Why oil under $30 per barrel is a major problem

A person often reads that low oil prices–for example, $30 per barrel oil prices–will stimulate the economy, and the economy will soon bounce back. What is wrong with this story? A lot of things, as I see it:

1. Oil producers can’t really produce oil for $30 per barrel.

A few countries can get oil out of the ground for $30 per barrel. Figure 1 gives an approximation to technical extraction costs for various countries. Even on this basis, there aren’t many countries extracting oil for under $30 per barrel–only Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. We wouldn’t have much crude oil if only these countries produced oil.

Figure 1. Global Breakeven prices (considering only technical extraction costs) versus production. Source:Alliance Bernstein, October 2014

Figure 1. Global breakeven prices (considering only technical extraction costs) versus production. Source: Alliance Bernstein, October 2014

2. Oil producers really need prices that are higher than the technical extraction costs shown in Figure 1, making the situation even worse.

Oil can only be extracted within a broader system. Companies need to pay taxes. These can be very high. Including these costs has historically brought total costs for many OPEC countries to over $100 per barrel.

Independent oil companies in non-OPEC countries also have costs other than technical extraction costs, including taxes and dividends to stockholders. Also, if companies are to avoid borrowing a huge amount of money, they need to have higher prices than simply the technical extraction costs. If they need to borrow, interest costs need to be considered as well.

3. When oil prices drop very low, producers generally don’t stop producing.

There are built-in delays in the oil production system. It takes several years to put a new oil extraction project in place. If companies have been working on a project, they generally won’t stop just because prices happen to be low. One reason for continuing on a project is the existence of debt that must be repaid with interest, whether or not the project continues.

Also, once an oil well is drilled, it can continue to produce for several years. Ongoing costs after the initial drilling are generally very low. These previously drilled wells will generally be kept operating, regardless of the current selling price for oil. In theory, these wells can be stopped and restarted, but the costs involved tend to deter this action.

Oil exporters will continue to drill new wells because their governments badly need tax revenue from oil sales to fund government programs. These countries tend to have low extraction costs; nearly the entire difference between the market price of oil and the price required to operate the oil company ends up being paid in taxes. Thus, there is an incentive to raise production to help generate additional tax revenue, if prices drop. This is the issue for Saudi Arabia and many other OPEC nations.

Very often, oil companies will purchase derivative contracts that protect themselves from the impact of a drop in market prices for a specified time period (typically a year or two). These companies will tend to ignore price drops for as long as these contracts are in place.

There is also the issue of employee retention. In a sense, a company’s greatest assets are its employees. Once these employees are lost, it will be hard to hire and retrain new employees. So employees are kept on as long as possible.

The US keeps raising its biofuel mandate, regardless of the price of oil. No one stops to realize that in the current over-supplied situation, the mandate adds to low price pressures.

One brake on the system should be the financial pain induced by low oil prices, but this braking effect doesn’t necessarily happen quickly. Oil exporters often have sovereign wealth funds that they can tap to offset low tax revenue. Because of the availability of these funds, some exporters can continue to finance governmental services for two or more years, even with very low oil prices.

Defaults on loans to oil companies should also act as a brake on the system. We know that during the Great Recession, regulators allowed commercial real estate loans to be extended, even when property valuations fell, thus keeping the problem hidden. There is a temptation for regulators to allow similar leniency regarding oil company loans. If this happens, the “braking effect” on the system is reduced, allowing the default problem to grow until it becomes very large and can no longer be hidden.

4. Oil demand doesn’t increase very rapidly after prices drop from a high level.

People often think that going from a low price to a high price is the opposite of going from a high price to a low price, in terms of the effect on the economy. This is not really the case.

4a. When oil prices rise from a low price to a high price, this generally means that production has been inadequate, with only the production that could be obtained at the prior lower price. The price must rise to a higher level in order to encourage additional production.

The reason that the cost of oil production tends to rise is because the cheapest-to-extract oil is removed first. Oil producers must thus keep adding production that is ever-more expensive for one reason or another: harder to reach location, more advanced technology, or needing additional steps that require additional human labor and more physical resources. Growing efficiencies can somewhat offset this trend, but the overall trend in the cost of oil production has been sharply upward since about 1999.

The rising price of oil has an adverse impact on affordability. The usual pattern is that after a rise in the price of oil, economies of oil importing nations go into recession. This happens because workers’ wages do not rise at the same time as oil prices. As a result, workers find that they cannot buy as many discretionary items and must cut back. These cutbacks in purchases create problems for businesses, because businesses generally have high fixed costs including mortgages and other debt payments. If these businesses are to continue to operate, they are forced to cut costs in one way or another. Cost reduction occurs in many ways, including reducing wages for workers, layoffs, automation, and outsourcing of manufacturing to cheaper locations.

For both employers and employees, the impact of these rapid changes often feels like a rug has been pulled out from under foot. It is very unpleasant and disconcerting.

4b. When prices fall, the situation that occurs is not the opposite of 4a. Employers find that thanks to lower oil prices, their costs are a little lower. Very often, they will try to keep some of these savings as higher profits. Governments may choose to raise tax rates on oil products when oil prices fall, because consumers will be less sensitive to such a change than otherwise would be the case. Businesses have no motivation to give up cost-saving techniques they have adopted, such as automation or outsourcing to a cheaper location.

Few businesses will construct new factories with the expectation that low oil prices will be available for a long time, because they realize that low prices are only temporary. They know that if oil prices don’t go back up in a fairly short period of time (months or a few years), the quantity of oil available is likely to drop precipitously. If sufficient oil is to be available in the future, oil prices will need to be high enough to cover the true cost of production. Thus, current low prices are at most a temporary benefit–something like the eye of a hurricane.

Since the impact of low prices is only temporary, businesses will want to adopt only changes that can take place quickly and can be easily reversed. A restaurant or bar might add more waiters and waitresses. A car sales business might add a few more salesmen because car sales might be better. A factory making cars might schedule more shifts of workers, so as to keep the number of cars produced very high. Airlines might add more flights, if they can do so without purchasing additional planes.

Because of these issues, the jobs that are added to the economy are likely to be mostly in the service sector. The shift toward outsourcing to lower-cost countries and automation can be expected to continue. Citizens will get some benefit from the lower oil prices, but not as much as if governments and businesses weren’t first in line to get their share of the savings. The benefit to citizens will be much less than if all of the people who were laid off in the last recession got their jobs back.

5. The sharp drop in oil prices in the last 18 months has little to do with the cost of production. 

Instead, recent oil prices represent an attempt by the market to find a balance between supply and demand. Since supply doesn’t come down quickly in response to lower prices, and demand doesn’t rise quickly in response to lower prices, prices can drop very low–far below the cost of production.

As noted in Section 4, high oil prices tend to be recessionary. The primary way of offsetting recessionary forces is by directly or indirectly adding debt at low interest rates. With this increased debt, more homes and factories can be built, and more cars can be purchased. The economy can be forced to act in a more “normal” manner because the low interest rates and the additional debt in some sense counteract the adverse impact of high oil prices.

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

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

Oil prices dropped very low in 2008, as a result of the recessionary influences that take place when oil prices are high. It was only with the benefit of considerable debt-based stimulation that oil prices were gradually pumped back up to the $100+ per barrel level. This stimulation included US deficit spending, Quantitative Easing (QE) starting in December 2008, and a considerable increase in debt by the Chinese.

Commodity prices tend to be very volatile because we use such large quantities of them and because storage is quite limited. Supply and demand have to balance almost exactly, or prices spike higher or lower. We are now back to an “out of balance” situation, similar to where we were in late 2008. Our options for fixing the situation are more limited this time. Interest rates are already very low, and governments generally feel that they have as much debt as they can safely handle.

6. One contributing factor to today’s low oil prices is a drop-off in the stimulus efforts of 2008.

As noted in Section 4, high oil prices tend to be recessionary. As noted in Section 5, this recessionary impact can, at least to some extent, be offset by stimulus in the form of increased debt and lower interest rates. Unfortunately, this stimulus has tended to have adverse consequences. It encouraged overbuilding of both homes and factories in China. It encouraged a speculative rise in asset prices. It encouraged investments in enterprises of questionable profitability, including many investments in oil from US shale formations.

In response to these problems, the amount of stimulus is being reduced. The US discontinued its QE program and cut back its deficit spending. It even began raising interest rates in December 2015. China is also cutting back on the quantity of new debt it is adding.

Unfortunately, without the high level of past stimulus, it is difficult for the world economy to grow rapidly enough to keep the prices of all commodities, including oil, high. This is a major contributing factor to current low prices.

7. The danger with very low oil prices is that we will lose the energy products upon which our economy depends.

There are a number of different ways that oil production can be lost if low oil prices continue for an extended period.

In oil exporting countries, there can be revolutions and political unrest leading to a loss of oil production.

In almost any country, there can be a sharp reduction in production because oil companies cannot obtain debt financing to pay for more services. In some cases, companies may go bankrupt, and the new owners may choose not to extract oil at low prices.

There can also be systemwide financial problems that indirectly lead to much lower oil production. For example, if banks cannot be depended upon for payroll services, or to guarantee payment for international shipments, such problems would affect all oil companies, not just ones in financial difficulty.

Oil is not unique in its problems. Coal and natural gas are also experiencing low prices. They could experience disruptions indirectly because of continued low prices.

8. The economy cannot get along without an adequate supply of oil and other fossil fuel products. 

We often read articles in the press that seem to suggest that the economy could get along without fossil fuels. For example, the impression is given that renewables are “just around the corner,” and their existence will eliminate the need for fossil fuels. Unfortunately, at this point in time, we are nowhere near being able to get along without fossil fuels.

Food is grown and transported using oil products. Roads are made and maintained using oil and other energy products. Oil is our single largest energy product.

Experience over a very long period shows a close tie between energy use and GDP growth (Figure 3). Nearly all technology is made using fossil fuel products, so even energy growth ascribed to technology improvements could be considered to be available to a significant extent because of fossil fuels.

Figure 3. World GDP growth compared to world energy consumption growth for selected time periods since 1820. World real GDP trends for 1975 to present are based on USDA real GDP data in 2010$ for 1975 and subsequent. (Estimated by author for 2015.) GDP estimates for prior to 1975 are based on Maddison project updates as of 2013. Growth in the use of energy products is based on a combination of data from Appendix A data from Vaclav Smil's Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 for 1965 and subsequent.

Figure 3. World GDP growth compared to world energy consumption growth for selected time periods since 1820. World real GDP trends from 1975 to present are based on USDA real GDP data in 2010$ for 1975 and subsequent. (Estimated by the author for 2015.) GDP estimates for prior to 1975 are based on Maddison project updates as of 2013. Growth in the use of energy products is based on a combination of data from Appendix A data from Vaclav Smil’s Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 for 1965 and subsequent.

While renewables are being added, they still represent only a tiny share of the world’s energy consumption.

Figure 4. World energy consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 4. World energy consumption by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Thus, we are nowhere near a point where the world economy could continue to function without an adequate supply of oil, coal and natural gas.

9. Many people believe that oil prices will bounce back up again, and everything will be fine. This seems unlikely. 

The growing cost of oil extraction that we have been encountering in the last 15 years represents one form of diminishing returns. Once the cost of making energy products becomes high, an economy is permanently handicapped. Prices higher than those maintained in the 2011-2014 period are really needed if extraction is to continue and grow. Unfortunately, such high prices tend to be recessionary. As a result, high prices tend to push demand down. When demand falls too low, prices tend to fall very low.

There are several ways to improve demand for commodities, and thus raise prices again. These include (a) increasing wages of non-elite workers (b) increasing the proportion of the population with jobs, and (c) increasing the amount of debt. None of these are moving in the “right” direction.

Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies points out that once diminishing returns set in, the response is more “complexity” to solve these problems. Government programs become more important, and taxes are often higher. Education of elite workers becomes more important. Businesses become larger. This increased complexity leads to more of the output of the economy being funneled to sectors of the economy other than the wages of non-elite workers. Because there are so many of these non-elite workers, their lack of buying power adversely affects demand for goods that use commodities, such as homes, cars, and motorcycles.1

Another force tending to hold down demand is a smaller proportion of the population in the labor force. There are many factors contributing to this: Young people are in school longer. The bulge of workers born after World War II is now reaching retirement age. Lagging wages make it increasingly difficult for young parents to afford childcare so that both can work.

As noted in Section 5, debt growth is no longer rising as rapidly as in the past. In fact, we are seeing the beginning of interest rate increases.

When we add to these problems the slowdown in growth in the Chinese economy and the new oil that Iran will be adding to the world oil supply, it is hard to see how the oil imbalance will be fixed in any reasonable time period. Instead, the imbalance seems likely to remain at a high level, or even get worse. With limited storage available, prices will tend to continue to fall.

10. The rapid run up in US oil production after 2008 has been a significant contributor to the mismatch between oil supply and demand that has taken place since mid-2014.  

Without US production, world oil production (broadly defined, including biofuels and natural gas liquids) is close to flat.

Figure 5. Total liquids oil production for the world as a whole and for the world excluding the US, based on EIA International Petroleum Monthly data.

Figure 5. Total liquids oil production for the world as a whole and for the world excluding the US, based on EIA International Petroleum Monthly data.

Viewed separately, US oil production has risen very rapidly. Total production rose by about six million barrels per day between 2008 and 2015.

Figure 6. US Liquids production, based on EIA data (International Petroleum Monthly, through June 2015; supplemented by December Monthly Energy Review for most recent data.

Figure 6. US Liquids production, based on EIA data (International Petroleum Monthly, through June 2015; supplemented by December Monthly Energy Review for most recent data).

US oil supply was able to rise very rapidly partly because QE led to the availability of debt at very low interest rates. In addition, investors found yields on debt so low that they purchased almost any equity investment that appeared to have a chance of long-term value. The combination of these factors, plus the belief that oil prices would always increase because extraction costs tend to rise over time, funneled large amounts of investment funds into the liquid fuels sector.

As a result, US oil production (broadly defined), increased rapidly, increasing nearly 1.0 million barrels per day in 2012, 1.2 million barrels per day in 2013, 1.7 million barrels per day in 2014. The final numbers are not in, but it looks like US oil production will still increase by another 700,000 barrels a day in 2015. The 700,000 extra barrels of oil added by the US in 2015 is likely greater than the amount added by either Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

World oil consumption does not increase rapidly when oil prices are high. World oil consumption increased by 871,000 barrels a day in 2012, 1,397,000 barrels a day in 2013, and 843,000 barrels a day in 2014, according to BP. Thus, in 2014, the US by itself added approximately twice as much oil production as the increase in world oil demand. This mismatch likely contributed to collapsing oil prices in 2014.

Given the apparent role of the US in creating the mismatch between oil supply and demand, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Saudi Arabia is unwilling to try to fix the problem.


Things aren’t working out the way we had hoped. We can’t seem to get oil supply and demand in balance. If prices are high, oil companies can extract a lot of oil, but consumers can’t afford the products that use it, such as homes and cars; if oil prices are low, oil companies try to continue to extract oil, but soon develop financial problems.

Complicating the problem is the economy’s continued need for stimulus in order to keep the prices of oil and other commodities high enough to encourage production. Stimulus seems to takes the form of ever-rising debt at ever-lower interest rates. Such a program isn’t sustainable, partly because it leads to mal-investment and partly because it leads to a debt bubble that is subject to collapse.

Stimulus seems to be needed because of today’s high extraction cost for oil. If the cost of extraction were still very low, this stimulus wouldn’t be needed because products made using oil would be more affordable.

Decision makers thought that peak oil could be fixed simply by producing more oil and more oil substitutes. It is becoming increasingly clear that the problem is more complicated than this. We need to find a way to make the whole system operate correctly. We need to produce exactly the correct amount of oil that buyers can afford. Prices need to be high enough for oil producers, but not too high for purchasers of goods using oil. The amount of debt should not spiral out of control. There doesn’t seem to be a way to produce the desired outcome, now that oil extraction costs are high.

Rigidities built into the oil price-supply system (as described in Sections 3 and 4) tend to hide problems, letting them grow bigger and bigger. This is why we could suddenly find ourselves with a major financial problem that few have anticipated.

Unfortunately, what we are facing now is a predicament, rather than a problem. There is quite likely no good solution. This is a worry.


[1] For example, more dividend and interest payments are paid, tending to benefit the financial industry and the elite classes. More of the output of the economy goes to workers in supervisory positions or having advanced education. Other workers–those with more “ordinary” responsibilities–find their wages falling behind the general rise in the cost of living. As a result, they find it increasingly difficult to buy cars, homes, motorcycles, and other goods that use commodities.

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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2,298 Responses to Why oil under $30 per barrel is a major problem

  1. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    That makes for an interesting read. Meanwhile, I’m wondering Gail, if there isn’t a new posting, maybe an earlier one should be reposted to initiate a new discussion.

  2. Ed says:

    Offshore Wind Turbine Maintenance Cost Fiasco: “100 Times More Expensive Than A New Turbine Itself”!

    By P Gosselin on 2. February 2016

    A press release by Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft reports how offshore North and Baltic Sea wind turbines need to be in operation for 25 years before they become profitable, but that they are prone to shortened lifespans due to rust from the harsh sea environment.

    – See more at: http://notrickszone.com/2016/02/02/offshore-offshore-wind-turbine-maintenance-costs-100-times-more-expensive-than-new-turbine-itself/#sthash.ADx2ejph.dpuf

    • Kenny Starfighter says:

      Off shore wind turbine infrastructure is so expensive, our managing director once told us that even if we gave the wind turbines away, with the grid and foundation cost, it would still be too expensive to be competitive with coal.

      • . . . our managing director once told us that even if we gave the wind turbines away, with the grid and foundation cost, it would still be too expensive to be competitive with coal.

        Interesting observation!

    • Great find! I know that offshore wind requires so many repairs that often repairmen must live pretty much on site.

  3. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Stefeun
    Thanks very much for the link.
    Following are a few notes from me. My comments are in CAPS.
    Don Stewart

    Although recognizing that process and form are both necessary for full description, it is worthwhile to explore the possibility that a useful explanation of processes can be sought primarily in terms of other processes. That is, instead of searching for agency among objects or states, Popper [30] has suggested that one look instead to other processes or combinations thereof.



    In this example, the action of process A has a propensity to augment a second process B. B in its turn tends to accelerate C in similar fashion, and C has the same effect upon A. Kauffman [33] discusses how, in any random assembly of a number of processes, the probability of encountering such autocatalytic configurations increases precipitously as the number of processes grows.


    In particular, autocatalysis is capable of exerting selection pressure upon its own ever-changing constituents. To see this, one considers that some small change occurs spontaneously in process B in Fig. 1. If that change makes B either more sensitive to A or a more effective catalyst of C, then the change will receive enhanced stimulus from A. Conversely, if the change in B makes it either less sensitive to the effects of A or a weaker catalyst of C, then that change will likely receive diminished support from A.


    Whenever resources are not limiting, autocatalysis is, by definition, growth-enhancing. Such enhancement can interact with selection to create a distinct centripetality or vortex of materials and resources being drawn into the autocatalytic cycle. To see this, one notes how any enhancement in the activity of B (Fig. 1) is likely to be coupled with an increase in the amounts of material and energy that flow to sustain B. That is, the nature of autocatalytic configuration is to reward and sup- port those changes that bring ever more resources into B. As the same circumstance pertains as well to all the other members of the feedback loop, the autocatalytic cycle becomes the center of a centripetal vortex that pulls as many resources as possible into its domain


    Although growth is the prevailing response to abundant resources, dynamics are somewhat different when external resources are saturated or diminishing. Under such circumstances, centripetality acts instead to reroute flows in a system away from nonparticipating exchanges into those links that engage in the autocatalytic configuration.


    With increasing order, open dissipative systems approach the limit of becoming closed equilibrium configurations.


    Now cognizant of the duality in nature, it no longer becomes necessary to view the production of entropy as a hell-bent rush into nothingness. Increasing entropy also displays a distinctly obverse behavior. Whenever a of a complex dissipative system plots between 1/e and 1, the conventional second law pull toward disorganization will prevail. By strict contrast, if the degree of order in a system falls between 0 and 1/e and it has access to additional energy and resources, increasing entropy will result in augmenting system organization. If the chosen data on ecosystems are sufficiently representative of other natural systems, then available energy and resources give preferential rise to irreversible systems that possess a propitious balance between order and disorganization. Moreover, that favored balance [according to eqn (9)] appears to endow systems with the greatest potential for evolutionary change.


    Figure 5 is impressive in the way it depicts how narrow is the range of complexity within which living systems thrive. It had earlier been thought that the development of an ecosystem would traverse a wide range of states, culminating in a climax community characterized by a relatively higher value of a [17]. Rather, it now appears that the various ‘successional’ stages of any ecosystem maintain a narrow overall balance of organization/disorganization. It is possible that such bunching is indicative of Kauffman’s [38] suggestion that all living systems are poised near criticality. Should a system acquire new structures that would drive it into the supercritical stage, those gains would soon be erased as the system suffers a series of ‘avalanches’ that drop it back to the near-critical range. Conversely, if a system should fall significantly below criticality, either autocatalytic responses would restore it to near criticality (healing) or it would collapse fully towards a = 0 (death.)

    Matutinović [40] indicates that market efficiency is predominantly achieved through autocatalysis, which drives both a and total activity to higher levels; by now it should be obvious that there is danger in too much of a good thing. Overdevelopment heightens the risks of avalanches that reset the system closer to its critical point.

    It should be made clear that no one is contending that efficiency is always undesirable. Rather, as the progression shown in Fig. 3 suggests, it should be sought within the context of declining demands upon the larger environment and diminished overall activity so as to assure what Odum and Odum [42] describe as a ‘prosperous way down’.



    To be sure, cosmology is replete with dissipation and chaos – the second law guarantees it! But the wider perspective on that same law reveals an evolving universe wherein new, enduring and meaningful forms can continue to emerge as the universe expands. The universal story thereby grows ever richeras time grades into timelessness and despair is moved over to make room for hope.

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    Thirteen years ago my life changed forever – Colin Powell

    Colin Powell, then US Secretary of State and the most credible person in George W. Bush’s cabinet, made the case for war in Iraq on February 5, 2003.

    As a young military intelligence officer at the time, watching from a makeshift army base in Kuwait not far from the Iraq border.

    Back then I was a true believer, trusting that the government was a force for good “making the world safe for democracy. . .”

    But that night it all changed.

    Powell told the world unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, an assertion that history has proven categorically wrong.

    But within the intelligence community, many people knew the appalling truth immediately.

    That night it became clear to me that the government was lying and that the whole case for war was being fabricated.

    It was crushing, like finding out everything I’d been told throughout my life was total bullshit.

    So for the first time, I broke out of the spell and began questioning. Everything.

    I started learning about the extraordinary political power of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about.

    That led me to the fraud of many previous wars going as far as the Mexican War in 1845, one deeply criticized by Abraham Lincoln himself.

    That led me to the Constitution, to which all military officers swear an oath to support and defend…

    … and it surely didn’t seem like supporting or defending the Constitution in waging an ill-conceived, illegal war.

    Needless to say I couldn’t talk to my professional colleagues. Everyone was so gung-ho, I felt like an outcast.

    When I returned home, things didn’t improve.

    While I was away the country had noticeably turned into a police state.

    Yet people seemed oblivious to the change, drinking in the propaganda like a spiked punch bowl.

    All the loud, bombastic nonsense and pledges of allegiance were merely illusions masking modern day serfdom.

    It was the summer of 2004, I remember hearing on TV that the Libertarian Party’s national convention was starting in Atlanta.

    I immediately hopped in the car hoping to find some sympathetic minds.

    And at the convention I did meet some wonderful, freedom-minded people.

    But the event was an unproductive circus, something like a cross between a high school pep rally and a Star Trek convention.

    People in costume ran up and down the aisles chanting for their favorite candidate and getting into impromptu debates about the Constitution and Ayn Rand.

    As nice and intelligent as everyone was, it felt like a giant freedom pity party.

    I didn’t just want to complain. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to do something about it. And solutions were sorely lacking.

    So I started educating myself more.

    I dove into the federal balance sheet. I learned about the petrodollar and the debt.

    That led me to the complete scam of central banking, fiat currency, and the fractional reserve system.

    I realized that the political and banking elite have given us more war, instability, and epic financial crises.

    They’ve turned Western civilization into a giant police state. And they’ve managed to brainwash the great masses so effectively that the people are crying out for more.

    And after this emotional, gut-wrenching awakening, I spent years traveling to more than 100 countries looking for freedom and opportunity.

    Eventually I learned that education, prudent planning, and global thinking can rebuild much of our stolen liberty.

    Yes, things are crazy.

    Freedom is in decline. Governments are bankrupt. Central banks are borderline insolvent.

    The financial system is in precarious condition barely held together by a patchwork of negative interest rates, currency manipulation, and misguided confidence.

    We award our most esteemed prizes for intellectual achievement to phony scientists who tell us to spend our way into prosperity and borrow our way out of debt.

    We give absolute power to control the money supply (and hence manipulate the price of nearly everything) to unelected bureaucrats who have a track record of failure.

    Yet we call ourselves ‘free’.

    It’s complete madness. And it gets crazier with each passing month.

    But history shows that in any episode of great turmoil, there are always winners and losers.

    I learned that by taking some basic, sensible steps, it’s possible to drastically eliminate my exposure to the risks and avoid being a loser.

    So no matter what happens or how crazy things get, I know I’ll be OK.

    For years I’ve called this my “Plan B”.

    I know I won’t be worse off for being able to grow my own organic food, holding some savings in a well-capitalized bank outside of my home government’s jurisdiction, or keeping some physical gold and cash.

    Having another passport gives me more freedom to live, work, and travel.

    Legally reducing my tax burden helps me vote my conscience with my dollars and put my money where my mouth is.

    I’ve learned that all of these steps make sense no matter what happens. Or doesn’t happen.

    But should the negative trend in freedom and global finance get worse, I know I’ll be OK.

    This confidence has allowed me to focus on all the incredible opportunities I’ve seen.

    Institutions that have existed for centuries are now being disrupted by digital technology.

    Banking as we know it, for example, is finished thanks to digital technology.

    The digital age is even changing the way we organize ourselves as a society.

    Geography no longer matters, and nearly everything is global.

    A billion people are rising into the middle class in Asia and Africa. Countries are emerging from war and isolation. Wealth and power are shifting.

    These extraordinary changes bring extraordinary opportunity.

    So as crazy as things are, I think this is an incredibly exciting time to be alive.

    I’m grateful to be active in a time that future scholars will likely regard as one of the most tumultuous and revolutionary in history.

    And I’m grateful for having started the philosophical journey that began thirteen years ago today.


    A couple of things….

    We give absolute power to control the money supply (and hence manipulate the price of nearly everything) to unelected bureaucrats who have a track record of failure.

    Yet we call ourselves ‘free’.

    Who controls the money supply? Of course – The Elders ….. and when you control that yes – you can control EVERYTHING.

    Money makes the world go around … the world go around….

    But I disagree with the rest of this — getting rid of the Elders would NOT set us free — before we had the elders we had monarchies (Protocols of Zion go into how the monarchies had to be shoved out of the way in great detail…)

    So if the Elders were unseated something and someone else would take their place – and I guarantee you Colin – it would not be ‘democracy’ because democracy is not possible — never has been never will be

    And Colin – don’t bite the hand the has fed you very well — you have done quite well under their rule — as have all of us

    And since there is no such thing as a kinder gentler world with the US or any other country spreading democracy (except in the official newspaper of Delusistan — the New York Times) — there is only dog eat dog — zero sum ….

    You may as well get behind your big ol mean dog and fight for some of the scraps that he tosses to the masses…..

  5. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    For those interested, here is Albert Bates’ review of the Maya Forest book…Don Stewart


    • “An average adult can, in hard labor, generate 0.6 kWh/day”

      That is an interesting claim. Using just your legs, an average person can generate 100 watts on a bicycle; a fit person (which is what the average person would be if they did hard labour all the time) 200 watts, and an athlete at peak condition 300 watts.

      A fit person doing hard labour would probably be closer to 2 kWH per day than 600 Wh. Meanwhile, “One barrel of oil has 5.7 million BTUs of energy, or 1700 kWh”

      If you only get 20% out as productive work, it is more like 340 kWH of useful energy. With these numbers, two barrels is equal to one hard working slave over the course of a year. Still a huge boon to those of us with the great fortune to be born during the HydroCarbon Golden Age, no doubt.

      It sounds like an interesting book, with its ideas of a different narrative for what happened to the Mayans.

  6. Vince the Prince says:

    Wanted to share this
    The US clothing billionaire Douglas Tompkins has died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile, aged 72.
    The North Face and Esprit co-founder died of hypothermia after the kayaks he and five others were in capsized in strong waves, authorities said.
    He was taken by helicopter to hospital in Coyhaique but had stopped breathing when he arrived, doctors said.
    Mr Tompkins bought up large tracts of land in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia to keep them pristine

    No matter how rich one is, the Mr. D., the great equalizer.


    Mr Tompkins later sold his stake in Esprit and retired to Chile to use his fortune for environmental causes, founding the Foundation for Deep Ecology with activist Jerry Mander in 1990. The foundation’s website says Mr Tompkins had come to see the consumer culture that his clothing companies had promoted as “another destructive manifestation of an industrial growth economy toxic to nature

    • Rodster says:

      “No matter how rich one is, the Mr. D., the great equalizer.”

      Quite true and it’s why I live a simple modest and worry free life. I’ve seen people who have saved, or wealthy get their possessions carted off when they die. Whether one is rich or poor, we all wind up in the same trash heap of life.

    • Yoshua says:

      We have some interesting science and technology today, but most of that 1 trillion barrels we have burned so far has gone to waste.

      • bandits101 says:

        Yes Yoshua, cannot but absolutely agree with that. Engineering I feel is at the core of our problems. To make life “easier” we have been engineering from the time pre-humans and humans developed opposable thumbs. Our big brains and cognitive abilities developed language and an ability to plan a future, albeit a self centred and short one.

        In the beginning we simply engineered our clothing, tools, weapons and habitation. An efficient use of fire ensued and with the discovery of FF’s, waste is everywhere. We engineer how we grow food, how we market it, store, prepare and even eat it. We engineer our health, medication, procreation and culture which determines beliefs. Complexity can mean a lot of things, but to me it’s simply (for better and mostly for worse) engineering, and that is the very core of what we do as humans.

        More engineering (or technology as most refer to it) is not the solution to our problems. Engineering in fact is our problem.

  7. Stefeun says:

    New post by François Roddier about dissipative structures and their information content.

    Dissipative structures are exporting entropy and thereby lowering their internal entropy, which can be interpreted as increasing their information content (information = negentropy). This information is temporary and there’s a constant flow of it in and out of the structure, so that the structure can continuously adapt to its changeing environment.

    From a study of an ecosystem, R.E. Ulanowicz has determined that there seems to be an optimal value for this information content, that would be 1/e (ca 0.37, or 37%).
    It means that in order to have optimal resilience, a dissipative structure should have 63% of free memory available for new information! (I’d have bet on opposite proportions).

    RE Ulanowicz’s paper: http://people.clas.ufl.edu/ulan/files/Harmony.pdf

    F. Roddier’s post in French: http://www.francois-roddier.fr/?p=370
    Auto-translated (not very good): https://translate.google.fr/translate?hl=fr?sl=fr&tl=en&u=http%3A//www.francois-roddier.fr/%3Fp%3D370

    • xabier says:


      Interesting thoughts from Roddier.

      If we view human societies and groups as dissipative structures, what would this conceptual approach have to say about these three main categories:

      1/ Hunter-Gatherers, 2/ Agriculturalists, and 3/ Nomads?

      I have been thinking for some time that the great error of many survivalists, permaculturalists, etc, is that they attach their efforts to the – in some ways – least resilient of forms: settled agriculture.

      The mobility of nomads and hunters allows maximum ability to respond to new information.

      Villages, castles, bunkers all suffer from the defect of immobility, can all be overwhelmed, raided, discovered, starved out, etc. They are very much an all the eggs in one basket solution.

      • Stefeun says:

        Right Xabier,
        your example is good, and I feel like it goes much further.
        In the abstract of his paper, Ulanowicz says this ratio reflects the balance between energy dissipation and order (aka information storage).
        I’ve not fully wrapped my mind around that yet…

        • Don Stewart says:

          Dear Stefeun and Xabier
          Two points. First, if we look at humans, they have a wide repertoire of actions they can take because of their own genes and even more that they can take because of the microbial genes they host. At any given time, only a subset of the genes are active, in response to the environment. In addition, there are epigenetic factors which mark the physical gene which alters its response to the environment.

          As a simple example of adaptation, look at Stanley Hazen’s demonstration that the genes of a meat eater respond differently to food than the genes of a vegetarian. In the case Hazen looked at, the change in response from vegetarian to meat- eater was not favorable, because it caused the production of TMAO. There was another ‘negative’ to the change, but I have forgotten exactly what it is.

          Second, as for permaculturists and survivalists in general being too wedded to agriculture. I think many of them see agriculture as a short term expedient to both be more resilient in the present environment and also get through the bottleneck. But if you listen to Toby Hemenway’s talk at Duke, he comes down on the side of ‘horticulture’…basically tending the wild. For example, the Native Americans thinned forests to encourage more nut trees which feed humans. Permaculturists are also enthusiastic about Mayan gardens:

          Thus, the goal of many permaculturists is ‘horticulture’ rather than ‘agriculture’. But the usually unsaid presumption is that there will simply be a lot less humans on the planet. Toby put the number of humans who can be supported by horticulture as somewhere between 500M and 2B.

          Don Stewart

          • Vince the Prince says:

            Fascinating topic…what population level can be supported by hunter/gathering groups?
            By the close of the hunting and gathering era (about 8000 BC), human societies possessed a far greater store of cultural information than they possessed 30,000 years before.� They had acquired more in those last 30,000 years than in all previous millions of years of hominid history (108).

            The rapid acceleration in the rate of change in the last 30,000 years of the hunting and gathering era cannot be explained by genetic change alone, since are species had already evolved by 100,000 BC.� The explosive growth in the rate of technological innovation appears to have resulted in critical advances in language.� The relatively modes genetic changes that were involved in the transition to Homo sapiens sapiens paved the way for the explosive growth of culture that occurred at the end of the Old Stone Age.� There was a critical threshold effect involved:� until a certain point was reached in biological evolution, the development of full-fledged symbol systems was impossible.� But once that point was reached, the development of language could proceed rapidly (109).

            The advances in technology at the end of this period coincided with, and probably caused, the growth in the size of the human population.� Although despite the rapid growth, the human population still numbered less than 10 million and the growth rate was less than 0.1% per year.� The reason for this was the inability of societies to provide adequately for their members and to protect them against disease and other dangers (109).

            Numbered less than 10 million! Seems to me if things completely fall apart we will witness a very window to jump threw.

        • Don Stewart says:

          Stefeun and Xabier and Vince the Prince

          If you look at the genes in microbes and the genes in humans, you see a progression from fluid to fixed. Microbes engage in promiscuous non-sexual lateral transfer of genes…not only with other microbes but also with protists, insects, plants, and animals. If I remember correctly, only about 30 percent of the genetic material in a microbe we label as an XYZ microbe is shared with all other XYZ microbes. If you meet another human anywhere on the planet, however, you will be well over 99 percent genetically identical. If you meet a chimp, you will be 97 percent genetically identical. So our first hypothesis might be that the ‘higher’ plants and animals have traded adaptability for stable structures.

          (When we say ‘higher’ we should keep in mind that the genetically promiscuous microbes have been around billions of years longer than us ‘higher’ creatures, and have done things we can’t do, such as give the world oxygen.)

          But it may be that humans, with their symbolic capabilities and their opposable thumbs and their partnerships with microbes and the fluid nature of their gene expression are equally or more adaptable. Why would Nature make a less adaptable species? So I have an open mind on that question.

          Don Stewart

          • Vince the Prince says:

            Don, In my link I also found this interesting

            Model of Limited Development
            The key element determining the structure of a society is the subsistence technology on which its members dependent.� Because of their dependence on hunting and gathering, most of these groups are destined to be nomadic and to have a low level of productivity and a limited store of other kinds of information (129)
            There characteristics lead to second order effects.� Nomadism and the low level of productivity combine to limit possibilities for the accumulation of possessions.� The low level of productivity and the limited store of other technological information, especially information relevant to transportation and communication, combine to keep hunting and gathering societies small.� The limited development of these technologies also limits contacts with other societies.� These characteristics combine with the small size of these societies to keep the rate of technological innovation low.� The limited store of information about natural phenomena also contributes to the development and animistic beliefs.� Finally, these second-order effects, individually and collectively, produce a series of third-order effects.� These include the low level of inequality that is characteristic of hunting and gathering societies, their limited division of labor, the kinship basis of social organization, and their ideological conservatism and the low rates of social and cultural change

            • Vince the Prince says:

              More to the point….”Change” in past primitive societies (should point out that primitive translates into simply “first” and does not necessarily mean inferior), was not embraced or encouraged. Only in our so called modern industrial culture has it been an icon of “good” and “better”.
              Author, Jerry Mander, wrote on this in his best seller, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations”.

              One read that many here should take in

            • Don Stewart says:

              Vince the Prince
              Toby Hemenway covers much of the same ground in his Duke lecture.

              If you just look at the cover of the Maya Forest book, you will see an incredible diversity of life. Toby Hemenway and Albert Bates, who have both spent time looking at these forests, remark that the early Europeans saw nothing but jungle. Toby relates that all he saw initially was jungle. The early settlers on the eastern seaboard of the US could not see evidence that the ‘dark woods’ were managed at all. It took careful tree counts by ecologists to determine that the distribution of species was anything but ‘normal’. The Native Americans took advantage of two facts: Nature makes a lot more copies than can possibly survive, and killing is easy but growing is hard. So the Natives simply girdled trees they wanted to select out in favor of trees which gave products more useful to humans. Albert Bates is, at his moment I think, doing a permaculture course on a Mayan forest in Belize.

              The book claims 5000 years for these forests. That implies multi-generational ethics, since the trees I husbanded will bear fruit for my children and grandchildren. Such a plan would sound absurd on Wall Street.

              Gene Logsden, the Contrary Farmer from Ohio, was recently in Iowa and was simply appalled by the vast expanses of genetically modified, exact same species of corn. If we apply the metrics that Stefeun’s sources recommend, the Mayan forest or the northeastern US Native American forests look pretty good. Corporate Iowa looks awfully fragile.

              Back to your points. Would you consider a Mayan Forest or a Northeastern US Native American forest to be used by hunters and gatherers? What they are doing is clearly a level of sophistication that the term ‘hunter and gatherer’ doesn’t usually call to our mind. And what about the Aborigines in Australia who literally sculpted a continent with fire, giving it highly productive characteristics that it would not have attained in the absence of their care.

              Toby Hemenway chooses the intermediate strategy that he calls Horticulture. That is, mostly about selecting from what Nature offers. He’s also willing to include some cyclical agriculture such as Milpa techniques in his broad definition of Horticulture.

              To support 7B to 15B people on the planet, then we have to resort to Agriculture. Toby’s lecture identifies all the downsides to Agriculture, and Gene Logsden recoils at its Corporate manifestations. My own very tentative opinion is that most of us today need to garden, because of the precariousness of the brittle food system we have in place. But, like the Mayans, we need to be putting into the soil the plants which will provide for our children and grandchildren. And before all that, we need to partner with the microbes.

              Don Stewart

            • “Back to your points. Would you consider a Mayan Forest or a Northeastern US Native American forest to be used by hunters and gatherers?”

              The Mayans, from at least 2000 years ago, were not living sustainably, with ever-increasing population and urban sprawl, and extensive use of cement. From what I recall, I think there was supposedly something like 1 million people in the area that is now Belize at their peak, around 900 AD. That’s about triple the current population. They were already undergoing severe depopulation and deurbanization before Cortez arrived and brought diseases that killed off up to 90 percent of the human populations in the Americas.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Matthew Krajcik
              I have not read the book on Mayan forests. But it is quite possible that both a rural forest based system existed alongside an unsustainable urban system. At any rate, you can visit these forest based systems today…just sign up for Albert’s session in Belize. There are somewhat similar systems which have been ‘reinvented’ in Mexico and other places after they were eradicated.

              Don Stewart

            • Vince the Prince says:

              Good points you make in your latest post. However, in Jerry Mander’s book he illustrates the hold of the communication network by those that are antithesis to horticultural society you suggest.
              “The author uses a variety of examples to show how the public has been deliberately manipulated and misled by a variety of boosters and cheerleaders for technological innovation, ranging from corporations, the media, academics, and even the government. This, he contends, has led to the emergence of several particularly dangerous predominant technologies such as television, genetic and molecular engineering, and computers. What is surprising is the amount of evidence Mander produces showing clearly adverse aspects of each technology, evidence which heretofore has been deliberately omitted from public scrutiny by the aggregated sponsors and cheerleaders of the technology, who obviously have a vested interest in stacking the deck in favor of their particular interest. While he sometimes strains the reader’s patience with arguments that use of a technology such as computers benefits the rise of corporate globalism more than it does individuals, Mander still manages to prove why we must be more aware of the meaning of these technologies in terms of our own self-interest, and in the interest of the community at large.”
              From the Amazon reviews

            • Don Stewart says:

              Vince the Prince
              I read my first Jerry Mander book a very long time ago. I was in Kansas City for a business meeting the following day, had some time, and walked into a bookstore. They had a copy of Four Arguments for the Total Elimination of Television on a display table. I picked it up, flipped through it, and bought. Back to the hotel and devoured it late into the night.

              Mander has a polemical style, which will offend some people. I find it refreshing. If you disagree with him, how can you explain why he is wrong and you are right?

              Dmitry Orlov’s categorization of Facebook as ‘animal husbandry’ is similar to the way Mander thinks. The technology of Facebook leads to ‘herding’ humans in predictable ways. To Mander, the existence of television implies inability to focus and think critically, and to mindlessly grab for whatever is the easiest way to get the hormones stirring.

              My opinion is that most people will continue to fall into the traps that Orlov and Mander identify. That leads me away from the notion that anything I can do is going to ‘save’ very many people from what I see as a looming disaster. I am more concerned about doing what I can in my immediate sphere.

              Thanks for the reference. I haven’t read his new book….Don Stewart

              Don Stewart

          • Stefeun says:

            to your question “Why would Nature make a less adaptable species?”, I’d tend to answer: follow the energy dissipation rate.

            We know that growing complexity goes along with increased energy dissipation rate, but a high level of complexity also makes the structure more brittle and less adaptable to changes in its environment.

            So I’d say that substantial increases of complexity are allowed only when the environment is stable enough and is not (or doesn’t seem, in early times) altered by the additional entropy it has to absorb. Complexification goes its way until it is stopped by changed conditions.
            What makes it less simple is that it’s not one straight way, there are multiple subsystems that can behave and interact in different ways. Ulanowicz calls them harmonies.

            • Don Stewart says:

              As I have said before, I have trouble giving a sharp definition of ‘complexity’. The Iowa corn fields that appall Gene Logsden are stripped down, very simple biological entities, embedded in a complex society. Are they simple, or complex? Right now I happen to be reading The Shock of the Anthropocene by Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (two Italians from New York City, :-}. I haven’t finished the book. But one of the things I notice is the destruction of complexity by human actions. Much of human activity has been directed against microbes, which account for half of the weight of biological creatures on Earth. The Iowa cornfield can be seen as the ultimate war on microbes. Since microbes are responsible for the birth of complex creatures on Earth, this probably seems like a stupid thing to do. So…are we making the world more complex or denuding it?

              Microbes, because of their vast genetic repertoire, can extract energy from ANY element, including radioactive elements which would almost instantly kill humans. Humans are doing their best to make all life entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Are we making the world more complex, or less complex?

              Don Stewart

            • Stefeun says:

              we already had this discussion not long ago (https://ourfiniteworld.com/2015/12/21/we-are-at-peak-oil-now-we-need-very-low-cost-energy-to-fix-it/comment-page-17/#comment-76756 and following).

              I tried to address complexity in the meaning of Tainter, ie applied to civilizations, ie to man-made artificial constructions. Roughly, the number of components included in the structure.
              We humans are building larger and larger constructions, which doesn’t mean that what is outside our constructions (ie the natural world) hasn’t its own complexity.

              However, I think that the complexity we can find in Nature requires a much more subtle definition. First, it’s hard to consider a structure/entity in itself, as it exists mostly by its interactions with peers and its environment, and secondly, you have this “depth” dimension (which is not considered in Tainter’s complexity). By depth, I mean one can dig always further into a given topic, and discover new levels of organisation that can be interpreted as complexity.

              It remains an open question. Maybe complexity isn’t the proper term, or it has to be limited for specific use. A matter of fact is that our man-made organization is growing in size and encompassing much more than it should. We don’t seem to realize that it has a tremendous impact on our -finite- environment. We’ll soon get a reminder from those changed conditions.

            • Don Stewart says:

              At my age, when I sometimes can’t remember by ZIP code, it is easy to be complex…just keep changing your mind.

              I have begun to think that ‘complexity’ is best thought of as systems which have numerous feedback loops, both positive and negative. Nature usually has numerous feedback loops.

              A system like capitalism does have some positive feedback loops, most notably money. The monetary rewards flow to some very specific kinds of activity. But negative loops aren’t nearly as common. A Goldman Sachs banker can literally destroy the world and never experience a negative feedback loop. I have not read Tainter….he always seems to be on my list of things I should read. But from what I have heard, he would consider a capitalist system with positive feedback loops to be complex. But I would consider it to be dangerously destructive in its drive toward simplification of everything.

              For example, the Australian soil scientist Christine Jones talks of a wheat farm in Australia with a BRIX score of 35, compared to neighbors in the 3 or 4 range. That means her example is metabolizing at a rate of 10 times the neighboring farms. I would consider that as evidence of complexity. But I think Tainter would describe the neighboring farms with the impoverished metabolic rate as ‘more complex’ because they involve a lot more industrial stuff.

              The high BRIX farm has an incredibly complex ‘life in the soil’ system that the industrial farms simply don’t have.

              I think that, if I understand what Tainter is saying, he is misleading. It would be better to look at a pyramid of life as resting on microbes which have an extraordinarily complex world, with the soil food web which is itself complex intimately associated with the microbes, and then the relatively simple plant and animal structures above that, and then the ‘really pretty simple’ industrial society as a top-heavy and dangerous addition to the top of the pyramid. The collapse of the industrial society will occur when it has become so estranged from biological reality and so extensive in its reach that everything breaks down.

              Don Stewart

            • Stefeun says:

              I agree, Don,
              it relates to the different levels of organization I was talking about.
              Our industrial society is indeed pretty simple as it considers one level only.
              Moreover, it also considers only one part of the cycle, as there’s no recycling ; we extract, transform, use and then just throw away. The “Midas touch”, as Xabier coined it some months ago.

      • “I have been thinking for some time that the great error of many survivalists, permaculturalists, etc, is that they attach their efforts to the – in some ways – least resilient of forms: settled agriculture.”

        Good luck finding enough to hunt / forage / fish, or good luck tending your flerd, when there are starving, armed masses wondering about. These may be great strategies >3 years post collapse, but I have severe doubts about them prior. Unless you can be like the Mongols, and have several thousand armed people being nomadic flerdsmen together.

        Ocean nomad might be the best bet, but even then seems quite risky. Or maybe foraging in Siberia, or Patagonia.

      • pintada says:

        Dear xabier;

        “… they attach their efforts to the – in some ways – least resilient of forms: settled agriculture. … Villages, castles, bunkers all suffer from the defect of immobility, can all be overwhelmed, raided, discovered, starved out, etc. They are very much an all the eggs in one basket solution.”

        For a nomad, which really is just a romanticized synonym for refugee, to survive she must find food and other resources in what will no doubt be a scorched landscape. The refugee is 100% dependent on the kindness and wealth of the people he meets.

        Post BAU, the hunter will be nothing more than a refugee because the game will all be very quickly killed off. For example, there are 107,000 elk in Idaho and about 1.6 million people. Each elk shared with 10 people does not sound like the people will live very long. That example ignores the fact that to reach those elk, one would need to drive a 4-wheeled vehicle and there will be no gas. Colorado 5.4 million people, 280,000 elk.

        I agree with your characterization of the farmer as having put all his eggs in one basket. The key to his success will be: 1. Luck; and 2. Watching that basket!


        • Christian says:

          Dear Pintada

          Nomad is far away of being a synonym of refugee. Nomad: the contrary of sedentary. Refugee: who escaped his own land. So, a refugee can be sedentary in his new habitat (as in the former) and a nomad can even dominate other people (see the Mongol empire).

          As far I can see, nomadic shepherding has a bright future in the plains actually being farmed, because grass will be the obvious resource. After Europeans brought cattle to the Pampas the natives got somewhat the way of life the Mongols did, and this can easily return. Of course, forget the “millions of people” story.


        • Fast Eddy says:

          Growing food is likely to be futile since it will be stolen.

          A better option … stockpile as much food as you can (at least one year’s worth) — along with a lot of guns and ammo ….. then hunker down, read books… drink a bit of whiskey now and then …. and hope for a miracle….

  8. Vince the Prince says:

    Operators predict likely crisis over reserves depletion

    Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/operators-predict-likely-crisis-over-reserves-depletion/
    Nigeria’s leading energy service companies, urged Nigeria to follow the steps of its peers in the Middle East and North Africa, where drilling rig counts and cost of industry services have sharply risen since the fall in oil prices. He argued that Nigeria’s long-term economic aspirations are at stake under current industry impasse where exploration investments have fallen, dragging down field activities and compelled redundancy and massive lay-offs across the industry
    ……He pointed at falling oil production from the traditional onshore and shallow water terrains from 2.4 million bpd to current 1.2 million bpd, adding that production from the deep water, which should have increased the nation’s production only stabilised at 2.4 mbd. Against this backdrop, he raised an alarm of imminent gas crisis, saying that rising domestic gas demand means that the existing reserves cannot support medium term demand projections
    …..“The projected domestic gas demand is about four times more than what the country’s current estimated gas reserves can supPetroleum industry operators have called on President Muhammdu Buhari, to urgently stimulate exploration and production activities in the country

  9. Vince the Prince says:

    Back to Oil…..
    Is Non-OPEC Oil Production Beginning A Serious Decline?
    Non-OPEC C+C peaked in December 2014 at 47,207,000 bpd and dropped 763,000 bpd to 46,444,000 bpd by October 2015. The above chart, I believe, clearly shows that Non-OPEC production is in a downward trend. There is little doubt that this trend will continue for the next year or so. The question is how far will it drop before an increase in prices brings back enough upstream investment to turn production back around? And how long will that take?
    I am of the firm opinion that the vast majority of oil production prognosticators are under estimating the effect of natural depletion of existing fields. Even countries that are increasing production, or are on a production plateau, like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the UAE, Iran, Russia and others, all have serious depletion problems. Failing to account for this decline when you make your prediction will likely cause a serious error.

    Gail Tverberg’s blog, Our Finite World, published the following chart last week. But the chart was originally created in 2014 by Alliance Bernstein and may not reflect today’s cost as some costs have dropped in the last year. The term “breakeven cost” refers to the cost to produce a barrel of oil and has nothing to do with a country’s budget.

  10. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    David Kennedy wrote a couple of books about leafy greens. Besides eating freshly harvested leaves, Kennedy describes a couple of methods of preserving the green leaves. Kennedy has worked extensively in some of the poorer parts of the world, and in the tropics where freshly harvested stuff doesn’t last very long without refrigeration.

    Take a look at this photograph by Eric Toensmeier:

    It clearly is more work for a household to preserve the essence of green leaves with these methods, but it can be done, and frequently makes sense for people who are not able to earn much money because of their circumstances. Those who are concerned about being able to survive without refrigeration should check out Kennedy’s books. They cover a lot of ground for both the temperate zone and the tropics.

    Don Stewart

  11. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    I recommend listening to Dmitry Orlov interview here, a little under an hour:

    He covers many topics, in his usual style. The back and forth of the interview is excellent, Including some astonishment on the part of the interviewers, as in his explanation of how Facebook is like animal husbandry.

    I have complained on occasion about how internet conversations usually don’t actually go anywhere. Nothing happens. Dmitry says that the only thing that builds a well-functioning group is a challenge which requires work. If everyone has to work together, then there are serious exchanges of information and ideas and people are motivated to do the work that needs to be done.

    I would classify this interview as a sort of ‘work getting done’ interview. All the parties perceive the same problems, and the same imperatives. Namely, the first 3 of Dmitry’s Stages of Collapse are baked into the cake, and our challenge is to hang on to the remaining 2 stages. With that sort of understanding by all 3 people, conversation can happen. Dmitry says ‘it has to be in person’, but I would submit this interview as a caution that…sometimes…electronically mediated conversation may happen. Dmitry’s opinions on the topic of electronically mediated attempts at conversation are closely related to those of Sherry Turkle (Reclaiming Conversation).

    Much too much to hint at here…Don Stewart

  12. Rodster says:

    As Gail has been saying as recently as her latest post that falling oil prices have a direct blowback to any eCONomy and Govt funding. This article from Zero Hedge goes to show the impact of low oil prices will do to economies and Govt’s who depend on oil funding.

    North Dakota’s Economy Has Been “Completely Devastated” By Oil’s Collapse

    • richard says:

      “North Dakota’s Economy” – there is a danger in looking at the specific and applying it to the general. This is just a symptom – the problem is that the bank bailouts were supposed to be a temporary measure until the economies got back on their collective feet. They’ve just rolled the snowball a bit further up the hill and it’s now about twice as big.
      It’s not all bad – my guess is that US wages would be 10% lower and unemployment higher without the bailouts. Be careful what you wish for.

  13. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Some thoughtful information from the wonderful Marjorie Wildcraft as she visits the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico.


    Notice some of the modern tools:
    Grinder, pots and pans
    5 gallon buckets
    Clothing, most likely not homemade
    Stove, likely not homemade

    Marjorie is up to date on her pellagra history in the US, and so is curious about the nixtamalization process that the natives knew very well, but which escaped the white and black settlers in the US. Note this excerpt:

    ‘The key part of the nixtamalization process is boiling the corn in a lye solution. The lye can be made from the ashes of hardwood trees, as is often done in the southeastern part of United States. Or, as in Mexico and the southwestern US, (where hardwood trees are not as easy to come by) a lye solution is made using lime.
    I asked Lola where she got her lime, and she showed me a big bag of it she bought in town. Not that long ago, they used to dig special rocks and then bake them in the ground to make their lime. I really wanted to film that process too, but it took a while and we didn’t think we would be able to fit it into this trip. If I ever go back that’s one thing I definitely want to record. ‘

    I recently saw a picture of one of the last big hunter-gatherer bands in Africa. They were wearing T shirts with corporate logos. One of the very first industries to be mechanized was the making of cloth and clothing. Homemade clothing was still found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the mid-1930s when the Blue Ridge Parkway was built. But if you look at the dark log cabin where the woman of the house sat at her homemade loom, you wonder about what it did to eyesight. If you are in Atlanta, you can visit the remains of a very large water powered textile mill which was a target in the Civil War. So the hundred and fifty miles from Atlanta to the Blue Ridge was several light years of culture. If industrial methods completely disappear, then clothing is likely to become optional.

    The Tarahumara women are making a very energy efficient choice to use industrial lime from the nearest town rather than make lime by baking rocks. On the other hand, using ashes survived in the Southeastern US until at least WWII, because so many people had wood fires for a variety of reasons. My grandmother made lye soap into the 1950s.

    If one imagines trying to live in 2016 without any taint of industrial products, one quickly finds it is impossible. Take clothing, for example. I imagine that the Tarahumara were somewhat like the Plains Indians, and going nearly naked was nothing remarkable. But when industrial clothing becomes available, then more prudish styles become part of the culture. And so Marjorie is chastised for overly stimulating the men on her trip. But if no clothing can be had, we can expect a reversion to near nakedness as the norm.

    It is hard to think about all the items one currently uses, and deciding which ones are absolutely essential. I think that the best bet is to simplify as much as one can, while also living in the social sphere one actually inhabits, and also learn ‘primitive skills’, such as nixtamalization. That seems to be Marjorie’s plan, also.

    Don Stewart

    • Don Stewart says:

      Also, please note that the metal grinder replaced the two rocks that Toby Hemenway talked about at Duke. The two rocks method gave you bad teeth from the grit and gave the women who used the method degenerative diseases from the repetitive motion in an uncomfortable position.

      On the bright side, if you aspire to elicit scandalous urges in the men when you are close to sixty and are visiting an Indian village, you can Grow Your Own Veggies for a sleek physique and also use that grinder to strengthen your strong right arm to fend off unwanted advances.

      Don Stewart

    • Christian says:

      The only things we need are water to drink, food to eat and people to meet

      All the rest is optional. Fueguians wondered around half naked; some poeple (as the Argenbrits who exterminated them) see it as a sign of lazyness, but I’ve always thought it was a sign of health. I’d surely miss my glasses post bau, though

      You explicitly gave me the idea of walnuts, Don. As I always say, you’re the best. Thank you

  14. Christian says:

    I don’t want to insist too much on the issue, but reg. nukes this is the perfect metaphor (and not only related to them, and possibly not just a methaphor) : CARRINGTON EVENT


    Another description:


    There is a demand of specific regulation about this in the US (look at the date)


    And some follow-up


    These people fully get it, wonder what’s going on at the present moment

    Btw, only seen references to cladding fires when poeple are talking about geomagnetic solar storms induced station black outs, not criticality

    • “Btw, only seen references to cladding fires when poeple are talking about geomagnetic solar storms induced station black outs, not criticality”

      If you take the time to read the scientific papers linked previously, the cladding fires start around 1000 celsius. If the temperatures get up to around 1800 celsius, all the fuel can melt into a slag pile at the bottom of the dried out pond, enabling criticality.

      • Christian says:

        Yes, that’s what I thought, but the truth is this week I have been very busy and have no time to read everything (:-)

  15. Jeremy says:

    “At this stage in our journey, surely the quality of the content is more important than the number of comments.”

    “Which would you rather have? A million anonymous FB likes for your latest cat picture? Or a small group of friends that you have great conversations with?”

    The high number of comments reflects the growing popularity of the blog. Popularity is not everything, but you could say that, the more people who read the blog, the more important it is – in a way that blogs that get only 9 comments per post are not. And this is a serious, somewhat offbeat blog, so its popularity in these times is to be welcomed. By contrast, a site showing cat pictures is not so serious (though I don’t wish to denigrate cats and their charms).

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The thing is…

      The comment quality is improving ….

    • Rick Grimes says:

      Some very “important” blogs don’t have comments enabled at all. It’s the number of readers that matters. That’s how you measure popularity. A very small percentage of readers ever take the time to comment.

  16. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Here is another, very topical, reason why understanding the difference between money and debt as the basic problem, or alternatively finding that the net energy margins for oil have turned negative, is worthy of consideration.

    Richard Heinberg sees low oil prices as an opportune time to put a tax on carbon. Obama apparent agrees, and has proposed a tax. If it’s only about money, we are taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other (tax the carbon and build infrastructure). But if the net energy margin on oil is now negative, a tax will push oil into the catastrophically negative territory. Are we really sure we want almost all of the oil to disappear tomorrow? What would we build the infrastructure with?

    For your consideration…Don Stewart

    • wratfink says:

      Hello, Don

      It may be better to tax finished products than to tax crude barrels. Taxing crude now will kill any positive cash flow the producers have left.

      That said, I hate ALL taxes.


    • “if the net energy margin on oil is now negative”

      That is a pretty big if. I mean, what is the energy return on the marginal barrel of oil in Iran?

      Saudi Arabia is just starting its offshore oil platform, which could be bigger and have better returns than the North Sea oil did when first exploited.

      Sure, shale and tar sand oil in North America is not so great a source. What about oil production in the Pratley’s?

      “a tax will push oil into the catastrophically negative territory. Are we really sure we want almost all of the oil to disappear tomorrow?”

      Will all of the oil disappear, or just a couple million per day? How many barrels per day could the world afford at $100?

      • Don Stewart says:

        Matthew Krajcik
        I was referring to BW Hill’s model, showing that the cost of producing more petroleum is increasing rapidly while the ability of the public to pay is declining. The two lines crossed in 2012, and now the ability of the public to pay sets the price. The maximum price the public can pay in 2016 is 66 dollars a barrel, and it declines pretty rapidly to about 20 dollars in 2020. You can take the graphs that Hill refers to on faith, get into the details of his model, or reject them as ridiculous…as you see fit.

        My point is simply that IF you believe Hill’s study, more taxes on oil at this point will make a situation which is desperate for the oil companies even worse. So it’s important to know if oil is the main underlying problem.

        Don Stewart

        • ;oiy says:

          Domt bother replying to the troll. He questions everthing- most that he knows nothing about- and contributes nothing. This is how trolls are, They see their purpouse as to waste other peoples time with BS,

          • “Domt bother replying to the troll.”

            This, from the person with a random series of characters as their username, which changes everytime they post – indicating they are a bot, a troll, or too incompetent to manage a login.

            • TrollAlert! says:

              Behavior is what matters. My observation is that you are clearly here to argue and you add little to no useful or original content. I define that as a troll. You are polite and that masks the fact that you are a huge waste of energy. People can decide for themselves if indeed your behavior warrants the title of troll. I will be warning people from here on out about you so they can avoid wasting their energy. If they choose to waste time with you that is their choice.

  17. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    No experience at gardening? No land for gardening? Want to get your feet wet, anticipating a collapse?

    Look for an opportunity like this one….Don Stewart

    Subject: Gardening Geezer needing sporadic help
    I’ve been growing vegetables in my half acre garden for several decades. As I get ready for another season I’m realizing that my physical limitations are increasing. I live by University Lake in Carrboro and was hoping to hire someone close by, for $10/hr plus several pounds of produce when in season. I also have a blueberry patch and about 15 Asian pear trees.

    I’m starting to prune trees and blueberries. I plant my first seeds at the end of February and expect things to rev up when planting those first tomato plants mid April. If you’re interested lemmeno. Muscles, a sense of humor, and enthusiasm helps.

  18. interguru says:

    Much more practical, and affordable and doable than a hyperloop is upgrading freight railroads to get trucks off the road. Most US east-west truck traffic goes on railroads. Putting the trailers on flatbed rail cars (multimodal ) is more efficient, both environmentally and economically, and reduces traffic congestion and wear-and-tear on the highways.

    This is not done on the US East Coast because there are some choke points where the clearance is too low to allow multimodal. One example is the 19th century Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore Maryland. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/aging-baltimore-tunnel-a-threat-to-shipping-economy-for-the-city-and-maryland/2012/03/28/gIQAjYCVhS_story.html) Very expensive to upgrade but a hell of a lot less than a hyperloop.

    For the ultra technical here is a report on the whole East Coast railroad corridor.

    I do not know if other rail corridors have choke points?

  19. Kanghi says:

    People wrote about Zika- virus. Ecologist writer Oliver Tickell is speculating about the possible connection of the new capabilities of virus could be connected to relase of GMO mosquites to cull the mosquito populations in Latin America. I lack the scientifical knowledge on the issue to evaluate it and it is speculation, but as a gut feeling it would explain why after 60 years we know the virus it is now so virulent on humans and in South America and not in Africa where it originated. Would not be the first time GMO has gone wrong.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Let’s presume for a moment that the Bill Gates funded effort to reduce mosquito populations to in turn reduce the incidence of malaria, by way of releasing millions of GMO male mosquitos in South America intended to interfere i.e. eliminate complete reproduction via pupae (that was later nullified by a component present that was not suppose to be present in the wild, but was due to people feeding livestock antibiotics), instead caused BREEDING between a GMO male mosquitos and a naturally existing female mosquitos occurred. That being the case, after this insect species that has evolved for over 210 million years into 3,000 species; being one of the most successful long lived insect species on the planet, HUMANKIND introduced into the wild a NEW species of mosquito, i.e. it’s GENOME has been tweaked into a completely different expression. One that now carries a virus, Zika, that causes malformations in the development of the HUMAN FETUS. In particular the brain size is greatly reduced. It was not the first time Zika had been transmitted by a mosquito to a human, but those outbreaks were rare and very small. Now, whatever this new expression is greatly supports the transmission of Zika Virus. It can be transmitted by mosquitos, via human infected with Zika to another human via sex or through blood transfusions (like HIV).

      Why have I capitalized certain words? Because this species has not changed it’s own genome in the last 46 million years (of the 210 million it has been evolving) until WE did, and now WE are suffering the consequences of ditzing around with the coding for a flying species with a syringe that takes blood from humans for reproduction, but in so doing deposits the virus in the person being stung. Male mosquitos only live two days. The females can live as long as two months. Only the females draw blood, and they do so using a local anastetic that numbs the area of skin being penetrated (to avoid detection). They can produce up to 500 offspring per pregnancy, and achieve up to 3 pregnancy’s in it’s life. That’s up to 1500 mosquitos per female.

      Zika virus came from monkey’s like the Rhesus Monkey a sample was first taken from in 1947. Other viruses from monkeys/chimps that infect people include HIV/Aids and Ebola. The genie’s out of the bottle. Now what ensues is a battle between a slowly reproducing apex species with a neo-cortex 3rd brain layer and a very fast reproducing instinct only insect species. Let the winner reign supreme.

  20. Jeremy says:

    Over two thousand comments after around 14 days for Our Finite World. Has any other OFW post had 2000 or more comments, Mr OFW Archivist?

    • Actually, Fast Eddy’s responsible for 450+ comments out of the 2,000! That’s insane

      • MJX says:

        Better stated Fast Eddie is insane

        • Rick Grimes says:

          When I first came across Fast Eddie’s comment stream, I thought it to be a little on the wild side – always pushing the most extreme version of unfolding events…

          I was actually really disturbed by what he was saying.

          But something about the material rang true. I had enough collapse scenario baggage in my mind to know what these potential situations look like, but lacked the knowledge about potential triggers. That’s where Gail came in.

          Now I see his comments as the closest anyone can objectively get to a rational reponse to those aforementioned unfolding events – a logical extrapolation of worst case scenarios at the macro level with a mixed bag of localised descriptive visualisation outlining what real life conditions will be like for at least some, if not all, people post BAU.

          It’s the closest anyone can get to depicting an apocalyptic future, drawing on all the available indicators, and getting as close to 100% certainty as possible… without going… insane.

          Now THAT requires some skill… and a healthy dose of bravery.

          • Van Kent says:


          • Fast Eddy says:

            Rick – I think a lot of this comes down to normalcy bias… I’ve had some knee deep experiences in some very not normal places including being in Jakarta during the 98 crisis …. in the middle of the Cairo riots where I saw what desperation looks like… Bahrain riots… slums in the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Ethiopia…. Haiti just after the big quake etc…

            When one sees those sorts of things it becomes far easier to imagine what is coming post BAU — it’s all of those places combined but 10000000 x worse…. all those places still had electricity and petrol…..

        • Jeremy says:

          “Better stated Fast Eddie is insane”

          Whatever you think of Fast Eddy’s views, you would do well to leave out the insults: “White Cheeks”, etc. Don’t forget your “netiquette”. 🙂

        • “Better stated Fast Eddie is insane”

          I used to find Fast Eddy to be pretty abrasive, but I’m starting to think he has the patient of a saint. You see, each time Gail posts a new article, it gets mirrored on other blogs. Someone reads the article, their interest is piqued, and they come here. Then they post a “solution” or make a wild claim that has already been refuted several times before.

          A lot of Fast Eddy’s posts are copy-paste, because the answer is the same as every other time, it is just a different person being replied to.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Are you suggesting I should become a salaried employee of FW….

    • Rick Grimes says:

      Yup. Mostly news updates by a few prolific providers of that service 😉

      A very useful one since it adds a high level filter to which the equally high level analysis is then applied.

      At this stage in our journey, surely the quality of the content is more important than the number of comments.

      Which would you rather have? A million anonymous FB likes for your latest cat picture? Or a small group of friends that you have great conversations with?

    • Jeremy says:

      “Ask Fast Eddy”

      And who do you think I meant by “Mr OFW Archivist” ? 🙂

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    But now that the world price of oil has fallen well below the prices fixed in Argentina, the situation has completely reversed. In the name of saving jobs, Argentina is now paying to extract oil for export, which amounts to basically shoving cash in the hands of foreign consumers.


    • Rick Grimes says:

      So… will we be paid to put oil in our cars?

      I mean, I’m going to be paid to take out a loan, am I not?

      Or is it time for me to take my Abilify, and shut up?

    • Christian says:

      Thank you. I see we are the laughingstock of energy world. I’ve always told Vaca Muerta was a fake proposal, now people see I was right.

      It’s a good article, while it fails on two points:

      1- It exagerates somewhat electricity subsidy cuts and related bills spikes, which go up to 500% in Buenos Aires region but are lesser away (200% where I live). What Kirchners did was utterly stupid, given they oversubsidized Buenos Aires (not only reg. electricity), which never voted for them anyway, and chastised other places. Generally speaking, the article fails to see we were overall paying cheap bills upon world or South American standards.

      2- There is something more subtle, not easy to talk about. The article fails to see the new subsidy is a conquest of Chubut oil workers pressure. At first, the minister said he wasn’t to set any measure and would let production disappear if not profitable, but oil workers shouted loudly and got the subsides for the enterprises. There is something else about this. Biggest gas field is located there, in Escalante, Chubut province. It is called Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill). Its workers are therefore known as “the dragons”. In 2012, dragons went on strike demanding wages rising, shuted off production and cut some roads. This lasted a week or so, and in case the strike would have lasted another week the country would have unglily run out of mehane. The gov sent gendarmes to put some order (gendarmes are a semi-militarized national police force, something like US National Guard). In the end, the conflict was resolved with a wages rise, but when gendarmes were returning to Buenos Aires a bus transporting 50 of them suffered an “accident” killing all of them. Some of us thought this was a “message”. In fact, two months ago, in a province I know very well, another gendarmes bus had a similar accident with the same outcome. This was not an oil related situation, but there are striking similiarities and I know who did it. Reg. the recent oil subsidy, I suppose the gov thought it better to avoid clashes and release money to subsidy oil production.

      PD: I suspect you are the Thomas Malthus commenting on solar panels…

  22. Worth reminding yourselves what Dr Tim Morgan former Head of Global Research @ Tullett Prebon said in his research a few years ago. https://twitter.com/AgritechMedia/status/695516772800323584

    “The economy as we know it, is facing a lethal confluence of four critical factors:

    1. The fall-out from the biggest debt bubble in history
    2. A disastrous experiment with globalization
    3. The ‘massaging’ of data to the point economic trends are completely obscure
    4. And most important of all: the approach of an ‘energy-returns cliff-edge’

    All of the above is laying the foundations for WW3.


    • bandits101 says:

      WWIII…..it scares the crap out of me, I try to block it out but deep down I know it’s coming. I think it will come from left field so to speak. We will think “why didn’t I see that coming”.

      • It’s already started. Syria

      • Rick Grimes says:

        I think a lot of people do see it coming, and do talk about it in depth, but as you say, most block it out because… what can you do about it?

        The spark that moves us on from proxy wars in the middle east to a direct conflict between superpowers could happen in the least expected way, as you suggest. Once things escalate from there it’s virtually impossible to stop. In this day and age, such a conflict would be short lived… and not much would be left in the way of spoils…

        Some people believe WWIII is slated for sept 2016 as part of some pre-planned final showdown where Putin leading the BRICS will triumph over the “evil” NATO…

        Things do appear to be lining up towards that goal with western MSM demonising Putin while the alternative media crowns their new prince – a messianic figure promoting nationalistic freedoms.

        On closer inspection, we have resource wars. And the final conclusion to that will be a winner takes all scenario where desperation leads to drastic measures against the strongest rival.

        Could the BRICS mount a suprise attack on the US? Or vice versa?

        The more I think about reaching those kinds of limits, the more I believe that no party involved could be that suicidal. Any kind of preemptive strike attempting to disable the stongest opponent would be met with immediate retaliation and annihalation.

        For example, if the BRICS carried out an EMP strike over much of the US, they would then have to mop up as many of the retaliatory nukes as possible. Is it survivable? Does Russia have enough space-based laser platforms and ground to air missiles to soak up a counter punch?

        The only way that scenario unfolds is because something goes wrong, somebody somewhere makes a mistake and all hell breaks loose. Salvase quien pueda.

        Even in the best case scenario, where only tactical nukes are involved on the battlefield, the conflict could spread to europe turning it into a hell hole once again.

        And if this conflagration is a cover for resource depletion, insurmountable debt, the end of civilisation as we know it, then it was inevitable anyway. It’s the fireworks display we have been collectively working towards. Our crowning achievement. Enjoy the show. Streaming live to your personal snitch device. Should be spectacular.

      • Christian says:

        Affraid of WW3? Vote for Trump

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If the Elders do not want Trump to be president — he will not be president — even if 90% of all Americans wish otherwise….

          I would like to see him win — because I do not believe it matters – the president is the front man for the Elders — he takes the flack when Elders’ policies go wrong …. nothing more….

          I want Trump with Palin as VP. I want to be entertained with bread and circuses and court jesters on the way down….. somehow that would be appropriate

          • Christian says:

            Very possible. I am not scared of WW3 anyway, the “Elders” couldn’t make a profit with it

          • ejhr2015 says:

            For once I agree with you. The President is a patsy. Hillary has already said it would be a pleasure to do business with the elite. I think Obama became an Obama-nation when he had to give up on his rhetoric and do the bidding of those who paid for his campaign. Almost his very first act, appointing Larry Summers as his Treasury Secretary, spelled it out loud and clear. Screamed it from the roof tops in fact. One of the banksters who should have gone to jail getting such a position ruined my opinion of Obama. And it’s only got worse, except he could have been a real Republican and not a shadow one.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      If I see another hashtag I think I’ll puke! So glad I got off those crack-like platforms when I did. Thanks for reminding me why it was the right thing to do.

      What have we become?

      Good content, all the same.

    • Vince the Prince says:

      T Boone Pickens back in 2008 claimed oil would never be cheap again and as proof said the United States had more holes drilled for oil than a slice of swiss cheese. Did not anticipate the fracking.
      He still has up his website “Pickens Plan”
      As far as not having a clue…well, he kinda knows, I suppose

      “The population of the world at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was about 791 million. The total population of the earth is today 7.2 billion (India and China alone account for 2.66 billion of them).
      It is clear to anyone who considers the problem of feeding, housing, providing transportation and communications, heating, cooling, and purifying water for a population that is more than 900% larger than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution requires more forms of energy, not fewer.
      Since I began the Pickens Plan in the summer of 2008, I have said we should use any form of fuel available to provide for our economic growth. That includes not just natural gas, coal and oil; but also hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar.

      – See more at: http://www.pickensplan.com/#sthash.wijFLus3.dpuf

      • I think T Boone Pickens meant “Oil would never be cheap to produce again.” I think he is correct about this.

        Quite a few of the energy types T. Boone Pickens lists require subsidies. I suppose as an investor, this means he will take whatever free money he can get. This doesn’t mean these energy sources will really work. Instead, they will simply run up unsustainable debt faster.

        • ejhr2015 says:

          “T.Boone Pickens”. What a wonderful name! Only in America, surely! I remember his name from the late 1970’s in oil deals etc. It sounds like what you are saying is that he will live off the subsidies. Nice work when you can get it.

    • Kurt says:

      Crackers is as crackers does.

    • Vince the Prince says:

      The population of the world at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was about 791 million. The total population of the earth is today 7.2 billion (India and China alone account for 2.66 billion of them).

      It is clear to anyone who considers the problem of feeding, housing, providing transportation and communications, heating, cooling, and purifying water for a population that is more than 900% larger than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution requires more forms of energy, not fewer.

      Since I began the Pickens Plan in the summer of 2008, I have said we should use any form of fuel available to provide for our economic growth. That includes not just natural gas, coal and oil; but also hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar

      T Boone gets some of it….from his website The Pickens Plan

      Also, he sees a economic contraction because of high cost of oil extraction

      • Niels Colding says:

        @Vince the Prince
        “Since I began the Pickens Plan in the summer of 2008, I have said we should use any form of fuel available to provide for our economic growth. That includes not just natural gas, coal and oil; but also hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, and solar”

        What matters is not the energy in itself but the net energy. All energy systems which requires subventions probably contain little net energy – or the net energy is considerably lower related to the ‘ordinary’ energy environment (read coal, oil, gas). Now – as Gail has stated several times – the net energy of oil is diminishing because of higher extraction costs which causes the predicament we are in now. You have seen the graph where energy consumption and GPD shows 99 % correlation – this means, as I see it, that money in its essence is a reflection of energy, so if you have to inject money in an energy system (for instance wind mills) it is the same as to inject energy in that energy system. You have to develop an energy system which can deliver, certainly not receive energy (money).

        • Rick Grimes says:

          So… what you’re saying is… we’re screwed?

          I sometimes wonder what state we’d be in if CO2 hadn’t become the no.1 threat to humanity, if coal plants still ruled the world, and oil flowed for another hundred years…

          Wouldn’t we reach limits all the same? Wouldn’t we still have the financial problems we have?

          But what if we bridged the gap to nuclear fusion within a decade or two? Would having access to almost unlimited power make any difference? Wouldn’t something like that kick the debt can down the road for a long ways?

          And at that stage, wouldn’t global population growth be decelerating due to higher standards of living? Wouldn’t a global regulatory body be established to guide humanity in a more desirable direction after its consumption stage of development? In other words, a world without much material or economic growth, but immense growth in knowledge and wisdom and the ability to apply them.

          Or is it more likely that we missed that train to the future by a few minutes because we were stuck in traffic checking our Twitter feed?

          • Niels Colding says:

            @Rick Grimes

            In a way you are right, but the question still remains: What about the 7 billion people? All of us highly dependent on cheap net energy. How many shall perish, and who shall survive? ‘An immense growth in knowledge and wisdom’ is desirable, but is it feasible?

          • Van Kent says:

            Rick your asking what should have been done. I can give you my point of view, others have theirs.

            First a global financial institutions should have been created. I´m not talking about a BIS, bank for central bankers. But something of a UN bank, bank for everybody. That institution should have bought all banks and publicly traded companies on all stock markets globally. Then stock markets and private banks should have been outlawed. Publicly traded stocks on stock markets and privately owned banks are pure murder. Actually all stocks on all corporations everywhere should have been bought and made in to co-ops. Not because I´m a communist, but because growth requires profits, but co-ops can manage without profits, therefore co-ops can manage without growth.

            Then that bank should have given 50y loans at 0,01% interest to all governments, municipalities, co-ops and NGOs that develop 99% sustainable practices, whatever they may have been. Truly given all the money they need and want, as long as its 99% sustainable. Vertical gardens made out of recycled materials, building wind mills (small)everywhere, composting and soil enrichments with biochar, free education of girls everywhere, community gardens, sustainable fisheries everywhere, shared apartments -apps so that new buildings are not needed because the buildings already built have rooms to be filled etc. etc. If its 99%, here you go, a truckload of money to start the co-op. That 50y loans at 0,01% thingy would have created full employment everywhere for decades.

            Oh, and no central banks that issue currency on interest. Instead national currencies backed by the national GDP. The UN bank would have issued currency backed by the world GDP.

            So first I would have prevented a financial collapse by buying everything privately owned that has to make profits or collapse. Then provided massive amounts of money to co-ops that create sustainable long term solutions. And virtually removed the global rentier class, one payoff and never again any money to the rentier class.

            Those would have not replenished raw materials and prevented mass extinction of everything else on the planet due to loss of habitat, but would have eased the Seneca cliff, by making a global SHTF collapse impossible. Our population would have first grown, then slowly gone back to the 1 billion mark our diminished biosphere could have supported. But those things would have given time for robotics automation to improve, AIs to form, nanotech to be taken to every day use and Quantum Mechanics to provide really wild real world solutions.

            But if you Rick think about it, maybe its all for the better that we collapse now. Think what damage our immature species could have caused with even more advanced technology..

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That all sounds wonderful …. but it would be easier to convince a pack of wild dogs to sit at the dinner table with forks and knives and share a meal of roast chicken….

            • Rick Grimes says:

              I wish I could have voted you in as Supreme Commander at a key moment in my fictional timeline so as to bring about the parralel existence you outlined! Now that would have been something worth voting for.

              But alas, we’re stuck with the reality we have before us with a species that became too successful for its own good and is now borderline insane. Some of its more observant members huddle around blogs such as this to mourn what could have been, but suspect will never be. And that’s about as much wisdom as you’re going to get on this little blue rock from now as we decend into chaos.

              What’s funny is how much human brains try to rationalise the unfolding situation always placing themselves at the center of it all, still trying to squeeze the last drop of purpose from an overly inflated sense of self worth – an ego that is soon to be as spent as the spent fuel ponds themselves!

              Yes, nothing like a dash of reality in your daily cocktail to bring even the highest flying traders of stocks crashing down to mother earth will a dull thud.

              And yet, deep down I know that it couldn’t have happened any other way. Maybe a few details would have changed here and there, but overall this species was destined to go the way of the dinosaurs.

              And on that point, it’s well known that some species of dinosaur became birds. And birds are generally considered to be a species that lives gently on the Earth. I’m not sure of the accuracy of that consideration but it certainly appears to be true at first glance.

              So when you say… “Think what damage our immature species could have caused with even more advanced technology..” I was imagining a similar conversion of our immature, clumsy, irresposible species into one that through the application of advanced technology would live as gently on the Earth as birds do.

              I understand that that sounds ludicrous when taking into account our trajectory and observing the levels of destruction that we as a species currently exact on the planet, but as you so efficiently described in your hindsight exercise, something close to a steady state economy could have emerged given adequate planning space outside of current economic constraints.

              That’s why I’m afraid any such concepts must remain firmly in the realm of theoretical mindspace, where jolly little thought experiments live out their short but pleasant virtual existence. And when they die, they get sucked into a parralel universe where rainbows and unicorns dwell and the unicorn population is regularly culled by a mysterious and benevolent hidden hand administrator.

              To create anything resembling a fair system, where sustainability reigns supreme, something close to a Brave New World level of dictatorial control would be required to keep all the variables within acceptable parameters.

              I’m inclined to believe that natives of such a system would be well adjusted to it and would accept the imposed limitations in the same way that many city dwellers now accept their back and forth routines – enduring the living hell of rush hour, a job that they despise, diminishing prospects for any kind of meaningful existence, and the perception that resistence is futile.

              But again, it was not to be, given the exuberance of the human ego and the ability of our species to consume many times the resources needed for… shall we say, a more “sensible” and mature way of life.

          • “But what if we bridged the gap to nuclear fusion within a decade or two? Would having access to almost unlimited power make any difference? Wouldn’t something like that kick the debt can down the road for a long ways?”

            Compounding growth is often difficult to really get a hold of – 2% growth doesn’t sound like much, right? What about 4%?

            A useful tool is the rule of 72 – divide 72 by the rate of growth to find the doubling time. So, at only 2 percent growth, it doubles every 36 years. At 4 percent, that is every 18 years. 10 percent growth, just over every 7 years.

            Keep in mind that all the moving parts of the economy need growth. Tax revenues must grow. The number of workers must grow, if the pensions, old age security, etc are to keep paying out (they are essentially ponzi schemes). Water consumption, and food production, and iron, and nickel production must all grow.

            Let’s say that in the 1980s, they had successfully created cold fusion, and by now it was rolled out all over the world. How many more doublings do you think we could do? How many times could we double the population? If the population levels off, how does the pensions and taxes get paid? If automation continues replacing workers, how do the debts, taxes, pensions get paid?

            How many times can we double food production? How many times can we double our rate of consumption of fresh water? Double cement production?

            So, I think under any scenario, we would be reaching the end of the current system. Even if we had fusion reactors and robots mining asteroids to keep doubling our energy and raw materials, we would be hitting ecological limits. Even if we had the energy and technology to thwart global warming, there would be other crises.

            What other system we could have, and how the transition could go, might be different with abundant energy, or it might end up the same or worse, since the advantages would be countered by the system undergoing one or two more doublings than our current system.

            • interguru says:

              As I former program officer for the Office of Fusion Energy, US Department of Energy, I can assure you that even if the Stellarator “works”, the engineering and financial issues will stop it from producing affordable energy. The classic quip it that fusion energy has been 25 years in the future, for the past 50 years.

            • Wow, they really are looking for decades more BAU:
              Recent article on stellerator tests: http://www.ipp.mpg.de/4010154/02_16

              “With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the device’s first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations”

              ” Successive extensions are planned until, in about four years, discharges lasting 30 minutes can be produced and it can be checked at the full heating power of 20 megawatts whether Wendelstein 7-X will achieve its optimisation targets.”

              “Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest stellarator-type fusion device, will not produce energy. Nevertheless, it should demonstrate that stellarators are also suitable as a power plant. ”

              So, if everything goes to plan, in 4 years they will know if Stellarators can compete with Tokamaks. For those of you following along, ITER is expected (again, assuming everything goes to plan) to begin tests in 2027 to determine if a Tokamak can generate more energy than it consumes:

            • Rick Grimes says:

              I was envisioning a scenario where “growth” was conveniently absent from the equation. I have never understood why we as humans were subject to the same fundamental laws that govern all other natural systems. Surely our superior intellect is capable of circumventing these laws even if just for a little while? But maybe that’s an example of our collective hubris.

              Our economic system and all of its subsystems are ponzis within ponzis because they were set up that way. Had we been more like ants, we may have developed a resource based steady state economy constrained by very strict control mechanisms such as a ruthless application of birth control, distribution of basic goods and so on.

              These measures appear authoritarian and undesirable to most people. But look what a lack of these measures has led to. Had our genes favored longevity of the species more than a collective drunken night out, we would have organised around more sustainable values. We could have had the equivalent of an ant farm like existence where an easily managed population lived in relative comfort with no individual left behind.

              To achieve the required level of contented subservience, the human population would be genetically modified and all involved would see it as a good thing. There would be no room for chaotic selfish behaviour. No rocking of the communal boat.

              Starting to feel creeped out yet?

              Hmm, thought so.

              It’s nothing more than the plans laid out in much of the elite’s own writings. And much of what we see unfolding in the west already paints that picture more than the people living it would realise.

              Everyone is being systematically plugged into a system of control so tight there will be no escaping is clutches. Much of the population is already on some type of welfare, on some kind of antidepressant medication. Most everyone owns a smartphone through which all transactions will be made once cash is kicked to the kerb. Beyond that, the next stage is to promote the practicality of electronic tattoos, which as Regina Dugan – former director of DARPA and now head of Google security – insidiously stated, “the kids will be begging for ’em because it’ll piss off their parents.”

              Once all the sheep are rounded up in the electronic control grid, the sheering begins and the shepherd decides what happens next for the entire herd…

              The system is rigged. If the system is rigged it could be rigged to our benefit as much as to our detriment. Unfortunately, instead of philosopher kings and queens running the show, we have bankster oligarchs intent on filling their pockets until the ponzi they erected collapses burying everyone including themselves in the process.

              The way things are going, it doesn’t look like any of those plans will come to fruition anyway. The way things were going to turn out… it’s probably a blessing.

            • “Our economic system and all of its subsystems are ponzis within ponzis because they were set up that way.”

              First, I don’t think our systems were “setup”, so much as they are emergent. Second, at risk of becoming part of an echo chamber, it seems the universe and every subsystem within it is a dissipative structure, which must grow or die. This “steady-state” Utopia may be just as impossible as all other utopias.

              As for command economies, the problem is, everyone makes mistakes, errors, has flaws. Concentrating power into fewer and fewer hands may reduce the frequency of errors, but greatly magnify the consequences. Command economies seem to fail even with all the abundance of BAU; communists seem, almost without fail, to manage to create famines and mass die-offs even without any physical shortages.

              As for elites and their schemes, it seems to me they have as much diversity of vision as any other random group of people, and it seems their plans gang aft agley as much as anybodies. If the Gates foundation really is responsible for this outbreak of microencephalitis, and it really was not intentional, that really should show all there is to know about Oz the Great and Powerful.

              I am, of course, choosing to attribute to incompetence rather than malice. It could be the communists intentionally depopulated their own countries, and plagues are released according to some secret master plan.

  23. Jeremy says:

    Did David Bowie think greens were charlatans? Here are some of his lyrics from “The Jean Genie”:

    He says he’s a beautician
    and sells you nutrition
    And keeps all your dead hair
    for making up underwear.
    Poor little Greenie.

    Sarcastic or what?

  24. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    “Before this year the lowest level The Baltic Dry Index had reached was 556 in August of 1986 and the highest was in June 2008 at a stunning 11,612. Today saw the freight index hit a new milestone however, crashing through the 300 barrier for the first time ever – at 298, this is almost 50% below the previous record low.”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The beasts body … is starting to shut down…..

      All those of living large have caught up with it

    • Don B says:


      Thanks for your encouragement and for sharing a little of what your wife has gone through and of both your successes.

      Actually, so far I’m not feeling the least bit inconvenienced by my changes in diet. The old cravings just disappeared.

      One thing I miss about HVL is the year-round walkable climate. I would often walk to the mailboxes closest to the main entry gate, near the HVL administration building. My WI situation is only walkable after winter. To compensate, I picked up a treadmill and walk that 4 miles a day – boring, but doable.

      Don B

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Nice you could make the diet change without cravings and 4m a day is a lot! If it’s boring just find a good movie to watch. We sometimes take a drive down to the marina, then walk down to the small beach, then the other way to the end of that lake front road, but we both still put in a lot of time working and that’s a form of exercise. We have a treadmill but it’s covered in boxes, lol. Got to keep in shape and eat right in these later years as my wife and I discovered, but life is still good in advance of collapse whenever that happens.

  25. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Obama is proposing a $10 a barrel tax to be phased in over 5 years to fund new transportation systems that move away from FF.

    • Ed says:

      Giving the federal government another 65 billion to use as political pork is just a bad idea.

      • Ed says:

        This is right up there with the space launch system SLS. NASA 35 billion project for a rocket too expensive to use.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Something just occurred to me – Obama is learning to negotiate! He’s starting out at 10 a barrel knowing that will get whittled way down. Just when you think someone cannot learn something, they do. Maybe there is hope after all.

    • Don B says:

      Hi Stilgar,

      Money spent on highway projects might just as well be burned in the streets for all the good highways will be in a post carbon world. At best, highways will be very expensive foot paths and bicycle trails. Electric cars? No way on this blue and green earth is that going to happen.

      Don B

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Speaking of which, they’re still working on widening 101 between Santa Rosa and Novato to 3 lanes, from the two lanes there still are in sections. By the time they get that done it will be time to use it for oxen carts.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      Maybe Mr Musk has convinced Obama that a Hyperloop between every city in the US is a really, really, really good idea.

      Personally, I think America got it right with efficient intercity air travel. Can you imagine the infrastructure cost of building out high speed rail all over the states? Because of the high speeds involved this includes immensely wasteful tunnels through mountains and high rise bridges. Compare all that to a few runways and an airport terminal.

      To make any of this dazzling future work America would have to spend trillions of dollars renovating all of her energy and transportation networks while literally forcing her wage slaves to end their love affair with the internal combustion engine just as gas gazzling SUV sales are on the rise again due to low oil prices.

  26. Don B says:

    Don Stewart,

    Great questions, Don. I hate to answer your question with a question, but I wonder if failed monetary policies of an 18th century France compares to failed monetary policies of today’s modern global financial system.

    Also energy. Let me start there first. 18th century Europe saw the evolution of the first practical steam engines, a period which would ultimately be the beginning of the industrial revolution. In terms of resources, history shows that they had everything to look forward to in terms of cheap energy, coal and later oil, whereas we have come to the end of the energy line. So yes, our current resource depletion and the enormous energy requirements to extract what resources remain makes a considerable difference between then and now.

    People living in cities can exist there only because of the excesses of civilization. Most of us are like hydroponic plants, only able to exist on nutrients flowing in from elsewhere. Where am I going with this. A collapse of a pre-industrial France, where most people still lived on the land, cannot compare to a collapse today. Sure, lots of the formerly wealthy joined the ranks of the pauper majority, but the carnage was probably more confined to the wealthy. I’m no French revolution authority by any means, but today is certainly much different. Not only are there so many more of us in total, but now most of us dangle our roots in a supply flow that is about to come to an end. It is for this reason that I don’t see an opportunity for another ‘revolution’, green or otherwise. There is no current substitute for cheap fossil fuels. Alternative energy sources are only derivitives of the fossil fuel industry. I think the greenies and permies have it wrong if they think windmills or PV panels will carry on some semblance of what we have come to know as normal BAU. But I digress…

    Don, I can’t speak to digital currency. Would outlawing cash currency and gold have made a difference in France back then, I can’t say. In today’s world I am skepical of digital money. What a neat way to for a government to convert my money into their money anytime they want too. I’m concerned, but not really qualified to comment.

    Let’s kick the ball around again sometime.

    Don B

  27. Fast Eddy says:

    Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which is on the brink of completing the oil industry’s largest deal in a decade, reported fourth-quarter profit that matched analyst estimates. The shares rose the most in almost seven years amid a rebound in global stocks and a selloff in the dollar.

    Profit adjusted for one-time items and inventory changes shrank 44 percent to $1.8 billion, near the midpoint of the preliminary $1.6 billion-to-$1.9 billion range it gave last month, Shell said Thursday.

    The slump in crude has hit earnings of companies around the world. Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil company, said on Thursday fourth-quarter adjusted profit fell 63 percent and missed analysts’ estimates. BP’s dropped 91 percent and Exxon’s 58 percent. Chevron Corp. reported its first loss since 2002.


  28. Fast Eddy says:

    Another big bank — another huge loss…..

    Credit Suisse Group AG shares slumped to a two-decade low as bigger-than-expected restructuring charges and trading losses prompted investors to question Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam’s plan to turn around the company.

    The shares dropped as much as 13 percent on Thursday in Zurich after the bank posted a fourth-quarter loss of 5.8 billion Swiss francs ($5.8 billion), worse than analysts’ estimates.

    Global markets, which houses most of the Zurich-based firm’s trading business, had the biggest quarterly loss among the company’s divisions as Thiam cited “legacy positions” hurt by jittery markets.


  29. Don Stewart says:

    Don B
    Here is a question for you. The Mississippi Bubble might be viewed as a predominately financial debacle. No resources disappeared. There was just a gigantic financial bubble with official government sanctioning of Keynesian monetary policy. The end of the episode can be seen in the quote below:


    ‘The collapse of Banque Générale and the Compagnie des Indes, which coincided with the popping of Britain’s South Sea Bubble, plunged France and other European countries into a severe economic depression and laid the groundwork for the French Revolution that occurred later on in the century.’

    You can see many parallels to the current situation in the OECD countries and China. (There may also be the issue that resources are depleting…particularly energy). The questions: Do you think that if the French government had outlawed paper currency and gold, and instituted a digital money which they could tightly control, that they could have avoided, not the Crash of the Mississippi Company, but the crash of the rest of the French economy?

    The tight control of digital money seems to be on the plate, right now. Do you think it can be made to work? Do you think that resource depletion makes it different this time?

    Don Stewart

    • Rick Grimes says:

      But how will the major banks launder money for the global drug trade and all other oligarchy funded activities that need the cleansing treatment?

      Or is all that going digital too?

  30. Yoshua says:

    I just wonder if this wont lead to military dictatorships and monopolies of key sectors of the economy. A politico economic system that serves the elite of the dictatorship who decides who shall live to serve the elite and who shall die. The question is only if this will be done in an orderly way or in a chaotic way.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      What will you put in the planes, trains and automobiles to keep them moving?

      Serious question.

      I don’t believe in key sectors of the economy any more. Each and every process within every activity is deeply intertwined with all other processes. It’s very difficult to strip things down at this point and run a slimmed down version of what we have, even from a ruthless military perspective. I would say it’s impossible.

  31. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and Finite Worlders
    In the ‘physical explanations’ camp I would add John Michael Greer this morning, after his post last evening. Here is an excerpt, with a comment by BW Hill. Note that, elsewhere, Hill has referred to negative interest rates as ‘cannabalization’. Greer has long used cannibalization or catabolic collapse as a metaphor.
    Don Stewart

    “Thus declining net energy promises to play out over time in the form of creeping dysfunction throughout the economic sphere, in the form of neglected and abandoned infrastructure, failing institutions, a rising tide of permanent joblessness and homelessness, all papered over with an increasingly brittle layer of propaganda spewed out with equal enthusiam from the partisans of every officially acceptable point of view. (If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, dear reader, you need to get out more.)”

    Hill responds
    That is what we have been referring to as the cannibalization process that must now take place to continue producing the oil needed to keep the remaining wheels turning. Unfortunately, it results in a situation much like the farmer during a bad crop year; he winds up eating his seed corn. The modern analog to seed corn is the monetary/ financial system that enables the cannibalization process. To keep munching on next year’s dinner we need to destroy savings, productive investment, interest rates, jobs; just about the whole system that took several hundred years to put together. Let Forbes, and Bloomberg continue to tell you how wonderful everything is, and is going to be. Grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy the show!

  32. Vince the Prince says:

    Lke to share this article of interest on Quartz and this part caught my attention
    We live in a time of bad forecasting of all types. Examples include the failed predictions of political pollsters gauging a host of critical elections around the globe, and the delusionary thinking that led to the last American economic catastrophe wreaked on the world—the 2008 mortgage crisis. It’s hard to predict events, as Philip Tetlock described last year (paywall) in his book Superforecasting.
    Even so, the sheer scale of what was not foreseen in oil (mea culpa: including by Quartz) is breathtaking

    The book mentioned seems of value here to at least consider and look at

    Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction Hardcover – September 29, 2015

    “The material in Superforecasting is new, and includes a compendium of best practices for prediction… The accuracy that ordinary people regularly attained through their meticulous application did amaze me… [It offers] us all an opportunity to understand and react more intelligently to the confusing world around us.”
    —New York Times Book Review

    “Tetlock’s thesis is that politics and human affairs are not inscrutable mysteries. Instead, they are a bit like weather forecasting, where short-term predictions are possible and reasonably accurate… The techniques and habits of mind set out in this book are a gift to anyone who has to think about what the future might bring. In other words, to everyone.”
    —The Economist

    “Tetlock’s work is fascinating and important, and he and Gardner have written it up here with verve.”
    —The Financial Times

    “Superforecasting is the most important scientific study I’ve ever read on prediction.”
    —Cass R. Sunstein, The Bloomberg View

    “Just as modern medicine began when a farsighted few began to collect data and keep track of outcomes, to trust objective ‘scoring’ over their own intuitions, it’s time now for similar demands to be made of the experts who lead public opinion. It’s time for evidence-based forecasting.”
    —The Washington Post

  33. el mar says:

    Correction: Mr. Greer

  34. el mar says:

    Mr. Geer believes in more boom and bust cycles to come:

    “The jagged landscape of booms and busts will doubtless continue for some time—it would not surprise me at all if the busts kept on coming at something like the six-year interval separating the 2009 and 2015 debacles—and each cycle will hammer the global economy in an assortment of familiar and unfamiliar ways, spreading collateral damage far and wide. Meanwhile the net energy of oil production will slide unsteadily downhill as older resources are exhausted and newer ones, with much steeper energy costs for extraction and refining, have to be brought on line to replace them.”


    el mar

    • el mar says:

      A comment on that:
      pygmycory said…
      Would binary thinking be the thought pattern you’re planning to stomp on?

      I’d noticed the downturn of the peak oil scene too. It was kind of hard to miss, if you’ve been aware of the issue for more than a couple of years. Gail Tverberg has been talking about some of the economic glut and famine issues you mentioned here. While she has a probably-excessively apocalyptic take on the aftermath of peak oil, I have found some useful analysis of the supply and demand mechanism there.

      One thing I wonder is how long it is going to take for the current oil glut to run through, and how much oil production is going to drop before it does. The current lot of economic troubles looks to me like its still picking up steam and will get a lot worse before it gets better. That would tend to keep oil prices low for longer than would otherwise be the case

      • Don B says:

        If I am reading Gail correctly, it is not an oil problem we are facing. It is a money problem caused by staggering debt that will wreak havoc on BAU.. You brought up JMG’s recent installment. He misses that point entirely.

        Don B

        • Don Stewart says:

          Don B
          It is a question of getting to the most fundamental question, as opposed to knock on questions.

          Let me see if I can illustrate with a non-oil and non-economic example. In his talk at Duke back in 2010, Toby Hemenway traced many of the problems of civilization to the cultivation of grains. He titled the talk ‘How to Save Humanity, But Not Civilization’. Grains, in Toby’s view, create problems of soil degradation, overpopulation, warlords, worship of sky gods, and hard work.

          Now many people here say ‘overpopulation’ is our problem, and are dismissive of any other explanations. But if Toby is right, then our problem is really grains. Now if grains are the problem, then there are things we can do to wean the world off grains. But we have to correctly identify the problem in order to take action at the leverage point, which was Donella Meadows’ advice to those who wish to intervene in complex systems.

          IF our real problem is financial, then Charles Hugh Smith might reassure us that in the coming digital money economy, the Central Banks will control everything there is to control and they are wise and wonderful people and so everything will be OK. But if the real problem is the End of the Age of Oil, as Hill thinks, and if Smith, Hill, and Greer are correct that we are making serious mal-investments with our remaining oil, then drastically different measures are called for.

          In other words, the distinction is more than semantic. It goes to the issue of what we should be doing.

          Don Stewart

        • Don Stewart says:

          Don B
          Another fine distinction. David Ludwig, who is at Harvard and wrote the new book Always Hungry?, identifies the problem not as grains per se, but as spikes in blood sugar. He, of course, is limiting his discussion to health impact. But with chronic disease and obesity at epidemic levels around the world, and the consequent drain on the economy, it is worth looking more carefully at the blood sugar issue to see if we can do something other than ban all grains.

          It turns out that we can sprout the grains, and then make bread out of them. The result is a considerably lower glycemic index, which indicates less impact on blood sugar.

          So if we are looking for the point of maximum leverage, we want to consider sprouted grains as opposed to processed grains.

          In other words, it pays to get to the most fundamental explanation.

          Don Stewart

          • Don B says:

            Hi Don Stewart,

            Thank you for your reply. I am not in disagreement with JMG. It took me a moment to get in touch with what it was about his article that made me bristle a bit. He is quick to downplay the apocalyptic nature of what it is we are now facing directly, citing apocalyptic notions that have come and gone in the past. How it all plays out remains to be seen, of course, but I don’t think this will be one of those times.

            I came upon this article this morning and thought that you might find it of interest:


            For moral as well as health reasons, my diet has been meat free, except for seafood, for a number of years. I’m now 6 weeks into being totally meat and dairy free. No added oils, olive or otherwise, are used in preparing my meals. It’s funny how a referral to a cardiologist can wake you up. I’ve got A-Fib it seems. Diet and exercise might not make a difference here, but it sure can’t hurt. Will see the Dr in a few days. Anyway…

            Don B

            • pintada says:

              Dear Don B;

              Esselstyn Jr. M.D., Caldwell B. (2007-02-01). Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure . Penguin Group.

              Not my cup of tea, but I think he has some data showing that the very restricted diet he is selling really works against heart problems in general.

              All the Best,

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I recall watching a documentary about people who believed that restrictive calorie diets would allow them to live longer lives…

              They were trying to consume as little as possible — under 1000 calories per day if I recall…

              They didn’t look particularly healthy – rather gaunt and pale….

              In any case — immortality is not possible — so you live an extra 10 years by eating less — and you spend your entire life living like a super model nibbling on lettuce and carrots….

              I have a friend who when a bachelor had a diet consisting of steak and pizza…. seldom any vegetables….. another friend suggested he reconsider….

              His reply : ‘Tell it to someone who gives a fuck’

              Interpretation: I am not going to live forever no matter what I do — and I am not going to deprive myself of what I enjoy just so I can squeeze out a few more miserable years eating more lettuce and carrots….

              Makes sense.

              He is married now with kids and off the meat and pizza diet….. I suppose he has decided on a compromise due to the kids…..

            • Stilgar Wilcox says:

              Don B., stick with the diet and you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes in your health stats and the way you feel. My wife started to have heart pains, angina a few years ago, had a Dr. do a scan of her heart and there was a lot of placque build up on the inside of her arteries in her heart. Her cardiologist wanted to put her under, go in with a catheter and make his own decisions on whether to put in stents or a pacemaker. The trouble with stents is they don’t address the reason the stuff built up in the first place, the patient then needs to take drugs to combat rejection of the stent and stents can come loose and cause heart attacks. So she opted for going on a strict vegan diet. It was her own idea, not any advice from a Dr., but after 6 weeks the heart pains went away, her blood pressure that had been spiking stopped spiking and after a few more months her blood pressure came way down.

              The reason the vegan diet works for repairing the vascular system is because without meat and cheese saturated fats attaching to the inside walls of the arteries, veins, etc. they heal. The placque gets smaller over time and can even completely disappear. So think in terms of eating to heal the vascular system, the endophelium (not sure if that’s spelled right, but it’s the name for the walls of the vascular system. I changed my diet too and lost my extra chunk of weight. I still have some chicken, but nothing deep fried, but I’m 60 and my blood pressure went from 135/95 to 124/85 even just on a diet with small amounts of meat. So I don’t take blood pressure medicine and other guys my age I know do, but their on meat & cheese diets. Also, you know that organic lettuce that is a 50/50 mix of spinach and other good greens – find ways to get that stuff into your diet and you’ll really feel the difference. Good for you for the six weeks you’ve been on that diet.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I guess what worked for your wife is good news for her. The latest version of healthy eating says we should eat saturated fat rich foods plus avocados and olive oil monounsaturated fats. All seed oils should be eliminated as they are omega 6 instead of omega 3 healthy oils. One doctor says saturated fats coat the arteries and prevent plaque build up, the opposite to your statement.
              The main thing though is to avoid processed, usually sugared, foods, simple carbs and carbonates soft drinks above all. Growing up in the 1950’s we ate a lot of sugar, which was bad for our teeth, but then it didn’t lead to obesity like what happened after 1980. Australians were then the champion sugar eaters @1CWT per person per annum or about 40 kg. So whatever causes the current epidemic it wasn’t just sugar.

            • Don B says:


              Funny you should mention Dr Esselstyn. I happened to hear about him just recently on my Forks Over Knives twitter timeline. Lots of great stuff in his book. Thanks for the recommendation and well wishes.

              Don B

          • bandits101 says:

            Hi Don, I enjoyed the Hemenway lecture, thanks for posting.

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Whole grains of any type are not the problem.

            Heavily refined “white”, bleached grains of all types are.

            Your immune system doesn’t recognise the components in food if they are refined, bleached or rearanged as with GM crops.

            This is what causes the spikes in blood sugar and the subsequent storage of the offending food components in layers of body fat.

            If these foods – including heavily refined sugar, artificial additives of all kinds, and trans fats – are consumed on a daily basis you end up with the health problems you have in the states.

            Put all of these people on a healthy, whole food diet of mostly vegetables eating only small portions a couple of times a day and watch the modern medical system collapse due to lack of business.

            I have seen people go from being bed ridden due to obesity to being skinny and active by replacing KFC family buckets with a wholemeal bread sandwhich for lunch every day.

            Of course, there are genetic causes too but the majority of medical problems today are caused by bad dietary and lifestyle choices.

            More importantly, stress should be managed through moderated exercise or stress reduction techniques such as meditation.

        • el mar says:

          Yes, he missed that point. And therefore I don`t believe in some more cycles!

    • ejhr2015 says:

      Booms and busts are THE way our capitalist system works. There is no getting away from that.
      All growth is cyclical, not incremental. We usually have one cycle per lifetime, so we tend not to understand them when they hit.

      • Van Kent says:

        ejhr, has it occured to you that the capitalist system is only possible while the economy grows. You know profits to pay debts that production needs to start the business. The capitalist system is not possible when the global system only diminishes. You know, zero or negative profits for the large majority of businesses. Why would anybody lend, or invest, if it only results in losses? Previous cycles have always, always found new resources, new land masses, new energy to grow with. Now we are the limits of our finite planet and the capitalist system goes bye-bye. This time there will be no recovery. The cycle for capitalism itself has ended. Your economics books do not tell what happens when the capitalist system itself no longer is viable. No matter how thoroughly you read them. But I suggest you read Gail thoroughly, because she is just about the only one who does write comprehensively about this subjectmatter.

        Her next post should be of great interest to you.

      • Van Kent says:

        ejhr, you have read your economics textbooks, but the only cycle left is the end of the capitalist system itself, forever.

        If I understand correctly what Gail is writing, Gails next post should cover what the economics profession has overlooked. Her next post should be the definitive final chapter to every economics textbook everywhere.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘All growth is cyclical’

          Economic growth is depended on cheap to extract oil

          The cheap to extract oil is gone — therefore this is the end of the road —- growth is finished

          Steven Kopits from Douglas-Westwood said the productivity of new capital spending has fallen by a factor of five since 2000. “The vast majority of public oil and gas companies require oil prices of over $100 to achieve positive free cash flow under current capex and dividend programmes. Nearly half of the industry needs more than $120,” he said


          • ejhr2015 says:

            It’s still cyclical. The next one might be the last though. We are in a demographic trough and its clear, especially looking at the Baltic Dry index for consumables, in deep do-do.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Growth ended in 2008.

              China built trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure that never should have been built because it was not needed. However that did restart growth.

              China has stopped building because they have a massive credit crisis that is being papered over.

              I fail to see any sort of cycle here. I see utter desperation in the face of the end of growth

        • ejhr2015 says:

          Not denying that!!!

  35. Christian says:

    So, it seems we make some progress regarding the nuclear issue. Generally speaking, we know Japan is rather a safe place now, given spent fuel has already underwent at least four years of cooling and is able to requiem in pacem where it is located now (with the exception of two nukes still operating, I think, don’t know why they allowed this imperfection). This is probably also valid for melted Fukushima cores.

    Still functioning nukes and pools are the problem, upon which I see you tend to favor a different approach than I did. I assumed facilities are quickly abandoned and best policy is to seal them in order to forbid radiation and particles to escape. This would also have the effect of limiting oxygen availability for cladding oxidation to take place. I am somewhat dizzy with all that info, but it seems this situation (very hot stuff without air) was not modeled in the literature we have. We can expect anyway bundles melt down and that’s why criticality could be an issue, but not fire because the lack of needed oxygen.

    The other approach is to water the stuff for a given time, which could go up to 4 years before full abandonment (the papers we are working with doesn’t take account of modifications having taken place after Fukushima accident, while I understand they are mostly related to steam and H explosions, not to drilling holes in racks or walls). Alternatively, passive venting could reduce this lapse but wind would obviously augment the amount of released radiation. Of course, the main point is that we are not sure this will happen. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of electricity to run the pumps and I suppose less of it is needed to only force ventilation, and it is not impossible that equipment can go on without major reparations during those amounts of time; but human presence itself is still unknown.

    So, it seems generally speaking we have reached an end point regarding this research, while the effects of a quick abandonment are still not yet fully known. Pintada says worst case (I assume it is quick abandonment) would only forbid an area of a few hundred square miles; I would be glad reading the source (but have no Kindle).

    “Tell your tribe where the nukes are, and make sure the young ones know that it is crucial that their decedents never forget where those unsafe areas are. Do not live anywhere near one.”

    That’s somewhat the theme of a short story I wrote, which Gail and some other people (not finiteworlders) have enjoyed. This is the “suggestion” I made to the nuclear engineers/physicists I corresponded. As expected, after having sent the story feedback stopped. I worked later on some other stories, which started intertwining so it’s not impossible I will end up writing a short novel (I have the general plan but only twenty pages really finished). Hint: second chapter is about a classic theme, deluge. The third… is a surprise.

    Are we to do something else upon this issue? Gail, you started talking about it, any thought?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Again that is completely wrong.

      I have posted evidence that a boil off would result in a massive release of radiation.

      I have posted evidence that the Japanese government was planning to evacuate Tokyo — based on the meltdown of the reactor cores…

      Tokyo is 240k from Fukushima.

      The fuel ponds are exponentially more dangerous that then reactor cores because they hold many times more fuel rods.

      If the ponds were to have collapsed then the entire country would have had to be evacuated.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And no – Fukushima is not fixed… unless you understand that pumping water onto exposed cores 24/7 365 days a year pretty much forever = fixed

        As for the ponds — they are cracked — another significant earthquake would likely collapse them…. and TEPCO has still not removed the rods to a safer place…

        Japan will delay removal of dangerous spent uranium fuel rods from the wrecked Fukushima power station, another setback in Tokyo Electric Power Co’s struggle to contain the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.


        Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-japan-fukushima-insight-idUSBRE97D00M20130814

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

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

        One would assume they have delayed moving the rods because they are not confident they can remove them without setting ‘14,000x the radiation of Hiroshima’

        Even the slightest touch and the whole thing goes sky high — 14,000 atomic bombs…. that’s one point — and that’s pretty much the end of life right there

        • “As for the ponds — they are cracked — another significant earthquake would likely collapse them…. and TEPCO has still not removed the rods to a safer place…”

          Reactor 4 spent fuel pond was cleared out over a year ago:

          Although this declassified NRC document from another RT story from Dec 2015 claims that all the spent fuel from reactor 4 was released into the atmosphere, along with 25% from reactor 2 spent fuel pond, and 50% from reactor 3 spent fuel pond:
          USNRC doc: http://issuu.com/colmmcglinchey/docs/ml12122a949
          RT story: https://www.rt.com/news/325663-fukushima-nuclear-report-declassified/

          I suspect they mean just the cesium, iodine, etc escaped. The Reuters story is lacking in details, but it seems to me they are talking about the in-house cooling ponds for units 1,2 and 3.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The spent fuel ponds did not explode — the ponds are damaged and in a precarious position (another big earthquake and the whole thing goes to pieces….)

            As indicated in previous posts if they exploded — we would know about it….. because Japan would no longer be habitable….

            ‘Tepco has already removed two unused fuel assemblies from the pool in a test operation last year, but these rods are less dangerous than the spent bundles. Extracting spent fuel is a normal part of operations at a nuclear plant, but safely plucking them from a badly damaged reactor is unprecedented.

            “The No. 4 unit was not operating at the time of the accident, so its fuel had been moved to the pool from the reactor, and if you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.

            The fuel assemblies are in the cooling pool of the No. 4 reactor, and Tepco has erected a giant steel frame over the top of the building after removing debris left behind by an explosion that rocked the unit during the 2011 disaster.

            The structure will house the cranes that will carry out the delicate task of extracting fuel assemblies that may be damaged by the quake, the explosion or corrosion from salt water that was poured into the pool when fresh supplies ran out during the crisis.

            The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It’s just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.’


            As posted earlier — this operation has been delayed….. perhaps they have determined that they cannot safely get these assemblies out of the ponds without the whole thing blowing sky high?

            We will never be told that — in fact recall reading many months back that the operation was happening and assumed it was long ago complete —- I was surprised to find that article indicating nothing had been done….

            • “We will never be told that — ”

              And that is the heart of the matter; there are classified reports, conflicting news stories, rumours and speculation. We have no way of knowing the whole truth of what is happening. Any reports that accurately describe what is likely to happen if the grid suddenly goes down permanently, are probably highly classified and will never be released to the public. So, either post-BAU will be an extinction event, or it won’t and there is no way to 100 percent know.

              I think the same is likely about abrupt climate change / the clathrate gun; anything truly terrifying from an official source is also classified and buried. So all there is, are fringe blogs like Arnie Gundersen and Guy McPherson, and the official reports that everything is under control.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We know that when Chernobyl blew it’s top there were dramatic increases in cancer in adjacent countries even though Chernobyl was entombed within weeks

              We know that Japan has a secret plan to evacuate the entire city of Tokyo when Fukushima blew. But that was not put in play because Tepco was able to get water onto the melted cores.

              We know that a fuel pond bust up is thousands of times more dangerous than a reactor accident.

              We know that spent fuel must be kept in water for years before it can be moved to casks for long term storage.

              We know that the Elders are running the BAU engine to the max — there is not a single effort to do anything but extend BAU for as along as possible doing ‘whatever it takes’

              Does not all of this indicate that they know that we are dead when BAU goes down because these beasts are going to come off the leash?

              Does this not also indicate that they know that our food supply is going to collapse the second oil and gas are not available to make the pesticides and fertilizers used to grown nearly 100% of it?

              We can never be 100% sure about most things — however if this were a casino and I were spinning the wheel —- I would be willing to wager every single cent I have on the black outcome….

              There are just too many things that are wrong all at the same time for this to end any way other than complete and utter catastrophe.

              It’s not just the ponds… not just the food situation … not the guaranteed violence and disease…. this is a perfect hurricane….. the 4 horseman …. it is the apocalypse…. the holocaust….

              Wait till the power goes off — for good. And the grocery store closes. And the petrol station is empty. And your money is toilet paper. And you cannot grow food on your lawn. And the pumps that bring water to you stop — and the toilet overflows with shit … and the neighbours and friends and family knock at your door asking you to share….

              The spent fuel ponds will be a godsend…. a coup de grace….. but even if they were not an issue…. nobody comes out alive from this

            • Van Kent says:

              When Chernobyl happened my father was working in the ministry of health. And he told me at the time, that he could see red dots of leukemia, cancer, birth disorders and miscarriages that followed the clouds.

              He was privy to the “sauna-talks” and “vodka-talks” with the russians, and all of these “red dots” were kept under wraps, the same way every time huge amounts of Russian tank divisions gathered along the border for some “extra military training exercises”.. -Move Along, Nothing to See Here-

            • Rick Grimes says:


              Has it ever occurred to you that some of the factions comprising the Elders are members of a suicidal death cult?

              As you say, it is virtually impossible for the top brass at think tanks such as Rand Corp – that are responsible for planning, manipulating, and distorting our reality many decades in advance – to be completely and utterly in the dark about these issues.

              That goes for every intelligence agency in the world that in turn are guided by the aforementioned think tanks. Everything they try to achieve would be for the benefit of the ruling oligarchic family dynasties. Everything including how the banking system is run, how and when wars are fought and for what reason, how much freedom the “slaves” are allowed to think they have, and so on.

              If they know what is coming, and have known for a very long time, it may well be that they have accepted their fate and have laid plans for a global spectacle to close the session.

              Even without adding the conspiratorial spin, it boggles the mind how people in the know at the highest levels of human operations can go about their business as if nothing at all were about to change.

              This, to me, is a sign that something is not quite right. You would expect to be hearing rumours of preparations taking place among the elite. I see nothing of this worth mentioning. Just the usual promotion of hysteria surrounding climate change. And a lot of christian folk prepping their bunkers with the usual longlife goods. The signs their book warns them about are manifesting so something very bad this way cometh.

              We won’t be told. But you’d expect to see some twitching, a give away sign, something. All I see is long term planning and lots of cocksure smiling in between the odd concerned frown when climate is mentioned.

            • “You would expect to be hearing rumours of preparations taking place among the elite.”

              Rumours like the Bush family having a massive ranch in Paraguay? Rumours like a giant bunker under the Denver International Airport, and in the Urals? What kind of rumours would you be expecting, if not the ones that we actually are hearing, and have been for decades?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I wouldn’t call it a suicide cult….

              Because I don’t think they have every had a choice in how this ends….

              We have essentially been kicking the can down the road for centuries….

              Take for instance the deforestation of Europe…. that would have lead to the total collapse of civilization back to the something resembling the stone age if the Europeans had not worked out how to make use of coal….

              If not for coal then the trees would have disappeared — the farmers would no longer have had metal implements — and we’d be back to scratching in the dirt with sticks…..

              Actually if all the trees would have been cut down — and there was no coal to be found — everyone dies from hypothermia….and starvation (no way to cook food or keep warm if the trees are gone)….

              The thing is….. the world’s leaders are running out of acts….. they have been trying desperately to find something to replace fossil fuels — but as we know — we they have been unsuccessful and it is now too late…

              I am troubled by the fact that we have not even a hint that these powerful men are doing nothing beyond using financial gimmicks to keep the hamster running….

              They would have far better information than we do — I interpret this inaction as recognition that this is an extinction event.

            • Van Kent says:

              Matthew, what value is a underground missile silo, a Denver Airport underground city, underground complex in the ural mountains? I mean they are all underground.. They are dependent on either oil, coal or natgas. Or then they are really crazy and have nukes in there.

              Matthew if you had billions, what would you do?

              I would probably buy Iceland. After Iceland probably Havaiji. Islands can be defended, abundant energy from volcanic activity, that would do nicely. Being outside is the possibility of having the sun grow things instead of artificial lamps that break eventually.

              If the elites were aware of whats coming in large numbers, I expect we would see some sort of markets for walipini-homes in Norway and NZ.

              What I see is some sort of WWIII (russia) combined with biblical crazy freemason factions (U.S.) prepping. Nothing done by real professionals with the knowledge Gail has of whats really coming. I´m just saying they appear to be hopelessly unprepaired, for having done prepping with billions.

            • “I mean they are all underground.. They are dependent on either oil, coal or natgas.”

              If I were doing it, I think I’d go with geothermal, and maybe coal as backup, since it is relatively stable and safe to store for decades, particularly compared to refined diesel or tanks full of compressed or cryogenic natural gas.

              “Islands can be defended, abundant energy from volcanic activity, that would do nicely. Being outside is the possibility of having the sun grow things instead of artificial lamps that break eventually.”

              If you are expecting nuclear meltdowns and/or runaway global warming, along with war and roving mobs of starving people, I think sitting it out underground would be appealing. The island idea is a good one, after the radiation and/or elevated temperatures fall off – assuming the island has enough fresh water and an elevation over 200 feet in case of the ice caps completely melting.

              “What I see is some sort of WWIII (russia) combined with biblical crazy freemason factions (U.S.) prepping. Nothing done by real professionals with the knowledge Gail has of whats really coming.”

              I don’t know which billionaire professionals that are not part of any faction that anticipates bio weapons, nuclear war, or global warming you are referring to. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos seem to be trying to get to Mars or build Elysium. Bill Gates seems to be trying to save the world by playing god. Kyle Bass seems to think gold, nickel and guns will carry him through, and once the corrupt fiat system is gone and liberty restored, everything will be fine. Soros, Buffet, etc all seem to think BAU forever.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘The island idea is a good one, after the radiation and/or elevated temperatures fall off’

              Radiation levels would not level off for decades…. and the radiation that is spewed into the environment would be present in just about everything…. so if you tried to eat a carrot or a bowl of rice or a fish — you would be exposed to radiation …

              4000 spent fuel ponds = astronomical amounts of radiation — even if you spent 10 years down a hole in the ground — it would still be there afterwards….

              That said — I doubt anything would be alive to eat when you emerged.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg own islands in Hawaii…..

          • Christian says:


            What’s this ISSUU? Is this USNRC supposed paper true? How could they have “believed” such amounts of fuel volitilized at that point but now somebody is telling pool number four is still full? Or was it really unloaded (I recall having seen pictures of the operation)?

            As Matt says, they could be referring to volatile fission products only. Three options, what’s the truth?

            What could be the conclusions? Half a pool and a couple of cores can volatilize and the result is only a couple thousand extra cancers?

            In case USNRC report is real, what does it means that their first priority was to assess a safe radius for US citizens, placing only in second rank “providing technical assistance to the government of Japan to control nuclear power plants at Fukushima”? Does it means those plants weren’t really such a big risk at their worst moment?

            And on the plans about evacuating Tokio (and many other cities)… Yeah, that’s a big show to scare the masses and give the impression you are a proficient planner…

            Who knows what? But upon the papers we have I still maintain Fuku ponds and cores are quite safe to the extent that it is impossible for them to explode. In case another earthquake was to make them crumble, the fuel would get burried along with the rests of the structure. Worst local conditions, yes, but nothing else.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘the fuel would get burried along with the rests of the structure. Worst local conditions, yes, but nothing else’

              So the fuel ponds are of no concern — we just bulldoze them under a pile of rubble just prior to the end of BAU and there will be only minute amounts of radiation affecting only the immediate population and land…

              Now that truly is Delusistan thinking — given the extensive scientific information that we have on the dangers of spent fuel ponds….

            • Christian says:

              As I’ve said, this is only valid for Japanese 4 years shutdown stuff. Don’t try to pull my leg

      • pintada says:

        Dear Fast Eddie;

        You have posted histrionics and BS. No evidence at all.

        Catch a Clue,

        • Fast Eddy says:

          No. I have posted research from a wide range of nuclear engineers and experts.

          You are living in Delusistan…. where facts are irrelevant. Where the national anthem is Wishful Thinking…..

      • “If the ponds were to have collapsed then the entire country would have had to be evacuated.”

        That is a different situation, the building, the ponds, and the rods themselves were all damaged from the hydrogen gas + pure oxygen detonation. They were unwilling or unable to ventilate the structures, which falls under the really bad scenario in the 1979 Sandia Labs report, and then the water levels went down but not dry – also the worst case scenario, as it prevents water or air from cooling the fuel. The rods in one or more of the reactors themselves may have got over the 1000 celsius mark.

        Plus there was debris falling into the reactors and in-house spent fuel ponds and other problems – seawater contamination, etc. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did, except BAU was available for a massive response. Fortunately, nothing else collapsed and the spent fuel ponds were controlled.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Can you point to a situation where the 1979 recommendations have been tried?

          Busting holes in the roof of the pond buildings is not a solution. All of these ivory tower ideas require BAU to be functioning…. they assume BAU will be functioning…

          Even the Harvard study assumes BAU will still be available to deal with a catastrophic attack on a pond —- there is no assumption there that the pond remains breached and out of control for decades….

          Because if that were the case then the amount of radiation released would be far beyond the 8-17x Chernobyl…..

          Chernobyl — if not entombed — would still be spewing its toxins….. given the spike in cancer rates in adjacent countries that resulted from that meltdown …. if that were not contained the cancers by now would be into the tens of millions — if not more…..

    • kugh+ says:

      Christian. I understand you have a Vendetta with FE. Or perhaps you just want the world to be a safe place. To say that the melted cores are safe because three years have passed is at best ignorant at worst deliberate misinformation. No one even knows where the melted cores are. They will never be contained. A melted core is a very different animal than spent fuel. It is amusing to me that the chernobyl core which was located and contained using improvised (albeit ultimately temporary relative to the life of the hazard) measures is “still a lethal threat” but the Fukushima cores in a unknown location and uncontained are ok doke now. The length of time that has passed since Fukushima is noteworthy however. As time passes and the inherent problems of running nuclear reactors a decade or more past their designed life continue to be reality we will be getting ever closer to the next event.

  36. Fast Eddy says:

    The Current Situation Index had hit an all-time high of 103.8 last July, at a time when the restaurant industry, while keeping a worried eye on the market turmoil and the slowdown, was still optimistic that restaurants were independent from it all, that Millennials would pull through, and that consumers in general were still hanging in there.

    Since then, the Current Situation Index has plummeted 4.2%, on par with the worst 5-month plunge during the Financial Crisis. Back then, the index started out at a lower point, from 102 in early 2007, dropped for two entire years, in all 6.3%, to hit 95.7 in early 2009, before edging back up.

    So this is not a good sign. These kinds of plunges only occur when something big is going on.

    Same-store sales experienced a net decline year-over-year for “the first time in nearly three years,” with 43% of the restaurant operators reporting lower same-store sales, a ten-point deterioration from November, while 51% reported lower store traffic.

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2016/02/03/restaurant-industry-suddenly-tanks-worst-plunge-since-the-beginning-of-the-financial-crisis/


    • Thestarl says:

      Exactly,most people simply have no discretionary income as cost of living coupled with stagnant wages takes its toll

    • Rick Grimes says:

      I was thinking about this the other day.

      When you’re economy is heavily dependent on people making and serving coffee for other people, going out to eat instead of making your own food, taking rides on planes, trains and automobiles to visit places that you don’t really need to visit, staying in luxurious accomodation so you can tell your buddies what they were missing, buying some lipstick and chocolates for the way home…

      …you have to wonder where we went wrong as a species.

      I just described much of the economy of Spain. Think of the enormous waste in resources required just to make all the above activities possible. Bars and restaurants in faraway places… we are a funny animal indeed.

      We spend billions on making cosmetics shinier and chocolates chocolatier.

      And we called it progress.

      What did you expect the outcome to be?

      • ejhr2015 says:

        That’s what happens when the Civilization becomes “mature”. We are beyond growth and are now living, coasting, on the infrastructure we already have, sustained by credit and somewhat unthinkingly, destroying the future. The end cannot be too far off.

    • Christopher says:

      What mistakes did Deutsche bank do beside the investment in China? I guess they invested in Greece and Spain. Still Deutsche bank has to be healthy compared to for instance spanish banks?

      • ejhr2015 says:

        All the big banks indulge in derivatives, which are basically insurance wagers, They are done off balance sheet, so the total exposure is unknown. I have seen estimates of between $810 Trillion and $1.4 quadrillion dollars involved. Even the lower figure is ten times the world’s GDP.
        Talk about bubbles? That’s a BUBBLE!

        • Christopher says:

          What you refer to and what Fast Eddies picture above refers to is the nominal value of these derivatives. The nominal value is used for defining a derivative contract but it’s not the actual value av the contract. The market values of derivatives are typically a tiny fraction of their nominal values. The nominal value can be used as a measure of the risk of the derivatives in other words how much and how quick the market values can change. But I don’t see how it could be considered a very good risk measure. I think it easily gets misunderstood.

          Furthermore, as I have understood derivatives are in fact included in the balance sheets typically the “market value” at a relevant date. This is at least what I have seen when studying actual balance sheets.

          Deutshe bank must have been doing some really bad businesses. China, Spain and Greece, what else? They can’t be doing worse than spanish banks?

          • ejhr2015 says:

            Thank you for the clarification. I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of banking and the info you give is a first for me. In any case the nominal amounts are useful for those who want banks stripped back as the fearsome numbers are really fearsome, beyond comprehension in fact, a pile of notes extending hundreds of miles into outer space.

            In any case it has to stop, probably brutally with a debt jubilee wiping out all fiat based loan principals, because the banks got these for free.

            • The balance sheets of banks have two sides to them: Assets and Liabilities. Loans, such as auto loans and home mortgages are one the asset side of the balance sheet, since the bank expects repayment of the loans with interest. Liabilities are amounts that the bank is holding for others. These would include your checking and savings account balances, and the accounts that businesses pay their employees with. You are proposing wiping out the asset side of the balance sheet. This leaves you with two options:

              1. Wipe out the liability side as well. Of course, no one will be able to buy anything anymore, and employers will not be able to pay their employees. Doesn’t this strike you as a problem?
              2. Declare all of the banks bankrupt, and get along without banks.

              Also, once you wipe out current loans, do you expect any future home loans to be issued? How about auto loans? Doesn’t this pretty much wipe out the auto manufacturing business and the home resale business?

            • interguru says:

              The jubilee year ( Leviticus 25:1-4, 8-10, ) requires that all debts be forgiven at the end of a 50 year period. This sounds like bronze age nonsense, however if you look at modern age economic history, about every five decades there is some sort of collapse which leads to most debts being forgiven.

            • Michael Hudson in “Killing the Host” says that his research says that these debt jubilees in fact did take place,and were common in many different societies.

              What made things different then was then debt (other than government debt) came from the top of the organization and didn’t really underlie the health of financial institutions. Thus, it could easily be forgiven.

              If government default occurred, it would occur in one country at a time. The overall system could withstand the shock.

              The situation now is different.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I did plan to answer your previous comment to me, but it disappeared[!]. So I will mention it in this context. This Debt Jubilee idea is touted by Steve Keen and David Graeber, among others. I’m sure they have thought it through, in more detail than I and address the issues you raise.
              IMO, I repeat IMO, the jubilee is limited to the loans created out of thin air. Banks get these for free, but to the consumer real assets are spent in repaying them, the bank having created a liability.
              The other side of the equation will be a crash in the value of the asset for which the loan was sought. This is the main aim, to reduce the private debt burden in the economy. There will not be massive losses doing all this, even though it can’t be a free exercise.

              The banks will adjust their books and lose interest revenue, but their actual solid assets are safe.
              Home owners etc will own their houses debt free, but at a much reduced value.

              There is clearly a lot of detail I cannot go into here but these are basic aims for any debt jubilee to accomplish. It’s apretty sound idae I think.

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Christopher, wouldn’t you say that the whole banking system is up shit creek without a paddle because they are all tied at the hip and share the same nefarious practices?

            In a sane world, should derivatives have ever existed?

            When SHTF and major banks begin to tumble, do you see anyone getting out from under the rubble alive?

            I see Spain going down the pan in a month or two when Abengoa fails to avoid bankruptcy and takes the rest of the country with it…


            >>>The Seville-based firm says it needs around 300 million euros ($335 million) of liquidity before the end of March to pay operating costs such as wages for its 24,000 employees, sources close to the company said.

            • Christopher says:


              “Christopher, wouldn’t you say that the whole banking system is up shit creek without a paddle because they are all tied at the hip and share the same nefarious practices?”

              I agree.

              “In a sane world, should derivatives have ever existed?”

              Things are not black or white. Derivatives have been used to increase debt levels. Without the CDS derivatives the housing bubble of 2007 in the US would not have reached the proportions it reached. But at the same time we seem to need these increasing debt levels to “kick the can”. If that’s the case then derivatives may have been a strike of genius. I’m not sure.

              Then we also have simpler derivatives for instance foreign exchange rate derivatives. Say that a swedish mining company export iron ore to great brittain and germany. The production cost swedish crowns but the income is in euro and pound. The problem is that the exchange rate gets very important for this mining company. In order to avoid this risk derivatives are helpful.

              “When SHTF and major banks begin to tumble, do you see anyone getting out from under the rubble alive?”

              It depends on the spent fuel ponds. If Fast Eddy is right it seems unlikely that anyone will survive. But since Fast Eddy always assumes the worst possible scenario my guess is that some will pass this alive. If we are lucky we may even have a slow collapse.

              “I see Spain going down the pan in a month or two when Abengoa fails to avoid bankruptcy and takes the rest of the country with it…”

              I’ve been reading of Abengoas problems. Don’t you think some more can kicking can temporarily solve the problem without Spain going down the drain? Can kicking is incredibly effective, until it doesn’t work…

      • psile says:

        You mean “less dead”, as in zombified? Sure, then it’s “healthier”…lol…

    • Rodster says:

      Hmm, I’ve heard and read that it’s much higher than that. In the tune of $1.6 Quadrillion.

    • 6795e says:

      Gt news for yah. not only are the derivitives imaginary but the GDP is too. Just more imaginary.

  37. interguru says:

    Who needs nuclear radiation to cause ecological collapse.

    A rapid loss of phytoplankton threatens to turn the western Indian Ocean into an “ecological desert,” a new study warns. The research reveals that phytoplankton populations in the region fell an alarming 30 percent over the last 16 years.

    A decline in ocean mixing due to warming surface waters is to blame for that phytoplankton plummet, researchers propose online January 19 in Geophysical Research Letters. The mixing of the ocean’s layers ferries phytoplankton nutrients from the ocean’s dark depths up into the sunlit layers that the mini plants inhabit.

    The loss of these microbes, which form the foundation of the ocean food web, may undermine the region’s ecosystem, warns study coauthor Raghu Murtugudde, an oceanographer at the University of Maryland in College Park

    Another rivet pops off the wing of the place.


    • greg machala says:

      Thanks for the link. I suppose this is one of any number of feedback mechanisms that are brewing. A storm is coming.

  38. Fast Eddy says:

    Why We Won’t Have A “Lehman Moment” In The 2016 Crash

    Central banks issued trillions of dollars, yuan, euros and yen in new credit to stave off defeat in the last war (the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09), but the problem wasn’t a lack of credit. Now, seven years into the strategy of flooding the global economy with credit,the problem is a scarcity of productive uses for all that money sloshing around the global economy.

    There won’t be a “Lehman Moment” in the 2016 meltdown, because central banks can prop up or “save” any new Lehman with a few keystrokes. What the central banks cannot do is create productive places to invest the credit they’ve generated in such excess, or force qualified borrowers to swallow more unproductive debt.


    I agree – but it sounds like Charles is critical of the central banks…. I believe they did what the only thing they could do … and they knew they were sticking a nuclear bomb into the economy in order to sustain it for a few years longer…..

  39. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Get this: State of emergency declared in counties with Zika Virus in Texas. 4 people have diagnosed with it. This is going to be a very difficult situation to control with mosquitos as the pathogen vector. Some tiny insect that has a built in syringe to draw out but also to in the process deposit virus. Sure they’re working on an antidote but unless there’s a quantum computer that can figure it out today, it will take months, maybe years to finalize an antidote. This isn’t like a flu virus we can incubate in eggs. Probably the quickest solution is a genetically engineered mosquito to somehow interfere with reproduction, but the last test done to accomplish just that is being held responsible for this virus spreading like wildfire. There wasn’t suppose to be any Tetracycline present or the engineering would be overridden and all hell would break loose – well it’s present due to antibiotics being given to domesticated breeds we consume. It’s in the animals blood, then it’s in the mosquito, the genetic engineering gets overridden and instead of not breeding (like it was designed to do) it BREEDS and the resulting new DNA has a new overall expression. somehow in that exchange it evidently initiated a genetic mutation to make the Zika virus a proliferating entity that could spawn a whole generation of people with sub-human thought levels. Maybe at the thought level of an opossum to a range of a raccoon. What do we call this new generation?
    Homo-minimess. Is it humankinds destiny to devolve because we couldn’t respect the position of dominant species?

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      …could indirectly spawn…

    • ” Maybe at the thought level of an opossum to a range of a raccoon. What do we call this new generation?
      Homo-minimess. Is it humankinds destiny to devolve because we couldn’t respect the position of dominant species?”

      Maybe the people with this problem will transfer it to their offspring, and the people of the future will have just barely the mental capacity for hunter-gathering, but no ability to create dangerous technology.

    • Christian says:

      Don’t panic about Zika, it seems there is a vaccin. Who owns it? Rockefellows. Not cheap, though


      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        I went to that link, Christian but didn’t see that it was a vaccine as much as a blood sample with Zika taken from a monkey in 1947. I don’t think the medical field was capable of developing that type of vaccine in 47.

        It states in the link below, that “Zika has never been studied in great detail anywhere,” said research scientist Mohammad Saeed. “There is not much known about the virus.”


        “A drug development laboratory headquartered in Birmingham is joining the fight against Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness linked to serious birth defects that is spreading rapidly in Latin America.

        Scientists at Southern Research already conduct research on other mosquito-borne illnesses, including Dengue and Chikungunya, which are very similar to Zika virus. The laboratory is seeking samples of Zika virus from collaborators, so it can apply its research to the latest public health threat.

        The World Health Organization declared Zika virus an international public health emergency on Monday. The disease has spread to 20 countries in the Western hemisphere, mostly in South America, the Caribbean and parts of Central America.

        Before 2007, the virus was rare, and mostly confined to Asia and Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

        • ejhr2015 says:

          On the news this evening a conference in Uruguay re Zica , has not come to agreement. Delegates are asking why the brain shrinking problem has only appeared in Brazil[?] Maybe that is significant an zica need not be feared, as it wasn’t up until recently.

        • Christian says:

          Thanks Stilgar, I received the link with a comment saying it was a vaccin. I wondered around to find the word in the site but didn’t found it. So it is not.

          There was a case in a neighbouring town. I am not expecting any childbirth and will probably never do it again, so it’s not a big concern. It’s curious the shrinking problem is only a Brazilian feature, but afik the very bulk of cases are located there, possibly just a statistical matter

    • On a scale of 1-10 risks this a 2/3 with everything else going on. Largest threat I see now is WW3

  40. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    The discrepancy between what I think Gail is saying and what the more physically inclined commentators are saying is now in pretty sharp relief. Gail has answered a number of questions with answers like ‘we need more debt’. She rejects physical models based on thermodynamics as ‘irrelevant’.

    One physically oriented commentator is Charles Hugh Smith. Here is the link and a few excerpts from his article today:

    Why We Won’t Have a “Lehman Moment” in the 2016 Crash

    ‘But the current financial meltdown is not like the last war. Central banks are ready to extend unlimited credit again to private-sector financial institutions, but this time around, the problem won’t be a lack of liquidity.

    By refusing to allow a house-cleaning of risk, leverage and mal-investment, central planners have simply pushed the risk into systems they don’t control: foreign-exchange (FX) currency markets, shadow banking and the economy that depends not just on available credit but the willingness of qualified borrowers to take on the risks and costs of more debt.’

    Back to me. In short, the Central Banks are not in control of everything, and the things they do not control will cause the crash. Taking on more debt when there is nothing worthwhile to finance with debt is equivalent to a Thelma and Louise moment…pedal to the metal and oblivion.

    Here are a few comments from BW Hill, writing at Peak Oil:

    The answer to Bardi’s question [about the Seneca Cliff] lies in the energy dynamics of the petroleum production process. It can not be explained, or projected from a volumetric analysis. The world’s economy needs a certain quantity of deliverable energy to grow and function. It is the quantity of energy delivered by petroleum that is the critical factor, not the quantity of petroleum. The two are not necessarily the same. We put this page up almost two years ago; it demonstrates a “Seneca like affect” that is occurring to the price of oil as a result of the energy delivery capabilities of petroleum:


    What has occurred is that when the energy function (that has controlled the price, and production of petroleum for the last century and a half) reached a specific point it hit a discontinuity in that function. A plot of the energy function can be seen here:


    The discontinuity occurred when a unit of petroleum could no longer contribute to the end user an amount of energy that was at least equal to the amount that was required to produce it. On an energy exchange bases the end user could no longer buy back all the petroleum that was being produced. Because the end user was now unable to buy all the oil that was produced this resulted in increases in crude and finished product inventories, and lower prices. Because the energy to produce petroleum and its products is an increasing function this situation can only grow worse with time.
    Bardi’s Seneca cliff hypothesis is well confirmed by the Etp Model. Convincing the rest of the world of its inevitably is going to be the most difficult part of the process. It is news that they just don’t want to hear!

    ‘On an energy exchange bases the end user could no longer buy back all the petroleum that was being produced. Because the end user was now unable to buy all the oil that was produced this resulted in increases in crude and finished product inventories, and lower prices.’

    Falling oil prices is not the cause of the problems now facing the integrated global production system; it is the result. Petroleum’s ability to power the global economy has declined to a level where growth is no longer possible. Exploding debt formation has resulted as the inescapable consequence. Without an alternative energy source to buttress petroleum’s declining ability to power the economy the world has now entered a deflationary spiral from which it can not escape. Ignoring the root cause of the problem will only exacerbate what is now a dire, and increasingly deteriorating situation.

    Back to me. IF Hill is correct in his assessment of the thermodynamics, then investing more money in new oil production (as opposed to milking existing wells for their remaining potential) is part of the mal-investment that Smith is identifying.

    The mechanism that Hill identifies is particularly relevant to energy, but can also be applied to other phenomena such as whether it makes sense for agriculture to continue to invest in industrial agriculture when the deleterious effects are so strong. If the Central Banks shovel money into the financial system, the system MAY pour more money into new oil supplies, but more likely the money will go into financial speculation…once Wall Street figures out that The Oil Age is ending.

    I won’t try to argue for one viewpoint or the other. Merely point out the deep differences.

    Don Stewart

    • I reject models based on what I consider wrong thermodynamics.

    • MG says:

      The Hill`s model lacks the “promises” part: the people invest energy not only based on the real yields, but also based on the promises. These promises keep the system going on longer. These promises are the personal beliefs of the people (that have little or nothing in common with the reality) that keep them investing in activities that are energy return negative and are complete energy sinks. E.g. money are injected into the shale oil production, new roads, houses. But not many have enough energy to use these products.

      It is the lack of the energy on the side of the consumers. One needs energy for taking posession of something and owning something.

      When you get a loan, you get encouregement for taking posession of something or owning something. This “belief” and “promises” part is something that keeps the system going on and contributes to the population decline. E.g. when you believe that you will not get reward here, on this Earth, but after your death, or you work as a volunteer and require no reward.

      • Don Stewart says:

        I agree. Many scientists think humans have a ‘positivity bias’. Most of the researchers think this is a good thing, since it gets us up in the morning. We know that our circadian rhythms result in the production of stress hormones before sunrise, which wake us up and get us ready to go out and do something.

        The Hill model does not provide for overshoot, which is a function of either positivity bias or normalcy bias or both. Thus, Boone Pickens will likely go to his grave expecting oil prices to rise to whatever heights are necessary to keep the oil flowing. (But he might run out of money first.)

        In addition, Hill has recently spoken of 66 dollars as the lid on prices. It’s worth noting that, while it is tempting to see the elegant math as telling us the truth…God is a mathematician, after all…there really are a lot of assumptions underlying the equation. One assumption is that human gene expression won’t change very much…see comments to Xabier and Stefeun and Vince the Prince. But we know that gene expression DOES change, and if the economy changes in response, then half of Hill’s model becomes out-of-date.

        Likewise, suppose Saudi invades Syria, as they have said they are considering, and Russia drops a nuke on Riyadh. Could the price of oil hit 300 dollars? I wouldn’t bet against it. There is lots of funny money sloshing around courtesy of the Central Banks, and it might very well bid up the price of oil.

        In fairness to the group that put the model together, I do not think ANY model can ever be all things to all people.

        Don Stewart

        • MG says:

          The every increasing number of young people with low wages and old people with low pensions will keep the lid on price of oil. The price of anything is correlated to human population and its needs. It is sure that more and more people will not be able to afford oil. But still there will be those, who can pay the price. Although the group of these people will be getting smaller, too.

          • The question is whether the whole system cam be kept going–whether there will be enough demand in total to keep prices up at the level companies need for extraction. IF large numbers of people cannot afford houses and cars, this may not be the case. Whether they can afford the cost of single liter of petrol is not the issue.

  41. interguru says:

    The megafauna in Africa co-evolved with humans and learned how to avoid our spears. Also, parasites co-evolved with us and kept our population in check. This worked until modern medicine and guns arrived in the last century.

    Meanwhile we spread to the rest of the world, left our parasites behind, and found megafauna that were clueless on how to evade and eat us. Outside of Africa we are an invasive species.

    • Van Kent says:


      I´m not actually absolutely sure the verdict is in yet that our species was responsible for the megafauna extinction. Greenland ice driliings have shown some mighty strange fluctuations before our “Goldilocks” period. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/tidescurrents/effects/climatechange_currents_lesson.html

      The variations are so huge, that something “out of the ordinary” is at play here. But the last jump about 11.600 years ago was so sudden that I would go with a meteor hitting the north polar ice cap, probably somewhere in northern canada.

      But its interesting to look at such a wild ride. Our short period of just perfect climate for about 8500 years, seems to be the exception. The norm is huge, vast, variations making every living organism hang on for dear life.

      So, our species being the cause of megafauna extinction, not quite sure it went down like that.

      • bandits101 says:

        We did it alright. Looking for something else to blame is normal. The only thing keeping the current megafauna alive is that we choose to do so. If constraints are lifted, they all will go the way of the dodo.

        • Van Kent says:

          Bandits, just thought wild fluctutations of +/- 6-8 degrees C, a meteor hitting and with that some floodings of biblical scale would be just about as potent as a few guys with spears and stuff.

          Just thought that extinction level events are more common when the foodchains can´t keep up with the rapidly changing climate. Predators usually keep the herd moving, which generally is a very good thing. I liked how the wolves changed the Yellowstone rivers.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

          • bandits101 says:

            There is no direct evidence of a bolide impact to suggest it killed the megafauna. There is evidence to suggest, enormous amounts of megafauna and fauna went extinct all over the world soon after the arrival of humans.

            The ice age may have contributed to their demise, by funnelling them along feed paths and areas of water and food which made it easier for inhabitants to hunt them.

            Even in the last few centuries nothing stopped us. The North American Bison was saved by the skin of their teeth. Whales were very lucky mineral oil came along. Have you read about the North American Passenger Pigeon? That is a classic example of what we do. Tigers are on their last legs, with already few species remaining. Asian Elephants don’t exist in the wild.

            The coral reefs of South East Asia were dynamited to extinction to get at the last vestiges of fish, and don’t get me started on Cod and The Patagonian Tooth Fish. Giant factory ships go to the breeding grounds and drop their nets to pull up whatever is available.

            You want to see gorillas, chimps, orangutan, rhinos or even elephants you had better make an appointment. Very few of our megafauna exist in the wild, maybe if you count bears, kangaroos and deer…………

            From a quick Google to Wiki………
            “Many islands had unique megafauna that went extinct upon the arrival of humans more recently (over the last few millennia and continuing into recent centuries). These included dwarf woolly mammoths on Wrangel Island, St. Paul Island and the Channel Islands of California;[29] giant bird forms in New Zealand such as the moas and Harpagornis (a giant eagle); giant lemurs, including Megaladapis and Palaeopropithecus species and Archaeoindris, a gorilla-sized lemur, three species of hippopotamus, a giant tortoise, the Voay-crocodile and the gigantic Aepyornis in Madagascar; various giant tortoise species from the Mascarenes, a dwarf Stegodon on Flores and a number of other islands; ; land turtles and crocodiles in New Caledonia; giant owls and dwarf ground sloths in the Caribbean;,[30][31] giant geese and moa-nalo (giant ducks) in Hawaii; and dwarf elephants and dwarf hippos from the Mediterranean islands”.

            • Van Kent says:


              Which is the cause and which is the effect? Ice age ending and our species coming in to a new territory. Megafauna dying at the end of the ice age. Many different things happening there at the same time I think. Also the meteorite is proven I think.

              Islands and Dodos are one thing. Some colts and smith and wessons for bison hunting another.

              And having couple of guys with spears, and all the land mass of Asia-Europe for Megafauna to migrate all over, yet another.

              There were lions in Europe, Greece etc. Wolves and bears in the Rhine valley. And that was not that long ago, just two millenia.

              Once I almost made roadkill of a wild boar in Tuscany Italy, even though their forests have been hunted for millenia with zealous enthusiasm.

              I agree that the last couple of centuries we´ve acted like maniacs, everywhere. The sixth mass extinction event is well underway and its our fault. Period.

              But to me its a bit of a stretch to claim with certainty the Megafauna extinction was human caused. Our species had some part in it. But to be the only and major cause, thats going a bit too far I think. Lets agree to disagree because, hey, thats just how I see it (with our current scientific understanding).

  42. Ok “unpeakables” Goldman Ball Sacks basically called time on Capitalism, game over, kaput, good night and thank you. No need to turn the lights off on your way out, global powercuts and nuclear EMPs will do the job just nicely.

    You know it’s over when the special forces of capitalists under the Fed & Washington’s control start questioning themselves. Time to find those bunkers and prepare your BoBs (Bug out Bags) for TEOTWAWKI. Go find the nearest Bear Grylls, kidnap if you must and make your way to iceland, via Scotland across to Svalbard Seed Bank then quick escape to Greenland or something where you can live off the land during the coming nuclear winter and chaos. I’d stay away from warm areas given most of the masses will be there eating each other. Counter intuitive I know, but head to “hard to survive” areas that are cold. More chance of surviving until you too succumb to the universe.

    Good luck people. We are the “unpeakables”. Gail we need to start thinking about escape plans, the debate is settled re: collapse of civilizaton. It’s happening, end of.

    Survival suggestions peeps? Time to go into detail.

  43. Rick Grimes says:

    Very interesting article exposing the sheer insanity surrounding the promises made to ramp up India’s energy consumption…


    Many miilions in abject poverty alongside techno-utopian fantasies administered by corrupt govt officials…

    The only phrase that comes to mind is… lost cause.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      And we read that India will replace China as the new driver of the global economy …. not.

      • Kurt says:

        South America and Africa are being jettisoned. India is next and that sucker is going down.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The EU is a basket case…. Australia and Canada are set to implode …. I am amazed that this has not unraveled…..

          Watch as the layoffs and bankruptcies accelerate… that will announce the beginning of the end

          • psile says:

            These resources dependent countries are the real canaries in the coal mine. Pimples that have overripened atop the festering boil of the Chinese Ponzi scheme, once they “pop”, we’ll at last know the end is near.

  44. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    A book report summarizing:
    U.S. Government; Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (2011-03-16). 2011 Nuclear Power Plant Sourcebook: Spent Nuclear Fuel and the Risks of Heatup After the Loss of Water – NRC Reports – Crisis at Japan’s TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant (~200 pages). Progressive Management. Kindle Edition.

    First, an analysis from Sandia Laboratories

    “These results should be considered in context with the fact that according to current practice, decay times as short as 30 days in reactor-sited pools and 11 year in away-from-reactor pools are possible.”

    So, a significant proportion of the spent fuel rods have been used as much as possible in the reactor, and then have been stored safely for many years. The fuel that has been stored for more than five years can be dry casked. It doesn’t need water cooling at all. Since it can be stored in a dry cask, it can also be stored in the racks in the pool without overheating. Stated another way, that fuel is safe regardless of the existence of water in the pool. From the book:

    “For most. of the cases considered, a 3-year decay period is sufficient to keep the clad temperatures within safe limits even when there is no ventilation at all.”

    The cases where fuel that has been stored for 3 years, and is unsafe, are due to tighter placement of the fuel, and smaller holes that restrict air circulation. The 3 year number is for spent fuel from a Pressurized water reactor (PWR) for fuel that was used in a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) the time required is less. (There are more PWR reactors than BWR reactors.)

    “… the amount of heatup occurring in the unventilated or underventilated away-from- reactor storage pool is considerably lower when the pool is filled with BWR fuel than when it is filled with PWR fuel.”

    For spent fuel stored outside, or in a room with an open door and roof vent the study concluded that:

    “1. Considering a complete pool drainage, the minimum allowable decay time for PWR spent fuel in a well-ventilated room varies from a best value of about 5 days, for open-frame storage configurations, to a worst value of about 700 days, for high-density closed-frame configurations with wall-to-wall spent fuel placement. Other storage configurations fall between these limits. The minimum allowable decay time is defined as the lower limit of safe decay times, such that shorter decay times would produce local clad failures due to rupture or melting.”

    “2. The minimum allowable decay time for BWR spent fuel in a well-ventilated room varies from a best value of 5 days to a worst value of 150 days for the cases considered. A high-density storage rack design for BWRs would result in a somewhat higher value of the allowable decay time than presented here, but not as high as for PWR spent fuel.”

    That is for a building with ventilation, ALL fuel that has been stored for 700 days after BAU would be safe. Some fuel stored only 5 days would be safe. Interestingly, the author goes on to say that by making a few modifications to the racks, that 700 day number could be reduced to 80 days at no expense to the utility.

    If the fuel is stored in a closed room with no ventilation, the spent fuel would need to be stored as long as 4 years before it was safe.

    The author calculated that it would likely not be wise under any circumstances to stand at the edge of the pool after the water was gone. Just as obvious, the idea that all of the spent fuel known to exist would – as a matter of course – burn, melt, go critical and scatter radiation over vast areas is simply ridiculous, as I stated several days ago.

    The second study from Brookhaven National Laboratory was charged with determining the damage that would be caused by the spent fuel that did overheat per the study at Sandia. In the “Consequence Evaluation” section of the Brookhaven study one finds:

    “Because of several features in the health physics modeling in the CRAC2 code, the population dose results are not very sensitive to the estimated fission product release. A more sensitive measure of the accident severity appears to be the interdiction area (contaminated land area) which in the worst cases was about two hundred square miles. While the long-term health effects (i.e., person-rem) are potentially large, it is important to note that no “prompt fatalities” were predicted and the risk of injury was also negligible.”

    In the later portions of the text, the author notes that the reason that there are no prompt fatalities, and the risk of injury was small is that the model used assumes what I would call BAU mitigation. So, yes their would be major health effects in the 200 square mile area if the fire happened post BAU.

    Regarding their review and update of the Sandia work:

    “Based on the previous results we have concluded that the modified SFUEL code (SFUELIW2) gives a reasonable estimate of the potential for propagation of self-sustaining clad oxidation from high power spent fuel to low power spent fuel. Under some conditions, propagation is predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been stored as long as 2 years. The investigation of the effect of insufficient ventilation in the fuel building indicated that oxygen depletion is a competing factor with heating of the building atmosphere and propagation is not predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been cooled for more than three years even without ventilation.”

    Recall that under the worst conditions possible, the Sandia study found that spent fuel stored only 3 years might cause a large issue. The Brookhaven folks showed that fuel stored only 3 years might overheat, but would not create the worst fire possible.

    Just for fun:

    “The transportation of spent fuel … most likely by both truck and rail, but with a preference for using mostly rail—will be a major undertaking, spanning 20 to 30 years. According to DOE, more than 50,000 tons of the spent fuel have accumulated at 72 sites in 33 states, many located near urban areas in the Midwest and the East. DOE has estimated that the accumulated inventory will have grown to 69,000 tons by 2010 and that moving this volume could require approximately 175 shipments per year over 24 years, relying on a combination of truck and rail shipments.”

    Yup. The spent fuel will not be moved, it will not all be dry casked, it will be radioactive for centuries and dangerous for decades. The vast majority of the spent fuel in existence is stable, and will never overheat or burn. However, it is still entirely possible that every nuclear reactor that is in operation today will have a fire in a spent fuel pool and it is entirely possible that the fire will be the worst possible. Assuming the worst happens at every facility, there will be roughly 1000 areas with a 15 mile radius that will be unsafe for the foreseeable future. If the population density in those 200 square mile area is high, millions will die or wish for death. Millions.

    My takeaway:
    Tell your tribe where the nukes are, and make sure the young ones know that it is crucial that their decedents never forget where those unsafe areas are. Do not live anywhere near one. Lay in a supply of iodine. No hysteria or histrionics are necessary.

    It is as I originally said. I should have trusted my common sense, but it is winter, and I have time.

    Glowingly Yours,

    • SymbolikGirl says:

      Very interesting, good find! I want to take some more time to dig into this and ponder the long term ramifications. My first thought is that if the coming complete collapse occurs over say a short, multi-year period (1-3 years) then a good deal of this material may be rendered safe enough to avoid large scale contamination of the landscape. I do know that in the current refits going on in North America there are rebuilds and redesigns of the existing fuel facilities. The key factors I see are how long we have left and how quickly the logistics and distribution system completely breaks down.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      Thanks for the info. Just because things can happen… doesn’t mean they will. But we love to speculate and draw conclusions. If we had a nuclear expert handy they’d probably diffuse the whole back and forth from the get go and save us all a lot of time. What we tend to do is select snippets of information that confirm our bias and say see, this will definitely happen. Of course, it hardly ever does.

    • “Since it can be stored in a dry cask, it can also be stored in the racks in the pool without overheating.”

      Do you have any understanding at all about how fission works? The more material there is, and the closer the material is to each other, the more fission occurs. The Dry casks separate the fuel from each other and shield them so far fewer neutrons, and probably at lower speeds, are bouncing around splitting atoms.

      If you took the fuel racks out of the spent fuel ponds and spread them out so they are a few hundred feet apart, that might work. You see, the water is a moderator, that controls the speed and amount of neutrons flying around.

      If you double the amount of fuel in a pond, it might quadruple the heat, since not only is there more fuel and less water, but there is more fission occurring.

      “These results should be considered in context with the fact that according to current practice, decay times as short as 30 days in reactor-sited pools and 11 year in away-from-reactor pools are possible.”

      First the fuel is used in the reactor. Then, it is moved into a cooling pond inside the same building as the reactor, because it is too hot and dangerous to be moving around outside. Then, after it has cooled for some time, it is moved to a separate building; often, there is one large common spent fuel pond for a reactor complex for this longer term cooling. The article you quoted is talking about a month in the in-reactor pond, then 11 years in the common spent fuel pond.

      “Assuming the worst happens at every facility, there will be roughly 1000 areas with a 15 mile radius that will be unsafe for the foreseeable future.”

      Again, you missed the part where the 15-mile radius is assuming a massive response to contain the problem, not having it left to smolder and seep into the groundwater for decades.

      • pintada says:

        Dear Matthew Krajcik;

        “Do you have any understanding at all about how fission works? ”

        Do you understand that that is not my conclusion, that it is in fact the conclusion of the nuclear engineer that wrote the f*&king book. You can imagine anything that you choose, I presented the facts.

        “Again, you missed the part where the 15-mile radius is assuming a massive response to contain the problem, not having it left to smolder and seep into the groundwater for decades.”

        Again. WRONG.

        I have a handle on who you are now don’t I? All of your comments come from the first 3 paragraphs of my comment. Obviously, you didn’t have the attention span to finish it.

        Done With Matthew,

        • bandits101 says:

          Pintada, MK is correct. You mostly misunderstood your own posted article. You need to get it explained to you then make appropriate comments.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The thing is…

            When the decision was made to build nuclear power plants…. it surely had to be known that there was no way to properly dispose of the spent fuel…. it surely had to be known that these ponds — even if there were just a few of them — posed incredible risks to the planet….

            And yet we still went ahead and did this …..


            • “When the decision was made to build nuclear power plants…. it surely had to be known that there was no way to properly dispose of the spent fuel…”

              No, from what I can tell, the assumptions were that:
              1) commercial reprocessing would take care of the waste, turning it back into useable fuel
              2) advancements in breeder reactors would enable more fissile fuel to be created from the fertile material, than the amount of fissile fuel consumed, resulting in an ever-increasing fuel stock, to power an ever-increasing fleet of reactors, so that BAU could continue for thousands of years.

              It turns out, so far, that it is cheaper to just keep mining new uranium then to reprocess the spent fuel. Also, there have been some setbacks in regards to wide scale rollout of breeder reactors.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yes – I suppose they were working under the assumption that we are the great species and that we would eventually figure it out….

              Still… we jumped off the cliff without knowing if there was water below….

              A toxic cocktail of hubris and stupidity….

            • doomphd says:

              The hubris is simply that modern civilization (aka BAU) will never cease to exist, and even if it did cease, it would go away slowly enough that situations with spent fuel in commericial and government reactor facilities would always be under control. Likewise, stockpiles of nuclear weapons will always be guarded by appropriate trained peronnel, as well as all chemical and biological weapons and their production facilities.

              The electrical grid will never fail, and if it did so, the failures would be contained to isoated areas and quickly brought back on line by trained personnel driving electric Telsa ultility trucks powered by batteries charged from solar PV farms the size of modern Spain situated in former CO2-polluting rainforest areas of South America.

              No, there is nothing to worry about, please continue shopping and saving your fiat currency in bitcoin accounts.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Whistling Past The Graveyard – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

        • “Do you understand that that is not my conclusion, that it is in fact the conclusion of the nuclear engineer that wrote the f*&king book. You can imagine anything that you choose, I presented the facts.”

          What you posted appeared to be your analysis, of someone’s book report, of studies that were done. Are you claiming that all of the words that were in your post are extracted from the book? Does the phrase:

          “The fuel that has been stored for more than five years can be dry casked. It doesn’t need water cooling at all. Since it can be stored in a dry cask, it can also be stored in the racks in the pool without overheating.”

          Come from the Sandia report, the book report on the study, or are those your own words that you wrote?

          I am going on the basis that normally, anything in quote marks or in a blockquote is a quote from the source material, and the parts that are not formatted that way are original words by the poster – in this case, you.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘a book’

      Can you provide the title and the author’s name…. I’d like to take a closer look….

      I am wondering …. if all of this is possible….then why are power companies — who are in the business of making a profit — wasting time and money storing spent fuel rods in very expensive facilities…. when they post little or no danger….

      My curiousity is always piqued when I read something that sounds too good to be true….

      • pintada says:

        Dear Fast Eddie;

        “Can you provide the title and the author’s name…. I’d like to take a closer look….”

        The Sandia study was done by:
        Part 2: Spent Fuel Heatup Following Loss Of Water During Storage – NRC Report from the Sandia Laboratories Allen Benjamin, David McCloskey, Dana Powers, Stephen Dupres

        And appears in:
        U.S. Government; Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (2011-03-16). 2011 Nuclear Power Plant Sourcebook: Spent Nuclear Fuel and the Risks of Heatup After the Loss of Water – NRC Reports – Crisis at Japan’s TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant (Kindle Locations 74-76). Progressive Management. Kindle Edition.

        From the abstract of part 2:
        “extremely dependent on the storage configuration and the spent fuel decay period, and that the minimum prerequisite decay time to preclude clad failure may vary from less than 10 days for some storage configurations to several years for others.”

        They continue:
        “For most. of the cases considered, a 3-year decay period is sufficient to keep the clad temperatures within safe limits even when there is no ventilation at all.”

        (No ventilation, and the study was based on a dry pool, so no ventilation, and no water.)

        And then from Part 3 the work at Brookhaven:
        “Based on the previous results we have concluded that the modified SFUEL code (SFUELIW2) gives a reasonable estimate of the potential for propagation of self-sustaining clad oxidation from high power spent fuel to low power spent fuel. Under some conditions, propagation is predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been stored as long as 2 years. The investigation of the effect of insufficient ventilation in the fuel building indicated that oxygen depletion is a competing factor with heating of the building atmosphere and propagation is not predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been cooled for more than three years even without ventilation.”

        Fast Eddie said, “wasting time and money storing spent fuel rods in very expensive facilities…. when they post little or no danger….”

        There is a wide range of outcomes between posing “little or no danger” and killing everyone on the planet. What would the cost be, during BAU, of contaminating an area of 200 square miles in an urban area of the US mid-west or east? Even after the initial property cost was paid for, the power company would be mitigating the environmental effects for the remainder of their existence. That I think is sufficient motivation. Then, there is a tremendous amount of hysteria that surrounds radiation. If even a hint of radiation is detected around those plants, people would demand that heads should roll.

        On the other hand, after BAU, people living 100 miles away would be perfectly safe.

        (Please do not imagine that I think nukes are a good idea. I’m trying to show that these spent fuel pools are not capable of causing extinction, or anything like it. They are dangerous, nasty, stupid things that should not exist. They do not and cannot explode. They cannot scatter lethal radiation more than a few miles. They do not pose an existential threat.)


        • Van Kent says:

          Pintada, whew that was close!

          Any thoughts on sea levels rising slowly and steadily, and numerous facilities being under water eventually?

          • Ed says:

            Since this will take more than three years we will be in the safe state. Sea water will eventually (100 years?, my guess) corrode the metal cladding. Then the radioactive materials will hopefully be buried in mud. If not they will mix with the seawater and dilute.

            ” It has been shown that the uranium concentration of seawater is only about 3 parts per billion, which is about 3 milligrams of uranium per cubic meter. [1] The total volume of the oceans is about 1.37 billion cubic kilometers, so there is a total of about 4.5 billion tons of uranium in seawater. Assuming we could recover half of this resource, this much uranium could support 6,500 years of nuclear capacity. [2]”

            So how does the amount of uranium in all the worlds reactors and spent fuel pools compare to 4.5 billion tons?

            It is a big ocean.

            • Van Kent says:

              Ed, you´re saying its just a millennium, and its all clear, concerning the reactors that end up swallowed up by the oceans?

            • Ed says:

              I am saying unless you are fishing within 10km of a sunk reactor you are good from the start. Yes, within 1000 years the fuel will be dissolved and diluted go ahead and fish on top of the reactor.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              Since I brought up the ocean trench idea here, I see it’s gaining traction as a possible way forward. Sinking a ship full of rods will already put the waste nearly 10 k from the surface already. But if there are 10’s of thousands of rods to sink it’s probably already too late for solving all the waste products that way. A few deep mine shafts could be used as well and be easier to access and be way below the water table. Right now we just sit on our hands, so FE’s answer is the most likely one.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘I see it’s gaining traction as a possible way forward’

              Gaining traction with whom?

              Do you mean that prominent nuclear physicists are on board with the idea of bulldozing hundreds of tonnes of fuel rods into the ocean?

              Out of site out of mind…. until you kill everything that lives in the ocean…..

            • ejhr2015 says:

              “Gaining traction with whom?” Just read the comments. The gain is here in OFW.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You mean with the other citizens of Delusistan who holiday on FW from time to time?

              They don’t matter.

            • “So how does the amount of uranium in all the worlds reactors and spent fuel pools compare to 4.5 billion tons?

              It is a big ocean.”

              The concerns with the ocean is not about Uranium, so much as the strontium, iodine, caesium, etc building up in the food chain. Those radioisotopes tend not to exist in quantity in nature, here on Earth.

            • Ed says:

              Wow that is extraordinary. You can see Hanford and Los Alamos. You can see France use nuclear. You can see someone dumped lots of radioactive material into at least one of the great lakes. You can see the federal government has made a mess of the entire mid-Atlantic sea coast.

            • pintada says:

              Dear Van Kent;

              No, I had not. Very interesting.


          • pintada says:

            Dear Van Kent;

            “Any thoughts on sea levels rising slowly and steadily, and numerous facilities being under water eventually?”

            Actually, Ed inspired me on the subject. While what he says about the size of the ocean is true, my sensibilities have difficulty with the idea. (Not really making sense yet. Hmm)

            The headline would read, “Ecological Disaster in the Ocean”. The article would go on, “This reporter discovered today, that dozens of nuclear reactors will soon be flooded, exposing thousands of sensitive marine species to the damaging effects of uncontrolled radioactivity. The genetic abnormalities and even possible human exposure will be with us for centuries.” It would go on like that for pages – and it would be just as true as what Ed said.

            If BAU continues, the oceans will be dead soon anyway. I read somewhere just today that there is more plastic in the ocean (in tons) than there is fish. Acidification is a much bigger threat to the oceans ecosystem than radioactivity will be after BAU. Coral bleaching … . By the time the planet stops warming 40 years after BAU ends all corals on the planet will likely be extinct.

            But, as you say, the oceans are rising, and will continue to rise for centuries because the ice will continue to melt for many decades (centuries?) after the atmosphere stops warming. So, yeah, many of those reactors on the coasts will flood if not permanently, then every time there is a little storm surge.

            After BAU it’s no biggie I suppose, ’cause even with the radiation, the oceans will be better off. Before the end of BAU if some SOB spills a barely measurable amount of radiation I personally would want his head in a basket.

            Yours in Confusion,

        • Ed says:

          Thanks Pintada. I share your position of nukes are not great but they are not Satan either.

          • pintada says:

            Dear Ed;

            Ed said, “I share your position of nukes are not great but they are not Satan either.”

            I am unable to just agree with a statement like that and just move on regardless how nice it obviously is. It’s a personality flaw, I know, but … I forgive myself. 🙂

            Ughhhgu, , AHhhaah …

            I agree.


        • Spent Fuel Heatup Following Loss Of Water During Storage – NRC Report from the Sandia Laboratories Allen Benjamin, David McCloskey, Dana Powers, Stephen Dupres


          See, Fast Eddy, don’t even need a garden hose. Just drain all of the water, then cut an 80 square foot hole in the roof and open doors / cut holes in walls to the same size, and the spent fuel will convection cool itself. -see Table VII on page 62.

          If the building is not ventilated or a small amount of water remains, blocking the airflow at the bottom, then there could be some real problems. – see section 5, page 73.

          Since this paper is from 1979, it would be nice to know if the baseplate holes have been expanded to 5″, as that seems to be a key improvement recommended in the paper. -page 85

          This is a bit amusing:
          ” The potentially adverse effects of an incomplete
          drainage can be counteracted by drilling air inlet
          holes at various elevations in the lower part of the
          holders. This will permit air flows to circulate
          when the water level drops beneath the location of
          the uppermost inlet holes. ” – page 87.

          Who exactly is going to go around drilling holes? Hopefully, they mean as a modification to be implemented to make all assemblies safer, rather than as a solution for people to be walking around inside the dry spent fuel pond, drilling air holes into the holders.

          • bandits101 says:

            All I see is the usual obfuscating and deflection, characteristic of deniers. It happened with problems with CFC’s, cigarette smoking, sugar intake in diets, CO2 emissions, global warming, species extinction, pollution, deforestation and over population and but not newly so, nuclear.

            • “All I see is the usual obfuscating and deflection, characteristic of deniers.”

              Who and what are you talking about? No one is saying nuclear power is a good idea, and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

            • bandits101 says:

              I was referring to the post you replied to.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            There’s more on this here :


            These measures are not meant to replace the current methods of managing spent fuel (fuel must remain in ponds for up to 10 years — then it can be dry casked)

            They are only measures aimed at temporarily dealing with loss of the cooling water…. and if you read through the measures they require functioning machinery, pumps etc….

            At the end of the day — none of this will be available when collapse hits…. when the water boils off there is not point in trying to mitigate …. the fuel must be re-immersed in water …

            I can imagine the engineers in these facilities — when the power goes down — flipping onto the diesel back-ups….

            Jumping into their cars —- racing home … packing up as quickly as possible …. and speeding away as quickly as possible before the diesel tanks empty…..

            • These oxidation reactions can become locally self-sustaining at high temperatures (around 1000 celsius) if there is oxygen or steam available. – paraphrase from https://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/security/nasrptsfp5.pdf page 39.

              If the 80 square foot hole is put in the roof and wall, the convection cooling will keep the temperature around 400 celsius, provided there is clear air flow (no water at all left in the bottom) and the airflow holes are at least 3″ diameter:
              Page 79.

              So, either keep it full or empty of water, and induce convection cooling, and it will all be ok(ish). Of course, having it exposed to the elements probably increases risks of the water getting dirty, or flammable material like dust and leaves blowing in, or who knows what other risks.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              What could possibly go wrong…..

        • Fast Eddy says:

          As I have pointed out earlier —these systems require BAU support … see the section that requires spraying water onto the fuel rods…. They are temporary measures to deal with an emergency… when BAU is gone the rods will catch fire and it’s game over….

          Fuel rods must be stored in fuel ponds… otherwise they would not be in ponds to begin with.

          We’d just put them into warehouses keep them cool by opening the windows and letting the breeze gently blow across them….

          48,000 Chernobyls is not hysteria — it is an extinction event.

          • “see the section that requires spraying water onto the fuel rods….”

            The spraying is part of the solution in which the water is lost, and ventilation is insufficient. This is mostly a problem during BAU, when regulators will not allow intentional venting – see Fukushima. If you no longer have to worry about getting sued, cutting some vent holes in the building is a lot easier to do.

            The BWRs are probably the hardest part, with their in-reactor SFP inside the dome; cutting a couple 80 square foot holes through 2+ feet of reinforced concrete is a bit of a challenge, especially if you only have a couple hours to do it.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              It sounds wonderful — in theory — which is all that it is — just vent the fuel and all will be well….

              Has this concept ever been implemented in the real world?

              Better still – has anyone tried to implement in an experiment where BAU is not available?

            • “Has this concept ever been implemented in the real world?”

              No, it sets of alarms that panic the sheep. The most important thing is that the vast majority of people remain calm and do not panic.

          • Christian says:

            “Fuel rods must be stored in fuel ponds… otherwise they would not be in ponds to begin with”.

            The rods must be stored in ponds a minimum of x months or years in order to avoid fires. Nobody is denying it.

            “We’d just put them into warehouses keep them cool by opening the windows and letting the breeze gently blow across them….”

            You know your warehouse would be inaccessible, which is against the prime directive of the industry.

            • SymbolikGirl says:

              I’m still reading the paper myself, I was looking for follow-up papers but so far have not found anything directly relating to the subject from these authors. In many ways the arguments we make here is academic; regardless of what any of us think, reality will assert itself and I have a feeling that we will find out how bad the SFP issue truly is within the next few years.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have also been unable to find anything further on this 1979 study….

              Everything I can find — and I have spent hours on this — leads to the conclusion that spent fuel must remain in ponds for years — and that it can then be dry casked.

              One would think that if there were an alternative — it would have been tried – at least on a small scale experimental basis —- I see nothing about that.

              It would be useful to have a nuclear engineer weigh in on this …..

              Although I am sure research has been done as to what would happen to fuel ponds in the event of a complete shut down of BAU …. an engineer would not likely have access to that …. so their opinion on this would not be definitive …. since they would not be able to envision all the impacts of the end of BAU…(and they could never envision the end of BAU)

              At most one could ask — what do you think would happen if the power was permanently cut to a spent fuel pond — and no attempts were made to mitigate the situation i.e. it was allowed to boil dry and abandoned.

            • Christian says:

              It seems your’re right, girl.

              “will find out how bad the SFP issue truly is within the next few years”.

              And you’re somewhat confident you’ll be here to get the lesson. Good luck!

  45. Jeremy says:

    Luxembourg has announced ambitious plans to become a hub for asteroid mining.


    • Jeremy says:

      And since we are having a pseudo-science interlude, here is an ex-American lawman giving the lowdown on missing people in the USA. Did you know that every year around a quarter of a million people are reported missing in the USA? But don’t worry – mot of them are found. Apart from, on average, around thirty thousand people a year, who disappear without trace. That’s around 300,000 a decade – the equivalent of a small city. Mr Witkowski knows where they’re going – he and others have seen the evidence – and he’s very, very angry.

    • Ridiculous!

      • Greg Machala says:

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Right up there with Musk’s hyperloop….

        What does Luxembourg want to do, exactly?

        • It wants “to stimulate economic growth on Earth and offer new horizons in space exploration”.

        • It will invest in companies investigating the field of asteroid mining.

        • It wants to establish a “formal legal framework” so that companies mining asteroids for precious minerals know that they have the right to do so – and can legally sell what they bring back.

        Luxembourg says it has a track record in the sector, thanks to local satellite operator SES, which was founded 30 years ago.

        So when will we start mining in space?

        Don’t expect practical developments any time soon. Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister, Itienne Schneider, says this new initiative will start off with research, moving on to “more concrete activities in space” at a “later stage”.

        Luxembourg hasn’t put a figure on how much it will commit to this new scheme, saying simply it will come out of its budget for the European Space Agency (ESA), which will next be reviewed in December this year.

        > As in it will never happen because it is far too expensive…. but it does calm the sheeple to inform them that in theory ….. our ability to live large is not constrained by our finite world….

    • Ed says:

      This makes sense from a tax perspective. If folks do land resource from space all governments will want a piece of the action. Luxembourg’s claim to fame is low tax rates. Maybe all space resources will be officially property of corporations incorporated in Luxembourg.

  46. Rodster says:

    “China seeks food security with $43 billion bid for Syngenta”

    It appears based on this article that China is all in on GMO food supply because this is the same company Monsanto put in a bid for as well. It also shows how stressed the food supply is in China as the article points out that only 10 percent of Chinese farmland is efficient. This is a scenario where a finite world is hitting it’s limits when it comes to food and water. China here is also in bad shape because at least 60% of it’s fresh water supply is not fit for human contact.

    • “It also shows how stressed the food supply is in China as the article points out that only 10 percent of Chinese farmland is efficient.”

      Yes, I’m sure turning the most productive farmland in the world into contaminated industrial wasteland and sprawling cities is going to bite them in the ass. Imagine, having potash come down in the river every year and fertilize your crops with no effort on your part. Pretty amazingly lucky geography the Chinese got, and squandered.

      • Van Kent says:

        The Chinese also have the problem of their fisheries being over-fished.

        Chinese farmland useless. 60% water useless. Glaciers melting as we speak, so, in many places no water at all, or less then usual. Protein from fish going off the Seneca Cliff as we speak, basic case of over-fishing. Argentina, not being able to export as much as expected to China beacuse of the El Niño floodings..

        When thinking about the global system, for me its the foodprices, not the price of oil, that finally actually breaks this beast. Rising foodprices for the poorest billions means less consumption of everything else, and there we go.

        Record El Niño this year, record La Niña next year, and thats it, food storages depleted, no financial wizardy can transform QE-infinity to fertile plains with good weather or fresh ocean fisheries.

        Also the 1.4 billion chinese are an interesting question in SHTF. Dmitry Orlov put his money of the last populations on earth situated on the great Lena, Yenisei, Ob, Irtysh, Volga and Amur rivers. Matthew mentioned the Ural retreat for the Russian elites. But somehow I see several hundred million chinese moving up these rivers. Its really hard for me to see that the chinese people would stay put. Within one century they have seen several cases of, move and you prosper, stay and you starve. This time I believe several hundred million will just head up north. And with the hordes comes several virulent strains, and then.. oh boy..

        • Rick Grimes says:

          >>>Rising foodprices for the poorest billions means less consumption of everything else, and there we go.

          Do the poorest billions consume anything beyond basic goods?

          I agree with your point but I think it affects everyone that isn’t directly growing sufficient food to cover their needs, not just the poorest.

          I’m wondering how long hospitals will remain functional and how long medical supplies will be available. What does it take to manufacture and distribute heart drugs, insulin, blood pressure meds etc? How many people would be immediately impacted by these services becoming defunct?

          Top Ten Causes of Death

          >>>Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive lung disease have remained the top major killers during the past decade.

          >>>In total, tobacco use is responsible for the death of about 1 in 10 adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.

          And with BAU intact… about 56 million people die worldwide every year.

          Post BAU… those virulent strains you talk of and the struggle to obtain food could overwhelm the health benefits of cutting out tobacco and junk food…

          The people that that die due to lack of medical care may end up being a drop in the ocean compared to deaths from “other causes”.

          I found this page of global counters to be mesmerising…

          $ 430,298,258 Money spent for obesity related diseases in the USA – today
          $ 165,057,789 Money spent on weight loss programs in the USA – today

          $ 39,313,745,999 Money spent on illegal drugs this year i.e. one month

          • Rick Grimes says:

            For comparison…

            578,954 — TV sets sold worldwide today
            4,773,348 — Cellular phones sold today
            $ 175,012,580 — Money spent on videogames today

            $ 9,723,488,270 — Public Healthcare expenditure today
            $ 8,535,128,873 — Public Education expenditure today
            $ 4,232,906,635 — Public Military expenditure today

            And counting…

          • Van Kent says:

            Rick, regarding medical supplies I don´t know how its in other areas, but in southern Finland the situation is:
            – medicine factory, raw materials 1000m2 warehouse, ready medicines 10-20.000m2, not all of them, only the ones in production at the moment. Raw-materials depends on JIT-economy.
            – apothecary wholesale, 2-3pcs of 10.000m2 warehouse space, warehouse inventory turnover about two weeks. I guess its about one per one million people.
            – apothecaries, supplies for a week, stuff constantly coming in
            – major hospitals, maybe a week, two at the most
            – health care centres, maybe a week

            Some places have larger supply rooms, but those are the numbers when the first supplies start to run out.

            The military has its own supplies, but they are mostly for young men, not bloodpressure medicine..

            But hospitals remain operational for years. MDs are very crafty. Well not all of the specialists, but the general physicians are. When medicines run out, MDs will use whatever is left.

    • In many ways, being “food independent” is a lot more important than being fossil fuel energy independent. I saw people plowing with water oxen in China.

      • Rodster says:

        Quite true, Gail. What surprised me was that with all the talk about the Anti GMO movement around the world you’d figure that’s something China would have said no too.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      China’s Water Problems Are Even Worse Than You Think: Report

      According to the United Nations, though China is home to 21% of the world’s population, it contains only 7% of the world’s freshwater supplies. Particularly in its north, the country is deeply parched – so much so that the government last week said it would begin encouraging people to eat potatoes, rather than more water-intensive traditional staples such as rice and wheat, to try and conserve water.

      Prior to the arrival of infusions from the south, Beijing’s per-capita water volume was just 100 cubic meters, 1.25% of the world’s average level. With the water from the south, that figure will go up to 150 cubic meters per person, according to state media reports.

      The UN says a region is considered “water-stressed” when annual water supplies dip below 1,700 cubic meters per person.

      In addition to the physical rerouting of China’s water flows, the report’s authors say that numerous water-strapped provinces end up inadvertently exporting their own water by producing water-intensive goods like coal and livestock that get shipped off to other, wealthier regions. As a consequence of these so-called “virtual” water exports, Mr. Guan says, water-poor provinces find their supplies even more strained.

      Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi and Hunan provinces are the losers, accounting for 78% of virtual water exports, the report says. Comparatively water-rich regions like Shanghai, Guangdong and Zhejiang rank among the top virtual importers. Nationwide, such virtual exports account for more than one-third of the country’s national water supply.



      • Ed says:

        Why do people keep blaming the water, oil, soil? It is all an issue of too many people. China has too many people, just as we all do. Folks, step two after bemoaning too little resources is to move to the solvable issue of too many people.

        • Van Kent says:

          Ed, I don´t see any possibility of a “solvable issue of too many people”. Do you propose a solution? Who does what and to whom?

          • Ed says:

            Government control. First child of a couple is free, second child is a fee affordable by a minimum wage worker, third child is expensive affordable by the 1%, fourth child is 10x the third and so on to as many as the .00001% can afford.

            In places like EU, Japan, and European US this would be no big deal as fertility rates are well below 2. Imposing this on places with fertility rates of 5 would be hard.

            No this can not be done fast enough to fix the predicament we have. But I hope civilization 2.0 picks it up.

            • Van Kent says:

              Ed, if you like slow solutions, why not just offer free education to girls with zero children, everywhere, as long as they want to stay in school? And after graduation easy access to entrepreneur capital for young women with zero children in their 20s, everywhere. Being too busy to have children before 30 are what caused fertility rates to drop below 2..

              Any fast solutions? Anything to actually fix our predicament?

            • “Being too busy to have children before 30 are what caused fertility rates to drop below 2..”

              I think this is a huge factor; in addition to having fewer children per capita, having children later also greatly helps reduce population growth. This would have been an amazing plan, 100 years ago.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              How about subsidies for children are removed beyond child no2? The first two are helped, but by 4 there is no subsidy. Education, however should be free right through the education years for all children.
              Educating women is very effective in lowering birthrates.

            • Ed says:

              Fast solution bio-weapons to kill 99% of the human race.

            • Rick Grimes says:

              >>>Fast solution bio-weapons to kill 99% of the human race.

              Somebody had to say it.

            • Van Kent says:

              Ed, you mean like first lower oil and commodity prices so that tankers everywhere are filled to the brim with commodities (waiting in docks for prices to rice). Then release a new lethal flu virus at some international airport, Denver would d nicely. Wait underground for a month or two. Then come back up again, and go get the tankers filled to the brim with raw materials and oil. Pat each other on the back on a job well done.

              Something like that?

  47. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Video information on California flu. This may turn out to be worse than the Zika virus, because it is now in a city in the Ukraine where doctors cannot access due to the fighting and it is as deadly as the Spanish flu of 1918.