The real oil limits story; what other researchers missed

For a long time, a common assumption has been that the world will eventually “run out” of oil and other non-renewable resources. Instead, we seem to be running into surpluses and low prices. What is going on that was missed by M. King Hubbert, Harold Hotelling, and by the popular understanding of supply and demand?

The underlying assumption in these models is that scarcity would appear before the final cutoff of consumption. Hubbert looked at the situation from a geologist’s point of view in the 1950s to 1980s, without an understanding of the extent to which geological availability could change with higher price and improved technology. Harold Hotelling’s work came out of the conservationist movement of 1890 to 1920, which was concerned about running out of non-renewable resources. Those using supply and demand models have equivalent concerns–too little fossil fuel supply relative to demand, especially when environmental considerations are included.

Virtually no one realizes that the economy is a self-organized networked system. There are many interconnections within the system. The real situation is that as prices rise, supply tends to rise as well, because new sources of production become available at the higher price. At the same time, demand tends to fall for a variety of reasons:

  • Lower affordability
  • Lower productivity growth
  • Falling relative wages of non-elite workers

The potential mismatch between amount of supply and demand is exacerbated by the oversized role that debt plays in determining the level of commodity prices. Because the oil problem is one of diminishing returns, adding debt becomes less and less profitable over time. There is a potential for a sharp decrease in debt from a combination of defaults and planned debt reductions, leading to very much lower oil prices, and severe problems for oil producers. Financial institutions tend to be badly affected as well. If a person looks at only past history, the situation looks secure, but it really is not.

Figure 1. By Merzperson at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons, Public Domain,

Figure 1. By Merzperson at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons, Public Domain,

Substitutes aren’t really helpful; they tend to be high-priced and dependent on the use of fossil fuels, including oil. They cannot possibly operate on their own. They add to the “oversupply at high prices” problem, but don’t really fix the need for low-priced supply.

Why supply tends to rise as prices rise

For any non-renewable commodity, there are a wide variety of resources that will “sort of” work as substitutes, if the price is high enough. If the price can be raised to a very high level, the funds available will encourage the development of more advanced (and expensive) technology.

If it is possible to raise the price to a very high level, it is likely that a very large quantity of oil will be available. Figure 1 shows some of the types of oil available:

Getting sufficient oil out is a price problemI got my idea for Figure 2 from a natural gas resource triangle by Stephen Holditch.

Figure 2. Stephen Holdritch's resource triangle for natural gas

Figure 3. Stephen Holditch’s resource triangle for natural gas

A similar resource triangle is available for coal (from National Academies Press; Coal Resource, Reserve, and Quality Assessments):

Figure 3. Coal resources in 1997, based on EIA data. Image from

Figure 4. Coal resources in 1997, based on EIA data. Image from National Academies Press.

Because of the availability of an increasing amount of resources, we are likely to get more oil, natural gas, and coal, if prices rise. We associate high prices with scarcity; instead, high prices tend to make a larger quantity of energy product available.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has a different way of illustrating the likelihood of huge future oil supply, if prices can only rise high enough.

Figure 4. Figure 1.4 from International Energy Agency's 2015 World Energy Outlook.

Figure 5. Figure 1.4 from International Energy Agency’s 2015 World Energy Outlook.

The implication of this chart is that the IEA believes that oil prices can rise to $300 per barrel, giving the world plenty of oil to extract for many years ahead.

Can consumers really afford very high-priced energy products?

In my view, the answer is “No!” If oil is high priced, then the many things made with oil will tend to be high priced as well. Wages don’t rise with oil prices; most of us remember this from the oil price run-up of 2003 to 2008.

Because of this affordability issue, the limit to oil production is really an invisible price limit, represented as a dotted line. We can’t know in advance where this is, so it is easy to assume that it doesn’t exist.

Figure 4. Resource triangle, with dotted line indicating uncertain financial cut-off.

Figure 6. Resource triangle, with dotted line indicating uncertain financial cut-off.

The higher cost of extraction is equivalent to diminishing returns.

As we are forced to seek out ever more expensive to extract resources, the economy is in some sense becoming less and less efficient. We are devoting more of our human labor and other resources to extracting fossil fuels, and to extracting minerals from ever-lower-quality ores. In some sense, we could just as well be putting these resources into a pit and burying them–they no longer help us grow the rest of the economy. Using resources in this way leaves fewer resources to “grow” the rest of the economy. As a result, we should expect economic contraction when the cost of oil extraction rises.

In fact, economic contraction seems to happen when oil prices rise, at least for oil importing countries. Economist James Hamilton has shown that 10 out of 11 post-World War II recessions were associated with oil price spikes. A 2004 IEA report says, “.  .  . a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices. Inflation would rise by half a percentage point and unemployment would also increase.”

Energy products play a critical role in the economy.

Economic activity is based on many kinds of physical changes. For example:

  • Using heat to transform materials from one form to another;
  • Using energy products to help move goods from one place to another;
  • Moving electrons in such a way that light is provided
  • Moving electrons in such a way that Internet transmission can be provided.

A human being, by himself, exerts only about 100 watts of power. A human being is also quite limited in what he can do; he can provide a little heat, but no light, for example. Energy products are very helpful for making capital goods such as buildings, machines, roads, electricity transmission lines, cars and trucks.

We can think of energy products, and capital goods made using energy products, as ways of leveraging human energy. If per capita energy consumption increases over time, leveraging of human labor can grow. As a result, humans can become ever more productive–think of new and better machines to help humans do their work. Dips in this leveraging tend to correspond to economic contraction (Figure 7).

Figure 6. 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.

To have a growing economy, wages of non-elite workers need to be growing. 

Our economy is in a sense a “circular economy,” in which non-elite workers (less educated, non-managerial workers) play a pivotal role because they are both producers of goods and potential consumers of the output of the economy. Because there are so many non-elite workers, their demand for homes, cars, and electronic goods plays a critical role in maintaining the total demand of the economy.

Figure 6. Representation of two major part of economy by author.

Figure 8. Representation of two major parts of the economy by author.

If the wages of these non-elite workers are growing, thanks to increased productivity, the economy as a whole can grow. If the wages of these workers are shrinking or are flat (in inflation-adjusted terms), the economy is in trouble. The recycling process cannot work very well.

If there is not enough economic growth–often caused by not enough growth in energy consumption to leverage human labor–then we tend to get a growing imbalance between the sector on the left with businesses, governments, and elite workers, and the sector on the right, with non-elite workers. Part of this wage imbalance comes from sending jobs to low-wage countries. As jobs are shifted to low-wage countries, the workers of the world increasingly cannot afford the goods that they and other workers are producing.

Figure 7. Representation by author of balance that occurs.

Figure 9. Representation by author of imbalance that occurs.

If the wages of non-elite workers are not rising sufficiently, rising debt can be used to hide this problem for a while. The way this is done is by allowing workers to buy goods at ever-lower interest rates, over ever-longer time periods. This strategy has an endpoint, which we seem to be close to reaching.

Debt is a key factor in creating an economy that operates using energy.

A generally overlooked problem of our current system is the fact that we do not receive the benefit of energy products until well after they are used. This is especially the case for energy used to make capital investments, such as buildings, roads, machines, and vehicles. Even education and health care represent energy investments that have benefits long after the investment is made.

The reason debt (and close substitutes) are needed is because it is necessary to bring forward hoped-for future benefits of energy products to the current period if workers are to be paid. In addition, the use of debt makes it possible to pay for consumer products such as automobiles and houses over a period of years. It also allows factories and other capital goods to be financed over the period they provide their benefits. (See my post Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy.)

When debt is used to move forward hoped-for future benefits to the present, oil prices can be higher, as can be the prices of other commodities. In fact, the price of assets in general can be higher. With the higher price of oil, it is possible for businesses to use the hoped-for future benefits of oil to pay current workers. This system works, as long as the price set by this system doesn’t exceed the actual benefit to the economy of the added energy.

The amount of benefits that oil products provide to the economy is determined by their physical characteristics–for example, how far oil can make a truck move. These benefits can increase a bit over time, with rising efficiency, but in general, physics sets an upper bound to this increase. Thus, the value of oil and other energy products cannot rise without limit.

Using hoped-for benefits to set oil prices is likely to lead to oil prices that overshoot their maximum sustainable level, and then fall back.

A debt-based system of setting oil prices is different from what most of us would have considered possible. If wages of non-elite workers had been growing fast enough (Figure 9), increasing debt would not even be needed, because the whole system could grow thanks to the increased buying power of the many non-elite workers. These workers could buy new houses and cars, have more meat in their diet, and travel on international vacations, adding to demand for oil and other energy products, thereby keeping prices up.

As wages of non-elite workers fall behind, an increasing amount of debt is needed. For the US, the ratio of the increase in debt to the increase in GDP (including the rise in inflation) is as shown in Figure 10:

Figure 10. United States increase in debt over five year period, divided by increase in GDP (with inflation!) in that five year period. GDP from Bureau of Economic Analysis; debt is non-financial debt, from BIS compilation for all countries.

Figure 10. United States increase in debt over five-year period, divided by increase in GDP (with inflation!) in that five-year period. GDP from Bureau of Economic Analysis; debt is non-financial debt, from BIS compilation for all countries.

Thus, the increase in debt has never been less than the corresponding increase in GDP over five-year periods, even when oil prices were low prior to 1970. In general, the pattern would suggest that the higher the oil price, the higher the increase in debt needs to be to generate one dollar of GDP. This is to be expected, if economic growth depends on Btus of energy, and higher prices lead to the need for more debt to cover the purchase of necessary Btus of energy.

We are reaching a head-on collision between (1) the rising cost of energy production and (2) the falling ability of non-elite workers to pay for this high-priced energy. 

The head-on collision we are reaching is what causes the potential instability referred to at the beginning of this article, as illustrated in Figure 1. Of course, such a collision has the potential to cause debt defaults, as it becomes impossible to repay debt with interest.

Figure 11. Repaying loans is easy in a growing economy, but much more difficult in a shrinking economy.

Figure 11. Repaying loans is easy in a growing economy, but much more difficult in a shrinking economy.

Turchin and Nefedov in the academic book Secular Cycles analyzed eight agricultural economies that eventually collapsed. The problem that these economies encountered was exactly the same one we are now encountering: falling wages of non-elite workers at the same time that the cost of producing energy products (food, at that time) was rising. Rising costs were often an end result of too many people for the arable land. A workaround could be found, such as building irrigation or adding a larger army to conquer a neighboring land, but it would add costs.

As the problems of these economies progressed, debt defaults became more of a problem. Governments found it hard to collect enough taxes, because so many of the workers were increasingly impoverished. Often, workers became sufficiently weakened by an inadequate diet that they became vulnerable to epidemics. Governments often collapsed.

In the economies analyzed by Turchin and Nefedov, food prices temporarily spiked, but it is not clear that this was the final outcome, given the inability of workers to pay the high prices. Debt defaults would tend to further reduce ability to pay. Thus, it would not be surprising if prices ended up low (from lack of demand), rather than high. We know that ancient Babylon is an example of one economy that collapsed. Revelation 18:11-13 seems to describe the situation after Babylon’s collapse as one of lack of demand.

11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

Other parts of the oil limits story that researchers have missed

As I have previously mentioned, most researchers begin with the view that soon there will be a problem with energy scarcity. The real issue that tends to bring the system down is related, but it is fairly different. It is the fact that as we use energy, the system necessarily generates entropy. This entropy takes the form of rising debt and increased pollution. It is these entropy-related issues, rather than a shortage of energy products per se, that tends to bring the system down. See my post, Our economic growth system is reaching limits in a strange way.

We could, in theory, fix our problems by adding infinite debt at the same time that wages of non-elite workers tend toward zero. We could then use this additional debt to fight pollution problems and pay all of the workers. All of us know that this solution would not work in the real world, however.

The two-sided economy I have described in Figures 8 and 9 is one part of our problem. There is a popular saying, “We pay each other’s wages.” Unfortunately, paying each other’s wages does not work well, if the wage level of elite workers differs too much from the wage level of the non-elite workers. A worker making $7.50 per hour in a part-time job is not going to be able to pay the wages of a surgeon making $300,000 per year, no matter how an insurance policy is designed to spread costs evenly. A worker in India or Africa will not be able to afford goods made by human workers in the United States, because of wage differences.

Governments can try to fix the problem of non-elite workers getting too small a share of the output of the system, but this is not easy to do. The real problem is that the system as a whole is not producing enough goods and services. This happens because the high cost of energy extraction (plus related issues–pollution control; need for more education for workers; need for ever-larger government and more elite workers) is removing too many resources from the system. The result is that the economy as a whole tends to grow ever more slowly. The quantity of goods and services produced by the economy does not rise very rapidly. When there are not enough goods produced in total, non-elite workers tend to find that their allocation has been reduced.

If governments attempt to add debt to fix the problems with the system, the addition of debt tends to raise asset prices on the left side of Figures 8 and 9. Unfortunately, the additional debt usually has little impact on the wages of non-elite workers (that is, the right hand part of the system).

Governments have talked about minimum income programs to raise incomes of those who are not elite workers. Whether or not this approach can work depends on many things–how much additional debt can be added to the system; whether this debt will actually raise the total amount of goods and services produced; how tolerant those in the left-hand side of Figures 8 and 9 are of losing their share of goods and services; the impact on relative currency levels.

Research involving Energy Returned on Energy Investment (EROEI) ratios for fossil fuels is a frequently used approach for evaluating prospective energy substitutes, such as wind turbines and solar panels. Unfortunately, this ratio only tells part of the story. The real problem is declining return on human labor for the system as a whole–that is, falling inflation adjusted wages of non-elite workers. This could also be described as falling EROEI–falling return on human labor. Declining human labor EROEI represents the same problem that fish swimming upstream have, when pursuit of food starts requiring so much energy that further upstream trips are no longer worthwhile.

Falling fossil fuel EROEI is a contributor to falling EROEI with respect to human labor, but there are other contributors as well (Figure 12). (My list is probably not exhaustive.)

Figure 12. Authors' depiction of changes to workers share of output of economy, as costs keep rising for other portions of the economy keep rising.

Figure 12. Author’s depiction of changes to workers’ share of output of economy, as costs keep rising for other portions of the economy.

If our problem is a shortage of fossil fuels, fossil fuel EROEI analysis is ideal for determining how to best leverage our small remaining fossil fuel supply. For each type of fossil fuel evaluated, the fossil fuel EROEI calculation determines the amount of energy output from a given quantity of fossil fuel inputs. If a decision is made to focus primarily on the energy products with the highest EROEI ratios, then our existing fossil fuel supply can be used as sparingly as possible.

If our problem isn’t really a shortage of fossil fuels, EROEI is much less helpful. In fact, the EROEI calculation strips out the timing over which the energy return is made, even though this may vary greatly. The delay (and thus needed amount of debt) is likely to be greatest for those energy products where large front-end capital expenditures are required. Nuclear would tend to be a problem in this regard; so would wind and solar.

To evaluate the extent to which a given energy product tends to raise debt levels, a better approach might be to look at debt levels directly. Another measure might be to compare the required system-wide capital expenditures for a particular purpose, for example, to provide sufficient non-intermittent electricity for the state of California over a period of say, 50 years, using different electricity generation scenarios.

Our academic system of inquiry, with its peer reviewed literature system, has let us down.

Our peer reviewed academic system is not telling this story. Part of the problem is that this is a difficult story. It has taken me most of the last ten years to figure it out.

Part of the problem with our academic system seems to be excessive reliance on past analyses. Once one direction has been set, it is hard to change. Another part of the problem is that the focus of each researcher tends to be quite narrow. The result can be that it is hard to “see the forest for the trees.”

Furthermore, politicians and academic publishers tend to “push” results in the direction of a desired outcome. Grant money goes to researchers who follow the government-preferred fields of inquiry; publishers prefer books that are not too alarming to students.

I am coming at this issue from “out in left field.” I don’t have a Ph.D., although I am a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society, which many would consider similar. I also have an M. S. in Mathematics. I do not work in a university setting. I do not have a strong background in subjects a person might expect, such as geology, economic theory, or physics. I do have a fair amount of practical experience with financial modeling from my actuarial background, however.

My approach is very different from that of most researchers. I come to the problem from the point of view of how a finite world might be expected to operate. I write most of my articles on the Internet, where I get the benefit of comments from readers. Many of these commenters point me in the direction of articles or books I should read, or raise additional issues I should consider.

Over the years, I have become acquainted with many researchers in related fields. These people have generally reached out to me–invited me to speak at their conferences, or corresponded with me about issues they considered important. As a result of this collaboration, I have been able to put together a more complete story than others.

I have stayed away from publishers and funding sources that might try to influence what I say. I have not been taking donations, and do not run ads on my website. The story is one that needs to be told, but it easily gets distorted if the person telling the story is influenced by what will generate the largest donations, or the most grant money.

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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1,243 Responses to The real oil limits story; what other researchers missed

  1. Thomas John Irwin says:

    Greg et. al.

    Isn’t using wind as a energy source using a form of solar entropy in wind? I’m a little confused now.

    • Fast Eddy says:


      It would be interesting to see a study that outlines the ramifications of BAU ending permanently and 4000+ spent fuel ponds boiling and catching fire….

      I suspect if you asked any of these scientists they’d respond with ‘that is not possible. But if you pressed them with a ‘what if’ — they’d pause for a moment then respond with ‘that would be an extinction event’

      This scenario is unthinkable. Someone should have thought of this before the first reactor was built….


      Anyway…. radiation is a great way to deal with cancers…. and we are a cancer… unfortunately the treatment kills the good tissue….

      • Artleads says:

        Fast Eddy,

        Thanks for keeping on this issue. Although I take interest in anything I see on nuclear waste, I have heard little specifically about fuel ponds. (My ignorance is glaring, but I always justify such ignorance by comparing myself to the vast majority of people who who know even less than I.)

        Some people on FW generously tried to fill me in on fission, fuel rods, and cooling of the latter. But it’s the kind of information that tends to slip away, given how the information is received and stored. You seem to have a solid grasp of the subject, and be willing to share what you know in a systematic and thorough way. I for one would be happy to learn more about fuel ponds–how they work, how they are supplied with cooling agent (water, I suppose), how they are maintained, where they are located relative to power plants, etc. Like why there are 500 or so nuke power plants but 4,000 fuel ponds, etc.

        Thanks in advance for any explanations you care to share..

  2. xabier says:

    Bottle of whiskey for the priest, too. 🙂

    • Gruppen2 says:

      • Vince the Prince says:

        You know, if any of you took the trouble to actual look at the problem and saw the movie that Fast Eddie posted, you would realize just a small number of priests actually are the ones. Please do not blanket the whole clergy. The problem was the leadership not facing the reality of the situation. Oh my, sounds like denial….let’s see…we have it regarding global warming, resource depletion, overpopulation, growth at all costs, industrial agriculture, should I continue?
        Humans like to look away, it is far easier.
        Yep, all those denialists out there, except for us chosen ones here.

        • Now churches of any denomination that want liability insurance have put in place rules to try to prevent reruns of this kind of problem. Usually there is a requirement that two adults be present, whenever there are children. There are rules that teachers cannot put children on their laps. If a child needs someone to accompany him to a lavatory, another child is sent along, not an adult.

          • but can you get insurance against the messiah not returning

            or if youre a sinner like me—insurance in case he does?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I find that rather bizarre… twisted…. imagine if we had the same problem with teachers….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Coupon for a lap dance at the local strip club?

  3. richard says:

    Thirteen years sounds a long time. A drop of seven percent per year is a better description.
    “BP’s reserves-to-production ratio, the number of years reserves can sustain current production, is the third highest among oil majors at nearly 13 years, excluding output from Russia’s Rosneft, in which BP has a near-20 percent stake. It trails only Exxon Mobil’s (XOM.N) 17 years and Total’s (TOTF.PA) 13.5, but is more than Shell, Eni(ENI.MI) or Chevron (CVX.N).”
    “BP’s RRR fell last year to 61 percent, its lowest in many years, from 129 percent in 2013.”
    “BP’s project break-even costs are also the highest in the group at around $72 a barrel, according to Macquarie.”

  4. Stefeun says:

    We know that globally, GDP is directly proportional to the primary energy consumed.
    That gives a chart with a -surpisingly- straight line, which could theoretically rise ad infinitum:

    If we introduce, instead of GDP, another index that takes into account some quality measurements, and is of course “per capita”, say, HDI (, we get a different chart, that of course doesn’t rise ad infinitum, but seems to point an optimal value, above which an increase of income (or amount of energy consumed) doesn’t bring any additional wellbeing:

    From (sorry in French):
    That was just to say we’re still using metrics that were probably adapted to a period of strong growth, and are now inadequate and only able to increase inequalities, while making people more unhappy both in rich and poor countries.
    I don’t say that using better metrics coud have “saved” us, but we should have been able to do a much better job, especially in avoiding confusion between amount of money and quality of life.

    • I am not impressed by these “Money vs Quality of Life” arguments. They seem to be related to the idea that we are only going backward by a little bit. We can somehow adapt to this slightly lower quality of life.

      The world economy cannot support anything like 7+ billion people, no matter how we count things. This point seems to get lost on those creating these new metrics.

      • Artleads says:

        “I am not impressed by these ‘Money vs Quality of Life” arguments.’ ”

        We haven’t discussed what quality of life means. Are there markers for quality of life that apply to everyone?

        Permaculture expert Geoff Lawton says we need more people. I have puzzled over this, and when I write about it there is an uproar. Does he mean that planting food without fossil fuels requires a different kind of planting? Everything done by hand, hand planting varieties of plants in a small space, as tractors couldn’t do?

        I work at using cardboard boxes into “straw bales” to construct small structures by myself. Everything is done by hand, with no power tools. Slow as molasses. So I could go technical and slick and produce more, perhaps even making some money. But that has no appeal whatever. I don’t want (or need) money that badly. I somehow get enough perks out of the system that I can live on less than $700/mo. (And there is never an uproar when I say this; only silence and a change of subject.)

        The way I see to get more done, using no power tools, is to have children in every school district in every county, in every state, in every country produce food and shelter from waste materials and no complex technology. As has been mentioned here before, students at all levels are not learning what they need to learn for their current circumstances. This constitutes (IMO) one of the greatest wastes imaginable. They could benefit by learning while doing, and while producing what the “environment” can afford. Instead they are being taught nonsense that make them useless and unhappy. That entails craving money, which isn’t going to be available to them. So money isn’t a tool toward a goal, but the goal itself. I don’t see how that helps anybody.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          You speak as if there is a way to maintain some semblance of modern civilization if only we made some serious adjustments…

          I would agree — if these adjustments involved returning to a very primitive way of living …i.e. living like wild savages…

          And even that is arguably — not sustainable.

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    China went deeper into madness with 1.2 trillion dollars of new debt in Q1… with 45% of that being loaned to insolvent companies — who used it to make interest payments on existing debt…

    And now this….

    China Proposes Unprecedented Nationalization Of Insolvent Companies: Banks Will Equitize Non-Performing Loans

    There are so many clocks ticking away in so many places…. all hooked up to 4000+ spent fuel ponds…. all it take is for one to strike midnight….

  6. rien says:

    Rising supply as prices rise and a falling EROEI is just another way of converting exiting assets (back) into oil.

  7. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Interesting article describing the hell bent financial efforts to force growth as the eye of a global financial hurricane and or a cancer. For some reason I’m having trouble copying/pasting from articles but at least there’s the link.

    • Stefeun says:

      Thanks Stilgar,
      Copy/paste may work better from the original (..?):

      My take away:
      “Financialization’s solution (reg. Risk of default): package the risk in safe-looking securities and offload the risk onto suckers and marks. Securitizing mortgages enabled loan originators to skim the origination fees and profits up front and then offload the risk of default and loss onto buyers of the mortgage securities.”

      This recipee was successfull for those who implemented it, so it was extended to all sectors of the global finance:
      “Risk seeps into every nook and cranny of the financial system, greatly increasing the odds of a systemic domino reaction in financial meltdowns. This is precisely what we saw in the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown (GFM): supposedly “contained” subprime mortgages toppled dominoes left and right, bringing the entire risk-saturated system to its knees.”

      I wonder if one could qualify the fake growth we had since GFC as an expansion of the global risk..?

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        The original source does work better – thanks, Stefeun. Here’s another quip I like from that article:

        “Don’t fall for the mainstream media and politicos’ shuck-and-jive that all is well and “growth” will return any day now. The only “growth” we’re experiencing are the financial cancers of systemic risk and financialization’s soaring wealth/income inequality.”

        Beyond not being a long term solution, it is interesting and unfortunate that the financialization strategy playing out panders to the ‘already’ well do to as explained above. The more desperate the effort the greater the wealth divide becomes. It’s like one post I saw a while back from Illargi of The Automatic Earth, in which he makes an analogy between the person suffering from hypothermia and financialization doing the same thing;
        Sacrifice the periphery to keep the core alive.

        The only question is how far long are we on that process? It seems like there can’t be that much more financialization that can be attempted. The problem is once a process like this is well under way, the next desperate measure doesn’t seem that much more desperate than the last. In other words, going down that darkened rabbit hole is incremental so many don’t pay much attention to what is happening along the way, but sure enough it only has so much tether until it snaps back.

    • Increased debt has been the way we have gotten the economy to grow in the past. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much debt can be added. We seem to be reaching it.

  8. Artleads says:

    A bunch of letters in the Denver Post…

    Page 2D – Letters To Editor
    RE: “End of the mine; Communities in the North Fork Valley bristle as the coal industry collapses,” May 15 news story
    (Photo): West Elk Mine foreman Terry Hardman works last month in Somerset. West Elk is the last coal mine operating in the area. Hardman argues that “windmills and solar just ain’t strong enough, ain’t going to carry us.”
    Bruce Finley’s article about the difficulties of coal miners as Colorado coal mines shut down is a very fitting tribute to a dying business and the troubles it has wrought upon the miners. America’s coal miners are a dedicated group of highly skilled workers. They really have few places to find work that can use their immense skills. In many ways they are like soldiers returning from war. Both groups are highly skilled workers whose business no longer needs them. It’s not that their skills are no longer useful, but more a problem of finding where and how to apply those skills. We, as a country, should devote more money (that’s spelled “taxes” — not a dirty word) and effort to make sure these human resources don’t go to waste. Ironically, the industry that displaced the coal business, natural gas, is now undergoing the same economic suffering. The skilled drillers are another resource that we should not allow to go to waste.
    Noel Waechter, Littleton
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    Thank you to all our miners. We deeply appreciate their work and all they have contributed to creating Colorado’s economy. We owe them. We, as a state, need to help them transition to work that supports our fragile environment. We need not deny the seriousness of climate change and its economic and health-related costs. We are experiencing rapid growth of clean and renewable energy. There are serious growing plains in this transition. When have we ever experienced such a huge overhaul of our economy? What will it take to build the renewable infrastructure required? We need a transparent and simple plan for the transition from a fossil fuel-driven economy to one based on clean energy. One proposal that meets these criteria is a carbon fee and dividend. It is revenue neutral and a huge job creator.
    Lesley LeFevre, Centennial
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    The Post’s article on the coal industry’s decline in the North Fork Valley paints a picture of gloom while ignoring the benefits of reducing coal pollution and the opportunities for economic transformation. Colorado mountain towns have been reinventing themselves for over a century in response to social and economic changes. Crested Butte (which, like the West Elk Mine, is in Gunnison County) once was entirely dependent on coal. It now is a vibrant community centered on recreation, ranching, and sustainable public lands access. In summer, the town hosts an annual wildflower festival. Climate change, worsened by coal mining and combustion, threatens the futures of Crested Butte and other mountain towns through reduced snowpack, warmer winters, beetle-killed forests, and increased forest fires. The West Elk Mine’s forest bulldozing adds insult to injury. Communities in transition deserve compassion and aid. But we must, and we can, transition to a cleaner, more sustainable economy.
    Sandy Shea, Crested Butte (board president for High Country Conservation Advocates)
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    In an otherwise excellent article on the decline of Colorado’s coal mining industry, what’s noticeably missing is the role played by natural gas. In fact, the words “natural gas” appear only 3 times in this lengthy piece and 2 of those mentions are from Gov. John Hickenlooper in which he makes the point that natural gas is the real cause of the decline. But you couldn’t tell that from industry lobbyists who keep blaming everyone and everything but the real culprit, including the federal government, regulations that have not yet been put in place, renewables and even Pres. Obama and Hillary Clinton. While all of the causes cited by the coal industry and its employees do indeed play a role, they are minor compared to natural gas. The plain truth is that coal is being killed by an overabundance of low-cost, readily available natural gas. I suggest they focus their efforts on the reality of natural gas, rather than political ideology. Perhaps they should consider joining the anti-fracking movement. After all, it is fracking that makes abundant, low-cost gas possible. That’s one way to bring back the industry: Kill off the cleaner, low-cost competitor.
    Martin D. Robbins, Denver
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Sinclair’s truism explains much about the climate change debate. If I were a coal miner like those quoted in last Sunday’s Denver Post, I too would resist understanding climate change and the emergence of clean energy. Replace “salary” in Sinclair’s quote with “belief system,” and you see how a sizable minority of Americans questions the reality of climate change despite the scientific consensus. We need to reconcile the scientific reality with the political reality. As Gov. John Hickenlooper says, we must help workers in declining industries retrain for the clean energy future. We also need a national policy that slashes emissions while balancing liberal beliefs about regressive taxation, conservative beliefs abut government spending, and business beliefs about economic growth. A carbon tax with all revenue refunded to the public fits that bill
    Jaret Zuboy, Golden

    • Name (required) says:

      “we must help workers in declining industries retrain for the clean energy future.”

      Except there is no clean energy future. The belief in clean energy future is akin to belief in that the messiah is coming.

      • Greg Machala says:

        From a letter to the Denver Post:
        “Crested Butte (which, like the West Elk Mine, is in Gunnison County) once was entirely dependent on coal. It now is a vibrant community centered on recreation, ranching, and sustainable public lands access.” Where does Crested Butte get electricity from? What about the gas and diesel fuel? If Crested Butte was entirely dependant on coal, it is now dependant on coal, oil, natural gas. Sustainable? No!

        • zfactor says:

          There is one way in which Crested Butte’s example could be followed. Recreational marijuana sales to fill a void of anything else that produces a income.

      • i thought that was on the ”to do” list as well

      • Stefeun says:

        There’s no clean energy at all.
        It’s an oxymoron, since dissipating energy produces entropy (= disorder, waste, …) and our problem is not that much to find new energy to use, rather -much more- to get rid of this generated entropy.

        • Artleads says:

          “…and our problem is not that much to find new energy to use, rather -much more- to get rid of this generated entropy.”

          By getting rid of waste?

          • Stefeun says:

            I know you’re focused on re-using discarded products, I assume that’s what you call “waste”.

            What we’re talking about here is much broader: “… throwing entropy to the biosphere in different forms such as pollutants, ecosystems transformations, extinctions, heat and so on; while throwing entropy to other societies as war, migration, etcetera.”*

            Even by re-using “wasted” products, you have to use energy and therefore to produce new entropy, and in the end of the day you still have some amount of unusable pollutant you don’t know what to do with…
            Sure, we could be much more efficient than we are today with our energy-guzzling processes, but there’s no way back, consumed energy is lost forever, and entropy defines the “arrow of time” (2nd law, irreversibility of transformations).

            *: the excerpt is from this article by Jacopo Simonetta, published on Ugo Bardi’s blog, that I recommend you to read again:

            He also says: “In practice, (energy) sinks become problematic before wells do.”

            • Artleads says:


              I don’t just think about discarded materials. When you get your information from aesthetics and intuition, you bring the same right brain “critique” to everything in the culture. There is no way just to single out discarded materials. 50 years ago, based on the bubbling up of social protest, as well as right brain assessment–the tearing down of high quality, low entropy buildings for high entropy high rises not the least among them, the disfiguring of urban centers for interstate bypasses, etc., an endless list of like acceleration of costly waste that is intuitively felt as much as reasoned–you are dealing with the entire system. In that case, one is simply not dealing with it in the scientific terms that tend to come about too late to do anything about.

              The right brain critic simply lacks the timely application of scientific knowledge, then gives up or gets distracted while the scientists very slowly start to catch on. This is one of the basic, and possibly fatal, flaws of our epistemological system. And it’s part of why we are here.

              “Only a drastic reduction in the energy input could save the biosphere.”

              My work with discarded materials does drastically reduce energy input. It starts out as a temperamental dislike for power tools or complex technical knowledge. I use no power tools, and function so inadequately on the computer that I might not miss it if it went away. Only decades later do I learn more scientifically how my Luddite inclination relates SPECIFICALLY to broader energy and economic realities that I have long judged wrong.

              My work is also adamantly not meant to “succeed,” for to succeed means using the system’s efficiencies, which I find personally revolting. I prefer to be an ignored outlier, pleasing myself if no one else. I work by many orders of magnitude more slowly than if I were to simply get a system to enable efficiency. That efficiency I believe–as goes the inside, so goes the outside–would be bad for the whole, I suppose you could say scientifically that it would be highly entropic.

              “But this is a high price to pay because a reduction of energy flow means necessarily a reduction of complexity and information stored inside the human sub-system. It means misery and death for much of the human population, although it also means hope for the future one (assuming that it will exist, but humans are too adaptable and resilient to go extinct as long as a functioning biosphere exists) So, new civilizations will appear but, in order for that to occur, the present civilization will have to collapse fast enough to leave a livable planet to our descendants.”

              This is all too intellectual, and fails to take in the internal substitutions that can be made for BAU. I won’t say too much about this, since, lacking scientific rigor, it only invites incredulity. Don Stewart has done the reading and research that confirms some of the science–like the need for change in neurotransmitters, etc.–that I have not. (It would be nice if he’d jump in here.)

            • xabier says:


              We probably needn’t trouble ourselves about the entropy we generate: I suspect that it will solve us -the Industrial Human Problem – not the other way around.

              Definitively and permanently!

            • Stefeun says:

              Yes Xabier,
              The irony is that the biggest threat doesn’t come from where everybody’s looking at: we’re running out of FF, OK, but before that, we’ll suffocate under all kinds of wastes, scrap, rubbish, toxic particles, pandemy, etc.
              I caricaturized a bit, saying that we expected starvation, but we’ll get constipation instead. Less classy, but far more rapid and hard to deal with.

              Note that is valid only if the can can be kicked long enough. Many accidents can happen before we reaxch such extremity, that are prone to wreck down the house of cards, such as a financial meltdown triggered by an avalanche of defaults, for example. Well, this is a bad example, since it will happen anyway, too, if nothing else meanwhile. A proper accident may look more like some bunch of NeoCons making stupid things…?

            • moe says:

              Artleads- I dont believe Ive ever read a a more nonsensical response to a very clear and may I add gentle guidance.

            • moe says:

              “He also says: “In practice, (energy) sinks become problematic before wells do.””

              Im sorry sir both heaven and hell are booked solid may I suggest a stay at the entropy inn?

            • Greg Machala says:

              Yes, used energy is gone forever. There is no way to “renew” it. Using energy has consequences (entropy). Sometimes nature finds an elegant way to handle the entropy of energy use (such as plants and photosynthesis). Unfortunately, we have not found an elegant way to handle the entropy of burning massive amounts of fuels. Wonder if solar panels and wind turbines would produce more entropy than burning fossil fuels simply because there would have to be so many of them and a complete change of supporting infrastructure?

            • Increased debt is one kind of entropy. By their nature, wind and solar require more debt than fossil fuels, because of the front-ended nature of the investment required.

            • Artleads says:

              “moe says:
              May 24, 2016 at 9:51 am
              Artleads- I dont believe Ive ever read a a more nonsensical response to a very clear and may I add gentle guidance.”


              This says more about you than about me. You seem to have everything figured out in your own mind, while obviously failing to see the complexity of the subject.

              I’ll try to keep it simple: People in the world have different ways of knowing. Given the dearth of artist (or female, for that matter) commentators on FW, it’s fair to guess that the site is very favorable to people with business or engineering backgrounds. But my screen name (Art Leads) suggests that art is an indispensable discipline for maneuvering through our complex and difficult times.

              As an artist, I crystallized opinions some 50 years ago as to the need for a low entropy way of life. But I didn’t know the term entropy, and no one at all was thinking about global warming or peak oil or environmental collapse. I was (awkwardly) trying to communicate this to Stepheun, who is indeed a kind and patient gentleman.

              I knew what I knew through aesthetics and intuition. But living in a culture where these qualities were marginalized was not helpful to me or anyone else. And this kind of marginalization, which is perhaps unconsciously reflected on FW, is something I wish to call attention to.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I struggle to see how art helps one maneuver through difficult times… unless you are suggesting that admiring art can take one’s mind off the fact that one is about to be thrust into an unimaginable nightmare…. before suffering and dying….

              I can see how that might be helpful. Kinda like a natural form of Abilify….

            • Stefeun says:

              Thanks Artleads, and also Moe before, for your kind words towards me, that I’m not sure I deserve. Nevermind.

              I already said a few weeks ago that artistic values (broadly speaking) are very important, both in this pre-SHTF period in which they’ve been neglected/ignored, maybe we’d have found a way to slow down our accelerated march towards death, maybe by finding ways to fit our organization with the “real currencies” (i.e. dopamine et al.),
              and in post-SHTF era, if any, in which everything will have to be re-invented. Imagination will be precious.

            • Artleads says:


              The comments to the Bardi link are most instructive. I’ll need to spend more time with this article.

              “BTW The elites never had the capability to understand or control the internal dynamic of the global system – and they didn’t have to. In former times, internal entropy problems within societies were often solved by cutting their heads off ;-). Or at least try to. ”

              I guess I could open the Bardi page next to this, so I could cut and paste segments here.

              I still don’t get this:

              ““But this is a high price to pay because a reduction of energy flow means necessarily a reduction of complexity and information stored inside the human sub-system. It means misery and death for much of the human population…”

              I wonder if the role of the artist isn’t largely to transform and “get rid of” low grade energy (sinks?).

              Listened to this podcast that someone on FW posted.


              Really good. The speaker suggests that the two economic activities that have some basis in reality are “agriculture” and art. We obviously need food, and he makes the point that artists make “valuable” things (my term, and I would cite habitat as but one example) out of nothing. Isn’t that the same as reducing energy sinks?

            • Stefeun says:

              Our system, as any dissipative structure, needs increasing energy flow to maintain itself.
              Once the energy input can no longer grow fast enough (let alone decrease), the dissipative structure collapses. For us, it means a crash of the economy, with all the consequences you can imagine.

              Now, on the output side, the goal is not to “reduce energy sinks”, but on the contrary, to have them as “open” as possible, so that the waste heat and entropy can be evacuated as easily as possible. An analogy could be when your dustbin is full. But to my knowledge, there’s no way to empty the dustbin, the only method to avoid having it full is to fill it up as slowly as possible, but once it’s full, it’s too late. You have to adapt your metabolism to this lower gradient, which also means drastically reduce the energy input, i.e. crash the current arrangement and start with new much smaller ones.

            • Yorchichan says:


              Our system, as any dissipative structure, needs increasing energy flow to maintain itself.

              Is this correct? I eat considerably less than I used to do thirty years ago and yet I manage to stay maintained.

            • Stefeun says:

              That’s because you reached homeostasis.
              Regulatory systems that maintain parameters at fixed values. Unfortunately, I’m not able to explain why it happens to some dissipative structures, and not to others.

            • Yorchichan says:


              I suspect (and I am no expert and too lazy to attempt to become one) a truer statement is

              “Any dissipative structure has a minimum energy flow below which the structure collapses.”

              The financial system, due to its ponzi nature, does require an ever increasing flow of energy. Industrial civilisation could get by, if properly organised, on far less energy. It is unlikely such organisation will be forthcoming.

          • Artleads says:

            “Artleads- I dont believe Ive ever read a a more nonsensical response to a very clear and may I add gentle guidance.”

            Well, at least I agree that Stefeun is very gentle sand kind.

            People tend to get annoyed and be annoying on blogs. So, yes, I’m a total idiot about many things that are discussed here. Like the following: Energy sink? Energy wells? Is there a less abstract way to approach the subject, I wonder. The vast majority of folks don’t know what these terms mean, although, explained differently, they might. So, fine if people of like education and disposition congregate in one little place and talk to the choir, but don’t expect it to make a shred of difference to the world. But then you might conclude that the rest of the world is hopelessly defective and that only you and the choir know the score. Interesting opinion to have, if so.

            “He also says: “In practice, (energy) sinks become problematic before wells do.””

            • Stefeun says:

              Artleads, just to precise about wells and sinks:

              Energy doesn’t go away, but is degraded by the part we use/dissipate. In thermic machines, its dissipation always happens between a hot source and a cold sink. We take energy from a “well” (where energy is high grade, low entropy) and render it to a “sink” (low grade, high entropy). Meanwhile, we should have been able to recuperate some mechanical work, which amount is equal to energy that has been dissipated. And we also have irreversibly produced some entropy. (Same principle for non-thermal processes)

              So we have 2 problems: first is to get high-grade energy, and second is to get rid of the unusable low-grade energy. The latter is generally ignored, although having worse consequences than the former. It’s the difference between the well and the sink (aka gradient) that determines both the share of energy that is useable (efficiency), and the total amount that can be dissipated (flow).

            • Artleads says:

              “Artleads, just to precise about wells and sinks:”


              Remarkably clear, even to me. Thanks. Just one more question:

              “So we have 2 problems: first is to get high-grade energy, and second is to get rid of the unusable low-grade energy. The latter is generally ignored…”

              What is an example of ignored low-grade energy that is usually ignored?

            • Stefeun says:

              By “ignored low-grade energy” I mean the entropy we should get rid of.
              List at the beginning of this thread, goes from excessive CO2 in the atmosphere to all kinds of pollutants, to diseases, wars, etc…

        • Artleads says:

          “Stefeun says:
          May 26, 2016 at 5:43 pm
          By “ignored low-grade energy” I mean the entropy we should get rid of.

          List at the beginning of this thread, goes from excessive CO2 in the atmosphere to all kinds of pollutants, to diseases, wars, etc…”

          Your examples are so broadly connected with just about every aspect of our society that we need to be stepping back from the hard headed practicalities of oil a little, while paying a bit more attention to the “story” which runs the culture…what I’ve heard called the “trance.” we live by. I’m laboring under the impression that this trance can be exchanged for a more survivable one. And trance-building is largely the work of the artist.

          It’s the gut-wrenching recognition of how deep is the corruption and evil of our culture that drives me–not so much the price of oil or the state of the market. It FEELS on the subliminal level as though all the dead have piled up, that we’re surrounded by gray-brown piles of bones and dried skin, piled high at least to eye level on all sides. It is this visceral sensation of hellish accretion that the artist feels, which I believe must be translated back and forth with scientific understanding of entropy. Entropy is all that dead pile flowing from the wars, the unnecessary diseases and plagues, the ignorance…

          Thanks for listening and sharing. You have helped me a lot.

          • Stefeun says:

            After reading this rather dark comment, I don’t feel like I helped you…
            My advice would be to stay as far as possible from moral values, things like guiltiness, shame a.s.o. are traps very easy to fall in, but won’t bring anything good or reliable to your narrative (aka own mental model of the reality).

            • Artleads says:

              Thanks for the concern, Stefeun. I’m OK really. This is just the way I am> 🙂

          • Artleads says:

            In other words, there is a lot of “stuff” to get rid of. Someone here–maybe interguru–suggested that certain plants can transfer radiation to themselves, and the irradiated plant matter can be incinerated, making for the advantage of having somewhat easier-to-handle irradiated ash stored carefully. I mention that, since the paradigm of “incineration” to clear up the “piles of bones and flesh” comes to mind. A useful book for informing this way of thinking might be “The Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard.

      • At least a belief that the Messiah is coming has some sense to it. I don’t think that belief in the clean energy future does.

        • Gruppen2 says:

          The Messiah is coming alright – the thing is he is not overly impressed with what has been done with the intelligence which was gifted.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          What is the evidence that supports the coming of a messiah?

          • The sun rises every day; evolution continues in its normal pattern; having hope is good for most people, whether the hope is well-founded or not.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have no problem with the concept of their being a central planner…. since we are unable to explain how something was created from nothing…. of course we’d need to acknowledge that the central planner was created from nothing…

              However I struggle with the suggestion that an entity of such magnificent power would require me to worship it… to pray to it… to ask forgiveness… to put money in the Sunday collection box….

              I also struggle with the fact that it’s early emissaries were unaware of what surely would have been obvious to all-knowing beings — things like the earth being round and rotating around the sun — the reality of evolution… the bible and Koran are littered with inconsistencies …

          • Artleads says:

            “I struggle to see how art helps one maneuver through difficult times… ”

            I don’t do or advocate doing rain dances during drought, but native people must have found them serviceable for them to have maintained the tradition for thousands of years.

            I’m sure the same could be said for many native customs that I see no need to copy myself. As Gail implies, positive thinking goes a long way.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The thing is…

              What is about to hit us is so beyond anything ever experienced… our food supply is about to collapse to near 0. Fuel ponds are about to spew poison and sickness into the air and water.

              We are all going to suffer horribly and then die.

              I am not clear as to how admiring a painting or a delicate vase is going to provide any solace… in a world filled with suicidal levels of despair.

              Do you really think that art would comfort these kids?


              What about this victim of radiation poisoning?


            • Artleads says:

              “Yorchichan says:
              May 26, 2016 at 9:22 pm
              It was creativity and imagination that got us where we are today.”

              No doubt. But based on some faulty assumptions about finiteness of the world… So if creativity and imagination got us here based on faulty assumptions, they might make for a measure of correction now we know we have a finite world?

            • Stefeun says:

              I’m afraid it’s not q good argument, since we’ve been knowing for ca 500 years, that our planet is spherical and therefore our world finite.

              I’d rather see imagination/creativity as another tool or ingredient, prone to boost evolution of technologies and structures, by trying things never tried before.
              It applies (and is necessary) to small technological improvements, all the way to creating a society from scratch.
              A simple tool. Good or bad depends on how you’re using it, just like any tool.

            • Yorchichan says:

              No doubt. But based on some faulty assumptions about finiteness of the world… So if creativity and imagination got us here based on faulty assumptions, they might make for a measure of correction now we know we have a finite world?

              When ingenuity is used to create a tool/technology the only consideration is will it benefit me now. Considerations about the finiteness of the world do not come into it at all, whether faulty or otherwise. Did the inventor of the spear worry that one day the megafauna would be extinct?

            • Artleads says:

              “Yorchichan says:
              May 27, 2016 at 4:48 am

              “When ingenuity is used to create a tool/technology the only consideration is will it benefit me now. Considerations about the finiteness of the world do not come into it at all, whether faulty or otherwise. Did the inventor of the spear worry that one day the megafauna would be extinct?”

              Upon till 1960 or so (I believe) megafauna thrived in Africa. I suspect it wasn’t some unchangeable aspect of human nature that has caused megafauna extinction in most other places, and its precipitous decline in Africa since 1950. There are other factors, perhaps including culture (?), that must figure in whether or not there is extinction.

            • Yorchichan says:


              The megafauna was just an example (and humans have been extincting megafauna for tens of millenia thanks to our creativity). The point is short term personal gain from use of tools always trumps any consideration of long term harm to the environment and ultimately ourselves.

            • Artleads says:


              “The point is short term personal gain from use of tools always trumps any consideration of long term harm to the environment and ultimately ourselves.”

              In a world without fossil fuels there will be a limit on what tools are able to do. Without the availability of cheap energy (as I believe is Gail’s point) the complex tools of today can no longer be built, transported and marketed. Quite apart from so called human nature, tools will be defined by their REDUCTION. I don’t see “… short term personal gain from use of tools” trumping “consideration of long term harm to the environment and ultimately ourselves.” We seem to be facing a world of (at least) stark scarcity, where issues of tool use will be less about money and personal gain, but more about the ability to survive. My 2 cents.

            • Artleads says:

              So, paradoxically, imagination and creativity should be more at a premium when there are great physical limits. And then, the wise thing to do would be to use nature to the maximum to do our work for us.

            • Yorchichan says:

              @ Artleads

              As personal gains go, survival is about as good as it gets.

          • Artleads says:

            “I am not clear as to how admiring a painting or a delicate vase is going to provide any solace… in a world filled with suicidal levels of despair.”

            I’m not clear either. Never said it could. (But wouldn’t rule it out either.) Creativity and imagination are something different.

            I expect to hear ridiculed the latter notion. But how can you prove that creativity and imagine are of no use in the current world?

            Where are the 4,000 fuel ponds? Can you show them on a map? Can you prove that there is no prospect of safeguarding them? Can you prove that your apocalyptic scenario is as inevitable as you forever insist?

            • Yorchichan says:

              It was creativity and imagination that got us where we are today.

            • Creativity and imagination got us our debt system and allowed us to use energy to create the many devices that use energy products to operate. They are part of the picture, but without the basic building blocks (energy products, promises to repay in the future, commodities of many types besides energy products, human labor), they don’t work.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The onus is on you to demonstrate how we can maintain thousands of high tech ponds in a world where you won’t even be able to purchase a toothbrush.

              Oh – I know there are no ponds in DelusiSTAN but there most definitely are over 4000 of them in RealitySTAN.

        • Artleads says:

          “Gail Tverberg says:
          May 27, 2016 at 4:51 am
          Creativity and imagination got us our debt system and allowed us to use energy to create the many devices that use energy products to operate. They are part of the picture, but without the basic building blocks (energy products, promises to repay in the future, commodities of many types besides energy products, human labor), they don’t work.”

          I agree that ingenuity to make energy products are part of the picture. But are they also part of the STORY of western civilization (or any civilization)? What about hunter gatherer peoples that have lasted for tens of millennia without such products?

          The modern technology might be wonderful, but if but if it’s based on the wrong notion (the story) that Nature doesn’t matter, how sustainable could it ever be?

    • There seems to be endless faith that clean energy will save us, when it clearly can’t.

      People often focus on oil prices being too low, but the problem is much more widespread. Coal and natural gas prices are too low as well, and electricity prices tend to be lower as well. We need to have a system that works, and that is no longer the case. The result is many layoffs in important industries that we badly need.

      Energy supplies must be cheap enough that they can provide high tax revenue. This is clearly not the case for wind and solar PV.

      • xabier says:

        It is this that Ugo Bardi misses, time and time again.

        • Greg Machala says:

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair

        • Tim Groves says:

          Ugo is currently waxing manically optimistic on the EROEI of photovoltaic panels. He likens the intermittency problem they present us with to having to wait for buses.

        • Ugo was very much involved with the Limits to Growth modeling. He has written a book on the 1972 Limits to Growth story. I think he has more faith in the original model than he should.

          The 1972 model was put together without an understanding the financial system, particularly debt. The Meadows group put together a base case that is, to me, close to a best-case scenario. In this scenario, the system “stays together,” even as energy and other supplies go down–something I would not expect with a huge amount of debt outstanding.

          In the 1972 Limits to Growth book, an additional scenario is created in which the peak is delayed until after 2100, because of a switch to fuels that were more sustainable (I imagined that the authors meant nuclear energy) and population was artificially held down. Dennis Meadows told me that he and Donella had a great deal of faith that this situation could actually take place, back in 1972 when the book was published. He and Donella were quite young then–just out of graduate school.

          I think Ugo’s hope for a renewable energy world is in some sense parallel to this scenario. The scenario where peak is delayed until after 2100 seemed impossible to me back when I first read the book, and it still seems absurd to me, now.

          One issue related Ugo’s faith in renewables is his (and most Peak Oil people’s) false belief in the fossil fuel EROEI story. This is the story we keep hearing over and over and over: High EREOI is good, low is bad, if we can find other energy types with acceptable EROEIs we can save the world). It is based on the idea that we are running out of fossil fuels.

          The Fossil Fuel EROEI story is not correct. The EROEI that matters is the EROEI with respect to human labor–Are we adding enough energy so that human labor can be leveraged sufficiently that the system can continue to grow, and thus stay together? The big issue is a growing quantity of energy issue. A growing quantity takes place when energy is (1) cheap, (2) doesn’t generate too much debt, and (3) doesn’t generate too much pollution.

          Charles Hall and others are trying to make a parallel story for fossil fuel EROEI, but this just doesn’t work. The Fossil Fuel EROEI story misses the point that our problem is primarily a quantity problem. Renewables cannot be pumped up in great quantity,to a significant extent because of the huge debt that would be required to do so. EROEI calculations miss this completely. In fact, they do not penalize renewables at all for the front-ended nature of their cost structure. Renewables are not a solution, no matter what the fossil fuel EROEI calculation may say.

          • As I pointed out on Ugo’s site, he seems to fall in with the common belief in the PV/windfarm propaganda—that of “sufficient output to power Xx thousand homes”.
            That is the headline, and we are expected to take comfort from that and believe that all will be well if only we cover everywhere with pv panels.

            Unfortunately powering homes is the least of our problems.

            The average home, at least as we currently think of as a home, only uses about 10% of the power that is needed to support the overall infrastructure on which that home depends.

            As I’ve pointed out before, we seem to be headed for a situation where our prime occupation is that of finding new ways to produce energy

          • Fast Eddy says:

            He is just so out to lunch in so many ways…

            He clearly does not understand that the economy must continue to grow or it will collapse.

            So even if we could replace fossil fuels that does not change the formula…. we MUST grow.

            Imagine what the world would look like with another 84 years of exponential growth…. it cannot happen — we’d run down our resource base so dramatically that at some point driving up costs and collapsing BAU.

            People like Bardi are so deep into their delusional worlds that they are no longer relevant.

            I might add that I saw Meadows interviewed on the anniversary of Limits to Growth and he looked grim — almost angry — I assume because he felt that the study was ignored….

            The thing is…. there was never any other choice. Dennis should be happy with the fact that he was ignored — because that allowed him to live a long life.

            • Dennis Meadows’ career has been in something very different. I believe it has to do with educational materials for young people, but I don’t remember the details.

  9. DJ says:

    “My basic belief is that people expect the same forces (geological, ecological, political, economic,etc) to work in the same ways on decline as they have on incline.”

    I would say most people don’t expect a decline at all.

  10. Donn Hewes says:

    Question for Gail. I have been a follower of your work / thinking for many years. I appreciate the original nature of the work. My basic belief is that people expect the same forces (geological, ecological, political, economic,etc) to work in the same ways on decline as they have on incline. I just don’t see any evidence why that should be so, and much evidence that it won’t be. I feel your work is an ongoing discovery of what forces will shape our world going forward. So here is my question. Given that so much of the work is with basic building blocks, I don’t see how it explains the timing of future events, especially in the near future. I don’t think this takes away from the work at all, but it does leaving everyone with that one burning question. What does your current understanding of the state of things tell you about the timing of things?

    • It seems to me that the debt portion of the system is what will lead to a fall of the whole system. As long as the economy is growing fast enough that businesses are earning enough profit to repay debt with interest, and individuals can keep their jobs or get better ones, then the debt repayment system keeps working. But as “energy return” drops, governments find it necessary to decrease interest rates, to try to keep the whole system going–more debt, and hopefully more debt repaid with ever-power lower interest. There is a natural lower bound to this–zero interest rates. Once interest rates go below zero, the system stops working as before. Money moves to other markets, rather than accept negative interest rates. Individuals tend to save money, rather than spend it more quickly. Banks and pension plans stop earning enough return on their money.

      The unraveling looks to be not very far away, because of this issue.



    OFW Commentariat opinions welcome!



  12. Fast Eddy says:

    So… the stock buybacks are beginning to run up against the wall….

    Given that ‘almost all of the returns since 2009 have been due to stock share buybacks’

    Safe to assume that if the buybacks stop… the beast dies soon after?

  13. Veggie says:

    Over 60 nuclear reactors are currently under construction in 15 countries. China has 400 nuclear power plants on the drawing boards. Russia plans mini-nuclear floating power plants to power oil drill rigs in the Arctic by 2020. Honestly!”

    WOW !

    WOW !!!!

    WOW !!!!!!!

    WTF !

  14. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    It’s an article on why rising oil inventories are not lowering oil price (as is usually the case), but instead price is rising. One reason is reduced production from Nigeria and Canada.

  15. Rodster says:

    When Nuclear Power goes wrong. Excerpt:

    “Alas, two hundred fifty U.S. sailors of the USS Ronald Reagan, on a Fukushima humanitarian rescue mission, have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al claiming they are already experiencing leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments and other complaints extremely unusual in such young adults. Allegedly, the sailors were led to believe radiation exposure was not a problem.

    Theodore Holcomb (38), an aviation mechanic, died from radiation complications, and according to Charles Bonner, attorney for the sailors, at least three sailors have now died from mysterious illnesses (Third US Navy Sailor Dies After Being Exposed to Fukushima Radiation, Natural News, August 24, 2015.) Among the plaintiffs is a sailor who was pregnant during the mission. Her baby was born with multiple genetic mutations.

    Reflecting on 30 years ago, Adi Roche, chief executive of Chernobyl Children International, care for 25,000 children so far, says (2014): “The impact of Chernobyl is still very real and very present to the children who must live in an environment poisoned with radioactivity.”

    “Children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats… This is what I witnessed when I volunteered at Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus (February 2014),” How my Trip to a Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus Made me Proud to be Irish, the March 18, 2014 (Cliodhna Russell). Belarus has over 300 institutions like this hidden deep in the backwoods.

    ccording to Naoto Kan, Japanese PM 2010-11 during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown: “For the good of humanity it is absolutely necessary to shut down all nuclear power plants. That is my firm belief” (source: Greenpeace video, March 2016).

    Over 60 nuclear reactors are currently under construction in 15 countries. China has 400 nuclear power plants on the drawing boards. Russia plans mini-nuclear floating power plants to power oil drill rigs in the Arctic by 2020. Honestly!”

  16. MG says:

    Many people in Slovakia (tens of thousands according to the data presented today) remain voluntarily unemployed due to the fact that they face distraint. Why should anybody work, if his or her regular income is confiscated?

    The loss of belief in justice and the falling standard of living caused by the process of implosion are quite insurmountable obstacles. The fact that our anthropogenic world practically disappears is hard to explain and accept.

  17. adonis says:

    read something on bloomberg about the ‘death cross’ appearing portent to the next major correction on the s & p 500 should be the next collapse very interesting read just google ‘death cross bloomberg’ my fellow finite worlders

    • The article you are talking about is this one.

      It starts out:

      In a note to clients, Intermarket Strategy Ltd. Chief Executive and Strategist Ashraf Laidi points out that the S&P 500’s 50-week moving average is falling below its 100-week moving average.

      This seems to happen very rarely, and seems to mark tops of markets, according to the article.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The thing is…

      The stock market should have collapsed long ago …. so making comparisons with what happened in the past is of little use in the new normal…

      The central banks are determined to push the market higher… they will do absolutely anything…

      The only way the markets crash is if the central bank policies push on strings… when that happens not only do the stock markets crash … BAU crashes…

      We edge closer to the cliff every day….

  18. jeremey says:

    Shortonoil made a comment of that pretty much compliments what we read here from our Gail.
    Just posting to reinforced the message, as Gail has stated, “Its already baked in the cake”

    shortonoil on Sat, 21st May 2016 1:03 pm

    “I believe historians (and many others) will look back at this period and struggle to comprehend how such Unambiguous Signals were Disregarded:”
    It is really no different than the 2008 crash, or the dot com bust. Many people saw it coming but the main stream did not want to believe it. 1929 was the same; pundits were saying that the market was going up forever the day before it collapsed. The present situation is not any different, except that it will undoubtedly to be bigger, and last for a very long time.
    We have talked about the cannibalization process that is now taking place to keep petroleum flowing. This is the most obvious in petroleum itself; producers are no longer coming anywhere near close to replacing their reserves. They are now feeding off their own assets to stay in business. That is not only taking place in petroleum, but also everywhere else. Roads aren’t being replaced, and the US airline industry has a fleet that is almost 60 years old. That is the low hanging fruit, and we are rapidly coming to the end of it.
    Next will be pension funds, and corporations have already borrowed 100s of $ billions to pay dividends, and buy their own stock back. They are consuming their own assets to keep their book values elevated. The economy we now have is like a mirage in the dessert. It can look very real until it flickers out of existence. When that moment will come no one can say!

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The MSM is doing exactly what it should do… it tells us that all is well in the garden… after a long winter spring will come…

      If the MSM told us the truth ….panic would immediately strike … and BAU would end within hours.

      And nobody wants that.

    • Well, about the airliners bit it’s not entirely factual, airliners get regular overhauls of engines, turbine blades, avionics, wing tips, paint, and interiors as well, ~60yrs old airplane on busy schedule would not function for very long lolz..

      In similar vein, railroad cars and trams can be and are often retrofitted/modernized, and passenger carz don’t rust for decades. It’s a decay but not a rapid one, nevertheless the new generations would be “completely happy” staring at their single watt PDAs while nutrition starved. This sucker is going down, but it’s not a holly/bolly wood script of instadoom..

      • Jeremy890 says:

        Worldofhanumanotg, I very familiar, at least, with the airlines. True these can be overhauled, but at a certain age, or cycle, best to park them in the desert out in the Southwest.

        Here is a recent story about the USAF
        “The current US Air Force fleet, whose planes are more than 26 years old on average, is the oldest in USAF history. It won’t keep that title for very long. Many transport aircraft and aerial refueling tankers are more than 40 years old – and under current plans, some may be as many as 70-80 years old before they retire. Since the price for next-generation planes has risen faster than inflation, average aircraft age will climb even if the US military gets every plane it asks for in its future plans. Nor is the USA the only country facing this problem.”

        I think shortonoil either had a typo or just plain error as the age. Regardless, it really does not matter as far as his post is concerned. The point is the more we build or construct for consumption it gets harder and harder to replace.
        I know modern aircraft being built today in no way shape or form will have the lifespan of a old Boeing 727 or MD DC9. Already USAir (now America) is looking to replace some Airbus aircraft it bought under 25 years ago. They are mostly disposable.
        There also was posted on article here on peak concrete, which does not last forever.
        At airports they need to at regular intervals replace sections of the runway/tarmac because of the severe stress planes place on the surface. One of many issues we are staring at in all aspects of our modern infrastructure.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        The current US Air Force fleet, whose planes are more than 26 years old on average, is the oldest in USAF history. It won’t keep that title for very long. Many transport aircraft and aerial refueling tankers are more than 40 years old – and under current plans, some may be as many as 70-80 years old before they retire. Since the price for next-generation planes has risen faster than inflation, average aircraft age will climb even if the US military gets every plane it asks for in its future plans. Nor is the USA the only country facing this problem fleet, whose planes are more than 26 years old on average, is the oldest in USAF history. It won’t keep that title for very long. Many transport aircraft and aerial refueling tankers are more than 40 years old – and under current plans, some may be as many as 70-80 years old before they retire. Since the price for next-generation planes has risen faster than inflation, average aircraft age will climb even if the US military gets every plane it asks for in its future plans. Nor is the USA the only country facing this problem

  19. Niels Colding says:

    Gail, you explain in your article:

    “We could, in theory, fix our problems by adding infinite debt at the same time that wages of non-elite workers tend toward zero. We could then use this additional debt to fight pollution problems and pay all of the workers. All of us know that this solution would not work in the real world, however.”

    Money in its origin is a tokenization of energy consumption in some way or the other. (Your diagramme showing almost 100 % correlation between global energy consumption and global GDP is a very good indication of this idea). Debt – as I see it – is therefore in its essence a claim of future NET energy. The amount of global GROS energy may very well rise, but at the same time the rising costs of extraction reduce the actual global NET energy causing a shrinking global economy.

    But I am afraid that a lot of politicians and economists do not see a clear connection between money and energy and will in fact add infinite debt to the system.

    • name says:

      “The amount of global GROS energy may very well rise, but at the same time the rising costs of extraction reduce the actual global NET energy causing a shrinking global economy.”

      If gross energy rises, GDP will also rise, because it’s Gross domestic product. But because net energy is in decline, gross energy will (is) also decline.

    • ANON says:

      Money in its origin is a tokenization of energy consumption in some way or the other.

      Money is a tokenization of promises (of more), more exactly. 🙂
      This matters a lot. You may still have energy, but when the promises of more are disappearing (deflation) or no longer trusted (hyperinflation), the narrative crumbles. It is important to note that money is a psychological phenomenon, which means you cannot add infinite debt without one (or both!) *flations happening at some point, regardless of energy. Of course, tokenization only appears when the energy necessary for the expansion is available, but may last a while even as the narrative crumbles. Or it may not…

      • Niels Colding says:

        ANON and name

        Maybe you know Tim Morgan’s “Perfect Storm”

        Please read the paragraph: ‘the subservient role of money’ in his above mentioned and rather long article.

      • Quite a bit of the benefit of the energy comes after the fact. This is especially the case with capital goods made with energy products. It is necessary to use debt to bring the future value of the capital goods back to those who are building these capital goods. This allows them to pay workers. So in some sense, the payment represents energy that has already been used.

        There is the hope that there will be future energy to replace the already-used energy, but this is speculative. Money is used to represent this as well.

        • Niels Colding says:

          It is important to underline that wages, salaries remunerations of every kind eventually end up in some form of energy consumption. Let’s imagine a person earning 300.000 dollars. He pays 100.000 dollars in direct and indirect taxes which the government will use to build schools, hospitals etc. -> energy consumption!
          He spends 100.000 dollars on buying different items, clothing, sugar, car – you name it. -> energy consumption!
          He must also pay his dentist, his hairdresser, his lawyer – you name it. His money thereby is a part of their income which they spend in exactly the same way as the above mentioned person. -> energy consumption!
          Maybe he wants to deposit some of his money in the bank. This bank willing lends his money to another person, who buys a car, pays his taxes or his hairdresser, lawyer etc. -> energy consumption!
          I would be very surprised if any Finite Worlders could mention just one specific human activity or product which has not its counterpart in energy consumption.
          (Money is a token of energy consumption past, present, future – has always been. But Tim Morgan expresses this point of view much more clearly. Tim Morgan – Perfect Storm – the paragraph ‘the subservient role of money’ absolutely crucial.)

          • ANON says:

            No mention at all of the fundamental role of being a tokenized promise of more in any explanation of money that I’ve read, including this pdf. All kind of bizarre explanations, but none bothering to question why do pieces of paper or coins have this sort of grip over the human mind, and why would someone exchange goods for tokens.
            It is the trust in the promise of having more at a later time (the narrative of expansion) which gives money the power to increase energy consumption, build civilizations, promptly ruin them when the trust is lost.

          • Land, labor and capital all have a strong tie to energy consumption. In some sense, the economists have no need to add energy to their model; their entire model represents different aspects of energy consumption. Human labor is very important, and has its own category.

  20. Steve Jermy says:

    Hi Gale,

    Very interesting insights, but I can’t help but feel that you’re wrong when it comes to Hubbert not seeing the bigger picture. I’ve very recently happened across Mason Inman’s wonderful biography, The Oracle of Oil. And what is fascinating and evidentially unarguable from this is that Hubbert was a whole systems thinker, not just a geologist. Toward the end of his life, he was suggesting that the key problem was not the impending peaks, but rather the mismatch between the two great thinking systems of the world, science and economics. The former he described as a matter:energy culture, the latter as a monetarist culture. His concern, which I share, is that it is the latter that dominates, even though it has little scientific substance, whereas it is from the former where we glean our great forecasting (and political, were we to really listen to them) insights.

    For me, the Hubbert curve – a logistics curve – somehow represents an outer boundary for us, and the question is not whether our fossil fuels output will follow a Hubbert’s curve profile trend in the longer term of decades – to me, it probably will, for all the science that underpins his thinking – but rather what will happen in a shorter term of years and half decades. This is where for me your thinking comes in – it’s a question of HOW, not WHETHER, we will zig-zag down the far side of the peak fossil slope. The HOW will be probably dictated by the cultural and economic drivers that you describe, and by policy, both national and international.

    It won’t be an easy trip, quite the reverse, but an intelligent start would be to better understand what is really going on in our economies, and for this the monetary culture is a poor source of insights. Better, I’m sure, to seek insights in the scientific matter:energy culture, where we can at least be reasonably sure that our measurements can not be tampered with for political reasons, and are based on SSI units agreed internationally and fixed through time, rather than currency units, changing across time and space, and on weak and unsafe measures such as GDP and growth.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      But didn’t Hubbert suggest that increased usage of nuclear power would partially compensate for peak oil?

      • Actually, in his early papers, Hubbert assumed that increased use of nuclear would greatly raise the amount of energy available. In one paper, he talks about “reversing combustion”–taking carbon dioxide and oxygen, and making liquid fuels out of them using the extraordinary cheap and abundant nuclear energy. His later papers relabeled this miraculous energy source solar. I think it was wishful thinking–really, not wanting to face up to the fact that the end of fossil fuels may well be the end of most or all humans.

  21. name says:

    China April coal production down 11% year over year, and that’s after April 2015 was down 7.4%, so the base was low:
    USA coal production in recent months is down about 30% yoy.
    It could be that we have entered self reinforcing downward spiral in global civilization energy consumpion rate.

    • Wow! Those are big reductions. Coal is our cheap energy source. It is very hard to make the world operate on more expensive types of energy

      • Fast Eddy says:

        What we need to have happen is to build more solar panels…. then coal production would increase accordingly because as those of us in RealitySTAN know….

        Solar panels don’t grow on trees — they are made using huge amounts of electricity produced by burning lignite….

        Don Draper has really earned his pay with this campaign … he’s made people believe that shiny solar panels are ‘green’ … represent ‘renewable energy’ — when in fact they are absolutely neither.

        It’s as if he convinced most of the world that a circle is actually a square….

        Bravo Don! Bravo!!!

        And for an encore… we have what is known as a Tesla…. a couple of tonnes of metal and plastic and battery packs… referred to as an environmentally friendly vehicle…

        Perception is based on illusions and myths… PR and Ad Men are professional myth-makers…

        • A couple of interesting lines from the article:

          The parent will accelerate the pace of building production lines using copper, indium, gallium and selenide or gallium arsenide, it said.

          Sounds like wonderful stuff. I wonder how good pollution control will be.

          Earlier this year, Hanergy Thin Film reported its first annual loss since 2009 as revenue plunged and auditors expressed doubts about its ability to stay in business.

          Auditors expressing lack of confidence in ability to stay in business doesn’t sound good.

          • Stefeun says:

            These companies seem non viable without state subsidies.
            By the way, Abengoa obtained a 7 months grace (, but then what happens in Oct-Nov.2016?
            A few months more waiting for don’t-know-what, or everybody (of the steering team, that is) runs away with the cash they could loot? Can kicking, nothing more.
            Oh yes, (tens of) thousands workers laid off, with poor perspective of new employment, and poor help from government.

            • Somehow, there have been an awfully lot of extensions in many places, such as Greece. When failure seems just too awful, somehow governments seem to be able to look the other way, and lenders allow debtors some more time to repay. It can’t go on forever. Banks and pension plans can’t handle this; neither can insurance companies.

  22. Tom S says:

    Should I post some cool charts & graphs in hopes that you’ll forget the wrong predictions I made 1-2 years ago?

  23. Tom S says:

    I love a lot of Gail’s posts and this website but she’s been very wrong about a lot of things. The price of oil will go up, it will go down, supply will dwindle, supply is overloaded, etc.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Tom – you should start your own blog ….. then you could post your words of wisdom there 🙂

      • Tom S says:

        It’s wonderful being on both sides of every issue. Then you can claim you’re always right and a bunch of know-it-all bloggers will think you’re unfathomable. Sorry to burst your bubble. Wasn’t a gallon of gas supposed to be unaffordable by now, according to many posts published on this blog?

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I dunno — if you are going to make an assertion you best dig out the quote that supports it…. otherwise we assume you are just spewing out more diarrhea ….

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I am a nihilist …. and a die-hard atheist….

            I spit on liberals and conservatives…i have ZERO respect for the intellectual positions of both … I consider them to be village idiots from two parts of DelusiSTAN.

            And yes.. I wake up every morning looking forward to belittling them. It’s my hobby 🙂

        • Tango Oscar says:

          Oh so because the world economy is collapsing and demand for oil has plummeted that suddenly means we have a limitless supply of oil and the shale revolution is real. LOL!

  24. adonis says:

    but every time i read gails posts its like having some truth serum injected in me causing me to realise the path we are on is heading towards a great upheaval where most of the world will not survive,,,,

  25. adonis says:

    ill buy into that tom what a rosy future, i feel better already

  26. Tom S says:

    Response to Gail’s reply from a couple days ago. I believe we’ll hit a time, possibly 20 years from now, where lower and middle class can;t afford shortening supply of oil, but wealthy will still be flying and driving. Gail thinks that demand of oil will drop because of workers unable to get jobs that pay enough to pay their bills. My response:
    Gail – I think there are some holes in your theory. I believe we’ll see at least 20 years of lower & middle class people not able to afford autos but upper class still driving with cars on gas or diesel.The roads, refineries, oil wells and gas stations are all built and paid for. The extraction is only cost that increases. That’s only 1/4 of the supply and usage chain (extraction, refinery, retail delivery, usage). 3/4 are in place and paid for. With lower usage the parts of chain will need lower maintenance. Higher cost of gas pays lower maintenance costs. If auto usage decreases, public transportation increases, providing upkeep of the roads, etc. 1) If lower class people cannot afford gas for their car, they don’t need car, insurance and gas and save a lot of money by using public transportation or shifting habits to live closer to work. Because this is a huge voting block, public transportation costs will stay low. A recent study showed that 63% live close enough to work to ride a bicycle. Less obese people? 2) As things run in short supply the price goes up. Once a huge amount of people stop buying it, most retail delivery centers close but enough remain open to supply the wealthy and industrial needs and semi-trucks. 3) You said “the economy will collapse”. How will the economy collapse? Our economy collapsed a long time ago and now we’re just printing paper and using crony barter system. The minute our national debt went over 3 Trillion we lost our ‘real’ economy (gold backed currency?). 4) People will adjust their buying habits, many of our manufacturing jobs will come back because importing will be too expensive. Manufacturing powered by coal, higher priced oil, etc. 5) Things will look like 1910s – 1920s for most people but with computer technology (powered by solar or wind, etc.) and advanced medical technology. I ACTUALLY THINK THAT THE WORLD RUNNING SHORT ON OIL WILL SOLVE A LOT OF POLITICAL, POPULATION, POLLUTION, and HEALTH PROBLEMS. KIND OF LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. The public at large will be the first to have to stop using petro fuels. Our corporate, agricultural and military will hoard remaining oil supply for at least 100 years while John Q Public adjusts to trains, horses, buses, bicycle and good ole walking shoes. The first planes were only available to the rich. The last cars will only be available to the rich. If there’s a market, petro fuels will still be available but at $25, $50, $75+ per gallon. The upper middle class and rich will pay price, and there are enough of them to have a market for. Plus buses and semi trucks will be running on diesel, sharing delivery systems with them.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Please do us a favour and read the past two years of FW posts before you comment.

      You are so behind the curve you can’t even imagine there is a curve.

      • Tom S says:

        Sorry but you must be one of those people that never thinks they’re wrong and tries to block anyone else from having an opinion. I hate to say it but I’ve been reading this blog for awhile and most of your opinions have proven to be false. You must realize that our huge government, massive regulations, horrible trade policies and allowing illegals to come take our jobs is killing the middle class and causing havoc in our country. And the banks & corporations getting bigger? Thank Dodd Frank & the Democrats. The worst income inequality? Under Obama. And yet the price of a gallon of gas is still very cheap and everyone except the homeless can afford it right now.
        Look back over your posts from 1-2 years ago and they contradict everything happening now.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          You are half right….

          I don’t like opinions…. I prefer arguments…. arguments are fact-based… opinions are what you get from drunken idiots in bars ….

          I will listen to an argument …. and I will change my mind if the facts dictate I should….

          However the urge to ridicule becomes uncontrollable when I read opinions…. particularly when facts are posted exploding those opinions… and the person refuses to acknowledge they are completely wrong…

          Often such people do not even realize they are being ridiculed….

        • Artleads says:

          So it’s Obama’s fault! Thanks to the Republican Congress’s determination to block him, Obama (and I’m no great fan of his) would not have been able to pass motherhood even if he tried.

          • Tom S says:

            What determination? The democrats and RINOs passed EVERY budget item they wanted, including this year with Paul Ryan’s help. Please name one thing that Republicans blocked. Just one.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Is this what have stooped to — a discussion of politics….

              Shall I post the latest justin bieber quote? I wonder what paris hilton is up to this weekend? Gail – would you mind to write an article extolling the virtues of Dancing with Stars re-runs?

              The IQ of this blog is dropping by the minute….

            • My Internet access is rather iffy right now. Very often, I cannot get on at all. No Dancing with the Stars reruns!

            • Tom S says:

              Obamacare, military downsizing, Dodd Frank, 3,900+ new regulations, increased funding for illegals entering country and resettlement, quadrupling H1-B visas, ban on canadian pipeline, etc. etc. etc. Come one man! Please open your eyes.

            • Tom S says:

              Once again Fast Eddy has to insult or belittle on anything that disagrees with him. What a smallminded person you must be. Typical. Much of the posts on this blog list ties to policies, debt, income inequality, etc. Who is responsible for these policies? Politicians. Open your eyes !!

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If I open my eyes any wider they will pop out of my head…


            • We are dealing with a finite world. In the animal kingdom, it is typical for animals such as dogs to mark out territories, and to fight any intruders into these territories. Trade has helped overcome territoriality in humans. At some point, though, the lack of resources again predominates as a problem. Then we get back to territoriality. Using one religion to push out others (whichever one) is a common way of enforcing territoriality. This way, population stays more in line with carrying capacity.

              It is sad, but this is the way it is. It is not particularly the work of politicians–they only do what the people who elect them ask.

            • Artleads says:

              “Obamacare, military downsizing, Dodd Frank, 3,900+ new regulations, increased funding for illegals entering country and resettlement, quadrupling H1-B visas, ban on canadian pipeline, etc. etc. etc. Come one man! Please open your eyes.”

              OK. I don’t know much, and don’t see the point of discussing Dodd Frank and your 3,900+ regulations. So I’ll pass on those subjects.

              But let me point out seeming inconsistencies in your position.

              “Illegal” immigrants: The position of D. Trump is to build a southern wall to keep out Mexicans. I gather that it’s Mexicans who mostly concern us here. I assume that you share the Trump position of concern or alarm at the growing Mexican presence here?

              Abortion: Mexican immigrants are reproducing at a faster rate than most other groups. They tend to be Catholic and oppose abortion. Meanwhile, it is their high numbers that will determine their ascendency in power over time. I wouldn’t have thought that YOU would be comfortable with this growth in numbers and therefore power, but you might be.

              So is there an inconsistency in these two positions–alarm over Mexican immigration and opposition to abortion–or am I missing something?

              As to the Canadian Pipeline: This blog seems to be making the point that petroleum products are harder to find these days, and (at least for economic reasons) will soon enough come to an end. The best argument I hear for continuing to pursue oil through pipelines like XL is to keep the unsustainable economic system (built on oil) to keep going for as long as possible before the inevitable deluge leading to human extinction when oil and economic collapse arrive in full glory. Is that why you want the KL pipeline built? (I’m quite sure you don’t believe that oil extraction has any bearing on warming weather, so I won’t even go there.)

          • Artleads says:

            “Using one religion to push out others (whichever one) is a common way of enforcing territoriality. This way, population stays more in line with carrying capacity.

            It is sad, but this is the way it is. It is not particularly the work of politicians–they only do what the people want.”

            Continuing like this would most likely go in tandem with a nuclear-caused global extermination event. So those old, presumably hard wired, ways of existing won’t work anymore. The old ways were based on not knowing or having a sense of global interconnection. Although TPTB promote normalcy bias along the old order, it’s not too hard to see the hopeless inadequacy of that order.

  27. Fast Eddy (MYTH DESTROYER) says:

    This is one of the most brilliant insights ever written….

    The most important things in the world exist only in our imagination

    How did Homo sapiens came to dominate the planet? The secret was a very peculiar characteristic of our unique Sapiens language. Our language, alone of all the animals, enables us to talk about things that do not exist at all. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death, in monkey heaven. Only Sapiens can believe such fictions. But why is it important? After all, fiction can be dangerously misleading or distracting. People who go to the forest looking for fairies and unicorns would seem to have less chance of survival than people who go looking for mushrooms and deer.

    Fiction is nevertheless of immense importance, because it enabled us to imagine things collectively. We can weave common myths such as the biblical creation story, the Dreamtime myths of Aboriginal Australians, and the nationalist myths of modern states. And it is these myths that enable Sapiens alone to cooperate flexibly with thousands and even millions of complete strangers.

    True, ants and bees can also work together in huge numbers, but they do so in a very rigid manner and only with close relatives. Wolves and chimpanzees cooperate far more flexibly than ants, but they can do so only with small numbers of individuals whom they know intimately. If you tried to bunch together thousands of chimpanzees into Wembley Stadium, Oxford Street, St Paul’s Cathedral or the House of Commons, the result would be pandemonium. Sapiens, in contrast, gather there by the thousands and together they organize and reorganize trade networks, mass celebrations, and political institutions. That’s why we rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

    At the heart of our mass cooperation networks, you will always find fictional stories that exist only in people’s collective imagination. Two Catholics who have never met can nevertheless go together on crusade or pool funds to build a hospital because they both believe that God was incarnated in human flesh and allowed himself to be crucified to redeem our sins. Two Serbs who have never met might risk their lives to save one-another because both believe in the existence of the Serbian nation, the Serbian homeland, and the Serbian flag. Two lawyers who have never met can nevertheless combine efforts to defend a complete stranger because they all believe in the existence of laws, justice, human rights—and the money paid out in fees.

    Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods, no nations, no money and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.

    Let’s leave gods and nations aside for a moment, and focus our attention on the economic sphere. The most important players in our modern economy are business companies. What are they exactly? Take Peugeot, for example. Peugeot is one of the oldest and largest of Europe’s carmakers. It was founded by a man called Armand Peugeot, back in 1896. Armand Peugeot died in 1915. But Peugeot, the company, is still alive and well. Today it employs about 200,000 people worldwide, most of whom are complete strangers to each other. These strangers cooperate so effectively that in 2008 Peugeot produced more than 1.5 million automobiles, earning revenues of about 55 billion euros.

    In what sense can we say that Peugeot exists? There are many Peugeot vehicles, but these are obviously not the company. Even if every Peugeot vehicle in the world were simultaneously junked and sold for scrap metal, Peugeot would not disappear. It would continue to manufacture new cars and issue its annual report. The company owns factories, machinery and showrooms, and employs mechanics, accountants, managers and secretaries, but all these together do not comprise Peugeot. A disaster might kill every single one of Peugeot’s employees, and go on to destroy all of its assembly lines and executive offices. Even then, the company could borrow money, hire new employees, build new factories and buy new machinery. Peugeot has managers and stockholders, but neither do they constitute the company. All the managers could be dismissed and all its shares sold, but the company itself would remain intact.

    Peugeot is impervious to all these upheavals, because Peugeot is a fictional story. It belongs to a particular genre of legal fictions called ‘limited liability companies’. The idea behind such companies is among humanity’s most ingenious inventions. During most of recorded history property could be owned only by flesh-and-blood humans. If in thirteenth-century France Jean set up a wagon-manufacturing workshop, he himself was the business. If Jean had borrowed 1,000 gold coins to set up his workshop and the business failed, he would have had to repay the loan by selling his house, his cow, his land. He might even have had to sell his children into servitude. If he couldn’t cover the debt, he could be thrown in prison or enslaved by his creditors. Jean was fully liable, without limit, for all obligations incurred by his workshop.

    If you had lived back then, you would probably have thought twice before you opened an enterprise of your own. And indeed this legal situation discouraged entrepreneurship.

    This is why people began collectively to imagine the existence of limited liability companies. Such companies were legally independent of the people who founded them, invested in them, or managed them. Over the last few centuries such companies have become the main players in the economic arena, and we have grown so used to them that we forget they exist only in our imagination.

    How exactly did Armand Peugeot, the man, create Peugeot, the company, back in 1896? In much the same way that priests and sorcerers have created gods and demons throughout history and in which thousands of French priests were still creating Christ’s body every Sunday in the parish churches. It all revolved around telling stories, and convincing people to believe them. In the case of the French priests, the crucial story was that of Christ’s life and death as told by the Catholic Church. According to this story, if a Catholic priest dressed in his sacred garments solemnly said the right words at the right moment, mundane bread and wine turned into God’s flesh and blood. The priest exclaimed “Hoc est corpus meum!” (Latin for “This is my body!”) and hocus pocus—the bread turned into Christ’s flesh. Seeing that the priest had observed all the right procedures, millions of devout French Catholics behaved as if God really existed in the consecrated bread and wine.

    In the case of Peugeot the crucial story was the French legal code. According to that story, if a certified lawyer followed all the proper liturgy and rituals, wrote all the required spells and oaths on a wonderfully decorated piece of paper, and affixed his ornate signature to the bottom of the document, then hocus pocus—a new company was incorporated. When in 1896 Armand Peugeot wanted to create his company, he paid a lawyer to go through all these sacred procedures. Once the lawyer had performed all the right rituals and pronounced all the necessary spells and oaths, millions of upright French citizens behaved as if Peugeot company really existed.

    The end result is that in contrast to all other animals, we Sapiens are living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and companies. As history unfolded, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as Almighty God, the European Union and Google.

    Excerpt from chapter 2, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

    • Stefeun says:

      Thanks FE,
      but I see two distinct ideas, that I’m not sure shiuld be confused, or mixes together.

      First is the modelization of our reality, second is spreading of the financial risks.

      The former is easy to understand, as we’re living more and more in a man-made world, and thereby away from Nature, we also have to invent the representation codes and rules that go with this “square bubble” (as I use to call our artificial constructions).
      As the author says, this is valid for all social domains, not only the economy. And is getting more complex because it’s the only answer to increasing numbers dealing with finite resources.

      And by the way we forget that “solving” a problem usually contributes to creating many other ones. That’s quite easy because most of the time we’re not held as responsible for the possible damages caused by those new problems, generally ignored.

      That leads to the second concept, that is spreading of the financial risks. In the economical world, we can understand that an investor (in some productive investment) doesn’t want to gamble his lifestyle and family income. That’s why there were implemented this “limited liability” and other insurance systems, of course on top of the interest payments that are supposed to cover the risk of non-payment of a given loan.

      Today, the global finance has applied this “security” to all borrowed money, ie 90% of it, by the way spreading also the risks onto the rest of the structure. Until the point it’s no longer a universal security, but a universal risk, since no-one will be able to pay once the default rate will reach a certain treshold (or a big domino comes to fall).

      Even if this is a virtual representation of the reality, it is necessary to run our complexifying square bubble, and it has roots in harsh reality, because now almost everything is depending on global Ponzi finance, until what the 7.5B of us are eating and drinking (soon to be added: breathing).

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I particularly enjoyed the comment… a monkey would never agree to give you a banana in exchange for a promise that he will be delivered upon death into a paradise of unlimited bananas….

        • xabier says:


          That applies to pension ‘promises’ too: no-one seems to reflect on what a promise from a politician is really likely to amount to in reality…….

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Yep…. if anyone has the option to take a lump sum payment on a pension … I highly recommend doing so…. in effect if you are offered 5 bananas now … or 1 per year for the rest of your life starting in say 10 years… take the 5.

            • merrifield says:

              But then what do you do with it? If you put it in a bank and there are bail-ins, it’s gone. If you put it in the market and it crashes, it’s gone. You could invest in real estate but it might not give you the return you need to live month by month. Under the mattress?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You piss it away of course!

              You spend most of it on wine and women … then you waste the rest.

              There is no point investing in the future — because there is no future.

    • Derek says:

      “St Paul’s Cathedral”

      Well the reality sucks for all of those sent who were abused by the 55+ Catholic priest pedophiles of the St Paul Cathedral in MN and surrounding scum Catholic churches.

      • Tom S says:

        Catholic Charities is #1 provider in the world to poor. Make sure you praise the 99.9% of catholics doing wonderful things for the world. Abortion doctors have ki!!ed over 10 Million babies in the USA alone since 2000. Islam is wiping out millions of innocents as well. Reality sucks for the truly evil and who they come into contact with.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The Catholic Church is rotten to the core…

          Do you have a problem with abortion? Why? Do you eat veal? Do you understand how veal is produced? Do you think a human has more value than a cow? If so why?

          Muslims have killed – of course. Who do you think has killed more innocent people since 1940 – America or Muslims? What’s your take on the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq — and the mass murder of hundreds of thousands?

          You are mired very deeply in the matrix my friend…. your journey to understanding begins here.

        • Artleads says:

          “Abortion doctors have ki!!ed over 10 Million babies in the USA alone since 2000. ”

          And your point is…?

          • the prime problem is overpopulation.

            we have to deal with that or a solution not of our own choosing (highly likely anyway) will be forced upon us.

            The Catholic church insists on breeding more and more catholics, contraception is a sin, abortion is a sin.This seems to permeate much of the US political system too, and elsewhere.

            (Celibate) priests advise only abstention as a means of birth control—but human nature being what it is, ignores that and carries on doing what we are here to do—reproduce until circumstances force us not to.

            Modern contraception is a function of our industrial/economic system. (manufacture of condoms, birth control pills etc etc). The industrial system might crash, and artificial birth control methods become unavailable, but humankind will only cease to have sex when there is no longer collective strength to do so. (basically when starving mothers of reproductive age cease to ovulate–that is the only “natural” birth control method available) That will be the point at which world population begins to control itself

            Until then, new babies will continue to arrive at the rate of 80m a year. and golden oldies like me refuse to die to make room for them. (how selfish is that?)
            It may be the “correct” thing to do, to save every scrap of life in every way that we can, and I can only agree with that. (especially if it’s mine).
            But that thinking has consequences. No point in raising our collective hands in horror at the alternatives—we will face those soon enough anyway.
            Nature does not concern herself with religious beliefs or human conscience.
            Humanity is the bit between natures hammer and the anvil of reality. Choice is itself merely an illusion

            • Ed says:

              Yes, we have beaten the dead horse of find a away to support 7 billion. Time to move on to the solvable issue of how do we manage the decline in numbers to a sustainable level.

              We all starve equally because we are one kumbaha global village or export it to anybody else but us?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              As the author of Sapiens points out…. our lives are based entirely on illusions… myths….

            • Stefeun says:

              “We now have the capability of incredible war; would you like more murder, more famine, more accidents? Well, here we can see the human dilemma—everything we regard as good makes the population problem worse, everything we regard as bad helps solve the problem. There is a dilemma if ever there was one.”


      • Fast Eddy says:

        Catholic churches = dark dens inhabited by child molesting deviants (otherwise known as priests).

        Never trust a priest. In fact if you encounter one of these walking praying freak shows — and you have young children with you — make a show of keeping the kids as far away from the holy man as possible — always good to send a message that you know that he is a deviant…

        And never give money to a church as you are funding diddling.

        If you would like to give to charity — try to find one that doesn’t build monumental temples with a large chunk of the money.

        • Tom S says:

          Liberal progressives = dark dens inhabited by child molesters, baby murderers, and rapists (otherwise known as Bernie and Hillary supporters).
          The catholic church has saved countless Millions of lives. There are bad apples in every large group. I agree that all homos should be barred from the church.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Ancient Pagans

            As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.
            Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.
            Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.
            Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as “temple destroyer.” [DA468]
            Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]
            Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
            According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…”
            In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.
            In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]
            The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.


            Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]
            Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]
            Battle of Belgrad 1456: 80,000 Turks slaughtered. [DO235]
            15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Victims unknown. [DO30]
            16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops “pacified and civilized” Ireland, where only Gaelic “wild Irish”, “unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing.” One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that “the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies… and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie”, which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused “greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde”.
            Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

            Crusades (1095-1291)

            First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]
            Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23]
            9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]
            Until Jan 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]
            after 6/3/98 Antiochia (then turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women & children) killed. [WW32-35]
            Here the Christians “did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy’s] tents—save that they ran their lances through their bellies,” according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]
            Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians” said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]
            Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (jewish, muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]
            (In the words of one witness: “there [in front of Solomon’s temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes”, and after that “happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour’s tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude”)
            The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished.” [TG79]
            Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that “even the following summer in all of palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition”. One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]
            Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. [WW45]
            Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]
            Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

            Note: All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.


            Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]
            Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]
            Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]
            The Albigensians…viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]
            Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (greatest single pre-nazi mass murderer) in 1209. Bezirs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbours and friends) 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]
            Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]
            subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]
            After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183]
            Estimated one million victims (cathar heresy alone), [WW183]
            Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).
            Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada alone allegedly responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]
            John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]
            University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]
            Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.


            from the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.
            in the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV]
            incomplete list of documented cases:
            The Burning of Witches – A Chronicle of the Burning Times

            Religious Wars

            15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain. [DO30]
            1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]
            1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. Thousands were actually slain. [DO31]
            1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]
            17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, “cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals… and then dumped him into the river […but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [… and] dragged what was left … to the gallows of Montfaulcon, ‘to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows’.” [SH191]
            17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. “In a single church fifty women were found beheaded,” reported poet Friedrich Schiller, “and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.” [SH191]
            17th century 30 years’ war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]


            Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.
            In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]
            17. Council of Toledo 694: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]
            The Bishop of Limoges (France) in 1010 had the cities’ Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]
            First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered 1096, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]
            Second Crusade: 1147. Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]
            Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked 1189/90. [DO40]
            Fulda/Germany 1235: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]
            1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]
            1290 in Bohemian (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]
            1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]
            1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]
            1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]
            1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]
            1391 Seville’s Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored “badges of shame” that all jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.
            1492: In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470-476]
            1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43]

            (I feel sick …) this goes on and on, century after century, right into the kilns of Auschwitz.

            Native Peoples

            Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.
            Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants … [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion.” [SH200]
            While Columbus described the Indians as “idolators” and “slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order,” his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as “beasts” because “they eat when they are hungry,” and made love “openly whenever they feel like it.” [SH204-205]
            On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, “making the declarations that are required” – the requerimiento – to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And “nobody objected.” If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

            I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you … and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church … and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.” [SH66]

            Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England … to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, … and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ.” [SH235]
            In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.” [SH109,238]
            On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]
            The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and spanish raids.
            As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69]
            The indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As “they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.” [SH70]
            What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:
            “The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties … They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.” [SH72]
            Or, on another occasion:
            “The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]
            The “island’s population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “the Caribbean’s millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. [SH72-73] “In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.” [SH75]
            “And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitln [Mexico city] was next.” [SH75]
            Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).
            “When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.” [SH95]

            Of course no different were the founders of what today is the US of Amerikkka.

            Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: “Their Warres are farre less bloudy…”, so that there usually was “no great slawter of nether side”. Indeed, “they might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]
            In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown – “being idell … did runne away unto the Indyans,” – to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem).
            “Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: ‘Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe’.” [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community” down. [SH105]
            On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the “Peqout War”. The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England.
            When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge they attacked.
            Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.
            The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished … God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven … Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies”: men, women, children. [SH113-114]

            MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE HERE (I didn’t post all because I would have shut down the entire internet….)

            • Ed says:

              Now the owning class uses words like “market” and “trade” rather than “God” and “sin”. They use the U.S. Federal government army as enforcers just as self serving, brutal and sadistic as ever.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The thing is…

              We are ultimately not really any different than this:


              We are wild beasts — the most dangerous of predators – with the same instincts as other beasts…

              We can put on top hats and tails…. we can attend finishing schools … we can eat with forks and knives… we can try to use police and religion to suppress our base instincts…

              But this is all just veneer …. below the surface of each and every human … EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US…. lurks a vicious violent beast…

              That beast seldom manifests itself because BAU keeps it fed … keeps it content….

              When BAU disappears … and the beast within is hungry… when the beast’s family is starving…. he will emerge tossing the top hat and the refined manners into the fire…

              Stay tuned for this on steroids…


              I might add that I was in the middle of one of these Cairo riots… I have seen the beast emerge from normally law-abiding citizens… it is truly frightening…. kinda of like what would happen if you pissed off that chimp in the dress….

          • Artleads says:

            Over the past 40, starting after my children were born, the human population has doubled. During the very same period,wildlife population has dwindled by half. Are you saying we need to keep adding to the human population while continuing to eliminate wildlife? (The two are related.) If so, what is the moral basis for this assumption?

            • Tom S says:

              Are you saying its okay to murder innocent babies that can’t protect themselves? Seriously? So it’s okay if we start the population control by murdering your children – you must be in agreement with that if you think its okay to murder OTHER PEOPLE’S children. Our society can control population by repeatedly telling people, on radio, TV and the internet, to stop having more than 1 child. Additionally our government can stop giving welfare benefits to mothers. Have a kid = lose the freebies.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have no problem with someone deciding to kill their unborn fetus.

              In the Philippines I ate a baby duck … not my cup of tea but when in Rome … I also ate a live worm out a rotting tree stump in the Amazon…


              What does it matter if someone wants to end the life of a baby? Why do you care? Why should I care?

              Aren’t there already too many people on the earth?

              If I killed a mother rat and her babies — would you be upset? If not – why not?

              Rat, human baby …. what is the difference? There are too many of both…..

              In fact I prefer the rat babies over the humans — rat babies don’t disturb me on airplanes….

            • Artleads says:


              You have not responded to my question. Why do you believe it is OK to murder other species–about 200 go extinct each day–while FORCING women to have children they don’t want and can’t care for?

              The right wing program you espouse has no trouble sending young people to butcher other humans and get butchered themselves in wars. Where is your morality there? You have no trouble killing adults by removing social support programs (like adequate health care, etc.) while mandating against abortion of unformed, unborn fetuses. Those adults have dependents who die in greater numbers when they die. The fetuses have none. So it is the unborn, unformed, un-responsible fetuses that concern you, nobody else?

            • Ed says:

              There is no need to kill. We can use forced sterilization. Is loosing the choice to have a child more or less evil than killing a child through starvation? I would say less evil. Of course this needs to be global. Unilateral reduction only insure the extinction of the local population.

            • Artleads says:

              “There is no need to kill. We can use forced sterilization. Is loosing the choice to have a child more or less evil than killing a child through starvation? I would say less evil. Of course this needs to be global. Unilateral reduction only insure the extinction of the local population.”

              It’s puzzling why men feel it incumbent on them to make these decisions. It should be women’s business. That aside, forced sterilization has been a feature of eugenics and the wish of the powerful to eliminate groups they don’t favor. That aside, a woman might not be in a position today to rear a child, but might (in a better world) wish to do so years hence. Forced sterilization would foreclose that choice.

    • Stefeun says:

      As for what makes the difference between humans and other animals, I don’t think it’s the language.
      Of course ours are more developed, but many other species have forms of proto-languages and capabilities of abstraction (we all have to build up a mental representation of the world we’re living in).

      IMHO the real difference is our ability to use external energy, ie the fire.
      Fire seems to have been mastered not 80k, but 1.8m years ago, by Erectus, ie min. 1.5 million years before Sapiens appeared.

      My opinion is that language is but another tool that allowed us to burn more, to dissipate more energy by duplication of the information, and whose development wouldn’t have been possible without all the advantages the use of fire provided us (head of the list: time to share info and culture).

      Another conclusion is that Sapiens couldn’t have survived without fire. In such case we’re but by-products of combustion.

      • doomphd says:

        There’s more to it than language communication skills. Bees can communicate exact locations of food and potential new hive locations by complex sign language, yet they have not attempted to take over the Earth and live as sustainably as possible, I guess.

        • bandits101 says:

          Imagine a beehive surrounded by a lake of nectar that replishes constantly. Imagine that the bees could control diseases and parasites. Now imagine the bees under those conditions restraining their population growth. Without natural constraints, the bees would indeed “take over the Earth”.

          • doomphd says:

            Sounds like a script for a great horror movie, “The Bees take over the Earth”. Maybe produce it as a metaphor for what humans have done? Seriously, your point is well taken, we had no choice but to behave the way we did.

            In Overshoot (1982) Catton discusses what a thinker like Thomas Jefferson must have thought about where the westward expansion he promoted with the Louisiana Purchase would eventually lead. He must have seen it, and realized he was just kicking the can down the road a bit further.

            • doomphd says:

              Another thought that replays a lot in my head when I read this blog’s comments is the evolutionary tree of the ammonites. They were related to the living Nautilus, only a bit different anatomically. Their number and habitat-spread slowly increased over geologic time, until big ones (with shells the size of truck tires) and smaller ones were in all water habitats, pole to pole. Then suddenly, at the end of the Cretaceous period, they all die off. Their evolutionary tree looks like a sword topped it at the height of ecological dominance. Not one survivor.

            • Not so good!

            • bandits101 says:

              Yes the classic yeast in a Petri dish. They would thrive until they were overwhelmed by their waste products. Pretty similar to a well known mammalian species. Caton’s, prescient brilliant book ( first published 1982) is one of the best of all time. I think my mouth was open and eyes bulging the whole time I read it and I’ve read it a couple of times.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Then imagine the lake of nectar running dry.

          • Stefeun says:

            Your example with the bees may not be the best one, because swarms do have an optimal size (as already evoked here:

            There’s an additional process, called homeostasis, that involves negative feedback loops limiting the increase of the population of bees in our example, or many other parameters that stay stable once a certain value is reached (adult size, blood pressure and composition, etc…).

            That being said, what happens when a swarm becomes too big, is that it splits into 2 swarms, one of them emigrating to new territories. This sounds sufficient to allow unlimited expansionism, so why didn’t the bees take over the planet?
            We don’t know exactly, but I think that part of the answer is in the fact that any entity, such as a bees swarm, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but is the product of a very subtile and complex network of relationships between species and within their environment, established over very long periods of time.
            Looks like the changes have become too fast for the biology to catch up.

            • bandits101 says:

              I think they store honey for a reason, maybe seasonal. With a seemingly unlimited food supply, a myriad of adaptions are possible. Humans are a classic example.

  28. Fast Eddy says:

    The author of Sapiens presents to google … (I have not watched yet as I am still reading the book… the person who recommended that book suggested watching this)

    Yuval Harari: “Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets” | Talks at Google

    • Ed says:

      This guy is naive. I can not vote for the candidate that will create the system I want because none of the candidate represent what I want and the system itself does not offer what I want.

      He rags on about the citizens voting for or against war. Tell me gentle read, did you vote for any of the last 20 wars of the U.S.?

      I am all for the individual as the source of authority. It is the refusal to allow individual freedom by the oppressive majority, by the system, by money, by shrill splinter groups.

      I recommend Daniel Dennet’s book “Freedom Evolves”.

    • Ed says:

      No real biological differences between the king and the peasant? Eddy, do you believe that? I do not. The king is by biology aggressive, low empathy, egotist, high energy level, good memory, good social skills. All of which have strong genetic components.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        The king is made of flesh and blood — the same as you or I. A king is not born to be a king — I would argue that environmental factors are the biggest influence in terms of who becomes a leader (unless of course someone is born to the position)

        In any event I have not watched the video — I suggest you read the book.

    • Ed says:

      It is not how production should be organized that “communism” and “capitalism” disagree about. It is how ownership of resources and production should be allocated. Well both want the people at the top to own and rule one lives in country estates and one lives in government “slums” like Georgetown or Moscow. The difference is the pretext of government for the people or the invisible hand of the market as intrinsically good. The pretext is just advertising the truth is the rich and powerful want to take and keep. Duh.

      • Ed says:

        yes more generally we all want to take and keep. Some of us have some limits on what we are willing to do to take and keep some do not.

      • one wonders, with a kind of hopeless amusement, about who exactly is going to be responsible for such “allocation”

        If memory serves, I think this has been tried before.

    • Ed says:

      Will I trust the government computer to make the “best” medical choice for me? Heck no! The government computer will include the reduced payout of social security due to my early death as a positive. I on the other hand view long life collecting lots of social security as a positive. The own of the computer will have the computer predict what he or she wants it to predict. There is no objective truth from computers. Just as there is no objective truth from newspapers.

    • xabier says:

      Thanks. Worth listening to, if only to provoke thought which is always valuable.

      Unfortunately, he starts off with a definition of Liberalism which is entirely inaccurate and unhistorical. He’s a speculative philosopher not an historian. The idea, for instance, that Liberalism has any connection to assessing the value of a product is utter tripe: human beings have always cast a keen eye on their tools, etc, ever since they started trading them. This has no connection with Liberalism.

      But he is stimulating,and I always feel that someone who has made a big splash should merit some attention if only to see what’s behind all the fuss.

      Takes me back to student days and star professors performing, while one speculated about the pretty girl in the next row….. (you could always mug up on what the prof thought from his books in just a few pages.) 🙂

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I have not watched the video so cannot comment — but the book is one of the most important I have ever read in terms of expanding on my understanding the world.

        • xabier says:

          I’ll certainly be reading it when I can get a remaindered copy: with so much over-production, one of the pleasures of the end of our civilization is being able to hoover up decent books for next-to-nothing, although I’ve heard that publishers now are quickly going to pulp rather than feed the remainders market.

          • Ed says:

            xabier, I love Amazon used books. I can get most anything for $6 and that includes shipping.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I think you get one book free on a trial with audible… I buy credits – 3 for $33… each credit can be redeemed for a book of any price.,.. also… if you don’t like a book and have not completed it… you can return it no questions asked… I probably return more books than I complete… mainly because I don’t think twice about purchasing a book because I know I can return it..,..

  29. guusrs says:

    Hi Gail, thanx for explaining some timing issues for EROEI so clear. It’s a past and future energy usage. In my opinion price and energy invested are strongly related. In other words: energy isn’t sustainbale if it ain’t cheaper than energy from non-renewables. We share that thought. And wages too aren’t involved with in academic EROEI studied either, whilst people use wages to buy energy consuming products (houses, cars, food, petrol, gas etc.)

  30. psile says:

    Dark colours on the satellite for NW India & Pakistan show no cloud & high temps, reaching low 50C in next few days

    Pakistan Preparing Mass Graves

  31. A Real Black Person says:

    Good afternoon, everyone. I’m back and I’d like to pick up where I left off.Gail mentions education ,specifically its most prized product, the “elite worker” ,frequently in her recent blog entries but no one has expanded on it recently. I tried to bring it up in her previous blog entry,

    “Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy”

    I made a claim that the purpose of the massive expansion in higher education, since the 1980s , had less to do with creating more elite workers, despite what politicians have said. and more to do with economic stimulus. It doesn’t matter to the elites that most students don’t become elite workers, “the cognitive elite”, or whatever they’re called, what matters is that the money that is spent on higher education is circulating in the economy, inflating the GDP. From an investment point of view, a student loan might be the safest loans out there, because it is generally impossible for students to default. From an investment point of view, a loan given to a student is more productive than one given to someone for a new car because, unless the student’s debt is forgiven or they go live out in the wilderness, there is a guaranteed return.

    In summary, I believe that higher education has become a white collar version of bridges to nowhere. It is a large make-work program designed to keep urban and suburbanized people occupied.

    As I see it, education, is a tool. It can be used for a variety of goals. It can be used to train elite workers to administer our complex society. It can be used as a form of socialization. I happen to think it’s main goal,at this moment, to serve as an artificial growth sector for the economy.What’s everyone’s take? Those who replied to be earlier in the comments section of the previous blog entry, don’t need to repeat themselves here.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      That makes sense. Just another in a series of policies aimed at keeping the debt pile growing … a must if BAU is to continue…

    • bandits101 says:

      I guess it’s a blessing you aren’t a fake black person. My writing comes out black on a white background. I could change it to white on a black background but it would still be black and white.

      What came first? Mass adoption of FF energy use, runaway population growth, mass adoption of all forms of education.

      Seems like the highest per capita FF use, is the domain of the wealthiest nations. That enabled the wealthy countries to “invest” in R&D, especially medicine, engineering, various sciences and war, especially “invest” in war.

      FF’s enabled the less wealthy countries to invest in growing their population but little else. Education is expensive and uses large globs of energy of all types. Suppressing education, especially for women also appears to be religiously motivated, mainly by males of course.

      So my take is, find lots of cheap FF’s, control population growth, find a war to invest in, control ignorant religious fervour, have lots left over for unbiased “education” of all types.

      As education requires a surplus of cheap energy, it along with the vast majority of everything else that requires the extravagant use of FF energy, will go the way of the dodo. That is of course if we have a nice, gentle collapse back to feudalism.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Actually… there has been dramatic population growth in all regions since we harnessed fossil fuels … although Asia is far and away the leader….

        • Asia would seem to include quite diverse areas, including the Middle East.

          Asia’s population is indeed very high. The Chinese rulers realized that rapid population growth could not continue there, and have scaled back growth there.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        I wish I could have a more respectable like yours name but I have to be true to myself.
        I don’t sit in front of the computer with a patch over my left eye and I won’t pretend to.
        I have to be true to myself.

        I’m posting on here anonymously. My handle simply lets people know something about me.

        The themes discussed on this site are almost never discussed by those of my ethnicity. Black people are heavily dependent and invested in BAU, at least here in the Western hemisphere. Like most people, I don’t think they can conceive of surviving without it.

        “. Education is expensive and uses large globs of energy of all types. ”

        You make it sound as if education is energy-intensive. If education was energy-intensive as you make it appear to be with that statememt, it would have been outsourced to a developing country at this point and we , meaning those in the developed countries, would have used something less energy intensive to preoccupy the masses with.
        It’s not that I don’t think mass education does not consume energy, it’s that I don’t think it consumes as much energy as an intact industrial base. If we replaced every school in America with factories, and server farms, our energy consumption would be significantly above what it is now.

        The only real requirement for education is that productivity is high enough that a large number of people don’t have to spend 100% and nearly 100% of their energy obtaining food, clothing, and shelter.
        Education requires “energy” , in the sense that it requires the use of coercion of a subordinate group of people to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other resources for the students and teachers while they are teaching and learning. That “energy” can come from people, other animals, stored energy in the natural environment .

        The actual education, with a few exceptions, is not that energy-intensive but I understand why you may think otherwise. College degrees are priced very similarly despite the differences in resources that different programs require. I don’t think the price of educations, whether it is K-12 education or higher education reflects the amount of energy required to deliver that particular education.

        Lastly, I think war predates everything else in civilization. War is required to secure resources. Civilization is the cumulation of successful campaigns of war.

      • The way education requires cheap forms of energy is not immediately obvious. This first, and biggest, requirement is that the work of farming needs to be changed so it can be done by many fewer workers, so that students and faculty both have time to spend time in schools. Also, the use of fossil fuels to grow crops allows people who might write text books to have time available to do this, and allows publication of these text books. The use of fossil fuels also allows medical care and sanitation, so that people can gather in small areas, without making each other sick, and ending life that way.

        THese uses are not obvious, but they are necessary. Medical care and sanitation have allowed African population to rise a great deal, with or without education.

        • A Real Black Person says:

          I acknowledged your point, in my previous post , that the support systems for education require cheap energy. What I questioned is the actual process of education–teachers teaching and students learning– is that really more energy intensive than anything else in industrialized countries?

          • No, education is not more energy intensive than anything else. It just depends on having the whole rest of the system in place–things like electricity, roads and vehicles. Once the system collapses, we can no longer support having a large number of people being educated.

  32. Ed says:

    “Russia has extended Egypt a $25-billion loan to finance the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said.

    Sisi approved the agreement in a decree on Thursday, saying Moscow will cover 85% of the expenses and his government will provide the remaining 15%.

    Egypt is to repay the loan over a 22-year period, starting in 2029, with a 3% annual interest rate.

    The plant, which is to house four 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactors, will be set up in Dabaa in northern Egypt. It is due to be completed in 2022 and possibly generate power in 2024.”

    Now the only question is where do they dump the waste? KSA is a big dry desert.

  33. interguru says:

    For your bedtime reading:

    Scientists Say Nuclear Fuel Pools Pose Safety, Health Risks

    Ninety-six aboveground, aquamarine pools around the country that hold the nuclear industry’s spent reactor fuel may not be as safe as U.S. regulators and the nuclear industry have publicly asserted, a study released May 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned. Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy.

    • Veggie says:

      If that doesn’t lull you to sleep like a cozy bedtime story…I don’t know what can 🙂

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Ninety-six aboveground, aquamarine pools around the country that hold the nuclear industry’s spent reactor fuel may not be as safe as U.S. regulators and the nuclear industry have publicly asserted, a study released May 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned. Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy.

        I imagine this would be the study:

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

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

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

        4000+ ponds… and ,more importantly no way to stop any of them from spewing radiation for thousands of years… (if only one were to go sideways we could pump BAU water on them indefinitely… controlling the release radiation).

        The cancer is about to be self-eradicated from the planet 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • merrifield says:

          Has anyone gamed out how quickly the radiation would do us in? Assuming all the spent fuel pools and reactors are in meltdown, are we talking weeks, months, years before we all succumb? I realize those closest to the facilities would probably go first, but how about people not near them at all? I know the radiation will spread via wind and water—just trying to get my head around the specifics of how this will kill us all.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I have not found any research on the specifics… in fact I could not even find any research about what would happen if a pond were left off line forever…

            All I could find is info related to a terrorist attack — the assumption with that research is that the pond would be eventually brought under control by the full force of BAU…. so even that is not a worst case scenario … worst case is the water boils off and radiation spews for decades if not centuries…

            Nor is there any research indicating what would happen if 4000+ ponds were involved…

            The obvious reason is that this is unthinkable … a terrorist attack on one pond is possible … but the end of BAU is not even considered.

            Of course the central bankers and their minions at the top would know that BAU ends when oil stops flowing … so they would have most definitely commissioned a report on what happens to the spent fuel ponds….

            I suspect that is one reason why there appears to be no Plan B — the only plan is to do absolutely anything to keep BAU going for as long as possible.

            There are no private jets standing by to fly the big boys to remote locations in the southern hemisphere… because they know that when 4000+ ponds begin to boil…. the planet is toast

            Perhaps they have gold-plated pistols with gold tipped bullets made in Macau ready…


  34. Veggie says:

    This author applies his logic to determine an estimated time for the relentless decline in production.
    He offers various preliminary scenarios and then applies his own argument to arrive at his conclusion at the end of the article. My only concern with all of the scenarios is that he uses C+C (crude plus condensate) as the value for produced oil.
    I would argue that the condensate should be removed (or at least 60% removed) leaving a more realistic picture of where OIL starts to take a nosedive.
    With condensate removed it would seem the peak is upon us and the downward slide would start at approx. years 2020 – 2022.

  35. adonis says:

    and dont forget the spent fuel rods once the oils gone and cooling systems have failed, the only chance one has is location to minimise the effects of radiation new zealand or australia

    • doomphd says:

      sounds like the script for the movie “On The Beach”

      • doomphd says:

        Gail, I think you’ve nailed the mechanism of our demise, but timing is an issue. How much longer have we got of pretending everything is fine? I know this question is hard to answer, but can we at least put some boundaries on it? Next year, a few years, a few decades? Probably worth a whole post to discuss.

        • Creedon says:

          Every person that tries to predict is open to question. I heard George Ure the other night say that we couldn’t kick the can down the road past 2018. Gail has said that it can’t last but a couple of years. B.W. Hill shows numbers that are almost impossible to overcome by the early 2020s and possibly before. John Michael Greer speaks of the collapse happening more slowly during this century. At the Peak oil Barrel they would also speak of a slower collapse happening in future decades. I have been watching and trying to sort out who is more accurate. Right now I don’t think anyone can say definitively that we are going to have a price spike as oil goes off line or if they are going to continue to over produce as the world economy weakens. If the debt system that keeps the developed world operating collapsed we would be in trouble, but they like us are probably more resourceful than we give them credit for on this blog site.

          • psile says:

            Just hope and pray it’s delayed past your used by date…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We are seeing double digit plunges in earnings from a wide range of companies… that indicates a deflationary death spiral…

              The thing is…

              Deflationary death spirals accelerate exponentially … so they can very quickly — if unchecked — lead to complete collapse… it will be interesting to see if the central banks can push back against the weight of collapse that is building over the next few months…

              If not … it’s boiled rat for Christmas.

          • merrifield says:

            The most vocal climate change scientists say we won’t here after 2030.

            • merrifield says:

              Also, as long as we’re speculating about the cause of our demise, let’s add a CME (coronal mass ejection). Apparently the magnetic shield around our planet is weakening 10 times faster than normal, which would allow some type of solar windstorm to fry our grid. I know this is common knowledge in these circles, but the website is a treasure trove of knowledge about solar activity and the interesting (and still controversial) link between solar activity and earthquakes. The website gives daily short video presentations about the state of our star—I’ve learned so much in my daily visits there. . .

          • Stilgar Wilcox says:

            “…more resourceful than we give them credit for on this blog site.”

            That’s my view of it too, Creedon. I think financiers are very good at crunching and moving numbers around to do what is necessary to avoid all out calamity. In a sense we’ve already seen quite a bit of fancy fiscal follies in various desperate forms.

            My thought on it is we are good at fooling ourselves, but we cannot fool mother nature.

            So as our debt and other financial systems continue to adjust to match declining net energy, industrial activities will continue to spew pollution. But, when shtf environmentally there won’t be any way to schmooze it away.

            • doomphd says:

              Thanks Creedon, psile, merrifield, stilgar. As part of my “job” or vocation, i order various high-tech parts. so far, the only early signs i see of things becoming amiss is the delay in establishing orders. no one has stock, so everything is made to order. i’m wondering if the delay is because the sales dept. has to check if engineering still has the skilled staff and stock to produce. i’m still getting what i order, it’s just taking a lot longer to get it organized. also, here the few engineers left are very busy because most of their support staff has been laid off/retired.

            • Interguru says:

              Stein’s Law: ” Things that can’t go on forever eventually stop”
              Two lemmas ( mine — Interguru’s Lemmas )
              1) They go on a lot longer than you think they can.
              2) They stop suddenly without warning. Even those who see it coming have no idea when.


            • Fast Eddy says:

              It is useful to repost this comment from time to time.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If NZ were the answer then surely there would be a noticeable influx of powerful people setting up shop here… the most suitable area would be the north part of the south island — low population — massive forests — loads of game — loads of farmland — plenty of fresh water — abundant seafood… moderate climate….

        I am not run across Bernanke or Soros or Kissinger …

        4000+ ponds = tens of millions of nuclear bombs exploding in terms of radiation release … I can’t imagine there is any hiding from that…. maybe Elon Musk will fly to Mars?

        • doomphd says:

          Ah, but you got James Cameron of movie fame moved down there, doing something similar to you, FE. I believe he chose the North Island to set up his farm/ranch. Out here, in the dry, parched, overpopulated isles de sandwich, we have Larry Ellison buying the entire island of Lanai, one of the dry, brown, parched islands with low population, but with about 90+% of its arable land ruined by the factory farming of pineapple for decades. Good for a few humans and their goats, I guess.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            A handful of people doing what I am doing (but on a far larger scale) doesn’t count as an influx…

  36. psile says:

    Wet Bulb Near 35 C — Heatwave Mass Casualties Strike India Amidst Never-Before-Seen High Temperatures

    Never-before-seen high temperatures and high humidity are resulting in thousands of heat injuries and hundreds of heat deaths across India. In some places, wet bulb readings appear to be approaching 35 C — a level of latent heat never endured by humans before fossil fuel burning forced global temperatures to rapidly warm. A reading widely-recognized as the limit of human physical endurance and one whose more frequent excession would commit the human race to enduring an increasing number of episodes of killing heat…

    We are on the threshold of seeing this deadly temperature level breached for the first time since humans evolved. And it’s only 2016….

    • Veggie says:

      Nice find !
      A significant report from south Asia indeed,

      • Veggie says:

        … Standard human response will be to stock the shelves with 3.473 million window mount air conditioners and tax the Indian grid even more. :-O

    • Tango Oscar says:

      “a level of latent heat never endured by humans before fossil fuel burning forced global temperatures to rapidly warm.”

      This part is blatant bias. How many scientists are completely ignorant to the fact that factory farms produce more greenhouse gases than transportation? ALL of our activities, not just the incessantly demonized burning of fossil fuels, are responsible for the increase in green house gas emissions. I guess it’s just too convenient to blame Shell and Chevron for climate change while ignoring our own dinner plates.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Farming IS THE PROBLEM.

        Just stepped off a long haul flight and listened to a good chunk of

        An absolutely brilliant book (so far) and a MUST read for the likes of Don, Toby Hemmingway, Joel Salatin and others who foolishly believe that organic farming is the way forward — who romanticize the biggest mistake in the history of the world

        As the book explains — and as I have stated on numerous occasions – when we moved from gathering to farming we got on the treadmill to hell which will culminate in the extinction of the species.

        Farming resulted in a population explosion as well as divorcing us completely from the animal world… the natural progression was to keep kicking the can as the population of sapiens exploded … it was the beginning of the desire and necessity for ‘more’ … it directly lead to the exploitation of finite resources… to the environmental disasters that we have created … it lead to the need for ‘evil bankers’ … ‘unethical corporations’ — essentially everything we complain about now — is the result of farming.

        That said — as the book explains — hunter gatherers were destroying the planet as well — they wiped out enormous numbers of species…

        It is not stated in the book but one wonders if one of the main reasons we started to farm was because we had killed so much of the edible wildlife that we had no choice… kick the can by sticking seeds in the ground or end up starving and extinct…

        Since our ‘cognizant revolution’ we have NEVER lived in a sustainable manner. We have pillaged and destroyed the planet.

        The only real logical position with regards to sapiens is to hope for our extinction.

        If only we had not discovered farming we could have died off long before we invented spent fuel ponds … and we’d have disappeared with barely a whimper.

        • Tango Oscar says:

          I agree with a lot of that. If you look at extinction rates, it does indeed appear as if the ball got rolling around 10,000 years ago when we got the brilliant idea to start agriculture. As a direct result of that, we slowly but surely began exploring other activities.

          I don’t necessarily know if I agree that certain cultures or groups of people did not live in harmony with nature. I always thought that the Native Americans were in balance but perhaps I’m just ignorant. My views of them were mostly formed from history books and bad movies; perhaps this an area that would worth exploring.

          The population explosion, depending on how you want to define it, appears to have really gotten out of control with the discovery of refined oil. Then it very rapidly climbs by billions of people. They appear extremely correlated in fact and freed up another large portion of the population to leave the farms for the factories.

          There is no way forward with this many people; a mass die-off is imminent. In our current state of ethical evolution and comprehension of our biosphere’s limitations, humans are incapable of responsibly utilizing our technology. We literally did this to ourselves but I do not believe that things necessarily had to be this way. We could have chose a different path however then the topic begins to stray into philosophy, personal beliefs, and a level of ethics and self-preservation of the race that most people don’t comprehend. For example, if the best choice for the survival of the human race at this point involves killing off 7 billion people, how are we going to go about doing that?

          • Derek says:

            “For example, if the best choice for the survival of the human race at this point involves killing off 7 billion people, how are we going to go about doing that?”

            Run out of oil.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              That’s probably not the best choice but it is the one that will happen anyhow. We would preserve more resources and species if we just removed most humans from the planet right now rather than waiting for however many more months/years we have left.

            • Actually, financial collapse so that we cannot afford any kind of energy product–coal, natural gas, oil, electricity.

            • our problem is a combination of industrialisation and people

              they are part of an inseparable mix

              industrialisation enabled us to pull off the neat trick of converting oil directly into food, so behaving as all species must behave—we had no choice in that—we ate and reproduced ourselves as fast as possible in the name of growth and progress.
              So now 1lb babies survive as of right—and people live to old age as of right. We ignore the cost of the infrastructure that makes this possible, particularly if it’s your child or grandma.
              we are being kept alive by machines, and machines require energy input

              Only today in the UK, a report is out stating that all hospitals will run in deficit this year, ie–the system that sustains us is now officially unsustainable—the alternative is that the taxpayer finds yet more money. This will go on until the healthcare system consumes 100% of GDP

              But it doesn’t matter if it’s tractors, incubators or defibrillators—machines allow 7 billion of us to live.

              It follows then that when the machines stop running, most of that 7 billion will cease to be

            • Fast Eddy (MYTH DESTROYER) says:

              New Zealand has public health care. But it is rationed.

              I needed an MRI on a shoulder injury and was told I had to wait 4 months …. I have private insurance but still it was a long wait (I eventually did the MRI in Hong Kong as there was no wait there – I was told I needed surgery but I dealt with the issue successfully with physio – not sure how long the surgery list would have been)

              I understand that if one needs surgery on a non-life threatening injury that if you are elderly you go to the very bottom of the list…. So for example you have a bum hip and need a replacement and you are 70+ …. it is highly unlikely you will ever get the new hip… (death panels are kinda here already)

              As we circle the drain more quickly I would expect that waiting lists grow as healthcare is rationed (budgets will be reduced) … only the most dire cases involving younger people will be dealt with expediently …. then of course when BAU finally crumbles… there will be no healthcare whatsoever.

              Just another of the many things we take for granted having always lived with a functioning BAU

        • Stefeun says:

          Thanks for good link, FE,
          but, once again, not a word about private property?

          IMHO the settlement of universal and undisputable ownership of matter (then capital) was the best tool ever, to speed up the destruction process we’re in.

          Besides, one remark about Toby Hemenway, who stated a strong difference between agriculture and permaculture/horticulture:
          ” Permaculture, in its promotion of horticultural ideals over those of agriculture, may offer a road back to sustainability. Horticulture has structural constraints against large population, hoarding of surplus, and centralized command and control structures. Agriculture inevitably leads to all of those.”
          He wrote this in Dec.2012 here on OFW:

          NB: in his essay Toby often refers to Jason Godesky; I take advantage to remind his “30 Theses”:

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The book addresses the issue of private property ….

            Hemingway appears not to accept reality…. the first farmers like all farmers — did whatever they could to be able to grow more food (including fighting for more land) — more food leads to increases in population — which requires more food.

            It is the nature of the beast — does he believe we can change that?

            I do not.

            If we examine human behaviour back to hunters and gatherers they were constantly warring over territory…. i.e. food resources…

            Even if a tribe were lead by Toby who somehow convinced its members to maintain a static population … another tribe would grow in number then overwhelm the tribe that tried to live in a steady state… killing,/raping/enslaving them…..

            Grow or die.

        • DJ says:

          You sound like Ted K.
          Or maybe Douglas Adams.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Nah… the problem with those guys is that they believe that industrialization is the problem …

            My position is that humans are the problem — we are a cancer on the planet.

            Fortunately we have set the table with spent fuel ponds and we are about to self-administer a massive dose of radiation that will kill us off.

            Unfortunately the dose is likely to kill the planet as well though

        • Vince the Prince says:

          I disagree that FARMING is the problem…there are a HOST of problems! To cherry pick one and claim that is it is being foolish. The single greatest medical breaktrough was simple cleaniness and overall hygiene..and we can go on and on about “problems”.
          Humans seem to be able to fornicate without restraint… Another problem
          Humans are able to store knowledge outside of there brains, enabling it to be coast down cumulatively from generation to generation…according to Fast Eddy that is a problem.
          As shortonoil commented recently we humans were able to contruct a highly complex, energy intensive society we are I’ll equipped to manage/maintain because of one trait nature failed to incorporate in our genome in the general population… Restraint….
          Those that recognized such were weeded out, such as, Scott Nearing.
          Even Fast Eddy wrote that these will be ignored, laughed at or criticized and the mad orgy would continue.
          Sorry, Eddy, farming is NOT the problem…runs much deeper than that.
          It is not the latter gut the inner that is your problem

          • Farming is certainly a major problem. The original problem was changing our very physical nature to require the supplemental use of energy, so that we could cook our food. This allowed us to have smaller chewing teeth and jaws, smaller digestive apparatus, and because of this, larger brains. We killed off whole species, even as hunter-gatherers. So agriculture was not the original thing that went wrong, but it certainly helped it along greatly.

            • MM says:

              Needs to be shown that farming increased our brain size significantly. I bet it is too short a time to have an impact. We were cooking food maybe 80.000 years before framing. That makes an impact on our genome. Using fossil fuels for 150 years is not enough to have any impact on our genetic condition. Obviously we have a means to store information for the beings after we die but the genetic threadmill is too slow. I bet there is a bug in the genetic system. It is called grow as fast as you can and eat up everything that you can hunt and digest. Unfortunately if it weren’t there, the planet would only be a soup of minor creatures. That also applies to free will and a lot of other things. I think nature simply does not care at all about consequences in the first place. Check out the great oxygen cataastrophe of the cyano bacteria. No one cares. So why should we care? Our ego tells us that it is a bad thing to die off. Let your ego go and go with the flow.

            • Vince the Prince says:

              Farming is not the problem, the way we farm is a problem and that is why Bill Mollison and Toby Hemenway developed the concept of “Permaculture”, change the manner of agricature, change society at large. As I pointed out the inner self is where the disorder originates and manifests itself to the outter world….war/conflict is a prime example with our concept of nation states, military organizations, nuclear weapons.
              As Fast Eddy stated those that point these out are largely ignored, laughed at, ineffective or done away with, such as Scott Nearing among many others.
              Up to now, as Jidda Krishnamurti, spoke of for many decades, humans are pretty much as they were walking the Savanna in Africa eons in the past, psychologically speaking.
              Conditioning or mind programming is one stumbling block that hinders breakthrough

              “You know, if we understand one question rightly, all questions are answered. But we don’t know how to ask the right question. To ask the right question demands a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity. Here is a question, a fundamental question: is life a torture? It is, as it is; and man has lived in this torture centuries upon centuries, from ancient history to the present day, in agony, in despair, in sorrow; and he doesn’t find a way out of it. Therefore he invents gods, churches, all the rituals, and all that nonsense, or he escapes in different ways. What we are trying to do, during all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind, not accept things as they are, nor revolt against them. Revolt doesn’t answer a thing. You must understand it, go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind, with everything that you have, to find out a way of living differently. That depends on you, and not on someone else, because in this there is no teacher, no pupil; there is no leader; there is no guru; there is no Master, no Saviour. You yourself are the teacher and the pupil; you are the Master; you are the guru; you are the leader; you are everything. And to understand is to transform what is.

              I think that will be enough, won’t it?”
              ― Jiddu Krishnamurti

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Duh – what do you think the farmers were doing right up until advent of industrial farming techniques?

              Bill Mollinson is not doing anything new — he is not an innovator — he is just doing what the farmers before petro chemicals were doing.

              And as I have pointed out — the reason we moved from organic farming to chemical based farming is because organic farming produced a surplus of food — which resulted in massive population growth — and because organic farming had limits — we began to look for ways to increase our food supply … because if we didn’t there would have been mass starvation (see Thomas Malthus).

              So the organic farmers quickly embraced the green revolution — they happily purchased petroleum based pesticides and fertilizers which allowed them to grow incredible amounts of food… which of course lead us to 7.3 billion mouths to feed.

              If they had not done that you and I would not be here right now. The famine to end all famines would have wiped most people out decades ago.

              When we started to farm we got onto the treadmill to hell.

              If Bill Mollinson and Hemmingway cannot see that then sorry to inform you but they are both fooking idiots.

              Farming >>> increased food supply >>>>> population growth >>>>> the need for even more food >>>> industrial farming >>>>>>>>> 7.3B >>>>>>>> finite petrochemicals >>>>> starvation >>>> extinction.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Sapiens’ blows up the myth of the sustainable hunter gatherer… sapiens wiped out enormous numbers of species as we spread across the world voraciously consuming everything in their paths…

              And contrary to the noble savage myth… early sapiens were extremely violent… we not only fought each other but we genocided other human-like species….

              As you point out … our species has been destructive from the very beginning …. however it was farming (our attempt to live The Good Life) that was the big turning point that lead us to our current predicament.

          • 10k years ago—some bright nomad had the idea of building a wall around a bit of choice territory and calling it MINE.

            He became an instant capitalist.

            but from then on he needed guards to protect it, serfs to work it, priests to pray over it, book keepers to count what came out of it, blacksmiths to make implements, builders to maintain its walls—ad infinitum.
            We all support capitalism

            we have not changed in 10k years, other than in a matter of scale.

            all our ”employment” derives from the basis of what can be produced from the land we live on. And we all demand more.

            If your land fails to live up to expectations, you are faced with a choice:
            A—Downsize to a level that is supportable
            or B— Invade someone else’s territory and steal their resource “Capital”.

            That gives you the basis for all major wars throughout history

            • Fast Eddy (MYTH DESTROYER) says:

              Hallelujah! A voice of reason in a sea of Koombaya…

              I’d like to add that farming was a huge catalyst for innovation …. how do we get more out of an acre with less effort? Of course we forge metal tools… we cut down trees to make charcoal to extract metal from ore… we use trees to heat and form the metals into tools… this eventually leads us to create machines such as tractors …. when that is not enough we invent chemical based fertilizers and pesticides…. and when those innovations cannot keep up to the population growth that is a product of more food…. we react by forming companies like Monsanto which gives us GMO seeds that lead to even larger crops — and even more feeders…..

              Funny how the Koombaya crowd despises corporations —- and idolizes the likes of Scott Nearing…

              Farming in all forms is the root of all ‘evil’ — it was the beginning of the end – it is why we are where were are.

              Please tell me more about how Scott Nearing was a shining beacon in a twisted world… I expect nothing less…. keep perpetuating the myth of Little House on the Prairie… keep demonstrating your inability to deal with facts…. keep that DelusiSTAN passport safe…

              I could do with a really good laugh!!!!

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘Humans seem to be able to fornicate without restraint’

            4 million people in 10,000 BC

            Then we started farming … and the numbers jumped….

            People have always fornicated ceaselessly …. the big difference is that before farming the population was controlled by the amount of food available… farming changed that which meant that more people survived… and on and on…

            Then of course the industrial revolution occurred and we had massive amounts of food — better medicines and so on …. and look at what happened…


            Make no mistake — this all kicked off with farming … if we had remained hunter gatherers we would most definitely not have had a massive population surge ..

            Not that there was ever a choice… our DNA demands innovation that allows the species to survive….and survival means food …. our big brains were given the task of working out how we could produce more food per acre…. and like good humans we took this to the extreme turning oil into food…. and now we are in a situation where we have a gigantic population … and we are about to have no oil to produce food.

            The joke is on Scott Nearing 🙂

            I bet if I told that joke to Toby Hemmingway, Joel Salatin and David Holmgren…. it would be like telling it to Edith Bunker


            • yup—-my other half is ceaselessly insistent on such matters

            • MM says:

              You can see it this way:
              Evolution shows that a species that was a bad idea gets a single chance: evolve to something new or die out. We are currently 6.5 Billion so we have a pretty large gene pool. If the bottleneck comes, there exists quite a chance for evolution. statistically it is better to breed as much as possible for more genetic variation. Even if it includes the devastation of the planet, that makes room for something new.

            • as ive pointed out before—dinosaurs didnt go entirely extinct, they became birds and crocodiles

              problem is that took about 50 m years

        • I know when I was an editor on The Oil Drum, I first ran across someone who was saying that agriculture is basically unsustainable back in 2009, when I ran this guest post by Peter Salonius on The Oil Drum–in fact, it leads to population overshoot. Later, I later read the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David Montgomery that came to the same conclusion, but from a different perspective.

      • In fact, farming may have prevented us from going back into another ice age earlier. Is that good or bad?

        • doomphd says:

          human civilization is a post ice age construct. another ice age would do us all in pronto. maybe a few could eek out a living near the equator, but that’s not a civilization.

        • Tango Oscar says:

          Perspective is everything. In a sense, good and bad (or evil) are human constructs without meaning. People make choices because they believe they are doing the best they can in the circumstances they find themselves in. I don’t believe that an entity purposely chooses to commit malevolent acts for the sheer joy of it, mental illnesses aside. That said, from perspective’s viewpoint, I don’t believe it is either good or bad that I am here. I am simply here.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If you approach this from the perspective of ‘sapiens are a cancer on the planet’ then of course it is unfortunate that another ice age did not extinct us….

          Ideally we would have met our end before we built 4000+ nuclear fuel ponds.

          If one adopts the perspective that ‘humans are admirable and very special forms of life’ then any last minute escape from extinction is a good thing.

          If one takes the latter stance… one has to rationalize the fact that the spent fuel ponds are likely to extinct all life…. cognitive dissonance is useful.

      • psile says:

        We EAT fossil fuels pal…

        • Tango Oscar says:

          That is a gross oversimplification of the problem. Fossil fuels allow us to raise 10 billion animals per year in torturous conditions. Then we have to deal with their waste products causing ocean dead zones through nitrogen runoff which kills fish/plants, and then there’s the methane they fart into the air speeding up global warming, and the massive amounts of potable water used to clean them and feed them, and then all the farming done simply for the sake of keeping them fat so we can eat them, and then the taxing on the medical system’s finite resources because people get obesity/cancer from over-consumption of animal products, and of course all of the equipment used in the various processes involved. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things too.

          The point is, factory farming is an unsustainable abomination to the planet. Simply saying we eat fossil fuels ignores the torture, the inefficiency, and the massive neglect to the planet and our children.

          All of that said, organic “products” and grass fed “nicely raised” animals compounds the problem in a variety of ways. Organic is wastefully inefficient, using more water, more soil, more time, and more money. While some yuppies think that what they’re consuming is better for their health or the planet, and it arguably is on a very SMALL scale, it produces less food. We don’t have enough arable land and good soil as it is, so to intentionally produce less on what we have amounts to neglect.

          Furthermore, animals that are raised organically are an even more gross misuse of scarce resources because they have to eat the organic grains/grass in the first place. This compounds inefficiency. Grass fed cows means less cows raised per acre as opposed to the ones that are pumped full of GMO corn or other grains and put into torturous living arrangements. And then the cows have to live longer in order to even get close to the same size as their modified cousins because they aren’t pumped full of growth hormones and GMO feed. This means even more water use and wasted time. This is literally a NO-WIN situation, no matter how you try and justify your food sources, but especially consumption of animal products.

          To give you an idea of how absurd and unsustainable this situation is, if everyone in America ate organic, grass fed beef, it would require all of America, Mexico, and parts of Canada to be open field grass land. There could be no mountains, no buildings, no people, no bodies of water, NOTHING! Just open fields of pasture and cows. Not happening.

          • Ed says:

            Too many people. If we reduce the population to 70 million (from 7 billion) our grass feed beef will only need the state of Indiana.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              I’m inclined to agree. That said, there would have to be massive, massive fail-safe controls put into to place to keep the population in check or else you’d just end up with the same problems a few hundred years down the road. That is if the climate change ordeal doesn’t end up finishing us off anyhow.

            • Interguru says:

              This sounds like the 1960 science fiction classic A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller. In it, some monks, copying mysterious pre-atomic apocalypse documents realize they are electronic schematics . Man then regains its technical skills and heads for another nuclear disaster.

              The New Yorker has as good discussion of this.

            • guusrs says:

              Yes, too many people, in my opinion we need to go back in time about 1200 years to have a sustainable number of people on this planet: about 250 million, See Note 1200 years ago people in the netherlands started to gain peat on a large scale and made my country one of the richest in the world. This is were our infinite world turned to an finite world (at least for humans)

          • psile says:

            Sounds as if we are in furious agreement…lol. Dieoff central, here we come!

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘factory farming is an unsustainable abomination to the planet’

            If you agree to revise this to ‘farming is an unsustainable abomination to the planet’ — I will agree with you.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              I might concur but I’m not as well-read as you are on the history of farming. It does make sense since that’s about the same time the extinction event got rolling.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You can get up to speed in 18 hours and 15 minutes on farming, hunting and gathering… and various other issues that are relevant to the current predicament we are in….

              One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the Earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism?

              Bold, wide ranging, and provocative, Sapiens integrates history and science to challenge everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our heritage…and our future.


          • always best to simplify where possible—we eat fossil fuels.

            doesnt matter how you dress it up—we pulled off the neat trick of converting fossilised hydrocarbon into food—-how we did it is mere window dressing.

            doing it signed our own death warrant

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Yes but saying we eat fossil fuels isn’t looking at the crux of the issue. I want to look at the individual details so I can understand all of the areas it’s gone south. I never understood people who could look out at the universe and simply say “god did it.” That does nothing to satisfy my curiosities.

            • eating fossil fuel is the crux of the issue

              all the rest hangs on that in a literally infinite number of ways—-whether that’s putting diesel in a tractor–making fetriliser—trucking food to the supermarket–you driving to the store….. all adds up to the same thing, if we stop using fossil fuels we stop eating

            • Fast Eddy says:

              There is absolute truth in what you say.

              I am undecided on what the hammer blow to the head will be…. radiation poisoning.. or starvation.

              I have no experience with either… but I suspect starvation would be a gentler death….

            • but slower

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I was in Bali last week – and it was off the charts hot and humid — a month that is usually cool and comfortable…

  37. formatC says:

    It looks to me like in the next decade we will be experiencing multiple situations that have strong potential for extinction of all species on the planet simultaneously. Should be interesting.

    • guusrs says:

      Hi Gail, thanx for explaining some timing issues for EROEI so clear. It’s a past and future energy usage. In my opinion price and energy invested are strongly related. In other words: energy isn’t sustainbale if it ain’t cheaper than energy from non-renewables. We share that thought. And wages too aren’t involved with in academic EROEI studied either, whilst people use wages to buy energy consuming products (houses, cars, food, petrol, gas etc.)

  38. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Ck. this out: CO2 ppm numbers for
    2014 (401.33)
    2015 (403.45)
    2016 (407.57)

    The difference between 2014 & 2016 is 6.24 with an avg. of 3.12 ppm added per year. That average (if you’re familiar with how that has increased over the past decades) even though it’s only over two years is an alarming rate of increase.

    But here’s the really disturbing one: Between 2015 & 2016, 4.12 ppm CO2 was added to the atmosphere!!

    It’s been rare that a y on y increase of 3 ppm ever occurred and that has only been in recent years. I’ve never seen anything near 4 let alone over 4 added in one year. Maybe it’s just El Nino – guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • i didnt think el nino produced c02

      • doomphd says:

        Cement manufacture certainly produces excess CO2. I read that China produced more cement in the past 3 years than the USA did in all of the 20th century. If so, that’s bound to have an effect on atmospheric CO2 levels.

    • Veggie says:

      Regardless of the reason, it’s not good.
      Could the above average number of Volcano’s puking into the atmosphere have something to do with it ??

    • Tango Oscar says:

      I don’t mean to make jokes but it’s just funny that there are people among the scientific community that believe we can still somehow “save” our species or the environment. We have set forth a one way train and an increase of above 2 Celsius is already baked in; in fact we’re likely headed for a 6 C or 8 C increase in the next couple of decades. Our food sources cannot evolve quickly enough to survive that as evolution trails this current pace of climate change by an incalculably MASSIVE margin. Guy Mcpherson has stated that number is around 10,000 times. Our goose is cooked.

      Even if all CO2 emissions stopped today, it would make absolutely no difference in the snowballing, compounding, run away process that’s been started. I would predict that we see summer heat this year possibly ignite a famine the likes of which we’ve never seen. My personal anecdotal evidence, as meaningless as it is, confirms my fears. Our oak trees have been putting buds on a week or two earlier each year for the last several years. The night time temperatures have been 10 degrees above average and the day time ones in some cases have been 20 degrees above average. If this current level of temperature anomalies holds it’s quite possible we see months of blistering heat that blow away what we consider “normal.”

    • formatC says:

      Wouldn el nino account for only rising temps not rising CO?

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        formatC, I tried a google search to see if their was a connection between El Nino and rising CO2 rates, but couldn’t nail anything down. So then the question becomes; why are CO2 ppm increasing so much? But then again there have been 7 straight months of record breaking world temperatures that have been shattering previous records by huge amounts. February was 2.4C greater than pre-industrial levels and of course that means temporarily we surpassed the vaunted 2C we are not suppose to go past until we burn x billions of more carbon we’ve given ourselves permission to charge through for the sake of a few dollars more. Methane which is usually about 1800 parts per billion just recently spiked for the first time above 3,000. In India per that other post, the temperature just passed the old record hitting 123F. Meanwhile the ice in the arctic is already this melt season lower than any other year ‘for this time of year’. We will have to see if it breaks the 2012 minima record in September. To my eyes looking at the graphs, 2016 looks like it could shatter 2012’s minima, but weather can change, wind direction, etc., so it’s too early to know how that will play out.

        However, putting all this information together, we have to hope it’s more about going through an EL Nino than anything else. The alternative is the climate system is shifting into a higher climate warming gear in which temps, CO2 added, ice melt, methane emissions, every factor influencing global warming is spiking. Whether that would be a trend that would accelerate or a temporary blip is hard to know.

        • Name (required) says:

          “So then the question becomes; why are CO2 ppm increasing so much? ”
          Well more FF are not being burnt. Less plants rtto soak up the CO2? Plankton in the ocean dieing off?

          • Tango Oscar says:

            Compounding runaway processes that feed off each other. Feedback loops. For example, the increased CO2 from our industrial activities slightly warms the planet. And that warming slightly melts the North/South pole ice sheets a little bit faster. The reflective properties of these glaciers becomes less useful, reflecting less heat back and allowing more into our atmosphere as well as increased water levels. This in turn releases more methane from under the frozen regions, allowing even more warming into the atmosphere. Then add El Nino and it increases the temperature of everything a little bit more.

            At some point in these feedback processes something broke, likely the ability of the ocean to just continuously absorb our excess heat, and the entire thing is now out of control. Does El Nino add more CO2 to the atmosphere? No, not directly. But it will increase the overall warming effect going on. The runaway CO2 could be from the decreased ability of vegetation to absorb it due to warming, and/or increased industrial activities, not to mention the removal of old growth forests like the Rainforest. Remember, it is quite likely there is a time lag of 10 or more years between when the CO2 is released into the atmosphere and when we physically see its impact on our biosphere. So what we’re currently experiencing is likely the industrial activity from say, the year 2000, plus the added impact of El Nino warming the oceans. You also have to factor in how this impact the ocean conveyor belts and their impact on climate. Lots of strange things are happening if you pay attention to all of the details. It’s actually absolutely horrifying what’s happening.

  39. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Scroll down on that article to see a map of the waters off of Singapore. Incredible number of ships laden with oil and cargo. Some moving, many not.

    • Tango Oscar says:

      Looks like 300+ tankers sitting around. The thing is, sometimes Zerohedge and other doomer sites don’t accurately show information in order to cause a rise. For example, how many ships are normally hanging about in that area? The anecdotal evidence of some random dude who visits Singapore and saying this is crazy doesn’t really mean it is crazy. Perhaps 200+ ships are normally in that area anyways. I’m not saying that the end isn’t coming in the near future, merely that sites like Zerohedge purposely seek out information that will get them page views, regardless of it’s truthfulness. I catch them doing this sort of thing all the time.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        You missed this:

        “The volumes of oil stored at sea in South East Asia – predominantly Singapore and Malaysia – appear to have increased significantly,” said Erik Broekhuizen, Global Manager of tanker research and consultancy at New York-based shipping brokerage Poten & Partners. “The current volumes are the highest for at least the last five years.”

        And the link to this:

        Crude tanker storage fleet off Singapore points to stubborn oil glut

        • Tango Oscar says:

          I’m sure it’s more than normal but I still don’t trust Zerohedge. Everything regarding oil right now is just strange. It almost looks as if they are holding oil off shore intentionally to raise the price. That scam is only going to work as long as they can get access to tankers. Once those run out then the price will start going back down again as it will force suppliers to throttle back. Not good at all that demand has dropped off so significantly.

    • Creedon says:

      Short on oil has comments on this over at peak oil news. His take is that the world economy is contracting because the energy coming from the oil is decreasing and that this will be the situation in the future, that the economy will always be contracting and that in the future their will always be lots of cheap oil no the market not being used. The way to look at it, Is that the world economy is presently collapsing, but that we are still in the early stages of this collapse.

      • Creedon says:

        Collapse seems to be happening country by country. Venezuela, Nigeria, Greece ect. In America it is much harder to see presently.

        • DJ says:

          You can’t compare greece to Venezuela. Greece collapse is only on paper (this far).

          • Tango Oscar says:

            Greece has had some violent protests and starving people in the streets. It’s not Venezuela bad yet but wait until the IMF or someone cuts them off entirely and watch what happens.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Greece stays on life support because if they default that triggers another Lehman because big EU banks are exposed … and other western banks are exposed to EU banks…

              Not sure what the situation is with respect to Venezuela’s banking system… perhaps they are not too big to fail… so Venezuela can become a failed state without any global repercussions.

              And let that be a lesson to any other marginal countries that refuse to kiss the ring

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Seems accurate. It also explains why the whole EU is ready to throw a hissy-fit if Britain exits. How many bailouts is Greece up to now, like 4 or something? I mean, holy crap. It’s blatantly obvious to everyone that this is just going to keep happening over and over. Unsustainable activities don’t suddenly become sustainable after 5 bailouts, lol.

  40. sindre says:

    informative comment. Yes sadly it seems like most ecovillages don’t go all the way. Homesteading might be better, but this option is too boring for me. I am at least somewhat prepared if I do something like this.

    I come from Norway. I most often would avoid overly spiritual focused communities, there tend to be too many wackos there. You have family there which is fortunate, if I were to find a wife living in one of those small towns in the tampa it might have been an option for me. dgdf

    • tagio says:

      Sindre, thanks to your comment I went back and read futuresystem’s comment. Very illuminating. Orlov’s characteristics of sustainable communities notwithstanding, it has long been my understanding, based both on reading history and seeing people in action for, now, 60 years, that commmunities are not and cannot be intentionally created. They are forged under the pressure of events. The only real community you can have outside of that historical process is your own extended family i.e, your “clan”). That is the most natural and important group to focus on pre-crash. Prepare as a family, where you are! MAYBE your group can include a couple of very close friends, and by friends I mean actual friends, in most cases people who you have been close to since childhood.

      Orlov approaches humans like a systems analysyt. He is good at identifying critical features, but leaves out all-important history. Community is an organic, self-organizing system, not the product of a recipe or software program. You can’t just “build it.” The religious groups Orlov cites were formed under pressure of persecution, pain and suffering. Without that in their group “DNA,” the group would not have been formed or have survived. A common ideology or shared belief system is NOT sufficient.

      I have mentioned this before, but the TV series, The Walking Dead, is actually very good at capturing real human dynamics in a crashed world. The “community” there came together by chance, but was forged by events into a powerful, long lasting “family” who have one another’s backs.

      Think very seriously about leaving your family and the place you know, to move somewhere where you are a complete stranger just to avoid death from collapsing nuke rod storage pools around the Northern Hemisphere. I am in the northeastern U.S. and while I hope Western societies will pull our heads out of our asses in time to safeguard the fuel before we literally can’t do it anymore, I hold no illusions that this will actually happen. I hope for the best but meantime I stay near my children. We all have to die sometime, and while I recognize that, abstractly, without regard to my personal history, I might prolong my life by moving to Southern Chile or NZ, I am interested in staying with my family, not tallying a large number of remaining years. I am 60, you are young, maybe you hope to have a family, I don’t know, the calculus may be different for you, This is my two cents: think carefully about it, and consider your personal connections, not just “survivability.”

      • I tend to agree with you. Family groups have a very different connection than the kind of groups put together for mosts planned intentional communities. It seems to me that communities really need to self-organize, generally around a family grouping or perhaps around religious beliefs. Orlov talks about groups who are being persecuted for the religious beliefs sticking together better than others.

      • sindresvanes says:

        thanks gail and tagio.

        I am planning on starting a bachelor degree in translation english-norwegian. This will make it possible for me to work freelance anywhere in the world. I am also planning on having a family, but that I will delay until I am 32-33. I really understand your point on personal relations, but I also want to have hope for the future and I see that I can have more of that if I move for example to nz. In the end I might end up staying in Norway or at least in Europe, we will see.

        I actually know of a genuinely spiritual group which might at some point in the future start an ecovillage. this group are not your typical hippies either.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I admire your optimism.

          I will count myself lucky if I am still alive, have electric lights and can buy food in a grocery store in 2017….

  41. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    Here’s a weird one for you. My wife’s computer tonight was FORCED into Windows 10 without her permission. So 70 billion dollar’s worth Gates is now engaging in piracy, which in a sense is no different than the Somali Pirates. Both are using force to make more money.

    This is why the human experience leads to trouble, because the more money involved the greater the greed. The more money a person has the bigger the ego, the greater the sense they deserve even more. Gates has probably taken on a God complex by now so it probably doesn’t seem like forcing to him – it’s more like his children need to be put in their place.

    But really this is why the human experience doesn’t work that well. Politicians become corrupt, govt’s become corrupt, corporations become corrupt. It’s like Edward G. Robinson who played a Cuban mafia character said when asked what it was that he wanted since it was obvious he was already very wealthy, “I want more. Sure, that’s what I want. I want more!” Nearly every single person when presented with an opportunity for a whole lot more, even if that means problems for millions of other people, will grab hold for dear life. Maybe with small amounts of money some can resist, but as the $’s rise up to real big numbers it gets to a point where most people cannot resist grabbing on to more. It’s human nature for some reason and it’s why most oil revenue in countries, except for Norway, remain in just a few hands. Greed is the ultimate human driver.

    • Yep, that’s the one of the major ones if not the main driver of it all.

      It functions as malformation, disease, or as we mentioned here some time ago, if nature wanted to have terraform the planet quickly, a civilization cycle with uncontrolled greed urge is the best way.. It has taken few thousands years so far, which is nothing in geologic timescale.

      Also in higher up echelons you are contesting other powers/enemies, so not only it’s about the very personal status quo and niveau-luxuries-wealth, but you always have to look after the shoulder and open spigots of wealth flowing into various power projection games like militias and propaganda across the border etc. In such cycle sooner or later you will over reach and undercut the wealth generation-production potential of your own place, so you relatively stagnate and soon enough get replaced by another contender in the rat race. These ups and downs is basically world’s history in shortest summary possible.

    • formatC says:

      format c then ebay for that hard drive.. there are limits.

    • xabier says:

      True story: one of the wealthiest people in the City of London recently gabbled, after a dinner well-lubricated with wine: ‘I just want more and more and more and more!’

      Educated (excellent mathematician), with everything one could desire: one of the grandest most beautiful houses in London, with a walled garden of great loveliness; happy with his wife, promising children, good health, great professional prestige, and – of course! -several other houses. Quite cultured, too, he bought the house for its beauty. Modest and pleasant to meet. No expensive watches, clothes, car, etc.

      So why more?!!! A sick man. Money Sickness has him in its grip. It’s interesting to watch it at work on people, takes them in different ways but always an unlimited desire for more as an end in itself. These are the people directing our societies……

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        “So why more?!!! A sick man. Money Sickness has him in its grip. It’s interesting to watch it at work on people, takes them in different ways but always an unlimited desire for more as an end in itself. These are the people directing our societies……”

        “More as an end in itself”… Agreed, xabier. Which really shows how shallow these type of people are, because surely there are better pursuits than just ‘more’.

        • almost makes you laff—if it were not for the tears

          not for nothing did I give my book its title—The End of More

          but everyone has the same driving force—whether big or small.
          Few if any can say they are truly content

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I have no desire for more. Steady state has been enough for many years now …

          But then I have no desire to have offspring… and I have a contingency to run a vehicle into a rock cut post BAU.

          I think there is something wrong with me. My DNA has failed in so many ways.

          • Yorchichan says:

            You don’t have any children, but you do have a wife. Is she ok with sitting in the passenger seat when the time comes?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I’ll discuss this with her when the food stores are about to run out.

              Or when the radiation sickness starts.

              I expect she’ll be happy to go along for the ride.

    • Derek says:

      I lamented to my friend the other day with the broad complaint that, “Everything seems corrupt.”

      He replied, “Yup, get over it.”

      And so I said, “Thanks man” and hung up the phone to go on a peaceful walk around the local lake.

      That is what good friends are for… providing they don’t end up corrupt like everything else.

      • Stilgar Wilcox says:

        “I lamented to my friend the other day with the broad complaint that, “Everything seems corrupt.”

        He replied, “Yup, get over it.”

        I think that’s an even more unfortunate consequence to the greedfest that leads to so much corruption, and that is full, simple acceptance of that type of behavior. Things change over time if there is a concerted effort, but if people just accept it then it becomes part of society without repercussions and without feedback. If we all agree it’s ok to be greedy with one another to the point of anything goes, then we have sunk to a lower level than if we call it was it is in a negative light and as a society fight against it with regulation or whatever is needed.

        As a worst case greed scenario, maybe if greed and corruption are so easily accepted, then at some point killing other people for their what they have will become acceptable. “He killed him for his cash and to try and pick up on his girlfriend!”

        “Ah, get over it.”

        • Derek says:

          “As a worst case greed scenario, maybe if greed and corruption are so easily accepted, then at some point killing other people for their what they have will become acceptable.”

          That sounds like a decent description of human history.

          I agree with your sentiment but I don’t know how to fight corruption when it seems to find its way into everything.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            When faced with the end of more … i.e. we have plundered all there is to plunder on the earth … when ‘go west young man’ runs into a wall…

            We no longer cooperate … because we have run out of territories to pillage…. and thus there is no longer any benefit to cooperating — and as expected… the strong turn on on the weak in the home territory….

            This was all anticipated in the short essay entitled Wisdom:

            The way the world works — and always will (by Fast Eddy):

            – The luckiest, fittest, smartest, with the capability for ruthlessness survive – always have – always will

            – Resources are finite and therefore ownership is a zero sum game

            – The strong always take from the weak – if they do not then that is a sign of weakness and a competitor will take from the weak and will usurp the formerly strong dropping them into weakling status

            – Humans tend to group by clan or on a broader basis by nationality (strength in numbers bonded by culture) and they compete with others for resources

            – Competition always exist (I want it all!) but it becomes fiercer when resources are not sufficient to support competing clans or nations

            – Tribal societies understand these dynamics because they cannot go to the grocery store for their food – so they are intimately aware of the daily battle to feed themselves and the competition for scare land and resources

            – Modern affluent societies do not recognize this dynamic because for them resources are not scarce – they have more than enough.

            – One of the main reasons that resources are not scarce in affluent societies is because they won the battle of the fittest (I would argue that luck is the precursor to all other advantages – affluent societies did not get that way because they started out smarter — rather they were lucky – and they parlayed that luck into advances in technology… including better war machines)

            – As we have observed throughout history the strong always trample the weak. Always. History has always been a battle to take more in the zero sum game. The goal is to take all if possible (if you end up in the gutter eating grass the response has been – better you than me – because I know you’d do the same to me)

            – And history demonstrates that the weak – given the opportunity – would turn the tables on the strong in a heartbeat. If they could they would beat the strong into submission and leave them bleeding in the streets and starving. As we see empire after empire after empire gets overthrown and a new power takes over. Was the US happy to share with Russia and vice versa? What about France and England? Nope. They wanted it all.

            – Many of us (including me) in the cushy western world appear not to understand what a villager in Somalia does – that our cushy lives are only possible because our leaders have recognized that the world is not a fair place — Koobaya Syndrome has no place in this world — Koombaya will get you a bullet in the back — or a one way trip to the slum.

            – Religious movements have attempted to change the course of human nature — telling us to share and get along — they have failed 100% – as expected. By rights we should be living in communes — Jesus was a communist was he not? We all know that this would never work. Because we want more. We want it all.

            – But in spite of our hypocrisy, we still have this mythical belief that mankind is capable of good – that we make mistakes along the way (a few genocides here, a few there… in order to steal the resources of an entire content so we can live the lives we live) — ultimately we believe we are flawed but decent. We are not. Absolutely not.

            – But our leaders — who see through this matrix of bullshit — realize that our cushy lives are based on us getting as much of the zero sum game as possible. That if they gave in to this wishy washy Koombaya BS we would all be living like Somalians.

            – Of course they cannot tell us what I am explaining here — that we must act ruthlessly because if we don’t someone else will — and that will be the end of our cushy lives. Because we are ‘moral’ — we believe we are decent – that if we could all get along and share and sing Koombaya the world would be wonderful. We do not accept their evil premises.

            – So they must lie to us. They must use propaganda to get us onside when they commit their acts of ruthlessness.

            – They cannot say: we are going to invade Iraq to ensure their oil is available so as to keep BAU operating (BAU which is our platform for global domination). The masses would rise against that making things difficult for the PTB who are only trying their best to ensure the hypocrites have their cushy lives and 3 buck gas (and of course so that the PTB continue to be able to afford their caviar and champagne) …. Because they know if the hypocrites had to pay more or took at lifestyle hit – they’d be seriously pissed off (and nobody wants to be a Somalian)

            – Which raises the question — are we fools for attacking the PTB when they attempt to throw out Putin and put in a stooge who will be willing to screw the Russian people so that we can continue to live large? When we know full well that Putin would do the same to us — and if not him someone more ruthless would come along and we’d be Somalians.

            – Should we be protesting and making it more difficult for our leaders to make sure we get to continue to lead our cushy lives? Or should we be following the example of the Spartans

            – In a nutshell are our interests as part of the western culture not completely in line with those of our leaders – i.e. if they fail we fail – if they succeed we succeed.

            – Lee Kuan Yew is famous for saying ‘yes I will eat very well but if I do so will you’ Why bite the hand that whips the weak to make sure you eat well…. If you bite it too hard it cannot whip the weak — making you the weak — meaning you get to feel the whip….

            – Nation… clan … individual…. The zero sum game plays out amongst nations first … but as resources become more scarce the battle comes closer to home with clans battling for what remains…. Eventually it is brother against brother ….

            – As the PTB run out of outsiders to whip and rob…. They turn on their own…. As we are seeing they have no problem with destroying the middle class because it means more for them… and when the weak rise against them they have no problem at all deploying the violent tactics that they have used against the weak across the world who have attempted to resist them

            – Eventually of course they will turn against each other…. Henry Kissinger and Maddy Albright bashing each other over the head with hammers fighting over a can of spam – how precious!

  42. Tom S says:

    Gail – when do you think the cheap supply of oil will start drying up to where middle class and lower class will not be able to afford petroleum based fuels (gasoline and diesel) for transportation i.e. – when will only the elite be able to afford to drive cars and fly on planes? 2040?

    • oilflow needs a complex system in order to function

      this complexity is financed by the billions of people who buy and use the oil itself, the cost of it being divided up between those billions as a proportion of what they pay at the pump. Without those billions of users, those underlying costs still remain.

      We must get rid of the idea that there will be an “elite” who will be able to afford fuels in the future,—-refineries and distribution systems CANNOT function on the needs of a priveleged few.

      • xabier says:

        Exactly, it requires mass usage for the extraction to be a viable concern, not like wood: the lord of the manor could have the men cut logs for him for a nice fire at the Hall, furniture, building, etc, while the peasants scrabbled about collecting twigs, fallen branches and thorn bushes for their fires.

        Moreover, if the lord was away and the timber was left untouched, the peasants could still go gathering the lesser product for their own use and comfort – the two levels could disconnect.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          So many other examples …

          If only the 1% used the internet there would be no internet… likewise with roads… the grid… cable tv… etc….

      • that 2020 date keeps cropping up.

        the saudi energy minister said a couple of week ago—”if” we have no oil by 2020—

        coupled with that, there’s the thing about saudi becoming an oil importer by 2030 or thereabouts—which effectively means that long before that date Saudi will be having to use its entire oil capacity to support its own infrastructure, thus its “economy” will cease to have any logical function at all. (like burning your house down to stay warm this winter)

        Following on from that, there’s my soothsaying that I’d figured out a date of around 2022 for collapse of the system,.
        I figured 2022 as being roughly halfway between 203o-ish and now…because Saudi itself wont hold together right to the “oil end” but will implode as factional violence takes over, long before then—hence 2022

        • Ert says:


          Sound good to me. I believe since a longer time frame that BAU will/can be kept up until 2020. I assume that the next cyclical crisis may happen around 2018 (10 years after the last)… lots of things are cracking but still propped up (especially China, which is all important now). The economic downturn will then again mask lots of the problematic effects (price declines) with larger repercussions for the future (missing forward investment).

          I don’t know that the government/central banks will draw/throw at the next crisis – but I have the feeling nothing good. So even if they can spur some kind of speculative “investment” or restart consumption (basic income, helicopter money, debt forgivnes/restructuring, even more negative rates and ban of cash) then the added consumption demand may overwhelm the remaining capacity of the system within the next years.

          Another important thing is the emerging climate (chaos). Until 2020 I see the arctic summer ice gone. Even where I live in middle/northern Europe – every summer gets hotter, the ground water level is sinking, the winters are milder. If the global dislocations continue, the world food system may be in jeopardy and the following (even larger) migration from Africa and middle-east / Asia then may finally overwhelm central Europe.

          To many negative trends are currently mounting up…. (Energy, Economy, Debt, Food, Climate, Migration, (man-enforced) political instability…) they all may accumulate to a not very nice picture within the next years.

          • and the inevitable result of course will be violence—this will be the factor that disrupts the entire system

          • el mar says:

            Good points!
            Preventive war, much earlier than 2020, may also be a result of all the cracking developments!
            Russia seems to be target of the cheap-oil-thirsty US.
            Trump and some military warriers may try to blame and rob Putin & Co., as soon as the cracks are a threat for them.
            el mar

      • I agree. The only way we can afford the system we have now is because of the relatively high wages of the many non-elite workers. Once these wages start falling in relative terms–partly because more are unemployed–the system cannot continue. The wages of the non-elite workers are needed to keep the price of commodities up high enough to keep the system going.

        The idea that a few elites can keep the system going is simply not true. So is the idea that we can make only high value goods with oil, such as pharmaceuticals.

        • Fast Eddy (MYTH DESTROYER) says:

          I noticed an article that banking bonuses would drop 20% this year….

          I also see that high-end retailers including Macys and Nordstrom reported double digit drops in profits last quarter.

          It looks like the income of the elites is dropping now as well….

          The beast is going hungry now… he won’t last long if he is not fed….

    • Tom, you are believing a false story. What happens is the price of oil falls too low to continue extraction, because too many of the working class of people cannot afford houses and cars. Then the economy collapses, including all of the classes.

      THe elite will never be able to afford to keep up the roads and refineries and university system on their own. THis is a false belief that they can continue after others.

  43. jeremy890 says:

    The Sauds are expanding offshore from the Peakoil website

    “the Saudis created a giant offshore oil project called Manifa. With one single project Manifa added 1 million barrels a day to the world oil glut. Manifa will expand its capacity the coming year, adding a further 500 million barrels a day to world markets.”

    Shortonoil commented on the article that looked at the big picture.
    As shortonoil stated, all barrels are not created equal by nature!

    “Manifa is a vanadium laced mud hole! It sat idle for 60 years because SA couldn’t sell it. Vanadium burns up refineries so no one will buy the raw crude. All the crude coming out of Manifa has to be processed through SA’s own special refinery that they built just for this field. It cost them $38 billion to build. Apparently it works because it hasn’t burned down, yet. There will be no crude hitting the market from Manifa; its production of finished produces is slated mostly for the SA home market. It is oil, but it isn’t cheap oil”…..
    “The Saudis developed Manifa for one reason; to free up crude from their other fields that they could sell to the world market. As long as Ghawar is producing they will keep producing from Manifa. Manifa isn’t about profit, it’s about cash flow. That is an area of particular concern to SA at present.”

    • Veggie says:

      jeremy890, I think there is a typo in your opening remark.
      Manfia only adds 300K barrels per day to the world markets….not 500 million per day as you stated. (The entire world only makes ~94 million barrels per day)
      Manfia will not be enough to stave of the natural depletion rate of the rest of the world’s major fields. UK north slope now down 50% from peak, North sea down, Mexico Canterrel down.
      We need a new Saudi Arabian Gahwar field every 4 years to maintain current flows.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Veggie here is the whole story from Peak

        Page added on January 11, 2016
        Meet Manifa (And Other Giant Oil Projects) That Will Add To The Global Oil Glut

        While the media attention was directed to the shale oil boom in the US, the Saudis created a giant offshore oil project called Manifa. With one single project Manifa added 1 million barrels a day to the world oil glut. Manifa will expand its capacity the coming year, adding a further 500 million barrels a day to world markets.

        The project is part of the development of the Saudi oilfields, which are expected to see an increase in production to over 12.5 million barrels a day from 11 million barrels a day. The first phase of the project began production in April 2013. The field produced 500,000bpd by July 2013. It will produce 900,000bpd of crude oil once fully completed by the end of 2014. Additionally, there will also be production of 90 million standard cubic feet per day of sour gas, 65,000bpd of gas condensate, and water. Source Offshore Technology

        Thanks, Veggie, obviously a typo error on their part.

        • Veggie says:

          Thanks Vince,
          So many variables to consider.
          X million barrels of depletion…..X million new barrels coming on stream…
          Makes it very hard to get a clear picture of where this is leading.
          I would assume that the Manfia oil is relatively low cost production in comparison to the rest of the world. EROEI may not be an issue for them.
          The big question is whether it will be enough to offset the natural decline rates of the other major fields in the world.
          Manfia may become a major factor in keeping prices low and killing off any remaining low EROEI companies/fields over the next few years.

          • Vince the Prince says:

            Veggie, the point of the post was the offshore Manila is NOT low cost because it contains vanadium that ruins its commercial value.
            shortonoil comment explained that
            “Manifa is a vanadium laced mud hole! It sat idle for 60 years because SA couldn’t sell it. Vanadium burns up refineries so no one will buy the raw crude”
            It is high cost refined product that the Sauds consume themselves.
            So, there you have it…read his complete post, thxs

  44. Kurt says:

    You just need turkeys, lots and lots of turkeys.

  45. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    “I am talking about centuries.”

    Where is your prior post on the topic? Centuries from what?

  46. adonis says:

    it sounds to me that the human race may go extinct norman and ed if that is our future

    • i hope it isn’t just us two

    • interguru says:

      I really doubt we will go extinct — we are too resourceful for that. I can see us in greatly, diminished numbers, with some of us sitting around the campfire swapping stories of the ancients who are both envied and hated.

      • the dinosuars didn’t go extinct, they finished up as birds and crocodiles

        it took an awfully long time though

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          I agree, Interguru. Besides aren’t there numerous caves with long term food and energy sources? I remember when we visited Grand Canyon Caves they had a huge stash of survival supplies for dozens of people for numerous years. There’s one in Colorado too. I’m sure TPTB in DC have their fallout shelter network as well. I remember reading the Chinese have extensive manmade underground cave networks to house people in Beijing in the event of a nuclear exchange – surely those have lots of freeze dried food & water. And what about primitive people in forests near the equator? Those people can eat almost anything. Humans at this point would probably be as difficult to cause their extinction as alligators, rats and cockroaches.

          • All these caves stocked to the ceiling with survivalist stuff are nice, but the supplies will last decades at most, assuming you are not visited by a truckload of goons waving AK-47s. I am talking about centuries.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Hmmmm… living in a cave scrounging for fresh rats to go with the baked beans… forever…

            I am praying that death with minimal suffering comes just after BAU falls…

            • Rodster says:

              “I am PRAYING that death with minimal suffering comes just after BAU falls…”

              So says the atheist. 🙂

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Praying to the sun god of course… 🙂

          • formatC says:

            Ever tried to live in a cave once there is no power?

            whats the point.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Thank you for stating the obvious.

              I’ve thrown the Fast Eddy challenge out there — it involves shutting of the power in one’s house and using no petrol for a month (or the Lite challenge — a weekend)

              To date nobody has tried this.

              And we’re having a discussion about the merits of life in a cave….

              One thing that is going to surprise people about the end of BAU is that because of normalcy bias (we cannot envision how bad living without electricity and petrol is) is just how absolutely horrific that is going to be…. beyond what anyone can imagine ….

              I suspect most people will just go into a state of shock … curl up in the corner… and die….

              Try 24 hours without electricity…. just to get a small taste…. a gentle whiff…

  47. adonis says:

    if the system collapses this year it may be enough for governments and the people to change their ways and use what little high eroei oil we have left to a simple set-up , its better than doing nothing as the old saying goes ‘ no pain no gain’

    • you can’t have a ”simple” oil setup and usage—unless you use it in very primitive lamps.

      oil requires complex systems–without those systems oil has little practical use.

    • Ed says:

      It would be nice, but I expect the last oil and oil products will be used for flamethrowers, napalm, and helicopter fuel to drop the napalm and fuel air bombs. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven to quote Milton or Kahn.

      • Artleads says:

        “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven to quote Milton or Kahn.”

        Scary thought. I’m trying to find a third “nothing special” place just the same.

  48. Christian says:

    Mars Attacks, best scifi movie ever

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