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

  1. Trousers says:

    I’m in the midst of a dilemma,

    My partner wants children. I think that would be incredibly irresponsible….
    I can’t explain why… This could end our relationship…
    What to do?

    • Dr Phil not so good says:

      The only purpose of long term relationships is to raise children. I don’t buy that nonsense about companionship since that can be achieved outside ltr

      • Trousers says:

        I have battled with social anxiety disorder and have been alone for many years. Believe me, having a partner and that companionship is a very big thing. Also she has a child from a previous relationship and I love her very much too…

        I have a lot to lose.

        • Dr Phil not so good says:

          It looks as though she is the only source of your self esteem. It looks like you will have to do as she says because your other options will be a lot of self-loathing. You do value your newfound self esteem above everything else, don’t you?

          • Trousers says:

            I wouldn’t like to go back to my old lonely existence. Is it about self esteem? No, it’s about companionship.

        • we are here to consume and reproduce

          we must not delude ourselves there is any other grand purpose for us—even ranting on OFW doesn’t count in th grand scheme of things

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Sure – just go to Bangkok and for not much cash you could keep yourself in company every night of the week…. you can even delude yourself into believing it’s not the money….

        • Trousers says:

          I couldn’t f*ck off to Asia. I have family here in the UK. I don’t even like being abroad very much, though Italy might appeal. I go to the football every week. I’d miss these things.

          Honestly I’m not making this stuff up.

      • Dr Phil not so good says:

        Unless you have an underlying neurological condition that causes social anxiety, it is caused by psychological issues, one of which can be low self esteem .

        • Trousers says:

          It might well be a psychological condition. All I know is it has been a part of my experience as long as I can remember and there is no obvious cause. My sister has never had any such problems.

          • doomphd says:

            Finite Word commentary is not a good place to discuss your personal life, unless of course, you don’t mind the elemental deconstruction and can endure the black, gallows humor.

            If love is so grand and special, why do lifelong mates often tie up in the neighborhood, usually not even from across town (too far, I guess) unless some other circumstances prevail? Some old mates of mine used to remark that all my GFs lived within walking distance of my place of work. True, too, except I came from out of town, state, even different continent. So I reckon more thought goes into buying a new vehicle or PC.

        • i1 says:

          No man, mine is caused by interaction with delusional people which is unavoidable at this point.

          • smite says:

            Of which there are plentiful in both side of the sexes, especially the superficiality and passive-aggressive kind in the female one.

            Trust me, after you have gone through a few of ’em, you’ll begin to appreciate your solitude.

            It is all deception, eons of evolution and survival of the fittest make the male mind desire companionship, sex and ‘love’ where your partner wants children your utility and resources.

            This asymmetry won’t ‘cure’ any mental condition, it will quite possibly make it worse once you are no longer considered beneficial and discarded as the loser you will be made to represent.

            Good luck.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              “Trust me, after you have gone through a few of ’em, you’ll begin to appreciate your solitude.”

              Yep that’s me loll!!!

    • jeremy890 says:

      At this point, does it really make a difference at all?
      Make her Happy and let her enjoy the experience of Motherhood.
      Not worth giving up on a working relationship.
      Never know, Jesus might come down and save us all!
      Sam Kinison answered that one.. Don’t think so and lie to keep together
      Good luck!

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I agree – if it is that important to her — and you do not want to lose her (and ‘The Strategy’ does not dissuade her)…

        Then just go ahead…

        What does it matter? Everyone dies at some point no matter what…

        • Trousers says:

          Hmmm, I suppose death by radiation poisoning as a child ultimately is the same as death by cancer your 70s. Either way you’re imposing suffering on someone.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            And…. you can train them to mix and bring you drinks for the end of the world party.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      There is a fine line between convincing a spouse not to have children – and ending up divorced…

      What you need to do is drop subtle hints about how the world is going to pieces and that the future for the next generation is bleak…. don’t go to far … and don’t be too insistent…. just bits and pieces of info here and there…

      You can also point out the advantages of not having children – the freedom to get up and go — how they are a financial burden — point to friends and family who are struggling financially due to kids …. and ever time someone complains about the downside of having kids make sure to agree…. create consensus…

      Whenever the kid of someone goes bad — into drugs… drops out… is in jail …. be sure to ride that pony — say jeez that would suck to have a kid turn out like that! Must be brutal for the parents…. they raised Johnny so well — but look at that useless piece of shit — you never know… you NEVER know….

      And when you are on an aircraft and you hear those little monsters howl — talk that up — ‘how can people deal with that day after day – the stress must be incredible!’

      And finally — if you are looking for a really cheap shot — when you see someone with a profoundly disabled child — can’t communicate … needs continuous care forever …. being wheeled around by brave parents ….. be sure to quietly comment about how horrible that must be for the parents… it’s bad enough to have a kid without any disabilities… but imagine the burden that they must carry — your entire life dedicated to the care of that poor child.

      Don’t overwhelm your partner …. you must be strategic… if it appears that you have an agenda to brainwash here …. she will catch on … and that could mean she kicks your ass out….

      Best of luck ….. and btw … I don’t have any kids…. my wife is very much against that idea 🙂

    • Yorchichan says:

      Are you sure that your partner really wants another child? Single mothers can find it difficult to find a man willing to support both them and their existing children. It may be that she wants another child only because she wants to make sure you stick around in the relationship. Try to find out the truth of the matter, because if neither of you really want a child, it would be tragic to have one for the wrong reasons.

    • Joebanana says:


      You need to decide if you want to suffer alone or with others and ask yourself if you have the capacity to watch the people you love suffer because suffer they will.

    • If you are up to marrying her, and taking care of two children on as permanent a basis as we have, (yours and the previous one), I might go along with the child.

      You are not going to be able to save the world by not having a child. We don’t really know how this is going to turn out. Stopping at one would not be a bad idea. If things turn out bad quickly, stopping at one may be the only option.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Or…. you could hope that this lasts a couple of more decades…. and breed up a small army of child soldiers (if you indoctrinate them early enough and establish a cult of personality I understand they can be very loyal)…. and when the SHTF you have your own personal Praetorian Guard.


      • Karl says:

        This. I have two children, and did so after becoming aware of peak oil (but before reading about Fast Eddy’s spent fuel ponds). I would do it again. None of us is guaranteed a full life expectancy at birth, and never have been. Disease, violence, starvation, these have always been with us. Despite them, we persist. And though I can’t point to obvious flaws in Gail’s analysis, I likewise didn’t see Central Bank printing and shale oil coming. The German Government said we would be down 10mbd by 2015. No one has a crystal ball. Prepare to the extent your finances allow, have a plan for if things go south, and then live your life. They might invent fusion tomorrow, or you might be hit by a bus. Life goes on until it doesn’t………

    • Rainydays says:

      I was thinking the same when my wife wanted children. Why bring children into this world destined for collapse. Now I have two children and never been happier. If you love her and her child then I suggest you go for it. Enjoy each day with people you love, there is no better way to live. Don’t worry about collapse because you can’t do anything about it.

  2. adonis says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/that-85-million-painting-bought-as-an-investment-now-down-74 interesting signs of contraction in art sales is this an omen of asset destruction to come

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      At least it is an investment opportunity *within* China. Whether or not there are any legitimate returns to be made there remains to be seen…

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        China is extremely poor in conventional oil and gas reserves, and the problem is even more acute on a per capita basis.

        China only has something like 20 to 25 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, and less than 5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

        This is one of the casuses that has driven China to be the world’s leader in developing renewable energy supplies. China simply lacks other options in the conventional fossil fuel department.

        China, however, is extremely rich in non-conventional natural gas. The latest EIA estimate pegs China’s shale natural gas resources at 1115 trillion cubic meters, and its oil resources at 32 billion barrels.

        China is also attempting to tie up foreign oil and gas reserves. The ambassador to Mexico from China, for instance, announced a month or so ago that if the U.S. wants to play hardball with Mexico, that it is willing to come into Mexico and develop its massive shale oil and gas resources. And this in the US’s patio atras! Imagine that! That would be an unbelievable blow to US regional hegemony. All of Hillary Clinton’s hard work in pushing though Mexico’s energy reform so that the US could appropriate Mexico’s vast shale oil and gas resources would have been in vain.

        Surprisingly, Trump this week did a complete reversal on his immigration policy from Mexico:

        Suddenly, Trump says he is open to path to legal status

        What caused this 180 degree reversal from a week earlier, when Trump was threatening Mexico with not only deporting Mexican citizens back to Mexico, but the nonsensical notion of deporting non-Mexican citizens to Mexico as well? Trump seems to have had quite an epiphany.

        U.S. transnational corporations are very alarmed by Trump’s anti-Mexicanism. Did they put a bug in his ear that they do not want to be disinvited to Mexico’s upcoming shale energy party, which looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest in the world?

        Or did the Catholic Church get to him? Sixty percent of Catholics voted for Trump, so it is one of his largest bases of his popular support. And while the Catholic Church is anti-abortion, it is certainly not anti-Mexican. As Newt Gingrich said, if Trump tries to deport the Dreamers, every church in America will be converted to a sanctuary.

        I think Trump is having a hard time maintaing peace within the family. Besides the transnational oil and gas corporations and the Catholics, under Trump’s tent are also the racists and anti-immigration hardliners, who are sure to be very upset with Trump’s new immigraiton posture.

        • Harry Gibbs says:

          “China is also attempting to tie up foreign oil and gas reserves.” They are indeed. China is now the largest oil operator in our own North Sea.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Because Glenn is a clown — he does not wonder why shale has happened in the US… but nowhere else….

        If he were not a clown he would challenge the MSM — because as we know – the MSM is mostly fake news — lies… and needs to be challenged…


        According to a new analysis from World Resources Institute, 38 percent of the world’s shale resources face high to extremely high water stress or arid conditions. Without proper management, water risk could seriously constrain the expansion of shale gas.

        While many countries are sitting on large shale gas reserves, the process of injecting water and chemicals into underground shale to extract fuel is highly water intensive. It’s not enough to identify the places with the biggest potential for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil. Energy prospectors also need to know whether there is enough water to get the fuel out of the ground.

        For the first time, this information is publicly available. WRI’s new report Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability and Business Risks, looks at the 20 countries with the greatest shale resources and then looks deeper, at the available water near the shale areas.

        Five of the countries with the biggest potential – China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and South Africa – could face problems in tapping this energy resource due to water stress.


        Oh and there is the other issue — shale is NOT profitable at $50 — if you discount all other costs associated with sinking the wells and just focus on what it actually costs to pump the oil out of the ground sure — but then conventional oil would be profitable on that basis as well…

        And btw — I own a factory that sells widgets at $2 each — if I strip out debt servicing on the mortgage for the factory — the R&D costs — and everything except the electricity and wages of the workers — I am making money. Anyone want to buy shares in my factory?

        Shale is a lie – it is a Ponze — it should not exist.

        The central banks are underwriting shale because without that oil collapse would have already happened.

        They underwrite just enough of these bullshit plays to ensure adequate global oil supply — and no more.

        If it were not bullshit then Oil Majors would phase our all unprofitable conventional drilling operations and instead pour into all of these countries with shale potential — and they’d no longer be insolvent.

        But Glenn is a clown – he cannot see what is obvious.

        • xabier says:

          Fracking in the UK is certainly not viable on any identified site except Lancashire – one of the wettest regions of the island.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Doesn’t matter xabier…. the spin masters can overcome that…

            That is how the markets work….

            Take Tesla for instance — any analyst who is not a fool would know that this is a joke…. it should not exist.. it should be bankrupt ….

            It loses thousands on every car sold — in spite of massive subsidies… it is a business based on hype…. and outright lies…

            But it does not collapse – investors believe the lies and hype — and they pour more good money after bad….

            So long as the hype is believed — Tesla goes on….

            The same goes for shale — anyone with half a brain would look at this and conclude the shale is little different from Tesla — it is fake … it is not a viable business…


            But look no further than the resident clown Glenn to observe how the stupid and gullible gobble up the hype — the truth can be put in front of them x 100 — but they will ignore it…. they believe what the MSM feeds them….

            So China has huge water problems already that make shale a no go — so what if shale is a fake business…

            It does not matter — the spin masters will ignore those inconvenient facts…. momentum is all that counts —- a wonderful story that exudes hopium and the smell of getting rich…..

            That is what the markets are these days.

            That is the only way we get a situation like this:


            Fake news. Fake markets.

            The creator must enjoying himself immensely — he’s changed all the rules and is watching all the avatars rush about in great confusion trying to make sense of the situation

    • Craig Moodie says:

      And again

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      Those are some disturbing images, FE.

    • It would be better if China had a half-way reasonable amount of water.

  3. Glenn Stehle says:

    US Crude Oil Production Boost On Collision Course With OPEC Cuts

    Armed with $50-plus oil prices, exploration and production (E&P) companies aren’t wasting any time.

    As the fourth quarter 2016 earnings season comes to a close, a key trend to emerge is that U.S. E&Ps are planning to spend more than analysts expected this year….

    And that extra cash could generate as much as 1 million more barrels of oil per day next year, analysts at Simmons & Company International, said.

    “We believe investors need to begin entertaining the possibility of 1 million barrels per day of oil production growth in 2018,” the analysts wrote.

    Coming into 2017, those estimates were closer to 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) and the higher volumes were expected in 2019 – not a year early….

    But that equates to a production outlook at that is “good for the companies; not as good for the macro,” the analysts said….

    For its part, OPEC has suggested the United States should consider its own production cuts – not increases. In November, the organization pledged cuts to help rebalance the market; soon afterward, several non-OPEC nations – including Russia – followed suit….

    Oil prices react daily to U.S. drilling activity, losing ground when domestic increases overshadow OPEC and non-OPEC cuts, who are on track to meet reduction goals. Member nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their non-OPEC counterparts agreed last year to remove almost 1.8 million barrels per day (MMbpd) from the market beginning last month. To date, they have met 1.5 MMbpd of the goal….

    “The tension will be the ongoing contest and collision of U.S. vitality juxtaposed against international non-OPEC stagnation and the durability of OPEC’s return to rational guardianship,” Simmons said. “We continue to be impressed by an industry that has driven the cost curve dramatically lower from a few years ago and is now capable of delivering double digit oil production growth in a lower commodity environment.”….

    Not everyone is convinced.

    Analysts at R.W. Baird & Co. said exploration and production companies are leaning in with an optimistic outlook on crude this year, but investors remain wary.

    “Higher spend is driving higher growth outlooks,” the analysts wrote in a research note Tuesday. “However, growing cash needs are creating a negative sentiment shift as cautious investors hold a ‘prove it to me’ attitude, with skeptical views” of second-half growth guidance.

    “We also see more inherent risk in future (vs. immediate) production combining poorly with a macro environment that remains volatile and uncertain,” WF said.

    • Craig Moodie says:

      And again

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Glenn – Exxon market cap dropped $40+ billion within days of acquiring XTO shale ..roughly the price of the acquisition including debt obligations – can you show me where they put that value back on their books recently?

      Actually – if shale is so profitable (suddenly) then that acquisition should be worth far more than that.

      Surely there must be an article celebrating the brilliance of Exxon management for seeing the future and acquiring XTO? Surely there must be people at Exxon who are ridiculed for wasting $40 billion dollars — who would want their reputations repaired?

      Surely Exxon has a PR department that would get in touch with the financial MSM and have them write glowing pieces about how awesome the XTO purchase turned out in the end.

      Come on Glenn — give me some spin that is actually useful — that actually supports this other horseshit that you post day after day.

      Whow me that the XTO play has been re-booked that asset at a hefty premium to purchase price.

      I’ve already looked Glenn — there is nothing.

      Shale is bullshit. It is ‘a retirement party’ for BAU.

      You are a clown and you are cluttering up FW with fake news from the ministry of truth.

  4. Glenn Stehle says:

    BP Says Peak Oil Demand May Occur Post-2050, Plans to Increase Production

    In the wake of the expected growth trends set out by its energy outlook, BP plc revealed in its latest strategy update that it anticipates production to increase by an average of 5 percent per year from 2016 to 2021….

    Oil demand may not begin to fall until the second half of the century, according to BP plc’s Energy Outlook, which was released at the end of January.

    “If, for example, global GDP growth turns out stronger than a simple extrapolation would imply, or road vehicle efficiency improves less quickly, plausible scenarios suggest oil demand may not begin to fall until the second half of the century,” BP said in its 2017 Energy Outlook.

    The oil major did admit however that other scenarios were possible, stating that a “simple extrapolation” of trends would suggest that oil demand may start to decline during the mid-2040s.

    “But it might peak much sooner or later,” the report said.

    BP’s Energy Outlook primarily considers a base case outlining the “most likely” path for global energy markets over the next 20 years, based on assumptions and judgements about future changes in policy, technology and the economy.

    According to the report, demand for oil and other liquids is expected to increase throughout the outlook, growing from around 95 million barrels per day (MMbpd) in 2015 to 110 MMbpd by 2035…

    “Natural gas grows more quickly than either oil or coal, overtaking coal to be the second largest fuel source by 2035,” he added.

    Gas is projected to grow by around 1.6 percent per year, on average, over the outlook.

    “Shale gas accounts for around two thirds of the increase in total production … driven by U.S. shale, which more than doubles, supported by the emergence of China as a sizeable shale gas producer,” Dale said.

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      “But it might peak much sooner or later,” the report said.

      That’s some nice circumspection there. Justin Time will approve!

    • Craig Moodie says:

      OMG here we go again!

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The group turned a profit of $72m (£58m) in the final quarter, against losses of $2.2bn (£1.8bn) a year earlier.


      If only BP would dump all those money losing conventional plays and re-focus on shale only — they could turn this around overnight …

      All they need is another Beyond Petroleum bit of spin … kind of like what Exxon is doing — only on a much grander scale….

      The CEO simply has to book a spot on CNBs…. and state: We are ditching all conventional oil — shale is the future – shale is cheaper to produce than conventional — we are investing $500 billion starting tomorrow — and we will be the most profitable oil company on the planet

      Then watch the share price go through the roof.

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        The stock prices of those companies which operate predominately in the Permian Basin shales and aren’t loaded down with a bunch of sunk investment in high-cost, money-losing conventional oil, Canadian oil sands, deep-water, teritary recovery projects, etc. are going through the roof.




          • Fast Eddy says:

            If you are having trouble with the fine print that depicts the performance of bernie madoff’s funds….

            Right up until….

            Glenn – show me where XTO has been put back on the books of Exxon at a profit.

            They still own the play — so if shale is now suddenly so profitable –it should be marked to the current market value. Exxon should be rejoicing.

            If you cannot do that then piss off.

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            So are all men pedophiles?

            Do all men beat their wives?

            Is every stock that rises in price a ponzi scheme?

            Are all those who invest in stocks stupid and gullible and ignorant of what they are doing, but you of course are not? And you’re a financial genius who has made billions with your uncanny ability to predict markets, right?

            • Kurt says:

              Relax, you have entered the tin foil hat world of FE. It rarely makes any actual sense.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Is every stock that rises in price a ponzi scheme?

              Ask yourself — what would happen if this Sunday evening the central bankers of the world were issue a joint press release stating that QE stops Monday morning — market forces will set interest rates without interference.

              ALL stocks would crash – ALL property values would crash — ALL asset prices would crash (gold and silver excepted)

              The entire F*&^%$ world is a Ponze. Are you a bat? Cannot you not see this?

              Shale is the mother of all Ponzes — look at this heaping pile of dung — and tell me these are fundamentally sound businesses. They are absolutely not. They are products of hype.

              But the good thing is people like you believe the hype — because if nobody did then that oil would stay in the ground — and we’d be in a world of hurt.


              Hedge funds are struggling to beat the indices in this environment — how am I supposed to out-perform them? The only interaction I have had with the stock markets has been through an index fund — which I cashed out of last year.

              I no longer invest. I run my businesses hoping they will be some of the last men standing. I have a back-up of physical gold should my other sources of income vapourize before BAU

              My only ambition is to be able to continue to support my current lifestyle up until BAU goes down.

            • Justin Time says:

              We live in a ponzi scheme.

              Has to end some time.

              Imagine towers built upon towers extending ever higher into the heavens while the foundations are rapidly crumbling away. Unless you believe in magical floating cities collapse is inevitable.

        • We can’t get along with this small portfolio of companies, however.

  5. dolph says:

    People respond to collapse, even if they don’t know it as such.
    For example, my sister and brother-in-law, both well off physicians, relocated to a different city for two purposes: to send their kids to better schools, and to be close to my parents, who can assist them.
    Now, think about it. What is this action other than a frank admission that the public school system in some parts has outright failed, and that, even allowing for that, they still need the assistance of others in child rearing so they can go to work?

    So, in a sense, they responded to a fact of collapse, without understanding the bigger picture thereof, or willingness to discuss it. They are far too busy making “money” and paying the mortgage, trying to save patients, etc.

    People will indeed respond to changes on the ground, even if they never accept that these changes are part of a larger picture of industrial collapse. So what need to do is make those changes ourselves, but keep in the back of our mind, we are actually running for the hills because this thing is coming down.

    • Exactly, however, I’d add there are likely several collapse waves-trends ongoing at the same time, and some are slowish, others slower, and some sort of slowed down, ..

      How specifically are they going to crunch on the tasty pie of the very core infrastructure and JIT layers is the question. So far we can witness, jettisoning the periphery as can kicking works for a while, e.g. all these Venezuelas, Ukraines and Syrias..

      But when you can no longer get spare parts for your german or japanese robots or medical equipment, that’s quite another league completely. Not sure how far we are from these “real” thresholds (by the years or decades?), at lest from the perspective of the majority of visitors/posters here..

    • xabier says:

      Exactly: formerly, they could have either bought the labour of servants, rather than relying on the poor old grandparents, or the wife would have been without a profession and stayed at home – again with servants pre-1914 (or maybe they died out earlier in the US than in Europe, I have a suspicion they did?)

      In England, hiring servants became difficult 1918-1939, and after 1939, forget it. All those poor helpless aristos and upper middle class after the war.

      The British working class began to see service as really degrading in the second half of the 19th, ie shop workers, etc, started to look down on servants and not associate with them! Working people also had their snobberies. In part it was due to the very poor wages and very long hours with no holidays to speak off.

      By the way, I have a cultural question for US and maybe Canadian commenters: what is a ‘teamster’ in the US? I assume it’s an urban labourer, as they always seem to be employed by cities and unionised, but it makes no sense at all in British English! Now someone will tell me it’s a good old 17th c English word, like so many Americanisms……

      • Joebanana says:

        In Canada, people think of teamsters as a union that started with truck drivers. Most under 40 don’t know what they are in these parts at least.

      • Froggman says:

        Teamsters are just a particular union in the US, a fairly large one I think. They represent a wide variety of blue collar workers.

      • Xabier, after 1991 it became quite easy to hire servants if they were from another culture. And now servants from Philippines are quite popular. Cheap, less troubles, and easy to fire.

        • xabier says:

          Thanks for explaining teamsters.

          • ItBegins says:

            Homer and some Teamsters have a “lazy-off”. It is inconclusive whom won.

            • xabier says:

              A hole had to be dug in the road by my house. As I biked into town at about 9.30am, the men were celebrating the end of set-up time – putting up the warning signs, barriers, hooking up the generator, etc- with a nice little break in the sun, each had an excellent beach deckchair and they sat in a row. It amused me, I don’t begrudge anyone a little sun, above all on this delightful island….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Sorry Dolph but this is not collapse …. the schools still operate… students still attend… teachers show up for work and get paid ….

      Just because those schools were not deemed good enough for their precious children does not mean they have collapsed.

      Just to let you know — this comment has you in the running for this weeks Most Delusional Comment Award….

      Glenn – can you beat that???? Put on your delusion cap and don’t think… and I am sure you will come up with something

    • Sceadu says:

      I’m fascinated by the implosion of retail. Several stores that I frequented for years have gone under — entire nationwide chains. I keep seeing reports of other department or big box stores struggling. People always chalk it up to online sales taking over the market, but I am not so sure. It seems like some buying power is being lost out there. Even chains like Target, with its extensive website, are suffering. People are so quick to explain this away, but it now seems like a long-term trend that is a symptom of a larger underlying problem.

  6. MG says:

    The coal era ended with 2 world wars. It was the transformation of coal into electricity and oil and natural gas that provided the subsequent growth.

    In order to continue the growth, we need the infrastructure: iron pipes are replaced by plastic ones, we do not need wires for telephones anymore, too.

    To keep the infrastructure and energy cost as low as possible is the task of the day, but the costs get out of control:




    • Justin Time says:

      We still have wires for telephones where I live (spain). Not so in Slovakia?

      We mostly have landline, internet and mobile packages.

      I guess with the promise of 4g and 5g networks we could finally ditch the wires. I’ve heard that the roll out of fiber optic cables has been stalled because some bright spark was able to increase speeds down copper or aluminum lines the last mile or whatever.

      Things don’t always work out the way you think they’re going to.

    • pipes and wires come under the heading : “Stuff”

      our progressive infrastructure requires stuff to functon–roads, schools, hospitals houses—you name it

      but all that stuff is in fact an energy sink. your house is an energy sink that will likely dissipate over the next 100 years–requiring replacement (more energy input)

      whereas to make an economy ”grow” you need energy input at an ever increasing rate–you cannot grow an economy simply by manufacturing ”things” and expecting it to go on forever.
      it just doesn’t work that way

      iron pipes or plastic pipes—both are a derivative of fossil fuel energy input, and that finite energy is permanently lost to our growth environment forever.

      our problem is not so much shortage of stuff, but the necessary cheap energy with which to make it, and the fact that wages remain low so that consumers can’t buy iy.

      • Hm, that’s why one of the first reaction to looming limits to growth is attempted isolationism aka jettison global for the regional/local fiefdom perceived longer term security.. at least in the eyes of one power faction, such development as we predicted here and elsewhere..

        Hilarious article from yesterday>>

        As Bloomberg adds the Trump administration’s skepticism toward the WTO, the Geneva-based body that referees trade disputes, signals a new willingness by the world’s biggest economy to pursue its interests – even if it means undermining the global order the U.S. has led since World War II.

        “It reflects their belief that the global system isn’t serving U.S. interests and they’re going to do all they can to rewrite in favor of U.S. interests,” said Adam Taylor, a former senior Canadian trade official based in Ottawa. “The biggest worry is that you can’t have the rules that govern the global trading system being ignored by one party and expect the system to keep functioning.”

      • doomphd says:

        Norman, I remind you that some stuff is still being made and folks are still buying stuff, otherwise, we wouldn’t be here discussing it all on the internet.

        Besides, today is a lot like yesterday, and I’m sure tomorrow will be a lot like today, so why worry? — farmer’s hen.

    • MG says:

      The electricity theft is the final stage before the collapse of the electricity grid and generation:

      ECJ: utility discriminated against gypsies by making it harder for them to steal electricity


      PPC losing millions due to power theft


  7. Before World War I, such was the way things were, and although there were sporadic strikes here and there the people largely accepted the status quo as it is since that was how things were everywhere on earth.

    But the Serbian miscreant shot the Austrian archduke, the Great War broke out, and a moron named Charles Fitzclarence ordered 200 Worcester men which he did not command in Gheluvalt on Oct 28, 1914, which stopped the German advance there. His stupid action prolonged the Great War by 4 years, and created millions lower class people with military experience which the elites had to fear, not to mention the fall of 4 empires and the rise of communism and other extremism.

    Without Fitzclarence’s moronic act the Germans would have occupied the channel ports, effectively knocking out Britain and ending the Great War by 1915, and the old system of treating the workers harshly would have continued. The British, bankrupt after the war and now an appendage of USA, discreetly dumped Fitzclarence into the memory hole although at that time the British commander John French had praised Fitzclarence ‘saved the Empire’.

    The Great War also armed hundreds of thousands of colonials, who began to demand for more power once the war was over, which they got as the colonial powers became even weaker after World War II. As a result there were more than a hundred nations, each vying for the dwindling resources of the world.

    Also, it put America into the central stage of the world, and because America remained largely provincial and did not understand how the world worked, its idealism made the so-called Third World richer and more populous, which made the TW waste lots of resources.

    We are simply going back to the conditions before World War I, that’s all. At that time there were only 8 great powers, USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria and Japan, plus a few smaller nations like the Benelux and Switzerland enjoying modern life. This time there will be USA, Br, Canada, Australia, NZ, Eurozone, China’s richer coastal areas, Japan (which will include Korea’s richer areas) and Israel enjoying everything, with nothing for anyone else.

    Just a way to reduce complexity, save the resources, and cope with BAU-Lite.

    • bandits101 says:

      Except for a few minor details like, world population less than 2 billion. Coal was plentiful and cheap. Resources were plentiful and cheap. Immunisation wasn’t a thing. Anti-biotics wasn’t a thing.

      • World Pop was about 2.5 billion in 1950. 900 mil increased in the period of 1910-1950 but the world still had a shot to curtail it.

        But, now the Americans ran the world, and America tried to make the rest of the world like America. As a result the green revolution, which was the final straw on the world, took place on American insistence and by 1970 the world had 1.2 more billion.

        It is time to reassess the actions of the great powers, especially Britain and America who are more responsible to the current mess than any other country on earth, about the huge calamity the world is facing.

        • bandits101 says:

          Well what is it? Are going back to pre 1914 or are you going to blame, blame and despair at what might have been.

          • Both of them. Without the billions of Third World spending all of the world’s resources and the ‘working class’ of the western world having a ‘good life’, we might have had enough resources remaining to get energy and material from space, but the TWers ate the resources.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If not for the Green Revolution — the best case scenario for any of us would be running about in the bush trying to spear rabbits….

          In any event there was no choice in the matter — this was always going to be the outcome.

          Nobody ever said no to more food — or a warm bed — or a painkilling medicine …..

          Offer your dog filet beef for dinner ever day …. and a heated dog house… he won’t say no either.

          • The GR only affected the Third World. No one really would have paid attention to the plight of the TWers who would have starved to death. A horror back then but it would have saved human civilization.

          • Karl says:

            That’s why you shouldn’t be so hard on us delusistanis for trying to make it through the (possibly non existent) bottleneck. Mr. DNA has been marching for 4.28 billion years, it’s gonna take more than the threat of irradiation and running out of dino-juice to make him roll over and cry “Uncle”!

    • xabier says:

      I’m sorry that British soldiers were so brave, and such good shots – the best in the world then.

      The Germans in 1914 thought they were facing machine guns, but it was just the old-time British infantry, the ‘old sweats’ – they got extra beer rations for being fast and accurate!

      Well, they were nearly all wiped out by 1915. RIP.

      • bandits101 says:

        The Germans in both world wars killed the opposition in greater than 2-1 numbers.

      • Or, more accurately, Rest in Hell since they probably ruined the world’s civilization. With a German Victory which would probably have limited the rights to the ‘ordinary people’ and people in the Third World , we would have gotten to the space after all.

  8. Paying the non-Elite worker very low wages helps the economy.


    >but gig jobs create a lot of economic value–there is no waste, because workers, who are dependent on feedback and referrals, are fully accountable for their success or failure, whereas in corporate america, the cost of individual incompetence and sloth is shared by the entire firm (it’s like those group projects in school, where the smart kids do all the work but everyone gets equal credit).

    Keeping the economic value to the elite workers, and denying consumption to the rest, may not be acceptable for many people but actually saves resources, and increases efficiency.

    • smite says:

      Indeed, and the obligatory AI / Robotics / Automation societal trajectory propelled by the proverbial ‘elite’ workers, composed and driven mostly by engineers and scientists.

      Thus I strongly disagree with Gail, there is no need for wasteful and pointless consumerism in an overly constrained and depleted economy and energy production system.

      Let us all rejoice together as TPTB_ puts this ‘human’ centric chauvinism in the dustbin of history.

  9. CTG says:

    Fast Eddie, maybe we are the delusional ones. Usually the crackpots, delusionals, the depressed, crazies are the very small groups of people (minority) and not the large majority. so, we are the delusionals. Perhaps, it is just possible to have infinite growth in a finite planet. 😉

    • Kurt says:

      Well, if the finite part is really big, it takes a long time to get there.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Well…. I do have a collection of tin foil hats that I very much enjoy wearing … so you may be onto something


    • Which is true, but short-sighted policies led the world to increased consumption instead of going all-in for getting resources from the space.

      Keith Henson’s various schemes might have worked if they were tried earlier, when we had more resources. But now the chance is very slim to none, because even if his satellites are shot tomorrow (none has been built as of today), it won’t be enough to cover the enormous shortfall already created.

      So the only way to go is contraction, which won’t be done in order and will probably be a rout, which will have a very good chance of consuming the entire tech civilization, and lose everything we built since the Renaissance.

      • xabier says:

        An excellent example of gradual ‘triage’ for you: it is suggested that if decent state pensions are to be paid to UK pensioners, then the qualifying age will be a least 70.5 years: this means that the majority of males in the poorer regions of Britain, (the North, Wales, Far West, ie all post-industrial or never made it in the first place) and poorest boroughs of London, will most probably die before qualifying.

        Parts of the Uk will become rather like Greece, in a way,

        In the worst borough of London, the average age of conking out, expiring, kicking the bucket, is…… 69 yrs!

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Interestingly…. the UK was well on the way to becoming Greece …. then the North Sea Oil happened…. and now the North Sea oil is in terminal decline…. and the UK is running up massive debt to hold off its Big Greek Moment.

          • adonis says:

            fast eddie check out this article i found which states at the end of it that because of ‘brexit’ the central bank of england would be able to increase their bond buying in other words more ‘ammo for the central bank to fight on thanks to ‘brexit’ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/european-credit-investors-face-uncertain-future-after-qe-unwind

            • Not good! The US has tried to keep the same balance of securities, since it stopped QE. Letting the securities expire, without buying new ones, would likely be a big problem. One purpose of QE was to provide very low interest rates. once the process reverses, rates are likely to go back up, perhaps exceeding the previous level.

          • I’d dispute that claim at least for the near/midterm view, UK has been methodically circling the wagons for some specific impact. Most likely further chaos on the continent and also some brewing geopolitical reshuffle of substantial degree.

            It all rather shapes us as usual, allow Germany to play their Reich verXY illusions of grandeur till the last minute, then apply some banking and diplomatic tricks to let them disintegrate into ruins again. There is something very specific about the British historic experience to be always slightly detached, obviously lately this was performed under the wings of US protection.

          • xabier says:

            Yes, reading memoirs and diaries from the 1970’s in Britain and it is clear that many thought the game was up. Lots of talk about emigration.

            The Labour PM James Callaghan was so depressed by the behaviour of the unions and the general situation that he thought one morning while shaving that if he were young he’d go too. Great rise in street crime, and my poor mother was robbed while pushing me in my pram! IRA terrorism, etc.

            Even in the more upbeat 1980’s, during the sad struggle with the miners, there was some idea of using the Army to take out militants and establish some kind of government- a friend of mine was in the SAS at the time as a selector and trainer and has confirmed this.

            This has of course been officially denied, and a whitewash report was issued as usual, but I can assure you it was serious.

            And then the North Sea miracle, and now no one can imagine living without gas central heating….some shock awaits them!

        • Joel says:

          Seems many pension promises may have been over sold to the working class, quite sad. The British Empire was so vast not so long ago, it seems like a rather quick decline. Over here in the states I expect some similar changes.

        • Justin Time says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong but the purpose of life – if there is any – was never to reach a certain age and draw a pension until you drop.

          This is a very recent luxurious addition to the life package.

          So what happens?

          We revert to survival of the fittest.

          And cut down on unnecessary tourism where waiters get paid to make your coffee for you.

          The survivors should get one of Fast Eddie’s capsule coffee makers, stay home and make their own d***d coffee!

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Tried – failed – abandoned https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

        If it had succeeded — and delivered extremely cheap clean power to the planet — that would have accelerated resource depletion — and we’d have collapsed already

        • Ed says:

          Not tried still up fr grabs.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            yes of course — Keith is on it

            We have not heard from him in some time…. let’s do a search — Keith space solar CNBs … video….

            Nothing… and nothing on Bloomberg either…

            Keep going Keith — go Keith go …. the world is depending on you.

        • Justin Time says:

          Not necessarily.

          If some ground based energy revolution had taken place – adequate investment in small scale commercial fusion – laws could have been enacted to reduce population and maintain at optimal level.

          Growth or transformation would happen in other ways not pertaining to population growth.

          The same goes for investment in materials science leading to declining need for rare earth minerals and expensive or hard to obtain resources.

          Adopt a culture of efficiency. Reduce all extraneous activity to only what is needed for progress.

          You’d still have to solve the problem of human greed etc. Gene therapy?

          • Fast Eddy says:


            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]

    • adonis says:

      its all about the cheap oil every year that it depletes we get closer to the bursting of the ponzi bubble are we in that small group yes we are CTG but the labels you have affixed to us could just as well be enlightened.realists or visionaries

  10. jonzo says:

    “The decline in Bakken oil production that started in January 2015 is probably not reversible. New well performance has deteriorated, gas-oil ratios have increased and water cuts are rising. Much of the reservoir energy from gas expansion is depleted and decline rates should accelerate. More drilling may increase daily output for awhile but won’t resolve the underlying problem of poorer well performance and declining per-well reserves.”


    • Fast Eddy says:

      The Downside of Technology

      The Bakken play represents the fullest application of modern horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies. The Middle Bakken and Three Forks reservoirs are tight, naturally fractured sandstones that respond exceptionally well to long laterals and multi-stage fracture stimulation. Field rules allowed long laterals well before these were feasible in other plays.

      The downside of efficiency and technology is that depletion has accelerated. Resulting higher initial rates masked underlying field decline that is becoming apparent only in wells with first production in 2015. The evidence for depletion is compelling but pressure data is not publicly available and is needed to complete the case.

      The most appealing aspect of resource plays is their apparent lack of risk. Source rocks are the drilling target so finding oil and gas is given. Because the plays are continuous accumulations, there is no need to map and define a trap. Since the reservoirs are tight, seals are not an issue either. But commercial risk should be more of a concern for investors than it seems to be so far.

      The downside is that there is no way to stay away from water and it is produced from day one in large volumes. 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 percent 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.

      Glenn Glenn Glenn…. as a shale oil troll….. what do you do? Tell your masters that you have hit a brick wall and ask if you should move on to another site and post your lies?

      Or do you double down on your pathetic position and rant even louder?

      What’s it gonna be Glenn? Have we seen the last of you?

  11. Duncan Idaho says:

    A really good day at the Dog Track today.
    Everyone is going to need sunglasses if this continues, the future is so bright!

  12. Kanghi says:

    Was we already peaking more clously into last years Chinese coal consuption? Declining like predicted. https://www.yahoo.com/news/china-says-coal-consumption-falls-third-085203514–finance.html

  13. Fast Eddy says:

    Drained pension fund has retired New York union workers pinching pennies to survive, as doom looms for reserves across U.S.

    Teamsters Local 707’s pension fund is the first to officially bottom out financially — which happened this month.

    “I had a union job for 30 years,” Chmil said. “We had collectively bargained contracts that promised us a pension. I paid into it with every paycheck. Everyone told us, ‘Don’t worry, you have a union job, your pension is guaranteed.’ Well, so much for that.”

    “It’s a nightmare, it has just devastated all of our lives. I’ve gone from having $48,000 a year to less than half that,” said Chmil, one of five Local 707 retirees who agreed to share their stories with the Daily News last week.

    “I don’t want other people to have to go through this. We need everyone to wake up and do something; that’s why we’re talking,” said Ray Narvaez.


    I wonder if ‘whatever it takes’ means bailing out pensioners….

    • Tim Groves says:

      This miserable news lines up nicely with what that latter-day prophet in the wilderness George Carlin said.


      The collapse of the BAU world, when it comes, will arrive suddenly, and probably on a bank holiday weekend, but in the long run-up to it, more and more people will fall off the edge.

      • Artleads says:

        But I don’t see the harm in suggesting this:

        One of the main problems with Social Security is the myth of entitlement to the American Dream of retirement. The fact that retirees believe in this dream and their entitlement to it is as much a problem as anything else. But if retirees are somewhat healthy and, through their benefits can feed themselves and keep a roof over their heads, they should feel incredibly lucky. I know I do…on far less money than most. While it could reach deaf ears, I’d propose that retirees see themselves as a class of volunteer workers to keep the “system” going. It should be better the more proactive, organized and systematic we are about this, although many of us already see ourselves in this role. That’s just for starters.

        • Bergen Johnson says:

          Make up your mind, Artleads. Either people pay into SS via their paychecks with their employers also paying in for them and have every right to expect a return on that sequestration or don’t take the money out of their paychecks. Which is it going to be?

          • edwinlloyd says:

            The Supreme Court ruled years ago the Amish could totally (not pay in, not take out) skip social security and Medicare. If Artleads and others are looking for a model to follow it is there. To have over 10% of your income removed from your control for a lifetime and still have enough set aside to opt out of SS is to live in a voluntary poverty that all but a few would reject as ridiculous. If enough of us did it that it downsized the GDP noticeably then I’m sure living below your means would be taxed to discourage it. The matrix doesn’t bend.

            • The detail is that Social Security and Medicare are basically pay as you go systems. The money that has been paid in has nearly all been paid out. None of us have anything “real” saved up for retirement. At most, we have a stack of IOUs, but mostly, we don’t even have that.

              The scheme has allowed the younger Amish to have more income than others. The older Amish have had less; perhaps they work longer. I understand that Amish families are very large, and that a lot of young people drop out of the Amish community. This may change the funding picture for the elderly.

            • Artleads says:

              There could be a cap on the amount of SS the rich could collect, so I’ve heard. No need for anyone to be too rich. Distinguishing between want and need in the throes of extinction.

          • Artleads says:

            Agreed. I never said otherwise. It’s what to do once you start getting the money post retirement. I suspect that TPTB will pick on us last and instead work to eliminate the rightful benefits to younger people. What are we retirees to do about that? Is there a way to make the economy work for younger people too? If so, how do we do that?

            The best thing I can see to do is to volunteer toward making the economic system last longer, with the hope that another generation of people will get the benefits they paid for (or were told to expect). Beyond that, we could be trying to set up the field for when money for our extreme old age and for the younger folks goes away.

            • xabier says:

              Retirees are an important segment of voters at the moment – and growing.

              There was a hilarious report in the British press: cutting pensions was mooted in some political think-tank, and the people involved thought that it would get past the radar as

              1/ Many of those affected ‘would have died by the next election’, and

              2/ Many of those surviving would not have a clue as to which party had done this to them, ‘due to dementia.’

        • Part of the myth is that money will continue to exist. If money disappears (perhaps when electricity disappears, or when the government fails), it won’t matter how much anyone has saved up. Of course, jobs will disappear as well.

          • Artleads says:

            I was thinking in this vein. We retirees are working hard volunteering to keep society functioning as long as possible–while also building up some sort of hedge for when/if money is out of the picture. Sort of like wedging up the Leonardo Dome, but not assuming that the only guiding structure will be that particular dome. So holding up this dome while (tentatively) building something else?

          • robert wilson says:

            Money functions as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, a store of value, and a standard of deferred payment. I suspect that something will continue to accomplish some of these functions.

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Also a commodity in some forms.

            • money can never be other than a token of energy exchange

              i work for you—you give me money

              i take that money and use it to buy food/fuel/shoes/bet on a horse

              whatever i buy is the result of someone else’s labour–stuff they have produced.
              if i lose my bet, the bookie will take my money and use it to buy what he needs—a villa in the south of france maybe–which again is the product of someone else’s labour

              if i bury/bank the money for safety, it will do nothing and mean nothing until i dig it up again and buy something i need with it, and restart the buying cycle.

              It takes energy to create coinage, and a collective belief system to make it work universally.
              If those 2 factors are not there, then no money system can exist, and any exchange of energy will have to be direct—2 chickens to do a roof repair or something like that.
              This will eliminate distance travel, because a traveller must have sustenance at the end of a long journey.
              Only coinage allows that to function, which will mean that highwaymen would find employment again

            • The measure or value is easy to keep going. Take a bushel of wheat, or whatever you need, and use it to determine value in a market that operates as a form of advanced barter.

              The problem comes with the time-shifting aspect. That is, the “store of value.” I am not sure what we do about that. Hunter-gatherers didn’t have anything that corresponded to a store of value, as far as I know. It wasn’t until we got to a sufficiently advanced society that we could make long-term promises, that such “stores of value” made sense. So I suppose it depends on the level of economy we are able to recreate.

    • Perhaps, for a while. But the overall problem is too big, considering Social Security, Medicare, and the rest of the bail out needed.

  14. Lastcall says:

    It would be interesting to add the costs (both energy and fiat costs) of the Military-Industrial-Complex required to ensure the flow of energy to the costs of a barrel of oil. I would guess that this ‘total’ fiat cost per barrel of oil is still quite high, and that the energy return, after subtracting exploration-development-extraction-refining-delivery AND ‘military-energy-costs’ is getting quickly lower. Never mind deferred environmental-social etc etc costs.

    IIRC the cost per delivered gallon of fuel into Afghanistan for the Coalition forces exceeded hundreds of dollars at some stages of that invasion.

  15. edwinlloyd says:

    I wonder if Elin Musk has read or seen “The 100”. It’s probably full of more fallacies than we could count, but it grasps the inevitable showdown that our short dallying with nuclear will cause. There is no logic in even thinking that the way down from our fossil fuel high will resemble the assent. It’s amusing to me that Musk thinks he can shuck and jive enough greenies into high tech electric ‘living’ to finance his escape from the planet. Any of you signing up for that way out?

    • Justin Time says:

      I know that people have signed up and paid a lot of money to store their heads or whole bodies in cryognic containers on the off chance that they may one day be revived in a fantastic future.

      I honestly don’t know what to think any more. I’m just an independent observer. The view just gets more and more bizarre as time goes on.

      • edwinlloyd says:

        The Egyptian pyramids were in a similar vein. Unlike the mummies, when the cryogenic power goes down all those hopefull folks will end up thawing out at the height of the problem, whatever they might be.

        I much prefer to face what this life has to offer with the hope that there is something beyond death. If I’m wrong then I can only be glad that my life was richer in the time I had to live. In the meantime I hope I’m passing on some coping skills to the next generation.

        • Fast Eddy says:


          New busy idea -www.cryomummies.com

        • Justin Time says:

          Yes I had mummies in mind too. The promise of immortality runs strong in this species.

          Even if it were possible to clone a copy of the original from residual dna it would still only be a copy. The ultimate narcisistic dream I guess but nothing more.

          I would rather we had the ability to train an AI to take our place and live gently on the earth or elsewhere.

  16. CTG says:

    Guys… I am not sure if this has been “discussed” before in all Gail’s posts but since we are almost “like-minded” here, perhaps, this is something to look at the other side of the mirror.


    • Fast Eddy says:

      Thanks for this…

      I’ve recounted this before … but here it is again….

      While under the influence of a cocktail of party drugs…. I found myself entering a state of consciousness that I refer to as ‘the hole’

      It was essentially another reality — and it felt 100% real — more real than the most real dream… in one episode I was walking on cobbled streets somewhere in Europe — with cafes and people…

      The more I indulged in these party favours the deeper I went into the hole… and the hole became more ominous…. it got to the point where I felt as If I were a bug on the surface of the water … and was with great effort able to break free of the surface tension … and see what was above the water…

      What I saw can best be described as an incredible array of conduits with electrons flowing through … it was all part of a machine of some sort…. and I saw that I was part of this machine… a tiny electron in the machine….

      It all felt very real — and it was all a bit frightening — to the point that I stopped taking the cocktail…

      I mentioned this ‘the hole’ to some of my associates and they confirmed that they had troubling episodes as well…. nobody seemed to one to discuss this any further other than referring to the phenomenon as being in ‘the hole’

      I would note that a number of prominent individuals including Huxley also experimented with cocktails trying to escape the surface tension….

      • bandits101 says:

        It’s certainly interesting but IMO chaos therory would rule it out. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Yep – what I experienced is more than likely a load of gibberish…. but if push came to shove and I was forced to choose between the man in the sky and the machine… I’d go for the machine…

          If nobody shoved — I’d choose neither.

          I do not know.

          • Joebanana says:

            The very fact that we can choose is the reason I believe. If it was obvious would we have a choice?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I do not think we choose. We think we choose. But ultimately our choices are made for us – by our environment.

              Gail did a good job of explaining this earlier

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And by Mr DNA

              Watch how Mr DNA changes us when BAU collapses and he becomes threatened…. he will make us do things we would have never considered….

            • Joebanana says:

              Environment for sure plays a big role but I hope we have some choice in the end. Maybe I’m deluded but what does it matter at his point? It is rather nice to speculate about this stuff;-) It is like the difference between planning a wedding and a funeral!

              The latter is over much sooner and requires no future thinking.

      • homo superior says:

        watch Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell – some gems.

        Strange has to take extraordinary steps to regain his wife.

      • Justin Time says:

        Now that’s interesting!

        I’ve had similar experiences through meditation where I felt as if all surrounding material existance had ceased to exist. My conciousness was left floating is a vast sea of “nothingness”. I believe this is quite common among meditators at least at some point in their lives. And meditation practice and certainly drug induced visions go back thousands of years with very similar reports.

        Must be something to it but possibly “all in the minds of men”. The only way you could prove this and therefore prove that conciousness exists outside the brain would be for a brainless entity to experience the same thing. I’m sure you’d be willing to make some suggestions 😉

        I’ll willing to guess that the “code” underlying everything we see was subject to emergent properties of evolution but again we can’t know for sure. If it is indeed the product of a “mind” then I have valid reason to question his or her or its programming abilities.

    • Victor says:

      I’ve been reading about this for a while and I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that it may not be as bonkers as it sounds.

      For those unfamiliar with the Simulation hypothesis, this YouTube video is pretty good at explaining it.


      • i1 says:

        The only simulated reality comes from the people producing those “matrix” type movies or broadcast television news telling you stupid things like planes can demolish steel skyscrapers to dust.

      • I have not had time to listen to the whole 50 minute video, but this may be related to how we could have a different end-time scenario than most imagine. Our current reality as we see it will disappear, and a new reality will appear. It will not conflict with the laws of physics.

        • Artleads says:

          But would that new reality be unrelated to what everyone does now and throughout? In other words, is this “end time” something entirely external and set, independent of the current scenario?

        • Justin Time says:


          At times you’ve mentioned that the only thing that can “save us” is divine intervention.

          You’ve also mentioned that it could be something from outside this universe.

          I have no way of knowing if you are saying that these are impossible and therefore implying that in actual fact nothing can save us.

          Or… that you believe that in our darkest hour there is a possibility that some entity could step in to resolve the issue.

          Either way I would put this case firmly in the pile of unknowns even though billions of people have strong faith in salvation.

          Physics is playing around with multi dimensional reality and simulation theory so who knows how this is all really put together.

          Something that I learned through meditation practice and out of body experiences caused by a semi coma state was that underlying everything is bliss conciousness. Strip away the gross levels of existance – what we call the material world – and your conciousness remains intact but their is no pain or suffering, no doubt or thought. Just pure conciousness experiencing itself.

          What I can’t prove – I’m not sure anyone can – is whether this state exists outside the human brain. If it does… then that would be what people call god – the divine.

          And that would mean that we are all god and we all return to source when our time is up. The source is always there beyond space and time. I think that’s what you refer to when you say outside of this universe – beyond the material world.

          To all the atheists here, think of it as a field of conciousness giving rise to an unfolding of information in the same way the tallest tree rises from a tiny seed. All the code or dna emerges from this field but errors occur, mutations occur in the unfolding. There is no invisible hand once the process is set in motion but through human level awareness and self reference we are able to intervene somewhat. And this is a process that if completed would lead to our ability to harness the full potential of the natural world.

          The view here is that our behaviour as a species has been extremely destructive and is nearing its self induced termination. It’s also possible that this was a learning phase, a fattening phase, or whatever you want to call it preparing us for a very short period of transformation from which something unimaginable to most emerges.

          Again, I’m not saying this is going to happen. I’m saying it’s a possibility and should be factored in. Also there is no positive or negative bias in this assertion. Just change. It doesn’t guarantee continuation of human kind at all. There just appears to be an impulse towards something rather than nothing and the universe is extremely large.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Maybe — but I still won’t be heading to a brick building this Sunday morning to pray to the man in the sky.

            If you are correct then that would seem – to put it mildly — all rather silly.

            Unless this god is on a Trump-like ego trip….

            • houtskool says:

              During hard times, like a war, people will visit the church more often. Because pharmaceuticals are less available. Nothing new under the sun.

            • Justin Time says:

              Yep. You’re right.

              I could just as easily spin it the other way. I’m pretty much atheist nihilist most of the time.

              But I did have those empirically factual experiences. My brain tries to rationalise it somehow. I’m fairly convinced it all happens in the brain under certain conditions. Beyond that it’s wishful thinking and speculation.

              There is a large body of evidence pertaining to out of body experiences, near death experiences and other phenomena. These things happen but we don’t know why or what it means. It’s not that easy to brush it all off as halucination but I tend to default to that position.

              I just wonder why no one here really questions Gail’s commentary on these issues.

              For someone putting forward fairly rigorous analysis she appears to have a strong belief in end times prophecy and possibly a rapture event.

              Gail. Please correct me if I’m reading you wrong.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Organized religion’s ‘God’ outcome has been questioned… the fact there is no evidence supporting that outcome has been questioned…

              The middle ground appears to be that a ‘creator’ cannot be ruled out — the nature of that creator is in question…

              If there is a creator my money is on it being some twisted little prick of a kid who gets his kicks off of making the animals in the game suffer.


          • Glenn Stehle says:

            Justin Time,

            You might enjoy this lecture at The Science Network by the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran.

            His research indicates that not all people are capable of experiencing religious or mystical feelings, but others are. This ability to experience religious or mystical feelings makes one more prone to religious belief, “believing in a deity or a God or whatever.”

            This is so, he theorizes, because of differences in brain structure and chemistry.

            It is for this reason I believe it is important to remain tolerant of others’ beliefs, and not get on these religion-bashing tirades that have become the stock and trade of the New Atheists (but certainly not all atheists, since I believe the highly beligerent, militant, anti-religious bigotry of the New Atheists is a minority sentiment amongst atheists.)

            V.S. Ramachandran: Why peole believe in God and othee thirgs not supported by empirical facts


            • Dave says:

              Make America Smart Again?

              Busted: Iowa GOP lawmaker’s alma mater turns out to be company that ran Sizzler steak house


            • Justin Time says:

              Glenn, yes I’ve seen some of his work.

              Without further evidence on these topics I would have to remain firmly in the atheist camp. But I won’t rule out some kind of origin from which everything emerges. It would have to always exist beyond spacetime as without that clause nothing could emerge.

              In other words there has never been a state of nothing. The orginal something is always there and cannot be destroyed.

              I don’t think there needs to be any religious baggage attached to that statement.

              I don’t buy the argument of a universe from “nothing” especially when physics twists the meaning of the word.

          • Very nicely put.

            The troubling part under the “Simulation hypothesis” vs the layering of “bliss consciousness” and “the gross levels of existence” presents as they experimentally deny any transition boundary between the quantum (close to matrix) and macro world (our scale). So, in another words why do we have to go through all these nasty gross levels of existence in the first place anyway? Is it a necessary “learning” challenge to wisdom phase (at what cost – ripping ecosystems?). Is the creator bored (reset through agents of change aka terraforming by human ape), or is it just an error/mutation (hardly to believe in such precise clockwork) or we ants don’t grasp the reality of being confined into just one badly run sim program out of ~infinity other test runs before/after/parallel to us..

            Essentially the questions perhaps is why we and why now?
            What is so specially unique/different this time..

            • Artleads says:

              A friend of mine had the idea that we are some sort of symbol of god struggling with themself. Bored, perhaps. Or incredibly imperfect.

          • adonis says:

            awesome i too feel that the mind will continue after death and have experienced astral projection which may prove the infinite nature of our reality so therefore their is nothing to worry about sit back relax and enjoy the ride the next five years are going to be interesting

          • jerry says:

            I am often speechless at how words spoken thousands of years ago seem to fit present day realities especially peal oil. Just take for example these from King Solomon and read in wonder and awe!!! In fact if everything that has been discussed here on OFW isn’t paraphrased into just a few simple and straightforward paragraphs!!!!
            A brick building Eddy hell I would hand you the mic and let you do all the talking!!!! Along with CTG of course!!!!!!

            Ecclesiastes 12

            1 Remember your Creator
            in the days of your youth,
            before the days of trouble come
            and the years approach when you will say,
            “I find no pleasure in them”—
            before the sun and the light
            and the moon and the stars grow dark,
            and the clouds return after the rain;
            when the keepers of the house tremble,
            and the strong men stoop,
            when the grinders cease because they are few,
            and those looking through the windows grow dim;
            when the doors to the street are closed
            and the sound of grinding fades;
            when people rise up at the sound of birds,
            but all their songs grow faint;
            when people are afraid of heights
            and of dangers in the streets;
            when the almond tree blossoms
            and the grasshopper drags itself along
            and desire no longer is stirred.
            Then people go to their eternal home
            and mourners go about the streets.
            Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
            and the golden bowl is broken;
            before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
            and the wheel broken at the well,
            and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
            and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
            “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.[a]
            “Everything is meaningless!”

            • Justin Time says:

              A poem about dying sprinkled with a bit of hopium.

              I could have written that.

              It’s all speculation.

            • What I am always surprised at is how often just the information I need comes in an e-mail, or in a comment. There seem to be an awfully lot of coincidences that work out well. In fact, we would not be here, without a lot of coincidences that work out well.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I was thinking about all of this over the past few days — and there are ‘decisions’ made in my life that if I consider them now made no sense — yet making them directly resulted in me being in the position I am now — specifically related to work.

              A number of them are related to relationships that I did not pursue — if I had I would have settled into a totally different life — I probably would not have left Canada.

              Perhaps not coincidences… perhaps we are all just pawns being pushed around a board (digitally)

        • The summary starts at ~41min time mark..

      • Something alongside “simulation hypothesis” in general has been mentioned here already couple of times. It might make a lot of sense from the perspective of “upper reality” in which the time scales are much longer and the entities (“souls”) are occupying their time by entering a role character here (e.g., a banker, sub Saharan/Indian beggar/..) and slowly improving their skillz, or it could work as an entertainment only for them ala more advanced computer sim game. Or on the other hand it could even function as some sort of systemic punishment to fill certain undesirable roles for many human lifespans, while you are periodically awoken only for brief moments during sleep or perhaps longer term only between dying-birth respawn phases just to realize what you are going to do next. I guess some ancient shamanism exploits alluded to such possibility or as you talked above about various experiences with hallucinogens as portal short cuts to levels which might be very near place where switching of “souls” takes place..

        • Justin Time says:

          Do you actually believe any of that yourself?

          And if so why? What evidence do you have for any of it?

          Do you believe that perfect soul entities volunteer to experience torture or famine or rape in this reality as some kind of game?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Humans are directly responsible for mass torture every single day — think of the hundreds of millions of animals we keep in the most brutal gulags….



            • Justin Time says:

              I only eat chicken on the odd occasion so you can blame me when the economy goes belly up.

              I can see the headlines now… rising vegetarianism cause of global economic collapse. Mass slaughter of billions of animals ensues.

              What are we to do? You can’t win.

          • I offered several likely possibilities, one of them is model scenario in which you have to work and improve on your “soul karma”, so for instance and in great oversimplification a pampered global banker who in aggregate killed and inconvenienced millions of other people/players scores way lower than a non violent homeless person (on his daily ordeal) or a good husbandry/land steward helping harmonizing creatures around..

            Disclaimer: the possibilities from our ant’s vantage point are boundless, we also have to give it some, albeit small probability, should some day massive mainstream PR be build around it, this well could be just yet another clever scheme, how to keep masses docile and don’t take it personally, that ~8B people is not that much correlating with bleak FW future.. Basically a rehash of some of traits of the particular form of Christianity after the carnage of vanished Ancient World and how to keep some level of emotional balance and sanity through the dark ages..

            • Justin Time says:

              Anything is possible when survival is at stake.

              Or as Rick Grimes would say…

              “We may be good people but that doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.”

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Just finished the entire presentation — and it is not at all bonkers..

        I might add — that while in my altered state I recall being completely certain that the reality that I had escaped — was ‘manufactured’ — it was not real rather it was a simulation.

        There is a parallel with dreams — they feel very real while you are experiencing them ….

        • Try the additional lectures / presentations (yt) by that cosmologist Max Tegmark on Entropy in the Universe also. It’s quite relevant to our FW discussions here..

        • Justin Time says:

          Have you ever woken up and then realised you were still in a dream.

          That happened to me a couple of times when I was stuck in bed. Freaked the hell out of me.

          Scientists have also put forward that we are living in a holographic universe projected from a two dimensional plane.

          If everything is just perception and the thing doing the percieving is a holographic projection then what exactly is going on here.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The Creator appears to be addicted to computer games and reality tee vee….

    • Thanks! This could be important.

  17. dolph says:

    You guys are wrong and continue to be wrong. There is no fast collapse, there won’t be, you are wasting your time.
    Preparations are being made, right now, for this scenario. Do not imagine everyone is dumb. They may not be brilliant, but not everyone is dumb.
    -America is preparing right now, for martial law. This is a fact. The vast military/police forces of America will be used to keep any riots/demonstrations confined and in place. These aren’t private entities that can fail, this is the government that is funded by taxation and by the rest of the world, it isn’t going to disappear; a modern, well stocked police force can easily disperse and/or kill hundreds of thousands of people
    -China, Russia, right now, are making trade deals with the Middle East and the rest of Asia to insulate themselves from dollar collapse; they are doing swaps, gold exchanges, oil deals, etc.
    -Various parts of the Eurozone are preparing for the end of the EU and the dissolution back into nation states; when the time comes they will put back in place border controls to stem the refugee flow, to regain control of their currencies, etc.
    -Behind the scenes, behind the official numbers of debt this, debt that, millions and millions of people are preparing; the rich are buying bunkers, fine art, diamonds, the ordinary folk are desperately trying to get an income and reduce expenses; everyone knows something is wrong, you are not the only ones

    Even if only 1% of people are collapse aware, that is 70 million people. If only 10% of people are collapse aware, that is 700 million people. Now you are talking big numbers.

    • bandits101 says:

      You might like to submit some links dolph.
      At one stage you said we were all idiots for know knowing that hyperinflation was coming, you got beat to a pulp on that one. Now it seems all you have left is that we’re idiots for not knowing that there will be no fast collapse, because ALL the rich people are preparing for something other than a fast collapse (slow collapse???). It appears that evidence submitted on OFW doesn’t suit your beliefs so you have invented alternate facts.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Dolph = Delusion…

      If you scream loudly enough — I am sure you will convince yourself of this.

      We have heard you — but you are wrong

      Repeating this nonsense will not alter the facts and logic — the facts are logic support the fast collapse scenario at some point — and we deal in facts and logic — not hopium

      If you cannot see that then you well and truly are lost.

      • Justin Time says:

        I agree that factual evidence has some value and that logical extrapolation of data can provide you with a handfull of scenarios to work with when it comes to making predictions.

        But alas, that’s as far as your cockiness can take you 😉

        Neither you nor anyone else here has a crystal ball. You can make predictions all day long every day and we can all agree or disagree about the ugly details, but unless you can be more specific about timing then you really don’t have any ground to stand on. You don’t have a prediction at all. What you have is speculation and dogma based on a limited dataset.

        Why limited? You simply don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle. There are unknowns. And because we don’t know the nature of those unknowns or how many there are you are opening yourself up to being not only wrong (as you have been in the past) but spectacularly wrong!

        As was recently pointed out here, the difference in opinions as regards timing (and that’s all they are at this stage – not facts) is vast ranging from near term catastrophe – always one or two years away – to individuals pointing to decades of decline. And even one or two saying humanity’s done but something may replace it – again, given enough time.

        Now, you may be 99% sure that you’re scenario will pan out. You’ve bet everything on this horse. But you were wrong before. You’ve admitted yourself. Why are you so confident about your predictive abilities this time around? Shouldn’t you be refering to your track record and taking a more humble stance on this? Just in case?

        The reason I bring up timing is because it changes the whole equation quite drastically without even getting into the unknowns.

        If you could be 100% certain of something happening within a year then I agree that you’re pretty much screwed so you can rapidly default to a state of acceptance and making the most of the time you have left.

        Now lets shift that date to 20 years out or 50 years or 100. You can maintain the same level of certainty – 100% – but I’m sure that even you can appreciate how that changes everything.

        You simply don’t know what’s coming next. None of us do. You’re extrapolating from current or past data and maintain a belief that this has granted you clairvoyance. In fact, if you could prove that you were a remote viewer or some such, I would have more faith in your predictive ability. But as things stand, I don’t understand your relentless arrogance and bullying of others that are not as “smart” as you. Calling everybody else stoopid has to be the lowest tactic of all.

        And I get it. I get why you do it. You believe in something. You believe so strongly in something – that hasn’t actually happened yet – because “facts and logic” point in that direction. Dude… please stop repeating this as some sort of claim to authority. “Facts and logic” and graphs and computer models and faith do not magically grant you the gift of clairvoyance. You don’t know for sure what’s coming next. Face it.

        As I’ve said before, what you have before you are a bunch of scenarios. You’re only aware of the ones that make sense to you. You haven’t factored in the unknowns and the unknowable which surprises me because you have on many occasions alluded to the ability of certain groups to mask and manipulate etc etc.

        That said, I appreciate your sense of humor. I just wish you’d dial back your extreme confidence in future events especially now that you and others are more reluctanct to put a date on things. Now it’s just “soon” or “within decades” etc etc. And of course, people were saying the same thing with just as much certainty many decades ago and even centuries ago…

        Myself, I can only talk in terms of scenarios and unknowns and I don’t dare weight those too much because I’d only get egg on my face. I’m not a gambling man. I’ve never won the lottery. I don’t have the balls to make predictions. I wish I was clairvoyant. I wish I had a crystal ball. I just don’t know how others can be so confident.

        And experts are almost always wrong. They’re very good at correcting their position after the fact though.

        • Harry Gibbs says:

          ““Facts and logic” and graphs and computer models and faith do not magically grant you the gift of clairvoyance.”

          They do not – but if your centre of gravity is already over a precipice then you can make a pretty good prediction that you are going to fall, perhaps with some frantic windmilling of your arms briefly delaying the inevitable. After that, only the manner of your descent and the angle of your landing are in doubt.

          The ‘no one can tell the future’ argument is not really a helpful one IMHO.

          • Justin Time says:

            The ‘no one can tell the future’ argument is not really a helpful one IMHO.

            It’s a fact… that you appear to not want to accept.

            Your example although creative is rather weak and far too limited as a model for our complex planetary situation. You’ve conveniently left out the possibility of unknowns too which amounts to a problem in a box. The real world don’t work like that as we all should know by now.

            I could also say that because of gravity a few oranges fall off my orange tree every day… except that some days they don’t. Even within this extremely limited example I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow.

            Taking things to the other extreme, making predictions about resource limits involves many factors, interactions and an unknown number of unknowns as well as the nature of those unknowns that no honest person could claim to make an accurate prediction about the future.

            Again, all you have are blind assumptions based on limited data. A blinkered view leading to possibly false conclusions. It’s the confidence in these conclusions I have a problem with not the thinking behind them.

            • Harry Gibbs says:

              Perhaps we should start all posts with the caveat, “Given that the future is inherently unknowable and this subject complex, any predictions I make herein may turn out to be inaccurate.” Hmm – maybe not.

            • Justin Time says:


              Hmm – That wouldn’t be a bad idea!

              Maybe Gail could add it to the top of the page.


        • Glenn Stehle says:

          Justin Time,

          You might enjoy this short explanation of Cromwell’s Rule on Wikipedia:

          Cromwell’s Rule


          • Justin Time says:

            Thanks Glenn,

            Your link follows through to this link which looks like an interesting read…

            The Signal and the Noise : Why Most Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t


            Even Google and Amazon claim to have predictive powers now by leveraging large data bases but mostly based on what is known i.e previously observed behaviour patterns.

            If something unexpected happens – something that hasn’t happened before – everyone is blindsided. They’ll say there’s absolutely no way I could have seen that coming.

            In other words, it wasn’t even on their radar although they could have sworn they had every angle covered.

            That’s why I don’t make predictions.

            Or go around telling everyone else that such and such is definitely going to happen. Just wait and see. I’ll be proven right I tell you.

            No. I like to play around with possible scenarios, even impossible ones because you never know which way things are going to go.

        • Sceadu says:

          I think I understand what you are saying. If I am right, Justin Time, you aren’t arguing against knowing resource limits or that our system is headed for collapse. These things are based on facts and models. It is what comes after that collapse that is not knowable, and I think that Gail has said as much in her posts and comments as well. Beyond collapse, the world becomes a lot less systemic and harder to predict. We can make educated guesses based on our knowledge of human behavior and instinct, but human behavior itself tends to be surprising and not as rational as we like to believe. Whatever happens, it will probably be ugly and primitive. Something like human extinction is not far-fetched, and is maybe even the likeliest scenario (or not?), but I don’t think we have enough information to say that it is a guaranteed outcome. I always wondered how all the Prepper types knew exactly what they had to plan for. How do you know that the collapse scenario won’t involve losing your house, land, water supply, etc? We just can’t know.

          • Justin Time says:


            Absolutely spot on.

            Now, if I WAS a gambling man, I’d put most of my money on near term systemic collapse due to failures in the global supply chain and all the other reasons discussed here unless there is some magical way to prop things up for a while longer.

            I’m was as guilty as FE of accepting all the horrors to come as a fact. I was also guilty of pushing these ideas on others unnecesarily as I knew for a fact that it wouldn’t make any difference.

            After a long period of reassessing my position, I came to the conclusion that none of us can no what comes next. We can all make intelligent guesses. But that’s it.

            That’s why I won’t even say systemic collapse is 100% certain because It’s never happened on this scale before. Complex systems are surprisingly resilient. All natural systems prove this. So I won’t write off our system’s ability to adapt just yet.

            I’m afraid I’m going to have to see it to believe it. And that applies to pretty much everything from now on.

            So I would also place a much smaller bet on continuation of BAU due to the possibility of radical unknowns that no one can foresee. I can’t rule that out entirely.

            While I agree that our assessment of the data leads to the conclusion of collapse, collapse has not happened… yet. Even in the eight years following the crash. And until it does there is no evidence that any of us here are right.

            As far as post BAU scenarios go I have also gone mostly to the dark side on that one. I don’t have much faith in human nature when things break down. No law and order results in the worst of horrors. But again, I don’t know what will happen.

            What I don’t think is necessary is FE’s use of blatantly scary imagery to make his point. He’s like a ten year old in the school playground getting a kick out of showing the girls a dead rat.

            The spent fuel pools are an issue but it’s not clear that the radiation would wipe out all life on the panet as he claims. Still, it’s really not worth thinking about. Most of the population would have died already from other causes.

            If I was boss of the world, I’d still make the pools my number one priority. Cask as much as you can as quickly as possible and rinse repeat with the remaining fuel. And I’d decommission all NPPs.

            Big rocks first as they say!

            What would be the next issue on the agenda I wonder?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have never been on a train that was roaring along at 500km per hour…. with 1000 tonne rock on the tracks about half a km away — and no brakes ….

              But I know what the outcome will be

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Fact: there are 4000+ spent fuel ponds on the planet

          Fact: these high tech installations cannot operate without BAU – they need electricity – computers — spare parts – security – trained engineers

          Fact: spent fuel must be placed in ponds for years before it can be dry casked

          Fact: when spent fuel ponds are not managed they over heat — the water boils off – they catch fire and they release catastrophic amounts of radiation

          Fact: one fuel pond in Fukushima – if unmanaged – would release the equivalent radiation of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs

          Fact : 4000 x 14,000 = 56,000,000

          You can dance around with your hopium pump all you like and try to state that we do not know what the future post BAU looks like but unless you can puncture my FACTS then you are talking nonsense.

          I am standing by with extensive research and references if you should you have any questions about The Facts.

          • Sceadu says:

            I am at a loss as to why you would call it “hopium” to expect that some humans will survive. If I am dead, what do I care? And statistics are not on my side. Besides that, anyone who survives will probably have a bleak and difficult existence. I would not call that “hope.” I have read about the fuel rod ponds also, and I simply do not feel that I have enough facts to draw a conclusion. I’m a skeptic of everything I read. Apparently you feel that you have enough facts to draw a conclusion. I have not read enough about the issue yet to agree or disagree with anyone on this point. I fail to see how this makes me somehow delusional.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Hopium – in general terms — refers to expectations that cannot be backed up by fact or logic — doesn’t matter if they considered positive or negative outcomes….

              I have researched this extensively — and I have concluded that the spent fuel ponds represent the coup de grace for mankind.

              Throw in a global population weakened by famine and disease — then hammer them with radiation — and I struggle to see how any will be left standing.

              All one has to do is look at the Fukushima nightmare — which does not even involve ponds — to see that I am right.

              Imagine what would happen at the Fukushima plant if the pumps stopped pouring tonnes of water onto the relative small amount of fuel that is somewhere under the wreckage of the reactor plant.

              As for the ponds:

              Japan’s chief cabinet secretary called it “the devil’s scenario.” Two weeks after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing three nuclear reactors to melt down and release radioactive plumes, officials were bracing for even worse. They feared that spent fuel stored in the reactor halls would catch fire and send radioactive smoke across a much wider swath of eastern Japan, including Tokyo.


              Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy.


              What you need to keep in mind is that in the above scenarios the assumption is that a accident would be controllable — i.e. that if a single pond caught fire BAU would still be in play and we could bring things under control by pumping water onto the spent fuel (as we are pumping water onto the fuel from the reactor at Fukushima)

              They do not explain what would happen if we were not able to control the situation in the event that there was no electricity or diesel fuel available to operate pumps — they assume BAU is forever.

              Once BAU goes — these monstrosities will pour radiation into the environment for many years…. they will poison the planet.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).

              A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel. To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7]

              Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-japan-fukushima-insight-idUSBRE97D00M20130814

              The problem is if the spent fuel gets too close, they will produce a fission reaction and explode with a force much larger than any fission bomb given the total amount of fuel on the site. All the fuel in all the reactors and all the storage pools at this site (1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion. In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material – See more at: http://www.dcbureau.org/20110314781/natural-resources-news-service/fission-criticality-in-cooling-ponds-threaten-explosion-at-fukushima.html

              Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire, which in turn could further heat up the fuel until it suffers damage. Such an event could release large amounts of radioactive substances, such as cesium-137, into the environment. This would start in more recently discharged spent fuel, which is hotter than fuel that has been in the pool for a longer time. A typical spent fuel pool in the United States holds several hundred tons of fuel, so if a fire were to propagate from the hotter to the colder fuel a radioactive release could be very large.

              According to Dr. Kevin Crowley of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, “successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material.”[12] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the September 11, 2001 attacks required American nuclear plants “to protect with high assurance” against specific threats involving certain numbers and capabilities of assailants. Plants were also required to “enhance the number of security officers” and to improve “access controls to the facilities”.

              The committee judges that successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material. The committee concluded that attacks by knowledgeable terrorists with access to appropriate technical means are possible. The committee identified several terrorist attack scenarios that it believed could partially or completely drain a spent fuel pool and lead to zirconium cladding fires. Details are provided in the committee’s classified report. I cannot discuss the details here.

              If any of the spent fuel rods in the pools do indeed catch fire, nuclear experts say, the high heat would loft the radiation in clouds that would spread the radioactivity.

              “It’s worse than a meltdown,” said David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists who worked as an instructor on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan. “The reactor is inside thick walls, and the spent fuel of Reactors 1 and 3 is out in the open.”

              If you don’t cool the spent fuel, the temperature will rise and there may be a swift chain reaction that leads to spontaneous combustion–an explosion and fire of the spent fuel assemblies. Such a scenario would emit radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

              Pick your poison. Fresh fuel is hotter and more radioactive, but is only one fuel assembly. A pool of spent fuel will have dozens of assemblies. One report from Sankei News said that there are over 700 fuel assemblies stored in one pool at Fukushima. If they all caught fire, radioactive particles—including those lasting for as long as a decade—would be released into the air and eventually contaminate the land or, worse, be inhaled by people. “To me, the spent fuel is scarier. All those spent fuel assemblies are still extremely radioactive,” Dalnoki-Veress says.

              It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission product, including 30-year half-life Cs, would be released. The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.

              Today there are 103 active nuclear power reactors in the U.S. They generate 2,000 metric tons of spent nuclear waste per year and to date have accumulated 71,862 tons of spent fuel, according to industry data.[vi] Of that total, 54,696 tons are stored in cooling pools and only 17,166 tons in the relatively safer dry cask storage. http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/the-growing-problem-of-spent-nuclear-fuel.html

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

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

              A major fire “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequences,” says Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University, who teamed with Princeton’s Michael Schoeppner on the modeling exercise.
              ….the national academies’s report warns that spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear plants is also vulnerable. After fuel is removed from a reactor core, the radioactive fission products continue to decay, generating heat. All nuclear power plants store the fuel onsite at the bottom of deep pools for at least 4 years while it slowly cools.

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

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

          • Justin Time says:

            I know all about those facts FE. Jeez… we’ve had them hammered into our brains for long enough don’t ya think?

            I’ve read all the papers that you and Gail and others have referenced. A lot of them are studies of possible scenarios. You do know what that means right?

            They are not facts. They are predictions based on limited amounts of data. The more savvy will make a whole bunch of these predictions to cover their asses. Maybe one of them will turn out to be a winner and then they get to gloat.

            The number one glaring fact staring you in the face is that BAU is still intact… more or less.

            Even you have at times marvelled at this miracle. And it is a miracle of sorts. Or sorcery. Take your pick. But it’s held things together for at least eight years. Not many would have bet on that.

            So… now that we both believe in magic. Anything is possible..right?

            If I put together lots of data and predictive software and manage to conjure up another eight years of BAU would you be upset? Whatever it takes right? What if we’re nowhere near the limits of whatever it takes?

            Admit it. You’re hysterical. Your modus operandi is to take arguments to the opposite extreme. If I say we should leave some room for doubt you scream about the spent fuel ponds. Your trump card.

            If BAU does collapse I don’t really care about spent fuel ponds. Death is death. Whatever life can adapt and survive will. Good luck to them.

            The only value in repeatedly hammering on these topics is if someone somewhere had the power to remedy the situation. Since you don’t believe that to be the case what value do you gain from fearmongering here among people who know what’s what?

            Hey, you’re the one that moved to New Zealand and bought a container for the end of the world party…

            I didn’t spend a penny.

            Slow clap.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have seen all the studies and all the facts and all the evidence that 1+1 = 2.

              This has been hammered into my head since grade 1. But enough is enough. I don’t care what some Harvard think tank came up with — I don’t give a shit if a Nobel prize winner in math came to that conclusion.

              A lot of them are studies of possible scenarios. You do know what that means right? There is no definite proof that 1+1=2. Scientific theories change all the time. It might be wrong. The world is not flat!

              They are not facts. They are predictions based on limited amounts of data.

              1+1 might = 3 for all I know. Or 0.

              To be clear I am not fear mongering — I am providing information that saves people from wasting their remaining time stressing about what is coming and trying to figure out how to survive it — from wasting their cash on prepping….

              If only there had been a Fast Eddy on this site when I landed here I would have saved a lot of cash — and I could have an even bigger end of world party.

              I would probably still have moved to New Zealand…. It looks like a nice weekend ahead — I think I will head into the bush and do a spot of trout fishing tomorrow …. not a care in the world once acceptance sets in.

        • Rainydays says:

          Very good comment. There are so many unknowns in play, anything can happen really. Many people assume/expect worst case outcomes of every aspect of our predicament. This is highly unlikely from a statistical point of view. If we have a problem (e.g. financial crisis) we may have N different possible outcomes, ranging between extinction in the low end and BAU in the high end. There is a very high probability we get something in between. But if one only focuses on how things go wrong and never focus on how things can be mitigated, then you always fall on the low end of the scale (instadoom).

          BTW I don’t mind people being confident in their predictions, it provokes more discussion and in the end makes us all learn more.

    • ARBP says:

      “These aren’t private entities that can fail, this is the government that is funded by taxation and by the rest of the world, it isn’t going to disappear; a modern, well stocked police force can easily disperse and/or kill hundreds of thousands of people”
      Without BAU there are no taxes. Furthermore, many governments are funded with debt, since their tax revenue is insufficient. The debt is international in nature. Without an international system of debt, what they can afford becomes severely limited. They may h If unemployment skyrockets the government’s ability to collect taxes is severely hampered. A stockpile of weapons isn’t going to help them much. They are probably not going to be able to pay soldiers and police very much. Planning for martial law is not going to keep people employed, keep things that rely on computers running, etc. Shooting rioters isn’t a plan. In many places there’s no point of the military showing up because there is no critical supply of food or water or infrastructure to defend.

      You still have no clue as to how interdependent civilization is at this point.
      This is not 1932 anymore. There is no country, aside from China, that has an industrial base that can withstand a severe contraction in global trade. This is the age of supply chains that span 15 countries for things as simple as as a plain t-shirt.

      If the system could withstand a complete collapse, the bailouts would not have been necessary. Once trust in the financial system evaporates it won’t come back.
      The resources to build and maintain international trade will not exist.
      The recovery of capitalism after World War II was only possible with large new supplies of cheap energy and other resources.

      “when the time comes they will put back in place border controls to stem the refugee flow”
      The time to do so now because Europe is on its way to becoming mostly Muslim because most native Europeans are aging and are not having enough children to support them in old age–hence the need for immigrants. If they don’t change course and keep doing more of the same for the next 10 years, there will be no Europeans willing to stem the flow of Muslim migrants.

      I could go on and on and embarrass you …revealing how ignorant you are but… there isn’t enough time in the world.

      • Justin Time says:

        Explaining the supply chain for a simple everyday product like a T shirt is a very entertaining way to jolt people out of their comfort zone. The blank expression on their face is priceless.

        You mentioned that China may have some advantage with it’s industrial base but surely this would crumble to zero in the speculative scenario of BAU collapse. Much of their machinery and parts and so on come from all over the world.

        • Rodster says:

          “You mentioned that China may have some advantage with it’s industrial base but surely this would crumble to zero in the speculative scenario of BAU collapse.”

          There won’t be any winners including China. They risk a rioting population of 1.5 plus billion citizens if China’s exports fall to zero.

          • Justin Time says:

            Yes exactly. I would expect that. But would a billion pissed off chinese riot forever?

            Or… would there be a brief period of rioting and then… something else.

            It’s the something else that I’m not willing to bet on. Even the most rational predictions could be wrong.

            • rioting requires energy input—just like wars.

              eventually energy runs out, and riots subside—but no time factor can be put on it of course

            • Sceadu says:

              The “something else” part of what you describe is where things will get interesting. Typically humans react to emergencies by first trying to pretend everything is normal. That will last a little while. Then panic will set in. After the panic? That’s when we’ll see if humanity will exist to pull out of this or not. I agree that it is very difficult to predict what that might look like.

            • Justin Time says:


              Agreed. But the time factor thing is my pet peeve…

              If we can all agree that timing is the most uncertain issue here then what exactly is the time frame for any of this. Do you see what I mean?

              If doomer A says that something will definitely happen between now and this time next year people listening will sit up and pay attention.

              If doomer B says that something will happen between now and the end of the century no one will even raise an eyebrow.

              So… there’s the problem in a nutshell.

              The more time we have or the wider the timeframe the less certain doomers can be about their predictions and the higher the probablility of something else happening.

              The usual response to this is that we don’t have that much time.

              If we don’t know when things will happen then how can we say that we don’t have much time?

    • Rodster says:

      Funny how you say we won’t have a fast collapse but yet the Gov’t is preparing for Matial Law. And Martial Law is designed as a counter to a fast breakdown/collapse in the rule of law.

      • There are bigger or smaller inconsistencies in every post and argument here (incl. mine).

        For example, the fast instadoomers (“overnighters”) say don’t do anything, because when it finally comes, it’s going to be over instantaneously, while in the same breath and in other posts, they sound personally very worried about the horror from being eaten alive by impoverished mobs, but firstly being chased and put into cages – collection “food rooms” ?

        Ehm, sorry, what mobs can be still around?
        Don’t you know about these pesky nuclear waste pools or sky fountains of MIRVs in 20-40minutes ending it all of it for ever?

        Similarly, the other group on the opposite spectrum, we the staircase/phase shift collapsniks (or “triagists”) often downplay the existing role of the global JIT system and the overall complexity now needed even for the simplest maintenance infrastructure tasks, not mentioning attempt to run true war-economy style temporary plateaus.

        = so the reality will be somewhere in between..

        • Artleads says:

          “Similarly, the other group on the opposite spectrum, we the staircase/phase shift collapsniks (or “triagists”) often downplay the existing role of the global JIT system and the overall complexity now needed even for the simplest maintenance infrastructure tasks, not mentioning attempt to run true war-economy style temporary plateaus.”

          Coming to see this has let much air out of my phase shift balloon. It had been comforting to identify bad guys and bad things, and then to see we couldn’t do without them in quite the way we thought…

          As an artist, it calls for retirement form the blogosphere to create something…giving it my best go, come whatever. Unfortunately, the immediate reward of feedback through blogging is a hard drug to ditch. Whether we perish even with vision, it’s more certain that we parish from lack of it.

  18. psile says:

    Exxon Caves to Oil Crash With Historic Global Reserves Cut

    – International oil giant wipes 3.3 billion barrels from books
    – Entire Kearl oil-sands project in western Canada de-booked

    Exxon Mobil Corp. disclosed the deepest reserves cut in its modern history as prolonged routs in oil and natural gas markets erased the value of a $16 billion oil-sands investment and other North American assets.

    The equivalent of about 3.3 billion barrels of untapped crude was removed from the so-called proved reserves category in Exxon’s books, the Irving, Texas-based explorer said in a statement. The revisions were triggered when low energy prices made it mathematically impossible to profitably harvest those fields within five years. The sprawling, 3.5-billion barrel Kearl oil-sands development in western Canada accounted for most of the hit.

    The 19 percent drop amounts to the largest annual cut since at least the 1999 merger that created the company in its modern form, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That includes 1.5 billion barrels of reserves that were pumped from wells. The previous record cut was a 3 percent reduction taken during the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. The reserves are now at their lowest since 1997.

    Hammer blow…

  19. adonis says:

    2017 august could be when the collapse occurs according to the prophecy that gives us five more months to prep

  20. adonis says:

    was surfing the net for peak oil articles and found a good one that i think is worth a read it gives two predictions for the collapse of our oil civilization according to this guy’s interpretation of Nostradamus. http://www.hogueprophecy.com/2011/04/nostradamus-ufo-prophecy-or-the-collapse-of-oil/

    • So perhaps the solar eclipse in August 2017 gives rise to earthquakes and other problems that push the world over the edge?

      • Justin Time says:


        I used to listen (for fun) to a guy that was convinced that the New Madrid fault line was going to collapse because of salt erosion and something to do with corexit – the product used in the Gulf oil spill.

        He had maps and everything showing where the new coastline would be.

        Yellowstone park was supposed to blow too.

        Fukushima was going to irradiate the whole world.

        And chemtrails were making us sick and making strange cloud formations.

        All good entertainment. Until something actually happens…

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    “Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores,” lamented Target CEO Brian Cornell this morning in the earnings release.

    “Unexpected” is a hilarious choice of words. Because we, mere outsiders, have been vivisecting the now structural brick-and-mortar retail quagmire for a long time, and no deterioration is “unexpected.”

    Target’s revenues in the fourth quarter fell 4.3% year-over-year to $20.7 billion. Revenues for the whole year dropped 5.8% to $69.5 billion. Down from $69.8 billion in fiscal 2011. That makes for six years of sales stagnation.

    Net income plunged 43% to $817 million for the quarter, and 19% for the year to $2.7 billion. But at least, Target is still making money – unlike other retailers, many of which are either already in bankruptcy or are slithering toward it.

    Sales at stores open for at least a year fell 1.5% in the quarter and 0.5% for the year. It expects same-store sales to fall further in the “low-to-mid single” digits. Target also lowered its outlook for earnings, which caused even retail optimists to howl in pain.

    More http://wolfstreet.com/2017/02/28/collapse-brick-and-mortar-retail-what-do-with-retail-malls/

    The Deflation …. The Deflation…

    • Diseconomies of lack of scale, when buyers go online. Also, lower wage earners look for the best price possible, not the most fashionable item of a type.

      • Justin Time says:

        You’re right!

        I have an amazingly good smartphone for about 50 euros.

        I shake my head at my nephews that simply have to have the latest and greatest of everything and nothing else will do. And rinse repeat about year or two.

        Are they the good guys? Because they’re propping up BAU?

        Am I a bad guy? Because I make do with the cheapest alternatives?

        If everyone was like me there wouldn’t be a global economy. Not as we know it. But I’m pretty sure something else would exist based on basic needs.

  22. jerry says:

    I learned about peak oil from one of those documentaries on tv some 12 years ago now and became so intrigued with the subject that I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I especially visited the website lifeaftertheoilcrash.com I believe it was and consumed the material everyday. Then I stumbled upon Gail’s site and have never looked back really. Try sitting through 8 hours of just the comments lol it will literally blow your mind. As for communicating with family lol I can relate to you all lol. What a miserable endeavor wow! But you know nothing and I mean nothing has galvanized my thoughts about peak oil than seeing that post earlier about HSBC putting out a paper on peak oil. That for me changes everything, literally everything. In all of the years that I have studied this subject never came across or waited actually to hear from a source like a bank. For a bank to now come out and say there is a problem that is HUGE TRULY HUGE!!!!
    Beyond that from a Biblical perspective this also raises huge questions. I could say a great many things about what I know and see but I doubt very much any here would really care to listen. Maybe the good book can speak for itself.
    For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matt. 24:21
    The perfect storm deindustrilization of society and the violence this will engender awaits us all!

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      “Try sitting through 8 hours of just the comments lol it will literally blow your mind”

      Lollll I know what you’re talking about, it’s happened to me a few times over the years (okay maybe not 8 hours, but hours on end though)

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The surreal becomes real when an establishment entity puts their stamp on it.

      The question is — will 2018 really be the year…. one would think they would not put that in front of clients unless they were confident of the prediction …..

      I am also wondering — why put that in front of clients at all — what is the upside to telling them the world ends next year?

      • jerry says:

        Fast Eddy maybe Truman can help with that:

        “A bank is by definition a corporation of thieves who will loan you as much money as you want AS LONG AS YOU CAN PROVE TO THEM YOU DON’T NEED IT.”

        Hmmmmmm A host of new regulations?????

        “2018 is likely to be crunch year for another reason. 1 January 2018 is the date when a host of new regulations are set to come in force, which will “constrain lending ability and prompt banks to only advance money to the best borrowers, which could accelerate bankruptcies worldwide,” according to Bloomberg. Other rules to come in play will require banks to stop using their own international risk assessment measures for derivatives trading.

        Ironically, the introduction of similar well-intentioned regulation in January 2008 (through Basel II) laid the groundwork to rupture the global financial architecture, making it vulnerable to that year’s banking collapse.

        In fact, two years earlier in July 2006, Dr David Martin, an expert on global finance, presciently forecast that Basel II would interact with the debt bubble to convert a collapse of the housing bubble into a global financial conflagaration. https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/brace-for-the-financial-crash-of-2018-b2f81f85686b#.owwijgo4z

        Isn’t it about money? It’s always about money.That’s where everything starts and its where everything ends.

      • Justin Time says:

        These are the questions that need to be asked.

        I still maintain that there is more going on here than meets the eye. And much more than any one of us here has access to.

        The elites have for many decades been talking about a reset in their own writings. A one world govt, one world currency, one world religion etc etc etc.

        Trigger scenarios that they put forward for this period of transformation include economic collapse, resource collapse, climate change, even a fake alien invasion!

        Whatever the source, the effect would be fear and panic – the reaction to a suitably global problem resulting in the ultimate solution provided by the newly established global saviours.

        What these writings also mention is the way that the old order will be demonised in such a way as to create the need for and acceptance of a new order that will replace the old. The new order doesn’t have to be perfect or 100% benevolent – far from from it.

        All that needs to happen is for the masses to be indoctrinated with the idea that acceptance of this new order will save their souls in some way. Dissenters will perish. The obedient will survive. That’s all they need to know.

        Put it this way… if you’d told people a hundred years ago that everyone – even your children – would be chipped and tracked 24/7 not many would have believed you. Possibly H.G.Wells etc. since he was the author of The New World Order where he laid out plans for global governance (as did many others).

        But today almost everyone is “chipped”. And you probably paid for the privilidge. You did so voluntarily. Instead of coercion, advertising and keeping up with the joneses and convenience did the trick. It’s not just the smartphones, it’s everything that forms a part of industrial civilisation. Everyone has a profile, a dossier on their transactions and other activities. The developed world is now the largest Stasi like system of surveilance ever to exist. Now that’s power.

        We see the moves to eliminate cash. We see the testing of reactions to scares ranging from nuclear war and pandemics to economic crashes. Almost every form of media toys with these ideas. They are firmly embedded in our collective conciousness. So much so, that the masses will react accordingly when the appropriate trigger is pulled even though they have never actually experienced one of these events up close.

        Why do you think that The Walking Dead is the most watched show in cable network history? Is it because of the great acting? Or the producers got lucky with an otherwise niche genre?

        I beleive that the elites still see themselves as the suvivors surrounded by hordes of undead, the uninitiated to their inner circles, the useless eaters that now need to perish so they can live.

        Whether you believe or not that predictive programming is at play here doesn’t change the fact that our awareness of all of these concepts affects the way we respond to the various inputs.

        Even if you’ve never heard of weaponised rabies (not the best bioweapon but that’s the point), you’ll still react fearfully to a news report that people in downtown New York are runnning around biting each other. I don’t know… maybe that’s not that uncommon but you have enough reference points to know that it could get bad.

        And that’s all that needs to happen at the right moment for everyone to fall in line and accept whatever Norman’s theocratic dictatorship throws at them. Just don’t rule out a luciferian based approach disguised as some new age – christian mash up.

        So anyway, that’s the theory based on the elites own writings. They also want to upload themselves to machines and live forever or solve the problem of aging in other ways. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they are totally off their rockers or possibly have a trick or two up their sleeves that haven’t been revealed yet.

        What I don’t want to do is rule out this possiblity definitively based on the commentary here however convincing it may be. Just as convincing is the idea that many minds around the world at the highest levels have already known this for many decades and have prepared accordingly. The idea that they would just allow things to run their course for so long without even the smallest atttempt to secure their own future is mildly ludicrous.

        I apologise to Norman for using the word “they” copiously throughout this blurb. I don’t know if he’s read much of the elites writings but carol quigleys tragedy and hope would be a good place to start (need to finish it myself).

        I know it’s difficult and not accepted doctrine on this blog, but step out of the status quo for a second, rise high above it all… and try to envisage the sorts of conditions that would enable energy, resource and economic reform to occur. Now make them happen.

        It doesn’t matter how ugly the situation looks as long as it makes everyone toe the line and maintains the basic infrastructure for activities deemed most necessary. Mass centralisation of everything would be paramount. No more grids. Everything else would go.

        Disclaimer: I know this is probably all hogwash but I still feel the need to put it out there. No stone should be left unturned when facing the collapse of civilisation. My own objection to the above and the possible hubris of elite institutions is the glaring issue of todays supply chains and the difficulties of maintaining these even for minimal requirements. That said, microchip manufacture to shrink to just four companies makes me think anything is possible however vulnerable.

        On that note… complexity does not equal vulnerability. Plenty of natural examples. Discuss.

  23. Fast Eddy says:

    The most hyped IPO ever – but what will buyers actually get?

    The problem, however, is that the company itself may not be worth as much as the Saudi government claims. Recent reports and growing skepticism regarding Aramco’s actual worth have cast some doubts on whether the world’s largest IPO will be as earth-shattering as originally thought.

    The original estimate offered by Saudi Arabia, which placed Saudi Aramco’s worth at around $2 trillion, was based on a valuation of Saudi Arabia’s oil proven reserves, 261 billion barrels. Multiplying at $8 per barrel, those reserves alone are worth $2.088 trillion. When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made that original estimate, it garnered some skepticism: how could any company be worth such an astronomic sum?

    Now, analysts at Wood Mackenzie have conducted their own study of Saudi Aramco, and came up with a completely different (and much lower) figure. WoodMac puts Aramco’s true value closer to $400 billion, eighty percent less than the Saudi estimate, and it arrived at the figure by considering future demand and the anticipated average price of oil (on which profits will depend), as well as Saudi Aramco’s status as a state-run company.


  24. adonis says:

    welcome aboard TY once you get it there is no turning back and it’s pointless trying to warn family and friends it becomes a surreal exercise as you pretend to be like them when really you’re not , You’re cursed and blessed with the knowledge that our world will be turning into hell shortly

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      It is indeed a curse and a blessing to know this. If I’d understood how little power mere facts have in the face of deeply ingrained and/or cherished narratives I’d never have opened my mouth and risked relegating myself to ‘weirdo pariah’ status.

      And it is *fiendishly* difficult to explain our predicament to a layman. You can point out the simple truth that an infinite growth paradigm cannot work indefinitely on a planet of finite resources – but then there are still so many confusions to overcome. Most people seem to conflate technology and energy, for example, or they blithely assume that renewable energy is literally that. And if you start talking about our indebtedness you will hear things like – “Debt doesn’t matter; we only owe it to ourselves,” or, “The central banks can just print more money.” Or they will play the man instead of the ball and question your credentials or your sanity.

      In other words there are myriad ways in which someone who doesn’t want to hear that we are in deep trouble (which, let’s face it, is most of us) can convince themselves that we are indeed very far from being in deep trouble – the free market and human ingenuity will sweep away all impediments!

      On the plus side, I have a much greater appreciation for the day-to-day luxuries of late-stage industrial civilisation and the company of my nearest and dearest.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        What would be the more difficult task…

        Trying to get a layman to understand that the end of the world is imminent…


        Trying to demonstrate to an American that America is ‘great’ because it is a vicious murdering pillaging machine unlike anything the world has ever seen … that it has no interest in spreading democracy … that it would do anything – gas women and children (Syria) — starve 500k children (Iraq) — shoot down airliners (Ukraine) — murder American citizens (911) — no act is too heinous … the ends (living large) justify the means….

        Both are extremely difficult tasks because the cattle have been bombarded with MSM messages telling them what to think… which narrative to ‘choose’

        NOTE: I am all for the acts described above as I benefit…. and because if we aren’t the meanest dog then we are a mangy mutt and we don’t eat.

  25. ITEOTWAWKI says:

    I have to say it’s really nice to read the intelligent and thoughtful comments (ex-Delusistanis) here on Gail’s excellent blog. We are so few to see what is about to happen, and you can’t really talk about the predicament we’re in with others because people will just think you are crazy. It’s pretty lonely out there when it comes to this topic…

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      In some ways true, but as much as collapse is talked about here it hasn’t actually happened yet. The price of fuel at the pumps is not so high as to cause an economic contraction, and the overall consumption of oil worldwide continues to rise, so most people probably are not too concerned about it. If we are close to collapse then what is it about our current situation that suggests collapse could occur in the next 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 years? Over at Peak Oil Barrel dot com they are discussing The Hill Group’s ETP model and the consensus is it’s based on faulty assumptions, so it’s back to the drawing boards for that Group, which suggests it’s more difficult to predict the future than most think. I use to adhere to the same idea of a coming collapse but I’m not convinced of that now in part because so many years have passed without much of a hiccup except some bad banking practices that led to the 08 deep recession.

    • Tom Fugate says:

      I agree. There are some brilliant minds on this list. The only thing I’m not sure if I agree with is FE’s assertion that “less than one year after the end of BAU there will not be a single human left on the planet”. You may be right but I’m just not sure.

      • No matter

        just bear in mind that it only needs 2 people left to count one another

        and if it means the end of the bathroom gender argument they might be able to start over

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        I would not be surprised that that would be the case for anyone plugged into the Matrix, which is pretty much everyone..maybe some tribes in Africa and South America could last a little longer, but then like FE has said over and over there’s those pesky 450 nuclear reactors that will be in full meltdown…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The reactors are not the problem as they could be shut down and the fuel moved to ponds…. it is the 4000+ spent fuel ponds that need to be managed….

        • Tim Groves says:

          Hey, don’t forget my epoch-making proposal to give every post-BAU community its own “HOT ROD” heated swimming pool and spa facility! 🙂

      • psile says:

        I think it would be at least safe to say that there will be a BIG hit to the existing crop of human flesh within one year after BAU ends, and that no surviving human beings will be living “the lifestyle” either.

      • homo superior says:

        Who said something about standing on the shoulders of Giants?

        Matt Savinar nailed most of it way back in the early 2000s (he has progressed to Astrology). Jay Hanson predated him but that was about overpopulation until he had the Peak Oil doomgasm – similar to FE when we got the spent fuel pools one.

        So nobody is an original genius here.

        • The story we are telling is somewhat different. The problem manifests itself differently than many earlier modelers assumed. It gets to be a financial problem. Prices tend to fall too low, rather than rise too high. Debt levels are a big part of the problem. Peak coal actually seems to be occurring before peak oil, something few assumed would happen. It is really peak energy that is the problem, not peak oil.

    • T.Y. says:

      So true !,
      I’ve been lurking around this blog and other for quite while and almost never post comments, but perhaps i should do so more often.
      Recently i had a conversation with my mother – one of the few persons i even bother to try and discuss this with because i still hope we could survive as a family -; although i’ve tried to explain multiple times the coming shit-storm to her, she doesn’t really grasp it. She tries to listen, mostly because she wants to show she cares what i think about. But the conversation was close to surreal. Here goes:
      The conversation took place when i went to pick up my 8 month old son who stayed with her for the day. I adore him, but also feel ashamed because the chances are looking very bad for him in part due to failure by me and previous generations (no, my wife doesn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the problems ahead, but didn’t want to deny a kid to her, afterall i wanted a kid too and am hoping that i might be wrong in my predictions). I once again stressed to my mom the importance of having at least for a couple of weeks spare food on shelve. And, again, she started by stating that i shouldn’t worry so much. She is very concerned because i keep bringing this up, and – nearly in tears – she told me she just wanted to see me happy and then asked what in the world had made me so scared & terrified ? Once again i tried to explain the deteriorating fossil fuel situation & the link to banking & debt & almost the entire world as we know it. I’m sure she doesn’t fully understand what i’m trying to say, and simply ended by telling her : “once you know what i know, there is no undoing it, no unseeing. The cost to now is cheap, what really terrifies me is that i’m the only one; there are probably 20 crickets for every ant…..
      This time around she was very open and honest in her responses. The key ones were something along these lines:
      “but we will all be in it together, let come whatever comes. If it is our time and a lot of people die then maybe we should accept it when the time comes, but don’t carry the world on your back right now for something that might not come to pass for sometime yet”.

      Problem is : i know she is not that fatalistic, when the time comes, it is delusional to think we will not al fight to survive, so i kept pressing here. eventually she revealed to me what she really believes: “the oil companies will bring to the market one or several of the inventions /patents they bought & hide away to keep selling their oil”.

      I’ve entertained this notion as well in the past; but frankly why would some of them be downsizing & laying off people if this was the case ? More than most doomer scenario’s the very fact that nobody feels an urgent need to assess this situation critically and take at least some minimal steps to try and soften the blows that are probably coming our way is terrifying to me; it means you are better off keeping your thoughts to yourselves and living a “lonely” life, surround by other people, friends and family who will be mired in deep denial and shock when the system starts to crack up.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        That is why FW is so valuable. I seldom express any of the thoughts I have here to the matrix.

        Almost all will never get it — many here don’t even fully get it — and it only antagonizes people and/or makes them try to avoid you.

        I used to urge a few people to get it — because I thought at the time with proper preparation — this was survivable.

        I changed my tune — everyone dies.

        So I generally let people enjoy the rest of their short happy lives. Except when they attack my coffee capsules — then I give them End of More….

        • Eddy i wish you’d stop the ‘giving’ part


          • ITEOTWAWKI says:

            Lollll…what a great book though Norman!! I learned so much from your blog “Your Medieval Future” before you stopped posting a few years back (I guess you changed it to “End of More” to make it more palatable 😉

            It’s because of blogs like yours, and Gail’s and a few others that I woke up!!

            • @iteo
              thanks for the kind words
              I pretty much gave up on my own site, because I was getting more traction writing elsewhere to be honest—and blogs are very time consuming.

              Some blogs take off better than others–one has to accept that.

              did you buy the paperback or the kindle version?–always useful to know. And if you feel like adding a comment on the Amazon customer review thing–that helps to spread to word a bit too–unless you already have of course (I have no way of knowing that) in which case thanks.

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Hi NP, I bought the kindle edition as soon as it came out in June 2013…there was no paperback then (at least not on amazon.ca)…I have to take the time and write a review!! Anyway, thanks that book opened my eyes that June while holidaying in Greece…

            • @iteo

              As an early reader, you qualify for a ticket to the oscar ceremony when the movie is produced

              your ticket is in the post—-and thanks too

        • adonis says:

          fast eddie i think all the preparation in food water and growing food is not a wasted effort even if it gives us a box seat in the ‘end of days’ we just may be the last to die

      • waste of time explaining stuff to nearest and dearest—-i think ive been consigned to the status of family lunatic so i no longer bother—it really is a waste of time

        as to that old set of ideas about the suppressed patents bought by oil companies—that really is a favourite of the desperate.

        always ”they” are going to sort things, vote for the right government and all will be well—the number of times ive heard the ”they” word………….

        apart from that, welcome to the end of the world, i can let you have as many tickets as you like at very reasonable price—guaranteed best view anywhere.
        But no returns in the event of cancellation—sorry.

        • Joebanana says:

          My favourite myth is the patent on a carburetor that gets a great big 70’s car about 80 miles per gallon that was sold by mistake at a dealership and seized shortly thereafter. I actually had a guy at work tell my that a few years ago who swore it was true.

        • unravel says:

          i initially tried to convince family / friends to do something … even get rid of debt & hunker down when the crash hits … I slowly have come round to actually it makes more sense to take on MORE debt & enjoy … as long as you can service it for(who knows how long) …. obviously like a retirement slush fund, its difficult to know from exactly when you wont need further funds.
          But i still think there is a some value in giving F&F even a small unacknowledged awareness … when SHTF, the totally delusional will be stunned / angry / lost / crazy… the slightly aware but in denial will be “so this is what lunatic norm was on about …” & it may make the realisation ever so slightly less depressing.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            One thing I can guarantee you — when collapse comes — they will not acknowledge ‘you told me so’ — I don’t even think they will be thinking that… people don’t work that way.

            And in any event — when the power goes off — the world will be in the twilight zone — they will be like deer in the headlights…. overwhelmed thinking ‘this can’t be’ — and looking for someone to blame …

            Then Mr DNA will kick in —- he wants to survive — and he will demand his vessel do ‘whatever it takes’ …

            Each one of us will be acts we never thought possible during the time of ‘enough’…. A hungry animal is a dangerous animal… a threatened, cornered animal is a vicious animal….

            We are animals – far more cunning – far more vicious — far more dangerous — than any other animal.

            Fossil fuels have convinced us that we are Koombayaists….. it has made us lazy and complacent…. because we could be…

            When survival comes into question — the fangs will unsheathe.

            • unravel says:

              for sure – they will be looking for someone to blame – despite all the riches we enjoy, sadly that pretty much defines our peak of evolution.
              But i think its easy to overestimate the violence and underestimate the famine/water issues – underneath it all we are still a social animal and prefer to hunt & gather in numbers … time will tell

          • the problem with taking on more debt—even in a joking manner–
            is that we exist in a balance energy/debt situation.

            And the debt collectors will enforce any outstanding debts for as long as they can after the energy input has ceased

            example, if you have a mortgage, and because of the economic crash your job ceases to exist—maybe along with millions of others—the solvency of your mortgage company will still depend on your debt being repaid—even though it may be pointless.

            • Justin Time says:


              I mean… as in squatters. Squatters in the millions!

              Don’t you remember after the last crash lots of mortgage payers were left stranded and continued to live in the properties they were being bled for.

              Don’t know how long that lasted for or what happened to all of those households. But imagine this happening on a much larger scale. Banks cease to exist. The buildings have been built. They’re still standing there. People are standing around outside. What do you think they’re going to do?


              And the police won’t do diddly… squat. Because… they’ve got there own problems and there are just too many of these squatters. Live and let live.

              What are the banks going to do with millions of empty properties at that stage? They can’t sell them. They can’t rent them. They’ll never get a return on their investment.

              They may not be fully functional if amenaties are not available but shelter is shelter. They will be put to good use when/if things break down.

              I apologise profusely yet again for the blatant overuse of the word “they”. I will book myself in to the nearest reeducation camp as soon as possible.

        • Karl says:

          I agree. Explaining the predicament to people only alienates them and makes them think you’re a nutcase. I initially felt so passionately that I could save people that I was willing to endure the ridicule. Now I quietly prepare for me and mine (and a couple close family members). My wife tolerates “prepping” as a quirky hobby, and doesn’t bother me about it too much provided it is only occasionally a topic of discussion. The occasional temper tantrum from my daughter will sometimes induce my wife to express a concern about her “not being resilient enough to survive the apocalypse” .

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        Thanks for sharing T.Y.

        I have been a lurker here since 2011, started posting a few months ago.

        When you say “once you know what I know, there is no undoing it, no unseeing.” , I have to say I totally agree with you…since learning about all this 6-7 years ago, I have been thinking of collapse every single day and I mean every.single.day!!! I am glad though that I have found out about all this…It has made me accept my mortality..I still manage to live a happy life, I savor each day that BAU is intact and I am under no illusion that I will die of old age…just ain’t gonna happen….it just makes you appreciate more the little joys of life…I would wish you good luck, but I think it would be more appropriate to just wish that you take advantage of every waking moment with your young family while BAU is in place!

      • Joebanana says:

        Most of us are in the same situation to a certain extent. My father knows in his heart what is going on, but at 76, what can he do? He is the best father a man could ask for so I just keep enjoying my time with him. My mother is also a most wonderful person who never gave me a bad memory, but the collapse talk is too much for her to bear.

        I tried warning people but it is pointless. I think you will find that is the case with most people here in that regard. “Dead man walking” is how you will come to look at people, especially those who are not really fit and dependent on BAU.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          When I see parents enjoying time with their young kids…. I think — your kids is going to suffer horribly and die shortly — when the child is a girl I think of the even more horrifying future that awaits her.

          I do hope the Elders are going to put death pills in the post when the end approaches.

          The same ones they give to secret agents to bite on when they face torture…. most people will be in denial until the very end — but they need a way out when the horror arrives…. (starvation, rape, enslavement, being kept in a pen to be eaten…)

          • Aubrey Enoch says:

            A few years ago I took a concealed carry class presented by a local chief of police. He was not a hard assed type, but just a good responsible man. His presentation was thorough and specific, “You carry this weapon to be ready if someone tries to kill you or someone else” . At one point he said “Don’t let yourself be taken hostage. You do not want to be a hostage”.
            His implication was that a major reason for carrying the weapon was to avoid being captured. If you shoot back, you may not win but they will have to kill you.
            When the horror arrives at your house be ready to shoot back so they have to kill you. .
            We win if we die trying.

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          When I try talking to my parents about what is about to happen, they not only tell me to stop talking about it they actually do so aggressively….and every time I’m like – why do I even want to talk about this, it’s not like they or anybody else can do anything about it….and I think the reason is that this is so BIG, that you can’t just keep it to yourself…that’s why I appreciate this site, because on top of Gail’s very insightful articles, you also get to exchange with like-minded people… I mean how many people know about how deeply effed we are….1 in 10 000? 1 in 100 000?….whatever the number it’s really low….

      • Tim Groves says:

        I would like to sing the praises of compartmentalization. When Bill Clinton was being hounded over Whitewater, Monica and a dozen other scandals or pseudo-scandals, somebody asked him how he managed to keep going and stay focused on his job. Bill replied with something about compartmentalization. And I was impressed with his answer because at that time, I was incapable of doing performing that handy trick.

        Basically, we don’t need to let our faults and fears and worries run all round our brain like the cocaine in the song does. We can keep different stuff in different mental files, folders and boxes. If we learn how to do this, we can be a lot more at ease. When interacting with the relatives or watching the Superbowl or doing what you have to do to make a living, you can put all the doomer thoughts in the doomer compartment and forget them.

        This is not suppression or avoiding reality. It’s just a technique for living more sanely and happily and not dwelling overlong on things that may make you depressed.

        • xabier says:

          Excellent advice, Tim.

          Someone asked Napoleon how he ran his Empire, which was so complex.

          He told them that he imagined a bureau with lots of drawers labelled with the various regions – France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Britain, etc.

          He’d mentally open a drawer, consider the contents, think a bit, issue orders, etc, and then file it all away, and not think about any of it until he decided to open the drawer again.

          • Justin Time says:

            Wow! Never knew it was that easy. Might give it a go. The empire thing, I mean.

      • Hi T.Y.,

        The story we are talking about is a difficult one. I would “back off” in trying to get your mother to change her ways, based on it. Keeping two weeks food on the shelf may be helpful, or it may not be. This is one of the things we don’t know for sure. There are many other variables as well. Would it be better to stock up on water, for example? But does being able to live an extra day or two weeks really matter? We need to understand better what is ahead, before we can tell others how to fix it. We certainly need their support, now and in the future. This reason alone is a major reason for backing off.

      • Sceadu says:

        I empathize with all of you on this point. I have a couple people in my life who take me seriously when I talk about this. But like you, T.Y., when I invested in some emergency supplies, my parents started talking about how “scared” I was of things. I told them I wasn’t scared — I was just taking what I thought was a reasonable precaution. Not relying on the grid for survival is seen as paranoid. I’m single with no kids, and the closest person I have to a significant other generally gets it, or at least hears me out without thinking I’m nuts.

        I’m an 80s kid — I grew up with all the talk of recycling and non-renewable resources and stuff like that in school. One day when I was maybe 6 or 7, I began to wonder, “If we have non-renewable resources, and we use them to make lots of stuff, and then we throw that stuff away, won’t all our resources just end up in the landfill?” I found it odd even then that other people were unable to follow that train of thought to its inevitable conclusion, and preferred denial.

        Humans suffer from a cognitive bias called “normalcy bias.” If you read about great disasters in history, you’ll see that humans generally ignore crisis until danger/death are completely obvious and inescapable. Those of us who post here are generally probably less prone to this bias.

        • Justin Time says:

          We have the Gift. We are Seers.

          Or maybe we’re just a little more curious than the average bear.

          And yes. We are indeed landfill making machines. We are incredibly good at this. Our crowning achievement. WALL-E was a documentary.

        • Joebanana says:

          It would be very interesting to understand how this very diverse people have arrived here. There is such a huge difference in culture, politics, geography, education, and everything else, that it is amazing.

      • STFU says:

        Welcome to our world. Now I will take you from kindergarten to a masters. Want to keep your job? Let it go. STFU. Learn to love STFU. You must embrace it. You can not “want” to discuss it because you will. You must not want to discuss it. Like getting laid? STFU. Come here pour your heart out. Everywhere else STFU. Embrace STFU.

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          You said: “Like getting laid? STFU”

          LOLLLLL I was in a bar 3 years ago hitting on a nice divorcee with two young kids…I was in a state of advanced inebriation..anyway started talking about all this stuff (NOT A SMART MOVE I KNOW, BUT I WAS NOT ALL THERE)…so she asks me when I thought SHTF will happen… I said probably before 2020…needless to say, the conversation ended not long after and she moved to another place in the bar….moral of the story; S.T.F.U!!!! 😉

      • Rainydays says:

        I feel your pain man, it is a pretty desperate feeling to uncover our predicament and have no one to talk to. I also have small kids who face a very uncertain future.

        After a while you might arrive at the acceptance-phase. You realize that there is nothing to be done, neither politics or prepping will help. If there is nothing to do, then there is nothing to fear. Your mother put it quite nicely I think, we will all be in it together and don’t let it destroy your life in the present.

        If you think of pre-industrial man we seldom planned too far in the future. It was always a struggle to see another day for yourself and your kin. We were never promised another day, as Guy Mcpherson puts it. But in our comfortable present age we have been brought up to believe we are invincible and that society can only move forward. That we should go to school, get a job, house, cars, have kids, grandkids, retire, see the world etc. We weren’t taught to live in the present and be thankful for each day. That’s why this “peak everything” stuff is too much for people, it is the opposite of everything they have been told throughout their entire lives. When I confronted people like you did I just got the old “they will fix it” meme thrown back. It is pointless to discuss this with people not aware of finite world issues.

        There are some pretty pessimistic views to be seen at this site, but no one really knows how long this will be dragged out until it’s lights out. It could be 30 days or 30 years. So my advice to you is to enjoy each day, appreciate your family and take care of them. If SHTF they will need someone mentally stable to cling on to.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          One of the many things I have learned… is not to use past performance when evaluating the current situation.

          By all rights the economy should not exist — IF we were to apply the old rules.

          We should have had another 2008 crisis long ago.

          But this time is different — the central banks will do absolutely anything to prevent that.

          So we cannot really use markers such as declining profits, ridiculous PE multiples etc..

          Recall the book This Time is Different – the premise was that when national debt passes 100% of GDP very bad things happen — well there are plenty of countries at or past that threshold – Japan has blown it away — but so far nothing particularly bad has happened…

          Because This Time is Different — the central banks look at this development — they hold their collective noses avoiding the stench — and allow the charade to continue… because it must continue — if one of these countries defaults —– we all die


          We are in completely uncharted waters here — given the central banks will back stop everything not caring about moral hazard — this could go on for some time…. there is no historical precedent that we can point to that says — watch for this inflection point — this is generally when ‘whatever it takes’ fails.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      People can mouth the words, but haven’t a clue as to the meaning or the consequences.
      I worked in the Transition Town movement for quite a while, and gave up in bewilderment.
      These were people with good intentions, but incapable of understanding basic science.
      I’m living is rural Mexico, and they seem to have a innate understanding of something’s wrong.

      • After I visited a couple of attempts at transition, I could see that there was a huge gap in understanding the problem at hand. The idea was to “use less,” not that the system would stop. Water blueberries with water from the city system, then freeze them to save them for the rest of the year, for example. Use electric fences to keep animals out. Make frequent trips to the store to buy chocolate chip cookie mixes.

        • Justin Time says:

          Make frequent trips to the store to buy chocolate chip cookie mixes.


  26. Van Kent says:

    Justin Time,

    On your question; “why do we need growth?” Or rather, like OFWerds comment, -growth or collapse- why??

    I think you are right in saying nobody seems to have a grasp of this. Agreed. Everybody I know are just looking at their small box, the big picture isn’t clear for that many, outside of OFW that is. If more people actually grasped what the situation actually is.. maybe our species would have small minuscule chance of surviving whats ahead. But I’m not that optimistic about people getting it..

    Ok.. Why growth?

    1. Pensions, healthcare, the money the government has promised to dish out, isn’t actually there. Its taxed, and it is taken from the profits of publicly traded companies. The only reason why a publicly traded company exists, is to make profits. Without profits. It will not exist.

    2. When you start a business, or grow a publicly traded company business, in to new ventures, you take out loans so that you can start that new business. To pay back the loan to the bank, you need business profits.

    3. Everything that banks do, actually relies on businesses making profits. If profits can not be made.. by the big and the small companies.. no more banks.

    4. The currency we hold is a promise of energy and resources. The currency is created by the banks when they loan it out to the businesses (or mortgages). See point 3 and 2.

    1+2+3+4 and a 150 years later, everything depends on ‘future growth’. All of the above is calculated to work out just fine when the economy grows 2% or 1.5% annually. Just as long as it just grows. The problem as Norm commented, is that on a finite world exponential energy and resource growth usage is.. not possible..

    So.. what does this actually entail?? First, growth is the Anum1 policy of every government on earth. There is no plan B. Growth, growth, growth, what ever it takes, as long as there is growth. ZIRP NIRP , 20 trillion in debt, 100 trillion in debt. As long as the economy grows. See 1+2+3+4.

    Ok.. no more growth on an finite world, what actually happens next?? Profits start to diminish. Banks start to have problems making loans to new businesses (or mortgages). ZIRP and NIRP make pensions and banks unstable. Not enough money for the pensionfunds and the banks.

    Fast forward from 2008 to 2017.. there is a point when ZIRP and NIRP have been in place long enough to make the banks unstable. And a point, when there just is too much debt to actually pay it back. What happens when ‘you push the string hard enough?’

    Every currency and every bank and every government are dependant of each other. They have derivatives going back and forth, a million times over.. When things start to fall apart, all of the publicly traded companies start to lay off people at the same time. Simultaneously all banks start to crumble. Simultanously all of the governments default. Simultanously all currencies loose value, and become unstable.

    As this happens.. no more international trade.. without international trade.. no more economy.. no more trucks.. no more just in time economy.. no more food to the groceries..

    Without growth, without robust profits.. the entire system that actually feeds 7.5 b people, just simply falls apart. And when it collapses, its not an option to start some local BAU-lite.. all areas, all businesses, all trucks, all industry, the grid, everything, needs international trade to deliver the spares, the raw materials and the energy. Without global trade of energy, raw materials and spares, all of the factories, all of the farming equipment, all of the food production and food processing just.. disappears.. Leaving 7.5 billion apex predators loose on the environment, without any real skills to actually handle the situation. SHTF

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      An excellent summary, Van Kent.

      David Korowicz’s ever-useful ‘Trade Off’ paper also contains a nice precis of the problem:

      “If the global economy cannot grow and starts to contract, feedback processes drive further contraction. A contracting economy is incompatible with the credit backing of the globalised economy and the value of all financial assets because it undermines the ability to service debt in real terms. Monetary stability, bank solvency, intermediation and credit are all dependent upon confidence in continuing credit expansion and rising economic activity. That is, the financial and monetary systems that we have come to take for granted were adaptive within a particular set of conditions. When those conditions change, the financial and monetary system keystone-hub may slip out of its historical equilibrium.”

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        In fact, if you have a moment, here is my super quick and easy ‘insta-doomer’ recipe. It’s really all you need – you can leave Tainter and Turchin on the shelf!

        Take one genuinely open mind. These can be surprisingly hard to source and you may have to make do with a wilfully contrarian one.

        Add Gail’s brilliant, three-part treatise – ‘A New Theory of Energy and the Economy’ – to understand how the economy actually works and why it is fated to fail imminently:


        Season with David Korowicz’s ‘Trade Off’ paper to understand why that process of failure will necessarily be rapid, unpleasant and irreversible:


        Et voilà – welcome to the club! For dessert you might want to try growing your own food.

        • Stinging Nettle says:

          Excellent. But try to grow it this way:

          And watch the rest of the series if you have the time. That would be the ultimate Fast Eddy challenge 🙂

          • Artleads says:

            I looked at a couple of the follow-on clips…those nifty devices for sawing wood, etc. Looks like a good sub direction for BAU to grow?

        • Thanks for mentioning some posts I wrote quite a while ago, as well to Dave Korvoitz’ excellent piece. I forgot about some of me earlier posts.

        • xabier says:

          Regarding leaving Tainter on the shelf:

          I was lent a copy by a very wealthy, retired former hedge fund owner – and a 1st class mathematician – and when I returned it observed that it was excellent, thought-provoking and really should be read. They surprised me by saying that they hadn’t ‘got around to reading it’ yet.

          Some years have passed, and still they refuse to read it, despite ample leisure to do so.

          Childish isn’t it? ‘If I shut my eyes, or refuse to lift the curtain, it really, really isn’t there!’

          One wonders how many people, in influential positions, and well able to grasp this matter intellectually, are behaving in a similar way?

          • Justin Time says:

            I have been wondering about this too. I simply assumed that people in influential positions would be well versed in collapse lit. But why put yourself through all that misery when you can simply avert your gaze?

            I don’t believe this is true for the people at the very top though. They know everything there is to know apart from the unknowable.

            • Rainydays says:

              Well if you are a top executive or politician your job is your life in many cases. If those people were OFW-minded they would just quit and enjoy life more!

              The people on top are the optimistic ones… clawing their way up the ranks… self confident, accumulating wealth and power. If you are very optimistic about your life and self centric then you don’t waste time speculating on future doom scenarios.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              We all need to dance while the music continues to play …. it is easier to keep time with the music if you block out any negative thoughts.

      • Artleads says:

        To Van Kent’s point about the need to understand the system if we are to have even a GHOST of a chance…at what? Let me say for the millionth time, nobody can understand the language, terms or ideas of the small number of people schooled in business. If they can’t understand the language, they can’t understand the issues, no matter how much you kick, ridicule or insult them. I didn’t make this up; it’s just reality.

        “If the global economy cannot grow and starts to contract, feedback processes drive further contraction.”

        Clear enough.

        “A contracting economy is incompatible with the credit backing…”

        Credit backing? Say what?, the average person asks. It sounds like a plate of armor you to someone’s back.

        “… of the globalised economy and the value of all financial assets…”

        Globalized. We get that. The whole round ball of a planet.

        “…because it undermines the ability to service debt in real terms.”

        Service the debt? We might have heard of a bull “servicing” a heifer if we grew up on a farm. Servicing debt?!!!!

        “Monetary stability, bank solvency,”

        Solvency brings to mind paint thinner or turpentine.

        ” intermediation and credit…”

        What is that?!

        “When those conditions change, the financial and monetary system keystone-hub may slip out of its historical equilibrium.”

        Quite a mouthful!

        OK, so the business types can keep on talking like this, but only they will grasp its meaning. Just DON’T expect the masses of people to have a clue what you’re talking about. Blame and ridicule if it makes you feel good, but it would be delusional to think you’re even remotely TRYING to get through to them.

        • Van Kent says:


          Sorry, was trying to make it as clear and short cut as I possibly can.

          I’m here to learn, and I get tremendously from your original ideas Artleads. Thank you.

          Is there something we who live our lives in the business and banking world, can make more apparent?

          • Artleads says:

            Thanks Van Kent. It’s amazing how much we all can learn here. Even months ago I wouldn’t have figured on the need to keep the hamster wheel going, significantly the way it’s going now. I can even see the need to keep on damaging the planet. But I haven’t reached the point, if I ever will, where I enjoy (beside a certain gallows humor effect) witnessing it. And I still object to there not being precise measures of supply chains. How the Leonardo Dome works in DETAIL. There is study of some aspects of the system, but none of others. This is part of why so many people can’t get with the subject. The educational system, from stem to stern, is failing us. But that is a structural part of BAU. That still doesn’t suggest “giving up.” If our system is self organizing, I still make a difference If I just sit on the sofa twiddling my thumbs. There’s no not making a difference.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Although we often jest … I don’t imagine anyone enjoys watching the planet ruined by the hamster wheel spinning ever faster….

              As a Nihilist I mostly divorce myself from this – much as I would watching a wave knock over a sand castle on the beach —- I suppose it seems a pity — but what must happen will happen… we have no control over any of this.

        • Harry Gibbs says:

          Splendid spleen-venting, Artleads, but personally I have no intention of proselytising. I no longer share my views on this subject with anyone IRL and reaching a wide audience, even if that were possible, is not desirable as it would only serve to undermine the trust/confidence that holds the system together.

          To precis David Korowicz’s precis:

          We need economic growth so that people and institutions have the confidence to invest and so that debt outstanding can be repaid. Otherwise we’re in a spot of bother.

          • or in even fewer words:

            today’s debt is repaid by tomorrow’s labour

            (and we are all locked into that system–like it or not.)

          • Artleads says:

            Sure. We all do what we feel we should. So you don’t want to wake up people. I see the point. FW has changed me to the extent that I’m fine with the sheep glued to screens all day. At least they’re not up to mischief. My point is that we can’t expect people to understand if we don’t try to explain, or acknowledge their language/educational limitations.

            • bandits101 says:

              Art you can “explain” until you are blue in the face. Facts will not impede their beliefs and understanding. They have their own alternate facts, even if the facts are 100% wrong they still believe them. If the facts are discredited they are temporarily dropped and other “facts” are presented but they all get circulated in and out, up and down, same, same like a broken record. They also talk among themselves for confirmation bias. You can present any number of facts to a religious person but their belief is always much stronger than facts. The same applies to global warming deniers, conspiracy theorists, advocates of nuclear power and advocates of renewables.

    • adonis says:

      riveting summary of how the endgame will play out great words Van Kent

    • Brohan says:

      For another perspective on why the system must perpetually grow, I recommend this individual’s blog if you are not familiar. He certainly changed my perspective. His timing was off, but whose hasn’t been? Here is a good one to start with:


      “The entire history of the USA and world was financed into existence by the system you think you all can control with rules. The system sustains its existence by taking more than it gives…create a rule that attempts to stop the system from doing that and the system will either destroy the rule or die trying.

      All the system can do is inflate to maximum potential and then implode…and if you impose rules on it to stop it from inflating to maximum potential and imploding…that is maximum potential and it implodes at that point.”


      Commercial bank credit has been stagnating and even declining over the past few months… Basically since the Donald took the helm and rates jumped. QE is over. Rates can’t really drop much more. I would say that we are very close to something.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        “The system sustains its existence by taking more than it gives…create a rule that attempts to stop the system from doing that and the system will either destroy the rule or die trying.”

        Attempts at communism exemplify this …. it is an inefficient system …. it is not ‘natural’…. the more efficient system always wins out…. just as the more efficient business beats the less efficient one… just as the superior athlete beats the inferior one… (even if winning means cheating to do so…)

        Interestingly I was reading a long article about how Airbnb went global… there were plenty of other companies doing what they do that had been around for years…. but Airbnb hit the jackpot by spamming on a epic scale … and by stealing ads off of Craigs List and dropping them onto the Airbnb site… essentially ‘cheating’ meant winning.

        Another parallel is the priesthood – or any attempts at chastity — it is not ‘natural’ and inevitably results in some sort of deviancy — mostly latent — but frequently manifested — often in the form of sex with young children….

      • A Real Black Person says:

        “The system must perpetually grow,”
        Gail was right, about human economies being open system.
        Economic growth acknowledges the reality that human economies need to be open systems if they are to sustain themselves.
        Attempts to create closed system economies seem to have failed in the past–Communism failed , partly, because it tried to impose a closed system on what can never be a closed system–human economies.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘The collapse of the economy is causing you all to be shaken awake…but you all are fighting to the death trying to stay asleep to enjoy the dream you are awake.’

      • Thanks! The world hypertiger lives in is the world that at least some actuaries live in. They are constantly making projections, assuming that interest rates of x% can be assumed, many years into the future. I was one of the few who said, “This is crazy.” It takes “stuff” to actually produce ( 1 + x) ^ n amount of goods. How do you actually dig this amount of stuff out of the ground. If the population is going up by p percent per year, you also have the problem of the population rising by (1 + p) ^ n. That needs to stay high is the ratio of goods to people. This limits how much stuff can actually fall. Also, banks are funded based on debt which becomes “assets” to the bank. If the rate falls, the bank tends to fail.

        • Brohan says:

          I am actually also an actuary which is why his message, albeit with certain potential flaws in his style and manner (at least to some I don’t particularly mind), resonates so strongly with me. It has taken a while to fully absorb it, similar to your message here. And I have struggled, with after gaining this understanding, just continuing to blissfully go about doing this work and making these supposedly reasonable assumptions when I can so clearly see they are anything but reasonable. When you compound this with the fact that the measures taken thus far to maintain this system of perpetual exponential growth of debt have seemingly completely undermined any hopes of its long-term sustainability, it is basically almost too much to bear. But I just continue on chugging along and keeping quiet and just don’t talk about any of these concerns as no one really cares or comprehends. But it is slowly chipping away at my soul.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The thing is…

            There is no path to long-term sustainability….. once we got on the technology bandwagon starting with the harnessing of fire …. we started on the treadmill to hell.

            We have run up against limits in the past — for instance pre-coal — we were running out of wood …. if we had not worked out how to create steam from coal I am certain that we would have collapsed back into a very primitive state …

            But we innovated our way out of that corner with fossil fuels —- and we kept the ball rolling …

            Then — disastrously — we rolled out nuclear energy — and the Green Revolution …

            The former has left us with a 4000 spent fuel pond death trap — the latter resulted in an overshoot well into the billions.

            So now there is not even the option of collapsing back into a very primitive state… when BAU goes we will kill everything that moves and eat it… we’ll tear everything edible plant from the ground…. then we will starve …. and just for good measure — we’ll poison the planet with radiation…

            We could be disgusted with our species… but at the end of the day…. this was always going to be the outcome.

            In many ways I feel privileged to have lived in a modern civilization — if we had not harnessed fire our lives would have been little different that that of any other ape…. what an amazing life I have lived — what amazing lives we have all lived.

            So we get shut down a little earlier than expected……

            Let’s have a song

            • doomphd says:

              great song by a great singer.

              what we are trying to do with nuclear fusion reactors is certainly a “can kicking” exercise to replace as much fossil fuel energy as possible with copious cheap electricity from an inexhaustible source. our approach is not by containment, either magnetic fields like ITER or by lasers such as Lawrence Livermore Labs. we believe those approaches are flawed. those physicists have followed the wrong pathway, and should/will be embarrassed when they are proven wrong. they will ultimately have to justify the huge amount of funds that they have spent, but that is their problem. I feel sorry for them.

              the fission route to power production was all that was available from 1945 to present. by the early 1950s we knew how to make fusion bombs. sustaining the reaction is the much harder thing to do. Farnsworth had the right approach and came close in the 1950s, then decades later Brookhaven Labs, LLL and now “us”. my colleague is arranging the facility to do the prototype testing. he only needs $300K to make a reactor to sustain power of about 450W minimum to up to a gigawatt proof-of-concept, but the higher output will likely require more neutron shielding than presently available. this is where it now stands. even if successful, maybe it will be too late to make a difference, but the plan is to go down fighting.

          • richardA says:

            FWIW, the link below has a couple of interesting projections of economic growth and collapse. Where I part company with the conclusion is on the speculation on our ability to achieve useful generation from nuclear fusion.
            “For over 30 years now, the world of finance itself has supposedly, according to official thinking, contributed as much to U.S. productivity and economy, as has manufacturing. Flipping houses —that kind of thing—is now as productive as manufacturing steel, or building things. It’s crazy! Over this period, [Figure 2]—this is Lyndon LaRouche’s Triple Curve, a pedagogical device that he had used to describe the increase in monetary and financial aggregates, at the same time that the physical economic output of the economy was collapsing—we’ve been in this