the world’s people.” On the contrary, it’s trivial to imagine, to see exactly what it means as Hobbes so artfully described the life of man: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

      But some will still rise to the top to enjoy lives of relative luxury. They won’t be bankers, but perhaps a throwback to earlier times to those who ruled by brute force. But the same old techniques of divide & conquer never go out of style. Here’s a review of how it’s going to play out – note of course it’s already fracturing along these line – so it would behoove those interested in playing the game to correctly ID and align themselves with the group(s) that provides them best advantage:

      – gender
      – age
      – geography – ethnicity/race
      – education
      – religion

      As a pneumonic device, note that I’ve purposely sorted/grouped into 5 major categories (GAGER). Easy to remember, easy to execute. There aren’t going to be any good/bad guys, just winners and losers. Group like with like, and become proficient at recognizing the purposeful divisions.

      Those that are get so good at recognizing these MOs might even choose to initiate some action themselves. Practice demonizing certain ‘out-groups’ to build up your bona fides with your chosen, self-identified in-groups.

      • Dmitry Orlov makes the point that groups are more likely to stick together if they are somewhat persecuted. He is not convinced that today’s “intentional groups” really work. Perhaps family groups will work.

  29. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    Some of you may be interested in listening to this Permaculture Voices podcast. One immediate motivation for this podcast was a recent meeting of scientists from around the world talking about the urgent necessity to do something in the next 10 years to avoid global collapse. You will find descriptions of the Beijing meeting and some links if you follow the link to the podcast.

    If you are interested, I suggest that you might consider how much time you want to spend, and either:
    a. Follow the link to the podcast and read only the words and perhaps follow some of the links to the science articles.
    b. Listen to the hourlong podcast as they discuss the real world practicalities of transitioning Iowa mono crop farming to sustainable agriculture.

    If you think you want to listen to the podcast, I suggest you take a look at the farm’s website first:

    You will see that this is about farming today with equipment, some of which they design and produce themselves. It is not about surviving a total collapse of industrial civilization. I don’t think any farm can be financially successful today which assumes a complete collapse…stone age production simply won’t work financially in 2014.

    The link to the podcast is:

    You will hear several references to Mark Shepard, who calls what he does in Wisconsin Restoration Agriculture. That is, he is restoring the land to a healthy condition from the degraded condition which is the result of industrial agriculture. Mark is the keynote speaker at our Carolina Farm Stewardship Association conclave in November. You can search and find several YouTuibe videos of Mark, if you are interested.

    Both Schultz and Sheppard are making trees the foundation of their system.

    Now a few editorials from me:
    a. Sheppard is quite explicit about providing the carbohydrates and oils which are the raw materials for industrial food. Industrial food works essentially by first buying a real plant or animal and then fractioning it into the component parts. The components are then reassembled into some ‘food like substance’ which was designed in a laboratory to have appeal to the consumer. I won’t eat that stuff. Many doctors believe that industrial food is at the root of the chronic disease epidemic which is sweeping the world. I understand why Sheppard is doing what he is doing (financial survival)…but I won’t personally go there.
    b. As I understand Gail’s position, it is that there is no alternative to continuing with the current economic system, but that the current economic system is doomed, so humanity is doomed. What Sheppard and Schultz are doing is replacing a destructive system with one which regenerates the land and improves its capacity to produce food with minimum external inputs. I imagine Gail will say that it is a waste of time. You’ll have to make up your own mind on that.
    c. The scientists gathered in Beijing also assume that replacing destructive systems with regenerative systems is a productive goal. So you see the connection between this podcast and the Beijing meeting…as well as the contrast to the message on Gail’s blog.
    d. Near the end of the podcast, Schultz describes talking to a scientist at the University of Missouri who had been a soldier in Afghanistan. The Afghans had a traditional tree based agriculture, but the soldier’s orders were to persuade them to convert to growing corn. You may appreciate the irony in the fact that Schultz is trying to stop growing a mono crop of corn and soybeans in Iowa and convert to a tree based system such as the one the US tried to destroy in Afghanistan.

    Don Stewart

    • VPK says:

      Just one more example that shows us Paul is correct, there is just the end

    • Thanks. The only major problem with tree crop system it’s rather fragile. Although the well developed system boosts overall diversity and resiliance against pests after several years, it’s not bullet proof. It takes one new agressive fungus spread by insects or wind damage due to climate change or man with a saw and it’s gone. Against the simplicity of grains, you can ran with a sack of grain seeds to another place and start “immediately” from scratch anew, that’s why it just won in the human terraforming evolutionary game.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear world
        A tree system such as they are implementing has alleys between the rows of trees. The alleys can support animals or annuals. That increases the resilience considerably.

        For the ultimate in orchard resistance, I think that the system in Quebec (whose name escapes me oat the moment) where they never plant two trees of exactly the same type next to each other is the best. On the other hand, the Quebec system is more properly a garden rather than a broad acre farm because the harvest is done by hand and is stretched out over months as the trees are chosen for a long harvest season rather than a single pass through the orchard with machinery.

        My suspicion is that humanity, in a collapse, will be better served by the Quebec model than the automated mass production model. But…it’s just my suspicion. In 2014, it’s dependent on where the farm is. The Quebec orchard is relatively close to big cities and so has a ready market for hand picked fruit. Mark Shepard is, I think, in a remote location and feels that he has to produce for the commodity market.

        For a homestead, I think you would definitely want as much diversity as possible.

        Life is full of choices…Don Stewart

        • Shepard is piggybacked at regional large coop, that’s aggregate power in distribution right there (also sharing some equipment), so in that setting commodity market orientation for him is not that risky. He is also rather diversified into some culinary cash crops, tree nuts, nurseries, ciders etc.

          While the agri monocropers of today live and die by the sword of available gov subsidies and cheap credit for their shiny 300hp machinery, silos and other industrial junk, and off course non eventfull weather cycle. They will have to turn around to similar model, slowly kicking and screaming or perish. But still this doesn’t seem to be the order of today en masse, look at China desperately buying up agri sector all over the world, interestingly what they buy are not turning into permaculture related operation, although they have some pilot projects in mainland China, strange. Perhaps still evaluating or more likely urgently need the “food security” right now, not in 10-20yrs after permac farm starts to kick in full production.

          Another issue with the broadly defined permaculture approach, is that suddenly you have got very independent class of people from the centralist gov-megacorp viewpoint, uh ah we can’t have that, and that’s also part of the entire Salatin spiel about the underdogs against big agri business.

        • MG says:

          During the Soviet rule, Poland had a big problem securing food for its citizens.


          As I was told, people from the cities like Krakow used to go to the neighbouring rural areas to buy food from the farmers in the villages.

          But now, with ever higher transportation costs (or fuel shortages), it will not be possible to replicate this solution.

          Maybe some cities will simply become empty, as people will move to the rural areas, when some severe transportation crisis hits.

          I would say that by that time the population of the cities will be strongly reduced.

  30. Musings about today.
    Somehow I just accidently put myself in the mood of time flowing through decades and something obvious yet not often mentioned has sink in. In the late 1990s Russia was very weak, they couldn’t protect their brothers in Serbia, when NATO was in full demolition derby over their broadcasting centers, hospitals, schools and power plants, one missile (or bomb) even hit chinese embassy (or consulate) and killed some staffer there. The energy was almost too cheap to meter. The world was clearly unipolar with one hegemon.

    Fast forward today, russian long range nuclear strike air force is sneaking into US air space, chinese jets dozens or hundreds km out of their landmass are performing aerial acrobatics over US spy planes. The energy companies are choking on exploding capex and getting infusion via endless QE. Governments are openly speaking and acting about multipolar world. Even the neo-faraon of bankrupt and starving Egypt is bold enough to put US foreign secretary on bodily security check up, just for the kicks.

    What a difference in less than two decades.

  31. B9K9 says:

    As stated before, I’m no longer interested in the underlying facts of the matter. They are incontrovertible; frankly, any dispute and/or doubt is simply a negative indicator. As far as I’m concerned, we’re long past our symbolic June 7, 1942 and/or February 2, 1943. By the way, how many people are aware that post-WWII planning began in earnest during November, 1943?


    That’s why, while some may still be interested in the day-day mechanics of what is occurring, the real intellectual play is teasing out the shape of post-fossil fuel humanity. Many seem to believe that there may be an opportunity for some kind of cultural reset, a means of finally achieving social justice, whatever that means.

    I believe the contrary; or, to put it more clearly, I believe we will see a continuation of the process of human governance that has existed for at least 10,000 years: the Law. But here’s the thing – the Law is a promiscuous bitch. It serves whoever pays the bills, whoever provides patronage & protection for the security forces (military + police) and bureaucrats/lawyers. It has no intrinsic allegiance to truth, justice and the ‘Merican way. In other words, it’s just a device of control.

    Ok, that being said, who has paid the bills for the last 500 years? Since we know this current system is coming to an end, what system will replace it that can eek out some basic level of production, even if it means managing slave armies in the fields? To correctly identify the “winning” system is to correctly identify who the Law will serve. One day, the Law serves you; the next, you can be swinging from a rope, all processed through “proper” legal channels that renders its verdict with zero emotion.

    My game is to ID who will finance the Law. It certainly isn’t going to be the banking syndicate, which has based its success on progressive annual growth, courtesy of our resident energy slaves. It doesn’t matter if they hold “title” to the world’s assets today – that can (and will) be rectified with a pen.

    So, while it’s fun to complain about the big, bad USA, or get into petty disputes with friends & relatives, these topics are all traps that can ensnare people who should really know better. We’ve got a 500 year change coming right at us. The real challenge is to figure out – and position – how it’s going to play out.

    • Christian says:

      The law? I can tell you here lawyers (and most of my friends are) are among the worst candidates to even survive, not to say rule

    • Paul says:

      There are so many moving parts here — and there are no precedents for what is coming — knowing history is of little use — one can really only guess…

      There are some certainties — there will be little or no energy available — there will be very little food available — medical care as we know it will not exist — billions will die — quite possibly everyone will die…

      Having a food supply and good relations in the community are my focus.

      • InAlaska says:

        The super wealthy will always come out on top. They always have and always will.

        • Paul says:

          The thing is … this time is different…

          All the gold and properties and railways and shipping lines and apartment buildings ….. will be worthless when this hits…

          Wealth is energy — no energy no wealth… we all end up scratching in the dirt to grow food…

          The ultra wealthy are generally not ideally suited to the coming world…

  32. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    I have, several times, pointed to the ‘hedonic effect’ which governments use to impute lower inflation and higher GDP than they would have done 30 years ago. Here is an article which tackles the subject from a little bit different angle. Keep in mind, as you read it, that ShadowStats, which publishes numbers for the US based on traditional methods, shows inflation much higher than the official statistics, and thus real GDP still shrinking steadily. The income of middle and lower class people is shrinking steadily due to the high inflation rates coupled with flat nominal wages.


    Don Stewart

    • VPK says:

      You are right, many examples of “hidden inflation”. Go to the store and find smaller amounts in packages, less sheets in toilet tissue, went yo buy antifreeze/coolant and years ago had to dilute the concentrate, now it is already “premixed” for the same price!~
      No one has to tell the average person about inflation, hear about it all the time.
      Thanks Don, for the article. Printing of $$$$ will create inflation…they can only hold it down for so long

      • xabier says:


        My favourite indicator: all the ‘high quality’ matches I’ve bought recently -the last year or two – have been pared down to the kind of inadequate thickness one used to associate with the super-cheap boxes – so many simply break in one’s fingers when striking. A general deterioration in basic goods is very noticeable now. Small signs, but telling ones…..

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Yeah, here’s another example of inflation. The UFC has pay per view fights, but before they begin there are preliminary fights, usually between up and comers. The prelims run for two hours and use to include 5-7 fights. Last night they had a total of 3 prelim fights. The first one didn’t even last the full first round. So they have now turned the prelims into an infomercial.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Here’s another sign. I use to buy MDF (medium density fibreboard) to build a product sold through my company. One reason I retired that business is the quality of the MDF finish surface dropped dramatically. I use to be able to prime it then apply finish coats and it would look great. Then the surface got so unsmooth, I had to do a ‘spackle bath’ as I called it, by wiping wetted spackle with a sponge over the surface, then sand later to get a more smooth finish, but still not as smooth as it was when they actually produced a decent product. Did it cost less because of the messed up surface – no, actually much more than I use to pay when it was a good product. So this is a case in which it was not just inflation, but a small business was retired due to deteriorating product quality.

          • Stilgar Wilcox says:

            Oh, and also the sheets went from flat to warped which required much more time and care to get perfect joints than previously. Between reduced surface quality and warped, one day I just quit. I realized I could no longer make a profit due to the extra time required to fix their junk.

            • VPK says:

              Yes Sir, you are so right. For folks wanting TOP quality woodworking hand tools go to Lie Nielsen Toolworks for outstanding quality by a modern small manufacture.
              Actually, if you go to sales, look for old time tools that were made before the 1950’s and “plastic”

  33. shtove says:

    On oil fracking, I’m unclear about the environmental hazards, but always thought the financing with junk debt was a clear indicator of unsustainability. But here’s a different view from the Financial Times by Kaminski, who has interesting ideas on energy and the monetary system: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/08/29/1949401/shale-is-not-a-ponzi/

    • I think the author misses the huge support that ultra-low interest rates are giving to the industry. All the investment money would not be chasing shale, if there were alternatives with reasonable rates of return. The interest costs would not be as low as they are. The break-even cost would be a whole lot higher.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        When higher interest rates hit, it should be interesting in so many different ways! Real estate, stocks, commodities, loan origination, oil price, tax revenue, GDP, oil exploration all tanking.

        • Paul says:

          I cannot imagine how the Fed would ever allow interest rates to rise. All that they have done to keep BAU going the past 6 years — would immediately unravel.

          • If what we hit is deflation, then even 0% interest rates become too high for borrowers. With debt defaults, deflation may be the issue.

            • John Doyle says:

              Aren’t we already in deflation? After all, it only for now means lower rates of increase, not a recession with negative rates. No doubt that’s next.
              What did you think of that appalling article in the Guardian recently?

            • We are pretty close to deflation now. The fact that we can have ultra-low interest rates, and the result not be inflationary is telling. If oil price is now falling, that will work its was through to other prices as well. In fact, if part of the reason for falling oil prices is lower demand from China, this lower demand may affect other products as well. I know that China is no longer buying our ethanol by-products (dried distiller grains) to feed its pigs. US corn prices dropped after this announcement.

              Regarding the Guardian article, I agree it is pretty awful. The article doesn’t look at what is happening to Saudi Arabia’s oil consumption, or the consumption of other oil producers. It doesn’t even look at consumption of countries making goods, now that we are outsourcing almost everything. It leads people to think things are OK, when they are not.

            • Stefeun says:

              What about going for negative interest rates, once even zéro will be too much?
              We have something like that in Europe since June, but I’ve no idea if possible to implement in the US.

            • Negative interest rates can “kind of” work for savers, if they have nowhere else to put their money. in such a case, there is a charge for putting money in the bank. I think I would hold a lot of cash, in such a situation. (Or perhaps the cash “expires” as well, so you really have to spend the money or lose it.)

              I don’t see how negative interest rates would work for borrowers. The result would be, “Borrow money now, and pay me back less later.” At most, this would work if all money expired, and thus had a “haircut,” even if it weren’t in the bank.

              Banks are adding enough fees that we are getting close to negative interest rates on savings, already.

  34. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    If all the news about rapidly rising capex coupled with stagnant wages doesn’t quite tip the scales to convince people of the dire situation regarding oil, the following article about Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine with saber rattling quotes from Putin should tip the scales as to the critical importance of oil along this craggy crude plateau.


    Putin, defiant toward West, likens Ukraine conflict to WWII

    “It’s best not to mess with us,” Putin said, referring to Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine with a term that dates back to the era of the Russian empire — “New Russia militia” — and likening their battle with Ukrainian army forces to Soviet citizens’ heroic resistance during the German Nazi siege of Leningrad.

    “Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” Putin said during a visit to a Kremlin-sponsored youth camp, clearly aiming to marshal public support for a military campaign that has brought international isolation and increasingly stringent economic sanctions.
    Obama on Thursday warned that stricter sanctions would be forthcoming after NATO released satellite surveillance images showing Russian armored columns crossing into southeastern Ukraine.

    The U.N. on Friday reported that the death toll in Ukraine as of Wednesday had risen to at least 2,593 since fighting between separatists and government troops escalated in mid-April.

    Putin clearly sought to reinforce that narrative Friday as state television cameras captured his choreographed exchange with the young campers.“Small villages and large cities are surrounded by the Ukrainian army, which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure,” he said. “It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist … occupiers surrounded our cities.”

    “We have to be aware of what we are facing: We are now in the midst of a second Russian invasion of Ukraine within a year,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, referring to Russia’s seizure of Crimea.

    • Paul says:

      Had an interesting dinner last night — a UK journalist was along — he’s worked for the Economist MSM as well as Press TV — non MSM (Iran funded)…

      He summarized the MSM quite well when we were discussing Iraq — one person suggested the MSM fell down on the job over WMD — that they did not do their job…

      His response was that no – the MSM did their job superbly — they are owned by corporations and they are propaganda tools…. they are not there to challenge — they are there to attempt to build consensus for decisions made by the Deep State…

      The Deep State wanted that war and the MSM complied to help public opinion along…

      The MSM is not about truths — it is about spin — whether it is Russian MSM or American — all you get is one side or the other — generally neither are truthful…

      The Ukraine issue is complex — I have seen nothing in the MSM that shines a light on what is happening — this article which I have posted previously — is by far the best attempt at explaining what the big picture is:


  35. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Gail, this article hits on many of the things you have written about; diminishing returns, rising capex, stagnating wages, rising debt loads and increasing demands on government in the face of lowering revenue, with a quote from Hubbert to boot.


    A Big Summer Story You Missed: Soaring Oil Debt

    The math is simple. The 127 oil firms generated $568 billion in cash from their operations during 2013-2014 while their expenses totalled $677 billion. To cover the difference of $110 billion, the energy giants increased their debt load or sold off assets. Given that the gap between earned cash and spending stood at a modest $10 billion in 2010, that’s a significant change for the industry as well as the global economy it fuels.

    Most of the world’s oil and gas firms are now pursuing extreme hydrocarbons because the cheap and easy stuff is gone. The high-carbon remainders include shale oil, oilsands, ultra deepwater oil and Arctic petroleum. (Industry now wants to frack the Northwest Territories, too.) But given that oil demand in places like Europe, the United States and Japan is flattening or declining, many analysts don’t think that high-carbon, high-risk projects (which all need a $75 to $95 market price for oil to break even) make much economic sense in a carbon-constrained world.

    Spending more cash to get less energy has major implications for the global economy, a creature of oil. Whenever nations spend lots on oil, they record crazy exponential growth, like China. And whenever nations spend less on petroleum, like Europe and the U.S., there is stagnation.
    But diminished returns from extreme hydrocarbons will do more than slow down productivity and increase price volatility. They will impose lasting and material adjustments on all of us. In addition to seeing fewer vehicles on the road (a startling U.S. reality already), we shall also see lower wages (except in the hydrocarbon industry), rising food prices, rising personal debt loads, increased demands on governments increasingly short of revenue, explosive inequalities in wealth and rising political conflict.

    Marion King Hubbert, a Shell geologist, predicted this development decades ago and presented the cultural conundrum clearly: “During the last two centuries we have known nothing but an exponential growth culture, a culture so dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth.”

    • Rodster says:

      “During the last two centuries we have known nothing but an exponential growth culture, a culture so dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth.”

      That sums up nicely the dilemma mankind has boxed himself into. It’s not just oil this applies too, it’s the ENTIRE SYSTEM. Which includes finance, the economy, food production, water supply, population growth etc. The whole mess requires exponential growth or it collapses.

    • John Doyle says:

      I haven’t seen a value differential according to the importance of oil to the economy. For example, oil for food is more valuable than oil spent on holidays. For some uses oil will be priceless and will be extracted regardless of the ERoEI. Does that mean rationing will apply?
      Already some reduction can be seen in Steven Kopits’ article on a related blog where he cites one aircraft in 6 lies idle compared to 2005 levels. I assume we will see more of this.
      How far can it go before Liebig’s law of the minimum cuts in?
      Re the GDP remember how flawed it is. Crime related activities like prisons and courts and the military is counted which distorts the US figures considerably. Europe is lower possibly because there is less of that.

      • I fail to see the usefulness of a “value differential” with respect to oil to the economy. We don’t have the option of running the oil system at 50% load or 10% load. We run it a pretty close to maximum, or they system doesn’t work. Profitability goes to zero. Ability to hire new workers disappears. Ability to keep the pipelines flowing ceases. We are seeing Alaska now, getting close to the point where its oil system won’t work, because the oil will become too solid, if there is not enough oil flowing through the pipelines.

        Also the whole networked economy needs to be kept operating. It is not possible to do this, with a fraction of the oil flow.

        • CTG says:

          This is what I am talking about profitability. You cannot just draw a line and extrapolate when it becomes zero. A good example is the Alaskan pipeline. It does not mean that you can extrapolate it to zero. When it goes below certain flowrate, it will not work as oil will harden. So, you can still have oil in the ground that can be pulled out but you cannot transport the oil. Essentially, you are “zero” in that sense.

          So goes the same for many things. We are sort of living in “digital economy”. It does not mean that we will ever achieve “zero” byway of extrapolation. Below certain threshold, it stops. Like profitability, it does not mean that if you get zero profit, you stop. Maybe at some point where it is not worth it, it stops.

          Our economy is at that level now and any major drops in stocks, bonds or any other financial assets (drop in value) will trigger an effect that is not known in severity (likely to be very severe). It does not have to go to zero for it to stop. An example – if Ebola spreads to a few countries, airline stops flight, the entire supply chain will collapse and it will not recover to its fullest capacity if key hubs are not functioning (i.e. an expert is unable to attend to a problem that causes production to cease). Once key hubs cease to function, that particular supply chain collapses and it will impact other people and supply chain.

      • It seems to be very visible that the race for the best scapegoat how to sell rationing to the public has started already. Mind you, the prior cycle was all about the environment, global warming (I’m not denier), continuous efficiency gains, but all that effort probably went full circle as of now, we hit a brick wall. The austerity helped along way a lot, young and almost middle aged moved into parents’ basements, but now even bigger sacrifices well be demanded and thus the search for a scapegoat narrative. Most likely it’s going to be war over energy access or some related consequences of it.

    • This article also references a Goldman Sacks report.http://www.docstoc.com/docs/153511391/Goldman-Sachs—-Top-380-Global-oil-price-update

      This report says that oil majors need $120 barrel to be cash flow neutral.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        It’s fascinating, yet not necessarily unexpected I suppose since a crude plateau was hit in 05 along with the shift to unconventional plays, but still remarkable just how much required price has risen in recent years. If oil majors need $120 a barrel but are not getting it, something will have to give like future supply due to less drilling? Depletion rates are going to skyrocket. Instead of cooking thru 4 barrels for every 1 discovered, the ratio will transition to 6/1, 8/1 or worse.

    • Adam says:

      @Wilgar Stilcox

      “and we shall see…rising political conflict”

      Amazing how people are watching the conflicts going on elsewhere and taking sides, and becoming polarised. Here’s an example:


      I enjoyed the photo of this pompous man immensely. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m human too, and I take sides. So it’s happening to me too.

      More examples, even from within my coin-collecting hobby. In the past few weeks a Spanish blogger, who posted about new coin issues, stopped doing so, saying he was appalled at all the violence around the world and couldn’t understand it, so he put up a plea for Palestinians and Israelis to stop their war before he would return to posting about coins. Comments on his anti-war post mostly divided into pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian camps, so now he has resumed posting about coins again – presumably sadder but wiser – or maybe even none the wiser.

      I myself am a moderator on a world coins forum with members from all over the world. English is the forum language, because that’s the first or second language of most of our members. About 6 weeks ago, one Russian member starting entitling his threads in Russian, though typing the content in English. Within a few days, 2 other Russian members also started doing this. All 3 members had expressed approval of Putin in the “off-topic” section of the forum. It was clear that this was a Russian nationalist meme. They were “displaying”, or marking their territory. I politely explained to them that other members would simply not understand these topic headings, so they eventually desisted and started posting headings in English again. One Russian member did not participate in the meme. He had fought in the Chechen war of the 1990s and, like most who have experienced war, he does not glorify it. However, there is always a new generation who get excited by it and glorify it – usually so long as they are not experiencing it themselves.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Yeah, as long as they are not in the line of fire. People love to rubberneck vehicle accidents just as they get revved up by watching smart bombs hit their target. As long as it’s somebody else’s neighborhood it makes for great excitement. Just look at the contrast between the German people at the beginning of war II and then later when they are being bombed. Two sides of the same coin.

      • Jeremy says:

        I collect coins to and am worried about “peak collecting”. Years ago I used to go to coin shows and conventions to add to my collection, now almost all through the internet.
        Seeing the cost of postage (especially international) skyrocket. If it were not for the internet my collection would suffer. I am grateful every day that BAU still functions

        • Adam says:


          I gave up collecting coins around 2006, having amassed a decent collection. Entering late middle age, I also questioned the wisdom of continually amassing more “things” of whatever nature.

          As new coins are issued, I find superbly detailed images online to look at – it’s far preferable to hefting coins around in albums. My focus now is on analysing coins, which I do on our coin forum. Recently I was annoyed when I discovered that the text of two of my forum topics (and probably more if I looked) had been copied elsewhere on the internet , but I suppose that is success of a kind – though it makes me no money.

          Coins are made of metal, of course, which is subject to depletion. Increasingly coins are made of different types of plated steel to save money. I was astonished when the Royal Mint (UK) announced that it would actually be withdrawing cupro-nickel 5 and 10 pence coins from circulation (nickel-plated steel replacements have been issued since 2012). Seems that cupro-nickel is going the way of silver in the 20th century, and becoming too valuable for circulation coins. Interestingly, Transnistria has recently issued plastic coins that are intended to circulate:


          • Jeremy says:

            Adams, thanks for the reply and interesting observation and the debasement of metals. I remember as a child there were still silver coins in circulation and the like. I too am at the end of my collecting days myself and have enjoyed the hobby. Doubt future generations will have the same.
            From my take the State will eliminate all metals as a means to forestall collapse and require all digital transactions. Will spin the positive aspect of the removal of tangible currency after the financial breakdown.
            I visit mainly forum coin discussion on the web. Good website for ancients.
            Take care and my peak collecting was mostly a joke

            • John Doyle says:

              I am also a lapsed numasmatist, having collected Australian coinage in the 1960’s, but stopped when I went over to Europe in 1967. In today’s money my collection of proofs etc would be valued at over $500,000. But I had a good time and most enjoyed tradesman’s penny tokens from the 1840’s. It shows how people adapt when the money supply is insufficient.
              A good read an all this is Peter L. Bernstein’s book “The Power of Gold” published in 2000 by John Wiley and Sons. Turns out to be a fascinating subject and extremely influential on the course of history.

            • Adam says:

              @John Doyle
              “I am also a lapsed numismatist, having collected Australian coinage in the 1960’s. In today’s money my collection of proofs etc would be valued at over $500,000.”

              Hmm – what did you say your address was? 🙂

              In the National Archives (UK) some years ago, I enjoyed seeing some sketches of unadopted Australian pre-decimal designs: koala half penny, emu sixpence, etc.



              Not into tokens myself, though our forum has a very active tokens section. No doubt they’ll be needed again in the future.

            • John Doyle says:

              I had to sell them when I returned after 10 years in Italy. But it was enjoyable being a collector.
              Apparently Australian regal pre decimal coinage is the most valuable, as a lot of it is scarce and proofs are rare. The trial coinage you mention was already too costly for me at the time. Now I would only buy silver bullion coins. Not gold; gold is for countries not individuals IMO.

            • Pedro says:

              Likewise, I discontinued collecting quite a few years ago.
              Still have a small collection of Australian pre-decimal silver ‘for the future’
              and a roll of the round 50 cent coins I bought from the bank on the day
              decimal currency officially started.
              I’m leaning toward the idea of collecting regular small change as it may be
              valuable come collapse. Not for it’s rarity (although it will be scarce) but as
              recognisable tokens which are not easily forged and will have some intrinsic
              value as a metal (Japanese 5 Yen coins make great washers with their hole in the middle) and already have a value relationship to each other. (Equals “money” doesn’t it?)
              I can envisage selling a hen at the local market for a 50 cent coin and buying
              20 cents worth of potatoes and getting 30 cents in coins as change.
              Seems more likely than dealing in the scrapings off a Kruger rand.
              Not sure how value would be arrived at though, or whether existing notes would have any value.

      • Paul says:

        “I enjoyed the photo of this pompous man immensely. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m human too, and I take sides. So it’s happening to me too.”

        How dare you make such a comment.

        George Galloway is a ray of light in a world of darkness — he single handed stopped a US UK war against Syria with this speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0jp1-mzPHg

        He is one of the few western politicians in the world brave enough to stand against Israel a nation that is built on an endless series of war crimes

        Watch how he eviscerates the disgusting US congress with this stinging attack on the war in Iraq http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5u1skEoqLs quite possibly the greatest speech in history

        Then we have his soon to be released documentary on how Tony Blair made tens of millions acting as the Deep State’s lap dog supporting the WMD lie http://www.theblairdoc.com/

        But of course as is generally the case — the masses of ignorant idiots that populate the world demonize the bad guys and cheer for the devils amongst us… nothing new there.

        I know I shouldn’t but I am human too…. whoever that piece of garbage was who threw a punch at this great man — I’d give the world to have 5 minutes alone in a room with him …

        • Adam says:

          “How dare you make such a comment.”

          I dare. Galloway stopped a war single-handedly? Don’t be pompous. Nobody can do that. The public in both countries was fed up with war, but what power do we have? Galloway and truth? He refuses to answer a straight question about his religion. But we know about it. Just look at the thousands of abused children in Rotherham and elsewhere in England (recently reported on, and it’s a conservative figure), the abuse of democracy in Tower Hamlets, think about the US tourist who was bottled and disfigured for life by young M*sl*ms in London because he dared to drink alcohol on the street. Ultimately everything is relative, but these people are certainly not my tribe. Damn you, George Galloway – traitor. Just because you may sometimes get one thing right, doesn’t mean you are right in the larger scheme of things.

          • John Doyle says:

            Galloway really tells it like it is!
            I totally concur with what he said.

          • Paul says:

            What does it matter what his religion is?

            Why do you think Muslims in the UK have carried out a few terrorist attacks/murders?

            Did you ever think that this might be related to the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have been killed and maimed in places like Iraq (by good Christian boys from America and the UK) —- killed and maimed over the lie that is WMD?

            I don’t know about you — but if my family was wiped out by a drone missile — I’d be looking for payback…

            When you kill innocent people — you have to realize — you stir up a hornets nest — and sometimes the brutalized strike back …

            I doubt you will ever get it but I’ll pass along an article from a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who attempts to explain this far more eloquently than I could:


            • Adam says:

              > I doubt you will ever get it

              I certainly do get it, Mr Arrogant. But that doesn’t explain the Rotherham (and other) child abusers from that general culture. The PTPB try to manipulate the Middle East and elsewhere, and often they get it wrong, with devastating consequences.

              And if there had been real democracy, we would not have suffered mass immigration in the UK (or elsewhere in Europe). Two thirds of the people (of whatever background) didn’t want it, because of the shock to the infrastructure and the shock of assimilating so many in so short a time. But it is the laissez-faire cornucopian capitalists who imposed this on us. They want cheap labour, never-ending competition in the labour force to drive down pay, plus a never-ending stream of population growth to support their Ponzi scheme of economic growth.

              With religion comes culture. I once had a boss from the alien culture, who put pressure on his 18-year-old daughter to marry her cousin. This sort of very un-progressive behaviour (and worse) is widespread, so cultural clashes are inevitable.

              You talk of brutality, and I did too, above, though from a different perspective. Your picture is not the whole picture, nor do you have all the answers, despite your egotistical manner. Peak oil will quicken the brutality, and force the polarisation into tribes. No way out. That is the point I was making with regard to peak oil. Then you must choose your tribe, whatever the rights or wrongs of their history, because there is no perfect truth and no objectivity – all human experience is subjective.

              And there I will leave it, since we have different perspectives and will never agree, and also out of respect for Gail’s blog, because the aim is to explore the consequences of peak oil – not to get into potential flame wars or expositions of political differences.

            • Paul says:

              Yes I hear the UK is overrun with foreigners… how horrible!

              But then one might suggest that is karma at work (as I am sure you know that is a big thing in one of the places where the English committed many vile atrocities – India)…

              How many countries did the UK overrun in their murderous pillaging rampage that lasted a century or so?

              And now those people are getting pay back — swarming across your borders — many getting on the dole — sucking the public health system dry ….

              Terrible… simply terrible….

            • InAlaska says:

              You are so blatantly anti-Semitic that your defense of this man is worthless.

            • Paul says:

              I am not anti semitic — I am anti israel — it’s not the same thing — get your head around that.

              Do I need to post even more Israeli atrocities to get my point across?

              Israel is a country that utterly disgusts me — just count your lucky stars you are not a Palestinian… you might agree with me

            • John Doyle says:

              George Galloway has been in the news this week.
              No doubt his views on Israel, with which I agree, are stirring strong reactions;

            • Paul says:

              And that is a great demonstration of why George Galloway is such a great man.

  36. Paul says:

    Salmond attacked as North Sea oil revenue plummets

    Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, launches withering attack on leader of SNP for overstating ecoonomic forecasts as oil income slumps


  37. Paul says:

    “The masses have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusions, and cannot do without them. They constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real; they are almost as strongly influenced by what is untrue as by what is true. They have an evident tendency not to distinguish between the two.”

    Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and The Analysis of The Ego

      • wadosy says:

        cee lo green “chrazy”

        throat singing, Okna Tsahan Zam

        house of the rising sun

        ut;s buce to see freudian justification for the empire’s fairy tales… i gotta say

        ffits nice with strayss’s noble lies

        nobody knows what to believe, but the patterns are emerging, and reality and truth will prevail

        • Adam says:

          When I was about seven, I was standing in a fish and chip shop with my mother in Gateshead, North-East England. A whisper was running along the queue. My mother told me, “They’re saying that the woman who’s serving – well, her son’s an animal”. My young mind boggled at the thought of a woman having an animal for a son, so my mother explained about beetles, “The Beatles”, animals and “The Animals”. Then I got it. Apparently she was Eric Burdon’s mother.

          • wadosy says:

            i think that’s what’s;s buggging me

            tgere seems to be an attempt to convince us that we’re animals, but it think we’re could bef better thant that

            the “amimal” theory seems to be justification for the empire’s animalistic behavior

            “those who are able are obliged to prey on those who ar eunable to prevent it”

            “those who choose to be neither prey nor predator are cast out”

            • Adam says:

              wadosy said:
              “there seems to be an attempt to convince us that we’re animals”

              Well, we are, but we’ve forgotten that and also that we are part of nature, so we’ve tried to dominate nature. But nature bats last, as Guy McPherson says.

              I’m not a Christian, but apparently Christ once said, “My father’s house has many rooms”. Some claim that he was speaking about the multiverse. Those who claim to have visited other dimensions (though I can’t know whether there are other dimensions) – and these include ex-CIA “remote viewers” claim that they are mostly considerably more “spiritually evolved”, whereas we are at quite a primitive level.

            • Paul says:

              Funny how Christ would have revealed such a deep understanding of the universe… yet he failed to explain that the earth was a sphere… perhaps he thought that was too obvious

            • Or perhaps the fact that the world was a sphere wasn’t important.

              The economists have supposedly known that the world is finite for a very long time, but yet that concept has not sunk in.

            • wadosy says:

              the logic runs like this…

              if you believe might nakes right, then you believe in the law of the jungle

              the law of the jungle is animalistic

              so, if you believe might makes right, you will try to convice people they’re animals

              but maybe i’m crazy

            • wadosy says:

              the thing is, though, there are realities of human existence that dont have much to do with iperial intentions

              i think the human reality will trump the empre’s bullshit sooner or later

              in the long run, maybe i’m not so crazy after all

            • Adam says:


              As I see it, might IS unfortunately right. Humans have territorial instincts, just like animals. We need somewhere to build a home, just like animals, otherwise we don’t survive. We need to take or produce food to eat, just like animals, otherwise we starve. If there is a lack of food or territory – because of population overshoot, depletion, climate change, etc. – then our tribalism kicks in, and we fight other tribes to get the food and territory we need. This is what we are seeing in the Middle East.

              In times of dire need, we tend to look to our leaders and take our cue from them. Just look how easy it has been for Putin to rabble-rouse and stir up hatred between Ukrainian-speakers and Russian-speakers. Polarisation leads to war. Wars escalate, bitterness and hatred follows. Eventually exhaustion follows, leading to even more brutality, as people shed their moral reservations in order to put an end to the enemy as quickly as possible. (Think Hiroshima, etc.). War ends, many deaths later, and people grudgingly return to a new normal. But they never forget: think of the Croats and Serbs and WW2, then their return match in the 1990s.

              And of course, entropy is a law of the universe, but it doesn’t help matters. So species struggle to reach the top of the food chain. But nothing lasts forever, so conflict continues unto eternity. My feeling is that the universe is fundamentally flawed, from a moral point of view. But there’s nothing we can do about it, so humans will remain animals, and also act like them in times of crisis.

            • wadosy says:

              might isnt right unless you got tribal loyalty

              that’s where the “globalization” falls down… if globalization is to succeed, it’s got to be based on global cooperation, not on tribal might makes right

            • Paul says:

              Globalization is a nightmare…

            • Dave Ranning says:

              Children with a religious upbringing have difficulty telling fantasy from reality:

              The Earth looks flat, and Gravity is a myth that Satan perpetuated on the Evil Scientists.
              “Intelligent Falling” is the real cause:

            • Which religious upbringing? There are many. Some believe these myths.

          • wadosy says:

            i mean, if you’re a white supupremacist, the logic of might makes right holds

            the big problem seems to be, white people, for all their might, have gotten themselves intothis pickle

            • Adam says:


              No, I’m not a white supremacist, but in times of dire need I will become fearful, and I will cleave to whatever/whomever I decide is “my tribe”, to save myself within the group.

              As for globalisation: the times are coming when, because of the consequences of what we’ve done in the past, we won’t be able to save everyone, even by and thru cooperation. So then what do you do: do you offer to be killed? Do you lie down and die? No. Your survival instinct kicks in and you fight and kill or support those who will do it for you. Think you won’t? Think again. Millions of ordinary people go mad in war time – mad for revenge, once they’ve seen their friends and relatives killed and brutalised. It’s grim, it’s tragic, but this is life – this is nature. And it’s inevitable. Life will always contain suffering. And when we suffer, our animal instincts kick in. No way out. That’s why I say it’s an imperfect universe, and I would never have designed it like this. Hitler would have (sorry, I don’t have 5 pounds/dollars/euros on me) – “nature red in tooth and claw”, “the survival of the fittest” (read “most brutal”). And he wasn’t wrong, except that he himself didn’t in the end have enough might to be “right”. (Notice the quotation marks there).

            • wadosy says:

              the question is…. are you too sleazy to make it?

    • Paul says:

      I forgot to mention — that’s the biggest load of horse dung I have read in a while — Kissinger should die swinging from a rope …

      • John Doyle says:

        Incredibly superficial. The “benevolence ” of the USA lauded but the scheming of its power hungry elite is overlooked. Kissinger cannot hide that now.

    • The idea that democracy and co-operation on international trade can work as a basis for a world order really relies on the ability of the world to provide growing amounts of cheap energy to support this growth. Once the energy growth becomes high priced, and because of this constrained, then we get a whole lot more competition. Oil exporters don’t get enough funding for their states. The system tends to fall apart.

  38. Rodster says:

    As a reminder that we live in a finite world, comes this. Will people ever learn?

    Government To Regulate Groundwater For 1st Time As California Drought Becomes “Race To The Bottom”

    “The ongoing disaster that is the drought in the West is leaving wells dry across California – which account for up to 60% of water usage. As WSJ reports, as groundwater levels plunge (100 feet or more lower than norm), wells are being driven further and further into the earth (500 feet in some cases) forcing the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time. “We can’t continue to pump groundwater at the rates we are and expect it to continue in the future,” warns one engineer, adding “What’s scary is we’re not fixing anything… It’s a race to the bottom.”

    • Thanks! I noticed the WSJ article this morning. The ground water won’t last indefinitely. California needs to protect it.

      • Rodster says:

        Someone needs to tell that to Las Vegas. Those guys use so much water trying to keep their City in the desert functioning they are literally sucking dry Lake Mead.rofster@

  39. Pingback: CFS News-Views Digest No. 64 (8-26-14) | Citizens for Sustainability

  40. VPK says:

    More and more airport expansion…Dubai to surpass London Heathrow
    Dubai Airport surpassed Heathrow as the world’s busiest hub
    Listened to a report on NPR and the Middle east is the FASTEST growth region for air travel. Dubai has plans for much more expansion with
    The sudden ascendancy of the Gulf airlines and their hub airports is partially a result of geological fortune but mainly due to good planning by the Emirati leaders. Emirates was founded in 1985 after Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum hired a British Airways executive, Sir Maurice Flanagan, gave him $10 million, and told him to build an airline. (Many start-up aviation firms begin by leasing most of their fleet.) Aware that Dubai’s oil reserves would run out in the early 21st century, Sheikh Mohammed had decided to transform his country from a petro-dependent mini-state to a diverse business powerhouse with tourism and aviation at its center.
    Today the airline has some 218 aircraft, with another 374 on order. What Flanagan and Clark, another exile from the British aviation industry, have created is an airline that links the emerging countries in Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas. As Clark points out, the U.A.E. is within eight hours’ flying time for half the world’s population. And just as Emirates was connecting Africa and the East to the rest of the world, so Emirates was joined by Qatar Airways in 1997 and then by Etihad in 2003 in its bid to shuttle this new generation of business and leisure travelers around the globe.
    Yep, all is well on paper that is…keep the printing presses going ching ching

    • Paul says:

      Yes it would appear the strategy is to follow China’s lead and build as much as possible (that is not needed therefore generates on ROI) on printed money and debt…. to keep the hamster running.

      The level of desperation approaches crescendo levels…

    • Rodster says:

      It’s similar to US sports teams. Sports owners gets the local City to pay for the priviledge of having a Sports team and thereby gets the taxpayers to foot the bill for a new stadium. The most recent stadium built in San Jose, CA for the San Francisco 49’ers was well over $1 Billion dollars. Now Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder says the 17 year old stadium where they play needs to be replaced, with a brand new stadium.

      So it’s just using more and more resources when the current stadium is capable of sufficing.

  41. Paul says:

    “The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”: How the U.S. is Using ISIS as a Pretext for War Against Syria

    Absurdity beyond comprehension.

    Washington supported the Free Syria rebels who aligned themselves with the terrorist group called Al-Nusra to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad,

    Then the Syrian rebels and other groups in Iraq form another terrorist organization who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

    The consequences of Washington’s policies of aiding the Syrian rebels including ISIS have served a purpose. ISIS has spread to both Syria and Iraq gaining territory. ISIS has claimed it has executed 250 Syrian soldiers last weekend as they seized an airbase in the province of Raqqa.

    Washington considers the advancement of ISIS a threat to its national security. As reported by the Associated Press, US surveillance planes were already deployed to pinpoint specific targets. The article titled ‘US surveillance planes fly over Syria, officials say’ stated that

    “Two U.S. officials said Monday that Obama had approved the flights, while another U.S. official said early Tuesday that they had begun. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter by name, and spoke only on condition of anonymity.”

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey did not comment on surveillance flights currently in use but did say that “Clearly the picture we have of ISIS on the Iraqi side is a more refined picture,” said Dempsey, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State group. “The existence and activities of ISIS on the Syrian side, we have … some insights into that but we certainly want to have more insights into that as we craft a way forward.” Obama’s rationale is that ISIS is a direct threat to American citizens after the public execution of photojournalist James Foley. Republicans are willing to give the Obama administration an authorization to take military action against ISIS in Syrian territory. Historically, Both Republicans and Democrats have always agreed on foreign policy issues, especially when war is on the agenda:

    Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday the administration “has not yet shared with us what their plans are.” He said he hoped the White House would go to the Congress with a request for an authorization to act.

    “I think it’s our responsibility as elected officials to let the American people know where we stand with respect to national security matters,” Corker told MSNBC. “For the American people’s sake, Congress should weigh in. Congress should be a part of it”

    Rest assured, Congress would vote for military action against Syria. They have an agenda that is multi faceted. First, it supports weapon’s manufacturers such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon in a time of war. An online guide to campaign contributions that influence politicians’ called opensecrets.org states that there were 227 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 Democrats and 40 Republicans that received funding from the defense industry. Second, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has an interest in removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because of his diplomatic relations with several of Israel’s enemies including Iran.

    Washington also has a keen interest of having a military presence in the Middle East to control the natural resources including oil and gas. Washington and its corporate partners want its military to stay in the Middle East for the long term. By supporting Israel (a U.S. watchdog in the region) and having their military bases in key areas in close proximity to oil producing facilities, it would guarantee the import of natural resources into US and European markets. China would then have limited capacity to obtain natural resources it needs for its economy. Now Washington’s favorite enemy, ISIS is in the picture. The Obama administration will obviously use this crisis as a way to prepare US forces for a future “blitzkrieg” against Assad’s forces. According to the Daily Beast, A mainstream media online news source stated the following:

    One former senior U.S. diplomat who has consulted with the administration on the ISIS threat told The Daily Beast that he would expect Obama to be presented with an option similar to Vice President Joe Biden’s favored policy from 2010 for Afghanistan known then as counter-terrorism plus. This kind of approach would be a drone and air campaign against ISIS targets in Syria. The United States has conducted drone and airstrikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan. But in all of these cases the host government has requested them. This week, Syria’s foreign minister warned the United States not to enter Syrian air space

    According to the Associated Press, Obama is concerned that if he orders airstrikes against ISIS, it would weaken the US position to topple the Assad government, because on the international stage it would solidify the fact that the U.S. and Syria has partnered to take out a common enemy “Administration officials have said a concern for Obama in seeking to take out the Islamic State inside Syria is the prospect that such a move could unintentionally help embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.”

    But it would also become an act of aggression on Syrian territory. The Obama administration has publically stated that it would not ask the Syrian government for permission to enter its air space. Why? Maybe Washington wants to raise tensions with the Assad government? “A top Syrian official said Monday any U.S. airstrikes without consent from Syria would be considered an aggression” the AP report said. It also stated the fact that “The Islamic State is among the groups seeking Assad’s ouster, along with rebel forces aided by the U.S.” So ISIS and the U.S. government has a common enemy?

    Now let get this straight. Originally the Obama administration has repeatedly called for the removal of the Assad government. The Obama administration has consistently supported the Syrian rebels to remove Assad, but has failed because the Syrian government defeated the Western backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). Another question is why would the Syrian government allow the US to battle ISIS on its territory? Syria is more than capable of defeating ISIS as it did with the Syrian rebels. The Obama administration will not ask the Assad government for permission to launch airstrikes in Syria. Now let’s see who the enemies of all parties involved are. First, the U.S. Government’s enemy is clearly the Assad government who was recently re-elected by a majority of the people. ISIS is an enemy of the U.S. and the U.S. is an enemy of ISIS, especially after the brutal beheading of James Foley made it somewhat clear. Syria’s enemy is the U.S. government who has destabilized many areas of Syria resulting in the deaths of at least 160,000 people. The US has aided the FSA which resulted in the creation of Al-Nusra and ISIS, all considered enemies of Syria. Now all terrorist organizations operating in Iraq and Syria are supposedly enemies of each other. Lebanon’s Daily Star reported this past May that:

    Al-Nusra Front and ISIS have in recent months fought intense, bloody battles against each other, particularly in eastern Syria on the border with Iraq. “We will follow the orders of… Ayman al-Zawahiri… to stop any attack from our side against ISIS, while continuing to respond whenever they attack Muslims and all that is sacred to them,” Al-Nusra said in a statement.

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is hard to comprehend. Syria is the enemy of the U.S. government and its terrorist organizations it has supported over the years. In this case, who is the enemy and who is the friend? The U.S. does not have a real friend in this fight because it already has what it wants, instability. All parties are expendable as we clearly seen with U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS in Iraq. Washington has friends in the Middle East, and that is Israel and the Gulf state dictatorships. Syria is back in the spotlight. Washington is determined to oust the Assad government and create a fragmented state as they did to Libya. By supporting Israel and its Gulf states allies including Turkey and Jordan militarily and economically, U.S. interests would be secure. In a sense, it is order out of chaos.


    Note: Republicans are willing to give the Obama administration an authorization to take military action against ISIS in Syrian territory. Historically, Both Republicans and Democrats have always agreed on foreign policy issues, especially when war is on the agenda.

    As we can see Obama is not different than Bush — just as Bush should hang for Iraq so too should Obama for the war crimes he is committing.

    But of course neither will.

    They are the front men for the real decision makers…. they have no power…. they dance to the tune of the money men…. the money men will not allow their boys to be hung… the money men control the UN … as we saw with Bush even when the lies were exposed nothing was done…not even a whiff of a prosecution…

    Of course Obama just let it go saying we need to move forward and forget about all those bad things….

    As he would – because he knows he would be asked to do the same things… and you really don’t want to set any precedents with Bush — cuz then you’d be next in the noose.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Fascinating: We arm rebels to fight Assad’s soldiers, but they get bogged down in Syria so they expand into Iraq, the very country we spent approx. 2 trillion fighting to rid their country of something that did not actually exist, WMD. We freed the Iraqi’s so they could wage civil war with sectarian suicide bombers, and never agree on anything at the govt. level, so they do not know what to do against ISIS so they throw down their gear and weapons and hope not to get beheaded while running for the hills.

      If it were up to me, I’d pull all the troops out of the middle east, South Korea, everywhere else outside the US and spend the money on renewables. Get as much of that stuff up as possible before post peak oil descent collapse occurs.

      • Paul says:

        That article suggests to me that the US is unraveling at the seams… they are actually fighting fires — that they started… it suggests total desperation … panic… a rabid beast forthing at the mouth lashing out with its fangs at anything and everything…

        Time for the world to crack the diseased beast in the back of the head with a heavy shovel.

  42. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    You might be interested in taking a look at Gene Logsdon’s blog on population. Briefly, raw ability to produce food isn’t usually the limiting factor. The limiting factor is usually really bad behavior on the part of humans…which leads to food shortages.

    Gene also notes that the Farmers of Forty Centuries still hold the records for food production.

    ‘I used to brandish Farmers of Forty Centuries as the ultimate last word in sustainable food production and the best answer to avoiding world hunger. I was wrong. That book describes farming in Asia in the early 1900s when more food was being produced there per acre than anything the gene manipulators or the organic producers today have come close to imitating. All it did was keep population growing so that more food had to be produced. China, especially during its wars with Japan in the 1930s, suffered horrendous genocidal depopulation which in turn disrupted its highly refined and intricate garden-farming agriculture. Hunger followed genocide, did not precede it.’

    I’ll just note that the productivity achieved by the farmers in eastern Asia used an awful lot of human labor as input. Modern humans are allergic to labor. Also, things might be different this time. Fossil fuels have empowered humans to do massive destruction of soils since the Asian farmers heyday. Also, I haven’t checked Gene’s assertions about production per acre…I know they were very high.

    Don Stewart
    PS Scary picture of a highway.


    • Stefeun says:

      Thanks Don,
      quote from your link: “Supplying humans with more food is not the solution. That just gives them more energy to kill each other.”
      Reminds me of John B. Calhoun’s “Behavior sink” experiment with rats ; he found out that overcrowding (and consequent destruction of the social links) is far more dangerous than lack of food, with respect to survival of the whole population. Quite disturbing for us.

      • sheilach2 says:

        Looking back at history, it seems food shortages leads to expansion into new territories & conflict for resources against those who already inhabit more favorable environments.
        More food leads to families having more children who also survive better on a more nutritious diet.
        This is why the “green revolution” lead to the the explosion of our population.

        Overcrowding leads to the group being too large to know all their neighbors, there are more places to hide, everyone is a stranger to most of the crowd. This allows more deviant behavior, robbery, murder, deception, violence & the perpetrator simply disappears into the crowd. Overcrowding also leads to more stress & aggression, we prefer to live in lower population densities & feel safer there.

        I think this lower stress & less crowding is what people remember about the “good ol’ days”, friendly neighbors, open spaces, everyone knew one another & were more helpful even though life was more difficult for most people, they were able to move elsewhere where resources were still more abundant.
        Now we are trapped with no other place to flee to, we are crammed into cities surrounded by strangers, competing against them for shrinking means of survival & soon survival for most of us will become impossible as oil & other resources decline & the climate becomes more hostile.

        We are now condemned to a economic & population collapse of our own making.

        This will prove we are not homo “sapiens” but ‘homo imprudentensis’.

        • xabier says:

          I propose: ‘Man the Fabricator’ – fabricator of clothes, cities, roads, machines, weapons drugs and……..lies and self-deceptions.

          Clever, but hardly ever wise.

          Capable of appreciating and even creating beauty, but mostly now suffocating the world in concrete, plastic, waste and poisons.

      • John Doyle says:

        Isaac Azimov had this to say;
        Very nice!!!

  43. B9K9 says:

    Paul says @ “It’s not that the green brigade actually believe this”

    Excellent observation – that is the crux of the issue. Here’s my maxim: anyone who is in any position to benefit from any proposal, whether it be technological, economic, political, etc, (a) knows the truth of our collective situation; and (b) doesn’t care, since they are motivated simply to “win”, damn the consequences.

    That’s why I tire of even of the good comments one finds here @ Gail’s blog. At some point, it just becomes a terribly moot issue. Imagine, for instance, the discussions taking place in Germany post Feb 2, 1943. For the vast majority of people, the war was still relevant, but to the leaders, they began making plans for their S American “staycations”.

    Same too here; what’s the point? What’s coming is coming, and there’s really nothing to do but watch it all unfold in rapt fascination. Misinformation in previously respected journals, delusional beliefs – both secular (ie renewables) and ecclesiastical, endless propaganda; all fodder for discussion, but at the end of the day, a complete waste of time.

    There has been mention of what serves as the core motivation – the next challenge. For me, the next challenge is to correctly predict & position how this unfolds. Not to survive, grow rich(er), but simply out of sheer self-indulgence: I want to be proved right. Since I know we’re all right, it’s merely a question of exercising certain tactical moves to be in proper position.

    • Your latest sentence redirects it again to question of timing.
      Since the service elite doesn’t care/not aware, being rather super busy making another few million bucks, getting elected or promoting some yet another get rich quick scheme, on the other hand the true owner’s class, the super elite, is a bit different animal. They own it all, propensity to survive regime change in country of residence is almost 100% (they can move ahead of time anyway as they own global assets), the chances to survive hot WWIII-IV are high since they own private bunkers, the chances to survive unconventional global disasters (supervolcano, asteroid, plague, borg invasion, ..) are also relatively high since they own it all including land (means to get there and protect it) in various climate zones and low pop areas. So in short these people just don’t rush anywhere, they feel homework has been done, therefore the system will unravel only at the utmost point of criticallity, is it now or in few decades? Frankly, to be of teenage to gen-xer I’ll be preping like crazy, but for older generations it’s beyond futile in terms of their own existence, perhaps only as given advice or helping hand to younger ones.

      In contrast the “J6P” is screwed mightily. You have to control at least some pitance capital of low hundred thousands bucks to settle on good acreage even “in the wild”. Not discussing the skills, attitudes and determination now, you need above all the time to get it in some “self rolling” state to be ready for near term scenarios, that’s many years in permaculture/tree food/animals.

      Once the ending game of musical chairs is open to be seen by a criticial mass for what it is, the rush to hard assets will be epic, both on macro and micro/human scale. It can’t end up any different then as firstly some scale of livng standard and population reduction, secondly formation of defensive-protective living arrangments ala quasi feudal order.

      What tactical moves do you perform to navigate such a mess and on what timescale?
      The wheels of fortune will be spinning like crazy, many “well prepared” will be swept right away by unforseen shrapnels of societal desintegration, while some even recently not schooled in these topics will suprisingly do great afterall.

      • Paul says:

        “You have to control at least some pitance capital of low hundred thousands bucks to settle on good acreage even “in the wild”. Not discussing the skills,”

        There are other options — a young person or someone in good health but with little money could join this http://wwoofinternational.org/ and volunteer and live on an organic farm now http://wwoofinternational.org/

        You might not get any money — but you won’t have any money when the SHTF anyway — so this would help you get used to what is coming.

        • Yep, thanks for the reminder about wwooferism. But you see there is a bottle neck, should the collapse evolve in more time compressed (fast) fashion, wwooferism likely won’t be able to catch up with the demand, and there is also upper limit of how much people per acreage you can invite on the land.

          In a way wwwooferism reminds me a bit about early-mid medieval system of monasteries, accumulation and beaconing of knowledge, frugality, “career path” in troubled times, etc.

          • kesar says:

            “In a way wwwooferism reminds me a bit about early-mid medieval system of monasteries, accumulation and beaconing of knowledge, frugality, “career path” in troubled times, etc.”

            In fact the medival monasteries were population regulation machines. Become a monk or nun – we provide food and shelter. In return we demand you stay in celibat – you don’t reproduce/replicate your DNA further. The idea was quite smart and it was one of the reasons Christianity achieved such civilisational success. Unfortunately it didn’t work for long. The church started to hoard assets and use them in conflict with Christ words and that caused reformist (Luter, Calvin) moves and Henry VIII started anglican schism.

            • The monasteries were a good place to send excess children that one could not support on the farm. Ideally, one would not want these excess children to have more children.

            • xabier says:


              Well, as you know, the monasteries and nunneries were a way for aristocrats great and small to get rid of excess children, above all daughters, cheaply. Also the vast numbers of estate workers didn’t reproduce (at least officially!).

              After a trip to see cousins in Mallorca I decided to read up a bit about the place. I was surprised to see that in the 19th century the monks were thought to be OK, as they only took what they needed from the peasants, so if they had a surplus they could make money selling it.

              But the peasants feared the new type of ‘liberal’ anti-Church, capitalist speculator, who would grind them into the dirt and take as much as he could for himself , leaving them to half-starve….

              If anyone takes a holiday in Catalonia in Spain before this all collapses , try to see the royal monastery-palace of Poblet: not only is it very beautiful and in good wine country, but you can see the great hall where the monastery farm workers were housed. Protected and well-fed, I am sure it was better in there than taking your chances in your home village when the armies were roaming.

      • Pedro says:

        I’m not convinced that the aware elite (if any) have viable plans for long term survival.
        ‘Owning’ land will mean nothing – just a document in a ruined? government building.
        ‘Possessing’ land will require a physical presence on the land and a means of doing something productive with it. You can’t make the land produce food by pointing a gun at it and pointing a gun at any human survivors is not going to give them the strength and expertise needed to grow food for you, your ‘army’ and themselves.

        On gen X and older generations I see this differently. Many Gen X’ers seem to know that things are very bad and have little hope for their futures, but those I know are not inclined to become preppers, just rebellious against the existing system.
        Older generations have lifetime experiences which help formulate a prepping mindset.
        For example, I (a 72 year old) am amused when I see preppers worrying about powering their refrigerators. When I was a kid, no one had refrigerators.
        Our existence is no more futile than that of the gen X’ers, both face the prospect of a short existence. For us oldies we can expect bodily deterioration in addition to what the breakdown of society causes.
        Neither generation should try to estimate how many years they have left. It’s a stupid exercise now and more so in uncertain times. Live for today.
        When I die, there will be a wealth of survival equipment for anyone still around, so my existence was not entirely futile.
        While I might get ‘swept away by societal disintegration’ I considered that in choosing my location – well away from population centres and plans to deal with any ‘societal confrontations’.
        I would certainly be surprised to see an unschooled ‘do great’ – so much practical knowledge needed, but hey, some people do seem to be born lucky!

        • Usually, they already own productive land, staffed and guarded, incl. infrustructure, cattle, wild life, woods, water.. That’s not a long term guarantee but a headstart against competition be it other quasi feudal warlords, migratory deprivants from cities etc. Understandably, it’s easier to send “that last chopper” to pickup agri expert and his family stucked somewhere to relocate on such existing property than starting anything post crash from scratch (hauling equipment from interim secure depot, scouting for land, building roads and basic structures) etc.

          What I meant by fast spining “wheels of fortune” as unschooled could do great, is more about those lucky fast learners and skilled improvisers against unlucky average perma preper folks.

          • Pedro says:

            Yes, such a setup would have a headstart and may be able to outlive the unprepared.
            I wonder though, what sort of community they would have or are planning for.
            If currently running BAU, which would be easiest for now, pay employees, buy stuff outside (using current ‘wealth’), use oil etc , but then they are no different from an existing (unprepared) population centre and would rely on cached food and ammo etc.

            They could be self contained ‘transition town’ oriented. I.E solar power, fruit trees, permaculture etc. Then they would be buying a bit more survival time but probably with more social tensions due to limited ‘consumer goods’ and degrading over time as solar hardware fails, crop failures etc.

            If serious about long term survival, it would need a much more primitive arrangement and it would have to be now, to learn the needed skills. Can’t see the elite getting a group together to live that way. Would be back to communes or Amish type setups.
            Might work if the elite happens to be a charismatic leader possibly with a religion to keep the peasants controlled aka Aum Rikyu style.

            If I were an informed elite, I would get that remote property and start learning survival basics with as small a community as possible = preferably just family. Stock up now tools, seeds etc with a view to easing into the more difficult aspects of ‘primitive’ living.
            The only reason an ‘elite’ would have an advantage would be to get occupation of land under the current system. But this doesn’t require a fortune, plenty of small acreages in depressed areas with enough land for a small group.
            Seems to me being an elite has only marginal advantages and probably a lot of disadvantages – i.e. too soft physically, too ‘entitled to the good life to adjust’ etc.

    • Paul says:

      The thing is… most people when this goes down .. will still not realize the cause… they will blame the bankers or the politicians…. we see it already on this forum — in spite of the fact that we all know what the cause is… the knives are unsheathed for these two groups of people…

      The only way people will realize why what has happened when it happens — is if the leaders of the world come clean — if the Obamas and Putins and the MSM — as this unfolds — get on the teeveee and explain exactly what we are facing….

      If they do not then the masses will go on looking for scape goats —- I can imagine that even when things are at their worst they will still hold out hope that there can be a recovery … that BAU can be refashioned.

      So any self-indulgence will be just that — because few others will ‘get it’ — even after they observe the exact things that many have predicted.

      The Long Emergency by Kuntsler written well before the 08 crisis started was like a crystal ball laying out exactly what was coming and why….

      Yet why is Mr Kuntsler not on CNBs and Bloomberg next to the likes of Roubini — Roubini is a sub moron by comparison because he foresaw the crash but he was and still is unable to connect the dots…. yet Kuntsler remains on the fringes… one of the greatest prophets of our time….

      I suppose it all comes back to despair… and hope… if we admit that Kuntsler is correct then there is no hope… only despair… because most people when asked what would happen if oil stopped to flow know and will readily admit (as many have to me) we are ^^%&#ed…

      So they cannot admit that — they must have hope… they must convince themselves that we can overcome this crisis…

      And I think they will go on believing that even when they are warming rat meat over a fire fueled by plastic garbage bags….

      Most will never understand or acknowledge the root of the problem

      • I see this as possibility but in the end it doesn’t matter that much.
        If there is less/no diesel availale it just means it’s jus less of it, people will have to adjust accordingly, yes they can curse sinorussian villlains or natoids for the recent nuclear war at the poor dinner table conversation but the reality of less will be omnipresent and self explanatory.

        • Paul says:

          I forgot to mention — the majority if not all humans — will be dead from starvation disease and violence… so there won’t be much of a discussion of anything I suppose.

      • xabier says:

        Well, politicians in stressed democracies get to ride to power on the back of scapegoats……

  44. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail
    Off at a tangent a little from my response to ‘hard to feed ourselves’ is a short video about zoos and some work being done to change them from simple consumers to producers.

    I will steal this quotation from Integrated Forest Gardening:
    ‘How we go about supporting ourselves, how we organize as human beings, and how we color the world through our creativity, should probably be at the top of the scale of permanence’. The ‘scale of permanence’ was a concept articulated in the 1950s by P.A. Yeomans in Australia. Simply: a forest is very permanent while a particular annual plant is ephemeral. The authors suggest that Yeomans work needs to be extended to take into account the culture that we humans create.

    The culture of a typical zoo is entirely consumptive. One of the largest lines on the income statement is the cost of buying food for the animals. Very frequently, zoos feed animals food they are not designed to eat, but which is cheap. Which leads to things such as primates having heart attacks from eating the equivalent of junk food. This short video is a nice introduction to an attempt to change the culture of a zoo in Florida, and, they hope, have a spillover effect on the culture of the humans who visit the zoo.


    Don Stewart

  45. theedrich says:

    The international Left has long enjoyed attacking “Big Oil” for not doing anything (or enough) to help failed states to become unfailed.  The attackers rarely even mention the ineradicable corruption, criminality and other cute characteristics of such states.  That would be politically incorrect.  However Big Oil’s efforts to do business of any kind in lands of undiscoverable honesty are, strange to say, limited by frustration on every side.  Shell, as a result, is finally throwing in the towel in Nigeria.  Reports Tom Whipple (2014 August 28):

    In other news, Royal Dutch Shell is calling it a day in Nigeria and is offering its oil producing properties there to local investors.  Shell has been plagued by incessant attacks on its oil pipelines for years and seems to have had enough.

    Tom also notes the sinking price of a barrel of petroleum, something that superficially looks like good news but is in fact profoundly ominous.  Alarmingly, “[s]ome analysts are predicting that NY oil prices will sag into the mid-$80s before the end of the year.

    Just another straw in the wind.