BP Data Suggests We Are Reaching Peak Energy Demand

Some people talk about peak energy (or oil) supply. They expect high prices and more demand than supply. Other people talk about energy demand hitting a peak many years from now, perhaps when most of us have electric cars.

Neither of these views is correct. The real situation is that we right now seem to be reaching peak energy demand through low commodity prices. I see evidence of this in the historical energy data recently updated by BP (BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015).

Growth in world energy consumption is clearly slowing. In fact, growth in energy consumption was only 0.9% in 2014. This is far below the 2.3% growth we would expect, based on recent past patterns. In fact, energy consumption in 2012 and 2013 also grew at lower than the expected 2.3% growth rate (2012 – 1.4%; 2013 – 1.8%).

Figure 1- Resource consumption by part of the world. Canada etc. grouping also includes Norway, Australia, and South Africa. Based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 data.

Figure 1- Resource consumption by part of the world. Canada etc. grouping also includes Norway, Australia, and South Africa. F Soviet Union means Former Soviet Union. Middle East excludes Israel. Based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 data.

Recently, I wrote that economic growth eventually runs into limits. The symptoms we should expect are similar to the patterns we have been seeing recently (Why We Have an Oversupply of Almost Everything (Oil, labor, capital, etc.)). It seems to me that the patterns in BP’s new data are also of the kind that we would expect to be seeing, if we are hitting limits that are causing low commodity prices.

One of our underlying problems is that energy costs have risen faster than most workers’ wages since 2000. Another underlying problem has to do with globalization. Globalization provides a temporary benefit. In the last 20 years, we greatly ramped up globalization, but we are now losing the temporary benefit globalization brings. We find we again need to deal with the limits of a finite world and the constraints such a world places on growth.

Energy Consumption is Slowing in Many Parts of the World 

Many parts of the world are seeing slowing growth in energy consumption. One major example is China.

Figure 2. China's energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 2. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Based on recent patterns in China, we would expect fuel consumption to be increasing by about 7.5% per year. Instead, energy consumption has slowed, with growth amounting to 4.3% in 2012; 3.7% in 2013; and 2.6% in 2014. If China was recently the growth engine of the world, it is now sputtering.

Part of China’s problem is that some of the would-be buyers of its products are not growing. Europe is a well-known example of an area with economic problems. Its consumption of energy products has been slumping since 2006.

Figure 3. European Union Energy Consumption based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 Data.

Figure 3. European Union Energy Consumption based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 Data.

I have used the same scale (maximum = 3.5 billion metric tons of oil equivalent) on Figure 3 as I used on Figure 2 so that readers can easily compare the European’s Union’s energy consumption to that of China. When China was added to the World Trade Organization in December 2001, it used only about 60% as much energy as the European Union. In 2014, it used close to twice as much energy (1.85 times as much) as the European Union.

Another area with slumping energy demand is Japan. It consumption has been slumping since 2005. It was already well into a slump before its nuclear problems added to its other problems.

Figure 4. Japan energy consumption by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 4. Japan energy consumption by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

A third area with slumping demand is the Former Soviet Union (FSU). The two major countries within the FSU with slumping demand are Russia and Ukraine.

Figure 5. Former Soviet Union energy consumption by source, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy Data 2015.

Figure 5. Former Soviet Union energy consumption by source, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy Data 2015.

Of course, some of the recent slumping demand of Ukraine and Russia are intended–this is what US sanctions are about. Also, low oil prices hurt the buying power of Russia. This also contributes to its declining demand, and thus its consumption.

The United States is often portrayed as the bright ray of sunshine in a world with problems. Its energy consumption is not growing very briskly either.

Figure 6. United States energy consumption by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014.

Figure 6. United States energy consumption by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014.

To a significant extent, the US’s slowing energy consumption is intended–more fuel-efficient cars, more fuel-efficient lighting, and better insulation. But part of this reduction in the growth in energy consumption comes from outsourcing a portion of manufacturing to countries around the world, including China. Regardless of cause, and whether the result was intentional or not, the United States’ consumption is not growing very briskly. Figure 6 shows a small uptick in the US’s energy consumption since 2012. This doesn’t do much to offset slowing growth or outright declines in many other countries around the world.

Slowing Growth in Demand for Almost All Fuels

We can also look at world energy consumption by type of energy product. Here we find that growth in consumption slowed in 2014 for nearly all types of energy.

Figure 7. World energy consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 7. World energy consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Looking at oil separately (Figure 8), the data indicates that for the world in total, oil consumption grew by 0.8% in 2014. This is lower than in the previous three years (1.1%, 1.2%, and 1.1% growth rates).

Figure 8. Oil consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 8. Oil consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

If oil producers had planned for 2014 oil consumption based on the recent past growth in oil consumption growth, they would have overshot by about 1,484 million tons of oil equivalent (MTOE), or about 324,000 barrels per day. If this entire drop in oil consumption came in the second half of 2014, the overshoot would have been about 648,000 barrels per day during that period. Thus, the mismatch we have recently been seeing between oil consumption and supply appears to be partly related to falling demand, based on BP’s data.

(Note: The “oil” being discussed is inclusive of biofuels and natural gas liquids. I am using MTOE because MTOE puts all fuels on an energy equivalent basis. A barrel is a volume measure. Growth in barrels will be slightly different from that in MTOE because of the changing mix of liquid fuels.)

We can also look at oil consumption for the US, EU, and Japan, compared to all of the rest of the world.

Figure 9. Oil consumption divided between the (a) US, EU, and Japan, and (b) Rest of the World.

Figure 9. Oil consumption divided between the (a) US, EU, and Japan, and (b) Rest of the World.

While the rest of the world is still increasing its growth in oil consumption, its rate of increase is falling–from 2.3% in 2012, to 1.6% in 2013, to 1.3% in 2014.

Figure 10 showing world coal consumption is truly amazing. Huge growth in coal use took place as globalization spread. Carbon taxes in some countries (but not others) further tended to push manufacturing to coal-intensive manufacturing locations, such as China and India.

Figure 10. World coal consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 10. World coal consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Looking at the two parts of the world separately (Figure 11), we see that in the last three years, growth in coal consumption outside of US, EU, and Japan, has tapered down. This is similar to the result for world consumption of coal in total (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Coal consumption for the US, EU, and Japan separately from the Rest of the World, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data.

Figure 11. Coal consumption for the US, EU, and Japan separately from the Rest of the World, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data.

Another way of looking at fuels is in a chart that compares consumption of the various fuels side by side (Figure 12).

Figure 8. World energy consumption by fuel, showing each fuel separately, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 12. World energy consumption by fuel, showing each fuel separately, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Consumption of oil, coal and natural gas are all moving on tracks that are in some sense parallel. In fact, coal and natural gas consumption have recently tapered more than oil consumption. World oil consumption grew by 0.8% in 2014; coal and natural gas consumption each grew by 0.4% in 2014.

The other three fuels are smaller. Hydroelectric had relatively slow growth in 2014. Its growth was only 2.0%, compared to a recent average of as much as 3.5%. Even with this slow growth, it raised hydroelectric energy consumption to 6.8% of world energy supply.

Nuclear electricity grew by 1.8%. This is actually a fairly large percentage gain compared to the recent shrinkage that has been taking place.

Other renewables continued to grow, but not as rapidly as in the past. The growth rate of this grouping was 12.0%, (compared to 22.4% in 2011, 18.1% in 2012, 16.5% in 2013). With the falling percentage growth rate, growth is more or less “linear”–similar amounts were added each year, rather than similar percentages. With recent growth, other renewables amounted to 2.5% of total world energy consumption in 2014.

Falling Consumption Is What We Would Expect with Lower Inflation-Adjusted Prices

People buy goods that they want or need, with one caveat: they don’t buy what they cannot afford. To a significant extent affordability is based on wages (or income levels for governments or businesses). It can also reflect the availability of credit.

We know that commodity prices of many kinds (energy, food, metals of many kinds) have generally been falling, on an inflation adjusted basis, for the past four years. Figure 13 shows a graph prepared by the International Monetary Fund of trends in commodity prices.

Figure 9. Charts prepared by the IMF showing trends in indices of primary commodity prices.

Figure 13. Charts prepared by the IMF showing trends in indices of primary commodity prices.

It stands to reason that if prices of commodities are low, while the general trend in the cost of producing these commodities is upward, there will be erosion in the amount of these products that can be profitably produced, and hence, that can be purchased. (This occurs because prices are falling relative to the cost of producing the goods.) If, prior to the drop in prices, consumption of the commodity had been growing rapidly, lower prices are likely to lead to a slower rate of consumption growth. If prices drop further or stay depressed, an absolute drop in consumption may occur.

It seems to me that the lower commodity prices we have been seeing over the past four years (with a recent sharper drop for oil), likely reflect an affordability problem. This affordability problem arises because for most people, wages did not rise when energy prices rose, and the prices of commodities in general rose in the early 2000s.

For a while, the lack of affordability could be masked with a variety of programs: economic stimulus, increasing debt and Quantitative Easing. Eventually these programs reach their limits, and prices begin falling in inflation-adjusted terms. Now we are at a point where prices of oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium are all low in inflation-adjusted terms, discouraging further investment.

Commodity Exporters–Will They Be Next to Be Hit with Lower Consumption?

If the price of a commodity, say oil, is low, this is a problem for a country that exports the commodity. The big issue is likely to be tax revenue. Governments very often get a major share of their tax revenue from taxing the profits of the companies that sell the commodities, such as oil. If the price of oil or other commodity that is exported drops, then it will be difficult for the government to collect enough tax revenue. There may be other effects as well. The company producing the commodity may cut back its production. If this happens, the exporting country is faced with another problem–laid-off workers without jobs. This adds a second need for revenue: to pay benefits to laid-off workers.

Many oil exporters currently subsidize energy and food products for their citizens. If tax revenue is low, the amount of these subsidies is likely to be reduced. With lower subsidies, citizens will buy less, reducing world demand. This reduction in demand will tend to reduce world oil (or other commodity) prices.

Even if subsidies are not involved, lower tax revenue will very often affect the projects an oil exporter can undertake. These projects might include building roads, schools, or hospitals. With fewer projects, world demand for oil and other commodities tends to drop.

The concern I have now is that with low oil prices, and low prices of other commodities, a number of countries will have to cut back their programs, in order to balance government budgets. If this happens, the effect on the world economy could be quite large. To get an idea how large it might be, let’s look again at Figure 1, recopied below.

Notice that the three “layers” in the middle are all countries whose economies are fairly closely tied to commodity exports. Arguably I could have included more countries in this category–for example, other OPEC countries could be included in this grouping. These countries are now in the “Rest of the World” category. Adding more countries to this category would make the portion of world consumption tied to countries depending on commodity exports even greater.

Figure 1- Resource consumption by part of the world. Canada etc. grouping also includes Norway, Australia, and South Africa. Based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 data.

Figure 1- Resource consumption by part of the world. Canada etc. groupng also includes Norway, Australia, and South Africa. F Soviet Union means Former Soviet Union. Middle East excludes Israel. Based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 data.

My concern is that low commodity prices will prove to be self-perpetuating, because low commodity prices will adversely affect commodity exporters. As these countries try to fix their own problems, their own demand for commodities will drop, and this will affect world commodity prices. The total amount of commodities used by exporters is quite large. It is even larger when oil is considered by itself (see Figure 8 above).

In my view, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 occurred indirectly as a result of low oil prices in the late 1980s. A person can see from Figure 1 how much the energy consumption of the Former Soviet Union fell after 1991. Of course, in such a situation exports may fall more than consumption, leading to a rise in oil prices. Ultimately, the issue becomes whether a world economy can adapt to falling oil supply, caused by the collapse of some oil exporters.

Our World Economy Has No Reverse Gear

None of the issues I raise would be a problem, if our economy had a reverse gear–in other words, if it could shrink as well as grow. There are a number of things that go wrong if an economy tries to shrink:

  • Businesses find themselves with more factories than they need. They need to lay off workers and sell buildings. Profits are likely to fall. Loan covenants may be breached. There is little incentive to invest in new factories or stores.
  • There are fewer jobs available, in comparison to the number of available workers. Many drop out of the labor force or become unemployed. Wages of non-elite workers tend to stagnate, reflecting the oversupply situation.
  • The government finds it necessary to pay more benefits to the unemployed. At the same time, the government’s ability to collect taxes falls, because of the poor condition of businesses and workers.
  • Businesses in poor financial condition and workers who have been laid off tend to default on loans. This tends to put banks into poor financial condition.
  • The number of elderly and disabled tends to grow, even as the working population stagnates or falls, making the funding of pensions increasingly difficult.
  • Resale prices of homes tend to drop because there are not enough buyers.

Many have focused on a single problem area–for example, the requirement that interest be paid on debt–as being the problem preventing the economy from shrinking. It seems to me that this is not the only issue. The problem is much more fundamental. We live in a networked economy; a networked economy has only two directions available to it: (1) growth and (2) recession, which can lead to collapse.


What we seem to be seeing is an end to the boost that globalization gave to the world economy. Thus, world economic growth is slowing, and because of this slowed economic growth, demand for energy products is slowing. This globalization was encouraged by the Kyoto Protocol (1997). The protocol aimed to reduce carbon emissions, but because it inadvertently encouraged globalization, it tended to have the opposite effect. Adding China to the World Trade Organization in 2001 further encouraged globalization. CO2 emissions tended to grow more rapidly after those dates.

Figure 14. World CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 14. World CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Now growth in fuel use is slowing around the world. Virtually all types of fuel are affected, as are many parts of the world. The slowing growth is associated with low fuel prices, and thus slowing demand for fuel. This is what we would expect, if the world is running into affordability problems, ultimately related to fuel prices rising faster than wages.

Globalization brings huge advantages, in the form of access to cheap energy products still in the ground. From the point of view of businesses, there is also the possibility of access to cheap labor and access to new markets for selling their goods. For long-industrialized countries, globalization also represents a workaround to inadequate local energy supplies.

The one problem with globalization is that it is not a permanent solution. This happens for several reasons:

  • A great deal of debt is needed for the new operations. At some point, this debt starts reaching limits.
  • Diminishing returns leads to higher cost of energy products. For example, later coal may need to come from more distant locations, adding to costs.
  • Wages in the newly globalized area tend to rise, negating some of the initial benefit of low wages.
  • Wages of workers in the area developed prior to globalization tend to fall because of competition with workers from parts of the world getting lower pay.
  • Pollution becomes an increasing problem in the newly globalized part of the world. China is especially concerned about this problem.
  • Eventually, more than enough factory space is built, and more than enough housing is built.
  • Demand for energy products (in terms of what workers around the world can afford) cannot keep up with production, in part because wages of many workers lag thanks to competition with low-paid workers in less-advanced countries.

It seems to me that we are reaching the limits of globalization now. This is why prices of commodities have fallen. With falling prices comes lower production and hence lower total consumption. Many economies are gradually moving into recession–this is what the low prices and falling rates of energy growth really mean.

It is quite possible that at some point in the not too distant future, demand (and prices) will fall further. We then will be dealing with severe worldwide recession.

In my view, low prices and low demand for commodities are what we should expect, as we reach limits of a finite world. There is widespread belief that as we reach limits, prices will rise, and energy products will become scarce. I don’t think that this combination can happen for very long in a networked economy. High energy prices tend to lead to recession, bringing down prices. Low wages and slow growth in debt also tend to bring down prices. A networked economy can work in ways that does not match our intuition; this is why many researchers fail to see understand the nature of the problem we are facing.

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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1,227 Responses to BP Data Suggests We Are Reaching Peak Energy Demand

  1. pattytell says:

    We need to contemplate the whole issue.The solution is to limit the use of energy. But it is harder to do than say. Who would not want a nice car and an Air Conditioner installed at home.

    • Limiting energy use is also limiting jobs that people can have. It ends to pull prices of energy products down, and ultimately the whole economy down. I am not convinced that it is a solution to anything.

      Lower energy use is admittedly where we are headed. In fact, if the system “breaks”, energy use may be close to zero.

      • “Limiting energy use is also limiting jobs that people can have.”

        Does it matter what jobs people have? Obviously, to some extent. But do people need to drive an hour each way, alone, in a two tonne car to a job? Could people be employed for a lower total amount of money, while making an equal or larger net, without consuming as much energy?

        I think there is a big difference between “productive” and “consumptive” energy, just as there is with productive and consumptive money and debt. Just like the difference between borrowing money to buy tools to increase your productivity, versus borrowing money to go on a cruise.

        • Daddio7 says:

          People commute for many reasons. Higher pay is the first. Half the people in my county drive 30 to 50 miles one way to earn $2 more an hour and work full time. Rent is lower away from the cities also. Then there are personal reasons. My niece recently got married. They could have bought a town house 15 minutes from his work but she has to see her mother every day. My sister in law visits her mother 30 miles away almost every day. The amount of gasoline these women use visiting each other is sickening.

          • “Half the people in my county drive 30 to 50 miles one way to earn $2 more an hour and work full time.”

            If you take into account increased wear and vehicle maintenance along with the gasoline, that $2 /hr is probably lost; the commute and $2 raise may be netting out to a $1/ hour loss, plus wasting over an hour a day in a car. So sad.

            • Daddio7 says:

              Your life must be nice. Here you have to have a car anyway. Most people have to drive ten miles to buy food or get to a part time minimum wage job at a connivance store. A good used car is about $3000. Driving time is irrelevant, getting to a low paying job quicker wont put more money in your pocket.

          • There is also the problem with spouses having jobs in different directions, and schools or athletic activities being in different directions yet. No matter how carefully you choose a location to live, things seem to change to make that location not work as well as before. We live on the edge of the university where my husband teaches, so my husband can and does walk to work. Recently, the state merged that university with a smaller university ten miles away, to save on overhead expenses. My husband will have to move his office and his teaching to the other campus in August. It is this kind of thing that messes up the best-laid plans.

            • MG says:

              The drastic changes in the “energy flows” (i.e. employment of the spouses) are, in my opinion, among the top reasons why todays young peoples’ marriages fail. Recently, I have heard about the case in my distant family when the only child of the parents married a man and moved from a village to the city where her husband lived. She had a good paid work there. They have one son. But, as her parents grow old, and their pensions are low, she has found the work closer to her native village and her parents home. Now, due to the big distances and ensuing disagreaments between the spouses, the marriage is breaking.

              This is the final result of family size reduction and pensions going down in the world with less and less cheap energy: the implosion of the family.

        • John Doyle says:

          You could say Productive is old hat. Society has moved to consumption, wholesale. It is the end game for our civilization.

        • High-priced energy does’t make the current economy work, so while its investment looks productive, it really is consumptive. Most people haven’t figured this out.

  2. JAP says:

    Michael Jones. It seems obvious to me that you come to this site to play. FE has made a big mistake by trying to point out to you your fallacious thinking, an attempt to which you are impervious. You’ve answered nothing and don’t intend to do anything but play and make juvenile remarks.
    The site Host, for some reason, tolerates this pathetic display.. Personally, if I see your name on this site again, I have no intention of wasting my time here any longer.

  3. doomphd says:

    “As far as the pick up truck is concerned, did it grow their food for them?”

    Depends on what he was doing with it. If SN was hauling seed, cement or manure, he was using FF and BAU to assist his organic ways. Even if he was just hauling his own home-made cow manure from point A (barn) to point B (garden), he was using FF (portable power) and BAU (ICE truck) to assist his efforts.

    SN = Scott Nearing
    ICE = internal combustion engine

    • Michael Jones says:

      He used a wheel barrel to haul sea weed from the ocean cove they lived on in Harborside, Maine. That was placed in the compost pile along with other organic matter plus minerals from shell on the shore.
      His advice in the Bullfrog film feature was to build up top soil with every particle that you can get your hands on. Of course, they refuse to use blood meal.
      As I pointed out many times before that has fell on deaf ears, they would have easily adapted without a truck. As a matter of fact, in Vermont he actually used a neighbors draft horse to break the soil in the garden initially. Please there are photos that show this as fact. Along with horses in the forest helping them with their chores.
      You all are just hecklers as far as I am concerned

      • eARTH says:

        “Of course, they refuse to use blood meal.”

        I wonder whether it would be viable upon global collapse, when nations are thrown into eco-war, for a country to enrich the soil with the blood and bones of its enemies (blood and bone meal).

        I mean, what would it do for the soil of England were 50 million French corpses ground and added to the soil of Anglia? Would that be the most feasible, even the only way to replenish the soil?

        Would that be the only way to avoid both England and France from starvng together? Could it be the only rational and “moral” precipitation?

        Seriously though, if tens of millions of us are going to die more or less together, might it be better that we be prepared as meal for the farms rather than burnt or buried? Would it otherwise be inhumanitarian and wreckless to deprive of proper utility such precious nitrogen and phospherous machines?

        Should we construct slaughterhouses in preparation for the purpose? OF course the governments could never do that because it would be a public admission that BAU is ending and it would precipitate the collapse. Likely the Church would also promote its objections.

        – I doubt that many people will have scruples about blood meal from animals come the collapse and mass starvation. I certainly have no objection to meal.

        • Artleads says:

          John Jeavons (of biointensive minifarming fame) talks about burying the dead as part of soil fertility. He didn’t mention killing them, though.

        • doomphd says:

          I smell the blood of an Englishman,
          Be he alive, or be he dead
          I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

          –Joseph Jacobs, Jack and the Beanstalk, 1890

          Also, in most mass die-offs, the survivors are too weak or sick to care much for the dead. In Hawaii during smallpox epidemics, it was all they could do to drag the bodies to the beach where they were buried in shallow graves. I guess sand was easier to dig.

          Of course, another practical approach was depicted in the movie “Soylent Green”.

    • A(n older, carbureted) Gasoline ICE can be modded to run on wood gas, so if you had enough land, you could use a wood lot to power all your ICE equipment. As for replacement parts and new machines, without coal, the amount of charcoal needed to make a pickup truck would be atrocious, but maybe viable.

      Otherwise, its back to manpower and horsepower.

  4. MG says:

    Sometimes this “bankster” view of the banking system reminds me the view the masses had about the Jews before the WWII: they are responsible for our poverty, they lend us money and have concentrated a lot of wealth via usury…

    In our times, the electronic banking system is not a paper money creation and storage room anymore. It is rather an electronic system for measuring returns. The diminishing returns. The rejection of the “banksters” is rather the rejection of the harsh numbers about our own fate. Turn off the computers and there is nothing. No loans, no debt, no deposits. Only the naked truth that those who has built new houses using mortgages or bought new appliances using consumer loans MUST WORK, otherwise the system stops and they have nothing to eat or no natural gas to heat their houses during the cold days.

    The slaves become more and more the only force that keeps the system going. Without the slavery of the debt, the system collapses, as there would be no one who would be forced e.g. harvest the corn using leased machines.

    The debt keeps the system functioning when the energy becomes costly. The mechanism of its working is creating the need for money: with the billions of the people who need to buy the food in the stores, the task is very easy. The problem arises when we have more and more people who make no contribution to increasing the food production or the fuel production and the diminishing returns continue lowerting the income of the productive workers. Finally, there is no motivation to work for those who are not able provide anything in return.

    This way, the banking system is the god of all systems. Because the banking system is the tool for measuring the returns within the system and keeping the energy flows functioning. It is more important than the government: the state can function witout the government, but not without the banking system.

    As the Modern monetary theory says, the governments are in fact banking systems, as they lend money via its creation and recieve it via taxes. When the government mostly or only creates money, but receives little or nothing, or the amount of the returned money is diminishing, it means that the government has no control over the energy flows or there are no returns for maintaining the existing infrustructure for channeling the energy in the form of taxes and subsequent state expenditures e.g. into maintenance of the roads etc. This situation means that the system consumes itself, i.e. implodes.

    • edpell says:

      I agree with the bottom 90% of your post.

      Who would you say owns the BIS? I think “bankers” is just polite modern speak for “Jews” or at least “Big Jews”. There are of course plenty of Jewish dentists who are not a factor in international finance.

      • MG says:

        Regarding the Greeks, there is one important thing I would like to stress:



        Yes, they are the world leader as regards the number of cigarettes per adult per year. What does it mean? When somebody with low intellectual capacity reaches the limits of his or her intellectual capacity, he or she needs some stimulus for his or her brain. The tobacco is one of them. And so he or she lights up a cigarette.

        The intellectual abilities of the Greeks are weak, that is why they voted for No and rejoiced about the outcome. The percentages for both males and females smoking any tobacco product are very high in Greece.

        But they are finished as regards the expectations for better future. They have neither cheap energy, nor intellectual capital. They have little to offer.

        • MG says:

          As regards the Jews, Jesus Christ was Jew. He knew that the sins (the debt) need absolvation. That the demand for absolution of sins is higher and higher as the human population expands. That the humankind goes into the debt and needs another world, an afterworld. From this point of view, the Jews understood the nature of the debt very well.
          It does not matter whether somebody is Jew, Christian, Muslim or Buddhist etc., the whole human race is subjected to the need for absolvation and another world.

        • John Doyle says:

          Man, you draw a long bow!! 60 % of males smoked back two generations ago. It’s no way a reflection on Greeks that many still smoke . Here the government has actively promoted a no smoking campaign. Clearly that hasn’t happened in Asia or Greece. That’s all. As for the jews, the less aid the better! Your conclusions are also scandalous.

          • MG says:

            “60 % of males smoked back two generations ago.” That confirms the need for stimulating the intellectual capacity.


            “In high concentrations nicotine acts as a nerve poison and it is used in insecticides. However, in small amounts, nicotine is a stimulant that enhances brain activity and concentration and improves cognitive processing as well as a person’s memory. On the downside, nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate, causes you to breathe faster and less deeply and it constricts the arteries.”

            My view about the low intellectual capacity comes from the fact the the Greek civilization had its highs in the past. This “low intellectual capacity” must be understood in relation to the past and to other nations that lead the world today.

            • John Doyle says:

              Being overtly racist is of no import to you?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              What would it take to stop you from posting your senseless drivel on here? If I say that Scott Nearing was a saint will you go?

            • John Doyle says:

              You are really clueless, aren’t you? You are “Drivel Central” You don’t even have the courage to use your real name! Because you thrive on mostly senseless time wasting and nonsense rubbish, you have to hide behind a fake identity! What a brave man !! Not. Lets reverse your question and say what would stop you from polluting this otherwise great blog? Just do it. You don’t contribute enough to be worthwhile spending the time. And you never learn. You just repeat your nostrums endlessly.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Tell us again how 2+2 = 7… come on… it’s so entertaining!

            • MG says:

              Dear John Doyle,

              please, refrain from false accusations of racism. I am just pointing to the implications of tobacco consumption. It is a matter of fact that heavy smoking destroys the brain. And it is clear to everybody that populations in the regions with the depleted resources are prone to drug abuse.

              If you want another “racist opinion” from me, o.k., here it is:

              Due to the climate change, the races with the darker skin (i.e. more immune to damage by the sun) will survive.

              Few weeks ago, I visited the funeral of my former schoolmate. Guess what was the reason of his death: he was a pale skin type with freckles – died of skin cancer, when his birthmark started to grow…


        • I don’t think that is a good interpretation. I am not willing to say the intellectual abilities of the Greeks are weak–I have a Greek sister-in-law, if nothing else. Smarter is not the issue. Lack of cheap energy is.

          • MG says:

            I was just pointing out to the fact of drug abuse and its long term effects. I am a Slovak, and besides a lot of smart Slovaks, there are clearly regions, where the system is on the decline due to the lack of the cheap energy and the drug abuse for the decades/generations caused that the population in these regions is affected.

            There are regions in Slovaka, where the people get terribly drunk and the alcohol abuse causes degeneration. That means these regions are simply doomed. That is why I am quite sceptical about the intellectual levels of the populations which overuse drugs like alcohol or smoking because I am writing based on my experience. The long term consumption has got clear long term effects.

            According to the WHO statistics, the highest level of alcohol consumption is in the Central and Eastern Europe. Slovakia being in the epicentre of alcoholism:


            Some use drugs for enhancing intellectual abilities, others for creating alternative worlds.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear MG
              You were talking a few posts ago about the collapse of some parts of Slovak culture. I happened to read Capra and Luisi yesterday on The Dynamics of Culture. A few quotes, then I will venture a few opinions and guesses.

              ‘Our ability to hold mental images and project them into the future not only allows us to identify goals and purposes and develop strategies and designs; it also enables us to choose among several alternatives and hence to formulate values and social rules of behavior…All of these social phenomena are generated by networks of communications as a consequence of the dual role of human communications. On the one hand, the network continually generates mental images, thoughts, and meaning; on the other hand, it continually coordinates the behavior of its members.

              We discover that culture arises from a complex, highly nonlinear dynamics. It is created by a social network involving multiple feedback loops through which values, beliefs, and rules of conduct are continually communicated, modified, and sustained. It emerges from a network of communications among individuals; and as it emerges it produces constraints on their actions.

              The social network also produces a shared body of knowledge–including information, skills, and ideas–that shapes the culture’s distinctive way of life in addition to its values and beliefs’.

              My observations and comments:
              *People who are ‘surplus’ don’t have any role to fit into. Therefore, we might expect them to behave in socially and personally destructive ways.
              *If a person is deemed ‘surplus’ by his neighbors, then they are likely to exclude him from whatever culture exists. Nobody depends upon him, and nobody cares about him.
              *All of Capra and Luisi’s descriptions implicitly assume that a culture is vitally concerned about producing the necessities of life. If you have a culture which has outsourced production to Asia and other places and is living on debt and handouts, then there is no obvious organizing principle around which the culture can form.
              *Retired people who do not have grandchildren to take care of, and are no longer working, and are not involved in volunteer activities, are likely to be as dysfunctional as young people who are unemployed and unemployable.

              I listened to the discussion on the Doomstead Diner with Bardi and Steve from Virginia and Gale today. I heard bitter comments about how the actual production of goods has disappeared from southern Europe. From what you have said, I gather it is also getting scarce in eastern Europe. Somebody commented that the Baltic states have exported all their young people. In such circumstances, I would expect a collapse of culture and bad behavior.

              Reverse Engineer closed the discussion by asking the panel to come up with some optimistic visions of the future. I wasn’t impressed. So if our best and brightest have nothing to suggest in terms of ‘Our ability to hold mental images and project them into the future not only allows us to identify goals and purposes and develop strategies and designs; it also enables us to choose among several alternatives and hence to formulate values and social rules of behavior’, then we can expect more dysfunction and bad behavior everywhere.

              Don Stewart

            • When it becomes apparent that there is no solution, then people turn to ways to forget their problems. The whole economy becomes more and more dysfunctional.

            • MG says:

              New data about the alcohol consumption among the children in my region has just been published. The Czech children top the list at underage drinking, according to OECD:


            • Don Stewart says:

              The internet frequently throws some rather comical stuff together. On the page speaking about the horrors of selling alcohol to teenagers, we also get this story in a side bar:


              So…let me get this straight. If you started drinking heavily at the age of 10, and get diabetes in middle age, and consequently suffer from erectile dysfunction, you can still satisfy your wife by drinking some properly aged Moravian wine.

              Don Stewart

      • Let us get away from these kinds of comments about Jews. Let’s leave it with Bankers, of whatever background.

    • MG says:

      When the income from the taxes falls, the situation for the governments becomes increasingly difficult, as Gail points out. In Slovakia, the state introduced the tax licences for companies, i.e. every company must pay a minimum tax, regardless its profit or loss:


    • Fast Eddy says:

      Worth reading … note this was penned by a prominent American Jew http://jahtruth.net/freedman.htm

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    China rolls out emergency measures to prevent stock market crash


    Greeks defy Europe with overwhelming referendum ‘No’

    ATHENS – Greeks voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to reject terms of a bailout, risking financial ruin in a show of defiance that could splinter Europe.


    What sort of Black Swans might these events give birth to?

    • “What sort of Black Swans might these events give birth to?”

      Black Swans are the surprise shocks no one expects. These are just the shocks we can see. Also, Puerto Rico is pretty hosed. By January 2016, a lot of Canadian banks and credit unions could be in serious trouble, with the collapse in employment in Alberta popping the housing bubble and people run out of credit to service their mortgages. The entire Pacific Northwest into the prairies are under drought and having wildfires and extreme temperatures – Walla Walla Washington at 45 Celsius.

      Plenty of known shocks coming, without the things people believe are impossible.

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    “The mindset that led to the predicament needs to change. The original mindset won’t do.”

    The way the world works — and how it always will:

    – The luckiest, fittest, smartest, with the capability for ruthlessness survive – always have – always will

    – Resources are finite and therefore ownership is a zero sum game

    – The strong always take from the weak – if they do not then that is a sign of weakness and a competitor will take from the weak and will usurp the formerly strong dropping them into weakling status

    – Humans tend to group by clan or on a broader basis by nationality (strength in numbers bonded by culture) and they compete with others for resources

    – Competition always exist (I want it all!) but it becomes fiercer when resources are not sufficient to support competing clans or nations

    – Tribal societies understand these dynamics because they cannot go to the grocery store for their food – so they are intimately aware of the daily battle to feed themselves and the competition for scare land and resources

    – Modern affluent societies do not recognize this dynamic because for them resources are not scarce – they have more than enough.

    – One of the main reasons that resources are not scarce in affluent societies is because they won the battle of the fittest (I would argue that luck is the precursor to all other advantages – affluent societies did not get that way because they started out smarter — rather they were lucky – and they parlayed that luck into advances in technology… including better war machines)

    – As we have observed throughout history the strong always trample the weak. Always. History has always been a battle to take more in the zero sum game. The goal is to take all if possible (if you end up in the gutter eating grass the response has been – better you than me – because I know you’d do the same to me)

    – And history demonstrates that the weak – given the opportunity – would turn the tables on the strong in a heartbeat. If they could they would beat the strong into submission and leave them bleeding in the streets and starving. As we see empire after empire after empire gets overthrown and a new power takes over. Was the US happy to share with Russia and vice versa? What about France and England? Nope. They wanted it all.

    – Many of us (including me) in the cushy western world appear not to understand what a villager in Somalia does – that our cushy lives are only possible because our leaders have recognized that the world is not a fair place — Koobaya Syndrome has no place in this world — Koombaya will get you a bullet in the back — or a one way trip to the slum.

    – Religious movements have attempted to change the course of human nature — telling us to share and get along — they have failed 100% – as expected. By rights we should be living in communes — Jesus was a communist was he not? We all know that this would never work. Because we want more. We want it all.

    – But in spite of our hypocrisy, we still have this mythical belief that mankind is capable of good – that we make mistakes along the way (a few genocides here, a few there… in order to steal the resources of an entire content so we can live the lives we live) — ultimately we believe we are flawed but decent. We are not. Absolutely not.

    – But our leaders — who see through this matrix of bullshit — realize that our cushy lives are based on us getting as much of the zero sum game as possible. That if they gave in to this wishy washy Koombaya BS we would all be living like Somalians.

    – Of course they cannot tell us what I am explaining here — that we must act ruthlessly because if we don’t someone else will — and that will be the end of our cushy lives. Because we are ‘moral’ — we believe we are decent – that if we could all get along and share and sing Koombaya the world would be wonderful. We do not accept their evil premises.

    – So they must lie to us. They must use propaganda to get us onside when they commit their acts of ruthlessness.

    – They cannot say: we are going to invade Iraq to ensure their oil is available so as to keep BAU operating (BAU which is our platform for global domination). The masses would rise against that making things difficult for the PTB who are only trying their best to ensure the hypocrites have their cushy lives and 3 buck gas (and of course so that the PTB continue to be able to afford their caviar and champagne) …. Because they know if the hypocrites had to pay more or took at lifestyle hit – they’d be seriously pissed off (and nobody wants to be a Somalian)

    – Which raises the question — are we fools for attacking the PTB when they attempt to throw out Putin and put in a stooge who will be willing to screw the Russian people so that we can continue to live large? When we know full well that Putin would do the same to us — and if not him someone more ruthless would come along and we’d be Somalians.

    – Should we be protesting and making it more difficult for our leaders to make sure we get to continue to lead our cushy lives? Or should we be following the example of the Spartans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZeYVIWz99I

    – In a nutshell are our interests as part of the western culture not completely in line with those of our leaders – i.e. if they fail we fail – if they succeed we succeed.

    – Lee Kuan Yew is famous for saying ‘yes I will eat very well but if I do so will you’ Why bite the hand that whips the weak to make sure you eat well…. If you bite it too hard it cannot whip the weak — making you the weak — meaning you get to feel the whip….

    – Nation… clan … individual…. The zero sum game plays out amongst nations first … but as resources become more scarce the battle comes closer to home with clans battling for what remains…. Eventually it is brother against brother ….

    – As the PTB run out of outsiders to whip and rob…. They turn on their own…. As we are seeing they have no problem with destroying the middle class because it means more for them… and when the weak rise against them they have no problem at all deploying the violent tactics that they have used against the weak across the world who have attempted to resist them

    – Eventually of course they will turn against each other…. Henry Kissinger and Maddy Albright bashing each other over the head with hammers fighting over a can of spam – how precious!

  7. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders

    One of the recommendations of the MacArthur Foundation is the adoption of AgroEcology in food production. AgroEcology uses little or no pesticides and industrial fertilizers. Here is an interesting article from Kurt Cobb which describes a European study of the high rates of cancer observed in lab rats. Lab rats are fed a carcinogenic diet, even when they are in the ‘control group’. Therefore, when observing the difference between the control group and the experimental group, it becomes more difficult to statistically identify the particular effect of the industrial chemical or genetically engineered plant.


    Don Stewart

  8. Stefeun says:

    The economic and financial chaos of last week in greece was deliberately organized by the ECB, who unilaterally decided to stop Greece’s access to Target2, the interbank payment system within Eurozone.

    The Greeks had therefore to make do with the money, the products and the food that were already inside the country before access to Target2 was cut. Very few, as one can easily imagine.
    What I hardly understand is why the greek government has not immediately implemented a parallel temporary payment system, to avoid a full stop of their economy.

    Let’s hope that Greece can start importing very soon again, otherwise money will be worthless there, as there won’t be anymore stuff to buy with it.
    ECB playing with the fire…

    AEP has noticed it, but didn’t denounce it very strongly:
    I let you google for other -rare- sources about this Target2 story/scandal/ignominy.

    • Stefeun says:

      AEP again:
      “If necessary, we will issue parallel liquidity and California-style IOU’s, in an electronic form. We should have done it a week ago,” said Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister.

      They seem to be waiting for the decisions (esp. ECB’s and Merkel’s) after today’s meetings, to launch IOU system or not. If ever they have to, it would be a big -forced- step towards Grexit, and the start of a process with unknown consequences.

      • John Doyle says:

        Here is today’s comment from a proper economist, Bill Mitchell. Anyone interested in economics should follow his blog. You’ll soon see why it’s recommended!

        • Stefeun says:

          Great discussion on the Collapse Café where RE invited Gail, Ugo Bardi and Steve Ludlum to talk about the Greek OXI and help replace what happens there in a broader frame:

          • Artleads says:

            Thanks. Stimulating. I take issue with RE’s negating of Gail’s ignite suggestion. (Not that I know anything.) Just going on elementary logic…

            Lignite seems to be among the more abundant and clean-ish forms of energy. Presumably, the infrastructure costs around its production are less than that for oil/gas? RE mentions the CO2-increase consequences of lignite consumption. BUT, as Tainter points out, more energy (wealth) will be needed to address the enormous and terminal CO2 problems we already have. Why would “cheap” lignite not be the solution to this?


            Otherwise, how do you hope to ever take CO2 out of the atmosphere? Anything else will kill complex life on the planet.

            What I can’t buy is the production of atmospheric CO2 that has no purpose–as when the panelist talks about cars. Cars are needed for the economy because of unnecessary land use decisions. While cars produce jobs to build and repair them, I don’t see why the same jobs can’t be supplied by building something else that had more systemic value.

            On a related topic: I don’t know what number of trees will remove what portion of CO2 while producing what number of jobs, but somebody ought to look into it

            • Fast Eddy says:

              “Lignite seems to be among the more abundant and clean-ish forms of energy.”

              Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft brown combustible sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content.


              Clean-ish compared to what?

            • I don’t think I have ever heard lignite described as clean.

        • Stefeun says:

          Another very interesting point of view:

          “Thomas Piketty: “Germany has never repaid.”

          In a forceful interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, the star economist Thomas Piketty calls for a major conference on debt. Germany, in particular, should not withhold help from Greece.

          Lots of good and straight answers to Die Zeit’s questions.

    • Thanks For the link! If the Greece can’t be kicked out of the European Union, a different kind of war can be started.

  9. xabier says:

    The Nearing Vision is attractive, and has good, sane, humane, intentions behind it as so many of those late 19th and early 20th century movements started by those horrified by industrialism and mass life, but it is patently obvious that

    1/ It does not offer a viable model for the mass of human beings now or in the future, and,

    2/ The ethical claim is completely invalidated by any use of tools or materials or fuel originating (ie manufactured or transported by) from the globalised capitalist/corporatist industrialised complex.

    Use but one screwdriver, one solar lamp made in China and you are fully compromised in the moral sense.

    It makes me recall the Emperor Augustus, who made a big thing of wearing rough woollen clothes like the early Romans, and eating lentils (I think, or maybe beans) washed down with spring water, listening to the works of the philosphers being read to him. While living in a palace, at the centre of a ruthlessly exploitative Empire based on military force and mass (and very cruel) slavery…….

    Of course, life mostly isn’t about moral absolutes, and a little self-deception helps one along the stony path!

  10. kesar0 says:

    This whole word-brawl between FE and the others is very uncomfortable. Can we end this and go back to civil rhetorical manners, please?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Can we go back to where ideas are presented and argued with facts? Can we get rid of the Sarah Palin / Derek Zoolander/Idiocracy acolytes and get back to trying to understanding complex issues?

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    Using Fuel Additives for long term fuel storage

    Gas loses its potency over time and this also applies to Diesel and Kerosene. Diesel for example if stored at lower than 70 degrees will last about 12 months without any additives provided it is kept in a sealed container. If your temperatures are much above 70 that time slips by 50% to 6 months. According to BP,

    As diesel gets older a fine sediment and gum forms in the diesel brought about by the reaction of diesel components with oxygen from the air. The fine sediment and gum will block fuel filters, leading to fuel starvation and the engine stopping. Frequent filter changes are then required to keep the engine going. The gums and sediments do not burn in the engine very well and can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces.

    Now, what can we do to prevent issues like this and protect our fuel because you don’t want to be trying to outrun the mutant zombie bikers from Mars and have your engine stop? Additives. There are two main additives that I have run across, STA-BIL and PRI-G. PRI has several lines of additives and the –G stands for gasoline. They also have PRI-D for diesel. PRI additives are designed to be added to your fuel on a yearly basis to maintain the fuel in the best condition possible and they even claim that if your fuel has aged already, just adding PRI-G has proven to restore the fuel to “refinery-fresh conditions”. I would rather not test that out but PRI-G does have a decent reputation.

    STA-BIL is one that I have personally used and does pretty much the same thing as PRI-G in terms of conditioning your fuel to last a lot longer in storage than it would without treatment. The instructions are simple, just dump the required amount in with your fuel and Voila!

    You should be able to safe storing fuel for at least a year with no adverse affects. I pour in the additive first and then the gas so that it is mixed as thoroughly as possible.


    Seems I am wrong — the spent fuel ponds won’t blow up immediately — you get a year…. but of course you will be dead of starvation well before this happens so heh — why fret.

    Now you children be careful with that gasoline ya’ll are storing up for the apocalypse!

  12. Michael Jones says:

    Highway dead end Eddy always asks what did he (they) accomplish?
    As the speaker/teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, would reply to such
    “Why does a flower bloom”
    In all honesty, what did Jesus Christ “accomplish?
    Not much if you look at thge current state of world affairs.
    BTW, Scott Nearing “won” in the end. Yes, indeed, he accomplished what he and Helen set out to do without compromising his integrity and ideals.
    Thank you to you both and the world you touched was a better place because of it.

  13. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders
    Here is an attempt at drawing some conclusions from the work of BW Hill and the MacArthur Foundation.

    I’ll make a few assumptions:
    *BW Hill’s ETp model is correctly showing that the cost of producing a barrel of oil is rapidly increasing.
    *BW Hill’s GDP/ Barrel curves correctly shows what a current snapshot of our economy can produce with a barrel of oil. In addition, the cost minus value computation that Hill makes accurately predicts that oil is at the end of its economic life. With many repercussions beyond the simple price of oil.
    *The MacArthur study shows that only about 1 part in 1000 parts of the energy in a oil pool is actually turned into the work of moving a human in an automobile.

    Now, one of the first things we can notice is that the ETp model and the MacArthur results are both heavily influenced by physical factors which resist change. That is, we are not likely to make radically more efficient internal combustion engines anytime soon, and we aren’t likely to radically improve the efficiency of finding, producing, processing, and distributing petroleum products anytime soon. However, the GDP/ Barrel, and the proposed changes in economic structure which are contained in the MacArthur study, are more responsive to changes in human concepts and ideas…should we decide that living in harmony with Nature is what is really important, then the GDP / Barrel measurement would become either irrelevant or would change drastically. If the MacArthur prescriptions work as advertised, then GDP/ Barrel would, similarly, be quite different.

    The second thing we notice is the effect of the increasing cost of the oil. The ETp model shows that the cost of producing the oil can double. If, in 5 years, we get only 1 part in 2000 of the energy which was in the oil to actually do work moving humans, then powerful forces will begin to change the system. For example, today moving a human (e.g., a dental assistant driving to work in her car) must produce the money which is required to produce a thousand times as many units of value as the cost of producing the petroleum and the car and the infrastructure. But in 5 years, we might anticipate that the dental assistant will have to produce 2000 times the energy cost. We can imagine lots of stresses to the system, but we probably can’t think of too many responses which will make it all OK. But if we consider ‘printing a physical book’, we can visualize ‘virtual books’ of the kind that MacArthur believes we should adopt. Virtual books may help.

    Suppose we look at a factory worker, trying to produce value equal to 2000 times the cost of the auto-centric system which gets him to work. We can imagine the worker simply being automated out of existence. Or we might imagine a reversion to clusters of houses for the workers surrounding the factory…which was still the model when I married my wife. Her father had never lived more than 2 blocks from his work. My own father didn’t live that close, but he never drove to work in his life. Paying a workman enough to walk to work is quite a different business from paying the cost of the auto-centric system which is miserably inefficient and getting worse..

    Just for purposes of thinking, let’s suppose that the clusters of workmen around the factory becomes the ‘new normal’. What would be the implications? The first thing is that GDP will go way down. The workmen will avoid spending all that money on the auto-centric system. Second, health will increase. Sitting in a car is not a good thing to do. And pollution will decrease. Life becomes more pleasant.

    More subtly, the societies ability to pay more for the high cost oil increases. Presumably, society would stop producing the ruinously expensive auto-centric system and what would be left is the production of things such as tools which are used in a more human labor oriented system. For example, farm tools and blacksmith tools and such. If the big consumption items which determine petroleum demand stop, then BW Hill’s cost curve flattens drastically. Costs still go up, but only slowly as we deplete the existing reservoirs more slowly.

    If many more people are involved in food production (as recommended in the Food part of the MacArthur book), then we might think of Food/ Barrel as our basic metric, rather than GDP/ Barrel. Food per barrel would go up drastically if the MacArthur recommendations were adopted. Therefore, the cost of oil in terms of food would decline.

    Why didn’t Hubbert understand all this? On page 303, Capra and Luisi give us a clue:
    ‘To give equal importance to each of these three perspectives (pattern, structure, process) is difficult for most scientists because of the persistent influence of our Cartesian heritage. The natural sciences are supposed to deal with material phenomena, but only the structure perspective is concerned with the study of matter. The other two deal with relationships, qualities, patterns, and processes, all of which are nonmaterial. Of course, no scientist would deny the existence of patterns and processes, but most scientists tend to think of a pattern of organization as an idea abstracted from matter, rather than a generative force.’

    Conversely, why are global corporations so successful? Well, many of them have broken the code on neurotransmitters and hormones. Automobiles are sold to consumers who believe that automobiles are efficient ways to move neurotransmitters and hormones.

    Obviously, neither the Cartesian perspective nor the Madison Avenue perspective offer reliable guidelines for humanity in a world of Limits.

    Capra and Luisi emphasize autopoiesis (self-organization) and emergence (new structures as energy levels change). However, they point out that we have only recently developed good models at the cellular level, and really don’t have much modeling experience with complex social systems. We understand pretty well what happens in a natural system, thanks to Ecology. But predicting what might happen to a human social system which is experiencing steadily increasing costs for raw materials and energy is largely unexplored territory.

    For example, in her recent interview, the Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer remarked that the key to ‘aliveness’ is noticing changes. She claimed that walking around your neighborhood with an eye toward change is as good as getting in an airplane in search of new adventures. Would the disappearance of most of the auto-centric and airplane-centric society turn us in the direction of ‘looking with fresh eyes’, or toward a bitter civil war for control of the remaining scraps? If there is any theory which explains it all, I don’t know about it.

    Stuidies have found that ‘communities of practice’ are the keys to innovation. A group of farmers trying to figure out ways to more effectively market their crops can be a ‘community of practice’. A task force in a corporation can be a ‘community of practice’. Capra and Luisi have this to say:

    ‘Bringing life into human organizations by empowering their communities of practice not only increases their flexibility, creativity, and learning potential but also enhances the dignity and humanity of the organization’s individuals, as they connect with those qualities in themselves. In other words, the focus on life and self-organization empowers the self. It creates mentally and emotionally healthy working environments in which people feel that they are supported in striving to achieve their own goals and do not have to sacrifice their integrity to meet the goals of the organization. The problem is that human organizations are not only living communities but also social institutions designed for specific purposes and functioning in a specific economic environment. Today that environment is not life-enhancing, but is increasingly life-destroying.’ (Page 320)

    So…fasten your seatbelt and build lifeboats and pay attention to communities of practice.

    Don Stewart

  14. Don Stewart says:


    A little data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation study.

    ‘The European car is parked 92 percent of the time—often on valuable inner-city land (Figure 3). When the car is used, only 1.5 of its 5 seats are occupied. The deadweight ratio often reaches 12:1. Less than 20 percent of the total petroleum energy is translated into kinetic energy, and only 1/13 of that energy is used to transport people. As much as 50 percent of inner-city land is devoted to mobility (roads and parking spaces). But, even at rush hour, cars cover only 10 percent of the average European road. Yet, congestion cost approaches 2 percent of GDP in cities like Stuttgart and Paris.26’

    This is considering the fuel that is already in the tank. Only between one and two percent of the energy actually performs the work of moving the human from Point A to Point B. If we began, instead, with the energy in the oil in a field which has not yet been discovered, and subtracted all the production and processing and distribution costs (and maybe some military costs), and also subtracted the energy cost of producing the car, then we would come out with a work to energy ratio which is miniscule. That’s before we even consider whether the person actually needs to get from Point A to Point B.

    Looking at food, 95 percent of the fertilizer used does not provide nutrition to the human body.

    I think that any objective person looking at this colossal waste would have to be alarmed…and ashamed for the human race.

    Don Stewart

  15. Don Stewart says:

    Dear MG
    Just a couple of additions to my previous note on Circular Economy.

    The business about ‘don’t move humans at all unless you need to’ is currently being played out in the US Congress. The Republicans want to stop funding satellites which gather data on climate, and instead spend money on putting humans into space. Putting humans into space is, partly, about stopping the flow of damning evidence, but, secondly, about moving neurotransmitters and hormones…we are such magnificent people that we can do this!

    Second, about offloading work to Nature. A note on our small farmer website:

    I am interested in purchasing 4-6 adult guineas for tick and bug control on our property, and wondered if anyone knew of any for sale close to the Hillsborough/Rougemont area.

    Don Stewart

    • Guineas are so dumb. We had a bunch, every day they would get split up with half on one side of the fence and half the other, and take a while to remember they can just fly over the fence.

    • MG says:

      The ideas about elimination of moving the human bodies are interesting. It is already happening now: the limits of our enviroment and resources cause that we have the generation of young people who are 25, 30, 35 year old and stay at parents homes because there is no place to move for them that they could afford and that would provide them future existence. We can create new dwellings, new productions plants, but when we do not have the corresponding flows of cheap energy then they remain empty.

      This problem of “low mobility” is often criticised by the naive enteurpreneurs in my country who ofthen complain about the low mobility of the workforce. But when low wages is offered, why anyone should move: to lose the alread remaning weak connection with the natural environment of his home village for complete enslavament?

      Definitely, only a limited part of the population is endowed with higher intellectual skills. The majority only repeats what he or she sees in his or her surroundings, because they are not able to grasp the deeper implications. Thus, when such people can not move to work in production plants/occupations that require easy repetitive actions, they have no other choice than remain where they are and they produce almost nothing as their resources like land etc. are very limited. The cheap energy made the working class something like kings of the world, as communits leaders promised them, but when they do not have the cheap energy for leveraging their primitive abilities, they are literally finished: become drug addicts etc., as their low intelectual abilities are de facto the limits of their existence that prevent them to adapt. Its the intellectual skills that allow adaptation. Thus, not every human being has the same ability to adapt.

      The abundance of cheap energy created billions of people who are not able to adapt because of their low intellectual levels. They must be guided. They must obey. They must be subordinated. They are not able to survive in the harsh nature because they were made to live in artificial man-made ecosystems.

      E. g. the Greeks have no freedom, because they are simply a deeply indebted country. That is why they do not survive unless they accept the reality that the implosion around them will stop the money flows sooner or later. Because it is not the bad politicians who do not want to give them money, it is the fact that no one wanted to admit that their debts can not be repaid. It is no ones fault, it is the naked fact of the implosion of the parts of the system to which the flows of the cheap energy are weakening.

      • “E. g. the Greeks have no freedom, because they are simply a deeply indebted country. That is why they do not survive unless they accept the reality that the implosion around them will stop the money flows sooner or later. Because it is not the bad politicians who do not want to give them money, it is the fact that no one wanted to admit that their debts can not be repaid. It is no ones fault, it is the naked fact of the implosion of the parts of the system to which the flows of the cheap energy are weakening.”

        The money flows is an abstraction of the real problem; Greece has very little resources, particularly energy. It is probably way too late now, but 10 years ago they should have switched to on-supply solar power, and cut energy consumption drastically.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Yes of course — what were they thinking — solar was answer…

          Feel free to pretend the following is written in invisible ink….

          The German Solar Disaster: 21 Billion Euros Burned

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

          • Rodster says:

            Along the same thought here’s this idea: “Bill McKibben: The Planet’s Future Depends On Distributed Systems”


          • John Doyle says:

            Greece can fulfill its financial obligations simply by offering to just pay the interest on its debts, within a fixed time, a finite sum. Reason being is the loans themselves were just electronic money created out of thin air. Repaying the banks just deletes the capital by marking off numbers in accounts. electronic money again, but converted from the real assets Greece has to find to repay it.
            In the wash up the banks will get all the money they were ever going to get, the interest, and Greece doesn’t have to indenture itself in perpetuity, the curtrent option. I just hope they have the sense to understand that!

          • Solar costs more than coal or natural gas or hydro. Guess what? Greece does not have those. The European Union is not like a real federal government at all. If the Greeks had to have $0.25 electricity from solar, it would still be better than having nothing and cutting down the last trees to survive before they all try to mass migrate somewhere else.

            On the EROEI side, solar PV is fine On-Supply, it is using batteries for dispatch-ability that ruins it.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If I were 7ft tall I could be a centre in the NBA. Wouldn’t that be amazing.

              My shoes are made of leather. I went skiing today — that was wonderful.

              If New Zealand could capture sheep farts the country would be the new Saudi Arabia…

              Is typing blather considered exercise?

              And so on into the infinity of saying a lot without saying anything of any substance….

        • edpell says:

          Matthew, YES! they have no indigenous energy. They are one of the first to go down. Yes or No vote, deal or no deal, they have no money, no energy, no hard working engineers with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of factory infrastructure. They are doomed. The only question will the rich of Greece own the farms, land, houses, apartments, factories or will it be the rich of Germany and England?

  16. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    It always drives me batty in the movies when someone gets shot and flies through the air. Due to its speed and relatively small size, the momentum of the bullet is not transferred into momentum of the body and therefore does great damage. I wonder how many people watching movies think, “Wow, I guess I’ll fly through the air if I ever get shot!” Probably the same one’s that think BAU is not subject to a net energy decline.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      How my reply to the photo way down the list, got way up here is a mystery wrapped in a website riddle.

  17. Stefeun says:

    “Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova signed the European Union Economic Trade Pact, which will ultimately lead to crushing economic austerity and decline, while EU Brussels oligarchs buy up the former Soviet countries’ resources and industry on the cheap.”


  18. Stefeun says:

    Thomas Piketty
    Itw by French website Reporterre on June 02, 2015

    “Public debt is a joke! The real debt is the debt of natural capital”

    If the auto-translation isn’t understandable, maybe it’ll work better from Portuguese (the only foreign publication I found is Brazilian):

    • Summary – Growth only comes by using up our natural resources. It can’t last.

    • edpell says:

      Natural capital and human population. Easiest to use (natural capital)/(number of people).

      • Stefeun says:

        OK, but how do you take into account the natural capital? What would be the “value” of, say, a bird? Or would it only consist in putting taxes on the wastes? (which doesn’t work, see eg Carbon tax). How do you force the capitalists to internalize all costs, while most of their profits is actually due to the fact they externalize everything possible?

        My take on this is to say that it’s the Economy that’s included in Nature, NOT the other way round. It’s therefore pointless to try to put figures on natural things, we should instead try to adapt our needs so that they fit in with natural cycles.

        I don’t say it’s possible, certainly not at today’s overshoot level anyway, and it would require a complete change of our rules, to begin with the private property.
        Needless to say, it’s hopeless.

  19. Stefeun says:

    “… Over the entire period from 1978 to 2014, CEO compensation increased about 997 percent, a rise almost double stock market growth and substantially greater than the painfully slow 10.9 percent growth in a typical worker’s compensation over the same period.”


  20. Stefeun says:

    Presentation by Pr. Joseph A. Tainter
    “Collapse of Complex Societies”
    2010 Intl Conference on Sustainability (!)
    1h10min lecture + 20min questions


    Excellent explanations of the mechanisms of complexity and diminishing returns.
    The questions aren’t really interesting (cf. main theme of the meeting…), except one about consequences of globalization and interconnectedness, to which Pr. Tainter unfortunately didn’t really answer; I guess it’s because he couldn’t straightly tell his hosts that their topic was “bunkty” (see Tom Murphy’s post http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/sustainable-means-bunkty-to-me/)

    • xabier says:


      Thank you. Very telling silences after most of Tainter’s rather terse replies debunking their illusions.

      • Stefeun says:

        Yes Xabier,
        I forgot to highlight -for those who don’t have full time- the chapter about diminishing returns applied to innovations (from 50 min.mark), especially the interesting charts by technological fields (from 56 min.mark) showing that diminishing returns are happening not only for older fields, but also for newer ones, such as nano- and bio-technology.
        This statement alone is sufficient to close the debate around techno-fixes, imho.

        • xabier says:

          Notable Tainter quotes from the lecture:

          ‘Historically very few governments have been concerned for the welfare of their people.’

          ‘I expect tens, even hundreds of millions to starve to death ‘ (in the next few decades).

          ‘Sustainability (ie of the status quo) requires an increased use of energy, not a reduction.’

          ‘I used to be an optimist, but over the last three or four years…..’

          ‘Short sharp pain versus prolonged agony? I’ll pass on that one.’

          • xabier says:

            And, understatement of the year:

            ‘Most human beings are not any good at broad thinking.’ (ie in terms of whole systems, same point as George Mobus makes.)

        • alturium says:

          Thanks! I watched this video last year and is a must-watch.

          I have not read his book (…yet), but one of my questions from watching the video was How do we measure complexity? He seems to concerned with a formal definition of complexity but it seems to leave out how to measure it.

          Thanks ahead if you know the answer 🙂

          • Stefeun says:

            I haven’t read the book in-extenso either…
            but my undrstanding is that complexity is not measured in absolute value, rather in relative value, by comparing the evolution between two stages of a given parameter.

            In the video J.Tainter gives the example of research, comparing the “lone wolves” of the past with the big teams of today, that also need bureaucracy and other costly organisational features.
            This is also connected to diminishing returns, in that the “lone wolves” gathered the low-hanging-fruits of the scientific knowledge,, i.e. fundamental findings with broad applications, while today’s teams are focused on narrow topics with confidential applications.
            And the degree of specialzation is also a measure of complexity. IIRC, in the video JT cites a few dozens different jobs in ancient societies, to be compared to today’s figure that is between 20.000 and 30.000.

            • alturium says:

              Thanks Stefeun!

              Still leaves the question open..perhaps I should read the book. Obviously, if we could measure complexity that would help in predicting system collapse. Everybody bandies about “complexity” but no one really defines it. Even Tainter’s attempting at narrowing to a normal definition is hard for me to buy.

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    Greece gives us a faint whiff of what global collapse will smell like http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11716318/Greeces-Yanis-Varoufakis-prepares-for-economic-siege-as-companies-issue-private-currencies.html

    Of course things will be far far worse than this when the real deal gets underway and the financial system erupts….

    • xabier says:

      More than that, Greece shows just how easily, and rapidly, a whole population can be brought to its knees without an overt act of war. Warning to us all.

    • Steve says:

      Maybe the next recession/depression really kicks off after tomorrow, especially if the Greeks vote ‘No’. I wonder how the markets will really take it if Greece leaves the Eurozone? Perhaps it’s the first domino to fall.

      I know really we didn’t really have a recovery since the 2008 recession and it’s been propped up by financial tricks but can they really stop the avalanche when it gets started?

  22. edpell says:

    Today we celebrate the war to free our selves from a 4% tax on tea. That kind of obvious oppression can not be tolerated. July 4th 1776.

    • kesar0 says:

      Lol, good point!

    • notpermiecensored says:

      “Today we celebrate the war to free our selves from a 4% tax on tea. That kind of obvious oppression can not be tolerated. July 4th 1776.”

      Currency had inherent value then, some claim of ownership to the currency existed by the possessor.
      Now money has no inherent value other than force. As such its creators are entitled to any tax on it they choose.

      • kesar0 says:

        “Currency had inherent value then, some claim of ownership to the currency existed by the possessor. Now money has no inherent value other than force. As such its creators are entitled to any tax on it they choose.”

        Until they kill the demand either the domestic one and/or external/international demand for exported goods.

        • permiecensored says:

          “Until they kill the demand either the domestic one and/or external/international demand for exported goods.”
          You think supply and demand is still the cornerstone…please. And then the “kill the demand” bit. Like you care. Mo fo me delivered from the moral high ground. LOL. literally. Totally addicted to the power that fiat currency allows and totally in denial about it. Get honest. You love it. If the creators of the fiat take some back thank them, for without them you would be nothing.

          • kesar0 says:

            There is no single argument in your reply. Just sarcasm-mumbling.

            • notpermiecensored says:

              Dont like taxes? Give the fiat up. People do you know. Very rare and I am not one of them but they do. They become something. You with your fiat are 1000 times someone who has given up fiat. Take away the fiat and they are a 1000 times what you are. Because you are nothing without fiat. Neither am I. People talking about 1776 towards ends that brings mo to them. People talking about economics towards ends that brings mo to them. From the highest morality of their fiat throne. Cracks me up.
              “There is no single argument in your reply. Just sarcasm-mumbling.”
              My argument is crystal clear you dont like it so you characterize. My argument is a real argument not some self serving righteous drivel seized upon and repeated.

  23. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders

    A few days ago I posted something about those who feel helpless dying before those who feel in charge of their lives.

    Here is some related information from an interview with Kelly McGonigal, today. Kelly’s goal is to understand the subject of happiness and stress in more depth. She first makes a distinction between short term, immediate happiness, and a longer term satisfaction with one’s life. In the short term, we may be happy because a sports team has won a game, but being a sports fan is not likely to be a sound strategy for the satisfaction that comes with a meaningful life.

    Parents of children under 18 and those who are caregivers are notoriously stressed, but also more likely to report that they are satisfied with their lives. Young people who were only concerned about temporary happiness would never choose the trials and tribulations of parenthood, but few parents would give up their children just so they could listen to more sports broadcasts.

    Kelly thinks that feeling good is a sort of fuel which enables us to persevere as we achieve the satisfaction of longer term achievement. Therefore, it is important to know how to find the temporary satisfactions, but piling them up does not give us a long term satisfaction.

    Several years ago (back when stress was almost universally seen as a negative), a global survey was taken asking people whether they had experienced high levels of stress on the previous day. The researchers then computed a stress index by country. Another researcher then picked up on the thread and correlated the stress index with measures of well-being. The higher the stress index, the higher the measures of well-being…exactly contradicting the prevailing wisdom at the time.

    The research showed that stress was correlated with things such as laughing and smiling and learning and a feeling of purpose.

    Kelly thinks that we can’t have what we really want in the absence of stress.

    Whether we can achieve the short term happiness is a function of many things we do not control, such as our native temperament and our external circumstances. We can, however, learn to manage stress as a help toward the achievement of our longer term goals. We can choose how we use the stress to strengthen what used to be called our moral fiber or our backbone.

    When we feel stress, it is a sign that we are having a meaningful experience. And the stress reaction is Nature’s way of preparing us to learn from the experience. New parents experience changes in their biology and in their brain…they become more sensitive to stress, but also more courageous and willing to take risks. They have both increased feelings of concern and also increased willingness to act.

    While hopelessness is deadly, a combination of stress and caring and hope…and a mindset which encompasses a determination to use the trials and tribulations to build our inner strengths…makes us stronger.

    Kelly’s parting tips:
    First, when you wake up in the morning, spend a minute or so thinking about the values you particularly want to exhibit in your activities today.
    Second, in moments of stress, don’t try to hide from the stress. Instead, pay attention to the stress. It is telling you that something you care about is in danger, and that you can do something about it. (If you didn’t think you could do something about it, you might be mad or sad but you wouldn’t feel stress.)

    Don Stewart

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Don – if one is prone to depression and anxiety then they tend to have developed good coping methods for dealing with stressful situations — such as the imminent end of civilization and quite possibly the extinction of life on the planet…

      What happens is their big brains invent ‘solutions’ to the problem — it does not matter if the ‘solutions’ to not stand the test of logic…. they are able to ignore facts that clearly demonstrate their ‘solutions’ are not viable.

      This keeps the big brain happy — it keeps them from deep depression — or even suicide…

      When the Big Brain fails — and the facts start to get in the way — they start to pop Xanax out of Pez dispensers (usually with a Bugs Bunny head)… if that fails then they end up lying on a sofa discussing the history of their fixation with defecating with a complete stranger…. that can also lead to sessions in the Cuckoo’s Nest… in the very worst cases there are those who eat the barrel of a gun….

      So yes I agree — the Big Brain can create the perception that all is fine — one is in charge… even though one is not…. that is a good thing… That is called being in the Koombaya Zone…

      Then there are those who are truly in charge of themselves — who do not need Koombaya because knowing the truth does not plunge them into depression or insanity

      Observe what happens when anti-Koombaya people confront the Koombaya people….. the Koombayaians Big Brains do not like to be presented with facts that threaten their hosts’ survival —- and as we see they get defensive… and angry … they do not want the facts….

      There is no upside to truth seeking for them… Koombaya is everything…

      And as we have seen Koombaya takes many forms — organic gardening…. believe that BAU can continue for some …. solar panels…. God … Edo Japan…. and so on…. there are many flavours…

      • Don Stewart says:

        Fast Eddy
        Being able to select your own flowers as you die of terminal cancer is better than being helpless.
        Don Stewart

      • alturium says:

        *amateur psychologist warning!*

        we are delusional to some degree, it is part of being human.

        but i really like the idea of “projection” used by the Cylons which in Battlestar Galactica (the latest). The idea was that cylons could project a “reality” they wanted to see. Even if they were walking down a grey dull corridor, they could choose to see it as a walk through a forest or a beach. A great concept!

        we all employ “projecting” our identity to the world. we all have an internal, deep-seated sense of ourselves along with our limitations.

        but your right about the real world “interfering” with our internal state of minds. the facts get in the way of our bias, and so people “filter” them out. programmed to ignore.

        • Artleads says:

          “Even if they were walking down a grey dull corridor, they could choose to see it as a walk through a forest or a beach. A great concept!”

          I’ve been studying grey dull corridors. Most can be interesting if you look hard at them. But I finally did come across an unused perimeter sidewalk around a new Walmart that had absolutely nothing interesting about it!

    • James says:


      Good post and thanks for that. I too think often of dying these days, not for any particular reason, but simply because I always have in general, and now that I’m getting older at 58 and feeling all the usual aches and pains, a little more specifically at that.

      Like you, I surmise, I was brought up in the Christian tradition where dying was always impugned with a sort of humility and sense of failure; the idea being that as we all wept over whomever’s dead corpse at their funeral, that they’d somehow failed their way out of our mutual existence.

      But gradually, I got past all that. I witnessed a whole parade of self-important men die – some close to me, most not – and move on with no apparent detrimental effect on our world, and then it gradually dawned on me. I AM NO DIFFERENT!

      We individual humans are nothing more than cosmic flotsam and jetsam, put here to (perhaps) imagine that we made a difference.

      But what lies beyond the utter desperation that last statement implies you might ask?

      S-U-R-R-E-N-D-E-R to a power that we are utterly unable to comprehend in the least.

      • alturium says:

        I’m not sure what you mean by “surrender”.

        I like Nate Hagens solution. We’re all on a train driven by a psychotic conducter. The best we can do is find a compartment with people we want to hang out with. 🙂

    • xabier says:

      Dear Don

      This recalls the account an English farm labourer gave of his experiences in WW1. What struck me was his saying that they all cried a lot, for instance when a friend was blown to pieces,drowned in the mud, etc, but also laughed a lot; in fact he went so far as to say it was in many respects the best time of his life, and that they always pulled themselves together well after the shocks of that horrendous existence.

      This was an age without stress counselling, of course. One important factor was that he was able to serve with men from his own county, Suffolk, and they were all of the same background, mostly farm workers from the old peasantry, it was and still is a very rural part of England. They understood one another very well, there were no social tensions in the ranks, and he never mentions the officers.

      If men from other counties were in the unit, as happened after the huge losses, it disturbed the harmony which helped pull them through, although he recognised they were ‘quite good chaps in their way,but not one of us.’

      I had a feeling reading this that he was more fortunate than the officer class, who had to keep up the front, inculcated by their education and the expectations of their class, of being unflappable, ‘knightly’, leaders, and who would certainly not have had a good cry together over a loss, either with their fellow officers or their men (who they were not supposed to have personal relationships with anyway.)

      They were in the same bind as the citizens of our atomised capitalist societies, who are taught to be ashamed of stress and to consider the shocks and defeats which the economy administers as personal failure, and to be obsessed with maintaining a front. Which all plays into the hands of those who wish to control us while mis-naming themselves our ‘leaders’. Interesting to observe what the leaders of Europe are doing to the ordinary people of Greece right now.

      The farm labourer had no front to maintain, being at the bottom anyway.

      Collapse first and stay sane?

      • actually for that guy the mud at Flanders was probably an ‘improvement’ over the poverty he most likely faced back home.

        At that time quite a lot of people ate better at the front than at home.

        • xabier says:

          Possibly, British troops were very well fed for the slaughterhouse in both world wars. But it would be an exaggeration to say the front-line in 1917 was better in other ways – look at the photos! Rural life was very tough, of course and deaths or serious injury on farms was quite common then, although not as bad as the horrendous death-rate in mining.

          My point was really about group psychology and capacity for enduring and surviving horrors. His account highlights:

          1/ Total trust in one’s immediate group,and the cultural and social basis of that trust.

          2/ Free emotional expression – crying, laughter. Songs too no doubt.

          3/ The preservation of sanity when one is caught in a truly terrible environment and imprisoned in a military system which has, of course, no regard for one’s individual existence, and is in fact dedicated to one’s likely destruction, and which accords no social status whatever.

          For that military system then, read our declining economies now.

    • notpermiecensored says:

      Thank you for the techniques Don, helpful.

    • edpell says:

      you are an illegal alien and you want to stay get the chip implanted and turned on. You want government money unemployment, medicaid/obamacare, snap, section 8, etc. get the chip implanted and turned on.

      You are a foreign government and want US money deposited into the Swiss bank accounts of the ruling elite get 80% of your citizens implanted and turned on first.

  24. Stefeun says:

    Dematerialized economy (hahaha)

    “…According to my calculation, a single Bitcoin transaction uses roughly enough electricity to power 1.57 American households for a day.
    …Bitcoin’s power usage per transaction isn’t remotely sustainable as a wholesale replacement for the conventional financial system.”

    Bitcoin is unsustainable, by Christopher Malmo, June 29, 2015

  25. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders

    This post by Gail talks about ‘peak energy demand’. Meanwhile, some agencies are boosting their forecasts for oil production. You can find those articles at Peak Oil News. Here is a comment by BW Hill to one of those articles.

    I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with Hill. I just find his take on things to be fascinating.

    Don Stewart

    shortonoil on Fri, 3rd Jul 2015 7:16 am

    “The consumption strength across products led the International Energy Agency (IEA) to revise its demand forecast higher several times, with a current estimate of 1.4 million barrels per day, or 1.5 percent, in growth.”
    The consumption of petroleum products by the petroleum industry is now growing by 2.4% per year. Consumption by the end user is almost flat, and may even be negative. Low oil prices have done nothing to stimulate the general economy, if the production of oil itself is excluded. Being energy neutral to negative, the shale industry is a significant user of petroleum products. Once the shale industry begins its inevitable decline demand will fall with it. That is likely to happen within the next year as financing for shale development ends:
    With the decline in shale, demand will fall and prices will again begin their descent.
    Prices are already low enough that most producers can no longer afford to replace their ever more costly reserves. The depletion of the world’s oil reserves will become apparent as producers find that they can no longer make money producing oil. To remain in business they will continue to pile debt on to their $2.5 trillion in existing debt, and they will continue to liquidate assets to raise cash. The world’s oil reserves are rapidly approaching the “dead state”. The point were production ceases!

    • edpell says:

      That the IEA fails to differentiate between oil delivered to end users and oil used to get oil is disappointing. I would also like to see what fraction of oil to end users is used by the various militaries.

  26. Michael Jones says:

    Speaking of Paul Goodman, one of many from that era, which spoke and wrote of the troubles we are now facing;

    Fifty years ago, Paul Goodman raised exactly this kind of question about what Americans of this time were making. Goodman, poet, novelist, psychologist, social critic, and political activist best know for Growing Up Absurd, lived when the automobile and suburb were transforming the nation’s landscape and when Americans were being urged to find satisfaction not in what the did, but in what they could buy. He was among the first and the most articulate critics of the new consumer society. He questioned not merely the value of the goods produced, but the value of the work that went into them. “Is it possible, how is it possible, to have more meaning and honor in work? To put wealth to some real use? To have a high standard of living of whose quality we are not ashamed? To get social justice for those who have been shamefully left out? To have a use of leisure that is not a dismaying waste of a hundred million adults?” These questions, which he asked in 1956, are perfectly relevant to the present world of ecommerce and theme parks.

    Since he died in 1972, Goodman’s star has dimmed. Growing Up Absurd and Communitas are still taught in college courses, but few people read Goodman on their own or know about his life. One reason for this is that since that time, Americans have turned away from the kind of concerns he voiced � first out of fear of economic decline and then out of fascination with the fruits of economic success. Like Henry Thoreau, Thorstein Veblen and other critics of America’s commercial culture, Goodman had been consigned to the library shelves. But Goodman needs to be revived � not only to reacquaint Americans with the power of his thought and the novelty of his experience � but as a way of asking of our era the kind of question that Goodman asked of his.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I used to be dismayed by the consumer society — but then I realized that if we stopped consuming … there would be massive layoffs causing a deflationary death spiral … which would mean we’d be living like savages without iphones

      Having that epiphany … I went to the Mall and bought a lot of stuff that I didn’t need…

      • Michael Jones says:

        That explains your harsh antagonism for those principles and your lashing out for those espousing and living simply

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Have you ever had contact with an ex-alcoholic?

          He recognizes who utterly stupid he was pursing that path for years — and he’s hell bent on explaining to other fools who are wasting years/lives on drink…

          That’s me with respect to many of the issues under discussion on this site.

          One thing I regret is that I never had anyone to point me in the right direction when I was much younger…

          I wasted decades living in ignorance.

          • James says:

            I guess that explains me too Fast Eddy, although I dont share your casual dismissal of same.
            I’m at least a marginal alcoholic by any reasonable definition, although by that same definition most of the developed world is as well. Nonetheless, I know that I drink WAY too much.
            But I think that any true awakening to our current predicament has to come with the awareness that this is… 1.) Truly different this time, and 2.) Not primarily about us as individuals anymore. We’ve truly entered a species/world altering event period now. The old rules simply don’t apply anymore. Individual actions are still important, just as the always were, but they’re no longer enough.

            • alturium says:

              For those who survive, they may describe it as the Great Humbling. For the first time in our history we will have to really sit back and realize that our genetic makeup contributed to this cycle of violence/genocide/growth and finally collapse. It is so imbred in us to be controlled by others, to be dominated.

              New religions will be discovered. But will the cycle resume? Most likely…I don’t have see how they can avoid repeating the cycle. Another paradox: if we have a central religion and one world government, then sociopath leaders will take over. If are reduced to groups of 150, then it will be village vs village.

              Maybe we are at evolutionary dead-end…

              Future generations will have to figure that one out…if they blame us, then they are doomed because they have the same genes.

            • “Maybe we are at evolutionary dead-end…”

              Maybe that is one of the last things we can do, is create a successor species, either biological or artificial. There are species like the wolverine that are solitary and territorial, so it may be possible to create a species that is genetically programmed to live at a fixed, low population density.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              As you know — I am working on that species…. It will be a half sheep half solar panel hybrid… a self-powered grass eating beast/machine….

              And I will be their fathah…. it is my destiny…. soon I will unveil my creation … my frankensheep…

            • Artleads says:

              “Another paradox: if we have a central religion and one world government, then sociopath leaders will take over. If are reduced to groups of 150, then it will be village vs village.”

              The mindset that led to the predicament needs to change. The original mindset won’t do.

              It is likely that if people have their basic needs met, they won’t fight each other. The question then is whether or how those basic needs can be met on a universal scale.

              In a world without the skills or energy to travel long distances, there could be greater isolation of small groups.

              Aborigenes lived in small groups and fought when there was scarcity (I assume), but also traded and interbred between groups otherwise.

              Apparently, there would be major die-off and mayhem when civilization suddenly stopped, so the question remains whether or how some way to maintain “civilization” could be found. A cheap source of energy has been suggested. Presumably, that would be required for “growth and development” that is the only prospect for taking carbon out of the atmosphere and safeguarding nuclear facilities. I have no idea how this works.

            • alturium says:


              The mindset that led to the predicament needs to change. The original mindset won’t do.

              That is going to happen thanks to nature! But what happens when we pop out on the end of this short (or long) period of “transformation”? Is changing the conscious mindset enough? Is setting up new traditions or a new religion or new type of leaders? All these are elements we have some control over, but what if we have been programmed (either designed or evolved) to exploit, expand, conquer, kill, subjugate, control, lust?

              That is one of my problems with the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, Christian), the idea that we have fallen from a perfect state…instead we have the pattern of genocide, growth and collapse since the beginning of time. They would reply that is symptomatic of a sinful state. But I would argue that the ancients were describing the bad elements of our genetic programming. Programming that had been there for quite some time.

            • Artleads says:

              “But what happens when we pop out on the end of this short (or long) period of ‘transformation’? Is changing the conscious mindset enough?”

              Sounds like you’re saying we sit down, knit our brows, and think into existence a new mindset. But could the change happen some other way?

              “Is setting up new traditions or a new religion or new type of leaders? All these are elements we have some control over, but what if we have been programmed (either designed or evolved) to exploit, expand, conquer, kill, subjugate, control, lust?”

              The *change* I was thinking of was not to *change* our “exploit, expand, conquer, kill, subjugate, control, lust” impulses. Instead, my opinion (based on what I see myself being willing to do NOW) is to tamp down those behaviors for no other reason than that not doing so will harm me. It’s a case of cool it or die.

              “That is one of my problems with the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, Christian), the idea that we have fallen from a perfect state…instead we have the pattern of genocide, growth and collapse since the beginning of time. They would reply that is symptomatic of a sinful state. But I would argue that the ancients were describing the bad elements of our genetic programming. Programming that had been there for quite some time.”

              I’ve seen people argue very intelligently about such matters. But that’s beyond my pay grade. To be simple, I think people all have the dark and the light in them. It could hardly be otherwise. But despite (or even because of) this, people can adapt their behavior to what they see as their self interest (which is, in some cases, to cooperate).

            • Some humans will evolve to something else and will reach Type I civ.

              However it is not clear whether the direction will go towards that of people like Kurzweil are proposing.

            • kesar0 says:

              If you are referring to Type I Kardashev scale we are “almost” there. According to most popular wikipedia definition T1 requires “…A level near contemporary terrestrial civilization with an energy capability equivalent to the solar insolation on Earth, between 10E16 and 10E17 watts.”

              “In 2012, total world energy consumption was 553 exajoules (553×1018 J=153,611 TWh),[5] equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.54 TW (or 0.724 on Sagan’s Kardashev scale).”

              If you would kindly point the energy sources for this type of “development” and credible scientific articles proofing such possibility. Thanks in advance.

            • notpermiecensored says:

              “Maybe we are at evolutionary dead-end…”
              Some pray for revolution. I pray for evolution.

            • @Kesaro

              We have been at 0.7 something in the Kardashev scale since the 1970s. However the major problem is we have been stuck there for almost 40 years.

              Nuke fusion is the key but no major improvement has been forthcoming yet, other than the unproven claim from North Korea.

            • kesar0 says:

              I really don’t get it. First you claim “Some humans will evolve to something else and will reach Type I civ.”. And then “We have been at 0.7 something in the Kardashev scale since the 1970s. However the major problem is we have been stuck there for almost 40 years.
              Nuke fusion is the key but no major improvement has been forthcoming yet, other than the unproven claim from North Korea.”.
              Am I the only one seeing incoherence here? Can you please elaborate on how/when/who will evolve.

            • kesar0 says:

              To the @Admin: can you please add some “credible” commenters – if you have such – to the “moderation exception list”? It will speed up the conversation flow. Thanks.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I wouldn’t hold my breathe waiting on a credible announcement re: fusion out of North Korea:

              According to his biography, he first picked up a golf club in 1994, at North Korea’s only golf course, and shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he reportedly immediately declared his retirement from the sport.


  27. Stefeun says:

    Yet another important issue for Greece (not discussed in the MSM):

    “Eastring vs Balkan Stream: The Battle for Greece
    Russia favored a pipeline route that would reward Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, but the EU will want to link to Turkish Stream via EU and NATO members Romania and Bulgaria”


    • Stefeun says:

      One more issue: oil fields in Ionian Sea and South Crete.
      Some talk of potential €150B fiscal revenue over 30 years.

      A March 2014 geological overview: http://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2014/03/a-fresh-look-at-the-oil-and-gas-potential-of-greece

      Then Syriza attempted to change the plans…
      “Fearing repercussions, ministry rethinks oil tender revisions for Crete and Ionian Sea
      … The leftist Syriza party had initially declared it would make changes to ensure exploration and exploitation control for the Greek state, which would have authority over participating consortiums. This model is common in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Venezuela.”

      Status by mid-June:
      “The tender for the concession of 20 blocks for hydrocarbon exploration in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete will continue regardless of recommendations by certain companies to postpone it due to low oil rates and the political uncertainty in Greece.

      Energy Ministry sources have told Kathimerini that there are no plans to postpone the tender that ends on July 14, and they estimate that any such development less than a month before the deadline for the submission of binding bids would be seen as “problematic.”

      “Those who are about to come, will come,” a ministry source said, adding that at this point even one offer from a major company would constitute a satisfactory result for the tender, Kathimerini reported.

      Ministry officials who have been supervising the process since its start and are in contact with the oil market acknowledge the difficulties as regards the current low global oil rates, which considerably raises the business risk in terms of regions with great sea depths, such as the Ionian, but say that a postponement would not really change anything as market forecasts speak of oil rates staying at around USD 60 per barrel.”

    • I am somewhat skeptical that any of these pipelines will be built. It is not possible to run pipelines through a collapsing country, without problems, for example.

      • Stefeun says:

        It seems that, until very recently, the plan was to go through Greece, which is not a war-zone (yet?) though. And we’ll all live in collapsing countries sooner than later, so…

        “On June 15, Gazprom provided the Turkish government with coordinates for the route of the pipeline, which would take it beneath the Black Sea to Turkey’s European coast, demonstrating that the plan doesn’t encroach on the EEZ of neighboring Bulgaria. The line then would move west through Greece and from there into Western Europe.”

        The OilPrice article was linked in this CounterPunch punchy one, that talks about pipelines too:
        “Putin Gobsmacks Uncle Sam … Again”
        by MIKE WHITNEY

        The pipeline chessgame is rather difficult to grasp, but I understand there are huge long-term interests at stake.

  28. richard says:

    Some alternative sources of hydrocarbons mentioned here:http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/02/us-california-naturalgas-buses-insight-idUSKCN0PC0AV20150702
    “Critics of the proposed regulation have also cited expense as a factor. Battery electric buses typically cost about $800,000, compared with $525,000 for a natural gas bus and less than $500,000 for a diesel bus. Fuel cell buses currently cost about $1.3 million.
    But electric bus advocates counter by citing the higher cost of natural gas. Fueling a natural gas bus costs about $27,000 annually, compared with $10,500 in electricity cost for an electric bus, according to CARB.”
    “Clean Energy Fuels, the nation’s largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation, said it is on track to sell 40 million gallons of RNG this year, double what it sold last year.”
    That brought to mind some youthful prose … “for in those days it was death to disobey the King” … 😉

    • If we’re being honest, the goal is to move pollution to China, out of California. The goal is clearly not to reduce CO2 (unless they are just really inept) since making a whole new fleet of buses would certainly cause a lot of emissions.

      • James says:

        Good point, if a bit obvious. Capitalism’s basic mandate is to socialize/externalize/minimize ALL costs (labor, environmental, regulatory) to the extent possible, while clinging to profits like there’s no tomorrow.

    • Ultimately, the cost is higher–really more energy costs. The length of time they can be used is no longer. It is easy to try to amortize costs over too long a period.

  29. Fast Eddy says:

    Chinese Government “Losing Control”: Stocks Are Collapsing, Hitting New Bear Market Lows

    As The South China Morning Post reports, many investors said the government was at least partly to blame for the collapse because it encouraged them to go into the market – for months, state-owned media have issued daily commentaries to encourage people to load up on shares.

    Analysts warned that the nation’s leadership would pay dearly if it failed to stabilise the market and prevent millions of small investors from losing their life savings.

    “The government’s response to the fall confirms that it will use all the resources at its disposal to influence the market when things do not go the way it wants and potentially puts its legitimacy at risk,” said Steve Tsang, chair of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham.

    More http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-02/chinese-stocks-are-collapsing-again-hitting-new-bear-market-lows

    See what happens when bets go wrong in China: http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/10/25/shanghai-homeowners-smash-showroom-in-protest-over-falling-prices/

  30. Fast Eddy says:

    Inside Chernobyl http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/inside-chernobyl/

    When watching this rather disturbing short documentary consider:

    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

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

    In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material – See more at: http://www.dcbureau.org/20110314781/natural-resources-news-service/fission-criticality-in-cooling-ponds-threaten-explosion-at-fukushima.html

    A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel.

    To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7]

    Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).


    Then consider that OOTF and their minions are doing absolutely nothing to prepare us for a post collapse world….

    I think that film helps to understand why….

    • Steve says:

      I would think Fast Eddy that one of the purposes of countries having strategic oil reserves and other fuel reserves is to deal with these kind of problems in a collapse type situation. If governments put maintains fuel ponds/ nuclear reactors as the main priority and used the reserves they (supposedly) have then maybe this could be dealt with even if things were falling apart everywhere else. All available resources (food to be directed to essential workers in these occupations, guards and military to protect them) could be used in a period of 5-10 years which should be enough time to get all the fuel into casking and long term storage.

      Doesn’t the US for example have 6 months of oil usage stored away in several locations (18m barrels x 182 days) and most other developed countries have similar stocks equivalent to their demand and usage? If oil suddenly ran out tomorrow surely what is left would be directed to matters of national security and as you state what is more dangerous then letting these get out of hand?

      • edpell says:

        The strategic reserve is for war fighting not soft liberal eco pond maintenance.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        As Gail previously pointed out… petrol can only be stored for a relatively short period before it spoils….

        Spent fuel ponds need to be maintained for many years — what happens when the 6 months of petrol runs out?

        • abraxis says:

          WRONG – petrol can be stored for many years as long as it is in airtight containers. I have done it. You need to get over yourself a bit.

          • I believe that there is a difference among different kinds of oil products. Diesel stores better than gasoline.

          • John Doyle says:

            Not petrol containing ethanol.

          • notpermiecensored says:

            Propane-good until the tank oxidizes through

            • Fast Eddy says:


              Regardless of how long the petrol can be stored and the generators kept powered up … at some point something in the chain will break — a key spare part is not stockpiled… the petrol for the generators runs out or goes off…

              Then the cooling water stops flowing — and your fuel ponds blow sky high.

            • The spent fuel rods only need to be actively cooled for ~10 years after being removed from the reactor, after that they can air cool – preferably with concrete cask to contain the radiation. I’m sure generators and spare parts can keep going for 10 years, even if the financial system leads to all factories completely shutting down.


            • Fast Eddy says:

              So we can continue to produce electricity post BAU — and for 10 years…. Can you explain how that will happen?

            • “So we can continue to produce electricity post BAU — and for 10 years…. Can you explain how that will happen?”

              First, I don’t believe it is certain that the entire world is going to suddenly, completely collapse into a short, violent struggle for survival.

              Second, I am not saying what will happen, just what could.

              Provided some semblance of law and order is maintained, even if oil production falls, I don’t think it will go to zero suddenly. Diesel generators, along with coal and natural gas power plants, will probably exist for some time after.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              So you are disagreeing with the many articles that Gail has written on this subject?

            • I agree the financial system will inevitably collapse. I disagree on what will happen when it does. Keep in mind, it is all speculative; no one has seen what global financial collapse looks like, and how people will respond.

              The Greeks are practically anarchists – well, they like getting social programs, but they don’t like paying for them. Other than the race issues, America seems much better positioned for the general public to accept the State seizing control and doing what needs to be done. Europe, I’m betting will be individual countries or smaller unions pretty soon.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              So you think the financial system can collapse but we will still have electricity?

              Can you let us know what you think specifically happens when the financial system collapses?

              Do the grocery stores remain open?

              Do we still have jobs?

              Do we still have iphones?

              I am curious….

            • I think it depends on how the politicians and the general public react to the financial system collapsing. Norway has 99% of its current electricity from hydro, so I am confident they will contain the collapse and decline slowly.

              Some western countries will probably end up nationalizing their banking system, even if it is not openly acknowledged – in America, for instance, it would have to be a stealth nationalization due to the public’s ideological obsession with limiting the government.

              China will probably go back to communism. some places will probably fall apart – the MENA area it seems pretty inevitable, since they are so far beyond carrying capacity. Europe will be flooded with millions of refugees from Arab countries, unless they do something to stop it.

              I think if your spent fuel scenario happens, it will be France that has a bunch of nuclear accidents. They are broke, and fairly close to civil unrest already. Add in a few million more refugees, and so many reactors and spent fuel ponds.

              Probably not the same jobs, probably price controls and rationing and martial law with curfews and line ups at gas stations. At least, in the Western Anglo countries.

        • Artleads says:

          I don’t know if he was just indulging me. But I’m in touch with someone who is contracted by the Feds to plan for nuke safety (forgive the oxymoron). I suggested a wide distribution of nearby fuel storage points. The first deposit to be stored would be the first to be replaced. In that way, replacement would be ongoing on a scheduled basis. He said he’d make a note of it. 🙂

      • “Running out” is not the issue with respect to oil supply. Oil supply becomes high priced to extract. We then have a two-way problem:
        1. If oil prices rise, the economy contracts.
        2. If oil prices drop low, prices are too low to continue production.

        Individual countries react differently to this, but the ultimate result is a lot to financial and governmental crashes–oil importers who use a lot of oil in their energy mix are particularly vulnerable. So are oil exporters who cannot withstand low oil prices.

  31. Artleads says:

    As with a brain that has lost some of its normal function, and compensates for it by over-developing another section, I’ve substituted intuition and aesthetic judgement for intellectual analysis and knowledge. Now quite advanced in age, I can say that intuition/aesthetic judgement has been spectacularly prescient. But it is also very incomplete.

    I could appreciate the beauty of a Monet, and that sensitivity would help me see what was destructive or not in landscape changes. But in all this time, I never considered (or even seen) the steam ships or what they imply. And I’ve only recently become a somewhat informed critic of industrial society. Were it not for blogs, I’d understand much less than I do. Maybe the internet works toward creating a collective mind, where everyone must learn and teach. (A newborn baby can teach.)

    Still, I’ll hold out for the artist’s vision as an indispensable one. There’s something about it that tends toward working outside the box. Yet, it must be informed by analysis. An artist can experience art school and have a long career, while never hearing the words, oil, economy, or debt. I would recommend this blog for artists.

    So my artist take on things: We must lovingly work through BAU. There’s is nether beauty nor energy-efficacy in creating new things. We need to love and adapt the old things. As I believe Gail is proposing, we need to examine the entire spectrum of costs throughout the system, and make rational decisions on what’s affordable (thinking outside the box).

    I’m too lazy to go on, and have perhaps said enough. 🙂

    • xabier says:

      But one can observe that many artists, however economically ignorant and – by and large – egotistic, know what a ‘grant’ is….. 🙂

  32. Fast Eddy says:

    Spot The Recovery… According to the World Trade Monitor, world export prices declined by -15.8% year-over-year in April and are back at level last seen in 2009. World import prices have declined by -15.1% year-over-year as well.



    A little bit of string pushing?

  33. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders
    There seems to be a strong group of commenters here to the effect that everything is hopeless, so doing nothing is rational.

    I happen to have just been listening to an interview with Ellen Langer, the Harvard psychologist. Ellen has done many experiments which demonstrate the value of being engaged with life. In one of her early studies, those who were engaged demonstrated improved physiological responses, and turned out to have only half the death rate. In another experiment, men in their 80s from nursing homes showed the physiology of men 20 years younger when they were put into a situation which called on them to behave 20 years younger.

    ‘All affect problems arise from mindlessness.
    Expectations and beliefs determine the whole thing.
    If your mind is healthy, good things can happen.
    Engagement is aliveness.’

    I expect to see more deaths among the ‘hopeless, do nothing’ commenters.

    Don Stewart

    • “I expect to see more deaths among the ‘hopeless, do nothing’ commenters.”

      I expect that everyone will die, some day.

    • alturium says:

      Hi Don,

      I do apologize for sounding, most of the time, downright doomish since you have an abiding sense of hopefulness and an amazing intellect. You definitely bring a balance to the waywardness of our free-flow conversations.

      I started reading and catching up on peak oil at the beginning of 2014. First by finding the defunct The Oil Drum, then reading Nate Hagen and then discovering Gail. Honestly, I stopped even thinking about peak oil back around 1990. I have one book on alternative fuels from 1987. The 70’s definitely shaped my worrying nature, but finally decided that the trigger would be peak oil – for my interest to perk up and to start paying attention.

      A few years ago, a friend of mine would explain QE to me and I would respond “huh, what?” Actually, I understood the principal of liquidity and agreed with the Keynesians. But after I started to catch-up in 2014, our conversations changed subtlety – I would start to describe in better detail what I though was going on (shaped by a lot of ideas but Gail’s charts and good analytical observational and empirical reasoning was a winner for me), and he started to get bored or bothered or something, so I dropped the subject. (in truth, I do obsess). And so it has happened with a lot of people (okay, maybe 25 tops), this same pattern of discussion about we’re in trouble, the system is broke, and so on.

      And now, there are only three people I talk to about these issues (I still have the link to George Monbiot’s article about this subject being a taboo – posted a few months – priceless), One is my mom (she loves all things, great and small, but maybe she is indulging me (however they did move over family to 10 acres in the 70’s in preparations of going native – but my Dad grew up on a farm and soon regained his sanity (or the hydrocarbon lifestyle was too overwhelming plus 3 kids) and the experiment ended – is there really anyone who remembers farming without fossil fuels, living among us now?). The other two are friends who grew up in Russia. One came over in 1989 the other early 90s (the latter: they told no one, no one they were leaving. They left everything in their house and walked out the door). Why is that? I sometimes ask myself. What is different about our life experiences?

      We have to peel back the cause and effect, don’t we? Is it the financial system? Is it our systems of governments? Is it our culture? …is it rooted in our biological and genetic structures? As I said earlier, the traits that make our societies successful are the same ones that bring about total and final collapse. That is the paradox. How do we tell the people of the future, how do we describe to them what it was like living in our era – what we understood – so that they can avoid the same fate?

      My thinking on this subject has evolved over the last year. What I think about the future – colllapse – when and how and where and how big – these are entertaining subjects and suspect that most of here are the Meyers Briggs INTJ types or close (these article made my laugh from Do the Math about this topic: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2015/04/programmed-to-ignore/ ), I am really trying to build an internal model from which I can predict or anticipate. It’s a lot of raw information to process for which I don’t have much experience or time.

      I have come to the current conclusion that many of our behaviors are baked in the cake. It won’t make a difference how much complaining and ranting I do, but perhaps it may help someone else understand or conceptualize. A lot of us are letting off steam, frustrated with the world, frustrated with sociopath leaders, frustrated all around.

      What is the solution? There is none. It’s a predicament. But people like you are priceless, because no matter what happens, life will go on. I know a lot of priceless people – good, smart, wonderful – hopeful – people. But I’m not sure what and how to tell them what I now know. The qualities you talk about will be weeded out in times of crisis. People will drop to a lower level of civility, but the hard-working people, maybe they will have an evolutionary advantage. A lot of this is an intellectual discussion with emotion, but I try not to confuse it with reality.

      A long time ago after much reading I came to the conclusion that there was no way our country could have avoided Vietnam. It’s a funny conclusion, isn’t it? You have to look at the mindsets of the people, and not the little events, but the big picture to find the real cause and effect.

      Again, imagine if you and I were in 1916 as soldiers on the Western front and survived a year (only a year) of fighting in the trenches. Hell on earth. We would be thinking of our homes and family, of many things. What was the sequence of events that would have placed us there? Let us rewind the movie and replay the narrative from the beginning. Look at Europe before (Monet, 1867, Garden at Sainte-Adresse)


      Look at the picture? Wow. I was I could be there. The beautiful garden, the beautiful cloths, sharp suits, embroidered textures, proud national flags, and steam ships (coal burning warships most likely) in the distance. It’s only 1867 in the picture, a little early to start thinking about WW I! So we take our current selves and teleport via a timemachine to 1910 Europe. Us and a few of your books. What success would we have had in changing events? Maybe. Maybe we would have to go back further, say 1867. Or further? Maybe the authorities would have jailed us…most likely, in either era. *sigh*

      How could they have avoided the political calculus to avoid WWI and thus our fate in the trenches? *sigh* That is how I think. I can picture these moments in the future, and I wonder *now* how is this possible that such things will happen. How do we avoid thus an ending?

      Thus my frustration.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear altruism

        May I offer the suggestion to look at the Ellen McArthur Foundation study that is referenced in Ugo Bardi’s current blog post? The study identifies the opportunities for moving to a ‘circular economy’ from a make/ use/ discard economy. Take a look at how little of the energy in a barrel of oil actually ends up moving a human in an automobile. Take a look at how poorly the industrial agricultural and food sector performs in actually nourishing humans. Take a look at the waste in buildings.

        Are you certain that there is nothing we can do? Are you certain that we are ball and chained to continue BAU? And all this is even before we get into Nate Hagens’ notions about moving neurotransmitters and hormones. I won’t claim it would be easy…but nothing worthwhile has ever been easy.

        Don Stewart

        • Circular economy = get rid of diminishing returns, substitute perpetual motion machine?

          • Don Stewart says:

            Did you actually read it? Then I will know how to respond.
            Don Stewart

            • No. I have heard the circular economy story so many times before.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Okay, you haven’t read this particular piece, but you are generally familiar with the notion of a circular economy.

              So let’s take one of the key pieces they looked at–agriculture. They conclude that industrial agriculture is completely off the rails in terms of circular, and that it generates a lot of bad things such as poor health and soil erosion and so forth. They conclude that Agro-Ecology should replace industrial agriculture, and that we should grow as much food as we can as close to where people live as possible. IF that conclusion were implemented, then there would be a lot of implications. Fossil fuel use would plummet, the harvest from solar would increase, soil erosion would stop, water would be clean when it left the farm, health would improve. Lots more people would be growing food, either for home use or for markets.

              You will object that GDP would fall, and debts couldn’t be paid. That’s all true, but it is going to happen regardless. Our best bet is things which don’t pay debts, but return large real benefits.

              If you want to take a close look at what a highly circular homestead looks like, read Will Bonsall’s book. Will does not generate much GDP…below the level which is taxed by the federal government. So he also doesn’t spend very much.

              It is also possible to be a pediatrician and live well without an income which is high enough to be taxed. That is one of the subjects dealt with in Twelve by Twelve. She also lives very frugally. In the olden days, I suppose she might have been a midwife.

              Now let’s look at buildings. They favor two solutions. One is the application of Passiv-Haus type construction. The second is much more efficient usage of the buildings…no more billionaire apartments on Park Avenue which are almost always vacant. The point to Airbnb as a good example of more efficient usage of existing buildings.

              I think that we may be headed toward Twelve by Twelves instead. The Reason? I would point to the kinetic barrier that Capra and Luisi identify…its too hard to get there. Anybody can build themselves a Twelve by Twelve (provided they can get the government and social pressures out of the way). The very small footprint allows heating from body heat plus personal insulation.

              I don’t agree with everything the book says, but it is so much more perceptive than 99 percent of what I read that my hat is off to them. The visual relating the energy in oil to the work we extract from it to move people in cars is worth the price, by itself.

              Don Stewart

          • alturium says:

            Hi Don,

            I am really following in the footsteps of people like Gail and Nate, coming to similar conclusions. These people are lot smarter than me, so please bear with my ignorance. When you mentioned “Nate Hagens’ notions about moving neurotransmitters and hormones.“, it prompted me to remember a recent of his where he talked about substituting our destructive drives with better dopamine substitutes (his was finding agates lol).

            I am referring to his video dated 10/16/2014, Whitehorse Yukon, here on youtube:

            He also talked about the effect of energy costs where he had a slide showing a doubling of energy decreased the number of production units by half. I have not seen much on that idea in particular and he stands in contrast to the traditional neoclassical energy as a 5% input.

            You asked: Are you certain that there is nothing we can do? Don, there is a lot we as individuals can do. We can prepare. We can train and teach. Our technological skills have sharpened for manipulating the basic of nature matter. Future systems will be more efficient. But none of this will avoid collapse.

            War is an apt metaphor. You can be highly trained, have the best weapons, etc, but when you hit the beach at Normandy, wade through the dead bodies, hear the whizzing of bullets inches away, and you finally make the first tide wall to hide and look back over the carnage, what will you think? You will realize you are lucky. Smarter people died on that beach (well, smarter than me!). So will it be in the coming collapse. You can improve your odds slightly, but in the end there are many variables outside your control.

            We can discuss worst case scenarios and hope for regional sanctuaries. There is a lot of wiggle room in some of these observations you made that may allow a slow, civilized descent. Sometimes the margin of success is 1%. It may be possible to have a semi-sustainable economy. But, really, use a little logic. Even if we use 0.1% of our economically available resources every year, we would run out in a 1,000 years.

            Gail is subtle sometimes. When she talks about how we started to overpower the environment when learned how to use fire, and started to exceed our human-density-per-km, she is making a very subtle point. That is, continue that logic for another 1,000 yrs or 10,000 yrs, and look at all diminishing resources…even if we use 0.1%…

            We have moved beyond the individual traits that embed higher survivability to a more macro level. We are now looking at the entire planet over a great time span. When you say Take a look at how poorly the industrial agricultural and food sector performs in actually nourishing humans. you are exactly right! There is a lot of room for improving efficiencies, but even if we reduce our waste by 1000% (0.1% of now), we still have problems, don’t we? I am picturing an expanding cone of probabilities, with a high and low probability curves. In the zone between the curves there is a lot of unknowns and potential positive results. But when both curves dive down due to catabolic collapse, those outcomes become constrained.

            To answer your question Are you certain that we are ball and chained to continue BAU?, I have to say that my thinking is that we should speed things up. Continue to inflate the bubbles. More coal to burn to make our iPhones and solar cells! I know this sounds bad, but we are already doing this, are we not? Look again Figure 14, CO2 emissions by Part of the World. It is yet another data point showing that our system is like a huge dissipative system (earlier i used the phrase dissipative structure, which is not correct!) that is sucking in more resources to survive. Like a huge beast. My thinking is that we will reach the collapse faster and that there will be more resources left for our descendents. The more resources we live in the ground, the more thankful the next 1,000 generations will be. I am also implying something else, but I’m not going to say it.

            • Artleads says:

              Thanks. There’s much I like in what you say. However, as you imply, we don’t have to “speed up collapse” ourselves; it is speeding up by itself through what I can only ignorantly term global-system dynamics. But don’t we need to prepare for and practice alternatives for post-collapse? That aspect of Don’s efforts, I agree with. What I think is dangerous to assume is that western civilization (Empire) cleaned up a little has a serious role in determining the future. In order to be helpful (IMO) it needs to grow some sort of social self-criticism (critique?) that I don’t see it having now. I doubt that I have a good handle on this though.

            • Artleads says:

              I meant to end with this critique of capitalist industrial society (which doesn’t deal with the rest of the world):

        • Artleads says:


          So why is this not convincing? Too abstract? Doesn’t consider the original sin of industrial civilization? Too western, when it’s the western mindset that has led us to this? Where are the poor? Where are the real things of the world–the chewing gum on the sidewalk, the broken glass? I’m really starting to wonder…

          • alturium says:

            Okay, I’m looking at the website…Circular economy would increase European competitiveness … Oh boy, this is going to be a tough read. I am already in a bad mood by its use of language. A circular economy is one that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles. hmm, i can already take a guess where this is headed. more top-down command economy – remove price discovery through open markets (got that phrase from Mr. Stockman) – and replace it with an intelligent bureaucracy…oh hey! I’d better read it!

          • Artleads says:

            What I term “The European Enterprise” (EE) is over. It’s run out of FF as well as moral juice. It’s toxic culture has metastasized into the waters, soils, and atmosphere. It is beyond “fixing.”

            Correction: The patriarchal (Yang) phase of EE may be what’s over., Perhaps the airliner that took off so forcefully sucked in a flock of birds and now must descend. Perhaps that signals an even more admirable phase of EE. But that phase would not be experienced as European hegemony.

        • MG says:

          Circular economy without cheap oil for everyday operation of the system? Not possible… We do not have problem with producing thins: we can produce more and more sophisticated products. The problem is, that the operation of these products needs cheap fuel…

          • MG says:

            When seeing the slowing energy consumption, it comes to my mind that we are reaching another threshold to lower energy consumption. We do not need new products with the same level of energy consumption, when we are loosing the cheap energy. We need the products with ever lower energy consumption. Sooner or later.

            • Don Stewart says:


              ‘We do not need new products with the same level of energy consumption, when we are loosing the cheap energy. We need the products with ever lower energy consumption. Sooner or later.’

              In a nutshell, that is the proposal from the Circular Economy study.

              The visual showing the energy in a barrel of oil, and the amount of work we extract to move a human body in an automobile, illustrates ONE of the problems. The ratio is about a hundred to one. In other words, we are 1 percent efficient moving a human body in an automobile. Much of the Circular Economy report is about radically changing that ratio.

              The SECOND problem is the ‘virtualization’ issue, which is also dealt with in the Circular Economy report. IF the body needs to move in order to do work at some distant location, can we figure out how to ‘virtualize’ the movement with things like communications technology?

              The THIRD problem is what I will label the Nate Hagens Problem. Is the body trying to move from Point A to Point B in order to trigger certain neurotransmitters and hormones? If so, can the neurotransmitters and hormones be triggered by either a more efficient way of moving (e.g., walking or bicycling) or by some method which doesn’t involve moving at all?

              The Circular Economy report does not deal, at least very directly, with the Nate Hagens problem. However, if the report triggered successful changes such as less congestion in cities, then walking and bicycling become much more attractive propositions.

              The reasons for optimism are the extraordinarily wasteful ratios we have today, the ideas we have about how things might be better, and the scientific discoveries in recent decades about neurotransmitters and hormones. The Report lays out the obstacles.

              Greece illustrates additional problems. There is an enormous GDP being used for very wasteful purposes. If the waste goes away, then there is no guarantee that the GDP will be replaced. Which means that the money to pay off debts may not be available. The leaked documents which have become available in the last few days show that both the IMG and Germany knew full well that Greece could never pay its debts. Yet both the IMF and Germany are willing to destroy Greece rather than admit the facts in public. There is something ridiculous in issuing an earnest report on ‘how to survive the reset’ to official bodies which behave as the IMF and Germany have behaved.

              Don Stewart
              PS Think about the graphic on the efficiency of work from oil used to move a human body in an automobile. Now think about BW Hill’s multipliers. IF the amount of oil we can burn declines by 1 unit, and if nothing in the system changes, THEN we have to move 100 units fewer bodies. What the Circular Economy report claims is that we can move more bodies, but the system has to change. Nate Hagens would encourage us to also think about why we want to move bodies at all.

        • MG says:

          The “circular economy” is not the correct name of our situation. Maybe the actual shape is “spiralling down economy”: every circle on the lower energy consumption level and thus every cirle has got a smaller diameter. The human resources are dependent on material resources: the energy creates connections between them. The real connections, not just pixels on the display.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Dear MG
            A ‘circular economy’ which involves human industrial activity has, so far, certainly been a ‘spiraling down’ economy. As I read the Macarthur report, it seems to me that they are trying to reduce fossil fuel use, and, if I remember correctly, they reduce it to a very low level by 2050. I haven’t studied the book closely enough to remember everything they say, but my guess is that they are also reducing the amount of work done by human societies by perhaps an order of magnitude. They spend quite a lot of effort trying to eliminate work:
            *stop moving humans in fossil fueled automobiles
            *move humans in electric vehicles or bicycles or walking when necessary
            *don’t move humans at all unless necessary

            Their solutions for buildings tend toward the PassivHaus kind of thinking….make substantial investments in buildings which are very low maintenance and will last a very long time. They also like the notion of more ‘building sharing’. They point out that both roads and buildings are ‘underutilized’. I believe the utilization of a highway, during rush hour, is below 10 percent when measured by volume of cars. I remember seeing pictures of Beijing during ‘bicycle rush hour’ from 20 or 30 years ago. A given section of street must have had 25 times as many humans as are today encased in automobiles on the same section of street. If you took a picture of midtown Manhattan, I suspect the density of humans on the sidewalks may be 50 times the density of humans in the taxicabs.

            I am revisiting the issue of local food and thermodynamic efficiency that I looked at very closely almost 10 years ago. I find Will Bonsall’s book to be very thought provoking. Will is not such a fundamentalist that he refuses to use chicken wire or solar PV water pumps or leaves that the city picks up in the fall, but he just constantly looks for ways to offload work onto Nature, which IS a Circular Economy. His homestead is basically a Circular Economy, with mostly social connections to the outside world. But he does have a few internal combustion engines, most notably for making wood chips and grinding leaves. He also has electricity now which he didn’t have initially…some of it PV.

            He has certainly achieved a very large reduction in fossil fueled work. Our food system would be radically different if we all followed Bonsall’s example. Of course, when he started during the ‘hippie explosion’ of 1970, the world was a very different place. And he has been working very intelligently now for 40 years to make his land as productive as possible.

            I recommend the Macarthur book for reading mostly because they take a look ‘under the hood’ of what we actually use energy and materials for…not just gross numbers. Of course, I am also impressed that they are smart enough to see that Agroecology (or your favorite brand of biological farming and gardening) really can feed the world.

            Don Stewart

            • alturium says:

              I have read the webpage – “the circular model – an overview”. (apologize for the sarcasm – not aimed at you but at the CE ideas!)

              Without further analysis, I am fairly certain that this what we call a “scam”. There a lot of good and high sounding ideas, wrapped together in a semi-reasonable manner to persuade the less-non-critical thinking types. Made you read another page that made deeper sense.

              all these points to do not make sense:

              1 – Circular economy is a global economic model that decouples economic growth and development from the consumption of finite resources;

              2 – Distinguishes between and separates technical and biological materials, keeping them at their highest value at all times.

              3 – Focuses on effective design and use of materials to optimise their flow and maintain or increase technical and natural resource stocks;

              4 – Provides new opportunities for innovation across fields such as product design, service and business models, food, farming, biological feedstocks and products;

              5 – Establishes a framework and building blocks for a resilient system able to work in the longer term.

              #1 is a myth. Cheap energy is the primary input for generating wealth. I have not seen a reasonable model for describing our economic system. Any model that has price of energy as a constant is wrong. Traditional economists espouse #1, but the last 25 years have clearly debunked it.

              #2 keeping them at their highest value at all times… Oh that is dangerous sounding. Is that the purpose of a open trading in a market? what are the suggesting? They are suggesting a command economy! A bureaucrat, somewhere say…in Brussels…determines the “value” of technical or biological materials.

              #3 thru #5. Again, this is an subversive cover job for creating jobs through bureaucracy. It is doomed. It is, however, natural for an endgame economic system that is encountering diminishing returns.

              These people who write this stuff do not know how the real world works. They are academics who are trying to adapt the current system.

              Let’s look at some “tells” about how they are talking about a command economy, nay neo-feudalism and some other illogical statements…

              Waste does not exist when the biological and technical components (or ‘materials’) of a product are designed by intention to fit within a biological or technical materials cycle, designed for disassembly and re-purposing. LOL, seriously. Hmmm… second law of thermodynamics anyone? …Bueller? It will take more energy to convert any waste back to its state, causing more energy,…What they propose is physically impossible, unless we revert back to the caveman age (with its human-density-per-km limits) and have an economy that is only based on solar energy per sqm per year. Sooo….technically, what they are saying here leads to no economy.

              More integrated food and farming systems … would also increase the demand for human labour. Aha! What we are talking about here is not an industrial economy (why can’t they come out and say it?). It is a farming economy. Where 90% of the people are “employed”. They will be tied to the land since traveling to and from work will waste energy.

              Because more of the flows of materials, goods, and services are valorised in a circular economy and because risk is reduced, the firm is compensated for the reduced upside of efficiency with lower costs, additional cash flows and—in many cases—fewer regulatory concerns (as wastes are eliminated, or are now benign flows). They have no idea or basis for making such a statement. It all sounds good but has no real basis on reality!

              I’m looking at the Circular Economy diagram… http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/circular-economy/interactive-system-diagram

              What is wrong with it? The primary inputs are farming/collection and mining/materials manufacturing! Look at the picture of the truck…how is this even possible? Let’s to a peek at peak mining with Simon Michaux:


              Economically mining is only possible when cheap energy. We have extracted all of all the easy resources – to get more we will have to dig more dirt, haul it, and process it. It’s mathematical. How much energy to get so many microns of materials.

              Another to imagine this situation: we have a dug a hole so deep, that to haul material to the surface requires X amount of energy. The deeper the hole, the more energy required. Where is this energy going to come from? Solar PV? No…I don’t think so.

              A circular economy without mining is a basic economy circa 5,000 yrs B.C.

              How mining is required? What type of economy are really talking about? How do we accomplish the “by design” parts? They are attempting this with a little hand waving and don’t have a real understanding of how real economies work.

            • “Economically mining is only possible when cheap energy. We have extracted all of all the easy resources – to get more we will have to dig more dirt, haul it, and process it. It’s mathematical. How much energy to get so many microns of materials.”

              “A circular economy without mining is a basic economy circa 5,000 yrs B.C.”

              If we can get asteroid mining working, there are trillions of tonnes of high quality ores not too far away. The big challenge is how to get the ores safely down to earth.

            • Stefeun says:

              Very good review Alturium, thanks.
              These people don’t seem to know what energy and entropy really are, neither what their statements really mean (5000BCE but with depleted and threatening environment).

              You’re also right in considering as dangerous to “determine the value of biological materials”. Looks like more and more people are currently trying to shove Nature into the Economy, which is of course impossible, because in reality it’s the economy that’s part of the natural world.

            • Don Stewart says:

              I will take your comments a point at a time.

              My response: Their supporters include Coca-Cola and Renault. You can read the blurb by the CEO of Renault.

              ‘#1 is a myth. Cheap energy is the primary input for generating wealth.’

              My response: At the current time, it seems that the primary input for generating wealth is figuring out how to leverage information. That’s where the big bucks are being made. Among other things, the Ellen MacArthur people are trying to reimagine a world which is very information dense, with information replacing lots of work (e.g., moving stuff around). While working on a small farm, I saw information displace work when we got cell phones.

              ‘#2 keeping them at their highest value at all time’

              My response: I will quote Will Bonsall describing his wheelhoe:
              An incredibly effective and efficient tool for cultivating spaces wider than 14 inches (35.6 cm). Mine was a relic, a wedding gift from an antique tool aficionado. I ignored it for a year or two until I realized what I was missing. Especially for young weeds (under 3 inches, or 7.6 cm) you can get thorough control in a very short time and with comparatively little brawn. If a single pass doesn’t exterminate them a second pass a few sunny hours later will finish off the stragglers, and take half as long as the first. Mine came with a set of five tines on a toolbar, which I can flip over to present a horizontal stirrup knife for the shearing off taproots. Eventually, I came to prefer the latter; indeed I have lost most of the tines and never bothered to replace them, whereas the original stirrup blade wore out from constant and hard use, so I cold-forged another one from slightly heavier bar stock. Unlike a rototiller, the wheel hoe does not ‘osterize’ the soil, but retains much of the crumb structure and does little damage to the useful soil biota.’ Please note that Agro-Ecology uses the stirrup hoe principle rather than the mold-board plow principle. We would not be ‘going back’ to ancient methods.

              I submit that Will’s use of his antique wheelhoe exhibits lots of desirable characteristics. The handles are renewable from Will’s woodlot. Much of the metal is being kept at its highest value. The metal is eventually consumed, but at a very slow rate, and after having enormously multiplied the harvest of plants which are powered by the sunshine. I suppose that, theoretically, we could exhaust our supply of metals building wheelhoes, but it would take a very long time considering the amount of metals we can repurpose.

              Are the ideas presented in the MacArthur report all good ideas? Well, I doubt that. But the CEO of Renault endorses the broad ideas. Indeed, for some metals such as steel, we already recycle quite a lot of it. The whole idea of cradle to cradle design is aimed at reducing the cost of recycling, and, indeed, ‘keeping them at their highest value’. Such goals do not repeal the laws of thermodynamics. But all living systems are open dissipative systems far from equilibrium. So long as the the sun shines and Earth is in the zone where life is possible, that pattern is likely to persist.

              ‘#3 thru #5. Again, this is an subversive cover job for creating jobs through bureaucracy.’

              My response: I can’t comment on European politics. I’m just amazed that any semi-official body would publish such a damning indictment of the car culture and industrial farming. The only thing close that I can think of in the US was Elaine Ingham’s indictment of industrial agriculture about 30 years ago. It initially got an endorsement from the Dept of Ag, which was then rescinded.

              ‘It will take more energy to convert any waste back to its state, causing more energy,…What they propose is physically impossible, unless we revert back to the caveman age (with its human-density-per-km limits) and have an economy that is only based on solar energy per sqm per year. Sooo….technically, what they are saying here leads to no economy.’

              My response: See my description of Will Bonsall’s wheelhoe , and reference to open systems far from equilibrium. On the ‘no economy’ issue. Will Bonsall exemplifies a family which is living in a very small monetary economy, and a large household economy. I have long predicted that reduced energy supplies will force us down that path, and that wise people start rebuilding their household economy now. But Will and his family still use the monetary economy for some things. It’s just that the balance changes.

              ‘They will be tied to the land since traveling to and from work will waste energy.’

              My response: The question of how much travel to and from work can be done in vehicles has no clear answer. The MacArthur report thinks that personal vehicles will be replaced by rented driverless vehicles, which ‘may mostly be restricted to last mile connectivity’. I take that to mean that mass transit, in combination with bicycles and walking, will be the backbone transportation system.

              In the US, you will get the answer from Republicans that such a scenario is ‘socialism’, and that real Americans drive their own cars. Yet the analysis in the report, coupled with BW Hill’s model, strongly indicates to me that the private automobile driven from Point A to Point B is a dinosaur just waiting to die. It is Kunstler’s ‘happy motoring’ meme, and is gasping for air. What we replace it with is up to us.

              ‘What is wrong with it? The primary inputs are farming/collection and mining/materials manufacturing! Look at the picture of the truck…how is this even possible? Let’s to a peek at peak mining with Simon Michaux:

              Economically mining is only possible when cheap energy. We have extracted all of all the easy resources – to get more we will have to dig more dirt, haul it, and process it. It’s mathematical. How much energy to get so many microns of materials.

              Another to imagine this situation: we have a dug a hole so deep, that to haul material to the surface requires X amount of energy. The deeper the hole, the more energy required. Where is this energy going to come from? Solar PV? No…I don’t think so.

              A circular economy without mining is a basic economy circa 5,000 yrs B.C.’

              My response: As I indicate in my write-up, IF some of the big hitters in terms of fossil fuel consumption go away, the ability of society to afford expensive fossil fuels and metals actually increases. How is that possible? Because food becomes the new currency. If a few barrels of expensive oil and a few pounds of expensive steel can greatly expand food production (think of Bonsall’s wheelhoe), then we will invest in them. But we won’t be able to resurrect the enormously wasteful world of happy motoring and industrial agriculture.

              To illustrate the difference in value which might emerge, let’s go back to the time when J.S. Bach was a young man. He walked 250 miles to hear a man play the organ. Today, that walk would be replaced with some electronically transmitted information. In one sense, the world is far less energy intensive now than it was several hundred years ago.


              Humans ARE going to consume all the energy they can get their hands on. BUT, if you allow my basic assumptions about BW Hill and the facts laid out in the MacArthur book, we are going to have a lot less energy to play with. Which means we are going to have to make do with less work. And particularly work done with fossil fuels is going to become very scarce. We can get more work from the sun with Agro-Ecology, but the total work will still decline. You may not like that situation, but that is implied in my basic assumptions.

              Of course, you can make up other basic assumptions to suit your own scenarios.

              Don Stewart

            • alturium says:


              We are both stuck in a pigpen, ankle-deep in mud. You are on one side and I on the other. Between us is the truth, which is a greasy mud-covered piglet. One of us has to get the piglet but it’s proving hard to catch and we’re both exhausted.

              Hmmm…I suspect that you might not fundamentally understand Gail’s informal networked economy (the Leonardo sticks diagram) and what it implies. I will think about this and try to convey my thoughts in a future discussion.

              But keep going after the truth! One of us will get that piglet 🙂

      • James says:

        Fucking downright poetic there Alturium!

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Don – there is hope — and their is fantasy….

      Fact: there are 7B+ people on this planet

      Fact: 98% of all farmland is farmed industrially

      Fact: when collapse comes that land will be sterile – it will grow nothing

      Fact: 7B people need to eat

      Fact: there are billions of guns and loads of ammo in the hands of many of these people

      Fact: most of the 7B will not have access to clean water – there will be no sewage disposal systems – there will be no medicines

      Fact: disease is going to run wild through the 7B

      Fact: spent fuel ponds require BAU to remain managed — barring some sort of miracle they are going to explode when the cooling systems go offline

      I am not sure what there is to be positive about….

      I have a new song…. in light of the situation it is quite absurd… but let’s listen anyway:

      • “Fact: when collapse comes that land will be sterile – it will grow nothing”

        Your “facts” are dependent on everyone panicking and eating each others faces the instant the ATMs stop working. The death of the current financial system may not result in instant pandemonium. Hyperinflations and collapses have occurred quite frequently. There seems to me to be a decent possibility of authoritarian governments taking power and slowly grinding down the population in an orderly manner, while managing the spent fuel ponds.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Your are massively underestimating the scale of the collapse that is coming.

        • xabier says:

          Worth watching Greece now, and making oneself familiar with what happened in Argentina during its crisis and devaluation.

          In only a very short time short time since the banks shut, Greece is already seeing the start of food and fuel shortages, and, most importantly, a spreading unwillingness to trade or trust: restaurants, etc, are running off their food stocks which will not last long, and cannot easily buy more. Theoretically one can use debit cards and not need cash, but acceptance is very variable it appears. Cash is king.

          The next step, if nothing is resolved, is a very sharp rise in crimes such as robbery and kidnapping, all to get money and gold (stored at home by scared people) to buy what’s needed to survive: this happened very suddenly in Argentina. Home invasions, torture: and of course all in the nice – but not particularly rich – neighbourhoods, where there is something to steal.

          My step-mother is Argentinian, have heard it all first-hand, but it’s on the net too, just look.
          The position of women in particular becomes very vulnerable: rapes go up dramatically when the police are not around or are being paid off by the criminals. Indeed, unpaid police have to do some crime in order to make ends meet.

          All sensible Argentines are heavily armed by the way, and still the criminals come (and hence the kidnapping).

          The authoritarian dream is attractive – ‘the government will hold things together in an orderly manner’ – but in a prolonged crisis what is just as likely is a very nasty and insecure life for the mass of people, which becomes the norm, and a state apparatus which is still in place, but often ineffectual and very, very corrupt: police don’t show, everyone takes bribes, and…..dictatorship (elected or not).

          Even self-styled ‘front-runners’ like our friend B9K9 will be very insecure. Rural crime can be horrendous: absolutely no police around, and gangs can pick you off at leisure. Powerful attack dogs are a good idea, the kind that will die to protect you – there was a good reason for domesticating and breeding all those tens of thousands of years ago. Eve little yappy ones give good warning if something is up.

          One thing worth considering is how this sort of crisis would play out in a Scandinavian-style ‘cashless’ economy, which PTB seem to be trying to impose as their next move to lock us all in to the banking system, and, it would appear, to get us happy with the idea of being tagged for life so as to be able to buy stuff -or, I suspect, receive our inadequate state rations from closed supermarkets acting as distribution centres…

          And all this happens when the flow of goods and energy is still, more or less, intact, not in real break-down a la Fast Eddy.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Good points.

            I have a friend who is from an entrepreneurial family in Venezuela — 3rd generation immigrants — their entire family has had to leave because of serious threat of kidnapping… they have abandoned their family businesses

    • The phenomenon you are talking is probably related to the fact that the death rate for single men is a whole lot higher than the death rate for married men of the same age.

      • Don Stewart says:

        She is a tenured professor. She knows how to do control groups.
        Don Stewart

        • I am afraid I am not a tenured professor. I have been an insurance actuarial consultant most of my life. I can and have taught courses and given individual lectures, but I am not generally a university employee. My husband is a tenured professor.

          • Don Stewart says:

            The key points are the control group and statistical significance. Few people in the social sciences can get tenure unless they know how to do those things. To ‘guess’ that they set up an experiment poorly, and didn’t interpret the statistical significance correctly, is not a very wise thing to do, in my opinion.

            Don Stewart

          • kesar0 says:

            Is it your husband?
            Does he share your opinion about the future? LTG boundaries being crossed?

            • No. Tverberg is my maiden name. My husband’s last name is different.

              My husband asks me generally about what I write, but he doesn’t read what I write, and he doesn’t argue about my findings.

    • James says:

      “I expect to see more deaths among the ‘hopeless, do nothing’ commenters.”

      Perhaps in fact, the ‘hopeless, do nothing’ commenters, will simply be doing the right thing then, and you, in your stubborn resistance to the fact of your own mortality and smug observation that you were right and they were wrong, will be wrong in the end.

      Perhaps the question then becomes who will know and who will care? And what care I anyway, since living as long as I am able with as many advantages as I can possibly accrue along the way is the very point of it all anyway, is it not?

      My response to which is: good luck with that. You’re in good company, as the better part of the 7B+ are right there alongside with you, as they’ve been sold that same line of crap for at least the last 75 years years or so that western capitalism has been ascendant. Granted, you’ve probably got a few more resources as an educated and presumably at least moderately wealthy first worlder to fall back on, but I think you’ll likely be amazed at the tenacity of young up and coming third worlders with nothing to lose once they get the taste for western blood lust for economic domination and personal enrichment.

      Whether or not the 21st century marks the end of humanity, western civilization, capitalism, socialism, or whatever it is that comes next I have absolutely no idea, although I’ve got some pretty strong suspicions. But what I am fairly certain of already so early on in this new century is that we’re experiencing a social revolution of an unprecedented magnitude that is going to dissolve the political consensus necessary to maintain the current capitalist industrial mindset, with its focus on “favored” and “exploitable” markets. Add to that the fact that the natural resource base that made all of that possible in the first place is rapidly drying up, and you have what can only be referred to as a dead and dying lifestyle, much like Great Britain 100 years before us, although the US was little more than the continuation of BAU in the same vein at a suitably exponentially increased rate.

      In the end, we will be like all generations. Not long missed nor remembered. Just as it should be.

      • alturium says:


        Great points!

        emphasis mine:

        But what I am fairly certain of already so early on in this new century is that we’re experiencing a social revolution of an unprecedented magnitude that is going to dissolve the political consensus necessary to maintain the current capitalist industrial mindset, with its focus on “favored” and “exploitable” markets.

        We usually forget what “social revolution” implies, the chaos it brings. The masses of people immigrating, the increase in terrorists acts, the breakdown of nation-states, etc. Look at Egypt and Syria…both countries that have passed their peak production (and export) of oil…What countries are next? What if the truth was that Greece will never recover, as the IMF had promised back in 2010?

        The events centered around Saudi Arabia…ISIS to the north, Iran to the north-east, hezbollah to the west, yemen to the south…they themselves a repressive regime. It’s like a pot of water boiling and the lid keeps popping up to let off steam…there is real trouble brewing that will be exacerbated as oil starts peaking (or in KSA case, as more it is used domestically). Of course, this trouble has always been there… but add in diminishing returns and economic decline…social revolution.

        • The Arab nations have grown their populations ~1000% in ~75 years by trading oil for food. As they consume more themselves, their production levels decline, and the price of oil goes down, they lose the ability to provide all the things to their people that they have been. The only way they could avoid revolts is if the West gave them food for free, since they can no longer pay.

          • kesar0 says:

            I agree. This is the most crucial dilemma. In fact all oil-exporting countries have the same problem – living from natural resources inheritance is a short-term tactics. US is pushing all parties (Russia, arab states, Venezuela) to let their thechnology access those resources in order to maximize the output. In other words they are saying: our financial model goes bunkrupt, so we need cheaper energy from you. But energy-exporters are saying: we need a lot of income to fulfill our internal consumption promises.
            Russian want to play their own game. They want to exchange energy for political/military domination. Putin’s dissertation thesis was “MINERAL AND RAW MATERIALS RESOURCES AND THE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY”. He knows how to trade.
            At some point it must explode, though. We’ll see when and how.

  34. Fast Eddy says:

    Listening to http://www.audible.com/pd/History/The-History-of-the-Ancient-World-Audiobook/B00CYNMAIG

    Basically this is 1000+ years of man viciously battling to survive…. and the leaders of the winning sides….

    One could write a similar history of bacteria … the heroes would have been the individuals that adapted and overcame such and such version of an antibiotic using ingenious tactics to defeat this great enemy….

    ‘And X bacteria was wisely able to take advantage of the enemies failure to defeat his strain by not finishing the full course of antibiotics … and X bacteria used this open to strengthen his forces growing stronger and overwhelming the opponent….’

    We are not much different — other than that we keep records (but then perhaps so do bacteria…do they not pass along their genetic mutations in their DNA…what does it matter if you write things down or not)

    • Stefeun says:

      Yes Eddy,
      Bacteria keep track of their history in their DNA, while we humans have managed to increase our adptability thanks to socio-cultural evolution, that has many parallels with genetic evolution of the species.

      See for example, the languages:
      “Across the Curious Parallel of Language and Species Evolution”
      by John Whitfield (2008)
      “…“Cultural change and biological change share the same fundamental properties of variation, selection and inheritance,” he says—adding that other processes, such as the workings of the immune system, or learning and memory, might follow the same rules.”

      • Fast Eddy says:

        This touches on the issue of free choice…

        Is there such a thing? Or do we simply do things because we are following our survival instincts which are influenced by our environments?

        Just as some individual bacterium are more robust than others in their community they are more likely to survive… but also if their environment is more conducive to growth (e.g. warmer or damper) they again have an advantage over their community competitors…

        Likewise with humans no two are the same — and some are more successful due to where they were born — and by which environmental conditions encountered during one’s life….

        Ultimately are we — just like bacteria (or any other living thing) — ultimately driven by our DNA?

        • Stefeun says:

          Yes Eddy,
          I’m of those who think that free will is a kind of illusion.
          We can feel like we’re making choices, but we’re not conscious -nor responsible- of all the causes that brought us to make a given choice. These causes are genetic, but not only; I think the environmental ones (at large) take a much bigger share.

          Spinoza said (some 450 years ago):
          “In the mind there is no absolute or free will;
          but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause,
          which has also been determined by another cause,
          and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.”

          Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:
          “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free
          but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”

  35. Fast Eddy says:

    When animals born in a zoo are released into the wild…. they die…

    Because they lack the skill and knowledge to survive…

    Think about that with respect to modern man….

  36. dolph9 says:

    My thinking is more along the lines of Fast Eddy.
    You cannot take the last 30-40 years and then extrapolate that endlessly out into the future (automation, corporate control, population growth, managed decline, etc.).
    If it’s true that we face a discontinuity, and I believe we do, then it’s a discontinuity full stop. Yes, the model will be stair step, but one will be surprised how fast it all unravels at just one little bankruptcy in a small nation or business, flapping its wings and then the rot makes its way to the center.

    In all my actions I plan to keep one foot in and one foot out. No way I’m giving up modern conveniences, but I will do the minimal amount necessary to keep them going. It is, of course, much less than people think, but key things not to overlook include security and local sources of water and food.

    Once you get those taken care of, you just sit back and watch TSHTF, so to say. You have to think, what do I do and spend on every single day, and get that down to the absolute minimum.

  37. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders
    Prompted by JMG’s blog this evening

    I would like to expand a little on my description of Will Bonsall’s self-sufficiency strategy in Maine and JMG’s reference to David Holmgren and Su Dennet’s strategy in Australia and JMG’s assertion that ‘it is too late now’.

    Bonsall (as well as the Holmgren household) have designed closed loops within a very small geographic area. If you fly over the midwestern US today, you cannot imagine a closed loop over anything short of a continent. For example, the irrigation from the Ogallala to support a mono crop of corn supported by huge industrial machines is just about the opposite of a closed loop. Bonsall’s closed loop uses the resources from woodlands and grasslands to support the garden land that grows the food that human guts need. To find gardens and grassland and forests on the same property, you need to look (in the US at least) to small, diversified farms. Time was when every midwestern corn belt farm had a wood lot. Earl Butz did his best to eliminate all that nonsense. Today, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that much of the corn and wheat belts have chosen a dead-end strategy. Even the farms will not be able to sustainably produce food.

    In the meantime, David Holmgren’s earnest promotion of suburbs (particularly the older, post-WWII suburbs) as food growing centers has mostly been ignored. I have a dozen opportunities each week to get out and support urban, local food…but the reality is that the overwhelming amount of food still comes in on 18 wheelers every day. Perhaps one percent of the people in my metropolitan area can grow any significant amount of food.

    I suggest that you make a mental calculation. How many farms have both fruit and vegetable gardens, grasslands, and woodlands? How many urban and suburban households can actually grow a significant amount of food.

    I expect that the results are likely to be depressing….Well, maybe JMG is just wrong?

    Don Stewart

    • James says:

      Like most of us, he’s probably both right and wrong. It’s almost certainly too late to reengineer your entire life and lifestyle into some sort of idyllic 70s hippy commune, where everyone chants koombaya around the campfire at night and the barbarians are magically forever kept at the gate by powers unknown. But then again, that was never likely to happen for any of us anyway. I think the ability to prepare for what’s coming next is likely limited to getting your mind right for massive systemic disruptions mixed in with prolonged periods of punctuated equilibrium. And coming to terms with the idea that “the other people” we know who will be dying sooner rather than later will in all likelihood include us as well. Personally, I think the foolish idea of trying to survive what’s coming next for as long as possible is just that – foolish. The best “solution” a member of an invasive species (which has single-handedly caused all the problems we’re faced with today) can implement is to be a part of the larger solution, which is to say, the die-off.

      • James says:

        I see everything else, especially the techno-triumphalism hogwash that’s bandied about everywhere, as nothing more than classic bargaining behavior. “If we could just…” But we can’t. Period. Full stop. There’s too damn many of us and the point is not negotiable. The earth and the universe are already telling us the plain, unvarnished truth; but as usual, we simply refuse to hear it. Further, simply retracing our way back down the population slope likely ain’t gonna get it done either, although that will be for future generations – if there are any – to find out. Like a proverbial plague of locusts, albeit much, much worse, we’ve ran through all our resources and despoiled our environment for centuries, if not millennia. Not much of a legacy, is it?

      • James says:

        All that said, I think Greer made his primary point – the madness of viewing the universe and the biosphere as a machine – exceedingly well. This mechanistic view of the world goes hand in hand with western capitalism and the worship of technology, which both view the world as something to be studied, figured out, then exploited for personal gain. That worldview worships greed, acquisition, control, and hubris – all under a hierarchical banner – using the first three to justify the latter. It puts mankind at the center of its mythology and thus explicitly justifies every manner of degradation we impose on the biosphere and the other species. It’s also very likely the metaphorical “Beast” that the biblical Book of Revelations was referring to, so it was a concept that even a comparatively “primitive” mind could intuit and fundamentally comprehend. The only question now is, who was actually the primitive in this scenario?

      • ” the barbarians are magically forever kept at the gate by powers unknown”

        The magic powers are called guns. You point them at things and fire until they go away.

        “The best “solution” a member of an invasive species”
        Do you think we come from an alien world? Ancient Aliens? Where exactly are we “invading” from?

        • Artleads says:

          “The magic powers are called guns. You point them at things and fire until they go away.”

          And it’s hard to figure out which came first–the European or the gun? (Even if the Chinese invented gunpowder) But I see it as pointless. The proximate cause of planetary destruction is European domination. IF there is some sort of remedy for this destruction, the European must own up to the catastrophe his reign has wrought. I believe that, very paradoxically, the European can lead whatever “recovery” is feasible, but this time leading from behind, putting women first, and restoring to native peoples their lands and their sovereignty.

          • “And it’s hard to figure out which came first–the European or the gun?”

            The gun is the turning point, where Europeans went from continually being the victims of foreign invasions, to becoming the invaders themselves.

        • Artleads says:

          “The gun is the turning point, where Europeans went from continually being the victims of foreign invasions, to becoming the invaders themselves.”

          And now they’ve turned against themselves and the entire living world.

        • James says:

          “Do you think we come from an alien world? Ancient Aliens? Where exactly are we “invading” from?”

          Good points, for we do seem to act like that, don’t we? We are invasive in that our brains and thus our technologies have allowed us to invade habitats the world over in which we don’t belong and displace native species that were better and naturally suited to inhabit them in the first place. As the technologies go away, so will we, although the displaced species in most cases are not so lucky to return.

      • B9K9 says:

        James, I like it when you’re on a tear – great perspective. However, aren’t all life forms ultimately ‘invasive’ species that are motivated to consume resources and procreate? If humans are no different than yeast (or rats), then why the special disdain for the bald ape?

        It is what it is; those of us alive today won the grandest lottery of all. If not for the advent of fire, we’d most likely all still be swinging in trees. But we did end up controlling fire, and the die for the future everyone on this board can see was cast long, long ago.

        Getting upset, annoyed, depressed, resigned, exasperated, etc are all just a range of emotions no better suited for us than if they were directed at a pride of lions hunting zebras.

        • pukingelephant says:

          “If humans are no different than yeast (or rats), then why the special disdain for the bald ape?”
          Because we know better. along with consciousness comes responsibility.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            All evidence points to the conclusion that we do not ‘know better’ — we behave no differently than other life forms…

            If we have the resources we breed faster than rats… we are prolific at pumping out more mouths if they can be fed.

            The only difference between us and other animals is that we have bigger brains and we have used them to increase our food supply using unsustainable methods….

            Therefore instead of a gentle culling of the herd…. most if not all of us get to die when the artificial means of producing food are no longer available.

            People need to get over this nonsense that humans are somehow superior — in most ways we are actually inferior to other species – our big brains and our cleverness (and our hubris) will be our downfall.

            Bravo mankind … bravo!!! We will one-up the lemmings!


            • Ann says:


              If you could bring down this networked world-wide civilization and thereby save the rest of the species, would you do it?

            • Fast Eddy says:


              1. Because that would mean the rest of my life would be nasty brutish and short…

              2. Because I really have no problem with the human species being wiped off the face of the earth. I believe we are a freak show with big brains and that we have used these brains to ruin a fantastic planet. The sooner we are gone the better (although I’d rather that played out 3 decades from now because I am a typical selfish human)

              I am endlessly amused when we humans — having realized we have spoiled the earth — believe we deserve to find another wonderful planet and move there… take the freak show on the road heheheh…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Indeed – how fortunate are we to have been born into the brief window of time when billions live like kings!

          Just think — if you were born 150 years earlier you’d almost certainly be living a life of drudgery — washing clothes by hand, no pick up truck to haul stuff around the farm, no concrete, no electricity (yes – even Scott Nearing was living like a king!) … comparative studies put people who lived in the 1800’s on the roughly same level as a peasant in Bangladesh… (I don’t imagine the Green Brigade would care much for that sort of life eh….)

          Or imagine what life would have been like if you were born 30,000 years ago — every moment consumed with finding food …. living in a cave or a straw hut…. worshiping the sun because the night brought cold and predators…. (that’s what sustainable living looks like — forget Nearing — strip down and run off into the forest and try to live off the land if you want to be true to the cause)

          We have most definitely won the lottery! We have little to complain about…

          • Stilgar Wilcox says:

            That’s a very positive and accurate viewpoint, F.E.

            Enjoy the Oil Age while we can because the luster is fading fast. Soon it will be back to oil lamps, draft animals, polka music square dancing, a roll in the hay, is that beer fermented yet?, hard labor, no AC or central heat, one broken down communal small truck you drive once a year 5 miles max., another person died from lack of anti-biotics, pulling teeth instead of filling them and no crowns or root canals, my turn again to guard the silo, hair looks crappy using this farm made soap, cloths have to be sewed instead of replaced, shoes are wearing crooked in this hard dirt we till, no techie entertainment, you can hear the wind rustling the leaves because it’s otherwise so quiet…

            • “pulling teeth instead of filling them”

              Whoa, just what do you think all those gold coins and bars are going to be used for once no one cares about money? Obviously, fillings.

        • James says:

          Getting upset, annoyed, depressed, resigned, exasperated, etc are all just a range of emotions no better suited for us than if they were directed at a pride of lions hunting zebras.


          Thanks for the compliment, but disagree with the above. None of the other species are able, as far as we know, to engineer their environments (and taking as an article of faith that all sub-species thus affected are a presumptively theirs to affect) ahead of time with a specific future goal in mind. And they certainly haven’t developed advanced symbolic economic systems that allows them to trade resources – past, present, and future – in such a way that they can store the cumulative results in imaginary accounts for further trading of higher orders still, later. Human beings are certainly not “a pride of lions hunting zebras” in any possible conceivable sense, other than some fat-assed wealthy western capitalist’s alcohol-infused African safari dreams.

  38. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders

    I would like to tell you about Will Bonsall’s strategy for sustainable gardening. Will has been living on a self-sufficient homestead in Maine for more than 40 years. During that time he has bought very little in the form of inputs, and sold very little off the farm. He has very significantly increased the soil organic matter, thus sequestering carbon. He uses very little fossil fuels compared to conventional farmers. In 40 years he recalls buying two bags of lime and 20 pounds of borax.

    Before he started his own farm, he visited the Rodale farms in Pennsylvania. He was not impressed. The Rodale farms were bringing in ‘organic’ inputs from great distances. Will did not believe such practices to be sustainable.

    Will’s farm can be roughly divided into three sections: vegetables and grains and fruits to feed humans; grasslands to feed the microbes which grow the grass which provides mulch and compost material and feeds birds and insects which help with his garden; and forests which provide wood for fuel and for building and also ramial wood chips for mulching and compost. The section which feeds the humans is not sustainable on a stand alone basis…it is not eco-efficient in Will’s language. However, it is, for better or for worse, what we evolved to eat. The eco-efficient sections are the grassland and especially the forest. Will’s goal is to make the total farm self-sufficient, with no necessary addition of inputs, and with fossil fueled machines reduced to the extent that makes sense.

    (I also want to comment on the benefits of the relatively wild lands for birds and insects near the gardens. I sometimes watch a farming series sponsored by Oregon State. One of their segments featured ‘pest control’ strategies. One of the farms was a huge mono crop ‘organic’ farm in California kept ‘clean’ with various organic approved methods. Another was a small patch of gardening land surrounded by fairly wild nature in Oregon. The California plot had lots of pest problems. The Oregon plot did not. A related topic is competition from deer and other herbivores. Will encourages coyotes, which live in the grasslands and woodlands. My son in the western suburbs of Atlanta reports lots of coyotes.)

    Let me add parenthetically that Wes Jackson at the Land Institute in Kansas has located a neighborhood hay field which has been hayed, but not grazed, for 50 years with no inputs. So Will’s observations about the surplus produced by grassland is accurate.

    I should also note that Will likes his grassland…which is consistant with the notion that humans’ early evolutionary history prepared us to think savannas are beautiful.

    Let’s look more closely at Will’s strategy for his grassland.

    First, he covers the earth with plants. If some particular section contains less than vigorously growing plants, he investigates and takes corrective action such as making piles of ramial wood chips, much like cow patties in a field. He may also use some ash from his wood fires. In addition, he may use terraces and other earthworks to improve water management.

    Second, if a section of a field is not doing well, he can seed in clover, which partners with microbes to fix nitrogen. After a while, with increased nitrogen availability, the grasses beign to compete more vigorously with the clover, and the clover dies back. Then the field achieves a stable mixture of grasses and clovers, at maximum productivity.

    Third, the addition of ramial wood chips from his forest to the grassland will yield outsized returns in the form of increased productivity.

    Fourth, unlike dairy farmers who are trying to maximize milk, Will is striving for maximum diversity, including ‘weeds’ such as daisies, buttercup, mustard, and milkweed, as well as quack grass and foxtail millet.

    Fifth, the grass thrives on frequent mowing. Most of the grass is underground, and mowing just stimulates more growth.

    Sixth, the frequent mowing gives Will lots of compost and mulch material, which is high in nitrogen. When combined with the high carbon material from the forest, the combination is excellent for the nutrient deficient fields which feed the humans.

    I hope this clarifies the issue of whether all agriculture must of necessity be ‘unsustainable’. A field of corn is ‘unsustainable’ if you draw your boundary around the field of corn. But a farm with some grassland and some forest and some corn can be sustainable. You can read Will’s book to learn all the techniques he has developed, but keeping closed loops on his own land is a very key underlying principle.

    Don Stewart

  39. Greg Machala says:

    I have been reading some of the comments about what to expect after an economic collapse. Though it will likely be very unpredictable and wrought with the unexpected, one common event after disasters is riots and fires. If there is no Fire Dept. to extinguish the flames, then entire cities could literally go up in smoke in short order. What a mess. I see a lot of concern with nuclear fuel pools but the threat of fire seems to be just as ominous.

    • ” I see a lot of concern with nuclear fuel pools but the threat of fire seems to be just as ominous.”

      A few suburbs burning is not at all the same as a Chernobyl, Fukushima, or potentially far greater contamination. Once an area is irradiated, it will slowly kill everything there for centuries. The animals that move in afterwards will accumulate horrible mutations, generation after generation. Compare the Dresden firebombing to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Hardly comparable.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        My understanding of this issue is that a spent fuel pond is a totally different animal than Chernobyl….

        Spend fuel ponds contain massive amounts of dangerous materials whereas an active reactor contains relatively little.

        Chernobyl was entombed in concrete — I do not believe you can entomb a spent fuel pond in concrete (otherwise why don’t we simply store spent fuel rods in concrete… as indicated in some of my earlier posts you cannot dry cask — which is basically entombing in concrete until the fuel has cooled for many years)

        When a spent fuel ponds is not managed it will explode releasing massive amounts of radiation — for decades….

        • There is a big difference between dry casking fuel rods, and cementing in an entire reactor complex. You probably could build a cement sarcophagus around an entire spent fuel pond, but it would cost billions and need to be replaced every so often; it is really a desperate last measure, not something someone would plan to do. The sarcophagus at Chernobyl will need to be replaced, probably several times over the next several centuries, or it will release much more radiation.

          We really need a big push to shout down the NIMBYs that endanger us all, and finally get some work done on long term storage and disposal plans. If there is one thing we could do with the final days of BAU, I think decommissioning the reactors and storing the spent fuel securely is it. The German government seems to agree.

          • John Doyle says:

            Regardless of the safety or danger of spent fuel rods it all points out just how important it is going to be to have a plan!!! No plan = Chaos, absolutely 100% guaranteed.

          • edpell says:

            If the SHTF I am going to pick up some spent nuclear fuel rods for winter heating.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            “You probably could build a cement sarcophagus around an entire spent fuel pond”

            You could probably fly if you jumped off a 10 story building….

            If you are going to make statements and be taken seriously …. you need to provide some evidence…

            The elites would obviously know the spent fuel ponds are a problem…. and they are doing nothing … because they know that there is nothing they can do…. extinction event.

            • You asked why they don’t build cement sarcophagi over all the spent fuel ponds. The Chernobyl Sarcophagus used “More than 400,000 m3 of concrete and 7,300 tonnes of metal framework were used during the erection of the sarcophagus.” – from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Nuclear_Power_Plant_sarcophagus

              The replacement Sarcophagus, since the other one is failing, is overrunning its ~$1 billion projected cost already, to over 2 billion euros:

              So, if they built 1000 of these over spent fuel ponds, it would cost trillions of dollars and use hundreds of millions of cubic meters of cement, and millions of tonnes of steel. On top of which, all the NIMBY people would protest at least as hard as they do against long term storage facilities.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              At Chernobyl the ponds were not involved in the accident — and attempts are still being made to recover and store all of these rods…. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Chernobyl_fuel_transfer_milestone-0210134.html

              I have pointed out earlier the spent fuel ponds are exponentially more dangerous than a reactor because they contain tonnes of spend fuel rods while a reactor holds relatively little

              “There should be much more attention paid to the spent-fuel pools,” says Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer and president of the anti-nuclear power Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “If there’s a complete loss of containment [and thus the water inside], it can catch fire. There’s a huge amount of radioactivity inside – far more than is inside the reactors. The damaged reactors are less likely to spread the same vast amounts of radiation that Chernobyl did, but a spent-fuel pool fire could very well produce damage similar to or even greater than Chernobyl.”


              Back to the drawing board Matthew….

            • First of all, I was saying that the sarcophagi solution is too expensive and impractical, that dry casking and long term storage is a far more reasonable solution.

              Second, right in your quote it clearly says “If there’s a complete loss of containment [and thus the water inside], it can catch fire.” The entire purpose of a sarcophagus is to prevent the loss of containment.

    • I am not sure. There are a lot of brick and stone buildings where buildings are close together. You are right, though, that about fire spreading easily if the buildings are flammable and close together. If people are using fires to cook food and for light, then the danger is that much greater.

  40. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders

    We hear the repeated claim that anyone who is in any way connected to BAU is essentially doomed in the coming Collapse. I hope to put some realism around that statement. I’ll use the example of Will Bonsall, who homesteaded a farm in Maine 40 years ago. He is now 65 years old, and has published Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening.

    Will is not a gardener in the usual sense of somebody with a day job who dabbles on the side, and he is not a farmer because he doesn’t sell his products off the farm to support himself. He doesn’t have livestock. What he has is several acres, much of it in forest, some of it intensively gardened. His monetary income (which comes mostly from selling seeds and from speaking fees and the publishing of one book), has never been enough that he has had to pay federal income tax. He states that his plan is to be able to afford to have a very low monetary income because he is getting such large rewards from the land.

    Bonsall is obsessed with several key considerations. He wants his property to yield net energy, and he wants it to conserve the mineral content of his soil. So, for example, he gives a detailed explanation of his outhouse and what to do with the humanure. He does make use of some fossil fuels, but acknowledges that, eventually, we humans will have to get along without them. Which explains his obsession with net energy.

    Key elements in his soil nutrition plan include deciduous leaves and ramial wood-chips. Leaves and brush are provided in overwhelming abundance by the wooded sections of his farm. However, he uses a chipper to grind the leaves and chip the brush. The chipper is driven by a walk behind tractor, which also stirs (rather than turns) the soil. Using the chipper makes perfect sense today while fossil fuels and industrial products are abundant. While a fundamentalist may wish to condemn the man at this point, such condemnation is, in my opinion, not worth listening to. The real question is whether Bonsall has a farm and the personal skills which will enable him to survive the Collapse. He relates the story of going into town to pick up a load of fall leaves, and meeting a woman and asking if he could have the leaves piled up by the street. She replied ‘No, I need them for my garden’. Further conversation revealed that ‘she had no formal system for shredding or composting; she merely said ‘I mull them over from time to time’. That had been her system for years, and the heavy-feeding cabbages and leeks I saw testified to her success. The huge pile of leaves in her yard was waiting to be converted into next year’s sauerkraut.’ (The small farm I worked at used a similar ‘non-method’.)

    Now, so far as I know, making use of brush, in the absence of a chipper, would be a challenge to Bonsall. But if he loses the chipper, the leaves will still be there for him to ‘mull over’ from time to time. And if he has an orchard, he can take care of the ramial branches with a pair of Felcos and his hands at pruning time. I imagine he will do pretty well.

    Bonsall explains how he selects trees from his forest to turn into useful wooden objects in his house. Very little has been purchased. It is true that he uses a chain saw, but the chain saw substitutes for a long supply chain which begins with a skidder to get the trees out of the woods and into the sawmill. The ratio of his fossil fuel expenditures to the BAU supply chain is probably 1 to 100.

    I won’t go into all the details of his daily life to illustrate the frugality involved. I think 40 years without income tax is enough to stir your imagination…and prompt you to buy the book if you are interested.

    Don Stewart

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Does he include a chapter on how an old man will defend his crops from the starving hordes?

      I’d be interested to his thoughts on that….

  41. Don Stewart says:

    From page 290 in Capra and Luisi:
    ‘The extensive explorations of the relationships between science and spirituality over the past three decades have made it evident that the sense of oneness, which is the key characteristic of spiritual experience, is fully confirmed by the understanding of reality in contemporary science. Hence, there are numerous similarities between the world views of mystics and spiritual teachers and the systemic conception of nature that is now being developed in several scientific disciplines.’

    Many of the religions that people have developed have singled out their own tribe as somehow unique. They are the ‘original people’, they were ‘always here’, and so forth. The current religion in Washington, DC, is that Americans are ‘the chosen people’…Obama said so to the United Nations.

    It follows that all of creation is meant to serve the needs of ‘the chosen people’. The Pope’s encyclical attempts to partially demolish that religion. Of course, as the head of a huge religion, he probably can’t go all the way in the direction of the mystics. The Catholic Church is still suffering from the ravages perpetrated by the Scholastics, in the opinions of Capra and Luisi.

    Capra and Luisi recommend this article as an explication of spirituality:


    I’d be careful of thinking that the various religions which have been developed are somehow ‘more real’ or ‘better guides’ than either a spiritual approach or the overlapping ‘modern science’ approach.

    Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      “Many of the religions that people have developed have singled out their own tribe as somehow unique. They are the ‘original people’, they were ‘always here’, and so forth. The current religion in Washington, DC, is that Americans are ‘the chosen people’…Obama said so to the United Nations.”

      I’ve had some thoughts on this. We should have figured this out 500 years ago, when it was clear that the major terrain of the planet had been mapped. But better late than never.

      I can see how people who were confined to a small area would see themselves as separate and apart. And at odds and in competition with “the other.” But now we’re very clear that we all share a tiny spherical home in space. Why can’t we still see ourselves as one? Now, we even have the potential new “other” that we should all be at odds with. A predatory elite playing on memes that are now outdated, to control and divide us. Climate change and habitat loss. And more. Why aren’t we united in fighting these things? Well, for one thing, we haven’t faced up to our useless and destructive memes. And many of these are deeply entrenched and subconscious. You could even call them trances.

      It’s been said that we must choose between one trance or another; we cannot avoid entrancement. Well it seems that we badly need to change the trance we’re under for something that gives us a better chance of survival.

      • xabier says:

        We are deluded.

        And lazy.

        And if the civilisation we enjoy is a kind of trance’, then it’s a lovely one for most people and all the poor of the world want some of that air-conditioning and fast travel.

        As Renoir said: ‘People have hands, feet and eyes, and don’t want to use them.’

        One might add: ‘They have mirrors, and don’t want to look in them’…….

        But then, when Jamshid, of Persian myth, looked into his magical mirror – which showed him everything which transpired in the world – he merely became conceited and thought himself creator and ruler of the world.

        He came to a sticky end.

        • Artleads says:


          While we still have forums like this, we can only try to keep each other on a useful path and from going astray.

  42. B9K9 says:

    @Paul asks “I do not understand what your post-collapse world looks like. Perhaps you could elaborate.”

    First of all, I’m not a subscriber to collapse; rather, I believe we’ll continue to see a stair-step descent to ever reduced circumstances. With that preface, I’ll elaborate on what a post-BAU world will look like: neo-feudalism. Medieval society was based on fealty – pledges of support for security. That’s the carrot; horrific torture was the stick.

    The basic human impulses, desires and passions haven’t changed since before we diverged from our common ancestor with chimps. So the only real challenge for the PTB is to design a system that (a) delivers sufficient calories to stave off starvation, and (b) generates adequate periods of endorphin release to keep everyone happy. In exchange for this ‘comfort security’, fealty to an established order will be mandated.

    The obvious investment plays are to not only continue being fully long in all asset classes, but to also recognize which favored industries will benefit. Why are Apple, Google, Facebook, et al so valuable? Because they are a two-fer: they deliver incredibly cheap entertainment while providing critical feedback & surveillance to the security state. Combine those types of firms with companies like Monsanto that are essential to developing GMO food stuffs, and all the basic pieces are present manage 7B+ on a very reduced basis.

    I know it doesn’t sound sexy or exciting, or appeal to great desires to be “free” (whatever that means), or exact satisfying vengeance on evil doers, but unfortunately for egoists, it’s how the world is going to evolve. So, for those who want to participate & play, the challenge is to position oneself in each of the major categories that will thrive under this new world order.

    • kesar0 says:

      What you describe is post-orwellian (1984) world. You don’t mention what happens before. It very rarely worked like this in history. The civilizations collapse, not peacefully go down by “steep-stairs”. At some point the elite will face the inevitable: cracking all those pieces, which hold the system together. I give you one idea to analyze: how people will pay in 20 years in the first world? With plastic?
      Do you know how much very sophisticated infrustructure is required to keep this going (banks, clearing institutions, payment organisations, whole Internet, acquirers and much, much more). How do you produce and maintain it with much reduced energy input, broken supply chains, lack of basic resources, bankrupt companies?
      Or do you really believe, that we just go back to traditional coins? Do you know how complex world can be managed with paper money flow? Much, much smaller than today. And you still believe, that it will not end without real global conflict?

      • MG says:

        Dear Kesaro,

        yes, this is an interesting idea: the paper money is not the same as the electronic money. As money serves for the channeling of the resources, then electronic money allows the channeling of the resources in faster and in more complex ways.

        The transport of the resources is thus faster and more efficient. But not cheaper, as we loose the cheap energy.

        Definitely, the paper money is the local currency, but the electronic money is the global currency. Nowadays, the electronic imuplses manage the masses of the people. Our owercrowded world could not exist without the electronic management systems, including the electronic money.

        • MG says:

          I would like to add: not just transport, but also processing of the resourcess is faster and more complex thanks to the electronic management systems.

          It means that not only material resources, but also human resources are exploited faster.

      • B9K9 says:

        Since Gail has a lot of non-US readers/commenters, and in the spirit of the upcoming 4th of July, perhaps we should review one of the key elements of the Declaration’s preamble:

        “… all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

        Now, I understand many/most people read this passage as proof that common man can achieve independence. However, I take an opposite tack, and see it as prescriptive advice to the PTB: keep the rabble happy, and they will suffer any/all indignities as long as they’re fed & entertained. As such, the DoI is a guide book on how to maintain power & control, not a warning to help share the wealth or else.

        To your second point, “money” of course will all be electronic. I come from the computer industry (as a finance guy), and am consistently amazed how ‘regular’ people view systems as unfathomably complicated. At its heart, the electronic banking system is nothing more that A=L+C; everyone gets how paypal works, right? Well, scale it up to where it looks crazy, but it’s still debits & credits.

        I feel like I’m repeating myself, but how many/much resources does it take to keep the grid functioning, the ‘Net operational and cell phones working? 5% of our total current consumption? That’s a trifle; the system could continue for hundreds of years at that rate. And that’s before we even got to the point of bio-engineering consciousness so that actual physical bodily needs could be reduced.

        For example, scientists are busy trying to reduce the functioning animal parts of poultry, cattle, etc to just the bare essentials in order to grow & develop muscle mass ie meat. There’s no reason why these same principles couldn’t be applied to develop a slave population that would perform all the dirty, hard laborious work.

        Again, I know this doesn’t comport with many people’s desires, expectations or faith that existing “evil doers” will have their day before the tribunals. Not gonna happen – revolutions were only possible during a very, very brief period of time when the common man had equal firepower as nation states eg 1650-1850. Wonder why the English, American & French revolutions all took place during this time period? Why did the Confederate states lose in 1865? Because the centralized state could once again harness & exploit mass technologies which restored the advantage back to the state.

        Wishing is a waste of time; didn’t Paul post something about rats dreaming of things they’d like to do, places they’d like to visit?

        • kesar0 says:

          A lot of vision, no anwer to my question.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          “I feel like I’m repeating myself, but how many/much resources does it take to keep the grid functioning, the ‘Net operational and cell phones working? 5% of our total current consumption? That’s a trifle; the system could continue for hundreds of years at that rate. And that’s before we even got to the point of bio-engineering consciousness so that actual physical bodily needs could be reduced.”

          Gail has explained in great detail why this is not possible….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I think you are engaging in wishful thinking.

      In the past 15 years or so OOTF basically thew all the rules of the game out the window. They loaned large amounts of money to people with bad credit — they allowed banks to engage in criminal schemes — they bailed out the entire system — they dropped rates to zero — they built ghost cities —- and they have done the unthinkable in printing trillions upon trillions of dollars.

      Never in the history of the world has this happened — all the leading economies are on board with this ‘insanity’

      Many people believe this is all planned — a means to an end —- or they think that the elites are simply stupid and venal…… (I used to think thoughts along these lines…)

      They think this because they have no read or do not understand Gail’s research — or similar research that a very few others have published. They do not understand that the fossil fuel age is about to end — and the elites are scrambling like cornered rats trying to keep the ship afloat awhile longer — because they feel the frigid air…. they know that there are no lifeboats… there are no islands to swim to.

      This is how I ended up on this blog — I was trying to understand why the central banks were engaging in these activities….

      Why are they committing suicide — are they stupid? Clearly not…

      Are they trying to enrich themselves? What use is another billion dollars if you are sure to lose everything.

      And then I realized that they were scared — they were desperate.

      Look around you — we have monumental asset bubbles…. this cannot be stepped down ….

      The stock markets are 100% Fed fueled…. if they slowed or stopped loaning money to corporations for buy-backs we do not get s step down… we get a massive calamity….

      If interest rates rise the entire system collapses… it cannot be stepped down….

      From what I can see there is no real plan here — other than attempting to keep BAU going for as long as possible —- we are walking the egg up to the top of the mountain higher and higher day after day…

      There absolutely has to be an enormous collapse — because all the tools that have been used to get us to keep BAU going for literally decades now — all the Keynesian policies without which we would have collapse long ago — haven been exhausted…

      Money printing is the absolute last gasp of a dying system.

      There can be no soft landing. The world is far too interconnected for that to happen — both in terms of supply chains and the financial system.

      Recall when Bernanke finished up he said essentially ‘I understand that a lot of people hate me because of the policies I introduced — but some day you will understand what I did was right — and you will thank me’

      I read that as ‘I don’t like being called a villain and a son of a bitch —- I have been fighting for your life — fighting to buy you a few more years — fighting to keep our civilization from collapsing — but I cannot tell you this — so this is my cryptic way of letting you know that I am on your side — I am the good guy — remember that when you are curled up in a corner dying in a few years’

      • B9K9 says:

        Paul, since you’re not a US citizen, you don’t have any real tangible experience with the history of this country. Oh sure, in past missives, you’ve railed about the evils done during the last 500 years as sea pirates sailed across oceans to conquer a helpless & prostrate race of of people.

        Well, you know what? You’re both right & wrong; wrong in that you still seem to underestimate the basic DNA composition of this country. Sure it was built on conquest, but the will to domination has never diminished. Bernanke is an academic who was hired to be the public face of policies set into motion that ultimately serve the power of the state.

        To think that there are no other options, no alternatives, that BAU is a being driven head first into a wall because that’s the ultimate end game is just nihilistic fantasy. Long, long before we ever got to such a state, we will have already been engaged in many resource wars, many stages of war power measures, many stages of martial law.

        We are so far removed from anything resembling that level that’s it’s clear you use this board to further entertain yourself with fanciful visions of collapse. As such, you’re very much like any other ‘believer’, whether a religious fanatic or institutional supporter, who is so focused & channeled on a certain theme that they can’t fathom more boring & mundane processes.

        Once again, while peak FF is leading to the demise of BAU, the end of BAU does not necessarily lead to collapse. Rather, it merely signals the long process of the 99% returning to their previous state in nature. FFs allowed the common man to rise above the muck; the end of the FF era (ie BAU) merely returns him back to his rightful place.

        Those who understand economics, history, politics and (military) power aren’t mystified by this process. Rather, they realize this is the ultimate end-game as the current system breaks, morphs and is re-cast in traditional neo-feudal organizations.

        This outcome isn’t satisfying to fantasists because it’s doesn’t deliver vengeance, nor exact revenge on evil-doers. That’s part of knowledge & wisdom – separating fact from fiction. Fiction sells page counts @ ZH, fact fills seats at Pentagon meeting rooms.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          “Well, you know what? You’re both right & wrong; wrong in that you still seem to underestimate the basic DNA composition of this country.”

          I am certain the British, Romans, Spanish, Mongols,Egyptians etc… said exactly the same thing.

          I suspect I know a whole lot more about America than the average American because as you clearly demonstrate with these comments — Americans are spoon fed Kool Aid from birth about how America is exceptional — superior — and not to be messed with.

          Well here’s a bit of news for Americans — there is nothing exceptional about your country — other than the fact that it was loaded with resources when the first settlers arrived — and that is what primarily what made the country so successful.

          Koombaya comes in different flavours….

          Let’s all stand … and honour the DNA of America — the DNA that trumps the end of fossil fuels and all logic … because American DNA is superior — Americans are made of the ‘right stuff’ …. Just do it! ….

          With Kate Smith’s version of Koombaya:

    • xabier says:


      ‘Dominion’ is a wind of change; and ‘Power’ a deceptive lightning.

  43. MG says:

    The Greek drama:

    Same banker told me also, it’s not a question if banks gonna open next week, but if they ever gonna open again. #Greece


    In Gail`s words:

    “I am talking about banks closing for good. Nothing to pay anyone with through the banking system.”


    • Stefeun says:

      Yes MG, that is an option.
      Anything can happen in Greece, because Greece is a symbol, at many levels.

      They* don’t care about the greek debt, what they want to do with this issue, is to definitely kill the Democracy, in the very cradle of Democracy.
      Even if it’s arguable that Democracy has never really existed, forcing the Greek people down on their knees woud (will?) be a big step toward full-speed corporate power, with nothing more -or very little- left in their way.
      *”they” = the corporate power, in the form of their exposed puppets (govts) and tools (IMF, ECB, EU-Commission, et al)


      It won’t be forever (because IMO they won’t be able to maintain the vital networks, nor keep up their assets for very long) but it will be painful.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        I kept wondering why there was so much consternation about Greece leaving the EU and defaulting on their debt. I think the reason is because it opens a Pandora’s box to other debt laden countries taking the same course of action. For example it didn’t take Puerto Rico long to throw up the white flag on their debt. There are undoubtedly a laundry list of countries closely watching what happens with Greece to know the steps they should take to default on their debts. Once the process is understood and that box opens with numerous countries defaulting, globalization fragments and the process of countries retreating to their own set of ideals and currency begins. But that’s also the process bound to occur down the net energy ladder. We are in the process of going from globalization to localization.

        • John Doyle says:

          IMO, it’s deflation time. Our civilization has, generally speaking peaked regarding wealth creation through productivity, so now we are just consumers of all that preceding effort.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co61gPnCkRw [see the GNP /lifestyle chart] a few seconds in from the beginning of this extract]
          The whole world is deflating, bar a few hot spots, and only the super wealthy are benefitting. For most people the GFC has not ended. I think we will see these bad debt events continue now.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          As Wolfgang Munchau has explained in a brilliant analysis in the Financial Times, Germany and France alone stand to lose €160bn when this happens, making Mrs Merkel and Mr Hollande the biggest losers in the history of money. They have a lot more to lose than Mr Tsipras.

          This should remind us of old adage: “if you owe the bank £1,000, you have a problem – but if you owe it £1,000,000, it has”.

          More https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/53-greece-symbol-of-our-times/

          • John Doyle says:

            I think there is another much deeper reason why the EU is so intransigent. It seems not just a conspiracy theory that there are PTB trying to get control over the whole of the world’s economy. Even in 1930 Arnold Toynbee was saying that nation states need to be gotten rid of in favour of a world government. George Ball, in Johnson’s government said much the same thing in the 1960.s. There is even a theory Kennedy was shot because he wouldn’t play ball [!]

            MY reasoning is that the PTB set up the Eurozone to try it out. It was to be run by a bureaucracy and not democratically, anathema to these people. So for Greece to risk the entire structure is just not admissible. Greece has to be put back in it’s box.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I wouldn’t rule out that motive… in light of the opening of member country borders to encourage the destruction nationalistic tendencies…

              An obvious attempt to emulate the melting pot strategy of America — but without a central culture to melt into …. instead we’ve got a Balkanization happening — wonder what that looks like when the veneer of civilization gets shaved off ….

              Imagine a football match without any security as a sneak preview….

      • alturium says:

        Did you see this article yesterday by Raúl Ilargi Meijer:

        (A little gossip always brightens my day…)


        I’ve written this story a hundred different times before already: the EU is an organization led by people with, let’s define this subtly and carefully, sociopathic traits (Antisocial Personality Disorder), simply because the EU structure self-selects for such people. As do all other supra-national organizations, and quite a few national ones too, but let’s stick with Brussels for now.

        That such people are selected is due in great part to the less than transparent democratic acts and procedures in Brussels. Which allow for ever larger numbers of the same ‘sort’ of people to accumulate. No coincidence there either.

        Many of you will say that you can’t say that kind of thing, you can’t call Juncker a sociopath. But the fact is, I can. Who can not say it are Tsipras and Varoufakis, not in public. But I wouldn’t even want to guess at the number of times they’ve done so in private. And it’s high time we lift the veil on this. We are being governed by sociopaths, and that’s by no means just a European thing.

        • Stefeun says:

          Read others by him but didn’t focus on this particular one; also fell like I’m reding the same story dozens times in a row, day after day.

          What’s clear is that the Goldmanites won’t let Greece get off European Union, nor the Eurozone. Their goal is by all means to oblige the Greek people to surrender, so that everybody in Europe and beyond is convinced that “There is no alternative” (M.Thatcher’s words). In other words, enslavement process in action.

          To continue on the last sentence of your quote (“by no means only a European thing”), I found this on ZH:
          “Athens on the Potomac”, by Jon Gabriel, June 30, 2015
          “… Instead of pointing fingers at the innumerates running Athens, they should consider our own situation.”
          With a stunning chart.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Dear Stefeun
            I have wondered about the unwillingness of the European leadership to recognize that Athens is broke. Certainly Varoufakis came into office stating that emphatically. IMF internal documents show that Athens is broke. Why the charade among the European leadership?

            I wonder if it has something to do with the shift of the Greek debt from the private banks to the shoulders of the taxpayers? If Greece actually walks, then will the citizens of the various Eurozone countries begin to question just how the taxpayers got saddled with debts from idiotic loans made by private banks? Would the taxpayers begin to mutter about treason, and start looking for lamp posts?

            Don Stewart

            • Stefeun says:

              a lot of people have already integrated TINA (there’s no alternative) in their mental setup, as our dear leaders have made a good job, especially during last decade, in “proving” us that neither our votes, nor our protests, woud change anything in their policy.

              The Greek (and Spanish) people(s) are speaking louder because their situation is really bad, and hoping in leftist movements because they both have a recent painful experience of the far-right in charge.
              The rest of us Europeans are only thinking of protecting ourselves, blaming any “other” at hand, increasing security and control, and dangerously sliding into fascist states.
              Fear and powerlessness. It works. They won.

            • alturium says:

              Thanks Stefeun,

              Shocking. (minor point that its probably not constant dollars). Read a few pages into the comments (too lazy to respond) – the system has become a giant ponzi scheme for everything (how i interpret “financialization” since 1980 – at the minimum).

              We are flying in a 747 but it’s about to stall. People are amazed that such a big aircraft can even fly and the experts keep babbling about airflow over the wings providing lift (debt interest repayment) and the aircraft keeps climbing! why wouldn’t it? and then point of stall is reached and lift is no longer being generated…the aircraft begins to fall in an uncontrollable spin. People begin to wonder how this could have ever happened – they told us this thing would fly – and out of the sky it plummets, gravity finally over-powering our anthropocentric delusions, it’s precious cargo about to hit a fundamental law of nature.

              Oh, maybe pilot finally gets control at 1,000 feet…possible…

            • Stefeun says:

              I also find the stalling airplane metaphor quite appropriate. We’ve now entered the phase of serious turbulences just preceeding the actual stall. Our engines are weakening, and nobody seems to know how to lower the nose of the plane in order to re-gain some lift.

              Your formula “giant Ponzi scheme” reminded me of this article by Michael Snyder about the shadow banking:
              “…In China, shadow banking has been growing by leaps and bounds, but this has the authorities deeply concerned. In fact, according to Bloomberg one top Chinese regulator has referred to shadow banking as a “Ponzi scheme”…”

            • alturium says:

              Thanks for the Michael Synder link, He’s a great read. Sometimes a little on the zerohedge of things (hysterical) but always a thoughtful.

  44. Fast Eddy says:

    Am I losing my marbles…

    Asia shares gain as euro shoulders Greek burden

    Chinese shares got off to another erratic start, first diving before crawling back to flat through the session. The CSI300 index was last up 0.1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite eased 0.1 percent.


    Asia/Pacific Indices
    Data as of 1 Jul 2015. All quotes delayed at least 15 minutes.

    .SSEC Shanghai Composite Index 3:06am EDT 4,053.70 -223.52 -5.23%


  45. Fast Eddy says:

    Something seems not right…. I’m poking about looking for some information on what happened in China today …. nothing on the main pages of Reuters, Bloomberg, FT, Daily Telegraph….

    Searching on google news and all I am seeing are rebound stories from yesterday…

    When I drill down I see that in spite of the massive measures yesterday — the market has crashed heavily today down over 5% http://www.reuters.com/finance/markets/indices

    This is a pretty big story — why no MSM headlines?

  46. Pingback: Life In The Anthropocene | Citizens for Sustainability

  47. dolph9 says:

    B9K9 thinks too much of the powers that be in America.

    Remember folks…Europe in 1914 ruled the world and was going to rule it forever.

    Things change! Let’s prepare for it.