Our economic growth system is reaching limits in a strange way

Economic growth never seems to be as high as those making forecasts would like it to be. This is a record of recent forecasts by the International Monetary Fund:

Figure 1. World GDP Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.

Figure 1. World GDP Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.

Figure 2 shows world economic growth on  a different basis–a basis that appears to me to be very close to total world GDP, as measured in US dollars, without adjustment for inflation. On this  basis, world GDP (or Gross Planetary Product as the author calls it) does very poorly in 2015, nearly as bad as in 2009.

Figure 2. Gross Planet Product at current prices (trillions of dollars) by Peter A. G. van Bergeijk in Voxeu.

Figure 2. Gross Planet Product at current prices (trillions of dollars) by Peter A. G. van Bergeijk in Voxeu, based on IMF World Economic Outlook Database, October 2015.

The poor 2015 performance in Figure 2 reflects a combination of falling inflation rates, as a result of falling commodity prices, and a rising relativity of the US dollar to other currencies.

Clearly something is wrong, but virtually no one has figured out the problem.

The World Energy System Is Reaching Limits in a Strange Double Way

We are experiencing a world economy that seems to be reaching limits, but the symptoms are not what peak oil groups warned about. Instead of high prices and lack of supply, we are facing indirect problems brought on by our high consumption of energy products. In my view, we have a double pump problem.

Figure 3. Double gasoline pump from Torrence Collection of Auto Memorabilia.

Figure 3. Double gasoline pump from Torrence Collection of Auto Memorabilia.

We don’t just extract fossil fuels. Instead, whether we intend to or not, we get a lot of other things as well: rising debt, rising pollution, and a more complex economy.

The system acts as if whenever one pump dispenses the energy products we want, another pump disperses other products we don’t want. Let’s look at three of the big unwanted “co-products.”

1. Rising debt is an issue because fossil fuels give us things that would never have been possible, in the absence of fossil fuels. For example, thanks to fossil fuels, farmers can have such things as metal plows instead of wooden ones and barbed wire to separate their property from the property of others. Fossil fuels provide many more advanced capabilities as well, including tractors, fertilizer, pesticides, GPS systems to guide tractors, trucks to take food to market, modern roads, and refrigeration.

The benefits of fossil fuels are immense, but can only be experienced once fossil fuels are in use. Because of this, we have adapted our debt system to be a much greater part of the economy than it ever needed to be, prior to the use of fossil fuels. As the cost of fossil fuel extraction rises, ever more debt is required to place these fossil fuels in use. The Bank for International Settlements tells us that worldwide, between 2006 and 2014, the amount of oil and gas company bonds outstanding increased by an average of 15% per year, while syndicated bank loans to oil and gas companies increased by an average of 13% per year. Taken together, about $3 trillion of these types of loans to the oil and gas companies were outstanding at the end of 2014.

As the cost of fossil fuels rises, the cost of everything made using fossil fuels tends to rise as well. Cars, trucks, and homes become more expensive to build, especially if they are intended to be energy efficient. The cost of capital goods purchased by businesses rises as well, since these too are made with fossil fuels. Needless to say, the amount of debt to purchase all of these goods rises as well. Part of the reason for the increased debt is simply because it becomes more difficult for businesses and individuals to purchase needed goods out of cash flow.

As long as fossil fuel prices are rising (not just the cost of extraction), this rising debt doesn’t look like a huge problem. The rising fossil fuel prices push the general inflation rate higher. But once prices stop rising, and in fact start falling, the amount of debt outstanding suddenly seems much more onerous.

2. Rising pollution from fossil fuels is another issue as we use an increasing amount of fossil fuels. If only a tiny amount of fossil fuels is used, pollution tends not to be much of an issue. Air can remain safe for breathing and water can remain safe for drinking. Increasing CO2 pollution is not a significant issue.

Once we start using increasing amounts, pollution becomes a greater issue. Partly this is the case because natural sinks reach their saturation point. Another is the changing nature of technology as we move to more advanced techniques. Techniques such as deep sea drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and arctic drilling have pollution risks that less advanced techniques did not have.

3. A more complex economy is a less obvious co-product of the increasing use of fossil fuels. In a very simple economy, there is little need for big government and big business. If there are businesses, they can be run by a small number of individuals, with little investment in capital goods. A king, together with a handful of appointees, can operate the government if it does not provide much in the way of services such as paved roads, armies, and schools. International trade is not a huge necessity because workers can provide nearly all necessary goods and services with local materials.

The use of increasing amounts of fossil fuels changes the situation materially. Fossil fuels are what allow us to have metals in quantity–without fossil fuels, we need to cut down forests, use the trees to make charcoal, and use the charcoal to make small quantities of metals.

Once fossil fuels are available in quantity, they allow the economy to make modern capital goods, such as machines, oil drilling equipment, hydraulic dump trucks, farming equipment, and airplanes. Businesses need to be much larger to produce and own such equipment. International trade becomes much more important, because a much broader array of materials is needed to make and operate these devices. Education becomes ever more important, as devices become increasingly complex. Governments become larger, to deal with the additional services they now need to provide.

Increasing complexity has a downside. If an increasing share of the output of the economy is funneled into management pay, expenditures for capital goods, and other expenditures associated with an increasingly complex economy (including higher taxes, and more dividend and interest payments), less of the output of the economy is available for “ordinary” laborers–including those without advanced training or supervisory responsibilities.

As a result, pay for these workers is likely to fall relative to the rising cost of living. Some would-be workers may drop out of the labor force, because the benefits of working are too low compared to other costs, such as childcare and transportation costs. Ultimately, the low wages of these workers can be expected to start causing problems for the economic system as a whole, because these workers can no longer afford the output of the system. These workers reduce their purchases of houses and cars, both of which are produced using fossil fuels and other commodities.

Ultimately, the prices of commodities fall below their cost of production. This happens because there are so many of these ordinary laborers, and the lack of good wages for these workers tends to slow the “demand” side of the economic growth loop. This is the problem that we are now experiencing. Figure 4 below shows how the system would work, if increasing complexity were not interfering with economic growth.

Figure 4. How economic growth works, if increased complexity is not interfering.

Figure 4. How economic growth works, if increased complexity is not interfering.

Also see my post, How Economic Growth Fails.

The Two Pumps Are Really Energy and Entropy

Unlike the markings on the pump (gasoline and ethanol), the two pumps of our system are energy consumption and entropy. When we think we are getting energy consumption, we really get various forms of entropy as well.

The first pump, rising energy consumption, seems to be what makes the world economy grow.

Figure 4. World GDP in 2010$ compared (from USDA) compared to World Consumption of Energy (from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014).

Figure 5. World GDP in 2010$ compared (from USDA) compared to World Consumption of Energy (from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014).

This happens because the use of energy products allows businesses to leverage human labor, so that human labor can be more productive. A farmer with a stick as his only implement cannot produce much food, but a farmer with a tractor, gasoline, modern implements, hybrid seeds, irrigation, and access to modern roads can be very productive. This productivity would not be available without fossil fuels. Figure 4, shown earlier, describes how this increased productivity usually gets back into the system.

The second pump in Figure 3 is Entropy Production. Entropy is a measure of the disorder associated with the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels and other energy products. Entropy can be thought of as a loss of information. Once energy products are burned, we have a portion of GDP in the place of the energy products that have been consumed. This is why there is a high correlation between energy consumption and GDP. As energy products are burned, we also have an increasing pile of debt, increasing pollution (that our sinks become less and less able to handle), and increasing wealth disparity.

Figure 6. Chart by economist Emmanuel Saez based on an analysis IRS data, published in Forbes.

Figure 6. Difference in US income growth patterns of the top 10% versus the bottom 90%. Chart by economist Emmanuel Saez based on an analysis of IRS data, published in Forbes.

Beyond the three types of entropy I have mentioned, there are other related problems. For example, the current immigration problem is at least partly a problem associated with increased complexity and thus increased wealth disparity. Also, low oil prices are a sign of a loss of “information,” and thus also a sign of growing entropy.

Our Energy/Entropy System Operates on an Energy Flow Basis

I think of two different kinds of accounting systems:

  1. Accounting on a cash flow basis
  2. Accounting on an accrual basis, such as GAAP

With respect to energy, we burn fossil fuels in a given year, and we obtain output of renewable energy devices in a given year. We eat food that has generally been grown in the year we eat it. There is virtually no accrual aspect to the way the system works. This is very different from the accrual-basis financial statements prepared by most large companies that allow credit for investments before the benefit is actually in place.

When it comes to promises such as Social Security benefits, we are, in effect, promising retirees a share of energy production in future years. The promise is only worth something if the system continues to work well–in other words, if the financial system has not collapsed, pollution is not too great a problem, and marginalized workers are not revolting.

Governments can print money, but they can’t print resources. It is the resources, particularly energy resources, that we need to run the economy. In fact, we need per capita resources to be at least flat, or perhaps increasing.

Figure 7. World energy consumption per capita, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2105 data. Year 2015 estimate and notes by G. Tverberg.

Figure 7. World energy consumption per capita, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2105 data. Year 2015 estimate and notes by G. Tverberg.

Printing money is an attempt to get a larger share of the world’s resources for the population of a given country. Printing money usually doesn’t work very well, because if a country prints a lot of money, the currency of that country is likely to fall relative to currencies of other countries.

What Causes the System to Fail? Too Little Energy, or Too Much Entropy?

In an interconnected system, it is sometimes hard to understand what causes the system to fail. Is it too little production of energy products, or too much entropy associated with these energy products? Astrophysicist Francois Roddier tells me that he thinks it is too much entropy that causes the system to fail, and I tend to agree with him. (See also “Pourquoi les économies stagnant et les civilizations sʼeffondrent”  by Roddier in Économie de l’après-croissance.) The rising amount of debt, pollution, and income inequality tend to bring the system down, long before “running out” of energy products becomes a problem. In fact, the low commodity prices we are now experiencing appear to be part of the entropy problem as well.

Can Renewable Energy Be a Solution?

As far as I can see, renewable energy, unless it is very cheap (like hydroelectric dams were many years ago), absolutely does not work as a solution to our energy problems. The basic issue is that the energy system works on a flow year basis. To match energy-in versus energy-out, we need to analyze each year separately. For example, we need to match energy going into making offshore wind turbines against energy coming out of offshore wind turbines, for each calendar year (say 2016). To keep the net energy flow positive, there needs to be an extremely slow ramp-up of high-cost renewable energy.

In a way, high-cost renewable energy is very close to entropy-only energy. Because of the high front-end energy consumption and the slow speed at which it is paid back, high-priced renewable energy generates very little energy, net of energy going into its production. (In some instances, renewable energy may actually be an energy sink.) Instead, renewable energy generates lots of entropy-related products, including increased debt and increased taxes to pay for subsidies. It also adds to the complexity of the system, because of the variable nature of its output. Perhaps renewable energy is less bad at generating pollution, or maybe the pollution is simply of a different type. Ultimately, it is a problem, just as any other type of supplemental energy is.

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.

What Is the Connection to Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI)?

If a person believes that energy is a one pump system (the left pump in Figure 3), then a person’s big concern is “running out.” If a person wants to maximize the benefit of energy resources, he will choose energy resources with as high an EROEI as possible. In other words, he will try to get as much energy out per unit of energy in as possible. For example, one estimate gives EROEI of 100 to 1 for hydroelectric, 80 to 1 for coal, and much lower ratios for other fuels. Thus, a mix that is heavy in hydroelectric and coal will stretch energy supplies as far as possible.

Another place where EROEI is important is in determining “net” energy, that is, energy net of the energy going into making it.

As I mentioned above, energy per capita needs to be at least level to keep the economy from collapsing. In fact, net energy per capita probably needs to be slightly increasing to keep the economy growing sufficiently, if “net” energy is adjusted for all of the effects that simultaneously impact the energy needs of the economy, apart from energy used in producing “normal” goods and services. (Most people are not aware of the economy’s growing need for energy supplies. For an explanation regarding why this is true, see my recent post The Physics of Energy and the Economy.)

In theory, EROEI analyses might be helpful in determining how much gross energy is necessary to produce the desired amount of net energy. In practice, there are many pieces that go into determining the total quantity of net energy required to keep the economy expanding, making the calculation difficult to perform. These include:

  1. The extent to which population is rising.
  2. The extent to which globalization is taking place, and with it, access to other, higher EROEI, energy supplies.
  3. The extent to which the economy is getting more efficient in its use of energy.
  4. The extent to which EROEI is falling for various fuels (on a calendar year basis).
  5. The extent to which average EROEI is falling, because the mix of fuel is changing to become less polluting.
  6.  The extent to which it is taking more energy to extract other resources, such as fresh water and metals.
  7. The extent to which it is taking more energy to make pollution-control devices, and workarounds for problems with energy.

Looking at Figure 5, it is not obvious that there is a need for a big adjustment, one way or another, to produce net energy from gross energy. Of course, this may be an artifact of the way GDP is measured. High-priced metals and water are treated as part of GDP, as is the cost of pollution control devices. People’s general standard of living may not be rising, but now they are paying for clean air and water, something they didn’t need to pay for before. It looks like GDP is increasing, but there is little true benefit from the higher GDP.

The one big take-away I have from Figure 7 is simply that if our goal is to get net energy to rise sufficiently, the best way to do this is to make certain that gross energy production rises sufficiently. World leaders were successful in doing this since 2001, through their globalization efforts. Of course, the new energy we got was mostly coal–bad from the points of view of pollution and workers’ wages in developed countries, but good from some other perspectives: low direct debt requirement, low complexity requirement, and high EROEI.

Figure 8. China's energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Figure 8. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

One issue with EROEI calculations is that they disregard timing, and thus are not on an energy flow-year basis. Ignoring timing also means the calculations give little information regarding the likely debt build-up associated with an energy product.


If a person doesn’t understand what the problem is, it is easy to come to the wrong conclusion. Part of our problem is that we need a growing amount of net energy, per capita, to keep the economy from collapsing. Part of our problem is that entropy problems such as rising debt, increased pollution, and increasing complexity tend to bring the system down, even when we seem to have plenty of energy supplies. These are the two big problems we are facing that few people recognize.

Another part of our problem is that it is necessary for common laborers to have good-paying jobs, and in fact rising pay, if the economy is to continue to grow. As much as we would like everyone to have advanced training (and training that changes with each new innovation), the productivity of workers does not rise sufficiently to justify the high cost of giving advanced education to a large share of the population. Instead, we must deal with the fact that the world’s economy needs large numbers of workers with relatively little training. In fact, we need rising pay for these workers, because there are so many of them, and they are the ones who keep the “demand” part of the commodity price cycle high enough.

Robots may be very efficient at producing goods and services, but they cannot recycle the earnings of the system. In theory, businesses could pay very high taxes on the output of automated systems, so that governments could create make-work projects to hire all of the unemployed workers. In practice, the idea is impractical–the businesses would simply move to an area with lower taxes.

Growth now is slowing because of all of the entropy issues involved. People in China cannot stand any more pollution. Too many laborers in developed countries are being marginalized by globalization and by competition with ever-more intelligent machines that can replace much of the function of humans. None of this would be a problem, except that we have a huge amount of debt that needs to be repaid with interest, and we need commodity prices to rise high enough to encourage production. If these problems are not fixed, the whole system will collapse, even though there seems to be a surplus of energy products.

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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1,136 Responses to Our economic growth system is reaching limits in a strange way

  1. Fast Eddy says:

    Even analysts who estimate pro-forma, ex-bad-items, non-GAAP earnings that S&P 500 companies propagate to look better and that these analysts use to inflate their stock-price targets, just threw in the towel on the quarter.

    They expect these inflated earnings per share for the first quarter to plunge 8.5% from a year ago, according to FactSet. If this holds after S&P 500 companies report their ex-bad-items earnings, it would be the worst EPS decline since Q3 2009.

    It would also be the fourth quarter in a row of year-over-year earnings declines, a phenomenon that last happened during the Great Recession from Q4 2008 through Q3 2009.

    And yet, despite five quarters in a row of year-over-year revenue declines, and despite four quarters in a row of year-over-year ex-bad-items earnings declines, the S&P 500 soared over the past seven weeks and is near its ludicrous high established last May — another sign, one of many, of just how silly this whole Fed-directed charade has become.

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2016/04/03/corporate-revenues-earnings-in-the-first-quarter-will-suck/

  2. Ed says:

    The company running China’s power grid is proposing a $50 trillion global electricity network to tackle pollution and climate change. If it goes ahead the network would use advanced renewable solar and wind technology and be operating by 2050.

  3. A Real Black Person says:

    It took me a while to figure out what Gail was trying to communicate by using entropy to describe our economic problems. At first, I thought she was talking about declining EROI.. but then I realized that was wrong since she started describing taxes and debt reduce the amount of energy available in the economy.

    I think she is talking about flows. Right now, as I am typing this, in aggregate, humans are using more energy than ever. On a given day, we use X amount of energy, or we are paid x amount of money. However, we use that energy very quickly, or we spend most of that money by the end of the day, leaving very little surplus energy for discretionary use. In the past, I think, money and energy moved through the economy more slowly, which may seem like a bad thing, but there were less people to share energy and money (economic surplus) with.Most importantly, there was less entropy in the economy, so there were less taxes and debt to take money and energy out of the economy.

    Is my understanding correct?

    • A Real Black Person says:

      To clarify what I meant to say , that in the past, there was less energy and money available and both of those things moved through the economy more slowly , which may seem like a bad thing, but there were less people to share energy and money (economic surplus) with.
      As population growth and increased both energy use and entropy increased. More energy was used more quickly as the entire economy grew, which meant entropy happened more quickly.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Makes sense — reminds me of this …

    • Yes, you are right.

      EROI is not my issue, especially when it means EROI on fossil fuel resources. Declining return on human labor invested (another kind of EROI) is more of my issue.

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    Re human shit …. there are systems that can help … but they are expensive to install… and won’t be available post bau


    I was considering replacing our 30 yr old septic system with something like this … and running it into the orchard…

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    Re Collapse … and how it could happen in stages with some going first and other following …

    Just thinking about that… and I do not buy that scenario…

    Lehman was one single piece… when it was let go the entire global economy stopped — it literally stopped… and if the central banks had not stepped in …. we would not be here today…

    One… single… piece….

    Take a look around — the central banks are sticking fingers into holes in dams continuously … no significant entity has been allowed to fail …

    Running a failing corporation? No problemo — just tap into some ZIRP cash made available by the Fed…

    Need to keep cars moving off the lots — no problemo — 10yr ZIRP loans save the day…

    These are bail outs on a stupendous scale…

    Nothing can be allowed to fail – everything is too big to fail….

    Once the central banks run out of fingers — something will trigger the deluge — and once it starts and there is a realization that the central banks cannot ride to the rescue…

    This rotten house is going to collapse — and it will be fast… lightening fast…

    • Stefeun says:

      I agree with the step by step decline scenario.
      But the first step will be soooo high, that I don’t care about the size of the following ones; as a pizza, I’ll never have to climb them down anyway.

    • A Real Black Person says:

      I think we live in a “too big to fail” society.
      The educational pipeline for new workers is more concerned with quotas than proper training, so students aren’t allowed to fail either.

      In a way, modern global industrial capitalism is more rigid than centrally planned dictatorships. I forgot where I read this, but someone made the statement, somewhere on the internet, that American society is very ‘rigid’. The flexibility that that is reported on in Reuters articles and is widely re-reported is only happening on the margins. Flexibility in sectors of the economy that depend on discretionary spending is celebrated by journalists in Reuters articles every day. Innovations in the sectors of the economy that depend on discretionary spending are used to make generalizations about the entire economy with phrases such as the “Uberization of Everything”. This is, of course, propaganda from the Top Twenty Percent. They are a very self-congratulating. We are not flexible in our use of resources or population size. (outside of war, any form of population control is frowned upon.)

      • all societies cannot help but become rigid when their sources of energy are delivered to them, rather than to chase after it, as we are evolved to do,

        humankind devised this energy delivery system, which, once established, necessitated building permanent housing

        what we have now is just a derivative of that. ALL our energy needs are delivered to order, so we have had to build cities, roads, armies, hospitals and whatnot in order to consume the available energy input (Once we knew that coal oil and gas were available, we could not just leave it in situ.)
        Thus our transport and city infrastructure now defines what we have become. That has locked us into our current phase of rigid behaviour.
        We cannot simply up and leave all that behind and become nomad and “flexible” once more, because there is nowhere to be nomadic in.
        We filled all the space.
        We are faced with sealevel rise. Sure, that’s happened before, but 000s of years ago, people simply moved imperceptibly over centuries.
        Now we are faced with the rigidity of millions living in cities, incapable of moving, demanding that (energy consuming) sea defences are constructed.(the ultimate futility of “delivered energy”.)

        Ultimately of course the sea will win, and millions will die before rigidity turns to flexibility again.
        Then there will be fewer of us, and flexibility will be our normality.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        We are not flexible in our use of resources or population size.

        Worth repeating!

        Resilience and efficiency seem to be opposed. We pride ourselves on how efficient we’ve become, without considering how brittle that makes us. This is an artifact of a high-energy environment, according to Panarchy Theory. In a low-energy environment, resilience must dominate.

        And that’s a bitter pill for US industry, which has worked for many decades to optimize efficiency over resilience.

        • Efficiency is inexpensive, which is why businesses like it. But doesn’t sustain an economy for the long run.

        • Stefeun says:

          Right Jan,
          Résilience is what we’d like egotistically for our system/lives/genes/…,
          It’s never been a priority of Evolution.

          Rather the opposite, actually, new species must appear, and wipe out the too old ones, so that the complex system can continually adjust to new environmental conditions.

          Ultimately, résilience can be seen as a form of sclerosis. When it’s about genes and long enough timeframes, it doesn’t matter, but when it’s memes in a HFT world, who knows?

          • Jan Steinman says:

            Rather the opposite, actually, new species must appear, and wipe out the too old ones, so that the complex system can continually adjust to new environmental conditions.

            I think you’re making my argument for me.

            It’s inefficient to spend so much time and energy making lots of new species. But it is resilient, with lots of overlap, duplicated effort, and shared resource utilization.

            There exists a “sweet spot” in the resilience — efficiency continuum, also called the “maximum power point” by HT Odum. This is the point at which the energetic expense of capital is balanced by the energetic efficiency of operations.

            • Stefeun says:

              Thanks Jan,
              There are still some points I’ve hard time to wrap my mind around.
              I’ll check the HT Odum’s text, and maybe compare with the Ulanowicz’ paper about entropy’s duality, that Gail presented a couple of articles ago.
              There seems to be a regulatory function, a drawback feature with embedded negative feedback loops, which I’m not able to clearly grasp (yet).

            • It seems to me that resilience is one of the big areas where ecosystems and human economies differ. Ecosystems have built in redundancy, with many types of plants and animals, so that adaptation to change is fairly easy. Human economies are optimized to use particular types of supplemental energy. Once the “cost” of producing that supplemental energy rises, the system is likely subject to collapse, because eventually the rising cost leaves the rest of the economy with too little energy to continue. There is no lower-energy alternative way of continuing, because of the way the system is designed.

            • Stefeun says:

              Good point Gail, agreed.

              Our goal is to yield Max profit ASAP, whatever happées tomorrow, while Nature’s Target is to survive in the long term (rather: what hasn’t respected this rule is no longer with us).

            • Also, we depend on a depleting supplies of fossil fuels and metals to operate our economy, while ecosystems generally only depend on the sun and water. Ours is necessarily a temporary system, while ecosystems can be much longer-lasting. Even “renewables” use depleting supplies, but of different things. For example, renewables and electric cars tend to be heavy users of copper, and our supplies of high quality copper ores are limited.

              It is a myth that recycling can be done in a very energy-efficient manner. In fact, a lot of material is lost in recycling, and the amount of energy used in recycling tends to rise rapidly, as a person tries to recollect a larger portion of the material that is recycled. Metals that have been used are almost as effectively lost as fossil fuels that have been burned, because the disbursed metals cannot be regathered, without a huge expenditure of energy.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              our supplies of high quality copper ores are limited.

              I can’t put my finger on a reference, but I recall reading that one-third of all copper is in use, one-third is still in the ground, and one-third is in landfills.

              I think Simon Michaux pointed out that the percentage of copper in landfills is currently higher that the percentage of copper in the newest mines.

              We’ve picked the low-hanging fruit, folks!

            • Stefeun says:

              An infographics was recently linked here about Copper.
              I think it was this one:

              The Looming Copper Supply Crunch

            • Stefeun says:

              Jan, you say:
              “I think Simon Michaux pointed out that the percentage of copper in landfills is currently higher that the percentage of copper in the newest mines.”

              Is this statement valid for more than Copper?
              If so, could be that, for example, the % of nutrients in garbage is higher than that in newly processed refined food.

              Would it also apply on the cultural level?

            • We need fossil fuels to process the copper in landfills, I expect. Not quite as easy as it sounds.

      • I agree–the economy becomes quite inflexible. When it comes to universities, they seem to have quotas–how many papers professors are expected to publish, what percentage of students are expected to pass. The universities want to do well compared to other universities. They want a certain percentage of students to graduate, so they appear to performing their function. If standards need to be lowered for that to happen, that seems to be OK. As long as enough papers get published.

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    Now all you will need is some food to cook in it…. that will be a problem

  7. Fast Eddy says:

    Best of luck up there with the humanure project. It all sounds so wonderful….

    BAU … we’ll all miss you so when you go…

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    Rising Global Debt and the Deflation Threat

    Years of deficit spending and near-zero interest rates have led to massive borrowing but little growth.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt’s March 1933 inaugural line “that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” was inspiring, but wrong. There was plenty to fear, not least the deflation that then gripped the nation.

    Today we’re in a new age of anxiety, with voters opting for anti-establishment outsiders like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Americans are not experiencing deflation, but there are some early symptoms. More important, the potential cause is apparent.

    Among symptoms, dollar prices of oil and many other commodities have slumped; the U.S. consumer-price index hardly budged in 2015. The European Central Bank and central banks in Japan, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden are now charging commercial banks interest on their reserve deposits (negative interest rates) to try to stimulate lending.

    The decline in energy prices is appropriately celebrated, but the big question is whether the Federal Reserve and other central banks can arrest a slide into a general deflationary malaise. Here is a possible reason why they can’t: Years of government “stimulus” spending are working against them.

    Irving Fisher, a prominent monetary economist in the 1920s and ’30s, explained how deflation could result from an abnormal buildup of debt. A debt bubble, he wrote ( Econometrica, 1933) ultimately would burst “through the alarm of either debtors or creditors or both.” Debt will be liquidated by the distress sales of assets, the contraction of bank deposits as bank loans are paid off, and the slowing down of monetary velocity (the turnover from account to account that modulates the effective supply of money).

    With falling prices come plummeting profits that force employee layoffs. The resulting pessimism and loss of confidence leads to “hoarding and slowing down still more of velocity of [monetary] circulation.” The effective money supply contracts, hence deflation. In Fisher’s view, that’s why the American economy sank into Depression in the early 1930s. (Why it stayed depressed for a decade is another story.)

    When global stock markets crashed in 2008, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was determined not to repeat a mistake made in 1929. After that crash the Fed failed to create enough money to compensate for the sudden loss of bank liquidity and a deflationary contraction of the money stock. And so Mr. Bernanke in December 2008 lowered the Fed’s interest-rate target to an upper bound of a quarter of a percentage point and a lower bound of zero. There it stayed until the quarter point increase in December 2015.

    Unfortunately, Congress also passed, at President Obama’s urging, a massive and highly politicized $831 billion “stimulus” bill a few months later. The spending did not lead to much if any growth, but it was followed by a string of trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Federal debt, a bit over $10 trillion in 2009, has ballooned to more than $18 trillion.

    In other words, while Mr. Bernanke and Ms. Yellen were trying to prevent deflation, the federal government was engineering its cause, excessive debt. And the Fed abetted the process by purchasing trillions of dollars of government paper, aka quantitative easing.

    Near-zero interest rates also have encouraged consumers and business to releverage. Cars are now financed with low or no-interest five-year loans. With the 2008 housing debacle forgotten, easier mortgage terms have made a comeback. Corporations also couldn’t let cheap money go to waste, so they have piled up debts to buy back their own stock. Such “investment” produces no economic growth, but it has to be paid back nonetheless.

    Amid the Great Recession, many worried that the entire economy of the U.S., or even the world, would be “deleveraged.” Instead, we have a new world-wide debt bubble. “The billions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent on bailing out the banks,” Aaran Fronda recently wrote in London’s World Finance magazine, “combined with huge amounts of quantitative easing and reducing interest rates to rock-bottom levels resulted in advanced economies holding the highest public debt-to-GDP ratios that had ever been seen.”

    Global debt of all types grew by $57 trillion from 2007 to 2014 to a total of $199 trillion, the McKinsey Global Institute reported in February last year. That’s 286% of global GDP compared with 269% in 2007. The current ratio is above 300%. The big boost came from governments. The debt load, McKinsey noted, “poses new risks to financial stability and may undermine global economic growth.”

    The Fed says it wants to “reflate” to the tune of 2% annual inflation—which would let the U.S. Treasury, among others, work off its debt with cheaper dollars. But the Fed isn’t getting the inflation it wants and the deflation risk persists. Its desperation can be deduced from Ms. Yellen’s suggestion that she would consider negative rates. “Helicopter money”—with the Fed bypassing the banks and somehow funneling money directly to consumer accounts—is even being discussed in the press.

    Ironically, voters are turning toward a developer, Donald Trump, who never met a highly leveraged project he didn’t like. As for Bernie Sanders, his wishes are simple: more federal spending and borrowing on welfare programs. Should we be worried about any of this?



    • imie says:

      Debt isn’t the real issue, because it always can by paid off by printed currency. The real issue is capability of our civilization to increase primary energy consumption rate.

      • Suppose this debt can be paid off by printed currency. Can goods and services actually go with the printed currency? For example, can the debt still provide pensions to the elderly?

        And where do you expect new debt is going to come from, if someone wants to buy a car, or sell their house, or build a factory? Is a new debt system going to suddenly arise, after the previous one was wiped out?

  9. Yoshua says:

    The oil producers in the U.S have hedges against a fall in the oil price. Another way to look at it is that the banks are subsidizing the oil production. It would be interesting to know exactly how much the oil producers receive per barrel, but since the whole derivatives business is secret I guess that we will never know.

    • Yoshua says:

      I just read about hedges… it isn’t actually all that secret. Still learning….

  10. High in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico, a small cooperative is “farming carbon” — practicing agriculture in a way that fights climate change while simultaneously meeting human needs.

    Although these practices are used by millions of people around the world in some way, people in Western nations are largely unfamiliar with them, and there is little coordinated support to encourage farmers to adopt them.

    But if supported, implemented and developed on a global scale in conjunction with a massive reduction in fossil fuel emissions, these “carbon farming” practices — a suite of crops and practices that sequester carbon while simultaneously meeting human needs — could play a critical role in preventing catastrophic climate change by removing carbon from the atmosphere and safely storing it in soils and perennial vegetation……..


    • Fast Eddy says:

      Joe – welcome.

      In honour of your post let’s sing the national anthem of Delusistan:

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Fast Eddy, wonder if statistics are available in regard to the ratio of industrial chemical rape farming compared to all types of organic green farming?
        Let’s all write Archer, Midland, Daniels and urge them to support carbon green farming based on those Indians!
        Oh, best not of ADM will certainly visit them folks and force them to adopt GMO based farming…ugh! What a world.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I already posted that info — 98%+ of all ag land is farmed using industrial methods…

          And a large portion of the ag land that is not farmed using petrochemicals is pasture land …

          A very tiny proportion of global ag land is actually used for organic farming…

          I couldn’t find data on how much of that is reliant on electric pumps for irrigation … but no doubt almost all of it is….

          • xabier says:

            And let’s not forget that the industrial farming has depleted essential aquifers and poisoned the water with fertiliser and pesticide run-off: for instance 50% of the water in the region of Spain I considered moving to for a last stand. I like to have the figures for all the major food-producers.

            • Vince the Prince says:

              No need for concern, put in a few swales and everything will be back as before…
              Now, who will dig those sealed? Yes, them Indians…white people can’t possibly be expect to perform that….only on the laptop.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    Japanese Elderly Commit Crimes Hoping to Get into Prison! Retail Spending Plunges; About that Deflation!


    Can one of the hyperinflationistas explain why no matter how many trillion yen the Japanese print… they still end up in deflation?

    • DJ says:

      They just have to lower the standard in prison, maybe a daily beating? To align supply with demand. (of prisoners)

    • DJ says:

      Re inflation:
      Obviously none of this deflation finds it way out to consumer prices of necessary goods.

      Hyperinflation: doesn’t that happen just before the currency dies? Accompanied by at least civil war.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Or maybe the country simply collapses…

        There was no hyperinflation in the US during the Lehman crisis…. without central bank intervention the sell orders on computers would have been triggered by the tens of thousands… and the global economy would have completely collapsed in less than a second. Literally.

        And we’d have skipped the hyperinflation stage of the collapse

        This is not Weimar Germany….

    • imie says:

      Because currency goes to the banks, not ordinary people.

  12. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    A video series on 18th century cooking. If you are serious about collapse, or just hard times, much here to contemplate….Don Stewart

    • Niels Colding says:

      All that wood ….

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Don’t fret, a homemade solar cooker will service (sarcasm).
        Even on cold Winter Days

        • merrifield says:

          Why sarcasm? A solor cooker can not only cook food, it can dehydrate and also purify water well enough to drink. No fuel needed to reach pasteurization at about 150 degrees. No need to boil, so it saves fuel.

          • interguru says:

            I know someone who as tried unsuccessfully to introduce solar stoves. The problem — if you go inside to do other housework while to meal is cooking, someone will steal the food and the stove.

          • Vince the Prince says:

            Very sure post BAU there will be plenty of folks making and using those homemade solar cookers, just like they are today (sarcasm). Sure, I know of “one” also.
            Please, get real….

          • Jan Steinman says:

            A solor cooker can not only cook food, it can dehydrate and also purify water well enough to drink.

            Unfortunately, solar thermal is not something you can count on where the sun don’t shine for much of the winter… this is our first sunny spell since November!

        • That solar oven looks pretty handy, definitely better than indoor cooking with an open fire, and also better than running out of wood altogether.

          I guess the only real concern is, how long does that clear plastic sheet last? How to replace it once it goes brittle and foggy, post-BAU? Otherwise, it is just a crutch to help get through the first few years, like solar panels.

          • merrifield says:

            My cooker has a glass lid, so it should last pretty long. I can bake bread, purify water, dehydrate food I grow and cook basically anything. I just can’t fry things in it, but other than that, it’s awesome. Obviously, it doesn’t work well on cloudy days, but hey, I live in the Pacific Northwest and know aobut clouds, and while it doesn’t reach 350 on those days, it does heat up somewhat if there’s any break in the cloud cover. AND, if I really need to use it after BAU on cloudy days, I can use another heat source to heat something up relavively briefly and then put it in the cooker. The cooker at this point (even with the cloud cover) will act as a crock pot–takes longer, but will do the job. Again, laugh all you want, Vince, but I’ll have drinkable water and cooked food with little or no fuel if I need it. I’ll also be able to preserve through dehydration any food I am able to grow. For those interested, I have an American Sun Oven.

      • xabier says:

        Yes, a lot, but country people – and eg the bakers of London – used faggots of twigs, wood from specially pollarded tree plantations, dead and fallen wood, furze from the local heath and common land, etc, for their baking.

        They did not acquire firing wood from good felled timber which was too valuable to be employed that way and in any case belonged to the landowner, Faggots of bundled wood burn better anyway.

        Bread, pies, etc were baked only once a week, not every day. Bread when the oven was hottest, pies when it was cooling. This was often communal, at least two households sharing an oven, so a further saving on fuel.

        Only the richest and the aristocracy had the privilege of nice fresh bread every day.

        As late as the mid-19th century peasants in Germany (and I am sure everywhere else!) spent much of their spare time the whole summer gathering such wood and dragging it home. I;m sure we could find ‘wood-dragging folk songs’ if we looked hard enough…..

        What did for the system was population growth from improved nutrition and hygiene: high faggot prices essentially lay at the root of the settlement of America by Northern Europeans from 1600 onwards: letters home always say ‘Hey, you won’t believe how cheap it is here compared to London!’

        • Fast Eddy says:

          xabiar – you are a font of fascinating info!

          Interesting that these people worked out how to efficiently make use of a very limited resource to cook food…

          Obviously these ideas evolved over time and were passed along and improved upon… incremental steps along the learning curve…

          Again we see how it is virtually impossible to go backwards… we would not know of the subtleties such as how to conserve our limited wood supply by baking bread and pies at different times …

          When we bake we buy ingredients at the ship then turn on the oven… or we go to the bakery…

          When BAU stops — we’ll be long dead before we are able to learn how to live in a world without energy…

          And even if we could learn fast enough — we’d burn through our last remaining energy source (wood) in very short order…

          • daddio7 says:

            “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith.”

            While there is not enough organic matter to provide cooking fuel for 7 billion people wood isn’t the only thing you can burn. As for solar cookers most people will live in small communities so there will always be plenty of eyes on the pot.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You can burn cow dung…. but there won’t be any cows once 7.4 billion starving people get through with them…

              Sofa cushions will also burn well… furniture… plastic bags….

              What else did you have in mind?

  13. jarvis says:

    In my corner of Canada I woke up to the news that pipeline companies are on the verge of bankruptcy due to all those bitumen and other oil producers not being able to pay them. What impressed me about this report is that it warned of the cascading effects of low oil prices and what would happen if the pipelines companies go bankrupt. Nothing would sink the oil industry faster than not being able use existing pipelines. I can’t imagine the railroads being able to take up the slack. What is even more interesting is the story disappeared! It was a CBC report and they archive all their stories for 48 hours or so – maybe that’s a good thing as I don’t want people getting all u upset.

    • Jan Steinman says:

      what would happen if the pipelines companies go bankrupt

      The same as when any other company goes bankrupt: someone else buys them — usually at a steep discount — and they carry on with the business — usually at a steep discount.

      The people left holding the bag are the investors and debtors of the company that goes bankrupt, not the entities that need their services. This is a mash-up of a “market adjustment” and a “debt jubilee,” whereby the bankrupt company could not could not provide services at a price the market would bear, and so its debt is evaporated, and someone else (hopefully with less-expensive debt) takes over at a lower price point.

      If all the pipeline companies were to go bankrupt all at once, oil would still flow through the pipelines, albeit at a much lower cost. The sunken capital cost of a pipeline is just too great to simply abandon.

      This is an “inconvenient truth” that the “fast, hard crash” types like to ignore. But try this thought experiment: if you could buy a $1 billion pipeline for just $1, and then net just a penny a barrel to move oil through it, wouldn’t you? The rest is just a matter of degree, and that’s what accountants are for.

      • DJ says:

        Well written. I’m surprised not anyone has screamed we need constant growth and debts has to be repayed.

      • DJ says:

        In Delusistania pipelines will be operational, but to keep prices low enough maintainence will be kept at a minimum and the least competitive will be abandoned.

      • ejhr2015 says:

        Exactly. The whole idea of a Debt Jubilee is to crash the asset value, which is what the bankers have been exploiting all along since fees flow liberally.
        I don’t know how it might work out in actuality, but the way I see it is that the “thin air” debts are simply expunged from accounts. [After all banks get this money from nothing] Banks lose revenue but not go into bankruptcy. We need banks as long as we have an economy. They can survive but with curtailed earnings. There are other wrinkles I won’t go into here, but the private debt burden on the economy is stressing it to breaking point. Government debt is not an issue by comparison.

        • “Thin air debts” as you call them are just as important as any other debts. You cannot forgive them, and leave the system standing.

          A bank creates money from thin air for a person to buy a new house, a company to do a leveraged buyout of another company, an oil company to drill in the Bakken, a student to attend school, whether the person is qualified to attend or not. The bank packages and resells these loans to others, so they don’t actually stay on the bank’s balance sheets. They are just as much a part of the system as any other loans, or bonds that companies take out for a similar purpose.

          • ejhr2015 says:

            You can still “forgive’ [wrong word!!!] them. The money came from thin air and it’s then real enough. But the situation I’m talking about is only applicable when the SHTF time arrives. Today simple bankruptcy resolves the default situation. When the national/international debt mountain gets too big to even repay interest, only something like a debt jubilee will work. The book work will have to be parsed through the chain of accounts as debts get bought and sold. CDS and other insurance deals would simply be scrapped and losses fall where they may. They are not fundamental to the economy – just the financial side and for the economy the financial side is a liability, not an asset.

            The new banking system is an extension of the existing one. Banks would survive as their solid assets are not affected by the DJ. There would be a big haircut as the interest flow would be cut short, but the banks would survive – and we need banks to survive. As I said above I’m not certain of the details but the big picture would or could work like this.

            Don’t forget, I’m not the originator of the idea. It goes back to the old testament, but its in David Graeber’s book “Debt – the first 5000 years” and economist Steve Keen had lectured on it;

            Normally banks would loathe the concept, but when the time comes they will embrace it, to save their skins.

            • I don’t know what you are talking about when you say, “They are not fundamental to the economy – just the financial side and for the economy the financial side is a liability, not an asset.”

              The economy is held together by a financial system that sends signals from one part of the economy to the other. A big part of the signals are promises to make payments in the future, because of loans made in the past. One of the things debt determines is the price of commodities. It also helps determine the price of assets like your house, and the value of a farm or a coal mine. If you forgive the debt, it tends to drop the value of the assets toward zero. It is not a good thing to do, particularly because once you forgive debt, little debt is likely to be available in the future. Thus you will not be able to sell your house, and the value of your house will truly be close to zero.

              From the point of view of those holding the debt securities, the securities are assets. Take away the debt securities, as least some of the holders (banks, insurance companies, pension funds, hedge funds) will go bankrupt. Your bank account will then disappear, as will the funds needed for payroll payments. The situation does not work out well. It makes no difference whatsoever that the fund were created out of nothing.

              The debt in the Old Testament was very different. It was much smaller in size, and it was top-down debt (from those in charge) that could easily be forgiven. This time truly is different. See Michael Hudson’s book, Killing the Host.

            • ” It is not a good thing to do, particularly because once you forgive debt, little debt is likely to be available in the future. ”

              Banks create credit by expanding their balance sheets. If their balance sheets shrink, what prevents them from expanding them once again?


            • The banks are closed because they are bankrupt.

            • “The banks are closed because they are bankrupt.”

              You think they will just be left to close, rather than going into bankruptcy protection and being restructured, the way GM was? I think the government/central bank would do that. The way it seems to mostly work in the USA is the FDIC orchestrates having another bank that is in better shape take over the insolvent bank, minus perhaps some of the liabilities.

            • It depends how bad things get. If the banks go, likely the government starts falling apart as well. Everything is tied together.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              The banks are closed because there are no customers.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              There will always be banks if there are customers. Besides that. commercial banks pay into the economy via government deposits paid into their accounts, their reserve accounts in the Fed.

            • The whole financial system is a only available because of the energy humans are able to appropriate. We could not build bank buildings, or make coins, or have enough extra time for people to learn how to set up bookkeeping accounts, if humans didn’t have supplemental energy of some sort–not necessarily fossil fuels, but enough to “win” over the contest with animals.

              I would argue that “money” should be included in the list of things that are not sustainable over the long run. It is a function of the extra energy we have gained that have allowed us to grow bigger brains, have language, and set up a civilization that animals were not able to do.

            • Don Stewart says:

              I believe your comments here (and in other places) reflect the fact that industrial civilization is at or approaching (or beyond) the point where it makes any thermodynamic sense. Similar to oil, but applying to many activities, such as growing food, purifying water, transportation systems, and the like.

              You like to go back to the evolutionary history of humans and draw conclusions which lead you to deep pessimism. Before you surrender to the pessimism, I really think you owe it to yourself to read Miraculous Abundance. In the latter chapters of the book, the authors lay out the facts and give their vision of the possible future.

              Francois Legere, an academic at an institution which has promoted industrial farming, says this in his Afterword:

              ‘What justifies a special interest in the farm Bec? A pessimistic outlook might lead one to focus on the fact that Charles and Perrine invented nothing. Mollison and Homgren gave us permaculture. Parisian gardeners in the 19th century, Elliot Coleman, John Jeavons, Pierre Rabhi, Philippe Desbrosses, and many others were there before them. Their inspirations are numerous, and they do not hide that fact, giving all their influences the same effort of reading and discovery. Their merit lies in the way they have assembled these references to promote the concept and practice of ‘ecological agriculture’, which falls within the permaculture methodology in the way it was conceived, an overall construction of a cultivated and lived-in landscape, but also highlights professional intensive biological market gardening on a very small surface. This system was built gradually, and with trial and error they are finding their way. It will continue to evolve. The dynamic of apprenticeship in the service of a coherent and adaptive global project is at the core of La Ferme du Bec Hellouin, and it can and must serve as a source of inspiration to all those wishing to do the same elsewhere, with conviction that such a path is viable, even economically feasible given the study that we have completed.’

              After discussing the scientific reasons for studying the farm, he gets personal:
              ‘I like going to Bec because it is rare and magical.’

              Most of the people who read this blog cannot conceive of a farm which is ‘rare and magical’ which relies on hand labor with some traction provided by a small horse (e.g., pulling a cart…not repeatedly plowing the land). The Herve-Gruyer’s do the math and show that France can significantly increase its forested area (with many ecological benefits) while also growing all the food and fiber France needs for 70 million people. If, in addition, it can be done in a bio-diverse landscape which is ‘rare and magical’….are you really sure you want to be a doomer?

              Don Stewart
              PS Granted, no amount of Bec-like micro-farms can support our bloated financial system.

            • Stefeun says:

              Hey Don!
              Promoting Frenchies, now? 😉

              La Ferme du Bec-Hellouin is a fantastic place, for many reasons, one of which is constant researches and trials (about all sorts of topics),
              and -perhaps more important- a regular and detailed information ; they post quite a lot on youtube, although I don’t know if some vids are EN-subtitled.

              Personally I’m not interested, but to those who are, I highly recommend to have a look.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Dear Stefeun
              I just admire excellence, wherever I see it. I admire Singing Frogs Farm in California and Bec in Normandy because both are demonstrating that actual farmers making a living can operate profitable, beautiful farms. I’ve worked on farms which were beautiful but not profitable, and profitable farms which were ugly. Excellence is a combination of beauty and profit.

              Don Stewart
              There is a old and bad joke told in the cotton patch in the Texas high plains. Old farmer decides he needs to hire some help. He goes into town and stops at the State employment office. He tells the nice young lady that he needs a ‘couple of hoers’. (You have to imagine English pronounced with a country accent to really understand this). The young lady is taken aback, and says, ‘Sir, do you mean you want to hire prostitutes?’. The old farmers says ‘Lady, I don’t care what their religion is, so long as they can chop cotton.” (chopping cotton is an old-fashioned name for weeding with a hoe). Likewise, I don’t really care what someone’s native language is, so long as they can make a beautiful and profitable farm.

            • How much food does the 1000 square meter gardening system produce? I see dollar values, but not how many people could be fed.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              How much food does the 1000 square meter gardening system produce?

              And more importantly, how much inputs does it require?

              If you keep taking nutrients (food) out, you gotta put something back in eventually, or your yields fall to nothing.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Jan Steinman
              They have a pretty detailed discussion of their fertility restoration program…the land was deemed ‘infertile’ when they bought it. They never plow, so they are accumulating soil organic matter. The soil organic matter speeds up the liberation of nutrients in the soil by the microbes. (Elaine Ingham would claim that they will never need to add mineral fertilizers.) I suspect that their promised second volume will give more details.

              There are references to ‘soil building and compost’ on 8 separate pages.

              The 1000 sq. meters was selected for the scientific study because:
              *Academic consensus was that 1000 sq. meters would never be a profitable farm
              *Small enough to study
              *Small enough to intensively manage
              The authors say that, if they were advising a young farmer, they would recommend 600 sq. meters per farmer (so…a couple might take on 1200 sq. meters). They have planted an enormous amount of fruit trees and berry bushes and they have woodlots, so there is a lot of compost material being generated elsewhere on the farm.

              Don Stewart

            • “If you keep taking nutrients (food) out, you gotta put something back in eventually, or your yields fall to nothing.”

              Doesn’t the nutrients come from the air, soil, and from fungi dissolving rocks? So as long as there is a crust on the Earth, you can’t run out. It just means you can only “mine” nutrients out at the same speed as the fungi and microbes dissolve and process the nutrients into plant-available form.

              What mass of fruits and vegetables are nutrients other than nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen? For trees, it seems like around 1 percent.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Matthew Krajcik
              This particular farm does not produce calorie crops such as potatoes or grains. As the english language study says, the farm would need to cooperate with other farms which do produce calorie crops. The authors, near the end of the book, describe what they call an Agrarian Solidarity System which features many different farmers and artisans (e.g., cheese makers or bakers) on a defined piecer of land, say 100 hectares. The farmers and artisans cooperate with each other in order to produce a complete array of food, but they are not a ‘cooperative’. This concept is somewhat similar to Joel Salatin’s notion of ‘many enterprises on a land base’. You can check the book for their detailed calculations.

              Don Stewart

            • ejhr2015 says:

              When I said ‘the financial world is the liability side of the economy’ I was paraphrasing Michael Hudson, the same one you link to. What don’t you understand about it? When I say not fundamental I mean compared to resources, Important for sure but it’s resources that say whether we live or die.

              I hope you have read the book! It’s much in tune with what I have been attempting to say in these comments. You belittled MMT; a Mistake! Michael supports it, as should anyone interested in macroeconomic f a c t s. The mainstream is mainly interested in theoretical models and the MSM and most academies are not interested in facts. MMT is not a theory in the hypothesis sense of needing proof. If you want to understand, because it is fundamental to understand how money works, take the time to read this booklet by Warren Mosler;- ” The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy”
              Once you “get” what actually happens it’s like a veil falls away in front of your eyes. Then all the fraudulent and lying behaviour of our politicians leaps out at you. All the misinformed commentary by people can be seen for what it is, ignorance. And you can see what should be done to make everyone’s lives better, not just the 1%.
              Look at Bernie Sanders’ wish list, all straight from this world. MMT guru Stephanie Kelton is his advisor. She is now on the Senate Budget committee. She might make a difference. We can only hope.

            • Michael Hudson does not understand the predicament we are in. He thinks that the world economy can grow endlessly. If a person believes in endless economic growth then MMT makes perfect sense. Of course, we should head in that direction. If you understand that economic growth has already slowed down, you understand that MMT is a failed system of the past.

              Just because a person is well-known doesn’t make what they say, correct.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              That’s a dangerous thing to say Gail. It cuts both ways. Hudson certainly doesn’t look to a collapse scenario. In this he is like most people. He is mostly criticising the way things ARE. The future is another beast altogether. I know we here are looking at what the future holds and Hudson is not particularly relevant, but can you name an economist who is?
              MMT indeed makes perfect sense but it does describe how things economic actually are today. So much of what is written here uses the present position to foretell the future. It is going to be important for sure, but parsing failed economic models, which you and others do, is only a recipe for being wrong. That should be clear, no?
              It’s only going to be a failed system of the past because in the future we are all failing. It’s not a failed system now. It is vitally relevant. I have tried to set many comments straight in pursuit of a better idea of how it will play out. We are all doing that.

            • I see MMT as a failed model right now, because it models the world as it can’t really be, except perhaps in some past period.

              Certainly, we are not going to pay the money which seems to be owed to future generations. The whole system collapses first. The point is that growing debt, which is not matched by growing resources, leads to collapse. We likely can make next to nothing, when the quantity of energy resources starts declining, because of the problems with the financial system.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              MMT is not a failed model unless you are saying our entire economy is a failed model. There would be some sense to that. MMT describes what we have NOW, just not explained by those who should know better and wants us to remain in the dark.
              As far as the Federal Government is concerned, we owe not one cent, financially, to future generations. Another damaging myth! Federal debt is like a savings account,[i’m not wasting time here explaining that] Savings accounts are easily paid back just by reversing the accounting.
              Public debt is another matter. I’ve gotten flak for talking up debt jubilees, but it’s the only way to reset the clock on debt without crashing the whole system[ I’m not going to spend more time explaining why as I’ve already done that]
              The cost is resources not money. Money is a token but it uses resources. I am sure resources are the issue which will crash the economy finally for good. We can in the meantime be entertained by money , helicopter drops, debt jubilees and so on. They will keep the system going but not forever.

            • I agree that there is no chance of us paying anything to future generations. We borrowed from them, but we have no intent of paying back what we borrowed. The system will collapse before then.

              Savings accounts are not easily paid back by reversing the accounting. We depend on banks to allow employment, among other things. we cannot get along without debt. In ages past, debt did not come through banks (It came throw those in power, as it was much smaller in size). It could be reversed, without wiping out the banking, insurance, and pension systems.

            • “Federal debt is like a savings account,[i’m not wasting time here explaining that] Savings accounts are easily paid back just by reversing the accounting.”

              In a jubilee, the lender is the one who forgives the borrower, not the other way around. Otherwise, it is called defaulting on the loan.

              The whole system is based on faith and confidence. If someone just unilaterally decides not to pay someone, or pay less than owed, everyone has less faith in that person and a little less faith in the system as a whole.

              Hyperinflation is not too much inflation, it is loss of faith / confidence in the currency – and by extension, the sovereign authority that creates that currency.

            • I responded before, but I should add, “Whether or not Steve Keen lectured on the idea doesn’t make it right.” The situation now is very different. A solution to a problem that is 5% or 10% the size of today’s problem is not the same as the solution to today’s problem.

              For example, insurance companies have always had post-insolvency assessment funds to pay for occasional insolvencies (with assessments on existing insurers). They work ok if there is only an occasional insolvency. THey don’t work at all if the whole industry is collapsing.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              When the whole industry collapses it will be everyone for themselves, No one will be repaying anyone. The debt jubilee would render repayments dead. We are not talking in an environment of 5% or 10% of todays debts, but much higher. It needs a trigger, but is inevitable.

            • Van Kent says:

              “How much food does the 1000 square meter gardening system produce?”

              In Northern Europe about 10 hectares feeds about 100 people, year round. With vegetables and potatoes, not grains. This is with insects, pests, disease, bad weather etc. etc. counted in. Something succeeds, something fails..

              That would need about 50m3 of compost annually, to fully replenish the nutrients in the soil. The compost would need about 2 tons of fish or something like that from the sea, mixed in with the compost for it to be a intergenerational solution.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Van Kent
              They are farming their land very intensively…far more intensive than most farms. They are in the tradition of John Jeavons (who contributed a blurb). If a farm is going to be this intensive in terms of production, many things must be done by hand since machinery could not adapt to it. Also note that the academics tended to dismiss out of hand the notion that a thousand sq. meters could possibly work, and said that a minimum was 2 hectares.

              Read the book and you will get a good idea what they are doing.

              Don Stewart

            • “In Northern Europe about 10 hectares feeds about 100 people, year round. With vegetables and potatoes, not grains. This is with insects, pests, disease, bad weather etc. etc. counted in. Something succeeds, something fails..”

              I sure hope the biointensive method feeds more than one person, at 43 hours per week of work year round on 1000 M^2. Otherwise, pretty much looking at zero specialization since everyone would have to garden just to live.

            • Van Kent says:

              “Intensive gardening”..

              Ok, sure. How does this intensive gardening become something different then intensive greenhouse gardening?

              Sounds like magic.

              Wonder why all the commercial greenhouses in the world have been too stupid to apply such “intensive gardening”?

            • Don Stewart says:

              Van Kent
              There is no substitute for reading the book.

              The most productive beds the farm has are two constructed islands. These islands were not included in the 1000 sq. meter study, as being ‘not typical of ordinary farms’.

              The beds studied include a mix of greenhouse covered beds and beds which are open to the sky. In the greenhouse, the beds are permanent raised beds which are not tilled, just like those which are exposed to the sky. Similar horticultural practices are followed inside and out, but the greenhouses obviously allow them to harvest through the winter (I assume they strive to have mature crops by late November which more of less march in place until the sun begins to come back in February).

              On the small farm where I worked until recently, the beds in the greenhouses were tilled, which destroys the soil carbon. Since soil carbon and compaction are key elements in productivity, you can see that the horticultural methods used on the farm I worked at are quite likely to yield less than the Bec farm.

              Remember that the supposed experts didn’t think this experiment would work.

              Don Stewart

            • “Wonder why all the commercial greenhouses in the world have been too stupid to apply such “intensive gardening”?”

              Well, if you only care about maximum profit, burning massive amounts of natural gas is no problem, nor is relying on fertilizer inputs from the oil industry.

              I think clean-room hydroponic vertical farming would be the most profitable, if you expect BAU to continue indefinitely.

              It sounds like these people are into the certified organic thing, and into trying to reduce carbon dioxide, but they either do not expect BAU to end, or they have no intentions of trying to survive post-BAU. Or, they are working on a system that requires dozens of specialists each working part of the farm.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Matthew Krajcik
              The Miraculous Abundance couple expect oil to completely disappear. Since you haven’t read the book, you have no idea what they think and how they operate.
              Don Stewart

      • Jan Steinman says:

        In defense of my post above, Tom Whipple writes:

        Some observers note that the US has a large backlog of wells that have been drilled but not yet fracked. As many of these are being acquired by new owners very cheaply, the costs of putting them back into production profitably will be considerably below that of the original owners. In effect, much of the cost of acquiring drilling rights and drilling the wells will have been absorbed as losses by the banks and other investors in the original operations. Many are saying that the US shale oil industry can increase production quickly after oil prices rebound another $20 or so.

        Looks like the banks and investors are being forced into a “debt jubilee,” and the oil will continue to flow, even after bankruptcy.

        Humanity will go out with a whimper, not with a bang.

    • psile says:

      If the customers can’t pay, then yes, they’ll go broke. Although in the interim expect the government to rate the “Too Big To Fail” as well. Shit, is there anything that isn’t too big to fail, nowadays?

      Pipeline companies threaten liens on oil producers that don’t pay

      Pipeline companies that rode the energy boom are confronting the risk that their customers, cash-starved oil producers, may not pay their bills…

      The end will be epic.

      • Stefeun says:

        “Shit, is there anything that isn’t too big to fail, nowadays?”
        very good question, Psile.

        One of them will fail, sooner rather than later, but will for sure.
        And what happens when a TBTF falls? Isn’t it likely to -a minima- hit the legs of anoher TBTF, if they’re so densely crowded?
        Get ready for a giant domino game, the ultilmate round!
        But before that, our dear gentle giants will attempt to suck to death all non-TBTF entities. We don’t know how long it’ll take them. But we’ll know when it gets started.

  14. Yoshua says:

    Steelmaker Becomes Latest Chinese Company to Miss Bond Payment
    Dongbei Special Steel’s missed payment comes just four days after the company disclosed that its former chairman, Yang Hua, was found dead by hanging at his home.

  15. I crunched a few numbers out of interest;

    Considering the following:

    The number of people who speak English who have access to the internet

    The number of regular visitors to collapsist blogs is reputed to be about 20,000


    picture yourself sitting in a large sports stadium filled with people…imagine the huge throngs and the roar…

    in all likelihood you are the only one there who is informed about civilisational collapse.

    • Christian says:

      Well, it depends very much on what do you mean with “informed”. Many friends and relatives I have are to some extent “informed”, id est they know things are going bad, that this is related to oil and finances, and that stone age is a possible near future. But they don’t want to go further in the details

      I no longer blame them, I just throw to them a few words every now and then, and I still keep trying to save as many as I can without disturbing them so much. They have learned not to talk about hi tech future nor about politics if I am present (a behaviour I severely suppress). It seems after many problems we had we finally got some peace. They do their job, which is maintaining bau, and I do mine

      • “I still keep trying to save as many as I can”

        How exactly are you ‘saving’ them? It’s not like they are Jews might have been told how scary Hitler could be in 1933 and encouraged to leave Germany. Unless you are setting up your friends and relatives in remote homesteads…?

        • Christian says:

          Well… Many Jews did escaped Hitler, didn’t they? Think about Freud and Einstein

          Just replace UK and US with “remote homesteads” (not so much attractive, but some of those people have kids and care for them)

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I assume by save you mean help them to understand that the end of the world is near — and it is guaranteed — as is their death.

        Why would you want to do that?

        Your attempts to ‘save them’ is likely to put many of them in the asylum with chronic depression … or at least addicted to Abilify…

    • Froggman says:

      Yup, that sounds like my life at this point. All alone in a crowd…

    • I have over 20,000 subscribers to my blog. Quite a few people (3 to 5 times as many, perhaps) read it elsewhere. There are a lot of others writing as well.

      I think your numbers are low.

      Maybe not all of these are “regular visitors,” but quite a few are.

  16. Zac says:

    You are only getting half the story….how could you be so sure of anything? For all you know there could be another form of energy out there that they are just waiting for oil to run out….or they are waiting to start the next world war……or spread a virus that knocks out half the population….a lot of the comments here seem to be geared to thinking that you have a front row seat and the PTB are in the cheap seats and have no idea of what is going on….the only place you seem right is that the SHTF part….other than that it is all wild speculation….I guess some have more free time than others…

    • “or they are waiting to start the next world war”

      Is just me or does that old canard that nation-states start world wars to get themselves out of their domestic pickles seem a little dubious? It’s so often repeated that people seem to take it at face value but i have my doubts….

      • Don Stewart says:

        I think you will find this illuminating:

        Clearly, the Japanese leadership is thinking that military spending, if not actual war, and a publicized struggle against China will help them accomplish Keynesian stimulus.

        I’m not an expert on Japan, but if I remember correctly, they paved almost every square foot of Japan trying to get the stimulus they wanted. It failed.

        What worked in 1939 to jolt economies out of stagnation may very well not work in 2016, because circumstances have changed. In addition, nuclear weapons make the whole thing far riskier.

        Don Stewart

        • Vince the Prince says:

          Ahhh, need a break from all this….let us go back in time when things were much simpler and problems were our own doing and in control

        • Yes it is true that military spending equals stimulus, but military spending does not ipso facto entail the need for multi-regional wars. Both America and the U.S.S.R (have) managed to keep their warring confined to proscribed skirmishes and maintained military spending through ‘perceived threats’.

          The 1939 example is flawed too. America was still in danger of extending its depression in 1945. Arms production had done little to change economic conditions. The Marshall Plan was primarily a means to secure foreign markets for American goods. Germany’s economic revival was in part due to re-armament (though this can be exaggerated because public works programmes were equally fortuitous). However, the re-armament was not the primary reason for world war. Hitler’s own personal delusions of empire were.

          There’s a lot of taken for granted assumptions that bear examining.

          • Addendum:

            It was the build out of suburbia (or the harnessing of petroleum for consumer culture if you will) that brought America it’s prosperity, not war-based debt creation.

            • Don Stewart says:

              I see that you are a true Keynesian. Spending brings prosperity.

              I don’t agree with you, but don’t expect to change your mind. Let me just give you one thing to think about. In Nature, where there is no waste, there is a great proliferation of species in many different niches. All of them driven, ultimately, by sunlight. By 1800 Earth enjoyed a stable climate and an unbelievable abundance of life. With nothing we would recognize as pollution coming from non-human sources.

              But human designed systems are not very good at all in terms of recycling. Human systems do generate a great deal of waste…not the least of which is the CO2 which poisons our atmosphere and oceans.

              Simply spending more money on Keynesian stimulus does nothing to further our ability to produce real goods and services in a sustainable way….which should be our real goal.

              Don Stewart

          • Don Stewart says:

            I am not sure what Keynes meant by what he said at the invasion of Poland. But the simplest explanation is that he thought that a lot of money spent on building up the military would make everyone in Britain richer. If I remember correctly, after the invasion of Poland there was a period of ‘phony war’, when nothing much happened. Then the Blitz happened and the Low Countries and France fell very rapidly, with the British forces barely rescued from Dunkirk.

            I doubt that Keynes would have been so chipper after Dunkirk.

            Some wise elder statesman in the US (I forget who) said that wars quickly get out of control. The NATO posturing in eastern Europe and in Syria and in Afghanistan are always poking the Russian Bear in the eye. The inability of the US spokesman to explain whether the Syrian government wresting control of Palmyra away from ISIS is a good thing or a bad thing is indicative that the US policy is either simply incoherent or else is something that cannot be said in public. I vote for the latter as the probable explanation.

            The Wolfowitz Doctrine is that the US could ‘win’ a nuclear war with Russia. I find that completely insane.

            So the first possibility is that the US and Europe really want a war with Russia.

            The second possibility is more like the Chinese Army. When Rumsfeld visited China early in the 21st Century, he asked rhetorically ‘why do they need such a big military?’. There were probably two answers. First, they needed an outlet for young men who were underemployed in the provinces. Second, they needed to protect themselves against Japan and the US and India. There had also been tensions with Russia. The US army has been a place where poor and poorly educated young people have gone (especially since the draft ended). But the US has chosen to build very expensive weapons systems, rather than expand the size of the military.

            In summary, I think that the ‘war as stimulus” explanation is sometimes true. Sometimes politicians need enemies to point at (certainly has been true for Obama, and now true especially for the Republican candidates for nomination). Sometimes countries have conflicting agendas which lead them into war (as the struggle between the various European empires in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries), and sometimes countries just stumble into wars.

            Don Stewart

            • Don,
              The Wolfowitz doctrine is behind the ‘defensive’ missile placements America has been making in eastern Europe and Asia. The thinking (allegedly) is that the missiles can take out Russia and China’s intercontinental missiles thereby enabling America to ‘win’ a nuclear war. This helps explain the sometimes bellicose rhetoric and actions of American foreign policy while Russia and China appear to be less provoking.

            • I think you are being a little too reactive to a word that has a great variability in connotation.

              I was using the word ‘prosperity’ in the context of ‘opposite to economic depression’.

              I do not need a lecture on sustainability and the fundamental wrongs of industrial civilisation’s priorities.

  17. Pintada says:

    Dear Ms. Tverberg;

    The other day, I tried to share my cure for insomnia with Daddio7. That comment was deleted, and I haven’t seen a comment by him since. In my comment, I mentioned that I suffered from insomnia for several years, but I didn’t mention that my fathers life was shorted by his inability to sleep. Watching him suffer made me highly motivated to find a way to sleep routinely, and I found it. I use something that apparently cannot be mentioned on FW. I won’t mention it a lot, but this is a good primer on what the “war on drugs” is really about. Enjoy.


    Highly Yours,

    • daddio7 says:

      Thanks for your concern. I just spent a week with my wife taking her 78 year old father on a week long trip to the mountains of North Carolina. His wife died last year and he wanted to visit the places he loved to go camping with his family before he lost his mobility. I did find out that long days of driving, mountain air, and a king sized bed in a motel room are a cure for insomnia, at least temporarily. Of course I only slept four hours in the two days before we left. Fortunately my wife drove the first two days. She let me drive in the mountains after I had gotten some sleep.

      The testosterone shots have given me much more energy, now I have to motivate myself to go out in the Florida heat several hours a day to wear myself out. I have a good garden going so tending that should give me good exercise and provide a healthier diet for my wife and me.

      On the Blue Ridge Parkway we visited settlement recreations that demonstrated how the first European settlers lived in the mountains. Driving back down the Eastern coast through Charlotte, North Carolina I saw how we live today while stuck in traffic for an hour. They all think it is going to go on forever.

    • Stefeun says:

      Yes Pintada,
      not only for that, but all this puritanical hypocrisy is really tiresome.

      Frankly irritating when it’s gaining momentum and becomes the official norm (as is now in France).

      • DJ says:

        Yes, legalize all drugs. But only after shutting down all welfare.

        Oh, wait, both will happen whether we want it or not.

        • ejhr2015 says:

          Why would you shut down welfare?

        • illegal status keeps the price high = huge profits = payoffs for banking classes = political power = maintenance of status quo

          • “illegal status keeps the price high = huge profits = payoffs for banking classes = political power = maintenance of status quo”

            Except the banks don’t get the money, the drug lords hold it all in cash in massive piles, removing it from circulation and preventing that money from being used as collateral so the banks can expand their balance sheets.

            Here’s a picture of $10 billion USD in drug money, which if deposited in a bank could become $500 billion in loans:

            • ejhr2015 says:

              That idea of all that cash allowing banks to create 500billion dollars is out of date. The banks can do it without any such cash. It’s called the Credit Creation Theory which has superceded the Fractional Reserve Theory you refer to. All that cash will be destroyed although a few notes in good condition might be saved as vault cash.

            • “That idea of all that cash allowing banks to create 500billion dollars is out of date. The banks can do it without any such cash. ”

              Depends on whether the bank is in a jurisdiction that has reserve ratio requirements or not. In the United States, for example, it looks like the Reserve requirement would actually be 10 percent, so only $100 billion in loans could be created:

              However in Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, they have no reserve but have Capital Requirements instead:

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I’m not in Banking, but I don’t think the reserve ratio is a simplistic as it sounds. The reserve obligation with the Federal reserve is for example only, for the whole banking sector, $107Billion, so you can see that is trivial compared to the loan money out in the economy. The excess reserves, money the private sector etc have in the Fed is $2.4 Trillion. This where much of the QE money went. It pays better than commercial loans even at just 35 basis points, it’s guaranteed by the federal governments so what’s not to like?

            • “The excess reserves, money the private sector etc have in the Fed is $2.4 Trillion”

              Excess reserves are additional deposits the banks store at the Federal Reserve – it means they are lending out less than they are allowed to. Maybe they anticipate that defaults may occur in the near future.

              I’m pretty sure the rest of the private sector cannot deposit money directly at the Federal Reserve.

              ” This where much of the QE money went.” QE is, as far as I understand, where the Central Bank – in the case of America, the Federal Reserve – buys up US Treasuries to lower the yields. Are you just saying that the banks took the money from selling treasuries to the Fed and deposited it at the Fed? That’s exactly what they are supposed to do, deposit the money and then create loans. However, if the loans would have risk disproportionate to the yield, it obviously would be better not to create those loans until the interest rate compensates for the risk.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Lock Paul Krugman in that room and ask him to make a baloney sandwich….

  18. Yoshua says:

    About the Breakeven Price and the Marginal Cost of Shale Oil.

    I just realized the time aspect of Shale Oil production: the oil production in a drilled and fracked oil well drops some 70 percent after the first year. If the oil price falls below the Breakeven price during that year… than that well will never Breakeven no matter what the Marginal Cost would be.

  19. MG says:

    A nice video about the actual nuclear technology currently being installed in Slovakia:


    This energy is not cheap, it will be consumed by the robots in the new car production capacities, as the population is ageing…

    • And what do they have to replace it with? Regular energy isn’t doing so well either. Taking down nuclear plants doesn’t seem like it has a good return.

      • I must study it in detail yet, but it seems some countries are attempting sort of semi-autarky maneuvers energywise, e.g. Poland seems to diverge and shield itself from the western Burse set electricity futures. On the other hand Germany’s wholesale grid continues to fall into really crazy bellow ultra low prices 2020.

        Simply, I posit, given the trends, the common market will brake along many seems, the electricity energy market expected as one of the first to do so, it’s strategic, national players won’t allow triggering total disruption from certain threshold.

      • Stefeun says:

        What’s more, what they label as “clean” energies or technologies,

        might be cleaner for the right-thinking westerner, and allow the rich nations to show good figures for the transition (haha!) and blame the poor for keeping burning coal (hahaha!),

        are for sure the dirtiest on earth, if compared to others on same scale.
        For example:

        • ejhr2015 says:

          One of the reasons life expectancy was so low in earlier centuries has been discovered to be indoor air quality. Wood and coal fires produce a lot of smoke which before every house had a chimney filled it with smoke. Coal produces less smoke but more of the other harmful particles. What it meant was that it debilitated the health of the occupants and they were much more likely to succumb to illness. It’s vital to get lots of oxygen but they were deprived. and died in mass.

          • xabier says:

            In fact, peasants in Europe seem to have believed that inhaling wood smoke was good for their general health – a kind of constant fumigation!

            Chimneys arrived very late in European architecture, even among the wealthy: the Great Hall of my College at university dates to 1511, and only had a hole in the roof to let the smoke out and no fireplace at all, until central heating arrived in the late 19th century.

            I think Eastern Europeans and Germans/Swiss had sealed stoves by the 16th century? Travellers from France then were surprised that people in Germany actually took off clothes when they went indoors instead of putting them on to guard against indoor chils.

            It may very well have weakened people, but we shouldn’t forget that dysentery was the biggest cause of death in the 17th century,the earliest for which we have decent records. I suspect the towns were so insanitary that even with electric fires they would have died like flies…..

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We’ll be drowning in our own feces post BAU….

            • “We’ll be drowning in our own feces post BAU….”

              Only the people in densely packed areas. Although, nearly everywhere, pure clean water is hard to come by without filtration …

            • Jan Steinman says:

              We’ll be drowning in our own feces post BAU…

              Only the people in densely packed areas.

              It doesn’t have to be this way.

              In Edo Japan, farmers paid city people for their dung, and hauled it away on foot! No BAU necessary!

              So it is possible to have a city of over a million with pre-carbon technology. It remains to be seen how many can make such a transition. I’m ready.

            • “In Edo Japan, farmers paid city people for their dung, and hauled it away on foot! No BAU necessary!”

              Didn’t they still have massive problems with parasites and fecal coliforms?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Infections with gastrointestinal parasitic helminths indigenous to Japan and their treatment historically studied in an attempt to control the diseases in countries where they are still rampant: (1) the Jomon to Edo periods. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20527291

              Toxic archipelago: a history of industrial disease in Japan
              The Hitotsubashi lord, for example, sold the night soil from his residence to a … Japan’s modernizers replaced the pungently odiferous Tokugawa system with the … human waste bred flies, mosquitoes, and bacteria, while intestinal parasites, …


              As expected — Edo Japan experienced the same problems that would be expected when you try to compost human shit…. disease …death… disgust…

            • pulling worms out of the anus using chopsticks … hmm … not exactly something to look forward to.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Welcome to NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

              The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

              Infections with gastrointestinal parasitic helminths indigenous to Japan and their treatment historically studied in an attempt to control the diseases in countries where they are still rampant:

              (1) the Jomon to Edo periods.

              Infections with gastrointestinal parasitic helminthes were historically surveyed from the Jomon period to the end of the Edo period in Japan.

              The parasitic helminthes whose eggs or symptoms were shown in the remains and bibliographies are the roundworm, whipworm, liver fluke, Yokogawa’s fluke and the cestode, Diphyllobothrium sp.

              The first two are soil-transmitted nematodes and the other three parasitic helminths are those with which people are infected following eating raw fish.

              The infection routes provide valuable information on the environments, life-style and customs in those days. The eggs of the soil-transmitted parasites have the thick shells resistant to the environments.

              Humans are infected with the parasites after the eggs are orally ingested with soil, dust, vegetables grown with night soil or manure

              When the custom of the night soil was started in the history of Japan was discussed with this infection route. In ancient times, feces are thought to have been discarded. In the Medieval Period, they were started to be used as a fertilizer. No mature types of manure were used until the modern times (already in the Edo period).

              To our idea, no recoveries of eggs of hookworms causing severe anemia do not necessarily mean that people were not infected with the parasites in those days because the eggs are covered with thin shells liable to rupture.

              The latter fact of the eggs of the platihelminths, C. sinensis, M. yokogawai and D. latum has something to do with Japanese traditional eating customs, unequivocally demonstrating that they ate raw fish from the Nara Period, at latest, until today.

              Whether eggs of the cestode (D. latum) are found in Jomon remains, Momijiyama Iseki, Hokkaido should be investigated. If no eggs of the cestode are found in their toilet site or elsewhere, it could be concluded that they did not have the custom of eating raw salmon.

              Such a conclusion would be itself a new fact. One of the effective treatments for the cestode (D. latum) sometimes still carried out in the 21st century in Japan, is binding worms from the anus using chopsticks. This method can be traced back to the Edo period as far as this investigation is concerned. Though the historical studies on anthelmintics are in progress, there seem to be no effective anthelmintics leaving nothing to be desired to the present authors’ knowledge.


              Full research document here http://www.pubpdf.com/pub/20527291/Infections-with-gastrointestinal-parasitic-helminths-indigenous-to-Japan-and-their-treatment-histori

              Seems it’s not a very good idea to mix human feces and gardening… seems a lot of people were infected with deadly parasites in Edo Japan because they fertilized with their feces….

            • Fast Eddy says:

              “One of the effective treatments for the cestode (D. latum) sometimes still carried out in the 21st century in Japan, is binding worms from the anus using chopsticks.”

              If you are going to use your fecal matter to grow veggies post BAU — it would be a good idea to stockpile chopsticks


            • Jan Steinman says:

              Didn’t they still have massive problems with parasites and fecal coliforms?

              According to Just Enough, by Azby Brown, no.

              They had very sophisticated water systems, and knew not to cross the two.

              I strongly recommend this book to any who are interested in a pre-fossil-sunlight sustainable civilization. It was not without its problems, but they managed to avoid most growth problems over a couple centuries, until Admiral Perry barged in and opened the doors to profligate European ways. (And thanks to Don Stewart for sending me a copy!)

            • Jan Steinman says:

              And you can either believe a PhD architect, Kanazawa Institute of Technology professor of architecture, and the Director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo, or you can believe some Doomster Google Jockey† who spent twelve seconds and fifty keystrokes in a vain attempt to shoot down someone else’s life’s work.

              You decide.

              † I do not reply to that person directly. Indeed, I delete his postings on sight. I only saw his demented negativity on composting manure quoted by someone else, and decided it warranted response. Those who say something cannot be done should not interfere with those who are doing it.

            • Don Stewart says:

              Jan Steinman
              Don Stewart

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Are you putting your feces onto your garden?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              See my previous post re: Edo Japan and their use of human shit….

            • Christopher says:

              “Chimneys arrived very late in European architecture, even among the wealthy: the Great Hall of my College at university dates to 1511, and only had a hole in the roof to let the smoke out and no fireplace at all, until central heating arrived in the late 19th century.”

              Keeping the smoke inside the room gives a better efficiency from the heat of the fire. An open fire is otherwise really ineffective. In scandinavia it was common to have a lid to the hole in the roof. After a while, as the smoke became colder, you vented the smoke by opening the lid. Typically, most of the smoke gathered from breast hight and above. It would be endurable below. This can still be seen in really old houses since you find a layer of soot on the walls from the height of your breast.

              Of course, this practise led to a lot of breathing disorders, which is thought to have led to the practice of sleeping in a half sitting manner using plenty of cushions. Lying down can be diffcult if you are having a breathing disorder. The half sitting way of sleeping led to very small beds. Looking at these old beds you easily believe that people where much smaller before.

              The masonry heater must have increased quality o life enormously…

            • Stefeun says:

              I was told the reason for those small beds and sleeping sat was that full laying position was reserved to dead people.
              I didn’t really trust this story, and your explanation makes much more sense. Thanks.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I toured a castle in Holland where we were shown short beds with the kids in drawers underneath.
              You could only sleep sitting up. The reason given was that if you lay at full stretch the devil would enter your mouth, I suppose as it was bound to fall open in sleep. I haven’t heard the dead version.

            • This is very interesting, how the need (and not need because of climate) for masonry heater became widespread around different parts of Europe. You are right that by Renaissance throughout CEE it was “mandatory” to have several of them even in smaller country estates with several rooms, therefore many chimneys on roof everywhere, although there was also a neat trick of combining smoke channels of several rooms into one big smokestack. In this respect France was perhaps still deep into the Medieval age, but was a bit ahead in other areas like park arrangements etc., lolz.

              Ordinary people used to have a cheaper version of masonry heater with the heat transferring bricks only on the inside, I recall visit to a tiny alpine “peasant” household-museum of 16-17th century origin, they have had small masonry heater with a “double decker” beds on top of it, very clever and efficient, and very short as people were way smaller in height.


            • Christopher says:


              in fact your explanation is not entirely untrue. Superstition increased the fear of sleeping horizontally. Many continued to sleep half sitting also after they had masonry heaters installed.

            • Christopher says:

              Fast eddy,

              “Are you putting your feces onto your garden?”

              This guy has been doing it for decades and is thriving:


              The problem with chinese and maybe also japanese night soil is that it is not composted. It’s quite immediately spread at the field, this of course not free of risk. Properly composted even night soil from a cholera hospital woudn’t be a risk. Doing it the right way is actually easy according to “humanure handbook”. The book also refers to scientic studies.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ya I guess all those people over the centuries who died from diseases related to eating pathogens from human shit just didn’t know what they were doing….

            • Jan Steinman says:

              This guy has been doing it for decades and is thriving

              Joe Jenkins is amazing! His main line of work is installing traditional slate roofing. He travels all over the world, giving workshops on this traditional, lost art.

              Humanure is just a sideline, and he’ll come do a workshop for free (well, he used to) if it lined up with one of his slate gigs. He has made his book available for free download — worth the effort!

              Despite what our resident Doomster Google Jockey will gleefully tell you they found in ten seconds of searching, properly composted humanure has never hurt anyone, and it will be necessary for our survival.

              What’s more, there are many, many effective herbal vermifuges available. If our resident Doomster Google Jockey found evidence of intestinal parasite infestation in Edo Japan, I’ll wager it was among the poor and lower class — just as it still is in the modern world. Anyone who can read and who has access to <a href="http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=Grieve+a+Modern+Herbal“>Grieve’s A Modern Herbal should not have to worry about intestinal parasites.

              Here in the Pacific Northwest, the First Nations used chittum bark (Rhamnus purshiana) to expel parasites. I’m sure Japan has many similar plants available.

              Those who are fearful or scornful of the way things once were and the way they soon will be are going to be among the first to roll over and die.

            • I’m not sure why FE is periodically going nuts about topics solved long go, it’s true that in the deepest of collapses where populations move and knowledge is lost through generations this could occur, we are not there yet, nor it is related to this discussion of settled people. Also it’s true if the known best practice is not applied and understood widely, you risk contagion by visiting such place or trading with such people.

              To the point, at least for past 20-30yrs family home (micro) sized waste water treatment installations are affordable, proven, easy to install, it’s basically a big container or drum sized contraption laying bellow your garden. You can run the aerator unit inside via 12VDC solar or geared it on the surfaces via small draft animal few hours per day like goat or dog for the SHTF minded. Your are set for decades, there are host of other pressing worries, certainly not this one.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ll be sure to make a run up to Walmart and pick up one of those for all my friends and family here in Canada before I leave on the weekend…

              I’d hate to know that post BAU they are all dying from parasite infections….

            • “Your are set for decades, there are host of other pressing worries, certainly not this one.”

              Sure, those who are prepared will be prepared. What about the millions of people around you who rely on city sewage that won’t be prepared? How do you force them to build proper sewage systems post-BAU?

              I think warlordism may be the best possible solution, people may need to be forced to do the right thing at the point of a gun, rather than be left to their own devices.

            • Christopher says:

              Fast Eddy,

              “ya I guess all those people over the centuries who died from diseases related to eating pathogens from human shit just didn’t know what they were doing….”

              As a matter of fact, they did not know what they were doing. The knowledge about germs is quite young…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              While night soil might have helped China’s land retain crucial nutrients, it didn’t win any awards for public health. Because the night soil was often untreated, pathogens could easily be transferred to both humans and food (so eating raw vegetation was seriously frowned upon).


              How many of the 7.4B people on the planet would know how to safely compost human feces?

            • Christopher says:

              Fast Eddy,

              the chinese method of using night soil is not a good solution. In “Humanure handbook” a better system is described, which is both easy and cheap.

              Concerning your question:

              “How many of the 7.4B people on the planet would know how to safely compost human feces?”

              Very few.

        • It is amazing how the term “clean” energy has stuck.

        • xabier says:

          Yes, that’s what the slick Euro Green Utopia is built on. All rather sickening.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Thanks god for that ….

        Now can we just get back to the more efficient way of producing electricity — burning coal — instead of burning coal to make expensive solar panels and toxic batteries…

        Who’s stupid idea was it to fund this nonsense in the first place

        • Academics and politicians.

          EROEI was considered “adequate.”

        • Nut says:

          Grasshopper, you seem to have acquired a dreadful fixation: ??

          Fecal isn’t far from fecundity!

          Nutrients are the key. Life is cyclical whether you like it or not.

          Ofttimes you appear to be a parody of the uberdoomer.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Tell you want ….

            Spring is around the corner …. why don’t you try an experiment … start a little garden… have all members of your family squat and drop their feces into the garden…

            Till that into your soil… then try growing some tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers… then make a salad with that… then come back and tell me all about my fixation…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Fecal pollution of water from a health point of view is the contamination of water with disease-causing organisms (pathogens) that may inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of mammals, but with particular attention to human fecal sources as the most relevant source of human illnesses globally. Ingestion of water contaminated with feces is responsible for a variety of diseases important to humans via what is known as the fecal-oral route of transmission.

              In 1998, it was estimated that 2.2 million deaths were associated with diarrhea each year, a good percentage of them due to fecal pollution of water, with the vast majority of victims being children in poor countries. This should not be a surprise as it has been estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and more than 2 billion lack sanitation.


              The thing is…

              When you have large numbers of people shitting in unsanitary conditions (i.e. without sewage treatment)…. the shit gets into the water …. you drink the water…. you die…

              Of course we could boil the water killing the pathogens in the shit before we drink it… you could burn your furniture … then get your axe out and start chopping down trees….

              During the middle ages people burned forests to boil water and make charcoal… let’s take a look at what happened….


              Fortunately – before the entire planet was ‘Easter Islanded’ fossil fuels were put to use…

              We’ll shortly pick up where we left off in the 1800’s….

          • “Nutrients are the key. Life is cyclical whether you like it or not.”

            Sure, I’m still pretty confident that a gravity operated septic system is the better way to recycle human poop into fertilizer, by anaerobic, then aerobic digestion, then by harvesting and composting the plants that grow on the septic field.

            People pushing around wheelbarrows of fresh human poop does not seem like a sanitary solution that one should plan for in one’s vision of an idyllic post-BAU society. It is likely what will happen anyways, and with it, the worms and bacteria that goes with it.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            Fecal isn’t far from fecundity!

            Love it! Worth repeating!

      • Artleads says:

        Good old intuition chimes in again: Keep the nuke plants that can be maintained for all we’re worth, but also monitor and protect them in like manner. And plan to do the latter forever.

      • doomphd says:

        It may be a good plan to shut down nuclear plants while we still have grid power and fossil fuels to burn. Waiting to shut them down in the future might hazard there being a time when no power and/or civil disorder leaves them to their own devices. See Fast Eddy posts for details.

        • Artleads says:

          But since there isn’t an alternative plan if the nukes were shut down (and I can’t see the world shutting them down), the easier and more doable course might be to ration fossil fuels to perpetually safeguard the plants?

          • DJ says:

            Sweden has volonteered as a Guinea pig. Being fossil free and self sufficient in electricity they intend to shut down nuclear.

          • Artleads says:

            DJ and doomphd, I hope I’m wrong, and that our civilization is better than I think. James Hansen’s championing of nuclear (albeit much safer kinds?) has me confused. Are we going to get off nuclear, or are we not? We need to be clear. Gail shows how intricately interwoven is the energy economy. I just can’t see the steps along the way.

            • DJ says:

              I think the plans goes along these lines:
              We shut down nuclear (about 40% of electricity production)
              Then winter comes
              Then we become really really cold
              Then we become really really motivated making solar & wind work

              Unfortunately our houses are already built in ways that make foreign houses energy needs sound absurd

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Then we become really really motivated making solar & wind work’

              Yes – I am sure that is what it will take to make 1+1=7… a circle a square.

              And while we are at it we’ll also be able to pick apples from orange trees…. just need a bit of suffering to make it work

            • “And while we are at it we’ll also be able to pick apples from orange trees…. just need a bit of suffering to make it work”

              I think that is part of Juche:

              You see, it is the will of the people that matters, not energy or capital.

            • DJ says:

              Did I mention sweden is increasing population by 5% a year and is going for 100% fossile free transportation by 2030 (which would imply EV is 100% of new sales before 2020).

  20. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    At that link click on the latest entry, then scroll down to the two charts on Japan. The first shows the huge selloff of japanese stocks and the 2nd shows the equally rising investment in foreign bonds. The investment flight from Japan is in full swing.

    Also continuing scrolling down from there until you hit the chart on Brazil. Ouch!

  21. Yoshua says:

    Capex in upstream oil and gas grew exponentially until the oil price stopped supporting the investments… and then collapsed with the oil price. It looks as if the problem started in 2012.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      That’s a dramatic drop in Capex.

      What we can also see is the exponentially rising cost of Capex starting in about 2001. That chart may end up being the best indicator of peak oil.

      • Yoshua says:

        Something peaked.

      • Energy production glut + weak global economy are the major culprits for this effect.
        Only after the y/y depletion starts to eat serious chunks of energy production there would be a reaction, and we don’t have a firm date for it, it could be before 2020 or 2025 or 2035? So far all arrows point to prolonged “undeclared” depression – stagnation, market volatility mopped up by central banksters. For how long, again impossible to say, we have not reached peak crazy, that’s for sure.

  22. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    That’s a very interesting article for those that can handle some reading. It’s suggesting that beyond all the false government stats, we can see the decline of civilization via the lack of culture and creativity as old movie and TV plots get endlessly rehashed.

    • “I personally don’t go to the movies anymore, nor do I own a TV. ”

      That’s funny, for a person who does not watch TV or movies to anecdotally comment on the lack of new content in TV and movies. How would you know, if you don’t watch?

      Of course, the big budget movies are remakes and sequels. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie is a huge risk. Of course it is safer to go with a remake or sequel you can have some confidence will at least make back its investment.

      Also, of course movies are moving more towards spectacle and action and special effects. The less a movie is dependant on dialogue, the more of a worldwide audience it can attract. Drama and Comedy are far more local and contextual than a superhero movie. Waterworld began this trend, losing money domestically, but making huge money worldwide. Now, we have X-Men bringing in a big name Chinese actress to broaden appeal and bring in more revenue from Asia.

      Actors and Actresses are selected for big budget movies based on their overseas appeal, since foreigners watch movies based primarily based on the cast. If you want a good indication of whether you will like a movie or not as a North American, pay attention to the director, and to a lesser extent, the studio.

      Indie and smaller budget movies, along with TV series, are where you are more likely to find innovation, and a stronger focus on drama and comedy and less on action, special effects and overall spectacle.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I watch perhaps a dozen indie movies per year…. maybe 1 or 2 hollywood productions…

        The indies are far superior to almost all hollywood shite…

        Now clearly hollywood could easily release thoughtful movies… they could simply buy the rights to indie movies and roll them out across the world…

        But they don’t.

        Why might that be?

        From the protocols: Corrupt minds with filth and perversion

        They DONT want to. They DONT want people to think.

        I observe it on a daily basis during this stay in Canada — the celebration of idiocy by great masses of people…. I heard on the radio the other day that at ball games you can buy TWO pieces with a huge piece of hamburger in between – for $22…. clearly people think that is awesome!

        This is being done on purpose. Idiots (particularly smart ones) are perfect sheeple…. politics? Who gives a shit about politics… elect Rob Ford the crack smoker… (poor Rob died the other day …. boooo hooo)

        Idiocracy has arrived… if you are immersed in it you likely would not realize it …. but stepping into this world of strip malls and traffic backed up around the block trying to get into the parking lots to buy MORE…. it is difficult not to feel that one has stepped into a madhouse….

    • Christian says:

      Spot on. We live in a dead culture. As for movies, only animation for kids (Pixar) is doing interesting things (this is related to the infantilization of adults we talked about a couple of years ago).

      And there are no more interesting intellectuals or artists of any kind. As far I can see, there is almost nothing you can call brilliant

      • ejhr2015 says:

        As with similar comments elsewhere here, I think we can see that Europe has become sort of retirement home. past its best and somewhat comfortably waiting for the end. When I lived there in the late 1960’s and through the 70’s there was plenty of energy in the population. But returning in later years, the last time in 2008 before the GFC, already one could sense the torpor and unease in nations then. It’s only worsened. Europe now is like a tourist playground for most part, credit spent up to the eyeballs. Coasting, not creating wealth, except financial for some. It’s not going to last. The credit driven travel boom will soon be over. Banking as it is will soon be over. It will be toxic all round. Already the migrant influx is disturbing the mix, and that will not end well.

      • “As for movies, only animation for kids (Pixar) is doing interesting things (this is related to the infantilization of adults we talked about a couple of years ago).”

        I think again this comes down to money. The broader the audience, the more money you can make. So just as action movie remakes and sequels are made with little dialogue and actors that are popular overseas to maximize global sales, if you want to make a movie focused on the plot and have some interesting ideas, it is best to make it G-rated to reach the maximum English speaking population.

        This is not just about greed; when big movies cost hundreds of millions to make, flops cannot be allowed to happen.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          You don’t have to make the movie – there are loads of outstanding indie movies that hollywood could acquire distribution rights to for peanuts…

          Hollywood is not interested — Hollywood is a division of the propaganda machine…. along with the MSM news … and the education system…

          Whatever message is being disseminated has been well thought through…. and the dominant them is idiocy — glorify, celebrate and perpetuate buffoonery….

          Buffoons don’t question – they don’t get angry — give them shit movies — endless rubbish on the teevee — endless sports — and for those that are unable to afford 341 pizza and family sized cokes… you keep them happy with food stamps…

          Oh – and you also make sure anyone who is remotely unhappy is made to feel it is their fault — and you feed them mind dulling drugs…

          ‘Comparisons periodically have been made between Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World and the epidemic of psychiatric drugging of America. But when the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons publishes an article, effectively warning that the drugging has hit such outrageous levels that any remaining lines that separate fact from fiction no longer exist, it is of note’ http://www.cchrint.org/2016/03/24/journal-of-american-physicians-surgeons-warns-brave-new-world-is-here/

          This is not an accident – this is not about making money — this is about crowd control.

  23. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    The most cogent argument I have seen supporting the notion that oil production has always been about physics:

    ‘Since the beginning of the oil age the world has extracted 1,470 Gb of oil. Except for a tiny fraction of that production (0.02%) which is in storage, it was all consumed. That is, demand has followed production exactly for the last 150 years regardless of the price, or the production volume. The idea that there is a relationship between volume of production and price, which results in demand is ridiculous. Until recently, all the oil produced was consumed.

    The reason has been because until recently oil was a very good value to the economy. The benefit of oil was greater than its price. That is what powered the stellar growth that the economy has witnessed for the last 150 years. That powering occurred because oil provided energy; it required less energy to produce it than it provided. That situation has now changed; it now requires more energy to produce it than it delivers. The result is that the economy can no longer grow.

    Without growth the economy can not generate the demand needed to use any additional oil that is produced. As time progresses, and the energy to produce oil and its products increases it will not be able to use what is already being produced. The economy shrinks, demand goes down and so does the price. That is what is presently occurring.

    When producers can no longer make money producing oil they will extract any cash that they can from their assets, and stop producing it. The Laws of Physics ultimately determines the deposition of oil; economics is a manifestation of an over active human imagination. It is a sideshow in a theatrical play called “Reality”.’

    Back to me. If the analysis is correct, then all the speculation you hear about price and demand curves is just fluff. Economics 101 is of no help in charting the fate of a barrel of oil which equates to such a vast number of energy slaves.

    Technology is still relevant…as are miracles. Extraction, refining, and distribution have been honed to a fine science, but some advances may still be possible. In the ‘miracle’ camp I would put some method for being able to life the oil to the surface without having to lift the water in the water cut.

    In my own opinion, each month that goes by increases the credibility of the theory stated above.

    Don Stewart

    • Artleads says:

      Loved the quote. A different subject, but one that might interest you:


      • Don Stewart says:

        There are a couple of companies in the US who are attempting to put together generic ‘machines that built civilization’. So, for example, you have a generic vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

        A friend of mine likes to photograph infrastructure. Which leads him to lots of interesting places and more than a few interesting backyards. In one of the backyards, he found replicas of Messerschmidt and Zero fighter planes from WWII. He found engines somewhere or other and built the rest from parts he bought off the shelf.

        The description of the Belgian program sounds very much like a ‘bacterial construction set’. That is, genes float around the pool of bacteria very frequently and very easily. A current theory of evolution claims that, instead of Darwinian competition, evolution is best thought of as the result of opportune gene swapping…particularly among the microbes.

        Don Stewart

        • the heat engine built what we currently know as civilisation
          everything else is a derivative of that, one way or another

          • Stefeun says:

            Yes Norman,
            we’re but mere by-products of combustion.

            Maybe co-products of fire, from a benevolent point of view. It doesn’t change the outcome, anyway, as this co-evolution is drawing to a close.

          • Yep, it’s fascinating our mightiest civilization is basically still a Carnot cycle machine of the early-mid 19th century, including coal/gas burners, and steam derived from nuclear reactions.

            • “t’s fascinating our mightiest civilization is basically still a Carnot cycle machine ”

              How else would you expect to produce energy and get work done, besides heat / energy gradients? I suppose we could dream of converting directly to electricity without the heat stage …

            • the comment centred around the commonly held certainty, among the vast majority of people– that ”level of civilisation” and availability of heat+motion are in no way connected

            • Stefeun says:

              in biology, heat is mostly a loss, not a mandatory step ; yet, animals move…

              Just saying heat can be avoided as mandatory step for everything. Don’t ask me how…

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      That’s an interesting way of viewing it, Don S. I view it as a goldilocks range between the floor price the producer needs and the ceiling price the consumer can afford. And by afford I mean enough consumers can afford to keep a high flow rate going to power the world economy. Even if a minority could afford fuel at $50 dollars a gallon it does the overall economy no good.

      As we’ve noted on this site many times, the floor and ceiling are bumping up against one another. One manifestation of this is the lack of economic growth even in the face of lower oil price. The consumer is providing feedback they have been pushed to the edge of what they can afford, partly due to excessive personal borrowing to keep up with the Jones’. On the other side of the coin are producers cutting back on Capex, laying of workers, sellng assets and for many of the companies fracking, failing to keep up payments on loans, with some going bankrupt.

      The following paragraph from your post sizes our current situation up well:

      “Without growth the economy cannot generate the demand needed to use any additional oil that is produced. As time progresses, and the energy to produce oil and its products increases it will not be able to use what is already being produced. The economy shrinks, demand goes down and so does the price. That is what is presently occurring.”

      Declining net energy or another way to look at is; the increasing cost of the marginal barrel of oil, means the situation is akin to a constrictor slowly squeezing the ribcage of a megafauna, or in this case the lifeblood of the world economy. Each increment tighter lowers the consumers affordability ceiling and raises the producers floor costs. They have bumped up against one another and currently the price of oil is not sufficient to either generate growth or incentivize exploration. We have met that hard place between a rock and the result is ever more desperate fiscal measures by CB’s to try and juice the economy to jolt it’s way to growth irrespective of net energy.

      As you stated; “The Laws of Physics ultimately determines the deposition of oil” and we cannot escape from net energy. Either it’s enough to keep civilization growing or it causes contraction. And contraction is what we would have if not for all the helicopter money. The strategy so far has been to load the wealthy up with lots of investment play money to raise asset levels and presume incorrectly that means the economy is growing. Well, you can give that wealthy guy the biggest yaucht in the world, but it won’t raise the consumer affordability ceiling one ioda. So it’s not working. Now the desperation seems to be moving towards helicopter drops for the 99%ers, as with a new policy in Japan FE reported back on here. Japan is the bellweather of the next greatest fiscal folly to juice the system, so expect other industralized nations to follow suit to avoid throwing in the towel as long as possible. But that builds like pressure behind a stressed dam, and when this sucker finally goes, well, look out!

      • Don Stewart says:

        Stilgar Wilcox and Others
        IF you believe the argument, and IF you believe that contractual bets will still pay off when the Oil Industry vanishes, THEN you might be interested in knowing that the price to earnings ratio in the oil industry is now up to some ridiculous figure like 90. Everyone is assuming that price/ demand curves are going to work or that US production will fall or that OPEC plus Russia will reduce output, or something else is going to save everyone’s bacon. If you buy the physics argument, it says that any restriction on output will flow through to restriction in the economy, so nothing much is gained.

        Consequently, you might be thinking about selling the oil companies short. Sort of like Kyle Bass has been betting against the Chinese currency for the last couple of years. (I assume that, like Kyle, losing a few million while waiting for your ship to come in is no big deal.)

        Don Stewart

      • ejhr2015 says:

        The economy is slowing down oil consumption. Not the other way round. Simple, no?

  24. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    I would like to be a good boy and not post anything off topic….But, after a large statistical study, performed by the most prestigious Ivy League schools, I have concluded that there is way too much gloom and doom here.

    So, here is some good news:
    ‘What is especially amazing about the book’s near overnight success, is that not a single copy was sold due to exposure via mainstream TV, radio, print and online publishing, or social media outlets, i.e. it was a 100% organic process.

    Clearly, Dr. Brogan’s powerful and uncompromising message (that you can heal your mind and body without drugs) resonated deeply with tens of thousands who bought her book, and have never been exposed to this information before. How did they hear about it? They discovered it through newsletter lists like our own, organic social media reach, and word of mouth through trusted friends and family — the old fashioned way.’

    Kelly Brogan, MD, wrote a book about how cure your own brain without drugs. And, guess what? No mainstream media outlet would give her any publicity…..maybe they saw advertising dollars flying out the window by the tens of billions. Anyway, at the moment it is in the ‘best seller’ categories.

    So the fact that the ordinary people can sometimes rise up against their masters is, I think, hopeful news.

    Don Stewart

    • psile says:

      And now for something completely different…

      Germans Face Wind Powered Economic Nightmare: €Billions Squandered on Subsidies, as CO2 Emissions Rise

      Sometimes even the babbling’s of the insane produce golden nuggets like the article above…


      • “Sometimes even the babbling’s of the insane produce golden nuggets like the article above…”

        What is so insane about being skeptical of wind power? They seem fairly reasonable to me, is there something I’m missing?

        • psile says:

          They’re skeptical of man-made climate change.

          • “They’re skeptical of man-made climate change.”

            What is the value of the general public worrying about man-made climate change? All of the populist “solutions” are there to make people feel good, make someone rich, and/or transfer wealth and pollution to developing countries. The only viable solutions I can see are geoengineering and carbon sequestration.

            If climate change is perceived as a real threat, I’m sure the MIC can handle it without coming up with new tax or credit or swap or whatever schemes. If the US DoD alone can budget $1 trillion for new jets and $1 trillion for nuclear arsenal, surely they can spent another trillion on climate change and another trillion on energy projects, to maintain air and sea superiority.

            Having the masses indoctrinated to buy electric cars and vote for government subsidies for green power seems to be a net negative.

            • psile says:

              Look I agree, it doesn’t matter whether they accept manmade climate change or not. Humans are just going to be humans until the end. Nothing we do will seriously attempt to derail growth, because for humans the economy is everything. We signed our collective death warrant a long while ago…

              I just thought that website was full of nuts. But even a madman has his moments of clarity…

            • I’ve got children and grandchildren, and am as frightened of what the future holds as anyone, but let’s get one thing clear:
              If every gallon of oil pumped since Edwin Drake sank the first viable oilwell in 1859 had come with a Warning—OIL KILLS PLANETS –printed on every barrel, gallon can and petrol pump, we would still have burned the stuff. )and that includes all the handwringing commenters on here.
              So please–let’s not kid ourselves otherwise.
              and i know Ive said that before–but I think it bears repeating.
              I’m just trying to point out the obvious here, and dispense with the broad sweep of opinion that just gets passed around, that such and such is responsible for our plight.
              There might be “determination” that “We” must “do” something—unfortunately “we” created the problem, not the capitalists and politicians. Rockefeller made billions, but we all helped him to spend it. We all bought Ford’s cheap cars and agreed that we could run on wheels forever. We all insist on the comfort of Dunlop’s tyres and bask in the glow of Edison’s lightbulbs. Politicians, scientists and economists assured us that this was to be our permanent future, and “we” voted for the biggest liars. We still do.
              Trump promises to make America great again, and hysterical millions scream in assent, unaware that it was fossil fuel that delivered that “greatness”, not political will. Those hysterical millions are the (short term) future, and they will scream as long as their energy sustains them. You cannot delete the politics from all this.
              When they find out Trump (or whoever) has been lying to them, they are going to turn very nasty indeed—and start blaming anyone and everyone for their misfortunes
              You ain’t seen nothing yet,

            • Stefeun says:

              Very true Norman,
              One just has to notice the gap between what we publicly say (mostly altruistic), and what we vote for (mostly selfish), to see how fragile the mutual trust is.

              Once things start to really deteriorate, people won’t waste time with talks any longer, they’ll go for acts directly. Ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

            • Stefeun says:

              Just to precise: I’m not subscribing to the “thin veneer theory”,
              I’m just wondering about the Yin/Yang trait of human condition (or Jekyll/Hyde if you prefer).

              Behaviours as a single individual (or with close relatives) and as a member of a larger community, are very often deeply different, if not outright opposite.

              Like embedded schyzophrenia we have to live with (which maybe also helps us in life), and try to mitigate unless it becomes potentially dangerous. A mad society doesn’t help.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The thing is…

              If you interrupted a rant from one of these blamers with ‘why don’t you take the bus or walk instead of driving your car everywhere’ — they’d look at you like you were nuts.

            • and to add another point—spending money on energy consuming hardware—is NOT the same “spending theory” as using money to halt climate change.

            • “spending money on energy consuming hardware—is NOT the same “spending theory” as using money to halt climate change”

              How so? I suspect sequestering carbon or altering the atmosphere would require pretty immense amounts of energy.

            • building new jets and nuclear arsenals is a means by which energy is converted from one form to another, then embodied in the relevant hardware until it is scrapped or blown up.
              That ”energy” is then released and dissipated. It cannot be reused on our timescale.

              Those projects consume money/energy in a way that the majority see as “productive” (ie job creation/adding to GDP) when in fact it is destructive of finite resources.
              Whatever we construct goes the same way. Once completed, entropy begins. A building might last 200 years, a car 20 years, a fighter jet a few weeks or even minutes if it’s involved in a war. It’s still entropy–we just help it on its way.
              It also releases bad stuff into our environment.

              Spending $trns on air and sea superiority is explained above. The USA, despite much (trump)etings of energy self sufficiency, produces 10Mbd, but uses around 17Mbd. That is the only equation you need to know, to forecast your future. The baying millions will not accept this, even when the lights go out and gas pumps run dry.
              Effectively sequestering CO2 (and all the other bad stuff as well) is like trying to put entropy into reverse.

              you cannot sequester immense amounts of nasties from the environment without using more energy than was used to put it there in the first place. The process also consumes finite resources. Rather like building a power station, and then building another one alongside it to clean up the atmospheric mess it makes.

              CO2 capture systems are available, but this is why they are not used on a global scale.
              Spending “trillions” to do it is cannot happen unless those trillions are backed up by the constant production and availability of raw cheap energy. Printing money without energy backup is exactly the same as stuffing £$ notes in your petrol tank.

            • “Printing money without energy backup is exactly the same as stuffing £$ notes in your petrol tank.”

              Obviously, spending the money on a project would hopefully create demand for a decent amount of oil, to drive prices up and increase production or at least compensate for falling demand.

              “you cannot sequester immense amounts of nasties from the environment without using more energy than was used to put it there in the first place.”

              Of course. If sea seeding can work, most of the energy used would be trapped sunlight, with some supplemental fossil fuel use to get things started.

              The trick is to convince people that spending $1 trillion on CCS is of equal value to creating jobs and providing national security as spending $1 trillion on fighter jets.

            • sounds like wish-science to me

              but like everyone else—i live in hope that ‘they’ will fix things

            • ejhr2015 says:

              You haven’t seen any plans to that end though,have you?
              I see nothing there unless some hiddeen agenda is not being conveyed to us. It might set off a collapse all by itself.
              Our whole currency world is based on “full faith and credit” in the government.

            • i was indulging in a little light irony—an brit habit

            • Fast Eddy says:

              A thing of beauty… ++++++

      • Van Kent says:

        Some would argue that the reason why Spain is in such dreadful shape is because of their housing bubble AND the free open unlimited credit they had to build a renewable energy infrastructure.

        I kinda feel sorry for the Pentagon war game planners. At every turn when they are logical, making conclusions of doing the right things, then when all is said and done, it all turns to s-it.

        Problem: Peak Oil
        Solution: Have troops on the ground where the biggest reserves are left in ME when oil is peaking.
        End outcome: Military expenditure and the out of control military industrial complex create a financial and cultural disaster. Millions of refugees pouring in to allied countries ruining the economy.

        Problem: Oil prices going through the roof, oil unaffordable
        Solution: Start a fracking boom when the price exceeds 120 bucks. Then the winners will be the financiers and the fracker countries.
        End outcome: Prices drop and the financiers are left with toxic assets.

        Problem: At peak oil and oil prices going through the roof, the key trading partners need an viable economy.
        Solution: Energiewende in Germany and unlimited credit to Spain for RE.
        End outcome: The economy tanks because of unaffordable electricity prices, tanking the key trading partners banks and their economies.

        It would be nice to know what war games the Pentagon is playing right now. Because every “solution” so far from the military industrial complex, and their propaganda machine, has been a disaster. Not because they fail in execution, but because they fail in understanding the initial problem.

        • ejhr2015 says:

          They also fail miserably in the execution as well. Incompetence multiplied by the ideology and the belief system means no proper planning is considered.

        • Lets say, you are an elitist prick in his mid sixties-seventies, originally born into nexus of existing wealth, tributes/rents etc., so if you look now back at the policies of past ~15yrs since year 2000 (and earlier), it’s a huge success.

          The empire appears to be still somewhat in place, although the craziness level of tools needed to be applied went beyond measurement scale. The owner’s class and henchmen juiced out of the system even more wealth in those two decades than thought possible. Regional and global opponents are left with huge in situ mess, which remains an organizational and energy sink.

          Life is good, and if not, threat of dropping nukes, viruses, martial law and/or abandoning todays national state for smaller chunks of neofeudal fiefdoms will work for some time as well, or at least that’s the plan-hope to pass one the next generation of rulers.
          It was fun.

          • xabier says:

            Ah, very true, but let’s say you are an average working class ‘prick’ in their ’60’s: it’s still good if you live in the West/advanced (irony) economies:

            All housed, clothed, fed, etc. No starvation, no-one bare-foot or in rags (thank you to China for that.)

            Here, all our boats are still floating more or less.

            For the time being……

        • Pintada says:

          Dear Van Kent;

          You have an interesting idea here, but I think you may not be cynical enough.

          “Because every “solution” so far from the military industrial complex, and their propaganda machine, has been a disaster.”

          What if everything that they have done has been a rousing success?
          Peak oil: use the hype as an excuse to invade a bunch of countries. As a result vast amounts of money are printed and given to the Military Industrial Complex. The people running those companies make a fortune.

          Oil unaffordable:
          Use the high prices to start a fracking boom. Vast amounts of money are made by banks doing M&A. When the assets turn toxic, go to DC with your hand out, and viola to big to fail kicks in.

          We think the things we watch happening are bad because, unlike the corporations, we have compassion, empathy and a conscience.

          Just a thought,

          • Van Kent says:

            We know there are some war games in the Pentagon. We know they plan to win (whatever winning is). We know they have vast resources. We know it was unususally quiet between 92-01 (like something was being set in motion).

            If I was in the Pentagon running NATO/ U.S./ CIA war games I would plan to invade ME when oil was calculated to peak. Nothing else really makes sense. And because we know oil is going to become really expensive, it is just logic to start the fracking boom when oil prices hit a certain mark. To have key trading partners with a strong economy (RE) also makes sense.

            As I can see it everything is just about as planned. Everything is just like the war games predicted. Except that right about now, we are in a new territory where nobody predicted we would be. Just about now we are entering something nobody predicted was possible..

            Next logical step? What are the war games predicting just about now? I think the next logical step is chaos and mayhem on a scale not seen before (false flags by the dozen) to justify Martial Law. That would be the only logical step for me. Either Martial LAw or an outright WWIII. But having an WWIII is a wee bit dangerous, it might produce outcomes that can´t be predicted.. What sort of war game, to what outcome would you play at this late hour Pintada?

          • Stefeun says:

            Pintada, you say
            “we have compassion, empathy and a conscience.”

            That’s true, but only at the individual level (or small groups, max.150, Dunbar).
            In aggregate, such considerations vanish, and raw statistics only prevails, and applies.

            • DJ says:

              Europe has empathy for far larger groups, and also for complete strangers.

            • Stefeun says:

              as long as they don’t wreck your backyard.

              Not even that: they just need to be there (parked in infamous slums), powerless and in relatively small numbers (1 or 2 millions among 500 millions Europeans), for the right-thinking sheeple to vote for fences everywhere and increased surveillance.

              Give up a bit of your freedom in the hope of increasing your security, and you can be sure to eventually lose both of them. (approx. quote by I don’t remember who)

            • DJ says:

              Stefeun, I live in Sweden. Maybe I extrapolated to europe. I found Paris quite … colored … last year, but maybe those were tourists and not migrants.

            • Stefeun says:

              of course they are not tourists.
              Quite a lot of them are even French, as France has been an immigration country for decades. Labour force was required especially after-war.
              But since the middle of the 70’s the French industry is declining, and moreover the last “wave” of migrants were from North-Africa, i.e. having a different religion (while previous older waves were mostly made of catholics). Of course, no policy was implemented to facilitate their lives and prospects wether in our country or theirs. Now we end up with semi-ghettos, and people are angry both inside and outside of these areas (for opposite reasons, of course). It’s a good recipee for unrest on the one hand, and for right-wing vote on the other.

              What I wanted to underline in my previous comment is how easy it is for MSM (and their puppeteers) to shape the opinion. Just create a messy situation, then pull the strings that interest you (hide the others, or just don’t talk about).

            • DJ says:

              Before the winter population was rising 5% per year. How could it be possible to let in so many without putting them outside present cities? If they really are here.

            • DJ says:

              We’re already having problem with the 2nd generation.

              The parents were happy coming here, getting an apartment and free food and pointing the parabola towards home. The children is less pleased being 2nd class citizens.

              What will happen when we cut down on everything?

            • Stefeun says:


            • DJ says:

              On the other hand, as a contractionist not collapsniak, I’m certain that will be a reality for many more: crowded living, non-nutritious food, entertainment. All free (but maybe mildly obfuscated). Less transportation, less warmup costs, less societal service, no more keeping terminally ill alive at every cost.

              If you pick an optional year as peak prosperity, not necessarily the same for all nations, and then we have an end of industrial world in the not close future.

              A part of that time frame of declining standard could be called BAU lite, if you like.

            • Stefeun says:

              BAU light is NOT an option, IMHO, because:
              1. our system holds together because it’s one entity and it must grow. All must work together, or nothing works.
              2. we’ve too high a level of interconnection/interdependance,
              3. we’re too many.

              Maybe there will be a period of totalitarian control/command, but I think very short-lived (no taxes).
              Then maybe the same at smaller scale, might last a bit longer, but anyway the feudal warlords won’t be that many, and they’ll likely kill each other… We’ll have many other threats to deal with, much tougher ; take water, for a start.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I don’t like this term BAU Lite…

              Can we instead use Delusistan in the future?

              All states of being that can only exist in one’s mind = Delusistan.

            • DJ says:

              2. Yes,
              3. Yes,
              1. A majority of people are only useless eaters.

              Keep everyone calm and keep the workers working. No totalirianism needed, plain vanilla democracy will do.

              Also, most countries are irrelevant for BAU, we just need their natural resources. No wars needed, just pay their rulers and let them rule.

            • Stefeun says:

              “useless eaters”: so what? are we supposed to acheive something? (run the machine ever faster so we arrive as quick and fast as possible into the brick-wall?)

              Or maybe you mean that everybody should grow their own food, or at least participate? Then I’d be more with you, except that I don’t believe this will be an option, due to size and speed of the collapse.

            • the prime function of any species, –in order to fulfil its purpose– is to eat (acquire energy) and then to use that energy to reproduce itself.
              No species has a choice in that.
              Humankind has driven itself into a dead end by presuming to eat the energy sources of all other species in order to further its own survival.
              In nature’s terms that makes us a plague species.
              Plagues have an inevitable result: Either the plague dies, or the host dies.
              For the plague to carry on, it needs another host.
              As the host is the planet itself, the solution is obvious

            • Stefeun says:

              Another planet!
              Keep me some more planets in store, please, as we intend to grow a little bit more.
              Thanks Norman (and tip to George Carlin)

            • DJ says:

              You wrote “All must work together”. But only a (shrinking) minority has to work.

              I agree it would be inconvenient with mass defaults, hyperinflation etc. But it beats being dead. The non-productive will have to accept cuts, and the productive to.

              Of course growing our own food is not a possibility. We cant grow where we live and we cant afford to move everyone. Population would have to decrease to 1B as fast as it has increased.


              First we get pulled into cities because it is cheapest and most efficient. Especially non-productive people in a welfare state is best having within walking distance from all faciliteter.

              Then when this breaks you need maybe an hectare per capita. Even a small town of 10000 needs 10×10 km. Everything bigger will be a death trap, as someone said.

            • Stefeun says:

              OK, but what do you do with all the debt and fixed assets and other capital items that require continuous payments?
              Even if you have a solution, I can’t see any possibility to go from 7 to 1 billion human beings without wrecking our actual system (that is, man made civilization).
              The thing is: no current system = no system at all.
              1 billion clueless apes, it’s a lot; shrink again.

            • DJ says:

              Well, there is always Mars

            • DJ says:

              Urbanization is a can kicking strategy.

            • DJ says:

              If you can’t pay you can’t pay. Everything in the real economy (which is already shrinking in west) will still be there. We just have to sort out who owns what. And trust will be gone, for at least a few years, a generation most.

              I’m not proposing survival of BAU. Just a much longer timescale than most here. (Christmas turkey for everyone!)

              Shrinking to 1B would be horrendous almost disregarding time frame, best you can hope for is to not be so involved in the shrinking.

            • Pintada says:

              Dear Stefeun;



      • Fast Eddy says:

        Let’s hook those electrodes up to the Faders again … ok… all set?

        ‘Some 800,000 German homes have been disconnected from the grid – victims of what is euphemistically called “fuel poverty”. Power starved Germans, instead of freezing, grabbed their axes and tramped into their forests to improve their sense of energy security – although foresters apparently take the view that this self-help measure is nothing more than blatant timber theft (see our post here).’

        Now imagine 7.4 B people faced with a similar situation — except that all sources of energy are gone – forever….


        But suddenly the intense activity halts…. the Faders convince themselves that collapse is not possible because THEY won’t allow it — instead there will be a slow Fade over decades…

        Therefore the 7.4B people will not need to cut down every tree on the planet…. because we will have BAU lite…

        Ooooommmm….. ooooooommmmmm…..

      • Thanks!

        I ran across some material saying that the Chinese are having problems with their installed wind turbines.


        http://www.nea.gov.cn/2016-03/23/c_135215856.htm (in Chinese)
        The article talks about an increasing problem with excess electrical supply and abandoned wind. The information in this report seems to indicate that wind power utilized dropped from 21.6% of available hours in 2014 to 19.7% of available hours in 2015.

        This report is based on the German experience, and talks about the cost of grid connection. http://www.agora-energiewende.de/fileadmin/Projekte/2014/integrationskosten-wind-pv/Agora_Integration_Cost_Wind_PV_web.pdf Offshore wind costs are especially very high.

        Integration costs of wind and solar power

        • Rodster says:

          It appears China has a lot more to worry about than Wind turbines. It appears that GROWING social unrest is continuing to brew and percolate.

          “China Warns Officials: Allow Social Unrest, Lose Your Job”
          Indeed we’re already hearing the rumblings of social unrest. Thousands of miners in China’s coal-rich (or poor depending on one’s perspective) north have gone on strike over months of unpaid wages and fears that government calls to restructure their state-owned employer will lead to mass layoffs. Earlier this month, protesters marched through the streets of Shuangyashan city in Heilongjiang province, venting their frustration at Longmay Mining Holding Group, the biggest coal firm in northeast China.

          Subsequently, in the country’s southwest, eight construction workers tied to a protest held in Langzhong last August were subjected to a 1950’s-style public sentencing. Their crime: protesting unpaid wages. Their charge: obstructing official business. The verdict: guilty.

          • xabier says:

            That’s interesting: using public show-trials to repress dissent among workers. A warning to all. Will it work? A reminder to all that China is different….

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          Why not put wind turbines high up in mountains where it’s almost always very windy?

          • Jan Steinman says:

            Why not put wind turbines high up in mountains where it’s almost always very windy?

            They are typically in the passes, not the mountain tops.

          • I would guess because it is hard to get to them and service them there. I haven’t looked into it though.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              it is hard to get to them and service them there

              We have good wind potential in this part of the world. The major “wind farms” appear to be in the passes, near major highways.

              This is a win-win situation: winds tend to be highest in the passes, driven by differential air pressure on either side of the mountain ranges, and highways tend to go through the passes, as the lowest passage between sides of the mountain range.

        • On top of that and not often mentioned about “Energiewende” at all is the reality that during wind production spikes, terrawatts are suddenly rushing from Baltic shore southbound to Bavaria via side loop through Czech and Austria networks. Germans don’t pay anything for over-stressing neighbor’s networks on the grounds of some existing EU commerce laws, but electricity doesn’t work like that, basically it’s a patch of island networks. Germany is supposedly planning to build their own north-south super interconnects but this is due to budget and unwilling land property owner disputes rendering this project for next decades. The more wind is built the more chaos they bring now.

          Given the political realities both Austria, Czech, usually working as subjugated provinces and not equal partners to the “master race” it has gotten way out of hand recently. The sane response would be to block by technical means such power surges, which would threaten blackout in Germany, so they would be pressed to work on realistic solution on their home turf in the first place. Hopefully, one day politicians in these smaller countries won’t take it anymore.

          • xabier says:

            Rebel against Germany? I doubt that. Much as I love Austria, and my Austrian friends, after an extended time there I find it depressing: a spent force, only history….. A pity, because the mixture of Germanic, Slavic and Italian culture is very attractive.

            • Well, time will tell, speaking about the political, for one thing, the recent summit blocking the “Balkan migration route” was in part sponsored by Austria. Germany and Greece not invited, we can speculate about some back channels and ploys, but given even the weak Austrian PM had to use some unusual strong language against Merkel, who knows, it’s serious.

              Anyway it would not be possible first and foremost without the proud and resolute stance of Hungary since the summer 2015, which applied standing EU laws and blocked the frontier, only then other countries openly defied Merkelism and joined the effort. On related note, Polish gov recently changed, purged pro EU propagandist from major media, joined Tories on the EU level. The isolation of Germany is clearly increasing not the other way around.

              Going back to Austria, populist are gaining in pols regional and national, so the traditional parties had to act, to early to call, but they have perhaps another “young Metternich” in the making in the figure of young foreign minister Kurz.

              As I’ve written numerous times, we are sort of returning and rehashing into centuries old patterns worldwide and regional wise, these divides are just providing the illustration. The drive is perhaps incomprehensible to people elsewhere, but Central Europe put centuries of blood and treasure, several times on the age of abyss, into rolling Turks away. The post WWII affluent and frivolous attitudes allowed for large immigration to happen, but now the old reflexes seems emerging again. The Merkel’s idea of granting free visa for dozens of millions of Turks just nailed it for many countries, it won’t happen, only scored further damage to Germany.

          • What you say agrees with what I have heard earlier. If Germany has smaller neighbors it can impose on, it can get away with dumping unwanted electricity on the grid.

  25. Vince the Prince says:

    Sharing this thread on pre power tool apprenticeship in the woodworking industry circa late 1940’s in England
    I apprenticed as a truck (lorry: Brit) cab and body builder at the firm of Oswald Tillotson, Burnley, Lancashire, England from 1947 to 1950. Cabs and flat bed bodies were hand built of wood at that time, the cabs being finished with sheet metal – van and panel truck bodies were just starting to be built using extruded aluminum sections and sheeting. I worked mostly in the cab shop doing framework joining and door making/installing, although I occasionally built flat bed truck bodies – as did all apprentices from time to time. Trucks experience severe stresses and vibrations in their daily operation and therefor we used an abundance of screws to reinforce wooden joints and affix load bearing supports.

    There was no compressed air system in any of the shops and therefor pneumatic tools were not used. There was overhead electric lighting throughout and outlets were provided in the Administration Offices, Drafting Room, Stock Room, Mill Shop, Panel Body Shop, Welding Shop and Mechanical Shop. There were a few electrical outlets in the Cab Shop, Flat Body Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Finishing Shop and Painting/Lettering Shop. The Mill Shop had modern (at the time) electrically operated machinery: Circular Saws, Band Saws, Sanders, Drilling Machines, Shapers/Routers, etc. The only electrically operated hand tools available or used were heavy duty drills — there were no electric hand-operated circular saws, screw drivers, jigsaws, sanders, glue guns, nail guns, routers, etc.

    Apprentices were expected to eventually provide their own tools (rather than keep borrowing from senior craftsmen). The firm provided apprentices wood and hardware (and the time) with which to build their own tool boxes, oilstone boxes, tallow boxes, bench hooks and tool totes – under the tutelage of senior craftsmen – as part of their training. Apprentices were rotated between various craftsmen for varying lengths of time by the shop foreman in order to learn all the different skills and processes.

    For those that wish to pursue this topic I recommend the excellent book by a Welsh Chairmaker, John Brown, who died several years back,
    “Welsh Stick Chairs”.
    The book is out of print and very expensive….found this posted article he wrote

    Good Work
    “My grandmother used to tell me that most of life’s ills were caused by men chasing money. Even fifty years ago the poor old dear could not understand what all the rush was about. She had a theory that the heartbeat hadn’t altered since time began, and that the pace of life should be regulated by this fact. I didn’t take any notice of her at the time, but recently I’ve had cause to recall her words. The speed of life is out of synchronisation with the human body. If we could slow our lives down a little, think of quality before quantity, there would be more time to sabour the plaeasant things before we are force to rush on to something else.
    Woodworkers are not wxcused this malady, every bit of literature, evetry handbill or periodical to do with the craft is packed with advertisements for machines. A young man interested in making things out of wood can be excused for believing that machines are a fundamental necessity. Hand tools have been relegated to the small ads section, or second hand or antique dealers, as though they were relics of the past whose use went out with grandfather. I have been into woodwork shops where there was hardly a decent usable hand tool in the place. A screwdriver, some plastic handled chisels and spanners, all mixed up in the same box
    The price of timber once seemed of little consequence. Now, with rain forest problems and a general scarcity, this has become a very expensive raw material. A return to the use of hand tools, apart from being less wasteful, would add more value to this precious material. I fully appreciate the average woodworker cannot render tree trunks into planks, and handsawing huge bulks is pure sweat, so the use of a power saw is necessary. That is all that is required to lead a full and satisfying woodworking life.
    Power machines are unfriendly for they are very noisy and make a lot of unpleasant dust. Craft woodworking should be a creative activity, with the practioners as artists. Surrounded by ugly, noisy, dusty machines the woodworker does not have the environment in which to do good work.
    There are two main health hazards from frequent use of machinery, that is apart from cutting off the fingers. Dust and noise. Neither of these is instantly apparent, as is an amputation, but nevertheless, they are just as dangerous. The most frightening is nasopharyngeal, or nasal cancer, closely assocaited with wood dust. Although a rare disease, the incidence can be as high as breast cancer. This, of course, applies to full fime workers, but the residual chance is not insignigicant amongst occasional users. Then, constant exposure to high levels of noise can damage the ears and lead to premature deafness.
    Of course you can wear protective clothing and apparatus against these ills. But to mummify yourself in this way can only be to the detriment of careful work. I have seen a colour photograph in a magazine of a man using a bandsaw. Ha has on a rubber face mask, ear muffs and goggles, perhaps it is just a coincidence that he closely resembles a chimpanzee! Recent British magazines have a large advertisement featuring a bright faced youth, who looks entirely happy in the most ridiculous, all-encompassing headwear I have ever seen. Picture if you will a cabinet maker working on a fine piece of oak furniture, clad in a hard hat! I am sure the sense of control of the operator is impaired by wearing all this safety equipment. Dust accumulates on the goggles, giving poor vision, and it is often a subtle change of sound that tells you a blade is about to break. Some smocks I have seen must restrict the free movement of the arms, resembling a canvas straight jacket. To work thus on machinery takes courage, and the use of such bravery has a stress effect which is cumulative.
    The reason for the introduction of machinery in the 19th century was to speed up production in the factories. The words of Adam Smith were burned large into brains of the industrialists. Water, then steam and finally electricity provided ample power, and in that great age of innovation machines were invented to cope with more and more processes. The owners cared not a jot for design or quality, unless it affected sales. Quantity was the main criteria. How can we make more profit? Unskilled people could be trained to work a single operation machine in days. The fact that these operators had no interest in their work, and did the job for what money they could get, interested no mone, except people like Ruskin, C R Ashbee and William Morris.
    Since the last great war, it seems that these same principles have been adopeted by modern woodworkers. Yet the motivation is entirely different. I have never known a craft wooworker who does the job only for money, or at least admits to this. Woodworkers pursue the craft because they love it, they enjoy working with wood, and they get great satisfaction from seeing a well finished piece. To a man, or woman, they try their hardest to do fine work, and to produce an artefact of delight. If this is not true, how come there are so many well supported competitions? They al love to show their work, and are proud of it. I don’t suppose there has ever been a time when so much effort has gone in to producing good work.
    Unfortunately a large part of the works on show are made by machines. And at what cost! Many thousands of dollars are spent on all these machines, saws and re-saws, lathes, planers, thicknessers, spindle moulders, mortising machines, dowelling machines and biscuit jointers, dovetail attachements, belt sanders and portable machines of all kinds. New ones every week. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. The daddy of them all is the router. This screaming monster, used for nearly everything, turns at so many revolutions that the poor wood doesn’t stand a chance.
    Now, apart fromt he initial expense of this armoury, there are attachments to buy, numerous cutters for different profiles, saw blades to be bought, and few of these things can be satisfactorily sharpened by the user, they have to be sent away. The operator becomes a mechanic producing precision engineered works, This has little to do with woodworking.


  26. Don Stewart says:

    Dear Finite Worlders
    To beat a possibly dead horse. The first quote is from a discussion site relative to the new book The Carbon Farming Solution, which explains the various methods for taking carbon out of the atmosphere and restoring it to the soil:

    ‘ You will never hear me complain about the three sisters method of cultivation for example. I know it is far more productive then three separate row crops, however there is no current way to mechanically harvest such a method of crop rearing…that is what is missing, we need mechanization to make that method profitable.’

    The second quote is from Peak Oil:
    Question posed:
    “Can developing petrostates learn to live without oil?”


    ‘Is a question that begs for an answer when it should be “can any State live without oil”? From our modern perceptive there is no frame of reference from which to judge it. When the world shrinks to a circumference of a few miles from were one was born there will be little notion of “State” remaining. The end of the oil age is a concept we have yet to master!’

    Now my observations:

    *’We need mechanization assumes the continuation of BAU. If BAU is doomed, then the claim makes no sense except in the very short term.

    *However, as part of the same thread, someone (from Ireland) observes that any farmer who gets out of the approved circle of behavior and financial incentives is promptly bankrupted.

    *The second quote illustrates what oil really does…it expands the size of our circle. A mechanized garden growing the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) makes no sense. What makes sense is a GARDEN with the three sisters growing in it. The garden is aimed at feeding people within a very narrow physical circle.

    *I doubt that ‘farming’ as the Dept of Agriculture understands that term, can survive the end of the Age of Oil. What CAN survive is the homestead, which is what people had in mind when they spoke of a farm up to and including the last land rushes in Oklahoma around the turn of the 20th century.

    *Homesteaders will be disproportionately represented among the survivors.

    *It’s not really a question of PRODUCTION, it’s really a question of logistics. Subsidiary questions revolve around the political revolution required to become a nation of gardeners again.

    Don Stewart

    • Vince the Prince says:

      Don’t, I just visited Minnesota, and went along the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to Decorah, Iowa. Let us just say, even for the local folks, getting back to homesteading would be pretty much a non starter. Most, if not all land is endless tracts of mechanized chemical arry of industrial farming. Can’t see too many families resettling those acres without infrastructure, such as, a house and out buildings, roads, ect. Gail is correct, the roads will be one of the first things to deteriorate, along with the grid, nasty freezing and thawing. Went to visit the Polish Museum in Winona. A nice man, Tim, showed me that the settlers relied on the Timber trade for work, if they did not have land for farming. Worked 7 days a week, with 1/2 day on Sunday for church service. The eldest male son usually inherit the farm, the others were given a wagon to seek other frontiers, like in Montana.
      On display, an actual wagon that was used by a younger son to settle in Montana.
      Oh, the lumber workers were paid in cash. The company, of course, had an credit book to purchase needed items until pay day in the books.
      Folks had little, occupied time with useful pastimes, crafts, cooking and bible reading and study.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Vince the Prince
        For an idea what things might be like, I suggest looking at Jan Troell’s two movies: The Emigrants and The New Land. About people from Sweden settling in Minnesota in the early 19th century. Troell is a documentary film maker, so he pays extraordinary attention to details. He had special people who advised the actors what to do with antique equipment, for example.

        People who don’t understand why transportation might be an issue should go up in one of the tall buildings in lower Manhattan and look at the Watchung mountains out near Morristown. While General Howe occupied Manhattan during the Revolutionary War, Washington was camped at Jockey Hollow, near Morristown. Both armies were in ‘winter quarters’. While it was not inconceivable that the armies might attack in Winter (both armies kept lookouts posted), it would have been very difficult. That is one reason why Washington crossing the Delaware in winter to attack the Hessians was such a surprise.

        Don Stewart

      • I know my first job (working as a cashier in a store during high school), I got paid in cash. Pay came in a little envelope, with the calculation of amounts withheld shown in ink on the front of the envelope.

        My husband says that his father was paid in cash, and it was not all that long ago – 1980?

        When I talked in China in 2015, I was paid in cash. In fact, nearly all transactions were in cash in China. The same was true in Cuba, when I visited the island last May. Waitresses in the restaurant in the hotel where we were staying would ask for payment for food in cash and bring back change in cash. There was nothing written down that I could see.

    • Van Kent says:

      It is not only about what you can grow, and where. It is also about what you can preserve and how.

      Potatoes, cabbages and beetroot are pretty well preserved in root cellars. But potatoes, cabbages and beetroot rarely last for a year (or more) in a root cellar.

      Why do ancient farmers grow grains, at all, if vegetables are more nurishing per hectare of growing space??

      Whole grains can be negatively affected by heat, light and moisture. But inside a silo with 5-15C, and with moisture content of only about 10% and with a decent airflow, intact whole grains last for a year. Or even longer. And when milled, the whole grain flours last an additional +6 months in proper conditions.

      And one has to remember, each year some crops are deceased, some are eaten by insects, some by pests and some fail due to drought. Having a grain silo is an life insurance that is needed at some point. Without grain and without a proper grain silo, it is pretty certain that at some point the months up to the first harvest are going to be uncomfortable..

      BTW the fastest way of building a root cellar is to take an explosive, blast a hole in the ground, put an ordinary freezer in that hole and put two 12ft tall airconitioning ducts on each side to maximize airflow. Don, you say we become gardeners again, I say in the first year of Post-BAU you can make yourself a living just by knowing your explosives, and blasting a whole lot of root cellars to people..

      • “Potatoes, cabbages and beetroot are pretty well preserved in root cellars. But potatoes, cabbages and beetroot rarely last for a year (or more) in a root cellar.”

        You can make potato flour, sauerkraut, and pickled beets.

        “BTW the fastest way of building a root cellar is to take an explosive, blast a hole in the ground, put an ordinary freezer in that hole and put two 12ft tall airconitioning ducts on each side to maximize airflow. Don, you say we become gardeners again, I say in the first year of Post-BAU you can make yourself a living just by knowing your explosives, and blasting a whole lot of root cellars to people..”

        I think having the root cellar above grade is probably a good way to go, or it will just flood.

        These days with all the terrorism nonsense, in most places it would be difficult to be able to stockpile large quantities of dynamite for blasting hundreds of craters. If you try to explain your reason, you may be locked up as a dangerous person.

        • Van Kent says:

          Matthew, “you may be locked up as a dangerous person.” I think you can drop that “may” from that.

          If you were doing something like in the old DuPont marketing material https://ia601408.us.archive.org/3/items/handbookofexplos00dupo/handbookofexplos00dupo.pdf I think you would definitely get locked up. No doubt about it.

          Dynamite is one thing, having the chemicals the Brussels bombers had, is another. Knowhow how to make explosives will be valuable one way or another in Post-BAU..

          • DJ says:

            “You can mix the glycerin with nitric acid to make nitroglycerin. You can mix nitroglycerin with sodium nitrate and sawdust to make dynamite. .. With enough soap, you can blow up the whole world.”

            So we need a lot of fat ladies asses?

            • “So we need a lot of fat ladies asses?”

              Sourcing glycerin seems to be the easy part. the other stuff is a long chain of process and materials that may be difficult post-BAU.

              To get the Sodium Nitrate, you need baking soda and ammonium nitrate. To make the ammonium nitrate, you need sodium bisulfate and nitrate salt.

              To make the baking soda, you can use carbon dioxide, ammonia, and sodium chloride. So you need to extract sea salt, which is an ancient practice, no big deal. You can use vinegar and baking soda to make the carbon dioxide. Getting pure anhydrous ammonia seems like a fairly involved process.

              To get the sodium bisulfate, you can use sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid. You can try to use onions as a source for the sulfuric acid. For the sodium hydroxide, water and salt plus a DC electrical source and a pair of carbon electrodes.

              The equipment and the complexity of all the processes seems to be the biggest hurdle. water, salt, onions, vinegar, ammonia, fat and sawdust seem to be the inputs needed to get to making your own dynamite. Charcoal plus one of the nitrates plus corn syrup or something else sticky, plus string to make wicks – a buddy of mine did this for his homebrew rockets, they worked pretty good.

          • “If you were doing something like in the old DuPont marketing material”

            That book is amazing. A sample:

            “When logs are split up to be burned quickly, the same method is used as when splitting stumps; but if they are to be split for fence rails, cord-wood, charcoal, or other purposes where comparatively even and regular sections are required, blasting powder or Judson Powder R. R. P.
            should be used. These explosives are so much slower in action than
            dynamite that a series of properly gauged and properly placed charges
            will split a log along the grain, just as evenly as if a number of wedges
            were used. This method of splitting logs is so much quicker, cheaper
            and easier than any other, that those who have once become
            proficient at it, never give it up.”

            Digging ditches, planting fruit trees, making fence posts and rails, everything can be done with explosives, the easy, fast and cost effective solution to all your problems!

        • If you can stay in one area for many years, it is possible to have crops and root cellars. If you are moving around a lot, it becomes difficult to do these things.

      • Don Stewart says:

        Van Kent
        I’ve posted this here before, but perhaps bears repeating. The Tarahumara Indians in Mexico try to keep a 3 year supply of corn. That way, they have insurance in case of drought. A scholarly study in India found that a peasant family could feed itself with one acre of land, but that to account for crop failures, they really needed 5 acres….I am not sure but I think they assumed no long term storage in quantity, just plant 5 times as much and count on getting at least a fifth of a normal crop.

        The Tarahumara, who are corn and squash dependent, have pretty simple storage. They do have some snow, I believe, but nothing like Minnesota.

        Don Stewart

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          I don’t know how people eat a simple diet that is much the same day to day. Corn and squash are fine but that’s what they’re relying on? We just went out for sushi and i’d be bored eating it again tomorrow. Fortunately we’ll be dining on Laotian shishkebob with rice tomorrow afternoon. It is an interesting thing though – that as humans we get bored with food unless it varies a lot. I mean it’s got to be really good and different, eclectic, exotic, interesting, spicy, tangy, zesty, varied or we get bored with it. For example one of our choices was crispy, crunchy scallops with some spicy sauce and roe on top – dipped in soy sauce with wasabi was scrumptious! But some people can eat the same stuff all the time. Like Cubans eat a lot of rice and beans day after day. Don’t you find yourself asking, ok what do i want to eat today? I suppose westerners are considered decadent with so many choices, but sure is nice, i.e. until collapse comes and everything is radioactive with high rad cobalt aftertaste.

          • DJ says:

            Maybe in there lies the reason even trim westerners are fat compared to others?

            Monday: seal, raw
            Tuesday: seal, raw
            Wednesday: seal, raw
            Thursday: Guess whats for dinner

          • “It is an interesting thing though – that as humans we get bored with food unless it varies a lot.”

            That’s only if you are trying to force an appetite before your body is really hungry, I think. The first “hungry” feeling is just when your blood sugar dips and your body starts using up stored fat. When you are really hungry, and also if you prepare your food from scratch yourself, your saliva and stomach acid get going and there is no problem eating the same thing as yesterday.

            I suspect this natural desire for variety is a way the body helps safeguard against malnutrition, to drive you to eat different things to try to get all the different things you need. Very easy to miss out on one vitamin or mineral eating the same three meals a day, and suddenly find yourself with scurvy or rickets or something else pretty terrible.

            • DJ says:

              Stefansson describes how after a few weeks amongst inuits he not only learnt to tolerate salmon for every meal, but also appreciate it.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Stilgar Wilcox and Others
            Regarding bland diets, please see this blog:

            His basic argument is that humans will overeat if confronted with the kind of novelty and dopamine rewarding food that Stilgar is enjoying. The overeating results in chronic disease. Chronic disease has killed more people than all the wars since 1800, and has cost six times as much as the wars since 1800.

            Chronic disease is one of the main contributors to the bankrupting of the US.

            The blog is carefully science based. So, I am not going to give you some little ‘killer quotations’. You can poke around in the blog and find his talk on the virtues of bland food.

            You will also find that he has a garden large enough to provide a lot of the family’s food, and he prefers to bike to work.

            Don Stewart

            • Stilgar Wilcox says:

              Actually my blood pressure is 122 over 84 and my last bloodwork was so good they said go out and eat something sugary and I’m 60. No need for blood pressure medication or any other meds, or any need for viagra. My secret is lots of fish oil tablets – seems to keep the vasceral system working just fine. I also start the day with oats, banana and blueberries so i guess breakfast is predictable, but after that it’s time to find something else to try! Oh yeah! Soon it will be off to Italy and we will delve into whatever they have to offer.

            • lol—me too for all of the above—and I’m 80
              so keep taking the fish oil and blueberries Stilgar—i do pretty much the same diet—my doc says i’ll be around longer than him—and he’s about 50 something

          • xabier says:

            Desiring a different dish every day is almost the definition of Decadence. 🙂

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I know people from the Philippines who ate boiled rice with a dash of salt in it when times were tough — and were happy to get that.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            I don’t know how people eat a simple diet that is much the same day to day.

            When you eat with the seasons, you get a lot of annual variety, if not day-to-day variety.

            Perhaps it was this evolutionary mandate that gave modern humans the “taste” for variety, just as the evolutionary struggle to maintain a certain level of carbohydrates have modern humans their tendency to love sweets — a tendency the modern industrial food system is very willing to encourage.

            We try to eat with the seasons. We get WWOOFers and visitors who expect fresh crispy apples in January (from New Zealand) or pumpkin pie in July (from vast fossil-sunlight-powered freezers). They end up leaving, disappointed at the “lack of variety” in our food. I say, “Good riddance!”

  27. Fast Eddy says:

    If only the coming collapse could resemble that of the end of the USSR – sounds like a paradise compared to what is headed our way

    • The gangsterism that took over in the nineties was pretty ugly. I lived there for while post collapse and everyone had a story about how they had to pay thugs (or operated as thugs). Even the tax collectors got in on it. I knew one businessman whose business folded twice in the nineties because he was a victim of tax collector extortion. Even ten years later the alcoholism due to job losses and depression was rampant and in your face. More than once I had to pick old passed out men off the pavement and escort them somewhere safe. Beggars would kneel outside metro stations banging their heads on the concrete. Your average corner store’s shelf-space was 60% hard spirits, 30% bread and salamis. My view is that the only reason civil discord didn’t take over was because most Russians could get away with little or no accommodation costs because the transition to fully ‘Westernised’ property laws weren’t completed until 2001/2002.

      • ejhr2015 says:

        That result was very likely just a foretaste of the USA ‘s intention for wars. As the article below says no nation has threatened the USA in 75 years and it has not declared war since 1942;

        Quick,FE bring on the Collapse!

      • Rodster says:

        Interesting comments and observations and now what has probably occurred to most Russians without realizing it, is that they have become domesticated in pursuit of the Western lifestyle. That is the biggest snare in my view. Russians were known for being tough as nails and could weather any of life’s storms. In western society the population has been domesticated with the “just in time” delivery system where the population is dependent on trucking to deliver goods on a timely basis. Ninety eight percent of the population are not capable of growing their own food and rely on the delivery system.

        If the food delivery system fails, so do they because the system is designed to keep the system stable for 3-5 days and that’s if panic has not set in.

        • Artleads says:

          But is it too late for the Russians? When the going gets tough (as it isn’t sufficiently the case right now) the tough get going? I’m betting that most people have that nearly lost memory in them somehow, just needing to bring it out and dust it off.

  28. Vince the Prince says:

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    The big bust in the oil fields
    Resize Text Print Article Comments 22 Book mark article Read later list
    Saved to Reading List
    By Chico Harlan March 25 at 3:48 PM
    Scenes from a once-booming oil industry gone bad
    View Photos Unfortunate circumstances and miscalculation in Texas have forced energy firms to retreat amid a sea of defaults.
    TILDEN, Tex. — He’d borrowed from banks and investors and retirement funds, all in a frenzied mission to drill for oil and gas, and by the time Terry Swift realized he’d gone too far, this was his debt: $1.349 billion.

    His company, founded by his father almost 40 years earlier, had plunged into bankruptcy and laid off 25 percent of its staff. Its shares had been pulled from the New York Stock Exchange. And now Swift was in a company Chevrolet Tahoe, driving back to the flat and dusty place where his bets had gone bust
    Swift’s miscalculation has made his company, Swift Energy, a casualty of the greatest wave of financial defaults since America’s subprime mortgage crisis ravaged the U.S. economy.
    The U.S. oil industry, having grown into a giant on par with Saudi Arabia’s, is shrinking, with the biggest collapse in investment in energy in 25 years. More than 140,000 have lost energy jobs. Banks are bracing for tens of billions of dollars of defaults, and economists and lawyers predict the financial wreckage will accelerate this year.

  29. Yoshua says:

    According to this chart conventional oil production is down 1.6 million barrels per day since 2005. Some 20 percent of the oil production today comes from Deepwater, Shale and Oil Sands.


    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Wow, down 1.6 mbd and going price of WTI is a little under 40 bucks with Cushing inventory continuing to rise. Anti-peak-oilers need to ask themselves why isn’t the world economy growing to consume oversupply of cheap oil? Why instead does there have to a cut in production?

      • Yoshua says:

        Trump’s policy seems to indicate isolationism for the U.S. Trump is hammering in the message of closing the borders, end free trade and even end NATO.

        The major part of the expensive unconventional oil is today produced in the U.S and American producers are now under extreme stress with collapsing oil prices. Is Trump betting on that the U.S can become energy independent through coal, gas and oil production… and somehow manage to live with high energy costs within a closed economic system ?

        • Jan Steinman says:

          The major part of the expensive unconventional oil is today produced in the U.S and American producers are now under extreme stress with collapsing oil prices.

          My understanding is that the marginal cost of fracked oil is not all that high, and is similar to that of conventional oil.

          So, once the well is fracked, they might as well pump it and sell it. They’re still in trouble servicing the debt on the sunken cost of getting the well going, but at least they aren’t really losing money on every barrel they ship.

          You hear a lot about the high prices required for unconventional oil. But those are lifetime amortized cost of the well, not the cost of getting oil out of a fracked and pumping well.

          Note that most of the holes that have been shut down are of the “drilled, but not fracked” variety.

          But this is just what I read somewhere. Perhaps someone here knows more than I do.

          • I’m not sure that this perspective comprehends the fracking process very well. Fracking is not a ‘one time event’ that produces a gush within a field. Each ‘frack’ produces oil for only a few days. The marginal cost of drilling each horizontal section of the rig for each frack and the huge amounts of water trucked in for each frack is not insignificant.

          • Don Stewart says:

            Jan Steinman
            The word ‘unconventional’ covers a lot of territory. For example, the physical characteristics of producing oil from the tar sands, from the Bakken in North Dakota, and the deep ocean off Brazil are all very different.

            Just looking at the Bakken, one difference is in the price one can get for the oil produced. You can find the data here:

            You will see that the price received in the Bakken is well below the West Texas Intermediate price, and is a hundred dollars or so below its all time high. The price offered is low because of the physical characteristics of the oil and the logistics involved in transporting it to a refinery.

            I suspect that the logistics issue and the physical characteristics problems would also be present in Argentina or any other place with a big, sprawling bed of source rock which the companies are attempting to exploit.

            Don Stewart

            Don Stewart

          • Yoshua says:

            Yes, I have also read that the marginal cost is something like $10-20/barrel.

            Oil from Bakken “Today $26.25/barrel (all-time high was $136.29 7/3/2008)”

            • There are a lot of things left out of these numbers, including overhead costs and debt costs. Also, subcontractors are giving special “deals” right now on drilling and other services. http://oilpro.com/gallery/800/10897/paal-kibsgaard-spoke-monday-new-orleans# According to Paal Kipbsgaaard, Schlumberger CEO, these low costs can’t continue. In his words:

              The apparent cost reductions seen by the operators over the past 18 months are not linked to a general improvement in efficiency in the service industry. They are simply a result of service-pricing concessions as activity levels have dropped by 40-50% and most service companies are now fighting for survival with both negative earnings and cash flow. The unsustainable financial situation of the service industry together with the massive capacity reductions mean that the cost savings from lower service pricing should largely be reversed when activity levels start picking up.

        • Artleads says:

          Thanks. Very useful way to think about Trump. Some of this scenario sounds better than anything I’ve heard recently.

        • Keeping out illegal immigrants, imposing tariffs and reconfiguring NATO does not equal a closed society that no longer imports oil. You’re point is clumsy and flawed.

          Trump has just announced that he would temporarily ban importing ladders into the United States once elected President. When asked to explain why, he said that about 4,000 decent hardworking Americans have died falling off ladders in the last ten years and if he’s going to ban Muslims because nearly 50 Americans have died at the hands of Islamist radicals since 2005 then he has to do the same for those ladders, adding, “They send us their bad ones”

          • Yoshua says:

            I agree that I went with idea to the far end. Trump is of course also saying that he wants renegotiate the deals. Perhaps protectionism would be a better label on Trump.

            I just don’t see how tariffs on oil would interest anyone to continue export oil to the U.S.

        • The first question should be is this all just another TV show again, and nothing substantial changes in the end? Is he really going to do what he is saying now, and what is it in particular anyway? Is it going to be just a forgettable failure or domino chain event push? There is also this surrounding veil of changing times around us, perhaps he would be a catalyst of some events and trends.

          The relativity of time is something to behold.
          Imagine it took less than four years for Adolf and da boyz (+prior decade of preparedness) to wipe out more than 1000yrs of German presence in Prussia, Bohemia, Silesia, Carpathian regions, and even small enclaves in far away Romania, Balkans, Balt etc. I do repeat, just few years (lot of coal and oil, millions of dead Russians), poof thousands years gone in an instant as the Soviets rolled back the invaders. Yep, he was indeed doing project “thousands year empire”, but it somehow snapped into completely different meaning, lolz.

          Mind you, I don’t see and compare Trumpism yet as in similar rank to above, but I’m trying offer examples of catalyst potential to fast track some ongoing trends as per “fast vs. slow history”.

          • Yoshua says:

            The Great Depression must have been one of the greatest catalysators to World War II. If or when the economy collapses now, the collapse will be many magnitudes greater.

            Trump has mantled the role as the American Saviour. Putin has mantled the role as the Russian Saviour. Angela Merkel has crowned her self with the halo as the Saviour of humanity. Xi Jinping is the Saviour of China.

            All these greater than life character’s don’t bode well for the future. When the collapse comes people will look for a strong leader who will lead them out from the valley of death. Everything seems to be in place for a disaster.

    • We get a biased sample of unconventional in the US — more than the rest of the world.

      I have found it difficult to figure out how much of Natural Gas Liquids are unconventional. My guess is that NGL was treated as conventional in the chart, whether or not it really was.

  30. It seem whole string of comments disappeared today including my article, Ed and DJ responded to it as well..

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      I’ve run into a problem late at night PST, of trying to post something but it doesn’t take. Then sometimes a day later it magically appears and sometimes not at all. Is there a Merlin kicking around in there?

  31. Vince the Prince says:

    I’ve got it! Found the next locale Fast Eddy and company will move to next to escape the end of BAU….get a ticket now….while they are still available

    See it is really true…