Our Electricity Problem: Getting the Diagnosis Correct

What is really wrong with our energy system, particularly as it relates to electricity and natural gas? Are there any mitigations available? I have been asked to give a talk at an Electricity/Natural Gas conference that includes both producers and industrial users of electricity and natural gas.

In this presentation, I suggest that the standard diagnosis of the problems facing the energy system is incomplete. While climate change may be a problem, there is another urgent problem that attendees at the conference should be aware of as well–affordability, and the severe near-term impact affordability can be expected to have on the system.

My written summary of this talk is fairly brief. I have not tried to repeat the information shown on the slides. This is a link to a copy of my presentation: Our Electricity Problem: Getting the Diagnosis Right

Slide 2

Slide 2

A finite world is one that is subject to limits. Its economy cannot grow forever for many reasons.

Slide 3

Slide 3

Let’s look at some examples (Slide 4) of how limits work in finite systems. Often there seems to be a change of direction.

Slide 4

Slide 4

The standard story that we hear says that energy prices can rise and rise, indefinitely. But as I look at the data, this doesn’t seem to be true in practice. At some point, there is a problem with affordability, because wages don’t rise as the price of energy products grows.

Slide 5

Slide 5

In many ways, the problems that overtake the economy are similar to ailments that beset a human being. A person can have multiple ailments, some of which grow in severity over the years. The catch, of course, is that if an early ailment becomes severe, it may kill the patient, eliminating the need to fix the later ailments.

The way I see the economy, there are many hurdles that have the potential to inflict severe damage on the economy. Slide 6 shows a few of them. Some examples of other issues include lack of fresh water and erosion of topsoil.

In my view, we are right now reaching an affordability crisis. One way it manifests itself is as high commodity prices that fall and thus become low commodity prices. Falling commodity prices are likely to cause debt-related problems because of all of the debt incurred in their production. We may find financial problems, much worse than those experienced in 2008, back again.

Slide 6

Slide 6

Many others have focused on climate change. In their view, we can extract pretty much all of the fossil fuels that are in the ground, because prices will rise higher and higher, allowing this to be done.

If, in fact, prices fall after a point, then there is a good chance that we must leave most of them in the ground because of affordability issues. If this is the case, the situation may be very different: we may lose fossil fuel production in not many years because of disruptions caused by low prices.

We often think of affordability in terms of what a gallon of oil costs or in terms of how much a kilowatt-hour of electricity sells for. While these costs are one part of the problem, a big part of the affordability problem relates to big-ticket items, as listed in Slide 7.  If customers cannot afford these big-ticket items, such as homes and cars, the economy loses both (a) the energy use that would be required to make these big-ticket items, and (b) the later energy use that these big items would require.

Slide 7

Slide 7

If we look at the data, we find that inflation-adjusted median income for families has been falling.

Slide 8

Slide 8

Part of this lower family income involves a smaller share of the population working.

Slide 9

Slide 9

When a person looks at the labor force growth split between men and women, there is a very different pattern. Men show a small downward trend over time; women increasingly joined the labor force, but this trend topped out in 1999, and became a decline since 2008.

Slide 10

Slide 10

Something we all are aware of:

Slide 11

Slide 11

Many fewer homes are now being built in the United States.

Slide 12

Slide 12

There has been a very different trend in auto purchases in the United States, Europe, and Japan compared to the rest of the world. In the developed areas, interest rates have been very low, and lenders have increasingly offered loans to subprime buyers. An increasing number of the loans are 7-year loans, and the loan to value ratio is often 125%. We seem to be creating a new subprime auto bubble. Based on our experience with subprime housing loans, this is not a sustainable pattern.

Slide 13

Slide 13

I am convinced that most economists have missed a basic principle regarding how economic growth takes place (Slide 14). I define efficiency in terms of what it takes in terms of human labor and resources to produce finished output, such as a barrel of oil or a kilowatt-hour of electricity. Are these finished goods becoming cheaper or more expensive in inflation-adjusted terms?

On Slide 18, note the change in the size of the output boxes, compared to the input boxes. Increased efficiency produces more output compared to the resources used; increased inefficiency produces less output compared to the resources used.

If an economy is becoming increasingly efficient, a given number of workers and a given amount of resources can produce more and more goods. This is good for economic growth. Growing inefficiency is a problem, because it quickly uses up both available worker-time and available resources. Many economists never seem to have gotten past the idea, “We pay each other’s wages.” Yes, we do, but if those wages are being used to encourage the use of increasingly inefficient processes, we go backwards in terms of economic growth.

Slide 14

Slide 14

If we look back historically, we can see a growing efficiency pattern with electricity, in the 1900 to 1998 period. As the price dropped, both consumers and businesses could afford more of it (illustrated with rising black “demand” curve). Part of the lower cost came from increased efficiency of electricity generation during this period.

Slide 15

Slide 15

If we look at the oil sector, since about 1999 we have had exactly the opposite pattern taking place. The cost of oil “exploration and production capital expenditures” has been rising at a rapid rate. This is an issue of diminishing returns. We have already extracted the easy-to-extract oil, and as a result, we need to move on to more difficult (and expensive) to extract oil. Thus we are becoming increasingly inefficient, in terms of the cost of producing the end product, oil.

Slide 16

Slide 16

As we move on to more expensive oil, the higher cost tends to squeeze budgets. The thing that is important is the fact that wages don’t rise sufficiently to cover the cost increase; in fact, the images I showed earlier seem to suggest that in the recent era of high prices, we have seen unusually slow growth in wages. The amount of wages is represented by the size of the circles in Figure 17.  The wage circles don’t grow.

Slide 17 shows that as workers need to spend more for oil, and for the things that oil is used to make, such as food, the discretionary portion of their budgets (“everything else”) is squeezed. This shift in discretionary spending is what tends to lead to recession. The same principle works if consumers suddenly find themselves with higher electricity bills–discretionary spending is again squeezed.

Slide 17

Slide 17

The problem that squeezes all commodities at the same time is falling discretionary income. The amount of debt that can be borrowed also tends to fall as discretionary income falls. The combination leads to falling affordability for expensive goods, like new autos and new homes.

The price patterns for commodities of many types move together, reflecting a combination of rising cost of oil (because of higher extraction costs) and falling ability of consumers to afford the high prices of these goods. I have not included food on Figure 18, but many food prices have recently fallen as well.

Of course, the costs for producers creating these commodities have not fallen proportionately, and many have huge amounts of outstanding debt. Repayment of debt becomes difficult, as prices remain low.

Slide 18

Slide 18

Back at Slide 14, I talked about increased efficiency leading to economic growth, and increased inefficiency causing economic contraction. Because our leaders have not looked at things this way, they have encouraged increased inefficiency in many areas, as I describe on Slide 19. To some extent, this increased inefficiency is required. For example, as population grows in areas with low water supplies, the need for desalination grows. Also, pollution problems increase as we use lower qualities of coal and oil.

Slide 19

Slide 19

What are the expected impacts on the electricity industry and on natural gas? Are there any workarounds?

Let’s look at a few implications of the problems we now see.

In my view, low oil and natural gas prices are likely to be a huge problem for the natural gas industry, leading to the bankruptcy of many natural gas suppliers.

We cannot expect natural gas supply to grow. In fact, we cannot expect a coal to natural gas transition because the natural gas price won’t rise high enough, for long enough.

Slide 21

Slide 21

If we look at the history of US natural gas prices (using Henry Hub data), we see that prices have tended to stay low, after the 2008 spike. This was a great disappointment to those who built new natural gas extraction capability. They expected prices to rise, to justify their new higher costs. In my view, the continued low natural gas prices to some extent already reflect affordability issues.

Slide 22

Slide 22

The Marcellus Shale was perhaps the most successful of the new natural gas production, but it seems to now be topping out because of low prices (Slide 23).

Many producers will have their lending terms reevaluated using September 30, 2015 data. This reevaluation is likely to lead to bankruptcy of some producers, and cutbacks of production of other producers.

Slide 23

Slide 23

Coal use has been declining, as shown in Slide 24. Coal has some of the same problems as natural gas, as I will explain on Slide 25.

Slide 24

Slide 24

The basic issue is that coal prices are too low for most producers. Even if a particular producer has low extraction costs, this benefit is not enough to keep producers from bankruptcy. The problem that occurs is that coal companies are locked into high cost structures because of patterns that continue to persist from when prices were high. Lease costs are high; taxes and royalties are high; often debt was entered into, assuming that revenue would remain high in the future. Now revenue is lower, and there is no way to fix the “hole” that results from low prices. Production stays high, because each producer must produce as much as possible, to try to avoid bankruptcy for as long as possible.

Slide 25

Slide 25

Coal is in a sense ahead of natural gas, in terms of bankruptcies, with big bankruptcies already starting.

With prices as low as they are, there is little chance for a new producer to come in, buy the production facilities at a low price, and restart operations. A big issue is ongoing costs such as royalty payments that cannot be eliminated. Another is debt availability to support the new operations.

Slide 26

Slide 26

Bankruptcies are likely to interrupt supply chains as well. Part of the problem may simply be the excessively high cost of credit, for those members of the supply chain with poor credit ratings. Once a supply chain breaks, replacements parts may not be available. Other services that a company contracts for with outside suppliers may disappear as well.

As I note on Slide 27, customers may have financial difficulties. Those who remain in business will tend to buy less, so demand is likely to be lower, rather than higher. Companies producing electricity should not be misled by the rosy forecasts of the EIA and IEA regarding future demand amounts.

Slide 27

Slide 27

Slide 28 shows that industrial consumption of energy products has been falling since the 1970s, as industrial production has moved overseas. Now the dollar is high relative to other currencies, encouraging more of this trend. On a per capita basis, residential energy consumption is down, and commercial energy consumption is level. It is hard to see that this mix will provide very much of an upward trend in natural gas and electricity consumption in the future. (Note: Slide 28 shows energy of all types combined, including both electricity and fuels burned directly. This approach is used because there has been a shift over time to the use of electricity. This method shows the overall trend in energy use better than, say, an electricity-only analysis.)

Slide 28

Slide 28

The major ways subsidies for wind and solar PV are available are through greater government debt or through higher costs passed on to customers. There are now getting to be pushbacks in both of these areas.

Slide 29

Slide 29

In Europe, the cost of intermittent electricity tends to be passed on to consumers. Dr. Euan Mearns put together the chart shown in Slide 30 comparing price of electricity with the per capita wind and solar PV generation installed for European countries. There is a striking correlation. Countries with more installed wind and solar PV tend to have higher electricity prices for the consumer.

Slide 30

Slide 30

Given the problem with commodity producers not being able to collect high enough prices for their products, and the large number of resulting bankruptcies, a person comes to the rather startling conclusion that the ideal structure for electricity providers in today’s economy is that of a vertically integrated utility. In other words, an electric utility should directly own its suppliers, as well as transmission lines and everything else needed to produce and distribute electricity.

Utilities have traditionally had the ability to price on a cost-plus basis. With vertical integration, the utility can use its pricing ability to keep prices for fuel producers from falling too low, and thus sidestep the problem of bankruptcies. To the extent that the required price for electricity keeps rising, it will tend to pressure discretionary spending. (See Slide 17.) But at least grid electricity will be among the last to “go” under this structure.

Slide 31

Slide 31

Black Hills Corporation lists the many electricity-generating facilities it owns (coal and natural gas), and the places it has arrangements to sell this electricity as a utility. The Black Hills Corporation indicates it has had 45 years of dividend increases. This increase in dividends is in stark contrast to the many coal and natural gas producers that are currently near bankruptcy, as a result of low coal and natural gas prices.

Slide 32

Slide 32

How does one resolve the conflict between industrial companies wanting to generate their own electricity (for a variety of reasons) and the need to have an electric grid for everyone else? It seems to me that we have to keep in mind that having an operating electric grid for everyone else is absolutely essential. Without the electric grid, gasoline stations would stop pumping gasoline and diesel. Transportation would stop. Electric elevators would stop. Treatment of fresh water and sewage would stop. Companies everywhere would lose their consumers. The economy would quickly come to a halt.

With our current affordability problems, we are in danger of losing the electric grid. That is why it is essential that those who opt out not be given too large a credit for providing some or nearly all of their own electricity. The credit given to industrial companies should reflect the savings to the system, no more.

Slide 33

Slide 33

One concern is the bankruptcy of peaker plants, if their use is significantly reduced by, for example, the use of solar PV. If these peaker plants continue to be needed for balancing purposes, this may be a problem. Another concern is the rising cost of grid transmission for those who continue to get their electricity from the grid.

Slide 34

Slide 34

To sum up, the story we read from most sources is so climate-change focused, a person wonders if there aren’t other issues that are important as well. Most observers have overlooked the importance of low commodity prices, and the impact that they can have on coal and natural gas producers’ ability to produce the fuels that are needed by electric utilities.

Too much faith is being placed in natural gas, as the fuel of the future. And too much faith is being placed on intermittent renewables, without fully understanding their costs and limitations.

I haven’t tried to address the many indirect problems arising from many bankruptcies. These may be severe.

Slide 35

Slide 35


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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1,657 Responses to Our Electricity Problem: Getting the Diagnosis Correct

  1. Fast Eddy says:

    Meet the deflationary commodity cycle in all its glory:

    China’s mills — which produce about half of worldwide output — are battling against oversupply and sinking prices as local consumption shrinks for the first time in a generation amid a property-led slowdown. The fallout from the steelmakers’ struggles is hurting iron ore prices and boosting trade tensions as mills seek to sell their surplus overseas. Shanghai Baosteel Group Corp. forecast last week that China’s steel production may eventually shrink 20 percent, matching the experience seen in the U.S. and elsewhere.

    “China’s steel demand evaporated at unprecedented speed as the nation’s economic growth slowed,” Zhu said. “As demand quickly contracted, steel mills are lowering prices in competition to get contracts.”

    As we reported a month ago, at current commodity prices, over half the debtors in China’s commodity space are generating so little cash, they can’t even cover their interest payment. They are, therefore, utterly insolvent, and the broader Chinese bond market is well aware of this – this is the reason why suddenly credit funding has collapsed.

    The conclusion, even though from Bloomberg, is quite terrifying: “China’s mills face some of their worst conditions ever and the vast majority are losing money, Citigroup Inc. said in September. The outlook is the worst ever amid unprecedented losses, Macquarie Group Ltd. said this month.”

    China’s steel production may contract by a fifth should the country’s path follow the Europe, the U.S. and Japan, Shanghai Baosteel Group Chairman Xu Lejiang told reporters in Shanghai last week. The company is China’s second-largest mill by output.”

    Considering China’s version of Glencore “Sinosteel” effectively went insolvent one week ago (followed by what may or may not have been a government bailout), the fallout is just starting.

    The cherry on top is that China itself is now trapped: it simply can’t afford to let anyone default, as one bankruptcy would cascade across the entire bond market and wipe out countless corporations leaving millions of angry Chinese workers unemployed, and is therefore forced to keep bailing out insolvent companies over and over. By doing so, it is adding even more deflationary capacity and even more production into the market, which leads to even lower prices, and even greater bailouts!

    In short: this is a deflationary toxic spiral, because while that $30 trillion in inflationary debt led to easy growth and much wealth and prosperity on the way up when prices were soaring and monetary transmission mechanisms were not clogged up, now that China has hit hit a 300% debt/GDP and the direction of the arrow is in reverse, all the growth and all the expansion of the past 7 years will be promptly unwound as mean reversion demands payment.

    But perhaps most importantly, as we first reported last week citing BofA’s David Cui, we now have an ETA when this whole Chinese debt house of cards, some $30 trillion of it, bursts with consequences that will be so devastating not only China but the entire world, as the one catalyst that pulled the Developed Markets out of depression will be, poetically enough, the same one that pushed it right back in.

    On the current trajectory, we doubt the market can stay stable beyond a few quarters, especially if some SOE and/or LGFV bonds indeed default.

    More http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-29/ghost-cities-finally-died-chinas-steel-industry-outlook-worst-ever-amid-unprecedente

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Collapse – when it comes — will be rapid. Literally overnight.

      • MJ says:

        When it happens as you have repeatedly posted over and over again; you need not tell us
        “I told you so!”
        No one will really care at that point.

      • dolph9 says:

        Deflation is an impossibility in the world today. It quite literally can’t happen, as governments can create unlimited amounts of currency to fight it.

        Do you have any idea what unlimited is? Did you even get through high school math and physics.

        The only question worth asking is the timing and duration of the inflation/hyperinflation. That’s it. And yes that’s an intriguing question.

        Deflation? Forget about it. Every single time you mention the word deflation, you are wasting that much more time and space thinking about it.

        • Exactly, the evidence is already here and easy to see. The Elders/TPTB are just juicing out as much as possible out of the system. Now it’s ECBs turn, so it’s currently easing openly, ffosil fuels supposedly “seen as affordable”, hence cars and airplanes are selling like hotcakes. On the other hand at the same caterpillar is tanking hard. Simply, as long as the leisure games and frivolous activities (the most easily papered over sectors) can continue mask the charade they will continue, including triage / papering over zombie sectors of the economy. It has worked before in history, so it has been attempted recently, and it’s clearly working as in the sense of can kicking excercise.

          This can easily continue for some more years, perhaps a decade or two..

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Dolph – I am not so sure of that…

            Japan is printing incredible volumes of Yen — many more times than the Fed has as a percentage of GDP… and yet deflation continues to plague the country…

            Globally there is still massive QE happening — the EU is also running the presses hard — yet deflation persists…

            The thing is…

            Printing money has its limits — it eventually pushes on a string … no matter how much you print it stops having any effect on deflation …

            In fact the string starts to push back —- you get toxic side-effects which include insolvency issues with companies that have tapped this free money and bought back shares — eventually – as we are now seeing — they get downgraded — debt servicing costs increase — and they collapse….

            Likewise we are seeing similar issues in the US with municipalities facing collapse due to over-indebtedness…

            Money is not wealth – it is a representation of cheap energy…

            We are out of cheap energy — therefore money is becoming irrelevant…

            It’s akin to taking Monopoly money and running it off on the Xerox machine and claiming you are now fabulously wealthy….

            • bandits101 says:

              Gees Dolt9
              Presently we are in the mother of all demand destruction events. Consumer crap items are in a death spiral, businesses are going bust because the consumer is not buying. Companies that supply the machinery to produce consumer items are breaking apart. The consumer is battling real wage deflation, while the cost of living is escalating. Printing money cannot solve this deflation. Giving every business millions of dollars to stock the shelves, make pretty advertising and hire even more employees will not solve a thing unless the consumer is buying. Give the consumer a million dollars and money instantly becomes worthless.

              What you can’t see is the unemployment. Governments are hiding it by manipulating the count. Governments are manipulating GDP figures. Governments are pretending the economy is fine and the media and businesses pretend governments are telling the truth.

              To get inflation, real wage and salary inflation is required to facilitate demand. Japan has been printing madly for 15 years. If it was a simple as printing money, there would have been no need for China to build ghost cities and highways and railroads to nowhere. Like Fast Eddy says stimulus has limits and the limits are cheap and abundant energy.

            • ktos says:

              In 1989 in Poland we had 250% annual inflation with collapsing economy. The reason why QE doesn’t bring inflation is because currency goes to the banks, instead to the real economy.

        • Christopher says:

          The question is when the helicopter money will start to rain? The central bankers are already discussing it.I guess they will wait until the crisis will be recognized also by the public. When the money starts to rain how long will it be possible to do it without CPI hyperinflation? The amount of helicopter money will have to be raised ad infinitum. Maybe hyperinflation can be postponed by price and capital controls and maybe they know how to add money in such a precise way to avoid hyperinflation. But I doubt it. When hyper inflation enters the economy crashes if its not already crashed by another reason.

          • MM says:

            So in a month we will see Paris COP21 and there has already been a rumor of 90 trillions of USD to be spent on renewables. This can all be government money. They can spend it to build solar on every private rooftop in the world. It is just a question of printing some 20.000 to any honeowner in form of a coupon to reclaim his personal solar set. This will 1.kick the can for many years to come and it will 2. create a sentiment “yes we can do it” and 3. create the long wanted inflation and 4. keep the sheeple in darkness about the real motives.
            This sounds like the most intelligent fix for it. If I were one of the G7 Ministers I would go in this direction. I call it “silent burnout”.

            • Ed says:

              I need to point out the difference between energy that one just takes from the ground and energy that one makes by technological means. In the billion dollar factory that produces 1GW of PV per year we get about 0.25 GW due to the utilization rate of about 0.25 Next in 25 years we get 25 GW name plate or 6.25 GW actual. Then we must start building the replacement panels to replace year 1 produce. We have peaked out at 6.25 GW from our 1GW factory. If we want 4 TW to go full electric in the US we will need 4000/6.25=640 giga factories. All with access to cheap energy and abundant clean water. They will run forever, the staff will be paid forever. It would be interesting to know how much energy they consume.

              640 giga factories in the US alone. California, Texas, New York will need 30 giga factories each. Let us not forget the factories for processing out the toxic chemicals out of the spent PV panels. I think the limiting factor is cheap energy to drive the giga factories. Even at a billion a piece 640 is only 640 billion dollars less than half what is spent on the military (in a true honest accounting not the official number).

            • madflower69 says:

              “I need to point out the difference between energy that one just takes from the ground and energy that one makes by technological means. In the billion dollar factory that produces 1GW of PV per year we get about 0.25 GW due to the utilization rate of about 0.25 Next in 25 years we get 25 GW name plate or 6.25 GW actual.”

              I’m not following your logic completely. But I will agree, spending the money to subsidize renewable energy, efficiency, and EVs, to bring in private investment dollars is far cheaper then spending it on the military.

              We also don’t need to go all solar, nor do we need to do it all at once. In fact we don’t -want- to do it all at once, because technological improvements are continuously being made. It isn’t just a single area of solar panels. There are quite of few other wheels in motion that need to continuously improve as well.

              What we have right now, may not be what we have ten years from now. In fact, if we can keep it up, the whole FF vs renewable energy debate goes away. It has already changed. Fossil fuels aren’t always the cheapest solution anymore. The intermittent problem should go away in the next 5-10 years. Hopefully, we can streamline permitting and other soft costs as well.

            • Christopher says:

              This will give inflation in renewable energy products. Will that be enough to save the economy? After all, the affordability problem hits the economy broadly. Furthermore, this very blog post is about electric energy. The effect of renewable energy is to make electric power more expensive which will decrease the affordability of electric power and products that relies of electric power.

              Maybe an equal amount of money to each citizen is the most effective way to deliver helicopter money? This will decrease the affordability problem until inflation arrives. At least its a way to buy time.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              How much coal would you need to burn to create 90 trillion dollars worth of solar panels?

              And even if we could do this how does it kick the can? It would have zero impact because in case you had not noticed — the problems is NOT that we are out of energy sources — we are out of CHEAP energy sources.

              Solar energy is NOT cheap.

              Try thinking before you post ‘solutions’ like this.

            • “How much coal would you need to burn to create 90 trillion dollars worth of solar panels?”

              We’ve only used ~33% of the recoverable coal. Of course, if it follows oil, once we get to 50% the price suddenly spikes and everything falls apart. We just need to get the common people to consume more coal-generated electricity and less gasoline and diesel, so the gas and diesel prices are low enough to extract coal cheaply.

              Of course, at best this plan can only buy 20 years, but hey better than collapse in the next 2 years.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yes – we must burn more coal …. we need to asphyxiate every last human …

              In our goal to manufacture billions of solar panels — we must exterminate ourselves — the ultimate paradox….


              Let us all pray to the solar Jesus — the giver of light — and solar panels (with a sideline in windmills)….

              Let us all now stand … and drink the kool aid … the body and blood of Jesus of the Son …. ahmen… hallelujah — we are save — WE ARE SAVED.


            • Is that a picture of Houston, Dallas, Austin? No? Somehow Texas burns coal and doesn’t look like that? That’s strange. The Chinese must simply have back luck with thermal inversions, all their cities trapped in valleys. Wait, they are all along the coast? Huh, that’s strange.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Coal generates 44% of our electricity, and is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S.

              Air pollution: Burning coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming, and toxic air emissions.
              Learn more.

              Wastes generated: Ash, sludge, toxic chemicals, and waste heat create more environmental problems.
              Learn more.

              Fuel supply: Mining, transporting, and storing coal levels mountains and pollutes the land, water, and air.
              Learn more.

              Water use: Coal plants need billions of gallons of cooling water and harm wildlife.
              Learn more.

              A typical (500 megawatt) coal plant burns 1.4 million tons of coal each year. As of 2012, there are 572 operational coal plants in the U.S. with an average capacity of 547 megawatts.

              Coal pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned. Click on the pictures above left to see more about the kinds of environmental damage caused by coal.


              That photo is of China …. pollution is no doubt much worse because the thousands of factories that used to be in the US pouring toxins into the environment were moved to China a few decades ago.

            • At this point, what difference does it make? Life can survive the coal. Since the radiation is going to do everything in post-collapse anyways, why not burn more coal and put off the day of reckoning?

            • Ed says:

              that’s the beauty of placing the PV plant next to Niagara Falls. Free energy from Thomas Edison’s hydroelectric plant.

            • MM says:

              I was beaten that my proposal is not a solution. Yes, I know that but 99% of the people do not know that and like this they will just keep on happily consuming and BAU can go on for a long time. The first Problem is inflation and this can be achieved by giving the people money for solar. I accept that it might inflate the prices so the coupon can be arranged for a fixed price system “one fits them all” so there is no market but money flowing. Yes, the energy for the solar panels will run out, but it will run out anyway, so why not propose a “big lunar race” program to give the people some dreams. The reality can never be publicly discussed. And after all you have some hundered thousand households that can use electrical energy, that will make the downfall smoother. Going solar is a possibilty acceptable to insert some sort of “transitional effects”, not the solution. All people I know would accept a huge solar project. Nobody will accept the statement “solar is crap”. All people live in a tech bubble. They can not be saved by bursting the bubble because they will just insist that technology will save us. I tried it on many people, it simply does not work, You are claimed a doomer and an enemy of all the good technology that is around us.
              The only real way I personally propose is drop consumtion to 25% and that will crash the system tomorrow. TPTB do not want the system to crash, that is why they will propose all sorts of crap. I propose that going solar is most probable.

            • MM says:

              Ok i got the point, BAU can not go on as the cheap energy is gone. So there is also no cheap energy for any sort of transition.But what do you mean by “cheap”? Financially speaking I am on the side of B9K9 that money can be created in limitless amounts. The question is how much EROI is left on the combined resources left in the ground. The numbers vary from 3 to 15. As far as I know 10 is regarded as the lower bound. The big question is, how far that is away for all carbon fuels combined. Natural Gas deposits are huge and I do bet they cost not a lot of energy for digging. What costs a lot is shipping LNG, but you can build the PV factories in Iran directly on the beach where the gas comes in.
              I must say that there exists a huge difference in the dommer sphere about the energy cliff. Many people believe it goes 100% to 0% in a week or so, others say, it will gradually decline. From the discussions I follow for 10 years now, I am more on the side that there will be triaging. I know that Gail says, the financial system will break to zero all at once But I am on B9K9 that money is just an illusion and whenever there is any shortage of it, it can simple be created ex nihilo.

            • “But I am on B9K9 that money is just an illusion and whenever there is any shortage of it, it can simple be created ex nihilo.”

              Here’s the problem; let’s say all your money is in dollars. You wake up tomorrow and dollars no longer exist; the entire dollar system has collapsed and the pieces of paper are worthless. Suddenly everything is in Yuan.

              So, you are moneyless and have to start over. What do you do if this happens to you three times in five years? Paper money’s value is derived from belief and faith; if people lose that, the consequences could be dire.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              “But I am on B9K9 that money is just an illusion and whenever there is any shortage of it, it can simple be created ex nihilo.”

              Japan is printing massive amounts of yen — and they keep increasing the print.

              Yet they keep plunging back into recession and deflation.

              The money printing is having less and less impact… eventually it will have no impact…

              And Japan will collapse.

              If it was all about printing your own currency — then why isn’t Ethiopia prosperous?

              Massive amounts of money are being printed — why deflation happening — why are massive companies headed for insolvency?

              Is the answer to just print more? So we just keeping adding zeros?

              That is completely absurd and illogical.

              There is no perpetual motion machine

  2. Stefeun says:

    “YouGov Poll: 29% of Americans Would Support a Military Coup”

    Ready for more of this?:
    “Behind ‘the Disappeared’ of Chicago’s Homan Square
    A criminologist dissects the so-called black site, where military interrogation techniques are allegedly substituted for questioning.”

  3. Stefeun says:

    “At this point let me refer readers to Gail Tverberg and her blog, Our Finite World, which focuses on the key interactions between energy and economics. In fact we now see just the sort of troubled global economy that we might anticipate from a world that peaked in production of historically cheap conventional oil almost a decade ago in 2006. Tverberg is able to explain the global economic situation so clearly, so convincingly, and so persistently that she has attracted a huge popular economic following. One of her recent posts drew over a thousand reader responses; “Low Oil Prices – Why Worry?.””

    This is from The Rag Blog, by Roger Baker, Oct.25, 2015 (also on Resilience.org):
    “What’s up with the global economy, and where do we go from here?
    A deflationary spiral, such as is now becoming evident globally, acts as a natural poison.”

    The rest of the article is not that clear (to me!) but eventually seems to be an incentive to local action and preparedness for hard times.
    Interesting links along the reading, such as:

    “The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats”

    “Waiting for Collapse: USA Debt Bombs Bursting”

  4. interguru says:

    Here’s a group preparing for the end of BAU
    Our Polynesian voyaging canoes, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, are traveling over 60,000 nautical miles around the earth, bringing people around the world together to set a course for a sustainable future.

    We are sailing like our ancestors have for a thousand years—using wayfinding. On board, there is no compass, sextant, or cellphone, watch, or GPS for direction. In wayfinding, the sun, moon, and stars are a map that surrounds the navigators. When clouds and storms make it impossible to see that map, wave patterns, currents, and animal behavior give a navigator directional clues to find tiny islands in the vast ocean.


  5. richard says:

    The biggest solar farm is in Morocco. It looks like Desertec is far from dead.
    ” The first phase of the project, a 160 MW power plant called Noor 1, will be completed next month, the Guardian reports.

    We are not an oil producer. We import 94pc of our energy as fossil fuels from abroad and that has big consequences for our state budget.
    Hakima el-Haite, Morocco Minister of Environment

    The project, which will be built in the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, involves installing a complex of four linked solar plants (Noor 1 is the first) which will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and produce roughly 500 MW of electricity – enough to power one million homes. “

    • Ed says:

      Makes more sense to place factories next to solar energy plants rather than ship the energy across half a continent to a cold dark cloudy place like Germany with excessive wage rates and civil unrest.

  6. Ed says:

    Whatever happened to fuel cells? They were the rage 10 years ago. Has anyone heard from them recently?

    • richard says:

      With fuel prices so low, fuel cells are a lossleader, unless environment laws enforce their use. A big problem is keeping the things clean. Failing that means a 5% (at best) efficiency decline per year. Also, I suspect the grid based energy suppliers will not be keen to have a competitor eating their lunch.
      If you are thinking about home energy, electricity from CCGT sources and condensing gas boilers is both cheaper and more efficient, for most sites.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The spin masters sat down (Don Draper head of the table) and reckoned Solar Jesus was a better way to sedate the masses — a better opiate….

      Stay on message — Solar Jesus is the ‘saviour’…. there is only one ‘god’ … toss the rest in the bin….

      Focus the ad budget and the ‘R&D’ budget on a few ‘mega projects’ — just enough to make the sheeple believe there is life after oil…. a few gigs that can be pointed at (that are actually massively subsidized white elephants… but don’t ever acknowledge that)

      That’s what happened to fuel cells…

    • richard says:

      I followed up an annual report released a couple of weeks ago, see here :
      so no sign yet of mass adoption in the UK. I can see a couple of limited applications for the kit. The main one would be for medium sized office buildings with two gas fired boilers. It might make sense to have a fuel cell unit instead of a small CHP plant for use providing DHW during the summer when both main boilers are offline. Similarly, for a large isolated domestic residence with limited access to gas and to electricity, it may be worth the extra cost for some security of supply.
      Obviously, today’s low energy costs are killing the technology.

  7. richard says:

    More on microgrids, smart metering, solar pv, Kenyan enterprise.
    Payback may be less than ten years, but blow-drys are out …
    “Small-scale microgrids are increasingly seen as the most promising way to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people worldwide who currently lack it. In Kenya, an innovative solar company is using microgrids and smart meters to deliver power to villages deep in the African bush.”
    If everthing goes down, 12v devices will be few and far between, this brings communities together in a way 12vdc cannot do, and allows standard domestic hardware to continue functioning.

  8. Ed says:

    The obvious solution to pumping water for spent fuel ponds is solar! If there are 4000 ponds (a number I doubt but let’s work with it) and we need a 10 horse power pump 24 hours a day. Then we need about 160,000 watts of panels per pond and 2400 KWHr of batteries per pond. At 1000 $/KWhr and 10 $/watt that is 1.6 million plus 2.4 million = 4 million per pond or 16 billion to save the whole planets. If I were TPTB I would pay 16 billion in insurance to keep myself alive.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Can you make the thousands of spare parts required to manage these for decades using solar panels?

  9. Ed says:

    New York State now has two giga factories for solar panels.
    1366 company and Solar City.
    They are both in the northwest corner of the state. What does the northwest have? Cheap electric from hydro, three nuclear plants, and one mega coal plant.
    Starting at 1 GW per year may scale to 5 GW per year.

    • Ed says:

      The 1366 company does an interesting thing it casts pv cell rather than cut them off of a big chunk of silicon. So no cutting needed, less cost, less waste.

    • dolph9 says:

      It doesn’t matter if stocks go up or down, banks make money on both sides. And before stocks go down, corporate insiders sell to the institutional managed money (pensions, funds, etc.).

      So when stocks go up, banks and corporations gain. When stocks go down, the public takes the loss.

      How long can this go on? Forever, as in, a long as there are public equities traded on open exchanges. The game ends only when the entire exchange shuts down.

      Both Malthus and Marx (and Hitler, by the way) were right, they were just too early.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        it can’t and it won’t.

        Because that would be a perpetual economic motion machine.

        The stock market is not the economy — it does not employ people — it does not consume goods and services

        When the world collapses the stock markets will likely be breaking new records….

        That’s when you’ll understand how irrelevant the stock market is.

  10. Fast Eddy says:

    Queue Twilight Zone music…

    The BoJ Owns 52% Of The Entire Japanese ETF Market , And Now It Wants More

    Way back in March, after the BoJ’s equity plunge protection had been exposed for all the world to see, we brought you a hilarious set of proclamations from Haruhiko Kuroda who, you’re reminded, is known for surreal soundbites regarding both the effectiveness of unconventional monetary policy and the omnipotence of central banks.

    The BoJ’s $90 billion equity portfolio is actually “not large”, Kuroda explained, before adding this amusing bit of color: “stocks aren’t being lifted by the BoJ’s ETF purchases.” You can evaluate the veracity of that statement for yourself using the following chart from WSJ:


    More http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-29/boj-owns-52-entire-japanese-etf-market-now-kuroda-wants-more

    Would it be possible for the BOJ (or any central bank) to own the entire stock market of their home country? That would be akin to a perpetual economic motion machine!

    This truly is insane….

    • greg machala says:

      Its a virtual market at that point. Completely disconnected from reality. Makes a pretty line on a paper chart until the power goes out.

  11. dolph9 says:

    I’ve been thinking recently and I think the trick is to put yourself in a position where flexible adaptation, “making do” is possible. Many have commented on how they don’t see this happening, or in their own position, they have to deal with extremely complex parts and machinery that are made halfway around the world.

    Well then…leave that position!

    Take medicine, for example. Now, many might think, the world is going to be full of old people, sick people, so I better get into medicine for the job opportunities, you will always have an income, etc. But is this the right way to look at it? In a doom scenario, do you actually want to be the one responsible for all of the dying people, when you have very limited supplies and everybody has their own problems? Of course not, because then you are the one to shoulder the blame. I’m telling you people, you don’t want to be in healthcare. Maybe some boutique services for paying clientele, or perhaps hospice nurse, etc., might be doable, but in general avoid healthcare.

    Or, for example, very cold or very hot/dry climates. These are going to be problematic because of how energy intensive they are to make people comfortable. In mild climates, you need less energy. Same goes for areas prone to natural disasters. In good times, if the disaster hits, there is enough energy and material circulating in the national and world economy to rebound, to rebuild. In a doom scenario, if a disaster hits, that’s it, that’s the end for that particular location. Pompeii.

    So as far as relocation, I would favor areas with mild, stable climates and geography and at least some local water/food. And as far as work, I would favor work which is simple, easily understood, and where adaptation is possible. In other words, you can go for a long time without a particular part or supply, and generally you’ll be alright because you can adapt in the meantime. Anything which is fast paced or “critical” and you are going to be overworked. You might get paid but you’ll be under severe stress and you will have less and less to work with.

    So you can’t merely think of the income. Don’t be a working peon. Leave that to the Mexicans and Asians, they think doing stressful work in America is better than picking corn or rice, so, let them think that. Think, income + low stress, noncritical, flexible.

  12. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders
    This note will try to tie together some strands which relate to energy, carbon dioxide emissions, the economy, and social change. The usual warnings about assuming that I am correctly interpreting things apply.

    First exhibit is a Tim Garrett paper officially published in 2011, but written several years earlier:

    Garrett shows how the rather complicated modeling used by the IPCC can be simplified. Basically, if we have energy, assume we will use it and calculate the emissions. I call your attention to the last paragraph:

    ‘Because the current state of the system, by nature, is tied to its unchangeable past, it looks unlikely that there will be any substantial near-term departure from recently observed acceleration in CO2 emission rates. For predictions over the longer term, however, what is required is thermodynamically based models for how rates of carbonization and energy efficiency evolve. To this end, these rates are almost certainly constrained by the size and availability of environmental resource reservoirs. Previously, such factors have been shown to be primary constraints in the evolution of species (Vermeij 1995, 2004). Extending these principles to civilization, emissions models might be simplified further yet.’ (emphasis added)

    And, indeed, we do now have a thermodynamically based model showing how economic limits on oil use operate, and how limited oil operates to limit GDP. That model was formulated by BW Hill. Hill’s model has the advantage that it predicts that critical limits were passed in 2012…so we are not talking about the distant future. Hill also claims that, since 2012, the Central Banks’ policies have kept oil production on life support, with the result that much mal-investment has been made, which is cannibalizing the oil industry.

    If we accept Hill’s proposition that oil alone can adequately explain what is going on in terms of GDP, then Garrett’s model of emissions can be simplified even further. We just need to model oil.

    Hill admits that the shape of civilization might change, which could change the dependence on oil, but he can detect no significant changes in available measurements.

    I want to note a couple of straws in the wind in terms of the change in the shape of civilization. Sherry Turkle has written a new book: Reclaiming Conversation; The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. One of Turkle’s primary findings is that young people especially, but also adults, have learned to use social media to avoid actually having to talk to each other. We are also learning to use social media to avoid boredom, even for a few seconds. You’ll have to read Turkle’s book for a full explanation of the dangers she sees in these substitutions. But I want to simply note that sometimes social media is probably a lot cheaper than traditional methods of dealing with interpersonal matters and with boredom. For example, back in the 1950s, teenagers routinely got in an automobile and cruised around to both relieve boredom and also to grease the wheels of social intercourse. While social media do require energy, I am pretty sure they don’t require as much as cruising did. I will note that social media have made some people very rich, but that substitutes for dinners table conversation and relief of boredom aren’t what we usually think of when we describe ‘productivity’.

    When talking about productivity and electronic communications, perhaps Kris DeDecker’s recent article may be enlightening:


    There is no question that efficient communications is important for low energy production methods. As a simple example, it is much more efficient to deliver a pre-ordered box of farm produce to a door than to drive down a random street ringing a bell and hoping someone will come out and buy your produce. The preordering requires some sort of electronic signaling. DeDecker shows us the path to a low-tech signaling system. DeDecker’s system is light years away from the ‘always on’ social media, which are energy hogs. What DeDecker describes is what a rational society facing the end of the age of oil would choose. We’ll just have to get used to the idea of dinner table conversations and old-fashioned boredom relievers again.

    The next exhibit is a passage from John Michael Greer’s current post:

    ‘The one difference that stands out is that Ocean City in late October is mostly deserted, while the crowds are still here in today’s America, milling around aimlessly in front of locked doors and lightless windows, while the sky darkens with oncoming weather and the sea murmurs and waits.’

    You can find similar dystopian images in the writings of James Howard Kunstler and Hollywood movies. And Dmitry Orlov is currently writing about the dysfunctional social and political efforts to cope with a reality that no one want to admit to.

    The final exhibit is Chris Martenson’s observation that when he gives a talk about unpleasant realities, some in the crowd will wave their smart phones at him…technology will triumph! But if we accept Turkle’s findings that smart phones, as currently used in societies rich enough to afford to behave that way, are used primarily to avoid talking to each other and to relieve boredom. That’s not exactly evidence of a technological miracle. Turkle says ‘we are exhibiting predictable responses to a perfectly executed design’, which she compares to junk food, which likewise calls forth ‘a predictable response to a perfectly executed design’.

    Here is what I suspect is true:

    *We are at the end of civilization as we have known it for the last few hundred years.

    *The trigger is the thermodynamic depletion of oil, manifested in high cost of production and low productivity in the economy.

    *Society shows no signs of intelligently responding. I do not see evidence that we will start growing our own food and having substantive conversations at dinner tables and using boredom as a means of maturation and growth or replacing the energy intensive internet and cell phone infrastructure with the low energy system DeDecker describes. Unless society responds intelligently, we can expect a chaotic experience of collapse.

    *Our debt problems spring from both the thermodynamic depletion of oil and also the naive attempts of the Central Banks to print our way out of trouble. A central bank which believed that oil depletion is real would raise interest rates, restricting debt. There would be a lot of pain, but the society would begin to behave differently. It’s the different behavior which is the key. BW Hill’s model and Tim Garrett’s model both presume that society will NOT change behavior appreciably.

    Fasten your seat belts….Don Stewart

    • Rodster says:

      Have you become Fast Eddy’s doppelgänger? The one thing we can’t dismiss is what we have done to the environment and one of the elephants in the room is Geoengineering.

      • Don Stewart says:

        I don’t think I am Fast Eddy’s doppelgänger.

        I’m not arguing that we haven’t done bad things to the environment. In terms of climate change, the data I presented argue for a fast collapse, which is the best we can do in terms of new emissions. In terms of taking carbon out of the air and putting it in the soil, it is going to take 50 million small farmers in the US to do that. The only way to get 50 million farmers is, as I indicate, that interest rates rise to reflect the fact that repayment is tenuous unless the investment has an excellent chance of paying off. Debt for consumption doesn’t make sense. In such an environment, 50 million farmers might happen. (Or we can devolve into Syria, in the worst case.)

        Greer argues in his piece that south Florida is doomed already. I haven’t checked on his calculations, so have no strong opinion. There is also a geological finding that the Pacific Northwest is due for an extremely strong quake which will kill millions and destroy a tremendous amount of infrastructure. Could be…I’m not the guy to ask about it.

        I do think that the assumptions which underlie the thermodynamic models in terms of the shape of the economy are what can offer us a glimmer of hope. Sherry Turkle notes that behavior toward junk food is changing, and she holds out the hope that behavior toward social media might change. But it will require a recognition on the part of hundreds of millions of people that the substitutes they think they have found are not, in fact, good for them. Zero Hedge notes that 50 percent of 25 year olds now live with their parents. Zero Hedge attributes that fact to the bad economy. But reading Turkle’s distopian images of what social media has done to romance hints that the problem may be even deeper….that young people are not being exposed to the direct experiences which prepare them for family life, as young people and their parents hide behind texting.

        I don’t blame the thermodynamics modelers for failing to model social change. I just call it to people’s attention so that they can think about escape hatches which society might employ.

        Don Stewart

        • Rodster says:

          I live in SW Florida so I’m aware of some SLR in South Florida. There are certain parts of Miami that are being affected already. The trend is it will probably get worse not better. On the SW side of Florida we don’t have those problems at least not yet.

          • Ed says:

            What is SLR?

          • MJ says:

            Rodster,just returned here to South Florida because of family needs after away 25 years.
            The area has ballooned to a massive concentration of homo consumptionians or commonly called people. Just another LA.
            The Miami Herald News paper reported on the flooding problems on last Sunday’s front page and a governments multi million project to address it.
            Seems that another real crisis is fresh water, or lack of it. Salt water intrusion is already a threat to the aquifer, especially the Florida Keys. That has not stopped housing development, mostly expensive upscale multi units.
            Sorry to report, the PTB expect techno fixes.
            While driving here Northern Florida has a highway housing building boom also. Preparing for the hoard of baby boomers retirees.
            Seems everyone expects BAU to remain
            Should be a big shock when it ends

            • Rodster says:

              Yup! Miami is just the SE version of L.A. especially Southbeach and the surrounding area. I moved to Florida in 1978 and have seen major changes in the State, some good, some not so good.

              The situation is such that TPTB can’t tell the public much or the Florida economy collapses. So everyone is hush-hush about SLR in S. Florida and what that means to the future of the State but yeah SLR is already being felt and saltwater intrusion into the aquifers is a major concern.

            • madflower69 says:

              “The situation is such that TPTB can’t tell the public much or the Florida economy collapses. ”

              Florida is a slave to big energy, much the same as Louisiana is. It will be interesting to see if their ballot proposal passes allowing 3rd party generation. If it does, then I expect solar to become far more popular.

              It will also be interesting to see if Georgia starts going bonkers over solar installations, since they just passed legislation, and they are supported by conservatives.

            • How much is the sea rising, and how much is the land sinking? Draining all the swamps and sucking the water out from underneath, creating sinkholes seems to be a mistake made over and over again. Maybe some things humans are incapable of learning.

            • Göran Rudbäck says:

              Isn’t salt water intrusion primarly due to higher water outtake than regeneration, rather than SLR?

            • Rodster says:

              A lot of the housing boom in N. Florida is probably due to cheaper housing as rental property in the Metro areas is rising real fast. In my area rental prices have gone up on average 20-25% in the last 2 years. Also keep in mind and don’t be too surprised if a lot of tthat housing boom is in fact Wall Street investment money.

            • Rodster says:

              This could be the article you were referring too. It’s part two in the series.


            • Göran Rudbäck says:

              The articles seems to me very biased on AGM as the cause of everything bad, turning a blind eye to the consequences of an overhabited area.

            • Ed says:

              Rodster, I image if one builds a 4 million dollar house one can install a $100,000 reverse osmosis water system and afford $10,000 per year to run it. So, the rich will stay and the peasants will be driven out by saltwater in the ground. Of course even the rich can not fix SLR but it sounds like that is longer term.

            • Rodster says:

              “Rodster, I image if one builds a 4 million dollar house one can install a $100,000 reverse osmosis water system and afford $10,000 per year to run it. So, the rich will stay and the peasants will be driven out by saltwater in the ground. Of course even the rich can not fix SLR but it sounds like that is longer term.”

              You would think and then you read you read this story which is one of many: That is not the answer Frank Garces was looking for.

              “That’s insane,” said Garces, a Miami native, who moved into a new house with his wife four months ago with no warning about flooding risks. After being swamped for a week, Garces rented a truck for his wife to avoid damaging her 2013 Mercedes-Benz sedan, and then, tired of seeing trash cans toppled by waves and garbage tangled in mangroves, he started a petition to get the county to fix the flooding. Neighbors, he said, have considered filing a class action lawsuit against the county after years of frustration.

              “They can’t reasonably turn the Keys into the United States of Venice,” he said. “I’m sure there’s no easy solution or else it would have been done by now, but certainly smarter people than me can sit down and figure things out.”

            • Somebody, DO SOMETHING! I bought a house in a flood zone, I need a smart person to fix things!

            • Göran Rudbäck says:

              I would say that is a response that would be expected from people who think humans are the gods of earth, and can fix everything.

            • Ed says:

              Buyer be ware. To be fancy say it in Latin.

        • louploup2 says:

          “There is also a geological finding that the Pacific Northwest is due for an extremely strong quake which will kill millions and destroy a tremendous amount of infrastructure.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1700_Cascadia_earthquake summarizes the known risk. Geological evidence indicates we can expect a “Really Big One” about every 500+ years. We are only 315 years since the last one, so odds are pretty low for the rest of this century. Odds are high for another 7±, but the scale of likely destruction isn’t the same.

  13. Fast Eddy says:

    The layoffs are coming… the layoffs are coming!!!

    Deutsche Bank to Shrink Workforce by About 26,000 in Revamp


    Deflationary death spiral picks up speed….

  14. Just in case the already discussed doom scenarios are inadequate,

    “The new analysis of these past solar storms also confirms that they were several times stronger than the most intense solar storms that have been recorded on Earth. The largest solar flare ever measured came in 1859, during the so-called Carrington Event. Named for British astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington who discovered and tracked the solar outburst, the event disrupted telegraph service around the world.

    In 2013, Lloyd’s of London and the Atmospheric and Environmental Research Center estimated that the duration of power outages during a Carrington-like event today could last five months or longer for 20 to 40 million Americans at a total economic cost of $0.6-2.6 trillion.

    Additionally, were an event the magnitude of the AD 774 or AD 993 solar storms to occur today, the study authors say it would critically disrupt satellite-based technology and means of communication. They urged a reassessment of the risks associated with very intense solar storms, which may very well occur more frequently than currently believed.”


    • hkeithhenson says:

      ” AD 774 or AD 993 solar ” The 774 or 775 event seems to have been a GRB, over in about a second. It made Be 10 as well as a 20% kink in the carbon 14 that year. 993 is a new date to me. Got a pointer to an article? Neither the 774 event nor the Carrington event would cause problems for a well designed power satellite. Big as they are, they are not big enough for significant current to flow as happens with big ground loops over high resistivity rocks. But such events are definitely something to keep in mind.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          Thanks for the pointer. I don’t think either of these events are solar storms. It seems more likely that they are cases where the solar system was in the path of a short GRB. They don’t happen very frequently, but they need to be included in the design specification for power satellites. Not sure, but it seems likely these events would kill or injure everyone who was not shielded.

      • greg machala says:

        I was always under the impression that the biggest danger from and solar flare was the power spike would be induced in the electric grid causing transformers to blow out. Some apparently take many months to acquire as there as the larger transformers are not well stocked for replacing too many at one time.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          Greg, what actually happens in a big solar flare is more complicated than an electrical spike. Even though a coronal mass ejection is what we consider a hard vacuum, it does push the Earth’s field around. A moving field induces a voltage into long distance transmission wires. That voltage causes a current to flow in a “ground loop.” The voltage/current depends on the geometry, the direction of the wires with respect to the moving magnetic field and the geology.

          The current induced depends on the loop size. Most places the ground return loop area is small because the material under the lines is rather low resistance. There are exceptions, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1989_geomagnetic_storm#Quebec_blackout

          The statement in that paragraph isn’t entirely accurate. Electrical current flows in loops. In this case, the high resistance rock forced the current to flow down to the mantel, making a huge loop.
          The damage to transformers is indirect. The slow moving magnetic field induces a pseudo DC current which flows through the transformers and saturates the iron. If the transformer is not loaded or lightly loaded, this causes no damage. If the transformer is highly loaded, the core effectively vanishes and very large power currents damage the windings or even heat the shell.

          The current flow can be completely blocked by using series capacitors in the high voltage lines. That’s been installed on many of the vulnerable lines. The power companies are on top of this problem and reduce the power transmission during large geomagnetic disturbances.

          Finally, transformers which have failed for any reason can be rewound in the field. It’s a big job, but a lot faster than depending on new production.

          EMP from a nuclear weapon fired out in space is often conflated with CMEs. They should not be since EMPs are shorter than CMEs by about 11 orders of magnitude and take a different kind of protection.

          Ask any questions you like. My EE degree is from the dark ages when power was still covered by the courses.

          • MM says:

            Pleae, may I ask a question: There exist plans to create HVAC along the latitide around america, alaska, russia, europe, island, canada, amerika. A huge loop so to say. Do you think this is technically feasible giving the geomagnetic or solar field inductions on an installation of this size? Or do you consider this effect to be small compared to the sheer number of power transformers included in this sort of grid that a “huge spike” can not occur?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              If you block the ground currents with capacitors, which is easy to do with high voltage AC, then the goemagnetic field wobbling around will not cause problems. I don’t know about the economics of a power grid that big. Capital cost and losses cost around a cent per kWh/1000 km so moving bulk power from the light side of the Earth to the dark side might be prohibitive. The rule of thumb for transmission is a kV per km. Higher voltage than we now use gets into serious corona losses. Running power under oceans is currently done using DC.

    • Re: Solar flares, there was a proposal to add systems to the grid to protect against such an event, at a cost of something like $500 million. The US Congress decided against it.

  15. Fast Eddy says:

    Shell Makes Biggest Net Loss in at Least a Decade on Price Slump

    Royal Dutch Shell Plc reported its biggest net loss in at least a decade as it wrote down the value of assets and lowered its oil-price expectations.

    The company, which is buying BG Group Plc in the industry’s largest deal this year, reported a third-quarter net loss of $7.42 billion.

    Europe’s biggest oil producer has cut jobs and reduced spending this year as Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden prepares the company for prolonged market stagnation.


    That’s what happens when costs per barrel are around $100 …. and the the consumer is not able to handle retail prices of $50 or lower….

    Capex stops… layoffs happen … and eventually companies and the industry vapourize…

    And the oil that’s in the ground stays in the ground – forever. Because if we can’t get it out now — then there is absolutely no way we will get it out when BAU is collapsed

  16. Fast Eddy says:

    So Portugal has voted — and the Elders don’t like who won — so they don’t get to form a government


    Barely a peep about this incredible story in the MSM…..

    Desperate times…. desperate measures

    • In fact, the evil system of nominal parliamentarism tends to produce such outcomes pretty frequently. It’s very common that after elections he who got inside must suddenly form strange hairbrain coalitions, usually at odds to campaign claims and promises just in order to form a government, minority colations are not uncommon as well.

      However, this very recent portugeese case is indeed incredible in the behaviour of the siting president of the republic, who for some reason (idocy+panic attack?) openly talked in the media he had to act like this on the grounds of not upsetting the global banking circles, nato alliance etc.

  17. liamlynch101 says:

    So, after reading a little bit on Guy McPherson, I can say that Fast Eddy is 100% correct on our extinction because basically what we’ve got is once the economic system goes down the toilet, China wont be pumping soot from their coal plants anymore, this will result in a possible warming of 2C (yes you read that right), and don’t forget the el nino folks. So we’re dead within weeks anyway. Enjoy the time you have now because every single living thing is going to die come 2016.

    • Rodster says:

      I’d suggest you may want to take Guy McPherson with a grain of salt. 😉

      • liamlynch101 says:

        Funny that you say that because he is completely right. Funny too because his predictions make Fast Eddy’s world seem like paradise. Temperature rise enough to kill everything within a few months, that’s our fate and we need to accept that now because there is no evidence of the opposite, while Guy himself provides evidence supporting him.

        • Rodster says:

          Guy McPherson doesn’t provide any of his own data. He cherry picks other peoples work. Guy McPherson is a pissed off doom whore. He even has a direct link to suicide prevention just in case you get really depressed.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Pimps of Doom…. good name for a metal band

          • MM says:

            The latest Greer post proposes “people are so convinced of the human omnipotence that they now even accept that human extinction can be accomplished by humans”

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I saw a presentation online by GM — it was to a small group — they asked him for solutions – he said there were none — something about no future for them or their kids — that did not go down well …. pretty amusing…

          Everyone wants a puff of a hopium pipe at the end of every doomer story (even The Road ended on a positive note…) …. he wasn’t offering.

          • doomphd says:

            MacCarthy was wise to inject a little hope for the future at the end of his horrific story. The world was still burnt, however. Personally, I liked the “happy endings” portryed in The Perfect Storm: one guy swims like hell to make it to an oveturned cabin compartment where there is still some air left to breathe in the rapidly sinking boat. The captain makes it out of the boat, and swims like hell to reach the surface where he gets to tread water among the mountainous waves. Little victories within the catastrophe. That’s what we plan for, right?

    • greg machala says:

      A very large and abrupt global economic step down is certainly possible this year or in 2016. But, a complete die off is very improbable. I am doubtful that humans will become extinct even in this century. One must remember there are some small native tribes still active in Central and South America and in parts of Africa. These will likely survive … especially those in the southern hemisphere.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        The 56 million dollar question is …. when all those ponds blow … does that wipe all life out — humans included…

        I am unable to find any research on what the implications are of the end of electricity and the failure to be able to cool these ponds other than there would be massive releases of radioactive particles….

        The Elders would have this information — but my google search doesn’t have that level of security clearance.

        If I were a betting man — I’d be betting that if indeed we get the = of 56 million Hiroshima bombs of radiation thumped into the atmosphere post BAU — that this would kill just about everything — even remote hunter gatherers…

        Ideally the fuel ponds would kill only humans — all of us — and not affect other life forms… that would be the perfect solution to Mother Earth’s woes.

        • liamlynch101 says:

          Even without the fuel.rods we still have a rapid rise in temperature that will render earth uninhabitable

          • These claims of a doomsday scenario seem to be based on even simpler work than the insufficient climate models used for the normal AGW. Let’s say a whole bunch of methane is released, the aircraft and factories in China all shutdown.

            So now you have an increase in sunlight coming in during the day from the lack of pollution, and more methane retaining heat. On the other side, how do you know you don’t end up with clearer nights releasing more heat into space? Or cloudier days, and end up with a few percent less heat coming in? After 12 years, all the methane is gone, what then? Is the entire planet surface supposed to heat up 10 degrees in a couple years? Will all of Antarctica melt in 5 years? How do you know the oceans won’t absorb most of the increase, for the few years until the methane is gone and the carbon dioxide levels start to plummet?

            • liamlynch101 says:

              A lot of head will not be radiated out into space, instead, the greenhouse gasses will capture a lot of the outgoing heat, this will allow the earth to further heat up. We are in the midst of the most powerful El-Nino on record, so our temperature is already increasing greatly and is already above 1C, just imagine if we hit peak oil today, that would mean we would have 3C to deal with. That’s the point where we all eat each other. Sorry, but I don’t know how to explain this to you, but we are not going to survive. Humans will be extinct 2017 at the latest, because we will hit peak oil sometime around now and 2016. Temperature will rise, wildfires will increase, and the oceans, guess what, will disperse CO2 because of the increased temperature. So that way, everyone on the surface will be wiped out, probably 7 days to a month maybe. The 2017 refers to the morons who decided to go into hiding in their fancy little bunkers and they too will die.

              Sorry for how bleak it is, but that is the reality of the situation, there is no solution, there is no getting better, the situation will get worse overnight, as soon as we lose the aerosol shield.

            • You heard it here folks! Global Warming will kill everyone within 7 days as soon as the factories and airlines shutdown.

              Then, the people in underground bunkers will all somehow be killed by global warming within a year.

              What will you do if we are all still here posting in 2017?

        • Göran Rudbäck says:

          You got one thing wrong, Mother Nature doesn’t give a damn whatever happens, she just abides, to see what will come.

        • MM says:

          This does not need to happen. More radioactivity will speed up genetic mutation and more new species may form from, that can even include some DNA repairing tools and cell restoration forces after alpha particle targetting. You never know. For the part of humans, we already know that the natural DNA selction process is too slow for the fast evolution of our technosphere. More radioactivity can speed that up…

          • bandits101 says:

            Evolution doesn’t give a shit about direction. Mutation can lead to devolution, fast living and dying. Humans have but one advantage and that is a big brain. Why do you assume DNA mutation could affect evolution in a positive way. There are an infinite possibilities for adverse affects rather than the positive alternative. For a species to have evolved with a big brain such as ours was a fluke of nature. To expect mutations to evolve a new better human, is an extreme example of homo hubris.

            • liamlynch101 says:

              Plus there wont be mutations, all the trees, animals and plants will die from Climate Change, day 1 of Peak Oil.

  18. Fast Eddy says:

    Attention Koombaya Krowd :

    How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really?

    As the industry grows, so does concern over the environmental impact.

    Fabricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases.

    It also creates waste. These problems could undercut solar’s ability to fight climate change and reduce environmental toxics.

    The silicon used to make the vast majority of today’s photovoltaic cells is abundant, but a “silicon-based solar cell requires a lot of energy input in its manufacturing process,” said Northwestern’s You.

    The source of that energy, which is often coal, he added, determines how large the cell’s carbon footprint is.


    Imagine if we actually got serious about producing these things… like generating say 5% of global electricity from the toxic inventions.

    We’d burn out the planet in no time 🙂

    • madflower69 says:

      “Imagine if we actually got serious about producing these things”

      The catch-22 is simply the more panels you produce, the less FF energy input you need to produce them.

      It isn’t a mature technology which means they will continue to improve to use less silicon(if any), less energy input, higher conversion efficiency, and cost less over time.

      There is a learning curve, but you have to have people working on it or else you never improve.

      Currently it looks like their emissions are being offset by the lack of steel and cement production in China.

    • jarvis says:

      .How green are those solar panels? Not very that’s for sure, but I don’t envision much beyond the 1% adoption rate we now have. Interestingly that’s the same adoption rate for electric cars! I’m going solar because I like running water and a few lights and power tools. I have enough wood to handle all my heating and cooking but I really do love a toilet that goes flush. My biggest worry is fire and with a clear cut behind me and a lake in front I should be OK for a few years.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Imagine the disaster we would face if solar went to 5% of global electricity…. the Chinese would be asphyxiated …. the oceans acidified to the point of killing all coral reefs and huge populations of sea organisms…

        And yet the Koombaya Krowd are hoping we can convert completely to solar — a rather insane concept.

        Jarvis – we’ve also got panels pushing water up a big hill to storage…. post collapse if I am not dead — that will be better than hauling water in pails from the creek….

    • greg machala says:

      I read a very detailed analysis from several sources already that state 1/2 of the entire liveable land mass of the planet would need solar panels to replace current global electricity consumption. And that did not account for the overhead needed to maintain and build replacement panels. Now I am now thinking that the other half of the planet would be covered in waste from making the panels. Solar simple does not scale up and has no where near the energy density of FF not to even mention you can’t make plastics and other petroleum based products with them.

      • I’d like to see some math on that claim, half the land area of the Earth is quite a large area.

        The Sahara has a surface area of 9.4 million square kilometers; there are 1 million square meters in a square kilometer, so the Sahara has 9.4 trillion square meters of surface area.

        Typical PV Solar panels should be able to get 100 watts per square meter, and all parts of the Sahara should get at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. This would total 3.76 billion Megawatt Hours per day, or 3760 Terawatt hours per day. The whole world only consumed 20,900 Terawatt Hours in the whole year of 2012. So the Sahara alone would provide all electricity (minus transmission and storage losses) in about 5 days.

        If we use only a quarter of the Sahara and assume that we need to produce 4 times as much energy to make up for all the losses and inefficiency, we would still have all of our electricity in 3 months.

        Perhaps you were thinking of all of the world’s energy use, not just electricity? The IEA estimated a total of 155,505 TwH of total energy used in the World in 2012, so we can see electricity was only 2/15 of all energy used. We can see that using our quarter coverage, 75% losses estimate that the Sahara under those circumstances would only provide about half of all the world’s current energy needs.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Keep in mind much of the earth’s vacant territories are in inhospitable territories nowhere near where the power is needed…

          Additionally huge territories such as the arctic and antarctic are both too far away and have poor sunlight much of the year…

        • greg machala says:

          I found the solar article on one of the blogs on Gail’s blog roll that did the study. The take away I got is that for solar to work it would have to cover 1/2 of the liveable land mass of the Earth. It may well be all energy I don’t remember. I just know the take away was that for solar to be viable 1/2 of the land mass would be covered in solar panels.

          • greg machala says:

            This is from the Daily KOS regarding solar panels on a cost basis 73 trillion for the USA:

            How Many Solar Panels Would We Need to Power the Entire United States?
            Just doing the basic math. I’m not factoring in any complex calculations. Just doing straight up multiplication and division.

            According to the EIA, the United States consumed a total of 89.456 Billion Quadrillion BTU’s over the first 11 months of 2014. Estimating for December, that means roughly 100 for the full year.

            Converting to typical SI units, that is about 29.3 million Gigawatt-hours.

            Using the standard of the Topaz Solar Farm, one of the largest solar farms currently in existence, which generates about 1000 Gigawatt-hours per year, it would require about 29,300 similar solar farms.

            The Topaz Solar farm uses 9 million photovoltaic cells, meaning that many farms would need about 264 billion solar panels photovoltaic cells. Assuming one solar panel holds 40 photovoltaic cells means about 6.6 billion solar panels.

            The Topaz Solar farm cost 2.5 Billion dollars, meaning it would cost 73 trillion dollars to build 29,300 of them.

            • madflower69 says:

              “This is from the Daily KOS regarding solar panels on a cost basis 73 trillion for the USA”
              You should include the link:

              “United States consumed a total of 89.456 Billion Quadrillion BTU’s ”

              The article says:
              United States consumed a total of 89.456 Quadrillion BTU’s
              (they edited it by crossing out billion, and inserting quadrillion.)

            • Ed says:

              Greg, thank you. You call out the problem with one simple calculation.

              We (politicians and corporations and their followers) are planning the whole fate of humankind on solar (pv and wind) without allowing anyone to do the calculation you just did. It has become dogma and religious experience.

            • “We (politicians and corporations and their followers) are planning the whole fate of humankind on solar (pv and wind) without allowing anyone to do the calculation you just did. It has become dogma and religious experience.”

              $73 trillion sounds like a big number. If you tried to build it all in one year, that would be pretty difficult. Good thing no one is trying to build it all in one year.

              That is also assuming same level of energy consumption. The ideal would be to consume much less, but unfortunately the reality is a system that requires ever more energy.

            • madflower69 says:

              “That is also assuming same level of energy consumption. The ideal would be to consume much less, but unfortunately the reality is a system that requires ever more energy.”

              It is also assuming that a project started in 2011 has the same cost and the panels have the same efficiency as they do today. It is a flat panel system, vs the “solar star” project which uses single axis tracking, and has a larger capacity, but a smaller footprint. I can’t quite figure out the overall cost of the project though.

            • Fast Eddy says:


              – how much coal would you need to burn to build these? (answer! who cares – make them in China and let the Chinese choke on epic levels of smog — don’t worry about the fact that this would contribute to ruining the oceans and increasing the problem of climate change)

              – what would you do with all the toxic byproducts that result from manufacturing these panels (answer! – make them in China and pour the toxins into the ocean because there are no environmental rules in China)

              – where would the 73 trillion dollars come from (answer! the Fed could just print it)

              China could use another massive stimulus project like this about now….

              When do we get started?

        • Stefeun says:

          There was a quite advanced project with Sahara.
          Looks like it bumped into reality:

          “Quagmire in the Sahara: Desertec’s Promise of Solar Power for Europe Fade
          By Joel Stonington, Der Spiegel Nov.13, 2012

          As recently as three years ago, many thought that it was only a matter of time before solar thermal plants in North Africa supplied a significant portion of Europe’s energy needs. But Desertec has hit a road block. Industrial backers are jumping ship, political will is tepid and a key pilot project has suddenly stalled.”


          • MM says:

            Technically speaking, the problem has been solved. They have a 2 GW plant in the making in tunesia for years now. 2 GW is quite a lot for one plant, lets say you build 300 of them, sound like a manageable risk. The problem is, you need the transmission lines and the government of tunesia needs to be stable. They must deliver electricity even in difficult times. We can not deploy troops on the whole installation including the transmission lines. etc.pp. technically, it is simple but politically it is nearly impossible.
            That risk is why they do not find investors and after the beach shooting in tunesia this summer it has not become more easy (as this also was the intention)….

  19. Fast Eddy says:

    Attention Koombaya Krowd — the police and military are not there to help you — they will be the ones putting the yoke around your neck and sending you into your organic plot to pick pumpkins for them to eat….

    Let’s have yet another look at what such people are capable of….



    Editor’s Note: all comments made by Fast are based a hypothetical world in which humans will exist post collapse — of course we know that there will be no food and the world be made uninhabitable when 56,000,000 Hiroshima’s are released when the fuel ponds blow up…. but in the interest of maintaining the flow of conversation on this blog— Fast Eddy has agreed to play along with the silly notion that some people will make it through the implosion….

    Getting back to that video —- America is a scary goddamn place — it would be right up there with the last places I would want to be when the SHTF…

    On a positive note — our dogs arrived after over half a year in quarantine …. it’s always nice to have the entire family together during extinctions.

    • Putting aside the reactors and spent fuel ponds for a moment.

      You claim that there is no food and that it takes ~3 years for industrial farms to be restored to productivity.

      If the amount of survivors is 500 million, and the average long pork has 100 pounds of good meat, and each pound contains 1100 calories, and a person needs 2200 calories per day, then we can see that the survivors have over 2 years of food right there. If the amount of survivors is closer to 250 million, they will have 4 years of long pork, and by the fourth year they can harvest crops from their farms.

      Since in this scenario we are assuming that the grid remains intact for this time, refrigeration and freezing is not a problem, since the grid is a prerequisite for the reactors and fuel ponds not burning up.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And what will you feed the pigs during those two years?

        I have the answer … but you may not like it…. (see Silence of the lambs hog scene…)

    • B9K9 says:

      Paul says “America is a scary place”.

      Sure it is … to an outsider. If you grew up in this environment and were conditioned to the effects, then it simply becomes part of the baseline equation of how the world works on America’s terms.

      To truly understand America, you need to go back to first principles, which are the two original colonies. The northern outpost provides the moralistic rationale for conquest, whereas the southern stake hold was founded to commercially exploit indentured & slave labor.

      400 years later, and the USA still promotes economic conquest justified by moral righteousness. Founded & ruled by oligarchs, perpetrators of perhaps the greatest genocide in history. So far, it’s been an unbeatable combination, which, while some may disagree with the practices, everyone here certainly enjoys the spoils.

      Once you’re ok with how the world actually operates ie that proverbial “reality”, then you can proceed to play the game as it’s meant to be played.

      • dolph9 says:

        As it stands right now, I’m not scared in America. I’m scared of certain people and certain places/things, etc., but that’s no different from any other country. The organs of America are functioning to keep the people in line and the workers showing up. Fast Eddy posted this video of the cop and then proclaims, look! How scary! But criminals can be even scarier.

        Isn’t it interesting that we doomers and outsiders criticize or at least ignore the mainstream, but we are just as ready as everyone else to take every little story, every little photo or video of some happening somewhere, and proclaim the end of the world?

        Right now, if every single one of us watched a video of a nuclear bomb dropping on a city, and 100,000 people incinerated, and we actually got to watch this in real time, I guarantee that would not be the end of the world. Why? Because it’s happened before and it wasn’t the end of the world. TPTB would simply write off the losses and get back to the negotiating table.

        If you film someone dying, is it the end of the world? No. It’s just the end of that person.

        I’m just not interested in all of these events which people film, and then say “shocking, horrible” etc. and then all of this faux outrage. Meaningless drivel in a world of 7+ billion people who are all struggling for survival. I’m only interested in the big picture.

        Having said that, there are events which do impact the direction of the world for the sheer spectacle of it. 9/11 being the prime example. The human and material losses were minimal, and yet it changed history.

        You have to watch for events like that. Where, everybody is tuned in and it seems like a big occurrence that there’s going to be a reaction to. Otherwise, you can ignore 99% of the news and whatever people happen to be filming at a particular moment. It’s just human self congratulation. Look at me! Look at what’s happening around me! I’m important! This is important!

        Well, it just isn’t.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          One of the best books I have ever read http://www.amazon.com/Shah-Shahs-Ryszard-Kapuscinski/dp/0679738010

          Eventually the SAVAK and their brutal ways became the new normal — people just accepted it – turned away and hoped that they would be left alone — but they were not left alone.

          The same thing happened in Germany with the Brown Shirts.

          Nice to see America is embracing the totalitarian nightmare as it forms around them.

          As always — people justify these things ‘did you know that criminals are terrible!’

          Of course when SAVAK boots his boot to your neck — that all changes….

          • Ed says:

            People live in a system. They do not have the freedom to do as they choose. Why didn’t the people of country x rise up? Because their chance of success was zero and they choose to commit suicide. If you have a plan to get rid of evil in country y today please tell me all about it. Otherwise, yawn, I do not care about how evil and complacent the people of country y are.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Not passing judgement — nor suggesting anything can be done about this situation — just passing along my observations … America is quickly turning into a totalitarian nightmare.

              I wonder how the average American looks at this stuff — is it piercing their delusional perception of America as an ‘exceptional’ nation …

            • Ed says:

              Fast, my observation is the average American has no idea anything is happening. The college students want a free ride. Understandable we all want a free ride. Do I get reimbursed for all the money I paid to put my children through college? The burger flippers want to make the same wage my wife make with a degree in medical lab technology and 15 year experience. Doing things like testing blood compatibility so the patient does not die. But hay sure burger flippers “deserve” the same wage. The vast majority of my town are retired people with defined benefits pension plans they want to pay zero property tax because they deserve to live on their 120 acre idle farms while the young waste their productive years away. A left leaning friend loves Hillary because she is so kind. She never heard the “we came, we saw, he died, cackle” quote and says it is quoted out of context.

              Information is 99.9% controlled in the US. Facts have little to do with the thoughts of Americans. They still believe they are number one.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The Entitlement Generation …

              Paris Hilton’s fault — everyone wants to do nothing yet live large….

              That explains the extreme levels of Abilify consumption … such drugs are what is necessary when reality does not meet expectations…

              Imagine the shock on the faces of these people when the electricity goes off….

            • “That explains the extreme levels of Abilify consumption … such drugs are what is necessary when reality does not meet expectations…”

              There is not that many people on Abilify, it is simply the most profitable drug. Let’s look at some math. $7.2 Billion dollars is a lot of money, but on the other hand we see they are $30 a pill and at one pill per day 365 days, the cost is $10,950 per year. Divide 7,200,000,000 by 10,950 and we get about 650,000 users; less than 0.2% of the US population, or 1 in 500 people.

              On the other hand, that appears to be about 10 times higher than the historical rate in the UK for Schizophrenia and other psychoses. Looking at other drugs, either the USA has a much higher rate of all mental illnesses, or a much higher rate of mis-diagnoses and prescription. I mean, those billions aren’t going to make themselves.

            • Ed says:

              Fast, no shock when the electric goes off that is the beauty of Abilify. It is the crazed crabby attitude when they run out of Abilify that I would avoid.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We’ll know the end is near — when Walmart rolls out a sale on family sized barrels of Ability, Xanax etc….

        • hkeithhenson says:

          Sensible response. Thanks.

        • greg machala says:

          Yep you need a Pearl Harbor type moment for the proletariat to have the proper response. Some may then volunteer themselves to support a war or some aggression against the boogie man who did it. If the event is shocking enough people can even be convinced to give up their rights.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Well — the pillaging is just about over … and the spoils are coming to an end…. as expected… people are turning on each other viciously….

        When the boot is applied to your neck will you still be thinking ‘this is the way the world operates — I am ok with it’

        And how do you play this?


  20. Fast Eddy says:

    China Steel Head Says Demand Slumping at Unprecedented Speed

    If anyone doubted the magnitude of the crisis facing the world’s largest steel industry, listening to Zhu Jimin would put them right, fast.

    Demand is collapsing along with prices, banks are tightening lending and losses are stacking up, the deputy head of the China Iron & Steel Association said on Wednesday.

    “Production cuts are slower than the contraction in demand, therefore oversupply is worsening,” said Zhu at a quarterly briefing in Beijing by the main producers’ group. “Although China has cut interest rates many times recently, steel mills said their funding costs have actually gone up.”

    China’s mills — which produce about half of worldwide output — are battling against oversupply and sinking prices as local consumption shrinks for the first time in a generation amid a property-led slowdown. The fallout from the steelmakers’ struggles is hurting iron ore prices and boosting trade tensions as mills seek to sell their surplus overseas.

    “China’s steel demand evaporated at unprecedented speed as the nation’s economic growth slowed,” Zhu said. “As demand quickly contracted, steel mills are lowering prices in competition to get contracts.”

    More http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-28/china-steel-chief-says-demand-evaporating-at-unprecedented-speed

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    Feel the POWER!

    Watch this trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JpHUaMBARU

    Then try punching in:

    An open secret new york times

    An open secret CNN

    An open secret Washington Post

    An open secret wall street journal

    etc etc etc….

    Save yourself the time — I already tried – and nothing comes up

    Here’s one of the very few articles that are out there – some of Hollywood’s biggest names are implicated in this child sex ring


    Imagine the power to be able to silence this….

    The point being …. ‘the news’ is total bullshit…. the Elders control it…. if they don’t want you to know about it — they will bury it.

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    The bankruptcies are coming… the bankruptcies are coming!!!

    IBM Plunges to Lowest Level since 2010 on SEC Investigation, Share Buybacks Aren’t Helping Anymore

    When IBM announced earnings last week, it talked about all the great things it was accomplishing to compensate for the fact that revenues had plunged 14% from a year ago to $19.28 billion, and that even “revenues from continuing operations,” after accounting for operations it had shed, dropped 1%. It was the 14th quarterly revenue decline in a row. Three-and-a-half years!

    It’s not the only American tech company with declining revenues. There are a whole slew of them, mired in the great American revenue recession, including Microsoft, whose revenues plunged 12%. So they – big tech – are in this together.

    But turns out, IBM’s revenues, as bad as they have been, might have been subject a little more financial engineering than normally allowed.

    Today, IBM disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating how it has accounted for these lousy revenues. The one-sentence disclosure was tucked away in a footnote on page 45 of its SEC Form 10-Q, which it filed today:

    In August 2015, IBM learned that the SEC is conducting an investigation relating to revenue recognition with respect to the accounting treatment of certain transactions in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland. The company is cooperating with the SEC in this matter.

    “A company spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to elaborate on the probe,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

    As I’m writing this, IBM is down 4% to $138, a new 52-week low:

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2015/10/27/ibm-plunges-to-lowest-level-since-2010-on-sec-investigation-even-share-buybacks-arent-helping-anymore/

    • The present value of future earnings keeps dropping. It would help if more people had higher wages, so that they could afford the things produced by the big companies.

  23. What a diamond to be found in the dungeons of youtube..
    Watch this short but packed interview of danish state tv propaganda know-nothing uneducated multikulti idiot vs. old-class jewish journalist and writer Henryk Broder. It’s in English, there are other Broder’s recent and older interviews available in German though. I’m afraid this interview nails it, the gap between brainwashed majority and remaining pockets of intelect is closing fast.

    PS in another interview about his book on coming koma of the EU he said the best working system was the latest stage of old k.k.monarchie based on provincial selfgovernment and he is right that was the golden age just before WWI..

  24. Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:
    • Greg Machala says:

      I love the forecast though. Brilliant!!!

    • It is hard to believe that anyone knows Britain’s GDP within 0.2%. The fact that the amounts stay level makes a person think there is some “adjustment” being done.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Notice how no matter how bad things are GDP is generally always a + number… just slightly above the psychologically important threshold of 0.

        GDP is a totally meaningless number.

  25. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Uh oh, as Seinfeld said in John Paul marathoner episode when he thinks he’s ticked off the wake up guy, “Not comfortable.” It’s an El Nino right?! Well, someone could have fooled me. Here in No. CA just north of SF there was 1/4″ of rain in September and only trace amounts in October. The 10 day forecast for our area can be seen on the link above. Right through Nov. 4th only trace amounts possible on two days. We still have Nov thru Mar to get all this rain there expecting to fill the reservoirs, but the onset of the rainy season has been auspiciously absent of rainfall. If we don’t get a lot of rain in an El Nino year, then all bets are off. I don’t know what kind of future there is here then.

    • Rodster says:

      The more I read the more I become convinced that Geoengineering is playing a part in California’s drought.

    • B9K9 says:

      Fellow native here – in my experience mid-Nov is the cut-off point. Calif has always had really nice, warm fall weather. The ’83 El Nino that produced 30″+ inches of rain had some Santa Ana events in Oct that burned quite a bit of Malibu.

      Regarding the main article, any discussion outside of fossil fuels is simply ridiculous – a complete waste of time.
      Just got back from one of my periodic intra-state car trips – the amount of truck traffic and suburban growth moving 100+ miles outside LA & SF is astounding. You have to have a memory & reference point to understand the impact.

      More than anything, it is fossil fuels now, fossil fuels tomorrow and fossil fuels forever. There is no alternative – anyone with a clue understands this, which is why governments are quickly implementing control systems to deal with the power down.

      My simple advice: get out there and mix it up to see how blinded the ants are in their daily pursuits. Then, consider the power you possess by your knowledge of the facts. Don’t be a weirdo doomster – don’t tip your hand to anyone. Just observe, understand what lengths power will do to preserve its position, and leverage that knowledge to your advantage.

      • SymbolikGirl says:

        I’ve stopped trying to educate people on these issues and what I think is ahead, the powers that be have a lock on the MSM information game and it’s amazing how all encompassing it can be. Fun fact, I haven’t had cable TV in over eight years and just got it installed yesterday because I’m dating a big sports fan and we wanted to be able to watch games together. I turned on the news last night when I got home because I hadn’t watched anything MSM for so long and it instantly reminded me of why I cancelled cable in the first place. It was vapid drek, there was little substance and lots of opinion and there was nothing about the challenges that we are facing, it was all ‘well the S&P is up, everything is great…hooray!!!’. I turned it off within about five minutes. I’ve realized that I don’t live in the same universe as the majority and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

        • Olsen says:

          Go to http://www.rt.com and Aljazeera.com for different view, no commercials

        • dolph9 says:

          Americans are interesting. We are very powerful and advanced, yet very simple minded at the same time. We are uncomfortable with downtime, with taking things slow, with deliberation and nuance. We think everything is worth doing, and our minds don’t appreciate the concept of limits. We have always had so much energy and space, we don’t know what lack of energy or space really means.

          If there are those of you who want to stick it out in America, I wouldn’t blame you. We have so much land, so much wealth. It’s not going away immediately. But for those of you who want to leave, or perhaps, drop out, I wouldn’t blame you either. This isn’t going to end well, and Americans don’t have the history or culture to fall back on as industrial civilization winds down.

          • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

            “history or culture”

            Europe has plenty of both …. and the Europeans have been at each others throats for centuries…

            Don’t think history and culture will matter at all when people are starving.

            • bandits101 says:

              “Don’t think history and culture will matter at all when people are starving”.
              A person can live a lot longer with no food than no water
              When the pumps stop and the toilets don’t flush and the shops run out of soda, what is going to happen then?
              Movement maybe restricted by how much water can be carried. Maybe the first priority of the “marauders” will be water as in seeking out residences and farms with water tanks. Locating and commandeering a water cart or a well with a manual pump. Defending your clean water supply might be the first order of business.
              Things will be interesting when the electricity begins to be rationed. I think the pumps will be the last to go because when they do, thirst and disease will march in unison.
              I wonder how many clean, natural water supplies remain. Can you just duck down to the Danube or Mississippi and dunk for a drink, with no consequences?

        • tagio says:

          Don’t be too quick to conclude that you don’t live in the same universe. One of the main functions of the MSM is – by dint of its monopoly of the media – to simply make ITS narrative appear to be the “dominant” narrative and hide what people are really thinking and feeling from one another. A lot of what are identified as “trends” and “news” are manufactured and/or manipulated marketing campaigns in pursuit of America’s Prime Directive, sell, sell, sell, consume, consume, consume. Everyone ends up assuming everyone else is a brain-dead moron because, after all, look what’s on TV and social media, and ends up not perceiving or talking about Reality. I suspect that assumption is true only to a certain extent. The MSM “news” shows are not widely watched. OTOH, one of the most popular shows right now is AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which typically commands more viewers that competing football games and which is the closest thing to a metaphor for what is coming down the pike as any fictional representation of collapse as we are likely to get. While we are probably correct in assuming that most people are uninformed, misled brain dead morons Who Have No Idea, it is also probably true that we are not as alone as we think we are.

          The zeitgeist is not the same as its representation in the “news.”

        • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

          I’ve not had a tee vee for roughly the same number of years — and for years before that it sat there turned off most of the time

          When I do tune in — which I sometimes do when in a hotel room — I sit their watching and laughing — I find myself saying ‘why don’t you ask the obvious questions’ when the actors — I mean presenters (?) are interviewing someone ….

          ‘The news’ is nothing more than a script — there is no journalism (I once considered studying journalism — what a mistake that would have been…)

          And the kicker is — 99.99% of people watching ‘the news’ believe it is what it pretends to be… They haven’t got a clue….

          I feel I am living in a completely different dimension — populated by few…. some of the few are here on FW…. how bizarre….

      • el mar says:

        B9K9, how do you benefit from your knowledge? My impression is:
        The blind and ignorant are living better lifes very often.

        • B9K9 says:

          Shock doctrine is simply an updated term to describe an initiating assault used over millenia to render enemies impotent. Same is true in a street fight – you want to get the first punch in momentarily stun the opponent.

          My message is to understand the psychology of the opposition on the receiving end of the psychic attack. Their moments/period of disorientation provides you with an advantage.

          I perceive the doom space will slowly evolve away from constant discussion/debate/commiseration of what is occurring, to the realization that this is actually a kind of “land rush” situation. Those that have a clue are going to be able to make a killing by anticipating how the ants will react and position themselves accordingly.

          We know, WE KNOW, that governments around the world will turn on the money spigot ie “helicopter drops” to fund social programs to paper over social disruption. We know, WE KNOW, that since they are in debt to the tune of unpayable hundred $trillions, they will vaporize (monetize/devalue) if it begins to threaten their control.

          We know, WE KNOW, that as the ants begin to question the validity of their existence, their faith, their beliefs, they will look to others, both in government & religion, to restore the promise, to provide them with assurance that “things will work out”.

          If you knew 100% that these events are going to occur, then how stupid would one be to waste their time on topics that didn’t lend itself to playing this kind of winning hand?

          • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

            We know WE KNOW that the end game here is the end of fossil fuels — we know WE KNOW that the end of fossil fuels means there will be no food — we know WE KNOW that the end of fossil fuels means total chaos and that we will have no way to manage spent nuclear fuel ponds.

            We know WE KNOW that there is no way to play this — we can hoard food — we can buy guns and ammo — we can run to remote locations ….

            But at the end of the day we know WE KNOW that is futile because we all get to die.

            We know WE KNOW — this is an extinction event.

            I struggle to understand how to ‘play’ an extinction event.

            Ya sure one could have bought Citi when it was about to collapse — and was bailed out — and lived large on that till now…. perhaps the Elders and push this out a little longer and there will opps to make some money by anticipating their moves…

            But I’d recommend spending that cash very quickly ….

            • B9K9 says:

              @Paul “We know WE KNOW that there is no way to play this — we can hoard food — we can buy guns and ammo — we can run to remote locations”

              While the other points you listed are absolutes, the same cannot be said for leveraging the power of knowledge about what is occurring.

              I probably should have realized this earlier, but you simply are not an “organization man”. It’s obvious because in the quote above, you mention hoarding food, arming oneself or moving to a remote location. What have I consistently advised? Stay right where you are in the middle of the game.

              Who will be managing food distribution as governments turn to wage/price controls & rationing? Who will be providing security services to supplement state forces?

              Like a mugging victim caught by a sucker punch, the body politic is going to be rendered disoriented when the hammer is lowered. In the confusion, the ones who understood long before what was happening, who made plans, who prepared (not as a doomer, but as a local government organizer), will be part of the process that will be making decisions, not those who are its targets.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Remind me of where the food will come from when the oil stops being pumped (recall almost all farmland will produce nothing without chemical fertilizers)…

              Remind me how we stop 4000+ spent fuel ponds from exploding and releasing the = of 56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs of radioactivity….

            • There is the point–we really don’t know how the timing will play out all that well. Perhaps some time will be bought by sending money directly to citizens. Perhaps there are other changes we don’t understand.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Agreed. I think we can work out the trigger — deflation — bankruptcies — but putting a time on this is nothing more than an educated guess

            • madflower69 says:

              “Perhaps some time will be bought by sending money directly to citizens.”
              The Bush Tax Refund cost us a trillion dollars and we went into a recession.
              It won’t help. In fact it makes things worse.

              “Perhaps there are other changes we don’t understand.”

              There are quite a few I am sure.

          • dolph9 says:

            Make a killing? I don’t know. To me making a killing requires luck, timing (which only those in the know have) or a high degree of business acumen. I have none of those things.

            What do I have? Absolute certain knowledge of what is coming. I am talking of the general outlines, not the specifics. Here I agree with you. But I don’t think it’s going to benefit me.

            I prefer the easy lifestyle/welfare/drop out method. Reduce to the bone your responsibilities within the system, and instead sponge off the system as it winds down. Let others try to play this thing. Let the hard work of others prop me up, because they are so concerned with “saving the world” and are propagandized to be worker bees. Well I’ll gladly get on the other end.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Here’s a way to exploit the extinction event…

              Anyone like to travel the world?

              Get in touch with your bank and take the biggest loan they will give you — line up as many credit cards as is possible with the biggest limits possible….

              Sell everything…. go to 100% USD/gold….

              Then head out on the highway…. and don’t look back….

            • SymbolikGirl says:

              I intend to ride this Titanic down, my friends and family are all here and while I am a prepper and I do have a homestead to go to when things begin to get worse in the cities I know that there are no guarantees. Maybe the world crashes in a matter of weeks and the fuel ponds go up and kill us all and maybe it doesn’t. I, honestly, am not a wise enough person to make that call, all I can do is live each day to it’s fullest, enjoy every glass of wine, every meal I cook for my honey and every dragon-boat race I run and roll with the punches. At the end of the day every person who ever lives will die and it’s up to each person to find their reason to carry on. I for one can’t call this, I do think the factors point to a faster collapse of the financial system and the J.I.T. logistical system of life that it supports but I also agree with Gail that who knows what happens next? Maybe a loving God transports us away to live happily ever after, maybe Aliens give us magic electricity boxes or maybe we all die horribly….I don’t know and I’m not counting on anything but today.

            • liamlynch101 says:

              It seems more likely that after the initial collapse, humans will last a few months, perhaps, five years at most.

  26. Pingback: How Unsustainable is PV Solar Power? | Damn the Matrix

  27. Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

    U.S. Companies Warn of Slowing Economy

    Big firms to post first decline in both earnings and sales since the recession

    Quarterly profits and revenue at big American companies are poised to decline for the first time since the recession, as some industrial firms warn of a pullback in spending.

    From railroads to manufacturers to energy producers, businesses say they are facing a protracted slowdown in production, sales and employment that will spill into next year. Some of them say they are already experiencing a downturn.

    “The industrial environment’s in a recession. I don’t care what anybody says,” Daniel Florness, chief financial officer of Fastenal Co., told investors and analysts earlier this month.

    Caterpillar Inc. last week reduced its profit forecast, citing weak demand for its heavy equipment, and 3M Co., whose products range from kitchen sponges to adhesives used in automobiles, said it would lay off 1,500 employees, or 1.7% of its total, as sales growth sagged for a wide range of wares.

    Industrial companies are being buffeted on multiple fronts. The slump in energy prices has gutted demand for drilling equipment and supplies. Economic expansion is slowing in China and major emerging markets such as Brazil, which U.S. companies have relied on for sales growth. And the dollar’s strength also has eroded overseas profits.

    Profit and revenue are falling in tandem for the first time in six years, with a third of S&P 500 companies reporting so far. Analysts expect the index’s companies to book a 2.8% decline in per-share earnings from last year’s third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.

    Sales are on pace to fall 4%—the third straight quarterly decline. The last time sales and profits fell in the same quarter was in the third period of 2009.

    If you look at kind of the broad industrial-production index, you see industrial production sequentially coming down,” said Fredrik Eliasson, chief sales and marketing officer at railroad operator CSX Corp.

    U.S. manufacturing production rose in September at its slowest pace in more than two years, the Institute for Supply Management reported earlier this month.

    And truckload carriers have warned that they aren’t witnessing the usual uptick in retailer demand as the holiday season approaches, thanks to stubbornly high inventories, said Alex Vecchio, a transportation analyst at Morgan Stanley. “Transportation companies are typically a leading indicator, and our data is not good,” Mr. Vecchio said.

    Some investors and analysts worry that companies accustomed to boosting earnings by cutting costs, repurchasing shares and refinancing debt will soon have to face the reality of worsening sales. “The ability of corporations to take a 1% to 2% revenue line [gain] and turn it into 5% to 6% profit growth is waning,” said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer of Fort Pitt Capital Group. “They’ve run out of rabbits to pull out.”


    So what’s next Janet?


    • dolph9 says:

      Good! Corporate big men have too much money and they produce too much crap.

      We don’t need any of it.

      • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

        If the Fed is unable to stop this slide you’ll not even be able to buy a toothbrush…

        You clearly have no understanding of the implications of de-growth.

  28. Álvaro says:

    Hi, Gail, I’m from Spain, huge fan of your work since TOD era. Please check this link about historical crude oil prices, I’m sure you’ll find it extremely interesting:




  29. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    I have commented on previous posts about the difficulty I perceive in terms of having any real conversation using the internet. The comments set off quite a few complaints, and affirmations that information exchange over the internet is entirely wonderful

    I recommend the new book from Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation, The Power of Talk in a Digital Age’. It’s a long and complex book, which means that you have to set aside some time and actually pay attention…a skill that Turkle shows is increasingly rare. Middle School children, for example, objected to an assignment which would have required their undivided attention for 5 minutes.

    A study of college students shows that measures of empathy have declined 40 percent in the last 20 years, as electronically mediated ‘conversations’ have come to dominate real conversations. On page 60 and following, Turkle demonstrates how the electronic mediation fails to teach us to respect the other person as a human being…fails to teach us empathy. Insults hurled at others feel bad (for most people) when delivered face to face. But with electronic mediation, insults may feel good to almost everyone.

    There are lots more insights in the book about the high cost of electronic mediation as a steady habit. For example, Turkle was on a train from Boston to New York, and walked to the dining car. She did not see a single adult who was not immersed in their screens. So the plot of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train must now seem absurd to the digital generation. Many people now use their screens as excuses not to talk to others.

    While mobile communication can be very useful to actually produce thingsl, it is overwhelmingly used to prevent us from experiencing boredom, and boredom is the fount from which flows new ideas, the consolidation of our persona, and reaching out in new directions.

    I have no solution to offer in terms of making comments sections more useful. I am afraid that the electronic devices have succeeded only too well, empathy is declining, and the benefits of solitude are no longer understood. And electronically mediated ‘conversations’ are not what we need to have.

    Don Stewart

    • Maybe and maybe not. An awfully lot of people have their thinking dulled by constant exposure to noise of various sorts–TV shows, even music. Having headphones on all of the time ends any kind of serious conversation, and often thinking.

      There need to be multiple flows of information, and blog discussion can provide some of this.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Dear Gail

        Sherry Turkle has a discussion of Numbers and Narration and another on Performing and Deferring to the Algorithm. In the first case, people wear sensing devices and begin to act as if they are what is measured. But what is measured, according to Turkle, is only data…not a story. In the second case, people learn to compose stories which will please other people or the algorithm which is evaluating, for example, their diary. In both cases, it seems to me, the situation is like the Arkansas River, a mile wide and an inch deep.

        I am the first to agree that communications technology has done wonders in terms of communicating measurements. That was really the purpose of DARPA. An experiment was performed in a lab somewhere and the results could be communicated almost instantly to those who most needed to know.

        Russia Television has done an excellent job giving us pictures of what is happening in the bombing campaign in Syria. But in terms of what it means, you only have to contrast what Obama says with what Putin and Assad and Iran and Iraq and now, perhaps Jordan, are saying.

        It seems to me that technology in this case is mostly about disseminating propaganda, a subject Dmitry Orlov is currently writing about. Dmitry has a narrative, rightly or wrongly. I doubt that having thousands of comments would make his narrative any better, nor would it likely change his mind. I doubt that Obama could read Dmitry’s narrative and experience a change of heart. In other words, there is not the follow up and give and take that Turkle identifies as crucial.

        One of the bedrocks of child development is the need of the child for attention. Yet when Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician, studied parents and their young children in fast food restaurants, ‘across the board the adults paid more attention to their phones than to their children.’

        I’m not criticizing your site as compared to other sites. I find that few if any sites encourage the kinds of conversations Turkle and other scientists think are essential. Somehow we would have to get beyond mere fact sharing and the regurgitation of canned stories. Facts are fine, but they always raise the question: How do we live now?

        This Thursday I am attending a brown-bag discussion at Duke on the subject, ‘Suppose we taught Particle Physics and Organic Chemistry in Elementary Schools?’ Certainly there will be some facts presented, but the larger question will be how those subjects might change the culture, and what changes they would require in the way we operate the elementary and higher education classes. I think the chances of arriving at some sound ideas on the subject are very much greater in person-to-person conversation than in discussion over the internet. If it became an internet debate, I think all the negatives of electronically mediated arguments would dominate. People would dig into positions and defend them. Corporations would calculate their own advantage and manipulate the discussion accordingly.

        To take a subject closer to the concerns of this blog, Albert Bates has a 19 minute talk on Radio Ecoshock where he talks about ‘how should we live now?’ Not surprisingly, given Albert’s history, eco-villages and biochar play a role in his tentative answer. The internet can facilitate the sharing of information about eco-villages and biochar among those who believe in eco-villages and biochar, but I don’t see how the internet is ever going to play a role like face-to-face conversation in terms of the relationship between eco-villages and bio-char and how the larger society needs to change to adapt to what we can see is coming.

        Don Stewart.

        • I agree the huge amount of cell phone use is a problem. It is an addition to television, as a distraction. In ages past, people mostly had each other to talk to.

          • Greg Machala says:

            Yes. The ear buds and bobbing heads are everywhere here. People are programming themselves and don’t even realize it. Even gatherings at restaurants involve the participants plugging away at their phones. It is sad. Very sad.

  30. Rodster says:

    JHK’s weekly musing. http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/something-happened/

    “Ben Bernanke’s memoir is out and the chatter about it inevitably turns to the sickening moments in September 2008 when “the world economy came very close to collapse.” Easy to say, but how many people know what that means? It’s every bit as opaque as the operations of the Federal Reserve itself.”

    • Ed says:

      I think what it means is the rich folks came close to losing a lot of money but it was averted by the massive theft of more money from the workers.

      • dolph9 says:

        Exactly. There are two things that are always true, and I’m surprised more people don’t realize this.
        1) Elites rig the system and protect themselves, at all costs
        2) The entirety of industrial civilization is fossil fuel based; there is no industry apart from fossil fuels

        So forget about liberal/kumbaya ideas of getting along, and forget about all alternative energies. No amount of solar/wind/nuclear/batteries whatever can scale up to replace fossil fuels. They might mitigate the decline in some areas, but that’s all.

        Might as well enjoy it while it lasts. There’s nothing on the other end but a return to feudalism, and all attempts to build a life outside the matrix are a waste of your time.

        • yet the number of people who criticize doomtalk by saying “we can get along perfectly well without fossil fuel energy input” are very much in the majority

          • B9K9 says:

            You just identified the key opportunity: the information advantage. The entire world is deeply engrossed in daily living – just like an ant farm – believing the current construct is “reality”. What will the collective reaction be when the truth is revealed?

            Those that anticipate & position themselves to leverage this knowledge will benefit. Governments around the world are working around the clock to implement control systems that will be utilized during the power down. Figure out a way to be part of this process.

          • Greg Machala says:

            Our artificial world would crumble in a matter of hours without the global burning of millions of barrels of oil (and millions of tons of coal and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas) every day, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year! It is sobering to think that even while you sleep all these resources MUST be continually consumed ( and at a break neck pace ) to ensure you can wake up and have access to water, food, electricity, roads and law and order. When the fuels from the previous hour have been burned up, more needs to be dug out of the ground somewhere and be prepared to be burned up as well.
            Lather, rinse and repeat until it becomes increasingly difficult to dig the stuff up. The business end of an iPhone is essentially a shovel. Not very high tech when you think about it.

  31. I have noted the discussion about power satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). One reference that discussed power satellites noted a “50 metric ton” satellite. That caught my attention. I calculated the launch costs for the heaviest lift operational launchers, whether retired or still operational. Having spent my engineering career in civilian and military aerospace industry I only trust the cost data for launchers that actually became operational or are still operational.

    The heaviest lift launcher ever built and deployed operationally was the Saturn V.

    • Total Saturn 13 V launches: 13
    • Total program costs (in $2014): $41.3 billion
    • Cost per launch (in $2014): $3.177 billion
    • Launch mass capability
    • Low Earth Orbit (LEO): 140,000 kg ($22,857/kg)
    • Translunar Insertion: 48,600 kg ($65,844 kg)
    • GEO (estimated): 30,375 kg ($105,350 kg)

    The Saturn V was retired in 1973. The industrial base that designed, manufactured, etc., the Saturn V no longer exists. A new program would be required to develop such a heavy lift launcher.

    The Atlas V 541 is an operational launcher.
    • Total Atlas V 541 launches: 3
    • Cost per launch ($2013 dollars): $223 million
    • Launch mass capability:
    • LEO: 17,100 kg ($13,041/kg)
    • GEO: 3,750 kg ($59,786/kg)

    The Ariane 5 ECA is an operational launcher.
    • Total Ariane 5ECA launches: 47
    • Cost per launch: (on the order of) €$150 million ($166.8 million as of 10/23/2015)
    • Launch mass capability:
    • LEO: 21,000 kg ($7,529/kg)
    • GTO: 10,050 kg ($16,567/kg)
    • GEO (estimated): 4,085 kg ($40,755/kg)

    The Delta IV Heavy is an operational launcher.
    • Total Delta IV Heavy launches: 7
    • Cost per launch: $435 million
    • Launch mass capability:
    • LEO: 28,790 kg ($15,109/kg)
    • GTO: 14,220 kg ($30,591/kg)
    • GEO: 6,750 kg ($64,444/kg)

    As I recall the largest current US payload fairings are 5 meters, external diameter. ArianeSpace appears to currently have a 5.4 meter, external diameter, fairing on the Ariane 5. Larger payload fairings may be in development.

    The heaviest mass that any currently operational heavy lift launcher is capable of launching into GEO is the Delta IV Heavy at 6,750 kg. I apologize if I left out anyone’s favorite currently operational or retired launchers. I didn’t include the USSR’s Energia launcher because they only made 1 launch and the USSR’s program cost data was both unavailable and would not have been representative due to only 1 launch.

    Please bear in mind that these are real, all-in actual launch costs (well, the closest that I expect to be available publicly).

    • hkeithhenson says:

      Greg, your concerns about transport cost to GEO are cogent. Boeing did a study some time ago, http://www.sspi.gatech.edu/aiaa-2009-0462_ssp_alternatives_potter.pdf and found the cost of a power satellite built with conventional expendable rockets to be around $145,000 per kW. Converted from capital expense to LCOE, it comes in at around $1.80 per kWh, too high by close to 100 times. Most of that cost is from the throwaway rockets.

      Taken from physics viewpoint, it cost a little less than 15 kWh/kg to lift cargo to GEO if you had a very efficient system, such as a space elevator. That’s less than a dollar a kg. Calculating backwards through levelized cost of electricity, the total capital investment for 3 cent power is $2400/kW. Mass calculations are here: http://spacejournal.ohio.edu/issue18/thermalpower.html

      Given assumptions about rectenna and parts cost, we have about $1300/kW to spend on transport. At 6.5 kg/kW, that works out to $200/kg to GEO. At high flight rates, Skylon is projected to cost around $120/kg to LEO. Chemical fuels raise the cost to GEO by a factor of at least 2.5, so they are out. But it looks like electric propulsion, powered either from the ground or space based mini power satellites will move cargo to GEO for well under $80/kg. The paper with the analysis is here: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?tp=&arnumber=7046244 If you don’t have an easy way to get through the paywall, ask and I will send you a preprint.

      There have been minor changes since those papers. We now are considering constructing the power satellites in the gap between the Van Allen belts and self-powering them to GEO. The peak construction rate of 400 per year takes about a million Skylon flights per year. That sounds like a lot until you realize it is only ten days of commercial air traffic. That many flights causes concerns about the ozone from the NOx Skylon flights generate, but it also looks like there are ways to mitigate that.

  32. This is from an US Air Force FY13 (Fiscal Year 2013) Small Business Technology Transfer request for proposal (RFP) regarding solar cells:

    “vehicles, and UAVs

    TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Space Platforms

    OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a 2 – 100 W radiation hardened solar array adaptable to nanosatellites exhibiting flexibility, variable topology, high specific power and low cost.

    DESCRIPTION: Satellite power systems designs are trending towards “the large as possible” types of satellites with power system mass allocations of approximately 200 kg down to nanosatellites with volume constraints based on the ‘3U’ concept requiring a 10 cm x 10 cm x 34 cm volume constraint. Both ends of this spectrum of satellite sizes have traditionally relied upon the use of high efficiency monolithic multijunction photovoltaic (PV) technologies to provide power to the electrical bus whose solar array specific power on the order of 80 – 100 W/kg, and cost rates for the solar array as high as $350/W. The use of high efficiency solar cells to populate arrays limits overall power to approximately 30 kW for large satellite systems, and is reportedly and surprisingly a cost limiter for nanosatellite systems. In the interest of enabling substantial gains in power available to spacecraft, thin film photovoltaics will be considered in this topic.

    Recent technology advances in the area of thin film photovoltaic arrays offer a solution to the mass and stowable volume limitations of high power arrays. Thin film arrays, even with efficiencies of only around 9-12%, are so lightweight that they offer specific powers in excess of 1,000 W/kg – a factor of ten or more above the current state of the art for inorganic cells. Since these arrays are deployable, they can be packaged with minimum mass and volume, and readily deployed in space with near-term demonstrable technologies. In fact, laboratory test cells have been produced by Institut de Microtechnique at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland using LaRCTM-CP1 thin-film substrates produced by SRS Technologies in Huntsville, AL that have the highest power/mass ratio on record – 4300 W/kg![6] These thin film arrays can be stowed in a rolled or folded configuration in the launch vehicle and deployed in space by simple boom extension or roller mechanisms. A well-designed 50 kW space solar array and deployment system using rolled mechanisms with this specific power would weigh 32 kg with a payload volume the size of a suitcase. This low mass and payload volume, combined with high power density, can provide 50 kW+ space solar arrays at 25% of the cost of current rigid solar arrays. Regarding suitability to the space environment, recent AFRL test and characterization programs have shown that even organic-semiconductor-based photo-cells may be usefully employed as power sources in space, particularly for short-lifetime, rapidly-assembled, low earth orbit (LEO) missions. Though they too exhibit disadvantages over typical inorganic based cells (e.g., low photo-conversion efficiency (< 8%)), their specific power is substantially higher given the thin film, low mass nature of the cells. One can easily imagine their incorporation on the body of a satellite itself or on the surface of an inflatable, easily deployed structure.

    The goal of this project is to develop a thin film deployable solar array utilizing thin film photovoltaics either body mounted or tethered, to provide power to a nanosatellite system.

    PHASE I: The contractor shall design and demonstrate an organic solar cell that is suitable for nanosaellite application with adequate radiation hardness and power/weight efficiency. The overall design should take into account of all parameters (e.g. stow volume, deployment scheme) to ensure that the ultimate system will be deployable for said applications.

    PHASE II: The contractor shall design, fabricate, test and demonstrate the thin film photovoltaic based power system including the photovoltaics, the deployment system, any tracking system (if necessary). If possible, the contractor shall provide system for a nanosatellite designer for use.

    PHASE III: Extend the design and develop deployment, tracking, and control systems necessary to deploy large thin film photovoltaic based power systems for satellite missions.

    1. K. Reed and H. J. Willenberg, “Early Commercial Demonstration of Space Solar Power Using Ultra-lightweight Arrays,” Space Future, http://www.spacefuture.com.

    2. A. Q. Rogers and R. A. Summers, “Creating Capable Nanosatellites for Critical Space Missions,” http://techdigest.jhuapl.edu/TD/td2903/Rogers.pdf.

    KEYWORDS: Satellite power system, photovoltaics, power system efficiency, specific power, specific mass"

    The geostationary orbit radiation environment is hostile and electronics require radiation hardening against total dose and single-event upsets caused by high-energy particles. I was the lead design engineer for a military computer to be used in an USAF ICBM launcher in the late-1980's. We used silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) for the multiple processors, digital circuits and analog circuits. SOS at that time was unbelievably expensive for the limited quantities of chips that we purchased for the development program. I don't know what their costs would have been for full-rate production. Nor have I kept abreast of SOS costs since then. I believe that Silicon-on-insulator is more widely available now and also cheaper than SOS. Though costs of either technology for space-rated parts are typically much higher than standard commercial parts.

    As you see, the USAF is quoting seriously high existing costs for space-rated solar arrays, up to $350/W, though one data point is hardly definitive. They are seeking organic solar arrays that would be far cheaper. Though how radiation hard they'd be for long-term deployment on a GW power satellite remains to be seen. It appears that the USAF is interested in first using organic solar arrays for short-term usage in very small satellites (2-100 W). If long-term radiation hardening of thin-film photovoltaics are successful this could significantly reduce the cost of a GW power sat's solar array.

  33. Ed says:

    Here is a company Thorcon that wants to build 100GW of nuclear power plants per year.

  34. Pingback: Rote Königinnen und nackte Kaiser | Kassandras Kristallkugel

  35. Rodster says:

    “Overstock Holds 3 Months Of Food, $10 Million In Gold For Employees In Preparation For The Next Collapse”


  36. Stefeun says:


    “LONDON — In an important breakthrough for Chinese industry and global influence, the British and Chinese governments agreed on Wednesday to give China a substantial stake in the British nuclear industry, both as an investor and as a contractor.

    For the Chinese nuclear industry, the chance to invest in Britain represents a major opportunity. China has by far the most ambitious nuclear building program in the world with 68 commercial reactors under construction or in the planning stages, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. China has received help from the French and the big Japanese company Toshiba but has gradually developed its own local designs and built up a large chain of domestic suppliers.”

    • Stefeun says:

      Found this one as well:
      “China Details Next-Gen Nuclear Reactor Program
      China, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, says it will deploy advanced nuclear reactors commercially by 2030.”
      By Richard Martin on October 16, 2015

      • liamlynch101 says:

        This would sound like a great investment if it were possible for BAU to stay alive for that long and if it was possible to ensure that nuclear power plants are powered by nuclear power and independent of oil. They are risky when it comes to disasters, but if it was possible to switch to using only nuclear for all of our needs, then there might be less of an environmental impact (except in cases of nuclear disasters).

      • Ed says:

        Since solar US/EU spent nuclear rods can be used as fuel in the BRICS liquid thorium/uranium reactors, the US/EU can get rid of all their spent roods for free. The BRICS will pickup and happily use them.

        Please remember no large containment dome of cement and rebar with a liquid fuel reactor. Cheap and fast to build unlike solar that requires massive amounts of concrete and rebar for the stands and frames.

        • “Please remember no large containment dome of cement and rebar with a liquid fuel reactor. Cheap and fast to build unlike solar that requires massive amounts of concrete and rebar for the stands and frames.”

          The containment domes are also about making the facilities resistant to attack and natural disaster. Hurricanes, earthquakes, etc will still continue to happen. Making reactors with no containment seems like a pretty “exciting” idea …

      • There plans include lots of use of thorium, I see.

        The team has a preliminary design for a 10-megawatt thorium-based molten-salt reactor, and has mastered some of the technical challenges involved in building and running such reactors, such as the preparation of high-purity molten salts and the control of tritium, a dangerous isotope of hydrogen that can be used in the making of nuclear weapons. Limiting the production of tritium is a key research goal for the development of molten-salt reactors.

        Of course, 10 megawatt is not big. It will take time to scale this up.

    • Ed says:

      So the BRICS bet on nuclear and the US/EU bet on solar. Now we just wait and see how it turns out.

      • madflower69 says:

        “So the BRICS bet on nuclear and the US/EU bet on solar. Now we just wait and see how it turns out.”

        The US/EU already has significant amounts of Nuclear. One problem is the price of uranium, which is fairly expensive. The second problem is you can’t cycle production, it has to be more or less fairly constant output the whole day. If you combine it with storage and you might be okay, which a number of facilities in the US already do, but if you have to add copious amounts of storage for nuclear, then you might as well put in as much wind/solar as you can too.

        Nuclear in the US isn’t cheaper then coal, ng, wind or solar.

        • A big issue is the sharp rise in costs after we discovered that things could go wrong with reactors. Some parts of the world are still building them fairly cheaply–perhaps not safely.

          historical nuclear costs IEA

          • MM says:

            The key point of the UK program is to get into a relation with the chinese for the buildup of gereation IV reactors. Mind my words, but we will go nuclear anything else makes no sense in terms of density.

  37. Stefeun says:

    I totally missed that (but after all, is it really important?):

    Fed Quietly Revises Total US Debt From 330% To 350% Of GDP, After “Discovering” Another $2.7 Trillion In Debt
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/11/2015

    • dolph9 says:

      Correct, it doesn’t matter.
      Debt doesn’t matter, all of it can be defaulted on or inflated away. We will see this happen in cycles on the way down.

      Don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger people, deal with it. It’s not a fun thing to admit you are a peon in debt games played by the elite.

      • MM says:

        yes, but this time we will have to eat away the debt soup. There will not be a reset because this will cost all the trust in money. Ok, except the people will be so delusional that they take whatever helps them out. But I bet there will be a lot of trouble in case of a reset….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Maybe this time is different…. in the past when countries exceed a certain debt threshold (I believe the book mentions 90% to GDP) growth dies and they eventually default…


      However many countries are well past that…

      I suppose what the authors were referring to was a world that operates off of the normal rules of economics…

      These rules are gone now — the Elders don’t care about blowing up the entire system by defying the norms…. they are concerned only with another few months or years of life…

      So yes – this time is different — but don’t expect those others to write a sequel…. they are economists after all …. they don’t get it… they are probably sitting in the ivory tower wondering how the hell the US can get to 350%

      They could read FW — but they won’t — because there are no PHD economists here…

    • It has to do with what is counted as real debt, and what isn’t. Economists like to make comparisons among countries. This addition raises where the US is, relative to other countries. All are high, relative to what they really can pay.

  38. RedBeard says:

    I stopped reading this site about a year ago.

    Today I remember why.

    Have fun with your little doom-fest hall of mirrors/echo chamber!

    POB is a much more balanced discussion site.

    • What is POB?

    • Yep, this blog and its comments subculture is just horrible place to be!
      Just imagine the horrors of not considering climate change the #1 issue, what a bigotry, how can we betray our dear leaders in such a disgusting manner. In contrast to POB we are here also missing on the neverending deeply informed technical debate about the advance of quality Nissan-Renault electric cars as well as promise of solar-wind renewable energy getting one day beyond the 1% milestone of total global energy supply..
      /sarc off

      PS in fact POB is great place for oil/natgas talk, sometimes, but after applying heavy doze of bullshit filtering, which I don’t have enough energies to spare as of lately..

    • As long as you consider “running out” our problem, then Peak Oil Barrel is the only site to read. If you consider our problem to be a networked system that needs oil, and the problem is that workers are not making enough wages to buy the goods that are produced by the system, so that the whole system is crashing, that is a different issue.

      I do very often look at Peak Oil Barrel, simply because oil is one piece of our big problem, and Ron is faithful about putting up new graphs regarding oil.

      • Greg Machala says:

        It is overwhelming to think of everything as a system. I think that is why you have groups dedicated to many smaller parts of the whole: finance, peak oil, corruption, conspiracy, global warming, climate change, biodiversity loss, solar, wind etc. But, this blog pulls them all together under one roof and gives a birds-eye view of the way our world really works. One quickly can see how solar depends on coal and oil when viewed in this way. And how climate change is also connected to burning coal. Burning coal is connected to economic growth. Economic growth keeps the financial system running. The financial system keeps the coal mines running. It is all connected. There is no getting around that.

  39. To those concerned that pools containing spent fuel rods might result in the equivalent of a fission bomb detonation: that won’t happen. Fuel rods do not contain weapons-grade highly enriched uranium. They are lightly-enriched in Uranium-235 and contain other elements as well as the fuel rod cladding that further dilutes the Uranium-235. Spent fuel rods contain even less Uranium-235 after having been used in the reactor. Spent fuel rods are kept in pools to carry away residual heating from fission decay products. The very most that could happen is a molten pool of fuel rod material energetically melting through the concrete and perhaps some distance into the Earth, as did the reactor fuel rods at Fukushima. But, that is highly unlikely because spent fuel rods are highly depleted in Uranium-235 fuel.

    With respect to fission weapons, many hundreds of kilograms of pure uranium with the minimum theoretical enrichment of ~6% U-235 is required for a critical mass. Even then, a critical mass requires inertial or some other form of confinement to maintain sufficient density for a long enough period of time to sustain the large number of generations of fission reactions (around 60 generations) required to produce a bomb’s design yield. Without sufficient confinement a critical mass rapidly expands below the density required to sustain the chain reaction resulting in a “fizzle”. With respect to atomic bombs, a “fizzle” does yield an explosion large enough to completely destroy the bomb and the immediate surroundings. But, that is with respect to atomic bombs where the intent is to produce a nuclear weapon-sized explosive yield from a pure uranium critical mass sufficiently enriched with U-235.

    That said, the fuel rods will still be quite radioactive and biologically lethal.

    [See “The Los Alamos Primer” if you are interested in the detailed physics of nuclear fission and atomic weapons.]

    • hkeithhenson says:

      Greg is right, fuel rods are not going to explode.

      With minimal reprocessing, they can be fed back into reactors, but more than twice takes a fast reactor. We could replace coal with reactors, it would take around 15,000 of them at one GW each. If we solve the cancer problem, then we can probably put up with an occasional meltdown.

      The other approach is power satellites. BAU could go on a long time with thousands of 5 GW power sats being constructed between now and the early 2030s. If you want to follow what’s going on with that proposal, there is a google group called power satellite economics.

      • doomphd says:

        Huh? Excuse me, but Fukushima proved what happens when fuel rods get too hot. When the pumps stop, the water boils away and there is no more water cooling, the exposed rods get so thermally hot that the zirconium metal cladding begins to oxidize (i.e., burn) in air and this creates hydrogen gas by reaction with steam (water vapor). The hydrogen builds until it encounters a spark (lots of broken electrical lines at Fukushima, some still powered on) and presto! You can watch the reactors exploding on YouTube. Nothing went nuclear, except for a prompt fission incident at reactor 3, which was using MOX (mixed plutonium-uranium) fuel. Also viewable on YouTube as a bright blue flash.

        Maybe a collapse-neglected fuel pond, with no water pumping, will never encounter a spark. No one would carelessly smoke or light a fire to see in the darkness, so everything should be OK. Or maybe the nuclear workers will do ‘the right thing’, like the technicians minding the reactors in the former Soviet Union did when it collapsed, and stay on the job with no pay, no grid power and no prospects. Wanna take a chance on that?

        • Fast Eddy says:



          Of course Fukushima did not involve the spent fuel ponds — and the meltdown was and is under control — TEPCO is pumping thousands of tonnes of water onto the fuel day after day….

          • tagio says:

            Who is talking about spent fuel rods blowing up? The risk as I understand it is that if they are not sufficiently cooled by the time we lose the ability to keep pumping water over them to cool them down and get them into dry storage casks, they start burning and start releasing their particulates into the air, spreading plutonium and other fun particles around the world.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That is exactly the problem….

              The comparison with Hiroshima is not a beauty contest i.e. which is a more impressive event … there is no spectacular mushroom cloud when a fuel pond explodes…

              It’s the amount of fuel involved that is the problem — and the exponentially large amount of toxic material released….

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Perhaps we can eat the spent fuel rods…. or at least use pieces of them to cook rats and dogs over post collapse…

        • doomphd says:

          “The risk as I understand it is that if they are not sufficiently cooled by the time we lose the ability to keep pumping water over them to cool them down and get them into dry storage casks, they start burning and start releasing their particulates into the air, spreading plutonium and other fun particles around the world.”

          It does have to spread around the world to take out large swaths of the formerly productive countryside. Just look at the no-man’s land around Chernobyl and Fukushima. Once one of those pools erupts they will be next to impossible to approach, perhaps only by those sent on suicide missions, like at Chernobyl. Boric acid drops by shielded helicopter or drones? Fun…

          • Fast Eddy says:

            As I have posted… 4000 fuel ponds would release a similar amount of toxic material as would setting off 56 million Hiroshima bombs.

            This song comes to mind:

          • doomphd says:

            It does NOT have to…

            • greg machala says:

              When I hear this discussion of nuclear energy I can’t help but think of the story of yeast growing in a jar. The energy from a nuclear reaction is like sugar for the yeast. The radiation is the alcohol produced by the yeast. Another classic example of limits to growth. The radiation is essentially pollution, just like alcohol is pollution to yeast in a jar. When all of the the sugar is consumed or too much alcohol is produced … the yeast die. Nuclear power is not different. To me this is reality. It isn’t being a doomer.

            • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

              Yep – no free lunch…

    • Fast Eddy says:

      There’s your wishful thinking version …

      Then there are the facts:

      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.


      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

      Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire, which in turn could further heat up the fuel until it suffers damage. Such an event could release large amounts of radioactive substances, such as cesium-137, into the environment.

      This would start in more recently discharged spent fuel, which is hotter than fuel that has been in the pool for a longer time. A typical spent fuel pool in the United States holds several hundred tons of fuel, so if a fire were to propagate from the hotter to the colder fuel a radioactive release could be very large.


      4000+ ponds + no way to cool the rods = extinction.

      Is it true that cockroaches can survive high radiation levels? If so then get ready for Cockroach World (although I am not sure what they will eat…)

      • Fast Eddy says:

        “14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago”

        14,000 x 4000 = 56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs of radiation …

        A nuclear bomb blows up once… a spent fuel pond doesn’t blow up quite so spectacularly — but it does keep spewing radiation for decades….

        • SymbolikGirl says:

          IMHO, the keys to the fuel pond issue are the particulate size/mass as well as the fetch length & wind directions of the area where the fuel is burning. If the particles are very fine they will rise high into the atmosphere and be spread by way of the jet stream. The good news if this happens is that the small particles of the most radioactive elements have a relatively short half-life and may become far less dangerous by the time they are rained out of the atmosphere (they may stay aloft for years if the particles are fine enough). If the particles created in the fires are larger and heavier then they will spread over a smaller distance but will ‘rain out’ in the span of days and could remain ‘hot’ for quite a while and given the large distribution of spent fuel pools around the developed nations of the world this for me would be the worse option. The fetch length (usually a term used in referring to wind blowing over open water, used here because nuclear plants are generally located next to bodies of water) & wind direction also play a part in scattering the debris from these events and will determine how far away the radioactive debris ends up. The link I’ve provided was an excellent study done in the 1970’s and has some great information on the spread of radioactivity and the means of riding out the fallout (if such a thing is possible). It’s free and a decent read as well.


    • This is one link where it is possible to buy The Los Alamos Primer. http://www.amazon.com/The-Los-Alamos-Primer-Lectures/dp/0520075765

      Wikipedia discusses it as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Alamos_Primer

  40. Fast Eddy says:

    There are now a total of $3.36 trillion in medium-grade bonds outstanding. During the 10-year period ended in 2005, medium-grade bonds averaged 31% of total bonds outstanding. Now their share soared to 52%. The share of high-grade bonds, at $1.79 trillion, has plunged to 28% in Q3. And the share of junk bonds outstanding, the most vulnerable of the bunch, has soared to over 20%.

    Many of these companies were downgraded since they issued these bonds a few years ago. And when these bonds mature, they have to be refinanced with lower-rated, and thus more expensive, debt – if they can refinance them at all.

    This deterioration in credit indicates that companies are losing “financial flexibility,” as Moody’s puts it. Lower-rated borrowers are experiencing higher credit costs. For them, access to credit becomes difficult, or even impossible. That’s when they run out of money and end up in default.

    Moody’s concludes:

    To compensate, corporate outlays on staff and capital goods may be curbed more rapidly in response to a weaker business outlook.

    This sort of cost cutting via layoffs and slashing of capital expenditures has been wreaking havoc in the energy sector for a year. But it’s spreading, as the recent rounds of layoff announcements and cost reduction programs have shown. This sort of reaction to tightening credit is how it started out at the end of last three credit booms – the ones that ended in recessions and a financial crisis.


    There is a limit to the buy backs — and a toxic side-effect…

    • “There are now a total of $3.36 trillion in medium-grade bonds outstanding. During the 10-year period ended in 2005, medium-grade bonds averaged 31% of total bonds outstanding. Now their share soared to 52%. The share of high-grade bonds, at $1.79 trillion, has plunged to 28% in Q3. And the share of junk bonds outstanding, the most vulnerable of the bunch, has soared to over 20%.”

      Before the 2008 implosion, the rating agencies were criminally overrating the bonds, giving AAA to bonds which were subsequently shown to be junk. Some of the bond rating changes may be due to the government pressure to rate them honestly,

      On the other hand, I suspect, even with honest ratings, many of the highly rated bonds have hidden weaknesses and are vulnerable to another black swan event.

    • One of the “oopses”!

  41. MG says:

    From Slovakia: Roma people discover solar panel (off-grid) electricity

    Some pictures of the solar panel use on and in the illegally built shack.


    Where do they get all the civilization support from, when the civilization collapses?

    • doomphd says:

      They’re scavengers. Soon enough, just about everyone will be living this way, so take notes.

      • MG says:

        Yes, scavengers, you are completely right. Even their poor jobs are subsidized by the state. (The man who is mentioned in the article and shown in the pictures works as an assistant of health education. Otherwise he is unemployed.)

        It is a sort of living on the remnants of the civilization.

  42. Interested to see some of TPTB powers of triage in practice for the times of slow collapse.. ?
    Watch this video (and the channel) – warning some flics are beyond depressing.

    • Ed says:

      Capitalism at work. The government offered the owners enough money that they chose to sell. So the flexible work force must absorb the cost/pain of displacement because corporations are protected by their servants the government. I am sure the new Syrian workers will have the decency to smile when they are kicked in the head by capital.

    • dolph9 says:

      Behind the industrial facade Germany is a dying country. They don’t have any fight left in them, and if they do fight, they are branded as Nazis.

      Can it happen to you? Of course it can! Nations come and go, peoples come and go. All that matters in this world is who breeds and who fights. That’s it.

      • D9> That’s a plausible theory, just imagine the sheer number of fights since the german tribes and proto kingdoms, kingdoms and empires have undertaken in the past ~2000yrs. Those recent WWI-II events were susbstantial drawn down of “human vitality” of those people, what’s left has been channeled into carz exports and football.

        Ed> The issue of capitalism is not the main focus here.
        What’s more interesting observation is how TPTB are suddenly smart, cunning, resourcefull, efficient, fast, decisive, .. if they have to overnight turn large hotel complex incl. commercial tenants into empty building and a police guarded migrant shack. But in the same vein not able/willing to mount some real border patrols. It’s a joke.. if hungarians can enact new legislation in days and close borders within weeks.

    • xabier says:

      Descendants of the German tribesmen who beat the Romans, trampled on by their own…. Wonderful what can be done under the cover of a ‘national emergency’. Preppers who think they will be able to defy the world should take note.

  43. Fast Eddy says:

    Apocalypse Now | ANALYSIS

  44. Fast Eddy says:

    There has been a litany of layoff announcements recently: Biogen said yesterday that it would axe 11% of its people. ESPN would lay off 4% of its people. Twitter a couple of days ago said it would slash its workforce by 8%. Microsoft and HP are currently very busy shedding tens of thousands of workers.

    Caterpillar announced over 10,000 layoffs last month. Intuit kicked off a new round of layoffs this summer. Permanently troubled former highflyer Groupon is laying of 1,100 folks. Even startups. Zomato, based in India, is laying of 300 folks, many of them in the US. Flipagram laid off 20% of its workers. And on and on. Even Snapchat.

    It isn’t a coincidence: It’s tough out there. S&P 500 companies have been reporting shrinking revenues for what will be three quarters in a row (Q1, Q2, and Q3) and declining earnings for what will be two quarters in a row (Q2 and Q3). Q4 is shaping up to be no better. Unless a miracle happens, 2015 is going to be the worst year in that respect since the Financial Crisis.

    So layoffs are a logical response from a corporate point of view.

    Also – and this isn’t a coincidence either – it’s going to be a banner year for M&A. Alas, an M&A boom always triggers a relentless corporate chase after the promised “synergies” and “efficiencies” between the two combined companies. Hence more layoffs.

    Layoffs are a lagging indicator for corporate troubles.


    • madflower69 says:


      “General Motors is nearly doubling its workforce at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly by adding a second shift and more than 1,200 hourly and salaried jobs.

      The plant currently builds the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Malibu; and Cadillac ELR on a single production line. The plant begins production of the Cadillac CT6 in early 2016.”

      I should also mention about IBM. They sold off their disk drive division, their home computer, and laptop divisions.

      They might actually be getting hurt because of the lack of oil prospecting. They sell -big- computers, and the oil/gas prospecting uses big computers to analyze the geological data.

  45. Fast Eddy says:

    Caterpillar Inc., struggling with weak demand for equipment used in mining and oil drilling, sharply cut its forecast for full-year earnings and reaffirmed its sales would fall in 2016 for a fourth consecutive year.

    The Peoria, Ill., maker of heavy equipment and engines invested heavily in new plants as commodity prices boomed after the 2008-09 recession but now finds nearly all its businesses in a deep slump. Construction activity has plunged in once-hot developing countries including China, Brazil and Russia, and lower oil prices have slashed demand for engines used to drill for crude.

    “The China-driven commodities super cycle drove a lot of things up in the world” in recent years, Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s chief executive officer, told analysts on Thursday. “Now we’re living off the backlash of that.” He said the company’s drive to reduce its head count and close less-efficient plants would position Caterpillar to profit from an eventual recovery.

    Rivals are hurting too. Joy Global Inc., a maker of mining equipment, recently reported that its bookings of new orders in the fiscal third quarter ended July 31 were down 31% from a year earlier. Komatsu Ltd. , which makes construction and mining equipment, has fared better because a weaker yen boosts the value of its sales overseas, but it also expects sales to decline in its fiscal year ending March 31.

    Caterpillar now projects full-year earnings per share of about $3.70. That is down $1 from the forecast three months ago and less than half the peak of $8.71 in 2012. It earned $5.88 a share in 2014.


    • Rodster says:

      The opening sentence sums up the entire article: “New Age monetary policy has begun to resemble the form of insanity in which a patient repeats the same behavior while expecting a different outcome.”

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I suppose this all depends on what the definition of success would be…

        If they were hoping it would create a recovery then definitely it has failed… as expected..

        But if has held of total collapse — then it is a success…

        The question is – what would have happened if they had not launched QE?

        I suspect if they had not then I’d not be on this computer … because we’d be well into the Apocalypse by now…

    • How do you get the economy to grow, when it stops growing? Add more immigrants? More QE?

      • greg machala says:

        I think the only growth that is left to exploit is destructive growth. Corruption, fraud, abuse and pollution. What a conundrum.

        • Ed says:

          Greg, let’s not forget theft via warfare. Yes, that is perpetual but there is still room to increase to war effort. If China ceased to exist that would free up significant oil for the US (or whatever aggressor) to grow. If the population of Africa ceased to exist that would free up loots of farm land for bio-fuels for the US (or whatever aggressor).

          • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

            Hmmm… remove the second biggest economy from BAU …. I don’t imagine that could be done without collapsing BAU….

        • Fast Eddy (56,000,000 Hiroshima bombs) says:

          We could go about smashing windows and replacing them — and calling that growth — but that would be a fallacy…. 🙂

  46. I had a difficult time relocating some of these posts on Joanne Nova’s blog so, for mine and everyone else’s convenience, I made a detailed of all of the relevant posts.

    I am a retired “Jack of Many Trades” Engineer, retired from a major aerospace corporation, experienced in Control Systems and in using computer programs to model electronic circuits. I have considerable experience with the question about whether to believe my mathematical models or to believe data derived from real-world measurements. I highly recommend that Anthropogenic Global Warming proponents AND skeptics read and understand the following two sets of blog posts, giving detailed information regarding:

    • a new solar climate model where a qualified engineer-mathematician models the Earth’s climate and response to solar radiation as a top-down “black box” model using a fraction of the lines of code used in conventional “bottoms up” detailed Global Climate Models; and
    • a detailed description of what is wrong architecturally with conventional GCM’s and the resulting “more useful” climate model architecture.

    Then make up your own mind regarding what to believe.

    Detailed blog posts Regarding New Solar climate model:

    BIG NEWS Part I: Historic development — New Solar climate model coming
    BIG NEWS Part II: For the first time – a mysterious notch filter found in the climate
    BIG NEWS Part III: The notch means a delay
    BIG NEWS part IV: A huge leap understanding the mysterious 11 year solar delay
    BIG NEWS Part V: Escaping heat. The Three pipes theory and the RATS multiplier
    BIG NEWS part VI: Building a new solar climate model with the notch filter
    BIG NEWS Part VII — Hindcasting with the Solar Model
    BIG NEWS VIII: New solar theory predicts imminent global cooling


    Detailed blog posts describing the architectural problems of conventional global climate models and the architectural changes to develop a useful climate model:

    New Science 1: Pushing the edge of climate research. Back to the new-old way of doing science
    New Science 2: The Conventional Basic Climate Model — the engine of “certain” warming
    New Science 3: The Conventional Basic Climate Model — In Full
    New Science 4: Error 1: Partial Derivatives
    New Science 5: Error 2: Model architecture means all feedbacks work through the surface temperature?
    New Science 6: How the Greenhouse Effect Works and “four pipes” to space
    New Science 7: Rerouting Feedback in Climate Models
    New Science 8: Applying the Stefan-Boltzmann Law to Earth
    New Science 9: Error 3: All Radiation Imbalances Treated the Same — The Ground is not the sky!
    New Science 10: Whatever controls clouds controls the climate
    New Science 11: An Alternative Modeling Strategy


    • I am sorry I don’t have time to read all of these links–hopefully other readers will have such time. One of my long-time concerns is that we will re-enter another ice age. In fact, I expect that AGW has allowed us to stay away from another ice age for longer than otherwise would be the case.

      I don’t understand enough of what is going on to comment on the situation, except to note that ice ages have been the predominant situation in the past. With the sun getting cooler, it seems like ice ages should continue to be the dominant situation in the future. Of course, humans did live through past ice ages.

      • Funny that you should mention an ice age. According to Mr. Evans’ solar modeling and his climate model we are on the verge of entering a serious cooling trend, if it hasn’t already begun. The Earth’s climate exhibits a notch filter to solar radiation on the order of 12-years. Also, the Sun’s weakening magnetic field is allowing more cosmic rays (actually very high energy ( > 1GeV ) particles to strike the Earth. According to him and other scientists they induce cloud formation. More clouds will reflect more solar energy.

        Even worse is that high energy particles will penetrate much further into the atmosphere at lower latitudes. That phenomena of increased cosmic rays penetrating to lower latitudes apparently “correlates” with past pandemics of the Bubonic Plague. Cosmic rays strike plague virus particles in high deserts of Asia and cause mutation (or as I like to describe it, a viral single-event upset as viruses are single-strand RNA (right?), instead of error-correcting double-stranded DNA). [Note that I wrote correlates. Correlation is not necessarily proof of causation.]

      • hkeithhenson says:

        Gail, as stars age, they heat up. It’s somewhat of a mystery why the Earth didn’t stay frozen in the past. James Lovelock, the Gaia guy is one of those who think CO2 falling is a major reason the Earth has cooled over geologic time instead of heating up. So *some* CO2 may indeed be keeping us out of an ice age, but too much is as bad as too little. The alternate state of the Earth is like Venus, with all the CO2 boiled out of the limestone, we would have about 25 atmospheres of it and temperature far to high for any biological processes.

        • Thanks for correcting me. As I recall, stars heat up until they collapse all at once. And I think I have read discussion about why the earth stayed as warm as it did in the past.

          Wikipedia says “At present, it [the sun] is increasing in brightness by about 1% every 100 million years.” At that rate, whether the sun is getting warmer or cooler is pretty much irrelevant.

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