The Physics of Energy and the Economy

I approach the subject of the physics of energy and the economy with some trepidation. An economy seems to be a dissipative system, but what does this really mean? There are not many people who understand dissipative systems, and very few who understand how an economy operates. The combination leads to an awfully lot of false beliefs about the energy needs of an economy.

The primary issue at hand is that, as a dissipative system, every economy has its own energy needs, just as every forest has its own energy needs (in terms of sunlight) and every plant and animal has its own energy needs, in one form or another. A hurricane is another dissipative system. It needs the energy it gets from warm ocean water. If it moves across land, it will soon weaken and die.

There is a fairly narrow range of acceptable energy levels–an animal without enough food weakens and is more likely to be eaten by a predator or to succumb to a disease. A plant without enough sunlight is likely to weaken and die.

In fact, the effects of not having enough energy flows may spread more widely than the individual plant or animal that weakens and dies. If the reason a plant dies is because the plant is part of a forest that over time has grown so dense that the plants in the understory cannot get enough light, then there may be a bigger problem. The dying plant material may accumulate to the point of encouraging forest fires. Such a forest fire may burn a fairly wide area of the forest. Thus, the indirect result may be to put to an end a portion of the forest ecosystem itself.

How should we expect an economy to behave over time? The pattern of energy dissipated over the life cycle of a dissipative system will vary, depending on the particular system. In the examples I gave, the pattern seems to somewhat follow what Ugo Bardi calls a Seneca Cliff.

Figure 1. Seneca Cliff by Ugo Bardi

The Seneca Cliff pattern is so-named because long ago, Lucius Seneca wrote:

It would be some consolation for the feebleness of our selves and our works if all things should perish as slowly as they come into being; but as it is, increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid.

The Standard Wrong Belief about the Physics of Energy and the Economy

There is a standard wrong belief about the physics of energy and the economy; it is the belief we can somehow train the economy to get along without much energy.

In this wrong view, the only physics that is truly relevant is the thermodynamics of oil fields and other types of energy deposits. All of these fields deplete if exploited over time. Furthermore, we know that there are a finite number of these fields. Thus, based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the amount of free energy we will have available in the future will tend to be less than today. This tendency will especially be true after the date when “peak oil” production is reached.

According to this wrong view of energy and the economy, all we need to do is design an economy that uses less energy. We can supposedly do this by increasing efficiency, and by changing the nature of the economy to use a greater proportion of services. If we also add renewables (even if they are expensive) the economy should be able to get along fine with very much less energy.

These wrong views are amazingly widespread. They seem to underlie the widespread hope that the world can reduce its fossil fuel use by 80% between now and 2050 without badly disturbing the economy. The book 2052: A Forecast for the Next 40 Years by Jorgen Randers seems to reflect these views. Even the “Stabilized World Model” presented in the 1972 book The Limits to Growth by Meadow et al. seems to be based on naive assumptions about how much reduction in energy consumption is possible without causing the economy to collapse.

The Economy as a Dissipative System

If an economy is a dissipative system, it needs sufficient energy flows. Otherwise, it will collapse in a way that is analogous to animals succumbing to a disease or forests succumbing to forest fires.

The primary source of energy flows to the economy seems to come through the leveraging of human labor with supplemental energy products of various types, such as animal labor, fossil fuels, and electricity. For example, a man with a machine (which is made using energy products and operates using energy products) can make more widgets than a man without a machine. A woman operating a computer in a lighted room can make more calculations than a woman who inscribes numbers with a stick on a clay tablet and adds them up in her head, working outside as weather permits.

As long as the quantity of supplemental energy supplies keeps rising rapidly enough, human labor can become increasingly productive. This increased productivity can feed through to higher wages. Because of these growing wages, tax payments can be higher. Consumers can also have ever more funds available to buy goods and services from businesses. Thus, an economy can continue to grow.

Besides inadequate supplemental energy, the other downside risk to continued economic growth is the possibility that diminishing returns will start making the economy less efficient. These are some examples of how this can happen:

  • Deeper wells or desalination are needed for water because aquifers deplete and population grows.
  • More productivity is needed from each acre of arable land because of growing population (and thus, falling arable land per person).
  • Larger mines are required as ores of high mineral concentration are exhausted and we are forced to exploit less productive mines.
  • More pollution control devices or higher-cost workarounds (such as “renewables”) are needed as pollution increases.
  • Fossil fuels from cheap-to-extract locations are exhausted, so extraction must come from more difficult-to-extract locations.

In theory, even these diminishing returns issues can be overcome, if the leveraging of human labor with supplemental energy is growing quickly enough.

Theoretically, technology might also increase economic growth. The catch with technology is that it is very closely related to energy consumption. Without energy consumption, it is not possible to have metals. Most of today’s technology depends (directly or indirectly) on the use of metals. If technology makes a particular type of product cheaper to make, there is also a good chance that more products of that type will be sold. Thus, in the end, growth in technology tends to allow more energy to be consumed.

Why Economic Collapses Occur

Collapses of economies seem to come from a variety of causes. One of these is inadequate wages of low-ranking workers (those who are not highly educated or of managerial rank). This tends to happen because if there are not enough energy flows to go around, it tends to be the wages of the “bottom-ranking” employees that get squeezed. In some cases, not enough jobs are available; in others, wages are too low. This could be thought of as inadequate return on human labor–a different kind of low Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) than is currently analyzed in most of today’s academic studies.

Another area vulnerable to inadequate energy flows is the price level of commodities. If energy flows are inadequate, prices of commodities will tend to fall below the cost of producing these commodities. This can lead to a cutoff of commodity production. If this happens, debt related to commodity production will also tend to default. Defaulting debt can be a huge problem, because of the adverse impact on financial institutions.

Another way that inadequate energy flows can manifest themselves is through the falling profitability of companies, such as the falling revenue that banks are now experiencing. Still another way that inadequate energy flows can manifest themselves is through falling tax revenue. Governments of commodity exporters are particularly vulnerable when commodity prices are low. Ultimately, these inadequate energy flows can lead to bankrupt companies and collapsing governments.

The closest situation that the US has experienced to collapse is the Depression of the 1930s. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 would represent a slight case of inadequate energy flows–one that could be corrected by a large dose of Quantitative Easing (QE)(leading to the lower cost of borrowing), plus debt stimulus by China. These helped bring oil prices back up again, after they fell in mid-2008.

Figure 2. World Oil Supply (production including biofuels, natural gas liquids) and Brent monthly average spot prices, based on EIA data.

Clearly, we are now again beginning to experience the effects of inadequate energy flows. This is worrying, because many economies have collapsed in the past when this situation occurred.

How Energy Flows of an Economy are Regulated

In an economy, the financial system is the regulator of the energy flows of the system. If the price of a product is low, it dictates that a small share of energy flows will be directed toward that product. If it is high, it indicates that a larger share of energy flows will be directed toward that product. Wages follow a similar pattern, with low wages indicating low flows of energy, and high wages indicating higher flows of energy. Energy flows in fact “pay for” all aspects of the system, including more advanced technology and the changes to the system (more education, less time in the workforce) that make advanced technology possible.

One confusing aspect to today’s economy is the use of a “pay you later” approach to paying for energy flows. If the energy flows are inadequate using what we would think of as the natural flows of the system, debt is often used to increase energy flows. Debt has the effect of directing future energy flows in a particular direction, such as paying for a factory, a house, or a car. These flows will be available when the product is already part of the system, and thus are easier to accommodate in the system.

The use of increasing debt allows total “demand” for products of many kinds to be higher, because it directs both future flows and current flows of energy toward a product. Since factories, houses and cars are made using commodities, the use of an increasing amount of debt tends to raise commodity prices. With higher commodity prices, more of the resources of the economy are directed toward producing energy products. This allows for increasing energy consumption. This increased energy consumption tends to help flows of energy to many areas of the economy at the same time: wages, taxes, business profitability, and funds for interest and dividend payments.

The need for debt greatly increases when an economy begins using fossil fuels, because the use of fossil fuels allows a step-up in lifestyle. There is no way that this step-up in lifestyle can be paid for in advance, because the benefits of the new system are so much better than what was available without fossil fuels. For example, a farmer raising crops using only a hoe for a tool will never be able to save up sufficient funds (energy flows) needed to pay for a tractor. While it may seem bizarre that banks loan money into existence, this approach is in fact essential, if adequate energy flows are to be available to compensate for the better lifestyle that the use of fossil fuels makes possible.

Debt needs are low when the cost (really energy cost) of producing energy products is low. Much more debt is needed when the cost of energy extraction is high. The reason more debt is needed is because fossil fuels and other types of energy products tend to leverage human labor, making human labor more productive, as mentioned previously. In order to maintain this leveraging, an adequate quantity of energy products (measured in British Thermal Units or Barrels of Oil Equivalent or some similar unit) is needed.

As the required price for energy-products rises, it takes ever-more debt to finance a similar amount of energy product, plus the higher cost of homes, cars, factories, and roads using the higher-cost energy. In fact, with higher energy costs, capital goods of all kinds will tend to be more expensive. This is a major reason why the ratio of debt to GDP tends to rise as the cost of producing energy products rises. At this point, in the United States it takes approximately $3 of additional debt to increase GDP by $1 (author’s calculation).

Figure 3. Inflation adjusted Brent oil prices (in $2014, primarily from BP Statistical Review of World Energy) shown beside two measures of debt for the US economy. One measure of debt is all-inclusive; the other excludes Financial Business debt. Both are based on data from FRED-Federal Reserve of St. Louis.

Clearly one of the risk factors to an economy using fossil fuels is that debt levels will become unacceptably high. A second risk is that debt will stop rising fast enough to keep commodity prices at an acceptably high level. The recent slowdown in the growth of debt (Figure 3) no doubt contributes to current low commodity prices.

A third risk to the system is that the rate of economic growth will slow over time because even with the large amount of debt added to the system, the leveraging of human labor with supplemental energy will not be sufficient to maintain economic growth in the face of diminishing returns. In fact, it is clearly evident that US economic growth has trended downward over time (Figure 4).

Figure 4. US annual growth rates (using “real” or inflation adjusted data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis).

A fourth risk is that the whole system will become unsustainable. When new debt is issued, there is no real matching with future energy flow. For example, will the wages of those taking on debt to pay for college be sufficiently high that the debtors can afford to have families and buy homes? If not, their lack of adequate income will be one of the factors that make it difficult for the prices of commodities to stay high enough to encourage extraction.

One of the issues in today’s economy is that promises of future energy flows extend far beyond what is formally called debt. These promises include shareholder dividends and payments under government programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Reneging on promises such as these is likely to be unpopular with citizens. Stock prices are likely to drop, and private pensions will become unpayable. Governments may be overthrown by disappointed citizens.

Examples of Past Collapses of Economies

Example of the Partial Collapse of the Former Soviet Union

One recent example of a partial collapse was that of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) in December 1991. I call this a partial collapse, because it “only” involved the collapse of the central government that held together the various republics. The governments of the individual republics remained in place, and many of the services they provided, such as public transportation, continued. The amount of manufacturing performed by the FSU dropped precipitously, as did oil extraction. Prior to the collapse, the FSU had serious financial problems. Shortly before its collapse, the world’s leading industrial nations agreed to lend the Soviet Union $1 billion and defer repayment on $3.6 billion more in debt.

A major issue that underlay this collapse was a fall in oil prices to the $30 per barrel range in the 1986 to 2004 period. The Soviet Union was a major oil exporter. The low price had an adverse impact on the economy, a situation similar to that of today.

Figure 5. Oil production and price of the Former Soviet Union, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Russia continued to pump oil even after the price dropped in 1986. In fact, it raised oil production, to compensate for the low price (energy flow it received per barrel). This is similar to the situation today, and what we would expect if oil exporters are very dependent on these energy flows, no matter how small. Oil production didn’t fall below the 1986 level until 1989, most likely from inadequate funds for reinvestment. Oil production rose again, once prices rose.

Figure 6 shows that the FSU’s consumption of energy products started falling precipitously in 1991, the year of the collapse–very much a Seneca Cliff type of decline.

Figure 6. Former Soviet Union energy consumption by source, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy Data 2015.

In fact, consumption of all fuels, even nuclear and hydroelectric, fell simultaneously. This is what we would expect if the FSU’s problems were caused by the low prices it was receiving as an oil exporter. With low oil prices, there could be few good-paying jobs. Lack of good-paying jobs–in other words, inadequate return on human labor–is what cuts demand for energy products of all kinds.

A drop in population took place as well, but it didn’t begin until 1996. The decrease in population continued until 2007. Between 1995 and 2007, population dropped by a total of 1.6%, or a little over 0.1% per year. Before the partial collapse, population was rising about 0.9% per year, so the collapse seems to have reduced the population growth rate by about 1.0% per year. Part of the drop in population was caused by excessive alcohol consumption by some men who had lost their jobs (their sources of energy flows) after the fall of the central government.

When commodity prices fall below the cost of oil production, it is as if the economy is cold because of low energy flows. Prof. Francois Roddier describes the point at which collapse sets in as the point of self-organized criticality. According to Roddier (personal correspondence):

Beyond the critical point, wealth condenses into two phases that can be compared to a gas phase and a liquid phase. A small number of rich people form the equivalent of a gas phase, whereas a large number of poor people form what corresponds to a liquid phase. Like gas molecules, rich people monopolize most of the energy and have the freedom to move. Embedded in their liquid phase, poor people have lost access to both energy and freedom. Between the two, the so-called middle class collapses.

I would wonder whether the ones who die would be equivalent to the solid state. They can no longer move at all.

Analysis of Earlier Collapses

A number of studies have been performed analyzing earlier collapses. Turchin and Nefedov in Secular Cycles analyze eight pre-fossil fuel collapses in detail. Figure 7 shows my interpretation of the pattern they found.

Figure 7. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

Again, the pattern is that of a Seneca Cliff. Some of the issues leading to collapse include the following:

  1. Rising population relative to farmland. Either farmland was divided up into smaller plots, so each farmer produced less, or new workers received “service” type jobs, at much reduced wages. The result was falling earnings of many non-elite workers.
  2. Spiking food and energy prices. Prices were high at times due to lack of supply, but held down by low wages of workers.
  3. Rising need for government to solve problems (for example, fight war to get more land; install irrigation system so get more food from existing land). Led to a need for increased taxes, which impoverished workers could not afford.
  4. Increased number of nobles and high-level administrators. Result was increased disparity of wages.
  5. Increased debt, as more people could not afford necessities.

Eventually, the workers who were weakened by low wages and high taxes tended to succumb to epidemics. Some died in wars. Again, we have a situation of low energy flows, and the lower wage workers not getting enough of these flows. Many died–in some cases as many as 95%. These situations were much more extreme than those of the FSU. On the favorable side, the fact that there were few occupations back in pre-industrial days meant that those who did survive could sometimes resettle with other nearby communities and continue to practice their occupations.

Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies talks about the need for increasing complexity, as diminishing returns set in. This would seem to correspond to the need for increased government services and an increased role for businesses. Also included in increased complexity would be increased hierarchical structure. All of these changes would leave a smaller share of the energy flows for the low-ranking workers–a problem mentioned previously.

Dr. Tainter also makes the point that to maintain complexity, “Sustainability may require greater consumption of resources, not less.”

A Few Insights as to the Nature of the Physics Problem

The Second Law of Thermodynamics seems to work in a single direction. It talks about the natural tendency of any “closed” system to degenerate into a more disordered system. With this view, the implication is that the universe will ultimately end in a heat-death, in which everything is at the same temperature.

Dissipative systems work in the other direction; they create order where no order previously existed. Economies get ever-more complex, as businesses grow larger and more hierarchical in form, governments provide more services, and the number of different jobs filled by members of the economy proliferate. How do we explain this additional order?

According to Ulanowicz, the traditional focus of thermodynamics has been on states, rather than on the process of getting from one state to another. What is needed is a theory that is more focused on processes, rather than states. He writes,

.  .  . the prevailing view of the second law is an oversimplified version of its true nature. Simply put, entropy is not entirely about disorder. Away from equilibrium, there is an obverse and largely unappreciated side to the second law that, in certain circumstances, mandates the creation of order.

We are observing the mandated creation of order. For example, the human body takes chemical energy and transforms it to mechanical energy. There is a dualism to the entropy system that many have not stopped to appreciate. Instead of a trend toward heat death always being the overarching goal, systems have a two-way nature to them. Dissipative systems are able to grow until they reach a point called self-organized criticality or the “critical point”; then they shrink from inadequate energy flows.

In forests, this point of self-organized criticality comes when the growth of the tall trees starts blocking out the light to the shorter plants. As mentioned earlier, at that point the forest starts becoming more susceptible to forest fires. Ulanowicz shows that for ecosystems with more than 12 elements, there is quite a narrow “window of viability.”

Figure 8. Illustration of close clustering of ecosystems with more than 12 elements, indicating the narrow “window of viability” of such ecosystems. From Ulanowicz

If we look at world per capita energy consumption, it seems to indicate a very narrow “window of viability” as well.

Figure 9. World energy consumption per capita, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2105 data. Year 2015 estimate and notes by G. Tverberg.

When we look at what happened in the world economy alongside the history of world energy consumption, we can see a pattern. Back prior to 1973, when oil was less than $30 per barrel, oil consumption and the economy grew rapidly. A lot of infrastructure (interstate highways, electric transmission lines, and pipelines) was added in this timeframe. The 1973-1974 price shock and related recession briefly brought energy consumption down.

It wasn’t until the restructuring of the economy in the late 1970s and early 1980s that energy consumption really came down. There were many changes made: cars became smaller and more fuel efficient; electricity production was changed from oil to other approaches, often nuclear; regulation of utilities was changed toward greater competition, thus discouraging building infrastructure unless it was absolutely essential.

The drop in energy consumption after 1991 reflects the fall of the Former Soviet Union. The huge ramp-up in energy consumption after 2001 represents the effect of adding China (with all of its jobs and coal consumption) to the World Trade Organization. With this change, energy needs became permanently higher, if China was to have enough jobs for its people. Each small dip seems to represent a recession. Recently energy consumption seems to be down again. If we consider low consumption along with low commodity prices, it makes for a worrying situation. Are we approaching a major recession, or worse?

If we think of the world economy relative to its critical point, the world economy has been near this point since 1981, but various things have pulled us out.

One thing that has helped the economy is the extremely high interest rate (18%) implemented in 1981. This high interest rate pushed down fossil fuel usage at that time. It also gave interest rates a very long way to fall. Falling interest rates have a very favorable impact on the economy. They encourage greater lending and tend to raise the selling prices of stocks. The economy has received a favorable boost from falling interest rates for almost the entire period between 1981 and the present.

Other factors were important as well. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 bought the rest of the world a little time (and saved oil extraction for later); the addition of China to the World Trade Organization in 2001 added a great deal of cheap coal to the energy mix, helping to bring down energy costs. These low energy costs, plus all of the debt China was able to add, allowed energy consumption and the world economy to grow again–temporarily pulling the world away from the critical point.

In 2008, oil prices dropped very low. It was only with QE that interest rates could be brought very low, and commodity prices bounced back up to adequate levels. Now we are again faced with low prices. It looks as if we are again at the critical point, and thus the edge of collapse.

Once a dissipative structure is past its critical point, Roddier says that what is likely to bring it down is an avalanche of bifurcations. In the case of an economy, these might be debt defaults.

In a dissipative structure, both communication and stored information are important. Stored information, which is very close to technology, becomes very important when food is hard to find or energy is high cost to extract. When energy is low-cost to extract, practically anyone can find and make use of energy, so technology is less important.

Communication in an economy is done in various ways, including through the use of money and debt. Few people understand the extent to which debt can give false signals about future availability of energy flows. Thus, it is possible for an economy to build up to a very large size, with few realizing that this approach to building an economy is very similar to a Ponzi Scheme. It can continue only as long as energy costs are extremely low, or debt is being rapidly added.

In theory, EROEI calculations (comparing energy produced by a device or energy product to fossil fuel energy consumed increasing this product) should communicate the “value” of a particular energy product. Unfortunately, this calculation is based the common misunderstanding of the nature of the physics problem that I mentioned at the beginning of the article. (This is also true for similar analyses, such as Lifecycle Analyses.) These calculations would communicate valuable information, if our problem were “running out” of fossil fuels, and if the way to mitigate this problem were to use fossil fuels as sparingly as possible. If our problem is rising debt levels, EROEI and similar calculations do nothing to show us how to mitigate the problem.

If the economy collapses, it will collapse down to a lower sustainable level. Much of the world’s infrastructure was built when oil could be extracted for $20 per barrel. That time is long gone. So, it looks like the world will need to collapse back to a level before fossil fuels–perhaps much before fossil fuels.

If it is any consolation, Prof. Roddier says that once new economies begin to form again, the survivors after collapse will tend to be more co-operative. In fact, he offers this graphic.

Figure 10. F. Roddier view of what happens on the two sides of the critical point. From upcoming translation of his book, “The Thermodynamics of Evolution.”

We know that if there are survivors, new economies will be likely. We don’t know precisely what they will be like, except that they will be limited to using resources that are available at that time.

Some References to Francois Roddier’s Work (in French)

THERMODYNAMIQUE DE L’ÉVOLUTION “UN ESSAI DE THERMO-BIO-SOCIOLOGIE” -The Thermodynamics of Evolution – Book, soon to be translated to English. Will at some point be available from the same site in English.

Roddier writes:

This is a talk I gave at the CNAM (Paris) on December 2, 2013. The title is:Thermodynamique et économie ; des sciences exactes aux sciences humaines

In this talk, I show that Per Bak’s neural network model can be used to describe an economic system as a neural network of agents exchanging money. The paper gives a brief explanation on how economies collapse.

The other talk is one I gave in Paris on March 12, 2015, for Jancovici’s Shift Project. The title is:

La thermodynamique des transitions économiques

A video of this talk is available on the web at the following address:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-qap1cQhGA

In this talk, I describe economy in terms of Gibbs-Duhem potentials (akin to chemical potentials). Money flows measure entropy flows (with opposite sign). The cost of energy plays the role of an inverse temperature. I show that economic cycles are similar to those of a steam engine. They self organize around a critical point.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,942 Responses to The Physics of Energy and the Economy

  1. Stefeun says:

    Someone sent me again this 3:30 video by Steve Cutts:

    http://youtu.be/WfGMYdalClU

    Other ones and cartoons on http://www.stevecutts.com

  2. Iker says:

    I was arguing several days ago, that I felt that our fractional reserve banking based financial system was what has brought us to this situation. I think need to elaborate a little bit more on that. I should say, that I have no economy related education, so maybe I could produce a great deal of nonsense.

    The situation we are facing is extremely complex. We are meeting several issues at the same time, all of them already known to whoever riks his mental sanity in this blog. The most important issue at this point of time is oil, but there are others. We can keep extracting oil at ever increasing prices that are no longer affordable for the economy as arranged today. A symptom of that is the sky-rocketing debt level all over the globe.

    The resource situation is the responsible of our problems today. Unless there is some kind of technological miracle or divine intervention, we are spoiled. We can´t go on with whatever we were doing. Excluding the tiny probability of either of the previous two happening, two scenarios break in fron of us: fast or slow collapse. Both will attain sustainability for the resulting system. As I am persuaded that fast collapse guarantees death to everyone, I prefer the second scenario.

    When I think about why its fast collapse going to happened instead of an slow one, I find a mayor reason, the one sponsored by this site: financial collapse will do it. As confidence on the system deteriorates, a point will be reached when we lost our faith on the debts being repaid and so money becomes worthless. As it is money that sticks everything together, at that point economy will suddenly stop. The process has been once and again explained in this blog.

    It seems only natural to thing that if we are going to avoid a fast collapse financial system needs to be modified. The main issue with our financial system is that it is a grow or die system. It can never decrease. That no longer fits with the reality of our world. It was bad from the beginning, but today it is just suicidal. We have reached a point where zero interest rates have been stablished to make debt payable, and still that’s not enough. Now we are moving into negative interest rates in order to force more money creation via debt. And still we cant create inflation, which is precisely what we need to start melting all that gigantic debt mountain.

    To keep the financial alive we need inflation, but we cant really have more debt. The answer seems clear, we need money creation not backed by debt. Maybe also rising bank reserve ratio. This is no new idea at all, but somehow I feel it violates every sacred law of the International Financial System holy temple. Something like this will have to be implemented, at least partially, if we are to overcome financial doom.

    This is not to say this solves our issues. But if we have a crazy monkey driving our car full speed against a wall, we first need to get rid of the monkey. Then maybe we can consider surviving.

    • there is only one way to “create money” and that is by injecting ever increasing energy into the economic system.
      This can be explained very simply, so simply that even a Nobel prizewinning economist can almost grasp it:-

      You stand a hundred men in a circle, give each man a spade, and unlimited access to money–however many billions you want.
      Now each man begins to dig a hole, and sells his dirt to the man on his left, who uses it to fill his hole.
      Meanwhile each man buys dirt from the man on his right.
      There are no restrictions on what the dirt can be bought and sold for.
      The only rule in the hole digging enterprise that if a man stops digging and drops out, he loses his “hole” investment.
      So everybody digs like crazy, and becomes a billionaire in a few hours.
      Then somebody gets hungry, and wants a foodbreak. Then everybody decides they need food.
      But no–that’s against the rules
      The “hole circle” is a closed financial enterprise, and according to current economic theory, passing money hand to hand in exchange for “stuff” increases “gross domestic product”, and enables wealth to be sustained forever, without additional input.
      Unfortunately the diggers and their economists forgot that every enterprise, (no matter how complex and seemingly remote from our prime energy sources of food and hydrocarbons) in order to be fully sustainable, needs constant input of fresh raw energy.
      Without that, all commercial enterprises must fail.

      • Stefeun says:

        Yes Norman,
        that reflects quite well the real estate market, especially in big cities these last years.

        I sell you something for $100, then you sell it (same stuff) back to me for $110, then I sell it to you again for $120, then I re-buy it from you for $130, etc etc. We make lots of money, until…?

  3. Just got to keep that stimulus pumping in Europe or the economy slows down.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-22/europe-s-weak-economy-feels-the-strains-of-the-global-slowdown

    Europe’s Weak Economy Feels the Strains of the Global Slowdown

    The euro area is showing signs of strain from the global slowdown.

    Weaker growth and deeper price cuts by companies, as captured in a monthly report by Markit Economics published Monday, will raise concerns about the health of the economy. They may also increase pressure on European Central Bank policy makers to add to stimulus at their next meeting in March.

    Markit said that its composite Purchasing Managers Index for the euro zone fell to 52.7, the lowest in more than a year, from 53.6. In Germany, manufacturing took a hit from falling overseas demand, while the composite gauge for France signalled “sluggish” economic growth.

    “Not only did the survey indicate the weakest pace of economic growth for just over a year, but deflationary forces intensified,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit in London. The data “greatly increase the odds of more aggressive stimulus from the ECB.”

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its forecasts for the euro region last week, and ECB officials are reviewing whether their current stimulus program is enough to counter global pressure. They’ve expressed concern that a renewed slump in OIL PRICES is adding to risks that low inflation

    becomes entrenched. Markit said euro-region economic growth this quarter may fall short of the 0.3 percent seen at the end of 2015.

    Its German factory index fell to 50.2 this month, barely above the key 50 level that divides expansion from contraction.

    “The German economy appears to be in the midst of a slowdown,” said Oliver Kolodseike, an economist at Markit. Manufacturing is “near stagnation,” he said.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks! More evidence the world market is slowing down.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      When in doubt…. or better still… when staring collapse in the face….

      China Unleashes A Debt Tsunami: Creates $1 Trillion In Debt In First Two Months Of 2016

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-18/china-unleashes-debt-tsunami-creates-1-trillion-debt-first-two-months-2016

      Seems as if the bulldozer may not yet be pushing against a string ….. perhaps what will happen is the string just gets tangled in the track and torn to shreds?

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        The can has been kicked down the road a bit longer!

      • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
        Ed says:

        Until people lose confidence in those pieces of paper printing keeps working to motivate people to work, not to supply energy so people can get things of high value done.

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    That PBS video has gone done….

  5. Stefeun says:

    Back on the article “Complexity theory and financial regulation”
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6275/818.full

    I thought it would be very interesting to have an update of this graph:
    https://d2ufo47lrtsv5s.cloudfront.net/content/sci/351/6275/818/F1.large.jpg

    Where are we today?
    I made a quick research, starting from the original paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842548/) and only found papers faar beyond my capabilities of understanding, but no update of this chart.

    • richard says:

      WOW! Excellent catch Stefeun! The downside seems to be about a year’s reading judging by a quick scan of the links. So far I haven’t seen any numbers, hence it is very hard to understand what is really going on.

      • Stefeun says:

        I think Keith was the one who provided the link to the ScienceMag article.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          In fact, Keith contacted me directly about the article, before I had a chance to see his note in the comments.

        • richard says:

          Apologies. I have difficulty keeping up with the flow.

    • richard says:

      This one looks promising:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412322/
      “The work contributes to the understanding of financial networks, but the methodology is relevant to the field of Complex Networks in general, since it can be applied to detect systemically important nodes in any directed and weighted network.”

      • Stefeun says:

        Richard,
        the paper you link to was written in 2012. I found lots of similar ones that also explain their methodology, but unfortunately nothing about TODAY!
        What I’d be interested in is to know where we are today, on the continued red line of the above graph (what they call “heterogeneous” analysis).

        Note that if such analysis works a-posteriori for the 2008 GFC and shows we could have detected it as early as 3 years before, it doesn’t mean it can provide reliable information about the next crisis ; maybe the critical points and the trigger event will be different, next time.

        • richard says:

          The papers seem to be written with regulation in mind – when to seize a bank _before_ it puts the rest of the system at risk. The papers do not deal with the systemic problems of today’s monetary system, nor of the tendency toward corruption and moral hazard as these are primarily political problems.
          I’m guessing that much of the data could be gleaned from published data on bank stress tests. Some bits of information on leverage could be deduced from bank annual reports, but I do not recall information on linkages being reported.
          If you think about banks collective reluctance to publish bad news, for example, some Italian banks can delay ‘fessing up’ to the public for up to six years, I’d guess that the data was obtained via confidential agreement. I doubt there will ever be anything close to a current view unless banks become more like utilities.
          I’m not sure my thoughts have helped. Bank health is always going to be a lagging indicator of the state of the economy, so you may want to look elsewhere.

          • Stefeun says:

            Sure, the difficulty of getting reliable figures from banks (if ever this sentence is realistic) doesn’t help. One can always consider the situation is (much) worse than they say.
            Actually in the paper I had the impression that they used data from the real actual exchanges, and not from faked self-made reports; but maybe I’m too optimistic(!!).

            • richard says:

              I’m of the view that the data from the Bank Stress tests (eg “Composition of Capital as of 30 September 2011 (CRD3 Rules)” is probably the only standardised databank available. The results for 64 EU banks were published the EBA in a spreadsheet (5.7MB xls) – and from 91 banks in pdf or csv form.
              http://www.eba.europa.eu/risk-analysis-and-data/eu-wide-stress-testing/2011/results
              You want “2011 EU-wide stress test tool for individual results”
              I *think* the links and quantities between banks have been rolled up into data for countries, so some assumptions would be needed to re-create the networs and node valuations.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I agree. But the paper was just published last week. It is kind of soon for updates.

      • Stefeun says:

        The ScienceMag article is very recent, but the paper which inspired the graph is dated 2013:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842548/

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          You are right. Thanks!

    • Nemisis2 says:

      The world is full of very smart people who can tell you exactly why things have happened after the event. The same people become silent when asked to make a prediction.
      Collapse is already in progress, not fast enough for some.

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    A Journey “Inside Assad’s Syria”

    “You will be killed.”

    “Excuse me.”

    “You’re going to be pilloried, lambasted. Yeah, you’re going to be unpopular.”

    That was the conclusion of a colleague, someone with a lot of experience in the Middle East after watching just the opening minutes of my new FRONTLINE documentary, Inside Assad’s Syria.

    “Why?”

    “It’s the very idea of it — going into regime-held territory. Too many people have a view of Syria that this will inevitably challenge. This is an invitation for abuse.”

    Another colleague told me before I left, “You will get the charm offensive. The regime’s best dog and pony show. Potemkin village.”

    Of course I went anyway. Since 2011, coverage of the war in Syria has almost entirely come from the rebel side. Outside of a number of surprisingly repetitive and uninteresting interviews with President Bashar al-Assad, Western reporters have had limited access, especially recently. So five years into the war, life in regime-controlled areas was still largely a mystery.

    I had a lot of questions. What would be people’s prevailing narratives about how the war began and what it was about? Would people make distinctions between different rebel factions? Were people there really supportive of their government’s more brutal tactics, like its use of barrel bombs? How did they imagine the war would end?

    “… Five years into the war, life in regime-controlled areas was still largely a mystery.”

    Mostly I thought it was important to put a face to the people who live there — to know who they were and what they were thinking and feeling.

    The problem I faced as a reporter, though, was that for those few journalists that do get in, there are a lot of restrictions. An itinerary has to be approved by the Foreign Media Department at the Ministry of Information. They grant seven-day visas and assign every journalist a minder. Anytime you travel, you are accompanied.

    I was fortunate to be able to circumvent this.

    The phone call came this summer. After trying to get into regime-controlled Syria for more than a year, I was contacted by someone who asked if we might be interested in seeing some footage taken by a Syrian journalist, Thaer al-Ajlani, a young man with entree into the Syrian military.

    Over the last four-and-a-half years, I was told al-Ajlani had traveled all over the country, filmed many battles, spent time with soldiers, interviewed their commanders and talked to refugees. I told my contact that of course I was interested, but I would prefer to come to Damascus, meet al-Ajlani and do more than see his footage. “We’ll see,” I was told. I was surprised when, within a matter of weeks, I had an invitation from the president’s office. The Ministry of Information would support the trip. But I would not have a minder, and our visas would be open ended.

    The film tells the story of our three weeks there this past summer. I don’t want to spoil here what were for us many surprising encounters and events … from the disturbing to the absurd. But, I can say that I was able to walk the streets and talk to whomever I wished. And I was able to visit officials if I so chose. Some special requests were denied but other serendipitous encounters made up for what we didn’t achieve.

    And for the most part, people were open about their hopes and fears. As to how the war began, they had a consistent narrative: That the protesters that took to the streets in 2011 had legitimate demands, but that the demonstrations were quickly hijacked by foreign backed jihadists. They reject the idea that Western-backed rebels are “moderates” as they are often termed in the US. There is a tendency to conflate all armed groups opposing the regime as sectarian extremists.

    At the same time, not everyone loves Assad. But I had to learn how to listen for that. Their way of expressing this was never to criticize the president directly — that is a line no one dares cross. Instead, people would simply stress their love of Syria. Others might talk about supporting the government, but that “was not because we love the regime” as one man put it, but because “we don’t want the collapse of the state.” They saw what happened in Iraq after Saddam, and in Libya after Qaddafi. They watched as state infrastructure — schools, hospitals, police, water, electricity — crumbled with the fall of central government, and they don’t want to the same to happen to them.
    “… Not everyone loves Assad. But I had to learn how to listen for that. Their way of expressing this was never to criticize the president directly — that is a line no one dares cross.”

    As to how the war might end, “only God knows” is the best answer I heard. It may be the most honest.

    In the end, I came away with one big thought that should be obvious but I don’t think is. That is that the goal here should not be to win, to either vanquish Assad and his regime, or if you are a loyalist, to defeat all the rebels. At this point in the war, it’s hard to see how either objective is attainable.

    The goal should be to stop the killing. Perhaps new borders will need to be drawn, as some have suggested, with some accommodations made for Assad to remain in power for the near term and some accommodations made to grant the rebels some autonomy. Russia’s direct entry into the war presents new challenges, but also new opportunities. Washington and Moscow are at this time exploring the possibility for ceasefires, using leverage with their proxies to stabilize the battlefield and push for a political solution in Damascus. Efforts in the past have failed, but the growing refugee crisis and the specter of even more war is spurring new initiatives.

    This doesn’t address the ISIS problem, but certainly as long as fighting continues between the regime and more accommodating rebel groups, the fight against intransigent militants like ISIS and the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, can never succeed.

    As to whether we’ll face criticism for going, so be it. The saddest thing about Syria is that people have made up their minds. The opposition sees Assad as a monster determined to win at all costs. Loyalists feel they are besieged by foreign conspirators. Both views have some truth to them, but clinging to those narratives is futile. It leads to the kind of rigidity that will only bring more fighting, more suffering, more refugees and more death.

    Martin Smith, the correspondent on Inside Assad’s Syria, is an Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning documentary filmmaker for FRONTLINE. Smith wrote and produced the 2015 investigation Obama at War — about the administration’s struggle to deal with ISIS and the civil war in Syria — and was a senior producer on the 2011 film profiling Bashar al-Assad, The Regime. Smith works with RAINmedia, an independent production company in New York City.

    Watch http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/a-journey-inside-assads-syria/

  7. Don B says:

    ExxonMobil fails to replace production (with new discoveries) for the first time in 22 years.

    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2016/02/19/exxon-mobil-fails-to-replace-production-for-first-time-in-22-years/

    It seems to me that this could be huge.

    • Don Stewart says:

      Don B
      I don’t know how Exxon calculated its reserves. But they are supposed to be a function of expected cost of production and expected revenue. Assuming that the cost of production hasn’t changed much in the last 2 years, but the price has fallen by two-thirds, then the reserves should obviously be considerably reduced…absent any consideration of production. I have heard some estimates that 80 percent of the reserves of some companies have disappeared at a price of 30 dollars a barrel.

      However, I think the companies have considerable latitude in what they consider the likely price in the future to be.

      It’s a little like an insurance company or pension plan estimating whether it has or has not got enough assets to pay the promises they have made. Many companies and plans have used very optimistic forecasts of future returns.

      Don Stewart

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Companies that do not use SEC rules can presumably use whatever prices they choose. Thus, Saudi Arabia and Russian companies can do as they choose when setting reserves.

        This document gives the new SEC rules adopted in 2010. https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2008/33-8995.pdf It seems to use an average price over the last 12 months, considering the price in the first day of the month. There are exceptions, however, if a company has an actual contract for a higher price, if I understand what it is saying correctly.

        It will be interesting to see whether this makes any differences in aggregate reserves as reported by BP this year. Presumably, if part of the costs have already been spent, the question is only whether the average price is sufficient to complete the project.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Several companies were replacing oil with natural gas in the past, so were not really replacing oil before. But you are right–giving up completely is important.

  8. Don Stewart says:

    Finite Worlders
    Another recent speech and publication by Adrian Bejan:
    People like to say that energy and water are two problems, two vital commodities in short supply. Here I draw attention to the emerging literature and physics principle (constructal law) that provide the scientific foundation for sustainability. I show that the sustainability need is about flow: the flow of energy and the flow of water through the inhabited space. All the flows needed for human life (transportation, heating, cooling, water) are driven by the purposeful consumption of fuels. This is why the wealth of a country (the GDP) is directly proportional to the annual consumption of fuel in that country. This hierarchical organization happens; it is natural and efficient. Sustainability is the one-word need that covers all the specific needs. Sustainability comes from greater freedom in changing the organization – the flow architecture – that sustains life. Greater freedom to change the design (from water and power to laws and government) leads to greater flow, wealth, life and staying power, i.e. sustainability.

    http://pratt.duke.edu/news/key-sustainability-flows-water-and-electricity

    A few points from me. ‘consumption of fuel in that country’ would count as US consumption of fuel the fuel used in China to make something exported to the US. Also, I would guess from the article (which is behind a paywall) that Bejan counts electricity as fuel. Such a practice puts Bejan in the same camp as Tim Garrett, who uses primary energy source consumption as the key input. BW Hill narrows the input down to just oil, explaining that oil is the sine qua non for a modern industrial society. I don’t know how Garrett and Bejan might react to that.

    If I had 30 minutes with Bejan in the airport bar I would ask him about the limits to increased flow of fuels. If increased flows are so good, why don’t we behave like bacteria in a petri dish full of sugar? Or…are we behaving that way? And…are there limits on our ability to extract ever more flow of fuels, and how might those manifest and can we predict them?

    Also, Bejan grew up under the Communist system in Rumania, and has a great distaste for bureaucracy. His distaste for rigidity matches Charles Hugh Smith’s distaste for crony capitalism.

    As a reminder, Bejan teaches at Duke during the day, writes thermodynamics textbooks at night, and works on his Constructal Theory on weekends.

    Don Stewart

  9. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Since this is my day to present and defend oddball models, here is some new work by Adrian Bejan, the Duke Professor who developed the Constructal Law after realizing that Prigogine was simply wrong on some points:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/shaenamontanari/2016/02/17/why-rolling-stones-and-elephants-live-longer-and-travel-farther/#6ddbdd183b02

    and:
    http://constructal.org/2016/02/20/like-a-rolling-stone-live-longer-and-travel-farther/

    You should know that Bejan is an artist, which is why his exhibits look so good.

    My question to you is: If humans’ natural condition is fairly good mobility, but their fossil fueled mobility is multiplied by 10X or so, has the multiplication had any impact on our life expectancy. I’m not sure. But I think we should measure mobility not only by the distance we travel, but also the distance that we are able to transport things to us. Which brings us right back to oil…
    Don Stewart

  10. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    This quote from chapter 11 of Mayor, “‘Amazons were the first people to ride horses’, the orator Lysias reminded the Athenians in his Funeral Oration (395 BC).” has captured my imagination. “Amazon” to the Greeks meant one of the female members of the Sarmatian, Sythian, or the other dozens of tribes that grazed their horses in the area east of France, west of China, and north of Syria. They lived in all of what was once called the USSR, and probably more.

    From about 4000BC until at least 200AD they rode where they wanted when they wanted answering to no one but the chieftain that they chose. And if they didn’t like him/her anymore, they got on their horse and rode away, or took over. Imagine going out on your horse with your eagle on your arm, and a couple dogs beside you.

    I’m sure that most of those tribal members never had any money whatsoever – gold that weighed enough to be worth $400 would be a terrible burden that they might just throw away. They probably didn’t even know what money was until things started getting civilized in 600BC or so when some took the time to accumulate some wealth that a modern person might recognize. Ah, but the life, the freedom! And more importantly – the life they led was sustainable! They lived basically the same way for nearly 5000 years. The Chacoans lived sustainably for thousands of years before they started farming. And then there are the Australian Aborigines …

    The only input that the Amazons needed from the natural world was grass to feed their horses, and so that lifestyle might be possible again in the future. If a generation is 30 years, then two generations is 60 (call it 64). If someones descendants can adapt to a life on horseback in two generations, what conditions would need to be met? There are several:

    1. From now until ~2080 the population of the planet would have to go to a sustainable level. At least 6 billion must die – 100 million per year more than the birthrate for 60 years would do that, but how?
    a. Starvation will take the lions share certainly. Despite what our friend Don Stewart would have us believe, there are only a relative handful of people on the planet that can grow their own food, especially without petrol – say 100 million. Many of those will make it, but many of them will not because of natural disasters, raiders and the multitude of other ways a person can get unlucky during hard times. Everyone else will have to find food where they can, and there will be none. So, under the right conditions, starvation can be the mechanism that leads to an adequate population reduction.
    b. Suicide may be very underrated as a way of getting rid of people. For example, if the average valley girl is told that she can never go to the mall, and that her phone will never work again, she will beg for death. Another example, Indian farmers kill themselves because they cant profitably raise anything but Monsanto rice. How much more hopeless will the average person be when he is finally shocked out of delusion by whatever the undeniable event is. I’m betting on 1 billion plus suicides.
    c. Radiation will take out more than a few. I’ve spent time as a volunteer radioactive emergency worker, and I know that an area roughly 30 by 100 miles might be poisoned by a meltdown. So, in Phoenix, the Palo Verde reactor (if it melted down) would irradiate much of the Salt River Valley since the prevailing winds are from the southwest. They call it “spent fuel” because it just doesn’t have the kick that it once did. An overheated spent fuel pond will make a huge mess in the immediate area – say 100 square miles – but kill billions? Never. Somehow, future hunters in North America will need to know that it is unsafe to go anywhere east of the Mississippi, into the Arizona desert, or to California.
    d. Excess heat and lack of water will take out hundreds of millions around the equator. When wet bulb temperatures hit 35C people (all large animals actually) will drop like flys. The wet bulb temperature of areas in the Persian Gulf were well above 32C last summer. AGW will continue at least 40 years beyond the time that we stop emitting CO2 remember, so, yes it will happen. To get a wet bulb temperature of 35C the land area must be close to a large body of water with a surface temperature above 35C with onshore winds.
    e. War is always a great way to reduce populations. The point of these wars will be for resources, not ideology, so I think nuclear weapons would only be used by the looser as a last resort. Usually, hopefully, etc.

    2. This is a big one. The crash must happen soon enough that no methane clathrate eruptions occur. That is, 40 years after the crash, the air will stop warming. Then, the temperature of the Arctic Ocean will need to stabilize below the temperature needed to melt any substantial amounts of clathrates. Once a few billion tons of it melt, it will likely all melt and that will be that.

    3. My hope that Russia will not nuke the US just to be nasty or vice versa is pretty key. I really don’t think that Turanga Leela was correct when she said, “Sure, global warming was real. Thank god for nuclear winter.” It doesn’t work that way. 🙂

    4. Someone hoping that their extended family can make it through the next couple of generations has to get lucky. Really lucky. The odds of survival for people like them are not 1 in 6 billion if they live at the heart of the empire, and all the predictable contingencies have been planned for. So, I guess that their odds of survival as a tribe are as high as 1:100.

    5. As soon as possible after the crash they would need to get some horses and a place to breed them so that the kids can learn their advantages, and the technology needed.

    Given those conditions, someones progeny will ride out onto the plains and hills of west central north america, and might survive for many millennia as free and prosperous as the Amazons of old.

    Sincerely,
    Pintada

    • pintada says:

      Dear Fast Eddie;

      Thanks for pointing out several weeks ago that farming is the root of all of humanities problems. It came as a surprise to me, but after some reflection, yes, the only natural and sustainable lifestyle for Homo sapiens is hunting and gathering.

      Sincerely,
      Pintada

      • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
        Ed says:

        The human population grows as large as it can for the given resources and technical know how. Same for hunting and gathering. People are living on the edge of starvation regardless of the technical level. Nothing special about hunting and gathering.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Hunting and gathering without using very much biomass for fuel is sustainable. Once the population growth rate exceeds 1.0000, then there is a problem–humans start displacing other animal and plants. It is the use of supplemental energy that makes the growth rate unsustainably high. Humans seem to have wiped out whole species, even as hunter-gatherers.

  11. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    I have been reading a little archeology this winter. (I just didn’t feel like working in the wood shop for some reason. I only have about 30 years to get those cabinets finished, so next winter I had better hit it!) The books do in fact relate to doom, so –

    From the introduction of one on the Chacoan culture:
    “I chose to compare the rise and fall of the Southwest’s Chaco Anasazi with then-contemporary America because my students at the university responded to those comparisons in class. Digging deeper into the research, I discovered to my surprise another America underneath the one we portray in our national news and other public media. That America was more fragile, less equal, and far more shortsighted than I had imagined. Thus, I wrote it just as I discovered it—and compared it with the Chacoans a millennium ago. With publication came acclaim from some quarters and dismay from others, who balked at dissecting trends in modern America. Apparently they wanted to believe it was perfect as is. It wasn’t. It isn’t. … “the well-placed have grabbed so much that our structural problems have become even more like Chaco Canyon’s over the fifteen years since the first edition was written. Worse still, most American business elites simply do not know how to manage their banks, brokerages, and businesses as stable, homeostatic entities, so some create risky will-o-the-wisp temporary islands of “growth,” such as debt derivatives.”

    Stuart, David E. (2014-05-08). Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place, Second Edition (Kindle Locations 135-137). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.

    “WOUNDS FROM A BATTLE-AXE IN THE SKULL AND A bent bronze arrowhead embedded in the knee. Obviously this warrior had died in battle. Two iron lances were plunged into the ground at the grave’s entrance and two more spears lay beside the skeleton inside. A massive armored leather belt with iron plaques lay next to a quiver and twenty bronze-tipped arrows with red-striped wooden shafts. Other grave goods included glass beads, pearls, bracelets of silver and bronze, a bronze mirror, a lead spindle-whorl, a needle, an iron knife, and a wooden tray of food. A typical Scythian warrior’s grave of the fourth century BC. Except that this particular warrior was a young woman.”

    “Roman fort Brocavum (AD 200– 300), Brougham, Cumbria, near Hadrian’s Wall (northeastern England). The cemetery had been excavated in 1966 to make way for a highway, but the sex of the skeletal remains was not revealed until more than 30 years later. The female soldiers, aged 20– 45 when they died, had been burned on individual, high-status funeral pyres along with their horses, sword scabbards, objects of silver, glass, and ivory, and a hunk of meat in a dish.”

    Mayor, Adrienne (2014-09-22). The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (p. 82). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

    So … my point?

    More to follow,
    Pintada

    • Don Stewart says:

      pintada
      In the late 1980s I was talking with an officer of the company I worked for. The company had been relatively stable for a hundred years. I began to talk about how to insure continuing stability. The officer looked at me kind of puzzled, and then finally said ‘we get paid based on the stock price, now’.

      The president of Schlumberger made millions in 2015 while getting rid of 20 percent of the workforce. We could debate whether firing people wholesale was necessary, unnecessary or irrelevant….but the fact remains that the rewards to the E suite are disconnected from the notion of ‘long term stability through team effort’.

      Don Stewart

    • hkeithhenson
      hkeithhenson says:

      “reading a little archeology”

      I recommend the works of Azar Gat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azar_Gat and Stevem A Lablanc https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_A._LeBlanc

      Short paper here that is well worth reading.

      http://web.archive.org/web/20100530133845/http://cniss.wustl.edu/workshoppapers/gatpres1.pdf

      I have thought a little about the subject myself. Google Evolutionary psychology, memes and the origin of wars. The peer reviewed copy is behind a paywall, but there is a public version that is close.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        The short paper you link to giving some of Azar Gat’s findings is interesting.

    • pintada says:

      WordPress will not allow my posts now. Maybe there will be nothing to follow. At any rate, I enjoyed writing it, and probably that is enough.

    • imie says:

      I smell gay here, is it you Don Stewart?

  12. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    This guy is definitely my current favorite doomster.

    http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2016/02/18/filling-the-void/

    From the article:
    “People who talk to trees are very unlikely to clear cut a forest. Mainstream society would consider such people crazy. People who reject a linear notion of time, who speak to their ancestors and believe that the past is just as important as the present and the future, do not create economic systems that are predicated upon the infinite growth of material production. Mainstream society would consider such people crazy.”

    Since everyone here is from the mainstream, or still in the mainstream we are all wedded to the notion of linear time, and to the idea that the economy and society must make “progress” or it will collapse. An idea that I find completely true.

    We as individuals have the same twisted view about ourselves: That is, we must grow, make progress and strive for the next new thing/toy, or we fear that we will simply cease to exist. A person that has time to comment here is likely not striving for much of anything. And so, is all the doom talk simply a reflection of each persons fear of death? A fear that has been projected onto the world stage in an effort to bring meaning to our own mortality while making ourselves big?

    And that my friends is the reason to keep watching. Because we will either be proven right in a few months (Grimes gives it 24 months) or we will be proven wrong and at that point will know something true about ourselves … IF

    If we have the courage to face it.

    From our friend Grimes:
    “We must remain flexible. We should make efforts to remain present, and thus committed to the terrain … humans race about, neglecting their spirits and their physical well being to make certain that lines on charts always trend upwards, to fill the black void. In doing so, they close their ears to the song that the Earth sings with every sunrise, to the poetry she writes with each curve and undulation of the topography, and to the ancient wisdom she has joyously written into every leaf, and stone, and star.”

    Sincerely,
    Pintada

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I reckon I am here on a daily basis because I can see the emperor is naked…. but outside of this website everyone else believes he is fully clothed….

      • Don B says:

        So what you are saying then is that it helps to interact with like minded people. What’s about to go down is pretty heavy. The greens and permits like to insulate themselves from reality, but some of us can only see the world as it is. It helps to read and comment if only to help remain grounded.

        • Don B says:

          The auto spell correction feature doesn’t compute greenies or permies very well, but you catch my drift.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          That’s a big part of it.

          But it goes further…

          This site is essentially the only place where one can escape from the matrix – a ‘reality’ that is completely manipulated by the MSM …. a ‘reality’ that is further reinforced by the group think that surrounds us.

          It is a place to test out thoughts that go beyond the issue at hand — the end of BAU — in an environment that is receptive to ‘unconventional’ thoughts and ideas.

          Some participants have replaced one matrix with another (the permies, greenies, PV groupies ….) but there is a core of people here who are in the pursuit of reality.

          Intellectually it is useful and interesting to be able to interact with such people….

          To be the only one in the room who sees the naked emperor is not nearly as fun as having a few others around to share the bemusement.

        • pintada says:

          Dear Don B and Fast Eddie;

          I stand corrected.

          Sincerely,
          Pintada

        • Christian says:

          In my case, even when I was a kid I had some intuitive comprehension of what I later knew is called entropy. The first time I talked to my friends about PO a couple of them told me “you must forget it”. But, as someone has put it here, we have it on our DNA, We have peculiarly structured pleasure and reality principles

  13. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    This post will allow the fast collapse crowd another mechanism at which to point. Of course, our stupid, cowardly leadership will force Apple to put in the back door. The CNBC anchors try to trivialize it, but anyone with a brain can see McAfee is right.

    http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2016/02/20/video-of-the-day-john-mcafee-proclaims-an-apple-backdoor-is-the-end-of-america/#more-31661

    Given the choices available for President – none – McAfee gets my vote.

    Then there is this by Charles Hugh Smith. It sounds like he has weighed in with a prime argument against the notion that there is someone (or some group) in charge of the planet.

    “There is a tradeoff of importance, detail and distance into the future, sort of a Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. The cost of certainty and detail at any future time goes up as the economic importance goes up because so many more people are trying to understand and control that small part of the future. This introduces more variables and more uncertainty because many of those variables will be linked in unknown ways.”

    http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2016/02/think-another-crash-is-impossible-think.html

    Take the two articles together, and it becomes painfully clear … we are on a hijacked jetliner with no pilots.

    Sincerely,
    Pintada

    PS
    I saw Rick Grimes is gone (for now). He made some good points, especially his opening:

    “I want empirical proof either way. There’s just way too many assumptions being made around here on all counts. I’ll believe things when I see it with my own eyes. Everything else is mere amateur opinion, bias, misdirection, wishful thinking, and just plain wrong. Just a lot of toxic sludge being flung around hoping something sticks.”

    He’ll be back. We are nearly all here for the same reason – boredom. And, maybe, there is another reason to keep watching the future unfold …

    • “Given the choices available for President – none – McAfee gets my vote.”

      Well, he’s got the guts to put down his own dog once it was poisoned, and then (allegedly) execute the person who poisoned the dog. Better than having an armchair sociopath sending people into war who has no real world experience. Plus he seems to have a pretty good mind for figuring his way out of a jam, evading police and making it safe back to America. And he’s got a sense of humor. A decent understanding of property rights and cryptography. Heck, if President he might end the War on Drugs and work to legalize marijuana. Not a bad contender.

    • Don B says:

      Pintada,

      I don’t believe it is boredom that keeps readers and posters coming back. I am anything but bored. Speaking only for myself and based on comments I have observered, I submit that this forum is a bit of a ‘support’ group for some. In my case, living in this ultra conservative community which is my home town, there is no one with whom I can engage in discussions such as these. Changing the topic from sports to things that really matter will result in a thousand mile stare. It helps to interact with those that have a clue.

      • if you want a little diversionary mischief—go on a fundie godbothering website and introduce ‘finite resources’ or somesuch heresy
        an inclination towards devil worship would be more welcome

        • Don B says:

          I wasn’t going to go there, but since you brought it up, yes, there is a strong god and guns mentality in my community. A woman I know relayed a story in which she lost control of here car during our last snowstorm. She tells of how she simply let go of the steering wheel and said, “You have it Jesus, I leave it up to you”. Nobody was hurt and there was no apparent damage to the car. How do you respond to a comment like that when others in the group are nodding their approval. She knows that I’m a retired airline pilot so I offered this for her consideration. How would you feel if the pilots left the cockpit and seated themselves among the passengers (presumably in prayer) and exclaimed that the engine fire they were seeing is too much for them to handle, and that they were leaving the situation up to the real copilot, god. Just amazing.

    • InAlaska says:

      Pintada,
      Charles Hugh Smith is correct that there is NO ONE or GROUP in charge of the planet. That myth/hope is propagated by people who wish for there to be answers to the reason why we are in such a predicament. It is easier to believe in a trans-generational cabal than it is to believe in the fact that we just stumbled forward into our own fate through greed, thoughtlessness and the lethal gene of intelligence.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If no one is in charge then how did QE and ZIRP happen?

        • Don B says:

          I just finished watching a great discussion between Chris Hedges and Jill Stein as they talk about who really is in charge.

          http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Chris-Hedges-Jill-Stein-Tackle-Problems-with-US-2-Party-System-20160217-0012.html

        • Jeremy says:

          “If no one is in charge then how did QE and ZIRP happen?”

          QE and ZIRP did not happen EVERYWHERE – not in every country. Where they did, they were decisions taken under duress, as the result of a crisis. Before 2008, ANYONE enacting such decisions would have been seen as a heretic. After 2008, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph regularly lambasted the eurozone and ECB for NOT implementing QE.

          And when the “Elders” of the US and Europe decide they wanted first Georgia then Ukraine, the “Elders” of Russia ferociously resisted. So you see, there are no “World Elders” who make all decisions and control everything in unison. So keep drinking your “Elderberry wine”, Paul – it’s no different from koolaid and kumbaya.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            You are aware that emerging economies are in deep shit because corporations in those countries are up to their eyeballs in USD denominated debt…..

            Where do you think that money came from?

            The whole world does not have to engage in QE — all it takes is a major player like the US to print trillions — and the world is flooded with that money….

            All the major players under the Elders umbrella have been printing — including Japan, the EU and Britain.

            I am on record multiple times stating that Russia and China are opposing the Elders — they have thrown the petrodollar under the bus —- and in the case of Russia they are at war with the Elders in Ukraine and Syria.

            If I am drinking koolaid then for the 100th time — can someone please explain why in 1913… a private company was given the power to print the world’s reserve currency and loan it out at interest by the tens of trillions? Even a retarded donkey could make money running such a business! Someone with a little brain power could turn that into world domination.

            Gotcha. Haven’t I…..

            • Greg Machala says:

              Kinda handy too how the Saudi’s were convinced to price oil in USD too. So, in effect, this gives the owners of the Fed the ability to effectively print energy. Nice.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Convinced …. with the barrel of an M16 against their heads…

              One does not toy with the petro dollar/reserve currency… for that is the key to world dominance…

              The Elders will do absolutely anything to stop the Russians (and Chinese) from trying to steal the key … including shooting down airliners…. arranging for chemical weapons to be lobbed at women and children…. teaming up with ISIS (no surprise there — they teamed up with similar fellas in Afghanistan vs the Russians decades ago…)….

              Everything is at stake here….

            • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
              Ed says:

              Gee, if the BRICSS started a bank and issued credit ( debt at low interest to fund projects that yield long term real returns to their countries and they repudiate all dollar denominated debt they would be in good shape.

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      This is why China now makes all its own electronic devices because they know all American products are sky devices for the deep state/global bankers/self serving closed breeding groups/whoever you think has global scale power.

  14. Don Stewart says:

    Gail
    Two comments currently on the boards at Peak Oil from BW Hill:

    If you have to get rid of your dog you have the wrong kind of dog to start with. With a good dog your hunting efficiency goes up about 1000%. He will also let you know that something, or someone is around a long time before you will know it. A good dog is a survivalist necessity; that is why humans have had a close association with them for the last 10,000 years.

    and responding to:
    “The US Economy Has Not Recovered And Will Not Recover”
    The headline says it all. Now, bring on the denials, Americans.”
    with:
    “The World Economy Has Not Recovered And Will Not Recover”
    Now bring on the denials inhabitants of Plant Earth.
    We are all going down the tubes on this one!

    Do you see any essential difference between the prognosis you offer and the prognosis implied in the Etp model?

    Don Stewart

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      Hill is EROEI, Gail is debt and failure of the financial system causing collapse before EROEI has its chance to cause collapse.

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Right.

  15. Don Stewart says:

    Finite Worlders
    For a different opinion on what it takes to foster a sea-change, see Kurt Cobb’s essay today:
    ‘Language, imagery and symbols are the main tools for coordinating human action. Political ecology as a field of study has created a scaffolding upon which the words, phrases, images and symbols needed to invite action can be displayed for all to see. ‘

    [I was more skeptical about the ability of ‘language, imagery, and symbols’ to move us from one Attractor to a different Attractor.]
    Don Stewart

  16. Don B says:

    Testing. My replies are not appearing. Have I been voted off the island?

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Some get caught in the spam filter, and have to be let out.

    • “testing”

      This one appeared. Could be browser or website issues.

  17. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    An essay on collapse, sustainability, entropy production, King Hubbert, and forest gardening. Based on some thoughts in Dave Jacke’s book Edible Forest Gardens, plus other gleanings.

    ‘The ultimate goal of forest gardening is not only the growing of crops, but also the cultivation and perfection of new ways of seeing, of thinking, and of acting in the world.’

    If acting is at the end of a chain…
    Seeing prompts thinking which prompts acting
    and if seeing requires the construction of something which can be seen, then how much energy is required to prompt the neural changes which cause a different kind of behavior? Is the energy the .00001 watts (or similarly ridiculously small number) I previously quoted? Or is the energy what is required to construct the different environment? And what does this have to do with the Sapience which George Mobus finds woefully missing from Home Sapiens?

    ‘To create and maintain an ecosystem like this, homogeneity and standardization, that is, monocultures, are required.’

    ‘Ecosystems like this’ means the industrial, urban and suburban, and industrial farming society which is now ‘normal’. But we know that monocultures are NOT nature’s way of doing things, and that maintaining monocultures is enormously costly of energy and destructive of the environment.

    So…if the currently normal created environment is not sustainable, how much disorder must be generated to get people to see, so that thinking and acting will change. David Holmgren has been laboring for a decade or more to persuade people that ‘retrofitting the suburbs’ is possible. He is currently writing a book on the subject. When he and his wife built their current residence, he thought that people would flock from the cities in order to see how good life in could be in a radically different constructed environment. He admits he was wrong on that point. Think about Carroll Reed’s movie The Third Man. Made in bombed out central Europe shortly after the end of WWII, Reed shows us Nazi’s who are waiting for the Reich to re-emerge. Hitchcock bases his movie Notorious on the same notion…Nazis biding their time in South America, waiting for another chance. What would it take to convince Wall Street that it had all been a gigantic mistake? In his last conversation with Charles Hugh Smith, Chris Martenson relates his partner Adam Taggart’s experience attending a party in California which was reminiscent of the party in The Great Gatsby…unbelievable ostentation of wealth. Berlin has not yet been reduced to rubble….

    IF the destruction MUST BE enormous in order to bring about different ways of seeing and thinking and behaving, then how much entropy must be generated? How much of the present ecosystem must be reduced to rust and rubble? And the production of so much disorder means that most of what passes for wealth will simply disappear. No amount of money printing can save it….although money printing can be used to support class warfare.

    If much of the present infrastructure must be destroyed to change the seeing and thinking and acting, then where will we get the energy needed to build a different ecosystem based on radically different infrastructure? I think Hubbert’s statement is correct…absent some deus ex machina in the form of a miraculous new energy source. So the next question is whether BW Hill’s model correctly times the ‘Hubbert moment’ as right about now. (If there are other models which address the issue of the timing of the Hubbert Moment, I am not familiar with them.) And if coal and natural gas are also facing the effects of depletion, then where will we get the energy? It looks like we are back to relying on photosynthesis. But we have used fossil fuels to greatly constrict the ability of the portions of the Earth which are most suitable for the production of things which humans need to actually support photosynthesis. (For example, fragmenting forests and compacting the soil and killing microbes).

    I was eavesdropping on some professional therapist chatter a couple of days ago. How do you get the patient to do what they need to do to heal themselves?
    *You are in pain
    *Here is a scientific study with real people who demonstrated their ability to heal themselves
    *Here is the program and the timeline for healing
    *Are you IN or are you OUT?

    While I think that the therapists are on to something, we should also recognize that human behavior and the economy are a complex system. Things won’t be as easy as you might surmise from looking at that simple prescription. Powerful forces will be arrayed to keep BAU in place.
    *The boundaries may be drawn to narrowly by the therapist. (See footnote 1 below)
    *People are social creatures, and are trapped by societal norms
    *People are trapped by the Capitalist System doing what it does (e.g., the ‘tobacco strategy’ as applied by Exxon to combat the AGW science)
    *We are already in such Overshoot that the forces of collapse will overwhelm most intelligent seeing, thinking, acting

    My scenario for what MAY be possible is as follows. I don’t assign a really high probability to it. But it might have prescient elements in it:
    *Only small groups who are able to create a ‘forest garden ecosystem’ will avoid the traps set by society and Capitalism and not die grieving for their lost ‘wealth’. These small groups will probably be in remnants of 150 Strong, having managed to carve out a niche for themselves which is not in the direct path of the entropic collapse. They also have to be lucky.
    *As an alternative, it is possible that John Michael Greer and others may be right that we face more a ‘decline of the Roman Empire’ scenario, where getting out of Rome and tending your farm may be a good strategy.
    (I use ‘forest gardens’ in an expansive sense, to encompass any system which takes advantage of the particulars of an ecosystem to construct a sustainable social and economic system.)

    Don Stewart
    Footnote 1. Consider the question of fat in the diet. Decades ago science was used to scare people into ‘low fat’ diets. The worm has now turned, and new books proclaim ‘Eat Fat, Lose Weight’. One of the underlying themes of the ‘high fat’ movement is that fat soothes the hormone system, which quiets the urge to eat sugar and flour, which are deemed to be the root causes of the inflammation which causes heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disease, brain disease, and obesity.

    Please read this short essay by Marjory Wildcraft on the scarcity of fat in Nature. A fat animal which is subject to predation just doesn’t last very long in the wild. The production of a fat animal requires a confined animal protected from predation and fed a diet high in sugar (grains, most likely) so that it will put on fat.

    http://growyourowngroceries.org/extreme-agri-tourism-off-the-grid-with-the-tarahumara-indians-chapter-11/

    If you can take a Tarahumara out of the wilderness and put them in a Mexican city with industrial food with a scientifically identified mix of fat, salt, sugar (grains), and artificial flavors, then you will completely change the Attractor which their bodies circle around. You also completely change the social and economic Attractors which define their lives. And the Tarahumara living in the wilderness prize what little fat they can get because fat carries the flavors. And flavors tickle our hormonal reward systems. A life lived without hormonal rewards we label as ‘depression’.

    As for what it takes to produce a lean American with low inflammation, I remain skeptical. Marathon runners can be lean but also have inflammation which kills them. Whatever the solution is, the boundary must be set so that there are abundant rewards. One female therapist I know recommends ‘more sex’ with no need for Viagra.

    • Don, this may interest you and other FWorlers here, aka Fast Eddy, these rat eaters of India. I saw them on a National Geographic special years ago as an untouchable caste whose main function in society was to round up (pun intended) field rodents from small landholder farmers after crop harvest. They would have a bomb fire from the crop stubble
      and directly place whole carcass on the flames and consume the body. Not for the faint of heart.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfC7KvXbXGc

      Another National Geographic video
      How 2 rats become 15,000 in a year!
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RJA4IW_pkeo

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Like I have been saying…. anyone who makes it through the collapse…. will wish they had perished.

        • But Fast Eddie, these rat eaters won’t know the difference at all…for them it will be BAU.
          LOL…they will be living large as all these rodents will be gorging on dead humans…their population may actually INCREASE!

      • Don B says:

        In another such televised special, the topic was eating insects. The feature was filmed at a southeast Asian school where the school lunch program consisting of almost entirely cooked crickets aND some rice. Casserole dishes piled high with crickets were served to the children who devoured their servings like an American kid being served French fries. The film crew tried small samples and reported it that it tasted pretty good.

    • Don B says:

      Don Stewart,

      Dr Caldwell Esselstyn would have his patients, or other followers, get off of ALL oils. His reasoning is that oils have no nutritional value whatsoever, but do damage the endothelium cells, that single cell layer in our arteries and blood vessels responsible for their pliability. Dr Esselstyn mentions the Tarahuman, among one or two others, as tribes where vascular disease and heart disease are virually unknown.

      I am but a study of one, but I can report that at the 6 week point I have lost all cravings for meats and oils. Except for fish and dairy, I had already been meatless for years. That last step to veganism was a very easy step for me to take. You don’t need oils for anything in food preparation. The food tastes great. It’s only a matter of making the adjustment. I’ll just leave it there for OFW readers to check out for themselves.

      Actually Don, this was infomation gleaned from a link you posted in an earlier topic thread that motivated me to take the next step. You probably already know all about Dr. Esselstyn.

      Don B

      • Don Stewart says:

        Don B
        Glad to be of help…Don Stewart

      • Ert says:

        @Don B

        I’ve gone the same way. No refined Oils… as oils are embedded in all the foods we eat. I consume some seed (flax, sunflower, hemp) and some nuts for oil (never separate the fibers and the rest from the oils…).

        Works pretty well – as it is proven by tons of (empirical) studies and scientific research. Also good to read are Dr. Campbell, Barnard, McDougal, Greger.

        Realizing these ways (plant based diet) – it is even much simpler for me to head towards a garden and (partial) food self sufficiency.

  18. Don B says:

    Stilgar,

    My post to your reply vanished. Take 2.

    A friend just sold her home in Jerusalem Valley and is quite happy to be closing escrow this week. After having been evacuated 3 times last summer, she sees the trend and is leaving California for good. She got her asking price too, so it seems that there is no shortage of climate deniers still out there. I understand that grass fires are already breaking out. You got just enough rain to green up the grasses and star thistle, but not enough to make a dent in the drought. This summer could bring another bad fire season to CA.

    Be well,
    Don B

    • Wow Don B., evacuated in all 3 of the major fires! – must have been hell, and can well understand her happiness from selling. I hadn’t heard of any grass fires yet, as all the grass is short and very green, but I’m sure it’s possible in some areas. There has been what I would call a normal year’s rainfall amount but certainly not the El Nino crescendo downpours predicted. Our position regarding whether to stay or not is that last year was an outlier year of fires after many years of drought, but I’ll tell you, if anything remotely happens in a similar manner again I’ll be lobbying the wifey to skedaddle north. For now it’s really difficult for us to go far from here because of all the specialized sub-contractors we need in this area.

      As a side note, the Ranchos got burned so bad in the 3rd fire, the Valley Fire, that State Farm will no longer insure houses in that area. If the fire situation keeps remaining bad in CA, look for more stories like. The trouble with that is how the heck does one sell of the house cannot be insured for fire? What does the mortgage company do if suddenly there is no insurance? Call the loan due? But this year in our area anyway, should not be a big fire hazard since we at least got normal rainfall amounts and much of the fuel is already gone. I’ll update as conditions change.

  19. Swiss Coaching Partners – Zug, Switzerland – e-mobility Infrastructure, e-vehicles, corporare sharing to perform a low carb society
    Swiss Coaching Partners says:

    I am very happy you referring to François Roddier!

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I think you first introduced me to François Roddier, back in March 2014. I have received much help from many people over the years. I want to thank all of you!

  20. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    So…I am not so doomerish about banks as most people here…I think there are workarounds…it’s only bits, for goodness sake. (The current initiative to eliminate cash is relative.)

    Then why do I expect a lot of people to die?

    “So long as oil is used as a source of energy, when
    the energy cost of recovering a barrel of oil becomes
    greater than the energy content of the oil, production
    will cease no matter what the monetary price may
    be.” (M. King Hubbert)

    It is very hard for people to get their minds around the idea that a high price does not necessarily solve the oil problem. It is also hard for modelers to deal with the ‘energy cost of the society which turns the oil into useful products’ question. What I think we can confidently predict is that when the energy cost of producing oil with the society we have becomes greater than the energy content of the oil produced, there will be a reset to a much lower energy consumption Attractor. Resets are by nature disruptive, and many people will not adapt easily or at all. Oil is certainly not the only place we need a reset, but it is adequate to trigger a crisis.

    Don Stewart

    • Don, please give us some links you have regarding raising insects for food, along with tastie recipes that make the dish palatable.

      • Stefeun says:

        Vince,
        In France we have a start-up named Micronutris (excellent name choice, imo), that raises flour-worms and other insects (cricket-type) and sells them grilled. I tried that and found it rather tasty.
        They’re also developing pasta and cookies, see http://www.micronutris.com/fr/accueil

        • Sounds relish, when I was a tropical fish hobbyist raising chiclids and other species, meal or flour worms were easy to propigate using Wheaties and some moisture. Also, raising fish is very easy in small ponds that require very little time. I also remember Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison, in an old cassette tape talk I still have somewhere telling the audience he could feed a person from an apartment space. So, this business fuss about all this regarding soil, twitch grass, roundup, GMO, ect. Folks make a big deal about everything because of the what Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) called the discriminating mind. Bon Appétit.

      • Wow $100 per Kg for Locust Flour. Definitely some opportunities there. The big question is, is it insane mark-up on a niche product, or is it indicative of the actual cost of making food from insects?

        http://www.thailandunique.com/locust-flour-powder

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I would argue that the use of oil will stop long before the energy cost of extracting the oil exceeds the energy content of the oil. It will stop when the networked system that enables the extraction of oil fails. This generally happens when there is not enough energy to run the economy as a whole–this can be described in several ways: energy per capita starts falling; wages of non-elite workers begins to fall; the price of oil falls below the cost of extraction; demand for oil starts falling because of affordability issues.

      What Hubbert should have said is, “IF USAGE OF OIL AS AN ENERGY SOURCE HAS NOT STOPPED BECAUSE OF AFFORDABILITY PROBLEMS, when the energy cost of recovering a barrel of oil becomes greater than the energy content of the oil, production will cease no matter what the monetary price may be.”

      Hubbert identified one thermodynamic limit–the EROEI limit. The confusion occurs because this is not the first thermodynamic limit. He was at least somewhat ahead of the climate scientists who insist that we will burn all of the oil in the ground, regardless of EROEI.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Gail
        I don’t know exactly what Hubbert had in mind. But if we give an expansive meaning, then ‘becoming an energy sink’ involves not only the energy cost of producing oil at the well head and distributing products to the pump, but also operating the economy which uses the products purchased at the pump to produce things which are actually useful, such as food and transportation and space heating and artificial light. Hill’s model encompasses both of those issues. Hill’s model produces ‘peak GDP’ right about now. So I think we can say that a modern thermodynamics analysis is broader than a simple-minded EROEI calculation. (I don’t want to offend any EROEI people…just focus on WHAT needs to be calculated.)

        While you and Hill predict about the same thing, your methods are different. Hill has a very compact set of equations. You use a more heuristic approach. I don’t have any quarrel with looking at our situation using both methods. It’s like doing an epidemiological study on populations vs. analyzing metabolic pathways in the laboratory. Both are useful.

        I’ve covered that line of thought on a number of occasions, here.

        Don Stewart

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          An awfully lot of people have taken Hubbert literally, and based on his statements, have come up with a very misinformed view of what is ahead.

          The issue isn’t just that you need a higher EROEI to make the system work; you need a different EROEI for each energy product. Also, adding debt can temporarily make it look like an EROEI is really “working,” when it is not. Charles Hall has suggested that we need factors of 5:1 or 10:1 to make the system work, but this is likely far too low, even for products that don’t generate big debt requirements.

          As far as I can see, if the theory is going to work at all, it works for a changing worldwide mixture of energy products, and a changing worldwide mixture of types of production for those energy products. It also depends on debt.

          BW Hill doesn’t look at any of these things. Instead, he comes up with something that is pretty far removed from what anyone else calculates, from an EROEI perspective or otherwise.

          • Creedon says:

            It would be my belief that we are already at a place where debt is making it look like the system is working when it no longer is. The system is no longer accountable.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              Right. In fact, we seem to have been in such a place, for quite a long time now–probably since the 1970s.

              Everything I can see says that the average EROEI needs to increase over time, to prevent collapse, because diminishing returns are happening so many other parts of the system at the same time. Also, the total quantity of energy needed to run the economy keeps rising, because population keeps rising, and energy needs are really per capita. When you put that together with EROEI being too low in the 1970s, it means that if you want to use EROEI as a cut-off at all, you really need a high threshold.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Gail
            BW Hill can use his model to derive EROEI. He does not begin with detailed forensic analysis trying to figure out what EROEI is. His estimates of EROEI are, if I remember correctly, around 9 to 1. Not that far off what the forensic guys come up with. He uses the comparison of his derivation with the forensic evidence to confirm that his model is reasonable.

            As far as the mix of energy sources. Hill has this to say in the Q and A section on Peak Oil:
            “This boundary make-up allows other energy, and mass transfers to be considered as exchanges, such as natural gas used in refining, electricity used in well pumping, or water used for reservoir injection. The boundary conditions are shown in Diagram #1.”

            Take a good look at that diagram. It does not exclude the input of other energy sources. It says that if they are used they must be subtracted from oil’s energy budget. We are working from the assumption that petroleum’s primary benefit is as an energy source, and as Hubbert said:

            “So long as oil is used as a source of energy, when
            the energy cost of recovering a barrel of oil becomes
            greater than the energy content of the oil, production
            will cease no matter what the monetary price may
            be.” (M. King Hubbert)

            Simply put: in total oil must be able to support its own production, from an energy perspective, to be a commercially viable commodity. If other energy sources were required to produce petroleum beyond the energy content of the petroleum, it would have little, or no market value.’

            I agree that Hill has done something different. He is also one of the few people who predicted a price decline. When the work was done showing an imminent decline in price, and the imminent end of the Age of Oil, the Group was reluctant to publish their findings. Then you published a prediction of price declines. They decided that they should put their findings out to the public. In other words, two different groups using different tools have arrived at a very similar conclusion. Hill has written the history of that in the Q and A section.

            One of the reasons the Hill analysis is different is that it does not use conventional economics. It DOES NOT assume that there are plenty of substitutes for oil, so demand and supply curves should function as advertised. It explicitly assumes that oil is a sine qua non for the existence of the global industrial system. Since oil is both essential and also eats its own tail, the dynamics are not what a naive person might expect.

            Some people have approached the EROEI question as answering questions such as ‘is it now economical to substitute solar for oil’, or ‘biomass for oil’. Hill’s model does not ask or answer those questions. It boldly assumes that oil is a sine qua non. The evidence that Hill puts in front of you is the Etp model, and its fit to historical data.

            Don Stewart

            • Don Stewart says:

              Gail
              Hill’s model also doesn’t work like Econ 101 models of monopoly. Monopoly models assume that the economy can generate purchasing power independently of the product which is a monopoly. For example, a toll bridge which has been granted a monopoly. The equations describing how the bridge crossing will be priced were worked out hundreds of years ago.

              But, to my knowledge, few people looked at the question:
              If the toll bridge collapses, and that was the only way to get products to market, what will happen to the larger economy?

              Don Stewart

          • bandits101
            bandits101 says:

            I can’t help but look at EROI from a very simplistic viewpoint.
            If all the debt and monetary problems went away tomorrow and we we were left with what remains of our energy resources right now, what would be the limiting factor for producing, refining, distributing and even marketing said resources. There is nothing except deception, that would allow energy to be distributed for a greater energy cost than the energy cost of production.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              True. But total cost of production is also a limit. Usually, companies will stop producing a product when it is no longer profitable to produce the product. They will also stop production when they can no longer borrow enough funds to keep operations going. The EROEI limit is useful if you are arguing with people who think that it is possible to pull 100% of the oil out of the ground. But if you are looking at real-world limits, affordability and credit limits come first.

      • Interesting graphic, Gail. That running out of oil/fuels certainly deserves to be on the far right, and pushed as far as the eye can see to the distant right. The running out of oil bit is the peak oil denier’s go to defense, even though it doesn’t pass the smell test. They need something guttural, emotional, irrational to hold on to, otherwise they’re trying to fight a rationally, logical argument about the financial knock on effects from a depleting finite resource they know they can’t possibly win.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Right. When I was at a meeting a few years back, one of the high level executives associated with the IPCC report gave a strong statement about how it was certain we were going to burn every bit of fossil fuel in the planet, if steps were not taken to prevent this from happening.

  21. The following was copied from The Automatic Earth, which is a good refresher of recent year’s events that have led us to this point in time:

    The US economy died when middle class jobs were offshored and when the financial system was deregulated. Jobs offshoring benefitted Wall Street, corporate executives, and shareholders, because lower labor and compliance costs resulted in higher profits. These profits flowed through to shareholders in the form of capital gains and to executives in the form of “performance bonuses.” Wall Street benefitted from the bull market generated by higher profits. However, jobs offshoring also offshored US GDP and consumer purchasing power. Despite promises of a “New Economy” and better jobs, the replacement jobs have been increasingly part-time, lowly-paid jobs in domestic services, such as retail clerks, waitresses and bartenders.

    The offshoring of US manufacturing and professional service jobs to Asia stopped the growth of consumer demand in the US, decimated the middle class, and left insufficient employment for college graduates to be able to service their student loans. The ladders of upward mobility that had made the

    United States an “opportunity society” were taken down in the interest of higher short-term profits. Without growth in consumer incomes to drive the economy, the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan substituted the growth in consumer debt to take the place of the missing growth in consumer income. Under the Greenspan regime, Americans’ stagnant and declining incomes were augmented with the ability to spend on credit. One source of this credit was the rise in housing prices that the Federal Reserves low interest rate policy made possible.

    Consumers could refinance their now higher-valued home at lower interest rates and take out the “equity” and spend it. The debt expansion, tied heavily to housing mortgages, came to a halt when the fraud perpetrated by a deregulated financial system crashed the real estate and stock markets. The bailout of the guilty imposed further costs on the very people that the guilty had victimized. Under Fed chairman Bernanke the economy was kept going

    with Quantitative Easing, a massive increase in the money supply in order to bail out the “banks too big to fail.” Liquidity supplied by the Federal Reserve found its way into stock and bond prices and made those invested in these financial instruments richer.

    Corporate executives helped to boost the stock market by using the companies’ profits and by taking out loans in order to buy back the companies’ stocks, thus further expanding debt. Those few benefitting from inflated financial asset prices produced by Quantitative Easing and buy-backs are a much smaller%age of the population than was affected by the Greenspan consumer credit expansion. A relatively few rich people are an insufficient number to drive the economy. The Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy was designed to support the balance sheets of the mega-banks and denied Americans interest income on their savings. This policy decreased the incomes of retirees and forced the elderly to reduce their consumption and/or draw down their savings more rapidly, leaving no safety net for heirs.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I completely disagree.

      All of these actions described were aimed at keeping BAU from collapsing.

      It is rather naive to think that the Elders were enacting these policies to enrich themselves…. they own the Fed …. money is irrelevant to them except that it allows them to exert control.

    • Yoshua says:

      The aim was to create a post-industrialized society, a new economy would emerge and replace the industrialized economy ? International Banks and Trans-national Corporations who control global finance and own the patents and the technology of the modern economy would outsource their production into low-cost nations ? Then came the dotcom bubble, followed by the Sub-prime crisis. It didn’t turn out exactly as they had expected, but the U.S is the leading nation in Information technology and Silicon Valley is the Mecca of this post-modern economy. The service sector with low-wage jobs has absorbed the rest of the workforce.

    • bandits101
      bandits101 says:

      The US seemed to resist globalisation for a short while but eventually drank the koolaid…….offshoring was a natural consequence…….I guess it was the ultimate example of can kicking, a way to exploit remaining resources, not the least human.

    • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
      ejhr2015 says:

      Of that QE money $2.4 Trillion is just sitting in the Fed because the commercial banks don’t have enough worth while jobs to lend it out. The Fed gives these a better rate of interest – which at 35 basis points is not much.
      Compare that to $104 Billion in required reserves, a drop in the bucket by comparison.

    • hkeithhenson
      hkeithhenson says:

      “when middle class jobs were offshored”

      This was a continuation of the fallout from the invention of the lowly cargo container. Before they were invented the cost and losses made local production of (for example) clothing necessary. The cargo container lowered the shipping cost so much that labor to make shirts suddenly was in world wide competition–and it went to places with low labor costs. I really don’t think anyone anticipated the effects cargo containers would have.

      • bandits101
        bandits101 says:

        Yes transport costs certainly did aid in the continuance of globalisation. At one stage in the seventies talk was of one million ton supertankers. The canals and ports probably put a stop to that nonsense. Peak ships is also a consequence.

  22. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ceraweek-saudi-idUSKCN0VU06I

    Maybe the Saudi’s are getting impatient with the slow reduction in US fracking, as Saudi’s plan to visit with US oil producers. Hmm, are the tables being set for a global agreement to slow oil production?

    • psile
      psile says:

      The Saudis need more production than ever to make good on their budgetary commitments. 10 million men under 35 must be placated! I doubt they will cut anything but by a token amount as long as the world economy is so weak that it cannot afford substantially more expensive oil. And that will probably be for quite a long time to come…quite a long time…

  23. futuresystemsanalyst
    Contributor says:

    Regarding the recent accusations of Kombaya-hopium levelled at space solar projects:

    It appears space solar is not being touted as a solution to the growing energy crisis that will prevent economic collapse. Rather it is a method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

    Cheap non-electrical energy production depends on using excess electricity to produce synthetic oil – a situation not planned to be available for approximately two decades. We need to rely on oil for quite some time yet.

    With space solar we can optimistically hope for a reduction in coal use after ten years or so and unrealistically think that this will ‘solve’ a climate change disaster already baked in.

    Perhaps the poster is on the wrong site. Reducing carbon emissions isn’t really a chief concern for the collapisists assembled here

    • Nemisis2 says:

      People edit out our blithely ignore that $US40 trillion is AWOL according to C A Fitts who has been much closer to TPTB than anybody here.

      Where did it go? That there is undisclosed hitech underwraps is acknowledged amongst the avant-garde.

      They will not share, however – they think they are superior. And, the numbers dictate that everybody is not going to make it.

      • Van Kent says:

        I would be worried if walipinis filled with low tech were found in NZ, Norway, Argentina and Chile, owned by neocons and billionaires. High tech would need to be Star Trek-tech, going to the stars tech, to change the outcome we have coming for us.

        On a toxic, burnt out planet without life, high tech is a bit useless in the long-long run.

        Whatever they have been doing with the trillions stolen from the Pentagon, the biosphere of this planet is a bit hard to grow right back up again. We would need Q from the next generation Star Trek to accomplish something like that. I´m pretty sure they don´t have tech like that in their secret underground bases.

        • Nemisis2 says:

          I suspect the aim is to harness psi with machines. Doomed, in my view. But…/. the there is psi.

        • Rick Grimes says:

          “Pretty sure” doesn’t cut it anymore. I want empirical proof either way.

          There’s just way too many assumptions being made around here on all counts. I’ll believe things when I see it with my own eyes. Everything else is mere amateur opinion, bias, misdirection, wishful thinking, and just plain wrong. Just a lot of toxic sludge being flung around hoping something sticks.

          The human brain is, as far as we know, the most complex machine in the universe. It took billions of years of evolution to reach this point. And this is the best there is? Nihilistic, misanthropic, childless, luddites ramming the end of the world down people’s throats with a holier than thou delivery that wreaks of sociopathic smugness.

          We’ll see who is right or wrong about any of this in a couple of years. Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of this uninformed toxic wasteland. Certainly not the best way to spend one’s precious time whatever it is that the future holds.

          Time to get outside and enjoy each moment that actually exists instead of fretting about this or that possibility in the future or placing bets about who is going to be right about the spent fuel ponds etc etc etc.

          And with that, I’m jumping off the doom train to nowhere. I won’t be commenting here anymore and doubt I’ll read another article. What’s the point? Conclusions have already been stamped with all of your approval. Debate and other views are rejected scornfully. Your minds are made up. There’s no escape. Fine. But I, for one, don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s a toxic way to spend whatever time you have whether that’s a few years or decades.

          I’ll tell you my plan. From now on, I’ll skim the feed at zero hedge – and I mean skim. If anything major pops into my field of view – like WW3 or the collapse of a superpower – I’ll quietly make note of it and carry on with my day.

          It’s amazing that we’re here at all. Life looks to be an anomaly. It’s not perfect. Stop trying to control it. Enjoy the good moments while they last.

          • psile
            psile says:

            All the best Rick. I enjoyed your contributions. (y)

          • Who knows, Rickie, what might come up?…No one saw the fracking and that impact…maybe there is another trick that will pop up to extend the party…read the Soviets used nuclear charges underground to free up hydrocarbons . I can see us doing something like that to squeeze another 10% to 15 % from old oil field reserves to extend this another decade or two. Like BC9 wrote those at the top can enact rationing, martial law, and financial games to keep it together for a time. As long as the Sheeple are fed and entertained somewhat we should be fine.
            Don has been writing here for some time about feeding ourselves. You know what…one food that has no been mentioned are insects. The BBC already had a program on future food and for rich protein that is top of the list!
            Meal worms, crickets and roasted roaches will taste just fine with the proper seasoning.
            Already, the young are conditioned to be zombies. Yes, just give out food stamps and keep Facebook online with cable…Trump in the White House…we are good for another decade.
            50/50….The Dow will reach 50,000 and the deficit will reach 50 Trillion.
            All right!

            • worldofhanumanotg
              worldofhanumanotg says:

              Good points, I also see more or less “levitation act” for ~next 2decades.
              It takes roughly 5-15yrs to get established from eroded farm/degraded pasture-forest to exploding “permaculture” abundance trajectory, i.e. to a point of visible-undeniable food and quality of life progress on the property. So, if we get more years of today’s parallelism, on one hand more and more people escaping from city-suburb slavery to land homesteading-small scale farming and on the other hand continuing BAU can kicking and gorilla taping the old system, in essence what you have is at certain threshold the historical shift is beyond ripe and the rest of the people vote with the feet as well, the old system is simply abandoned. That has happened numerous times throughout history, that’s not kumbaya world vision though, IT IS still very much bottleneck event, cleansing and healing of the old for sure.

          • “Time to get outside and enjoy each moment that actually exists”
            Could not agree more!
            as far as the rest.( im going away taking my ball and never coming back babe Boohoohoohoo)
            Whatever.
            Bye

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I left once and did not comment on the articles… but for different reasons…. I had become irritated with the endless flood of silliness that was destroying the site…..

              But I returned… because if everyone left the site because of the silliness it would leave Gail by herself trying to combat the illogical nonsense — and she’d probably eventually give up on FW….

              And then where would we be?

        • worldofhanumanotg
          worldofhanumanotg says:

          The point of “hightech” (and few critical spare parts) is that short of EMP (or natural large impact events) you are set for good of 1-2decades, which is again just a leverage of your wealth and way how to ease/enable your transformation into the new era. What most of the media is focusing on is the stupid “frivolous rich niveau” of trophy carz, plastic surgery enhanced spouses, global penthouses. But interestingly enough you don’t hear/see much about the globally diversified elite faction with their own back country farmland, insitu locked independent energy sources etc.

      • futuresystemsanalyst
        Contributor says:

        avant-garde
        ˌavɒ̃ˈɡɑːd/
        noun
        1.
        new and experimental ideas and methods in art, music, or literature.

        • Nemisis2 says:

          The avant-garde (from French, “advance guard” or “vanguard”, literally “fore-guard”)[1] are people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

    • hkeithhenson
      hkeithhenson says:

      “It appears space solar”

      Regardless of the motivation of a government (and only governments are large enough to do it) it is not worth doing unless it makes base load power in the under 4 cents per kWh range. Per Gail’s marching orders at the last workshop on power satellites. That why the years of effort to design to cost. http://htyp.org/design_to_cost

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      But some of the other space solar people asked me how low the price needed to be so that price alone wouldn’t collapse the system–that is how the connection first came up.

    • Ah the green side of MOAR. How about this for carbon emission reduction_ dont have so many children?
      Oh NO! building a (imaginary) death star is the answer(to unpleasant realities)
      Too infinity and beyond!

  24. Fast Eddy says:

    Muslims Should Be Executed With Bullets Dipped In “Pig’s Blood,” Trump Says
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-20/muslims-should-be-executed-bullets-dipped-pigs-blood-trump-says

    When BAU goes…. this is going to get very….. very…. very….. ugly.

    • Kurt says:

      Ok. I just don’t get it. Pigs blood? I mean, what does that have to do with anything?

      Insane times bring out insane politicians.

      • “Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah.” “And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.”

        Looks like Muslims are not suppose to eat swine meat. Consumption of pig’s blood would probably be considered extreme sacrilege to their religion. Leave it to The Donald to come up with that one.

        • Speaking of Trump; he just won the primary in South Carolina, and history tells us that no republican candidate that won both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries ever lost the nomination. Looks like the media will have their tabloid news generating circus barker up against Hillary (who won in Nevada).

    • xabier says:

      I suspect that brain (?) of his has rather imperfectly recalled the story of the cartridges greased with pig fat in the 19th century British colonial army, which are supposed to have sparked the Indian Mutiny among Muslim troops. Oh dear…….

  25. Kommbyah prayer at Noon! Mandatory! Non participants are subject to incarceration as per the Koombyah creationof a better future protection act of 2017. (KCBFP)

  26. Interesting article regarding nuclear power and the future reflected by former Japanese Prime minister, Naoto Kan, and how close his nation was to complete disaster
    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34902-fukushima-prime-minister-naoto-kan-if-you-love-your-country-let-nuclear-go
    Naoto Kan who was prime minister of Japan when the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began, both now travel the speakers’ circuit extolling the need to abolish nuclear power
    Kan compared the potential worst-case devastation that could be caused by a nuclear power plant meltdown as tantamount only to “a great world war. Nothing else has the same impact.”

    Japan escaped such a dire fate during the Fukushima disaster, said Kan only “due to luck”. But he is clearly haunted by the map his advisors showed him in the early days of the still unfolding triple meltdowns, one he screened for his London audience:
    Japan escaped such a dire fate during the Fukushima disaster, said Kan only “due to luck”. But he is clearly haunted by the map his advisors showed him in the early days of the still unfolding triple meltdowns, one he screened for his London audience:
    “I was shown this map with a 250km radius around Fukushima. An area home to 50 million people. One quarter of the country’s population would have had to flee if all the fuel had escaped at Fukushima. We came that close. If 50 million people had had to evacuate Japan, as a state our very survival would have been questioned
    His insistence that the Tepco workforce remain at Fukushima was perhaps one of the most unsung moments of heroism in the whole sorry saga.
    It was then, said Kan, who trained as a physicist, that his whole energy perspective was forever altered. “It was a moment when my view on nuclear power changed 180 degrees.”Sticking with the nuclear energy path meant that “the country would go down in ruin.” He could no longer in all conscience “make the decision to go with nuclear power and risk the survival of a nation

    So, Fast Eddy and company has another voice on their side….post BAU should provide us all a good show!

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks! Interesting article.

    • Rodster says:

      Better late than never but it amazes me HOW politicians when in power never admit the obvious. It’s ONLY when they are out of Office is when they speak the truth. It’s pretty apparent when you have Three Mile Island and Chernobyl raise warning flags regarding Nuclear Power that a then Japanese Prime Minister did NOT see all the same red flags with a NPP built in a major earthquake zone. Pretty pathetic.

      And Japan’s problems are not over regarding Fukushima and that goes for other parts of the world with contaminated radioactive water leaking into the ocean along with radioactive waste piling up at the site.

      • xabier says:

        And everywhere water-sources in otherwise attractive regions exhausted or rendered unfit by decades of run-off from industrial agriculture.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      We need to pretend that the fuel ponds will magically turn to purple popsicles post BAU…. because if we acknowledge the grim reality … all conversations on FW are pointless.

      • psile
        psile says:

        BAU sustains another near miss :P. But how many more can it dodge before the existential crisis at the end of the universe hits?

      • Yes, indeed, this fellow Naoto Kan, ex Prime Minister, is a Physicist and confirms what you have been warning about for some time, Fast Eddy. Wonder why he did not mention the spent fuel ponds…..oops …can’t touch that topic or it might panic the Sheeple and cause panic. Best to leave that alone…..for now.
        BTW, Prime Minister of Germany, Angela Merkel, has PhD in Physics, and also has sought to end nuclear energy. Good NYT’s article

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/13/world/europe/13iht-germany.html?_r=0

        So, it seemdps we are damned if we do, damned if we do…another fine mess we got ourselves into!

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AjplZXgodhs

        • Christian says:

          Thanks.

          I see Sanders is nuke wise, to some extent at least. What is his position reg. new cold war?

          “It’s ONLY when they are out of Office is when they speak the truth. ” It’s just the same about war on drugs: Mexico and Colombia ex presidents favor terminating it, while when they were on duty they’d never thought of stopping such a huge cash flow.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks! Interesting article.

    • Creedon says:

      Gail, as a topic for your next essay, maybe you could discuss distillates and their effect on global energy markets. Distillates seem to be having a very large effect right now. What percentage of this fuel is coming from natural gas? How well can a world economy be run on distillates? Will distillates be available when the more traditional light, sweet crude goes off line?

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        I am not sure I can give you a good answer. The word distillate is a little ambiguous, because as Wikipedia says:

        Petroleum products are usually grouped into three categories: light distillates (LPG, gasoline, naphtha), middle distillates (kerosene, diesel), heavy distillates and residuum (heavy fuel oil, lubricating oils, wax, asphalt). This classification is based on the way crude oil is distilled and separated into fractions (called distillates and residuum) as in the above drawing.

        What you are asking about, I am sure, is the light distillates. We certainly have a lot more of them now. When hydrocarbon chains are too long (as in asphalt or oil sands), it is possible to put them through a cracker. When they are too short, as with light distillates, it is necessary to separate out the longest pieces. These can generally be put in the mix sold as gasoline. This is what gives distillates most of their value. It varies somewhat how much can be used in gasoline, depending on the source.

        The shorter chains are stripped out, and sold for whatever the market will offer–likely not very much, in our current oversupplied state of affairs. In some cases, they can be burned for fuel.

        I don’t think the world can be run on any one type of hydrocarbon by itself. We have generally geared our production to what is available. If of one fraction is oversupplied, that will encourage inventors to figure out new uses for the oversupplied portion. So a gradual transition is possible to a mix with more light distillates, but this change takes many years.

        • hkeithhenson
          hkeithhenson says:

          “These can generally be put in the mix sold as gasoline.”

          Right. Winter gasoline can be as much as 40% low boiling butane. Or at least that was the situation when I was working in a refinery back in the 70s.

  27. Don B., looks like your decision to move away from CA to Wisconsin was a good one from the standpoint of drought. El Nino was suppose to get us back on track – looks like it is fizzling out. Maybe a normal year’s rain, but not the deluge we needed.

    http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/2/19/1487234/-Arctic-Heat-Sea-Ice-Collapse-Has-Split-the-Polar-Vortex-in-Two-Sending-El-Ni-o-Rains-to-Alaska

    ‘Arctic Heat & Sea Ice Collapse Has Split the Polar Vortex in Two Sending El Niño Rains to Alaska’

    “This year’s super El Niño was suppose to bring heavy January and February rains and flooding to California like they did in the super El Niño years of 1982 and 1998. Good rains have come to the U.S. west coast this winter, but they haven’t persisted because many storms have spun up to Alaska instead of into California and the Pacific northwest. Unless a miracle March brings record rainfall, much of California will remain deep in drought as El Niño fades.”

    • Don B says:

      Stilgar,

      A friend living in Jerusalem Valley reported that there have been grass fires in the area already this year. You got just enough rain to green up the grasses and star thistle for the next fire season, but not enough rain to make a dent in the drought. My friend also reports that her house closes escrow this week and that she will be leaving CA for good. After having been evacuated from her home 3 times last year she has had enough. There seems to be no shortage of climate deniers out there and she got her asking price.

      We are experiencing late March like weather here in southeast WI. The little snow that we had is gone. It has been in the low 50’s the last couple of days. I keep track of the Arctic sea ice extent daily postings. It looks like this could be the first year the Arctic Ocean will see a blue water event and the climate casino which is sure to follow. With everything else that is unfolding in the very short term, I don’t believe it makes much difference where you are.

      Be well,
      Don B

  28. http://www.bloomberg.com/energy

    WTI back under 30 into a 29 handle. Wha happa to the rally?
    Oh and although this is optimistic Friday in which the Dow usually goes up, it was -40. So what happened to the stocks rally? Dow now caught in a cycle of oscillating between 15,700 and 16,300, which is the same range between wild optimism and panicked fear, between substance and shadow, you’ve just entered into the twilight zone of a burgeoning net energy decline fiscal storm.

  29. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Here is another exercise in Attractors. This time using a Marjory Wildcraft video. She looks at a quarter acre typical 1960s suburban house in Austin, TX. But the tenants are not typical.

    http://growyourowngroceries.org/how-much-food-can-you-grow-on-14-acre/\

    So…a few questions to prompt you to think about the Attractor:
    *Young people with liberal arts degrees, who can’t find work in their field
    *Need to grow some of their own food and also have a modest source of secondary income
    *Not afraid to gets their hands in the dirt
    *Intelligent division between what they do and what they buy
    *Frugal…don’t make special trips, sell at the office, sell to neighbors, etc.
    *Do invest in the best technology: aquaponics, row covers, drip irrigation
    *Focus on maximizing human value of photosynthesis…most plants are edible
    *Conservation of labor…a few hours a week
    *Ideas about the future (the 10 acre farm, etc.)
    *Everything integrated (greens, chickens, etc.)

    Do you think that the strategy these young people have adopted makes sense in 2016 United States for 20 somethings?
    Do you think that the ‘3rd world’ strategy of multiple income streams makes sense?
    Should they see their mission as ‘living entirely without fossil fuels’?
    Suppose Charles Hugh Smith’s scenario of a one third drop in GDP actually happens. Do you think that these young people are as well prepared as one can be? Do you think that the circumstances of their age group are already reflecting a drop in income? Do they seem to be adapting well?

    If the new Attractor involves much less frivolous use of fossil fuels in the US, with a significant reversion to 3rd world practices in the US, is their strategy about as good as one can expect?

    Don Stewart

  30. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    More on Energy and the Economy (of the underground critters)
    So if you are stumped by the question as to why it is better to put junk mail in the squash pit than the remains of your worst enemy…

    Bacteria are the base of the soil food web. They have a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of 5 to 1. Most everything else in the soil food web has a ratio of about 30 to 1 in their bodies. Humans have a 30 to 1 ratio. Wood and paper can have ratios well upward of a 100 to 1. So when you put paper in the hole, the bacteria are attracted to the carbon, which is scarce. The rest of the critters are attracted to the bacteria. When they eat a bacteria, they can only use 1 nitrogen per 30 parts of carbon, which means they need to eat 6 bacteria to get their carbon. Which means they have to excrete 5 nitrogens into the soil (the critters not having invented banks in which to store nitrogen and speculators to buy and sell nitrogen derivatives).

    And since plants are usually very glad to get nitrogen, they are very glad that the soil critters have so thoughtfully eaten some bacteria and left the nitrogen for the plant in a wonderful soluble form which their roots can take in.

    So putting the junk mail in the hole feeds the bacteria which feed the rest of the soil food web which leave soluble nitrogen in the soil which feeds the squash. The squash turns out to be good food for the humans, because both have around a 30 to 1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen.

    You can only screw this system up by adding industrial agricultural chemicals.

    Don Stewart

  31. hkeithhenson
    hkeithhenson says:

    There is a very much on target article “Complexity Theory and Financial Regulation” in the current issue of Science.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6275/818.full

      >>>POLICY DASHBOARD. It is an opportune time for academic economists, complexity scientists, social scientists, ecologists, epidemiologists, and researchers at financial institutions to join forces to develop tools from complexity theory, as a complement to existing economic modeling approaches (17). One ambitious option would be an online, financial-economic dashboard that integrates data, methods, and indicators. This might monitor and stress-test the global socioeconomic and financial system in something close to real time, in a way similar to what is done with other complex systems, such as weather systems or social networks. The funding required for essential policy-relevant and fundamental interdisciplinary progress in these areas would be trivial compared with the costs of systemic financial failures or the collapse of the global financial-economic system.

      So they want to make an app?

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Thanks very much. This is a very helpful article. It can be found at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6275/818.full

    • richard says:

      A (belated) thanks, Keith.

  32. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    See video of Marjory digging a squash pit. If you know that paper is mostly carbon, and microbes love carbon, can you figure out why this works so well?
    http://growyourowngroceries.org/how-to-use-squash-pits-for-bigger-garden-yields/

    Marjory suggests that, when TSHTF, you might off your worst enemy and put the enemy in the hole. However, I will point out that human bodies have a more nitrogen heavy mix of nutrients, so you might not get quite the same quality of microbial action as you can with junk mail. (Which is not a good reason not to off your enemies.)

    Don Stewart
    PS Also note Marjory using the shovel barefoot. A tough woman.

    • Rick Grimes says:

      >>>Marjory suggests that, when TSHTF, you might off your worst enemy and put the enemy in the hole.

      To grow your veggies? That’s one of the darkest things I’ve heard yet!

      • xabier says:

        The possibility of composting some of one’s neighbours puts a spring in one’s step, does it not?

        They would attain usefulness for the very first time in their existence.

        Let no life be lived in vain 🙂

    • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
      Ed says:

      I particularly enjoy this post Don. 😉

  33. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    A short essay on how to think about collapse…sort of building on Dmitry Orlov.

    Some climate scientists have opined that Earth may, rather rapidly, move to a ‘new equilibrium’. Complex systems such as the weather may be thought of as moving toward ‘attractors’, but at some point the forcings in the system may suddenly move the system toward a new attractor. Our understanding of the mathematics of attractors developed when computers enabled iterative operations on some fairly simple equations, but the solutions changed radically as the system drifted or was forced in some relatively small direction.

    So now I want you to think about agriculture moving between different systems of production:
    *Hunting and gathering
    *The agriculture of plowing and grains and irrigation developed about 8000 years ago
    *The agriculture of fossil fuel powered tractors and long distance transportation
    *The agriculture of synthetic nitrogen, herbicides, and pesticides
    *The agriculture that Elaine Ingham and Montgomery and Bikle might recommend…Teaming With Microbes

    In order to understand how the agriculture of fossil fuel powered machines and long distance transportation and synthetic nitrogen and herbicides and pesticides relates to ‘Teaming With Microbes’ agriculture, we need to understand how plants actually team with microbes and how humans might play a role in that. Bikle and Montgomery give us a very good summary (in layman’s language), particularly on pages 97 through108.

    ‘Today we know that the words of the microbial language consist of a variety of proteins, hormones, and other compounds encoded by each microbe’s genome. Plants use their ‘ears’ to listen to soil life. The net effect of this two-way communication is that it primes metabolic pathways that plants rely on to fend off pests and pathogens.

    The amount of carbon in the soil greatly influences the abundance of microbial life. [Carbon is the energy currency of the soil food web. This is one reason why many people are interested in Carbon Farming. Another reason is that carbon in the soil isn’t in carbon dioxide in the air.]

    Plants pour carbon, in the form of carbohydrate-rich exudates, into the rhizosphere to feed the near-insatiable appetite of beneficial microbes….Plants can grab carbon straight from the atmosphere and make carbohydrates from scratch through photosynthesis. It’s like printing money for the underground economy.

    Exudates contain more than just carbohydrates. They are a stew of nutrients. Microbes in the rhizosphere also feast on the amino acids, vitamins, and phytochemicals found in exudates….Roots release mucus as they grow and slough off dead cells. To microbes in the rhizosphere these are yet more ready-to-eat carbohydrates.

    …these extra organelles allow border cells to help manufacture exudates and push them out of roots and into the rhizosphere.’

    Following these quotes are detailed descriptions of how plants and microbes form intricate symbiotic relationships to:
    *Act as the plants immune system
    *Repel pathogens
    *Select which microbes to feed in order to control nutrient delivery, soil pH, etc.
    *Attract nitrogen fixing bacteria and incorporate them as part of the plant
    *Some microbes are able to turn the amino acid tryptophan into growth hormone, which causes the plant to build a robust root system
    *The bacterial life in the rhizosphere of peas is 5 times as dense as in bare soil.
    *Some phytochemicals serve as ‘traffic cops’ directing pathogens away from the plant. If traffic direction fails, the microbes signal the plant and it makes a flood of defensive chemicals.
    *Some plants permit bacteria to live inside them (endophytes), where they release compounds that spur plant growth and enhance a plant’s resistance to pests and pathogens.

    Starting from scratch, the nitrogen fixing bacteria can provide all the nitrogen that wheat and corn and sugarcane need. And once the nitrogen has been produced, it can be recycled each year, with new production only required to replace leakages.

    The book continues with a discussion of beneficial fungi.

    But this is enough stuff for you to get the idea that a Teaming With Microbes agriculture is a very different Attractor than Industrial Agriculture. In fact, all the plowing and irrigating which builds up salts in the soil and herbicides and pesticides and synthetic nitrogen DESTROY the ability of the microbes to do their jobs. I submit that Industrial Agriculture is circling around a very different attractor than Teaming With Microbes agriculture. And the two systems are, by and large, incompatible. You must choose one or the other.

    To claim that, just because most of the calories produced today involve synthetic nitrogen is not a PROOF that intelligent farming while teaming with microbes CANNOT produce just as many calories. Many studies indicate that we CAN feed the world with an agriculture that teams with microbes. Washington State just released a study which makes that claim.

    What I believe to be true is that a Teaming With Microbes agriculture is inherently smaller scale than Industrial Agriculture. We would need more farmers. A Teaming With Microbes agriculture would involve much less fossil fuel energy in the production of food, and would not require the sophisticated manufacture of tractors and plows and chemicals. Consequently, if fossil fuels begin to go away, we might investigate the possibility that agriculture might shift rather quickly from the attractor of Industrial Agriculture to the attractor of Teaming With Microbes. What we will find, if we pursue that, is that it will be a rocky transition for many people. A city person may not adapt well to getting their hands dirty. 99.9 percent of the people are woefully ignorant about relationships between plants and microbes. Soils have been degraded, and some degradations such as compaction are not easily fixed in the absence of fossil fuels. Many people think we would need to go back to ‘great-grandpa’s way’…which is woefully wrong.

    In the best of all possible worlds, we would use fossil fuels for uses which do not poison the microbes. For example, transportation and refrigeration. Whether such a hybrid system can be developed before Collapse and the rapid move to a different Attractor is doubtful.

    I will link to another ‘attractor’ example. When Chris Martenson and Charles Hugh Smith had their discussion about what they perceive as the end of financialization, they talked with some satisfaction about the death of bloated financial institutions. If the TBTF banks actually do fail, and what is left are small banks who do commercial banking, then the enormous attractor of debt/speculation which governs the world today would be replaced by a very different attractor. Martenson and Smith speculate that the only debt available might be for mortgages. One of my first jobs, in an agricultural community, was sweeping up in a Savings and Loan. On my first day on the job, the manager told me that ‘your money is safe with us, we only invest in good farmland’. In 2009 I heard a San Francisco banker talking about how his father, back in a Midwestern Savings and Loan, was always so cautious with debt. He was rueful…how had the banking industry gone so wrong?

    What we are talking about is NOT, I think, the adaptation of Monsanto and Cargill and Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to these different attractors. They will die and new institutions will be born with very different agendas leading them to circle around very different attractors.

    Don Stewart

    • Van Kent says:

      Don,

      All the big banks are interconnected. All the big banks are interconnected with all the governments. All the banks, including the small ones, are interconnected with all the governments and therefore with all the big banks.

      The JIT economy has about 3 days of supplies on the shelf. Everywhere. Concerning every field of human endeavour. Buildings, energy, sewage, medicines, food, raw materials or.. you name it, everything.

      When SHTF it will take about a week or two and then BAU everywhere will be gone, forever. To make something work again..? Blast.. no “magnetic valve” spare part, no circuit board, no releys of the right size and shape.. Sorry no can do, they will remain broken no matter what we try to do to fix them. Some decades ago factories had a month or three months worth of spare parts. No longer. It´s about 3 days, everywhere.

      When this puppy goes down, the only new institutions we are able to make, are the ones that you can build around a camp fire, while making your evening porridge with two or three mates of yours that you can trust not to slit your throat during the night.

      • futuresystemsanalyst
        Contributor says:

        Just a small example of mine about the fragility of things:

        I worked with engineers who designed water treatment plants. When they were considering the retrofitting of an existing plant many options were weighed up carefully. For example the frequency of chemical deliveries. Of course it would be economical to have large amounts supplied every month or two… but the decision was, a small amount every week because it meant the site didn’t have to be designed for access by large trucks. The real sticking point was the potential increased size of the entrance and accessway. That would have meant a new application for planning approval and that meant time and money in the short term…

        I can imagine this is one of countless examples of how the resiliency of critical infrastructure and services is compromised.

      • worldofhanumanotg
        worldofhanumanotg says:

        The only remaining question is if this scenario goes on immediately during the very next step (systemic financial crisis) or there are in fact several more steps of can kicking BAU left, my position tends to favor the latter, there is too much power in those institutions, so 2025-30 seems more reasonable barrier, after deep NIRP, ban of cash and other nice stuff has been already tried..

        • Don Stewart says:

          worldofhanumanotg
          Several people point to the disenchantment for the financial institutions among the military. We might be headed for a Deep State directed divorce between the workaday economy and the speculative excesses of the big financial institutions. Military pensions, as an example, I believe are simply funded by taxes. I don’t think there is any ‘401K’ involved. So the military looks at things very much on a current income and expense basis. That’s similar to the way commercial banking works. A ship is about to set sail for China, and bring back some tea. A year later, the whole thing has worked or not worked and the loan is repaid or not.

          The Deep State has had plenty of time to think about the consequences of financialization. And I imagine they would jettison the banks and other financial institutions to save themselves.

          Don Stewart

          • worldofhanumanotg
            worldofhanumanotg says:

            Don, do you realize that the military has been for this very purpose by generations cleansed of such characters/culture? This is not 1940s or 50s anymore (or earlier).. Obviously I do agree there are factions at the helm and the Deep State has its own priorities and tools to achieve it. There are fascinating precursors, most recently, the “China project” is just stunning in its gargantuan scope and it couldn’t be possible without the seeding know-how and capital transfer of the late 1970-1990s, not mentioning allowing the imports in, now this project has clearly reached a limit of expansion, so what’s now on the schedule? I’d say a decade or two of consolidation, Deep State carving the revenue plots from the global human farm etc. We can witness some attempts to redraw the ME region yet again and also shift some alliances inside the EU as well.. Clearly the Sino-Russian & co. pack has adopted the long term strategy of letting the west fall on their own sword into the pit of their making. However, even this noble strategy might backfire and result in thermonuclear exchange as sheer panics sets in the west from the vision of utmost impoverishment not far away, which is guaranteed should they loose the grip on the global financial system and no domestic energies.

          • Van Kent says:

            Don,
            The entire world functions by payrolls, debts, currencies, raw materials, transports, spare parts etc. etc. that depend on banks to be functional and the JIT economy to supply all other parts of the global economy with what they need to keep all other parts of the global economy running.

            Please explain how a Deep State takes care of business without fuel, food, the grid, spare parts, transports. They can muster up guys standing around in overalls and jumpsuits. Not much more. No tools working. No equipment. No electricity. No plumming. No ammunition for guns. No Computers. Nothing. Just the guys standing around in their khaki overalls. What sort of Deep State is that and what exactly can those guys save while loitering around the warehouse in their khaki overalls?

            There is clearly something I´m not getting at the moment. Please explain.

            • Rick Grimes says:

              I would say that your scenario is not the only one on the table. You have made up your mind that this is the only way that things can possibly unfold based on the available data, but you’re not allowing for unknown variables.

              Unknown variables have in the past moved things forward beyond the reasonable projections of the brightest minds of the time. Why can’t that happen now?

            • all human enterprise requires energy input to obtain ‘profitable’ results.
              Doesn’t matter if you’re just ploughing a field to grow potatoes, or driving armies across the Russian steppes—the same rules of physics apply, you cannot move ‘stuff’ unless you obey the laws of physics.

              true—great things have been invented in the past, but almost all of those inventions appeared on the scene after the development of the practical steam engine, and all rely on harnessing the reactions of exploding chemical compounds.
              if you revert to just using muscle power instead, then humanity will never again rise beyond the basic infrastructure of the medieval lifestyle.
              Of course, if someone finds a way of filling an anti gravity machine up with hopium, then different laws might come into force—but until then I think we are stuck with what we have.

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              Even muscle power will be in trouble in this grim future. We today have no idea of what hard work is like.
              When the english canals and railways were being built in the early 19th Century. it was all done by hand using mostly Irish navvies. They were fed up to 12,000 calories a day. Would we have that quantity of food available in this future? I wouldn’t bet on it.

            • “Would we have that quantity of food available in this future? I wouldn’t bet on it.”

              Not for > 7 Billion people. Plus, even then, you’re probably talking about something like 1 percent of the population consuming that much food, while most people are around 3000 calories.

              Also, talking about building brand new canals, that doesn’t seem like something anyone would be doing for quite a bit of time after collapse.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Van Kent
              If the State of North Dakota can operate a bank, I am pretty sure the United States Government can operate a bank. I would not be at all surprised if it were revealed that there is a plan to nationalize the banks, quickly shed all the speculators trappings, write the losses off to the share owners, and keep what is left as a traditional commercial bank.

              Don Stewart

            • Van Kent says:

              Don,
              We all can create banks and currencies.

              If the U.S. government nationalizes all banks and creates a new one. What happens to the 19 trillion and counting in debt that the U.S. currently has? If the current debt obligations are not respected, who will accept the new currency in any meaningful way?

              We can create a new currency immediately. And a bank for that currency. Lets call it OFW-dollars. They are backed by the production of the members of OFW. But who will accept these dollars? How can I buy spare parts from China and Korea with these dollars? Who will transport these parts I need and accept payment in OFW-dollars? How is the worth of these dollars verified in China and Korea?

              Rick,
              We have created this behemoth global economy of ours in painstakingly small steps. And now when this Titanic of ours is falling apart, you think we can simply replace this system with another one? Yes, we can create small local solutions. But global trade will stop. Hence everything else will also stop. I see the banks and global trade to be the main culprits. And without global trade, well.. SHTF. Please explain how global trade can be salvaged with any kind of local small scale solutions?

            • money, banks, debt and all the rest of it are a construct of energy availability to the system that the banks serv.
              thus as energy drains out of the system, whether you are a brother Koch or someone sitting holding out a mcdonalds cup, any money you have will become meaningless

            • Don Stewart says:

              Van Kent
              I don’t know for sure what the government of the US and other governments will do in the case of another collapse like 2008-9. I do know they have had time to think about it. For example, they developed the concept of the bail-in to try to insure bank solvency. Most of the things that I can think of that they can do involve renouncing debts. IF they renounce their own debts and allow private debts to go unpaid as financial institutions collapse, then there are two general problems:

              *What does a company which manufactures some useful product do about it? Their debts have gone away, but so have any financial investments. On balance, debts are owed to the 1 percent, so there are a few people in the world who are suddenly much poorer. There are more people who are not as rich as they thought they were, but a majority of people will not pay much attention to loss of investments…because they don’t have any investments.

              My guess is that the company will moan and groan, but then get on with producing its product and use the new medium of exchange to get paid for it. My guess is that the bloated financial system we have today will not regrow for a long time. My guess is that if we also face fundamental headwinds in terms of economic growth, then most people will not be able to save for retirement. They may have a brief retirement during which they are dependent on their children…but playing golf in Florida won’t be on their itinerary.

              *What should a person be doing today to give themselves a chance of surviving the inevitable rough patches? I think the first thing is to not be reliant on promises to pay…whether formal debts or government social programs. The second thing is to be in possession of a dwelling which offers access to as many of the necessities of life as possible. But most people greatly overestimate the number of ‘necessities’…they also need some experience in simple living. The third thing I will borrow from the book 150 Strong…be part of a like-minded group.

              I think that worrying about financial collapse is mostly a waste of time, because it seems to be baked into the cake already. I also think that simply giving up is the wrong thing to do. Remember that veterans of WWII frequently recalled those years as ‘the best years of my life’. The boy warrior from West Africa who wrote about his experiences said that killing people became the way they stimulated their hormones, and the boys missed the excitement of live fire when they were demobilized. So I wouldn’t assume that, just because things will be hard, it’s not worth making an effort to live.

              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Remember that veterans of WWII frequently recalled those years as ‘the best years of my life’. The boy warrior from West Africa who wrote about his experiences said that killing people became the way they stimulated their hormones, and the boys missed the excitement of live fire when they were demobilized.’

              7.4 billion people — no food — spent fuel ponds spewing — disease — no sewage systems — very little clean water — no electricity…. riots — no police — no government… and that’s the good part…. it all goes downhill from there….

              Might I suggest you are underestimating the nature of what we are facing. This is not a world war… it is not an insurgency… it is not a famine….

              It is all of those x 1,000,000….

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              Exactly! The problem with all currencies is that they become local, if there are any pixels on the bank screen at all.

              If you want to trade goods locally, you don’t even need currency. All you need is a central market, and a market maker who will set a price in some kind of units on these items.

              These units can be whatever buyers and sellers understand–say bushels of wheat, or 2015 US$, or ounces of silver. None of these currencies need to actually trade hands. People bring goods to the market, and exchange them for goods they prefer. The central market-maker marks goods in units (plus a small mark-up for his services). The seller gets credit for his goods that actually sell. The credits can only be used in the market. Any unused credits can be carried over until the next day. The market maker keeps tabs on clay tablets or on pieces of paper.

            • InAlaska says:

              “Please explain how a Deep State takes care of business without fuel, food, the grid, spare parts, transports.”
              They can’t take care of business because the Deep State is a fantasy, a delusion, a conspiracy theorist wet dream. If there was a Deep State, things would run much more smoothly than they actually do. What rules the world: chaos, entropy, random chance. Don S., VK., and others, I respect your intellect, but I can’t believe you buy into that nonsense.

            • Don Stewart says:

              InAlaska
              Napoleon supposedly said that ‘it is amazing how force can’t get things done’. But what the Deep State can do is REMOVE those who are currently in charge. That is what Napoleon did during his crusade to bring French values to the countries ruled by monarchies. It was the counterattack of the monarchists that brought him down.

              If the military senses that Wall Street (interpreted broadly to mean financialization of everything) is bringing the country and world to its knees, it is perfectly capable of destroying Wall Street. The military CANNOT, as Napoleon suggested, create a non-financialized system to replace what has been destroyed. That system will have to be built up from the ground by people doing what they think they need to do. I think the ability of people to adjust, if the chains are removed, is probably greater than you give credit for.

              Don Stewart
              PS I don’t claim that ‘adjustment’ is easy or automatic. There will be casualties…just not a lot of casualties in Alaska, probably

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I agree – there is no ‘deep state’ — if there were a deep state then I guarantee you PBS would NOT have broadcast a programme exposing it:

              http://billmoyers.com/episode/the-deep-state-hiding-in-plain-sight/

              The men who really run the show are the Elders — they would of course direct PBS to run a programme called the Deep State — because they would want the sheeple to believe that the corporations and military actually run the show….

              That allows them to continue to hide behind the curtain….

              The Elders will be eating boiled rat post BAU — just like everyone else – because their control relies on having control of the money supply — and there will be nothing of the sort post BAU…

              No wonder they are frantically scrambling to keep BAU going for as long as possible through any means…. they are fighting to keep their throne from collapsing….

      • in 2001 the UK had a fuel tanker drivers strike.
        The government at the time was given a stark warning, that if it went on, supermarkets would be empty in 5 days.
        the strike was resolved

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          People are better at understanding the problem, if the consequences are explained to them.

      • Creedon says:

        Van Kent; what do you see as the catalyst that will cause the S** to HTF

        • Van Kent says:

          Creedon,
          People have the most amazing gift of not living in this reality. The vast majority will simply refuse to collapse. It´s not in their “realitybox”. It is not possible. It is beyond the possibility of this reality that we do not live in Elon Musks Star Trek universe. We are magnificient, evolved, better then.. well we are just better.., in a decade we will have manned missions to Mars, AI, space satellites and virtual reality backed by nanotechnology you wouldn´t believe. Collapse? Don´t be a wacko, that´s not possible. Therefore BAU will continue untill it´s systemically impossible to keep it going any more. That´s my guess.

          I don´t believe in a WWIII, people are crazy, but not that crazy. We´ve managed to avoid apocalypse untill now and to consciously wipe our species from this planet.. I don´t believe people are psychopathic enough to accomplish such a thing. The guy who is supposed to press the button in the submarine carrying the nukes, will refuse the order, or something like that.

          Debt? Money can be printed ad infinitum, but it corrodes the basic structure of the global economy. Financial trickery, wizardry and foolery will escalate untill BAU ends. Already we live in a world that is not real. Soon every aspect of our BAU will be a lie. Desperate attempts to save credibility and stabilize the markets so that growth can continue. Credibility and stability to grow will require “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed”. Therefore you will know the end is nigh when your neighbours simply “know” everything is going to be just fine because the authorities told them so-and-so.

          Profits? Untill BAU is over somebody will make profits, however miniscule they may be. Others can say this is just temporary. People will not see that it´s everywhere and it´s systematic.

          Food? Yes famines to be expected this year and escalating every year after this one. But large scale famines will not reach the west untill BAU goes away. Immigrant waves to be expected to Europe again after a famine filled summer. Come autumn and another million or two million refugees will pour over the mediterranean.

          What breaks the neck of this beast? What is the catalyst? The biggest financial market is government debts. Bonds. That market is backed by derivatives in order of magnitude of a quadrillion dollars. When collapse comes, when S will HTF I believe it begins in earnest from the bond market. As we collapse all year this year, stocks plunge about 40-50% everywhere by the end of this year, and banks become unable to issue large amounts of new debt, this is all slowly warming up for the really big game to come.

          Greece had interest rates of about 5% or so on their debt. Then trouble began and interest rates exploded to 25-30%. When this erosion of trust happens, exploding of interest payments, to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Ireland, U.S. France, UK, Brazil etc. then banks can not trust each others positions and then the death spiral begins and BAU will end rapidly.

          Banks fall, governments spending stops, businesses do not get orders, JIT economy falters, international trade stops. And.. S will HTF

          For a week or two there might be some emergency contingency plans, but then the grid starts to fail. Water doesn´t come. Sewage and waste management stops. Groceries are empty. Millions of people start to panic and begin to move away from the cities and at that point there is nothing that can bring this Humpty Dumpty back together again.

          In the end, well, growth on a finite planet ad infinitum is impossible. Limits to that growth will be resisted in any way possible. But finally when push comes to shove, reality will assert itself on a species that rejects reality by design.

          That´s my guess. How about yours?

          • bandits101
            bandits101 says:

            “For a week or two there might be some emergency contingency plans, but then the grid starts to fail”……….I have my theory but wat do you think will cause the “grid to start to fail”, at an early stage.

            • Van Kent says:

              Maintenance relies on the JIT economy, global economy, banks etc. Without constant maintenance power plants go offline one by one, untill the grid and all its subsiduaries fail too.

              Thats just how things have been built. Without maintenance and spare parts they don´t work.

          • Creedon says:

            I appreciate your view point and it makes a lot of sense. Your are a believer in fast collapse essentially. If the stock market were to decline by 40 to 50 percent this year followed by failure of the banks that would be essentially a fast collapse scenario, and it would also imply that the economy would collapse faster than the oil supply. You seem to say at one and the same time that we the people can’t face any type of reality but at the same time as we are in total denial, the industrial world will collapse quite fast, maybe three to five years. Venezuela has collapsed already by the way. I some times believe that the price of oil will be the trigger for all of this. If the oil price continues to go down oil companies have to bankrupt and this will ultimately have an effect on the economy. The harsh reality is that in ten to fifteen years, we as a world people will be fighting for survival, but will not really be all that cognizant of what brought us to that point. Its all very depressing. The future for the most aware of us is going to be an awareness of greater and greater lack of function in the world.

  34. “Gail should establish a policy that makes clear that posts pertaining to alternative energy or other pie-in-the-sky fantasy proposals will be eliminated.”

    B9K9, it happens on all peak oil blogs that other topics get brought up and sure some are outlandish, but that’s human expression. I personally think it’s a great website for the very fact it isn’t highly monitored. When I was on The Oil Drum Leanan was the bad cop getting on people for bringing up topics discussed previously, taking sides in arguments between posters and deleting parts of whole threads. At the height of her bad cop routine Ron P. left to start his own website and most of the other really interesting posters also left within about a two week period. My vote is to leave it ‘as is’.

    • Jeremy says:

      “My vote is to leave it ‘as is’.”

      Agreed. People are at different stages of discovery. Some are still in a state of shock. Gail has an educational role to play. When a surfer arrives and asks, “But surely such and such would work?”, it’s as often as not because they desperately want to believe that extinction is not on the cards. With a few succinct words, Gail is able to explain why their hopes are, sadly, illogical. Gradually, one hopes, it will sink in.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “With a few succinct words”

        If anyone can make a case that the physics or economics is wrong for power satellites, I would really like to hear it. If you have such an argument and it holds up to analysis then those who work on power satellites have to fix our models and arguments or give up and take some other path. If there is a major flaw, we need to know about it.

        I am not talking about opinion, or quoting a dated Wikipedia article, but something substantial, on the order that the NOx generated by vehicle reentry will wipe out the ozone layer and there is nothing we can do about it, such as adding NH3 to the stratosphere. I want meaty, math filled refutations if there is anyone here who can do that.

        And please don’t make US centric arguments. This is a world wide problem and other countries or groups of countries may solve it first.

        • futuresystemsanalyst
          Contributor says:

          “If anyone can make a case that the physics or economics is wrong for power satellites, I would really like to hear it.”

          Physical possibility by no means guarantees probability of fruition. I think Tom Murphy from ‘Do the Math’ described it well when he said that technical workarounds are only a small part of the solution to our unfolding energy crisis. There’s often wider issues to be resolved. For example, has your group really considered the MASSIVE worldwide infrastructure build-out needed to harness more electrical energy? Currently electricity use entails less than 20 percent of our total energy needs. Gail said it well when she said that we need lost cost energy that covers our present energy needs with little change to devices (e.g. cars, trucks, tractors) that are available now.

          As for economics, it seems abundantly clear that we are entering an era where access to the kind of investment your group would need is unlikely to be forthcoming. How many countries today would conceivably be in a position to invest let alone in the fiscally constrained medium term that is more than likely if BAU manages to grind on?

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “has your group really considered”

            In considerable detail. Oil refineries would still operate, but they would have front ends that make synthetic oil similar to the billion dollar Sasol F/T plant in Qatar. The proposal is to build out power satellites far beyond the needs of the grid. The power beyond current grid demand would be diverted into hydrogen plants. The hydrogen and CO2 pulled out of the air would feed the F/T plants. Currently the grid is managed by generation. In a power satellite era, the grid would be managed entirely by load. Ed Kelly has the energy flows for a similar scope of project on http://www.stratosolar.com.

            “fiscally constrained”

            That’s the reason for all the effort to get the power sat construction cost down as well as the investment to make them in the first place. We closed the business case early last year with ground powering the transport from LEO out to GEO, but at huge cost and considerable ecological damage. In the last year we figured out how to get the peak investment down by about $18 B and eliminated the need to flatten 110 square km of jungle.

            Currently the peak investment is around $65 B and the payback takes less than ten years. That’s less than was spent to construct a single LNG plant in Australia and shorter than the times needed to build a nuclear plant.

            Of course it depends on timely delivery of Skylon. I have a long meeting with the engineers of Reaction Engines set up for next month.

            Good questions, thanks.

            • futuresystemsanalyst
              Contributor says:

              The current plant at Qatar uses natural gas, not hydrogen and CO2. If so aren’t you basing your project on technology that doesn’t exist? The production figures at Qatar aren’t that hot either. Around 100,000 barrels of synthetic oil a day. Let’s say you aim to replace just ten percent of our current oil use… Are you suggesting that your 65 Billion dollar budget includes the 100 billion needed to build 100 of these plants? And the 100 billion to build the hydrogen production plants?

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “plant at Qatar uses natural gas, not hydrogen and CO2”

              The plant steam reforms the natural gas into CO and hydrogen. It would work just fine on hydrogen and CO2. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water-gas_shift_reaction

              “production figures”

              I worked it out that the capital cost on making oil at (I think) 38,000 bbl of oil a day was around $10 per bbl writing off the whole billion dollar cost of the plant in 5 years. At two cent per kWh off peak power, it takes $40 of energy to make the hydrogen. Both the hydrogen plant and the CO2 capture system are relatively inexpensive compared to the F/T plant, especially considering how much of them would be needed to get off using oil. And no, the cost of synthetic oil plants is not included in the startup cost. They would not be constructed until the after enough power sats had been built to take the entire base load and then some. Making synthetic oil is at least a decade after the first power satellite. The reason I include it is to show there is a way to get off both coal and (eventually) oil with very large amounts of electric power.

              BTW, the cost to develop one particular oil field https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashagan_Field is up in the range of $100 B.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Fracking should not happen — it makes no sense without zero interest debt and a shitload of PR to convince investors to pile in….

            But it happened.

            Because it has helped kicked the can nearly a decade.

            ‘Whatever it takes’

            If space solar could kick the can — it would also happen.

            Clearly it has been determined that it is futile — therefore it has been rejected.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “Clearly it has been determined”

              I don’t see how you can make such a claim. Has everything been invented? The cost needs to go down by a factor of 100 or so, but Musk is on track to get it down by a factor of ten and the Reaction Engineering people think they can get it down by a factor of 100 at the traffic levels you must have for a power satellite program.

              How to get the cost down below what Skylon can do with chemical rockets is not that hard. The parts already exist. Like this arcjet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Enthalpy_Arc_Heated_Facility

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Keith – if, if, if, if, if, if x 500,000,000…

              Some of the world’s top minds – top engineers — NASA — has had a go at this — they have access to all the best equipment — huge amounts of funding..

              And they have determined that it is not feasible. They have stopped trying. They have explained why in great detail. Even the clown Musk who has a penchant for stupid ideas (if he can get government funding for them) has said this makes no sense.

              Guess what.

              Some things just cannot physically be done. This is one of them.

              You really need to give this a rest.

              Of better still – go back to your garage or your basement or wherever you work on this — and figure it out — then you can come back here and say ‘I told you so’

              You can also tell us that you are having a gigantic Save the World Party with champagne, caviar, babes and disco balls — and you can inform us that we are not invited because we dissed you….

              Then we’ll watch you on CNBC and Bloomberg where you can explain how the naysayers were all wrong…. that you persevered and you saved the world.

              I don’t think anyone wants to listen to your pie in the sky nonsense here…. anymore than they would want to hear about my purple posicle project….

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “Some of the world’s top minds – top engineers”

              I know a bunch of these people, Seth Potter, Gordon Woodcock,Peter Vajk, Alan Bond, Richard Varvill, long list and not one of them doubts it can be done.

              Are you a top engineer? Engineer of any sort? Remember the rocket equation from high school physics?

              Boeing (ever heard of them) ran a detailed update study with their own money. They reported on it at an AIAA meeting in 2009.

              http://www.sspi.gatech.edu/aiaa-2009-0462_ssp_alternatives_potter.pdf

              There was no doubt in their minds it could be done, but at their estimated cost of $145 per watt, it was clearly not economical The power would have to sell for about $1.80 a kWh, about 60 times to high to take market share from coal. They were using the cost figures from communication satellites. With a lot of technology they didn’t consider, I have it down to a bit below the number Gail said is needed.

              “cannot physically be done”

              You make this claim. Boeing people and a lot of others say the opposite. There certainly are economic problems, and I bash away at them. But if you say it can’t be done, then how about all those satellites that send down a few tens of kW known as comm sats. How do you explain their existence and claim that power satellites cannot physically be done?

              I know I should not feed the trolls. But I needed a break from a spreadsheet that is wall to wall numbers.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:
            • Fast Eddy says:

              No one is expecting a huge orbiting solar farm and corresponding massive microwave power beam to be ready overnight, of course. Mitsubishi says that the successful test conducted at the company’s Kobe Shipyard and Machinery Works has verified the viability of the concept, and that the transmission distance and power load mark new milestones for the technology.

              While successfully beaming power from the sun to Earth via an orbiting system of collectors at a large scale may be decades away, cost billions of dollars and require the invention of some new technologies, the investment can be justified for a country like Japan with limited natural resources, that’s still reeling from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

              http://www.gizmag.com/japanese-breakthrough-in-wireless-power/36538/

              This is simply more spin to keep the sheeple filled with hopium ….

              No different than the endless crap we get fed about PV, EVs, thorium, and of course the other Japanese initiative that is going to save the world:

              Japan becomes first nation to extract ‘frozen gas’ from seabed

              Successful extraction from frozen methane hydrate deposits is the first example of production of the gas offshore

              http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/mar/12/japan-extract-frozen-gas-seabed

              When I see the word ‘decades’ in an article about alternative energy I interpret that to mean never…. I also see it as spin aimed at boosting the share price of a company …. I also realize we do not have decades ….. we need something immediately…

              A search for alternative energy breakthroughs brings up pages of the same sort of stuff…. here’s just one such article http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/18/3060131/13-clean-energy-breakthroughs-2013-2/

        • Jeremy says:

          Even if power satellites are possible, all they would do is give us the power to use up even more of the Earth’s scarce resources, causing extra pollution and destroying the environment even more. The continuation of the industrialisation of the environment at the current pace will only bring disaster for all.

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Things wouldn’t have to lead to that conclusion IF we had ongoing extension of BAU. Keith could have his power satellites, progress could be made with molecular manufacturing or programmable matter thus manipulating chemistry and biology at a level that would make much of our current methodology obsolete.

            Of course, these techniques still need to be invented with current projections in the 2025 to 2035 range. If there was a way to sustain BAU until reaching the required milestones then our problems with resources, materials manufacturing, food production, energy requirements, population issues would be a thing of the past.

            I will be criticised, and even vilified, for even daring to suggest this as a potential scenario. But it exists even as an extremely remote possibility in the same way that we have escaped extinction in the past against extremely remote odds.

            Just because you believe very strongly that all is lost doesn’t mean that it is necessarily so. That’s not hopium. It’s allowing for all probabilities however remote some may be.

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            We are headed for disaster one way or another. The hope is that this will be a more efficient use of solar materials than other approaches, and will get rid of most of its intermittency issues.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “causing extra pollution and destroying the environment even more”

            Do you think they are worse than continuing to burn coal?

            • Jeremy says:

              “Do you think they are worse than continuing to burn coal?”

              Not worse, but the environment is already in crisis, and we have galloping climate change. More energy allows us to continue mining the Earth for minerals, metals – and to produce all sorts of stuff. Have you heard of self-storage units? They’re popular here in England. People have accumulated so much stuff that they don’t have room for it all in their houses, so they hire extra space in which to keep it. This is materialism gone mad. More mining of the Earth would inevitably follow any new energy invention, meaning more entropy and more pollution – whether or not the new energy source was less polluting than coal or not polluting at all.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “galloping climate change”

              The most likely reason for power satellites to be built is so we could shut down the base load coal plants.

            • “The most likely reason for power satellites to be built is so we could shut down the base load coal plants.”

              How much coal would be needed to be consumed to build this, maintain it, and expand it by, 2 or 4 percent a year to match continuous exponential growth?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I propose that if we should build giant purple popsicles to save the world.

            • “I propose that if we should build giant purple popsicles to save the world.”

              And so, our handsomest politicians came up with a last minute solution; we just drop a bigger cube of ice into the ocean as needed, and the problem was solved, once and for all.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “How much coal”

              Very little. The main energy input is the hydrogen used to lift parts to GEO. Currently the cheapest way to make hydrogen is steam reforming of natural gas. After you turn on a power satellite it returns the energy used to make it and lift it to orbit in about two months. If it lasts 20 years, that’s an EROEI of about 120 to one. It does use up a lot of LNG, assuming that’s the way it is shipped. But given the rapid return, it’s better than burning the LNG to make electricity.

            • You need to burn coal to make steel. You need to mine the materials to make all this equipment, and then refine it and manufacture it. You may need to build whole new factories, and those factories will need to be made from materials extracted, transported and refined using fossil fuels.

              Probably going to need to buy a bunch of equipment from CAT and TONKA, which will of course need to be made of steel.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “materials extracted, transported and refined using fossil fuels”

              I can go into details, the worse embedded material is aluminum at around 15 kWh/kg. the power satellite mass can’t exceed 6.5 kg/kW for economic reasons. So worst case, ~100 kWh/kW of capacity. It also takes around a 70 tons of hydrogen to lift 15 tons to LEO and three tons additional to get 15 tons out to GEO. That’s about 5 kg of hydrogen per kg of parts. Or 32 kg of hydrogen per kW of capacity. Since the energy in a kg of hydrogen is about 50 kWh, 1625 kWh in the transport energy or about 16 times the energy in the parts that are made on earth. So when we turn on a power sat, we have invested around 1725 kWh for each kW it will produce. Power satellites run almost 100% of the time, so you get that much energy back in 72 days or around ten weeks.

              The big FF drain is on the LNG used to make hydrogen. The rest of the energy input is relatively small, and the energy needed to create the infrastructure needed to make the parts is small even compared to the energy in the parts.

              Of course as time goes on, the LNG hydrogen can be replaced with electrolytic hydrogen made from cheap power from satellites. But right now, you can’t beat the price of hydrogen from LNG.

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              Simon Michaud gives a compelling talk on what peak mining is like;

            • bandits101
              bandits101 says:

              Coal will be burnt until it can’t. The ridiculous solar system will not be built overnight if it could and would depend on a viable economic system to maintain it. The fluffy answer to the liquid fuel problem obviously means there is no answer. The problem of flow rates could never be solved with your planned scenario. Keith you obviously have the knowledge to play the devils advocate and tear this whole stupid plan to shreds but you won’t, because you are having too much fun with the bullshit.

        • MM says:

          I propse the folowing: you start an account here:http://www.akj.com/
          and come back after you launched the first space vessel.
          Nobody here can help you to get this going. OFW is the most remote site to promote a trillion dollar project like this, you need severe reframing of your reality, got it ?

          • Rick Grimes says:

            Gail has given talks to goups involving AKJ so there is a very direct link. He can post wherever he wants. Or do you want so much control over your little corner of reality that it borders on cult-like behaviour?

            How do you know who views this content and for what purpose? Isn’t it useful to see how other minds approach the apparent predicament we’re in even out of curiosity? Or is it that you can’t even bare to glimpse at ongoing activity in the world beyond preparation for doom?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Actually Rick… it was ok for about 5 minutes….. but then when I did a quick search on this space solar thing…. and came up with the info below … and posted it… and Keith refused to adequately address the rather daunting obstacles that forced NASA to drop the idea…. (unless hoping for a solution to these problems can be considered adequate)

              NASA can’t make it work… but some guy with zero funding who says he does not want to pursue funding — working on his own in his garage — and spending half his day on a blog is…. he thinks he can make this work?

              At that point it became more than ridiculous…. it became a colossal joke.

              Right up there with giant purple posicles…

              To be quite honest — the only value in reading these ongoing posts is to observe what the human mind is capable of convincing itself of when faced with extinction….

              No matter how many facts are thrown at this nonsense… Keith just digs in further… deeper…. he is completely out of touch with reality…

              Fascinating.

              Drawbacks

              The SBSP concept also has a number of problems:

              The large cost of launching a satellite into space

              Inaccessibility: Maintenance of an earth-based solar panel is relatively simple, but construction and maintenance on a solar panel in space would typically be done telerobotically. In addition to cost, astronauts working in GEO orbit are exposed to unacceptably high radiation dangers and risk and cost about one thousand times more than the same task done telerobotically.

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

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

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

              The large size and corresponding cost of the receiving station on the ground.[citation needed]

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

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “Nobody here can help you to get this going”

            Gail has a substantial influence on this project and has been active in that regard since 2009.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Why don’t you try http://www.crowdfunding.com/ I am sure there are plenty of people waiting to donate to the Save the World Programme

              You might also ring up Peak Prosperity and see if you can get an advertorial appearance on a podcast…. you could blurt out your ideas and give your bank account and ask for donations.

              I am not sure how PP works though — do they ask for a fee to appear — or do they take a piece of the action

      • Rick Grimes says:

        Jeremy. Very wise words too. But careful with the idea that because Gail or others have made a logical assesment of the data that predictions made on those assessments WILL inevitably materialise. You cannot know what will happen until it happens. There is always room for surprise.

        Imagine a stone age hunter gatherer meeting a time traveller and the time traveller shows them video of high speed maglev trains, airplanes, space rockets, satellites, skyscrapers, a smartphone…

        What we have achieved to this day may be illusory in the sense that we borrowed the means from the future, but to the caveman, we are like gods from another world. They would be unable to accept that we are their direct descendents and that we progressed to where we are now even after passing through a ridiculously tight bottleneck along the way.

        We have come close to extinction in the past and yet here we are typing about such possibilities on our laptops. That’s kinda funny in itself, when you stop to think about it.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I agree completely with that.

        It is only when people refuse to accept facts – logic – realty – that a problem arises…. then it’s like trying to argue with a religious fanatic….. life is way too short (literally) for that…..

    • Rick Grimes says:

      Very wise words. Censorship – othe than abusive posts – can never be a way forward in any arena. It also naturally leads to accusations of bias which doesn’t help in the search for objective analysis.

  35. B9K9 says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gail should establish a policy that makes clear that posts pertaining to alternative energy or other pie-in-the-sky fantasy proposals will be eliminated.

    They are either deliberate attempts at trolling in order to disrupt conversation(s), or are posted by commenters so devoid of knowledge about physics & economic matters as to impair the IQ of those unfortunate enough to have read a few lines while scrolling by.

    I mean, imagine a medical board where doctors/scientists were discussing/debating cancer vs heart attack, and some numskull began parroting about angels, miracles and ever lasting life.

    Let us be clear here: there isn’t any way out; there isn’t any “solution”. We – humanity – stumbled across 200m years of stored solar energy in the form of solid, liquid & gaseous fossil fuels. We began to party like it was 1999, never noticing the depletion rate was so extreme that we’ve blown through almost all of the most economically retrievable stores in just 150 years.

    The only question is the end game – that should the discussion at hand. Does it collapse fast with a resulting Mad Max, or do the PTB pull off the long grind? This is the only remaining issue for debate, and one should bring their knowledge to bear in trying to make their case. Everything else is just noise.

    • Kurt says:

      Mike Tyson would be pleased.

    • “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gail should establish a policy that makes clear that posts pertaining to alternative energy or other pie-in-the-sky fantasy proposals will be eliminated.”

      You must have missed the part where Gail provides consultation to projects like Space Based Solar Power.

      • Rick Grimes says:

        Yes, and Gail, as the owner of OFW, has also frequently made reference to religious concepts in response to others – although always with a heavy dose of restraint.

        Since B9K9 derisively made reference to religious commentary in his analogy maybe that’s something else that needs to be added to the list of prohibited forms of expression in the comment section?

        Will humor, irony, sarcasm, off topic but of general interest posts all be banned too?

        Only serious posts that align themselves with B9K9’s rigid point of view are to be allowed because we wouldn’t be able to live with the knowledge that his sensibilities had been mildly offended due to the inability to scroll past a comment that wasn’t to his interest.

        I’m suspecting that some of the posts you take such offense too were posted by me. If that’s the case, then I find myself at a loss that someone of your intellect could view those posts as propaganda for alternative energy projects and so on.

        A savvy ten year old would understand that posts such as these are made with the intention of showing how vast the chasm is between current branches of thought on our collective future.

        While a tiny minority predicts doom just around the corner, at the other end of the spectrum we have scientists talking about the next hundred years for humanity. I find it interesting that there can be such discrepencies within the same species. It’s a talking point much like the understanding of bacteria in the production of our food or other such side topics.

        B9K9, you don’t know how things are going to unfold and neither does anyone else. If we had a crystal ball (oops, that’s magic) we wouldn’t be here discussing this topic at all. We would all know exactly what to do, where to go, the best way to prepare – no need for even the slightest bit of doubt over fast vs slow and other ways of looking at the situation.

        You appear to suggest that TPTB are capable of “pulling off the long grind” otherwise you wouldn’t even offer that up as a possibility. Personally, the only way I see that happening is if one of the unknowns materialises at just the right time enabling sufficient continuation of BAU until next level “solutions” can be implemented – fusion, molecular manufacturing, population management etc. – in other words… a miracle.

        The question then would be how much probability do you asign to the appearance of JIT miracle solutions? How much of current civilisation could be salvaged as the basis for a transformational movement towards a system susbstantially removed from the way we live now?

        Although unlikely, I feel we should still leave a small amount of room for such possibilities. To not do so, would be a reflection of the kind of arrogance that, in the past, said that only four computers were necessary for the entire world.

        And doctors are horribly wrong most of the time. Have you ever checked their record for diagnostic competence? It’s abysmal.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The ideas that are being posted here have been tried — and have failed.

          How many hundreds of billions have been spent on solar subsidies – thorium – space solar etc…

          The thing is…

          I personally don’t mind entertaining these ideas — but what irritates me is that when it is pointed out that they have failed and are pointless…. the proponents refuse to acknowledge facts…. they just drone on and on and on filling the comments section with more of the same nonsense.

          This is not the place for such nonsense.

          The core commentators on this site and the author are beyond wasting time on this nonsense.

          We understand that there is no way out of this — we are more interested in dissecting and discussing other issues related to how the end game will play out — things like the trigger event — policies to delay that trigger — how mankind will react to the catastrophe that is coming — if there are any ways to prepare for the collapse — deflation/hyperinflation — how long can governments hold together once the SHTF — will the collapse be a fade — or will it be a cliff…. etc…

          Sites like Peak Prosperity are far more welcoming to rehashing failed theories… if people are after hopium that is where they should go. If they insist on flooding FW with this endless rubbish then they ultimately need to be driven off

          Finite World is operates on a much higher level than any other site that I am aware of. There is nothing like it.

          It cannot be allowed to drift into inanity….

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        I don’t come out ahead financially on this consultation. If they ask reasonable questions, I try to answer them.

        We need commenters from different perspectives.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If someone wants to fly me to Vegas all expenses paid to give a presentation on space solar I’m on board!

          In fact I already have my presentation ready:

          The SBSP concept also has a number of problems:

          The large cost of launching a satellite into space

          Inaccessibility: Maintenance of an earth-based solar panel is relatively simple, but construction and maintenance on a solar panel in space would typically be done telerobotically. In addition to cost, astronauts working in GEO orbit are exposed to unacceptably high radiation dangers and risk and cost about one thousand times more than the same task done telerobotically.

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

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

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

          The large size and corresponding cost of the receiving station on the ground.[citation needed]
          The possibility of energy losses during several phases of conversion from “photon to electron to photon back to electron,” as Elon Musk has stated.[39]

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

          And afterwards everyone heads to Fast Eddy’s room for the end of the world party …. all expenses covered by the sponsoring country of Delusistan ‘where hopium is reality’

    • InAlaska says:

      In general, I agree with B9, but would add that there may be a place for solar technologies being discussed with regard to the role they can play in pulling “off the long grind” and building in resiliency once the grid starts failing. If we (humanity) leverage the remaining fossil fuel resources that are relatively easy to extract in order to build out some solar capacity, it can possibly soften the collapse (fast, and particularly the slow option). Any discussion regarding alternative energey as “the solution” should be deleted. If, however, fusion energy or some other pie in the sky comes down and pulls our fat out of the fire, then we should all be happily willing to eat crow.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        “happily willing to eat crow”

        Well said. I have never said that power satellites are the only possible solution, just what I have analyzed and make a case to be the most cost effective and least environmentally damaging.

        Second to power satellites (in my view) is StratoSolar. By going far above the clouds you still have day/night intermittency, but not the week of cloudy weather problem. I worked on this enough to get a feel for the problems. All the known problems appear to have solutions. They offer cheap energy storage as well. That may be the first use of them.

        Third is a lot of fission plants, something like 15,000 of them. The main objection would go away if the biology/medical professions solve cancer. The advanced reactors don’t look like they will ever melt down, not even if you just walk away from them. There is also the molten salt variety which looks good. I used a lot of the data from a molten salt study in proposing a potassium topping cycle for thermal power satellites.

        There are a number of other sources that are more speculative, but could suddenly hop to the top of the list. Fusion is one of them, more speculative is cold fusion, though some of them like the ecat stay in the news.

        There is a lot of motivation to keep the lights on. Among them is the dawning realization that the wealth of the 1% vanishes when the power goes off.

        • doomphd – Honolulu – I really hold a doctor of philosophy (phd) in geological sciences and study pretty doomy topics like giant landslides, volcanic eruptions and megatsunamis.
          doomphd says:

          The problem with nuclear safety using fission reactors goes beyond a possible meltdown/explosion of the reactor core. While meltdown/explosion proof/resistant may be a welcome advance for some, the simple fact is that fission products build up within the fuel rods and poison further fission, nessisitating their removal. Once on-site storage in water pools begins, you have an extreme safety issue because the underlying assumption of these types (and others) of power production is a continuance of BAU. The closest the PTB come to recognizing the inherent danger posed is a potential terrorist attack. These are not deep, long-term thinkers.

          One of the primary conclusions of this blog is a real and present danger of sudden loss of BAU due to a rapid breakdown via the interconnected nature of the operating system, starting with a threat to the global financial system, but perhaps not limited to there, that is now underway (see newspapers and on-line news stories). Even if we had an efficient spent fuel rod reprocessing program in place (dreamed of, not realized) or a rapid-as-possible to dry-casking program (not yet) there would always be a standing stock of extremely radioactive rods on site that could pose a problem if left unattended or damaged/isolated by some man-made (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl) or natural catastrophy (see: Fukushima as best case; other close-calls not as widely discussed like the Nebraska, USA “slow-tsunami” due to global warming-induced record flooding of the Missouri-Mississippi river basin that nearly submerged some reactors. Gee, could that happen again?).

          So anyone who has given some thought to the consequences of the above and still advocates building lots more fission reactors is worse than a suicidal moron, because that person is also threatening to permanently destroy huge areas and their ecology to vainly attempt saving more BAU.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “saving more BAU

            We have had enough meltdowns to get a idea of how often they will occur and how much damage they cause. Given the required number to displace fossil fuel (15,000) there would be a disaster every year or two. That might be considerably reduced by careful design and siting.

            You don’t want to live there yet, but even Chernobyl is did not destroy the ecology, wildlife thrives there. Let’s say for argument that reactors were the only way to keep the population from collapsing and that they would keep BAU going for another 50 years.

            Say we have a meltdown/release every two years and they are as bad as Chernobyl.

            In terms of human lives and ecosystem damage which is worse?

            I am not a big fan of building a lot of reactors. But if you people can convince me (physics reasons please) that power satellites and StratoSolar can’t be done, I would probably work on ways to make cheap, safe reactors. BTW, molten salt reactors can be used to dispose of used fuel rods.

            • doomphd – Honolulu – I really hold a doctor of philosophy (phd) in geological sciences and study pretty doomy topics like giant landslides, volcanic eruptions and megatsunamis.
              doomphd says:

              “BTW, molten salt reactors can be used to dispose of used fuel rods.”

              You would have to move the fresh spent fuel rods to the molten salt reactors, which presently can’t be done, so unless all the new reactors are all salt reactors, this simply won’t work. The problem is the fresh spent fuel rods are way too radioactive to move safely other than very slowly in a water casket by overhead crane into a moon pool, on site. As you know, water is very dense and heavy. They need to be stored in pools for at least 3 to 5 years to cool down enough to handle, otherwise.

              I like your crazy space solar farms and sun shades better than moron fission reactors. Unsafe at any speed.

          • “The problem with nuclear safety using fission reactors goes beyond a possible meltdown/explosion of the reactor core. While meltdown/explosion proof/resistant may be a welcome advance for some, the simple fact is that fission products build up within the fuel rods and poison further fission, nessisitating their removal. Once on-site storage in water pools begins, you have an extreme safety issue because the underlying assumption of these types (and others) of power production is a continuance of BAU”

            There are other designs that may reduce or eliminate the need for spent fuel storage – molten salts or liquid metal reactors. It is unfortunate that they went ahead and built hundreds of crappy reactors, rather than only building a few and continually iterating towards better designs.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              We really don’t know which designs are better until we try them, and find out where they are subject to failure.

              In some sense, the best design is the cheapest design that also keeps the public safe long term. I am not sure we know what that is.

        • Even if the solar satellites were “feasible”, you would run into the inevitable mega cost overruns that seem to plague every big project. On nuclear power, where the technology is proven and well understood, chronic cost overruns have scared away investors. Only authoritarian societies are still planning new nuclear power plant.

          Another problem. What makes you think that a society that will not even allocate funds to maintain its infrastructure -pipes, roads and the electric grid, would be willing to make a huge investment in something new.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “a society that will not even allocate funds to maintain its infrastructure”

            I presume you are talking about the US.

            Power satellites are exceedingly unlikely to be build by the US. In fact, the US government structure is such that at present it can’t. I was talking to David Mohler from DOE at the recent EUEC conference in San Diego. I asked him if DoE could work on power satellites and he said no. They involve space and DoE doesn’t do anything involving space. It’s only NASA that can do anything involving space. NASA says the same thing, power satellites are energy and they can’t be involved with energy projects. So unless the US were to found a brand new organization, something like TVA in charter, the US *can’t* build power satellites.

            Other countries are less hobbled.

            “mega cost overruns”

            I agree, that’s a serious problem. There are studies which show that cost overruns can be controlled by spending some significant fraction of the first estimated budget to investigate and retire the risk. You still get cost overruns, but they center in the few tens of percent instead of a large multiple.

            • InAlaska says:

              Hillary Clinton just stated in her victory speech to Nevada that she wants the US to be the Solar Power Super Power, not China and not Germany.

            • ” I asked him if DoE could work on power satellites and he said no. ”

              The USA has weird delineations between who has jurisdiction over what. Like the Army is only allowed up to a certain altitude, and beyond that it goes to the Air Force. The Department of Energy is primarily responsible for nuclear power and weapons, while the Interior handles oil, coal and gas if I recall correctly.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I think you have summed up quite well where the starting point is for discussions on this web site….

      We are so far along now that nothing — barring a miracle can intervene — we are just about done with BAU…

      It’s when, the how, and the aftermath that are relevant.

    • Dan Rather says:

      Wake me when CHK goes under. Another miracle rescue and stock rebound, you notice. This can be kept going at least as long as the energizer bunny.

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      Interesting article. Thanks!

  36. “Øyvind, how come it’s impossible to go from cars back to horses when it was perfectly possible to go from horses to cars, and there was a very elaborate and expensive infrastructure around horses and horse transport that somehow got replaced? The answer, of course, is that you’re letting the myth of progress do your thinking for you. You don’t make the transition all at once, any more than cars replaced horses all at once, and so the ordinary depreciation of the infrastructure that has to be replaced does much of the work for you. The only “high tech trap” exists in the minds of those who can’t see outside of the very narrow tunnel of progress.” – John Michael Greer

    Follow the discussion between me and Eivind Berge to his post “Can industrial civilization be saved?”. Is Gail Tverberg caught in “the very narrow tunnel of progress”, in spite of that she foresees the rapid end of industrial civilization? Or is the “high tech trap” real? Can we go back as Greer proclaims? How far back will we fall? Is the InGroup-Democracy of Terje Bongard possible, or will it claim way too much resources? What with an anti-collapse army? These and many more subjects are put on the table. Please feel free to participate. Any perspective to illuminate these very relevant and important issues are welcome!

    http://eivindberge.blogspot.no/2016/02/can-industrial-civilization-be-saved.html

    • Fast Eddy says:

      After you post about the Koombaya world that can never exist… that one without war etc….

      I think I’ll hang here….

      • Ahh, the InGroup-Democracy of Terje Bongard. We might have got it if we started back in the seventies, but we didn’t have the knowledge then. Anyway, he’s about to translate his book into English just by himself this year. Here’s the first chapter.

        – “The biological Human Being – individuals and societies in light of evolution”: https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/wp-content/uploads/Bongard-The_biological_human_-_chapter_1_translated-Language-corrected-1.pdf

        For Scandinavian readers, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, please listen to the podcast with Terje Bongard at Levevei.no.

        – Episode 66: Inngruppa som styrende prinsipp i et bærekraftig demokrati: http://www.levevei.no/2013/02/episode-66-inngruppa-som-styrende-prinsipp-i-et-baerekraftig-samfunn/

        I know Fast Eddy is not so found of great thinkers, after debunking Kunstler, one of my favourites. Bongard is in the same league!

        • Van Kent says:

          Øyvind, how to solve this predicament of ours? I believe that has been pondered for decades now, By people way smarter then I am, but I see the problem like this;
          – We have built a global system that grows or collapses. Everything, including us being alive is based on that system growing ad infinitum. To overthrow this system would require a global “revolution” of billions of people being of like mind.
          – A global collapse has never happened like this before. Our species is very stupid concerning things that has not yet happened. We can imagine all sorts of things (think about flying horses, UFO religions etc. etc.) and believe them to be absolutely true. We are utterly incapable of logic and reasoning concerning something that will happen, but has not yet happened.
          – Most people know something is wrong. But as long as the ATMs works, cash comes out of the wall, groceries have food in them, the grid is still working, they are not capable of doing any changes in their mental “box”. They will simply refuse to entertain a reality where billions will soon die of starvation and diseases.

          For a global revolution to happen, for billions of people to be of like mind, that would require the human brain to be calibrated to reality, which it is not.

          I like your way of thinking and respect your will to find “solutions”. But solutions are not possible because our brains work the way they work. What is coming is coming nonetheless, there is nothing we can do to “fix” this.

          The only logical thing to do is to plan what you can do, having a checklist of sorts, for today, when SHTF, day 1 of Post-BAU and year 2 of Post-BAU. Build relationships, learn skills, find out who needs what where, how, in what form and how you can get those things without fuel or a working grid. Everything else is more or less a waste of your time, and time is running short. And if you want your brain to be calibrated to reality, then you will have to entertain the idea that whatever you do, you can not control virulent strains, mass migrations of millions or billions of people, lousy weather that causes famines, polluted water supplies, nuclear reactors decaying and becoming time bombs, seas from rising and becoming toxic for life. If all this is agreeable to you, then you have joined the “doomers” who actually have their brains calibrated to reality, despite most people see them as “wackos”.

          • MM says:

            Our success is based on the ability to use tools. It gives our brains a cick to use tools. (check out the megacancer website). The problem here is that 85% use the tools provided without thinking, 14% use the tools with thinking (the voters of the greens in europe have abbout 15%) and 1% make the tools we all use. I bet a prepper falls in the 1% group. the rest ? They must hope/wait/dream for a technofix

    • MM says:

      It is impossible because admitting collapse will crash all societies immediately.
      All people will head off incontrollable for any action that they see viable and that is not necesserily that of your neighbour over the street.
      It can only happen, when collapse is not officially mentioned nowhere. In quiet. I think they try it now but it is very hard as everyone wants to have the best starting position.
      For example China: The millions of home they built, they have them now. If collapse is in 2022 they will still be usable….
      On the other hand, admitting collapse will also lead to a lot of resistance on the information corner and on the libertarian corner. It will only work like climate change: Admit it but do not do anything against it, so the people think, it is been taken care of and no problem. If you REALLY act on your programm it will immediately spin out of control because the people would understand the thread (to their own lifes)

      • millions of Chinese homes will NOT be usable.
        They have built 20/30 story towers.
        Think about that!
        To live in a tower that high you need food, water and waste disposal.
        Those 3 factors will make tower blocks uninhabitable within days

    • I can never quite get my head around some of Greer’s statements–weird stuff sometimes.
      there are some very basic answers about the ‘returning to horse power’ problem
      The foremost among them being that a horse needs about 2 acres for its exclusive energy source base. (that never gets mentioned)
      We dont have enough free space available to feed horses, we used it all up for ourselves.
      When Henry ford started building cars, his initial idea was something to replace the horse, where a rural farmer could set aside a few acres of corn to convert into ethanol to provide fuel. (basically moonshine)
      He did not envisage building 15 million model T’s and changing the global environment, neither did he have a billion buggy users waiting expectantly for him to “come up with something”—which is where we are at right now.
      His motor empire was an accident of circumstance, where one development begat others–tyres, roads, filling stations, tankers and so on, each building and expanding in tandem, driven entirely by seemingly infinite oil supplies.
      We burned oil to create jobs through infinite debt, and thus created our “modern infrastructure”–we cannot now choose to reverse that process and start using horses again, and simultaneously retain an industrial infrastructure.
      In due course we may just be brought to that, but it will be unwillingly, and only after we have reduced the global population back to that of pre-1700–when there was sufficient space to provide horse feed

      • worldofhanumanotg
        worldofhanumanotg says:

        The horse meme is not valid anyway, at it’s peak late 19th – first half 20th century it was also just derivative of global trade (grains, sugars, ..), the local economies and work was prior industrial age dependent mostly on oxen and donkeys, while horses were mostly elite/war-machine tool as I said only the gains of efficiency-productivity-stealing from other continents (coal steam ships/railways) allowed for more small scale farmer horsey implements. We can’t go back to horses, they eat too much (need quality forage), and the smaller breeds can’t do heavy till, it’s just nonsense. We can patch up some quasi steam punk with slow steam rail roads, no till agro etc., but at 1/x fraction of today’s pop. That perhaps the most optimistic scenario for 2040-21xx timeframes..

        • if you’re going to use a draft animal to do heavy labour, then you have the same EROEI equation as any other form of traction
          The physical size of the beast relates exactly to the amount of work it can do, and the nature of the soil it has to work.
          The necessary energy to do that work is derived from the land it lives on–ie–grazing.

          the origin of the word “morning” comes from the same root as land area in old Germanic “morgen”—meaning the area of land that could be ploughed in a certain time frame (a morning) before draft animals were exhausted.

          • 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.
            Gail Tverberg says:

            It is important in this calculation how much food the horse actually needs to eat to get the labor provided. I understand hat in the past,at least in cold areas very small horses were used so they dis not eat up all the profits of the farm.

            • the same equation would apply to pit ponies.
              you couldnt have a carthorse such as a a clydesdale down a mine because the hieght of the animal (and thus the the size of the tunnel needed to accommodate it) would outweigh the muscle power benefits of its use.
              animal utilisation can really only be determined by the experience of the handlers in specific places.

            • “One thing: it will take a minimum of 60 years for there to be as many horses in the United States as there were in 1900. That is a biological fact, and assumes breeding every female as much as possible, with no premature deaths.” – John D. Wheeler

              “The horse is overrated. Taurus or even cows work well and are cheaper and well as good a horse. In Sweden and Norway were used oxen (and cows) as draft animals well into the 1900s. It was even common. Horse competed out ox largely because the machines that were built needed to be run faster. Many farmers were unhappy with it when the ox is cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. But as you mention it is a limit to scaling up the amount of both oxen and horses. Moreover, today’s dairy cows are presumably ill-suited to a stressful life. In Norway, there are old breeds which remain. They you should be sure to save.” – Christopher

              http://eivindberge.blogspot.no/2016/02/can-industrial-civilization-be-saved.html?showComment=1455971139026#c3814266119326825168

            • “The horse is overrated. Taurus or even cows work well and are cheaper and well as good a horse.”

              One benefit I’ve heard is that horses are smarter and easier to train and discipline. Oxen are easily distracted by food, and do not respond to training the way horses do.

      • There were a lot of hay barns around in the forest for harvesting grass from the large marshlands, which are now not in use. Here’s a ruin from one of these haybarns by the Svenskemyra Marshlands where I live: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kj%C3%B8rbru_ved_Svenskemyra.JPG

      • InAlaska says:

        I think Greer would agree with you that none of what he is talking about is possible without a massive decline in human population. He is not a simpleton. All of the “solutions” or scenarios we discuss here will have to be based on the premise of much lower human population.

        • Don Stewart says:

          Dear InAlaska
          I agree that Greer probably expects a significant decline in population. A few years ago I was in a meeting with him and we struck up a conversation. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he spied Bill Catton, and quickly excused himself from whatever pearls of wisdom I might have imparted and went to talk to the Overshoot man.

          Don Stewart

  37. B9K9 says:

    You guys are wasting your time following daily tactical news aka financial affairs since the real game is the global strategic arena. The moves against Russia, Syria, et al by a US led coalition (including proxies such as the KSA & Turkey) tell you everything you need to know.

    War powers, national security claims and other emergency measures are the time tested techniques to freeze wages & prices, allocate resources, ration food, restrict travel, and clamp down on disapproved speech & assembly.

    You can watch it unfold with disbelieving eyes, or you can prepare & plan ahead. The PTB are no going to willingly give up their power, wealth & prestige without a fight. There will be war, there will be measures taken to control domestic order, and there will be those who predicted it and will benefit accordingly.

    • xabier says:

      Or, rephrased:

      The War Without End has started, extensive measures have been taken to control domestic order (privacy has long gone) and repress dissent, and those who can see this will place themselves accordingly. In general terms:

      1/ Do not be nail that sticks out: it will be hammered in.

      2/ If possible live in a zone of prime domestic strategic significance, not the periphery which will be abandoned gradually or even rapidly (unless that appeals and seems viable.)

      3/ Possess and trust only those assets which a government of ‘National Unity/Regeneration’ will be unlikely to confiscate, and which local mafias, and corporations, won’t want to get their hands on by using force or political connections.

      For instance, a garden for food -if that appeals – which attracts no attention; not prime farmland, forestry land, which will tempt the powerful and corrupt.

      • xabier says:

        And

        4/ Reconcile yourself to the fact that everything is in the hands of the gods.

        And the gods probablyhave much better things to do than worry about your fate. 🙂

      • Rick Grimes says:

        >>>2/ If possible live in a zone of prime domestic strategic significance, not the periphery which will be abandoned gradually or even rapidly (unless that appeals and seems viable.)

        So what you’re saying is that, in general, people will be better off in the Strong Cities for the short to medium term?

        https://www.eda.gov/challenges/sc2challenge/

        I find it hard to believe that city dwellers will be better off than rural communities when things start to go south.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          Somehow, you need to pick the date when things go south, and get out before then. Somehow you need to learn all of the skills to survive in an area where you have no friends, no land, and (otherwise) no skills.

          Alternatively, decide to stay near the core, and live as long as 99% of the population does.

        • Until the invention of the cannon, walled cities were the main living-focus in Europe and elsewhere with the necessary resources to build them.

          Walled cities were sustained by surrounding farmland. In times of danger, everyone crowded in behind the walls, bringing in food and animals , stripping the surrounding countryside.
          It was then a test of endurance, as to which side could outlast the other, through disease and starvation—both would increase as a siege went on.

          Where real safety on a personal level lay was pretty much down to luck.

        • “So what you’re saying is that, in general, people will be better off in the Strong Cities for the short to medium term?
          https://www.eda.gov/challenges/sc2challenge/
          I find it hard to believe that city dwellers will be better off than rural communities when things start to go south.”

          I think more like better to be farming in New York State than in Puerto Rico. Or better in Manhattan then Detroit. Better in America than Argentina. The outside edges collapse first, and the core last. Like a person freezing to death, you get frostbite as the circulation is cut off from the extremities to protect the core from hypothermia, so it is better to be a cell in the torso then in a finger or toe.

          • InAlaska says:

            Yes that’s it. Capitol cities in the most developed countries (America, Europe, Australia/New Zealand) and cities of high finance (New York, London) will be safest the longest, as will prime farmland near capitol cities (say, a day’s drive).

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              Often cities are built on the most productive land which originally fed them when the city was much smaller – acres rather than sq miles. Even so New York gets [or did] 25% of its fresh produce from within the city limits. So modern paving is doing our future a disservice, because the ground under paving goes infertile.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      So it’s war….

      You have recommended going long property….

      ‘In Fact, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the 1970s and the 1980s, all saw periods of significant price declines’

      http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortages-real-estate/11/the-truth-about-the-real-estate-market.asp

      http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/08/26/weekinreview/27leon_graph2.html

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      The title of the article is “Russia says to expect an oil shortage in four years.” It is good someone is making this point.

  38. Rodster says:

    5.1 earthquake off the coast of the Fukushima NPP.

    • Problems Keep Piling Up in Fukushima
      http://m.voanews.com/a/problems-keep-piling-up-in-fukushima/3194401.html
      Nine million cubic meters of radioactive waste, much of it soil, are stored unsheltered in black bags throughout Fukushima prefecture, preventing tens of thousands of residents from returning home…An estimated 13 million cubic meters of toxic soil is yet to be collected and technicians have yet to solve the contamination issue inside the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant…
      If another major earthquake hits and results in a tsunami, there will be major setbacks, admits the nuclear plant’s manager, Akira Ono.

      And the water
      “Instead, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continues to delay those decision, so we see the continual buildup of more stored water, because TEPCO can’t decide what to do with it. An experienced program management company could make those decisions,” said Maher, a senior advisor at NMV Consulting in Washington.

      The black bags of radioactive soil – now scattered at 115,000 locations across in Fukushima – are eventually to be moved to yet-to-be built interim facilities, encompassing 16 square kilometers, in two towns close to the crippled nuclear power plant.
      Minamisoma Mayor Sakurai, speaking Wednesday in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, chastised the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for getting its priorities wrong since the 2011 disaster.

      “Economy, economy, economy,” the mayor asserted, is the central government’s mantra

      It’s ALWAYS about the MONEY, right Gail?
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E-P2qL3qkzk

      • 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.
        Gail Tverberg says:

        Actually, it is about the energy that the money might buy.

  39. Fast Eddy says:

    An outstanding portrait of what man is capable of… and an absolutely brilliant documentary

    https://thepiratebay.se/search/Which%20Way%20Is%20the%20Front%20Line%20From%20Here?/0/99/200

  40. hkeithhenson
    hkeithhenson says:

    While a lot of the readers are jawing about how the world is ending, there are some who are working away on extending business as usual into the indefinite future. The power satellite economics Google group is one of them:

    Power satellite infrastructure deployment

    This is rough, and not yet fully integrated into the business case.

    We assume that the Skylons fly every other day and each delivers at least 15 tons of payload or fuel to a 300 km cargo accumulation orbit. Because 300 km is relatively low (and high drag), we don’t keep anything in LEO any longer than it takes to accumulate the cargo. The first cargo delivered to LEO is a kit to build the first propulsion power satellite (PPS). It’s about 4000 tons plus 1550 tons of reaction mass spit between LOX/LH2 for the rocket engines and LH2 for the arcjets.

    This takes 370 Skylon flights.

    Cargo to build the first PPS we boost to 2000 km using a Hohmann transfer orbit. We propose using rockets with performance similar to SSME. The reason for chemical rockets and sending it up as a kit is to avoid a long exposure of a large object to space junk. We unpack and assemble the PPS at 2000 km and turn it on. Using arcjets, the PPS goes up in a spiral orbit under its own power to 18,000 km.

    The second cargo assembly in LEO is the second PPS plus a tug, plus worker habitat and tools/jigs for the construction base (CB) at 12,000 km. The first PPS beams powers the tug which moves the combined stack from LEO to the CB. The workers (who go up with the cargo) put together the 2nd PPS and it spirals out using its own power and a set of arcjets to 18,000 km. The tug returns at the same time from the CB to LEO. Both the first and second PPS probably have a few people as crew to fix what robots can’t. (We can afford habitat for a few people in an object ten times as large as the ISS.)

    Starting mass is ½ of nominal, 10,500 tons, 700 flights.

    On power from one PPS the tug takes about the same 30 days with a half load as a full load would take with twice the power.

    While this is going on, Skylon flights take up the parts for the 2nd tug plus a full load of power satellite parts plus fuel, 15,000 tons of parts, plus 4000 tons of reaction mass plus a 2000 ton tug. This takes 1400 flights.

    Now there are two tugs and two PPSs in space, so the 4th and following cargo stacks plus fuel mass 19,000 tons or 1267 flights. Since we can power two tugs at a time, we need 2533 flights per month, or 84/day. This would take a vehicle fleet of 168 Skyons if we can fly them every other day.

    There are a number of minor uncertainties. One of them is salvaging fuel from the Skylons. This would somewhat reduce the number of flights.

    • shopatIDEA says:

      Ah shall we do a compare and contrast of two of your sentences.

      “This takes 1400 flights.”
      “There are a number of minor uncertainties”

      How many flights have taken place now today in reality? I understand that before actualization there has to be a idea then a plan. Somewhere down the road a lot of people started to believe that the idea was the actualization. This is idea worship. I think you drink the koolaid. Just my opinion.

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        ” I think you drink the koolaid”

        The beverage was not Kool-Aid but as Flavor Aid, a less-expensive product (Wikipedia)

        Would you rather promoted a hopeless world view like Fast Eddy?

        The uncertainly might reduce the number of flights by 10%. As far as the number of flights go, it’s zero of any new vehicle before the first one flies. Consider the 747 which has made a bucket of money for Boeing and the 787 which nearly sunk the company.

        • Kurt says:

          Not koolaid. All I can say is, “man, what are you smokin?” That many flights is, as Mike Tyson would say, “ludicrous.”

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “That many flights is, as Mike Tyson would say, “ludicrous.””

            The actual flights needed if humans are to get off fossil fuels in less than a decade and using power satellites is about a million per year. That’s a lot of flights, but a million flights is ten days of commercial airline traffic. It would take 4 or 5 expensive runways and a large capacity for manufacturing Skylons

            The alternative is about 1/4 of that number in Falcon Heavy launches. That’s a lot of launches, but I hesitate to call it ludicrous. It’s a big problem, don’t be surprised if it takes a large solution.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The whole concept is ludicrous :

            Drawbacks

            The SBSP concept also has a number of problems:

            The large cost of launching a satellite into space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

            Any time the mole comes out — I’ll just wack it with that…. over and over and over….

            • But’ Fast Eddy, surely all these can be worked out as we progress. Just like we are doing with the nuclear power industry. Remember Julian Simon claimed the human intellect is infinite and can solve any limitation.

            • richard says:

              Trust me, if somebody can figure out how to turn a profit from this, no matter how insane, it will be done.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “if somebody can figure out how to turn a profit from this”

              Indeed. It looks like someone can make power for 3 cents a kWh (or less) and sell it for considerably more, making energy grow to where eventually they will create a market for sunshades in L1 to keep the Earth from overheating. It will take a while even at high growth rates.

              BTW, steam turbines are twice as efficient as solar panels.

            • “making energy grow to where eventually they will create a market for sunshades in L1 to keep the Earth from overheating”

              That’ll be fun, living on a dim, hot Earth that requires constant geo-engineering to compensate for the ever-increasing consumption of energy.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “dim, hot Earth”

              The Puppeteers found this to their liking.

              “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierson%27s_Puppeteers#Homeworld.E2.80.94The_Fleet_of_Worlds”

              Yeah, I know it’s just fiction. But it’s really good fiction.

    • tim – Florida, USA
      timl2k11 says:

      The Skylon does not exist and may never will. It is “proposed” that test flights will begin in 2025 (!). 84 flights a day? Are you kidding?

      • hkeithhenson
        hkeithhenson says:

        84 flights a day will build about 10 power satellites a year. The actual need to get off fossil fuels in less than a decade is for 400 a year (2 TW) which takes around 3000 flights a day. That sounds like an awful lot, but a million flights is around ten days of commercial airline traffic or around one part in 36 of that traffic. So the Skylon takeoffs would increase total takeoffs by less than three percent. Big as it is, 84 a day is just a pilot project.

        There is a way to cut the Skylon flights by a factor of two. You put multi GW lasers in GEO and focus them on hydrogen heaters in the Skylon wings. This lets you leave out the 150 tons of oxygen and increases payload from 15 tons to about 30. See the figures here: http://www.theenergycollective.com/keith-henson/362181/dollar-gallon-gasoline

        I was originally reluctant to discuss this because the beam from a 4 GW laser has the energy content of a ton of TNT per second (3.6 kT/hour). Do we really want our overlords to be able to zap us (on clear days) from space? But after a while, it dawned on me that they already can. There isn’t any difference in being evaporated by a big laser and blown to bits by Hellfire rockets dropped from a Predator drone.

        • Excellent! We need a crash and spend Government/Corporate with you the head of it, Keith. You seem like a can do guy that will overcome potential unforseen technical difficulties. 10 years….I may live to see it….ugh…that’s if Gail and a host of others here are way off the mark in what they foresee. If I may be so bold to ask, what is the lifespan of each satellite? I read the orbital area is getting crowded and is this a limiting factor in your scheme?

          https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-life-span-of-satellites

          When I was working with satellites, the standard “design life”, on which many design decisions were made, was 10-15 years. The reason is that space is insanely hostile. Beyond anything people are typically familiar with. Hostile environments of temperature, vacuum, ionizing radiation and such are all stress factors that accelerate failure mechanisms in every engineered object or system. Space is sort of a worst-case scenario. It’s part of why there hasn’t been a manned Mars mission yet.
          And 10-15 year is actually pretty good. Current minimum geometry transistors in integrated circuits operating in tame Earth environments have reach similar usable lifetimes. The lifetime of things like satellites is complicated by the fact that you can’t bring them back or easily replace them if they do fail, so enormous efforts are made to make accurate reliability predictions. It’s an iterative thing: you set a target lifetime and design components to achieve that and then validate components to assure you meet the target

          http://m.sodahead.com/united-states/space-junk-threat-worries-space-station-are-humans-over-crowding-our-orbit-already/question-279576/

          Today, it is estimated that only 800 satellites are operational – roughly 45 percent of these are both in LEO and GEO. Space debris comprise the ever-increasing amount of inactive space hardware in orbit around the Earth as well as fragments of spacecraft that have broken up, exploded or otherwise become abandoned. About 50 percent of all trackable objects are due to in-orbit explosion events (about 200) or collision events (less than 10).

          Of course, we can “clean up” space junk and just add it to the budget. Should be no problem because cost and expense will be of no concern. Right?

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            Even if you were not joking, I am too old to run this project–and don’t have the personality type anyway. But you have good points, for example, lifetime of a power satellite. Communication satellites tend to be limited by their consumption of station keeping reaction mass. Power satellites will be resupplied and maintained by robots or humans as backup. The economic models have a large provision for maintenance. I see no reason they would not last as long as power stations on the ground, which is to say around 50 years.

            Space environment is differently hostile. Light structures are not subject to gravity and wind. If they were not around 100 times less massive than ground solar, power satellites would not make sense.

            Space junk is major problem. It’s the reason you can’t build power satellites in LEO and expect them to fly out to GEO under their own power. Space junk is the reason the first GW propulsion power satellite has to use chemical rockets to get out to 2000 km before it is unpacked and sent out to station using arcjets. Boeing figured this out in the 1970s. I reworked the math recently and found that a power satellite in LEO would be hit 40 times on the way out, all the hits below 2000 km.

            In the long run, it is worth cleaning up the junk. The best way is probably ablation lasers in the tens of MW or larger. In a high orbit, they would pulse at space junk headed toward them, slowing it down and drop it into the atmosphere. The little stuff they could just evaporate. It’s been carefully considered and the cost estimated (not by me). While it’s a lot of money, it’s a drop in the bucket in the context of a big power satellite project.

            Orbital slots are not a problem for power satellites. You can place them much closer since you are not concerned with microwave beam divergence up from Earth. The limit is shading, and for that you incline the orbits slightly with the nodes at midnight and noon. That spreads them out at 6 am and 6 pm. They can also serve as platforms and power supplies for comm sats.

            Incidentally, Gail showed up at a power satellite workshop last Dec and gave us our marching orders, a price per kWh target.

            You make good points. You might consider signing on to the Google group Power Satellite Economics.

            • Last 50 years? Boy, you have a very lively imagination that sees no reason why!

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              They don’t have to last more than 20 years to give 3 cent per kWh power. But given maintenance, what do you see as shortening their life?

              I do know of one thing that might take out the lot of them, a GRB like the one that hit in 774 or 775. At least the control electronics needs to be shielded to that level.

            • “They don’t have to last more than 20 years to give 3 cent per kWh power. But given maintenance, what do you see as shortening their life?”

              Protons, radiation, solar winds. All the things mentioned in the Wikipedia article previously provided, showing a 2 percent per year decay in performance of solar panels in space. That doesn’t really seem too bad. If you use a method different from PVC, then the problems will probably be quite different.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “If you use a method different from PV”

              I tend to favor thermal systems which are 2-3 times as efficient as PV. That reduces the area and therefore the light pressure on a power satellite. But I have recently been looking into high concentration PV since the work with steam turbines had to solve the problem of radiating lots of waste heat. (HCPV takes a flow of water or something to get rid of the waste heat.) The high concentration cells are at 45% now and will probably hit 50% before being installed in space. They don’t show as much radiation degradation, but if you have to replace them, they are a small fraction of the mass of regular PV.

              There are lots of energy options, including the possibility that something like ecat or fusion could come out of the woodwork and completely wipe out the market for low cost power satellites.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Keith – am I correct that you were a contributor to the oil drum web site?

              I can understand why it shut down….

              Hopefully we don’t get any more of the Koombaya disease coming over from that site …. it would degrade the quality of FW substantially if that were to happen…

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              The Oil Drum had a variety of problems, including too many preconceived ideas of staff members. I wouldn’t blame Keith for The Oil Drum problems. All he did was write a few articles.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Not only Keith but from what I have seen there seem to have been a number of others that were posting all sorts of ridiculous hopium on that site…. who disagreed with the conclusions of FW…

              It is valuable to have dissenting arguments…. but when they are exposed as illogical hopium …and still they get posted over and over and over…. it creates a lot of useless clutter…..

              What we need is a tool that can capture the energy of the key strokes and turn it into electricity….

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Inaccessibility: Maintenance of an earth-based solar panel is relatively simple, but construction and maintenance on a solar panel in space would typically be done telerobotically. In addition to cost, astronauts working in GEO orbit are exposed to unacceptably high radiation dangers and risk and cost about one thousand times more than the same task done telerobotically.

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

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

            • Using robots instead of humans to do the work seems a fairly easy solution to the inaccessibility problem. We are well on our way to replacing most humans with robots anyways. That’s why I think worrying about Uber is nonsense; in two or three years the taxis will all be automated anyway (assuming BAU), so the drivers would have to compete with $0 wages.

              The wear and tear seems to be the real problem.

              The debris problem was already addressed without mentioning the price, other than to say large but not insurmountable, using laser beams to destroy the debris or push it into atmosphere to burn up.

        • Kevin Biel says:

          Good god man! Free energy got us into this. If your pipe dream could be created tomorrow it would not be desirable. Our species is unfit to wield free energy. Are you on anti depressants or ADD meds? I ask because of what I see in your spinning spinning thoughts. Its your life if you want to spend your time but you do understand that these grandiose plans do not exist and will never exist right? If you actually believe that your thoughts create or will lead to what you describe im sorry in my opinion you do not have a firm grasp. You are not the only one however..

          My perspective is that our species a belief that everything is a resource for us to be consumed is quite insane and that any legitimate wok that values our continuance must address that problem. We are unfit to weilld the technology we control now. More powerful energy sources and technology work against our continuance. I think you engage in this preoccupation out of a sense of ego not any true desire for progress.

          • “My perspective is that our species a belief that everything is a resource for us to be consumed is quite insane and that any legitimate wok that values our continuance must address that problem.”

            By this definition, all living things are insane. In fact, the Universe itself must be insane. From single celled organisms right on up to Galaxies, they all consume, consume, consume until there is nothing left, then they die. What makes humans so special, that we should judge them more harshly than everything else, for behaving the same way?

            • nature intends that we should consume until there is no more available, which is not the same as “nothing left”
              availability of ‘whatever’ defines the strongest. Thus if the only available sustenance is at the top of a tree or runs fast, then the one who gets it survives to breed–while most do not. Food, as a general rule is intended to be elusive or scarce…..nothing wants to be an energy source for anything else.
              If no one gets it, or the foodsource has been consumed out of existence–then the species dies out
              Nature is brutally indifferent I’m afraid

            • Rick Grimes says:

              Good call! We’re just a microcosm of energy consumption. Humanity is a legend in its own mind. Just a blip.

            • no species can exist and thrive without consuming the energy resources of another
              that’s how nature works. there are no exceptions to that law, and it applies to all forms of life. Consume and be consumed.
              with the use of fire, humankind evolved a short term advantage in this respect, and we renamed ourselves homo sapiens because of it
              once we had fire, we had no further choice in our use of it–we had to increase resource consumption until we reached the point where there was no more available.
              We are close to that point right now.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              Unfortunately, that is the way the system seems to work.

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “spinning spinning thoughts”

            Sigh. I only wish they had spun faster. I worked on this project on and on since 1975, intensely over the last ten years. It was only early last year that we were finally able to close the business case.

            If you like Fast Eddy’s future more than mine, you are free to do so.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If we are to have make-believe, impossible, ridiculous futures then I can beat you at that game…

              In my alternative future war does not exist… crime does not exist……. everyone has caviar and champagne for dinner while dancing about the fire singing Koombaya…. free love is on offer for all… nobody is fat, bald, racist, rude,stupid…. we have clean, unlimited energy… resources are also unlimited…. there is no disease…. peace love peace love peace love koombaya

              To envision how awesome my future is — listen to Imagine — then imagine Imagine was not a fairy tale of bullshit rather it is possible… If you close your eyes and hope with all your might.

              So is it Keith’s future with solar panels in space – or Fast Eddy’s future (unlimited free love…)

              Vote Now!

            • Dan Rather says:

              “If you like Fast Eddy’s future more than mine, you are free to do so.”

              FE acknowledges our species inabilities to use powerful technology appropriately. You do not. . I believe that the truth must be acknowledged in order for appropriate decisions to be made. In that FE actions reflect sanity while yours do not. Neither you or FE create the future. FE doesnt believe what he “likes” creates the future but apparantly you do. I value sanity.

              Ill interpet your statement above. ” if you dont believe in MOAR you are a monster like FE”
              When very simple and very obvious questions are raised about your posts imaginary content its appropriateness , its basis in reality and your motives you do not respond you immediately present a false dichotomy.

              ” well if you would rather”
              “if you like”

              This is one of the most common methods of avoiding any discussions that are contrary to a agenda.

              There are a couple of possibilities. One is that you believe that what you “like” and what you “rather” actually determines the future. I consider this to be quite insane although very common.

              I would like to date beyonce. I would rather date beyonce. You would not disagree that my chances of dating Beyonce are effectivly zero. Even as slim as those chances are they are greater than the chances of your death star project having even one launch. So thats one possibility. You are off your rocker.

              The other possibility and the more likely one is you are a con man selling hopiyum to gullible fools. This would fit in to your technique of “the little engine who could” sales pitch
              I think I can
              I think I can
              I think I can

              Yet beyonce stil doesnt return my e-mails. I must not be trying hard enough!

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “FE acknowledges our species inabilities to use powerful technology appropriately. You do not.”

              I don’t know what you mean by “powerful technology.” Chipped rocks? Fire? Integrated circuits? In any case, what some of us can see coming, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence put all previous “powerful technology” in the shade.

              “Appropriately” is another loaded word. Are sewers and sewer treatment plants “appropriate”? They certainly contribute to the now huge population of our species in the developed world.

              TPTB are a myth. But the descendents of Watson may become major powers over human society.

              Is this good or bad? Or both? I have thought about this since about 1980. Eventually I wrote a strange story about it set in Africa. http://www.terasemjournals.org/GNJournal/GN0202/henson1.html

              Over the years there has been much discussion around the story. For example:

              >You paint a nice picture of life in the seed, *but* who here has not
              >heard of the Gatesian “blue screen of death”? 🙂

              Sheesh. At _best_ that story paints an ambivalent picture. It can
              certainly be read as an “end of humanity” tragedy.
              . . . .

              >Anyway, that might help realize that part of your vision a little
              >sooner than SPS systems.

              If we don’t solve the energy problem, my vision of the future is more
              like a nightmare.

              http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2008-November/046637.html

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘my vision of the future is more like a nightmare’

              We won’t solve the energy problem — it is simply not possible.

              So you can either pick up a family sized jug of Abilify….. continue to smoke the hopium pipe…. or reach out your hand and I’ll pull you aboard the good ship Doomsday…..

              It’s actually not so bad on the Doomsday once you realize that you don’t have to worry about the future….

              Got health problems… financial difficulties…. kids who are 25 and working as pizza delivery boys and surfing porn in your basement…. got a nagging wife/husband…. hate your job…. suffering from anxiety…depression….

              Once you get on board the Doomsday all of those worries vapourize…. we are sailing pleasantly into the sunset…. and then we all sink to the bottom of the ocean…. together….

          • Fast Eddy says:

            There’s a movie here… perhaps a spin off of back to the future with this guy playing keith

            http://satireworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Doc-Brown.jpg

        • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
          ejhr2015 says:
        • MM says:

          Your comparison with air travel does not hold in my opinion because airplane turbines are under severe material stress and need to be checked every week or so. A rocket blastin up into space is much more stress to the materials. As of wikipedia one skylon can be reused 200 times and this is unproven so you have to re-buy your entire fleet of lets say 100 every 20000 flights, that means 50 times!
          You claim one platform can create 2 TW of energy. The desertec magic trick is a CSP at 2 TW as well, it costs around 8 billion. I bet you can not beat that, have you calculated that ? And you need to build a new grid infrastructure to divert the energy from the microwave dish, that can also be used for ground based CSP. They will for sure be a much better solution, because the handling of this mahinery is much simpler. If one platform fails, you will need a flight into orbit vs a heli that can be used to access a CSP. Your strategy is not viable.

          • Of course, Keith will see no problem with that at all…it can all be ‘worked’ out.
            OY

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              How about laying off Keith? You may not agree with him, but just let it go. If there is a specific things you don’t agree with, point them out, but lay off endless complaining about what Keith says.

              I need commenters from a variety of perspectives, especially ones who are reading scientific articles that they consider worthwhile, and either sending me them in e-mails or including them in comments. Keith is one of these people.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Gail – might I suggest that Keith be asked to lay off the comments about space solar….

              The reason he is being criticized is because we have heard him out — we have posted very strong arguments as to why SBS is never going to happen including https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

              Yet he persists in flooding the site with the same stuff …

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              Don’t be concerned. I have been harassed by people much worse than any on OFW.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              But never so eloquently as here….

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              Read alt.religion.scientology back around 1998 or 1999. The worse of you don’t hold a candle to wgert. And you don’t harass my neighbors or hire private investigators to follow me around.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Scientology? You mean that crazy madness invented to make Ron L Hubbard rich?

              Fill me in!

            • Ed – I am interested in energy issues.
              Ed says:

              All, setting aside Keith’s particular project he make an important point, the scale of building a new globe spanning energy system from scratch. Regardless of which energy source we consider it is the overwhelming cost in capital, labor both skilled and unskilled, metals, concrete, and energy that could make it impossible.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “that could make it impossible.”

              The scale of the pilot project I am talking about is relatively modest compared to even what we are currently spending on renewable energy. The 400/year build out stage is going to tax industrial capacity world wide, particularly the aircraft industry. Much like a major war, but less destructive. It is worth remembering what has been done in the past, like the Manhattan project and Apollo.

            • hkeithhenson
              hkeithhenson says:

              “no problem with that at all”

              There are lots of problems. But if you Google for AFRL and Skylon, you will find a bunch of stories from the middle of last year. The Air Force Research Lab was given the Skylon and Skylon engine data and the reluctantly said “yeah, this will make a SSTO.”

          • hkeithhenson
            hkeithhenson says:

            “skylon can be reused 200 times”

            That is expected to grow to 500 or a thousand flights and may grow more than that. But you are right in that the project wears out an awful lot of Skylons.

            “one platform can create 2 TW of energy”

            No, two TW takes 400 5 GW power satellites. That’s the production rate per year you need to build out the whole 15 GW humans use in 7.5 years.

            “If one platform fails”

            There has to be a substantial maintenance force in space to build and take care of these things. Plus a number of spares.

            “build a new grid infrastructure”

            The assumption in the developed world is to tie into the existing grid. World wide there would be at least 3000 ground receivers, most of them on poles over farmland. (They don’t block much light.)

            “Your strategy is not viable.”

            It might not be. But you need to understand it better to pick out flaws.

  41. Fast Eddy says:

    “I Guess It’s Food Stamps”: 400,000 Americans In Jeopardy As Giant Pension Fund Plans 50% Benefit Cuts

    Dale Dorsey isn’t happy.

    After working 33 years, he’s facing a 55% cut to his pension benefits, a blow which he says will “cripple” his family and imperil the livelihood of his two children, one of whom is in the fourth grade and one of whom is just entering high school.

    Dorsey attended a town hall meeting in Kansas City on Tuesday where retirees turned out for a discussion on “massive” pension cuts proposed by the Central States Pension Fund, which covers 400,000 participants, and which will almost certainly go broke within the next decade.

    “A controversial 2014 law allowed the pension to propose [deep] cuts, many of them by half or more, as a way to perhaps save the fund,” The Kansas City Star wrote earlier this week adding that “two much smaller pensions also have sought similar relief under the law, and still more pensions are significantly underfunded.”

    “What’s happening to us is a microcosm of what’s going to happen to the rest of the pensions in the United States,” said Jay Perry, a longtime Teamsters member.

    Jay is probably correct.

    Public sector pension funds are grossly underfunded in places like Chicago and Houston, while private sector funds are struggling to deal with rock bottom interest rates, which put pressure on expected returns and thus drive the present value of funds’ liabilities higher.

    Illinois’ pension burden has brought the state to its knees financially speaking and in November, Springfield was forced to miss a $560 million payment to its retirement fund. In the private sector, GM said on Thursday that it will sell 20- and 30-year bonds in order to meet its pension obligations.

    “At the end of last year GM’s U.S. hourly pension plan was underfunded by $10.4 billion,” The New York Times writes. “About $61 billion of the obligations were funded for the plan’s roughly 360,000 pensioners.” Maybe it’s time for tax payers to bail themselves out.

    More http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-18/i-guess-its-food-stamps-400000-americans-jeopardy-giant-pension-fund-plans-50-benefi

    Meanwhile….. let’s see what the asshole brigade has to say – this guy should keep company with Kunstler…..

    “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it…. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people…”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-18/tech-exec-outraged-having-see-homeless-riff-raff-warns-revolution

    • 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.
      Gail Tverberg says:

      I am afraid we can expect more pension benefit cuts.

  42. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-18/i-guess-its-food-stamps-400000-americans-jeopardy-giant-pension-fund-plans-50-benefi

    Looks like the shiny brush metal finish of civilization is starting to warp and bend in deflationary gale force winds. Read that article above to find out about Americans getting up to a 50% cut in their pensions because their pension funds were allowed to do so in a desperate effort to keep them viable. Uh?!

    • Just like we’ve been pointing out here; We all are getting “poorer” as we deplete the “low hanging fruit” and it is manifested in so many different ways.

    • That just confirms the certainty that we are all complicit in a Ponzi scheme
      maybe more and more people are now catching on to that.
      The pity of it is that there doesn’t seem to be a way of getting out of it other than becoming a professional hermit.
      I’ve reached pension age, and am comfortably off, but that nagging feeling never leaves me, that somewhere there is an ethereal pot of money that is “mine” from which monthly payments are made.
      I also know that that pot is being topped up by people paying into it because they are still in employment—when their jobs are no longer ‘producing’ then my particular pot will empty itself pretty quickly, because the entire system can only function on infinite growth.
      Odd, how 40 years ago I never stopped to figure this out—but back then—we had no “Finite World” to cheer us up every morning

      • Here in the USA, I’ve already been alerted years ago to expect 25% less from my Social Security by the Treasury Dept and the Union pension fund has done the same unless additional funding is provided. So, these folks know already what is likely to happen.
        More than likely, it will just be a token dole out, if that.

        • it might come to a token food dole…..foodbanks are maybe just a precursor to that

          • xabier says:

            Indeed it might, I’m assuming it will.

            A bag of potatoes, carrots and onions every week, if lucky.

            If you want anything else, you’ll be on your own.

            Oh well, store up some whisky or whatever now, and it won’t be too miserable!

            Didn’t Roman soldiers end up being paid in beans? At the height of Empire they guarded their accumulated pay in the strongrooms of their own forts.

          • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
            ejhr2015 says:

            The problem won’t be lack of money. It will be that there’s not enough to buy. There can always be enough money, but once the grid goes down and cash is reduced to a scarce commodity [what is happening now] it’s all going to unfold in ways we can’t imagine.

            • interguru
              interguru says:

              Money was once measured in cattle and round stones, Then it went to precious metals, then paper banknotes. Now money is electrons floating in the “cloud”. When the grid goes down it too will evaporate.

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              That’s what I am saying. No grid, no “money” as we know it.

            • cash is irrelevant—though most people still see money as actual wealth rather than tokens of energy exchange

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              Cash is irrelevant in the same sense that in the end we are all dead. It’s not irrelevant while we live.
              But it is just a token as you say. If it’s not a token, then its a barter system.

        • 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.
          Gail Tverberg says:

          The reason why there is close to no liability shown for Social Security and Medicare payments is because there is no guarantee that you will get them. The plan is to adjust amounts down to what taxpayers can afford. I think this is true with government plans almost everywhere.

          Private pensions are running into problems as well. There is a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, but it doesn’t have much funding. In fact, they seem to have a deficit. From their 2015 Annual Statement:

          PBGC’s combined financial position decreased by $14,577 million, increasing the Corporation’s combined deficit (net position) to $76,349 million as of September 30, 2015 an all-time record high, from $61,772 million as of September 30, 2014.

          • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
            ejhr2015 says:

            Sorry, Gail. We don’t foot any bill for past pensions and we will not be footing the future bill for future pensions. The Fed will pay them as they fall due, just as is done now, for all government debt. The old saw that we are leaving a big debt in unfunded liabilities to our children is a complete falsehood. It’s blatant lie fostered by the rich so that we agree to cut welfare etc. We do not need to save for pensions except for private ones. Private pensions don’t have a Fed Reserve behind them to stump up the funds when ever they fall due.

            • 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.
              Gail Tverberg says:

              I did not say that we are leaving a big debt of unfunded pensions to our children. I agree that this is a falsehood.

              I certainly don’t agree that they will be paid in any meaningful way. The system will stop working. This is why we cannot get the government sponsored pensions.

              I think it is utter futility to save for private pensions, for the same reason. The most useful thing debt does is bid up prices of commodities. It does this based on false promises. At best, we have a short time when these promises will pay out as planned.

            • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
              ejhr2015 says:

              I was only mentioning the unfunded liabilities issue because it invariably come up when the uninformed talk about debt. In our current economy money can only circulate while so ever we have the grid. So the future is limited to keeping the grid functional, which is also supposed to be the most complex thing humans do. Which equals vulnerability plus.

    • John Doyle – Seeker of truth in a world of falsehoods
      ejhr2015 says:

      Yeah, but that’s because the government is clueless about the power it has to remedy such problems. It does seem to know how to remedy things for the 0.1% however.

  43. MM says:

    Negative interest rates and the war on cash.
    The public discussion about this topic is gaining momentum (after Davos?)
    I think from an economist view they say that the people are not spending their money. They are all saving. Or are they all paying down debt ? From the double spending theory of lending for banks the amount saved increases as the amount of debt increases but it all sums out to zero.
    The reality seems to be that melting down savings is the last barrier after debt can no longer be increased because there exist no more resource base for future income? Even increasing government debt at breathtaking speed does not increase the amount of products being produced with whats left because all the debt can not create “more value” to the societies. Only net energy can create more value!!!
    Fighting this on the monetary front is nothing more than a theatre for the masses, we are in control, don’t worry.

    • worldofhanumanotg
      worldofhanumanotg says:

      Very good and short summary of the situation, congrats!

      I’d only add, that we can still bomb some nations into the stone-age, Europeans could use more bike pedal and street car, .. , voila so in total we can sort of levitate on the available oil and gas before real depletion spikes get into action around 2025-30.