WSJ Gets it Wrong on “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True”

On Monday, September 29, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a story called “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True.” The story is written as if there are only two possible outcomes:

  1. The Peak Oil version of what to expect from oil limits is correct, or
  2. Diminishing Returns can and are being put off by technological progress–the view of the WSJ.

It seems to me, though, that a third outcome is not only possible, but is what is actually happening.

3. Diminishing returns from oil limits are already beginning to hit, but the impacts and the expected shape of the down slope are quite different from those forecast by most Peak Oilers.

Area of Confusion

In many people’s way of thinking, the economy is separate from resources and the extraction of those resources. If we believe economists, the economy can grow indefinitely, with or without the use of resources. Clearly, with this view, the price of these resources doesn’t matter very much. If one kind of resource becomes more expensive, we can substitute other resources, once the scarce resource becomes sufficiently high-priced that the alternative makes financial sense. Incomes can rise arbitrarily high–all it takes is for each of us to pay the other higher wages. And we can fix any problem with the financial system with more money printing and more debt.

This wrong version of how our economy works has been handed down through the academic world, through our system of peer review, with each academic researcher following in the tracks of previous academic researchers. As long as new researchers follow the same wrong thinking as previous researchers, their articles will be published. Economists were especially involved in putting together this wrong world-view, but politicians helped as well. They liked the outcomes of the models the economists produced, since it made it look like the politicians, with the help of economists, were all-powerful. All the politicians needed to do was tweak the financial system, and the world economy would grow forever. There was not even a need for resources!

Peak Oilers’ Involvement 

The Peak Oilers walked into a situation with this wrong world view, and started trying to fix pieces of it. One piece that was clearly wrong as the relationship between resources and the economy.  Resources, especially energy resources, are needed to make any of the goods and services we buy. If those resources started reaching diminishing returns, it would be harder for the economy to grow. The economy might even shrink. Dr. Charles Hall, recently retired professor from SUNY-ESF, came up with one measure of diminishing returns–falling Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI).

How would shrinkage occur? For this, Peak Oilers turned to the work of M. King Hubbert, who worked in an area of geology. He wrote about how supply of a resource might be expected to decline with diminishing returns.

Hubbert was not concerned about what effect diminishing returns would have on the economy–presumably because that was not his area of specialization. He avoided the issue by only modeling the special case where no economic impact could be expected–the special case where a perfect substitute could be found and be put in place, in advance of the decline caused by diminishing returns.

Figure 1. Figure from Hubbert's 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

Figure 1. Figure from Hubbert’s 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

In the example shown above, Hubbert assumes cheap nuclear would take over, before the decline in fossil fuels started. Hubbert even talked about making cheap liquid fuels using the very abundant nuclear resources, so that the system could continue as before.

In this special case, Hubbert suggested that the decline in resources might follow a symmetric curve, slowly declining in a pattern similar to its original rise in consumption, since this is the pattern that often occurs in extracting a resource in nature. Many Peak Oilers seem to believe that this pattern will happen in the more general case, where no perfect substitute is available, as well. A perfect substitute would need to be cheap, abundant, and involve essentially no cost of transition.

In the special case Hubbert modeled, Hubbert indicated that production would start to decline when approximately 50% of reserves had been exhausted. Peak Oilers often used this approach or variations on it (so called “Hubbert Linearization“), to forecast future production, and to determine dates when oil production would “peak.” Of course, as technology improved, additional oil became accessible, raising reserves. Also, as prices rose, resources that had never been economically extractible became extractible. Production continued beyond forecast peak dates, again and again.

Peak Oilers got at least part of the story right–the fact that we are in fact reaching diminishing returns with respect to oil. For this they should be commended. What they didn’t figure out is, however, is (1) how the energy-economy system really works, and (2) which pieces of the system can be expected to break first. This issue is not really the Peak Oilers fault–it is the result of starting with a very bad model of the economy and not understanding which pieces of that model needed to be fixed.

How the Economic System Really Works 

We are dealing with a networked economy, one that is self-organized over time. I would represent it as a hollow network, built up of businesses, consumers, and governments.

Figure 2. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks

Figure 2. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks

This economic system uses energy of various kinds plus resources of many kinds to make goods and services. There are many parts to the system, including laws, taxes, and international trade. The system gradually changes and expands, with new laws replacing old ones, new customers replacing old ones, and new products replacing old ones. Growth in the number of consumers tends to lead to a need for more goods and services of all kinds.

An important part of the economy is the financial system. It connects one part of the system with another and almost magically signals when shortages are occurring, so that more of a missing product can be made, or substitutes can be developed.

Debt is part of the system as well. With increasing debt, it is possible to make use of profits that will be earned in the future, or income that will be earned in the future, to fund current investments (such as factories) and current purchases (such as cars, homes, and advanced education). This approach works fine if an economy is growing sufficiently. The additional demand created through the use of debt tends to raise the prices of commodities like oil, metals, and water, giving an economic incentive for companies to extract these items and use them in products they make.

The economy really can’t shrink to any significant extent, for several reasons:

  1. With rising population, there is a need for more goods and services. There is also a need for more jobs. A growing networked economy provides increasing numbers of both jobs and goods and services. A shrinking economy leads to lay-offs and fewer goods and services produced. It looks like recession.
  2. The networked economy automatically deletes obsolete products and re-optimizes to produce the goods needed now. For example, buggy whip manufacturers are pretty rare today. Thus, we can’t quickly go back to using horse and buggy, even if should we want to, if oil becomes scarce. There aren’t enough horses and buggies, and there aren’t enough services for cleaning up horse manure.
  3. The use of debt for financing depends on ever-rising future output. If the economy does shrink, or even stops growing as quickly as in the past, there tends to be a problem with debt defaults.
  4. If debt does start shrinking, prices of commodities like oil, gold, and even food tend to drop (similar to the situation we are seeing now). These lower prices discourage  investment in creating these commodities. Ultimately, they lead to lower production and job layoffs. If deflation occurs, debt can become very difficult to repay.

Under what conditions can the economy grow? Clearly adding more people to the economy adds to growth. This can be done by adding more babies who live to maturity. It can also be done by globalization–adding groups of people who had previously only made goods and services for each other in limited quantity. As these groups get connected to the wider economy, their older, simpler ways of doing things tend to be replaced by more productive activities (involving more technology and more use of energy) and greater international trade. Of course, at some point, the number of new people who can be connected to the global economy gets to be pretty small. Growth in the world economy lessens, simply because of lessened ability to add “underdeveloped” countries to the networked economy.

Besides adding more people, it is also possible to make individual citizens “better off” by making workers more efficient at producing goods and services. Most people think of greater productivity as happening through technological changes, but to me, it really represents a combination of technological changes, plus a combination of inexpensive resources of various kinds. This combination often includes low-cost fossil fuels; abundant, cheap water supply; fertile soil; and easy to extract metal ores. Having these available makes possible the development of new tools (like new agricultural equipment, sewing machines, and vehicles), so that workers can become more productive.

Diminishing returns are what tend to “mess up” this per capita growth. With diminishing returns, fossil fuels become more expensive to extract. Water often needs to be obtained by desalination, or by much deeper wells. Soil needs more amendments, to be as fertile as in the past. Metal ores contain less and less ore, so more extraneous material needs to be extracted with the metal, and separated out. If population grows as well, there is a need for more agricultural output per acre, leading to a need for more technologically advanced techniques. Working around diminishing returns tends to make many kinds of goods and services more expensive, relative to wages.

Rising commodity prices would not be a problem, if wages would rise at the same time as the price of goods and services. The problem, though, is that in some sense diminishing returns makes workers less efficient. This happens because of the need to work around problems (such as digging deeper wells and removing more extraneous material from ores). For many years, technological changes may offset the effects of diminishing returns, but at some point, technological gains can no longer keep up. When this happens, instead of wages rising, they tend to stagnate, or even decline. Figure 3 shows that per capita wages have tended to grow in the United States when oil was below about $40 or $50 barrel, but have tended to stagnate when prices are above that level.

Figure 3. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

Figure 3. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

What Effects Should We Be Expecting from Diminishing Returns With Respect to Oil Supply?

There are several expected effects of diminishing returns:

  1. Rising cost of extraction for oil and for other commodities subject to diminishing returns.
  2. Stagnating or falling wages of all except the most elite workers.
  3. Ultra low interest rates to try to make goods more affordable for workers stressed by stagnating wages and high prices.
  4. Rising governmental debt, in an attempt to stimulate the economy and in order to provide programs for the many workers without good-paying jobs.
  5. Increasing concern about debt defaults, as the amount of debt outstanding becomes increasingly absurd relative to wages of workers, and as all of the stimulus debt runs its course, in countries such as China.
  6. A two-way problem with the price of oil. On one side is recession, when oil prices rise to unaffordable levels. Economist James Hamilton has shown that 10 out of 11 post-World War II recessions were associated with oil price spikes. He has also shown that there is good reason to expect that the Great Recession was related to the run-up in oil prices prior to 2007. I have written a related paper–Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis.
  7. The second problem with the price of oil is the reverse–price of oil too low relative to the cost of extraction, because wages are not high enough to permit workers to afford the full cost of goods made with high-priced oil. This is really a problem with inadequate affordability (called inadequate demand by economists).
  8. Eventual collapse of whole system.

There have been many studies of collapses of past economies. These collapses tended to occur when the economies hit diminishing returns after a long period of growth. The problems were often similar to ones we are seeing today: stagnating wages of common workers and growing debt. There were more and more demands on governments to fix the problems of workers, but governments found it increasingly difficult to collect enough taxes for all the needed programs.

Eventually, the economic systems have tended to collapse, over a period of years. The shape of resource use in collapses was definitely not symmetric. Figure 4 shows my view of the typical shape of the collapses in non-fossil fuel economies, based on the work of Peter Turchin and Surgey Nefedof.

Figure 4. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turkin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

Figure 4. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

In my view, the date of the drop in oil supply will be determined by what appear to on-lookers to be financial problems. One possible cause is that the oil price will be too low for producers (a condition that is occurring now). Governments will find it unpopular to raise oil prices, but at the same time, will be powerless to stop the adverse impacts the fall in price has on world oil supply.

Falling oil prices have especially adverse effects on oil exporters, because they depend on revenues from oil to fund their programs. We are already seeing this now, with the increased warfare in the Middle East, Russia’s increased belligerence, and the problems of Venezuela. These issues will tend to reduce globalization, leading to less world growth, and a greater tendency for the world economy to shrink.

Unfortunately, there are no obvious ways of fixing our problems. High-priced substitutes for oil (that is, substitutes costing more than $40 or $50 barrel) are likely to have as adverse an impact on the economy as high-priced oil. The idea that energy prices can rise and the economy can adapt to them is based on wishful thinking.

Our networked economy cannot shrink; it tends to break instead. Even well-intentioned attempts to reduce oil usage are likely to backfire because they tend to reduce oil prices and have other unintended effects. Furthermore, a use of oil that one person would consider frivolous (such as a vacation in Greece) represents a needed job to another person.

Should Peak Oilers Be Blamed for Missing the “Real” Oil Limits Story?

No! Peak oilers have made an important contribution, in calling the general problem of diminishing returns in oil supply to our attention. One of their big difficulties was that they started out working with a story of the economy that was very distorted. They understood how to fix parts of the story, but fixing the whole story was beyond their ability. The following chart shows a summary of some ways their views and my views differ:

Figure 5. Author's summary of some differences in views.

Figure 5. Author’s summary of some differences in views.

One of the areas that Peak Oilers tended to miss was the fact that an oil substitute needs to be a perfect substitute–that is, be available in huge quantity, cheaply, without major substitution costs–in order not to adversely affect the economy and in order to permit the slow decline rate suggested by Hubbert’s models. Otherwise, the problems with diminishing returns remain, leading to declining wages and rising costs of making goods and services.

One temptation for Peak Oilers has been to jump on the academic bandwagon, looking for substitutes for oil. As long as Peak Oilers don’t make too many demands on substitutes–only EROEI comparisons–wind and solar PV look like they have promise. But once a person realizes that our true need is to keep a networked economy growing, it becomes clear that such “solutions” are woefully inadequate. We need a way of overcoming diminishing returns to keep the whole system operating. In other words, we need a way to make wages rise and the price of finished goods fall relative to wages; there is no chance that wind and solar PV are going to do this for us. We have a much more basic problem than “new renewables” can solve. If we can’t figure out a solution, our economy is likely to reach what looks like financial collapse in the near term. Of course, the real reason is diminishing returns from oil, and from other resources as well.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,114 Responses to WSJ Gets it Wrong on “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True”

  1. VPK says:

    MORE Shocking revelations concerning Fukushima

    Dr. Uzi Even, nuclear scientist: “I do not trust the reporting system… In fact from the beginning of this crisis… Japanese authorities were trying to play down the danger… The worst scenario that I predicted happened… I claimed from the beginning that the information given to the public is either erroneous or misleading… The first few days they said, ‘Everything is under control, nothing will happen, you don’t have to be worried.’ I doubted it from the moment of the earthquake.

    Japanese journalists did what Tajima calls “announcement journalism” in reporting on the crisis. He says they were reporting the press releases of big companies and the people in power. And he’s not the only one who thinks so.
    “I am a newscaster, but I couldn’t tell the true story on my news program,” says Jun Hori, a former anchor for NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster.
    Hori says the network restricted what he and other journalists could say about Fukushima and moved more slowly than foreign media to report on the disaster and how far radiation was spreading. The attitude in the newsroom was not to question official information
    “I was on the ground in Fukushima, and a lot of people kept asking me, why didn’t you tell us earlier about what is happening?” Hori says.
    Out of frustration, Hori started tweeting uncensored coverage. “I got a huge response,” he says, “but then my superiors said the NHK was getting complaints from politicians about what I was saying. They told me I had to stop.”

    Sure, Robert, no need to be concerned. I like green slime too for lunch, like yourself.

  2. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    Here are some final thoughts about Limits to Growth, the Neuroscience of Change, and Brian Little’s new book Me, Myself, and Us.

    Little’s last chapter is titled Self Reflections: The Art of Well-Being. He brings together all the threads which have been developed throughout the book, and shows how they come together when we pursue ‘personal projects’. ‘I now want to sharpen this proposal that the SUSTAINABLE pursuit of our CORE projects shapes the quality of our lives—our health and happiness and well-being, broadly defined.’

    ‘First, we can identify those projects that you rate as most meaningful to you, on bases such as their importance, their consistency with your values, and whether they are self-expressive for you. Those projects that are meaningful in each of these different aspects can be regarded as core projects. Another way of looking at core projects is to determine how each of your projects relate to the other projects that you are currently pursuing—in other words, by looking at your personal project system as a whole. Shake a tightly linked core project, and the rest of your undertakings rattle as well.’

    He identifies three strategies for sustainable pursuit, in a world where our environment is changing:
    Adaptive reconstruing
    Context monitoring

    I won’t try to summarize each of those points, just hint a little at them to lure you into buying the book. For example, in ‘adaptive reconstruing’, he relates two stories. The first is how the scientist Ellen Langer was able to change the health outcomes of hotel room maintenance workers by pointing out to them that what they were doing was actually pretty good exercise. The second story about reconstruing is from the scientist Jane Dutton, in the School of Business at Michigan, who uses her gardening to keep her thinking straight and her efforts on target.

    In terms of self-change, I would add to what Brian has to say, the excellent work of Kelly McGonigal in her CD set The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion Based Program for Personal Transformation.

    A more extensive quote from Brian on the Context Monitoring strategy:
    ‘We saw that a sense of control or agency is generally a positive thing. But we concluded that it was adaptive only if based on an accurate reading of the actual environmental contingencies within which our lives are embedded. Are those button hooked up? Are those aspirations based on an optimal degree of illusion? In short, have we scanned our context properly?’

    To test your ability to monitor context, I recommend Charles Hugh Smith’s essays on how digitization is changing the world:
    Charles’ essays (this and others) don’t sound much like Limits to Growth do they? I think that those who are capable of reading and examining the actual world with an open mind are likely to be more resilient in whatever environment is coming our way. Those who fling slogans at Charles to ‘prove’ that he is wrong will be less adaptable. (I’m not going to write my own take on these issues, just pointing out the inflexibility of the constructs that many people use…from cornucopians to doomers.)

    My conclusions:
    First, we need core personal projects if we hope to live well.
    Second, we must be capable of modifying our core personal projects both as we encounter internal barriers and as the environment changes.
    Third, the environment is currently changing very rapidly, under the influence of both depletion and technological innovation and social upheavals. Consequently, making firm predictions is probably a bad idea, as Fred Kirschenmann told us on Saturday evening. Thinking in terms of the issues is likely to be more productive, as Fred suggested.

    Don Stewart

    • Steven Rodriguez says:

      Thank you for your clear minded summary of the landscape. Much as I agree with Gail, JMG and others analyses of depletion and change, it is also clear to me that trying to predict the when, how and how bad (or good?) of change can interfere with perceptions and therefore interfere with responses to change. It is easy to let either the doom and gloom or the cornucopia intoxicate us. While the challenges are formidable, the potential to intervene in our fate exists both at the level of resources and ingenuity. It may seem nothing but a miracle will save us. But we tend to gravitate to extremes when stirred by adversity. Rather than miracles, maybe only some moments of grace are required, as you said earlier in the comments.

  3. Paul says:

    Wow… no wonder oil is tanking:

    The Japanese economy shrunk 7.1 per cent between April and June compared with a year ago after Mr Abe’s government raised consumption tax from 5 per cent to 8 per cent.

  4. Paul says:

    Oil Workers Earning $179,000 Expose Norway to Crude Crash

    Norway, where oil helped create one of the world’s most stable and prosperous societies, finds itself among the most exposed to falling crude prices.

    Though the blessings of energy wealth have hardly turned to a curse, the industry’s highest labor costs, which saw the average offshore worker earn $179,000 last year, threaten to curb investment as oil tumbles.

    In August, Helge Lund, chief executive officer of state oil company Statoil ASA (STL), remarked that while $100-a-barrel oil once provided an excuse for champagne, it now barely covered the expense of new projects.

    Two months later, with crude hovering near $85 a barrel and Lund, the leading figure in Norway’s oil industry for 10 years, moving to a smaller British competitor, lower prices risk undermining economic growth and cutting tax receipts.

    Norway has already been coping with 13 years of production declines from its aging North Sea fields and reduced revenues will imperil further developments to replace that oil.

    Three projects led by state-owned Statoil, already having to borrow and sell assets to cover dividend payments, are at risk, said Jarand Rystad, managing partner of Oslo-based consultant Rystad Energy.

    In the Arctic’s Barents Sea, the already twice-delayed, multi-billion Castberg oil project’s break-even price is between $70 and $80 a barrel, he said, putting it dangerously close to last week’s lows.

    Brutal Fall

    “It will depend on the brutality of the oil price fall,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s going to happen sooner or later, but it could be put on hold for a while.”

    Oil’s slump has wide implications for the Scandinavian country that serves as a model of social-democratic enterprise and sober policy making. Oil and gas activity accounts for almost a quarter of the economy and fills the coffers of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund that stands at more than $835 billion and owned about 1.3 percent of the world’s publicly traded companies.

    Taxes from energy production help finance generous government spending at home and aid overseas. At 1.1 percent of national income in 2013, Norway devoted more to overseas development spending that any other industrialized country, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

    The flip side is all that wealth has also made the nation of 5 million the planet’s most expensive place to live and do business after Switzerland, according to the World Bank.
    Sharp Relief

    As Norway struggles to halt the decline in oil production, the cost challenges in an offshore industry that employs the world’s best-paid workers has come into sharp relief.

    Norway’s high-wage culture and a tradition of strong unions in the offshore industry meant workers earned almost twice as much as in the neighboring U.K., according to recruitment agency Hays Plc. (HAS)

    “Norway is probably more vulnerable to a fall in oil prices because costs are undeniably higher,” said Teodor Sveen Nilsen at Swedbank AB. “If the oil price stays at the current level for a while, we can take for granted that there will be changes in investments.”

    The Norwegian oil industry’s cost challenges aren’t unique: companies like France’s Total SA (FP) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) are slashing spending after a decade of rising costs have eaten away at shareholder returns. Still, labor costs linked to offshore workers’ shift patterns of two weeks on, four weeks off make drilling a well here more expensive than anywhere else, according to a government-commissioned report in 2012.
    Very Damaging

    “We’ve incurred a general cost level on the Norwegian shelf that can prove very damaging,” said Stein Lier Hansen, head of the Federation of Norwegian Industries. “We have extremely higher wages than others.”

    Like its international competitors, Statoil is cutting planned spending, initiating a sweeping efficiency program designed to save $1.3 billion a year by 2016.

    Statoil’s cuts have already created waves in Norway, where it operates more than 70 percent of production, causing thousands of job cuts in the service and supplies industry.

    Despite that, former CEO Lund was seen as one the country’s foremost businessmen after spending a decade boosting Statoil’s international production to compensate for declining output at home.

    This week, he unexpectedly quit to run BG Group Plc (BG/), where he could earn more than $20 million a year. Another outcome, perhaps, of the economic equality that underpins Norway’s social model.

    “The Norwegian emphasis on a higher degree of pay equality than what we see in other societies is something that we’ll need to put weight on,” Statoil Chairman Svein Rennemo said last week, discussing the search for a successor.
    Investment Drop

    Total investments in Norway’s oil industry could fall by as much as 18 percent next year from a record 227 billion kroner ($34.7 billion), according to the country’s statistics bureau.

    While state-controlled Statoil sees the oil-price decline as temporary, it also believes it’s made cost cuts even more important, Arne Sigve Nylund, executive vice president for development and production in Norway, said in an interview in Bergen Oct. 16.

    Spending cuts by Statoil and others have already caused delays and lower oil prices will further impact marginal projects, said Bente Nyland, the head of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

    That could have consequences for Norway’s future production. New discoveries in the past decade, like the North Sea’s Johan Sverdrup field, the biggest Norwegian find in decades, promise to halt the decline in crude production and even boost it until about 2025.
    What Next

    The question is what happens next.

    A decision by Norway’s previous government to raise taxes on oil companies last year was “pretty bad” timing, Sveen Nilsen said. The tax increase, cited by Statoil as another reason for delaying Castberg, has increased political risk in a country that’s made predictability one of its most attractive trademarks, oil companies have said.

    Still, Norway remains competitive in the battle for investments with an average cash cost of $43 a barrel across the whole industry, Rystad said. Total expenses in Norway are only 4 percent higher than in U.K. when the higher cost of labor is excluded, he said.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Mikael Holter in Oslo at

    To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at Keith Gosman

    • Jarle B says:

      “A decision by Norway’s previous government to raise taxes on oil companies last year was “pretty bad” timing, Sveen Nilsen said. The tax increase, cited by Statoil as another reason for delaying Castberg, has increased political risk in a country that’s made predictability one of its most attractive trademarks, oil companies have said.”

      This tax rise was done as a measure against our “dutch disease”-economy. Hasn’t had much impact this far.

    • Thanks! Good article!

  5. Paul says:

    California: Paradise Burning

  6. Christian says:

    What could had happened to Nafeez Ahmed, who’s blog at the Guardian (earth-insight) is paralized since july?

  7. edpell says:

    The fast way to deal with over population is a bio engineered die-off. Why hasn’t anyone done this?

    • Paul says:

      Because if you kill off a large chunk of the population you collapse the economy — you get a deflationary spiral to hell. BAU is like a cancer — it must grow forever.

    • Bioengineered die-off isn’t a great idea. For one thing, it may hit people it is not intended to hit. For another, the economy will collapse from fewer people, just as it will from less oil.

  8. Christian says:

    There was an article on the main Arg. newspaper on low oil price and its impact on investment in Vaca Muerta. I made a comment highligting the importance of taking care of conventional production given the uncertain future of world finances and parts supplies. And I recieved one comment, just saying “Did you told that to Galuccio???” (Galuccio: YPF’s CEO). I googled the guy who responded: air force staff

  9. Paul says:

    The Federal Reserve Swiftly Enters To Stop The U.S. Stock Market Decline
    On Tuesday morning, the Federal Reserve woke up and saw the stock market was going in a strange direction it was not supposed to be going; down.

    Action was taken immediately, beginning with San Francisco Fed President John Williams who said, “if we get a sustained, disinflationary forecast…..then I think moving back to additional asset purchases in a situation like that should be something we seriously consider.”

    The stock market regained its footing on Tuesday and by Thursday afternoon it was time for another Fed member to turbocharge the rally. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard stepped up and said, “we have to make sure that inflation expectations remain near our target. And for that reason, I think a reasonable response by the Fed in this situation would be to…..pause on the taper at this juncture, and wait until we see how the data shakes out in December.”


    Only two weeks ago there was an across the board consensus coming from the Federal Reserve that not only should QE be stopped, but the Fed should immediately begin raising rates in 2015. The Fed’s dual mandate is to promote low unemployment combined with stable inflation (discussing the absurdity of this dual mandate is beyond the scope of this discussion). The number of people applying for unemployment in the U.S. this week fell to a 14 year low. Combine that with a falling cost of living due to the energy decline and the Fed’s dual mandate looks right on track.

    However, there was one sector of the U.S. economy that experienced severe deflation this week: the U.S. stock market. The Fed’s immediate reaction to talk up the market with unemployment improving and inflation falling reveals the Fed’s true mandate: promoting a higher S&P 500 close at the end of every trading week.

    The most interesting part of this sham is when the real sell-off arrives market participants will see that the Fed is actually powerless to stop it.

    There is one last option, the “nuclear” option, that can be employed during a stock market collapse; large scale purchases of U.S. stocks through QE (printing money to buy stocks).

    This is the weapon of last resort, and I expect it to be used in the latter stages of the coming crisis in the massively overpriced U.S. markets. Japan is already employing this strategy with their central bank currently in the market every month making stock purchases (alongside their enormous bond buying program).

    So how will this all play out and under what timeline?

    I have absolutely no idea. If anyone tells you they do, politely excuse yourself from the conversation and walk away.

    We are so far away from charted territory and so far away from anything that remotely resembles a real market it is beyond impossible to try and figure out how the market will react in the short term to every central bank intervention.

    In the long term, what we do know with assurance is that every central bank intervention fundamentally weakens the general economy and financials markets. It is a poisonous intravenous fluid continuously injected into the arm of the financial system.

    It is fairly simple to understand that a debt problem cannot be solved with more debt and printed money; it will only create a larger and delayed crisis in the future. Yet, after years and years of a market rally combined with central bank board members holding fancy economics degrees telling the world they have everything 100% under control, people believe the wizard is real and there is no reality waiting behind the curtain. In the end there will be chaos.

    For more on the coming change to voting Fed members (who will be promoting additional QE) see:

    • I would encourage everyone to see the 7:45-minute video of Jim Richards being interviewed on Bloomberg, at (linked from the piece linked above).

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      I agree with every aspect of your analysis with the exception of assumption about FED intention and future action. I would add those to the “the who knows what will happen” list. Yes what is in place is completely removed from the idea of free markets and supply and demand. What is the binder that binds this illusion together?. Energy and the unit of denomination of energy US$. The illusion has no substance but the binder is effect making the illusion real also. From a physics point of view omost everything in the universe has this characteristic. From spiritual point of view this is also common the spirit is greater than just a gathering of molecules grouped into a life form.
      As long as the dollars printed by the fed are accepted for energy the illusion will have substance, if the energy ends or the representation of energy the US$ loses credibility the illusion will disappear. This could go on a very long time or end tomorrow.

    • edpell says:

      Oaul, borrowing can fix the economy IF it produces more than 1.00 $/1.00 $ borrowed. On the other hand if it is below 1.00 then it just buys short terms gain for long term pain. If it is less than 0.00 that is a negative number than it produces short term pain and is pointless. We are in that middle region now. In the screw the kid region.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Great post, Paul. I posted the same article at peak oil dot com. The stock market is the last vestige making things look better than they really are. I expected the stock market to fall farther recently but somehow it was saved.

      • Paul says:

        Don’t fight the Fed… or the BOH… or the PBOC… or the ECB….

        Under no circumstances will they stand by and allow the markets to crash…

        And the big money knows this — so even though the markets look like huge short opportunities they know that is a fools game… better just to hold your nose — remain long — and dance while the music plays…

        The only question is – how long can this continue before it blows up? Perhaps a very long time….

  10. Pingback: Comment on WSJ Gets it Wrong on “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True” by Don Stewart | Latest News

  11. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    This is a note from a talk this evening by Fred Kirschenman, who has been a leading advocate of sustainable agriculture for several decades. Fred is currently at Stone Barns in New York, has been at the U of Iowa, and still farms about 2000 acres organically in Iowa.

    Fred began his talk with two assertions:
    First, humans have a poor record at forecasting specifics
    Second, we have a better record in anticipating issues.
    So Fred will direct his comments to the issues, and leave speculative what we as a species will actually do in response.

    He addressed the issue of ‘feeding 9 billion’. He noted that we currently produce enough to feed 10 billion. So the ‘issue’ is something cooked up to serve some purpose other than humanitarian concern. When you see 7 or 8 gigantic corporations lined up behind some program to ‘feed the 9 billion’, you should hang onto your wallet.

    He also noted that only 30 percent of the colonists in America favored a war of revolution against Britain. Which just shows that a determined minority can succeed.

    Then he reviewed where food has been and where it is now and where it MUST go in the fairly near future:
    Hunter/Gatherers harvested 20 calories per calorie expended
    Slash and burn agriculture harvested 10 calories per calorie expended, but was land intensive.
    Beginning in the early 20th century, we began to spend ‘old calories’ and harvested 1 calorie per 10 calories expended.

    He further expanded the definition of ‘old calories’: fossil fuels, fossil water in aquifers (20 years of Ogallala water left at current usage rates), topsoil, minerals (citing Ugo Bardi), and stable climate.

    Fred thinks that Climate Change is the 600 pound gorilla in the room. He notes that 92 percent of the land in Iowa is devoted to corn or beans. We have all our eggs in one basket, and production is dependent on a stable climate. But we now see that the climate has become unstable, and scientists tell us we have only 15 years to avoid catastrophic change. Fred thinks we have longer to deal with things such as soil depletion, so Climate Change is the near term threat. 450 dollar oil is a longer term threat.

    Fred points to a symposium of leading food and agriculture scientists who concluded that the 2007-8 crisis was a ‘food systems failure’. Due to the ‘financialization of food’.

    Having rehearsed the bad news, he gets into the reasons to be hopeful. He calls them ‘Beacons of Light’. Not because what these people are doing will necessarily work in your particular circumstances, but because their work is illuminating principles which you can apply in your particular circumstances.

    First, he lists the historical heroes of organic agriculture: Sir Albert Howard, Rudolf Steiner, Lady Eve Balfour, Rodale, Liberty Hyde Bailey, and Aldo Leopold. Then he cites some leaders of the current discussion: The Resilience Alliance, and Ecological Economics (e.g., Herman Daly and Steady State Economics). The research at NCSU on cover crops, which has led some farms in the midwest to increase their rainwater infiltration rate from half an inch per hour to 8 inches per hour. (My note: soil erosion mostly happens in severe downpours. Once soil has absorbed as much rainfall as it can, the rest ‘sheets off’, taking soil with it. Half an inch is just a moderate thunderstorm. 8 inches is a biblical downpour.) Wes Jackson and the The Land Institute developing perennial staple crops. The Health Care professions who are weighing in on the disastrous consequences of industrial agriculture and food. He specifically cited Daphne Miller, who teaches at the U of California.

    A student in the audience asked him ‘What makes you think that a political system which doesn’t even respect people will respect the environment?’ His answer: It will have to come from the Arts. He talked about the head of the Philosophy Department in Oregon who has turned philosophical concepts into stories. And a movie called The Symphony of the Soil. He recalls a conversation with Aldo Leopold where Aldo said that change must come from a ‘social evolution’. Then he cites Thomas Berry, who said that ‘moments of crisis are moments of grace’. Fred thinks we may see enough ‘moments of grace’ in the next 2 decades to move people in the direction of sustainability. He closed by stating that he travels around a lot, sees a lot of young people who understand things better than previous generations, and has hopes that we will soon reach the 30 percent that fueled the American Revolution.

    Don Stewart

    • edpell says:

      NO! Human population density is the 600 pound gorilla in the room. Everything else is just consequence and details.

      • Christian says:

        Is it this gorilla human population density (which means people must scatter and just see a few people, most acquaintances to never be seen again) or just human population (and it’s massive deaths which are to be feared)?

    • Steven Rodriguez says:

      and you haven’t even mentioned bio char yet. With the possibility to sequester atmosphereic CO2. Pre-conquest peoples of Brazil restored impoverished rain forest soils with Biochar or terra prieta. I believe the blend of clay shards and high organic colloids were in fact charred chamber pots- a septic system that solved both the soil fertility and sanitation issues that communities in the water-logged tropics face.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear Steven Rodriquez
        I am not an expert on biochar, nor stoves in general. There are things about the subjects which interest me. For example, a rocket mass stove seems to burn everything, leaving no bio char. So is there some tradeoff between getting the most efficient heat and gaining the advantages of biochar?

        Albert Bates showed some pictures on his site of a shallow earthen basin with some wood burning in the center which becomes biochar because the shape of the heat currents generates the oxygen starvation needed. But the heat from an open fire is essentially wasted, except for the biochar product.

        Then there are all the people making biochar by putting air-tight canisters of wood in cooking and heating fires.

        I know just enough to ask (probably dumb) questions….Don Stewart

        • Steven Rodriguez says:

          I believe, if you read the Charles Mann penned articles in Nat Geo and His book 1491, that the Amazonian civilizations burried the pottery with hydrocarbon sources (trees, what have you) in a pit to get the slow “pyrolitic” burn that produces more charcoal than heat to atmosphere.

          I am also fascinated by the rocket stove info you can find on-line. I live near an agricultural area and burn cast off wood and wood from burnpiles in a regular woodstove. I figure I might as well be warmed if that wood is going5to be torched anyway. You would be amazed at the amount of energy that goes up in smoke in our agricultural belts (moslty orchard and vinyard crops).

          But rocket stoves are propelled by narrow copice wood, cuttings form trees and shrubs that have been managed, and arguably adapted, for frequent cutting for use by humans in fire, fence, furniture, cobb wall and other uses.

          When you really think about it, and try to live it, you realize we were not made to live in houses. Houses are filthy. None of the human waste or stain, nor waste from other animals for that matter, lasts long in the ecosystem. Free nutrients, like any energy windfall or store, never last long. However, at population levels that approach civilization, sanitation does become an issue for us-hence my specualtion about the presence of feces in biochar source. Maybe they fired with wood to get things going. Not sure if the researchers looked for “coprolites” that survived the fire…

          I cannot help but wonder whether we might, with all the information we have gathered, accumulated and stored, contradict the modern assumptions of comfort and inefficient energy use and find a way to live in smaller simple dwellings heated by rocket stoves, surrounded by orchards of fruits and medicinal plants, bordered on the outskirts by concentric rings of labor intensive cereal and animal cultivation, congregate and send their children to stone malls, government halls and universities with solar panels on their roofs, funnel their technological waste to efficient metal recapture and separation facilities, manage population growth and use our ingenuity and ability to store wealth for developing the means to heal rather than the means to destroy. Or have we learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING these long years?

          • Spot on Steven!

          • ordinaryjoe says:

            I am constantly amazed by the heating that can be achieved with passive solar in a small well insulated room. It doesnt work everywhere but where the sun shines in the winter it produces steady heat. Where Walter lives is probably the most beautiful county in the USA but passive solar wont work. Hes got water and it doesnt get that cold though. Windows are nice for light. Most wont put black painted concrete blocks in a 2×8 frame behind their south facing windows. Use your windows facing other directions for light.

            I am playing with another technique. Scavenge windows. Build frames for the windows out of scavenged materials. Insulate the frames with scavenged or low embodied energy insulation. Scavenged sheet metal inside painted black. Metal is used because we want to get the heat out not store it.

            A computer fan uses 10 20 watts. A ball bearing computer fan usually has a life of about 6 years continuous use which means some models have basicly their whole life on them when scavenged.

            Suns out. Your energy trap gets hot. Move the hot air into the structure with a closed loop. Suns not out energy trap goes cold. Stop moving air. Your energy trap does not have to be heated. If the energy trap gets broke your structure ins not compromised. Are the gains large? No. Are they much larger than the 15 watts required to move the air. Yes.

            These techniques require elimination of convection loss and plants (which require light) To provide O2. Not warm enough?

            1. Insulate your body
            2; Make the insulated space smaller
            3. Increase insulation of structure.

            The law of diminishing returns is indeed true in structure insulation but what is the baseline?


            Yes the gains are much larger for the first R6 of insulation than the last R6 but you are comparing to outside.

            If you get the R up to 40-50 you will like it. Use the lowest embodied insulative materials available. Insulating is not hard. Doing it without creating condensation problems requires some thought.

            Save your fuel for cooking. If you get your structure tight the CO risk goes way up for any combustion. Venting is not optional.

            There is a bonfire everyday. It is in the sky. Are you grateful? I am.

          • ordinaryjoe says:

            PS energy trap will still work to some extent without the computer fan. Air comes out of the trap high goes int the structure high air leaves the structure low enters trap low. Another way tight buildings pay off. Obviously flows need to stop when the trap gos cold.

          • ordinaryjoe says:

            “When you really think about it, and try to live it, you realize we were not made to live in houses”

            A while ago back I was reading.Some Tom Brown. He mentioned that he felt totally comfortable without structures because he could just curl up in a snow drift. so i tried it. I lasted a couple hours. I wouldnt bet your life (or your fingers) on the technique.

            Not that snow is not a great insulator. It is. If drifts can be utilized nature provides the insulation exactly when its most needed.

            You want a good experience. Pretend you are homeless for a weekend. A homeless person knows exactly how blissful a structure- any structure- can be. I would guess the average homeless guy has about a hundred times better chance if SHTF. SHTF everyday for him.

            I have read accounts of native peoples who relied mostly on personal garments to stay warm in the far North utilizing only minimal structure till sufficient snowfall to build a snow shelter. . By those accounts that period was much dreaded.

            You aint going to find a person of native heritage up north without a good sleeping bag and shelter nowadays.

            • Paul says:

              This is bordering on absurdity …

              What were we made to live in – caves?

              As Joe points out — if anyone wants to trade their house for a cave give it a try for a weekend…

              Or why not move to a cave permanently — and trying growing food out front of the cave — can cooking food over a wood fire made by rubbing two sticks together…

              The human species has been preoccupied with trying to live a less difficult life for eons… you know why?

              Because living without modern conveniences is a brutal way of life — it means you struggle — you suffer — and you die at a much younger age (a man lived till 48 in the US at the turn of the last century)

              From what I read here I suspect most of the people who wish for a return to this are well past 48 — how long do you think you will last when BAU shuts down and you are left to fend for yourself?

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              “Because living without modern conveniences is a brutal way of life — it means you struggle — you suffer —”

              Its not the loss of conveniences that scares me. Its the loss of calories. Without calories you can not work.

              Unfortunately you are pretty much right Paul. The most basic structure I can think of is earth structure. My comments do not refer to a modern earth structures which are fantastic but a makeshift earth structures. A ditch in the ground, logs pulled across the top, polyethylene sheet across the logs, earth across the poly sheet to block the sun.

              A structure like this by my standards would cross the threshold between brutal and enjoyable. It would by no means be ideal. Without the polyethylene sheet it crosses back over the line. There is no replacement for modern building materials. Yes we can return to the Sod houses of the past. But calories and the infrastructure to produce those calories, for those structures of the past, are gone. How many calories a day does a human need to manufacture a sod house without modern building materials? All those days he will not be H/G calories or growing them so there must be a surplus. Where will the steel come from for his tools? If collapse occurs the most fruital activity will be scavenging the remnants of the fossil fuel age for many decades. Those very useful items and the embodied energy they contain can never be replaced.

              The consumption that is available to us will not be available to the children of the future. While I understand the philosophy behind “enjoy it while it lasts” I can not embrace continued acts of consumption. All the joy has left acts of consumption for me, they are empty. If the consumption produces a structure that will last 7 or 10 generations it loses some emptiness but even that is becoming a empty act for me. There is only one guiding principle that gives some meaning to my existence. Consume less. It is the principle that allows me to enjoy my time. The simple things. A walk. A bike ride A meal of rice. They are gifts.

            • Paul says:

              Agree. It is rather depressing to think that the only option we have is to consume more…

          • Christian says:

            Good one! I’ve just made a rocket stove and did the first cooking two days ago. It’s fantastic, now I know what to do with all this wood scrap!

    • Steven Rodriguez says:

      I hold with your moments of grace supposition. Experience tells me this is so.

  12. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Geoff Lawton has just posted a video from a wonderful home garden in Calgary, Canada. You can see the video by going to

    You will see a list of available videos. The last one in the list is A Canadian Urban Garden. Click on that, and then fill in the forms to gain access. You will have to give your email.

    I want to call your attention to a few things:
    A. I don’t understand exactly how they are making the soil that you see under the tarp. I believe it is from kitchen scraps used in the passive greenhouse which contains the rocket mass heater.
    B. Wherever and however they are making the soil, it bears on the question of ‘how fast can we make soil?’ A typical answer is one inch every 500 years. That rate of soil formation is from rock weathering, which is very slow. A more relevant question is ‘how fast can we turn very bad soil into good garden soil?’. And you get an answer as you see the garden soil which has been made compared to the awful stuff with which they started. Geoff sometimes quotes the figure of one to two inches per year for the creation of good garden soil from bad soil, such as subsoil. Soil creation is particularly easy in urban areas because one can simply collect the organic matter that is being thrown away by neighbors and use it to build one’s own soil.
    C. Note the fairly elaborate water collection and distribution system. Calgary is fairly dry, and irrigation is probably essential.
    D. Note the use of trellises. Trellised plants use more nutrients per square inch of soil than do sprawling plants. Success with trellises, without loads of commercial fertilizer, requires the rapid recycling of nutrients. In short, the trellised plants take the nutrients out and create leaves and fruits which are promptly returned to the soil either by composting or collection of urine. An adult human essentially only borrows nutrients, which are used for metabolic functions and then released as waste, mostly in the urine. With a fast enough recycling rate, one could grow Jack in the Beanstalk’s bean climbing up into the clouds.
    E. The owners do not claim to be growing fruits and vegetables during the very cold and dark time of the year. I don’t know their exact figures, but to survive year round in Calgary would probably require more land plus a serious food preservation effort.
    F. Note the relatively barren appearance of some of the neighboring yards. They look like the ones from Ferguson, MO, that I posted a few months ago.
    G. Rocket mass heaters are extraordinarily efficient. Note how the exhaust never gets hot. (You wouldn’t want to touch a car exhaust).

    H. As the number of jobs falls and labor force participation rates decline, then a rational family strategy would probably include especially the non-wage earning members becoming more involved in gardening. The property in Geoff’s video shows what CAN be done.
    I. If the family in the video wanted to be a completely self-sufficient homestead, they would likely need more land to grow calorie crops such as tubers and grains and small animals. If they wanted to be completely self-sufficient, they should probably move to the country, where land is cheaper. The vision that Geoff’s video holds out is that urban or suburban families can both play a role in the commercial economy and also have a thriving home economy.

    As covered by my post about the psychology of Doomerism yesterday, Doomsters and the simply Clueless will find a thousand and one reasons not to do anything like this.

    Don Stewart

  13. VPK says:

    Fukushima back in the news after typhoon hits Japan:

    The amount of radioactive water near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has risen to record levels after a typhoon passed through Japan last week, state media outlet NHK reported on Wednesday

    Fukushima nuclear waste detected off U.S. West Coast, from California to Canada — “There is definitely offshore Fukushima cesium now” — Test results will not be revealed to public for several weeks

    • Leslie Corrice posts Fukushima news two to three times per week

      • ordinaryjoe says:

        Roberts knee jerk reaction to any post that might portray nuclear energy as having risks.
        Because it pisses Ralph Nader off.
        No address to the issues just a link to the nut case of all nutcases Leslie Corrice .
        Robert doesnt really care enough to address the issues just a link and hes away.
        He doesnt read Corrices websight he thinks hes a nut case too.

          • ordinaryjoe says:

            Every one of my statements can be verified by reviewing your posts and behavior.

            1; You always respond to post about the obvious risk that nuclear energy with links to nutcase shill pro nuclear sites.
            2;You never respond to the content of the post even though you made your lifes earning practicing nuclear medicine Were these you courses?
            Leslie corrice sez 101
            Leslie corrice sez 102
            Your behavior disrespects any educator that took the time to teach you.
            3; You know the the links are to nutcase radical pro nuclear shill sites and you know you are being ingenuine but you think its ok because its a “effective tactic’ in your self declared jihad on anyone that shares information on the disaster at Fukushima or other information about the nuclear industry
            4. Your behavior is disrespectful to people that have concerns about the Fukushima disaster.
            5 You behavior is disrespectful to the participants in this website.
            6 You know your behavior is disrespectful and you enjoy being disrespectful categorizing anyone who brings issues about nuclear issues as mentally ill with links like the one above. Suddenly you are a mental health professional capable of diagnosing people when you wont even discuss issues that have direct bearing on your education and profession. If your characterization was applied to any race or religion you would clearly be a bigot. Why is it Ok when you characterize people with concerns about the Fukushima disaster as mentally ill?
            7. You have stated that you do not believe nuclear energy to be a solution to our energy problems so the purpose of your posts? See #6

            Why wont you interact in a respectful manner Robert and address issues that you supposedly have a lifetime of education and experience with in a professional manner?

            • Go get ‘im Joe!

            • !. There are no “obvious” risks from low level radiation. There is the LNT hypothesis as well as competing models. In spite of the massive multi-year post WWII nuclear testing – atmospheric and underground – life expectancy in the US is at an all time high.
              2. I did have a long career dealing with ionizing radiation – 1948 to 2000. I was in far more danger from exposure to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
              3. In my opinion you share disinformation. How much radiation was in the Pacific Ocean before Fukushima? See Corrice. Calling him a nut does not alter facts.
              4.I understand your concern. Should it extend to the West Coast of the US
              5. I disagree
              6. Mentally ill categorizing – bigoted – please.
              7. I am generally in favor of most energy production. Certainly coal, mining, dams etc. can be dangerous. I am not anxious to see us freeze in the dark. But it certainly may happen. Are you in favor of immediately closing all nuclear power plants?

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              Much better Robert thank you for your change in behaviour!

              “!. “There are no “obvious” risks from low level radiation. ”
              Three melted cores escaping primary and secondary containment seems pretty obvious to me.

              “There is the LNT hypothesis as well as competing models. In spite of the massive multi-year post WWII nuclear testing – atmospheric and underground – life expectancy in the US is at an all time high.”
              I see. and thyroid diseases?

              “2. I did have a long career dealing with ionizing radiation – 1948 to 2000. I was in far more danger from exposure to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.”
              If you want to expose yourself to radiation or tuberculosis and can do it without exposing me be my guest. You can not expose yourself to low level radiation without exposing me.

              3.” In my opinion you share disinformation.”
              This is part of the core of your behavior . You justify your own disinformation and you disrespectful actions by your belief that others engage in the practice. If you feel information that I or others are providing is not correct., please provide us with your analysis. We can discuss it with mutual respect. This is the manner in which progress toward understanding is made.

              “How much radiation was in the Pacific Ocean before Fukushima?”
              Doesnt matter. Not your ocean to contaminate buddy. Not your call to put other humans or species at risk.

              “See Corrice. Calling him a nut does not alter facts.”
              Anyone who advocates disregarding standard operating procedure and not using personal protective equipment is not playing with a full deck whether its welding, or building or any other trade. . Corrice advocates swimming next to Fukushima when everyone on the beach is wearing HAZMAT suits, class A no less. You know Corrice is a nutcase. You are disingenuous when you link to him and you know it.

              “4.I understand your concern. Should it extend to the West Coast of the US”
              If you understand my and others concern please demonstrate it in your behavior by demonstrating respect not linking to websites that characterize us as mentally ill or other disingenuous arguments. You can represent yourself and your beliefs in a positive manner but you have been choosing to be disrespectful and being very sly about it instead.

              “6. Mentally ill categorizing – bigoted – please.”
              That link clearly does characterize anyone with concerns about radiation as mentally ill. It is clearly a bigoted argument and you know it. If you dont get off on it stop linking to it. What is your goal Robert? Are you seeking to create anger amongst individuals that you perceive as adversarial or are you seeking to create understanding?

              “7. I am generally in favor of most energy production. Certainly coal, mining, dams etc. can be dangerous. I am not anxious to see us freeze in the dark. But it certainly may happen. Are you in favor of immediately closing all nuclear power plants?’
              False dichotomy presented. You attempt to distract. Once again a strategy oriented towards destroying opposition not seeking understanding. If you are concerned about freezing I can provide you with information regarding low embodied energy home and personal insulation.

            • Re thyroid disease. It is of interest that the claimed new cases are not leading to an increased death rate. Are they false positives? Atypical cells seen on an H&E slide are only a surrogate for cancer. As with the prostate, indiscriminate biopsies can lead to incorrect Dx and unnecessary Rx.

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              Thyroid cancer increases radically and you claim no causal relationship. Life expectancy increases and you dont investigate causal relationship We can both spin this thread off into topics that support our arguments.
              What was the point of. disagreement you had with the original post? Its my belief you did not evaluate it at all just posted your link to the fanatic Corrices website. Am I incorrect in my belief? The original post- not by me- reflected a assertion- a assertion and a concern you say you respect. Your actions did not demonstrate respect. Your actions demonstrated that you did not consider the information, after all all people who have concerns about Fukushima are mentally ill.
              Could you respond to the content of that post if you feel it to be disinformation?
              Is that a unreasonable request?

            • “Thyroid cancer increases radically and you claim no causal relationship.” I have never claimed that there is no causal relationship between radiation therapy and thyroid cancer.

            • Paul says:

              Robert – since you believe radiation is not a problem I am offering you a free ticket to Fukushima where you can throw water onto the melted cores to help cool them — this is a limited time offer — if you ACT NOW — I will also provide you with a free pair of gum boots and a bucket.

            • Robert – “since you believe radiation is not a problem I am offering you a free ticket to Fukushima…” Nonsense. Radiation is clearly a problem. I am quite surprised that I have not seen reports of Fukushima worker deaths.

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              “Thyroid cancer increases radically and you claim no causal relationship.” I have never claimed that there is no causal relationship between radiation therapy and thyroid cancer.”

              Once again you skirt the issue of you behavior.

              Could you respond to the content of that posts that you if you feel it to be disinformation?
              Is that a unreasonable request?

              Personally I would find your contributions interesting if you actually started addressing the posts you reply to instead of linking to bigoted and radical web sights.

              Its your choice Robert start interacting with respect, actually voice your opinion , honor your education or continue your disrespect to this website, its members,your education , and science by linking to radical and bigoted sites in reply to any posr that addresses the Fukushima disaster.

            • My opinion is that the danger of low level radiation has been greatly exaggerated. I might add that I do not consider the JAMA to be a bigoted and racist source.

            • Paul says:

              Maybe the radiologists should just stay in the room with patients when taking x-rays….

            • “Maybe the radiologists should just stay in the room with patients when taking x-rays….” Actually I did so routinely, usually operating the fluoroscope but occasionally holding patients.

            • Paul says:

              I routinely walk out on the ledge of the window outside my office high above the streets of Hong Kong to clear my head… never had a problem so far….

              Does this mean you will be going to Fukushima to heave water into the core? Where do I send the ticket, bucket and boots?

            • Christian says:

              Robert, do you think the radiation emanated by 2000 nuclear ponds and 400 reactors not cooled down could be classified as “low”?

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              “My opinion is that the danger of low level radiation has been greatly exaggerated. I might add that I do not consider the JAMA to be a bigoted and racist source.”

              I read the JAMA abstract and Im afraid I dont have the background to understand it. It is certainly a work of science one that is appropriate for a man of your knowledge and understanding to present. Thank you for contributing to this forum respectfully with a link to a genuine piece of science based material.

  14. Pingback: Comment on WSJ Gets it Wrong on “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True” by not fazed | Latest News

    • not fazed says:

      That looks like the sort of behaviour that is aimed at keeping things going for just a little bit longer. Lie to investors? OK it keeps the oil flowing for now but “fool me twice fool on me”…

    • The most astute comments in the Telegraph article were, “Japan is into QE8 already,” and “QE4 is already on the table.”

    • Thanks! A $125 billion per month reduction in stimulus could produce that kind of effect. The chart seems to indicate that most of the effect is emerging markets–(China foremost) if I am reading it correctly.

    • alturium says:

      “For at least three years a liquidity bonanza has fueled asset booms despite a weak global economy, a slowing China, perma-slump in Europe, and stagnation in Brazil, and Russia. The assumption was that the world economy would eventually catch up with stockmarkets and the frothiest of assets. It has not done so.”

      Great analysis. “frothiest of assets”. Oh the churning of the markets, once free but now on the life support of social debt.

    • VPK says:

      Thanks for the interview. Indeed, Mike Ruppert did sum it up rather nicely; the only thing that grows after the human body is fully grown is cancer.

      • Paul says:

        “the american dream says we need to have more stuff to be happy – not true’

        Agree it won’t make you happy — but we do need to keep consumption growing …. because if we don’t we will produce virtually nothing because BAU must have growth — without growth it collapses — and we return to a subsistence lifestyle — but only after billions are wiped out by starvation and disease.

        • VPK says:

          I watched the whole video…incredible insight Mike had expressed and I learned much more from this interview in detail. How George Bush and Dick Cheney have established for themselves homesteads that are self contained to rely on solar, wind show the real deal. We are indeed “money making machines’ for Wall Street and the heart of it is the Federal Reserve. The true strings of the “Beast”

  15. edpell says:

    I hope to make a start at calculating the cost of renewables. Check out a raw start at

  16. richard b says:

    Dear Gail,

    your analysis of the problem is just superb. thank you for these insights. another way to consider growth is to look at expectations going forward. Most countries, investors, the IMF, and politicians seem fixated on achieving growth rates somewhat north of 3% pa. This is more than wishful thinking. It’s still on the low side for economies to deliver jobs and repay debt.

    Such growth rates are another doubling of everything in the human economy in just 20 years or so. double all bricks and mortar, cement, wood, steel, copper, plastics, food production, agricuture, fisheries, services, etc, etc.

    Of course this might also take double all oil and electricity used to date to accomplish, including a doubling of all coal burnt so far.

    Can anyone seriously believe anything like this to be possible? Clearly it can’t happen. Indeed, the world currently cannot even keep existing infrastructure fully maintained, never mind doubling it. And global warming rules out all that coal and oil burning, never mind that there’d be no oil left anyway.

    So we are in for a low to no growth world looking ahead – pretty much what seems to be going on at the moment. Soon we will have another round of debt defaults followed by more QE rescues and rising tensions all over the place as we grow our populations by 90m new unemployed people each year.

    Central banks will throw fortunes more at the system to try and calm things down, but attempts so far, have and will, fail to restore growth and just continue to produce an enriched elite of bankers, rising stock markets, and a 1% who have been bailed out by the poor.

    How long this can go on for is not clear to me, but there will be a trigger to bring it to an end. Social blowback to stop the FED and more QE, or the arrival of hyperinflation of some sort followed by major occupy unrest seen most likely to me. I would guess we have a major crack within the next 5 years.

    • Paul says:

      Social unrest –I had a wander through the protest area on HK island this morning — surreal — many hundreds of tents — one of the main highways into the business district is completely shut to traffic… I understand that this is as much about polarization of wealth and lack of opportunity as it is about wanting democracy… it would appear that the young believe democracy would change things…

      Take a look at Spain, Italy, France, the US etc… unemployment among the under 25 bracket is massive

      Those are of course democracies…

      And this is as good as it is going to get… it is all down hill from here

    • alturium says:

      Great post Richard. I was watching the freedomain radio video (posted earlier) he mentioned how 80% of the QE has been “locked up” as bank excess reserves (and paid by the FED to keep it there) and that, if and when, this money is released it will create significant inflation.

    • I agree that growth rates north of 3% per year are wishful thinking, and probably still on the low side to deliver jobs and repay debt.

      Regarding, “Can anyone seriously believe anything like this to be possible?” The folks who put together the climate change model can. Taking past growth in fossil fuel use and projecting it forward is pretty close to how they came up with their BAU scenario. It is also why I have said that the model represents an impossible situation.

      • VPK says:

        Gail, I believe you and others underestimate the impact of Greenhouse concentrations have the ecosystem. One only needs to measure the change in the ocean ph values to understand what we are dealing. True there are many “unknowns” and the vast climatic system is a dynamic force with a “sloshing” motion. We should not kid ourselves just because we shall not burn most oil reserves that CO2 levels will “decrease”. They are a long term product of our existence her on the planet. I imagine that other combustion materials will take their place as a means to survival.

  17. B9K9 says:

    Some of the poor fellows over @ ZH are complaining once again about Fed interference in the markets. What they don’t realize is that outright manipulation is positively broadcasting there will be no accounting for any actions.

    And why is that? Well, if more people hung out here, they’d begin to understand why there isn’t going to be a future with remaining institutional processes. More than anything, Fed action tells anyone who’s paying attention exactly what is happening.

    Some day, we’ll see a 10:1 devaluation. Whether they actually call it that, or whether they start loading $10s (instead of $1 ones) of trillions of new debt without even a pretense towards future repayment. To the moon, Alice!

    • Paul says:

      ZH still believes the Fed is either stupid or purposely lining the pockets of the elites.

      They refuse to accept that the Fed is engaging in ‘madness’ because of the situation with oil.

      When they realize what the disease is then they will understand why the Fed is doing what they are doing.

  18. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    This will contain some amateur psychologizing and some unrestrained analogy making. As well as be offensive to many.

    Brian Little is a Professor of Psychology, currently dividing his time between the UK and Canada. He has written a new book, Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being.

    I want to use several of Little’s points in a discussion of Limits to Growth, and survival and thriving in whatever follows our current civilization:
    A. Personal Constructs. The framework through which we perceive the world, serving as both a tool and a cage which constrains us.
    B. Suppression. The costs of suppressing our experience of whatever is happening to us and around us.
    C. Core Constructs. Our tendencies to strongly resist information which threatens the larger model we have constructed. Similar to Gail’s ‘pick-up sticks’ picture, we will try hard to keep the rickety structure standing.
    D. Frozen Relationships. There are people we bump into every day, but we rather strongly resist actually getting to know them. We have mentally constructed a picture of what they are like, and if we became more intimate with them, we would have to change that mental picture. We don’t like to do that.

    Doomsters have a set of personal constructs in terms of the way the interpersonal economy operates. Doomsters also have internalized the notion that catastrophic collapse is the inevitable outcome of current trends, which cannot be changed. Catastrophe has become a core construct for Doomsters. Doomsters also tend to have Frozen Relationships, things they have constructed stories about, which stories bear little relationship to reality.

    Therefore, Doomsters cannot really consider items such as these:
    Richard Gould, an anthropologist, talking about the very different organization of the Aborigines economies in the 1960s and the material poverty but relative psychological well-being they experienced in a very hard land.
    B. The work of the Steady State people, or the Decroissance people, or the Simple Living people.
    C. The proposals by David Kennedy (Eat Your Greens: The Surprising Power of Home Grown Leaf Crops) for rebuilding our food system from the bottom up, focusing on needs.
    D. John Michael Greer’s outline of alternative collapse scenarios, which play out over decades and centuries.

    Doomsters are likely paying a physiological price for suppressing their experience of what is happening right now in favor of constructs about what is going to happen in the near future. In addition to the health consequences, the suppression of alternative constructs limits the perception of degrees of freedom in comparison to the degrees of freedom that actuality exist. Therefore, Doomsters will perform less than optimally as the world changes.

    Erik Lindberg has written the first half of an analysis of the cat fight between Richard Heinberg and Paul Krugman:

    I think it is safe to say that Heinberg is threatening some of Krugman’s Core Concepts. It might also work in reverse, with Krugman threatening Heinberg’s Core Concepts.

    The people I referred to in the list above are threats to the Doomsters’ Core Concepts, just as Heinberg and Krugman are threats to each other. But many Doomsters add an additional factor: hostility.

    Everybody has heard of Type A behavior, and we all know they die of heart attacks. But that turns out NOT to be a complete explanation. As Little explains, the key behaviors are Commitment to what you are doing, perceived Control over how things will work out, and the satisfaction of rising to a Challenge. Commitment, Control, and Challenge are all life-affirming and are predictive of success relative to one’s peers. What the Type A’s add, which kills them, is hostility. If you can be Committed, feel in Control, and be rising to a Challenge, without hostility, then you may live long and prosper.

    In short, many Doomsters are, I think, unnecessarily boxing themselves in with narrow personal constructs, hostile defense of their core constructs which will take a toll on them, and suppressing their engagement with the actual world which is always changing in ways both positive and negative, which suppression keeps them in their narrow channels, limiting their opportunities, and takes it’s physical pound of flesh.

    None of the preceding has anything to do with denying reality. Little makes it clear that plans should be grounded in reality. The reasonably happy Aborigines had few illusions about living in the Australian desert. What they had in abundance were realistic plans for surviving and thriving in that hard place.

    Don Stewart.

    • xabier says:

      Or, in other words:

      Some situations (‘Collapse’) might be so terrible that they will overwhelm most people, psychologically as much as physically,but not all……


      Try to make sure that you are not the one who goes under because of the attitude with which you approached Collapse.

      Maybe we could say: Be an adaptable Gypsy, rather than a redundant Soviet factory manager drinking themselves to death because the old structures are gone……

    • MG says:

      I would add a note regarding the cornucopians:

      The cornucopians omit various important historical facts. They live with the vision of the future, not with the reality of the past experience and the current situation. They “live on the surface”.

      Some cornucopians, when reminded about their failures in the perception of reality, may become aggressive: they do not understand the fact that you have to take something from somebody or from somewhere, if you do not have it here and now, as there is no such thing as unconquered abundant world everywhere anymore.

      Their aggression may escalate, but sooner or later they hit the concrete wall of the reality of energy and resource limits. This is the real story.

    • alturium says:

      Hi Don,
      I started to read up more on peak oil last December after reading a few articles on The Oil Drum, which led me to Gail’s website. As a child of the seventies , I recall the public thinking we were going to run out of oil by 1999. Since then life has moved on and I had finally decided, post GFC, to poke my head up.

      I think I would have to call myself a Doomster after seeing how bad the situation has become. I was still expecting peak oil in a few years or even 2024, but it has effectively arrived 2005. The logical conclusion is that oil has enabled the human species to vastly over shoot the carrying capacity of the earth. Looking at all the recent financial crises shows that 1. There is little or no action to prevent the crisis 2. The crisis quickly moves toward collapse. There have been many prophets of doom, but I don’t put Gail’s non-hysterical approach in that group. At this point I am try to figure the When – whether in 2 or 20 years. During the LA Riots I “escaped” being run over by a roving band of kids and observed the sky filled with black smoke. It took 10hours to get home due to the paralyzed traffic. What would happen in a real crisis?

  19. VPK says:

    Plenty of news in the MSM on the price drop of OIL:

    “This time, though, matters are less clear cut. The big economic question is whether lower prices reflect weak demand or have been caused by a surge in the supply of crude. If weak demand is the culprit, that is worrying: it suggests the oil price is a symptom of weakening growth. If the source of weakness is financial (debt overhangs and so on), then cheaper oil may not boost growth all that much: consumers may simply use the gains to pay down their debts. Indeed, in some countries, cheaper oil may even make matters worse by increasing the risk of deflation. On the other hand, if plentiful supply is driving prices down, that is potentially better news: cheaper oil should eventually boost spending in the world’s biggest economies.

    The global economy is certainly weak. Japan’s GDP fell in the second quarter. Germany’s did too, and may be heading towards recession (recent figures for industrial production and exports were dreadful). America’s growth has accelerated recently, but its recovery is weak by historical standards. Just before this week’s oil-price slump, the International Monetary Fund cut its projection for global growth in 2014 for the third time this year to 3.3%. It is still expecting growth to pick up again in 2015, but only slightly.

    Business Insider and the countries that are screwed:

    The collapse in oil prices is already a major cause of concern for countries heavily reliant on exports of the commodity. For some, it could be a matter of avoiding a severe recession.

    Here’s why: For governments in oil-exporting countries to meet their spending commitments they need oil to remain above a certain price. With oil prices under $87 a barrel, countries that rely on high oil prices, including Venezuela, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, may have a reason to be concerned.

    This price WILL KILL US oil production:

    “I have no way to know the validity of Saudi motivation. Certainly, officials from the kingdom have made it clear that they think that at prices under $90 a barrel, U.S. shale production begins to slide,” said Edward Morse, global head of Citigroup commodities research.

    “Even if the price of WTI were at $70, the U.S. would still be increasing crude production—if not by a million barrels a day per year, then maybe by 750,000 barrels a day per year. I think if the Middle East guys have this in mind, they’re going to be surprised by the kind of gritty robustness of the U.S. production business.”

  20. edpell says:

    It is time for someone to put out the cost figures for an energy system built on solar PV, land based wind turbines, thernal+battery+pumped water storage. A system for 100% of societies energy electric plus transport plus industry plus ag. I am not saying it will be a reasonable number but it will allow a discussion.

    • This analysis needs to include where the minerals will actually come from, for such a system. I understand that many of the supposed solutions cannot be scaled up, simply because the total world supply of the minerals is so low. The extraction of many of these minerals is very polluting, and is likely to become increasingly more so, as ore concentrations become lower and as extraction needs to move closer to inhabited areas. Somehow, cost (and energy requirements) for pollution control needs to be included as well.

    • Paul says:

      What you envision is not possible.

      Solar panels do not grow on trees — they are an energy intensive industry — factories in China use massive amounts of coal in the production of these panels.

      We are already running out of the better grades of coal — so if we ramped up solar panel production we’d have to burn billions of tonnes of lignite — which of course would poison the world further — with grave implications for the climate.

      There are no solutions.

  21. Harsha says:

    Everything will collapse one day that is for sure. Before completely dry out the oil taps, go for solar energy. It will allow few more generation to see these crude oils and gases.

  22. Paul says:

    The U.S. Government Borrowed Over $1 Trillion In 2014

    You’ll hear from the mainstream media over the next few weeks how the deficit in the United States has fallen to “only” $483 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. While a deficit of that size seemed unimaginable back in 2007, it appears on the surface to be a massive improvement from the trillion dollar plus deficits than have been running since 2008.

    • I haven’t looked at this article in detail, but I think it is about the difference between “gross” US national debt and “net” US national debt. The US funds its programs on a “pay as you go” basis. This is even true of Social Security. Thus, if a fund such as Social Security is supposedly partially on an accrual basis, and funds are collected in advance, the way the system actually works is, “Any additional available funds are spent on other government programs.” The government simply leaves an IOU (debt, but not marketable debt) in its place. The difference between the two is what I think of as “gross” and “net” debt. I usually think of the cash flow debt (net debt) as being the real one, since this is the one that corresponds to treasuries and other marketable debt. The fiction that we are collecting funds in advance for programs is just that–a fiction. There is a huge amount of other unfunded promises that are in almost the same category, that we don’t even try to measure. (Having baby boomers retire is a huge problem when an economy is on a cash flow basis!)

      Another possible problem area is the way student loan programs are handled. The government assumes that the debt being handed out will be collectable. So the receivables on these loans act to offset advances to students, which are in turn paid for a variety of things–books, student housing, college professors’ salaries, food, gasoline. These loans certainly stimulate the economy. So they (or at least the uncollectible portion) somehow should be included in the additional debt the government is running up. I don’t think they are now.

      • ordinaryjoe says:

        “advances to students, which are in turn paid for a variety of things–books, student housing, college professors’ salaries, food, gasoline.”
        Near some of the more liberal of the liberal arts colleges there is housing that resembles a Chiang mai shooting gallery- only worse. Graffiti,defecation, bottles, syringes. Individuals using their student loans for dope without even a veneer of pretending that they are engaged in education. Doing their part to stimulate the economy.

  23. Current Week
    (1) Domestic Production….. 8,951,000 BPD

    Why It’s Different This Time !

    • Paul says:

      ” average operating costs for North American oil is about $40/barrel”

      Average is irrelevant…

      I have seen info that break even on shale is approaching $80.

      Conventional oil still makes money at a lower than 80 price but shale — which is the only type of oil production that is rising (conventional peaked in 2005) collapses into a heap of rubble if oil goes much below 80.

      And if the shale plays were to bust up — then get read for the $147 record to be smashed… and the economy to implode…

      Because the only thing between us and Mad Max… is shale oil … which is expected to peak in th next year or two.

      • TheEconomist says:

        Mad Paul,

        The market place will still be adjusting to $80 to $100 oil for another 10 plus years.

        Example: Auto manufactures are under government pressure to develop 54.5 MPG by 2025.

        Also note, there has been a support level in oil of $80 for the last 5 years.

        You will be ok, the market place will extinguisher your hair.

        • You have nothing to do with The Economist, I am sure. Just as you had nothing to do with Ron Patterson, when you sent the last link. The last link was actually helpful, but I do not appreciate people masquerading as someone else.

        • Paul says:

          Guess what happens when you get cars that can drive further on a gallon of gas?

          1. People tend to drive more miles

          2. If they don’t that means they save money. And they spend the money on other stuff — stuff requires energy.

          3. Even if they put the money in the bank it will be loaned out so that others can buy stuff.

          4. So energy efficiency is bull shit — it simply gets directed to other forms of consumption which require energy.

          5. The only way energy efficiency has any impact is if you take the money you saved by driving a Tesla — and burning it.

          Do I get the fusion and solar power lecture next? Or do you just slink away into a corner and suck your thumb and call for mommy?

          Your handle is so very appropriate… economists are generally clueless…

          • Paul says:

   65 million nett new bodies on the planet so far this year… like adding another UK to the world in 2014… then another one next year… and so on …

            But 54mpg cars are going to save the day!

            This is so awesome — let’s celebrate with a song — how about the anthem of the green brigade…. come on — ya’ll know the words by now …

          • We also have the issue with the economy needing to grow, if we are to pay back debt with interest. Shrinking the economy, even through conservation and lower birth rates, doesn’t entirely work (but it still might be worth a try, given how bad other options are).

    • Thanks! I think that the author, Keith Shaefer, has a good point.

      With availability of “down spacing,” a lot of oil companies already have a large amount of acreage that they can drill, both in terms of acreage that is now economic, that was not before, and in terms of additional drilling on land that has already been partly drilled. I expect that the companies have leases on the land, so that they need to use the land in the not too distant future, or lose it. Marginal costs now are simply the cost of drilling, plus whatever taxes are required. (It seems like I saw something a while ago on how US taxes had been changed–or perhaps the collection of these taxes–it is possible these are lower as well. Anyone remember this?) Anyhow, with their low marginal cost of production, the temptation when oil prices drop is to “make it up on volume.” So as I commented earlier, US crude oil production has risen from 8,460,000 for the first week in June (when the drop in prices first started) to 8,951,000, for the week ended 10/10/2014. So US oil producers are making the glut in oil supply worse, by raising their production, at a time that the market is signaling that it needs less.

      We have a problem with demand being down around the world now, thanks to recession or much slowed growth in many countries, including Europe, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, and Ukraine. This is at least in part due to diminishing returns and lower growth in debt.

      But the price mechanism is no longer working for cutting back supply. The US is barreling ahead with production at the same time that OPEC countries are keeping their production up (because they need the tax dollars to operate their economies). This combination has the potential for worsening the world oil price collapse–obviously not the point Shaefer made.

  24. Paul says:

    Keep in mind — when collapse comes — there will be no medical help to deal with problems like this

    Haiti in a time of cholera

  25. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Gail, I posted the following at another blog in response to a discussion regarding why oil price has recently gone down so far, so fast. I’m curious to find out if you concur or disagree.

    “As shortonoil points out, with each passing year the energy that a unit of oil delivers to the rest of the economy goes down.”

    I agree with that due to declining EROEI, but why did it manifest itself with oil prices dropping so far so fast? Without QE juicing the system deflation rears it’s ugly head and has a secondary effect of leading to recession. The timing I suggest is not coincidental.

    What happened to supply increases just recently to perpetrate that big of a drop in oil price? Why didn’t normal market supply & demand factors alter oil price over a longer period of time?

    Let’s look at the factors contributing to deflation/recession, either of which can contribute to an oil price drop (as we witnessed in 08 with recession breaking out and price dropping to high 30’s):

    – Value of dollar rises against other currencies due to QE tapering to zero.

    – Investors adjusting oil portfolios ahead of Fed start to selling bonds purchased during QE which will raise interest rates and have a recessionary effect.

    – Stock investors now following oil traders with Dow losing 1000 pts. over last 6 trading days, due to same fears and lack of QE money funneling into the markets.

    – EU in full fledged recession with even Germany slightly in the red now.

    I suggest that deflationary forces were at work from 2008-2014, but held off by QE stimulus, and the only thing that has appreciably changed in the last couple months is QE tapering to zero, finally having it’s deflationary effect after 6 straight years averaging 750 billion a year.

    If I’m wrong, someone’s got to talk me down. If I’m right, the price of oil will continue to drop to about 65-70 for Brent and the Dow will dump down to about 11-13k.

    This new oil price will reflect our world economy post stimulus. From here or soon we descend from peak oil as marginal sources mothball. Now of course we know that lower oil price can spur economic activity, increasing consumption and then oil could become more scarce and price rise, but I think we are in long term downward spiral, reflective of diminishing returns.

    • edpell says:

      Yes, downward spiral due to diminishing returns. Even if we substitute a new system that cost 10x more than oil and provides all the energy we need we will still be poorer because the 4% of the economy that used to go to get energy is now 40% used to get energy. 36% of the whole economy is no longer there because all those people and resources were re-tasked to gathering energy.

      • John Doyle says:

        Can we see the sources of these figures?
        Because the info is important and I for one want to be sure of my facts.

    • Creedon says:

      The talk from wall street today is that inventories are beginning to drop. Maybe we are seeing the limits to how far down the price of oil can be pushed.

    • I wish I had all the answers to this.

      Part of the issue is the US oil production is continuing to increase. In fact, us crude oil production was 8,951,000 in the week ended 10/10. At the beginning June, when the slide began, it was 8,460,000. So the US has managed to add nearly 500,000 barrels of oil, in a period when the market is signaling, “No more oil.” We criticize Saudi Arabia for not cutting back on their production, when we are ramping up ours. There is admittedly a time-lag between when price signals start appearing and when they have an effect on the market. But the US is adding to the problem by ramping up oil production so much. (These amounts do not include natural gas liquids and ethanol. They may have had an effect as well.)

      Recession is hitting many countries. Besides Europe and Japan, China is doing significantly less well than in the past. Perhaps the result isn’t recession, but it comes close. India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and Ukraine come to mind as well.

      This year, the budget of the US is closer to balanced than in the past. According to Reuters, US budget deficit lowest since 2008. The budget deficit was $483 in fiscal 2014. This followed deficits of $680 billion in fiscal 2013. The previous four years, the budget deficits exceeded $1 trillion. Roger Mitchell points out that recessions tend to follow tend to follow deficit reductions in this post. GDP is based on growth in the economy, without adjustment for increases or decreases in debt. A person would expect a great growth in the economy with more debt, so this is not surprising.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Thanks, Gail. Sometimes the simple answer is the best one – in this case more supply than demand causes price to drop. Yeah, can’t blame SA for not cutting back. Why should they be expected to reduce market share. Should be interesting to see if lower oil price reduces tight oil, tar sands or other marginal sources production.

  26. Jarle B says:

    Dear all,

    outside the West a lot of people are living simple lives not dependent on all kinds of stuff from far away places. These people will not be affected by a global economic crash. Wouldn’t going to live with/like them be the way to do it if you want to live on?

    • Paul says:

      Dead on.

      I have observed people living like this on treks in Ethiopia and Irian Jaya…. subsistence farmers…. if anyone says they prefer that over BAU — I invite you to try living a month in one of these villages

      • VPK says:

        I did an “internship” at Central Rocky Permaculture with Jerome Osentowski back in 1989 outside of Basalt Colorado way up in elevation. I still remember the ride up his place on a dirt road on the side of his mountain on a frigid February night looking down below as his car tires skidded making headway up the slope. Being a “city boy”, cabin fever came rather quickly and we had to visit Aspen to cure it. Paul you are “dead on”, running amok will inflict many souls when the “fun and games” stop, along with the oil.

  27. Christian says:

    Does anyone has the link to that Bundeswehr mention on future middle-long term strategic exchanges (some kind of barter I think it was) regarding international trade? I don’t remember if it appeared in the Transformation Center paper referred to in this article or somewhere else:

  28. alturium says:

    October is the cruelest month, not April. We have finally come to the supposed end of QE and, coincidentally, the bottom of oil prices drops out. Well, my furry brain (oops I meant blurry) is full of questions.
    1. Is global net export of oil a future proxy of oil peak production?
    2. Will the lower oil prices spur wage increases, the missing element from the growth formula?
    3. Have we reached the end of debt productivity (delta increase GDP / delta increase Debt) ?

    Thank you ahead of time for your responses. I can explain in more detail my questions.

    • alturium says:

      A few more questions… 4. Will the lower oil prices lead to increased deflationary pressures? And 5. Won’t lower oil prices lead to earlier peak oil scenario since marginal producers are *ahem* eliminated?

    • 1. Is global net export of oil a future proxy of oil peak production?
      I am not sure I understand the question. I believe that global net exports hit a peak in 2005, and are generally headed downward. I expect that the peak in world oil production will come because of financial problems. Some of these financial problems will be problems of sellers (tax revenue not high enough); some of buyers (can’t afford the oil). This could happen in the not too distant future.

      2. Will the lower oil prices spur wage increases, the missing element from the growth formula?
      The lower prices may spur some wage increases, but the cause of the lower oil prices–lack of demand from around the world–will still tend to hold wages down. If oil production really does drop off, we will have a problem. The system needs quite a lot of oil to hold together.

      3. Have we reached the end of debt productivity (delta increase GDP / delta increase Debt) ?

      We are getting there quickly. The reduction in the US government debt this last year is no doubt contributing to the low oil prices.

    • alturium says:

      Hi Gail,
      Sorry for such an ambiguous question (#1)! I was about to retire to bed…

      The idea behind the question : does the peaking of Global Net Export of Oil foreshadow the eventual oil production peak? I threw in the word “proxy” because it seemed like a reflection of oil production, but shifted in time – bad choice of words, foreshadow is better. By peaking, I mean the global maximum of world oil production. I realize we hit the plateau in 2005 (for crude + LC).

      I had this intuition after find the chart from a webpage that discussed the Export Land Model by geologist Jeffrey Brown. As I understand, a country’s net exports will slow down after its peak due to a greater increasing rate of domestic consumption. Domestic consumption exerts a negative feedback on oil exports.

      So tonight did a little bit of research on ELM, looking for the most chart showing GNE (btw, it was very difficult to find a recent chart). This chart is up to 2012 and shows a peak 2005/2006:

      Another chart up to 2009 showing World Net Oil Exports (by Rune Likvern):

      Also watched a 2008 video with Jeff Brown on youtube where he discusses ELM. He makes a prediction that declining oil exports will lead to a rapid increase in price (a peak oil view).

      Eventually, I found an October 2010 article at TOD by …Gail the Actuary! (Jackpot!)

      From your article (I can recognize those curves on your charts from a mile 🙂
      “These insights, as I understood them, were the following:
      1. For oil exporting nations, the higher the level of their domestic oil consumption as a fraction of their production, the more the changes in production volume will amplify the resulting change in net exports.
      2. The domestic oil consumption of oil exporting nations will, over long periods, tend to grow faster than the domestic oil consumption of oil importers because of the windfall effect of oil revenues, and will tend to continue to grow even past the production peak, especially whilst net exports remain positive.”
      “Therefore, I am going out on a limb and calling 2005 as the peak year for net oil exports – barring any big surprises such as many net exporters suddenly deciding to start investing in cleantech in a big way!”

      You were right Gail!

      So maybe, to answer my own question, the peak of oil production was 2005 and what we are seeing since then is a plateau borne by extreme financial measures, such as from QE. It would be great to see a more recent chart up to 2014 and plotting the trends of consumption for the major oil exporters. I will keep looking.

  29. Paul says:

    Fed will use falling stock market as cover to implement QE4

    On Oct. 15, well known economic forecaster John Williams of was a guest on USA Watchdog’s Wednesday podcast. During his 17 minutes interview with host Greg Hunter, Williams stated that the current economic downturns in the stock market, the bond market, and the general economy were sizing up for a massive end game move by the Federal Reserve, with their using the declining equity markets as cover to usher in the next round of Quantitative Easing (QE4).

    I agree – the Fed will not stand by and allow the market to collapse… and the smart money will not ‘fight the Fed’ … because the Fed owns the printing press — even the really big money is no match for that…

    In defiance of gravity…

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      And so the argument continues inflation or deflation. And the fed coyly looks at the ceiling. Masterful postponement! truly masterful!

  30. edpell says:

    Giving every American $10,000 will only cost the fed 3 trillion dollars. Small change these days.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      “Giving every American $10,000 will only cost the fed 3 trillion dollars. Small change these days.”

      The Fed dont give no one nothing. Every single digital bit they give up is replaced by another digital bit. That exchange is determined by free markets. supply and demand. I swear on a stack of Krugman op-eds. The us treasury however can give out goodys funded by bond sales to

      wait for it


      If the US treasury gave out 3 trillion to live bodies each with a mandate to consume as the most special human evah you would see supply and demand for real (hint mostly demand) Not going to happen.

      The “deflation” we are experiencing must be so the truth of infinite fiat and finite resources is not demonstrated. In order for fiat to remain “the precious” its availability must remain scarce to those who would exchange it for real goods. Those who exchange fiat for other imaginary digital debt instruments are allowed unlimited amounts.

      The guvment can save us.

      Its magic.

      They wont use their magic because they are evil.

      Evil guvment keepin us from infinite consumption.

  31. Adam says:

    World economy so damaged it may need permanent QE

    Markets are realising that the five-and-a-half year recovery since the financial crisis may already be over, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

    • Paul says:

      Unfortunately money printing can never be permanent…. because that would imply a perpetual economic motion machine….

      As I am sure Mr Pritchard is aware — what cannot go on forever — will stop. First there will be a shower of sparks then a massive economic explosion….

      And the Industrial Age … will be over.

      • Creedon says:

        Mr. Pritchard clarifies the world’s economic situation as well as any one that I’ve seen. The only solution that the PTB have is to continue to print money and create more debt, otherwise its the collapse of the world system. How long can they continue to to simply create more debt, I would say, untill the oil runs out.

        • Paul says:

          I suspect you are correct — although I don’t think the oil will run out — when conventional, shale, tar sands peak as a whole — then the price spikes — economic collapse happens — price crashes — and the oil that is in the ground – stays there…

          Then we get Apocalypto…

        • Paul says:

          Rather amusing the Pritchard is finally beginning to understand the situation …. some of us gave up on posting these exact points in the comments on his articles long ago.

      • Julien says:

        One can imagine that the Quantitative Easing delay the collapse of 10 to 20 years with a progressive impoverishment of the population and a gradual decline, don’t you think ?

        • Paul says:

          It would be awesome if this could go on for 20 years…. but I can’t see that — unless we find another significant source of oil in the coming years — I believe that when fracking peaks that will mean that all oil production has peaked… that kills growth in its tracks and I don’t think monetary magic tricks and paper that over… The experts are saying fracking will peak in the next couple of years….

          • Julien says:

            Suppose that central banks directly help companies producing shale oil. In this case, it could take longer than expected with wells that continue to rise. One day there will not enough land and reserves to continue. But how can we say that it is measured in years?

        • I find it hard to believe that QE can go on that long. In fact, Yellen is in the process of reducing the amount of US QE. Our economy is quite fragile. Long-term debt is likely to become more and more of a problem, as economic growth slows. It is hard to see how basic institutions like banks, insurance companies, and pension funds will continue to operate. It is hard for me to understand how a 10 or 20 year delay in economic collapse could take place.

    • That is a very good article! Thanks! I would agree on the need for permanent QE (if it would actually work indefinitely).

    • His article from the day before is also good. BIS warns on ‘violent’ reversal of global markets. Investors take zero-rates for granted and unwisely believe that central banks will protect them, says the capital markets chief of the Bank of International Settlements

  32. VPK says:

    Peak Concrete will occur due to time and other factors:

    “Untold tons of concrete make up the city’s buildings, bridges, roads, and parking garages. As solid as it looks, reinforced concrete is vulnerable to long-term corrosion and decay: Over the course of decades, elements from the environment slowly work their way through to corrode the metal rods inside. Two researchers, civil engineer Matthew Eckelman and graduate student Mithun Saha, realized that new projections of rising temperatures might have implications for the lifespan of Boston’s concrete buildings and set out to calculate just what exactly those were.

    Their findings, published in September in the journal Urban Climate, suggest that both this city and many others are likely to face huge repair bills long before anyone anticipated. “Starting in 2025 is when [we expect] to see the concrete cover on buildings start to fail, assuming they were built to code,” Eckelman says. With accelerated warming added to existing rates of decay, they predict that 60 percent of Boston’s concrete buildings will face structural deterioration by 2050.

    There’s no formal estimate for the scale of the cost, but a 2002 report from the Federal Highway Administration estimated that it takes $4 billion per year simply to maintain the country’s concrete bridges. That doesn’t include aging concrete buildings that will need to be repaired or torn down.

    • Interesting! It seems like we are plugging unused oil and gas wells with concrete (or something similar) as well. I wonder how long that concrete will hold. If the failure rate is only, say 2% after a 100 years, it could mean a lot of leaking wells. See, for example, this article:

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      yup. Concrete only lives as long as the bar. Concrete always cracks then the bar oxidizes. Thats why alternatives to steel reinforcement that do not oxidize are being pursued, Steel and cement are also a product of infinite energy as they both have very high embodied energy values. Not that it matters as their embodied energy values are dwarfed by the continuous and massive use of fossil fuels to heat buildings.

      • alturium says:

        *sigh* add peak concrete to the list of Peak Everything. I always wondered why the decaying of old concrete had the look of rust – it is the bars inside.

    • xabier says:

      And unlike the Roman bridges and fortresses, one can’t take them to pieces and re-use the stone if the bridge is no longer needed.

      The Concrete Civilization: such a bad move in every way…..

      • Lizzy says:

        The Romans used concrete — they invented it, I think. Reinforced concrete is the problem. Those motorway bridges get built in a week, then replaced every 20 years or so.
        I visited an abandoned village a couple of weeks ago. The thatched roofs were long gone, only the walls of the cottages still standing. I hadn’t realised before that these old cottages had been built using ancient techniques — over the window spaces, above the usual wooden beam, and then covered by stone and plaster, were carefully-made arches, to support the weight above the window. They were still standing.

        • Christian says:

          The problem in order to dismantle modern buildings is portland type cement, which is so strong it rarely allows to separate the bricks without breaking them. Romans used a weaker cement and so relied more in gravity friendly stacking (as archs). Reinforced concrete was developped in modern times (because of coal -lot of iron- and portland), while it was already used in ancient buildings, such as in the Athenian Parthenon’s columns.

          • John Doyle says:

            Reinforced concrete is not that permanent a material. Concrete cancer is just that, destructive. The concrete itself will lie around as rubble for centuries, but the structures themselves will be toast. Reinforced concrete can last if a] it’s completely covered and out of the weather or b] if the reinforcement is stainless steel or eq. and the concrete mix has the right additives to resist weathering. Most concrete doesn’t have either of those attributes.
            Repairing concrete cancer in 25-30 year old structures is expensive. The MLC tower in Sydney, about 40 stories high is having its cancer repaired at a cost of over $A500 million. That would be typical.

            • Christian says:

              I know that. I don’t know how the athenians made their concrete, but it’s still there. It’s a rather dry climate, which must help

  33. Adam says:

    A light-hearted interlude now. You might expect that we had reached “peak claimed land on the planet Earth” by now, but it’s not so. Follow the link on my coin forum and notice the flag on the left of the screen:,26696.msg174435.html#msg174435

    Our forum member eurocoin, a Dutch lad of 17 who is very bright and focused, is using that flag as an avatar. I told him that I didn’t recognise the flag but was totally unprepared for his reply:

    “On the 15th of July I was searching on Google Maps. I like small far away islands and was searching on the maps version with the satellite photo of the earth and not with the map. I discovered an island 25 km north of Northern Australia. All islands in the neighborhood (still 30+ km away) had names, but this didn’t have one! I also discovered that it wasn’t drawn on the Google Map but only visible on the Google Earth version.

    Well.. I did a lot of research, contacted a lot of people in Australia and apparently they were unable to find the name of this island. So although it is located in territorial waters of Australia, I claimed it.My little sister’s birthday was coming up, and as a gift she was entitled to name the island. She called it “Caruca Island”.

    I told Google that as the island had no name, and even researchers didn’t know how it was called, I called it Caruca Island. I thought never to get an answer or they were going to joke with me. You can imagine how surprised I was when I just 2 weeks later by coincidence I came across the island again, to see that there was written “Caruca Island” on the map.

    I couldn’t believe it! Although it now had a name it was still not drawn on the map, so I asked them to do so. Just today I discovered they did that too. I made it a principality and so my sisters and brother are Princes and Princesses too.

    Of course we don’t take this too serious, as it all started as a joke, now it’s just a little more than a joke. Me and my sister designed the flag, it is based on colours of the flags of neighboring islands. We had some contact with other former micronations in the area (like Hutt River) which has oficially been recognized as a country separate from Australia! We have no clue if our island is inhabited (there are aboriginal tribes in the neighborhood), on another island there have been discovered 6 Dutch duit coins in the past.

    See here (earth version):,+Australi%C3%AB/@-10.9079927,133.0325044,1399m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x2ccf24becb6b7cfd:0x6c6076bdbf244bf8

    And here (map):,+Australi%C3%AB/@-10.9079928,133.0325044,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x2ccf24becb6b7cfd:0x6c6076bdbf244bf8


    I actually think this is pretty newsworthy but haven’t managed to persuade any news outlet to publish it.

    • Christian says:

      I’ve seen a story like this a few months ago, but I can’t remember where. Perhaps it was this one. The title somehow highlighted it was a kind of gift for the man’s daughter, who became a princess cause the guy named himself king

  34. Paul says:

    Why Can’t People Feel the Economic Recovery?

    Hmmm… could it be because there has been and never will be a recovery?

    • giels890 says:

      I live in Charlotte North Carolina and the news here is the poverty rate has skyrocketed since 2000 and rents have gone way up!

      North Carolina saw the country’s largest increase in the percent of people living in impoverished neighborhoods, newly released data show
      Since 2000, poverty areas in Mecklenburg have spread to communities along South Tryon Street, Independence Boulevard, Central Avenue and south of Interstate 85.
      The U.S. Census Bureau defines poverty areas as those with more than 20 percent of their residents living in poverty.

      Read more here:


      U.S. Census Bureau estimates released in late June show that North Carolina had the country’s largest increase in the percentage of people living in distressed neighborhoods, more than doubling in the decade since 2000.

      In Mecklenburg, 1 in 4 residents lived in distressed neighborhoods in 2010, up from 1 in 10 in 2000, the Observer found. These neighborhoods have at least 20 percent of residents living below the federally established poverty level – for a family of four, a yearly household income of $23,850 or less.

      Read more here:

      The odd part is Yankees are coming here to escape the high cost of living up North!
      I’m a former resident of Taxachusetts

    • B9K9 says:

      My greatest epiphany occurred when I (finally) realized the hard, immutable truth that there are neither free markets nor representational governments. To the contrary, everything we read/hear/watch are merely policy tools, mechanisms to ensure continued control of the sheep.

      So, to that end, it doesn’t really matter what the ‘man on the street’ thinks or feels; rather, the PTB got another 7+ years since the last contrived crisis. Which leads us to today, and the timing for the next big let down. For, as Von Mises so wisely observed, there is no avoiding the final call. Since the PTB of course know this perfectly well (since they run both sides of the table), the challenge merely becomes one of timing.

      Option 1: Place their short positions, then pull the rug out; or
      Option 2: Place their long options, start dropping money from helicopters.

      Of course, an excuse needs to be in place for either option in order to divert attention from the real reason for the collapse (ie credit expansion). The traditional recourse has been war, but a modern plague could be substituted this time around to keep their “powder dry” (pun intended).

      At this point, I feel it’s pretty well damn impossible to ferret out what they are going to do. I get the feeling they don’t have any real commitment or allegiance to either path as well. Perhaps we could call it “PTB ennui” – recall Wynand in ‘The Fountainhead’ standing on his balcony as he contemplated suicide. His decision to live was driven purely by the thought that living would be less boring than dying.

      Both we and they know the score. If you could somehow get them to really admit the truth, I’m convinced they would sound like Paul. But, pedigree & training go a long ways towards holding that ‘stiff upper lip’ until the final denouement. Which leaves it to us to decipher the early moves in which way this thing is going to blow.

      • edpell says:

        K9B9, your first paragraph is excellent. I find it hard to keep the truth in mind when most around me still spout the cover story.

        I think the PTB have as little idea of what to do about diminishing cheap energy as we do. The PTB are ultra conservative because they like their position in society and want to keep it. They have every bit as much desire as Paul to kick the can down the road one more time.

        • Paul says:

          I think there is 0 chance that the people who are really pulling the strings do not know what is happening and why.

          One does not get into that position by being a fool who doesn’t want to hear bad news.

          These men would know exactly how much oil the Saudi’s have – and everyone else — they would of course know fracking is a temp solution — they would be the ones orchestrating the campaigns to ensure that investment is available to invest in something – that normally would not make sense.

          These are the makers of the matrix – they are the puppet masters — they have top minds in think tanks at top universities who are paid to see around corners — to think out of the box….

          Knowledge is power — to be ignorant of facts – or to deny them — would not be an option.

          Compared to them we see only the tip of the iceberg…. the chess masters see the entire board

          Have a look at this — the Germans know full well what is coming …. of course the PTB have at least this much info:

          • Even if they understand the problem (sort of), they can still be confused as to the effect. The idea that oil prices will rise and will fix all problems is a pervasive one. Financial problems are confusing, for those who are not immediately working with those figures. Economists put out so much ridiculous information that it is easy to be confused.

            • Lizzy says:

              But Gail, just supposing that the current ‘economy’ and the ‘economic system’ is not a Law, just the way we do things now? Could there not be a different way?

            • The current economy is a self-organized system that enables resources as they are being used today. The system permits the specialization upon which we depend, and it allows for funding for governments. While it is not “the law,” we cannot get along without it. It very definitely is not “just the way we do things now.” In theory, the system could collapse into smaller subsystems (say local economies). The problem we have is that local economies cannot produce the high tech things we use today. We would have a much harder time recovering than the many economies that have collapsed in the past.

            • Paul says:

              I suppose we could do things another way — e.g. subsistence farming… But in order to have the modern cushy civilization that we have now — we must have easily extractable resources, particularly oil…

      • You may be right. One suggestion I have heard is that the Federal Reserve could send out checks to every man, woman, and child, to be used to pay off debt. If the amounts are high enough, private debt could be paid off and be replaced with government debt.

        • B9K9 says:

          At this point, the only real fact we have is the deflationary wave that has been held at bay for 7+ years is about to be unleashed.

          Whether is was a simple matter of diminishing returns on incremental debt (ie $1 dollar of debt generating less than $1 of GDP), resource constraints (your topics), or a true black swan like ebola that has the potential to whack the DOW transportation sector, thereby taking everything else along with it, isn’t the real issue.

          The REAL issue is how are the PTB going to play this hand? The debt has to be repudiated, defaulted, cancelled at some point. The question has always been: when is the right time? Today or tomorrow? If it’s today, then they open the trap doors and everything spirals down in collapse. If it’s tomorrow, then we’ll see events like straight money printing (ie no debt offset) in which to shower upon the populace in which to “pay off” their debts.

          As I mentioned above, I can’t get a handle on how they are going to play it. It’s almost like a whim of Caesar at the Colosseum – thumbs up or down? Now or later?

          • I guess we have to wait and see.

          • B9K9 says:

            I guess I’m re-hashing old comments from ZH, but a couple of years ago I said we’d see a 10:1 devaluation. This is tantamount to straight money printing without a debt offset. That is, $1 dollar becomes $10 dollars.

            Of course, in real terms it means absolutely nothing, because everything would be automatically indexed & scaled comparable to a 10X price increase. But debt ah, precious debt would be reduced by 90%. That means savers get hosed, while debtors receive a windfall.

            Since Uncle Sugar is the biggest debtor on earth, and just so happens to control the game, it would be in’s best interest to instigate such a measure. The mechanics would entail nothing more than some deep-state henchmen paying visits to leading execs at the NY Fed and owner banks reminding them of the deal they cut 7 years ago.

            The alternative is to let the market crash amidst a deflationary wave since at some point it needs to anyway. The thing to remember is the absolute #1 prime directive: continuity of government. Whichever course of action provides the greater likelihood of retaining civil/military control will be the go-to choice. I can only imagine the think-tank game players who modeled these scenarios could make a bundle knowing the binary outcome.

            • John Doyle says:

              It seems the wheel is turning towards my previously expressed Idea of a Debt Jubilee, an idea which went over like a lead balloon when I first posted it OFW a month or more ago. Everybody was agin it! There is currently a lot of blogging etc about it.
              Well I still think it’s a way forward. So I’m happy to support it until a better idea comes up.
              What you say about continuity of government is I agree vitally important. Otherwise chaos will take over. And, as we have seen in Iraq and the like Chaos is easy to start, but takes generations to resolve. So let’s not go there!!!
              Debt, being an ephemeral entity [although with solid fx] should be a good place to start.
              The public debt can simply be written off, deleted from the ledger, but the private debt is more complex and a much greater sum Apparently the notional value of derivatives world wide is over $710 Trillion or ten time global GDP. That can simply be wiped as it’s nearly all internal to the banks themselves. Mortgages are more complex but as explained by Bix Weir here* the banks no longer own them. They have all been sold to CEDE and Co. So the banks couldn’t foreclose now anyway.
              And so on. But we still have the big problem of declining resources which is a whole deal on its own.*

            • You also have the problem of banks, insurance companies and pension funds. If debts get wiped clean, these more or less go away. That is a problem.

            • John Doyle says:

              The government will have to step in or guarantee them. Which they did before in 2008

            • interguru says:

              So we replace private debt with public debt!

            • John Doyle says:

              No, only for what matters. Remember public debt equals private surplus. It always goes to zero.
              Recessions always follow government surplusses.

            • Until at some point, other countries won’t put up with so much public debt, or the house of cards falls down.

            • The question is whether at some point the problems just gets to be too big to handle by a guarantee. The question is really how the current production of the economy (food produced, gasoline produced, airline tickets, etc) should be divided up among people. If the government guarantees all of the debt, then there should be great inflation, as the amount of new goods in the economy starts to fall, because the total amount of money available, relative to goods available will be very high. Young people will be especially hurt by the plan, because they will tend not to have the savings that older citizens do.

            • Paul says:

              At some point the government will no longer be able to do that…. i.e. they will be pushing on a string….

              If were as simple as the government issuing an edict ‘we shall never collapse’ then we could all stop visiting this blog.

              Limits to growth due to diminishing returns from resources eventually will trump QE and other stimulus

            • Christian says:

              Jubilee is unavoidable, just a matter of time. However, I still can’t see a simple devaluation and the maintenance of existing entities and private enterprises as something much useful or feasable, given “we still have the big problem of declining resources which is a whole deal on its own”, as JD says. Pension funds are likely to be replaced by food stamps; banks and insurance companies by nothing.

          • Paul says:

            Difficult to say but I am sure they will do every possible thing they can to delay the crash for as long as possible — but at some point they will lose control — and they will be thrown into the maelstrom along with the rest of us.

      • alturium says:

        Excellent points B9K9. I think you may ascribe too much intelligence to the PTB, however. (Continental people tend to think this way IMHO). I don’t think war is in the cards. Not major war at least. The Ebola may be the play for distraction for quite some time. If low oil prices do raise wages and, in the short term, delay deflationary pressure then this may play out for another few years. I suspect the debt can can be kicked down the road several decades. We don’t know the upper limit of debt, but debt productivity (delta GDP/delta debt) is a good tell. (have you seen the debt productivity charts from the posts on the last article?). Btw, always enjoy your posts

      • Paul says:

        Are you saying I don’t have pedigree 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Recall the Titanic — the upper class passengers supposedly sipped cocktails waiting for the icy grip of the Atlantic to seize them…

        If you know your fate is sealed then you might as well not panic…

        Agree completely that the PTB are controlling just about everything that matters … if ISIS exists it is because they allow it to

        Recall the leak by the Saudi minister to Putin:

        Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides.

        As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord.

        “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

        They turn these guys on and off as easily as you and I turn on the water tap…

        Note there were two significant terrorist incidents in Russia just before the Olympics…

    • xabier says:

      The Great Recovery: let’s send Captain Ahab out to look for it shall we?

      There was high comedy in Britain a month or two ago, when government ministers told businesses to put up wages, so that ordinary workers ‘could share in the recovery.’

      Have to say, the old marmalade on toast almost choked me when my eyes alighted on that headline in the morning……

      • Christian says:

        Why, Xabier? I agree with theese ministers, billonnaires must share and not being so selfish as Zuckerberg, who recently bought half a hawaian island “as a refuge for his family”, as he said

        • Adam says:

          Agreed, Christian, but ministers usually tell workers to moderate their pay claims. Not only that, but some public employees in the UK have had no pay rise for 2 or 3 years now.

        • xabier says:


          My point was that there is no real recovery in the UK. I haven’t met a single ordinary person who believes in it. Only the other day a bank cashier said ‘If I hear a politician talking about the recovery once more, I’ll punch them!’

          • interguru says:

            This reminds me of a comment I heard a long time ago about Brazil. “The country is doing well but the people are hurting.”

          • Christian says:


            I should have added the [sarc] tag, but I supposed you would understand it.

            Pero qué vaina, es difícil bromear aquí! At first I thought it happened because my english was poor, now I see it’s not just that

            Yesterday I started trying to illustrate Laherrère on peak finances, while he still answers talking about “consumerism society” coming to an end, not the entire system. Will still try for a while

      • John Doyle says:

        Interesting. That’s exactly what MMT says one should do. EXCEPT the government should pay the companies to do it, as well as to find jobs for the unemployed – those who want to work,

  35. What’s interesting at the moment is that OPEC appears to be unwilling to cut production. This is going to stress the high cost producers and make further financing and refinancing an interesting bet!

  36. VPK says:

    Back in the DAY, 1973 YOU”RE NO GOOD

    Linda Ronstandt on the Midnight Special

    Singing about “Bad Paper”

  37. Stilgar Wilcox says:
    WTI -2.54 to 83.20
    Brent -2.81 to 86.08

    Apparently politics trumps US frackers as US aligns with Saudi’s to drop prices to hurt Russia, Iran and certain others. Guess they figure (if and when it stops) fracking can resume once prices go back up later?

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Bakken shale oil producers are under pressure to scale back their 2015 drilling plans after Bakken oil fell below $80/bbl for the first time in nearly a year, as worldwide crude prices decline amid ample North American supplies and Persian Gulf producers signaling they’re prepared to keep output high to protect their market shares in Asia.
      The “body language” among producers is that capex next year will be flat or only slightly higher, vs. earlier expectations for 5%-10% increases, says Topeka Capital’s Gabriele Sorbara, who adds Bakken drillers need prices of $70-$80/bbl to earn a typical 15%-25% return.

  38. Pingback: Why WSJ Is Wrong: Peak Oil is Real And This is A Significant Issue | Eco Explained

  39. Pingback: Ölpreise: Eine Reprise von 1985 würde Versorgungskrise triggern

  40. Paul says:

    Was driving through the south island of NZ and stopped at this place for lunch

    I spoke to one of the members and they almost never have an issue with someone not contributing.

    If the Tesla/Prius crowd really wanted to make a statement (a pointless one but nevertheless a statement) — they’d sell their fancy cars … and join something like this… Or better still — since vehicles are community owned – they could make a donation to the car pool!

    I can imagine the guffaws of laughter if one were to suggest this to the hipsters. Kinda like asking whey they don’t take the bus…

    Of course if everyone moved to a community like this the global economy would collapse — so best not to antagonize the hipsters too much — we need them to keep buying EV’s… and solar panels and all the other stuff that keeps BAU ticking along.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      You could picket Riverside. Your sign could read “Riverside means collapse”.

      • Paul says:

        I believe only 65 people live there — so clearly this lifestyle appeals to basically nobody… so not much of a danger of this threatening BAU.

        Funny thing about this — when collapse does come people will only wish they could live the Riverside lifestyle…

        Of course that won’t exist — because Riverside remains plugged into BAU — tourists buy their products … they use machinery and electricity and gasoline… etc etc etc…

        That said, they at least are trying to walk the walk… as opposed to a Tesla driving hipster…

    • Simple Simon says:

      Hi Paul,
      don’t know if you are still in NZ, but if you are, and are interested in a coffee/catch-up, great. I have a project I have been chugging away at quietly for a while now to set up something which I feel not only has a legitimate chance of survival, but is a way forward. I would be really interested to compare ideas etc.
      I live in Waipu in the north of the North Island, and go to Auckland (biggest city in NZ) fairly regularly, so if you’re around/interested:
      cell phone is 021 849 564.

  41. Christian says:

    Has anyone seen von Trier’s melancholic trilogy? The first movie, “Antichrist” is a master piece but quite heavy, don’t watch if you’re not hard wired. It really shocked me, which means a lot given I’m riding this PO LTG NTE stuff all days. Something on that movie suggests it has a relationship with PO etc, while I can’t say precisely what. Any clue? And I’ve seen yesterday the second movie, which bears the very title Melancholia. As expected it talks about the end of the world. The third is Nymphomaniac, but it’s not obvious how it relates to the first two movies.

    One interesting point in Melancholia is that there are two different characters (two sisters) which react very differently all the time. While in ordinary life the melancholic woman can’t get along traditional roles and find her place in society, she stands calmly when the world is ending. Her sister is fine in society but break up when the final shock is coming. Von Trier says it was an idea he heard from his therapist: melancholic people are not frightened when TSHF because they’re expecting it, and so usually react better than “ordinary” people under such a circumstance.

    • mooosstt says:

      The last trilogy of him (I was aware of) was Dogville-Manderlay-… with the last part still not done. If you did not see them, I highly recommend them as a great study of human social behaviour.

      I love von Trier movies – I watched all of them. I didn’t know that these 3 are in some kind of ‘trilogy’ pack. Each of them left me with deep feelings and emotions, but I still can’t put them together as a ‘melancholic series’. In my view – Antichrist was about false mythology of feminism, Melancholia was about the world without hope (von Trier’s deep depression period). Nimphomaniac is about our deepest sexual instincts.

    • I am not usually a movie watcher. I agree, though, that melancholic people are not frightened when TSHF because they’re expecting it, and so usually react better than “ordinary” people under such a circumstance.

  42. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    I know I’m harping on the stock market, but there is a correction underway. Today Dow -223 pts., Fri. -117, Th. -335 = -675 pts., so from close to 17000 just 3 days ago down to 16,321. How far it corrects is anyone’s guess, but I think it still has a long ways to go. If it went down as far as oil has, which is 20%, then from 17k it will go down to about 13,600.

    • VPK says:

      I hope Paul is enjoying this show…..actually, I KNOW he is…..

      “Today’s stock prices are so extreme that a drop of 40%-50% would not be a surprise.

      Indeed, it would take a drop of this magnitude just to get back to average long-term valuation levels, let alone cheap.

      Meanwhile, after 5 years of frantically pumping money into the financial system, the Fed is not only still going full bore (interest rates are zero) but facing ever-increasing pressure to ease off the gas.

      So if stock prices do drop sharply, it doesn’t seem likely that the Fed will be able to do much to help.

      Meanwhile, corporate profit margins are still at all-time highs, wages are still at all-time lows, and average American consumers still have debt coming out of their ears.

      So it seems likely that, at some point, profit margins will decline, wages will rise (we can only hope), and average American consumers will continue to rein in spending — none of which will boost further profit growth.

      Read more:

      • Paul says:

        Needless to say rather disturbing …. as we all now … if something cannot go on forever it will stop…

        One thing is for certain the Fed will do everything it can to prevent a complete collapse of the market…. that would be catastrophic at this point in time

        Hopefully we are not yet at the pushing on a string phase…

        I suspect we are not there yet… I think this is the puppet masters pulling strings and realigning deck chairs… Yellen has not yet flung cash out of helicopters…

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Good article, VPK. A lot of that QE money made it’s way into stocks from the banks, so I’m wondering what happens to the banks solvency if their stocks go into vaporlock. I’ve been wondering ever since the Fed announced QE tapering, what would happen when it reached zero (later this month). Since way back in 08 that has been the juice that made up for higher priced oil to force a contrived, so called recovery with minimal growth. Now we will stand (for a while longer) without it, but gyrations are already developing before QE zero’s out, with oil dropping 20% and stocks now apparently beginning a long awaited retreat. My concern is we either have to have cheap oil, or make up for it with infusing more money into the bloated system via QE.

        “I suspect we are not there yet… I think this is the puppet masters pulling strings and realigning deck chairs… Yellen has not yet flung cash out of helicopters…”

        Yeah, not yet Paul, but we will most assurely know the jig is up when that happens. Might as well check the clock and mark it down when that occurs cause it won’t be long before calamity comes to town. Might as well do some wallpapering with that stuff. “Look Honey, I was able to do a whole wall with Grant’s.”

  43. Christian says:

    “Europe’s bond yields lowest since 15th century Genoa on deflation, Russia risk”

    Centuries of banking coming to an end. Not so sure about Russia; meanwhile it’s game over for the euro:

    “A third of all countries in the eurozone are already in deflation once you strip away taxes, and another four have no inflation, including France and Spain,”

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      I cannot understand why they didn’t oust the PIIGS long ago, while the northern EU countries were still producing good growth. They could have at least kept part of the EU in tact, but oh no they had to try and hold on to it all, and now the whole thing looks like it’s ready for a breakup.

      • Paul says:

        Not an option — because if you throw them out they devalue on debt held in Euros and other currencies – which means they default — which means the banking system implodes because their debts are held by global banks which are entwined with each other… so one falls they all go (Lehman on steroids).

        The system is only as strong as its weakest links(s)

        Thank you very much globalization!

  44. Adam says:

    “World leaders play war games as the next financial crisis looms

  45. Adam says:

    “A mad, mad world as even the experts back the nuclear option of helicopter money”

    Are these the same helicopters that guard flying saucers as they beam up cattle for mutilation? 🙂

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the link.

      “Thus it is with the proposition that central bank money printing should be applied not just to asset purchases but directly to funding government deficits and boosting consumption – what Milton Friedman called “helicopter” money.

      I’ve been quite astonished by how much traction this way of thinking seems to be getting among those who, frankly, should know better.”

      A rather naive comment — of course they know better — which should be taken as a signal that they fear something far worse than monetizing debt (does he really think that the bankers believe that is a solution???)

      Of course we know why they are going to eventually resort to this — they have no choice — when this concept becomes policy then I reckon the end game will be very near…

      The funny thing is that because are are like frogs boiling in pots most people will think that monetizing debts in this way is completely normal — and they will believe recovery is around the corner…

      The level of cognitive dissonance at work to convince oneself of that — would be absolutely epic

  46. Adam says:

    “We have reached a remarkable state of affairs in all three of EMU’s leading economies: France’s Front National swept to victory in the European elections in May with calls for an immediate return of the French franc; Germany’s anti-euro party AfD has suddenly broken into three state parliaments with calls for a return of the Deutsche Mark; and now Cinque Stelle wants a return of the lira in a country that has been reliably and passionately pro-European for sixty years.”

  47. VPK says:

    But Senator Inhofe says Global Warming is a hoax….the bible says so…

    • There is also geological evidence that there are feedback mechanisms that keep the world’s temperature within an acceptable range for life.

      Ugo Bardi in his book Extracted, has a long section on this pages 7 through 13 of his book. When talking about past extinction events, he says:

      . . . these spectacular warming events were always followed by a return to less extreme surface temperatures–the effect of the planetary thermostat created by the geological carbon cycle.

      He also says:

      This geological carbon cycle is believed to be the fundamental mechanism for maintaining sufficient carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for plant photosynthesis, without which life on Earth would disappear. Without the effect of volcanoes, all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would disappear in a few million years, at most, consumed by the reaction with silicates. But the CO2 in the atmosphere is continuously renewed, and since it is a greenhouse gas, the geological carbon cycle regulates temperatures, too. The speed of the cycle depends on surface temperatures. When Earth cools down, volcanic emissions predominate over the removal by silicate weathering and the CO2 concentration increases, generating a warming effect. The opposite takes place when Earth warms up. So the cycle operates as the true “knob of the thermostat” that a has kept Earth’s temperature within the limits necessary to maintain liquid water on the surface for billions of years, despite the gradual increase in solar irradiation over the past geological eras.

      • VPK says:

        Gail, May I refer you to Dr. Peter Ward’s book, “Under Green Sky, on the evidence that CO2 and other greenhouse gas concentrations are the driving force of temperature regulation based on evidence from the Earth’s past, “Paleoclimatic” science.
        Here is a video of him.

        Also, last September was the HOTTEST ever on record:

        The military are preparing for it NOW:

        • I would have less objection to the climate forecasts if they would use a half-way reasonable estimate of future carbon emissions. They assume way too much–limits are not a problem.

          • VPK says:

            Here we go again. You are entitled to your position, but actually I do not wish to get in a so-called “debate” with you on the model forecasts. There are other indicators we are headed for real trouble, but I will not repeat myself. Already the danger are real and present…we do not have to wait for limits, we already past some.

            • VPK says:

              We can be here forever with this one “It’s for me again”. Bill McKibben’s article “Terrifying Math” generated THOUSANDS (close to 14,000 comments!) and it’s a pointless excercise.
              As Gail likes to state “Time will tell”
              This one discusses model forecasting from Skeptical Science website”

            • Paul says:

              I don’t understand the fuss about global warming — it cannot be stopped without imploding the global economy – which means billions would die.

              And if we have or have not passed the point of no return what does it matter? We cannot suddenly stop burning fossil fuels and try to save the day.

              At the end of the day why do we deserve to live as a species anyways? Is it because we are special? Smart? Kind? Fair?

              We are monsters. We absolutely deserve what is coming.

              I am certain that the billions of animals that we have tortured and enslaved in our industrial farms over the years — if they could — would cheer mightily when they saw the last of us wiped off the face of the earth

              Here’s a little compilation video of what is behind all that fancy food we buy in the grocery stores

            • John Doyle says:

              Certainly this supports your contention that we are a really nasty species!

            • Paul says:

              That really is a disgusting video isn’t it.

            • VPK says:

              Paul, thank you for pointing this out. After reading Helen and Scott Nearing’s writings, Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation” and other teachings, I gave up eating meat back in the 80’s. Nothing has really changed much since that time and now China is adopting the bad diet habits of the West.
              As far as global warming, a study done by a major University in North Carolina for the government concluded what you deemed, it is unsolvable.
              That is why I believe Obama is playing both sides of the issue.
              Keep both sides at bay. Really our “last chance” to address these “problems” were several decades ago.

            • Paul says:

              Also consider that we add nearly 100 million nett new people to the population each year….

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