Raising Interest Rates Can’t End Well!

The Federal Reserve would like to raise target interest rates because of inflation concerns and concern that asset bubbles are forming. Part of their concern seems to arise indirectly from the rise in oil prices, relative to their low level in early 2016.

Figure 1. WSJ figure indicating likely reasons for rate hike.

A finite world does not behave the way most modelers expect. Interest rates that worked perfectly well in the past don’t necessarily work well now. Oil prices that worked perfectly well in the past don’t necessarily work well now. It seems to me that raising interest rates at this time is very ill advised. These are a few of the issues I see:

[1] The economy is now incredibly dependent upon rising debt to prop up its spending. The pattern of total debt to GDP for the United States is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. United States’ debt to GDP ratios based on Federal Reserve Z1 data and BEA GDP data. The red line represents the increase over the latest three years.

There was a huge increase in debt in the period leading up to the 2008 crash. Every year between 2001 and 2008, the increase in debt was greater than four times the increase in GDP. In fact, for some years in that period, more than $8 of debt were added for every dollar of GDP added.

We now seem to be starting a new run up in debt. In 2015, the amount of debt added was $2.5 trillion ($66.1 trillion minus $63.6 trillion), while the amount of GDP added was only $529 million. This indicates a ratio of over 4.7 for the single year of 2016. (Figure 2 shows only three-year averages, because of the volatility of amounts.)

[2] The vast majority of the debt run-up since 1981 (Figure 2) seems to have been enabled by falling interest rates (Figure 3). Given how dependent we are now on large increases in debt to produce GDP, it would seem to be dangerous for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. 

Figure 3. US Federal Bonds 10 year interest rates. Graph produced by FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data).

With falling interest rates, monthly payments can be lower, even if prices of homes and cars rise. Thus, more people can afford homes and cars, and factories are less expensive to build. The whole economy is boosted by increased “demand” (really increased affordability) for high-priced goods, thanks to the lower monthly payments.

Asset prices, such as home prices and farm prices, can rise because the reduced interest rate for debt makes them more affordable to more buyers. Assets that people already own tend to inflate, making them feel richer. In fact, owners of assets such as homes can borrow part of the increased equity, giving them more spendable income for other things. This is part of what happened leading up to the financial crash of 2008.

The interest rates that the Federal Reserve plans to change are of a different type, called “Effective Federal Funds Rate.” These also hit a peak about 1981.

Figure 4. US Federal Funds target interest rate. Graph produced by FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data).

[3] The last time Federal Funds target interest rate was raised, the situation ended very badly.

Figure 4 (above) shows that the last time Federal Reserve target interest rate was raised was in the 2004-2005 period. This was another time when the Federal Reserve was concerned about the run-up in food and energy prices, as I mention in my paper Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis. The higher target interest rate was somewhat slow acting, but it eventually played a role in bursting the debt bubble that had been built up. In 2008, the amount of outstanding mortgage debt and consumer credit started falling, and oil prices fell dramatically.

It is ironic that the US government is again trying to bring down food and energy prices, when they are at a price level similar to the price level when they tried this approach the last time.

Figure 5. Monthly average Brent oil prices, with notes regarding when the Federal Reserve changed its target interest rate.

The Federal Reserve looks at its favorite metrics, PCE inflation and PCE inflation excluding food and energy. From this high-level view, it is likely that they have no real understanding of exactly what energy price problems are causing the strange result. With this high-level view, they do not realize that a big contributor to the rising costs is the increase in oil prices between the January – March 2016 period, when they were under $40 per barrel, and recent prices, which were above $50. (They are now back below $50 per barrel, but this would not be apparent from the metric.)

When this high-level view is used, it is easy to miss how low energy prices are today, relative to the needs of energy producers. Most people who have been following what is happening in the oil industry know that prices are not high, relative to the prices needed for profitability. Even if some US companies claim to be profitable at $50 per barrel, it is clear that, in general, the industry cannot withstand prices as low as they are today. At the current price level, investment is too low.

Part of the problem is that oil exporters need higher prices if they are to obtain adequate tax revenue to fund their programs. For example, Saudi Arabia has found that because of its falling tax revenue, it needs to borrow money to maintain its programs. This is a big change from being able to set aside money in a reserve fund, out of excess tax revenue. This is another place where the shift is toward more debt.

[4] The pattern the Federal Reserve seems to want to follow is the 1981 model, in which temporary high interest rates seemed to force energy prices down for a long time.

If we look at oil prices compared to US wages per capita (dividing total wages by total population), we find that oil “affordability” was at a low point in 1981. We saw previously in Figures 3 and 4 that interest rates were raised to a very high level at that time. The gray stripes in Figures 3 and 4 indicate that a recession followed.

Figure 6. Average barrels of crude oil affordable by US residents, calculated by dividing the average per capita wages (calculated by dividing BEA wages by population), by EIA’s average Brent oil price for each year.

Figure 6 shows that after interest rates fell, affordability rose until 1998. To a significant extent this was the result of falling prices, but it also was the result of a larger share of the population working, and thus contributing to rising wages.

There were many things that allowed this benevolent outcome to happen. One was the fact that we already knew about available oil in the North Sea, Mexico, and Alaska. When this oil came online, oil prices were able to drop back to a much more affordable level. It is very doubtful that shale oil could play a similar role today, especially if it is likely that higher interest rates will drop oil prices from today’s $50 per barrel level.

One thing that helped improve affordability in the post-1981 period was improved gasoline mileage. There were also cutbacks in oil use for home heating and for electricity generation.

Figure 7. Average on-road fuel efficiency by Sivak and Schoettle, “On-Road Fuel Economy of Vehicles in the United States: 1923-2015,” http://www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/

Figure 7 suggests that the earliest changes in fuel economy provided the biggest savings. In fact, overall savings after 1993 are quite modest.

One factor that helped reduce oil consumption both in the 1970s and in the 2008 to 2013 period was high prices. Now that oil prices are lower, we cannot expect as good a result. If oil prices drop back further, there is even less incentive to conserve.

[5] Adjustments made using Quantitative Easing (QE) (a way of producing low interest rates) appear to have had a rapid, significant impact on oil prices.  

In late 2008, after oil prices had crashed, the US Federal Reserve implemented QE. Using QE created very low interest rates, which seem to have had an impact on world oil prices.

Figure 8. Monthly Brent oil prices with dates of US beginning and ending QE.

Clearly, lower interest rates encourage more borrowing, and discontinuing a program that gives very low rates would tend to have the opposite impact. Thus, we would expect the direction of the oil price changes to be similar to those shown on Figure 8.

One hypothesis regarding the rapid impact of QE was that it encouraged borrowing in US dollars, in order to purchase bonds in other currencies with higher interest rates (“carry trade”). When QE ended, the carry trade was cut off, reducing investment in countries with higher interest rates. Instead, there was more interest in investing in the US. These changes led to the US dollar rising relative to many other currencies. Since oil is priced in US dollars, these shifting relativities made oil more expensive in non-US dollar currencies.  Thus, the affordability of oil declined for buyers outside the US. It was this decline in affordability outside the US that brought down oil prices. Figure 9 shows the shift in currency levels when the US discontinued QE in 2014.

Figure 9. US Dollar vs. Major Trade Weighted Currencies. Chart created by FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data).

Increasing Federal Reserve target interest rates would seem to have the effect of further raising how high the US dollar floats compared to other currencies. If this happens, we would expect lower oil prices, and more problems with excessive supply.

[6] The way increased lending seems to move the economy along is by using time shifting to provide a “layer” of future goods and services that can be used as incentives for businesses to invest in making goods and services now.

The problem when making goods of any kind is that resources need to be purchased and workers need to be paid, before the finished product is available for sale.

Figure 10. Image created by author showing how goods and services are created. It also needs a “government services sector,” but it didn’t fit easily on the slide.

As a result, at the time goods and services are produced, there aren’t enough already-created goods and services to pay all of those who have contributed to the effort of making the goods and services. To work around this problem, debt or a product similar to debt is needed to pay some of those contributing to the process of creating future goods and services.

One way of thinking about the situation is that an increase in debt during a time period adds a layer of future goods and services that can be distributed to those contributing to the effort of making the goods and services (Figure 11). This significantly increases the amount of goods and services to be distributed above the level that would be available on a barter basis, based on goods that have already been produced.

Figure 11. Figure by author showing how the “increase in debt” effectively adds another layer of goods and services that can be distributed. (As with Figure 10, this chart should include a category for government services as well.)

[7] The spending ability of US citizens has been lagging behind, even with the huge amount of debt being added to the economy. If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, it will tend to make the situation worse.

The biggest expenditure for most households is housing costs, either for an apartment or a new home. As with oil, we can compare affordability by comparing prices to per capita wages (total US wages/total population). On Figure 12, one amount shown is the median rent for unfurnished apartments in the US, based on US Census Bureau data; the other is The People History’s estimate of “new home” prices over the years. In general, affordability has been falling. Figure 12 shows that the fall in affordability of apartment rent is a relatively recent phenomenon. The fall in affordability of home prices is a long-term phenomenon, no doubt enabled by falling interest rates since 1981.

Figure 12. Comparison of new home prices from The People History and median non-subsidized rental asking prices based on US Census bureau data. These are divided by (total US wages/ US population) from the US BEA. The indexes are different for home and apartments, chosen so that two would show separately on the chart. If amounts shown are falling over time, housing is becoming less affordable.

Another product whose affordability is of interest is electricity. Electricity is an energy product whose affordability is important, because it is used in residential, commercial, and industrial locations. The affordability of electricity tends to be less volatile in pricing than oil, whose affordability was shown in Figure 6. Because the pricing of electricity is more stable, I have shown the affordability of electricity at three different spending levels:

  • Per Capita Wages – Total US wages divided by total US population.
  • Per Capita DPI – Total Disposable Personal Income (DPI) divided by total US population. Disposable Personal Income includes government transfer payments (such as Social Security and unemployment payments), in addition to wages. It also includes “proprietors’ income,”which is a relatively smaller amount.
  • Per capita DPI+Debt – Total Disposable Personal Income, plus the increase in Household Debt during the year, divided by population.

Figure 13. Quantity of electricity that an average worker could afford to buy, using three different definitions of income. (Average wages are based on BEA total salaries and wages, divided by BEA total population, and Disposable Personal Income is defined similarly, using BEA data. DPI plus debt includes the change in Household Debt, from the Federal Reserve’s Z1 report, in addition to DPI in the numerator.)

Based on Figure 13, electricity was becoming more affordable until 2001 on a wages-only basis. Since then, its cost has been relatively flat.

On a DPI basis, electricity was considerably more affordable until 2004, after which it declined, and then rose again.

On a DPI + Debt basis, there was a much bigger jump in affordability. This big increase in debt corresponds to the housing bubble of the early to mid 2000s. Interest rates were lower and underwriting standards lessened, so that almost anyone could buy a home. This allowed a run-up in home prices. Homeowners could borrow this equity and use it for whatever purpose they chose–for example, fixing up their home, buying a new car, or going on a vacation. The big increase in DPI+Debt, relative to DPI, gives an indication of the extent to which the housing-related debt bubble in the early 2000s affected spendable income.

Which of these scenarios is really correct? It depends on the segment of the economy a person is looking at. For people of modest income, in other words, those who rent apartments, the wage-only scenario is probably the most representative. For people who have high incomes and own a home, the DPI plus Debt scenario is probably more representative.

[8] All income seems to ultimately derive in part from rising debt, and in part from energy consumption. If interest rates are too high, the required interest payment exceeds the benefit of time shifting.

We can see from Figure 13 that debt is very helpful in producing income for workers. Some of this comes from the government transfer payments, funded by debt. Some of this comes from the wages paid by businesses, funded in part by shares of stock, which are debt-like in nature. The currency with which workers are paid is, in fact, debt. A person can see the connection, by thinking of currency as being similar to “gift cards,” issued by a business. The business would need to record the value of these gift cards as a liability on its balance sheet.

The underlying problem giving rise to the need for debt is “complexity,” and the need to obtain the services of many trained people and of many types of tools, before goods and services can actually be created. All of this builds extra expense and delays into the system, in the manner described in Figures 10 and 11. Somehow, there must be interest payments to compensate for the time shifting that is necessary: the whole string of events that must lead up to producing the products that are needed. Tools must be made far in advance of when they are needed. In fact, there is a whole string of “tools to make tools” that takes place. Factory buildings need to be built, and roads need to be built. Workers must be trained. In order for the people and businesses involved in these processes to be compensated for their effort, and induced to delay their own consumption of goods and services, there need to be interest payments made for the time-delay involved.

Debt (together with shares of stock, which are debt-like) cannot operate the economy alone. Energy products are also needed to provide the physical transformations required. These include heat and transportation, and electricity to operate devices that use electricity. Of course, human workers are needed as well. The major pieces of the system, and the way they operate together, are shown in Figures 10 and 11.

It would appear that an economy can start “from scratch,” using only debt, plus available resources (including energy resources, such as biomass for burning), and some sort of government (perhaps a self-declared king). If the king sees a productive project that might be undertaken–perhaps building a bridge, or cutting down more trees for farmland–the king can impose a tax on the citizens, and use the tax to hire a group of laborers to use the available resources. Once the tax is imposed, it is a debt of the citizens. It can be used to pay the laborers who do the work.

The debt-based system seems to build upon itself. As more wages are available, these wages allow workers to take out loans, and allow businesses to create new goods and services that can be purchased using these loans. These loans are promises that can be exchanged for future goods and services. Since energy is used in creating all goods and services, these loans are more or less guarantees that the economy, and its use of energy products, will continue in the future.

The thing that connects debt to the rest of the system is the interest payments required for time shifting. When the system is relatively efficient, the return on investment is high, so interest payments can be high. As diminishing returns set in, interest rates need to be lower. We are now encountering diminishing returns in many areas: extracting fossil fuels, extracting minerals, producing enough fresh water for a rising population, creating an adequate supply of food from a fixed amount of arable land, creating new antibiotics as bacteria become drug resistant, and the cost of finding new drugs to treat diseases that affect an ever-smaller share of the population.

[9] It is relatively easy to make economic growth occur when energy products are becoming more affordable, relative to spendable income. When energy products are becoming less affordable, it becomes virtually impossible for economic growth to occur.

We know that historically, the cost of energy products has tended to fall over time. This has been described in more than one academic paper.

Figure 14. Figure by Carey King from “Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics Part 3: Macroeconomic Historical and Future Perspectives,” published in Energies in Nov. 2015.

A United Nation’s report also shows the same pattern (the bottom two categories are energy related):

The only way that energy costs can fall relative to GDP, at the same time that energy use is rising, is if energy products are becoming less expensive over time, compared to the incomes of the citizens. This falling price level allows more energy products to be purchased. As energy prices drop, it is possible for the economy to afford the increasing quantity of energy products required to produce even more goods and services.

There are many ways that energy products can become less expensive. For example, the mix can shift among different energy products, shifting to the less expensive products. Or new techniques can be found that make extraction less expensive. Finding more efficient ways to make use of energy products, such as the increasing miles per gallon shown in Figure 7, also contributes to the falling relative cost to workers. Of course, “falling EROEI” tends to work in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, we are now running out of ways to truly make energy use cheaper over time. The ways we seem to be down to now are (a) paying energy companies less than their cost of extraction, and (b) reducing interest rates to practically zero.

We can see from Figure 6 that oil was becoming more affordable relative to wages between 1981 and 1998. Falling interest rates and rising debt seemed to play a role in this, as well as success in drilling for oil in places such as the North Sea, Mexico and Alaska. Since then, the only way that oil affordability could rise was by oil prices falling below the cost of extraction, starting in mid 2014.

The situation for electricity is shown in Figure 13. Electricity was becoming more affordable on a “wages-only” basis, until 2000. Since then it has plateaued. The economic push that would have come from falling electricity prices must come from elsewhere–presumably from adding more debt.

Affordability of electricity on a “DPI plus debt” basis rose considerably more, with a peak in 2004. Thus, adding more debt, in the form of transfer payments and rising debt for homes and vehicles, added considerable spendable income. But it has not been possible to regain the affordability of the 2004 period in recent years.

We are now reaching limits because we no longer are truly seeing a reduction in energy costs. Instead, we are seeing very low interest rates and oil prices lower than the cost of production. These seem to be signs that we now are reaching limits. Energy prices really need to drop for the economy to grow; the economy will make them drop, whether or not producers can profitably extract oil at the low cost that is affordable by the citizens.

[10] China seems to be cutting back on growth in debt now, at the same time the US is talking about increasing interest rates. Energy products, especially oil, are sold to a world market. If China cuts back on debt at the same time as the US raises interest rates, energy prices could drop dramatically. 

Figure 16. UBS Total Credit Impulse. The Credit Impulse is the “Change in the Change” in debt formation.

UBS calculates a global “credit impulse,” showing the extent to which there is a trend toward increasing use of debt. According to their calculations, since 2014, it is China that has been keeping the Global Credit Impulse up. If China is cutting back, and the US is cutting back as well, the situation starts looking like the 2008-2009 period, except starting from greater problems with diminishing returns.

Observations and Conclusions

The economy looks to me like a type of Ponzi Scheme. It depends on both rising energy consumption and rising debt. Judging from the problems we are having now, it seems to be reaching its limit in the near term. Raising interest rates will tend to push it even further toward its limit, or over the limit.

Debt is used to pay participants in the economy using a promise for future goods and services. This allows the economy to appear to distribute more goods and services than are actually available. In a way, adding debt is like being able to manufacture future energy supplies that can be used to pay those who participate in making the goods and services we produce today. When energy products are high-cost to produce, and delayed in timing (such as wind and solar PV), the need for debt especially rises.

Part of our problem today is the extent of specialization of those analyzing our current problems with energy and the economy. This means that virtually no one understands the full problem. Bankers seem to think that debt, and interest rates on debt, can solve all problems. Energy analysts think that energy resources in the ground are all-important. They both create incorrect analyses of the overall problem. Rising debt is needed, if energy products that have been created are to be absorbed by the world economy. The energy gluts we are seeing are signs of inadequate wage growth. A major function of growing debt is to add wages. Unwinding debt leads to the kinds of problems that we encountered in 2008.

It is tempting for world financial leaders to think that they can find a solution to today’s problems by using higher target interest rates to slightly scale back economic growth. I don’t think that this is really a good option. The world economy is operating at too close to “stall speed.” The financial system is too fragile. If any solution can be expected to work, it would seem to need to be in the direction of re-starting QE. Even if it produces asset bubbles, it may keep the world economy operating for a bit longer.

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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2,229 Responses to Raising Interest Rates Can’t End Well!

  1. Pingback: Transitioning To Resilient Sustainability | Citizens for Sustainability

  2. Fast Eddy says:

    InAlaska: I think they were referring to you…

    If you’re among the growing minority of investors still under the impression that ‘everything if awesome’ in the auto industry simply because new car sales volumes continue to hover around all time highs, while turning a blind eye to soaring incentive spending and that pesky little debt bubble, then we may need your help with how we should be interpreting the following subprime auto loan delinquency stats from Morgan Stanley.


  3. Fast Eddy says:

    How Sheldon Adelson’s Bet on Trump Made Him 2016 Election’s Biggest Winner


    Sheldon Adelson backs Trump trip to Israel after $100m pledge, sources say

    The multibillionaire and Republican Jewish Coalition are arranging visit before July convention, as Adelson also plans to donate millions to Super Pacs for GOP congressional campaigns, conservative sources told the Guardian


    Kissy kissy….


  4. jeremy890 says:

    When we’ve lost the right to grow our own food, we’ve truly become subjects of the state. Lately it seems we’ve been hearing of more and more people being forced to dismantle their vegetable gardens in order to appease city ordinances or homeowner’s association rules. These same policies don’t ban things like pesticides, Christmas lights, or tacky lawn art—just edible landscaping. The most recent case comes to us from Florida, where a couple was forced to dig up a 17-year old organic garden.

    Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll have gardened in their front yard for 17 years. Their back yard doesn’t receive enough sunlight. But recently, their community in Miami Shores decided to make such front yard gardens off-limits. That new rule was enacted in May and the couple had until August to remove their vegetables or face fines. Other towns threaten with jail time for growing produce in the front yard.

    While Real Farmacy reports the couple dug up the garden after appearing twice in front of the Code Enforcement Board and facing $50 each day the garden remained, there are also reports that they have filed a lawsuit targeted at overturning the zoning regulation that made their garden a battleground.

    With the help of the Institute of Justice’s National Food Freedom Initiative, the couple is arguing that the ordinance violates the states Constitution by stopping them from exercising their right to “acquire, possess, and protect” their property.

    “The right to grow and harvest your own food on your very own property is certainly part of that right to acquire, possess, and protect property,” said Ari Bargill, attorney for the Institute.
    Their prospects don’t look good, however, in light of a similar legal battle in which Florida’s state courts upheld a zoning regulation in Coral Gables that banned homeowners from parking pickups in their driveways, an asinine law that was eventually overturned.

  5. Artleads says:

    Failing States, Collapsing Systems: Biophysical Triggers

    “(The Book) will contain a large number of graphical illustrations concerning oil production data, population issues, the food price index, economic growth and debt, and other related issues to demonstrate the interconnections and correlations across key sectors.”


    • To get into my simpler mentality: if “green tech” will save us, why is it that:
      (A) nowhere has an AC power grid yet been run on IRE (intermittent renewable energy — wind, solar, tides, etc.)
      (B) nowhere has AP (artificial photosynthesis — using sunlight to make fuels) been commercialized?
      If such things don’t happen, even WITH the fossil-fuel-based infrastructure in place, how could either of them function WITHOUT it?
      We seem to be experiencing “peak oil” about now (http://crudeoilpeak.info/latest-graphs), with the recent sag-off in oil prices (http://oil-price.net/) — is this situation sustainable?

      • Tim Groves says:

        Very good points.And simplicity is a virtue as long as we don’t overdo it.

        I don’t see how the current situation can be sustainable in the medium to long term.

        But it’s OK. For everything there is a time and a season.

        So gather ye rosebuds while ye may.


        Because all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.


      • Greg Machala says:

        “If such things (renewable energy) don’t happen, even WITH the fossil-fuel-based infrastructure in place, how could either of them function WITHOUT it?” – It really is that simple, RE won’t work! It is just a diversion.

  6. timl2k11 says:

    Well, I just got out of the hospital. I think I had a near-term-collapse anxiety attack. Holy hell does the “system” try to indoctrinate in every conceivable way. Even if it means driving you insane. But I will not submit. I had an epiphany, and everything is going to be just fine. (I’m not suggesting there won’t be a near instant collapse though, guess I came to terms with my own mortality).
    FE, you and I ought to have a drink before SHTF.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      When I look at the commercial property market…. retail sales… auto sales… corporate earnings… I do feel twinges of anxiety…. and I have woken up in the middle of the night a few times of late…

      A lot of the data is 2007ish…

      I don’t feel the need to Abilify … but the pressure is there…

      Feels a bit like uni exams when I’d leave everything till the day before then marathon memorize…. and try to guess which sections of the term were likely to be on the exam because there was no way in hell I could digest everything in such a short time period.

      I generally thrive under pressure …. but this is different — there is nothing that can be done about it…

      This is the best I can do


    • Froggman says:

      Take care of yourself. I’ve been battling with anxiety for years, including the occasional attack. I’ve found lots of little tricks to manage it so that it largely doesn’t interfere with my life. But if you let it get out of hand its easy to imagine ending up in a hospital and/or medicated. People who haven’t experienced it often don’t realize just how real/physical it is- definitely not just “in one’s head.”

      If you find yourself interested I’m happy to discuss what works (and what doesn’t) for me.

      • timl2k11 says:

        Sure. It’s good to know what works/doesn’t work.

        • Froggman says:

          Here’s my short list:

          Vigorous exercise (pick a goal like running a half marathon, and train for it)

          Yoga once a week

          Glycine (an amino acid), 3 grams sublingual relieves acute anxiety symptoms

          Kratom (leaf of a tropical plant), for long-lasting anxiety relief along with focused energy like a great cup of coffee. Research extensively before using, as dependency is a real possibility. For me no more than 2-3x per week, at 2-3 grams each time is perfect. Goes great with exercise.

          Phenibut (a GABA antagonist), another long-lasting anxiolytic with a mood lift. Good for Sundays if you’re facing Monday with dread

          Propranolol (prescription beta blocker) shuts down the body’s physical reaction to anxiety without any impact on mental function. Completely resolves things like racing heart, difficulty breathing, tight chest, etc.

          Best of luck!

          • timl2k11 says:

            Thanks! I have heard of Kratom, not sure if it’s legal here. I was put on Propanolol once, but the odd sensation it gave me led to a panic attack. But anything that can wean me off my dependence on psychiatrists is good.

      • ejhr2015 says:

        Cold water swimming apparently does a great job with depression and anxiety. The buzz of endorphins is why people go in for the iceberg conditions. I don’t know how cold the water has to be but 12 degrees is enough I think. A drug free solution.

    • Van Kent says:


      Just some thoughts.

      You are here NOW. There is no other time, future, or past, only NOW. This very second. This breath. This instant, NOW.

      YOU does not exist. Its an physical being, but an intellectual, emotional interpretation of an simulation of you. Tomorrow THAT you, doesn’t exist anymore. THAT you, did not exist, will not exist, shall not exist. It was an illusion all along. Tomorrow, you, have changed. Just stick along and enjoy the ride.

      You are free. There is no need to worry about anything. You are absolutely free. Free of the future. Free of the past. Free of YOU. To do as you very well please. Free to live in the NOW. In the long run, we are all dead anyhow.

      Breathe. Breathe again. And again.

      What is your plan for the next 15min ? Not tomorrow, not a year from now. Just the next 15min?

      Just some thoughts.. hope you’re feeling better..

      There has been several instances in my life, when I was under severe stress. I realized in those moments the worst enemy of actually coping and performing under the severe stress, was me. So I’ve developed some techniques for myself to be able to function at peak performance no matter what happens. I’ve often found out, its not about being smart, or being strong, competetive, a winner, or anything like that. The only thing of selective importance, peak performance, is to just keep functioning. That will do nicely. Just do the next 15min, nothing else. A time for a deeper contemplation comes later.

      • timl2k11 says:

        ” I realized in those moments the worst enemy of actually coping and performing under the severe stress, was me.”

        I think I have come to this realization to. I appreciate your post a lot, and agree with pretty much all of it, it’s part of the “epiphany” I had, though still a work in progress (and always will be). Thanks.

      • Good points! The only time we really have is now!

      • Artleads says:

        Such wise words. Thanks!

  7. unravel says:

    Fast Eddy – you may have seen this – about a couple living a few years as hunters gatherers in NZ.. A pretty good effort at the fast eddy challenge .. especially going from vegan to meat eating when things got tougher. However theres a few things quite clear from this
    – it took them some time to adjust
    – they need to go into town for their vege fix
    – they moved from bows and arrow to guns … requiring ammo etc
    – they use quite a lot of area to make it work (they keep on the move)

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I was listening to radio pravda (radio NZ) this morning working in the garden and I heard an interview with the woman in the story…

      You make some good points – very difficult to go full HG… I notice the gun… the groceries.. the spices… the back pack… knife…vitamins… ($5000 per year…) etc….

      The best attempt yet at the FE Challenge… but still… a long way from what life will be like post BAU….

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I might add that I am reserving a spot for Miriam in the harem.

      • jeremy890 says:

        We maintain,” declare Helen and Scott in the introduction to “Living the Good Life,” “that a couple of any age from twenty to fifty, with a minimum of health, intelligence and capital, can adapt themselves to country living, learn its crafts, overcome its difficulties and build a life pattern rich in
        simple values and productive of personal and social good

        In Vermont the Nearings lived without electricity, indoor plumbing, or any source of heat beyond hand-split firewood. They ate most of their food raw out of wooden bowls with chopsticks. They foreswore alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. They divided their days into three units: four hours for “bread labor;” four hours for music, writing, and other avocations; and four hours for social interaction. They avoided cash as much as possible. What money they did handle came as a result of a maple sugaring operation they used to create specialty candy and syrup. Scott’s exacting practices amazed even Helen. “I bet you fold your toilet paper neat and square,” she once chided him. He acknowledged that he did
        Living the Good Life” draws directly from these experiences, constantly circling back upon the themes of self-sustainability, feasibility, and the need to dissociate “as much as possible, from . . . the plunder of the planet; the slavery of man and beast; the slaughter of men in war, and of animals for food.” The book’s subjects range from detailed explanation of how to build a stone house to the importance of eating “whole foods” in synch with the seasons, from improving soil with natural fertilizers to improving human nature through hard work
        But others understood. As Rebecca Gould (an early “resident steward” at Forest Farm after Scott and Helen had died) writes in her forthcoming cultural history of homesteading, that “the Nearings’ decision to make homesteading `look easy’ was, in part, an expression of their evangelical enthusiasm for the ways of life they had chosen.” These folks helped Helen care for Scott after he announced, at the age of 100, “I think I won’t eat any more.” And after Helen died in a car crash in 1995 they helped transform the Harborside farm into a nonprofit working homestead called the Good Life Center.

        (They also found the groupie-like enthusiasm of many pilgrims to be downright silly at times. After Scott died and Helen began spending winters with a sister near West Palm Beach, Eliot Coleman recalls, some neighbors suggested posting a sign on Cape Rosier Road: “Scott’s dead. Helen’s in Florida. Get a life!”)

        Scott and Helen crushed the Fact Eddy Challenge!

        • Kurt says:

          Uh oh, here we go again. 3…2…1… Helloooooo FE!!!

        • Artleads says:

          “They divided their days into three units: four hours for “bread labor;” four hours for music, writing, and other avocations; and four hours for social interaction.”

          Maybe something I do could pass for social interaction. But I do find myself somewhat preoccupied with this range of activities, only not knowing how to plan and manage them. It’s instructive to see how the Nearings divided them up so neatly and systematically.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Do you use any power tools (rototiller, etc.) in your farming or gardening? And did you prepare your soil extensively?

          The only “power tool” we have ever used is a pickup truck. Our garden was plowed once the first year we came to :Maine, some 25 years ago, and never since (how convenient — didn’t even have to clear the land!)

          Do you use electricity for any purpose (such as refrigeration, heating, etc.) and, if so, from what source(s)?

          We didn’t have electricity at all in Vermont. It is available in Harborside and we use it chiefly for lighting and to run a freezer and a bathroom heater. Otherwise we heat and cook with wood. (keep in mind a lot of people did not have electricity during the period they lived in Vermont – he was born in 1883 for F789 sake!)


          I’d like to ask if they used any shovels – rakes – or other tools that were made in factories in China…. but they are dead.

          Did they make the pick up truck out of rocks and mud? Where does the gas come from? And the spare parts? What about tranny oil?

          What is self sustainability?

          A system is self-sustaining (or self-sufficient) if it can maintain itself by independent effort. The system self-sustainability is: the degree at which the system can sustain itself without external support.

          The Nearings are million miles from being self – sustainable …. an 18th century farmer would look at these clowns as we would Jamie Dimon — living in the lap of luxury….

          The Nearings are a Cult.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The Nearings developed slipform stone masonry based on the work of New York architect Ernest Flagg (1857-1947). Traditional, cut and laid stonework was too expensive for the common man, so Flagg devised a new method in which any person of limited skills and experience could build a permanent and beautiful house of stone. Rather than doing freehand stonework with a trowel and a level, Flagg erected a vertical framework as tall as the wall, then inserted 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 planks as forms to guide the stonework.

            Stones were placed with a good face against the formwork, and the space behind them was filled with concrete, making a hybrid wall of stone and concrete.


            Environmental impact of concrete. … A major component of concrete is cement, which has its own environmental and social impacts and contributes largely to those of concrete. The cement industry is one of the primary producers of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_concrete

            Sustainable housing:


            • jeremy890 says:

              In Vermont the Nearings lived without electricity, indoor plumbing, or any source of heat beyond hand-split firewood. They ate most of their food raw out of wooden bowls with chopsticks. They foreswore alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. They divided their days into three units: four hours for “bread labor;” four hours for music, writing, and other avocations; and four hours for social interaction. They avoided cash as much as possible.

              You are just barking and huffing, and can’t admit you are wrong.
              Get a life.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              In the 1930s and 1940s, Nearing and Helen Knothe lived together in Winhall in rural Vermont, where they had purchased a rather large forest tract for $2200 and a moderate-sized farm for $2500. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Nearing

              Turning on the Lights: Electricity Comes to Rural Vermont 1943


              They lived without electricity in the 1930’s in rural Vermont — but then so did everyone else.

            • jeremy890 says:

              Yes, they lived without electricity in Vermont the whole time 20 YEARS!
              Pack it in Eddy, they exceeded the Fast Eddy Challenge, best you read their books.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Not exactly…. they had a pick up truck — petrol — cement — and so on…

              The Fast Eddy Challenge is more than just not using electricity…

              It involves completely unplugging from BAU….

              Let’s remember the reason for the FE Challenge — it’s to give Doomsday Preppers an idea of what they are facing when collapse hits (but it is Collapse Lite — nobody will kill or rape them or steal their food during the Challenge….)

            • jeremy890 says:

              But Eddy, unlike yourself, they stayed at their post here in America to wade out the storm. There was and is a functioning Government with demands, such as, property taxes that had to be paid, hence money, business and equipment.
              For all practical purposes, they lived up to your Challenge 100%. So, clam up and accept you are wrong, again.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Ah no.

              My challenge says – no petro – no pick up truck – no BAU tools – no cement – no food that you did not grow or kill — no medicine or doctors — and ESPECIALLY – no flying on jet planes to Florida in the winter…

              Basically they’d need to live like these fellas:


              I ask the question again:

              Do you think that farming caused the population explosion to 7.5 billion?



            • Fast Eddy says:

              What storm did they wait out?

              Oh right – the one where as electricity and flights were broadly available — and they quickly adapted to make good use of all of these highly sustainable services.

              Well Done!

              And if I had a private jet and I said hey Scott – Helen… I like you guys — and I don’t need the jet this week — so if you would like a free lift down to Florida — it’s on me….

              How much you wanna bet they’d pack their bags in 20 minutes…

        • four hours of social interaction sounds good to me

        • I’m afraid you likely won’t make inroads there with the Nearings.

          For years people here occasionally provided good info on notill and other real proven techniques of land/husbandry management and their results. Basically, if there is a bit of precipitation/moisture you can develop pretty diverse agriculture almost everywhere on this planet. That’s not the problem.

          The problem is the twisted (genes?) path dependency of human societies.
          As long the urge to control, steal from others, yoke others into submission is present, nothing changes, nothing can be achieved and scaled up from working individual conditions in the long term for the larger system. There have been crude and stupid attempts to eradicate this phenomenon like killing all intellectuals/bourgeois/foreigners before, but that’s apparently not the workable way. Most likely some sort of voluntary critical mass adoption is necessary first and from that point vigilantly keep the “destructive virus” under control, i.e. being immediately socially ostracized if you try it again. Not sure how this could be implemented, unless some massive die-off first or other similar events bulldozing the dominant paradigm, so there is a cleared space provided for this development. However, I remain skeptical, although the understanding to these processes is available, the human-ape as an collective interactive body seems unable to upgrade.

        • xabier says:

          Really, the Nearings were like the Greek philosophers, each creating their form of the Good Life – the Cynics, the Stoics and Epicureans, etc.

          But the Good Life is always embedded to some degree in the whole system.

          Diogenes tested the limits in his barrel, carrying out all physical functions in public and leading as bare a life as possible (interesting that he was the son of a banker and speculator).

          However, when Diogenes begged his food, it came from the system, no doubt grown, harvested and transported by a slave.

          It’s salutory to realise that moral purity is simply impossible.

  8. jerry says:

    Lets interject a little good news here shall we.

    Divine intervention? Yeah, by way of what or who rather children which is of course just so typical of Christ. Watch these videos and reflect a little about what really matters.


  9. JT Roberts says:

    The events of the 1590s had suddenly brought home to more thoughtful Castilians the harsh truth about their native land – its poverty in the midst of riches, its power that had shown itself impotent… For this was not only a time of crisis, but a time also of the awareness of crisis – of a bitter realization that things had gone wrong. It was under the influence of the arbitristas that early seventeenth-century Castile surrendered itself to an orgy of national introspection, desperately attempting to discover at what point reality had been exchanged for illusion….

    The arbitristas proposed that Government expenditure should be slashed…

    Most of the arbitristas recommended the reduction of schools and convents and the clearing of the Court as the solution to the problem. Yet this was really to mistake the symptoms for the cause. MartínGonzález de Cellorigo was almost alone in appreciating that the fundamental problem lay not so much in heavy spending by Crown and upper classes – since this spending itself created a valuable demand for goods and services – as in the disproportion between expenditure and investment. ‘Money is not true wealth,’ he wrote, and his concern was to increase the national wealth by increasing the nation’s productive capacity rather than its stock of precious metals. This could only be achieved by investing more money in agricultural and industrial development. At present, surplus wealth was being unproductively invested – ‘dissipated on thin air – on papers, contracts, censos, and letters of exchange, on cash, and silver, and gold – instead of being expended on things that yield profits and attract riches from outside to augment the riches within. And thus there is no money, gold, or silver in Spain because there is so much; and it is not rich, because of all its riches….’

    The Castile of González de Cellorigo was…a society in which both money and labour were misapplied; an unbalanced, top-heavy society, in which, according to González, there were thirty parasites for every one man who did an honestday’s work; a society with a false sense of values, which mistook the shadow for substance, and substance for the shadow.

    J.H. Elliott, Imperial Spain: 1469-1716

  10. JT Roberts says:

    It important to dispel the myth that money is the economy. Economic prosperity is built on personal productivity not wealth transfers. The world in general is completely deceived into believing that wealth is the accumulation of money. This is not the case. Wealth is the accumulation of the means of production. Wall Street understands this but people do not. The circulation of currency has no value in itself. As a matter of fact the higher the number of exchanges the greater the taxation. So the net value shrinks without a means of production creating surplus value.

    16th century Spain collapsed with hordes of gold in their possession. What they failed to realize is the quest for gold was the reason for their success. It drove the economic system forward through productivity. As the gold accumulated the pace of acquisition diminished and the economy failed.

    In the end economy is nothing more or less than the movement of energy. Richardo knew that. The Physiocrates knew that. Marx knew that. Yellen doesn’t know that. Central banks think they control economy they do not. Money was the product of economic activity not the cause of it.

    Is everyone insane?

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      “Wealth is the accumulation of the means of production.”

      So much for my vintage baseball card PSA graded collection.

    • Van Kent says:

      “Is everyone insane?”

      I’ll give you the Norman Pagett answer to that question.

      – Yes

    • timl2k11 says:

      “Is everyone insane?”
      Me: (looks around at the world) Yep!
      It’s all about indoctrination.
      I’ll repeat my favorite quote:
      “For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of ‘brainwashing under freedom’ to which we are subjected and which all too often we serve as willing or unwitting instruments.”
      – Noam Chomsky

      • wealth is a measure of energy availability, and subsequently the means by which that energy is used to produce and sell ‘stuff’.

        hence Rockefeller became the most wealthy man in modern history, while Ford, Carnegie et al used what he produced to build and sell their own products and also became very rich, the line is unbroken between them and us.

        Rockefeller and others like him came to “own” what was effectively ‘global’ capital, and thus drove the capitalist system into the mess we are in today—the incessant drive towards getting hold of as much fuel as possible and burning it as fast as possible, convinced it will go on forever.

    • Not sure this is historically accurate, since large part of the demise of Spain was imperial overreach, simultaneously waging many wars around the globe and supporting various proxy regimes in Europe, sometimes in pretty far away places etc. This was enormous drain on the treasury.

      If we tweak the argument more towards misallocation, bad management (not investing in long term productivity or poorly performing on that goal) and bad luck, incl. not viable geo strategic position to influence wider European politics from their southern corner, this would be more realistic overview.

      • If Spain did what the British did to the Boers, it would have not declined.

        • much of the spanish problem was because their economy was gold based.

          therefore when they started looting the incas etc they deluded themselves that more gold would increase wealth–it didn’t it, destabilised the existing ‘economy’ by devaluing gold itself

        • Fast Eddy says:

          This a really good documentary on the Boer War… when faced with losing the Brits tore a page out of the Irish handbook and burned the Boer farms and relocating their families to concentration camps… resulting in starvation….

          ‘Whatever it takes’…. is not a new concept

      • xabier says:

        By the 17th century in Spain the economy produced almost nothing beyond subsistence agriculture, added no value, and it was socially preferable not to do any useful work: a society of peasants, parasitic monks, nuns and priests, (think of the mullahs in Iran today), soldiers, lawyers and nobles, servants, merchants and whores.

        But almost no artisans and engineers – the best were imported from abroad, and basic everyday items also came from further north.

        The Church also crushed all scientific thought and experiment, mathematics, physics, natural philosophy, in favour of an imbecilic theology which buttressed the rule of the parasitic clergy.

        The privilege of world empire made this ridiculous state of affairs last far longer than it otherwise should have.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    These will be some of the first to die when BAU goes down…

    She has four staff for her London home, including a live-in housekeeper, gets chauffeured everywhere (neither she nor Sol can drive), and, of course, she has a wardrobe to die for.


    • Apparently you have never served the rich.I have.

      These staff will be loyal to her since they know their survival depends upon her. They will whisk her and her rich hubby, lead them to the private airport, and hopefully one or two will make it into their private airplane to escape.

      Upper class people often awe lower class people with their ‘signs’. That’s how Tom Buchanan managed the Wilson guy to kill Gatsby, and also how the Duke of Mantova in Rigoletto managed to escape death by impressing his assassin.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘These staff will be loyal to her since they know their survival depends upon her’

        When BAU collapses the rich will no longer be rich. They will have nothing to offer to their servants and minions. And the fake loyalty will turn to disdain when the master cannot pay them and they cannot buy food because they have no money.

        Is it Empire of the Sun where the war hits… and the British kid is treated rather badly when the servants realize the master is no longer the master?

        A white face will be a bad thing in a lot of places around the world post BAU … we have treated the locals rather badly over the years… and there will be many who see the collapse as an opportunity for payback….

        It’s one reason I left Bali — without a doubt there are those who resent the foreign presence… 300 years under the brutal colonial yoke are not forgotten…

        • I am sure the boy in the Empire of the Sun would have managed to punish his former servants after the japanese was defeated.

          The English, and especially the Australians,, did not forgive the Korean POW guards who tormented them during World War 2 .

          For one who hates a roundeye, there is another, usually a woman, who is awed by them.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Oh yes … most definitely … living as a round eye in Asia gives one a glimpse into the world of what it is like to be Brad Pitt…. ‘Being Brad Pitt’

            • Yorchichan says:

              When I spent a month in Fukuoka, Japan in 1989 I could walk around all day and never see another white face. I used to dread walking past a school because I knew once the cry of “gaijin” went up all the kids would run over to the fence to get a closer look. In a bar a girl said meeting me was the most exciting day of her life. Closest I ever came to feeling like a movie star!

              Does this still happen, Tim?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Roppongi: Gas Panic Bar …. back in the day….

    • Greg Machala says:

      Dumber than yeast!

  12. /var/folders/2z/td60lz0r8xl8b_0052grqncr0000gq/T/com.apple.mail/com.apple.mail.drag/Unknown-1000.jpeg

    a perfect cartoon for OF Worldsters

    Caption reads—All we talk about these days is plagues

  13. Fast Eddy says:

    Manhattan landlords, who have seen retail occupancy plummet after boosting rents to record levels, are trying to avoid big price cuts. Instead, they’re writing checks for things like interior redesigns and moving expenses to keep storefronts from going empty.

    Tenant-improvement allowances haven’t been typical in the Manhattan retail market. But now the concessions, which can pay for anything from lighting and displays to a complete overhaul, are becoming a key component in some new leases, particularly for large, flagship stores in high-profile areas, such as Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, according to Steve Soutendijk, an executive director at brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

    “We’re seeing tenant-improvement and concession packages that retail landlords never, ever contemplated before,” he said.


  14. Artleads says:

    I try to figure out how getting money to change hands can be done without direct, major application of energy to supply rotary motion. If money is changing hands apace, and people can buy things from each other, that ought to set society up to be more resilient than if the opposite were the case. Of course energy–fossil energy, I suspect–underlies the ability to have and maintain this lively economic order; it just isn’t the face of it, and dependency on it might well be lessened as a result.

    Following this line of reasoning leads to an economic model for which my background is quite adaptive: tourism. Then I find myself doing an about face on another potential economic model which, until today, I had been downplaying: education. Tourism appeals to curiosity in people. They want to know about some other place than where they are. And the grass seems ever greener on the other side. People are easily led, and have an insatiable appetite for novelty. It might seem at times that people will believe anything they are told, if it’s done persuasiveness enough. In fact, I doubt that we are guided significantly by rationality. This is why tourism can be about anything–broken glass on the street, a pin or needle, a landfill, a coal mine, a holocaust site. It isn’t only about beautiful places or great cultures. Tourism is what you make it.

    Education is something I will need to think more about.

    • DJ says:

      As many as possible should spend as little as possible on essentials, and as few as possible involved in creating these essentials.

      That frees money for spending on tourism, education, hair dressing, personal trainers, entertainment.

    • If a person is a believer in “We pay each other’s wages, so more of anything is better,” then tourism, education, and more medical care are all steps in the right direction. They help create jobs.

      If indeed, the economy as a whole is becoming wealthier and wealthier, and has an increasing amount of surplus energy to spend/waste on these activities, it is all to the good. Or if wages and wealth are getting more and more skewed, then the few rich people can enjoy these activities. The poor people can add debt, and hope to enjoy them too. Debt seems to stimulate the economy, as it becomes an overwhelming burden for those forced to make payments on it, including interest.

      Tourism is sort of OK, although now it seems to be a requirement of educational programs, and sends costs up.

      Education is necessitated by increasing complexity. Increasing education tends to increase wage disparity, since those with education tend to earn more. It used to be that governments paid for education, because pretty much all the education that people needed was through high school. (I understand that in some countries, governments also pay for advanced degrees, even now. Usually the extent of this offer is limited through entrance exams.)

      Young people find themselves in the a trap. They must attend higher education, if they hope to get a reasonable paying job. But if they try this route, many will not succeed, and will be left only with debt. Even if they do finish, many will not earn enough money to repay the debt with interest on their loans. The need for more education is a side-effect of hitting limits.

      I have talked about the problems of medicine before.

      • Artleads says:

        This looks like a case of letting the invisible hand of the market do its work. But that work might be complemented by the volition (program) of any given community. The same amount of surplus energy can have alternate results, can’t it?

        “Debt seems to stimulate the economy, as it becomes an overwhelming burden for those forced to make payments on it, including interest.”

        Is this consistent with JT Roberts’ quote?: “Money was the product of economic activity not the cause of it.” The activity required to pay back debt stimulates the economy?

        “Tourism is sort of OK, although now it seems to be a requirement of educational programs, and sends costs up.”

        I’m not sure why it has to send costs up. It costs more to approach it piecemeal, while it saves costs to approach it synergistically (see below) along with health care, community development and tourism. I doubt that it is beneficial in other than minor ways to tie education with the economic aspects of tourism, since the money aspect can skew other aspects of education. But some basic attention to it seems warranted, especially if a line is projected for now to when money no longer applies/exists.

        “Education is necessitated by increasing complexity. Increasing education tends to increase wage disparity, since those with education tend to earn more. It used to be that governments paid for education, because pretty much all the education that people needed was through high school. (I understand that in some countries, governments also pay for advanced degrees, even now. Usually the extent of this offer is limited through entrance exams.)”

        Well yes. We have a global economic order that can’t be dispensed with. It’s absence means collapse, and there is nothing to take its place (although there needs to be).

        “Young people find themselves in the a trap. They must attend higher education, if they hope to get a reasonable paying job. But if they try this route, many will not succeed, and will be left only with debt. Even if they do finish, many will not earn enough money to repay the debt with interest on their loans. The need for more education is a side-effect of hitting limits.”

        I think the trap of education is made more severe if there is only one economic project (the globally networked JIT one), to the near exclusion of a parallel “community oriented” economic system. Since AI is taking over so much of the global economy, resulting in growing un- and under-employment, shouldn’t it make sense to create work in a parallel community oriented economy for the un- and under-employed? The only reason I can see for the latter not to be developing adequately is that no one thinks it’s needed, or that the JIT one will crash rather soon. And also inertia.

        If a parallel, alternative economy that promotes economic growth were possible, what would be its components?

        Let’s say a parallel cluster of economic programs were considered, it seems to me they would use energy and money to a) grow the alternate economic system, b) create a functioning link with the global mainstream economy (the one that management of nuclear materials might depend on?), and c) move progressively toward a parallel/alternate economic system that is increasingly independent of centralized energy and money.

        PHASE I OF TRANSITION: (No other phase appears to be imaginable without this one first succeeding)

        – Tourism, education, preventative (alternative) health care as community development
        – Tourism, education, preventative (alternative) health care converge synergistically

        What happens when you use education to gain expertise for running the local community? More kids building houses, learning the water system, growing food, noting the successes and failures of various community members’ approaches, participating with health care, explication of community qualities that will interest and connect with tourists (who might occasionally be kids from other places)

        Education as a synergistic system

        Health care as a synergistic system (not a great link, and seems to be behind a paywall)

        If the possibility for an alternate (not alternative) economy depends on surplus from the mainstream global economy, can’t much of this “waste” go to exchanging this surplus (like in trade) maximally?

        Big infrastructure projects seem to promote an inequitable economic order, and waste energy rather than recirculate it maximally. Community-oriented/human-scale economy can tie in to “popular”employment and economic needs. One is inequitable and the other is equitable. Inequitable is heavy on debt which wastes more and is more unstable.
        So the question is whether the following can also work synergistically: Economics through the dominant global financial system, and economics through local “exchange”.

        Question: Do humans waste so as to outcomplete adversarial circumstances? And are those adversarial circumstances only perceived to be such, or are they necessarily adversarial?

        Quote on (KRQE) CBS news today. “People don’t only want to see different thing; they want to see things differently.”

      • MG says:

        If there is enough well-to-do tourists, we do not have Uber or Airbnb. Uber and Airbnb are side effects of the decreasing affordability.

        • Artleads says:

          MG, I didn’t understand this. Can you make it clearer?

        • Artleads says:

          My very historic (but not publicly realized as such) birthplace faces the prospect of a chain of hotels that I fear will ruin what’s left of its real character. Hotels nearby and in that geographic zone have indeed destroyed the character of places without the public ever having grown to see them as valuable. A dominant system of gross inequality seems only to have led to a way of thinking that has only increased inequality. Places that were wholesome and fresh (albeit plagued by classism and inequality), when I was a youth, recently had seemed squalid, like choking festering ghettos (even if everybody had a cell phone). The tourism that started in the 50’s seems to have been consistent with this massive degeneration, population explosion and shabbiness. Buildings still left standing from the past have had their fine architectural features massacred.

          This appears largely to be the legacy of the foreign, big-money, corporate tourist industry.

          Airbnb caters to a different kind of tourism, since it capitalizes on existing homes, small scale, and local benefit. I would be interested in pursuing (conceptually) a rethinking of tourism based on an Airbnb model. It does have the downside, however, of not being able to accommodate the cruise ship type mass market. OTOH, what if every shabby shack were given assistance to upgrade just enough to qualify as some weird, new, shabby chic type of tourist destination?

          It hit me just now that everyone reading this is living in a tourist setting, since every place is (inherently) unique. Every single setting in the world has a unique story that can be spun to attract the still-wealthy-enough tourist class. It would require a major revolution in preservation, design and refurbishment work…on a scale never before imagined. But the materials involved would mostly be “found” or “repurposed” from the local community…

          Uber is something else again. I don’t know how that applies to tourism.


          The revolutionary every-home-is-an-airbnb model for economic transaction might address what Norman says here:

          “the ‘money changing’ theory is what motivates the majority into thinking that the more money changes hands, and faster, the richer everyone gets. A minority do get richer of course, but the majority get left behind for one reason or another.”

          • MG says:

            I meant As there is enough well-to-do tourists, we have Uber or Airbnb. The hotels have problem…

            • MG says:

              “…as there is not enough…” sorry.

            • Artleads says:

              “As many as possible should spend as little as possible on essentials, and as few as possible involved in creating these essentials.”

              I’ll meditate on this.

            • Artleads says:

              So how do you see the folloeing?

              “Airbnb caters to a different kind of tourism, since it capitalizes on existing homes, small scale, and local benefit. I would be interested in pursuing (conceptually) a rethinking of tourism based on an Airbnb model. It does have the downside, however, of not being able to accommodate the cruise ship type mass market. OTOH, what if every shabby shack were given assistance to upgrade just enough to qualify as some weird, new, shabby chic type of tourist destination?”

              What about the large scale, mass-market tourism that hotels cater to?

    • the ”money changing” theory is what motivates the majority into thinking that the more money changes hands, and faster, the richer everyone gets. A minority do get richer of course, but the majority get left behind for one reason or another.

      that same majority reject the nasty reality, (and you read it on OFW first folks) that my explosive force into rotary motion law controls who and what we are, in respect to our current era. And nobody can escape it, unless you’re a bare-subsistence farmer/herdsman taking/expecting nothing from outside forces. such people are in such insignificant numbers that they can be disregarded in this discussion.

      dependency will continue past the last moment–after which will come panic, denial, violence—you name it.

      When the fossil fuels are no longer available, then, if we’re lucky we will go back to a horse and cart at best
      If we’re unlucky—you can name your own scenario.

      • grayfox says:

        Practice distance running…in case the horse is lame or the wheel falls off the cart.

  15. Fast Eddy says:

    These are averages per unit: At $5,125 per unit at GM, there may be some models with $10,000 in incentives and others with none, depending on what GM needs to move at the moment, based on inventories on dealer lots, production, and profit margins (that range from very fat on high-end pickups to very slim on small cars).

    For March, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive pegged incentives at $3,768 per new vehicle sold – the highest ever for any March.

    The prior record for March was achieved in 2009 as the industry was collapsing. In June 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy.



    • Of course, if these companies do succeed in getting more people to buy new cars, they will also trade in their used cars. These used cars seem to be in oversupply as well, so the addition of more used cars will add to the oversupply problem.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Time to roll out Cash For Clunkers V2.0. Surely all those cars purchased back in 2009 (in the C4C program) are all clunkers now. So upgrade folks! And don’t forget to get all those lovely made in China accessories in the parts department before you go.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Unfortunately there are no clunkers left since even hobos are sleeping in late model Toyota minivans 🙂

        Maybe redefine clunkers as any car more than 2 years old?

    • Brian says:

      Last month I bought the last of the 2016 Nissan Leaf and got close to $20,000 in incentives on a $39,000 (CANADIAN) car. My son had an 1997 Jeep that the turkeys used for a roost, I booted them off and got $6250 incentive for that and I didn’t even own it!

  16. dolph says:

    The idea that today is a golden age, and tomorrow will be better, is a western, linear view of the world. This is the linear progress view, and it’s quite understandable considering how far we have gotten.

    And the view that the past was somehow utopian is also a linear view. Namely, linear decline.

    The truth is that all civilizations go in cycles. The historical record is absolutely clear on that. They last sometimes thousands of years and collapse in a few centuries, while some last a few centuries and collapse in decades.

    Our own civilization is about 200-500 years old depending on which dates/definitions used, and the blowoff top is something like 40-100 years old, depending on definitions. Our decline will probably be something like 40-50 years.

    • ejhr2015 says:

      It’s a Dynasty, a techno-industrial dynasty. Dynasties never last much beyond 300 years max. We are closing in on ours considering it began in about 1750. It peaked before 1971and we have been either coasting or declining ever since. The fiat monetary system, the only possible one under these circumstances, has allowed, courtesy of the rule by bankers, for us to borrow our way forward. So we cover our decline by consuming resources in advance. This is now a zero sum operation so we have ordained that we will crash. Pity nobody wants to make plans, even if just to smooth a path forward without instant chaos. Chaos will not be fun!

    • It will be interesting to see how long our civilization lasts without banks or electricity.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Well, if banks and electricity go away that is pretty much instantly the end. No electricity means no fuel at the pumps. It is over. Within 24 hours traffic would stop moving. Anyone that would attempt to drive anywhere after this point would be mobbed by people either desperate to leave the cities or that have run out of gas trying to do so. Lets pray things hold together longer.

      • doomphd says:

        I would guess about 2 weeks, give or take a few days. We had a 5 second blackout here a few days ago, just after dark. It’s a real showstopper.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Let’s examine what a single day without power looks like:

          July 13-14, 1977 New York City blackout

          No sooner had the lights gone out than the looting and arson began. Over a thousand fires were reported, and more than 1,600 stores damaged or ransacked.

          Power was slowly restored over the next day, with the entire city online by 10:39 p.m. All told, in 24 hours 3,700 people had been arrested and more than $300 million of property had been damaged.


          Now imagine what that looks like — when the masses realize that the power is never going back on…..

      • Aubrey Enoch says:

        I had a gentleman come to my farm back about 2008 or so. It was when gas was up over $3.50/gal. He had bought a bunch of blackberry plants and we got his order all loaded up. He had a nice fancy pickup. We started talking about the state of the economy. He said he was a computer programmer for a supermarket chain and that there was three days inventory in their stores. Then he said,
        ”you know when those trucks stop running there won’t be a dog or cat nowhere inside of a week”.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          or a cow, pig, chicken or rat….

          7.5 B desperate, hungry people will really do a number on the animal population …

          Currently reading a book about the Irish famine — there is mention of people having a green tinge on their teeth…

          From eating grass….

          Mind your young children post BAU….

          • ejhr2015 says:

            Did you know there was PLENTY of food produced during Ireland’s famine? The PTB of the day exported it all leaving none for the locals. Seriously criminal behaviour. It amazes that the Irish are not so anti English as such an event would cause.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yep – they were exporting huge amounts of grain and corn….

              Another problem was that the English government did not want donated food to interfere with the free market — so when organizations sent food it was not given to the starving — rather they had to pay for it.

              We won’t run into this sort of problem post BAU — because there will be an epic shortage of food.

            • DJ says:

              Why didn’t they go hordeing?

            • hkeithhenson says:

              I think both of you might do some reading on European history. For example: “In England, the most prosperous kingdom affected by the Great Famine, there were famines such as in 1315–1317, 1321, 1351 and 1369.” And that’s just for that century.

              I know the industrial revolution doesn’t please people such as FE, but it did bring an end to famine. A lot was due to railroads.

              A world wide drought would cause serious problems with the food supply. But those of us in places with a high meat diet would not starve if the food now fed to animals were diverted into human food. At least if it didn’t get too bad or run too long.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am on record as having a passionate romance with the industrial revolution (BAU)…. I will be sad to see her go …

              That said… she is a bit long in the tooth so I don’t think I’ll be able to find her a spot in the harem.

              Pronounced ‘Hair-eeeem’

            • hkeithhenson says:

              The long run up to the industrial revolution is a fascinating study. We have fairly good records in the UK, and Gregory Clark (and his assistants) used them to look at the strong genetic selection what went on in a stable agrarian society. It’s what set in DNA our preferences and traits. Humans have somewhat flexible minds, but it’s likely that numeracy and literacy are helped a great deal if you have certain combinations of genes. Anyway, the UK as a whole underwent a selection over at least 20 generations that was as severe as that the Russians applied to the foxes they domesticated into pets. The same applied in other places, Western Europe, China, Japan where there was order most of the time. The result was humans that differ a great deal from hunter-gatherers in psychology, far less impulsive and violent, much more patient about rewards. Google “genetically capitalist” for the article on the UC Davis web server.

              It’s impressive to me that the population as a whole stayed relatively stable, honoring property rights and such during some very rough times. It’s also impressive as to how far away some of the most serious stresses came from. Scientist now know (due to sulfate in ice layers) that the Great Famine of 1315–17 in Europe was the outcome of a huge volcanic eruption. Much of the evidence points to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tarawera in New Zealand! The famine set the stage for the Black Death.

              How about that Eddy, you are on the same land mass as the smoking gun. “Historians debate the toll, but it is estimated that 10–25% of the population of many cities and towns died.[2] While the Black Death (1338–1375) would kill more people, it often swept through an area in a matter of months, but the Great Famine lingered for years, drawing out the suffering of the populace.”

              We can endlessly debate if human innovation can get us through the energy crisis. But there is no debate that a volcano will eventually cause a weather upset like those that caused the historical famines. It’s just a matter of time.

            • You may be right. We are not to set up to handle a couple of years (or more) of failing crops.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “couple of years (or more) of failing crops.”

              I don’t know if there would be anything we could do to mitigate the problems of widespread crop failure, but it could be looked into. It’s an actuarial kind of problem. I think there is enough data in the last few thousand years of historical records plus back 100k years from the ice cores to get a distribution of the size and effects of volcanic eruptions. The weather models may be good enough now to predict how badly eruptions at various places and intensity will screw up weather enough to cause partial or complete crop failures.

              It’s a good reason to consider much of the human race moving off planet. There may be equally bad dangers to living in space, but they should be *independent* of volcanic eruptions.

            • Good luck in living off the planet earth.

              I think one of the issues regarding storing up food for famines on earth is the fact that the food would need to be stored very close to where it is used. Right now, we have a great deal of transport capability. If this disappeared, the food would need to be stored much more locally.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Good luck in living off the planet earth.”

              There are no physics reasons that more people could not live off earth than on it. O’Neill’s book, High Frontier goes into the details. Takes a lot of work, but it would keep BAU going for a centuries. Earth is likely become a depopulated backwater. It’s not that stable a place to live.

              “a great deal of transport capability. If this disappeared,”

              Given the continental scale of the damage a volcanic eruption causes to the food supply, losing grain transport would bring back famines.

            • ive got used to breathing while i’ve been on this planet—in fact i rather enjoy doing it—it’s become a regular habit—– you could call me an air junkie, i need a fix every second or two—the addiction has got so bad.

              and then there’s food and water—more habits.

              i need a fix of that several times a day—i know i should go cold turkey on all three—but then i couldnt rant on OFW

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “breathing . . . food and water”

              Norman, don’t you think that solutions to all those problems were were figured out a long time ago? Try here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_colonization Or here: http://www.nss.org/settlement/physicstoday.htm which was my first introduction. Or here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_K._O%27Neill#Space_colonization

              There is also a wikiepedia page on the L5 Society.

              As a matter of record, my ex wife and I wrote the first paper on space farming. It is linked off http://www.htyp.org/DTC

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You forgot http://www.thejetsons.com

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Mad as a hatter.

            • unfair to hatters

            • theuaob says:

              BAU wouldn’t work at all in that context. Any space habitat would have much greater fragility than we experience here on Earth. If activities were governed by the need to generate financial profit and economic growth over ecological sustainability collapse would occur almost instantly.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “much greater fragility than we experience here on Earth”

              That,s an interesting assertion, especially given the contention on this blog that BAU is about to end and humans will go extinct. I somewhat doubt you are actually interested in bounding the fragility either on Earth or in space, but if you are, then we need to examine what took down previous civilizations, how often they occur and how long we can expect engineering works, such as a space colony to last, and what random risks they face.

              I have been studying Angkor Wat and the civilization that built it recently. It seems to me to be a relatively applicable model. Do you know what took it down?

              There are quite a few engineering works that are over 1000 years old and still standing, some still functional. Can you name some of them?

            • ejhr2015 says:

              Maybe you could ask them?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If you got caught you were likely to be exiled to Australia…

            • you can’t hoard if you don’t have any money

            • DJ says:

              “if the food now fed to animals were diverted into human food”
              If you eat the soy beans and corn I can eat the beef.

          • DJ says:

            Which book?

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      I still think any kind of decline will be linked to energy. If somehow a transition from FF to renewables or some other way of producing enough net energy to power the world occurs then it’s game still on. The only trouble is if that does happen it will be at the expense of every other living creature larger than a vole on this planet, except of course farm animals that are consumed. Their numbers will continue to rise. I just don’t think we can presume anything. Say for example some invention is developed that makes fusion feasible on a much smaller scale so it can be put into ships, trains, trucks and eventually even cars. With quantum computing and AI both in development there’s no telling what level of technological advancement is possible. The game’s not over until the fat lady sings as they say.

  17. CTG says:

    Fast Eddie – your idol / hero did it again !

    Elon Musk Launches Company To Hook Up People To Computers


    • Greg Machala says:

      Count me out of Elon’s plan.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Just thinking…

        Elon Musk and Scott Nearing are very much one and the same…

        They are both ‘Jesus’ … in their own way.

        Nearing espoused simple living as a sustainable path for humans — and people gobble it up — in spite of the fact that he was not living a sustainable life at all – he was using factory tools and cement and medicine and roads and much of what BAU had to offer…

        Nearing is as close to an example of BAU Lite that you can get — although if we all lived like he did there would be no BAU at all … in short order

        But the masses are willing to ignore the facts — his is a good story — it resonates big time — trying to explain to someone who has the faith is like trying to explain to someone that it is ridiculous to think that a man walked on water — died for us — rose from the dead — and lives in the sky — and oh — he needs us to give money and is on a massive ego trip that requires us to pray to him — or we burn in hell….

        Skip to Elon — he is even more ridiculous than Nearing — EVs are a total joke — living on Mars is a total joke…

        But there are a lot of people who worship him — he also needs money to keep the fairy tale alive… and he gets it — donations from fools who buy his jalopies — and absurd amounts in the form of subsidies from the US govt…

        They both offer salvation — for more flavours of salvation you can check out Peak Prosperity that will sell you an end of world plan … Steve over at SRC report will flog you gold and silver and store it for you …. Jimmy K will sell you a world made by hand….

        The list of snake oil salesmen is endless… they are big time popular these days…. and as things get more grim the more we will reach for every more ridiculous ‘solutions’

  18. Kurt says:

    Uh oh. Calling the g-man. Technology is a pesky thing.


    • Even if we could get some oil at $20 per barrel, this does not make most oil in the world profitable.

      Also, high oil prices are depended on for more than getting the oil out of the ground. Part of the amount must go toward getting new fields ready. A big amount must go toward taxes. There are few oil extraction areas in the world that could live on $50 barrel oil, much less $20 oil.

    • Greg Machala says:

      “2017-19 is likely to see the largest increase in mega projects’ production in history, as the record 2011-13 capex commitment yields fruit,” the U.S. investment bank said in a research note on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

      The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the U.S. oil production to top 10 million barrels by December 2018, a level only surpassed in October and November 1970.” – We shall see. If I was a betting man I’d be against this occurring. The reason being is that the article does not say how much recoverable resource there is at $20 per barrel. The reason this is omitted is because it is probably a very small number relative to other historically super giant conventional oil fields.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Art Berman has done a good job explaining how this is smoke and mirrors….

        Whenever I see headlines like this it reminds me of the headlines re ‘Saudi America’ in 2008 or so…

        If it’s too good to be true…. it is not fake news

        I am also reminded the MSM does not exist to inform me — it exists to attempt to control what I think…

        And making me think that we are not running out of cheap to extract oil is a good thing…. if I believed the MSM then I would feel good.. I would feel happy … I would go shopping…

  19. ITEOTWAWKI says:

    There’s going to be a lot more than just White uneducated Middle-Aged Americans dying soon:


    For those here that talk about slow collapse, we have been in the slow collapse phase for many years, particularly since 2008…but one day soon, the slow collapse phase will end, and then things will go really fast, and with that BAU will end, bringing down JIT and by extension all of us…

    • Greg Machala says:

      “but one day soon, the slow collapse phase will end, and then things will go really fast, and with that BAU will end” – I agree!

    • I agree. I think that the US tax system (higher taxes if you are married with both working) has played a role as well. Also the benefits for women (or men) who are single, head of household, raising children. Women with lesser education find that they cannot afford to get married. Also, it costs nothing to split up, if a couple is living together without being married. All around, it seems like the best solution. But a lot of men end up out on their own by middle age.

      I know that actuarial studies years ago said that the death rate for single men was a whole lot higher than for married men. Part of this is a selection issue — women will not stay with someone who is drunk all of the time, or abusing drugs. Fewer men in the higher death rate category are married now. They don’t have a wife’s cooking, or grandchildren, to look forward too. Just a choice of part time jobs that don’t even pay enough for transportation, at retail shops and restaurants.

  20. Nivek says:

    So having been exposed to all this information on this website and been awakened…

    What exactly are we to do when disaster does strike? Being someone in his 30s no kids what not rich, what can I do when it all ceases to at least give myself a chance post crash.

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      Those who make it through the bottleneck will form small communities to eek out an existence, so just look for one that will accept you. Since you are young they probably will invite you as opposed to baby boomers that will probably be out of luck. Just be ready for lots of hard labor.

    • go back to sleep

      somebody will wake you when it’s all over—assuming you haven’t been eaten

    • Greg Machala says:

      “What exactly are we to do when disaster does strike?” – I suppose you mean when financial collapse occurs. There isn’t much you can do other than to be aware of our predicament and make the most of every day.

      You can store up non-perishable food and water. And possibly seek out a place to live where the population density is very low. Just be aware though when you run out of food and fresh water life will become very difficult very quickly. It may become difficult much sooner if hoards of people know you have fresh water and food.

      On the bright side, I wouldn’t worry much about marrying, having children, keeping up with the Jone’s or saving for retirement.

    • Van Kent says:

      If counting probabilities..
      – in the long run, its an extinction level event.. not just Eddys fuel ponds.. many other things as well.. its Game Over
      – you don’t need to worry or fear anything anymore.. the probabilities are so miniscule to survive any of whats coming our way, stressing about it, is the very last thing that helps.. you are free..
      – learn a skill.. everything else can be taken from you, so, learn yourself a handy skill
      – forget about walking dead and other mad max, one man, one shotgun, against the world, fantasies, grid down, internet gone, most people will be gonners by virulent strains

    • Rainydays says:

      Anything can happen really. Just enjoy every day.

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Unless you are a Hunter-Gatherer, which by simply being here you most certainly are not, there is not much to do except, as others have said, take advantage of every day BAU is in place. And to be awake is liberating because you don’t have to worry about the future, since there is no future to worry about! Carpe Diem Nivek and welcome to the club!

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Nivek — you could pay a hunter gatherer group to let you stay with them and learn how to be a hunter gatherer. Perhaps they will adopt you into their tribe….

        Sadly … when the spent fuel ponds blow …. it won’t matter..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Make sure you have enough petrol in your vehicle to be able to slam it into a rock cut at high speed.

      It will be better than the starvation, disease, violence and radiation that comes if you try to hang on

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        I plan on going to the Downtown area of my city (if I can get to it) climb up the stairs of one of our many 30+ floor buildings and then making the craziest free-style jump eva…guaranteed death within seconds and painless!

  21. grayfox says:

    They just cleared land for a mega-church walking distance from where I live, despite heavy resistance from town residents and warnings from the media that upstate NY is an area where church-going is on the wane. I’m guessing it probably will operate a year or so and then be converted into a supermarket.

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

    By Jared Diamond

    University of California at Los Angeles Medical School

    To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress.

    In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

    At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable. We’re better off in almost every respect than people of the Middle Ages, who in turn had it easier than cavemen, who in turn were better off than apes. Just count our advantages.

    We enjoy the most abundant and varied foods, the best tools and material goods, some of the longest and healthiest lives, in history. Most of us are safe from starvation and predators. We get our energy from oil and machines, not from our sweat. What neo-Luddite among us would trade his life for that of a medieval peasant, a caveman, or an ape?

    More http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html

    Attention Sco.tt Near-ing … wherever you are…. you were not living a solution —- you were part of the problem buddy…..

    • Hm, there is a little problem with that train of thought-ideology.
      Namely, there have been several species before the humanape, which mastered agriculture, and in fact practice it till this day. For example some ants are farming fungi in a planned several step taking “manuf like” process etc.

    • problem is that most people are convinced that we have a choice about that exchange

      • Fast Eddy says:

        As a Nihilist … I of course agree — there was no choice… cream always rises… the bacteria always goes for the yeast… dogs always fight for the bones….

        And hungry hunter gatherers were always going to look for ways to feed their starving tribes…. even if they knew that farming would lead to extinction — that would have changed nothing.

        There are powerful forces at play….

    • jeremy890 says:

      Question to Fast “Smart AHoleEddy”, how many folks live your statement ” we”?

      “We enjoy the most abundant and varied foods, the best tools and material goods, some of the longest and healthiest lives, in history. Most of us are safe from starvation and predators. We get our energy from oil and machines, not from our sweat. What neo-Luddite among us would trade his life for that of a medieval peasant, a caveman, or an ape?”

      5%? That’s the percent of humans that actually fly, like yourself, on a jet to your end of the world vacation spots!
      Poo, hoo, the vast majority living now say it ain’t so, brother!

      Don’t worry, you and your BAU lifestyle won’t be missed….just saying…
      If the people listened to Helen and Scott Nearing we won’t be BS here but Living the Good Life!

      • DJ says:

        US pop 318M
        EU pop 510M
        Japan pop 127M
        through 7.5B = 13%
        Add a few more rich countries and the rich in all poor countries to get at least 20%.

        • Correct by saying ~1.5B of the global pop enjoys most of the civilization spoils.
          But that doesn’t negate jeremy890’s point about the tiny elite inside that pinpoit of 1.5B pyramid using gargantuan resources (per person) and skewing the infrastructure arrangements (misallocation of resources) for everybody else to it as well..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Scott Nearing liked to jet to warm places — apparently he did that a lot in the cold winter months.

        You are not getting it — the advent of farming is why we are where we are now.

        The hunter gatherers responded to over-population by farming. If they had not started farming then like any animal population they would have simply died back when there was not enough food to feed more of them.

        Farming meant populations grew even larger…. which meant we had to innovate to feed even more mouths — which lead to the iron age… the fossil fuel age… the industrial revolution … and finally the green revolution … and 7.5 ravenous screech human beasts demanding to be fed.

        Scott Nearing was a deluded commie clown — he didn’t get it either.

        If he wanted to live in a sustainable manner what he should have done is stripped down and ran into the bush to live like a hunter gatherer.

        But of course he wasn’t going to do that — winter in Florida is just so much more appealing.

        • jeremy890 says:

          You still don’t get it, do you?
          The Nearings lived in different era. Is THAT too difficult for you to understand?
          I knew Helen Nearing when she was in her advanced age in her 90’s, living by herself in Maine at Forest Farm Homestead, She, of course, had many people, who cared for her.
          A friend offered a spot in Florida for her in the winter months. Gee, judge her by your future standards?
          You are just off the mark and full of it. But that’s OK, you provide a segment here of entertainment. Humans loved to be amused.
          How’s that Pigweed you are growing?

          • ARBP says:

            Yeah, and your personal relationship with Helen Nearing is clouding your judgement.
            The Nearings did not provide a model for how humans to live sustainably. The “they didn’t know any better because they were from a different era” statement doesn’t excuse them from knowing problems with human agriculture and from using tools that were not the products of “simple living” . Scott had the financial resources to investigate…but he chose not to.

            Homesteading= living “off the grid”= an expensive option for the elite The non-elite don’t have that option of choosing their lifestyles. Environmentalism, in industrialized countries, is a display of status because it is almost always coming from the elite.

            • jeremy890 says:

              ARBP..Got a wet nurse for Fast Eddy.
              Dude, the Nearing LIVED the Fast Eddy challenge for MOST of their adult LIVESk
              He has been TOLD that many times over!
              What the problem? He’s going to judge them in their advanced age?
              You people here are just being unfair.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And when electricity became available where they lived — did they say ‘no – we refuse to use electricity — that is not sustainable — it is generated with fossil fuels!!!’

              NNNOOoooooooo!!! They were quite happy to plug right on in.

              Just like when they started to make some cash they were happy to board the jet plane and rocket off to Florida.

              Hmmm… who does this remind me of?


              I can imagine if Scott the Commie would have been offered a private jet to fly to Florida — he’d have been all over that….

              I’ve seen this all before — when I lived in Bali there were plenty of these Champagne Greenies… they’d have their kids in the ‘Green School’ and fly in (business class) to check up on them a couple of times per year….

              The only difference between the elites and the Nearings is that one group had the means to burn through the planet faster… at the end of the day they were otherwise the same — living large to the limits of what they could afford.

              Anyone wanna go green? Do this:


              All else is bull789t.

            • jeremy890 says:

              That’s what REALLY gets your goat. Scot tNearing all through his life refused to kneel and kiss as@ and would not kneel and kiss the ring ring of ANY Elder or Authority, either in Washington DC or the Kremlin!
              In doing so and showing a person is capable of living a good life, he disproves your notion of “why anyone would not want to be in the with the Elders”.
              Yes, Scott Nearing just threw Fast Eddy and his self proclaim theory for a toss in the circular file of Historical bucket!
              You best EDUCATE yourself Mister before showing the readers here your folly.

            • Fast Eddy says:


              But didn’t he sell his books at BAU book stores? Did he not buy his tools in BAU shops? Did he not plug into BAU electricity?

              Not exactly revolutionary stuff….

              It’s like the kid rebelling against his parents but on Saturday asking mom for 100 bucks for a new pair of sneakers…

              Getting back to the story …

              Do you agree that farming caused us to expand to 7.5 billion people? You seem to want to avoid that question.

              For obvious reasons.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “farming caused us to expand”

              You could also put it that the expansion of the population beyond the ability of the natural world to provide food caused farming.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              … which resulted in a population of 7.5 billion … and the imminent extinction of humans

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” imminent extinction of humans”

              Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be wrong?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              56,000,000 Hiroshimas of radiation are going to be released post BAU….

              One can never be 100% sure of most things… but on this issue I am pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty sure…

            • thesunisshiningonmars says:

              “Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be wrong?”
              Keith. You better have a swig from the bottle you are passing. No better just drink it all.

              On third thought buy a case.

              Oh I forgot you know you are full of it you are just running your game. Nevermind.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              I am certainly willing to admit I might be wrong or after that I was wrong. Engineers–and pilots–who can’t do that wind up killing people. Look up crew resource management. The reason it is now reasonably safe to fly on Korean air liners is that pilots and crew they have broken away from the Korean culture of deference to authority. Korean pilots now impress the crews before every flight that they *can* make errors and that they expect the crew to speak up when they think the pilot has done so.

              This happened to me recently in the contest of power satellites. It turns out to be a lot harder (more expensive) than I thought to shield the construction crew from cosmic rays. The alternative is building them with robots and teleoperators. I find this to be an unpleasant prospect, even though I expect that AIs and robots will be running everything in the long run.

              Another unpleasant prospect is humans going extinct because they are not needed. But they leave behind a vibrant, long term sustainable, robot civilization. Frankly that’s as bad or worse than anything FE has to offer.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I have nothing to offer … other than my wishes that all of you die a quick, painless death when BAU ends.

              It’s futile Keith… stop thinking there is going to be a Hollywood ending where the hero arrives at the last minute to save the day.

              This not a F789ing tee vee show!

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I judge by what is sustainable — farming — on all levels is NOT sustainable — it is why we have 7.5 billion people on the planet.

            The Nearings were idiots – they thought they were setting an example of how to live — there were doing nothing of the sort

            There were just a couple of clowns who were living a feel good story — and yet there were as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

            I- D- I- O- T- S.

            • jeremy890 says:

              Like YOU are an expert in sustainability! Sorry, Bud, all you do is post your own opinions.
              Keep on repeating your nonsense. Helen and Scott Nearing are no longer here to defend themselves, BUT I am. Keep it up, better you write your theory of sustainability and summit it to a Science Journal, Mr Know it All, now that would produce real laughs!

            • sorry—my better half says i’m mr know it all

              cant have two know it alls on the same site–

            • Fast Eddy says:

              But I am an expert on sustainability — I am a proponent of the Hunter Gatherer lifestyle —- the only way of living that is even remotely close to sustainable.

              I tried once to run into the bush and see if I could live this life — within an hour I came back because I was hungry and cold and exhausted….

              Feel free to give it a go.

              As for your defending the Nea—rings — you are making a fool of yourself in the process.

              As I have explained many times now — farming is unsustainable — and it causes population overshoot.

              If you want to defend them you can stop repeating that I am wrong — and instead attempt to demonstrate using facts — how I am wrong i.e. explain to me how what the Nearings was doing was a way forward — was sustainable… make sure to address the fact that they used factory tools… cement… had a pick up truck… used doctors…. roads… etc….

              I await your detailed argument


            • jeremy890 says:

              OK Norm, all I pointed to him was each generation faces DIFFERENT challenges.
              Apparently, that is too much to comprehend for the likes of a Fast Eddy.
              Just giving him the treatment he dishes out to others.
              You understand? Well, I hope your better half does at least.
              Of course, Would the Nearing have the same lives today?
              One thing is they would be tackling it, not like Fast Eddy the blowhard.

            • ive seen the nearings mentioned on here–but know nothing about them, so didn’t follow it up in any way with comments.

              but to pick up on a few details, they went off into the backwoods and were looked on with benign benevolence by the locals. the USA was big enough to get lost in.
              come shtf time—that will not happen.—quite the opposite. that’s the first wrong comparison with our own time
              they bought land, 3 farms seem to be mentioned, and appear to have made some kind of living from it, selling stuff to the outside world—again, i might be wrong there—i only read the preview.

              back then, US population was maybe 150m, and resources were cheap and plentiful—not so now.

              they thought the world was going to hell in a fas cist handcart—it wasn’t because ditto cheap resources again.

              now were doing just that because democracy can only exist in an environment of plenty for all—we no longer have that, so some form of fas cism is certain as resources decline.

              Previous generations thought they faced ”different challenges”–they didnt, they faced resource availability challenges, and expanded outwards to meet them.
              18th C century Europe was overcrowded, so they met that challenge by finding empty lands killing off the locals and filling those lands up with immigrants.Hit ler did the same thing
              We can’t do that anymore.

              the Nearings were living in a democratic safe bubble, whether they liked it or not.
              we are in the process of popping that bubble—for good.
              So what worked for the Nearings will not work for us.
              Again–it’s what I keep warning about—driving into our future by looking in the rear view mirror.

            • jeremy890 says:

              Norm, when Fast Eddy brings up Scott Nearing that is method of a signal to me he wishes to do some “bashing” and it’s all in good fun.
              I never bring up the Nearings and as a matter of fact never come here as one to claim to know what the future is, unlike Mister Eddy.
              Just giving him what he craves.
              So long for now.

            • thesunisshiningonmars says:

              We all do the best we can We are all whores to oil in the end analysis. The Nearings were less oil whore than most. Is that admirable? I think so. Were they deluded? Without a doubt. Are they to be made fun of? I would say absolutely not. Does that make me deluded? Perhaps.

              Why is the Bangladesh slum dweller that dies at 38 with bad teeth not defended as a visionary? Well that is not a very nice life. That doesnt fit in to peoples ideas so that model is discarded.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Nearing is a myth — supported by a romantic notion of the country farmer.

              There are conversely no romantic myths to lead our perceptions of the hunter gatherer… we are told that HGs are savages…. to be exterminated… see John Wayne movies…

              Hence we see the farmer emulated — and the HG despised and rejected.

    • xabier says:

      However, this is too determinist, although perhaps broadly true.

      For instance, it is well -known that in the Middle East two neighbouring tribes – not necessarily different races, and both ‘muslim’ – will accord widely varying status to women.

      In the one tribe, downtrodden and veiled, not much more than exploited animals for breeding and hard labour, the full Patriarchal nightmare of feminists; and in the other, unveiled, bold, and talking back to the men with complete freedom. The difference between Syrian Arab and Syrain Kurdish women was always noted by travellers.

      Agriculture need not necessarily imply female enslavement and humiliation.

      • Yes, the proof is easy, I can look at bw pictures/movies of agricultural woman ~80yrs ago (and older incl. paintings), the hands of a boxer, musculus, yet full filled expression of overall happiness.. all day long among many children, animals, and yes lot of work..

        Now compare – contrast with today’s zombie equivalents all around..

    • Greg Machala says:

      Interesting read FE. I have read from multiple sources that humans lost height when they went from hunter gatherer to agriculture. I think the fundamental reason why we have to have agriculture is due to our sheer numbers and population densities. Once population levels drop and biodiversity returns (hopefully) hunter gatherer lifestyles will make a comeback. There is really no other way (long term) for humans to survive.

      • DJ says:

        But why should we ever give up farming?

        If farming allows 100:1 higher density, farmers will just kill HG.

        • Greg Machala says:

          “But why should we ever give up farming?” – I don’t think farming is sustainable given the human desire to grow their populations. It doesn’t seem to be very nutritious either. Farming certainly isn’t as sustainable as the hunter gatherer lifestyle.

          Then there is the fishing industry? Is that farming too? Or, is that just simply rape and pillaging the ocean for food? What about animals being raised in cages? Is that farming? Is that a good thing? To me it seems like we have become desperate for food.

          At 7+billion our footprint on this planet is simply too large to support much longer. It just a simple fact of limits to growth. Like others have said the carrying capacity of this planet for an animal like homo-sapiens is very much lower than 7+billion.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Ironically… we murdered most of those who were living sustainable lifestyles …. so people like Scott Nearing could own and clear land so that they could lead ‘the good life’ under the pretense of sustainability.

            • jeremy890 says:

              Boy, Fast Eddy is a name dropping SOB…LOL.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I take you this means you agree that Scott Nearing was a delusional fool?

              Which he was…

            • doomphd says:

              reminds me of the first time I visited East Lansing, MI. there was this local guy on my flight that i struck up a conversation with at the baggage claim. being new to the area, I started to ask general questions about the place and its history. so I asked: “are there any native americans in the area?” He looked perplexed at the question, then shot out “oh them, they’re up in the peninsula (upper michigan state)”, end of conversation. all these years gone by, still in denial of american history.

            • jeremy890 says:

              You are just venting sour grapes because of your own shortcomings and inadequacies.
              How many attempts now at homesteading? Too many to list and off the wall excuses for giving up and moving elsewhere. Where to next cry baby? Maybe Trump can take you in as the Presidential Tweeter blogger, since you seem to pride yourself on that “talent”.
              That’s the place you really want to be at, kissing the as/ …ring of the Elders

              There you go, Eddy, you can start right away in the morning. LOL

            • Fast Eddy says:

              It kinda has nothing to do with my efforts at homesteading (a futile, illogical endeavour)….

              And everything to do with the fact that permaculture farming was another step (the key step) towards extinction… (fire, fossil fuels, industrialization, green revolution are other steps)

              If we had not started to farm and remained hunter gatherers — do you think we would be in the position we are in?

              Obviously not — so why is Nearing your hero?

              Why not choose Edison … or Ford … or Borlaug …or any other person who was instrumental in wrecking the planet?

              If we are worshiping destroyers then I can see how Nearing should be king…. because he represents that great leap backwards when the first hunter gatherer decided to set up a picket fence… throw some seeds in the ground … and grow food.

              Essentially that was the beginning of the end… we stepped onto the treadmill to hell… and hell is fast approaching.

              So yes — I understand where you are coming from. Nearing is a metaphor for all that.

              He is King Destroyer — worship him.

              I get it!!!

            • jeremy890 says:

              Sure Eddy, just another excuse of yours to pack it all in and cast it aside.
              If you don’t succeed after a half dozen times, give up.
              You can entertain your idol worshippers here, but don’t pull that BS on Mr.
              I see through it all. Hey, if it keeps you off your depression meds, fine with me.
              You don’t have to be told what needs to be done, your stomach will!
              Best pucker up and kneel down

              Yes, Trump could use someone like you.

            • thesunisshiningonmars says:

              In the end we are all seduced by the siren of oil. None resist her call. It is not something to proud of. Those that tried and failed should not be made fun of even though they failed.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Nah… if you want to put yourself forward as the beacon for sustainable living … and write books about it…. then you need to accept that your feet will be put to the fire.

              End of the day the only difference between other sustainability icons such as Al mega mansion Gore… and Leo private jet DiCaprio…. is one of scale.

              None of them have done anything that remotely smells of sustainability.

              No one gets a free pass.

          • DJ says:

            7B may not be sustainable. But after the die-off farmers have an (collective) advantage over HG.

            Best case the cycle will start all over again, but without fossil fuels.

            • Greg Machala says:

              “But after the die-off farmers have an (collective) advantage over HG.” – I disagree. I think after collapse occurs the only humans that have a chance of making it are the ones currently living the HG lifestyle.

            • DJ says:

              Yes, and if/when they will start growing in population and soon it is 10k BC again with the choice of starvation, war or farming.

            • without fossil fuels, population must hit a low ceiling.

              2 reasons…
              1…..sufficient food cannot be extracted from the earth by one fit person to sustain more than an immediate small family—too many kids and some die off. That ”fit person” dies at about 50.
              we have no other source of energy other than earth-grown.

              2… our health is sustained by fossil fuel energy input
              remove that and bugs come into their dominant species role again.
              humankind will be relegated to their true niche environment.

              thus 10bn is impossible

            • DJ says:

              Who is talking about 10B? We are arguing whether after a non-extinction die-off to 1M, why would people stay HG the second time around and not use agriculture and grow to ~.5-1B?

            • Rainydays says:

              The discussion here gets very polarized. If X billion people can’t live sustainable in a very specific way then none shall? Sorry people that is not how the world works. People will farm, hunt, gather depending on what the enviroment/region allows.

              Debating what doctrine survivors of a mass die off should follow is maybe intellectually interesting but in the end worthless. Survivors would want to feed their family and build their community, not starting a “sustainable civilization”. The die off has already fulfilled the “sustainable”-criteria!

      • Artleads says:

        “Once population levels drop and biodiversity returns (hopefully) hunter gatherer lifestyles will make a comeback.”

        🙂 I think what’s missing in this equation is extinction somewhere along the line. In some respects, you can’t change very much without total collapse.So FE assures us, and I can see his point. You need to keep those Leonardo Dome sticks standing somehow. The entire chain of supply has to considered, as do all the interdependent systems.

        • Bergen Johnson says:

          “In some respects, you can’t change very much without total collapse.So FE assures us, and I can see his point.”

          One has to wonder why FE posts so much if he’s so convinced we will all soon become extinct. What’s the point? FE can assure all he wants and post billions of times but repeating something and trying to negate other people’s posts that don’t support extinction doe not assure any of it is true. It’s simply a one person viewpoint megaphoned ad infinitum but at the end of the day is just one person’s opinion that I and many others disagree with – we just don’t post as much.

          • ARBP says:

            “Soon” doesn’t mean tomorrow but in the next 100-1000 years.
            The problems we are facing are unprecedented.

            You’ve had plenty of times to make a credible argument for why humans survive indefinitely and you couldn’t make a compelling case. Piping in to say ” I disagee!’ because you think there is a tech fix….or whatever the hell it is that you believe in is not an argument but an expression of your faith in the system. You’re not winning any converts to your religion.

            ” trying to negate other people’s posts”
            No one has stopped you from proving evidence that proves that industrial civilization can be saved. Stop trying to make yourself look like a victim .

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The problems we are facing are unprecedented. ”

              True statement. However, the power humans have to fix problems is also unprecedented. 7.5 billion minds should be good for something.

              ” that industrial civilization can be saved.”

              If there is any civilization post the era where AI and nanotech become the dominant technologies, I don’t know that it will be called “industrial civilization.” Whatever it is called, it won’t be based on blast furnaces to make iron, and very will might not be based on much we would even recognize. For example, if we have needs for physical structures, they could be constructed (or grown) from diamond foam, graphene and nanotubes. If such structures were made from carbon out of the air, this could lead to the second CO2 crisis, where there is not enough of it in the air.

              The one thing that seems certain is that the future will be as filled with problems as the past and the present.

            • Joebanana says:

              Thought you might be interested in this.


            • hkeithhenson says:


              Interesting, but a bit beyond my current set of concerns.

            • doomphd says:

              “7.5 billion minds should be good for something.”

              you’re assuming that group think will somehow create new solutions to our problems. It’s more like the 80-20 or even 90-10 rule, The 10-20 percent do the work for the 80-90 percent, who lay around and moo.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “even 90-10 rule,”

              It’s at least that bad. However, the 7.5 B bulk out the area under the curve and increase the number of those who might actually have some good ideas about how to solve the problems.

              I have often wondered what one standard deviation shift upward would do. Hard as this might be to imagine, that’s about how much the population has gained over my life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘how to solve the problems’

              hahahahahaahahahahahahahaha…. to infinity

            • DJ says:

              Now we are going down a SD at least.

          • Artleads says:

            “Soon” to me means soon. But I, for one, don’t think of that soon as literally as some do. We do live in an EXISTENTIALLY complex global system, and I’ve given up somewhere along the way trying to second guess what it can and can’t do. In the late 60’s, the brightest people I knew were predicting collapse in a couple years. And now it’s 50 years on…

            FE and Gail can’t be taken too literally. They seem to point to a systemic inability to carry on too much longer with an interconnected global system that is as unstable as it is. Whether they always present a complete analysis for their reasoning, they tend to do it often enough (or near enough) to sink in if you’re really listening.

            But since I can’t explain existence–I don’t see it in materialist, scientistic terms–I follow my deepest beliefs that the system (which Gail and others describe as self-organizing) HAS to find its way out of this, so strong is the impulse to live.

            For now, I’ll accept ARBP’s definition that collapse is collapse, and the end, while what we’re living now is decline. If the global system is a Leonardo Dome (a term you might search on OFW or on Wikipedia), the sticks supporting it cannot be moved lest the dome collapse. But I haven’t seen a reason why they can’t be replaced in such a way that the dome can be transformed for fairly long-term survival. Decline is the space for inventing that propping up function for the Leonardo Dome. It is no use talking about anything past the collapse of the dome. If nothing else, nuclear radiation would kill us off (here anyway) effectively.

            It is only NOW that matters.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I feel this urge to crush, smash and destroy… even ridicule … posts that are not supported by logic – facts – evidence.

            Unfortunately that is a frequent occurrence

            • Greg Machala says:

              ” However, the power humans have to fix problems is also unprecedented. ” – And when we “fix” problems the “fix” often times introduces additional problems. Take the road system for example. Widening roads to fix congestion encourages more people to move to the new location. Then, more congestion. Another example, using finite materials to increase complexity runs into limits of finite materials. We can “work around” the problems but we don’t fix them. And we need copious amounts of energy to do so. We forget that our desire to shape the world to our liking is the problem. It works as long as we have the energy and resources available to battle against mother nature. But, in the long run, we must live by the rules.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “not supported by logic – facts – evidence. ”

              From https://www.jmporup.com/95-theses-of-cyber.html

              “91. The planet is a mess. Without more innovation, civilization is doomed.”

            • Fast Eddy says:

              But isn’t it innovation that is dooming the planet?

              If we had just continued hunting and gathering instead of doing a ‘Scott Nearing’ would we be in a position where we are about to unleash epic starvation, disease, violence, and 56,000,000 Hiroshimas onto the planet?

      • ejhr2015 says:

        let’s assume 200,000 years of homo sapiens. For 190,000 we lived tribal, hunter gatherers, and survived quite well. For 10,000 we have lived with an agricultural base, mega multiplied our population and will soon go extinct, very likely. That’s quite a multiplier effect!

        • We did wipe out a lot of species as hunter-gatherers too. We were quite successful in that realm as well. We could not have maintained that pattern, because our population was rising too much.

          • ARBP says:

            One of the reasons why I think people like Keith look forward to AI is because they would like a force to step in to restrain human behavior. The biotech equivalent of this would be to engineer an organism that would prey on humans to keep human population in check.

            Gail writes” We could not have maintained that pattern, because our population was rising too much.” It was maintained in pockets around the world. Africa is on of the few continents that had a diverse number of megafuana up until the gun was introduced to there. In HBD circles, the lack of unsustainable exploitation of natural resources is used as evidence of low intelligence among Africans

            • Artleads says:

              “In HBD circles, the lack of unsustainable exploitation of natural resources is used as evidence of low intelligence among Africans”

              Yes. That is one of my pet peeves. And now it’s Africans themselves, who, by what they espouse to be important, believe that too. Brainwashing at its best.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              (AI) . . . “to step in to restrain human behavior”

              Can’t say I ever consciously thought something like that, but it’s a meme. Congratulations, you spoke it first, so it will be always associated with you. 🙂

              “prey on humans to keep human population in check”

              We seem to have escaped being prayed on by the big cats around the time our remote ancestors started chipping stone. I think there would be opposition to filling neighborhoods with lions or tigers (or bears) that lived by eating people. Though it would make life more exciting . . . .

            • Artleads says:

              Excerpt on Facebook from the following Title:

              From Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea: A History of the Liberian People Before 1800, p. 37:

              “West Africa underwent a quiet revolution around 8,000 BC. It occurred, thanks to three major changes. First, people shifted from gathering wild food to farming. In addition to hunting for meat, they domesticated animals like sheep, goats and cows. In place of tools carved from stones, they learned to make stronger ones from melted metals, especially iron. These changes were indigenous, not imported.”
              Please note: Those inventions placed West Africa at that time ahead of Europe, which was lagging behind Africa, the Middle East and China.
              Want to know how Europe crawled ahead and Africa fell behind? Check out Chapter 13 in Between The Kola Forest and the Salty Sea. As philosopher George Santayana said, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat.”

              There’s something wrong with this picture that can’t yet identify.

          • DJ says:

            But species wipe out other species all the time, can’t be compared to current pace.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Farming was the first techno response to overpopulation which was caused by harnessing fire….

            • ejhr2015 says:

              What the early settlers in Australia didn’t recognise was that the entire landscape was a man made one. Early Sydney seemed set in parkland. It didn’t take long to mess it up, and we’ve been excelling at that for 200 years now.

            • I think of farming as a complexity related response. Through better organization, and focusing their efforts on the plants and animals that were most desirable, it was possible to produce more in the same quantity of land. There was technology used, but a lot of it seemed to be specialization and organization. You are right, it seemed to be in response to overpopulation.

              I suppose that there were earlier responses, such as burning down whole forests, to force desirable animals inside to flee. And making sharper stone knives, by heating the stone to high temperature before making the blade. Also, making boats to sail to new lands. This reference claims the first sea worthy boats were used 800,000 years ago. https://www.reference.com/history/year-boat-invented-3326a81bd7860783# Wikipedia claims 900,000 years ago. There have been local excesses of people, for a very long time, and local technology solutions.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “overpopulation which was caused by harnessing fire….”

              If so, it was a really slow response. Use of fire preceded agriculture by at least 250,000 years, and using fire might go back much further.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              No fire. No industrial revolution.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “No fire. No industrial revolution.”

              True, but unrelated to your claim that population growth from using fire was a cause of the rise of agriculture.

              Old world agriculture centers might have influenced each other. But the rise of agriculture in the Americas seems to have been entirely unrelated. Weird as it may seem, agriculture seems to be a trait that naturally emerges from humans.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Fire kicked off population growth …. for one it kept dangerous animals from killing off humans… it also allowed us to cook food — Gail has explained the implications of cooking food on many occasions …

              It allowed us to make fire hardened spears — which made it easier to kill more animals for the pot…

              Fire allowed us to keep warm — which kept us healthy – and allowed us to expand our footprint

              The world is a big place — so there was plenty of space to expand from a small population base… therefore it would have taken some time before we ran up against the natural food production limits….

              Overcrowding in some territories would have lead to farming in those areas… allowing for much larger populations…

              Onto the treadmill to hell we stepped….

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Onto the treadmill to hell we stepped”

              The game is not played out. It might have been the treadmill to heaven or something much stranger.

              But it’s interesting that farming seems to be wired into human genes, preadapted so we would step on the treadmill. The farming meme didn’t go with the people who moved into the Americas yet they became farmers too.

              Speaking of treadmills and the like, mice and other animals will run on exercise wheels if you set one out in the wild. https://phys.org/news/2014-05-animals-wild-wheel-choice-video.html

              So humans are not the only animals who step on treadmills. 🙂

            • to keep meat clear of domesticated animals you hang it up

              if you build a fire in a cave the roof gets filled with smoke

              that preserves the meat and allows humans to learn how to survive lean times

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “the roof gets filled with smoke”

              There are some ideas that took an amazing long time to be invented. The chimney is one of them. Last week I was watching a walk through of the Elizabethan world. Houses built in that era had a smoke hole in the center of the house. ” (chimneys) did not become common in houses until the 16th and 17th centuries.”

              Some ten thousand years before some people lived in houses where the only in or out was up a ladder to a hole which also let the smoke from a fire out. The recovered burials had so much carbon in their lungs it was visible in the graves.

              That was more or less the situation till about 300 years ago.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              the early Tudor period chimneys were often flammable as well. Clever. Once the fire got into the thats no one survived. The smoke was considered instrumental in the state of poor health back then as well.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” no one survived”

              I don’t see why a fire that started in a chimney would be more dangerous than one that started elsewhere. But (mentioned in several articles) it didn’t take long before people realized that sticks, mud and dung wasn’t good material for chimneys and went to all masonry.

              “state of poor health”

              No kidding. The only thing positive is that the smoke killed a lot of insects.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              It was a typo. No one survived, [I wasn’t there] once the fire got into the thatch, the roof. The chimney fire might not wake you up as the smoke used the chimney [!].The thatch was like a mass of kindling and turned into a conflagration in no time. So I doubt it was much of an exaggeration to say no one survived in spite of the neighbours trying to help.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              Thatch and fires

              There is certainly no lack of fires in thatched homes in the UK. 70 per year a few years ago for example.

              “But According to Period Property UK, there was only one recorded death in a thatched house fire during the entire 20th century, and that was not directly related to the roofing material concerned.”


              Of course smoke alarms came along in the second half of the 20th, but with only one death in the 20th century, they could not have made much difference.

              I think your assumption that no one survived a thatch fire may be a little over the top.

              On the other hand, if you are from the desert southwest of the US, I can see why you might think that. A thatch roof would go up like gasoline in AZ or CA after a long dry spell. But this is the UK where it only stops raining once in a while.

            • ejhr2015 says:

              I’m sure we can argue back and forth for a while. I didn’t make the assumption that “no one survived”. It would be a blanket claim but not unreasonable. I agree about the wet thatch, but only the outer strata would be damp so you wouldn’t have to be in an arid environment for it to burn. The inside would have caught fire first.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              Thatch again

              On the other hand, you may be talking about a specific incident were people died in a thatched roof fire. Those seem to be rare, got a year and place?

            • ejhr2015 says:

              A time and place in the 17th Century. Are you kidding? Don’t lose the plot now!

            • Crates says:

              “If so, it was a really slow response.”

              We must not forget that agriculture could only be possible with the climatic conditions of the Holocene.
              Agriculture is a technological response to the overpopulation that should have occurred with the end of glaciation.


            • agriculture is easily explained..
              gather a bunch of seed bearing plants, and sit round a campfire, in a regular spot. Return to that spot repeatedly and you will see plants growing where you dropped seed the year before.

              How long would it be before it occurred to the hunter gatherer that seeds could be planted in fertile soil–which, around a fire, it certainly would be

    • DJ says:

      If Jared is correct sustainable world population would be 57M.

    • Artleads says:

      “From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species.”

      I sometime wonder if the strong motivation to live isn’t based on the belief by sentient beings that they are the center of the universe.

    • CTG says:

      I love Diamond’s books. This one was written in 1987 when the limits to growth was “not known to exist”

    • Pintada says:

      When Fast Eddie is right, he is right.

      Scott Nearing, Albert Bates, and 90% of the ignorant, posturing, lying, “permaculture” movement are definitely part of the problem.

      The Amazons lived for 5000 years in harmony with their environment as a recognizable well documented civilization because they never settled down. They hunted, gathered and generally enjoyed the freedom that is part of that lifestyle and never planted a seed.
      Mayor, Adrienne (2014-09-22). The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (p. 63). Princeton University Press.

      The American indian hunted and gathered for about 30000 years. They were obviously successful, because in about 400AD …
      “It took these Anasazi farmers more than seven centuries to lay the agricultural, organizational, and technological groundwork for the creation of the classic Chacoan period, which lasted about two hundred years—only to collapse spectacularly in a mere forty.”3
      Stuart, David E. (2014-05-08). Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place, Second Edition (p. 1). University of New Mexico Press.

      Humans could survive and thrive for long periods with a completely stable lifestyle as long as they do not plant that first seed. Now that farmers (and their progeny) have totally ruined the planet, monstrous liers like Albert Bates (following directly in the footsteps of scum like the Nearings have the unmitigated gaul to claim that MORE agriculture will solve all our problems. They are insanity personified.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Much obliged… I’ll get you a complimentary Fast Eddy Fan Club T-Shirt in the mail shortly 🙂

        For those disillusioned Scott Nearing Groupies… I’ll trade you 10 Nearing shirts for one Fast Eddy … I need some rag to clean the s789 out of the chicken shed….

  23. Artleads says:

    “What all these practices and institutions need – what they can’t function without – is constant growth based on ever more leverage and debt. This can’t go on forever. Sooner or later there’s going to have to be a day of reckoning when the whole house of cards comes down. If I were a religious man I’d start praying right about now. Instead, I actually do what the preachers say. Pay cash, live below your means, save for the future, and opt out of the situations that trap you in a dysfunctional living arrangement with no future.”


    • doomphd says:

      good finds, FE and Artleads. i’m picturing in my mind a shotgun loaded with granola. bound to hurt some at close range. birds will eat evidence.

  24. Fast Eddy says:

    In the world’s deepest gold mine, workers will venture 2.5 miles (4 km) below the Earth’s surface to extract from a 30-inch (0.8m) wide vein of gold-rich ore.

    While these depths are impressive, Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes that mining is limited by the frailty of the human body. Going much deeper would be incredibly dangerous, as limitations such as heat, humidity, logistics, and potential seismic activity all become more intense.

    Luckily, the oil industry does not have such human obstacles, and drilling deep into the Earth’s crust is instead limited by a different set of circumstances – how deep can the machinery and technology go before the unfathomable heat and pressure renders it inoperable?

    Have you ever wondered how far down companies have to drill for oil? It’s quite staggering!
    Over the years, companies have had to go further and further into the earth in order to find Earth’s remaining oil and today we are deeper than ever.

    In this piece, we’ll be looking at the Z-44 Chayvo Well, the deepest on the planet, and show you comparisons so you can see clearly just how amazing this feat is.

    We’ll also show you the depth of this well in comparison to the earth’s core. How close does this drill actually get?

    And finally, we’ll outline just how much it costs to pull off the deepest ever oil extraction.

    More https://www.fuelfighter.co.uk/blog/drilling-crude-oil/


    We are a long way from Jed Klampett’s bubbling crude….

    • ejhr2015 says:

      Just a curiosity. Geologists have wondered why we have any gold [and other heavy metals] in the crust at all. When the planet formed all the heavy stuff migrated into the core. There’s estimated to be enough to cover the world’s entire surface with a 4 metre layer. Pity we cannot get at it. The solution was a meteor bombardment 200 million years after the core formed. . So it’s all down to that bombardment.

    • All of these details, and affordability is the limit.

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        I wonder what the extraction costs would be like for this find. Hard to imagine it would make any sense at current prices. Think Hurricane is talking their prospects up to encourage investment:

        “Hurricane Energy’s announcement – coming just days after the Oil and Gas Authority awarded new licences to companies to explore for oil and gas in frontier areas – demonstrates the significant remaining potential of the UKCS.

        “Signs of optimism, mainly led by exploration and production companies, are returning to the basin, which has worked hard to reduce its costs and improve efficiency.

        “However, the UKCS needs fresh investment so it can capitalise on its potential, whether that be from new geological plays, or from enhanced recovery from existing fields.

        “There are still up to 20bn barrels of oil and gas to go after in the UKCS and we believe that makes the basin a very positive investment prospect indeed.


        • If oil companies are going to stay in business, they have to keep adding new fields. It may be a fairly low-cost field (I don’t know), but even if it can be produced at today’s prices, governments can’t get much taxes at today’s level. I am sure that they would be much happier if the price would rise to $100+ plus per barrel.

    • jerry says:

      yep, this is a great find. I had no idea about this at all but no mention if Chayvo is giving Russia any oil or how much. That information would be highly valuable to know.

      • I agree. That is an interesting article about Chayvo. It doesn’t look like an inexpensive project.

        • jerry says:

          Raises questions to doesn’t it about the Russian belief that oil is abiotic?? If that is really the case this well should be paying for itself into perpetuity?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            My belief is that there is an oil factory in the centre of the earth that is elved by elves who make the oil using a secret recipe.

            • thesunisshiningonmars says:

              WRONG! Oompa Loompas run by the nefarious oil gangster Willy Wonka AKA “oil slick Willy”.

  25. Fast Eddy says:


    Yep – it’s gonna be like Little House on the Prairie post BAU…

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Is This The Top? Champagne Shipments To US Reach 2007 Record Highs


    • Little known fact:

      The Ingalls family had 5 daughters.

      Only 1 of them reproduced – Laura Ingalls Wilder.

      Her only child, Rose Lane, had a stillborn child but did not try again, and spent all her time promoting libertarianism, and the Ingalls family line died out.

      But the siblings of Pa Ingalls, who stayed in the city, have descendants.

      Homesteading is not a great way to extend the family line.

      • Provide us with some time lines please.

        Because, the trend of people leaving country side as agriculture became more commodity oriented within global commerce since ~1850s is very known phenomenon. The ratios obviously vary greatly from place to place, but I’d say European countryside has witnessed at least avg 30% pop decline between mid 19th century till ~1945, and it continued still. Moreover, during all that time, the new arrivals in cities multiplied like rabbits in the new place..plus the efficiency gains in fossil fuels powered agro industries, further scaling the numbers towards cities.. hence the situation now..

        After any deeper complex civilization style crash, population tends to partly die off and remnants disperse into the country side again. That’s a law of history. Not saying we are at that point now though.

      • xabier says:

        Up until the mid-19th century and the advent of fairly safe municipal water supplies, you were much better off living as a peasant, enjoying much safer water and probably ample good (ie safe to drink and unadulterated) beer/wine, and less exposure to TB, typhus and syphilis…..

    • Judging from this brief video clip, which in disclaimer might not represent the whole picture, shows there is some quit apparent yet strange ethnic, racial, and body mass index difference between those two groups.

      Frankly, I don’t envision those ~65kg multi ethnic city dwellers making much inroads into postapocalyptic countryside – distributed, gated city state like communities of the other group is likely to former and separate themselves.

      On the other hand, before we even get there, both above mentioned parties will be playing with the shared resources of the society be it mil, police, first responders, etc.
      So, it won’t be initially such a clear cut case, who’s who..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I’d be more worried about the police and military than any other group — they are trained to kill

        • the police and military will fall in behind whoever pays their wages, then when the wages stop they go freelance

          • thesunisshiningonmars says:

            Everyone ignores ethics and fair play for their needs. People need love. They get it from their family and everything and ever body else is fair game. They will stick a dagger in with a smile on their face if it keeps the mortgage paid and the kids in school. Any behavior is justified. Police and military are no different. They will not be teamed if their families are not safe. They will be home protecting what they love. I don’t see them forming a commune. The police “brotherhood” is in its essence based on cash. No cash no “brotherhood”. The police skill set is rather limited in scope. The military, some of them have skills that will come in real handy. Ever played chess with someone much better than you? You try to defend you are careful but then…checkmate. You never saw it coming. Thats what conflict with a soldier with skills is like. The captain sending memos not so much.

  26. Duncan Idaho says:

    If you want to do a bit of exploring, this is fascinating:

  27. Fast Eddy says:

    At the Grim Edge of a Global Problem

    Youth unemployment is a global problem that is already having a major impact on societies and their ability to finance their needs. Youth unemployment is a staggering 54% in Southern Africa. In Greece, it’s 46%, in Spain, 42%, in Italy, 40%, and Iran, 30%.

    Averaged across OECD countries, 14.6% of all youth (some 40 million people) were so-called NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) in 2015. In Southern Europe the share was sharply higher, with between one-quarter and one-fifth of all young people out of work and not in education in Greece, Italy, and Spain.

    In Italy the main reason why so few young Italians are financially independent is they can’t afford it. Of the 15 western European nations ranked in the 2016 Global 50 Remuneration Planning Report, Italy boasted the lowest average salary for full-time jobs aimed at recent graduates: €27,400 a year. That compares to €83,600 in top-placed Switzerland, €51,400 a year in second-ranked Denmark, and €45,800 a year in Germany and Norway.

    Even in Spain, a country that has broken the 20% unemployment barrier three times in the last 30 years and which has been described by one Spanish economics professor as the “worst labor market on Earth,” recent graduates can expect to take home €3,000 more a year than their Italian counterparts.

    The €1,000-a-month Dream

    For unskilled workers, in Spain, Italy and Greece, the jobs reality is even bleaker. In Spain ten years ago, “mileurista” — a term to denote someone earning €1,000 a month — was coined to highlight the plight of young workers with low-paid jobs that could never dream of owning their own flat. Today, with a youth unemployment rate of over 40%, becoming a “milleurista” has become something to aspire to.


    • There is already (speculative unoccupied real estate)
      and will be soonish too many empty/cheap flats anyway:

      Although, the EU in its official documents calls for importing dozens of millions of immigrants from Africa/ME into PIGS helping with the demography shift, i.e. a cunning plan, how these new immigrant’s multiplication consumer effect (and pseudo taxation) will extend the system afloat long enough for the EU bureaucrats pension scheme. What a joke, this will never work out as envisioned..

      • I agree that the minimum distribution is a problem, but I think the issue phases in more slowly that this model suggests. The author assumes 1/15 distribution; in fact, the tables used for distribution are quite slow. They assume “joint life mortality” with another person. If the person is within 10 years of the age of the retiring person, the first year distribution is 3.65% of tax sheltered assets (or 1/27 th). The intent is to distribute the money slowly enough that it can pay a spouse or surviving child for their expected lifetime.

        There is not a one to one correspondence between tax sheltered assets and stock market assets either. And the things that people will sell first will be the things that have least chance of appreciation–for example, bank deposits that are currently earning practically nothing. I am not sure how this will affect the model, but it would seem to be different. Banks don’t “lend out deposits,” so this doesn’t have a direct effect. Most banks are far from lending limits.

    • This is why young adults are not getting married and having children, and buying homes. They can’t afford to. We see this everywhere.

      The Wall Street Journal reported today, Sluggish Housing Recovery Took $300 billion toll on economy, data shows.

      The decline in homeownership rates to near 50-year lows is partly to blame for the U.S. economy’s sluggish recovery from the last recession, new data suggest.

      If the home-building industry had returned to the long-term average level of construction, it would have added more than $300 billion to the economy last year, or a 1.8% boost to gross domestic product, according to a study expected to be released Monday by the Rosen Consulting Group, a real-estate consultant.

      In 2016, total spending on housing declined to 15.6% of GDP, a broad measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., compared with a 60-year average of nearly 19%. The share of spending specifically linked to new-home construction and remodeling likewise declined to 3.6% of GDP, just over half its prerecession peak in 2005.

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