2016: Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle

What is ahead for 2016? Most people don’t realize how tightly the following are linked:

  1. Growth in debt
  2. Growth in the economy
  3. Growth in cheap-to-extract energy supplies
  4. Inflation in the cost of producing commodities
  5. Growth in asset prices, such as the price of shares of stock and of farmland
  6. Growth in wages of non-elite workers
  7. Population growth

It looks to me as though this linkage is about to cause a very substantial disruption to the economy, as oil limits, as well as other energy limits, cause a rapid shift from the benevolent version of the economic supercycle to the portion of the economic supercycle reflecting contraction. Many people have talked about Peak Oil, the Limits to Growth, and the Debt Supercycle without realizing that the underlying problem is really the same–the fact the we are reaching the limits of a finite world.

There are actually a number of different kinds of limits to a finite world, all leading toward the rising cost of commodity production. I will discuss these in more detail later. In the past, the contraction phase of the supercycle seems to have been caused primarily by too high population relative to resources. This time, depleting fossil fuels–particularly oil–plays a major role. Other limits contributing to the end of the current debt supercycle include rising pollution and depletion of resources other than fossil fuels.

The problem of reaching limits in a finite world manifests itself in an unexpected way: slowing wage growth for non-elite workers. Lower wages mean that these workers become less able to afford the output of the system. These problems first lead to commodity oversupply and very low commodity prices. Eventually these problems lead to falling asset prices and widespread debt defaults. These problems are the opposite of what many expect, namely oil shortages and high prices. This strange situation exists because the economy is a networked system. Feedback loops in a networked system don’t necessarily work in the way people expect.

I expect that the particular problem we are likely to reach in 2016 is limits to oil storage. This may happen at different times for crude oil and the various types of refined products. As storage fills, prices can be expected to drop to a very low level–less than $10 per barrel for crude oil, and correspondingly low prices for the various types of oil products, such as gasoline, diesel, and asphalt. We can then expect to face a problem with debt defaults, failing banks, and failing governments (especially of oil exporters).

The idea of a bounce back to new higher oil prices seems exceedingly unlikely, in part because of the huge overhang of supply in storage, which owners will want to sell, keeping supply high for a long time. Furthermore, the underlying cause of the problem is the failure of wages of non-elite workers to rise rapidly enough to keep up with the rising cost of commodity production, particularly oil production. Because of falling inflation-adjusted wages, non-elite workers are becoming increasingly unable to afford the output of the economic system. As non-elite workers cut back on their purchases of goods, the economy tends to contract rather than expand. Efficiencies of scale are lost, and debt becomes increasingly difficult to repay with interest.  The whole system tends to collapse.

How the Economic Growth Supercycle Works, in an Ideal Situation

In an ideal situation, growth in debt tends to stimulate the economy. The availability of debt makes the purchase of high-priced goods such as factories, homes, cars, and trucks more affordable. All of these high-priced goods require the use of commodities, including energy products and metals. Thus, growing debt tends to add to the demand for commodities, and helps keep their prices higher than the cost of production, making it profitable to produce these commodities. The availability of profits encourages the extraction of an ever-greater quantity of energy supplies and other commodities.

The growing quantity of energy supplies made possible by this profitability can be used to leverage human labor to an ever-greater extent, so that workers become increasingly productive. For example, energy supplies help build roads, trucks, and machines used in factories, making workers more productive. As a result, wages tend to rise, reflecting the greater productivity of workers in the context of these new investments. Businesses find that demand for their goods and services grows because of the growing wages of workers, and governments find that they can collect increasing tax revenue. The arrangement of repaying debt with interest tends to work well in this situation. GDP grows sufficiently rapidly that the ratio of debt to GDP stays relatively flat.

Over time, the cost of commodity production tends to rise for several reasons:

  1. Population tends to grow over time, so the quantity of agricultural land available per person tends to fall. Higher-priced techniques (such as irrigation, better seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides) are required to increase production per acre. Similarly, rising population gives rise to a need to produce fresh water using increasingly high-priced techniques, such as desalination.
  2. Businesses tend to extract the least expensive fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium first. They later move on to more expensive to extract fuels, when the less-expensive fuels are depleted. For example, Figure 1 shows the sharp increase in the cost of oil extraction that took place about 1999.

    Figure 1. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing trends in world oil exploration and production costs per barrel. CAGR is "Compound Annual Growth Rate."

    Figure 1. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing the trend in per-barrel capital expenditures for oil exploration and production. CAGR is “Compound Annual Growth Rate.”

  3. Pollution tends to become an increasing problem because the least polluting commodity sources are used first. When mitigations such as substituting renewables for fossil fuels are used, they tend to be more expensive than the products they are replacing. The leads to the higher cost of final products.
  4. Overuse of resources other than fuels becomes a problem, leading to problems such as the higher cost of producing metals, deforestation, depleted fish stocks, and eroded topsoil. Some workarounds are available, but these tend to add costs as well.

As long as the cost of commodity production is rising only slowly, its increasing cost is benevolent. This increase in cost adds to inflation in the price of goods and helps inflate away prior debt, so that debt is easier to pay. It also leads to asset inflation, making the use of debt seem to be a worthwhile approach to finance future economic growth, including the growth of energy supplies. The whole system seems to work as an economic growth pump, with the rising wages of non-elite workers pushing the growth pump along.

The Big “Oops” Comes when the Price of Commodities Starts Rising Faster than Wages of Non-Elite Workers

Clearly the wages of non-elite workers need to be rising faster than commodity prices in order to push the economic growth pump along. The economic pump effect is lost when the wages of non-elite workers start falling, relative to the price of commodities. This tends to happen when the cost of commodity production begins rising rapidly, as it did for oil after 1999 (Figure 1).

The loss of the economic pump effect occurs because the rising cost of oil (or electricity, or food, or other energy products) forces workers to cut back on discretionary expenditures. This is what happened in the 2003 to 2008 period as oil prices spiked and other energy prices rose sharply. (See my article Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis.) Non-elite workers found it increasingly difficult to afford expensive products such as homes, cars, and washing machines. Housing prices dropped. Debt growth slowed, leading to a sharp drop in oil prices and other commodity prices.

Figure 2. World oil supply and prices based on EIA data.

Figure 2. World oil supply and prices based on EIA data.

It was somewhat possible to “fix” low oil prices through the use of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the growth of debt at very low interest rates, after 2008. In fact, these very low interest rates are what encouraged the very rapid growth in the production of US crude oil, natural gas liquids, and biofuels.

Now, debt is reaching limits. Both the US and China have (in a sense) “taken their foot off the economic debt accelerator.” It doesn’t seem to make sense to encourage more use of debt, because recent very low interest rates have encouraged unwise investments. In China, more factories and homes have been built than the market can absorb. In the US, oil “liquids” production rose faster than it could be absorbed by the world market when prices were over $100 per barrel. This led to the big price drop. If it were possible to produce the additional oil for a very low price, say $20 per barrel, the world economy could probably absorb it. Such a low selling price doesn’t really “work” because of the high cost of production.

Debt is important because it can help an economy grow, as long as the total amount of debt does not become unmanageable. Thus, for a time, growing debt can offset the adverse impact of the rising cost of energy products. We know that oil prices began to rise sharply in the 1970s, and in fact other energy prices rose as well.

Figure 4. Historical World Energy Price in 2014$, from BP Statistical Review of World History 2015.

Figure 3. Historical World Energy Price in 2014$, from BP Statistical Review of World History 2015.

Looking at debt growth, we find that it rose rapidly, starting about the time oil prices started spiking. Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, David Stockman, talks about “The Distastrous 40-Year Debt Supercycle,” which he believes is now ending.

Figure 4. Worldwide average inflation-adjusted annual growth rates in debt and GDP, for selected time periods. See post on debt for explanation of methodology.

Figure 4. Worldwide average inflation-adjusted annual growth rates in debt and GDP, for selected time periods. See post on debt for explanation of methodology.

In recent years, we have been reaching a situation where commodity prices have been rising faster than the wages of non-elite workers. Jobs that are available tend to be low-paid service jobs. Young people find it necessary to stay in school longer. They also find it necessary to delay marriage and postpone buying a car and home. All of these issues contribute to the falling wages of non-elite workers. Some of these individuals are, in fact, getting zero wages, because they are in school longer. Individuals who retire or voluntarily leave the work force further add to the problem of wages no longer rising sufficiently to afford the output of the system.

The US government has recently decided to raise interest rates. This further reduces the buying power of non-elite workers. We have a situation where the “economic growth pump,” created through the use of a rising quantity of cheap energy products plus rising debt, is disappearing. While homes, cars, and vacation travel are available, an increasing share of the population cannot afford them. This tends to lead to a situation where commodity prices fall below the cost of production for a wide range of types of commodities, making the production of commodities unprofitable. In such a situation, a person expects companies to cut back on production. Many defaults may occur.

China has acted as a major growth pump for the world for the last 15 years, since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. China’s growth is now slowing, and can be expected to slow further. Its growth was financed by a huge increase in debt. Paying back this debt is likely to be a problem.

Figure 5. Author's illustration of problem we are now encountering.

Figure 5. Author’s illustration of problem we are now encountering.

Thus, we seem to be coming to the contraction portion of the debt supercycle. This is frightening, because if debt is contracting, asset prices (such as stock prices and the price of land) are likely to fall. Banks are likely to fail, unless they can transfer their problems to others–owners of the bank or even those with bank deposits. Governments will be affected as well, because it will become more expensive to borrow money, and because it becomes more difficult to obtain revenue through taxation. Many governments may fail as well for that reason.

The U. S. Oil Storage Problem

Oil prices began falling in the middle of 2014, so we might expect oil storage problems to start about that time, but this is not exactly the case. Supplies of US crude oil in storage didn’t start rising until about the end of 2014.

Figure 6. US crude oil in storage, excluding SPR, based on EIA data.

Figure 6. US crude oil in storage, excluding Strategic Petroleum Reserve, based on EIA data.

Once crude oil supplies started rising rapidly, they increased by about 90 million barrels between December 2014 and April 2015. After April 2015, supplies dipped again, suggesting that there is some seasonality to the growing crude oil supply. The most “dangerous” time for rapidly rising amounts added to storage would seem to be between December 31 and April 30. According to the EIA, maximum crude oil storage is 551 million barrels of crude oil (considering all storage facilities). Adding another 90 million barrels of oil (similar to the run-up between Dec. 2014 and April 2015) would put the total over the 551 million barrel crude oil capacity.

Cushing, Oklahoma, is the largest storage area for crude oil. According to the EIA, maximum working storage for the facility is 73 million barrels. Oil storage at Cushing since oil prices started declining is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Crude oil stored at Cushing between June 27, 2014, and June 1, 2016. based on EIA data.

Figure 7. Quantity of crude oil stored at Cushing between June 27, 2014, and June 1, 2016, based on EIA data.

Clearly the same kind of run up in oil storage that occurred between December and April one year ago cannot all be stored at Cushing, if maximum working capacity is only 73 million barrels, and the amount currently in storage is 64 million barrels.

Another way of storing oil is as finished products. Here, the run-up in storage began earlier (starting in mid-2014) and stabilized at about 65 million barrels per day above the prior year, by January 2015.  Clearly, if companies can do some pre-planning, they would prefer not to refine products for which there is little market. They would rather store unneeded oil as crude, rather than as refined products.

Figure 7. Total Oil Products in Storage, based on EIA data.

Figure 8. Total Oil Products in Storage, based on EIA data.

EIA indicates that the total capacity for oil products is 1,549 million barrels. Thus, in theory, the amount of oil products stored can be increased by as much as 700 million barrels, assuming that the products needing to be stored and the locations where storage are available match up exactly. In practice, the amount of additional storage available is probably quite a bit less than 700 million barrels because of mismatch problems.

In theory, if companies can be persuaded to refine more products than they can sell, the amount of products that can be stored can rise significantly. Even in this case, the amount of storage is not unlimited. Even if the full 700 million barrels of storage for crude oil products is available, this corresponds to less than one million barrels a day for two years, or two million barrels a day for one year. Thus, products storage could easily be filled as well, if demand remains low.

At this point, we don’t have the mismatch between oil production and consumption fixed. In fact, both Iraq and Iran would like to increase their production, adding to the production/consumption mismatch. China’s economy seems to be stalling, keeping its oil consumption from rising as quickly as in the past, and further adding to the supply/demand mismatch problem. Figure 9 shows an approximation to our mismatch problem. As far as I can tell, the problem is still getting worse, not better.

Figure 1. Total liquids oil production and consumption, based on a combination of BP and EIA data.

Figure 9. Total liquids oil production and consumption, based on a combination of BP and EIA data.

There has been a lot of talk about the United States reducing its production, but the impact so far has been small, based on data from EIA’s International Energy Statistics and its December 2015 Monthly Energy Review.

Figure 10. US quarterly oil liquids production data, based on EIA data.

Figure 10. US quarterly oil liquids production data, based on EIA’s International Energy Statistics and Monthly Energy Review.

Based on information through November from EIA’s Monthly Energy Review, total liquids production for the US for the year 2015 will be about 700,000 barrels per day higher than it was for 2014. This increase is likely greater than the increase in production by either Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Perhaps in 2016, oil production of the US will start decreasing, but so far, increases in biofuels and natural gas liquids are partly offsetting recent reductions in crude oil production. Also, even when companies are forced into bankruptcy, oil production does not necessarily stop because of the potential value of the oil to new owners.

Figure 11 shows that very high stocks of oil were a problem, way back in the 1920s. There were other similarities to today’s problems as well, including a deflating debt bubble and low commodity prices. Thus, we should not be too surprised by high oil stocks now, when oil prices are low.

Figure 2. US ending stock of crude oil, excluding the strategic petroleum reserve. Figure produced by EIA. Figure by EIA.

Figure 11. US ending stock of crude oil, excluding the strategic petroleum reserve. Figure by EIA.

Many people overlook the problems today because the US economy tends to be doing better than that of the rest of the world. The oil storage problem is really a world problem, however, reflecting a combination of low demand growth (caused by low wage growth and lack of debt growth, as the world economy hits limits) continuing supply growth (related to very low interest rates making all kinds of investment appear profitable and new production from Iraq and, in the near future, Iran). Storage on ships is increasingly being filled up and storage in Western Europe is 97% filled. Thus, the US is quite likely to see a growing need for oil storage in the year ahead, partly because there are few other places to put the oil, and partly because the gap between supply and demand has not yet been fixed.

What is Ahead for 2016?

  1. Problems with a slowing world economy are likely to become more pronounced, as China’s growth problems continue, and as other commodity-producing countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and Australia experience recession. There may be rapid shifts in currencies, as countries attempt to devalue their currencies, to try to gain an advantage in world markets. Saudi Arabia may decide to devalue its currency, to get more benefit from the oil it sells.
  2. Oil storage seems likely to become a problem sometime in 2016. In fact, if the run-up in oil supply is heavily front-ended to the December to April period, similar to what happened a year ago, lack of crude oil storage space could become a problem within the next three months. Oil prices could fall to $10 or below. We know that for natural gas and electricity, prices often fall below zero when the ability of the system to absorb more supply disappears. It is not clear the oil prices can fall below zero, but they can certainly fall very low. Even if we can somehow manage to escape the problem of running out of crude oil storage capacity in 2016, we could encounter storage problems of some type in 2017 or 2018.
  3. Falling oil prices are likely to cause numerous problems. One is debt defaults, both for oil companies and for companies making products used by the oil industry. Another is layoffs in the oil industry. Another problem is negative inflation rates, making debt harder to repay. Still another issue is falling asset prices, such as stock prices and prices of land used to produce commodities. Part of the reason for the fall in price has to do with the falling price of the commodities produced. Also, sovereign wealth funds will need to sell securities, to have money to keep their economies going. The sale of these securities will put downward pressure on stock and bond prices.
  4. Debt defaults are likely to cause major problems in 2016. As noted in the introduction, we seem to be approaching the unwinding of a debt supercycle. We can expect one company after another to fail because of low commodity prices. The problems of these failing companies can be expected to spread to the economy as a whole. Failing companies will lay off workers, reducing the quantity of wages available to buy goods made with commodities. Debt will not be fully repaid, causing problems for banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. Even electricity companies may be affected, if their suppliers go bankrupt and their customers become less able to pay their bills.
  5. Governments of some oil exporters may collapse or be overthrown, if prices fall to a low level. The resulting disruption of oil exports may be welcomed, if storage is becoming an increased problem.
  6. It is not clear that the complete unwind will take place in 2016, but a major piece of this unwind could take place in 2016, especially if crude oil storage fills up, pushing oil prices to less than $10 per barrel.
  7. Whether or not oil storage fills up, oil prices are likely to remain very low, as the result of rising supply, barely rising demand, and no one willing to take steps to try to fix the problem. Everyone seems to think that someone else (Saudi Arabia?) can or should fix the problem. In fact, the problem is too large for Saudi Arabia to fix. The United States could in theory fix the current oil supply problem by taxing its own oil production at a confiscatory tax rate, but this seems exceedingly unlikely. Closing existing oil production before it is forced to close would guarantee future dependency on oil imports. A more likely approach would be to tax imported oil, to keep the amount imported down to a manageable level. This approach would likely cause the ire of oil exporters.
  8. The many problems of 2016 (including rapid moves in currencies, falling commodity prices, and loan defaults) are likely to cause large payouts of derivatives, potentially leading to the bankruptcies of financial institutions, as they did in 2008. To prevent such bankruptcies, most governments plan to move as much of the losses related to derivatives and debt defaults to private parties as possible. It is possible that this approach will lead to depositors losing what appear to be insured bank deposits. At first, any such losses will likely be limited to amounts in excess of FDIC insurance limits. As the crisis spreads, losses could spread to other deposits. Deposits of employers may be affected as well, leading to difficulty in paying employees.
  9. All in all, 2016 looks likely to be a much worse year than 2008 from a financial perspective. The problems will look similar to those that might have happened in 2008, but didn’t thanks to government intervention. This time, governments appear to be mostly out of approaches to fix the problems.
  10. Two years ago, I put together the chart shown as Figure 12. It shows the production of all energy products declining rapidly after 2015. I see no reason why this forecast should be changed. Once the debt supercycle starts its contraction phase, we can expect a major reduction in both the demand and supply of all kinds of energy products.
Figure 4. Estimate of future energy production by author. Historical data based on BP adjusted to IEA groupings.

Figure 12. Estimate of future energy production by author. Historical data based on BP adjusted to IEA groupings.


We are certainly entering a worrying period. We have not really understood how the economy works, so we have tended to assume we could fix one or another part of the problem. The underlying problem seems to be a problem of physics. The economy is a dissipative structure, a type of self-organizing system that forms in thermodynamically open systems. As such, it requires energy to grow. Ultimately, diminishing returns with respect to human labor–what some of us would call falling inflation-adjusted wages of non-elite workers–tends to bring economies down. Thus all economies have finite lifetimes, just as humans, animals, plants, and hurricanes do. We are in the unfortunate position of observing the end of our economy’s lifetime.

Most energy research to date has focused on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. While this is a contributing problem, this is really not the proximate cause of the impending collapse. The Second Law of Thermodynamics operates in thermodynamically closed systems, which is not precisely the issue here.

We know that historically collapses have tended to take many years. This collapse may take place more rapidly because today’s economy is dependent on international supply chains, electricity, and liquid fuels–things that previous economies were not dependent on.

I have written many articles on related subjects (unfortunately, no book). These are a few of them:

Low Oil Prices – Why Worry?

How Economic Growth Fails

Deflationary Collapse Ahead?

Oops! Low oil prices are related to a debt bubble

Why “supply and demand” doesn’t work for oil

Economic growth: How it works; how it fails; why wealth disparity occurs

We are at Peak Oil now; we need very low-cost energy to fix it


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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1,449 Responses to 2016: Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle

  1. Pingback: 2016: Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle | Groupe Gaulliste Sceaux

  2. Jan says:

    you might like this analysis (in german):

  3. richard says:

    Some here will _love_ this 😉
    “In the United States, businesses engaged in oil and gas extraction and refining spent almost $200 billion on new equipment and structures in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. Oil and gas extraction and refining accounted for more than 14 percent of all new capital expenditures in the United States in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
    “The impact is not confined to the United States. Oil and gas projects around the world worth $380 billion have been postponed or canceled since 2014 according to Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy.”
    “The first simple input-output model was the Tableau Economique compiled by the eighteenth century French economist Francois Quesnay (1694-1774). Quesnay used his input-output model to study how changes in the structure of demand, such as an increase in demand for luxuries, would influence net production and its distribution between social classes. Quesnay’s work was taken up by the American economist Wassily Leontief (1906-1999) who produced a series of increasingly detailed input-output matrices for the U.S. economy between 1919 and 1939.”
    “The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis prepares detailed input-output matrices for around 400 industries and commodities (“Concepts and Methods of the U.S. Input-Output Accounts,” Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2006). I-O tables list coefficients or multipliers showing how much input of each commodity or industry output is required to produce $1 of output from another industry.”
    “In an highly interconnected system, it is hardly surprising that such an enormous shock is rippling out to the rest of the economy (“Falling oil investment will hit U.S. economy” Jan. 21, 2015).”

  4. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Get this, the Dow premarket is +165 points. What news is driving that much enthusiasm?!
    Or, is it plunge protection at work?

    • AJY says:

      Bad Chinese data – everybody is expecting a stimulus package.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:


        Part way through the trading day and the Dow which hit +160 pts. in early trading has now dropped to close to 0. This has happened several times recently, i.e. it looked like it would be an up day only to end up a down day, which is reflective of a bear market. The Dow may have not hit the -20% mark yet (definition of a bear market) but it’s still playing out like a bear market and other stock markets around the world have already descended below the 20% mark. The Dow will probably follow suit and keep in mind that in 9 of the last 10 bear markets also mirrored recessions. The 4th qtr. GDP is estimated to have been .6%, so it is not far from dropping below 0 into recession territory – if it’s negative 2 months running, that’s the definition for a recession. Might be hard to stop at this point as the deflationary effects of less loaning of money has its effects on the economy.

        • AJY says:

          Up day in Europe and Asia, but might follow USA down tomorrow. It’s hard to see why the drop should stop – energy is already pretty cheap, there aren’t any more lands to colonise or emerging markets to boost, interest rates are as low as possible, the technology boost in the nineties probably wasn’t as big as some think and is now saturated – so what’s left to provide stimulus?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The stock market is meaningless

            The markets should have collapsed long ago

            They don’t – because the central banks have unlimited powers to print and buy all stocks that are sold

            In theory they could own the entire market …

            I can imagine stock prices hitting records — when the riots start and the military initiates martial law…

  5. Jeremy says:

    The world’s 62 richest billionaires have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population, according to a new report from Oxfam International.
    The wealthiest have seen their net worth soar over the five years ending in 2015. Back in 2010, it took 388 mega-rich people to own as much as half the world.
    And the Top 1% own more than everyone else combined — a milestone reached in 2015, a year earlier than Oxfam had predicted

    The income gap between the richest and poorest is also growing. The poorest 20% of the world — who live below the extreme poverty line, living on less than $1.90 a day — barely saw their incomes budge between 1988 and 2011, while the most prosperous 10% enjoyed a 46% jump


    To help counter inequality, Oxfam is renewing its call for global leaders to crack down on tax havens, where the rich have socked away $7.6 trillion, the group estimates.

    The end of BAU is near…REPENT

    • “The world’s 62 richest billionaires have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population, according to a new report from Oxfam International.”

      Half of the world’s population is under 30. If more people go to post secondary education with borrowed money, more people will have a negative networth until well into their 30s.

      If you have a positive networth of $1, you are wealthier than probably over 60 million Americans.

      If you give people credit, more people will choose to borrow. Sometimes, the assets decline in value while the debt increases exponentially.

      • Jeremy says:

        Matthew, where is the reference to back up you claim of “if”?
        Thank you for the fantasy explanation.

        PS Please go to the link for more information and data.

  6. MG says:

    Some thoughts on “hair body covering”:

    The human species is in fact “hairless ape”. The mutation that caused the loss of hair was the starting point when the human race originated. The Bible describes this phenomon as the result of “eating forbidden fruit”. The question remains, what caused this almost permanent mutation that resulted in the loss of hair? (Even nowadays, the human individuals with the body covered with hair are sometimes born, but this is an exception.) Was it some radiation exposure? Or what?

    This mutation caused the need for additional energy. It was not the additional energy that caused the loss of hair. Why? Because the human race is overmutated, suffers from accumulating mutations.

    According to the Bible, the God created the mankind in his image. The concept of such god represents the ideal that the human species is moving away from as the mutations acccumulate.

    The loss of hair body covering stood at the beginning of the quest for external energy and resources. The search for external energy brought the human race to various parts of the world. The increased need for food (as the heat is leaving the naked body more easily) and the external energy of fire moved the human race further and further in exploiting the world in securing energy sources.

    So, the control of the fire by the human species was determined by the deterioration of the human genome. It brought the human race advantages over other species. When the limits of the finite world are reached, the human species collapses not only from the lack of energy and resources, but also under the continuous accumulation of the mutations of which the loss of hair body covering stood at the beginning.

    • “This mutation caused the need for additional energy. It was not the additional energy that caused the loss of hair.”

      People lost hair so they can run in Africa. The easiest way to hunt is just to chase your prey until it dies of a heart attack. Gazelle has hair. Human no hair. Human can run longer in the hot sun.

      Most humans through most of history live in the tropics, where no heat or hair is needed. People living more than 30 degrees north or south have been a minority. Europeans only thrived once they got coal heating.

      Where exactly did you get this idea about degradation of the genome? Is it from Ken Ham?

      • MG says:

        From John C. Sanford. But there are also others (he is referring to) that claim the human genome degenerates. It sounds logical that the loss of hair requires protection of the body from energy loss in the form of clothes, additional food and external energy of fire.

      • MG says:

        Dear Matthew Krajcik,

        but why chasing gazelles when the apes were vegetarians? In my opinion, the hunting followed the loss of hair, as the meat brings a lot of energy.

        • “but why chasing gazelles when the apes were vegetarians?”

          Are you trying to have both biblical creation and progressive evolution at the same time? Trying to forcibly reconcile these two things into one?

          • MG says:

            When we have white human race, black human race and various other mutations of human race, it is evident that evolution exists. On the other hand, the degeneration of the human species is confirmed by the fact that the man is more and more unable to survive in the nature without the external energy and resources.

            When we take into account that the first humans were dark coloured like apes and the white race became dominant only after it started to use fossil fuels, it can be caused exactly by the fact that the white race is more degenerated than the original dark race of our ancestors that were similar to apes, as regards its fitness to survive in raw nature. The white race was literally forced to exploit energy and resources more extensively in order to survive. The totally white skin provides no protection to the body, is burnt by sun rays, while the darker skin absorbs heat.

            And as regards the Bible, it just gives some hints that seem to be quite useful.

            • Van Kent says:

              Umm.. What?!

            • MG says:

              Dear Van Kent,

              simply said: Was the evolution from hairy skin to white skin progressive? I would say that no, because the white skin has worse protective characteristics. The white-coloured skin is a mutation that made the human race more vunlerable.

              E.g. the white-coloured hairless pig would not survive in the nature: too pale for warm climate and dangerously naked for the cold climate. The process of the domestification of animals also created species that are not fit for living in the raw nature.

              The human species and its domesticated world is a product of cheap energy and resources.

            • “simply said: Was the evolution from hairy skin to white skin progressive?”

              I think you are confused. Darker skinned people tend to have less body hair, not more. Whether the hair is produced from epigenetics or from Caucasians’ ancestors breeding with Neanderthals, I don’t know.

            • DJ says:

              Or just easier to take up vit D being paleish

            • “On the other hand, the degeneration of the human species is confirmed by the fact that the man is more and more unable to survive in the nature without the external energy and resources.”

              Human beings are no more or less able to survive outdoors (biologically) than they were 10,000 years ago.

              “When we take into account that the first humans were dark coloured like apes and the white race became dominant only after it started to use fossil fuels,”

              Sure, Western Civilization is built on wood and fossil fuels. Not really a genetic thing.

              ” it can be caused exactly by the fact that the white race is more degenerated than the original dark race of our ancestors that were similar to apes, as regards its fitness to survive in raw nature. The white race was literally forced to exploit energy and resources more extensively in order to survive. ”

              I don’t think Africans would be better able to survive in Norway in winter without wood or electricity than Europeans. Are you not aware of climate zones? Most of the humans in the past lived in the Tropics. We need supplemental energy to thrive in the far north and south because it is colder there, not because we have somehow degenerated substantially.

              “The totally white skin provides no protection to the body, is burnt by sun rays, while the darker skin absorbs heat.

              Humans need a certain amount of sunlight to make vitamin D and other vitamins, which are also needed to absorb other vitamins. Light skin allows people further north to get enough sunlight so they don’t get rickets and colon cancer. Dark skinned people who move too far North in the past would suffer from these, just like light skinned people get skin cancer in the Tropics more easily. With our fossil fuel wealth, we have fortified foods and sunscreen to overcome these factors.

              Gingers are an extreme adaptation of this, since they tend to be in places that are not only far north, but also tend to be cloudy. Freckles absorb sunlight at an enhanced rate.

              Any isolated population living in a fixed area will adapt its skin color to match its average levels of sunlight over time, unless they have other factors. For example, Inuit eat a lot of fish and wear lots of clothes, so their skin did not go lighter to absorb more sunlight.

          • Greg Machala says:

            Get it while the gettin’s good seems to come to mind.

        • humankind—in its current big brain/toolmaking form–originated on the sea-margins.
          how? Because big brains need high protien concentrations.
          Where are they? In seafood, in particular shellfish. Shellfish don’t run away from hunters, but have armour instead.
          So what do you need to penetrate armour? Tools
          So who was likely to invent tools? The female. She has young to care for and so cannot go hunting, so must find food if the male doesn’t return with an animal.
          So she breaks open shellfish–the best source of brain nutrition there is.
          Humans have layers of body fat but no hair–the perfect in/out of water combination

          • MG says:

            The sea margins? If the man was a hunter, he had to use the tools before the woman started to break the shellfish. The monkeys have hair and body fat, too.

            I would say that the rising brain activity started to consume a lot of energy in the human body and that is why the human body started to need more and more external energy. The concentration on the intellectual activity, i. e. working with brain, requires constant supply of energy and resources, not interrupted by scarcity – that is why we have high-paid jobs and low-paid jobs.

            With the declining resources, more and more brain activity is needed.

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Just because seafood is a good source of “brainfood” doesn’t mean that it was a vital component in human brain development. Nuts are also a good source. And following this logic, other animals that also eat these food sources would also develop bigger brains if there were no other factors involved.

            Isn’t it more likely that humans underwent species specific mutations caused by viral infections leading to improved perception, imagination etc. vital for more advanced use of tools? Just a thought.

            As for the layers of fat, there are plenty of animals that are much better equipped in that department – walrusses, whales, seals – for the occasional dip in the ocean. And seals are not exactly hairless either… but they do like their seafood and use tools to open clams.

            Taken to the extreme, some of the most exceptional in/out of water mammals such as Polar Bears possess a long coat of hair that doesn’t appear to affect them in the slightest when swimming long distances in water.

            Are you sure that the rules are as rigid as you make them out them out to be?

            • i didn’t intend that rules should be rigid in any respect—obviously millions of minute genetic changes can end up creating a different species with different end-use adaptations
              big brains–opposing thumb-forefinger—-toolmaking—firecontrol—shellfish—seashore living–food preservation (via smoking)….the list goes on and on. Even now, humankind might be in a dead end of our own making, there is no way we can know that

            • Van Kent says:

              Rick, humans are the only other mammal that has a genetic adaptation for diving. When we freedive to 30ft or so our bodies begin to divert oxygen to the heart and the brain, like the seals.

              This is believed to be because the bottleneck after the Toba erruption was so severe, that our surviving ancestors had to “hunt and gather” by the sea, on the ocean floor, at the Horn of Africa to survive.

              Before the Toba erruption there were many many family trees, everywhere, of our distant cousins. We are hybrids of hybrids of hybrids. We, all of us, are one species.

              We eat anything if its cooked. Thats our strength, not specifically mussels or peanuts, roots or herbs. Anything in the cooking pot, thats what ensured our ancestors survival in horrendous circumstances.

            • Rick Grimes says:

              End of More and Van Kent,

              Do you suspect that we as a species are heading for another bottleneck situation where the human ability to adapt and evolve will allow many of our species to survive as they did after the Toba event, only with the advantage of having built up a widely dispersed and much larger population?

              Or do you believe that the spent fuel ponds firmly put a nail in the coffin of any such idea? i.e. “Even now, humankind might be in a dead end of our own making…”

              A few of us made it through the bottleneck or bottlenecks in our history surviving devastating natural disasters. This time, we face the possibility of nuclear armageddon. Is it possible that some humans, say in the southern hemisphere, could survive and adapt, even sustaining severe mutations?

              What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

            • my thoughts on seafood/shellfish as likely nutrition is based on a certain logic that a female is left with the responsibility of feeding her offspring.
              she cannot chase food, so she has 2 options
              1 dig it out of the ground
              2 break it open from shellfish or leftover bones.
              (Ive seen my own kids given bone marrow on toast as a treat–they loved it)
              both involve tools—I now have a family of rocket scientists!!!—well almost.
              men might run around waving spears and getting themselves killed, while women, in my observation, are way smarter and fix things without fuss—hence toolmaking and use. If they die, their child/investment likely dies too.
              It is they who would hang meat up out of the way of dogs etc–hence it would get smoked and preserved.
              Take another critical factor—pot making:
              Scoop a hollow in the ground, build a fire in it.
              If by chance that scoop is in clay, the fire will harden the clay and rainwater will collect in it.
              Doesnt take long to figure out that fire hardens clay and you can shape it to make pots—one of the critical factors relating to progress of civilisation–and I’d guess that females spotted that too—and no–the missis isn’t twisting my arm!!!
              There are a million minute genetic influences that lead to a developed species—no one factor is responsible for it.
              Ive read comments on here about hunting speeds (to aid survival etc) I would suggest that a man isn’t intended to run vast distances. He can’t ‘run down’ antelopes on open savannah. Hunters might stalk/walk 20 miles in cooperative groups–then run maybe the last few yards to make a kill—more logical—but of course its unprovable–but that would account for communal activity.

            • Van Kent says:

              End, I wasn´t suggesting a common practice of running down antilopes, instead they probably wounded the animal, with some sort of poison dart, and then in all comfort followed the tracks and got there before the scavangers. Just because you can run down an animal, it doesn´t mean they would actually do it like that.

              Rick, yup, walipinis (artificial growing habitats) in NZ are possible, therefore extinction (not even a dozen mating pairs left) must involve something truly horrible, like turning this planet in to a Venus or Mars.

        • Rick Grimes says:

          Humans decend from frugivore apes that are mostly vegetarian but supplement with bugs and small animals, even monkeys. At no time do apes appear to have been 100% vegetarian and human beings obviously developed a greater interest in meat after harnessing fire allowing them to consume larger amounts while neutralizing parasitic infection and other nasties. Starvation in arid areas may also have played a role in the shift to a more meat and dairy dependant diet.

          • Van Kent says:

            MG, your views have so many contradictory point to science well established, that I´m not sure where to begin with you.

            D-vitamin is essential for our health, when the sun hits our skin, the skin produces D-vitamin. Because of clothes, and winter, we need high D-vitamin sources like fish. But even thats not enough, thats why pale skin is better up north.

            Pale skin doesn´t actually burn when constantly outside, it tanns. Our pale skinned ancestors were actually quite well tanned, all of them..

            Humans are the only animal capable of running down any other animal in sub Saharan savannah. Its a long distance run. We sweat, we have no fur.

            • Rick Grimes says:

              I’ve seen this in relatives that worked in the fishing industry and on the decks of merchant ships spending all hours under the hot sun. Many had very pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, good viking blood. After a life at sea not one them had problems with skin cancer. What they had was skin that cured by the combination of sun and salt in regular doses until they were so tanned that their skin was like leather.

              I still wouldn’t recommend that fair skinned poeple build up their tans to that level of resistance. And you certainly wouldn’t stay out in the sun on day one of your experiment. It would take lots of micro sessions and then you’d have to stick with it for food.

              For most of us, the toxicity of a good suncream is still the best compromise.

            • Rick Grimes says:

              Wow, must proofread more.

              “skin that was “cured”

              “and then you’d have to stick with it for “good”

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Estimado Van Kent,

            I agree with most of your recap of human history, but I’m not sure that your dietary advice, while I’m sure is based on observable facts, is practical across the spectrum of day to day human experience.

            Although some comsumption of meat is recommended by mainstream western doctors, many nutritionists and complementary medical practitioners promote the vegetarian lifestyle. In my own experience, after having consulted many specialists from all the camps, by far the most knowledgable on nutrition and gut health were the doctors that had studied complementary medicine. Every time I brought up the question of protein, they simply asked whether I consumed dairy to which I would answer “yes” and they would reply “fine”. End of conversation.

            I think the reason for the belief that some people need meat or that all people do arises from the extreme raw-only vegan approach. Some people do get carried away with fads and it’s that that leads to problems after a period of improved energy and health benefits. They tend to eat only raw fruit and veg which of course doesn’t even come close to the variety of nutrients that a gorilla would consume.

            Lifelong vegetarians that follow a balanced approach eating a broad range of foods, both cooked and raw, including eggs and dairy and even occasional chicken or fish i.e. not a strict regimen, generally don’t have any problems at all. In fact, some of the strongest athletes on the planet are vegetarians and claim reduction of imflammotary issues more commonly associated with overconsumption of red meat.

            On the other hand, vegetables are not always your best friend by default. I have a lifelong strong sensitivity to nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers) which I only resolved recently. In fact, it’s the naturally ocurring pesticide in the skins of these plants that cause the problem. Easy to avoid on a personal level and obviously doesn’t affect everyone in equal measure. It would be interesting to know how much variation there is from person to person in not only their eating habits but what things they should be avoiding too.

            There are three body types and combinations comprising the three types. Different types of foods are recommended for each type. For example, sweet, sour, fatty foods are recommended for lighter body frames whereas astringent, fibrous greens and pulses are better for larger types that tend to gain weight. The middle range tend to overheat leading to anger issues and duodenic ulcer so they’d do well to avoid hot, spicy foods and eat more salads etc.

            If it was good enough for the Rajas of India it’s good enough for me.

      • Rick Grimes says:

        Being a skin sweater or a mouth sweater must play a role too. Dogs are able to chase until their prey tires no matter how much fur they have… in colder climates. I’m not sure how they fare in warmer climates but they tend to have less hair. Maybe strategies adapt according to conditions e.g. more scavenging, less hunting and tracking.

        And lets not forget that elephants have also lost their fur. And pigs. At least when compared to woolly mammoths and wild boar. Is that because they also need to run longer in the hot sun chasing prey? In that case, why havent the hairy prey animals in africa also lost their fur so that they can outrun the predators?

        Since humans sweat through skin it would indeed be a real problem if they had a lot of fur trying to do anything more strenuous than pick fruit and leaves and laze around in the forest.

        This would have been to their benefit as they made their way around the tropics following animal herds but as they began to track migratory behaviour into colder climes, then the natural loss of body hair became a set back that required a technological solution. Since hunter gatherers were only killing as much as they needed to survive on a daily or seasonal basis, the animal skins they harvested for warmth and building materials were replenished with ease. At least until the human population grew too big and then die off would bring things back into balance again.

        Now that is living within your means.

        • Van Kent says:

          Rick, our bodies are built for long distance runs. The Neanderthal were wrestlers, we are runners.

          The adaptation to other hostile climates somehow involved shamans and a carefull study of animals in those conditions, and copying their traits, habits, fur (clothes), movements etc.

          Its not exactly clear why we run. Maybe because in the Horn of Africa good quality obsidian was located only in specific sites and our ancestors traded these very valuable cutting tools far and wide (more stuff in the cooking pot). Maybe other reasons warranted a wider territory, then just a few trees and a creek. That part is still open for conversation.

        • “And lets not forget that elephants have also lost their fur. And pigs. At least when compared to woolly mammoths and wild boar. Is that because they also need to run longer in the hot sun chasing prey?”

          Mammoths and wild boar live further north than the elephants and pigs. Pigs and elephants have little to no sweat glands, so they use water and mud to cool off. Hairlessness seems to be associated with mammals that spend a lot of time in the mud.

          ” In that case, why haven’t the hairy prey animals in africa also lost their fur so that they can outrun the predators?”

          Thick, short hair or fur enables animals to travel through or hide in thorny bushes without getting all slashed up.

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Good reply.

            I was just wondering how rapidly animals are able to adapt to new environments and other changes. It would appear that most species are relatively “locked in” to whatever way of life they evolved into. Even small changes like no bushes to hide in could signify rapid die off of both the hunted as well as the specialist hunter. This is what we witness anyway and human intervention in these matters appears to be little more than a vanity project.

            Humans on the hand take pride in their superior ability to rapidly adapt to new situations, but I’m beginning to wonder if that still holds the more dependent we become on electronic technology. I would go as far as saying that most people in the west are domesticated to an extent that they would go into shock if they had to dig a ditch or skin a buck…

            Humans do have a history of covering themselves with mud. And it works a treat to block solar radiation. I’m not sure about other types of radiation though…

    • Don B says:

      Hi MG,

      Considering the lack of evidence for a God, even evidence to the contrary, doesn’t it seem far more likely that mankind created God(s) in their image?

      Don B

      • MG says:

        Dear Don B,

        well, with the energy and resource depletion, it is sure that we are moving away from the ideals, not the opposite way. The cheap energy and resource allowed us to be and live like gods.

        • Greg Machala says:

          ” The cheap energy and resource allowed us to be and live like gods.” Live “like” Gods being the key word. Reminds me of the IKEA discussion earlier. We are like God about as much as IKEA particle board is like real wood. False Gods. Were we not warned of that sort of thing?

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Very well put. I wouldn’t equate anything that humans have done, anything that they have built, or even dreamed of as coming close to my idea of what “gods” or a singular god would be capable of. We are builders and destroyers. Gods would have no need for such passtimes.

            I have come close at times to accepting the idea that some kind of intelligence underlies everything that we have observed in the universe. But the closer I arrive to that conclusion, the more I question why a universal consciousness would put most of the life that has existed on this planet through an inordinate amount of brutality, pain, and suffering dealt by teeth, claws, spears, swords, bullets, bombs, and microbes (our true masters).

            Is it any wonder that people turn away from religious belief when hopes and dreams are destroyed and loved ones are “unfairly” wrenched from this existence no matter the faith or how devout the faithful?

            • Ed says:

              Unless free will is the most costly gift given to humankind. Then the evil of the world is the price of free will. We are not puppets.

    • pintada says:

      Dear MG;

      I always liked the aquatic ape theory myself …

      It doesn’t seem reasonable to me that an ape would become hairless just because it started running around on the plains. If that were true, it seems that lions would be hairless too.

      Yours in Clothing,

      • Rick Grimes says:

        Lions and cheetahs don’t do long distance running or tracking in the heat. They are master sprinters after which they are exhausted. And even lions prefer to scavenge when carcasses are readily available. Anything to save energy.

        Humans on the other hand developed good skin sweating so that our largest organ could be easily cooled by the air even as we kept moving. Humans could also carry water in gourds with them as they tracked prey and a selection of anti-inflamatory and painkilling herbs. I feel this last part is overlooked as it probably was a decisive factor that gave humans the ultimate edge in tracking prey over large distances.

        I’m fairly sure that much of our religious ideas originated from consuming copious amounts of halucinogens in our spare time when not chasing our food…

  7. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    The comments have been a little negative today. Interesting – thank you – but negative none the less. I may be able to cheer the group up a little. 😉 I got this from the robertscribbler site just now, it consists of three guys commenting on one of the measurable, documented facts of anthropogenic global warming. They are trying to get their minds around a number that is scarier than the economic/energy situation.

    Colorado Bob / January 18, 2016
    “150 zettajoules of energy” Equals the energy of 935.21 cubic miles of oil.

    Pretzel Logic / January 18, 2016
    So 300 zettajoules is roughly 1870.42 cubic miles of oil? “The world’s oceans absorbed approximately 150 zettajoules of energy from 1865 to 1997, and then absorbed about another 150 in the next 18 years”

    robertscribbler / January 18, 2016
    Or something in the range of 1 trillion tons. In other words, 1 million megatons.

    You may have seen that number expressed as: adding the same amount of energy as 1 Hiroshima sized nuclear weapon to the oceans every second 27/7/365 since 1865.

    The latest result of adding 300 zettajoules to the energy content of the worlds oceans is described rather conservatively in this post:

    Just before Christmas, for the first time in recorded history, it rained at the north pole. Now, for the first time in recorded history, there is a tropical storm warming the ice in Greenland, and will likely cause rain and thawing over much of the island during the next week.

    When that heat reaches the Arctic Sea floor (tomorrow? in 5 years?), the methane clathrates there will begin to melt, and when they are done melting the Earths average temperature will go up at least 8 degrees centigrade, and every land organism larger than a field mouse will be extinct. BUT, since Ms. Tvergerg is likely correct, we will stop emitting CO2 soon and that scenario may not occur.

    I come to “Our Finite World” to get cheered up … worked again.

    Thanks to all,

    • Ed says:

      150 zettajooulle is the energy delivered to the earth by the sun in five years. Hard to see how we got and extra 5 years in the last 18 years.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      pintada, the oceans are a great heat sink but with 150 zetajoules added in 15 years really puts our situation into dire perspective. I’m always trying to find out more information about the clathrates in the arctic ocean bottom to see if they are destabilizing or not. It’s hard to get a handle on when they could fizz and we subsequently get toasted. I wish there was a clearer picture of that situation. In any case, if economic upheaval stops most manmade CO2 emissions, saving the planet’s diversity, then let the collapse begin! It may be the best news possible at this point.

      • richard says:

        Methane gas emissions in the Arctic Ocean? I thought that was already happening?

        • Van Kent says:

          Paul Beckwith says its already happening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvPr7AKDxBw

        • pintada says:

          Yes, it is happening from the ocean, and from bogs, and from lakes. Man made reservoirs are a great source of methane. In fact, the atmosphere over the Arctic shows a consistent increase in methane concentration. If just that continues, I’m pretty confident that large mammals will live on. This is different:


          The paper calculated the effects of releasing 50 gigatonnes of methane. There are at least 3000 gigatons available. If 50 gigaton are emitted, what is to keep the rest from melting?

          • Van Kent says:

            “If 50 gigaton are emitted, what is to keep the rest from melting?”

            Nothing. It will not happen overnight, but within a millenia, yup, all of it will go. Then comes the interesting question, what feedbackloops exist in a warmer world that drives the temperature back down. That has happened over and over again, so, it might take a while, but nothing suggests it wont happen again. My guess is algae everywhere, poisoning the oceans, but gathering massive amounts of carbon within centuries.

            • Stilgar Wilcox says:

              “My guess is algae everywhere, poisoning the oceans, but gathering massive amounts of carbon within centuries.”

              Very possible, and wouldn’t it be ironic if a generation far into the future started burning that stored carbon to accelerate progress, followed by an archeological dig discovering a long lost civilization (ours) was powered by burning FF. But then in spite of the scientific findings and implications of burning FF causing growth that will reach limits and collapse with dire shifts in climate change, the wealthy barons that own the FF will exercise power through the political process to burn the FF anyway. Maybe it’s a forgone conclusion that cycling will occur numerous times over the history of the planet, but there’s nothing we can do to change what happens because greed/materialism are irresistible.

            • I’ve been saying all along
              that if every barrel of oil and every petrol pump and every car filler nozzle had
              OIL KILLS PLANETS printed on it by law—(just like cigs)
              we would still burn the stuff as fast as possible

            • daddio7 says:

              Did the greed of Ray Kroc force people to buy billions of burgers? Did the greed of Henry Ford push millions of people out of their horse drawn buggies into model Ts? Did some oligarch’s greed clear the thousands of bicycles from Tienanmen Square? Did Steve Job’s greed put an iPhone in almost everyone’s hand?

              People want to burn hydrocarbons. Yes it has been proven to be bad but so are cigarettes, booze, and drugs but people have risked prison time to get their fix. People get rich fulfilling those needs but greed doesn’t create customers.

      • Don B says:

        Hello Stilgar Wilcox,

        With the collapse of most man made C02 emissions comes increased heating as the sulphates and particulate matter of industrial empire settles out of our atmosphere. In a way, industrial empire is geoengineering a cooler climate through atmospheric dimming. Ultimately we are done no matter which way it plays out.

        Don B

      • pintada says:

        Dear Stilgar Wilcox;

        “… if economic upheaval stops most manmade CO2 emissions, saving the planet’s diversity, then let the collapse begin! It may be the best news possible at this point.”

        We seem to be on the same page.


  8. Fast Eddy says:

    Pushing on a string…

    Turns out, our delicious central-bank alphabet soup of QE, ZIRP, and NIRP is losing its effectiveness in inflating stock prices. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. Also look at Japan and Sweden. Despite massive QE programs by their central banks, their stock markets have dropped 19% and 24% respectively.



  9. Ed says:

    US crude that’s worth less than nothing
    puts the price of North Dakota Sour at -$0.50 a barrel

  10. richard says:

    “There is just one problem with the Saudi plan: even assuming all of these companies file Chapter 11, all that would happen is their debt would be wiped out, with the existing creditors getting the equity keys, and becoming the new owners of streamlined, debt-free corporations. This would means that the All In Cost Of Production would plunge as no debt payments would have to be satisfied with the free cash flow. Meanwhile, the entire existing E&P infrastructure would still be in place and ready to pump as before.”
    Not exactly. If the price is low enough, nobody is under pressure to pump. And the 350Bn hole has to be filled, and suppose the assets are bought by megaoilcorp, for pennies, dividend flow will shrink, so no money flows to pension funds so more assets get sold off. A severe case of indidgestion.

    • Ed says:

      I am glad you point this out. As this oil fight is a national existence issue, the FED will keep these companies alive in their new debt free incarnation.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Actually … wiping out debt does not just mean cleaning off the black board…

      It would mean the Fed would have to absorb the losses otherwise the banks holding that debt would be in serious trouble ….

      This is a pretty big number: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-18/these-are-cash-flow-negative-energy-companies-us-total-debt-325-billion

      And it is only the beginning… bigger oil companies will soon have problems with oil at these levels….

      And don’t forget the other massive resource companies that will need debt forgiveness….. Glencore is looking very shaky…

      What would this do to CONfidence if the central banks start having to bail out massive companies like this? Wave upon wave of fear and panic will crash into the global economy…..

      Bail outs dot not fix the core problem which is one of demand — bail outs would do nothing to increase demand for commodities…

    • Stan says:

      “…the Saudi plan: even assuming all of these companies file Chapter 11”
      The Saudis wanted to crush shale oil, right? Having succeded beyond their dreams, are they celebrating much?
      How doe one factor behavior like this in predicting future oil prices/availabilty? (or is this another arguement for chaos theory?)

  11. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Taking off from the preceding quotation from BW Hill, and trying to apply it in my area of concern: food. I’m going to present a half-baked analysis, but one which I think may be instructive.

    Hill maintains that a 7:1 EROEI is required in order to maintain the society that produces and consumes the oil I believe that EROEI is as measured at the gas pump. The EROEI on food as measured at the refrigerator door is 0.1:1. If we measure the food EROEI at the farm gate it is 2 or 3:1.

    Now I pose the question: How much would the food production EROEI have to be to support our current civilization (forget all the absurdities of the assumption…they won’t last). And I would say that it will probably have to be 7:1, which means that it has to increase by the ratio of 7/0.1, or 70 times. But now lets suppose everyone gets smarter and starts using optimal food production methods, and on the farm and garden production doubles. Then the ratio needs to be 35 times higher. I see no way that we can visualize agricultural energy as powering anything like our current civilization.

    The problem, just as in BW Hill’s analysis, is that the civilization is just too costly. The overhead cannot be paid for by squeezing a little more out of a stripper well, or by increasing production from your garden with better cover cropping.

    For our amusement, let’s try to visualize a civilization which could be supported by the energy produced in a farm and garden dependent world. I’ll submit the following list:
    *No expensive government. One riot, one ranger.
    *No debts
    *No promises to pay
    *Land redistribution. Most everyone gardens and/or farms
    *Small grains for calories, grown on either small farms or large gardens
    *Very few exotic foodstuffs which cannot be home grown
    *Minimization of transport. Transport beyond a very local area limited to dry products such as grains and beans and distilled products like whiskey.
    *Water powered grain processing in tens of thousands of local mills
    *Killing of competitive species such as deer. No more recreational shooting of deer in the back yard which have been trained to come in for corn.
    *In the best of worlds, we would use modern knowledge to team with microbes. Plenty of work, but not much backbreaking work and not especially dangerous.
    *Populations generally without chronic diseases

    Infant mortality is a big question mark to me. This was historically a major killer.

    Don Stewart

    • Van Kent says:

      Don, infant mortality is a combination of better health and nutrition of the mother, excellent midwives, avoiding complications during birth, vaccines and better care and nutrition during the first few weeks.

      I can´t see infant mortality crashing immediately, but in one generation yes. Without modern medicine inflammations will again make giving birth a deadly ordeal.

      Don, can you give us your best estimate of the ratio of number of farmers, when everybody should have a personal garden, would that result in every other person, or one third, to be a “full time” farmer?

      • Don Stewart says:

        Van Kent
        If you follow the argument between Rockman and BW Hill and various others which is occurring right at this moment on Peak Oil, you will get a range of opinions. Hill is obviously giving very pessimistic for oil opinions. His model is not explicitly about politics or finance, but one can draw inferences. For example, when someone challenges him by stating that all the ‘overhead’ costs such as education and health care and roads and military are actually paid for by taxes, Hill points out that taxes just about cover the interest on the federal debt. Consequently, we are in the position where we are pretending that things are OK, when they are definitely not OK. Gail doesn’t start from the same analytical framework as Hill, but her overall conclusions are similarly pessimistic.

        I don’t know that anyone can accurately predict when all this is going to collapse…I sure can’t do it.

        But when I look at how societies worked which used almost entirely the energy from photosynthesis, they were very much simpler than societies today. I tried to post some obituaries from about 1905 in northern Oklahoma here. Maybe they are still in the pipeline. In 1905 Oklahoma was not yet a state, the land had just been settled by homesteaders, and most people were farmers. But there were railroads. It was possible for someone who was sick to get on a train and go to Kansas City to a good hospital. But most people died without seeing a doctor before their death. A child was just reported as having died a few days after birth, or a man took to his bed feeling bad, and just died. A farmer working in the field was crushed by his agricultural implements. And so forth. Yet there are people who decided to become a wheelwright, or a blacksmith, or some ‘urban’ occupation. So my guess is that, if we still had some amount of non-photosynthesis energy, similar to the small amounts of coal used on the railroads and the coal oil in lamps from 1905, then probably 80 or 90 percent of the people would be directly involved in food. Even a blacksmith probably had a wife who tended a garden. A 1910 soil survey in this county revealed that very few farmers had tractors, and very few used fertilizers (this was about the time that Frank King was visiting in Asia and wrote Farmers of Forty Centuries.)
        The farmers mostly had kitchen gardens in addition to their cash crops which were transported by rail to the major markets.

        The other thing you get from reading the old obituaries is how many things have not changed. For example, a couple of young men are in Ponca City, Oklahoma (population about 3,000 at the time) when they meet a couple of young women. They invite the young women to go for a ride (the surrey with the fringe on top?). They hire two buggies and ride out of town, darkness falls, they turn around and one of the men is attacked by some highwaymen and shot. His money is taken from him, and the robbers disappear. At the inquest, the young women are questioned carefully, but for lack of any evidence, no charges are filed and the murderers are never caught. So the ‘human drama’ plays out with different props but very similar motivations. The obituary writer for the little country paper takes the event to rant about the sinful nature of big cities.

        My guess is that it is an excellent time for people to think about developing some survival skills.

        Don Stewart

        • In all societies prior to this one, 90%+ of people were involved in primary energy production—ie food. There was no choice in that, because energy production didn’t provide sufficient surplus for more.
          only hydrocarbons gave us sufficient surplus to create our current ‘civilisation’.
          there’s no doubt that survival skills are going to be needed in our future—but the ability to use them is going to be very patchy.
          I know for instance that it takes 1000 tons of tree to make 100 tons of charcoal to make 1 ton of iron–in rough amounts.
          But I wouldn’t know what to do with a ton of iron if my life depended on it.

          It is the infrastructure in a railway that consumes the fuel and minerals–iron etc—there is no way a primitive ironworking system could produce a functioning railtrack or adequately maintain one.

          True–societies were ‘simpler’ a century ago, but back then people accepted death as inevitable. Knowledge of anything different did not exist. People died from a variety of causes seen as incurable no matter what your social status. So you buried your dead and got on with life.
          Imagine a ‘downsized’ society now, where knowledge does exist–that a disease is curable. Suppose you are removed from access to medication because your finances don’t allow it, but are aware that those with means can buy treatment they need either for themselves or family.
          That is the stuff of violent revolution

          • Don Stewart says:

            Dear End of More

            Here are the obituaries I had previously tried to post. You can make lots of observations about life 110 years ago on the Oklahoma prairie by taking a look at them. The newspaper is from a town which had about 300 people at the time, but was surrounded by farms. So most of the people were farmers. The town reached its peak in 1930, and began a long decline, prompted in part by the Dust Bowl and the Depression. Notice the reliance on religion to ease the pain of premature death. Also notice the emphasis on the ‘conversion’ of people to some particular Christian sect…a guarantee of a heavenly home. Notice the excellent train service, as people traveled for the popular minister’s funeral.


            Also worth a look is this recent obit for a woman who died at the age of 101. Look at the words she prepared in anticipation of her own death. In 1933, at the height of the Dust Bowl and Depression, her little town invented a Watermelon Festival and she was the Queen. The town currently has a population of around 400. When I was young, the watermelon festival was still going strong. Watermelons grow well there due to the sand..


            If you use Google Maps to look up Braman (the newspaper town) you will find a very scattered array of buildings, with many vacant lots. Salt Fork isn’t even a wide spot in the road any more.

            IF the future is a dispersed rural population, then we will have to reinvent what Braman and Salt Fork were all about.

            Don Stewart

            • Dear Don

              Like me—you’re an obituary fan. I love reading them, a real insight into history
              Thanks for that link—got really absorbed in it—saving much of it for later. Real life history there.

              I think the big difference between then and now is ‘expectations’.
              We have enjoyed a lifestyle (still do really) where we ‘expect’ certain things to ‘be’.
              Health wealth, movement, security, education, all those basics, provided by someone else.
              Despite dreams of a ‘downsized’ lifestyle, ultimately it would be a nightmare of survival.
              100 years ago—the industrial infrastructure was moving forward, so every year seemed better than the last.
              When this goes into reverse, and every year gets a little worse than the last, we will still have ‘expectations ‘ that things could be better…..maybe ‘next year’.
              The fundamental basis of civilised living is not the ability to move around on wheels (the problem that obsesses everyone from Musk downwards), but the problem of having clean water delivered and our body wastes removed and sufficient food energy being made available. (there are other problems obviously, but those are the prime ones)
              In a permanently downsized (and diminishing) society we will have to do that for ourselves—one of those messy subjects that no downsizers seem to want to discuss..
              Anyone not ‘getting that’ should try carrying a 2 litre bottle of water home from the supermarket every day instead of using a car. Most of us don’t live anywhere near a clean water supply.—but we need that amount and ‘expect’ it to be available. little towns centred around reliable water sources can do that—cities can’t. Same applies to wastes.
              I’ve been commenting on the same subject here:

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Great points.

              Most green people would look at you like you were nuts if you suggested they take the bus/walk/ride a bike… instead of driving a car…

              Or they’d say – look mate it’s a Tesla — it’s environmentally friendly….

            • DJ says:

              How different you would choose house in a non-BAU world. Proximity to water, food etc

              Now: time commuting to city * salary per time / mortgage rate 😉

            • Don,

              I know you have a bit of a passion for Edo period Japan, so when I stumbled on this bit of art and culture, some insight into what the people of Edo did to pass the time, I felt compelled to share this gem with you.

              Here is a series of drawings of men taking part in farting competitions (he-gassen):

          • xabier says:


            A statistic which might amuse you: what manpower was needed in the 13th century to take a Crusader army of 33,000 from Venice to Egypt? 30,000 sailors and oarsmen, according to the contract: Venice suspended all trading enterprises for 2 years to prepare the ships, etc, and devoted half her manpower to the venture. I wonder if anyone can come up for a similar stat for the transport of the Allied armies to Normandy in 1944?

            • warfare has always consumed a lot of energy as well as expending it. Until the advent of the industrial revolution, arrowheads had to be beaten out one at a time, and until the modern rifle, musket balls were made by dropping molten lead from shot towers.
              Thus battles couldn’t last longer than a day because there was no means of sustaining them.
              WW1 was the first factory-war, where troops were literally at the end of a conveyor belt to keep battles going. A narrow gauge steam railway was built behind the lines so that the fighting need never stop.
              The armaments makers of course, saw to it that it never stopped.
              The generals of WW1 had been the young soldiers who had trained 40 years earlier in the era of single shot rifles. Any concept of the destructive power of the machine gun was beyond their comprehension,
              This aspect of warfare seemed so important to our modern times that I devoted a chapter to it in my book, The End of More
              called “The Wages of War” because it has been our factory production system of armaments that has made ‘conventional’ war an unaffordable thing of the past.
              Now AK47s are freely available, and a few hundred terrorists/freedom fighters can virtually bankrupt nations . So the treasure of nations is consumed by a few desert tribesmen. (think of the cost of the US fleet on permanent station in Bahrain.—scarily comparable perhaps with the venetian fleet that was necessary to support the crusaders.

            • daddio7 says:

              So the mighty US military is held down by a few rag tag insurgents with AK 47s. No mention of Iranian money and armaments. How about billionaire oil sheikhs providing funding? We kill tens of thousands of them, how about surrounding nations with high birth rates funneling in fresh men?

              We did not lose to North Vietnam, we lost to Russia and China. The same with North Korea. There is no hope of victory in the Middle East. But it does look like the blood for cheap oil thing is totally working.

            • “So the mighty US military is held down by a few rag tag insurgents with AK 47s. No mention of Iranian money and armaments.”

              Iran is fighting against ISIS. They are different sects and ideologies. I know, it is hard to keep track of all the different factions.

      • Artleads says:

        “…can you give us your best estimate of the ratio of number of farmers, when everybody should have a personal garden, would that result in every other person, or one third, to be a “full time” farmer?”

        Big guess here, looking at my village of 300. I try to grow stuff, but it’s only about .001 of what I eat. My neighbor can grow his own food. I’m guessing that 20 people grow some food, but not any more than I. So the aggregate growing could feed three people, MOL.
        I’d say that with more pressure to grow, and some education and advocacy, we could feed 30 people here. One tenth of the population. We’d need some large nearby farming operations to feed the other nine tenth. It seems possible to do.

        • Van Kent says:

          Currently my organic farms + bakery + food factory etc. has 80 people fully sustained year round, while 5-6 people are needed in “full time employ” to run everything. Planning to have 200 people fully sustained year round, so that would require me to have 7-8 in “full time employ” very soon.

          So, while we do have the possibility to refurbish the diesel engines to run on biogas, that we produce ourselves, and we do have raw materials and metal working skills, tools and possibilities for spare parts for a very-very long time to come, I should still be prepairing for 200 people of 200 to be in “full time employ” a few years Post-BAU? I´m not sure I understand this ratio?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Any plan for the defense of this food production facility when the hordes arrive?

            • Van Kent says:

              Nope, not really. Prepairing something before SHTF would result in illegal posession of, well, everything. So, just making relations with the old friends in the military, police and two gun factories nearby. But really, no.

          • Artleads says:

            Van Kent,

            Congratulations! I can’t think of a better business venture anywhere. My “calculations” above was just fuzzy, impressionistic guessing.

            An operation like yours could expand to feed the 90% in my community who can’t produce their own food anytime soon. What your land use looks like would be helpful to know.

            I’m working at promoting roof rainwater catchment that can irrigate backyard gardens in town. But you can only lead the horse to the water…

            This is what my ex-civil engineer and currently permaculture gardener neighbor (who can feed himself on his two conjoined backyards) has to say:

            “I read a few years back that America needs 50 million new farmers. That’s one in six.given that there are 300 million here now. Assuming we have around 50 million farmers now, it works out to one third. When I read that is when I chose to quit the Feds and become one.”

            • Van Kent says:

              Artleads, its now a combined 56 hectares producing various crops. I´ll be needing more hectares very soon. The 56 hectares could probably do it for 200 people, but better be safe than sorry. Protein from favabeans, beans and peas, no meat, not even rabbit meat currently. But we do mince almost everything or have the favabeans and peas floured, making something new in the bakery mixing in 28% protein fava bean flour with the regular organic whole wheat etc. flour is.. interesting.. The “oat yoghurt” that one production phase is producing also has some interesting applications, but other then that a lot of bread, falafel and meat pies (just take away the meat) etc. etc. also adding beer just now.

              1000-1500 cubic meters of fresh water lake reed is lifted annually from the lake to the compost and to the biogas plant. About 1-2 tons of fish is added to the compost from the lake, as well as manure from two horses, four cows and currently about 250 chickens. And a 200 square meter year round green house utilizing the heat produced from the animals, mostly. The feed for the animals comes from the 56 hectares as well.

              Yeah, well, I was hoping to have 200 families 90% sustained next winter, instead of just 80 people or 200 people. Not quite sure if its possible to ramp up production that fast, new people employed and all that. Ah, well, its just work, no worries.

            • Interesting, would you please describe the lake reed operation in a bit more detail? What kind of machinery (reaper?) or hand tools are used for harvest etc? And do you harvest it all? It depends on climate/region but in colder areas it’s perhaps similar to algae in the sense it could be advisable not harvest everything, only 2/3 – 4/5 at max in order to jump start the re-growth for next season and have a weather spikes buffer.. ?

            • Artleads says:

              Great info, Van Kent. How do you get heat from the animals?

            • Van Kent says:

              Artleads, the structures are side by side. Cows are like radiators. The spaces vent to one another so the exchange of CO2 and O is also mutually beneficial producing healthier animals and plants. Also having a (small) compost pile by some rainwater/ snow melting tanks (the watertanks are thermal mass) in the greenhouse in winter is convenient and produces heat. (The animals don’t go in the greenhouse..)

            • Christopher says:

              Van Kent,

              some questions, if you have time to answer them.

              What’s the fraction of forest, field and pasture of these 56 hectares? The staples you grow are fava beans, peas, beans and wheat, any more?

              What’s the typical harvest of wheat, tonnes/hectare, in your part of finland? My impression is that some parts of finland are really good for producing cereals.

              What kind of biogas producing system do you recommend?

              Scandinavia (Finland included I think) has a long tradition of milking cows. It used to be the most important part of self sufficiency. A cow is an automatic harvester machine, giving milk, dung, leather and meat. Grass grows everywhere, at least if you cut down the trees. Lacointolerance is consequently very rare in scandinavia. The best cow is found among the landraces. They are less destroyed by fossile fuel dependency.

              Impressive to have 80 people cooperating like this. There has to be some problems with conflicts between people? If there is money involved as well, the situation can become even more infected. Do you have any comments on this? Would be interesting to know how to manage this kind of problems.

            • Van Kent says:


              I didn´t count in the forests, sand pits and storage facilities, metal working shed, wood working shed etc. Those are separate.

              Wheat, oats, barley, rye, favabeans, peas, beans, strawberries, pumpkin, cherrytrees, appletrees and some corn last season. And potatoes, carrots your basic vegetables. Everything circulates, except the trees..

              Harvests depend a lot on the weather, wheat approx. 4 tons/ hectare, oats 3,5 tons, rye 2,5 tons, barley 3,5 tons. It´s in the ballpark of that.

              Biogas is either wet digestion or dry digestion, I don´t know enough about the engineering to say either way. We have dry digestion.

              Trying to negotiate a biochar unit from the university to us, they get data, we get the unit they have already built.

              The cows are northern finncattle.

              Problems? We go to the sauna together and get really really drunk to talk things through, no problems afterwards 😉

    • xabier says:

      Still, without contraception,one needs high infant mortality, say 50 to 60%, or things get out of hand very quickly. An 18th century level of medicine, nutrition and hygiene would perhaps give a mortality rate of about 35%.

      • “Still, without contraception,one needs high infant mortality, say 50 to 60%, or things get out of hand very quickly.”

        The higher infant mortality, the more offspring people tend to have. Unless their culture (or religion) strongly emphasizes having lots of children, most people all over the world get to 2 or fewer average children once you get their mortality rates down. If half the children die, people will tend to have eight kids.

    • the generally accepted MINIMUM EROEI to maintain something like our current level of life and living is about 12:1—you can’t separate it out into various sub-factors.
      It’s as well to bear in mind that we built our cities and basic infrastructure–the roads, dams railways bridges etc etc when EROEI was 100 : 1 for oil.
      problem is most people have no concept of that ratio—–oil is just oil,
      you can maintain things for a while on 12 :1–but you can’t build new, at least not on the scale necessary to carry our expected future

    • heavyweather says:

      We do have high EROEI energy sources apart from oil. That’s all we need ever.
      There’s the concept of the solar breeder. I’d prefer wind energy which got a real world EROEI of over 60 now. Then there is advanced wind at EROEI between 150-1600.
      Of course any EROEI over 13 is not necessarily important as it comes with diminishing returns. It’s the old rice on a chess board game + human innovation, a never ending resource.

      • Ed says:

        what is a solar breeder? What EROEI does it have? Has anybody built one?

        • heavyweather says:

          A solar breeder is a self sustaining and expanding PV manufacturing plant.
          Doubling it’s output with every payback time and diverting branches when a given level of builtout is reached.
          While technically feasible it is not necessary. We are doing the same thing already by expanding RE.
          Sunshine and wind are infinite resources. Oil will just get substituted by synfuels once the price is right. Once synfuels get going it is just a matter of time till the industry sees falling lower technical cost bounds for syncrude and products.
          The thing to do now to smoth a transition into a post (pumped) oil world is to built out RE as fast as possible. Money invested now is money saved during and past this transition.

          • Ed says:

            What is the energy pay back time? What is the capital cost of the factory for 1GW/year? What is the clean fresh water use per factory per 1GW/year? How much cement is used to mount 1GW of PV? its energy cost and capital cost? What is the cost per GWHr for night time storage? its capital cost? Its material resource per 1GWHr? Are there any facts backing up your claims?

            • heavyweather says:


              Under 16 month system payback time depending on technology and irradiation.

              Nighttime storage doesn’t matter in a syngas/synfuels setting where the feedstock comes from GW scale windplants (~1.5b€/5GWe). You just need to stay focused and see the path to developing synfuels cheaper than todays fuels.
              Capital cost is a technical matter in a socialist society. In a crisis where life depents on leadership and inspiration, debt is abstract and negotiable.
              Never ever doubt the narrative, never divert into doomerism, be positive, rid yourself of negative perspectives. Things can only get better.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “never divert into doomerism”

              You are my kind of guy. Please sign up on the Google group Power Satellite Economics.
              hkeithhenson at gmail.com

            • Ed says:

              What is the ratio of energy in to energy content of synfuel out.

            • heavyweather says:

              What matters is the EROEI of the input source. The P2L(PtL) process is ~70% efficient (Sunfire).
              The resulting “blue crude” doesn’t need to be high EROEI as long as the balanced EROEI of all sources stays above 10 (for electricity).
              Since PV reaches EROEI between 10-50, wind 20-100, advanced wind up to 1500 what reason do we have to be pessimistic about the future if there was a decline in pumped oil production?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘A solar breeder is a self sustaining and expanding PV manufacturing plant.’

            Can a solar breeder also breed all the metals and other inputs that are required to make a solar panel — the accompanying batteries — the metal brackets and screws for installing the system — what about the cabling and rubber coating?

            While we are on the topic of Solar Jesus ….

            My Solar Jesus — which was meant to provide keep me alive by pumping water up the hill to holding tanks for the purpose of watering my 200sqm garden (which is not nearly big enough provide enough food for a family of 4 — or all the hungry people at the gate) …. broke after a month

            I’ve been out at the creek much of the morning with the best irrigation guy in the valley trying to work out what the problem is and we suspect grit from the creek has entered the pump and is causing it to shut down to prevent it from grinding itself to pieces….

            Keep in mind we have a settling tank — intake filters — essentially it would be the best system money can buy… installed by the best people money can buy….

            So now we are checking with Lorentz before disassembling the unit and trying to confirm what the problem is — and how it can be fixed…

            We will order the parts and make the repairs and install more filters and make sure to clean the system weekly … we will also only turn the intake valve on when we need to water the garden….

            And life will go on … until it breaks again … because stuff breaks… it ALWAYS breaks….

            And then BAU will end…. and eventually something will break on the solar powered system…. and then something will break on the back up spring fed gravity system….

            And we won’t be able to contact Lorentz for spare parts — or a new pump.

            • Van Kent says:

              Yup, water pump problems here too. The bakery/ food factory water pump broke because of -30C temperatures. Usually a meter or so of snow is an excellent insulator against the cold, but this winter we had first freezing temperatures and then afterwards snow.

              Now its raining (water) so its deadly to walk in the city, with all the snow falliing from the rooftops.

              When the temperature changes suddenly, -30C will do just fine, we call it a “bang” freeze. I guess the saying comes from walls, roofs, roads, machinery, everything reacting with the water suddenly freezing and breaking stuff. So, yeah, everything breakes eventually.

            • You are describing entropy—which is something most people simply won’t accept as affecting their future.

            • Stefeun says:

              Do you think they could consider gravity as acceptable? 😉

            • gravity is probably a hoax too

            • Van Kent says:

              Damn good hoax! 🙂

        • “what is a solar breeder? What EROEI does it have? Has anybody built one?”

          If only there was a way to find information for yourself on the Internet …
          Try this: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=solar+breeder

      • We don’t have the whole system available now, which is what we would need. It is thus just a “pie in the sky” idea.

        • heavyweather says:

          What’s the minimum bbl/d that you suggest would sustain the system?
          It is a matter of phasing in syncrude and synfuels once the price is right.
          There is nothing stopping Germany to liquify their lignite reserves once it is cheaper than importing crude. They would live the idea since they won’t burn it for electricity past 2030 anyways.
          Power2liquid is ready to go also. PtG is just not competitive with cheap natgas at the moment.
          According to figure 12. we will see over the next 5 years anyways.

          • The right price is under $20 per barrel. Phasing in Syncrude and Synfuels at that price doesn’t work. The idea that prices will rise endlessly is nonsense. The end comes becomes of low wages, essentially. Low wages don’t lead to high “demand.” Demand is equivalent to affordability.

          • “What’s the minimum bbl/d that you suggest would sustain the system?”

            More. Always more. That is the first problem of all dissipative structures in general and human civilization specifically. Grow or die.

            If you accept this, you understand the present system must inevitably fail – it is just a question of when is more too difficult to extract.

            How much oil is needed to maintain a contracting system that is effective at cutting off its own extremities and catabolizing, well that depends on the system and how slow of a catabolic decline.

  12. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Now is a time of great uncertainty relative to oil and other commodities. At the Peak Oil blog, there has been some discussion about the diesel burned to produce oil at the well-head. Some rocks thrown at EROEI approaches. I believe this response to one such rock outlines one of the crucial issues. The author of the response has consistently maintained that we have to look at the energy cost of maintaining the total production system, and that a ‘bottom up’ EROEI study will not give us that energy cost with enough precision. The author also maintains that the energy value of the oil we are producing is no longer enough to sustain the search for and production of new oil. Which means that much of what we regard as the oil patch, is no longer sustainable. What is still possible is to produce oil from existing wells in existing fields so long as the costs of lifting and refining and distributing are covered.

    However, my reaction is that the energy cost of maintaining the total production system may now exceed the energy being produced even by some existing wells, which could lead to societal collapse and the total collapse of petroleum products. The economic and social collapse would probably be mediated by a failure of the monetary system, as the monetary system slowly but inevitably ‘discovers’ the truth of the physical system.

    Don Stewart

    “This is the point that so many have gotten wrong about EROEI: it doesn’t take much oi production to replace the diesel burned during drilling including all the transport fuel. As I’ve pointed out many times most wells fail to reach economic muster at an EROEI of around 5 or 6:”
    The rule of thumb that reservoir engineers use is a WOR (water oil ratio) of 40 – 45: 1 where a well is no longer economical to operate, and is shut in. That is for a water cut (Sw) of 97.5 to 97.8%. A WOR of 45:1 gives an ERoEI of 6.9:1. That is also the theoretical limit established for oil production as determined by the Etp Model. Those calculations are shown in Section 7, page 38 of our report “Depletion: A determination for the world’s petroleum reserves”. The Etp Model has derived from thermodynamic considerations the “dead state” for petroleum production at the same point that reservoir engineers, through trail and error, have determined the point where a well is to be shut in. It is a straight forward confirmation of the Model’s validity.
    “This is the point that so many have gotten wrong about EROEI: it doesn’t take much oil production to replace the diesel burned during drilling including all the transport fuel.
    Dollar fuel cost can not be used to determine ERoEI. ERoEI is an energy relationship, and dollars will usually not accurately represent that relationship. The energy to produce the fuel must be taken into consideration. All the energy costs of producing a fuel are not borne by the the producer. The producer does not pay for much of the infrastructure, and services used to produce the product. They do not pay for the roads, military, regulatory agencies, education of the their employees, health care services, and etc. The producer is but a very tiny fraction of the society that must operate in the background to make production possible. It is only through a thermodynamic analysis that ERoEI can be determined. Economic analysis is almost completely useless in this situation. It can not ascertain all the inputs that go into the production of petroleum and its products.

    • Artleads says:

      “It is only through a thermodynamic analysis that ERoEI can be determined. ”

      I wonder, too, whether “thermodynamic analysis” isn’t more “real,” in that it reflects social and environmental complexities that the economic system doesn’t. If so, it might explain why intuition (which is good at picking up on these complexities) has led me to come to the very same conclusion about stripper wells. Economic analysis has too much sway. Maybe if we were guided by thermodynamics (which I have not considered much) and intuition (which I have), we could work those as guides to production?

      Another consideration, apart from long term reliance on existing wells, is massive rationing and redirection of oil production. Using oil mainly where it’s indispensable for making the chain of production (ultimately largely detached from direct or over-dependence on oil) work. For instance, building and furniture materials can be made from local recycled materials (with modest input through transportation and the fossil fuel web).

  13. Lee says:

    Gail and others,

    What will happen with OPEC and others taper off over-production? I haven’t seen that addressed..


    • Van Kent says:

      Lee, Russia must pump, Brazil must pump, Venezuela must pump and OPEC must pump to get money for their national budgets, since oil production is more expensive then the selling price, all of them will have more debt http://www.usdebtclock.org/world-debt-clock.html

      None, not even Norway, can afford to taper oil production if its in any way possible to maintain current production levels.

      When shale bankruptcies begin in earnest in a month or two, we will see who has the capacity to maintain pumping and which banks will start to go belly up. The second phase is emerging markets that doesn´t get additional debt because of banks liquidity crisis and the third and final phase is bond markets failures that will unhinge the global economy and SHTF will start. That is if the stock markets wont totally crash and burn first..

      Not that many days left of BAU, enjoy it while you can.

      • Lee says:

        I see what you’re saying. Thanks. Oman’s request that everybody reduce output seems to be a desperate plea.

        I may be wrong, but it seems like a lot of people that are aware of collapse and these issues seem to be older in age. Again, I’m in 20s. I think that impacts my view of things. I’m not a baby boomer who’s already lived my life. Regardless of what hits the fan and pending something interrupting my life, like no food or a bullet, I still have 60-80 years ahead of me. I don’t know what I see in the future but I do see fresh opportunity (not monetary, just new life patterns/activity) that can potentially arise outside of BAU. It feels like so many here are so resigned to our SHTF fate. I don’t mind if the banks and industrial systems collapse as long as people are ready to fill that void with alternative systems. I don’t think we are prepared to fill the void, but there are established movements that I think could very well capitalize on this and build anew albeit different.

        Kids my age might not be aware of this or ready, but I think a lot will rise to the challenge. Or else we’ll all starve, I guess. This is going to be a roller coaster ride.

        Contemplating end of BAU is overwhelming. I hardly even know what to do.

        • Lee says:

          Much respect to those that are older than me. I don’t even really know what the age range really is. That’s just an ASSUmption. 🙂

          • Van Kent says:

            Lee, “I hardly even know what to do.”

            Roll with it..

            When population masses begin to move and virulent strains catch on, because of lacking medicine and nutritious food, its all just a matter of luck, no point in worrying, it won´t help a bit.

            The best possible advice I have, others here might disagree, is to prepare to adapt to anything. And seek cooperation with people that are willing to adapt in to anything. And when the fat lady is about to sing, then fight, at that point there is nothing to loose, fight. Thats it, really. Relax, everything is firmly out of control, enjoy the ride. When SHTF begins, you might have an epiphany; “am I the only one Zen around here”..

          • richard says:

            @Lee – The best advice I can give is to try to team up with others in your area to stay ahead of the curve. Don’t worry about not knowing five years ahead because nobody really knows.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “Much respect to those that are older than me”

            Heh. Just because someone has lived a long time doesn’t mean they deserve respect. I have lived around fools all my live and now, they are old fools. 🙂

            You can figure my age from the wikipedia article, but I predate the boomers.

        • If you are young, in fast BAU collapse scenario, utilize the very first hours/days to your advantage and knock on the door of the first midsize farm of “alternative management persuasion” you can get to, prepare a list beforehand. Offer an internship deal for meal and safety. He who comes after you, and after him knocking on the same door, .. won’t likely be even considered, negotiated or talked to anyways.. And with some depopulation events chances are that after some time you might start you own, or manage a branch for the owners there or elsewhere etc.

        • Van Kent says:

          Don´t know if this is going to be a double post, one comment disappeared somewhere..

          Lee, relax, everything is firmly out of control. Worrying won´t help anything. It´s a matter of luck. Be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and some virulent strains will get you (lack of medicine and nutritious food, combined with new superstrains from China and India etc.)

          If you are ready to adapt in to anything, you will be way ahead of the curve. And even better, if you are willing to cooperate with others who are willing to adapt in to anything, then you have pretty much maximized your chances.

          There is very little we can do, learn new skills, keep fit, learn to be jack of all trade, but in the end, it´s pure blind dumb luck how this plays out in the long-long run. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.

        • Joe Blow says:

          All of us are susceptible to magical, wishful thinking, all age groups included. It has been almost bred into us and is certainly the normal operating procedure of the current dominant culture.

          Instead of trying to figure out the level of peoples “resignation” or “hope”, focus on the arguments that they make, the evidence that they present. Look at them critically, don’t give a pass mark to sloppy reasoning, leaps of faith or biased evidence.

          Being able to reason out “reality”, what ever that is, is the most essential skill.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            You got it.

            I was speaking to a friend who headed up bonds for a major bank in Asia (retired) … he’s convinced himself that we need not be concerned that the central banks are buying up the stock markets keeping them from collapsing …

            I guarantee that if I had asked him 10 years ago what he thought would happen if in 2016 the central banks were doing what they are now doing — he would have said this is madness — it will end in chaos….

            The mind is a powerful thing — it adapts — cognitive dissonance takes over — particularly when children are involved.

            It would be interesting to have recorded such a conversation 10 years ago — then replay it to the person now …

            I suspect doing so would drive them to Ambilify….

            • Joe Blow says:

              Funny you talk about kids FE…having mine is what finally woke me up. I am glad to know what I know now and I wouldn’t change it for anything, even though the future may be “bleak”. That is because the cog dis that I was operating under was driving me mad.

              The clearer that reality is for me, the freer I find myself becoming.

              Don’t get me wrong, I’d love BAU to continue for another 50 years. I’ll even take BAU lite as it is called around here. But that is only because “if I just have another year, I’ll be able to do this or that”. Thing is reality doesn’t give 2 shits about what I want, it will keep on doing what it does, assembling, disassembling, reassembling.

              Accepting reality has been a process to be sure but one that has actually focused my mind to ask the questions that I usually only hear people ask on their death beds.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              So true.

              I’m to the point where I don’t really care — in fact in some respects I welcome the fact that there is little chance of surviving this because I know that post BAU life is guaranteed to be hell on earth.

              Living a grinding existence on a small farm at best – let’s get real — that would completely suck – someone please put a *&^%$ bullet in my head to save me from that misery…

              I’ve cracked a filling and my tooth is already sensitive — will get that fixed next week…. what happens when something so innocuous happens post BAU?

              Pain and suffering brother … pain and suffering ….

              I also put my shoulder out 6 months ago and the physio therapy is not completely healing it — had an MRI and its slightly torn with a touch of arthritis… old sports injuries back to haunt… seeing the should expert this afternoon — hopefully it’s just going to need a shot of cortisone to get it right ….

              It will reoccur down the road — there won’t be cortisone shots…

              Like I said — when this cart tips over — if you see me grinding away suffering in my patch of ground barely surviving — pick up the rifle… and try for a single clean shot — then feel free to take all the shovels and other junk I’ve accumulated from Wally’s World…

            • Joe Blow says:

              HAHA! Your description of post collapse life always makes me smile! While I do not dispute your description, I am young enough to almost be excited by the challenge! After of course we survive the zombies and marauding gangs of bandits that will rape, murder and pillage their way thru.

              Maybe I’ll swim my family across the ditch and we can organise an orderly transition so that someone can appreciate and make use of all your pre collapse hard work?

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘I don’t mind if the banks and industrial systems collapse as long as people are ready to fill that void with alternative systems.’

          You really have no idea what the end of BAU means…..

          It means there will be no more energy — other than trees

          And the trees will be used up in no time if there are any survivors and they attempt ‘new systems’ which will no doubt involve farming — which will no doubt lead them to try to process metals and make tools required for farming … which will require the decimation of forests (which was already a problem in the 1800’s before fossil fuels saved the day for trees…)

          Perhaps post collapse — after the Mad Max/The Road stage — we get a short window where people try to farm — but success = failure — as we did with fossil fuels we will quickly burn through accessible forests and then there will be scorched earth — the world will resemble one big Haiti — treeless…

          Of course de-industrialization means 4000 spent nuclear fuel ponds blow and spew… Fukushima ain’t nothing compared to what’s coming…

          This is the beginning of the end. This is a 100% hopeless situation.

          This message is brought to you by Ambilify — take two whenever you feel that the reality of the situation is beating wishful thinking and cognitive dissonance into a bloody pulp and you start feeling the symptoms of clinical depression

          Ambilify is proud to sponsor the Fast Eddy Show.

          • I think we disproved this already.
            There is enough open pit brown coals (apart from natgas and others stuff) to glide down “this sucker” COG style for decades hence the nuclear reactors phaseout, keep at least fraction of today’s grid, basic health services and schools (mortality spiking only few dozen%) etc. Chill out.. But we can agree it will be rather different world both in material and psycho-social dimensions, and obviously some regions simply won’t make the gliding at all, they would crash hard, depopulated and abandoned.

            • “There is enough open pit brown coals (apart from natgas and others stuff) to glide down “this sucker” COG style for decades hence the nuclear reactors phaseout”

              Other than Germany, who is phasing out nuclear? It seems to me like an awful lot is going to be built.

            • More nuclear is only going to be built, if the systems stay together long enough for this to happen. Then it needs uranium and other supplies. I wouldn’t count on a lot of production out of new nuclear.

            • DJ says:

              Sweden. Maybe not phasing. More like cold turkey.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Ya – people living near an existing open pit coal mine could scoop up the stuff in buckets and burn it ….. but there is no way will get any sort of situation that resembles BAU or BAU lite out of that ….

        • xabier says:

          Good post Lee.

          Not a Baby Boomer myself, much younger: as for ‘resigned’?

          Yes, but resignation does not, should not, imply either apathy or despair.

          For instance, the old Eskimos were resigned to the conditions of their lives, more or less unchanged for thousands of years and very harsh indeed, with a short life-expectancy and constant danger and exertion, but they fought hard with Fate and apparently got much pleasure from life.

          But they lived without being immersed in propaganda and organised lies, which I find the most dispiriting aspect of our times as our societies head towards totalitarianism. My own remedy is to laugh at the untruthfulness of nearly everything we are fed, to minimise it, and to get on with learning new skills and addressing real life.

      • Possible, but probable? There are also people predicting sideways slow burn crashing markets for next 2-7yrs, I guess “Mish” said something to this effect in recent podcast. Who knows, I’m hearing all sorts of concepts and theories on the continuum. This January is really crazy so far, credit defaults swaps are surging again on energy and commodities , Italian banks, and what have you. I think people have to understand this system of “money for nothing” has been painstakingly nurtured for centuries, it’s not very likely it will be abandoned over night, although signs are it’s falling apart, for instance take into account the ?Q32015 Kerry interview for Reuters where he openly admits USD reserve status being already questioned in the global sphere and if it’s really ripe for reset now obviously any bridging arrangement will most likely still involve most of the old corrupt influence and stakeholders, so it will be another scam, just diluted to involve other (asian) players..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        31 hours till I get on the plane and return to my burial site…..

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Lee, if production drops, supply drops and price will rise. The only question is how high can the worldwide oil recipient consumer afford per barrel once it is an end product, food, fuel, cosmetics, etc.? Presuming the easy to get oil was taken first, but some of that oil is still being produced, e.g. in the middle east and a few other places, along with more expensive sources and non-conventional, there is a discernible direction of diminishing returns due to higher costs of production, i.e. EROEI is declining. This dynamic creates a triangle in which oil price is constricted by consumer affordability vs. cost of new production. As cost of newly discovered product rises above consumer affordability, the URR (ultimate recoverable resources) declines. Thus trillions of barrels of oil once projected to be produced is tapering into lower URR.

      If every barrel of oil was the same as the oil first extracted in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1849 by Drake, then there would be no problem for many decades to come. But not all barrels are created equal. Some cost more and that sets a limit we are now bumping up against.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        What’s happening now is an oil price discovery – trying to find out how low the price of oil must go to get consumers to consume the over supply. If the economy was working the way it once did, the world economy would have grown quickly to consume a higher level of supply, but it’s not. Gail helps explain why.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          This is where the lies that the masses are fed hit the road….

          The MSM says the US is almost at full employment — that there are loads of jobs being created — that the economy has been recovering ….

          If so then surely -$30 oil should be providing a huge boost to the economy — but it isn’t — because the recovery is of course a big fat lie…

          And if you read MSM finance the ‘journalists’ are befuddled…. why isn’t the consumer responding to cheap oil prices like they have in the past? They are sitting at their desks like the total block heads in a state of dazed confusion

          The economy has been irreparably damaged by the medicines that have it has been given by the central banks in an effort to keep it from collapsing…

          We are pushing on a string — and the string is pushing back against us now….

          • “If so then surely -$30 oil should be providing a huge boost to the economy — but it isn’t — because the recovery is of course a big fat lie…”

            If we could have these low prices for a decade, maybe most people could pay off their debts. That is what would happen in the past, after a huge run of gorging on debt.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We could — if we could create jobs that pay decent wages….

              As it stands most jobs that are being created pay peanuts – and the monkeys are spending all their cash on bananas ….

            • I don’t think we ever, in fact, have had the scenario you talked about. Even in the 1980s, when oil prices fell, the economy was gorging on debt. It is really necessary to have sub $20 oil to keep debt levels from soaring, as far as I can see.

      • “Lee, if production drops, supply drops and price will rise.”

        Only if supply falls faster than demand. If people start driving and traveling less and less, we could have supply and demand shrink at around the same rate, keeping prices stable while the volume slowly declines.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Matt, demand would have to drop extremely fast to keep up with falling supply. It’s easy to reduce supply overnight if producers agree to remove 2-3 mbd. In fact, there is a news story floating around/rumor the Saudi’s and Russian’s are trying to come to terms to both reduce supply. That would be smart on their part and then we’ll see where price ends up.

          • Yep, I’ve overheard this also somewhere on the interwebs, the problem is timing, they can’t do it now, they have to first force bankruptcy on the shales and bitumens, not all of them but at least to some substantial degree. And given the support provided by banking cartels this could be 2-3yrs away.. Can Russia muddle through, definitely yes, but Saudis might be overthrowned several times by that time..

            • xabier says:

              The biggest Saudi problem is their over-shot population: fat, lazy and used to air-conditioning now, quite useless people and very spoiled.

              Russians have lived with the minimal necessary for so long that social stability is assured as long as the govt. ensures heating and basic foods (the latter is a possible problem as Russian agriculture is not in a particularly good state and they import a lot I believe).

              Give a Russian some sausages, bread and lots of vodka, and they will be OK with things.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I believe it was Glencore that put some copper mines on ice hoping to drive the price up — the price dropped even further …. because competitors just kept on producing more …

          The thing is …. these are desperate times for commodity producers …. they need cash flow to pay the bills…. that means increasing production volumes even if you are losing money on every unit produced…

          Of course… what cannot continue will eventually stop….

  14. Stan says:

    Gas prices now at 77 cents in two stations of Michigan City.
    see: http://www.vcpost.com/articles/114448/20160118/michigan-first-us-state-gas-price-at-0-77-gas-tax-hike.htm

    “Patrick DeHann, senior petroleum analyst for the fuel tracking site Gasbuddy, has reported to witness fuel price as low as $0.47 a gallon in Sunday on January 17, 2016. Terming the situation as an outcome of so called ‘gas war’, he predicts that these stations will probably re-raise the gas prices back over $1/ gallon, reports ValleyCentral.”

    So, do we tell the common folk that this isn’t necessarily a good sign?

    Now I’m wondering how a consumer could buy gas futures? Cause this can’t last too long.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      The late John Denver had a 10,000 gallon buried fuel tank on his property. Would be nice to fill one of those up. At .47 cents a gallon it would cost just $4700 + delivery to fill up.

      • J says:

        Fuel is like food: It has a shelf life. I think diesel is a little better than gas.

      • MJ says:

        Stilgar, back in 1989 I interned at Central Rocky Permaculture with Jerome Osentowski and a group of other Koombayers. We had a blast.and took a trip to John Denver’s property that he setup as a sustainable sanctuary. John was way ahead of his time.
        Jerome is still at it in Basalt and this YouTube video Marjory Wildcaft that Don Stewart has told use about gives a interesting discussion with Hero e here about Forest Gardening


        Hope you enjoy!

      • Don B says:

        WI senator Proxmire gave John Denver the ‘Golden Fleece Award’ for installing those gas tanks. If memory serves me, that was in the early 1970’s.

        • MJ says:

          Senator Proxmire also “earned” a ‘Golden Fleece Award” by getting a hair transplant for his baldness and having the US Taxpayer foot the bill!


          While John Denver did a get deal than give out bogus awards

          He began to focus more on humanitarian and sustainability causes, focusing extensively on conservation projects. He made public expression of his acquaintances and friendships with ecological-design researchers such as Richard Buckminster Fuller (about whom he wrote and composed “What One Man Can Do”) and Amory Lovins, from whom he said he learned much. He also founded two environmental groups; the Windstar Foundation and Plant-It 2020 (originally Plant-It 2000). Denver had a keen interest in solutions to world hunger. He visited Africa during the 1980s to witness first-hand the suffering caused by starvation and to work with African leaders toward solutions


          Don B, you can read the rest of the other feats John Denver tackled there. Seems our Republican party got a upset with John Denver and attempted some smear.

          • Don B says:


            Did I step on one of your political buttons? Not my intention. I liked John Denver. He was a fellow aviator. I even have some of his music – on an LP album somwhere. You don’t need to come running to his defense – I’m not attacking him. I just stated a fact. You have to grant me though, how it looked back in the oil embargo days when a young Mr ‘Rocky Mountain High’ made sure that he got his first.

            Since you brought up politics, let me say this. As for Democrats and Republicans, I see them as 2 cheeks on the same corporate booty. Politicians are only there to give us the illusion of having a choice. Every 4 years an expensive spectacle is held to determine which team will push forward virtually identical agendas. Anyway…

            Don B

            • MJ says:

              Don, Hello, I liked Senator Proxmire myself and am dead set against waste’ government or otherwise. Just wanted to provide a balance picture of the story you presented, Bro.
              If the Senator dished it out,’ hope it also took it on the noggin just as well.
              The morale of the story, nobody is perfect!

  15. Stan says:

    “The Head of Sustainability at IKEA has woken up, and announced ‘Peak Home Furnishings’!”

    Does that mean that all of the low-lying particle board bedroom furniture has been picked?

    • “Does that mean that all of the low-lying particle board bedroom furniture has been picked?”

      It probably means the maximum amount of worldwide demand for home furniture has been reached. However, growth for IKEA is possible, by taking market share from others. In a growing market, there can be many winners. Once the limit is reached, it becomes a zero-sum or negative-sum game, and in order for someone to win, someone else must lose.

      • Artleads says:

        “It probably means the maximum amount of worldwide demand for home furniture has been reached.”

        But how so, given the enormous middle class growth in China, India, Africa? Given the mushrooming cities? Could it instead have to do with a peak in supply of board ingredients through deforestation? Is peak oil making it harder to transport materials? Or is it really due a downward trend in the economy? I’d appreciate help in understanding this.

        • Christopher says:

          No deforestation in the country of IKEAs origin. On the contrary. The cubic meters of forrest in Sweden are continually increasing each year. Despite an high yeary harvest of wood.


          Though most forrest are production forrests of spruce. Boring and ugly looking.

          It seems as if the parts of the world that gets deforrested are the tropical areas. The temperate areas are getting reforrested.

          • Artleads says:

            Thanks. So the northern forests don’t produce the required wood chips?

          • Artleads says:

            Dear Christopher,

            This has to be the most thorough and lovely run down of the subject in the world. Even though I’m terrible with charts!) I’ll file it for more mathematical readers elsewhere. I need to be in a classroom, where the professor walks us through all that complexity.

            To be brutally simple, I want to know if IKEA couldn’t do better by using local forest (coppicing, pollarding) , mixing in plastic and paper with the woodchips? More or less, I mix in the latter with the paper-pulp-based experimental building material I’m working on. I wouldn’t dream of doing it on any but a community scale, but maybe a bigger scale could work. IKEA scale would seem to run into too many limits, but who knows?.

            • Christopher says:

              I guess that the local production is in opposition to IKEA, they are competitors and IKEA is mostly winning since they are cheaper. On my mothers side my family where carpenters in many generations. They lived in a villigage were carpentry was the business for most people. The village is situated in the beech forrests in southerns sweden. Plenty of good wood like beech, oak and so on to make nice furnitures. My granddad retired in the early 80ies. Already at that time business was really bad for carpenters. In the 90ies every carpentry business was dead in this once carpentry rich area. I guess that this process has spread to a global scale by now.

              IKEA is not interested in good quality timber. Today you produce many things from glued wood chips. The wood chips are often made from low quality spruce. Maybe your idea with wood chips, plastic and paper would interest IKEA. Send them a mail and ask!

            • Artleads says:

              “Maybe your idea with wood chips, plastic and paper would interest IKEA. Send them a mail and ask!”

              Too much to do, too little time. Maybe collapse will force them to think differently. I’m working on the 6 degrees of separation principle. If my or someone else’s idea grabs someone else, it might get spread to where it makes a difference. The world will have to fix itself as a complex system. My only role is to show up…or speak up.

  16. Looking like the end of the “Supercycle” pretty definitively now.

    Getting together with the gang next weekend to hash this out in some more detail.

    Meanwhile, I hadda rant on the clusterfuck this weekend.



  17. xabier says:

    A little (black?) humour. Am I alone in finding most headlines darkly amusing these days?

    The Head of Sustainability at IKEA has woken up, and announced ‘Peak Home Furnishings’!

    People have ‘too much stuff’, but this doesn’t mean he’s despairing about his prospects in the company that vomits cheap stuff like no other, not at all. He has a plan, perhaps from the Elders:

    IKEA will go Green, turn zero-carbon by 2020 (although how to do that’ keeps him awake at nights’ -as well it might), power its stores with only ‘clean’ energy and, wait for it, still ‘double sales’ in the same time-frame. Even more of that over-flowing too much stuff.

    Fantasy is a wonderful consoler in troubled times: who needs gods or Elon Musk?

  18. richard says:

    Update on China’s Electricity consumption for 2015 : +0.5% yoy
    “Jan 17 China’s power consumption in 2015 rose 0.5 percent from a
    year earlier to 5.550 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh), figures from the National
    Energy Administration (NEA) showed.
    The NEA did not break out figures for December, or for wind and solar power.
    But Reuters calculations suggest that China’s power consumption stood at 500.7
    billion kWh in December, down 2.1 percent on-year.
    Total generating capacity rose 10.4 percent in 2015, with a 29.9-percent
    jump in nuclear power capacity, the administration said in a statement published
    on its website (www.nea.gov.cn).”

  19. Fast Eddy says:

    For those of you who think this cannot accelerate into a death spiral literally overnight — like it did in 2008….

    This Bud’s for you!

    Stock markets around the world are getting crushed. Some markets are down 20%, 30%, 40%, or more, even those where central banks are pursuing a scorched-earth wealth-effect strategy of mega-QE and negative-interest-rate policies.

    Something big has changed.

    Earnings of S&P 500 companies are getting hit too, despite the ingenious ways of financially engineering them into shape and polishing them with adroit accounting moves. Earnings are projected to fall 5.7% in Q4.

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2016/01/17/consensual-hallucination-fades-global-stocks-crushed/

    U.S. stocks post worst 10-day start to a year in history

    53 hours till I get on that jet plane back to the end of the world…. it can’t come fast enough….

    • bandits101 says:

      Two first rate posts FE and without a mention of any silly “Elders”

      • MJ says:

        Fast Eddy, here is a send off message and song for ya.
        Back in August 1972 the “Midnight Special” featured Mama Cass Elliot, urging everyone to register and getting out to vote!, and John Denver in a duet that will send you off in
        your NZ safehouse. Everyone’s favorite, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”


        Remember, register and get out to vote’ it matters. Don’t be apathetic.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I’ve got so many other things right … but I am so wrong on the Elders… hmmmm…

        See my previous post — you are an example of just how effective their policy of never being seen to be pulling strings has been nearly 100% effective

        I find it quite amazing given how media outlets cower in fear of the Zionist lobby…. of how the Zionist lobby is able to get students suspended or expelled for organizing protests or boycotts of Israel…. how not a single politician in the US ever speaks against Israel policy….

        Feel the Power!

  20. Fast Eddy says:

    These are the weak links that NASA identified:


    The SBSP concept also has a number of problems:

    The large cost of launching a satellite into space

    Inaccessibility: Maintenance of an earth-based solar panel is relatively simple, but construction and maintenance on a solar panel in space would typically be done telerobotically.

    In addition to cost, astronauts working in GEO orbit are exposed to unacceptably high radiation dangers and risk and cost about one thousand times more than the same task done telerobotically.

    The space environment is hostile; panels suffer about 8 times the degradation they would on Earth.[36]

    Space debris is a major hazard to large objects in space, and all large structures such as SBSP systems have been mentioned as potential sources of orbital debris.[37]

    The broadcast frequency of the microwave downlink (if used) would require isolating the SBSP systems away from other satellites. GEO space is already well used and it is considered unlikely the ITU would allow an SPS to be launched.[38]

    The large size and corresponding cost of the receiving station on the ground.

    The possibility of energy losses during several phases of conversion from “photon to electron to photon back to electron,” as Elon Musk has stated. [39]


    Elon Musk is the space wonder boy — maybe you should approach him?

    He appears to have dismissed the idea of space solar — but perhaps you can convince him that he is wrong…

    From what I have seen he is ok with funding ideas that make no sense — so long as he can personally benefit http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/tesla-bonfire-of-the-money-printers-vanities/

    • hkeithhenson says:

      You re repeating yourself without the slightest recognition that I have responded to the wikipedia article. But with regard to Musk dismissing power satellites, that is probably correct for him since most of us in the business don’t think SpaceX can get the launch cost down far enough to power satellites to make economic sense. Takes a better idea, such as Skylon.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “Simply saying when faced with the cost issue – ‘we need to bring the costs down’”

        I have been very specific in my proposals to get the cost down. Skylon at 100,000 flights per year or more and arcjets powered by beamed energy from LEO up. The Skylon cost projection (not my work) says $120/kg to LEO. See figure 2 of the article below. The cost for the lift from LEO to GEO figured against arcjet exhaust velocity has a flat shape that minimizes at less than $65/kg for 20-25 km/s. See Figure 6. $/kg as a function of exhaust velocity.

        Solving economics, energy, carbon and climate in a single project


        A vigorous economy needs cheap energy. A sustainable economy, if it is to grow and prosper, needs more: energy that is cheap, clean and abundant. Renewable electricity at 1-2 cents per kWh would enable synthetic oil at $30-50 per bbl. Three cents per kWh would displace coal. Current and projected renewable energy sources are several times too expensive. Space-based solar energy from power satellites is clean enough, but has to date been far too expensive. This paper is an analysis of an affordable new approach to building and orbiting power satellites. Located in GEO, power satellites are in sunlight 99% of the time, eliminating the high cost of energy storage. Getting the energy to Earth via microwaves incurs a relatively small cost. Power satellites scale to more than ten times all current energy consumption. The problem has been the cost of lifting parts for power satellites to geosynchronous orbit. This article describes a way to reduce the cost of transporting power satellite parts to GEO by a factor of 100.

        The article is behind a paywall, but there is a preprint copy here:


        It’s also obsolete. We have an improvement (initially suggested by a polymath, Steve Nixon) where 1/10th sized propulsion power satellites are stationed at 18,000 km and beam energy at 25 GHz to the cargo transport vehicles. Construction has been moved to 12,000 km, in the minimum radiation gap between the two major Van Allen belts. This cut’s the startup cost by about $18 B and eliminates the need to flatten 110 square km of jungle for the ground transmitter.

        ” I am losing confidence in your ability to solve the energy problem and save the world….”

        Joke of course. You have a monomania fixated on collapse for many years and don’t think there are any ways to solve the energy problem. I am not as certain about the future as you are. I freely admit you could be right and things could go down hard. It’s certainly happened to previous civilizations and if we can’t fix the problems, that’s what is likely to happen to the current civilization.

        But I *like* a high energy civilization. I look for and analyze the physics, engineering and economics to keep up the indulgent life style. I strongly suspect that if things do go down you will wish someone had figured out how to solve the energy problems.

        • ” A sustainable economy, if it is to grow and prosper”

          What is sustainable growth? Is that the same thing as growing forever?

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Congratulations! …. you have worked out how to bring the costs down — I will take your word for it… so what would you like me to do now – bake you a hero cookie?

          Seeing as you are a self-styled rocket scientist then surely you don’t need me to point you to this… but since I have … when you make your first trillion …. don’t forget — I expect 5% for making the introduction:


    • “Elon Musk is the space wonder boy — maybe you should approach him?”

      Elon Musk has specifically said that he does not believe in space solar power:

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “Elon Musk has specifically said”

        And for Musk/SpaceX, that’s the right answer. I think SpaceX will bring the cost to GEO down to 1/10th of the $20,000 per kg that it now costs. But that’s not close to economic for power satellites.

        Parts and Rectenna, $1100/kW. Transport (at 6.5 kg/kW) $13,000/kW. Total $14,100/kW or 17.6 cents per kWh. That’s over 4 times as expensive as electricity from coal, and by Gail’s criteria, completely useless.

        If we can’t get the lift cost down to $200/kg, don’t build power satellites.

        • “And for Musk/SpaceX, that’s the right answer.”

          His answer was specifically about conversion and transmission losses cancelling out the increased energy and longer (continuous) power. No mention of transport costs.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “conversion and transmission losses ”

            That’s rationalization. Conversion loss is the same in space as it is on the ground. Continuous gives you 5 times as much in space as on the ground. Transmission loss is a little under 50% giving space power an area advantage of about 2.5 over ground. Which it happens is about the cost advantage you can get for space over ground solar.

            Again, it’s cost, not efficiency that’s important. Want a low efficiency industrial process? Dry grinding of cement clinker is around 2% efficient. It uses around 2% of the electrical power supply so it’s a big deal. Should we quit making cement because it’s inefficient to grind clinker?

            • ” Conversion loss is the same in space as it is on the ground.” “Transmission loss is a little under 50% giving space power an area advantage of about 2.5 over ground. ”

              In this case, are you including converting from microwaves to the electric grid as transmission losses? Or is the 50% loss just from the satellite to the rectenna?

              The 5 times is closer to what I thought, rather than the 2 times Musk was saying. Should be 33% more power due to no atmosphere loss of sunlight to the panel (400w sq meter instead of ~300) and about 4 times the uptime, at 24 hours versus 6 hours average for most land surfaces in good locations.

              Did you address the concerns about panels in space wearing out 8 times faster, and about the SBSP system itself contributing to increased space debris?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “including converting from microwaves to the electric grid”

              Yes. 50% end to end, though recent improvements may make it more like 45% loss, 50% is close enough for rough engineering analysis.

              “Did you address the concerns about panels in space wearing out 8 times faster, ”

              I don’t favor PV, it looks like thermal is more efficient and less expensive. But the damage to PV is mostly from trapped particles. The presence of serious numbers of power satellites will eliminate the trapped particles even if you don’t use a trick like Forward and Holt suggested for draining van allen belt

              “and about the SBSP system itself contributing to increased space debris?”

              Power sats are in GEO. They all move at exactly the same speed and don’t bang into each other. Within a few years of the first one, assuming we can get the nations to agree on a control strategy, we can put up a few MW of ablation lasers and clean up all the space junk.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Given that Musk goes for the most outlandish ideas (colonizing mars for instance)….. if he doesn’t believe in space solar then — sorry to break the news to you Keith — this really is a very bad idea indeed. First NASA and now Musk dump on it….

        Maybe golf is not such a bad idea as a hobby after all…. or fishing?

  21. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    “Following that data, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s closely-watched GDPNow forecast model showed the U.S. economy is on track to grow 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, slowing sharply from 2.0 percent growth in the third quarter.”

    Ok, get this; US GDP Growth, 2015, 2nd, 3rd & 4th qtr.
    2nd 3.9%
    3rd 2.0
    4th .6 (estimate)

    Keep in mind the winter along the eastern seaboard has been mild thus far, so the usual lame excuse of extreme cold weather cannot be used. From the 2nd qtr. to the 3rd was a -1.9% drop and from the 3rd to the 4th (an estimate so far but if confirmed) would be a -1.4% drop, indicating GDP is dropping like a stone.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Also keep in mind …. these numbers cannot be trusted…

      Based on the commodity collapse… Baltic Dry Index… declining corporate profits …. China exports… Germany’s stagnation… dire situations in Brazil the EU … recession in Canada with Australia surely not far behind….

      I struggle with any numbers that indicate growth anywhere….

  22. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Oil already trading: WTI down -.58 to 28.84 & Brent -.67 to 28.27
    Do I hear 27, 26, 25, 22, 18?

  23. Fast Eddy says:


    The current situation is eerily reminiscent to the heyday of the mortgage market in 2007, when mortgage defaults started to pick up, and yet the credit default swaps that tracked them continued to decline, bringing losses to those brave enough to trade against the crowd.

    Wells Fargo’s Problem Emerges: $17 Billion In Junk Energy Exposure

    The 2008 moment is coming….

  24. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    History never repeats itself, but it does rhyme…or so they say.

    If you are looking for rhymes for how life was in a simpler era, it may pay to glance at the obituaries from around 1905 in newly settled land in Oklahoma. This area adjoins Kansas just south of Wichita, KS (the home of the Koch brothers). If you want to see what Braman looks like today, take a glance at Wikipedia. There isn’t much of a town left. The peak population was in 1930, before the beginning of the dust bowl and depression. This area was settled by European people in the land rush, just a few years before these obituaries. So you are mostly looking at homesteaders. There are some city people, such as the long obituary for the well-liked minister.

    If you are interested enough to read, you will discover things on your own. I will only observe the high death rate among infants, the farm and railroad accidents, a teenage suicide, several murders, a young husband who abandons his wife and two children, courting in a rented buggy, a boy drowning while swimming in the creek, and lots of older people just dying of old age.

    As a companion piece, I recommend this obituary for a woman in the same vicinity who recently died at the age of 101. She divorced her husband in 1945. 1946 was a peak year for divorces, as the Depression was over and WWII ended and the pressures that kept people together loosened. This woman and her husband were living in a boarding house in 1940. Boarding houses were regarded as kind of the bottom of the barrel, so maybe she was tired of him failing to provide the life she wanted. You will note that she says the Depression taught her to appreciate the things she had. Also note the watermelon festival, inaugurated in the depths of the Depression. It was still going strong when I was a child.


    Don Stewart

  25. Pingback: Get ready for $10 oil

  26. Fast Eddy says:

    “How The Investment Grade Dominos Will Fall” – UBS Explains


  27. Fast Eddy says:

    Feel the power!!!!! ….. of the Elders:

  28. So the sanctions against Iran have been lifted at this moment as expected. Iran can now access its blocked account of $100B, and is about to order ~120 Airbus airplanes for $10B, they will probably buy some toys from Russia as well for the reminder among other stuff.

    The “markets” frontran this but in any case we might look at $15-25 crude quite soon..

  29. Fast Eddy says:

    The beast is dying …

    We must hide the beast’s disease….

    This is what took place: the Dallas Fed met with the banks a week ago and effectively suspended mark-to-market on energy debts and as a result no impairments are being written down. Furthermore, as we reported earlier this week, the Fed indicated “under the table” that banks were to work with the energy companies on delivering without a markdown on worry that a backstop, or bail-in, was needed after reviewing loan losses which would exceed the current tier 1 capital tranches.

    In other words, the Fed has advised banks to cover up major energy-related losses.


    • Yep, you mentioned it in the above Yellin discussion. Now what are the outcomes probabilities and timelines. The Saudies most likely can’t outrun the FEDs propensity to issue fraudulent credit and or softening shale bankruptcy thresholds, simply Saudies can play this game only very few years, what they are going to do?? There are several options looking forward namely:

      – depletion will kicking in relatively soon/er despite global recession or newish round of QE, which would allow oil hovering in some band (new “triangle of doom”) lets say $45-65, that will keep the system afloat for a decade plus with the help of bankers suspending bankruptcy on this sector, can kicking scenario

      – Saudies would in 2-4yrs disintegrate, and the big dogs around would simply take chunks of their liking, mostly Iran and Gulfies, US would allow it for some strategic reason – namely keeping the petrodollar under some rearranged system and getting rid of the royals there for good

      – Saudies as being desperately left hang dry alone (perhaps only mildly protected by Pakistan) would somehow have to join the Chinese-Russian-Egyptian-Iranian-Indian alliance, crazy unimaginable but history knows similar cases

      ..various blackswans

      So far my probabilities in the above are in top down order as listed here, i.e. the most likely is the first one: triangle of doom would be re-adjusted, another leg of can kicking put forward, lets see what 2020s brings about and so on..

      • Creedon says:

        Personally, I see no way that BAU continues in the 2020s. To me, humanity has the choice between greater tyranny or cooperating and beginning a movement back to relearning how to grow food, make clothing and build housing once again. I would project the great die off beginning in the 2020s rather that up around 2050 as the limits to growth would project.

        • daddio7 says:

          People never do the right thing. Everyone is trying to make a buck and live a comfortable, easy life. What you in-vision would take an effort that would make Pol Pot, Mao, and Lenin proud. Most people do not own or even have access to arable land. Hundreds of millions of acres would have to be seized and hundreds of millions of people would have to be relocated in the US alone. Doing things for a profit would have to be banned, the new catch phrase would be “No you can’t”.

        • People are very much driven by hands on examples and copying “best practice” when they see it, that’s how humanity “progressed” through millenia – the problem is that many if not most back to land techniques require several years of carefully planned establishment, oftentimes energy consuming landscaping first etc., so it will progress very slowly upto certain threshold of acceptance from which the wider adoption would skyrocket. Nevertheless there are also affordable/low tech/fast adoption examples also applicable on tiny space, I guess this area could serve as sort of bridge during ~2025-2050, so people could to a degree upgrade their poor government provided basic diet with something more fresh & nutritious. Step by step those who survive would unplug from the system. Many people talk about likelyhood of undershooting bellow the mean in terms of the overpopulation, so perhaps deep cut bellow .5-1B souls globally before 2100 is to be expected..

  30. MJ says:

    This article on ZH about FatASs Americans.
    Thought Don Stewart and Fast Eddy would enjoy.
    Very alarming, no doubt if 3/4’s are overweight it is bad

    Cartoons aside, here are the facts: today two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Half are afflicted with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure that can often be prevented with better diets, but aren’t and as a result debt-funded healthcare costs have exploded, and while this chronic obesity has made pharma companies richer beyond their wildest dreams, it means future US healthcare spending and welfare obligations are unsustainable.

    America didn’t get this way overnight. The average calories available to the average American increased 25 percent, to more than 2500, between 1970 and 2010, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There was no extra meal added to the day, instead an evolution in the type of foods Americans eat led to steady growth in calorie

    Sorry, 90% will just die after things fall apart.

    • ;iydf says:

      Im not the fittest guy in the world. I probably couldnt jog a mile. But I know I can walk ten. I am constantly amazed by the quanities of people who cant move their body mass. They have become so acustomed to combustion engines as a constant that they have abandoned any personal fitness.

  31. jerrylesac says:

    Here’s an interesting chart which speaks volumes about the link between cheap money and big oil. Very interesting !!!!

  32. Stan says:

    Iran to Boost Oil Output by 1 million Barrels Per Day
    FROM: http://sputniknews.com/world/20160117/1033261560/iran-to-boost-oil-output-by-1mln-bpd.html#ixzz3xSFRpRlM

    Anyone want to predict what this does to oil prices?

    BTW, what does it cost to produce a barrel of oil in Iran?

  33. Enda says:

    Here’s Pharrell Williams with his belle femme. No, it’s not THAT video! Anyway, whenever I watch this 6PM version, I always think “Twilight of BAU”. The video makes me feel distinctly uneasy. What will this part of LA look like in 2036, should they want to reprise the video?


    Do you have any videos that make you think of the end of BAU?

  34. Pingback: 2016 : Le pic pétrolier et la fin du super-cycle de la dette- Tail Tveberg - Adrastia

  35. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Expanding on my previous post about surviving in challenging times. This from Charles Hugh Smith today (amazing how often he writes something which is relevant to what I am thinking about).

    ‘Dominant systems do not operate in a vacuum; beneath the surface dominance of one system are many other systems that are suppressed by the dominant system.

    As the dominant system weakens/slows down, these largely invisible systems can expand to occupy more of the ecosystem. An example in the financial realm is barter: in a system dominated by central bank/state issued money and digital transactions, barter still exists but on a very modest scale.

    When central bank/state money loses its value and utility (due to hyper-inflation, etc.), then barter expands rapidly to fill the vacuum left by the demise of the dominant system.

    The ecosystem example illustrates is how critical transitions occur: as the dominant system slows down, other systems fill the spaces that are opened up by the weakness of the dominant arrangement. At some point, the balance or equilibrium of the ecosystem is disrupted and a new balance of other dynamics become dominant.

    In human systems, this process can be at least partially conscious: we can see the dominant paradigm weakening, and start developing other systems that can compete for the openings in the financial/social ecosystem.

    Alternatively, we can cling to a state of denial, and the dominant system will be replaced by archetypal systems that are not necessarily positive. I opt for conscious development of alternatives that can compete transparently for dominance as the status quo slows, weakens and is replaced by more resilient, sustainable systems.’

    Back to me. Many people on this site deny that there is any alternative to the current system. The ecological studies on which the above is based argue differently. The ecological studies certainly don’t indicate that any changes will be pleasant, but they posit a basic continuance between what has been happening for billions of years and what is likely to happen in the next few decades. The next world may well belong to the prepared or the lucky….or maybe the prepared and the lucky.

    Don Stewart

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “The ecological studies certainly don’t indicate that any changes will be pleasant, but they posit a basic continuance between what has been happening for billions of years and what is likely to happen in the next few decades.”

      65 million years ago the biosphere survived a hit from a comet or asteroid much larger than the peak we had of nuclear weapons. It will surely survive us.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        BTW, has it occurred to any of you that the PTB don’t know what to do? The only time in recent history I can think of where they really stepped in was China’s one child policy.

        • Ed says:

          There is no hidden solution. If we here at OFW have no idea for solutions, they, the PTB do not either.

        • Van Kent says:

          TPTB can only work their Pentagon war-games with existing technology and according to the ruling paradigm. Those are the limits. Improve the science, improve the technology, change the paradigm, also the war-games outcomes change.

          The central problem, as far as I can see, is that everybody is trying to save consumerism, democracy, free markets, you know BAU, the way things ought to be done.

          But growth ad infinitum on a finite planet is impossible, therefore all so called “solutions” fail. Its mathematically impossible to keep this system we have, to engineer our way out of this predicament.

          All true solutions would have to start the other way around, what resources do we have, what do we want to accomplish with those resources, how do we make the resources last as long as possible. And then the last point would be to think of the socio-economic model by which the world should be run.

          But since this is also a predicament in ideology, wet dreams of Empire, greed and what Fast Eddy calls cognitive dissonance, we always start climbing this tree ass-first..

          • DJ says:

            “what resources do we have, what do we want to accomplish with those resources, how do we make the resources last as long as possible. ”

            Doesn’t all this “we” imply democracy?

            • Van Kent says:

              DJ, I think democracy was absolutely brilliant in our growth period. Democracy ensured a wider allocation of resources, then despotism or a monarchy. Power should never be inherited, and democracy did a semi ok job at that. But within a contracting global economy, where less and less can be distributed and shared.. Hmm.. Not so good.

              Think of a lifeboat with limited amounts of food and water. What happens if everybody has a say what to do each day? I believe a contracting global economy would need a Meritocracy, those who know about the subject, get to decide for all of us. As long as its common knowledge that the Meritocracy is working for the survival of the majority. But I would never ever cancel first amendment freedom of expression. It would be unfortunate if free speech was cancelled, that would make crowdsourcing impossible.

            • ” I believe a contracting global economy would need a Meritocracy, those who know about the subject, get to decide for all of us.”

              And how are those people selected? Rote memorization tests? Simulations? Contests? How do you objectively determine who is most worthy to manage a specific portfolio?

            • Ed says:

              No leader, dictator or elected, wants to say to his/her subjects “some of you are going to get less.” Far easier to say those evil people outside our country in the nation of evil are the problem. You will have go to war and some of you will have to die to kill the evil people of the country of evil.

            • Artleads says:

              Everybody has a right to basic life support. But how do you define support, or distinguish between wants and needs? A homeless person doesn’t need a “nice home.” A tasteful arrangement of cardboard boxes protected from harsh weather would do.

              In some communist states, people in large houses were forced to take in more people, strangers, even. I would hope for better ways to maximize shelter, ways that don’t decrease independence and quality of life.

            • Van Kent says:

              Matthew, “And how are those people selected? Rote memorization tests? Simulations? Contests? How do you objectively determine who is most worthy to manage a specific portfolio?”

              How does a professor get tenure? How does a company select which consultant to use? How do you select your managers and directors?

              Usually the selection process starts with some texts the applicant has written. Some texts are better suited for the problem area at hand, then other applicants texts. Why did Bernanke get the FED chair? He had excellent knowledge about the Great Depression. One text hardly qualifies, but a lot of peer reviewed research, books and popular blogs usually do.

              Usually those who do the selecting have some sort of picture of the problem area at hand, and then they try to find the best applicant to that specific problem area. After finding the best applicant, they pay vast amounts of money and give free hands to do what is necessary. Why not go with such a selection process?

              I know I wouldn´t qulify for any portfolio. But Gail and Keith have written enough to be on the selection lists to their specific portfolios.

            • “How does a professor get tenure? How does a company select which consultant to use? How do you select your managers and directors?”

              Ah, representative democracy. So basically, the system we already have. The elected people already appoint non-elected people to various posts based on their specific skills and qualifications.

  36. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Expanding a little on my previous note. Thinking about learning something from looking at plants and comparing them to humans and formulating some conclusions about surviving challenging times. Main reference is Chamovitz’ book What A Plant Knows, especially the first chapter.

    Chamovitz, in a family which contains six doctors, wanted to study some science that had nothing to do with humans. But, alas, as he got into the biology of plants, he found much in common between us. ‘I began to question the parallels between plant and human biology even as my own research evolved from studying plant responses to light to leukemia in fruit flies.’

    For example, he discovers that that some genes thought to be ‘plant specific’ also exist in humans. In both cases, they regulate responses to light. The responses are different, but the mechanism of the genes is the same. As an analogy, think of electricity, and how it can perform many different functions, depending on the superstructure we use it in…from a cell to an automobile battery.

    A second example, Barbara McClintock discovered ‘jumping genes’ in Indian Corn. She had to struggle against the entrenched beliefs of her fellow scientists regarding genes, but we now know that ‘jumping genes’ are a factor in cancer in humans. The ‘jumping genes’ may be beneficial in corn, and mostly harmful in humans. An analogy might be the statement that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’.

    A third example, plants ability to genetically respond to light is far more complex than in humans. Yet no plant paints pictures. Plants use light for many very specific purposes, and thus need to physically analyze it in many ways. Humans (and all other animals) are reliant on the plants to do functions such as photosynthesis, and have never evolved the ability to do it. We should not blind ourselves to the skills that plants have just because we highly value the skills that we uniquely have.

    A fourth example, some genetic functions are identical in plants and humans, but the proteins used to accomplish the function are different. ‘Different strokes for different folks.’

    A fifth example, both plants and humans need a daily and seasonal rhythm. An ancient gene named cryptochrome performs functions which enable the circadian rhythms in both plants and humans. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

    Plants are factories which use (mostly) gasses in the air and process them using energy from sunlight. Since sunlight is of supreme importance, we should not be surprised that there are genes which help a plant find the sunlight. If a plant senses that some other plant is shading it, it will grow rapidly toward the light, during the dark. The rapid growth is to try to get ahead of the competitor. The growth in the dark is to avoid the potential damage to DNA posed by UV radiation…genes are most susceptible to damage when they are in cells which are dividing. At the other end of the plant are the roots and the tiny hairs. Since the plant needs minerals from the soil, the plant uses most of the sugars it makes to put exudates out into the soil through the root hairs, thus luring microbes and the critters that feed on the microbes right into the root zone. The critters eating and being eaten make the minerals available to the root hairs in the soluble form required by the plant. The plants also forms mycorrhizal associations with fungi, which bring nutrients and signals from great distances, extending the reach of the plant outside its immediate neighborhood.

    Is taking on debt similar to a ‘torpedoes be damned’ approach and trying to grow while the UV is blazing down?

    I’ll draw a few conclusions from these examples. First, Life has been assembled over billions of years from piece parts which have proven to be useful in many different circumstances. It’s a little like subroutines in computer programming….you never know when it will turn out to be useful. Therefore, having a kit bag full of skills which can be applied to whatever environment comes next should probably be high on the list of anyone aspiring to survive in challenging times. Second, it pays to know when you have to compete and when you need to cooperate. A purely competitive plant will not survive, nor will one which has a super relationship below ground but can’t get to the light above ground. Don’t listen to those who loudly proclaim that it is one or the other.

    Finally, a few more words about energy. This is not covered explicitly in Chapter 1, or anywhere else that I know of. Humans do need to cooperate with each other. However, humans are high up in terms of trophic levels. If your plan is to use another human to accomplish something, then you have to take into your energy calculus the energetic cost of sustaining that human. If you instead choose to rely on plants, then you are depending on a creature that actually produces an energetic surplus. If you choose wild animals to depend on, then you must be aware that wild animals are also a fairly high trophic level, and can be quickly decimated by a large population of humans. For example, I have read about the early Mormons headed toward Utah. The first wagons reported back to Missouri that there was abundant widl game. But the next wagon train found very little game, illustrating how quickly game can be killed off.

    It is interesting to examine industrial agriculture in light of my conclusions about energy. A big majority of plants develop mycorrhizal partnerships. The partnerships are needed to bring minerals such as phosphorus to the plant. But if humans are adding super phosphate to the soil every year, the plants stop putting out the exudates which feed the microbes, and the microbes essentially starve. Industrial plant breeders are breeding out the ability to form the mycorrhizal partnerships, thus making industrial seeds helpless when the industrial supply system collapses. So what you need to do, if you want to survive, is save seeds from plants which have their full complement of skills. (There are other excellent reasons to save seeds, also.)

    These are just some preliminary and sketchy conclusions. I think one of you talented authors should take this subject on and produce a good book.

    Don Stewart

  37. Enda says:

    German finance minister proposes EU-wide petrol tax to pay for refugee crisis.

    Wolfgang Schaeuble gave no details on how high the extra levy on petrol should be, but said it would pay for costs such as securing Schengen’s external borders.


  38. Well, how about this: today, for the first time since before 2008, oil prices are down in the twenties — dub finished Friday at $29.42, & Brent at $31.01 (http://oil-price.net).
    Is this the “invisible hand” of Gail T. or FE? (Naw, I doubt that they rigged it.)

  39. richard says:

    @Gail, just re-read your thoughts for 2016 – Initially I thought them too pessimistic, but two weeks on, I have to agree pretty much 100%. I was hoping there would be some kind of bounce in oil prices mid to late 2016. It’s not just oil. Metals, particularly nickel, have suffered a long decline in prices with supply still ramping up and demand stagnant or falling. The scene is set for bankruptcies, as there will be no incination to voluntarily close the shops. Thats really bad news on two fronts: a) the assets generally go to the banks; and b) bankruptcies lead to defaults and defaults lead to the use of force, including War.
    The present visible ripples are from movement within the financial systems. The real effects are yet to come. Here’s Bloomberg|ZeroHedge
    “While oil prices flashing across traders’ terminals are at the lowest in a decade, in real terms the collapse is even deeper. West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. benchmark, sank below $30 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since 2003. Actual barrels of Saudi Arabian crude shipped to Asia are even cheaper, at $26 – the lowest since early 2002 once inflation is factored in and near levels seen before the turn of the millennium. Slumping oil prices are a critical signal that the boom in lending in China is “unwinding,” according to Adair Turner, chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.”
    “In fact, while sub-$30 per barrel oil sounds very scary, Saudi prices would be less than $17 a barrel when converted into dollar levels for 1998, the year oil sank to its lowest since the 1980s. Slowing investment and construction in China, the world’s biggest energy user, is “sending an enormous deflationary impetus through to the world, and that is a significant part of what’s happening in this oil-price collapse,” Turner, former chairman of the U.K. Financial Services Authority, said.”

    • Creedon says:

      Thanks for your link and thoughts. He is saying that oil can still go much lower than any of us would have thought. The question I would have is, when do the wells begin to be shut in? It is still further in the future than we would of thought. B.W. Hill says that the oil producers need 25 dollars a barrel to cover lifting costs. Even that figure is probably erroneous. Those expecting a rebound in price would appear to be proven wrong.

    • The big story worldwide is slowing economic growth. At some point, our system–which is close to a Ponzi Scheme–collapses.The developed world has needed globalization to pull the world along, but this isn’t happening now.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Gail, here’s a ZH article on Deflation (which you have written extensively about).


        “As we’ve been warning for quite a while (too long for my taste): the world’s grand experiment with debt has come to an end. And it’s now unraveling.

        Just in the two weeks since the start of 2016, the US equity markets are down almost 10%. Their worst start to the year in history. Many other markets across the world are suffering worse.”

        “ There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”
        ~ Ludwig Von Mises

        “It’s global and it’s huge. This deflationary monster has no equal in all of history, so there’s not a lot of history to guide us here.

        At Peak Prosperity we favor the model that predicts ‘first the deflation, then the inflation’ or the “Ka-Poom! Theory” as Erik Janszen at iTulip described it. While it may seem that we are many years away from runaway inflation (and some are doubting it will or ever could arrive again), here’s how that will probably unfold.

        Faced with the prospect of watching the entire financial world burn to the figurative ground (if not literal in some locations), or doing something, the central banks will opt for doing something.

        Given that their efforts have not yielded the desired or necessary results, what can they realistically do that they haven’t already?

        The next thing is to give money to Main Street.

        That is, give money to the people instead of the banks. Obviously puffing up bank balance sheets and income statements has only made the banks richer. Nobody else besides a very tiny and already wealthy minority has really benefited. Believe it or not, the central banks are already considering shifting the money spigot towards the public.

        You might receive a credit to your bank account courtesy of the Fed. Or you might receive a tax rebate for last year. Maybe even a tax holiday for this year, with the central bank monetizing the resulting federal deficits.

        Either way, money will be printed out of thin air and given to you. That’s what’s coming next. Possibly after a failed attempt at demanding negative interest rates from the banks. But coming it is.

        This “helicopter money” spree will juice the system one last time, stoking the flames of inflation. And while the central banks assume they can control what happens next, I think they cannot.

        Once people lose faith in their currency all bets are off. The smart people will be those who take their fresh central bank money and spend it before the next guy.”

        • We will see if Janet Yellen is smart enough to try giving money to main street. She may simply raise interest rates. She doesn’t seem to show much understanding of our problem.

          • Ed says:

            I agree main street needs QE but I expect to see interment camps with 30 million before a single penny is given to main street.

          • Stilgar Wilcox says:

            “She doesn’t seem to show much understanding of our problem.”

            She definitely seems bewildered, and likely as you infer does not understand our problem i.e. financial conundrum resulting from diminishing returns of a finite, primary energy source. I’m sure the relief Helicopter Ben felt once he handed the burden to Yellen must have been exhilarating.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The Fed engineered the shale ‘revolution’ which essentially was like conjuring up millions of barrels of oil out of nowhere… they did it with financial trickery that allowed expensive oil to be pumped out of the ground — oil that never would have been touched because every barrel pumped lost money….

              Recall that we hit peak oil in 2005… and if shale had not happened we would have been dead in the water many years ago…

              So the Fed has effectively bought us 7+ years of BAU with their policies — they are 100% responsible for getting that oil on the market attacking peak oil.

              Additionally it is central banking policies that have ensured that the bond markets, stock markets, property markets, auto markets etc…. have not collapsed. At every step along the way they have acted to head off death spirals with increasingly unconventional, desperate policies.

              Just because the Fed is unable to provide a miracle cure to fix the problem does not mean that they do not understand the problem.

              I will repeat this because it is that important:

              Just because the Fed is unable to provide a miracle cure to fix the problem does not mean that they do not understand the problem.

              They most definitely understand the problem — and they are slapping bandages on a corpse that has had it’s head chopped off…. because there is nothing else that can be done. Staunch the bleeding as best possible — but make no mistake — they know the corpse is going to bleed out.

              For those who believe the Fed doesn’t understand the nature of the problem — then if they were to read FW daily since it started — and agreed with the conclusions of the FW…..

              Do you think they would have done anything different over the past 7+ years?

              Any thoughts on what they could have done differently – what they could do now?

              The way I see it, they have managed this crisis masterfully —- I am truly amazed that we are still alive after 7+ years of this ….. I cannot see a single missed step throughout….

            • FE here we can agree, although Yelling might be only hired as administrative actor told what to do without full scale knowledge of the game, there are probably higher up levels of true players, e.g. recall the scene from early 2000s as Dick Cheney was going over large ME maps with fossil fuels bonanza truly in the Hitler’s style as he looked over the Easter Europe and Russia landmass to be soon conquered.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I don’t see why she wouldn’t be let in on what the stakes are…. what purpose would there be of not telling her?

              I am certain that there are quite a few people who know exactly what is going on…. those tasked with formulating the policies that have kept BAU from collapsing most definitely know… they would have to know…

              People like Paul Krugman know — he is one of the chosen mouth pieces tasked with getting the sheeple onside with policies that would normally be insane…

              Daniel Yergin knows — he’s been tasked with touting the shale revolution — 100 years of oil left… nothing to worry about here sheeple — he knows goddamn well that this story is 100% bullshit….

              Lots of people know — but nobody is saying — because saying would accelerate the end game…

              All we have to do is watch their actions — that says they know

            • Van Kent says:

              Yup, they know.

              “Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/12/pentagon-mass-civil-breakdown

            • Christopher says:

              How can you be so sure that these people understand the situation? Even very intelligent people seems to be cabable of great stupidity. One model of intelligence assumes that human intelligence consists of several building blocks:


              This may be one explanation to why seemingly intelligent people also at the same time can be outrageously stupid. I have seen to many examples of this to exclude the “stupidity” explanation also in this case.

              “All we have to do is watch their actions — that says they know”

              Can you give some examples of this?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have given you one — they have offset peak oil by making it possible for the impossible to happen — the extraction of millions of barrels of shale oil — even though producers lose money on every barrel.

              The fact that we blow the living daylights out of countries to ensure the cheap oil is secured is another obvious indication that the Elders know that cheap oil is crucial to operating BAU.

              It doesn’t take a rocket science degree to work out that high oil prices kill growth — even the Elder’s pet economists at the IMF have reached that conclusion:

              IMF warns sustained high oil prices would hit growth

              This is only one of many reports that can be found coming out of government bodies including the military warning of the crisis (generally they try to partially cloak this under climate change — or they

              I am not clear how anyone can continue to claim that the Elders are unaware of what the disease is after reading this.

              This was a leaked report — so one can imagine that there are far more detailed reports on this issue in the hands of the Elders.

              ‘Peak Oil’ and the German Government: Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis


            • Van Kent says:

              “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

              Hmm.. Soros and Putin could, Kissinger maybe, Zbigniew Brzezinski less so, any of the neocons? Nope, I don´t think so.

              U.S. hegemony and avoiding global collapse seems to be the one and the same strategy, currently, because collapsing the dollar, or crashing the U.S. stock market results in the same outcome. But if we want to avoid needless deaths, then U.S. hegemony is a ideology that will result in millions or billions of needless deaths. Just saying, Pentagon war-games also differ on the outcome you want to produce..

              Christopher, do you have a newborn son or a daughter?

            • richard says:

              Bewildered? I have found the Civil Servants and Bankers see the world differently compared to the views of an Entrepenur or Engineer. Don’t get me started on Economists 😉 Think how you might see the world if your business model depended on Financial Crisis and/or Volatility. How would you feel today?

            • Christopher says:

              Twin boys, but not new-born, they are a year old.

              Ok, so the US will go for upholding their hegemony. As you say, that will lead to unnecessarry blodshed. Maybe you will be right. I don’t know.

              Anyway, the interesting question is, how much does the estblishment understand of what Gail writes about and what is discussed here at OFW. It’s a fact that the vast majority of people don’t understand or agrees with any of Gails conclusions. Now and again you meet some conspiracy theory cackpot that is convinced that the monetary system will fail. Well, maybe the conclusion is right but their reasoning is often entirely wrong.

              Maybe people in the establishment (the elders or whatever you want to call them) are more intelligent and better informed than the average joe. In my own local case (Sweden) people in the establishment surely do not understand, not even the few of them that are intelligent. Ok, there may be someone in the central bank that do see that we will have great problems to say the least. The central bank boss may be one of the more intelligent in the establishment here. Would be interesting to have a casual talk with him to see what he really thinks.

              The elders are probably more intelligent in the US than in Sweden, so maybe they understand more on the other side of the Atlantic. But I am not convinced about that. Couldn’t for instance Yellen and Bernanke be clueless? Eventhough they are intelligent. If you have any convincing proofes to the opposite they would interest me.

              After all, if we apply the stupidity explanation (=also intelligent people can be awfully stupid and make plenty of mistakes) on ourselves, couldn’t everyone here including Gail be wrong? Eventhough Gail and many commentators are obviously really intelligent and well informed. My answer to this is that dreadful conclusions do repell thoughts. That’s why most people do not and will not until it’s to late understand our current predicament. Of course, there is also another interpretation, OFW works as an attractor for people that longs for more drama in their life. A full scale collapse gives this drama.

              In the end I do believe that Gails desciption of the situation is the best one and she will probably be right. There is of course also a possibility to have a slower collapse. But the way our modern society works it seems less likely.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘It’s a fact that the vast majority of people don’t understand or agrees with any of Gails conclusions’

              The vast majority (99.9%) understand virtually nothing. That is because they form their opinions based on what the MSM tells them to believe.

              Even the smartest most educated people are completely misinformed — in fact the smartest most educated people are probably the MOST misinformed because they tend to have had more success in the system therefore their faith in the system is near absolute.

              As it Chomsky who said that in order to exert control it was important to focus on the educated semi elites in society — because these people lead the way and the unwashed masses simply follow…. so we get very sophisticated brainwashing techniques targeting such people…

              e.g. When I was a liberal fool I used to think the New York Times was the cats ass…. I even had a subscription! But then I was reading a column where the writer said ‘the US was a beacon for democracy around the world’ — I forget the context — but that was a mistake by Don Draper — he went too far — he exposed the matrix — and I began climbing out of my deep hole of liberal stupidity…

              I saw the formula: Write articles that are critical of the US government from time to time — that establishes your credibility — with the overall narrative being that the US stands for good in the world …. what this does is ensure that your audience gets on side with just about anything you write — because you are the NYT — you broke the Watergate story — you wrote about Snowden (then of course ran him over with a bus)…

              But you become the voice of the liberal elite — you are the opinion former — you are the MSM of record at dinner party discussions…. (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion explains this in great detail in the control of the media protocol)

              I have never picked up a NYT since I had this epiphany nearly 10 years ago….

              ‘In my own local case (Sweden) people in the establishment surely do not understand’

              See above. People in the establishment have near absolute faith in the system — they get their information from the MSM — they are not the Elders — they are just low level minions of the Elders at best….

              The Elders control the media (feel the power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhR25o6JdxU) therefore they determine what the smart people think

              Essentially the Elders are the ones who are making the matrix. They determine what you read and see.

              Obviously they do NOT want the masses nor the elites understanding the true nature of the problem we are facing. What would be the upside? None. Plenty of downside because people would panic and need Abilify.

              I let a friend walk out of my office in a funk because he began to understand what we are facing — imagine if the MSM were to explain to the masses what Gail has done for us here….

              It would not be good.

              So of course the Elders and those close to the centre will understand the problem — they will fight the problem — but they will never tell the masses what the problem is.

              In fact they will invent very clever stories to cloak the problem — like ‘100 years of shale oil’ — and the masses and the smart educated people — they will just ingest this bullshit because the NYT and Fox told them it is so …

              And they’ll continue to sleep very well….

            • Stilgar Wilcox says:

              FE, the Quote “She doesn’t seem to show much understanding of our problem”, is from Gail, not me.

            • Ed says:

              China, Russia, and US need to join together to take possession of Saudi Arabian oil for the peace and security of the world.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yes … I can imagine how Christian nations occupying Mecca would bring world peace….

            • Christopher says:

              “I have given you one — they have offset peak oil by making it possible for the impossible to happen — the extraction of millions of barrels of shale oil — even though producers lose money on every barrel.”

              Yes, now they are loosing money. But a price of >100$ means profit. I guess that’s what they expected. May I remind you of the tulip bubble in the netherlands. Stupidity caused fantasy amounts for tulips (no elders there). Today we have shale oil companies instead of tulips. I don’t know were the losses of these companies will end up. Maybe pension funds, they are often not very smart.

              “The fact that we blow the living daylights out of countries to ensure the cheap oil is secured is another obvious indication that the Elders know that cheap oil is crucial to operating BAU.”

              Cheap oil is necessary to wealth. Also many non-elders (=for instance ordinary power hungry politicians) would be ready to “blow the living daylights out” of many places to avoid recessions. I guess they think the usual way, that the end justifies the means. An example: replacing Saddam can lead to democracy and increased wealth also to iraq. It’s a win-win in the end. Note that this is not the way I think. I just wanted to describe how some people think to justify things.

              “It doesn’t take a rocket science degree to work out that high oil prices kill growth — even the Elder’s pet economists at the IMF have reached that conclusion:

              IMF warns sustained high oil prices would hit growth”

              As it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that high oil price has to be avoided you don’t have to be a pet economist to any elder to reach that kind of conclusion. Some economists realize this some others don’t.

              “This is only one of many reports that can be found coming out of government bodies including the military warning of the crisis (generally they try to partially cloak this under climate change — or they”

              As said: you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that there will be problems. Some realize there are problems others don’t.

              “I am not clear how anyone can continue to claim that the Elders are unaware of what the disease is after reading this.”

              There is a lot of information around. The question is do all threads have a common end called the elders or is everything just a tangle of stupidity, lazyness and denial? How much do the powerful really understand. Another question to ask is how much is your fantasy playing around with this information to se threads meeting at a common end. The danger of high intelligence but a lack of intrapersonal intelligence ( that is self-knowledge) is that your intelligence can start running wild.

              I am a sceptic. You may be right, in fact it’s not unlikely. But until I get clearer evidence it seems more likely that we don’t have any elders coordinating the doings of the earthlings.

            • “Stupidity caused fantasy amounts for tulips (no elders there). Today we have shale oil companies instead of tulips.”

              Tulip Mania was partially about the rarity of certain colors of tulips. The prices crashed because they stopped being rare because the high prices stimulated people to invest time and effort into developing new technology. They figured out cloning or some other method to make as many tulips of whatever type you wanted.

              With shale oil, likewise, the high prices lead to technology that reduces the cost. It also encouraged Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. Also, not directly related to the high prices, Iraqi production has been coming back online and now Iran has had its embargo lifted and its assets unfrozen.

              The irrationality is not in the prices going up and encouraging innovation, just in the herd developing the belief that the trend will never end, and stampeding right off a cliff.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘How much do the powerful really understand.’

              Try reading the book the Protocols of the Elders of Zion if you want to understand what they understand.

              I went through it again on a recent long haul flight

              I’ve neglected to mention that one of the key protocols was related to the importance of not making the same mistake of monarchies in that you never ever want to be seen to be pulling the strings….

              Ideally you stick a democracy in front of you — but a dictator works just as well —- because they become the targets when a policy goes sideways….

              The sheeple will bleat and squeal and protest —- but if they don’t know there is a man behind the curtain — the man behind the curtain is never targeted.

              As we can see from many of the comments on this topic —- this protocol has been executed to absolute perfection 🙂

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The forgery ”


              FE needs a better BS filter.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yes – I also saw the endless comments about forgery and hoax when I was searching for information on this document….

              It was the main reason why I decided to read the document in its entirety not once — but twice.

              The thing is…

              If information that I believed would be damaging if it were to be published…. was leaked …. the first thing I would do is deny deny deny — the second thing I would do is flood the airwaves with commentary explaining how it was a hoax….

              So when I see all those protestations — I operate off the assumption that there might be a bit of fire here….

              And because I am not a stupid donkey — what I did was read the document — and came to my own conclusions about whether the document is a hoax or not.

              It is most definitely not a hoax. I am 100% certain of that

              I don’t have a lot of interest in debating issues with donkeys.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              This http://www.amazon.com/Protocols-learned-elders-Zion-Sergiei/dp/1578987407

              One other thing… the ‘Stab in the Back’ is actually real – Zionist bankers did sell out their country (Germany) in WW1 in exchange for a deal on a homeland (Israel)… that is indisputable

              But if you google that you will find endless commentary claiming it was a hoax too…

              Can’t have the sheeple believing Mr Hitler was provoked…

              Of course it does not justify killing millions of people who were not holding the knife….

            • Christopher says:

              Van Kent,

              I have twin boys, but they are soon a year old.

            • Van Kent says:

              Christopher, oh, ok, I remembered somehow there was another on the way. Don´t worry, you´ll be sleeping again in two or three years time, when the twins grow up a bit 🙂

  40. Rodster says:

    According to this ZH article the real price of shale oil is worth about $9 a barrel.

    “Oil, War, & Drastic Global Change’

  41. Fast Eddy says:

    The beast is dying …

    Wal-Mart Rubs Salt on Deepening Retail Wounds

    Brick-and-mortar retailers are being taken out the back and shot.

    With impeccable timing – the very morning that the Commerce Department would report crummy retail sales – Wal-Mart Stores rubbed salt on the wound. It disclosed in an SEC filing that it was “committed to growing,” as CEO Doug McMillon put it, but was “being disciplined about it.”

    Corporate speak for shutting 154 stores in the US – its 102 Walmart Express stores, 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, 7 stores in Puerto Rico, 6 discount centers, 4 Sam’s Club stores – and 115 stores internationally, for a total of 269 stores.

    So this will “impact” 10,000 “associates” in the US and 6,000 internationally. Those folks will be given “priority” for open positions at other stores. If that doesn’t work out, they’re on their own with 60 days’ pay and “if eligible, severance.” They’re going to be looking for jobs just when other retailers are also whittling down their headcount.

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2016/01/15/wal-mart-store-closings-brick-and-mortar-retailers/

  42. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    With oil priced in the twenties, I got curious as to how world consumption was doing, so did a Google search and found the above link. It shows world fuel consumption balance graph, (i.e. balance between production and consumption) with production greater than consumption and both have recently been descending. It shows projections from 2016 on, with a balance between consumption and production not occurring until the end of 2017.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I wonder how they arrived at the projects that show increases next year… when they is no driver of the global economy…

      Or maybe they just decided to take a haul on the hopium pipe…. and push the line upwards with no rhyme or reason….

    • Right. According to the EIA projections, the first draw on inventories will not occur until the third quarter of 2017.

      Government projections tend to err on the side of optimism. If additions to inventories aren’t curbed pretty quickly (they claim supply and demand will be in better balance starting in the first quarter of 2016), it seems like at some point we will run into an inventory space problem.

  43. Fast Eddy says:


    I’m at the office yesterday and a friend drops by at the end of the day…. we get to talking about the economy and he expresses concerns that something very bad is headed our way — he’s very worried about what he sees across the border in China…

    We get to talking about how growth has ended — and massive stimulus is the response — how oil costs over $100 to produce – yet prices are under $30 – even with the stimulus…

    He left in a very down mood — commenting that he had 3 kids to worry about…. no doubt this is going to be in the back of his mind constantly now…

    I felt very badly afterwards for helping him to ‘get it’ I would rather we had not had the discussion. Going forward I will avoid this type of discussion – even if someone else brings it up.

    We all seem to want people to ‘get it’ — but this is a perfect example of why it is best nobody ‘gets it’ — why we should not help people ‘get it’ …. there is nothing they can do even if they do ‘get it’…. getting it will result in nothing positive… and it might lead clinical depression.

    Such discussions should be confined to FW….

    • Van Kent says:

      Yup, I agree. Nothing of any value follows when we “help” someone get it.

    • psile says:

      Yep, I shut up talking about it to people 3 years ago. it pisses them off and you feel like an asshole afterwards. Kinda like tell a 4-year-old there’s no Santa or tooth fairy, all in one.

    • Don B says:

      Hi Fast Eddy,

      Let the sleepwalkers feel uncomfortable. It is better to see the world as it is. If only more of us did so.

      Don B

      • Chris Harries says:

        I’ve heard it rationalised the other way around. Viz: “If there’s nothing that can be done now that we are beyond tipping points then the kindest thing to do is to allow the mass of people to live out their days in ignorance, rather than unnecessarily cause a huge amount of stress and grief.” There’s some logic to this I suppose. But I think there needs to be space for those who need to understand what’s happening to see it a it is and share it with like minds.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “If there’s nothing that can be done now that we are beyond tipping points, . . . .”

          Can you see the future so clearly that you are absolute certain that nothing can be done?

          I am reminded of Captain Al Haynes and Senior Pilot “Denny” Fitch. If there was ever a situation which was beyond the tipping point, that was it. 111 people died in that partly controlled landing, but 185 lived.

          What would you have done in that situation? Give up? Or try to land?


          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘Can you see the future so clearly that you are absolute certain that nothing can be done?’

            I don’t think one needs to see the future — what can be done is being done — printing money — propping up failing companies — holding off the deflationary implosion for as long as possible….

            The fissures in the dam are starting to spurt water….

          • bandits101 says:

            YOU like dime a dozen engineers want to build and I mean construct build. Not manoeuvre, reduce, lessen, de-engineer or deconstruct. It’s always ‘trust me, we expend more now to save in the future”, as in electric cars, solar panels, space solar and windmills, it’s about MORE, EXTEND, PRETEND, KICK THE CAN, BAU. The trouble is, all these new technology devices for the future only now APPEAR to be viable by stealing from the future, increasing debt and depleting the resources available for future generations, they never stood a chance in the day of cheap fossil fuels for the simple reason, THEY WERE NOT VIABLE.

            These devices are not free of course, the ideas man/designer wants someone to pay and of course it will be the taxpayer because they can’t possibly stand on their own. The consumer is being bled white to preserve the core….the uber rich and elite.

            Now in the declining years of cheap fossil fuels, these wonder devices come along to feed from the carcass of the dying beast. It’s very similar to quacks selling their cures to terminal cancer patients and the quacks know these people will clutch at every straw presented. Our only hope, long since past was to stop doing those things that create our problems, reduce populations and thereby reduce deforestation, reduce pollution…………..

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “These devices are not free of course,”

              Of course. The question is are they less expensive than what else is a choice. Power satellites provide base load power, same as nuclear reactors, but at about $2.4 B/GW. Depending on where you are in the world, that makes them 1/2 to 1/4 the cost of reactors, the next least expensive way to keep the power on. Given the need to deal with GHG and a choice between them, which would you prefer?

            • ” Power satellites provide base load power, same as nuclear reactors, but at about $2.4 B/GW. Depending on where you are in the world, that makes them 1/2 to 1/4 the cost of reactors, the next least expensive way to keep the power on. Given the need to deal with GHG and a choice between them, which would you prefer?”

              Except the reactors have been used for decades, with known costs and risks. The power satellites are unproven. After you get that first power satellite running for 30 years, then you can have a real, fact based comparison.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The power satellites are unproven.”

              That’s true.

              On the other hand, comm sats have been converting sunlight to microwaves and sending it down from GEO for a *long* time. It’s a big scale up to go from kW to GW, but both PV and thermal have a long history. PV has been used for decades and thermal cycles for over a century.

              “After you get that first power satellite running for 30 years, then you can have a real, fact based comparison.”

              Point taken. However, nobody is going to build just one of them. It’s cheaper to build the infrastructure and a dozen power satellites than it is to build just one of them with current expendable rockets. If the first one operates to specification, would you object to building 3000 of them before we have 30 years of comparison?

              BTW, there *are* risks associated with humanity becoming dependent on power satellites. We could lose the whole fleet of them in less than a second. In 774 or 775 the Earth apparently was looking down the bore of a gamma ray burst. It shows up as a jump in the carbon 14 and Be 10. Unless the control electronics was shielded and/or able to restart after a such a radiation blast, power would be gone. Being hit with a GRB is rare, but the consequences are severe.

            • Chris Harries says:

              Drones. 3D printers. Autonomous cars. Robots.

              Mention these magic words (plus some others) to certain people and their eyes sparkle. These missing links are seen to be the salvation of society. We are dealing with a pathology that is immune to logic, it’s to do with Belief. It’s where science fiction morphs into reality. To date, technology has provided society with everything it wants and it has done so so successfully that logic tells us that it always will. This is sort of the religion of our era. And being a belief system, it’s fairly impervious to logic.

              The net result is that this is the course we humans will pursue no matter what. It’s what Einstein wisely pointed out as ‘futilely trying to solve a problem by doing the same thing that caused the problem in the first place’. Or as someone else wisely put it: “Human being will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other possibilities”. I like that one. Sums it up perfectly.

            • Ed says:

              Yeah, the robots. The robots will do the permaculture farming no need for me to get my hands dirty. The robots will mine the low grade brown coal, the low grade iron ore.

              There was a science fiction story with super high consumption where the people had to spend all their time consuming to avoid a Keynesian collapse. Until our hero figures out he can use his robot to do the consuming leaving him in peace to do less.

          • Artleads says:

            There are many brave, new world things being done by BAU. The satellite energy sounds like one of them. Here are others:

            “The $4.5 trillion asset manager BlackRock Inc. said last year climate change is a serious financial concern, and other institutional investors like AXA SA, Aviva PLC and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System have established similar stances, as have European investment giants Munich Re Group and Swiss Re AG.

            Alex Bernhardt, the U.S. head of responsible investment for Mercer LLC, the global consulting firm with about $9 trillion in assets under advisement, said the WEF report emphasized that climate change is a “catalytic issue” becoming more important within corporate boardrooms. $769 Billion Swiss bank Davos meeting packets received. Gold embossed pages outline IMF TA for next week: “Atmosphere Regulation” altering jet stream with Em Miro-signals to flash freeze (cut vortex holes) to induce stratospheric cooling channels down to troposphere. Sonic Microwaves to force North Atlantic current. Bio-defense is a major corporate bid to the Pentagon & Beijing. They only get one chance to test SRM and Raytheon technologies. Climate control is going viral. Ultra sophisticated tech guarantees it will be a blast when the industrial complex uses every measure in development.

            Good news: Decommissioning Crystal River phase 1 only took 6 years to complete cooling pond to cask & containment. Waste ready for removal. Unfortunately China Nuclear has a series of water platform reactors in construction for operation by 2020. Looks like we will have over 500 Fukishima’s ready just in time for pre-NTE global wars & de-pop.”

            END OF QUOTE

            I lack the intellectual experience and interest to match my highly developed intuition. So I’m like a plane flying with one engine missing. I must do something analogous to what pilots with missing engines do. I have to compensate somehow.

            What I learn on FW is how pervasive is the socioeconomic web in which I’m stuck. Aspects that intuition might have dismissed now seem worth discussion. So, while intuition wouldn’t go for satellite energy or nuclear energy or geoengineering, compensation for that missing engine makes me open minded about whatever it is TPTB decides. Of course, I look for safe alternatives for myself and those nearby, and I advocate for those safe measures as widely as possible. But the globe’s collective intelligence will have to figure out the most feasible alternatives for the species, everyone singing their best tune to see which ones will be included.

            • Joe Blow says:


              “Are you absolutely sure that adding a vast supply of exceedingly clean energy will not help?”

              As Chris Harries points out it is the “multiple limits” that is the “core predicament”. It is not that a “vast supply of…clean energy” is not possible. The question is – does the pursuit of that goal push OTHER systems over their limit? The question of whether cheap energy is possible cannot be taken in isolation.

              If the pursuit of clean, cheap energy pushes other systems over their limit, then the clean, cheap energy becomes a moot point – so what that we have an awesome supply of energy, we collapsed the (insert system that we pushed past breaking point) which makes the fact that we have this energy irrelevant.

              We have to identify which of the “multiple limits” we are closest to overstepping. That will set the limit for ALL other activities. If the resources the earth has left to give before we overstep the limit is 1 truckload, and the plan that results in abundant, cheap, clean energy requires 2 truckloads, then it doesn’t matter that it COULD be done. It is actually even more nuanced than this gross simplification.

              It seems though, that humans have this tendency to say – “well if we dig really deep, we could scrape together the 2 truckloads, so lets just pretend that the 1 truckload limit doesn’t exist, because you can’t be absolutely sure that it is exactly 1 truckload – or insert some other fallacious, rhetorical sophistry that has been used over millennia to obfuscate reality.

              If anything is to be done now, it should be an attempt at finding out our position in reality. Given human history and biological tendencies, this will never be completed (or even really started) but until it is, postulation of any “solutions” is pointless.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The question of whether cheap energy is possible cannot be taken in isolation.”

              I agree. But take fresh water for example. With lots of cheap energy you can take the salt out of seawater and pump it inland a 1000 km. Unless you think we would run out of seawater.

              “If the resources the earth has left to give before we overstep the limit is 1 truckload, and the plan that results in abundant, cheap, clean energy requires 2 truckloads, then it doesn’t matter that it COULD be done. It is actually even more nuanced than this gross simplification.”

              It certainly is. But lets put it in terms of a recent expensive project, the Iraq war.

              “The financial cost of the war has been . . . . over $845 billion to the U.S. government.”

              If the peak investment to get this project to profitable is less than 1/10th of this number, would you say it is worth giving it a try?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I was in Bahrain a few years ago — they desalinate loads of sea water there — I visited an area that had old ruins — there was a bay nearby where they were dumping the salt that was extracted from the water…

              I was told the bay was a dead zone — the salt levels were far too high for anything to live in — it had destroyed the fishing industry in that area…

              More on this: “All fresh water in the Gulf has been minimised significantly,” said Dr Mohammed Dawoud, manager of the water resources department at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD). “The pollution load has increased dramatically.”

              See http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/desalination-threat-to-the-growing-gulf

              There is no free lunch — if we had a free energy source and started to purify billions of gallons of water we’d quickly create an ecological disaster.

              Keith – the fact that you posted this comment without being able to consider the consequences does not inspire confidence that you are going to be able to make space solar work….

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “without being able to consider the consequences”

              How about you read this http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2013-March/076409.html

              and see if you don’t want to withdraw that comment.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am not quite clear what that comprehensive and highly scientific document is trying to convey (sarc on)…

              So maybe you can put it in layman’s terms for people like me:

              Yes I know that we can desalinate water.

              But what do we do with the enormous amounts of salt that we remove from the water? How do we dispose of it?

              Do we just dump it back into the ocean as Middle East countries are doing?

              Do we pile it up on land? Before you shout ‘yes’ — remember that salt is water soluble …

              Keep in mind if energy was very cheap — we’d be desalinating a hell of a lot more water than we are now ….. which would mean a hell of a lot more salt to dispose of — as in millions upon millions of tonnes of the stuff….

              Also – if you have a solution why are you not approaching Middle East countries and selling it to them — because as I have pointed out — they are facing a salt-related environmental nightmare

              It sounds this solution would result in a high blood pressure epidemic for the planet….

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “But what do we do with the enormous amounts of salt that we remove from the water? How do we dispose of it? ”

              Don’t pull enough water out of the sea water passing through at depth to concentrate the salt enough to be concerned with it. That’s clearly described.

              It’s in a peer reviewed paper from a conference proceedings put out by the American Inst. of Physics, 2010 ISBN 978-0-7354-0774-9

            • daddio7 says:

              In most places the ocean has currents, the Gulf Stream off the east coast of Florida moves over 30 million cubic meters a second. Some places may not. Anywhere humans go is no longer natural, we spread pipelines and move water away from its natural course everwhere. As Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone …”.

            • Artleads says:

              “We have to identify which of the “multiple limits” we are closest to overstepping. That will set the limit for ALL other activities.”

              I agree. Looking at the system as a whole would be best (insofar as it’s possible to do it) and that not doing it is more about mind set than firm reality.

            • Joe Blow says:

              Sorry Keith, I cant seem to find a “reply” button to your comment specifically.

              “Unless you think we would run out of seawater”.

              But you haven’t addressed the problem that I raised…you have simply attempted to shift the goal posts.

              It doesn’t matter if the achievement of cheap, clean energy fixes other problems UNLESS IT CAN FIRST BE SHOWN THAT THE ACHIEVEMENT OF CHEAP, CLEAN ENERGY WILL NOT EXCEED THE LIMIT OF THE WEAKEST LINK IN THE CHAIN.

              Cheap, clean energy COULD make all the desalinated water in the world but of what use is that if there is no world? If there is no ecosystem to use that water, of what use is the water?

              “If the peak investment…”

              Only humans talk about “investment”. Please try to explain “investment” to the ecosystem. I’m sure “it” will be willing to extend itself past “its” limits (magically, without crashing). In fact, I’m sure “it” will be willing to invest, just so we can start making use of those resources we haven’t yet exploited (seawater?).

              Again, the limiting factor to your proposed “solution” is the limit of whichever system is most critical in reality. That is the factor you keep avoiding in your responses.

              “If the peak investment to get this project to profitable is less than 1/10th of this number, would you say it is worth giving it a try?”

              A classic example of the fallacious, rhetorical sophistry I was talking about. You are trying to compare 2 categories that are fundamentally different. Unlike money, once the limit of finite resources is breached, no amount of fast talking will magically make it reappear.

              This is the critical factor that needs to be overcome BEFORE your energy solution can even be a twinkle in its daddy’s eye. As of now, there are plenty of people screaming that we are at limits all over the place. Who is assessing their claims? Which committee is tasked with the difficult task of deciding which system is the limiting factor?

            • hkeithhenson says:


              I don’t know how to run such an analysis. If you do, please teach us.

              “Unlike money, once the limit of finite resources is breached, no amount of fast talking will magically make it reappear.”

              I don’t think a “limit of finite resources” can be breached by definition. If you have x sunlight falling on an area, you can’t breach the limit and get x plus delta. Fast talking with a resource like copper won’t help, but research into nanotubes or aluminum will let you use a substitute for conductors.

              “people screaming that we are at limits all over the place. Who is assessing their claims?”

              Depends on the claim. For the claim we are beyond the safe amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, there are a lot of people working on it. NOAA folks among others.

              “Which committee is tasked with the difficult task of deciding which system is the limiting factor?”

              Good question. If there was, would you trust them to decide correctly? To think of everything? To take into account discoveries which have not happened yet?

            • Joe Blow says:

              Sorry Keith, I cant seem to reply directly to your specific comment

              “I agree. But take fresh water for example. With lots of cheap energy you can take the salt out of seawater and pump it inland a 1000 km. Unless you think we would run out of seawater.”

              But Keith, if the achievement of the cheap energy requires that we overstep the limit of some part of the system (in other words, we take out 2 truckloads when 1 truckload was the limit), then the fact that we COULD turn water into wine becomes irrelevant! What exactly will we be watering if there is no ecosystem? The achievement of cheap, clean, abundant energy only has value IF we manage to to achieve this WITHOUT overstepping the limit. Therefore our FIRST task is to try to ascertain what the most acute limit is and then design a response from that point.

              “But lets put it in terms of a recent expensive project, the Iraq war.
              “The financial cost of the war has been . . . . over $845 billion to the U.S. government.”
              If the peak investment to get this project to profitable is less than 1/10th of this number, would you say it is worth giving it a try?”

              “Investment” is a human concept. Unfortunately Mother Nature doesn’t give 2 shits about what concepts we invent. But…be my guest and see whether Mother Nature is willing to “invest” past Her limit (without collapsing). Surely She will make an exception just this once, especially when you tell Her that we will use Her investment to exploit some of the other resources the she has just lying around being unproductive (seawater). Actually, probably better if you conveniently forget to mention that last part…

              Your argument above is a classic case of the fallacious, rhetorical sophistry that humans have so brilliantly deluded themselves with for centuries. Aside from the accounting context where they are assigned a “value”, the planetary resources/systems are fundamentally different from money. Additional resources/ecological systems do not get magically created out of thin air (unless you ask a fundamental Christian). You have used a false analogy.

              But even despite your flawed analogy, you miss that the money in fact would NOT be the problem. If we can identify the weakest link, the most acute limit and then design a response to meet that limit, then the money would magically appear.

              The question that you have avoided is the IDENTITY of the most acute limit, the weakest link. This is the crucial question which undermines all your sincere and well intentioned efforts. There are many people screaming about limits on multiple fronts – Where is the committee that is evaluating all these claims? What is the criteria?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “If we can identify the weakest link, the most acute limit and then design a response to meet that limit, then the money would magically appear.”

              I thought you were all aware of the biggest problem. It’s the lift cost. It’s been the problem since the idea of power satellites was patented in 1968. Between the UK Skylon project and arcjets powered by subscale power satellites we _think_ there is now a solution. And you may be right about the money if the idea gets enough attention and analysis.

              “The question that you have avoided is the IDENTITY of the most acute limit, the weakest link”

              I try to identify weak links. It looks like we can build around 40 five GW power satellites a year without damaging the ozone layer. The damage is caused by the NOx from the reentering reusable rockets or rocket planes. But if the intent is to get off fossil fuels in less than ten years, the rate needs to go up to around 400 a year or two TW. Takes 7 to 8 years at that rate to build 15 TW, which is what humans now use of fossil fuels. That takes around a million flights per year and it may come to a choice of issuing a lot of sunblock for a decade or putting up with the effects of CO2. (Million flights is ten days of commercial airline traffic.)

              However, just yesterday someone suggested that a little ammonia released into the stratosphere will react with the NOx making N2 and water. There is some argument that NH3 coming up from the troposphere may be what naturally controls the NOx made by incoming meteorites.

              If you can think of more weak links, please post them.

            • Joe Blow says:

              Sorry Keith, the last paragraph should have read –

              The question that you have avoided is the IDENTITY of the most acute limit, the weakest link and THEN whether the creation of a cheap, clean energy can be achieved WITHOUT overstepping this limit. This is the crucial question which undermines all your sincere and well intentioned efforts. There are many people screaming about limits on multiple fronts – Where is the committee that is evaluating all these claims? What is the criteria?

            • Joe Blow says:


              It is becoming hard to know whether you are intentionally avoiding providing an answer to my question.

              I am not looking for a weak link in your solar power system – FE looks like he is having enough fun doing that.

              Lets assume that you have the perfect system.

              Now lets also assume that to implement that system requires 2 truckloads of the earths “stuff”

              But…and this is the crux of my question…what if the Earth only has 1 truckload of “stuff” to give before it goes into collapse?

              This is the crucial question that you keep avoiding.

              Just in case you feel the need to cherry pick – I am not saying you have the perfect system or that you have ever claimed that. I use this assumption to try to get you to focus and stop going off on irrelevant tangents.

              I am also not saying that the Earth only had 1 physical truckload of “stuff” or that the implementation of your system requires 2 physical truckloads of “stuff”.

              I am asking you to consider the consequences of the implementation of your system, IF the implementation of the system oversteps the limit of Earths resources/systems. of what use is cheap energy if for example, (and please for the love of god, understand that it is an example) the cheap energy is in available in a collapsed ecosystem that cannot sustain life?

              Shouldn’t the first step be to take a thorough inventory of the “stuff” that is left, what is in critically short supply, what systems are in acute danger of collapse – you know, get an idea of where we ACTUALLY are in reality?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Shouldn’t the first step . . . ”

              I am an engineer rather than a bean counter. Any serious analysis of a power satellite project will absolutely require looking at the resources needed. But for fun let’s consider that we use 35% nickle Invar for the structural material of power satellites. It’s good for that. And say half way through the project we run out of nickle from mines on Earth. Assume further that we can’t just design around the shortage. Half way through we are moving 15 million tons a year to LEO. Do we give up? Or will someone remember that asteroid 1986 DA is solid metal, a billion tons of it nickle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%286178%29_1986_DA

            • Joe Blow says:

              “Any serious analysis of a power satellite project will absolutely require looking at the resources needed.”

              When? At what point in the process? I don’t know why, but I have a sneaking suspicion that…wait…ahhh

              “I am an engineer rather than a bean counter.”

              Damn. You said it Keith. It is SOMEONE ELSES problem.

              But wait…oh…no…

              “But for fun let’s consider that we use 35% nickle Invar for the structural material of power satellites. It’s good for that. And say half way through the project we run out of nickle from mines on Earth. Assume further that we can’t just design around the shortage. Half way through we are moving 15 million tons a year to LEO. Do we give up? Or will someone remember that asteroid 1986 DA is solid metal, a billion tons of it nickle.”

              I was going to try to break this down for you until I realised that you don’t want to hear it. You’re a smart guy, you can see the flaws in your reasoning, the leaps of faith that magic away the problems that you just gloss over with the stroke of a keyboard.

              Thanks for trying Keith. Unfortunately, unless we collectively address the magical thinking that has plagued the human species…its ok, I won’t finish that, cause you don’t want to hear that either.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “I was going to try to break this down for you until I realised that you don’t want to hear it.”

              Actually, I do want to hear of *any* problems to getting this done. The biggest one I know of right now is the NOx/ozone problem. Materials and energy don’t seem to be a problem. The material used is around a hundred times less than building solar on earth. The energy to haul the parts up would most likely come from LNG to start, a few shipsloads a week, well under 2% of the LNG trade. But once the project is going, you can make hydrogen from the energy coming down from space and water.

              “leaps of faith that magic away the problems”

              Engineers, at least the ones from my generation, are not into magical thinking. That’s what management does. I was fired from the last time I was an employee (1972) because I would not sign off on the MTBF of some hardware (thermocouple isolation amplifiers) which I suspected (years later) were intended for nuclear reactors. They wanted me to certify that these things had a mean time before failure of 250,000 hours when from looking at the heat loading of one part, it would be lucky to last 2000 hours (400 mW on a 250 mW resistor).

              Magical thinking, like, “we can run it without maintenance or inspections,” is what causes disasters like this.


              Or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_Mississippi_River_bridge#Investigation

              The latter was partly a design error in the days prior to good computer structural analysis.

              You might also consider this


              Where an engineering student started the building engineer reviewing a change from welded to bolted joints.

              So, yes. If you see specific problems, list them out.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ve done that.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “I’ve done that.”

              I answered you. You repeated copying from wikipedia without change or acknowledgement that I had said anything. That’s not useful.