The “Wind and Solar Will Save Us” Delusion

The “Wind and Solar Will Save Us” story is based on a long list of misunderstandings and apples to oranges comparisons. Somehow, people seem to believe that our economy of 7.5 billion people can get along with a very short list of energy supplies. This short list will not include fossil fuels. Some would exclude nuclear, as well. Without these energy types, we find ourselves with a short list of types of energy — what BP calls Hydroelectric, Geobiomass (geothermal, wood, wood waste, and other miscellaneous types; also liquid fuels from plants), Wind, and Solar.

Unfortunately, a transition to such a short list of fuels can’t really work. These are a few of the problems we encounter:

[1] Wind and solar are making extremely slow progress in helping the world move away from fossil fuel dependence.

In 2015, fossil fuels accounted for 86% of the world’s energy consumption, and nuclear added another 4%, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Thus, the world’s “preferred fuels” made up only 10% of the total. Wind and solar together accounted for a little less than 2% of world energy consumption.

Figure 1. World energy consumption based on data from BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Figure 1. World energy consumption based on data from BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Our progress in getting away from fossil fuels has not been very fast, either. Going back to 1985, fossil fuels made up 89% of the total, and wind and solar were both insignificant. As indicated above, fossil fuels today comprise 86% of total energy consumption. Thus, in 30 years, we have managed to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 3% (=89% – 86%). Growth in wind and solar contributed 2% of this 3% reduction. At the rate of a 3% reduction every 30 years (or 1% reduction every ten years), it will take 860 years, or until the year 2877 to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels. And the “improvement” made to date was made with huge subsidies for wind and solar.

Figure 2. World electricity generation by source, based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Figure 2. World electricity generation by source based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

The situation is a little less bad when looking at the electricity portion alone (Figure 2). In this case, wind amounts to 3.5% of electricity generated in 2015, and solar amounts to 1.1%, making a total of 4.6%. Fossil fuels account for “only” 66% of the total, so this portion seems to be the place where changes can be made. But replacing all fossil fuels, or all fossil fuels plus nuclear, with preferred fuels seems impossible.

[2] Grid electricity is probably the least sustainable form of energy we have.

If we are to transition to a renewables-based economy, we will need to transition to an electricity-based economy, since most of today’s renewables use electricity. Such an economy will need to depend on the electric grid.

The US electric grid is often called the “World’s Largest Machine.” The American Society of Civil Engineers gives a grade of D+ to America’s energy system. It says,

America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s. Investment in power transmission has increased since 2005, but ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of failures and power interruptions.

Simply maintaining the electric grid is difficult. One author writes about the challenges of replacing aging steel structures holding up power lines. Another writes about the need to replace transformers, before they fail catastrophically and interrupt services. The technology to maintain and repair the transmission lines demands that fossil fuels remain available. For one thing, helicopters are sometimes needed to install or repair transmission lines. Even if repairs are done by truck, oil products are needed to operate the trucks, and to keep the roads in good repair.

Electricity and, in fact, electricity dispensed by an electric grid, is in some sense the high point in our ability to create an energy product that “does more” than fossil fuels. Grid electricity allows electric machines of all types to work. It allows industrial users to create very high temperatures, and to hold them as needed. It allows computerization of processes. It is not surprising that people who are concerned about energy consumption in the future would want to keep heading in the same direction as we have been heading in the past. Unfortunately, this is the expensive, hard-to-maintain direction. Storms often cause electrical outages. We have a never-ending battle trying to keep the system operating.

[3] Our big need for energy is in the winter, when the sun doesn’t shine as much, and we can’t count on the wind blowing.

Clearly, we use a lot of electricity for air conditioning. It is difficult to imagine that air conditioning will be a major energy use for the long-term, however, if we are headed for an energy bottleneck. There is always the possibility of using fans instead, and living with higher indoor temperatures.

In parts of the world where it gets cold, it seems likely that a large share of future energy use will be to heat homes and businesses in winter. To illustrate the kind of seasonality that can result from the use of fuels for heating, Figure 3 shows a chart of US natural gas consumption by month. US natural gas is used for some (but not all) home heating. Natural gas is also used for electricity and industrial uses.

Figure 3. US natural gas consumption by month, based on US Energy Information Administration.

Figure 3. US natural gas consumption by month, based on US Energy Information Administration.

Clearly, natural gas consumption shows great variability, with peaks in usage during the winter. The challenge is to provide electrical supply that varies in a similar fashion, without using a lot of fossil fuels.

[4] If a family burns coal or natural gas directly for winter heat, but then switches to electric heat that is produced using the same fuel, the cost is likely to be higher. If there is a second change to a higher-cost type of electricity, the cost of heat will be even greater.  

There is a loss of energy when fossil fuels or biomass are burned and transformed into electricity. BP tries to correct for this in its data, by showing the amount of fuel that would need to be burned to produce this amount of electricity, assuming a conversion efficiency of 38%. Thus, the energy amounts shown by BP for nuclear, hydro, wind and solar don’t represent the amount of heat that they could make, if used to heat apartments or to cook food. Instead, they reflect an amount 2.6 times as much (=1/38%), which is the amount of fossil fuels that would need to be burned in order to produce this electricity.

As a result, if a household changes from heat based on burning coal directly, to heat from coal-based electricity, the change tends to be very expensive. The Wall Street Journal reports, Beijing’s Plan for Cleaner Heat Leaves Villagers Cold:

Despite electricity subsidies for residential consumers, villagers interviewed about their state-supplied heaters said their overall costs had risen substantially. Several said it costs around $300 to heat their homes for the winter, compared with about $200 with coal.

The underlying problem is that burning coal in a power plant produces a better, but more expensive, product. If this electricity is used for a process that coal cannot perform directly, such as allowing a new automobile production plant, then this higher cost is easily  absorbed by the economy. But if this higher-cost product simply provides a previously available service (heating) in a more expensive manner, it becomes a difficult cost for the economy to “digest.” It becomes a very expensive fix for China’s smog problem. It should be noted that this change works in the wrong direction from a CO2 perspective, because ultimately, more coal must be burned for heating because of the inefficiency of converting coal to electricity, and then using that electricity for heating.

How about later substituting wind electricity for coal-based electricity? China has a large number of wind turbines in the north of China standing idle.  One problem is the high cost of erecting transmission lines that would transport this electricity to urban centers such as Beijing. Also, if these wind turbines were put in place, existing coal plants would operate fewer hours, causing financial difficulties for these coal generating units. If these companies need subsidies in order to continue paying their ongoing expenses (including payroll and debt repayment), this would create a second additional cost. Electricity prices would need to be higher, to cover these costs as well. A family who had difficulty affording heat with coal-based electricity would have an even greater problem affording wind-based electricity.

Heat for cooking and heat for creating hot water are similar to heat for keeping an apartment warm. It is less expensive (both in energy terms and in cost to the consumer) if coal or natural gas is burned directly to produce the heat, than if electricity is used instead. This again, has to do with the conversion efficiency of turning fossil fuels to electricity.

[5] Low energy prices for the consumer are very important. Unfortunately, many analyses of the benefit of wind or of solar give a misleading impression of their true cost, when added to the electric grid. 

How should the cost of wind and solar be valued? Is it simply the cost of installing the wind turbines or solar panels? Or does it include all of the additional costs that an electricity delivery system must incur, if it is actually to incorporate this intermittent electricity into the electric grid system, and deliver it to customers where it is needed?

The standard answer, probably because it is easiest to compute, is that the cost is simply the cost (or energy cost) of the wind turbines or the solar panels themselves, plus perhaps an inverter. On this basis, wind and solar appear to be quite inexpensive. Many people have come to the conclusion that a transition to wind and solar might be helpful, based on this type of limited analysis.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated. Perhaps, the first few wind turbines and solar panels will not disturb the existing electrical grid system very much. But as more and more wind turbines or solar panels are added, there get to be additional costs. These include long distance transmission, electricity storage, and subsidies needed to keep backup electricity-generation in operation. When these costs are included, the actual total installed cost of delivering electricity gets to be far higher than the cost of the solar panels or wind turbines alone would suggest.

Energy researchers talk about the evaluation problem as being a “boundary issue.” What costs really need to be considered, when a decision is made as to whether it makes sense to add wind turbines or solar panels? Several other researchers and I feel that much broader boundaries are needed than are currently being used in most published analyses. We are making plans to write an academic article, explaining that current Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) calculations cannot really be compared to fossil fuel EROEIs, because of boundary issues. Instead, “Point of Use” EROEIs are needed. For wind and solar, Point of Use EROEIs will vary with the particular application, depending on the extent of the changes required to accommodate wind or solar electricity. In general, they are likely to be far lower than currently published wind and solar EROEIs. In fact, for some applications, they may be less than 1:1.

A related topic is return on human labor. Return on human labor is equivalent to how much a typical worker can afford to buy with his wages. In [4], we saw a situation where the cost of heating a home seems to increase, as a transition is made from (a) burning coal for direct use in heating, to (b) using electricity created by burning coal, to (c) using electricity created by wind turbines. This pattern is eroding the buying power of workers. This direction ultimately leads to collapse; it is not the direction that an economy would generally intentionally follow. If wind and solar are truly to be helpful, they need to be inexpensive enough that they allow workers to buy more, rather than less, with their wages.

[6] If we want heat in the winter, and we are trying to use solar and wind, we need to somehow figure out a way to store electricity from summer to winter. Otherwise, we need to operate a double system at high cost.

Energy storage for electricity is often discussed, but this is generally with the idea of storing relatively small amounts of electricity, for relatively short periods, such as a few hours or few days. If our real need is to store electricity from summer to winter, this will not be nearly long enough.

In theory, it would be possible to greatly overbuild the wind and solar system relative to summer electricity needs, and then build a huge amount of batteries in order to store electricity created during the summer for use in the winter. This approach would no doubt be very expensive. There would likely be considerable energy loss in the stored batteries, besides the cost of the batteries themselves. We would also run the risk of exhausting resources needed for solar panels, wind turbines, and/or batteries.

A much more workable approach would be to burn fossil fuels for heat during the winter, because they can easily be stored. Biomass, such as wood, can also be stored until needed. But it is hard to find enough biomass for the whole world to burn for heating homes and for cooking, without cutting down an excessively large share of the world’s trees. This is a major reason why moving away from fossil fuels is likely to be very difficult.

[7] There are a few countries that use an unusually large share of electricity in their energy mixes today. These countries seem to be special cases that would be hard for other countries to emulate.

Data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy indicates that the following countries have the highest proportion of electricity in their energy mixes.

  • Sweden – 72.7%
  • Norway – 69.5%
  • Finland – 59.9%
  • Switzerland – 57.5%

These are all countries that have low population and a significant hydroelectric supply. I would expect that the hydroelectric power is very inexpensive to produce, especially if the dams were built years ago, and are now fully paid for. Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland also have electricity from nuclear providing about a third of each of their electricity supplies. This nuclear electricity was built long ago, and thus is now paid for as well. The geography of countries may also reduce the use of traffic by cars, thus reducing the portion of gasoline in their energy mixes. It would be difficult for other countries to create equivalently inexpensive large supplies of electricity.

In general, rich countries have higher electricity shares than poorer countries:

  • OECD Total – (Rich countries) – 2015 – 44.5%
  • Non- OECD (Less rich countries) – 2015 – 39.3%

China is an interesting example. Its share of energy use from electricity changed as follows from 1985 to 2015:

  • China – 1985 – 17.5%
  • China – 2015 – 43.6%

In 1985, China seems to have used most of its coal directly, rather than converting it for use as electricity. This was likely not difficult to do, because coal is easy to transport, and it can be used for many heating needs simply by burning it. Later, industrialization allowed for much more use of electricity. This explains the rise in its electricity ratio to 43.6% in 2015, which is almost as high as the rich country ratio of 44.5%. If the electricity ratio rises further, it will likely be because electricity is being put to use in ways where it has less of a cost advantage, or even has a cost disadvantage, such as for heating and cooking.

[8] Hydroelectric power is great for balancing wind and solar, but it is available in limited quantities. It too has intermittency problems, limiting how much it can be counted on. 

If we look at month-to-month hydroelectric generation in the US, we see that it too has intermittency problems. Its high month is May or June, when snow melts and sends hydroelectric output higher. It tends to be low in the fall and winter, so is not very helpful for filling the large gap in needed electricity in the winter.

Figure 4. US hydroelectric power by month, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Figure 4. US hydroelectric power by month, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

It also has a problem with not being very large relative to our energy needs. Figure 5 shows how US hydro, or the combination of hydro plus solar plus wind (hydro+S+W), matches up with current natural gas consumption.

Figure 5. US consumption of natural gas compared to hydroelectric power and to compared to wind plus solar plus hydro (hydro+W+S), based on US Energy Information Administration data.

Figure 5. US consumption of natural gas compared to hydroelectric power and compared to hydro plus wind plus solar (hydro+W+S), based on US Energy Information Administration data.

Of course, the electricity amounts (hydro and hydro+S+W) are “grossed up” amounts, showing how much fossil fuel energy would be required to make those quantities of electricity. If we want to use the electricity for heating homes and offices, or for cooking, then we should compare the heat energy of natural gas with that of hydro and hydro+S+W. In that case, the hydro and hydro+S+W amounts would be lower, amounting to only 38% of the amounts shown.

This example shows how limited our consumption of hydro, solar, and wind is compared to our current consumption of natural gas. If we also want to replace oil and coal, we have an even bigger problem.

[9] If we need to get along without fossil fuels for electricity generation, we would have to depend greatly on hydroelectric power. Hydro tends to have considerable variability from year to year, making it hard to depend on.

Nature varies not just a little, but a lot, from year to year. Hydro looks like a big stable piece of the total in Figures 1 and 2 that might be used for balancing wind and solar’s intermittency, but when a person looks at the year by year data, it is clear that the hydro amounts are quite variable at the country level.

Figure 3. Electricity generated by hydroelectric for six large European countries based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Figure 6. Electricity generated by hydroelectric for six large European countries based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

In fact, hydroelectric power is even variable for larger groupings, such as the six countries in Figure 6 combined, and some larger countries with higher total hydroelectric generation.

Figure 4. Hydroelectricity generated by some larger countries, and by the six European countries in Figure 3 combined.

Figure 7. Hydroelectricity generated by some larger countries, and by the six European countries in Figure 6 combined, based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

What we learn from Figures 6 and 7 is that even if a great deal of long distance transmission is used, hydro will be variable from year to year. In fact, the variability will be greater than shown on these charts, because the quantity of hydro available tends to be highest in the spring, and is often much lower during the rest of the year. (See Figure 4 for US hydro.) So, if a country wants to depend on hydro as its primary source of electricity, that country must set its expectations quite low in terms of what it can really count on.

And, of course, Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries don’t have any hydroelectric power at all. Middle Eastern countries tend not to have biomass, either. So if these countries choose to use wind and solar to assist in electrical generation, and want to balance their intermittency with something else, they pretty much need to use something that is locally available, such as natural gas. Other countries with very low amounts of hydro (or none at all) include Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Netherlands, and South Africa.

These issues provide further reasons why countries will want to continue using fossil fuels, and perhaps nuclear, if they can.

[10] There has been a misunderstanding regarding the nature of our energy problem. Many people believe that we will “run out” of fossil fuels, or that the price of oil and other fuels will rise very high. In fact, our problem seems to be one of affordability: energy prices don’t rise high enough to cover the rising cost of producing electricity and other energy products. Adding wind and solar tends to make the problem of low commodity prices worse.   

Ultimately, consumers can purchase only what their wages will allow them to purchase. Rising debt can help as well, for a while, but this has limits. As a result, lack of wage growth translates to a lack of growth in commodity prices, even if the cost of producing these commodities is rising. This is the opposite of what most people expect; most people have never considered the possibility that peak energy will come from low prices for all types of energy products, including uranium. Thus, we seem to be facing peak energy demand (represented as low prices), arising from a lack of affordability.

We can see the problem in the example of the Beijing family with a rising cost of heating its apartment. Economists would like to think that rising costs translate to rising wages, but this is not the case. If rising costs are the result of diminishing returns (for example, coal is from deeper, thinner coal seams), the impact is similar to growing inefficiency. The inefficient sector needs more workers and more resources, leaving fewer resources and workers for other more efficient sectors. The result is an economy that tends to contract because of growing inefficiency.

If we want to operate a double system, using wind and solar when it is available, and using fossil fuels at other times, the cost will be very high. The problem arises because the fossil fuel system has many fixed costs. For example, coal mines and natural gas companies need to continue to pay interest on their loans, or they will default. Pipelines need to operate 365 days per year, regardless of whether they are actually full. The question is how to get enough funding for this double system.

One pricing system for electricity that doesn’t work well is the “market pricing system” based on each producer’s marginal costs of production. Wind and solar are subsidized, so they tend to have negative marginal costs of production. It is impossible for any other type of electricity producer to compete in this system. It is well known that this system does not produce enough revenue to maintain the whole system.

Sometimes, additional “capacity payments” are auctioned off, to try to fix the problem of inadequate total wholesale electricity prices. If we believe the World Nuclear Organization, even these charges are not enough. Several US nuclear power plants are scheduled for closing, indirectly because this pricing methodology is making older nuclear power plants unprofitable. Natural gas prices have also been too low for producers in recent years. This electricity pricing methodology is one of the reasons for this problem as well, in my opinion.

A different pricing system that works much better in our current situation is the utility pricing system, or “cost plus” pricing. In this system, prices are determined by regulators, based on a review of all necessary costs, including appropriate profit margins for producers. In the case of a double system, it allows prices to be high enough to cover all the needed costs, including the extra long distance transmission lines, plus all of the high fixed costs of fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, operating for fewer hours per year.

Of course, these much higher electricity rates eventually will become unaffordable for the consumer, leading to a cutback in purchases. If enough of these cutbacks in purchases occur, the result will be recession. But at least the electricity system doesn’t fail at an early date because of inadequate profits for its producers.


The possibility of making a transition to an all-renewables system seems virtually impossible, for the reasons I have outlined above. I have outlined many other issues in previous posts:

The topic doesn’t seem to go away, because it is appealing to have a “solution” to what seems to be a predicament with no solution. In a way, wind and solar are like a high-cost placebo. If we give these to the economy, at least people will think we are treating the problem, and maybe our climate problem will get a little better.

Meanwhile, we find more and more real life problems with intermittent renewables. Australia has had a series of blackouts. A several-hour blackout in South Australia was tied partly to the high level of intermittent energy on the grid. The ways of reducing future recurrences appear to be very expensive.

Antonio Turiel has written about the problems that Spain is encountering. Spain added large amounts of wind and solar, but these have not been available during a recent cold spell. It added gas by pipeline from Algeria, but now Algeria has cut back on the amount it is supplying. It has added transmission lines north to France. Now, Turiel is concerned that Spain’s electricity prices will be persistently higher, because he believes that France has not taken sufficient preparations to meet its own electricity needs. If there were little interconnectivity between countries, France’s electricity problems would stay in France, rather than adversely affecting its neighbors. A person begins to wonder: Can transmission lines have an adverse impact on new electricity supply? If a country can hope that “the market” will supply electricity from elsewhere, does that country take adequate steps to provide its own electricity?

In my opinion, the time has come to move away from believing that everything that is called “renewable” is helpful to the system. We now have real information on how expensive wind and solar are, when indirect costs are included. Unfortunately, in the real world, high-cost is ultimately a deal killer, because wages don’t rise at the same time. We need to understand where we really are, not live in a fairy tale world produced by politicians who would like us to believe that the situation is under control.

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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2,531 Responses to The “Wind and Solar Will Save Us” Delusion

  1. Pintada says:

    Some of you may enjoy these slides.

    So, Ms. Tverberg, Where is the financial crash I was promised? Will I have to wait for AGW to finish us off after all? AGW will not cause complete extinction by 2025, but it will crash the economy/civilization by then. As you know I was counting on peak affordable oil to do it sooner.

  2. Glenn Stehle says:

    Natural gas prices in Australia continue to skyrocket into the blue empyrean.

    As the hefty price tag of virtue signally begins to hit their pocketbooks, maybe Australians will eventually figure out that banning fracking wasn’t such a good idea

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        Nice job of cherry picking data.

        If we look at total US liquids production from the EIA’s January 2017 Montly Energy Review, however, it paints an entirely different picture. Year-end production for 2016 ended up almost in the same place it did in 2014 and 2015.

        You present only the negative, and omit the positive. There’s this, for instance, from the EIA’s February 2017 Permian Region Drilling Productivity Report:

        Oh well, if the age of oil won’t give up the ghost by itself, maybe the “keep it in the ground,” anti-fracking and political activists can do something to insure a more speedy death.

        • Volvo740 says:

          Glenn. This site is about finding the truth in economics, geology and how the world works more generally. The ‘keep it in the ground’ and movements are just recognizing that the carbon budget is 0. There is nothing wrong with pushing that agenda.

          The predicament (i.e. unsolvable problem) is that the goals are conflicting. I.e. we have to keep burning oil, coal and gas in order to preserve BAU for a little longer. But at the same time we have to stop burning today. We clearly can’t do both.

          From a global perspective it’s quite obvious that coal, oil and gas will peak and decline at some point. It doesn’t matter to me whether the peak was in 2005, 2008, 2016 or 2023. The end result is the same.

          If you disagree with oil fields growing peaking and later declining in production then perhaps you can explain why Norway isn’t producing what it used to:

          • Artleads says:

            “The predicament (i.e. unsolvable problem) is that the goals are conflicting. I.e. we have to keep burning oil, coal and gas in order to preserve BAU for a little longer. But at the same time we have to stop burning today. We clearly can’t do both.”

            Well, there’s that 90% reduction in energy previously mentioned. If you can thrive on 90% less energy and still get some critical industrial needs met that would be a way to reduce the FF burning, which is more doable than stopping burning entirely, but still dramatic.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              How many times does it need to be explained to you that BAU Lite is not possible?

              a) 1,000 times
              b) 25,876 times
              c) 7,698,981 times
              d) 790,987,877,965,876,908,906,841,987,546,986 times
              e) explained more times than there are planets in the universe – it will not matter — I am incapable of understanding that BAU LIte is not possible

              If e) please let us know so we stop trying to hit the target….

            • Greg Machala says:

              BAU-Lite is like a night club when the music and booze stop flowing and the lights come on. You can pretend the party is still going on but it really isn’t. And the illusion is difficult to keep up with bright lights of reality shining upon the once glorious party.

            • Artleads says:

              “How many times does it need to be explained to you that BAU Lite is not possible?”

              Well, it needs to be made clear that MORE economic activity that is not fundamentally wasteful or inequitable : a) IS BAU lite, and why; and b) can’t equate to growth of the world economy, and if it can’t, why.

              So here are the questions again that ask for the trillionth explanation. Begging everyone’s extreme patience:

              1) Can the economy grow other than through wasting energy?

              2) Can the economy grow through decreasing rather than increasing inequality?

              3) Assuming that waste and inequality represent a “vertical” type of growth–digging an existing hole deeper–can the economy grow “horizontally”–spreading modest economic growth (of a less wasteful and inequitable type) more widely?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              So the answer is e)

            • Artleads says:

              “BAU-Lite is like a night club when the music and booze stop flowing and the lights come on. You can pretend the party is still going on but it really isn’t. ”

              So assuming that the party is willfully self destructive, can’t shining a light on it, telling people, sorry, the party is over, get tf home and sober up…can’t that be acceptable alternative to the party?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Not for 7.5 billion people whose only home has been the party….

              We’ve been partying since we took our first breath…. in fact we were partying from the moment of conception because our mammas hooked us up to the BAU food supply immediately

            • Artleads says:

              When we say that BAU crashes if it doesn’t grow, does that mean that the FF industry will crash if it doesn’t grow?

              The FF industry runs everything we buy in the store, makes computers, antibiotics…everything. But apparently the FF industry is falling down through nobody’s fault. Can’t hold it up no matter how you try. The erroneous conclusion from this is that when it crashes and people, all of a sudden, go bat… crazy and murder one another. Civilization comes to a jolting conclusion.

              But can civilization persist on 90% less ff energy through dictatorship (of an as yet undetermined kind)?

              Factions of TPTB, in an effort to avoid total extinction, are contemplating killing off a rather large part of the human population. It could happen suddenly. And comfy westerners who are so extravagant might well be targeted first. So sitting and dreaming that our comfortable, unexamined, BAU lifestyle is our best option makes no sense. It will inevitably end, and the certainty as to exactly how seems misplaced. Might as well consider what life could be like with 90% less FFs, whatever economic and social arrangements it would take to maintain survival. It would not be about the sacred rights and entitlements of the FF industry.

              What do we need FF for that might ensure a level of order and survival? We would need it: to safeguard nuclear facilities; to support the military; to stave off massive epidemic (and there isn’t only one way to attempt that); to manufacture cardboard (a likely main industrial material of the future).

              Local and regional communities would need to scrape together whatever FFs they could. The FF industry could transform itself in some way, or not. All the millions of jobs based on the FF industry could go away (TOUGH!) or not There are millions of other things to do. Not in the current system though. There is the prospect for several types of economic arrangements, ranging from bartering to some sort of mainstream economic order that isn’t the same as the current one. There is the prospect of a military-run economic system among the mix. There can’t be a one-size-fits-all economic system. The energy to run that, or the resources, are simply not there. So think decentralization with a strong connecting thread that ensures order.

              Many things that now run on FFs would be run by muscle. Want water stored in the tops of tall buildings so it could flow to lower sites by gravity? Windmills of the pre-industrial sort could help. That doesn’t quite work? There’s the option of lining up a thousand people and relaying buckets of water till they reach the top. No metal to make the buckets? Make them out of cardboard. Don’t know how to do that? Too slow to get it? TOUGH. Learn!!!!!

              To the best of my understanding, people who can figure out how to be self-sufficient in their local communities and not make trouble have a fighting chance. Want to run around and cut down trees for firewood, think twice, for somebody will KILL YOU! I see cardboard, dictatorship, spare use of FFs to stave off death and destruction, and a s…load of constructive work in local communities. No more fun and games. The age of the authoritarian is here.

            • “But can civilization persist on 90% less ff energy through dictatorship (of an as yet undetermined kind)?”

              I doubt it. We don’t have the ability to go backward. We couldn’t make widespread use of horses for transport, if we wanted to, for example. We wouldn’t be able to support large urban populations. We wouldn’t have spare parts for the many thing operating today. We would lose banks, electricity, nearly all manufactured goods, pretty much all transported goods, leaving us with not very much.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              You are exhibiting signs of


              Remain indoors … and try to stay calm

            • DJ says:

              Is not money a token for energy?

              Could we keep BAU or go to BAU lite by cutting wages (and government services) by 90%?

              What is the minimum wage in US? $10? And I assume this qualifies you for handouts and subventions.

              Is it possible to thrive, or even survive living under a bridge, in US on $1 per hour?

          • Artleads says:


            1) Can the economy grow other than through wasting energy?

            2) Can the economy grow through decreasing rather than increasing inequality?

            3) Assuming that waste and inequality represent a “vertical” type of growth–digging an existing hole deeper–can the economy grow “horizontally”–spreading modest economic growth more widely?

            • If we had a great deal more very cheap energy (oil under $20 per barrel), we could grow without increasing inequality. Once energy prices started to rise, we needed “growing complexity” in order to keep growing. With growing complexity, I mean we needed more people with advanced degrees, who get paid more. We need more capital goods, to make more high tech goods. The owners of these capital goods tend to get rich, while others get poor.

              As long as energy is so cheap that it doesn’t matter if we waste it; then we can spread the benefits widely. We will waste a lot of energy, but who cares? Everyone gets a reasonable share. This is the pre-1970 situation. A high school education was enough to get a good paying job.

              Growth depends on an abundance of cheap energy. We can sort of grow, with more complexity, if all we have is expensive energy. But this leads to wealth disparity, and a great deal of concern about “saving” energy.

            • Artleads says:

              Thanks, Gail. You understand and can explain how the economic system works and has worked in modern times. But given that cheap energy is glaringly absent, and would present enormous resource problems if it weren’t, it seems to me that the system is right up against limits.

          • Artleads says:

            “We don’t have the ability to go backward. We couldn’t make widespread use of horses for transport, if we wanted to, for example. We wouldn’t be able to support large urban populations. We wouldn’t have spare parts for the many thing operating today. We would lose banks, electricity, nearly all manufactured goods, pretty much all transported goods, leaving us with not very much.”

            Hmmm. I figured. I was only picking up on a statement made on FW by someone who is much better informed than I. Much to my liking, they had suggested that a way forward with 90% less energy was something to think about. So I was merely speculating on how that fraction of energy could work. But apparently there is no prospect of being limited to 10% of current energy use. Nothing to worry about.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Some of us could cut back to 10% of our personal current energy use and still survive or even thrive. But the economic system as a whole probably can’t cut back by even 10% without collapsing. And since in a sense we live inside the economic system whether we like it or not, we are as dependent on it as fleas on a dog and we would be very unlikely to survive after its collapse.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:


              1. a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.

              Artleads— a sustained drop in GDP of 10% would result in a total collapse of the global economy…

              Let’s revisit the financial crisis — the drop was nowhere near 10% — and we were able to turn this around within a few months….

              Remember what was happening in 2008? Remember the panic? Remember the layoffs? Remember the insolvent banks? Remember how trade had frozen?


            • Artleads says:

              “But the economic system as a whole probably can’t cut back by even 10% without collapsing. And since in a sense we live inside the economic system whether we like it or not, we are as dependent on it as fleas on a dog and we would be very unlikely to survive after its collapse.”

              Which is why I asked about growth, waste and equality within the economic system. I just could never understand why one kind of economic activity–like, say, more tourism which uses mostly embedded energy but, through “spin” primarily, could increase ability to buy “commodities”–wasn’t as good for growth as cutting down the last tree to drill for oil (even if that oil had a detrimental economic function).

              Or why one couldn’t build up a sort of economic “wedge” under one of the Leonardo-dome sticks you wished to replace; the dome would stay up during the replacement because, through prior planning, the other interdependent sticks of the dome were blocked from falling.

              But I’m tired of arguing. Let people believe whatever they wish. Given that we are on a trajectory to extinction with BAU anyway, my being wrong ought not to hurt anybody. I understand that nature and people get walloped every time I spin around. But I won’t stop trying to rectify that wherever I can make a choice to. If someone tries to rant and rave and insult or bully me to willfully kill nature when I have a choice not to (or at least a perceived choice not to) they are wasting their time.

            • Tim Groves says:

              First of all, nobody should be insulting or bully anyone else on OFW merely for expressing different opinions or raising questions. but boys will be boys, and Gail doesn’t like to rule the roost like an old-fashioned school mistress, so anyone who feels insulted or bullied would be well advised to get a thicker skin and ignore the taunts.

              I don’t really understand economics, and I’m not sure that I that a lot of economists understand it either. But I think that money, besides being a medium of exchange and, to some extent, a token for energy, can be viewed as a communication system for allocating resources. Money as capital tells labor and resources where to go and what to do. As prices, it tells buyers and sellers what to buy and sell. And thanks to fractional reserve banking and the miracle of compound interest, it takes wealth out of some pockets and puts it into others. this view is admittedly cartoonish, but money/finance is vital for coordinating and directing how the economy works. As an individual human, I can go live under a bridge and hunt, gather and beg for my living. But the overall economy is like an organism that needs sufficient flows of energy and money in order to continue existing.

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        And take a look at the new-well oil production per rig, the EIA’s metric for rig productivity, in the Permian Basin.

        It’s almost five-fold what it was in 2013.

        This is not good news for the end-timers sitting around longing for the last gasps of the age of oil.

        • Kurt says:

          Ya know, Glenn’s persistence is starting to grow on me.

          • Dr Fast Eddy says:

            Shale follows an interesting business model …. drill thousands of wells… lose money on all of them… solve the problem by drilling more money losing wells…

            I guess the people behind this went to the same business school as those in Germany who decided to shut off their nuclear plants — charge into solar — then realized that the sun does not always shine — so charged into a coal fired plant building spree — and declared success.

            I think we’re turning DelusiSTANI

            I think we’re turning DelusiSTANI

            I really think so

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              I think we’re turning DelusiSTANI

              I think we’re turning DelusiSTANI

              I really think so

              Baghdad Bob aka Glenn probably didn’t get that one lol

        • Remember we have too much oil, not too little. The problem is affordability.

        • Greg Machala says:

          So Permian Basin oil production is: “almost five-fold what it was in 2013. If you put enough money into extraction of any kind it is possible. You can mine gold from the oceans if you wish. Just because you can get the oil does not make it net energy positive.

          • Dr Fast Eddy says:

            I seem to recall a visual filled with red ink re shale…. now where is that visual…. hmmmm….

        • BinderDundat says:

          I find Glenn’s post annoying. Like the guy who always wants to be different just because. I’ve worked with many with that style, mostly in government or come n go contractors, I’m too old to waste time with the type. In business we’d listen to their perspective and ignore it afterwards to make progress. Then see a new one a couple months later full of the same bs. I pity their spouses.

    • Pintada says:

      Dear Glenn;

      Maybe Australians prefer to have drinking water vs fracked gas with an EROEI of 4.

      Can’t be sure,

    • This is what the natural gas drillers have been hoping for–really high natural gas prices. With really high prices, if they would stay there, might enable them to get more natural gas out. Fracking would also help, of course.

  3. Craig Moodie says:

    BB, The truth hurts, doesnt it. Ýou are the perfect example of what he refers to as ignorant.

  4. Lastcall says:

    Fossil fuels equals Freedom; once they have gone so has our freedom, a part of which is the ‘democratic experiment’.

    I once said this to small group having a tea break and it was not well received; I was told that I had a gloomy outlook!! Next topic was Tesla …and I now usually keep my thoughts to myself!!

    It is hard though; A few days ago I was at a cafe picking up my drug of choice, when a largish refrigerated truck pulled up; out came two small shopping bags of lettuce leaves to be used in the cafe kitchen. The truck had come from a town nearly 2 hours drive away and must have been on a delivery circuit stopping at all the small cafes etc. I am positive the truck used more energy sitting there and idling while the delivery took place than there was energy in those lettuce leaves. There be the 10 calories to 1 in action!

    Finally, re- previous democratic episodes; I think in all cases once the local ‘total energy resources’ were exhausted so were the freedoms available. Energy comes in many forms; newly discovered forests/trees, fresh soils, new slaves, new ores, new species and finally, the fossil fuels.

    • Can relate, I do often catch myself watching it and calculating at similar scenes.

      However, we can also grow and rejuvenate things like topsoils and diversity, even so without large fossil inputs, it can be done at rate of approx. in just one long human life going from almost zero organic depleted content in soil into rich ~15″ layer like before human exctractive settlement began. When used leverage of some fossil fuel tools, the process could be sped up to ~45-60yrs, but even after first ~20yrs it’s getting resilient and substantial enough. But we likely blew that last chance in 1970s to apply that knowledge on some sort of crash program universally, simply in short summary poly cultures growth the soil. With few rare exceptions this has not been pursued past several thousand years, rather constantly occupying new unspoiled niches and in the last phase just pumping it up with chemical crutches was “an easier” method. I’d venture to say, looking at the zealot mindset throughout it, there must have been some deep human underlying genetic mutation at work – some maladaption causing it, most likely originating at the time people started domesticated themselves, breeding individual annuals also as defense mechanism against invading other tribes, to be on the escape/move etc., so that’s what, ~5-10k yrs of ongoing detour a grave compounded mistake ?

      Big paradigm change is needed, which is unlikely now with entrapped minds and self destructing complex systems, so this will be a task for the few survivors operating in a new world to speak. Therefore it is likely to expect, only very limited pockets will be rejuvenated on the human stewardship afterwards in those early stages, large areas could be further lost to deserts, invasive species run wild, toxic hazard areas among past civilization hub ruins etc. Simply, there is tons of work ahead for offspring of the “lucky ones” going through the most tiny bottleneck of the concluding fossil fuel era.
      Is it a curse or blessing to appear on the other side of the bottle neck?

      • Rainydays says:

        Interesting thoughts regarding breeding annuals!

        Another psychological problem I have been thinking about. Leaders/politicians seem to have strong personalities, they want to conquer others through speech/force and accumulate power and wealth for their own people/nation. I believe you could say the contrary about collapse-aware minds who seem more humble, empathetic, deep-thinking and ascetic. These two mindsets, the leader and the collapsenik, are not compatible.

        The end result is that we never get leaders who are aware of our predicament.

      • Stinging Nettle says:

        I think we passed the point of no return when we built the first nuclear reactor

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        worldofhanumanotg says:

        Big paradigm change is needed, which is unlikely now with entrapped minds and self destructing complex systems, so this will be a task for the few survivors operating in a new world to speak.

        This is an example of the “transformation through collapse” narrative Matthew Schneider-Mayerson spoke of in Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture.

        Many peak oilers, Schneider-Mayerson observed, “imagine a post-peak world that is simpler, smaller, and more local.”

        As Schneider-Mayerson goes on to explain:

        At a historical moment when radical change through social movements or electoral politics seems unlikely to many Americans, the prophecy of national regeneration through crisis provides a means of imagining a significantly different world….

        Peakists saw oil depletion as a historical event that might finally bring about a revolutionary transformation and put an end to American imperialism and even capitalism. This change would be achieved not by a social movement but by the petroleum-powered American way of life tripping over its limits…..

        However we categorize peakism — as an ideology, a religion, or a form of radical environmentalism — it is clear that the peak oil ideology drew on various strands of millennial theology.

        — MATTHEW SCHNEIDER-MAYERSON, Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture

        • Glenn Stehle says:

          And for revolutionary thinkers, “destructing complex systems” is a prerequisite for the world-tranformation of humankind into what the Russian revolutionaries variously called the “new people,” the “thinking proletariat,” the “critically thinking personalities” or the “cultural pioneers.”

          Regeneration through destruction can be seen, for instance, in the following writings by the Russian anarchist thinker Mikhail Bakunin:

          Let us trust the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternally creative source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too….

          The star of revolution will rise high and independent above Moscow from a sea of blood and fire, and will turn into a lodestar to lead a liberated humanity.

          — MIKHAIL BAKUNIN, Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, edited Arthur Lehning

          Bakunin’s fanatical nihilism, as Michael Allen Gillespie notes in Nihilism Before Nietzsche, unfortunately eclipsed the more constructive elements of his thought:

          The constructive side of Bakunin’s anarchism which might have helped to counteract the organizaitonal centralism of later socialism was overshadowed by this mystical emphasis on the powers of negation.

          — MICHAEL ALLEN GILLESPIE, Nihilism Before Nietzsche

      • xabier says:

        Yes we missed the last chance.

        In England up to the mid-20th century, contracts for leasing farm land were very specific about the obligation of the tenant to maintain soil quality, and very specific about what was to be manured and treated and exactly how it was to be done.

        Owners of land were well aware that a tenant would be tempted to exhaust the land during his occupancy and move on leaving it useless and degraded.

        Then came chemical farming, or ‘muck’ as the old-timers called it……..

        Someone mentioned to me that some idiot on the radio the other day said that there is no need to England to have any farm land at all, as ‘all necessary food can be imported.’

        What I suspect is the last urban build-out is being actively pursued here now: who needs farmland? Pour that concrete!

        • Yes, you are correct, I didn’t write about it specifically, but the limits to more people and more agri output were always stretched bit by bit. Be it getting hands at new lands abroad, continuous deforestation (look at photos from late 19th century), more intensive management practices. Yet in some countries and in specific periods it was possible to sort of at least manage and slow the speed of soil destruction as per your UK example.
          But with the onslaught of oil and natgas availability, it was like abandoning almost all rational thought. Now we have got generations of absolutely clueless people in the sector, which are over dependent on direct subsidies, focused predominantly on milk and monocultures, leasing large machines and maintaining gargantuan buildings for all of it. While most of it is not needed.

      • There are a bunch of mineral resources that have been depleted from the soil. I don’t see how you plan to put them back in, except from gathering them up from other places in the globe and shipping them back. We will have a hard time getting them back from the ocean, where many went.

        • Greg Machala says:

          “There are a bunch of mineral resources that have been depleted from the soil” – Yes our predicament is multi-faceted and spans many disciplines. So, getting the full picture is difficult. Thanks Gail for putting so many disparate disciplines under one roof.

        • Please read up on the matter more into depth.

          In reality and speaking about rich deep soils with living poly cultures, fungi, micro and macro critters, .. , couple of “magic tricks happen”, some of the minerals are sequestered from deeper layers, plus and more importantly the complex living environment is performing something like an advanced chemistry reprocessing, could be even called a transmutation, thanks to key input pipelines of photosynthesis, carbon capture, work with the oxygen and CO2, and moisture management, plus at the ground level animal pressures and fertilization. Otherwise re-building up soil wouldn’t be possible in the first place..

          The planet evolved that way without us, now I’m not the guy responsible for some past dogmas, which we acquired only because of wrong understanding and past habits of taking more produce out of the habitat, than it can rejuvenate (on proper time scale – usually not human desired scale). Moreover, that doesn’t mean the efficiency is lower, no it’s higher in polycultures, which feeds more people than monocultures. As I mentioned previously, the way we likely mal-adapted throughout the domestication phase (and perhaps way earlier) is that primary urge of control, kill/deny/force other humans, which is more convenient for the monocultures preference of development. Simply, in polycultures if you severely decrease the variety (sort of guilds) of plants or kill their associate layers of animal species (or both) the resilient system doesn’t fully recover from certain threshold, and by way of humanoid action it then slides into monoculture operation, hence the documented early catastrophes of many agrarian civilizations BC. Some examples of polycultures thrived for a while, but usually on the conditions of granted exclusivity/seclusion/protection, e.g. bordering on pass-less high mountain range, deep jungle shielding from plains etc., so they could not be easily attacked and destroyed by enraged monoculturarists on the stampede to find yet another place to plunder..

          That line of reasoning confirms my suspicion, the situation in reality could be even worse, as these human traits might have been going far longer into our past before the proper domestication-agriculture phase appeared. If this is correct, we can go further, and in related vein this could strengthen the concept, we already discussed here some time ago, that humans were broad up only as massive terra-forming agent, with the real role/goal to only quickly snap planet’s ecosystem into some next phase, which of them were many before and likely many others to follow. Clearly, in this sub scenario are the fast instadoomers sadly correct, it’s futile to mount any plans and preps.

          Yes, in the other domain (of monocultures), you are right, without externally feeding the operation, the tiny living leftover layer atrophies fast, becomes dead matter, minerals and all the rest of it is flushed into the river stream and ocean.

          • The point is that we have for many years been growing food, feeding it to humans or animals, and never getting the waste products back to the soil. We can sort of somewhat fix that, on a small scale, by allowing animals to graze, and putting some manure back in. We can also add biomass from nearby areas, to help restore fertility. I am doubtful that we really can fix soils back to where they need to be, on a large enough scale to fix all of today’s agricultural soil, without starting to add back minerals that have been lost, and cannot be easily added back by local biomass or allowing animals to graze there.

            • Although important part, as I tried to explain it’s not “only mechanistic” matter of returning back more animals/manure or biomass carbon (not burning it in “renewables economy” for electricity) in scale enough. Also it’s not about lost minerals either. The polyculture model creates topsoil life rapidly “out of nothing” meaning air (and moisture) + sunshine, thanks to the “magic” of supporting the very billions of creatures per few cubic inches, extensively commingling between the roots of the multitude of diverse plants and fungi. We can look at it from angle as if another, much higher leverage takes place, you are basically having bazillions of tiny (&unpaid) co-workers per your farm acreage, constantly working and increasing in size. Thus replacing the whole artificial chain of chemical and exctractive industries needed in conventional fossil farming per the same or even higher output, when it goes in top gear in later stages of soil build up. The thing is we have been hardwired by path dependencies for different system in monocultures for so long, just makes it seemingly difficult to understand.

              As to timing and propensities, likelyhood to change, in terms of mass adoption, I’m skeptical as well, especially if there is probably only few yrs time left before even bigger crash than the last one. On the other hand phase shifts tend to occur when abrupt change comes a long, and crash in which debt and subsidies evaporate, starvation looms again, could bring it on out of sheer desperation, somewhere.

            • It is my understanding that minerals from underlying rock that very slowly erode play an important role as well. The total quantity of topsoil is important as well; it tends to blow away with cultivation.

              There are theoretical fixes that will work in a few small plots, here and there. Our problem is a much bigger one, if we really want to try to feed the current population.

            • Greg Machala says:

              ” We can sort of somewhat fix that, on a small scale,” – I agree. It is the scale of the problem that people are missing. Too much local thinking going on in here. One has to think on a bigger scale than that to really understand the gravity the predicament we face. If solutions cannot be readily scaled up then they are not solutions and just add more complexity that hastens collapse.

        • Chris Harries says:

          Australia’s low phosphate soils required the mining of the Pacific island of Nauru until that island became not much more than a disused mining site, with a remnant population of very impoverished people. A century of phosphate mining, now it is gone.

          The sequel: What did we do with that wrecked island? We set up an even more impoverished offshore detention centre there – to imprison hundreds of refugees who were fleeing other places in the world. Nauru’s fertiliser economy came to en end, now it’s replying on a hand out to run a Guantanamo Bay-like facility on behalf of Australia.

          This is what Our Finite World is starting to look like under BAU.

          • This doesn’t sound like a very good outcome!

          • Tim Groves says:

            Once a proud and independent people living for thousands of years in a tropical paradise until their contact with “civilization”, for a short while in the late 1960s and early 70s, the citizens of Nauru became the world’s richest on a per capita basis. All due to phosphate mining. But as everybody knows, you can’t trust aboriginals with money. These days they are among the world’s poorest people, living mainly on handouts mostly from Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand. It’s a truly miserable story.

        • Niels Colding says:

          Interesting but, alas, in Danish – it is about “glacier flour” or “glacier mud” in Greenland. Contains minerals that the depleted soil needs.

          Maybe Minik Rosing has written an essay on that topic in English somewhere.

          • Google translate can help. According to it:

            The idea of ​​glacial flour came from the idea that the most nutrient-rich soils in the world is where the last Ice Age stopped, told Minik Rosing in May to DR.

            – The ice crusher substrate and the base material and is new fresh mineral nutrition on the ground in front of them (…). Now is the last remnant of ice in Greenland and pumps the same material out.

            And it’s something that might be beneficial to organic farmers, who are looking for natural fertilizers, and farmers in the tropics, where the soil is exhausted by the heat.

      • xabier says:

        I would suggest that ‘Man, steward of nature’ -one of the greatest delusions – has revealed himself in his true colours in the 20th century: not so much a careful and wise steward, as a deranged and retarded janitor, dousing everything in noxious chemicals during work hours, and retreating when off duty to his basement room to ponder whatever the fantasy of the moment happens to be: probably living on Mars……

  5. dolph says:

    The mistake is to assume that everything in the production and consumption economy is necessary.

    In developed world (which is probably something like 25% of total humanity, and 50% of “important” humanity), we long ago passed the point of necessary activity, into entertainment, diversion, delusion, etc. Heck even necessary items like shelter and food are way out of sync. Therefore what will happen is ongoing economic contraction, masked by debt and propaganda.

    In developing world (75% of total humanity, 50% or less of important humanity) they are already at low levels of economic activity, and often triaged out of the global credit system, therefore will be first to experience starvation, war, epidemics, etc. See Middle East (apart from core Gulf oil countries), Latin America, Africa, etc.

    You don’t want to run away and join a tribe. You will die. What you should do is run to anywhere where there is at least an organized level of activity in the industrial service economy, and maintain your job and protection rackets there as long as you can. The core is always preserved at the expense of the periphery. Watch mad max fury road to see this basic truth.

    • Rainydays says:

      Spot on, dolph. When the hottest commodities are stuff like robot lawnmovers and ever more frivolous iGadgets, you know that we have a lot of contraction to live through before we get down to the simple bare necessities.

      • Greg Machala says:

        “When the hottest commodities are stuff like robot lawnmovers and ever more frivolous iGadgets, you know that we have a lot of contraction to live through before we get down to the simple bare necessities.” – yes the bigger they are the harder they fall.

  6. Craig Moodie says:

    While reading through the various comments I get reminded of 2 of my favourite quotes/lyrics.
    The first one comes from the above song “godzilla”, the chorus at the end says it all. ‘History shows again and again how nature points out the follies of man’

    The 2nd comes from HL Mencken, ‘democracy is the pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance’.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      So now we’re trotting out that relentless elitst snob, HL Mencken, to legitimize our democracy bashing?

      Only the Roraring Twenties or our own neoliberal teens could coin such degrading terms like “booboisie” (Mencken) or “the deplorables” (Clinton) to heap scorn and belittlement upon working-class people.

      Mark me up with the booboisie and the deplorables.

      • louploup2 says:

        I prefer this Mencken quote: “As democracy is perfected, the office [of President] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

        BTW, I am as strong a pro-democracy (and anti neoliberal) activist as there is, but I also held a sign at our recent anti-Trump demonstration, “Science is real.” Your posts evince an obliviousness to the reality of decreasing net energy. You constantly avoid that core issue relevant to this site. Learn the Second Law of Thermodynamics and how it relates to human economics. Heroic movie clips tell us little of relevance.

        Regarding the relationship between wealth, inequity, and collapse, start with the HANDY model,

        • Tim Groves says:

          Thank you for linking to this paper. There is quite a lot of math in the model, some of which goes over my head, but the explanation is easy to follow and the introduction, which talks about civilizations collapsing throughout history, was also a good read.

  7. Dave says:


    Bakken oilfield with its huge initial reserves has nevertheless reached its final development stage. There is every indication of the process: the decrease in oil and fluid production, the increase in the watercut and the idle well stock.

    The main reason for the depletion is the progressing water flooding. The bottom-hole pressure decrease caused external formation water break-thought in all the wells. Stopping this process doesn’t seem possible with the current level of technology.

    The rise in the oil prices that has happened has only slightly influenced the scope of drilling. The most productive zones of Bakken in the four counties have already been drilled to the full, and drilling outside them is fraught with the risks of low production rates and accelerated water flooding.

    • Pintada says:

      “The bottom-hole pressure decrease caused external formation water break-thought in all the wells.”

      Which is a euphemism for “the fracking fluid escaped into the environment likely including drinking water aquifers”.

    • JT Roberts says:

      Thanks for the post Dave.

    • So, he claims current shale oil production will last 4-5yrs more at current prices or 7-8yrs at elevated prices, after that it will be very clear US needs 3/4 of its today’s consumption level sourced from foreign oil production. That’s with shale recovery rate – success at only 5-7%, which could be theoretically upgraded in the future, he mentioned this escape route should it happen for some strange reason. But the overall message it’s unlikely. Hm, so many strands providing clue for great fireworks finale ~mid 2020s..

      • Dr Fast Eddy says:

        Meanwhile… the major sources of oil continue not only deplete — but the rate of depletion increases every year….

        Aging giant fields produce more than half of global oil supply and are already declining as group, Cobb writes. Research suggests that their annual production decline rates are likely to accelerate.

        • Yes, that’s understood,
          but the shale/tar mania concealed a sleepy viel around it for a ~decade..

          So, the punches will be hard and coming fast in compressed time frame:

          – US shale dropping fast, “uhm, so wait a minute who’s the boss here now anyway?”
          – mega debts no longer piling up but coming down with the structure
          – global and regional alliances swiftly changing
          – blackouts and grid problem spiking
          – basic supplies and services (incl. energy/food/healthcare) irregularities
          – restless J6Ps demanding change asap in the street demos
          well a stirred cocktail of ~50x such tasty ingredients served in tight ~5-10yrs span window would be shall we say detrimental to ones mental state, not mentioning the supercomplex societies..

          • Greg Machala says:

            I think shale oil and tar sands can work to some extent as long as the bulk of fossil fuel energy comes from cheap, legacy conventional fields. But, once tight oil tries to replace the cheap conventional oil we start to have problems.

    • Dr Fast Eddy says:

      Hey Glenn….. that pokes quite a few holes in your shale delusion …

  8. Dave says:

    “It’s worth noting that U.S. marketed natural gas production is down a little over 1 percent for the 12-month period ending November 2016. During the same 12-month period net imports were about 654 bcf or about 2.7 percent of total consumption. That’s right. The United States remains a net importer of natural gas even as it contemplates a major expansion of LNG export capacity.”

    • The reason for trying to start LNG exports in quantity is to try to raise the price of natural gas. Of course, LNG is not high enough priced anywhere in the world for this to happen right now, but the dream lives on.

  9. JT Roberts says:

    And Globalization has been nothing more or less than the pursuit of less expensive energy/resource inputs. Now that all the cheap stuff is gone bye bye growth and globalization.

    • unfortunately the majority remains convinced that infinite prosperity is something you vote for

      • JT Roberts says:

        What do you mean isn’t that what democracy is all about? 😳

        • er–no

          democracy is the illusion that we vote for political direction of one sort or another, in the sense that our lives will improve—better roads, schools, and so on at each level of government

          and over the past century or so, this has what has happened–we have heat light power a pleasant environment–because we voted for it. (we see that as prosperity)

          except that we didn’t vote for it.

          cheap energy input supplied it, on a once only basis. Voting was part of the grand delusion.

          we have convinced ourselves that democracy gave us all the goodies we enjoy (they are effectively embodied energy). The reality is, that democracy has only existed for the period during which we have had cheap fuel to provide wealth for all. (a common-wealth)
          As cheap fuel declines, our democracy will decline with it—history is very clear on that, as poverty increases, far right fascism rises. (it is happening right now).

          the inevitable result is that people listen to the politics of the extreme—promising “to make America great again” ( Hit-ler said the same thing in 1933) without the slightest awareness of where that greatness came from in the first place.
          So they vote for it, not realising they are voting to make smoke remake itself into wood.
          It won’t work.

          Prior to the mid 1800s, democracy didn’t exist anywhere in any meaningful sense.
          post mid 2100s it will have vanished, because as deprivation takes hold, martial law will become inevitable, under dictatorships.

          And dictators do not listen to voters.

          • Right: Our system is self-organized, around the cheap energy inputs.

            We believe we can control the system, but we really cannot.

            • Greg Machala says:

              “Our system is self-organized, around the cheap energy inputs.” – Yep! The whole show is built off of cheap energy. Now we are struggling just to maintain what we have with moderate to expensive energy. When all the energy is expensive (shale, solar, wind) we will no longer be able to even maintain what we have. Then, the first big weak link that comes along will crash whole party. Modern way of life is so far removed from the way we lived even as short as 100 years ago. And all of that “growth” becomes an illusion very quickly when the interconnected/interdependent/just-in-time nature of our economy unravels.

          • JT Roberts says:

            I completely agree. Democracy has also masked the true intent of Capitalist to exploit global resources. “Making the world safe for democracy ” actuality means safe for corporations to do business. The third world was led to believe that a democratic system was the root of prosperity in Western Countries. Turns out the game never changed the exploitation of the third world was the root of Western Prosperity. Add Religion in as a hedge against Marxist Revolutionary ideas and you got quite an effective system to brain wash the masses.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “hedge against Marxist Revolutionary ideas”

              I have written about this for decades. Here is one from 1985.

              Molecular biologists investigate receptor sites on cells indirectly by determining which molecules fit sites well enough to displace each other since a “lock” can hold only one “key” at a time. With less precision, we can apply similar techniques to investigating possible meme receptor sites.

              An obvious–though no doubt controversial–meme receptor site to examine by this method would be one for a religious meme. We can take self-identification of Catholics or Southern Baptist as evidence of possessing–or being possessed by–clearly religious memes that exclude each other from the proposed receptor site. Cases of a person claiming simultaneous membership in both organizations are rare indeed, but conversions from one to the other, while uncommon, do happen. This suggests that there are a variety of functionally equivalent religious memes that can occupy a religious meme receptor site (RMRS) in a person’s mental space.

              Just as molecular biologists can measure the competition or exclusion among the various molecules that bind to receptor sites, we can measure the competition for meme receptor sites among memes.

              One way to measure this competition for the RMRS is to determine how much possession of a particular meme reduces the probability (compared to the general population) of an individual having this site occupied by something that is clearly a religious meme. Belonging to a religious organization can be taken as evidence for a person’s RMRS probably being filled with a religious meme.

              To take an arbitrary (and to my knowledge untested) example, I would be surprised to find that membership on a bowling team had any influence on claimed membership in a religion.

              On the other hand, membership in the communist party must reduce the probability of being in *any* religious organization by 90% or more. While this does not make communism a religion, it indicates that the communist meme competes strongly for the religious meme receptor site. (This, of course, is not a new observation.)

              continuing here

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            Norman Pagett said:

            The reality is, that democracy has only existed for the period during which we have had cheap fuel to provide wealth for all.

            This is a great example of the sort of historical revisionism that is necessary to sustain one’s quasi-religious belief system. Conveniently omitted from the narrative is this:

            Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is the first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens’.

            It was a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills.


            Also omitted is the fact that the United States’ experiment in democracy — its republican form of democratic governance that was formalized in the 1789 U.S. Constition — commenced well before its age of fossil fuels began. Fossil fuel production in the U.S. didn’t begin in earnest until 1850, six decades after the U.S. Constitution became effective.


            • A Real Black Person says:

              Slaves were the “Cheap energy” in use in the U.S. and other civilized nation-states before fossil fuels.
              The importance of cheap labor has not disappeared when fossil fuels became the U.S.’ main energy source , just diminished.

            • Stinging Nettle says:

              In ancient Athens, the work was done by slaves, so the citizens could go to the agora and play democracy. The citizens were just the males over 18 years old and they were NOT the majority of the population. Your superficiality in addressing the issues has been disturbing but now is becoming hilarious. I know, this is just another quasi-religious belief.

            • JT Roberts says:

              If you give a man enough rope he will eventually hang himself.

            • hate to keep up the disillusion thing,
              but there seems to be little option. you really should study your history in more detail

              Athenian democracy excluded women, and depended on the energy resource of 150000 slaves
              so no—that was not a democracy. Having cheap energy allowed the wealthy to play at calling themselves democratic—-it was just as much an illusion as ours is.

              the American version was run by white men, and excluded women until 1920, (19th Amendment)
              and dependent on slave labour energy resource, nominally until the 1860s, but effectively well after that in labour terms, and particularly in coal mining–that was effectively slave labour even if they got paid, (black or white—–I know, I come from generations of miners)
              I don’t know when the first person of colour was elected to US government office—no doubt someone else will fill that in for me.
              Even now, democracy isn’t fully functional for all

              So again—I do not revise history to prove anything,,,as others have already pointed out.

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Stinging Nettle,

              Norman Pagett asserts, “we have convinced ourselves that democracy gave us all the goodies we enjoy.”

              He then makes this patently false empirical claim: “Prior to the mid 1800s, democracy didn’t exist anywhere in any meaningful sense.”

              Pagett then goes on to make this prediciton:

              post mid 2100s {democracy] will have vanished, because as deprivation takes hold, martial law will become inevitable, under dictatorships.

              And dictators do not listen to voters.

              So what is your argument, Stringing Nettle, that Athenian democracy didn’t give the organizers of Greek society “all the goodies they enjoyed”?

              Are you arguing that Western democracy didn’t give the organizers of Western society “all the goodies they enjoyed”?

              The reason that democracy is pursued is because it offers a superior form of social organization — engendering greater social cohesion and cooperation — than the alternatives. In times of crisis, this is extremely important in achieving national cohesion, without which it is impossible to deal with crisis.

              After all, who emerged from WWII the great global hegemon, the United States or the dictatorships?

              The United States government, instead of pursuing the policies of racial exclusion practiced in Germany and Japan, instead asked for, and received, the support of blacks and hispanics during WWII. Of course after the war this spelled the eventual demise of Jim Crow — the brave men and women who fought in the war weren’t about to settle for second-class citizenship any more.

              You guys sell democracy entirely too short, which I suppose should come as no surprise. Apocalyptacism almost invariably comes packed with an authoritarian, anti-democratic agenda.

            • You must a politician—every real question or point is sidestepped
              but worth another try—i must be a masochist

              in the uk, we had parliaments for centuries, at various levels of involvement

              But as a starter:-
              //////in early-19th-century Britain very few people had the right to vote. A survey conducted in 1780 revealed that the electorate in England and Wales consisted of just 214,000 people – less than 3% of the total population of approximately 8 million. In Scotland the electorate was even smaller: in 1831 a mere 4,500 men, out of a population of more than 2.6 million people, were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. .////////

              prior to that, “parliament consisted of wealthy aristos—the poor provided the energy resource (slaves effectively) from the land owned by aristocrats.

              Notice that male suffrage kicked in as cheap energy became available.
              Cheap energy provided all the goodies we now take for granted—not universal suffrage

              you may now return your head to the sandbucket whence it came.
              Unless a fire break s out—I will not disturb your righteousness again.

            • xabier says:


              Athens was a democracy at one stage (they also revolved through dictatorship, oligarchy and aristocracy, etc).

              It was simply not a universal suffrage democracy.

              In much the same way, the ancient German and Norse tribes did hold general decision-making meetings and vote, but mediated through tribal hierarchies and clan systems. It was however, unwise to ignore what the mass of tribesmen wanted. Similar in old Afghanistan.

              Mass democracies in panic can be manipulated into electing a demagogue who then turns into a dictator….. Trump, however, is clearly not that.

              Actually, what we will most probably see in the first instance of Crisis are not personal dictatorships, but ‘governments of national unity’, in which elections are suspended first temporarily, and then permanently……

            • Wrong again,
              Fossil Fuels are not the core argument here, but energy potential is !

              That’s why mining biomass (topsoil, fisheries, forests, ..) of the large part of “pristine” Club Med (incl. North Africa) and parts of Middle East allowed several waves of ancient civilization booms and busts over the millennia BC. The slavery concept is secondary or tertiary stuff at best in the equation..

              Similarly, the advanced agrarian proto scientific societies of the late 17th and 18th centuries, which started extracting biomass over new continents (NA, Africa and Asia), launched the necessary stage for fossil fuels boom few decades later, also thanks to already monkeying with coal and metal foundries on smaller – simpler scale.

            • Or more precisely = energy potential of the environment vs. affordability boundaries within human society complexity

    • Dave says:

      Shale gas production overall has declined by 4.7% since peaking in February 2016 (down 2.1 billion cubic feet per day…). All shale plays have peaked and older plays, like the Barnett and Haynesville, are down 38% and 52%, respectively.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Unless prices go higher the decline will continue.

        • Greg Machala says:

          Not to mention the abnormally high crude stock inventory close to 80-year record levels at 508 million barrels, There appears to be a limited number of individuals and businesses that can afford the current oil prices too. So, what does that mean if oil prices go even higher? This is a predicament.

          • JT Roberts says:

            I’m wondering if this so called inventory of “crude” is possibly oil that is greater than .47 API

            Maybe there’s no market for it.

        • Dave says:

          “The industry promise of large and growing supplies at low prices was a fiction from the beginning designed to get regulators to approve export facilities that would bring U.S. natural gas prices closer to world levels–and thus make the natural gas industry more profitable.

          There is actually a principled argument for the industry position. But it would be popular neither with voters nor with the legislators who represent them, and the industry understood this. Here is the argument: The natural gas industry should be allowed to sell its products to the highest bidder anywhere in the world just like every other industry in America. If we are now truly in a global economy, then natural gas should become a global commodity and Americans should pay the global price.

          • bandits101 says:

            Playing what if Dave….
            What if, governments distributed energy vouchers instead of helicopter money or in addition to helicopter money.
            What if, in addition to a pension or dole or tax return or food voucher or any other allowance, the government gave cards similar to ration cards that could be punched.
            What if these cards were for electricity and gas and gasoline and oil.
            The governments would pay for the vouchers with printed money. The vouchers would be non-transferable, illegal to trade or sell.
            Is this any different from actually doling out money?
            Would it get the economy moving? Would there be any affect at all?
            Would the energy companies see any benefit?
            Would it provide stimulus for energy companies for exploration and exploitation?
            Would it solve the oil over-storage dilemma?
            Would it deplete already dimininishing resources and raise prices?
            Would economists realise the importance of finite amounts of energy and other resources?

            • every form of money—cash, cards or cowrie shells is an energy voucher

              how we shift those vouchers around is what makes the ‘economy’ function within what we understand as a commercial infrastructure

              if there is insufficient energy in the system to back up those vouchers, then it collapses, no matter how much you dole out

  10. JT Roberts says:

    Interesting report from St Louis Fed. Notice the timing of GDP growth contraction. US domestic oil peak and Global conventional oil peak.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      Fascinating graph. This is what is behind Trump, Brexit and the whole anti-globalization movement.

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        When it comes to globalization and its underlying doctrine, neoliberalism, Trump is a mixed bag. Here’s what Trumpism is looking like so far:

        But regardless of what one thinks about Trump and Trumpism, Trump shares one common heterodoxy with the Our Finite World crowd: He believes abundant and cheap energy is absolutely necessary for a well-functioning economy.

        • troo troo


          El Supremo believes that there IS infinite energy etc etc to sustain the economy forever (or says he does)

          And while OFW folks believe it too—we don’t believe that there is any, hence the well functioning economy is unsustainable

          There is a subtle difference in outlook

          The clue lies in the blog title—OUR—FINITE—WORLD

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            I can’t argue with that.

            Trump definitely believes that the energy vampire can be slain with a combination of fossil fuels and renewables. All his policy proposals thus far point in that direction.

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            Another question is how Trump is going to come down on the Neocon belief — shared by the Republican/Democratic Uniparty — in never-ending war. The jury is still out.

            I like how James Petras explained it:

            [Trump] argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, to secure military alliances and bases, at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts. His presidency promises to change the equation: He wants to tear up or renegotiate unfavorable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments and demands NATO allies shoulder more of their own defense budgets….

            The emphasis on investment and jobs in the US is a complete break with the previous Administration, where President Obama focused on waging multiple wars in the Middle East, increasing public debt and the trade deficit….

            While Trump recognized these changes and the need to renegotiate economic ties, his cabinet appointees seek to extend Obama’s militarist policies of confrontation….

            Early in his campaign, Trump recognized the new world realities and proposed to change the substance, symbols, rhetoric and relations with adversaries and allies – adding up to a New Economy.

            First and foremost, Trump looked at the disastrous wars in the Middle East and recognized the limits of US military power: The US could not engage in multiple, open-ended wars of conquest and occupation in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia without paying major domestic costs.

            Secondly, Trump recognized that Russia was not a strategic military threat to the United States….

            Trump is a capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist, who is willing to trample on women’s rights, climate change legislation, indigenous treaties and immigrant rights. His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda. He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

            Who will win out in the short or long term remains to be seen. What is clear is that the liberals, Democratic Party hacks and advocates of Little Mussolini black shirted street thugs will be on the side of the imperialists and will find plenty of allies among and around the Trump regime.

            President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, An Alternative to Globalization

      • adonis says:

        that graph tells it all good find glenn

  11. Christian says:

    I am somewhat surprised for the balanced and detached political analysis we can find in Forbes. Any explanation?

  12. Dave says:

    Well campers, this may wake up a few who have a Nature Deficiency Disorder:

    * At 445 PM PST, Officials now anticipate a failure of the
    auxiliary spillway in 60 minutes. Residents of Oroville should
    evacuate in a northward direction such as towards Chico

    Other city`s should follow the orders of their local law
    enforcement. Operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe
    erosion that has lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the
    auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release
    of flood waters from Lake Oroville.

    Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville areas
    downstream is ordered. From Oroville to Gridley…low level areas
    around the feather river will experience rapid river rises.

    This is not a Drill. This is not a Drill. Repeat this is not a

    * Locations impacted include…
    Oroville, Palermo, Gridley, Thermalito, South Oroville, Oroville
    Dam, Oroville East and Wyandotte.


    Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
    deaths occur in vehicles.

    Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life.


    Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
    deaths occur in vehicles.

    Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life.


    LAT…LON 3953 12139 3934 12156 3933 12172 3952 12163
    3961 12149


  13. JT Roberts says:

    I wonder if BB believes in supply and demand still? That would be a shame he likely spent a lot of money to get there.

    • There was also an interesting article about Norway in ZH today.
      They said Sweden is can kicking by allowing 50-100yrs mortgages, which essentially becomes a long time horizon rent, but without the easy option to move, it could be adopted now in Norway. If you think it through this scheme will be surely copied globally soon, it’s definitely in the approved direction of both calming the masses from market crashes and establishing quasi feudal order..

      • DJ says:

        Actually since a year ago you have to pay of 2% per year down to 70% and then 1% per year down to 50 %. Also you have to have 15 % down.

        Housing prices used to be limited by interest (didn’t work so sell when interest got down to 1%), now they are limited by this 2 %.

        An underlying assumption is flat or increasing housing prices, it will be impossible to come up with the 15 % if you sell current house with a loss.

  14. JT Roberts says:

    Probably BB could spin climate change as well. Here’s a nice reference that shows the departure we are seeing from the norm.

    • Tim Groves says:

      What norm? The satellite record only goes back 38 years but there is plenty of evidence that the Arctic and its sea ice extent are subject to variations on a roughly 60 year cycle.

      Indeed, there are reams and reams of records and other evidence that suggest the Arctic warmed from the start of the 20th century until the early 1940s, that it cooled from the early 1950s to the late 1970s, and that it has warmed from the early 1980s until recent times.

      The only reason why this evidence is routinely avoided, ignored, minimized or rejected by purveyors of climate alarmism is that it doesn’t fit the narrative they wish to portray. But ignore it or scoff at it, the norm in the Arctic is climate change over a roughly 60 year cycle.

      • Chris Harries says:

        Digging all the millions of tons of fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them and shoving all that carbon dioxide into the air is not a cyclical happening, Tim. We don’t doit every 60 years. Please can insert this one-off, non-cyclical event into your calculations.

        • Justin Time says:

          “millions of tons of fossil fuels”
          “all that carbon dioxide”

          And yet our contribution is a tiny fraction of 0.04% of total CO2 in the atmosphere. All the rest comes from natural sources. Why not single out water vapor? Or methane emissions? Why CO2?

          Why not talk about all the global dimming we cause through our use of airplanes? Or how pollution can have similar effects – sometimes cooling, other times warming.

          Just some honest questions. I don’t have the answers. Too many variables involved to make accurate predictions. So much dogma flying around.

          • zenny says:

            dogma is not the word I was thinking but yea lets go with that.
            Most of the people that I know that are worried about globull warming do not have a clue how to stop it. In short they are one trick ponies moar tax.
            I do not try to wake them up. One of them is about 2 km from a NPP thinks that the tax should go to build more.

            • Justin Time says:

              Well, there’s dogma and then there’s authoritarian demonisation of scepticism. I’m just weary of seeing the denier label being thrown around every time anyone dares to question the official party line. Nobody denies that the climate changes and yet climate denier has become the official phrase simply because it covers all angles.

              And again, how many new nukes would it take worldwide to replace our current fossil fuel consumption? Where would they be situated? How would we handle the extra waste? How would any of this solve the economic problems we have?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” how many new nukes would it take worldwide to replace our current fossil fuel consumption? ”

              That’s easy to figure out, at least approximately. World fossil fuel consumption is close to 15 TW. Figure the new nukes at 1 GW each, this it takes about 15,000 of them.

              They would be just about everywhere. However, the waste would be almost nil since for fuel availability reasons you would have to go to something like an integral fast reactor. That kind of sodium cooled reactor recycles the waste till it is burned up and generates very little that is more radioactive than the ore it came from.

              Of course with that many reactors we would get a meltdown every couple of years.

              It’s the next best thing to power satellites or possibly StratoSolar.

          • louploup2 says:

            These are not “honest questions”, they are denier obfuscations. The answer to your “why nots” is “because they are irrelevant.”

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              In DelusiSTAN yes… but not on FW.

              I think I am in FW… let me check….


              Yes it appears I am….

              The questions stand – and they are relevant.

            • Jesse James says:

              Love the term deniers. I am one.

            • Tim Groves says:

              These are not “honest questions”, they are denier obfuscations.

              Strong words. We could, of course, examine each of the questions in detail in an attempt to answer or refute them. That would be the decent proper scientific response. In this context, we could start by pointing out that the human contribution to the influx of CO2 into the atmosphere has been estimated as about 3%, not the 0.04% that Justin quoted, and that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is currently measured to be about 400ppm or 0.04%, and that we shouldn’t confuse those two things. And we could go on from there.

              Or we could just bring out the “denier” slur, damn the questioner and cast doubt on their honesty. But quite honestly, how’s that been working out for the alarmist movement? Have you converted many people to the cause lately?

              The answer to your “why nots” is “because they are irrelevant.”

              Irrelevant to what? They may be an impediment to people who want to keep pushing the agenda that we have to close down the oil and coal industries, and a threat to the mantra that “the science is settled” and the narrative that 97% of “the experts” agree with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCapprio on the causes and cures for climate change. But why specifically are the questions Justin raises “irrelevant”? And what about his observation that there are too many variables involved to make accurate predictions? Surely that is germane to the debate? I’d like to hear how you came to make such damning judgements.

            • Justin Time says:

              Thanks, that really clears everything up. I had no idea it was so simple. Silly me thinking that human contribution to climate change was an enormously complex subject that is still not resolved and probably never will be since it’s likely there won’t be an industrial civilisation around to care. But hey, since we’re still all here, where do I sign up to pay carbon taxes to globalist institutions? They should know how to fix things right? Last I heard more renewables should do the trick.

              I’m off to scribble “denier” on my forehead. Save other people the trouble of making me wear an armband or whatever it is these days.

            • Justin Time says:

              Hi Tim,

              If there’s anyone I would want to be corrected by it would be you! But I think we’re on the same page as regards the numbers. Maybe the way I worded it was confusing.

              Let’s see, am I correct in stating that 0.04% of the atmosphere is CO2?

              That’s total CO2. Some of that comes from human activity. I may have exagerated about it being a tiny fraction of the total. You say that it’s 3%. Good. That still means that 97% of CO2 in the atmosphere originates from natural causes. That’s all that I really wanted to point out.

              I understand the counter argument to this is that our growing contribution, no matter how relatively small, is enough to cause warming and feedback issues that everyone likes to panic about. And to combat this… we should all pay carbon taxes and build more windmills which ironically requires burning more fossil fuels. And supposedly, I’m a climate denier if I am remotely sceptical about all this.

              Also, can you clear something up for me… is it the CO2 that has been absorbed by the sea or the extra heat in the atmosphere caused by the increase in CO2?

              By the way, thanks for pointing out to Chris the glaring difference between CO2 – the gas – and the effect carbon has as a pollutant in the environment. I hate it when CO2 – plant food – gets labelled as pollution.

              Thank you for maintaining an honest approach to science and not falling for the current abomination that it has become. It’s not just climate science. So many other areas have fallen to corruption.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Hi Justin,

              Thanks for your kind words. Nobody’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes with figures (apart from Gail). It’s nothing to sweat over.

              Let’s see, am I correct in stating that 0.04% of the atmosphere is CO2?

              That’s the correct ballpark figure as measured at the surface at Mauna Loa and elsewhere and from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. It also works out at 400 parts per million or one molecule in every 2,500 in the atmosphere. Alternately, we can say that a litre of atmospheric air contains about 0.4ml of CO2 and a cubic metre (a cube measuring 1m x 1m x 1m) of air contains about 400 cubic centimeters (a cube measuring a bit less than 7.4cm x 7.4cm x 7.4cm; about the size of a standard Rubik’s cube) of CO2.

              That’s total CO2. Some of that comes from human activity. I may have exagerated about it being a tiny fraction of the total. You say that it’s 3%. Good. That still means that 97% of CO2 in the atmosphere originates from natural causes.

              It is a lot more difficult to work out how much CO2 going into the atmosphere comes from human activity than it is to measure the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Like many things in climatology, estimates have to be made made from limited observations. But 3% or slightly more than that has been the most often quoted estimate of anthropogenic emissions compared to total emissions. So you are correct again. According to scientific opinion, we can say that about 97% of CO2 coming into the atmosphere each year originates from natural causes.

              As a simplified analogy, the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration has been compared to water in a very large bathtub, with two taps emptying water into it and an open plug hole at the bottom draining the water out of it. One tap—the natural tap—is gushing 97 litres per minute into the tub. The other tap—the anthropogenic tap—is trickling 3 litres per minute into the tub. And the hole is draining about 98.5 litres per minute. As a result of all this activity, the tub is gaining about 1.5 liters per minute. The amount of water in the tub depends on the combined inflow rate and the outflow rate. Also, the outflow rate varies according to the amount of water in the tub. The higher the water level, the faster it drains.

          • Chris Harries says:

            It’s not actually a trifling number, Justin.

            Atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose from 288 ppmv in 1850 to 369.5 ppmv in 2000, for an increase of 81.5 ppmv, or 174 PgC. (About 40% of the additional carbon has remained in the atmosphere, while the remaining 60% has been transferred to the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.)

            The 369.5 ppmv of carbon in the atmosphere, in the form of CO2, translates into 787 PgC, of which 174 PgC has been added since 1850. From the second paragraph above, we see that 64% of that 174 PgC, or 111 PgC, can be attributed to fossil-fuel combustion. This represents about 14% (111/787) of the carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2.

            Add to this the fact that large areas of the world’s forest have been been eliminated in the past century and this has reduced the planet’s buffering capability. It is the oceans that are being affected more than any other system.

            I think you are saying we don’t need to worry about carbon pollution.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Actually, Chris, there is very little carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. Most of what there is is in the form of soot, and it tends to settle out relatively rapidly.

              When talking about carbon dioxide or CO2, calling it “carbon” is incorrect in the same way that referring to water vapor or H2O as “hydrogen” would be incorrect. After all, CO2 is composed two-thirds of oxygen by molecule count and almost 73% oxygen by weight. In physical and chemical terms CO2 is a totally different substance from carbon. If we are concerned about greenhouse gas warming, the CO2 molecule is what does it. On its own, carbon doesn’t have greenhouse gas properties.

              Why are you singling out the carbon atoms as a pollutant rather than the oxygen atoms, which are twice as numerous in CO2? And where did you pick up this habit of referring to CO2 as carbon?

            • Chris Harries says:

              tim, I think this is the wrong space be challenging climate science. There are millions of tit-for-tat tirades about there everywhere. If you want o go to the substance of this debate you are arguing there’s no need for renewables we can just keep burning hydro-carbons. That’s all you need to say and we’ve heard you.

              People who go back in time to say that climate is alway changing don’t tend to factor in the carbon that’s been released f]by fossil fuel burning, as if that’s a trifling matter. Climate science absolutely dispute that assertion.

              Gail is less focused on the climate problem anyway. More on oil (and other resource) depletion and the impact of energy extraction on the global economy. In her view these impacts would come in well before climate change becomes a critical problem.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Then there is the Fast Eddy School of Thought which can be distilled into the following thoughts:

              Burn more coal – burn more oil – burn more gas — burn more wood — burning carbon = BAU — if burning these fuels results in the earth turning into a boiling ball of flame at some point — so f*&^%$# what….. there ain’t no solution and there is most definitely no turning back.

              Burn baby burn – (disco inferno)

              I am pleased to be able to offend both the AGW deniers and supporters.

            • Chris Harries says:

              Yep, that how the goal posts tend to shift. When climate change denialists can’t credibly keep up the: “It’s not happening!” mantra they switch to: “Well there’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s party on!”. I think you aren’t in a minority at all Eddy, that’s probably the majority view – even if it’s not admitted to.

              As I mentioned before, if you were really complacent you wouldn’t be such an avowed advocate for the complacency cause. By the way, I don’t hold out much hope but neither am I an avowed advocate for hopelessness. Your best medicine, Doctor, would be to relax and just enjoy your Great Gatsby dream.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              So what can we do about it?

              What gives you hope?

            • Chris Harries says:

              Ah, there’s a difference between not having Hope and engendering Despair. Perhaps even worse, advocating a dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest. Though I do accept that that seems to be the way that society is heading. We are programmed be evolution.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              If there is no reason for hope — then there are 3 options:

              – despair
              – acceptance
              – delusion

              I have opted for door number two.

            • Chris Harries says:

              Nah, with respect, if you just accepted you would be enjoying your own self pursuits. Admit it, Doctor, you are in bitter anguish that others have landed on slightly different world views and this bugs you no end. If you accept that there may be more than one valid perspective amongst 1,2,3,4… then you could find true acceptance, my friend. In this weird era we (those who think at all) are all looking at the predicament from many perspectives and there is a spread of opinions. It’s best to retain some level of radical doubt even if we do arrive at a doctrinaire conclusion.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              You apparently have not been on FW for very long …. if you had been you would know that I have been on an 8 year bucket listing binge…. traveling the world …. seeking out new adventures… going where no man has ever gone before …. I even liquidated my pension and pissed it away…

              I acquired a shack on the beach of the west coast of NZ… and spend a great deal of time there enjoying the crashing waves and remoteness…

              I ski Queenstown in the winter on a regular basis … play a little ice hockey here and there … most recently in Switzerland…

              That is the beauty of acceptance — vs despair or hope —- when you know the future you are more likely to enjoy the present ….

              The key is to time it right so you don’t end up bankrupt before Calamity Jane arrives.

              As for bitterness towards others who do not share my positive outlook on where things are headed… you are wrong…

              I feel not bitterness at all…. what I feel is total disdain … tinged with a dash of pity…

              Disdain because they retain hope that is based on nothing ….

              Pity because instead of enjoying the final hours of BAU they spend their time gnashing their teeth and praying that space solar or thorium or some other magical solution will come along and save the day….

              You are not in a Hollywood production — super man is not going to rescue us.


            • Chris Harries says:

              If only you could slow down a little you would see that I’m on your side with regard to hopium, Doctor. On the the public relations front, I generally find that those who attack and put down everyone in sight tends to push people away from their viewpoint, rather than persuade them. I’ve been contributing to OFW for many years. I like intelligent discussion and respect a plurality of positions being put forward, even where I don’t align perfectly with any particular one. We each have our story.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Then you will know that I deal in facts and logic — not hopium … not delusion … no ifs…..

              I care not who is on my side or if I offend someone.

              If they are offended it is almost certainly because they have not presented an argument — they have put hopium in front of me and asked me to take a puff.

              In fact I am the one offended — by having to read this hopium-laced bull shit day after day….

              FW is an elitist institution — there is no tolerance for arguments not based on fact and logic.

              If one wants that sort of content there is the MSM and every other peak resource site on the planet….

              We have had enough of that

            • Tim Groves says:

              If you want o go to the substance of this debate you are arguing there’s no need for renewables we can just keep burning hydro-carbons. That’s all you need to say and we’ve heard you.

              Chris, I’m saying lots of things, including that there’s no way of having renewables without burning hydrocarbons. I’m not saying burning hydrocarbons is sustainable, only that we have to keep burning them as long as we can because there is no alternative on the horizon.

              More than than, I am saying, and I will repeat ad nauseum if necessary, that it is incorrect to refer to CO2 as “carbon”. They are not the same thing. I hope everyone can agree on that. Apart from that, I don’t want to “tit for tat” you, and If I’ve done so I will try not to do it anymore.

            • Justin Time says:

              Chris, I agree with you that carbon pollution – in fact, all kinds of man-made pollution – should be our responsibility to mitigate. Unfortunately, we’re about as good at this as picking up our own litter. In our overly complex global economy, cleaning up our act has basically been achieved by exporting our toxic industrial manufacturing overseas. While this temporarily provides cleaner air, environment and health prospects for people in the west, we all know about the devastation this causes in the new manufacturing base in the east. So, in effect, total pollution in the world is likely increasinig overall as we race to keep BAU alive.

              Everytime we hear about new methods to clean up our act – clean coal for example – we also hear about how so many companies desperately try to cut corners to keep costs down and profit margins viable. New NPPs and coal plants etc become too expensive to implement because of all the safety requirements. Our desire to live with zero pollution becomes a destructive feedback loop that at some point makes everything grind to a halt.

              I don’t see CO2 as a pollutant. It is an atmospheric gas – 0.04% of the atmosphere to be precise – and has experienced higher levels and lower levels over the history of our planet. Even if we were not emitting a small amount of CO2, CO2 levels would still vary over time. What did the planet do before humans were around to “save it”?

            • co2 is a gas, and essential to life

              oxygen is a gas and essential to life

              nitrogen is a gas and essential to life

              try being shut in a room with an excess of any one of them and see how long life lasts

            • Our problem is definitely an affordability problem. A high priced version of coal-fired electricity cannot work. The people who make regulations did not understand this.

            • Joebanana says:

              Fast Eddy said:
              “Then you will know that I deal in facts and logic — not hopium … not delusion … no ifs…..

              I care not who is on my side or if I offend someone.”

              Fast, I love you man but you come down harder on some than others that say the same thing and refuse facts and logic that you are too emotionally invested in. You are not the Vulcan you think you are;-)

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Doesn’t matter who posts — if I smell blood in the water — I come.

              As do the rest of The Core.

              It is as it should be.


            • Tim Groves says:

              co2 is a gas, and essential to life

              oxygen is a gas and essential to life

              nitrogen is a gas and essential to life

              try being shut in a room with an excess of any one of them and see how long life lasts

              Good one!

              Breathing a pure nitrogen atmosphere is considered a very painless way to die. In fact, I recommend Eddy look into the prospects of getting a nitrogen tent in anticipation of the big event, because deliberately crashing into a rock-face at 150mph requires considerable courage and is bound to be messy.

              But Norman, the question begs, how much is too much? Is there a proper or optimum amount for CO2 and if so, what is it and why?

              One of the fun things climate change skeptics like to do at cocktail parties is to muse about how many PPM of CO2 is the optimum level for plants, animals and the biosphere as a whole. On the whole, you’ve got to admit plants benefit from the extra CO2 they are getting these days because they grow better when more is available, and there is observational evidence that total plant biomass has been increasing. Some of the claims for “CO2 greens the Earth” may be over the top, but it is ironic that the Green movement is so firmly opposed to the greening gas.

            • Chris Harries says:

              The World Food Program has examined carbon dioxide fertilisation in depth and weighed that evidence against other factors that influence plant (and therefore food) production. The ‘other’ factors include crop losses due to drought, extreme temperatures, wildfires, flooding and so forth. The verdict to date is the climate change has not significantly altered world food production one way or the other at this point. However, this is not true when projecting future climate change trends. Cool temperate areas fare not so badly, while subtropical and tropical areas it’s all bad news.

              Carbon dioxide is a low key plant fertiliser, yes, but one would have to be clutching at straws to argue that it is a salve. I used to argue the carbon dioxide positive feedback loop some 35 years ago but I was wrong and am not afraid to admit it. The evidence is now pretty clear, it’s a fairly unimportant issue – especially keeping in mind that the level of forest and vegetation clearance around the world that’s still happening apace.

            • The current level of atmospheric gases, in conjunction with our “existence” means that we evolved in tandem. So our “now” is exactly right for what we are “now”—no more, no less..

              When the proportions were different, different creatures evolved and came to prominence—for them, the proportions were “correct”.

              We are all carbon based life forms, with a need to live in the goldilocks zone of static atmospheric conditions, if the atmosphere changes, then we will cease to exist. We might tolerate minor changes, but major changes will see us off in short order.
              The Earth is exactly like the human body—prolonged temperature change means death, and that change is only a few degrees either way. That applies to all creatures on the planet, they have evolved to live within their atmosperhic niche

        • Tim Groves says:

          Chris: Digging all the millions of tons of fossil fuels out of the ground and burning them and shoving all that carbon dioxide into the air is not a cyclical happening,

          True, that is a one off, and a hefty one. But is irrelevant to the point I’m making about natural climate cycles. I am just trying to remind people of some of the natural variations (not to mention some other manmade ones such as deforestation, urbanization and desertification) that need to be taken into account before we start claiming or assuming that ALL CLIMATE VARIATION is caused by burning fossil fuels or estimating the extent tow which the warming of recent decades is manmade. Most readers of OFW are scientifically literate and curious, but many of them are insufficiently aware of the current state of scientific knowledge that climate varies cyclically over various periods of decades, centuries and longer.

          We only have a 38-year satellite record of presumably relatively accurate arctic ice extent. Prior to 1979, we have about a decade of partial satellite records, mostly ignored and mostly suggesting less ice coverage than during the peak years. Apart from that, earlier instrumental and documentary records are localized and scant. We can’t get a full picture of arctic ice extent from those records made at a limited number of bases or from ships or airplanes. So we can’t say that the current state of the Arctic is unprecedented. But we have enough records to be fairly sure that the extent of the ice waxes and wanes over the decades.

          Also, we can’t get an accurate historical record by comparing modern satellite observations directly against proxy records such as seabed deposits because that’s comparing apples with oranges. Michael Mann did that by attaching centuries of tree-ring data to a few decades of an instrumental record and created the infamous Hockey Stick graph. It’s a big No! No! in proper science, but at the time it made the perfect icon for the IPCC to jolt people out of their complacency and support action to fight climate change and do a thousand and one things to save the planet.

          • Chris Harries says:

            Sorry Tim, but you can’t get peer review on your thesis that fossil fuel burning is trifling matter. Nearly every last climatologist and meteorologist on Earth will tell you otherwise.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Again Chris, whether burning fossil fuel is a trifling matter or not makes no difference to the issue of natural climate cycles. If we don’t factor in natural climate cycles and other natural climate variability, then we have no hope of quantifying what the impact on the climate of fossil fuel burning may be.

              You are conflating two separate issues and then bringing in the argument from authority in order to bolster your view on the issue of burning fossil fuels. Have you consulted nearly every last climatologist and meteorologist on this issue of natural climate cycles. You seem to be totally ignoring the question of whether these cycles exist.

            • Chris Harries says:

              NoTim, you are refusing to factor in the most important factor of all, or making light of it.

              All you need to do is say that you don’t respect all the peer reviewed the work that’s been done on this score because you believe that you are much better qualified. That’s ok, I accept that’s what your view is. There’s no need to keep repeating it.

            • I keep wondering why climate models don’t show us going back into an ice age in the not-too-distant future, in the absence of human intervention.

            • Chris Harries says:

              The short answer to that, Gail,is that we are intervening. We’re intervening like crazy. We are disrupting nearly every natural cycle on the planet.

              Exxon and the coal lobby loves the thesis that the world’s climate will flip the other way because from their business case stand point this debunks goal warming = justification for sustaining their BAU.

              What climate models do show is massive disruption to natural cycles and, yes, they could conclude that one possible result of chaotic disruption in the log term could be a return to an ice age. That doesn’t sound too comfortable at this point, but it would make a lot of people very happy because it means we’ve lost all semblance of control so we may as well charge ahead. Again this leads to the BAU case.

              But.. I think you may have meant geo-engineering when citing human intervention?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Have you got something against BAU?

              I kind like the fact that Exxon is keeping BAU ticking along…..

            • Tim Groves says:

              No need to say sorry, Chris, for repeatedly failing to get the point. But a simple apology from you for continuing to misrepresent my views would not go amiss. And while you keep misrepresenting, I reserve the right to keep correcting your misrepresentation. Because to remain silent might be interpreted as an admission that I agreed with your assertion that I have presented a “thesis that fossil fuel burning is trifling matter”. I don’t remember ever saying that it was, and certainly not on this thread.

              Why do you misrepresent other people’s views? If you have something to say about what others have said, why can’t you simply quote verbatim the statements that you wish to agree with or disagree with? Isn’t that a matter of common decency? If you want to criticize, quote the other person’s actual words. Don’t put words in their mouth.

              Also, don’t keep using the argumentum ad verecundiam to back up your assertions. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book. Quite seriously, Chris, are you one of those people who always feeds their dog Pedigree Chum “because top breeders recommend it”?

              And besides, you don’t actually know anything about what “nearly every last climatologist and meteorologist on Earth” thinks about these issues. I guarantee you haven’t asked them all, and I also guarantee that if you did, not all of them would tell you what they really though. I do, however, have access to long lists of both climatologists and meteorologists who are openly skeptical of catastrophic AGW, and a long list of skeptical climatologists who have lost their jobs, been deprived of funding, or decided to quit the field due to political pressure.

              To come back to the points I try to make, why are you singling out the carbon atoms as a pollutant rather than the oxygen atoms, which are twice as numerous in CO2? And where did you pick up this habit of referring to CO2 as carbon?

              Also, if you don’t have anything to add about roughly 60-year climate cycles (and let’s not forget roughly 1,500-year climate cycles), can I assume you agree with my very modest and reasonable suggestion that at least a good deal and possibly all of the observed late 20th century warming can be accounted for by natural climate variation plus the effects of data adjustments and homogenization? And that, accordingly, despite any other non-trivial problems using fossil fuels may cause, and while the CO2 released in their combustion may have raised the average global temperature very slightly, there is no strong evidence that they have made a significant contribution to climate change? Can we agree that?

            • Chris Harries says:

              No, sorry Tim, you’ve just got it wrong. Or several thousand scientists have. I’ve just put my money on the several thousand scientists.

              But, before you get too annoyed about that I think we would agree on the main thesis in this particular article and that is the futility of trying to salve our civilisation by investing massive in dilute energy.

              Let’s disagree on the first para and agree on the second. Easy done.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Yes, Chris, I think we agree on Gail’s main point that wind and solar will not save us. Also, Gail’s view is that we will reach limits that will cause economic collapse well before we reach any limits imposed by climate change, so if she’s correct on that, any discussion of the CO2 threat to the climate is academic.

              But if you and I are among the collapse survivors and we find ourselves at the same campfire, I’ll bet you a rat on a stick that our climate worries are unfounded. 🙂

            • ItBegins says:

              It is a fact that in the past CO2 ppm has gone up and down, along with other variables (temperatures, ice coverage, etc). I don’t think anyone is debating that. The debate seems to be, since C02 ppm has gone up and down before, any current C02 variations could be “natural” so lets not rush to judgement on them. The problem with that logic is that it is the RATE of change that is abnormal. In the past the C02 changes that we seem to be making in decades took centuries, millenea. So its not quite comparing apples and oranges.

              So the concept is that yes perhaps in the past, the planet supported life, perhaps even thriving, at high CO2 ppm. The problem is, that is not today’s life or lifestyles. What worked @ 300 PPM, doesn’t seem to work @ 400+ ppm, which we seem to have done to the planet almost overnight. With enought time to adapt, a 300 – 400 ppm change could be no big deal, but to take a 300 ppm planet, shove it into 400 ppm overnight, and then say “natural variation no worries” Is the difference between taking a 300 degree pyrex dish out of the oven and letting it cool on the counter versus dropping it in some water. Same temperature delta, just the time changes. One gets you the dish back the other leaves you with broken shards all over the place. I think that is the correct analogy for out planet, not that since there was variation in the past, any variation in the present is no big dealio…

            • Justin Time says:

              I would say that’s a poor analogy and not comparable to what’s happening with climate. The pyrex dish is suffering thermal shock in a split second temperature change affecting a specific material. Generalised climate change of a degree or two over a period of a hundred years isn’t quite the same. But I agree that some species etc might have a hard time adapting if they are vulnerable.

  15. Glenn Stehle says:

    The Energy Information Administration recently published its Annual Energy Outlook 2017.

    What a difference a few years makes.

    It’s interesting to compare the EIA’s most optimistic predictions in 2010 and 2012 to what actually happened. In 2010, the EIA predicted 2015 U.S. oil producion of 6 million BOPD. In 2012, it predicted 2015 oil production of 7 million BOPD. Actual oil production for 2015, however, averaged 9.4 milion BOPD. The EIA way underestimated future shale oil production by a wide margin.

    In its Annual Energy Outlook 2017, the EIA has raised its most optimistic prediction of US oil produciton for 2035 to 17 million BOPD. This is more than double the 2012 prediction of 8 million BOPD.

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      The EIA’s most pessimistic scenario in its Annual Energy Outlook 2017 is what it calls its “Low Oil Price” scenario. In this case, oil production falls to 7 million BOPD in 2035.

      In this case, nominal oil prices in 2017 plunge to an average $20.25 per barrel, and do not recover to above $50 per barrel until 2035.

      • Low price is what brings the system down. The EIA has not estimated correctly how much it brings production down.

      • CTG says:

        Glenn is probably paid by how many posts he makes. Practically all his posts has links and it has data from source that “should not be questioned” =- government data and data from companies that like to paint rosy pictures. So far, he has not shown any form of productive and constructive debates. He came in to this site and soon enough, he will leave. Another one will come in and he too will leave. We have so many in the past. That is the sad part of humanity. Rather than working together to fight the real problem, we have people coming in and do the opposite

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “Rather than working together to fight the real problem”

          Er . . . I am not so sure that there is agreement as to what the real problem is, much less how to fight the problem. Certainly my ideas on how to deal with the problems are not accepted here.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Keith, you are correct about the lack of agreement over what the real problem is, or if there are a plurality of them.

            Gail has explored in depth the suite of problems that add up to our predicament, and she hasn’t offered any solutions, presumably because she isn’t aware of any that are likely to work.

            You have posted quite widely on the possibilities, feasibility and potential cost of developing power satellites, which may represent a solution to our energy problems, although unless somebody actually starts building and operating them, they are destined to remain pie in the sky regardless of their theoretical practicality.

            Some here dismiss theoretical energy solutions such as space satellites, molten salt reactors and fusion, not because they don’t or won’t work, but because they don’t address the many other problems other than how to obtain cheap energy, and moreover because can’t be rolled out and integrated into the wider economic infrastructure/system rapidly enough or cheaply enough to prevent the impending collapse of BAU.

            Do you think this stance is unrealistic or unnecessarily pessimistic?

            • Pintada says:

              In high school (1970) I visited Los Alamos Natl. Labs on a field trip. One of the more interesting people that we got to talk to was a guy working on “Pie-in-the-Sky”. Guess what his proposal was.

              At that time fusion was reported to be “about 20 years from now”.

              “Scientific” advances that do not conform to the possible never happen. Pie in the Sky and fusion do not conform to the possible.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Why fusion will never happen

              I like fusion, really. I’ve talked to some of luminaries that work in the field, they’re great people. I love the technology and the physics behind it.

              But fusion as a power source is never going to happen. Not because it can’t, because it won’t. Because no matter how hard you try, it’s always going to cost more than the solutions we already have.

              Onward brave reader!

              NOTE: this article used to contain a lengthy section outlining the tremendous technical issues still to overcome. It had nothing to do with the real argument, so I’ve removed it.

              Going over like…
              A while back MythBusters decided to take on the task of building a lead balloon. As it turns out, with enough effort, one can indeed make a lead balloon fly.

              So now that we have working lead balloons, you should be able to book a flight on one to London any day, right? What, you don’t expect that? Well of course not, because we already have the 747.

              Sure, spend a lot of money and maybe lead balloons will get better. But the 747 keeps improving too. The gap in performance is never going to close. Quite the opposite, because of the fundamental physics of the two, the gap will widen over time.

              So I’m pretty happy saying lead balloons for commercial flights to London will never happen. Never ever ever.

              And its the very same logic that lets me conclude fusion will never happen. Not so much on the technical grounds, which may very well never cross the enormous gap to commercialization. No, this is about the bottom line.

              Even if the engineering is someday fixed, it’s clear to everyone outside the fusion world that the economics will never be competitive.

              Not now. Not in 20 years. Not ever.

              So Much More

            • comes under the same heading as asteroid mining Eddy.

              You find an asteroid made of a zillion tons of 99% iron ore

              you tow it back the earth orbit—hooray—cheap iron forever (forget space tug costs for a mo)
              then you have to transport the iron through re-entry in some way

              If you manage that, you cant refashion iron into anything useful without colossal amounts of cheap heat—which we don’t have

              And an iron/steel object is only useful in conjunction with something else (steel wheel/rubber tyre etc)

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Why fusion will never happen”

              I think you are out of date by about the age of the universe. Even if you mean human caused fusion, you are out of date since that was done in 1952 on a massive scale.

              Now if you mean a “Mr. Fusion” that you can mount in your DeLorean time machine, not yet.

              I am reminded of a story of a fusion researcher who wrote up a proposal for a “gravity confined fusion device.” He capped the joke with a purchase order for 10^33 grams of hydrogen (i.e., half a solar mass). The purchasing department, thinking he was asking for 33 grams, approved the order.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” unrealistic or unnecessarily pessimistic?”

              Unrealistic is something that can only be determined by people in the future. Societies have failed in the past, a bunch of them. But so far, we have not seen a high tech society fail.

              It’s not hard for me to imagine the human race being biologically extinct in less than a century. I have written about it in the sequence that includes “The Clinic Seed.” (I had to include a remnant population so the story would have characters.) But if they all upload/transcend/ whatever is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know.

              The hostility of engineering parents when kids bring them end of the world predictions feels like religious response. I might develop this further.

          • Dr Fast Eddy says:

            Keith — instead of space solar — why not just send space tankers to the sun and pump bits of it into the tankers and transport them back to earth?

          • CTG says:

            Fukushima comes to mind….

        • Greg Machala says:

          “Rather than working together to fight the real problem, we have people coming in and do the opposite” – delusional thinking I suppose. Ironic isn’t it that a post that shows how wind and solar are delusional attracts the delusional thinkers.

      • Mark Bahner says:

        The EIA scenario estimates for oil price in 2040 range from approximately $40/barrel to approximately $220/barrel. That’s quite a range. Somewhere inside that range seems pretty likely. 🙂

    • Greg Machala says:


      This story sounds a lot like animals fighting over that last remaining puddles of water in the dry season. Even though the water is nasty, hot and undrinkable it is all that is left. Too bad our oil dry season will last 100s of millions of years.

    • We have to have belief in one fairytale or another.

      • xabier says:

        What about the Tale of Jamshid, from ancient Iran?

        Jamshid’s Mirror

        Jamshid, the fourth of the Pishdadian Kings, taught his people to make clothes, forge weapons, and construct ships; how to sink mines, build houses, and make perfumes and medicines. This formed the basis of a great empire.

        Above all, he had a Magic Mirror, in which he could see everything that came to pass throughout the whole world, as it happened.

        Enthroned and gazing in this mirror, he fell into the error of thinking that he had created everything, and that he alone controlled it. He became conceited and corrupt, believing his own fantasies to be reality. Who had ever been as great as he? It couldn’t be denied.

        Jamshid accomplished wonderful things, they worked: but his self-conception was faulty, and Reality corrected it, brutally. He was not Maker of the World.

        Second thoughts, that fairy tale won’t cheer anyone up! Let’s talk about our great Martian Future!

        • doomphd says:

          Life on Mars….wait for a really cold night, go out to the garage and start the car. Then, run round to the rear and try breathing the fumes from the tailpipe. That’s Mars on a balmy day, near the equator.

  16. Chris Harries says:

    2,000 comments later and we have probably done to death the hypothetical query: “Can Wind and Solar Will Save Us?”. I think this article needs a follow up along the lines of “The Wind and Solar Will Save Us Delusion – But Why We Are Going To Go For It Anyway”.

    A number of commentators above have classified the pro-renewables crowd in the village idiot, low intelligence, romantic hippy category. We do have a small problem in that this mass delusion (if it is as such) is held by millions of technical enthusiasts worldwide plus most professional who are are engaged in climate science. In other words, we doubters are rather badly outnumbered.

    I deal a lot with local climate science and related professions and know them well. The majority of these very well educated people keenly advocate the Green Energy Revolution, as it is known, even if they also understand the Limits to Grown problem. Everywhere one looks on the internet are thousands of technical articles spelling out with great enthusiasm how society can transition from coal to renewables. This is a truly massive societal meme. Even conservatives relent and agree with it – albeit they insist it isn’t happen too quickly.

    If I believe the prognosis of the science community that we are in trouble in relation to climate change, should I then be in denial about an expert prognosis that we can escape from it via the renewable energy path. Does that make me a sceptic, just like a climate change sceptic?

    My own answer to this philosophical conundrum is that those who are frightened by the prospect of catastrophic climate change can’t see any way out of the mess unless we undertake that transition. There is a fateful wish that it will happen with a wing and a prayer, even if, on the face doc it, the task sounds like an impossibility. To not believe in the meme is to believe that we are done for. Not many want to arrive at that conclusion.

    In conclusion, desperation is taking us down this track, rather than considered logic. We can talk amongst ourselves as much as we like but I believe that we are as if on a thundering freight train that is going to damned well try to do the impossible, no matter what.

    • Froggman says:

      Well said. I think a key component of the dilemma is that as a group, humans are hard-wired for optimism to an absolutely absurd degree. In our natural environment this would have been a characteristic that benefits survival: the humans who realize the scant odds of defeating that saber tooth cat and throw up their hands are devoured, while those who grasp at a remote possibility sometimes get lucky and survive.

      Multiply that positive reinforcement for a few million years and you get a species that is mostly incapable of accepting that there may be problems that are unsolvable. Just look at all the motivational posters on office walls around the world. “Hang in there…” with a kitten hanging from a table.

      It’s a pretty silly sci-fi reference, but we’re basically living a giant Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek. This is a no-win situation but we’re desperately flailing around trying to figure out the right answer.

      • Chris Harries says:

        Yep, good thoughts Frogman. it’s partly our hard wiring but its also cultural. What I glean from my colleagues and from big time commentators is that they are much more pessimistic than what they will show. Put a microphone in almost anybody’s face and ask them if they are a Pessimist or an Optimist and they will say optimist even if they don’t feel at all optimistic.

        We are actually taught that people will rise to the occasion if they are given Hope and Inspiration. In most circumstances this teaching is absolutely valid. It’s how sporting stars and musicians attain great heights.

        But what if the prevailing circumstances don’t allow for great heights. We still do it anyway. We in the West perhaps have the strongest culture that drives us onward and upwards, not recognising any limits to what may or may not be possible. We have little humility. We can conquer!

        • Ert says:

          What I glean from my colleagues and from big time commentators is that they are much more pessimistic than what they will show.

          At least that is what I have come down to, too. If I would speak what I really think will go on – people would cut off totally. So I think there is no point anymore in spreading my real opinion, if even the 10% version of it scares people or let them raise their mental defenses.

          So I try to enjoy my life as long as I can and try to minimize putting my hopes and energy in any long-term efforts that are connected to the current status-quo.

          • Trousers says:

            This is exactly what I find. I can speak a little about what is going on but people do not want to even consider it and the resistance to it is plain. At which point I tend to change the subject. I once spoke to my Dad plainly about what I feel is likely to pan out, he got more annoyed than I expected. He’s a smart bloke, an engineer all his life but he just refused to even consider the possibility that what I was telling him might have some validity.

            By comparison climate change is a far easier topic to deal with because I think there is a sense that nothing really dramatic has happened with the day to day weather. If there is a problem something can still be done. Smart people will figure out solutions.

            Coming up against rescource limits is just too stark for many people to even contemplate.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Coming up against resource limits”

              The main limit is energy. If you have an effective way to capture sunlight off planet, then we are many orders of magnitude from the limits.

              In fact, I suspect that the limits are not so much energy as they are heat sink capacity.

            • Either energy or heat sink capacity. One way or another, we reach a limit pretty quickly, in the whole scheme of things.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Same here Trousers…my Dad is an engineer too, very bright guy and when I try to explain to him the mess we are in and that all of this will probably be over very soon (even in his own lifetime) HE LOSES IT….he tells me to just leave if I don’t stop talking about it …

            • louploup2 says:

              I have similar experiences: No matter how much I try, no one wants to discuss limits and the implications thereof. Like I forgot to bathe for a week or something every time.

            • i’ve pretty much given up on it too—pointless

              as a story ive told in here before, about a guy with MSc in geology
              (a precis here btw)
              Me: discussing AGW etc
              Geologist: Well if we get Italy’s climate that will be good for us wont’t it/
              Me:–But Italy will get the Sahara
              Geologist: Well ,they’ll just have to learn to live with it.

              Subject thus closed

              At that level of intellect what can one do or say in response?

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “a no-win situation”

        I think what you mean here is that you can’t see a way to make it otherwise.

        It’s somewhat like the carbon problem. It’s not hard to foresee a world where the problem is not enough CO2 instead of too much.

        • Froggman says:

          LOL, no, what I mean is that I’ve considered the problem comprehensively and given all I know about human civilization there is no solution. It’s more than being smart enough and building the right technology, it’s the collective actions of 7 billion people doing what they evolved to do. Yeast in a bottle, reindeer on St. Matthew’s Island. Dissipative structures, breaking down energy gradients, until there are none left.

    • Right! What we are seeing is seeing is an act of desperation. It is pretty clear that the story is wrong, but no one wants to face that idea.

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        David Korowicz says this in his splendid Trade-Off paper:

        “…The second reason is the manifest risk that ecological constraints, expressed as peak oil and food, are imminent. The casual retorts to such warnings are revealing. The assumption that technology, market mechanisms or shale gas will save the day is made so often, with such confidence and is backed by so little actual knowledge and expertise, that it leads one to suspect that the interlocutors are expressing a cultural mythology rather than offering a reasoned analysis.

        “In addition, we are quite at a loss with respect to timing. These constraints are emerging now. More grandiose plans, more targets or investment in breakthrough technology, more well-meaning chatter about a green New Deal mostly miss the point, firstly, because imagining is really not a substitute for reality, and secondly, because in all probability, it’s too late.”

        • doomphd says:

          my old advisor gave a seminar where he showed the Earth’s human population going up to about 8-10 billion exponentially by mid century, and then leveling off at that number into the far future. so in the Q&A afterward I asked him: “can you name a single biological system or species that has done what you suggest, living in a finite medium?” his reply was to repeat “8-10 billion humans living happily ever after”. I still can’t believe he was serious.

    • Dr Fast Eddy says:

      I see ‘renewables’ as a palliative fed to the masses to keep them calm as we march towards global suffering and extinction …

      Not dissimilar to how we feed the terminal ill powerful drugs to numb their minds… and their pain … prior to death.

      The ‘doctors’ feeding us the ‘renewable’ medicines understand that ‘renewables’ are not going to save the day —- however it is important to keep confidence high…. to keep animal spirits alive…

      Not only do the masses need to believe the economy will at some point sprout green shoots — they also need to have a narrative that offers prosperity Beyond Petroleum….

      What’s a few hundred billion or even a trillion dollars to support the renewable energy future…. there are loads of far more pointless things that we spend just as much if not far more money on — including health care for the elderly.

      A huge component of the global economy is ‘repairing broken windows’ – what’s one more?

      • Tim Groves says:

        Very good analogy! The wind and solar infrastructure subsidy programs are a very visible statement that can be interpreted as “don’t panic, we’ve got it in hand! This is a part of the solution.”

        Also, spending on renewables is, at its most basic, at least spending. The spending happens in the present, so it helps keep the economy from tanking. It has the same effect as breaking and then repairing windows. It’s the equivalent of Keynes idea of digging holes and filling them in. It’s also the equivalent of people responding to G.W. Bush’s appeal: “I encourage you all to go shopping more.”

    • Pintada says:

      Dear Chris Harries;

      You have hit the nail on the head. We will in fact burn up a bunch of coal and oil to create a bunch of windmills and solar farms that will not solve the predicament. It is in fact not a problem, since a problem can be solved. The term predicament has been adopted by the radical global warming crowd as the word that means “a problem that cannot be solved”. To my knowledge, no other word has the same meaning.

      Look at this article by Paul Craig Roberts:

      If you look at his bio, and other articles, you can see that he is no left wing hippy. Still, he sings the same song.

      When i still thought that humanity was not destined for, and half way in, the dustbin of history, I wondered when the AGW deniers would wake up, and what they would do when they did. Now I know. They will wake up when it is way, way too late. And they will spend trillions building crap that doesn’t help.

      Roberts uses Easter Island as an analogy in his article. Those people erected bizarre statues to bring back the good old days. Will the hundreds of windmills and many square miles of solar farms look less silly?

    • Rainydays says:

      It’s a paradox for sure. The truth is out there but most people won’t handle it well. So instead we get the hopium, wind mills and solar, which is counter-productive to keeping BAU rolling energy-wise. We might as well be building Easter Island statues to keep the economy chugging along.

  17. dolph says:

    I think of England and America as undone by their own success, in a way. On a long enough timeline, greed, individualism, and vice proliferate in the first countries to have a truly global culture.
    In England’s case, the defeat of Germany as competitor was seen as prolonging the British Empire, when in fact it ended it.
    In America’s case, the defeat of the Soviet Union was seen as ushering in permanent hegemony, but in fact the world has become multipolar, with Islam demographically successful and China industrially so.
    It’s also interesting here that England and America were protected by the seas, and Islam is both protected, but also cursed, by oil.

    • empires are sustained only though the out thrust of energy contained within the empirical nation itself

      thus the Power of Rome was derived from its army which dominated Italy first, consolidated itself, then began to expand using the energy resources of other nations (tributes) as it expanded outwards.

      The British empire expanded because the UK sat on a colossal store or coal and iron.
      When that diminished the Empire contracted, leaving only a elective commonwealth. That empire also consumed the resources of other nations at it expanded

      The USA empire also expanded on the coal and iron within its borders, and consumed resources that belonged to others.
      now that is diminishing, and that empire is contracting too.
      It just hasnt disintegrated yet into separate nation states. It will.

      The above can be applied to any ”empire”—it always fits, in any era.

  18. Duncan Idaho says:

    f course, we could confront the messy reality of collapse:

    • JT Roberts says:


      Even the most delicate and sensitive man among you will have no pity on his brother or his cherished wife or his sons who remain, 55 and he will not share with them any of the flesh of his sons that he will eat, because he has nothing else on account of the severity of the siege and the distress your enemy inflicts on your cities. 56 And the delicate and sensitive woman among you who would not even think of putting the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate will show no pity to her cherished husband or her son or her daughter, 57 even toward the afterbirth that comesfrom between her legs and toward the sons she bears, for she will secretly eat them because of the severity of the siege and the distress your enemy inflicts on your cities.

      • Joebanana says:

        Matthew 5:45 “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good”. We are all in this together.

        • JT Roberts says:

          Gal 6:7
          7 Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap;

          Banquet of consequences

          • I think we should leave off the godbothering—(everyone)

            Relying on myths has brought us to where we are, I don’t think mythology is going to get us out of this mess

            JC isn’t coming back, nobody is getting raptured, or any of the 000s of fairy stories that have developed since humanity learned the art of speech.

            Passing those stories around is just as irresponsible as the infinite worlders—(much the same thing really)

            JC comes back…doesn’t refill the oilwells, says we all have to manage without oil
            or—JC comes back, connects the oilwells to his infinity tank so BAU goes on forever.

            Either way—chaos.
            We live on a sphere—so unless JC magicks up another planet and lets us develop warp drive–we’re screwed—we have nowhere to go folks. Worshipping idols won’t do us any more good than it did all the ancients.—They too had a fixation of certainty in their gods
            There is no ”true religion”
            I can only suggests bible thumpers find a blog that promotes gullibility/god/bau/perpetual motion machines
            where they can rest in reassurance

            For a year or two anyway

            • Glenn Stehle says:


              You’re as fanatical about your doomsday theology as any of the other end-timers, the only difference being that your theology has been secularized.

              You’ve convinced yourself that you’ve found sure truth. But you haven’t. The only thing you’ve found is dogma.

              Your doctrine, you believe, is the exact opposite of that of the churchgoers’. But it’s not. It’s the mirror image.

            • i can offer no truth at all

              On the introductory page on my book— (The End of More, Pagett Amazon)

              I make the point very clear:-
              “We spell out the problem
              the solutions are in the hands of you, the reader.
              Like everyone else, we hope the problem will go away”

              that seemed to be the most important point of all.

              the stuff i write is based on the factual (not alternative) evidence that is all around us, clearly obvious to anyone willing to see it and accept it, and not be misled by faith in deities or luck or political rant.
              I try to avoid endless arguments about stuff which, ultimately, will not affect the outcome of our collective future.

              obviously i might be incorrect in peripheral details, likely dates and so on, but not in the broad outline of what is going on. If you would care to point out any dogmatic aspect of that I would like to know about it.

              We live on a spherical Earth, using a mode of existence based on an infinite flat one. Dogma?

              We consume finite material through use of heat that is overheating the Earth. Dogma?

              We breed exponentially, in the belief that food growth is exponential. Dogma?

              We cannot slow down growth because that will “destroy the economy” Dogma?

              we function on the basis of infinite unrepayable debt. Dogma?

              We believe we live in a infinite money economy, when we live in a finite energy economy. Dogma?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Glenn – why do you remain on FW? Most people here started out in positions not that dissimilar to where you are now —- unlike you — we realized that we did not understand the situation and we changed our positions.

              Do you think that you are going to convince us to return to positions that are proved to be wrong?

              It is never going to happen.

              I am not sure where I can send you to have like-minded discussions — Peak Prosperity is not right for you … Kunstler is not a good fit… Doomsday Diner also not appropriate… even The Guardian would leave you disappointed…

              Why don’t you start your own blog

            • i wonder if anyone has taken yet?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:


              Maybe Glenn can join that crew?

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              And (as expected and very obviously) Norman destroys clueless Glenn 🙂

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Norman Pagett said:

              the stuff i write is based on the factual (not alternative) evidence that is all around us, clearly obvious to anyone willing to see it and accept it, and not be misled by faith in deities or luck or political rant.

              I try to avoid endless arguments about stuff which, ultimately, will not affect the outcome of our collective future.

              obviously i might be incorrect in peripheral details, likely dates and so on, but not in the broad outline of what is going on.

              Nuff said.

              You might want to cosider joining true believers annonymous.

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              ITEOTWAWKI says:

              And (as expected and very obviously) Norman destroys clueless Glenn.

              Only in the eye’s of Norman Pagett’s fellow true believers.

            • i listed a set of statements that were supposedly ‘dogmatic’

              at the very least i expected a detailed explanation of the ‘dogma’ within each one
              and a rebuttal of them,

              instead i got more waffle.

              i get more entertainment on sunday mornings with the jwitnesses.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Glenn first off, did you even read his book? Second, you made absolutely no attempt to refute the second part of his comment:

              We live on a spherical Earth, using a mode of existence based on an infinite flat one. Dogma?

              We consume finite material through use of heat that is overheating the Earth. Dogma?

              We breed exponentially, in the belief that food growth is exponential. Dogma?

              We cannot slow down growth because that will “destroy the economy” Dogma?

              we function on the basis of infinite unrepayable debt. Dogma?

              We believe we live in a infinite money economy, when we live in a finite energy economy. Dogma?

              Go ahead, refute away what he said..

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Norman Pagett,

              Your historical revisionism, as well as your historical determinism, are carefullyl taylored to fit your secular stealth religion.

              The departures from factual reality, however, are every bit as great as those of traditional religion.

            • all i ask—is that you point out any major errors

              nothing more

              i fail to see anywhere that i have revised history—we are where we are because of past actions and events—one cannot alter them, other than by creating ‘alternative facts’
              recorded history is not ‘determinism’, or opinion. It simply exists. We may not like it much, but that’s too bad.

              i do not create alternative facts

              feel free to point them out if i have—but ranting ”wrong” just will not do.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Glenn’s motto (and his coat of arms:

              Ergo peccatum esse non sum ego

              (I am wrong therefore I exist)

            • George Trepos says:

              “The departures from factual reality, however, are every bit as great as those of traditional religion.”

              Departures? You offer no rebuttal. You offer no logic to back your argument. You make comparisons and use flowery language to call names. You wont respond to obvious questions because you cant. You refuse logic because it doesn’t suit some aspect of your belief paradigm. You are in short a moron. I say that not out of spite but as a correct label proved by your demonstrated behavior.

              “We live on a spherical Earth, using a mode of existence based on an infinite flat one. Dogma?

              We consume finite material through use of heat that is overheating the Earth. Dogma?

              We breed exponentially, in the belief that food growth is exponential. Dogma?

              We cannot slow down growth because that will “destroy the economy” Dogma?

              we function on the basis of infinite unrepayable debt. Dogma?

              We believe we live in a infinite money economy, when we live in a finite energy economy. Dogma?”

              Your contributions on the next page are interesting but really this is not a political blog. This is a blog where we talk about resource limits and their effects. You waste peoples time by pretending to come for open discussion and then playing moronic games with the primary issue discussed by this blog. Your flowery accusations of apocalypse bias are used to attempt to hide the inadequate insanity of your normalcy bias. You equate your flowery language and your familiarity with some theological dogmas with intellect but are unable to have a respectful interaction regarding the primary topic of this blog.
              It bears repeating.

              It bears repeating based upon the behavior demonstrated;

              Glenn Stehle is a moron

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ x 1,000,000,000,000,000

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              @George Trepos


            • Glenn Stehle says:


              There is no need to “read his book.” I’ve already seen enough to recognize the ideology Pagett espouses for what it is. Essentialy, it is a regurgitation of the ideologies of Malthus and Ricardo.

              My purpose, furthermore, is not to pass judgment on the ideology, but to show that it is an ideology — a belief system. And I would add that it is only one of many competing belief systems.

              Here’s how Robert Heilbroner describes “the Gloomy Presentiments of Parson Malthus and David Ricardo” in The Worldly Philosophers:

              For quite without knowing it, Malthus and Ricardo did one astonishing thing. They changed the viewpoint of their age from optimism to pessiism.

              No longer was it possible to view the universe of mankind as an arena in which the natural forces of society would inevitably bring about a better life for everyone. On the contrary, those natural forces that once seemed teleologically designed to bring harmony and peace into the world now seemed malevolent and menacing.

              If humanity did not groan under a flood of hungry mouths, it seemed that it might suffer a flood of commodities without takers.

              — ROBERT L. HEILBRONER, The Worldly Philosophers

            • JT Roberts says:


              Your response is charged with emotion. Why are you more tolerant of scientific ignorance than religious expression? Fear only exists in the absence of true knowledge.

            • all science is a progression through ignorance—any scientist will confirm that. No emotional charge required

              by contrast, all religions are made up of certainties–therein lies the danger.
              That has been used to allay the fears of the gullible since Adam was a lad

              And before that.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Glenn your Faux-Intellectualism is truly annoying with your empty long-winded comments and your various quotes…we deal in real world stuff here, namely that we have overshot our resource base and there is nothing that we can do to avert collapse…and please leave us alone with Malthus and Ricardo, this is not the late 17th, early 18th century…this is 2017, with 7.5B humans and adding 80M NET every year…and as Norman has said repeatedly these new 80M expect to be housed and fed like the rest of us…so even more taxing on our dwindling resources…where do you think this is all heading?? What say you Glenn Stehle??

            • Joebanana says:

              You worry way too much about religion, and it was not myths that got us where we are, but simple evolutionary biology. FE’s rat island is as good an explanation as any of that biology and fossil fuels.

              There are some seriously irresponsible people in the world. I don’t think quoting a Bible verse should automatically put anyone among them.

            • i accept that religion is not a universal condemnation of every individual, but the SS had gott mitt unz on their belt buckles

              and it has certainly been a universal force for evil throughout world history—-slavery justified by bible words etc—and much more

            • hkeithhenson says:


              What is a religion? My take is that the origin of every one of them is xenophobic memes. For what it is worth (not much), I am considered somewhat of an authority on the subject of memes.



              To understand this issue, we first have to define what a meme is because that is a subject of some controversy and confusion in its own right. We tend to think of memes from their popular use on the internet as iterative single panel illustrations with catchy tag lines, Pepe and Lolcats being two well known known examples of that type. But in its scientific and military usage a meme refers to something far broader. In his 2006 essay Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War, the American transhumanist writer Keith Henson defined memes as “replicating information patterns: ways to do things, learned elements of culture, beliefs or ideas.”

              In that article, I make the case that religions are intimately tied up with the conditional human behavior of wars and related kinds of social disruptions. Scary!

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Bible verses are irrelevant to the discussion …. as would be magical incantations from wizards

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Norman Pagett,


              You believe the abolitionists were atheists?

              You believe this guy was an atheist?


              Your simplistic little “us” vs.” them” worldview is built on distortions, half-truths and outright lies.

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              hkeithhenson says:

              ….religions are intimately tied up with the conditional human behavior of wars and related kinds of social disruptions. Scary!

              The only thing that is “scary” is the religion bashing of people like you and Norman Pagett.

              What an unbelievably biased and unrelaistic view of religion you two hold.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “biased and unrelaistic view”

              Glenn, help me out here.

              I don’t know where I should start to explain.

              Do you know the story of Patty Hearst? If you do, do you understand how what happened to her is a relatively common story? Would you like to know what lies behind such behavior?

            • @Eddy

              I know you have a lot of wall-users these days

              but do you think i could rent an hour sometime soon

              i really love the feeling i get afterwards—when ive stopped banging my head against it
              I think it’s becoming an addiction

            • Joebanana says:

              Norman wrote:
              “i accept that religion is not a universal condemnation of every individual, but the SS had gott mitt unz on their belt buckles

              and it has certainly been a universal force for evil throughout world history—-slavery justified by bible words etc—and much more”

              I’m not sure what your point is? Are you saying atheists would never do evil? Do you really think that the example of the SS has some profound meaning I should get?

              *Every* human thing has been incorporated for evil. There is no good thing in itself that has not been twisted into something bad. You mention slavery; yes the Bible has been used to defend it. It was also used to get rid if it just like governments are used for good and bad, or tools or speech or energy or the printing press or anything anyone cares to mention.

              Atheists and secular humanists have been in control for most of our modern era and time of plenty. They have done nothing extraordinary other than burn the energy available like everyone before them. They worship technology, power and money with the odd really good one here and their. Just like religious people.

  19. hkeithhenson says:

    Interesting article here:

    Where the author points out that the skill to build reactors is lost in a generation if you don’t keep doing them.

    • doomphd says:

      that’s an old observation. in Japan, they torch a wooden temple (probably Buddhist) every generation and build a new one. the idea is to pass on to the next generation the skill set necessary to make them. no written instructions ,apparently.

      hey, nuke plants destroy themselves somewhere on the planet every generation or so, so no worries, plenty of replacement opportunities provided.

  20. JT Roberts says:

    Since it’s obvious we remain dependent on conventional oil. It’s worth looking at the following study. We often compare the depletion rate of shale oil, which is 30% the first year then slows as production becomes a trickle, with conventional, which is around 4% however it increases with time towards 10%. So are the giant fields age they go out with a gasp not a whimper. This is likely the cause of the increased drilling in Saudi.

    • h50ged13 says:

      “By 2030 the production from fields currently on stream could have decreased by over 50%” Three peer reviewed papers cited. Any comment Glenn or have you regressed to doing nothing but posting images of skulls and moaning doomster softly?

    • Tim Groves says:

      I muse about this issue every time I make a pot of tea, using a large round 2-liter pot. For the first couple of cups, I tilt the pot slightly and a strong stream of tea pours out. After that, there is still plenty of tea remaining in the pot, but I have to tilt it more and more to get a decent flow. After I’m well past peak tea and about 3/4 of the contents have been poured, I have to hold the pot almost vertically to extract the next cup full. Eventually, inevitably, the flow slows to a trickle and then to a series of drops. And to get the remaining dregs of tea out I would have to resort to advanced technology like squeezing the tea leaves.

      Re. the world’s oil supply: for the optimists the global tea pot is still have full and for the pessimists it’s half empty. But we are never going to get another nice big fresh pot, we remain thirsty, and the demand for more tea is unquenchable.

  21. dolph says:

    I suspect TPTB in America are torn right now.
    They counted on a Clinton victory so they could continue their extend and pretend policies.
    Now that Trump has won, part of them wants to crash the system, to blame on Trump, but they are hesitant to pull the trigger, because they know it will cause economic chaos.

    • Artleads says:

      Yes. Trump is all “we’ve” got to work with now. You’d think that would wake some people up, but no such rosy scenario, it looks like.

    • A Real Black Person says:

      They are settling for manufactured social upheaval such as pouring money into “social justice” groups and occasionally trying to destabilize the odd country, such as Ukraine.

    • Yep, it was visible, part of the distress on their part well could be from such realization, that the Seizure Lady promised (for a lot of prepaid money!) at least next ~4-8yrs of continuous looting and protection schemes. Now, they have to navigate through a bit more uncertain times or perhaps even be exposed to premature burial of it all (the Gorbi weak-hand / incompetent attempt at reform scenario)..

    • Artleads says:

      TPTB are said to be very smart and to know the perils facing the system. Letting it crash completely and having to do something about it (whatever that is) would challenge even their capabilities and at least require an unprecedented wallop of energy when that energy would be absent.

      There is talk about massive kill-off of billions through biological means. Nothing remotely on this scale has ever been done, and TPTB would be hard pressed to figure out how to do it. Imprisoning billions also seems impossible to sustain.

      SOMEBODY smart must know that the system is in decline, although it is growing over all. People working for a pittance seems like the lowest hanging fruit (for whatever it’s worth) for posing an alternative future. I voluntarily do the community work that *I* want to do. But it’s still work. I’m sure that a large number of “retirees” would do community work if they were appealed to. Instead of taking away their SS benefits, they could be appealed to to use that hedge to voluntarily help out with community needs. Would that take away jobs from young people? No. The community tasks I’m talking about aren’t being done now. Among those tasks could be educating young people in practical skills and creating shelter for them.

      The really hard challenge is how to keep BAU going, even if it has to keep growing to do that. Since energy and resources are dwindling, some change is needed in BAU that is not BAU lite (whatever that’s supposed to be). Someone knowledgeable about the economy has suggested reducing energy needs by 90% as a way to keep going. I don’t know what their vision is, but I can see reducing energy consumption by 90% as a perfectly doable thing for maintaining civilization and order. I’ve tired myself out pointing out ways to do it. It is not BAU heavy or BAU lite. It is something different. Call it pragmatism and practicality. You look at what it’s possible and somewhat sustainable to do with what you have. You also need an army of dictators to spread around. No destabilizing or wasteful behavior allowed. We are already seeing the privileges we felt entitled to being stripped away without warning, and absent even a murmur from the crowds. Dictatorship is eminently doable.

      So I can see TPTB *WANTING* to consider ways for some manageable order to hang on. It would take a lot less energy, if they could, to change the system but keep it running under different rules.

      Still, it’s quite possible that such changes will be resisted or be incomprehensible to TPTB, and for the whole enterprise to fail. It’s just that it doesn’t HAVE to fail. I’m sure there are other scenarios that fall short of apocalypse. But since every cloud has a silver lining, apocalypse and extinction are not to be overly feared. There’s a silver lining in that too.

      • DJ says:

        How do you cut energy consumption by 90%?

        Scandinavia uses about 5000 kg oil equivalent per capita per year (US 6900). 1 koe is 11.6 kwh.

        A high-ish consumption i 20000 kwh for the house and 1500 kg for the car, lets assume a four person household, so that is 806 koe, 16% of the 5000 koe per capita.

        Cutting personal consumption by 90 % is impossible, but what about cutting by 90 % the 4200 koe you personally can’t control?

      • DJ says:

        Or … if we accept money as a token for energy. Then we must cut consumption by 90%.

        Guaranteed pension is about $1000 post tax (Sweden). Good luck to the politician who suggests a 90% cut.

        $100 per month could cover the food if you lived exclusively on wheat, sugar, vegetable oil and minimum of dairy. No (new) clothes, no heat, certainly no television or sick care.

        • Do you realize there are several countries with fraction (~1/3-1/4 or less) of said amount for SWE pensions, but at the same time saddled with almost similar cost/price structure on the market, namely as being inside the EU and immediate neighborhood? Meaning, the affluent countries have waayyy much space to drop in the future..

          I’m not going to speculate about Artleads’ “90%” but cutting more than half is certainly realistic, e.g. more skinny people buzzing around decentralized agriculture not only as a hobby and improved diet but also out of necessity etc.

          • DJ says:

            Within EU? Maybe Slovakia could be at 1/3, but cheaper everything, especially housing.

            In Sweden a widow is considered entitled to live in the same house as when they were a family of five, so she not only gets the $1000, the government pays much of the housing/heating.

            Before Sweden could do any cutting in excess of 10-30% housing standards must be radically cut, and then houses must be built according to these standards. Currently everything must be built for disabled people (wide doors, elevator to second floor), municipal water and waste etc, environmentally friendly.

            Heating is not optional.

            • DJ says:

              Average housing area 42 square meter per person, 70 for single persons.

              Trouble is you can’t just assume squeezing more people together. There almost doesn’t exist smaller homes than 40m2.

              And homes are designed for much area per person. Poor immigrants squeeze together 8+ in homes built for 2-4 persons and the bathroom and kitchen can’t take it.

          • DJ says:

            And how could decentralised agriculture become a hobby when everyone lives in the city?

            • Though luck, bad past / sunken / legacy investment in urbanization infrastructure..
              PS I recall s Swedish professor at prestigious Uni, he had punctuated as tore apart shoes, and no, it was not because he was some impractical nut or something, later we realized he was in dire fin situation, supporting family and kids in “affluent” lifestyles..

            • DJ says:

              Monthly travel card costs $95-$250.

              I don’t deny we need to cut our energy use by 90 %.
              I think it could be possible living in Scandinavia on 10 % of current energy use.

              I just don’t see a way from here to there. We should already be building 15 m2 homes without kitchen or shower, just a microwaver. This won’t happen. Unlike US we havent even passed the peak, it would be impossible to get elected promising a future with much much less for everyone.

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              What you are suggesting is impossible – it makes no sense whatsoever — I don’t understand how you can continue to think downsizing is possible after it has been thoroughly explained to be impossible hundreds of times…


          • Artleads says:

            Maybe it IS impossible to get across to First World people. I’m trying to say we’re faced with a dire situation. We discuss repeatedly the predicament of the oil economy. All our conveniences and living systems come from a set of assumptions about how our system (if one even thinks about that) has worked, should work, will continue to work. The fact is that set of assumptions is based on delusions of “rightness,” normalcy and inevitability. So we talk about living on the merest fraction of our current FF budget, and people tell you how much it costs to heat their homes now. I’m not just talking about how you heat you homes now, how you have to pay for it, or anything one is used to from the past. I’m talking about looking at the physics of the situation, at the belief systems of the context, of how society does or doesn’t respond to these in practical ways…and try to think about it from scratch. It is what I’ve referred to as assembling our facts before making judgments about them. Where are we in this world? And what can we do about it based on all that we know? Collectively, the human species has a great deal of information about what has happened in the past, prior to civilization and up to the present. I’m for looking at this whole sweep of pre-history and history for how it informs (or can benefit) the present.

      • Glenn Stehle says:


        Someone knowledgeable about the economy has suggested reducing energy needs by 90% as a way to keep going. I don’t know what their vision is, but I can see reducing energy consumption by 90% as a perfectly doable thing for maintaining civilization and order. I’ve tired myself out pointing out ways to do it. It is not BAU heavy or BAU lite. It is something different. Call it pragmatism and practicality. You look at what it’s possible and somewhat sustainable to do with what you have. You also need an army of dictators to spread around. No destabilizing or wasteful behavior allowed. We are already seeing the privileges we felt entitled to being stripped away without warning, and absent even a murmur from the crowds. Dictatorship is eminently doable.

        Here we see the secularized version of theocracy, the belief that humanity, with the application of sufficient violence, can be transformed to fit some idealized notion of what is good and and what is right.

        It’s the desacrilized version of Reconstructionism, the beleif that the world must be made over theocratically, along biblical lines, before Christ will return and create his paradise on earth under divine rule.

        We’ve seen this movie before, in Stalin’s cultural revolution in Russia and Mao’s cultural revolution in China. How did that movie end?

        • control will always require controllers

          and therein lies the problem—controllers are never short of helpers.

        • Artleads says:

          “How did that movie end?”

          The movie we’re in ends badly…if you consider extinction to be bad. Dictatorship for personal power is one thing; dictatorship as a service toward survival is another. The trouble is that we think words have only single meanings, and that principles are irrelevant.

  22. doomphd says:

    recently, when discussing the fall of Mesopotamia and the Sumarian culture, salinization of the soil was raised as an important cause. to reduce the water evaporation, i suggested that they should have covered their desert reservoirs, perhaps with water lilies. my fellow bloggers here thought it was a crazy suggestion.

    Voila, modern water lilies to the rescue:

    • Tim Groves says:

      Imagine if each of those balls was covered in solar cells—On a clear day it would generate enough juice to power a Tesla factory. Although I expect Jerry Brown and Elon Musk have already thought about that.

    • Shade balls are supposedly coated with anti UV chemical, good for ~25yrs, which doesn’t leach into water (or air), haha.
      You fight drought with resilient agriculture up stream, not with adding toxic lid in ball shape on the water surface in the millions of pieces. But that would cut profits to big chem, bank etc. so that’s a no go. So, lets order some more plastix instead !
      = Shade Balls of Hell ™, yet another classic american can kicking nightmare..

      • doomphd says:

        yep, i was wondering how long before black plastic + UV => who-knows-what carcenogenic hydrocarbon breakdown compound(s) + water. of course, it will take years to detect effects in humans exposed to that reservoir water. meanwhile, think of all those gallons saved! they should have stuck to my water lilies approach.

  23. common phenomenon says:

    Evil Tim Groves will furious when he reads this:

    I expect Trump won’t let them do it, though. Or if they do try, he’ll nuke the Arctic, just to warm it up again, out of spite.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Pleeeze, pleeeze, pleeeze, don’t make me click on the Lib-Tardian.
      I’m waiting patiently for that cesspit of yellow journalism to go out of business.

      • A Reel Black Persona says:

        “I’m waiting patiently for that cesspit of yellow journalism to go out of business.”
        Not going to happen soon with the elite and their minions in the professional class using it and many media outlets as PR for globalization. Globalization is defended under the umbrella of “social justice” and Progressivism.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        • A Real Black Person says:

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            Whenever I come to New York but especially to London or Paris, and whenever I encounter those ‘theoretical leftists’, I have to smile bitterly when I follow their pointless but long discussions about some theory, which is totally separated from reality. And it is almost exclusively about them: are they Trotskyists and why? Or perhaps they are anarcho-syndicalists? Or Maoists? Whatever they are, they always begin on the couch or a bar stool, and that’s where they end up, late in the evening.

            In case you are just coming from Venezuela or Bolivia, where people are fighting true battles for survival of their revolutions, it is quite a shocking experience! Most of them, in Altiplano, never even heard about Lev Trotsky, or anarcho-syndicalism. What they know is that they are at war, they are fighting for all of us, for a much better world, and they need immediate and concrete support for their struggle: petitions, demonstrations, money, and cadres. All they get is words. They get nothing from the West: almost nothing at all, and they never will.

            It is because they are not good enough for the Brits and French. They are too ‘real’, not ‘pure enough’. They make mistakes. They are too human, not sterile, and not ‘well-behaved’. They ‘violate some rights here or there’. They are too emotional. They are this or that, but definitely ‘one could not fully throw his or her weight fully behind them’.

            ‘Scientifically’, they are wrong. If one spends ten hours in the pub or living room, discussing them, there would definitely arise enough arguments for withdrawing all support. The same applies for the revolutionaries and for the revolutionary changes in the Philippines, and in so many other places.

            The West cannot connect to this way of thinking. It doesn’t see absurdity in its own behavior and attitudes. It lost its spirit; it lost its heart, its feelings, from the right and now even from the left. In exchange for what, brain? But there is nothing significant that comes from that area either!

            And that is why it is finished!

            People are now unwilling to get themselves behind anything real; behind any true revolution, any movement, any government, unless they are like those plastic and toxic looking women from glossy fashion magazines: perfect for men who lost all their imagination and individuality, but thoroughly boring and mass-produced for the rest of us.

      • Dr Fast Eddy says:

        The Guardian is the newspaper of record for DelusiSTAN….

    • Dr Fast Eddy says:

      Tainter would have something to say about this 🙂

      Keith – perhaps you should team up with this lot….

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “team up”

        I was way ahead of them. Better (existing) technology, thermal diodes to refreeze the ocean solid. These are in use to keep the Alaska pipeline from sinking into the permafrost.

  24. dolph says:

    Here is the formula to understand collapse:
    Will people work 24/7, allowing for sleep, in order to obtain minimal shelter and food? The answer is yes.
    That’s the way it was for thousands of years, that’s the way it will be. The alternative is to starve.

    • A Real Black Person says:

      Lol, here’s another “Glenn” Do you even know what collapse is?
      Do you have any clue?

      Because what you just described is a subsistence way of life .
      Collapse generally means it becomes impossible for many people to survive.

      • dolph says:

        Yes I do, and I’m about away from Glenn as possible.
        If anything, I’m more pessmistic than most here.

    • greg machala says:

      “Will people work 24/7, allowing for sleep, in order to obtain minimal shelter and food? The answer is yes.” – No way. The avg person in the USA will never work that hard. Maybe 1% of the US population will make it.

    • Artleads says:

      Most people on FW seem to have business and energy backgrounds, however, there is no uniformity of opinion among them as to the nature of collapse. Gail is not even the most extreme within the fast collapse category. So an outsider like myself has a very hard time coming to a clear conclusion.

      But to glance at a slow collapse scenario for a moment:

      We’re in a house that has seen much better days. Although we hang out in the best rooms, and only show those to the guests, there are other rooms that we have shut off; there are awesome cracks appearing in the ceiling, and water stains all over. We know that an earthquake or tornado would do the house in, but we give thanks each day that we’re spared.

      In real terms, people are laid off work, young adults (and even older ones) move in with their parents. Formerly middle class individuals sleep in their cars in WalMart parking lots. Seniors on fixed incomes eat cat food and forego medicines or dental care. These things are happening now. A niece of my wife’s with a chronic illness went homeless as of today, planning to sleep in her car.

      My question, as the situation gradually unravels, is what happens to landlords who can no longer collect rent? What happens when mortgages or home insurance (or car insurance) can no longer be paid? Or as pensions evaporate?

      We live in a state of disinformation, where dots are deliberately not connected. So we don’t see how all this decay is transpiring system-wide. But assuming that slow collapse continues awhile, how would that below-subsistence-rate compensation actually work? I imagine crime, protest, epidemics, incarceration would increase dramatically, all having costs.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        You’re confusing collapse with decline/decay. Those are two different things.

        “In real terms, people are laid off work, young adults (and even older ones) move in with their parents. Formerly middle class individuals sleep in their cars in WalMart parking lots. ” That just tells us that there aren’t enough living wage jobs for everyone that would like one. The number of shrinking living wage jobs has been compensated for while, with welfare and debt. When decline reaches a critical level, further increases in welfare and debt will be impossible because there won’t be enough wealth to redistribute through taxes and there will be no one willing or able to lend. It seems like you and dolph have a VERY HARD time understanding this because you both keep proposing ridiculous version of BAU lite such as

        “how would that below-subsistence-rate compensation actually work?”
        It wouldn’t work. There would be mass starvation. If the workers in a society aren’t getting enough to meet their very basic physiological needs, they die. In many countries around the world, the government or ngos step in to subsidize workers who earn very little, otherwise they’d be dead.

        Collapse will most likely happen when there is not enough to redistribute to keep civilization functioning.Collapse is more serious than gradual downward economic mobility; people getting pushed out of the workforce because they are too old, or are not competitive enough to get a “good job”.

        “My question, as the situation gradually unravels, is what happens to landlords who can no longer collect rent?” They aren’t landlords anymore. If there is no government to uphold property rights and they can’t defend their property, they aren’t landowners either.

        Artleads, not having a technical background isn’t a sufficient excuse for not understanding key concepts. Collapse is not anything happening in the U.S.
        Collapse would be like waking up tomorrow with 100% unemployment, and no electricity , and no law and order. The closest we see to collapse are places like Syria or Venezuela.

        I am getting tired of hearing the term “slow collapse”.It’s an oxymoron.

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:


        • adonis says:

          well then decline and decay could go on for many years sounds alot better than total collapse

        • Dr Fast Eddy says:


          That is an outstanding distinction


        • Artleads says:

          OPK. Collapse, decline, decay all mean different things. We must be more careful with terms.

          What is BAU? As far as I can tell–an economic and social system that is centralized, global, growth dependent, involving distant supply chains, complex financial arrangements, public trust that it will and can work indefinitely, dispersed power, outside of individuals’ control.

          Since I don’t subscribe to any part of this scenario, what would be the BAU lite that I’m subscribing to?

          I have no way to contest the meme that, although part of the BAU system have collapsed and continue to collapse, the system as a whole is still growing. And when that system stops growing is when you have the total, ubiquitous collapse you speak of. Those who hold this opinion are very strong in their condemnation of those who are agnostic about it; we all should be perfectly clear this is how it works.

          But that leaves no room for human variation. There are all manner of nuanced ideas even among the professional people on FW. Maybe Gail could help us gain more clarity on the issue at some future time.

          Meanwhile, I don’t see the (possible) alternative to BAU as BAU lite. I mostly see it as a matter of changing belief systems. But then I should be clear, shouldn’t I, that belief systems are irrelevant.

        • Mark Bahner says:

          “Collapse would be like waking up tomorrow with 100% unemployment, and no electricity , and no law and order.”

          Because oil is expensive?

          • Chris Harries says:

            Because the cost of energy extraction breaks the back of the world economy.

            • Mark Bahner says:

              What sort of cost of energy extraction breaks the back of the world economy?

              And why does unemployment go to 100%? Why isn’t everyone working to find less expensive energy? For example, the gross world product is approaching $100 trillion right now. If the costs of extracting energy were going to crash the world economy, why wouldn’t the world spend literally a trillion dollars a year on photovoltaics?

            • Dr Fast Eddy says:

              Glenn – global GDP was around 3% in 2016 — with hundreds of billions of stimulus and ZIRP NIRP interest rates….

              Oil is at 50 bucks…. each sustained 10 buck interest knocks .4% off GDP … so you should be able to work it out…

              According to the OECD Economics Department and the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices.

              But then again if you believe the central banks can just keep pumping out trillions upon trillions of dollars of QE to offset headwinds from rising oil prices then oil could be priced at $500 per barrel — or even $1000 — how about $50,000? Even $1,000,000

            • Chris Harries says:

              Because the problem of diminishing returns means that a greater and greater proportion of the world economic output has to be ploughed back into energy production just to keep us at the same point we are currently at.

          • Dr Fast Eddy says:

            Because the price of oil remains at below the break even production point driving all producers into bankruptcy (collapse) — resulting in no oil being produced…

            Of course before that happens the financial system will collapse …

            But you seem to believe this is a perpetual economic motion machine — that so long as we keep printing trillions of dollars and feeding these dollars to failing too big to fail corporations (including oil producers) to keep them alive — that this can go on forever…

            So I do not expect you will agree with me.

  25. A Real Black Person says:

    [Chris Harries says:
    February 8, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    ” Yep Mike, your last sentence is what it’s all about. Having wondered about this for years I conclude that environmental groups do indeed understand that: “…renewables is not a solution that would leave our way of life intact”. But what they detect is that the first part (renewable energy) is a sellable message to consumer society but the second part (radical change to our way of life) is much less sellable. So… pragmatically, the sellable part is sold hard and the unpalatable part is not mentioned too much – because it’s a turn-off.”

    I’m going to challenge the assertion that radical change to “our way of life ” has not been discussed..
    The elite have openly discussed about changes in our way of life in mainstream, news articles, over the last ten years, particularly Austrian economists who believed that globalization would bring the living standards of developed countries down to the living standards of developing countries. In other words BAU-lite.
    This may not qualify as radical change but it is significant change.

    Since QE has winded down, there has been a lot less talk about BAU-lite from economists.
    The Thomas L. Friedman , Austrian school economists have stopped urging Americans to adapt to globalization by settling for lower wages, less economic security, and to “upskill”, and to expand the social safety, invest in green energy because it is painfully obvious that those things have not worked. The elite and Austrian school economists have stopped talking about adaptation and have become mum.

    • h50ged13 says:

      Name the percentage of humans in the world if they found a envelope with ten 100 dollar bills in it would burn them. That is the percentage who would reduce their consumption below their capability to consume.