2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

Some people would argue that 2016 was the year that the world economy started to come apart, with the passage of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whether or not the “coming apart” process started in 2016, in my opinion we are going to see many more steps in this direction in 2017. Let me explain a few of the things I see.

[1] Many economies have collapsed in the past. The world economy is very close to the turning point where collapse starts in earnest.  

Figure 1

Figure 1

The history of previous civilizations rising and eventually collapsing is well documented.(See, for example, Secular Cycles.)

To start a new cycle, a group of people would find a new way of doing things that allowed more food and energy production (for instance, they might add irrigation, or cut down trees for more land for agriculture). For a while, the economy would expand, but eventually a mismatch would arise between resources and population. Either resources would fall too low (perhaps because of erosion or salt deposits in the soil), or population would rise too high relative to resources, or both.

Even as resources per capita began falling, economies would continue to have overhead expenses, such as the need to pay high-level officials and to fund armies. These overhead costs could not easily be reduced, and might, in fact, grow as the government attempted to work around problems. Collapse occurred because, as resources per capita fell (for example, farms shrank in size), the earnings of workers tended to fall. At the same time, the need for taxes to cover what I am calling overhead expenses tended to grow. Tax rates became too high for workers to earn an adequate living, net of taxes. In some cases, workers succumbed to epidemics because of poor diets. Or governments would collapse, from lack of adequate tax revenue to support them.

Our current economy seems to be following a similar pattern. We first used fossil fuels to allow the population to expand, starting about 1800. Things went fairly well until the 1970s, when oil prices started to spike. Several workarounds (globalization, lower interest rates, and more use of debt) allowed the economy to continue to grow. The period since 1970 might be considered a period of “stagflation.” Now the world economy is growing especially slowly. At the same time, we find ourselves with “overhead” that continues to grow (for example, payments to retirees, and repayment of debt with interest). The pattern of past civilizations suggests that our civilization could also collapse.

Historically, economies have taken many years to collapse; I show a range of 20 to 50 years in Figure 1. We really don’t know if collapse would take that long now. Today, we are dependent on an international financial system, an international trade system, electricity, and the availability of oil to make our vehicles operate. It would seem as if this time collapse could come much more quickly.

With the world economy this close to collapse, some individual countries are even closer to collapse. This is why we can expect to see sharp downturns in the fortunes of some countries. If contagion is not too much of a problem, other countries may continue to do fairly well, even as individual small countries fail.

[2] Figures to be released in 2017 and future years are likely to show that the peak in world coal consumption occurred in 2014. This is important, because it means that countries that depend heavily on coal, such as China and India, can expect to see much slower economic growth, and more financial difficulties.

While reports of international coal production for 2016 are not yet available, news articles and individual country data strongly suggest that world coal production is past its peak. The IEA also reports a substantial drop in coal production for 2016.

Figure 2. World coal consumption. Information through 2015 based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data. Estimates for China, US, and India are based on partial year data and news reports. 2016 amount for "other" estimated based on recent trends.

Figure 2. World coal consumption. Information through 2015 based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data. Estimates for China, US, and India are based on partial year data and news reports. 2016 amount for “other” estimated based on recent trends.

The reason why coal production is dropping is because of low prices, low profitability for producers, and gluts indicating oversupply. Also, comparisons of coal prices with natural gas prices are inducing switching from coal to natural gas. The problem, as we will see later, is that natural gas prices are also artificially low, compared to the cost of production, So the switch is being made to a different type of fossil fuel, also with an unsustainably low price.

Prices for coal in China have recently risen again, thanks to the closing of a large number of unprofitable coal mines, and a mandatory reduction in hours for other coal mines. Even though prices have risen, production may not rise to match the new prices. One article reports:

. . . coal companies are reportedly reluctant to increase output as a majority of the country’s mines are still losing money and it will take time to recoup losses incurred in recent years.

Also, a person can imagine that it might be difficult to obtain financing, if coal prices have only “sort of” recovered.

I wrote last year about the possibility that coal production was peaking. This is one chart I showed, with data through 2015. Coal is the second most utilized fuel in the world. If its production begins declining, it will be difficult to offset the loss of its use with increased use of other types of fuels.

Figure 3. World per capita energy consumption by fuel, based on BP 2016 SRWE.

Figure 3. World per capita energy consumption by fuel, based on BP 2016 SRWE.

[3] If we assume that coal supplies will continue to shrink, and other production will grow moderately, we can expect total energy consumption to be approximately flat in 2017. 

Figure 5. World energy consumption forecast, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data through 2015, and author's estimates for 2016 and 2017.

Figure 4. World energy consumption forecast, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data through 2015, and author’s estimates for 2016 and 2017.

In a way, this is an optimistic assessment, because we know that efforts are underway to reduce oil production, in order to prop up prices. We are, in effect, assuming either that (a) oil prices won’t really rise, so that oil consumption will grow at a rate similar to that in the recent past or (b) while oil prices will rise significantly to help producers, consumers won’t cut back on their consumption in response to the higher prices.

[4] Because world population is rising, the forecast in Figure 4 suggests that per capita energy consumption is likely to shrink. Shrinking energy consumption per capita puts the world (or individual countries in the world) at the risk of recession.

Figure 5 shows indicated per capita energy consumption, based on Figure 4. It is clear that energy consumption per capita has already started shrinking, and is expected to shrink further. The last time that happened was in the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Figure 5. World energy consumption per capita based on energy consumption estimates in Figure 4 and UN 2015 Medium Population Growth Forecast.

Figure 5. World energy consumption per capita based on energy consumption estimates in Figure 4 and UN 2015 Medium Population Growth Forecast.

There tends to be a strong correlation between world economic growth and world energy consumption, because energy is required to transform materials into new forms, and to transport goods from one place to another.

In the recent past, the growth in GDP has tended to be a little higher than the growth in the use of energy products. One reason why GDP growth has been a percentage point or two higher than energy consumption growth is because, as economies become richer, citizens can afford to add more services to the mix of goods and services that they purchase (fancier hair cuts and more piano lessons, for example). Production of services tends to use proportionately less energy than creating goods does; as a result, a shift toward a heavier mix of services tends to lead to GDP growth rates that are somewhat higher than the growth in energy consumption.

A second reason why GDP growth has tended to be a little higher than growth in energy consumption is because devices (such as cars, trucks, air conditioners, furnaces, factory machinery) are becoming more efficient. Growth in efficiency occurs if consumers replace old inefficient devices with new more efficient devices. If consumers become less wealthy, they are likely to replace devices less frequently, leading to slower growth in efficiency. Also, as we will discuss later in this  post, recently there has been a tendency for fossil fuel prices to remain artificially low. With low prices, there is little financial incentive to replace an old inefficient device with a new, more efficient device. As a result, new purchases may be bigger, offsetting the benefit of efficiency gains (purchasing an SUV to replace a car, for example).

Thus, we cannot expect that the past pattern of GDP growing a little faster than energy consumption will continue. In fact, it is even possible that the leveraging effect will start working the “wrong” way, as low fossil fuel prices induce more fuel use, not less. Perhaps the safest assumption we can make is that GDP growth and energy consumption growth will be equal. In other words, if world energy consumption growth is 0% (as in Figure 4), world GDP growth will also be 0%. This is not something that world leaders would like at all.

The situation we are encountering today seems to be very similar to the falling resources per capita problem that seemed to push early economies toward collapse in [1]. Figure 5 above suggests that, on average, the paychecks of workers in 2017 will tend to purchase fewer goods and services than they did in 2016 and 2015. If governments need higher taxes to fund rising retiree costs and rising subsidies for “renewables,” the loss in the after-tax purchasing power of workers will be even greater than Figure 5 suggests.

[5] Because many countries are in this precarious position of falling resources per capita, we should expect to see a rise in protectionism, and the addition of new tariffs.

Clearly, governments do not want the problem of falling wages (or rather, falling goods that wages can buy) impacting their countries. So the new game becomes, “Push the problem elsewhere.”

In economic language, the world economy is becoming a “Zero-sum” game. Any gain in the production of goods and services by one country is a loss to another country. Thus, it is in each country’s interest to look out for itself. This is a major change from the shift toward globalization we have experienced in recent years. China, as a major exporter of goods, can expect to be especially affected by this changing view.

[6] China can no longer be expected to pull the world economy forward.

China’s economic growth rate is likely to be lower, for many reasons. One reason is the financial problems of coal mines, and the tendency of coal production to continue to shrink, once it starts shrinking. This happens for many reasons, one of them being the difficulty in obtaining loans for expansion, when prices still seem to be somewhat low, and the outlook for the further increases does not appear to be very good.

Another reason why China’s economic growth rate can be expected to fall is the current overbuilt situation with respect to apartment buildings, shopping malls, factories, and coal mines. As a result, there seems to be little need for new buildings and operations of these types. Another reason for slower economic growth is the growing protectionist stance of trade partners. A fourth reason is the fact that many potential buyers of the goods that China is producing are not doing very well economically (with the US being a major exception). These buyers cannot afford to increase their purchases of imports from China.

With these growing headwinds, it is quite possible that China’s total energy consumption in 2017 will shrink. If this happens, there will be downward pressure on world fossil fuel prices. Oil prices may fall, despite production cuts by OPEC and other countries.

China’s slowing economic growth is likely to make its debt problem harder to solve. We should not be too surprised if debt defaults become a more significant problem, or if the yuan falls relative to other currencies.

India, with its recent recall of high denomination currency, as well as its problems with low coal demand, is not likely to be a great deal of help aiding the world economy to grow, either. India is also a much smaller economy than China.

[7] While Item [2] talked about peak coal, there is a very significant chance that we will be hitting peak oil and peak natural gas in 2017 or 2018, as well.  

If we look at historical prices, we see that the prices of oil, coal and natural gas tend to rise and fall together.

Figure 6. Prices of oil, call and natural gas tend to rise and fall together. Prices based on 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data.

Figure 6. Prices of oil, coal and natural gas tend to rise and fall together. Prices based on 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data.

The reason that fossil fuel prices tend to rise and fall together is because these prices are tied to “demand” for goods and services in general, such as for new homes, cars, and factories. If wages are rising rapidly, and debt is rising rapidly, it becomes easier for consumers to buy goods such as homes and cars. When this happens, there is more “demand” for the commodities used to make and operate homes and cars. Prices for commodities of many types, including fossil fuels, tend to rise, to enable more production of these items.

Of course, the reverse happens as well. If workers become poorer, or debt levels shrink, it becomes harder to buy homes and cars. In this case, commodity prices, including fossil fuel prices, tend to fall.  Thus, the problem we saw above in [2] for coal would be likely to happen for oil and natural gas, as well, because the prices of all of the fossil fuels tend to move together. In fact, we know that current oil prices are too low for oil producers. This is the reason why OPEC and other oil producers have cut back on production. Thus, the problem with overproduction for oil seems to be similar to the overproduction problem for coal, just a bit delayed in timing.

In fact, we also know that US natural gas prices have been very low for several years, suggesting another similar problem. The United States is the single largest producer of natural gas in the world. Its natural gas production hit a peak in mid 2015, and production has since begun to decline. The decline comes as a response to chronically low prices, which make it unprofitable to extract natural gas. This response sounds similar to China’s attempted solution to low coal prices.

Figure 7. US Natural Gas production based on EIA data.

Figure 7. US Natural Gas production based on EIA data.

The problem is fundamentally the fact that consumers cannot afford goods made using fossil fuels of any type, if prices actually rise to the level producers need, which tends to be at least five times the 1999 price level. (Note peak price levels compared to 1999 level on Figure 6.) Wages have not risen by a factor of five since 1999, so paying the prices that fossil fuel producers need for profitability and growing production is out of the question. No amount of added debt can hide this problem. (While this reference is to 1999 prices, the issue really goes back much farther, to prices before the price spikes of the 1970s.)

US natural gas producers also have plans to export natural gas to Europe and elsewhere, as liquefied natural gas (LNG). The hope, of course, is that a large amount of exports will raise US natural gas prices. Also, the hope is that Europeans will be able to afford the high-priced natural gas shipped to them. Unless someone can raise the wages of both Europeans and Americans, I would not count on LNG prices actually rising to the level needed for profitability, and staying at such a high level. Instead, they are likely to bounce up, and quickly drop back again.

[8] Unless oil prices rise very substantially, oil exporters will find themselves exhausting their financial reserves in a very short time (perhaps a year or two). Unfortunately, oil importers cannot withstand higher prices, without going into recession. 

We have a no win situation, no matter what happens. This is true with all fossil fuels, but especially with oil, because of its high cost and thus necessarily high price. If oil prices stay at the same level or go down, oil exporters cannot get enough tax revenue, and oil companies in general cannot obtain enough funds to finance the development of new wells and payment of dividends to shareholders. If oil prices do rise by a very large amount for very long, we are likely headed into another major recession, with many debt defaults.

[9] US interest rates are likely to rise in the next year or two, whether or not this result is intended by the Federal reserve.

This issue here is somewhat obscure. The issue has to do with whether the United States can find foreign buyers for its debt, often called US Treasuries, and the interest rates that the US needs to pay on this debt. If buyers are very plentiful, the interest rates paid by he US government can be quite low; if few buyers are available, interest rates must be higher.

Back when Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters were doing well financially, they often bought US Treasuries, as a way to retain the benefit of their new-found wealth, which they did not want to spend immediately. Similarly, when China was doing well as an exporter, it often bought US Treasuries, as a way retaining the wealth it gained from exports, but didn’t yet need for purchases.

When these countries bought US Treasuries, there were several beneficial results:

  • Interest rates on US Treasuries tended to stay artificially low, because there was a ready market for its debt.
  • The US could afford to import high-priced oil, because the additional debt needed to buy the oil could easily be sold (to Saudi Arabia and other oil producing nations, no less).
  • The US dollar tended to stay lower relative to other currencies, making oil more affordable to other countries than it otherwise might be.
  • Investment in countries outside the US was encouraged, because debt issued by these other countries tended to bear higher interest rates than US debt. Also, relatively low oil prices in these countries (because of the low level of the dollar) tended to make investment profitable in these countries.

The effect of these changes was somewhat similar to the US having its own special Quantitative Easing (QE) program, paid for by some of the counties with trade surpluses, instead of by its central bank. This QE substitute tended to encourage world economic growth, for the reasons mentioned above.

Once the fortunes of the countries that used to buy US Treasuries changes, the pattern of buying of US Treasuries tends to change to selling of US Treasuries. Even not purchasing the same quantity of US Treasuries as in the past becomes an adverse change, if the US has a need to keep issuing US Treasuries as in the past, or if it wants to keep rates low.

Unfortunately, losing this QE substitute tends to reverse the favorable effects noted above. One effect is that the dollar tends to ride higher relative to other currencies, making the US look richer, and other countries poorer. The “catch” is that as the other countries become poorer, it becomes harder for them to repay the debt that they took out earlier, which was denominated in US dollars.

Another problem, as this strange type of QE disappears, is that the interest rates that the US government needs to pay in order to issue new debt start rising. These higher rates tend to affect other rates as well, such as mortgage rates. These higher interest rates act as a drag on the economy, tending to push it toward recession.

Higher interest rates also tend to decrease the value of assets, such as homes, farms, outstanding bonds, and shares of stock. This occurs because fewer buyers can afford to buy these goods, with the new higher interest rates. As a result, stock prices can be expected to fall. Prices of homes and of commercial buildings can also be expected to fall. The value of bonds held by insurance companies and banks becomes lower, if they choose to sell these securities before maturity.

Of course, as interest rates fell after 1981, we received the benefit of falling interest rates, in the form of rising asset prices. No one ever stopped to think about how much of the gains in share prices and property values came from falling interest rates.

Figure 8. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

Figure 8. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

Now, as interest rates rise, we can expect asset prices of many types to start falling, because of lower affordability when monthly payments are based on higher interest rates. This situation presents another “drag” on the economy.

In Conclusion

The situation is indeed very concerning. Many things could set off a crisis:

  • Rising energy prices of any kind (hurting energy importers), or energy prices that don’t rise (leading to financial problems or collapse of exporters)
  • Rising interest rates.
  • Defaulting debt, indirectly the result of slow/negative economic growth and rising interest rates.
  • International organizations with less and less influence, or that fall apart completely.
  • Fast changes in relativities of currencies, leading to defaults on derivatives.
  • Collapsing banks, as debt defaults rise.
  • Falling asset prices (homes, farms, commercial buildings, stocks and bonds) as interest rates rise, leading to many debt defaults.

Things don’t look too bad right now, but the underlying problems are sufficiently severe that we seem to be headed for a crisis far worse than 2008. The timing is not clear. Things could start falling apart badly in 2017, or alternatively, major problems may be delayed until 2018 or 2019. I hope political leaders can find ways to keep problems away as long as possible, perhaps with more rounds of QE. Our fundamental problem is the fact that neither high nor low energy prices are now able to keep the world economy operating as we would like it to operate. Increased debt can’t seem to fix the problem either.

The laws of physics seem to be behind economic growth. From a physics point of view, our economy is a dissipative structure. Such structures form in “open systems.” In such systems, flows of energy allow structures to temporarily self-organize and grow. Other examples of dissipative structures include ecosystems, all plants and animals, stars, and hurricanes. All of these structures constantly “dissipate” energy. They have finite life spans, before they eventually collapse. Often, new dissipative systems form, to replace previous ones that have collapsed.

The one thing that gives me hope is the fact that there seems to be some type of a guiding supernatural force behind the whole system that allows so much growth. Some would say that this supernatural force is “only” the laws of physics (and biology and chemistry). To me, the fact that so many structures can self-organize and grow is miraculous, and perhaps evidence of a guiding force behind the whole universe.

I don’t know precisely what is next, but it seems quite possible that there is a longer-term plan for humans that we are not aware of. Some of the religions of the world may have insights on what this plan might be. It is even possible that there may be divine intervention of some type that allows a change in the path that we seem to be on today.

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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1,607 Responses to 2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

  1. Rainydays says:

    I don’t believe in a sudden global BAU collapse, it will rather be a “stairway to hell” imo. I have some issues with the sudden collapse scenario.

    Financial. There hasn’t been any real growth for ages. So we will have fake growth. The debt numbers are going from million to billions to trillions to zillions, doesn’t matter how high this number is. Money is sort of infinite as long as people believe. There seems to be just too many wizards in the financial industry for this scheme to fail entirely. TBTF companies will be propped up as needed.

    Diminishing resources vs rising population. An increasing share of the population gets ever less resources. Eventually there will be enough starvation/sickness/pollution/war to turn population growth negative. There will be a correlation between affordable oil and population numbers here.

    I think this can drag on for quite some time, probably 20-50 years (as Gail has in her “secular cycle” graphic) until we get to a platou of either 0 humans or a few millions. Length and shape of the die off will depend heavily on how severe climate change will hit us and how well we can mitigate the nuclear waste problem.

    • DJ says:

      “Money is sort of infinite as long as people believe.”

      Do people really have to “believe”? Is not needing to spend money on a daily basis in order to survive enough? It is impossible to live without money.

      • Greg Machala says:

        “Is it possible to live without money” – Yes, if only a few have no money and others have plenty of money and give you stuff to survive. No, if the financial system collapses and no one has access to money.

        The problem comes in when you consider we are a global economy of massive scale (and leveraged a lot). Most of the world’s population depends on the industrial output of food, water and shelter. If money disappeared quickly, so to would industry. Then, shortly after that people would begin to die. Then billions would die and chaos would ensue before any replacement policy could be implemented to replace what money does.

    • ARBP says:

      I’m going to pipe in to repeat something that should be self-evident.
      “Slow collapse” or a “stairway to hell” is not collapse.
      “Slow collapse” or a “stairway to hell” is DECLINE.
      Decline is gradual enough that people can adapt to it.
      Detroit, Michigan is undergoing economic decline.
      Venezuela is undergoing economic collapse.

      Collapse is sudden. Fast. Quick.

      Collapse is sudden. Since most people here have never, ever lived through any sort of collapse whatsoever, they assume change will be gradual, and perhaps manageable.

      There’s also no such thing as a single collapse that ends everything but given how complex and interconnected and interdependent the various nation-states are in the world, collapse in one place could bring collapse in other places.

      • Speaking of the near-mid term outlook, meaning next ~3decades, the fracturing/dividing lines between the options of decline, phased collapse, straight collapse would come on many fronts, chiefly:

        – resiliency of the public and their subsistence both for urban-city nods and rural areas
        (potable water, food, health, animal husbandry, .. )

        – skills and resiliency of the govs structure for given geographic area
        (incl. performance of NOCs and other key industries to run or can kick a bit more, military, ..)

        Based on that, it’s not that impossible to estimate on a napkin scribbling fashion general odds where best to land and watch the spectacle to unravel.. By that I mean to even have a chance to contemplate briefly on the events unfolding, not to be swept immediately by chaos and death. Go figure..

        • ARBP says:

          No offense, but that was a whole lot of nonsense…
          especially the scribbling on the napkin part.

          Are you and Keith scribbling buddies? You two should get together and have scribbling sessions where you map out your plans of how to survive the oncoming extinction event.

          • What, wait a sec, historic patterns of collapses are now a nonsense over here? chill out, read it again.

            There is no word about “surviving oncoming extinction event” only hints how the trajectory and progression of collapse will likely differ as seen/experienced from quite diverse places of the globe, that’s it at least for the near-mid term window, which in my definition here roughly spans next 2-3decades from now, some might get flushed early 2020s others a bit later.

            I didn’t put any probabilities list out there, apart from that one trend seems looming now that jettisoning peripheries like Venezuela, Greece, perhaps now shaping up India case, .. won’t mean much from reaching certain deeper threshold. So, if there will be no meaningful plateau to be reached and sit on for several of the top dogs with their sheer consumption, the big guys will sooner or later most likely nuke out each other just on this premise not allowing the others the silly theoretical chance of rebound.

            And even that’s likely not the ultimate terminal bottle neck in terms of extinction level, since thermo nuclear armageddon still allows for at least some tiny fraction of current global population pass through short term, but I’m certainly not discussing or planning for that stage or even the preceding one.

            Seems, too much people frequenting here with no personal/family history of total war, revolution, expropriation, natural calamity swings. If the overall FW narrative is correct, this will drag on for decades at the minimum.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” not discussing or planning for that stage”

              I agree. Chances are not high that anything you can do now will appreciably affect your individual survival. There may be things we can do to keep civilization going, among them to tap solar energy out in space.

            • The “overall FW narrrative” or should we say ‘Gail’s essential message’ doesn’t seem to be much related to your ‘demographics, demographics, demographics’ fixation.

            • Demographics would not be a problem if people could/would work every day of their lives. The problem is that back when fossil fuels started becoming abundant was that we promised people “pensions” and “retirement.” These are unsustainable concepts, in a world without rapidly growing energy supplies.

          • Worldofhanumaotg is right. His observations, based upon human experience, is true.

          • Thomas Malthus says:

            Idiocracy is alive and well here on FW.

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        I believe in Santa Claus … and the Tooth Fairy …. I believe that the oil is replenished by muchkins who turn a crank on an oil making machine in the centre of the earth …. i believe that man can live on Mars….. I believe that solar and wind power can keep BAU roaring …. I believe that Elon Musk is amazing and that Tesla is a game changer… I believe that Donald Trump will make america great again

        To be consistent — I must also believe that collapse cannot happen …. that we can have no growth yet continue to operate BAU Lite …. that the graph is a gentle slope to zero.

        If I believed all of the above — what would that make me?

    • Tango Oscar says:

      After trillions it’s quadrillions.

    • Thomas Malthus says:

      ‘There hasn’t been any real growth for ages’

      Define real growth.

      Are you saying that there has been no job growth for decades?

      Are you saying there has been no growth in commodity consumption for decades?

      Are you saying there has been on growth in the consumption of energy for decades?

      Are you saying the growth we have seen is fake? If so – please explain.

      • DJ says:

        I believe the blog owner repeatedly says there has been no real wage growth in decades for the 90 %.

        If that is true there should not have been growth in jobs, commodity usage or energy, for the 90 %, in US and EU.

        • Thomas Malthus says:

          Growth means GDP growth — not wage growth. Wage growth for most of the world has not budged for decades —- check out the third world — most people wold be happy to just find a job making enough money to buy a bit of rice and a few scraps of rat meat.

          Nothing new here.

          GDP has been increasing — if it were not increasing then we would have collapsed by now.

          Debt has always been the catalyst for economic growth — the only difference now is the scale of the debt required to create economic growht

          The global economy either grows — or it dies.

          You will quickly know when growth has stopped — soon after you will lose your job … your pension … your food supply…. your electricity feed…. and finally your life.

  2. Kurt says:

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  3. dolph says:

    Despite the political breakdown, you have to remember North America is still the best place to be during this collapse.
    It has a large amount of habitable land, resources, it is protected by the oceans from world calamities, and is powerful financially and geopolitically, with the world reserve currency and a global military.
    This is what gives people in America their naive, optimistic character. They simply don’t know any better. Of course, this will change, but the rest of the world will be worse.

    Mind you, in no way does this mean I’m optimistic on America. If anything, I have been consistently more pessimistic than those here.

    • Volvo740 says:

      Yes and no. In Sweden if everything gives up on you, you may still survive and someone could find you some place to stay. At least it used to be that way. In the future, who knows.

    • common phenomenon says:

      Maybe you should take a cue from your name, dolph, and move to Germany, to take leadership of those fierce, warlike Germans – those Teutonic Knights, those pure Aryans:


      Who was it said that opulence eventually leads to decadence? 🙂

  4. psile says:

    One for you FE…

    Caterpillar Posts Record 49 Consecutive Months Of Declining Retail Sales

    “But it is on a global blended basis, where the headwinds facing CAT refuse to go away, and after the latest, December, decline in retail sales of -12%, we find that the company has not reported a single monthly uptick in sales for record 49 consecutive months, or just over 4 straight years, a period which is now 2.5x longer than the far more acute 19 month drop observed during the post-financial crisis period.”

    • This is quite a record! A lot of companies would have folded, or sold themselves out to someone bigger, by this time.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Wonder what their actual sales numbers are right now vs where they were in 2000-2008? Who would buy CAT? You could say the same of shipping companies too. Who would buy them out? If growth is over, it makes no sense to buy any of these insolvent companies.

        • Stilgar Wilcox says:

          All that graph does is compare retail sales for different time periods. Even though the graph shows retail sales below the average, they may still be high enough to make a profit and one might easily conclude that because how else does CAT remain viable unless there is sufficient revenue? This is a perfect example of how graphs can be misleading.

        • Volvo740 says:

          Stock market is at all time high! Maybe it will double from here while the bottom falls out of the economy?

        • Thomas Malthus says:


          I would imagine CAT has been designated a too big to fail company — the Fed will keep it alive…

          Or perhaps Donald will pour trillions into upgrading US infrastructure …. which would bail CAT out.

      • doomphd says:

        I wonder…can you keep a business going by selling spare parts when those big machines break? Usually, the spares cost a lot more than the original parts. Then there’s on-site service, too. CATs are major investments and don’t rely upon fashion changes to sell new products. I would guess companies would want to keep existing inventories working, that against all the wear and tear of construction work.

        It makes sense that eventually, with no further growth on a finite planet, their business model would fail, and a good thing in the sense that their products are used to terraform the planet and devour the ecosystem.

  5. adonis says:

    Happy Austalia Day my fellow finite worlders

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      Were people hardier then? Absolutely. Just look how people responded to Katrina, falling down from exhaustion, passing out, heart palpatations, heart attacks etc. That same Russian family caught up in Katrina would walk through the floodwaters and probably not even complain.

      • that russian family story was interesting

        but its important to remember that they, and others link them were living under conditions we would see as harsh privation before—so they were only moving gradually into someting slightly harshe on their terms

        so on that basis i dont think you can compare them to our current survival situayion

    • i1 says:

      She hates the city. Pure human.

    • Yorchichan says:

      “people were much hardier then.”

      A couple of weeks ago I got my car stuck in a muddy field at a caravan site. After a few minutes looking around for something to put under the wheels, I decided it was too cold (around 2C) and my feet were soaked so I decided it was better to wait an hour in the car for the field owner to come pull me out with his tractor.

      Contrast that with this guy who survived 52 hours down a well at -20C.

      Who is more likely to survive collapse? There are some tough people still around, but pampered westerners such as myself are not included.

  6. Rodster says:

    I think i’ve found Fast Eddy! He’s really John Michael Greer in disguise. 🙂

    Here’s what he wrote in his latest post:

    “This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like. It’s not about sitting in a cozy earth-sheltered home under a roof loaded with solar panels, living some close approximation of a modern industrial lifestyle, while the rest of the world slides meekly down the chute toward history’s compost bin, leaving you and yours untouched. It’s about political chaos—meaning that you won’t get the leaders you want, and you may not be able to count on the rule of law or even the most basic civil liberties. It’s about economic implosion—meaning that your salary will probably go away, your savings almost certainly won’t keep its value, and if you have gold bars hidden in your home, you’d better hope to Hannah that nobody ever finds out, or it’ll be a race between the local government and the local bandits to see which one gets to tie your family up and torture them to death, starting with the children, until somebody breaks and tells them where your stash is located.

    It’s about environmental chaos—meaning that you and the people you care about may have many hungry days ahead as crazy weather messes with the harvests, and it’s by no means certain you won’t die early from some tropical microbe that’s been jarred loose from its native habitat to find a new and tasty home in you.”


    • Maybe JMG has been reading OFW.

      • FE isnt old enough to have grown a beard that long

        though it would explain his absence over Christmas

      • Rodster says:

        His latest post sounds more like an Easter Island scenario although if you read the whole thing he kinda says it doesn’t mean the end for humans but it’s an ugly, ugly scenario and deviates from his previous writings that we would be looking at a gradual collapse (slow burn scenario) and more towards Fast Eddy’s world.

        • Rodster says:

          What I meant to say was he’s gone from a semi optimist view that eventually we’ll work things out to a more dire tone which gives us a Mad Max world.

    • Does anyone else pick up on the contradictions uses to justify his ‘staircase collapse’ view? (He regards ‘fast collapse’ as the fetish of an ideologically aberrant doomerism)

      The way he has to tie himself in knots to defend this view can be seen in this recent post:

      rule of law disappears YET local government remains

      bandits will steal everything of value YET somehow you are still feeding yourself

      the diseases that ‘might’ kill you are exotic microbes YET it’s more likely that dysentery, cholera and severe malnutrition will accompany an ‘economic implosion’

      everything associated with civil society will disappear YET if you read his hopes for the near future civil societies created on state secessions will persist.

      I’ve taken a few cheap shots at someone i consider to be an accomplished counter-culturalist but his erudite musings on what’s wrong with modernity do not necessarily give him authority on collapse scenarios.


      • Pintada says:

        I couldn’t agree more. The echo chamber that he has created through draconic site administration let him get away with deluding himself. Hopefully, the latest post indicates that he has begun to rethink his unreasonable ideas.

      • Artleads says:

        Great points. Thank you.

      • doomphd says:

        i’ve often used the summary word “blowhard” to describe the writings of JMG. he does have a nice beard. there, i said something positive about him.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          I agree.
          The Druid thing is embarrassing.
          He is a talented writer, but science is not his education, writing is.

      • Generally I agree, and not trying to defend JMG here, lets acknowledge that “collapses” as unfolding processes with their bubbling social, economic, historic plains, which are complex issues, so often times you can have one set of emerging trends and other set of dying trends rolling together, both cohabiting the same time space.

        I guess some years ago I re-posted here the ~historical accounts from the Western Roman end days (actually more like span of decades). It was full of rather anecdotal stories, even like good one “invading hoards” no longer pillaging around, but more interested in grouping along with the old roman apparatus remnants to setup some basic law and order at specific geographic(nodes) space, hence origins of proto – feudal order etc.

        As often mentioned at OFW, due to the energy leverage of our time, we can assume some(most) collapse processes will take shape of expedient action globally. But obviously, that’s another dogmatic position in itself, we have to leave some (tiny?) space allowing for regional condition adaptations, of what longevity and substance that’s another matter.

        So, it’s not that simple to proclaim “end of debate – staircase position” is invalid, because I simply said so – believe so, or because I limited the debate into a specific sandbox and conditions.

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        Stupidity on an epic scale…. plenty of that on display from about 5 regular ‘contributors’ to Finite World as well. Without naming names.

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        I stopped reading him years ago…at first when you’re discovering about the mess we are in, you like what he has to say…but then as you go deeper into the rabbit hole, and you read Norman’s book, follow this site, read David Korowicz Trade-Off and so on….you realize his stupid catabolic collapse scenario is…stupid…add to that his know-it-all attitude (very annoying) you just stop following JMG and his little delusional commenters who have quit their jobs and are trying to live off the land (his “collapse now and avoid the rush”)

        • Thomas Malthus says:

          There are a number of people on FW who subscribe to the theory that there will be no sudden collapse… that there will just be a gentle slope downwards ending in a global ‘Scott Nearing’ like scenario.

          Yes I agree — it makes no sense.

          There is no point in reading any of the other doomsday blogs — the authors either do not get it — or they get it — and but they feel the need to create a happy ending so as to increase readership — and sell something.

          • jeremy890 says:

            Not naming names?…..Fast Eddy seems you or. whatever name you hide with didn’t last too long away…too bad…that challenge of yours didn’t last too long…maybe you went on one of your bucket list trips….because you won’t last too long with that 20 foot container…
            LOL…Just Saying…

            • Jeremy, about FE/TM/.. yes it’s always a bit rich when someone daily preaching consistency of thought in the realm of collapsnik studies/FW issues is demonstrably acting as a child on a public forum.

              The only possible thing to his credit is the revealing of the supposedly true personal story, how one prematurely acting doomer relocated to NZ, where he suddenly realized it’s all badly timed and futile prep anyway. We should be honest with ourselves, namely for example in my case I fell into the “second gen” resource/PO doomerism roughly emerging since the late 1990s again (first being the Limits to Growths folks), the restated message of the late 1990s was clearly very much not correct analysis for the western world by decades. From that time we learned much about system dynamics, inertia, demographics, triage and so on..

              The historical record is clear the collapse is not spatially uniform process, that being said, there seems to be little advantage in remaining, positioning in one of the likely pockets of slower variety (delayed phases) of collapse by the means of forcing-pushing it beyond already set conditions (nationality, race, real skillz background, ..). For instance, how many generational NYorkers or suburbanites would fit as replants on the Russian countryside let say around 2025-40, most likely it would be good opportunity only for few outliers out of sheer millions.

              Understandably there will be pockets of stretching it for some time on lower complexity around the globe, even such pockets emerging deep inside North America. One just has to come to realistic terms of the possible continuum of such change, for some ~15-17th century like conditions in many respects might be seen as god send positive outcome to rest and sort of plateauing on for some time, for others and today’s majority this would present not appealing hell on the earth to begin with.

            • jeremy890 says:

              World…as far as FE is concerned, it ain’t about what you posted at all…just ATTITUDE!
              Capisce…what goes around, comes around. FE has a little following here that is entertained by it…putz.👐

            • Yap… Yap….Yap

              Anyone reminded of one of those little jumped up dogs that does nothing but nip at your ankles?

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              A mentally retarded jumped up dog….. crossed with an exceptionally stupid donkey….

            • jeremy890 says:

              Keeps things moving along…NEXT

          • psile says:

            There are a number of people on FW who subscribe to the theory that there will be no sudden collapse… that there will just be a gentle slope downwards ending in a global ‘Scott Nearing’ like scenario.

            That would be a dream come true for my kids…

  7. Thomas Malthus says:

    Peaks Cheap Safe Water

    The poisoned places on this map stretch from Warren, Pennsylvania, a town on the Allegheny River where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels, to a zip code on Goat Island, Texas, where a quarter of tests showed poisoning. In some pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 40 to 50 percent.

    Like Flint, many of these localities are plagued by legacy lead: crumbling paint, plumbing, or industrial waste left behind. Unlike Flint, many have received little attention or funding to combat poisoning.

    To identify these locations, Reuters examined neighborhood-level blood testing results, most of which have not been previously disclosed. The data, obtained from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tracks poisoning rates among children tested in each location.

    A variety of pressures ranging from climate change, to sanitation and water quality, to infrastructure upgrades, are placing increasing strain on water prices. Estimates of the cost to replace aging infrastructure in the United States alone project over $1 trillion dollars are needed in the next 25 years to replace systems built circa World War II, which could triple the cost of household water bills…

    Over the next few decades, water prices are anticipated to increase to four times current levels. Prices could go higher if cities look to private providers for water services, who have a tendency to charge higher rates than public providers. These pressures on water systems, combined with the fact that water is a vital necessity to sustain life, place this issue at the forefront of 21st century infrastructure challenges. While studies have found that Americans are willing to pay more to maintain and ensure access to water resources, this willingness to pay may conflict with their fundamental ability to pay for water.



    Poor people cannot afford purified bottled water …. which means they end up with lower IQs from drinking lead…. ensuring they remain poor.

    Overheard at a high flying dinner party in Manhattan …. ‘quelle problem? I see no problem. Let them drink lead’


      This is a little curious for a Monsanto lover.

      Have you had a change of heart?

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        Not at all. Whatever it takes to feed 7.5 billion people we must do. Grow or collapse and die.

        I prefer to take my collapse later — and in the meantime as a good mate of mine put it ‘Whole Foods has got this problem covered for me’ — essentially too bad for those who have to eat this shit — I don’t

        As for the poisoned water — the point I am making is that the end of cheap energy is not the only problem we are facing —- who knows — perhaps continued drought in California triggers global collapse….

        The system is ultra fragile — a puff of wind from any direction could topple BAU over the cliff….

    • Greg Machala says:

      “When you have close to 1.2 million miles of lead pipes for water delivery in America — pipes that only have a lifespan of about 75 years and many are reaching that age — you have a recipe for disaster that experts warn will cost close to $1 trillion to fix.” – This is insane. You can never “fix” the problem. In 75 years all the pipes will need replacing yet again. What a mess technology has gotten us in to. It was good at first when technology was making our lives easier. Now, we are working harder and harder to maintain the technology. We seem to be shifting into reverse.

      • doomphd says:

        Red (lead) Queen Effect. You just have to stop those hungry getto kids from eating the old leaded paint chips. As for lead plumbing, I’m not so sure it’s all that harmful. Most of the leaded pipes were and are used for the drains, not for the water feeds. Those are usually made of copper or steel alloy. Copper usually lasts much longer than steel. Lead is like almost forever. BTW, copper is also toxic at high concentrations. It’s used as a marine anitfoulant.

        The richer Romans ate off leaded plates and drank acidic wine from leaded gobbets. Archeologists have noted the rise and fall of Roman lead posioning by analyzing the lead in their bones. Some have suggested that this poisoning may have contributed to the fall of the empire, as the leader class became lower in IQ over time.

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        Apparently Donald is going to replace all these trillions of dollars of infrastructure that were built when energy was cheap….

    • They should remain poor. It is the way which was intended.

      The Great War killed too many valuable people and replaced them with American cornhuskers, which led the world to this direction.

      Norman Borlaug, son of Danish immigrants in Iowa, would have continued farming maize instead of becoming a scholar if the Great War ended in 1915.

  8. InAlaska says:

    Here is a very recent article in the “New Yorker” entitled, “Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich.” Lots about missile silos turned into condos and hedge fund managers buying farms in New Zealand. The wealthy, educated elite of America are starting to figure out that things are not going so well. Here’s the link: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich

    • The New Zealand reaction is that these rich nobs are sneakily buying their way into paradise and that we should start marketing ourselves that way to goose certain property markets.



      Of course N.Z ‘s ability to ride out systemic collapse is exaggerated BUT with 650 kilograms of meat person currently sitting on four legs, 80% electricity from hydropower and oil reserves available for domestic consumption there is some potential to battle on through the first year or two of depression. I’m especially happy with my choice of location as it is a city used to hardship and relies on a good store of artesian water that doesn’t need treatment before distribution.

      • Note: I do recognise the potential for absolute chaos and the end of global supply chains yada yada …

        • Thomas Malthus says:

          I was speaking to a friend the other day … he was in banking for years and converted to tech entrepreneur ….

          I am sure he thought of me as chicken little when I warned that collapse was coming…

          He has changed tune — and is no looking for a bolt hole in Canada.

          What he – and these other people who have enough cash to have options do not realize is that their luxury bolt holes will be useless (actually all bolt holes will be pretty much useless)

          They seem to believe the collapse that is coming is financial in nature – they do not understand that the cause is the end of cheap to produce energy….

          They seem to believe after the financial calamity -which they intend to ride out in New Zealand — there will be a reset….

          They are in for a very big surprise.

          Thiel;s house in Queenstown


          • ejhr2015 says:

            Somewhere recently I saw a blog about suitable places to escape to when the SHTF time comes. New Zealand did not figure very highly in the pecking order. I cannot recall the link now, but I do recall that bit. Some of the world’s “first peoples” may survive because they still have knowledge of living their basic lives in known environments. But even they will be stressed as climate change will inflict changes they will have to adapt to and there won’t be much in the way of low hanging fruit around either.

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              Totally agree.

              Spent fuel ponds aside… the best places to be would be those that are completely unplugged from BAU — where people have no electricity — no modern tools — where everything they eat they provide for themselves.

              They are already living the Fast Eddy Challenge.

              I have been to two such places – the Amazon — and Irian Jaya…. I stayed in a nice hotel in the tree tops in the Amazon so had only fleeting contact with the natives — and did not get anywhere near natives who do not have contact with tourists…

              But in IJ — I went to the heart of darkness — not even a plastic bottle was to be had… trekkers almost never make it to such places…

              Historically these tribes have engaged in frequent and intense wars — as to be expected when there are few resources available….. they have been known to eat each other…

              These remote places are — needless to say — not ideal bolt holes for outsiders… the tribes will not welcome Peter Thiel post BAU —- well — they might welcome him …. with garlands of garlic and other spices — then put him in a pot…..

              If anyone is to survive the apocalypse — spent fuel aside— it would be tribes that are completely cut off from the world

            • that always allows me much hilarity here

              when londoners say they’ll head for wales

          • Stilgar Wilcox says:

            “They seem to believe after the financial calamity -which they intend to ride out in New Zealand — there will be a reset….”

            There have always been resets throughout history after disasters. The only difference this time is the collapse will be global, the reset/s localized and the level of tech afterwards will be far less. But of course those making it through the bottleneck will come together here and there to begin anew. It will be a harsh life compared to this peak oil tech extravaganza, but nonetheless life goes on for those that can endure.

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              There will be no energy post BAU — because BAU is collapsing for the lack of cheap energy.

              Therefore there will be no food — and there will be no way to stop spent fuel ponds from poisoning the world

              There will be no reset. A reset requires energy

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        I would imagine the hydro plants and grid will not last very long due to spare parts being unavailable…. also the hydro plants are in remote areas which will be difficult to get to to service without petrol for cars and helicopters.

        I came in very easily under the skilled worker option — I had to demonstrate in front of a gov’t panel my ability to heft large objects held by my teeth — and I had to demonstrate that I could find employment in a circus for at least a year…. the PTB were very impressed – to say the least.

        As for selling citizenship I have no problem with that — so long as it is not sold to gangsters — if someone with loads of money like Thiel are willing to slap many millions of dollars on the table for a NZ passport —- in the belief that they have purchased a slice of heaven — I am all for it.

        The more the merrier — because that will help ensure that NZ remains prosperous — till the last moment.

        Hopefully Thiel does not find FW — it would be bad for NZ if he were to discover the spent fuel problem

        • FE – can’t agree more re the NZ situation – as i said – we MAY battle through a year or two of depression IF depression continues in the global economy before the ….CRACK.

          However that’s not a recipe for lasting success or a solution to the Korowicz style collapse we see coming.

          I will split hairs with you (again) and reiterate that given preventative maintenance programs and the very fact that hydro plants don’t now routinely stop operation due to waiting for a valve from Japan – that their operation could continue for months post a global supply chain failure.

          The distinction I’m attempting to make here is that we may see things grind down bit by bit and we may see major elements of the global trade be disrupted for a period and THEN see the complete HALT. You’ve seemed to maintain that we see ‘normality’ in trade and finance until an overnight crisis. That’s is a very reasonable position to take. I’m of the same mind. However, would it be equally reasonable to assume that a period of desperation and serious recession could precede the crisis point?

          Why the sudden animosity to gangsters?

          • Pintada says:

            Dear Fast Eddy;

            “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
            By any other name would smell as sweet.”

            First, an analysis from Sandia Laboratories

            “These results should be considered in context with the fact that according to current practice, decay times as short as 30 days in reactor-sited pools and 11 year in away-from-reactor pools are possible.”

            So, a significant proportion of the spent fuel rods have been used as much as possible in the reactor, and then have been stored safely for many years. The fuel that has been stored for more than five years can be dry casked. It doesn’t need water cooling at all. Since it can be stored in a dry cask, it can also be stored in the racks in the pool without overheating. Stated another way, that fuel is safe regardless of the existence of water in the pool. From the book:

            “For most of the cases considered, a 3-year decay period is sufficient to keep the clad temperatures within safe limits even when there is no ventilation at all.”

            The cases where fuel that has been stored for 3 years, and is unsafe, are due to tighter placement of the fuel, and smaller holes that restrict air circulation. The 3 year number is for spent fuel from a Pressurized water reactor (PWR) for fuel that was used in a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) the time required is less. (There are more PWR reactors than BWR reactors.)

            “… the amount of heatup occurring in the unventilated or underventilated away-from- reactor storage pool is considerably lower when the pool is filled with BWR fuel than when it is filled with PWR fuel.”

            For spent fuel stored outside, or in a room with an open door and roof vent the study concluded that:

            “1. Considering a complete pool drainage, the minimum allowable decay time for PWR spent fuel in a well-ventilated room varies from a best value of about 5 days, for open-frame storage configurations, to a worst value of about 700 days, for high-density closed-frame configurations with wall-to-wall spent fuel placement. Other storage configurations fall between these limits. The minimum allowable decay time is defined as the lower limit of safe decay times, such that shorter decay times would produce local clad failures due to rupture or melting.”

            “2. The minimum allowable decay time for BWR spent fuel in a well-ventilated room varies from a best value of 5 days to a worst value of 150 days for the cases considered. A high-density storage rack design for BWRs would result in a somewhat higher value of the allowable decay time than presented here, but not as high as for PWR spent fuel.”

            That is ALL fuel that has been stored for 700 days after BAU would be safe. Some fuel stored only 5 days would be safe. Interestingly, the author goes on to say that by making a few modifications to the racks, that 700 day number could be reduced to 80 days at no expense to the utility.

            If the fuel is stored in a closed room with no ventilation, the spent fuel would need to be stored as long as 4 years before it was safe.

            The author calculated that it would likely not be wise under any circumstances to stand at the edge of the pool after the water was gone. Just as obvious, the idea that all of the spent fuel known to exist would – as a matter of course – burn, melt, go critical and scatter radiation over vast areas is simply ridiculous, as I stated several days ago.

            The second study from Brookhaven National Laboratory was charged with determining the damage that would be caused by the spent fuel that did overheat per the study at Sandia. In the “Consequence Evaluation” section of the Brookhaven study one finds:

            “Because of several features in the health physics modeling in the CRAC2 code, the population dose results are not very sensitive to the estimated fission product release. A more sensitive measure of the accident severity appears to be the interdiction area (contaminated land area) which in the worst cases was about two hundred square miles. While the long-term health effects (i.e., person-rem) are potentially large, it is important to note that no “prompt fatalities” were predicted and the risk of injury was also negligible.”

            In the later portions of the text, the author notes that the reason that there are no prompt fatalities, and the risk of injury was small is that the model used assumes what I would call BAU mitigation. So, yes their would be major health effects in the 200 square mile area if the fire happened post BAU.

            Regarding their review and update of the Sandia work:

            “Based on the previous results we have concluded that the modified SFUEL code (SFUELIW2) gives a reasonable estimate of the potential for propagation of self-sustaining clad oxidation from high power spent fuel to low power spent fuel. Under some conditions, propagation is predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been stored as long as 2 years. The investigation of the effect of insufficient ventilation in the fuel building indicated that oxygen depletion is a competing factor with heating of the building atmosphere and propagation is not predicted to occur for spent fuel that has been cooled for more than three years even without ventilation.”

            Recall that under the worst conditions possible, the Sandia study found that spent fuel stored only 3 years might cause a large issue. The Brookhaven folks showed that fuel stored only 3 years might overheat, but would not create the worst fire possible.

            Yup. The spent fuel will not be moved, it will not all be dry casked, it will be radioactive for centuries and dangerous for decades. It is entirely possible that every nuclear reactor that is in operation today will have a fire in the spent fuel pool(s) and it is entirely possible that the fire will be the worst possible. Assuming the worst happens at every facility, there will be roughly 1000 areas with a 15 mile radius that will be unsafe for the foreseeable future. If the population density in those 200 square mile area is high, millions will die or wish for death. Millions.

            Spent fuel pools cannot:
            1. Explode
            2. Spread radiation uphill more that 20 – 30 miles
            3. cause human extinction

            Spent fuel pools will:
            1. Contaminate surface and groundwater including the oceans
            2. Make a terrible mess in the immediate area

            Tell your tribe where the nukes are, and make sure the young ones know that it is crucial that their decedents never forget where those unsafe areas are. Do not live anywhere near one. No hysteria or histrionics are necessary, but FE lives for histrionics and hysteria, so please FE ignore the facts again. I will post this later.

            Glowingly Yours,

            U.S. Government; Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (2011-03-16). 2011 Nuclear Power Plant Sourcebook: Spent Nuclear Fuel and the Risks of Heatup After the Loss of Water – NRC Reports – Crisis at Japan’s TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant (~200 pages). Progressive Management. Kindle Edition.

            • I think you have posted this before.

            • Pintada says:

              Dear Ms Tverberg;

              Yes, I have posted it before. Here’s the thing. Fast Eddy (or whatever) has the time and is obsessed enough to post – with ever creative new phraseology – that “the spent fuel ponds will kill everyone post BAU”. His obsession with that obvious absurdity allows him to spend a crazy amount of time spreading the lie, while I, being sane, have very limited time for debunking the lie. So yes, I post the same truth over and over without changing it.

              Thank you for letting me debunk the silliness, every time he posts the lie.


            • Thomas Malthus says:

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission product, including 30-year half-life Cs, would be released.

              The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.


              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              As I have been saying — Sandia recommendations were not followed through on — spent fuel is stored in dense pack formation.

              Based on your continuous posting of the Sandia rubbish…. it is clear that you and the spent fuel ponds have a descriptor in common….


              closely compacted in substance.
              “as the storm cleared, a dense fog came down”
              synonyms: thick, heavy, opaque, soupy, murky, smoggy, impenetrable; More

              (of a person) stupid.
              “Am I being dense? I don’t quite understand”

            • InAlaska says:

              Excellent work and thank you. The situation is dire enough without histrionics. The combined sum of all of the forces acting against our survival are serious enough that we needn’t go looking for other sources of disaster. Well said.

            • Thanks, Pintada for your efforts to present evidence on the subject.

              I’m not sure that you can claim as strongly as you do that the spent fuel problem is as ‘negligible’ as those two studies claim (there have been studies making contrary claims after all). Neither do I believe that FE should be as convinced as to their extinction level threat. As this point in time I don’t believe there has been enough research done to come down firmly for either assumption. However I commend you for presenting what evidence is available to those of us who have not yet seen it – even if it has been posted before.

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              The thing is….

              I have not seen a single piece of information that demonstrates that spent fuels can be managed without BAU —- and I have not seen a shred of evidence that when all spent fuel ponds are left to their own devices — will not catch fire and release epic amounts of radiation.

              Not a single shred. Nothing. Nadda.

            • Ed says:

              Yes we have at least three schools of thought on the spent nuclear fuel rods post BAU.
              1) we all die
              2) local damage not too bad
              3) even local damage can be mitigated by spreading the fuel rods out to low density

              As this is not a nuclear engineering site I am more interested which countries/regions are going down now and which are next and when do we go down?

              I’d say several countries in Africa are post collapse, Yemen, Cuba, areas of Indonesia never rose up they just stayed per-industrial.

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              There is only one school of thought on the spent fuel issue — they other ‘schools’ are for the severely mentally retarded individuals who would have trouble tying their shoe laces.

              Spent fuel fire on U.S. soil could dwarf impact of Fukushima


              A fire from spent fuel stored at a U.S. nuclear power plant could have catastrophic consequences, according to new simulations of such an event.

              A major fire “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequences,” says Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University, who teamed with Princeton’s Michael Schoeppner on the modeling exercise.

              ….the national academies’s report warns that spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear plants is also vulnerable. After fuel is removed from a reactor core, the radioactive fission products continue to decay, generating heat. All nuclear power plants store the fuel onsite at the bottom of deep pools for at least 4 years while it slowly cools.

              To keep it safe, the academies report recommends that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and nuclear plant operators beef up systems for monitoring the pools and topping up water levels in case a facility is damaged. The panel also says plants should be ready to tighten security after a disaster.

              At most U.S. nuclear plants, spent fuel is densely packed in pools, heightening the fire risk. NRC has estimated that a major fire at the spent fuel pool at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania would displace an estimated 3.46 million people from 31,000 square kilometers of contaminated land, an area larger than New Jersey. But Von Hippel and Schoeppner think that NRC has grossly underestimated the scale and societal costs of such a fire.

              Multiply this by 4000….

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              Look at Mr Pintada … the star pupil of the School for the Mentally Challenged… nice effort but if you could only read you would stop posting the same rubbish over and over…

              The Sandia solution requires that the fuel rods NOT be packed in dense formation …. unfortunately their recommendations were ignored because it is much more cost-effective to store spent fuel in dense packed formations:

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool.

              Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission product, including 30-year half-life Cs, would be released.

              The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.


              Repeating the same lie over and over again is a sign of severe mental impairment. Ignoring the facts must be construed as a form of extreme psychosis.

              Have you considered checking yourself in?


              There are medications available that can assist you with escaping your make-believe world.

              In the meantime, I highly recommend you stay well away from knives, hammers, loaded weapons and cliff tops.

            • Tim Groves says:

              “For most of the cases considered, a 3-year decay period is sufficient to keep the clad temperatures within safe limits even when there is no ventilation at all.”

              Does this mean the fuel rods at Fukushima Daiichi can be considered safe now, as even the newest ones have been kept cool now for six years come March 11?

          • Thomas Malthus says:

            I am basing my expectations on a few things:

            – CTG and the gal in Ontario (name escapes me) have explained the JIT supply chain — virtually nothing is stockpiled

            – after Lehman global trade completely stopped for a few days — due to no trust between the banks of the suppliers and customers – if the central banks did not agree to back stop the entire global economy would have collapsed soon after

            The metaphor I prefer is fingers in the dam….. the men in charge stick fingers in holes as fast as they can — at some point the holes overwhelm them — and the dam bursts…

            My expectation is that it will happen that quickly …. up until that moment things will no doubt get progressively worse — with some places degrading faster than others – more join Greece and Venezuela and Libya and Syria — but at some point a breaking point is reached.

            I continue to struggle to work out what the trigger will be.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              “CTG and the gal in Ontario (name escapes me) have explained the JIT supply chain — virtually nothing is stockpiled”

              Are you talking about Nicole Foss from The Automatic Earth?

            • Thomas Malthus says:

              Definitely not her heheheh — the last time I saw something from Nicole Foss I think she was advising one of her kids to learn a percussion instrument ‘because entertainers will always be needed in a post BAU world’

              I hear that she enrolled her in a Bang a Drum Dance Around the Fire crash course http://www.BADDATFC.com

              My suggestion would be to sign up for a course that offers training in hand to hand combat with knives… small arms training and ambush tactics… I’d strongly recommend a specialist course in how to attack a static target like say … an organic farm…


            • Siobhan says:

              She posts as SymbolikGirl.

            • Thanks for recognising the idea that we could be (and are) seeing a period of disintegration in some locales (for a year or two?) before the actual ‘Lehman-type’ trigger.

              However i still think the ‘overnight crisis’ scenario while the major economies ‘pretend and extend BAu is the more likely scenario. I would agree with you that a long-lasting depression preceding the crisis point is the less likely scenario given what we understand about global interconnectedness, the lack or resilience in the system and the ways in which global finance is currently goosing the system. However a period of depression here in NZ – my particular selfish concern – i don’t rule out entirely. it’s still not a pretty picture. Either chaos descends quickly or misery for a while then chaos.

  9. Greg Machala says:

    Reading all these comments got me wondering: how unique is our situation in the universe?
    If technological civilization is a common outcome of evolution then there should be evidence of it elsewhere in the universe. So, I started poking around and from the following link I found an interesting observation:

    “After examining some 100,000 nearby large galaxies a team of researchers lead by The Pennsylvania State University astronomer Jason Wright has concluded that none of them contain any obvious signs of highly advanced technological civilizations. Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, it is by far the largest of study of its kind to date—earlier research had only cursorily investigated about a hundred galaxies.”

    So, out of 100,000 galaxies each with about 200 billion stars, there is not another technologically advanced civilization. This is a very very stark reality. It seems to me that either one of two things is going on: either technological civilizations are very short lived (and we can’t detect them) or, we are the only one in 20 quadrillion stars (if my math is correct). Either way folks we are a big time oasis in a very vast desert. It gives The Earth Battery Paper a whole new perspective. If you havn’t seen it here is the link: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/31/9511.abstract

    • That’s some interesting observations there Greg. Thanks for bringing it up and expanding upon Gail’s questions about the “miraculousness of system complexity”. If one reads George Mobus one might take the view that the arc of evolution (or complexity) can only be explained by a teleological assumption . i.e. that there is a goal ‘we’ are being driven towards.

      For my money the evolution of consciousness is something beyond linearity. Consciousness created the means to create itself. We – as godheads of consciousness – play a part in the creation of the ‘interstitial fabric’ which binds time and space into coherence. This is not a idealist proposition. We do not simply wish the universe into by our awareness of it. Rather the universe needs consciousness to reach it’s terminus so that it can be at it’s beginning. This is tied to the idea that at the other end of a black hole is a big bang. The sense of time that consciousness allows is the sand, the grit that gives the space-time flux it’s coarsity. Without consciousness there is no ‘gap’ between the instance of big bang and black hole singularity.

      As to the “lack of life out there” are a couple of books on the subject I’ve read I can recommend – the basic argument is: our planet’s particular path of becoming and remaining a planet that can sustain complex life within what is not necessarily a common type of solar system is highly improbable to have ever been achieved elsewhere.

      Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe
      Ward, Peter Douglas,

      If the Universe Is Teeming With Aliens Where Is Everybody?
      Seventy-five Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
      Webb, Stephen

      • Just some thoughts says:

        Are you suggesting that consciousness exists within the singularity (in which the universe exists in all of its states “all at once”) and that consciousness gives time its linearity in which consciousness “comes to be” within the linear progression?

        Temporal linearity may exist only within the mind that exists within the singularity? The mind has a linear temporal structure in which it perceives the singularity as the “history” in which itself comes to be? I am not sure that the singularity would itself need to cease to be singular and to become linear just because the mind within the singularity perceives it as linear.

        It seems to come down to the question of Schopenhaur’s interpretation of Kant, the noumena retains its singularity, linearity is a transcendental structure that gives structure to our perception (phenomena) not to the noumena. But the noumena is here conceived not as the Will but as the universe itself in its singularity.

        Of course it leaves the question of “where” the singularity “came from” or “how” it “got there” or whatever. The same can be said of God, who created him? The point is likely that those concepts dont apply to the noumena, only to phenomena.

        I have my doubts that anything could be “proven” about noumena, even that it exists. Proof likely applies only to phenomena, the extra-mental is radically beyond comprehension.

        • Christian says:

          I find FSA’s view very interesting, but I’m not sure about yours. I don’t see much difference between singularities and noumena

          • Just some thoughts says:

            The point is whether the singularity ceases to exist as a singularity, as FSA seemed to imply, once consciousness gives time its linearity. That is one reason why I equated the singularity with noumena so that question could be discussed and expanded upon.

            By the way, do you think that your good manners may have slipped in that comment? lol Sorry but I found that quite funny. Thanks for your input.

          • Just some thoughts says:

            For further clarity, FSA *seems* (one has to try to interpet) to take a monist view that the singularity contains the consciousness that ontologically gives linear form to the singularity itself and makes the universe itself linear. I was questioning whether a singularity that contains consciousness could not rather remain in its singularity while it appears linear to consciousness. The former is more akin to the monist telological ontology of Hegel and it is not really noumenal, the latter is more dualist.

            • Christian says:

              Excuse me, my english is too rough

              I see your point now. I’ve always preferred the Kantian way, but it’s true teleologism is also attractive. But the later should not necesarily be related to an Earthian monism: perhaps we only get a part of the telos

            • Thank you JST!

              Are you seeking to claim as Ayer did that ‘metaphysics is non-sense? I’ve rejected that claim (temporarily?) myself. If our awareness is the mechanism by which the “stuff” of phenomenon are given form then does it not follow that the awareness has agency? If this agency is the prescriptor of phenomenon how can it also be relied on as an accurate verifier of what is or what is not? In the process of constant creation is there an ability to judge that creation in the same moment? Can we look inwards and outwards simultaneously? I’m reminded of T.S Elliot – “I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where”

            • To answer your questions which I understand are these: Should we consider that consciousness creates an ‘actual’ linearity or just a perceived one? Is the singularity transformed into parts by consciousness or is consciousness a state experiencing temporality just for itself?

              My shorthand answer is found in my first stated proposition: the evolution of consciousness is beyond linearity. Consciousness has the properties which we ascribe to the singularity – it is a point in which all states exist. It is not a ‘container’ in which a segmented temporality is created. It is an agent in the same way we view space and time as agents. We could consider space and time and consciousness as ‘the three illusions of the interstitial’. It is only by the confluence of these three agents that the gaps between beginning and end take shape.

              The expansion of this argument, if we would like to interrogate it further, will likely take a deist course…. to prove the gods are dead we may just have to invent a G-o-d….

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “we may just have to invent a G-o-d….”

              Or as some people say, “There are no gods–yet.”

      • Kurt says:

        Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean that they are not there. I think the idea that they have to consume massive amounts of energy is wrong. Probably they are just highly advanced AI with infinite life spans that roam around their galaxies. They would be undetectable. Kind of like brilliant birds that fly around in space. Increasing population and using lots of energy is very much a biological thing.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “very much a biological thing.”

          I am aware of the people who spend a lot of effort on this. To the best of my knowledge they are as baffled as the rest of us. The working assumption is that technological life would have a range of behaviors. It would take only one of them that stuck with biology and spread out to make a visible splash. Take travel for example. One of the more obvious ways to travel between stars is to use stars to power a big lasers and ride the beams with light sails (Forward’s method). The light spill from such a transport system would be visible as obviously unnatural far across the universe.

          “The mediocrity principle suggests, given the existence of life on Earth, that life typically exists on Earth-like planets throughout the universe.[4]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediocrity_principle

          So far, we have conflicting information. I don’t have a solution.

          • The question being – are there really any Earth-like planets? The term gets bandied around too loosely. E.G. Do they have a Van Allen belt? Are they protected from constant bombardment by the unique gravitational patterns that exist in our not-so common solar system arrangement? Do they approximate our various rhythms – circadian, tidal, seasonal and orbital? At the moment anything just exhibiting ‘rocks’ and ‘water is termed earth-like, a far-cry from Earth if the other multitude of factors are not determined also.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “obvious signs”

      I know Jason Wright through email. He is one sharp guy and deeply involved in the Tabby’s star research. He cites my work on anisotropic (directional, out of our line of sight) IR radiation from thermal power satellites. He isn’t the first one to look at a mess of galaxies, Eric Drexler of nanotech fame did the same after he understood that nanotechnology would let us reshape the visible universe. What Drexler was looking for was an expanding civilization that was englobing stars and shifting their visible light to IR. This would show up as a galaxy that looked like Cookie Monster had taken a bite out of it. Drexler didn’t find anything either.

      This is inordinately bad news for us if technological life is common. If it is, then something eats every one of them before they can make a visible mark on the universe. I have speculated that humans might upload and speed up, making the stars recede (in travel time) beyond reason. https://web.archive.org/web/20121130232045/http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/04/12/transhumanism-and-the-human-expansion-into-space-a-conflict-with-physics/

      It’s a major mystery. What makes Tabby’s star so interesting is that we could be looking at aliens who have installed low temperature heat radiators a substantial fraction of the size of their star.

      It just seems wrong that every single technological life form would take a route where their works were not visible, but that’s what we seem to have.

      Assuming, that is, that we are not the first. I hope we are not because if we are it puts a crushing burden on humanity.

      • ejhr2015 says:

        I wouldn’t be concerned. In say another 200 million years the planet will have recharged and can afford another attack of intelligent life forms. Rinse and repeat until the sun gets old.

        • How in the world do you think that the planet recharges? More oil, coal and natural gas in suitable locations? We would need to repeat the climactic conditions that allowed the first accumulation of fossil fuels.

          More mineral deposits that are easy to extract as well? How do you think we are going to get those? The tendency is toward more and more dispersal, as complexity gives rise to uses that use greater and greater mixtures of materials. It would take huge energy amounts, to attempt to put minerals back together in the form needed.

          You are asking for an awfully lot.

          • ejhr2015 says:

            I would have thought 200 million years was adequate time for the planet to recover the losses we caused. Continental drift, mountain building and erosion, etc will bring new mineral supplies to the surface and taken away the exhausted rocks. It is still a finite world but given time it will recover a loy of resources. There will be time for new coal beds and oil supplies to form. Anyway if 200 million years is not enough make it 400 my[?] The point is another intelligent species can have its turn.

            • Our supply of fossil fuels takes an extremely unusual combination of circumstances.

            • Artleads says:

              Someone on another blog suggested that we don’t quite have a billion years before the sun gobbles up earth, and things start getting untenable for life in half that time. And it’s not that I follow Guy McPherson too much these days, but he probably would put the prospect of earth being a lifeless zone in a much, much shorter time span than that. Which is to suggest that we think more about the present and less about the fantasy of life in 200 mil years hence.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            Techno Narcissists are often extremely scientific illiterate, on most levels, but specialists on a micro level.
            I used to attend Long Now events, and was horrified with the delusion.

          • common phenomenon says:

            ejhr2015 is asking for an awful lot in terms of our current scientific theories. But how often have our scientific theories been overturned, so that a respectable theory became pseudo-science, and what was considered pseudo-science became respectable? How exactly did all these metals and minerals and elements from, and are all our theories about them correct? Nobody knows what the Earth will be like in 200 millions years – which is an awfully long time, after all.

            Just look at the things that are still argued about: the Giza pyramid was supposedly constructed in 20 years – just how did the ancient Egyptians manage the logistics of that? When you work out how many tons would have had to be moved and worked every hour for 20 years, quite apart from feeding and providing living space for the workers, it beggars belief. And how did the mega-dinosaurs support their weight? Scientists and engineers cannot prove how they did it – it ought to be impossible. You can google the controversies. Some think the Earth had to have been only 55% of its current size, and that the planet is expanding. After all, how do we know what exactly is happening at the very centre of the core of the Earth? We don’t have people there monitoring it.

            We don’t even understand ourselves. There is no agreement on what consciousness is or even how memories are stored. One man gets a nasty bump on the head and discovers he can speak fluent Italian – a language of which he previously had no knowledge. Another such man, after another such accident, discovers he can play the piano – but only without using his little fingers. As Gail points out, most experts work with blinkers on and cannot even link the disparate factors of our human economy together. So I think a little modesty is in order. Admittedly, we will not be around in 200 million years’ time, so we need not worry about it. But will there be divine intervention meantime, to put us back on track, as Gail appears to hope? I don’t know. I can’t rule it in or out. If it did happen, the atheists who believe we are in the Matrix would just say it proved their theory, and the arguments would continue anew.

        • would you like to buy a season ticket to Jurassic park—just to check how things are progressing?

        • Greg Machala says:

          I don’t think I can even think on time scales of 200 million years. It is futile to predict anything that far out.

          • ejhr2015 says:

            Well it has to be a guess. But “they” can forecast what the land masses will look like in x hundred million years. It’s not too far fetched to reckon the planet still has a lot of life sustaining ability in the 4 billion years it has before the sun turns into a red giant. My main point was that there’s oodles of time for other “civilizations” like ours to rise and fall. Our demise is not the end of intelligent life even on this little blue marble.

            • “oodles of time”

              Not really. Complex life might take about 750 million years to evolve following the predicted climate cataclysm.

              The series of events that led to the laying down of fossil fuels are not necessarily repeating themselves in the same manner again either. If there is but one significant difference in climate variables or mass extinctions you could be looking at 2 billion years for some sort of resources base and intelligent life around to harness it.

              These developments will also have to take place with a completely different ‘environment’ – a less efficient Van Allens belt or almost non-existent tidal flows given that the moon will be significantly further away, and the sun’s radiation will be of a different magnitude within even a billion years.

              Your assumptions are ‘cute’ but need examining.

        • bandits101 says:

          The Sun is already old. It’s brightening and getting hotter. The Moon is moving away. The Earths ability to recharge the atmosphere is waning. Intelligent life was a one shot affair, evolution will be severely hampered by time and conditions. Diversity and time was evolutions’ mainstay, both are severely curtailed.

          Within about 600 more likely 400 million years the Earth will be uninhabitable for much more than the most basic forms of life.
          More than likely we have blown our chance to exist for even a fraction of the time that the dinosaurs held sway.

          • Thomas Malthus says:

            By then we will have learned to turn Mars green and we can just move back to Earth and do same sarc

          • ejhr2015 says:

            Your guess is as good as mine no doubt. I haven’t seen any recent evidence to not support the theory we are half way through the planets life cycle, which means 600 million years will still be in the viable zone. Anything can happen of course, as has done. It was only 250 mya that the Permian extinction occurred, with a 95% loss of life. There’s bound to be more of those big events. I dunno about the “old ” sun. It’s also at its halfway point as far as what I have understood is concerned. ‘I’m not resiling from what I said.

            • bandits101 says:

              You don’t know enough. The Sun is a common variable star. It does not get born, stay constant and fade away after ten billion years. There is much on our planet and within the Solar System that has made up and supports the conditions for life as we know it. I’ll list you some books to read if you like.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I did have a 24 volume encyclopaedia on Astronomy, but I gave it away when I downsized to fit into a flat. I read it all but you may be more up to date, as the science does change all the time. I get updates on Science Daily but I’ve not seen anything against that idea that the sun is halfway through it’s current cycle, before it exhausts its hydrogen.

            • bandits101 says:

              Like beating my head against a wall…..half way through its cycle does not mean the Earth has been habitable for the first half and will remain habitable through the second half.

            • Good points!

      • Van Kent says:

        Keiths comment there got me thinking about Apex predators..

        In general predators are often more intelligent than their prey. It’s harder to hunt another thinking animal than it is to hunt grass. Think of lions versus antelopes. But like most biological trends there are significant and important exceptions, like elephants, parrots, etc. 

        A strong selective force for intelligence is sociality, stronger it seems than the force exerted by predation. Many predators are solitary. But most social predators are probably going to be higher up in the intelligence ranks than most of their prey (wolves, dolphins, orcas, humans).

        Therefore intelligent life on other planets would most certainly be social predators. But.. how do you restrain predators from their prey/resources. That simply isn’t possible.. predators kill, multiply, harvest resources untill all resources are dead, killed, used. Predators are killers, even the social predators. An intelligent social predator species would therefore necessarily cause its own demise by overshoot and collapse. Dead planets are plentifull. Maybe all the dead planets we see are the traces of the ancient ones that came before us..

        Keiths comment got the silly idea in my head that the only possibility of having a intergalactic civilization would be that there are some Super- Apex predators harvesting resources from the social predators (permanent nobility vs. plebs dynamic). Otherwise its always the same overshoot and collapse story again and again. And through generations of genetic manipulation the Super-Apex predators would have become really really nasty manipulative, psychopatic superkillers.

        So if we are to meet visitors from another world, by all likelyhood they are despotic, tyrannical, elitistical, Super-Apex predators coming to enslave you and take all your resources from you. That would be the only kind that could keep the planets original social predator species from going towards their overshoot and collapse cycle..

        But.. if there isn’t any Super-Apex predators out there.. (to ‘save’ us), and all is in the hands of our own silly little species.. then we must evolve in to a species with a Super-Apex predator group inside our own species, or we collapse and die.

        Any manipulative- tyrannical- psychopatic- super killer volunteers here to take the job of global slave master ??

        • ejhr2015 says:

          Somewhat on line with your apex predator topic comes this video about Tropic Cascade effects..
          There are two videos on the topic here. One is about wolves the other about whales.


        • psile says:

          I don’t like this*

        • Stefeun says:

          Van Kent,
          Thanks for your amusing and mostly true comment. I say “mostly” because I disagree from the moment you introduce this species of Super-Apex Intergalactic Predators.

          Even if they’re able to enslave us and “garden” planet Earth (and likely other ones) for their own profit, what tells you that they’re a united species, or that they didn’t have to fight internally amongst themselves before deciding to cooperate and assault their neighbors? Also assume they still must have enough resource (matter + energy) in order to withstand the continuity of their BAU and at the same time the transition towards the new way of life;
          Maybe the perspective of a big and rapid increase of their Carrying Capacity Line, thanks to those extra-inputs from outspace? Note these extras would be only temporary, because they’d quickly adjust their population, and other needs to this new line (just as we did with FF). I can’t see how this could prevent any collapse, neither here nor there.
          IMHO, the only way to delay (not even prevent) the deadly cycles of overshoots & collapses is to have a Carrying Capacity as stable as possible, together with an as-bigger-as-possible reactivity from ourselves (that never happens, see r, K strategies, we always fall into the normalcy bias that makes us think nothing will ever change).
          Not to mention all of the entropy issues…

          Secondly, don’t we already have something very similar on Earth?
          I won’t describe this class of ruling super-predators, I think everyone has lots of images coming to mind.
          NB: I say “class” because it isn’t a sub-species yet. Anyway, most of the selection today happens on the socio-cultural level, which is much faster than the biological one (don’t forget we’re in a race!).
          Why do we always tend to rely on “somebody from outside” when we aren’t able to stop fighting each other? Because we need to maintain some level of inequality to have the whole circus go ahead, or…? Well, this wasn’t supposed to be a bitter rant, thanks again Van Kent.

  10. jeremy890 says:

    Spent fuel fire on U.S. soil could dwarf impact of Fukushima


    A fire from spent fuel stored at a U.S. nuclear power plant could have catastrophic consequences, according to new simulations of such an event.

    A major fire “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequences,” says Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University, who teamed with Princeton’s Michael Schoeppner on the modeling exercise.
    ….the national academies’s report warns that spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear plants is also vulnerable. After fuel is removed from a reactor core, the radioactive fission products continue to decay, generating heat. All nuclear power plants store the fuel onsite at the bottom of deep pools for at least 4 years while it slowly cools. To keep it safe, the academies report recommends that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and nuclear plant operators beef up systems for monitoring the pools and topping up water levels in case a facility is damaged. The panel also says plants should be ready to tighten security after a disaster.

    At most U.S. nuclear plants, spent fuel is densely packed in pools, heightening the fire risk. NRC has estimated that a major fire at the spent fuel pool at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania would displace an estimated 3.46 million people from 31,000 square kilometers of contaminated land, an area larger than New Jersey. But Von Hippel and Schoeppner think that NRC has grossly underestimated the scale and societal costs of such a fire.

    But life will find a way….


  11. Christian says:

    Hi, has anyone read Paolo Bacigalupi?

    • The point that the author (Nick Cunningham) makes is that if prices go up, demand will drop. That is exactly the point I keep making. Of course, then prices will drop as well. In fact, we are likely to head into recession.

  12. kesar0 says:

    This is exactly my point. We should use the accessible energy left to preserve the civilization as long, as it can last. Even in small scale habitat. We become humans, when we preserve culture and knowledge. Without it we are animals again.

    We will soon start moving backwards in cultural and scientific evolution. Instead of complexification we should use appropriate ‘de-complexification’ designs.
    Durability and low cost of maintenance of infrastructure is crucial for the coming events.

    • kesar0 says:

      It was a comment to Gail’s post about ageing infrastructure.
      Blogspot is doing these things… sorry.

    • Greg Machala says:

      “We should use the accessible energy left to preserve the civilization as long, as it can last” – It takes a massive amount of energy to maintain what we already have. To make matters even worse, the economy requires growth to remain solvent. I believe anything and everything is already being done (that can be done) to preserve civilization as long as possible.
      (rant on)
      What I gather from this blog (and many other sites and books I have read over the years) is that the simple truth of the matter is that there are limits in a finite world. We are reaching multiple limits right now with respect to energy, climate and resources. Our civilization is leveraging resources to the max in a vain attempt at holding a facade of civilization together. A more apt description of our predicament is overshoot. Logically, the more into overshoot we are the more unstable our predicament becomes. Then, to preserve civilization necessarily implies more overshoot and more instability. At some point ,very soon, (2017, 2018, 2019?) the weakest links will fail leading to a collapse of the financial system.

      When the financial system collapses, the overshoot and instability won’t just magically go away. Without an financial system we have no resources. With no resources we have no energy. Without energy we cannot fight back against nature and maintain overshoot. In fact overshoot and instability will take over and attempt to reach a new equilibrium in all aspects of human life. Without a financial system, resource availability will adjust accordingly (downward) so only those resources that are economic will be recovered. There will be no more “borrowing from the future with debt”. Without a function economy that means only things like wood, stones and recycled/re-purposed goods will be available. Without access to food and medicine populations will readjust sharply downward. All this will happen very quickly. It will be a discontinuity from where we were – to where we are headed next (extinction?). This whole idea of a transition takes a functioning economy, energy and resources. When any of those three things are missing, there is no “transition”. The transition becomes an uncontrolled natural adjustment back to a sustainable equilibrium. (rant off)

      • kesar0 says:

        In general, I agree. I was referring to the idea of building things that last (what Gail agreed) though, which in my case means building a house/ a habitat for a small group of people. I didn’t mean doing this on global scale, which is obviously not possible any more.

        I mean personal solutions, not global.

        • I think that for the long term, what the world needs is things that are easily replaceable, not things that last. A home that can be built with local biomass in a day or two is easily replaceable. A stick that can be used for digging is easily replaceable.

          We have temporarily been able to use more and more complex processes to make goods that at one time could last. Unfortunately, they no longer can last, as we lose the resources to maintain them and the systems upon which they depend.

          • but local biomass is just another term for stuff that grows in our immediate vicinity—and that means trees and grass basically. Trees might last your lifetime, grass certainly won’t.
            if you have say, a couple of acres of land available for your subsistence, (food) you cant afford to grow plant material on it to grow a house–not enough space

            if your 2 acres happens to be rock, you can use that to build a house, but quarries dont produce food—but in theory you could exchange your rock for someone else’s food

            and then commerce kicks off the merry go round again.

          • jeremy890 says:

            Just like the video I featured about Tom Johnson …..hmmm…must of missed that one.

          • kesar0 says:

            Right. But this way we will back to hunter/gathering style of life soon.
            One stick for digging is ok, but what about seven billion sticks? For every person on this planet? And how many local biomass can we build without hurting the environment even more? This way we will shortly decrease carrying capacity (burn/use all the biomass left). Especially in my home climate. I don’t think this is the way for collapse/transition period.

            • jeremy890 says:

              Many will try…a few may succeed….a guy like Johnson or Zimmerman have a chance…
              Someone like a Fast Eddy….??? Forgetaboutit

          • Artleads says:

            Much appreciated comment. Cardboard boxes wouldn’t be all that easy to produce without some sort of industrial process and the energy to work it. But it sure works well as a “replaceable” material for now. There are ancillary tools and supplies required to work it conveniently, but these are at the low end of the industrial spectrum.

            Also, I gather that it’s impossible to see far into the future, and that the best way to approach the distant future is to take the best-informed next step into the near future. Transitioning to the relatively replaceable while trying to test how to extend that increment of transition. Sometimes, extending that increment isn’t technical but social. Everybody having a similar level of the incremental “technology” might help to make it work a little better.

          • Cristopher says:

            “I think that for the long term, what the world needs is things that are easily replaceable, not things that last.”

            Like this:


          • Artleads says:

            One puzzle for me is why it’s so commonly thought that growing indispensable plants requires fertile expanses of outlying land sitting there somewhere for people to exploit for growing. They’ll argue you to the floor to insist that food and other needed plants can’t be grown in the city. Meanwhile, the sun doth shine and water fall on the city.

            I know a number of people who MAKE soil. I engage to some degree in the practice too. Among the elements that can make soil and that are available in the city are the following:

            – sand
            – humanure
            – leaves and other vegetative matter
            – silt.

            I may be omitting some things, but not much. I’m not sure whether sand, once installed, needs too much replacement.

            • And lots of towering trees, cutting off light, at least where I live.

              Also, there is too much rock, too close to the surface.

            • DJ says:


              750 kcal per kg.
              1000 kg needed per person and year.
              Average yield in England and Wales 4 kg per m2.
              250m2 per person.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “there are limits in a finite world.”

        Certainly. There are limits to the whole solar system. But the limits are really large, thousands of times that of the Earth. If humans spread out into the solar system, we could have growth for several centuries.

        By the time humans start pressing the limits of the solar system, chances are AIs will be in charge.

        • the earth has been habitable by higher life forms for several hundred million years

          instead of looking at ourselves as being the out-thrusting life form to inhabit other solar systems, we should ask why no other visitors have arrived from elsewhere.

          when we look at galaxies 5m light years away, it is obvious the same physical forces rule there as here—ie stars rotate round a central gravitational point in exactly the same way that water goes down your plug hole.
          if the physics are the same, it follows then that conversion of one energy form into another by artificial means –ie by sentient beings–would use the same fundamental physics as we do, and require a heat process.
          axe head or starship—the rule seems inflexible.

          if you then have a society that utilises heat, they will be competitive—the universal survival mechanism.

          they would therefore compete with each other–they would have no choice, nature rules everywhere.

          if that is so, their competition would preclude reaching the stage of interplanetary exploration at any level, they would have extinguished their potential means of doing so before getting started. (just like us) In any event, rules apply there the same as here, starflight is still controlled by the speed of light.

          The ultimate reality I leave till last. Travel must have a purpose. The colossal investment in starflight fantasy would preclude any return on it. With a crashing a economy already, and a flight system as yet uninvented, I feel we may be barking up the wrong energy tree here.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            Defiantly the wrong tree.
            And, even doing the energy and resource math, the speed of light maybe the governor.
            With some amusement I see it as easy to overcome, and assumed it will not be a issue.

          • Good points!

            if you then have a society that utilises heat, they will be competitive—the universal survival mechanism.

            they would therefore compete with each other–they would have no choice, nature rules everywhere.

            if that is so, their competition would preclude reaching the stage of interplanetary exploration at any level, they would have extinguished their potential means of doing so before getting started. (just like us) In any event, rules apply there the same as here, starflight is still controlled by the speed of light.

            The ultimate reality I leave till last. Travel must have a purpose. The colossal investment in starflight fantasy would preclude any return on it. With a crashing a economy already, and a flight system as yet uninvented, I feel we may be barking up the wrong energy tree here.

            Even travel to Mars would seem to be in that category.

            • Harry Gibbs says:

              I enjoyed Paul Chefurka’s thermodynamic take on the ‘Fermi Paradox’. He wonders if it is the fate of all planetary civilisations to fall into the trap of becoming carbon-dependent and drown in the resulting entropy before interstellar travel is possible:


            • hkeithhenson says:

              “society that utilises heat”

              I suspect that once a civilization starts tapping their star, heat is no longer a problem. However, cold, which you must have, becomes a problem. If Tabby’s star is alien megastructures, then what we see may be very large and very cold radiators.

            • sounds like my old school when the janitor used to turn the heating off

          • Tango Oscar says:

            Just because Earth has been habitable does not mean an alien species, as we would understand them, would necessarily have been capable of or permitted to discover Earth. It’s also likely that an alien society would have wildly alternate rules and ethics from ours that bend their reality in ways we would consider magical or impossible. Gravity would be different for example and the lifeforms might be silicone based, leading to an existence and evolution different than ours.

            It’s also possible that a hypothetical alien species were limited with growth in regards to land size on their respective planet. Perhaps their energy sources were unlimited in nature versus the size of their population? Maybe planets with life are placed a minimum distance from one another to prevent contact barring a specific evolutionary enhancement, so to speak. There likely could be and are countless other possibilities as well.

            I would wager that no matter the explanation it is statistically impossible for us to know or understand how reality on other planets would behave when we haven’t even figured out our own properly. We can’t even balance our own checkbook, so to speak. We most certainly aren’t qualified to balance someone else’s. And now it would appear that our current advancement of human consciousness experimentation is finished so we’ll never know. I’m sure NASA, NOAA, and other government organizations are either on the chopping block or will be muted in regards to further discoveries.

            • i was basing my theories on the known facts, that we can see that gravity functions 5m L yr away the same as it does here, and we have the technolgy to analyse the spectrum of stars to know how they are made up—they have the same elements as our own more or less.

              so if the laws of physics are the same, and available materials are the same it seems unlikely that natural forces would throw up a fundamentally different base of life form.

              the fundamental law of survival is competition—otherwise nature makes no progression, but remains static—
              we can see that that cannot happen anywhere–black holes consume surrounding material on a constant rate. Your bath plughole functions in the same way. The law of gravity is universal. Stronger or weaker on different planetary bodies of course, but the same force.

              my contention is, that while alien life forms must exist elsewhere, they are subject to laws above their own capabilities and acceptance.
              so by nature of their survival/competition, populations rise to consume available resources. They do not stop and say ”enough is enough”
              they must destroy the means by which they “might” begin to explore away from their own planet. Just like we are doing

              Of course, with El Supremo now in charge, they might just show up next independence day to save us from ourselves.

              In which case i apologise in advance.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              You might be overthinking things Norman. For all we know the universe outside of our solar system is a fancy illusion. One of the biggest problems with humanity is that we MUST define everything. Unfortunately this world does not function in such a way that we can just cleanly label things and place them into a box. At some point you will experience or encounter some things that are beyond explanation.

            • bandits101 says:

              Yes it’s ridiculous Tango. They assume life is abundant in the Universe and other “Earth Like” planets revolve around similar stars……so, what if life is so plentiful and planets like ours so common, do we set out on a contradictory, generational journey in the “hope” that there is no life where we are going. Do we take weapons so we can wipe ’em out if there are. If we get there and they tell us to piss off, what do we do……
              IMO opinion such discussion exposes our collective psychopathic tendencies, and disregard for any life, including our own.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Humans aren’t getting off Earth and our technology has far exceeded our ability to responsibly use it. Our fantasies about conquering other planets is just that, pure fantasy. Any species that has evolved enough to travel through black holes is most certainly not a petty species that hastily uses up all of their resources to make iCrap. People in our world are all wearing coke-bottle glasses for the most part.

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:


      • Aubrey Enoch says:

        Things are tough enough here where we have air and hot and cold running water and a choice of foods.
        How’s is it supposed to work when they get to Mars or where ever and there is no air and no water and nothing green and growing and it’s minus 100degreesF ?
        Astronauts come back from six months on the space station and they are so debilitated from the reduced gravity that they can’t walk. You got to figure that these guys were top physical specimens when they left Earth and in six months they can’t walk. And we had to pay Russia $80million for the transportation into orbit.
        Tom Murphy did the math on space, http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/why-not-space/ a few years back. Murphy’s great.
        GM’s rant is pretty much on target. When those trucks stop running, we just have a couple of days of civilization left. Hungry people do what they have to. Everyone that is here today came from ancestors that didn’t just lay down and die when things got rough.
        Refugees take off walking because they figure that anywhere else is better than where they’re at. Does this wild delusion of moving to a planet with no air and no water and no food mean that these space migration people see the future Earth as being worse than a planet with no air, water, or food?

        • Elon Musk (he consults me on all his projects btw) asked me to pass on a message Aubrey—stop nitpickin

        • Greg Machala says:

          Good points Aubrey! It is morbidly funny to think how bad it would have to get here on Earth to make a place with no air, water or food (Mars) a more alluring prospect.

      • Curt Kurschus says:


        That is something that most people appear to not realise, that the dreams of electric-everything fuelled by wind turbines and solar farms can never happen due to the need for continued surpluses and growth in order to build and maintain the required infrastructure. In a world of declining supplies of energy and other resources, we cannot even maintain what we already have. Creating surpluses by cannabilising the existing economy will not work because that would itself lead to economic recession as we chop pieces of the economy off. Recession leads to rapid collapse of availability of credit which leads to overall collapse of the economy.

        The idea of some national economies growing at the expense of others also does not work due to the complex interconnectedness of the global economy (as Gail has pointed out many times).

        The gradual collapse suggested by some is therefore not likely. Either a sharp crash or series of sharp crashes would be far more probable.

        All of this is before we consider the additional strain of global warming and other systems issues, along with other consequences of generations of industrialisation (such as sizeable areas of land no longer being productive due to chemical pollution and/or salt, and the issue of spent fuel storage that some have mentioned here ).

        Judging by the conversations I have had, the statements by various economists, politicians, journalists and technologists, most people (whether by choice or design) just do not understand or realise such matters. They do not realise how serious the situation is.

        If people do not understand the situation they are in, then they are not likely to be motivated to adapt to the changing circumstances or to plan and prepare for what lies ahead. Any species which does not adapt appropriately to changing circumstances is headed for extinction.

        Of course, the rapidity of the changes we are seeing with regards to natural systems may make adaptation impossible anyway. We shall see.

        Not only are most people apparently not aware, it looks to me like most people do not want to be aware. I think it can be argued that, in the developed world at least, most people cannot afford to be aware in the short term, and cannot afford to not be aware in the long term. Short term thinking prevails.

    • the longest lasting media will be that produced on animal skins—if you exclude stone tablets.

      which is pretty much where we came in.

      • Greg Machala says:

        “the longest lasting media will be that produced on animal skins—if you exclude stone tablets.” – Norman Pagett

        What Norm? No USB thumb drive? What about Google Drive? Surely such an archaic thing as stone tablets are not superior storage media! Elon Musk will want to have a chat with you about that! (/sarc)

    • adonis says:

      totally agree with you we need to dry cask all the spent fuel rods while we still can along with low cost of maintenance of infrastructure while we still can unfortunately the puppetmasters think that the puppetshow will go on forever…

    • as far as i can see, if you are talking about using heat, the only accessible energy source outside an industrial infrastructure, is trees and other vegetable material.
      animal dung is also processed vegetable matter.

      other energy sources from fossil fuels will not be available. i don’t quite see what else there could be.

      you cannot have fully independent ”small scale” industry based on ”large scale ” concepts.

      examine almost all small scale cottage industry and you will find an ‘industrial economy’ backup—bringing materials in, and taking them out to be sold etc, in exchange for money—which is the tokenisation of industrial labour done elsewhere.

      • Greg Machala says:

        “you cannot have fully independent ”small scale” industry based on ”large scale ” concepts.” – That is brilliant! And that is how people are thinking we can have BAU-lite.

  13. Niels Colding says:

    Could the current obesity epidemic in USA be an impediment to the efficiency of the American workers compared to Asian workers? Would they comply If there in fact is work for them?

    • dolph says:

      Yes, America is very much bifurcated between fitness obsessed people, and the average, obese people. The fitness obsessed are maybe 10-15%, the obese are 60-70%. The obese cannot be productive to the same degree, they have too many sick days and healthcare costs.

    • The obesity epidemic certainly contributes to the high cost of health care. It also leads to more sick days.

      There are quite a few jobs available, but they don’t pay enough to cover the cost of getting to work and incidental expenses associated with working. So they are not worth the bother.

      For example, it is easy to get a part time minimum wage job ($7.25 hour), with hours varying from week to week. There is no way that most people can get to such work on public transport in the US–little public transport, and what is available often operates only during rush hours on week days. Perhaps a bicycle would work, but even that is difficult, when there are long distances and icy weather in winter or violent storms in summer to contend with. With a part time job, health care would have to be purchased under the ACA, out of the $7.25 per hour, applying to limited hours.

  14. Just some thoughts says:

    “Get out!” Dutch PM puts his foot down…


    “Act normal, or go away”, he has told his country in a message seen as a bid to take on the anti-immigration Freedom party.

    The country’s leader, who is fighting to win March’s election for his right-wing liberal VVD party, gave the stark warning in full-page adverts across the country’s daily papers.

    Mr Rutte, speaking in a follow-up interview with Algemeen Dablad (AD), said: “If you live in a country in which the ways of dealing with others annoys you, you have a choice.

    “Get out! You don’t have to be here!”

  15. adonis says:

    interesting article about the world economic forum’s annual meeting the IMF and the OECD are realizing that the people are hurting because of income inequality all in the same vein as what Gail has been saying maybe they are reading Gail’s articles. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/will-2017-be-the-year-we-finally-reform-financial-markets/

    • Thanks! Good luck on actually making this happen.

      • Volvo740 says:

        It seems that the allocation of resources via how much money you have will never change. It’s a religion set in stone. I guess the only way the rich isn’t going to get richer is if their lives are at risk in some way and they voluntarily give some of it up.

        • psile says:

          No one ever voluntarily gives up power and money, that’s why the elite are tripling down on their hapless gambit to keep it all. In the end the rich and powerful are always separated from their wealth and positions by a sword, a gun, a noose etc.

  16. Just some thoughts says:

    Iraqis shocked, Trump wants to “keep” their oil…


    A lot of Iraqis are understandably upset after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested his country could get “another chance” to steal their countries oil.

    The new American president told the CIA on Saturday that ISIS “probably” wouldn’t exist if the U.S. had “kept the oil.”

    “But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance,” Trump said.

    Needless to say, Iraqis weren’t having it.

    • Stilgar Wilcox says:

      People, or maybe I should say the American people are too slow witted to understand that Trump is as I refer to him is Mr. MonkeyWrench as opposed to Mr. GoodWrench who was good at fixing things. Trump will monkeywrench i.e. make bold dramatic changes with little or no understanding of their outcome, just as he did with his businesses in which he went bankrupt numerous times. That’s his MO, to do things in a huge way to match the needs of his grandiose viewpoints. If anyone thinks that will work, try playing chess that way. It’s a losing strategy.

      Just the trade wars he’s planning on waging will do a lot of economic damage worldwide as global GDP declines pushing countries including the US into recession. Possibly done gradually it could be a good thing to generate more US industrial output, but he’s going to make huge moves way too fast for output to spontaneously react that quickly. The result will be higher costs goods putting even more pressure on people just barely getting by.

      Then there’s the situation with China. He’s going to pick a war with them over some stupid islands. We will see how big that gets. He is mentally ill as can be seen by his need to alter his own perception of reality with lies as needed to buff up his overblown narcissistic self importance. This is an extremely dangerous time in US & World history.

      The fact that he claims we should have kept Iraq’s oil (and may get another chance) shows just how out of touch he is with international law and common decency.

      • Thomas Malthus says:

        Trump will do exactly what he is told to do. Just as Clinton, Bush, Obama etc… did.

        Because the minute they balk at an order (as Kennedy balked at Operation Northwoods) this is what the result would be:


        Only a total idiot would think that as POTUS he actually has power to oppose those with the money — he does not — the wise course of action is to play ball — enjoy the limelight — then walk away and collect millions in speaking fees.

        Trump apparently does not need the money — he’s all about the limelight. So he will do what he is told.

        Notice how he’s suddenly friendly with the CIA… Israel… Warren Buffet and the Davos Crowd were just the other day saying how they would all get along just fine with Don.

        Americans have to be the biggest suckers on the planet — you’d think that after seeing what Obama did over the past 8 years you would realize that voting does not result in hope nor change…

        The only way you have the slightest shot at any of that is to


        Good luck with that

        • doomphd says:

          last graphic insert not showing above, FE, err, TM.

        • Yorchichan says:

          The fact Trump is going ahead with “The Wall(*)” suggests one of three alternatives:

          1) The deep state wants the wall. Trump was the candidate of the deep state all along and his platform is theirs. The US election was rigged in his favour. Trump is a puppet.

          2) The deep state is indifferent to the wall. It’s a side issue meant to placate the masses but irrelevant to their plans. The election result did not matter because whichever candidate won was pre-approved and in important matters will do as they are told. Trump is still a puppet.

          3) The deep state does not want the wall. The deep state wanted Clinton to win. Trump is his own man.

          My money is on 2.

          * Substitute for any policy where Trump differs from Clinton.

          • Thomas Malthus says:

            3) The deep state does not want the wall. The deep state wanted Clinton to win. Trump is his own man.

            If this is correct then Trump will soon be dead.

            • Greg Machala says:

              I think #3 as well. But, I think there is a huge internal conflict in the Deep State right now and that is why Trump isn’t dead yet. I have never seen such chaos over an election and especially after the president is sworn in. Something is up.

            • bandits101 says:

              Whatever happens, will be “predicted” in the past as usual. Everyone speculates about the “Deep State” or “Elders” but AFTER an event occurs, there is the ah ha moment of declaring it’s what the deep state or elders wanted. ACTUAL predictions are never made…..confirmation bias running riot.

            • Joebanana says:

              Trump is interesting to say the least. Giant…no…gargantuan balls! I think he is doomed to fail but if I were a poor guy struggling in Minnesota or West Virginia he would be my hero
              right now.

            • Christian says:

              Greg, another piece of “such chaos”:


            • Thomas Malthus says:

              What is needed in that photo essay is a section on the bombing of places like Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc…. to create a cause and effect storyline…

              Rather boring just to see half the story

            • Throw in a few graphs with the photos, perhaps.

      • The world has to shrink back in some way. I see the election of Donald Trump as part of that process. Maybe the trade wars will hurt, but we cannot really continue all of the international trade. Wages of non-elite workers are too low. We cannot provide high enough prices for oil, natural gas, coal and uranium.

        • InAlaska says:

          Gail, I agree with you and I also believe, as do many others, that Trump is merely a signpost on the road to collapse and not the puppet of some shadowy deep state conspiracy..

      • Tango Oscar says:

        Chess is fun to play aggressively and recklessly if strong moves are combined with strategy. Trump isn’t applying the strategy part, though.

  17. Just some thoughts says:

    Professional protestors have nothing better to do…


    While the Tribe’s concerns certainly appear to be reasonable, it remains to be seen whether the professional protesters will honor the request to vacate the area, especially since they don’t appear to have much else to do.

  18. Stilgar Wilcox says:


    “You have good times, and then you have bad times to compensate for the artificially good times,” he added. “So we’ll have a downturn and that will be a real challenge for the new administration.” Although most of Wall Street appears bullish about the short-term economic outlook under Trump’s fiscal policy plans, some economists have been less than sanguine. Paul’s critique echoed that of David Stockman, a former Reagan-era budget director who also warned CNBC last week that Trump’s plans would ultimately lead to financial calamity. Paul had refused to endorse Trump from early on in the election cycle, claiming that the now President would divide the Republican Party. Much of Paul’s criticism of Trump lies with the latter’s proposed border taxes, which Paul believes is actually more of a “tariff” that would block free trade. “I think that right now, I’d fear most the retaliation [from other countries] and the burden it’s going to place on the consumer,” said Paul.

    I realize Trump’s intention of imposing tariff’s on imports is to reinvigorate US industrial output, however, in the short run it will as Paul says above, put a burden on the consumer. In return foreign countries will put tariff’s on US goods and the we are in real danger of a global recession as world GDP declines sharply.

    I think Trump’s nickname should be ‘Mr. Monkeywrench’ as he monkey’s with the system without knowing the impact it will have. That strategy could be likened to haphazardly playing chess which of course leads to unintended negative consequences.

    • Just some thoughts says:

      Trump’s tariffs are expected to strengthen the dollar and to lower the cost of imports – and raise taxes …


      According to a recent report by PwC, the border adjustment proposal would have a notable impact on the energy industry. Companies that export crude oil as well as those that manufacture and export refined products, equipment and chemicals would benefit from the provision. But companies that import equipment and crude oil for refining and processing would not be able to deduct import expenditures, PwC says.

      Economists think that the proposed tax would further strengthen the U.S. dollar, thus leading to lower costs of imported goods and “little or no net change in the after-tax cost of imports”, PwC noted.

      • Good points! If there is a tax on imported oil, it will lead to higher gasoline prices, even though the world price is not higher.

        • Harry Gibbs says:

          I find corporeal analogies quite enlightening when reviewing the state of the ailing global economy. Trump’s walls and tariffs feel to me like the equivalent of fatty deposits collecting in its arteries, slowing circulation…

    • Thanks! One interesting thought: “The globalisation of the past 40 years has been driven by the shipping container more than anything else.”

      Now transportation costs seem very important.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “shipping container”

        8 years ago I wrote this about containers.

        On the trip back, Angel told Max what he knew about containers.

        “Those simple boxes made as much change in the world as the invention of steam power, maybe more.”

        “How so?”

        “Did you ever see Brando in “On the Waterfront”?

        “Long time ago. They made that movie before I was born.”

        “That film was a fairly accurate picture of the way organized crime ran shipping docks. Lots of cargo lost to dockworker gangs, and it took a week or more to unload a ship. Containers cut the load and unload time to hours, and the locked containers keep most of the goods from being stolen. Before containers, companies had to make goods near to markets. Containers, and the ships that carry them, cut the cost and time for shipping. They cut it so much that making high labor products like clothes moved out of the US. There are close to 15 million of those things coming into the US every year now.”

      • Stefeun says:

        Yes, seafreight containers allowed automation (see e.g. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150209-the-network-that-runs-the-world) and consequent reduction of the transportation costs.

        This automation process is now reaching its limits, and combined with other factors like bad-timed rush on vessels construction, decrease of the volumes, etc.., which makes the transport costs important again.
        To re-localize the production in OECD countries may help these OECD countries, but likely not the emergent exporting economies. Sounds like eventual tightening of the borders.

        • I remember back in my early insurance days that “longshoremen and harbor workers” was a fairly large category of workers who were covered by workers compensation. I haven’t looked at workers compensation at that level of detail in years, but I expect that it would mostly have gone away–just as many of the manufacturing workers have gone away.

          One of the major causes of death in recent years is auto/truck accidents. Back injuries were (and probably still are) a major cause of disability.

  19. Yoshua says:

    China and Saudi Arabia both had a foreign trade surplus in 2016 although their exports and imports declined, the trade was still positive.

    Still their foreign exchange reserves declined. Are their foreign reserves declining because they are defending their currencies ? Why would they want to have strong currencies ?

    China would be a currency manipulator… but they would manipulate the yuan to stronger than what it really is.

    • China’s foreign reserves seems to be declining because they are defending their currency from falling. This does sound backwards for a major exporter of goods.

      This is one thing that CNBC is saying:

      But any PBOC devaluation (or market-led depreciation) could cause a domino effect across the world. Other countries could be forced to lower the value of their own currencies to remain competitive with China. The U.S. dollar would then spike on a relative basis, and that would in turn swell the value of dollar-denominated commodities and corporate debt — which would likely grind global growth to a halt.

      The apparent Chinese decision to allow for a drop in the yuan “will be very detrimental to the global economy,” Chovanec predicted. “If everybody gets into the act, it’s a risk they push the U.S. into recession.”

      In other words, dollar-denominated debt would be harder to repay, and imports of oil and other commodities would be more expensive. The other reason it is keeping the currency high, has to do with the yuan being added to the currency basket. China has to have a stable currency to join this basket.

      Beijing has long pressed the IMF to make the yuan part of the select club of currencies, along with the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and British pound sterling. The addition is scheduled to take effect this year.

      • Cristopher says:

        “The other reason it is keeping the currency high, has to do with the yuan being added to the currency basket. China has to have a stable currency to join this basket.”

        Why is the IMF currency basket of such an importance? Is it really expected to be used as a world currency except for emergency situations. Not even the euro works well so the IMF-SDR will be even worse. Of course, in an emergency situation it could be helpful, the question is do the chinese policy makers really fear that such a threatening emergency exists or are they vainly dreaming of a global well functioning currency?

        • Any proposed solution always seems better than none at all. It is hard to believe that working out the details of this proposed solution, and implementing it on a world basis, would have any chance of working. If nothing else, the IMF is an international organization. It will have difficulty maintaining funding, if countries within the organization are having problems.

        • Stefeun says:

          In my view of non-specialist-at-all, I see the SDR as a new global financial toy, acting like another curtain away from reality.

          I’d bet -even if BAU stands- this currency will never hit the real economy.
          Just to run global finance ever faster. No problem with its backup, since derivatives are already backed up by nothing (except by govts fiscalities and their differences?)

      • Yoshua says:

        Oil and other commodity prices stay low with a strong yuan. True. That must be one reason to maintain a strong yuan.

        I have also heard that Chinese companies with debt in dollars are the ones buying dollars from the PBOC in exchange for yuan’s and are now paying of their dollar debt while the yuan is strong. That could be one explanation to the decline in Chinas foreign exchange reserves.

        A strong yuan might also give Chinese companies better access to expensive US technology ? And also to technology around the world that they need ? They have also been buying up high tech companies around the world to a lower price during the great recession.

        A large devaluation would send the US economy into recession ? When they tried to devalue the yuan the US stock market started to plunge into an abyss. They are protecting the US economy… their largest and most important market ? With the US in recession the world is thrown into recession… and with that the global market for their exports goes ?

        • A large devaluation would make it harder for China to buy oil, coal, and natural gas on world markets. Thus, it would tend to lower world demand, and bring the world price for oil down–also the prices of other goods, perhaps to a lesser extent.

          We would have more problems with oil prices not being high enough to support the extraction of oil.

          The US economy would be helped (temporarily) by the lower oil prices.

          • Yoshua says:

            Yes the oil price would fall with the fall of Chinese demand.

            All oil producing nations would feel the shock.

      • wratfink says:

        Lots of capital flight from China buying up property and investments in other countries. China is cashing in dollar reserves to make up for the drain without “printing” which would weaken their currency. They may try some capital controls to help.

        Just my observation. There seem to be as many theories for this as there are economists.

  20. jeremy890 says:

    Looks as if we should have a fine Thanksgiving Turkey dinner in 2017, heh Tom?
    Wonder where the Grain Merchant, Cargill, fits in the pack?
    Cargill is one of the world’s largest food companies, employing about 150,000 people across 70 countries. Its results come as swelling supplies of food, ranging from wheat to dairy products and pork, have slashed
    profits for farmers and pulled down the price of food, pressuring grocery chains,restaurants and other players.
    Cargill Inc. on Tuesday reported a 66 percent jump in profits for its most recent quarter, driven by expanding beef supplies and consumers’ rising appetite for burgers and steaks


    Tom Malthus can rest easy, Tom Turkey is going to be plumped and ready to be gobbled down?

    Oh, BTW, was the CEO of Cargill seated up front for the swearing in of Trump…like they have been since way back with Kennedy?
    Just saying..

  21. adonis says:


  22. Stinging Nettle says:

    Controlled collapse?!? Controlled by whom and how, I’d really like to hear more. No, wait, Alex Jones has a few pieces on that. With all due respect Sir, you really don’t get it

    • adonis says:

      unfortunateley you are amongst the many that have not connected the dots of our present course of destination play the video after you click on the following link https://christiantruther.com/end-times/nwo/economic-collapse-next-globalists-elitists-world-economic-forum-claim-capitalism-needs-urgent-reform/

      • Greg Machala says:

        If we loose too much of the population we loose the ability to extract energy products. So, we would fall back well below pre-industrial levels.

      • Stinging Nettle says:

        I connected the dots and the picture is pretty clear to me. I grew up under “communism”. At the societal level there is no difference: the goal is infinite growth on a finite planet, or as the great leader Ceausescu used to say, “Man has tamed nature”. See how that is working out so far. There was a strong state, it owned everything and it used part of the surplus to maintain a strong central bureacracy working. It operated under the same rules, as if the whole country was a business and Ceausescu was the CEO. I heard many die-hard “conservatives” that the country should be run like a business. It seems our current president started on this path even before he was sworn-in. In the end the so-called communism was just a state capitalism, and nothing more. It failed when there was not enough surplus available to maintain the repressive order. Yes, there was an historical context to that, but make no mistake: State capitalism failed because it exhausted its resource base. The whole industrial civilization, aka Capitalism as it is known it in the west is failing for the same reason. The mountain of debt thrown at this predicament is just kicking the can down the road and Gail and other commenters on this blog do a much better job of explaining this than most. The so-called elites just want to preserve BAU and what is debatable is whether or not they realize the predicament we’re in. The link you give only confirms that. The kind of conspiracy theories this and other sites like it are promoting comes IMHO from a superficial understanding of the situation.
        Real communism can only exist in small communities, maybe up to 150 members-see the Dunbar number, non-hierarchical and not creating surpluses. To me, that sounds like hunter-gatherer society and if we are lucky, as a species, we might get there again. Or some of us will be saved by some christian God.

        • Stinging Nettle says:

          And nevermind the 1000 Fukushimas awaiting on the other side of the “controlled collapse”

        • Froggman says:

          I appreciate your perspective from the other side of the Iron Curtain. I’m a westerner who used to consider himself a Marxist. I participated in pro-communist groups, voted for socialist candidates (who lost terribly), etc.

          Eventually my understanding shifted to what you have described. The socialist economic model still presupposes exploitation and perpetual growth on a finite planet. All the things socialism set out to eradicate (oppression, exploitation, inequality) by shifting the relations of production, were not actually a result of those relations.

          They are inherent in civilization itself. No amount of rearranging the pieces of civilization will ever eliminate these great burdens, because the burdens are part and parcel with civilization.

          I used to reject anarchism because I didn’t see it as a pragmatic system that could actually function. These days, I’ve recanted and lean towards anarcho-primitivism. My current position is that hunter-gatherer relations were probably the only pragmatic, functioning, sustainable system that ever existed or ever could exist.

          • Stinging Nettle says:

            Your blog is on my favorite list. Excellent. I was a fierce “conservative” until I came to the US in 1998 and for a few years after, when I started to ask myself and others about the urban/industrial decay. See, from up-close, the US didn’t look so glamorous anymore. To be sure, the difference with Romania was enormous, and still is, in many ways, but this was no Hollywood set. It also helped that I knew a man who opened my eyes to the effects of capitalism “eating its own tail” as in exporting the jobs overseas and forcing the workers left behind into poverty, food stamps, etc. and unable to buy the very products they used to produce. The narrative “poors are lazy” did not make that much sense anymore. But the biggest shock came later on, when I really digested the fact that we live on a finite planet. Yes, most people know that, but how many actually UNDERSTAND it? Not too many radicals amongst us, thanks dr. Guy McPherson for clarifying that. I read somewhere that fish don’t really know they are in the water. It seems that’s the case for most humans too. Of course, much more could be said, but this is not my blog. Grateful to our host for her outstanding work, I’ve learned many things here.

          • Agreed. We see the same hierarchy issues in animals. The problem cannot go away. Hunter-Gatherers provided as level a society as we could find, and as close to sustainable as possible. But even they wiped out whole species, because of their advantages using fire.

            • Artleads says:

              That article about paying people in hotspots makes a seemingly valid point that even with the elimination of some species, HG societies tended to settle down and stabilize in a quite sustainable way, and for a very long time. It appears that while nothing is perfect, some peoples did a whole lot better than we are doing.

        • adonis says:

          thank you for your enlightening reply stinging nettle if global communism is not the answer to our dilemma then i stand corrected but the elites seem to be heading in this direction from what i have read from statements they have made , but regardless of what we all think of what the powers that be are thinking it is good that we can teach each other through our dialog on this honest unbiased website,

          • common phenomenon says:

            It all depends on what you mean by communism. The concept existed long before Karl Marx, of course. However, Marxism still dominates our ideas about communism. Lenin said: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country”, proving that, yes, both capitalism and modern communism espoused industrialisation. But all modern communists claimed they were building socialism, which was, they maintained, a necessary stage before communism proper. Yet I can see little or no difference between the theories of communism and those of anarchism.

            Of Marxists, there were all sorts: Stalinists, Trotskyists (even though Stalin stole some of Trotsky’s ideas), Maoists, the Khmer Rouge. These all seemed to depend on a centralised repressive dictatorship. The POUM, a Trotskyist-leaning party (which was however denounced by Trotsky) during the Spanish civil war, is for me one of the most interesting examples, as it aimed at industrial democracy and despised the repressive Spanish pro-Moscow Communist Party.

            As for Romania, the joke went that Stalin had invented socialism within one country, but Ceaușescu had invented socialism within one family (because he stole everything for himself). North Korea now claims to espouse Juche rather than Marxism-Leninism:


            I well remember the Weimar Britain of the 1970s, when the economy got worse by the year (until we got North Sea oil) and there were all sorts of Marxists all over the bloody place: Socialist Workers, Vanessa’s Redgrave’s Workers’ Revolutionary Party, etc., etc. In the elections we had all sorts of minor parties in addition to the Marxists: National Front, National Party, English National Party, Road Safety-White Resident, not forgetting the Monster Raving Loony Party. The political scene in the mid-1970s was rather aptly satirised by Monty Python:


            With apologies to Gail, who is of Norwegian descent.

            Moving to capitalism, we have all sorts of capitalism too. German capitalism is very different in nature from British capitalism, and Japanese capitalism, as no doubt Tim Groves could tell us, is different again. But it’s true – modern capitalism and communism both promote industrialisation, and even the Greens seem to espouse an unlikely industrialism-lite.

          • Stinging Nettle says:

            Thanks. It does seem that they would like to go in that direction, the idiotic attempts to eliminate cash are one example, but we all know that in the age of diminishing returns-see Tainter, complex social arrangements tend to crumble to what can be sustained by the surpluses available. Most people take for granted the power of governments to control large territories with very diverse populations but they forget the energy surplus. That is the only thing holding them together. Trying to hold them together by force will just waste resources that could have been directed to cushioning the fall. Ditto for the next wave of infrastructure and industrial investment in the US. Building and upgrading fossil fuel/automobile infrastructure at the end of the fossil fuel/automobile era seems like madness to me. Many times I question my own sanity, but then I read blogs like this and don’t feel like I am that crazy. Cheers!

          • I suspect that they are trying to find a solution to the huge income disparities we are now encountering.

        • DJ says:

          There is a difference between running the state as a business and as a monopoly.

        • Joebanana says:

          Stinging Nettle-
          I remember well the day Ceausesu was taken out and shot. Romania is an interesting country. It looks beautiful to me and the people seem well connected with the land in the rural areas. Do you get to visit any and has it changed much in the last 25 years?

          • Stinging Nettle says:

            I do visit, and it has changed, trying to “catch-up” with the west. People used to be connected to the land, now the prevailing culture wants nothing but a western lifestyle. Little do they realise this is a race with no end in sight. The heavy industrial economy built by Ceausescu in the 60s and 70s with IMF credit, in his idiotic attempt to emulate the Juche system of North Korea’s Kim-Il-Sung, was sold for scrap in the 90s by the former aparatchiks turned into capitalists. Inflation and unemployment soared, the environmental degradation is appaling and everyone depends on BAU for survival. The countryside is mostly inhabited by older people and a lot of the agricultural land is fallow as it is cheaper to buy, for example, tomatoes grown in Spain than to grow and sell them locally. The supermarket chains that entered the market after the country joined the EU in 2007 are using their economies of scale to effectively drive out the small local producers. But that’s something that happens everywhere. Yes, there are a few areas that seem to be from another era, Prince Charles is involved in a preservation project in Transylvania, which is nice, but as an old saying goes, one flower does not make it spring.

  23. adonis says:

    theres two ways this cookie will crumble the extinction level event or the controlled collapse where capitalism is replaced by global communism and a vastly reduced world population. i believe the second option is where we are heading and the elites have primed the financial system for the final collapse which will usher in the painful period of re-adjustment as our capitalistic economic model is replaced by Communism.Renewable energy will play a major role in the new world order along with the remaining fossil fuels.yes comrades we are in for some interesting times.

    • ejhr2015 says:

      Tribal not global. We in our little survival areas will not have a clue what’s going on anywhere else as there will be no global communication systems.

    • DJ says:

      If you believe communism will replace whatever we have now then you must assume it is not those with money who are in charge.

      I can’t understand why communism should be more efficient than whatever we have now. Short-circuited democracy and make believe economics and still incentive for needed workers to work.

      • Artleads says:

        Yes. I suppose that The term “communism” implies a very complex, centralized, industrial world order for which there appears to be no energy to run it. Among a lot of other things.

        “Community” is different. No central government implies. Hugely decreased complexity. No responsibility of anyone for the whole. It would be natural enough for one community to interact–trade, etc.–with the next one over…

        But that is all jumping the gun. Each community now could be run better than it is under bau. Most of us have been blessed with plenty of time to learn some sense and get more resilient. Forces of inertia-especially the bewildering needs of the networked economy–are so huge that I defy anybody to predict exactly how it will change, collapse, transmute, whatever. For certain, you can’t solve a problem using the same mindset that caused it. I recommend putting future “post collapse” scenarios completely out of one’s mind–it will be a COMPLETE surprise–while fully focusing on the gargantuan challenges at hand.

      • Stefeun says:

        I can’t understand why communism should be more efficient than whatever we have now.

        In the sense of last longer (for efficient), I think it is, because more regulation tends to slow things down, by limiting the financial craziness for example.

    • I don’t think global communism will work. Historically, it has not used enough debt, and there aren’t enough incentives in place for people to work. The only renewable energy that will be used will be low-tech renewable energy, not high tech wind turbines and solar PV.

      Also, a new system without electricity is going to be a huge problem, especially with respect to spent fuel ponds.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        It went from essentially a feudal society in Russia, to putting a satellite in orbit in 50 years.
        But agree, Marx’s genus was his analysis of capitalism, and his concept of dialectical materialism (he may have proved time travel, as no one could of been that insightful).
        As a government system? Much too much of a optimist of human nature.
        A interesting perspective (not favorable to Marx):

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          Dialectical materialism is not, and never has been, a programmatic method for solving particular physical problems. Rather, a dialectical analysis provides an overview and a set of warning signs against particular forms of dogmatism and narrowness of thought. It tells us, “Remember that history may leave an important trace. Remember that being and becoming are dual aspects of nature. Remember that conditions change and that the conditions necessary to the initiation of some process may be destroyed by the process itself. Remember to pay attention to real objects in time and space and not lose them in utterly idealized abstractions. Remember that qualitative effects of context and interaction may be lost when phenomena are isolated”. And above all else, “Remember that all the other caveats are only reminders and warning signs whose application to different circumstances of the real world is contingent.”

          Richard Lewontin

        • bandits101 says:

          Communism was very lucky to have survived WW2, it was such a near run thing at Moscow and Stalingrad, that you would have to suppose that Western assistance prevented defeat. After that Stalin’s spy network supplied all the required information to let off bombs and orbit the Earth…..he starved a lot of his people to get there though.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            Actually, the Soviets won WWII.
            (The Western Allies were lucky to retain as much of Europe as they did)

            The Red Army was “the main engine of Nazism’s destruction,” writes British historian and journalist Max Hastings in “Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945.” The Soviet Union paid the harshest price: though the numbers are not exact, an estimated 26 million Soviet citizens died during World War II, including as many as 11 million soldiers. At the same time, the Germans suffered three-quarters of their wartime losses fighting the Red Army.

            “It was the Western Allies’ extreme good fortune that the Russians, and not themselves, paid almost the entire ‘butcher’s bill’ for [defeating Nazi Germany], accepting 95 per cent of the military casualties of the three major powers of the Grand Alliance,” writes Hastings.

            “The vast majority of German soldiers were killed fighting on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union (and, at various points, allies such as Romania and partisan forces fighting all across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe). Germany’s largest defeats happened in the East: in the same month as D-Day, part of an operation caused about 100k German casualties, the Soviets launched Operation Bagration, which caused about 800k German casualties.

            The Soviets also sacrificed far more toward victory, with north of 25 million casualites, compared to about 3 million by all the Western allies fighting Germany (the figures get higher quickly if we include casualties against Japan, given the Japanese treatment of the people living in conquered Western colonies such as Burma, the Philippines, and Indonesia, although the figure is still well below 10 million).

            Once it was clear that Germany would be defeated and occupied, millions of Germans – both civilians and soliders – fled west, to surrender to the Western allies instead of the Soviets. If only the Western allies were fighting Germany, those people would likely have stayed at their posts and in their war factories, continuing to fight against the allies.”

            • bandits101 says:

              Spare me the history lesson Duncan. The quite silly implication you make is that Russia would have beaten Germany without assistance. The US supplied trucks, tanks, planes, machinery and food via the Mermansk convoys.

              Russia would have been defeated without help. The fact that they sacrificed millions of men needlessly is their own problem, Stalin had a total disregard for the lives of soldiers, many were sent to Gulags or executed simply for retreating or being captured. They were sent into battle and into needless offences with no training, unarmed and illequipped. Stalin had purged most senior officers before the war so they were very poorly led. The Allied bombing campaign kept German soldiers, planes and equipment from the Eastern Front.

              The Germans were stopped just 20 miles from Moscow. As I said, it was such a near run thing that you would have to assume, that Allied assistance played a part, same goes for Stalingrad. Once the Germans began to retreat, it was only a matter of time before they were defeated, that Russia was willing to sacrifice more to get to Berlin first is a matter for politics and ruthlessness. Stalin was a Dictator and answered to no one, not even the Politburo.

      • Greg Machala says:

        I agree, that communism on a global scale won’t work. Most of what we consider modern technology is very sophisticated engineering. It takes a lot of very talented hard working specialized staff to even maintain the basics (food, electricity, shelter) of what we have now. Where is the incentive for anyone to work extremely hard only to have the same quality of life as someone who does nothing at all? I just don’t see how communism can extend what we have at all.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          Actually, the Soviets were very good at large engineering projects.
          From pipelines to space, they excelled.
          For example:

          Consumer goods?
          Not so good.

        • Artleads says:

          What about pragmatism in place of communism or capitalism? What if we start with a collective goal–like, say, managing nuclear waste? (There would of course be many other objectives as well.) Then work backwards from there, doing whatever needs doing to meet the goal? Systems thinking would be helpful. What if there were a systems thinking world order?

          • tried to post this earlier but it kept vanishing—wondering if there’s some kind of peculiar word block out there wordpress doesnt like.
            Apologies if its floating around duplicated

            whatever “ism” you choose, it cannot survive without surplus, except maybe cannib- alism—and even that needs surplus people elsewhere i guess.

            To reiterate from a previous post:
            All physical effort was expended in catching food and basic survival, which left no energy surplus. Without energy surplus there could be no specialization, no society and no economy.

            So if you’re going to have fas-cism comm-unism, buddhism—anything—as a basis of society, you must have “collectivism” to provide group means and support.

            And if you have any form of ‘collective society’ there will inevitably be a hierarchy, and if there’s a hierarchy there will be someone running it

            and if there’s someone running it he (unless its a matriarchy) will run it for the benefit of himself and his immediate clan or tribe in furtherance of his own genetic stream. And he will be unpleasant to non clan members. He will have no choice, Genes do not give us choices in a broad overall sense because we are driven to survive.
            As I’ve pointed out before, the democracies and civilised patterns of behaviour we see at this point in time have only existed during our era of fossil fuel use–(ie cheap energy)
            When cheap energy goes, democracy will go with it. The two are inseparable,

            The notion of an ”ism” as some kind of political system to help our future is a fallacy, because whatever it is cannot exist without input of surplus energy from an external source

            • seems wordpress doesnt like cann –ib–alism—should anyone feel so inclined in the future

            • Artleads says:

              “Genes do not give us choices in a broad overall sense because we are driven to survive.”

              This is MOL what I’m saying. You explain widely that the way we are living and governed means we will NOT survive. Nuclear waste ought to get everybody’s attention for that one.

              So here’s a very unpopular contention for you. We’re in this pickle not due to energy dissipation (although I’m glad to learn how decisive that is), or overpopulation, or the nature of economics. (Despite my inadequate knowledge base) I buy that all these things are very decisive indeed.

              So we are where we are. No need to complain or point fingers. We have the energy/surplus (whatever you call it) to live now as we do…TODAY. We have the means to stop TODAY and reflect on our trajectory toward extinction.

              Granted, most people have totally different ideas about the state of things. But there exists today the means to address a large number of people who will listen. That doesn’t require any more surplus (your term) than what we have TODAY!

              You may believe we are all automatons programmed ONLY to do what is sure to kill us. But then you say “Genes do not give us choices in a broad overall sense because we are driven to survive.” We either want to survive or we want to die. Which one is it? (Please don’t tell me about the future or the past, or the state of energy at some other period of time.) Can we TODAY, with the resources we have DECIDE (If you grant any power at all to do so) that to survive, we need to change some things. Among these, is that we must harness the resources we have AT PRESENT to make changes that are more conducive to survival than not.

              I really don’t care what comes of this effort. It just seems logical to attempt it given genes that are presumably disposed to survival. If humans can’t get it together to stop for a second and reflect on our trajectory, then we are a useless piece of sh.. as a species and we deserve to die.

            • @Artleads and frogman—Ive tried to reply to your interesting comments, but for some reason it keeps vanishing

              Ive obviously used a bad word that wordpress doesnt like but i can’t figure out what it is. There are none that I can see

              Its quite comprehensive so I will probably post it on medium again and put a link to it here shortly

            • @Artleads and Froggman

              re—((((This is MOL what I’m saying. You explain widely that the way we are living and governed means we will NOT survive. Nuclear waste ought to get everybody’s attention for that one.)))))

              Couldn’t get my reply to your comments on OFW, cant figure out why, just kept rejecting it.
              so put it on Medium instead.
              The tone of it is slightly different, but the basic drift is the same


            • Nice essay! I have no idea why it would not go up on OFW.

              I think that there may be a third option: (3) We are a species made by god, that is subject to the laws of physics and evolutionary forces. Because we are in some sense a special species, the outcome may not be as predetermined as this essay suggests. The outcome will still be within the laws of physics and evolution but may be, for example, outside of this universe.

            • if we are a species created by some kind of external entity, as a conscious act—however that may be described—then because it cannot be proven, it must be lumped under ‘belief” and so goes under option 1 i think

              and if it is covered by option one, then we have no need to worry about anything, because i dont think an external entity would go to all the trouble of letting us loose on a planet to see us exterminate ourselves.

              unless of course we were a creation brought into being under the current laws of physics, by a sentient body of some kind; if we were then that description neatly fits a laboratory experiment.

              which means that we are likely to get flushed down the galactic toilet when the experiment is finished.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “outside of this universe”

              I suspect this is what happens. It’s possibly the reason for the Fermi paradox. I don’t know if this is how it might go, but unloading into a simulated universe is one way we can imagine that is in a way “outside.” See _Accelerando_ or _The Rapture of the Nerds_ for fictional treatments (both available on line).

            • Stefeun says:

              In my opinion it’s too late. Has always been, but this time we seem to get really close to the end of this era.

              You’re using many words such as choose, prefer, want, decide, etc. Sure one can do whatever at her/his individual level, but it won’t change the collective outcome.
              I personnally prefer to keep on trying to learn and understand, rather than running around crying aloud that we must do something in order to avoid the unavoidable. Accept the reality.

              You’re talking about stopping now and look at what we have at the present time, sort of a reset. The problem here is that we no longer live at the present time. Thanks to the magics of the debt, we’re living on borrowed time. As soon as we realize it, we don’t just stop, we fall.
              NB: by “we”, I understand not only us humans, but the whole Gaïa. Until what point will we fall is a very good question.

            • Rainydays says:

              Artleads: these words would have to come from a charismatic leader. Someone who can say that we will deal with this now and everything else can wait. I just don’t see it happening since people will support the leader that promises short term wealth for themselves, and this is true for all ruling systems, not just modern democracy.

              It has to come from below. The people must wake up and smell the coffee, like the people posting here have done. I think the important thing is to be calm about it and accept that things most likely will end badly, everything else is a bonus. Get busy living or get busy dying!

            • Froggman says:

              I’m not so sure we are driven to survive. I think we should deconstruct that concept a bit. I think we’re driven to seek rewards via the limbic system. The limbic system evolved outside of civilization to reward behaviors that led to survival. But civilization has changed the reward/survival equation, while our limbic systems remain the same.

              Thus we will consume, extract, construct, destroy, procreate, eat, fight, WIN our way to our own destruction. The things that used to ensure survival now ensure our demise, but we can’t stop doing them because its what our biology drives us to do.

              Catch 22.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “limbic systems”

              I think the story is a little more complicated, but you are certainly on the right track.

              My path through this maze led me to consider conditional behaviors. Today very few of us are subjected to capture situations, but that was not the case in the past for perhaps 10% of our female ancestors. Those who had the psychological traits to bond became out ancestors, those without the traits became breakfast. It’s no wonder that most of us have this psychological trait. http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Capture-bonding

            • Good point! There is always a need to look at the current situation, and figure out what the best strategy might be.

            • Artleads says:

              This is another way of looking at it. But I keep saying that all the opinions and facts need to assembled together and sorted through.

              “What if we gave universal income to people in biodiversity hotpots?”

              “Capitalism is an economic system founded on ceaseless expansion,” Dawson, who specializes in Postcolonial studies, said. “It must grow at a compound rate or it will experience convulsive economic and social crises. The contradictions of this system are patently self-evident: an economic system based on infinite expansion must inevitably crash into the natural limits of finite ecosystems.”

              Modify message

            • My guess is that giving universal income to people in biodiversity hot spots would lead to massive road building and the use of cars and other polluting devices. Admittedly, these things would come from elsewhere, damaging the environment in other places. But it also would damage the local environment, and people learned about the possibility of more, more, more and changed their environment.

            • Artleads says:

              @ Stefeun,

              “I personnally prefer to keep on trying to learn and understand, rather than running around crying aloud that we must do something in order to avoid the unavoidable. Accept the reality.”

              But you need systems thinking to understand anything. Are you factoring that in? I don’t know if it’s Voltaire or who someone told me said, to paraphrase, “We must assemble our facts.” That is a prerequisite for systems thinking, I imagine.

              And that meme segues into the issue of individual v collective action toward DOING anything. I agree with Gail’s (and others’s) suggestion that “the world” (however you define it), is self organizing. But to quote the Michael Jackson song, WE are the world. You seem to take a position that we can step out of the world to some lofty height whence to pontificate about it. Can’t be done. You’re part of this self organizing something whether you like it or not. You cannot avoid acting, with conscious purpose or otherwise.

              Now, if your view of the world is materialist while not ALSO spiritual, the conversation stops here. IF you incorporate the spiritual (which I contend can be scientifically verified) then your intention matters in a different way from a lack thereof. Since I tend to lean this way, I say that my acting with intention affects the world differently, more in keeping with my wishes, than not doing so.

              But there is also the science v art conundrum. I believe that the world (reality?) is as much about art as it is science. In art, you must express something. I’m expressing something with my time and energy. I believe that expression matters in the big self-organizing milieu we all exist within.

              But this is getting too long and I have somewhere to go.


            • Stefeun says:

              I didn’t imagine you could misunderstand my pontificating positions that much.

              Just one comment: you say I cannot just sit on the side of the road watching how the world runs because I’m part of it (I’d rather agree with that), and a few lines below you talk about a separate spirituality that would have to be purposedly incorporated into your intentional acts.
              For me it’s a contradiction. NB: rhetorical question, doesn’t require any answer.

            • Artleads says:

              “My guess is that giving universal income to people in biodiversity hot spots would lead to massive road building and the use of cars and other polluting devices. Admittedly, these things would come from elsewhere, damaging the environment in other places. But it also would damage the local environment, and people learned about the possibility of more, more, more and changed their environment.”

              Thanks, Gail. I love this point.

          • Stefeun says:

            The example you’re giving (managing nuclear waste) is maybe a collective goal, but IMHO not an example of systems thinking. It’s not even half-way, still in the problem-solution paradigm.

            A genuine systems thinking would try to take into account all the possible outcomes of an action, weight them against other actions implemented, etc.
            Huge work with no return (what’s the cost for our species to be still alive in the far future?). I fear we have neither time nor upfront resource available for that.

            Moreover, when such incomplete decisions are taken, the cheaters always have the final word.

            • Artleads says:


              I thought systems thinking could apply big or small. I student from Stanford once came to a grade school class I was teaching to talk about how systems thinking would apply to building a skyscraper (or similarly large bldg). By considering all the elements involved, you would know how to schedule the installation of fixtures that couldn’t get through doors once finished. The simple image is to avoid painting yourself into a corner.

              Then there might be systems thinking for governance of the whole world. Of course, if you prefer to sit and wait for death, that would strike you as a waste of time. You may also prefer to play god and decide what’s not worth it for the human being to survive, assuming also that you know about the distant future. Furthermore, you might disparage poor slobs who don’t care about the distant future at all; just about resisting extinction at any level, for any period of time. It takes leisure, privilege, comfort, and maybe (ironically) denial to take a lofty view of the issue. (If you see extinction in as glaring a term as I do, you might instead feel desperate.)

        • Stefeun says:

          Communism can work ONLY at a global scale ; hence its failure.
          Aren’t you using individual’s metrics to judge an ideology whose purpose is actually to acheive collective goals?

          Micro and macro often have different objectives (even though the final target is the same for both).
          Moreover, we now know that none of them “works”, because of bad definition of our objectives (the faster burner always wins in the end).

        • Stefeun says:

          I just don’t see how communism can extend what we have at all.

          Should I understand that you want more?
          Sorry, I’m afraid it’s too late for that.

      • JT Roberts says:

        Right spent fuel ponds are the Achilles Heel to the survivability factor. Debt I agree is the force that drives production. Without the pressure of debt the communist system collapsed. The motive to produce is likely a bigger factor than many realize. Some might reason it’s evolutionary but if so why Soviet failure? It must be more than perpetuating species. Personal survival? OK. But won’t explain advanced civilization. Belief is the ultimate driver. What have Americans come to believe?

        • Artleads says:

          Whatever it is they believe, the outcome is detrimental for them and the rest of the world. They have brought about their own economic ruin as well as the 6th great extinction. How cool is that? The Soviets were hardier, despite seeming economic failure. What the hell good is economic success under these conditions?

        • The Soviet Failure had to do with low oil prices. It was an oil exporter. It couldn’t get enough money to build out more extraction capability. That happened when prices rose again, but industrial production never recovered. It was good for the West that the Soviet Union collapsed. Otherwise, the oil we have been using recently would be gone. FSU = Former Soviet Union

          Former Soviet Union oil prodction, consumption, collapse.

  24. Thomas Malthus says:

    A little clarification on the status of women in some middle eastern countries:

    Contrary to popular imagination, Iraqi women enjoyed far more freedom under Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’athist government than women in other Middle Eastern countries. In fact, equal rights for women were enshrined in Iraq’s Constitution in 1970, including the right to vote, run for political office, access education and own property.

    Today, these rights are all but absent under the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki.


    During the Gadhafi era, women made steady progress in gaining access to education and work. It became very common to see female lawyers, judges, civilian pilots and university professors.

    One of the greatest achievements for women under the Gadhafi regime was unlimited access to free education at all levels. Realizing the importance of education in modernizing society, the former regime made it compulsory for parents to keep their children of both sexes in school until the age of nine. This is now reflected in Libyan women being highly educated, as compared to the region. In Libya today, a majority of female students intend to attend college and an almost equal number of women (32%) as men (33%) hold university degrees, while almost 77% of female high school graduates intend to pursue higher degrees both inside Libya and abroad.

    Since NATO helped rebels topple the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, women in the new Libya have suffered ironically at the hands of those who claim to have liberated them, most of whom became militias involved in crime. While claims of mass rape during the 2011 war still remain uninvestigated, it is well known that violence against women is a major issue. Because of social taboos, it is hard for victims to come forward and the country’s successive governments have made no serious efforts to look into the matter.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/03/libya-women-murder-situation-gaddafi-regime-militias.html#ixzz4WXrZnFx2

    • Interesting!

      In Libya under Gadhafi, Libya’s oil exports per capita were quite high. More recently, they have been a lot lower. I think this underlies the problem they are now having.

    • JT Roberts says:

      Thanks for that clarity. It’s hard to break through the propaganda. The US is the opposite of what it portends to be. Sadam and Quadafi dared defy the petrodollar system and suffered the consequences. Next up Iran and Saudi. It’s all about high EROEI oil. The American Dream is sponsored by the vanquished.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Same with women in Afghanistan under the Soviet Invasion.
      But women in Iraq and Libya have rights greater than any in the Arab and Persian World.
      (My stepdaughter was a UN Human Rights Worker and I have primary insight into her experiences).

  25. T Roy says:

    All the women who have been and are currently oppressed, raped, beaten and forced into marriages at age 12 would be horrified at the comments by many of you on this blog. All of the children and women who have had bombs strapped to their bodies would be outraged by your waving of the hands at the monstrosity of Islam. Over 1 Million people have been tortured and murdered by the followers of Islam since 2010 and you guys want to laugh this off as a problem of oil? With the exception of Dolph, most of your comments show that you truly are out of touch elitist shills. If your wife, mother or child had been raped and beaten for nothing more than not believing in Mohammed you would be singing a far different tune.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      May I suggest a venue where you will be taken seriously?
      Examination of religion has meme protection here.

    • Ed says:

      Of course it is a war. Oddly the west refuses to defend itself. So, it is clear who will win the war. Good bye individual enlightenment, democracy, rule of law, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, individual rights.

    • Thomas Malthus says:

      I bet they’d be far more horrified if one were to discuss the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that the western powers have blasted, incinerated, incarcerated, tortured, killed, maimed, raped, beaten, robbed, spat on, betrayed, and so on ….

      Over the past century or so.

      Ask yourself — which culture is more barbaric?

      • bandits101 says:

        Why pick out Muslims? The West has done as much or worse to their own. Ask the Chineses, Indians, Africans, natives everywhere the list is endless. Ever heard of WW1 or WW2. There was Korea and Vietnam, Muslims aren’t special in any regard, religion has nothing to do with oil and wars being fought because of it. Muslim or calathumpian makes no difference. Trouble is you have to be religious (a Muslim) to claim to be oppressed in the Middle East, the Christians in Syria have no say, they are being driven out of the Middle East and Northern Africa.

  26. Thomas Malthus says:

    A Greek tragedy: how much can one nation take?

    Greece’s economic crisis has disappeared from the minds of many in Europe, but inside the country, the pain is only getting worse    

    Unemployment is at 23 per cent and 44 per cent of those aged 15-24 are out of work. More than a fifth of Greeks get by without basics such as heating or a telephone connection. 

    In 2015, 15 per cent of the population lived in extreme poverty compared with 2 per cent in 2009, according to a recent study by Dianeosis, a Greek NGO. “There are families that do not have anything to eat,” says Petropoulos, a squat man in his mid-forties. “I give bread away for nothing. I know everybody here and I know who needs it the most.”

    Spending on hospitals, schools and social safety nets has been slashed, leaving increasing numbers of Greece’s most vulnerable without support.

    Many local schools have been shut or had budgets trimmed. Bus routes, an essential link to nearby towns, have been axed, forcing villages to operate community taxi schemes.

    Last year pension payments were cut by as much as 40 per cent, while this year will bring €1bn worth of new taxes on cars, telecoms, television, fuel, cigarettes, coffee and beer, and a €5.7bn cut to public sector salaries and pensions.

    “Human relationships have changed. People are closed off in their homes. They don’t come out,” she says. “Those that had businesses here have now closed them.”

    “My business is getting harder and harder,” says Andriopoulou, who has run the shop with her husband for 35 years. Twenty per cent of her customers pay on credit. 

    “They pay when the pension comes. They pay when they can,” she says, pulling out a well-thumbed notebook from next to the cash register. “Many times the old help the young. [2017] will be much, much worse,” she says. “Because of taxes going up and pensions going down.” 

    Austerity measures mean that close to half of pensioners now have a monthly income that puts them below the country’s poverty line, according to a recent report by a group of retiree associations. 

    “The money that the government gives us is just taken back in taxes. There is not anything left to survive on, for food, for essentials,” says mayor Petropoulos, who also runs a small ramshackle goat farm a mile or so outside the village.

    “The thing we see that is most needed right now is food. That shows that the problems are about essentials, not about quality of life. It is about subsistence,” she says.


    The Greeks need to stop moaning. They continue to receive billions from the ECB which allows them to live large. It’s not like they are starving for christ sake!

    They really should be grateful for their daily bread.

    After all – they could be abandoned like the Venezuelans….

    Cry babies!

    When global collapse comes then they can moan and wail. But they will not be drowned out by a global cacophany of moaning and wailing (and suffering and dying)

    • i’ve thought for a long time that the Greeks are our advance warning of the future

      ie a cultured civilised european nation where the money (aka energy) has simply run out

      Greece fits exactly with my fundamental law of collective survival:
      if a nation doesn’t produce enough indigenous surplus energy to support the demands of its people, from within its own borders they must beg, buy, borrow or steal it from somewhere else, or face eventual collapse and starvation until their numbers reach a sustainable level.
      The Greeks can’t really borrow any more, so they are now reduced to begging.
      They, like the rest of us are in denial—blaming politicians or whatever,
      When the EU bank goes bust, its closing time for Greece
      (and elsewhere)

      Greece is going to be the least of our worries (unless you’re a Greek of course.

    • doomphd says:

      Dear Thomas/Eddy/Paul,

      Good to see you posting again. You add a dimension here that is sorely missed when you take a break. Norman is great also. Just wanted to let you know you are both very appreciated. What a great blog Gail has created here. Too bad the subject matter is so grim, but maybe we’ll get lucky, who knows, humans are always at their best when their backs are pushed up against a wall (and they wake up in time to realize it).


    • greg machala says:

      “In 2015, 15 per cent of the population lived in extreme poverty compared with 2 per cent in 2009.” – At this rate by the end of this year (2017) the extreme poverty rate would be around 30%. Increasing to 60% in 2019. Dang we are getting close to a major catastrophe.

    • We have more countries moving into the ranks of countries with problems all of the time. Mexico’s slowdown in oil exports is a big problem for them. Also, Trump’s not wanting to put new factories here hurts them as well.

  27. dolph says:

    Let me say that of course the West isn’t innocent. Nobody really is in this giant game.
    But what’s different is that Islam doesn’t share ideas, doesn’t exchange knowledge like we do. The rest of the world has a long tradition of openness and debate that Islam lacks. It isn’t interested. There’s no such thing as Gail’s blog in Islam. There’s only “Are you Muslim and what type are you” and “If you are different you are an infidel and the Koran says it’s ok to kill you”. You think they are debating the ins and outs of anything?

    Yes, of course we should have gotten off their oil a long time ago, and yes we should have never allowed them to spread, let them fight each other in their deserts.

    • Thomas Malthus says:

      Islamic Golden Age

      Scholars at an Abbasid library, from the Maqamat of al-Hariri by Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti, Baghdad, 1237 AD

      The Islamic Golden Age refers to a period in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during which much of the historically Islamic world was ruled by various caliphates and science, economic development and cultural works flourished.[1][2][3] This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786 to 809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the world’s classical knowledge into the Arabic language.[4][5]

      This period is traditionally said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the Sack of Baghdad in 1258 AD.[6] A few contemporary scholars place the end of the Islamic Golden Age as late as the end of 15th to 16th centuries.[1][2][3]

      Contents [hide]

      1 History of the concept
      2 Causes
      2.1 Religious influence
      2.2 Earlier cultural influence
      2.3 Government sponsorship
      2.4 New technology
      3 Philosophy
      3.1 Metaphysics
      3.2 Epistemology
      4 Mathematics
      4.1 Algebra
      4.2 Geometry
      4.3 Trigonometry
      4.4 Calculus