Why Oil Prices Can’t Bounce Very High; Expect Deflation Instead

Economists have given us a model of how prices and quantities of goods are supposed to interact.

Figure 1. From Wikipedia: The price P of a product is determined by a balance between production at each price (supply S) and the desires of those with purchasing power at each price (demand D). The diagram shows a positive shift in demand from D1 to D2, resulting in an increase in price (P) and quantity sold (Q) of the product.

Unfortunately, this model is woefully inadequate. It sort of works, until it doesn’t. If there is too little of a product, higher prices and substitutions are supposed to fix the problem. If there is too much, prices are supposed to fall, causing the higher-priced producers to drop out of the system.

This model doesn’t work with oil. If prices drop, as they have done since mid-2014, businesses don’t drop out. They often try to pump more. The plan is to try to make up for inadequate prices by increasing the volume of extraction. Of course, this doesn’t fix the problem. The hidden assumption is, of course, that eventually oil prices will again rise. When this happens, the expectation is that oil businesses will be able to make adequate profits. It is hoped that the system can again continue as in the past, perhaps at a lower volume of oil extraction, but with higher oil prices.

I doubt that this is what really will happen. Let me explain some of the issues involved.

[1] The economy is really a much more interlinked system than Figure 1 makes it appear.

Supply and demand for oil, and for many other products, are interlinked. If there is too little oil, the theory is that oil prices should rise, to encourage more production. But if there is too little oil, some would-be workers will be without jobs. For example, truck drivers may be without jobs if there is no fuel for the vehicles they drive. Furthermore, some goods will not be delivered to their desired locations, leading to a loss of even more jobs (both at the manufacturing end of the goods, and at the sales end).

Ultimately, a lack of oil can be expected to reduce the availability of jobs that pay well. Digging in the ground with a stick to grow food is a job that is always around, with or without supplemental energy, but it doesn’t pay well!

Thus, the lack of oil really has a two-way pull:

(a) Higher prices, because of the shortage of oil and the desired products it produces.

(b) Lower prices, because of a shortage of jobs that pay adequate wages and the “demand” (really affordability) that these jobs produce.

[2] There are other ways that the two-way pull on prices can be seen:

(a) Prices need to be high enough for oil producers, or they will eventually stop extracting and refining the oil, and,

(b) Prices cannot be too high for consumers, or they will stop buying products made with oil.

If we think about it, the prices of basic commodities, such as food and fuel, cannot rise too high relative to the wages of ordinary (also called “non-elite”) workers, or the system will grind to a halt. For example, if non-elite workers are at one point spending half of their income on food, the price of food cannot double. If it does, these workers will have no money left to pay for housing, or for clothing and taxes.

[3] The upward pull on oil prices comes from a combination of three factors.

(a) Rising cost of production, because the cheapest-to-produce oil tends to be extracted first, leaving the more expensive-to-extract oil for later. (This pattern is also true for other types of resources.)

(b) If workers are becoming more productive, this growing productivity of workers is often reflected in higher wages for the workers. With these higher wages, workers can afford more goods made with oil, and that use oil in their operation. Thus, these higher wages lead to higher “demand” (really affordability) for oil.

Recently, worker productivity has not been growing. One reason this is not surprising is because energy consumption per capita hit a peak in 2013. With less energy consumption per capita, it is likely that, on average, workers are not being given bigger and better “tools” (such as trucks, earth-moving equipment, and other machines) with which to leverage their labor. Such tools require the use of energy products, both when they are manufactured and when they are operated.

Figure 2. World Daily Per Capita Energy Consumption, based on primary energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy and 2017 United Nations population estimates.

(c) Another “pull” on demand comes from increased investment. This investment can be debt-based or can reflect equity investment. It is these financial assets that allow new mines to be opened, and new factories to be built. Thus, wages of non-elite workers can grow. McKinsey Global Institute reports that growth in total “financial assets” has slowed since 2007.

Figure 3. Figure by McKinsey Global Institute showing that growth in debt in financial instruments (both debt and equity) has slowed significantly since 2007. Source

More recent data by McKinsey Global Institute shows that cross-border investment, in particular, has slowed since 2007.

Figure 4. Figure by McKinsey Global Institute showing that global cross-border capital flows (combined debt and equity) have declined by 65% since the 2007 peak. Download from this page.

This cross-border investment is especially helpful in encouraging exports, because it often puts into place new facilities that encourage extraction of minerals. Some minerals are available in only a few places in the world; these minerals are often traded internationally.

[4] The downward pull on oil and other commodity prices comes from several sources.

(a) Oil exports are often essential to the countries where they are extracted because of the tax revenue and jobs that they produce. The actual cost of extraction may be quite low, making extraction feasible, even at very low prices. Because of the need for tax revenue and jobs, governments will often encourage production regardless of price, so that the country can maintain its place in the world export market until prices again rise.

(b) Everyone “knows” that oil and other commodities will be needed in the years ahead. Because of this, there is no point in stopping production altogether. In fact, the cost of production is likely to keep rising, putting an upward push on commodity prices. This belief encourages businesses to stay in the market, regardless of the economics.

(c) There is a long lead-time for developing new extraction capabilities. Decisions made today may affect extraction ten years from now. No one knows what the oil price will be when the new production is brought online. At the same time, new production is coming on-line today, based on analyses when prices were much higher than they are today. Furthermore, once all of the development costs have been put in place, there is no point in simply walking away from the investment.

(d) Storage capacity is limited. Production and needed supply must balance exactly. If there is more than a tiny amount of oversupply, prices tend to plunge.

(e) The necessary price varies greatly, depending where geographically the extraction is being done, and depending on what is included in the calculation. Costs are much lower if the calculation is done excluding investment to date, or excluding taxes paid to governments, or excluding necessary investments needed for pollution control. It is often easy to justify accepting a low price, because there is usually some cost basis upon which such a low price is acceptable.

(f) Over time, there really are efficiency gains, but it is difficult to measure how well they are working. Do these “efficiency gains” simply speed up production a bit, or do they allow more oil in total to be extracted? Also, cost cuts by contractors tend to look like efficiency gains. In fact, they may simply be temporary prices cuts, reflecting the desire of suppliers to maintain some market share in a time when prices are too low for everyone.

(g) Literally, every economy in the world wants to grow. If every economy tries to grow at the same time and the market is already saturated (given the spending power of non-elite workers), a very likely outcome is plunging prices.

[5] As we look around the world, the prices of many commodities, including oil, have fallen in recent years.

Figures 3 and 4 show that investment spending spiked in 2007. Oil prices spiked not long after that–in the first half of 2008.

Figure 5. Monthly Brent oil prices with dates of US beginning and ending QE.

Quantitative Easing (QE) is a way of encouraging investment through artificially low interest rates. US QE began right about when oil prices were lowest. We can see that the big 2008 spike and drop in prices corresponds roughly to the rise and drop in investment in Figures 3 and 4, above, as well.

If we look at commodities other than oil, we often see a major downslide in prices in recent years. The timing of this downslide varies. In the US, natural gas prices fell as soon as gas from fracking became available, and there started to be a gas oversupply problem.

I expect that at least part of gas’s low price problem also comes from subsidized prices for wind and solar. These subsidies lead to artificially low prices for wholesale electricity. Since electricity is a major use for natural gas, low wholesale prices for electricity indirectly tend to pull natural gas prices down.

Figure 6. Natural gas prices in the US and Canada, indexed to the 2008 price, based on annual price data provided in BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Many people assume that fracking can be done so inexpensively that the type of downslide in prices shown in Figure 6 makes sense. In fact, the low prices available for natural gas are part of what have been pushing North American “oil and gas” companies toward bankruptcy.

For a while, it looked like high natural gas prices in Europe and Asia might allow the US to export natural gas as LNG, and end its oversupply problem. Unfortunately, overseas prices of natural gas have slid since 2013, making the profitability of such exports doubtful (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Prices of natural gas imports to Europe and Asia, indexed to 2008 levels, based on annual average prices provided by BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Coal prices have followed a downward slope of a different shape since 2008. Note that the 2016 prices range from 32% to 59% below the 2008 level. They are even lower, relative to 2011 prices.

Figure 8. Prices of several types of coal, indexed to 2008 levels, based on annual average prices provided by BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Figure 9 shows the price path for several metals and minerals. These seem to follow a downward path as well. I did not find a price index for rare earth minerals that went back to 2008. Recent data suggested that the prices of these minerals have been falling as well.

Figure 9. Prices of various metals and minerals, indexed to 2008, based on USGS analyses found using this link: https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/

Figure 9 shows that several major metals are down between 24% and 35% since 2008. The drop is even greater, relative to 2011 price levels.

Internationally traded foods have also fallen in price since 2008.

Figure 10. Food prices, indexed to 2008 levels, based on data from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.

In Item [4] above, I listed several factors that would tend to make oil prices fall. These same issues could be expected to cause the prices of these other commodities to drop. In addition, energy products are used in the production of metals and minerals and of foods. A drop in the price of energy products would tend to flow through to lower extraction prices for minerals, and lower costs for growing agricultural products and bringing products to market.

One surprising place where prices are dropping is in the auction prices for the output of onshore wind turbines. This is a chart shown by Roger Andrews, in a recent article on Energy Matters. The cost of making wind turbines doesn’t seem to be dropping dramatically, except from the fall in the prices of commodities used to make the turbines. Yet auction prices seem to be dropping by 20% or more per year.

Figure 11. Figure by Roger Andrews, showing trend in auction prices of onshore wind energy from Energy Matters.

Thus, wind energy purchased through auctions seems to be succumbing to the same deflationary market forces as oil, natural gas, coal, many metals, and food.

[6] It is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly, without the prices of many other commodities also rising.

What seems to be happening is a basic mismatch between (a) the amount of goods and services countries want to sell, and (b) the amount of goods and services that are truly affordable by consumers, especially those who are non-elite workers. Somehow, we need to fix this supply/demand (affordability) imbalance.

One way of raising demand is through productivity growth. As mentioned previously, such a rise in productivity growth hasn’t been happening in recent years. Given the falling energy per capita amounts in Figure 2, it seems unlikely that productivity will be growing in the near future, because the adoption of improved technology requires energy consumption.

Another way of raising demand is through wage increases, over and above what would be indicated by productivity growth. With globalization, the trend has been to lower and less stable wages, especially for less educated workers. This is precisely the opposite direction of the change we need, if demand for goods and services is to rise high enough to prevent deflation in commodity prices. There are very many of these non-elite workers. If their wages are low, this tends to reduce demand for homes, cars, motorcycles, and the many other goods that depend on wages of workers in the world. It is the manufacturing and use of these goods that influences demand for commodities.

Another way of increasing demand is through rising investment. This can eventually filter back to higher wages, as well. But this isn’t happening either. In fact, Figures 3 and 4 show that the last big surge in investment was in 2007. Furthermore, the amount of debt growth required to increase GDP by one percentage point has increased dramatically in recent years, both in the United States and China, making this approach to economic growth increasingly less effective. Recent discussions seem to be in the direction of stabilizing or lowering debt levels, rather than raising them. Such changes would tend to lower new investment, not raise it.

[7] In many countries, falling export revenue is adversely affecting demand for imported goods and services.

It is not too surprising that the export revenue of Saudi Arabia has fallen, with the drop in oil prices.

Figure 12. Saudi Arabia exports and imports of goods and services based on World Bank data.

Because of the drop in exports, Saudi Arabia is now buying fewer imported goods and services. A person would expect other oil exporters also to be making cutbacks on their purchases of imported goods and services. (Exports in current US$ means exports measured year-by-year in US$, without any inflation adjustment.)

It is somewhat more surprising that China’s exports and imports are falling, as measured in US$. Figure 13 shows that, in US dollar terms, China’s exports of goods and services fell in both 2015 and 2016. The imports that China bought also fell, in both of these years.

Figure 13. China’s exports and imports of goods and services on a current US$ basis, based on World Bank data.

Similarly, both the exports and imports of India are down as well. In fact, India’s imports have fallen more than its exports, and for a longer period–since 2012.

Figure 14. India’s exports and imports of goods and services in current dollars, based on World Bank data.

The imports of goods and services for the United States also fell in 2015 and 2016. The US is both an exporter of commodities (particularly food and refined petroleum products) and an importer of crude oil, so this is not surprising.

Figure 15. US exports and imports of goods and services in US dollars, based on World Bank data.

In fact, on a world basis, exports and imports of goods and services both fell, in 2015 and 2016 as measured in US dollars.

Figure 16. World exports and imports in current US dollars, based on World Bank data.

[8] Once export (and import) revenues are down, it becomes increasingly difficult to raise prices again. 

If a country is not selling much of its own exports, it becomes very difficult to buy much of anyone else’s exports. This impetus, by itself, tends to keep prices of commodities, including oil, down.

Furthermore, it becomes more difficult to repay debt, especially debt that is in a currency that has appreciated. This means that borrowing additional debt becomes less and less feasible, as well. Thus, new investment becomes more difficult. This further tends to keep prices down. In fact, it tends to make prices fall, since new investment is needed to keep prices level.

[9] World financial leaders in developed countries do not understand what is happening, because they have written off commodities as “unimportant” and “something that lesser-developed countries deal with.”

In the US, few consumers are concerned about the price of corn. Instead, they are interested in the price of a box of corn flakes, or the price of corn tortillas in a restaurant.

The US, Europe and Japan specialize in high “value added” goods and services. For example, in the case of a box of corn flakes, manufacturers are involved in many steps such as (a) making corn flakes from corn, (b) boxing corn flakes in attractive boxes, (c) delivering those boxes to grocers’ shelves, and (d) advertising those corn flakes to prospective consumers. These costs generally do not decrease, as commodity prices decrease. One article from 2009 says, “With the record seven-dollar corn this summer, the cost of the corn in an 18-ounce box of corn flakes was only 14 cents.”

Because of the small role that commodity prices seem to play in producing the goods and services of developed countries, it is easy for financial leaders to overlook price indications at the commodity level. (Data is available at this level of detail; the question is how closely it is examined by decision-makers.)

Figure 17. Various indices within US CPI Urban, displayed on a basis similar to that used in Figure 7 through 11. In other words, index values for later periods are compared to the average 2008 index value. CPI statistics are from US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Figure 17 shows some components of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on a basis similar to the trends in commodity prices shown in Figures 7 through 11. The category “Household furnishings and operations” was chosen because it has furniture in it, and I know that furniture prices have fallen because of the growing use of cheap imported furniture from China. This category shows a slight downslope in prices. The other categories all show small increases over time. If commodity prices had not decreased, prices of the other categories would likely have increased to a greater extent than they did during the period shown.

[10] Conclusion. We are likely kidding ourselves, if we think that oil prices can rise in the future, for very long, by a very large amount.

It is quite possible that oil prices will bounce back up to $80 or even $100 per barrel, for a short time. But if they rise very high, for very long, there will be adverse impacts on other segments of the economy. We can’t expect that wages will go up at the same time, so increases in oil prices are likely to lead to a decrease in the purchase of discretionary products such as meals eaten in restaurants, charitable contributions, and vacation travel. These cutbacks, in turn, can be expected to lead to layoffs in discretionary sectors. Laid off workers are likely to have difficulty repaying their loans. As a result, we are likely to head back into a recession.

As we have seen above, it is not only oil prices that need to rise; it is many other prices that need to rise as well. Making a change of this magnitude is almost certainly impossible, without “crashing” the economy.

Economists put together a simplified view of how they thought supply and demand works. This simple model seems to work, at least reasonably well, when we are away from limits. What economists did not realize is that the limits we are facing are really affordability limits, and that growing affordability depends upon productivity growth. Productivity growth in turn depends on a growing quantity of cheap-to-produce energy supplies. The term “demand,” and the two-dimensional supply-demand model, hide these issues.

The whole issue of limits has not been well understood. Peak Oil enthusiasts assumed that we were “running out” of an essential energy product. When this view was combined with the economist’s view of supply and demand, the conclusion was, “Of course, oil prices will rise, to fix the situation.”

Few stopped to realize that there is a second way of viewing the situation. What is falling is the resources that people need to have in order to have jobs that pay well. When this happens, we should expect prices to fall, rather than to rise, because workers are increasingly unable to buy the output of the economy.

If we look back at what happened historically, there have been many situations in which economies have collapsed. In fact, this is probably what we should expect as we approach limits, rather than expecting high oil prices. If collapse should take place, we should expect widespread debt defaults and major problems with the financial system. Governments are likely to have trouble collecting enough taxes, and may ultimately fail. Non-elite workers have historically come out badly in collapses. With low wages and high taxes, they have often succumbed to epidemics. We have our own epidemic now–the opioid epidemic.

 

 

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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1,535 Responses to Why Oil Prices Can’t Bounce Very High; Expect Deflation Instead

  1. Fast Eddy says:

    “One month after Tesla’s veteran battery technology direct, Kurt Kelty, left the company to “explore new opportunities”, another veteran employee has unexpectedly departed the carmaker: on Wednesday, Tesla said that long-time executive Diarmuid O‘Connell, vice president of business development, had left after 11 years with the company (after a prior stint as the State Department’s Chief of Staff on Political Military Affairs),”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-13/teslas-head-business-development-leaves-after-11-years-spend-more-time-family

    How does one go from Chief of Staff on Political and Military Affairs to VP of Business Development of an auto company?

    One doesn’t.

    But then of course Tesla is not a car company — it is a fake company — it was created by the El ders —- as a distraction from the real problems at hand….

    And fake companies are bureaucracies… and bureaucracies require bureaucrats.

    ‘Spend more time with my family’ — where have we heard that before …. of course John Key…

    O’Connell would no doubt be an insider aware of ‘Operation Hopium’ — the massive campaign to distract the sheeple from the imminent end of the world…

    The fact that he is walking away …. might be an indication that the end is getting very near….

  2. interguru says:

    This is a must read!

    As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads to them pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc.

    http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/food-nutrients-carbon-dioxide-000511?lo=ap_a1

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      “… iron and zinc.”

      daily multivitamin.

      • Lastcall says:

        Never been a fan of multivitamins; always believed that most things that aren’t eaten fresh and in natures original form are merely leftovers. Witness the rapid decline of Vit C in fruit etc once harvested. Some seem to have a half-life of only hours..?

        Maybe I am fussy because I still have access to real food (grow a reasonable amount of my own) and believe that feeding plants well means feeding ourselves well.

        Looking for food in a supermarket is like looking for health in a medical facility.
        Let medicine be your food etc etc.

        Just my opinion…

        • xabier says:

          Like the supermarket ‘organic’ apple I tossed into the compost heap, along with some of my own.

          They decayed rapidly, while the supermarket apple just kept on bobbing up for weeks, slightly soft but still fully intact!

          I began to wonder whether I should get on my knees and worship it as The Undying One.

          I just don’t eat fruit that I haven’y picked myself now, apart from a few English cherries in season. And enjoy it more for having to wait.

          • Harry Gibbs says:

            Lol at you and your unnervingly prolonged supermarket-apple, Xabier! I’m sure humans have worshipped stranger things…

          • wratfink says:

            Yes, I watched a package of hamburger rolls sit on the counter for two months just to see if they would mold. They did not… Scary…I finally put them in the compost.

            I wonder what chemical they are adding to bread to keep it from molding? It used to mold within a week. I’m sure it’s a “harmless additive” approved by the FDA (snort)…

            I suppose this is why there are no longer any commercial bakery stores that sell day old goods. They don’t need them since the product lasts forever now.

            • Niko says:

              282 is the preservative. Calcium propionate. It stops mold growth. It has bad side-effects on people causing numerous things like itchiness, burning sensations, emotional imbalances and many more. I am very susceptible to it. Can also have 202 in it which is potassium sorbate which can cause similar issues.

    • Lastcall says:

      Maybe thats why pest and disease problems increasing as well; more sugars and fewer protective proteins in the plants?

    • adonis says:

      amazing peak nutrients

    • Mark says:

      I can’t speak for the science, but the article is BS. No mention of oxygen for the roots? No mention of the growing medium? The plants can’t “breath” extra CO2 if they aren’t getting extra oxygen to the roots. This reeks of agenda IMO.
      snorp

      • Tim Groves says:

        I agree that the findings are far from comprehensive. But it wouldn’t be surprising if plants grown in enriched CO2 (all other factors being equal) contained less trace minerals simply because they grow significantly faster and larger.

        There is a hypothesis that agriculture was not practiced during the Ice Age mainly because the CO2 content of the air was so low (180 ~ 220 ppm) that plant growth was very sluggish, and so it would have made little sense to go to the effort of trying to cultivate anything. If modern humans date back about 200,000 years, they would have spent 90% of their evolutionary history under ice age conditions. The last 10,000 years of relatively higher CO2 along with relatively warmer, wetter weather, provided an opportunity to obtain much greater crop yields and by 10,000 years ago our ancestors in various places had reached a high enough technical level and population density to be able to exploit this opportunity. That is what drove first the development of agriculture and then the rise of civilization.

        Along with our fellow primates, we humans lack the ability to synthesize vitamin C. Perhaps this is because we’ve spent millions of years as gatherers and consumers of raw wild fruit and berries that contain huge amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants to protect themselves against the effects of ultraviolet light, and with this superabundance of vitamin C in the diet, we had no need to synthesize it, so over the course of natural selection (or act of God if you prefer) we lost the ability to do so. Moving to agriculture eventually gave us a very different diet with a lot less vitamin C and other goodies in it, and moving to industrial agriculture practiced on soils depleted of vital minerals and processed food has exacerbated this situation.

        I personally take 5 to 10 grams of vitamin C supplement every day, along with a whole alphabet of other helpful and essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Without their help, I would no long be able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, etc., etc. My ambition is to live actively well into my nineties sustained by supplements just like Linus Pauling did, and then to die as he did, by choking on a multivitamin tablet.

  3. Cliffhanger says:

    1. Oil drives GDP growth
    2. Debt is a bet on future GDP growth
    3. When the oil finally drops, the GDP goes down
    4, When the GDP goes down, the credit goes bad
    5. If oil goes down permanently, there will be no future bets on GDP growth (no more credit)

    • bandits101 says:

      1. Cheap oil drives GDP growth
      2. Increasing debt serves to maintain oil production along with consumer demand.
      3. When consumer demand (market) falls despite increasing debt, GDP decreases.
      4. Decreasing GDP, rising unemployment, debt defaults, bank failures, stock market crash.
      5. Oil down permanently…..
      6. The end.

    • Greg Machala says:

      “Tesla’s electric big-rig truck could have a working range of 200 to 300 miles to compete with more conventional diesels,” – HAHAHA That is funny. Modern semi-tractor trailers can have up to 4 150 gallon tanks (a lot have 2 tanks) and get about 5MPG (loaded) on the highway (which is where they generally do most of their hauling). So, that is at least 1500 mile range with two tanks That electric truck would need to recharge at least 7 times to go the same distance a conventional semi can go. All that recharging is going to play hell on the battery over the course of the expected 1 million miles the average semi tractor trailer will go in its lifetime. The average tractor trailer goes upwards of 100,000 miles every year! That is 333 recharges every year. I don’t think so Elon.

      • Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, before the advent of interstate dual-lane highway systems, diesel trucks had a range of a little over 200 miles, because that is how far a driver could go before there was a need for a change of drivers (stop lights through Main Street in every town on the way). I lived in Mauston, Wisconsin. Its main “industry” before the interstates came through in the mid to late 1960s was trucking, because trucks could not go from Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul in a single “hop”. A large share of the population was truck drivers. I suppose in a new scenario, a large share of the population could operate electricity recharging stations.

        Going to a 200-300 mile range would, in some sense, put us back many years ago. Not quite as bad, but almost.

      • Cliffhanger says:

        Yes. And the battery will weigh so much you won’t be able to haul as much stuff as a normal semi truck.

        • MG says:

          The cars with heavy batteries are not solution, as we move towards a “lighter world”, on the coal – oil – natural gas line. We use more and more plastics instead of metals now. And other light nanomaterials are used more and more, too.

          The weight is a key factor that makes electricity vehicles completely obsolete. Everybody talks about increasing the driving range, but what about increasing the driving range per kilogramm of the weight? (Do not forget that we need metal wires for electricity distribution vs. plastic pipes for hydrocarbons…)

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And I understand they generally have two drivers on board so can just keep on rolling…

        I wonder how long it would take to charge a mega battery on a semi truck.

        Let’s not get confused with the facts —- Green Grooopies will always have an answer — in this case it will be ‘but we have to start somewhere — and look at how quickly computer power increased’

        Funny thing though — the battery life of laptops has not changed much in years….

        Facts… who needs em.

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    http://euanmearns.com/adjusting-measurements-to-match-the-models-part-3-lower-troposphere-satellite-temperatures/

    “Overall the models show that gre enhouse gas es have had considerably less impact on temperatures than A G W theory says they should have had.”

    To summarize…. the models were wrong …. and in some instances the results were adjusted (faked) ….. because the kkklimate was not significantly wa rming.

    The takeaway is — geeeble deeble so far has not played out as expected —- we are not roasting — we will not likely be roasting soon … if ever

    And that should be a big fat relief for those who were fretting over this.

    Now that this has been cleared up we can focus on the real and present danger to each an everyone one of us —- the end of BAU due to the depletion of cheap to extract oil…

    And our imminent death by starvation – disease – violence and radiation poisoning….

    What you say — I am being far too negative????

    You would rather talk about geeble ddeeble — solar panels – windmills — and Tesla???

    Recall from Madmen Don Draper says — when you don’t like what is being discussed —- change the conversation ….

    Don has done a stellar job on these issues — nobody is talking about imminent suffering and death. They are too busy with ggeeb deeble solar panels and the latest mega money loser from tesla.

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      “Listen, don’t mention A G W! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right!”

    • The whole issue is very complex. Climate researchers do an awfully lot of “adjustments” to the historical data. They also know what their models predict. There is a temptation to adjust the historical data to better match what their models claim is happening. Roger Andrews shows actual historical data in this post–actually series of three posts on Euan Mearn’s site–and indicates that there seem to be several adjustments that seem to make the data better fit the theory.

      Many people have heard about the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, also known as “Climategate.” Several of the comments to Euan’s article relate to the difficulty that researchers showing alternative views of historical temperature patterns have in getting their papers published in journals. So the controversy over what the correct historical data is goes on and on.

      It is not just the historical data that is not entirely agreed to. There are also questions about what variables are important in the model. And of course, there is significant controversy in how much fossil fuels to include in the future. Thus, it would appear that there is a wide range of models that different researchers could come up with. But dictation from the IPCC makes it seem like there is one and only possible understanding of the situation.

      • doomphd says:

        There is a lot of pressure to publish in modern science, to get a better position or even to maintain it, e.g., post-tenure review. Dishonest and unethical behavior is especially prevalent in the medical research sciences these days, but it is pervasive. Altering historical data to fit a model’s results is plain dishonest. Usually, those found guilty of such behavior will lose the publication (it will be withdrawn or critically reviewed if already published), lose their position and will eventually be drummed out of science, as no one will hire them. The enforcers in the regard are scientific journal editors and college deans, institute directors, and university or company presidents.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I would have thought the opposite…. the most valued faculty members in universities are those who bring in the most dollars for research …. the way to bring the most dollar is to whore yourself to industries that want bottled results…..

          Ability to teach is irrelevant.

        • I think it varies with the field. With climate and with energy subjects, there is definitely a preferred outcome. All of the grants are written in such a way that the research will be in the selected direction. Those people writing articles know that to pass peer review, their articles will have to fit in with what peer reviewers consider the preferred outcome. The journal editors and academic book publishers add a strong push in the preferred direction as well.

          I once asked an author why he did not point out the extremely terrible results he had gotten with respect to the energy cost of solar panels with backup batteries in the conclusion section book he wrote, and he told me that he know the editor would not like that result mentioned. He had earlier told me about a paper in which he downplayed the results, because he didn’t think the paper would pass peer review.

          In academic articles, it helps that researches are looking only at tiny pieces of a subject. Even if the overall result is dire, they can avoid mentioning it by looking at only one small piece.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Kinda like how one almost never sees dissenting information regarding renewable energy or EVs in the MSM…

        This is all a massive full court press to distract the cattle….

        Extremely effective

        • The academic articles are at least equally biased. The peer review process generally “weeds out” anyone who doesn’t give a happily ever after ending. Or the editors of academic books make it clear that they will not publish anything without a “Happily ever after ending.” I walked away after being told this in so many words.

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    This is outstanding

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Kinda leaves me with a sick feeling to watch this….

      • thestarl says:

        And still the MH17 blackbox data has not been made public,just trust us the Russians were responsible.

      • xabier says:

        To paraphrase Tacitus: ‘They created devastation, and called it expansion of the EU.

        The films of Right-wing Ultra-Slav training camps (‘for warriors’) in the Ukraine are alarming and very disturbing to watch.

        Roaming militias, big bosses, boy soldiers: no different to a failed state in Africa.

        I saw a reference to the holding camps for refugees in Libya being ‘like concentration camps’, maybe exaggerated, who knows what is really happening?

        Still, Junker and his chums had a nice lunch and a glass or two of something decent before he gave his speech on the splendid future that awaits the European Union.

        All is well.

  6. J. H. Wyoming says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-nuclear-test-maybe-have-been-twice-as-strong-as-first-thought/2017/09/13/19b026d8-985b-11e7-a527-3573bd073e02_story.html?utm_term=.105be6dca53e

    “Estimates of the bomb’s yield, or the amount of energy released by the blast, have ranged from South Korea’s 50 kilotons to Japan’s 160 kilotons, although some analysts have said the 6.3 magnitude of the earthquake caused by the detonation could put it into the “hundreds of kilotons.” This would put it into the realm of thermonuclear weapons, supporting North Korea’s claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

    In comparison, the bomb detonated over Hiroshima in 1945 released about 15 kilotons of energy.

    Updated seismic data showed the magnitude of the resulting earthquake was greater than initial estimates — between 6.1 and 6.3. That means the yield of the latest test was roughly 250 kilotons, reported 38 North’s Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu.”

    I’m a little confused about something. Let’s say there’s an earthquake in Chile or Italy – don’t we know from various seismic measuring stations around the world what the magnitude of the earthquake was in say 1/2 an hour? So now NK detonates a nuclear bomb and the magnitude of the earthquake it caused is only now being fully understood?! Do you see the dilemma here? Either some high up military experts didn’t want us to really know the full power of NK’s latest underground detonation or seismology is still in its infancy or math has gotten fuzzy.

    250 kiloton yield is a thermo-nuclear detonation it is 16.6 times as powerful as the bomb that flattened Hiroshima. If NK really has H-Bomb’s and ICBM’s, although the latter are still in progress for longer distance, and they have miniaturized the warhead, then we probably would be much better off making friends with the NK than enemy’s. That kind of yield is quite dangerous.

    As a side note, did you know that the famous above ground test by the Russians, nick named Tsar Tomba was done by sandwiching layers of different radioactive elements, and that they realized it would be so powerful it would rain down fallout throughout the world as designed. So they substituted lead for certain layers to reduce the yield in half and the fallout remained in the region. The difference was that being half as powerful the mushroom cloud did not go as far ‘up’ into the atmosphere, so it didn’t get carried by the jet stream around the world. But one has to wonder if that change had not occurred, how many people would have died of cancer.

    And that’s my happy good night story before toddling off to slumberland. ZZZZZZZZZZZ……….

    • bandits101 says:

      Washington Post. Is that the MSM you savagely condemn others for reading?
      Typical of deniers and conspiracy nuts, cherry pick an article that agrees with their totally unqualified opinion then post it as being gospel and at the same time, completely ignore the thousands of papers written by qualified scientists that contradict their opinions.

    • psile says:

      To quote:

      Sara Menker, founder and chief executive of Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data technology company, said…some solutions to avert the oncoming crisis: reform the agricultural industries in Africa and India by changing how farmers farm, how people buy and consume food, decrease food waste, improve infrastructure, and increase farm yields exponentially.
      This is all wishful thinking. It sounds like she just rattled off whatever came to her head. These “solutions” also sound like a Trojan Horse for Monsanto to extend its evil stranglehold further around the globe.

      Besides, if we were to say “increase farm yields exponentially”, as we did during the Green Revolution, when the world’s population really exploded, what do we do for an encore?

      A complete dill.

    • Greg Machala says:

      For some reason I am hearing the voice of Al Bartlett and have images of yeast in a jar stuck in my head.

    • I have a few questions. Why can’t people eat what they have been eating in the past? It is not like they will be healthier for eating a “western diet.” And I thought that India, China, and Africa already have over half of the world population. They seem to, based on US population estimates as of 2015.

      • Artleads says:

        ++++++++++

      • A Real Black Person says:

        In many parts of the world, the local diet often left people with nutrition deficiencies. Malnutrition is common in agrarian societies because of the reliance on a smaller number of crops for food.

        In the Limits to Growth book, the authors had graphs stating that most people from India, asia, and Africa weren’t getting enough protein in their diets.

        Adopting a Western diet is appealing because
        1) More food
        2)More colories
        3) more nutrition
        4) Tastes better than what might be available locally. One of the reasons why other people around the world don’t overeat is because the locally available food doesn’t taste that good. It has a lot less salt, fat, or sugar. There is no recreational eating. There are no “foodies”.

        Adopting a Western diet is a good idea if the only other option is a deficient local diet.
        Unfortunately, when non-Western people adopt a Western diet, they go overboard, unable to distinguish real food from junk food. They gorge.
        http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/2/10-020210/en/

  7. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The pace of China’s economic expansion unexpectedly cooled further last month after a lackluster July, as factory output, investment and retail sales all slowed.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-14/china-s-economy-cools-again-as-industry-retail-investment-slow

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