Oops! The economy is like a self-driving car

Back in 1776, Adam Smith talked about the “invisible hand” of the economy. Investopedia explains how the invisible hand works as, “In a free market economy, self-interested individuals operate through a system of mutual interdependence to promote the general benefit of society at large.”

We talk and act today as if governments and economic policy are what make the economy behave as it does. Unfortunately, Adam Smith was right; there is an invisible hand guiding the economy. Today we know that there is a physics reason for why the economy acts as it does: the economy is a dissipative structure–something we will talk more about later.  First, let’s talk about how the economy really operates.

Our Economy Is Like a Self-Driving Car: Wages of Non-Elite Workers Are the Engine

Workers make goods and provide services. Non-elite workers–that is, workers without advanced education or supervisory responsibilities–play a special role, because there are so many of them. The economy can grow (just like a self-driving car can move forward) (1) if workers can make an increasing quantity of goods and services each year, and (2) if non-elite workers can afford to buy the goods that are being produced. If these workers find fewer jobs available, or if they don’t pay sufficiently well, it is as if the engine of the self-driving car is no longer working. The car could just as well fall apart into 1,000 pieces in the driveway.

If the wages of non-elite workers are too low, they cannot afford to pay very much in taxes, so governments are adversely affected. They also cannot afford to buy capital goods such as vehicles and homes. Thus, depressed wages of non-elite workers adversely affect both businesses and governments. If these non-elite workers are getting paid well, the “make/buy loop” is closed: the people whose labor creates fairly ordinary goods and services can also afford to buy those goods and services.

Recurring Needs of Car/Economy

The economy, like a car, has recurring needs, analogous to monthly lease payments, insurance payments, and maintenance costs. These would include payments for a variety of support services, including the following:

  • Government programs, including payments to the elderly and unemployed
  • Higher education programs
  • Healthcare

Needless to say, the above services tend to keep rising in cost, whether or not the wages of non-elite workers keep rising to keep up with these costs.

The economy also needs to purchase a portfolio of goods on a very regular basis (weekly or monthly), or it cannot operate. These include:

  • Fresh water
  • Food of many different types, including vegetables, fruits, and grains
  • Energy products of many types, such as oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium. These needs include many subtypes suited to particular refineries or electric power plants.
  • Minerals of many types, including copper, iron, lithium, and many others

Some of these goods are needed directly by the workers in the economy. Other goods are needed to make and operate the “tools” used by the workers. It is the growing use of tools that allows workers to keep becoming more productive–produce the rising quantity of goods and services that is needed to keep the economy growing. These tools are only possible through the use of energy products and other minerals of many kinds.

I have likened the necessary portfolio of goods the economy needs to ingredients in a recipe, or to chemicals needed for a particular experiment. If one of the “ingredients” is not available–probably because of prices that are too high for consumers or too low for producers–the economy needs to “make a smaller batch.” We saw this happen in the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. Figure 1 shows that the use of several types of energy products, plus raw steel, shrank back at exactly the same time. In fact, the recent trend in coal and raw steel suggests another contraction may be ahead.

Figure 1. World Product Consumption, indexed to the year 2000, for selected products. Raw Steel based on World USGS data; other amounts based of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016 data.

Figure 1. World Product Consumption, indexed to the year 2000, for selected products. Raw Steel based on World USGS data; other amounts based of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016 data.

The Economy Re-Optimizes When Things Go Wrong 

If you have a Global Positioning System (GPS) in your car to give you driving directions, you know that whenever you make a wrong turn, it recalculates and gives you new directions to get you back on course. The economy works in much the same way. Let’s look at an example: 

Back in early 2014, I showed this graph from a presentation given by Steve Kopits. It shows that the cost of oil and gas extraction suddenly started on an upward trend, about the year 1999. Instead of costs rising at 0.9% per year, costs suddenly started to rise by an average of 10.9% per year.

Figure 1. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing trends in world oil exploration and production costs per barrel. CAGR is "Compound Annual Growth Rate."

Figure 2. Figure by Steve Kopits of Westwood Douglas showing trends in world oil exploration and production costs per barrel. CAGR is “Compound Annual Growth Rate.”

When costs were rising by only 0.9% per year, it was relatively easy for oil producers to offset the cost increases by efficiency gains. Once costs started rising much more quickly, it was a sign that we had in some sense “run out” of new fields of easy-to-extract oil and gas. Instead, oil companies were forced to start accessing fields with much more expensive-to-produce oil and gas, if they wanted to replace depleting fields with new fields. There would soon be a mismatch between wages (which generally don’t rise very much) and the cost of goods made with oil, such as food grown using oil products.

Did the invisible hand sit idly by and let business as usual continue, despite this big rise in the cost of extraction of oil from new fields? I would argue that it did not. It was clear to business people around the world that there was a large amount of coal in China and India that had been bypassed because these countries had not yet become industrialized. This coal would provide a much cheaper source of energy than the oil, especially if the cost of oil appeared likely to rise. Furthermore, wages in these countries were lower as well.

The economy took the opportunity to re-optimize. Part of this re-optimization can be seen in Figure 1, shown earlier in this post. It shows that world coal supply has grown rapidly since 2000, while oil supply has grown quite slowly.

Figure 3, below, shows a different kind of shift: a shift in the way oil supplies were distributed, after 2000. We see that China, Saudi Arabia, and India are all examples of countries with big increases in oil consumption. At the same time, many of the developed countries found their oil consumption shrinking, rather than growing.

Figure 2. Figure showing oil consumption growth since 2000 for selected countries, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Figure 3. Figure showing oil consumption growth since 2000 for selected countries, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

A person might wonder why Saudi Arabia’s use of oil would grow rapidly after the year 2000. The answer is simple: Saudi Arabia’s oil costs are its costs as a producer. Saudi Arabia has a lot of very old wells from which oil extraction is inexpensive–perhaps $15 per barrel. When oil prices are high and the cost of production is low, the government of an  oil-exporting nation collects a huge amount of taxes. Saudi Arabia was in such a situation. As a result, it could afford to use oil for many purposes, including electricity production and increased building of highways. It was not an oil importer, so the high world oil prices did not affect the country negatively.

China’s rapid rise in oil production could take place because, even with added oil consumption, its overall cost of producing goods would remain low because of the large share of coal in its energy mix and its low wages. The huge share of coal in China’s energy mix can be seen in Figure 4, below. Figure 4 also shows the extremely rapid growth in China’s energy consumption that took place once China joined the World Trade Organization in late 2001.

Figure 3. China energy consumption by fuel, based on BP 2016 SRWE.

Figure 4. China energy consumption by fuel based on BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy.

India was in a similar situation to China, because it could also build its economy on cheap coal and cheap labor.

When the economy re-optimizes itself, job patterns are affected as well.  Figure 5 shows the trend in labor force participation rate in the US:

Figure 4. US Civilian labor force participation rate, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as graphed by fred.stlouisfed.org.

Figure 5. US Civilian labor force participation rate, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, as graphed by fred.stlouisfed.org.

Was it simply a coincidence that the US labor force participation rate started falling about the year 2000? I don’t think so. The shift in energy consumption to countries such as China and India, as oil costs rose, could be expected to reduce job availability in the US. I know several people who were laid off from the company I worked for, as their jobs (in computer technical support) were shifted overseas. These folks were not alone in seeing their jobs shipped overseas.

The World Economy Is Like a Car that Cannot Make Sharp Turns 

The world economy cannot make very sharp turns, because there is a very long lead-time in making any change. New factories need to be built. For these factories to be used sufficiently to make economic sense, they need to be used over a long period.

At the same time, the products we desire to make more energy efficient, for example, automobiles, homes, and electricity generating plants, aren’t replaced very often. Because of the short life-time of incandescent light bulbs, it is possible to force a fairly rapid shift to more efficient types. But it is much more difficult to encourage a rapid change in high-cost items, which are typically used for many years. If a car owner has a big loan outstanding, the owner doesn’t want to hear that his car no longer has any value. How could he afford a new car, or pay back his loan?

A major limit on making any change is the amount of resources of a given type, available in a given year. These amounts tend to change relatively slowly, from year to year. (See Figure 1.) If more lithium, copper, oil, or any other type of resource is needed, new mines are needed. There needs to be an indication to producers that the price of these commodities will stay high enough, for a long enough period, to make this investment worthwhile. Low prices are a problem for many commodities today. In fact, production of many commodities may very well fall in the near future, because of continued low prices. This would collapse the economy.

The World Economy Can’t Go Very Far Backward, Without Collapsing

The 2007-2009 recession is an example of an attempt of the economy to shrink backward. (See Figure 1.) It didn’t go very far backward, and even the small amount of shrinkage that did occur was a huge problem. Many people lost their jobs, or were forced to take pay cuts. One of the big problems in going backward is the large amount of debt outstanding. This debt becomes impossible to repay, when the economy tries to shrink. Asset prices tend to fall as well.

Furthermore, while previous approaches, such as using horses instead of cars, may be appealing, they are extremely difficult to implement in practice. There are far fewer horses now, and there would not be places to “park” the horses in cities. Cleaning up after horses would be a problem, without businesses specializing in handling this problem.

What World Leaders Can Do to (Sort of) Fix the Economy

There are basically two things that governments can do, to try to make the economy (or car) go faster:

  1. They can encourage more debt. This is done in many ways, including lowering interest rates, reducing bank regulation, encouraging lower underwriting standards or longer term loans, taking out greater debt themselves, guaranteeing debt of non-creditworthy entities, and finding new markets for “recycled debt.”
  2. They can increase complexity levels. This means increasing output of goods and services through the use of more and better machines and through more training and specialization of workers. More complex businesses are likely to lead to more international businesses and longer supply chains.

Both of these actions work like turbocharging a car. They have the possibility of making the economy run faster, but they have the downside of extra cost. In the case of debt, the cost is the interest that needs to be paid; also the risk of “blow-up” if the economy slows. There is a limit on how low interest rates can go, as well. Ultimately, part of the output of the economy must go to debt holders, leaving less for workers.

In the case of complexity, the problem is that there gets to be increasing wage disparity, when some employees have wages based on special training, while others do not. Also, with capital goods, some individuals are owners of capital goods, while others are not. The arrangement creates wealth disparity, besides wage disparity.

In theory, both debt and increased complexity can help the economy grow faster. However, as I noted at the beginning, it is the wages of the non-elite workers that are especially important in allowing the economy to continue to move forward. The greater the proportion of the revenue that goes to high paid employees and to bond holders, the less that is available to non-elite workers. Also, there are diminishing returns to adding debt and complexity. At some point, the cost of each of these types of turbo-charging exceeds the benefit of the process.

Why the Economy Works Like a Self-Driving Car

The reason why the economy acts like a self-driving car is because the economy is, in physics terms, a dissipative structure. It grows and changes “on its own,” using energy sources available to it. The result is exactly the same effect that Adam Smith was observing. What makes the economy behave in this way is the fact that flows of energy are available to the economy. This happens because an economy is an open system, meaning its borders are permeable to energy flows.

When there is an abundance of energy available for use (from the sun, or from burning fossil fuels, or even from food), a variety of dissipative structures self-organize. One example is hurricanes, which self-organize over warm oceans. Another example is plants and animals, which self-organize and grow from small beginnings, if they have adequate food energy, plus other necessities of life. Another example is ecosystems, consisting of a number of different kinds of plants and animals, which interact together for the common good. Even stars, including our sun, are dissipative structures.

The economy is yet another type of a dissipative structure. This is why Adam Smith noticed the effect of the invisible hand of the economy. The energy that sustains the economy comes from a variety of sources. Humans have been able to obtain energy by burning biomass for over one million years. Other long-term energy sources include solar energy that provides heat and light for gardens, and wind energy that powers sail boats. More recently, other types of energy have been added, including fossil fuels energy.

When energy supplies are very cheap and easy to obtain, it is easy to ramp up their use. With growing supplies of energy, it is possible to keep adding more and better tools for people to work with. I use the term “tools” broadly. Besides machines to enable greater production, I include things like roads and advanced education, which also are helpful in making workers more effective. The use of growing energy supplies allows growing use of tools, and this growing use of tools increasingly leverages human labor. This is why we see growing productivity; we can expect to see falling human productivity if energy supplies should start to decline. Falling productivity will tend to push the economy toward collapse.

One problem for economies is diminishing returns of resource extraction. Diminishing returns cause the economy to become less and less efficient. Once energy extraction starts to have a significant problem with diminishing returns (such as in Figure 2), it is like losing energy resources into a sinkhole. More work is necessary, without greater output in terms of goods and services. Indirectly, economic growth must suffer. This seems to be the problem that the economy has been encountering in recent years. From the invisible hand’s point of view, $100 per barrel oil is very different from $20 per barrel oil.

One characteristic of dissipative structures is that they keep re-optimizing for the overall benefit of the dissipative structure. We saw in Figures 3 and 4 how fuel use and jobs rebalance around the world. Another example of rebalancing is the way the economy uses every part of a barrel of oil. If, for example, our only goal were to maximize the number of miles driven for automobiles, it would make sense to operate cars using diesel fuel, rather than gasoline. In fact, the energy mix available to the economy includes quite a bit of gasoline and natural gas liquids. If we need to use what is available, it makes sense to use gasoline in private passenger cars, and save diesel for commercial use.

Another characteristic of dissipative structures is that they are not permanent. They grow for a while, and then collapse. Later, new similar dissipative structures may develop and indirectly replace the ones that have collapsed. In this way, the overall system is able to evolve in a way that adapts to changing conditions.

What Are the Likely Events that Would Cause the Economy to Collapse?

I modeled the system as being like a self-driving car. The thing that keeps the system operating is the continued growth of inflation-adjusted wages of non-elite workers. This analogy was chosen because in ecosystems in general, the energy return on the labor of an animal is very important. The collapse of a population of fish, or of some other animal, tends to happen when the return on the labor of that animal falls too low.

In the case of the fish, the return on the labor of the fish falls too low when nearby supplies of food disappear, and the fish must swim too far to obtain new supplies of food. The return on human labor would seem to be the inflation-adjusted wages of non-elite workers. We know that wages for many workers have been falling in recent years, because of competition from globalization, and because of replacement of human labor by advanced machines, such as computers and robots.

Figure 6. Bottom 50% income share, from recent Piketty analysis.

Figure 6. Bottom 50% income share, from recent Piketty analysis.

Besides the problem of falling wages of non-elite workers, earlier in this post I mentioned a number of other issues that make the wages of these workers go less far. These include growing government spending, and the growing costs of education and healthcare. I also mentioned the problem of rising debt, and the increased concentration of wealth, as we try to add complexity to solve problems. All of these issues make it hard for “demand”–which might also be called “affordability”–to be sufficiently great to allow commodity prices to rise to the level producers need for profitability.

Prices Play a Very Important Role in the Economy

The pricing system is the communication system of the economy, as a dissipative structure. One use of energy is to create “information.” Prices are a high level form of information.

One big area where prices come up is with respect to the whole portfolio of products needed on a regular basis, which I mentioned earlier (water, food, energy products, and mineral products). In order for the system to continue working, the prices need to be both:

  • Affordable by consumers
  • High enough for producers to cover their costs, including a margin for taxes and reinvestment

Now, in 2017, prices are “sort of” affordable for consumers, but they are not high enough for producersOil companies will go out of business if these low prices persist.

Back in 2007 and 2008, we had the reverse problem. Prices were high enough for producers, but too high for consumers (especially non-elite workers). This is a big part of what pushed the economy into recession.

We noticed back in Figure 1 that quantities of energy products/goods tend to move up and down together. A similar phenomenon holds true for prices: commodity prices tend to rise and fall together (Figure 7).  The reason this happens is because when the world economy is moving swiftly forward (higher wages, more building activity, more debt), demand tends to be high for many different types of materials at the same time. When the economy slows, prices of all of these commodities tend to fall at the same time. Inflation tends to fall as well.

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

Figure 7. Prices of oil, coal and natural gas tend to rise and fall together. Prices based on 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy data.

If prices cannot rise high enough for producers, it is likely a sign that wages of non-elite workers are already too low. The affordability loop mentioned earlier is not being closed, so prices cannot stay up at a high enough level to maintain production.

Most Modelers Overlook the Fact that the Economy Is an Open System

Most energy models are based on one of two views of the world: (1) fossil fuel energy supply will eventually run short, so we must use it as sparingly as possible; or (2) we want to reduce the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible, because of climate change. Because of these issues, we want to leverage the fossil fuel energy we have, to as great an extent as possible, with energy that we can somehow capture from renewable sources, such as the solar energy or wind. With this view of the situation, our major objective is to create “renewables” that use fossil fuel energy as efficiently as possible. The hope is that these renewables, together with the actions of governments, will allow the economy to gradually shrink back to a level that is somehow more sustainable.

Implicit is this model is the view that the economy, and the world in general, is a closed system. Our current government and business leaders are in charge; they can make the changes they would prefer, without the invisible hand causing an unforeseen problem. Very few have realized that the economy cannot really shrink back very much; past history, as well as the nature of dissipative structures, shows that economies tend to collapse. The only economies that have at least temporarily avoided that fate have shifted toward less complexity–for example, eliminating huge government programs, such as armies–rather than yielding to the temptation to add ever more complexity, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

The real situation is that we have a here-and-now problem of too low wages for non-elite workers. Commodity prices are also too low. Intermittent renewables such as wind and solar are thought to be solutions, but it is well-known that intermittent renewables cause too-low prices for other types of electricity generation, when added to the electric grid. Thus, they are likely part of the low-price problem, not part of the solution. Temporary solutions, if there are any, are likely in the direction of cutting back on government expenditures and reducing regulation of banks. In fact, with the election of Trump and the passage of Brexit, the economy seems to again be re-optimizing.

We also know that dissipative structures do not shrink back well, at all. They tend to collapse, instead. For example, you, as a human being, are a dissipative structure. If your food intake were cut back to, say, 500 calories per day, how well would you do? If you could not get along on a very low calorie diet, how would you expect the economy to shrink back to a renewables-only level? Renewables that can be used in a shrunken economy are scarce; we don’t have a huge number of trees to cut down. We cannot maintain the electric grid without fossil fuels.

The assumption that the economy is a closed system is pretty much standard when modeling our current energy situation. This occurs because, until recently, we did not understand that the self-organizing properties of inanimate systems were as important as they are. Also, modeling of the economy as a closed system, rather than an open system, makes modeling much easier. The problem is that closed system modeling doesn’t really tell the right story. For a discussion of some of the issues associated with this mis-modeling, see the recent academic paper, Is the increased use of biofuels the road to sustainability? Consequences of the methodological approach.

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 inadequate supply.
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2,573 Responses to Oops! The economy is like a self-driving car

  1. Glenn Stehle says:

    Another week, another example of theU.S. shale industry takin’ names and kickin’ ass.

    From the EIA:


    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Your cluelessness is exhaustingly annoying…

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        What never ceases to amaze is the extent to which you will go to deny factual reality.

        • Kurt says:

          When you suck on a straw right near the end of a milkshake, you get a big hit. Takes a lot of effort and it doesn’t mean much – just that you are done with the milkshake.

    • Kurt says:

      But, but, it’s Glenn!

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      Fast Eddy,

      Don’t handle factual reality too well there, do we Fast Eddy?

      Of course thinking people not caught up in your goofy apopalyptic theology can’t help but notice that you don’t do facts, just your fundamentalist religious fanatacism.

      • A Real Black Person says:

        My vote is on stupid. Just because someone puts on glasses, does their best impression of a “Smart Person” and quotes from the EIA does it mean they have any special insight into anything.

        Here is the environment that rising oil shale production exists in.

        “Plunging prices have neither halted oil production nor stimulated a surge in global growth” (Economist)

        There is something really wrong with this environment.
        Normal supply and demand dynamics are not working as they should.
        More oil is being produced but less is being consumed. No one is buying the additional oil being produced. Shale oil is not being consumed. Oil producers, of all stripes, are not doing well. Oil producers are doing the very opposite of
        “takin’ names and kickin’ ass.” because the global economy is not doing well. There is a problem of low demand globally. Low demand, not rising efficiency, has driven prices for shale oil, regular oil, and other commodities, not just energy commodities, to levels too low for producers to cover their costs and earn a profit but the producers cannot cut production to get prices back to what they need to cover their costs and earn a profit because higher prices are politically untenable.

        What is going with shale oil is no different than the ghost cities in China. Things are being produced for customers that don’t exist. This mismatch between demand and supply is a symptom of an economy that is driven by monetary policy instead of sound economics.

    • houtskool says:

      Glenn, that’s not producing, its stealth monetizing.

      • timl2k11 says:

        Exactly. The royal shale debt bubble. Hmmm near 0% interest rates for almost a decade, surely that won’t end badly! I kid. It will.

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        Well once again, it’s amazing the mental contortions that the apocalyptic religious fanatics will resort to in order to deny factual reality. They invent all these highly twisted, convoluted narratives (such as yours) to explain away the facts — facts staring them straight in the face.

        Nevertheless, this in itself is not too disturbing.

        What is extremely distrubing, however, is that there are so many of you.

        In American Theolocracy, Keven Phillips cites pollind data which shows that “a quarter of churchgoers are full-fledged end-times believers.”

        And in Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Enviornmentalism and LIbertarian Political Culture, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson cites similar polling numbers: “one-quarter of Americans believed that Jesus Christ would return to the earth the following year.”

        When you add together the traditional religious apocalypticists to “the seculars” who believe the stealth religious disaster narratives that are popularized by Hollywood and pulp fiction authors like James Howard Kunstler, the total number of apocalypticists in the United States is truly amazing.

        And the apocalypticists of all varieties — the tradlitional religious ones as well as the stealth “secular” ones — are like all fanatical religoius cults: They have completely departed from factual reality, but believe that it is only they who are wise and knowing, and that everybody else is deluded and unknowing.

        So it’s a cult. It’s a private little club of self-selected individuals who have departed from factual reality, but falsely believe they have discovered sure truth. The entire world, according to them, except for those in the cult, is delusional.

        I don’t see how this mass departure from factual reality can be healthy, neither for the individual nor for the society. What positive purpose could it possibly serve?

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          • Glenn Stehle says:


            Doesn’t it not bother you at all that you have departed from factual reality?

            Do you believe your departure from factual reality is a good thing?

            This chart represents facts, in the sense that it is something that has alredy occurred, as has already happened in the past.

            • greg machala says:

              Wow that chart barely increases at all. And that is not shale oil production. That is US crude oil production. That is such a narrow snapshot of what will ultimately be the bumpy plateau of the tail of oil boom. Notice how it follows oil price rise over 50. Production will follow the price back down again as the price falling again right now. This is the bumpy plateau of the end of oil production. This is the Hail Mary pass folks. Everything is being thrown at this. And that small uptick is all we will get. You can see the full chart here: https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=WCRFPUS2&f=W

            • Jarvis says:

              Glenn I for one think that maybe your graph is correct and maybe they are getting 9 million barrels a day but what we ask is how sustainable is that ? Clearly it’s not. Why aren’t other countries fracking? Does it make any financial sense? Oil is just one commodity that life depends on so is electricity-and banking and let’s not forget we need a stable environment. Can’t you see that the planet is endowed with a finite amount of economical oil and we are rapidly reaching that end?
              I’m a banker so please forward me some graphs showing me the life sustaining banking industry is on sound footing so I can get some sleep tonight?

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              (lets see at the end of 2017 if we gt a big increase in LTO, and if things go from red to black.
              We will probably get a increase i the Permian, and possibly Eagle Ford, the Bakken will be down, so lets see if the offsets match up.
              If the $50 a barrel club keeps its meetings, red will continue to be the color.
              (actually at $80 I believe the color will be red on positive cash flow)

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              • greg machala says:

              Wow that chart barely increases at all.

              Yet one more exmple of the sort of fact-free nonsense that emanates from the apocalypse now club.

              • greg machala says:

              And that is not shale oil production.

              Yet one more example of the sort of distortioions and misinforation that the religious fanatics in the apocalypse now club trade in.

              Sure, there was some Gulf offshore production that came on line during this time. But the overwhelming majority of the producion increase came from shale oil. To argue otherwise is patently false, and just one more example of the fact-free inanities the apoclypse now club trades in.

              • greg machala says:

              Notice how it follows oil price rise over 50. Production will follow the price back down again as the price falling again right now.

              So you know what the future price of oil will be?

              The facts, however, say your price-predicing power sucks. If you’re so good at predicting oil prices, where are your billions you’ve made in commodities trading to prove it? They are of course like Erewhon: they are nowhere.

              Your biggest logical failure, however, is that you have ZERO ability to distinguish facts (things that have already ocurred) from your speculations and predictions (things you believe will occur with 100% certaintly in the future, but in reality may or may not occur).

              Believe it or not, there is a difference between facts and speculation, but this distinction seems to be completely foreign to you.

              • greg machala says:

              This is the bumpy plateau of the end of oil production. This is the Hail Mary pass folks. Everything is being thrown at this. And that small uptick is all we will get. You can see the full chart here:

              Spin, spin, spin.

              You have no idea what the future holds, and of course neither do I.

            • Sorry, I haven’t had time to do much moderation.

              Predicting the future, assuming that it will be much like the past, only better, is clearly wrong. This eliminates the popular scenario that we read in the press.

              We can look at this more closely, and get a pretty good idea of what the future cannot hold. This still doesn’t necessarily say what the future will hold. We can all make our guesses, and Fast Eddy has given you his. Mine might be a bit different.

              Sorry I don’t have a new post finished. Hopefully, it will be ready to put up tomorrow.

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Jarvis said:

              ….how sustainable is that ? Clearly it’s not.


              The unvarnished truth is this: Only time will tell. The future is unknowable.

              Most people in the oil and gas production business believe that it is not only sustainable, but that shale produciton will grow much greater over the next few years. But they could be wrong, just like you could be wrong.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            If you could put yourself in Glenn’s shoes you would understand what it is like to be a dunce…. what it is like to ignore facts and logic…

            And you’d find it not so amazing that you would believe shale oil is the saviour.

            Gail – Glenn is a troll. He needs to be removed. He is taking the piss. It’s either that or endless versions of the dunce cap

            • Tim Groves says:

              Come on Eddy, you of all people don’t need a safe space.
              You don’t have to do it gladly, but please put up with Greg.
              The run ins between you to are the best entertainment most of us get at OFW.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The thing is….. he refuses to engage ….. or he just spews more MSM diarrhea…. so I have no recourse but to post Dunce Cap images….

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Fast Eddy,

              Do you have any argument whatsover other than ad hominems?

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Fast Eddy: an orgy of ad hominems and a demand for censorship. These are the only two rhetorical strategies ( or non-strategies) that Fast Eddy has for prevailing in an argument, since his arguments are void of facts and sound logic.

        • Joebanana says:

          It must be a U.S. thing because I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone who thought the Second Coming was immanent. I know a few who did some prepping for Y2K but that is it.

          I’ve know both religious and secular who think the economy is going to go down the toilet but exceedingly few, as in nobody, outside of here, who thinks we are facing an existential threat.

          Mass departure from factual reality is as much a part of being human as using the bathroom. Whether good or bad, it can serve many a purpose.

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            Joebanana said:

            Mass departure from factual reality is as much a part of being human as using the bathroom. Whether good or bad, it can serve many a purpose.

            I agree. This is how the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson put it:

            Even massively ficticious beliefs can be adapative, as long as they motivate behaciors that are adaptive in the real world.

            — DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Naure of Society+

            Maybe that’s why there’s such a diversity of theolgies, because there exists many possibilities of finding one that works under new and changing conditins.

            If one theology isn’t adaptive, there exists a possiblity that at least one — amongst the hundreds or thousnds in existence — will prove to be adaptive under the new conditions, thus insuring the survival of the species.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Glenn – you have a promotion — from jester to The Dunce of FW.

            • Kurt says:

              Right, so what’s your point? Saudi’s can change production at will – even more impressively. OFW looks at the bigger picture. It isn’t a religion, just a look at the big picture from a different economic viewpoint. Keep sucking on that straw. It is irrelevant.

            • Glenn Stehle says:

              Kurt says:

              OFW looks at the bigger picture. It isn’t a religion, just a look at the big picture from a different economic viewpoint.


              OFW is all-knowing and all-seeing, and everybody else is stupid and ignorant.

              Believe it or not, that’s one of the hallmarks of a cult.

            • The “cult” can be correct, and everyone else can be wrong, however.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Neo-Shalites (otherwise known as Duncites)….. those who believe that shale oil (an industry that by all rights should not exist because it loses billions of dollars year after year) — is going to save the world

          Faith (i.e. belief in something that is fake) is a powerful thing

          • greg machala says:

            No doubt there is plenty of shale oil in the ground. But, It is like being surrounded by plenty of breathable and only able to breathe through a syringe.

            • greg machala says:

              No doubt there is plenty of shale oil in the ground. But, It is like being surrounded by plenty of breathable air and only able to breathe through a syringe.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              There is plenty of gold in the rocks on the west coast here in NZ…. but most of it does not get touched because even when gold was at 1800 bucks … it was not economically feasible to go after it…

              Now if the CBs were to give me a few billion dollars…. and a few billion next year… and the year after….

              I guarantee — I will deliver a great deal of gold.

              I’d be drowning in a sea of red ink… but if they want that gold badly enough — I’ll get it for them.

              Glenn is a dunce. He will be asking ‘what does gold have to do with shale’ because he is thick as a brick..

              Actually he is a troll – nobody can be THAT stupid

        • adonis says:

          the positive purpose is that we know that we live on a finite planet and eventually our way of life will come to an end that is the core belief of everyone who ends up on this site they have discovered the truth and can really live they know every day is a blessing Glenn is that what you believe ? i think from a small percentage of your writings that part of you does believe that the end is nigh or am i delusional ?

          • hkeithhenson says:

            ” we live on a finite planet”

            There are a few of us who agree it’s a finite planet, but we look up from the mud ball and see that there is a whole solar system out there. It can be turned into optimum living space for thousands of times the current population.

            If you look a little further out, the whole solar system is a tiny speck in the galaxy, and this galaxy is only one in a huge number.

            Of course, it’s possible, perhaps even probably, that the race will go extinct without getting into space. It’s also possible we could transcend (upload/speed up) and never go into space because the distances suddenly stretch out.

            • greg machala says:

              “but we look up from the mud ball and see that there is a whole solar system out there” – and that solar system is a dead battery too. The Earth is unique in that it has been charged up with an immense amount of biomass. The more science looks deeper into our solar system and deeper into space the more unique our planet becomes. You should read the Earth Battery paper. It will really make you appreciate what we have here on this planet. And the staggering rate at which we are depleting the biomass of this planet. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-08-11/the-earth-s-battery-is-running-low/

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “and that solar system is a dead battery too”

              Has the sun gone out where you live?

              I don’t think you grok the scale of the energy in sunlight. 3000 5 GW power satellites, which take something like 15 years start to finish, will replace every bit of fossil fuel humans are using on the planet. That includes making synthetic oil to replace the natural stuff.

              I have not worked the numbers, but I suspect that a few seconds of solar output is equal to all the fossil fuel the Earth ever made. Local GEO orbit has room to install 177 TW of power, which is something more than ten times the current energy consumption.

              Of course, energy is not as big a problem as getting rid of waste heat. It’s just possible that what we see around Tabby’s star are cold megastructure radiators built a long time ago by aliens.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Tabby’s star are cold megastructure radiators built a long time ago by aliens’

              Do you have any evidence of this — or was this just the first thing that popped into your head and that little man inside you said ‘post it Keith — hurry post it!!!’

              We should have a contest – who can post the most absurd comment — let me try to outdo you Keith:

              One of my dogs has informed me that she can sense that I am a little bit obsessed with the energy situation — she says ‘dogs can feel that sort of thing you know’

              She said Fast — no need to stress for I am the saviour — I am the Jesus Dog…. and you have cared for me — it was you who rescued me from sudden death in the Bali dog pound — it was you who did not leave me behind in Bali to be turned into sate when you moved to NZ — you took care of the 6+ months of isolation fees — and the plane tickets —- and now it is my turn to repay your kindness and loyalty to me’

              She did not explain how she will repay me but since she is the Jesus Dog — I am 100% certain that everything is gonna be alright.

            • doomphd says:

              good grief, space is an exceedingly hostile environment. unshielded, the sun’s radiation can be lethal, assuming we have all the other life support worked out, which we don’t. where, pray tell, will we go, Keith? Mars? It’s the only place in this solar system that even comes close to habitable by humans. About 10 Torr (10% of an atmosphere), -40C and a composition resembling car exhaust, only drier, and that’s on a balmy summer day near the equator.

              I can tell that you didn’t watch Prof. Bartlett’s lecture on video, as suggested, or you too, cannot appreciate or understand the implications of an exponential function. Sure, you know the math, you understand doubling times, but you don’t get the implications, or you would not post such drivel as you do here constantly.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And Keith responds with:

            • kokogunga says:

              If a cow gazes longingly at grass along side the highway on the way to the slaughter house is that a special cow? This “mud ball” is all we have or ever had. We totally disregarded are relationship with it. Now we face the consequences. Consequences are not easy so con men spring up who would discount the worth of our planet ,throw it away like a used bit of tissue and portray BS as truth. Any fantasy is preferable rather than face the consequences of our actions. We cant even wipe our ass but we can “transcend”? Keith your BS stinks worse than a Chicago slaughter yard.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am so happy this is all just a computer simulation —- and that when this edition finishes up … 2.0 Earth rolls out.

              I have my name in for ‘rock star’ in 2.0 —- based on the number of postings I have made on FW — surely I deserve consideration

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “unshielded, the sun’s radiation can be lethal”

              Every year several people die in Arizona from the sun’s radiation. The harder problem is long term exposure to cosmic rays.

              “where, pray tell, will we go”

              Space colonies. The basic engineering was worked out in the late 60 to early 70s by Dr. O’Neill and his students. The material in the asteroids is enough to build several thousand times the area of Earth in “inside out” worlds. Planets, Mars in particular, don’t make sense for a growing industrial civilization. BTW, ten Torr is 1.3% of an atmosphere.

              Re exponential function. we are in deep trouble without another person being born. Quitting burning fossil fuels and having the energy to capture some of the CO2 sounds like it’s needed without exponential growth.

            • Fast Eddy says:


              It seems that you really believe this — insane in the membrane…

            • hkeithhenson says:

              but we can “transcend”

              Please understand that the prospect seems unavoidable to me, like FE’s ideas of instant doom and burning reactor cooling ponds are to him.

              Some years ago I wrote a story to express my dismay at the prospect of what the singularity might do to humans. You can find it here http://www.terasemjournals.org/GNJournal/GN0202/henson1.html Most people who read the story think of it as a triumph of humanity where the actual story ending . . . well, you can read it if you want. There are ways of humanity going extinct that don’t include everyone dying.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The difference between me and you is that I have posted evidence that extinction by spent fuel pond radiation is pretty much guaranteed — unless you can explain how we manage these facilities without BAU.

              You on the other hand have posted nothing to convince anyone that space solar is possible:

              The SBSP concept also has a number of problems:

              The large cost of launching a satellite into space

              Inaccessibility: Maintenance of an earth-based solar panel is relatively simple, but construction and maintenance on a solar panel in space would typically be done telerobotically. In addition to cost, astronauts working in GEO orbit are exposed to unacceptably high radiation dangers and risk and cost about one thousand times more than the same task done telerobotically.

              The space environment is hostile; panels suffer about 8 times the degradation they would on Earth (except at orbits that are protected by the magnetosphere).[38]

              Space debris is a major hazard to large objects in space, and all large structures such as SBSP systems have been mentioned as potential sources of orbital debris.[39]

              The broadcast frequency of the microwave downlink (if used) would require isolating the SBSP systems away from other satellites. GEO space is already well used and it is considered unlikely the ITU would allow an SPS to be launched.[40]

              The large size and corresponding cost of the receiving station on the ground.[citation needed]
              Energy losses during several phases of conversion from “photon to electron to photon back to electron,” as Elon Musk has stated.[41]

              Keith – you are insane. Delusional.

              I am — generally speaking — quite sane. I do confess to harbouring fantasies about that K-Pop girl…. is a fantasy a delusion? I think not

            • DJ says:

              How could we survive in space?


              How long before health breaks down without gravity? How long before going insane on a small space ship?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I can solve the insanity problem — we just send people who are already insane into space — Keith and Glenn….

            • DJ says:

              I find it hard to believe they eat dogs in Bali.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              There was a vendor selling dog meat near where we lived…. I saw dogs being skinned nearby on numerous occasions — and once… when I was biking I saw a dog trussed up under a bamboo pole — I asked the guys carrying the dog what was up with that — and they said ‘sate’

            • 457hkfd says:

              “Quitting burning fossil fuels and having the energy to capture some of the CO2 sounds like it’s needed without exponential growth.”

              Except when we have added up the energy inputs for your proposals they are triple the output energy. KH EROI= .33. Carbon capture energy inputs alone would be half of the usable energy output of your proposed synthetic fuel.

              “sounds like its needed” The PV solar will save us crowd have a similar emotional tone. PV is a energy sink but its EROI is about .9. As crazy and wasteful as PV is its three times less wasteful than KH EROI.

              “It’s just possible that what we see around Tabby’s star are cold megastructure radiators built a long time ago by aliens.” Ah yes. I can just see you delivering that line with appropriate drama to your marks. OOOh megastructure! Wasnt he a famous transformer?

              “Please understand that the prospect seems unavoidable to me,”
              I understand that you are a predator. Your schtick is pretty standard but very polished.
              1 Making insane claims with fabricated metrics.
              2 Appealing to normalcy bias with a calm yet condescending emotional tone.
              3 Made up words that evoke imagery. power, science/magik and desirable outcomes.
              4 Name dropping, and association of yourself with any individual you see as powerful.
              The latter is too make sure that should someone rise to power you will be attached. “I have been following 3p0 s work in robotics since the 40s”

              You acknowledge a finite world and exponential growth only as a precursor to your schtick.

              In short all of the characteristics of a human that manipulates, uses and preys on other humans by using the circumstances of our predicament.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              FW is the wrong place to schtick

              Peak Prosperity is filled with fools who live for schtick

              Keith needs to take the band wagon over there

              Oh and Glenn — Chris M is a big believer in shale … he’d love you over there… you can even buy Premium Access.

        • kokogunga says:

          yah know folks he could have a point…

    • greg machala says:

      Let us see what industry professionals say about shale oil kicking ass and taking names:

      From: http://www.artberman.com/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-bakken-shale-play/

      The Bakken has produced 1.5 billion barrels of water along with its 2.2 billion barrels of oil over the decades. Where are they putting it and what does that cost?

      Investors should be worried. As analysts cheered the resilience of shale plays after the 2014 price collapse, nearly a billion barrels of Bakken oil were produced at a loss–about 40% of total production since the 1960s.Vast volumes of oil were squandered at low prices for the sake of cash flow to support unmanageable debt loads and to satisfy investors about production growth. The clear message is that investors do not understand the uncertainties of tight oil and shale gas plays.

      And all major Bakken producers continue to lose money at current wellhead prices. If observations presented here hold up, there may be nowhere for the Bakken to go but down. Higher oil prices may not help much because the best days for the play are behind us. Future profits were sacrificed for short-term objectives that lost the companies and their shareholders money.

      The early demise of the Bakken should serve as a warning about the future of other tight oil plays.

  2. Fast Eddy says:

    Canary….. coal mine….

    Restaurant Sales and Traffic Tumble in February

    Published March 8, 2017

    Same-store sales fell -3.7 percent in February, with traffic declining -5.0 percent. Unfortunately, January’s improved results were not a turning point in declining industry performance. Trends are hard to discern since weather, holiday shifts in Valentine’s Day and President’s Day and winter breaks distorted weekly results.

    A macro view leaves little room for optimism. Same-store sales averaged -2.7 percent for the last three months. February’s results were among the weakest in the last four years. This insight comes from data by TDn2K™ through The Restaurant Industry Snapshot™, based on weekly sales from over 26,000+ restaurant units and 145+ brands, representing $66 billion dollars in annual revenue.



    • Bergen Johnson says:

      Yeah, see that, California sales up .5 even though traffic down 2.3. People in other parts of the US make fun of CA because of the taxes but it’s a State doing just fine. Ya all come back now, ya hear?

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        Lets be honest.
        Without the Dog Track on Wall Street, some tech and good university around Boston, a few Bomb Factories in Colorado and Texas, a bunch of fructose producing GMO corn in the Midwest, and some nasty corporations in Washington State, we would be really Third Word without California.

        • Jesse James says:

          A bit of a juvenile statement trashing CO and TX. There is no doubt that when it comes to electronics and laser tech, CA has been the leader. However don’t forget the continued accomplishments of Texas Instruments. They are still leaders where many other competitors have disappeared. How many tens of billions have they made on the TMS320 family of DSPs alone, if not over a hundred billion by now? Plus TI still offers leadership products in many diverse markets. How about TX world leadership in oil tech. I guess that doesn’t mean anything to you….it only helped to power our civilization. Texas has a very diversified economy and I predict it will surpass CA one day. If it weren’t for social IT startups and huge social media corps, CA would probably be in the shitter today. cALPERS is a ponzi that will collapse. CA is heading toward 3rd world status. No one can afford to live there and many do not want to anymore.
          CO has a large diverse group of companies in the optics industry. The Boulder corridor is as high tech as anywhere. It would seem that CA is no longer the only home of high tech industry.
          Oh I forgot…according to you, TX and CO only have a few bomb factories…

          • Joel says:

            Good post, WWII era caused a spurt of growth out there IIRC. Spent about 15 years on/off in LA area, do not miss the traffic. The Northridge quake was kind of cool to witness.
            Also the 70 mile visibility was great for flying around, I really liked that, sold my airplane back in 1990 when I returned to the Midwest. Familiar with the TMS320 family years ago, had no idea they sold that many! What is it with the focus on the corn…. Had a Cal Tech software kid referring to “The Children of the Corn ” as his Midwest master cracked the whip. Some people just never learn.

  3. adonis says:

    Dear Glenn i have provided an interesting statement from Adam Sieminski who headed EIA sometime in 2012 read his comments and tell me if you believe that unconventional oil is our saviour ? Adam Sieminski, who headed EIA from June 2012 until January, discussed global supply trends during a panel discussion in Houston on the second day of CERAWeek by IHS Markit. He now is the James R. Schlesinger Chair for Energy and Geopolitics at DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization.

    A wave of global populism, evidenced by the United Kingdom’s potential exit from the European Union, geopolitical events and trade wars, create “a lot of uncertainties…in a lot of different areas,” Sieminski told the audience.

    An uplift in oil prices has encouraged U.S. unconventional producers to raise rigs and ramp up output. However, those short-term supply projects aren’t enough to compensate for depressed conventional oil production, which is the bulk of worldwide supply, he said.

    The expected shortfall in conventional output “might bite us at some point,”

    • greg machala says:

      Shale oil is not new. It has been known for decades.

    • Right, “The expected shortfall in conventional output “might bite us at some point.”

      A lot of people have missed the fact that coal production seems to already be dropping because of low prices. This is just as important as oil production, IMO. Prices have not shot up higher. The world economy operates on the total amount of energy available. Missing total energy, because of missing coal, is a big problem.

  4. Duncan Idaho says:

    One more time:
    Growth in oil rig count stalled in key LTO plays.

    US oil rig count is up 8 units, but 6 of them are in conventional basins.

    Permian: +1
    Bakken: unchanged
    Eagle Ford: -1
    Cana Woodford: -1

    Only Niobrara added 4 rigs, but oil rig count there only returned to January levels after having declined in the past 2 months.

  5. grayfox says:

    I’ve often thought that there are better places to live…places that are more friendly, less crowded, less expensive. But sometimes my home state does things that just make me proud…like banning a certain industry back in 2015, even if temporarily:

  6. Fast Eddy says:



    Soooooo….. Trump has taken the baton from Obama … and now there are American troops in Syria … see the video and the flags on the death machines…

    The Elders give the orders… and the actor.. I mean POTUS… reads the lines…

    This is getting very interesting — given the Russians have drawn a line in the sand in Syria…

    Perhaps we will put ourselves out of our misery with Global Thermonuclear War…

    I need to get down to The Warehouse tomorrow and buy a truck load of tin foil — enough to wrap the container — I am confident that doing so — along with stuffing wet towels in the cracks — will buy enough time to have a real good parteee…

    • Not likely, it’s more about the global PR line “.. ehm, look, afterall we (US) won against jihadis as well..” Because the success of Russian alliance has become too much visible punch in the face.

      The blowbacks of US+EU+Gulfies policy are epic, NATO key member Turkey came completely nuts and is no in strategic orbit with Russia, similarly to Egypt, possibly Libya, Algeria is already there. Not mentioning the heavy weights like Iran, China, .. and even some of the Gulfies starting to slowly diversify into Russian armaments now..

  7. Fast Eddy says:

    Drinking Shit


    I was in Varanasi a few years ago — and people were swimming in the sewer known as the Ganges — I asked one guy if he drank it — of course he said — I asked him if ever got sick – he was somewhat offended — and told me that the gods protect him…

    Who is more delusional:

    a) the Ganges Guy
    b) Keith Solar Insanity
    c) Glenn 50 Buck Club
    d) none of the above – they are all completely sane

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      Looks like you’re talking to yourself.

    • Tim Groves says:

      The Ganges Guy is the sanest of the three. The gods protect us all as much as they can. Otherwise we’d have all come to grief a long time ago.

      Keith’s retained a great deal of his childhood enthusiasm for science fiction, Arthur C, Clarke’s space elevator, Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker—the novel that introduced the Dyson Sphere—are not totally beyond the realms of possibility in his mind. I lost my ability to believe in such possibilities a long time ago, and as a result I’m almost jealous of Keith.

      As for Glenn, he’s not prepared to accept the possibility, let alone the inevitability, that the end of BAU is going to come like the proverbial thief in the night. I expect lot of his oil postings are attempts to reassure himself that everything’s OK, and if he can get some of the Doomers to agree with that it would be a bonus psychologically.

      Glenn’s correct that the Doomers are a cult. But he doesn’t fully understand that the non-Doomers form cults too. Just consider the Cult of Fashion, the Cult of Speed, the Cult of the Donald, the Cult of the SJW, the Cults of Climate Alarm and Climate Denial, the Cult of the Sports Worshipper, and the most annoying one going on around me these days—the Cult of the Smartphone. Then there’s the Solar Jesus Cult, the Bucket List Pilgrim Cult, and Glenn’s own 50 Buck Cult that sees evidence of a continuing cornucopia in the latest oil industry data.

      I googled “cult” and the definition it brought up first was “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.” And that’s us. It’s what humans do, and most of us do it habitually and religiously. Probably its something Mr DNA wired into us to allow us to survive better when times are tough.

      • Joel says:

        Pleased to see that others can appreciate the possibilities that Keith can still see. I very much look forward to hearing more from him, sounds as though you have witnessed these inspired thoughts for some time. As a neophyte here I now find that it is better to just observe then engage in real time.
        I’m finding this site brightens my day and look forward to getting up to date on the previous dialog which has taken place. Sorry to hear you did not retain your childhood enthusiasm for science fiction, I regained it in my post working years, there may still be hope.
        Enjoyed your post…

        • Tim Groves says:

          Thanks Joel! To clarify, I still enjoy science fiction, but purely as fiction and entertainment. I no longer dare to dream we are going to become a space-faring species, colonizing other worlds and setting up in the asteroid belt regardless of the physical possibilities. Of course, that MIGHT happen. Indeed, it MIGHT even be going now in secret for all we know. How many trillions of dollars of Pentagon spending can’t be accounted for? And all those healthcare premiums and payments can hardly all be going on healthcare. 🙂

    • xabier says:

      I once suggested to an Iranian lady that the water problem there – the govt. estimates that 40% of farmland will be unusable shortly due to over-extraction, etc – might be due to excessive use, over-population. This caused great offence:

      ‘Nonsense! It’s divine punishment for the dictatorship of the mullahs! We have always used a lot of water, but it never ran out! Only under them are we having problems!’

      Pretty much on a par with drinking Ganges water and imaging that the gods are protecting you……

      • Tim Groves says:

        There were 37 million Iranians when the mullahs took over. There are over 80 million of them now, sharing that same limited water supply.

        The entire MENA region is severely over-populated compared to available water resources, and ground water at the rate the Iranians are using it is a finite resource.

        Divine punishment for the dictatorship of the mullahs! That7s one way of looking at it, since the mullahs have hard at work these last 38 years encouraging the Iranians to have more kids.

        • i was under the impression that the iranians had a functioning birth control system—not that it does them much good of course in the long run

          in any event, the latest doomnews has it that 20 million people across africa/yemen are at starvation point, all due to overpopulation and climate change—just another sign for everyone to ignore i guess—another hoax..

          40 years ago it was famine in biafra—with 5 million starving.

          now we’ve accellerated the hoax process to 20 million.
          for those 20 m people—the end times have arrived.
          some of them will be fed, and survive.
          they will reproduce themselves again to face the next war/famine/drought.

          There are just too many people, we see ourselves as immune, but we are just as vulnerable—they are just a bit further advance thats all.

          What next?—100 million?—as each food crisis hits, the means to do anything about it diminishes.
          the end result of that progression is obvious, and negates the constant argument about whether to go on fracking, the barrel/price of oil or if we should move to mars

          Wealthy Saudi has 14 million Yemenis starving to death next door and seem to be ignoring the problem. This is a sign of the future when the global food system goes down

        • Fresh water seems to be as much of a limit as anything, in quite a bit of the world.

  8. el mar says:

    Fracking is like an alkcoholic sipping a glass of beer out of the carpet or a junkie looking for some last coins between lounge bolsters. It is last stage action.

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