The Economy Is Like a Circus

The economy is like a circus. It comes to town, and eventually it leaves town. We get paid in tickets to this circus. As long as the circus stays in town, we can use our tickets. Once the circus leaves town, we are pretty much out of luck.1

The reason the circus stays in town is because the economy stays in sufficient balance that the economy can go on. This is much like the way many other self-organized systems function. For example, our bodies continue to function as long as there are suitable balances in many different areas (oxygen, food, water, air pressure). Ecosystems continue to function as long as there is sufficient rain, adequate temperatures, and enough sunlight.

There are many different views as to what limits we reach in a finite world. Some people think we will “run out” of oil, or of energy products. Some think that the energy return will fall too low, as measured in some manner. I see the adequacy of the energy return as being very much tied to the financial system. Thus, the forecast by US Atlanta Fed GDPNow indicating that first quarter 2017 US GDP growth will only be 0.5% is likely to be a problem, assuming it is correct.

Our economy operates on economies of scale. Once we get too close to shrinking, or actually start shrinking, we reach a point where the economic circus starts to leave town. At some point, we will discover the circus is gone. The economy we thought we had, will have left us. If some people are survivors, they will need to pick up the pieces and start over with an entirely new system.

What the Economy Needs to Do to Keep Functioning

For our economy to continue functioning, a number of variables are important:

  • Prices of commodities – Prices cannot be too high for the consumer to afford goods made with them. They also cannot be too low for producers. If prices of oil and other commodities are too low for producers (as they are now), producers need to keep raising debt levels to stay in business. There is a risk that production will stop from lack of adequate new investment, or from the bankruptcy of producers.
  • Wages of non-elite workers – These wages need to be high enough so that workers can afford goods made with commodities, such as cars, homes and computers. These big purchases tend to use commodities even after they are made, adding to “demand” for commodities. If commodity prices such as oil are too low (as they are now), it is likely related to the inadequate wages of non-elite workers.
  • Mandatory payments required of non-elite workers, such as taxes, health care, and education – It is not just wages of non-elite workers that are important. So are required payments, such as payments for taxes, healthcare and education. Clearly, the lower these payments are for non-elite workers, the better the economy functions.
  • Interest rates – Low interest rates are helpful for some parts of the economy, while high interest rates are good for other parts. Low interest rates help create affordable monthly payments for goods such as homes and cars. If interest rates decline, the market prices of assets such as real estate, shares of stock, and bonds tend to rise. These rising values are of great benefit to owners of these assets, since they can sell these assets and use the proceeds to add to current consumption. Conversely, high interest rates are important to pension plans and to others depending on investment income. Banks have a problem if there is not a big enough “spread” between short and long interest rates.
  • Increase in debt – An increase in debt indirectly makes the economy “look” much better. Increasing debt acts to raise wages, since some of this growing debt adds to funds available for wages. The higher wages tend to increase demand for goods, and thus indirectly raise commodity prices. A virtuous circle starts, pushing up economic growth, provided an adequate quantity of very cheap energy products is available (under $20 barrel oil, for example) that can be used to make goods and services. Increased debt works less and less well, as the price of energy products increases.
  • Inflation rates – The higher the inflation rate, the easier it is to repay debt with interest, since most debt is not adjusted for inflation. Also, high inflation rates help keep prices of homes and other buildings from falling as they age, making the use of mortgages more feasible. If the price of a commodity, such as oil or coal, is high and then falls, debt based on the prior high value of the commodity is likely to become a problem.
  • Quantity of energy products affordable by economy – It takes energy products to produce goods and services. If the price of commodities is low, it is possible for buyers to purchase a large quantity of these products, even on a low budget. Current relatively low prices tend to help the economy, even if producers cannot afford to make adequate investment in new production with such low prices. Thus, today’s low energy prices make the economy look good for at a short time. Afterwards, the outlook is less rosy.

Ultimately, the issue at hand in determining whether the “circus will leave town” is whether non-elite workers are able to adequately make a living. We know from biology that the return on the labor of animals must be adequate (animals must be able to get enough food by walking, swimming, or flying) or their populations will collapse. The same thing is true for humans. We also know that prior civilizations that collapsed often had wage disparity problems. When this happened, non-elite workers were no longer able to pay adequate taxes. Their nutrition became poorer. They tended to become more susceptible to epidemics. These were things that pushed the economy toward collapse.

The goods and services that non-elite workers can buy with their wages represent the benefits of our fossil fuel powered energy system, as distributed to the most vulnerable workers in the system. Once these benefits start falling too low, the system can no longer function.

There are some indications that benefits are already too low for the economy to keep functioning in a “normal” manner. A major such indication is the fact that energy prices have remained far too low since mid-2014. It is becoming increasingly clear that there really is no oil price which is both high enough for producers and low enough for consumers. We may be living on “borrowed time,” using an increasing amount of debt to support energy producers.

Thus, world economic growth rates may already be too low to keep the world economy operating. Regulators who consider only the US do not seem to understand the world situation. Because of this, they can easily make moves that make the situation worse, rather than better. For example, they have already started raising interest rates and are planning to sell securities currently held by the Federal Reserve.

A Few Graphs Giving Hints of Our Problem

Economists have not understood what our problems really are, so they have tended to omit some important issues from their analyses. I put together a few graphs that might give a little insight as to what is happening.

Interest Paid by Households 

Interest paid by households is important because this money is transferred to banks, insurance companies, and pension plans. It leaves the households who paid this interest poorer. Buying goods using debt is convenient, but it has a cost involved.

BEA Table 7.11 shows a category called, “Interest Paid by Households.” If we compare this to BEA “Wages and Salaries,” we find the relationship shown in Figure 1. Admittedly this is not an exact comparison; there are some people who are not wage earners who are making interest payments, for example. I have not tried to offset “interest paid by households” against “interest received by households,” because the households benefiting from interest payments are likely very different households from those making interest payments. They are likely richer, and at a later stage in their lives.

Figure 1. US Household Interest Paid (from BEA Table 7.11 Interest Paid and Received by Sector and Legal Form of Organization) divided by Wages and Salaries from BEA Table 2.11, “Personal Income and its Disposition.”

The pattern might be described as follows:

  • A rapid run-up in interest payments that took place until about 1986
  • A general flattening, with new peak in 2007
  • A rapid fall starting in 2008

It seems to me that the pattern up to 1986 reflects the general run-up in consumer debt levels during this period. The amount of interest paid is also affected by interest rates, such as ten-year treasury rates.

Figure 2. US Federal Bonds 10 year interest rates. Graph produced by FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data).

Interest rates started falling in 1981. These higher rates only gradually worked their way into the system because many people had bought houses earlier and were able to keep their existing mortgages at low interest rates. The amount of debt outstanding continued to rise, allowing the total amount of interest paid to continue to rise until 1986.

After 1986, rising debt amounts and falling interest rates came closer to offsetting each other (Figure 1). By 2008, the economy was in a severe recession. In order to help get out of the recession, interest rates were lowered through Quantitative Easing. These lower interest rates, besides helping the economy in general, helped oil prices gradually increase back to the $100+ per barrel price level that they needed to be profitable. Oil prices had temporarily dropped below $40 per barrel in December 2008.

Figure 1 shows that interest payments for several years amounted to about 12% of wages for households. Interest payments are now down to 8% of wages. Even at this level they are significant. They are likely higher than this for those with low wages and high debt. If interest rates rise significantly, the most vulnerable are likely to find their discretionary income reduced.

Rising Healthcare Costs 

Figure 3 shows a comparison of US healthcare costs to GDP and to wages. A huge increase in costs is evident in the 2001-2005 periods, and also in the 2008-2010 period, especially compared to wages.

Figure 3. US Healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of wages. Healthcare costs from Wages and salaries and GDP from BEA.

The increase in healthcare costs since 2008 is one of the costs putting pressure on the economy, and leading to a need for lower interest rates.

The Affordable Care Act should be affecting amounts for the latest years, since the ACA started increasing the number of people with insurance starting about 2014.

Figure 4. Kaiser Family Foundation chart of percentages of non-elderly people without healthcare insurance, from this Source.

A person might wonder why 2014 and 2015 costs didn’t rise more, with so many more people added to the system. Perhaps care that was being given “free” by hospitals is now being charged back to patients. Or perhaps many of the people choosing to purchase coverage through the program were already insured elsewhere in the system, so were not really added to the healthcare system through the Affordable Care Act.

One very recent US healthcare change is the addition of an automatic penalty for not having healthcare insurance. This penalty began for tax year 2016, filed in the beginning of 2017. This provision particularly hurts young people, because rates are structured in such a way that the rates for young people subsidize the rates for older people. Thus, young people often find that buying health insurance is far more expensive than their out of pocket costs for health care would have been, without insurance.

Young people who are affected by this new requirement will find that they need to cut back on other expenditures (such as restaurant visits), if they are meet the requirements of the law–either buy healthcare insurance or pay the mandated penalty. This change will begin to adversely affect the economy in 2016. Bigger impacts are likely in early 2017, when taxes are filed.

Falling Wages Relative to GDP, and Rising Wage Disparity

The path to lower wages as a percentage of GDP has been a bumpy one. The general pattern is that when the economy is booming, wages tend to grow as a percentage of GDP. Recession tends to send wages down as a percentage of GDP. US wages seem to have increased somewhat since 2013, perhaps because the price of oil is down, and the US dollar has risen to a relatively high level. This is part of what allows some people to talk about the “tightening labor market,” and gives them confidence in the economy.

Figure 5. US wages and salaries divided by US GDP, based on BEA data.

There has been significant growth in wage disparity since about 1980, both in the US and in many other developed countries. Figure 6 shows some data for the US.

Figure 6. United States Income Distribution_1947-2007 in 2007$. The data source is “Table F-1. Income Limits for Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families (All Races): 1947 to 2007”, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements. Graph is from Wikimedia Commons

As the economy becomes more “complex,” in other words, “specialized,” wage disparity tends to be more of a problem. Work that could previously be done by manual laborers is done by machinery, or is transferred to low wage countries. Many people lose their jobs, and have difficulty finding good-paying replacement jobs. All of this contributes to inadequate wages for non-elite workers.

Role of Inflation and Rising Commodity Prices in the Economy

We rarely stop to think how important inflation is to the economy. For example, if inflation is sufficiently high, it will slightly offset normal depreciation in values of homes and business properties. Thus, home and business property values will tend to slightly rise over time. If banks can count on values of structures rising, rather than falling, over time, lenders can assume that mortgage loans are fairly risk-free, because the lender can count on getting its money back through the sale of the property, if the mortgage-holder defaults.

This same principle holds when energy properties, such as coal mines and oil fields, are financed. As long as energy prices keep rising, there is a good chance loans can be repaid. Once energy prices fall, debt defaults become a problem. Oil exporting countries also find that the taxes they can collect fall significantly. As a result, energy-exporting countries are in a far worse economic position once energy prices fall. Exporters of other commodities, such as metals, have a similar problem if prices fall.

In the last two paragraphs, I mentioned the impact on lenders and governments of rising or falling prices. Owners of properties are also affected by rising or falling prices. If prices rise, these owners can sell their assets, and make a profit. In fact, these owners have often purchased their properties with debt. If the price of the property rises, but the amount of debt is unaffected by inflation, the owner of the property can often get a disproportionate benefit of the price rise. Of course, if the value of a property falls, the property-owner is disproportionately affected by the fall of the price.

We are so used to a rising-price scenario that we have little understanding of how a flat or falling price scenario might work.

To get a little idea of how much inflation has in the past been working through to asset prices in the United States, I looked at some information provided by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. I compared these amounts to GDP, rather than asset prices, to get an idea of how much impact they have, relative to each current year’s activities (Figure 7). There is about $3 of assets of the types BEA analyzes for every dollar of GDP, so the impact, relative to GDP, is about three times as high it would be, relative to the asset prices themselves.

If this same relationship holds elsewhere, a person can see why a commodity-producing country might have a big problem, if the price of that commodity suddenly falls. There is huge “balance sheet” impact that doesn’t directly affect current GDP as reported (since GDP has to do with current goods and services produced). But it can have a major impact on the country, as it goes forward, because affected loans are much less likely to be repaid. Countries often try to be lenient with lenders, hoping that commodity prices will rise again. But if the drop in prices is permanent, countries must use more and more extreme measures to hide the problem of loans that have a low probability of repayment in a low-priced commodity environment. Eventually, these loans seem likely to default, if prices do not rise sufficiently. China and many commodity-exporting countries seem to be affected by this problem.


Figure 7. Changes to US Fixed Assets, based on BEA Table 5.10, Changes in Net Stocks of Produced Assets.

BEA shows three amounts of interest with respect to US assets (Figure 7):

  1. Inflation – Changes in asset values based on changes in the general price level
  2. Re-evaluation total – Changes to asset prices in particular; includes changes because assets are taken out of service because of disaster or because a business is no longer profitable. Note the spikes related to the housing bubble of the 2003-2006 period and the corresponding dip during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
  3. Depreciation – Expected amount of new investment needed to offset “consumption of fixed capital.” This rate is quite high, (about 15.7% of GDP recently) because the asset base includes fairly rapidly depreciating assets, such as cars and computers, besides buildings of all types, and intellectual property such as computer programs.

The last year shown is 2015. Inflation (relative to GDP) was only 1.2%, and the re-evaluation total was only 0.3% of GDP. (Calculated as percentages of the assets involved, these inflation rates would be only a third of these amounts.) These low inflation rates make it very difficult to operate a debt-based economy. A shift from inflation to deflation would be a major problem. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get much inflation, if the wages of non-elite workers remain very low.


We have kept our economy expanding through growing debt use and growing energy use. I described this process in my post, What has gone wrong with oil prices, debt, and GDP growth?

Now we seem to be reaching the end of the line. The economy is getting very close to shrinking. When this happens, we are getting close to economic collapse–the economic circus is starting to “leave town.”

People who think our only problem is “running out” and “high oil prices” don’t see the problems the economy is developing right now. These problems are much more subtle, but they can have a devastating effect. The Federal Reserve talks about inflation rates above 2% being too high, but inflation rates below 2% are at least equally problematic. Somehow, the debt system needs to keep operating for the whole system to work.

We are now at the point where the economy is decidedly unstable. Little things can affect it, like the Affordable Care Act requirement that uninsured people buy healthcare insurance, or pay a penalty. Low commodity prices make debt repayment more difficult in countries producing those commodities.

We should not be too surprised if the economic circus starts to leave town. There are simply too many pieces that are now unstable. The US Government is facing a shutdown in the near future, unless its debt ceiling can be raised and funding can be enacted. The world is depending on China for economic growth, but China’s debt is becoming unmanageably high. Japan’s debt is also unreasonably high. Oil exporters are becoming increasingly unstable, with continued low prices. We can find problems in almost every country of the world. It looks like it is only a matter of time, until one of these problems starts a downward spiral.



[1] Thanks to commenter “Lastcall” for this analogy.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,952 Responses to The Economy Is Like a Circus

  1. ITEOTWAWKI says:

    The delusions in our society are truly on another level…in the past couple of days I met with 2 different clients. Both of them are educated and from upper middle-class backgrounds. I did not bring up at all the stuff we talk about here (don’t want to lose my clients lol), it was just regular chit-chat.

    One client told me that the next thing for humanity, in the very near future, is to send human settlements on Mars.

    The next one, which I just met a few hours ago, said that the next big thing for the Global Economy is AI.

    In both cases I had to keep a straight face and pretend to agree with them. I mean what happened to the few of us realists in this world that see that none of this will come to pass…did our delusion gene switch off in the womb???

    • Cliffhanger says:

      I wonder the exact same thing the other day. Why is it that some people can handle these subjects and even discuss them. While the majority are not mentally able to handle it?

      • dolph says:

        As an internal medicine doctor, I’ve been up close and personal with death. When you deal with death on a daily basis, it hits home that our mortality rate is 100%. There’s no gong back after that, you view the world differently.

        By the way, not all physicians actually deal with death these days, since technology has progressed to the point that people are kept alive longer and longer. By the time a case is hopeless, the patient is shifted onto a nursing home or hospice somewhere, and all the prior physicians have wiped their hands clean. So there is delusion even in medicine. What else is industrial medicine other than delusion: the idea that you can cure all diseases and achieve immortality?

        • At least back in the 1940s and 1950s, we didn’t have the delusion we could cure everything. Now I think both patients and doctors are deluded.

          Most people think that doctors can do more than they really can do. Improved sanitation and antibiotics have done more to help life expectancy than medicine in general, from what I have seen.

        • greg machala says:

          And would a person really want to live 100 plus years if it is just a struggle to survive?

    • We can get there by bringing society back to 1910, eliminate consumption in third world and most of first world and only use the resources for scientific and tech advances.

    • JT Roberts says:

      Interesting what is the definition of hypocrisy?

      Just sayin

      I spend my life telling people the truth regardless of the consequences.

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        Man’s got to earn a living JT while BAU is in place…and the Finance Industry (of which I work in) is the LAST place to talk about our predicament (if I want to keep my job, which I do)….

    • We seem to have everyone participating in the same delusion, from government officials, to teachers, to editors of magazines and newspapers. No one can admit that there might be a problem.

    • MM says:

      I call this “internet information” The internet creates it’s own universe of knowledge. As everybody is tightly knit into it, most people do not realise that their brains are in a state of Bose-Einstein-Condensate. They are all (being!) synchronised and do not realise it.

  2. JT Roberts says:

    And planes should we check trains?

    • I thought the big impetus for more airplane orders was a desire to switch to more fuel-efficient airplanes, if oil prices are high. Oil prices are not high, and it is hard to see them going much higher. So even if airlines ordered them, it shouldn’t be too surprising if they cancel their orders. It would only be if they saw expanding markets, that they would need to actually add to the size of their fleet.

  3. JT Roberts says:

    Looks like the auto bubble has busted.

    • A person wonders how the Federal Reserve could be talking about two more interest rate increases between now and the end of the year. Don’t they look at what is happening in the real world?

      • Miha M says:

        This is because you believe that most global events are random things that happen on their own. They were making up phony reasons to keep interest rates at zero for 8 years when they could have and should have hiked and they are coming up with phony excuses to hike it now. FED is playing a role in this game and they want economy to crash in 2017/2018.

        • You are assuming the FED has some idea of what they are doing. I think that they are clueless. They don’t realize how weak the economy is.

          • Greg Machala says:

            I think the FED is loosing control. At first (2008-2014) I think they had a loose handle on things. But, at this late stage (when diminishing returns are really biting hard) they are going to start trying random things to see what happens. It is like that episode on Star Trek original series where the Enterprise was being pulled in to the center of a massive amoeba (LOL) and reverse thrust didn’t work. Spock said something like “Well Mr. Scott if reverse thrust isn’t working try forward thrust”. Sure enough that worked! Maybe Yellin is a fan of the original Star Trek series.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The CBs have done an incredible job in macro-managing this crisis…

              They stood tall in guaranteeing all financial institutions in 2008…. they drove interest rates to record low levels which has allowed debt (personal, corporate, sovereign) to increase without collapsing the global economy…. they have prevented the stock market from collapsing (and literally thousands of corporations from bankruptcy) by making low interest cash available for buy backs… they have made it possible for fracking to happen… they made the boom in auto sales possible… no doubt they are manipulating the price of oil … not too high not too low….

              This is a short list of actual actions they have taken we know about — that have resulted in nearly another 10 years of BAU….

              If anyone thinks that they do not know what they are doing and that they are not aware of what the problem is …

              Then the onus is on said people to explain what the CBs should have done and should be doing that would more effectively extend the life of BAU.

              Perhaps this is worthy of an entire article?

              I would not be able to contribute to any ideas on this subject because it is rather presumptuous for me to think that I would have any answers considering there is without question a large team of highly intelligent people working day and night trying to buy us another year … another month… another week….

              From what I can see — they have so far done a masterful job. Who would have thought we’d be here 10 years after what happened in 2008

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Agree – at some point their macro management policy of floating all boats … will fail.

              The auto industry is a good example — it is possible to grow the industry by lowering loan standards — lowering interest rates — extending the amortization period of the loans….

              But eventually you run up against limits…

              It appears we have run up against the limits on this one…. if auto sales really start to tumble in the coming months I am not sure what the CBs can do…. at the end of the day they need to sell more cars… if people are unable to afford more cars… the industry will collapse… it will take down the banks… it will be a bullet in the head of BAU

        • psile says:

          This is nonsense. The Fed and indeed all central banks have clearly one goal in mind. The preservation of the status quo, at all costs. The battle against deflation for the past nearly 10 years indicates this, indeed the fight has been going on since at least the crash of 1987, when the plunge protection team was put into place to shore up stock prices.

          For a descent into asset deflation will not only crash the economy, but the entire project of modern civilisation, with the elite at the top. That’s not to say that they can prevent this eventuality. It’s a certainty, as sure as night follows day. The laws of physics demand it. But that doesn’t mean they won’t do whatever’s possible in the realm of the human financial and political construct, to forestall it’s occurrence for as long as possible.

          • Greg Machala says:

            I agree that deflation will be fought tooth and nail. ANYTHING will be done to stop a deflationary death spiral. No matter how insane it is. Even nuclear war. Whatever it takes. Bernanke seemed to agree.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      These are shocking numbers….

      Reuters reports Automakers’ April U.S. Sales Drop; Wall St. Fears Boom is Over.

      GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, reported a 6% decline in April sales to 244,406 vehicles.
      Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, reported a 7.2% decline in April. Ford car sales dropped 21% and trucks declined 4.2%, while SUV sales rose 1.2%.
      Toyota reported a drop of 4.4%. Lexus sales slid 11.1%. U.S. car sales at the Japanese automaker were down 10.4%, while truck sales were up 2.1%.
      Fiat-Chrysler reported sales were off 7%

  4. JT Roberts says:

    Looks like oil prices are continuing there lower trend despite top chop. Playing out as predicted.

  5. MM says:

    I recently read a new study about how my county should go on 100 % renewables until 2050.
    That rose a question in me when it is so easy, why has this not been thought of and done before ?
    So I did a google scholar search and found this (example):
    “Le Groupe de Bellevue, A. L. T. E. R. “A study of a long-term energy future for France based on 100% renewable energies. Reprinted in The Yearbook of Renewable Energies 1995/96 (1995).” (1978).”
    So this article was first published in 1978, 40 years ago and where is France now ?
    Even if it was technically possible then, there must have been other factors at play (uhm, Gail?) why it did not happen. People only have the short view of the internet when they look at things but we actually have a vast history. When you took a historic perspective, we should have been at 100% renewables right now (Hirsch report comes to my mind)…

    Yes, but , but , but this time, it will be different!

    • Greg Machala says:

      I am 100% certain every county on Earth will be running on 100% renewables in 2050. Such high tech renewables such as: coconuts, berries, pecans, peanuts and, if your lucky, milk!

  6. Cliffhanger says:

    BP finds trove of oil in Gulf of Mexico using new subsea imaging

    (More total bullshit. We’ve getting seismic data from below salt for more then 20 years. And this is enough oil to last the world 2.4 days hardly a “Trove”. )

    • Oil under a salt dome is too expensive for the consumer, even if you have better imaging to see where it is. Notice how badly Brazil has been doing lately? A fair amount of their oil is under a salt dome. It is basically too expensive to extract. Or if it is extracted, the company needs the full price for its costs. This leaves the government of Brazil without the taxes it depends upon for its purposes (like the Olympics). So the government has to cut way back on its programs.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Oil needs to get easier to extract with time (not harder). Oooops…diminishing returns strikes again.

  7. i1 says:

    Well, I could only make it to the 1:43 mark. Perhaps others can do better.

    • Greg Machala says:

      I can’t even bring myself to press play. Its like a wind-up toy that you are sick of hearing. Or, that stupid toy you had as a kit where you point the dial to an animal sound and pull the string. It becomes boring and predictable.

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        Elon Musk + TED presentations = Peak Delusions

      • don’t knock anything that proves your own sanity

      • psile says:

        It’s a toss up between who is the more deluded, Musk, or the techno-junkies infesting the comments section. Phew…

        • Kurt says:

          He’s a visionary.

          • Greg Machala says:

            He is a visionary with insufficient resources to carry out his vision. Is it just me or does Elon look like he could be from just about any ethnic origin. He just looks odd. He could be Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German. It is just a weird name and a weird look. Or, is it just me?

            • xabier says:

              Yes, Greg, he’s everyone and no one, an ideal canvas for self-projection.

              We really must salute the disciples of Bernays: Musk is a supreme creation!

              Nothing has more convinced me that the end is rather near than the appearance of this propaganda confection -why else bother to create him as a distraction?

            • Bergen Johnson says:

              He was born Joe Smith out of Scranton, Ohio – lol. Just never lost that wild imagination of infancy before getting off knees to stand up. I particularly like the underground tunnels bit. “It will need to be done cheaper, 10x’s cheaper.” Ok, Elon.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I think has a bit of Martian in him…

          • JT Roberts says:

            Charles Manson is a visionary as well.

          • psile says:

            In the rear view mirror…

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          I went to the comments section after you posted your comment…Wow, the masses are truly and absolutely clueless about the predicament we find ourselves in…he is truly venerated as a God…the God of Delusion that is…

          • psile says:

            When the end comes people will never know what shattered their lives and countries. The knives will be out, I guarantee it. Delusion will reign until the bitter end…

        • Joel says:

          Had to check out the comments section as well, he does have quite a following. Thought I would copy a few examples, thanks for the comments tip! Not sure as a doomer that I can appreciate the full Elon experience.

          Favs from comments section:

          This man is everything I ever wanted to be.

          Elon will save us. I believe!!

          Thank you so much Elon for the value you provide society

          Elon, pls adopt me. I’ll be a good boy.

          Every time I watch a Elon video I feel like I become way smarter than before.

          I think the world is just witnessing the 1st time-traveler return from future: elon musk

          I would like to see Elon getting involved into medicine to cure diseases and bring innovation in this field. Just imagine the idea of getting inside a pod when ill and then getting out cured.

          I’m hyped about the electric semi. If you look at a breakdown of the transportation sector by CO2 emissions, personal cars are only a 30% share of the pie. Heavy duty trucks take up 20% and light trucks take up another 30%.

          • ITEOTWAWKI says:

            Comment that just popped up on the video:

            “Elon Misk (sic), the Grandfather of the future. He will be remembered thousands of years from now.”


          • psile says:

            Technophilia at it’s most horrid I’m afraid. The truth is that since 99.9% live in willful denial, or simple stupidity, they will not see the end when it comes. Even though the minority, like us, can see it coming in plain sight. Naturally they will search in all the wrong places for the answer as to what killed them and civilisation and will go to early graves always with the belief that a “big man” like Musk, or techno-fix will save their hides.

      • T.Y. says:

        You win hands down, made it til 0:53 🙂

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        That is why I use a Tor Browser.
        I can’t view it, as java script is disabled, and I’m emerging from Romania.

    • Joel says:

      I too did not press the play button, will save it for a special occasion. Having achieved enlightenment myself many years ago, its exciting to see a man transcend to such an exalted state of existence. Its time we all bow down in unison to this great visionary.
      Though much too small for Elon, something similar to the venue pictured below comes to mind.
      Most thankful to this site for its tireless promotion of this great man! One must focus on these important things…

    • xabier says:

      It’s so palpably false: he’s rather a poor actor.

      But the audience don’t care, they seem all too eager to applaud.

    • Greg Machala says:

      I found the perfect trailer for Elon’s talk:

      • Kurt says:

        Remember, it’s better because his tunnel system is 3d???

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Jim Jones was a visionary … to many…

          I wonder if Elon will feed his followers purple juice when Tesla implodes…

          I note their April sales declined again — to a whopping 3000+ total vehicles sold in the US.

          • Greg Machala says:

            Wowza. 3000units in April. Crickey that sucks. How in the hell do they pay the bills? Oh silly me, they don’t. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

            • Jesse James says:

              I was talking to a younger man while riding on a ski lift about solar power. He commented about how Tesla’s solar company “had a great website” etc. I commented back that if the government gave me $500M in free money I could build a “great website” too. His praise for Tesla was kind of muted after that exchange.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              When we look at the cash flow statement, Tesla reported operating cash flow of negative $70 million. However, this number was helped tremendously by a $465 million increase in accounts payable and accrued liabilities. Tesla again let its outstanding bills increase, making operating cash flow look better than it was.


    • Ed says:

      Elon will fail because he is too timid. The place for solar power is geosynchronous orbit. The place to get the materials to build with is the moon as explained by O’Neil in the 70s. Now with AI building the moon mines, refineries, and mass drivers will be even easier with a lower barrier to entry.

  8. Harry Gibbs says:

    Orgy of buybacks running out of steam as authorisations hit lowest in five years:

    “Goldman sees buyback growth of just 2% this year, down from 30% the team previously expected.”

  9. Harry Gibbs says:

    “Japan’s total oil sales in the fiscal year ended March 31 fell to the lowest in more than 46
    years, trade ministry data showed, reflecting a gradual decline in demand amid a falling population and a shift to more efficient vehicles and equipment.

    “Japan’s total oil sales fell 2 percent to 3.05 million barrels per day (176.88 million kilolitres), marking the lowest annual volumes in database that goes back as far as 1970/71, an
    official with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said…”

  10. Fast Eddy says:

    45% Of Americans Spend Up To Half Their Income Repaying Credit Card Debts

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Americans are in more massive debt than ever

      • The last time debt turned down, the Great Recession happened at the same time.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          Things that can’t go on, won’t.

          • Greg Machala says:

            I agree. It seems like we have been officially not in a recession for about 8 years now. . Historically, we have recession about every 3 or 4 years. But, it seems that the Fed is intervening more and more to stave off recession ever since the period starting after the events of 9/11. And especially since the crash in 2008. So, we have had an unusually long period of time where we have not been officially in recession. So, in that respect we are overdue.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I suspect a recession would bring down the house of cards — therefore everything possible is being done to fend of negative growth.

              This guarantees that once a recession hits that the CBs have nothing left in the tool kit to reverse course – because they will have used up every tool trying to prevent the recessionary outcome…

              Then we get The Deflationary Death Spiral – the collapse of BAU — and 7.5 billion+ funerals

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              FE says: “Then we get The Deflationary Death Spiral – the collapse of BAU — and 7.5 billion+ funerals”

              Exactly FE…I am really perplexed how “slow staircase collapsers” don’t get this…talking about many years or even worse decades for this to play out is completely ludicrous!!!!

              Maybe they just do not want to face the grim reality that we are about to die…anyway I am at the acceptance phase and as such savour completely every day BAU is here…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I was just in Mammon aka Hong Kong enduring endless conversations about how much money everyone is making at the moment…

              Most of these people understand that this is a bubble and that it will end badly…

              So I suggested — what’s the point of making all this money if it is going to be vapourized… doesn’t it make sense to blow at least some of it asap?

              I never got a reasonable response to that… and of course nobody is going to take my advice…

              Like rats running round and round on a wheel….

              I am finding myself increasingly separated from those in the matrix… to the point where I am becoming completely disinterested in their conversations… if I have to hear another comment about how difficult it is to get little Johnny into one of the better kindergartens I might have to blurt out – don’t sweat it — Johnny is going to be dead soon…

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Same here FE…I’m also at a point that, even though I still enjoy my job and all the perks that come with it, it’s getting harder and harder for me to wake up for it every morning…especially since I am debt-free and have more money than I will ever be able to spend before this whole show blows up…as for people talking about their offspring…I avoid them like the plague….I am tired of the cluelessness in our society…and anyone bringing in a human to this world at this stage of the game is really totally clueless…

  11. jerry says:

    “we need debt levels to rise substantially every year, for economic growth to occur. In fact, we need a greater and greater rise in debt, each year, for a given amount of GDP growth.”

    Okay imagine 4 billion dollars for a train station in New York, and then a national railway system on the verge of falling apart? NUTS!!!!

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      The Amtrak-funded project will cost “tens of millions of dollars.”

      • Artleads says:

        Puzzling. Funding Amtrak could be one of the better ways to keep “BAU” going while lowering costs for road maintenance, etc.? Could it be done a lot more cheaply though…? You could remove all the frills of a high cost station (done for the sake of mass delusion?) and just have a factory-like space that keeps temps manageable and things from flying off where they ought not to.

        • Greg Machala says:

          It seems to me that funding profligate waste might be more apt to keep BAU going rather than would funding Amtrak. Everything is working in reverse. Doing things cheaply crashes they economy. Saving money crashes the economy. So spend moar! Oh, you don’t have any money to spend. No problem, use credit. Credit is maxed out. Limit raised. We hit the debt ceiling. Raise the debt ceiling. Buy a house. WooHoo party on revelers.

  12. Cliffhanger says:

    Saudis take 100% control of America’s largest oil refinery

    • Greg Machala says:

      Probably part of the Saudi strategy to diversify out of oil LOL

      • please do not LOL

        diversifying out of oil is exactly what they are doing—and buying oil refineries.

        I got a big fat fee for giving them that advice, you’re just jellus

        • Greg Machala says:

          Jellus, me, Shirley you can’t be serious. I just called up my buddy Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and gave him even better advice: decouple energy from your economy and print Riyal and become infinitely wealthy.

  13. dolph says:

    There’s a very high level of human know how and productivity in the West and East Asia that can’t be replicated everywhere in the world.
    I predict that such places as the Middle East and Africa, as examples, will never become big manufacturing centers.
    If that is biased or “racist” or whatever, so be it.

    • ARBP says:

      Geology and climate wouldn’t support industrialization efforts in the Middle East or Africa.
      The development already done in Africa has unleashed a couple of nasty viruses into the human population: Ebola, and AIDS…

    • Artleads says:

      But what has that know how been used to do?

  14. Lastcall says:

    Pretty good summary, just thought I would share..

    ‘I am constantly amazed by the ability of those in power to create a narrative trusted by a gullible non-critical thinking populace. Appealing to emotions, when you have millions of functionally illiterate, normalcy bias ensnared, iGadget distracted, disciples of the status quo, has been the game plan of the Deep State for the last century. Americans don’t want to think, because thinking is hard. They would rather feel. For decades the government controlled public education system has performed a mass lobotomy on their hapless matriculates, removing their ability to think and replacing it with feelings, fabricated dogma, and social indoctrination. Their minds of mush have been molded to acquiesce to the narrative propagandized by their government keepers.’

    I used to be constantly amazed but now not so much. Its a fairly dense and noisy in-your-face matrix, with plenty of smoke and not much space allowed for thoughtful reflection. Event after event distracts from truth and discards facts for narrative.

    Our National Radio (RNZ) has been going through a changing of the guard as it aims to bolster its audience share of Millennial ‘hearts and minds’ and thus the new hosts’ are a younger demographic. One of them was just introduced to the concept of the ‘Military Industrial Concept’ on air by an anti-nuclear activist.

    Over the weekend there was some talk on inflation through product shrinkage and the announcer asked for examples to be sent in. I was sorely tempted to text in ‘Radio NZ – its become a lot shallower’ …but why bother.

    I am betwixt/between Miileneial/boomer.

    • Siobhan says:

      Gen X

      • Lastcall says:

        Ha thanks; latchkey for sure! We had 18-20% mortgage rates so both parents worked. Was okay in NZ until half them divorced as a result of stresses/taste of financial freedom.

    • There were a lot of things going on, mostly have to do with increasing complexity, growing wage disparity, growing use of debt, less concern for the family as the central unit, and growing role of television,

      After WWII, there was a general trend toward everyone getting richer, thanks to growing cheap energy supplies. At the same time, communities were pretty homogeneous. People would have friends within their own religious/cultural group.(Catholics and protestants didn’t mix much, for example. The US South had separate schools for black children and white children.) Communities were pretty small, so people know a lot of their neighbors, and teachers knew the families of their students. Television was pretty rare, so people could spend spare time thinking or talking. Families had a lot of children, and they all played outside, so parents got to know the parents of other children. People tended not to lock their doors. High school was sufficient education to get a good job. High school was provided free, so in some sense, nearly everyone could be close to equal, with government-provided benefits (except black and whites were not really equal because of differing school qualities, and women were mostly in a few jobs specifically advertised as “Jobs for Women.” Women stayed in women only dorms in college, and there were “house mothers” who made certain that women obeyed the rules.

      Then gradually things changed. I think you could call it a great deal more complexity arrived. Interstate highways went through in the 1960s, connecting small towns with cities. Blacks started figuring out that they were being left behind on the “progress,” and we had the Watts, California race riots of 1965. Women had more opportunities to work outside the home. Contraceptives became more available, and there was publicity about the population explosion that was happening. Bussing was implemented in US cities, to integrate black and white communities. Quite a few white families moved to distant suburbs to avoid the impact of busing. The wife needed to work to be able to afford the new house in the suburb. People became too busy to know their neighbors. People had fewer children, and the children were often in day care, rather than running around the neighborhood. (Perhaps some of this was in the 1970s as well.)

      Wages tended to rise with inflation during the 1970s. But there were a lot of things that went wrong in the 1970s–exploding oil pries; oil shortages; Richard Nixon’s impeachment; Spiro Agnew’s resignation as Vice President after he was charged with accepting bribes; Jimmy Carter being given the presidency after Nixon’s impeachment and Agnew’s resignation; and Jimmy Carter being convinced that we all would need to wear sweaters and have solar panels. There was a major effort undertaken to move to more fuel efficient cars, and to shift electricity away from oil to nuclear.

      If I remember correctly, Ronald Reagan was the first divorced president, in 1981. He shifted the emphasis to growing the economy using debt, rather than US wages keeping up with inflation. Jobs tended to get shipped to lower cost countries–whatever was best for business. By this time, television was very widespread, and in color. Citizens without college educations were starting to get squeezed.

      Since then, we have added more and more complexity, and the state of general morality has tended to go downhill.

      • Lastcall says:

        My other thought is that (80’s NZ) educational institutions were encouraged to top up funding by partnering with industry; we had our ‘Rogernomics’ at about the same time as Thatcherism.
        There became less focus on public goods and more on market discipline so educational horizons shrank to match economic imperatives. More universities expanded the management / marketing side and academic papers were less blue-sky, more balance-sheet.
        I guess you could say it reached full-bloom in NZ when our recent Prime Minister, a child of the welfare system and the childhood beneficiary of public housing returned from a stellar career in the ‘City’ to be elected PM. The sell-off of public goods was perfectly framed by the sale of the ‘State house’ which he lived in as a child. Barely a month after this he tended his resignation. Job done perhaps?!

      • ARBP says:

        Anyone who presents a narrative similar to yours is labelled a racist in today’s political climate. The march towards more and more social complexity is believed by many to be a good thing. Growing awareness of differences among different groups of people is believed to be a good thing because many people think we can eliminate these differences by some form of social engineering (wealth redistribution, affirmative action) to create equal economic and social outcomes.

      • Slow Paul says:

        Regarding children playing outside, seems like increased car traffic (particularly from families with several cars driving to work/store/kindergarden/school/activities) has made the streets less safe for the children of said families. So parents keep their children more indoors or they build playgrounds in their own backyards. Less social interaction ensues.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      To summarize:

      Most people are stupid.

      • T.Y. says:

        I have a flashback to one of those “construction safety certification exams”, i was stationed on a UK wharf and needed to get one of those (even though i was mostly office-based). The exam was almost insultingly simple. For each question you had max. something like 30 seconds or so, but me and my colleague were in and out in a breeze. Nevertheless most of the room was still in front of the multiple-choice computer screens when we left. Engrossed in what looked like philosophically puzzling issues. It was one of the first times that it started to dawn on me that stupidity is far more widespread than had initially assumed.

  15. Bergen Johnson says:

    Trump wants to raise fuel tax to pay for infrastructure. Sounds like another nail in the oil industry coffin as it will incentivize sales of EV’s and hybrids.

    • Greg Machala says:

      I wish the fuel tax was 4x what it is now. Just too many obnoxious gas guzzling jacked up 4wd boy toys here. Then there are the diesel trucks blowing black clouds of smoke on purpose to show-off the bonfire they have under the hood. It is getting ludicrous what people are doing to trucks here in West Texas. What used to be workhorse diesel trucks (tandem axle “dually” trucks) are now waxed show pieces with leather seats, 22″ chrome wheels, turbo upgrades and 12″ diameter chrome tail pipe. The wheels on these rigs are so massive that they stick out of the rear fenders! As if the fender flares on these trucks are not big enough the tire and wheels are sticking (sometimes a foot) outside of the fender well. It is completely out of control.

      • xabier says:

        Artleads could turn that thing into a house and community garden. 🙂

      • Lastcall says:

        My first thought; Road Spikes! Take a while to change 8 tyres!

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        Do you think the driver of the truck hangs out on sites like OFW? 😉

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If you see one of those in a parking lot…. be sure to run your key across the paint job… in a forceful manner.

        • Artleads says:

          LOL!…although I didn’t expect to hear this!

          • doomphd says:

            Here’s what to do: you take that baby out in the middle of a hot day, fire up the AC, and drive it a few miles to a local fast food restaurant, where you wait in the car cue for your order, windows up and stereo blasting. Feel the power…enjoy the waste.

    • Raising the fuel tax will push oil prices even lower, pushing the world economy toward collapse, I am afraid. In theory, the tax on fuels could be “revenue neutral,” but in fact, we need debt levels to rise substantially every year, for economic growth to occur. In fact, we need a greater and greater rise in debt, each year, for a given amount of GDP growth.

      I don’t think EVs and Hybrids will benefit. There will simply be fewer people employed, and few cars and houses in total sold.

  16. Cliffhanger says:

    May is here and the weather is nice. But just remember A calm surface is exactly what Black Swans like to land on. So enjoy the festivities around the Maypole today, and the suddenly calm waters of global affairs, and keep your ears pricked for the sound of wings flapping!


  17. jeremy890 says:

    For these people, what Fast Eddy recognizes as truely eco-sustainable living, BAU collapse could not happen fast enough!
    Brazil: Government abandons uncontacted tribes to loggers and ranchers

    26 April, 2017
    Uncontacted tribes, like this one pictured in aerial footage seen around the world in 2011, now face genocidal attacks as Brazil’s government slashes funding for protection of their land.
    Uncontacted tribes, like this one pictured in aerial footage seen around the world in 2011, now face genocidal attacks as Brazil’s government slashes funding for protection of their land.
    © G.Miranda/FUNAI/Survival
    All the government units currently protecting Brazil’s uncontacted tribes from invasion by loggers and ranchers could be withdrawn, according to information leaked to Survival International. The move would constitute the biggest threat to uncontacted Amazon tribes for a generation.
    Agents from FUNAI, the country’s indigenous affairs department, perform a vital role in protecting uncontacted territories from loggers, ranchers, miners and other invaders. Some teams are already being withdrawn, and further withdrawals are planned for the near future.
    Thousands of invaders are likely to rush into the territories once protection is removed.
    There are estimated to be over 100 uncontacted tribes in Brazil, well over two-thirds of the global population of uncontacted people. Many of them live in indigenous territories, which total over 54.3 million hectares of protected rainforest, an area about the size of France.
    These territories are guarded by just 19 dedicated FUNAI teams. It is possible that all 19 teams could be eliminated from the Brazilian state budget, despite the fact that money spent maintaining these teams is equal to the average salaries and benefits paid to just two Brazilian congressmen per year.

    So called Wildlife Preserves, National Parks, Indigenous home land areas (Indian reservations), are just a farce and pretending action of conservation. When required for “growth” for either resources,
    Corporate projects, or as an outlet for the human Hoard in urban slums, they are opened to DEVELOPMENT and PROGRESS.
    That is what the founders of EARTH FIRST! When Dave Foreman realized as in this Mother Earth interview

    While in Washington, I came to realize that, because of the rules we were playing by, we were being lobbied more effectively than we were lobbying. We’d go in to do business with administration officials — even those who were supposedly friendly toward the environment — and come out the losers almost every time.

    As an example of how it often went, I’ll mention an episode with Rupe Cutler. Rupe was assistant secretary of agriculture at the time, and thus presided over the U.S. Forest Service. He was also a former assistant executive director of The Wilderness Society, so naturally we thought, “Oh boy, here’s someone in the administration we can talk to. He’s one of us! ”

    Consequently, with our hopes up and our defenses down, we went in to talk to him about problems with RARE II — the second Roadless Area Review and Evaluation Act, which had to do with deciding which national forest roadless areas would receive the protection of official wilderness designation and which would not. But instead of being responsive to the needs of the environment, Cutler said something like, “Well, you know, the president is in real political trouble in the West. The timber industry is coming down on his head…the miners here…the ranchers there…the off-road people everywhere. You guys need to back off a little and give us some room to maneuver politically.”

    And it happened like that time and time again; we’d come out of those meetings having made all the concessions, rather than having gained any. We bent over backward to be reasonable and credible and politically pragmatic. And by contrasting that timid stance with the emotional, hard-line, no-compromise approach taken by the mining, timber and livestock industries, and by the off-road vehicle people in their lobbying efforts, it wasn’t hard to figure out why they were winning and we were getting only the crumbs, if that

    • Artleads says:

      “We bent over backward to be reasonable and credible and politically pragmatic. And by contrasting that timid stance with the emotional, hard-line, no-compromise approach taken by the mining, timber and livestock industries, and by the off-road vehicle people in their lobbying efforts, it wasn’t hard to figure out why they were winning and we were getting only the crumbs, if that”

      Apart from Muslims, We don’t hear of too many people who willingly give their lives to uphold their cause. But I doubt there’s a better way to do it. Timidity and trying to reason with TPTB are totally futile. And if you or what you value most are on the firing line anyway, then firing back as best you can might well be the plan. People should at least realize that they are in a war. Unfortunately, only the side that brought it–all the while making it seem that it is NOT a war, a naked war, war plain and simple–seems determined to fight it.

      • Artleads says:

        When you consider 5 million Congolese alone killed in fighting over whatever to make computers and stuff since the 90’s, we should see that as a holocaust similar to the murder of Jews in WWII. The slaughter in the third world continues, but no one is calling or dealing with it as a war. Victims are simply incited to fight and kill each other. Very handy for the “perpetrators.” But fighting back is not only natural; it is perhaps the only way to gain some of the desired ends. The arms industry doesn’t care who it sells arms to. Why are those who defend indigenes not making deals with the arms industry? Buying weapons, transporting them to the tribes, training the tribes to use them, etc.?. This would have economic benefits to BAU, I would think. But it would also be the practical and moral thing to do.

        • the original economic equation that drove the slave trade was:
          guns and other metal goods made in Europe

          then shipped to Africa in exchange for slaves captured by Africans
          Who then proceeded to use those guns to capture more slaves

          Slaves were then shipped to the Americas to convert sugar cane etc into condensed energy forms, Rum, Sugar, which were the shipped back to Europe to complete the “energy triangle”

          the same thing still goes on today—we just have a different name for it.

        • xabier says:

          It would certainly be gratifying to see them hit back, or at least go down magnificently. However, perhaps there are just too few of them and the infrastructure too sparse to make that sort of resistance possible? Any experts of Maoist strategy out there?

          The SAS I was told used to have -maybe still do – a quote from Mao put up in their base for inspiration: ‘So long as there is one soldier and he has a gun, victory is inevitable!’ Or something of the kind.

          Africans are very numerous, to say the least, with a fantastic birth-rate to replace losses, and are therefore almost infinitely expendable to those who cynically play these games and profit from them. Endless supply of hands reaching out for an endless supply of guns….

          • Artleads says:

            Sure. But it’s close to being like that now. And Africa is losing its megafauna, without which, IMO, it is dead. So a war to protect the indigenous must also be a way against poachers and hunters. But the megafauna come first.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Do you have children – grand children?

              If you are against extinction sure you can kill poachers… but that’s a little inconvenient – and dangerous…

              So why not start at home. Take a pillow — and smother your children.

              Or perhaps you could push them off a cliff —- better still… join hands with them jump to your death.

              Do the animals a favour — kill a human today

              How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction

            • Artleads says:

              “Do you have children – grand children?”

              I just want poachers killed for the principle of it! Since it hasn’t been tried on a massive scale, let’s see how it turns out. You simply can’t understand. Just like I can’t understand economics or money. If you think money is everything, try eating it.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Why are you picking on poachers? They are responsible for extincting very few animals….

              On the other humans in general are extincting many thousands of animals…

              If you really want to have an impact you really need to kill babies. Get them before they start consuming … before they stake out their piece of land for their home….

              Money = food.

              Madame Fast is at the grocery store now .. she will be trading her Rupiah notes for food. I cannot wait for her to return because I asked her to buy me some coffee — I have not had any yet and it is past noon… I am beginning to shake…. and sweat….. So you see money is important… very important

              You can of course try to grow your own food…. I don’t suggest relying on eating only what you grow….I doubt that will end well

        • Fast Eddy says:

          There is no good or bad…. only interests… and the primary interest of every human on this planet is living large…. even if that means others suffer

          The Congolese would do the exact same thing to others — if they could.

          • Artleads says:

            It’s probably not that simple.

            “If you really want to have an impact you really need to kill babies. Get them before they start consuming … before they stake out their piece of land for their home….”

            That’s WAAAAY too slow for the elephants. I trust they’d much prefer we kill the poachers now. THEIR interests require that we don’t go back to square one and figure out a better global system (although that might have some benefits down the line). They’re not in the slightest bit interested in us returning to the garden of eden and figuring a better path. It’s now or never for them. Like having an immediate antidote to a venom. Now! Today! Emergency! Triage!.

            Anyway, just so’s not to keep jangling your nerves (unaccountably jangled by the killing of poachers), I’ll ban myself from FW through summer solstice and focus on growing some food. 🙂

            • Fast Eddy says:

              To be fair …. you’d have to kill millions of babies to make a difference….

              Where is Maddy when we need her

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      Unfortunately history is replete with billions of examples that people only respect other people that are recurringly in their faces demanding rights and speak the same language. This is partly why animal species are going extinct so fast and why uncontacted tribes have no power or rights. It follows the path of least resistance. If animals and uncontacted tribes fail to get in people’s faces and demand respect using the media they will be ignored just like animals fleeing the loggers. I don’t agree with that. I personally have great respect for ecosystems and uncontacted/indigenous tribes, but we’ve seen this now for thousands probably millions of years, including the conquistidors. Do people take advantage when possible? People do. It happens on a personal, local, regional, national and international scale.

      Here’s a hypothetical and ask yourself how you would handle the following situation:
      As an anthropologist you travel deep into the forests of some foreign land. You come across a tribe that has no understanding as to the value of their gold. Do you try to explain how they could trade that gold for whatever they want – pots and pans, knives, hatchets, digging tools, fabric, whatever or do you trade some worthless junk you’ve got for the gold? See, it becomes an ethical dilemma. And, even if you were ethical how many others in your shoes would do the opposite and take their gold?

      We’ve seen since Reagan became president a huge shift in human behavior from a time I remember in my childhood of people generally being ethical (although of course bad things still happened) with one another to this period of absolute pure raging greed. It’s getting worse, not better. It’s a common business practice now to try and rip people off. It didn’t use to be that bad. It use to be very rare, at least in my lifetime.

      • Artleads says:

        Given this situation, what do you recommend?

      • Greg Machala says:

        I too sense the shift in people attitudes more and more towards raging greed.

        • Artleads says:

          But I see a conflicting trend in the opposite direction too.

        • Greg Machala says:

          The objective of any business (local or big) is to make money. Period. It is no longer people wanting to provide a good service to their customers. It is no longer about taking pride in ones work. It is no longer about building a reputation. People that start a business expect to be paid the same as well established business with good reputations that have been doing the same line of work for decades. It is this whole mind-set of “I want it now”. Just pay me money regardless of the quality of goods or services rendered. Small local businesses spring up and get a bad rap so they change their name – problem solved. It is sickening to watch this play out over the years and just get worse and worse. From the smallest local business to the largest corporation – it is all the same. Something for nothing.

      • Van Kent says:

        If we suppose the system must grow. Or if it doesnt grow, then it collapses. And the common way of growing, is by debt. And we suppose the world is finite, everlasting growth is not possible.

        Then we can suppose a few things. Firstly growth will be pursued by any and all means. There is no Plan B. All governments only policy is growth. Secondly, debts will explode to exponential levels. Before the end, everybody will be in exponential debts. And thirdly, free market capitalism will become a cut throat, immoral, exploiting every resource and worker it possibly can, system. To make profits, to pay back the debts, in any and all ways possible. Eating and destroying anything in its path while doing so.

        And the culture to support that sort of behaviour will become nihilistic, self centered, short sighted, egoistical, selfie – only outer beauty/ reputation matters. The culture will become sosiopathic, insane.

        To be involved in the destruction of the biosphere, as we all are. Meanwhile having the group and peer pressure of keeping up with the Joneses. Showcasing that its us that are ethically better, morally better, financially better, sportier, healthier, more good looking, younger and more fit for corporate competition, than anybody else. Well, in the above mentioned toxic environment, that culture becomes sosiopathic. And to be a part of that insane culture means, you also become one more inmate at the mental institution.

        If you ever find yourself an inmate in an mental institution. Its of no use to rage, or to accuse everybody of being crazy. Well they are, insane, thats why they are there in the first place. We know the culture we live in. And the culture we are headed towards, if we have time. So we know everyone is crazy. Theyre sosipathic like the culture they live in. The only thing left to do, is to question why they do, why they act, and why they ask such silly questions from you. Turn the mirror back on themselves.

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          VK, your post reminded me of this quote (which I have already posted in the past):

          “It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

          -Jiddu Krishnamurti

        • Cliffhanger says:

          That is one of the most interesting things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing!

        • Artleads says:

          “Firstly growth will be pursued by any and all means. There is no Plan B. All governments only policy is growth. Secondly, debts will explode to exponential levels. Before the end, everybody will be in exponential debts. And thirdly, free market capitalism will become a cut throat, immoral, exploiting every resource and worker it possibly can, system. ”

          This is the system we have already. No future tense involved. 🙂

        • xabier says:

          And as people fall into debt to support their narcissism, and tax takes more and the value of money declines, they will become more callous and immoral as they seek to keep themselves afloat through exploiting others.

          Much as ancient kings had no qualms about pillaging their peasants when they had spent too much on wars and mistresses and little boys.

          The history of the Moghul Empire – as a change from the usual example of Rome – in its stage of decline gives a wonderful illustration of human depravity, from which there was no escape.

          In early medieval England, one king even took the doors off the peasant houses so they couldn’t resist his tax collectors….

        • MM says:

          Lie to ourselves every morning when we look in the mirror. When we do a good job at our work place, when we pay at the supermarket, when we drive home. The list is endless. Arno Gruen calls it “the craziness of the normals”. I really suffer from it but I will stand through it as M.C. Ruppert said: “Be a witness because later they will claim ‘we did not know how this all came about'”

    • indirectly, it has to do with the availability of energy supplies that indirectly are behind the pay workers receive. When lots of cheap energy supplies are available, the budget can easily be made large enough to provide the necessary workers to protect the uncontacted tribes. When Brazil is doing badly (oil prices are low, so taxes on oil are low, so Brazil does not have the funds to fund programs to protect the unconnected tribes), Brazil does what is politically expedient. Any other country would do the same thing.

  18. Greg Machala says:

    We already know this stuff but here is a MSM report on why iPhone manufacturing will never come back to the US:

    • I know that students are packed tightly into dorm rooms in China. It seems like it was 6 per room for undergraduate, 4 per room for graduate students, and 2 per room for those approaching the Ph D level at one university.

      The long line of cold water faucets remind me of what I saw as I left the cafeteria in Beijing. Instead of napkins, people were expected to use a faucet to rinse their hands.

      Before modern high rise buildings were built, I understand that communal outhouse bathrooms were (and probably still are) very common in China. While this is bad, facilities in India tend to be even worse–outhouse arrangements may be missing altogether.

      The cost of maintaining workers is less where living standards are a lot lower. It is really hard to compete cost-wise with lower living standards.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Did you catch the part of the story where manufacturing is heading more toward Bangladesh and Vietnam as costs in China continue to rise? I wonder if that is the next step – move manufacturing to Bangladesh and Vietname? Is that even possible?

        • xabier says:

          The story that made me laugh was the Chinaman trying to manufacture something in Ethiopia, of all places (can’t recall just what exactly) : lets say that his very cheap workers they weren’t particularly good at keeping to his formal work hours……

        • The cycle just repeats (or moves along). Once they laughed at Japanese products, then Taiwanese/HK, S. Korean, now is the Chinese round maturing in some (not all) sectors..

          Basically, it all ends up everytime with posh over-civilized people designing highend stuff for CNC machines, so the bottom level (almost) unskilled work if there is some left, must move out of the country to another hell hole..

          • Greg Machala says:

            What about all the specialized buildings, machines and equipment in China? How will all that be moved and rebuilt in Bangladesh or Vietnam? Chasing cheaper labor is the easy part. How do you rebuild the manufacturing infrastructure in another country? And do it economically enough to make it profitable?

            • Sorry, I should have written it more clearly.
              It was a descriptive comment, how China arrived at the place where it is, actually I don’t expect any other region to continue in this cycle and replace it (at least in scale). We have seen India imploding recently, and the other Asian countries are way smaller and already in this industrialized process for decades, modern carz/scooters/machinery plants yes.. but not expected to “reach escape velocity” e.g. develop own nuclear powerplants or orbit stations or enter the multi trillions league of global finance..

            • DJ says:

              What happened to the equipment when the jobs left the west?

            • Artleads says:

              Could they make smaller products that need smaller, mobile machinery for those countries? Those countries already have a low-energy climate (as Gail says below), so why not try to manufacture what fits the easy climate? Wouldn’t something like that help for a while? But since I don’t wish to do sweatshop work myself, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

            • Siobhan says:

              “What happened to the equipment when the jobs left the west?”

              Some of it went with the jobs. Much of it was sold for scrap. The factories–that were built to support the equipment–are mostly ruins today.

            • DJ says:

              I suppose that could happen to the factories in China (except not ALL production can move southeast).

        • I don’t think it is possible to move very much manufacturing to Bangladesh or Vietnam. They are much smaller countries, with smaller energy resources. There would be a need to rebuild factories. One major benefits that Bangladesh and Viet Nam have is that there is not much of a winter at all in those countries. That would help wages stay very low, because workers don’t need very sturdy homes to live in.

      • xabier says:

        Here the Chinese science graduate students being lured by the university will enjoy private apartments, with bedrooms for their children.

        Quite heavenly for them, from what you say: the red carpet is certainly being rolled out just to get our hands on their very substantial fees as foreign students.

        One of the lecturers at the university is a famous ‘nature writer’. He has not been heard to utter a peep in protest at what is going on, – destruction by development – as he well knows which side his bread is buttered on!

        When people are well-enough off to travel to enjoy their bit of Nature, they become surprisingly blind to what is happening half a mile from their house.

        • xabier says:

          In a way, this development is an example of environmental destruction exported from China, to house their students in Britain. The irony….

    • the intention is that ”stuff” will be made and sold forever.

      it is important to actually believe that in order for the system to go on working as it does.

      nobody actually believes that of course. What they do believe that someone else will be left to clear up the mess when it does stop.

  19. anyone on OFW genuinely interested in where we’re headed MUST listen to this 45 min BBC radio programme


    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Kingsnorth is one of the more interesting voices out there.
      This was one of the best fiction books I have read in a while:
      (one does need to learn a new language to read it)

      The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth review – ‘A literary triumph’
      Paul Kingsnorth borrows from Od English with compelling results in this medieval tale of guerrilla warfare in the Lincolnshire fens

    • Lastcall says:

      My take away; Politicians and economists are accused of treating the benefits of planet earth as expendable inputs. Then follows the claim that there is a better way to treat the earth and to do so we should change the economic system i.e. retrain the apostles that issue forth from the hallowed halls of our economic schools, and thence the politicians they advise.

      The problem here is that the Guests on this podcast then emulate this as they treat the current economic system as expendable, and therefore, by extension, its products. The consequences of discarding this econo-system are not discussed.

      We have a Gordian Knot that can only be cut, not untied.

      • i agree

        it was just confirming that we’re screwed

      • xabier says:


        The ‘Doughnut Economist’, the weakest thinker of the three, is merely promising material prosperity through radical revolution in theory, -the fantasy of the last 200 years – with an unexplained but nice-sounding ecological and social gloss, but with no suggestion of how to get from here to there; and she left the great question of population and reproduction rights unaddressed.

        They all failed to address that!

        Kingsnorth has seen, correctly, that solar panels and turbines, ‘clean energy’ parks are just an extension of the world-poisoning industrial civilisation, and profoundly damaging to the ecosystem with their aggressive intrusion on hitherto untouched areas.

        Environmentalism has been co-opted by the environment destroyers. As I have mentioned before, a new development here gets the ‘sustainable’ pass just by plastering a site with solar panels, growing grass on a roof, installing some bike racks, and planting a ‘wild berry’ hedge that soon dies of neglect and stress. Oh, and has a ‘living wall’ of wild strawberries….

        Wendell Berry can see very clearly how it is all completely, tragically screwed, and has sensibly cultivated his own garden in his ancestral patch. Much as I am doing: it is satisfying to live by better and saner values as much as one can but it does nothing at all to steer society in a different direction. And, as he rightly says, we are all complicit in the destruction now, whatever we do.

        Going to western Ireland, as Kingsnorth has done, to grow vegetables and use a compost toilet is an admission of the impossibility of arresting this awful process we are caught up in, and cannot extricate ourselves from except as individuals: grow crops on a larger scale, and wider market forces come into play. Not to mention that even a modest small-holding can be taxed away from you at any time, an ever more likely scenario as our economies decline.

    • Artleads says:

      What I missed in them–and I liked them all–is acknowledgement of the urban trend of humanity, most of us now living in cities, and the trend to where a large majority will eventually do as well.

      Berry says that if you can’t love something, you can’t even know it. I agree. And if you don’t love urbanity, you can’t even know it. The exclusive focus on loving nature, at the expense of loving artifacts, things, is extremely unbalancing.

      • xabier says:


        But the hopelessness of the situation is very hard to face up to, and one can’t reproach her at all.

        One has to come to the point of seeing that the kingdom is lost, the last bridge out has collapsed,and there is nothing to do except take one’s stand according to one’s best principles. With no hope.

        • Artleads says:

          I would change “no hope” to “no expectations.” Slight difference. 🙂

          There is no system-appropriate resistance movement. None whatsoever. Everybody is in a dream. Creating a different dream (based on reality this time) could be one of those no-expectations things to do.

          OFW has helped me greatly to at least glimpse the reality part of it.

      • xabier says:

        Once cities become over-crowded – how one defines that exact point I don’t know, as by definition they are densely populated – urbane life becomes impossible.

        For instance, London now is unbearable and the masses of people destroy all pleasure in the amenities it offers, whereas in the 1980’s it was merely crowded but not insufferable. There is nothing left to love there now not that it was ever very charming!

        Still, many people seem quite happy shuffling around in huge vacant-eyed masses, going between chain food and clothes stores, as many are unmoved by seeing concrete pour over farmland.

        • Artleads says:

          It’s easy to see places as overcrowded when people are scattered all over, bumping into each other, without system or order. That’s why, for instance, there are queues for entering buses and movie theaters.

    • Van Kent says:

      Nice to hear Kate Raworth. Last I talked with her, some three years ago, she was going to a club of rome meeting workshopping different models. Asked her to look around if anybody was talking collapse, or some bridge models of from growth to something else. Because Tim Jacksons models didnt seem to work. Something small was missing. Like a viable, feasible model. Or how to get there. Well.. three years later Kate seems to see that the model is missing, and the bridge to get there is also missing. But it seems Kate is not quite ready to give up BAU yet. Not that I blame her. Cant see many who are.

  20. JT Roberts says:

    Something interesting to consider in discussion of coal is that the energetic peak in the US was 1998. So the EROEI has been falling ever since. It’s very deceptive if we only consider tonnage. Coal is not all the same. This is true of oil as well. Likely the energetic peak in oil was somewhere around 2000-2005. Since then we have been talking about BOE at the well head with no consideration of the effect of poor quality oil going into the refineries. Since 2000 refineries efficiency has tumbled to level of 1.68 barrels of crude to 1 barrel of product.

    So in real terms when a refiner buys shale or tar sand he has to calculate the penalty of production. That’s why the unconventionals trade at a discount to WTI.

    It was approximately 20 years from the energy peak of coal to production peak in the US. Some of the garbage we call coal now has the same btus as wood. This is true with what we’re calling oil now. A lot of it is really gas.

    The point is the collapse is imminent.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Indeed JT! Coal quality is way off from what it was 30 to 40 years ago. I don’t think many folks realize that todays coal is close to the same BTU equivalent to burning wood. This is a subtle reminder that diminishing returns is an inescapable fact of nature.

      • I catch your drift, but to argue in this style of coal BTU content so low is bogus..
        Have you ever burned brown coal or anthracite/black coal quality, large – medium – small fraction sizes vs. wood to have clue on this one???

        Coal is a godsend miracle, few kgs and voila warm for many dozens m3 for hours!!!
        Not mentioning the hot water, and obviously the base load grid.

        There is a lot of good coal out there, I grant you a little point, that the reserves get increasingly far away from existing infrastructure though..

        • zenny says:

          Coal is great and far cheaper in my neck of the woods.
          Wood is also messy.

          • Yep, there are “diy pros” who heat with coal without white/brownish smoke at all inside immaculate boiler rooms after many intensive yrs of operation. It’s all about efficiently (cleanly) setting up the burning process..

            It was pleasant burning quality wooden pellets few yrs ago (ash could be composted), but since then pricing sky rocketed thanks to gov incentives and overall popularity, chiefly among quasi affluent people, rich burn natgas and or geothermal..

        • JT Roberts says:

          Compare anthracite with lignite. We’re way past peak with anthracite. The majority of what’s left is lignite which heating value per ton is so poor they are forced to build power plants near the source because when you transport it any distance it’s worthless.

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Excellent point JT…and this why the whole problem is related to resource scarcity…the financial system needs growth constantly…to grow it needs resources..quality, high EROEI resources…not the type of oil that has been added to the global supply in the last 10-15 years..this is why 2008 happened…this is why CBs stepped in (temporarily hiding our resource problem) and that is why collapse is imminent..we have overshot our resource base, and while there are still resources left they are not enough to grow the economy and since the financial system needs actual growth to survive (not just printing of digibits) it will crater, thus leaving all remaining resources in the ground FOREVER..Greenies should be delighted..for the few days, weeks they are still alive after JIT has gone the way of the Dodo…

      • Artleads says:

        But the system has a way of surprising us, using all sorts of tricks to keep going. Having embarrassed myself spouting off everywhere how climate death was imminent, or how I was pretty certain (from all I heard) that economic collapse was imminent, and then not have this imminence play out very noticeably on average, I question the wisdom of predicting imminence from here on out.

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          It’s been surprising us for 8 long years…China built countless cities which they will not be able to reproduce going forward…but we are counting on them for growth…growth has to come from somewhere, and that place was China…there is no other place left in the world to grow the global economy..and that will be the demise of the financial system…

  21. Fast Eddy says:

    American consumers are holding $1 trillion in revolving credit, mostly in credit card debt. So how well is this segment of consumer debt holding up?

    Synchrony Financial – GE’s spin-off that issues credit cards for Walmart and Amazon – disclosed on Friday that, despite assurances to the contrary just three months ago, net charge-off would rise to at least 5% this year. Its shares plunged 16% and are down 27% year-to-date.

    Credit-card specialist Capital One disclosed in its Q1 earnings report last week that provisions for credit losses rose to $2 billion, with net charge-offs jumping 28% year-over-year to $1.5 billion.

    Synchrony, Capital One, and Discover – a gauge of how well over-indebted consumers are managing to hang on – have together increased their Q1 provisions for bad loans by 36% year-over-year.

    So this is happening.

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    In April they fell 1.5% year-over-year, to £636,777, according to Rightmove, a firm specialized in real estate. The last time prices fell so sharply was in May 2009, when the global financial crisis was gaining steam.

    Since revelations of liar loans – What, liar loans in Canada?! – surfaced in 2015, things have gone to heck. Now it’s experiencing a run on its deposits. Teetering at the abyss, it obtained a $2 billion bailout loan on Thursday. The terms are onerous. And on Friday, the crux of the deal emerged – the amount of mortgages it has to post as collateral. It’s a doozie.

    Canaries everywhere we look now…

    • JT Roberts says:

      When the equity evaporates the debt evaporates the money evaporates the energy evaporates the food evaporates. Life is but a mist.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Imagine what homes would be worth with no gas, electricity, sewer or running water!

      • Greg Machala says:

        Or imagine a “luxury” high rise apartment in NYC (worth millions today) without an elevator, or electricity, sewer, running water or gas. It would be less than worthless!

  23. Robin Clarke says:

    “It was right around 1970 when the increase in the number of scientific papers published in the world—a figure that had doubled every fifteen years since, roughly, 1685—began leveling off.”


  24. Bergen Johnson says:

    Sometimes Kunstler puts together a paragraph that just calls out to be read a couple of times. This one is too eerily accurate initiating a few gut busting laughs.

    “You can read it in the bodies of the people in the new town square, i.e. the supermarket: people prematurely old, fattened and sickened by bad food made to look and taste irresistible to con those sunk in despair, a deadly consolation for lives otherwise filled by empty hours, trash television, addictive computer games, and their own family melodramas concocted to give some narrative meaning to lives otherwise bereft of event or effort. These are people who have suffered their economic and social roles in life to be stolen from them. They do not work at things that matter. They have no prospects for a better life — and, anyway, the sheer notion of that has been reduced to absurd fantasies of Kardashian luxury, i.e. maximum comfort with no purpose other than to enable self-dramatization. And nothing dramatizes a desperate life like a drug habit. It concentrates the mind, as Samuel Johnson once remarked, like waiting to be hanged.”

    • I agree. That sounds like a description of the problems of a lot of Americans.

    • Greg Machala says:

      JHK has expressed some very depressing thoughts.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Some years ago in Bali…. the authorities organized poisoned balls of meat to be thrown to the out of control population of diseased street dogs…

      Perhaps we need to borrow this idea and involve fast food outlets to cull these people….

    • Sceadu says:

      I work with teenagers in a high-poverty, rural setting. This description unfortunately captures what is happening in American rural towns. Life just feels like an endless treadmill, enabling people to buy more cheap goods at Wal-Mart or another big box store, until their storage units are overflowing. One’s work and the actual finished product become so far divorced from one another that people lose their sense of purpose, and it is replaced by a drifting, aimless participation in consumerism (or drug addiction). I think that humans were built to work (literally, with the land) for our survival, and when that connection is lost, something dies in side us.

      • DJ says:

        The power process, Ted Kaczynski, the philosopher, has written a lot about it.

      • It wasn’t long ago that people’s skill in making handicrafts or in building something like a home was really important. People got great pleasure from seeing a beautiful finished product.

        • doomphd says:

          Do you still have your epoxy resin grape cluster on drift wood stem as a coffee table dust collector? As I recall, the popular colors were green, blue, purple, red and orange. Relatives made them for each other as Christmas gifts in the 60s. My older sister still has hers on display. Kinda an heirloom, like a Faberge jeweled egg for the masses.

          • No. Perhaps I am too young for those. I think I saw some in the homes of parents of my friends.

            • doomphd says:

              What made me think of those is a recollection that there was great pride taken in both making and receiving them. I vaguely recall that there were some commercial knock offs but they didn’t do as well because they were not hand made by someone you knew. It was a little like quilting and home sewn clothes. My parent’s generation was about the last to partake in those kinds of things. Maybe they’ll make a comeback in a JHK World Made by Hand.

  25. Cliffhanger says:

    The End of the Oil Age is Imminent

    Recently, the HSBC oil report stated that 80% of conventional oil fields were declining at a rate of 5-7% per year. This means that there will be an oil shortage of ~30 million barrels per day by 2030 and ~40 million barrels per day by 2040.…/0B9wSgViWVAfzUEgzMlBfR3UxNDg/view

    What is mentioned far less often is that annual oil discoveries have lagged annual production since the 1980s. Now, this problem has nothing to do with the recent decline in the oil price, which started in 2014. This has been an on-going problem for the past 30 years.…/inline_images/08-Fig1.jpg

    Now, the IEA is predicting oil shortages by ~2020 due to declining exploration. Here, the IEA blames this problem on the low oil price. But, this problem started in the 1980s. The problem is geological: we are running out of conventional cheap oil. Shale and tar sands are not the answer, either. Those resources are far too expensive, compared to conventional oil, because the global economy is based on cheap conventional oil. Expensive oil is not a replacement for cheap oil.

    Based upon the HSBC report, the End of Oil Age will start around ~2020: there will be a dramatic economic depression due to exhaustion of cheap oil. There will also be no conversion to “renewable energy.” Instead, living standards will just get worse and worse each year. Forever..

      • Bergen Johnson says:

        The thing I’ve always noticed about that graph is if you take all the oil above the production line and scoot it over and under the production line, there’s still a lot of oil still to be used. Also, non-conventional oil in use so far hasn’t been too expensive, so why would it suddenly become too expensive in the future? I think the real question is, is electrification of transport via of renewables viable or not? If so, then there is plenty of oil to make the transition and once oil is used for non-transport there will be more than enough, and at such time it’s too scarce for making lipstick then oil from algae can be used.

        I’m not sold on the idea a transition cannot be made to renewables. It all has to do with the availability of materials to make them and cost of energy from renewables. The storage part seems to have recently been solved by Tesla’s industrial sized batteries for use during non-daylight, non-windy periods. I know, I’ll get lambasted for this post, but that doesn’t change the questions. People can guess all they want, but we won’t know for certain until we get further down the road in the attempt to make the transition.

        • DJ says:

          Does what is above the production line even cover until 2030?

          • Greg Machala says:

            It isn’t just the amount of oil discovered – it is the rate at which you can extract it and how much of it is economic to extract. If you won a trillion dollars but could only withdraw a dollar a day you would be very poor.

        • Cliffhanger says:

          The university of California did a study in 2010 that concluded that it would take America another 120 years to totally move away from fossil fuels..

          • i wish i was clever enough to be at CA uni—

            it won’t take oil 120 years to move away from the USA

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Replacement of oil by alternative sources

            While oil has many other important uses (lubrication, plastics, roadways, roofing) this section considers only its use as an energy source. The CMO is a powerful means of understanding the difficulty of replacing oil energy by other sources. SRI International chemist Ripudaman Malhotra, working with Crane and colleague Ed Kinderman, used it to describe the looming energy crisis in sobering terms.[13] Malhotra illustrates the problem of producing one CMO energy that we currently derive from oil each year from five different alternative sources. Installing capacity to produce 1 CMO per year requires long and significant development.

            Allowing fifty years to develop the requisite capacity, 1 CMO of energy per year could be produced by any one of these developments:

            4 Three Gorges Dams,[14] developed each year for 50 years, or
            52 nuclear power plants,[15] developed each year for 50 years, or
            104 coal-fired power plants,[16] developed each year for 50 years, or
            32,850 wind turbines,[17][18] developed each year for 50 years, or
            91,250,000 rooftop solar photovoltaic panels[19] developed each year for 50 years

            The world consumes approximately 3 CMO annually from all sources. The table [10] shows the small contribution from alternative energies in 2006.


            “To provide most of our power through renewables would take hundreds of times the amount of rare earth metals that we are mining today,” according to Thomas Graedel at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. So renewable energy resources like windmills and solar PV can not ever replace fossil fuels, there’s not enough of many essential minerals to scale this technology up.

            Renewable energy ‘simply won’t work’: Top Google engineers

            Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

            Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or “technology” of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company.

            Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear.

            All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.

            In reality, well before any such stage was reached, energy would become horrifyingly expensive – which means that everything would become horrifyingly expensive (even the present well-under-one-per-cent renewables level in the UK has pushed up utility bills very considerably).


        • Cliffhanger says:

          If you scoot all the oil discovered under the production line you still have to account for depletion of oil wells over the last 30 years as well. which leaves you with a crunch somewhere around 2020.

        • JT Roberts says:

          A Tesla battery weighs 1200lbs and stores the equivalent of 2 gallons of diesel. It lasts only 10 years. To scale it up to trucks and construction is simply impossible and unsustainable. The world presently has only 34 million tons of known lithium. Not reserves reserves are only 14 million tons. But let’s say for argument you can get all the known lithium out. A Tesla battery requires 150lbs of lithium so you could build 450 million Teslas. At present production it would take 100 years. If you do some simple math you would see that on a 10 year lifecycle electric cars would peak at about 45 million.
          You would need to increase mining of lithium by a factor of five to make any real difference.

          The world has 1 billion cars electric cars are only 750,000 around .2%. If you can max out car production and reach 45 million in the next ten years which means you’ve increased electric car production by 4500% you’ll never get ahead of the 5% depletion rate of conventional oil. Because electric cars would still only be 4.5% of the system. But hey when you run out of wood burn the furniture right?

          Of course we can all pretend this doesn’t matter and run after Musk who hasn’t made a dime in his life since PayPal.

          The above still doesn’t explain where the primary energy to charge the batteries will come from. And don’t say solar. Batteries don’t replace oil. Batteries don’t replace oil.
          The Carousel of Progress is a children’s ride.
          The Carousel of Progress is a children’s ride.

          It would therapeutic to repeat the above expressions before entering the real world each morning.

          • JT Roberts says:

            Correction 2million electrics on the road. So we’ve definitely hit the tipping point where the oil companies need to be in fear with .5% market penetration.

            • I addressed it above, hopefully Gail will unlock the post soon.

              Basically, it’s not necessary to exchange carz 1:1, bicycle electric assists + commuter trains and subways, occupancy sharing, natgas bus fleets etc.. Hence personal carz (with single-driver occupancy) as we know it, will not be associated with lesser strata of society anymore in the future.. It’s just too much wasteful..

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You are exhibiting extreme ignorance

            • Or sarcasm.

          • Greg Machala says:

            The infrastructure costs (both in energy and resource terms) to transition to an electrified transport system is more extreme than RE proponents realize. Batteries have short lives. They need replacing. By the time society even begins to make headway in building out such a transition, progress is lost to replacement of aging battery packs. So, it becomes like a dog chasing its own tail trying to keep up with aging RE systems. Oil is different in this respect because you use it as you pump it out. You cannot do that with wind and solar PV.

            • Yep, that’s understood and acknowledge here.
              However, and quite frankly would you put down “personal” offer for your own betterment and BAU bubble extension, should it be only one or two decades (durability of these techno doodles)? Probably no, only some premature fasters plan to jump from high rises at the first signs of collapse proper, which is hard to define and pinpoint anyway.

            • DJ says:

              “only some premature fasters plan to jump from high rises at the first signs of collapse proper, which is hard to define and pinpoint anyway.”

              My thought also – how many instadoomers will pull the plug months/years/decades early?

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Worldofhanumanotg says: “Probably no, only some premature fasters plan to jump from high rises at the first signs of collapse proper, which is hard to define and pinpoint anyway.”

              Hmmmm how about grid down and no more food in the grocery stores and no rule of law and people killing each other for a piece of bread, is that a good sign for you?? Until the party on dude!!!

            • Greg Machala says:

              “Hmmmm how about grid down and no more food in the grocery stores and no rule of law and people killing each other for a piece of bread, is that a good sign for you??” – In that scenario a lot of people will do very desperate things.

        • Jesse James says:

          Bergen, how many days without power should we install batteries for? Do we plan for one rainy day, or for a full week of cloud cover? Utter naivety would lead you to think that just because someone can do battery backup for one day….all our backup problems are solved?
          Try calculating how much backup is needed for a full week. Not going to happen….anywhere.
          In fact….I doubt industrial scale backup for only a day will ever happen.
          The best case is future system collapse, the under top down control, “islands” of power and technology are given priority. The rest of us will deal with brownouts, etc, if power even remains viable.

        • Greg Machala says:

          Renewable energy == perpetual motion machine

  26. dolph says:

    Politicians will do what politicians always do: lie and try to stay in power
    Businessmen will do what businessmen always do: lie and try to make more money
    Policemen will do what policemen always do: enforce the status quo at the point of a gun
    Religious leaders will do religious leaders always do: tell you that what somebody said thousands of years ago grants you access to heaven after you die
    Workers will do what workers always do: show up and perform their job because they need food and shelter
    Kids will do what kids always do: play a bit, learn a bit, then grow up and leave home
    Men will do what men always do: pursue women
    Women will do what women always do: get pursued by men and choose one of them

  27. Cliffhanger says:

    What does everybody think that the politicians will say when the oil shortages hit America and elsewhere? Do you think they will pull another 911 right before they happen and blame them on Muslims?

    • Why not? They have a lot of weapons in their arsenal. Sorry, they have been doing this for centuries and are not in any shape to stop.

    • i1 says:

      They’ll say no one saw this coming.

      • Bergen Johnson says:

        I actually don’t think we’re going to get oil shortages because of two factors; electrification of transport & recession, both of which will reduce demand, driving down price and raising available supply.

        • Bergen Johnson says:

          Let me adjust that a tad; ‘increasing’ electrification of transport.

          • edwinlloyd says:

            The transportation that makes the world go round is trucks, ships and air planes. The rest of us coud ride the bus and let the brown truck of happiness deliver internet ordered stuff to our door. Electricity is feel goid fluff when it comes to running the world.
            Get a copy of ‘When the Trucks Stop Running’ by AJ Friedemann. Jet fuel, bunker fuel and diesel run the world we live and eat in. Did you know there are 10 calories of fossil fuel in every calorie of your food? Sorry to be such a troll, but wishful thinking about electrification is less helpful than going to Mars. Nuclear ships would work, but nobody trusts what woyld happen with all that uranium in circulation. Nissan Leafs are nice for getting milk and bread to the house. Between those bookends fossil fuels make the workd we live in livable.

            • Well that’s understood, thanks for the reminder.
              What is not generally understood is that by cutting frivolous and commuting fuels usage, the system can stretch a decade or two, limping around for some time more..

              Generally, young people tend to drive less or not at all (urban centrist culture, unemployment, digital economy, ..), nowadays electric assists have become reliable after ~15yrs of dev and tweaking, thousands mi before service intervals, and then usually needs only tires, brake pads etc. So this bike method nicely fits exurbs commuting via trains, trams etc. for the last mile, the consumption is ~15-20Wh/mi, at the $1.5-2.5K price-tag. For the purpose of focus not discussing offroad capable ebikes, for twice the price, snow riding capable etc.

              If you go a notch up, safer higher speeds in traffic, all weather capable (snow/ice, monsoon rain, ..) as with tilting e-cvt scooters, which are now offered at least by 4-5 major brands, cost a bit more than e-assisted bikes (and you can’t take it on the train), electrified version not offered yet, but could be done diywise or wait briefly for OEMs, economy est. ~55Wh/mi, <2.5L/100km, <$3.5K.

              I skip the next step up in highway capable traditional e-motorcycles since that is not deemed by some as all weather capable. So, we are finally in the EV econobox car category here, diywise sub $15K, new OEM sub $25K, economy <150Wh/mi, but you can take on board more passengers and cargo, therefore with occupancy very good efficiency into <250-500Wh/mi..

              It’s already happening, the west will more resemble the east of yesterday, lots of bikes and motorbikes, extended with commuter trains, subways and trams. As long as this could be maintained, few decades, that’s the world where we are heading..

            • Our problem is inadequate demand. Prices are not high enough to allow producers to stay in business. Cutting frivolous and commuting fuels usage works in the wrong direction.

              What you are saying is absurd.

            • The post was cut short..

              I skip the next step up in highway capable traditional e-motorcycles since that is not deemed by some as all weather capable. So, we are finally in the EV econobox car category here, diywise sub $15K, new OEM sub $25K, economy <150Wh/mi, but you can take on board more passengers and cargo, therefore with occupancy very good efficiency into <<100Wh/mi, and obviously for bigger SUVs and offroaders drawing <250-500Wh/mi..

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Makes sense… (not)

      • Cliffhanger says:

        which one another terrorist attack or the oil shortages?

  28. jerry says:

    by the way for those into conspiracy theories take a gander at this info from the Solari Website.
    The Titanic, A Perfect Crime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Wow, I had no idea that JP Morgan and friends cancelled their trip and it seems it was related to the Federal Reserve?

    “There are many unusual facts about the sinking of the Titanic in 2012, two years after the meeting at Jekyll Island and a year before the Federal Reserve Act passed. The ship was owned by the White Star Line which was, in turn, owned by a holding company owned by JP Morgan. Morgan cancelled his passage on the Titanic at the last moment as did a large number of his friends and associates.”

    • adonis says:

      jerry i too am into conspiracy theory especially the belief in the ‘illumanati you provided a great link with the interview with the elite banker who provided more proof of their existence have you seen the cover of the economist magazine from 1988 of the ‘phoenix check it out it will blow you away just click on this link

      • jerry says:

        thanks and yes I came across the term phoenix many years ago. Communism really on a global scale. Strange to read back on so many things and wow I’ve been going through Dr. Cantelon’s book today as a refresher and I can’t believe how his book is still so pertinent to today. 2018 wow amazing isn’t it and what really shakes me up is what is occurring in India with this cancelling of small denominations and going cashless. You know when Bernard talks about the hatred the illuminati have for us all I can’t help but wonder at their madness that what they have been desiring and pursuing after for so long has so far illuded them and taking so long. It actually reminds me of the words of Christ to Paul; ‘it is hard for you to kick against the pricks Acts 24:16 meaning all your efforts are in vain really.
        A worldwide currency? Doubtful. Why pursue that when all they have to do is get people chipped. Catherine uses a term in one of her interviews “livestock management” this is what the powers that be are really up to if you can believe it. You can listen to it here 36:29 mark and I suggest you do. It is a must listen along with everything she knows. She was an insider in Washington and knows the details unlike any other. I like the term she uses to about the trillions of dollars that has conviently gone missing as Mr. Global.

        • xabier says:

          Certainly the experiment being conducted in India by the ‘Institute for the Transformation of India’ (!!!) is being carried out as far as one can tell with complete indifference as to the welfare of Indians, above all the poorest – humble workers and traders, who are of course the majority.

          One can only expect this sort of callousness from bankers: about as much human decency and empathy as Dr Mengele. And completely insulated from the effects of their actions.

          One also finds the same indifference towards the fate of the ordinary citizens of Greece, another giant experiment in repression and exploitation.

          If this is what the step-down will look like, we would be well-advised to pray for Insta-Doom.

      • Brohan says:

        Have you checked on the price of bitcoin lately? Methinks that’s the phoenix rising from the ashes. Also depends on just who exactly ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ is…

        • Van Kent says:

          Bitcoin seems to be the one big currency the CBs cant play around with.

          If that is true. Then its value will only grow. Then its a sure bet to make easy money.

          And if Bitcoin is the only currency that is finite.. it cant be printed.. as such.. Then there should be a moment where international trade switches to bitcoin. Because it must.

          If international trade ever switches to bitcoin, because it must. Then bitcoin value will EXPLODE

          • Brohan says:

            I would not outright dismiss the notion of TPTB (Elders, whatever) being behind it. Debt based currencies with interest attached were instrumental in growing the world economy to the point it is. Since we know we can’t grow forever (as I’m sure TPTB know as well), I’m looking for something that is a whole new paradigm, which cryptocurrencies are. When you combine that with the fact the creator (who owns ~1M btc) is unknown, and that the NSA was already working on this more than a decade before Satoshi published the whitepaper in 2008 (, the possibility is certainly there. It has received an ample amount of media attention and if it were truly a threat, I’m sure they would have figured out one way or another to stop it by now.

    • adonis says:

      so why would the ‘titanic’ be purposefully sabotaged ? i will have to check out this website

      • Greg Machala says:

        Not sure I buy that the “Titanic” was purposely sabotaged. But, I will admit that I have not read much in relation to it either. But, if it is true that JPM and his associates were either complicit in arranging it or, were aware of the plot then what is to be gained? Perhaps by offing a large number of ultra wealthy potential owners new central banks then, a smaller group of bankers would be privy to owning the central banks This would allow a greater concentration of wealth as the “excess” wealthy sank on the Titanic. I guess there really is no honor among thieves. The older I get the more I realize how ruthless humans can be. So, if the story is true I would not be surprised.

  29. jerry says:

    this article is nothing new to me, it actually reminds me of a book the day the dollar dies by Dr. Cantelon. On page 87 he relates this:

    “That evening, spoke one of Britain’s best known scientists, Dr. Robinson, spoke in the same hall. At the close of his address, his Manchester audience was left paralysed with fear and deep despair. He offered them practically no hope for the future. On Tuesday morning, following his address, the Manchester Guardian carried the headline, DOCTOR ROBINSON, NEVER RETURN AGAIN TO MANCHSETER.”
    THIS WAS 1968?
    Further the central theme of this symposium or thesis as it were was:


    if only these scidentists were around today I could wel imagine they would be completely stupefied that we are still managing somehow.

    and then in closing out the chapter he quotes one Dr. Rene Dubos, pulitizer prize winning microbiologist from Rockerfeller University who said:

    “We used to talk about the atomic bomb as a threat. Now we might consider it a relief.”

  30. Cliffhanger says:

    It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Interesting article…the one thing I find these scientists are not accounting for is a collapse of our Global Financial System which underpins all of our Industrial’s the software that runs the whole show…and right now it is stretched very thin, it almost collapsed in 2008, CBs stepped in and saved the day and staved off collapse (temporarily), but they won’t be able to next time around…and if the financial system collapses it will render all the other dangers mentioned in the article inconsequential for the great majority of us (to not say everybody).

    • Collapse can wait. The financialization of everything means everything is running like clockwork and things will be put into place just in time.

      Only a resource shortage can stop it and a massive consumption reduction can solve that problem.

    • As I understand the situation, Home Capital is not really a bank. Instead, it must get its funds for lending from elsewhere. It is hard to see how a business of this type of organization can compete with true banks, especially when times are tough. I presume that there are regulators for this kind of business. They should have stepped in long ago.

      Is this method of organization common elsewhere in the world? How long has this type of operation been going on?

  31. Remember smite?

    He had some strange sexual fantasies, but that aside, his technofeudalism idea was basically sound.

    I believe that will be the course taken. Resources dominated by the top few, and the rest living in abject penury.

    That is the only way to continue BAU.

    Gail continues to argue that it will destroy the economy, but since most of the wealth is already in the hands of the top few, only a small change of consumption rate will take place.

    Wages? They will be eliminated. The top 3% can do all the consumption, just like the Renaissance age when the nobles and a few merchants did all the consumption.

    I think that Gail should read up the economic history of the middle ages and the early modern world. The age which we are going back to existed back then.

    • Van Kent says:

      Sign me up for that utopia..
      Now.. what do we need.. hmm.. first lets abolish democracy, freedom and the internet globally.. next.. pensions.. gone.. health care.. gone.. governments and banks, gone.. all debts just gone.. ohh.. wait.. if we do all that.. then we do away with ALL the raw materials of.. everything.. ALL the spares of.. everything.. and ALL like.. well.. everything.. then there is ZERO industry, ZERO transport, ZERO grid, ZERO food, ZERO heat and.. hmm.. well.. zero people.. Dang..

      Interconnectedness on a global scale seems to be a difficult concept for people. This world of ours is an interconnected place. Raw materials dont materialize like in Star Trek. Spares dont walk in on the shelf by themselves. Energy doesnt blink in to existance like Captain Kirk. It takes a global economy to have an global economy.

      Why is it so difficult for people to realize what it takes to build a simple computer? How many miles raw materials, parts, spares, equipment, energy of all sorts are transported by ship, rail, truck to make all the nodes of commerce to finally have one computer made from a factory? Or how many nodes of commerce the global economy needs to keep the internet going? Or how many nodes to have a dairy farmer, or a field of wheat, or the grid.

      • Because, nowdays most production is done without people. All the routine is already in the computer.

        World is running like clockwork. I am aware that raw material cannot grow on trees, but existing material with only 200 mil people consuming it will be enough to reach the next step of tech.

        And, we will have zero people since the few transhumans will not be called human anymore.

        • try to imagine humankind as a pyramid

          200m humans cannot build and sustain a pyramid of technology such as we are currently used to

          let your mind range across the millions of ‘things’ that support us right now–to make each one requires energy input and human ingenuity—we cannot function without them.
          200m humans cannot deliver all those things we think of as essential–our current civilisation is just too complex irrespective of any robotic input—robots are built with ‘things’ too—and humans make them

        • DJ says:

          Currently about 30-50% (roughly) are working, in developed nations. How do we get from here to 0% working (only owners) before collapse?

          • smite says:

            Define “working”. 😉

            My estimate, based on experience is that max ~1% of the workforce actually produces something of any use at all. It’s all a gigantic jobs program enabled by cheap FF’s.

            • Lizzy says:

              I think you are right.

            • DJ says:

              Getting wages in return for being employed.

              The trouble is it is hard deciding who is useless and not, and for most it is a percentage.

              How do you rank a kindergarten teacher who works all day to take care of children so a third of the parents can go home watch teve, a third to a make believe job and a third to a useful job?

              Are building houses to useless people a useful job?

            • Work could be defined as the support structure provided by those of us who produce base energy, which is food.
              That leads to the secondary level, those who produce heat,….. oil coal gas wood and so on.

              Those base producers must deliver a surplus. If they do not, then the rest of us have a problem

              If those energy producers are secure in what they do (for the rest of us), then we can carry on being employed doing whatever is is we do. Which is making stuff, and facilitating the buying and selling of it to one another, the caring for our young and old, liesure time and everything else.

              Most people are unaware of that ”requirement of surplus” and assume that ”living” just happens.

              When the surplus runs out things are going to get very unpleasant as folks demand that it continues.

    • unfortunately the big difference between then and our ‘now’ is knowledge

      In the 13thc, we didnt know that man could fly, or the plague could be cured, or that disease wasn’t gods wrath, or that light could be produced at the flick of a switch.—so man was content with his lot, more or less.

      Now we do—and that knowledge cannot be erased—so that discontent will manifest itself into violent unrest and ‘conspiracy theories’ that cures and other stuff are being witheld to kill us all off.

      As to ‘wealth being in the hands of the few’—this is a fantasy. The wealth of the few exists through the labour of the majority. Remove that labour support and all wealth will be reduced to a common median. Trump towers will be worth nothing if there is no energy input into them.
      If you read up on medieval history–you will find that when the black death wiped out a third of the workforce, the elite panicked because their source of energy had been vastly reduced and their lifestyle was under threat. That reduction was temporary, and corrected itself in subsequent years.

      In our future, the workforce will not correct itself, so the ‘elite’ will not be sustained. Their lifestyles will collapse

      • ARBP says:

        Norman Pagett says: “If you read up on medieval history–you will find that when the black death wiped out a third of the workforce, the elite panicked because their source of energy had been vastly reduced and their lifestyle was under threat. That reduction was temporary, and corrected itself in subsequent years.”
        The elite are worried about low birth rates in OECD countries for the same reason. The welfare systems and their sources of wealth will evaporate without enough potential workers. Even with all the energy at their disposal, human labor is critically important which is why the are pushing for open borders and free trade…measures that will keep wages low…the alternative is higher wages and high wages are , for them, much worse than lower wages. They would love to automate all workers away, but they can’t do it yet but they think they are close, even though their researchers who are working on AI are saying that we are not close to automating all work away. The elite still support family planning because they believe the rise of AI will make humans workers less necessary.

    • ARBP says:

      kulmthestatusquo says:

      “Remember Smite? He had some strange sexual fantasies, but that aside, his technofeudalism idea was basically sound.”

      You and the robot s e x fanatic are in the same boat.
      You two refuse to accept that the level of technology we have is ALSO unsustainable.
      Machines consume resources too, and they consume A LOT.
      They also depend on a functioning human economy operated by humans and cannot operate by themselves.
      We are very far away from total automation.
      Get it through your robot s e x loving skulls.

      It seems to me that as some point that people who believe in high-tech dystopias admit that they have been convinced that high-tech dystopias are possible because of a piece of science fiction they were exposed to. Science fiction is fantasy. It some places it is rightfully classified as Fantasy rather than anything informed by science.

  32. adonis says:

    he Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday the 14th, that 75 cities will be designated cashless/less-cash townships, with an overwhelming 56 of them being in Gujarat. Modi is determined to bring India into the 21st century. He is being cheered behind the curtain and every government is keenly watching the results. The townships were actually selected on the basis of a recommendation by none other than Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) furthering the G20 agenda to stamp out tax evasion worldwide.

    We should be paying close attention to this effort for it is really a global effort to desperately try to support socialism in a world facing a complete collapse in the global monetary system that is on the horizon. Government keep borrowing with never any intention of paying anything off. It’s just one Ponzi Scheme until nobody buys the debt anymore and it just stops.

    • This looks like a disaster in the making to me.

      • edwinlloyd says:

        The Indian cashless experiment.
        A short term disaster for the citizens, yes, but a long term disaster for the government. If cash has been king in India, then it’s replacement will probably not be totally trackable cashless transactions, but another ad hoc medium of exchange or multiples thereof. Tax collections will drop since the official cashless economy will be shrinking. People used to untrackable cash transactions will not, I think, be so easily corralled. Look for the government to lose long run. Just like with raising teenagers, pull the leash too hard and it breaks.

  33. Creedon says:

    At this point in time, to call the system a debt system gives it more legitimacy than it deserves.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      “In order for us to maintain our way of living, we must, in a broad sense, tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. It is not necessary that the lies be particularly believable. The lies act as barriers to truth. These barriers to truth are necessary because without them many deplorable acts would become impossibilities. Truth must be at all costs avoided. When we do allow self-evident truths to percolate past our defenses and into our consciousness, they are treated like so many hand grenades rolling across the dance floor of an improbably macabre dance party. We try to stay out of harm’s way, afraid that they will go off, shatter our delusions, and leave us exposed to what we have done to ourselves and to the world, expose us as the hollow people we have become. And so we avoid these truths, these self-evident truths, and continue the dance of world destruction.”

      –Derrick Jensen

  34. ITEOTWAWKI says:

    Clueless humans don’t realize that they and all 7.5B of us are here because of FFs and that if you take FFs away it is axiomatic that we disappear as well…Long live BAU!!! (too bad it’s not that long before it fails..)

    • Kurt says:

      Yup, any day now. You bet. Maybe like you know, tomorrow. Or maybe the day after tomorrow. That’s right. The day after tomorrow. That makes sense. There have always been doomers. There will always be doomers.

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        BTW Kurt, your call of summer of 2020 is tomorrow in the great scheme of things…

        • Kurt says:


        • Bergen Johnson says:

          So 2020 is the new point in time for collapse, to replace 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018. In 2020, it will be 2022 or 2025… I got so bored waiting for collapse I went on with my life, yet I still lurk here from time to time to get the latest take on when collapse is predicted to occur. Just remember, existence is a shape shifting form. What seems like it will be collapse even as it rises over the horizon will simply morph into a different set of circumstances with new rules, new currency, new people in power. A lot of different constructs can occur on the way down, because that’s how you get to the bottom, gradually, painfully, with lots of changes. It would be merciful if it occurred like pulling a bandaid off, but alas it will be more like a series of tortures, retreats, reorganizing, closing ranks, losses, more losses, bankruptcies, homelessness, co-ops, tent cities, fires, rages, skirmishes, retreats, assaults, weakness, illnesses, assertions, new rules, old leaders, tears, acceptance, loss, tiny gain, bigger loss, communal living doing lots of hard labor with angry demanding managers. Enjoy the remaining net energy while the going is good, then get real strong and ready to continually morph into different roles, situations and fewer calories. That’s the true face of collapse. Just ask someone in Venezuela.

          • smite says:

            Venezuela is in the ‘rapid’ collapse transition towards our common goal of dystopia and human automaton species extinction.

            Let’s hope the rest of us in the US of A (Western world + East Asia) will have a slower and more “pleasant” descent.


          • Creedon says:

            BAU will be at an end when the dollar fails and oil becomes just one of many sources of energy in use. At that point we will have to be about different things. Probably not talking about collapse on the internet. Mark me down for the 2020 camp. lol

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            “The criminals [politicians and neoliberal economists], who over the last 20 years have sold every good factory, company and bank that Poland had to foreign countries and corporations ought to be hanged from the lamp posts, not by the neck, but by hooks in their ribs so that they would suffer longer. The EU subsidies to Poland, while significant and helpful, have not replaced the real wealth and know-how Poland lost due to the buyouts. In recent years, two million young people have left Poland to work elsewhere, because there are no job perspectives for them. ”
            –Polish Cab Driver

            • jerry says:

              and yet Poland’s shipyards was the choice where British Columbia goes to buy/build our new ferries angering local industry?

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              I had a trimaran built in BC.

            • name says:

              Ukraine didn’t sell their companies, and where they’ve ended? Now about million Ukrainians work in Poland 🙂

            • name says:

              Edit: Warsaw skyline:

            • DJ says:

              Ukrainans work i Poland, poles work in Sweden, swedes in norway. Norwegians don’t work at all and I don’t know if any work is done in Ukraine.

            • LOL! Thanks to immigration, there are more Norwegian-Americans than there are Norwegians in Norway. My background is 100% Norwegian. One of my sisters had a cheek swab test that showed that she (and thus I) are more Norwegian than the typical Norwegian in Norway today. Whether I am working is debatable. I am not trying to make money from my labor.

    • dolph says:

      Here’s the thing:
      -protests that aren’t too threatening are allowed; this gives the illusion of mass participation and meaning
      -if a protest is ever about something important (mainly, direct action against government and corporations), the police forces come out in full force and put a stop to things, showing everyone who is boss

      Thereby, what we can conclude from this is that climate is simply not on the agenda

      • Artleads says:

        Hard to see why people think these marches are accomplishing all that much.

        • Bergen Johnson says:

          I’ve noticed in the US, that peaceful protests do nothing, but riots do everything. Think about the truth of that for a moment. Blacks rioted for their civil rights and it worked, or at least to some degree. But peaceful marches are simply ignored. The reason why is because it makes it too easy on the authority. It’s the same in a disagreement between two people. If one person never reacts harshly the other person feels emboldened to dominate the exchange.

          “Mr. President the people are protesting.”

          “Are they getting violent?”


          “Ok, so what? I don’t care, now where’s my most perfect chocolate cake anyone has ever seen before in the entire history of humankind?”

          “Coming right up.”

          • Artleads says:

            Yes, I increasingly believe that only might works. But there are different forms of “might” too, I suppose. In Liberia, faced with a titanic struggle to elect the first female president over a male football hero, the women buried their husbands’ and sons’ voting cards in the yard. She won.

            • DJ says:

              Very democratic.

            • Artleads says:


              I promote democracy (and think it can be salvaged) wherever it works! But when it’s a choice between a Charles Taylor-type dickhead and democracy, the choice should be clear.

              Also, if it’s a choice between life and democracy, the choice should be clearer still.

          • doomphd says:

            Sorry Mr. President, the most perfect chocolate cake was served to Marie Antoinette a long time ago.

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Anyone seen any members of the French Aristocracy lately?

            • @doomphd and Duncan Idaho

              Actually the French Aristocracy is not doing too badly.


              People only remember Louis and Marie Antoinette’s head being chopped. They tend to forget that Louix XVIII and then Charles X ruled the Bourbons after England removed Napoleon.

              Marie Antionette’s daughter married the Dauphin, Charles X’s son.

              The Bourbons only went extinct because Charles X’s grandson , the Count of Chambord , was childless. If he had heirs he would have become King Henri V on 1871.

              Sorry. The royals do not die. They are forever.

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Must admit, I knew a Bourbon.
              He was a excellent mycologist, and still wealthy (but living in the US)

        • jeremy890 says:

          Very Democratic
          EPA Scrubs Climate Change Sections From Website Hours Before Climate March

          It took (almost) 100 days but the Environmental Protection Agency has finally gone ahead and removed references to climate change science from its websites. The EPA issued a statement saying the website will be “undergoing changes that reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt

          The Lukewarmer are desperate….

  35. Duncan Idaho says:
    Gas rigs have doubled since August; output falls 1.2%
    Average Marcellus well produces 51% of what it did a year ago

    • Wow! That could be important, especially with all the plans for exports overseas (in an attempt to raise prices). Natural gas prices tend to be very volatile, so I can imagine somewhat more of a spike for gas prices than for oil. Natural gas prices have been low for producers for a long time. If gas producers knew that prices would rise, and stay high for an extended period, they would be able to extract from lower quality resources. But they don’t know this–in fact, it is probably not true.

    • Thanks! I should be more aware of this, since I live in the Atlanta suburbs.

      I suspect the issue is as much low wages, or lack of good paying jobs, as anything else. Any housing that is not heavily subsidized would be unaffordable for quite a few people. I am not sure whether there is a real need for more housing–it is possible the same effect would be obtained by subsidizing existing housing.

      • Artleads says:

        “it is possible the same effect would be obtained by subsidizing existing housing.”

        You mean vacant houses? Rooms for rent in occupied houses? There are many confusing issues around subsidizing rent–something different for every kind of habitat and every different jurisdiction, I suspect. But then I suppose the issue is what’s available or possible in Atlanta?

        • The general direction we need to be moving in, is people living more compactly–more multi generation families in a house, for example, and more room-mates sharing homes or apartments. The direction we have been moving in is the ever-richer, more energy-use direction–everyone single person should have his own apartment; every unmarried woman with multiple children should have her own home, preferably with several bedrooms and more than one bath. Immigrants moving to the US typically live a great deal more compactly, but we in our “culture” cannot consider this option.

          I don’t know how a person gets people to make a change of this type. The people who are now homeless include a lot of mentally ill people and a lot of drug addicts. These people often don’t make good house mates.

          The “build more housing” solution has the advantage of temporarily creating jobs, adding debt, and pulling up commodity prices. But this is true, whether the housing is subsidized or unsubsidized. It would be possible to build unsubsidized new housing in the space occupied by the unused stadium. Subsidies could be used (independently of this program) in a way that does not concentrate people with problems in one place. Or people who are having problems with meeting rent obligations could be “matched up,” so that they could share apartments. When paying only shared rent, fewer subsidies should be needed.

          • Artleads says:

            This is fascinating! In my activist work in a low-income, minority-majority city in CA, Mexican immigrants increasingly moved in. They’d help each other find apartments to rent, and a wondrous number of them would live together in that modest space. They all worked like crazy, all kinds of hours, and so it was possible to share the same bed, based on the shifts people worked. They took care of each other’s children–and there was a high rate of child bearing. No American would ever dream of living like that. I’ve come close, but even I balk at the level of intermingling.

            But there is another aspect to the equation of cost saving, and this has to do with the loner types (with whom I perhaps have more in common). For instance, I and my family–including three children–were once homeless, but we also had a car to move around in, enabling some relief from harassment. In a pinch, we all could sleep in the car. That experience tells me that a lot of loner single people–mentally challenged but maybe not substance abusers perhaps, or just loner types without money–that they could exist almost luxuriously by living in some arrangement of abandoned vehicles. Design training also gives me a head start on seeing how that can be done and not just be a mess. The problem, in this case, is to get the land! But getting the abandoned vehicles (which have a cost) is a problem too. Getting subsidy for those expensive items is what i’d like to see. The actual shelter is the least of the problem. So getting your abandoned air bases to work with would be ideal! Abandoned military vehicle, planes, etc. might make this all more affordable too.

            Another wild breakthrough: I had been thinking where to store garden tools, and how to concoct a space near the garden that cost nothing. I made all kinds of sketches, until a very simple idea dawned. There were all these wide boards from old mining-days left overs. We had them in the yard, me trying to persuade my wife to wait and not throw them in the dump. So here’s what came to me: just lean the boards against the back wall. Neatly, so the edges lined up, abutting at a “stop” on the ground made of one of the boards. That’s all the tools needed. To be shielded from the sun and most of the elements. It was the simplest thing in the world, but still it took some time to figure it out! I could see applying some of this simple methodology to homeless shelter. If sawdust supply were subsidized, compost toilets would be virtually cost free, and available to each individual. Then where to put the waste and how to manage it (fairly simple and maybe increasingly simple as people learned the how’s and how not’s themselves) could be another subsidy…

            • DJ says:

              If it weren’t for kids I would just sleep in a tent, at least 10mo / y. Just trying to borrow/rent a mailbox and minimal storage from friend or relative.

            • I think we need to move away from the idea of subsidies. Governments are finding it harder and harder to provide the services they have already promised. I think we need to move more in the direction of removing rules that, for example, would prevent parking cars in some government-owned spaces that might be suitable for otherwise homeless people to live. I have the impression that there are quite a few homeless people living in cars that run, at least somewhat. That way they can be moved from place to place, so that they are not a problem in any one location.

              After collapse is in full swing, there will be a lot of unused cars, as well as a lot of unused homes. This is one reason I get less than enthusiastic about building a whole lot more homes. Of course, building homes does help raise the total amount of debt, and does help raise the demand for commodities, and does provide jobs.

            • ARBP says:

              Gail writes “The general direction we need to be moving in, is people living more compactly–more multi generation families in a house, for example”

              Two things:

              This is an option for extremely gregarious people with a low amount of ambition and territoriality. There is a psychological limit to how many people can be crammed in an area.

              People are already sharing apartments–specifically the expensive apartments (the only kind that are deemed profitable by the real estate industry. The housing sector responds to housing shortages or rising prices by building more and more high-end luxury housing.) in most cities around the United States, because very few people earn enough money to pay the market rate for an apartment. Many poor people already live in crowded housing arrangements.

              I lied. There is one more thing I’d like to bring up.

              Gail writes” The direction we have been moving in is the ever-richer, more energy-use direction–everyone single person should have his own apartment; every unmarried woman with multiple children should have her own home, preferably with several bedrooms and more than one bath” Gail is missing another aspect to housing in the U.S.:

              Getting one’s own apartment or house is culturally seen as sign of adulthood and a level of success. Parents don’t treat their adult children like adults if they “live on their roofs.” and men are treated like failures if they don’t “have their own place”.

              The only way the culture can be changed if it is replaced with something extremely parochial where individualism and ambition is shunned. This parochial paradigm would be bad for GDP and the complex systems we rely on to survive because people will, from what I’ve seen, only be working hard enough to secure resources for everyone who lives in their home. This parochial view of life is often called corruption by OCED countries and happens quite frequently in poorer parts of the world, where multi-generational homes are common.

            • Artleads says:

              I assumed that collapse (or full blown collapse as some call it) is not survivable. And back to the Leonardo Dome that keeps us growing–some of the sticks are crumbling of their own accord and through bad initial construction. So I have questioned if the faulty sticks could be replaced with “sounder materials.”

        • Artleads says:

          “After collapse is in full swing, there will be a lot of unused cars, as well as a lot of unused homes. This is one reason I get less than enthusiastic about building a whole lot more homes. Of course, building homes does help raise the total amount of debt, and does help raise the demand for commodities, and does provide jobs.”

          It’s not that rules can’t be useful; a bigger problem is that they’re the wrong rules. Another problem is that there are a great deal of valuable building material from salvage that’s being wasted in the dump. I fail to see why with different rules and better use of dump-bound materials, there couldn’t be decent jobs putting them to use.

          For instance, there is already custom and know-how to build relatively luxurious tiny houses:

          While money is still being sloshed around for McMansions that two people rattle around it, 12 tiny houses could alternatively be builtin the same physical space. That gives 12 families stability for the same number of jobs.

          I live in an old mining town that still has lots of good-quality old wood piled up in yards throughout town. Given that the town was much, much more dense during the mining period, I shudder to think how much more wood there had been available that was burned or dumped. Different aesthetic standards that allow for commercial use of such materials could provide some help, I think.

          • DJ says:

            It would be nice if rules were becoming more relaxed, in Sweden the trend is still moving in the other direction.

            And even if you could build a house on 400-600 square foot according to rules, who will do it if you have to pay $150k or so only for land, permits, mandatory water and electricity. Better to pay $100-200k more for double land and 2000 square feet home.

            • I understand that in the US, the move is to add more and more to the front-end costs per unit, including schools and roads. This makes new homes terribly expensive, no matter how small.

            • DJ says:

              Same here, very expensive however you do. Permit, one-time tax, building inspector, insurance, communal water and waste, a lot is only hidden tax.

              A lot of mandatory stuff for disabled, fire security, burglar security, environmental blah blah.

              Side effect: if new home costs 5M, then price of 5-10 year old home also rises towards 5M because the buyer doesn’t care about all the extra or that the hidden taxes were lower before. (Or if it is the other way around: current homes are so expensive so government can get away with all kinds of taxes and rules)

      • edwinlloyd says:

        The FED has the largest portfolio of real estate. They are talking about selling and downsizing that set of holdings. I would expect that to lower the cost of real estate.

        • edwinlloyd says:

          Oh! This is a further comment on subsidies: Subsidized things and activities grow and are ‘sticky’ in continuing longer than their optimum useful life. If change is what we agree is needed, and governments can no longer afford subsidies then discontinuing/phasing them out is the best way to go. Gail is spot on with this. Just to prove the stickiness factor, many of can’t even imagine what to do without the subsidies, let alone start something constructively different.

        • Artleads says:

          I’ve never felt that selling government property was good. My impression is that a) they sell it for too little, b) the money gained isn’t used for maximum leverage of public good, c) the government properties have an aggregating potential that is lost with the fracturing into small bits of private ownership, d) private ownership of property such as land, will go toward speculation that benefits only a relative few and has questionable system-wide benefit.

  36. Van Kent says:

    Exxon Is Giving Its Shale Unit a Long Leash
    The oil giant has freed XTO from cumbersome corporate controls so it can chase opportunities where it finds them

    In the February deal, Exxon won control over 275,000 acres, including a quarter-million in the Delaware region of the Permian Basin, the object of some of the global energy industry’s most frenzied dealmaking. According to sources, it took almost two years of negotiations with the Bass clan of Fort Worth wildcatters to bring it off. The family received $5.6 billion in Exxon stock and is entitled to contingent cash payouts of as much as $1 billion over the next 15 years. At around $24,000 an acre, the price for those rights is a fraction of the $60,000 QEP Resources Inc. shelled out last year for Permian drilling rights. XTO will deploy 15 new rigs, which will more than double the size of Exxon’s fleet of rigs in the Permian Basin.

  37. Van Kent says:

     India will not be able to meet its Paris climate agreement commitments in the coming years if it carries through with plans to construct nearly 370 coal-fired power plants, according to University of California, Irvine and CoalSwarm researchers.

    India relies heavily on coal; 70 percent of the country’s power comes from plants burning the fuel. Because of its historically low cost and accessibility (India has large domestic coal reserves), it’s seen as furthering India’s quest to become a manufacturing and economic powerhouse and as a way to provide electricity to the roughly 300 million people in the nation who don’t have it.

    • Bergen Johnson says:

      One of the situations with India is the hundreds of millions of people they want to pull out of poverty, but they say the only way to do that is with super cheap, easily available coal. Ah, the UN has such big hearts (on our behalf) they can’t bring themselves to say anything against that ideal, so they decree, we understand, go ahead but ‘eventually’ you will need to make a transition to renewables. But later on there will be hundreds of millions more people in poverty (because all that cheap energy provided the opportunity to breed) with the need to burn even more coal, and so on, until the aquifers dry out, they truck in water for as long as they can provide enough until they can’t, then they migrate and pile on more trouble for wherever they end up.

  38. Van Kent says:

    The Crazy Scale of Human Carbon Emission
    Want some perspective on how much carbon dioxide human activity produces? Here it is

    The amount of CO2 emitted is the same amount, if a continental forest area 30% larger than Africa was burnt.. each and every year!

    Now here’s the thing. If that was actually happening, if a continental forest area 30% larger than Africa burnt to a crisp each and every year, we might be a bit concerned. Yes, a raging fire of 42 million square kilometers has some additional, immediate hazards above and beyond what comes out of a car exhaust or a power plant. And yes, the total mass of emittedCO2 does not reflect the total amount of absorbed CO2 in a year or the net increase. But wouldn’t we all be a little concerned about the impact on the global system?

    Let’s also, for a moment, do another thought experiment. You’re a long-lived, budding astrobiologist on the planet Proxima Centauri b. You’ve just spent several hundred Proxima b years using that world’s largest space telescope to take a spectrum of the light from an intriguing planet about 4 light years away. Some unknown process on this planet seems to be persistently adding carbon dioxide to its atmosphere. Seasons come and go, but the composition of the planet is changing during your own lifetime.

    Your conclusion? If there’s life on that world, something potentially catastrophic is happening to it. 

  39. jerry says:

    Here’s some good news and good news about what we need more of.

    • Moisture (actually pretty limited is enough) and sun are the basic pre conditions for restoration on majority of places around the globe, “nutrients and minerals” come next (derivatives), are not that essential for the first stages of renewal to take hold, before you start take substantially more via grazing etc. We had many bitter fights over this basic concept around it here, people just don’t understand how nature developed and works on this planet. And then there are many diverse schools already proven to work how to integrate it into agriculture for different regional-climate settings. Is it mostly incompatible with the legacy culture of ours, yes.

      Disclaimer: no I don’t plan to feed and heat billions of humanoids from central warehouse distribution on this approach..

    • The information that goes with the video says:

      Almost 50 years ago, fried chicken tycoon David Bamberger used his fortune to purchase 5,500 acres of overgrazed land in the Texas Hill Country. Planting grasses to soak in rains and fill hillside aquifers, Bamberger devoted the rest of his life to restoring the degraded landscape. Today, the land has been restored to its original habitat and boasts enormous biodiversity. Bamberger’s model of land stewardship is now being replicated across the region and he is considered to be a visionary in land management and water conservation.

      We have a lot of degraded land in the world. Trying to “fix” all of it would come at high cost. In many cases, it would be necessary to first buy the land. That would be a huge economic hurdle.

      • xabier says:

        Toy projects for the very wealthy, billionaires only need apply.

        Mere multi-millionaires want to see a good yield on their investment, as good as real estate at least, and this year, not next.

        One has to be much richer than that to indulge in such projects.

        Governments of course have the resources (ie credit) to do such things, but their motto is ‘Let the Concrete Pour!’ It’s happening all around me, agricultural land going under tarmac faster than one can take it in.

        • Artleads says:

          “Governments of course have the resources (ie credit) to do such things, but their motto is ‘Let the Concrete Pour!’ It’s happening all around me, agricultural land going under tarmac faster than one can take it in.”

          So many aspects of the whole to consider! Simple, straightforward ignorance and bias is one hurdle. The need for taxes is another. Not losing your place on the global economic treadmill still one more thing (maybe the most vexing?).

          But there are many opportunities to at least tackle the first two that are going unrecognized. The village where I live is the third largest source of tax income to the county, yet the county has historically treated it as its poor stepchild. I guess cultural bias against the lifestyle and philosophical underpinning is one reason for this. This chasm is reinforced by both the city and the county pulling against each other. Simply a behavioral problem, producing, if anything, a needless dampening of the economic system.

          We can’t overlook psychology and culture, and those are not set in stone.

  40. Cliffhanger says:

    Here is how I think collapse will occur. First the oil shortages will occur sometime around 2020-2022. The price of oil will moonbeam immediately following. Gasoline will be something like five or six dollars a gallon at first. The government will order fuel rationing for all vehicles something like
    20 gallons a car. After a year of this the economy will go into another great recession. After the second year the government will make owning gasoline totally illegal, except for the military and agriculture sectors. This will cause the collapse of global capitalism and the stock market. It will then be every country on their own. At this point any American who wants any food to eat will be ordered to work as slaves in the agriculture and energy sectors. There will be massive amounts of suicides and family suicides all across America due to the fact that they own so many guns.

    • You are following the standard knee-jerk reaction of people who do not understand how interconnected the economy is.

      A shortage of energy supplies means more wage disparity, and lower wages (or lack of jobs) for a growing share of the population. It also means more problems repaying debt with interest. These issues tend to lead to lower prices, rather than higher prices. A shortage can, at most, mean a small spike in prices. It is likely to lead instead to a glut in supply, because a growing number of people cannot afford goods made with oil. Manufacturing tends to shift to countries using cheaper energy supplies.

      The big problem is likely to be banks that are closed. In fact, electricity may not be available, so no-one knows what your bank account balance used to be. Businesses can’t pay workers in such a scenarios. The economy fails because the system doesn’t work.

      Peak oilers imagine a scenario such as the one you are talking about. I think our problem is at least equally falling coal usage. This is collapsing the world economy.

      Before collapse, there may indeed be some places with shortages of oil, but this is because of lack of affordability. The New York Times had an article this week called “In Mexico, an Epidemic of Fuel Thefts Becomes a Crisis“. People steal gasoline from pipelines, and sell it for less than half of the regular price of gasoline, to make it more affordable to the people. (Previously, in Mexico, the government was able to provide gasoline at a subsidized price, thanks to the fact that it was an oil exporter, and it was collecting taxes based on a high sales price of oil. Once the price of oil dropped, it could no longer provide the subsidy. This is a big part of what is causing the crisis.)

      • Cliffhanger says:

        In the 1970’s just a 3% shortage of oil to America tripled the price of oil. Now just imagine what a five percent shortage to the entire world will do? Or even higher possibly? This will be a catastrophe to our economy. And once the economy collapses the government will nationalize the energy companies and take control over all the remaining oil in America.

        • psile says:

          The economy has already collapsed, only money printing is shoring it up. Once the things that money can buy that are essential to keep civilisation afloat head into terminal decline, that is the end. For you can’t print finite resources. Oil is still likely to be the tripwire.

        • This isn’t the 1970s. Wages were rising rapidly, back then. We were having a real problem with inflation, even before the shortage of oil hit.

          Now we are facing the opposite problem– a real problem with deflation and wages that are not keeping up. Economic growth is below “stall” level.

          Ian Schindler sometimes comments on this blog. He and Aude Illig have written an academic paper, “Oil Extraction, Economic Growth, and Oil Price Dynamics.” They show that prices can be expected to decline after production starts contracting, speeding the reduction in supply. This article was published in “Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality,” which is the new journal of the EROEI folks–the people you would expect to be arguing the opposite.

          Richard Heinberg has followed the standard “Peak Oil” narrative of high prices allowing us to get 50% of oil out after peak. Yet he talks about this article (and some others) in his latest post.

          People are starting to figure out that the limit on production is prices that stay too low, because of lack of affordability. Prices may temporarily bounce up a little, but without a combination of wage growth and debt growth, the world cannot sustain high energy prices.

          • Cliffhanger says:

            The reason prices I believe will spike sky high is due to the traders on wall street.

            • psile says:

              There won’t be much trading after the electricity fails, the banks are shut down and everyone is broke, qv Gail’s post above…

          • Cliffhanger says:

            I read the paper thank you Gail. I stand corrected. Thanks for the clearing that up for me.

          • Van Kent says:

            There seem to be some common misunderstandings

            1. When the easy resources have been taken (50 – 60 – 70%), the economy can transform itself instantly to something completely different to get the hard to get resources (50 – 40 – 30%). It cant. The hard to get resources will stay in the ground forever.

            2. People tend to think it would be possible in some way, to have small pockets of coal or NG or oil communities with high living standards. People forget spares and raw materials come from all over the world. Its all or nothing.

            3. People think it will be gradual and different paces for different regions. It wont. Cutting off oil transports is one thing, cutting off spares from china is another. But first having every single bank and government default at the same time, makes it happen at the same time, everywhere.

            But then there are even more misunderstandings in this cottage industry of doomers, as Richard Heinberg called it there in the article..

            A. Most countries do have oil and food 12 months in storage. Somebody, somehow in some way will get to use those resources. Those resources wont disappear even if banks default.

            B. One man, wearing a cool leather jacket, against the world.. wont get to those resources. But organizing a community that knows what to do when the grid comes down, just might.

            I see three levels of misunderstandings. First, all Doomers are bonkers – people thinking BAU will go on forever. Secondly, BAU lite, gradual small collapsing here and there – people forgetting finance – raw materials – spares – energy are global in nature. All or nothing baby. But then I see a third misunderstanding.. The Prepper family, one man with his prepper wife against everybody. Maybe cousin Bob can join.. but then its us against them..

            When the grid comes down most people wont understand what is happening. The few who understand, now, what will happen, then, can make plans, lists of things to do for the whole community. Only communities can survive. Only communities can get to those above mentioned resources. Only communitites can set the law of the land. Individuals cant.

            • I am afraid that even the community level is not really great enough for survival. We do not have the necessary range of easily available resources needed on a worldwide basis; it is hard to imaging many areas the world where the have the necessary range of resources available locally. We have developed a culture at such a high level of “complexity” that it is hard to maintain it. The extreme level of specialization makes it impossible for any group to keep the current culture up. Setting up a local alternative, on a less complex basis, for any reasonable number of people, would be a very resource intensive undertaking. I question whether it really could be done, although some sustainability groups are aiming to do something vaguely similar. If people want to try, I don’t object, but I suspect that we are mostly trying to extended the survival time of a few relatively rich people by at most a few years.

      • Cliffhanger says:

        Gail what is your thoughts on how the politicians will handle oil shortages hitting the world? What will they say to the public? What reasons will they blame it on? how do you think things will happen?

        • Strange as it may seem, the issue, as we “run out of oil”, is that prices fall too low for oil producers. This is what leads to the end of oil (and coal and gas) supply. This is not the sign politicians are looking for, so they will be clueless until the end, as will be most of the population. The situation will look like a glut—exactly as it does now. The problem is that oil, even at the price that is too low for producers, is too high for many would-be consumers. Consumers cannot afford vehicles made with oil, or new homes made with oil products, and governments cannot afford to pave roads with asphalt (from oil). (The problem is more than the price of oil at the pump.)

          The thing that comes after prices that are too low for producers is collapse of some oil producers, such as Venezuela, and perhaps Nigeria. (Remember the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991. They were an oil exporter that collapsed earlier, when oil prices were too low.) About the same time, we can expect to start experiencing a lot of bank failures. Banks will be closed. We may lose electricity, so no one knows what their bank account is/was. Demand for energy products, including oil, will goes to zero in this scenario. We may see the collapse of the European Union.

          So we will “run out” of oil, and the economy will collapse, without it the symptoms most people expect. The problem that people don’t realize is that any oil over about $20 per barrel is not very affordable oil. We don’t run out of oil; we run out of affordable oil.

          Since everyone, including politicians, is looking for the wrong sign, the whole problem will miss them. They have listened to “peak oilers,” and their view that prices will rise as we run out. At most, we will have a few small spikes. They won’t rise long enough to fix the problem producers are producing.

          This is a link to an academic article, published this year, explaining why prices go down, rather than up. as we “run out.”

          The way I think of the problem is that we are encountering the problem that people throughout the ages have encountered, which is falling resources per capita. This could play out several ways—for example, rising population, and the same amount of arable land. Or the land could become salty from bad irrigation procedures, so less food could be grown on it. What happened in these situation was equivalent to arable land being divided up into smaller farms. With these smaller farms, farmers could not earn as much, measures in bushels of wheat or whatever they were producing. Thus, they had little to trade for goods they needed, pulling down prices, rather than raising them. The situation was like the Depression in the US in the 1930s, when farmers threw out milk, because they could not sell it at a high enough prices to cover their costs.

          The situation is not easy to understand, so the economy will collapse, while politicians are busy looking for different signs.

  41. dolph says:

    In other news, the living population according to some estimates has passed 7.5 billion. The top ten youngest countries are all in Africa. And, Islam is on course to become the world’s largest religion.

    But of course, we need to keep feeding the world, right? At least that’s what the celebrities, politicians, and do gooders keep going on and on about. Christian/atheist, conservative/liberal, doesn’t matter, all that anybody thinks about is more.

    More, more, more! The ideology of our age.

    • Good point! Feeding more people, and stopping global warming. The two goals are totally incompatible, but these are the things that sell. They are part of the new state sponsored religion of the day.