How Researchers Could Miss the Real Energy Story

I have been telling a fairly different energy story from most energy researchers. How could I possibly be correct? What have other researchers been missing?

The “standard” approach is to start from the amount of resources that we have of a particular type, for example, oil in the ground, and see how far these resources will go. Growing development of technology seems to allow increasing amounts of these resources to be extracted. Thus, limits seem to be farther and farther in the distance, especially if a person starts out with an optimistic bias. It is easy to get this optimistic bias, with all research funds going in the direction of, “What can we do to solve our energy problems?”

Approaches for forecasting future supply problems that start from the amount of resources in the ground suffer from the problem that it is hard to draw a sharp line regarding when we will run into difficulties. It is clear that at some point, there will be a problem–EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Investment) will be too low–but exactly when is hard to pinpoint. If a person starts from an optimistic viewpoint, it is easy to assume that as long as Energy Output is greater than Energy Input for a given process, that process must be helpful for solving our energy problem.

In fact, in my opinion, the story is very different. The very thing that should be saving us–technology–has side effects that bring the whole system down. 

The only way we can keep adding technology is by adding more capital goods, more specialization, and more advanced education for selected members of society. The problem, as we should know from research regarding historical economies that have collapsed, is that more complexity ultimately leads to collapse because it leads to huge wage disparity. (See TainterTurchin and Nefedov.) Ultimately, the people at the bottom of the hierarchy cannot afford the output of the economy. Added debt at lower interest rates can only partially offset this problem. Governments cannot collect enough taxes from the large number of people at the bottom of the hierarchy, even though the top 1% may flourish. The economy tends to collapse because of the side effects of greater complexity.

Our economy is a networked system, so it should not be surprising that there is more than one way for the system to reach its end.

Slide 5

Figure 1

I have described the problem that really brings down the economy as “too low return on human labor,” at least for those at the bottom of the hierarchy. The wages of the non-elite are too low to provide an adequate standard of living. In a sense, this is a situation of too low EROEI: too low return on human energy. Most energy researchers have been looking at a very different kind of EROEI: a calculation based on the investment of fossil fuel energy. The two kinds of EROEI are related, but not very closely. Many economies have collapsed, without ever using fossil fuel energy,

While what I call “fossil fuel EROEI” was a reasonable starting place for an analysis of our energy problems back in the 1970s, the calculation now gets more emphasis than it truly deserves. The limit we are reaching is a different one: falling return on human labor EROEI, at least for those who are not among the elite. Increasing wage disparity is becoming a severe problem now; it is the reason we have very divisive candidates running for political office, and many people in favor of reduced globalization.

Overly Simple Models Give Misleading Answers

People who don’t work with models very much can easily assume that a model is telling them more than it really is. I discussed this issue in my recent article Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers. It is quite possible to make a model that works some of the time, but not always. A researcher who is unaware of this problem is likely to overuse the model. As the saying goes, “If a person’s only tool is a hammer, every problem is a nail.”

If a system has multiple parts to it, as is the case with the system that controls energy extraction and energy prices, it is likely that a fairly complex model is needed to make a model that really represents the situation. The earliest models were in a sense one dimensional, when they needed to be multi-dimensional. With these additional dimensions, the model would include such characteristics as the fact that demand is controlled by a financial system, and the fact that the level of demand (and thus prices) depends on the ability of even the lowest-paid workers to afford the output of the system.

The model could also include what is essentially a physics problem–if there is not enough energy to go around, the usual solution is “more technology” or “more complexity.” What more technology and more complexity add is more concentrations of energy in various ways: in capital goods such as machinery and vehicles, in larger businesses to own these devices, in high-paid management officials, and in workers with specialized training.

These concentrations of energy are what lead to wealth disparity–some people “own” businesses and capital goods, and some people (but not others) receive advanced education or other specialized training. All of these things allow a relatively small number of privileged people to receive a greater share of the output of the economy. This leaves less for the rest.

As the result of this wage disparity, the economy ends up with too many people either dropping out of the work force, or earning low wages. It is lack of the ability of these people to afford the output of the economy that brings the economy down. Demand is closely related to affordability of goods made using fossil fuels, such as homes and cars. Many people miss the connection between demand and affordability.

Of course, if we didn’t have this falling demand problem (or low price problem) caused by increased concentrations of wealth leaving too large a share of the population too poor, we would eventually get to something similar to the problem that many have been concerned about: fossil fuel EROEI would eventually fall too low.

Hubbert Tells Part of the Story

When talking about resource limits, the thing that tends to confuse most people is the large quantity of energy resources that seems to be available. We can get some of these resources out with today’s technology. Logic would seem to suggest that with improved technology, we should be able to keep moving on to increasingly difficult-to-extract fossil fuel resources. We should also be able to create increasing quantities of substitutes.

M. King Hubbert gave an answer that only went partway in telling the extent of our problems. Basically, he said that once we had extracted 50% of a particular resource, the quantity we could extract would tend to decline in a more or less symmetric curve.

Figure 2. M. King Hubbert symmetric curve from Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

Figure 2. M. King Hubbert’s indicated symmetric curve of resource extraction from Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, published in 1956.

Hubbert described the situation of a single well or field, when there were other wells or fields taking the place of the wells and fields depleting. In this situation, demand (and thus price) stays pretty much the same. If investment in the well remains the same, production will tend to follow a symmetric curve.

We are clearly reaching a different limit at this time. We have a two-way tug:

  1. Low demand. We have wages that show increasing disparity. Wealthy people tend to spend their incomes on goods that are not very energy-intensive, such as education and financial services, while less wealthy people tend to spend a larger share of their incomes on energy-intensive products such as food, basic transportation, and basic housing. Thus, this shift in wage patterns tends to reduce energy demand, and thus energy prices.
  2. Government attempts to fix low demand. Low demand leads to low economic growth, so governments and central banks are doing everything that they can to raise demand. Their approaches include ultra-low interest rates and deficit spending. The hope is that even if citizens don’t have sufficient wages to buy expensive goods such as cars and homes, the additional debt at low interest rates will make these goods, more affordable and thus spur demand.

We can keep increasing oil and other fossil fuel extraction, as long as our current system continues to “work.” In particular, prices need to be high enough for those extracting oil to make a reasonable profit, to cover reinvestment needs. The profit has to be high enough, too, so that the companies can pay taxes to their governments, so that governments can continue programs that mostly benefit the 99% of the citizens who don’t have high incomes. This is a major way that the net energy that is generated by fossil fuels gets back to benefit the government and the many poorer citizens who benefit from government programs.

Misinterpretation of Hubbert by Peak Oilers and The Powers That Be

Neither Peak Oilers nor The Powers That Be (TPTB) figured out the real story. The Peak Oilers were “tripped up” by the overly simple model problem I described above. They assumed that 50% of remaining fossil fuels could be extracted after peak, regardless of whatever other circumstances might hold. Economists provided one part of this overly simple model: they postulated that if there were a shortage of some product, prices would rise. This view is true when there is not too much wage disparity, but it is not true in general.

The combination of these overly simple assumptions leads to the belief that we can continue to pump quite a lot of fossil fuels, even after the decline begins. These remaining fossil fuels together with renewables can lead to some sort of civilization at a lower level after collapse. High prices will point the way to economizing.

TPTB were even more confused. They listened only to economists, with their overly simple model about future prices, and paid no attention to Hubbert and his message that extraction would become more difficult after 50% of a given resource was extracted. Instead, they assumed that the recent pattern of adding new extraction at ever-higher cost would continue indefinitely, as a result of improved technology. Prices would probably rise moderately, as well.

Figure 3. Figure from Jeremy Grantham article published on The Oil Drum in 2011.

Figure 3. Figure from Jeremy Grantham article published on The Oil Drum in 2011.

Figure 4. US crude oil production, separated into tight oil (from shale formations), oil from Alaska, and other oil, based on EIA data.

Figure 4. US crude oil production, separated into tight oil (from shale formations), oil from Alaska, and other oil, based on EIA data.

If there is an increasing wage disparity problem, the whole idea of ever-rising prices because of more technology doesn’t really work. At some point, there is an affordability problem, leading to low prices rather than high prices. Ever more debt at lower interest rates cannot cover up a problem of stagnating wages for the masses.

What Does Falling Fossil Fuel EROEI Tell Us?

Quite a few commenters on like to use “falling EROEI” as a synonym for “reaching diminishing returns.” EROEI (really “fossil fuel EROEI”) as developed by Energy Researcher Charles Hall, is calculated by dividing “Energy Produced” by “Fossil Fuel Energy Used to Deliver that Energy.” The easiest-to-extract oil or coal or natural gas tends to be extracted first, and the later-to-be-produced fuel tends to have lower EROEI. Thus, lower EROEI is a handy numerical way of quantifying diminishing returns with respect to the production of energy using fossil fuel inputs.

The Paradox of Falling Energy Consumption Relative to GDP, Despite Falling EROEIs

We quickly get to a paradox: if falling EROEI is raising the cost of extraction for all fossil fuels, are we using an increasing share of the output of the economy for energy production? The answer for historical periods has been, “No.” Energy Researcher Carey King has reported on this in an academic paper.

Figure 5. Figure by Carey King from "Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics Part 3: Macroeconomic Historical and Future Perspectives," published in Energies in Nov. 2015.

Figure 5. Figure by Carey King from “Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics Part 3: Macroeconomic Historical and Future Perspectives,” published in Energies in Nov. 2015.

In fact, recent United Nations’ research seems to indicate that this pattern of falling energy consumption as a percentage of GDP continues to hold through 2013 for the world as a whole:

Figure 6 shows that the bottom two sectors, namely “Agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing,” and “Mining and utilities” continue to fall to lower levels as a percentage of the world economy, through the last year shown, 2013.

The way that these falling percentages seem to take place is through rebalancing of energy supply toward countries with a lower-cost energy mix. See the Appendix for more information on how this seems to occur.

Aude Illig and Ian Schindler, who are specialists in mathematics and economics working at the Toulouse School of Economics, have been examining how oil prices can be expected to behave, both before and after the share of the world’s resources  devoted to energy extraction hits the low point (nadir) and begins rising again, if Figures 5 and 6 were extended forward. They explain their findings in a working paper called Oil Extraction and Price Dynamics. It shows that prior to the nadir, oil prices can be expected to generally rise, with some temporary spikes. Once we are past the nadir, the dynamics are the opposite. Prices tend to fall, exacerbating the decline.

Does US Drilling for Oil Add to US Industrial Energy Consumption? 

One of the commenters on recently asked what impact the rise and fall of US oil production would have on US energy consumption. In his view, if extraction of oil from shale has low EROEI, surely US industrial consumption of oil or of total energy must rise and fall in response to the greater production. When we looked, any impact seemed to be too small to measure (Figure 7).

Figure 3. Comparison of US oil extraction with industrial consumption of total energy and of oil by itself, based on EIA data (monthly amounts).

Figure 7. Comparison of US oil extraction with industrial consumption of total energy and of oil by itself, based on EIA data (monthly amounts, converted to average daily amounts).

Transportation energy is not included in industrial energy, so we looked at diesel energy consumption, to see whether it had changed materially in response to all of the drilling activity. Again, it was hard to discern any impact (Figure 8).

Comparison of US oil produced with diesel plus residual fuel oil consumed, based on EIA data. Monthly data, converted to daily averages. (Residual fuel oil combined with diesel, because of law changes on types of fuel ships can use.)

Figure 8. Comparison of US oil produced with diesel plus residual fuel oil consumed, based on EIA data. Monthly data, converted to daily averages. (Residual fuel oil combined with diesel, because of law change on types of fuel ships can use.)

Thinking about the situation, the energy consumed is quite possibly not consumed in the US. For example, a great deal of steel pipeline will be used. This pipeline could be made with coal and imported from China. The timing could vary as well, if the pipeline and the machines drilling the wells were made some time in advance. Some natural gas or oil is no doubt burned when wells are drilled, but, in the whole scheme of things, the amount isn’t large enough to cause even a tiny hump in the data.

If we think about the situation, it is not really the “energy consumed” (and thus EROEI) that affects “demand.” Instead, it is the selling price of the oil that affects demand for energy products. This selling price of oil is shared many ways. This selling price includes not only the direct cost of energy used in extraction, but many other costs, as well: wages, leases, dividends, royalties and taxes of various sorts. In many cases, the royalties and taxes go to provide benefits for the non-elite–in other words, the 99%. The selling price acts as stimulus for the entire world economy, not just the part related to EROEI.

If the price of oil drops, what tends to be cut first is taxes–the money that goes to help the non-elite 99% of the economy. Besides taxes, wages and pension benefits tend to be cut very early, in an attempt to keep the company operating. These comprise a large share of costs, so are easy to cut. Strange as it may seem, oil extraction may not be cut back, even in bankruptcy. Creditors want as much value to be retained as possible after bankruptcy.

So What Does EROEI Tell Us?

EROEI as a way of allocating limited fossil fuel energy supplies. One way of thinking about EROEI is that it can be used to show the optimal way of stretching a given supply of fossil fuels; all a person needs to do is select new approaches for producing energy products with the highest EROEI values, to be able to leverage available fossil fuels as much as possible.

The EROEI calculation seems to be oriented in the direction of allocating scarce resources. Energy is counted using its Btu value. Thus, oil is viewed as having the same “value” as coal (based on its Btu content), and intermittent electricity is viewed as having the same value as electricity that is suitable for distribution to customers. Since the focus is on fossil fuels “running out,” some researchers leave out hydroelectric power from EROEI calculations; it does not represent the use of fossil fuel energy. Human labor is generally left out, as are taxes, interest payments, lease payments, and many other components of costs.

“Boundaries” on what energy inputs are to be included vary considerably from researcher to researcher, making comparisons among analyses difficult. For example, is energy used in the irrigation of biofuel crops included in calculations? Reports prepared by researchers from certain universities tend to give higher EROEIs than those from other universities. There is sometimes a suspicion that the funding source for a particular university biases the results of its EROEI calculations. This situation is not too different from the independence problems experienced in other types of academic studies.

Back door to estimating costs. EROEI can also be considered as a backdoor approach for estimating the approximate cost of extraction. Researchers working in a university are unlikely to be able to obtain information on the true total cost of extraction. On the other hand, if they can develop a new metric, they have the possibility of building a tool that they can keep updating with company information. There seems to have been early hope that the new metric would be more objective than other available cost information.

Doesn’t behave like the cost metric we are used to. There often is an economic reason to make a highly valued liquid fuel from less valuable coal or natural gas, but the calculation does not take this into account. This is one reason that the EROEIs for ethanol tend to be very low; ethanol production tends to use quite a bit of electricity from coal or natural gas to produce somewhat higher-valued ethanol.

Another catch in trying to use EROEI for comparison purposes is that EROEIs for capital goods (such as wind and solar) behave differently from EROEIs of fuels that are burned. With capital goods, society first “digs an EROEI hole,” and over time, must dig itself out. (I expect that this is one of the reasons for our debt problem.) Energy Researcher Graham Palmer has developed “Dynamic EROEI” to deal with this problem.

Figure 7. Graham Palmer's chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from "Energy in Australia."

Figure 9. My explanation of Graham Palmer’s chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from “Energy in Australia.”

Wind and solar have a second problem, besides the use of capital goods problem, and that is an intermittency problem that is difficult for the grid to correct, especially when more than a small amount is added to the grid. In Figure 9, Graham Palmer has added batteries, and replaced them three times during the 30-year lifetime of the solar panels, to correct the intermittency problem. I would argue that other costs should also be included–the cost of building and operating an inverter and replacement inverter(s), for example, plus any type of installation costs.

Interest costs are not typically included in EROEI calculations, but it would seem like they should be, whenever the delivery of energy is substantially delayed, as it is when some type of capital good is used to capture energy from the sun.

Alternatively, instead of adding battery costs, it would theoretically be possible to revise the calculation to include the energy cost of adjusting the electric grid to handle the intermittency. All of these issues have to do with selecting proper “boundaries” for the calculation.

Intermittent Renewables Seem to Give Funding to the 1% and Raise Costs for the 99%, Unlike Fossil Fuels

Something that we don’t often think about is that individual types of energy production can be evaluated from the point of view of the extent to which they provide funding for the 99%, versus funding for the elite 1%. EROEI, of course, cannot consider this at all.

Fossil fuels would seem to favor the 99% because the fossil fuel industry has traditionally has been heavy payers of taxes. These taxes go to help the vast majority. It is rare to find reports showing taxes paid by fossil fuel producers, however. Instead, reports tend to show subsidies, which are offsets to the high tax payments. These offsets are frequently payments for such purposes as helping low income people pay their winter heating bills. While these payments are called “subsidies,” in a true sense they are often ways of helping the 99%.

Wind and solar tend to be financed in the US with tax credits. These tax credits help concentrate wealth among the already wealthy. In Europe, the high cost of intermittent renewables tends to be paid by individual households. This leads to a situation where businesses, and the owners and operators of these businesses, benefit at the expense of those who are financially less well off.

The debt level with wind and solar (and all of their related paraphernalia that often gets left out of EROEI calculations) also tends to be high. Interest on this debt transfers money from the 99% to the 1%. The grid likely will need upgrading to handle intermittent renewables. This cost, too, will be borne by the 99% through higher electricity rates or higher taxes.

What Should the Role of EROEI Be?

EROEI is now well established as a tool to try to see how much energy is being consumed in making an energy product. I think that many people have expectations for EROEI beyond what it really can do. For example, I don’t think that EROEI calculations can predict when the economy will collapse, because the mechanics for reaching collapse come from a different direction–namely, increasing wage disparity and low commodity prices.

EROEI doesn’t consider whether a high-valued product is being used to produce a low-valued product, or vice versa. The solution here is to look at the actual cost involved in producing the energy product, as a supplement to EROEI calculations. This is important if our real energy problem is high cost and lack of affordability, rather than “running out” of fossil fuels.

EROEI calculations also are not designed to look at the required growth in debt, and the required transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%. Clearly, it would be helpful to add some new tools to the tool set, to look at these problems.

As a check on whether EROEI calculations are really producing reasonable results, any energy product that is producing net energy should be able to support the government with taxes, rather than being dependent on subsidies. If an energy product is dependent upon continued subsidies, this should be considered as likely evidence that it is, in fact, a net energy sink.

EROEI studies do have a continued role, but they need to be used with care.

How Did I Get Involved in this Whole Discussion?

I have been what a person might call a “financial detective” for a long time. I started working for CNA Insurance Group as an actuarial trainee in 1970. This was about the time that inflation started to affect insurance companies. After I had been at CNA only a short time, I was the one who figured out how inflation would affect reserves set by claims adjustors. When my predictions proved to be correct, my supervisors were very surprised; they had never considered the possibility that there would be an impact.

I soon moved on to a smaller insurance company, where I reported directly to the president of the company. The position was supposed to report to a lower level in the organization, but the president was shocked at what I had been able to figure out about the company from its financial statements, and decided he wanted me to report to him instead. As a result, I had an opportunity to see the impact of the 1973-1974 oil price spike on an insurance company, from a front-row seat. I also got a chance to see what impact rapidly changing interest rates had on an insurance company. I later went back to CNA, and observed the problems they were also having.

I later moved into consulting. I was always the “go-to” person for trying to figure out answers to questions that had never come up before. If someone needed a model for something really weird, they would come to me. I would often develop material for expert witness assignments. When new companies were set up, I would set up models of how they might be expected to behave under various scenarios. I worked a lot with “long tail” business, where claims were reported and paid long after the time an injury occurred.

I didn’t get involved with oil limits until 2005, and began writing articles about it in 2006. I was near the age where I could take early retirement, so I left in 2007, with the plan to look into the subject further. Editors at The Oil Drum saw some of my articles, and invited me to write articles for them, under the pen name Gail the Actuary. Not too much later, they asked me to be an editor. I soon found myself corresponding with authors, fixing mistakes in articles, and becoming acquainted with many people in the energy field.

One of the articles I wrote fairly early was Peak Oil and the Financial Markets: A Forecast for 2008. In it, I forecast the 2008 financial crash. Prof. Charles Hall (of EROEI fame) saw the post, and invited me to come to Syracuse, New York, and give a presentation at the next Biophysical Economics Conference. I soon met many other researchers, either through the Biophysical Economics community, or through my work at The Oil Drum. I was invited to give many talks, including one in Barcelona, Spain, in 2010, which ultimately led to the publishing of my article Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis in the journal Energy. All of this further led to my becoming more involved with the research and journal end of the oil limits story. I now get quite a few invitations related to the research end of my work.

One of the things that led to conflict between the Peak Oil community and me was that I wasn’t really telling the “Peak Oil” story. I was telling something different. By late 2010, the conflict was sufficiently great that I started writing my articles on, and let re-publish the ones they chose to. I continued to be an editor at, however, until its close in 2013.

My general approach has been to learn as much as I can, in as many ways as possible. When various groups would want to sponsor conference phone calls, I would always participate, regardless of whether the group was a renewable group or one from the oil industry. I tend to interact with the commenters on my site, and get quite a few ideas from them. I don’t accept donations on my site, but I do accept invitations to give talks when people offer to at least pay my expenses. I also have had quite a few opportunities to visit installations of various types–geothermal as well as oil and gas. My only official affiliation is that I am Director of Energy Economics for the Space Solar Power Institute–an unpaid position.

All of this puts me in an odd position. The research community seems to accept me as one of their own. But Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute can’t understand why my view differs so much from the view that the Post Carbon Institute is trying to sponsor. He refers to me as an “energy writer” and says, “Her critiques of renewables appear to be based almost entirely on literature from fossil fuel and utility companies; she doesn’t seem to cite much data from solar and wind engineers.” I do talk to everyone. But I certainly don’t get my views from literature from fossil fuel and utility companies. I expect that having someone give a different view than PCI’s preferred view is threatening, especially if it is having an adverse impact on donations.

Appendix: How Rebalancing of Energy Supply Occurs

How does rebalancing of energy supplies occur? The answer seems to be, “Expansion of economies that use a fuel mix that is disproportionately weighted toward cheaper fuels, and contraction of economies that use more expensive fuels.”

This following slide shows a simple grouping of fuels I made based on my perception of which fuels are more or less expensive.

Appendix, Figure 1. Slide showing groupings of low, medium, and high priced fuels.

Appendix, Figure 1. Slide showing groupings of low, medium, and high priced fuels.

Growth in energy consumption seems to take place almost entirely in parts of the world that use a disproportionate amount of low-priced fuel. These countries also tend to have low wages, to go with the low fuel costs.

Figure 8. Note that the scales of the last three slides are all the same. Also note that the last of the four groupings is World Minus US Minus EU. It its thus the remainder of the world grouping.

Appendix, Figure 2. Note that the scales of the last three slides are all the same. Also note that the last of the four groupings is World Minus US Minus EU. It its thus the remainder of the world grouping.

What happens is that the world’s energy mix rebalances away from the countries that use a large share of high-cost fuels in their energy mix.

Figure 9.

Appendix, Figure 3.

In the end, the low-cost fuels (coal and hydroelectric) hold their own, as a share of total production; countries using a disproportionate share of high-cost fuels tend to lose out in the world marketplace.

Figure 10

Appendix, Figure 4

Once the world “runs out” of cheap fuels to keep adding to the energy mix (or finds the cheap fuels too polluting), the situation changes. The world economy cannot maintain its shift in mix toward products that have a better return relative to their cost simply by rebalancing toward countries with a lower-cost fuel mix.

Instead, the price of energy products must fall below the cost of production, to maintain this pattern. We seem to be seeing such a drop in prices below the cost of production, starting in 2014. Proving that this is the reason for the price drop might be difficult, but it certainly is a strong suspicion.

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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1,836 Responses to How Researchers Could Miss the Real Energy Story

  1. Christian says:

    Stef, Auzanneau delivered a new piece on Trump. Not that bad

    • Stefeun says:

      Yes, Christian,
      Good summary, but nothing we didn’t already know.

      Looking forward to reading part 2, in which he promises to explain in what Trumpanomics will speed up our race to the cliff (although he never speaks openly about collapse).

      • Christian says:

        Yes, I’m expectant as well. He is now heading the SHIFT project, but it’s energy projections are quite different of what he suggests in Le Monde

        Wonder if it was him or the newspaper staff who blocked my IP from commenting on Obama’s presidential directive on nukes (but much heavier comments from me were previously allowed). It’s stupid, I could go somewhere else to do it. Wonder whether this means something, or nothing

      (reasonably understandable even for not that much fluent/advanced in French)

  2. adonis says:

    gail is absolutelly right about these flawed or wrong models after finishing reading a typical economics book on economics i could see the pattern of flawed thinking running throughout the whole book at one stage i thought bau lite could be a possibility but thiis i realise now is a pipedream , once the system unravels we go back to the stone-age with all the consequences of the terrible choices we have made in the past/ spent fuel ponds being amongst one of the worst of the many made. thank god that gail has had the fortitude and perseverance to bring these enlightening articles to us many thanks gail

  3. This article (while it ignores energy issues) is an analysis of one of gail’s favorite subjects—the unsustainability of the debt situation. Apparently it does have consequences and the folks who think governments and central banks can keep pulling fresh cash out of a magic hat are going to be in for a major shock. Also, the author has prepared a lot of graphs to illustrate what’s going on in terms a layman can grasp.

    Trump’s Plan
    Trump’s big plan is to spend more and tax less…aka run YUUUGE(er) deficits building new and rebuilding existing infrastructure with the intent of goosing economic activity or GDP (also known as Japan’s plan for the last two decades) while collapsing tax rates and tax revenue (at least in the “short” term). Perhaps Donald will push to repatriate those trillions of US corporate dollars, currently sitting abroad, at little to zero tax rates? Further, Donald wants to brand China a currency manipulator and cripple China’s export machine…but China (and Russia) appear to be getting a head start on the president elect by dumping US debt.

    In fact Donald, we have a big problem. According to the Treasury’s TIC data, on a net basis nobody is buying our debt anymore…but us. Not the Fed (at least officially), not foreigners, and the Intragovernmental buying is fast declining (due to declining excess social security funds, etc.). That leaves just US based institutional buyers (banks, pension funds, insurers, corporations) and the odd patriotic private citizen to buy up all that new and rollover debt. This means a trillion+ dollars a year will go into buying low yielding Treasury debt rather than into equities or research or capital expenditures or or or.

    If GDP grows by a half trillion annually but it takes twice as much annually, or one trillion, to buy up the new Treasury debt (new plus rollover debt)…what the hell are we talking about??? The amount of money moving in the economy would continue collapsing? So, below is a quick review that foreigners (with dollar surplus’), nor the Fed, nor a fading Social Security surplus are recycling dollars back into US Treasury’s.

    • What we can say with somewhat elevated or even high probability is that this situation, the tug of war between foreigners not buying US debt anymore, while at the same time lusting for USD trade currency like groping hordes of zombies will continue for some time. It’s not easy to massively and convincingly print into such environment as might be the case now with the fiscal spending boom pre-announced inside the US. The effects might be obfuscated and delayed but I read it as just another hand grenade into the system..

      Basically, work with the hypothesis that just whatever is possible now short term, even crazy stuff like short-lived ~4-7yrs of Americana is back in town big way mood, meme and delusion on the markets and economy..

    • I saw that article–it is interesting! It really takes increasing debt to make up for lack of wages. Of course, this silly game can’t go on forever. But for right now, it seems to give the stock market hope.

  4. Christian says:

    Do I am missing something because I am in another continent, or is it that Trump will only do a tiny bit of what he proposed? In that case, and if this is a planned op, it is a very good way to bury any hope people can have in any kind of systemic change

    • DJ says:

      A politician that lied? Yes I believe I saw his mouth move.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      He will do what his bosses tell him to do

      • Aubrey Enoch says:

        That’s right FE. He’s an avatar for the planetary consciousness of Venus. Venus is his boss. He’s going to do what ever it takes to raise the temperature or Earth to 600 degrees to make it habitable for the Venusian life form. Unlimited population growth, burn all the oil, burn all the coal and gas, burn all the forests to jack up the green house atmosphere we have going now. And then the methane from the billions of decomposing bodies of the starved and murdered will top off everything.
        We’re in the midst of a reproductive act by the Venusian life form.
        The Billionaire Overlords are trying to save Earth life by eliminating 7 billion or so consuming carbon emitters but they are delusional about their underpowered hi-tech viruses and so called inoculations. They have fooled around too long and now I’m afraid it’s too late for the good old time tested methods of population control. Our magnificent life form has made no progress in building an immunity to fire and steel, but now I think it might be too late what with that frozen methane and all. They could reduce the consumers with some H-bombs and kill the grid and get those fuel ponds going but that’s gets out of control. This heat is really something and we haven’t seen anything yet.
        It’s too late.
        I’m probably toking on Hopium to think that maybe this nonsense about going to Mars is a cover story for a campaign to send all our H-Bombs to Venus to alter some energy density parameters that are critical to the avatar beam. Even if it is too late. Fight the real enemy.
        We of The Old Religion don’t have to win to get to heaven, we just have to die trying.

        • Artleads says:

          “We of The Old Religion don’t have to win to get to heaven, we just have to die trying.”

          Not a bad way to look at it, I suppose.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I see we have a visitor from DelusiSTAN.

          You seem to not understand that the reason you have a computer and can type away wherever you are is all due to the fact that we burn fossil fuels.

          Your home and car and job and food and wonderful life – all due to fossil fuels.

          There is also the slight problem that the economy must grow – or it collapses — and you don’t have less – you have NOTHING.

          That’s the way it works — if growth stops as we all know recession hits — if a recession is not halted by the central bankers then we get a deflationary death spiral —- layoffs … less consumption … more lay offs… even less consumption ….. and so on… until the global economy just collapses.

          More growth = burning more fossil fuels…. every day … every year…. unless of course someone comes up with a new cheap energy source….

          But even that doesn’t really stop us from burning out the planet — imagine if we had a new unlimited energy source that was cheap — we’d burn out the planet even more quickly.

          As for who gives the orders — I will leave you with this to ponder…

          “I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, … The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.” Nathan Rothschild

          “Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation’s laws. … Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.” — Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister 1935-1948.

          “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” – Woodrow Wilson, after signing the Federal Reserve into existence

          “Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” ― Woodrow Wilson

          • doomphd says:

            it sounds like someone was holding a gun to old Woodrow’s head when he signed that bill into law.

            Wilson had a son that died from an infection of a blister on his foot while playing tennis. they say it was from the blue(?) dye in the socks. it was supposed to be accidental. just sayin.

    • Ed says:

      Trump will only do a tiny bit of what he promised.

      • greg machala says:

        Trump will deliver on his promises just as solar and wind power have delivered on their promises. Everywhere there are promises being offered but there is no energy to back up these promises anymore.

  5. MG says:

    What is better?

    the belief in technology of an atheist scientist


    the belief in the possibility of afterlife?

    How terribly mistaken could be those who view the human race as some independent species, not taking into account that we are just poor naked apes whose existence is dependent on the use of the stored external energy when being outside of their original Garden of Eden (i.e. the ideal temperature and resource limits), where they lived quite safely on the trees?

    Are the atheists products of technology? Well, taking into account the health of Stephen Hawking and his dependence on thechnology and external energy of others, I would say yes: the atheists are those individuals of the human species, whose life is more dependent on the technology, i.e. the individuals who are genetically mutated so much, that they would not be able to survive alone here on the Earth, not to mention in the space.

  6. Christian says:

    BIG troubles at exxon

    An interesting comment:

    “It looks like this month (Nov.) will probably be a new global oil supply record barring major disruptions anywhere. But it gets more apparent with each report they are concerned with a sudden drop in supply in the medium term (I think supply will decline gradually through 2017 but then accelerate in 2Q2018 and fall off a cliff in 2019 given current project planning. It is now becoming too late to do much that will impact supplies then and with the likelihood of low prices through next year and few attractive recent discoveries (and getting worse each quarter in that respect) there are unlikely to be many more FIDs next year than this – I think only 12 so far and more gas than oil – therefore that supply drought will probably extend through 2020. Decline rates could increase on existing fields at the same time as in-fill drilling marginal gains start to decline and the impact of reduced maintenance and brownfield spending during these low price years start to impact.”

    • Greg Machala says:

      It is amazing how much oil the global economy is consuming. Yet, the global economy is stagnant. Always need more fuel to burn than last year. No media talking-head wants to talk about this conundrum.

      • Yes, we should make a distinction between an appetite for energy in brake neck speed global growth phase ala early 2000s in contrast to just basic needs to keep the existing level of infrastructure and consumerism humming aka today. Obviously, these are not carved in stone, lot of short term volatility existing to the plus or minus side oscillations, but with at least decade based “zoom out” measurement stick this should be apparent.

        Now, we know what the economy does when “it wants” to manically grow, the energy is brought up for what ever price, this goes for some time towards a threshold. But in case of frozen and or negative demand inside bearish sub cycle, the eventual unavailability of energy due to low prices produces differently sequenced effects. So while I agree with Gail we should expect spikes/volatility in the future, lets not be surprised if we get lot of weird outcomes before (political, social, ..) and energy pricing/availability volatility increasing, spiking sort of seemingly “in unrelated fashion” later, e.g. towards 2020-25 time frame.

        • Greg Machala says:

          I think your right about “weird outcomes”. The models economists and financial institutions use are based on historical relationships (fiat currency and cheap energy). These relationships may or may not be true in a resource constrained world. Like Gail’s earlier comment about the possibility of coal peaking before oil. It is these kinds of unexpected results that will start to crop up that could overthrow the faith in the financial system. People will be blind-sided.

          • Look above for the name-Yoshua-Gail-DJ-WofHanuman coal thread,
            the possibility this starts to shape up as global explosion of demand for exportable coal seems increasing, that’s likely xxx% jump via basic trading instruments available to gambling people, incl. proverbial Chinese hairdressers trading stocks aficionados, and it’s x,xxx% level scalp hunting for the professionals.

            The next decades are going to be crazy…

    • I wish we would get better estimates of world production sooner. The EIA is only showing world production on a monthly basis through March. Even this is through its Beta report, which is not very good–overly complex, data incomplete.

  7. name says:

    “China Oct coal output down 12pct on yr”
    So far this year coal production is down 10.7% yoy. That’s equivalent of about 5 million barrels of oil per day.

  8. Yoshua says:

    The Republicans are now the White party, de facto, whether they want to be or not. American politics will never be the same.

    • Ed says:

      and when Trump can not deliver jobs?

    • Artleads says:

      There was a lot of noise about a $TR Infrastructure spending program. What are the chances of that taking place?

    • Tim Groves says:

      The devil is in the details, but it should be possible to beef up the public works budget and create lots of reasonably well paid jobs that could get a lot of people off of unemployment or welfare. One problem is getting any kind of positive return for the investment. But a lot of public spending these days is pouring money and resources into black holes of one kind or another. Look at military hardware, Tesla, particle physics… I’m sure everyone can make their own list of things that don’t give a very good return.

      Building Infrastructure rather than new smart missile systems would be a symbolic gesture that the US was concentrating its resources on improving the homeland rather than policing the world. And since it is more labor intensive than a lot of other industries, it would keep people busy working, and other people would be happy to see the improvements taking place and to see the people busy working on them. It would be a new New Deal.

      The Chinese have been mixing too much concrete for too long now and are exhausted. It’s time for the West to help take up the slack.

      Another thing the US would do well to do would be to really reform healthcare. A single-payer universal mandatory system with costs about 1/3rd of Obamacare is what most other developed countries have. And if you want extras, you can have extras.

      And then there’s student loans. A real shackle around the necks of the young. That’s another predatory industry that needs to be tamed. Some say Trump’s no better than a racketeer. I say if that’s so, it takes a thief to catch a thief. He’s probably the best man to bell these cats because, frankly, nobody else has the guts or the ability to do it.

      Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Alt Right media, but I think if we want to kick the BAU can down the road away further, Trump’s as good a choice of president as we are likely to get.

      • Artleads says:

        Hemp can grow in backyards or on the side of the road. How come it isn’t better touted as an energy and fabric source?

      • Artleads says:

        Sorry. This should have been posted instead, and the hemp link put elsewhere. I agree with almost everything you say, and appreciate that you’re saying this despite having a greater understanding of the economy. Where I may diverge:

        – With a finite amount of funding available, synergy and convergence in how projects are structured is required. Killing several birds with one stone (to use a liberal-aversive term)

        – It’s almost impossible to get clear what the ideal framework for optimizing that finite money would be. For instance, if you were to consider what you do to optimize watersheds, you might almost have to fuzzy the map on state and national boundaries.

        – I experiment with thinking of the nation as a living body with a circulatory system, finding that helps me in seeing how money might better go to keeping the body alive. I’ll post below something I wrote elsewhere about that.

        _ VK had some ideas about banks and ways to multiply the funds…

      • Artleads says:


        Supposedly, a trillion dollar infrastructure program will be the main domestic thrust of the new administration. Being a Dem idea (?) that Dems can back and that Reps now endorse, and being that the Reps have a full slate of power levers at their command, this infrastructure program, unlike its 2008 predecessor, may have adequate congressional support and therefore get somewhere. Infrastructure isn’t about what happens in the air, or in space. Infrastructure is about what happens on the land (including bodies of water), and so it relates to the entire map of the USA.


        Contrary to how government is run traditionally–one side pulling against the other–a nation is made great when all its people are pulling in the same direction. We can think of it as a body, where heart, kidney, liver, spleen, etc. work in coordination, not as independent entities at variance with the others. A trillion dollar spent on infrastructure needs to help the functions of the nation’s body to converge, achieving synchrony and synergy throughout the entire landscape of the nation. Given this perspective, we can ask how many aspects of out nation’s geographic land space can be brought together more harmoniously through an infrastructure program.


        It’s quite challenging to come up with a synergistic infrastructure for the entire nation. A trillion dollars is a piddling amount to spend on that. We should be most strategic, and try to do as many things with the small amount of money as we can. So far, the target is roads. I don’t think we need new roads. We’ve covered, eroded, compacted enough topsoil already. Oil to drive cars is in dwindling supply. There is climate change to consider. We need pedestrian-oriented planning. We can do nothing that requires primary dependence on far-away supply chains. I suggest that we give much consideration to a sort of circulatory system within the nation’s body: trails, tracks, migration routes, watersheds, etc. Maybe long distance running on those networked trails will be a major form of sport.

  9. Mark Sharkey says:

    This article in the Huffington Post is predicting bad things likely soon without any link to resource depletion or even the economy. So we could end up with a massive die off without realizing it was inevitable. Some of the comments refer to global warming.

    • Christian says:

      A very idiot article; I stopped reading when I found this:

      “That was Hitler, but it was also Mussolini, Stalin, Putin, Mugabe and so many more”

      And later this:

      “Trump says he will Make America Great Again, when in fact America is currently great, according to pretty well any statistics. “

    • Maybe the author was trying to keep the article short, or didn’t want to scare people. A little strange, though.

  10. adonis says:

    ‘the road’ was a great film looked like every aspect of collapse was covered

  11. Yoshua says:

    Bond Vigilantes to Trump: Be Careful, It Could Get Painful

    Bond Vigilantes to Trump: Be Careful, It Could Get Painful

    • It could create the Minsky Moment!

      Minsky Moment graph wikipedia

      • Yoshua says:

        I am using a windows phone now and haven’t yet figured out how to copy a link.

        Anyway… You see a Minsky moment?

        • Rising interest rates tend to make asset prices go down, because fewer buyers can “qualify” to buy the asset at the new higher price. Raising interest rates is a great way to bring on a recession. In fact, the Federal Reserve did that before the 2007-2009 recession, because they thought that rising oil and food prices were a sign that the economy was heating up. (Actually, it was a sign of diminishing returns.) Home prices dropped, and helped bring on the recession.

          The question is how much of an increase is needed to have the effect. Rates tend to bounce around. When rates are higher, as they are now, commodity prices tend to be lower, and the dollar tends to be higher relative to other currencies.

          • Yoshua says:

            Yes, the Fed did actually raise the rate before the meltdown.

            Trump will send the army to the Fed if they do it this time?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The Fed would have understood the impact of the a significant rate rise in 2007 – yet they did it anyway.

              Maybe they did it on purpose to trigger a crisis — including letting Lehman go — which scared the sheeple — then they had the green light to do ‘whatever it takes’ without having to go through the motions of tiresome and time consuming rubber stamp votes in the two houses….

              Literally trillions of dollars of stimulus have been pumped out since 2008 — I do not recall a single vote. I don’t even recall a single debate — nor do I recall anyone questioning the fact that the Fed – a private company — should be allowed to make these decisions.

              Trump will do as Obama did — carry out the orders that are given by the E.l.Ders.

  12. Fast Eddy says:

    Watched this on a flight yesterday … pretty good depiction of what post BAU would look like in a remote area… rape… threats of violence…running out of food… all they left out was the spent fuel ponds… they also conveniently skipped winter… but definitely worth watching….

    It all starts with the power stations going down … permanently….

  13. Tim Groves says:

    What beautiful scenery on that Foggy Dew video!

    The Irish have a wonderful way of romanticizing war and rebellion in song.

    “Rooster of a fighting stock / Would you let a Saxon cock /
    Cry out upon an Irish rock / Fly up and teach him manners!”

    This is one of my favorites:

    • common phenomenon says:

      I’m an Englishman, of Irish descent. How DARE those bladdy Irishmen get into my ancestry!!! No wonder I look like a peasant. 🙁 I ought to sue them for that.

    • xabier says:

      Those nationalists never get it right (anywhere): should be ‘Norman cock’ or Scottish cock’ given the actual history of Ireland – bold Norman knights and dreary old Scottish ploughmen did it! Always wonderful music though.

  14. Just some thoughts says:

    All of the western “leaders” are “dead men walking” if any of them steps abroad without a substantial security detail.

  15. common phenomenon says:

    Can you predict the future from fashion styles? These slicked back hairstyles for men – when were they last in fashion – the early 1940s? Will concentration camps come back into fashion, as extremism ramps around the world?

    • common phenomenon says:

      There’s comedy in extremism, of course. Here’s something for old Python fans. It’s just as funny for how amateur it is. The little man who keeps missing his cues was responsible for commissioning Harold Pinter’s first play. (No comment!). He ended up lecturing at a Canadian university.

    • Yoshua says:

      Trump is unpredictable, but one thing is certain, he will be the first president that gets more headlines about his hair doo than the first lady.

      • Joebanana says:

        I would have voted for Jill Stein but I think people are way over the top on how bad Trump is. The media has people so freaked out it is like a kid that was told to many ghost stories. The one thing I hope he does is to get on a good footing with Russia and just quite the extreme warmongering of the last couple of decades.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Seconded, Joe. I agree with every word of your comment.

        One thing Trump has got going for him is that the media and half the population are starting out with very low expectations of him. As long as he doesn’t evolve into Trumpolini and threaten anyone’s basic human rights as opposed to their entitlements, he may turn out to be the best President the US has had….. this century. 🙂

        A big part of why he ran for president was his vanity. And while he undoubtedly loves the idea of being seen as the savior of the nation, he doesn’t want to go down as the next Hitler but rather as the political love child of Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt. As his ultimate epitaph, I imagine he’s eying a posthumous space on the cliffside at Mount Rushmore.

        Personally, I’ll be happy if he derails Elon Musk’s subsidy train and brings back a level playing field for energy producers. Then we’d be able to see clearly whether the US is really capable of producing enough cheap-to-produce energy to keep the economy rolling, as Trump and his backers have been claiming.

        I would bet the Americans can find a way to keep BAU going for at least another decade, not because I’m optimistic of there chances or overlooking the difficulties involved, but because:
        (a) I believe in the resilience and pragmatism of the American spirit when their backs are up against the wall, and:
        (b) because there’s no point in betting on the end of BAU as there’s no way of collecting your winnings after you’ve been proved right.

    • I predict that pants suits for women (similar to Hilary’s) will not be in favor.

      • common phenomenon says:

        True. Trump will probably surround himself with bunny girls. 🙂 That would suit his sexist attitudes and remind him of the era when he last had natural hair.

        • I noticed when I visited Norway that there were a lot of statues of women–virtually no statues of male generals. I attribute this to the cold latitude–no one wanted to fight for an area where it was not possible for the population to do more than hold its own. I expect some of the same situation holds in Iceland, as well. When fighting is not an issue, women are a lot more equal to men.

          • xabier says:

            Norse culture has always recognized the high value of women – the old pre-Christian kings didn’t do a thing without the sanction of their wise women/witches. Maria Kvilhaug (‘Lady of the Labyrinth’) has written much on this and has interesting saga and Norse religious material on her Facebook page and Youtube site

            • Froggman says:

              The History Channel fiction series “Vikings” portrays the Viking culture this way. The women fight as equals in the raiding parties, and one of the female lead characters kills her lover on their wedding day to seize back her leadership of the clan. It’s a fun show.

      • Ed says:

        One of the best outcomes of the whole election.

      • common phenomenon says:

        True. Trunp will probably surround himself with bun*ny girls. 🙂 That would suit his secksist attitudes and remind him of the era when he last had natural hair.

        (Let’s see if this misspelled version gets thru).

  16. Christian says:

    Reg. ETP model, I am not sure but I think they are wrong when they say future production will have a lower EROEI. As there is an EROEI roof for useful production (and it’s not 1:1, given the rest of the economy should get its part as well), production will decay as this threshold is reached. To some extent, there is a contradiction in saying (not sure that this is what they say) that production will fall down and that EROEI will do it also

    • ETP model is just plain wrong, as an attempted implication of EROEI principles. I wish people could understand this very basic problem. Whenever a teacher gives an assignment, some people do it wrong. The issue is very similar here.

      Even if the ETP model were correct, I wouldn’t expect it to work. The issue is falling return on human labor. This involves more variables than EROEI measures.

  17. Christian says:

    Tresaury rates are becoming negative in real terms, given the bulk of the issuing is in the 2-3 years range. They are still not negative in nominal terms -as in Europe and Japan- but banks are truly losing money when they lend to the White House. So, there are two possible paths:

    a) A tax increase would help keeping rates higher and banks profits

    b) The Fed is nationalized and rates go negative, as everywhere else

    • Ed says:

      Revoke the corporate charter of the Federal Reserve Bank. Let the treasury do the job as the constitution calls for.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I’m actually disappointed that I missed that … I experienced a 5+ quake in Bali …. but 7.8…. waweewoowa….

      Mrs Fast said the duration was a lot longer than the quake in Bali …. but because we are located a couple of hundred km from the epicentre it felt about the same in terms of intensity…

  18. merrifield says:

    Fast Eddy, are you OK? That was a big one!

    • DJ says:

      Wasnt FE flying somewhere about now?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      All good back in NZ…. thanks… Mrs Fast is clearing the shelves of anything that might get knocked over by the shocks…

      • Glad to hear that! The earthquake sounded severe.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Glad to hear everything’s still in one piece.I saw some spectacular pictures of landslides and cracks in the ground that reminded me of what we sometimes get in Japan.

        Incidentally, we have the biggest (and therefore closest) full moon to the earth in over sixty years, which means the gravitational pull is a little stronger than usual. That may be a factor in why there were powerful earthquakes in New Zealand and Argentina without the space of a few hours.

  19. Tim Groves says:

    Move won’t move on.
    Is Soros launching a color revolution in the US to put the toothpaste back into the tube and pre-empt Trump’s “Orange” Revolution?

    • Artleads says:

      I found these two articles easy to read, so shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes in total. But fast readers (of which I’m not one) and skimmers can probably do it in 5.

      Fairly nice overview beginning, I thought, and then…sap.

      A little more bite…

      But this isn’t Veimar. During Veimar, the rainforests were intact, and globalism hadn’t set in yet. Global populatiopn was a third of what it is now. The oceans were alive… So today goes far beyond Hedge’s grim fascist concerns.

      • Van Kent says:

        Chris Hedges and also Charles Eisenstein are very good with words. I like reading both of their works. But..

        I haven’t read Hedges or Eisenstein writing about the true story, like Norman does. I find both Hedges and Eisenstein being in the majority camp, where all our problems are but a glitch in the endless pursuit of progress. I haven’t seen either one writing about the true story; what ever we do in the next few years, it’s ELE nonetheless.

        I know Eisenstein has a lot of speaking engagements. Maybe he wouldn’t have any if he told the true story..

        • Artleads says:

          Ah, you’re just the person to send this to. Here’s my alternative to Trumps road-focused infrastructure proposal. (In the comments section) 🙂

          • Van Kent says:

            Interesting question; “if you had a trillion dollars, what would you build??”

            A. First I would divide the trillion in to ten equal nest eggs for ten Green Investment Banks
            B. Those ten Green Investment Banks would then provide ALL banks in their region with a Green Investment Bond -investment product.
            C. The Green Investment Bond -investment product money could be used by all the banks, and all private and institutional investors, to provide a final financial product of providing loans to true carbon negative projects, for extended periods of loan/ investment time.
            D. Projects that could easily get this money, minimum interest for 30-50y loans, would be local small time farmers building
            – Simple cheap India-styled Biogas-plants for agricultural waste and manure
            – Biochar and/or even a Activated Charcoal production unit, from wood chips
            – Bakery or food processing and/or ethanol production to the farm. So that the farm can sell processed products year round for extra money.
            – Refurbishing the farm machines, mills and generators to be Biogas/ Ethanol run.

            = Building local food production to be carbon negative, energy independant and organic. Also with the ability to sell as much of Biochar and Activated Charcoal as possible locally.

            So my answer would be that I would use the 1 trillion to get 100 trillion, to be loaned to small time local farmers to transform the entire nations agriculture to local, organic, energy independant and carbon negative.

            • Christian says:

              I’d spend some money to do genetical engeneering on the poppy seeds, so as it can grow everywhere. Opium is the best natural pain killer, by far, and pretty easy to obatin and conserve; this would be a great gift to humankind

            • Joebanana says:

              I’d spend it all on women and booze and waste the rest. Great posts Van Kent. Wish all the people here who want to live off the land were not so far apart.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Hey, I recognize and resemble that sentiment.
              You are George Best and I claim my five pounds! 🙂

            • Froggman says:


              Alas, I think the best possible infrastructure investment might be in guillotines.

              My guillotine investment plan seems a necessary precedent to any other worthwhile and meaningful investment. Otherwise, the best laid plans are immediately derailed into serving the interests of the establishment and BAU.

              My current view is that many of our problems come from the falling out of favor of this important public policy tool. Perhaps it would help to coin a catchy PR phrase for thier reintroduction. Something like “Clearing the Way for Real Innovation”

              How many guillotines? Probably more than one might think. Enough for perhaps 30 million heads in the US alone? That might clear out enough of the vested interest to make a difference.

            • bandits101 says:

              Excellent sentiments VK but somewhat naive IMO.
              As soon as you mention enterprise “so that the farm can sell processed products year round for extra money” you are supporting BAU and BAU is the problem. Unless you can legislate what people do with the FF YOU DON’T use and the life they continue to live by using the ware you sell, then all is moot. It’s an exercise in feeling good (nothing wrong with that), similar to running an electric car and claiming to be green. Joe down the road has always been the conundrum, or to be more exact, the deadly sins of human nature, with self preservation exacerbating the situation.

            • Fast Eddy says:


            • Fast Eddy says:

              Sounds like a version of BAU Lite to me….

          • Artleads says:

            “B. Those ten Green Investment Banks would then provide ALL banks in their region with a Green Investment Bond -investment product.”

            Thanks, Van Kent

            Getting more money from the capital. Amazing! Wish I knew something about money.

            You are rightly concerned with food production. In my neck of the woods, there’s a messy little half rural hub where I think your program should go. Just over the line in the county from the city. Greenhouse country, I would suggest.

            The trillion dollar emphasis is now on roads, suggesting to me that it’s oriented to sprawl. It sounds somewhat urban-centered too. Some of what you recommend could work in the nearby city to me. I believe infrastructure and horticulture could work together. In messed up rural places, small town or even cities…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Since I emerged from DelusiSTAN I don’t read Hedges any longer….

          But my take on him is that he believes that if we could all just agree to be nice to each other … and roll in a big dose of socialism — the world would be all peaches and cream.

          Unfortunately that is about as likely to happen as putting foxes into the hen house and expecting them to make friends.

          Chris needs to understand that he is currently on the winning team – his cushy lifestyle is predicated on his leaders pillaging the world. His desire to unpillage would result in him trading places with a Somalian…

          Be careful what you wish for Chris.

    • Artleads says:

      I meant to say that these links alone show the futility of the Soros attempt.

      • Tim Groves says:

        I view “Soros” as a personification of the globalist investment class. He’s portrayed by his detractors as an malevolent force bent on controlling and dominating entire societies as a puppet master behind the scenes — just like Moriarty or Emmanuel Goldstein (based on Stalin’s caricature of Trotsky, or like the villains in Batman. And while there is probably some truth in this, even if he is active in that game he is bound to be only one of many who are attempting to influence trends in directions favorable to themselves. We simply don’t hear about what the others are doing even in the independent media.

        • Artleads says:

          Sorry. I stumbled into the mention of Soros, without having researched the subject. I never research the subject, but I usually have more grounds for comment than I do here. 🙂

  20. MG says:

    Why Islam as religion can not function in the cold regions? Because it bans alcohol.

    “The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. The result is described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench. He also reported that Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork.[19]”


    Alcohol seems to be an emergency source of heat for human body:

    “The three basic nutritional components found in food–carbohydrates, proteins, and fats–are used as energy after being converted to simpler products. Some alcoholics ingest as much as 50 percent of their total daily calories from alcohol, often neglecting important foods (3,6).”

    “The mechanisms accounting for the apparent inefficiency in converting alcohol to energy are complex and incompletely understood (11), but several mechanisms have been proposed. For example, chronic drinking triggers an inefficient system of alcohol metabolism, the microsomal ethanol-oxidizing system (MEOS) (1). Much of the energy from MEOS-driven alcohol metabolism is lost as heat rather than used to supply the body with energy.”


    The higher consumption of alcohol seems to be connected with colder and poorer countries:

    The view that Islam can prevail in the cold regions is thus erroneous. When the real energy decline comes, Islam can not survive in the cold regions as this religion requires warm climate (or energy abundance) for its existence.

    • DJ says:

      Only two problems:
      1. you can survive in cold without alcohol
      2. muslims do drink alcohol

    • xabier says:

      In the trenches during WW1, British officers were advised to stick to whisky, as ‘the brandy habit will finish you off.’

      I find the opposite: whisky promotes depression – like vodka, – but a good brandy is excellent after a shock.

      When the West first obtained the recipe for brandy from Islam in the 12th century, the monks experimented on the old people in their care, as it was regarded as a medicine. They found that depressed old codgers livened up considerably.

      Perhaps not surprising given the monastic diet…..

      • MG says:

        Sugar in brandy or in any alcohol with sugar content must act differently than pure ethanol. How exactly?

    • Van Kent says:

      After SHTF cigarettes and alcohol will be the two top trading items, everywhere. Even food handhuns an ammo will be traded for a bottle of vodka.

      If you want to learn a truly valuable skill, then learn how to make moonshine..

      • MG says:

        The local distillery for home growers of fruits in my village is right across the stream behind my garden and my grandfather was a chief there 60-70 years ago. There was also a larger commercial destillery of alcohol from crops like potatoes in my village, but after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, this industrial production unit became uneconomical and was closed. Its chimney, that produced a lot of local pollution from burning coal, is already demolished. The remaining building deteriorates. The small local distillery for home growers of fruit (mainly apples, plums and pears) runs on natural gas.

        You can be sure that people in Slovakia knew how to make moonshine. But now, this is not so much widespread.

      • DJ says:

        In Sweden it is illegal owning even incomplete distilling equipment. Post-SHTF they will be very rare.

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    n late 2012, Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut made a startling claim, based on an analysis of revolutionary upheavals across history.

    He found there are three social conditions in place shortly before all major outbreaks of social violence: an increase in the elite population; a decrease in the living standards of the masses; and huge levels of government indebtedness.

    Meanwhile, as his policies fail to deliver the land of milk and honey he has promised, the demonization of scapegoats will continue. Having already vowed to round up and deport two million immigrants, and to ban Muslims from entering the US, it is already clear who these scapegoats will be. However, as well as migrants, popular anger will also be directed toward whatever namby-pamby liberals have blocked him from waging his promised war against them: be it Congressmen, judges, trade unions, pressure groups, or whoever.

    A combination of increased executive powers plus the use of his newly mobilized mass constituency will be directed toward purging these ‘enemies within’.

    • Thanks! That article about Turchin’s forecasts is a great find. I think we are seeing the end of complexity. I don’t think Turchin is aware of our energy problems, and how they fit into this. He still comes up with a very reasonable forecast.

    • Yep that might be useful metrics.
      On the third condition, the debt issue, I wrote here numerous times, lets seriously expect aggregate > 1,000 % or perhaps even “brief” moments of xx, xxx % debt levels achieved near the final snap into proper collapse rollover. Guess what, today ZH ran article with 1,100% (debt + entitlement obligation) stats for the US, and it will very likely growth further..

    • Tim Groves says:

      Turchin’s view seems to be leaning rather heavily on observations of the 20th century fascist regimes such as Mussolini’s and Hitler’s, or totalitarian ones such as Stalin’s or Mao’s, all of which certainly practiced organized scapegoating. But the Soviet Union in the 1990s managed to collapse without indulging in that sort of thing, so maybe the people of the industrialized societies have collectively learned some lessons from the first half of the 20th century.

      By the way, as anyone read The Fourth Turning. I haven’t, but it looks like it might be worth browsing as it is a classic “doomer” text.

      The Fourth Turning is a book about human social cycles in America written by two respected generational historians, Howe and Strauss. (Click here to visit their web site.)

      They make a very convincing case for a disaster and era of economic depression and crisis, possibly total war, in the coming years. Like the Kondratieff wave, based on price behaviour over time, they are essentially interpreting the “Long Cycle” through characteristics of generational aspects.

      Although in the book they expect this era of crisis– the fourth turning– to begin by 2005 and last untill 2025, They give leeway in saying “give or take a few years.” It seems clear with present trends it is just around the corner. We are (and will be) witnessing a massive Global Realignment that could be the precursor for what they (and I) envision: World War Three.

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    Jose Rodriguez, one of the masterminds behind the infamous George W. Bush torture and retention program, may be selected by the new administration to run the CIA, according to an influential law firm where Trump’s major ally serves as a senior adviser.

    • Weeding out ME/EU moles from the alphabet agencies, why not?
      Btw just few hours ago you repeated your often mentioned position, that the extension of BAU is necessary by any means possible, including quite hyenous acts, so what the concern now on your part?

      Anyway, the bottom line is the western msm (I know this is RT link but) rumor mills, most of your links these days, are now clearly on overdrive to discredit anything nascent Trumpolian. That being said, the possible level of “success” of this guy as POTUS will be based only on the degree and strategies how he delegates the power among the pool of talent he is going to work/rely on with the following tribes: the stupid nationalist, the smarter nationalist, and the always totally corrupt imbeciles, assuming he is not going to completely sell out with predominantly neocon staffers (yet another rich msm rumor these days), lolz. Not an ideal world or situation to begin with, but that’s understood from the start.

  23. el mar says:

    el mar`s global “Magic Dozen” for the twilight years:
    1. be friendly and in good spirits, study everything in depth
    2. Self-criticize, be peaceful but fortified
    3. think small, live small, slowdown, meditate
    4. increase resilience
    5. buy local, save resources,
    6. grow own food
    7. learn some skilled manual work
    8. cooperate with like-minded people, barter and help each other
    9. reject ideology – hang on to your intuition, avoid pied pipers
    10. avoid mass consumption and stimulus satiation
    11. fight the powers that be – but in an indirect aikido way
    12. help others to awaken from the cultural trance
    el mar

    • DJ says:


      Now your top-5 for #11?

      • Christian says:

        Aikido is what I’d call The Force. I tryied it once, I was 22 but a gentle lady on her sixties took me down with her first move. Didn’t came for a second class

      • el mar says:

        Thank you!

        do not vote
        avoid taxes as far as possible
        fight MSM on the internet
        have only one foot in BAU
        annoy the authorities with legal picky behavior

        el mar

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Don’t forget to go shopping…

          If we stop shopping … there will be soon be nothing to buy

        • Christian says:

          Good list

          “annoy the authorities with legal picky behavior” Rather rephrase it as “don’t let authorities bother you too much, and avoid as possible an increasing bureaucracy”

          Whatever the case, a friend has just got a very high post in the national Supreme Court. Somewhat reassuring as long as I am not always a law abiding citizen and control could become harsher

          Saludos y suerte

          • Artleads says:

            Don’t vote for any new roads!

            • xabier says:

              Who said anything about being allowed to vote? We are having a two lane bus-only (‘eco-friendly and sustainable’!) highway driven straight through our village and some precious farmland, and have no say in the matter. Soon to follow: uncontrolled little-box housing…..

            • Artleads says:

              Here there were a number of spending bonds on the ballot, education and roads among them. I voted for none.

        • Artleads says:

          The legal picky behavior…I find way tedious. What if we all went dead still instead? No resistance. Just let TPTB do what they want until they trip themselves up.

    • Van Kent says:

      el mar, nicely done.

      Might I add some?

      13. Though most of them are mindless drones, still, only people matter. Everything else is a distraction, people choose, and therefore only people matter. Be respectfull, and try to learn how their limited mindset works.
      14. Read Norman.
      15. At any given time the thing you are doing, is the thing you are doing. So, do that thing. It might be difficult, it might be painfull, but just do the thing you are doing right now. To learn to be in the now, teaches you how to deal with the impossible situations that are sure to come..
      16. And in the end none of these will make any differance. We know that. It’s ELE. BUT why not enjoy the ride nonetheless. To be here, now, and to know what we know, that is truly unique.

      • Artleads says:

        I say that land comes first. But since people are the dominant predator, they need to understand the need not to destroy the land. The land dies; they die.

  24. Yoshua says:

    Trump has made his first visit to the Whitehouse. They have probable by now informed him of the real situation in the war room.

    • Yep, the face expression was not exclusively about the ordeal visiting Obama.
      On the other hand, I very much doubt the real war room operational awareness is available for POTUS, especially this one.. So, they likely briefed Donald at least on something unpleasant for the moment, lolz.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I heard that the first appointment for each new POTUS is the screening room … where he is shown the Zapruder film.

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