Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out

The world is in a dangerous place now. A large share of oil sellers need the revenue from oil sales. They have to continue producing, regardless of how low oil prices go unless they are stopped by bankruptcy, revolution, or something else that gives them a very clear signal to stop. Producers of oil from US shale are in this category, as are most oil exporters, including many of the OPEC countries and Russia.

Some large oil companies, such as Shell and ExxonMobil, decided even before the recent drop in prices that they couldn’t make money by developing available producible resources at then-available prices, likely around $100 barrel. See my post, Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. These large companies are in the process of trying to sell off acreage, if they can find someone to buy it. Their actions will eventually lead to a drop in oil production, but not very quickly–maybe in a couple of years.

So there is a definite time lag in slowing production–even with very low prices. In fact, if US shale production keeps rising, and Libya and Iraq keep work at getting oil production on line, we may even see an increase in world oil production, at a time when world oil production needs to decline.

A Decrease in Oil Prices May Not Fix Oil Demand

At the same time, demand doesn’t pick up quickly as prices drop. We are dealing with a world that has a huge amount of debt. China in particular has been on a debt binge that cannot continue at the same pace. A reduction in China’s debt, or even slower growth in its debt, reduces growth in the demand for oil, and thus its price. The same situation holds for other countries that are now saturated with debt, and trying to come closer to balancing their budgets.

Furthermore, the Federal Reserve’s discontinuation of quantitative easing has cut off a major flow of funds to emerging markets. Because of this change, emerging market demand for oil has dropped. This has happened partly because of the lower investment funds available, and partly because the value of emerging market currencies relative to the dollar has fallen. Again, a decrease in oil price is not likely to fix this problem to a significant extent.

Europe and Japan are having difficulty being competitive in today’s world. A drop in oil prices will help a bit, but their problems will mostly remain because to a significant extent they relate to high wages, taxes, and electricity prices compared to other producers. The reduction in oil prices will not fix these issues, unless it leads to lower wages (ouch). The reduction in oil prices is instead likely to lead to a different problem–deflation–that is hard to deal with. Deflation may indirectly lead to debt defaults and a further drop in oil demand and oil prices.

Thus, oil prices are likely to continue their slide for some time, until real damage is done, perhaps to several economies simultaneously.

The United States’ Role in the Oil Over-Production / Under-Demand Clash 

The United States is the country with the single largest increase in oil production in the past year. This growth in oil production seems not to have stopped, in recent weeks.

Figure 1. US Weekly Crude Oil Production through Oct 24. Chart by EIA.

Figure 1. US Weekly Crude Oil Production through Oct 24. Chart by EIA.

At the same time, the US’ own consumption of oil has not increased (Figure 2).

Figure 2. US oil consumption (called "Product Supplied"). Chart by EIA.

Figure 2. US oil consumption (called “Product Supplied”). Chart by EIA.

The result is a drop in needed imports. A number of oil exporters have been hit by the US drop in imports. Nigeria extracts a very light oil that competes for refinery space with oil from shale formations. Our imports of Nigerian oil have been reduced to zero (Figure 3). (The amounts I am showing on this and several other charts are “net imports.” These reflect transactions in both directions. Often the US imports crude oil and exports oil products, sometimes to the same country. In such a case, we are selling refinery services.)

Figure 3. US Net Petroleum Imports from Nigeria. Chart by EIA.

Figure 3. US Net Petroleum Imports from Nigeria. Chart by EIA.

Our imports of oil from Mexico are way down as well (Figure 4), in part because their oil production has been falling.

Figure 4. US Net Imports of Petroleum from Mexico. Chart by EIA.

Figure 4. US Net Imports of Petroleum from Mexico. Chart by EIA.

It is only in the past few months that US imports from Saudi Arabia have started to be significantly affected (Figure 5).

Figure 5. US net oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Chart by EIA.

Figure 5. US net oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Chart by EIA.

Saudi Arabia, like other oil exporters, depends on the sale of oil revenue to provide tax revenue for its budget. While it has a reserve fund for rainy days, over the long term it, too, depends on revenue from oil exports. If Saudi Arabia’s exports to the United States decrease, Saudi Arabia needs to find someone else to sell these would-be exports to, or revenues to fund its budget will drop.

Alternatively, it can reduce the price it charges to US refineries, to influence purchasing decisions–something it has just done. Lowering its price to US refineries tends to push the world price for oil down.

Of course, the US also talks about allowing an increasing amount of crude oil exports, as its oil from shale formations rises. This increase would make the surplus of oil on the market worse, and world prices lower, if oil demand does not pick up.

Depending on Saudi Arabia and OPEC

In the West, we have been led to believe that OPEC in general and Saudi Arabia in particular exert great control over oil prices. We have been told that several OPEC countries have spare capacity. Several of the Middle Eastern countries claim that they have very high reserves, and we have been led to believe that they can ramp up their production if they invest more money to do so. We have also been told that these countries will reduce oil production, if needed, to hold up oil prices.

A very significant part of what we have been led to believe is exaggerated. Saudi Arabia’s oil exports were much higher back in the late 1970s than they are now (Figure 6). When they cut oil production and exports in the 1980s, they likely did have spare capacity.

Figure 6. Saudi oil production, consumption and exports based on EIA data.

Figure 6. Saudi oil production, consumption and exports based on EIA data.

But where we are now, the situation has changed greatly. The population of the Middle Eastern oil producers has risen. So has their own use of the oil they extract. Their budgets have risen, and the countries need increasing revenue from oil taxes to meet their budgets. Some countries, including Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iran, require oil prices well over $100 per barrel to support their budgets (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Estimate of OPEC break-even oil prices, including tax requirements by parent countries, from APICORP.

Figure 7. Estimate of OPEC break-even oil prices, including tax requirements by parent countries, from APICORP.

If oil prices are too low, subsidies for food and oil will need to be cut, as will spending on programs to provide jobs and new infrastructure such as desalination plants. If the cuts are too great, there is the possibility of revolution and rapid decline of oil production. Virtually none of the OPEC countries can get along with oil prices in the $80 per barrel range (Figure 7).

Most of OPEC’s actions in recent years have looked like actions a person would expect if OPEC countries were not all that different from other oil producers–their oil supplies were subject to limits and they tended to act in their own self interest. When oil prices were rising rapidly in the 2007-2008 period, they ramped up production, but not by very much and not very quickly (Figure 8). When oil prices dropped, they dropped their production back to where it had been, before the big ramp up in prices.

Figure 7. OPEC and Non-OPEC Oil Production, Compared to Oil Price. (Production is Crude and Condensate from EIA.)

Figure 8. OPEC and Non-OPEC Oil Production, Compared to Oil Price. (Production is Crude and Condensate from EIA.)

Another situation occurred when Libya’s production declined in 2011. Saudi Arabia said it would increase its own supply to offset, but it could only produce extra very heavy crude when light oil was what was needed. In fact, even the increase in heavy oil is somewhat in doubt.

Furthermore, the dynamics of OPEC have been changed considerably in the last few years. Part of the problem relates to fact that both oil prices and the quantity of oil exports have been approximately flat in the period between 2011 and mid-2014.  In such a situation, revenue from oil exports tends to be flat. OPEC members have found this to be a problem because their populations continued to grow and their need for water and imported food has continued to rise. These countries need ever-more tax revenue, but oil revenue is not providing it. At a minimum, OPEC countries have a strong “need” to maintain their current level of oil exports.

The other part of changing OPEC dynamics relates to increased oil production volatility. The bombing of Libya and sanctions against Iran have both produced unstable situations. Oil exports from both of these countries are lower than in the past, but can suddenly rise as their problems are “fixed,” adding to downward price pressures.

Another issue is the significant attempt to raise Iraq’s oil production in recent years. If Iraq’s oil production (plus US shale production) is too much to satisfy world demand for oil, should the rest of OPEC be the ones to try to “fix” the problem?

Figure 9. US net imports from Iraq. Exhibit by EIA.

Figure 9. US net imports from Iraq. Exhibit by EIA.

Figure 9 seems to indicate that US imports from Iraq have increased in recent months. Of course, if we import more from Iraq, we will likely need to cut back on imports elsewhere. This doesn’t create good feelings among OPEC exporters.

Shouldn’t the United States Take Some Responsibility for Fixing the Problem?

One might ask whether the United States should be cutting back in its oil production, in response to low prices. Of course, as indicated above, US oil majors (like Shell, Chevron, and Exxon) are cutting back on investment in new fields, and this is eventually likely to lead to lower production. The question is whether this will be a sufficient change, quickly enough.

It is less likely that shale drillers will intentionally cut back quickly. The shale drillers have taken on leases on huge acreage and are reluctant to step back now. For one thing, part of their costs has already been paid, reducing their costs going forward on acreage already under development. They also have debt that needs to be repaid and many contractual arrangements with respect to drilling rigs, pipelines, and other services. Some may have futures contracts in place that will soften the impact of the oil price drop, at least for a while. Because of all of these factors, there is a tendency to continue business as usual, for as long as possible.

Whether or not shale drillers intentionally plan to cut back on oil production, some of them may be forced to, whether or not they believe that the production is likely to be profitable over the long run. The problem is likely to be falling cash flow because of lower oil prices, if the price drop is not mitigated by futures contracts. Because of this, some companies may be forced to cut back on drilling quite soon. Another alternative might be to ramp up borrowing, but lenders may not be very happy with such an arrangement.

We notice that some companies are already in very cash flow negative situations–in other words, in situations where they need to keep adding more debt. For example, Capital Resources, the largest operator in the Bakken, shows rapidly growing outstanding debt through 6/30/2014, without seeming to take on significant new acreage (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Selected figures from SEC filings by Continental Resources.

Figure 10. Selected figures from SEC filings by Continental Resources.

When companies are already in such cash flow negative situation, there may be more problems than otherwise.

If Lower Oil Prices “Hang Around” for Months to Years, What Could this Mean?

We are in uncharted territory, in such a situation.

One of the big issues is potential deflation. The issue seems to be not only lower oil prices, but lower prices for many other commodities, as well. The concern is that wages will drop, as will government receipts. Lower wages already seem to be happening in Spain. Unless governments figure out a way to “fix” the situation, this situation will make debt repayment very difficult. Lower debt will tend to reinforce the low prices of oil and other commodities.

If low prices become the norm for many kinds of commodities, we can expect major cutbacks in production of these commodities. This would be the situation of the 1930s all over again. Ben Bernanke has said he would send helicopters of money to prevent such a situation. The question is whether this can really be arranged, given that the United States  (and several other countries) have already been “printing money” since 2008. At some point, it would seem like the arsenals of central banks will get used up.

If there is a cut back in debt and cutback in production of commodities, many goods we have come to expect in the market place will disappear, as will many jobs. There are likely to be breaks in supply chains, leading to more cutbacks in production.

With all of the debt problems, there is a question of how well international trade will hold up. Will would-be explorers trust buyers who have recently defaulted on their debt, and don’t look likely to be able to earn enough to pay for the goods that they currently are ordering?

The discussion has been mostly with respect to oil, but liquefied natural gas (LNG) is likely to be affected by low prices as well. Reuters is reporting that likelihood of US exports of LNG to Asia is down, for a number of reasons, including the discovery that costs would be higher than originally expected and the regulatory process less smooth. Another reason LNG exports are likely to be low is the fact that Asian prices dropped from a high of $20.50/mmBtu in February to a low of $10.60/mmBtu in August. Without sustained high LNG prices, it is hard to support the huge infrastructure investment needed for LNG exports.

Can Oil Prices Bounce Back?

If we could somehow fix the world’s debt problems, a rise in the price of oil would seem to be much more likely than it looks right now. As long as the drop in demand is related to declining debt, and the potential feedbacks seem to be in the direction of deflation and the possibility of making defaults ever more likely, we have a problem. The only direction for oil prices to go would seem to be downward.

I know that we have very creative central banks. But the issue at hand is really diminishing returns. Prior to diminishing returns becoming a problem, it was possible to extract and refine oil cheaply. With cheap oil, it was possible to create an economy with low-priced oil, inexpensive infrastructure built with that low-priced oil, and factories built with low-priced oil. Workers seemed to be very productive in such a setting, in part because low-priced oil allowed increased mechanization of production and allowed cheap transport of goods.

Once diminishing returns set in, oil became increasingly expensive to extract, because we needed to use more resources to obtain oil that was very deep, or in shale formations, or that required desalination plants to support the population. Once we needed to allocate resources for these endeavors, fewer resources were available for more general uses. With fewer resources for general activities, economic growth has become inhibited. This has tended to lead to fewer jobs, especially good-paying jobs. It also makes debt harder to repay. History shows that many economies have collapsed because of diminishing returns.

Most people assume that of course, oil prices will rise. That is what they learned from supply and demand discussions in Economics 101. I think that what we learned in Econ 101 is wrong because the supply and demand model most economists use ignores important feedback loops. (See my post Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network.)

We often hear that if there is not enough oil at a given price, the situation will lead to substitution or to demand destruction. Because of the networked nature of the economy, this demand destruction comes about in a different way than most economists expect–it comes from fewer people having jobs with good wages. With lower wages, it also comes from less debt being available. We end up with a disparity between what consumers can afford to pay for oil, and the amount that it costs to extract the oil. This is the problem we are facing today, and it is a very difficult issue.

We have been hearing for so long that the problem of “peak oil” will be inadequate supply and high prices that we cannot adjust our thinking to the real situation. In fact, the two major problems of oil limits are likely to be shrinking debt and shrinking wages. The reason that oil supply will drop is likely to be because customers cannot afford to pay for it; they don’t have jobs that pay well and they can’t get loans.

In some ways, the oil prices situation reminds me of driving down a road where we have been warned to look carefully toward the left for potential problems. In fact, the potential problem is in precisely in the opposite direction–to the right. The problem gets overlooked for a very long time, because most of us have been looking out the wrong window.

For more on this subject, read my last two posts:

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

Eight Pieces of Our Oil Price Predicament

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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942 Responses to Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out

  1. Paul says:

    Thinking about this… http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-9-billion-witness-20141106

    No criminal charges laid in what was obviously massive fraud — a 9 billion fine was levied — but not a cent of it was paid…. because it was structured so as not to be paid … yet the MSM reported how harsh the punishment to JPM was….

    Amchel Rothschild: “Give me control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws”

    Never were more true words spoken….

  2. Don Stewart says:

    Dear InAlaska
    Expanding a little on the question of how long it takes to recover from chronic abuse of the soil and the soil food web. Here is about 10 minutes of Christine Jones speaking to some farmers and ranchers in 2008:

    It may be hard to follow all this unless you have some idea what she is talking about, and of course you can’t very well hear the questions from the floor that she is answering. I’ll try to give a very quick overview.

    What we need to do is manage the system so that the plants take carbon out of the air and convert it during photosynthesis to sugars. Some of the sugars are used by the plant for its own purposes, but about 30 percent are put into the roots where they escape into the soil as exudates. The citizens of the soil food web cluster around the roots, waiting for the sugar. The microbes take the sugar, which they cannot make, and give the plant micronutrients such as zinc and phosphorus. Mychorrhizal fungi can bring nutrients from great distances to the plant,

    Managing the carbon cycle involves using plants which make large, deep root systems, NOT using large amounts of synthetic nitrogen or phosphate rock, not creating excessive soil disturbance such as plowing, using heavy herbivores to crop the perennials with long intervals of rest so the perennials can regrow.

    Several minutes into the talk there is a question from the floor about the possible depletion of the appropriate soil microbes (something like 95 percent of the biodiversity on land is in the soil). Christine agrees that years of abuse might result in an unbalanced distribution of microbes. (This is similar to the current work on human gut microbes. Scientists have experimented with fecal implants to restore gut bacteria destroyed by antibiotics.)

    As I have said on several occasions here, it seems to me that the grazing people have their act together (at least conceptually). Which doesn’t mean that the average grazing land is not still abused. We know what we need to do with grazing land, and we know how to do it. Annual agriculture is much less clear to me. Christine promotes the work at the Seis farm in Australia (which I have referenced several times) where annual grains are drilled into perennial grass ground covers after the ground covers are grazed or cut back hard. Some people also put transplants into perennial ground covers. Masonobu Fukuoka planted grains into ground covers in Japan. I don’t think we yet have all the answers for annuals, but there are lots of different possibilities and some successes to point to. We certainly can be less destructive than we are now.

    Around here, the business of ‘turning in’ annual cover crops does NOT increase soil carbon long term. A farmer friend has been turning in cover crops for 25 years, and has less than 2 percent carbon. The deep roots of perennials seem to be an essential. (Maybe somebody will figure out how to do it with annual cover crops, but I haven’t seen it.)

    For gardening, I have recently been in discussions with some people smarter than I am. I’ll be pursuing some ideas for perennial grasses and garden crops. A small farmer friend of mine plants grasses in his paths and crops in the beds. Every three years he puts the beds where the paths were, and vice versa. His system has worked very well for 25 years. He never does soil tests and never adds amendments. When I ask him about soil carbon, he says he isn’t worried about it. Don’t ask, don’t tell, I suppose.

    A friend of mine converted his pasture to a system such as Christine recommends. It very quickly became more productive, and gets more productive year by year. Some native grasses which he had never seen are back. My small farmer friend phased out the synthetic nitrogen (as Christine recommends) and saw only increases in production. He just can’t understand why everyone doesn’t use his system. I think the Seis farm saw a drop in production, but their input costs went down enough that they survived. After a few years, they began to thrive.

    Don Stewart

    • Cover crops are for cover. Green manure is to add nutrients to the soil. The two are usually used as synonyms. Turning in your cover crops/green manure is not advised unless you are going to plant that field. I suspect your friend’s problem with 2% organic matter is that he is not managing his cover crops well PLUS taking too much out of the soil with each crop. Managing fields is a multi-year process. In places like Ohio, where conserving soil moisture is a must, alternating high-use and low-use crops can give you an edge. This goes for water or nutrients or both. Out here in western Washington, I don’t worry about soil moisture except in the 3-month drought we get each summer. Nevertheless, my ground acts like a sponge, while my neighbors’ land pools up with the winter rains. It is quite dramatic.

      If you mow regularly (including your weeds!), the plant roots shed root fiber into the soil. This makes humus and is like composting under the ground. [Sidebar: Humus is not some magical thing that is indescribable. It is simply organic matter that has stabilized.] Mowing your cover crops until you need the ground is the best way to manage them. You build up your organic matter, which becomes nitrogen, and you allow a progression of weeds. This can be done with a tractor mower, a tiller mower (like a BCS), a weed-whacker, or a scythe. You can even run animals if you are set up for it and can manage your paddocks on a regular basis.

      Soil tests are useless IMHO. Somebody wanted to do one for me a few years ago and it came back that my organic matter was 13%, which is impossible. (Organic farmers are quite happy whey they get to 7-8%.) That was $35 wasted.

      If you grow Banner favas that you plant in the fall and let them get to flower before you till them in the spring, you get up to 170#/acre of nitrogen in the soil, more than enough for the corn crop you plant right after you till. (You don’t have to wait as you do with rye or a rye/vetch mix.) Thus you do not miss out on a crop but you still get the advantages of a cover crop/green manure.

      There are lots of tricks, but you don’t figure them out until you are on the land. That’s why all you doomers and preppers need to make friends with a small-scale farmer right now.

  3. Pingback: Watching the Watchdogs: 10 Years of the IEA World Energy Outlook | VantageWire

  4. Christian says:

    Gail, how is it going with the number of readers you have?

    • Readership continues to rise. It is especially higher since my article of Sept 21. http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/09/21/low-oil-prices-sign-of-a-debt-bubble-collapse-leading-to-the-end-of-oil-supply/

      My latest article seems to be getting a lot of readers as well.

      My posts are on a lot of different sites, so it is hard to know total readership. I was guessing 75,000 readers per post in total, with 25,000 of these at Our Finite World, but recent posts may be higher than that. I get a lot of later views of posts.

      • Christian says:

        There are translations also, and writers that you are inspiring and/or are quoting you.

        Gail, you are worth more than your wight on solid gold. I’m quite happy of being on your team, if I’m allowed to express myself this way

      • InAlaska says:

        That many readers means that you have a big podium and a big voice, Gail. You are using it well, backing it up with facts and keeping it readable. Allowing skeptical voices a share of the space also lends to your credibility. Nice work. Keep it up. You may end up influencing events, beyond what you thought was possible.

  5. Pingback: SEF News-Views Digest No. 73 (10-14-14) | Citizens for Sustainability

  6. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All
    This is an email I wrote to a friend who gardens in quite inhospitable ground, and grows abundant food and fiber and shelter and fuel. A TV crew was supposed to come out yesterday, but the weather didn’t cooperate. So they rescheduled for March. My friend was a little worried about coming across as a ‘crazy lady from the 19th century’. I gave her a couple of ideas to chew on. Here is the latest note to her, referring to recent work by Joel Salatin and Bill Powers.

    Don Stewart

    Dear XXX
    Yesterday was our last day of summer. I went to our food co-op and sat out on the lawn drinking some tea and reading my new book (more about which later). A hundred people on the lawn, from 3 months to 90 years. Chase-tag the order of the day among the younger set. Romance tentatively blooming at the table next to me between 2 people in their 40s. We get the first little front today around noon, then a second shot tomorrow. Supposed to be 25 tomorrow night.

    Since you have some time before the TV crews next visit, I will suggest a couple of things you might like to read. The first is an article by Joel Salatin in the current issue of Mother Earth News: A New-Fashioned Food System. Joel has given a lot of thought about the sound bites used by industrial agriculture …’technology …futuristic …feeding the world’.

    Then he makes this statement about the sound bites we ought to be using:
    ‘It has to be big enough, innovative enough, sacred enough to capture the hearts of all types of people. How do you stop people in their tracks– people content to watch TV every waking hour, depend on pharmaceuticals for every malady, and assume all is well in the world as long as the Kardashians’ dysfunction continues to provide conversational material? How do you interrupt that?

    I think our side needs to position itself as ‘new-fashioned’.

    He then makes the case that industrial agriculture is ‘old fashioned’, while WE are using the best science and technology available. Here are his phrases:

    Integrated food and farming rather than segregated.
    Food systems that caress rather than conquer.
    Healing rather than hurting.

    ‘Here’s the point: We don’t pasture our livestock because its quaint or old-fashioned. We do it because it makes for happy, healthy animals. It’s the new-fashioned way to farm, a smart approach that provides all sorts of benefits….(and then he lists some).

    On the technology side, he cites:
    Electric fence energizers
    Polyethylene pipe which lets us distribute water and keep the cows out of the creeks
    Shade cloth for grazing animals
    Solar friendly plastic polymers for solariums and greenhouses

    So one way to think about the tour you will give the TV crew is ‘a showcase of new-fangled gardening’.

    Shifting gears now to the new book I was reading yesterday. When you were here, I mentioned the sprinkling of 12X12s we have around the county. Counted as ‘agricultural outbuildings’ for tax purposes, and, strictly speaking, not for human occupancy. I think I mentioned the 12X12 book written by William Powers, who lived in such a house for a number of months several years ago. The house was owned by a pediatrician who was off on a cross-country anti-nuke crusade. The pediatrician limits her practice to never generate enough money that she has to pay income taxes.

    Powers begins the book back in his native Queens in the ancestral row house. He meets a woman, she moves in, and they garden the back yard. But both are working crazy hours. One day she says to him, ‘I think I would like to be a Queens Mama’, and they get married. But they don’t have time for a honeymoon: ‘our overworking led us to join the disquieting ‘uni-moon’ trend. Instead of a honeymoon trip together in the busy weeks after our wedding, we each took separate, individual vacations without each other–uni-moons, or what amounted to a few days of free time at the end of separate work trips. She took hers in the Dominican Republic after a UN capacity-building workshop; I took mine in Paris on a forty-eight-hour stopover after a community forestry consultancy in Liberia, West Africa.’

    ‘I thought back to my time in North Carolina in the 12X12 and wondered what had happened to one of the big lessons I learned there: the need to balance my constant DOING with the joy of simply BEING.’

    And so they move into a 350 square foot micro-apartment in Greenwich Village, having given away most everything they owned. His wife has a ‘regular’ job at the UN, and William will work only two days a week. They will spend more time walking by the Hudson, and in Central Park.

    I haven’t finished the book. One reviewer says ‘All of us sense that we could live better, kinder lives. But Bill Powers has the courage to try to change and then–ever so artfully–, without the slightest wag of a finger–to show us how’.

    Powers was here Monday evening reading from his book. I couldn’t make the reading. The book was officially published Tuesday.

    Between Joel Salatin and Bill Powers and your own considerable gifts, you might come up with magic thoughts and actions and built environment to show the TV audience what a 21st Century Garden of Eden might look like.

    • InAlaska says:

      You might reply to your crazy lady friend: What is so bad about the 19th Century? We had somewhat of a global civilization that operated at a high level. There was learning and books and sustainable progress of sorts. You could travel by carriage or by clipper ship. The ambitious could make money and the world was still relatively unspoiled by pollution. Sounds kind of nice to me.

      • Paul says:

        It might sound romantic to return to the good old days …. but:

        “Ninety per cent of Englishmen worked on the land and such capitalism as existed was crawling around in nappies. However, economics had already begun to polarise society between the highly-educated governing (and trading) élite and the poor, illiterate peasant majority, for whom life was nasty, brutish and short. Average life expectancy was 38 years and 30 per cent of children died before the age of ten – even Catherine of Aragon lost five of her six children in infancy. Pneumonia was prevalent, the bubonic plague was endemic, and doctors were little more than optimistic quacks.”

        And it won’t be very romantic when BAU ends shortly …. and we return to this…. (but first there will be the issue of purging most of the 7.2B)

        • InAlaska says:

          I rather think of the gentlemen farmers of 1700s America. Middle-class, not rich but not poor, usually literate. I don’t think it was as nasty, brutish and short in that rural American landscape as perhaps the dirty London streets that you are evoking. Same time in history but a completely different sort of outcome.

          • Paul says:

            Of course the gentlemen farmers of the 1700s had slaves doing most of the work… so life in the manor house was quite good….

            And maybe that is what is coming — after all oil gave us nearly free slaves so we didn’t need to beat people with whips to get them to do the nasty brutish stuff…. when the oil stops……. we shall see…

            When I think of what life must have been like for a farmer who actually did the work… I think of a book I read about a pioneer family that settled in Canada … forget the name of it … but their life was indeed totally brutal …. their communities endured periods of near starvation …

            I also think of the people I have seen in villages in Africa and Irian Jaya here in Indonesian — people who are mostly cut off from the comforts of BAU…. no mechanized farming …. their lives are very much brutish and short….

            • Christian says:

              Some facts of the life of ancient greek philosophers have been thoroughly recorded, including lifespan. Average was at least 70 years. They did not hard labor of course (while walked very much upon actual standards, which was rather healthier) and many of them had slaves, but perhaps not even the majority. Plato was even caught as slave himself during some months, while he lived 80 years. Upon the source, Diogenes the cynic (who famously inhabited a tub) lived 79 or 89 years; his story is interesting regarding our monetary/societal reality…


            • InAlaska says:

              Yes, Paul, I believe that you are overstating your case. In Colonial America life expectancy was quite high even for laborers and farmers, even more so for the landed gentry. This had nothing to do with slaves and everything to do with a fruitful land and an outdoor life. Sure there was disease and death but all indications are that such things as cancer, which is prevalent today, was far less so then. The leading cause of death after accidents was dental infection. I think our current civilization would be very lucky if, when it falls, it recedes back to something approximating this era. Of course, many will die, it may take a long time, and it will be terrible, but the end result might be quite livable for the survivors.

            • Christian says:

              Sure. I didn’t meant everybody reached 70. I went into a surgery when I was 13, without it I wouldn’t be here….

            • InAlaska says:

              In colonial days, childbirth was also quite dangerous for both mother and child, but in many ways this could have been one of Nature’s population control mechanisms. All evidence points to the high rate of mortality being infant mortality, but if you made it past infancy you had a very good chance of living a long, pleasant and potentially fruitfull time. And only the healthy survived. Genetic and birth defects were eliminated in short order, people with devastating illness, didn’t make it either. What you had left over was for the most part a healthy and strong population.

            • Christian says:

              That’s why Meadows LTG model show a rising in births per woman since something like 2020

            • Christian says:

              Btw, Meadows forecast of births is already happening. My ex girlfriend (my son’s mother) is in a three months pregnancy. She got really scared by the things I told her; my father was a psycologist and I guess he would have told she unconciously got pregnant to multiply offspring in order to boost the spieces chances of survival. A reaction mechanism, not necessarilly useful for its purpose (I’ve never got to persuade her to move to a farm, for her BAU looked safer anyway). I suppose I was too hard in my statements

  7. Adam says:

    Brent oil crashes below $80 to five-year low
    Oil prices fall sharply after US Energy Department slashes forecasts for 2015 adding to demand fears


    • Thanks for the links. Both very relevant!

      • Paul says:

        We have seen how the central banks easily manipulate the gold, stock, bond and property markets.

        They do so because they must – otherwise the economy would collapse.

        So why would they stand idly by and watch the oil market upset their apple cart?

        I suspect that the reason the price of oil is dropping is because the PTB want it to drop (or are letting it drop…)

        See the chart below — earnings are flat — i.e. growth has stopped … yet the stock market continues to rise….

        If the PTB wanted the price of oil to rise surely they have the tools to make that happen….


          • Paul says:

            Add a third thing: central bank manipulation and impact on the price of oil.

            Of course the economist who wrote that paper works in the ivory tower — with his wonderful formulas… and his models for predicting things…. where everything is pure as …. hmmm… can’t find the word… purse as spring water — polluted by fracking chemicals…. pure as the driven snow — polluted with mercury from the burning of coal…. how about pure as the vacuum of space?

            But of course we know economists are basically idiots — because they actually begin to believe their own bs after a while….. but that of course is because the MSM lines up to get their words of wisdom — their predictions — which are almost always wrong …

            But they are idiots because they continue to do so … knowing deep down it is impossible to predict something so complicated as the economy ….

            And of course central bank manipulation does not get factored into any of their analysis — because that would ruin the purity of their vacuum … manipulation does not exist for them…

            But it does exist in the real world… that is why you have earnings flat and a stock market that is blasting off….

            That is why gold is 1200 when is should be over 2000…

            That is why interest rates on junk bonds are lower than they were on Treasuries were less than a decade ago…

            The central banks have plenty of games they could play to ramp the price of oil over 100 bucks in minutes….

            And if anyone thinks they don’t… all it would take is the invention of a story stating that ‘the terrorists are closing in on the Saudi oil fields’ and you’d get your 100 buck oil very very quickly…

            Let’s allow Peter Sellers the final word on economists shall we:

            • Creedon says:

              The petroleum price curve is not an economics study, it is an engineering study.

            • Paul says:

              if it involves the discussion of the price of oil then it is an economics study — but of course there could be engineering inputs…

              And what does it matter?

              The study is not making room for the fact that central banks and governments are constantly manipulating the markets.

  8. Adam says:

    Brent crude has fallen to $78.80 as I write:


    Paul has finally done it. He has talked down the global price of oil. The NSA will be VERY interested!

  9. Pingback: Watching the Watchdogs: 10 Years of the IEA World Energy Outlook « integral permaculture

  10. Paul says:

    Deflation is becoming lodged in all the economic strongholds of East Asia. It is happening faster and going deeper than almost anybody expected just months ago, and is likely to find its way to Europe through currency warfare in short order.

    Factory gate prices are falling in China, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore. Some 82pc of the items in the producer price basket are deflating in China. The figures is 90pc in Thailand, and 97pc in Singapore. These include machinery, telecommunications, and electrical equipment, as well as commodities.

    Chetan Ahya from Morgan Stanley says deflationary forces are “getting entrenched” across much of Asia. This risks a “rapid worsening of the debt dynamic” for a string of countries that allowed their debt ratios to reach record highs during the era of Fed largesse. Debt levels for the region as a whole (ex-Japan) have jumped from 147pc to 207pc of GDP in six years.

    More http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11226558/Spreading-deflation-across-East-Asia-threatens-fresh-debt-crisis.html

    • giels890 says:

      Now the big question.
      Who will step up and be the “buyer of last resort?”
      Read William Greider’s book “One World, Ready or Not”.
      Much is coming true.
      Thanks Paul for the post!

      • It also reminds a person of Charles Hughes Smith’s recent article, Globalization = Permanent Instability

        As noted in Forget “Free Trade”–Focus on Capital Flows, the key engine of globalization is mobile capital: capital that can borrow money for next to nothing in one nation and then move that capital to other nations where yields are higher and opportunities for exploitation riper.

        This mobility of capital is an enormous benefit to the owners of the capital, but it creates extraordinary instability for those who are not as mobile. When mobile capital encounters anything that reduces profits–higher taxes and rising labor costs, competition or restrictive regulations–it closes factories and fires its workers in that locale and shifts to another locale with greater opportunities for high returns.

    • justeunperdant says:

      Spain has now entered deflation. These are gouvement statistic. So they are lies.
      Price drop is probably bigger then that.

      MADRID–Spanish consumer prices remained in negative territory in October for the fourth consecutive month, Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, or INE, said Thursday.

      In its final estimate for October, INE said the consumer price index dropped 0.1% on the year in October, compared with a 0.2% drop in September. Meanwhile, the country’s European Union-harmonized consumer price index fell 0.2% in October, after falling 0.3% in the previous month.

      Both readings were in line with a flash estimate released by INE late last month.

      Underlying annual inflation, a measure that strips out energy and fresh-food prices, was -0.1% in October, unchanged from September. Spain had last recorded a negative underlying inflation rate, a sign of deflationary pressures in the economy, in April 2010.

      Deflation, usually described as a sustained period of falling consumer prices, makes it costlier for debtors to pay back loans–a particular danger for heavily-indebted economies such as Spain.

    • That is a very good link. China is in the grip of deflationary forces as well:

      The tables are now turned. China itself is now one shock away from a deflation trap. Chinese PPI [Producer Price Index] has been negative for 32 months as the economy grapples with overcapacity in everything from steel, cement, glass, chemicals, and shipbuilding, to solar panels. It dropped to minus 2.2pc in October.

      It also talks about China’s premier, weaning it off credit.

      China has so far held its nerve under premier Li Keqiang, a man determined to wean his country off credit and an obsolete development model before it lurches into the middle income trap. It has not resorted to another blitz of stimulus – beyond short-term liquidity shots – even though house prices have been falling for five months and growth has fizzled.

      Yes–but the rest of the world was depending on the growth in Chinese credit. Maybe China has held up, but commodity prices around the world are not holding up. An you linked to some other very good quotes from the article.

      • B9K9 says:

        Are we all in agreement that deflation represents an existential threat to the present world order?

        If the answer is yes, then doesn’t it becomes merely a matter of degree, rather than intent, as to what measures will be utilized in order to achieve the inflationary imperative?

        If you agree with that premise, then what potential measures are available to the PTB? We know of the obvious monetary mechanisms, but what new & interesting tricks do they have up their sleeves to deal with:

        – declining economically retrievable energy and other resource inputs?
        – (exponentially) expanding current and future claims on non-existent production growth?

        The answer is obvious to any who are willing to go there; so the real game is how the idea will be planted & nurtured. (Perhaps it will be euphemistically called the “new solution”.) In other words, it takes awhile to lay the groundwork and prepare people mentally to not only accept what may have been previously construed as abhorrent behavior, but come full circle to embracing the new ideology.

        The alternative is collapse & loss of control ie inflate or die. Who here believes the PTB are going to allow that to occur without first trying every conceivable recourse available to them in an attempt to ride the tiger?

        • Paul says:

          “The alternative is collapse & loss of control ie inflate or die. Who here believes the PTB are going to allow that to occur without first trying every conceivable recourse available to them in an attempt to ride the tiger?”

          Of course they will attempt to tame the tiger for as long as possible… but they will fail … they are in the process of failing…. BAU is ending…. I suspect much gnashing of teeth is going on in the castles right now….

        • Bandits says:

          “Inflate or die”…..inflation is not an instant phenomenon. How do you get money into the hands of the manufacturer and consumer/wage earner equally. What would need to come first, supply or demand. As I see it money printing is a reaction to inflation. Simply printing money and declaring we have inflation doesn’t make sense.

        • I agree. They will try whatever they can to keep things together, as long as possible.

    • InAlaska says:

      So where do you think the real risk now sits? Is it better to have hyper inflation or a deflationary spiral? Which one of these two leads to a longer end game. Or perhaps we get both? Can you see some type of deflationary spiral that gets to a tipping point where the dying world-body has one last surge of growth which leads to a short but violent hyperinflationary cardiac arrest.

    • B9K9 says:

      Paul, you continue to repeat your claim that the Fed is out of bullets, yet are you referring to conventional monetary/fiscal policies?

      You are also on record as stating that you have some doubts as to the truthfulness of the official 9/11 explanation. If so, do you deny that the PTB will do whatever it takes, including pursuing ‘unconventional solutions’, in order to effect an inflationary environment?

      An item I think we can all agree upon is that we don’t need a constant news update of deflationary indicators. This kind of mundane, officially sanctioned ‘news’ can be accessed anywhere. Rather, why not take advantage of the unique quality of Gail’s site, seeing that she has a knowledgeable, international readership.

      We all know what needs to occur; so why don’t we focus on the subtle, obscure indicators that tell us what’s being cooked up? Here’s a great example:

      Imagine a legal precedent that establishes the requirement that one must purchase goods/services at the risk of being assessed a confiscatory tax? Now, once that is securely in place, what is to prevent:
      a. cost escalators being imposed that drive costs well beyond traditional affordability;
      b. EZ to qualify, zero-low interest loans are made available to enable acquisition;
      c. this precedent is expanded into all parts of the economy.

      Get it? That’s why Obamacare won’t be repealed – both sides cannot dare to explain the true intention of its historic legal novelty. Even better, it provides the necessary “new solution” to the problem of burdensome inter-generational claims on future diminishing production.

      Following the 3 steps above, do you see that it would actually be quite a trivial exercise in transforming the economy into one that utilizing automatic goal seeking methodologies? But more importantly, if you understand that point, then do you ken how easy it would be to front-run such policy initiatives while the sheep were stuck bleating about their collective shearing?

      • Paul says:

        B9 – I do not share your belief that the PTB will be able to control the narrative going forward…. they will of course try everything in the tool box or the arsenal … but I believe they will fail.

        I believe that they are fully aware of what is happening that they are scared… they are trying desperately to maintain BAU because BAU is the source of their power.

        When BAU goes they, like the Chinese emperors, lose their ‘mandate from heaven’ … and they will be cast into the gutters with everyone else.

        Who are the PTB?

        They are the owners of the means of production and the resources… they are old, weak men in $10,000 suits… they shift pieces on chess boards all day and drink expensive wines at lunch…

        They exert control because they are the owners of BAU.

        BAU is ending.

        We are going back to a very primitive economy – very simple, local economies — there will be no means to operate anything beyond local … there is no role in this for the PTB…

        There will be roles for local war lords — might will be right — and if I were one of these new tough guys and a Kissinger like figure showed up and tried to explain to me how he is the big dawg….

        I’d look at the fat old man in his $10,000 suit — and I would see that he is useless to me — cannot work in a field — and he is demanding that I feed him — how amusing …. I wouldn’t even waste a precious bullet on this one … he gets a rifle but to the head then would be thrown to the pigs….

        That is a BEST case scenario for the precious PTB.

        The worst case scenario – one which I played out on here yesterday — is that which involves a global nuclear holocaust — I do not see how the PTB can stop that.

        At some point the PTB will lose control of this. They are not gods and they will be exposed as wicked, useless old men who do nothing more than ‘play chess’ all day.

        The seriously hard men will be the ones who run the show going forward. They will be the new PTB.

        This time is different.

        • Paul says:

          I forgot to mention banking… the central banks are the ultimate means of control… when the oil stops that little game ends…

          The level of chaos that is coming … where the only concern of people — including the former elites… will be getting enough calories … and fighting to stay alive… there is no role for central banking this world…

          Recall that money only came into existence because there were surpluses… there will be no surpluses (at least initially) — there will be food deficits… so I do not see a role for money.

          Again — we are going back to a very primitive situation — but with 7.2B people….

          This is without question going to get hugely ugly… to think that the PTB will be able to exercise any control whatsoever over this new world as it unravels…. is rather optimistic.. and probably totally naive….

        • B9K9 says:

          I’m sorry, but I’m either not seeing – or failing to comprehend – where you put forth a rationale explanation of how everything goes magically **poof**. Rather, I see you advancing a pet wish for the end of BAU driven by other deep seated issues eg misanthropy.

          I’ve laid out some examples of how re-leveraging can be accomplished, because of, rather than in spite of, declining economically retrievable energy & other resource inputs. If I am correct, and I don’t see any evidence as to why I am not, then there is nothing complex about the gradual expansion of targeted debt/GDP. Especially since a core legal precedent was established that effectively green lights other expansionary techniques.

          You would help bolster your very favorable reputation on this board by addressing two basic issues:
          1. Could you specifically ID where the Obamacare strategy is flawed in terms of its true objectives? That is, what judicial, legislative, regulatory, etc mechanism(s) exist – or would need to be created – that could derail/deter this framework for mandated spending (ie GDP) via debt? Part II, why would any group with knowledge of its true purpose provide anything more than rote opposition in order to play traditional red vs blue team political football?

          2. Could you provide some actual evidence – or even anecdotal examples – as to how/what processes would be put into play to cause the PTB lose control of BAU? Again, to state the obvious that everyone here knows by heart, the PTB must inflate or die. Not only that, but they must achieve this imperative in the face of **real** deflationary effects being driven by the sad fact that we live on a finite planet.

          Specifically, why would declining inputs cause deflation beyond the current pitiful measures utilizing traditional monetary & fiscal policies? Are you rejecting outright that the PTB could not utilize unconventional techniques in the name of national security to achieve their core (re)flationary objective(s)?

          Wishful thinking is no way to win the game. I don’t fawn over the PTB – I simply look at the alignment of pieces on the chess board and choose who I think has the strongest position.

          • Paul says:

            Perhaps you don’t fawn over the PTB but you most definitely give the impression that you think they are playing a game…. that everything is under control…. that they will come out of this just as powerful as they always have been… and that if one is aware of the game that is being played that one can ride the coat tails of the PTB and profit from this game…

            Ihave explained it many times – with specifics – why I completely disagree with this:

            > When the oil stops flowing BAU collapses

            > Oil WILL stop flowing — because as at some point the mechanisms that allow oil to flow break – as we are already seeing capex is being cut because oil cannot be found and extracted profitably

            > When that happens you cannot ‘command’ oil to come out of the ground. You need a full functioning BAU to make that happen because you need all the high-tech gear that is required to get that out of the ground. It will plain and simply not be available. You won’t even be able to manufacture a toothbrush when this hits…

            > Rich powerful fat old men can rail and rant all they want — they can try to print their money using solar panels to power the printers — but the starving hordes will laugh at their useless paper…. they will want food… and they will kill for it…. how tasty the caviar, wagyu, bordeaux fattened master of the universe would be when grilled on a spit over a fire of plastic garbage bags under the overpass!

            > So the oil that is in the ground will remain in the ground

            > The PTB rule because they control resources and because they are able to command powerful armies because they can pay the armies because they control the resources

            > When the oil stops the PTB will be powerless. There will be no wealth. There will be very little food. There may be martial law for a short time but when the gasoline runs out the armies collapse and the soldiers disband and scavenge for food… and the fat old men will be left on their own in their castles… and they will starve and die … of attacked and killed and their cellars of wine and fine food seized.

            > There will be nothing in the way of resources being extracted because we have removed the low hanging fruit — we need BAU to get at the rest… and there will be no BAU.

            > So the PTB will be nothing. They will have no ‘wealth’ because there will be no wealth to be had. They will have no armies because they will have no means to maintain or command armies

            > What ‘government’ exists will almost certainly be localized and almost certainly be lead by brutal thugs. Look at Afghanistan after the Soviets left … look at Somalia….the PTB in those places are basically gangsters … there is no civil society … there is only hard cruel violent men making the rules … there are your precedents.

            The game that has been played for centuries will be over.

            The PTB know this — they are committing suicide with their insane policies — these policies are not chess moves … they are not a means to an end…. these are truly policies of total desperation ….

            Because they know that they are already dead… they understand that the game ends with BAU… and they are trying to delay that for as long as possible

            Thinking that the PTB will hold things together under some sort of new normal … is no different that thinking that one can hunker down on a piece of land in a remote place and enjoy Little House on the Prairie post collapse…. or believing that God has a bigger plan for us all post collapse…. or that Obama was going to be the agent of change….

            When all hope is lost…. smoke the hopium pipe…. if it makes ya feel better why not…..

          • Christian says:

            B9, I would say you are stucked in your admiration on the PTB, actually represented by 87 trillionnaires…

            “Paul, you continue to repeat your claim that the Fed is out of bullets, yet are you referring to conventional monetary/fiscal policies?” -> conventional policies ended 5 years ago, if not before

            “We all know what needs to occur” -> according to physics, the only thing that needs to occur is civilization collapse

            “it would actually be quite a trivial exercise in transforming the economy into one that utilizing automatic goal seeking methodologies?” -> something that has never been intended before is not trivial, by definition

            “I’m either not seeing – or failing to comprehend – where you put forth a rationale explanation of how everything goes magically **poof**” -> the only magical thing would be things would not go poof

            “I simply look at the alignment of pieces on the chess board” -> this is not a chess game, because there is no contenders (unless you think humans and physics are the two parties)

            “and choose who I think has the strongest position” -> you aren’t able to choose anything, I am affraid you are deluded

            • Paul says:

              Actually B9 the fed is not out of bullets – yet… we will know when they are all out of bullets — because the die-off will begin soon after.

              And yes – when that happens things will go poof… because the fed will have used up all its bullets trying to prevent the poof moment.

              When the oil stops flowing I believe the PTB are finished.

              Because resource ownership is the source of all of their wealth and power… and without oil … resources cannot be extracted or refined…

              And the fat, arrogant, old, powerful men — will be fat, arrogant, old, DEAD men

              This time is different. Very, very much different.

  11. B9K9 says:

    There are many ways to effect (incremental) devaluation. The most obvious is the application of negative interest rates via justification of monetary policy. However, new G20 rules provide a template for a different tack, by re-classifying the legal status of bank deposits.


    The author of the article linked about believes this could chase electronic/book deposits into demand for actual hard banknotes aka bank run. Others foresee a more gradual shift in asset classes as deposit holders seek out additional safety in sovereign bonds, etc.

    What is fascinating is the purposeful approach being taken towards devaluation. From an intrinsic standpoint, anyone who understand the base financial and resource issues realizes it is the only real course remaining to achieve the desired inflationary outcome.

    So, let’s review the basic process:
    1. Classic Keynes – government(s) represent aggregate collective demand to substitute for collapsed private consumption. War expenditures, capital investment & infrastructure ‘improvements’, along with purposeful cost escalators (eg Obamacare) were the typical mechanical processes employed;
    2. Loaded with $trillions of new debt, the expectation was that rising GDP would provide nominal balancing of income/output with the additional liabilities;
    3. Since that hasn’t happened, overall debt needs to reduced in real terms relative to actual GDP levels so that the PTB can take another go at re-leveraging;

    This is where the fun & games begin:
    4.a. Cash/deposits – negative interest rates, bail-ins and other confiscatory incentives to increase monetary velocity;
    4.b. Sovereign, corporate, junk bonds, notes, bills, etc.

    This is the next piece of the puzzle. How will this be effected is anyone’s guess, but I think the G20 announcement is a tell: the rationale will be expressed in terms of national security. Ultimately, all balance sheet liabilities need to be reduced by around 50-90% to allow the economy to at least operate without a huge debt overhang. In commercial terms, this is called bankruptcy & re-organization.

    In real terms, this means if you’re a bondholder/investor/dependent, that means your pension, your healthcare insurance fund, etc are all going to be put at risk. Of course, this is the most logical path from an organizational point-of-view: get rid of the deadwood.

    In personal terms, that means 10s of millions upon 100s millions of people need to die to lighten the load of the younger generation who will be producing much lower output. Paul thinks the system can collapse, but I think the PTB know exactly what is happening. In fact, they are so far ahead of the curve with these demonstrations that they are setting the table to make sure excess liabilities are disposed over before the overall system is really, truly threatened.

    • edpell says:

      IBM got rid of the pension and retirement medical over 15 years ago. It is now cash and carry as an employee.

      It is just like the Eek (sic) they got pushed onto marginal land and became so poor that parents pushed kids out of the hut at two years old. The fat is gone. Employees are on their own, citizens are are their own. Your company, your country, do nothing for you. They are out to preserve themselves.

      • B9K9 says:

        Exactly. So, my point – which is comprised of two basic components – has been pretty consistent:

        1. Don’t whine, cry or complain about reality. Discard whatever fantasy you may hold dear that mankind, through its various institutions, somehow ameliorated the harshest aspects of the law-of-the-jungle. Not only has nothing changed – rather, the labeling & packaging was simply altered to fool the gullible – additionally, impotent masses didn’t force any kind of mythical social progress. In the final analysis, the smart n’ savvy artfully led clueless “citizens” into whatever public projects would require yet further private financing.

        2. If you embrace the eternal truth expressed in #1, then you have two alternatives:
        a. Sacrifice yourself as a martyr trying one more time to finally push the masses into some kind of cohesive force that, once it assumed power, would not itself become a nightmare dictatorship; or
        b. Join the winning side. All it requires is relinquishing some false nobility about right and wrong, that there is some kind of a moral constant that one is obligated to maintain, and simply deal with reality as it is expressed in hard data. Really, it’s just applying rational analysis to cause & effect.

        Too much debt in relation to output – being exacerbated by falling resource inputs? Too many future obligations that cannot be met? Potential threats to the state from various internal/external groups?

        What needs to happen? It’s obvious – so the real trick is tactical implementation, to slip the noose around the neck before alarmed objection. That’s what we’re seeing play out with all the little newsbits that get leaked to the general public – they haven’t a clue what it means, but it’s there, in plain black & white for anyone paying attention.

      • giels890 says:

        You got that RIGHT:
        Here in Fort Lauderdale a 90 YEAR old man, Arnold, is being stopped from feeding the homeless.
        He was in court back in 1990 for the same and won

      • The biggest tend to survive. The biggest today are the big companies, and well as the individuals with high assets.

        But it is not clear that the survivors (if there are any) will be the same individuals/businesses. For example, international trade cannot continue indefinitely at current levels. Airline travel needs to slow down and stop. These trends are contrary to the needs of big businesses, and to the paper wealth of the many very rich. Eventually, something will have to “give.”

        • InAlaska says:

          However, since being BIG now requires a globalized system to function, perhaps now there is an advantage to being small, and nimble. For example, maybe being Iceland is preferable to being China. Maybe being a small company with shorter supply lines and more loyal employees is better than being WalMart? I don’t know but sometimes small is better.

          • Maybe small is better, but being in a warm climate has definite advantages as well. I am not sure I would pick Iceland as a place to live post-collapse. How good will the fishing be, without oil-powered boats?

            • InAlaska says:

              Regarding your question about Iceland: well the old icelanders used to fish with non-motorized wooden fishing vessels so I imagine it can be done. Iceland also has vast geothermal resources for heating and powering simple things. They have lots of land for grazing sheep. A mild maritime climate for growing things. I think that with a modest reduction in population, Iceland looks pretty good. Any Icelanders out there who care to comment?

            • The fish population was a lot higher years ago, and the number of non-motorized fishing boats was a lot higher then as well. The current population is fairly high. I was commenting on this combination of events. Given enough time, things could change, but it looks like a rough transition.

            • InAlaska says:

              No arguments with you there. It’ll likely be rough, but Iceland like New Zealand, may be one of those rare places where there maybe something left to salvage once it passes through the Great Bottleneck.

    • Christian says:

      I see rich countries are taking more of the kind of measures/tricks we are accustomed here, no only fake stats…

    • Or does the whole system start coming “unwired” at some point? It is hard to see international trade holding up with all of these shenanigans going on.

      • InAlaska says:

        Yes, it has to come “unwired” as you say which is why I wonder if BIG is now BAD. After all the old adage says, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

  12. jeremy890 says:

    The GREATEST wealth GAP since the GREAT DEPRESSION:
    The top richest 85 individuals have more $$$$ than the bottom 3.5 BILLION

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      This seems to be the goal of humankind though, i.e. celebration and encouragement for the mega-rich. It’s celebrated in TV shows, the news, magazines, the internet. It’s a Ponzi scheme of sorts that results in some that can afford what only the mind can imagine and those rummaging for scraps of recyclables out of a dump site to sell for pennies to get a small pouch of rice. This is what we want – then this is what we get. Unless collapse occurs it will reach a point where the wealthiest person in the world will be a multi-trillionaire worth many times over = to the bottom 5.4 billion. He’ll sit on a throne in a four million square foot castle atop a giant mountaintop, silos filled with jewels and warehouses stacked full of precious metals and be in a rage because some regulatory committee is questioning his latest utility price hike.

  13. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All
    Someone asked me ‘what books would you take to a desert island’, or something to that effect. I’ve spent a couple of days thinking about the answer, and, of course, I can’t find the question in the mass of comments here. So here is my answer:

    I don’t find books. They find me. (This is as close to mysticism as I get.)

    Sometimes the books illuminate what I think are big mistakes. A good example is Witold Rybczynski’s current book, How Architecture Works. He describes some of the signature buildings such as the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the New York Times building in Manhattan. What strikes me is that these buildings are mostly very expensive monuments to the architect himself or to the supposed glory of the corporation that funds them. I see them as exemplars of the waste that fossil energy has made possible.

    Sometimes a book illuminates a truth in a very concrete way. My wife and I had been to Shakertown in Kentucky. A few miles away was a craft store on the interstate highway. I saw the book Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani: Landscapes of Paradise with photographs by Harry Hinkle and essays by Monica Weis. The combination of Shaker practice as embodied in the built environment of Shakertown and the practice of Thomas Merton as embodied in the photographs of Gethsemani and the essays illuminated some profound truths about what we might loosely call the pursuit of happiness.

    Both these books found me. The same will be true of most of the other books I mention.

    Sometimes the book explains science to me in a compelling way that I had not thought about before. Wetware by Dennis Bray is such a book. From the earliest evolution of a single cell, life has been about computation. Cells perform computations using quite different mechanisms than microprocessors, but they are extraordinarily efficient, relying on the Brownian motion that occurs whenever the temperature is above absolute zero. Our invention of microprocessors opens the doorway for profound disconnects between the results of cellular computation and the results our microprocessors give us. Cellular computation has been tested by a few billion years of challenges, while microprocessors may indicate directions of action that are profoundly dangerous.

    Rarely, a book (or, in this case a DVD) explains science and wisdom traditions with new connections that I find to be profound. For example, Kelly McGonigal in The Neuroscience of Change explaining how the default state of our mind is not conducive to human flourishing. She makes the bridge between brain scans and the ancient wisdom traditions with compelling logic and evidence. She shows how we need to be focused on very specific tasks…whether being mindful or working a crossword puzzle. I suppose the opposite is being washed by TV commercials.

    Another important class of books are those that are very practical. Just to mention two: Gardening in the Southeast (which I have alluded to very recently) and the webinars on Trauma that I have also mentioned recently.

    Which book would I take to the desert island? My answer is that it would be the NEXT book that finds me. All the books in this list have already done most of their work. The next book will be the one that helps me go further down my path.

    Don Stewart

    A few random quotes from recent reading:

    Generally we want a savior, and we want to be saved in a way that is comfortable for us.

    Life presents itself to us, but we’d often prefer to live in fantasy.

    When we objectify things, we don’t think about the consequences of trying to obtain them. See Jerry Mander’s talk at

    We have fundamentalist attitudes toward others when we simply refuse to let them be bigger than our subjective, objectified view of them. (Compare this statement to frequent disparagement of Chris Martenson, Richard Heinberg, and the Kumbaya tribe on this blog.)

    Don’t believe everything you think.

    • InAlaska says:

      I am going to have to choose JRR Tolkien’s works for one of my desert island book picks, Escape to Middle Earth sounds pretty good to me right now. Lots of wisdom there. I believe it is Gandalf the Grey who says, ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.’

  14. Ves says:

    Hi ordinaryJoe,
    I think I read your post where you mentioned you have lived 2 yrs as homeless and no money. Could I ask you did you had any kind of fear and how did you overcome? How did you deal with emotions?
    The reason I ask is I am figuring my thinking mind and all sorts of strong emotions that are arising time to time. And usually the triggers are doom scenarios.
    Thanks You.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      Well I was a adlolescent so its been a while ago. When your young you dont fear things quite so much. I pretty much viewed the world just like the original poster as full of sustenance. The subjects we talk about here are counter to sustenance so i really have no real experience with fear from those times in those terms. Someone had shown me the support mechanisms for homeless earlier in my life, missions, soup kitchens, dumpster. I was not fearful of starving. I had a good sleeping bag- I was not fearful of frezing to death. I fancied myself a tough guy- a total delusion- but I was not scared pof being physically assaulted. I grew up in a large city with all of the things that go down in the inner city I didnt like it so I left. I really liked being homeless much more than the environment I came from. I also liked the freedom. Then I got a job and it was clear to me that working was WAY better than the alternative. More than fear there was a sort of emptiness that comes when ones life is without meaning. I also realized how wonderful shelter is if you are outside all the time , how pleasant it is. I was pretty much totally sure that everthing would roll my way.

      So really I have no real insight into fear from those days. It is only in looking backwards that I realize that my sustenance was entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Just like it is now. Our society also demonstrates a lot of care for youth so Im sure that made it easier.

      Nowadays most of my fears revolve around what I see as the path we are going down as a species and the consequences will be for the children, the plants , the animals and other things of beauty that deserve life. This fear or perhaps more appropriately sadness is much stronger than anything I felt back then. I honestly was pretty devoid of feeling until I was 20 or so. I ended up working with adolescents as a volunteer for a couple decades. I was told I had some skill in it. I think it was because I knew that some people dont feel compassion until later in their life. I cant do that anymore because based on what I see the future I really dont know what to tell the kids. I dont see an appropriate model for consumption to advocate anymore. You really cant be involved in work with adolescents and tell them that every aspect of what we consider achievment is because of our rape of the planet..

      • Ves says:

        @ ordinaryjoe
        Thanks for sharing your insights. I know when you talk about that sadness about the future for children, environment. I have two kids and sometimes I get caught myself in fear when I want to give them some advice but deep down I know that that advice maybe will not apply in the future. But on other hand that is nature of the life – impermanence. I can only teach them something that will apply regardless the amount of fossil fuels in the future and that is love, grace, faith and compassion.

        • InAlaska says:

          Ves and ordinaryJoe,
          I have 3 boys all under 16. I get sad thinking about their future, too. I still try and teach them things that are useful for survival because it is good knowledge to have. But I have finally realized that what you really need to teach them is how to be adaptable and resilient. I teach them now not to take things for granted. To enjoy their food now and not to waste. To be light on the land. I really try and teach them to be flexible so that they can live in substandard conditions, migrate if necessary, keep their humanity along the way. I don’t regret having my children regardless of the state of the world because life is still sweet and the alternative, non-existence, is meaningless.

          • Ves says:

            Thanks for sharing InAlaska. These are useful advices. If i could sum it in one word it is acceptance. If there is wholehearted acceptance mind does not struggle and there is no suffering. Yes, there is a pain, pain is unavoidable but suffering is optional. Thanks.

            • InAlaska says:

              I think you are on to something important. My oldest boy and I recently have been studying the Buddhist philosophers a bit. They hold that human Desire is the cause of all Suffering in this world including the suffering of plants and animals. If you can minimize Desire you can minimize suffering. And yet if all of Life is Suffering, it is how you accept it that is important.

          • Sounds like a good approach. Children can be a joy!

  15. Paul says:

    A year and a half ago, with real-estate prices falling, Dmitry Orlov, a forty-six-year-old software engineer from Leningrad, sold his apartment in the Brighton section of Boston, along with most of its contents, and bought a sailboat—an old sharpie made from Douglas-fir marine plywood, on which he and his wife, Natasha, a literary translator, now live, debt-free. They rent a slip at the Constitution Marina, near the Boston Naval Shipyard, and he walks to work at a nearby advertising agency.

    For errands, Orlov rides a bicycle, which he sometimes parks on deck. It’s been a long time since he owned either a car or a television (“When I’m in front of one for five minutes, I think it’s lying to me and I want to take wire cutters and clip the power cord”).

    He has outfitted the boat, which is named Hogfish, with solar panels and six months’ worth of propane, and figures he can store an equivalent supply of rice and beans down below. “It’s basically a survival capsule,” he said recently.


    • Rodster says:

      I could have sworn he was living in South America? I saw an interview he did and the interview mentioned he had moved to Latin America.

      • Michael Jones says:

        Orlov has a page on Wilkepedia
        Orlov gives practical advice, like when to start accumulating goods for barter purposes and the need to buy goods that would sustain local communities – “hand tools, simple medications (and morphine), guns and ammo, sharpening stones, bicycles (and lots of tires with patch kits), etc.” Orlov writes: “Much of the transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. In order to adapt, you will need plenty of free time. Granting yourself this time requires a leap of faith: you have to assume the future has already arrived.” He also advises: “Beyond the matter of personal safety, you will need to understand who has what you need and how to get it from them.”[11]

        The EnergyBulletin.Net review states that “Orlov’s main goal is to get Americans to understand what it will mean to live without an economy, when cash is virtually useless and most people won’t be getting any income anyway because they’ll be out of a job.”[12] The review by author Carolyn Baker, notes that Orlov emphasizes that “when faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money.” Physical resources and assets, as well as relationships and connections are worth more than cash and those who know how to “do it themselves” and operate on the margins of society will do better than those whose incomes and lifestyles have plummeted.
        Orlov also has a blog too.

      • Dmitry moves his boat around quite a bit. When I talked to him in May, it seems like he talked about going south for a while. His wife and child were in Russia, as I recall. I also don’t think he works for an advertising agency. His skills are in the high tech / computer /IT area.

        • Paul says:

          Linked in shows him as:

          Dmitry Orlov

          Demographic info
          Greater Boston Area | Online Media

          • I agree. His primary effort is in Online Media and sales of his books, which are related to his posts. If he wants to earn money on the side, he has his prior skills which are in the technical–computer–IT area. These skills also help him in setting up the high tech things on his boat.

    • jeremy890 says:

      Better to sign up in the Navy and get assigned to a nuclear submarine patrol. I believe they will be one of the few to survive the mayhem. Heck, a nuck sub can be at sea for 6 months or more. Hopefully, the Captain would head to a Gilligan’s Island somewhere in the Pacific.

  16. VPK says:

    OOOPS. Hedging and low oil prices just “tanked” a major Bunk Oil Shipper:
    But beyond that, OW Bunker spotlighted shortcomings in its own risk management practices—essentially its fuel hedging activities—that had cost the company roughly $150 million, on a mark-to-market basis. Surprised by such gaping losses, creditors pulled back funding from the shipping giant, making continued operation impossible. OW Bunker filed for bankruptcy on Friday, leaving the global shipping fuel markets in disarray

    “We kept asking them if the hedging was a profit center or just clean hedging, and then it turns out they’ve been taking up massive market positions,” said Jesper Langmack, chief investment officer at Danish pension company PFA Pension, an investor in OW Bunker, told Bloomberg reporters. “When we asked before the IPO, we were left with the impression all they did was more or less clean hedging and now it turns out they were gambling.
    Do you feel “lucky”?

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      “When we asked before the IPO, we were left with the impression all they did was more or less clean hedging and now it turns out they were gambling.”

      Im shocked genuinely shocked I tell you. Its terrible that these sorts are disparaging the good name of the clean hedgers.

  17. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    A valuable addition to the gardening books relevant to the southeastern United States (from Delmarva to east Texas): Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by the folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

    To put this book in context. It uses the current incarnation of French market garden biointensive methods, but applied to a home garden. You can think John Jeavons or Square Foot Gardening, but very specific to the southeastern US. The focus is on making a relatively small space incredibly productive. Which assumes that you have other space to provide organic matter for compost and mulch, or that you live in an urban or suburban area which produces a lot of harvestable organic waste. It also assumes that you can buy the lightweight row covers and the materials to make hoop houses and soil amendments as necessary.

    Thus, it is not the same as Christine Jones and her prescriptions for broad-acre farming with animals and cereal crops, or with the forest gardening approach of Mark Sheppard in Wisconsin.

    The book covers both the Upper South (roughly north of Atlanta) and the Lower South (down to the tropical regions of southern Florida and parts of Louisiana).
    The most basic problem for gardening in this region is that sun arrives before warm weather. We get the same sun in April we get in August, but it is a lot hotter in August. Perhaps the most favorable weather for growing is after Labor Day, but the days are shorter and plants don’t photosynthesize as much. If you study Mark Sheppard, you will find that he prefers perennials to the annuals covered in this book because the perennials do not spend precious time in the spring making roots…the growth of leaves is more attuned to the maximum sunshine cycle. The annual gardener uses a variety of tricks to deal with the cyclical mismatch, which the book explains in admirable detail.

    So this book does not provide a ‘one size fits all’ solution to everything relative to food in 2014, much less a solution to every problem you might encounter in a complete collapse of industrial civilization, or a climate crisis such as some expect.

    But for what it does do, the book is exemplary. As befits its French gardening heritage, coupled with the contribution of African Americans, the book provides a monthly plan: what you need to do, when to start seeds indoors, when to sow seeds outdoors, what you can expect to harvest, seasonal tips. The result is year round food production…especially in the Lower South. In the Upper South, there are leafy greens to harvest right through the winter, and things such as root crops to eat from your root cellar or cool storage or from non-frozen soil.

    The last section of the book consists of crop specific instructions, including seed saving. Here, for example, are the directions for growing broccoli, a cool season crop:

    ‘For spring plantings, transplant outside before February 15 in the Lower South and as late as 1 April in the mountains and Upper South. Start your transplants 4 to 6 weeks before setting out. Sow seeds one quarter to one half inch deep, two per inch, in rows six inches apart. Transplant at 12-16 inches apart in raised beds or 3 to 4 foot rows. Keep your plants growing steadily with even moisture and fertile, well-drained soil. A deep layer of mulch will help cool the plants in warm weather. For fall broccoli, sow seeds directly in a garden seedling bed under row cover or in flats kept in a shady place 10 to 12 weeks before the first hard freeze. Keep the seed bed moist, but don’t delay waiting for cooler, wetter, weather. If you don’t have water for keeping seedlings moist outside, start transplanting indoors instead. Use row cover to protect from flea beetles and cabbage worms, especially on young plants. Remove when plants are full size. Broccoli is an ideal fall crop to follow tomatoes or melons in areas with mild winters.’

    The author describes the joys of winter carrots:
    ‘Carrots get sweeter with cool temperatures. Fall carrots can be left in well-mulched raised beds as needed until spring (unless you start finding animal damage). If your ground freezes hard, however, harvest your carrots and store somewhere cool, moist, and well ventilated. A root cellar is ideal, but perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator may last several months.’

    The book tells you which varieties of corn resist corn ear worms, how to deal with ‘prone to rot’ eggplant seeds and a host of other crop specific tidbits of information that you would probably have learned from your parents in an earlier generation. We learn that lima beans will not set pods at temperatures above 80F or in cold or wet weather, and that pea vines are more resistant to freezing than the pods, so spring-sown peas can get a running start (harking back to the mismatch between sunshine and temperature cycles I mentioned initially).

    The book is very well organized. I find little to fault, and much to praise. Whatever may happen in terms of the collapse of industrial civilization or the destabilization of the climate, the knowledge in this book needs to be part of your muscle memory.

    The book shows how to harvest rainwater off your roof with gutters and barrels. If this infuriates you, the book is not for you.

    Don Stewart

    • Don S. – Send me an email with your snail mail address and I will send you a copy of my book. wvhaugen@hotmail.com. Put F.A. Farm in the subject line so it makes it pass my junk mail filter.

    • Thanks for the information.

      • ordinaryjoe says:

        Was this- no it cant be- sarcasm from the normally stoic Gail?
        Thats it Its all true. Collapse tomorrow.

        • No, my response isn’t intended to be sarcastic. I just don’t have anything very enlightening to say on the subject. All of these ideas take a lot of work and commitment on the part of those who are interested in them.

          • ordinaryjoe says:

            My mistake – AGAIN! What is that saying about fools being better to keep their mouth shut…

    • Jarvis says:

      Don, It would be interesting for you to suggest a list of books that you want on your shelf before SHTF. I’ll start by suggesting “The Knowledge” by Dartnell. or how to re-start civilization from scratch.

      • B9K9 says:

        Well, I’d add a little George Bernard Shaw to that list. Over 100 years ago, he and his fellow intellectuals had the game completely figured out. The iron fist has been artfully covered in velvet ever since abundant, free flowing energy allowed the PTB to utilize more sophisticated psychological control measures. But diminishing marginal utility will force their hand – knowing how the world really works may allow the astute to successfully navigate the legal highwaymen:

        Major Barbara (1903)
        Undershaft “Think of the men and lads torn to pieces with shrapnel and poisoned with lyddite! The oceans of blood, not one drop of which is shed in a really just cause! The ravaged crops! The peaceful peasants forced, women and men, to till their fields under the fire of opposing armies on pain of starvation! The bad blood of fierce little cowards at home who egg on others to fight for the gratification of their national vanity! All of this makes money for me: I am never richer, never busier than when the papers of full of it.

        Undershaft “The government of your country! I am the government of your country. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gable shop, can govern Undershaft? No, my friend: you will do what pays us. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn’t. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need. When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police & military. And in return, you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining that you are great statesmen. Government of your country! I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune.”

        • yt75 says:

          For me a kind of truly “prescient”(or prophetic) book regarding our time is “one season in hell” from Rimbaud (and the illuminations as well), although not sure how it goes through translation though, but for instance :”Oh, we now so worthy of such tortures, let us fervently grasp this superhuman promise made to our created bodies and souls: this promise, this madness! Elegance, science, violence! They’ve promised the tree of good and evil will be buried in darkness, the tyrannical virtues will be deported, so we can bring here our love so pure. It began with certain disgusts and it ends – we being unable to seize this eternity all at once – it ends with a riot of perfumes.

          Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, horror of the faces and objects here, hallowed be you by the memory of this vigil. It began with all boorishness, behold, it ends with angels of fire and ice. ”
          (from the illuminations)

          or :
          “Ah, Science! Everything is taken from the past. For the body and the soul, – the last sacrament, – we have Medicine and Philosophy, household remedies and folk songs rearrainged. And royal entertainments, and games that kings forbid! Geography, Cosmography, Mechanics, Chemistry!…

          Science, the new nobility! Progress. The world moves!… And why shouldn’t it?

          We have visions of numbers. We are moving toward the Spirit. What I say is oracular and absolutely right. I understand, and since I cannot express myself except in pagan terms, I would rather keep quiet.”

          These aren’t very good translations, there must be some better ones.
          The time is around 1873, also at the heart of the first industrial revolution.

          Baudelaire also has some quite amazing texts regarding “progress” etc, in “fusées”, but cannot find any translations.

          • yt75 says:

            An example from Baudelaire “fusées” (Rockets)

            The world is coming to an end. The only reason for
            which it can continue is that it exists. How weak that
            reason is, compared to all that announce the opposite,
            particularly to this: What has the world henceforth to
            do beneath the sky? For, supposing that it continue to
            exist materially, would it be an existence worthy of the
            name and of the Historical Dictionary? I do not say
            that the world will be reduced to the expedients and
            the comic disorder of the South American Republics,
            that perhaps we shall return to the savage state, and
            that we shall go, across the grassy ruins of our civiliza-
            tion, seeking our pasture, gun in hand. No; for these
            adventures presuppose a remnant of vital energy, echo
            of the earliest ages. New example and new victims of
            the inexorable moral laws, we shall perish by that throu^
            which we thought to live. The mechanical will so have
            Americanized us, progress will so have atrophied all our
            spiritual side, that naught, in the sanguine, sacrilegious
            or unnatural dreams of the Utopians can be compared
            to the actual outcome. I ask every thinking man to
            show me what of life remains. Of religion, I believe it
            useless to speak, and to seek the remnants, since to take
            the trouble to deny God is the only scandal in that field.
            Property virtually disappeared with the suppression of
            the right of the first-bom; but the time will come when
            humanity, like an avenging ogre, will snatch their last
            morsel from those who think they are the legitimate
            heirs of the revolutions. Still, that will not be the su-
            preme ill.

            The human imagination can conceive, without too
            much trouble, republics or other community states,
            worthy of some glory, if directed by consecrated men, by
            definite aristocrats. But it is not particularly in politi-
            cal institutions that there will be manifest the universal
            ruin, or the universal progress; for the name matters
            little. It will be in the debasement of the heart. Need I
            say that the little of the political remaining will writhe
            painfully in the embrace of the general bestiality, and
            that governments will be forced, in order to maintain
            themselves and to create a phantom of order, to revert to
            means which will make our actual humanity shudder,
            although so hardened? Then, the son will flee from his
            family not at eighteen years, but at twelve, emancipated
            by his gluttonous precocity; he will flee, not in search of
            heroic adventures, not to deliver a beautiful prisoner in a
            tower, not to immortalize a garret by sublime thoughts,
            but to establish a trade, to amass wealth, and to compete
            with his infamous papa, founder and stockholder of a
            journal which will spread the light and which will cause
            the century to be looked upon as an abettor of supersti-
            tion. Then, the wanderers, the outcasts, those who have
            had several lovers, and who were once called angels, in
            recognition of the heedlessness which shines, light of luck,
            in their existence logical as evil — then these, I say, will
            be no more than a pitiless wisdom, a wisdom that will
            condemn all, lacking money, all, even the faults of the
            senses! Then, that which will resemble virtue, what do
            I say? — all that is not ardor toward Plutus will be con-
            sidered enormously ridiculous. Justice, if in that fortu-
            nate period justice can still exist, will interdict all citi-
            zens who cannot make a fortune. Your wife, O Bourgeois!
            your chaste partner, whose legitimacy is the poetry of
            your existence, thenceforth, introducing into legality an
            irreproachable infamy, zealous and loving guardian of
            your strongbox, will be no more than the ideal of the.
            kept woman. Your daughter, with infantile hopes of
            marriage, will dream in her cradle of selling herself for a
            million, and you yourself, O Bourgeois, still less poet
            than you are to-day, you will see nothing amiss; you will
            regret naught. For there are things in men that strength-
            en and prosper as others weaken and decline ; and, thanks
            to the progress of the times, you will have left of your
            entrails only the viscera! These times are perhaps quite
            near; who knows even that they have not come, and
            that the thickness of oui skins is not the only obstacle
            that prevents us from appreciating the environment in
            which we breathe?

            As for me, who sometimes feel in me the ridicule of a
            prophet, I know that I shall never find in myself the
            charity of a doctor. Lost in this vile world, jostled by
            the crowds, I am as a tired man who sees behind him,
            in the depths of the years, only disillusion and bitterness^
            and ahead, only a storm that carries nothing new, neither
            knowledge nor grief. The evening that man stole from
            fate a few hours of pleasure, cradled in his digestion,
            forgetful — as far as possible — of the past, content with
            the present and resigned to the future, intoxicated with
            his sangfroid and his dandyism, proud of being less base
            than those who passed, he said, watching the smoke of
            his cigar: ”What does it matter to me where these con-
            sciences are going?”

            I think I have achieved what mechanics call an extra.
            However, I shall retain these pages, — because I want to
            date my sadness.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      “The book shows how to harvest rainwater off your roof with gutters and barrels”

      Uh does this really have to be taught. I must be jaded. I just naturally think ANY surface created that sheds water gets gutters for backup if nothing else. The doghouse gets gutters. To be returned to the “natural path of flow into the ground” per the law of course.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear OrdinaryJoe
        I should resolve to only say nice things, or keep my mouth shut. Perhaps a New Year’s Resolution.

        Don Stewart

      • Christian says:

        Rainwater collection is quite simple, while there is one issue: it’s not mineralized (and some mineralization is needed in drinking water). I’ve seen a network of rainwater colleting network in Belgium (don’t remember the name) that used to add stones to the cistern to mineralize it (not needed if the cistern is concrete made). They’ve tested their water and in most cases it did better than city’s.

        They add a trap I can’t describe here between the gutter and the cistern to catch leaves and organic stuff that could harm water quality.

      • InAlaska says:

        You can also take young sapling trees, cut them lengthwise and hollow out the middle following the long chord, hang them under your house and, presto, you have a gutter. If you have birch trees, stripping the waterproof bark whole off of the trees and then fashioning them into a lightweight gutter system also works. Native Alaskan folk have been using birch bark to hold, channel and direct water for 10,000 years.

    • Artleads says:

      I would lower my expectation of what books and book learning can do. If we suppose that only mass change is likely to make any dent in our situation (if that) then what will appeal to and modify behavior of the masses? I vote for minimal information –something effortless and no-brainer. One pillar of that method applied to gardening is to conduct all gray water into growing areas. Nothing more initially. Abundant water supply is perhaps they main resource for growing food.

  18. Pingback: Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out | wchildblog

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  20. Paul says:

    8 Charts Showing the Real State of the American Economy



    • ordinarjoe says:

      All of those stats are bogus now. They are old stats from when there was only one money supply and money generally equated consumption. Now there is two, the funny money and the consumption money and it jacks the charts. All you got to do is go to a flea market where people are going to look and socialize with no intention of buying or look under the bridges to see we are in depression. Even that word is deceivingly innocuous for what lies ahead.

      • Paul says:

        My interpretation of the charts on that page was that they demonstrate the US is in a very deep Depression

        • Rodster says:

          I would go as far as to say that the World is in a deep depression. Economies printing monopoly money, economies contracting, jobless rates at record highs. Add riots, violence and it’s a pretty depressing picture.

          • VPK says:

            It’s not like we weren’t warned about it all….I remember the long gas lines of the 1970’s. This time around the pumps won’t be open tomorrow or ever.
            People in general take the easy way out for the time being.

        • ordinaryjoe says:

          Yes they point the right way but the map that they paint is no longer a good one- too much noise.. What does money velocity mean when there are two different moneys, consumption$ and infinityfinance$. Separating the two $ out would pint a similar but more accurate picture. More importantly it would illustrate that the link between financial system health and the ‘economy” ie consumption level is severed permanently

      • B9K9 says:

        Flea market? I keep telling you guys & gals, as a life long Calif native living by the coast, every day is like a weekend. Summer has always been busy, for obvious reasons, but once school began, the beach was usually left to the locals.

        Now, while not approaching summertime levels, there are always a lot of people around. Whether jogging, strolling, walking the dog, etc, it never has the traditional off-season “ghost town” appeal that was always so alluring. After all, even a tranny (ie transplant) like Don Henley sang:

        “Nobody on the road
        Nobody on the beach
        I feel it in the air
        The summer’s out of reach
        Empty lake, empty streets
        The sun goes down alone”

        I’ve lived that experience my whole life; not any more. Anyway, this is all obvious and interesting only from an Internet discussion perspective. What it really means, at a foundational level, is the 500 years period where uppity serfs thought they had achieved some kind of social parity is coming to an end.

        OJ had a great line: “governments are the ultimate preppers”. How true. For some reason, I continue to use William the Bastard’s successful conquest of GB. And what’s the first thing he did after victory? The doomsday book, where he took inventory of every person of consequence, ostensibly for taxation purposes, but also to determine the lay of the land of potential opposition.

        Governments do not represent people – rather, they represent the power that controls the guns. Energy slaves have provided us with a nice comfortable existence, but when it begins to get real, we’ll begin to see the traditional forms of repression that have served elites for 10s of thousands of years.

        • Paul says:


          I wonder what the PTB will look like post collapse….

          Will we get any degree of central control e.g. the Roman Empire…

          Or do we get small localized kingdoms?

          History does not repeat — but will it rhyme?

          No doubt the new normal will involve unbridled totalitarianism (Koombaya has never succeeded throughout the ages)

        • You may be correct. Having a lot of extra energy allows things to be different from what they otherwise would be.

  21. Liquid Assets says:

    “The world is in a dangerous place now.” Your opening sentence shows you have little knowledge of history and have no problem playing the fear card in your writing.

    • Maybe I understand my readers.

      Also, I do understand that there is something to fear ahead. Liquid assets that can be converted to cash quickly are not really good enough. They need to be converted to “real” things like food, gasoline, and spare parts for automobiles.

      • richard says:

        “The world is in a dangerous place now.” I would agree that this view needs some qualification, and that a narrow focus on the preferred use of oil, mostly diesel, for transportation, allows some false hopes.
        The driver for the present coincident crises is the financial system, and the timing of the next series of events is determined initially by interest paid on debt and the rates of losses, including bankruptcies. The money supply will continue to inflate while prices fall. These falls in price will cause jobs to be lost. This process will continue until either debts are forgiven, or until a sufficiently large speculative event, including wars, causes hyperinflation. These events are not mutually exclusive in the short run.
        I would concur with most of the work on oil supply and demand, we do indeed live in interesting times.

      • Simple Simon says:

        When i was younger and even more foolish than now, I used to ride motorcycles far too fast. I am alive through luck and a tactic that i see as relevant now:
        I was taught that, when i made a mistake on the bike, and was heading off the road involuntarily, to NOT look at the powerpole/car whatever nasty obstruction I was scared of smearing myself all over.
        Rather, look for the gaps. Let your peripheral awareness take care of the nasties, and focus on the “least bad” solution.
        Your automatic biocomputer will often (usually has) kick in, and operate at an amazing level of integration of logic and intuitive functions.
        There is no doubt in my mind that we are heading for a economic, social and population crash.
        I am here to share ideas, and in terms of the analogy above, to keep my peripheral awareness informed as I aim for something that vaguely resembles a solution.
        I am not as optimistic as Don Stewart here – but i value his solution-oriented approach.
        I am not as pessimistic as Paul, but I value his insights into greasy road/power pole nasties out there.
        I value Gail as the calm biocomputer behind the blog – here are the facts as i see them, without emotional undertow.
        Good luck to us all 🙂

        • Thanks for your insights. I agree that we all need to be “looking for the gaps.”

          And it probably makes sense to try different approaches, including those advocated by Don. Perhaps some things will work, at least for a while. Diversification is what is usually recommended for investments, and that is the case here as well.

        • ordinaryjoe says:

          “Rather, look for the gaps. ”
          Liter plus? Not to many gaps at 150.
          My thoughts as the hard hard ground rose to reach me were” Im gonna die and its not worth it”.

      • there will be a lot of necessary ‘real’ things—but I find it interesting that you give two out of three ‘things’ as relevent to transportation.
        Transportation does not equate with lasting prosperity.
        It is roughly on a par with saying ‘if we can make horseshoes we will always have food to eat.’ (via ploughing-food production).. so everybody concentrates on horse shoe making.
        Wheels do not provide our prosperity. It was our aggregated prosperity that provided wheels, particularly over the last century.

    • ordinarjoe says:

      I disagree with your sentiment. I honestly believe Gail communicates things the way she sees them. She is not playing the fear card or any other cards she writes to communicate not to influence but to share her perspective. Personally I value that perspective although as you see from my comments I sometimes question it. The fact that she tolerates ingrates like me demonstrates an openness to all perspectives and places a value on open communication. All of these actions demonstrate to me that Gail is not out to “play” anyone as your metaphor suggests.

    • Christian says:

      I would say Gail is rather soft in her presentation of our predicament on her articles

      • Paul says:

        Agree. I suspect some of the apocalyptic predictions and conclusions that I and some of the other contributors post here are things that she would like to post … but refrains from in the interest of NOT being perceived as a prophet of doom.

        • VPK says:

          With the Republicans gaining power, we all can be ay ease:
          Their votes also put the Senate’s environment and climate policy into the hands of the worst science-denier in national politics: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is almost certainly the next chair of the Senate Environment

          • Paul says:

            I used to — but now I have no problem with climate deniers (other than the fact that they are stupid).

            The fact of the matter is that if we stop burning fossil fuels — or even if we slowed the consumption of fossil fuels —- the global economy will collapse in a heap of rubble.

            Billions will die — perhaps everyone — and we lose control of the thousands of spent nuclear fuel rod ponds that require the full force of BAU to keep them cooled.

            Burn baby burn! Drill baby drill! It’s not like we have a choice in the matter.

            We dug our graves a long time ago

            • Jeremy says:

              For sure, but the show during congressional hearings between Bernie Sanders and Inhofe will provide comic relief and justify our grave!

              As Edward Abbey stated;
              “It’s a GREAT COUNTRY, no one will take you seriously as long as you speak the truth, the absolute truth.”

            • Paul says:


              Now imagine what the reaction would be if a politician went on the teevee and told people the truth — which is we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t…

    • Paul says:

      One would have to be stupid or ignorant to not fear what is coming…

  22. jonzo says:

    “Saying [oil and gas] is there but we’re not going to get it out — that’s utter bullshit,” said Philip Verleger, an energy analyst. “As technological progress moves forward, shale that’s not accessible now will become accessible in the future.”

    What are the Tech Advancements ? And do they actually bring oil and gas recovery costs down ?


  23. Pingback: Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out - Techhic

  24. Paul says:

    And today’s winner of the Koombaya Award is………………… Mother Jones!!!!!

    Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts

    “Cheaper panels and a raft of local and state incentives, plus a federal tax credit that shaves 30 percent off the cost of upgrading.”


    Of course this article does not have a comments section — because if it did cynics like me would post that comment above and ask how quickly the BOOM would end if those massive subsidies were retracted.

    And how solar is actually NOT cheaper when you factor in the subsidies.

    Seriously — you could try all day long and not be able to make up such a ridiculous story… you could feed me stupid pills and STILL I could not come up with this masterpiece of idiocy…

    But the sheeple will point to this and say solar is our saviour… and take out their drums and thump away while singing Koombaya….

    • edpell says:

      How is the grid parity at midnight?

    • It is not cheaper when you consider the tiny savings to utilities. You really have to look at total system costs and benefits. Solar PV allows natural gas and coal to be saved to be burned in the future. There is generally an extract cost for power lines. It makes absolutely no sense to compare the cost of electricity generated to by solar panels to the electricity charge to a consumer, but that is exactly what is done in most cases. In fact, that is what is generally meant by “grid parity.” In fact, the savings to the utility is tiny in most cases. The major exception would be where there is a lot of hydro backup available. Also, if the fossil fuel being burned is oil, the cost can be so high that it may make sense to use solar PV.

  25. Paul says:

    All lights are about to go out. No more electricity. All forms of transportation are about to stop, and the planet Earth will soon have a crust of skulls and bones and dead machinery. And nobody can do a thing about it. It’s too late in the game. Don’t spoil the party, but here’s the truth: We have squandered our planet’s resources, including air and water, as though there were no tomorrow, so now there isn’t going to be one.

    ~ Kurt Vonnegut

  26. Pingback: Today’s News November 10, 2014 | The One Hundredth Monkey

  27. Paul says:

    The System Is Terminally Broken

    The Fed has formally “ended” QE, but it hasn’t really. The Fed will continue reinvesting interest on its portfolio in more bonds and it will rollover maturities. We saw what happens to the stock market a few weeks ago when Fed official James Bullard asserted that the Fed needs to start raising rates: the S&P 500 quickly dropped 8%. Right at the bottom of the drop, the very same Bullard issued a statement suggesting that QE should be extended. This triggered an insanely abrupt “V” move back up to a new record high for the S&P 500. Bullard either did this intentionally or is a complete idiot.

    The stock market can’t function without Federal Reserve intervention. The stock market lost 8% quickly on just the thought that the Fed might start raising rates. Imagine what would happen if the Fed decided to “experiment” by shutting down its market intervention operations – both verbal and physical – for a month…


    • Christian says:

      I believe calling QE such a kind of reinvestment is misleading, because while of course the CB is obviously intervening in the markets there is no creation of money (or so they say)

    • Christian says:

      Sure QE still goes on in JPY and EUR

  28. VPK says:

    Invisible unemployment:
    We’re adding lots of jobs in industries with stagnant wages, and a few jobs in industries with rising wages, according to new research out of the Cleveland Fed. “It may seem counterintuitive that wages and salaries are growing the slowest in industries where jobs are growing the fastest, but it actually is not,” writes LaVaughn M. Henry, vice president of the bank’s Cincinnati branch. We’re adding few jobs in goods-producing industries like manufacturing, which have the highest overall post-recession wage growth, and lots of jobs in service-producing industries (e.g. health care, leisure and hospitality, and education), which have the lowest real wage growth.
    What is “invisible unemployment”? It’s discouraged workers and part-timers who want more hours. The official unemployment rate doesn’t consider them unemployed. So when we talk about the official unemployment rate—now at a lowish 5.8 percent—we’re ignoring these workers. They’re statistically invisible.

    • Rodster says:

      “What is “invisible unemployment”? It’s discouraged workers and part-timers who want more hours. The official unemployment rate doesn’t consider them unemployed. So when we talk about the official unemployment rate—now at a lowish 5.8 percent—we’re ignoring these workers. They’re statistically invisible.”

      As the saying goes: “It just goes to show how figures lie and liars figure”. When Govt’s resort to this level of deceit and trickery you know we are nearing the end game.

    • Thanks for the link. Good points!

  29. VPK says:

    Just what California needs more Earthquakes!
    Seems frackings induces more seismic activity!
    The BIG ONE may come sooner than we think!
    Due to our own “fault”
    Since summer, Nevada has seen hundreds of earthquakes, some coming in bunched groups called swarms, which appear to have intensified recently. Since July, hundreds of small quakes have hit an area in the Northwest portion of the state near the Sheldon National Wildlife refuge, and they have become even stronger since October 30. Since the end of October there have been three with a magnitude of 4.0 or above. There was a similar swarm in September in Southern California, where 500 events were registered within two days. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) says that these swarms are not uncommon, and that while there is a slightly increased risk of more serious seismic events occurring during a swarm, it is not necessarily an indication that a major quake is imminent
    Before 2008 Oklahoma averaged just one earthquake greater than magnitude 3.0 a year. So far this year there have been 430 of them, Holland said.

    Scientists have linked earthquakes in Oklahoma to drilling waste injection. Shale drilling produces large amounts of wastewater, which then is often pumped deep underground as a way to dispose of it without contaminating fresh water. Injection raises the underground pressure and can effectively lubricate fault lines, weakening them and causing earthquakes, according to the U.S Geological Survey.

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  31. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Some thought provoking reading for those with open minds. Read the following against the backdrop of Renzo Piano’s statement about his New York Times building in Manhattan:
    ‘I like the idea that this century is opening up with a discovery that the earth is fragile and the environment is vulnerable. Fragility, breathing with the earth and the environment, is part of a new culture. I thought the Times Building should have the qualities of lightness, vibrancy, transparency, and immateriality.’

    Here’s the link to the Guardian article:

    Is the decline in commodity prices a sign of the final collapse of financial capitalism, or the sign of the victory of the immaterial, or just a conventional business cycle? Are there any Shakespeares around to help us read the tea leaves?

    Is Piano insightful, or deluded?

    Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      He talks a good game. I can do that too. So no, I’d say deluded. It looks more like letting increased light into the old paradigm than anything else. IMO, what the “construction” community should be doing is retrofitting what’s already there so it’s somewhat resilient after oil. That, and bringing nature (in a major way) into the city. However, the economic order might be more amenable to building underground as a way to save space. Save energy too. That approach could be big and wasteful (as the economic order might demand) but it would be more resourceful than a big glass box that requires so much glass and energy.

  32. Paul says:

    Going Dark (Amazon Best Books of 2014)

    We are the last individuals of our species on Earth. How shall we respond? How shall we act?

    If industrial civilization is maintained, climate change will cause human extinction in the near term.

    If industrial civilization falls, sufficient ionizing radiation will be released from the world’s nuclear power plants to cause human extinction in the near term.

    In the wake of this horrific conclusion, conservation biologist Guy McPherson proposes we act with compassion, courage, and creativity. He suggests we act with the kind of empathy for which humans are renowned. In other words, he suggests we act with decency toward the humans and other organisms with which we share this beautiful planet. Going Dark is the story of one scientist’s response to the horrors we face. It is a deeply personal narrative infused with abundant evidence to support its terrifying claims. In the words of syndicated cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, McPherson’s “”approach is disarming and his message is both life-changing and convincingly alarming. A blend of Paul Revere with Rachel Carson, Guy McPherson is a significant voice of rational conscience nudging in the wilderness. Fierce as Ed Abbey, and equally prophetic, Professor McPherson is a modern-day John Muir with a global perspective. Beyond the warnings is a body of thoughtful and pragmatic real world ideas.”” “Going Dark peels the shadow from the cozy dreams we’ve all bought into. You know the ones: technology will save us from climate change; the products we consume are endless and untainted; our modern idea of happiness and convenience doesn’t crush others; the heartbeat of the industrial economy that pulses within us all is sustainable and ethical. McPherson’s latest work will make you think twice, twice. If you feel discomfort as you read you are reading it correctly.” -Cameron Conaway, author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet


    • Christian says:

      What a cover

    • edpell says:

      Paul, as a physicist and graduate of the nuclear engineering and applied physics department of Columbia’s engineering school I am not as worried about about spent fuel pool as you. I would not want to live within 10 miles of untended pools but that is the degree of my concern.

      • VPK says:

        More on Fukushima..The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
        1) The site itself is far from under control. No one knows where the
        melted cores of reactors 1, 2, and 3 are located. What’s clear is that
        they have burned through their containers, and are in immediate contact
        with groundwater. This water is now heavily contaminated
        with radioactive isotopes, including plutonium, strontium 90, and other
        life-threatening elements. It flows freely into the ocean and connects
        with nearby aquifers that supply drinking water to northern Japan,
        including Tokyo. The recent typhoons made this problem worse, and the
        site is in a high earthquake and typhoon zone, so will continue to be damaged by nature.
        2) Japan continues to suppress information about health consequences and
        spread of radiation. The new secrecy law, which gives steep penalties
        for breaches of national security- undefined, but including information
        about Fukushima- hasn’t gone into effect yet- this happens next
        month. It’s scary to think of what will happen to brave Japanese
        doctors and journalist who speak out once it’s implemented.
        3) The creatures of the Pacific ocean are sick or missing altogether- radiation from Fukushima must play a major role. If life in the oceans dies, what happens to life on dry land?

      • Christian says:

        Nor living downstream or on a sea fish base diet, I guess

      • Christian says:

        Epdell, you’ve said once that the reactors become “safe” (=not explosive) if the rods are removed (and then sent to the pool I infer). The pools can explode if they become dry because of the excess hydrogen formed and that would lead to radiation release to the air and surrounding water and soil. Now you seem to be suggesting in this case the amount of radiation would be lesser than in the case of a melting core. Because we can perhaps live now beyond say a 10 miles distance from Tchernobyl core, but this one was entombed after the explosion and this kind of closure is not likely to happen if a pool explodes by lack of societal care.

        • Paul says:

          The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.

          Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.


          Feel free to contact the authors of this to find out where they are getting that info from:

          Additional reporting by James Topham and Mari Saito; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

          • Christian says:

            Paul, Argentina is antipodean of Japan

          • Christian says:

            And in case this 14000 small A bombs radiation will be released, it will happen within a period of thousands or millions of years

            • Paul says:

              I didn’t notice that in the article… my understanding that was when a pond like this is left without cooling that it will explode in one go … releasing that amount of radiation.

              Of course there are thousands of these spent fuel ponds around the world…. all ticking time bombs…

              it would be interesting to have a guest post on this site provided by someone who has a deep understanding of this issue….

              I personally would find it EXTREMELY valuable — because if I knew with a high degree of confidence that when BAU ends, extinction begins…. then I’d end all collapse preparations… and I’d start an endless global backpacking tour…

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              “I personally would find it EXTREMELY valuable — because if I knew with a high degree of confidence that when BAU ends, extinction begins…. then I’d end all collapse preparations… and I’d start an endless global backpacking tour…’

              HMMMM now were talking, what figure are we talking about Paul? I can provide you with a swift banking #… 🙂

            • VPK says:

              I, myself, am leaning towards the worldwide backpacker trip, while flush toilets still operate.
              At my age, nearing 60, can not imagine the young will not push me off the boat when the storm hits.

            • A lot of the world doesn’t use Western toilets. In fact, sanitation is a big problem in many lesser-developed countries. The “while flush toilets still operate” comment may not be very applicable, if you venture very far from Western culture.

            • Paul says:

              Stockpile toilet paper…. or as Beavis once famously said TP…

            • ordinaryjoe says:

              “I didn’t notice that in the article… my understanding that was when a pond like this is left without cooling that it will explode in one go … releasing that amount of radiation.”

              They have to be pretty fresh from the reactor to have that much spunk. I think they cool down so that wont occur after just a couple years. Not that they wont still catch fire if exposed to atmosphere and dump “harmless low level radiation ” into the atmosphere that way. Maybe someone more knowledgeable could comment Ed or Robert.

            • Paul says:

              We really need an expert to weigh on this as it is a rather critical topic.

            • giels890 says:

              Here is a long winded report on the subject of spent fuel rods:
              Main danger is zirconium cladding fire. Good overview on the subject
              Also, “How dangerous are spent fuel rod pools themselves?”

            • Paul says:

              Well…. I seem to have finally hunted down the definitive article on this topic — and I am left slightly nauseous after reading this….

              Here’s is the punchline:

              The problem is if the spent fuel gets too close, they will produce a fission reaction and explode with a force much larger than any fission bomb given the total amount of fuel on the site. All the fuel in all the reactors and all the storage pools at this site (1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion. In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material.

              – See more at: http://www.dcbureau.org/20110314781/natural-resources-news-service/fission-criticality-in-cooling-ponds-threaten-explosion-at-fukushima.html#sthash.wWOBRbSA.dpuf

              1. I understand there are around 4000 of these pools around the world

              2. Post collapse how do we keep these cooled? We are having trouble with containing Fukushima – even with a fully functional BAU

              3. I assume that even after a fuel pond explodes it continues to spew large doses of radiation into the air and water indefinitely

              4. If the cooling ponds at one plant alone – Fukushima – were to explode – that alone might constitute an extinction event (1760 tons of uranium….)

              5. Now imagine what thousands of ponds exploding means….

              No wonder the PTB are doing nothing other than trying to keep the hamster running for as long as possible…. when the hamster stops…

              We are done.

              The weight of the world rests on the shoulders of that poor little hamster….

            • Christian says:

              We are seeing in all docs closeness is critical for criticallity (excuse the noisy phrase), but I assume if an earthquake + a tsunami didn’t got those rods close enough to fission it’s not to fear just dryness will do it.

            • Paul says:

              If the cooling water is not pumped over the rods — you get the same result:

              The Problems with Spent Fuel Pools

              When fuel rods in a nuclear reactor are “spent,” or no longer usable, they are removed from the reactor core and replaced with fresh fuel rods. The spent fuel rods are still highly radioactive and continue to generate significant heat for decades. The fuel assemblies, which consist of dozens to hundreds of fuel rods each, are moved to pools of water to cool. They are kept on racks in the pool, submerged in more than twenty feet of water, and water is continuously circulated to draw heat away from the rods and keep them at a safe temperature.

              If a malfunction, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack causes the water to leak from the pool or the cooling system to stop working, the rods will begin to heat the remaining water in the pool, eventually causing it to boil and evaporate. If the water that leaks or boils away cannot be replenished quickly enough, the water level will drop, exposing the fuel rods.

              Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire, which in turn could further heat up the fuel until it suffers damage.

              Such an event could release large amounts of radioactive substances, such as cesium-137, into the environment. This would start in more recently discharged spent fuel, which is hotter than fuel that has been in the pool for a longer time.

              A typical spent fuel pool in the United States holds several hundred tons of fuel, so if a fire were to propagate from the hotter to the colder fuel a radioactive release could be very large.


              When the SHTF we go fairly primitive fairly quickly …. oil stops … chaos is the order of the day… I am uncertain as to how a high tech operation like a fuel pond storage facility continues to operate in such an environment…

              It would seem that all it would take is one of the thousands of ponds to explode…

              Now imagine what would happen to Fukushima if the power went off and the massive pumps that are showering the melted core and the spent fuel ponds with tonnes of water every day…. stopped.

            • Christian says:

              Even if “Both United States and Japanese governments have for decades allowed re-racking of the pools to reduce the originally-designed minimum safe distance between the assemblies so that more rods can be stored in each pool”

            • Christian says:

              Right. Zirconium fire and subsequent radioactive release. Not criticality, id est no mega explosion. That release is what I was referring to as a very long release. Cesium has a mid life of 30 years, not so much as the other stuff.

              At least, that’s what I get from all this intrincated info.

              Btw, we are starting to temporally coincide when posting. It’s midnight here and I suppose it’s midday in Bali, have a nice lunch (I had just take my dinner, we like to live late in Arg and I am particularly nocturnal)

            • Paul says:

              Have a good one…. it is indeed time for lunch on this side of the planet…

            • alturium says:

              In case this point was missed, the spent fuel rods are four (!) stories above at reactor building 4. The building has been reinforced, but what if an earthquake hits…

          • Christian says:

            It really looks like Homer Simpson can do better than TEPCO… This is a one year story, is it something new about this removal operation?

            • Paul says:

              The thing is Japan is one of the most advanced tech societies on the planet — and they have demonstrated a willingness to print and spend hundreds of billions of dollars on far less critical projects… also add to the fact that other countries downstream would want this problem sorted out urgently as well

              Therefore I assume that if the problem has not been fixed by now it is something that cannot be fixed… that it is mostl out of the control and that the best we can do is continue to pour water onto the site to prevent an even worse outcome.

              The gates to hell have been opened with this fiasco — and there is no closing them

            • Christian says:

              We had a little explosion in Córdoba city a couple of days ago. It was a coating factory located 200 meters from the national uranium dioxide production facility (called Dioxitek). 66 persons were injured but nobody died. Half a block must be demolished now. It was a miracle the facility didn’t was damaged (I entered twice some years ago, there is a pool also). It’s incredible somebody had the idea of locating this in the middle of a million dwellers city. And it’s also incredible dangerous processes have being carried on nearby (supposedly not allowed processes). Citiy’s authorities started advocating moving the facility away a couple of years ago (and the national gov was slowly looking for another site) and yesterday they closed it down and just permit enter for maintenance, so as I understand nuclear fuel production has stopped in this country. It is said existing rods are able to feed the three reactors during three months. I don’t believe the national gov will let them down because of lack of fuel but it is getting very interesting. Perhpas this was not an accident? This would mean many people are truly decided to put an end to nuclear activity. But this is not likely, because it would have been a very risky move.

            • Thanks for the information.

              This must be a story about an earlier explosion back in 2001. http://www.funam.org.ar/dioxitek1.htm Not good in a large metro area.

              Recent stories (such as this one http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/argentina-chemical-factory-blast-injures-more-than-60-114110701212_1.html) don’t mention the nearness to the uranium processing plant.

            • Christian says:

              I’ve come to know the coating plant’s owner is a friend of one close friend I have. Of course he is jailed and so it’s impossible to talk to him but it would be a good way to know if this really was an accident… We’ll see how the story continues. Importing such a kind of uranium dioxide is not easy because it is low grade (not the usual high grade) and a similar type is only being produced in Canada. If city major is not truly decided to close the facility, the national gov can bribe him (his image is not doing well and some money could be helpful) and resume production. Hope this will not happen.

        • edpell says:

          Christan, I think the hydrogen comes from heating and radiating the water breaking the H2O to H and O. If it is in the open or has ventilation the H just drifts upward. If the H accumulates and get a spark the metal clad fuel rods filled with metal pellets may move but they most likely will stay as a solid.

          Can a spent fuel rod left in the open get hot enough to vaporize the metal that is the fuel? Maybe in the first month, I would have to research. After a year, no. Can a big bundle of fuel rods close together and in the air, no water, get hoot enough to vaporize the metal maybe at the one year mark. After five years, no.

          So, make sure your local nuke plant is storing its spent fuel rod with good dividers between them. And the pond has enough overhead water that it can go one moth untended even with projected evaporation.

          Make sure your local plant is not run by the criminally negligent and stores 10 years of spent fuel rod suspended high in a three story building over the reactor itself.

          • Christian says:

            Thank you so much Ed

            A dome is visible from outside the facility. I suppose this is the reactor and thus it would be nothing above it. And I understand spent rods are parked in a pond located aside.

            I didn’t knew vaporization could happen, just believed H induced explosions leading to roof collapse were to be feared. Just a couple of questions: Perhpas the timeframes you mention could differ upon the type of fuel rod? What kind of divider could be considered a good one?

            As I understand, in case of roof collapse (and of course water vanishing) radiation would be equally released to the air and carried by the wind, even if there is no metal vaporization. But this would be decay radiation, happening as I said before through a long, long period of time. Is it right?

            • edpell says:

              Christian, concrete with cylindrical holes with one rod per hole would be great. Or, metal framework that does not have to be solid with one fuel rod per square. I like the good quality concrete because it will last and retain its form even if earthquakes or whatever happen.

              After ten years rods go into dry concrete casks. We happen to have a company 20 miles away that designs and builds dry casks for this purpose. They are design to sit by themselves out in the open in the rain and snow or dry for, I a happy to call it at least 100 years, I have no idea what their marketing says. At 100 years you can pile fuel rods high and deep and nothing will happen.

            • Christian says:

              Thanks Ed, I’ll talk to someone who can get the corresponding info and perhaps even trigger some actions. Hope they already got these casks, it doesn’t look as your neighbors will stay on business much longer

            • Paul says:

              I was reading some other info on this topic yesterday … and I recall seeing that dry casking can only be used once the fuel rods have been cooled for a minimum of 5 years….

              There are obviously large numbers of ponds that contain rods that are less than 5 years in the water….

              And it would appear that all it would take is a single fuel pond to go up in smoke — to end all life on the planet:

              “All the fuel in all the reactors and all the storage pools at this site (1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion. In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material”

              How do we guarantee that the refreshing water continues to pour over all spent fuel ponds across the planet for years…

              And why bother — we’ll probably be better off if this is an extinction event — see:

            • “…And it would appear that all it would take is a single fuel pond to go up in smoke — to end all life on the planet:…
              “Paul – help! Can you explain how a single fuel pond could end all life on the planet?

            • Paul says:

              I would have thought this was fairly self-explanatory:

              The problem is if the spent fuel gets too close, they will produce a fission reaction and explode with a force much larger than any fission bomb given the total amount of fuel on the site. All the fuel in all the reactors and all the storage pools at this site (1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion.

              In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material

              See more at: http://www.dcbureau.org/20110314781/natural-resources-news-service/fission-criticality-in-cooling-ponds-threaten-explosion-at-fukushima.html#sthash.tcsKVm96.dpuf

              Let me do the math:1760 tons = 3,520,000 pounds.

              The two Japan bombs were 100 pounds each.

              So if this one fuel pond blew up it would be the equivalent of 35,200 Hiroshimas…

              How many fuel ponds are scattered around the world with this potential? I have read there are about 4000…

            • When you said that one fuel pond could kill all life on the planet, did you mean 7+ billion humans are were you including cockroaches and flower beetles? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-6cIy_s8pQ

          • Christian says:

            OK. Now I see dome doesn’t equal reactor

            • Paul says:

              Re: spent fuel ponds issue….

              Rather than refer to this as an extinction event…. (so negative…)

              How about we add some spin and call this a ‘Global Backpacking Tour’ event …

            • Christian says:

              Paul, if I didn’t have a child I would surely be on this tour even without all those nukes, just because of the end of BAU. you bet it!

            • Paul says:

              Given that even without the nuke issues… most people will perish …. one has to wonder what are one’s odds of being one of the lucky ones…. err…. survivors (who when faced with the bleak future resembling ‘The Road’ may not feel so lucky….)

              So plenty of reasons to do the things we’ve always wanted to do…

              We are almost certainly out of Bali and into NZ in January not because that is likely to make a difference but because that is a new adventure… and that puts us a long haul flight from South America… one place I have not seen enough of….

              Carpe diem… (or for the contemporary crowd — Just Do It) … cuz that isn’t going to be an option at some point.

            • Christian says:

              In case you ever come again to South Am be my guest if you want to visit Gardel’s country, but it’s really not much different than many places you already know. I suppose you’d go to Brazil’s beachs (that’s what I’d do), and the Amazonian forest would be great to visit I imagine. I’ve been many times in Bolivia, it’s quite an amazing country, so different from us (while they’ve found uranium recently and of course are willing to use it, even if it goes against their official pachamama politics; entropic love forever and everywhere).

              Now I’m tired, I go to bed

            • Paul says:

              Thanks – will keep that in mind – my experience of SA is limited to Brazil…

    • Reviews of the book range from 1 star to 5 stars. This is what one-star review says:

      This is absolutely the worst book I’ve read in 20 years. Don’t be misled by the publisher’s blurb, which implies this is a unitary book that develops a central theme–it is a random collection of rants from McPherson’s blog, with endless repetition of the same point, often verbatim. The writing style is random, stream-of-consciousness–and always, always entirely self-referential–as you learn immediately with his Introduction, page after page of tripe about the life and times, and excessively wrenching death, of his beloved dog.

      I haven’t read the book.

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  34. I haven’t been following this thread as much as the last one. I have been doing something more useful – harvesting food. However, let me just point out that civilization needs about a 13:1 EROI to continue (per Murphy & Hall). Natural gas is about 11:1, conventional oil is about 18:1 and tight oil is about 5:1. Ethanol is about 1.1:1. Some archaeologists estimate that harvesting wild wheat and rye in the “hilly flanks” of what is now known as Iran ran up to about 50:1. My wheat is about 25:1.

    Ugo Bardi has a post on Resilience.org right now with a good graphic of US oil since 1930. It went down from 100:1 in 1930 to 30:1 in 1970 and now sits at 11:1. I assume the lower number (11:1 instead of 13:1) is because he is including natural gas with conventional oil in the present, as the EIA now does when they publish million barrels per day of US consumption and production. [This is a textbook example of how to lie with statistics, by the way.]

    There was a simulation reported lately in Nature about MayaSim, which models the collapse of the Classic Maya. The conclusion is that you do not need a catastrophe to push a society over the edge. In our case declining EROI fits into this kind of model.

    Someone asked about the mechanism of collapse. Per Tainter, it is when marginal returns start to decline. They do not have to get to 1:1, they just have to decrease on a more-or-less consistent basis (i.e. smooth out the ups and down by regression to the mean). My own view is that started in 1968, the year I graduated high school. I go through this stuff in my books if you are interested.

    • I think needed EROEI is a moving target. Even if it was 13:1 when Murphy and Hall evaluated it, it tends to rise over time. Also, measuring it for energy sources that require a great deal of front-end investment is seriously flawed, because it does not take into account timing. See my comment to Paul–not sure this link will work. http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/11/05/oil-price-slide-no-good-way-out/comment-page-2/#comment-47109

      • “Needed” EROI is a logical fallacy. In order to keep the system going (i.e. business as usual), we need more energy. By using terms like “rising EROI” or “needed EROI,” you turn the attention away from the physics of energy extraction and deflect it to the phony sham of debt instruments. If we could get another energy source with a better set of variables than oil, we would already be using it, as demand is high.

        Energy return on investment (EROI) is based on physics and the physics of oil depletion tell us that we have picked the low-hanging fruit and now are stuck with declining EROI. [By the way, EROEI is redundant and poor grammar, as “investment” in the phrase implies the same substance. More people should have been paying attention in eight-grade English class.] All the fancy-schmancy accounting tricks and political tools can’t change the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

        The reason EROI is a “moving target” is because people lie and quibble about the numbers. This is where scientific consensus comes into play. In the same vein, “timing” is a reference to money. It has no relevance to when the energy was used and how many joules are in a gallon of gas or barrel of oil.

        • Bandits says:

          Of course you are correct the second “E” is redundant, but maybe highlights the “personal” investment in the energy required to survive.
          I don’t try quantify the EROI to explain exactly in figures, all that is required is to accept that it does. As you say………the second law. EROI has always determined the fate of civilizations, this one not excluded.
          ” More people should have been paying attention in eight-grade English class”……now that is just being a prat………..

        • alturium says:

          *noob alert*
          I can imagine that it would be difficult to calculate the antecedents for EROEI or EROI. As an example, an oil well required an oil drilling rig. How much energy went into making the oil drilling rig? Now you have back-track farther. Also, you would have to consider the financing of the maker of the oil drilling rig. Since they used debt, this implies that some amount of energy must be used in the future to pay off the debt. The cost of the oil rig is spread out over the life of the loan. The time cut-off for calculating financing is difficult since costs in the future will vary, the company is growing/shrinking, and the debt load is refinanced.

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  39. MG says:

    Today, I have read an article about the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in Czechoslovakia:


    Sorry, that it is in Slovak, but I will try to summarize the point:

    The Czech disident Peter Pithart, one of the leading personalities of that time, describes the situation in November 1989 in Czechoslovakia as the collapse with the inward direction, the implosion. The ruling communists themselves simply “let the power fall on the ground”. The Soviet Union could not back them anymore.

    The process of energy decline is a process of implosion. First comes the deflation, because all of the machines and the infrastructure based on fossil fuels lose their production capability, i.e. value. The inflation comes in the end, when the abovmentioned machines and infrastructure have completely lost their value and food and shelter are the only things that matter.

    That is why there will be no revolution that changes the world after the decline of oil production. There will be only various stages of implosion. We have nothing better than the oil that started to be extracted (and depleted) in ever larger amounts after the Great Depression of 1930`s.

    • Christian says:

      I think you’re right MG, not revolution but implotion. Nevertheless, when the soviet block implotioned there was another set of policies and people ready to take control and capitalism was quickly set in. This is rather lacking now. Good to see in your country there is some understanding on the energy-economy-politics links. Is the site you are referring to a newspaper?

      • MG says:

        Dear Christian,

        yes, the site is a newspaper. Everybody was wondering why the revolution was so peaceful. Now, when the energy-economy-politics links are clear to me, I can see the reality behind those historical events. The words of the people who were close to those changes (althuogh maybe they did not understand all the reasons and probably still do not understand all of the implications now), are very clear about the fact that the regime simply lost energy, that the whole machine of the communist cornucopian regime lost its fuel and came to standstill…

        My opinion is that the oil from the Soviet Union revived the already dead Czechoslovakia after the 2nd world war. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, in 1993, the break up of Czechoslovakia came. Again, it was so called “Velvet Divorce”.

        Now, the production of hard coal in Ostrava, comes to an end – it is less and less economical, as the coal prices fall:


        In my opinion, it was this hard coal, that created the Czechoslovakia, the railroad that connected the Czechs and Slovaks already in the 19th century, and secured the industrial success of Czechoslovakia during the 20th century.

        The cheap oil, in many cases, had the power to revive many regions that were depleted as regards the coal. This was its unique feature that is still not fully recognized.

    • That is an interesting point about implosion.

  40. edpell says:

    It is not that we have created two economies. We have instead created two currencies. There is the currency used by the owning class to buy and sell everything companies, housing, commodities, land, etc. and there is the currency used by workers, you and I, to buy food, cars, gasoline, pay rent or pay interest on the house, pay government taxes, etc. Somehow the PTB have managed to place a wall between the massive giveaways of wealth to the owning class and the currency of the working class. This places ownership increasingly out of the reach of the workers and transfers ownership increasingly to the owning class.

    It is a “legal” return to feudalism, one class owns and one class worker as they are told or they die. Yes, a lack of cheap energy will make society poorer but it will not change the social hierarchy. It will in fact return society to a simpler time “work or die peasant”.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      “It is not that we have created two economies. We have instead created two currencies. There is the currency used by the owning class to buy and sell everything companies, housing, commodities, land, etc. and there is the currency used by workers, you and I, to buy food, cars, gasoline, pay rent or pay interest on the house, pay government taxes, etc. Somehow the PTB have managed to place a wall between the massive giveaways of wealth to the owning class and the currency of the working class. This places ownership increasingly out of the reach of the workers and transfers ownership increasingly to the owning class. ‘

      The two currencies are necessary if the financial system is to survive. The two are divided not by class as you describe( “always emphasize the class differentiation” Marx) but between the imaginary money that keeps the banks alive and the money that gets spent on real goods. If the funny money got mixed with the real good money we would be in hyperinflation in a heartbeat. The separation of currencies you speak of is what enables not only continuation of the financial system but the new paradigm ,the end of inflation as a means of support for the financial system and the beginning of endless deflation/depression.

      Ed did you quit your job in NYC and start laboring in the fields as a proletariat? Not that you have to be a rich guy in NYC advocating basic Marxism solutions to be the “Owning class” though they usually are. With per capita energy use many multiples of world averages every single USA resident is a member of the “owning class”.

      • edpell says:

        Joe, I live in New York State not New York City. Up here in the north country we believe in honest capitalism not crony capitalism.

      • edpell says:

        Joe, I labor in the dark satanic mills of global semiconductor chip design and manufacture.

        • ordinarjoe says:

          Big blue eh, My mistake.
          “I labor in the dark satanic mills of global semiconductor chip design and manufacture.’
          LOL not that i ever put a bunny suit on … 🙂

    • alturium says:

      Great observation mr edpell! A Tale of Two Currencies…

      “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

      -A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens

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  42. VPK says:

    One does what one HAS to do….sometimes there is ONLY one choice…as in what we have here:

    Kagoshima governor Yuichiro Ito said restarting two reactors at the Sendai power station would go ahead despite the concerns of residents.
    “All things considered, I must say that we still need to rely on nuclear energy, and it is extremely important for us to steadily carry out the plan,” Ito told a news conference
    The minister of economy, trade and industry Yoichi Miyazawa, who visited Kagoshima to urge the governor to support the government’s energy policy, applauded Kagoshima’s announcement. “Gaining local residents’ understanding is very important,” he said.

    After all one does anything to keep the lights on, regardless of what the little people protest

    • When there is a choice between starving in the dark and a fairly small possibility of a near-term blow up, I can understand the decision.

      • Paul says:

        Or if the PTB know that the world is going to be made uninhabitable post collapse by thousands of exploding nuclear ponds … then might as well spark up another plant and to hell with the risks…

        On a related note…. the consensus seems to be that the only option for survival would be to return to the earth and grow food.

        Surely the PTB would be aware of this.

        So why are they not gently introducing basic farming principals into the curriculum? Why aren’t they using the MSM to glamorize the back yard gardener (place some features showing celebrity gardeners at work…maybe a few tweets saying ‘I Love Gardening’) so that the sheeple say – I want to be like Tom Cruise – I want a veg garden too!

        Surely they could make at least a gesture in this direction if they thought it might help….

        Could it be that the PTB know something that we do not – or refuse – to know?

        Have they determined this is an …. EXTINCTION EVENT?

        • Christian says:

          Epdell don’t believe this, but it’s a possibility. In the other hand, they may have found it better to let the vast majority to pass away and go themselves off to survive and enjoy alone or so all the remining stuff (a lot of glasses, clothes, etc. per capita in this case). And a better ratio of land per capita also. Far less trouble than trying to save everybody.

          B9K9, I suppose this latter solution fits pretty well with your view on the PTB

        • Christian says:

          I’ve seen today the provincial gov here started a program to teach gardening to 1500 families. These people are not in the koombaya team, that’s for sure, so what does it mean? Our governor is perhaps the only ruling politician in the world trying to close a nuclear station, so he obviously get the point because he never gives a f..k about the environment and had never before seen the nuke as bad. And I guess he got not one place to go off but many. But does this teaching they are starting mean they are covertly trying to help people to transition? Mmm… Just some greenwashing? Perhaps they are training their future slaves?

          • Paul says:

            Perhaps he is not at a high enough clearance to get access to the top secret reports on the post collapse scenarios…

            At the end of the day if you enjoy gardening then why not do it — even if you think it will not change the final outcome….

            If you like drinking beer and hate gardening … then do that….

            My motto is ‘do whatever makes you happy now – because there aren’t many tomorrows left’ — and with that I am off to the EU for a runaround next week…

            • Christian says:

              Regarding our gov and nukes, perhaps…

              And regarding living by the day, you don’t have children

            • Paul says:

              We do have an 11 and 13 year old who we sponsor for school who stay with us … when there is nothing you can do there is nothing you can do…. what’s the point in sweating it?

            • Christian says:

              I wont say I know your feelings, but sponsoring somebody is usually not the same as if he is your very flesh and blood. For exemple, if my kid would die by wathever reason I wouldn’t continue living. I suppose it’s not your case.

              And of course you are not sure there is absolutely no tomorrow

            • Paul says:

              You are correct — I have no idea what that feels like

              But I knew enough about what that might feel like so as not to ignore the obvious — that bringing even more people onto a finite world was not likely to end well for any offspring I might sire — so my wife and I decided years ago (me much earlier) that we did not want to risk putting a person through the living hell that we figured was certain to come in the near future….

              But do you think you could have this conversation with a young married couple who are considering having children — not on your life….

              People prefer to opt to ignore the obvious — and because of this they will be faced with a horrible anguish…

              That is one of the toxic side-effects of blind optimism.

            • Christian says:

              Before having a child I knew many things were wrong -and so hesitated a lot- but not that it was so bad. Now my kid shines as the sun. If his destiny is to pass away so be it, while I will fight as long as possible.

              Of course most people don’t want to look at the situation. I agree when TSHF it will be absolutely horrible for them. And it’s likely it will also be nasty for Rob Hopkins and his four kids

  43. Paul says:

    Anyone who watches this — and still does not ‘get it’ — I would argue either does not want to ‘get it’ — is under 5 years of age — or is operating at level that would make it difficult for them to chew gum and walk at the same time:


    Of course there is no point in showing this to anyone because if they do ‘get it’ after watching… there is really nothing they can do about it… and if too many people ‘get it’ — then the panic starts…

    • edpell says:

      Sailing ships Paul. We have no problem.

    • ordinaryjoe says:

      Now wait a second Paul wernt you dissing Martenson as a shill in the not too distant past?
      Just saying. 🙂
      Martenson must be reading this blog because his analysis is pretty much a verbatim copy of the theme song here.

      • I know he does read at least some of I write, but as I pointed out, at least part of Session 20 doesn’t follow what I say.

        • Paul says:

          Two issues with Martenson:

          1. He wrote a puff piece about how fusion was the potential saviour. When pointed out that it was not and that the person who wrote the piece had a massive conflict of interest i.e. they were behind a fusion start up… my comments were removed.

          2. Martenson is running a pseudo religious cult — he offers salvation — but from behind a paywall.

          Reminds me of the time I flipped on a teeveee in a hotel room and there was the GOD channel…. 24/7 religious crap…. I was intrigued … and watched as these clowns in cheap suits sweating as if they had just done half a gram of coke… urged the viewers to donate $300 (not 3 or 10 or 30 — it HAD to be 300) — call now! — your name gets printed on a card and put on the alter and some other clown would bless all the cards (and the cash no doubt was spent on hookers and blow) …. meanwhile some other clown was in the background banging away on an organ….

          When I see Martenson sticking his articles behind a paywall… I can’t help but thinking of the GOD channel guys…

          Of course he doesn’t lose total credibility because he does publish some decent stuff — but he is without a doubt exploiting those who are in a state of despair….

          Take down the paywall — and stop entertaining koombaya fusion fools on his site (who perhaps pay??? to be published so they too can tap in the desperadoes who are willing to give their money to anything that promises salvation)…. and you might restore credibility…

          Martenson is part of the giant Hopium Industry — pump out the fear articles (which are real) — then use that to get people to pay for ‘the answer’

          There is no answer… but if you do think Martenson has the right idea here’s a tip — spend your money on an organic farming course and buying a piece of land in a rural area with like-minded people

          • Martenson believes that people will appreciate articles more if they are behind a pay wall. It also provides funding for his “model.” I doubt anyone is getting rich on the proceeds. There probably is a needed for a variety of approaches, so I stay away from criticism. I don’t really agree with parts of his analysis of the problem, or with some/most(?) of his solutions, though. Since I don’t subscribe, I don’t know what they are.

            • Paul says:

              I wonder how he determined that people appreciate articles more when they are behind pay walls.

              Because this absolute nonsense — when online newspapers put up pay walls their readership drops precipitously.

              If a pay wall were put up on Finite World — the readership would go off a cliff.

              The snake oil salesman doesn’t give away his cure-all for free either …. so why should Martenson…

    • Chris Martenson is good at “dumbing things down.” I didn’t listen all the way through the video, but as far as I listened, there was still a fair amount I would disagree with. Just because individual fields have tended to follow a Hubbert Curve in the past, doesn’t mean that, after peak, the sum of the fields will follow a Hubbert Curve, or that the remaining 50% in the ground will ever be pumped out. These assumptions would be true if we could keep our whole economic system together with progressively less oil (perhaps with nuclear as a substitute, as Hubbert suggested, providing cheap liquid fuel through “reversing combustion”). But if we can’t, the story that peak oilers tell is not the right story–it is a much softened story, leading to the popular (but erroneous) belief that all we need to do is get along with less oil–probably high-priced oil.

      • Paul says:

        He needs to strike a balance … pretty hopeless and simple enough to get the sheeple to understand the threat … but not too hopeless to cause despair….

        After all — this is all about getting people to buy the prepper stuff he is flogging … and pay to get at salvation on the other side of the pay wall….

        My all-time favourite doomy gloomy article on this remains:

        THE PERFECT STORM (see p. 59 onwards)

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


        Research companies do not put that in front of Goldman Sachs and in the FT… unless they are damn certain of their conclusions

  44. Rodster says:

    Chris Martenson just posted a new chapter of his crash course which ties in nicely with Gail’s recent post.

    “Peak Cheap Oil – Crash Course Chapter 20 Still a very big, very real, threat to our way of life”


  45. newt1215 says:

    I have been curious about when lower oil prices would lead to a decrease in production. This article seems to indicate it could be as early as this coming Feb.


    • Robert says:

      Don’t you mean http://www.russia-insider.com? There’s a dash, but we could be talking about different sites.


      This site got started this past summer when a group of expats living in Russia for many years began thinking about what we might do to address a worsening and dangerous problem.

      The problem is that the western media present an inaccurate, incomplete, and unrealistically negative picture of Russia, and an incorrect narrative of the past 20 years, since the fall of communism.

      It seems to us that this has led to profound policy mistakes by the US and Europe, confusion and misperception.

      Russia is a much more appealing, compelling, and complex story than what is being reported.

      We are private publication, funded by its founders, independent of any governments or institutions.

      Our core contributors come from business, finance, journalism, academia and diplomacy, and we tend to be slightly right of center, in an American and European context.

      The site reflects my personal views, but we endeavor to be reasonable and fair, providing as many facts as possible.

      We believe objectivity is a worthy ideal, yet opinion makes for more interesting journalism, and seek to strike a balance between the two.

      If you would like to contribute to what we do, you are warmly welcome. You can write us here.


    • This is a link to the original Bloomberg article that mentions the possibility of Bakken shale dropping in production to 800,000 barrels a day by February. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-21/oil-at-80-a-barrel-muffles-forecasts-for-u-s-shale-boom.html I think it would depend on how long leases are for in the Shale field. It is hard to “turn around” on a dime. Also, I couldn’t get the original link to work. This one seems to work, but I am not sure it is exactly the right link either. http://russia-insider.com/en/export/892

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  47. Paul says:

    In a (reputedly) passionately contested 5 to 4 vote, the board of governors of the Bank of Japan voted essentially to become the world’s largest hedge fund. Not only did they raise the level of quantitative easing by over 15%, to the equivalent of $720 billion a year, they are aggressively allocating and increasing portions of that money to Japanese equity markets and REITs. In a (supposedly) uncoordinated but almost simultaneous announcement, the $1 trillion+ government pension fund announced a move to sell Japanese bonds in size and increase their equity holdings in Japanese and foreign stocks by 20%, divided equally between Japanese and foreign markets. This is the equivalent of $200 billion being injected into global equity markets from one pension fund alone.

    We can expect that nearly every other Japanese pension fund will follow suit, meaning that potentially hundreds of billions of dollars will be thrust into global equity markets.


    • Creedon says:

      Jim Rickards says that the dollar is going to collapse. Money printing madness cannot go on forever, but it is certainly the fashion of the times.

      • Paul says:

        Without a doubt money printing cannot go on forever — if prosperity was only about printing pieces of paper with numbers on them then surely the Ethiopia’s of the world would have caught on by now….

        Is money not primarily a representation of resources particularly energy – because without energy other resources cannot be extracted and refined… so it is the bedrock of the economy.

        Therefore so long as we have an EROEI that is sufficient to allow for the extraction and refining of energy and other resources, then does that mean we can keep printing and stop from collapsing?

        At what point does the return not be sufficient – I have seen 10:1 as the tipping point….

        Whatever the number is we are without a doubt quite close… ” Let me be blunt. If we are already at peak, as the data suggest is possible, then we are all in trouble”

        I have no watched this yet but the intro is compelling:

        • Bandits says:

          As we all know friar money and debt is a call on the future. The money in your pocket or bank represents goods or services you can purchase at a future date.

          We also know that there is not enough money in all the banks in the world to cover even a fraction of what is owed. Fiat money and debt has allowed rich Western societies and now emerging third world countries to steal from the future.

          Of course now we all know only too well, that with resource depletion and plunging EROEI that there is not enough left of the future to cover the call we have made on it.
          Paul made the comment that Japan is eating its own tail, that is so true but I would reason that the whole world is too.

          Where to from here? Will we try to extract as much from the future as we can, like debtors accepting pennies on the dollar from a bankrupt? I think we will try………until our bankrupted future simply gives up.

    • Pension plans invest partially in stocks, and partially in bonds. Increasing their bond holdings can help push stock markets up.

  48. Rick Larson says:

    “We end up with a disparity between what consumers can afford to pay for oil, and the amount that it costs to extract the oil. This is the problem we are facing today, and it is a very difficult issue.” Not because this is difficult to understand, but because the results of which will be difficult to live the same life.

    Recently I’ve read the Saudi’s are pushing the oil price down to force competition out of business. But what food is that if their government fails in the process? This is all about cash flow now…

    • Governments are more vulnerable than most people expect. Every government needs to keep cash flow up, so there is a move to print money by Japan and the ECB.

  49. Rodster says:

    As the saying goes, pictures are always worth a thousand words and in some cases 10,000. 😉

    “Stunning Google Earth Photos Show Just How Much Humans Change the Planet”

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