Why Globalization Reaches Limits

We have been living in a world of rapid globalization, but this is not a condition that we can expect to continue indefinitely.

Figure 1. Ratio of Imported Goods and Services to GDP. Based in FRED data for IMPGS.

Figure 1. Ratio of Imported Goods and Services to GDP. Based in FRED data for IMPGS.

Each time imported goods and services start to surge as a percentage of GDP, these imports seem to be cut back, generally in a recession. The rising cost of the imports seems to have an adverse impact on the economy. (The imports I am showing are gross imports, rather than imports net of exports. I am using gross imports, because US exports tend to be of a different nature than US imports. US imports include many labor-intensive products, while exports tend to be goods such as agricultural goods and movie films that do not require much US labor.)

Recently, US imports seem to be down. Part of this reflects the impact of surging US oil production, and because of this, a declining need for oil imports. Figure 2 shows the impact of removing oil imports from the amounts shown on Figure 1.

Figure 2. Total US Imports of Goods and Services, and this total excluding crude oil imports, both as a ratio to GDP. Crude oil imports from https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/historical/petr.pdf

Figure 2. Total US Imports of Goods and Services, and this total excluding crude oil imports, both as a ratio to GDP. Crude oil imports from https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/historical/petr.pdf

If we look at the years from 2008 to the present, there was clearly a big dip in imports at the time of the Great Recession. Apart from that dip, US imports have barely kept up with GDP growth since 2008.

Let’s think about the situation from the point of view of developing nations, wanting to increase the amount of goods they sell to the US. As long as US imports were growing rapidly, then the demand for the goods and services these developing nations were trying to sell would be growing rapidly. But once US imports flattened out as a percentage of GDP, then it became much harder for developing nations to “grow” their exports to the US.

I have not done an extensive analysis outside the US, but based on the recent slow economic growth patterns for Japan and Europe, I would expect that import growth for these areas to be slowing as well. In fact, data from the World Trade Organization for Japan, France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom seem to show a recent slowdown in imported goods for these countries as well.

If this lack of demand growth by a number of industrialized countries continues, it will tend to seriously slow export growth for developing countries.

Where Does Demand for Imports Come From?

Many of the goods and services we import have an adverse impact on US wages. For example, if we import clothing, toys, and furniture, these imports directly remove US jobs making similar goods here. Similarly, programming jobs and call center jobs outsourced to lower cost nations reduce the number of jobs available in the US. When US oil prices rose in the 1970s, we started importing compact cars from Japan. Substituting Japanese-made cars for American-made cars also led to a loss of US jobs.

Even if a job isn’t directly lost, the competition with low wage nations tends to hold down wages. Over time, US wages have tended to fall as a percentage of GDP.

Figure 3. Ratio of US Wages and Salaries to GDP, based on information of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Figure 3. Ratio of US Wages and Salaries to GDP, based on information of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Another phenomenon that has tended to occur is greater disparity of wages. Partly this disparity represents wage pressure on individuals doing jobs that could easily be outsourced to a lower-wage country. Also, executive salaries tend to rise, as companies become more international in scope. As a result, earnings for the top 10% have tended to increase since 1981, while wages for the bottom 90% have stagnated.

Figure 4. Chart by economist Emmanuel Saez based on an analysis IRS data, published in Forbes.

Figure 4. Chart by economist Emmanuel Saez based on an analysis of IRS data, published in Forbes. “Real income” is inflation-adjusted income.

If wages of most workers are lagging behind, how is it possible to afford increased imports? I would argue that what has happened in practice is greater and greater use of debt. If wages of American workers had been rising rapidly, perhaps these higher wages could have enabled workers to afford the increased quantity of imported goods. With wages lagging behind, growing debt has been used as a way of affording imported goods and services.

Inasmuch as the US dollar was the world’s reserve currency, this increase in debt did not have a seriously adverse impact on the economy. In fact, back when oil prices were higher than they are today, petrodollar recycling helped maintain demand for US Treasuries as the US borrowed increasing amounts of money to purchase oil and other goods. This process helped keep borrowing costs low for the US.

Figure 5. US Increase in Debt as Ratio to GDP and US imports as Ratio to GDP. Both from FRED data: TSMDO and IMPGS.

Figure 5. US Increase in Debt as Ratio to GDP and US imports as Ratio to GDP. Both from FRED data: TSMDO and IMPGS.

The problem, however, is that at some point it becomes impossible to raise the debt level further. The ratio of debt to GDP becomes unmanageable. Consumers, because their wages have been held down by competition with wages around the world, cannot afford to keep adding more debt. Businesses find that slow wage growth in the US holds down demand. Because of this slow growth in the demand, businesses don’t need much additional debt to expand their businesses either.

Commodity Prices Are Extremely Sensitive to Lack of Demand

Commodities, by their nature, are things we use a lot of. It is usually difficult to store very much of these commodities. As a result, it is easy for supply and demand to get out of balance. Because of this, prices swing widely.

Demand is really a measure of affordability. If wages are lagging behind, then an increase in debt (for example, to buy a new house or a new car) can substitute for a lack of savings from wages. Unfortunately, such increases in debt have not been happening recently. We saw in Figure 5, above, that recent growth in US debt is lagging behind. If very many countries find themselves with wages rising slowly, and debt is not rising much either, then it is easy for commodity demand to fall behind supply. In such a case, prices of commodities will tend to fall behind the cost of production–exactly the problem the world has been experiencing recently. The problem started as early as 2012, but has been especially bad in the past year.

The way the governments of several countries have tried to fix stagnating economic growth is through a program called Quantitative Easing (QE). This program produces very low interest rates. Unfortunately, QE doesn’t really work as intended for commodities. QE tends to increase the supply of commodities, but it does not increase the demand for commodities.

The reason QE increases the supply of commodities is because yield-starved investors are willing to pour large amounts of capital into projects, in the hope that commodity prices will rise high enough that investments will be profitable–in other words, that investments in shares of stock will be profitable and also that debt can be repaid with interest. A major example of this push for production after QE started in 2008 is the rapid growth in US “liquids” production, thanks in large part to extraction from shale formations.

Figure 6. US oil and other liquids production, based on EIA data. Available data is through November, but amount shown is estimate of full year.

Figure 6. US oil and other liquids production, based on EIA data. Available data is through November, but amount shown is estimate of full year.

As we saw in Figure 5, the ultra-low interest rates have not been successful in encouraging new debt in general. These low rates also haven’t been successful in increasing US capital expenditures (Figure 7). In fact, even with all of the recent shale investment, capital investment remains low relative to what we would expect based on past investment patterns.

Figure 7. US Fixed Investment (Factories, Equipment, Schools, Roads) Excluding Consumer Durables as Ratio to GDP, based in US Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Figure 7. US Fixed Investment (Factories, Equipment, Schools, Roads) Excluding Consumer Durables as Ratio to GDP, based on US Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Instead, the low wages that result from globalization, without huge increases in debt, make it difficult to keep commodity prices up high enough. Workers, with low wages, delay starting their own households, so they have no need for a separate apartment or house. They may also be able to share a vehicle with other family members. Because of the mismatch between supply and demand, commodity prices of many kinds have been falling. Oil prices, shown on Figure 9, have been down, but prices for coal, natural gas, and LNG are also down. Oil supply is up a little on a world basis, but not by an amount that would have been difficult to absorb in the 1960s and 1970s, when prices were much lower.

Figure 9. World oil production and price. Production is based on BP, plus author's estimate for 2016. Historical oil prices are calculated based on a higher than usual recent inflation rate, assuming Shadowstats' view of inflation is correct.

Figure 9. World oil production and price. Production is based on BP, plus author’s estimate for 2016. Historical oil prices are calculated based on a higher than usual recent inflation rate, assuming Shadowstats’ view of inflation is correct.

Developing Countries Are Often Commodity Exporters 

Developing countries can be greatly affected if commodity prices are low, because they are often commodity exporters. One problem is obviously the cutback in wages, if it becomes necessary to reduce commodity production.  A second problem relates to the tax revenue that these exports generate. Without this revenue, it is often necessary to cut back funding for programs such as building roads and schools. This leads to even more job loss elsewhere in the economy. The combination of wage loss and tax loss may make it difficult to repay loans.

Obviously, if low commodity prices persist, this is another limit to globalization.


We have identified two different limits to globalization. One of them has to do with limits on the amount of goods and services that developed countries can absorb before those imports unduly disrupt local economies, either through job loss, or through more need for debt than the developed economies can handle. The other occurs because of the sensitivity of many developing nations to low commodity prices, because they are exporters of these commodities.

Of course, there are other issues as well. China has discovered that if its coal is burned in great quantity, it is very polluting and a problem for this reason. China has begun to reduce its coal consumption, partly because of pollution issues.

Figure 10. China's energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 10. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

There are many other limiting factors. Fresh water is a major problem, throughout much of the developing world. Adding more people and more industry makes the situation worse.

One problem with globalization is a long-term tendency to move manufacturing production to countries with ever-lower standards in many ways: ever-lower pollution controls, ever-lower safety standards for workers, and ever-lower wages and benefits for workers. This means that the world becomes an ever-worse place to work and live, and the workers in the system become less and less able to afford the output of the system. The lack of buyers for the output of the system makes it increasingly difficult to keep prices of commodities high enough to support their continued production.

The logical end point, even beyond globalization, is for automation and robots to perform nearly all production. Of course, if that happens, there will be no one to buy the output of the system. Won’t that be a problem?

Adequate wages are critical to making any system work. As the system has tended increasingly toward globalization, politicians have tended to focus more and more on the needs of businesses and governments, and less on the needs of workers. At some point, the lack of buyers for the output of the system will tend to bring the whole system down.

Thus, at some point, the trend toward globalization and automation must stop. We need buyers for the output from the system, and this is precisely the opposite of the direction in which the system is trending. If a way is not found to fix the system, it will ultimately collapse. At a minimum, the trend toward increasing imports will end–if it hasn’t already.



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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1,263 Responses to Why Globalization Reaches Limits

  1. “We have been living in a world of rapid globalization, but this is not a condition that we can expect to continue indefinitely.”

    Is it so? Well, in that case there may be hope after all…

  2. Fast Eddy says:


    The perfect gift for someone who wastes their day watching dancing with stars and facebooking 🙂

  3. Fast Eddy says:

    So did the G-20 decide that coordinated buying of crude oil was “unequivocally good” for the world’s stock markets?


    Next time you are thinking that nobody is pulling levers and pushing buttons to keep BAU alive as long as possible… to stave off a deflationary collapse for as long as possible…. to keep commodity producers and the financial system from collapsing for as long as possible….

    Remember the image above.

    That is one hell of a bit of desperation you are looking at there…..

    • Is it the G-20, or is it the banks trying to create a short squeeze, orchestrated by banks. With higher prices, more people may be willing to buy shares of stock, so banks won’t be on the hook for as much debt.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        The trouble with the response in 08/09 to the near global economic collapse with multiple QE’s around the world, trillions in loans, Zirp, Nirp, currency wars, Operation Twist, cash for clunkers, is that type of mentality and willingness to tweak financial systems is, it opens a Pandora’s box of very unusual and risky fiscal follies to benefit from the wealthiest in the short term without taking into consideration the underlying cause of the predicament (declining net energy).

        Now there is talk in some countries of a guaranteed income, of QE4P (P meaning the People), a cashless society to avoid runs on the banks. It’s a very problematic direction to go because once started its near impossible to stop, because that box has been opened and now the world economy is reliant on whatever the next fiscal juice is to maintain BAU.

        Once TPTB try to shut the box or just wait for the dam to burst, the natural reaction will be crashing stock markets, rising interest rates and defaults, dogs sleeping with cats, fire and brimstone, 40 days and 40 nights, well you get the picture, a Leaman Bros. moment of disastrous chain reactions and no CB tactic will stop the dam from bursting.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        No doubt a coordinated effort — the G20 recently met in Shanghai….

    • Stefeun says:

      Yes FE, thanks for this stunning chart.
      So Gail could finally be right (wouldn’t be the first time), suggesting that the storage capacities would have the last word?

  4. B9K9 says:

    Paul asks “If the Elders want to collapse Russia by forcing commodity prices down then a) why are they only trying this now and b) why are commodity prices spiking upwards at the moment?”

    With respect to B, I’ve frequently mentioned that I don’t follow daily financial activity. So much of it is just an insider’s game, shaving points, driving the market, managing sentiment, etc. In other words, just as every field has their expertise, so do the trading markets reward savants who can manipulate short-term effects for financial gain.

    As to A, well, we’re both in agreement: the zio-cons are pursuing the Russian gambit now because it’s our last card. Everything has been tried to date except that great stand-by to re-set the entire chess board: global war between super-states. The nit of course is the nuclear element, which is why we have to collapse the Russian economy from within in order for them to reject their current political posture and anti-Western globalist sentiment.

    If we’re able to effect this change, then there will be sufficient leeway to re-normalize financial parameters by either selectively defaulting and/or devaluing the debt overhang. With Russia out of the way, the Western alliance could cut-back production in order to allow prices to rise, commit to large-scale public works projects, and in general, just resume established Keynesian economic principles.

    Paul, you’re a bright guy & fully informed – one of the few who truly gets the entire picture – but oftentimes I gather you’re just being obstinate. You know fundamentally that what I’m outlining is perfectly reasonable. In fact, I would bet that you know that if we can co-opt Russia, everything I’m predicting would come to pass. It’s just that, for whatever reason, you don’t want the West to win. So that’s why you root for the opposition, in the hope that a Mad Max cascade effect would hit full blast.

    But why? Why not embrace your Western roots? All English speakers enjoy their status because England won, continuously, for the last 300 years or so, every global conflict with which it was engaged.

    • doomphd says:

      Starting with that rascal (to the Spanish) Sir Francis Drake. Win, baby, win.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Sorry but having read your explanation … I find it wanting…. in a big way….

      I am going with the explanation I posted…. not because it is mine…

      But because it contains logic that is difficult to refute….

      I am trying to take the other side of the argument but I am unable to do so in this instance.

      The Elders are beginning to flail…. they are running out of ideas…. they observed that the deflationary collapse was imminent — they/we were staring down the barrel of a cannon ….

      And they reached around and doused the fuse with another wave of stimulus….

      The cannon is presently being modified…. with a water-proof fuse….

      Keep in mind the Chinese and the Russians — while mortal enemies of the Elders — would be on the same page with respect to the big picture — they too will do ‘whatever it takes’ — to keep the board on which the great game takes place from tipping over.

    • aaa says:

      Have you had a chance to listen to Jim Willie?

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Anyone who is thinks gold is the answer…. does not understand the nature of what we are facing

        • aaa says:

          Is gold not insurance against government printing? As things worsen, they will be hunting for money – bank deposits first then cash and finally gold. They need to find ways to write-off the debt that accumulates each day.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            We are already facing a deflationary collapse.

            if governments start to seize bank deposits — that will cause a) a collapse of the consumer economy as people will have no money to spend which will send the deflationary collapse off a cliff and b) it will cause massive global panic…

            The opposite is actually far more likely – I saw an article today that Ontario Canada is contemplating helicopter money….

            I had a cursory look at that website and it appears that this guy is pumping gold as an investment — the moment I see anything related to investment / getting through the crisis — I start to talk in tongues and dribble all over myself like a rabid dog…

            There are no hedges against what is coming. And when it comes — the starving hordes will run past a pile of gold bars without noticing them — to get at a single can of beans…

            Gold will have no value in world where there is no energy — so no surpluses…. gold is just another form of money — that has been used as a store of wealth i.e. surplus production.

            it is itself is worthless..

            Jim should trade his gold in for stuff that might actually have value — guns and ammo….

            • Rodster says:

              Your summation reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode on Gold. People should watch that episode as it puts gold in perspective.

            • Fast Eddy says:


            • Rodster says:

              The episode was titled “The Rip Van Winkle Caper”, episode 24 season 2. It used to be on YouTube but I can’t find it anymore or perhaps it was removed.

            • aaa says:

              According to James McCanney, there is NO energy shortage! Oil is plentiful deposited on the Earth each time the Earth passed through the tail of a large comet. The last such encounter was during the Moses event where naptha and brimstone were raining down from the sky. Page 67 his book Planet X Comets and Earth Changes states “We do not have to fight a war in the Mid-east for oil, as it is found the world over and in abundance.” You can purchase his books here to discover the origin of oil and fossil fuels.

              In the previous topic on The Physics of Energy and the Economy, Gail states: “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.” Wrong! That is the conventional view. Our weather is driven as a result of the Earth discharging the solar capacitor. His book Principia Meteorologia – The Physics of Sun Earth Weather discusses this in detail.

              Do not take James McCanney lightly. On March 7, 2007 he released his book Calculate Primes allowing the rapid calculation of Prime Numbers. This algorithm can be used to defeat RSA encryption. A few weeks later, Michael Chertoff – the security czar in the US declared secure computing to be in doubt. Seven years later, he released his book Breaking RSA Codes for Fun and Profit.

              His recent radio broadcast of Feb 18, 2016 briefly described the discharge of the solar capacitor.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Oil is plentiful deposited on the Earth each time the Earth passed through the tail of a large comet’

              I wonder if Abilify might help you. It’s reputed to be a wonder drug.

            • Chris Butterfield says:

              “I wonder if Abilify might help you. It’s reputed to be a wonder drug.”

              Id be going the other road. Seconal/thorazine IV STAT.

          • But all we can buy is those things that are our much reduced economy has produced. In fact, we may not even be able to buy those goods if, for example, the only people who can buy food are people who have produced food, and have food to trade for other goods.

        • Rodster says:

          Well stated. People don’t realize that our predicament runs far deeper than preserving wealth and the Jim Willie types look to capitalize by selling financial hopium.

        • aaa says:

          The world is not coming to an end just yet. instead it is approaching a reset with new very large trading blocks breaking away from bi-lateral trade in USD to multi-lateral trade with NO USD inclusion. Antal Fekete has written extensively on the subject as this is a direct of fraudulent printing and propping the reserve currency via fascist ideology.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Unfortunately … the world is coming to an end… and soon.

            You are on the wrong site to be posting these sorts of things….. most of us here have — after years of deep contemplation — reached the same conclusions as our host Gail ….

            We are not hear looking for miracles… there will be no miracles…

            We are here to discuss arrangements for the funeral of BAU….

            How’s this for the coffin?


            • Stefeun says:

              Too heavy.

            • aaa says:

              Just posted a response to your post of March 8, 2016 at 4:02 am. You need to do some major reading of James McCanney’s books. The energy shortage meme is a scare tactic to create artificial scarcity. In any case, we should not be burning fossil fuels as these are highly polluting and deplete oxygen levels. All forms of renewable energy being pushed are inefficient with high energy inputs to produce. See Youtube presentation Downwind to see the fraud of 3-blade turbines. The predominant renewable energy technologies are “owned” by the big energy companies. They will do everything in their power to maintain a monopoly on energy production. Listen to his radio show of May 7, 2015 on his discussion of energy consumption.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Shortage? Do you see a shortage of oil?

              I thought there was a glut….

              Oh I see — the energy companies could fix the problem — but they want to make profits out of oil first….

              But since they own the viable alternative energy solutions why don’t they roll them out — and generate profits from these? Wouldn’t they still have a monopoly?

  5. Yoshua says:

    Technically recoverable oil and gas in the context of total world resources.

    Crude oil (billion barrels) Wet natural gas (trillion cubic feet)
    Total 223 2,431

    Total World
    Total 3,357 22,882

    EIA Worldwide Report, December 3, 2012.

    According to these numbers the world has oil for another 100 years and gas for 200 years. The question is of course… how much will this energy cost and who can afford to consume it ?

    Perhaps there wont be complete collapse… but more like a slow motion implosion… where the inner core stays intact while the outer rings start collapsing.

    • Yoshua says:

      Crude oil (billion barrels)……….. Wet natural gas (trillion cubic feet)
      Total 223………………………………………..2,431

      Total World
      Total 3,357……………………………………… 22,882

    • bandits101 says:

      Yes in a reasonably slow motion collapse, the extremities will probably be left to wither. That will cause migration and movement towards a protected core. I envision at first that there will be many “cores”, each slowly dying. Likely a final core will develop for as long as it can be defended. Over what timespan and in what manner events unfold is fun to debate.

      • Yoshua says:

        Yes, I can imagine a number of cores controlling strategic commodities and technologies to keep the network of cores alive.

        The collapse has perhaps already started with the migration from failed economies, failed states, poverty and war towards Europe, North America and Australia.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Yoshua, agreed it makes sense in the process of contraction/descent/collapse that the 2nd and tertiary countries would collapse first followed by the super powers. What’s fascinating is the insulated manner in which the US seems to view it’s economy, as if it were unaffected by economic contraction taking place in other parts of the world. I think this ignores the fact it is now a much more globalized economy, and what happens abroad will definitely come home to roost. Right now it’s the calm before the storm on our home front, with cracks showing, but the illusion of BAU mostly in tact.

    • No. Actually the question are

      (a) How much does it cost to extract the oil?

      (b) How high can the price of oil be bid up to, given the wages of workers and debt levels?

      If the price of oil is $30 per barrel, and the cost of extraction is $300 per barrel, for a short time, buyers will be able to buy oil for far below cost. Then, the companies will go bankrupt, and no one will want to restart operations. The amount of oil for sale will be 0. The system will stop because the oil companies closed because prices would not rise high enough.

      • Yoshua says:

        Yes, I must try to express my self more precise. I was just thinking in general terms: how much does it cost and who can afford it.

        The idea was that weaker economies in this global economy will collapse first.

        The high oil price will lead to the collapse of weaker oil consuming economies and the low oil price will lead to the collapse of weaker oil producing economies, until a new equilibrium is found for those who survived the contraction of the global economy.

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    And here we have what is known as a miracle…

    Noble Group Ltd.’s plans to refinance loans due next month are getting a boost as the commodities collapse eases.

    Bonds due 2018 from the resources trading company, which has been cut to junk and will be removed from Singapore’s Straits Times Index, recovered to 59 cents on the dollar Monday from as low as 41 cents on Jan. 22, a period in which its shares surged by almost 60 percent. Noble Group is also the top-performer from Southeast Asia in a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Asian high yield index, after commodity prices climbed 8 percent from a January low.


    Apparently commodity prices have just magically recovered… no explanation of how or why … they just have.

    Outstanding journalism this is…..

  7. aaa says:

    Globalization as defined by Gail Tverberg is NOT the problem.

    The problem is over population! Billy Meier has been warning about this problem as the source of all other problems for decades. Man has a history that spans further back in time than our Public Fool System acknowledges. As a fragment of the Creation, man serves the purpose of providing a physical host to the eternal spirit that requires between 40 to 60 million years to evolve beyond the need of a physical host. Man maximizes the development of the intellect while animals maximize the development of the instinct. The Plajaren suggest 529 million as the natural limit for our Earth. Stephen Moore has used population figures from the CIA World Fact book to arrive at a number of 563 million.

    Kevin Galalae has been speaking out about over-population and covert de-population by most countries with the blessing of the UN since 1945.

    It is critical that man start using his intellect to bring re-production under control. Religion is a major part of the problem as it inhibits the development of man’s intellect encouraging the problem further. Attempts to enforce a dress code to discourage sexuality is clearly not working in predominantly Muslim countries. The Plajaren terminate unwanted pregnancies within the first 21 days as that is when the sprit enters the body.

    This issue needs discussion and study at the community level as it affects all of us in the quality of our lives and the possible annhilation of this planet. The Contact Reports should be consulted for a vast amount of information spanning every area of the human experience. There used to be two other water worlds in our solar system: Malona (now asteroid field) and Mars.

    For those that don’t think the Earth is over-populated will find good company with one ET race that doesn’t think our planet is over-populated.

    • We can have more than one problem. For a while we were able to hide too-high population with growing energy supplies and debt from China and other developing countries. Once the globalization benefit goes away, we are back to many of the problems we had before.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Actually population is not the problem ….. it’s the finite nature of our world that is the problem

      • aaa says:

        Yes. People don’t seem to have that sense for the finite nature of our planet. The Acartians suffered a horrific fate as described in CR473 block 74 to 79 and also recorded here.

        Population levels double roughly every 30 years. So, that is a possible fate for this planet also.

      • scott says:

        It’s only a problem for us. The world doesn’t care if we stay around or not.

  8. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Survive the Famine Years Enthusiasts
    I recommend Alan Davisson’s talk on eating insects from last years sessions with Marjory Wildcraft. In order to get it, I think you have to pay full price for this year’s session (if you had signed up before 9am EST today, you could have gotten it cheap).

    Listen to Marjory talking about the early beginnings of her ‘eat your bugs’ gatherings and look at how this has morphed into a big celebration in the central park in Austin, TX.

    Davisson gives you a lot of good information about eating bugs. He tells you how, when your body is hungry for fat and protein, the bugs will taste delicious. And just a few of the right bugs will be enough for the entire day. He gives you good advice on how to capture a nest of wasps.

    He tells you how to catch bugs bare-handed and simply eat them raw. He also gives those of you who are gourmets advice on how to catch bugs in jars and how to cook them.

    Davisson talks about upscale restaurants in big cities serving insects, as well as very poor people eating insects. The best restaurant in Chapel Hill served some insects a few years ago. I don’t know if they have done so recently.

    Davisson also has a book.

    Don Stewart

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Interesting fact, insect body mass outnumbers by far animals here on planet Earth.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I highly recommend this insect eating lecture as well…..

      Because these are the types will be taking all the meat, fruit and vegetables that you produce …


      You might also take a French cooking course — I understand that many of the tastiest dishes involve throw-away parts of animals because that was what the aristocrats made available to their peasants…. and the peasants did their best to make these scraps edible with innovative recipes….

      • Vince the Prince says:

        You all thank Don and me when you are chewing on termite a LA mode

        As the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects


        7 Insects You’ll Be Eating in the Future

        Want to get rid of the termites gnawing at your floorboards? Just do like they do in South America and Africa: Take advantage of the rich nutritional quality of these insects by frying, sun-drying, smoking or steaming termites in banana leaves.
        Termites generally consist of up to 38 percent protein, and one particular Venezuelan species, Syntermes aculeosus, is 64 percent protein. Termites are also rich in iron, calcium, essential fatty acids and amino acids such as tryptophan.

        Or these little fellas
        The larvae of the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor) is one of the only insects consumed in the Western world: They are raised in the Netherlands for human consumption (as well as for animal feed), partly because they thrive in a temperate climate.
        The nutritional value of mealworms is hard to beat: They’re rich in copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium. Mealworms are also comparable to beef in terms of protein content, but have a greater number of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.

  9. Don Stewart says:

    Vince the Prince
    After writing the last response to you, I logged on to Marjory’s new show today. I got a link to last year’s episodes. One is titled ‘Eating and Enjoying Insects’. Somebody last year commented that ‘it is an impressive cooking demonstration’. If you are worried about famine years, might be worth buying access to Marjory’s series and taking a look.

    Don Stewart

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Yes, I am and hope others here (att: Fast Eddy), take advantage of the world wide web that is still up and running to do the same. Once it goes our knowledge exchange abilities will be rather limited to our bioregion ( not that itself is a bad thing).
      Her and Dave the Gardener are valuable sources of know how.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Hey there Doomsday Preppers who rather than waste their time setting up a hobby farm and reading books on how to get the most food out of an acre….

        And instead are spending every last cent they have … running up credit cards … and buying bulk guns and ammo …..

        And who intend to lock and load post BAU … head to the farming communities …. and taking over… enslaving those farmers who worked so hard pre BAU to prepare a wonderful homestead for you and your men — who will provide you with women … who will work the fields and feed you….

        Let’s discuss military tactics (while the Farmers watch Farming with Marjorie and Toby….)

        First off let’s go over the basics of an AMBUSH…. this is useful in taking out younger farmers who might attempt to offer resistance …


        Another useful tactic when attacking a farm — with wide open spaces — which requires men to work in these spaces without any protection …. would Sniping at Farmers for Dummies, Brutes, and Vicious Men.

        Let’s learn how to do this:


        BTW – I was speaking to a fishing buddy the other day on the lake and he was telling me of a cousin who did 5 years in jail for stabbing a biker …. how this guy has not respect for authority … how he was smoking up his 13 yr old son with pot…. who whenever anyone in the family tries to set him straight he gets extremely violent and has beat both of his brothers…

        There are plenty of these sorts in our communities… the only thing that keeps them under control would be the police… and even then … they get off the leash frequently…

        There won’t be 911 post BAU — there won’t be police running to the rescue when the Brutes arrive…. they’ll be you and your farming buddies struggling to feed yourselves… a difficult task which will be impossible when you have violent men wanting what you have….

        Best of luck.

        I recommend you keep at least one bullet for every member of your family.

        Can you imagine what such men would do to them once they are through the gate and in control?

        • Kanghi says:

          FE, I find it funny, that you upon that happen also to be a farmer, even if apparently a farmer with guns & ammo, even if I think your knowledge on those fields is superficial 😛

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I am putting together a new cook book:

      Replacing Meat with Insects in Traditional French Recipes – by Fast Eddy.

  10. Vince the Prince says:

    Dear Fast Eddy and Don Stewart, This is the answer I got from my question on how much food do you grow from Marjory Wildcraft.
    ” I always grow at least half, and sometimes it is much more. Depends of the seasons and the year”
    As Gail pointed out we need to survive in the worse growing season, not the best.
    Even Helen and Scott Nearing supplemented their pantry from outside sources.
    So, Fast Eddy, your goal should be how to survive on half of the food you need to survive.
    Those Vietnam worms are looking rather tasty now, aren’t they?

    • I’m a wishful thinking gardener
      but it seems to me that in order to survive (and realistically thrive) on what you produce by your own hand, it is important to get to the second harvest, not the first.
      Stuff you get on the first harvest has to be utilised through to the 2nd.
      That in itself is a real skill.
      Not only that, but you have to survive those 2 years without external input of any kind.
      Otherwise the self subsistence gardener is just kidding himself.
      Then throw in the usually ignored bit, that your produce is not going to be respected by those of a criminal inclination, and I’d say and post-bau wannabe farmer is going to have a real survival problem

      • Artleads says:

        That’s why the point would be to get everybody to grow food–by edict if need be. You’ll have to make food growing the main job of society planning. You’ll need the big growers like Van Kent, but they have to be within bike/pedestrian/equestrian range of destination point.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I was picking the brain of a commercial organic grower (he’s written research for the NZ govt on various topics) on exactly this topic….

        He’s aware of the fact that I expect the end of the world …. and disagrees… but he has kids – he has to…

        So i was asking him about composting post BAU — he said that to keep a garden of the size we have producing without outside inputs would be a massive struggle….

        That’s when I called up the compost man and ordered in 3 massive truck loads of additional compost which I keep under huge tarps to prevent rain from washing them away.

        • Pintada says:

          Dear Fast Eddie;

          Yup. Of course one needs lots of compost to raise a garden, but most of that organic matter must come from off-site. Something the agroutopians simply don’t want to understand.


          • Don Stewart says:

            I don’t know if he qualifies as an ‘ecotopian’, but Eric Toensmeier, in The Carbon Farming Solution, points out that the liquid carbon pathway is the quickest way to built organic matter and topsoil. The liquid carbon pathway begins to work within 30 minutes of the occurrence of photosynthesis. The liquid carbon pathway comes into being because the plants exude carbohydrates into the soil to attract microbes to their root zone.

            While I guess you might say that the nutrients are coming from ‘off site’, namely, the atmosphere, I doubt that is what you mean.

            If one is rich and impatient, then one can purchase compost from off-site. If one is poor and patient and knows what he is doing, then one builds organic matter and topsoil using biological methods.

            Quite a few new small farmers inherit very poor land and are in a hurry, and buy commercial compost. Compost is also bought by most people who specialize in transplants. Purchased compost is also a useful thing to buy to make compost tea, if you don’t want to fool around with making it yourself. People who farm very intensively, as the Singing Frogs Farm in California, also frequently buy large amounts of compost…they are pushing the land faster than it can recycle nutrients and accumulate carbon.

            For the bulk of garden-farming, composting in place with recycling of nutrients is the desired goal, along with abundant microbes to break down rocks to re-supply any loss of nutrients. The issue of nutrient loss is still debated, with Elaine Ingham claiming that there is no soil on earth that is deficient in nutrients IF the microbes are abundant and active. Steve Solomon is an example of the school which believes nutrients are scarce.

            A local farmer I know went 18 years with no off-farm nutrients. Then he changed his rotation, leaving inadequate time for the land to regenerate its carbon, and had to bring in some organic matter. Not a lot of organic matter, but it broke his string. It shows how financial pressures can cause practices which are less than ideal.

            Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Like I said… it is a huge struggle to maintain soil without outside inputs in the best of times…

              Post BAU will be the worst of times…

              And time will be of the essence — when you no longer have electricity or petrol and you have to do everything including washing clothes, cooking, cutting firewood etc…

              Get ready for the grind — what’s coming is nothing like the hobby farming everyone on this site is currently engaged in.

              Oh btw – has anyone taken the Fast Eddy Challenge – the one where you turn off the power and don’t use petrol for a week?

              Of course not!

              Funny you seem to be constantly experimenting with various ideas —- but you refuse to experiment with the most important idea — the one where you test run your operation against a post BAU scenario…

              But of course you won’t – because you know what that would do wouldn’t it Don?

              It would shatter your visions of Little House on the Prairie into a thousand pieces — because you would get a glimpse into just how brutal existence will be post BAU.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Someone stated on this site recently that ‘it takes 5 years to set up a homestead’ — I believe the reference was Toby Hemmingway…

            Post BAU people will have about 5 days to get self-sufficient —- because that’s probably how long the food in the cupboard will last most people.

            Agrotopians… do they live in a province on Delusistan?

            • nequin says:

              Oh btw – has anyone taken the Fast Eddy Challenge – the one where you turn off the power and don’t use petrol for a week?
              Do it all the time…Less than 1% will make it.
              Not sure if I will or even want to

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You forgot the part about turning off the electricity.

              I have frequently gone without using a vehicle for a week…. particularly when I was in the village in Bali ….

    • Don Stewart says:

      Vince the Prince
      Marjory Wildcraft is a fairly good sized business in addition to being a subsistence gardener and survival enthusiast. If things collapse, then Marjory can pretty easily double her production, because there will be lots of vacant land near her and very few sheriffs to keep her off that land.

      There was a study back in the late 1990s about Indian peasant farmers and bad crop years. The conclusion was that a peasant family needed 5 acres of ‘spare’ land in order to reliably survive in bad crop years. The youtube that Pintada posted featuring the University of Washington climate researcher had some details about the anticipated frequency of bad years in the future. So the need for more land as a spare resource will become much more pressing as the climate deteriorates.

      Exactly how to use the spare acreage is, so far as I know, an under- explored question. We don’t want to labor very hard to grow way more food than we need during the 4 good years, just so that we can survive in the bad fifth year. This may be where the business of eating caterpillars and such come to the fore. The famine year needs to rely on critters and crops that mostly take care of themselves.

      There may also be a place for crops like millet and sorghum, which are very tough, but require a lot of work to process so that they can be eaten by humans. So, for example, it might be smart to plants some millet and sorghum on your spare 5 acres and just not harvest it unless you really need to. But the idea of growing corn in marginal environments (as is occurring in Africa) so that rich people can use the ethanol to drive SUVs is clearly a really bad idea.

      In some ecosystems, it may be that animals are the larder in famine years. But my understanding is that humans in really tough circumstances tend not to eat their animals, because the animals are the source of valuable manure (as in Marjory’s stories about the Tarahumara). At any rate, the animals would likely be very lean during famine years, unless the famine was caused by cold and wet conditions.

      I’m not making prescriptions. Just pointing out what probably needs some research. Humans haven’t had to deal much with these kinds of issues since at least the little ice age. I will also point out that the ability of the Earth to support X number of humans should be based on the ability of Earth to feed people in famine years.

      As for the Nearings not growing EVERYTHING they ate….I have said this here many times before, but I will repeat it again. The Nearings were not trying to be entirely self-sufficient. They were communists, for goodness sakes. They believed in community…but found the rocky soil of New England not very hospitable to communal undertakings. They were trying to construct a good life based on modest amounts of ‘bread labor’, a measure of independence from the money based economy, and community. If you read Scott’s essays on why building with wood in New England is a really bad idea, and why building with stone is smart, you will get the flavor for the way they were thinking and acting.

      Don Stewart

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Dear Don Stewart, thank you and I have read most of the Nearings writing and won’t belabor what you wrote. They also had side businesses, such as, maple syruping, writing and lecturing. From my experience that is the best we expect to do on average. It is very easy to claim we can “easily” double our output. With climate change that is transforming our seasons that might not be so easy. Again, thank you for your posts and input.
        I’m an old timer and kinda know the limits we are facing.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I’ll need to survive on far less than that —- because there are thousands of people in the nearby town who grow nothing … and who will want me to share with them… actually they will be demanding I share with them.

      • I’ve decided to set up in business manufacturing NO TRESPASSING signs.
        post BAU I shall be rich beyond my girlfriend’s wildest dreams

  11. Pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    WordPress is a buggy, finicky piece of crap.

    There, I said it. (Apologies to all the WordPress fans who love to see their posts disappear, and all the WordPress hosts that enjoy digging around for comments that they want posted but WordPress in its infinite wisdom threw away.)


  12. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    I will, tongue in cheek, call this post Alarm! Peak Manure! (You can substitute more earthy Anglo-Saxon language if the spirit moves you.)

    From our small farm list serve:
    Since the best price I could find for horse manure was $50 /yd I opted for 12 yards of cow manure delivered for $180. I’ve used this source before with mostly positive results.

    The point is that organic material which used to be free for the taking is now perceived to have value. I can still collect a lot of cardboard (which is a wonderful source of carbon) just ahead of the trash man, but I can no longer get discarded big packing cartons at the recycling center….the sheriff will come after me. The cardboard has already been sold to commercial com posters.

    So the world is changing. Here is Albert Bates describing how it is about to change more drastically:

    ‘How do you make a shift like that? Frankly, I see it through tools like permaculture, home gardens, victory gardens, urban gardens. People looking for food security in these turbulent times when the economy is doing really badly and there are issues with energy and the absence of energy after the crash of the fracking industry. So we’re going to find ourselves where everybody is going to want food security and to do that they’re going to have to learn how and to do it in a way that sequesters carbon’

    So…line up and get your manure (or favorite expletive) first!

    Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      In my rural village, we can still get free manure (about 3 miles away). As you say, small boxes are still easy to get (from the store in my case). Large, fridge-type boxes have been hard to get for some years. The Re-Store in the city has large sheets available for free. But what can we expect re cardboard availability over the nearish term? I would put its continued manufacture over other forms of post collapse (lite) manufacture. It can be used to just about replace wood, as well as for the garden.

      Just as “agriculture” spreads out and is profligate in its use of land and water, “horticulture” is intensive and miniaturized by comparison, requiring almost no transportation, a revolution (toward small and intimate) in land use, more individual attention, etc.

    • Artleads says:

      I read part of the Bates interview. He’s so eloquent. But I think he gets slightly carried away at times. Don’t we all? I like his future in many ways, but I don’t think the Mayan (retained) culture has all that much to tell us here in the middle of Babylon.

      We are surrounded by glass and steel and concrete, all of which must somehow be converted into useful environment analogous to trees and the rivers and bushes that aborigines used. The glass and steel and concrete have to become OUR hunter gatherer (HG) paradise. It’s an urban world, and I’m not quite getting that understanding from Bates. For us, it’s a question of adapting what is already here, built on massive waste, into something useful. It is a question of adaptive design. For that, we desperately need to learn the PRINCIPLES used by hunter gatherers (not the particulars so much) of the HG relationship to environment.

      We also can’t get far within some vaguely defined “global” structure. We must break things down into manageable units. I believe the Martensons (sp) were working on this, but I’m not certain.

      • Don Stewart says:

        One size does not fit all. Albert grew up in the wealthy Connecticut suburbs of NYC and went to law school. He was waiting on the street in Greenwich Village for a movie theater to open, when some of the people who settled The Farm happened by (as I recall the story). Albert began to hike the Appalachian Trail going south. He got to the mountains on the Tennessee/ North Carolina border, and heard again about The Farm. He went over to Summertown, visited The Farm, and has never left. He found there what he couldn’t find in the rich Connecticut suburbs. There is a surviving photograph of Albert plowing with a team of horses or mules. He used his legal credentials to argue before the Supreme Court (again, as I recall the story).

        So…when you get advice from Albert, you are inevitably going to get something tinged with his preferences. He has, however, been very active in the global intentional community movement. I am sure some of those communities are quite urban. So it isn’t like Albert is totally rural. I imagine his experience with the urban communities is one reason he includes urban gardening in his list of things which offer salvation.

        Whether a place like New York City or London or Bangladesh can survive depends on a lot of things. In the article, Albert is quite pessimistic about sea level rise, and those places are definitely threatened. Can a place like Denver survive? In Denver, the challenge may be water. Can Summertown, TN survive? Albert has murmured about moving to an island in the St. Lawrence River. More immediately, can a family survive in NYC in the decades before the city is covered by the Atlantic? I’m not sure Albert has expressed to many firm opinions on that topic…but I would hazard the guess that he thinks someone who has a garden in Brooklyn is better off than someone living in a Manhattan penthouse with a paper money fortune.

        Albert’s world-view does not involve denying oneself any pleasure in life. He was here a year ago, and I sat next to him. The program didn’t interest him very much, and he was reading Lord of the Rings on his I pad. But he is quite religious about planting trees to offset his carbon emissions.

        I think you begin where you are….Don Stewart

        • Artleads says:

          He’s a brilliant man, doing extraordinary work. I love his scenario of stepping down in stages, whether that’s well founded or not. I’m sure he understand the need for urban food production too. I don’t claim to have the remotest trace of his knowledge and scholarship. I function almost entirely from intuition.

          Almost a full 100% of what Gail writes goes over my head. I’ve only ever come across the term “oil” when servicing my car. Money is so alien a concept that I can’t ever remember if I have some in my pocket. Still, I’m very happy to be participating on this blog. Although Gail is so masterful with the left brain, she sometimes speaks of intuition. Women tend to hang on to intuition more than men. (BTW, I’ve been told that I think more like women than like men. :-))

          Here’s just one example where Gail’s complex way of understanding manifests. I thought that future Olympics were in jeopardy, that collapse is occurring so fast as to preclude them happening. Gail instead thought this coming 2016 one would not happen in the usual sparkling manner. And look at what has come to pass. Zika, economic collapse, scandal, a country roiled in strife. I have no doubt that it’s due those interconnections that Gail talks about and that are so subtle and complex that nearly no one else has a sense of them. Intuition plays a part here, I think.

          So here’s what my intuition tells me.

          — Sea level rise is not an issue we need be too concerned about. The issue of complex collapse is far too urgent and severe for that to matter now.

          — It is pointless to talk about systems that apply to the whole world. Although I agree that one size doesn’t fit all, nobody discusses hundreds of millions of sizes…as in different sizes for each pod of 1-3 hundred people. It is these pods that need organizing, one by one, each with great specificity.

          — Since most of the world’s people live in cities, it should be urban agriculture that gets the lion’s share of airing; not, as it is now, the countryside or somewhere “away, “out there,” no specific place.

          — There is no organizing that I’m aware of that focuses on specific pods of the kind I suggest. So I must note when great white saviors fail to see their importance.

          – Small units are more manageable, and require less energy, than large ones. But nobody is engaged in breaking things down into small and manageable units.

          So I use this forum to speak of these things, which I don’t see spoken of elsewhere. Not to cast aspersions on Bates. I just think countervailing views should be heard.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Relative to ‘small pods’. Albert favors Ecovillages. He is a past president of the Global Ecovillage Network. Dmitry Orlov published the book 150 Strong, which suggests that pods of 150 are the basic unit of survival going forward. Toby Hemenway has published a book on Urban Permaculture, which isn’t exactly about surviving collapse, but does talk extensively about reinvigorating neighborhoods and making them more productive of essentials such as food. David Holmgren has talked about the potential of suburbs, particularly those built in the decades after WWII, as potentially much more self-sufficient. David is writing a new book on suburbs as we speak. Geoff Lawton has designed suburban lots for food production.

            My own perspective is that suburban or urban agriculture needs to be focused. For example, it is pretty well known that brassica have anti-cancer properties. But less well known is the fact that the maximum protection from cancer and the maximum power for healing existing tumors happens when the enzyme myrosinase interacts with the protective chemicals in the plant cells. Cooking tends to damage myrosinase, so the anti-cancer potential is considerably reduced when these plants are cooked, especially for long times. It is also a fact that myrosinase begins to degrade as soon as the plant is harvested. After 2 days, the myrosinase is basically inactive. So…to get the best cancer protection, you really need to eat the brassica raw or very lightly cooked within 2 days of harvest. And if you count out 2 days, you conclude that you really need to grow the brassica in your kitchen garden. Brassica are also tolerant of considerable shade…full sun is pretty rare in many suburbs and urban lots.

            So I suggest that growing leafy greens, and especially brassica, in a small urban or suburban kitchen garden is one of the things which makes perfect sense. I am fairly optimistic that, even in a severe collapse, we can keep the urban and suburban areas supplied with calorie crops such as tubers and grains. These do not require refrigerated transportation.

            If we are still thinking, in 2026, that ‘collapse is just around the corner’, and have been eating brassica from our kitchen gardens for the previous decade, we will have done a big favor for our health. Our efforts were not in vain.

            Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘So I suggest that growing leafy greens, and especially brassica, in a small urban or suburban kitchen garden is one of the things which makes perfect sense. I am fairly optimistic that, even in a severe collapse, we can keep the urban and suburban areas supplied with calorie crops such as tubers and grains. These do not require refrigerated transportation.’

              Where will the water to grow crops come from when the pumps stop?

              Where will the compost come from to maintain the soil?

            • Don Stewart says:

              Fast Eddy
              I don’t think you understand the liquid carbon pathway.
              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              To be honest… given the state of affairs…. that is fairly low on my priority list of things I’d like to learn in the short time I have left alive….

            • Artleads says:


              I saw the interview you posted with Holmgren, and found it interesting. I routinely get videos of Geoff Lawton’s work, but here are others I hadn’t seen. There is nothing as lucid as the following, showing why more people is not the problem, and why cities offer more diverse microclimates that can grow more diverse forms of nutrition. It is a most remarkable exposition. If pressed for time, one could start at 8:00, and be sure also to take in from 13:00 on…at least for 5 mins. thereafter in each instance



              I’ve visited Village Homes in Davis, and tried to use it to help inform a project I was doing elsewhere. In essential ways, I live by the PRINCIPLES Lawton describes. But I’m stubborn, and refuse to do anything that anyone has done before. I operate as an artist, and an artist must be original. Even our beloved Geoff doesn’t know everything.

              What has guided me far more than any specific information he supplies is intuition. It amazes the heck out of me is that my intuition is always consistent with those principles I spoke about.

              But if I were leader of the world, I would hire Geoff to set up a paradigm for transforming global food (nutritional) supply. My personal system (perhaps because it’s so utterly unscientific, so eccentric and idiosyncratic) is pretty hopeless.

              Brassicas indeed!!!!!

            • Artleads says:

              150 Strong, etc., with Dimitry Orlov


              Thanks for the reference, Don.

            • Artleads says:

              I haven’t had time to look at this yet, but just as a olace saver.


  13. interguru says:

    For all of you who preach salvation in nuclear power.

    Hinkley Point C, the planned UK reactor, has several times been called the most expensive thing ever built, anywhere. Estimates of its cost vary, from the company’s £18-billion projection, up to as much as £24.5 billion, estimated by the European Union.
    It’s so expensive that the UK government has had to guarantee a price for the energy it will produce—which some say is cripplingly high—for 35 years.
    And the project has hit delay after delay. In 2008, EDF said the power station could be complete in 10 years. No work has yet begun.

    More here.

    No private investors will touch nuclear power with a 10 foot (3.048 m) pole, only governments will fund it. Besides the huge cost overruns and endemic delays, there is always the chance the your whole investment will melt down instantly.

    • Vince the Prince says:

      But, but…there is a chance mini nuclear power generators will save the day!
      Small Nuclear Power Reactors(Updated March 2016)
      There is revival of interest in small and simpler units for generating electricity from nuclear power, and for process heat.
      This interest in small and medium nuclear power reactors is driven both by a desire to reduce the impact of capital costs and to provide power away from large grid systems.
      The technologies involved are numeraous and very diverse.
      Today, due partly to the high capital cost of large power reactors generating electricity via the steam cycle and partly to the need to service small electricity grids under about 4 GWe,b there is a move to develop smaller units. These may be built independently or as modules in a larger complex, with capacity added incrementally as required (see section below on Modular construction using small reactor units). Economies of scale are provided by the numbers produced. There are also moves to develop independent small units for remote sites. Small units are seen as a much more manageable investment than big ones whose cost often rivals the capitalization of the utilities concerned

      See…there is HOPE

      • interguru says:

        There is hope, but the path from concept to working reactor is rocky and steep. There are prrrof-of-concept models of pebble bed reactors,but these have problems.

        Meanwhile ( from the linked article )

        n January 2014 Westinghouse announced that was suspending work on its small modular reactors in the light of inadequate prospects for multiple deployment. The company said that it could not justify the economics of its SMR without government subsidies, unless it could supply 30 to 50 of them. It was therefore delaying its plans, though small reactors remain on its agenda.

        This whole issue is a red herring. (distraction). If Gail is correct, BAU will have ended long before any or these can be deployed.

        • humankind has constructed its current model of existence on the concept of rotary motion, or the leverage of the wheel (however you want to think of it).
          Thus, whatever source of energy we find and use, our civilised infrastructure can only continue to exist if we can apply power to make things rotate.
          Nuclear power stations can only deliver electricity, so we have to continue to build machines of one sort or another that can convert that electrical energy into rotary motion. (or vice versa)
          This requires industrial complexity of a very high order, which cannot be sustained unless we have constant access to cheap abundant minerals and heat with which to build factories and precision machinery–in other words, a hydrocarbon powered infrastructure

      • nequin says:

        NO just NO The last thing I want in my back yard is one of those and a bunch of people that worship the god in the sky.

  14. Fast Eddy says:

    Ring ring…. hello…. this is Fast Eddy from Finite World…. are you one of the Elders? …. cool…. can you comment on the state of global economy?

    “We’re In The Eye Of The Storm” Rothschild Fears “Daunting Litany” Of Problems Ahead

    As central bank policy-makers’ forecasts have become more pessimistic (i.e. more realistic), Lord Rothschild is unsurprised at the current malaise: “not surprisingly, market conditions have deteriorated further…So much so that the wind is certainly not behind us; indeed we may well be in the eye of a storm.”

    On this basis, Rothschild highlights a “daunting litany of problems,” warning those who are optimistically sanguine about the US economy that “2016 is likely to turn out to be more difficult than the second half of 2015.”



  15. Fast Eddy says:


    Aging giant fields produce more than half of global oil supply and are already declining as group, Cobb writes. Research suggests that their annual production decline rates are likely to accelerate.


  16. Pogust says:

    It would be interesting to hear your comments on an article in NEO by F. William Engdahl
    Where he claims that oil being continuously newly generated deep in the Earth’s mantle and pushed to the surface.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Does Santa have elves in the centre of the earth making oil?

      If so then why is oil so expensive to produce these days?

      Have the elves unionized in recent years?

    • pintada says:

      Dear Pogust;

      (While Fast Eddie may have already given the perfect response, I feel compelled to respond as well)

      WHAT? Thats CRAZY man! Deadpool has more actual science going for it.


    • interguru says:

      Thomas Gold was pushing this idea in here the 50s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gold#Origins_of_petroleum

      Even if is true you have asked how quickly is the oil it being replenished? We are pumping water from aquifers which are replenished. The problem is that we are draining them on a decade time scale, and they refill on a millennial schedule,

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If oil was constantly being replenished from the centre of the earth then why have all reservoirs that have been drained never refilled. And why are no new mega reservoirs being found? Why are we sucking the dregs out of oil reservoirs using fracking?

        This theory is beyond nonsense. Yet I am sure plenty of people will believe it.

        • InAlaska says:

          The Theory of Abiotic Oil has been repeatedly by geologists around the world.

          • InAlaska says:

            repeatedly debunked

            • Stilgar Wilcox says:

              Not that abiotic oil bit again, plz. Sure enough, given enough time that topic returns to all peak oil blogs. That’s why science is so important – because it explains certain things we shouldn’t have to ponder. But for those that ignore science for religious reasons, or love of unicorns or otherwise, there is abiotic oil, or at least the wishful dreaming that such a process could magically exist to save our arses as the economically viable oil sources continue to get squeezed past a peak into a realm of scraping the bottom with non-conventional sources bucket to kick the can down the road just a few more times. Colorful rant over.

    • pintada says:


    • It may sound crazy, but in many ways (if time is not a limit) it has theoretical possibilities.

      • bandits101 says:

        Also a big lol, I’m afraid a great deal more, than simply time is required. For a start and theoretically “The Elders” would need to cooperate. We do of of course have the time and maybe the wherewithal but the will……….the will to divert funds and effort……..to sacrifice a new bridge, food relief efforts, a hospital, school, defence budget, war efforts, R&D, road repairs, pay higher taxes, the list is as long as one could care to fathom. Then to expect the world to mark time and idle along while the job is done…….I don’t think so……..”Theoretically” it will always remain just that.

  17. richard says:

    A couple of casual thoughts on China’s 6.5-7% growth target their chances of getting there are slim to nil. They need to cut back on pollution – Gail’s figures on the proportion of coal used for energy were surprising – and industries such as iron and aluminium, and coal, look set to decline. So, more unemployment, more government handouts, and if they privatise state industries, probably the new management will fire even more.
    So best guess is a maximum of two percent real growth for 2016, hence the best hope for their target GDP is for yuan devaluation of about five percent or so. That will probably be exceeded, hence the buying of oil, copper and other strategic materials for stockpiling. And gold, of course.

  18. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Economic Collapse of South America

    The 7th largest economy on the entire planet is completely imploding. I have written previously about the economic depression that is plaguing Brazil, but since my last article it has gotten much, much worse. During 2015, Brazil’s economy shrank by 3.8 percent, but for the most recent quarter the decline was 5.89 percent on a year over year basis. Unemployment is rising rapidly, the inflation rate is up over 10 percent, and Brazilian currency has lost 24 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.

    At this point, Brazil is already experiencing its longest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and things are getting worse for ordinary Brazilians every single day.

    • Rodster says:

      This will spread to other oil producing economies. As it begins to unravel it will destabilize the markets and the global economy.

    • Perhaps this will be the first visibly/markedly failed modern Olympics venue ever, i.e. precursor sign of further collapse..

    • B9K9 says:

      Brazil is just another victim of the final battle between the US & Russian super-states to determine who will control the last resource stage(s).

      During the Napoleonic wars, many, many peripheral states got caught in the dispute between England & France. If, during that time, someone referenced Spain (ie the Peninsular war – cue Xabier) as some kind of exemplar to make a point with respect to one’s favored political economy, they would be missing the primary causal factor.

      I know Gail & many others tend to emphasize straight economics to explain many current day phenomenon; that of course is their prerogative. But if one is interested in ‘winning’, in positioning themselves to benefit as the showdown (and slowdown) continues, then it’s critical to include the political component in order to understand the complete picture.

      So, in that regard, Brazil – no more than Canada or Texas – isn’t an example of dramatically slowing demand & declining prices for FF, but rather a concerted effort to maintain global production levels (in excess of demand) in order to bankrupt Russia.

      If you really want to understand what is occurring, just read Paul Craig Roberts. But, rather than take his stance opposing the zio-cons (or, the Elders as Paul refers to them) who are driving the war efforts, if one is interested in playing this game to win, you should be fully backing the efforts to utilize the US as a tool for global domination.

      I’ve used this thought experiment before, but it bears repeating: imagine a situation where Russia is defeated (without a nuclear exchange). Don’t think it can be done? Who would have bet on England in 1798 being victorious 17 years later, and thus enjoying an unprecedented 100 year run of prosperity. (Of course, at the expense of their colonies & enslaved people – no one wants to be the “Indian”.)

      If we are able to turn Russia, using the West’s full complement of media, technology, finance, etc assets, to have them reject nationalism and embrace globalism, then there’s not one us alive today who will experience the effects of the later stages of peak oil.

      Nope, we in the West will continue to enjoy our outsized living experience as others succumb to nature’s call. In other words, the defeat of Russia will add at least 50 years to BAU (at least in the West). So, when you see what is occurring in MENA, in Brazil, in China, try and incorporate the big picture. It has always been about resources since time before Rome.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Bankrupting Russia will bankrupt the entire world … Russia is not the only state that will collapse due to low commodity prices…

        And as we have seen in recent days — commodity prices are spiking … primarily I am assuming on expectations of more China ghost cities as China has pumped out a trillion dollars of new debt in two months….

        if China does not do this then the massive bankruptcies would have started very soon indeed.

        The glut in commodities is simply this:

        If you produce oil or copper or iron ore — you are carrying billions of debt — you have operating expenses — if you cut back on production you end up bankrupt.

        Producers make up for the lower prices by producing even more — because they need the cash flow to stay afloat while they pray for a recovery in prices.

        What ultimately is causing the glut? Lack of demand. Lack of jobs. Cratering corporate profits. Slashing of capex.

        This is because QE and ZIRP are starting to push on a string. As we can see in Japan – no matter how much they print the economy settles back into deflation and recession.

        The Japan disease is spreading.

        And we are again looking to China to save the day — a country that is drowning in useless infrastructure… empty cities…. and massive bad debt…

        China Is About To Unleash A Monster Housing Bubble


        China needs to create jobs…. no matter what the cost…. otherwise the country implodes…

        If the Elders want to collapse Russia by forcing commodity prices down then a) why are they only trying this now and b) why are commodity prices spiking upwards at the moment?

  19. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    The estimate of breakeven price ($55) is much lower then Art Berman’s estimates for each of three major plays.


    Which is:
    BAKKEN ($8mm D&C) ———— $65.24
    EAGLE FORD ($5.7 mm D&C) —- $67.43
    PERMIAN ($6.5 mm D&C) ——- $70.51

  20. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Channeling Rockman over at PO.com here:

    He points out that his billionaire owner has given him $250 million (quarter of a billion) to buy up worthwhile acquisitions and he can hardly find anything worth buying. Slim pickings indeed.

    That quarter of a billion will be raised to one billion dollars if the new acquisitions justify it. If there isn’t enough available, though, the owner will close the company.

  21. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Rush of demand for oil storage while oil is available at below $40 prices:


    With available storage facilities for oil filling up in Houston, Fairway Energy Partners said the time is right for the 11 million barrels of crude storage space it’s currently developing.

    Fairway Energy Partners plans to convert three salt dome caverns more than 2,000 feet under Southwest Houston into crude oil storage. The company, which is backed by Haddington Ventures, is targeting a completion date of late 2016.

    The Texas Gulf Coast has about 128 million barrels stored at refineries and terminals. It’s also about 60 percent full, Genscape said.

    “We’re seeing storage levels that we’ve never seen across the U.S.,” Hilgert said. “Crude is piling up everywhere, Cushing is effectively full, and that’s started to domino down to the Gulf Coast.”

    I think frenzied hoarding of oil in anticipation of higher prices is the phenomenon that MSM does not cover. They try to sell it under “oil glut” banner.

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” admits Japan’s prime minister at the time of the 2011 quake and tsunami, revealing that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people.

    Naoto Kan expressed satisfaction at the three TEPCO executives facing charges over negligence, but this shocking admission comes as AFP reports, conservation group Greenpeace warned that “signs of mutations in trees and DNA-damaged worms beginning to appear,” while “vast stocks of radiation” mean that forests cannot be decontaminated.

    In an interview with The Telegraph to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

    He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” he said. “Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”

    Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We questioned him and he was unable to give clear responses,” he said.

    “We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.”

    “When we got the report that power had been cut and the coolant had stopped working, that sent a shiver down my spine,” Mr Kan said. “From March 11, when the incident happened, until the 15th, the effects [of radioactive contamination] were expanding geographically.

    “From the 16th to the 20th we were able to halt the spread of radiation but the margin left for us was paper-thin. If the [fuel rods] had burnt through [in] all six reactors, that would definitely have affected Tokyo.

    “From a very early stage I had a very high concern for Tokyo. I was forming ideas for a Tokyo evacuation plan in my head. In the 1923 earthquake the government ordered martial law – I did think of the possibility of having to set up such emergency law if it really came down to it.

    “We were only able to avert a 250-kilometre (160-mile) evacuation zone [around the plant] by a wafer-thin margin, thanks to the efforts of people who risked their lives.”

    Mr Kan said he had to retreat to an inner room after the atmosphere in the government’s crisis management centre became “very noisy”.

    He said: “There was so little precise information coming in. It was very difficult to make clear judgments. I don’t consider myself a nuclear expert, but I did study physics at university.

    “I knew that even based on what little we were hearing, there was a real possibility this could be bigger than Chernobyl. That was a terrible disaster, but there was only one reactor there. There were six here.”

    More http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-05/former-pm-admits-future-existence-japan-was-stake-mutations-appear-fukushima-forest

    It is important to note that Fukushima involved a reactor… not the spent fuel ponds…..

    A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel.

    To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7]

    Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).


    Can anyone spell … extinction? Repeat after me everyone — extinction….

    Who knows what extinction means?

    Can anyone give an example of extinction?

    Based on the information above can anyone name a species that is going to go extinct when BAU ends? Can anyone guess how many million species are about to go extinct?

    Hint: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823180459.htm

    • Fast Eddy says:

      And that would explain why Ben Bernanke is not my neighbour here in New Zealand… he would be privy to the information that a) explains that it will be impossible to manage spent fuel facilities without BAU and b) that when BAU dies we all die with it.

      Let us revisit his parting words ‘I know many people hate me for what I have done – but when they understand why – they will thank me’

      Interpret that to: ‘I know many people hate me for what I have done — but when they realize that I was trying to delay the end of the world for as long as possible – that my actions allowed us to live for some years longer — when they are dying from radiation poisoning — they will thank me’

    • pintada says:

      Dear Finite Worlders;

      First, an analysis from Sandia Laboratories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The second study from Brookhaven National Laboratory:

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

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

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

      Regarding their review and update of the Sandia work:

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

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

      Just for fun:

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

      Yup. The spent fuel will not be moved, it will not all be dry casked, it will be radioactive for centuries and dangerous for decades. It is entirely possible that every nuclear reactor that is in operation today will have a fire in the spent fuel pool(s) and it is entirely possible that the fire will be the worst possible. Assuming the worst happens at every facility, there will be roughly 1000 areas with a 15 mile radius that will be unsafe for the foreseeable future. If the population density in those 200 square mile area is high, millions will die or wish for death. Millions.

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

      I have a theory as to why Fast Eddie and others think this is an extinction event and will not use any common sense to examine it further. That for when I have nothing else to do.

      Its Serious Not Existential,

      PS Ask yourself Fast, why can you not make steel in a wood fire?

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

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘Some fuel stored only 5 days would be safe’

        Hmmm… I wonder why power companies go to all the expense and trouble of storing rods in ponds for years…

        I wonder why the government asked Harvard to commission a report as to what might happen if a spend fuel pond was attacked?

        I wonder why Harvard came back with findings that indicated this would lead to a catastrophic event.

        I wonder why many other highly credible scientific studies have concluded that a spent fuel pond accident is exponentially more dangerous than a reactor accident.

        Funny how common sense goes out the window when Mr DNA is faced with extinction.

        • Pintada says:

          Well, I had a reply, but WordPress thru it away. Consider your points obliterated by brilliant logic, Fast Eddie. Im not going to retype it.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            You shouldn’t have bothered…. as you can see I have trampled your position with that latest post.

      • Pintada says:

        Dear Fast Eddie;

        You ask, “I wonder why power companies go to all the expense and trouble of storing rods in ponds for years…”

        Because during BAU it is considered bad form to pollute an area 100 miles in radius because you are too cheap to protect it.

        You ask, “I wonder why the government asked Harvard to commission a report as to what might happen if a spend fuel pond was attacked?”

        Because during BAU it is considered bad form to pollute an area 100 miles in radius because you are too cheap to protect it from a terrorist attack.

        You ask, “I wonder why Harvard came back with findings that indicated this would lead to a catastrophic event.”

        Because the destruction of the economic value of an area 200 miles in diameter would be a catastrophic event for that relatively small area.

        And then you moved into the world of make believe. You ask, “I wonder why many other highly credible scientific studies have concluded that a spent fuel pond accident is exponentially more dangerous than a reactor accident.”

        I would like to see those “highly credible” studies. In which peer reviewed journals should I look? Oh, please. Fast Eddie, we both know that those “highly credible” articles were printed on-line by fiction writers and/or idiots.

        Why will you not use common sense in regard to this issue? I think, that you are like me in a lot of ways. You want this crash to be over quickly to minimize the suffering that you see around you every day. You want it over quickly so that you can just stage whatever dramatic suicide that seems fun at the time, and thus end it quickly, and painlessly. I fear however, that you are working hard to ignore and minimize the real threat to people like us.

        This collapse doesn’t have to be fast, it can be slow – excruciatingly slow and painful. You do not want to face that distinct possibility and so you have latched onto this spent fuel pond issue as your quick way out. Sorry buddy, it won’t necessarily be easy. As I said before, we all have to face the fact that we might die of old age.

        Think about it,

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Let’s go back to common sense.

          Japan put a plan in place to evacuate Tokyo when the Fukushima plant melted down. If they had not been able to get water onto those cores — and continue to pour water on them — Tokyo would have been a dead zone. Actually – all of Japan would have been ruined.

          We know from Chernobyl — an accident that was also controlled — that surrounding countries has big spikes in cancer.

          Again – Chernobyl was controlled — if it had not been entombed it would to this day be spewing radiation. Imagine what the impact of that one installation if we were unable to entomb it.

          Spent fuel ponds hold thousands of times more fuel than a reactor. There are 4000+ spent fuel ponds around the world (500 or so reactors)

          If you don’t cool the spent fuel, the temperature will rise and there may be a swift chain reaction that leads to spontaneous combustion–an explosion and fire of the spent fuel assemblies. Such a scenario would emit radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

          Pick your poison.

          Fresh fuel is hotter and more radioactive, but is only one fuel assembly. A pool of spent fuel will have dozens of assemblies.

          One report from Sankei News said that there are over 700 fuel assemblies stored in one pool at Fukushima. If they all caught fire, radioactive particles—including those lasting for as long as a decade—would be released into the air and eventually contaminate the land or, worse, be inhaled by people.

          “To me, the spent fuel is scarier. All those spent fuel assemblies are still extremely radioactive,” Dalnoki-Veress says.

          It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission product, including 30-year half-life Cs, would be released. The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.


          Let’s repeat this key point:

          “To me, the spent fuel is scarier. All those spent fuel assemblies are still extremely radioactive,” Dalnoki-Veress says.


          Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is Scientist-in-Residence at CNS and holds an MSc and PhD in high energy physics from Carleton University, Canada


          Nuclear Reactors, Spent Fuel, Neutrino Physics


          • Fast Eddy says:

            Let’s repeat this too:

            ‘It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.’

        • Pintada says:

          Dear Fast Eddy;

          The article that you posted was in Time, which doesn’t fill me with awe at the scientific undeniability of the article. Still, they didn’t really say anything with which I would disagree.

          “To me, the spent fuel is scarier. All those spent fuel assemblies are still extremely radioactive,” Dalnoki-Veress says.

          Fine. The spent fuel pools are radioactive. The zirconium on some of the rods (a small minority of the rods in storage) can catch fire and make a horrible mess. That mess will not be mitigated post BAU. A large area around the site will be radioactive for decades. Some of that radioactive soil will wash into nearby rivers contaminating them.

          Even the rather radical assumptions of Dr. Hui Zhang where he stated that 100% of the spent fuel would release its Cesium, and that Cesium would spread for 1300 or so kilometers is not an extinction event. If one stays west of the Mississippi and out of Arizona and California in North America, there is plenty of room to raise a few horses, and children without exposure to any radiation.

          The difference between the results Dr. Hui Zhang at Harvard got, and the results reported by Allan S. Benjamin and David J. McCloskey from Brookhaven comes from their initial assumptions. (Did you notice that they used the exact same model?) Clearly Dr. Hui Zhang assumed that there would be (something like) a terrorist pumping gasoline into the cooling pool. The Brookhaven folks assumed that the water went away leaving the material to heat on its own.

          There are some physical facts that you may not be accepting, or may have not been “exposed” ( LOL ) to:

          1. The zircaloy cladding fires of this type occur at temperatures well below the melting point of the U02 fuel. The cladding ignition point is about 900°C compared to the fuel melting point of 2880°C. Under no conditions possible in the spent fuel pool can the fuel melt.

          2. 316 stainless steel melts at 1375 degrees C, and so if there was a fire, the steel would remain intact, just like the spent fuel rods.

          3. Under no circumstances will the spent fuel rods reach criticality, and an atomic explosion is absolutely impossible.

          4. Since the pool must be empty before the rods can overheat, and since the pools are more-or-less open to the air, a steam explosion is extremely unlikely.

          (If you don’t get those four points, we have nothing further to discuss.)

          So, how is all of the spent fuel pools going dry post BAU an extinction level event?

          Yours in Physics,

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I guess no matter what evidence I post here you will never get it.

            But here we are again….

            ‘Clearly Dr. Hui Zhang assumed that there would be (something like) a terrorist pumping gasoline into the cooling pool’


            What he is assuming is that the pond is damaged to the point where the cooling water boils off and the rods are exposed to air — overheat and explode.

            Because that is what happens when fuel rods are not kept in cool water.

            Here is what happens specifically:

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

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

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

            So we have the equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs in one spent fuel pond…. there are 4000 spent fuel ponds around the world…

            They will no longer function post BAU

            14,000 x 4,000 = 56,000,000

            Extinction Event Imminent.

            • Pintada says:

              Dear Fast Eddy;

              ” … if the spent fuel gets too close, they will produce a fission reaction and explode with a force much larger than any fission bomb … 1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion …”

              [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FFG1NqKzCg&w=560&h=315%5D

              You simply don’t get the rather trivial physics. I recommend a couple basic courses in nuclear chemistry. Until then –

              Every time you post some mindless screed about spent fuel ponds exploding and causing an extinction event, you should expect to see a short explanation as to why it simply is not possible.

              Thank you for explaining,

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The thing is…

              When I do not have the expertise in an area — I look to others who have….

              And with respect to spent fuel ponds… i have zero expertise … so I have deferred to top scientists in the nuclear field — including one who specializes in spent fuel….

              I have read their research thoroughly …. and I have concluded that unless we are able to maintain the current state of the spent fuel pond facilities — which would require an uninterrupted supply of spare parts and electricity for many years….

              Then I will die of radiation poisoning soon after BAU collapses.

              That is if I am not killed by famine, disease, or acts of violence. first.

              Thanks for the video though

  23. Yoshua says:

    U.S. Technically Recoverable Oil

    The technically recoverable resources in 3 categories: conventional, unconventional, and oil shale. The conventional oil total 218.9 billion barrels.
    The unconventional total 240 billion barrels.
    The oil shale total 982 billion barrels.

    The United States uses roughly 7 billion barrels of oil per year.
    The United States has produced 175 billion barrels.

    • Vince the Prince says:

      If anything like that is burned, you can kiss the livable climate that has enabled civilization, otherwise BAU, goodbye….and that is pretty much a fact.

  24. Stefeun says:

    Almost 2 million layoffs in China coal and steel industries:

    “BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Monday it expects to lay off 1.8 million workers in the coal and steel industries, or about 15 percent of the workforce, as part of efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity, but no timeframe was given.

    It was the first time China has given figures that underline the magnitude of its task in dealing with slowing growth and bloated state enterprises.

    Yin Weimin, the minister for human resources and social security, told a news conference that 1.3 million workers in the coal sector could lose jobs, plus 500,000 from the steel sector. China’s coal and steel sectors employ about 12 million workers, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics.”
    More: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0W205X

    More details about the half million lay-offs planned in China rust-belt :


  25. pintada says:

    Dear Don Stewart;


    Thinking of you buddy,

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Pintada that was a very good presentation Dr.Battisti gave with grave facts and scenarios of future climate changes based on research from the Earth’s past and present team studies. We can expect a significant reduction of food output in the not too near future.
      That in itself will cause mayhem across the globe. I posted this to a denial individual, will see how they respond. I encourage others here to listen, we do not know what we will have to deal with even if BAU continues until 2050.

      • pintada says:

        Dear Vince the Prince;

        You are quite correct. (Or, we are both full of shit – what do i know? 🙂 )

        As Colorado Bob says, “Hell is coming to breakfast.”


        • Vince the Prince says:

          My own sense is those living in “Winners” countries, as Fast Eddy likes to term them, will squeak by somehow…those in loser states will continue to suffer greatly.
          Even in wining states, there will be sub-states that will be isolated and cut off by the PTB to insulate their lifestyles. Fast Eddie wonders why Ben Bernanke doesn’t own any property in NZ. Well, heaven forbid he endure what Fast Eddy is attempting to do.
          Believe me, these folks have other setups that we can hardly imagine. As Fast Eddy correctly stated those outside BAU will wish they are dead, just like millions plus in the world that never have experienced BAU and are eager to join the club.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The losers are losers because the winners have pillaged their resources therefore they do not enjoy the benefits of their resources – particularly oil.

            The winners will be in the same position as the current losers — in that they too will not longer enjoy the benefits of oil.

            Because there will be no oil post BAU. There will be no food. There will be 7.4 billion starving cold people.

            Post BAU the world of the losers while BAU is alive — would appear to be living in a paradise…

            This would be perceived as paradise by everyone post BAU


            • Vince the Prince says:

              Fast Eddie, with all due respect, I disagree. If YOU know about what we are facing THEY know also. Ted Turner OWNS more land greater than the state of Rhode Island!! I do not even consider him in the league of the PTB. We can not fanthom at all their plans.
              Sorry, but they had 8 plus years to ready themselves with unlimited resources. Ask yourself this, if you had unlimited resources wha t would you have done?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And what good will Ted’s land do him? 7.4 billion people will not respect a fence.

              Did you ever think that the Elders are doing nothing because nothing is to be done — because they know that when BAU goes energy goes … spent fuel ponds go… and we are all dead.

              Could it be that their plan is to keep BAU going as long as possible because beyond that there is extinction?

              There have been suggestions of luxury doomsday bunkers. So you sit in there for a year or two — then the food runs out ….

              And then you step out into a world of extreme levels of radiation ….

            • Stefeun says:

              note they don’t seem to be willing to catch the marabu (bird left side of the picture). They must be looking for metals etc.
              This comment is only because I didn’t see the bird at first glance…

            • Vince the Prince says:

              Fast Eddie, you did not answer my question. What would you to? You have already taken extreme extensive action with limited funds. Believe me, they are prepared and continue to modify and ready themselves. We already have your pic posts of some wealthy survival bunkers. The PTB make those look like Fast Eddy’s “Little House in NZ”

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’d do exactly what they are doing — I’d gather the best minds and work out how to keep BAU operating as long as possible ….. because when it stops I am dead.

              I’d also have a plan in place to ensure that I would have a Plan B that allows me to kill off my family with the least amount of suffering …. probably some sort of pill that you take before bed and you never wake up….

  26. in2bikeblog says:

    Taking the globalization down one level, will the USA have to re-evaluate its own Schengen policy? If the California drought continues, should Vermont have open borders? For those without documents? Some limits? Should there be a discussion?

    • Interguru says:

      In Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife this is the exact situation. A very severe long term drought grips the Southwest US. States are fighting for water rights not only in court but with helicopter gunships while a weakened federal government looks on. Texas has totally collapsed send streams of refugees toward Nevada, which has erected a border fence. The refugees are in camps supported by FEMA and the Chinese Red Cross. Here is a discussion of what they leave behind in their flight.

      “You can have any of the clothes the renters left. ….. There’s good stuff in them, high end designer and sh*t. … You can dress classy, Prada and Dolce and Gabbana, Michael Kors, Yan Yan.. I use it for rags mostly”

      On another level, right now, California should brace for economic refugees from Louisiana and Kansas whose economies have collapsed from application of Republican economic policies.

      • the current conflict in syria kicked off after a 4 year drought.
        farmers moved into cities in desperation.
        this led to violent clashes over available resources.

        Now—has anyone else noticed that the SW USA/CA is on the same latitude as Syria?—And is just as dry, if not moreso? And just like the Syrians, they live in an unsustainable environment?

        Right now the inhabitants of southern CA are effectively sustained by a cohesive and prosperous nation. But the South West is set to become drier and drier. The region was never meant to support cities of several million people
        When that prosperity begins to fail as the infrastructure collapses due to energy depletion, the dry southern states will be thrown on their own resources. When (not if) that happens, there will be an exodus of millions of people into other states to find sustenance of one sort or another, (jobs, food, water and so on) But those other states will have their own problems, and will begin to resist this, with increasing desperation and intensity, because the USA itself will be fragmenting into 5 or 6 autonomous regions.

        A weakened central state will not have the resources to prevent this, so those autonomous regions will take their own steps to prevent invasion by “migrants” from other areas. This will be violent.
        Statewide altruism will not exist, any more than altruism exists among the now-collapsing EU regions.
        When?—That’s anybody’s guess. But national cohesion exists only so long as national prosperity exists to allow it.
        And national prosperity exists only so long as there is sufficient energy available to allow the forces of nationhood to function. (military/police/civic services etc)—those services exist only through taxation, without incomes to tax, no public services can exist. It is not possible to print money in order to recycle it as taxation to pay for the army and the police forces, though numerous politicians and economists think you can, by calling it quantitative easing.
        And those forces primarily need fuel and food/water. When those supplies break down, government breaks down very rapidly. Without employment, police and the military tend to go self employed.
        Already fuel in an overall sense is becoming unaffordable. (the current oil glut is a short term anomaly). This will bring the global industrial/food system to a halt.
        With that scenario, it takes no leap of the imagination for the loonytoon politics of a Trump (or someone crazier by 2020), to drive the nation into total anarchy

        • Artleads says:

          Anarchy only means the absence of rulers. Strictly speaking, it is anything but crazy.

        • interguru says:

          California is working under 19th century laws that encourage the wasteful usage of water. 80% of the water is used by agriculture — very wastefully. If they adopted Israeli techniques they could probably cut it in half. In any case agriculture is only 2% of the state’s economy. Of the 20% used in cities, about half is used for landscaping.

          Their present problem is not so much shortage of water, but wasteful use of it.

        • InAlaska says:

          I think its a stretch to say that the Syrian civil war started over drought stricken farmers and desperation over resources. This was more an extension of the Arab Spring when pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa after the arrest and torture of some teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. After security forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing several, more took to the streets. The unrest triggered nationwide protests demanding President Assad’s resignation. The government’s use of force to crush the dissent merely hardened the protesters’ resolve. By July 2011, hundreds of thousands were taking to the streets across the country.
          Opposition supporters eventually began to take up arms, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas. It would be fair to say that the drought certainly didn’t help things.

          • Fast Eddy says:


            In their view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository.

            The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs.

            The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees.

            The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        “On another level, right now, California should brace for economic refugees from Louisiana and Kansas whose economies have collapsed from application of Republican economic policies.”

        I like that, because of course govt. is supposedly the problem, so the R’s in charge just keep cutting social services, highway repair and cutting taxes thinking that will solve everything. And of course the less the taxes are the higher the GDP goes because people have more to spend (which should translate to paying down debt – not), or at least that the hilarious rationale. Yet, CA with all of it’s high taxes is where those refugees flee to – lol. I love it. But at the same time the Dem president’s always get labeled with, “The defense dept. got gutted under so and so.” For some reason they don’t see money for defense coming from taxes, even though at the fed. level 700 billion is paid annually. Sure, it all makes sense somehow, meanwhile though if someone is a refugee from an R governed state (like Michigan that cannot replace it’s lead pipes) you can come to CA, but you must understand that we pay comparatively high taxes to keep the bridges and roads in good working order and we are investing in solar and wind.

    • daddio7 says:

      The US is a sovereign country, the states are not, best they can do is have very restrictive zoning restrictions on housing. Half of the land in the US is owned by the government. With it’s near unlimited borrowing power climate refugees can be housed on whatever parts the Environmentalist have not place off limits.

  27. bandits101 says:

    Amazing the stuff you come up with Stil. That’s perfect addendum to this latest post by Gail.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Thanks, bandits. Here’s an ironic twist, since many on this site know our predicament and have concern for the youngest one’s. Warren Buffett claimed today, “The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.”

      I wonder if he’s trying to juice the markets to get them back up to their previous highs so he can sell, then watch the bottom fall out.

      • I think this particular quote is taken from interview when he said something to the effect todays commoners have it better than Rothchild/Rockefellas of a century ago. Which is obviously very deceiving statement, he basically tried to spin it in terms of technology available, i.e. healthcare, gadgets available. But in terms of individual impact, power and access to influence market and national/localgov policies, or even consumption, this idea of Buffet is very preposterous and he knows it for sure..

        Also you have to take into account, that usually through times, the lower classes have very vague ideas about the luxuries and actual powers of the elite, they were secluded into palaces and forbidden cities. But this has changed very much with the information age, starting with print and now internet. You know what they have for wardrobe, for living arrangement, travel, leisure etc. So, the urge for rat race of little people to have it like upper middle class and in the same vein the rat race of upper middle class to strike it once and be elevated into the nirvana consumption of billionaire class is much more psychologically wearing and tearing on people than before. This will only add fuel to the future rearrangements.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          “So, the urge for rat race of little people to have it like upper middle class and in the same vein the rat race of upper middle class to strike it once and be elevated into the nirvana consumption of billionaire class is much more psychologically wearing and tearing on people than before.”

          Interesting point, world. Probably why so many people go deep into debt trying to chase the dream of having it all, which of course puts their budgets on a razor edge with unemployment meaning certain bankruptcy. But since bankruptcy laws have changed there are many types of loans that cannot be written off.

  28. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    Not sure if these graphs will pop up from this link, but there are 9 that don’t look so good.

  29. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Survivalists
    This afternoon, Saturday March 5th, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM CST, David the Good, author and founder of the TheSurvivalGardener.com, will be hosting an “Ask a Guru” session on the Facebook Homesteading/Survivalism Page.

    And on Sunday March 6th, from 10:00 to 11:00 AM CST, Marjory Wildcraft, founder of the Grow Network, will be hosting a session on the Facebook Homesteading/Survivalism Page.

    Don Stewart

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Thank you for the reminder and looking forward to the session. Hope our Fast Eddy shows up to rant about Roundup and Twich weed. Climate change will be the ultimate challenge to the gardener

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I wonder if radiation poisoning will kill twitch weed…. if so then my problems are solved.

  30. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    Here is an ‘oil centric’ explanation for what is happening right now:

    “Global oil demand is fairly stable during periods of growth and recession. Check out a world consumption oil chart and you will see this. Regardless of price. Even a huge crash like 2007 resulted in small demand destuction percentage wise.”
    Check out the EIA data set. Between 1960 and 2112 oil production, and consumption both rose by an average of 2.51% per year, from 7.66 Gb/yr to 27.80. The price rose from $2.88/ barrel to $94.05. Now where exactly is the stable in those numbers?
    All that you are relaying in your data is that the Supply/Demand issue for oil is BS. The price of oil has followed its production cost for 52 years. Until 2012 consumption matched supply regardless of price. That changed in 2012, and by 2014 production was out stripping demand; inventories started to increase, and are still increasing.
    You have inverted the relationship; the price of oil is determined by the strength of the economy; the strength of the economy is determined by oil’s ability to power it. Oil’s ability to power the economy is declining. Oil can no longer power enough economy to keep demand equal to its supply. The economy can no longer afford to pay the full production cost of producing oil.

    My comments:
    There are some interesting numbers in the ASPO discussion of Energy issues that I linked to earlier. The professor from NYC quotes these numbers, as I remember them:
    Cost of one worker occupying a square foot = 400 dollars per month
    Cost of the square foot = 40 dollars per month
    Cost of the energy per square foot = 4 dollars per month

    Those numbers indicate why landlords in NYC are unwilling to spend much money to economize on energy use. It’s down in the change. It may also help explain why demand and supply curves have been of little value in explaining the consumption and price of oil.

    So how can it be true that the rise or fall of oil prices and falling marginal value in oil barrels produced has the profound effect that the Response above indicates that it has?

    I don’t think I need to convince most of the readers here that energy really is important. But I think that the point is that both the worker and the square feet are also products of energy. When we say that the human worker is expensive, we mean that the human worker is costly in terms of the energy required by that worker. If the worker becomes less efficient in terms of energy use, or if the energy itself is consuming its own tail (e.g., the cost of production is increasing), then things go wrong which seem inexplicable to a landlord or to a worker who has been laid off or to a politician.

    I have tried to make the point before that these thermodynamic explanations assume that the methods for keeping the worker happy and the space adequate are ‘sticky’. That is, they are resistant to change. The workers are not going to start walking to work and the buildings will continue to pump water to upper floors and air will be conditioned.

    The intersection with debt works as follows. Promises to pay in the future prompt a commercial bank to loan one some money only so long as the bank perceives that there is a pretty good chance that the loan will be repaid, or alternatively that quick repossession can be a profitable strategy. In 2008, driving up I81 in Virginia, I passed a huge place called Repo City…repossessed double wides. Anybody with a pulse could get a double wide loan in 2005-8, and the businesses counted on a high default rate and the profitable reselling of the doublewide. I was at a meeting Thursday evening, and heard that the same strategy is now being used by Raleigh, NC landlords against poor people.

    Things get more complicated when the Central banks are creating reserves for the commercial banks. Suddenly, the banks have lots of money to loan, but few prospects for making profitable loans to people who want to pursue new productive enterprises. And so the commercial banks pursue things like high yield loans and bond issues to shaky prospects such as shale oil and gas.

    While the new supplies of shale oil and gas appear to be pumping more energy into the economy, they may actually be break even or losers. It may very well cost more energy (counting not only the energy expended at the well-head, but also the cost of the people and the infrastructure…see the cost of the labor and the cost of the floorspace in the NYC example above) than the energy delivered.

    It takes some fancy mathematics to construct a thermodynamic model which addresses both the well head cost and the total cost. That mathematics was not invented yet during the time of King Hubbert.

    I will add one more observation. A model based on the kind of holistic thinking I have just described is frequently unstable. It’s like the weather. Slight perturbations can send the whole thing spiraling in one direction or the opposite direction. Based on the current evidence, it seems that the direction is the Death of Oil. But I do not think we can absolutely rule out a Weimar-like crash of the financial system with a reset to a much lower energy society. A little study of complex systems will reveal that the butterfly effect is real.

    Don Stewart

    • Ed says:

      Yes energy use can be sticky. People in NY state will hold out until change is required and then they will leave to somewhere warmer rather than invest a fortune to fix their energy use problems.

    • Stefeun says:

      to somewhat relate your comment to physics, the energy is very often trapped in “energy potentials”, that empty themselves all at once when they are hit by an “exceeding drop” (Roddier uses the image of siphons).

      In turn, this sudden energy liberation can trigger other energy pockets, in a sort of avalanche, like in propagation of a forest fire, for example.
      The very first triggering event can indeed be very small, and orient the avalanche in one direction or the other.
      For the avalanche to occur and continue, there must be energy pockets (traps of potential) on its way. If the forest fire meets only already burnt trees, or any area where nothing can take fire, it stops. For snow it’s room underneath where to fall, etc..

    • Artleads says:

      “I have tried to make the point before that these thermodynamic explanations assume that the methods for keeping the worker happy and the space adequate are ‘sticky’. That is, they are resistant to change. The workers are not going to start walking to work and the buildings will continue to pump water to upper floors and air will be conditioned.”

      If a person sees their purpose of their life as some creative mission or other, building a better mousetrap for the fun of it, then they need no more money than it takes to do that. They use money to live (and maybe not even money); they don’t live to use money. But since no one cares what’s in individuals’ souls, they are “flattened out” into some sort of cog which money alone arbitrates. I fail to see why this has to be so.

      As to space, it is treated like a dead thing, just left there to take care of itself. Conversely, it could be repaired somewhat on a daily basis, and seriously, on an annual basis. The latter is how the oldest continually occupied building–the 1000 year old Taos Pueblo, built of mud, has survived lo these many years.

      Or maybe this old saying applies somewhat too: It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it that counts.

      • Stefeun says:

        “Or maybe this old saying applies somewhat too: It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it that counts.”

        Very true Artleads, and it applies to so many things. For example the name of a dish, or of a construction, doesn’t mean anything until you can see it in real (or maybe if you already know the creator).

      • Don Stewart says:

        I had a blindingly obvious thought about 40 years ago. My sister worked for Toyota, and was visiting. We were talking about cars. I said, out of the blue, that people didn’t really need cars, they just needed the feeling that they were looking for when they got in the car to go somewhere.

        How much does a feeling cost? Is it a minuscule amount of energy in the brain and body? Or is it a two ton truck barreling down a highway?

        My sister thought I was crazy. She says that human behavior is very hard to change.

        I’ve been reading Why Homer Matters. The author uses linguistic and literary and other resources to show how the Indo-Europeans on the steppes were so taken with two innovations. The first was the horse, and the second was the sail. Both of these multiplied human muscle power by orders of magnitude. People named their children after horses. And poets waxed poetic when the wind filled the sails and the boat made its way effortlessly across the sea. So what was the feeling that our distant ancestors experienced when they rode a horse or sailed a boat? And what are the modern equivalents in terms of generating that same feeling?

        If we lose the technology that gives us that feeling, can we simply substitute the millennia old technologies that gave us that feeling in the first place?

        I think art has a role to play….Don Stewart

        • Stefeun says:

          Ah, this feeling when perspective of getting more powerful becomes reality!… (much dopamine, at least in first times, due to reward bigger than expected).

          But if the survivors keep stuck with fire as we did, they’re dead again in advance.
          Unfortunately, I can’t see any other path… Maybe that’s where Art has a voice…?

        • Artleads says:

          For me, at least, art has plenty to do with it. But not in typical ways. “Conceptual Art” opens the door for art to be anything. In the art world, much of this is abstruse. Among work featuring more traditional art skills, I go for a simple approach. I use cardboard to create usable, practical space. But the freedom art provides means that I can do it in whatever way I like. I keep gaining insight to where I now think we can use cardboard to make anything that wood or metal or plastic can make. But I work from an art place rather than a craft place.

          I am QUITE certain that we can make the most glorious living spaces from cardboard, and that the result would not only be high architecture but also high art. The fascinating thing about how I conceive it is that the buildings can not only be moved around, but can be designed to fit so expertly within a built context that a “man on a galloping horse” wouldn’t know it was there. At the same time, it can triple the amount of living space that is now available.

          The problem? It takes forever to construct in this manner. As with permaculture, you need an enormous load of folks working on these projects, and working not for money but to make their own and their friends’ shelter. And for the sheer joy of creation.

        • Yoshua says:

          Since everything is energy there might be something “magical” in mastering energy… to master fire, horsepower, wind, hydro, solar, coal, petroleum and nuclear. When they detonated the first nuclear bomb some people laughed, some cried, but all where filled with some kind of a religious experience.

          • Artleads says:

            Well we use the energy now without any sense of awe, taking it for granted. I think that educational and art projects to reveal the awe in energy could make for changes in the mind.

            It’s a sort of gravity/energy equation, but I like to test how much weight paper can hold. It’s utterly fascinating how “strong” paper can be. We don’t play around with “just barely” energy means, but it could be fun to do so. You’d be amazed at how much children enjoy such challenges…

          • Fast Eddy says:

            It is pretty cool that when I push the gas pedal on my truck…. the vehicle moves…


        • daddio7 says:

          For your information my truck weighs 3 tons. The good feeling I got today was not having to walk 10 miles to Walmart to get dry Gatorade mix that only they have. That and 70 lbs of fertilizer from Lowe’s. Of course a smaller vehicle would have carried that but when I was farming that 4X4 had a lot of uses. It is 18 years old and paid for. I will never wear it out.

          • InAlaska says:

            Yes, Daddio, the embodied energy that you save by sticking with your old 3 ton is much greater than the fuel savings you might achieve over several years with a new smaller truck. Keep that sucker running as long as you can. Mine old farm truck is 14.

        • Artleads says:

          We’re so removed from wind (sail) power now that returning to it could seem like something brand new. The kinetics of sail and waves (if it’s not too much of either) could blow somebody’s mind. 🙂

      • xabier says:

        I believe the oldest inhabited house- and never once empty – in England is the Manor at Hemingford Grey, about 900 years old: what’s more, you can visit it! A famous author, Lucy Boston, lived there and it is still in the family. In her memoirs she wrote about the restoration she carried out and the curious atmosphere of the place. It’s near Cambridge.

        • Artleads says:

          The Manor of Hemingford Grey. If by some strange happenstance I ever visited England again, I’d try to see it.

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Seems we are headed for a Weimar-like crash, judging from the monetary policies being pursued.

  31. Stefeun says:

    Growth, growth or else, growth.
    Like a fly bumping again and again and again on the same closed window.


    This chart is from page 2 of “The Economic Report of the President”:

    Let me just paste its conclusion :
    “Slower global growth in 2015 was both a product of longer-term supply—slower productivity growth and slowing labor force growth—and demand factors—weak investment growth and longer-term demand slow- downs. In addition, though, continued cyclical weakness in many areas of the world combined with a sharp emerging-market slowdown produced the slowest global growth rate since the recovery from the global financial crisis began. The United States has been a relative bright spot in the world economy, gradually approaching full employment levels of output and generating substantial portions of global demand. It will be crucial that the world economy not return to a model prevailing prior to the crisis where too much of the global economy relied on the U.S. consumer. Still, forecasts are for these global headwinds to continue to weigh on U.S. growth in the near future—which is why both strengthening the U.S. economy to ensure it is more resilient while working with partners abroad on their growth is a key priority for the President.”

    • xabier says:

      Life’s a jest,
      I always thought it:
      And all these graphs,
      They sure do show it!

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      As we can see from the graph Stefeun posted, TPTB regarding economic indicators always err on the side of optimism, because that mental disposition is what generates growth by issuing more loans and business start ups. Unfortunately for those that buy into those projections the reality is unfortunately not playing along.

      • Stefeun says:

        Yes Stilgar,
        the govt budgets are also built upon these forecasts, if I’m right. So they have more money in beginning of the year, even if everybody knows (Hi RE!) it’ll end up with a deficit, as usual.
        Hopeless can-kicking.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Nice find.

    • Growth is important because the alternative is collapse. Unfortunately, those writing the report don’t understand the underlying situation. The proposed solution from the report doesn’t make sense. I like Figure 3.1!

      • Stefeun says:

        Yes Gail,
        I know it’s growth or death, and appearently for all together, as it goes,
        but what made me laugh is that they keep on calling for growth like incantations to a mysterious god, and with not a clue about what this “growth” is really made of.

        Human sacrifices have already started and are well on the uptrend, as well as sacrifices of whatever can be, but it still doesn’t work, even less and less indeed.

        The gods are still unsatisfied. Maybe we should make more sacrifices


  32. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    After Obama high fived himself over the new jobs report, some people in the article above put together some rather sobering news on employment.

    • That is an interesting report. This is a quote:

      What is even more troubling about the growth in “not in labor force” than its sheer size is that its coming from the worst segments, from an economic growth standpoint. Consider, from 2000 through 2015, the population of 25-54yr/old American’s rose 4.8 million while full time jobs among this segment fell by million. So, employment (job skills, savings, consumption, tax receipts, etc.) among the core of the US population has declined for 15yrs+. Much of the growth in “not in labor force” is coming from the core 25-54yr/old population…the very people the economy is dependent upon for it’s present and future vitality.

      On the flip side, the population of 55+yr/olds has risen by 23 million and all full time job growth has been among the 11 million older full time employees not retiring (due to insufficient savings, rising health costs, etc.).

  33. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Here’s some deflationary news from a guest on CNBC:

    “Deflationary tides are lapping the shores of countries across the world and financial bubbles are set to burst everywhere”, Vikram Mansharamani, a lecturer at Yale University, told CNBC on Thursday. “I think it all started with the China investment bubble that has burst and that brought with it commodities and that pushed deflation around the world and those ripples are landing on the shore of countries literally everywhere,” the high-profile author and academic said at the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi.

    • el mar says:

      I would like to draw yout attention to an article written by “Morpheus” in “das gelbe forum” (the yellow blog 2014).


      His argumentation is outstanding. Unfortunately I am not in the position to produce an adequate translation. The core aspect is, that the damage of urban infrastucture and the failure to finance the replacement will cause collapse at the end of an incredible sucsess story.

      Morpheus also assumes, that Mr. Merkel invited all the refugees to make spread Helicopter Money in Germany. Bcause “they” will spend the money. The Germans on the other side are expected to pay back debt. So the refugees will be the last vehicle to stimulate the economy.


      el mar

      • DJ says:

        Giving refugees money doesn’t guarantee consumtion. A part will be sent home, or just spent on an extended vacation back home.

        • Rural says:

          Sure, but even so, more consumption would be generated than giving that money to the rich, as is current practise all over The First World.

          If you ignore borders, and let go of “us and them” thinking, the fact that refugees send some of their money home directly, or by way of vacation, is a good thing as it puts money into the hands of even needier people.

          • money is a token of energy. It has no intrinsic value
            therefore, giving money to enable people to consume, is, in effect, giving people one form of (finite) energy in order to speed up the consumption of another form of (finite) energy.
            Thus, for this system to work indefinitely, (to fit economic models) we must somehow discover an infinite form of energy to back up our infinite rate of consumption.
            Oh–and this has to go on at an infinite rate of acceleration to provide infinite growth.

            And if somebody suggests solar panels and windfarms I shall feel obliged to fall on my sword.

            • bandits101 says:

              Lol get ready Norm, someone usually does. Over at peakoilbarrel that thinking and belief is rampant and with a more than liberal dosing of electric cars being thrown in.

            • Rural says:

              I started to wrestle with exponential growth after reading an article on population growth in National Geographic when I was seven. That was a very long time ago. I get it. If you think I am arguing for infinite growth, you are reading something that I am not writing.

              However, the degree of inequality we have today is a real problem. It gives wealthy individuals/corporations incredible control over society. Unless you have went up against an organization or an individual with an annual budget in the millions, you probably don’t realize just how out of balance the world is.

              Rather than making money up from thin air, as with debt, a *transfer* of existing wealth from rich to poor, does not require infinite growth. Arguably, by lifting people out of poverty, it could empower a new class that can contribute to political change. Drawing on the masses of wealth sitting idle is about the only trick I see left to keep things running for a while longer.

              But I would lose control of my bowels out of sheer shock if such a move were to be seriously discussed in North America.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That cannot happen anymore than telling a wolf it would better not to kill a defenseless lamb.

              Like any organism we are hardwired to compete for scarce resources — to fight to stay alive.

              It’s nice to cheer for the underdog but look what the underdog does — he quickly assumes the characteristics of those that he vanquished.

              Anyone trying to impose mandatory sharing of wealth (resources) will either be ruthlessly destroyed by those with the most to lose — or if he does win the battle — as we saw with communism — there emerged a have class and a have not class…

              There was never any equality…. there never can be… there never will be.

            • Rural says:

              Who said anything about equality? There is plenty of selfish justification to reduce poverty. Frankly, it is cheaper to pull people out of poverty than it is to treat the results of having a large impoverished population.

              Look, you can sit around moaning about how there is nothing we can do to stop The End or you can start coming up with actions to push The End back, reduce its impact, or prepare to better come out the other side.

              Eddy, I know you’ve structured your life with the expectation of a large calamity in the not-so-distant future, why don’t you spend more time writing about what you’ve done, rather than writing about how inevitable calamity is?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am not saying that spreading the wealth will not delay the end game — I have no idea what impact that would have on the situation – but I doubt it would be helpful…

              What I am saying is that it will not happen.

              Because those who have the power to do that would never do it. It would be like asking the lion who has just killed an antelope to chop it up and share the choice cuts with all the other hungry animals that are watching and waiting for the scraps.

              Have you not listened to wealthy people talk about money? Any mention of a roll back on one of their tax breaks brings roars of murderous anger…. flashing teeth…. out come the razor sharp claws….

              Imagine if a new president tried to ‘socialize’ America — you’d last about a week before you were assassinated.

              As for what I am doing — I am done what I am doing — garage full of food — guns ammo — 80 fruit trees — 200sqm of raised beds … piles of compost … some gold…. re-insulating and cladding the small old house we live in…. that’s pretty much it… makes me feel better — won’t help much because nobody else I know is doing this….

              I’m back on the road against next week with a Canada visit — probably the last time I will ever see that country again…

              Then I’ll be up in Hong Kong in April.

              Then I’m probably going to ski for a few weeks in July in Queenstown.

              Basically just biding my time until the end of the world….

            • Rural says:

              Eddy, you responded to the question I actually asked, then fell back into defeatism. Still… Woo-hoo!

              So your preparation aren’t going to help much because you are surrounded by the unprepared. Seems obvious that the best thing you can do for yourself is to change that. Surely, there is a group of some kind that you can plug into.

              A couple of year ago, I was pretty down about where things were headed, mostly because the economy in my locale had begun to collapse. A comment by Gail about the future human population falling into the hundreds of millions, jarred me into action.

              Since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to others who are practising a skill that will be useful in a world where the cost of energy is very high. I didn’t expect to find much locally as I’m in an oily and conservative town. To my surprise, there were more folk that shared my thinking (at least in some respects) than I can keep up with.

              My experience is that naturalist and environmental groups are pretty rich with forward thinkers. Gardening groups tend to have at least a few folk that are preparing for the worst. Heck, even the local R/C nerd group has a couple of worried members.

              I’ve been connecting with folk that have skills that I don’t, and trying to get them to talk to one-another. It’s not a fast process, but I’m slowly building those connections.

              It seems more useful than sitting around and playing video games. Ultimately, it might not be, but it seems that way.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              7.4 billion people – no food. Reach out to whomever you like – it won’t help. Because like flies to shit …. if you have food stockpiled and a means to produce food… the hordes (and friends and famil( will come — and they will not be asking.

              Then of course there are the spent fuel ponds.

              So no – I am doing nothing more — I am in Seoul at the moment waiting on a flight to Canada later this morning — I have some final goodbyes to be said there.

              I was watching The Big Short on the flight here — I read the book but I actually thought the movie was better — that does not happen often.

              Funny… to this day … few recognize that the subprime crisis was manufactured by the Elders in an effort to keep the economy from collapsing…. evidence of this is that they are doing the exact same things again right now ….

              Yet nobody asks the question — why blow up the world economy…. what do the FEAR…..

              Finite World is the only public place that offers a true understanding of the problem

            • Rural says:

              If the Finite World is the only public place that offers a true understanding of the problem, why are so many folk arguing with you here?

              Reaching out to folk that are adept at growing food, especially to hone my own skills, may very well help, especially if the collapse is several years-long, as is almost certainly the case.

              Look, I’m living in a town that has had the rug pulled out from under it. The oil and gas industry must have accounted for 25% of employment. It’s now half that and those that are left are at two-thirds time on average, but it took almost two years to fall that far. It has spread to other sectors of the economy, but slowly as well. The construction and real estate sectors were gang-busters last year and are only now getting quiet.

              We’re talking about a small rural economy here. A larger economy will take longer to really begin to shrink. (The three nearest cities are feeling the pinch, but not nearly so bad.)

              There will be years to adjust. Years, but not decades. Which is why investing in that adjustment now still makes sense.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              No it’s even worse than that … of all the people who contribute to FW I can count on one hand — maybe two hands — the number of people who understand the nature of the problem and more importantly — what the implications are

              The rest – including you — are living in Delusistan.

              You are incapable of supporting your positions because they cannot be supported.

              1. Nearly all ag land on the planet is farmed using petrochemicals – the soil grows nothing without them. Therefore you fools who believe your gardens will save you will be overrun and killed and your food torn from the ground and eaten. Think if it as the Global Garden Raid. You are wasting your time.

              2. Then we have the 4000 spent fuel ponds. Let’s call them Extinction Ponds.

              You cannot argue with these two issues — so feel free to continue to spew diarrhea…

            • Rural says:

              You can count on one to two hands the number of people that agree with you? Even on FW? You should probably reflect on why that might be.

              All of your dire predictions are predicated on a fast and near total collapse, but there is very little historical support for a fast collapse scenario. All out war could do it, but that’s about it. I agree that we have set ourselves up for a larger and quicker fall than any time in history, but not nearly enough for your scenario to play out. I all asleep each night with the assurance that I’ll be seeing your posts here for years.

              So what if nearly all agricultural land is farmed using petrochemicals? Are petrochemicals going to become unavailable over night? No.We will have years, probably decades, to ramp down their use and adapt our agriculture and menu. Most of my land gets nothing in the way of petrochemical inputs, and yet it grows plenty of food. (Some of my land sees inputs in the form of bought feed for winter, and responds very well to those nutrients, but more than 90% of my land gets nothing and still produces about 25000 pounds of meat each year.)

              Yes, we have 4000 spent fuel ponds. So what? After one year, the fuel is cooled to the point where it can be stored in dry casks, although it usually gets stored in the pool for at least a decade. Exactly how will this fuel reach criticality and destroy us all?

              Diarrhea? You’d best check your toilet, sir.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘One problem with so-called renewable energy is that it can’t be expected to outlast the system as a whole, unless it is part of some off-grid system with backup batteries and an inverter. Even then, the lifetime of the whole system is limited to the lifetime of the shortest-lived necessary component: solar panels, battery backup, inverter, and the device the user is trying to run with the system, such as a water pump. There are currently many stresses on our economic system. We can’t be certain that the system will last very long. When the system starts collapsing, it is likely to take grid-connected electricity systems with it.’

              I have a powerful ally on the fast collapse team… along with a handful of contributors who ‘get it’

              You are not one of them.

              As for dry casking you are wrong – (what else is new)

              Again my cousin at the nuclear plant confirmed what I already knew – 10 years before you can cask spent fuel.

              Maybe some day if you are able to lift your game you too can join the Doom Dream Team here in Realitystan… until then enjoy your time in Delusistan.


            • Rural says:

              Ya, that paragraph caught my eye when I first read it. The fact is that Gail is only right if it is the case that one can’t replace the failed component. I maintain that that point is a long way away, long enough that alternative components will be in place.

              Your cousin, although certainly a wonderful reference backing your opinion, is mistaken on dry casking. According to NRC, spent fuel can be dry casked in as little as a year. In practise, spent fuel typically spends 10-20 years in cooling pools, but this isn’t strictly necessary, and is done to ease removal to dry storage.

              However, you completely miss my point. You repeatedly state that there is risk of stored spent fuel killing us all. If there was a risk of that fuel reaching criticality, you would have a point, but that risk becomes vanishingly small a very short time after shutdown. See this graph to understand why.

              There is a risk of radiation release, as we saw from Fukishima, but even if all 4000 spent fuel storage facilities had a worst-case release event simultaneously, the loss of life would be noteworthy, but hardly the end of mankind.

              But I am curious what other scenarios you see leading to a fast collapse. The only plausible ones I’ve come across are all-out war or a pandemic, but I’m open-minded and wouldn’t mind adding to that list.

              Look, I addressed your points, and did so with no name calling or infantile insults.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The 2008 NRC guideline calls for fuels to have spent at least five years in a storage pool before being moved to dry casks. The industry norm is about 10 years.[9][2] The NRC describes the dry casks used in the US as “designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes, and other unusual scenarios.”[9]


            • Fast Eddy says:

              Here you go:

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

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

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

              A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel.

              To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7]

              Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).


              Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire, which in turn could further heat up the fuel until it suffers damage. Such an event could release large amounts of radioactive substances, such as cesium-137, into the environment. This would start in more recently discharged spent fuel, which is hotter than fuel that has been in the pool for a longer time. A typical spent fuel pool in the United States holds several hundred tons of fuel, so if a fire were to propagate from the hotter to the colder fuel a radioactive release could be very large.

              According to Dr. Kevin Crowley of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, “successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material.”[12] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the September 11, 2001 attacks required American nuclear plants “to protect with high assurance” against specific threats involving certain numbers and capabilities of assailants. Plants were also required to “enhance the number of security officers” and to improve “access controls to the facilities”.

              The committee judges that successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material. The committee concluded that attacks by knowledgeable terrorists with access to appropriate technical means are possible. The committee identified several terrorist attack scenarios that it believed could partially or completely drain a spent fuel pool and lead to zirconium cladding fires. Details are provided in the committee’s classified report. I cannot discuss the details here.


              If any of the spent fuel rods in the pools do indeed catch fire, nuclear experts say, the high heat would loft the radiation in clouds that would spread the radioactivity.

              “It’s worse than a meltdown,” said David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists who worked as an instructor on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan. “The reactor is inside thick walls, and the spent fuel of Reactors 1 and 3 is out in the open.”

              If you don’t cool the spent fuel, the temperature will rise and there may be a swift chain reaction that leads to spontaneous combustion–an explosion and fire of the spent fuel assemblies. Such a scenario would emit radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

              Pick your poison. Fresh fuel is hotter and more radioactive, but is only one fuel assembly. A pool of spent fuel will have dozens of assemblies. One report from Sankei News said that there are over 700 fuel assemblies stored in one pool at Fukushima. If they all caught fire, radioactive particles—including those lasting for as long as a decade—would be released into the air and eventually contaminate the land or, worse, be inhaled by people. “To me, the spent fuel is scarier. All those spent fuel assemblies are still extremely radioactive,” Dalnoki-Veress says.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission product, including 30-year half-life Cs, would be released. The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.


              Today there are 103 active nuclear power reactors in the U.S. They generate 2,000 metric tons of spent nuclear waste per year and to date have accumulated 71,862 tons of spent fuel, according to industry data.[vi] Of that total, 54,696 tons are stored in cooling pools and only 17,166 tons in the relatively safer dry cask storage.


            • You can expect small changes at first, but gradually they get bigger. For example, the failures later become the banks and the electric generating company.

          • DJ says:

            If all that is needed is more consumption, then why not give everyone a limitless credit card? Or better yet make everything free? Problem solved.

            • Rural says:

              Don’t get me wrong, over-consumption is a problem… Actually, I’d say that it is THE problem. However, under-consumption can also be a problem. Take water for example. If you aren’t using enough water for basic hygiene and your basic needs, that is a problem that can spill out to society. Looking more broadly, poverty is an environmental problem. Ending poverty eliminates a large number of environmental and social problems, like population growth.

              My argument is that, if we have a wealth transfer program, it should be from rich to poor and not the other way around, as is currently the case.

            • still the fantasy of helicopter money persists—almost like a virus running rampant through a community.
              Money has no intrinsic value.
              Money has value only within an environment where there is sufficient raw energy input to back it up.
              Or explained more simply:
              You do a week’s work.
              You get paid for that work.
              Do you
              A….Eat the money directly
              or B…Exchange that money for food and other goods?

              If the answer is B—then you are exchanging your labour for the labour of the food producer (or whoever)–ie, your money is a unit of exchange. One unit of labour for someone else’s unit of labour. Or you save up 000s of your units to buy something really expensive.

              Now—if your money is simply printed and handed out in whatever quantity is necessary—then it ceases to become a unit of exchange. It would have the same value if it was printed on rolls and hung on lavatory walls.
              You take it to the food producer, who is aware that is “free” money. So effectively you are expecting the food producer to give his product away for nothing. You wave a wad of notes in his face, still he refuses to hand over what you want. Same applies to say–a car, a tv set, a house, anything.
              but suppose the food producer does take your money—then goes to the government to have it redeemed for real money.
              That doesn’t work either, because governments don’t have any money other that what is derived from taxation.
              Sooooo—-as taxation is derived as a proportion of income, and income is provided by throwing bundles of notes from helicopters, then the government would have to tax its own free issue money.
              Would that be before they hand it out—or after?

              Free money does NOT stimulate the “economy” it grinds it to a halt, because ultimately everyone would be expected to work for nothing

            • Stefeun says:

              Good point, Norman,
              and clearly explained.
              I doubt the “printers” understand the underlying mechanism, but for sure they expect it to buy them some time.
              As you point out, the big scale effects are felt “eventually”, lots of things can happen, meanwhile (that may help blur the picture).

            • I think you are right. We can try to trick the system a bit, but we cannot expect the approach to really work.

            • Rural says:

              Yes, the fact that most world economies are debt-based is a complication…if not the central problem.

              I think we are too far gone for anything short of an economic collapse to save us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take measures to mitigate the problem and prepare for the future.

    • Deflation seems to happen when bubbles burst. And then there is the problem with all of the collapsing debt, when commodity prices fall below the level needed to make extraction profitable. Collapsing debt makes deflation worse.

  34. Fast Eddy says:

    Further to the Israeli General’s Son this is another outstanding documentary explaining the nature of that conflict:


    You won’t see it broadcast by the MSM because the Elders don’t want you to see this

    • bandits101 says:

      Ssshh, if “The Elders” find out you watched it when they specifically demanded you do not, they will cut your nuts out.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        No … they don’t mind … in fact they would never actually censor or remove such content … because doing that would potentially expose them … much better to make sure that it never makes it to the MSM …. which it hasn’t of course…. even though it is the best explanation of the Israeli-Palestine conflict that exists…. it has particularly strong credibility because Peled’s father was a major figure in the stealing of Palestinian land….

        You must refresh yourself on the Protocol that concerns the control of the media…. never use outright censorship:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig5sTehZqZA 1:34:40

        • bandits101 says:

          You should listen to yourself……”never use outright censorship”……”outright” now that leaves a lot to define. Like thay can have censorship but covertly…..more to define. You would even have to define the actual meaning of censorship as it applies for use by “The Elders”.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Let’s try an experiment – open google – then type in Israeli General’s son.

            Do you see a result from CNN, BBC, Washington Post, NY Times, CBS, NBC, or any other MSM source?

            One would expect that a book from a very prominent credible person on a very relevant topic such as this — would be reviewed or discussed in the editorial sections of the MSM.

            Have you ever seen Mr Peled appear on any of the news talk shows in any country? Try a video search.

            I’ll save you the bandwidth — the answer is no — and no.

            You will see results of course — for obscure sources — sites that would have very little traffic.

            It’s not as if someone is going to search ‘Israeli General’s Son’ because they would not know this book exists.

            The end result is that very few people would be aware of this book.

            That is how you censor – without appearing to censor.

            Surely you should understand this given you appear to understand that the end of the world is imminent due to the end of cheap oil.

            Gail’s blog is allowed to exist. Many articles are published on other blogs.

            But why is Gail not invited onto CNBC? Why does the MSM not run editorial articles expounding the same theories that are so well-argued in FW articles?

            Obviously it is because certain topics are not for broad consumption because the controllers of the MSM have determined for whatever reason – off limits.

            We had an article on here the other day from Politico — it explained in great detail the Syria conflict — it demonstrated how the US created ISIS — that ISIS is lead by former generals of Saddam’s Sunni army — it also stated that the Syrian war was all about replacing Russian gas with Qatari gas.

            However if you read the MSM that is not the narrative at all. You are fed an endless series of lies and bull shit.

            Again – for whatever reason the controllers of the MSM have determined it is not in their interests to let the sheeple know the truth.

            Do you need more examples of how you can censor without actually censoring?

            I can lead you to water – again and again and again …. but I cannot force you to drink.

            Look – the water is right in front of you — you just have to open the cap and take a drink…. pick up the bottle …. turn the plastic thing on the tap counter clockwise … tip the bottle up to your mouth …. and drink…



            • Ed says:

              Google is part of the system. It censors sites, pushes site up and down to tell the story TPTB want told.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Feel the POWER!

              Try a search for Sudents Banned US universities protesting Israel…. a rather large story… NOT covered by the MSM….

              Israel’s War on American Universities

              The banning of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Northeastern University in Boston on March 7, along with a university threat of disciplinary measures against some of its members, replicates sanctions being imposed against numerous student Palestinian rights groups across the country. The attacks, and the disturbingly similar forms of punishment, appear to be part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative.

              Northeastern banned the SJP chapter after it posted on campus replicas of eviction notices that are routinely put up on Palestinian homes set for Israeli demolition. The university notice of suspension says that if the SJP petitions for reinstatement next year, “No current member of the Students for Justice in Palestine executive board may serve on the inaugural board of the new organization” and that representatives from the organization must attend university-sanctioned “trainings.”

              In 2011 in California, 10 students who had disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Michael Oren, then the Israeli ambassador to the United States, were found guilty, put on informal probation and sentenced to perform community service. Oren, an Israeli citizen who has since been hired by CNN as a contributor, has called on Congress to blacklist supporters of the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and to prosecute those who protest at appearances by Israeli officials.


            • bandits101 says:

              If it happened, it’s “the elders”, if it didn’t happen, it’s “the elders. A great deal of people attribute events like you attest to their God…….”God works in mysterious ways”, “everything happens for a reason” and so on. Similar to you, very similar to you they suffer from confirmation bias. Their God, or in your case the elders predict the past. Look, I could ask you to give me ten specific predictions of their designed future events and I would allow you to get two out of ten right and call you a winner. But you know what, your confirmation bias affliction is so imbedded, you would undoubtably say they “changed their mind” if a prediction didn’t eventuate.

              Anyway why don’t you give us a list of ten specific near future events (so your work can be judged), the elders will instigate or even influence. You can have eight failures……

    • InAlaska says:

      Wow, these Elders must really be potent…if they can’t stop this video from getting out on the internet. No wonder things are a mess.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Words of wisdom from someone who continues to believe that America’s foreign policy is driven by a desire to establish democracies around the world and to life people out of poverty….

        The matrix is incredibly powerful. It’s power source is the billions who do not even know it exists.

        Who even when the workings of the matrix are explained to them guffaw like buffoons and go back to chewing grass.

        • InAlaska says:

          Wait, I can hear the next put down. Wait for it…..USA! USA! USA! This is what you say when anyone challenges your paranoia. I simply suggested to you that the Elders must not be that powerful otherwise the story wouldn’t be all over the internet. Your only response: somehow I can’t see the “Matrix” (you have a Hollywood mindset) in front of me. Go back and put on your tinfoil hat, Freddie.

  35. MM says:

    Is the recovery under way ?
    Here is an interesting article what is happening in the oil price area:
    Was there not some talk about the frackers having their asset / debt ratio reviewed by the banks this month? Higher poil prices could indeed lead to more lending or to people buing shares and pushing the price up for the frackers. Means they have more collateral for more lending.
    Interesting move. How high will it go, any bets ?
    The ETP Model would suggest not much more than 60…

    • Interesting article! I am not sure how banks manage to get the prices om oil temporarily higher, but maybe their buing position allows them to do this. If this “short squeeze” works, it is a smart move for banks.

  36. Yoshua says:

    After only scratching the surface to oil I’m starting to understand how complex the matter is. I don’t envy anyone trying to understand oil and making predictions on the future of oil. I’ve heard that it’s easy to reach space… but oil is a different matter.

  37. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    I’ll let you decide for yourselves the validity or lack thereof regarding the above article’s assertion of BOJ intervening on Feb. 11 to help raise oil price. Even if true, it’s hard to know if that will do much in the long run, but hey, the global economy is at a point now in which its pulse needs to be take regularly to determine its viability, so anything to nudge it along is job #1 for CB’s.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Good article – thanks

    • I don’t know whether Bank of Japan’s actions are enough to make difference. Perhaps they help, when taken together with China’s recent action to try to stimulate its economy. We cannot expect prices to go straight down. As counties intervene to try to fix their economies, the effects may indeed raise oil prices. Anything that acts to raise “demand” will act to raise oil prices.

  38. Vince the Prince says:

    Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars.

    This slow motion land subsidence – more than one foot a year in some places – is not expected to stop any time soon, experts say, nor will the expensive repair


    Drought has spawned a well-drilling boom, with some tapping ancient aquifers 3,000ft down.

    In wet years, groundwater provides about 40% of water used in California, but in times of drought, groundwater can amount to 65% of the state’s water supply.

    Decades of over-pumping have destroyed thousands of well casings and buckled canal linings. To keep water flowing through low spots, irrigation districts raise the sides of sagging canals so they can increase the water level and maintain a gravitational flow.

    As a result, at least one bridge now sits below the waterline. Chris White, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District in Los Banos, said replacing it is expected to cost $2.5m. Rebuilding another canal recently cost $4.5m.

    Putting a grand total on damage from subsidence in California is tricky because irrigation districts don’t often single out repairs required by subsidence from general upkeep, said Borchers, who estimates long-term costs as being “probably in the billions”.


    “A tremendous amount is being wasted,” says John Gage, a founder of Sun Microsystems who’s on the advisory board of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. “We haven’t even begun to accurately quantify it yet, but we know, for example, that about a million gallons of water a month leaks from the old terra cotta pipes at Cal’s botanical gardens. Leakage is a significant contributor to California’s water dilemma. The infrastructure is old, cracked, damaged by quakes. It’s a mess.”

    • Thanks!

      Back when we had a drought in Georgia (USA), the university near where I live was watering its landscape, apparently ignoring city rules. The university put up a sign explaining its actions, “Using Well Water.” What makes drawing down the aquifer any better? It is worse in California, where it is clear the aquifer is depleting.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Gail, the rich and powerful will always overlook restrictions. In North Carolina a severe drought happened in 2002. Then Governor Easley imposed sharp reductions in water use throughout the State. It later came out that the Governor OK’d that his Golf course had access to creek water to keep the greens, well green. Seems his membership fee was waived as a member of $50,000.
        Another example here of celebrities watering lawns in severe drought

        BTW, California’s infrastructure is buckenling under the movement of the ground level.
        Doubt there will be funds to repair/replace the failed network.

    • Rural says:

      I just finished a course in water issues as part of a program on renewable energy and conservation. The situation in California was covered in some depth, but anthropogenic subsidence was only mentioned briefly. Subsidence in coastal areas is particularly troublesome, as it allows salt water to move further inland where it can percolate into groundwater, turning it brackish.

      But if you think the situation in California is bad, you should have a look at the Middle-East and North Africa where surface water is fully utilized and ground water is running out. China and India are on the brink of a rude surprise as well. Their situation is similar but not yet as advanced.

      There are ways to make water use more efficient (ie. stop subsidizing water use for low value uses, like agriculture (and I say that as an agricultural practitioner)), but there are just too many people in areas where water is tight. Ground water bought us some time, but allowed us well into over-shoot territory. Globalization also bought some time, but I agree with Gail that it is reaching its limits.

  39. MG says:

    Parliamentary Elections 2016 in Slovakia:

    As usual, the winning party is the party that represents mainly the retired people (pensioners), just the name of the party and the leaders change:

    In the year 1988, it was the party named HZDS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S3wAmOV19U
    In the year 2016, it is the party named Smer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GMH5XqYJp8

    In the 90s, during the era of the post-Soviet collapse and transformation, there was also one interesting successfull party, called ZRS, representing the low-paid workers, that was also a part of the government:


    The third most important party during the 90s was SNS:


    The parliamentary elections are the only chance for the poor groups of the society to get their share. And they always use this chance. But these growing groups get less and less (the raising of the state pensions in the election year of 2016 by the SMER party was only symbolic – EUR 1,90, EUR 1,80 and EUR 1,20 for the respective types of the state pensions). The deflationary forces affecting the prices and the very low growth of the wages are the reason.

    • DJ says:

      Once 50% of the voters mostly lives on some kind of welfare there is no turning back.

      • daddio7 says:

        Simply invested in a DJA index fund or gold my SS contribution would be worth $700,000. People who earned an average income ( I did not) would have even more. Pensions and SS are not welfare for most people.

        • MG says:

          …and the private pension funds do not earn much and some are even loosing…

          I have joked with my friend who told my that his private pension fund is actually more successful and mine is loosing: Well, when your guys are better gamers, then, in the end, you will have to share your pension with me… He understands the situation (and his wages are already low) and said: Well, there will not be much to share…

          The people usually do not understand the thing about the sharing of the output of the economy. That is why the deflationary forces are prevailing: too many people with low incomes.

        • DJ says:

          I’m not sure if you are suggesting the average american has more than $700000 in gold and equity, and that SS is a large bank account where the money you’ve been forced to save is stored.

          If that is the case USA is far from “50% living on some kind of welfare”. That’s good.

          I’m not suggesting that any country is there yet, only that when/if it happens there is no way back to mostly self-supporting voters.

        • Kate Tritos says:

          All of these words are key to entilement psychosis. Each is a representation that has fundamental flaws.


          • daddio7 says:

            In my case I had a business that carried a lot of debt at 10% interest. The contribution and interest cost on that contribution was about $500,000 for the 25 years I had that business until I lost it in 1995. Even the most modest interest combined with the SS tax I paid since then would easily be $750,000.

            • Kate Tritos says:

              Well lets examine the pathology of your syntax on a superficial level. There are much deeper flaws to your syntax but we have to start somewhere.

              “In my case I had a business that carried a lot of debt at 10% interest. ”
              “had” is a possessive indicating ownership but in the same sentence you confirm the real owner was the bank.
              “The contribution and interest cost on that contribution was about $500,000 for the 25 years I had that business until I lost it in 1995.”
              Here the word contribution is used twice . A contribution on a contribution? Your syntax is so distorted here that I am unable to even evaluate it specifically. Generically contribution is one of those words that actually mean the exact opposite like a huge logger named Tiny. Your “contribution” was not voluntary nor did you have any say in which way the “contribution” was used. That the medium that the contribution was based on a medium that only basis for its existence is the use of force is a secondary pathology not directly related to your surface pathological syntax. That that medium is debt from its creation a deficit from the beginning that other deficits are created with is quite a knot also. Thats the way these things are clustered a knot within a knot, That you stand any chance of recovering even a small portion of the medium that you “contributed” is the possibility of a windfall. If you had a business any where in the world and had to pay protection money to the a local mob would you be complaining that had you had that money and it had “invested it” (perhaps in Enron? NEWC? ) should be yours? That every form of “investment” is in fact a ponzi is not addressed in your assertions. That enough physical precious metals do not physically exist for all “participants” making “contributions” to “invest” in is not addressed by your assertions.

              The fact that the generation ostensibly funding your SS checks now has exactly zero possibilities of recouping any of their “contribution” is not addressed in your assertions of the morality of your receiving those funds. In fact every statement you make on this forum demonstrates profound demonstration of entitlement psychosis. I thank you for your continued demonstration of your particular flavor. Your taste for that flavor is shared by many others although not the majority.

              Your demonstration of entitlement psychosis is behavior that is displayed by the vast majority of humans though many do not care for your particular flavor. Your consistent display demonstrates the complete sanity when measured by normalcy bias and complete insanity when measured by any objective evaluation. I thank you for your continued demonstrations of why our species does not deserve any fate than the one it will very quickly reap and thus demonstrating the justice of the universe.

        • SS contributions are pretty much spent as they are collected. (Exception: there was an attempt to set aside a buffer, because everyone could see baby boomers were coming down the line in not too long.) The US government is funded on a calendar year payment basis, so as it turns out, even the intended set-aside was actually spent.

          The past run-up in the stock market was a one-time event funded by fossil fuels. It won’t happen in the future. The future of the stock market is down, if the economy collapses.

          As a practical matter, there is no way government provided benefits can be funded by the stock market–the stock market is not nearly large enough to support this–Quite a large share of stocks and bonds currently outstanding (50%?) support private pensions.

          So forget about what you think might have happened to the funds, if they were invested. Just think of the contributions as a different form of tax that has long since been spent.

    • MG says:

      Parliamentary Elections 2016 in Slovakia are finished: no winners, all are loosers. The winning party Smer (representing the pensioners) got the highest numbers of votes as awaited, but the rest of the society is so much fragmented (as the results of the elections show), that there will be a problem to form a new government. This is the implosion: everybody fights for its particular interests, but on one wins.


      I would like to point out to the fact, that more than the solutions (which, in fact, no one knows), the name of the party (i.e. marketing strategies) create the election results. The names of the parliamentary parties after the 2016 elections in English are following: The Direction, Freedom and Solidarity, The Ordinary People, The Bridge, We Are Family, Our Slovakia, The Network.

      If a party has got an obsolete name, it can not be successful anymore. This most obsolete word seems to be “democratic”. (This word has got a negative connotation in Slovakia, as it was contained in the names of the parties that were not able to find satisfactory solutions after the post-Soviet collapse.)

      • MG says:

        … and also The Slovak National Party is in the Parliament, too.

        The rise of national and various not-traditional parties seems to be completely in line with the ending globalization.

        • MG says:

          I would like to point to one especially “interesting” party, which is “We Are Family”. It is a party of a famous Slovak enterpreneur Boris Kollar, that was created a few months ago. This enterpreneur is known for his polygamy: he has got 9 children with 8 women.

    • I think parties representing pensioners always have an advantage. This is why it is so difficult to reduce pensions.

      • DJ says:

        Everyone is gonna be a pensioner some day. Or so they believe. And for every year more and more voters are.

  40. Yoshua says:

    The U.S has 40 billion proven barrels of oil in place (conventional and unconventional).
    The U.S is consuming 7 billion barrels of oil a year.
    That is 6 years of oil independence.

    The U.S has 400 trillion cubic feet of gas in reserves in total.
    The U.S consumes 25 trillion cubic feet of gas a year.
    That is 16 years of gas independence.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘The U.S has 40 billion proven barrels of oil in place (conventional and unconventional).’

      There is plenty of oil remaining — the problem is that it is too expensive to extract.

      • Yoshua says:

        Yes, now I see that the Proved Reserves change year after year according to production, extensions, new fields, new reservoirs, technology and price.

        The Proved Reserves are more organic in growth and decline than I thought.

    • That proven independence only exists if it is possible to keep increasing debt fast enough so that oil and gas prices can rise above the cost of production. Without some way of pumping prices back up to an adequate level for profitability, those proven reserves are simply illusory.

  41. Fast Eddy says:

    More Ghost Cities on the Way!!!

    This is fantastic news — it would appear that China might be able to ride to the rescue again and reverse the collapse in commodity prices:

    Stockpiles of refined copper in Shanghai extended their advance to a record as the difference between domestic and foreign prices encouraged imports by China, the world’s biggest consumer. Inventories tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange are higher than stockpiles monitored by the London Metal Exchange for the first time in a more than a decade.

    Inventories followed by the Shanghai bourse jumped 11 percent this week to a record 305,106 metric tons, equivalent to around two weeks of consumption in China. Reserves in London have declined for 11 days to the lowest level in more than a year.

    Copper has gained 4 percent this year in London amid a surge in metals prices on expectations that China may introduce a new round of stimulus to bolster the slowing economy. The metal for three-month delivery rose as much as 1.6 percent to $4,933 a metric ton Friday, heading for an increase of around 4 percent this week, the best such performance since September.
    Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

    • doomphd says:

      I wonder, if by making copper wire you have taken the ore concentrated into bullion out into a larger volume, say a building or a roadway lighting system. Technically, you have increased entropy by volume distribution of the copper, but, by making the copper into retrievable wire (as opposed to in paint), you can get it back into a concentrated, bullion form with little effort, and thus beat entropy. Entropy is increased when the copper wire stays in place, or left as distributed ore. Using energy, you have decreased entropy. By making copper retrievable, you have also decreased “potential” entropy. It’s a trick, like tying some string to a quarter to get some gum from a vending machine, then pulling hard to retrieve the quarter.

      Maybe I need some more coffee.

      • I wouldn’t count on getting copper wire back. You need a whole system in place to get it back from its use, then heat it, and make it into something else. Also, are you sure that the new system can get along without the copper wire?

    • Maybe we are “saved” for a short time!

  42. pintada says:

    Dear Finite Worlders;

    You may have seen this already, if so, my apologies. I don’t know whether to read it with a Spanish or Italian accent, but the points made are worth working through it. 🙂 It relates directly to dissipative systems discussion, and has the advantage of presenting the concept fairly simply.



    • Thanks for pointing this article out. It is well worth reading, even though some of my conclusions might be a little different that his.

      The author is an Italian ecologist, Jacopo Simonetta, so read it with an Italian accent. I wonder if my writing about the subject has stirred interest in the subject.


      As the industrial economy overruled and substituted all the others, it became the only one economy in the world. And so, necessarily, found more and more difficulties to dissipate energy outside itself. In practice, sinks become problematic before wells do. But remember that in order to implement its own complexity, a dissipative system needs a growing energy flow, that is it needs cornucopian energy wells.

      Today, both global pollution and massive immigration into the more industrialized countries evidence that our system is no more able to expel entropy out of itself. But if entropy is not discharged out of the system, it necessarily grows inside it. . .If this reasoning is correct, the political and the economic crisis, social disruption and, finally, failing states are nothing less than the visible aspect of the growing entropy inside our own meta-system.

  43. Yoshua says:

    If central banks around the world are hard-wired to create endless growth through money supply growth and then banks through credit growth to increase economic growth in a finite world that is running out of cheap, easy to extract energy resources… then the economy will start to extract energy from more expensive energy resources. The ultimate high cost energy resource seems to be kerogen, which is like squeezing oil from a rock. There are 5 trillion barrels of kerogen that are technically recoverable today.

    The central banks might of course be betting on a technological breakthrough in cheap, clean energy… that the economy will be forced to make this breakthrough and therefor will make it through the premiss that “necessity is mother of all inventions”.

    Or… they just don’t have a clue of what else to do.

    • Veggie says:

      Here’s the problem with that, in order to extract it the earth needs to be heated by a few hundred degrees (f) to release the liquid (not oil yet). Shell tried a pilot project (i think it was in Idaho). They sank Wells throughout the formation and heated the wells with powerful electric coils. It took almost a year to warm the field. Around the parameter of the small field they sank a circle of wells and pumped refrigerant though them to cool the outer boundary thereby creating a cold “wall” which stops the hot kerogen from escaping the field.
      The costs were enormous. It was later calculated that the only way this process could be feasible was to have a small nuclear reactor on site to power the massive demand of the electric well bore heaters and refrigerators. As I recall, the EROEI was far in the negative.
      A famous statement I once heard about Kerogen is….
      “Kerogen is an option for 10 years in the future…and always will be.” 🙂
      EROEI is just not there.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        “EROEI is just not there.”

        Interesting story about Shell’s determined effort to extract kerogen oil, Veg and the exceedingly high energy costs associated with its extraction. What will be difficult as the world economy increasingly has difficulty in eeking out miniscual growth and descends into obvious contraction, is knowing oil is down there but not economically viable to extract. Kerogen is definitely part of those reserves remaining in the ground.

        • doomphd says:

          If someone gets fusion nuclear going, then the low ERoEI of kerogen (aka shale oil) and tar sands, fracked oil can be reversed, if one needs the hydrocarbons. As a fuel, you might as well use electricity produced by fusion for most transport. Assuming fusion nuclear at a reasonable ERoEI gets going in time.

      • Another way of describing the problem is to say that if the selling price of oil could rise very high, and stay very high ($300 per barrel was used in one IEA exhibit), then kerogen would be economic. The fact that prices cannot rise very high, and stay very high, explains why extraction is not economic–kerogen extraction uses too much energy products in its extraction; it also uses too much of other factors of production such as human labor and debt.

        • bandits101 says:

          The price of oil specifically derived from kerogen would need to be $300 per barrel. The energy needed to extract, refine, transport and market the kerogen derived oil, would need to be a lot cheaper than the $300 or it would be simpler and/or more economical or sensible to convert the required energy sources to oil and sell that.

    • pintada says:

      Dear Yoshua;

      Ya wanna high cost energy source, try in-situ coal gasification.



      The cost will be the bribes needed to get your public servants to write a law explaining that there is no environmental down side to releasing enough CO2 to bake the planet – and that is during the extraction phase, don’t worry about the part where they burn the gas in a power plant.


  44. Jacopo Simonetta says:

    Excellent article Gail. I remember that David Ricardo wrote that the natural trending in wages is down to the minimum viable. Exceptions was possible just in peculiar historical conditions and, anyway, on a very temporary basis. The only possibility the working class have in order to defend itself is (Ricardo wrote) prevent population growth.
    And in one of his books Daly wrote that to permit movement of stuff across the borders was, in general, a good thing. But to permit to flow also for people and capitals will produce conditions in which necessarily there are looser and winners. And USA and EU working class was in the very first line of looser.

    • Stefeun says:

      Thanks Jacopo,
      Very good insights about sinks Vs wells of energy.

      The only word I’d disagree with is “decades”. If you factor in the financial dimension (which bounds all together and evolves much faster than other sub-systems) then time shrinks a lot.
      I’d even say we’ve been in “over-time” for some years now.
      That’s also why I’m not sure it’s still time to let anything viable for the future generations, if any.

    • xabier says:


      True, and Malthus recommended setting the pay of workers just below the level needed to live decently in order to keep them at their work: in pre-industrial Europe the skilled workers at least would stop once they had enough money for fun and relaxation.

      Because their skills were rare, the masters couldn’t dismiss them but had to wait for their return when broke again.

    • I think globalization is very much like making the world’s manual labor into one big pool. To the extent there was a lot of unemployment elsewhere, it spreads to developed countries. Pay tends toward the same level too.

  45. Artleads says:


    Quoting from the article… Such interesting scholars, but do any of them really know what’s up?

    The Bologna conference included papers on urban destruction and regeneration, urban “mapping” (in both its physical and ideological senses), urban sustainability (including problems around fear and security), and representations of the urban (including case studies of Venice, Paris, London, Mumbai, and Rio). Dushko Bogunovich, a professor of Urban Design at the Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand, set the tone with his presentation “The City and The Crunch: Contours of a Pending Disaster.” Bogunovich predicts an impending “perfect storm” for cities wrought by climate change, population growth, resource depletion, and biodiversity loss. He suggests that to weather the storm we must change our collective institutions (what Dushko terms “groupware”), individual behavior (“software”), and technology (“hardware”). One of Bogunovich’s key points is that low density urbanism is not necessarily a barrier to a sustainable future if it is resilient. This viewpoint very clearly contrasts with those who argue that the best path to urban sustainability is through central city densification. Most significantly, Bogunovich emphasized that what we do in our educational institutions will be key to addressing the emerging crisis. Specifically, we need to rethink dominant paradigms in town planning, urban design, and civil engineering.

    Guido Moretti, a Bologna-based urban planner and engineer, picked up on some of these themes. He struck a more hopeful note in a very interesting paper on “Protecting Cities” that examined urbanism in the Islamic tradition. Moretti detailed some characteristics of the often secluded medina that spring up, and thrive, in surroundings that present severe challenges of extreme heat and scarce water. The medina embody knowledge, accumulated over thousands of years, about how to plan and build in such environments so as to guarantee not only survival but also an intense, productive, and secure social life. Streets are lively, welcoming areas of socialization and commerce. Towers, domes, patios, underground canals, fountains, reflecting surfaces, and other elements of infrastructure harvest water from desert winds and sands and thermos-regulate the city. In Moretti’s words, the Islamic medina “represents a useful and topical reference point with respect to our wastefully expensive and negligent modernity.” In other words, they provide lessons in appropriate and sustainable urbanism. I’d argue that such cross-cultural reference points and lessons, along with the paradigmatic rethinking mentioned by Bogunovich, should be a vital part of any progressive curriculum in contemporary urban planning and design.

    • Froggman says:

      Ah, Planetizen.

      In real life I’m a “City Planner” with all the appropriate certifications and credentials. I drop hints all the time among colleagues. Every one is clueless. Even the folks working on climate change issues are 100% techno utopians. Try going to a state or national conference of planners sometime- its so full of rainbows and sunshine you’ll want to puke.

      So to the question, “do any of them know what’s up?”, I’m afraid the answer is a resounding no. Just me. It’s a lonely position to be in.

      The good news is, we’ll definitely be meeting our 2030 GHG reduction targets. Just not for the reasons my fellow planners envision. It’ll be because the power is out and the gas stations are closed.

      • Artleads says:



        What a pleasure to meet you! My training is visual art–not even sculpture–but it appears my true calling leans more to planning.

        Yes, when I tell the starry-eyed on planetizen that we’re on the road to extinction, and that their projections are irrelevant at best, and why, I never hear from them again. They vanish, poof, just like that.

        Over on there’s a separate forum, on which I’m virtually the only participant. “Land Use.” But I get a fair number of views, for some strange reason.


        Hope you drop in some time and contribute. 🙂

        • Froggman says:

          A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Artleads. I’ve seen your postings at NBL- I’ve been a lurker for years but never post. Obviously your comment above resonated enough to pull me out of my hole 🙂 Maybe it’s a breakthrough for me.

          I’m sure it’s similar for many other professions, but if you’re someone who thinks critically, takes in the data, evaluates it, and reaches the “Collapse Conclusion”- you end up in a trap. There may be other planners out there who get it- but if there are, they can’t come out of the closet. Like I said, we can drop hints, but then it’s “back to real work again- technology will save us all!”

          I have a family I have to support. Someone has to pay for the dry food staples I tuck away in the basement each month…

          But the career I’ve invested my entire life into is likewise fully invested in continuation of the BAU. We’ll perform all sorts of intellectual acrobatics to justify continued population growth, continued building, continued development, continued everything. Right now the solution presented by industry and the profession is a transition to all renewables. So at least I can feel better that most of what I work on day-to-day at least aspires to “sustainability.” Of course, that word is enormously misunderstood in the planning/development industry.

          I have to conclude that at the end of the day these efforts are futile- misguided from the start.

          Despite this knowledge, even working in a highly “progressive” organization, I could never take this position publicly. I couldn’t say, “let’s shut it all down, and start working on making things resilient to limit as much suffering as we can on the back side of the curve.” I wouldn’t be able to keep my job. People would literally think I’ve lost my mind. The Travel Model tells me that Road A has 35,000 trips on it today, and in 2040 it will have 45,000 trips. I know there is no way in hell that there will be 45,000 trips on that road in 2040. But that’s how we’ll write the plan, that’s how it will be designed, and it will be built to handle 45,000 trips.

          Que sera, sera.

          • Artleads says:

            I entirely understand your situation. And I won’t even ask whether I could cut and paste this touching post to my forum thread. When you feel safe to venture outside of your constraints, I’m sure you’ll know what to do.

            I ought to be writing a book on three artists, including myself. But I get far more of a dopamine fix from blogging and the back and forth from that. One of our artists is an employed engineering draftsman. The other, a retiree, is an artist who is a lot into historic preservation. So all three of us have one foot in the world of art, and another into the visual environment. I want that mixture to be a central theme of the writing…

          • It is very hard to change the system. I think we all run into this problem somewhat.

      • I am afraid you are right about meeting 2030 GHG reduction targets, but not for the reason people expect.

    • Artleads says:

      “…the Islamic medina “represents a useful and topical reference point with respect to our wastefully expensive and negligent modernity.”

      And that, dear friends, is where we need to start. Before ISIS bombs out every last reference to the sophisticated Islamic building traditions, learn from those references and make them a source of pride for Moslems everywhere. Quick, before it’s too late.

      • Artleads says:

        Shame on me! I realize I didn’t know what Medina means. Is it a type of Islamic holy city? There are lots of places called Medina. A Wikipedia search didn’t help much. I guess it’s this place we’re discussing? And of course we see how the shared history of Jews and Moslems isn’t being used toward peace…


        I’ve read about Islamic cooling towers, which I imagine is a historic form.

      • Artleads says:

        “Resistance” is impossible if we aren’t properly equipped to wage it. People conclude doom, even when they don’t have the information to see around it. They are blinded by false assumptions.

        I know that there is a viable structure for resistance, but it requires so much thinking that I get stuck. Where is Einstein when we need him?

        There can’t be resistance coming from a white male, imperial background. I’ve made a pathetic suggestion for structure, but that’s the best I can do for now:

        White Women
        African Megafauna
        Nuclear Sites

        But nobody has the faintest clue what I’m trying to get at. Maybe I’ll quit.

        Avenues of approach that seem quite evident for me are obscured from everyone else. Here’s one example, and how to relate it to my three issues is totally beyond me…but here it is:

        – When Obama took office, he needed to maintain Democrat core values, but do nothing else but ask Republicans how to get them enacted. He should have spent ALL his time with Republicans. I could see that he would get nowhere without this, but why did no one else?

        – Islam has traditional ways of building for drought and heat. The west should be doing nothing but learning from that ancient cultural tradition.

        – Islam and China are the presumed greatest threat to the US. So why are we not taking the part of Islam that can help us and make it into a source of pride for Islam?

        – Why isn’t every child learning a Chinese language?

        – As in oriental martial arts, when you confront an opponent, you must integrate with them.

      • Artleads says:

        One of our calamities is the glut of information today, and the lack of means to structure it into anything understandable. So I think we should try to eliminate anything we can do without, while locking on to one or two subjects that are likely to have a domino effect which is desired. In the case of supporting a white woman liberation movement, one key subject stands out: abortion rights. If abortion rights are restored, everything will change. To be successful in that, we almost need to put everything else on hold.

    • A lot of academic articles that miss the obvious.

  46. Don says:

    HI Gail and greetings OFW readers,

    I came upon this article and thought it was in keeping with the topics discussed here:

    The Stupid Things People Do When Their Society Breaks Down


    Some things may surprise you.


    • Don says:

      What surprised me most is that the majority of the population will do absolutely nothing to help themselves until it will be too late. Be it normalcy bias or the notion that help is on the way soon, most are expected to sit by quietly and wait. Guy McPherson once wrote that most would likely die of dehydration in their homes before acting to help themselves.

      • bandits101 says:

        Yeah, I’ve been postulating that that would likely happen but get howled down by some that say the rampaging hordes will be the norm. Most people are not violent. They will likely gather at the churches and town halls and do what the captain says. By the time they get message that help is not coming it will be far too late. We don’t know though, the grid may go up and down, something is done and most will think it’s fixed, then it goes down again until finally it never returns. A scenario like that could wear people down, until they literally can’t do anything when the time comes.
        It’s fun wondering about it. Any prediction is as good or bad as another I suppose.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Katrina in Louisiana is probably a good example. Sure, most were non-violent but the one’s that did get out of hand in some cases had to be shot like packs of dogs and scared the heck out of the non-violent one’s. We saw people of all colors stripping damaged grocery stores – that’s likely behavior. The big difference is in New Orleans people knew at some point the cavalry would show up with water and food, but in a post peak oil era collapse there won’t be enough national guards to protect the masses or enough emergency food to go around. So stock up and protect it.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Many may just lie down and die….

          But based on what we have seen in the past – particularly in the US — a hell of a lot of people are not going to go quietly.

          July 13, 1977: New York City endures a 25-hour blackout after lightning strikes power lines, prompting widespread arson, looting, and riots

          The blackout that hit New York on this day, July 13, in 1977 was to many a metaphor for the gloom that had already settled on the city.

          An economic decline, coupled with rising crime rates and the panic-provoking (and paranoia-inducing) Son of Sam murders, had combined to make the late 1970s New York’s Dark Ages.

          Then lightning struck, and the city went dark for real. By the time the power came back, 25 hours later, arsonists had set more than 1,000 fires and looters had ransacked 1,600 stores, per the New York Times.

          Opportunistic thieves grabbed whatever they could get their hands on, from luxury cars to sink stoppers and clothespins, according to the New York Post. The sweltering streets became a battleground, where, per the Post, “even the looters were being mugged.”


          Keep in mind this was ONE night.

          Nobody was going hungry. Everyone expected that law and order would be restored – that the power would come back on.

          When people see that the power is not coming back on — that society is collapsing — that the shops are empty never to be refilled — it will be every many for himself. Even normally law abiding people will become desperate … and desperate people are dangerous people.

          How many guns are circulating in the US????

        • xabier says:

          Predictions are largely pointless in such a complex environment.

          Trust Intuition.

          • “Predictions are largely pointless in such a complex environment”

            Agreed, perhaps a combination of all scenarios?

            This culture is so deeply fragmented not just by country but even by localized communities. Some will stick together & others will disintegrate in a whirlwind.
            I think Orlov’s 5 stages of collapse has some useful pointers as to the various groups/communities that have a better chance than others of holding together but it’s still dependent on location & who knows what will unfold in the great unravelling……………….

          • InAlaska says:


            Agreed. You are wise. Prediction is a fool’s game. Prepare, do what you think is best, follow your moral compass and love the one’s your with.

            • InAlaska says:

              “Agreed, perhaps a combination of all scenarios?”
              This is likely. In some places there will be chaos, mayhem, disorder. In other places there will be peace, cooperation and order. Within cities, countries, and continents, individuals or groups of people will meet the falling darkness with a wide variety of responses from savagery to empathy. There will be leaders and villians on both sides. It likely won’t be a uniform descent into darkness so beloved by the Hollywood entertainment machine.

        • Kate Tritos says:

          Entitlement psychosis is a micron away from “violence”. The concept of violence is that there is a differentiation between force used by humans against other humans and force used by humans against every thing else on the planet. The force used by humans on everything else on the planet is a manifestation of entitlement psychosis and is openly accepted and endorsed.. Entitlement psychosis is a far far stronger component of the human psyche than the taboo of violence which is really a afterthought because use of force against other humans prevents efficient pillaging. The taboo of violence will be quite easily discarded by a significant portion of the population when confronted with shortages the primary construct of entitlement psychosis finds unacceptable.

          • bandits101 says:

            Yes well said. Self-preservation is probabably the deepest human emotion or trait if you like, it is practically universal among living organisms. I’m not for a minute suggesting that it will be suppressed but I do suggest that a full force collapse or simply a grid failure will confuse the majority. By the time a realisation emerges that violence is required, a weakening would have occurred due to several reasons. The majority of vehicles are running permanently on less than half a tank of fuel. If the grid fails water will immediately be a priority in dryer areas. Most will have to remain near a water source. Food in the area will quickly be depleted and so on. Look, in reality as I have said numerous times I am only guessing. If I am around when this goes down, I’m absolutely certain I’ll be surprised by events as they unfold, whether they be good, bad or worse.

            • InAlaska says:

              So the best you can do in such a situation is to watch your topknot and keep your powder dry.

      • Stefeun says:

        In this full world reaching its limits, not helping oneself means helping all others a tiny bit.
        What a dilemma, when the best that can happen is a mass die-off! (paraphrasing the late A.Bartlett).

        Gail, this excellent and very clear article is now translated in French and should be published next week.

        • Thanks, Stefeun, for any part you played in the translation. I understand Francois Roddier and his wife decided to work on translating some of my articles into French.

    • xabier says:

      A extremely intelligent article, and a good historical summary: having had my nose buried in memoirs and diaries (the most direct evidence, not the 2nd-hand opinions of historians) of the 1920’s to the end of WW2 – covering the Russian revolutionary breakdown and emergence of the Soviet state, the rise of Fascism in Roumania, Germany, Italy; the Vichy ‘patriotic conservative’ govt. in France, etc, all winter, as well as what I’ve heard directly about the Spanish Civil War (Fascism, Anarchism, Communism, extreme Conservative Catholic Christianity, what a mix!) – the author’s observations ring very true to me.

      The moral position is exactly right too: if you lose, as most must in terrible times however brave or good, then you won’t have lost your soul.

      • Perhaps in similar mood you might appreciate this older movie. I guess it won a prize at IFF Venice in late 1960s. The story depicts the fast physical and moral decay/renewal? during harsh civil war within larger 30yrs war on the European continent. It takes place in Bohemian Kingdom at the end of 1640s, so it depicts situation after almost 3decades of turmoil, once the affluent country where the entire conflict errupted is now decrepit rubble, invaded several times over, looted to the bone, people are starving, former native protestant nobility mostly exiled or impoverished,.. Suddenly two returning exiled “agents” arrive from the french court to learn the shocking situation on the ground, which is beyond hopeless their imagination and the lonely “hero” dukes it out on his own anyway just as the Westphalian peace accord of 1648 is announced. There might be a DVD release with multilang subtitles.
        “Honour and Glory” 1968, 84 min

    • Thanks! What they say seems reasonably true.

  47. Vince the Prince says:

    It also means that for many parts of the planet, there basically wasn’t a winter. Parts of the Arctic were more than 16 degrees Celsius (29 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than “normal” for the month of February, bringing them a few degrees above freezing, on par with typical June levels, in what is typically the coldest month of the year. In the United States, the winter was record-warm in cities coast to coast. In Europe and Asia, dozens of countries set or tied their all-time temperature records for February. In the tropics, the record-warmth is prolonging the longest-lasting coral bleaching episode ever seen.
    The northernmost permanent settlement, Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, has averaged 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal this winter, with temperatures rising above the freezing mark on nearly two dozen days since Dec. 1. That kind of extremely unusual weather has prompted a record-setting low maximum in Arctic sea ice, especially in the Barents Sea area north of Europe.
    The data for February is so overwhelming that even prominent climate change skeptics have already embraced the new record. Writing on his blog, former NASA scientist Roy Spencer said that according to satellite records — the dataset of choice by climate skeptics for a variety of reasons—February 2016 featured “whopping” temperature anomalies especially in the Arctic. Spurred by disbelief, Spencer also checked his data with others released today and said the overlap is “about as good as it gets.”

    • InAlaska says:

      Vince the P,
      Agreed. There was no winter in Alaska this year. Very little snow. Virtually none of the n