Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

Does the recent climate accord between US and China mean that many countries will now forge ahead with renewables and other green solutions? I think that there are more pitfalls than many realize.

Pitfall 1. Green solutions tend to push us from one set of resources that are a problem today (fossil fuels) to other resources that are likely to be problems in the longer term.  

The name of the game is “kicking the can down the road a little.” In a finite world, we are reaching many limits besides fossil fuels:

  1. Soil quality–erosion of topsoil, depleted minerals, added salt
  2. Fresh water–depletion of aquifers that only replenish over thousands of years
  3. Deforestation–cutting down trees faster than they regrow
  4. Ore quality–depletion of high quality ores, leaving us with low quality ores
  5. Extinction of other species–as we build more structures and disturb more land, we remove habitat that other species use, or pollute it
  6. Pollution–many types: CO2, heavy metals, noise, smog, fine particles, radiation, etc.
  7. Arable land per person, as population continues to rise

The danger in almost every “solution” is that we simply transfer our problems from one area to another. Growing corn for ethanol can be a problem for soil quality (erosion of topsoil), fresh water (using water from aquifers in Nebraska, Colorado). If farmers switch to no-till farming to prevent the erosion issue, then great amounts of Round Up are often used, leading to loss of lives of other species.

Encouraging use of forest products because they are renewable can lead to loss of forest cover, as more trees are made into wood chips. There can even be a roundabout reason for loss of forest cover: if high-cost renewables indirectly make citizens poorer, citizens may save money on fuel by illegally cutting down trees.

High tech goods tend to use considerable quantities of rare minerals, many of which are quite polluting if they are released into the environment where we work or live. This is a problem both for extraction and for long-term disposal.

Pitfall 2. Green solutions that use rare minerals are likely not very scalable because of quantity limits and low recycling rates.  

Computers, which are the heart of many high-tech goods, use almost the entire periodic table of elements.

Figure 1. Slide by Alicia Valero showing that almost the entire periodic table of elements is used for computers.

Figure 1. Slide from presentation by Alicia Valero at UNED energy conference showing that almost the entire periodic table of elements is used for computers.

When minerals are used in small quantities, especially when they are used in conjunction with many other minerals, they become virtually impossible to recycle. Experience indicates that less than 1% of specialty metals are recycled.

Figure 2. Slide by Alicia Valero showing recycling rates of elements.

Figure 2. Slide from presentation by Alicia Valero at UNED energy conference showing recycling rates of elements.

Green technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, have pushed resource use toward minerals that were little exploited in the past. If we try to ramp up usage, current mines are likely to deplete rapidly. We will eventually need to add new mines in areas where resource quality is lower and concern about pollution is higher. Costs will be much higher in such mines, making devices using such minerals less affordable, rather than more affordable, in the long run.

Of course, a second issue in the scalability of these resources has to do with limits on oil supply. As ores of scarce minerals deplete, more rather than less oil will be needed for extraction. If oil is in short supply, obtaining this oil is also likely to be a problem, also inhibiting scalability of the scarce mineral extraction. The issue with respect to oil supply may not be high price; it may be low price, for reasons I will explain later in this post.

Pitfall 3. High-cost energy sources are the opposite of the “gift that keeps on giving.” Instead, they often represent the “subsidy that keeps on taking.”

Oil that was cheap to extract (say $20 barrel) was the true “gift that keeps on giving.” It made workers more efficient in their jobs, thereby contributing to efficiency gains. It made countries using the oil more able to create goods and services cheaply, thus helping them compete better against other countries. Wages tended to rise, as long at the price of oil stayed below $40 or $50 per barrel (Figure 3).

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

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

More workers joined the work force, as well. This was possible in part because fossil fuels made contraceptives available, reducing family size. Fossil fuels also made tools such as dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes dryers available, reducing the hours needed in housework. Once oil became high-priced (that is, over $40 or $50 per barrel), its favorable impact on wage growth disappeared.

When we attempt to add new higher-cost sources of energy, whether they are high-cost oil or high-cost renewables, they present a drag on the economy for three reasons:

  1. Consumers tend to cut back on discretionary expenditures, because energy products (including food, which is made using oil and other energy products) are a necessity. These cutbacks feed back through the economy and lead to layoffs in discretionary sectors. If they are severe enough, they can lead to debt defaults as well, because laid-off workers have difficulty paying their bills.
  2.  An economy with high-priced sources of energy becomes less competitive in the world economy, competing with countries using less expensive sources of fuel. This tends to lead to lower employment in countries whose mix of energy is weighted toward high-priced fuels.
  3. With (1) and (2) happening, economic growth slows. There are fewer jobs and debt becomes harder to repay.

In some sense, the cost producing of an energy product is a measure of diminishing returns–that is, cost is a measure of the amount of resources that directly and indirectly or indirectly go into making that device or energy product, with higher cost reflecting increasing effort required to make an energy product. If more resources are used in producing high-cost energy products, fewer resources are available for the rest of the economy. Even if a country tries to hide this situation behind a subsidy, the problem comes back to bite the country. This issue underlies the reason that subsidies tend to “keeping on taking.”

The dollar amount of subsidies is also concerning. Currently, subsidies for renewables (before the multiplier effect) average at least $48 per barrel equivalent of oil.1 With the multiplier effect, the dollar amount of subsidies is likely more than the current cost of oil (about $80), and possibly even more than the peak cost of oil in 2008 (about $147). The subsidy (before multiplier effect) per metric ton of oil equivalent amounts to $351. This is far more than the charge for any carbon tax.

Pitfall 4. Green technology (including renewables) can only be add-ons to the fossil fuel system.

A major reason why green technology can only be add-ons to the fossil fuel system relates to Pitfalls 1 through 3. New devices, such as wind turbines, solar PV, and electric cars aren’t very scalable because of high required subsidies, depletion issues, pollution issues, and other limits that we don’t often think about.

A related reason is the fact that even if an energy product is “renewable,” it needs long-term maintenance. For example, a wind turbine needs replacement parts from around the world. These are not available without fossil fuels. Any electrical transmission system transporting wind or solar energy will need frequent repairs, also requiring fossil fuels, usually oil (for building roads and for operating repair trucks and helicopters).

Given the problems with scalability, there is no way that all current uses of fossil fuels can all be converted to run on renewables. According to BP data, in 2013 renewable energy (including biofuels and hydroelectric) amounted to only 9.4% of total energy use. Wind amounted to 1.1% of world energy use; solar amounted to 0.2% of world energy use.

Pitfall 5. We can’t expect oil prices to keep rising because of affordability issues.  

Economists tell us that if there are inadequate oil supplies there should be few problems:  higher prices will reduce demand, encourage more oil production, and encourage production of alternatives. Unfortunately, there is also a roundabout way that demand is reduced: wages tend to be affected by high oil prices, because high-priced oil tends to lead to less employment (Figure 3). With wages not rising much, the rate of growth of debt also tends to slow. The result is that products that use oil (such as cars) are less affordable, leading to less demand for oil. This seems to be the issue we are now encountering, with many young people unable to find good-paying jobs.

If oil prices decline, rather than rise, this creates a problem for renewables and other green alternatives, because needed subsidies are likely to rise rather than disappear.

The other issue with falling oil prices is that oil prices quickly become too low for producers. Producers cut back on new development, leading to a decrease in oil supply in a year or two. Renewables and the electric grid need oil for maintenance, so are likely to be affected as well. Related posts include Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply? and Oil Price Slide – No Good Way Out.

Pitfall 6. It is often difficult to get the finances for an electrical system that uses intermittent renewables to work out well.  

Intermittent renewables, such as electricity from wind, solar PV, and wave energy, tend to work acceptably well, in certain specialized cases:

  • When there is a lot of hydroelectricity nearby to offset shifts in intermittent renewable supply;
  • When the amount added is sufficient small that it has only a small impact on the grid;
  • When the cost of electricity from otherwise available sources, such as burning oil, is very high. This often happens on tropical islands. In such cases, the economy has already adjusted to very high-priced electricity.

Intermittent renewables can also work well supporting tasks that can be intermittent. For example, solar panels can work well for pumping water and for desalination, especially if the alternative is using diesel for fuel.

Where intermittent renewables tend not to work well is when

  1. Consumers and businesses expect to get a big credit for using electricity from intermittent renewables, but
  2. Electricity added to the grid by intermittent renewables leads to little cost savings for electricity providers.

For example, people with solar panels often expect “net metering,” a credit equal to the retail price of electricity for electricity sold to the electric grid. The benefit to electric grid is generally a lot less than the credit for net metering, because the utility still needs to maintain the transmission lines and do many of the functions that it did in the past, such as send out bills. In theory, the utility still should get paid for all of these functions, but doesn’t. Net metering gives way too much credit to those with solar panels, relative to the savings to the electric companies. This approach runs the risk of starving fossil fuel, nuclear, and grid portion of the system of needed revenue.

A similar problem can occur if an electric grid buys wind or solar energy on a preferential basis from commercial providers at wholesale rates in effect for that time of day. This practice tends to lead to a loss of profitability for fossil fuel-based providers of electricity. This is especially the case for natural gas “peaking plants” that normally operate for only a few hours a year, when electricity rates are very high.

Germany has been adding wind and solar, in an attempt to offset reductions in nuclear power production. Germany is now running into difficulty with its pricing approach for renewables. Some of its natural gas providers of electricity have threatened to shut down because they are not making adequate profits with the current pricing plan. Germany also finds itself using more cheap (but polluting) lignite coal, in an attempt to keep total electrical costs within a range customers can afford.

Pitfall 7. Adding intermittent renewables to the electric grid makes the operation of the grid more complex and more difficult to manage. We run the risk of more blackouts and eventual failure of the grid. 

In theory, we can change the electric grid in many ways at once. We can add intermittent renewables, “smart grids,” and “smart appliances” that turn on and off, depending on the needs of the electric grid. We can add the charging of electric automobiles as well. All of these changes add to the complexity of the system. They also increase the vulnerability of the system to hackers.

The usual assumption is that we can step up to the challenge–we can handle this increased complexity. A recent report by The Institution of Engineering and Technology in the UK on the Resilience of the Electricity Infrastructure questions whether this is the case. It says such changes, ” .  .  . vastly increase complexity and require a level of engineering coordination and integration that the current industry structure and market regime does not provide.” Perhaps the system can be changed so that more attention is focused on resilience, but incentives need to be changed to make resilience (and not profit) a top priority. It is doubtful this will happen.

The electric grid has been called the worlds ‘s largest and most complex machine. We “mess with it” at our own risk. Nafeez Ahmed recently published an article called The Coming Blackout Epidemic, discussing challenges grids are now facing. I have written about electric grid problems in the past myself: The US Electric Grid: Will it be Our Undoing?

Pitfall 8. A person needs to be very careful in looking at studies that claim to show favorable performance for intermittent renewables.  

Analysts often overestimate the benefits of wind and solar. Just this week a new report was published saying that the largest solar plant in the world is so far producing only half of the electricity originally anticipated since it opened in February 2014.

In my view, “standard” Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI) and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) calculations tend to overstate the benefits of intermittent renewables, because they do not include a “time variable,” and because they do not consider the effect of intermittency. More specialized studies that do include these variables show very concerning results. For example, Graham Palmer looks at the dynamic EROEI of solar PV, using batteries (replaced at eight year intervals) to mitigate intermittency.2 He did not include inverters–something that would be needed and would reduce the return further.

Figure 4. Graham Palmer's chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from "Energy in Australia."

Figure 4. Graham Palmer’s chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from “Energy in Australia.” (Power point words are my explanation.)

Palmer’s work indicates that because of the big energy investment initially required, the system is left in a deficit energy position for a very long time. The energy that is put into the system is not paid back until 25 years after the system is set up. After the full 30-year lifetime of the solar panel, the system returns 1.3 times the initial direct energy investment.

One further catch is that the energy used in the EROEI calculations includes only a list of direct energy inputs. The total energy required is much higher; it includes indirect inputs that are not directly measured as well as energy needed to provide necessary infrastructure, such as roads and schools. When these are considered, the minimum EROEI needs to be something like 10. Thus, the solar panel plus battery system modeled is really a net energy sink, rather than a net energy producer.  

Another study by Weissbach et al. looks at the impact of adjusting for intermittency. (This study, unlike Palmer’s, doesn’t attempt to adjust for timing differences.) It concludes, “The results show that nuclear, hydro, coal, and natural gas power systems . . . are one order of magnitude more effective than photovoltaics and wind power.”


It would be nice to have a way around limits in a finite world. Unfortunately, this is not possible in the long run. At best, green solutions can help us avoid limits for a little while longer.

The problem we have is that statements about green energy are often overly optimistic. Cost comparisons are often just plain wrong–for example, the supposed near grid parity of solar panels is an “apples to oranges” comparison. An electric utility cannot possibility credit a user with the full retail cost of electricity for the intermittent period it is available, without going broke. Similarly, it is easy to overpay for wind energy, if payments are made based on time-of-day wholesale electricity costs. We will continue to need our fossil-fueled balancing system for the electric grid indefinitely, so we need to continue to financially support this system.

There clearly are some green solutions that will work, at least until the resources needed to produce these solutions are exhausted or other limits are reached. For example, geothermal may be solutions in some locations. Hydroelectric, including “run of the stream” hydro, may be a solution in some locations. In all cases, a clear look at trade-offs needs to be done in advance. New devices, such as gravity powered lamps and solar thermal water heaters, may be helpful especially if they do not use resources in short supply and are not likely to cause pollution problems in the long run.

Expectations for wind and solar PV need to be reduced. Solar PV and offshore wind are both likely net energy sinks because of storage and balancing needs, if they are added to the electric grid in more than very small amounts. Onshore wind is less bad, but it needs to be evaluated closely in each particular location. The need for large subsidies should be a red flag that costs are likely to be high, both short and long term. Another consideration is that wind is likely to have a short lifespan if oil supplies are interrupted, because of its frequent need for replacement parts from around the world.

Some citizens who are concerned about the long-term viability of the electric grid will no doubt want to purchase their own solar systems with inverters and back-up batteries. I see no reason to discourage people who want to do this–the systems may prove to be of assistance to these citizens. But I see no reason to subsidize these purchases, except perhaps in areas (such as tropical islands) where this is the most cost-effective way of producing electric power.


[1] In 2013, the total amount of subsidies for renewables was $121 billion according to the IEA. If we compare this to the amount of renewables (biofuels + other renewables) reported by BP, we find that the subsidy per barrel of oil equivalent in was $48 per barrel of oil equivalent. These amounts are likely understated, because BP biofuels include fuel that doesn’t require subsidies, such as waste sawdust burned for electricity.

[2] Palmer’s work is published in Energy in Australia: Peak Oil, Solar Power, and Asia’s Economic Growth, published by Springer in 2014. This book is part of Prof. Charles Hall’s “Briefs in Energy” series.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,278 Responses to Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

  1. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    A brief quote from Charles Hugh Smith’s weekend note to his subscribers:

    ‘This is one of the consequences of oil becoming an increasingly important part of the global financial system. It is not just a commodity, it is leveraged collateral. That makes it icnreasingly prone to financial-type meltdowns triggered by panic selling and insolvencies resulting from counterparties failing.’

    I haven’t seen the collateral issue mentioned by others.

    Don Stewart

  2. kevin lister says:

    Thanks Gail, an excellent article. The biggest thing that civilisation faces is what happens to the nuclear weapons arsenals as the collapse takes places. Will these be fired in a fit of schizophrenic rage or will they be abandoned and left lying around as a deadly liability to the survivors. What ever the outcome, the extreme insecurity these cause forces the main economic blocks to maintain an economic and military fight to the end. Unless we put these at the centre stage of the climate change negotiations, we will suffer the worst nightmares possible from the coming collapse. It is extraordianry that the 2015 Nuclear Weapons talks have climate change on their agenda, and the UN Climate change talks likewise do not have nuclear weapons on their agenda.

    See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Vortex-Violence-losing-climate-ebook/dp/B00PUNSI06

  3. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    The first link will take you to a discussion with a neuroscientist about healthy minds and bodies versus disease promoting minds and bodies. The second link will take you to Eric Toensmeier’s article addressing the work of developing perennial agriculture.



    From what you have heard and read, do you think that Eric probably has a better prognosis than a Doomer?

    Don Stewart

    PS The scientist talks about ‘pre-cancer’ cells. A decade or so ago some autopsies were performed on Vietnamese and American men. Both had an equal number of ‘pre-prostate cancer cells’, but ONLY the American’s had mature cancer cells. This tells us that it isn’t the accidents which produce pre-cancer cells which are important for health, but the life-style which promotes the development of pre-cancer cells into full blown cancer.

    He also refers to Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard. Back in the good old days when one could actually get funding for these kinds of projects, Ellen rented a resort hotel (in the off season) and took elderly men from Boston nursing homes. The hotel was decorated in the style that was popular when the old men were young men, and the staff consisted of young men and women. The men began to act 30 years younger. The change in mobility was marked.

    • Christian says:

      Oil traiding in golden renmimbi plus USD devaluation would help frackers. This would switch US economy into a commodity producer, and perhaps even exporter (Birol would have been found to be right, in the end). But frackers are not PTB, they don’t make the rules

    • Thanks! I especially like the first one.

  4. Creedon says:

    So the drastic drop in oil prices is a perfect storm; currency war with Russia at a time when we
    are able to do this because of surplus production from fracking and oil sands. The weakening of the world economy is another part of the perfect storm. The end of the petro dollar, world economic movement of the dollar to the yuan is contributing also. A perfect storm of over production, weak world economy and geo politics produces drastic drop in oil prices. Let’s watch and see what collapses first.

  5. Martin Kral says:

    Coal is indispensable for decades to come.

    There are three primary categories of energy sources; fossil, renewable and nuclear, that is used to generate electricity to provide heat, light and all those other industrial ‘goodies’ for our standard of living. Mankind has been using the sun for heat and light from the very beginning until they discovered the benefits of fire as an alternative to the sun. Fire became the new controlled energy and has lasted until this day.

    Fossil fuel is Mother Nature’s way of storing energy from the decay of plant and animals over billions of years. While technically we can say that fossil is also renewable, it will take billions of years to replace any that we use. Therefore it is not renewable in man’s life time on this earth. Once we use it, it is gone forever. However, too completely ban using reliable coal energy as the advocates suggest would be criminal since 85% of our energy comes from fossil and has given us the life style we all enjoy.

    Coal is the most abundant and cheapest energy source on earth and that is why it is the primary ‘burning’ source of energy for generating electricity around the world. While coal has tremendous benefits for mankind it also comes with a toxic footprint on the biosphere from mountain top strip mining extraction to the storage of the waste material after it is burned. It definitely does not pass any atmospheric clean air test that is for sure. Because there are hundreds of years of coal reserves (maybe thousands not yet found) stored in the ground all around the world, it is worth investing in trying to find ways to use it cleanly.

    Several attempts at cleaner coal are being tried with some success but at a cost. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is probably one technique you may have heard of and through scrubbing technology has been implemented at some of the newer coal plant construction projects. The aim is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming and ocean acidification by capturing and injecting the CO2 into geological formations. This is not a new technique because the oil industry has been doing enhanced oil recovery with CO2 for decades.

    There has been recent research done at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) that developed Direct Coal Fuel Cell (DCFC), which is a process that will convert the chemical energy in coal directly into electricity without burning it and generate twice the electricity per unit of coal without releasing CO2 and the other toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. While the process is cleaner and twice as efficient then burning the coal, the current political attitude is to avoid coal at all cost. The coal industry has also been a little reluctant to switch generating methods. There needs to be a gradual transition, not a disruptive change, and I trust man’s ingenuity to get it right sooner than later.

    Coal energy will be around for a long time because it is still the cheapest form of generating utility scale electricity, regardless of climate change policies. Coal usage is actually on the rise around the world as developing nations are starting to come on-line with their own expanded power grids. In fact, there has been an 80 percent increase in worldwide fossil fuel usage from 1980 to 2012, proving the early doom and gloom predictors had it wrong even though there has been a slight increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Okay, so my sense is, coal is here to stay. Coal has made our climate very livable and coal is indispensable for decades to come. The coal industry just needs to be more innovative so its use can be balanced with the needs of mankind and the biosphere.

    I am a nuclear advocate who understands that there is already a coal energy infrastructural that can be useful in a long term transition to nuclear. I also believe we can generate electricity from natural gas without burning it either. Coal, gas and oil are not the problem. Burning them is the problem.

    • “Because there are hundreds of years of coal reserves (maybe thousands not yet found) stored in the ground all around the world, it is worth investing in trying to find ways to use it cleanly.”


      1. You must find a resource before you can extract it
      2. We can track cumulative coal discoveries and production, and find the rates of each and the average delay between discovery and extraction
      3. Therefore, Coal will follow a production curve similar to oil
      4. People always find and use the closest, easiest to get to resources first
      5. Therefore, the coal with the highest EROEI was already used, and it takes continually more and more energy to find and extract new coal deposits.

      It seems we are already expected to hit Peak Coal Production approximately in 2030. There may be 250 years of continued coal mining, if production follows Hubbert’s Curve, or it may hit practically zero within 20 years of peak if it follows a Seneca Curve. No matter what, the gains from coal will continually decline as we travel further to get it, or dig deeper, or have to use more complex machinery.

      This Direct Carbon Fuel Cell may still be great, if it is matured using coal then can be used to more efficiently make use of energy in wood.

      • Martin Kral says:

        Matthew, thanks for the feedback. There is a general attitude to shut down coal usage ASAP.here in the US. That is what I want to avoid. I am okay with a gradual transition off of coal to a good clean safe and reliably solution but that is still years away. We may differ on what that might be, but I do prefer a nuclear reactor, either fission or fusion, as a realistic replacement for coal fired generating power plants. ..

      • edpell says:

        5000 gigatons of coal in Alaska enough to power the US and China for 200 years.

        • “5000 gigatons of coal in Alaska”
          Do you have a source for this claim?

          According to the coal producers themselves, current world production is 8 gigatons per year:

          BP estimates 909 Gt total proven reserves in the world:

          Which gives us 100 years if the current rate of production could be maintained.

          Now, if we need to replace oil with coal at a 50% loss through Fischer-Tropsch process, that would put us at under 50 years. If Direct Carbon Fuel Cells work out, doubling efficiency, we could stretch that to 200 years at current consumption.

          If Greenhouse gases are not really a problem, or we can sequester them, coal could certainly keep BAU running for quite some time.

  6. Creedon says:

    4:20 PM central time, 28 November 14 and the WTI oil price is now at 66.15, Brent oil is at about 70 dollars. Somebody explain to me what is going on.

    • Christian says:

      Well, I suppose brokers are buying less. Should see what is happening among other commodities, stocks… Perhaps they are waiting to see what happens in next sunday’s swiss referendum. Of course I understand very little of all this stuff, never had a credit card (:-) Where is going all the money that is expected enter to the oil market?

    • Christian says:

      Last move to try kilingl Putin before full consequences of the end of petroUSD?

      We are just screwed up, and fast?

  7. doomphd says:

    I guess my point is that keeping hot waste fuel rods cool just requires some stability of society somewhere in the global community that still has: (a) the understanding of the situation and (b) the means to carry out the mission(s). Paul replies that it is a 10-20 year problem, to get them cool enough to store by dry cask. That’s not impossible, but I realize that it might turn out to be a very long time if the collapse envisioned here is not contained.

    These collpases don’t always occur all at once. Rome fell in pieces, first the Western Empire, and then the Eastern, but that took a lot longer, and I recall the West did get some assistance from the East. Why should Russia, for example, fall for the same reasons as the West? They are already fairly independent and resource rich, with nuclear knowhow.

    Also, I wonder that in hindsight, if Fukushima could have been handled differently. Had the Japanese, and the rest of the world known (and understood) the consequences, would they have done more to get relief cooling on site before the meltdowns? In the US, there are heavy lift helicopters used to fight fires in remote places, for example. So what if the roads were blocked by debris? And how about a longer-term Naval rescue? US ships have nuclear power plants on board. The site is on the coast.

  8. Creedon says:

    The black swan swimming over the horizon is the disappearance of the petro dollar. It is happening quietly and without fan fare, because wall street doesn’t really want us to know about it.

    • Christian says:

      Yes it’s going fast… Good article Creedon, while I don’t understand much. They take the bareel at 80 but this is old story… SDR, golden Renminbi, somebody to the rescue!

  9. Creedon says:

    Their seems to be more going on in the oil markets than just the ETP model of energy in equals economic activity out. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-27/there-will-be-blood-petrodollar-death-means-liquidity-and-oil-exporting-crisis-deck This zero hedge article has to be explaining a lot of it. I appreciate Gail’s cautious and careful stance in evaluating what is going on in the world, although there is the feel that something huge is happening.

  10. Creedon says:

    Thanks giving night and the price WTI is at about 69 dollars; the price of Brent is at 72.5, both well ahead of the ETP model curve. If the dollar price of oil is representing the vibrancy of the world economy, than the world economy is weakening big time. At some point I’m beginning to wonder if something else is going on. For the price of oil to fall this fast seems quite bizarre.

    • Christian says:

      The Fed should start another round

      • Quitollis says:

        The Europeans are starting to repatriate their gold reserves from the US. I am not sure what the logic is or why they are doing it now. Maybe they think that the US is about to trash its currency and then steal all the gold lol


        Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National party in France and currently the frontrunner for the presidency of the country, has called on the central bank to repatriate its gold reserves. In an open letter penned to Christian Noyer, the governor of the Banque de France, Le Pen demanded the urgent repatriation of all gold reserves located abroad and the immediate discontinuation of any gold sales programmes. She called for a complete audit of the inventory of 2,435 tonnes of physical gold by an independent French body to indicate in which country France’s gold reserves are currently stored. She also demanded a gradual reallocation of a portion of foreign exchange reserves within the Banque de France, recommending that the central bank buy gold at each significant decrease in spot pricing. Spot gold has recovered to current levels either side of $1,200 per ounce from four-year lows of $1,131.60 in October. France is the fifth-largest holder of gold in the world, behind only the US, Germany, the IMF and Italy, according to the November central bank holdings report by the World Golf Council – it holds 2,435.4 tonnes of gold, accounting for 65.1 percent of its reserves. Between 2004 and 2012, France sold 614.6 tonnes of gold during a period when, according to Le Pen, other central banks in the eurozone had agreed to limit gold sales. Germany and the Netherlands are already repatriating their gold reserves and Switzerland may follow suit, depending on the results of this weekend’s referendum. De Nederlandshe Bank (DNB), the Dutch central bank, said last week it has repatriated 20 percent of its gold reserves from the US back into the country’s vaults. Around 122 tonnes of the metal have been shipped to Amsterdam, worth more than $5 billion at current spot prices. And on Sunday, voters in Switzerland will decide whether or not to outlaw further gold sales from the Swiss National Bank, to make physical bullion at least 20 percent of the bank’s assets and whether to repatriate Swiss-owned gold. – See more at: http://www.bulliondesk.com/gold-news/news-french-far-right-leader-le-pen-calls-for-gold-reserves-to-be-repatriated-85762/#sthash.EmCY7hHl.dpuf

        • Christian says:

          Somebody posted a recent deep article on gold and China. End of fiat, end of credit, come back bullion?

          • John Doyle says:

            The end of fiat, or credit money is exactly what will show up when collapse occurs. That will be as big a marker of collapse as any energy cliff. It’s not going to happen on its own. The economy is dependent on credit, its life blood. Forget about gold, it’s just another commodity and less useful than land etc. It will be useful in the future if enough survives to form new societies we might recognise.

  11. Christian says:

    If we are to find some help of any kind, I’d suggest we try contacting people as Zuck, James Cameron and any other wealthy or famous person already prepping. Or as Peter Thiels

    It’s not impossible the russians would be more prone than US gov

    • Christian says:

      Well, I’m not a politician and everybody can see I promess nothing, or rather my bet is on disaster as I think it is the case for most of us here. Regarding a whole plan forget it also: step by step is the most we could get

  12. Christian says:

    What you mean Dave, x-2040?

    • The function, y = -8.3(x – 2040)*e^(.04(x – 2040)), seems to fit the existing data points best, with that ending.
      Also, I wonder, how do you post an image, here? When I’ve copied an image, the “paste” option is dimmed out, when I right-click in this Reply box (Windows 7).

  13. Christian says:

    A very tigh one. Seneca is about to become the most important philosopher in history. Of course I can’t say anything on the maths, except noting he uses twice x-2040 and that 2040 is the end of the graph

  14. http://davecoop.net/seneca.htm has a graph & function of a speculative “Seneca curve” of world crude oil production.

  15. doomphd says:

    Maybe Putin will organize an international nuclear spent fuel pool rescue squad that will be mobilized as soon as any nation-state fails and it’s nuclear power plants need new baby sitters? Then, an emergency spent fuel to dry cask storage program is launched to rid global reliance on wet storage in uncertain times. Seems to me that some precautionary steps could be taken, like when away for some time, you turn off the gas and drain the water from the radiators.

    Agree that nuclear fission power has been a showcase for hubris by the PTB. Recall when the Soviet Union collapsed, plant workers kept on the job without pay, to keep things stable until a new political appartus was in place. That’s because they knew what was at stake The big question is will similar responses take place elsewhere, e.g., Japan, USA, and can we count on them to come through? I assume the military has contingency plans for their nuclear stuff.

    • Paul says:

      Not possible;

      An away-from-reactor, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), such as the one located at the Morris Operation, is also sometimes used. In many countries, the fuel assemblies, after being in the reactor for 3 to 6 years, are stored underwater for 10 to 20 years before being sent for reprocessing or dry cask storage


  16. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All

    Charles Hugh Smith http://www.oftwominds.com has posted five things he is thankful for. The fifth thing he mentions is certain to set off some catcalls from several commenters here. He joins Richard Heinberg and Chris Martenson in thinking that everything need not be awful:

    ‘I am grateful to be alive now, when the industrialized world is poised to transition, whether it wants to or not, to another way of living/consuming/working. It may well play out badly, but perhaps not. The lifestyle that requires hundreds of barrels of oil (or equivalent) per person per year is certainly coming to an end, but a good life need not require hundreds of barrels of oil per year.

    Nobody knows how the future will play out, so we will all play it as it lays. (The fancier phrase: Life is contingent.) That’s pretty exciting.’

    Don Stewart

  17. Don Stewart says:

    Dear All

    Some here have spoken about the ‘limousine liberal’ lifestyle of various people, including Richard Heinberg. I am pretty sure that no amount of facts will change the accusations, but it may interest those of you with open minds to look at this material from Janaia Donaldson and Richard Heinberg back in the spring of 08. So the interview coincides with the peak of oil prices, the collapse of the sub-prime bubble, but the Global Financial Crisis was still in the future.

    The first link is before and after pictures of Richard’s house.

    Several points to note:
    The discussion about low EROEI biofuels with the notion that it is probably useful to make them anyway to power police and fire trucks and farm equipment. I have made the point here that the critical EROEI is for a system, not an isolated PV panel or some calculations about trying to replace a coal fired power plant with a huge array of PV panels.

    The discussion of those who are ’taking great pleasure in the collapse’ and are just sitting back enjoying it. Hating the human species is not the answer.

    What we do now will have an enormous impact on who survives and how many survive. Must retain clarity and concern and be able to act creatively and rationally.

    Don Stewart


    • Paul says:

      Don – only a fool – or a very unhappy person — wishes for the implosion to come.

      As for doing something — if the PTB are doing nothing then what is likely the point of individuals trying to do something. If there was something that could be done surely the PTB would be putting a plan into action — after all they have families — they don’t want to die…

      We need to circle back to the why are they doing nothing — what do they know?

      I am somewhat certain the the fuel pond issue is at the heart of the matter.

      • Don Stewart says:

        I would never argue that Richard Heinberg has 20/20 vision of the future. I am mostly responding to the personal slurs against him and others.

        If one can get past the personal slurs, it is instructive to go back to the period from the election of GW Bush up to the crash in 2008. If you look at the pictures of Heinberg’s house, you see that he must have started work there around the year 2000. So he now has 14 years of maturation of a plan to make his suburban lot a food production unit. How much better off we all would be if we all had followed suit. I recently posted a link to a husband and wife team on a Hawaiian island who met Bill Mollison about 30 years ago, saw the logic in permaculture, and did something about it. Now they live in a two acre paradise.

        I think it is instructive that, on this blog, we still set up the straw man of preserving BAU with PV panels and windmills, and then knock it over. Heinberg tells us in the video that preserving BAU is just not in the cards. He talks about the enormous investment required for PV panels and windmills and how the only time we can afford it is when we have plenty of fossil fuels. I posted some time ago a video of a woman in Montana whose homestead is basically powered by a very small PV panel, with quite a bit of DC appliances. Her electricity consumption is very low. That homestead is resilient in a way that few of us can match.

        As for why the PTB don’t actually do anything. (I have no opinions about nuclear.) The simplest explanation is that they think they are personally powerless. This is notable if you ever listen to Bill Clinton talk. He has a good knowledge about the systems that keep the economy working, but a very healthy sense of the limitations of the political process. It’s like Jaime Dimon said, ‘you have to dance while the music plays’. Alternatively, listen to Kelly McGonigal talk about the default state of the human brain…no matter who you put into the scanner, you find a lot of trash thoughts competing for space. And the only solution is that people learn to manage their brains, one at a time. There won’t be any ‘mass awakening’.

        If selection works as I hope it will, then those who have learned to manage their brains and have practiced survival skills so that they have muscle memory, will survive. Hoping that, somehow, everyone can survive is an optimism I can’t muster.

        Don Stewart

        • xabier says:

          Dear Don

          Splendid good sense:

          No mass awakening, only individual.

          One small step at a time.

          It has always been this way.

          Worth noting that it is the ‘default setting’ of the brain which politicians both manipulate, and themselves express. Those who sign up to a political gang deserve what they get.

          Who really cares what the PTB are up to?! It’s what your neighbour thinks and is doing that really matter.

          There is reason for hope, and despair. And work to be done…..

        • InAlaska says:

          Yes, Don, I agree. It is possible that the PTB are less “powers” than we think. The system is so huge and dynamic that nobody has a handle on it. The PTB are fragmented, checkmated and otherwise unable to influence events as they used to. The PTB are caught in the net and are really quite as powerless on the large scale as the rest of us. Incompetence and powerless rather than Machiavellian self interested world rule is more likely.

          • Paul says:

            When you control the production of money it is extremely to control all that goes on that matters in the world

    • InAlaska says:

      Yes, Don. You are right. IF we lay the seeds of survival now, we MAY be able to salvage something for the future. I’m not saying we’ll be successful, but I’m saying its worth trying. Its makes you feel better, too.

      • Bandits says:

        First you want to stifle discussion on the problems facing humanity, condemn Paul and in the next breath, call for an effort to salvage something. People have to be made aware that there is a problem before any action can or will be attempted. The vast majority are ignorant of any problem and prefer to remain that way. But the worst are those that are aware but choose to ridicule facts and discussion.

        There are deniers that there is a problem with pollution and global warming, deniers of over population, deniers of environmental degradation, deniers of ozone depletion, water depletion, resource depletion, deforestation, ocean acidification, species extinction, that declining EROI is a problem, deniers of economic disaster, deniers of problems with nuclear. People deny vaccination for children, they deny renewable energy devices are not a solution, they deny peak oil, they deny anything not in keeping with humans right to plunder the Earth.

        So before any attempt to, as you declare “may be able to salvage something for the future”, people must/should have been made aware that first there is/was a problem. That is where blogs like this and many others attempt to educate. Deniers and shills are a major impediment, IMO they caused the demise of The Oil Drum. The situation is now, that after more than fifty years of denial, inaction and procrastination we find ourselves no longer with a problem but a predicament with no practical solution.

        • Christian says:

          Deniers… When I started writing on PO and peak finances, one of my friends resulted the most interested and more provocative. We talked several times upon the subject, while as I was discovering month after month things were uglier than I thought conversations elapsed a bit. One day he told me he was about to write a paper on tech and biology, something as cyborgs or such I guess. I told him “why, given peak tech is just at the next corner of the road?” I was shocked; he had told me he knew LTG model since 15 years before and also understood entropy and Prygogine since a couple of decades. But he still wanted more. That’s when I got angry and sent him many strongly sarcastic messages, to the point he almost stopped talking to me.

          Now he is caught in the trap. He is supposed having started gardening in a couple of hectares he has and even building some extra house for his daughters. But he doesn’t takes me to a tour to show me what he is doing, he has no faith on it. One of his son-in-law has recently been shooted almost to death during a robery and both of his super urban well placed intellectual daughters have recently born babies. No free lunch for nobody.

          Today he sent the invitation to the presentation of the publication for which he was planning the bio-tech stuff, saying it’s a wonderful book. Wonder if he did the cyborgs anyway. I will not attend to find out, for sure

  18. theedrich says:

    In order to pay for the “emergency” care and feeding of countless thousands of Central-American minors who, with the help of gringo-hating Mexico, have been invading the U.S. in recent months, the king directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to “repurpose” at least $404.3 million in taxpayer funds from elsewhere in the regime to the Sob Story division.  The switch was:  $267.6 million from the FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund;  $31.5 million from the U.S. Coast Guard;  $34.7 million from TSA’s screening technology and maintenance;  and $70.5 million from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Never mind the weakening of the nation resulting from this misappropriation by the POTUS and his underling.  The oh-so-generous move is but one more example of just how determined the power structure is to keep Business As Usual going.

    Not to be outdone by Latinos, vast and growing numbers of Indians (from India) are now overstaying their visas and increasing the financial and energy burdens of America, not to mention all other kinds of “refugees” who are “just looking for a better life.”

    The clenched-teeth determination to keep BAU going at all costs is also seen in the maximum leader’s recent amnesty to millions of undocumented Latino Democrats he claims are “living in the shadows,” in a blatant move to turn the U.S. into a one-party state.  The regime obviously knows the financial-energic precipice we are on, but could not care less.  From here on out, it is crisis management, not democracy.  For, as former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel informed us, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  2015 will thus see yet more “crisis-driven” use of the “American values” slogan to excuse and camouflage further disintegration of what was once a civilized America.

    The pretense of BAU growth is the system’s current mask for the decline foretold with careful analysis by Tainter, the Club of Rome, Gail and a few others.  After all, the fantasy that good intentions, economic lies and monetary myths will keep us from suffering the consequences of our own actions is what elects our politicians.  All the vigorous denials notwithstanding, what we really want is Stalin.

  19. Quitollis says:

    Jaw drop. As I have been known to say, “things change!”


  20. Don Stewart says:

    Dear edpell

    One more little addition to previous response.

    Alan Christiansen notes in his discussion with the Doctor that some school systems in the US now forbid children to play chase tag at recess. All in the name of ‘preventing injuries’. I know that a number of them also forbid the children to garden….there are germs in that dirt!

    So we have gone from being the baddest bad-ass in the bush to a pathetic and sickly race just waiting for something to kill us all off?

    Don Stewart

    • InAlaska says:

      Where I live, the kids go out at school recess to play hockey at -20F below zero.

    • edpell says:

      Where I live the Hudson Valley Sudbury School allows kids to climb, run, dig, garden, … Yes, the government schools have gone beyond shaping the minds of citizens to be obedient workers for the owners to being passive helpless victims for the government.

  21. edpell says:

    Folks some will survive. I do not believe this is an extinction event. It is my intent to do what I can to up the odds that me and mine are survivors. If you choose to give up that is your choice.

    • Paul says:

      Believing will get you nowhere when thousands of spent fuel ponds are spewing massive and endless radiation…

      What I’d prefer to understand is the plan to control these beasts when there is no electricity…

      • “What I’d prefer to understand is the plan to control these beasts when there is no electricity…”

        Could thermopiles be used to take advantage of the heat from the spent fuel ponds, to power the circulating pumps to keep the spent fuel ponds from boiling off their water?

        • edpell says:

          A trickle of replacement water is all that is needed. No active circulation is required.

          • Paul says:

            Let’s check out a fuel pond:


            Doesn’t quite look like a backyard pool with a hose stuck into it… note the word ‘pumps’ … pumps require electricity… as do heat exchangers… as do the other processes involved in monitoring and treating the water…

            The maximum temperature of the spent fuel bundles decreases significantly between 2 and 4 years, and less from 4 to 6 years. The fuel pool water is continuously cooled to remove the heat produced by the spent fuel assemblies. Pumps circulate water from the spent fuel pool to heat exchangers, then back to the spent fuel pool. The water temperature in normal operating conditions is held below 50°C (120°F)[1]. Radiolysis, the dissociation of molecules by radiation, is of particular concern in wet storage, as water may be split by residual radiation and hydrogen gas may accumulate increasing the risk of explosions. For this reason the air in the room of the pools, as well as the water, must be continually monitored and treated.

            And about the dry casking:

            An away-from-reactor, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), such as the one located at the Morris Operation, is also sometimes used. In many countries, the fuel assemblies, after being in the reactor for 3 to 6 years, are stored underwater for 10 to 20 years before being sent for reprocessing or dry cask storage. The water cools the fuel and provides shielding from radiation.


            • B9K9 says:

              Matrix Buster! Shit, now I’m really depressed. LOL

              Keep up the good work. Wouldn’t it be something if Gail’s blog spawned a dawning awareness of inevitability that actually took root in the public consciousness?

              Yipes, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

            • Paul says:

              How can I short Koombaya…

        • Paul says:

          How about if we just enslave 1000 people and force them to peddle generators to keep each these things going?

          • If that’s what it takes, and the choice is that or extinction, then sure.

            • Paul says:

              Let’s thing BIG!

              If we can keep the ponds cooled by having people peddle away 24/7 to power the generators…

              Then why can’t we just keep the BAU in its entirety running? 7.2B people …. everyone takes turns peddling for 8 hours per day.

              We’d all be so fit!

              To hell with these stupid solar panels — we need to ramp up the production of stationary bicycles… we need to get ready NOW!

              We can do it —- Koombaya!!!

          • B9K9 says:

            Do you prefer Matrix Buster? How about Kumbaya Buster?

      • Christian says:

        No electricity… Of course nobody can guarantee there will be this or that at any moment. Say a solar storm can miss the whole world, Daichi can go big bang, methane can superbubble through the ocean… No guarantees of any kind, forget it. Reg. electricity, remember Gail’s and Bardi’s forecasts -just as others- expect there will still be some FF going around in a couple of decades, and there is hydro also. In my country some electricity could be easily provided within the next 20 years. I expect at least one of the many hydroturbines in Arg. will still be operational. Of course nothing is guaranteed, perhaps this doesn’t happen, or perhaps it does. Of course it’s very important to explore the problems and limits associated to the grid and the whole rest, but just insisting it’s all or nothing, well, I think it’s stupid and childish.

        Paul, you say you can’t believe sombedoy was so stupid to create fuel ponds able to do such a big miss but you believe the same social group would take them away if it could… It is somewhat contradictory. What I tell you is this perhaps can’t be done at all but surely can’t be done upon PTB mental frame and social position.

        And if I was say Rotschild I would be fairly glad paying somebody doing sabotage in a site as OFW, which is the main place where my nakedness is exposed. As the nakedness can’t be denied because it has even been proved by thermodinamics phycisists more than a hundred years ago, the only choice would be boosting the dilemma “it’s BAU or nothing”. Paul, prove you are not a troll. Prove it

        • Paul says:

          I tire of going around in circles here… Gail has explained in great detail why it is unlikely there will be electricity for very long post collapse — of the ten thousandth time spare parts are required… and spare parts require BAU … and BAU will not exist…

          For the 3rd time I have pointed out that it is hubris that lead to this situation with the fuel ponds… those making these decisions believed BAU could never fail… but of course now that it is actually failing they no doubt are aware that they were wrong and that the consequences are dire…as in extinction level dire… hence they are doing nothing because what is to be done?

          If I am a troll then your host Gail is a mega troll — because she is on record many times saying she hopes that BAU can continue as long as possible.

          Very obviously I have pointed out the fatal flaw for those who are busy with their permaculture operations (remember — I have one of those too…) and flaw is that it is all for not…. there are tens of thousands of tonnes of spent fuel that are going to go up in flames and they are going to release more than enough radioactive toxins to exterminate every single living thing on the planet.

          And not a single person has posted a single valid comment that can dispute that fact.

          And as expected — the community is angry — that was to be expected — I was actually angry when I had this epiphany …. and I am still a little angry — but the reality is sinking in slowly… and I am beginning to accept that there is nothing I can do to prepare for what is coming …

          That said — I was never certain I wanted to survive this anyway — growing turnips and living without electricity or any modern conveniences — that the people who used to live like this so desperately wanted because such a life was tedious and harsh …. to be quite honest… it is not particularly appealing…

          So perhaps the fuel ponds are a god send …. they — along with the famine — should put an end to the suffering in short order.

          It is rather sad that the rest of the life on the planet gets stuck with the same fate…

          How ironic — the great species — undoes itself with its own brilliant mind.

          Shakespeare if he were alive in this era could not have come up with such an incredible ending.

          • Christian says:

            Paul, you have still not proved you are not a troll

            You say you garden. We’ll never meet, we’ll never know…

            “Gail has explained in great detail why it is unlikely there will be electricity for very long post collapse” > Unlikely doesn’t equals impossible, and as I’ve told her forecast doesn’t shows electricity=zero in 2035

            “If I am a troll then your host Gail is a mega troll — because she is on record many times saying she hopes that BAU can continue as long as possible” > As long as possible, not that it’s BAU or nothing

            “they are doing nothing because what is to be done?” > Told you several times perhaps there is nothing to be done, but upon “their” standpont this surely is the case

            Still waiting you prove who you are

            • Paul says:

              I am a troll under the employ of logic… I am sent here to vanquish ignorance and stupidity…. to crush the Koombaya and Solar gods… to destroy the matrix.

              If only I could get paid for this gig….

          • InAlaska says:

            You disappoint. Don’t hide behind Gail’s “skirt” when the tide turns. Don’t spew hate and hopelessness. Gail does not do that. She is open to other points of view.

            • Paul says:

              I am very much open to other points of view… if you review my comments I have changed my mind on a number of occasions — when the facts present themselves…

              I used to live in a delusional world where I could grow pumpkins and turnips and live happily ever after… I know recognize that is not an option… I won’t like that life much — and the odds of someone not coming to cave my head in to steal my crops are slim and none… of course there is the radiation issue… maybe I can grow 8000lb pumpkins with 3 heads…

              The thing is…

              I am open to other points of view when they are supported by facts… and facts are severely lacking on FW these days…

              As for Gail — I have no need to hide behind her skirt… she’s made her positions clear on most of these topics and I believe we are for the most part very close on our outlooks…

              The difference is that she is much more diplomatic … I can imagine she would very much like to say many of the things that I say … but for obvious reasons refrains …

            • Peter Christian says:

              Paul, and don’t forget to bring the teacher a nice red apple.

          • B9K9 says:

            “I have pointed out that it is hubris that lead to this situation with the fuel ponds… those making these decisions believed BAU could never fail.”

            Matrix/Kumbaya Buster, this is where we differ – I don’t think it was hubris that BAU could never fail. Rather, Rickover and the scientists on the US atomic energy commission way back in 1946 new that peak oil meant the failure of BAU.

            With a nuclear armed world (it was always expected that the USSR would develop the bomb – the outrage over the Rosenbergs was it gave them a leg-up before we could adequate prepare counter-measures), that meant nuclear bombs would be used to conduct war over declining/scarce FF resources.

            Thus, atomic energy provided a means of **extending** BAU for at least another century. And guess what? They were right. They knew there was a booby prize for the next generations, but hey, that was their (in other words, our) problem.

            So here we are. Didn’t you have a fun youth? I did – cars, chicks, parties, plenty of illegals to do all the hard/dirty work. But now the bill is due – I’m not crying.

            • Paul says:

              I have not worked that out but if atomic energy gave us some extra years of BAU then I congratulate those who made that decision.

              And I owe them a beer for ensuring that I don’t have to live through the drudgery of growing and eating boiled turnips by candle light after a day of drudgery.

              I’ve been in Hong Kong and around Asia since my 20’s and packed in at least 5 life times (plenty of illegal activities and chicks under the belt) …. I’d like to get another 20 years in but that looks highly unlikely … in the meantime the adventures continue — at an accelerated pace.

            • Christian says:

              “They knew there was a booby prize for the next generations, but hey, that was their (in other words, our) problem”

              Completely agree

          • Christian says:

            Paul, beyond all-or-nothing your role here is valuable. So, a troll or just a bit hysterical?

            • Paul says:

              I gotta come clean… the Koch Brothers offered to pay for me to travel around the world — all expenses paid… under one condition … I must post at least 30 replies per day on Finite World saying I love BAU and want it to continue as long as possible.

            • Christian says:

              Gotcha! So we go 50-50?

            • InAlaska says:

              I agree, Paul. You’ve got a valuable role on this site, but just tone down the invective and the metaphysical certitude.

            • alturium says:

              Hey Paul, I probably agree 99% with you. I don’t want to discourage you but I think that you should take into account the different backgrounds and at what stage (of enlightenment?) they may at when they post here. Not everybody is at your level of enlightenment. We have newbies and people who want to have a discussion without the “jump on the table and start shouting” hyperbole. This is Gail’s blog, not yours. It’s like a garden that needs constant attention and a little loving care. I am thinking of Suzanne and Lizzy. It’s a question of approach and style. How to provide a lesson to people without having to demonstrate ego. Just saying.

            • “Not everybody is at your level of enlightenment.”

              If you want to call despair, nihilism and hedonism enlightenment, sure. I think people usually consider those the opposite of enlightenment.

            • Paul says:

              I hear you however I am responding not to newbies posting naive nonsense… rather I am responding to people who appear to have lost the plot…

              > I have pointed out that you cannot dry cask spent fuel unless it has been cooled for many years
              – and yet over and over I read that we need to raise money for casks… we need to ask Bill Gates… and the problem would be resolved…. WTF?????

              > I have pointed out that spent fuel rods need to be keep for years in high tech cold storage for years
              – and yet someone suggests a dribble of water from a garden hose is all that is needed
              – and someone else says quibbles about how many guards are needed to prevent a terrorist attack

              I could go on ….

              So what has happened in the past few days on this blog…. did I blackout and wake up 500 years later and land in Idiocracy? What’s next – a discussion of how the lack of rain is making turnip growing difficult… and I suggest that perhaps consider adding some water from the creek… would I be made king — or would I be attacked for pointing out what is glaringly obvious…

              The level of some of the responses here is bordering on absurd…

              I will take the high road and suggest that the reasons for this are the article Gail posted from the Stanford guys that completely destroys the faith that many had in renewables to save the day or at least soften the landing…. that debate is now dead.

              And adding to the despair is the Harvard article…. there really is no debating that either — the spent fuel ponds are the nightmare of all nightmares… they represent the end of life….

              So it seems that everyone has just shut themselves up… cognitive dissonance has kicked in …. and the responses are irrational… kinda like sticking fingers into the ears and shouting ‘I can’t hear you!!!’

              In some respects it is quite fascinating to see this …. as I have mentioned I am seeing a similar phenomenon on a couple of news forums that I have posted the Google article on….

              Anger, bewilderment and disbelief…

              Are we witnessing the death of hope?

    • InAlaska says:

      YES. Even surviving one year post collapse will then up your chance of surviving much longer, as those who haven’t prepared will die-off rather quickly. Once through the bottleneck, survival should be easier, or at least more probably. If the ultimate gain for an organism is to see that its DNA is perpetuated, then I say: have kids and find a way to protect them into the future, whatever that future is and at whatever cost.

      • Paul says:

        And here we go again with ‘I believe’

        I believe that the moon is made of cheese…. no I cannot prove that… I just believe…

        I believe my dog reads my mind … no I cannot prove that … I just believe

        If one wants to state that the end of BAU is not an extinction event then it would be useful to demonstrate why … specifically one would need to demonstrate that either high tech spent fuel rod facilities could be maintained somehow or that the Harvard nuclear expert is wrong in his conclusions that a single pond left uncooled would release the = of up to 18 Chernobyls.

        ‘I believe’ because I refuse to accept the facts — because they are too horrific and I am unable to refute them…. so I must hope that this is not going to be correct…

        Well that is not an argument… but it is better than just saying ‘I believe’

        • InAlaska says:

          It is you, dear Paul, who has a pre-determined future that you fervently believe in. Then you troll the internet and the MSM looking for “facts” to back up your pre-determined outcome. Anyone who challenges your ability to see the future is a Koombaya Believer. All I purport to believe is that no one, including some PhD from Harvard, can extrapolate the future based on so many variables that no supercomputer can sort it out. Even the wisest people leave wiggle room for the stochastic and the chaotic.

          • Paul says:

            The thing is…

            I did not go trolling the internet looking for facts to back up something I already believed….

            I read somewhere (might have been Orlov) that spent fuel ponds would be a problem post collapse.

            And I found this:

            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. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-japan-fukushima-insight-idUSBRE97D00M20130814

            So I went looking for more detailed information — something from an expert… and I found this:

            That was troubling so I looked further then I found what would appear to be the definitive research on this topic here: http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

            If you want to challenge these findings and you want to be taken seriously…. I suggest you post something with a little more meat on the bone than ‘I believe’

            There is a certain amount of gravitas associated with using facts in an argument.

            • InAlaska says:

              My reason for being on this post has nothing to do with making some argument about how I think the future should be. Therefore, I have no need to bolster statements with “facts.” I just feel compelled to step in and call b—s, when I see you hijacking the entire space on this blog site and flogging your argument to death with internet links and then belittling anyone who is trying to understand our predicament from a different angle. Or new visitors to our site who has had less time to get indoctrinated. You’re sucking all the oxygen out of the room. You’ve made your point. The spent fuel ponds are going to kill us all. So move on.

            • Paul says:

              No of course not — facts are not important.

              Perhaps the blog should be shut down and when one clicks http://www.finiteworld.com the url forwards to


              Because to be quite honest — there are about 3 people on here who are not living a world of delusion, denial — who when confronted with facts that upset their little world resort to posting absolutely stupidity – that is deserving of nothing less than ridicule.

              The reality is that the renewable god has been slayed by Google — and the permaculture god has a stake it his heart courtesy of the Harvard research that I have posted.

              And the anger (and denial are palpable….

            • InAlaska says:

              Although you are entertaining, perhaps it is you who is the stranger to this site with tiresome rants about a hopeless future.

            • Paul says:

              Instead of planning for a future that is almost certainly dreadful… why not take my rants as positives and let rip in the time that remains?

            • B9K9 says:

              Fascinating. Here we have a troll in the guise of InAlaska calling one of the only posters who diligently checks sources a troll. Gotta love it.

              Paul/MB: the reason I understand where you’re coming from is that Guy’s site has covered this material for years. His focus @ NBL is of course on AGW, whereas mine is in more in line with Gail with respect to fossil fuels and other finite resources.

              So when you post up information on the dangers of spent rod pools going critical as/if the grid goes down, well, that’s stuff I knew about a few years ago. In fact, I’ve already had positive results having fun informing some anti-nuke (ex) hippies trying to shut down a reactor. When I told them the real danger was the spent fuel, well they checked it out/confirmed the info and came back with a new, better take on our situation.

              So, keep up the good work and don’t mind those who not only cannot handle the truth, but keep trying to interject faith as a litmus test.

            • InAlaska says:

              I can handle the truth just fine. But not willing to concede that the truth belongs to Paul and some guy from Harvard that he found on-line. Its not that simple. There are many possible outcomes to the scenario(s) discussed here. I am willing to concede that Paul’s end of all human life forever on Earth scenario is possible. Are you willing to concede that something else is also possible? If not, you’re the Troll!

            • Lynton Davidson says:

              I’ve got to be honest I’m with you InAlaska. I find the revelling in doom really quite unhelpful and distracting. There is so much good discussion here that I find useful, but there is so much unproductive wallowing, arrogance and patronisation – if you aren’t talking about how utterly hopeless it all is – and quoting eminent sources – then you’re stupid. I have to wade through all the negativity to find thoughful threads and discussion. There are some people here who really seem to get excited by how terrible it is and simply want to heap mountains of doom on every comment that is made. As though it gives them purpose and meaning. I know. It’s really bad. Probably as bad as it could be. Ok, now let’s move on. We’re here. How are we going to help each other get through this?


            • InAlaska says:

              Good comments, Lynton. Its called doomster pornography. We’re all drawn to it on some level or we wouldn’t be on this site. Its compelling for us to imagine the worst, but it sure blocks out all other levels of thought and wise action.

            • Paul says:

              Then why do you bother to come here — if you want to discuss farming and how prosperous and wonderful things are going to be post BAU then why not go to Martenson’s blog? Is it that you don’t want to pay the fee?

              This blog is about attempting to get at truths — no sugar coating… this is about facts… not pie in the sky bs….

              And the facts are:

              – renewable energy is a joke — as has been demonstrated

              – spent fuel ponds are going to go up in smoke releasing massive amounts of radiation that are going to pour down on everyone — and little good a field of turnips is going to do anyone

              Amusingly I’ve posted the Stanford article on a few MSM sites and the vitriol is intense…. people don’t like when their god is humiliated …. they really do get ornery … and they go into deep denial..

              People do not want the truth — because they cannot handle the truth.

              And we are seeing endless examples of this right here on Finite World

            • Lynton Davidson says:

              I can’t speak for others, but I’m here because I’m looking to dig into the likely realities of our situation, to understand as best I can. Truth is a very dangerous term to use. I don’t see many people here hiding.


            • Paul says:

              Most people here do not want the truth — because they cannot handle it — and when they get it they get rather irate… or they go into denial

            • Paul says:

              Oh come now … what is positive about this situation?

              As for stupidity — look at some of the rebuttals of the facts I have posted… if I wanted Idiocracy I’d go to Martenons blog.

              If the village idiots want to make appearances here then they do so at their own risk.

              Look at some of the responses to the Google and Harvard articles — if you don’t think there is imbecility behind them then like they say about card games… you are the sucker…

            • Lynton Davidson says:

              For me Paul it comes down to this:

              Positive: people coming together in the face of catastrophic adversity to share thoughts, ideas, to challenge each other and interact in a very open, honest way.

              Negative: putting other people down, shouting, talking over every thread, relishing collapse.

              The content of what you have to say is often very interesting and I value it here, but the tone and frequency makes it really hard for me to engage with the threads and what everyone is saying. You’re not alone in this btw, but you are certainly the loudest 😉


            • Paul says:

              I see no constructive coming together whatsoever here.

              – I have asked those coming together on GW to tell us how they suggest we solve the problem – not a peep from one of them — but they bleat on about how Gail is nuts because she is not concerned about GW…. let’s hear the solutions (and you can be damn sure I am going to tear the answers apart because there NO solution — and that is why there is not a peep)

              – then we have renewables — the green brigade piles in here from time to time telling us how solar panels could save the world — even though Gail has exploded that myth a thousand times… and now we have the Google report making a mockery of ‘green’… yet we still have the true believers spewing their propaganda…

              – and next we turn to the anti-consumers who think we just need to cut back and we will be saved… who fail to recognize that we either grow or we collapse… they are the ones who think we can shrink the population and consume less — but still have iphones and Teslas… gimme a break.

              – then we have the deniers who don’t think the spent fuel ponds are a problem …. magically the PTB will make those go away post BAU….

              What it comes down to is there are no solutions. If anyone wants to make up fairy stories again – Chris Martenson is your man — he will encourage hopium and Koombaya … he will sell you salvation from behind his paywall….

              If you don’t like it when I and others (including Gail) tear this nonsense to shreds… because it is nonsense… then why stay?

              And if the theme of this site flips over to where those who are actually attempting to get at the truth are criticized for being too blunt with the hopium spewing crowd…. then as the Japanese are fond of saying — sayonara…

              We do seem to be getting fairly close to the point where the main reason to visit FW is to read Gail’s brilliant articles…. (judging from the comments section most people are either not reading those articles — or are not understanding them…. because there is not the slightest whiff of hopium in any of them… there is no happy ending…)

            • Paul says:

              Ok – if you don’t want to concede then let’s have your facts… but of course you don’t deal in facts you deal in ‘beliefs’…. therefore you have conceded before you have even begun.

            • Jarle B says:

              InAlaska wrote:
              “I am willing to concede that Paul’s end of all human life forever on Earth scenario is possible. Are you willing to concede that something else is also possible?”

              Hear hear!

            • Paul says:

              Perhaps the PTB have a solution for the radioactivity issue…. Perhaps we will be able to grow food on land that is dead due to chemical inputs….. Perhaps there is a creator with a Big Plan for us….

              But I have no evidence for these or any other possibilities…

  22. B9K9 says:

    Simon says “I’m (naive enough?) to treat this blog as a community which has the capability of improving the odds – however close to zero they may be – of some of humanity surviving.”

    In a competition of ideas, who arbitrarily decided that ‘improving the odds of survival’ was the implied mandate of the collective discussion with regard to our finite world? You?

    How about an alternative perspective – one shared by Paul, others & myself – which engages concepts rooted in history, politics & physics that leads one to finally conclude that there really isn’t any way out?

    If so, then what is the point of the this blog? Well, it’s not to spread the false religion of hopium, or to figure out an angle to rip-off some rubes in another greenwashing fantasy. Rather, it’s a source of information, reasoned analysis & logical deductions that leads to an ineluctable conclusion.

    Question: Why isn’t the ultimate conclusion of our species demise the message that should be spread? What would happen to society if a significant percentage gave up the ghost of hope? Shouldn’t this blog be the source of support to counteract all the false information spread that benefits only a few?

    • Christian says:


      Well, I believe Simon’s idea is also Gail’s. She visibly cares for life and mankind and is not just interested in truth as a theoretical matter. Remember Nietzsche: truth is a means for power. In our case, the power of saving something or somebody.

      That is why “the ultimate conclusion of our species demise” can’t be “the message that should be spread”, and that’s why most people dislike apocalyptical messages: they don’t empower.

      And B9 I’m surprised of your last question, it seems you are willing to fight something that benefits only a few… Are you becoming mass friendly instead of plutocratic friendly? What’s wrong with you?

      • B9K9 says:

        When a cancer patient is terminal, only charlatans continue to provide hope. Of course, the motivation is money, so they prey on the emotional grief of the family in order to extract a few more pieces of silver.

        The alternative is hospice, a place where one can collect their thoughts, contemplate their experiences, and come to peace with the inevitable. Since you seem to enjoy research, why don’t you review the usual response of medical doctors who are the receiving end, as opposed to advising others, regarding ‘bad news’. Typically, they shut their practices, avoid all treatment, and ride off into the sunset. Why is that?

        As to whether I’m a prole or plutocrat fanboi, I’m neither. My sole objective is to generate the greatest return of (personal/family) good times for the least amount of effort. To successfully achieve this goal requires clear-eyed thinking and rationale responses to facts as they exist.

        The bottom-line is the PTB are going to conduct a scorched earth campaign to maintain BAU. That means everything is on the table, including nuclear war. Short of that, it’s trivial to conclude that they will have absolutely no compunction about destroying the currency, impoverishing mass groups of people, and using whatever remaining surplus is available to pay off the military and police to enforce control.

        Taken as a given, how does one navigate to personally survive/prosper? That’s been my constant orientation on this forum, rather than spreading a false sense that we can work together to forge a common unity of survival.

        • Christian says:

          I understand you points and concerns, which I mostly share.

          Radiation release is yet quite small but we feel we have already a cancer. Cancer bearing doctors shut up treatment not only because they are ill to death, but also because at some point cancer is very painful. At that point, if it comes, I’ll take my last pill. As you say, guys on top or rather capitalist system’s logic is geared to total destruction. But we don’t truly know how things will develop. At some point, perhaps a not so distant one, decreasing oil supply could overwhelm again banks balance accounts. Or perhpas US military could reach the conclusion bankers and politicians have become an unuseful burden. Or something else can happen. I don’t believe neither we can achieve a universal common unity of survival, but it is obvious to me wellbeing cannot be though of as a strictly individual issue. It has an unavoidable social dimension, be it because of the fuel rods, the zombie crowd or civilizatory change.

        • Simple Simon says:

          Thanks, Benign Canine, I have a much clearer picture of where you’re coming from – which makes it easier for me to understand/appreciate your viewpoint.
          I agree with what – for me – are a couple of your biggest points:
          1. as Gail has frequently espoused,I believe that this present global economic system will not survive. I have a constantly reviewed timeline on the wall at home of how i see things panning out, with Best, Middle and Worst case scenarios by each decade.
          By 2100, my Best Case scenario has the world population at 100 million (i.e. approx 85% reduction from now), living in some approximation of medieval times.
          My Worst Case for 2100 is a scattered global 100,000 (approx. 99.9% reduction), living in some of hunter gatherer and/or basic villages.
          2. I try to integrate the above with enabling my family to be best equipped to have the best life possible heading towards those scenarios. Part of that is unequivocally building community with the right social skills, as well as very low resource technologies.

          As per Paul’s analogy of the Titanic (one I have used for over a decade now), I am very clear that I am trying to get the lifeboats ready,AND enjoy the music playing, the fine food while i can – because it’s going to be a long cold winter, with no rescuers on the way. Getting the lifeboats ready is getting the gear, the technical nautical skills AND the teamwork approach sorted.

          Re your comment about “implied mandate”; I tried to be clear that I was drawing my inference, not stating that “this is how it is”.

          You mentioned a competition of ideas. I really like the notion of “co-opetition”.
          I came across it in the context of fast-growing tech firms – if they share ideas, but compete at the same time, they tend to do much better than their peers.

          In a sports analogy – and excuse the choice of sport, but as a New Zealander, it is the one i know best. The NZ national rugby team, the All Blacks have been the best in the world for 5 years. They operate on a co-opetition model. Everyone in the wider training squad is competing for a place in the team, but they do so co-operatively so that A. they get to be the individual best they can be, and – B the overarching ethos, so that the team will be the best that it can be.
          Seems to work – and it’s a model I sort of see playing out here.

    • Paul says:

      I am not so concerned about counteracting the dis-information of the PTB — because that is an exercise in futility — one cannot change anything … and generally as we can see — most people even when faced with facts prefer to remain in the matrix… the matrix is safe from despair…

      Rather I see this as an exercise in intellectual stimulation — a game of logic… an attempt to peel back layers of the onion … finding kernels of thinking that one can run with to go deeper down the rabbit hole…. to expand one’s understanding of the intentions and motives of the PTB…

      • InAlaska says:

        I don’t see that. I see you with a fixed ideological point of view about the PTB and rather than going deeper or opening up, you just keep posting the same “I believe” statements you accuse others of doing.

        • Paul says:

          The thing is…

          I am posting facts to back up my assertions.

          Take for instance who controls the world.

          It is a fact that the Fed is privately owned — and it is a fact that the Fed has the right to print all USD and loan that money out at interest.

          Think of what that means — if you had that power then you make money off of every single dollar you print. And you have power over every single company and person on the planet.

          If a country doesn’t toe the line you can destroy them by wrecking their bond market — you effectively can collapse their economy.

          You want the military on side you reward the chosen generals — after all you have the ability to pay them whatever it takes… and of course they have very little understanding of the complex mechanisms of your game so they are never going to be a threat… and if one of them does get out of line there are a thousand others who would put a bullet in that persons head and become your new yes men….

          There is no overthrowing the people at the top of the pyramid… there is no point … it is far better to get along with them — because they can make you fabulously wealthy …

          The people who ultimately have this power are without a doubt the ‘Powers That Be’ I cannot absolutely prove this (they don’t exactly announce this — for obvious reasons — although Mr Rothschild did make a comment on this a couple of centuries back…)

          Who gave a private entity that power – and why?

          And why don’t our elected governments retain this power?

  23. yt75 says:

    An interesting post by Euan Mearns (ex oil drummer) on zerohedge :
    (originally posted on his blog)

  24. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Erik Lindberg has a nice article at http://www.resilience.org on Liberal myths about climate change. A quote:

    ‘That fossil fuels have provided us with a one-time burst of unrepeatable energy and affluence (and ecological peril) flies in the face of nearly all the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.’

    I would like to add a couple of thoughts to what Erik has to say. First, Kelly McGonigal in The Neuroscience of Change makes the point that the default state of the idling human brain involves four activities:
    Finding fault with whatever is happening (things could be better! he was unfair!, etc.)
    Time traveling (things used to be better; things will be better, etc.)
    Building one’s ego (I am the kind of person who wins! USA, USA!)
    Interpersonal comparisons (at least we aren’t horrible like Putin! or ignorant like Somalis!)

    As fossil fuels make our lives less filled with things we MUST concentrate on, our brains fills the void with the trash activities listed above. All those trash activities make it impossible for most people to react effectively to fundamental changes in circumstances. The US has had a fundamental change in circumstances since about 1970, and, no surprise, depression is now at epidemic levels. The solution, of course, will be provided as fossil fuels decline and we are forced to concentrate. Those who can’t, or won’t, concentrate, will likely die.

    Second, I want to relate a little story from the Origins series that I have referred to. The Doctor, who lives in San Diego, is interviewing another doctor who lives in Tucson. The Tucson doctor is a great believer in the rhythms of nature and our bodies adaptations to those rhythms. So, for example, everyone should get outside in the sunshine for at least 30 minutes early in the morning. The San Diego doctor says ‘well…you and I live where that is easily done, but what about someone who lives in the North?’. The Tucson doctor replies that he grew up in northern Minnesota, and did all the winter sports up there. ‘Getting outside when it is really cold is good for you! ‘ The San Diego doctor says ruefully that he just tends to leave his thermostat on 74 all the time. Then he asks about the weird machine he saw when he visited Tucson. It turns out that the Tucson doctor has invested in a machine which creates a really cold little room, and he goes into that little room to give his body the ‘cold cure’ it needs. My point isn’t that a ‘cold room’ in Tucson is a figment of a fossil fuel economy that will go away. It is simply that fossil fuels have enabled very poor health practices, which have contributed to the epidemic of chronic disease. There is no free lunch. As fossil fuels decline, we may get healthier again.

    Third, in terms of renewables, the sun is this gigantic source of energy which is, for all intents and purposes, renewable every morning, for free. So let’s coin the word ‘man made renewables’ to describe things such as PV panels, windmills, water wheels, etc.

    There is a third category which we need to be clear about. There are certain things which help us manage both sunshine and man made renewables. For example, a computer chip is a very useful device for managing a system which uses man made renewables.

    Similarly, a very good way to manage the sun so that it puts carbon into the soil, making energy available to soil microbes and the larger members of the soil food web, is pulse grazing of perennial grasslands (rotational grazing, holistic grazing, ley farming, etc.). Yet the ‘pulsing’ is controlled by lightweight electric fences which are best powered by PV panels. The relevant measure of energy efficiency is the total energy output of this hybrid sunshine/ ecosystem/ man made renewable system compared to the energy (excluding the free sunshine) which goes into the system. Telling us something about the theoretical EROEI of PV panels as replacements for a coal fired power plant is basically irrelevant.

    Now…I can’t imagine very many analysts who would want to get into the swamp of looking at pulse grazing as a subject for study of EROEI. BUT, as fossil fuels become scarce, we will be forced to make these kinds of choices. We either stay on autopilot, or we get into the nitty gritty of staying alive.

    Don Stewart

    • edpell says:

      Don, an uncommonly blunt post for you.

      “Those who can’t, or won’t, concentrate, will likely die.”

      You may be right but I still hold on to the hope that something will come along. Cold fusion is still hanging in.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear edpell

        Blunt? Maybe so. And maybe cold fusion will save all of us. Time will tell.

        But here is a note from Alan Christiansen today about the Origins project, that I have referred to on several occasions:

        ‘I wanted to share a quick message with you from my good friend Dr. Pedram Shojai. We humans were once pretty bad-ass organisms, but something has changed. Today we don’t move enough, we don’t know how to take care of ourselves and we’ve become disconnected from what makes us thrive as the super-animals we once were. I’ve watched Pedram work on this really cool film for 2 years now and I know you’re going to LOVE it. He brings back a connection modern day life is missing. ‘

        At the beginning of the movie we see the party walking in the African bush. The Doctor, a California boy, notices how his senses and brain are entirely focused on what is around him. Including, he notes, some of the most lethal animals anywhere.

        Transition to fossil-fuel rich America, and most people have become distracted. Distracted brains behave the way Kelly McGonigal describes them and the way the Liberal Fallacies article describes them. So putting everything on auto-pilot, which has been our goal over my lifetime, is not a really good thing for us. If we hope to make a transition to something else, we will have to go back to the focus that we had in the African bush. Plus a close examination of the processes we use…such as the pulsed grazing example I used. Does it yield a profit, or is it a sink? Slogans won’t be very helpful.

        Don Stewart

        • InAlaska says:

          Don, et. al.
          As a hunter of big game animals for the table, I have taught my kids to move when the animal moves or when they put their head down to graze or browse. Animals have a way of keeping their radar up all of the time for predators, but they can be fooled if you exercise patience and learn to move like they do. If you’re hunting mountain goats or sheep, you can’t come at them from below. Instead you go the long way around and climb above them. They don’t expect death from above because they evolved to look down on the world. Similarly, you can never move quietly enough to fool deer, caribou and moose. Instead, you have to sit quietly and wait for them to come to you, or imitate their mating calls. We humans have become soft because we stopped hunting animals. They teach us all we need to know about the values of: movement, silence, hard work, patience, persistence. After 10,000 years of farming and trading our labor for money, we have indeed become sickly and weak.

          • Paul says:

            Let’s say cold fusion could be made to work…. how would that save us all?

            I refer you to the introduction to this article:

            Pitfall 1. Green solutions tend to push us from one set of resources that are a problem today (fossil fuels) to other resources that are likely to be problems in the longer term.

            The name of the game is “kicking the can down the road a little.” In a finite world, we are reaching many limits besides fossil fuels:

            Soil quality–erosion of topsoil, depleted minerals, added salt

            Fresh water–depletion of aquifers that only replenish over thousands of years

            Deforestation–cutting down trees faster than they regrow

            Ore quality–depletion of high quality ores, leaving us with low quality ores

            Extinction of other species–as we build more structures and disturb more land, we remove habitat that other species use, or pollute it

            Pollution–many types: CO2, heavy metals, noise, smog, fine particles, radiation, etc.

            Arable land per person, as population continues to rise

            Just what we need — an unlimited source of cheap clean energy so that we can more quickly destroy the planet.

            • InAlaska says:

              With the reported unlimited amounts of energy that cold fusion promises, we can do just about everything. Powering the pumps that will cool your precious extinction pools, for one. Creating fertilizer is another.

            • Paul says:

              You seem to ignore the fact that cheap energy is what got us into this predicament in the first place…

              More cheap energy would mean we could grow a lot more food — which would mean we’d have many billions of more people…

              Also cheap energy = prosperity therefore consumption would go into hyper drive… which would accelerate the depletion of all other resources on the planet…

              Of course the billions would need places to live so we’d quickly cover the entire planet with mega cities… until every nook and cranny was covered with rats… uh I mean humans…

              That said I would be all for cold fusion to come online (it won’t because it very negative EROEI) because it would allow me to survive…. I am all for anything that keeps BAU humming along….

            • InAlaska says:

              Unlimited clean energy of cold fusion would mean we would be able to free ourselves from the prison of the planet itself. It would have the potential to solve nearly everything with regard to a finite world.

            • Paul says:

              Yes – we could build space ships powered by fusion energy and head into space in search of other planets that support life — and destroy them too.

              It’s a good thing that fusion does not work. If there are any other planets that support life the last thing the organisms on those planets need is the vile human species to invade them.

            • InAlaska says:

              Yes, cold fusion is possibly a way off of this planet. I don’t think the human species is “vile” as you say. Rather, we are a species who is taking advantage, as any species would, of a surfeit of cheap energy. “The human race was born on Earth, but it wasn’t meant to die here.”

            • Paul says:

              I think we have been brainwashed by religion into believing we are ‘good’ — when in reality we are nothing of the sort….

              We don’t share — rather a few of us lives opulent lives on the backs of billions who live in desperate slums with open sewers and barely enough to eat.

              We torture and enslave each other so that we can have more — at the expense of all others.

              Almost all of us would choose to have a second car and a bigger house — even if it meant others had to live worse than our dogs…

              We engage in industrial slaughter of each other —- always have — always will…

              We poison the soil with our chemicals and we ruin our water with fracking — we fill ponds with toxic sickness that has that potential to exterminate all life.

              We keep our fellow animals in the most dire prisons — before we kill and eat them.

              Can someone list some positives re: the human race?

              Consider an ET coming to earth and floating about observing this thing we call man…. What might he think of us? Would he think we were special — would he think that we are brilliant — would he… if he could .. rescue us from ourselves and help us overcome our end of energy predicament?

              Would he think we are deserving of surviving?

              Or would he instead turn his advanced weaponry on us and exterminate us with the understanding that he is doing the planet and the other animals that live on it a HUGE favour/

            • Each person has a range of behaviors possible. If there is enough energy supply available, quite a few of these behaviors can be good. If there is not enough to go around, then there is a major problem. This is a major reason why countries have gone to war against their neighbors for a very long time.

            • InAlaska says:

              Rarely is anybody 100% bad. People are a mixed bag of competing behaviors. The conqueror who invades his neighbors and tortures his enemies may also be a wonderful, caring father and a wise internal leader. That is why Lincoln and others appeal to “the angles of our better nature.” Humans are dualistic.

            • False. High infant mortality causes high fertility rates. Improving infant mortality rates drastically drops fertility rates. More energy means we would have more wealth, and be able to save more babies, and thus reduce the population.

            • Paul says:

              The thing is….

              If you were to think this through …

              You might conclude that better medicines, health care, food and living conditions — which came about due to fossil fuels… lead to that outcome… they would have also resulted in people living longer…

              Of course we could produce more food because oi lead to mechanization on farms… and then we had the green revolution due to oil and gas … additionally we could transport food easily to places that needed it…

              Feel free to read this research:

              Peak People: The Interrelationship between Population Growth and Energy Resources


            • I strongly recommend you check out more of Hans Rosling’s work, the rest of the world is leveling off on population. The only place with exponential population growth is Africa, which, unconstrained, will double from 1 Billion to 2 Billion then to 4 Billion. Everywhere else, population is already set to peak and decline.

              If there is no oil to provide medicine to keep infant mortality low, there will be a lot of other problems, too, so population growth will reverse anyways. Either way, run away population growth is not a real problem anymore.

            • Paul says:

              Actually global population grew by 75M this year on a nett basis… and as we can see from Japan — a drop in population is a total disaster because it eventually leads to collapse…

              And it is not about to decline — it is about to collapse as many billions die (if not everyone) — because oil is the main cause of why we have 7B+ — and the age of oil is about to end… and with it the massive population that exists only because of oil …. will be obliterated.

            • InAlaska says:

              OR it is also possible that a very large super giant Saudi sized oil field will be discovered in the nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean or somewhere else that is now off-limits because we can’t get to it. Then the party rolls on for a few more decades.

            • Paul says:

              But I thought you despised the consumer society — that when you visit you feel pissed off….

              Yet you think fusion would be awesome — or that a massive new oil field would be fantastic.

              Of course both would lead to more consumption — particularly fusion…

              So which is it?

            • InAlaska says:

              Curtain Number 2 works fine for me, as well.

            • InAlaska says:

              Nature may have an efficient way of dealing with exponential growth in Africa, which has the growth without the infrastructure to support it. I’m thinking a pandemic. Perhaps airborne Ebola or something even more lethal. Seems like a matter of time.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “With the reported unlimited amounts of energy that cold fusion promises, we can do just about everything. Powering the pumps that will cool your precious extinction pools, for one. Creating fertilizer is another.”

              Making new people — and increasing the life-span of old people — is another! That’s how we got where we are now, with “extra” energy.

              Here we can see the human dilemma, because everything we regard as good makes the population problem worse. Everything we regard as bad helps solve the problem. Now there is a dilemma, if ever there was one.

              — Dr. Albert Bartlett

            • If we look at statistics, facts over time, we can see that declining infant mortality = lower fertility, so less young children born.

              Longer lives are not a problem; the longer people live, and the longer they expect to live, the longer term their thinking and planning will necessarily become. Investments that take too long to bother with now, can be viable once people are confident they will live long enough to see a profit.

              For example, growing Mahogany takes 65 years from seedling to mature harvest.Most people will not invest 65 years of their lives tending and guarding trees in the hopes of getting to start harvesting at the end of their life.

              People are much better off now at a much older age. Lots of people are fit at 55 and do not need mandatory retirement. Besides, if we have energy abundance due to some new technology, robots will probably do all the hard work anyways.

              I am not expecting a miraculous breakthrough, and there are already lots of people working towards trying to find these technologies.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “If we look at statistics, facts over time, we can see that declining infant mortality = lower fertility, so less young children born.”

              Correlation is not causation.

              Over that same time period, lower fertility correlates with increased energy use, which I think is probably a more direct cause and effect.

              Before fossil sunlight, you bred your slave labour force and retirement plan. Fossil sunlight comes along, and energy slaves provide both much of the labour formerly supplied by children, and the pensions and government retirement plans so that minimum-wage strangers can wipe your butt in retirement homes, where you’re surrounded by other strangers, instead of having a loving, caring family take care of you.

              It would be interesting to understand why the WORLD3 Limits To Growth model predicts increasing births in the next few decades.

            • It would be interesting to compare countries infant mortality, energy per capita, and fertility rates to see whether it is more closely correlated energy use or infant mortality, or even perhaps population density, since it could be more urban populations that have less children regardless of how much energy or infant mortality they have.

              I guess that is one of the problems, there are many great thinkers out there who each see the world through one lens, so they may not consider other factors in their work.

            • Urbanization requires quite a bit of energy consumption, both to allow workers to leave the fields and to ship food to cities. Also, jobs in cities depend on energy, and transport to jobs in cities depends on energy.

            • What a second. First you said:
              “Making new people — and increasing the life-span of old people — is another! That’s how we got where we are now, with “extra” energy.”

              So, more energy = more people. Then you go on in your reply to my reply to say:
              ” lower fertility correlates with increased energy use, which I think is probably a more direct cause and effect.”

              So, more energy equals less population, and at the same time equals more population?

              If increased energy per capita reduces fertility rates, then more energy will eventually lead to lower population, even if that larger pool of energy would enable more people to live. It might lead to more people in the short run, due to longer lifespans and less die-offs, which is pretty much what we’ve seen in the world post-WW2.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              No contradiction, peak per-capita energy happened way back in 1979. We’ve just been coasting on the gentle downward slope since then, getting closer to the Seneca Cliff.

            • ” peak per-capita energy happened way back in 1979″

              I don’t think you can just average everyone in the world, lots of countries have only more recently industrialized, their per capita energy has been steadily climbing until probably the 2008 GFC.

              I don’t think an American driving around in a big V-8 muscle car or vacationing on a cruise ship helps alter the fertility of a woman in Bangledesh. I would say it was the modern medicine, but I see that energy per capita in Bengladesh has doubled over the last ~30 years, so it is hard to say which is pushing which.

              Even as the West is in decline using less oil, that may free up more oil for use in poorer, less industrialized countries so 10 people there can incrementally gain what one person over here stops using.

            • John Doyle says:

              I wondered that as well. But it’s probably simple, and humans have history. If deaths go up, births go up. Life expectancy is certainly going to decline. Interestingly Graph on Fig 37 which is a model with “unlimited resources” shows an even greater decline.
              Does anyone think the pollution curve is a proxy for climate change in these graphs?

          • xabier says:


            Very true.

            One can creep up on anything, catch anything, if patient enough. And lucky enough.

            (Even the Truth, maybe?)

            I find observation and interaction with clever, well-bred, hunting dogs very instructive.

            But it takes time, and humility. Qualities notably lacking in those who shoot their mouths off on internet forums…… Thank God for the -many – exceptions.

            Best regards


            • InAlaska says:

              The Inupiat Eskimo, among whom I lived with for a seveal years in the 90s, have a sense that the animal actually gives itself to the hunter, if the hunter is worthy. That is, if the hunter is respectful, quiet and treats the land and animals with regard, the animal doesn’t mind dying. For example, after the kill, the Eskimo man will frequently give the seal or the caribou a drink of water. This will ensure that the animals will keep coming to him. The hunters of the North also believe that “luck” plays a huge part in their success. For them, luck means putting yourself in the right place with the right attributes.
              Best regards to you as well.

            • VPK says:

              Recently heard two reports on NPR Public radio.
              First, African country of Niger is in dire straits due to population explosion. In 25 years swelled from 8 million to 18 million today. Overshoot already present and since the nation is based on subsistence small farming economy, disaster looms
              “”Now people are just looking to survive. And the government’s only priority is to slow down population growth for people to just survive,” Hassan says.”
              Second, Global Warming is already producing significant change in your region in Alaska
              HAMILTON: When I first went to Alaska in the early 1980s, I could stand on the beach in the summer time and look offshore and see the sea ice. Now the sea ice is beyond the curvature of the earth. It’s hundreds of miles offshore over deep, unproductive water.

              GREENFIELDBOYCE: A study by his team, also published this week, looked at bears there in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010. He says that population declined from 1,500 bears to just 900 bears. Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
              Sorry time is up for “hope”

      • Paul says:

        How about cow farts?

        • VPK says:

          How about methane hydrates?
          According to University of Texas researchers, trillions of cubic feet of methane are trapped under the Gulf of Mexico, frozen.

          The U.S. Department of Energy gave Texas over $40 million to research this frozen gas – methane hydrate. As part of a four-year program, researchers will study methane hydrate and evaluate its potential as a new energy source. Combined with funds from other donors, the program has a total value of $58 million
          n the seventies, when we looked at shales, nobody thought we were going to ever produce gas or oil from them. Now, it’s a huge fraction of the energy that’s produced in the U.S. Maybe, 30 years from now, hydrates will provide a natural gas resource.

          Q: Would this natural gas resource be sustainable?

          A: My answer is a little bit careful – I think one of the remarkable things that has happened in the United States is that we’ve actually decreased our carbon footprint; and we’ve largely decreased it because natural gas has been replacing coal. So in that sense, methane is a much cleaner, healthier fuel than burning coal. Down the road, I think we’re going to have to do carbon sequestration or switch to other fuels; but these things take a long time – to come up with that technology. So, ‘We gotta get there,’ is the short answer.

          • Paul says:

            So technology will save us?

            Didn’t technology get us thousands of spent fuel ponds?

            And didn’t technology get us the green revolution which resulted in 7.2B people?

            That said — I would love for technology to kick the can another 30 years or so…. from a selfish perspective…

            But let’s not kid ourselves — technology gets trumped by the fact that the world is finite…

            • VPK says:

              All we need to do is simple…build new generation fast breeder fission reactors proposed by Dr. James Hansen and the nuclear waste issue will be a non issue.
              This is his “letter” to Presdint Obama
              There are two compelling alternatives to address these issues, both of which will be needed in the future. The first is to build reactors that keep the neutrons ‘fast’ during the fission reactions. These fast reactors can completely burn the uranium. Moreover, they can burn existing long-lived nuclear waste, producing a small volume of waste with half-life of only sever decades, thus largely solving the nuclear waste problem. The other compelling alternative is to use thorium as the fuel in thermal reactors. Thorium can be used in ways that practically eliminate buildup of long-lived nuclear waste.

              Paul, I’m on your side…Gail has stated many times we need a solution NOW…not sometime in the far off future.

      • InAlaska says:

        I agree with you. We don’t even know what we don’t know. An answer could come from a direction unanticipated by the smartest among us. It is the fool who discounts the possibility. Hope without hope.

        • xabier says:


          Just as help arrived at Helm’s Deep, when least expected?

          Tolkein actually served in the trenches in WW1, and he didn’t spend the rest of his life trying to depress people or leave them without hope. A good example.

          From one point of view, life is always hopeless: from another, full of possibilities. As Don says, we have to understand ourselves, choose, and act. And that doesn’t mean choosing what to buy on ‘Black Friday, as my mobile, phone company has just suggested! Or following any of the out-dated political theories of the 20th century.

          • InAlaska says:

            As a student of Tolkien, you’ll appreciate this wisdom:

            “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
            “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”


            • Lynton Davidson says:

              Thanks for that InAlaska. Perfect quote for the moment.


            • InAlaska says:

              Thanks, Lynton. One of my favorites, for sure.

            • Lynton Davidson says:

              Yup, we all need a moment like that in amongst it all!


            • InAlaska says:

              xabier, Lynton and other Tolkien admirers,
              “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
              ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

          • alturium says:

            Love the quotes and Tolkien. I believe we are in a period of time similar to pre WW I.

            From the Matrix Reloaded:

            Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice?
            The Oracle: Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand *why* you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now.

            We’ve made our decision for BAU and collapse…I come to Gail’s blog to understand *why*

    • InAlaska says:

      Excellent post, Don. It does make you wonder. We have the sun blazing away in the sky pouring energy down on our planet every day. More energy per square foot than we can ever use. Plants have figured out (evolved) a way to directly utilize solar energy for creating food and structure and, as a by product, sequestering carbon. The answer for humans is there somewhere. We just haven’t figured it out yet. The question may be, are we using our endowment of FF wisely enough to give us the time necessary to figure out the answer. If we are using the time wisely, we as a species get to move forward and evolve. If we blow it at this juncture in our evolution, we don’t get to go forward. I would say that we are well down the path of blowing it, but perhaps there is still time. We better get moving though. Perhaps it is a race of numbers. Perhaps it takes roughly 8 billion brains being born to create that one brain that will have the answer. Perhaps it is 9 billion. The race is on between the capacity of the planet to support our life forms and the capacity of the human brain to solve the problem before the problem kills us.

  25. Jarle B says:

    Norway: Our enery minister says that to much paperwork is the reason why the cost in our oil business has risen so much. Hurrah for scapegoats!


  26. MG says:

    What drives the todays economy? The answer is: the debt. The debt of the Slovaks regarding the mortgages rose with almost the highest rate in the European Union during the first nine months of this year:


    Graphs at the end of the article:
    First graph: Interest rates falling
    Second graph: Mortgages in billions of EUR rising

    We can see that from 2010 to 2014 (only 4 years!) that the amount of mortgages almost doubled…

    Now, the deflation stays here:


    What will be the outcome?

    • Paul says:

      Debt is passe… Japan is monetizing its debt… in the past they would have had to find someone to loan them money … no longer

      • MG says:

        The outcome of this massive indebting is only low growth of GDP:


        Japan is in recession again, despite monetizing its debt:


        The ability of the debt to produce growth is lost. Now it is just conserving status quo.

        • John Doyle says:

          Let me post, again, an article on Japan by an economist who actually does understand modern economics;

          • MG says:

            We had tax hikes in Slovakia recently, but we did not experience recession. Furthemore, our level of sales tax is much hgher than in Japan. Maybe without the rising private debt in Slovakia, we could experience recession due to the lower private consumption.

            Anyway, when the wages are stagnating or rising only little, there is not much space for more private spending without the new private debt.

            • John Doyle says:

              According to MMT, tax hikes are to be used to slow spending in the private sector. The government then has to augment spending to compensate. That way spending can be targetted to whatever the government chooses to fund. The economy is thus not put into inflation.

  27. BP says:

    I’ve found that whoever may be right, they at any rate are wrong.

  28. Paul says:

    Oh look …. we are saved! http://phys.org/news/2014-11-sawdust-gasoline.html

    All we need to do is cut down all the trees and turn them into gasoline!!!

    Of course no mention as to the EROEI in this process… best to leave the facts out…

    We approach Idiocracy.

    • If it does have a decent EROEI, cellulose biofuels could be a big thing. Instead of using the corn kernels that would otherwise be food for people, we would be able to convert the corn stocks into fuel. As long as only hydrogen and carbon are used, and the remaining material put back in the ground, it wouldn’t even strip the soil.

    • Jarle B says:

      Edvard Munch:
      “I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

      Absinthe aided clairvoyance.


  29. Christian says:

    Gail congratulations for your papers on nukes. Can’t see much what could be added, it’s ridiculous but we’d enter in details such as an estimation of the number of casks, price… Ridiculous, ha. But perhaps the number of readers you have did augmented some order of magnitude since the last post on nukes.

    In Arg. the rods are supposed to be casked and let stand within the facilities. I find it a good idea, since it concentrates the s..t

  30. Christian says:

    I sent it to Gail

  31. Christian says:

    The core was initially constituted by banking dynasties.

  32. Christian says:

    It’s quite bizarre

  33. Christian says:

    Hey, I can’t post the rest! This is a try

  34. Christian says:

    B9, Paul and any other interested

    This is the way I see is structured the ruling class of the world (or perhaps rather of the West)

    At the core there is a set of families, which I mentioned already. B9, this is not a question of DNA. Think people as Rockefeller got into it but didn’t shared previous families DNA, David was an outsider that truly became an insider (and was not a bastard of them, I suppose). So this core is not static, but of course has very few changes. Some families get in and some others must leave, according to the rythm of history.

    • Paul says:

      I agree – there is no automatic membership … however there are certain qualifications one must have to be considered for a place at the table

  35. Christian says:

    B9, Paul and any other interested

    This is the way I see is structured the ruling class of the world (or perhaps rather of the West)

    At the core there is a set of families, which I mentioned already. B9, this is not a question of DNA. Think people as Rockefeller got into it but didn’t shared previous families DNA, David was an outsider that truly became an insider (and was not a bastard of them). So this core is not static, but of course has very few changes. Some families get in and some others must leave, according to the rythm of history.

    The core was initially constituted by banking dynasties, as it is expected to happen in capitalism, and of course still is. Across the centuries new kinds of wealth appeared, not just banking/aristocracy as in the Middle Age and early Modernity (btw, Tudor and Orange-Nassau are still core families also). Very specially, FF made industry rise as a source of great wealth. So industrials started entering to the core, of wich the american branch is full. To the point to some extent now there is no strict division among banking and industry, and many families do both. Just think it’s impossible to develop whatever FF based industry without accessing some credit, and that not lending to a promissory new industry is banking suicide.

    So it is not a set of people, but of families. This is very important, because economic capital must be inherited, much more than say cultural capital. And the set of families relate to each other in different ways. It is not they doesn’t marry outsiders, they do not strictly follow the rules of aristocracy. Nor is it strictly a club where there is a list with the name of the members, but it is obvious that very many names will never be invited to the party. It is not only they are super rich; it is that to some extent they are relatives, they share business, they are related since decades and even centuries. It’s not a totally defined set, but it’s not a much fuzzy one.

    For exemple, Bushs weren’t super rich. They were rich, but well below the others we are considering. Nevertheless, one of them did got married to somebody belonging to the core. So they started belonging to the families and even founded one, but never truly reached the core: their fortune never got so high and so they were in need of doing something the core never does, work. So they worked in politics, exposing themselves in a way the others would never do.

    I don’t know if Zuckerberg did stole something or not, and I understand Jobs did created the first user-friendly interface in computers. But what I wanted to highlight is why software people, even if they can be really super rich, doesn’t enter into the families. Because in the end that’s the point: you are not a member of one of the families. That is, even if you are equally rich, or even more, you don’t marry them, you don’t share business with them, you perhaps never meet them, you behave somewhat bizarre to them (as Zuckerberg or even Bill Gates giving so much of their fortunes to charity, and to a kind of charity the PTB don’t do very much). The truth is I’ve not made research upon the subject, but I guess there are two points to begin with. First, computer science people did not needed much money to succeed in their business; no alliance with banking as the one the industry forged. independence, not mix. Second, the point B9 is raising: intelligence is associated with work, with creation, with real things emanating from an individual. And the core doesn’t works. Never. It never creates by itself but rather by means of other persons. It has a high degree of impersonality, which doesn’t rhyme with creation. Its best defining trait is banking, and banks do nothing by themselves, they just select who will be allowed to do something, to build, to create, to invade, to manage.

    So the PTB, as I am using the expression, is a network of owners. Excepting a few cases as the Bushs, politicians are their employees, just as everybody else. That’s why, according to the way I am using the expression, Kissinger is not PTB. He is not an owner, rather a consiglieri working for all the families, and below him are the Council of Foreign Relations, CIA, etc. And now, B9, we are reaching your main point: continuity of government and violence. The point of course is that PTB doesn’t exercise violence by themselves but by means of wichever state’s politicians and armed forces. But this was the rule until now, because banking has always been a good business and so they have been able to pay their employees. What if banks fail again and are not able to rescue themselves as they did in 2008? What if the banking era is gone forever? What will do politicians? What will do the military? I can be wrong, but I understand in the specific case of the US military high grades are not so much intertwined with politicians and the intellectual staff of the establishment, that they have to some extent different origins, and so I think the armed forces have some chance of overthrowing actual rulers and secure government continuity by themselves. Remember government continuity is not the prime directive for the owners, who place themselves above countries boundaries. They somewhat invented the State as we know it but charged somebody else to take care of it. That’s another limit they have.

    • Paul says:

      If I had to guess … I think it would be the people that have ultimately control of the central banks who are in control of the world….

      Think about it — they get to print all the money and loan it out — which means they get to enslave every government, corporation and individual.

      The not only make and enforce the laws — they are ABOVE the laws…

      And nobody can do a thing about it — because anyone with half a brain who could do something would never rock the boat — because these people reward you for toeing the line — for not opposing them — and they anyone who opposes them is destroyed or killed.

      Remember — they control the MSM — and they have PR experts on the team — if they had to they could make Mother Teresa out as a monster… just give them a reason …

      Recall how they sent the very powerful Berlusconi packing….

      And the president who believed the BS that he was the most powerful man in the world…. when he stood against the PTB he got his head blown off….

      As long as BAU continues those who control the money are the kinds…. everyone else is a vassal.

      If this is not true then why do governments no control the money supply of their countries?

      • Christian says:

        Paul, I see we agree. Bankers rule the world, I’ve said they are somewhat leaded by a name you alredy quoted: “give me the control of money supply of a country and I will not care who makes its laws”

        In Argentina, the national state owns the central bank and politicians are supposed to control money supply. And they do to an important extent. Kirchners are creating inflation via money supply since many years ago in order to drive their particular way of controlling governors and majors, as I’ve told some months ago, and of course this is done in a way it doesn’t hurts bankers interests (as no other enterprise, local private banks are showing high profits).

        Does somebody can change the system without being killed in the attempt? I don’t know. As I’ve recently said, I’m starting advocating bank nationalization here, for which I’m not sure a constitutional move should be needed.

        Something else on the PTB: I think G.W. Bush did his malthusian faux pas because of his particular place within PTB’s social space. He was a kind of black sheep in a secondary family, a drunkard, not really smart, etc. He was the dark side of PTB, and so he allowed himself to expose the kings were naked.

  36. Brunswickian says:


    “My patience was exhausted. ‘Gurudeva,’ I said, ‘I realize now that day by day you have been ridiculing me. I don’t understand why you disbelieve my truthful reports.’

    “‘Really, it has been your thoughts that have made you feel alternately weak and strong.’ My guru looked at me affectionately. ‘You have seen how your health has exactly followed your subconscious expectations. Thought is a force, even as electricity or gravitation. The human mind is a spark of the almighty consciousness of God. I could show you that whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely would instantly come to pass.‘

  37. kss says:

    Interesting part of the reason beef prices so high, I wonder what other industries compete with O&G?


  38. This was so well written, I felt it should be seen here. From slashdot.org:
    “Re:Well if two google engineers say so (4, Informative)
    Rei (128717) | 1 hour ago | (#48459367)
    It’s not the engineers’ fault; It’s rare that I’ve seen as big of a misrepresentation of an article outside of say Russian state propaganda that I’ve seen with this Register article. Starting with the title.

    The original article [ieee.org] absolutely, positively does not say in any way, shape or form, “Renewable energy ‘simply WON’T WORK'” or “Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.”

    The actual article says something very, very different. The engineers went into the project hoping that if we make the incremental improvements to make renewables as cheap as coal, then there will be a mass-switchover to renewables and CO2 levels will be held down. Except that that doesn’t work. Why? Because of lead times. People who have existing coal power plants for example aren’t just going to take them down because new renewables projects are cheaper than new coal plants. You need to get the price down well below that of coal to where it justifies them throwing their already-invested capital costs out the window. Without doing that, your switchover rate is limited by how fast power plants go offline, which is a very long time. So in their “as cheap as coal” scenario, they only get to a 55% emissions cut by 2050. They were hoping that’d keep the world under 350 ppm. But not only does the world still hit 350 ppm in that scenario, but it continues to rise. Hence, the hypothesis that getting renewables as cheap as coal is sufficient to prevent major climate change is suggested to be wrong.

    What that DOESN’T say in any way, shape or form:

    1) Renewables “WON’T WORK”
    2) Renewables “don’t help prevent climate change”
    3) There’s no scenario in which renewables can prevent climate change

    What they call for are several changes.

    1) They feel that focusing on preventing emissions with renewables isn’t enough, that you need active CO2 scrubbing as well.

    2) They call for renewables investment to adopt the “Google Model”: 70% core business, 20% related new business, 10% risky disruptive new technology. This is versus conventional investment which is 90% core business (aka incremental improvements), 9,9% related, and 0,1% disruptive. They think this provides better odds for renewables or other technologies to stop climate change because incrementally improving down to the price of coal – while it’d have a big impact on CO2 emissions rates – still won’t keep levels down below 350 ppm.

    Does this even resemble the Register article? Nope. Not even a little bit.”

    • B9K9 says:

      Somewhere, a village is missing an idiot. You’re beginning to sound like a religious zealot – perhaps one pining for his 72 virgins.

      If any alternatives to FFs were even by the smallest, most miniscule levels available to IC, don’t you think $trillions would be directed & spent towards energy sufficiency? Why was nuclear power so heavily invested back in the 1950s (!!!), decades before US, and then global peak oil production?

      Why did the British fight the Turks back in 1914 for control of the Iraq/Iran oil fields? Why did Japan attack the US @ Pearl in 1941? Why did we engage in GW I & II? Why is the US/EU completely committed to bringing down Russia and its allies in order to convert them to vassal states? Why, why, why?!

      But no, fingers in your ears, la la la, can’t hear what you’re saying, don’t bother me with real, hard facts, just keep repeating nonsense, dream-time stuff.

      You’re wasting bandwidth here.

      • So, you believe that windmills in 1914 were of the same efficiency, ROI, EROEI as windmills today, as potential windmills will be in the future? Seems to me you are the “Oil is God” zealot here.

      • Paul says:

        B9 — you need to get one of the computers with a custom ‘ignore Matthew’ key… 🙂

      • InAlaska says:

        You’re delusional if you think that the Plan is for US/EU to turn “Russia and its allies” into vassal states. Talk about being in la la land.

        • Paul says:

          Of course that is the plan — then want Putin out — and a compliant leader in. That’s the formula that they use with every other country over the years…

          John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hitman) does a great job of explaining this works through his direct involvement:


          Of course it is much more difficult to pull this off in countries like Russia and China — they are both armed to the teeth…

          • InAlaska says:

            That is why replacing Putin is not a Plan. It is too difficult. It is too dangerous. It is too ridiculous. There is no Plan.

            • Paul says:

              If removing Putin were not the end game then why do I keep reading in the MSM which is owned by the PTB — that Putin is the devil?

            • InAlaska says:

              The real question is why do you, Paul, keep reading the mainstream media when all you do is denounce it as an organ of the supposed Deep State? In answer to your question, I would regurgitate back at you the various anti-American rants that I hear from you and others all the time: because the empire badly needs enemies to fight to justify its actions around the world (Al Qaeda, Putin, ISIS, etc. etc.) If, as many including you have argued on this site in the past, the empire needs bad guys as a raison d’etra to give a cover to its “evil” intentions, then why would it seek to eliminate those very same enemies? If Putin makes the perfect foil against which we can act, then why would he be eliminated (even if that were possible)? Here again is the conundrum you continuously present to us on this site: either the PTB are all-controlling or the PTB are incompetent. Please choose a narrative and stick with it.

            • ” either the PTB are all-controlling or the PTB are incompetent. Please choose a narrative and stick with it.”

              Why is it A OR B? Why not they are controlling, and incompetent?

            • InAlaska says:

              Uh, that question kinda answers itself there Matthew.

            • Paul says:

              I read the MSM because:

              – if provides me with entertainment — similar to the way E-Entertainment and fake reality shows entertain the sheeple…. the hard news in the MSM is a joke…. it is quite amusing to watch the sheeple watching CNN when I am in an airport lounge (one of the few places I encounter teevee) with serious looks on this faces believing they are getting real news …

              – it is also extremely useful in understand important issues — because whatever the MSM is saying about any important issue — I can generally dismiss that as a lie — and therefore rule out that take on the issue in my quest to find the truth

              The PTB are absolutely competent (only an idiot would think that the people who actually run the world are stupid or incompetent – this is NOT Idiocracy) — with regards to Putin I am not absolutely sure as to what the end game is…. but it is no doubt malicious…

              But if it keeps BAU going longer — I am all for it…. I want that hamster to run at any cost…

              Because when he stops…. the extinction event follows soon after…

              I leave you with a clip of CNN Fake News — this is an absolute classic!

            • John Doyle says:

              It alone doesn’t stop “them”trying and vilifying him. The more they carry on the more legitimate he appears in the eyes of those not in thrall to PTB, which is not many of us!

            • I don’t think they are trying to replace Putin. They are trying to repeat the collapse of the Soviet Union by bankrupting Russia. Then it doesn’t matter who is in charge once they have collapsed into chaos.

            • Paul says:

              Hmmmm… the Europeans might not like chaos in Russia … considering they require Russian gas to keep warm in the winter…

            • In the immortal words of Victoria Nuland, “Fuck the EU”. The Neocons don’t care what the EU wants or needs.

    • Paul says:

      Matthew — I think a rerun of Dancing with Stars is starting shortly…. hurry along…

      • Someone, please, show me where me error is:

        1. All resources are finite

        2. Our modern world was created through the use of fossil fuels

        3. Our modern world currently needs fossil fuels to exist

        4. There are ~500 nuclear plants in the world, and they are getting to be around 40 years old and in need of decommissioning

        5. Without constant maintenance, some portion of the spent fuel ponds will suffer catastrophic failure, each one being much larger in scale than the single reactor at Chernobyl

        6. These spent fuel ponds will need to be maintained for at least centuries, unless a long term storage solution is implemented, in which case those storage facilities will need to operate for at least centuries.

        7. Therefore, if there is a sudden collapse, or even a slow collapse, and the waste is not dealt with, there seems a likelihood that much of the earth will be exposed to thousands of times more radioactive material than Chernobyl. Without adequate resources, no entombing can occur, so these spent fuel ponds will just keep going until they have scattered all the material they can.

        8. Therefore, there are only two possible futures; either a reduction in fossil fuels results in nuclear catastrophe results in wiping out most complex life on the surface of the Earth, or we are able to maintain some level of civilization through renewable energy and organic (non-fossil fuel based) farming, and are able to maintain the waste until it no longer poses an existential threat to humanity.

        9. If there is zero chance of existence without fossil fuels due to the nuclear threat, there is no value, utility or purpose in discussing anything other than how best to party it up before doomsday.

        10. On the other hand, if there is any chance greater than zero that we can survive, we should work towards finding solutions to provide the energy, food, and nuclear waste storage needed.

        • InAlaska says:

          Don’t worry too much about winning your argument. B9 and Paul are like sharks in the blogosphere ocean smelling blood. They’ll attack you just to see you thrash. If one of them starts to bleed they’ll attack each other. I wouldn’t get too close during the collapse as you might end up in the soup pot. Of course, they could also be harmless, nerdy high school kids with bad skin and not much going on in the girlfriend department either. We’ll never know, I guess.

        • B9K9 says:

          Number 10, but outside anyone’s domain to control. Greer – the Archdruid – covers the topic of small, regional, surviving bands quite nicely. Of course, they will have to adapt to 500+ nuclear reactor spent fuels rods going critical, but hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge?

          You need to use your powers of faculty to deduce that (a) if there was even the tiniest hint of a possibly viable, sustainable solution, all available resources would be directed towards that end; (b) there would be no limit as to the number of social programs sacrificed, including entire groups of people “thrown under the bus”, in order to manage a full-scale effort; and (c) the project(s) would be ceaselessly gamed by any/all with any capital and foreknowledge that some miracle might be in the wings.

          Do you see any evidence of either a, b and/or c occurring? No. All we see is 100% commitment to preserving BAU. Doesn’t this tell you something? It really is all over – we had a great run, but at the end of the day, we’re just like any other animal species that ran into hard limits. And all civilization ever really was was fire – first wood, then peat, then coal, then gas/oil.Take it away, and what do you have? The naked, bald, scared great ape completely exposed to nature like the lowliest, barely surviving group.

          • First, it seems to me that outside of war, humanity is not capable of mass mobilization. Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, and 10 percent of the population is off overseas while people at home grow gardens and voluntarily consume less. I do not think humans can do the same with energy or global warming.

            Second, if they could, in their efforts they would destabilize the system, and cause the collapse we are trying to avoid.

            Third, government is not the solution. As it is, with all the subsidies and obscenely low interest rates, there is already massive malinvestment in renewables.

            Maintaining BAU as long as possible may be the best solution, since it allows for the most technological advancement in the widest range of fields. In fact, it may be best if the government and population at large forgot about AGW and did not think about Peak Oil, subsidies went away and interest rates were somehow able to get back around 8%.

            • Christian says:

              Well, we are still on this point, ha. Don’t know, perhaps we’ll blow up, right. But I can’t see why aren’t we going to try lasting the most we are able. Just saying. The ponds are the big s..t, everybody seems to agree. They don’t require centuries of maintenance, just one or two decades. I understand at the nearby Embalse power plant 6 years of active cooling are needed before sending the rods to the casks. At Atucha in Buenos Aires it’s worst, 15 years.

              The casks seems to work somewhat fine. Surely better than the pools, they waren’t damaged at Daichi I believe

              Here we can reach any conclusions we want. The question is this having consequences in the said real world

              I don’t pledge advancing the financial collapse neither. I rather think we should take any advantage we can from BAU while it exists! Thats the transition, if any

              So we come back to the point BAU should finance a couple of tens of thousands of casks and some extra pools. Who goes to the bank and get the loan, or goes to the gov and get it subsided? Most of the faciliites are reaching stipulated limits also

            • Paul says:

              I seem to recall referencing data that indicated there were 720,000 tonnes of active waste in ponds that cannot be casked.

              There are nearly 500 nuclear power plants in the world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_by_country#List_of_nuclear_reactors_by_country

              Each one of those continues to defecate more fuel rods that requiring years of cooling…

              As the Harvard research pointed out — if one fuel pond goes uncooled that would release the equivalent of up to 18 Chernobyls.

              What the report did not mention is that Chernobyl was contained… if one of these fuel ponds goes up in smoke post BAU it will not be contained… there will be no choppers dropping cement on it… it will spew toxic radioactive materials for many decades…

              So 18x Chernobyl is not the right number…. the danger posed would be exponentially higher.

              And that is one single pond. There are thousands of these around the world.

            • Christian says:

              “I seem to recall referencing data that indicated there were 720,000 tonnes of active waste in ponds that cannot be casked”.

              Paul where did you got that?

            • Paul says:

              I posted a link to that along with the Harvard research paper… you’ll have to review the earlier comments to find it

            • Paul says:

              A typical nuclear power plant in a year generates 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. The nuclear industry generates a total of about 2,000 – 2,300 metric tons of used fuel per year.

              Over the past four decades, the entire industry has produced 71,780 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. If used fuel assemblies were stacked end-to-end and side-by-side, this would cover a football field about seven yards deep.


              Whatever the number is … it is massive… far more than is necessary to kill everything on the planet if left without cooling.

              Again – once a pond goes off — it doesn’t stop going off… for decades….

            • Christian says:

              It seems to be a nice site Paul. They also say this:

              “Estimated Cost of Decommissioning

              Per plant

              $300 million to $500 million—includes estimated radiological, used fuel ($100 million) and site restoration costs (about $300 million)”.

              So according to their numbers for all fuel of 500 plants we’d have USD 50 bn. That’s the money calculus, have to check materials but it seems there are no rare earths involved, mainly concrete and steel. In Arg’s case it would be at most 300 millions, nothing

            • Paul says:

              The 500 nuclear plants are not the issue — those can be shut down — and 50 billion dollars is peanuts… we are printing tens of trillions of dollars … do you think that finding the money for something this crucial would be a problem?

              The problem is the fuel rods — once you shut the plants you still have tens of thousands of tonnes of spent fuel rods that need to be put into high tech cooling facilities for many years — then they have to be transferred to dry casks down the road.

              I do not see how this will be possible — and I think this is exactly why the PTB are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for post collapse.

            • Chris Harries says:

              I googled PTB and the result came in variously as:
              “Powers That Be”
              “Pass The Buck”
              “Please Text Back”
              But it’s also an abbreviation for both the Brazilian and Portugese Labor parties.

            • Christian says:

              Say we got from Zuck, Gates and fellows the money for the casks. They already do a lot of phylanthropy, and not the kind of phylanthropy the PTB use to do (while it’s not providing casks, not yet at least). Just dreaming…

            • Paul says:

              Once again … you cannot put spent fuel into casks until it has degraded for minimum 5 years…

              And if money were the issue in case you hadn’t noticed — central banks are printing tens of trillions….

              If casks were the answer — we’d have as many as are needed.

              Let’s use some common sense here shall we

            • InAlaska says:

              Paul, respectfully and with regard to these fuel rods, I don’t think you have the understanding of the physics involved to be posting with such certitude. You surf the internet and then post things like you really understand it. In reality, your posts are simply your marginally informed opinion. Without knowing for sure, I suspect nobody on this site is qualified to render an informed opinion on the safety or danger of spent fuel rod pools. You have the tendency to latch onto something and flog it into submission without the slightest hesitation as to the credibility of your information. In high school the kids are continuously warned not to base their research papers on what they get from Googling it on the internet. You would be wise to do the same.

            • ” Without knowing for sure, I suspect nobody on this site is qualified to render an informed opinion on the safety or danger of spent fuel rod pools.”

              Even the experts are suspect, so how much anyone can know anything with certainty is questionable. Here is one of the “experts” who swam in spent fuel ponds for fun:

            • Paul says:

              And this fellow is not qualified?


              Hui Zhang is a Senior Research Associate at the Project on Managing the Atom in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Hui Zhang is leading a research initiative on China’s nuclear policies for the Project on Managing the Atom in the Kennedy School of Government. His researches include verification techniques of nuclear arms control, the control of fissile material, nuclear terrorism, China’s nuclear policy, nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation, policy of nuclear fuel cycle and reprocessing.

              Before coming to the Kennedy School in September 1999, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University from 1997-1999, and in 1998-1999, he received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Social Science Research Council, a MacArthur Foundation program on International Peace and Security. From 2002-2003, he received a grant for Research and Writing from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Hui Zhang received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics in Beijing in 1996.

              Dr. Zhang is the author of several technical reports and book chapters, and dozens of articles in academic journals and the print media including Science and Global Security, Arms Control Today, Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, Disarmament Diplomacy, Disarmament Forum, the Non-proliferation Review, Washington Quarterly, Journal of Nuclear Materials Management , INESAP, and China Security. Dr. Zhang gives many oral presentations and talks in international conferences and organizations.

              Let’s see what he has concluded:



              As I will point out to the court jester… the issue is not whether or not you can swim in a nuclear fuel pond — the issue is what happens when the cooling of the pond is stopped — when the water boils away then up to 18 Chernobyls of radioactivity are released… and we have no way of putting a cap onto one of these therefore we get decades of high levels of radiation being released.

              And what happens when the thousands of other fuel pond around the world cannot be cooled?

            • All the belfer links are coming up unavailable.

            • A decent paper, although some of his recommendations seem flawed:

              ” It should take some effective measures including a strong two-person rule protecting against well-trained insiders”

              Yes, because one co-worker who works with you for several years and is not expecting anything will certainly never let his guard down, and will be able to stop an attack.

              “setting up a no-fly-zone around nuclear facilities to exclude attacks of suicide aircrafts”
              Better make it a “Gun Free Zone” as well, because if you just ban guns and airplanes and explosives near the plant, then no one will be able to ignore the sign and just fly into the no-fly zone.

            • Paul says:

              You seem to be missing my point… think bigger Matthew… this is not about terrorism…. the reason I have referenced that article has absolutely NOTHING to do with terrorism…

              The point — which I would have thought would be obvious to a 5 year old … was what happens if one of these ponds losing cooling … for WHATEVER reason…

              Of course they did not discuss the impact of the end of BAU — but the end of BAU would be the equivalent of a massive terrorist attack … on ALL spent fuel ponds. The impact would be the SAME.

              The rods would lose cooling and there would be a massive release of radiation from the thousands of ponds around the world.

              Do I need to paint by numbers so that you can understand what is a very simple concept?

            • Please, re-take elementary school and learn basic reading comprehension. I clearly had no dispute with his analysis, just some of his recommended solutions.

            • Paul says:


            • Paul says:

              I surf the web looking for information from experts….

              If this guy is not good enough for your http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/experts/13/hui_zhang.html?back_url=%2Fpublication%2F364%2Fradiological_terrorism.html&back_text=Back%20to%20publication

              And you wish to dismiss his findings http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

              And you are unable to post anything from a reputable source that contradicts his conclusions,,,,

              Then all I can say is — let’s get out the drums and bang our a round of Koombaya…

              Because I am not about to argue this issue when the other side is simply posting ‘I don’t believe this — even though I cannot support my position — I just don’t believe this so I am going to reject it’

              That is something Sarah Palin would say …

            • Interguru says:

              I have enough expertise to tell you that it is impossible for the fuel rods to explode. There are are two conditions needed for a nuclear explosion.

              The fuel must be enriched to over 20% U235 ( it is less than 1% in natural uranium ) . Nuclear fuel is enriched to about 3 or 4% — and the spent fuel rods are in the pool because they are so contaminated by reaction byproducts that they are no longer useful for a reactor.

              When you have the enriched uranium you have to hold it together long enough to get a massive chain reaction, otherwise it will just blow itself apart prematurely and fizzle. This is done with carefully shaped fuel surrounded by carefully shape explosive charges.

              I do not have enough expertise to state what will happen to abandoned fuel rods, It is obvious they will create a mess, but not an explosion.

              For more on making a nuclear explosion

              The Little Boy gun type atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 was made of highly enriched uranium with a large tamper. The nominal spherical critical mass for an untampered 235U nuclear weapon is 56 kilograms (123 lb),[3] a sphere 17.32 cm (6.8″) in diameter. The required material must be 85% or more of 235U and is known as weapons grade uranium, though for a crude, inefficient weapon 20% is sufficient (called weapon(s)-usable). Even lower enrichment can be used, but then the required critical mass rapidly increases. Use of a large tamper, implosion geometries, trigger tubes, polonium triggers, tritium enhancement, and neutron reflectors can enable a more compact, economical weapon using one-fourth or less of the nominal critical mass, though this would likely only be possible in a country that already had extensive experience in engineering nuclear weapons. Most modern nuclear weapon designs use plutonium as the fissile component of the primary stage,[4][5] however HEU is often used in the secondary stage.


              for more on spent fuel rods

              If there is a prolonged interruption of cooling due to emergency situations, the water in the spent fuel pools may boil off, possibly resulting in radioactive elements being released into the atmosphere.[5]
              In the magnitude 9 earthquake which struck the Fukushima nuclear plants in March 2011, three of the spent fuel pools were in buildings that lost the roof and were seen to be emitting water vapor. The US NRC wrongly stated that the pool at reactor 4 had boiled dry[6] — this was denied at the time by the Japanese and found to be incorrect in subsequent inspection and data examination.[7]
              According to nuclear plant safety specialists, the chances of criticality in a spent fuel pool are very small, usually avoided by the dispersal of the fuel assemblies, inclusion of a neutron absorber in the storage racks and overall by the fact that the spent fuel has too low an enrichment level to self-sustain a fission reaction. They also state that if the water covering the spent fuel evaporates, there is no element to enable a chain reaction by moderating neutrons.[8][9][10]
              According to Dr. Kevin Crowley of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, “successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material.”[11]


              There enough catastrophic black swans circling that we do not need to invent new ones, lose credibility, and close unwilling ears even tighter.

            • Paul says:

              I think the Harvard expert has given a rather thorough explanation of the dangers associated with spent fuel ponds when they are left without cooling.

              What you have posted tells me absolutely nothing.

            • Paul says:

              “According to nuclear plant safety specialists, the chances of criticality in a spent fuel pool are very small”

              “successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible”

              Yadda yadda yadda… of course the odds of a terrorist blowing one of these up is small — of course the chances of the back up systems failing is very small…

              However the chances of all of these ponds going critical when BAU fails is almost a 100% certainty. How do you back up a fuel pond when you have no electricity?

              Of course they do not address what happens when that happens — because like the complete idiots who invented this insanity — they could never envision BAU failing ….

              They are like the economists’ models that do not factor in that the world is finite..

              They are absolute idiots.

            • “They are absolute idiots.”

              Or alternatively, there is the conspiracy answer; the true PTB have underground bunkers, and plan to live for generations underground while the rest of the Earth is depopulated, then re-emerge afterwards and have an empty earth that still has half the coal and oil left, and only a few hundred thousand / few million people.

            • Paul says:

              Perhaps they are village idiots too

            • If the village idiots are the ones with billions of dollars, I’d love to be one.

            • InAlaska says:

              Thank you, interguru. This doesn’t, however, solve the issue of radioactive clouds spewing into the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Possibly all of the ponds could be capped with dirt and concrete.. It wouldn’t take too much energy investment to do that in a last minute effort to shut them down before power down.

            • interguru says:

              Do you really think any structure we build will contain waste for thousands of year? Just imagine if Rome had left us piles of radioactive waste to babysit over the collapse of the empire, the dark ages etc.

              For what it’s worth, the contaminated land around Chernobyl hosts a diverse thriving ecosystem, including large mammals, even though most of the creatures themselves are sickly.

            • InAlaska says:

              I know there have been whole think tanks dedicated to figuring out how to build such a structure and then how do we communicate the terrible danger a thousand years into future in symbols and ideas that will never go out of understanding. I think they came up with a pyramid type structure and lots of pictures of skulls and crossbones. I also believe that life will find a way around radiation. It will adapt. The universe is awash in radiation (the sun, for example). Genetic mutation will continue to select for the most fit. Life, maybe not our type of life, will go on. It’ll be weird, though.

            • interguru says:

              Almost all of the pyramids in Egypt have been looted.

            • Paul says:

              I think that if it were a matter of simply entombing these monsters then we’d already do that … why bother cooling them for many years…. why not take them straight from the reactor and into dry casks – which is the same as entombing.

              Needless to say … this is a rather disturbing piece of information that I have stumbled across….

              One can’t even build an under ground bunker and hide away for a few months because if these things erupt then they keep spewing for decades…

              I must say … I am rather pissed off about this… to put it mildly …

            • “If casks were the answer — we’d have as many as are needed.”

              Is the problem a physical engineering problem or limitation, or is the problem purely political, with Harry Reid and the Nevada NIMBYs simply selfishly endangering all humanity by preventing long term storage?

            • Paul says:

              “An away-from-reactor, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), such as the one located at the Morris Operation, is also sometimes used. In many countries, the fuel assemblies, after being in the reactor for 3 to 6 years, are stored underwater for 10 to 20 years before being sent for reprocessing or dry cask storage. The water cools the fuel and provides shielding from radiation.”

              The problem is the bloody things are radiation bombs that need to be cooled for years before you can cask them.

              Obviously this is an engineering problem — that has no solution other than leaving the bombs in cold water for a couple of decades….

              What I am wondering is …. who were the bright lights who authorized nuclear power in the first place — knowing full well that the spent fuel was capable of extincting all life on earth?

            • There are about 500 reactors in the world; America has about 1/4 of them, and France another 1/4.

              Congress wouldn’t even spend the $500 million to harden the grid against solar flares. It seems in America, moving waste into dry casks is pretty much up to the plant operator.

              Here’s the NRC FAQ:

              Somehow, Canada has second largest supply of spent fuels. Also, holy crap, 1 million years?

              “It is widely accepted that spent nuclear fuel and high-level reprocessing and plutonium wastes require well-designed storage for periods ranging from tens of thousands to a million years, to minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment. Safeguards are also required to ensure that neither plutonium nor highly enriched uranium is diverted to weapon use. There is general agreement that placing spent nuclear fuel in repositories hundreds of meters below the surface would be safer than indefinite storage of spent fuel on the surface.” -from http://thebulletin.org/managing-nuclear-spent-fuel-policy-lessons-10-country-study

            • Paul says:

              I bet there are no safeguards for a situation where the electricity goes off — forever.

              I cannot imagine how there could be – just as the fools who created these monsters could not have imagined that BAU could ever end.

            • Paul says:

              And why not just print the money out of thin air — just add a little to the trillions being printed every year?

            • Christian says:

              Dry casking is the official politics of Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Argentina’s atomic authority. And leaving the casks in the facilites. I see at least the first part is a widely adopted approach, and it seems to have worked fine along the succession of troubles at Daichi (while it would be good to go deeper upon this later point). So, I don’t see why should I contradict CNEA. I don’t know if CNEA has already encasked something or even did bought containers (Wiki says “yes”, CNEA docs I’ve found “no”).

              It would be the bigger surprise of my life to know CNEA is getting the casks at the rate it
              fuels the reactors. I know at some point casks will not be available anymore and so would be happy knowing stocks truly match used rods ASAP. The total cost of the casks for already used material should be somewhere near 200 millions, and it is not impossible a certain fraction of this total having been already spent. I am not in the details of the local ponds situation neither. Had talked about the issue to a couple of supposed important people here but still obtained no answer. Would be fairly glad if say computer people are willing to start a kind of campaign upon the matter, perhaps even spending big money on it.

            • Christian says:

              PTB have no relation at all with the situation. Doesn’t own the plants, produce the casks nor finance them. The whole is responsability of the Argentinean government, it is just I don’t see it doing accurately it’s job and would be glad if somebody else helps to push it the way forward.

            • Paul says:

              So what you are saying… is that there is a solution at hand for the spent nuclear rods problem .. but that the PTB have decided not to take it because it would cost money and that the PTB don’t own the plants that can provide the solution.

              So the PTB will just take a pass on that solution — and they and their families get to perish in a massive endless cloud of radiation along with the rest of life on the planet?

              Time for a bit of common sense here no?

              And what about the tonnes of fuel rods that can’t be put into casks?

            • Christian says:

              The last details I’ve got from CNEA site, which I’ve surely exhausted: at Embalse used rods are being stocked in concrete silos after 6 years of cooling, and at Atucha dry cask storage is planned to start in a few months. CNEA is also about to start the construction of the first of a new kind of very small power reactors (25 MW) of it’s entirely own design (they already designed and built experimental and med reactors, of wich many were exported). This money would do surely better going to casking.

        • Simple Simon says:

          I’m impressed with the way you have stayed with a rational discussion instead of personal attacks.
          I’m (naive enough?) to treat this blog as a community which has the capability of improving the odds – however close to zero they may be – of some of humanity surviving.

          There are many examples of survival – or failure to survive – being inextricably linked to how well the community operates as a team. Fantastic book called “No Mercy” gives some very graphic examples.

          Personal attacks on others is a behaviour that drastically reduces the survival of all within the group/community/team.

          I would like this online community to survive; I see it as helping our chances of survival. While there is ANY chance, I will unequivocally not give up.

          For those who absolutely believe there is NO chance, I really appreciate any facts, reasoned argument etc you have to offer. However, could i suggest that you don’t dismiss those who have come to the view that the future is going to be distinctly messy – but will keep pushing for some future rather than none.

          If you are certain of “no future”, I am unclear as to why you want to force that position onto others – which is the impression the ad hominem attacks give.

          To sum up, there is a whole of data coming through this blog which i value hugely. How we turn that data into information through our interpretation is something that we can differ on – but let’s look at the chain of logic that creates those interpretations so that it can be improved, rather than simply dismissing them in emotive terms.

          • Paul says:

            Rational? What is rational about dismissing the Google report?

            We are not (yet) Idiocracy. There are still a few people who will look at those comments and call out the village idiot.

            • No one is dismissing what the Google guys said. You keep referring to the hack job done by The Register, rather than the original article by the two engineers on the IEEE site.

            • Paul says:

              If you think the Register article is a hack job then you are mocking our host Gail — because she has posted a number of articles on this site that are far more comprehensive take downs of the renewable energy industry.

              She has gone into far more detail than the Register as to why renewables do not work — would not exist with out fossil fuels… and are a complete and utter waste of time.

              Are you saying Gail is doing a hack job on renewables as well?

            • You are trying to distort what I am saying. The article written on The Register skews and alters the words from the two engineers. Their headline is completely replaced with a more sensationalist version.

            • Paul says:

              If that is ‘sensationalism’ then what are Gail’s post regarding renewable energy?

              Go and read them — she has made a complete mockery of the industry — she has destroyed the business model for renewable energy exposed how they are massive wastes of investment — she has detailed how not a single one of them could exist without fossil fuel inputs and government subsidies…

              Is that sensationalism?

              The Google article is dead on the money. And if fail to see that then you really do belong back in the village as B9 has suggested.

            • “The Google article is dead on the money.” I’m guessing you did not even read the articles.

              Original headline written by the Google engineers:
              What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change
              Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?
              By Ross Koningstein & David Fork

              The Register version:
              Renewable energy ‘simply WON’T WORK’: Top Google engineers
              Windmills, solar, tidal – all a ‘false hope’, say Stanford PhDs
              By Lewis Page, 21 Nov 2014

              The Register:
              “Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.”

              Two claims there: NEVER hit CO2 targets, and a renewables-powered civilization is impossible.

              I guess it depends on your definition of civilisation, but if we avert nuclear annihilation, 500 million to 1 billion people should be able to live decently post-fossil fuels.

              What the actual engineers with PhDs said:
              “Its aspirational goal: to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than a coal-fired plant could, and to achieve this in years, not decades.

              Unfortunately, not every Google moon shot leaves Earth orbit. In 2011, the company decided that RE<C was not on track to meet its target and shut down the initiative. "

              They were trying to go, in a few years, to having renewable energy at lower cost than coal-fired plants. Pretty ambitious. They concluded that, even if they could get power that cheaply, it would not be cheap enough to convince existing coal-fired power plant owners to switch over, and while emissions would be 55% lower than the BAU projection, it would still be well over the 350 ppm target.

              Keep in mind, from what I can tell, they are only looking at ROI plus CO2 emissions, and they seem to be assuming an awful lot of coal going forward 150 years into the future.

            • Paul says:

              I don’t even need to read the Register article let alone the others — because Gail has done this topic to death — and I know that renewable energy is utter BS and an exercise in futility.

              And I have done a bit of research on my own and because I am not an idiot … I can conclude after reading articles like the 3 below — that renewable energy is a joke…. it is Koombaya drum thumping Idiocracy.

              it is so very obviously a waste of time that it is not worth debating or even discussing….

              I’d rather have a debate over whether the tooth fairy is real with a 4 year old

              Solar – After Hundreds of Billions of Dollars of Subsidies and R&D and this is what we get?

              The German Solar Disaster: 21 Billion Euros Burned

              Spain’s disastrous attempt to replace fossil fuels with Solar Photovoltaics

            • And what do all those failures have in common? They were only made because of subsidies and low interest rates.

              Look up the Panic of 1873. The US Government paid subsidies of $16,000 per mile for companies to lay track. So some companies laid track in the windiest possible way, to maximize subsidies. Few made railroads that were anywhere close to optimal. After all the crappy railroads went bankrupt, people like James J. Hill bought them up and built good railroads that were made to be as efficient and well made as possible, since they weren’t relying on subsidies or gaming the system to get the most government money.

              The same may happen with renewables, if the system keeps running long enough. 10, 20 years after all these subsidies end and lots of people go bankrupt, the technologies will have matured and responsible businesses without the need for handouts will be able to build truly useful renewable power. And who knows, some of the plants made today could turn out to be viable and stick around, too.

            • Paul says:

              Let me intrude on your delusional world:

              Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear.

              All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.


            • Who said powering everything that currently exists? There seems to be three radically different expectations from renewable energy:
              1. “sustainable growth” – people that believe that some how one can use renewables to perpetually grow the economy
              2. “power everything we have, as we have it now”; somehow expecting to just continue commuting 50 miles into work and back everyday alone in a 2 ton automobile, go on jet flights and enjoy trips on a cruise ship, but at least they only expect current levels of consumption, not compounding growth
              3. decentralization, degrowth, much lower energy consumption per capita. Particularly in Anglo-America, best case I would anticipate 50 to 90% energy drop. No more cruise ships. back to sail-powered cargo ships.probably 50% of the population involved in food production.

            • Paul says:

              BAU exists in its entirety or not at all.

              Think of what is involved in making a computer. You need massive mining machinery — computers — roads — you need to be able to maintain the roads so you need all the gear for that — you need engineers who need schools who need buses or cars to get to school — so you need factories to make these… you need spare parts for everything — you need food — to make you food you need lots of other gear… to get your computers to where they need to go you need ships and airplanes and trucks…. you also need credit and banks — which need computers and people who need to go to school etc etc etc etc…

            • I’m not sure you understand what BAU means. BAU, or “Business As Usual” is the current system of perpetual growth on a finite world.

              Perpetual growth is not needed. Roads existed before petroleum. Goods and services have traded from China to Africa for a thousand years. Perhaps the future is a world without computers and the Internet, and we go back to writing on paper. Of course, the only thing that matters is first surviving the nuclear waste, one way or another.

            • Paul says:

              BAU is modern civilization and everything that goes with it.

              There is no going back to the 1600’s — because when BAU collapses we will not have access to any resources… because the low hanging fruit is long gone…. also we have none of the skills necessary to do that …. skills that such people built up over generations…

              We will be Idiocracy in reverse…. a bunch of lunk heads who know how to use iphones but we have not the slightest clue how to grow food…

              Not to worry though — we will mostly all die from starvation and disease very quickly — that is a best case scenario — worst case of course is all life dies from radiation poisoning.

              I am going with Door 2.

            • InAlaska says:

              Very seldom in nature is anything 100%. Of the 7.2 billion of us, several million will have the ingenuity, survival skills, insight and good luck to make it through.

            • Paul says:

              Does that include the skills to survive tens of thousands of tonnes of radioactive toxins that are going to be released for decades post collapse?

              Japan is upwind from Alaska … they have quite a few spent fuel ponds…

            • InAlaska says:

              The assumption that you need computers to run BAU is predicated on the idea that BAU can’t be simplified. You don’t need computers to run a “stepped down BAU.” You just need people. Once things are no longer automated, you don’t need the computers to run the show. People can man the many various industries that are now automated with computers and robots. Using people instead of computers and machines would slow things down but would also create full employment. People are our worst and our best resource at this juncture in history.

            • Paul says:

              Let’s address one industry — the only one that matters — oil.

              You cannot extract oil without computers — you cannot manufacture all the complex gear that is required to extract and refine oil — without computers. You need fully functioning BAU to do this.

              And if you cannot extract and refine oil — then the industrial revolution ends — and you revert to a very primitive economy with very little industry…. perhaps you have some blacksmiths using charcoal to make simple implements.

              Keep in mind — the industrial revolution only happened because we harnessed fossil fuels…. we have used up the low hanging fruit so going forward we are out of luck….

            • It is really very hard to step down BAU, just like it is hard to step down a networked system. There are too many pieces working together.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “BAU exists in its entirety or not at all.”

              Objection! Assuming facts not in evidence!

              I guess it depends on how you define “BAU.” I think any “business,” performed in a “usual” manner, could be defined as “BAU.” Trading a horse for some pumpkins, for example.

            • InAlaska says:

              Or BAU in, say, 1900. Just step back a little from current BAU.

            • Paul says:

              Yes of course BAU can be redefined …..

              Subsistence farming could be the new BAU once the current BAU paradigm ends….

            • Jan Steinman says:

              “Subsistence farming could be the new BAU once the current BAU paradigm ends…”

              I’m banking on it! (Well, don’t have nuthin’ left to bank — put it all into food-growing capital…)

            • InAlaska says:

              You may be right. This is an argument I’ve tried here before. No one is talking about using renewables to maintain BAU as it exists now. But how about BAU in 1900? If we create enough solar PV equipment now, while we still can, it would be immensely helpful post-collapse in the creation of many, small decentralized areas where people could keep on trying to make a living. It wouldn’t last forever, but it might get us through the Bottleneck to whatever awaits us in the long emergency.

            • With Item 3, also government collapses. Collapse in international trade. Lack of international sailing ships to deliver cargo. We can’t shrink that much.

          • alturium says:

            There are many examples of survival – or failure to survive – being inextricably linked to how well the community operates as a team

            Well said. Thank you Simon.

    • Jarle B says:


      I read the article at http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/what-it-would-really-take-to-reverse-climate-change

      Towards the end the Google engineers say:

      “We’re glad that Google tried something ambitious with the RE<C initiative, and we’re proud to have been part of the project. But with 20/20 hindsight, we see that it didn’t go far enough, and that truly disruptive technologies are what our planet needs. To reverse climate change, our society requires something beyond today’s renewable energy technologies. Fortunately, new discoveries are changing the way we think about physics, nanotechnology, and biology all the time. While humanity is currently on a trajectory to severe climate change, this disaster can be averted if researchers aim for goals that seem nearly impossible."

      What we need: Something beyond today’s renewable energy technologies.

      How do we get it: Aim for goals that seem nearly impossible.

      The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades…

      • Keep in mind what their objectives are. They are trying to fight AGW or Climate Change (which means only climate change made by humans, but they do not include Anthropogenic anymore as part of the rebranding).

        They were trying to not just make renewable power, but make renewable power that has a lower cost per Kw/h than coal power.

        They realized that even if you could make a windmill or solar plant that was cheaper than coal, it would not be enough to get people to shut down their existing coal power plants.

        This does not in anyway indicate that renewable energy sources cannot be made with positive EROEI (I did not see anything in their article that even mentions EROEI). Their entire project was about money and carbon emissions.

        Of course they are technotopian, they work for Google.

      • InAlaska says:

        Jarle B and others,
        This sounds to me that they think the solution will be somewhat like Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Theory. A combination of AI, nanotechnology and biochemistry will work synergistically to recreate the world and solve many, if not all, of our intractable predicaments.

  39. B9K9 says:

    Christian, the interwebs are replete with different messages for different mentalities. You seem to greatly underestimate how this world works with respect for the PTB.

    ZH had a nice article a few days ago that explored the different levels of assigned existence, with truth only reserved for the top, governing layer. For everyone else, there are various exposures – which explains the endless celebrity “news” – including the managerial class, the proles and of course the brain dead lumpen.

    Rather than advise Paul to head on out to NBL, perhaps you yourself would be more comfortable @ Kunstler’s blog. He, like you, seems to discount the notion of the deep state, which tends to shape his essays as endless criticisms of those clueless Keystone Cops, the feckless, incompetent PTB.

    As for myself, I know that everything we see/hear is driven by the truth of our situation. To once again gently chide Paul about his wasted umbrage regarding nuclear energy, the PTB knew about our dependence on non-renewable FFs back in 1914:


    Likewise, the US Navy went to nuclear energy immediately after WWII:


    What this means is the PTB have always known about our situation, and for 100 years plus, every single actual geo-political event is driven by this ultimate truth. You can deny, complain, get depressed, rage, but at the end of the day, all we were – and are – are scared hairless great apes who need sources of fuel to maintain fire.

    That’s it. Once you realize there’s nothing really more, then it’s pretty frickin’ easy to eliminate any emotional component and focus on the impact. What is means is that nice little conventions like civil liberties, and fine flowery words written centuries ago extolling the virtues of liberty, etc are expendable when it comes down to actual life & death. That’s the truth the PTB know, and why they must lie to the masses to avoid a general panic.

    • Christian says:


      Perhaps you doesn’t entirely understand my point of view. I know pretty well PTB must lie to the masses, but not just in order to avoid a general panic: also to avoid becoming the target for the angry masses. I don’t see how I could be related to somebody as Kunstler but I didn’t have really read him. I don’t understand what is this keystone you’re talking about, but I see you say Kunstler presents PTB as feckless and incompetent. This is not at all what I’ve said. I’ve just said they have limits, as everybody else. They have some abilities but these are not infinite. Reg their supposed lack of responsability (feckless), I’d rather say they are not irresponsible, it’s rather they responsibility is limited to BAU and capitalism. It’s not they should do something and don’t want to do it, as upon your description is Kunstler’s view. It’s they won’t do something because they can’t. And they can’t because they can’t imagine something different and most of all they can’t imagine themselves living in a different social structure.

      And if a I recall well, you tend to present PTB as intelligent people, perhaps having a more than average IQ and such. I wouldn’t say they are smart, the just follow their own logic, which could be seen as particularly smart if watched from an amazed outsider’s point of view. But it’s not really brightfull. Moreover, these people mostly inherited their fortunes, so they are not even self made men.

      As I see, the “ultimate truth” you are referring to is since a hundred years ago they know we are FF dependent. I can’t see what in this sentence is a hidden thing or new. Entropy laws are even older than that, so scientists know this well before PTB. Of course geopolitics are driven by the control of energy flux and covered with a honorable coating. But, again, this is nothing new: see Machiavello, Nietzsche…

      I don’t really know how I can help you keep believing what you believe

      • Paul says:

        I don’t think the you get to be part of the PTB unless you are of course very wealthy – but you also need to be extremely cunning, and ruthless — as well as interested in running the world.

        There are plenty of men born into great fortunes who are not part of the PTB — because they don’t have the abilities required… or they have other interests e.g. Ferraris, super models, coke parties….

    • Christian says:

      I am not surprised Zero Hedge is running such a kind of stories as the one you mention. They fail to present the real LTG situation, only Gail does it. It seems they still have some hope for capitalism.

    • Christian says:

      In any case, people as Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs are far more brilliant than the names I’ve mentioned as PTB. I have a question for you. Why is it that computer science people didn’t entered PTB network? Tip: it’s not because they have high IQ’s and the others don’t

      • B9K9 says:

        I’ve actually raised this phenomenon many times: why are intelligent people routed into mechanical professions such as science, medicine, engineering, etc? That is, the so-called “productive” sectors of the economy, in essence, creating civilization.

        And why are legacy PTB, who are derived from the same DNA strains as the ancient pharaohs and money lenders, the ones who are per-screened for power & governance?

        Do you see how it’s an inside game, one that if you’re part of the 99% who used to be honest-to-doG serfs toiling in the fields before FFs, are not only NOT privy to, but are in fact conditioned & brainwashed to not consider and discover before it’s too late?

        Why is Gail, who by all appearances is a very nice person, an upstanding citizen and good wife/mother, just delving into the topics of resource scarcities over the last few years? Why isn’t she a long-term staffer on the National security council, sworn to absolute secrecy on the pain of 20 years in a Federal pen, or perhaps a poisoned dart in the middle of the night, for not keeping mum?

        The PTB may not be infallible, but they have institutional inertia on their side to keep these going, even if individual members ‘screw the pooch’. (Admirably, I know English is a second language for you, so you should google phrases – like Keystone cops – to get the full flavor.)

        But the one thing I think you’re really underestimating is the degree of force they are willing to use to maintain power & control. I said this many, many times: the absolute #1 prime directive is continuity of government. Savor that for a moment and consider what it means when the SHTF.

      • Paul says:

        Zuckerberg stole Facebook so I do not consider him brilliant…

        As for Jobs what exactly did he do that was revolutionary? It’s not like the iphone is fire… or the wheel…. and smart phones existed before the iphone… he was a great marketer I will give him that…

        • InAlaska says:

          The Macintosh was, and still is, considered revolutionary.

        • Jarle B says:

          Paul wrote:
          “Zuckerberg stole Facebook so I do not consider him brilliant…”

          Stolen or not, a lot of people could have made something like Facebook (the IT in what got popular is not complicated). Zuckerberg et al was “winners” in a lottery, thats it. And rembember, a thing beeing popular does not mean that the people behing is brilliant – think of “Dancing with the stars”…

          • Christian says:

            It’s true, Zuck is not brilliant (while he is not stupid, recently bought half an island in Hawaii “as a refuge for my family” he told to the press). Google guys should have been mentioned instead

          • Paul says:

            Someone else did invent facebook:

            They are known for co-founding HarvardConnection (later renamed ConnectU) along with Harvard classmate Divya Narendra. In 2004, the Winklevoss brothers sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for $65 million, claiming he stole their ConnectU idea to create the popular social networking site, Facebook.


            They got 65M as compensation for being ripped off…. of course there is a gag order on them — they are not allowed to speak about the case or assert that they were ripped off…

            • Jan Steinman says:

              Naw, I invented Faceplant in 1994 or so. I built a workgroup communication environment using a system called Smalltalk that allowed people to instant-message each other (Twitter-like) and to post comments on their “Transcript,” the equivalent of posting comments on a wall. It also provide automatic software download and update with version history. But I didn’t have any lawyers at the time. And still don’t. So I’ll let others fight over it. 🙂

    • InAlaska says:

      “What is means is that nice little conventions like civil liberties, and fine flowery words written centuries ago extolling the virtues of liberty, etc are expendable when it comes down to actual life & death.”

      The flaw in your argument is that those fine flowery words (the Declaration and the Constitution) extolling liberty were written nearly 100 years before the FF era began, when daily life was very much in doubt. There are some impulses in human nature that rise above the meanness of merely alleviating fear and discomfort otherwise we never would have had the civilizations that we had in the 10,000 years preceeding the commercial discovery of oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.

    • Paul says:

      B9 — the thing is….

      With regards to the nuclear issue… and why I have spent time researching it… is that I was trying to determine if it will be an extinction event — and I have concluded that it likely is….

      When BAU goes…. you are almost certainly not going to be around… nor is anyone else including the PTB

      The nuclear issue trumps everything else.

  40. Brunswickian says:

    My current fav quotes:

    “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

    – Albert Einstein

    “To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attend the unknown – the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any explanation is better than none… The cause-creating drive is thus conditioned and excited by the feeling of fear …”

    – Friedrich Nietzsche

    “Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds – justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.”

    – Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

    • Quitollis says:

      Judging by the movie, Lestat seems to be a Schopenhauerian pessimist, an aristocrat who is sick of the world of endless struggle, which he finds pointless and tasteless; he wills his own demise and he finds redemption only in art. Akasha only wills power. He kills her on ethical grounds and so overcomes his own will to death. It is personal redemption in art and ethics, Schopenhauer.

    • Brunswickian says:

      Yogananda said that which a powerful mind believes instantaneously manifests.

      I believe him.

      • Creedon says:

        That’s quite a statement. I’ll have to give it some thought. People have wanted to believe in world peace for eons. That doesn’t mean we have world peace. Don Stewart wants everyone to build up their soil, garden, exercise and live sustainably but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. A lot of people on this web site believe that billions of people will die over the next 50 years, but who knows.

        • Christian says:

          Or over the next 2 years. Who knows

        • BP says:

          There’s no point prognosticating on ‘when.’ Billions will die. There’s never going to be world peace. Having everyone build their soil and garden is not going to happen, either. You need access to land, which means being affluent by world standards, which is a fair picture for most (all?) of the posters on this board. Therefore, this is an exercise of the privileged few. The internal proletariat won’t be digging up asphalt or planting in Fenway Park any time soon. Then you have to contend with the discontented volkwanderung who will regard these isolated paradises with a covetous eye and desperate designs. Couple that with more extreme weather, and there’s no guarantee that preparing yourself will ensure survival. I’d say a healthy dollop of luck will be a big factor. Building a community and ingratiating yourself with future potential strongmen might help. I’d still encourage people to garden if they are privileged enough to have access to it. But it’s hard work. My wife’s parents are farmers and even with machine slaves, it’s hard work.

          I found David Jacke’s books on permaculture, the humanure handbook, John Jeavon’s book and the Toby Hemenway book helpful in putting gardening into practice. If you have land, installing a manual well pump would be good, too. Trying to create as much of a closed circle as possible is important – this entails eating what you grow and excreting it back into the soil, not selling it away or flushing a toilet.

          Relying on Toynbee, the PTB become a dominant minority when they cease being creative and fail to inspire mimesis. They adhere to the same responses that surmounted earlier challenges because they know of no other way. Tainter’s insight helps elucidate this failure due to diminishing returns. Because of social inertia, the sheeple won’t accept a leader who demands of them to consume less anyway. The irreconciable differences of promoting growth while consuming less implies that there are no solutions.

          Relatively recent industrial development, accompanied by ages of enlightenment and reason, paved the way for its handmaidens science and technology to create futurism – a doomed deterministic and totalitarian attempt to mold the world around a notion of progress.

          It remains to be seen whether nuclear waste will create mere dead zones or saturate the planet. Hoping BAU continues to stave off a nuclear crisis represents a catch 22 because the longer things continue, the more of these insane energy plants will be built and the worse the threat will be. Bettter to crash now, I think. Regardless, humans are in for a tough haul. I’m not sure if it’s more rational to prepare or just enjoy the moment, possibly committing suicide when things become unbearable. Whatever the case, there are so many converging challenges that the situation is largely out of our control.

          I’m not convinced Greer is right about the decent. Like most of his writing, he’s relying on Toynbee’s 3 1/2 step formulation of relapse and recovery, but even if this holds true (and it’s not universal – even Toynbee acknowledges this in his extensive survey), I’m not sure where along the trajectory this civilization exists. Moreover, the petroleum age arguably represents a distinct breach with the past, if not in kind, then in scale. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

          I’m not sure what to make of the human species, either. It’s loud, belligerent, arrogant, and undeserving, although it’s also capable of largesse and compassion. It’s a shame, with all it’s intellect, it could not conceive of thinking more long-term toward the ramifications of its actions. Perhaps this is hardwired. At the end of the day, things are becoming deterministic – a common outlook in a time of disintegration.

          Right now, I’m just planting trees – not on my father’s land – just where I happen to see a space. Maybe they’ll grow into beautiful nut trees (my personal favorite). I eat a lot of nuts, so why not give back? Or they might get cut down for firewood. It might be a lost cause, but I enjoy it. So f^$% it. I’m going to go on living my life.

          The internet is addictive. How much time do you spend on it? It might be time for everyone to take a break.

          The man who planted trees.

          • Stefeun says:

            Beautiful post, thanks BP.
            It’s all about our inability, despite our fabulous rational brain, to think as a whole species, inter-dependant with the whole biosphere and then to the cosmos, with limited space but infinite time. I think this was possible, but not allowed by those (us) who chose to burn as much as possible in order to impose their law, which is to burn ever more, to burn their own future.

            Also, these days are quite strange, witnessing the storm-clouds gathering in high numbers…

          • Creedon says:

            You are right, the internet is addictive, much more so than T.V. at this point and more relevant. As the oil age ends, we will have to deal with our addictions. No more internet, No more coffee, AAAAAAh!

          • Paul says:

            Well said.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            “The internet is addictive. How much time do you spend on it?”

            I have a budget. Today, Our Finite World is getting it. Mondays, it’s The Tyee.

            • Creedon says:

              How much time do you spend on the internet?
              In the great scheme of things the percentage of time is probably rather small, but since we tend to dwell on the same topics over and over and over it probably seems like too much. We live in a world of denial about peak oil so being part of a community that faces reality is I think important.

          • Lynton Davidson says:

            Good post BP.


          • InAlaska says:

            Well said, and thanks.
            I just bought Tainter’s book today at a used book store. Going to curl up in front of the fire and read it.

        • dolph says:

          With or without collapse, billions of people are going to die in the next 50 years.
          About 50 million people worldwide die every year. If death rates remain constant, that is about 500 million people per decade, about 25 billion people over 50 years.

          Of course, we will never reach that figure because before then the global population will peak as deaths begin to outnumber births.

          Believe it or not, it’s true. If you don’t believe this, let’s perform a little thought experiment. Let’s say everybody stops reproducing right now, and there are about 7 billion people living. That’s it, max. Now, let’s say that everybody reaches the age of 100. A stretch, considering that so many things can get a human being before then. But for the sake of argument, assume everybody is well fed, protected, given health care, etc. until finally something gets them at 100.

          Ok, well, you see where I’m going with this. In 100 years time (just 100 years!) 7 billion people would have died, and the human species would be extinct.

        • Brunswickian says:

          It all comes back to assumptions. If the nuts and bolts version of reality is true, Yogananda and myself have gone down a blind alley. There has to be some internal consistency otherwise there is no system integrity.

      • cytochromec says:

        Sounds kinda like narcissistic cornucopian mysticism.
        But, after 20,000 hours on the pillow, who am I to know?

    • Rien says:

      In short: People crave explanations, not truth.

  41. Rien says:

    Gravity lights: Sunlight -> Plants -> Food -> Digestion -> Mechanical energy -> Light
    The net efficiency of turning sunlight into light is way less than simply using PV imo.
    So neat? yes. Solution? no.

  42. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Here is another recommended link from the Origins initiative:


    I should mention that these links should work for a couple of days. The Doctor interviews Dr. Cabeca and Robin Nielsen, who I refer to as the ‘sexy twins’. It seems that more copulation is almost always the answer to life’s problems with these two.

    To the gist of some of the issues that are death with on this blog. During the first 10 minutes or so, they praise the Origins movie for refocusing attention on the elemental nature of life, and away from the distractions of Industrial Civilization. One of them says ‘what we really need to be happy is healthy food, shelter, and connection’, or something to that effect. Which relates to the question of whether the end of exponential growth of physical wealth necessarily means he end of civilization.

    Then you will get considerable discussion of some of the things I bring up from time to time, such as hormone balance.

    Don Stewart
    PS One of the amazing things to an elderly white guy is how young women just let it all hang out. ‘Five years ago my husband and I were going through a really hard time, etc.’ Back in my day, we didm’t talk about such things in public.

  43. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Here is a link to a fascinating interview about the future of the health care/ sick care business:


    You will be sitting in a bar drinking a beer and listening to two insiders talk about the business where the CEOs of insurance companies make tens of millions of dollars per year, while the doctors and nurses are embedded in a ‘plantation system’ and the patients are just ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’. These two guys are convinced that the current system is collapsing, and good riddance. It’s a ‘green technology revolution’ in some respects, in others its a reversion to traditional models. They draw parallels to what is happening with food. Right at the end, they address the issue of jobs. As you probably know, the ‘job growth’ in the US has consisted heavily of wait staff in restaurants and administrative overhead in the medical racket. As one of them says, ‘well, if people start eating healthy, then the Frito-Lay plants will have to start producing healthy food and the medical people will have to find new roles’. (Personally, I am considerably more skeptical than they are about people getting religion in terms of food. Old age does that to you.)

    This is part of the ‘back to our roots’ movie and related content.

    One observations by me. Back in 2009 the Obama administration and the Democratic Senators who were writing the Obamacare legislation explicitly rejected the notion of individual responsibility for health. They heard testimony (or, more accurately, did not show up for the testimony), and simply went on their way balancing the competing interest groups…none of whom were in favor of real prevention. Do you think any of these people might now have any regrets?

    Don Steewart

  44. Quitollis says:

    ‘DECADES of secular stagnation’

    The BBC news introduced this item by saying that we face “decades of slow growth… low interest rates but lower living standards… decades of so-called ‘secular stagnation’.” That is a pretty dramatic announcement.

    Our countries are economically knackered for the rest of our lifetimes. I expect political disintegration to progress under those circumstances.

    Various factors for secular stagnation were proposed including high debt and low confidence, ageing population etc… but not oil.

    Interview on this page:


    The BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston has been speaking to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane about how seriously he takes the risk of what Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary, calls “secular stagnation”.

    He said that there is a risk that long-term growth in the UK, and other developed economies, will be “soggier than it has been in the past”.


    • Creedon says:

      According to the ETP model the current oil age won’t last beyond 2030 to 2035, so at that point economic stagnation is over and the new dark age begins. The current culture will not look at the oil issue honestly because they are in denial. It just is not going to happen.

  45. Paul says:

    That the House of Fahd would engage in some sort of battle with US shale seems less likely; the Saudi rulers don’t fight the US that has protected them militarily for decades in the volatile region they’re in.

    If China does decelerate well below 7% in 2015, an oil price target in the $30 to $40 range is completely realistic.

    Based on data compiled from quarterly reports, for the year ending March 31, 2014, cash from operations for 127 major oil and natural gas companies totaled $568 billion, and major uses of cash totaled $677 billion, a difference of almost $110 billion.

    To fill this $110 billion hole that they’d dug in just one year, these 127 oil and gas companies went out and increased their net debt by $106 billion. But that wasn’t enough. To raise more cash, they also sold $73 billion in assets. It left them with more cash (borrowed cash, that is) on the balance sheet than before, which pleased analysts, and it left them with a pile of additional debt and fewer assets to generate revenues with in order to service this debt.

    It has been going on for years. During each of the last three years, the gap was over $100 billion.

    All the stimulus, all $50 trillion or so globally, has been thrown into the fire, and look at where we are. There’s nothing left, and there won’t be another $50 trillion. Sure, stock markets set records. But who cares with oil at $40?

    Calling for more QE, from Japan and/or Europe or even grandma Yellen, is either entirely useless or will work only to prop up stock markets for a very short time. Diminishing returns.

    The one word that comes to mind here is bloodbath. Well, unless China miraculously recovers. But who believes in that?


  46. Christian says:

    Mat, I saw you wrote something about Uruguay I didn’t understood.

    I believe Africa and Oceania are the only continents nuke free, but I could be wrong

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