The Next Financial Crisis Is Not Far Away

Recently, a Spanish group called “Ecologist in Action” asked me to give them a presentation on what kind of financial crisis we should expect. They wanted to know when it would be and how it would take place.

The answer I had for the group is that we should expect financial collapse quite soon–perhaps as soon as the next few months. Our problem is energy related, but not in the way that most Peak Oil groups describe the problem. It is much more related to the election of President Trump and to the Brexit vote.

I have talked about this subject in various forms before, but not since 2016 energy production and consumption data became available. Most of the slides in this presentation use new BP data, through 2016. A copy of the presentation can be found at this link: The Next Financial Crisis.1

Slide 1

Most people don’t understand how interconnected the world economy is. All they understand is the simple connections that economists make in their models.

Slide 2

Energy is essential to the economy, because energy is what makes objects move, and what provides heat for cooking food and for industrial processes. Energy comes in many forms, including sunlight, human energy, animal energy, and fossil fuels. In today’s world, energy in the form of electricity or petroleum makes possible the many things we think of as technology.

In Slide 2, I illustrate the economy as hollow because we keep adding new layers of the economy on top of the old layers. As new layers (including new products, laws, and consumers) are added, old ones are removed. This is why we can’t necessarily use a prior energy approach. For example, if cars can no longer be used, it would be difficult to transition back to horses. This happens partly because there are few horses today. Also, we do not have the facilities in cities to “park” the horses and to handle the manure, if everyone were to commute using horses. We would have a stinky mess!

Slide 3

In the past, many local civilizations have grown for a while, and then collapsed. In general, after a group finds a way to produce more food (for example, cuts down trees so that citizens have more area to farm) or finds another way to otherwise increase productivity (such as adding irrigation), growth at first continues for a number of generations–until the population reaches the new carrying capacity of the land. Often resources start to degrade as well–for example, soil erosion may become a problem.

At this point, growth flattens out, and wage disparity and growing debt become greater problems. Eventually, unless the group can find a way of increasing the amount of food and other needed goods produced each year (such as finding a way to get food and other materials from territories in other parts of the world, or conquering another local civilization and taking their land), the civilization is headed for collapse. We recently have tried globalization, with exports from China, India, and other Asian nations fueling world economic growth.

At some point, the efforts to keep growing the economy to match rising population become unsuccessful, and collapse sets in. One of the reasons for collapse is that the government cannot collect enough taxes. This happens because with growing wage disparity, many of the workers cannot afford to pay much in taxes. Another problem is greater susceptibility to epidemics, because after-tax income of many workers is not sufficient to afford an adequate diet.

Slide 4

A recent partial collapse of a local civilization was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. When this happened, the government of the Soviet Union disappeared, but the governments of the individual states within the Soviet Union remained. The reason I call this a partial collapse is because the rest of the world was still functioning, so nearly all of the population remained, and the cutback in fuel consumption was just partial. Eventually, the individual member countries were able to function on their own.

Notice that after the Soviet Union collapsed, the consumption of coal, oil and gas collapsed at the same time, over a period of years. Oil and coal use have not come back to anywhere near their earlier level. While the Soviet Union had been a major manufacturer and a leader in space technology, it lost those roles and never regained them. Many types of relatively high-paying jobs have been lost, leading to lower energy consumption.

Slide 5

As nearly as I can tell, one of the major contributing factors to the collapse of the Soviet Union was low oil prices. The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. As oil prices fell, the government could not collect sufficient taxes. This was a major contributing factor to collapse. The collapse from low oil prices did not happen immediately–it took several years after the drop in oil prices. There was a 10-year gap between the highest oil price (1981) and collapse (1991), and a 5-year gap after oil prices dropped to the low 1986 price level.

Slide 6

Venezuela is often in the news because of its inability to afford to import enough food for its population. Slide 3 shows that on an inflation-adjusted basis, world oil prices hit a high point first in 2008, and again in 2011. Since 2011, oil prices slid slowly for a while, then began to slide more quickly in 2014. It is now nine years since the 2008 peak. It is six years since the 2011 peak, and about three years since the big drop in prices began.

One of the reasons for Venezuela’s problems is that with low oil prices, the country has been unable to collect sufficient tax revenue. Also, the value of the currency has dropped, making it difficult for Venezuela to afford food and other products on international markets.

Note that in both Slides 4 and 6, I am showing the amount of energy consumed in the countries shown. The amount consumed represents the amount of energy products that individual citizens, plus businesses, plus the government, can afford. This is why, in both Slides 4 and 6, the quantity of all types of energy products tends to decline at the same time. Affordability affects many types of energy products at once.

Slide 7

Oil importing countries can have troubles when oil prices rise, similar to the problems that oil exporting countries have when oil prices fall. Greece’s energy consumption peaked in 2007. One of Greece’s major products is tourism, and the cost of tourism depends on the price of oil. When the price of oil was high, it adversely affected tourism. Exported goods also became expensive in the world market. Once oil prices dropped (as they have done, especially since 2014), tourism tended to rebound and the financial situation became less dire. But total energy consumption has still tended to decline (top “stacked” chart on Slide 7), indicating that the country is not yet doing well.

Slide 8

Spain follows a pattern similar to Greece’s. By the mid-2000s, high oil prices made Spain less competitive in the world market, leading to falling job opportunities and less energy consumption. Since 2014, very low oil prices have allowed tourism to rebound. Oil consumption has also rebounded a bit. But Spain is still far below its peak in energy consumption in 2007 (top chart on Slide 8), indicating that job opportunities and spending by its citizens are still low.

Slide 9

We hear much about rising manufacturing in the Far East. This has been made possible by the availability of both inexpensive coal supplies and inexpensive labor. India is an example of a country where manufacturing has risen in recent years. Slide 9 shows how rapidly energy consumption–especially coal–has risen in India.

Slide 10

China’s energy consumption grew very rapidly after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. In 2013, however, China’s coal consumption hit a peak and began to decline. One major contributor was the fact that the cheap-to-consume coal that was available nearby had already been extracted. The severe problems that China has had with pollution from coal may also have played a role.

It might be noted that the charts I am showing (from Mazamascience) do not include renewable energy (including wind and solar, plus burned garbage and other “renewables”) used to produce electricity. (The charts do include ethanol and other biofuels within the “oil” category, however.) The omission of wind and solar does not appear to make a material difference, however. Figure 1 shows a chart I made for China, comparing three totals:

(1) Opt. total (Optimistic total) – Totals on the basis BP computes wind and solar. Intermittent wind and solar electricity is assumed to be equivalent to high quality electricity, available 24/7/365, produced by fossil fuel electricity-generating stations.

(2) Likely totals – Wind and solar are assumed to replace only the fuel that creates high quality electricity. The amount of backup generating capacity required is virtually unchanged. More long distance transmission is needed; other enhancements are also needed to bring the electricity up to grid-quality. The credits given for wind and solar are only 38% as much as those given in the BP methodology.

(3) From chart – Mazamascience totals, omitting renewable sources of electricity, other than hydroelectric.

Figure 1. China energy consumption based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017.

It is clear from Figure 1 that adding electricity from renewables (primarily wind and solar) does not make much difference for China, no matter how wind and solar are counted. If they are counted in a realistic manner, they truly add little to China’s energy use. This is also true for the world in total.

Slide 11

If we look at the major parts of world energy consumption, we see that oil (including biofuels) is the largest. Recently, it seems to be growing slightly more quickly than other energy consumption, perhaps because of the low oil price. World coal consumption has been declining since 2014. If coal is historically the least expensive fuel, this is likely a problem. I have not shown a chart with total world energy consumption. It is still growing, but it is growing less rapidly than world population.

Slide 12 – Note: Energy growth includes all types of energy. This includes wind and solar, using wind and solar counted using the optimistic BP approach.

Economists have given the false idea that amount of energy consumption is unimportant. It is true that individual countries can experience lower consumption of energy products, if they begin outsourcing major manufacturing to other countries as they did after the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997. But it doesn’t change the world’s need for growing energy consumption, if the world economy is to grow. The growth in world energy consumption (blue line) tends to be a little lower than the growth in GDP (red line), because of efficiency gains over time.

If we look closely at Slide 12, we can see that drops in energy consumption tend to precede drops in world GDP; rises in energy consumption tend to precede rises in world GDP. This order of events strongly suggests that rising energy consumption is a major cause of world GDP growth.

We don’t have very good evaluations of  GDP amounts for 2015 and 2016. For example, recent world GDP estimates seem to accept without question the very high estimates of economic growth given by China, even though their growth in energy consumption is very much lower in 2014 through 2017. Thus, world economic growth may already be lower than reported amounts.

Slide 13

Most people are not aware of the extreme “power” given by energy products. For example, it is possible for a human to deliver a package, by walking and carrying the package in his hands. Another approach would be to deliver the package using a truck, operated by some form of petroleum. One estimate is that a single gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 500 hours of human labor.

“Energy consumption per capita” is calculated as world energy consumption divided by world population. If this amount is growing, an economy is in some sense becoming more capable of producing goods and services, and thus is becoming wealthier. Workers are likely becoming more productive, because the additional energy per capita allows the use of more and larger machines (including computers) to leverage human labor. The additional productivity allows wages to rise.

With higher incomes, workers can afford to buy an increasing amount of goods and services. Businesses can expand to serve the growing population, and the increasingly wealthy customers. Taxes can rise, so it is possible for governments to provide the services that citizens desire, such as healthcare and pensions. When energy consumption per capita turns negative–even slightly so–these abilities start to disappear. This is the problem we are starting to encounter.

Slide 14 – Note: Energy percentage increases include all energy sources shown by BP. Wind and solar are included using BP’s optimistic approach for counting intermittent renewables, so growth rates for recent years are slightly overstated.

We can look back over the years and see when energy consumption rose and fell. The earliest period shown, 1968 to 1972, had the highest annual growth in energy consumption–over 3% per year–back when oil prices were under $20 per barrel, and thus were quite affordable. (See Slide 5 for a history of inflation-adjusted price levels.) Once prices spiked in the 1973-1974 period, much of the world entered recession, and energy consumption per capita barely rose.

A second drop in consumption (and recession) occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when easy-to-adopt changes were made to cut oil usage and increase efficiency. These included

(a) Closing many electricity-generating plants using oil, and replacing them with other generation.

(b) Replacing many home heating systems operating with oil with systems using other fuels, often more efficiently.

(c) Changing many industrial processes to be powered by electricity instead of burning oil.

(d) Making cars smaller and more fuel-efficient.

Another big drop in world per capita energy consumption occurred with the partial collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This was a somewhat local drop in energy consumption, allowing the rest of the world to continue to grow in its use of energy.

The Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 was, in some sense, another localized crisis that allowed energy consumption to continue to grow in the rest of the world.

Most people remember the Great Recession in the 2007-2009 period, when world per capita growth in energy consumption briefly became negative. Recent data suggests that we are almost in the same adverse situation now, in terms of growth in world per capita energy consumption, as we were then.

Slide 15

What happens when growth in world per capita energy consumption slows and starts to fall? I have listed some of the problems in Slide 15. We start seeing problems with low wages, particularly for people with low-skilled jobs, and the type of political problems we have been experiencing recently.

Part of the problem is that countries with a high-priced mix of energy products start to find their goods and services uncompetitive in the world marketplace. Thus, demand for goods and services from these countries starts to fall. Greece and Spain are examples of countries using a lot of oil in their energy mix. As a result, they became less competitive in the world market when oil prices rose. China and India were favored because they had a less-expensive energy mix, favoring coal.

Slide 16

Slide 16 shows the kinds of comments we have been hearing in recent years, as prices have recently bounced up and down. It is becoming increasingly clear that no price of oil is now satisfactory for all participants in the economy. Prices are either too high for consumers, or too low for the producers. In fact, prices can be unsatisfactory for both consumers and producers at the same time.

On Slide 16, oil prices show considerable volatility. This happens because it is difficult to keep supply and demand exactly balanced; there are many factors determining needed price level, including both the amount consumers can afford and the costs of producers. The bouncing of prices up and down on Slide 16 is to a significant extent in response to interest rate changes, and resulting changes in currency relativities and debt growth.

We are now reaching a point where no interest rate works for all members of the economy. If interest rates are low, pension plans cannot meet their obligations. If interest rates are high, monthly payments for homes and cars become unaffordable for customers. Also, high interest rates tend to raise needed tax levels for governments.

Slide 17

All of these problems are fairly evident already.

Slide 18

The low level of energy consumption growth is of considerable concern. It is this low growth in energy consumption that we would expect to lead to low wage growth worldwide, especially for the non-elite workers.  Our economy needs more rapid growth in energy consumption to provide enough tax revenue for all of our governments and intergovernmental organizations, and to keep the world economy growing quickly enough to prevent large debt defaults.

Slide 19

Economists have confused matters for a long time by their belief that energy prices can and will rise arbitrarily high in inflation-adjusted terms–for example $300 per barrel for oil. If such high prices were really possible, we could extract all of the oil that we have the technical capacity to extract. High-cost renewables would become economically feasible as well.

In fact, affordability is the key issue. When the world economy is stimulated by more debt, only a small part of this additional debt makes its way back to the wages of non-elite workers. With greater global competition in wages, the wages of these workers tend to stay low. The limited demand of these workers tends to keep commodity prices, especially oil prices, from rising very high, for very long.

It is affordability that limits our ability to grow endlessly. While it is possible to argue that more debt might help raise the wages of non-elite workers in a particular country, if one country adds more debt, other currencies around the world can be expected to rebalance. As a result, there would be no real benefit, unless all countries together could add more debt. Even this would be of questionable value, because the whole effort relates to getting oil and other commodity prices to rise to an adequate level for producers; we have already seen that there is no price level that is satisfactory for both producers and consumers.

Slide 20

These symptoms seem to be already beginning to happen.


[1] This presentation is a little different from the original. The presentation I am showing here is entirely in English. The original presentation included some charts in Spanish from Energy Export Data Browser by Mazama Science. With this database, a person can quickly prepare energy charts for any country in a choice of seven languages. I encourage readers to “look up” their own country, in their preferred language.

In this write-up, I include more discussion than in my original talk. I also added Slides 13 and 14, plus Figure 1.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to inadequate supply.
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3,727 Responses to The Next Financial Crisis Is Not Far Away

  1. Third World person says:

    i have one question to ofw readers
    how did iceland survive after two of biggest banks collapsed and one got nationalized
    in 2008 financial crisis

    • JT Roberts says:

      81% of Icelands energy comes from GeoThermal and Hydro.

      They have little need for imports.

      • Third World person says:

        so do you think iceland has chance of survive of next financial crisis

        • Is it a trick Q: ?

          Iceland will likely survive the next fin crisis as many others, but understandably some/many things, especially on the frivolous spending and elevated living standard will have to disappear. In some segments the phase out would be shocking, almost over night, while some infrastructure might have legs into the mid term, meanwhile people get to reorganize to face world of less..

        • Slow Paul says:

          People on Iceland and in other Nordic countries probably have the best chance of survival for the coming storms. More or less self sufficient in food, water, energy between them. Relatively homogenous population (especially Iceland!), low crime rate, few guns, high equality. Makes sharing a smaller pie easier.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Energy? What energy?

            Oh silly me – geothermal right?

            Let’s see what that looks like:

          • Tim Groves says:


            We make very good use of that in Japan.

            • Humans don’t bath in the hot springs where the monkeys bath, because the monkeys are not fools. They shit in the springs, making them off-limits to humans since no one wants to bathe with monkey shit water.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Speaking of showers… and bathes…

              Water pump broke this morning out here on the coast… no plumber till Monday… I’ve got two more days here before heading south….

              I suppose I can wander into the bush — find a stream — and haul a couple of buckets back….

              At least the electricity is still on … and I have a functional fire…. so it’s not a huge Challenge… but still… a whiff of the future….

          • A lot of my relatives came from Norway. They could see that there were not enough resources to go around back in the years shortly after 1900, so that they came to the US.

            There had earlier been die-offs in Norway. Epidemics brought the population down too far. At one time, people from Germany were brought in, to make up for the missing people (businesses people, as I recall being told).

      • +fisheries

        “Iceland is primarily a food-producing country. The land itself is, in many respects, untouched by modern civilization, and the level of pollution is relatively low. These are unique conditions for producing wholesome and unpolluted agricultural products. Iceland is self-sufficient in the production of meat, dairy products, eggs and to a large extent also in the production of most vegetables.

        Icelandic farmers employ the latest agricultural technology and output is subject to constant and strict quality control. Icelandic agriculture is primarily based on livestock farming, often a mixture of cattle and sheep.

        Specialization has, however, increased significantly in recent years. A number of farmers focus on vegetable or greenhouse production. An increasing number of farmers have adopted organic techniques.”

        So, they can feed ~some people what ever (reasonably) comes against to them.
        Obviously, without fuel/tech leverage it will be a fraction of the pop and little or no export/import.

        • Fast Eddy says:


          Iceland has undergone extensive deforestation since Scandinavians settled in the ninth century. At the time of human settlement about 1140 years ago, birch forest and woodland covered ‘at least 25%’ of Iceland’s land area.

          The settlers began by cutting down the forests and burning scrubland to create fields and grazing land. Deforestation did not end in Iceland until the middle of the 20th century. Afforestation and revegetation has restored small areas of land.[40]

          However, pastoralism was the main reason birch forest and woodland did not grow back.

          I wonder what they will do about heat… and cooking….

          And then there is the nuclear pond sandwich:

          Jan – maybe you can fill them in on your plans for what to do about all that radiation

          I know — just … imagine!

          Imagine there’s no radiation
          It’s easy if you try
          No cesium below us
          Above us only non-toxic sky

          Imagine all the people not dying from radiation poisoning
          Imagine there’s no spent fuel ponds
          It isn’t hard to do

          You may say I’m a MOREon
          But I’m not the only one
          I hope some day you’ll join us DelusiSTANIS
          And the world will be as one

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Iceland is one of the most deforested countries in Europe.

            At the time of settlement (9th century) an estimated quarter of the country was covered by birch woodlands, whereas today forests only cover a little over 1%.

            The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture by burning and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Together with the harsh climate, volcanic activity and vulnerable soil formation, this forest clearance led to massive forest destruction and subsequent soil erosion. The necessity of engaging in some sort of remedial actions has long been known, but organised forestry as such only began around the turn of the 20th century. Early on much of the focus was on conserving the existing forest remnants, but since about 1950, the emphasis has been on afforestation through planting trees.

            An article from the Iceland Forest Service contains a good overview of forests and forestry in Iceland – available here (pdf).


      • I think that they still need oil to operate their machinery. I also expect that they also import a lot of finished goods (replacement parts to keep the geothermal plants operating, for example, and and parts for the electricity transmission system). There is embedded energy in all of the imported goods. I doubt that the current population of Iceland could continue to function without imported oil plus imported goods. Iceland doesn’t have the factories to make a lot of goods they use, I expect.

        I notice that one Google search item is titled, “Iceland is the world’s largest energy consumer, on a per capita basis.” It is easy to get the percentage of non-renewables down, when total energy consumption is very high. Energy consumption data has be downloaded from this site.

        I expect that the big thing people in Iceland are affected by is world prices for their exports. If aluminum prices are down very much, then their economy has a problem because it can’t afford other goods that it would buy from the profits from selling aluminum. I notice that their geothermal electricity production was down in 2015 and 2016. Is this because market prices for aluminum were relatively low, I wonder?

    • The banks did not really guarantee the deposits, when there was a problem with inadequate funds to pay the depositors. Once the tiny insurance guarantee fund was out of money, depositors were “stuck.” The depositors were nearly all foreigners, so the banks managed to “dodge the bullet.” Iceland’s real industry–aluminum and fishing–continued as usual.

  2. JT Roberts says:

    A fast collapse is the only scenario. People can delude themselves that there will be a slow undulating reset but it can’t happen. The reason people are delusional is that they are completely convinced that money is wealth.

    Money is not wealth. Money is also not a store of value if it cannot be converted to work. The only real stores of value are surpluses. Of which energy is key.

    Many here I see have read Clugston’s Scarcity. It isn’t hard to comprehend why things will happen quickly from his text.

    Essentially our Industrialized economy is a mining process. As a mine is depleted the energy to product ratio falls until eventually the value of the energy consumed is greater than the product produced. At the same time the EROI of our primary energy sources are limiting the supply and greatly increasing the cost of operations even without the effect of depletion.

    When these to factors are combined the exponential effect is huge. It leads to fast crashes in the core commodities required to maintain the system.

    Run up in debt serves to rebalance the system but it can only have short term benefits. Once the curtain is lifted it will become clear that every system is depleted beyond recovery. And once it stops it can not be restarted because the costs to restart is far higher then the cost to maintain BAU.

    • Clugston’s work has been criticized because it mixes together scarcity and the impact of high energy prices (which are very important in mining). Thus, Clugston (in at least some of his work) characterizes aluminum as scarce, when its real problem is “easily impacted by high energy prices.”

      But there certainly are some products for which scarcity of sufficiently cheap-to-extract resources is a real problem. Energy products in particular are important. And when energy costs start rising, they somehow need to result in higher energy prices, or the energy system will collapse. This could easily lead to a collapse of the whole system.

      • JT Roberts says:

        Gail I agree that if you hammer down in a specific items there may seem to be a weakness. But that’s often how red herrings are thrown into conversations.

        In aggregate looking at general trends what Scarcity presents is the overall direction in the commodity markets. Increased complexity has allowed the system to advance but much of it has been the result of innovative financial trickery.

        So stressed areas of production are being subsidized by the surpluses in other industry.

        Eventually the system hits a hard wall when the net productivity falls below surplus energy.

        • But that’s not the end phase..

          Yep, and after the systems hits a hard wall, pieces of those specific stressed areas of production continue to be subsidize again by output in other industry (resources), now to the greater detriment of previous levels of frivolous consumption, waste, and complexity.
          Simply, the salvageable minimum reconfigured soldiers on, e.g. selected and or viable pieces of MIC, energy and water infrastructure, etc. You are no longer paid in “money” but ration, protection for you and family, and so on..

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Thank you JT for the excellent has been depressing and annoying how the slow-collapsers have over taken the comment section of OFW lately (take out FE and not a lot of fast-collapser comments anymore…and it is depressing not because the premise of slow collapse…if anything the premise is what all of us (most of us anyway) would love to see…it’s the delusion of thinking this baby can take decades to unwind when clearly that is physically an impossibility…

      “The truth is hard. Living without it is harder”


      • Cliffhanger says:

        Individualism, industrialism and mass consumerism have held sway for such a long time
        that a smooth regression is hard to imagine. ( Friedrichs 2010)

        • David F. says:

          oh, I disagree,
          I have an expansive imagination, and it’s easy to imagine a century long regression.

          • Greg Machala says:

            That is called magical thinking. And it is human nature to engage in magical thinking when faced with any existential crisis.

            • David F. says:

              it’s magical thinking to imagine that the world economy has peaked and will decline for the rest of this century?
              don’t you think most persons would call that pessimism?
              I personally don’t feel threatened by the end of progress and the decline of IC.
              what will be, will be.
              but perhaps some persons embrace Fast Collapse to give themselves a sense of importance that they are living in a most special time.
              I don’t know.
              Do some persons want there to be existential crises?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘but perhaps some persons embrace Fast Collapse to give themselves a sense of importance that they are living in a most special time’

              Another DelusiSTANI Hall of Fame comment.

              You seem to have not noticed that those with common sense who understand that collapse – WHEN IT ARRIVES — will be fast….

              Prefer that that day arrives not now — not next month — not next year — but ideally as far out as possible.

              Because we know what it means — it does not mean a Great Adventure — it does not mean Robot Farming — it means we suffer — and we die.

              You need your head examined if you think we have reached these conclusions because it makes us feel important

              The facts the logic and common sense dictate this position — all things slow collapsers are bereft of….

              But that is because they are slow.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              perhaps some persons embrace Fast Collapse to give themselves a sense of importance that they are living in a most special time.

              Oh, I think it is much simpler than that.

              They are, after all, simple creatures. Poke them one place, they predictably move a certain way. Poke them another place, and they predictably move a different way. They are narcissists who don’t really care about “special times.” They are people who parachuted into third-world countries and used passive investment income to pay poor brown people to grow food for them. With that as their only model, of course they think the sky is falling! After all, if a narcissist can’t do something, of course no one else could do it, either!

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘passive investment income’ 🙂

              I don’t have any passive investment income — I hunt and kill everything I eat.

              Any further thoughts on the dozens of Japanese spent fuel ponds…. any plan of action in place yet?

            • i1 says:

              Magical “thinking” is really just regurgitation of a meme. Most have no clue as to how close we are.

              “The solution, short-term as it may be at least according to Goldman, is that oil prices “need to stay lower for longer.” That however is a non-starter with Saudi Arabia, which for obvious reasons, is rushing to IPO Aramco before math and physics finally declare victory over cartel-controlled supply, and oil prices crash. It remains to be seen if it is successful.”

              Math and physics. Lol.


            • Fast Eddy says:

              Imagine there’s no heaven
              It’s easy if you try
              No hell below us
              Above us only sky
              Imagine all the people living for today
              Imagine there’s no countries
              It isn’t hard to do
              Nothing to kill or die for
              And no religion too
              Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
              You may say I’m a dreamer
              But I’m not the only one
              I hope some day you’ll join us
              And the world will be as one
              Imagine no possessions
              I wonder if you can
              No need…

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Imagine there are no countries while you are at it… and no war….

            Imagine what it would be like to have common sense…. to think logically … to understand what a fact is

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Here’s what I imagine ..

              I imagine that Gail starts a second web site — … this is by invite only – with registration …. so that DelusiSTANIS get their heads bashed in at the door.

            • We need a balance. New people need to be able to join as well.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Two tiers… FW … and FW The Show.

              If a new person demonstrates an understanding of the articles – and uses facts and logic — and displays common sense on FW…. they get promoted to The Show…

      • David F. says:

        ITEOTWAWKI “… it has been depressing and annoying how the slow-collapsers have over taken the comment section of OFW lately…”
        really? why?
        aren’t you up to a challenge?
        tell me what you see and I’ll tell you what I see.
        smaller peripheral countries have been “collapsing” for the past decade.
        Greece, Iraq, Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Libya, now Venezuela.
        THEN they recover partially.
        yes, it is the beginning of the end.
        but why can’t this pattern continue for decades?
        oh, that’s right, it could.
        hey, The Collapse hasn’t happened yet today!

        • ITEOTWAWKI says:

          Please refer to Greg’s answer below! Cheers!

        • doomphd says:

          only Greece and Venezuela have not been war zones. they have been/are being manipulated/punished by the global monetary system, i.e., not rescued. You might add Afghanistan to your list, another war zone.

          the key phrase is: “slowly at first, then all at once.”

          • David F. says:

            that could be exactly right:
            slowly for decades, then The Collapse all at once.
            but no Collapse today!

            • Fast Eddy says:

              One might argue that we have been in slow collapse for some decades already —- the CBs have been drip feeding the stimulus to offset …. then in the first couple of years of the century cost of producing oil lifted off putting us into a long emergency with more draconian offsetting policies being rolled out….

              But at some point the policies are left wanting — and as has been pointed out before — the bulkheads fill — and the ship goes down…..

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              “One might argue that we have been in slow collapse for some decades already”

              Exactly my thoughts FE…..I wonder how long the global economy would have lasted if not for:

              1971: Dropping of the Gold Standard by Nixon, decoupling the US Dollar from the shackles of gold, thus being able to counter their slowing economy related to their peak oil

              Late 70s and into the 80s-90s: Neo-Liberal economics epitomized by Reaganomics and Thatcherism, deregulating everything, thus giving another thrust to the Global Economy, exporting jobs from the First World to the the Developing world and thus keeping the consumers able to afford goods with the lowering cost, and enabling companies to grow their earnings.

              2001: China getting into the Global Economy game by joining the WTO and developing like crazy to catch up 100 years of development in the First World in one decade

              2001-2006: Greenspan dropping rates spurring the building of McMansions all over the USA giving mortgages to anyone with a heartbeat thus growing the US economy and by extension the world economy

              2008-Now: Global Economy kept on life support by the printing of billions of dollars enabling growth but with the result of debt going exponential

              2017-2020? No more ammo…Financial System fails…with our Operating System gone, Global collapse everywhere in a matter of months…grids down everywhere…unimaginable horror everywhere…

            • Tim Groves says:

              If you were standing astern on the deck of the Titanic, you would have gotten higher and higher right up until the final plunge.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That’s where the 1% is currently sitting … enjoying glasses of Dom…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Up to the challenge?

          The thing is …. there is no challenge.

          What point is there to argue with stewpidity?

          Would you argue with someone who insisted 1+1=7?

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I wonder if the response to these fools is this … would we drive them off?

    • Sorry, wrong point, most of the “slower descent” persuasion people here are not talking about money at all in this respect. Rather about re-prioritization of ownership and distribution of resources, ways of governing and organizing “vertical” vs the old model etc..

      Just a few months ago, many have been laughing at me for referencing so much natgas related stuff. And now they think they are spear heading some novelty, when even the Gulfies must start openly discuss in msm their midterm future as more or less natgas only..

      Simply, if you economy is over dependent on ~2ton gas guzzlers, though luck, bad choice, bad karma, that’s the end of the frivolous spending, although there might be some mitigation in altering at least some of the core fleet into natgas (gov+mil+ration distribution), but it won’t be available for public in the ways of the past..

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If we ignore you and the rest of the clowns who have no common sense… the site will be taken over by absolute MOREons…

        And since you do not have the intelligence to absorb logic…. even when it is fed to you with a baby spoon….

        You get this

    • David F. says:

      JT “A fast collapse is the only scenario.”
      There is a Slow Collapse scenario, so both should be considered.
      Now, what Reality unfolds is a different story.
      Since the key is energy, and energy resources will be declining slowly, I could just as easily say A Slow Collapse Is The Only Scenario.
      see, just words,
      but The Collapse didn’t happen yesterday!
      And today is looking good too!

      • Yep, what they don’t comprehend is that there is enough legacy infrastructure and energy to serve warm meal at least once per week in affluent countries, in between much poorer daily dishes. They can’t grasp that more or less empty highways (reduced to one functioning HOV/GOV-MIL lane) and grounded airliners, doesn’t equal the end of the world or human race..

        • don’t know if i can define slow and fast collapse, but i’ll try

          you’re a syrian farmer

          your government is inept and corrupt
          your national oil industry has finally dried up

          …then you get a 4 year drought (slow collapse for your viewpoint) which gives you the choice of starvation or move
          so you move to the city, where a different breed of godbotherers happen to live…they don’t like you.

          competition for living space, jobs and food exacerbates the problem

          fighting breaks out–in no time at all your government drops a barrel bomb through your roof—that’s fast collapse—your family is dead, you have no means of support, you have no way of getting back to what you think of as normality.
          To millions of your countrymen, that’s your problem, not theirs. They go about their normal business.

          As long as that happens to a minority (even if it’s 000s), then life can maintain an outward composure of normality. But as time progresses and difficulties worsen then collapse hits more and more people at a faster and faster rate. It can be held up for a while , but not indefinetly.

          The way you will be hit will depend on the resilience of the society you live in.


          Magnify my comments about Syria, and blanket them over the USA. They carry the same relevance.
          The 44m US citizens on food aid doesn’t seem to concern those in power very much, indeed, there are moves afoot to cut it.
          Why are they on food aid? Because the resources that used to keep employment humming are no longer there. If all the goods now made in China were made in USA, they would cost 4x as much, and therefore be unaffordable. US workers can’t work for 4x less, because food costs wouldn’t drop pro rata. So they are trapped by SNAP.

          so this brings on the slow/fast crash—if you are on SNAP—you are crashing slowly, with no future prospects. The Don isn’t going to make the robots redundant and re-employ car workers in Detroit.
          As the economy continues its downslide, desperation will kick in and civil disorder will become inevitable—just as it did in Syria.
          The motivation is exactly the same.
          Governments are helpless in the face of climate change and energy depletion, they can only promise future abundance. When it doesn’t arrive, civil disorder (fast collapse) is certain. As is government reaction to it—(as Syria)
          This is why i wrote this piece on the impending tyranny prior to total collapse.:

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Fast crash is when the centre fails to hold….

            It’s the point just after the bankers start to feel like Joe Sixpack does when he gets laid off — knowing there is pretty much no prospect of ever finding work again.

            I have mentioned previously that a friend’s daughter teaches at a private school in the US — when Lehman went many kids arrived in tears because their parents were distraught

            The parents probably told them that they might have to go to school with non-special children or something… or that they might have to buy clothes in Kmart….

            That was a whiff of what collapse looks like… when the core is afraid… the reaper is close…

            Fortunately the reaper was shoved away from the core….

            He’ll be back…

      • “since energy resources will be declining slowly” –this is the huge misunderstanding.

        Energy resources decline for a lot of reasons–

        Bankruptcy of companies producing oil collapse–once it becomes impossible to get bank bailouts
        Governments of oil exporters collapse, similar to the path Venezuela is on
        The amount of money workers have to spend on energy products falls too low–because they owe too much on student loans and the cost of healthcare coverage is too high. Also, too many would be workers are in school endlessly.
        Intermittent electricity becomes too disruptive to the electric grid

        There have been a lot of “peak oil” people “pushing” a particular scenario–oil consumption falls slowly, based on prior “decline rates.” This is a scenario, but it is not the right scenario. Past history is based on prices remaining high enough to make infill drilling and the use of more advanced extraction techniques profitable. With low oil price (and low prices for other energy products), these can’t happen. Low oil price come about because of low “demand” for goods and services using oil, and this comes about because of too little spending power of the 90%–not the elite workers, who always have enough. Young people are not buying “enough” homes and cars today, and going on enough international vacations.

        • David F. says:

          okay, fair enough, I am assuming slow decline in energy resources.
          I am also assuming slow increases in energy prices,
          which means the average person will have less to spend on other goods and services,
          which means a long slow economic decline.
          but predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

          • Actually, energy prices may not increase at all. They may go down. That is the problem. Or if they spike, they won’t spike high enough, for long enough to make a difference.

            • David F. says:

              though I’ve read that CAPEX in the USA oil industry has dropped severely in 2017 and there are accompanying predictions of higher prices by later in 2018 into 2019.
              who knows?

          • Greg Machala says:

            I just do not understand this “long slow economic decline” scenario. I could believe it could be possible to have a “long slow economic decline” IF we had something to fall back on like family farms powered by manual labor and draft animals. However, we do not. We have most people living in dense cities, eating food from grocery stores (or fast food chains). We live in a virtual world full of magical thinking In reality, industrial civilization lasts until either the financial system breaks down or we reach resource limits (likely both in very short order).

            Right now oil is priced nearly too cheap to be profitably extracted? Other commodities such as coal, copper, lead, aluminium, iron, silver are also becoming unprofitable to extract? As these resources continue to deflate (what you are misinterpreting as a slow collapse) we will quickly reach a point where mass bankruptcies of extractive industry take place. We are nearly there RIGHT NOW. Once the bankruptcies start in earnest the inputs to our system STOP. It is game over. This can also happen if faith is lost in the financial system.

            It is magical thinking to assume our modern complex society can function very long without inputs. Our modern world is 100% virtual it is made real by massive inputs of energy and resources. When the inputs stop, reality will bite. The natural world is reality. How long could a modern human live without grocery stores, medical care, homes, heating, air conditioning, transportation? Those things will be lost very quickly once inputs stop.

            • David F. says:

              there have been many dozens probably hundreds of bankruptcies in the USA shale oil industry in the past couple of years.
              guess what?
              that doesn’t bring an instant halt to the industry.
              IF prices don’t rise enough, there will be many more bankruptcies in the coming decades.
              which confirms my point.
              energy resources will decline slowly, whether by bankruptcy or depletion or war etc.
              now a MOABS – Mother Of All Black Swans – that might bring an instant halt to IC.
              but that’s a very different topic than resources that are slowly depleting.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Collapse of the financial system would put an end to oil production … really quickly

              But not to worry — QE is a perpetual prosperity machine — as long as the CBs don’t stop — this can go on for all eternity….

              The auto industry sales can drop to zero — the CBs can just print MOAR money — and hand it to the industry — they can use that to pay their workers to do nothing — the workers can use that cash to go buy more stuff —- and round round we go forever and ever…..

            • They just don’t read our entries here or what..

              “..Financial systems, extractive industries going bankrupt, student loans debt..”

              Well, again it just doesn’t matter on the other side, when the system flips into the different mode, equilibrium and structure, specifically those concerns no longer apply at least as perceived in our current sense. If there is marginal utility for the resource to be utilized by fixing what ever scheme of one energy source reshuffle the other for a moment, it’s mandated by the brutal power of the pursuit of lesser starvation (for selected minority in power) in openly authoritarian gov model. For instance, still operational hydro-dam’s output is rerouted for a smelter (needed for MIL or AGRO or both), the former clients are simply dumped (triaged away).. The external-foreign trade of comparatively much lower throughput is done or more barter like conditions and so on.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Slow’ collapsers

              ‘Slow’ as in slow to learn …. thick… like a brick…. unable to comprehend simple concepts…

              All this time I was thinking you guys were talking about collapse being slow…..

              I get it now!

              Damn I am so slow… how embarrassing!

            • ITEOTWAWKI says:

              Thank you Greg!

            • Greg Machala says:

              “there have been many dozens probably hundreds of bankruptcies in the USA shale oil industry in the past couple of years. guess what? that doesn’t bring an instant halt to the industry..” – Not until a critical mass is reached. Just like flood waters breaching a dam, one bankruptcy, one financial crash, one will be the straw that breaks the camels back. The whole virtual reality show will unravel quickly. Why quickly? Because our world is all virtual (powered by massive consumption of energy and resources). Our world is built on layers of interdependency of virtual products and services, none of which exists in the natural world. There is no safety net, nothing to fall back on. So, how do you have a slow collapse with nothing to fall back on? We must continue to consume massive amounts of inputs just to stay even.

            • @humantog

              “They just don’t read our entries here or what..”

              HiLARIOUS!! You’ve hit the nail on your head!

              No one with any sense bothers with your goobledygook. That’s been the case for a long time. That’s why you get so few responses except for slowies desperately seeking moral support.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Why can’t people understand this? It is about as easy as working out 1+1….

            • Jan Steinman says:

              How long could a modern human live without grocery stores, medical care, homes, heating, air conditioning, transportation?

              This illustrates the problem with the “fast crash” crowd: they lack the imagination to see anything but their own reflection.

              Most of the people I encounter on a daily basis could live without grocery stores. Would it be as easy as living with grocery stores? Absolutely not! But it could be done.

              Most of the people I know would do fairly well without medical care. Could their lifespan be less, due to some misfortune? Of course! But they would not die tomorrow if “the crash” happens tomorrow.

              Why would people suddenly have to do without homes? I thought we were talking about a financial crash, here? Are houses suddenly going to go up in a puff of smoke when the financial system crashes? Are the banks going to build up a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, rather than “reset” and take what people can pay? Why assume someone will take your home if everything is crashed? This seems wildly inconsistent.

              Most of the people I know heat with wood. Yes, we do use a chain saw for our wood harvest. We could use bow saws and buck saws, of which we have quite a few. But we don’t for now, while staying prepared for the necessity.

              Air conditioning? What’s that? Is that like jumping in the reservoir on a hot day? I haven’t had air conditioning for 30 years, and then, it was just in the workplace. Since the “fast crashers” also seem to be climate change deniers, I’m not willing to hear them say it’s gonna get hotter!

              Most of the people I know have 200 litres or more of biodiesel stashed away. At my current rate of fuel consumption, that would last me a year, during which I would have made some more.

              Perhaps the qualifier “modern human” was intended to exclude such outliers. Very well, then. Just admit that all “modern humans” will be in deep trouble, and those who have prepared will be, let’s say, less comfortable than they are now.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Talk talk talk talk … that’s all you do Jan.

              And clatter way on your computer on FW telling us how you are a tough guy.

              Turn off the power — stop using the tractor — and other power tools — and walk the f789ing walk.

              Start the Great Adventure now…

              Otherwise piss off — because you are not a tough guy at all — you are a coward.

              And when the power does go off you won’t have a clue what to do — because you have only farmed with BAU assistance.

              You will be cowering in the corner — in the dark — thinking what the christ have I got myself into.

              Unplug Jan. Come Grizzly Adams — show us how awesome you are…

            • thestarl says:

              Not to mention ZIRP and NIRP

        • Artleads says:

          Travel in our security state is a nightmare. Not conducive to more international vacations, I’d think. Cars and mainstream housing development are extraordinarily destructive. They might help on part of the economy and destroy others with more resiliency potential. The how of development is important too, not just the what.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Great explanation, JT!

      Here’s Mr. Clugston in his own words.

  3. James says:

    James Burke considers the Fast Eddy challenge.

    • Ed says:

      This is where the AI prepper community comes in. Yes, AI and solar for preppers. Yes, in the long run when the stock piled spare parts are all used it end but it is an extender that give you and your community the time to learn and adapt. The robots plow the fields. If it is cloudy they do are idle for the day but plowing is not a JIT activity.

      • Ed says:

        and 100 year nuclear reactor if your community can afford it

        • “Extender” is a great way to put it.., e.g. there is a ton of second market EVs after ever bored have to try it people, that’s ~20yrs of longevity of the parts if you can replace the old batt pack with the right timing, before such stuff turns into unobtanium..

          PS the latest gen of NPPs going online are rated at the minimum 60+ yrs for the reactor vessel, steam generator, the concrete dome etc. ; thanks chiefly to new alloys and seamless welding ; other bits are more problematic in longevity, like the turbine-generator, electronics, and the grid itself, ..

          not sure about small reactors feasibility for “independent” communes, unless you are sort of gov-mil remnant in a large bunker, state of the art small reactors, usually around 80-200MWe don’t have such projected or real longevity at all, re-fueling is different etc.

      • I will believe it when I see it. LOL!

      • Greg Machala says:

        “Yes, AI and solar for preppers.” = MAGICAL THINKING

      • A Real Black Person says:

        Why would a viable human society need AI to do farmwork? Are you projecting a severe labor shortage? Do you think automated tractors and solar panels are going to support a population of senior citizens all by themselves?

        • Ed says:

          No farm work is unpleasant and hard.

          • A Real Black Person says:

            I would have never crossed my mind that laziness would be a virtue to a prepper.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              No farm work is unpleasant and hard.

              Woa, that’s a stretch!

              I despise slaughtering and butchering chickens. But it just has to be done.

              We’ve been picking hay. I stacked nearly five tonnes. It was hard. But it just has to be done.

              If one is not willing to do anything “unpleasant and hard,” then one better prepare to quickly and pleasantly die.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I pity the doomsday preppers… spending their last months alive toiling away for nothing …

              Such a sad, pathetic waste …..

            • Tim Groves says:

              I despise slaughtering and butchering chickens. But it just has to be done.

              Don’t they have a machine for that these days?

            • Fast Eddy says:


            • Jan Steinman says:

              Don’t they have a machine for that these days?

              Our community formed a non-profit, raised $350,000, and bought one, because the government declared that farm-butchered meat was unsafe, and will no longer allow it. That was $350,000 that could have gone to hospitals or schools.

              But it costs over $4 to process a bird there. I can do it for the few bits of metal filings that I lose when I sharpen my knife.

          • Artleads says:

            “I pity the doomsday preppers… spending their last months alive toiling away for nothing”

            I have no doubt that Jan is doing what he loves, even though it’s hard. But I strongly agree that you should do only what you want to do and that it is not obligatory to do anything particularly “sensible” to extend one’s life post collapse. There is no point in that whatsoever.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              He has mentioned that he is looking forward to ‘The Great Adventure’

              He could get a head start on that by unplugging….

            • Jan Steinman says:

              I have no doubt that Jan is doing what he loves

              I wouldn’t go that far! I’d probably “love” binge-watching Netflix, or flying off to ski vacations, or writing a best-seller, or spending all day posting barbs at people in this comments section.

              What I “love” about this life-style is not the hard work, or even in spite of hard work. It’s the knowing there is a bigger purpose than shallow hedonism. It’s filling your life with people who share your values. It’s being part of a community. It’s hard to have these things when you change locations every few years, because you’re afraid of what might happen to you where you are.

              you should do only what you want to do and that it is not obligatory to do anything particularly “sensible” to extend one’s life post collapse.

              We’re in complete agreement!

              And thank you for including what we’re trying to do among the ranks of the “sensible” options.

              In fact, I’d go further and say that I don’t really want any “non-sensible” people around to mess things up. They all seem to be hoping and wishing for a quick death here — more power to ’em!

              Okay, I get twelve more minutes of this. Then I have to go pick up three tonnes of hay and stack it. I don’t “love” that part of the job. But I “love” having healthy animals through the winter, and I “love” people to come and play with them and enjoy their milk and cheese.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Koombaya is a form of hedonism – if that’s your thing… I’ll take the ski trip though….

      • Fast Eddy says:

        You are pulling our legs right?

        Please tell us this is a joke. That you don’t really believe this…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Just a thought…

          What is the opposite of Cognitive Dissonance?

          i.e. When beliefs or assumptions are contradicted… instead of rejecting the facts and logic…. instead of getting upset….

          One embraces the facts and logic — and rejects the earlier position — and dances a jig?

          And pops a bottle of champagne — and mocks and ridicules others who get angry and dig their heals in….

          Let’s call that Cognitive Anti-Dissonance

          Shall we?

    • Greg Machala says:

      I truly believe that technology is a trap! Its the devil in disguise. Lures us in, we become reliant on it, it weakens us, then in the end, leaves us for dead.

      • Correct, but it’s not probable it will go away overnight when in such abundance, meaning both as working apparatus as well as residual value – scrap material.

        As someone cleverly pointed out recently (was it Xabier?), even the sheer landscape of dystopian post industrial world, would ensure that there is enough scavenging material for sickles and plows at least for next hundreds of years. Not mentioning the books, which could be easily put on fire or decay as useless, but also stored as few important items in sort of neo-monasteries etc.

        • Greg Machala says:

          “As someone cleverly pointed out recently (was it Xabier?), even the sheer landscape of dystopian post industrial world, would ensure that there is enough scavenging material for sickles and plows at least for next hundreds of years. ” – That may be true but, I think there has to to a massive die off for a salvage/scavening type of existence to work. Then too, much of modern tools use energy of some sort (electricity, gas, diesel). If you want to scavenge the metal to reform it into tools, this assumes you know how to survive with hand tools. I think that is a might big assumption given the state of modern society.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            One of the main reasons for deforestation in the middle ages was the use of wood in forges.

            The thing is… we were always slowly moving forwards … skills were developed… things were organized….

            Now we are going to be thrown back many thousands of years — and expect to be able to adapt in an instant.

            That would be difficult enough but we will be forced to adapt surrounded by total chaos…sickness… disease… famine… radiation.

            I simply don’t see that being possible — if it is then it will happen in places where it is already in place

            The ‘savages’ will get the last laugh?

          • You have the answer in my first sentence, how long before every piece of legacy infrastructure and depot is not operational – usable? There will be still something in working order and people knowledgeable to use it as well as scrap around. The first will re-amplify the second, e.g. effort-energy of the workable put to reopen a mine..

            Is it for 7.5B/1.5B pop at current standard, obviously no way..

            • nope—i’ll hit it again:

              you cannot make anything without heat

              you might scavenge an engine block—then what? Melt it down using charcoal?

              Leave any metal open to the elements for 10 years—maybe less, and it is useless. In the middle ages, you had so of the finest metalworkers—dig up their products now and what have you got?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Norman — we have on display a total loss of touch with reality with some of the comments pouring onto FW…

              There is no explaining to such people why what they are suggesting will be impossible.

              If they cannot work it out on their own — something else is at play in their minds — something is stepping in to protect them from the despair that accepting reality would bring.

              Mr Cognitive Dissonance is in between you — and them.

              It’s ok World — you are not stewpid — you just cannot handle the truth….

            • Fast Eddy says:

              World… and other BAU Liters… I suggest you click that image so you can read the full explanation of why you are unable to see what is so obvious to many of us on FW.

              I doubt that it will open a window for you … but at least you will know that we know the source of what ails you.

            • For the 3rd time in this sub thread, before reacting pls read what I wrote first..
              I clearly wrote about two subjects. First, it’s improbable that every (“heat generating”) infrastructure is going to vanish uniformly, everywhere. So, lets call it reorganization and refocus of these resource where it goes on to keep some mines open for example. Secondly, the scrap question is of secondary importance and meant long term.

              Your allegory of ancient/middle ages metal working is not fitting here, the impurities of sourced material were pretty high, that’s why for a while Islamic/ME stuff was of higher and renown technological standard.

              A stainless steel, zinc plated, or otherwise rust proof (paint) made material lasts decades at the minimum.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘Keep some mines open’

              The devil is in the detail…. can you explain how we would keep ‘some mines open’

              Where would the electricity come from to power the pumps to keep them from flooding?

              What about the spare parts for all the machinery involved?

              And the diesel…

              What would you use as an energy source to smelt and refine the ores into metal?

        • Artleads says:

          FW has gotten me thinking in terms of how technology and energy correlate. And I think they are more interrelated than I can figure out clearly just now.

          If we’re considering what technology can do, we might be thinking of what the energy coefficient of technology could be. So it seems to be best to use (in some fashion) whatever technology exists already, for that minimizes the energy it would take to replace it. (Energy flow management might be considered a technology all by itself.) Keeping what exists, in terms of materials and the life style surrounding it–while not creating any more or anything new seems to be an efficient use of energy/technology.

      • doomphd says:

        i had a girlfriend like that once…

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Particularly if you are part of the final generation .. when the power goes off… up until then it’s not too bad!

      • Joebanana says:

        Any tech that uses fossil energy to replace a skill is a trap in the big picture.

    • xabier says:

      James Burke; such style! Quite nostalgic watching that.

    • Artleads says:

      Keeping the whole system going, just the way it is, without adding complexities (through novelty, etc) and unknowns seems like a promising approach to take.

    • timl2k11 says:

      Technology slaves aren’t we? Every “solution” has a flip side. The flip side of all our “solutions” will likely soon be known to all. Perhaps technology still has a good bit of room to run though? Maybe we will all be plugged into some virtual world using minimal resouces before it all gives out. Call it “The Great Unwinding”.

  4. Cliffhanger says:
    • Could you at least give us the title. Perhaps a relevant paragraph as well. Some of us quickly run through our allotment of articles at places like the NYTimes.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Humans? Humans : “preserve a natural order.” Not on your life. We are not the Earth’s caretakers. We could never be. It is the Earth that gives us life – not humans that give life to the Earth. Such an arrogant species.

  5. Third World person says:

    damn fast eddy your country going in decline

  6. Cliffhanger says:

    Kaushik Basu’s glowing prediction that “in 50 years, the world economy is likely to be thriving, with global GDP growing by as much as 20 per cent per year, and income and consumption doubling every four years or so.

    Basu is the former chief economist of the World Bank, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of economics at Cornell University, so he is no flake in the economics department. But this does not prevent a display of alarming ignorance of both the power of exponential growth and the state of the ecosphere. Income and consumption doubling every four years? After just 20 years and five doublings, the economy would be larger by a factor of 32; in 50 years it will have multiplied more than 5000-fold! Basu must inhabit some infinite parallel universe?

    • David F. says:

      now THAT is magical thinking x10…
      that quote is one of the most bizarre ones I have read in a long time…

    • timl2k11 says:

      Omg, someone gets paid to write this $#/t??
      “Today, it is the Digital Revolution that promises to lift growth to new heights.”
      Yes. Because the industrial revolution is what brought prosperity, not the energy that drove it! (Sarc)
      Yeah, we will “grow” our way out of an energy crisis with digital 1s and 0s (more sarc)
      I’m going to barf. 🤢

  7. Dennis L. says:

    A few simple questions on regards to growth.
    What has been the growth in processor speed since the apollo 360/60 computers? If the same processor costs 1/1000 the 360/60 is that economic growth? By mass, the 360/60 would take a 6 car garage and 3 phase power. If it now sits on my desk, is that growth?
    Is it necessary to send a man to the moon to get the same information? If the same information comes back via robot/remote or more information, is that growth?
    If almost any book is available instantly on line, what is the energy difference between that and countless libraries? If more information is available at less economic throughput, is that growth?
    What is the energy difference between a purchase on Amazon and Macy’s including all transportation costs. Is that gain growth?
    Is moving more mass through the system growth?
    Is moving more information growth?
    If I moved into the Matrix with say 10% of the energy cost, what would be the difference between that and say walking in the forest. If I don’t walk in the forest, does it really exist for me?
    If Gail’s over reaching power really exists, does he/she/it need a car for growth? How then does one measure economic growth?
    Many of the discussions here are backward looking and denying forward possibilities.
    To date, betting on human demise has been a very bad bet as even if the bet is correct, BAU seems to be able to go on for longer than most people can live. Betting against America has not been a good bet to date. Betting against life in general has not been a good bet.
    FE’s friends have their Gulfstreams, they made a good bet, a good boat. Others are building cement boats.
    Some of you have been in the Caribbean. Have you noticed the old, stone buildings with what look like slits for guns, etc? Pirates did not sail around alone, they had a crew and a wooden boat. Remote islands did not always welcome strangers; but life went on.
    So, is it possible we can have some new ideas? I have read these ideas for forty years, to date, the pessimists have not been right. It is starting to sound like “Waiting for Godot.”

    Dennis L.

    • Slow Paul says:

      Very good comment. The instadoomers are stuck in the classical economics theory and believes that finance, growth and profitability is what makes the earth rotate. They won’t consider the possibility that people on all levels will actively do something e.g. post huge financial crash. Ofcourse there won’t be a nice and tidy consistent global trade system we have today. It will be ad hoc, whatever is needed, whatever works, it will be bartering between country X and Y, it will be resource wars between country Y and Z, it will be JIT BAU between Z and X.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        You really are clueless.

        CTG – you waste your time on these people.

        I will post this again — and it will be ignored again

      • xabier says:

        One could have said that about all previous phases of civilisation – people who survived
        (our direct ancestors) did do something, but that was only possible because lower structures survived which enabled them to act.

        Example: the Western Roman Imperial network collapsed with the disappearance of higher level structures (towns and cities, maintained roads, shipping fleets, bureaucracy, banking networks, etc), beginning with the complete withdrawal from Britain, lasting longest in Italy, where barbarians did their best to prop it all up with the help of the olld Roman elite.

        This led to the disappearance – more or less, and varying from region to region – of urban populations, and of the kind of job-role that could only exist in a complex system, eg architect, surveyor, chariot-maker, artillery specialist, long-range merchant, financier, brick and tile maker, mason, mass-producer of oil, armour, weapons, tiles, physician.etc.

        Higher-level man disappeared, because he was structure-dependent and the collapsing higher structures took him down with them.

        So, who survived (setting aside the influx of barbarian farmer-warriors)?

        Rural people: farmers, fishermen, hunters, herders, smiths and woodmen. Why? They didn’t have to salvage anything, they didn’t have to build anything anew: the structure which had supported them under the Empire was simply untouched by Collapse (I ignore here the disruption caused by war, depopulation, soil-erosion , which was mostly ephemeral.)

        Therefore, lower-level man survived. And that lower level happened to be the one which was fundamental to human existence and reproduction: the getting and storing of food; the making of shelter from cut wood, thatch, and piled stone; the gathering of fuel for heat and cooking; the making of leather from hides, clothing from wool, etc.

        I can think of one cross-over category which bridged both levels,and which survived the collapse of the Empire: priest/holy man or woman. Something to ponder there: not least being that the holy people preserved -for their own very narrow irrational and fanatical purposes – literacy and all the arts associated with it ( which I inherited directly as a bookbinder, 1,600 years later in a direct -male – chain of teaching).

        No similar strata essential to the maintenance of life which is not fully incorporated into the fossil-fuel/nuclear globalised economy exists today in any civilised region. In the 1920’s my grandmother was born into a mountain community which functioned much as it had done under the Romans, and even dress was still that of the 18th century: now that valley is more or less empty with abandoned villages. There is nothing to fall back on. ‘Industrial agriculture’ means something!

        We are all – including farmers and herders – higher-structure creations, and will perish with the higher structures to the degree that they crumble, and at the same speed. Even our food animals have been bred to function within this system, the older adapted breeds dying out (maybe goats are an exception?) Draught animals have mostly gone and gene pools of those which survive are far too small, there is a lot of trouble in breeding from them.

        Like any organism, our structures are our ecological system: destroy the structure, and you destroy the type of human which is supported and made viable by that structure. No will to survive can overcome that hard fact.

    • Interesting summary rant.

      However, the bet against America has been essentially unwise bet against selected suitable host nation for global order of past 100+yrs. This role designation could change any time, and there are signals, it will be jettisoned as the proverbial used can of soda at the proper time, near-mid term, relatively speaking.

      • psile says:

        The Neocon’s wet-dream of a 1,000 year American Reich (a.k.a. The Project For A New American Century), kicked off by the successful dissolution of Yugoslavia, lasted all of 10 years, before it blew apart in 2008.

        The rest is America dead man walking…going through the motions. Lying to itself, falling apart at an ever increasing rate. The sh#t show at the end should be a beaut to watch, if only for a brief while, before the signal fall silent. Better than any zombie apocalypse film.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          With all the hatred and resentment … the US will be one of the worst if not the worst place to be when BAU goes….

    • Fast Eddy says:

      It comes down to this …

      Growth = energy. We bumbled along barely growing using wood and muscle as our source of energy for millennia. So that is the best case fall back position if we adopt another system.

      We cannot BAU Lite this because BAU is all or nothing — BAU is a system that requires eternal growth — think of what happens when recessions hit … imagine what would happen if growth was stopped permanently… we grow or we collapse — that is immutable.

      Around the about the 1800’s we ran into a deforestation problem (peak wood)…. if we had not worked out how to harness the power of coal…. then we would have collapsed completely into a very primitive state… the industrial revolution would not have happened.

      Essentially we have been kicking the can — innovating — harnessing new sources of energy every since… and using these new sources of energy to grow enough food to feed billions.

      We are now in a similar position to those living in the 1800’s. Our primary source of energy has peaked – but with some huge differences.

      We have no ‘coal’ option to turn to — we have run out of options. So we go back to trees — and manpower (slaves?)

      We have wrecked the soils with petro chemical fertilizers

      We have 7.5 billion people.

      We have 4000 spent fuel ponds that need BAU — even if some do survive the monumental crash back into primitive living — they obviously won’t be able to maintain those installations.

      • Scene of ~2029 somewhere inside NA.

        Rough general controlling post civil war half of one the big former member state of the federation. Should I provide fuel for allied brothers in neighboring loose union in ongoing skirmishes, should I command to keep the resources flowing towards NPPs spent fuel ponds before they cool down for moving them finally towards long term depository aka old deep mine shaft? Or should I feed those pesky refugees in the millions, many of them of no further work use.. ?

        Decisions, decisions..

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I spent many many hours looking for information and trying to understand the spent fuel pond issue…

          I did not find anything indicating that that throwing the fuel into mine shafts or the ocean was a good option.

          End of the day if they are not kept in these high tech ponds at computer regulated temperatures…the burn up and release massive amounts of toxins — that radiation will spread — regardless of where the fuel is dumped.

          It will get into the water and air … and into the food chain….

          There will be no way to manage the ponds post BAU. There will be no electricity — there will be no functioning computer systems — there not be a single engineer willing to man the fort.

          There will be chaos. There will be starvation. There will be violence. There will be no government – no police…

          ‘They’ will be no more.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Should I provide fuel for allied brothers in neighboring loose union in ongoing skirmishes, should I command to keep the resources flowing towards NPPs spent fuel ponds before they cool down for moving them finally towards long term depository aka old deep mine shaft?

          You really haven’t thought this through, have you? NA isn’t the world and post-BAU leaders are not necessarily going to act as convivially or as rationally as today’s G20 leaders do. Post collapse, you could be an illiterate sadistic strongman or a messianic religious cult leader who just doesn’t want to “get” it or who doesn’t believe in the dangers of radioactivity, in charge of a territory on which stand abandoned nuclear plants. On the one hand, you might not have sufficient resources to devote to those spent fuel ponds. And on the other hand, you might not care enough about the issue to bother addressing it. Or you might think its a good idea to use your air power to blow up a nuke plant in a rival’s territory.

          If only 10% of the fuel ponds are allowed to dry out and start releasing into the atmosphere, that’s still 400 sources of radioactive contamination, quite enough to make Eddy’s scenario worth contemplating.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        FE- how do we know your analysis is correct, when you are so wrong on other things?

        • because you cannot have economic growth without expending energy.

          Our industrial complex was created by using energy locked in coal to make cheap iron—it really was, and is, that simple. It wasn’t human genius, of ‘technology’–an 18thc ironmaster was running out of trees, and needed to find a different way to make iron. (other than charcoal)
          Access to iron and steel built our complexity of industry, and the entire edifice that supports in our current lifestyle

          without heat released energy, primarily from oil coal and gas, it is not possible to make anything commercially useful.
          Until around 1800, our global trading economy moved at the speed of hoof and sail, after 1800, steam engines began to power machines.

          When we no longer have to power to make and drive those machines, then will will (not might) revert to the living environment that existed prior to 1800—or earlier. We will have no alternative available to us.
          That is what Eddy means, and while we can have differing views on timing, –a few years either ways, soft or hard crash etc–the final outcome is certain. We will continue to burn fuel until there is none left, then begin the period of great denial (that it’s all a conspiracy)

          Our machines put 7.5bn people on the planet–pre machines we had 1bn. You don’t need me to figure out that arithmetic for you.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Because I used to believe in BAU Lite — I even bought property in a place that has extensive hydro electricity naively believing that when collapse came I would at least have electricity.

          But then the facts dictated that I change my position. Korowicz’ Trade Off Paper was a key…

          Since changing there have been no facts presented that would lead me to change my current position.

          The BAU Liters certainly present no facts or logic — meanwhile I have the likes of CTG endlessly explaining in great detail why collapse will be fast — and comprehensive.

          I also look at what happened in 2008. Global trade was stopped for a few days — because financial institutions were paralyzed by the death of Lehman.

          I do not believe in perpetual economic motion machines so I know that at some point the financial system will collapse completely and permanently. And BAU will end.

          The BAU Liters just say things like ‘some of the mines will still be operational’ No details of how that can happen — and when they do attempt an explanation they are torn to pieces because there is no supporting logic.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            Go down to Twisel and do some fly fishing.
            Just accept the groundless nature of things, and learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and death.
            Survival is not necessary-

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am resigned to the fact that I will die prematurely … no problem with that… Que sera sera right?

              It’s a bit chilly for fly fishing at the moment …. but come Sunday this will be me…

    • you are confusing shifting electronic signals with shifting food and all the other physical stuff necessary to make the global economic system function smoothly.

      they are not the same thing—though in confusing the two you are in good company

      moores law does not apply to calorific values—if it did, I would not need 2000cal to keep me alive, i would only need 1 calorie–or something equally ridiculous. As it is, my necessary food intake has to be shipped to my plate.
      it cannot be transmitted and printed. I cannot eat pictures of food

      Giving me information about food, is not the same as eating food–information about making a car move is not the same as putting fuel in the tank—you still have a 2 ton block of metal to move from a to b no matter how fast your information is transmitted.

  8. Cliffhanger says:

    New Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’. Report demands massive expansion of military-industrial complex to maintain global ‘access to resources.


    View story at

  9. Cliffhanger says:

    Remains Of Ancient Race Of Job Creators Found In Rust Belt

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