The Energy Problem behind Trump’s Election

The energy problem behind Trump’s election is not the one people have been looking for. Instead, it is an energy problem that leads to low wages for many workers in the US, and high unemployment rates in the European Union. (The different outcomes reflect different minimum wage laws. Higher minimum wages tend to lead to higher unemployment rates; lower minimum wages tend to lead to higher employment, but unsatisfactory wage levels for many.) The energy problem is also reflected as low prices of oil and other commodities.

To try to solve the energy problem, we use approaches that involve increasing complexity, including new technology and globalization. As we add more and more complexity, these approaches tend to work less and less well. In fact, they can become a problem in themselves, because they tend to redistribute wealth toward the top of the employment hierarchy, and they increase “overhead” for the economy as a whole.

In this material, I explain how inadequate energy supplies can appear as either low wages or as high prices. Basically, if energy supplies are inadequate, workers tend to be less productive because they have fewer or less advanced tools to work with. Their lower wages reflect lower productivity (Slide 20).  Slide 6 offers some additional insights.

Trump’s election seems to reflect the cooling effect that our energy problems are having on the economy as a whole. Citizens are increasingly unhappy with their wage situation, and want a major change. Trump’s election may at least temporarily have a beneficial effect, since it may work in the direction of reducing complexity.

Long term, however, it is hard to see that the policies of any elected official will be able to fix our underlying energy problems.

I wrote up my post as a presentation. It can be downloaded at this link: The Energy Problem Behind Trump’s Election. I thought this might be a way of putting together quite a bit of material into one place. I have displayed the images of the PDF below the fold, for those who would like to read them as a post.

I hope the large number of images does not cause viewing problems. Let me know if you have suggestions for making this material more accessible.

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Section 1: Trump’s Election Reflects the Winds of Contraction

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Section 2: The Surprising Role of Energy

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Section 3: Humans’ Unusual Use of Energy

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Section 4: The Role of Complexity

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Section 5: Where we are now with respect to energy and the economy

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Section 6: Trump’s Solution and Final Thoughts

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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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1,893 Responses to The Energy Problem behind Trump’s Election

  1. Artleads says:

    “Our species needs to accumulate the energy cheaply and use it in order to survive. ”

    We’ve had plenty of cheap energy up till now, but we didn’t use it to survive, We used it to kill ourselves and everything else we could find to kill.

    • MG says:

      Oh, no… If it is cheap enough, it could not be used for killing. It is the cheap energy that opens new horizons. The costly energy (like shooting with the gun) is more efficiently used for population control than for population increase.

    • Artleads says:

      “If it is cheap enough, it could not be used for killing. It is the cheap energy that opens new horizons.”

      What does this mean? The only kind of energy I can see that won’t kill TOO MANY things would be very little energy–just enough to scrape by on. And I can’t see how it would be cheap.

      • MG says:

        Too costly energy means lack of the energy = hunger, pestilence, epidemics, incurable diseases, parasites…

        • Name says:

          Too costly means not cheap enough to increase civilization’s energy consumption rate. When such event occures, it’s the end.

  2. MG says:

    Are the pollution, the food production, the climate change, the diseases the real problems of the humankind? No. The real problem of the humankind always was, is and will be the energy: if we only had more cheap energy, we could solve all of the abovementioned problems.

    Our biggest challenge, is that we, as species, lose control over the world around us, when we lose the abundant cheap energy.

    Those who think that we need green energy or the protection of the nature are mistaken: none of them can revive the depleting battery of the accumulated energy on the Earth. Our species needs to accumulate the energy cheaply and use it in order to survive. Only after that we can move to other planets and colonize them, as it was the cheap abundant energy that allowed us to colonize the most inhospitable areas of the world.

    Only until recently, our only way of accumulating the energy was via mining it or accumulate it in water reservoirs ( Now, we have only some very inefficient batteries that cost too much and provide too little energy for our needs.

    We do not need the new energy sources like the solar and the wind. They still can not beat even the lowest type of the accumulated energy in the form of the dry grass that can be burned:

    • without ”stuff’ on which to use it, energy per se is useless

      therefore, we build cars, lightbulbs, houses—what have you, in order to ”use” energy.

      our problem is population, which is now too numerous.
      each person requires a slice of energy-usage pie, not energy itself.

      that pie is all the goods and stuff we make and sell to each other using raw materials.
      80m people arrive each day, all demanding their share.—that is what we are running out of

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘if we only had more cheap energy, we could solve all of the abovementioned problems’

      This is what cheap energy got us…. as you can imagine… I vehemently disagree with the above statement….

      • MG says:

        If we had more cheap energy, we could export the population to other planets, supply them with energy and sustain the life of the human species there.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Other planets? Why not just put them on the moon — because the moon is as good as any other hunk of rock out there — and it is closer….

          How does it work? We added nearly 90M nett people to the earth last year. Do we build housing for these and billions more on the moon? Where do the resources come from to do that — and to grow the food to feed them? Can’t grow food in space… so it all has to come from earth…

          What about water? We have a problem with fresh water on earth…. and don’t say we can desalinate the oceans

          You clearly have not thought this through…. I will give you a pass and give you the opportunity to re-think this…. then you can come back and say ‘WTF was I thinking!’

          • MG says:

            When there is enough cheap energy, we can haul some other plantes to the same orbit of the Sun as the Earth is on and create its duplicates.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Keith – why are you sharing the gear with MG — and not with the rest of us????

            • this forum is sounding like a meeting of Donald Trump advisers

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We indeed have a few inmates on FW who are cracking under the pressure now that they have accepted that extinction is assured.

            • MG says:

              Who is Keith?

            • bandits101 says:

              You are not thinking clearly. You should haul them to a wider orbit because the sun is getting bigger over time. Then there is the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars so you will need to clean that up. In all seriousness unlimited energy cannot change human DNA. We are far more ignorant than you give us credit for. If it was possible I would use unlimited cheap energy to make us smarter, sensible, empathetic, altruistic, and worthy. Then we may deserve to be ageless, in a form not dreamt of.

            • Fast Eddy says:


              If we had more cheap energy what would happen is that larger numbers of people would have 6 teevee sets 3 cars and 4 garage bays full of ‘stuff’ … and we’d burn out the planet even faster!

              A question I like to ask Koombayaists when they bring up issues such as ending poverty ….

              What does ending poverty look like? Does everyone have a living wage that allows them to have a small house — maybe a motorbike — enough food — a mobile phone — a tee vee — a bit of leisure time?

              Yes yes Fast — that is what it would look like!!! BUT — you forgot about the camp fires… and the organic beer for all… and the dancing about … there MUST be endless dancing about..



              Alright — now imagine if we had billions of people living like that… where would the resources come from — what would this do to the environment?

              Would it not be better if we had a handful of multi trillionaires… with everyone else living rough?

              As expected they think I am nuts.

            • DJ says:

              Jesus on a white flying horse.

      • I agree. Entropy continues to happen, even with more cheap energy.

        • Greg Machala says:

          More cheap energy = delays collapse and makes it more severe.

          • More severe? Isn’t it pretty much the same, regardless of when it happens. The only difference is that the total population starts out a little higher.

            • Pintada says:

              Nope, Gail. If it had happened in the 80’s, a really large number of mammalian species would have survived. Now, there will likely be no mammals. If BAU continues into the 2020’s or 2030’s there will likely be nothing more sophisticated than a lichen left on land. The quicker the collapse comes and the steeper the crash the better.

            • That may be true. Dissipative systems work to dissipate all energy. If one round of collapse takes more with it, it leaves less to be dissipated later.

  3. dolph says:

    When I speak about race I am merely mentioning the unmentionable, and tying it in with collapse.
    Here in the United States, for example, we are already seeing more white Americans coalescing around their favored tropes (corporatism, white American men rule the world, etc.) as a result to decline, influx of competitive immigrants, and the fact that they just can’t put blacks down anymore. White Americans reliably side with the devil they know, their corporate masters, rather than outsiders. They really do think a billionaire real estate man is going to deport immigrants and bring back jobs which will make them all rich like him!

    There are simply no words for such widespread delusion.

    Moreover, anyone with two eyes can see how financially and culturally successful the hebrews have become, and history does show that no society survives such concentration of hebraic power.

    What’s my point? My point is that race is a part of collapse. Even forgetting energy for a moment, all of the elements for internal race and class struggle are already present in the United States. Peak oil is just the fuse.

    • Stinging Nettle says:

      “…and history does show that no society survives such concentration of hebraic power”

      Can you give one example of society collapsing in the past because of concentration of hebraic power?

      • Artleads says:

        I’m interested in learning about this hebraic power too. Having spent a fair deal of time in the greater NY area, I’ve come across a large number of Jews. Maybe it’s just that I don’t move in Dolf’s vaunted circles, but among the many Jews that I’ve encountered, none appeared to be noticeably rich or powerful.

      • Artleads says:

        “…and the fact that they just can’t put blacks down anymore”

        “They” should take a look at the following statistics. It appears they are succeeding very well in “putting” blacks down.” Or is there some thing I’m missing?.

        “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population”

        “African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites”

    • Artleads says:

      I’m interested in learning about this hebraic power too. Having spent a fair deal of time in the greater NY area, I’ve come across a large number of Jews. Maybe it’s just that I don’t move in your vaunted circles, but among the many Jews that I’ve encountered, none appeared to be noticeably rich or powerful. I’m not sure we’re talking about the same universe.

  4. Tim Groves says:

    Disruption ahead due to shortages of high-tech widgets with acronyms for names that go into PCs and phones!

    We began reporting on the first signs of the looming NAND shortage all the way back in May, and have touched on the domino effect in many articles over the ensuing months as it unfolded. Now the shortage is in full swing: DRAMeXchange reported that the average price of MLC SSDs rose this quarter between 6%-10%, while TLC SSDs also rose 6%-9%. We also reached out to Trendfocus, whose projections indicate even higher price hikes at both the retail and OEM level.
    To make matters worse, although HDDs unexpectedly had the biggest quarter-over-quarter recovery in seven years, according to Trendfocus, now the HDD industry is beginning to exhibit the early signs of “tightened” supply–which means there could be shortages and higher prices in that segment as well.

    An increase in smartphone capacity, SSDs in laptops, and a terrible transition to 3D NAND led to SSDs prices that are unquestionably on the rise, and if HDDs also rise at the same time, it could lead to the perfect storm of higher storage prices. It appears the end of low-priced storage is nigh, and we don’t expect things to improve until late next year.,33112.html

  5. Ed says:

    All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace
    I like to think (and
    the sooner the better!)
    of a cybernetic meadow
    where mammals and computers
    live together in mutually
    programming harmony
    like pure water
    touching clear sky.

    I like to think
    (right now, please!)
    of a cybernetic forest
    filled with pines and electronics
    where deer stroll peacefully
    past computers
    as if they were flowers
    with spinning blossoms.

    I like to think
    (it has to be!)
    of a cybernetic ecology
    where we are free of our labors
    and joined back to nature,
    returned to our mammal
    brothers and sisters,
    and all watched over
    by machines of loving grace.

    • Ed says:

      Richard Brautigan

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “machines of loving grace.”

      Charles Stross in _Halting State_, has a handle on this:

      The sky turns deep blue, the world freezes, and a progress bar marches slowly across it from horizon to horizon. Ethereal runes written in aurorae six hundred kilometers high scrawl across the heavens, UPDATING REALITY, and for a moment your skin crawls with superstitious dread. Someday we’re all going to get brain brain implants and experience this directly. Someday everyone is going to live their lives out in places like this, vacant bodies tended by machines of loving grace while their minds go on before us into strange spaces where the meat cannot follow.

      • DJ says:

        L S D?

      • Yorchichan says:

        I don’t believe anybody has yet taken the Fast Eddy challenge, so here is the much less demanding Yorchichan challenge:

        Go lie down in a pitch black room with no sounds. Imagine yourself as nothing but the disembodied voice in your head with only memories of how life used be when you had a body, senses, friends and family. Imagine this going on for all eternity. Sounds like hell to me.

        Would you really want to give anyone this power over your reality? I am a body, of which my mind is but one part. When my body dies, so do I. No way anyone is uploading my consciousness to a computer, even if one day it would be possible (which it never will be).

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “No way anyone is uploading my consciousness”

          How can you demonstrate this has not already happened?

          The origin of the current philosophy department cottage industry of “the world as a simulation” dates back to a conversation I had with Hans Moravec at the Artificial Life Conference at Los Alamos in 1986. Hans had a manuscript copy of Mind Children in his hand and was rapping on about the ever falling cost of computation. I stopped him and said, “Hans, do you realize how unlikely it is that this is the first time we had this conversation?” Hans gave me this weird blank look, so I explained that if he was right, people in the future would simulate the past and like the SCA or the civil war reenactors they would run it many times, so the chances of this being the first were nearly zero.

          Hans went away kind of sandbagged and eventually wrote “Pigs in Cyberspace” which I think is still up on the web. That probably was picked up by Nick Bostrom and eventually influence Elon Musk.

          I can’t claim it was an original idea since I had read Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye back in the 1960s. “The Matrix (1999) described a world whose population is unaware that the world containing their minds is a virtual reality simulacrum.” I heard that reading Simulacron-3 was required for the people who produced the Matrix.

          Stross’s character makes a case for uploading being the outcome of computer games.

          I make a case for marketing reasons that it will have to be reversible, so you can upload for a weekend and try it. Technically uploading into computer space and going back to what passes as the real world are both so hard that making it bidirectional should not be much more difficult than a one way path into being an upload.

  6. Christian Gebauer says:

    More excuses (sorry, “progress”)

    • Engineers always think that they can figure out the risk to nuclear devices by adding up their perception of risks of various types.

      Insurance people know that when it comes to insurance policies, they can be written on two different bases: (1) named perils, or (2) all risk. No matter how complete the “Named Perils” policies are, the cost of the “All Perils” policies nearly always comes out higher. There are things that engineers cannot forecast in advance.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        I’m foreseeing human hubris in advance. Can’t put a monetary value on my risk assessment.

        Gold Teepee
        “You’d naturally shut down the reactors if there’s a serious tsunami warning in place. Technically there’s not that much of risk beyond the structural damage a serious tsunami could cause. Not to mention tsunamis don’t appear from nowhere, you’d have some warning.”
        The most confident people always seem to be the people who know the least about a given subject,just say what people want to hear…and re the ones usually tasked with emergency planning.

      • Christian says:

        I didn’t looked at Durham’s paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their tsunamis are equivalent to US EMPs, i.e. metaphors for the end of bau (while emp taskforce did used the words “financial black swan”)

  7. Fast Eddy says:


    Following the shock announcement that he will step down from office, John Key was issuing a no comment as to why four lorries were seen delivering 40 foot shipping containers and placing in the paddock out back of his home.

    Mr Key was also spotted at Mitre 10 numerous times throughout the week apparently loading up on gardening tools.

    He was overheard asking one of the staff ‘do you by any chance sell solar powered disco balls — and if not – do you know where I might get my hands on one — it’s rather urgent’

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    Goldilocks…. bump the price up to allow producers to lock in higher prices…. and stay alive a little longer?

    Then allow prices to fall — to take some pressure off the economy?

  9. common phenomenon says:

    From the Guardian, by Paul Mason:

    “The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. Don’t assume western democracy will last for ever”


    “But when the country that designed globalisation, imposed it and benefited from it most votes against it, you have to consider the possibility that it is going to end, and suddenly. If so, you also have to consider a possibility that – if you are a liberal, humanist democrat – may be even more shocking: that oligarchic nationalism is the default form of failing economies.”

    Here he slides into over-optimism:

    “Our last great hope will be ourselves. And there are enough of us to stop this second great collapse towards oligarchy and nationalism. We are networked, aware, educated and – for now – psychologically resilient. As we link together and resist we can learn a lot from those who have been doing it, quietly, in Russia.”

    • Tim Groves says:

      Mr. Mason is one of the more reasonable and rational Guardianistas. But due to a failure of imagination because he’s surrounded at that DelusiSTANi paper by an unpleasantness of hardcore cultists, he doesn’t appreciate that net energy decline is a falling tide that lowers all boats, or that the sudden end of globalization could also herald the sudden end of industrial society, period.

    • Right! And the Soviet Union collapse in some sense was not very bad, because the rest of the world held together, and because the individual states held together. It also helped that Russia was energy self-sufficient. Once oil prices rose again, Russia was again able to develop its oil exports and prosper.

  10. Kurt says:

    So now that Italy is collapsing, guess where all the money goes? Right into that U. S. stock market. Go figure. I thought we were all supposed to collapse because of the tinker toy model or something like that.

    • don’t forget the law:

      If a nation doesn’t produce sufficient indigenous energy from within its borders to supply e aspirations of its people, it must beg buy borrow or steal it from somewhere else, or sink back to a sustainable level.

      as money is only a token of energy, the same rule applies to the Italian money market..

      It is a law that does not apply instantly, but over time shuts a country down despite all the riot and mayhem (these have yet to happen in Italy).
      I said Italy was next after Greece, (which is now in a growing state of privation after the ”borrowing” phase) then Spain and probably france

      • Christian says:

        Say thanks to The Donald

      • Are you for real? Italy is a province, part of the EURland, which is again a cog in larger wheel of global bankster feudalistic structures, so exactly nothing is about to crash anytime soon. As demonstrated numerous time here before, the CBs are just warming up.. in terms of debt saturation.

        Italy will now most likely muddle through ~2018 for the next parliamentary elections. And after that it’s quite unlikely a gathering of serious overwhelming ~2/3 majority of various populists can get to even agree to force some serious proposal not mentioning real action plan on leaving the EUR and phasing back the much cheaper Lira economic model. In the meantime though, there will be many “sky is falling (again)” not moments but rather another wave of just chicken little announcements, even at worst some attempts to bail-out (put in on .it gov pile of debt books) or perhaps bail-in escapades might proceed.. Unpleasant for many yes, profit making/keeping for the very few yes indeed, this will be seen just as an episode from the rear-view mirror of more pressing realities of OFW as experienced sometime ~2025-2035.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Perhaps John Key should reconsider… he could run for another term then retire and still have years to spend with his family

      • If the EU falls apart, there are going to be a lot of countries with problems, I expect. Germany has benefitted greatly from the EU organization. It will do less well also. It is a big energy importer.

        • the EU flowed together on a tidal wave of oil-prosperity after ww2, kindly funded by American loans.

          It was the first time in history that a conquering army had not looted and destroyed its foe after winning a war.
          so for the first time in 2000 years the nations of the european continent did not need to attack each other to grab resources.
          so instead we decided to combine into a ‘single market’ for the common good.

          which was fine as long as there was more than enough for everyone.
          right now we are reaching the end of that ‘time of plenty’ so europe is devolving into its nation states again—because there is no prosperity to hold them together.

          It may look different—but the same thing is happening in the USA.
          As ‘plenty’ disappears the USA will fall apart too, as will its ‘democracy’. It too will devolve into ‘nation states’.
          which explains the rise of fascist ideology once again

          democracy is the child of prosperity, it can never live as an orphan

  11. Tim Groves says:

    And yet: A boom in electric vehicles made by the likes of Tesla Motors Inc. could erode as much as 10 percent of global gasoline demand by 2035, according to the oil industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

    Haven’t they heard that global gasoline demand will be close to non-existent by 2035?

  12. Fast Eddy says:

    Former Merrill banker cites desire for family time and backs deputy to take over

    Rather strange… we must be very close to the cliff edge now….

  13. Yoshua says:

    If the world total energy production has reached a plateau… then a population growth will lead to a fall in energy per capita… then the opposite must be true as well… decapitations will increase energy per capita.

    Any volunteers ?

  14. MG says:

    Here is an article in Slovak that tries to analyze what would happen to the profits of several selected companies from various sectors operating in Slovakia if we increase the wages of the workers in various ways:

    The main points are:

    – Even the low increase in net wages has big impact on the costs of the companies
    – The companies with higher share of capital (machines) have better “buffer” as regards the wage increases, when the production unit is manmachine (I am not sure, if this is the right term in English, could not find it fast, but it is the production unit consisting of man and machine), the constant costs of capital (machine) make the effect of costs increases of the human share smaller. These are the companies where the share of the wages on the product is lowest.
    – The banks are an extreme case: their good results depend on the cost of the capital and the cost of risk
    – The companies with the under the average wages are far more sensible to wage increases in absolute values. The wage increase of EUR 100 has a bigger impact than in the companies with higher wages, especially when they are service-oriented companies.

    So the wages of the employees of TESCO or Slovak Post have a little potential to be increased significantly. Moreover, IBM recrutes the employees from a different pool than TESCO or Slovak Post, so the wages in IBM are double the wages of TESCO or Slovak Post, as IBM faces higher competition when recruiting workers.

    • bandits101 says:

      Excepting debt growth is kaput, has been since 2008. Growth reports are after overhead reductions……store closures, asset liquidations, employee shedding, energy use reductions. There will be a proverbial last straw, most of us are wondering when.

    • I know that raising wages in restaurants tends to make the restaurant food unaffordable and, for that reason, tends to put restaurants out of business. The other alternative seems to be for management to find some form of automation that eliminates enough jobs at the same time that the wage increase goes in, so that costs can be kept the same. For example, automated ordering in fast food restaurants.

      It is hard to really model the situation, because there are so many “moving parts” to it. Falling total wages of workers, whether through layoffs or through falling income per hour is a good way to reach collapse.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Low margin businesses such as fast food restaurants … many retailers such as Walmart… would obviously be impacted the most by higher wages as they would be forced to increase prices or lay people off — otherwise they would face bankruptcy.

        Difficult to increase prices in this environment…

  15. Fast Eddy says:

    John Key resigns …

    Hollande resigns

    Perhaps they are both starting on bucket lists… understanding that the End of Days is very near?

  16. Stilgar Wilcox says:

    At least from my computer there is a block at the above Huffingtonpost link to copy & paste, but read to be amazed and prepare yourselves for a face off we haven’t seen in decades, as Obama this Sunday will sign an extension of the IRANIAN SANCTIONS Sunday. The Ayathoa or whoever it’s spelled, has WARNED OF RETROBUTIONS if he goes ahead and signs.

    Well, this suddenly is a problem of presidential transitions, as Obama signs but Trump inherits the consequences, although he probably signed off on the decision, so at least he knows its on him now to handle this situation. How is Trump not going to get into it with Iran in a tug of words and warnings ratcheting up into something potentially destructive?! He gets into it with everybody else, so why would he suddenly stop with Iran?

    There’s a great movie called Nitro Zeus in which the US plants via a sub-contractor for the Iranian centrifuges, a flashdrive virus into the computer system that changes the speed of the centrifuges causing them damage. Well, not to go into the whole thing, but it ends up Iran knows the US with Israel did this sabotage, and they start building their own cyber warfare team. Then all the banks on the east coast go out for a day and one other thing they did, but only for a day, to send a message of their abilities at cyber warfare themselves. So the US develops Nitro Zeus, this pervasive cyber warfare virus that shuts down everything, the electrical, power, water, cable, you name it nothing works in Iran. But the question is would Iran risk it out of their idealogical furvor to retaliate? Big question and should make for heart pounding entertainment as we watch Wally Wick spout off like he always does, is how antagonistic will he get?

  17. Craig Moodie says:

    Fast Eddy, seriously, I just love your cynicism.

  18. DooGah says:

    If there was a organism in a petri dish in Georgia could that organism get to a petri dish in Indiana if their was a vacuum in between?

  19. Yoshua says:

    Saudi Arabia is a petro state almost entirely dependent on oil exports. The oil wealth has resulted in a population explosion from 3 million in 1950 to 30 million today. They have depleted their fossil water and now the wells are bone dry. The Saudi population is now dependent on Aramco to house, feed and bring water to a 30 million population. At todays oil price of $50 the Saudis are burning through their sovereign wealth fund at the rate of $100 million a year to keep the nation from collapse.

    • Yoshua says:

      That is of course $100 billion a year.

    • theyre not worried

      when the oil’s gone, they intend to ”diversify”….charging rent on their fantasy towers in the desert.

      those revenues will allow them to import oil from elsewhere.—-it is the perfect economic plan.

      • DJ says:

        Even the slightly more realistic plan of charging rent for solar panels won’t bring prosperity.

        The solar companies will put their panels where they are charged the least.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        That’s the appeal of DelusiSTAN…. it is possible to remain calm… believing whatever it is that makes one feel calm…

        Of course it does not change the end result because the believe is not real …. it is a delusion…

        No different than being on the 80th floor of a building that is burning… and convincing oneself that there is nothing to worry about … if the flames are not doused …. survival involves the simple matter of kicking out a window… leaping into the abyss… flapping one’s arms… and coasting to the ground…

        Or like believing one can survive the end of BAU by planting a garden

        Ba ha haha ha haha ha hahahahaha…..

    • Tim Groves says:

      “My grandfather rode a Camel, my father rode a Camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a Camel.”
      —Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emîr of Dubai from 1958 to 1990).

      Two of Rashid’s sons have ruled as Emir since his death (one is the current ruler) and they could both afford to drive a Mercedes. But all in all, the prophesy concerning the great grandson(s) still has a good chance of coming true assuming camels remain available.

  20. Fast Eddy says:

    For a moment there I thought Tim had been gazumped…

    5,000yrs of battery life: Nuclear waste-formed radioactive diamonds provide long-lasting energy

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    Clashes over immigration have erupted between police and two opposing protest groups in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and resulted in the arrests of 11 people, local media reports.
    The street demonstration by the group “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” or PEGIDA, took place simultaneously with a counter-rally.

    Pro-immigration protesters barricaded themselves against police. They set ablaze containers with litter and pieces of wood and lit a bonfire right on the roadway, which ended up in scuffles with police.

    Hmmm… so it’s racist to not want illegal immigrants to pour into your country….

    I was in Denmark last month and I noticed there was a large street photo exhibition celebrating the influx of illegal immigrants….

    I was very impressed ….

    Koombaya at is’s finest.

    • Guy is right says:

      FE your position is irrational and contradictory. If your sermon was accepted, BAU would collapse overnight.

      This is a logical progression. So why are you trying to hasten the demise of BAU?

    • A Real Black Person says:

      “Make Racists Afraid Again”
      Looks like the ineffective work of social justice warriors.
      I have a theory what role SJWs play.
      The Globalists manage the global economy.
      The SJWs are the daughters and wives of globalists who have made themselves useful by serving as PR for globalization.
      Sometimes smoothing things over works better with a woman’s touch.
      Not bad on the eyes, huh?

      The globalists needed a scapegoat for why the global economy is not working as planned. Xenophobia, and bigotry fit the bill as as reasons for why an increasing amount of college graduates are unemployed , why people are underpaid , why there aren’t more women in STEM. It’s half-true, like the greatest lies are, of course.

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence libertarians aren’t coming out of the woodwork, chanting “No protectionism! ” in organized protests but a lot of progresssives are chanting “no xenophobia!” There are claims that globalist and billionaire* George Soros is funding many of the non-profits concerned with social justice. On George Soros’ philanthropic Open Society web site, he does not list which groups his Open Society organization has funded but it seems like any group concerned with the social justice could receive money. The claims made Trump supporters that hired agiitators were planted by Left-wing groups to start trouble doesn’t seem as much of a conspiracy theory as it did back in August.

      He doesn’t seem to be interested in funding any efforts to make people like him more taxes however.

      *The CEO of one of the most profitable Wall Street investment firms defending multiculturalism and open borders does not seem like a stretch. It does seem ironic that some who is the epitomy of Financialization is supporting Progressive social justice activism. These Progressives would have been protesting against George Soros back during they heydays of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

      It really seems like this Soros guy is trying to have it both ways:
      Support the little guy while insisting on bail-outs.

      “The decision not to inject capital into the banks but to effectively relieve them of their bad assets, and them allow them to earn their way out of a hole, gave the banks bumper profits and that allowed them to pay bumper bonuses. As I say, I can sympathize with their grievances,” Soros said.

      Didn’t the bailouts also provide capital infusions into banks?

    • A Real Black Person says:

      “Make Racists Afraid Again”
      Looks like the ineffective work of social justice warriors.
      I have a theory what role SJWs play.
      The Globalists manage the global economy.
      The SJWs are the daughters and wives of globalists who have made themselves useful by serving as PR for globalization.
      Sometimes smoothing things over works better with a woman’s touch.
      Not bad on the eyes, huh?

      The globalists needed a scapegoat for why the global economy is not working as planned. Xenophobia, and bigotry fit the bill as as reasons for why an increasing amount of college graduates are unemployed , why people are underpaid , why there aren’t more women in STEM. It’s half-true, like the greatest lies are, of course.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Almost as hot as the Alien ladies!

      • A Real Black Person says:

        I don’t think it’s a coincidence libertarians aren’t coming out of the woodwork, chanting “No protectionism! ” in organized protests but a lot of progressives are chanting “no xenophobia!” There are claims that globalist and billionaire* George Soros is funding many of the non-profits concerned with social justice. On George Soros’ philanthropic Open Society web site, he does not list which groups his Open Society organization has funded but it seems like any group concerned with the social justice could receive money. The claims made Trump supporters that hired agitators were planted by Left-wing groups to start trouble doesn’t seem as much of a conspiracy theory as it did back in August.

        He doesn’t seem to be interested in funding any efforts to make people like him more taxes however.

        *The CEO of one of the most profitable Wall Street investment firms defending multiculturalism and open borders does not seem like a stretch. It does seem ironic that some who is the epitomy of Financialization is supporting Progressive social justice activism. These Progressives would have been protesting against George Soros back during they heydays of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

        It really seems like this Soros guy is trying to have it both ways:
        Support the little guy while insisting on bail-outs.

        “The decision not to inject capital into the banks but to effectively relieve them of their bad assets, and them allow them to earn their way out of a hole, gave the banks bumper profits and that allowed them to pay bumper bonuses. As I say, I can sympathize with their grievances,” Soros said.

        Didn’t the bailouts also provide capital infusions into banks?

      • A Real Black Person says:

        Apparently, I’m not allowed to post anything about George Soros on here.

      • Pintada says:

        Dear A Real Black Person;

        Dr Zimdars didn’t last long. It seems people really like their views whether she considered them delusional or not.

        Your youtube video was from 11/29. This is from 11/19. Are you posting fake news??

        Am I posting fake news???

    • A Real Black Person says:

      The Left used to have the reputation of having unattractive women as pundits. I think they’ve actually tackled that in recent years.
      This one of the “most watched” women on Youtube.
      I don’t think it’s just because of her feminist views.

  22. HPLC guru says:

    Excellent article. One thing though is cars will need to be replaced by some sort of public transportation. No matter what the car runs on (other than pedal power) the idea that we should spend so much capital on 1500 kg carrying usually a single 100 kg that we use 3 – 5% of the time is a thermodynamic farce. Add the 1st Law loss from generating electricity for electric cars makes them horrible compared to public transportation. On top of this cars are financed by interest rates that are exponential functions that grow faster than the physical world can grow to pay them off.
    As a chemist I was forced to take thermodynamics (including statistical thermodynamics, an open book course that proved to me I was dumber than wood) and other physics courses none of which are not a matter of opinion. Unlike your work most of the rhetoric on energy is filled with magical thinking.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      If we shifted to public transport options over cars in a significant way… the car industry would collapse … millions of jobs would be lost (in the auto industry directly and various industries that rely on the car industry including mining) and the global economy would collapse.

      • InAlaska says:

        But all of those auto industry jobs are going to eventually be eliminated anyway through automation, and so the collapse of the auto industry is not only inevitable but desirable as the only means by which one of the large contributors to global CO2 is reduced. I doubt very much that the withering of the auto industry in gradual stages will cause general global economic collapse.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          And if it were possible for robots to take every job related to the auto industry (it’s not) that would result in a deflationary death spiral as well – and a total collapse of the economy.

          Either way – we get collapse. I’ll take my collapse later than sooner… and I ain’t taking the bus.

          More cars – more subprime auto loans – more More MORE!!!

          • InAlaska says:

            Yes, indeed, you are right. Either way we get to a collapse. Sooner or eventually. I guess that puts us back into the debate about fast or slow collapse. Your position has been consistently that it will be fast and brutal. I’m estimating it will be slow and perhaps less brutal, or at least the brutality will be stretched out over a longer time horizon.

            • A Real Black Person says:

              ” I’m estimating it will be slow and perhaps less brutal, or at least the brutality will be stretched out over a longer time horizon.” Oh, yes. Reality will do this for your sake. This is a solipsistic position to take . Evidence suggests the end of industrial civilization will not be slow.

              Decline is slow. It can happen over a longer time period than collapse. Collapse is usually short and brutal. The global economy is not resilient enough for a nice and gentle decline. Regions can decline as long as people can move away or be supported with handouts from regions that are prospering or have resources to spare. Barring extensive support from areas that are doing well, countries/societies in regions that aren’t doing well collapse.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Let me guess….

              You are betting it will be long and drawn out because you know that if it is cliff like you will not be able to survive up there In Alaska….

              You have thought about the Fast Eddy Challenge (although not actually tried it) and you have determined that when the electricity goes off permanently — and the petrol shops shutter – Walmart is no more — and you are completely unplugged from BAU…. you are dead.

              It is comforting to believe that the decline will be gradual…. a BAU Lite situation where there is still electricity — but for only a few hours per day … enough to wash your clothes and run your water pumps…. that there is petrol but on a rationed basis… all you really need is enough to operate the chain saw … that the shops are still open but with limited inventory … as long as you can get ammo … and spare parts … and a sack of rice when the famine hits…

              I get it.

              Keith has his aliens… others have Jesus… some have the Permie God… some even do the sun thing….

              Whatever it takes — to keep the monsters from your dreams.

        • A Real Black Person says:

          If unemployment skyrockets because of automation…then who is going to buy the cars made by robots?

          Did you think this through?

          “I doubt very much that the withering of the auto industry in gradual stages will cause general global economic collapse.” If economic activity from the auto industry isn’t replaced, it will. There are no other industries out the horizon that could replace the economic activity that would disappear along with the auto industry. There is no replacement for fossil fuels. A reduction in CO2 emissions is a reduction is global economic activity. You must be so far up the food chain that you think you’ll be able to avoid unemployment or you’re holding the torch for the Green Economy.

          • DJ says:

            Once EU have expanded to cover the whole world we can tax the siht out of the corporations and everyone who so desires can live a life of leisure.

            On our way to Utopia we have to tax the tshi out of the shrinking number of workers.

            • A Real Black Person says:

              The technocrats advocating for this Utopia think that there is more wealth than ever in this world, enough for everyone to live like Americans. What we face, according to them is a problem of distribution. The wealth is being created with machines, who aren’t being taxed or do not earn a income. All that needs to be done is to raise taxes on the capitalists and their robots. Additional tax revenue from the capitalists and their robots will be used to provide a Universal Basic Income to every single human being and humans will live happily ever after. The End. (of work).

            • DJ says:

              Simple as that!

              Except standard will be like Mexico, and shrinking with depletion and incentive decline.

              But the prospects of living like mexicans will be just the motivation scientists need to get fusion and AI to work.

            • InAlaska says:

              ARBP, try not to be so melodramatic. No new cars, built by robots or by people, are going to be purchased once this all starts to unravel. The Cubans lived with automobiles from the 1950s and patched them together by hand for sixty years.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I assume you are trying to make a point ….

            • Cubans practically do not use cars. The roads are almost empty there, at least based on my visit. Maybe horse-drawn carts. The 1950s cars that are patched up are mostly for the benefit of tourists.

            • A Real Black Person says:

              “One our way to Utopia we have to tax the tshi out of the Rich”
              Bernie Sanders advocated for that. That was doa…why would the rich who governments and large corporations support that? They would not be rich anymore…and there would be no one motivated enough rule our governments or large corporations for a pittance.

              Reducing the income of the managerial class is close to impossible.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘Did you think this through?’

            Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (to infinity)

            Think? What is that? Is that like imagine?

            Think it through …. imagine it through?

            Imagine if people stopped buying cars – what a wonderful world — electric buses… jolly good… we are saved – we are saved – hallelujah we are saved…. sweet jesus … awesome Allah…

            Alas we must kill the auto industry … (photo interlude… Koombayaists must NOW close eyes…)


            Why think… why not just spew … whatever comes to mind… whatever feels good… groovy even… (Koombayaists must NOW grab an organic beer and prepare to Dance around the Camp Fire — it is your moment…)


            Allo … allo… this is Alien ship 976… calling Keith… Keith we have more orders for you…. (hold that thought)

            ARBP — this is what we are dealing with here…. the goal of the Koombayaists is to destroy logic and facts and thoughtfulness…

            They want to make you believe that none of this matters… up is down — a circle is a square… no no — they want you to think it does not matter – a circle a square up down left right .. who cares…

            Keith slipped the other day with the alien comments… the aliens are behind this.. they do exist… they are Zombifying the planet…

            FW is the Alhambra of logic…. the Zombies from the planet DelusiSTAN are at the wall… the Hordes of Idiocy…

            Quickly… help me … let’t throw the pot of boiling oil onto them…. better still … let us fling the barrels of bubbling hot bitumen upon their heads….


            If it feels groovy – Just Do It!

          • louploup2 says:

            “A reduction in CO2 emissions is a reduction is global economic activity.”

            Single most important sentence in many posts. This truth needs to be repeated, and repeated, and repeated.

    • Christian says:

      “One thing though is cars will need to be replaced by some sort of public transportation.”

      That’s elite’s plans

      “At the summit, mayors discussed a new report outlining actions cities could take that would account for 40% of the emissions reductions necessary to keep the global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. To do that, the report found, they would need to ensure that emissions peak by 2020 and then drop DRAMATICALLY.”

      • doomphd says:

        Those chocolate bars were bad for you anyway. The way I rationalize it, chocolate manufacturers, realizing their product causes diabetes and other health problems, have voluntarily cut back on the portions, to help with our dietary health. Next up: chocolate rationing coupons, Brown Thursdays, etc.

        • Christian says:

          Next up: cigarettes will disappear, according to Phillip Morris itself

          This is something I can’t really undestand

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Global emissions will never be reduced. We will increase the burning of fossil fuels right until the very end of BAU.

        That is guaranteed.

        The climate conferences are held for the sole purpose of calming the sheeple…. they are Potemkin Villages… with pre-ordained decisions thought up by Don Drapers…

        All that happens is the participants fly over in private jets …. check into fancy hotels …. eat gourmet dinners and drink fine wines… then after this relaxing vacation – they read the press releases…the world applauds…. and they get back on their private jets….

        • DJ says:

          What is the purpose of calming the sheeple?

          If no one had mentioned several meters sea level rise no one would worry. And even now most don’t worry, if they are even aware.

          • Ert says:


            What is the purpose of calming the sheeple?

            Someone the system can’t control will bring up the topic. The whole media-climate-conference-hocus-pocus provides a narrative…. that some people will do something and life goes on.

            Whatever… (doomerish) McPherson says in 2030 its over, (doomerish) E*T*P modell says in 2030 its over… lots of people here are the option that in 2030 its over… enjoy it while it lasts and get you popcorn ready 🙂

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The Green Groupies have a lot to answer to for upsetting the sheeple in the first place….

        • Christian says:

          Elites know HC supply is starting to shrink and (as Ert says) they need to provide a “positive” narrative about the fact; in the same line we talked about Saudi’s “cuts” and Trump’s “protectionism” we have Cities “decarbonisation”

          Elites are not doomerist by definition. Their job is to keep BAU alive, and that’s what they’ll do. But they can’t do it without narratives

          • DJ says:

            Either emissions (and supply) keeps growing to the very end, or the leaders believe emissions (and demand) can shrink, at least for a while.

            The only reason to mention climate change is if it either is true or if they want a “positive narrative” to shrinking emissions.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Christian and DJ, Yes and yes. What you are both saying makes a lot of sense.

            I think the elites or the Elders are attempting a managed decline while averting a general collapse, and plausible narratives are an essential part of the effort.

            • DJ says:

              And what are the odds to make this hold together until 2030?

              Prohibit ICE, EV will always be to expensive for everyone. Compact urban living. Vegetarianism. Keep competitive workers in the workforce way past 65. Wind and solar. And many smaller measures.

              All these are signs we are running out of resources but are sold (and bought) as progress.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘You Can’t Handle the Truth!’ (in a different way)

            • do i get to choose who i eat?

            • DJ says:

              One more flew over cuckoos nest …

            • louploup2 says:

              If the elites were truly trying to “manage decline” wouldn’t they be promoting narratives that slow population growth? Or would any focus on limits to growth make the inevitable too obvious?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Refer to Japan to understand the implications of slowing or declining population growth – then extend that globally

            • DJ says:

              What about Japan? The tsunamis? The rob ot sxe?

              Increasing GDP per capita. Increasing life expectancy. Decreasing child mortality. Top 2 or 3 in PISA. Real Estate prices as third of when it was most expensive.

      • The problem with public transportation is that it needs to be financed by increased government spending. There are no funds for increased government spending. Ultimately they need to come from the consumers’ pocketbooks. For most people, public transportation only partly eliminates the need for a car, so there is little direct benefit. Also, the only direct benefit is the fuel savings; other auto costs stay the same. Falling resale value of automobiles would be a catastrophe, because it would put resale value of cars even farther below the outstanding values on loans. The whole idea cannot possibly work.

        • bandits101 says:

          Cars are what made suburbia popular and viable. As you say public transport could only service a medium part……or you get shanty towns and their inherent problems. The cost for meeting the needs and expectations of the majority, would be taxing to say the least. For perspective (and I’ve said this many times) stand on a freeway overpass for an hour or so.

          Firstly note the amount of traffic servicing the outer lying regions, note the diversity, trucks of many, many varieties….fire, military, garbage, petroleum, food, machinery, agriculture…….note the service vehicles, police, plumbers, builders, maintenance of huge variety, ambulance, sales reps, electricians and many, many more that cannot be replaced by public transport or be electrified.

          The network and variety (similar to much else you describe) is irrevocably connected. The vital connections of a beating heart, veins and arteries are fossil fuels. Cut even a fraction of the necessary coal or oil or gas and the beating heart would suffer an infarction. It is just an example of the overshoot dilemma FF’s have manifested. IMO there is no going back or even substitution without a great deal of suffering everywhere, not just locally or in some country that assumes it can remain an island in a sea of want.

    • Yes, most of the rhetoric on energy is filled with magical thinking.

      So is most of the rhetoric on how much public spending we can afford. We cannot afford the public spending we are doing now. In fact, we have promised even more, because of the growing population of elderly. Adding public transportation on top of personal autos cannot work for this reason. There is no way that private autos can cut back soon enough to support the cost of all the needed built infrastructure. I also made another comment on this issue.

  23. dolph says:

    Jews. Blacks. Illegal Mexicans. Corporations.
    All wanting their share of the wealth of the hated white American.

    So what’s the hated white American going to do? Why, vote for the corporations, of course! At least get screwed by your own.

    • Artleads says:

      I thought that if you were born or naturalized an American citizen, you were as American as anybody else, and deserving of the rights of all citizens under the law (apart from the right to be president in one case). What is your point about white America? And what’s your reason for lumping Jewish and Black American citizens along with “illegal” Mexicans?

      • DJ says:

        And US is held up as an example how people of different races, customs and religion can live side by side and gain economic advantage over homogenous countries.

        How depressing.

    • i1 says:

      jews. lol

    • Tango Oscar says:

      Jews enjoy white privilege the same as other white Americans. Many Jews run or are connected to the banks and corporations as well.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Back in the day when the Brits were in charge of the world… in a place like Canada … if your surname was not Jones or Smith or Matheson or similar….. it was very difficult to get a management or higher level job…

        The middle and upper echelons were dominated by Anglo Saxons…

        Similarly but not to such an extreme…. the current rulers of the world are disproportionately represented in senior positions across various industries.

  24. MG says:

    When the famous physicist does not understand the finite world of the human species:

    • DJ says:

      It seems he is aware of limits “because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it”, and that he is suggesting some form of global socialism.

      That means we few “rich” must go much further than half the way to meet the many poor.

    • Christian says:

      The last line:

      “The writer launched earlier this year” (powered by UBS)

      Gail, the most famous phycisist is willing to beat you !!!

      • A Real Black Person says:

        I’m not sure why Steve Hawking is being asked about anything other than black holes.
        He doesn’t seem to have above average insight when discussing anything other than those.

        What has Hawking said that hasn’t about current global problems that hasn’t been said by Hillary Clinton and every other technocrat ?

        Steve Hawkings writes” we must help people to re-train for a new world and support them financially while they do so” I guess it is true what they say: when one welds hammer, everything begins to look like nails. A college professor at a prestigious school would naturally see global problems as a result of technological unemployment and a lack of education.

        I don’t understand the clout this guy has.There’s nothing that he uncovered that wouldn’t have been uncovered eventually. Does he serve as an inspirational figure to instill faith in human will and technology? If Modernism were a religion, Hawkings could be a saint of it.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          We often see successful business people asked questions about things completely out of their realm of expertise…. as if they are all-knowing….

        • Kurt says:

          He has never been in contact with anyone with an iq less than 140. He just doesn’t understand that 75% of the population just won’t be smart enough to do the jobs that will remain.

          • A Real Black Person says:

            Maybe he’s not as smart as we think he is
            The same can be said about many members of the cognitive elite

            Instead of confronting real threats and solving them, they are considered with artificial threats.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              There is that…

            • Ed says:

              ARBP everyone is limited by the information stream they choose. How smart people manage to avoid thinking about limits to growth is amazing. I work with people who should know better but they carry on about self driving cars and basically infinite growth in its high tech forms. They say in 15 years we will have …., and I think we will be lucky if we are still alive in 15 years.

          • A Real Black Person says:

            Maybe he’s not as smart as we think he is
            The same can be said about many members of the cognitive elite

            Instead of confronting real threats and solving them, they are concerned with artificial threats.

            • bandits101 says:

              The absolute elephant in the room is overpopulation. It’s the base problem to which EVERYTHING is related, regarding the current human predicament. The whole world seems to be in denial. Because there is no obvious or worthwhile solution and of course because it’s simply all too hard it’s ignored. Similar to a child covering their eyes…….if they can’t see it it’s not there. Collectively, not understanding the exponential function was/is indeed our greatest failing.

            • that’s always my main point

              growth graphs clearly show that we are on track to hit 9 or even 10 billion by 2050ish

              Clearly that cannot happen, yet the mothers of that extra 2 bn are alive now, they will want to reproduce themselves. Obviously something must happen between then and now to prevent it.
              The only large scale depopulation events in our memory spans have been world wars and (for example) the Russian and Chinese famines. All in the 2oth century.

              They didn’t dent population growth, so by definition it has to be something bigger, and faster.

              We seem to have 3 options:

              1 Nuclear war
              2 Pandemic
              3 arctic Methane release.

              the world is also on track for increased temperature rise by burning fossil fuels, moreso since the loonytoons Trump gang took over, They intend to burn everything in sight in order to “create jobs”.
              They have a mandate to do so by an electorate that is convinced that prosperity can be voted into office.
              So rising population and rising temperature are going to collide in spectacular fashion. And the methane is sitting there, ready to be released.
              Don’t know if I’d go along with Guy Macpherson’s view of being dead in 10 years—but there’s certainly a growing possibility of it.

            • bandits101 says:

              The Second World War was assumed to have caused sixty odd million excess deaths, over six years. Many of those would have died anyway, the world was still netting thirty million people extra annually.

              The First World War caused approximately 38 million deaths over four years. The Spanish Flu in 1919 was estimated to have killed between 50 – 100 million world wide over a period of 18 months, that was about 5% of the population.

              The point being I guess is that we now have 5 billion more people than WW2 and 6 billion more than WW1. Clearly even a 5% reduction now is incomprehensible, we are adding 80 million every year. Even reducing by 100 million annually will only net a 20 million pay day…….a drop in the ocean.

              Population growth is out of “reasonable” measures of control. A nuclear war that kills billions, would likely runaway to killing everyone, there is no need anyway as you say overshoot has ensured our demise by its “natural consequences”….starvation and environmental destruction, amongst others.

            • True. But somehow early populations understood that population couldn’t outgrow their food supply without dire ramifications. They built in ways of cutting back population, such as rites of passage at puberty that killed off part of the population. The fact that we have had fossil fuel energy to support our growing population has caused us to lose sight of the obvious.

            • Christian says:

              I think they are smart, their way. I suppose as these three people are involved in AI/high tech, this is the closest metaphor they can imagine to address unemployement. It’s some form of telling “hey, there is unemployment and it’s not us who will curb it down”

            • Ert says:


              “yet the mothers of that extra 2 bn are alive now, they will want to reproduce themselves.”

              Thats what I don’t get in a lot of women… the total mind-warp they are able to do in regard of children and the nest-building thingy. When I bring the kids issue on the table, women react even more absurd then men… there is a heavy splitting-off / mental separation at work…. ignoring all the facts – or projecting them to “the others” only.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That’s because mamma is nothing more than a host for Mr DNA who’s prime directive is to create more hosts so that he can remain immortal….

              Mr DNA can get vicious when his immortality is threatened… suggesting the host not breed would understandably upset Mr DNA..

              He also becomes quite agitated when the host is threatened with physical violence… or when the host is starved of food…

              My personal Mr DNA and I have a long standing feud — he insists that I breed — I tell him to piss off… he rages and rants and pulls his hair out…. I laugh at him which – as you can imagine — sends him into a frenzy.. then when he is not looking.. I give him a very hard right cross to the face followed by another stiff shot to the body …. he knows his place…


              What he does not know is that I have chosen a rock cut and that once BAU is finished — I will terminate him….

              This will be the battle royale of all time…. I will fight to hold the accelerator to the floor … and the steering wheel on a true course… he will attempt to override by urging me to live on….

              But terminate him I will….

            • DJ says:

              99% of people deny overpopulation COULD be a problem.

              Having children or not is only a question of economics and disturbed sleep.

            • Ert says:


              Then 99% of the people are stupid or have no brains.

              Thats also the reason I stopped lots of activities, since when people are for energy saving, against nuclear, against pollution, against poverty – then they should act and reduce their consumption – starting with the biggest impact factor: Kids in the western world! One per couple is more than enough…..

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Then we could all turn Japanese… a declining or even stagnating population … is a bad thing

    • Someone needs to explain to Steven Hawkings that the economy is a dissipative structure. Also, that increased hierarchical behavior is a sign of inadequate energy availability.

  25. Stilgar Wilcox says:
    Brent up to $54.46 a barrel!!! So much for all the suggestions that oil price would continue to drop.

    And not far from my predicted price of $60 a barrel by year end of 2016, made during Thanksgiving of 2015. It could still break 60, and if not, the prediction was not far off considering the price at the time was in the low 30’s with many on this site saying the price would never go up again, only down. My prediction was scoffed at in 2015 and I was told I was in a fantasy world. Which just goes to show price is determined no differently than it ever was, by supply & demand, and as the following years pass people will come to understand how wrong the Hills Group was in their prediction of a barrel of oil only being worth $20 dollars in 2019 (for various energy related false prognostications).

    • greg machala says:

      Not to take away from your accurate prediction but, with the recent volatility in oil prices, maybe a rolling average oil price would be more representative of the trend.

    • Kurt says:

      +++++++++++++++ !!!!!!!

      The system is reacting in a way that makes sense. Not the way some people think it “should” react, but that’s what makes this so much fun. Congrats on being correct.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      You should contact bloomberg and tell them you almost got it right…. they might have you on as a guest.

    • Joebanana says:

      I don’t think you are at all right about the Hills Group. $54.46 is well within the maximum price they were looking for this tear. Believe me, I hope you are right but I think it is way too soon for you to discount the ETP model.

    • Joebanana says:

      I would not do the victory lap yet. $54.46 is well with what the Hills Group expected this year. I hope they are wrong but we will know soon enough.

      • Christian says:

        I’m not very familiar with Hills model, but I think they only talk about price and disregard volume… If this is the case, that’s an explanation why they are wrong

        • Christian says:

          Btw, congrats. Stilgar.

          Perhaps Gail’s deflationary forecast is not correct either

          • adonis says:

            what goes up must come down , i think the price will drop again gail’s deflationary forecast will be vindicated the only question is how low im guessing mid 30’s

            • Christian says:

              Adonis, as far I can see you’re not a person used to reasoning. You’re not doing it now, for sure.

              Look at the discussion we had yesterday, that’s an attempt to understand what is happening and what will

            • When storage gets filled up, price may go even lower.

    • psile says:

      Oil is like a cake that only gets bigger with the eating. Right? Besides, it’s not 2019, yet, and WTI oil went as low as $24, before jawboning and other price manipulation saw it rise to $51. They may succeed in pushing prices higher, but can the ordinary consumer afford it?

      I don’t know anything about the Hills Group Report, but I do know that pundits have been wrong on both sides of the oil price many, many times and that the earth is not a magic pudding that keeps on giving.

  26. adonis says:

    meanwhile more confirmation that global warming could be the biggest con job perpetrated on mankind yet

  27. Stefeun says:

    The Curse of the Modern Office
    by Kris De Decker

    The information society promises to dematerialise society and make it more sustainable, but modern office and knowledge work has itself become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy and other resources.

    A well-made article, as usual on this site.
    I think the bottom-line is, as said in the comments, that optimization of the production reduces the resilience, and therefore leads to implementation of controls, and controls of controls, adding (energy-consuming) informational layers ad nauseam.
    The production itself becomes more and more disembodied and efficient, as long as energy inputs are available and externalities have left something to exploit and sell to solvable consumers.

    • Artleads says:

      Doesn’t seem to be an argument for efficiency. I’m also trying to figure out how economic programs–like tourism–might work instead. Uses what’s there, what’s distinct, has to do with intellectual and cultural resources rather than stuff.

      • Stefeun says:

        What’s promoted as energy efficient never takes into account all parameters, and is in fact largely inefficient when you look at the broader picture.
        We’ll most likely keep on extracting and burning everything we can, until we can’t anymore. We might be very close to this Wile E. Coyote moment.

        • Artleads says:

          “We’ll most likely keep on extracting and burning everything we can, until we can’t anymore.”

          We might. It wouldn’t be rational, but we might. My ONLY concern is to discern what IS rational and pose it as a conjecture.

          • Stefeun says:

            We imagine ourselves as being rational, responsible and all that, but it isn’t true: we’re emotional beings. As individuals, and even more at collective level.

            I imagine our brains as made of 3 layers, the first is reptilian and insures the vital functions, the second is the limbic one where take place the emotions and impressions, and the third is the neocortex (thinking, rationality, abstraction, higher levels of consciousness, …).
            The lower level is autonomous, one can live (well, stay alive) with the basic functions only, but the neocortex needs the other two below to pass it the information it can then process. That is energy-(and time-) consuming, and btw came into existence thanks to our ability to gather higher rates of energy from our environment.

            In hard times, I’d expect the neocortex to stop functioning (intermittent shutdowns, at least), thus making better use of the scarce energy available and increasing one’s chances of survival. I don’t believe that rationality could play any significant role on the downward slope, wether for individuals, or -even less- for large communities.

            • Artleads says:

              But we the privileged within the heart of BAU, are not experiencing yet the full impact of those “hard times.” So those two lower levels of the brain are not yet so taxed that they can’t pass on the information the neocortex requires to make optimal decisions. Pressures are mounting all around us, and the masses lack the ability to reflect on or analyze those encircling forces of pressure. That puts a logical responsibility on those of us who can reflect to circumvent, ameliorate, whatever, that mass lack of reflection. Not to use the small window of time to plan before the noose totally tightens would be unwise. We might only have this little time, ever, to TRY and switch the tracks so the train can go somewhere else other than into the wall. People made relatively rational decisions to restrain or prevent the deployment of nuclear weapons. That, so far, and with luck which comes whence we don’t know, has prevented nuclear war these past 70 years. I would call that “rational” behavior. To try and figure out how (and through creative means) “BAU” can remain as long as we can foresee seems like a reasonable thing to do. I think tourism is something to consider in that regard.

            • Artleads says:

              I responded at some length, but it didn’t post, or hasn’t posted yet. In a nutshell, those “hard times” you mentioned haven’t come yet to us posting on this blog. We still have a little time left for the neocortex to function. I may have a different perspective on how to use that “little time” than you. 🙂

            • Stefeun says:

              Yes Artleads,
              I think collapse is unavoidable, we only don’t know when. So it shouldn’t matter how one uses his/her time, uses BAU or not, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

              However, in the meantime we may very well have to live under authoritarian regimes. We should therefore try to avoid the nasty effects, which seems to mean living in a remote place and limit any dependence link.
              For the rest, enjoy the present time to the fullest.

            • Right! Enjoy the time we have now. We don’t know how long it will last.

      • Curt Kurschus says:

        Tourists still need to consume stuff. Everything that everybody does involves the consumption of physical products. Some form of energy at a minimum – such as food, for example – which therefore needs to be produced using more stuff. One nation can only become an all-services economy if another nation is or multiple other nations are) supplying it with all the stuff it needs – and that would be an awful lot of stuff for any of the world’s national economies.

        • Artleads says:

          “Tourists still need to consume stuff.”

          What does that mean? There isn’t only one kind of tourism. There is cruise ship tourism, five star hotel tourism, or a great variety of types that use varying degrees of stuff. One form of tourism I’ve seen are roadside vendors in very poor countries. The four posts and thatch for the shed comes from where they live. Yes, they may sport a knife, a pot or a machete, but they had those things already anyway.

    • I like Kris De Decker’s work. He has a lot of good articles on Low Tech Magazine.

  28. ah but would he know an alien if he saw one???

    i remember all those 50s aliens movies—they were always lizards underneath, but looked just like you and me—well you anyway—walking around the main street, i always assumed that real aliens were just camera shy and wouldnt work in hollywood without disguises.

  29. hkeithhenson says:

    “Acomb’s Razor”

    Occam’s razor, actually. “The principle can be interpreted as stating: Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” So far, constructed alien megastructures appear to explain the results best. The known lack of IR above 65 K strongly limits the range of explanations. The 15% fade over the last century is hard to account for with any natural explanation. Aliens sopping up the energy with power satellites is more attractive than an F type star fading out. Anyway, it if was the star fading, it would get cooler and we don’t see that.

    Cold megastructure leads to predictions that can be tested. My bet is that we will know in less than a year.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘So far, constructed alien megastructures appear to explain the results best.’

      You had very little credibility going in….

      • Joebanana says:

        I hope they are the hot aliens that Captain Kirk used to hook up with!

        • Greg Machala says:

          Take Pluto for example. The assumptions of it being a boring block of ice were wrong. And Pluto is practically right next door compared to this anomalous star. Scientist now believe (since the fly-by of Pluto) that there are liquid oceans under Pluto’s ice and possibly plate tectonics at play. Space is completely unknown to us. To say that a star 1000’s of light years away from us has an artificial mega structure built around it by an alien race is a bit of a stretch.

          • InAlaska says:

            Its likely that we would have heard something of “their” signals by now if they were engaged in solar engineering on that scale. Even as advanced a civilization as could do that would likely not be able to do it in radio silence.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “radio silence”

              Unless they were beaming out direction with GW of power, radio signals would be lost in the noise. 1480 light-years is a *long* way. We can see the star and the shadows when something blocks the light, but that because it’s a _star_. (And about 5 times as bright as our Sun.)

      • hkeithhenson says:

        You have a better explanation? Or any at all?

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If in doubt … assume the Aliens did it….

          Life is so much simpler that way.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “assume the Aliens did it”

            It’s hard to infer a lot about the economy of an alien species with godlike but limited powers. (If they were not limited, they would be here, eating your lunch.) Still, if you take the 15% dimming of their star over the past century, they have been increasing their use of energy at about 0.14% per year. Ghod knows what near immortal aliens would use as either their accounting period or a discount rate.

            Still, if humans were to increase their energy use at only 1% per year, it would take a little less than 3000 years to be using 15% of the output of the sun. I suggest that it would be a rather bad idea to try to use that much energy on earth, so people will need to spread out, perhaps as Lofstrom suggests to 30 AU.

            With respect to the current concerns of this blog, the Earth is finite. Even the whole solar system is finite, but if we go off the planet, BAU might hold up 3000 more years.

            If we are looking at aliens, there must be a FE analog there, because they are running up against the limits of their nice, bright F type star. It’s obvious what the FE analog would say (or said, because what we see is 1480 years in the past). What’s hard to figure out is what the engineers (i.e., my analog) would be saying.

          • DJ says:

            I want to believe.

        • greg machala says:

          Yes natural causes that we have not discovered yet seems the most plausible.

          • hkeithhenson says:


            If someone can come up with a mundane reason for all the weird behavior we see at Tabby’s star, that would be almost as cool as aliens.

            But it’s not going to be easy.

            I hung out for more than a decade with people who understood the potentials of nanotech and AI, the lynch pins of the singularity. I might add that for engineering reasons (thermal and speed of light) I disagreed with them on a number of points. The blinks we see at Tabby’s star make sense in engineering terms. If you want to maximize the amount of computation, given limited resources (and resources are always limited) then going out from the Sun (or star) is a good idea to get the temperature down.

            This leads to testable predictions. I am kind of surprised at the size, but it’s possible the computational core(s) is/are small but being cooled by a radiator on a size comparable to the star.

            How small the cores are depends on how fast or slow you want to have the universe run around you. Edge to edge, the 22% dip is a million km in diameter. It would take light 3 second to cross that distance. If the inhabitants are running at human speeds, that’s to slow for voice.

            What on (or rather off) Earth could they be doing with computation on that scale? Well, you know about the simulation hypothesis? That would sop up as much computation as you want. “The Clinic Seed” story worked around the edges of uploading humans into a simulation in the “boiling a frog” mode. Accelerado toward the end has the Vile Offspring generating simulations of everyone who left a written record. Consider that when posting. 🙂

            The point for this blog is that we are a very long way from running into limits. Low cost energy? Piffle. What’s the fuel cost of a 10,000 square km of sunlight out in space? Import so much energy that we get a second global warming? Use 200 M tons of asteroid to construct a sunshade at L1. (Google Dylson Dots, Kennedy to find the JBIS paper.)

            It’s not like I expect the Western countries to do this, though they might. It’s the Chinese who are on top of the initial power from space option.

            • DJ says:

              Are you suggesting they have built something surrounding 15% of their sun?

              At what distance from OUR sun would you build something like that?

              How much material would that take?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “surrounding 15% of their sun?”

              No. The evidence from the past somewhat confirmed by the Kepler data is that the light from this star has dimmed by 15% over the past century. To see the blinks from large light blockers, we need to be on the ecliptic of that system. How far north and south of the ecliptic the objects soaking up the light that come toward us is unknown, but even a degree or so would still be an awful lot of energy. If what’s catching the light is going through a thermal cycle, then they need to either be so far out that the radiators are really cold, or they need to be of a kind that radiates the waste heat local north and south away from our line of sight. Conceptual examples that radiate that way have been designed.

              “At what distance from OUR sun would you build something like that?”

              That’s a really good question. I don’t know, at least not yet.

              Assuming the object causing the 22% event is more or less circular and crossed right over the star, I get the velocity to be about 10.5 km which for that star puts it at 11-12 AU. (Also assuming I didn’t make a math error.) Saturn in our solar system is about 9.5 AU.

              The missing IR flux (WTF) is not consistent with this distance for a natural object, or even a disk.

              “How much material would that take?”

              A *lot*! The question has been answered for ring worlds and Dyson Spheres. It depends on how thin you can make the material and what you are using. KL has suggested ice as a structural material, but that takes going out 30 AU in our system and 60-65 AU in that system.

              I suspect (if we really are looking at alien megastructures) that they are shorter on materials than they are of energy.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Keith – have you ever been dressed in one of these?


            • amebadisinteray says:

              FE have you been giving your Abilify to Keith again? You know what happens when he takes that and has a espresso!

    • doomphd says:

      i can’t spell kat, especially early in the morning before coffee. i just sound it out, like my ancestors, oll korrect?

  30. Yoshua says:

    Saudi Arabia is producing 10 million barrels per day. At the energy halfway point the energy of 5 Mbpd is needed to run Saudi Arabia. The other 5 Mbpd is the net energy delivered to run the global economy.

    • DJ says:

      That should be quite easy to verify..?

      (Then proceed with a long discussion whether SA is efficiently run.)

      • Artleads says:


        You speak about real estate bubbles more than most here. I wondered if the following affects your views on preventing or not the rupture of the RE bubble? ,

        • DJ says:

          I dont have any opinion on US RE, almost not on Swedens RE bubble.

          I am not even sure there is a RE bubble, maybe just a debt bubble. New RE costs as ridiculously much without anyone making large profits, maybe indicating we can’t afford living like this?

          Private debts increases steadily 7-8% per year. Since debts are about 2x income we live about 15% above our means. If RE values stops increasing we will have to stop increasing debts.

          • Curt Kurschus says:

            Or, if banks and other creditors collapse with overburdened debtors being unable to pay back their mortgages in full and on schedule, the availability of mortgages declines to zero and the real estate values fall precipitously. How high would real estate values be, and how much growth would there be in value of real estate, without the abundance of cheap and easy mortgage credit? Yes, everybody needs a home, but only people who can afford (or who can convince lenders that they can afford) to buy homes will do so. If mortgages are no longer available, demand plummets, and so do residential real estate values.

            • DJ says:

              In my country close to no one will have problem paying interests (less than 1.5% rate).

              But at some point we will not be allowed to take out more debt and then prices will fall, helped by demographics.

              If you don’t sell your home for more than your debt you will have trouble moving because you have to put 15% down, and renting barely exists.

              So, what will happen IMO is that you get stuck where you live and cut down on consumtion. Couples who want to split up will stay together unless one of them has extra money.

              Some will be hit by unemployment (especially after the “cut down on consumtion”), they can’t make enda meet by staying in place and can’t move to get a new job.

              Politicians will soon realize this does not work (the 15% rule) and change the rule. If banks for some reason does not want to lend up to 100% the government can step in. Or you take the full mortgage from the central bank, like for 30-40 years ago.

      • Yoshua says:

        Our understanding of the world is abstract… the world is not.

        I get your point though. Perhaps SA doesn’t need so many palaces? Perhaps SA can stream line the production some more?

    • while we mock the insanity of the saudi system of needing one third of their oil (currently) to sustain their lifestyle, we maybe ignore the fact that we are all doing the same thing and falling into the same trap
      with most places in the world it’s not so clear cut, but we all exist on the import-export and trade of energy based products

      this can only continue as long as we have a surplus.

      what the saudis are doing is exporting raw energy itself. In the same way, they can only continue as long as they have a surplus.
      Soon they will pass the halfway mark, as demand and availability meet.

      after that demand will accelerate away from availability and the saudi economy will crash into the sand it came from.

      western industrial economies will do the same thing

      • Yoshua says:

        So… I’m a just chef by profession working in a school cantina. The kids are f***ing fantastic…. You know… they are children… pure and honest.

        I don’t know what to say when they look at me with hungry eyes.

    • At the energy halfway point the energy of 5 Mbpd is needed to run Saudi Arabia. The other 5 Mbpd is the net energy delivered to run the global economy.

      That is what Peak Oilers believe. It is not true as far as I can see. The statement just gets repeated endlessly. When the financial system collapses, the system breaks, leaving an awfully lot of energy products of many types in the ground.

      Also, our ability to measure true “net energy” is incredibly poor, because it would have to include government energy needs that are met by taxation. No one includes this in their calculations.

      • Greg Machala says:

        While I agree with you that the energy halfway point is not the whole picture (or even peak oil for that matter), I do think it is relevant to our situation. To me (the ETP model, EROEI, increasing complexity, debt etc) are all symptoms of the greater disease of diminishing returns of a dissipative structure. Diminishing returns will manifest itself in many ways, volatility, job loss, decreasing EROEI and such. While no model gets the whole picture, or can be used to predict timing of collapse, I think it is important to the greater understanding of what is happening that we have these theories out there so us ordinary lay-persons can better understand the situation. It is networked and very complex. So, to me, having a more simplified view is helpful.

      • Yoshua says:

        I’m just the monkey trying to build a bridge between you and the Hill’s.

        Saudi Arabia is a thermodynamic system and so is the global economy.

      • Volvo740 says:

        When I first learned about Peak Oil, I thought (and experienced when I tried to explain ‘the problems’ to others) that these were the true ‘doomers’. Now we have Peak Oilers being the optimists, pushing the best possible case. I.e. the symmetrical curve.

        To be a true doomer today, you probably have to subscribe to faster collapse. Seneca cliff at a minimum. Actually to be really hard core you may also subscribe to Guy McPherson and Sam Carana (pen name), and a 10 deg rise in temp in 10 years. I actually haven’t seen anything disputing their analysis – so I’m in that camp – until their stance is dis-proven – and that will probably become clear in 5-6 years.

        Instadoom will probably not become dis-proven in the next few years as it appears to be a continuous threat until it happens – or not.

        Do you agree with me Gail?

    • Greg Machala says:

      While I do not dispute the facts that the global average temperature is increasing (and has been for decades) the Washington Post is hardly a credible source of climate science news.

  31. adonis says: more evidence that in reality the elites are lost and have no idea what to do to continue bau everything that is now being done is the last ditch efforts before the barman shouts ‘ that’s it last drinks bars shut’

  32. dolph says:

    I’m basing my opinions not on delusion but what I observe. If anything, those of you who think industry will just shut down are delusional.
    The endgame is in view: industrial capital will deplete all of the remaining resources, financial capital will provide the debt and create money out of thin air when the debts aren’t paid. How long can they do this? All the way down the curve. Decades out into the future, as far as the eye can see. They are in complete charge, there is no opposition, there is nobody who will shut down the machines.
    However where I will agree is that there’s nothing we can do about it. Collapse will happen, we are living through it.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Yes dolph… perpetual motion and all that…

      Be a good dolph and fetch me another cold one would ya….

    • Artleads says:

      “Collapse will happen, we are living through it.”

      Some people don’t see the “we are living through it” reality, and think the present is like heaven compared to some cut-off line that will be like a sudden level 8 earthquake. (And earthquake is not just a metaphor where massive collapse is concerned.)

      But there is lot’s of it happening right now. Food and housing are too expensive now even for the former middle class. And insofar as democracy is a reflection of energy, there’s a huge breakdown of democracy going on right now. One tiny example below:

      So I think an accident, a major earthquake down the San Andreas Fault (or a great many other possibilities) could put a major dent in that continuity you mention.

      But here’s another subject: Let’s say we avoid massive natural or nuclear disruption through prevention or mitigation…somehow, and for some undetermined period…could growing GDP continue through better circulation of your “printed” money? Couldn’t you grow GDP while redistributing money? Or while filling potholes or planting trees? Or through tourism or casinos?

      • dolph says:

        GDP is measured in currency, and therefore all you need is more currency and you have a bigger GDP. GDP is no longer allowed to fall, ever, and even recessions have been outlawed. We have permanent “growth” even as resources and population decline. Everything is now a lie.

        We are entering a permanent depression, and nobody will ever acknowledge or talk about it, except at the peon level, and at this level it’s always the fault of some other race, religion, or the other poor disabled who are on welfare, etc. Nobody ever points to the system or financial capital as the problem. The victory is total.

        This is what luddites, marxists, socialists, environmentalists, etc. of all stripes never understood. Capital plays for keeps, it plays for total control and ownership. Capital is never interested in playing nice. As such, capital will own the decline but will never own up to it, per say. It will shift the blame and costs onto the government, inflation, keeping the working classes killing each other, etc.

        Because we know this, it’s enough for us to stand back in awe and just sort of separate, choose our level of participation.

        • Artleads says:

          “…could growing GDP continue through better circulation of your “printed” money? Couldn’t you grow GDP while redistributing money? Or while filling potholes or planting trees? Or through tourism or casinos?”

          If it’s all the same–always money and “growth” somehow–couldn’t the above approach add value to the economy meanwhile?

        • Except that the GDP really needs to be converted to dollars. If you raise the currency, the currency falls lower relative to dollars, so in dollars, it isn’t higher. The US is the only one that theoretically can do that, but it is going the other direction. It is raising the interest rates, so the currency rises higher, relative to other currencies.

      • Greg Machala says:

        There will always be the “official” health indicators of the economy showing everything is solid and wonderful. The reality though will be totally different. We see the false economic indicators already. The disparity between reality and official measures of economic health will become greater and greater.

        I think we are on the verge right now. Any major event: pipeline explosion, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, disease outbreak or something similar will push reality front and center real quick. Once that faith in the system is lost watch everything fall completely apart.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        We’re not out of GDP – we could fake that to eternity — we are out of cheap to produce oil.

        • Artleads says:

          But couldn’t the economy grow in less oil hungry ways?

          • It did. Economic growth moved to China and other coal producing countries. Countries that were heavy oil users (Europe especially Greece, Japan, US) got left behind. One of the reasons was that manufacturing moved to cheaper parts of the world (using coal or hydroelectric, plus cheaper labor, less enforcement of environmental laws). Growth in oil consumption has lagged growth in total energy consumption for many years.

            • DJ says:

              But now you are showing real GDP?

              Yesterday you admitted nominal GDP could be faked forever.

              So how long before real GDP per capita becomes a problem? Before christmas? 2022? 2030? When we have covered the sun in solar panels?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Nominal real fake whatever… it requires energy… it is not possible to reduce the burning off fossil fuels without collapsing the global economy…

              How difficult is that to understand?

            • richardA says:

              Real GDP per capita is a problem today for the USA. It was a problem in 2014 that was sidelined by oil and gas fracking while the oil price was still high. It is at the core of LTG. If it was fixable we would probably know the solution by now.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Real GDP per capita is a problem today for the USA.”

              In the stone age, falling resources per capita (mapped into income per capita) or the prospects of same tripped conditional behavior switch. Among other things, it made people seek an irrational leader. Why? Because, weird as it might seem, genes did better in such circumstances. If anyone is really interested, I can send you the analysis or put it up somewhere.

            • I would be interested in seeing at least a summary. It might also help explain Trump’s election.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “It might also help explain Trump’s election.”

              People (in the stone age or today) who are under stress circulate xenophobic memes against neighbors or some internal class. They also find irrational leaders attractive. In the stone age this led up to war with neighbors and win or lose that always solved the population problems.

              BTW, for the people who say we are a long way from starvation and thus not like the stone age, animals, including humans, respond to relative signals.

              “In fact, our genes would have been selected to go to war with the neighbors not when we are weak from starvation, but when we anticipate hard times a-coming. Further, like most psychological responses, this one is almost certainly tripped by relative changes, here in income per capita, (originally game and berries), especially by sharp downturns after a long ramp up (Cialdini 1984, p 249, quoting J. C. Davies). ”

              In any case, it seems that our evolution has a rational reason (for genes) to go for irrational leaders when under stress. The current president elect is not the first time.

            • Stefeun says:

              I see rationality as a privilege brought by high energy input.
              When the energy input lowers, immediate survival behaviour starts to prevail (again).

              In parallel (same process, in fact), high energy inputs allow for large structures, but when they decrease, it’s a contraction phase in which boundaries tend to tighten and become less permeable, everything shrinks.
              This happens at all levels simultaneously. Rise of protectionism is but one of the symptoms.

              Many issues come from the fact that people didn’t realize (yet) that we have already switched from expansion to contraction. Old recipees become totally ineffective, or even worsen the situation.

            • Good points!

            • Stefeun says:

              I forgot my first intention. My comment above was triggered by the fact you talked about rationality for genes.

              I doubt “rationality” is the proper term, but I concede this “contraction syndrome” may happen also at different levels of organization (society, groups, individuals, genes). I mean, under stress, the upper levels go away first.

            • richardA says:

              @hkeithhenson – the bit about falling GDP per capita in the stone age – I’m interested?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “I’m interested?”

              War as population control

              Or what happened to the young women.

              Regardless of how you or I feel about war, it accomplishes the goal of getting the population back in line with the resources. At least it did back in the Stone Age. Today wars can destroy the
              infrastructure that allows large populations to exist.

              Put a population under stress and you will get similar behavior, often using religious memes to justify the behavior. Many examples, especially if you count communism as a religion or in the same memetic class.

              The main concerns of humans have always been trying to raise their families, that is, have children and live long enough to see them having their own families and children. However, raising families successfully usually resulted in population growth. On a relatively constant resource base, this eventually resulted in the population exceeding the capacity of the resource base to provide for them. So eventually, this utterly reasonable behavior sowed the seeds of a resource crisis and humans are (I claim) wired up to respond to a resource crisis by going to
              war. In the Stone Age, war was always effective in getting the population back in line with the resources, so people could go back to the business of raising children and set up the conditions for war again. (Where have all the flowers gone? Sigh.)

              All behavior, human and otherwise, is in the service of the genes. Darwin made the case for physical characteristics. Over the last 25 years Darwin’s work been extended to behavior. It’s rather obvious that ducks that fly the wrong way are not going to leave many offspring.

              If you run through the math, there are conditions where war is the better choice for genes. If it were not, our traits for war would never have evolved. (Obviously.)

              Simple model, drought situation where half of two bands will die of starvation, or they can fight. All the loser adults are killed*. For similar sized bands, consider the winner random. For the
              adults, there is no advantage to going to war. However, the human propensity to take the young women of the losers as wives or extra wives limits the downside from the gene’s viewpoint. Thus, war is better, _substantially_ better, for genes than the alternative in some circumstances. This leads to several depressing consequences due to individuals and their genes being in conflict.

              Fighting, when there is no need to fight, is (from the gene’s viewpoint) highly punishing, i.e., human genes for behaviors have been selected to fight under some conditions and selected not to fight under other conditions. Moreover, because the consequences are so dire, the mechanism
              to detect when it is to the gene’s advantage to fight has also been under intense selection.

              It is not a pretty picture connecting peacefully raising children with wars. Unfortunately, that’s the way of nature.

              This model does let us predict that China will not start wars as long as their income per capita prospects are looking good. That doesn’t mean they will not fight a war because they can be attacked.

              There are lots of other obvious consequences for this model and we could calibrate it from historical events.

              How does getting yourself killed help the reproductive success of your genes? It depends on the alternatives. And you absolutely must understand inclusive fitness for the rest of this to make any


              “Thus a gene causing altruistic behavior towards brothers and sisters will be selected only if the behavior and the circumstances are generally such that the gain is more than twice the loss; for half-brothers it must be more than four times the loss; and so on. To put the matter more vividly, an animal acting on this principle would sacrifice its life if it could thereby save more than two brothers, but not for less. Some similar illustrations were given by Haldane (1955).”


              My view of religions is that they are xenophobic memes. The human trait to host and be influence by these memes is a variable depending on the economic outlook. It is modulated up when the economic outlook is bleak (effectively a behavioral switch when the gain in a group goes over one). Today it would be measured in income per capita, in the stone age it was the ability of the
              ecosystem (game and berries) to feed the population.

              In the Stone Age such memes synchronized a tribe’s warriors for an attempt to kill neighbors for resources. What we need to show is that going to war, for all its costs, is an evolutionary stable
              strategy (EES) in some recurring situations.

              Of course “war” can range from raids that kill a few of the other tribe (and perhaps steal some of their women) to total defeat such as is described the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31

              Simple model assumptions. Humans trip into war mode (after a delay for xenophobic memes to build up) at some subjective probability that hard times a-coming will starve them. This ranges from zero of them dying (being wrong) to the whole tribe starving. Just to put a number on it, say the average event will cost the tribe half its members (and gene copies) if they do nothing. This is the case we have to beat by going to war.

              For the model I am going to say that on average the men who went off to a stone age war had 6 children (since that’s about the number needed for a couple to raise two to adulthood in hunter gatherer societies) and one brother plus enough cousins to make up the equal of another brother (sisters were traded away for unrelated wives). That’s 8×1/2 (Hamilton’s relatedness factor).

              The cost of raids is relatively low, but so are the rewards. The gene selection model will assume the extreme (once in a lifetime) case–which probably caused most of the selection. For this simple model we will say that a tribe that goes to war loses none of the men’s genes if it wins and all of the men’s genes if it loses, plus the genes of all the male children but none of the female children who are taken as booty. The additional resources captured removes the threat of starvation for the winners even though they incorporate the losing tribe’s young females.

              Genes of winners come out as 4, losers at 1.5 (three female children x 1/2). Since the chance of winning is 50%, you average the numbers, giving 2.75. That’s the average gene survival for making a choice to go to war with a 50% chance of winning.

              Genes numbers for not going to war at a 50% starvation rate come out at 2.

              2.75/2 is 1.375, a 37% advantage. In per generation evolutionary terms that’s a *big* number (intense selection). Of course, going to war when the tribe didn’t face starvation was 4/2.75 or a
              disadvantage of about 45% so the selection is even stronger for not going to war when you didn’t see bad times a-coming. The mental detector for making an accurate forecast was also under intense selection since the genetic consequences of making a wrong decision were so serious.

              The model indicates that a positive future outlook, i.e., good economic prospects for you and your children will turn off the switch to pass around and be strongly influenced by religious (xenophobic) memes. The current world situation, especially the energy situation, leads me to predict that religions (and wars or related social disruptions) will be a major problem in the coming decades unless we solve the energy problem. Of course since the detector is tripped on per capita, low or negative population growth helps a great deal. To keep humans out of going to war, the change in income/population must be positive or at least not negative for all segments of the population.

              [This is somewhat draft because it is so unpleasant to think about that I am reluctant to finish and publish it. ]

              Book of Numbers, from The Holy Bible, King James version Chapter 31

              7: They warred against Mid’ian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male.

              8: They slew the kings of Mid’ian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Mid’ian; and they also slew Balaam the son of Be’or with the sword.

              9: And the people of Israel took captive the women of Mid’ian and their little ones; and they took as booty all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods.

              10: All their cities in the places where they dwelt, and all their encampments, they burned with fire,

              11: and took all the spoil and all the booty, both of man and of beast.

              12: Then they brought the captives and the booty and the spoil to Moses, and to Elea’zar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

              13: Moses, and Elea’zar the priest, and all the leaders of the congregation, went forth to meet them outside the camp.

              14: And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come from service in the war.

              15: Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live?

              16: Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Pe’or, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.

              17: Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.

              18: But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

            • Interesting! The direness of the situation is one of the reasons I have not worked very hard on putting my findings into book form. People can figure out what we are up against, but not as easily as in book form.

            • This did happen in the stone age, as population rose in an area, and the amount of food that could be gathered did not. Larger sized hunter-gatherer tribes had an advantage, because they could specialize more, and because of this gain an advantage over smaller H-G tribes. Eventually, “population push” seems to have led to the need for agriculture. All of these changes are examples of greater complexity being added. Some folks I know at the Univ. of New Mexico did research on this issue.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “as population rose in an area, and the amount of food that could be gathered did not”

              For a given group, the area was limited by how far the people could walk to collect food or hunt.

              “Larger sized hunter-gatherer tribes had an advantage”

              For a given area and its associated productivity, there was a limit on how big a tribe could grow before the hassle of collecting food forced it to split. This was countered by the advantage of having a more warrior age men for both attacking and defending. This may explain the widespread female infanticide we see among various cultures.

              “led to the need for agriculture.”

              How humans got into agriculture is still a mystery, but they did it several times around the world.

              “Some folks I know at the Univ. of New Mexico”

              Would that include ?

              It’s also worth keeping in mind that the ecological productivity of an area varies from year to year, from plenty to eat to starvation.

            • My statement regarding larger sized tribes assumed that tribes with greater population would be able to dominate bigger areas.

              See for example

              This is based on

              James H. Brown, now retired from the University of New Mexico, is one of the authors of the paper cited. Brown was (and probably very much still is) associated with the “Santa Fe Institute.”

              This is a working paper I ran across on a Google Search. It is not directly related, but shows the types of research used.

              There is recent research on population growth being a problem for hunter gatherers. For example, see

              Agriculture clearly provides a higher carrying capacity, so this is a likely reason for the adoption of agriculture in many areas.

            • Stefeun says:

              I read only the SA blog so far. From the article:

              Fig. 1 Hunter-gatherer home ranges scale to the three-fourths power. Above are representations of three populations and the size of their home range according to this relationship.

              Exponent 0,75 made me think of the Kleiber’s law, “named after Max Kleiber’s biological work in the early 1930s, is the observation that, for the vast majority of animals, an animal’s metabolic rate scales to the ¾ power of the animal’s mass.

              It means that a population would behave as a single organism, the mass being represented by the number of individuals, and the metabolism by the surface that provides the food energy input.
              Afaik, we don’t know exactly why this exponent is 3/4, but it’s quite stunning to find it here again.

            • Thanks for the observation. All of these things are very strange. I will make note of this connection–it is important.

              We think we have more control over how our economy works than we really do. The flows of energy have more control over earth’s systems than we understand that they do.

            • DJ says: