Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity: US, 5.4% of 2015 electricity consumption; China, 3.9%; Germany, 19.5%; Australia, 6.6%.

In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

Leaders around the world have demanded that their countries switch to renewable energy, without ever taking a very close look at what the costs and benefits were likely to be. A few simple calculations were made, such as “Life Cycle Assessment” and “Energy Returned on Energy Invested.” These calculations miss the fact that the intermittent energy being returned is of very much lower quality than is needed to operate the electric grid. They also miss the point that timing and the cost of capital are very important, as is the impact on the pricing of other energy products. This is basically another example of a problem I wrote about earlier, Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers.

Let’s look at some of the issues that we are encountering, as we attempt to add intermittent renewable energy to the electric grid.

Issue 1. Grid issues become a problem at low levels of intermittent electricity penetration.

In 2015, wind and solar PV amounted to only 12.2% of total electricity consumed in Hawaii, based on EIA data. Even at this low level, Hawaii is encountering sufficiently serious grid problems that it has needed to stop net metering (giving homeowners credit for the retail cost of electricity, when electricity is sold to the grid) and phase out subsidies.

Figure 1. Hawaii Electricity Production, based on EIA data. Other Disp. electricity is the sum of various other non-intermittent electricity sources, including geothermal and biomass burned as fuel.

Figure 1. Hawaii Electricity Production, based on EIA data. Other Disp. electricity is the sum of various other non-intermittent electricity sources, including geothermal and biomass burned as fuel.

Hawaii consists of a chain of islands, so it cannot import electricity from elsewhere. This is what I mean by “Generation = Consumption.” There is, of course, some transmission line loss with all electrical generation, so generation and consumption are, in fact, slightly different.

The situation is not too different in California. The main difference is that California can import non-intermittent (also called “dispatchable”) electricity from elsewhere. It is really the ratio of intermittent electricity to total electricity that is important, when it comes to balancing. California is running into grid issues at a similar level of intermittent electricity penetration (wind + solar PV) as Hawaii–about 12.3% of electricity consumed in 2015, compared to 12.2% for Hawaii.

Figure 2. California electricity consumption, based on EIA data. Other Disp. is the sum of other non-intermittent sources, including geothermal and biomass burned for electricity generation.

Figure 2. California electricity consumption, based on EIA data. Other Disp. is the sum of other non-intermittent sources, including geothermal and biomass burned for electricity generation.

Even with growing wind and solar production, California is increasingly dependent on non-intermittent electricity imported from other states.

Issue 2. The apparent “lid” on intermittent electricity at 10% to 15% of total electricity consumption is caused by limits on operating reserves.

Electric grids are set up with “operating reserves” that allow the electric grid to maintain stability, even if a large unit, such as a nuclear power plant, goes offline. These operating reserves typically handle fluctuations of 10% to 15% in the electricity supply.

If additional adjustment is needed, it is possible to take some commercial facilities offline, based on agreements offering lower rates for interruptible supply. It is also possible for certain kinds of power plants, particularly hydroelectric and natural gas “peaker plants,” to ramp production up or down quickly. Combined cycle natural gas plants also provide reasonably fast response.

In theory, changes can be made to the system to allow the system to be more flexible. One such change is adding more long distance transmission, so that the variable electricity can be distributed over a wider area. This way the 10% to 15% operational reserve “cap” applies more broadly. Another approach is adding energy storage, so that excess electricity can be stored until needed later. A third approach is using a “smart grid” to make changes, such as turning off all air conditioners and hot water heaters when electricity supply is inadequate. All of these changes tend to be slow to implement and high in cost, relative to the amount of intermittent electricity that can be added because of their implementation.

Issue 3. When there is no other workaround for excess intermittent electricity, it must be curtailed–that is, dumped rather than added to the grid.

Overproduction without grid capacity was a significant problem in Texas in 2009, causing about 17% of wind energy to be curtailed in 2009. At that time, wind energy amounted to about 5.0% of Texas’s total electricity consumption. The problem has mostly been fixed, thanks to a series of grid upgrades allowing wind energy to flow better from western Texas to eastern Texas.

Figure 3. Texas electricity net generation based on EIA data. The Texas grid is separate, so there is no imported or exported electricity.

Figure 3. Texas electricity net generation based on EIA data. The Texas grid is separate, so there is no imported or exported electricity.

In 2015, total intermittent electricity from wind and solar amounted to only 10.1% of Texas electricity. Solar has never been large enough to be visible on the chart–only 0.1% of consumption in 2015. The total amount of intermittent electricity consumed in Texas is only now beginning to reach the likely 10% to 15% limit of operational reserves. Thus, it is “behind” Hawaii and California in reaching intermittent electricity limits.

Based on the modeling of the company that oversees the California electric grid, electricity curtailment in California is expected to be significant by 2024, if the 40% California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is followed, and changes are not made to fix the problem.

Figure 4. <a href=

Issue 4. When all costs are included, including grid costs and indirect costs, such as the need for additional storage, the cost of intermittent renewables tends to be very high.

In Europe, there is at least a reasonable attempt to charge electricity costs back to consumers. In the United States, renewable energy costs are mostly hidden, rather than charged back to consumers. This is easy to do, because their usage is still low.

Euan Mearns finds that in Europe, the greater the proportion of wind and solar electricity included in total generation, the higher electricity prices are for consumers.

Figure 5. Figure by Euan Mearns showing relationship between installed wind + solar capacity and European electricity rates. Source Energy Matters.

Figure 5. Figure by Euan Mearns showing relationship between installed wind + solar capacity and European electricity rates. Source Energy Matters.

The five countries shown in red have all had financial difficulties. High electricity prices may have contributed to their problems.

The United States is not shown on this chart, since it is not part of Europe. If it were, it would be a bit below, and to the right of, Czech Republic and Romania.

Issue 5. The amount that electrical utilities are willing to pay for intermittent electricity is very low. 

The big question is, “How much value does adding intermittent electricity add to the electrical grid?” Clearly, adding intermittent electricity allows a utility to reduce the amount of fossil fuel energy that it might otherwise purchase. In some cases, the addition of solar electricity slightly reduces the amount of new generation needed. This reduction occurs because of the tendency of solar to offer supply when the usage of air conditioners is high on summer afternoons. Of course, in advanced countries, the general tendency of electricity usage is down, thanks to more efficient light bulbs and less usage by computer screens and TV monitors.

At the same time, the addition of intermittent electricity adds a series of other costs:

  • Many more hook-ups to generation devices are needed. Homes now need two-way connections, instead of one-way connections. Someone needs to service these connections and check for problems.
  • Besides intermittency problems, the mix of active and reactive power may be wrong. The generation sources may cause frequency deviations larger than permitted by regulations.
  • More long-distance electricity transmission lines are needed, so that the new electricity can be distributed over a wide enough area that it doesn’t cause oversupply problems when little electricity is needed (such as weekends in the spring and fall).
  • As electricity is transported over longer distances, there is more loss in transport.
  • To mitigate some of these problems, there is a need for electricity storage. This adds two kinds of costs: (1) Cost for the storage device, and (2) Loss of electricity in the process.
  • As I will discuss later, intermittent energy tends to lead to very low wholesale electricity prices. Other electricity providers need to be compensated for the effects these low prices cause; otherwise they will leave the market.

To sum up, when intermittent electricity is added to the electric grid, the primary savings are fuel savings. At the same time, significant costs of many different types are added, acting to offset these savings. In fact, it is not even clear that when a comparison is made, the benefits of adding intermittent electricity are greater than the costs involved.

According to the EIA’s 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report, the major way intermittent electricity is sold to electric utilities is as part of long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), typically lasting for 20 years. Utilities buy PPAs as a way of hedging against the possibility that natural gas prices will rise in the future. The report indicates that the recent selling price for PPAs is about $25 to $28 per MWh (Figure 6). This is equivalent to 2.5  to 2.8 cents per kWh, which is very inexpensive.

Figure 6. EIA exhibit showing the median and mean cost of wind PPAs compared to EIA's forecast price of natural gas, from 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report.

Figure 6. EIA exhibit showing the median and mean cost of wind PPAs compared to EIA’s forecast price of natural gas, from 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report.

In effect, what utilities are trying to do is hedge against rising fuel prices of whatever kind they choose to purchase. They may even be able to afford to make other costly changes, such as more transmission lines and energy storage, so that more intermittent electricity can be accommodated.

Issue 6. When intermittent electricity is sold in competitive electricity markets (as it is in California, Texas, and Europe), it frequently leads to negative wholesale electricity prices. It also shaves the peaks off high prices at times of high demand.

In states and countries that use competitive pricing (rather than utility pricing, used in some states), the wholesale price of electricity price varies from minute to minute, depending on the balance between supply and demand. When there is an excess of intermittent electricity, wholesale prices often become negative. Figure 7 shows a chart by a representative of the company that oversees the California electric grid.

Figure 7. Exhibit showing problem of negative electricity prices in California, from EIA Convention Presentation.

Figure 7. Exhibit showing problem of negative electricity prices in California, from a presentation at the 2016 EIA Annual Conference.

Clearly, the number of negative price spikes increases, as the proportion of intermittent electricity increases. A similar problem with negative prices has been reported in Texas and in Europe.

When solar energy is included in the mix of intermittent fuels, it also tends to reduce peak afternoon prices. Of course, these minute-by-minute prices don’t really flow back to the ultimate consumers, so it doesn’t affect their demand. Instead, these low prices simply lead to lower funds available to other electricity producers, most of whom cannot quickly modify electricity generation.

To illustrate the problem that arises, Figure 8, prepared by consultant Paul-Frederik Bach, shows a comparison of Germany’s average wholesale electricity prices (dotted line) with residential electricity prices for a number of European countries. Clearly, wholesale electricity prices have been trending downward, while residential electricity prices have been rising. In fact, if prices for nuclear, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity had been fair prices for these other providers, residential electricity prices would have trended upward even more quickly than shown in the graph!

Figure 8. Residential Electricity Prices in Europe, together with Germany spot wholesale price, from

Figure 8. Residential Electricity Prices in Europe, together with Germany spot wholesale price, from

Note that the recent average wholesale electricity price is about 30 euros per MWh, which is equivalent to 3.0 cents per kWh. In US dollars this would equate to $36 per MWh, or 3.6 cents per kWh. These prices are higher than prices paid by PPAs for intermittent electricity ($25 to $28 per MWh), but not a whole lot higher.

The problem we encounter is that prices in the $36 MWh range are too low for almost every kind of energy generation. Figure 9 from Bloomberg is from 2013, so is not entirely up to date, but gives an idea of the basic problem.

Figure 9. Global leveled cost of energy production by Bloomberg.

Figure 9. Global leveled cost of energy production by Bloomberg.

A price of $36 per MWh is way down at the bottom of the chart, between 0 and 50. Pretty much no energy source can be profitable at such a level. Too much investment is required, relative to the amount of energy produced. We reach a situation where nearly every kind of electricity provider needs subsidies. If they cannot receive subsidies, many of them will close, leaving the market with only a small amount of unreliable intermittent electricity, and little back-up capability.

This same problem with falling wholesale prices, and a need for subsidies for other energy producers, has been noted in California and Texas. The Wall Street Journal ran an article earlier this week about low electricity prices in Texas, without realizing that this was a problem caused by wind energy, not a desirable result!

Issue 7. Other parts of the world are also having problems with intermittent electricity.

Germany is known as a world leader in intermittent electricity generation. Its intermittent generation hit 12.2% of total generation in 2012. As you will recall, this is the level where California and Hawaii started to reach grid problems. By 2015, its intermittent electricity amounted to 19.5% of total electricity generated.

Figure 10. German electricity generated, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Figure 10. German electricity generated, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Needless to say, such high intermittent electricity generation leads to frequent spikes in generation. Germany chose to solve this problem by dumping its excess electricity supply on the European Union electric grid. Poland, Czech Republic, and Netherlands complained to the European Union. As a result, the European Union mandated that from 2017 onward, all European Union countries (not just Germany) can no longer use feed-in tariffs. Doing so provides too much of an advantage to intermittent electricity providers. Instead, EU members must use market-responsive auctioning, known as “feed-in premiums.” Germany legislated changes that went even beyond the minimum changes required by the European Union. Dörte Fouquet, Director of the European Renewable Energy Federation, says that the German adjustments will “decimate the industry.”

In Australia, one recent headline was Australia Considers Banning Wind Power Because It’s Causing Blackouts. The problem seems to be in South Australia, where the last coal-fired power plants are closing because subsidized wind is leading to low wholesale electricity prices. Australia, as a whole, does not have a high intermittent electricity penetration ratio (6.6% of 2015 electricity consumption), but grid limitations mean that South Australia is disproportionately affected.

China has halted the approval of new wind turbine installations in North China because it does not have grid capacity to transport intermittent electricity to more populated areas. Also, most of China’s electricity production is from coal, and it is difficult to use coal to balance with wind and solar because coal-fired plants can only be ramped up slowly. China’s total use of wind and solar is not very high (3.9% of consumption in 2015), but it is already encountering major difficulties in grid integration.

Issue 8. The amount of subsidies provided to intermittent electricity is very high.

The renewable energy program in the United States consists of overlapping local, state, and federal programs. It includes mandates, feed-in tariffs, exemption from taxes, production tax credits, and other devices. This combination of approaches makes it virtually impossible to figure out the amount of the subsidy by adding up the pieces. We are pretty certain, however, that the amount is high. According to the National Wind Watch Organization,

At the federal level, the production or investment tax credit and double-declining accelerated depreciation can pay for two-thirds of a wind power project. Additional state incentives, such as guaranteed markets and exemption from property taxes, can pay for another 10%.

If we believe this statement, the developer only pays about 23% of the cost of a wind energy project.

The US Energy Information Administration prepared an estimate of certain types of subsidies (those provided by the federal government and targeted particularly at energy) for the year 2013. These amounted to a total of $11.3 billion for wind and solar combined. About 183.3 terawatts of wind and solar energy was sold during 2013, at a wholesale price of about 2.8 cents per kWh, leading to a total selling price of $5.1 billion dollars. If we add the wholesale price of $5.1 billion to the subsidy of $11.3 billion, we get a total of $16.4 billion paid to developers or used in special grid expansion programs. This subsidy amounts to 69% of the estimated total cost. Any subsidy from states, or from other government programs, would be in addition to the amount from this calculation.

Paul-Frederik Bach shows a calculation of wind energy subsidies in Denmark, comparing the prices paid under the Public Service Obligation (PSO) system to the market price for wind. His calculations show that both the percentage and dollar amount of subsidies have been rising. In 2015, subsidies amounted to 66% of the total PSO cost.

Figure 11. Amount of subsidy for wind energy in Netherlands, as calculated by comparing paid for wind under PSO with market value of wind energy. Exhibit from

Figure 11. Amount of subsidy for wind energy in Netherlands, as calculated by comparing paid for wind under PSO with market value of wind energy. Exhibit from

In a sense, these calculations do not show the full amount of subsidy. If renewables are to replace fossil fuels, they must pay taxes to governments, just as fossil fuel providers do now. Energy providers are supposed to provide “net energy” to the system. The way that they share this net energy with governments is by paying taxes of various kinds–income taxes, property taxes, and special taxes associated with extraction. If intermittent renewables are to replace fossil fuels, they need to provide tax revenue as well. Current subsidy calculations don’t consider the high taxes paid by fossil fuel providers, and the need to replace these taxes, if governments are to have adequate revenue.

Also, the amount and percentage of required subsidy for intermittent renewables can be expected to rise over time, as more areas exceed the limits of their operating reserves, and need to build long distance transmission to spread intermittent electricity over a larger area. This seems to be happening in Europe now. In 2015, the revenue generated by the wholesale price of intermittent electricity amounted to about 13.1 billion euros, according to my calculations. In order to expand further, policy advisor Daniel Genz with Vattenfall indicates that grids across Europe will need to be upgraded, at a cost of between 100 and 400 billion euros. In other words, grid expenditures will be needed that amount to between 7.6 and 30.5 times wholesale revenues received from intermittent electricity in 2015. Most of this will likely need to come from additional subsidies, because there is no possibility that the return on this investment can be very high.

There is also the problem of the low profit levels for all of the other electricity providers, when intermittent renewables are allowed to sell their electricity whenever it becomes available. One potential solution is huge subsidies for other providers. Another is buying a lot of energy storage, so that energy from peaks can be saved and used when supply is low. A third solution is requiring that renewable energy providers curtail their production when it is not needed. Any of these solutions is likely to require subsidies.


We already seem to be reaching limits with respect to intermittent electricity supply. The US Energy Information Administration may be reaching the same conclusion. It chose Steve Kean from Kinder Morgan (a pipeline company) as its keynote speaker at its July 2016 Annual Conference. He made the following statements about renewable energy.

Figure 1. Excerpt from Keynote Address slide at US Energy Administration Conference by Steve Kean of Kinder-Morgan.

Figure 12. Excerpt from Keynote Address slide at US Energy Administration Conference by Steve Kean of Kinder Morgan.

This view is very similar to mine. Few people have stopped to realize that intermittent electricity isn’t worth very much. It may even have negative value, when the cost of all of the adjustments needed to make it useful are considered.

Energy products are very different in “quality.” Intermittent electricity is of exceptionally low quality. The costs that intermittent electricity impose on the system need to be paid by someone else. This is a huge problem, especially as penetration levels start exceeding the 10% to 15% level that can be handled by operating reserves, and much more costly adjustments must be made to accommodate this energy. Even if wind turbines and solar panels could be produced for $0, it seems likely that the costs of working around the problems caused by intermittent electricity would be greater than the compensation that can be obtained to fix those problems.

The situation is a little like adding a large number of drunk drivers, or of self-driving cars that don’t really work as planned, to a highway system. In theory, other drivers can learn to accommodate them, if enough extra lanes are added, and the concentration of the poorly operating vehicles is kept low enough. But a person needs to understand exactly what the situation is, and understand the cost of all of the adjustments that need to be made, before agreeing to allow the highway system to add more poorly behaving vehicles.

In An Updated Version of the Peak Oil Story, I talked about the fact that instead of oil “running out,” it is becoming too expensive for our economy to accommodate. The economy does not perform well when the cost of energy products is very high. The situation with new electricity generation is similar. We need electricity products to be well-behaved (not act like drunk drivers) and low in cost, if they are to be successful in growing the economy. If we continue to add large amounts of intermittent electricity to the electric grid without paying attention to these problems, we run the risk of bringing the whole system down.

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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1,882 Responses to Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

  1. 4014runsafterEMP says:

    Gail misses pumped storage (water in afterbay downstream from dam; water pumped back above dam at low-demand periods.) North American Water And Power Alliance is descriptive of engineering including lateral interties between watersheds allowing wet region to replenish dry . Importantly, we simply must recharge Central Valley and Ogallala aquifers, respectively to achieve de minimus level of Food Security.

    Food security and energy conservation are inherent factors with aquifers charged back to high levels. It is not in Ms. Tverberg’s field of interest to discuss geopolitical reality, but the awkward truth is, America shall suffer an EMP/HAMP event sooner or later. Charged aquifers are crucial ASAP to maintain agriculture, and a plan for maintaining distribution after EMP/HAMP must be mentioned as well.

    Railways in North America have a degree of Faraday Cage protection against lightning strike for signals and electronic components in diesel-electric motive power. Trucking fails when solid state control modules are disabled. Railway leverages ability to move victuals and necessities of life during recovery period for truck & aviation, of a year or more. First step should include dispersal of container handling apparatus enroute rail mains, away from central container hubs.

    Electrified Railway is a natural partner for solar power because of inherent rolling efficiencies. Reformed Army/Guard Railrod Operating And Maintenance Battalions (Ft. Eustes, VA) will be important as we rebuild dormant and abandoned rail branch lines, aiming for circa 1960 rail line footprint.

    Institutional geopolitical goal of Mohammedanism coupled with nuclear delivery systems makes knockout of US utilities and transport a high priority strategically. So we must take steps to get through the crisis, and effect recover while avoiding famine. Japan’s “Divine Wind” kamikaze pilots are exemplar of modern day sovereign Muslim states willing to make suicidal moves. Specifically, for your information- Iranian collaboration with North Korea all but makes EMP attack on USA a fait accompli….

    • we must recharge —-acquifers
      wish science again

      i have a PhD in wish science

      • psile says:

        I’ll fetch my hose!

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “we must recharge —-acquifers
        wish science again”

        Not science, just engineering.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          More specifically … a branch of engineering referred to as hopium…. it’s the branch that does not recognize the limits of engineering.

          It is only taught at the University of DelusiSTAN.

          • Christian says:

            Why do you write STAN in capitals?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I never thought about it but I suppose it makes the brand more memorable to do it that way…. I think it’s also important to establish that this is an actual country (not just a pretend place) … like Uzbekistan… and the upper case emphasizes that.

              At the end of they day I am an ar-tiste …. it just flows…. it’s like asking a painter why he used a bright red flower instead of a subdued shade of purple… how can he answer that?

            • it derives from Laurel and Hardy

              Stan Laurel was ever the optimist

              Oliver Hardy always wrecked his hopes

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Subconsciously that is probably what I was thinking…

        • i was under the impression that all engineering followed scientific principles

          Just wondered where the recharging water was coming from—draining Lake Michigan?

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “where the recharging water was coming from”

            In the last few years, Texas and Louisiana have both had devastating floods. It’s probably not cost effective to capture floods like this and send the water west, but if it was wanted, it would just be an engineering project. An awful big one to be sure, but consider the tunnels people have bored under the Alps in the last decade.

            • Keith—the biggest single problem on sites like this is that it is impossible to tell whether comments are part of an ongoing windup, especially when they get crazier and crazier
              Though to be fair—-I have been working on the feasibility of using the unemployed to dig holes in the Ogalla region then forming a bucket chain from the Mississippi to pour water down them

              if On the other hand your comments are not a windup, I’m going to ask Eddy to lend me his wall so that I can bang my head against it.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “not a windup,”

              Norman, I am not advocating big water projects, have not even run the base analysis to see if they would even be a good idea. But big engineering is just something people do when the cost/benefit ratio looks decent. Tabby’s star (which dims and blinks) is probably not aliens building megastructures to capture energy but if it is, I want to meet them. Talk about BAU!

            • a windup I can live with

              (the yolk’s on me so to speak)

              If it isn’t a windup—that makes it even worse

            • hkeithhenson says:


              It may be that I have been reading too much engineering history. Like this.


            • ive tried—-but for the life of me i can’t see the connection

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Some of the ideas presented here would not be out of place on The Onion…..

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘If it can be imagined – it can be’ Willy Wonka

    • “Gail misses pumped storage (water in afterbay downstream from dam; water pumped back above dam at low-demand periods.)”

      What is the cost? If Hydroelectric is $0.03 per KWh, having windmills and solar panels pump water into the reservoir for the hydro dam makes it, what, $0.06 to $0.10 per KWh at least? Probably better than chemical batteries or pressurized tanks or some other odd power storage scheme, but still, adding cost and complexity.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      This reads like something out of a Chris Martenson essay… is this what you get if you pay to view the survival course?

      It’s the catch phrases that give it away …. ‘de minimus’ —- I am told that if you include fancy words like that people are more willing to pay for Hopium…. they lend an element of gravitas to what otherwise would be perceived as worthless bu.llshit.

      ‘Importantly, we simply must recharge Central Valley and Ogallala aquifers, respectively to achieve de minimus level of Food Security.’

      Why stop there? Why don’t we recharge the Texas oil fields?

      After all — as has been pointed out — it is only a matter of engineering….

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “it is only a matter of engineering….”

        We may not be able to afford (yet) moving water from the southeast (where they have too much) to the west, (where they have too little) but if you want an estimate for what it would cost, ask an engineer. Likewise, refilling the Texas oil fields with synthetic oil. If you want to know what has already been done, try here:

        • Refilling the oilfields with synthetic oil——

          there now follows a bout of insane laughter and foaming at the mouth before they come to take me awayyyyyyyyyyyy

          We’re off to see the wizard—the wonderful wizard of oz

          Self is dragged screaming down the yellow brick road by the scarecrow and the tin man chased by a weird looking lion trying to sell me shares in an empty oilwell

          • hkeithhenson says:

            Norman, some years ago I worked out what it would take to convert 100 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere into synthetic oil. Came in at around 300 TW-years. Which means if you have already replaced fossil fuels with 15 TW of space based solar, then you have to make another 15 TW of capacity and run it for 20 years to take out the CO2.

            That really isn’t enough since the oceans will out gas CO2 for a long time, but it gives you the scale of the problem. It’s takes about 100 times less energy if you story the CO2 instead of reducing it to hydrocarbons, but that’s got problems as well. The number sticks in my head of 470 cubic km of liquid C02, but it’s been a long time and really should be recalculated.

            • as i said in an earlier post—-i was taken to the vet some years ago to control overpopulation of the world (this was pre-OFW)

              Had I known then what I know now, I would have had myself put down

            • doomphd says:

              Keith, if your calculations are correct, we are all well and truly baked in an oven of our own making. Triassic Period, here we come.

        • Sungr says:

          ” refilling the Texas oil fields with synthetic oil.”

          That sounds like a great idea- why deal with those tired old legacy oilfields. Let’s just make our own synthetic oil! Then when we run out of petrol, we can just have the refinery make some more.

          Further advantages include-

          *lower storage needs due to just-in-time fuel production runs.

          *custom designed fuels will be available. New smart fuels will save help save the environment with lower greenhouse emissions

          *dehydrated petroleum products will be available. Run out of gas? Just break out your dehydrated petroleum powder, mix with water, put in gas tank, and drive off in a jaunty fashion. No problem!

          Wow we apes are so smart.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            All but your last point are fairly reasonable.

            If you are going to solve the electrical energy need from space, why not build about 5 times that much and supply all needs? We know how to make renewable electrical energy into liquid transport fuels. To make them economically, what we need is oceans of cheap power.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Japan’s “Divine Wind” kamikaze pilots are exemplar of modern day sovereign Muslim states willing to make suicidal moves.

      As are the young men who charged the beaches at Gallipoli or Normandy, stormed trenches along the Western front, or rode on into cannon fire at Balaclava. Men in war are often called upon to perform suicidal acts for the sake of their side’s greater good.

      America shall suffer an EMP/HAMP event sooner or later.

      Agreed, the probability approaches certainty given enough time. How well do you expect solar panels to fare in the event of an EMP? How about wind turbines? Has any testing been done on their resilience?

  2. hkeithhenson says:

    “Keith – what are your thoughts on this idea?”

    There are optical tweezers which act as tractor beams, so the idea has some reality. However, as far as I know, they don’t scale. In any case, existing or very close to existing technology is good enough to get us through the next 50 years, After that, the powers that are to be (AIs) can deal with the problems. It would not surprise me if the entire human population uploaded into cyber space and became biologically extinct in the next 50 years, or perhaps even less.

  3. richard says:

    Wind generation – limited to 50% of demand
    “Mr McCormick: As a system operator, we know that only too well. Sometimes, very few megawatts are generated by wind. At other times, we are almost at maximum capacity from the wind farms that we have. One of our major challenges as a system operator is operationally maximising the amount of wind that we can carry on the system. It is not as straightforward as just letting the wind blow and letting the energy from wind farms flow onto the system. There are some limits. So, at the moment, for example, we believe that we can cope with about 50% of demand being met by wind generation.”–soni-generation-adequacy-report–security-of-supply-post-2015/

    • Thanks for the link.

      Wind generation is limited to 50% of demand on any given day. This means that the percentage penetration needed to get to this limit is really very low.

      Euan Mearns wrote a recent post relating to UK wind constraint payments. If we use BP data, UK wind on an annual basis got to 12.0% wind in 2015, and 2.2% solar, making a total of 14.2% intermittent renewables. Euan says that not all wind is recorded however–some of it appears as reduced demand.

      Euan looks at payments for wind constraint on a monthly basis. He finds that at and above 6% of total monthly generation, payments for wind constraint start ramping up.
      Euan Meanrs percent wind penetration vs wind constrained

      Payments for wind constraint have been ramping up as well.

      UK cost of wind restraint

      Euan remarks:

      In 2015, the average price paid to wind producers to not produce was £71 / MWh. I am uncertain if producers are also paid the Renewable Obligation subsidy of roughly £45 / MWh for not producing. That would bring the total to £116 / MWh. This is an interesting number since it is similar to the price where storage is considered to become competitive [4].

      • richard says:

        The Wind Generation providers are getting upset because of proposed changes to payments. It seems they will either get paid less or get otherwise penalised for the quantity of electricity provided when the network is “stressed”. I’ll see if I can get a recent link for this.

        • I found a couple of articles that may be related:

          What has become clear over the last year is that the amount charged by wind farms is very significantly in excess of the value of the subsidies foregone. For example, the average price paid to Scottish wind farms to reduce output in 2011 was £220 per MWh, whereas the lost subsidy is approximately £55 per MWh. The amount paid by conventional plant such as coal and gas was approximately £34 per MWh to reduce output in 2011. Ultimately the cost of balancing electricity is paid by the electricity consumer so this large difference in cost is not in the consumer interest.

          The United Kingdom currently has approximately 6 GW of wind power in total, but has plans for over 30 GW by 2020. The fact that substantial constraint payments are already being made with 6 GW of wind power demonstrates that very significant grid expansion will be required to accommodate 30 GW of capacity. However, grid expansion is both expensive and time consuming, and there is a real possibility that constraint payments may rise very significantly in the future.

          Britain’s Plan to Save Energy by Paying Businesses to Shut Down Falls Apart

          The National Grid wrote a letter Tuesday to “volunteers” announcing it was no longer paying businesses to not use electricity this winter because “too few users said they were willing to put themselves on standby,” according to The Financial Times, though the exact number of volunteers was not stated. The letter notes that “it is clear this has not been successful” and that the program “was designed for those consumers that don’t already reduce/shift demand or run embedded generation during peak times in response to pricing signals.”

          British grid operators used a similar scheme last winter to prevent mass blackouts after power plants unexpectedly went offline. The U.K. grid has also struggled integrating large amounts of wind and solar energy into the electrical supply system.

          “The decision by Britain’s National Grid to cancel one of its emergency demand response programs because of a lack of companies willing to cut their electricity use when demand peaks is more evidence of the difficulties involved in trying to keep the lights on when more and more power is coming from intermittent and unreliable sources such as wind and solar,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

    • As we try to store more energy, we increasingly increase the fire risk. I wonder how the proposed new big batteries to even out electricity supply from intermittent renewables will work. Will they catch on fire too?

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    Here’s One Sign That ‘Peak Oil’ Is Dead

    Google searches for the term have plunged alongside oil prices.

    Isn’t it strange how the most obvious ideas seem so simple – after they fact.

    And I have already blown my entire pension ….

    • Sungr says:

      “The theory that oil prices would have to rise as supply inevitably declined gained hold on popular imaginations in the mid- to late 2000s, but has since languished in internet obscurity, as new discoveries and technology, including the shale revolution that helped push U.S. oil production to a 40-year high, have ensured plentiful amounts of crude in recent years.”

      Gotta pay close attention to those Google search statistics!

      Whatever explains the dropping google searches on peak oil, the vast majority of the population never understood the concept in the first place. Higher future oil prices were thought to be likely but the main concept involves oilfield depletion over time and a point from which oil production can’t be increased. This is all happening.

      In my opinion, peak oil occurred in 2005 and we have been more or less on a production plateau since- except for shale fracking, tar sands. Of course we have filled in the gaps in oil demand with ethanol, frack oil, tar sands etc but these just constitute a cannabilization of the industrial sector in various ways to keep uneconomic energy production methods looking profitable. Maybe in some circumstances, it makes sense to convert other natural and industrial resources into energy products (even unprofitably) because keeping energy flowing may be more critical than other industrial projects.

      So the frack oil, tar sands, ethanol, are unprofitable or nearly so. They just can’t count as valid energy production.

    • I don’t think “Peak Oil” theory adequately describes our situation, for reasons I described in

      The story doesn’t play out in the high-priced way “peak oilers” contemplated is one piece of the problem. The oil limits problem is still there; it is just that peak oil theory did not describe it adequately.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Gail, conventional Peak Oil theory didn’t predict the current deflationary collapse in oil prices, did it? And most “peak oiler” commentators were convinced that the price would keep rising as supplies dwindled and they were surprised by the downturn. But I don’t think it surprised you at all.

        If we look into the crystal ball now, what kind of future can we see for oil prices? Will the exit of high-cost producers lead to tighter supply that will cause prices to rise, or will a further decline in demand match or even outpace the future decline in supply? And are the Eld-ers or the Deep Staters in control of the process and using it to bring oil consumption down permanently in order to extend the available supply, or are they letting things find their own level?

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Yep – but if Google searches for Peak Oil drop to nothing — then there is no problem here.

        This is what passes for journalism these days….

  5. dolph - it's interesting to live at the end says:

    9/11 occurred precisely so that we could be in the present situation (police state, war, expansion of debt). All of these things were being seriously challenged before 9/11.

    Things are humming along nicely for the corporations and deep state, and will for some time. We are just the remains, the detritus that like to discuss how the present state of affairs came to be.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight

      So….we are supposed to believe that there is no democracy in America — that the Deep State runs the show — all powerful….

      But not powerful enough to stop a major news outlet from going to air with a documentary exposing —- you got it — The Deep State!!!! (queue guffaws of laughter)

      And…. we have the Federal Reserve — a private company that will not admit that it is a private company — that will not be audited… that dictates monetary and fiscal policy for the entire world…. it can print trillions of dollars without a vote in any of the houses…

      Now if you were on the board of the Fed (i.e. an e.L,Der) and you wanted to go even further behind the curtain …. what might you do???

      Ah ha! You call Don Draper … who coins the sinister term ‘Deep State’ along with another evil sounding phrase ‘The Military Industrial Complex’

      You then instruct your minion – president Ike — to make a speech warning ab out this Military Complex…. a man who did zero to oppose this complex … just as all presidents after him did not …

      Although it might be argued that Kennedy did — and of course he was shot dead shortly after refusing to sign off on Operation Northwoods…

      You then juice things up a bit with a PBS documentary totally exposing this Deep State….

      And voila — the intellectuals are talking about The Deep State — those who know who won every final of American Idol may not know about the Deep State but most other people have heard of it….

      And nobody is talking about the fact that the Fed – a private company — that answers to NO ONE…. owns the money supply.

      Anyone making reference to the Deep State has been suckered.

      You cannot wage a war without finance…

      • dolph says:

        I think you are stretching here.
        I think deep state is a useful concept. It refers to the combination of American military power, intelligence operations, and a network of think tanks, defense contractors, etc. whose goals are the same:
        -total domination of the entire world
        -keep the self-justifying wars going

        The Federal Reserve’s goals also align nicely, but it doesn’t necessarily have to the case. There were periods when the deep state was more constrained, even if just by the lack of events (such as the 90s, when there was a lull between the end of the Cold War and 9/11). And there also times when the Federal Reserve was constrained, such as between 1945 and 1971 when they at least had to pay lip service to the idea of gold backing.

        But now, in the year 2016, everything is lining up quite well. Full on monetary expansion along with perpetual war. Everybody is on board and there is absolutely no getting off this train.

        • xabier says:

          Deep State’ is what goes on year-in, year-out, while the elected ‘leaders’ come and go.

          It is policies that do not change substantially, whatever administration is ‘in power’.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Money = power.

          The right to print the global reserve currency = absolute power.

          Everyone has their price therefore if you unlimited currency you can buy anyone.

          I cannot express it more plainly than that.

      • “But not powerful enough to stop a major news outlet from going to air with a documentary exposing —- you got it — The Deep State!!!! (queue guffaws of laughter)”

        Alex Jones Strat – by accepting that all conspiracies are equally valid, none of them are. By making a public documentary, it discredits the very idea. Notice how many Hollywood TV and movies have rogue agents or something in the CIA causing havoc? Yet made with the funding, support, and input of the CIA? Same with the armed forces.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I don’t generally follow Alex Jones because is crazy.

          And because I did see something from him vehemently denying that the tail is wagging the dog – i.e. Zionists run the US….

          You can google is name along with the words Zionist shill to get some additional commentary on that.

          So you might understand where I am coming from when I say that I don’t give a rat’s about what Alex Jones says.

          I’ll do my own thinking. And because I am shill to no one …. you might put more weight on my analysis over his.

          The thing with the PBS documentary is that it is not pushing a conspiracy angle — it is pushing out facts.

          It explains how generals are offered big contracts by the defense industry while they are still working for the military … it goes into the revolving door between finance and regulation …

          There is no disputing what they are stating — government officials appear on the documentary agreeing with the assertions.

          All it is doing is validating what a great many people already know.

          It is putting the stamp of the MSM onto it.

          It is saying – look — we are guilty as charged — we are doing all these things.

          The proof is in the pudding. Does anyone do anything about this blatant corruption?

          Of course not — this is a great big in your face &^% you to all Americans.

          So why allow it? Why draw attention to the corruption? To what purpose?

          It’s the magician directing your attention to where he wants it….

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Congress Tells Court That Congress Can’t Be Investigated for Insider Trading

          Just another perk passed down from the el..ders …. to the minions….

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    Germany’s export-focused economy has been showing some signs of weakness, but no signs of an outright Financial-Crisis type collapse. So this data set released today by the German Statistical Agency doesn’t match those trends, and it doesn’t fit into the scenery. It could be an outlier, a statistical quirk, something that will be adjusted out of the way later. Or it could be a very unpleasant warning sign.

    The German Statistical Agency today reported that, based on preliminary data, exports in July plunged 10% compared to July last year (not seasonally adjusted), to €96.4 billion.

    And imports dropped 6.5% (not seasonally adjusted) year over year, to €76.9 billion. This slashed Germany’s trade surplus for July by 21% to €19.5 billion.

    Exports to the 28-member European Union plunged 7.0% to €56.3 billion, while imports from EU countries dropped 4.5% to €51.3 billion.

    And now it gets interesting, in the worst possible way…. Year-over-year Exports to “third countries” – countries outside the EU, particularly the US, which has become Germany’s largest trading partner in 2015, replacing France in that position – plummeted 13.8% to €40.1 billion.

    • Monthly numbers bounce around a lot, but still not good.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Explanations are being put together a mile a minute. The big one is this: In July 2015, exports were strong, at €107.1 billion, up 7.1% from the prior year. And so the theory goes that today’s report was so bad because a year ago, it was so good. It’s the “base effect.” That makes some sense. But wait…

        July 2015 exports were not as strong as March 2015 exports, and exports in March 2016 had the same base effect or bigger to deal with as those in July, but they edged down year-over-year only 0.6%, rather than plunging 10%.

        And besides, exports this July, at €96.4 billion were 3.6% lower than exports in July 2014! So something doesn’t quite add up.

        The fact the exports for the year so far are also declining doesn’t improve the rosy scenario.

        • There are many factors to this slow down, obviously the major one is the saturation of demand/credit, formerly “affluent” markets not consuming as before. But also several other producing countries are breathing on the German neck lately, for instance South Korea – China – India in segments like carz, machinery tools, and miscellaneous industrials..

    • Ed says:

      There is no one to attack. Russia has stuff worth stealing but they also have plenty of nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

  7. MG says:

    The trip I made today – the natural oil seep in Korňa, Slovakia, about 80 km from my home.


    My first contact with the crude oil: it smells like old motor oil or diesel fuel.

    • MG says:

      It is interesting, that the oil seeps were present and used before the first civilizations in Mesopotamia. And that the oil deposits seeping to the surface actually created the environment for the first civilizations.

      • I don’t think they created “an environment”

        what oil/bitumen seeps did was to aid in waterproofing ships planking, that sort of thing.

        It couldn’t be used in any energy-form, (other than fire itself) because the mechanisms to utilise it didn’t exist

        • MG says:

          Although there were no machines, the oil seeps were still used as sources of energy and higher technology: fire and waterproofing allowed the civilizations to grow beyond the energy and products from wood. Like the coal allowed the rise of Great Britain beyond the energy and products from wood.

          • MG says:

            The inhabitants of the village of Korna in Slovakia were also using the benefits of the given oil seep:

            “Although previous studies have confirmed that this is a very good oil, not shown here enough to make sense its industrial production. Local people in the past but could really use all that Mother Nature had to offer. Oil from the source used for example for lighting, lubrication cars or even shoes, or as a medicine for skin diseases of cattle.”


          • unless you are using oil to create explosive/rotative forces, you are not creating any form of ”higher civilisation”

            lubricating an axle on a cart is not re inventing the cart

            putting an engine on it is

            • MG says:

              If you do not have invest energy in cuting trees with low energy content and processing them and the oil with high energy content just seeps from the ground, you have a lot of net energy at the disposal, no matter how you use this oil.

            • the aztecs or the inca (I forget which)—made rubber shoes from the product of their rubber trees

              unfortunately they never figured out the wheel—-let alone tyres

    • Seeps have certainly been very common around the world. We have discovered a lot of oil through seeps.

  8. Yoshua says:

    Today is 15 years since the 911 attacks took place. PNAC needed a new Pearl Harbour to implement its policy of reconstruction of the Middle East. There are some indications that America allowed the attacks to take place.

    The “Enduring Freedom Wars” have nothing to do with the freedom of the ME but everything to do with the freedom of America. The ME has the last oil which without democracy and freedom of the western world would die.

    The wars are meant to fragmentize the ME into warring enclaves that are more easy to control by America. Europe is unfortunately just the dumping place for the refugee flood from these wars.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I am 100% certain you are correct.

      I am also 100% certain that the CIA was ultimately behind the chemical weapons that were dropped into Homs killing women and children — and blamed on Assad.

      ‘Whatever it takes’ does not only apply to matters of finance.

      If you think about it … how different is this from a lion slashing and eating a newborn antelope in front of its mother?

      We are predators as well…. we are animals….

      • Ed says:

        Yup. 100%

      • Yoshua says:

        Us or them. We have the guns. Well… we continental Europeans are second class killers, but we are allowed to share the meat… as long as there is enough. It will get tougher in the coming future.

      • Vince the Prince says:

        Again, speak for yourself and if others agree does not make it a fact.
        You ignore (again) cooperation and mutually beneficial relationships not only in human societies but in the natural world. Fast Eddie this is getting rather tiresome and stale.
        Time to change your underwear.

        Sorry, fella, your mindset is just an old tune of neo Darwinism.

        Please we heard it too many times already from you

        Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
        Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
        Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
        Oh Lord, kumbaya

        • Fast Eddy says:


          Did you not enjoy my short essay on the worship of the BAU god earlier? That’s new material no?

          I don’t fall back on the old stuff (such as Koombaya) so much these days because as a true ART-tiste (which believe I am – or at least aspire to be) always exploring new ways to express my inner self through original and provocative works (across a range of media)

          That said one must retain a foundation on which to base new works — Koombaya is a theme that runs through all my work … even if it is not mentioned or evident.

          DelusiSTAN is never far from my thoughts when I strike a key…. I may move on from that to where it becomes just a shadow of my contributions to world peace and harmony… but at the moment I feel it needs to remain front and centre…. the showcase….

          • Vince the Prince says:

            You know Sonnie, you share the same mindset as another notable case in recent past History, Adolf H., of Germany…..too bad, ain’t it….we can’t learn from past mistakes.
            No doubt the human psyche is stuck in a rut from a turn in the remote past. We discovered much on the past hundred years….Yes, too bad some can’t sing with
            Dino… Everybody loves somebody sometimes….or better yet


            Gail’s blog explores issues of energy, ect….yet we do not see or acknowledge the massive waste of it in our daily lives with needless conflict, which is based on a false image of division that creates disorder…..but that doesn’t matter to most….easier to carry a club than break free.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘yet we do not see or acknowledge the massive waste of it in our daily lives with needless conflict, which is based on a false image of division that creates disorder’

              Now that is funny — and I thought all this war carnage was a battle over resources – including energy — in a finite world with a growing population — who demand as many of those resources as they can possible get their hands on…

              And fortunately that is the mindset of your leaders —-because if your leaders followed your advice… you and everyone else in your country would be living like this


            • Vince the Prince says:

              Yes, see it…now what……????
              Make yourself useful for a change!

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Vince… listen …. can you hear it? … ‘come to us…. come to us Vince… you will be among friends over here’


            • Vince the Prince says:

              Listen, one would rather look at the external and fret about it rather than explore and discover the internal ….the source of the disorder. It is not outside….look …devote ones/your life to it! You want me or some book or some blog post to answer it for you? Is that what you are seeking? Just another form of conditioning until another book, person comes along for one to grasp at.
              Continue as you are here…..repeat, rinse …see where that gets you…and that is addressed to all.
              The format of WordPress can’t possibility induce a proper dialog…
              Obvious this is a contest, a debate the responder wishes to “win”….
              Now post a picture of Charlie Sheen
              You see where this is leading and the blame is placed on Leaders, PTB, Farmers, the Fed,and a hundred other variables, but the source of it all is not faced!
              Hope to change….tomorrow…..not realizing change is not based on time….time ….
              Either one does or doesn’t.
              Yes, well approach the limit of 1500-2000 comments here and Gail will need to hash put another…and the same old comments will reappear…..oh, but there is new “developments”, waiting for the shoe to drop.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Obvious this is a contest, a debate the responder wishes to “win”

              I am quite happy to be proved wrong … because the means I have learned something on that day.

              So far I am learning nothing.

              Death to Farmers. Death to Scott Nearing. And Toby Hemmingway.

              They have lead humans up the garden path.

              That said — farmers did make it possible for us to experience BAU in all its glory…. so in that respect I am all good with the farming thing… from Toby to Monstanto I am good….

              What I take issue with is people who believe that returning to permaculture is sustainable – or that it ever was.

              It is part and parcel of BAU — it is right up there with oil and coal and finance in creating the world that we have now …

              BAU is not sustainable – nor is farming. They are both destructive activities that will result in our extinction.

            • Tim Groves says:

              The format of WordPress can’t possibility induce a proper dialog…

              That’s not true, Vince. If two or more correspondents earnestly wish to have a proper dialogue, WordPress can facilitate that admirably. Or alternatively, they could make use of pigeons or semaphore to convey their communications. The problem is that relatively few people who use WordPress wish to engage in a proper dialogue.

        • A Real Black Person says:

          “Sorry, fella, your mindset is just an old tune of neo Darwinism.”

          In the natural world there is just about as much competition as cooperation. Nature is all about balance.

          You seem to be confusing co-existence with cooperation. If you live in BAU area, it’s unclear as to how ,exactly, you cooperate with most people within 100 miles of you. Most of them do not do anything directly that benefits you and vice versa.. You do not work closely with most people within that range. You don’t have even weak ties to most people in that range.

          • Vince the Prince says:

            The question I pose to you, Real Black Person, can there be competition among humans without disorder? Meaning that is directed in the enhancement of not only the community, society, but individual? Of course, there is a balance in nature…there can not be life here on earth without death…a balance. It is obvious humans have distorted it…so what are we doing about? Looking after our self interest by moving across the globe seeking a safe spot for ourselves and ranting about the dire straits of the mess we created of our lives?
            How intelligent is that?!

      • Sungr says:

        But Yoshua, the military operations of empires do not bring freedom to the home country. They eventually bring conditions of wartime to the home country with often a major loss of freedom.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Not necessarily — British subjects did quite well during and after empire… as have the subjects of various other empires…

          • Sungr says:

            Back to 1946 with a Britain bankrupted from two World Wars…..the choice was either to let the empire go and retain a semblance of democratic function. Or to try to maintain the empire by force (and probably go bankrupt). So we see the empire being dismantled in the late 1940s.

            Of course, the Brits had a great big friend in the USA- which had emerged from a two-front war with an intact manufacturing sector, control over the the new global financial system, and a bristling military establishment.

      • Very true, but sometimes “the karma” or “the spirits” seem to gladly engage in a nice sardonic blow-back performance. Like yesterday, just on the anniversary of the event, when they had to haul away the “collapsing into own footprint” reptile candidate in disguised medic van. The video of it is indeed very creepy, both the behavior of the security detail as well as the candidate’s severe health issue, most likely some sort of ongoing acute neurological decay..

      • xabier says:

        ‘Man is Wolf to Man’. Nothing got past the Romans, a very realistic race.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          ‘Man is Wolf to Man’. Nothing got past the Romans, a very realistic race

          If you go looking for them, there are lot of precursor thoughts similar to orthodox evolutionary psychology. One of the best can be found here:

          “… this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds.”

          When humans got organized enough that the big cats were not effective in keeping their numbers under control, humans had to become their own predators. But not all the time, only when the genetic advantages of fighting were better than the alternative, which typically was starving.

          As long as the future looked good, fighting was not effective for the genes. If it looked bleak, xenophobic memes did well, and eventually people followed a crazy leader into battle with the neighbors.

          Translated into modern terms, as long as the economy grows as fast or faster than the population, people stay out of war mode. I mentioned before (and many of you seem to have read) evolutionary psychology, memes and the origin of war. It’s a dismal subject, kind of like Fast Eddy, but with scientific backing.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Keith – this is far more interesting and insightful than your solar space posts…

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Keith – this is far more interesting and insightful than your solar space posts…”

              It’s a seamless part of the same world view. If you want to stay out of wars and related social disruptions, then you have to solve problems such as energy. There may not be an earthbound solution to energy (the topic of this blog), in which case the only sensible solution is to go into space.

            • to end the space enegy discussion, i can only suggest we have a whip round to buy keith a space ticket

            • Stefeun says:

              We should ban the word “solution”.
              Inadequate, meaningless and misleading.

          • zakly

            there is much crowing about the benefits of the EU etc having kept Europe free of it’s “once in a generation” tradition of war that’s gone on for centuries’ (1815–1870–1914—1939 the pattern is very clear

            It’s nothing of the kind.

            most of us have been reasonably well off, so had no need to fight one another.

            As resources begin to diminish and mass hardship kicks in, the european wars will start again

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Once a generation wars” go back much further, right into the stone age. The reason we have not had major wars in Europe since WW II is due to economic growth and the low birth rate keeping “war mode” off. It is utterly mechanistic. And, since some places the birth rate is an intractable problem, depressing.

            • i know that—i wasn’t going to list all the wars

            • xabier says:

              And no colonial empires over which to fight: the prizes were enormous in the 17th to mid-20th centuries – winner takes Asia, Africa, etc.

    • A Real Black Person says:

      The wars are there to keep local consumption of oil supply to as close as zero as oil depletion takes course but there are flaws with this approach because foods grown with Middle East oil continue to be exported back into the region, where it is transformed into more humans. Allowing refugees to escape, to Europe and America, does not keep consumption down because demand shifts from the Middle East to wealthier countries where refugees can consume more oil.

      I know that “freedom is messy” but I I can’t help but think “freedom doesn’t have much of a plan. Freedom might be getting by on brute force and dumb luck nowadays “.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        There is always some sort of blowback from our efforts to maintain BAU…. terrorism is one of them — but it is manageable…. a pin prick at best…

        In fact terrorism is quite helpful…. it can be used to herd the sheep….

        Fear is another trigger… money … fear…. appeals to vanity are also useful….that ties in with sex… another useful trigger

        • xabier says:

          More people, one suspects, die from tripping up on carpets than from terrorism: in the West that is.

          In a wider perspective, 9/11 was but a pin-prick.

          Different story in the Mid-East and Central Asia…..

    • Christian says:

      Gulf monarchies (not only Saoud family) are complaining US congress is about to allow its citizens to sue other countries (which is forbidden right now). It’s interesting, because it helps a little to reframe 9/11 narrative:

      a) The official one states that crazy “terrorists” did attacked the US

      b) The revisionist narrative says the attack was planned/allowed by western PTB to better control its populations and get acces to Iraqi oil

      c) I think we should add to b the interest of Gulf monarchies, which was at that time to tansform Iraq in a weak state, given Saddan had already invaded Kuwait. So they hijacked the planes to force Washington to invade Iraq and balkanize it

  9. Record harvests – oversupply again, perhaps the time to pile into devastated food/agri ETFs is approaching fast, as this can’t last forever..

    • Kurt says:

      We are very good at growing food. Very good.

      • MG says:

        Why producing so much food, why extract so much oil, when the demand is lower than supply? The less fertile soil and the oil fields with more costly oil need will be abandoned. The lack of profits, i.e. surplus energy for the population of workers, will finally kill the extraction of more and more costly resources.

        • Everyone hopes to gain some profit for themselves (by producing more food, oil or whatever), even though the demand is lower than supply. As long as banks will lend money to keep this pattern going, it can hang together for a bit. But it is definitely not something that can continue for the long term.

      • Sungr says:

        When commodity producers, with significant debt loads, encounter a drop in market price, they may accelerate production to have enough income(at lower unit prices) to keep the doors open and the creditors minimally satisfied- or in disarray. And they may keep producing right into lower and lower prices.

        And so they hope to be around when prices turn back up.

  10. michaelrynn says:

    Global Carbon Budgets for 2 degrees are going to overrun very soon. Hopes based on renewable energy are obviously going to fail. No time left to build near enough of it, even if it would technically work. Not much time to learn to live with much less. The technology is a poor “plugin” replacement, but help may support a different lifestyle to what we are used to. No nation anywhere has reached a compatible solution with zero emissions and western lifestyle, which has past sustainable limits, so we are chasing an impossible solution.
    Time is up. The complexity rule for civilization by Tainter holds true again. The only things that are possible after global climate and industrial collapse involve “simplicity” and “less” and “local carrying capacity”.
    A controlled civilization collapse with abandonment of wealth based on fossil fuel use is the only remaining choice to heed the global 2° warming danger. Denial and past human folly says we rich people choose to continue unto collapse crunch, with cascading failures, some time after we have sealed global climate extinction with our last industrial carbon emissions.
    Required rates of emissions cuts are not impossible. Collapse crunch will make them easy. Maintaining the current lifestyle of developed nations is impossible. What is our moral choice?
    Met a man in a nursing home today who was 93 years old. Life expectancy of “developed nations” can expect a rapid fall. At 60 years, wonder how long I will stick around to see it all happen.

    • Sungr says:

      “A controlled civilization collapse with abandonment of wealth based on fossil fuel use is the only remaining choice to heed the global 2° warming danger.”

      The quarrelsome ape is going to blow through 2C at about 175mph and never look back.

    • Artleads says:

      “The only things that are possible after global climate and industrial collapse involve ‘simplicity’ and ‘less’ and ‘local carrying capacity’”.

      But it would be so much better to choose simplicity and less right now. Today. What could we be waiting for?

      And what’s the justification for these predictions? It’s often said the the best way to predict the future is to create it. There’s not much creating going on.

      “A controlled civilization collapse with abandonment of wealth based on fossil fuel use is the only remaining choice to heed the global 2° warming danger. Denial and past human folly says we rich people choose to continue unto collapse crunch, with cascading failures, some time after we have sealed global climate extinction with our last industrial carbon emissions.”

      There’s plenty of past human folly, but the entire planet had never been mapped and studied till today. With a smidgen of common sense, we ought be able to see that we’re all interconnected, and that we’re killing ourselves. That should be a slight aid to rational thinking.

      “Required rates of emissions cuts are not impossible. Collapse crunch will make them easy. Maintaining the current lifestyle of developed nations is impossible. What is our moral choice?”

      The choice is very very easy: Grow some sense of aesthetic awareness. Study art and art history. The solutions are staring us in the face, and they offer a much higher style (or even standard) of living, one not based on waste and a false sense of beauty.

      “Met a man in a nursing home today who was 93 years old. Life expectancy of ‘developed nations’ can expect a rapid fall. At 60 years, wonder how long I will stick around to see it all happen.”

      This conclusion is groundless. Cuba has a marginally higher life expectancy than the US. And, statistically compared to the US, Cuba has no money at all.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        “This conclusion is groundless. Cuba has a marginally higher life expectancy than the US. And, statistically compared to the US, Cuba has no money at all.”

        Cuba is doing so well. That is why they have been moving away from a planned economy in recent years. Because is working so well for them.

        Cuba is still an industrialized country, technically. It could only get by with very few “spare parts” as Gail likes to call it, for only so long. It has abandoned its isolationism, for a reason.

        • Cuba is an enclosed space

          as such it was able to be controlled by a dictator

          If Cuba had had physical borders, this would be been very difficult—as it was, people wanted to escape as fast as possible.
          Cuba has been freewheeling for the last 50 years, pretending to be an ideal marxist (or whatever) state, but in reality they were propped up by russia.

          When russia pulled the plug they started going into freefall. They have been cushioned until now my an equable climate —move Cuba to the latitude of Finland and they would almost all die within months

          • Artleads says:

            Lots of IFS. If the US hadn’t had two oceans to its sides and weak neighbors north and south, It wouldn’t have been the economic and cultural miracle it’s been. I’m missing something here.

            • A Real Black Person says:

              There were no IFS in Norman Pagett’s post. Cuba had the support of the Soviet Union until about 1991. It is an industrial society that has managed to stay intact with very few imports until about the 2004. when it entered into an economic relationship with Venezuela. It’s a good thing they didn’t put all their eggs into one basket and extended a fig leaf to the Obama administration because Venezuela is out of the picture and they need or want more imports.

            • the usa is somewhat different in scale to cuba

              the usa could become a self generating expansionist empire within itself for 200+ years—ie there was always fresh ground to plough, resources seemed infinite..

              all this was irrespective of politics, dictators weren’t necessary, people just got on with carving out the ”american dream”.
              Bear in mind that we have only had democracy for as long as we have had a “expansionist” economy. That’s how democracies exist.. (and no Ancient Greece was not a democracy, it was a slave supported society)

              dictators arise when resources begin to run short—which is what is going to happen in the USA this century.
              How?–because when resources run short—primarily food, fuel–and jobs, people get annoyed and blame politicians.
              But politicos are as powerless as anybody else, except that they control the military (they pay their wages).

              So civil unrest has to be put down—this cannot be done by a democratic process.
              At this point a dictator steps in.

              This is what will happen if Trump gets elected (or Hillary for that matter)
              Trump will prove inept, the economy will begin to crash, the next POTUS will have to take control (2020) of inevitable civil unrest.

              Kiss your democracy goodbye—-and welcome to cuba

          • Cuba has also kept its population down, partly by not building new housing. Multiple generation had to live in the same small houses, and this discouraged large families. Also, any Cuban who set foot in the US was automatically allowed to migrate to the US, also helping keep population down. Haiti is the island country closest to Cuba. It followed a very different pattern.

        • Artleads says:

          Well, people of a certain mindset–lots of them–think that Cuba has been pretty valiant to withstand such great pressure from the north while somehow managing free education and health care, with little crime (oh yes, they lock up everybody like they do US side, don’t they?). And let’s include fighting South African Apartheid and being the first responders in massive disasters like in Haiti. Oh, the perfidy! Fifty years is a respectable time to last in such an unusual manner, even were their story to end today.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Cuba would not have been so valiant had they not had Russian oil arriving in port during the cold war….

        • Cuba is an island country that has a hard time generating electricity cheaply. When electricity is high-priced, it is hard to make goods for the export market.

          Encouraging better relations with the US was intended to increase tourist trade with US. Otherwise, Cuba was running into financial difficulties.

          • Artleads says:

            From the sound of it, to “to make goods for the export market.” will only be a temporary expedient, since I take it that the export market will soon enough evaporate.

            What I also had been trying to express to some above is that, with all its difficulties, Cuba maintained admirable PRINCIPLES–free education, free health care, international emergency assistance, among others. I’m sure there are places with better economic circumstances that have failed to abide by such principles.

            Now, if people insist on giving me some energy equation as to why there are principles, I’ll vomit and that will be the end of it.

            • A Real Black Person says:

              Maybe, like Russia was good at rocket science and science in general, Cuba spent most of their surplus resources on specializing in medicine so they had something to trade for commodities. I don’t think everyone has access to free education in Cuba. I’m pretty sure it’s a competitive system, like in any other country with limited resources.

            • democracy is effectively a reasonable standard of living for the majority

              you cannot sustain collective principles without collective prosperity, and you cannot sustain a ”majority” level of collective prosperity without considerable energy surplus.

              note—-i use the word ”collective” here—-as individuals we can act as we please, but we are bound to the movement of the herd whether we like/admit it or not

            • Artleads says:

              “I don’t think everyone has access to free education in Cuba.”

              Cuba has:

              “* Universal access to primary and secondary school:”


              ” I’m pretty sure it’s a competitive system, like in any other country with limited resources.”

              Which are the countries that don’t have limited resources and which are the ones that do? Can you distinguish their respective educational systems, even tentatively?

            • ”free” education at whatever level, is like ”free” healthcare–or for that matter like ”free” fire services

              none of it is free, it’s paid for out of taxation surpluses.

              as we head back to medieval living standards, then none of the above will be available because we won’t have the surpluses to finance them.

              millions will make screaming demands that they should be universally free, but the means will not exist.

            • See Figure 1 in your link. Cuba is absolutely outstanding at the 3rd grade education level, compared to peer countries, in education.

              If there is problem more recently in education, I would expect that it has to do with “tuition”–something mentioned in your link. Families are much poorer now, because payment for work has stayed the same ($20 per month), but what is being provided free has dropped way back. People have to buy a whole lot more food outside the $20, and replacements for appliances such as refrigerators have to come out of the $20.

              Based on my visit to Cuba in 2015, people are now being encouraged to be more entrepreneurial, and generate income this way. This has resulted in an economy that has more “haves” and “have nots.” Some of the entrepreneurship is OK (starting restaurants, or growing wheat) but some of it looks more like glorified begging from tourists.

            • Artleads says:

              Norm said:

              “…as we head back to medieval living standards, then none of the above will be available because we won’t have the surpluses to finance them.”

              I know all this. This thread started over a concern about doing with less. To my way of thinking, Cuba has done more with less when it comes to the common good than any other nation I’m aware of. I’m suggesting that some of this had to do with human decisions, and not only with the abstract availability of energy. And I’m sure we disagree on this…which is OK.

              Why Cuba’s example as a modern country with severe shortages shouldn’t supply examples for other modern countries facing increasing shortages, I wouldn’t know. I don’t think we’re heading to a place where nation states can exist as they do now, but one can only guess what that will look like. Cuba has an extensive pattern of neighborhood and sub-neighborhood planning that is similar to what I see as the most feasible prospect for modern countries: breaking down big groups into smaller, more self-managing ones.

              I hear that Russia, on balance, has a large percentage of domiciles with food gardens. If so, that sounds like a step in the direction of where modern nations need to go.

              Western capitalist nations seem less prepared to deal with less than former communist ones.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘I’m suggesting that some of this had to do with human decisions’

              This is nonsense.


              I was staying in a hotel in Cuba — my wife had a cold and we asked to get some panadol – they sent ‘the medical team up’ who insisted on blood tests and a whole lot of other crap hoping to run up a big bill. I sent them packing and went to the shop to look for the meds…

              I also understand that prostitution is rife in Cuba — most women are available… you want a 15 yr old – go to Cuba…. I was told that most of the women in the Tropicana show are for sale…

              I GUARANTEE you — if we ran the test — the houses, the jet, the money — every single Cuban would take that offer….

              There is no utopia

              Humans do NOT generally agree or desire to accept less — they will generally always opt for more if it is available.

              And many – if it is not — will steal for it — kill for it — and sell their bodies for it.

              We are genetically coded to seek more.

              Try cutting the pensions or hourly wages of a worker… particularly those with unions. Try increasing the taxes on a millionaire. We do not willingly accept less.

              You are living in a delusional world. A world where people dance around the camp fire and share everything and there is only love… and peace…. Utter utter nonsense! It does not exist. It never has. It never will.

              The 60’s hippies quickly realized that – and they got jobs – or they ended up as bums on the street.

              And for those fools out there who are willing to give up some of their more — let me know — I’ll post my banking details here.

            • Artleads says:

              “We are genetically coded to seek more.”

              Sources for this conclusion? Meanwhile, I’ve always been interested in having less. Not in losing what I most depend on, mind you. Not in starving. Just less than what many others think is normal. “Less” than I could acquire if I cared to. And, beyond that, after a certain point, “more” just weighs you down. Hunter Gatherers were uninterested in lugging around a lot of “more.” It would have been counterproductive.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And I have over-written the genetic code that urges the species to procreate…. it can be done… but few do it…

              Are you interested in less because having more is quite difficult?

              What about if I made it easy for you… let’s say I offered you:

              – a private jet all expenses paid for the rest of your life
              – 5 houses in locations of your choice all expenses paid for the rest of your life
              – USD20,000,000 per year after tax inflation adjusted for the rest of your life

              Would you turn this down?

            • i never did figure out that over-writing part

              world overpopulation is all my fault—(well half my fault)—I didn’t do it on my own.

              But eventually I was taken to the vet, so the world is safe now

            • There are an awfully lot of young people today who feel that it is OK to eat the full amount of food a restaurant or fast food place serves them. Overweight is a big problem, related to what people eat, and how little they exercise. It does seem to be genetically coded.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              A friend of mine owns a couple of Harvey’s Burger franchises in Canada… he opposes ‘super sizing…

              However as he pointed out — when McDonalds stuffs 3x as many fries into the pack and charges only 10% more…. you have no choice but to match them….

            • DJ says:

              You eat what is on your plate, unless there is something wrong with it. It it is too much food you just don’t eat as often.

          • Artleads says:

            “See Figure 1 in your link. Cuba is absolutely outstanding at the 3rd grade education level, compared to peer countries, in education.”

            Thanks Gail. You make this very clear. Like we’re saying the decline globally in what we get for our money has even graver effects on isolated Cuba. You clarify the need for the opening to America. I doubt, however, that this will decrease inequality. But there’ll be more pie to divide up unequally? No known way out, as with every other place, I’m sure.

            Still, with all the grave problems, Cuba is the first to respond to the Haiti earthquake or the West Africa ebola outbreak. You never hear about that in the news, for reasons that don’t seem unrelated to the general grim global situation.

        • Artleads says:

          “There were no IFS in Norman Pagett’s post. ”

          Here’s one very obvious example. At least one more is implied.

          “If Cuba had had physical borders, this would be been very difficult—as it was, people wanted to escape as fast as possible.”

          • A Real Black Person says:

            “. I’m missing something here.” You certainly are. Lets us connect the dots. Pagett said Cuba was able to power down because it did not have “physical borders” . What I think Pagett meant is that Cuba was not surrounded by other countries that could interfere with its policies.

            What also made Cuba successful is that it has a million less people living in, which makes it much easier for the government to provide modest universal services.
            The countries that have accepted Cuban immigrants should be given credit for helping Fidel continue to provide free education and healthcare. Those are the only things Cuba can provide to its people. If someone wants an actual job or adequate food, they are on their own.

            “famine in Cuba during the Special Period was caused by political and economic factors similar to the ones that caused a famine in North Korea in the mid-1990s. Both countries were run by authoritarian regimes that denied ordinary people the food to which they were entitled when the public food distribution collapsed; priority was given to the elite classes and the military. In North Korea, 3%–5% of the population died; in Cuba the death rate among the elderly increased by 20% from 1982 to 1993.”[13] The regime did not accept American donations of food, medicines and cash until 1993.[13] Thirty thousand Cubans fled the country; thousands drowned or were killed by sharks.”[Wikipedia]

            It is easy to romanticize this difficult transition in Cuba’s history as it tried to be self reliant, especially if you weren’t the one starving. A lot of people weren’t willing to suffer for Cuban self reliance and fled or died trying. Cuba had the right idea but there was a lot of resistance to adopting a more difficult lifestyle. I imagine any effort at a controlled decline will resemble an economic depression, with considerable human suffering.

            • cuba and n.korea are prime examples of what wll happen come shtf time

              dictators have the certainty that their way is the only way.

              all other ways are treason—which is why dissenters get shot, to encourage the others.

              while things may last for years in that state, the reality is that they are ultimately short term because they have no real economic base.

              the real danger with n korea is that kim will let off his nukes before he goes under.

            • Artleads says:

              ” Cuba had the right idea but there was a lot of resistance to adopting a more difficult lifestyle.”

              Who said change was easy? But when your back is against the wall–it’s change or die–guess what people do? Part of it, too, is that capitalist “zombies”–all of us–have a warped sense of values, of beauty even. We like what we’ve been programmed to like. So we see alternate ways of living as more difficult and unpleasant than they need to be.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Because they are unpleasant…and difficult.

              I have had a fair bit of contact with the 3rd world.

              People sell their daughters to whore houses — because life is unpleasant and difficult — eldest girls in families willingly join the whoring profession — to earn money so that their siblings can attend school.

              In fact I set up a small school in one village (run by a women who’s mother was a whore — she grew up in an orphanage and was fortunate enough to be sent to nursing school by kind person) in Asia to teach the kids English and other skills so that they might get overseas jobs as domestic helpers … so I know a bit about how things work….

              How would you like to live in a place where being one of the prettiest girls in the class is a ticket to fame and fortune — because the siren song of the whore house beckons… it’s either that … or a live of drudgery stooped over in a rice field…

              I have been inside an abandoned gold mine in the Philippines where young men were peddling in the brutal heat and humidity to bring up mud from a tiny hole in the ground into which another guy had climbed and was 20 metres down with water dripping in shoveling the mud into a bucket hoping it might have some gold in it. That was the closest thing I have seen to what some refer to as a hell on earth.

              I’ve seen men in places where unemployment is well over 50% — and the jobs that are available barely pay enough to feed a family — men who if they could earn a living would probably be decent and hard working … but because of the frustration with their situation spend their tiny salaries on drugs…

              I know people who as kids — recall eating only rice with salt – one meal per day — because there was nothing else.

              You are living in a dream world.

              You are romantacizing something in which there is no romance.

              You have not the slightest clue what ‘unpleasant and difficult’ really mean.

              Every person in this hell hole would gladly take you up on an offer to swap places…


            • thank you for hitting as hard as that Eddy

              It was something that needed saying and something very few of us know of at first hand

              Thanks again

            • Artleads says:

              “while things may last for years in that state, the reality is that they are ultimately short term because they have no real economic base.”

              Sounds like Western Industrial civilization. Unless you don’t think 250 years is a really, really short time, or that the end of it is nigh.

              Oh, and I wouldn’t conflate N. Korea and Cuba. Two quite different places. Cuba has 11% of Latin America’s doctors, providing medical assistance throughout the world. It responds promptly to emergencies such as ebola outbreaks and catastrophic earthquakes…quite a substantial humanitarian record.

            • The drop in oil usage was much greater in North Korea than in Cuba as well. I am not sure the EIA data is right–I understand IEA data is different (more severe for Cuba). This is a chart I put together comparing the two consumption amounts using EIA data.

              oil consumption North Korea, Cuba

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Castro did have a sense of humour 🙂

              Criminals ‘in exodus from Cuba’: US fears Castro emptying his jails – into Florida

              During the last exodus of Cubans in 1980, Mr Castro created a crisis for the White House by sending criminals, drug addicts and mentally retarded people to the US.


              “Give me your rapists, your murderers,
              Your mentally retarded yearning to breathe free,
              The wretched scum of your teeming shore.
              Send these, the crack addicts, tempest-tost to me,
              I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

          • Artleads says:

            “You are living in a dream world.”

            I was born and grew up in the third world. I’m very well aware of what I’m saying. I emigrated to the US after being shot at and warned to get out or be killed. My neighbor was shot at a dance and died, and the general violence was put in the same bracket as Columbia’s.

            I’m now talking about Cuba, where there is nothing like the violence of my native land. Many of the hardships and scarcity of Cuba would not by themselves prevent me from wanting to live there. What prevents me from wanting to live there might be the feeling of being intellectually cut off. I also like to be in charge. No chance of that happening there.

            I love living in the US, with its immense wealth, its ungovernable hordes, its huge diversity of types and opportunities, the vast resources of order. I like it all the more because my two-person household feels incomparably rich on small savings and under 2K in monthly income. Some people reading this might make that much when they sneeze.

            America, which has been a paradise for many is now said to be facing abject decline, its centralized global economy set to go bust in a matter sending those who survive into far beyond a Mad Max scenario. Anyone alive would wish to die. If Cuba can somehow not totally collapse, despite the prostitutes, pimps, lowlife and beggars, and $20/mo income, and I can feel most privileged on 2K/mo, Americans should have some options left.

            Just saying.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘What prevents me from wanting to live there might be the feeling of being intellectually cut off’

              Are you sure that is all? I think you could still access Finite World… what more is there in terms of intellectual stimulation … other than books?

              You could even have a 16 yr old girlfriend —- or 10 of them….

              As the saying goes — poverty is a powerful aphrodisiac…

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘Not much time to learn to live with much less’

      Less will quickly become nothing will quickly mean starvation and spent fuel ponds will quickly lead to extinction

      Our most recent history shows that the slightest slowdown of our current economy by just a few percentage points brings an immediate chaos of unemployment and global destabilisation. Yet somehow that won’t apply to a permanent ‘downsizing’; that seems to follow a different set of social rules, as if we can do it and still retain a civilised existence. And of course without downsizing wages too much. We will still expect to eat, buy ‘stuff’ and carry on in employment and even retain our wheels, with the strange certainty that as long as we have wheels, we will have prosperity by involving ourselves in the exchanges of trade that will not differ much to what we have now.

  11. A Real Black Person says:

    Upon reading this and inputting renewable energy topics into multiple search engines, I can say with certainty ….that I really hate Cleantechnia. There’s so much misinformation on that site.

  12. CTG says:

    Let me share a thought – Calhoun mice experiment. Looking at the big picture, I would think the start of the experiment on humans started a long time ago and it gets progressively worse. We are definitely at the end game now with so many articles on transgender, political correctness, stupid laws/regulations that defies logic, power grab, cry-babies and people more interested in totally idiotic things and forget about real and pressing issues that may be extinction level events.

    Our minds are unable to wrap around those things as we are not suppose to evolve so fast. One of the commenters, Yoshua talked about the Circadian cycled. We humans screwed that up totally when light bulbs were invented. There is no “day or night” anymore. Our bodies are actually suffering for the last 100s of years due to this invention. It is just not possible to force our bodies to adapt to that change that fast.

    Just 30 years ago, we do not have all the transgender issues and I would believe Gail will be able to recall that advertisements in the 1960s are totally “sexists” and unacceptable to the present day people. The stereotyping has happened for hundreds of thousands of years and biology/nature has dictated the roles of male and female. Male and females are different and they fulfill their biological roles different. Who are we to come in and say that this is wrong. Sometimes, I just wonder the arrogance of humanity.

    If you read through the mice experiment carefully, the 1980s for humans are probably at the same stage of the peak of the mice experiment before all these weird behaviours happen.

    It is so easy and clear for everyone to see and in the statistics terms, the R-square is probably close to one but rest assured, there will be thousands of people who will disagree to it and debate endlessly while the gigantic “evolution steamroller” will just crush all of us.

  13. Kook says:

    The wind, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear. Before the era of steamengines, windmills were tried for draining mines; but though they were powerful machines, they were very irregular, so that in a long tract of calm weather the mines were drowned, and all the workmen thrown idle.

    William Stanley Jevons, 1865

  14. Pingback: Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity –

  15. Kook says:

    Banks replaced cheap energy with cheap money and then firewalled themselves off from the real economy. In effect relationship banking was replaced by transaction volume. Banks prosper via poverty, crime, etc. Why put up with this bloody nonsense?

    • dolph says:

      Because the banks own you.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        No, dolph.
        Cheap money has replaced cheap energy because one creates the illusion of wealth while real wealth, which is defined by the availability,and effort required to produce physical goods , has been declining.

        Cheap money and its twin easy credit has many benefits to the businesses and consumers, because cheap credit and its twin easy credit allow businesses and consumers to…consume more now, which makes economies look more healthy than they really are. When it comes time to pay the debt, the businesses find that they have inadequate revenue in some cases to pay the debt, and consumers are dogged until they do. If a consumer default or declare bankruptcy he/she may have a hard time getting a new job because of credit checks. The system was always set up so that capitalists, i.e. bankers, the central planners in our economy, would do very well, but now since there is a lot less real wealth being created than in the past, it looks like the banks are profiting at the expense of everyone else. What people who like to blame the banks for wealth inequality keep forgetting is that if borrowers cannot pay back their loans, the banks eventually go bankrupt themselves. The banks escaped bankruptcy because if they are allowed to fail, civilization grinds to a halt because everything is dependent on long supply chains, that work with the help of banks.

  16. Ed says:

    Cheap energy is just another kicking the can down the road. Limiting human reproduction is the one root issue in a finite world. There are two options:

    1) nature lowers quality of life for humans so low that the yearly number of deaths equals the yearly number of births

    2) humankind limits the number of births so that we can have a decent standard of living

    Yes, yes, we are so far into over shoot that any transition will be a horror.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Yes, in a finite world, if human population isn’t limited by human effort, nature will do the job in its own time and in its own way. And the results are likely to be horrific for the people who have to live or die during the transition period.

    • psile says:

      Since our numbers are still increasing at a staggering rate – 90 million so far in 2016, up from 89 million for all of 2015, then it’s clear nature will have to do the job for us. Human population is on track to reach 10 billion by 2050. Other reports suggest as high as 11 billion!

      Reference Link

      And in this epic piece of “flatland thinking”, a recent University of Queensland study found that “despite population and economic growth that human impact on the planet has slowed…”

      The study found that the global population grew 23 per cent and the global economy grew 153 per cent between 1993 and 2009, but humanity’s footprint grew only nine per cent.

      So how is that possible?

      Because, quoting from the same study;

      “Three quarters of the planet is now significantly altered by human activity and 97 per cent of the most species-rich places on Earth have been seriously altered.”. Lol!

      In other words, we’ve expanded into all the territory, good and marginal, that’s available for human exploitation and all that’s left are the deserts and the poles!

      A grim fate awaits us…

  17. Kook says:

    The mass of a closed universe should be zero. This suggests the universe came into existence without energy expenses. The energy to create matter must have been borrowed from the gravitational field. More matter to fuel expansion means higher negative gravitational energy so the total energy balance is still 0.

    Human progress is only possible by studying the extreme states of matter. Both “renewables” and nuclear fission produce medieval modes of human thought. Even nuclear fusion is rather primitive but at least its more or less still within the realm of studying “fire”.

    • “The energy to create matter must have been borrowed from the gravitational field. More matter to fuel expansion means higher negative gravitational energy so the total energy balance is still 0.”

      I had never thought of this possibility!

      • smite says:

        Except that the energy in the gravitational field surrounding an atom is a gazillion times less than in the atom itself. It just won’t add up.

    • Tim Groves says:

      The mass of a closed universe should be zero.

      I was unable to wrap my head around that statement. My thinking runs like this:

      In physics, mass is the property of matter that measures its resistance to acceleration. The mass of the Universe is dependent on the amount of matter (and anti-matter) it contains. We can imagine our Universe as a closed universe containing equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, so that if all the particles of matter and anti-matter came into contact, they would annihilate each other so that there was no longer any matter/anti-matter and therefore no mass. But as long as the matter and anti-matter exist, they both have the property of mass.

  18. Davidh says:

    This source says 19% of California electricity goes to pumping water. I bet that with more planning on storage, all that intermittent energy (12% of total) from wind and solar could be very easily used.


    • Yep, that’s a good way of thinking, similarly fridges, thermal solar heating, community bread baking, slow cookers etc. There are many ways on the cheap how to cut drastically personal consumption both in energy and money spending, however very few will do that either before first blackouts/gov rationing or severe push up pricing..

      However, that’s usually not applicable for much of the legacy infrastructure incl. services and industries..

    • The article you link to is from 2012. I don’t know whether the situation is better or worse now.

      My big objection to solar PV is trying to put the electricity on the electric grid, thereby creating problems in grid management and high costs. If solar is going to be used, it should be used for something simple, like pumping water. Of course, an old-fashioned windmill would accomplish the same thing, at a whole lot lower cost.

      I understand that special pumps are needed to work with solar panels. This website gives some interesting information: It sounds like most conventional pumps work on 230 volt alternating current. Getting solar panels to provide 230 volt alternating current is non-trivial–hence the need for special pumps that can run on lower voltage.

      Another consideration is the kind of inverter used. According to this website :

      there are two kinds of inverters: pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters. All AC devices are made to run off of pure sine wave power. Modified sine wave is a version of AC power that is trying to replicate AC power, but unfortunately does not achieve an exact replica of it. Modified sine wave inverters are much less expensive, however, many sensitive electronic devices require the exact replica of AC power that a Pure sine wave inverter produces. Examples of devices running poorly on modified sine wave include portable tool chargers, high end TVs and stereos, CPAP machines and microwaves.

      Needless to say, the electric company needs to handle the poor solar PV electricity that gets dumped on the grid, and convert it to the form really needed by water pumps actually in place.

      • The problem is that even small quality well pumps are due to longevity/efficiency now mostly 3phase only, albeit with small power output (low amperage), which makes it one level harder to work off grid.. basically you need 3phase generator, and that’s not easy or cheap..

        • Thanks for pointing this out. This is a link to the Wikipedia page on Three phase electric power.

          A few excerpts from that page:

          Three-phase electric power is a common method of alternating-current electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. It is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by electrical grids worldwide to transfer power. It is also used to power large motors and other heavy loads. A three-phase system is usually more economical than an equivalent single-phase at the same line to ground voltage because it uses less conductor material to transmit electrical power.

          In a symmetric three-phase power supply system, three conductors each carry an alternating current of the same frequency and voltage amplitude relative to a common reference but with a phase difference of one third the period. The common reference is usually connected to ground and often to a current-carrying conductor called the neutral. Due to the phase difference, the voltage on any conductor reaches its peak at one-third of a cycle after one of the other conductors and one-third of a cycle before the remaining conductor. This phase delay gives constant power transfer to a balanced linear load. It also makes it possible to produce a rotating magnetic field in an electric motor and generate other phase arrangements using transformers.

          An important class of three-phase load is the electric motor. A three-phase induction motor has a simple design, inherently high starting torque and high efficiency. Such motors are applied in industry for many applications. A three-phase motor is more compact and less costly than a single-phase motor of the same voltage class and rating and single-phase AC motors above 10 HP (7.5 kW) are uncommon. Three-phase motors also vibrate less and hence last longer than single-phase motors of the same power used under the same conditions.

          Resistance heating loads such as electric boilers or space heating may be connected to three-phase systems. Electric lighting may also be similarly connected.

          Line frequency flicker in light can be reduced by evenly spreading three phases across line frequency operated light sources so that illuminated area is provided light from all three phases. The effect of line frequency flicker is detrimental to super slow motion cameras used in sports event broadcasting.

          Another source says

          “Using three-phase inverters ensures that the power fed into the grid is distributed evenly among the phases, creating a balanced system,” Sheldon says. “Single-phase inverters can only create a balanced system when used in sets of three with equal total power rating per phase.”

          “The local utility interconnection standards typically set a maximum value for phase imbalances, since large imbalances between the phases can cause instabilities,” she adds. “Labor and material cost for inverters, balance-of system equipment and wiring is significantly higher with three, single-phase inverters compared to one three-phase model.”

          Sounds like having a large number of homeowners dumping electricity on the grid with single phase inverters is a way to unbalance the grid.

      • Jarvis says:

        Just to note, I have a pure sine wave inverter and it does runs my water pump nicely but it uses almost double the wattage that if I ran it from the grid

        • I am guessing that the water pump really needs three-phase electricity, and your inverter is only producing single-phase electricity. (But you can see that I am out of my area of expertise on this.)

      • Artleads says:

        ” If solar is going to be used, it should be used for something simple, like pumping water. Of course, an old-fashioned windmill would accomplish the same thing, at a whole lot lower cost.”

        I still like the idea of windmills pumping water, but something happened in town last evening to give me concern. The community water tank sprung a major leak and customers were called to fill up bathtubs and containers, etc., while tank repair took place. Scuba Divers from some place else will have to come and investigate and (I guess) fix the leak. So the tank will have to be filled in order for them to swim down into it. Were the well pump to operate by intermittent energy, there would be no reliable, timely way to repair the tank (by filling the now close-to-empty tank with water). If I’m correct, this discussion has served to clarify one aspect of the pros and cons of intermittent energy.

        • That could be a problem. But we did use windmills for a long time to fill water tanks in the past, so leaks must not have been too terrible a problem. Maybe the walls were thick–someone thought about this problem in advance.

  19. MG says:

    The origin of the human species is built on the non-intermittent energy coming from burning the biomass. The human species can not survive on the intermittent sources of energy. The intermittent sources of the energy constitute sources of dispersed und uncontrolled energy which require non-intermittent energy for their concentration and control.

    The wild life of nature is based on the intermittent energy such as sun and wind. But the human civilization requires non-intermittent sources. The use of fire by the first humans was the act of defeating the intermittency of such natural energy sources. The civilization requires stored character of the energy which use is controlled based on the needs of the civilization. So called “smart” grids etc., i.e. that the civilization is dependent on the momentaneous bursts of the energy, solve nothing. We must heat, cook, produce things etc. when we need them, not when the sun shines or the wind blows.

    The intermittent sources of energy are simply anti-human, anti-civilizational sources of energy and they are just an illusion of energy abundancy that can not be used by the civilization without the stored energy. It is like wating for rainy or sunny days for the crops to grow and bring yields: the probability of success can be very high, but it is not 100 %. And the lack of this 100 % availability causes collapse.

    • Artleads says:

      This is dancing around in time and conflating eons like a time trekker. Impressive. But what are your sources for these amazing declarations?

    • xabier says:

      Excellent perspective, civilization as the over-coming of th intermittency of natural energy cycles.

      Industrial Capitalism was also a way of overcoming the effects of intermittency in skilled labour: until the 19th century, well-paid, skilled, workers tended to work only when it pleased them, and would disappear to spend their money in taverns, theatres and brothels when it suited them.

      They would also take long weekends, Saturday to Tuesday, drifting back in by noon. This was the privileged life of town workers as opposed to the poor peasants who had the lord and his bailiff on their backs all the time: this is why our ancestors escaped serfdom as soon as possible for the fun of town, even if life-expectancy dropped sharply -short life and a merry one.

      Capitalists decided to break the skilled workers, and make them work regular hours and conform to the demand of the capitalist for ceaseless labour – under-paying was part of the strategy, so the workers would never have enough surplus cash to take time off in the old way.

      In England, it was known as the ‘Death of King Tuesday’, ie the end of the long weekend.

      • Yes, we should not forget there was this loosely defined class of quasi free people, often times during windows of opportunity for meritocracy even making it big and or elevated into nobleman status; between ~13-18th century, being active in sciences, arts, crafts, early proto-industries, ..

      • MG says:

        Yes, the intermittency and also irregularity of availability of the external energy is closely connected with the intermittency and irregularity of the jobs: that is why we have a rising number of freelancers and irregular jobs.

        Japan is on the forefront:

        The cheap abundant energy secures non-intermittency and regularity. The costly energy is (and causes) intermittency and irregularity of the system and affects the humans, as biological entities and also as workers, who are dependent on the external energy.

        • Good point! I hadn’t thought about the intermittency and irregularity of external energy being connects to the intermittency and irregularity of people’s work. I think young people are especially affected. Older people got “grandfathered” into more steady jobs. Young people have a harder time finding good jobs. The ones they find tend to be “contract’ or “commission” jobs, which pay based on actual amount of work available.

          • MG says:

            The human species and ist civilization runs on STORAGE OF ENERGY, not on dispersed, irregular and intermittent energy. The hunters and gatherers also had to store the food and wood. They were not just going around killing and picking. The storage is not something like forest full of animals. The storage is something that is handy and protected from stealing, intruders, spoling etc.

            That is why the intermittent and irregular energy causes intermittent jobs which in turn can not create organized units for sustaining human life (marriages or similar units of voluntarily accepted genetic unions) that are basis for sustaining the existence of the human race. This way the costly energy (which means the energy that requires a lot of energy for creating the handy and protected storage of energy) influences the human populations. We can extract oil using the debt (i.e. increased amounts of resources and energy) and create its protected handy storage and wait that somebody will buy that oil. But when the banks with issuing the loans to energy sector drain other parts of the economy of energy and resources, the population shrinks, as there is less and less resources for its preservation.

            Our problem is the lack of cheap protected handy stored energy, as also the current oil glut shows.

            One actual example from my country: The Slovak Prime Minister promised again that the brown coal production in Slovakia will continue thanks to the government subsidies until 2030:


            The question is whether there will be any workers to mine that coal, when already today Slovakia experiences lack of the suitable workforce. The demand will still exist, but there will be no free suitable human resources for satisfying it. In other words: the current subsidies will have to rise constantly, to meet the goal of continuing the extraction until 2030.

            • MG says:

              For better understanding, we should understand the loans as the same resources and energy reallocation tool as subsidies. Today, when the money is created from nothing, the loans are the reallocation tool influenced by the governments, i.e. when only the existing money put into bank were lended, the reallocation of energy and resources was influenced by the depositors. Now, the depositors have no influence on the reallocation of the resources. The reallocation of the resources is controlled by the governments via central banks.

              We come to the situation, when somebodys resources and energy, that somebody needs for his or her life, are via this manipulation invested into something that brings no benefit. With subsidizing the intermittent energy sources the system already implodes the same way asj subsidizing the extraction of costly oil.

              The hyperinflation is nothing else than the war for resources and energy: who bids higher, gets them. The current collapse of Venezuela shows already another stage: the armed forces of the state already consume the resources and energy stored by the population. The situation resembles the collapse of Argentina when the state armed forces started to devour the citizens of the state (“desaparecidos”) from the 60s to 70s of the 20th century.

            • this goes along with my thinking on this subject

              we have prehistoric brains trying to make sense of a modern environment.

              our real ‘prime employment’ until only 200 years ago—or less—was finding producing delivering food.
              5000 yrs ago or so, we monetized that
              10000 yrs ago we enclosed our food and began to stop chasing it. (and kicked off the capitalist system)

              prior to that we ate what we caught/gathered. If there was nothing available we starved and eventually died (or maybe not)

              Thus we, here and now, are the progeny of those who made it. The ones who didn’t starve to death prior to reproductive age.
              We inherited their brains through a million years of survival. We are thus conditioned to imagine survival as some kind of certainty.
              Somehow our “survival employment” as a hunter gatherer has been sublimated into the “employment” of a computer programmer, or wannabe president (or whatever)
              We think they are the same thing—-“work hard enough and you can be a billionaire like me?”
              But of course they are not.—relatively few can understand or accept that.
              Prehistoric man couldn’t build capital, we can. That concept doesn’t make sense to the prehistoric brain. this conflicts with our modern environment

              Unfortunately our evolutionary line has provided no alternatives.
              We must gather energy to survive, which in our society means earning money at a faster and faster rate to get hold of less and less resources.

              Which brings us back to the hunter-gatherers who didn’t make it.
              The lines of our forebears who died out were faced with (ultimately) a shortage of fuel (meat) to keep their bodies active enough to pursue and consume even more fuel.

              So while the elderly among us in the present managed to grab the last of diminishing fuel energy stores, and build a house/capital with it, the young arriving now are faced with the reality that the herds have all been killed off, and their million year old brains see that there’s very little left for them to eat, and no prospects for the future. No fresh herds next year, but their/our minds still expect there to be.

              But nature still demands survival, so conflict at an ever widening scale will go on.This can only have two outcomes:
              A we reduce our numbers until we have sufficient resources to sustain ourselves

              or B we eliminate our strain of human primate altogether, and nature develops another species to take over.

              The only certainty is that nature is indifferent to the outcome. The planet will go on spinning for a while yet, with or without us

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘the young arriving now are faced with the reality that the herds have all been killed off’


              Just back from another off the grid weekend …. it all sounds so fantastic … good books… roaring fires by the ocean… simple food…

              In reality… — it gets very very boring very quickly …

              But then I had a cooler full of food … and gas cylinders to heat the water and cook the food …

              I am sure it would not be be so boring if people saw my fire and attacked me to take my cooler… or I emptied the cooler and had to work out which native bush plants were edible… or hope that a fish jumped into my lap …

              Boredom would quickly turn stress — panic… and starvation … then death….

              BAU Forever!! BAU Forever! Long Live BAU!! Hail BAU!!!

              I am seriously considering giving up on atheism and worshiping BAU. Let’s take this from cult-status to official religion.

              Perhaps this is what is required to perpetuate BAU….. BAU is offended that we waste our time on gods who deliver nothing!

              BAU on the other hand delivers ALL – food and warmth and stuff — what do our gods give?

              They give us NOTHING! They give us a warm fuzzy feeling…

              Stuff warm and fuzzy — you cannot live on warm and fuzzy.

              Perhaps we have offended the true God — BAU is angry — we have disrespected him .. taken him for granted…. abused his kindness…

              And he is punishing us — he is threatening to destroy us…. by destroying himself.

              Let us all pray to BAU…

              Oh BAU – we love thee — we sacrifice Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, the Kardashian sisters, Simon Cowell, and Mark Zuckerberg burning them on a large fire to appease you ….

              There is only one God – BAU – all other gods are false!

              We ask that you deliver from extinction … and continue to deliver more stuff….

              Oh BAU – Oh BAU – we kowtow to the great BAU!


            • Last night I was screaming at my TV (crosses self) at some crazy woman living in the Alaskan Arctic. (100 miles from the Arctic circle) Bragging about living the solitary “subsistence” kind of existence only what she could hunt.
              (prog featured several other people doing the same thing in the same vein)

              Absolutely fascinating stuff—except that she goes off hunting in an ATV tracked monster to shoot a couple of ptarmigan to put in her freezer.—muttering that she had to kill enough game to ”last her through the winter”
              She also has a skid steer loader for snow shifting and a chainsaw and electric lighting (plus aforementioned freezer)

              Is it just me?—-or am i missing a trick here?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              She mocks BAU — she claims she has no need for BAU —- but then she gets on the ATV delivered by BAU —- she pulls out her rifle and ammo — kindly provided by BAU — she uses the petrol — also created and bestowed upon her by…… BAU!


              What say yee – what shall we do to the Blasphemer????

              ‘Stone her to Death Fast Eddy high priest of BAU’

              ‘No – Burn her on a Stake Fast Eddy’

              Yes – YES — drag her and put her to the fire…. BAU must be respected! BAU must be honoured! Only then will BAU give us prosperity — and comfort — and stuff!


        • Fast Eddy says:

          Japan – and all OECD countries – have a constant supply of electricity — I think the part time job issue is related to other factors — as I understand it…one of them in the US at least is Obamacare… employers can hire multiple part timers vs one full timer… and avoid having to pay

          • MG says:

            It is the intermittency of energy distribution rather than the intermittency of the energy source: it means that the energy is allocated to the workers only when they work. Not for sustaining their population: you are not working = you get no or just limited healthcare and social services, you have not enough resources and energy for having offsprings, provide their healthcare and care for them, pay their education. There is no one to care for you when you are ill as you have no family etc. It is the intermittency caused by the fact that there is not enough energy and resources produced to be distributed to all.

            Maybe that is the reason why the intermittent energy seems to be acceptable to the people: they do not understand that intermittent distribution of non-intermittent energy is something different than the use of intermittent energy.

            The costly energy is in fact intermittent, it is not stored in one reservoir, it is like the shale oil – dispersed in the rock and must be collected through higher and higher number of wells or tar sands which must undergo more stages of processing. Or the coal for electricity production is deeper and deeper in the ground and the layers of it are multiple thinner layers than one thick layer. Or there are technological problems like with the Kashagan field. Or Japan experienced Fukushima and its supply of electricity from nuclear power stations was interrupted. The higher number of producing units like solar panels and wind turbines in comparison to few coal power plant generators or nuclear power plant generators. Simpy said: the higher complexity of energy extraction brings with itself intermittency as more and more energy producing, transportation and distribution devices are needed. Adding another intermittent sources like wind and solar exacerbates the situation further.

            Combining the intermittency of energy distribution with the intermittency of energy production is not sustainably possible for the human population and civilization.

      • Artleads says:

        “They would also take long weekends, Saturday to Tuesday, drifting back in by noon. This was the privileged life of town workers as opposed to the poor peasants who had the lord and his bailiff on their backs all the time: this is why our ancestors escaped serfdom as soon as possible for the fun of town, even if life-expectancy dropped sharply -short life and a merry one.”

        This assessment might more or less apply to the movement from country to city even today. I think it was around 50 years ago that the hold of semi serfdom started to weaken in the countryside in parts of the British colonies. People who were well built due to country life of deference to the squires became small, free, powerful, but short lived, due to urban food scarcity (?) and violence.

    • Yoshua says:

      There is a theory called Circadian Rhythms. Our DNA and every life forms DNA on our planet have encoded the movement of the solar system, our planets movement and the movement of the moon. For example the rhythm of wake and sleep that follows the planets rotation, women’s monthly that follows the moons movement and the seasons following our planets tilt and orbit around the sun.

    • Scientists like to put together models of how new systems might work. I know I just saw one recently for getting to 30% electricity in the Eastern US Electric Grid. If you look at the analysis, you discover some important caveats:

      Report does not cover, “The capital costs, land use and siting, market design, gas pipeline, and other factors that would need to be addressed under the scenarios . This study also did not look at all aspects of reliability considered by system planners and operators, including system dynamics and AC power flow.”

      The whole thing may not be feasible, “technical feasibility depends on other transmission and generation operators providing the necessary ramping, energy, and capacity services; wholesale market design changes; and various capital expenditures, all of which will have financial and other implications that may need to be addressed and were outside of this study.”

      Clearly, with the level of analysis done, it was not possible to figure out what the cost of the new system would really be.

  20. MG says:

    The construction sector in Slovakia, largely dependent on the projects financed from the EU funds, experiences the deepes fall since 2009: in July 2016, the construction output was 23 % smaller than the output in July 2015.

    The information comes from the article in Slovak:

    Some trends of construction output also here:

    Before the parliamentary elections (they were held this year in March), the construction output usually rises, after the elections, the construction output falls… All financed from the debt and EU subsidies. But this time, the fall is too deep…

    On the other side: Slovakia confirms its status of one of the most open economies in the world and the “cheap oil” (i.e. the half price of the USD 100 per barrel) secures higher revenues to the government.

  21. LimitsToGrowth says:

    I think everyone will enjoy this one:

    “Excess Management is Costing the US $3 Trillion Per Year”

    Here’s a link to the paper:

    Key line:
    “… A growing percentage of employee time gets consumed in efforts to keep the organization from collapsing under the weight of its own complexity.”

    • dolph says:

      Many gordian knots here. For example:
      -the role of management is to make sure everybody else is productive and efficient, but, the only way to be productive and efficient is to get rid of management (which will never be done because management would have to fire itself)
      -management grows as organizations use leverage to scale up, doing so is the only way to remain competitive in the nuclear arms race of the global economy; but as they do so, the debt makes them less competitive, which makes them need even more debt, etc.

      The only way is collapse. Don’t worry, the managers (the apparathchiks of power) will get their due when those at the top finally realize how expensive they are.

    • Thanks for the links. I suspect the article overstates the impact (not the first time). US wages are only about $8 trillion. A savings of $3 trillion, resulting from managers having too small span of control seems unlikely. More likely, most of the “managers” spend most of their time doing things other than managing. But I can see that increasing complexity, because of more and more regulations, and necessary compliance with regulations, could be causing a problem. Also in medical care, computerized medical records requirements can be adding a huge amount of work load, with virtually no benefit.

  22. Sungr says:

    Not a good sign…. Credit Suisse is warning that central bank interventions are destabilizing markets and leading to the highest-ever amount of cross contamination between different markets & assets.

    “Credit Suisse warns the overwhelming flow from central bank interventions “are driving everything” pushing their so-called cross-market contagion indicator to levels more worrisome than anytime since 2008’s Lehman-inspired financial crisis.”

    “Massive central bank stimulus with below zero rates and quantitative easing has led to increasingly dysfunctional markets, with even the negative correlation between stocks and bonds breaking down. As we have noted previously, they are now largely moving in the same direction as markets have become more driven by central banks, leaving investors with no place to hide. ”

    “And as Bloomberg notes, the Credit Suisse data, which tracks price relationships in equities, credit, currencies and commodities, shows that different markets are influencing each other in 2016 at a higher rate that any time since the measure was invented in 2008. The indicator assesses how much movements in one market are statistically explained by movements in another.

  23. stephen duval says:

    “Fourth, I didn’t realize that people still believe in Hubbard.”
    “Hubbard has no concept of substitution. As the cost of a natural resource goes up due to increasing demand , other material are used as substitutes. Eventually uranium will replace fossil fuels. ”

    If this is duplicate, I apologize, my original is not showing up.

    It is clear you have never read Hubbert’s 1956 paper, titled “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels”. His entire projected production curve was based on the assumption that within 15 years or so, breeder reactors would work out, and before the 2005 peak production of light sweet crude from conventional sources, we would be producing several times as much energy from fission, which would take us to a new permanent plateau, lasting greater than 5000 years.

    The collapse scenario is based on what happens if nuclear of some sort does not take over, and all we have left is solar (meaning any and all energy originating from the sun, including wind, wood, food, etc.).

    The problem we face now, is that demand cannot pay the higher price for energy, while growing energy consumption, and thus the economy, at the rate needed to sustain growth and continue the current system. The problem is demand side, not supply side. Sure, if people could afford to pay an ever increasing price while ever increasing total consumption, things would be booming for a while yet, until some other limit was hit.

    • As I reminded (and linked) numerous times before, breeders are now reality, Russia is the only country in the world mastering the whole industrial cycle at ~GW scale. Plus they have got ~20,000 tons of radioactive waste laying around, which could be directly reused as fuel in these oxide mixes for breeders. However, because of legacy issues, as big commercial breeders were canceled soon after commissioning in the mid 1980s as the USSR started to implode, instead the ordinary pressurized water nuclear reactors simply took over. And now their dominance could not be reversed easily in several decades as they invested even more into them in unveiling the passive safety enhanced Gen3+ conventional reactors and beyond, also for export. Unfortunately, it’s the issue of sunken cost into past inferior arrangement. So, they plan to build only few of the 1.2-1.6GW breeders in next decade or two in comparison to scheduled new and replacement conventional reactors. The company Rosatom has got its own “TV channel” and also posts it on ytube, featuring nice visuals from TV crew at both old and cutting edge new facilities, incl. spent fuel pools for doomer enjoyment etc.

    • stephen duval says:

      Thank you Matthew for educating me. My only knowledge of Hubbard was of his Peak Oil theory. I did not realize that he was a supporter of nuclear power and fast neutron reactors in particular.

      The US does not look like it will make the transition from fossil fuels to nuclear any time soon. That does not mean that nuclear will not replace fossil fuels. The US appears ready to turn over technological leadership to China.

      From 1900 to 1950, the British invented the technology and the US implemented the technology much faster than anyone else. The US became the world leader and the UK fell into decline.

      From 1950 to 2000 the US was inventing the technology. Three great technologies burst on the scene: nuclear power, computers and telecommunications, and genetic engineering.

      The US took the lead in implementing computers and telecommunications. The economic transformation produced great wealth and continues to produce great wealth. The US was the early leader in nuclear and then political forces, the Greens allied with the coal industry and the railroads, blocked the nuclear industry. Instead of replacing all our coal plants and developing a great export industry, we have a $300 billion trade deficit in energy. It appears that Obama has transferred all our nuclear energy technology to China and that the Chinese will implement nuclear energy and develop a huge export industry.

      The jury is still out on genetic engineering. It appears that political forces will prevent this industry from reaching its full potential in the US. The Chinese are behind but catching up fast especially on implementation. One Chinese application was to develop a small pig for medical experimentation.

      The US might cede nuclear energy to China but that does not mean that nuclear will not replace fossil fuels, only that the US will fall further behind technologically.

    • Pintada says:

      Dear Matthew Krajcik;

      Breeder reactors were the technically best nuclear reactor design, and they were scrapped as part of a political deal. Jimmy Carter eliminated them in the US in 1977 –

      “First, we will defer indefinitely the commercial reprocessing and recycling of the plutonium produced in the U.S. nuclear power programs. From our own experience, we have concluded that a viable and economic nuclear power program can be sustained without such reprocessing and recycling. The plant at Barnwell, South Carolina, will receive neither Federal encouragement nor funding for its completion as a reprocessing facility.

      Second, we will restructure the U.S. breeder reactor program to give greater priority to alternative designs of the breeder and to defer the date when breeder reactors would be put into commercial use.”

      Carters decision likely hastened the demise of the human race by a century. If we had breeder reactors running safely starting in 1977 it would have obviated AGW and peak oil for about 100 years. Big if.

      Good post,

      • Well, we can discuss possible alternate routes of history, but breeders were quite primitive-smallish (<300MW) and experimental (lot of problems) in the early and mid-late 1970s. Certainly not prime for large scale implementation. Obviously, should the priority decision being made it could have been developed faster.

        The refined and sort of commercial ready ~600MW came into operation in early 1980s in USSR only, and again the sole and world largest .8GW today was commissioned and construction halted in mid 1980s to be completed last year.. Two more scaled up 1.2GW are likely going to be build again in Russia only, not before ~2025.


        Talk about fuel efficiency:
        (breeders taking upto ~2.5x less fission material per ton/Watt then the conventional):

      • Sorry for the typo, so in summary there is supposedly uranium left only for ~100yrs in conventional reactors and with conventional mining techniques, which burn less than 1% (U235) of recoverable energy potential in the fuel, while there is at least low thousand years of this stuff (U238) for breeders. Also due to legacy and inertia issues of past investments, it’s still cheaper to mine new uranium and burn it in low efficiency way in traditional reactors, however the residuals from it are still reusable in the future (breeders).

        We can watch it together, if Russians go full commitment crazy and start commissioning many new BN-1200s around 2020s, this would be a global game changer. Also it’s perhaps also significant in their strategic site preference, beyond Ural mountain range only.

        But for now it still looks for them like it’s still cheaper to build the “old stuff”, although in GEN3+/IV specification, i.e. much more layers of passive and active layers of safety – expensive, although the claim is by modularity design keeping these increased costs neutral in the end. While breeders are inherently low/no pressure and lower reactor temp, low risk..

        Who knows, how this is going to evolve, but it’s openly admitted, no matter what type of nuclear, they want to leave as much oil and natgas for future exports and revenue stream as possible, shifting to higher nuclear – electrification saturation across the board inside national economy. Moreover active plans to submerged arctic shelf drilling-mining..

        So, in conclusion we can say Gail and others were right in concept, not sure in timing and sequencing though, that we reached some sort of upper/lower snake of energy cost boundaries for the society, which will be hard (some claim impossible) to navigate into future.

        • Kook says:

          I confess to be an aspiring Ruthless Tyrannical World Leader using fission reactors.

          These stupid contraptions make for the most brilliant Trojan Horses you know.

          • ? The Russians know and publicly said their conventional oil output (and likely natgas as well) is going to drop like a rock 2020/30ish, hence they act accordingly, boosting nuclear power industry, among other things.

            But others don’t bother to act. Respectively, act in quit different ways..
            There are currently two entities with high degree of willingness to use nuclear weapons, both are deeply disturbed schizo – psychopathic societies: USA and to some extent also North Korea. So, in a way, it could be realistic position, why bother at all, lets sip a drink while sitting in comfort on the property bought and equipped by fraudulent credit, do nothing, and wait for the nice fire and light show in the high sky near you soon, lolz.

      • “Carters decision likely hastened the demise of the human race by a century. ”

        I think that is a tad optimistic. If we were running the whole world on as much $0.02 KWh electricity as we could consume, we would probably hit other limits, food, soil, fresh water, pollution, something else, quite soon anyways. that’s the problem with a system that needs compounding growth.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “$0.02 KWh electricity”

          Really cheap power has a lot of secondary effects. For example, water. With enough power we can move water from where there is too much to where it is needed. Or make fresh out of salt water, move silt back to the farms, etc. But the point is correct that we can’t continue to grow in a limited space. If you want to do that, you need to get off the planet.

  24. Yoshua says:

    Gravitation is perhaps the ultimate force in the universe. It creates order and complex structures like galaxies and solar systems out of chaos. To create fusion power we probably must first solve gravitation. The next level of complexity probably resides in the use of the force of gravitation.

    Renewables is the hope of the creation of a Medieval world of wood, solar, wind and hydro on electricity.

    • Sungr says:

      Maybe we can devise powerful gravity-powered tractor beams. This will enable humans to tractor resources out of the farthest reaches of the solar system. Then we create a network of pleasure palaces on all the really cool little moons of Jupiter and Saturn – sort of like Caribbean resorts but in deep space.

      Then after we have colonized the entire solar system with our gravity vehicles, we will spread our wings and spread ape DNA all over the known universe.

    • doomphd says:

      “To create fusion power we probably must first solve gravitation.”

      Not true. Farnsworth proved accelerated impact fusion back in the 1950s. You don’t need the Sun’s heat and pressure to promote random impact fusion, the so-called Lawson Criterion. Brookhaven National Lab and then Lawrence Berkeley National Lab proved velocity impact fusion is possible. The Lawrence Berkeley patent describes a radial acceleration impact upon a central target that produces enough neutrons from fusion to make a fast-neutron imaging system or scanner. It does not produce sustained fusion, however. My colleague has a patent on a similar design that can make a sustained fusion impacter for power generation. If he is successful, a lot of others promoting various flawed approaches based upon the Lawson Criterion will look both silly and wasteful chasing dead-ends to sustained nuclear fusion.

      • doomphd says:

        There is a web site:

        He’s looking for investors to build a prototype as proof of concepts.

      • If your friend is looking into deuterium-tritium fusion, hopefully someone is looking into bringing down the cost of tritium.

        There’s a guy saying that one gram of water is equal to something like 18 tonnes of coal, and will power a house for a year. Tritium should be about 3/21 of the mass of a gram of water, and currently, tritium is about $30,000 USD per gram. So the cost for a one year supply of fuel for a standard American home, at 2 KW continuous power consumption, would be about $4300, or nearly $400 per month. Current world demand is only about 400 grams, so maybe some room for improvement on economy of scale.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          You need to factor in the cost of hopium as well

        • doomphd says:

          He’s proposing to do deuterium-deuterium fusion, so no tritium. One of his wilder ideas is to purify the deuterium feed gas of any HD impurities and produce aneutronic (no neutrons) fusion. If possible (I doubt it), you could then make a small “Mr. Fusion” reactor for vehicles and airplanes. Anyway, we’re talking 25 orders of magnitude clean, which is just about impossible.

          • “He’s proposing to do deuterium-deuterium fusion, so no tritium.”

            I don’t understand how that is supposed to generate a net gain in energy? Seems like just an expensive way to make Helium. The main anuetronic fusion path I’ve seen is Protium + Boron 11 which quickly splits into 3 helium and releases lots of gamma rays, etc. In this case, it is the energy in the heavier boron that is being released during the splitting, the fusing only consumes energy.

            • doomphd says:

              You need to visit his web site (listed above) and discuss with him. He’s the fusion expert. There you will find his email address and other contact information.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              deuterium-deuterium fusion…. delusional-delusional fusion….

            • doomphd says:

              Talked to “da man” today re: fusion reactions. All produce excess energy. It’s true that deuterium-tritium is about 30% more energetic than deuterium-deuterium. The deuterium-boron-11 reaction is actually the highest energy output, and largely (but not completely) aneutronic. It’s those pesky HD contaminants in the deuterium that produce the neutrons.

    • Kook says:

      You’re right. We have a propulsion problem, not an energy problem. If we would stop separating the two as if it could be no other way, we might get out of the box.

    • smite says:

      Gravity and its possible connection with entropy.

      • Physicist Eric Verlinde is speaking in this eight minute video, saying that gravity as we currently understand it may not exist. Interesting!

      • Yorchichan says:

        “If we then start trying to explain where it [gravity] comes from it has to do with the fact that at the microscopic scale certain information about how you describe this which we don’t see ourselves, we forget about that. It turns out that if you take that into account in some appropriate way then you can understand where gravity comes from”.

        It’s all so clear to me now. Physics can only ever describe the real world using models. It can never explain “why” without raising more “why”s.

        • Stefeun says:

          Physics can only ever describe the real world using models. It can never explain “why” without raising more “why”s.

          Very true, Yorchican, and I’m fine with that.
          Each discovery is an improvement of our knowledge, but also a measurement of the ever-increasing extent of what we DON’T know.
          It’s both a reward, as a better understanding of our world, and a lesson in humility.

          Since Descartes we have tended to forget or omit the second part, and believe that scientific knowledge would help us becoming almighty and have full control over Nature. That was obviously a mistake.

          I’ve hard time to blame the Enlighteners, though. It was a necessary reaction after a too long period during which the self-proclaimed keepers of the Unknown (aka ecclesiasts, priests, the church,…) have abused of the power given by the high position they acquired along centuries.

          Our error has been to believe that Enlightenment was the path to a complete and definitive liberation, while it was merely a balance movement, that shouldn’t have lasted so long (or at least not tend to mimic the dogmatic behaviour it was supposed to combat).
          Now we’re starting to realize that we’re not almighty. A bit late.
          As for humility…

          • xabier says:


            From my experience, I have found that only fanatics who base their views on minimal information doctored ideologically, believe they know everything.

            They also prove aggressively resistant to new information contradicting their model, however reasonably presented.

            So, the Socratic model, ‘the more I know, the more I realise the limits of my knowledge’ is a sign of sanity.

            • Stefeun says:

              Thanks for Socrate’s quote, I didn’t remember it.
              Unfortunately, I think it’s those who can get the more power out of their knowledge, be it limited, who have the last word, regardless of sanity, wisdom et al.

            • CTG says:

              “The more I know, the more I realise the limits of my knowledge”. If this is what humans practise, we would not have the current predicament.

              We are current filled to the brim with people who talks a lot but no facts. For the last 5 days, how many “newcomers” visited this site and put in a lot of comments? Every single one of them put in a lot of comments and when I pin them down to provide me with details or when I question them their background, all of them just disappear. All of them just disappear. I check and checked for the last 3 days if any of them responded to my questions on how my shoe-box sized unlimited power source can allow a Brit to retire peacefully and luxuriously in Thailand.

              To me, the fact that “these people” existed to refute all the truth that we put in this website is a troubling sign for humanity. We go to such extend as to refute many concepts. Think about it that if we channel all these energies to making a better world. I know this will not happen and it is way beyond utopia. That is why “heaven” existed. It could be just a way of early humans to describe alien beings from different dimensions with different thinking.

              We humans are very much governed by natural instincts that points to survival and greed is required in this world. Ever wonder why in the movies, we have alien worlds where there is only one leader for the world? It is always in my mind that we on Earth cannot even agree on which sides of the road we drive and the power sockets (power outlet) from the wall can be so different from each country. If we cannot even agree on this petty things, we will never be able to achieve civilization greatness (i.e. space travel, colonization, etc).

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Edward Bernays was the first to recognize how easy it was to control humans…. it’s not a whole lot more difficult than herding cattle or sheep….

              Even the most intelligent humans are easily controlled.

              There are various triggers that control behaviour — the key one of course is money — because money = resources = survival…

              If I were to say that these are all $100 bills … and I am going to give this to you… what do you feel? Excitement yes? Joy yes?


              Or how would you feel if I was an executive at Exxon and I stopped by to inform you that your property had one billion barrels of oil beneath it and I was going to pay you a royalty of $5 per barrel?

              Bliss…. it’s like injecting a gram of cocaine into your brain….

              Money is the trigger….

              Follow the money ….. who controls the ultimate source of money (the reserve currency).

              Whomever controls the source of money — and understands that control of money is the tool to control the herds of humans —- the generals, the business leaders, the politicians, the masses….

              Controls the world.

          • Yorchichan says:

            Not much humility on display when Erik Verlinde said that Newton and Einstein described gravity without being able to explain why (why two masses attract or why mass bends spacetime), whilst his explanation of gravity would be able to do so.

            Did you ever read Lawrence Krauss book “A Universe From Nothing: Why there is something rather than nothing”? Halfway through the book Krauss conveniently decided to change the question from “why” to “how”. Total cop-out. At that point I stopped reading.

        • Tim Groves says:

          There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature…

          — Niels Bohr.

      • Stefeun says:

        The new name of Thermodynamics is Statistical Mechanics,
        so it seems to make sense to explore a parallel with Gravity, which is also about “averageing” of interactions between big numbers of particles (like pressure and temperature).

  25. Fast Eddy says:

    See what happens when you call the el.ders minion a ‘son of a whore’ …. you disrespect the e.lders.

    See how control of money = power?

    Imagine what would happen to the Philippines if the e.lders really got ticked off with their president ….

    Imagine if they forced interest rates up a couple of points…. it would be like putting his head in a vice…. and twisting the handle… until his eyeballs popped out….

    Recall how Berlusconi and Papandreou stepped down … after they opposed the ECB — and were both replaced by dictators (both former Goldman Sachs employees)

    Who needs guns – who needs bullets…. when you are an OECD country tied into the el.Ders financial system — when they ask you to jump you ask how high — you do not question them — a few strokes of a key — can result in chaos in your country…

    This reminds me of Duerte…. ranting and screaming…. if he were to continue along his current path rather than destroy the country the eld.ers would be more likely to just do this ….

  26. Sungr says:

    Here is HSBC out with a new 50pg report on the global oil situation. Lots of talk about peak oil here. Sounds like they are serious….. And here we are exactly at the lethal conjunction of factors in the Limits to Growth study.

    In a ten-point summary, HSBC made a number of excellent points. Here are a few-

    ‘3. Oil demand is still growing by ~1mbd every year, and no central scenarios that we recently assessed see oil demand peaking before 2040.

    4. 81% of the production of liquid oil is already in decline.

    5. HSBC sees between 3 and 4.5 million barrels per day of supply disappearing[yearly] once peak oil production is reached. “In our view a sensible range for average decline rate on post-peak production is 5-7%, equivalent to around 3-4.5mbd of lost production every year.”

    6. Based on a simple calculation, HSBC estimates that by 2040, the world will need to find around 40 million barrels of oil per day to keep up with growing demand from emerging economies. That is equivalent to over 4 times the current crude oil output of Saudi Arabia.

    7. Small oilfields typically decline twice as fast as large fields, and the global supply mix relies increasingly on small fields: the typical new oilfield size has fallen from 500-1,000mb 40 years ago to only 75mb this decade.” — This will exacerbate the problem of declining oil fields, and the lack of supply.

    8. The amount of new oil discoveries being made is pretty small. HSBC notes that in 2015 the discovery rate for new wells was just 5%, a record low. The discoveries made are also fairly small in size.”

    So there it is- a depletion loss of 3-4.5mpd for a total loss of 41-48mbpd by 2040.

    Similar oil depletion numbers have been warned about by other critical observers in the oil patch. This depletion process will really start to bite long before we get anywhere 2040. Some observers are calling a global depletion rate of 6% going forward.

    • I guess HSBC doesn’t understand low prices, lack of demand, and collapse.

      • Sungr says:

        I found it interesting that a top bank is now openly talking about global oil depletion rates in the 5-7% range. Just a few years ago, most peak-aware analysts were using depletion rates of around 4% in their projections.

        • I think the difference is whether the price is high enough to support a lot of infill drilling as well as shift to more intensive approaches to extraction. If it is, the depletion rate looks quite low. If the price is too low, the additional investment that makes sense drops greatly. If there are actual revolts among oil workers, because pay is dropping too low, or not enough imported food is available, or because banks are closed, the rate of extraction could drop very low quickly. Workers would find conditions intolerable.

          • Sungr says:

            “If the price is too low, the additional investment that makes sense drops greatly. If there are actual revolts among oil workers, because pay is dropping too low,”

            Just out of interest, I started working as a petroleum geologist in the Rocky Mountain region in 1980- a peak boom year. Most of my work was in the Williston ND area and in gas fields in Wyoming. I went through the entire oil bust cycle from peak to trough and back to peaking. Going into ND in 1980, we had over 200 rigs drilling. Within 2-3 years the number had dropped to around 15. So I had a great study in the process of boom/bust economics- the local economies, employment issues, cancelled projects both in energy and in construction, massive RE defaults. The regional economic activity just went straight down to almost nothing and it didn’t take long either. A real economic collapse is almost palpable, you can feel the air draining from the deflating economy.

            Understanding what deflation looks like on the ground is an interesting experience. It’s like the the economy just slows to a crawl- and stays there. We were able to survive by going uber-frugal and paying off ALL debt- including mortgage debt- and not taking on any more. This debt-free lifestyle has been very good for us as the US economy has been going into higher and higher levels of financialization.

            • Thanks for providing your on-the-ground insights. I am certain it is a scary time for people operating businesses in the area and the people operating banks in the area. You were able to weather the storm through good planning. Not all of them will be as lucky.

    • Christian says:

      “once peak oil production is reached”

      Didn’t we got peak oil last november?

    • Tango Oscar says:

      If all major oil companies are swearing off of deepsea drilling and the prices aren’t nearly high enough to support things like shale oil or tar sands, exactly where does this bank thing the oil is going to come from? They said themselves “that 81% of liquid oil production is already in decline.” As long as oil keeps being produced in large enough quantities to keep supply heavy, price will stay low to support any further exploration on behalf of oil companies.

      When the article concludes with “It may not hit us for a while, but it is a looming crisis that the oil industry must face,” I find that to be a bit short sighted. Low oil prices and potential low supply in the future are a problem for everybody, not just oil producers. Oil companies have no moral responsibility to anyone to take on massive losses just to keep oil pumping so that obese, entitled American can drive around in their SUV’s all day long with the air conditioning on full blast and the stereo blasting Brittney Spears. Energy companies are totally free to go bankrupt instead of trying to fix all of the over-promises of our incompetent and blind “leaders.” And now we’re at the pinnacle of human debauchery with two of the most vile people in existence running for President of the United States.

  27. Bruce E says:

    Great summary of the landscape. I’m an electric power engineer in the long-distance transmission market and you’ve nailed a number of challenges quite well.

    One thing you didn’t address is the nature of how modern nuclear (fission) power is generated and how it is not obligated to fulfill the roles that fossil/thermal plants need to, including the part about reactive power reserves and even the slightest bit of curtailment, making large nuclear plants effectively un-dispatchable. They ramp them up to their maximum most-efficient power levels possible and leave them there. It’s an unadvertised subsidy of the nuclear power industry that few understand. It’s a shame, too, because nuclear power could be used in a way to mitigate the intermittent nature of renewables were it not treated with kid gloves and we just regarded existing nuclear plants as sunk cost rather than pretending that those who own them are actually making profits in a “competitive energy market” or whatever blather people who want to keep nuclear going will say.

    One thing that you may have addressed before but I didn’t see it: the “be careful what you wish for” aspect of something like the pipe-dream of fusion. Consider the possibility that someone actually gets fusion to work and we create some semi-infinite capacity heat source of sufficient power to generate as much thermal power as we might ever dream, and the product of pushing two hydrogen atoms together is harmless helium and there is no accumulation of toxic and radioactive byproducts of this heat source. Now take that heat source and grow it exponentially for a few decades, converting that heat into as much electricity as is demanded, and that demand grows exponentially, pushing our GDP to moderate and sustained growth levels in the 2-3% range.

    Even with this rosy picture, consider what is happening to all of that heat. A steam cycle that converts heat into electricity is at-best about 20% efficient. The remaining 80% of the heat is basically wasted, it goes to heating the water in the lake or reservoir or river or ocean that is circulated through the condenser. Local to the plant generating electricity, this heat pollution can cause problems, but I’m thinking longer-term and larger than locally — at what point does this pipe-dream become a global nightmare? Exponential growth is tricky. What doesn’t hurt you at 100% of today’s consumption might not hurt you at 500% or even 1,000%, but at 10,000% it starts to hurt and at 100,000% could be a worldwide catastrophe. At a 2-3% annual growth we climb that logarithmic ladder by a factor of 10 every 78-116 years, which means we may be fine for a couple of centuries before it starts to hurt but in that third century the game is over. Raise the annual growth rate target to 4% (Jeb! Bush’s entire economic plan consisted of this number) and the time to Armageddon is only 176 years if this is the case.

    Back before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima were a thing there was a movement that focused on waste heat rather than radioactivity when protesting nuclear power. Did anything come of that, where someone quantified the magnitude of waste heat required to hurt ecosystems beyond the local (within a couple of miles) impact near the steam cycles?

    • Thanks for your insights regarding nuclear plants. If nuclear plants are boiling water, they are not going to load follow very quickly, it would seem to me. You seem to indicate that there are ways they can. How does this work? Are there other things that they could do, if we demanded that they act like fossil fuel energy? What would the cost be?

      • Bruce E says:

        It’s not so much the boiling water that matters (you can boil water with coal or oil or gas just like you can with fission) but rather the heat-up/cool-down cycle that has limits on the rate of ramping power up or down that matters. If the plant is designed with operational flexibility in mind (nuclear powered steam-driven navy ships and submarines are so-designed) you can ramp up or down as you see fit. But modern large nuclear power generation is typically designed to ramp up to design/max load and stay there for months.

        They could operate them at, say 10-20% curtailed in the steady-state, at significantly higher average $/MWh costs, which would give them a little flexibility to respond and mitigate the intermittency of renewables, but they don’t because they don’t have to. They would cease to be “profitable” (after the more-public incentives, and the less-public incentives such as not putting away money for the future decommissioning project of the plant and pretending that it’s not a growing long-term liability) at the competitive rates they sell into the grid and they might need to raise their rates significantly — maybe on the order of 1/(100%-curtailment), such that they get the same total revenues while delivering less MWh to the grid.

        Wind plants can be similarly-curtailed in that 10-15% range and that would get rid of most of their intermittency issues but at significant (10-15%) opportunity costs.

        • Thanks! I think that part of the problem is all of the capital cost of the much larger amount of generation that is needed if the intent is to curtail part of the theoretically available supply.

    • Stefeun says:

      The 20% converted into electricity also end up as waste heat, eventually.

      • Good point. That is pretty much of any type of energy generation, except some of the waste heat we get to use along the way. Cogeneration is an attempt to use some of the waste heat.

    • Tango Oscar says:

      Bruce, excellent insights! People don’t realize what exponential or large numbers of growth will do to our very finite resources or the planet. If we’re already at or right near peak copper, iron, oil, coal, biosphere limits, debt, and other things, what would an infinite source of very low cost electricity do to that picture? Literally you can take any of those things and look at the growth rate and it’s very obviously unsustainable to even the most dim of our society.

  28. Mark Boland says:

    The only factor that resolves the difficulty discussed is “demand side management”. This is what the smart grid is all about. It is the infrastructure that allows the possibility of rationing demand down the the individual outlet. The standard now being implemented by appliance and consumer goods manufacturers will allow grid managers to disable devices by type, by area while leaving other uneffected ie: leave deep freezers and refrigerator operative while disabling hot water heaters – the smart grid is “big brother” at the outlet.

    • To what extent will it actually be possible to do this, in what time frame, and at what rate of implementation?

      Anything wired in will be a nightmare. It takes years to get people to replace their hot water heaters. I am suspicious that the amount of reduction will in fact, be relatively small. Residential electricity use amounts to 36% of total generation in the US. You can’t really turn off elevators or traffic lights, or for that matter, people’s computers. Electric stove have a big draw, but people will not appreciate your turning them off when they are trying to bake bread. Turning off air-conditioning and heat pumps might work, but again, it either needs to be wired in, or wait until people trade in existing units to do so.

    • Pintada says:

      Dear Mark Boland;

      What Gails said, plus:

      I am not alone when I say f(*&K that. If I ever buy an new appliance again, I will disable the internet of things capability and that will be that. The entire concept is complete nonsense.

      Get real,

      • xabier says:

        Dear Pintada

        But when one is feeling lonely, won’t it be so nice to have a fridge that talks to one and….understands?

        Yours, treading the rainbow path of optimism


        • doomphd says:

          Xabier, you mean like a HAL 9000 for the home? we all know how that turns out.

          • Christian says:

            Suppose the fridge develops its own ideas reg. healthy diet and doesn’t let you get the icecream it’s holding!

          • Ed says:

            Hal gets an undeserved bad rap. He was ordered by to keep a secret. In order to do that he had to kill the crew. He followed his orders and did what he was asked to. He expressed remorse at the need to kill Dave. He said “I’m sorry Dave.” He falsely assumed Dave knew what was going on “I think you know … I can’t do that.”

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Thanks for these fascinating bits of knowledge and history!

  29. CTG says:

    A little off topic here but again something to think about. This is again, a macro view of things. Hope you guys don’t nit-pick on details because I am looking at the big picture/concept

    Do we even need “ethics officer” or “compliance manager” or “gender equality manager” in any settings (companies organizations)? These are created by paper-shufflers who knows nothing about finite earth. By setting up these positions, it increases complexity and makes thing expensive or difficult. We never have this issue 50 years ago. Life is good and less complex. People do not have to think about all this when they do things or express themselves. Now, many of those narrow-minded, single-tracked will disagree. Why single-track? It is because they can only think about how “not to offend people” but does not think about the consequences of that.

    I dare say that 50 years ago, without political correctness, we are more efficient in getting things done. If you look back into the experiment of mouse population by Calhoun , it seems to me that this type of “political correctness” is very much similar (on the macro level) to (quote directly from Wikipedia linked above

    ” Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, increase in homosexual behavior, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against”

    We do see this type of behaviour in our society now. Note that these are mice and does not have the comprehensive capability of humans (speech and high-level cognitive thought processes), thus, you need to view it differently.

    expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, increase in homosexual behavior, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against”

    We see that in
    1. European refugee problem where locals do not seem to be bothered with the sex attacks and they still support the current leadership (although at a lower level). To me, this is like “inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against””

    2. Countries like Greece, Venezuela and countries that has strive or their quality of life is getting lower but no revolution. To me this is like “expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young”

    3. Same-gender toilets, LGBTs equality, politcal correctness, etc. To me, these are totally bullsh**. This not only does not add value to human civilization, it subtracts value from it. It makes things more complicated and this is exactly shown the Calhoun studies.

    You know how the mice in Colhoun studies end. Read the link above and do some more Google search on this interesting topic.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I am not sure why people are addicted to facebook… when there is FW… this is far more addictive than the highest grade of heroin …. that said I have not tried heroin … but I am sure it feels good.

    • Ert says:


      Thanks for bringing this aspect up – totally agree with your view / analogies.

      Wikipedia states regarding the outcome of the experiment: “The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.”

      Which may be not that bad of an outcome…. and:

      “Calhoun saw the fate of the population of mice as a metaphor for the potential fate of man..

      I mean in the developed world… most niches are filled, so that “stupid” jobs have been generated that produce no real value to the system – but are a burden to it. And a lot of “productive” jobs make no real sense either…. developing the next gadget with 3 new buttons or menus, or the new, even better “Social-App”. All this then made possible by the fossil fuel revolution of or agriculture and more….

      Still, I think that resource-deprivation will hit us before the total social breakdown 😉

      • CTG says:

        Wikipedia states regarding the outcome of the experiment: “The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in COMPLEX social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.”

        The keyword is COMPLEX. Our social behaviour as a early primate, homo erectus, primitive civilization even up to the stage of Romans are much much much less complex than now.

        • Ert says:


          Sometimes I think our life now is more COMPLICATED and the social life and the subtleties of more ancient cultures (meaning the citizens not slaves 😉 where much more complex that ours today.

      • Stefeun says:

        See also the page about “Behavioral Sink” (still about Calhoun’s experiment on rats):

        Would that mean that we’re genetically programmed for self-destruction once the expansion/growth is no longer possible?
        And this, even in absence of any problem due to resource scarcity or pollution…?

        It may not be our most urgent problem, but it’s already playing a role in the failure process of our society, undoubtedly.

        • Craig Dilworth in the book “Too Smart for Our Own Good” lists several examples of ways populations of animals are kept in control, such as territoriality. He also lists studies showing that animals do poorly when too crowded. I expect that some of these issues are affecting young people today.

        • Christian says:

          It’s interesting the rats didn’t avoided overcrowding but most exacerbated it by concentrating in one pen… So deeply rooted is the herd spirit?

          However, there is a big difference between rats and humans, experiments and real life:: rats are all equals reg. food supply, which is provided by the (human) experimenter; people are not equals but socially stratified, and experimenter’s role (provider of order/food) is in fact assumed by the upper/ruling class

          • Stefeun says:

            Think of our mega-cities…
            As for food distribution, I’m not so sure your medieval view is valid.

            • Christian says:

              Mega-cities, yes… We live in a 10k people town and we go to “big” Córdoba city (a million) something like a couple of times each month. A year ago my kid asked once when we were there “why is it there are so much houses altogether here, is it they are in love with each other?” I don’t know how, because I like big cities, but he got a bit of sense of strangeness reg. human accumulation, which could be good for him

              What I wanted to highlight reg. food is that we have no experimenter/God, or that the God function is rather hold by a class, a segment of the society (central bankers are often mentioned here, but they’re not the only ones). We are not equals, that’s for sure. You say it’s medieval… I don’t know if there were food stamps in the Middle Ages

            • DJ says:

              When food is getting scarce, the poorer will not starve but eat mostly caloridense unhealthy food.

              At some point society will not be able to afford healthcare for lifestyle diseases of the un/deremployed.

            • Stefeun says:

              Junk food is produced by a small bunch of highly financialized corporations (as shown earlier in a chart), that will likely be among the first dismantled after TSHTF. I doubt that highly processed carbohydrates will be available for very long.

            • DJ says:

              But before SHTF it will be more and more processed food. Apparentely wheat record this year.

    • You have touched upon important point, the societies indeed slowly rot from the inside.

      For example, lets take post revolutionary – Napoleonic France, the sudden gigantic blood and genetic deficiency after the end of their futile attempt to rule over the European continent helped surely shape future events. Two generations after that, the loss against reuniting Germany around 1870s made them definitely a second-third tier power (keeping some foreign colonies till WW2 and nukes or not), further rotting process by the end of WWI-WWII, fast forward today with millions of migrants in ghettos, which the central/regional gov no longer controls. Nowadays it’s a very different country, and it took only few hundred years.

      You pick an average/ordinary French person, ~30yrs old, and compare contrast to a young Turk, Iranian, or Chinese.., sorry for simplification but it’s staggering difference, no will power, atrophied physiognomy and intellect, and so on..

      It’s a classic up-down pattern, most of the north/west in serious internal decay, the “ascending nations” perhaps might not exactly roll over Beethoven, but will surely roll over the weak and stupid. The fact we at at the same time could enter global systemic collapse/reset doesn’t negate the point. I’d say it’s sheer lunacy to stay for longhaul (kids and grandkids) inside most of the old continent.

      • Ert says:

        ” I’d say it’s sheer lunacy to stay for longhaul (kids and grandkids) inside most of the old continent.”

        Agreed – the collapse of the EU is only a question of time. Also the “mass-“migration off mostly unskilled people we already see now in the EU is not curtailed at all or with any definitive means. All this increases the burden on the (social, organizational and political) systems and will accelerate the internal collapse of (most of the) the EU members.

        If one in Germany (for example) openly questions any of that (especially mass-immigration, the official political agenda) one is immediately outcast in media, politics or even one looses his job. Also small business owner which position them-self clearly are attacked by the very (and ideologicalized) youngsters of the growing up generation which may think that their living standard has not to be earned and is their birth right.

        • Official announcement just in : the German industry found employable ~50 migrants out of 1M+ so far.

          It’s clear the plan is not working on most of the agendas why they stupidly let it happen, the idea was to crush or at least push severe pressure on labor unions, shift the unfavorable demographics trending towards deflation, instigate fear and chaos so people “automatically” rush into the corporate-fascist state support structures, etc.

          • xabier says:


            The alternative for Germany would have been to take the unemployed and desperate young from Spain, France and Italy, Sweden, Eastern Europe, etc. There are a lot of them!

            But one can see that it would have accelerated the demographic collapse in those countries, which are already ageing at an unmanageable rate.

            So, the aliens are the only option for a rapid injection of new ‘labour’ on the scale required. Pity about their total lack of suitability….

            Europe is going to burn. I’m not at all looking forward to the racial explosion which is building.

            • DJ says:

              Good thing we’re not producers anymore, only consumers and voters. I am certain our new europeans can vote and consume (given som *flop* *flop* money).

          • Doesn’t sound good!

          • Christian says:

            I am a German citizen also, because of my grandfather (while I don’t speak the language). If I was living there… I’d be asking to put Merkel on a treason trial

    • psile says:

      One of my favourite studies in the breakdown of overcrowded societies.

    • Tango Oscar says:

      I came to this same conclusion myself a few months ago. American and Westernized culture bases almost all of their views on ethics as if we lived in an infinite world, therefore ethics are mostly meaningless. It’s all fine and dandy to encourage everyone to share and be nice with each other but now that the pie is shrinking we’re about to see civil rights and “liberties” shrink in a way that most of these current generations cannot fathom. /popcorn

    • A Real Black Person says:

      I consider my self socially liberal…but the EFFORT generally pampered and affluent whites are throwing at to promote SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE rather than TOLERANCE is irritating . This effort suggests to me that they must serve as distraction from really pressing problems, or its a symptom of boredom . I had a hypothesis that maybe social justice was relevant to the elite early on, but I soon realized that when someone has enough money or status within a society, that allows that person to do almost whatever they want openly without fear of reprisal for violating social norms.

      I do think the rat experiment is very relevant to ….Same-gender toilets, LGBTs equality, politcal correctness, …the social justice movement.

      ” aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males ” describes Third-Wave Feminism, and the rise of the Metrosexual to a tee.
      any people have picked up on the changes…women acting too much like men, men acting more like women…but no one can say why this is happening.

      There were always LGBT people but something is really different now…than let’s say in 1972, or 1902…something has reached ‘critical mass’…quite literally.

      • DJ says:

        The leftists will never be content.

        • A Real Black Person says:

          The whole thing is insulting to one’s intelligence. It’s the people who are benefiting the most from privilege…from current affirmative action…middle class (and up) women… who are clamoring the loudest for “social justice”. When a woman concerned with social justice told me her career aspirations, a few months ago, I told her her career was a posh career….it was not a career the average person could realistically aspire to. It didn’t require a lot of of merit but her career aspirations did require lot of connections….and the right credential..she had no rebuttal for my response other than denial. The whole class things flies over their head. None of them are willing to pay more taxes, or become really poor instead of pretend poor, so that the poor can consume more, and therefore be less poor.

          But you know what…it is easy. It’s easy to change a male bathroom to a gender-neutral bathroom or allow a small number of trans people to use the bathroom they prefer than to use than to address real issues privilege…that would threaten their relatively comfortable lives.

          It’s like a secular ideological cause… it’s attracted a lot of people who may have mental issues (even they admit a person who identifies as a animal has serious issues) and has given them a cause to focus on.

          So, yeah, like Uber, Telsa Motors, and Facebook ,”social justice” is low-hanging fruit amidst a shrinking pie . It makes people look productive on the surface. Politicians who respond to this crud look like they are ” responding to voter sentiment”.

  30. Malcolm says:

    Surely the future of renewable energy, if there is one, lies in local, small scale, not the grid. Small scale local solutions and communities will be the future as industrial civilization winds down.

    • Artleads says:

      Although some things–nuclear cooling ponds, for instance–can’t be managed without a high level of industrial and technical sophistication. And many renewables cost too much money-wise and planet-wise. And the sophisticated technologies have to be gotten rid of if small groups are to use them.

      And I have this weird idea of the need for American global hegemony. Requiring a dominant military. How can that be afforded? Maybe with a consortium of other fairly big militaries, the force will be way too great to even considering challenging? And so can reduce its costs?

      At the same time, I entirely agree about small communities, and have been posting about that for some time. Dmitry Orlov and “150 Strong” is a source.

      Some things just seem to require money, but money as debt doesn’t appear to have much future. How do you get done those things that small groups can’t do for themselves? Basic tools and medicines are examples. I don’t want to give up anything–neither the new possibilities nor the old conveniences (and necessities).

      Is this situation confusing situation or what?

    • I agree that the future of renewable energy, if there is one, likely lies in local, small scale, not the grid.

      A group of surviving individuals may well use renewable energy of various sorts (mostly wood, but perhaps for a while solar panels with batteries) for energy supply. It is the idea that the system can be made to operate at a huge level, and integrate with what we have now, that is crazy.

  31. Christian says:

    Scarcity is an obvious path to creativity… Now, with you ladies and gentlemen, helicopter culture:

  32. Pound Sterling says:

    It is perhaps poetic and ironic that the collapse of civilization should accompany the age of fossil fuels.

    After all, fossil fuels are dead things from long ago dug up. They are death spread on the land and released into the air.

    In Paleolothic times when we were all hunter-gathers, we used to harvest life and we lived (and died as did what we consumed). In Neolithic times, we took and we planted life. We took and we put back what we took out. In the Metal ages, we had a massive fight (not saying that we were pacifists before that, obviously).

    Fire always lurked in the backgroud, Destruction incarnate.

    Death has joined in pact with Destruction.

    In the Fossil fuel age, and industrialism, we dug up all the death, joined it with fire, and spread it all over the soil and chucked it all in the air. We plundered the place hard.

    We made chemical fertilisers, spread death on the soil and killed it all. We spread death in the air and polluted it all and warmed it up.

    Yes, arguably the Fossil fuel age is the age when Death manifest upon the earth. Scythe in hand. Death trod the world and was given free reign over all living things. Like a Horseman.

    Death, Destruction, War and…

    • welcome to cheeryville

      • hkeithhenson says:

        If we do survive for another 20 years of more or less BAU, that takes human civilization out to where some people (Ray Kurzweil and company) see a much stranger fate than starving. It’s relatively easy to see collapse since we know that happened to the Roman empire, the Norse in Greenland and Easter Island. But there is no president for an AI and nanotechnology takeoff.

        Think zombies are a problem? The friendly AIs may eat our brains, Hope they ask first.

        • psile says:

          And here we have the “Singularity Jesus” disciple.

        • Artleads says:

          I think this is something to be concerned about, and more likely than back-to-the-stone age scenarios. The AI folks are very advanced in their madness, and they are now part of the deep state. Be very afraid.

        • Stefeun says:

          “The friendly AIs may eat our brains”
          There won’t be much left for their hunger, as we’ve already externalized most of our conscious functions.

    • Tim Groves says:

      This is what life does. When the opportunity presents itself, it runs riot.

      When the oceanic cyanobacteria discovered the wonders of photosynthesis, they began to produce more oxygen than the existing sinks could absorb, causing the gas to began to build up in the air to the point where it wiped out most of the Earth’s anaerobic inhabitants.

      If they had moderated their behavior in order to save the anaerobes, we wouldn’t be here to lament or curse our wretchedness.

      Humans are a good deal more complex than bacteria, but no better our moderating their collective behavior. If some of us moderate our behavior in order to save something, somebody else is likely to take up the slack. Result: ongoing systemic crisis.

      • Artleads says:

        “If some of us moderate our behavior in order to save something, somebody else is likely to take up the slack.”

        Probably not. We only have one world. Too much CO2 in it is bad for us. You can measure the CO2 (sort of). Deforestation wipes out our collective lungs. You can measure deforestation. Same with top soil and other critical environmental factors. This set of circumstances have never been present before. For the first time ever the measurements as to whether we are killing or redeeming ourselves are perfectly clear, and should be even for idiots (even greedy idiots).

        • Tango Oscar says:

          See this on how the oceans have been absorbing 90% of the AGW that we’ve already been experiencing. Easily the most descriptive, horrifying, and clear paper I’ve looked over in years. It appears we’ve already locked in 25 to 75 feet of sea level rise and 2-3 C of warming, easily enough to cause our extinction. The oceans don’t look like they’re going to be tolerating much more, which is why we’ve been seeing more rapid heating of the air now.

      • Artleads says:

        “If some of us moderate our behavior in order to save something, somebody else is likely to take up the slack.”

        Not necessarily. As a species we’ve never been clear before that we live in a finite world. We also have the measurements now for what we are collectively doing to harm ourselves. This could make for an increase in rational thought.

        • Tango Oscar says:

          He’s referring to the tragedy of the commons. While it does have some merit to it in our consumer-driven society, it’s also largely routed in propaganda in order to encourage mindless consumption. Tim’s outlook on life is largely a byproduct of Western culture.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Correct TA! I was referring to the tragedy of the commons. Resources that are in demand tend to get exploited regardless of whether some people elect not to join in. Putting them legally off-limits can make a difference but it’s no guarantee that they won’t be used.

            And also correct, my outlook is largely a byproduct of 20th century Western culture, of which I am a product, but I also admit to significant Zen, Taoist and Sufi influence.

            I deplore “mindless consumption” as much as the next mindful consumer. But I also recognize that without consumption at around current levels, BAU would collapse with potentially catastrophic consequences for billions of people. It would be great if we could move to a saner system, but I don’t have a route map for getting there, and I doubt that the mindless consumers would wan to go there in any case.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Resources, whatever they may be, definitely get exploited within the current framework of this system. Humans will use anything they can so conservation is more or less meaningless. A lot of that has to do with education, culture, society, and all of the lies we’ve been fed from authority and “leaders.”

              I originally held the position that The Tragedy of the Commons was infallible however I believe it is possible to not see the world in dollar signs. If we didn’t equate everyTHING as having some sort of value then we might not feel the need to claim ownership. We’ve ruined any chances of that in this lifetime however. Everything will be burnt to the ground or consumed so long as there are humans alive. Once the door to “an easier life” is opened it’s quite the Pandora’s box.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Ode to BAU…. (working title)