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

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

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 1. 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.

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 3. US annual growth rates (using "real" or inflation adjusted data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis).

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

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

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 Turkin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

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

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.

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."

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:

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. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    IMF warns the global economy is “highly vulnerable”

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the global economy has weakened further and warned it was “highly vulnerable to adverse shocks”.

    It said the weakening had come “amid increasing financial turbulence and falling asset prices”.

    The IMF’s report comes before the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Shanghai later this week.

    It said China’s slowdown was adding to global economic growth concerns.

    China’s economy, the second-biggest in the world, is growing at the slowest rate in 25 years.

    “Growth in advanced economies is modest already under the baseline, as low demand in some countries and a broad-based weakening of potential growth continue to hold back the recovery,” the Washington-based IMF said.

    Don’t want to hold back the recovery – lol !

  2. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Whiting Petroleum & Continental Resources cease operations in the Bakken.

    • Whiting, ceasing fracking, but continuing to extract oil from wells that are currently operating. Continental Resources is less clear. They currently aren’t doing any fracking, and some believe the change is permanent.

  3. Fast Eddy says:

    Christiane Amanpour – Trapped Deep Inside the Matrix

    CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (CNN) : She just signed for $2 million/year for three years to become the highest-paid field correspondent in TV news.

    ahhhhh….. i see…..

  4. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    I previously mentioned the open source hardware initiative. Here is a link to a TED talk about a year ago:

    I said that I wasn’t sure what the status of this effort was. Still true. I know there was some turmoil in the organization a few years ago. But at least the video, which is about 5 minutes, will give you the idea.

    Don Stewart

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Don – are there any TED talks about what to do when BAU collapses…

      I am specifically after a strategy to deal with a situation whereby neighbours… friends… family show up and ask me for food that I cannot spare….

      Also would be useful to get some info on what to do when violent criminal and/or ex-military types arrive with the intention of taking my homestead….

      Please post links to anything like that if you come across them…. I think I am up to speed on how to grow the food…. so those links are redundant….

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Fast Eddy, is this what you are talking about?

        Good luck with that….remember government officials have scanned your place with drones and know precisely what you are up to and the resources you have available.
        Shouldn’t be too hard to write up a warrent of ownership transfer to those in power…for the good of the public interest.

    • Artleads says:


      He still seems to be thinking of infinite growth, smarter ways to distribute industrial civilization. I did like the shovel stuck into a piece of wood to form a hoe, however. 🙂
      It’snot that I don’t get the practicality of his tools; it’s just that they are not critically applied to the complex nature of the predicament. My 2 cents.

      As to what to do when neighbors show up at your door looking for food… If you hadn’t headed this off already, you might as well kill yourself. The entire point is to work like blazes to form a self-sufficient community that can influence neighboring communities to be self sufficient too, and to cooperate. Now, before SHTF FOR US. But since that is very hard to do, maybe no one will do it. And of course there is also the expectation for this and everything else to work top down…

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And how exactly does one go about that?

        I have a gathering in the neighbourhood this evening… everyone there grows some food … none of us are self-sufficient…. I guarantee that nobody has 10 barrels in their shed filled with sacks of rice beans etc… and many boxes of canned fish, meat, etc… stacked up… nor would any of them have thousands of rounds of ammunition …. two shotguns… a high powered rifle and a 22….

        So should I interrupt the gathering and explain that the world is about to end — the grocery stores will close – the electricity will go down — you need to stock up for this — and you need to enlarge your garden so you can be self sufficient…. oh you also need to get off those electric pumps that you use for irrigation…

        How do you think that will go over?

        Let’s say they all accept what I have to say — they quickly implement a plan. They become self sufficient.

        What about all the people who are nearby — do you think I should go to the Town Council and present these ideas? Do you think they will roll out a plan?

        And what about families and friends of all the people in our area — won’t they be heading our way knowing that we have food?

        What about all the thousands of people in the nearby town who have nowhere to grow food — what do you think they will do when the grocery stores close?

        There are literally well over 500,000 people within a tank of gasoline of our position … 10,000 within a few hours walk…

        What you are suggesting is absurd. It is ridiculous.

        It is massively underestimating the nature of what is going to happen when BAU ends.

        • Artleads says:

          “What you are suggesting is absurd. It is ridiculous.”

          I doubt it. You have to start somewhere. Nothing ever got “constructed” without some preliminary (necessarily vague) impression of a direction. That is all I’m trying to present. I’m not at the point of detail for the entire world. Where the difficult groping at detail comes in is in my own household. I don’t recommend anything that I’m not trying to do myself.

          1) Every household must collect roof rainwater runoff. Although very very low income, I have done that. “If I can do it, you can do it too.”

          2) I grow some backyard garden food every year. Since this is not even attempting to feed my household, I see the need to make corrections. I have to work harder at it by an order of magnitude. I’m making a significant effort in that direction, particularly through experiments I’m making now, in the cold.

          3) I joined the water coop board in my village, and am working on getting every household to store rainwater…with whatever help can be provided through community efforts.

          4) I have presented my efforts to county government, a suggesting how it can be a model for the entire county.

          This is only some of it. I’m an old man, and I know from experience that if you try you will succeed…in some way, even if not the way you intended. So it doesn’t phase me in the least that people in my town, like, like people everywhere within IC, run around like chickens in the backyard, with no clue about anything. They have been bred to be that way. It’s not up to me alone to change them. Pressure to change will inevitably come from other sources. And I’ve never said that I had any concern what the “final” outcome will be. What would be foolish and ridiculous is to think there is a quid pro quo relationship between what I do and what eventual outcomes will be.

          Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don’t influence your surroundings, your surroundings will influence you. Push outward or the outside will push inward on you. So whatever I do is meant as my best take on what the whole world needs to do. Again, one starts in one corner and works outward, always mindful of the whole to be worked on. I can’t offer you any tips on how to survive as an island. That is entirely absurd and ridiculous. I have no time for such self-interested and limited views. Do it my way or wait around to perish.

          • Van Kent says:

            To my experience, people don´t understand words, language, logic, well.. reality. But even if people have severe limitations of understanding, they do react to showing by example. If you show what to do, how to do it, with your own two hands, then it has a possibility of succeeding.

            I like what Artleads is doing. Usually when I start something, it might not go the way I want it to go, but usually “something” happens. Small steps maybe, but in the right direction. And cooperating is in my view the only possible way of building something. We need other people whatever the outcome, whatever the challanges, whatever the horror. Cooperation is the only way forward for me too.

            • Veggie says:

              Van, I totally agree.
              If someone thinks they can survive totally alone….I think they are mistaken.
              In general, we simply don’t have the skill base to take care of everything.
              Not only that, the human energy required is tremendous. Much better to share kills and goods.
              Trading and cooperation is the key.
              But then human nature raises it’s ugly head. Who will be the “Boss” of the group.
              What are the rules. Who can be trusted ???

              Regardless, cooperation among like minded people will be key to survival in a severe downturn.
              Trading food, services, and labor are likely to be currency of the day.
              Nurture and learn as many skills as you can in order to be able to trade and barter.
              Heck, that’s already been going on for hundreds of years with small farmers.
              “You till my small plot and I can offer you 24 eggs and that bit of lumber you needed.”


          • Fast Eddy says:

            Best of luck with your efforts.

            • Veggie says:

              Hey Eddy,
              I’m not saying it will work for sure, in fact I have mentioned earlier that in a total collapse, I have no idea what will be the method which ultimately provides the best chance at survival. I am only speculating.
              I have studied what happens in collapses and my mind changed a lot as the studies progressed. I am a prepper and I am prepped very well. But I am also realistic to the realities of total collapse.
              I used to think that having multiple weapons and varied ammo along with military gear, food cache, and a remote location were the answer. But if you go far enough down the rabbit hole, that too has its issues.
              My solution has been to opt for a dual path, having the ability to take the soft approach and work with others, or disappear and stay remote for some time.
              I am not fixed to any particular methodology.
              Flexibility and adaptability.

            • the only thing you can be certain of is that you will be hit from an angle you never thought of, and by something you didn’t know existed.
              as proof of that—every ‘expert’ in the business thought oil would go on rising and rising until it became unaffordable to all but the very rich

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Special forces military training. Lots of guns and ammo. Lots of diesel. Some like-minded associates.

              Pre SHTF you scope out where the organic growers are — areas where there are those wonderful Sunday markets with Koombaya types selling organic granola and handicrafts….

              When the SHTF — you jump into your vehicles — then you drive out to the Koombayaland … and set up shop …. you establish your kingdom complete with serfs and jus primae noctis ….

              Just so that your subjects understand that you mean business…. you shoot the first person who protests…. it is also useful to have a very brutal police force to put down any dissent…. a dungeon is a must.

        • InAlaska says:

          “There are literally well over 500,000 people within a tank of gasoline of our position … 10,000 within a few hours walk…”

          That is the advantage of and why I live where I live. There are about 20 people who live a few hours walk from my homestead and all 20 of them have lots of their own supplies. There are only about 500,000 people in the whole state.

          Human density is the issue. If you want to survive, move as far north as you can grow food and hide there until its all over.

          • Vince the Prince says:

            I watch that reality cable TV show, Alaska State Troopers, and there are a high number of unsavoury, low life, up to no good types in your State, pardon to be blunt. So, you may think you are “safe and secure”, but you never know. Who knows the plans of the rich and with ethics? I can see some unpleasant occurrences that may happen.

            • Kurt says:

              Well, it is pretty simple. If there is no food where you are, people will move on. Create a 2 month supply of food and put it in an underground bunker big enough to hole up in for 2 months. At the first sign of trouble burn all your crops and get into the bunker. Folks will move on because they don’t know how to farm. After awhile, you can come out and start all over again. Pretty much everyone will be dead by then. However, you will need some way later on of dealing with roving bands. I suggest having a group of at least 50 people, serious firepower, and a lot of dogs. Remember, other people have no interest in taking on a situation where they might get killed. They will be looking for easy pickings.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            There’s a reason why so few people live in the north — it’s because without fossil fuels it would be extremely difficult to survive….

            I am from the northern part of Ontario — the growing season is very short — the winters are long and often below 30C…. I cannot imagine living there without BAU…. I would rather be dead that try.

  5. Ed says:

    The iron fist of Norway. FE will be happy.

    “Norway is ready to abandon the Geneva Convention if Sweden collapses. The border will be closed by force, and Swedish refugees will be rejected without the possibility to seek asylum. “We are prepared for the worst,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.”

    • Ed says:

      and it makes me happy to see someone in Europe has courage and brains.

      • Look at Hungary Q2-Q3 2015, they acted bravely as the first and only against all odds, Norway is just early sign of the northern-westerners trying to weasel out of its prior political correctness dogma, but up to this point were educating everybody on human rights, democracy, evils of Russia, etc..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Exactly what should be done…. continue to bomb… pillage…. destroy where necessary….

      Then when the hordes flee — stop them at the border and send their asses back to where they came from….

      One part of me rejects this —- but another part says this is what must be done ….. otherwise we will all end up like these unfortunate people sooner than later….

      And that is how the world works…. and that is why extinction of humans would be a very big positive.

    • xabier says:

      Someone showing foresight for just this once: clearly they fear that the Swedes will try to wave on surplus refugees and migrants as their own systems are over-whelmed by numbers.

      With the extraordinary level of migration this winter, who knows what next summer might bring? No European state can cope with such an influx of unemployable and unassimilable people (at least, unemployable for several years.)

      Armed confrontations of police and security forces on Europe’s borders are certainly possible.

  6. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    There was some sniping about my mentioning some pictures of North Korean farmers engaged in land restoration projects. Here is the link which describes the work:

    You will note that the North Korean experience is not unlike that of the United States. That is, farmers plowed steep slopes, and the topsoil on the slopes washed away. The government of North Korea asked the AgroForestry organization for help. Which is similar to what happened in the US during the New Deal and the establishment of the Soil Conservation Service.

    The pictures in the Carbon Farming book are doubtless taken during the training sessions organized by the AgroForestry people. The two pictures feature farmers planting on contour to control erosion and a group of farmers evaluating different tree crops to see which species best serve their needs. According to the AgroForestry organization, the government has now adopted the practices on a nationwide scale. What that means in practice, I don’t know.

    Don Stewart

  7. Veggie says:


    If they stop producing (or even slow down) the cash stops. The loans don’t get paid, and the doors close. Many companies are pumping at a loss but still keep cash flowing to the bank.
    Some are called “Zombie Oil Companies” because, like the walking dead, they exist only to keep the bank interest payments flowing without actually paying down any debt. In the meantime, they drift further into debt themselves.
    The bank continues to get interest payments while the patient slowly dies.
    Yes, a recipe for future disaster in both banking and future production.
    I agree with you that each company is acting as an isolated case. In the west there is no governing body to order everyone to slow down and drive prices back up.
    it’s a free enterprise issue and everyone is fending for themselves in their own way.


    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “If they stop producing (or even slow down) the cash stops. The loans don’t get paid, and the doors close. Many companies are pumping at a loss but still keep cash flowing to the bank.”

      Skating on thin ice alright. It’s going to be fascinating in a macabre manner going forward to see how long oil price remains this low and the collateral damage that ensues. I have a feeling it’s a medium boil right now.

    • InAlaska says:

      Just a short while ago, FE and the other Russophiles on this site were rambling incoherently about how Russia and China were going to form their own petrol currency in order to supplant the USD. And now Russia can’t even agree with other oil producer nations to curb production in order to put a floor under oil prices. Putin, the master chessman, apparently not.

      • ” And now Russia can’t even agree with other oil producer nations to curb production in order to put a floor under oil prices.”

        What good would it do? If Russia and OPEC cut production to raise oil prices to $100 per barrel, all that would happen is that demand would slow or fall, and America would keep expanding shale oil production and continue glutting the market.

        Either everyone (that is a significant producer of oil) must agree, or there is no use and its everyone for themself.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        No – not a new currency.

        It is simply that they are not agreeing to price oil transactions in USD.

        A done deal:

        Back in November, before most grasped just how serious the collapse in crude was (and would become, as well as its massive implications), we wrote “How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed”, because for the first time in almost two decades, energy-exporting countries would pull their “petrodollars” out of world markets in 2015.

        This empirical death of Petrodollar followed years of windfalls for oil exporters such as Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of that money found its way into financial markets, helping to boost asset prices and keep the cost of borrowing down, through so-called petrodollar recycling.

        We added that in 2014 “the oil producers will effectively import capital amounting to $7.6 billion. By comparison, they exported $60 billion in 2013 and $248 billion in 2012, according to the following graphic based on BNP Paribas calculations.”

        Now this implies that the USD as reserve currency is soon to be killed off (assuming the US fails in it’s war to destroy Putin)…. opening a door to a new monetary system

        As we know both Russia and China are dumping US debt big time — and loading up on gold big time. And we all know how the Fed hates gold…..

        Not to say that the plan will work — but there very obviously a plan.

        If one wants to understand what is really going on the first step is to turn off God Bless America… then take down the flag in the front yard….

  8. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    The following linked article got me to thinking about a few things. Namely why is every oil producer going full tilt in the face of low oil prices? Surely if there were 40 companies making bread and the price had gotten down to the point of taking losses, then they would collude to reduce supply and raise the price of bread, right? But that’s not what’s happening. It’s as if every oil producing company and country has isolated themselves, putting on blinders to cocoon into a self involved entity. But maybe there is another layer. Could it be that the financial situation of countries has reached a point of skating on such thin ice that every penny helps, so they are all willing to wait for the other guy’s production to falter to hold on to what they can. Like playing king of the mountain, everybody is too focused on the goal of holding market share rather than cooperation. But that suggests the mentality has shifted from the long term to short term profits, as if time is getting short. What time? The oil age.

    With Some Tar Sands Oil Selling at a Loss, Why Is Production Still Rising?
    Like a supertanker unable to make quick turns, production from tar sands in the Canadian oil patch continues to increase despite prices so low producers have to sell their output at a loss. The industry’s inability to cut production could have a profound impact on the climate as well as corporate bottom lines.

    • InAlaska says:

      They have to keep producing to service their debt, even if its at a loss, its more important to maintain the cash flow. Also, many of the wells, once drilled and developed can continue to produce very cheaply with little additional input. Finally, its about market share. If you pull back and stop producing another company or nation will just fill the gap and you lose.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        That is true.

        But it’s ultimately the same as selling cups of coffee at $2 — when it costs you $3 to make each cup. And you try to sell more cups of coffee to make up for the difference in lower revenues….

        Of course nobody will fund your coffee shop allowing it to endure these losses…. (if you are insolvent and owe the bank $500 it’s your problem — owe them $50 billion – it’s their problem)

        What cannot continue… will stop….. the banks and investors that are on the hook for these losses incurred by energy producers… will eventually implode…. along with the companies they are propping up.

        That is a certainty — the only uncertainty is the when.

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    Observations of an disinterested bystander….

    French special forces waging ‘secret war’ in Libya: report

    Dot 1: The ministry has previously confirmed that French aircraft recently conducted reconnaissance flights over Libya, where France took a leading role in a 2011 NATO air campaign that helped rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi’s autocratic rule.

    Dot 2: Hollande said that France was at war with Islamic State after it claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national soccer stadium in Paris on Nov. 13 last year, killing 130 people.

  10. Fast Eddy says:

    Chesapeake Energy shares tumble after company’s loss widens, unveils drastic capex cuts

    Chesapake Energy Corp. shares CHK, +22.37% tumbled 9% in premarket trade Wednesday, after the company’s fourth-quarter loss widened and it unveiled further capex cuts and asset sales. The company said it had a net loss of $2.23 billion, or $3.36 a share, in the quarter, after earnings of $586 million, or 81 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Its adjusted loss per share came to 16 cents, a penny less than the 17 cents-per-share FactSet consensus. Revenue declined to $2.65 billion from $5.69 billion a year ago, and matched the FactSet consensus.

    The company said it is planning to slash capex by 57% in 2016 to $1.3 to $1.8 billion. It expects production to be down 0% to 5%, once adjusted for asset sales. The company is targeting further asset sales of $500 million to $1.0 billion in 2016. “In light of the challenging commodity price environment, our focus for 2016 is to improve our liquidity, further reduce our cost structure and address our near-term debt maturities to strengthen our balance sheet,” Chief Executive Doug Lawler said in a statement. Shares have fallen a stunning 89% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has fallen 9%.

  11. Veggie says:

    A lot of discussion is directed towards what happens after BAU disappears.
    As some authors have stated, this is a moving target with a billion variables and levels of deterioration. It also depends on the country and from what level society is falling.
    What has worked for me is to break the issue into chunks. As humans we are, by nature, terrible forecasters. So my solution was not to try and forecast, but to prepare for two specific sets of circumstances and accepting that the third is not within my power to control.

    When initially faced with the onset of peak oil and the domino effect that my brain assembled, I was in a bit of a panic. This was in the days of the Oil drum, when the accepted arrival time of the great decline was expected to fall right about now (2015-2016).
    I gave a lot of thought to the various scenarios and did a lot of planning and prepping for myself and family.
    But over time I realized that there are certain things that we simply can’t prepare for. So I broke the possible scenarios down into 3 major phases which helped me to plan for each. Here is how it looked….

    Phase 1: (Upsets lasting up to 1 week long) Intermittent outages, slight social unrest, minor inconvenience. (Everyone should be prepared to this extent weather events alone.)
    Preparations involve food and water storage, power generation (solar or engine).

    Phase 2: (Up to 3 weeks long) Greater social unrest. Longer power outages. Neighborhood breakdown (neighbors robbing or showing up at your door with threats). Hospitals overwhelmed.
    My research has determined that in approx. week 2 of a grid outage, bad things start to happen.
    Gangs roam the streets, looting is rampant, and personal safety is at risk. Cities drift into chaos.
    The beginning of week two is bug out time for me. I leave to another pre-determined place.
    (Perhaps not possible for many, but each has their own options and opportunities)

    Phase 3: (Indefinite time due to major Utility disruptions. Perhaps 4 months to a year…or longer)
    This is the bad one. I pondered this one long enough to come to the conclusion that I simply can’t prepare for this scenario. Far to many variables and the inability to protect or fight groups larger than mine. Conflicts, lack of medical assistance, food shortage, physical attacks, illness, mass die off’s, and the list goes on and on.
    All bets are off at this point when someone may kill you just for the 7 gallons of fuel in your tank.
    I accept that I can’t prepare for that outcome.

    So, for me, phase 3 is no longer on my list of things to be preparing for.
    I would argue that anyone who thinks they have #3 licked may be underestimating the situation or may be very wealthy and well planned/stocked.
    By focusing my planning on phases one and two, the anxiety dropped away and the planning continued. Intuitively things fell into place.

    This is only personal opinion, but discussion how things will (or may) be after a total collapse is a waste of time. However you prepare, it won’t be what you expected and something random will hit you at a 45 degree angle and wipe you out.
    While some think scenario #3 is a given, fretting and planning for it may be a waste of time.


    • hkeithhenson says:

      “refuse to return humanure”

      New currency, buckets of shit. That makes us all rich. 🙂

    • Fast Eddy says:

      That assessment makes sense….

      It’s why the strategy of enjoying life to its fullest while BAU is still in play makes a lot of sense…

      Because it’s a holocaust that is coming our way… a nightmare…. it will be the worst famine ever combined with the complete anarchy….

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “However you prepare, it won’t be what you expected and something random will hit you at a 45 degree angle and wipe you out.”

      That’s for sure, Veggie. That’s why they call it chaos, because it’s wrought with random bad events. Hopefully though your 2nd location is in an out of the way location which you and your family can remain until most of the dust settles. That’s what I want to do, i.e. purchase a 2nd very out of the way little something. Not expecting us to live in style, just have a roof and some stored freeze dried grub with a natural water supply nearby and wait the worst of it out until people are willing to work together in peace again.

      That scenario works best in a sudden collapse, but I think what’s more likely is a slow degradation in which violence incrementally rises, so that each subsequent day becomes slightly more dangerous than the previous, in which people gradually get boiled like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, but in this case stress is analogous to water. As the stress mounts it’s like water approaching the boiling point as life itself degrades into a desperate day to day survival. Acid in the gut, long deep sighs, palpitations, high blood pressure, high respiration, headaches, nausea, jumpy, irritable, yelling, distraught, desperate, hungry, thirsty and angry. Now add in the millions of others experiencing the same type of symptoms and you’ve got a recipe for mayhem on a massive scale.

      That’s why sudden collapse is preferable, because at least that way much of the competition for food goes bye-bye. Once the numbers have been quelled to a point of it not being such a hard challenge to feed everyone, then a peaceful hard working state can be achieved. Keep in mind, that post collapse hard labor will be the rule not the exception.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Replace quelled with culled.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Why not just buy a boat and stock it…. then ride off into the sunset and wait for the chaos to end….

        Or why buy anything — just get a strong trailer — reliable 4×4 …. when the SHTF just hitch up the trailer full of food …. and go as far into the the most remote location as possible…. and wait….

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “random bad events”

        Way back, early 1970s one of the people who worked with Meadows and company on the Limits to Growth computer models was so terrified by the model output that he moved to a remote location in the woods to await the food riots. (It might have been William Behrens but am not sure.)

        He might be there to this day, still waiting.

        Hmm. If it was Behrens, he didn’t stay.

    • Van Kent says:

      Hi Veggie,

      What I´m trying to figure out is how to pump and move water in the magnitude of 10m3/h, 12h a day, to the low rooted vegetables. Without fuel. The deep rooted cereals can manage, or then the water needed is simply too much. But the low rooted vegetables are a different matter.

      The other bottleneck is weed pulling from the vegetable beds. During growing season it´s a 24/7 job to remove weeds. After collapse, I imagine fuel to be so valuable that machine helped weed control, using a tractor to pull everything next to the vegetable beds, is probably impossible at that time.

      Simple things.

      During the years I have thought about all types of scenarios, how I can start a local currency, start work parties and voluntary work groups, secure as much grain as possible, by negotiating with farmers what they need, and providing the farmers with what they need. Providing all nearby farmers with security forces Securing a radio station to entertain, inform, educate and recruit people. Providing security to key resources on a few hundred miles radius like gun factories and factories like that. Securing ethanol making breweries etc. to make ethanol, fuel for your machinery and vehicles. And
      (in coastal cities) international shipping containers are now useless. Securing all shipping containers to grow food in cities. Combining shipping containers with windows to mass produce green houses. Mass producing rain water collecting systems and water tanks on top of buildings. Mass producing water filtration systems. Mass produing BioChar and activated charcoal for those filtration systems. Mass producing chicken coops, rabbit coops, potatoes grown in sacks, bug farms, hydroponic farming and greenhouse gutters for all available windows. Starting fruit tree orchards everywhere. Building windmills on top of high buildings and structures to pump water to the water towers etc. Using Mykonos style sails on windmills with flag poles and sails to maximize wind power. Mass producing useless freeze boxes and refrigerators as either earth sheltered cooling of food (well ventilated) or fish tanks for hydroponics. Mass producing bikes that have water pumps taken from useless cars to pump water in fish tanks etc.Securing hundreds of cars to be used as food drying platforms. Mass producing (scavenging) bricks for fire places and masonry heaters. Mass producing efficient masonry heaters.

      But not anymore. Now it´s just the simple things that interest me. How do I move/pump 10m3 water/h without fuel. If that can be managed, then the other things become possible afterwards.

      • to paraphrase Jaws and Bill Gates simultaneously, you’re gonna need a bigger miracle.

        • Van Kent says:

          Yup Norman, but those two things, water and weeds are for me the two things that are actually valuable in phase #3 in veggies scenario. If you have skills or capabilities for those two things, then you have something that can get you through phase #3.

          There isn´t a farmer on this earth that would refuse help with those two things in phase #3..

      • “But not anymore. Now it´s just the simple things that interest me. How do I move/pump 10m3 water/h without fuel. If that can be managed, then the other things become possible afterwards.”

        I’m guessing for some reason that it is not viable to elevate your reservoir so that it can gravity feed to the crops – you are on flat land and lack the resources to build a pond with the bottom of the pond a few feet above ground level.

        You could consider bicycle pumps – looks like you will need a half a dozen pumps, along with half a dozen pedallers, to reach your target:

        Plus of course cycling people off as they tire. Solar is the obvious choice. PVC the easy but short lived solution. Solar thermal stirling engine pumping is more easily maintained with local parts:

        If you have a decent supply of wood, an old steam engine may be a possible solution.

        • Van Kent says:

          Yup Matthew, but those are the truly valuable skills to me. How to build a water tank. When to use a scavanged fuel transport truck to move water (with horses). When to build a well. When to have a persian wheel. When to build “Water-Rickshaws” with waterpumps scavanged from cars. How to make drip irrigation without waterhoses. How to have canals. How to make bawris, storage tanks and water channels run by gravity.

          Veggie wrote that he didn´t know how to prepare for phase #3. I just know that if somebody offered me cost effective solutions about water and weeds, he and his family would have all the food they would ever need..

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “waterpumps scavanged from cars”

            I don’t think much of that idea. I don’t think cars have come with an external water pump for many decades and the internal pumps tend to be poor on efficiency as well. There are probably considerably better ways, but you could consider consider the water pump out of a washer.

            If you are in hilly country, and wanted to set up something, you could put in one of those long slopping tunnels up into the hills. It’s even possible you could drill one if you can get enough property or rights.

            Water is a big problem. If the power went off in San Diego, most of the population would die of dehydration unless it was put back on in a week or two.

            • Van Kent says:

              The old washers have an excellent heating system. I´ve tried one for brewing and it seemed to work just fine. Just had to try it out. I do have separate brewing equipment in my bakery, but just had to try the old washer how it worked. Newer washers.. hmm.. haven´t picked them apart.. yet. Thanks Keith, I think I´ll pick one apart to see what can be used and how.

              Yup, water is a big problem. Big enough that even an semi-expert in waterissues can get himself fed, with his family, very easily.

              The problem is the magnitude. 1000 gallons is simply a drop in the desert. One needs dozens of cubic meters, hourly/daily, of the it to make any sort of difference.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “What I´m trying to figure out is how to pump and move water in the magnitude of 10m3/h, 12h a day, to the low rooted vegetables.”

        You left out an item equally important as the rate. How far up do you need to move the water?

        Ten cubic meters is about 2642 gal. that’s around 44 gpm, but without the lift distance, you can’t tell how many hp or kW you need. Incidentally, a human maxes out at around 1/6 hp.

        • Van Kent says:

          Keith, the greenhouses are fixed. The greenhouses have about 5.500 square feet. They are about 2000ft from the freshwater lake, land elevation about 30 ft. Everything else moves yearly. 56 hecaters, so the farthest away is about two miles from the lake, land elevation max. 60ft.

          Everything moves yearly, so that crop yields are maximized by the different nutrients each plant needs or leaves in the ground each year. And it is impossible to say if the summer is too wet or too dry. Usually always something succeeds because plants are so different.

          But vegetables suffer so much faster from draught during the growing season, compared to cereals, that if sufficient water can be arranged to those specific vegetable crops that need more water (that move yearly from place to place), it would easily feed a couple of families. And thats not even counting in weed pulling. If all weeds were efficiently removed it would increase production yields as much as about +40% on top of the sufficient water.

          After water and weeds the only big bottleneck are birds and other animals. So somebody with a gun should kill a few birds and other of the animals that feed on that specific crop, and leave the carcass (fixed on a stick or something) for the other birds and animals to smell.

          Combined these three things could improve yields as much as +70-80% compared to a summer when it is too dry, and no animals could get to the crops etc. That would mean a couple of families would be easily fed with these small improvements. (I´m not talking about cereals here, I´m describing vegetables, strawberries, peas, favabeans, beans etc. etc. etc. crop yields.)

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “60 feet”


            If you go 6 pages into the pump tables, the one hp unit will pump about what you need up that sort of grade. This kind of pump is a bit tricky to use, it really should be in a well. But it gives you an idea of what kind of power you need. A hp is ~750 watts. I would need to take more time to figure out how to do this in a way that might last 20 years (or longer). Might go to a 1.5 hp jet pump since they are less trouble to maintain. Would also go for a spare unit and spare parts. Probably power it with PV. The main cost would be the PV. Re weeds, it’s possible to hold them down with lots of mulch, but if the temperature is high, then bacteria eating the mulch (such as wood chips) will tend to take the nitrogen out of the ground.

            For those who are into disasters, try this one.


            I followed the developing understanding of the Jan. 1700 earthquake and the rest as it developed over the past decades.

      • Jarvis says:

        Check. Out. Sureflow 9300 pump with 2 solar panels. Direct solar to pump!

        • Van Kent says:

          Jarvis, ask Fast Eddy what he thinks about solar panels and pumps.

          I would prefer something that actually worked, and could actually deliver the magnitude needed. Also spare parts would be nice to make in my woodshed/metal working shed and not in China. China is a bit too far for my sailing boat or my rowing boat.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Still trying to diagnose the problem….. we are thinking it might be a faulty float switch….

            Won’t be able to purchase one of those post BAU….. however we would just run manually and shut off once our tanks are full.

            The problem with technology is….. the technology……

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If you go with solar I recommend a bare bones set up ….. forget about automating any of it…. just an on/off switch….. the less parts involved to break the better off you will be…..

    • InAlaska says:

      Well stated. I give you points for understanding where your limits are. I continue to plan for Phase 3, but only because my DNA insists that I do. Just can’t turn it off.

  12. The price of gold is rising sharply—always a sign that the fan cleaning company is going to be busy

  13. magacancer james says:

    Concerning the previous discussion regarding local food production, when any type of collapse occurs ushering in martial law, most fertilizers, water and pesticides will be reserved for those practicing large, economy-of-scale farming. Food will be rationed. Victory gardens will be malnourished, for the most part. Exporting nutrients to hungry friends that refuse to return humanure will eventually kill your project. People that get their dopamine from food are going to be in world of hurt and should probably stock up on potash and phosphorus now, before it’s reserved for the big boys.

  14. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    An excellent article today at Resilience discussing brain architecture, rewards, learning, and social and economic specialization.

    Please think about this passage and the 150 Strong concept:
    ‘Homo sapiens’ evolutionary genius was to apportion different skill sets to different brains. One brain gets special circuits for manual skills and patience—a natural toolmaker; another brain gets special circuits for observational skills and athleticism—a natural hunter. Likewise, there are natural farmers, healers, storytellers, musicians, and spiritual leaders. Innate circuits are refined through practice—through nurture of our nature. And, of course, we tend to practice what we innately do best because that brings more small satisfactions. So our species’ success depends on having innate circuits, on distributing them differently within each brain, and on distributing them in various combinations within brains of different individuals.’

    Global capitalism has excelled by creating an abundance of oversimplified objects which we think will satisfy us, but leave record numbers of people with clinical depression and chronic disease and a toxic planet. Global capitalism has also been the greatest force the world has ever seen in service of symbiotic relationships. Every day, I engage in some symbiosis with someone from China that I have no idea even exists. As the stresses bring the global capitalism system down, we need some insights to replace it with something new.

    There is an angle to the ‘something new’ that is not discussed in the article, but I think is relevant and obliquely the subject of this post by Gail. That is, whatever we replace global capitalism with must be consistent with the physics of energy. Take the specialization issue. While specialization increases the chances that every individual can find their own niche, there are energetic costs as the organization grows. For example, cheaters need to be punished. One of the rationales for groups of 150 is that cheaters are easily identified and punished. But as the economic unit expands to a global reach, punishing cheaters becomes an energy sink of the first magnitude. Dunbar’s number (150) is a time tested number which prescribes how many people can fit together in a low energy consumption world while minimizing the costs of managing the group. In a 150 Strong group, the match between the individual’s wishes and strengths and the needs of the group reach a balance that gives neither the group nor the individual everything it might want. Sorry…that’s just the way it works. Probably quite a few people who would prefer to philosophize will end up gardening.

    All in all, an excellent article….Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      “Dunbar’s number (150) is a time tested number which prescribes how many people can fit together in a low energy consumption world while minimizing the costs of managing the group”

      I would think that “the something new” is really something old. Because we now have an interlinked global society, it is assumed that something new must remain globally interlinked, with top down solutions of one sort or another. People get out their calculators and compute how much of this or of that will be needed to supply 7.4 billion souls. This is top down thinking. We can relax. We don’rt have responsibility to provide for all those people. We need merely to provide for ourselves and our neighboring communities, working backward to alleviate whatever threat we can reasonably expect beyond that.

      Since the threat of nuclear meltdown will be the same for everyone worldwide, there needs to be a global mechanism for handling the threat. Since there might be no economic system for providing fossil fuels for emergencies that affect the world, there needs to be a global program to deal with fossil fuel rationing and production (the latter will likely be minimal).

      There must be a hierarchy of order. First things first. Secondary things must not take precedence over first things. The first principle is the reorganization of people into self-sufficient pods of 150 or whatever. No global program that grows can be allowed to override that. Global programs are ONLY there to protect the system of small, self-sufficient pods. It should be clear that nothing else is manageable or reasonable. But maybe it isn’t.

  15. Don Stewart says:

    Regarding your statement that the Hill’s Group is an EROEI study. The Etp model CAN BE used to estimate EROEI. It currently gives a figure of 9 to 1.

    Yet the model also predicts severe disruption in the oil patch right about now, and, by extension, in the global economy. The model predicts Peak GDP right about now.

    If you think that the Etp model is ONLY about EROEI, you have to explain how it predicts severe disruptions with a 9 to 1 ratio.

    Don Stewart

  16. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Don, recall my comment about new arctic ice maximum (record low) occurring a month early and flat-lining? Scroll down the link above till you get to the graph. Now finally people other than those following these types of graphs are reporting on it.

    • Don says:

      Stilgar, it’s a blast furnace up there right now and will be for the rest of the week at least.

      • InAlaska says:

        NOAA reports that 2015-16 is the 2nd warmest winter in Alaska in 110 years of recorded weather data! Yay!

  17. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Also pressuring prices, the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, said on Tuesday crude inventories rose by 7.1 million barrels last week, far exceeding expectations of a 3.4-million-barrel rise.

  18. Kanghi says:

    Bit out of topic, but I remember that this rised a discussion in the group as it was happening. As it is closely related to resource grapping in the era of diminishing returns.
    Bellingcat group was publishing their report on downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane in Ukraine. Russian military has now lots to explain on why they did it. I wish that the culprits will one day find a way to international court to answer of their war crime, that the family, friends and the relatives of the deceased will have justice.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Funny how the US side in that war has the black box from that flight …. yet we don’t get to hear the recording…

      Wonder why that is?

      Might there be something on it that incriminates the US in that shoot down? Just like the US organized the chemical weapon that killed women and children in Syria that was blamed on Assad?

      ‘Whatever it takes’…. and I mean anything goes….

    • psile says:

      Why is it always the Russians that have to do the explaining, for everything? Seems to me the Russians have been as transparent as possible under the circumstances regarding MH17. if anyone needs to do some explaining, its the Ukrainians and their western handlers. Whoever instructed that flight to veer off course and drop in altitude, ripe for the taking, is responsible for its fate and it wasn’t the Russians.

      Russia even directing the rebels in the Donbass to hand over the flight recorders, despite both being slandered in the western press with spurious social media “proof” of Russian/rebel culpability the second the plane went down. It was so lame, the US State department, when asked to offer up proof of Russian wrongdoing, could only provide twitter feeds and facebook posts as evidence! ROFLMAO! 20 times!

      The Russians even held a press conference with satellite footage and dialogue from various radio control towers in the region, the very next day, which indicated at least one Ukrainian fighter jet was in the vicinity where the plane was hit. Whereas there were no Russian planes around. And the rebels certainly did not have the armaments, let alone the expertise capable of knocking out an aircraft at 30,000 feet. Having been until a few months before, taxi drivers, miners and postal workers armed mainly with shotguns and a couple of museum piece tanks.

      Of course, none of this was ever reported in the west. What a surprise and can you not follow the pattern? Bellingcat is a political tool, and if you believe him or the western media then you’re a fool.

      Can Bellingcrap be trusted? What’s a Bellingcat Anyway?


      • Don says:

        Fast Eddy and psile: spot on!

      • richard says:

        From recollection, both the Kiev and Donbass had the means of taking down a passenger aircraft. If it was a mistake I’d start at 50:50. After that, I’d be looking for hard evidence. It was the wrong place and time for a passenger flight.

        • psile says:

          Donbass did not have any means to knock down the airliner, since they were at the time without the technical expertise to use such advanced weapons, even if they had managed to get hold of them.

          Remember, that only months before most of the rebels were working in offices, down a mineshaft or on the farm.

          • “Donbass did not have any means to knock down the airliner, since they were at the time without the technical expertise to use such advanced weapons, even if they had managed to get hold of them.
            Remember, that only months before most of the rebels were working in offices, down a mineshaft or on the farm.”

            I think you are underestimating their level of training to some extent. There were reports of off-duty Russian soldiers fighting along with them, perhaps Cossacks and other mercenaries, and likely at least some of them were reservists beforehand. Maybe even some Russian special forces.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              All you need to know about the jet shoot down is to be found in Syria:

              But the criticism of Hersh’s latest piece echoes the controversy that recently met Hersh after he published two other stories—in December 2013 and April 2014, also in the London Review—about the Syrian civil war. Both stories cited anonymous sources, corroborated by second- and third-hand accounts, saying that Syrian rebels, not the Assad regime, were the first to use chemical weapons in the country’s ongoing civil war, specifically in a sarin gas attack on Ghouta, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013.

              At the time, President Obama had recently issued a “red line,” saying that if Assad used chemical weapons, the U.S. would intervene in the conflict on the rebels’ behalf. Hersh argued that the government was blaming the rebel attack on Assad to justify direct involvement in the war. (The U.S. ultimately decided against entering the conflict directly.)


              Seymour Hersh’s News Report Banned in U.S., Is Finally Confirmed in Turkey

              The news-report that the famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh could not find an American publisher for, and that was consequently published only in Britain, has now been publicly confirmed by a research study into the matter, a study whose findings were made public on October 21st by a committee of Turkey’s parliament and published that day in Turkey’s leading newspaper, Zaman.

              The question being investigated here was who caused the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, on 21 August 2013, that killed over a thousand victims, and that U.S. President Barack Obama has used as his basis for going to war to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?

              Hersh’s article, in the London Review of Books, on 17 April 2014, was titled “The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels.” Hersh found that (quoting here the key parts, and providing [in brackets], from me, the necessary clarifications so that the reader can more easily understand what Hersh was saying):


              Media blacks out Seymour Hersh exposé of US lies on Syrian gas attack

              Now why would the US media not run a story from a Pulitzer prize winning journalist that points to the CIA as the catalyst for the chemical weapon dropped on women and children and blamed on Assad?

              Even a retarded donkey can connect the dots here….

              PS: I am so glad that the psychopaths that lead our team are more inventive and more vicious than those on the other team. I like living large!

    • “Russian military has now lots to explain on why they did it”

      What about the Ukrainian ATC explaining why they diverted a civilian flight way off the flight path it and all other civilian aircraft were taking, directly over a conflict zone? Why just this one aircraft, and not the hundreds of others?

      Besides, the counterclaim is that it was actually shot down by autocannon from a fighter jet, not SAM.

      Why they provided anti-air support to ethnic Russians who were being bombed by the Ukrainian government, that is not so hard to explain. A better question is, why are some places allowed to secede from their nation via referendum and others not?

  19. richard says:

    A somewhat obscure link, suggesting that low demand is surfacing in unexpected ways:
    “The reality is there is a demand-side problem. It’s wishful thinking for global policy makers to be banking on the consumer to bail out overly leveraged companies and countries. Someone has to do the savings, even if forced to do so under the mattress. Getting oil higher may help oil producers and banks who lent too freely, but it’s a tax on the consumer. How broad do we expect their shoulders to be?”

  20. Christopher says:

    Concerning fracking:

    this may be a reason to why bancruptcies have been avoided, this far at least…

  21. Vince the Prince says:

    Aqua food ponds are cheap, easy and prolific to help provide needed calories for the family.
    Many videos on the topic to give one ideas. Do it now while BAU is still functioning

    May I suggest a most agreeable specie to raise instead of tilipia. The Snakeskin Qourami is a large somewhat peaceful, hardy food fish from southeast asia and grow quickly and is prolific.
    The desirable feature of this fish is the ability to obtain oxygen from the air with a cavity in the skull. This will be a great advantage if there is no pump to circulate the water.

    For those in the southern states, a desirable fish.

  22. psile says:

    Bill Gates: We will have a clean-energy ‘miracle’ within 15 years

    Except Bill doesn’t know how in hell we’re going to get there, just “miraculously”. For miracle substitute human ingenuity x capitalism = same ol’ same ol’ that got us here to begin with. Lol…we are so screwed…

    • Rodster says:

      As Gail has noted on several occasions, that you need a functioning and growing economy to make an energy transition possible. We are WAY past that point now. Some economies and sovereign nations are already teetering on bankruptcy or collapse because of low oil prices.

    • pintada says:

      Dear psile;

      I wonder which system that he is betting on or investing in?

      There is one guy that is making the tiny little hydrogen atoms —
      Professor Farnsworth had a thing or two to say about how expensive those tiny little atoms are.

      Then of course, there is this guy —–

      Do you know of any others? I enjoy hearing about them.

      Why does it surprise me that Bill Gates is gullible?


      • “As a comparison, a liter of BlackLight power source can output as much power as a central power generation plant exceeding the entire power of the four former reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.”

        Wow, let’s hope this is a scam. Can you imagine >7 billion people running around with their own little Fukushima strapped to their backs?

      • psile says:

        Thing is he doesn’t know. In fact in the beginning, his calculations admit we are screwed because humans are incapable of reining in population or economic growth. So all gains or reversals must come from our energy systems, which means zero emissions and pollution, which we all know is silly and impossible.

        This is what happens when celebrity meets stupidity, since the ship sailed long ago on the question of keeping CO2 at a reasonable scale. But for almost all humans, hope springs eternal that some “miracle” will come along, and it’s always sometime in the future, so as to avoid people having to make nasty and restrictive consumption choices today.

        So we will just have to wait around until the whole economic system implodes from all this malignant growth, taking our bloated population of useless eaters with it. Then Bill Gates’ “miracle” will have transpired and probably in the timeframe of another 15 years. Just not in the way he’d imagined.

        • Undead says:

          The miracle always happened. Else we would be dead or unborn. Every last one of us is an incredible story of miracle after miracle after miracle, going directly back to the first cell that was ever alive through astounding 3500 million years.

          I think its definitely an evolutive feature to count on a miracle. And know, what? it has worked for all of us :D. It didn’t work though for the ones that are not here.

          • Ed says:

            Yes, it is awe inspiring all life on earth can trace an unbroken lineage back 3+ billion years. I guess all it really means is there has never been an extinction level event of planet earth since that time. But still amazing.

            On cold fusion this news today
            This led us on a path of discovery, the sequence of which explains:

            The massive count signal discovered by Francesco Celani during Rossi’s first public demo
            How Rossi knew his reactor had started
            How the E-Cat generates excess heat
            How it self sustains
            How it can scale easily
            That it is safe

            It also showed us how replicators can know they have succeeded in triggering the New Fire and how to enhance the excess heat.

            Subsequent to this, we found out Rossi had travelled the same design journey and had publicly shared it in the past.

            The irony is – this was all being conducted live in the open, including discussions and graphing, whilst people were distracted with news of the end of the 1MW 1 year test. Same day…

            In the past week we have been checking, cross checking to verify and this morning we cleared our last serious doubt, again live, with shared data. Because this is already in the open we want people to know so that they can start replicating based on what works, moreover, the insight will allow people to immediately start improving on our results.

            Thank you for making this possible

            We did it

            We lit the New Fire Together!

            check out

    • We humans are now God. We can do anything, including perform miracles.

      • Gates should stay out of the miracle business, too much competition and EROEI isn’t proven

        • InAlaska says:

          You guys should listen to yourselves. You sound like the bunch who said in 1900 that “powered flight is just a fantasy”. Human beings were never meant to fly. “If man were meant to fly God would have given him wings.” It is possible (not likely but possible) that Mr. Gates is correct. It is also likely that he has an IQ higher than all or nearly all of us on this site.

          • despite Gate’s undoubted high intellect, he has fallen into the same “energy” trap as most other people.
            He cites the examples of the computer chip and suchlike, as ‘miracles’ of invention that nobody thought possible, totally oblivious to the fact that moving electrons to manipulate imagery is totally different to moving physical “stuff”, which is what we have to do to keep our civilisation viable.
            In the entire history of humankind, we have had only one method of “moving stuff”, and that is by combustion of chemical compounds, in one form or another.

            Check it out: Chemical combustion is the single thread that links the first firemakers, through the chinese gunpowder makers, the first steam engines, oil engines, the first powered flight, the first satellites —right up to the Apollo moon landings. (and everything in between) Add on as much fancy technology as you like, but without the explosive force of chemical compounds, nothing, and I do mean nothing–happens.
            DaVinci had all the tech stuff figured out–but no engine.
            Humankind has no other practical method of moving objects over any distance at all, at least by the laws of physics as they currently stand.
            But given that over the past million years, no alternatives to those laws have been discovered, it would seem that we are stuck with using what we have.
            This is where Gates’s great expectation of a miracle falls flat, because whatever it is, it will have to replace those explosive forces. Gates would appear to be promising that most elusive of material benefits: the “free lunch”.
            If he ‘ll give me 1m of that billion$ I can save him a lot of heartache and false hopes by explaining it in detail.

            Nevertheless, Gates bases his ‘miraculous expectation’ on the same scientific thinking that enabled Microsoft to come into being—as if Microsoft itself came from nothing and nowhere, or just off the top of his head.
            The truth is of course that Microsoft and all the other techie wizardry we love to have is just a much the child of explosive chemical technology as gunpowder or the kittyhawk.
            The basic materials of the microchip, and everything that allows it to function are simply a reconfiguration of elements and compounds in different forms to carry out different tasks. They are assembled in factories that have the same root, and transported in the same way. All created and powered by the same forces of exploding/burning/reconfigured compounds.’–which are themselves finite,

            If the miracle did come to pass after all, then that new “energy source” would be the green light for BAU—problems all solved. And we could carry on as before–only more so?
            Well no–not really.
            If the One billion of us who are affluent enough own cars and computers brought the other 6 billion people up to a USA living standard, then we all (including Gates himself) would literally fry.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I am always amused when ‘news’ presenters ask men like Gates what they think about issues that are completely outside their realm of expertise…. particularly when their realms of expertise are extremely narrow.

            Most of these guys are one hit wonders… Gates invented an OS — and to this day almost all of MS revenues are derived from that invention…. the Google guys are no different….. they struck gold….

            So who gives a shit what Gates thinks about anything other than computing?

            There are millions of ultra high IQ people who do not understand the oil issue. Someone posted some Koombaya from Stephen Hawkings a few weeks ago….. he hasn’t the slightest clue.

            Congratulations to Bill Gates on his big IQ — the next time I have a problem with Windows crashing — I will be sure to ask him for help.

            In the meantime… if I have questions regarding the energy situation …. I’ll defer to Mrs Tverberg…..

  23. Veggie says:

    Hi Don Stewart,

    Regarding the Carbon Farming book…
    I too have a keen interest in sustainable food production and I wonder …does it have to be “One or the Other” ?
    Shifting to a point somewhere in between may extend things for many more years.
    For example:
    Somewhere between.. A] Total Mechanization and Chemical fertilizers / herbicides, and B] An Animal / human labor powered farm, is an option that uses much less hydrocarbon but still functions with machines, compost, crop rotation, and animal husbandry.
    A farmer can rotate 4 aces for the growth of rapeseed which produces 400 liters per acre of vegetable oil for biodiesel. 1600 liters of fuel can provide a significant amount of work using a compact diesel tractor. My farm uses nowhere near that much.
    While the population explosion virtually ensures that mega farms will survive, there is a growing movement to run small and micro farms in a more sustainable manner.

    Musing: If things decay, spare parts become difficult to find as supply chains break down.
    But why do we need 18 different make of tractors in this country ???
    One or two reliable makes, and mountains of spares carry us for a long time.
    Small businesses would start up making spares for the “model T” tractor.
    ok…..back to my point 🙂

    I think there is a place for the semi-carbon farm (if I can call it that), but even that is not a solution to the over population of the planet.
    My concern is that this sustainable movement may do little to stave off the massive challenges society will face in the coming years. Many owners do it because it brings personal satisfaction and some form of self reliance.
    I’m only scratching the surface here, but the “middle ground” type of farm can be very productive. (However, it may not be competitive in today’s market.)


    • Don Stewart says:

      Dear Veggie
      Regarding the spare parts issue. There are (or at least have been, I’m not up to date) two different efforts to make generic ‘machines that create civilization’. The parts are off the shelf, and the designs are in the public domain. Everything bolts together, and sleekness of design takes a back seat to simplicity and available parts.

      Regarding the ‘intermediate’ route. Until recently, I worked on a small farm which I would label as ‘intermediate’. It was 5 acres of diversified vegetables and root crops. The farm scraped along from year to year, never actually going out of business but never making much money. About the time I left, the farm was taken over by 3 young guys with a lot of ambition and some seed money to make improvements. I was visiting with the landlord recently, and he told me that they are getting 50 percent more revenue out of the same land. The landlord is very pleased with what they are doing. He believes the previous farmer had various failings, which I need not regurgitate here.

      The difficulty in discussing issues such as ‘does intermediate farming make sense?’ on this website is that the commenters start shooting at everything with wildly inconsistent basic assumptions. Some assume that everything will go along about as is, some that everything will collapse before the end of the year, some that the collapse will be financial, some that the collapse will be triggered by oil, some that the government will not intervene in any effective way, some that the Deep State will do a coup and replace the ineffective politicians, and etc. and etc. Unless you can get to some common ground on the basic assumptions, it is useless to carry on discussions. A frustrating feature of the internet, I’m afraid.

      Discussions on the internet also have this weird disconnect from reality. A small farm has to be profitable over the course of a year, and maybe every quarter, and sometimes this month or before the check hits the bank. But as soon as you start talking about how to get some cash flow, somebody pipes up and says ‘but that doesn’t solve the overpopulation problem’.

      You also give answers into the void and the void keeps coming back with the same tired old accusations…about the supposed kumbaya nature of organic farming, for example. I have sung kyumbaya…40 years ago at YMCA camp with my children…but never working at the farm. I have worked with young people who sang while they worked, but I don’t remember anyone ever singing kumbaya. Farmers are about as practical as anyone I know.

      I don’t have an answer to your question, nor even a very good opinion, because we would first have to sit down and calmly lay out some social and economic and environmental assumptions. We’d have to look carefully at the specifics of your situation. Then, knowing what we know, we can compare notes on what makes sense. Such discussions best over coffee or beer.

      Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      “But why do we need 18 different make of tractors in this country ???
      One or two reliable makes, and mountains of spares carry us for a long time.”

      That, however, isn’t consistent with the perpetual economic growth some people advocate for. (Not me, though.)

    • Artleads says:

      “I think there is a place for the semi-carbon farm…”

      Speaking only from intuition, I would recommend thinking harder about this. Are you talking about now, or are you talking some level of, or total, collapse? Are you advocating something to do now to be ready for post collapse?

      I’m guessing that the macro economy, including industrial ag, has to run its course, as Gail and others say, and that it can’t contract to be half carbon. The system now feels to me to be too large and interconnected to modify itself. It also seems to run on autopilot and to be immune from leadership (in any way that is sustainable globally). If that is so, the only change I can imagine that is of sufficient scale would be the economic collapse Gail talks about. Smaller, supposedly more sustainable models would, I suspect, be way too small to make any desired difference on the global scale.

      If you’re talking post collapse, there wouldn’t be much carbon to spread around. What little it was feasible to use would be needed for dire threats against survival…like safeguarding nuclear plants, for instance. Beyond that, and through some other agency than BAU, I could see small amounts of industrial goods being made–shovels, knives, bandages, stuff that would be needed for some alternative, non-capitalist civilization to function. The carbon would then be used to make for a an alternative, stable SYSTEM to work. (Of course, if small local groups could harness some coal with pick, shovel and mule, that might help that local community, but that wouldn’t be a universal model.) There simply wouldn’t be enough macro-available carbon for private use of any kind.

      We’d be looking at what bare human hands could do to produce food…and that would require a great many human hands. So I’m thinking the use of carbon for the bare essentials needed to keep life viable, to prevent undue conflict. There wouldn’t be what we think of as a central government. Most communities would have to fend for themselves with what they have locally, and it would behoove them to cooperate with their neighboring communities and see that those had what THEY needed for basic survival.

      If I read Gail correctly, this is my intuitive understanding of what the ideal prospects might be. There simply won’t be (and really aren’t now) the resources for anything else.

  24. Veggie says:

    Population….population. I think it all boils down to that.
    Far to many capitalist “users of the planet”. Human nature and the profit motive multiplied by several billion brains forcing the invisible hand far beyond sustainable limits.
    We have pushed limits in so many ways, and the emergent properties springing out of this complex system (some good and some very bad) are so hard to steer or reverse.
    Of course this has already been stated here may times in various ways.

    If oil prices stay down for too long, that’s bad.
    If oil climbs significantly, economies are crippled and recession kicks in.
    The whole system is now backed into a corner with very little wiggle room.
    It sounds a bit defeatist, but we may have all become corks bobbing on the tsunami.

    Not much of a contribution to this discussion today, but rather a general observation.
    I am a student of Peak Oil and a long time follower of Gails work.
    I enjoy this forum and hope to contribute a useful thought now and again.


    • Ed says:

      Yes Veggie, I see it from the population side also. No matter how efficient we get, no matter how much energy we produce by new technology, we still need to limit the population. As we all note nature, mother nature, Gaia, will do this for us but in a harsh and cruel manner. We could institute a two child policy. But instead we get an infinite immigration policy. What ever makes the rent takers richer.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Heard an interview of a woman from China and the most popular way to beat the one child policy was to take fertility drugs that provided multiple births. Seems there was a loop hole in the law. Like the old saying “Human nature always finds a way”

      • Artleads says:

        “No matter how efficient we get, no matter how much energy we produce by new technology, we still need to limit the population.”

        I read somewhere that efficiency only makes for increased industrial growth, not less. I suppose that’s fine if you want limitless industrial growth.

    • InAlaska says:

      I’m glad you’re stepping up. Its good to hear new voices on the site. And yes, I agree that all of the problems stem from human density. There are too many of us, period.

  25. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    By the way. Regarding terraforming. The Carbon Farming book has some pictures of North Koreans building soil structures to reclaim/ improve agricultural soils. How much heavy equipment they use, I don’t know. The pictures don’t show either heavy equipment or slave labor like human work. Just youngish people working and looking and studying how to make the topography work best.

    Don Stewart

    • If the North Korea situation is accurate, then it confirms (up to a point) my thinking on this.
      The North Koreans have been reduced to docility and do what they are told to do by a dictatorial elite.
      It might be an Asian mindset of course, but they wouldn’t be doing that from choice. They need food to sustain themselves, they must obey their leader.

      • Ed says:

        I feel many Asian populations have had 4000 years of killing off the nail that stands up. That are docile and bred to withstand the rigors of urban living. They will do well going forward. The free spirit Europeans will die off as they loose in the competition.

        North Korea is extra interesting they mostly live within local production. When they do not they have no compunction about killing off significant percentages of the human population. I feel to a large degree they show us the future in all countries.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Norman Pagett
        Just judging from the pictures, they look like serious young people studying how to make the land more productive. The pictures came from an international Agroforestry organization. The same pictures could have come from Africa, South America, or Australia.

        Don Stewart

        • my only comment is that the n. koreans don’t have an immigration crisis

          • Don Stewart says:

            Norman Pagett
            I’m not interested in arguing about the politics of the North Korean government. What I observed, in response to a dismissive remark from someone, was that I have seen visual evidence that some Asians are working to restore land using terraforming. John Liu, the photographer, as done extensive work documenting the restoral of the Loess plateau in China. I remarked that I have also seen pictures of other efforts in China and in North Korea.

            If you and GiGi think that it is worth posing some students on a hillside working on a land reclamation effort just to get propaganda value….well…I doubt I can help you.

            Don Stewart

            • I didn’t say they were posed students. because I don’t know.—On the other hand, there are many pics out of N Korea that have been shown to be staged—they are lousy photoshoppers it would seem
              My point was that N.Korea doesn’t seem a very pleasant place to live, but if in the face of privation (which there is in that country) people are being directed to do work in order to maintain dwindling food supply, it might be indicative of the future for the rest of humanity.
              ie—we will not be producing food in the context of actual farming, but as sources of muscle energy in return for food itself—if you dont work you don’t eat.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Norman Pagett
              There are a lot worse crimes than engaging in Agroecology.

              Don Stewart

            • not when you’re a serf in a serf based economy.
              and before there are protestations that they are not serfs—a serf is a worker who is not allowed to leave the land on which he works—under threat of severe punishment or death if he or she does so.

            • Don Stewart says:

              I can see that, no matter how wise the work they are doing is, you aren’t going to admit it. You will find SOMETHING to criticize.

              Forget it. Tell everyone it is a propaganda piece, or whatever you want to. Some may believe you.
              Don Stewart

            • I wasn’t criticising, merely pointing out established facts:-

              1…If you live in a state where you are prevented from leaving, under pain of death or severe punishment, that makes you property of the state–ie a serf. (Use any name you want–it won’t change what a serf is) If that is so, you exist under absolute dictatorship. Photos, real or not, showing happy peasants will not change that, no matter what activity they are engaged in.
              2..N Korea has been exposed many times for issuing doctored photographs
              3…Maintaining a colossal military machine has bankrupted the country into a state of severe food shortage. (except for our fat cheese eating friend who runs it of course)

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Based on history …. the people should be pictured labouring under yokes…. with a fat man in a castle observing his slaves from a window…. while enjoying a buffet….

              But of course there are those who believe post BAU looks like a wonderful country market …. where the farmers place their jams and jellies and preserves and fresh vegetables on tables for sale…. a busking banjo player strums Koombaya…. some people sell hand made crafts…. organic vegan food is on offer….

              tra la la … la la… la la….

            • droit de seigneur sounds ok though–as long as I’m the seigneur of course.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        1 billion+ people in China are far from docile…..

    • pintada says:

      Dear Don;

      I followed that link, and those “youngish” people were in new western style clothing with no sweat stains. It was obviously a propaganda piece.


      • Don Stewart says:

        I don’t think I gave you any link. I was looking at pictures in a book. Not looking at a computer screen. You may have found the pictures with a search, but I didn’t supply any link.

        Why would anyone want to make up propaganda about contour farming?

        Don Stewart

        • GiGI Marauder says:

          “Why would anyone want to make up propaganda about contour farming?”

          Hope sells.
          Dont know if the pictures being discussed are propaganda or not. Just wanted to answer your question.

  26. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    While I’m here, this is just too important to not post. Read the comments below the post, they are all quite useful

    Once the Arctic Ocean sea ice is gone, the sea bed will heat up, the methane clathrates will melt and it will be all over. Where is that economic crash Gail promised and that I want so badly? We need it now.


    • Don says:

      The crash of BAU won’t stop the clathrate gun from firing. The tipping point had been reached. David Wasdell argues that the CO2 contribution from human activity is now almost irrelevant. Temperatures will continue to increase until a +4C or more equilibrium has been reached. Aftrr that, Kevin Anderson argues that at +4C the best we can plan on is extinction.

      Imagine how hot land masses will become if ‘average’ global increase in temperatures reaches +4C. There will be seasonally uninhabitable locations.

      The amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold increases by 7% for each degree C in temperature rise. Already parts of the world seasonally see 100% relative humidity levels with temperatures in the mid 90’s. That is not survivable long term. Your body cannot cool itself under those conditions. You can be laying naked at the seashore drug a hurricane and your body will still not cool properly.

      These are some of the fun things we have to look forward to.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Good article, pintada. That warmer weather is showing up with record low maximum. The max. is usually hit about the first week of March, but it’s been flatlining ever since the end of the first week of February, a whole month early. Of course this is some time still that it could build in more ice, but there’s not a lot of time left.

      Here’s some good info. for posters to read from that article you linked:

      “Climate Reanalyzer hits a stunning 7.06 C above the already hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 baseline for the entire region above the 66 North Latitude Line on February 22nd of 2016. It’s a very extreme temperature departure — one this particular analyst has never seen before in this record. For reference, a 3 C above baseline temperature departure for this region would be considered extraordinarily warm. What we see now is freakish, outlandish, odd, disturbing.”

  27. pintada says:

    Dear Ms. Tverberg;

    I’m sure you (and everyone here) read Tom Whipple, but you may have missed this:

    “If prices ever recover to the level that will support high-cost deepwater production, it will take two or more years to launch new projects and several more to complete them. With an exception of the new deepwater production coming on line in the next year or two, we can expect very little until the next decade, if ever. The advent of peak oil certainly is turning out to be different from what many believed ten years ago.”

    “The advent of peak oil certainly is turning out to be different from what many believed ten years ago.” Why didn’t he just go ahead and say, “Gail nailed it!”? 🙂

    ( )

    Congrats Again,

    • Ert says:

      In addition…

      The world economy can’t afford such (high) prices. If energy doubles, then the cost of the primary industry may rise approx 2% – which ripples through the whole chain of products (ores, refined metals, chemicals, parts, end products). This would wipe out the (real net) global revenue – so that the world economy may take a deep dive.

    • A lot of “peak oil” folks don’t have a great love for me. I didn’t follow the standard belief sets.

      Tom Whipple has always treated me well, though. He must be in his 70s. He does a huge amount of volunteer work related to oil news.

  28. hkeithhenson says:

    “go back to their mountains and live pretty happily ever after.”

    Salt. And iodine. I kind of doubt it.

    • Don Stewart says:

      Many traditional peoples made an annual trip to the ocean. The people in the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina sent one wagon a year down to the head of navigation on the Savannah River to bring back essentials…of which a major one was salt for preserving.

      The Tarahumara once lived on more productive land nearer the ocean, but were driven onto the poor land they occupy now by the Mexicans. I imagine that they have been able to buy salt in town for as long as they have lived where they live now.

      Don Stewart

    • “Salt. And iodine. I kind of doubt it.”

      If they’ve lived that way for centuries, why change? They may go down to 65 IQ average, but that doesn’t mean they can’t keep on keepin’ on. Besides, they’ll be less likely to invent things and cause runaway growth.

  29. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Ah, that’s a shame!, not!! The Saudi’s this AM via their oil minister, explain below why there will be no cut to production. As you will read this is partly due to asserting high priced producers should be the one’s to scale back and due to Iran coming back on the market post sanctions with 1M barrels a day. That should be a hoot, eh, 1mbd more?! Stuff the storage, send more ships around in circles circumnavigating the planet buying time to find buyers and put more on the market – that will intensify the hurt on the oil industry.

    “We are not banking on cuts because” there is “less than trust” that “countries are going to deliver even if they promise,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said in Houston Tuesday. The market will eventually rebalance because high-cost producers will have to “lower costs, borrow or liquidate” to cope with the slump in oil prices, Al-Naimi said, adding that he doesn’t know when the current price rout will end.
    “It may sound harsh, and unfortunately it is, but it is the most efficient way to rebalance markets,” Al-Naimi told the IHS CERAWeek conference, an annual gathering of the North American oil industry. “Cutting low cost production to subsidize higher cost supplies only delays an inevitable reckoning.”

    Oil prices sank as much as 5.3 percent to $31.63 a barrel in New York after Al-Naimi spoke.

    Just minutes before Al-Naimi started speaking, Iran appeared to discard its initial cautious welcome of the Doha deal. It’s “ridiculous” for Saudi Arabia to propose that other nations freeze production when the kingdom has already increased output to more than 10 million barrels a day, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, according to his ministry’s news agency, Shana.

    The call for a freeze puts “unrealistic demands” on Iran, which is planning to boost output by 1 million barrels a day this year after international sanctions were lifted, Zanganeh said.

    • Yoshua says:

      Saudi Arabia is today surrounded by a sectarian war in which Iran supports their Shia proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Iran is then supported by Russia who has joined the war in Syria. Russia is allied with China through the Shanghai Pact. Saudi Arabia has also a Shia minority living in the oil rich region that seems to be close to a revolt.

      That Saudi Arabia under these conditions would choose to start a war against the U.S oil industry, when they know that the U.S army is the final guarantee for their ultimate survival… seems to be a very strange decision to take.

      The war in the Middle East and the oil war are very strange in many ways.

      • Great point, they must follow some or several of the following “assumptions”:

        – US global role weakened enough, that another ME regime change or direct occupation is virtually impossible in next few years

        – shale in the US is not systemic enough for the ruling global financial elite faction, losses from its downfall (and spill over potential) could be back stopped by FED and/or hidden in general market crash/recession cycle under the rug

        – if it get serious enough we will just switch to protection under Russia-China & co. alliance at the last moment

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        Well, Yoshua, the Saudi’s aren’t starting a war – they got caught up in this oversupplied oil market actually due to increasing US & Canadian oil on world markets. The amount the Saudi’s hasn’t changed all that much in several years, so they are just trying to hold on to market share. There’s a story of the Saudi’s lowering production to act as the swing producer in I can’t remember what year now, but anyway it took them 10 years to get that market share back. So one can well understand their position of standing pat on their current production.

        His comments are more along the lines of these are the hard facts of oil industry life right now, as high cost producers will have to fall off the wagon first, because cheap cost producers are willing to wait it out. However, there is a certain desperation in him having to come out and lay it on the line. It’s almost like he’s a little ticked off at this point it’s taking so long for US frackers production to go offline. If you go to Ron Patterson’s site they post information on how much is still coming out of Eagle Ford and the Bakken in N.D. What has happened is there is a long set of processes involved to get frack oil extracted. Once started they usually follow through to get what they can from the well. So there is a definite decline in the US already initiated, but it’s taking longer than the Saudi’s would have liked.

        We will see how this all pans out, i.e. which producers get into financial trouble and which one’s can last including countries like SA which needs lots of money to keep the people happy.

        • bandits101 says:

          Stil SA can sell every drop they produce and they are. As I see it, if there was a glut of desired oil, storage wouldn’t be increasing within the US and they wouldn’t be importing up to 8 billion barrels annually. it is simply a demand problem and I’m pretty sure SA knows it. If they cut production a far worse development could occur than just low prices.

        • Yoshua says:

          The media narrative is that Saudi Arabia is waging an oil war against the U.S oil industry, when Saudi Arabia has (as you pointed out) just maintained their oil production to provide the global economy with crude. The increase in oil production is coming from North America and it would be more justified to say that the U.S has started an oil war against oil producers around the world… who have trillions in debt denominated in USD that they are trying to service on falling oil prices. I guess that this is where the power of the media comes in… to put focus on the wrong object.

          I believe that Saudi Arabia is an U.S ally and that Saudi Arabia has been preparing for this war by filling up their war chest to weather this storm out.

    • That’s good news, as a result might expect oil price again crashing into low 20s or perhaps briefly into teens which could trigger some needed cascading effects to cleanse the overall operating system. Saudis apparently believe they can burn at least 2-3yrs more of their financial reserves, and closer/beyond 2020 the likelyhood correction from this undershoot is given as the depletion kicks in severely by that time. Nasty turbulent times ahead.

    • “The market will eventually rebalance because high-cost producers will have to “lower costs, borrow or liquidate” to cope with the slump in oil prices, Al-Naimi said, adding that he doesn’t know when the current price rout will end.”

      You know, I play chicken with the train:

  30. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Some more opinions from me about life after the crash. See relatively short video:

    Marjory and company find an apple tree out in the middle of nowhere, stop to eat the apples, and meet the family they will spend the night with. Help the family harvest the last of the bean crop. Thresh the beans with sticks. Sleep with the rats in the corn crib (better than being cold or covered with chicken shit).

    Everything this family has which was bought in town was brought to this remote homestead by hand or the burro. You will see a store bought broom, a metal and a plastic bucket, etc. My guess is that the clothing was also bought in town. I am pretty sure the pot they will use for cooking was also bought in town.

    Dave, who was introduced in Chapter 1, has the last name of Holliday, and is a direct descendant of Doc Holliday of OK Corral Gunfight fame. Holliday is a paleo expert. Marjory goes along on some of his ‘paleo survival’ trips for teen agers into the Sonoran desert…she is supposed to keep the boys and the girls separated at night.

    If we think realistically about collapse, there are going to be plastic and metal buckets around for a long time. Population will dwindle rapidly, as people much less well-prepared than Marjorie and Dave succumb. So industrially made buckets will be scavenge items. There will also be metal cooking utensils for a long time. Burros can be bred. The bean seeds ‘we have had forever’.

    In the very long term, baskets and earthenware will have to replace the buckets and metal cooking pots. When it comes time for that, you want to have Dave Holliday around, or else have studied up on the subjects. Baskets will probably become a household economy product, while earthenware is likely to be a specialty occupation. Clothing, as I have indicated before, is likely to become very much simpler, and disappear in favorable climates.

    Should civilization disappear tomorrow, my guess is that this family would make a trip to town, find no-one there, and go back to their mountains and live pretty happily ever after.

    Don Stewart

    • pintada says:

      Dear Don;

      The only sustainable path for humanity is if some group can survive until the population is normalized, and then wait some more for game animals to rebound. Then, and only then will hunting and gathering become possible again.

      Hunting is the only sustainable way to live. Farming leads to empire which leads inevitably to collapse.


      • As I’ve pointed out many times, when the first hunter had the bright idea of enclosing a piece of land in order to “own” it—he created capital
        After that it was just a matter of scale to get to the mess we are in now

        • If he could borrow money against this asset, he was even farther ahead!

          • well essentially that was the system that gradually evolved

            ……’guard my land from predators–whether on 4 legs or 2—and i will give you a proportion of my crops
            …….pray over my land and make it more fruitful–ditto

            effectively that is borrowing what are perceived to be assets in order to improve your production—if that ‘farmer’ got lucky and produced ‘more’ then over the next season he could ‘borrow’ more ‘assets’ and produce even more food/energy—and so the enterprise would grow until landholdings rolled up into mini states and nations because armies could be held together on the future ‘promise’ of a return on what had been borrowed in the form of their armed protection.
            if on the other hand, the nation went down, into famine and bankruptcy, then militias would invariably go self employed and turn on their ’employers’.

            now that the whole thing has become more civilised and monetized we think things have changed–but they haven’t. Nowadays executive directors are expected to deliver returns on investments, or football managers are expected to deliver endless “wins”—when they don’t, they are swiftly removed.

      • Don Stewart says:

        The carbon farming book that I have recommended refers to horticultural (not agricultural) societies which may be as old as 13,000 years. You can read the book and get descriptions of all different kinds of approaches to food. Lumping very different systems under the label ‘organic’ and then making sweeping generalizations about the failures of ‘organics’ is intellectual laziness.
        Don Stewart

        • pintada says:

          Dear Don;

          13000 paltry years?

          “These findings suggest that modern Aboriginal peoples are the direct descendants of migrants who left Africa up to 75,000 years ago.[17][18] This finding is supported by earlier archaeological finds of human remains near Lake Mungo that date to 45,000 years ago.”

          Hunting/gathering is the only sustainable lifestyle. Organic and otherwise farming got us where we are today, and it will not work in the future any better. Hunters work 500 hours per year or less and easily live to be 60 or older. Farmers (organic farmers) work from sun to sun 365 days per year and die in their 40’s.

          • Don Stewart says:

            The 13,000 years is a horticultural society, as opposed to an agricultural society. If you don’t understand the difference, you need to take a look at Toby Hemenway’s video How To Save Humanity, But Not Civilization.

            He will agree with you about the hard work involved in Agriculture. That is why he recommends Horticulture. But you have to do the homework of looking at his video to understand in some detail what the differences are.

            So far as I know, there are no purely hunting societies. The people in the Arctic come close, but they used trade to get green material to eat and they also ate green material in the innards of animals they killed.

            Don Stewart

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Farmers are the destroyers of the world…. far worse villains than bankers…. if you think about it….

          • before promoting hunting as the only sustainable lifestyle, it is important to analyse what hunting really means.
            First off, the driving force in any being, human or otherwise, is eating and procreation.
            We do that to the maximum that our resources allow.
            So—as a hunter, you must feed yourself to maintain strength, and sustain the investment in your offspring until they too are old enough to hunt as an adult. You must also feed your pregnant partner as necessary for the same reason.
            Thus, you will have young hunters who might be able to support you when you can no longer chase after your food.
            But they too will have offspring, following the same life pattern.
            This works fine when youve got the whole of Africe to fill, so tribal units can gradually move across and out of the continent and fill up fresh untouched territories as they go, taking maybe 100000 years to do so.
            Theres always fresh enegy resouces to be had, always a freash beast to kill and consume.
            When people crossed the land bridge into the Americas 14k years ago–the same expansion of hunting killed off most of the large fauna.
            So hunting is still harvesting finite energy, just as we have done now–the only difference being that it takes a bit longer thats all

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Pretty hard to see the truth in your statement when someone is completed invested in farming in Delusistan….

        Still waiting to find out what the farmers are going to do when the neighbours, family and friends show up at the dinner table…..

        How convenient to just ignore that question

    • pintada says:

      Dear Don;

      Hunters work 500 hours per year or less and easily live to be 60 or older. Farmers (organic farmers) work from sun to sun 365 days per year and die in their 40’s.

      Count me out,

      • Don Stewart says:

        I have repeatedly referred to Toby Hemenway’s lecture at Duke:
        How to Save Humanity But Not Civilization

        You can find it on YouTube…Don Stewart

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Wow – that is a big dose of Koombaya!

      ‘Marjory and company find an apple tree out in the middle of nowhere, stop to eat the apples, and meet the family they will spend the night with. Help the family harvest the last of the bean crop. Thresh the beans with sticks. Sleep with the rats in the corn crib (better than being cold or covered with chicken shit)’

      Post BAU it’s going to be gangs of marauders crashing through the gate — tearing up the gardens and orchards — killing chickens — and feasting…

      And if the Koombaya Family Robinson says hey guys please don’t do that…. guess what — he gets a bullet through the head…

      Oh of course the Koombayaists believe we will all just get along — the bike gangs and hardened criminals and deviants in our midst will just join in and help in the garden — then share the harvest…. and everyone will live pretty happily ever after.

      What %$^*&^ drugs are you on — and can I have some?

      I understand that a pharma company based in Delusistan is selling a drug called Koombaya…. is that by chance what you are taking?

      • Have you ever in your life opened a book, of historic pedigree in the first place?
        What usually happens in break downs of societies (or any fluid dynamics of this universe anyway) is that through “initial chaos” clusters are formed, which interact with other clusters forming some “balanced” structure. In plain words, in SHTF situation one regional gang be it former army/police/emergency finally outguns the more psychotic criminal+desperate elements rushing out of the starved cities, during and after the fight for power of that particular regional space allegiances are also formed with local providers and owners of real stuff, i.e. farmers, crafts, .. The deals of the new protection racket might be more or less oppressive but mutually beneficial at least on some basic level. That’s what has generally happened in various modifications through times, it’s natural. Is this “new civilization level” setting right away more prosperous, more populous, more advanced, more healthy, more .. No it’s the exact opposite on most accounts.

        Frankly FE, I don’t grasp what you you are about, perhaps you are still deeply depressed from the realization of the likely outcome. I’ve no illusions of my personal elevated chances-success in above describe social descent mechanics, because of some tiny spectrum of foreknowledge. It will remain to some extent a lottery, you have to calculate the odds on your own and don’t freak about it.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          This time is different.

          This time there will be virtually no food — because we do not farm using those old methods any longer. Our food supply is almost 100% chemically dependent.

          The chemicals will not be available.

          There will be 7.4 billion people on the rampage — there will be no police or military between them and the few people who actually grow food using old methods….

          Consider the implications of that.

          Or just take another Koombaya pill and chill out.

          And I do read a fair bit…. usually 5 or 6 books per month (I really like audio books — I can listen while I drive… or work in the garden) …. my current fetish is for books penned by war journalists…. as that gives me insights into how humans behave in strife situations…. I also put in a few hundred hours a month researching with my assistant Mr Google each month….

  31. Don Stewart says:

    Norman Pagett
    Adding to my previous comment, see

    Look at the crowd that turned out in Belton, TX to hear Marjory talk about ‘growing half your calories in a couple of hours per day’. She also gives plans for growing virtually all your calories (excluding exotic imp ors such as coffee and cocoa). Notice the picture of Marjory with Ira Wallace. Ira lives in Virginia, and is a fountain of knowledge about vegetable gardens. She wrote a wonderful guide book for the Southeastern US.

    In my experience, getting away from abstract arguments and getting into the details is essential. It is also necessary to give up ideas about what the ‘good life’ entails. How did the Nearings and Thoreau get along so well without Facebook?

    Don Stewart

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘How to Grow Half Your Own Food’

      What about the other half?

      That’s quite a crowd – must be 200 people there!

      What about the billions of others who grow absolutely nothing? Including your family friends and neighbours…..

      What will they eat?

      • “What about the billions of others who grow absolutely nothing? Including your family friends and neighbours…..

        What will they eat?”

        Hopefully the cholera and dysentery takes care of most of them. I mean, as we see with Flynt and surrounding areas, even as BAU collapses, bureaucrats and politicians will cover up the problems for months or even years while the general public are poisoned with lead and untreated water.

        For the remainder, copper coated lead will be the main course, I suspect.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Hopiumfully ….they will all die….

          Hardly likely… least not before they stampede and consume everything edible first….

          You don’t think they’ll be expecting you to feed them?

          Of course you will be immune to cholera and other diseases….

          When BAU collapses there will be no way to cover that up —- the electricity will go off… the shops will empty …. literally overnight…

          Recall what happened in New York when the power went off…

          • “Hardly likely… least not before they stampede and consume everything edible first….”

            We’ll see, depending on how fast things go downhill. Like in Michigan, the people could be drinking bad water for weeks or months before it leaks to the public.

            “Of course you will be immune to cholera and other diseases…”

            Well, I’m not on centrally distributed water, so as long as the filters work, my water should be bacteria-free. I suppose I’ll be boiling water over a fire when the electricity goes off. Not too many city dwellers and suburbanites have wood stoves anymore, since they are pretty much banned in higher density populated areas.

            I guess there will be lots of hobo-style fires in metal barrels and fire rings down on the beach for people to purify their water in. Large truck wheels could do in a pinch. Hmm maybe if the masses catch on, they’ll be able to clean their own water sufficiently and the cholera won’t weaken them …

            • bandits101 says:

              There is a lot to “think” may happen. The sluggers needing mobility scooters may find it hard……until they lose weight that is……but they probably have diabetes and heart problems. Over time if the pharmaceuticals stop, a lot of dependants, young and old will fall off the perch. A lot may succumb to drinking bad water, some will overwhelmed by stress and worry, probably a lot of in-fighting and out-fighting amongst gangs.

              Those incarcerated might perish……there are millions of those……they might be set free too. Maybe a revolt in the armed services and/or police force. Maybe just meanness will have people starting fires and overwhelm services. Maybe this, maybe that…..who the hell knows anything for sure. I was sure eight years ago leading up to the GFC. Now I know absolutely FA.

      • just hope they will find your food last

  32. Talking Muffin says:

    is anyone trying to gain as much weight as possible now before SHTF?

    • Trousers says:

      Most of the Western World by the looks of it!

    • I hope you are not trolling.
      Actually, use the time to the contrary! And better start training for daily “shallow dosage of hunger” i.e. no or very token dinner, no early breakfast, but solid much deffered later breakfast after cardio work around 10-11am, lunch 2-3pm, obviously this is quite hard to perform if you are commuting office-cubicle slave, but if possible lets shift to this healthy model of our ancestors..

    • “is anyone trying to gain as much weight as possible now before SHTF?”

      I would not recommend “as much as possible”, but some fat might help. If you are burning 2200 calories a day and only eating 1100, you will lose about a pound a day, so being 60 pounds overweight will help keep you going an extra two months.

      I don’t think putting on an extra 200 pounds will necessarily keep you alive longer; unless you are well stocked up and in a very remote location.

      There is some practical limit to how much you can pull from body fat, before you start catabolising and eating your own muscle and organs.

      A 20 kilo bag of rice contains about 26 000 calories, so it is probably a better strategy to just buy a couple bags of rice for $50, rather than to try to gain an extra 50 pounds of fat.

  33. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Glance at article. Look at pictures. SOMETHING is happening.
    Don Stewart

  34. richard says:

    I may have missed an earlier reference to this on this thread:
    “But it is climate change that may give organic farming the edge. As the new research underlines, “organically managed farms have frequently been shown to produce higher yields than their conventional counterparts” during droughts, because the manures they use retain moisture in the soil. And severely dry conditions “are expected to increase with climate change in many areas”.”

    • The proponents of organic farming gloss over the sordid details of food production.
      the problem with organic farming will always be cost, either in manpower or money or both.
      We practiced “organic farming” exclusively until the introduction of “assisted” farming a century or so ago, but that meant 90+% of available people working the land. And I DO mean Men women and children. —a child of 5 is old enough to scare birds away from crops.
      People had to work hard to produce what they ate. There was virtually no surplus.
      A week’s food supply took maybe 70 hours of hard labour to pay for it.—maybe a lot more in summer. That’s using all able bodied people…not one man on a tractor.. Foodcrops need constant nurturing in order to thrive and produce what we need.
      Not for nothing were the 3 months before harvest known as the hungry months.
      Whether we can produce sufficient food to feed humanity is debatable, but what is not up for debate is the hands on nature of the production methods necessary to do it.

      We have unfortunately become detached from that reality. People “demand” cheap food, and can’t understand why that should be otherwise. Food appears on supermarket shelves, and so always will. WE know no other way.
      If it doesn’t then vote for a different set of politicians who promise that it will—forever. (No shortage of cheap politicos!).

      So, anyone extolling the virtue and necessity of “organic farming” has to ask themselves this question:
      Would your missis and kids be prepared to work in the fields to produce food?—or if you have no family—ask the same hypothetical question of a few other families you know. Or ask it of yourself for that matter.
      i suspect the answer—admitted or not—will be that food will still appear on supermarket shelves under an ‘organic’ label, and by some miracle of economics, will still be at the same price and quantity and year round availability. When we are forced to go “organic”–ie growing what we need, the above scenario is what we face.

      finite worldsters no doubt understand what I’m banging on about—but the vast majority of humanity most certainly do not

      • Don Stewart says:

        Norman Pagett
        I have written on this subject repeatedly, but it doesn’t seem to stop the misinformation. If you are seriously interested in the options we have for growing and processing food, then you need to take a look at The Carbon Farming Solution, by Eric Toensmeier. It was published yesterday.

        Eric describes many, many different flavors of food growing. Some are better adapted to drylands, some to humid regions, some to the tropics, some to the Temperate Zones. Some are based on grazing, others are based on plants, others are mixed.

        The starting point for any discussion should recognize that the world is currently producing enough food to feed 11 billion people. The hungry are hungry, not because of a shortage of food, but because of the methods we use to distribute food. For example, those in dire poverty ARE short of food, but that doesn’t mean food is in short supply.

        I won’t try to discuss all the flavors of food growing that Eric describes, but I will give you some conclusions that I have reached. My conclusions are based on ‘the end of the oil age, soon’ which implies a transportation crisis.
        *Millions more farmers. Both farmers and consumers living closer to the land in order to shorten and simplify distribution.
        *Urgent need right now to get more carbon out of the air and into the soil. Must deal with soil compaction where it is a problem.
        *If we are going to terraform, we need to do it now while we still have fossil fuels.
        *The Philippines, where 70 percent of households have gardens which not only feed them but also produce food and food products for sale, will fare much better than New York City and London.
        *We have a severe shortage of knowledge about how home gardens should actually operate. Many, many people have to learn how to operate their garden with few inputs and to get a positive energy yield.
        *Climate change is progressing rapidly, and threatens to overwhelm any progress we make. Therefore, time is of the essence.
        *The handful of crops and animals which currently dominate the global food supply must be replaced with a wide array of different plants and animals.
        *Going back to great-grandpa’s methods will not work. Neither will the ‘high-tech fantasy’ currently popular in Congress.

        Don Stewart

        • Don, if you look closely at the railway network utilization, chiefly post WWII in western countries, you notice how the explosion of trucking at that time just meant the end of train cargo for local industries, incl. most of farming, while the rails are still there in situ. The signs of this are available almost everywhere, hence I believe a partial reversal to train mode is possible in times of future fuel shortages. Another aspect we already touched upon several times is the end of megafarm conglomerates, it will have to fall apart into smaller more manageable units according to local specifics. Obviously, people especially in the west are absolutely not mentally prepared for any inconvenience in food availability, so this will be likely additional vector of further socioeconomic destabilization.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Keep on working on these ideas Don.

          The hordes will love you for it.

        • Kanghi says:

          Dear Don,
          As a fellow permaculturalist I feel bouth sides of the discussion are right. Yes we can by utilitization of regenerative agriculture and its designing arm of permaculture design and holistic management feed a big part of the world, but can we deliver the food for 7,4billion and growing 80million a year, who largely live in mega cities and spread the knowledge in time, without famine witch could kill billions? As it has been in studies shown avaible energy sets the limits to the size of population. You wrote that be currently produce enought food to feed 11billion, that is true but it is also true that it is only possible to do so cos of the use of fossile fuels in harvesting and delivering. Without fossile fuels there is not anymore food for 11 billion people, or to the 7,4 we have currently and as the Limits of the Growth collapse model shows the population will drop to 2billion max, if we dont nuke our lifes away and cause our own extinction. It fills me with deep sadness, that we used the last 40- years wasting the time to turn things for good allowed the population to overshoot and ignored the science of the limits.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Did you see the debate in Australia which featured George Monbiot and David Holmgren? The debate was sparked by Holmgren’s proposal that an ‘enlightened few’ could bring down the horribly destructive industrial system. The crowd voted decidedly against Holmgren and in favor of the crowd favoring green substitutes for the bad features of industrialism.

            I think if you look at the Permaculture pioneers, they are all mystified that, for all their hard work, nothing much has happened. The soils have continued to erode and lose carbon and water vapor to the atmosphere. Cities have continued to concentrate populations in unsustainable numbers. Humans seem determined to burn the last ounce of fossil fuels. Etc.

            Will the Paris agreements change anything? I don’t know. I know that explaining to people the predicament they are in doesn’t seem to accomplish much. However, people do learn from experience, as I said earlier in this thread. David Denby observes in the classrooms that he visited that young people realize that things have changed. They are being moulded by experiences which the average baby-boomer teenager in the US did not have.

            I don’t see any way that I personally can have much impact on how the world transitions to whatever is coming next. So I fall back on things like the 150 Strong idea.

            Don Stewart
            PS I don’t know what the leaders of all the ‘traditional biological farming’ movements around the world think. It is still true, I think, that governments in these countries are absolutely eager to sell out to the highest bidder.

      • Ert says:


        I think you may have to differentiate between organic practice – with external energy inputs (fossil fuels, etc. pp) – and food production without external inputs (only humans,animals that are feed from the crop harvested).

        Without external energy inputs you are right. I come from a small farm and had always to help (weeding, irrigation, cleaning of silos, etc. pp. and when I could legally drive even more…). And that was already with a lot of external inputs in the 70thies. My father even had no choice with job to pursue…. and kids where probably seen primarily as cheap labor and retirement insurance (which is part why so many people, including me, are emotionally dysfunctional – that what my parents didn’t got, they could not give).

        What will be critical is when systems or external energy input fails. A big problem nowadays is that Farming is already high-tech in many ways and highly dependent on debt through the whole chain.

        • The hitech system based on ext. inputs will fail.
          Now as always the question remains is it going to be “smooth” overnight style kaboom or more step-wise ordeal, because if the latter, we can have lengthy periods of nasty stuff as various gov remnants trying to push people into farm labor on the same footprint (keep the cities fed) instead of much preferable decentralized restart of quasi independent small scale farming and homesteading.

        • Response to Don and Ert

          My basis of thinking was that of having no external energy inputs/outputs—maybe I should have made that clearer. I also try to take into account human nature as it is right now—not what we might wish it to be in the future; the vast majority of people will not willing embrace a lifestyle where they have to produce what they eat. To think otherwise is dangerous fantasy.
          I will respond piecemeal–forgive me if I leave out bits here and there—impossible to cover everything.
          We may indeed produce enough food to feed 11 billion people—though not altogether sure about that. It may be correct, but it would no doubt be on the level of a European peasant diet of the middle ages—basically grains of some sort, very little variety and poor overall nutrition. Very little meat other than for the wealthy.
          Producing that amount of food would only be by use of current farming methods I suspect.
          Next problem: Having produced all that food, you have to shift it to where it’s needed—that might be 5000 miles away. How? There is only one method of transporting food as deadweight, and that is by burning hydrocarbon fuel. The transportation crisis stops everything except wishful thinking.
          Right now, many of the hungry millions seem to be in areas where farming has collapsed or is virtually impossible. The deserts across Africa support no “farming practices” at all—and never have, only waterhole to waterhole herding at a subsistence level.
          I’m not saying for one moment that feeding hungry millions shouldn’t be done, but shifting millions of tons of food requires a lot of energy. It may not be available, or affordable.
          It also brings on another crisis. That of even faster population growth.
          I suggest you google Dabaab–a refugee “city” of 500000 people sitting on the desert of Northern Kenya

          they are fed by trucked in food—and that’s it.

          Comparing Phillippines to London or New York—One word—temperature.
          You cannot grow year round crops at a latitude of 52 North (london). At 14N Manila, you can. But leaving that obvious difference aside for the moment, Manila is expected to grow from current pop of 12m, to 23 m by 2025 or thereabouts. They cannot be fed from urban gardens, another dangerous fantasy.
          Terraforming—a real sci-fi buzzword. Are we to ‘terraform’ as the Chinese did, and the peoples of Central America—into terraces? They were built by hand over centuries. As you say—time is of the essence. We are not going to be able to use motor traction, that will not show sufficient return on immediate investment—all important factor there. Food production is a business, saving future lives has nothing to do with it.

          I find myself with an inherent wariness of information which is punctuated with “We must” and “We should” and “We will have to” —etc etc. It comes under my file of wish politics, wish economics and wish science.

          By and large, the vast majority of people will not veer from their ‘here and now’ lifestyle without a severe impetus from an external force. (I count myself in there too)—–namely imminent catastrophe—and even then, they will continue to believe that infinite prosperity can be voted into office.
          Enforced change will come though, the economic crash will see to that. With no functioning economy, society will begin to break down. As that happens, power will be seized by whoever has sufficient means to do so—(purely in the national interest of course).
          What happens after that is another story, you can be sure it won’t have a happy ending.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The organic krowd would like to convince us that all those seas of vegetables and grains that we see as we pass industrial farms would continue to be grown post BAU…

            All we need to do is get rid of the Roundup… GMO… urea…. and other chemical fertilizers and pesticides derived from petro chemicals….

            The billions of starving people could simply be deployed to do the manual labour that is required to farm these areas organically.

            It is a wonderful uplifting vision of the future! Joe Six Pack carefully sowing the soil and gathering ripe crops to bring home to the family who are at home baking bread and waiting for papa….

            Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

            As I have posted previously — almost all farmland is farmed using chemicals which kill the microbes in the soil.

            Years of organic inputs would be required to repair these damaged soils to the point where they would support crops.

            And to compound the problem — a lot of the land that we grow food on would support nothing without irrigation pumps that are powered by electricity. For instance – much of California’s massive crop production is grown using both chemicals and heavy duty pumps that suck water from deep under ground. California would produce next to nothing post BAU.


            Even most small scale and commercial level organic farms today use irrigation pumps — when the tap runs dry …they too will produce nothing …nadda….

            And any organic farms that are able to produce food post BAU — will be obvious targets for the starving hordes…

            Relatives… neighbours … armed gangs….. starving women and children….. they will be all at the gate …. then when you tell them sorry people we don’t have enough to feed all of you….

            Then they will be clamouring over the gate… racing into the gardens … ripping up everything that grows…. they will be killing chickens and cows and goats and roasting them over fires….

            The organic krowd likes to ignore this …. or they just stuff these dark thoughts into the closet and pretend that miraculously they will be left alone to grow cabbages and carrots…

            You’d really have to turn up the volume on Koombaya to believe that is going to happen….

            • We have been at this junction with you several times..
              It’s not my biz that California (and other regions) became large food producer based on the “temporary” fossil fuel inrush. Post BAU, it will simply depopulate, some survivors might strike it lucky in more northeasterly bound rural resettlement. I’m not advocating 1:1 post BAU Koombaya levels of anything, including the population.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Virtually all food production is reliant on chemical fertilizers — therefore virtually all farms will produce nothing post BAU when the oil stops.

              And the hungry will rip everything out of the ground — they will kill everything that moves — and eat it.

              During past famines back in the days before food drops from airplanes… people ate one another….

              So you think they will just leave the small scale fellas with their plots of land alone when there is nothing to eat?

              And at this point in steps Mr Cognitive Dissonance — who will quickly make what is a very simple equation i.e. 1+1 = starvation …

              Disappear — as if it went in through one ear and out the other…..

            • S.Cal became a major food producer for the rest of the continent because water could be piped into the desrt to make it bloom, because the nation as a whole had sufficient resources of energy (oil coal etc) to make that happen
              Great stuff
              But that doesn’t change the fact that the natural state of that state is still desert, and as the oil runs out, it will return to desert. And a desrt where people pretend that climate doesn’t apply to them.

              Is it just me, (cheery soul that I am)—or has anyone else spun a globe lately and noticed that S California and Syria are on the same latitude?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We’ll see how civilized we are when the resources… and the food … run out….

              We will find that we are no different than the Syrians….. the radicalization has already begun…. see Trump….

            • Don Stewart says:

              Fast Eddy
              Toby Hemenway said in the Q and A session at Duke that he thinks the population will settle about 500M to perhaps 2B. Many people here make claims that ‘the organic crowd wants us to believe blah, blah, blah’ Which organic crowd did you have in mind? When Marjory Wildcraft starts talking about composting an obnoxious neighbor, do you think that is ONLY a joke?

              Toughen up….Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Can you contact this Toby Hemmingway and ask him what all these people are going to eat when the oil stops — the chemical fertilizers are no longer available meaning nothing will grow and the irrigation pumps will sit idle for want of electricity?

              Oh and when the greenies use their last charge on their Prius to head down to Whole Foods they will find it looted and whatever produce is left is rotting in the pretty display shelves…

              It is so easy to say 500m or 2B can live post BAU — until you start getting into the details of how….

            • Don Stewart says:

              Fast Eddy
              I believe Toby was here in 2008 or 9. So 6 or 7 years ago. His advice was to get started on a horticultural system. IF someone had followed his advice, they would now be well along toward a resilient food system. What you are describing is people who have NOT followed Toby’s advice.

              So the answer to your question is that those who have ignored Toby’s advice will be among the billions who won’t make it. The answer is so obvious I would not bother Toby with it. In fact, I’m beginning to regret wasting time answering your question, since you will just keep repeating your mantra.

              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:


              The thing is….. almost nobody is following his advice….

              Virtually nobody is growing anything … and very few would be self-sufficient in food

              So what does that leave us with post collapse?

              7.4 billion hungry people.

              What do you think these people are going to do when they are faced with hunger?

              I am not just talking about city-dwellers —- I am talking about rural folks…. I am in a remote rural area and I know for a fact that most people are not self-sufficient in food grown without petrochemicals and irrigation (we just had 3+ weeks without a drop of rain …. )

              Yes there are a lot of farms here — but they are all on petro chemical fertilizers — I know of a couple of commercial organic outfits in the area — but they could never come close to feeding the population in this area….

              When I am faced with a food shortage I will get on my bike and see if I can get something from one of these nearby farmers…. everyone knows who they are…. do you not think thousands will be showing up with the same idea?

              We’ve all seen what humans are capable of when resources are short —- I guarantee you when those farmers try to turn people away things will get violent — desperate people will overwhelm them….

              That is reality Don. There is no way that this will not happen.

              Perhaps if you were to locate yourself in the middle of absolutely nowhere — a place without roads — without access — without neighbours…. you might be left alone…

              But even then — it would be a brutal existence … experienced settlers living in those circumstances starved to death….

              Even the best organic farmers are no match for the tough bastards who set up shop pre-industrial revolution …..

              What I get tired of is your endless posts about how to farm organically —- and meanwhile you cannot even answer the simple question of what will you do when your neighbours, family and friends show up at the gate begging for food that you do not have?

              That is going to happen — what are you going to do?

            • Don Stewart says:

              Fast Eddy
              Last time I will ever respond to this sort of stuff. A New Year’s Resolution for me!

              There are three different issues involved:
              *Saving the world. David Holmgren came up with Retrofitting the Suburbs a decade or so ago. Few people took any action. Most of the people in the world do not perceive that they need saving, are not willing to take any joint action to avoid starving, and are not willing to expend any work to avoid starving. Eric Toensmeier, the French government, and some elements in the United Nations are taking another run at it. I wish them well, but wouldn’t hold my breath.
              *Saving a small group. Somebody here posted an article which described the energy dynamics of predation. If the group has low calorie density gardens, then the group is not a very attractive target for predation, especially if the group has a means to defend itself.
              *Saving oneself. The key here, I think, is to make yourself valuable to 149 other people (the 150 Strong concept). If you are in such a group, you don’t have to personally know everything. You just have to have a symbiotic relationship with the 149 other people. And symbiosis is the basis for the productivity that we see in the natural world. So it makes sense to me to study it and practice it and invest some time now in building infrastructure.

              End of what I have to say.
              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ll distill this down to one question – which I know you won’t answer:

              What will you do when your family, friends, neighbours as well as the inevitable bad guys with guns — who to a man have not heeded your advice —- recognize that they made a mistake — and show up at your gate begging/demanding to be fed?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I bet if I was at the Q&A I would have been shouted down by the koombaya brigade and thrown out on my ass for asking these sorts of questions …..

              I can see it now — security guards escorting me out while I am loudly singing Koombaya my lord… Koombaya….. oh lord Koombaya…. 🙂

          • Don Stewart says:

            Norman Pagett
            I agree that most people are lemmings who will walk right over the cliff.

            In terms of terraforming, I have read that the Chinese have done some extensive reclamation which involves considerable earthworks. While earthworks CAN be done by human labor with crude tools, it is vastly easier with an excavator. An excavator is when one really begins to understand what Nate Hagens’ ‘energy slaves’ are all about.

            Don Stewart

          • Do you realize that those large parts of African/ME “deserts support no farming practices” have been altered to the current sorry state by the very help of human factor, namely very stupid agri practices.. ? However, it’s reversible, obviously not everywhere.

            About “wish politics” – that’s a good point, but already answered on numerous occasions.
            One of the best motivators is by example, if you see your neighbor is after 5-15yrs of altering agri practices way above previously imaginable levels of food sufficiency, well perhaps you might stop for a second and ponder, why is that? What exactly is he doing differently and what is stopping me to follow and adjust in my setting? The knowledge, the cat is out of the bag now, it will probably take not decades but centuries to spread truly globally as the chaos from falling apart techno civilization will punctuate this process..

            • “Do you realize that those large parts of African/ME “deserts support no farming practices” have been altered to the current sorry state by the very help of human factor, namely very stupid agri practices.. ?”

              The Sahara used to be a lush green grassland. Even in the time of the Romans, it was perhaps like the Serengeti. Not everything is primarily caused by humans; some things are trends going back tens of thousands of years.

            • the sahara used to be lush grassland during the time of the last ice age—due to different weather patterns 20000 years ago
              the romans used the northern coastal strip of africa as a granary, not the sahara

      • pintada says:

        Dear Norman Pagett;

        Thank you! A little intelligent, well worded, and correct information to counter the organic farming religious silliness that gets spread around here every day.


      • B9K9 says:

        Where’s Paul these days? He’s usually all over these pie-in-the-sky non-FF food production schemes/dreams.

        I don’t know if I’ve mentioned our gardening experience @ OFW, but we have a large, over-sized suburban lot in what used to be prime agricultural land. For over a decade, we’ve dedicated a portion to a citrus ‘orchard’ (4 large mature orange, grapefruit, lime & lemon trees), as well as extensive raised beds for annual vegetables. In addition, just for shits & giggles, we have a bunch of grape vines that grow along the back fence. And for the coup de grace, a big compost heap that gets constantly re-cycled into the beds each year.

        The result? A nice, fun garden that produces a lot of (year round) citrus, and a lot of vegetables (beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, squash, etc) for 2-3 months. But could we live on this output? Are you kidding me – this is just for fun. The idea that we could come come anywhere close to 3-5% of our actual caloric needs puts it in the fantasy category.

        People have to realize that this is it – there isn’t any way out. Without FFs, we’re barely educated apes. BAU seems real enough today, but it’s all an illusion. That’s why it’s best to focus on enjoying yourself every day, staying fit (if that’s what you’re into) and leave the worrying & struggling to people who simply aren’t smart enough to understand what is occurring.

        • Don Stewart says:

          I have repeatedly suggested Marjory Wildcraft’s personal examples for growing half your calories and growing all your calories. If you couldn’t make that work, it says more about you than it does about whether it can be made to work.
          Don Stewart

          • Fast Eddy says:

            So you can grow enough food to survive.

            What will you do when your nephews and nieces and friends and their families show up at the farm asking you to share?

            What will you do when 5000 starving people are at the gate desperately wanting to be fed?

          • pintada says:

            Dear Don;

            We can produce our own food and prove it by giving a lot away. We don’t bother eating it exclusively because in this climate, a lot of the good stuff is impossible to produce. We compost, and do all the organic farming stuff. When the collapse comes, we will have just enough to survive. Just.

            The crazy claim that our group could ever feed more than just our group falls flat with anyone that has ever done it. Maybe Marjory does it, but she doesn’t do it here. But, once the population drops to where it should be, ~500 million, hunting will again be an option. Hunting is the only sustainable lifestyle.

            And finally, my homework? Dude, I have been running or working on farms much of my life (with some time off to actually make a living) don’t imagine that I have not done the work to know this subject.


            • Don Stewart says:

              I think I replied to the statement that lots of work only produced less than 5 percent of required calories. My response to that is to observe, as I have many times, that one can work very hard growing lettuce and get virtually zero calories. That’s not a criticism of lettuce. Lettuce has polyphenols and fiber which are essential to human well-being…but they are not calories.

              I use Marjory as an example of what can be done in a modest space without excessive amount of work. But she has designed her system well, using small animals integrated with plants. People can use any system or production they want to use…I’m not particularly promoting Marjory’s system.

              I recently posted an example of two guys from Austin who converted the yard of their rental house into a market garden. Their goal is to grow some food but also to generate some money. But they are very smart about selling. They sell at work and in the neighborhood. So they don’t have to do a lot to promote what they have to sell. Their system may work well for many people. They have 3 people tending the garden, mostly on Sunday.

              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Which reminds me …. there is an organic Koombaya Village in NZ…. I was speaking to someone from there and was asking how many people live there etc….

              He said that after the earthquake in Christchurch they were asked to take care of 18 people…. that meant feeding them….. his comment to me was that they could spare enough to keep the extra people for perhaps a week … but beyond that it was not possible to feed them from the community gardens…..

              There are 500,000 people in Christchurch….. they will have no food….

          • What percentage of people in the world have access to land–could purchase the land and pay taxes out of some other continuing income? Also purchase all tools, water. etc. out of some other continuing income? We are not talking about a cheap hobby that just anyone could take up.

            • Don Stewart says:

              A pretty high percentage of people in the world actually do have land. Some of the poorest people in the world are female farmers. David Kennedy of the Leaf for Life Foundation worked tirelessly with such people until his recent retirement. He basically showed them how to make their efforts more productive and health promoting.

              It is true that all the monetary stimulus in the US has inflated land prices. Lots of land near me is owned by rich people who use it only for hunting…and long term speculation, I suppose.

              But there are also people with very modest incomes in the US living in the old inner suburbs who have significant amounts of unused land around their houses. During the riots in Ferguson, MO, I posted some pictures from that neighborhood showing houses with virtually no vegetation around them. I can show you Habitat houses near where I live where the people are growing little or nothing.

              Marjory’s methods do not involve a whole lot of investment, by American standards.

              Granted, there are some people in dense slums who cannot stay where they are and grow any of their food. But when you look at the actual situation, immigrants can usually find some place to grow some food, while native born Americans will not grow food. If 70 percent of Filipinos can do it, why can’t more Americans? Which class is better positioned, Wall Street brokers or Filipinos who are poor but have a significant garden?

              John F. Kennedy said ‘Who ever told you life was fair?’ And I think that sums up the situation. If, as Toby Hemenway thinks, population needs to shrink to less than 2 billion, there are going to be casualties. They will not all be ‘fair’. An individual has to look as clearly as possible at the alternatives, and do what they think is best. Or you can perceive it as an Act of God and do nothing.

              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ve got many large invoices related to the set up a small hobby farm that could not feed a family of 4…. lumber and bolts for raised beds…. truckloads of compost (try making enough compost to get started from scratch…) …. greenhouse…. propogation shed… tools… irrigation… hoses….

              If I had to do all the work myself it would have taken years to set this up — unless I were to quite my day job and stopped posting on FW…..

              Like one of the workers said — I used to grow my own organic food – but it was far cheaper buy it from commercial growers…. organic farming is an expensive hobby…..

        • Fast Eddy says:

          My new strategy is to ask the question about what to do when the hordes show up for dinner…. I think that is what is needed to bust through the cognitive dissonance…. it may drive some people off the deep end though…

          I completely agree — very few people are growing enough food to self-sustain…. we most definitely could not live off of our rather large garden and orchard…. never mind feeding the neighbours….

          It is however nice to have fresh food much of the year….

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “understand what I’m banging on about”

        Been there, done that.

        Back in the early 70s, before water got really expensive in Tucson, we raised about half the food we ate on a city sized lot about 6 blocks north of the U of Arizona. Raised almost all the meat we ate for several years. Rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys and milk goats, even a few geese one year. Virtually all the garden produce, had several fruit trees. We even grew wheat one year in the side yard, got maybe 70 pounds of it. Didn’t grind it, fed it to the chickens, but other than grinding I have done every one of the steps to make bread. For a few years I made all the bread we ate, partly as a sink for the whey from making cheese and the excess eggs. It was an awful lot of work, but it did give us the experience to write a paper for the 1975 Space Manufacturing Conference at Princeton on a space farm.

        “gloss over the sordid details of food production”

        You certainly got that right. Not claiming I got more than a taste of it, but even that was enough for me to be highly appreciative of supermarkets, and the entire industrial chain that supports farming.


        • Don Stewart says:

          In my opinion, trying to reproduce the industrial food system, but not using fossil fuels, is as dumb as trying to reproduce current energy consumption patterns, but not using fossil fuels and relying entirely on wind and solar. SOMEBODY may claim it can be done, but I don’t think I have ever said so. If you want to plan on living in a collapsed society, the best advice I can give you is to look at people who are basically independent today….such as the Tarahumara family that Marjory is visiting. You can pretty easily spot the stuff that comes from town, and figure out what they would have to do differently if the town disappeared. If, by contrast, you take a Manhattan penthouse and try to work backward, there is just too much clutter to ever figure out how it might work out.

          Another alternative is to go on a ‘wilderness’ or ‘paleo’ retreat and actually live with very little in the way of civilization for a limited period of time.

          As I have indicated, I think things such as plastic buckets will be valuable scavenge goods for a few decades after a fast collapse.

          It is also true that life gets easier, up to a point, as more people die off. The Tarahumara family has been able to spread out over more territory as neighboring families have moved to town. You don’t want to be all alone, but fewer neighbors can be a good thing until population balances resources.

          Don Stewart

          • Fast Eddy says:

            If only we could work out how to grow food in chemically ruined soils…. without water… and in the winter…

            Keith — when you finish up with the solar space project…. can you then solve the above.

            • It’s rather unfortunate that after all those years here you have not grasped a single bit of basic information how to keep (slow) water on the property, a cellar without electricity (for winter food) among other things is also not exactly the newest invention etc.

              Again, is it feasible, desirable, possible to maintain current arrangement of suburban plots, megacities, its inhabitants and their dominant culture? Most likely not, but that was never the basis of the argument here in the first place.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You’ve not addressed the questions.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “can you then solve the above”

              Been solved. Hydroponics and greenhouses. Done all the time. Those “on the vine” tomatoes you see in the stores are all grown that way. Wintertime you can get most of the transpiration water back as it condenses on the walls. It does take energy, but if you have enough you can even grow a garden in a cave. Lots of people know how since an awful lot of marijuana is grown indoors under lights. I have not personally done this for 60 years, not since I grew tomatoes in the winter as a kid for a science fare project.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You have not answered the primary question.

              Let’s keep it simple – one question:

              How do we grow food in chemically ruined soils without years of organic inputs?

              I add that last part because when BAU ends… we will not have years…. we will need to be able to start growing food in these soils immediately.

              As for hydroponics and greenhouses — they need to be heated — there will be no way to do so post BAU so you can forget about that.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “How do we grow”

              I think the correct answer is “just fine.” You may not get as big a crop as you would with optimum fertilizers, but farmers do this all the time when the added yield isn’t enough to justify the cost.

              The most common thing they do is rotate beans and corn.

              “need to be heated”

              It hit ninety in Phoenix in Feb. Most greenhouses out in this part of the world are not heated at all.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              No – you can grow absolutely nothing in soil that has been farmed using petro chemicals.

              The chemicals destroy all micro-organisms in the soil and adversely affect PH levels

              It takes many years of intense organic inputs to repair said soils.

              Those are the facts.

              If you have time in your busy schedule of saving the world and posting on FW — can you find a few minutes to invent a fix for this — starvation is a bitch

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “No – you can grow absolutely nothing in soil that has been farmed using petro chemicals.”

              Eddy, that’s ridiculous. If that were the case, a fallow field would not have weeds coming up. I can’t believe you are making such a claim.

              “The chemicals destroy all micro-organisms in the soil”

              The worst contaminated industrial sites in the word have microbes in them and weeds growing on them. Some of the microbes are degrading really nasty stuff like chlorinated hydrocarbons. The only soil I know of that has none is fresh volcanic ash. With water, plants grow just fine in ash. It makes the richest and most productive soils in the world.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ve posted research on this before…. you can grow nothing in chemically farmed soil without years of repairs.

              Believe what you want….. you are apparently quite adept at that….

              And that is the point — some things just cannot be done …. regardless of how much you want to believe they can

            • Fast Eddy says:

              On the other issue I believe the question was can you invent a way to grow food in the winter and without water.

              To be more specific — I want you to show me how to grow vegetables in -30 degree weather

              I also want you to show me how to grow vegetables in with absolutely 0 water inputs.

              My point here Keith — is that some things are just not possible…. like space solar….

            • “On the other issue I believe the question was can you invent a way to grow food in the winter and without water.”

              If you have massive amounts of electricity at 3 cents a kWh, I think distilling sea water and using electric heat would not be too difficult.

              The bigger issue I see is that adding more energy would simply allow more exponential growth of everything, followed by a later, more severe crash. It would not fix any of the underlying problems.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Grow vegetables without water. Not where can we obtain water to grow them

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “Another alternative is to go on a ‘wilderness’ or ‘paleo’ retreat and actually live with very little in the way of civilization for a limited period of time.”

            I have done that too when I was *much* younger. In the early 60s I worked for a geophysics company that was running surveys across the mountains in Peru. There were about 8 of us living in tents above 14,000 feet out there without a break for months. We had a cook and supplies were hauled in the hard way from the nearest town, perhaps 50 km away. It was, I suppose, good training for later walking for a couple of weeks though the Sierras and climbing Mt Whitney.

            I think I did my share of roughing it.

            • Don Stewart says:

              ‘We had a cook and supplies were hauled in the hard way from the nearest town’

              As I understand Dave Holliday’s expeditions into the Sonora Desert, the kids have only what they can carry or find. They sleep on the ground in the desert. If they don’t find food, they don’t eat.

              The fact that Marjory goes along on these as a chaperone is perhaps why she says about her trip to Tarahumara country that ‘I’m not worried about missing a few meals’. She’s done it before. But she also understands the problems of sleeping under a desert sky (radiating to outer space) and chooses to sleep in the corn crib with the rats.

              My only point is that stripping life down to some essentials is perhaps a good step for those thinking about surviving a fast crash.

              Don Stewart

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “expeditions into the Sonora Desert”

              I lived in the Sonora Desert (Tuson) from 1960 to 1985. Walked over vast stretches of it either for work or with the Southern Arizona Search and Rescue looking for lost people.

              Depending on the time of the year, how equipped you are and your condition, you can die out there in under an hour. That happened to a couple of people who tried to walk cross country from the parking lot at


              picacho peak state park fatalities in Google will pull up a bunch more.

              “the kids have only what they can carry or find. They sleep on the ground in the desert. If they don’t find food, they don’t eat.”

              You can carry enough water and food to live for several days, even in the summer if you find shade during the hot part of the day. An in some parts you could perhaps live off the land. But that’s got to be one of the worst places to try that I know about. If things came apart, running into that desert would gain you single digit days at best.

              I understand the radiating to space problem since that’s what I do in designing power satellites. And yes, if you don’t have a sleeping back, rats would be preferred to sleeping in the open. Even in the summer I have had ice form on my sleeping bag.

              . . . . I have a story about my pet mostly wild coatimundi and a sleeping bag, but it’s way off topic.

      • “The proponents of organic farming gloss over the sordid details of food production.
        the problem with organic farming will always be cost, either in manpower or money or both.”

        That’s not true. You can use tractors for certified organic farms. There are many large, industrial organic farms. You may be referring to what some might call permaculture.

        “A week’s food supply took maybe 70 hours of hard labour to pay for it.—maybe a lot more in summer.”

        Meanwhile, tribal fishing cultures got away with an average 12 hour work week. Something to be said about letting your food grow itself.

        Yes, if we try to maintain anywhere near current population levels, people would be working 60 to 90 hours per week to try to squeeze a living out of 2000 square feet. Fewer people = more land per person = less hours of work per person to survive. To a point, of course; having some scale of economy to have some portion of the population be specialists helps; blacksmiths, shipbuilders, etc.

        The bigger, more immediate issue is that few places have stockpiles of food ready for making a transition from industrial agriculture. More so than the psychology of people having to go back to subsistence farming, the transition will probably involve a lot of starvation and violence.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘The bigger, more immediate issue is that few places have stockpiles of food ready for making a transition from industrial agriculture’

          You’ll need years of stockpiles… because you cannot convert chemically farmed land (and nearly all land is farmed with chemicals) to organic without years of organic inputs…

          • “.. Executing general stop to foreign food aid and commercial exports immediately…, war like preparedness scenario food rationing for population starts now, … ”

            Voila, your nation has jut bought few years to seriously start readjusting, it will obviously take 1/x out of your pop immediately (hopefully more elderly than children), some pandemic outbreaks and other problems. But the post BAU world soldiered on, as it dropped further down on the civilization ladder.

          • “You’ll need years of stockpiles… ”

            Well, I won’t; the land I am on now is recently cleared forest and swamp with a good thick layer of rich soil. The family farm out east has been basically laying fallow for 10 years – they still harvest the hay, but don’t till or seed or fertilize or do anything to it.

            For sure, I think a three year food stockpile is a key component for anybody really considering hunkering down for TEOTWAWKI. Mostly because you probably don’t want to have a large, productive garden until after the roving masses are gone.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              What about when the roving masses show up at your gate wanting food when BAU goes down?

              Let’s have a look at what that will look like (add some guns…)

            • ejhr2015 says:

              Her’s a site showing some are suggesting plans;

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The problem with these emergency plans is that they assume an emergency…. and emergency implies a short term crisis….

              This will not be a short term crisis — if anything we can call this the Endless Emergency — or better still – The New Normal

              It will involve food shortages, no electricity, no government, no police, no shops, no medicine, no petrol, disease, violence…….

              That’s the brave new world that we enter when BAU goes down the toilet…..

              A bug out bag will be about as useful as a Band Aid when your arm has been chopped off.

            • “The problem with these emergency plans is that they assume an emergency…. and emergency implies a short term crisis….”

              They sell one month food supplies of dried food for $100. Not terrible; could go 50 % dried food, 50% rice, and a vitamin pill and be pretty decently prepared for ~$2 per day per person. So, 4 people for one year for ~$3000. Not bad for huddling in the dark waiting for the chaos to die down.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              When a system as ingrained as the current BAU collapses…. I do not think things will die down in a year….

              This is not like a major war….

              We are talking about the end of energy here… it is not as if anything remotely resembling normality will come out of this….

            • “When a system as ingrained as the current BAU collapses…. I do not think things will die down in a year….”

              Do you no longer believe in the collapse hypothesis? Thinking it might be more of a long, drawn out waterfall of decline over years or decades?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Not at all.

              What I actually believe is that this is an extinction event — a perfect storm of famine, disease, and spent fuel ponds. But let’s leave that aside and pretend it’s not an extinction event.

              When the financial system breaks — total collapse will follow.

              If by some miracle some people survive — they’ll be living in conditions so brutal – they will wish they were dead.

              I do not see those conditions improving — because there will be no energy on which to built a new civilization upon.

        • obviously there will be variations with regard to different people, skills, places, and so on, but I try to look on the overall problems we face from a collective point of view.
          Illustrating “individual” reactions is largely as waste of discussion time.
          And from that perspective, I would suggest that , come SHTF time—whenever that might be, the vast majority of people will have done nothing to prepare for it. (After all—just what can you prepare for, when you dont know what is going to happen, or when, or where.) We are all guilty of hoping it will be somebody else’s fan, a very long way away.
          Until way beyond the last minute (and we may have passed that already) we will continue to look to governments, convinced that our problems are one of political choice and/or mismanagement/corruption/ineptitude/religious belief—you name it.
          Proof of that is extant right now—with Trump suddenly digging out his mom’s bible to wave around, promising to “make America great again”—with millions prepared to vote for just that fantasy, while he blames the nation’s woes on ‘other people’. If you think you’ve heard that before, google Hitler’s election in 1933. Trump is repeating Hitler’s mantra almost word for word. They thought Hitler was a buffoon as well.
          That being the case, and I feel certain that it will be, the majority will be dead before any “grow your own” organic food harvest could be brought in, certainly before the second harvest, if there is one. Because no political solution will be proof against privation.
          Trump and those of his ilk may see money as a proofing factor, but money is merely an energy token that can only exist within an energy driven society,
          When the energy system collapses, money has no value.
          Food production on a living scale is a lifetime skill—not something you can just decide to do because the supermarket shelves are getting bare more often..
          As others have pointed out on here–farming/serious gardening is tough enough, without defending what you have against the have nots. The society we bemoan is held together entirely by surplus energy, not the goodwill of humankind.
          the infrastructure we call modern civilisation is like riding a bike, if you slow down you can find yourself with balance problems. stop and you go head first into a ditch.

  35. MG says:

    The growth of the energy consumption is stepwise, each step is the limit of the given energy source that must be overcome by some another, cheaper and more abundant energy source:

    1. the wood-based economy (untill the end of the Middle Ages)
    2. the coal-based economy (untill WW1, Great Depression and WW2)
    3. the oil-based economy (untill 70s)
    4. the natural gas-based economy
    5. the nuclear-based economy
    6. the solar-, wind-, geothermal-based etc. economy

    The use of natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal etc. came after the oil-based economy has reached its peak, i.e. the limits of oil started to be felt, i. e. we could say, that the era after the oil-based economy is characterized by the PLURALITY OF ENERGY SOURCES.

    We alread live in the post-oil and post-fossil fuel era, but we do not fully realize it yet.

    • Ert says:

      The problem is, that the Net-EROI from Wind/PV is lower than 2/3/4 & 5, so it can never replace those in energy-terms supporting a large complex society with we currently have.

  36. Yoshua says:

    Who would have thought that the end of cheap oil would lead to a collapse of the oil producers ? The rise in oil production costs has made the oil business extremely volatile and sensitive to fluctuations in the oil price… especially to a collapse in the oil price. The higher the production cost is, the more volatile the business becomes.

  37. richard says:

    So, it’s not only about oil. While I’m watching grain based food prices invreasing …
    “Farm sector debt soared past $364 billion last year and is forecast at over $372 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – levels not seen since 1984. The USDA also predicts net farm incomes will fall for a third year in a row to $54.8 billion, down 56 percent from 2013’s peak.

    Demand for loans has been rising for 11 consecutive quarters but repayment rates are falling. A survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago showed repayment rates at the end of 2015 at their lowest since early 1999.

    The volume of the farm loan portfolio with “major” or “severe” repayment problems was 5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 2.9 percent a year earlier.”

  38. Don B says:

    There is an option which could eliminate the possibility of global warming, a nuclear exchange between the superpowers. Years ago I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by the late Carl Sagen. He was addressing students and faculty at the AF Academy of the dangers of a nuclear winter brought on by such an exchange. I recall that it would only take about 100 atomic bursts to induce a yearlong winter in the N. hemishere. That number has probably been modified over the years. Something else to worry about as ZH reports that there haven’t been so many troops amassed along the Russian border since the Germans tried invading Russia in WWII.

    • Don B says:

      What a great presentation Dr Sagen gave in 1982. You know, he never once said the word ‘billions’, preferring instead to say 10 to the 9th. Older readers may recall that Sagen had a characteristic way of saying billions.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      What about a series of bunker busting nukes into the Yellowstone Caldera?

  39. Don B says:

    Vince The Prince

    Some would argue that our carbon budget is already overdrawn If we stopped burning all fossil fuels today, global average temperature will continue to increase until equilibrium is reached – somewhere around +4°-5°C, possibly as soon as mid-century. This is baked in no matter what we do.

    It’s possible that our carbon contribution is almost irrelevant at this point due to methane releases increasing as the Arctic permafrost thaws and the Arctic sea temperature increases releasing methane clathrates, sometimes referred to as the clathrate gun.

    Once collapse occurs this year or early next, global dimming from industrial sulphites will reduce as all that ‘dreck’ settles out. In a way, BAU is geoenginnering a cooler climate because of atmospheric polution. The potential exists for a 1°C rise in global average temperatures within weeks.

    Don B

    • Don B says:

      Another thing important to point out is that +2C is not a scientifically established safe limit for average global temperature increases. Climate scientists suggest that .5°C was the safe limit. That ship has sailed years ago and will never return over the course of human timescales. +2C was pulled out of thin air by an economist, not a scientist, well, specifically William Nordhouse.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Thanks, I no longer debate the details …to be frank, been there and done that too many times. As a matter of fact, Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone comment drew over 14,000 comments! Sad to report many were between myself and a WattsUpWithThat troopie by the name of Evan Jones. Let’s just say the hand writing is on the wall as we speed 120 mph towards it.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “Some would argue that our carbon budget is already overdrawn If we stopped burning all fossil fuels today, global average temperature will continue to increase until equilibrium is reached – somewhere around +4°-5°C, possibly as soon as mid-century. This is baked in no matter what we do.”

      Good for you Don B. for understanding thermal inertia, the 30-40 year delay between CO2 emissions going into the atmosphere and the time it takes for the oceans to absorb the additional thermal energy and influence the world’s weather.

      That whole 2C bit drives me nuts because it’s juvenile and reckless like some kid giving himself a bigger allowance to eat more junk food even after the Dr. told him he was in danger of contracting type II diabetes.

      Don B., have you looked at the arctic ice graphs lately? Right now ice in the arctic is reaching it’s maximum, but if you look at the graph it’s the lowest ever, period. Not only that but instead of continuing to rise to a peak, it’s cutting horizontally across the graph. Ice should still be building until the end of first week in March, but it stopped after the first week of February. Now it may still make a small turnaround and build a bit more, bit it doesn’t have much more time. Chances are ripe to start this melt season at the lowest ever and see how low it goes. There is no guarantee of what will happen, but this is the height of the El Nino which is bringing in warm water from the Pacific and warm water is moving in from the Atlantic under the ice. This could be a summer melt that will go into the record books. In 2007 & 2012 set new minimum records, so one may think the next minimum may take place in 2017, however with El Nino and what’s happening in the Atlantic it’s probably most likely to occur this year. Plus everything keeps speeding up and happening faster, so that points to this year as well. Be real thankful if a new record is set but the ESAS (eastern Siberian arctic seaboard) doesn’t give up it’s methane. It’s been destabilizing and one big bad jolt could send that stuff skyward. Just the ESAS alone has enough methane to equal all the carbon humankind has sent up since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

      Don B., I’ve often wondered if our untenable financial situation was dovetailing with global warming, I.e. the timing of which would mean both would simultaneously crescendo near or at the same time. 2016 looks like a harbinger of some possibly really ugly financial situations developing while the Arctic may set a record minimum. But even if we somehow get through 2016, 2017 could be the year of simultaneous dire dovetailing. Or it may go like you suggest with a financial debacle followed by less dimming and off we go into runaway warming. Anyways, it’s a fascinating and extremely dangerous set of unscripted tests that are being conducted.

      • Don B says:


        You are probably already aware of this website, but I’ll post a link for readers who might be interested:

        When you look at the forecasted temperature anaomolies expected in the Arctic over the course of this week, you quickly see that it’s a blast furnace up there right now. Arctic sea ice extent is already starting down and will likely continue to do so this week. It looks to be a month or so ahead of schedule. The Navy predicted that 2016 might be the first blue water event for Tha Arctic ocean. It looks like they might be right.

        Stilgar, people don’t understand that Arctic ice is the air conditioner for the N hemisphere. One day soon it will become too warm up there for the ice to refreeze appreciably. Then watch as the land masses break record heat temperatures.

        Don B

        • Vince the Prince says:

          Saw this and this explains a lot

          But in the 20th century the world’s seas rose 5.5 inches (14 centimeters). Since 1993 the rate has soared to a foot per century (30 centimeters). And two different studies published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said by 2100 that the world’s oceans will rise between 11 to 52 inches (28 to 131 centimeters), depending on how much heat-trapping gas Earth’s industries and vehicles expel.

          “There’s no question that the 20th century is the fastest,” said Rutgers earth and planetary sciences professor Bob Kopp, lead author of the study that looked back at sea levels over the past three millennia. “It’s because of the temperature increase in the 20th century which has been driven by fossil fuel use.

      • Don B says:

        Stilgar, I sent a reply, but it must be held up in customs. Anyway, check out this link for information on Arctic temperature anomaly forecasts:

        Don B

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Thanks for the link – I’ll ck. it out. I’ve also had posts sometimes get lost in limbo, so what I do now is once it’s completed, I copy it – wait and see if it posts – if it doesn’t I’ve got it to paste in later and try again. By the way, I’d refer to you as Don, but there’s also Don S.

  40. Vince the Prince says:

    I like the author Bill McKibben and joined his and know the other half of the issue with fossil fuels. Gail is right, we are in deep poo poo
    The deepest problem is Exxon’s business plan. The company spends huge amounts of money searching for new hydrocarbons. Given the recent plunge in oil prices, its capital spending and exploration budget was indeed cut by 12 percent in 2015 to $34 billion and another 25 percent in 2016 to $23.2 billion. In 2015, that meant Exxon was spending $63 million a day “as it continues to bring new projects on line.” They are still spending a cool $1.57 billion a year looking for new sources of hydrocarbons—$4 million a day, every day…….
    , you say, that’s what oil companies do, go find new oil, right? Unfortunately, that’s precisely what we can’t have them doing any more. About a decade ago, scientists first began figuring out a “carbon budget” for the planet—an estimate for how much more carbon we could burn before we completely overheated the Earth. There are potentially many thousands of gigatons of carbon that could be extracted from the planet if we keep exploring. The fossil fuel industry has already identified at least 5,000 gigatons of carbon that it has told regulators, shareholders and banks it plans to extract. However, we can only burn about another 900 gigatons of carbon before we disastrously overheat the planet. On our current trajectory, we’d burn through that “budget” in about a couple of decades. The carbon we’ve burned has already raised the planet’s temperature a degree Celsius and on our present course we’ll burn enough to take us past two degrees in less than 20 years……….
    Exxon’s insistence on finding and producing ever more fossil fuels certainly benefited its shareholders for a time, even if it cost the Earth dearly. Five of the 10 largest annual profits ever reported by any company belonged to Exxon in these years. Even the financial argument is now, however, weakening. Over the last five years, Exxon has lagged behind many of its competitors as well as the broader market and a big reason, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI), is its heavy investment in particularly expensive, hard-to-recover oil and gas.

    This is edited and is along article, McKibben has a right to be upset. After all he does know his climate science physics.

  41. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders

    Gail and Kunstler think we may not make it to 2017. BW Hill agrees that they may be right, but says his models indicate that we might make it for another 3 or 4 years. Al Gore, in a TED talk today, says ‘we are winning’ the struggle to replace fossil fuels with renewables Meanwhile, back in my little world, I fuss around with gardening. I do try to keep some surplus seed, but planting and tending make me optimistic….all those feel good hormones.

    Eric Toensmeier’s new book The Carbon Farming Solution arrived today. Of course I haven’t studied it closely as yet, but it looks pretty good to me. I recommend it to those who want to know what we might do about too much carbon in the air and too little in the soil.

    He identifies lots or opportunities in the tropics, fewer in the Temperate Zones, but still lots to keep us busy. Eric married a girl from Guatemala, and he has spent considerable time in the tropics, as well as their home in Massachusetts.

    He quotes: Homegardens have been characterized by leading agroforestry scientist P.K. Nair as ‘the epitome of sustainability’…In some cases carbon sequestration in home gardens is as good as or better than that of natural forests….Homegardens resemble young secondary forests in structure and biomass accumulation and may be considered as a human-made forest with considerable productive potential.’

    Eric notes that Nair is talking about tropical, multi-layered gardens which are predominately perennials with many woody plants. Eric says he is acutely aware of the opportunities and limitations of cold-climate home gardens, since he has one in Massachusetts….he needs more domesticated perennials.

    Eric notes that it takes a few years to get a perennial garden or farm into good production. I assume he is thinking about government financial support for farmers during that time.

    Dr. Hans Herren wrote the Foreword. He says ‘the main driver for a transformation toward carbon farming will come from the demand side, both for a climate change reversal and for quality and nutritious food.’

    Eric quotes a figure from China: home gardens outyield farms by 6 to 1, financially. I am sure that is because home gardens specialize in the most expensive to buy crops…such as fresh leafy greens.

    By the way, Al Gore mentioned in his talk the crucial role of getting the carbon out of food. Toensmeier says that gardening methods have to be low carbon, which is another way of looking at the same thing.

    So where does this leave us? I keep coming up with the same answer: gardening. Especially for those in the tropics. For example, somebody has looked at the numbers on firewood in Africa. Those women who have a farm with a woodlot spend 36 hours per year harvesting firewood. Those who don’t have their own woodlot spend 130 hours per year looking for firewood.

    To make the conversion from Iowa cornfields to sustainable carbon farms would be a herculanean task. Eric thinks it is urgent to get started right now and do it quickly because the climate changes are beginning to unravel any advances we might make. On the other hand, in the Philippines , 70 percent of households have their own home garden. The Philippines will have a much easier transition than the US.

    Much detail on specific plants…but not a detailed horticultural handbook. Will reward serious study.

    Don Stewart
    PS Recently I identified the question of the potential for Carbon Farming as a key issue. Eric says that Carbon Farming can’t save us from the effects of continued burning of fossil fuels, but Carbon Farming is essential to let us get the carbon down while we are rapidly phasing out the fossil fuels. I imagine Al Gore would be pleased. Tverberg, Kunstler, and Hill would think that worries about continued burning of fossil fuels are ridiculous. But the other side of the coin is that more carbon in the soil is essential if we hope to feed ourselves post collapse. Either way, gardening makes sense.

  42. Fast Eddy says:

    Mining Giant BHP Billiton Slashes Dividend By 75% On 92% Profit Plunge, Announces $4.9 Billion Shale Writedown

  43. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Gail and All
    Relative to BW Hill and the Etp model, here is an exchange on the Peak Oil blog:

    “Things will happen fast this summer, and by things I mean crude oil price increases.”

    Hill’s Response:
    Prices are now range bound (see graph above). Prices could go up some, but they will not be enough to compensate for the $2.3 trillion per year in revenue that producers have lost since June of 2014. The days of profitable production are over; never to return! It would take almost 5 mb/d to raise prices by $30. Anything over $30 creates more demand destruction than it creates revenue. It sets a limit to the price.

    My comment: If it does turn out that the price tries to go up toward 100 dollars, and demand destruction creates continued losses for the oil companies, it will spectacularly verify the Etp model. If prices go up to 100 dollars and there is no demand destruction and the oil companies flourish…then the Etp model will have had its 30 seconds of fame.

    (I think the arithmetic is 30 dollars more than the 30 dollars or so it is now, since his ‘maximum price’ curve is at 66 dollars in 2016.)

    Don Stewart

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Need not to be concerned…the credit card limit has just been extended until 2019

      China’s Debt Seen Rising Through 2019, Peaking at 283% of GDP

      China’s ratio of debt to its economic size is seen climbing for at least another four years, underscoring the risks facing policy makers as they strive to prevent a deeper slowdown without triggering a credit blowout.
      Seven out of 12 economists see the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio increasing through at least 2019, with four expecting a peak in 2020 or later, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Debt will peak at 283 percent of GDP, according to the median estimate of eight economists.
      Its almost impossible to identify a specific debt-to-GDP level or time period that will “tip” the Chinese economy into a financial crisis, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s investment management division said in a January report. Comparing the magnitude and pace of the increase in China’s debt-to-GDP ratio to those of other countries, it concluded China’s increase is among the highest in recent history.
      “Every major country with a rapid increase in debt has experienced either a financial
      crisis or a prolonged slowdown in GDP growth,” wrote analysts led by New York-based chief investment officer Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani and Hong Kong-based investment strategist Ha Jiming. “History suggests that China will face the same fate.”
      “If China chooses the zombie bank/company mop up and prop up strategy, they will slow not only productivity but current and potential GDP,” said Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG LLP in New York. “If they choose instead to take the heretofore unrecognized bad debts of the state-owned banks on the government balance sheet, a la Ireland, they will increase government debt but they won’t have zombie banks and they are more likely to see a robust recovery.”

      The “experts” have spoken….no problem…Goldman Saks says so…

      • Don Stewart says:

        Vince the Prince
        There is much I don’t know about Chinese debt. The central government debt is about half what the US federal government debt is relative to GDP. How the private debt stacks up, I don’t know.

        20 years ago I hosted a delegation from China. They surprised me by revealing how weak the central government was. They could not just order the provinces to do something. They cajoled and tried to persuade. Mao had been a decentralizer, and the central government people were relatively helpless. My understanding is that many of the provinces went crazy on the debt…building ghost cities and such. So far as I know, the central government has not adopted the provincial debts.

        So it is possible that the central government might swallow a lot of debt from private companies and from the provinces. What happens if they just let the provinces default? Like Puerto Rico wants to do?

        The situation is somewhat similar to what the commodity companies face. The commodities markets boomed because of Chinese demand which was growing rapidly because, among other things, European and US and Japanese debt was increasing rapidly and those countries could afford to import. Then it all ground to a pretty sudden halt. And the commodity companies have written off lots of assets.

        Much speculating about how defaults might affect the financial system. Steen Jakobsen didn’t seem very worried about the European banks in his interview with Chris Martenson. He even had some explanation for why the Italian banks are not as bad off as they seem to an outsider. I for sure don’t know.

        Don Stewart

        • Vince the Prince says:

          You are probably the only one with an honest answer….I don’t know. The obvious thing is Don the course of action ahead is piling on more and more debt…..we are indeed getting poorer and poorer.
          Thank you for your reply…my sense this will continue until it implodes

      • ejhr2015 says:

        The second option is definitely the way to go. By buying the debts off the troubled banks, which in central bank terms is merely numbers in accounts the BoC can eliminate the problem without effect on the economy. It has no cost to the central bank or taxpayers, so the risk of bank default is less and the public untroubled. China is only going to have a crisis in other person’s terms, not theirs.

        Whatever keeps the party safe has top priority and second and third etc priority.

        Eventually of course as we recognise in this blog it will become unsustainable. But all systems go until then!

  44. Pingback: The Physics of Energy and the Economy | Useful ...

  45. Rodster says:

    Gail was right !

    “As U.S. shale sinks, pipeline fight sends woes downstream”
    Two low-profile legal disputes may determine whether an expected wave of bankruptcies hitting U.S. oil and gas producers will spill over to the $500 billion pipeline sector as well.

  46. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Here is an interview that some of you might like. Chris Martenson talks to Steen Jakobsen from Saxo Bank. Free…not behind a pay wall. Few quotes:

    Credit is now 4X assets
    Actual interest rates are increasing, no matter what the Central Banks do
    We have the stupidest generation ever and we are so unproductive we can’t possibly get worse
    We have the worst crop of politicians ever
    The social fabric is giving up
    Free cash flow has been negative for the last 18 months
    We need a forest fire to burn away the underbrush

    Now for the disconnect (to my mind):
    He thinks the miners and oil are undervalued.
    Any company involved in infrastructure is likely to do well over the next 10 years

    My own personal reaction to his list of everything that is wrong leads me to want to take my money and hide it under a tree somewhere. Yet, after giving us the litany, he recommends investing in equities.

    Take a listen and make up your own mind…Don Stewart

    • Credit is close to 4 times GDP. But GDP is not assets.

      For the US, total debt at the end of the second quarter of 2015 was 62.5 trillion.

      US GDP 18.1 trillion, as of the fourth quarter of 2015.

      I expect that there is more than one way of counting assets. If we believe Wikipedia, US assets amounted to $269.6 trillion as of Q1 2014.

      • Don Stewart says:

        I don’t know how Jakobsen was defining assets. One way to define assets is as something that someone owes you. Another way is the value of the things you would turn over to the court in case of a bankruptcy. Recently, several oil companies have gone bankrupt and their supposed assets sold for 15 cents on the dollar. So the oil companies may have had obligations of 100 dollars (which count as someone’s ‘assets’), but they turn over only real assets to the court with a book value of 20 dollars, and the assets are sold on the courthouse steps for 3 dollars.

        This is back to the old ‘musical chairs’ analogy that Nicole Foss was fond of using. There are way more promises than ability to keep the promises.

        Or…maybe Jakobsen just got his facts wrong….or I heard him wrong.
        Don Stewart

        • I looked back at the transcript, and he does, in fact, use the word assets.

          Maybe Jakobson missed an important point:

          The value of assets at, say, the end of 2016 is not equal to (the value of assets at the end of 2015) + (GDP for 2016).

          Instead, the value of assets at the end of 2016 depends on what those assets are worth to prospective buyers at the end of 2016. That value may be very different from the previous year’s valuation, plus an increment for new value added through GDP activity. When it becomes clear that shale property is no longer productive, the value of the land drops to its worth as farmland.

          One reason why the value of assets tends to be high relative to debt is because there has been a whole lot of inflation in the last 100 years.

  47. Jeremy says:

    I was listening to this old song on YouTube last night:

    and the lyrics got me thinking about “Peak Oil”. I’ll explain why, but let’s skip the first two lines, which are a bit weird:

    – Bashee-playing magician sitting lotus on the floor [WHAT’S A BASHEE?]
    – Belly-dancing beauty with a power-driven saw

    But then:

    – Had my share of nightmares, didn’t think there could be much more
    – Then in walked Roderick Usher with the Lady Eleanor

    References to Edgar Allan Poe, of course. But then Peak Oil is a bit spooky, isn’t it?

    And now I’m thinking back to 2004, when I first read LATOC: the defunct website known as “Life After The Oil Crash” – with its SEDUCTIVE logic. So let’s use “Lady Eleanor” as an analogy for that seductiveness:

    – She tied my eyes with the ribbon of a silken ghostly thread
    – I gazed with trouble vision on an old four-poster bed
    – Where Eleanor had risen to kiss the neck below my head
    – And bid me come along with her to the land of the dancing dead

    And I’m thinking. about LATOC/Eleanor, yes, the Peak Oil logic is seductive, but most of us WOULD die, you see – and I don’t really want to, so I reply:

    – But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
    – All right, Lady Eleanor
    – I’m all right where I am

    Because where I am is in BAU, and maybe it can’t/won’t last, but it has its comforts, you see, and I want to believe in it. So, that was 2004. Oil was at $40 per barrel. I pondered the logic then re-entered the consensus trance. Then came 2005 – oil reach $50. 2006 – oil reached $60. Subtract 2000 from the year and multiply the result by 10. So here comes 2007 and the formula works: oil reaches $70. But wait a minute – it’s still 2007, and oil reaches $80; $90; then $100 – it’s impossible! But it keeps going, and it’s still 2007: $110; $120; $130; and it’s not finished yet: $140. Surely it can’t go higher? Just a bit – it finishes at $147, and it’s still 2007. So what does Lady Eleanor say?

    – She gazed with loving beauty like a mother to a son
    – Like living, dying, seeing, being all rolled into one
    – Then all at once I heard some music playing in my bones
    – The same old song I’d heard for years, reminding me of home

    Yes, that old song – of zooming oil prices – where had I heard it before? But still I don’t want to believe – surely I’m dreaming? So I reply:

    – But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
    – All right, Lady Eleanor
    – I’m all right where I am

    And I was right to do so, because the price collapsed. BAU had returned. The bad dream was gone. But come 2010, the bad dream came back, and Eleanor spat her contempt at my answer – that “I’m all right where I am”:

    – Then creeping on towards me, licking lips with tongues of fire –
    – A host of golden demons, screaming lust and base desire.
    – And when it seemed for certain that their screams could get no higher
    – I heard a voice above the rest – screaming: ‘You’re a liar ! ‘

    And I realised the truth of her seductive logic. I realised she was right:

    – But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
    – All right, Lady Eleanor
    – I’m all right – here in your arms…

    And I wait. In paralysed dread and trepidation, I wait… And that’s what it feels like to be a convinced doomster.

    • Jeremy says:

      My memory is a bit out, of course – oil reached $147 in 2008.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      “In paralysed dread and trepidation, I wait… And that’s what it feels like to be a convinced doomster.”

      The state of mind to achieve is a challenge, but it’s where you know what’s coming down the pike isn’t good, in fact it will be an avalanche of worsening circumstances, but nonetheless you take time stop to smell the roses, breath in fresh air and live life for all it has to offer for the remaining time available.

      • Jeremy says:

        “nonetheless you take time stop to smell the roses, breath in fresh air and live life for all it has to offer for the remaining time available.”

        True, and very important. Last week I was looking up “ebony flower” (national flower of St Helena) on Google images. My screen filled up with thumbnail images of flowers, and suddenly my nostrils were full of the pungent smell of petals, such that I had to stand up and move away from the screen. I laughed at this strange trick of my brain, which had obviously thought, “If you’re seeing all those flowers, they must surely be giving off a scent”. 🙂 So even the unnatural hi-tech world of the internet can delight with its little surprises.

  48. hkeithhenson says:

    “Keith. You are insane”

    I have lots of company then. For example, the crew of professors and grad students who are using up the $18 million of power satellite study money that Northrop Grumman gave as a grant to CalTech about a year ago.

    Meanwhile, you can’t or won’t answer why you think power satellites are physically impossible. Or even what your educational background is.

    “pollute FW”

    At least I don’t copy/paste an old wikipedia article several times.

    • surely a dissipative system can be summed up in a single word


      • Nemisis2 says:

        My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
        My my, hey hey
        Rock and roll is here to stay
        It’s better to burn out
        Than to fade away
        My my, hey hey.

        Out of the blue
        and into the black
        They give you this,
        but you pay for that
        And once you’re gone,
        you can never come back
        When you’re out of the blue
        and into the black.

        The king is gone
        but he’s not forgotten
        This is the story
        of a Johnny Rotten
        It’s better to burn out
        than it is to rust
        The king is gone
        but he’s not forgotten.

        Hey hey, my my
        Rock and roll can never die
        There’s more to the picture
        Than meets the eye.
        Hey hey, my my.

        • Nemisis2 says:

          Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
          Hey hey, my my
          Rock and roll can never die
          There’s more to the picture
          Than meets the eye.
          Hey hey, my my.

          Out of the blue and into the black
          You pay for this, but they give you that
          And once you’re gone, you can’t come back
          When you’re out of the blue and into the black.

          The king is gone but he’s not forgotten
          Is this the story of johnny rotten?
          It’s better to burn out ’cause rust never sleeps
          The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.

          Hey hey, my my
          Rock and roll can never die
          There’s more to the picture
          Than meets the eye.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            There’s something to be said for burning out rather than fading away…. I take back my with to keep BAU going another 30 decades so I can hit 78….