A Video Game Analogy to Our Energy Predicament

The way the world economy is manipulated by world leaders is a little like a giant video game. The object of the game is to keep the world economy growing, without too many adverse consequences to particular members of the world economy. We represent this need for growth of the world economy as being similar to making a jet airplane fly at ever-higher altitudes.

Figure 1. Author’s view of the situation we are facing. World leaders look at their video screens and adjust their controllers to try to make the world economy fly at ever-higher levels.

World leaders look at their video game screens for indications regarding where the world economy is now. They also want to see whether there are specific parts of the economy that are doing badly.

The game controllers that the world leaders have are somewhat limited in the functions they can perform. Typical adjustments they can make include the following:

  • Add or remove government programs aimed at providing jobs for would-be workers
  • Add or remove government sponsored pension plans and payments to those without jobs
  • Add or remove laws regulating efficiencies of new vehicles
  • Change who or what is taxed, and the overall level of taxation
  • Through the above mechanisms, change government debt levels
  • Change interest rates

There are numerous problems with this approach. For one thing, the video game screen doesn’t give a very complete picture of what is happening. For another, the aspects of the economy that can be controlled are rather limited. Furthermore, the situation is very complex–there seem to be several “sides” of the economy that need to “win” at the same time, for the economy to continue to grow: (a) oil importers and oil exporters, (b) businesses and their would-be customers, (c) governments and their would-be taxpayers, and (d) asset holders and the would-be buyers of these assets, such as families needing new homes.

An even bigger problem is a physics problem that is hidden from the view of those operating the control mechanism. Jet airplanes in the real world cannot rise beyond a certain altitude (varying depending upon the plane), because the atmosphere becomes “too thin.” There is a parallel problem in the economic world. The atmosphere that allows an economy to grow is provided by a combination of (a) an increasing supply of cheap-to-produce energy, and (b) increased technology to put this growing energy supply to use. This atmosphere can become too thin for several reasons, including the higher cost of energy production, rising population, and growing wage disparity.

We know that in the real world, a jet airplane cannot rise ever-higher. Instead, at some point, the airplane hits what has been called its “coffin corner.”

Figure 2. Diagram of Coffin Corner by Aleks Udris of Boldmethod. On the chart, Vs is the velocity; MMO is the Maximum Mach Number.

According to Aleks Udris, “The region is deadly. Get too slow, and you’ll stall the jet at high altitude. Get too fast, and you’ll exceed your critical mach number. The air over your wings will go supersonic, you’ll pitch down, the aircraft will accelerate, and your wings will fall off. Also bad.”

What Happens As Coffin Corner Limits Are Reached in the Economic World?

What do world leaders do, as the world economy hits limits? One temptation is for the world leaders in Figure 1 to take their foot off the throttle that is operated by low interest rates and more debt, because they don’t seem to be providing very much benefit anymore. The leaders fear that if more debt is added at low interest rates, it risks creating “asset bubbles” that are easily disturbed if any little bump to the economy occurs. If a big bubble pops, there is a significant risk that the economy could fall down to a much lower level. This is like stalling the jet at high altitude.

World leaders can also use approaches that create situations more like “making the wings come off” the economy. These approaches involve favoring one group over another. For example, a government can give big tax breaks to businesses, but raise taxes on individual citizens. Businesses will ultimately be harmed by this approach, because they depend on individual citizens for their sales. The result is like tearing the wings off the airplane.

Another approach that would tear the wings off the economy involves actions by a different group of world leaders than those shown in Figure 1, namely the leaders from OPEC and Russia. These leaders have different video game screens and different game controllers. They can manipulate the world economy by reducing the supply of oil they provide. With this approach, they hope to increase the price of oil, and thus obtain a larger share of the world’s goods and services through higher tax revenue.

Raising the oil price would benefit oil exporters, but would make goods and services more expensive for oil importing countries. Ultimately, this approach would lead to recession in oil importing nations. The result would likely be worse than the 2008-2009 recession–another way to make the wings come off the economy.

Let’s look in a little more detail at what is happening, and what goes wrong:

[1] Energy plays a huge role in this game, because a growing supply of cheap-to-produce energy allows greater worker productivity.

It takes energy of various types to make the economy grow, because energy is needed whenever we move something, or heat something, or use electricity to operate something. We use energy products to leverage our human labor. For example, we use a truck to deliver a package, rather than walking and carrying the item in our hands. If fresh water is in short supply, we use energy to operate a desalination plant, and thus produce the fresh water we need.

It is generally workers who produce goods and services. If energy supply is inexpensive and readily available, it is easy for governments or businesses to create “tools” to make these workers more productive. These tools include such things as roads, vehicles, machines of all types, and even computers. If the quantity and capability of these tools are increasing, the labor of these workers is increasingly leveraged by the availability of these tools. This is what allows economic growth.

[2] The extent of world economic growth seems to depend primarily on how quickly total energy consumption is growing

If we look at historical economic growth, we see that the rate of growth of energy consumption seems to play a major role.

Figure 3. World GDP growth compared to world energy consumption growth for selected time periods since 1820. World real GDP trends for 1975 to present are based on USDA real GDP data in 2010$ for 1975 and subsequent. (Estimated by author for 2015.) GDP estimates for prior to 1975 are based on Maddison project updates as of 2013. Growth in the use of energy products is based on a combination of data from Appendix A data from Vaclav Smil’s Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 for 1965 and subsequent.

The highest rates of world economic growth took place in the 1950-1965 period, and in the 1965-1975 period. These were both periods of very high growth in energy consumption. As we will see below, these were both periods when the price of oil was less than $20 per barrel, for almost the entire period.

If we look at economic growth over shorter periods, we also see a strong correlation between world economic growth and growth in energy consumption:

Figure 4. World growth in energy consumption vs. world GDP growth. Energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. World GDP is GDP in US 2010$, as compiled by World Bank.

[3] On Figure 4 (above), the widening gap between GDP growth and energy consumption since 2013 could either represent (a) Much greater efficiency in using energy or (b) A problem in measuring true economic growth.

We can see true efficiency improvements in the 1975-1985 and the 1985-1995 periods shown on Figure 3. These were the periods when the world was truly trying to “get away from oil,” after a spike of high prices in the 1970s. Governments around the world were encouraging new smaller cars; electricity generation was being changed from oil to nuclear; home heating was being changed from oil to natural gas or electricity. The new furnaces installed were much more efficient than the old ones. Thus, during this period, efficiency/technology improvements were aiding economic growth to a greater extent than usual.

Now, in the period since 2013, much of the “low hanging fruit” has already been picked. We may still be finding some technology gains, but it seems likely that at least part of the problem is an “economic growth counting problem.” GDP looks like it is growing, but it is really very hollow economic growth. Governments invest in projects of essentially no value, and their investment is counted as GDP. For example, they invest in unneeded roads, in apartments that citizens cannot really afford, in educational institutions that do not produce graduates with wages that are sufficiently high to pay for education’s high cost, and in high-priced medical cures that are unaffordable by 99% of the population. Are these things truly contributions to GDP?

We also find businesses that look like they are growing, but in fact are taking on increasing amounts of debt as they sell off assets. This is not a sustainable model! We encounter energy companies that claim to be doing “sort of” alright, but their profits are so low that they need to cut back on new investment, and they need to borrow in order to have funds to pay dividends to shareholders. There is something seriously wrong with this growth!

[4] The economic “atmosphere” becomes thinner and thinner, when oil prices rise above an inflation-adjusted price of $20 per barrel.

Back in the time period prior to 1973, oil prices were generally below $20 per barrel, in inflation adjusted terms. Since then, prices have tended to be above this level.

Figure 5. Historical oil prices are Brent oil prices in 2016$ from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017; $20 per barrel is the maximum price level where oil is truly affordable; and $300 per barrel is the maximum price per barrel that the International Energy Agency seems to believe is possible for the world economy.

When oil (and other energy prices) were very low, companies could add tools to make workers more effective with little expenditure. As a result, the United States saw wages growing much more rapidly than inflation prior to 1968 (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Chart comparing income gains by the top 10% to income gains by the bottom 90% by economist Emmanuel Saez. Based on an analysis of IRS data, published in Forbes.

Once prices of oil started rising, prices of tools (broadly defined) rose. Governments and companies needed more debt to buy these tools. It became more of a burden to add capital goods of all kinds. Governments tried to raise GDP by adding debt, but to a significant extent they ended up with higher debt to GDP ratios rather than the rapid growth they were looking for (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Worldwide average inflation-adjusted annual growth rates in debt and GDP, for selected time periods. See post on debt for explanation of methodology.

The changes in the economy that allowed continued growth (more debt and more technology) tended to push the economy toward more wage disparity, in part because more technology required more training for some of the workers, but not for others. This allowed wages of the workers with special training to rise.

Furthermore, the need to repay debt with interest tended to funnel wealth toward the financial sector, and toward those within the economy who could afford to hold financial assets. These changes left less of the output of the economy for non-elite workers.

Economists never really understood what was happening. They had never thought through the important role that energy plays in the economy. Cheap energy is needed to create jobs. It is jobs, and the wages that those jobs pay, that tend to suffer when oil prices are too high (Figure 8). Thus, high-priced oil has a double impact on the economy:

  1. It makes goods of many kinds more expensive.
  2. It reduces job availability and wages.

Figure 8. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided by total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

Logic would suggest that the economy cannot really operate on high-priced oil. Lower wages and higher prices do not peacefully coexist! We should expect high oil prices to be very unstable. Even if prices can reach a high level in response to a specific shortage or stimulus, we cannot expect these high prices to be maintained for a sustained period, without added stimulus. Unstable high prices are not likely to give rise to more oil production; they cannot be depended upon.

Economists have never understood this situation. Instead, they have made pronouncements that at some point in the future, they expect that oil would become scarce. Because of this scarcity, oil prices would rise. In their view, when oil prices rise, high-priced substitutes would suddenly become the best option available; somehow, the economy would become able to operate using these high-priced substitutes. (If energy products were not needed for labor productivity, this view might make some sense. In the real world, it does not.)

It never occurred to organizations such as the International Energy Association (IEA) that high oil prices might be a problem for the economy. The IEA has shown exhibits suggesting that oil prices could theoretically rise to $300 per barrel. Of course, at such an elevated price, there would be an almost unlimited amount of oil available to extract (Exhibit 9).

Figure 9. IEA Figure 1.4 from its World Energy Outlook 2015, showing how much oil can be produced at various price levels.

[5] The real enemies of continued economic growth are (a) diminishing returns with respect to oil and other energy production, (b) continued population growth, and (c) increasing wage and wealth disparity. 

We seem to be playing a video game where the players don’t understand who the real enemies are.

Diminishing returns with respect to oil and other energy production have to do with the cost of energy extraction rising ever-higher, as more resources are extracted. There are a lot of resources that we can “see,” but that we cannot economically extract, unless prices rise to very high levels.

Figure 9. My version of the resource triangle for oil. Note that oil shale is not the same as tight oil, found in shale formations. Oil shale is kerogen that must be processed at very high temperatures in order to produce oil. This is rarely done, because of the high processing cost. Tight oil is not on this chart. Tight oil probably would be above “onshore heavy oil; oil sands.” It still would disappear, if oil prices permanently fell to $20 per barrel or less.

Continued population growth is a problem because it is really “energy per capita” that matters. Each individual needs food, transportation, and housing. All of these things take energy. Many years ago, when most of the workers were farmers, it was necessary to create ever-smaller farms, as population rose. This clearly would lead to lower food production per farmer, unless some sort of technological breakthrough was taking place at the same time. Today, we have a parallel issue.

Increasing wage disparity tends to be associated with the rising use of technology. When most labor is hand labor, workers truly do “pay each other’s wages.” All wages can be fairly equal. With increased technology, some workers have specialized training; others do not. Some workers are supervisors; others are laborers. Unless the overall output of the economy is rising very rapidly, non-elite workers find themselves increasingly unable to afford the output of the economy. It is this falling “demand” (really affordability) that tends to pull an economy downward.

[6] High oil prices can be temporarily tolerated by an economy, if interest rates are lowered to make this arrangement work.

Clearly, lower interest rates make capital goods of all kinds more affordable to both businesses and individual workers. If we look back at the period since 1981, we see a long period of falling interest rates, acting to stimulate the economy.

When oil prices exceeded $20 per barrel, the economy did not collapse immediately. In “normal” times, lowering interest rates was sufficient stimulus to keep the economy growing (Figure 4).

Figure 10. Ten-year treasuries through Nov. 17, 2017. Chart produced by FRED.

When there is a very big drop in oil prices (as in 2008, related to falling debt levels), then Quantitative Easing (QE) has been helpful (Figure 11). The US began its program of QE in late 2008, when oil prices were near their low point. There were three phases of the US’s QE. The US discontinued the third phase in late 2014, just as oil prices started to slide again.

Figure 11. Monthly Brent oil prices with dates of US beginning and ending QE.

[7] It is quite possible for a disconnect to occur between (a) the cost of oil extraction, and (b) the selling price of oil.

Oil that costs more than $20 per barrel is never very affordable by the economy. It really needs continual stimulus to keep prices at an elevated level. Once debt growth falls too low, the balance between the supply and demand for oil is settled in the direction of the amount of goods and services made with oil that non-elite workers can afford. Prices fall below the cost of production. This seems to be what has happened since 2014.

[8] In fact, since 2014, the selling prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have all fallen below the cost of extraction.

Figure 12. Price per ton of oil equivalent, based on comparative prices for oil, natural gas, and coal given in BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Not inflation adjusted.

It is popular to think that the reason why oil prices are too low is because of overproduction by the United States or Saudi Arabia. When a person stops to realize that essentially the same situation arises for all three fossil fuels, a person begins to understand that there likely is an affordability issue underlying the low prices for all three fuels. The affordability issue, of course, arises because energy supply is not rising quickly enough because (at over $20 per barrel), it is too expensive to be truly affordable. The “atmosphere is too thin” at today’s high cost of energy extraction.

9. Coal production seems to have “peaked” because at today’s low prices, few mines find the extraction of coal profitable.

It is popular in “Peak Oil” circles to believe as the economists do: oil and other energy prices can rise endlessly, because of growing “demand.” Economists have never stopped to think that at any given price, there is an affordability issue for customers. If prices drop too low, there is a profitability issue for those operating extraction facilities.

If we look at the situation with coal, we see a situation where peak production seems to have been reached because of low prices. China has closed down mines because falling prices have made mines that were previously profitable, unprofitable (Figure 13). Coal is the lowest-cost fuel; if it cannot be mined profitably, the world economy has a problem.

Figure 13. China’s energy production, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

In fact, it appears as though we have reached peak coal on a worldwide basis, as a result of low prices (Figure 14). It is hard to see any major production area that can grow substantially in the future, without much higher prices.

Figure 14. World coal production, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy Data. (For 1965-1980, consumption is substituted for production, because only consumption is given, and imports/exports are likely small.

[10] The world economy needs to be able to keep repaying debt with interest. If world economic growth slows too much, this will not be possible. 

We may already be reaching a “too slow growth limit.” Below this growth limit, it becomes impossible to repay debt with interest, especially if interest rates rise. We may already be reaching this point, based on the lack of growth in energy consumption per capita shown in Figure 15. (Also, as noted in Item [3], it seems quite possible that recent GDP growth indications are overstated.)

Figure 15. Average energy prices (averaging oil, coal, and natural gas) versus the total quantity of energy products consumed per capita, based on BP energy consumption data and UN population data. (Prices have not been inflation adjusted.)

Figure 15 suggests that affordability and price go together. When the world economy is growing rapidly, energy prices tend to rise (as does energy consumption). When energy consumption per capita falls, it is a sign that the world economy is not doing well.

One of the things that confuses matters is the very different economic growth results for different parts of the world. If oil prices are low, this improves economic growth prospects from the point of oil importers, such as the United States and China. This is what our video game players are looking at, not the results for the world as a whole. It is oil exporters, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, who are having problems.

If we look at world news, Venezuela may collapse because of low oil prices. Saudi Arabia has found it necessary to take on debt, and has undergone regime change, at least partly related to low oil prices. Norway is proposing that its oil and gas fund no longer invest in oil and gas companies, because it expects that there is a significant chance the oil price will not rise high enough to bring companies back to adequate profitability.

[11] The whole “game” has been confused by a lot of not-quite-correct pronouncements from academic circles.

A lot of well-meaning people have tried to solve our energy problems, but haven’t gotten the story right.

Economists have gotten the story pretty much 100% wrong. Energy is very important for the economy. Furthermore, energy prices don’t rise endlessly.

Peak Oilers have confused matters by talking about oil, coal and natural gas being determined by the amount of technically recoverable resources in the ground. This might be true if energy prices could rise endlessly, but clearly they cannot. By following the wrong views of economists, Peak Oilers have led world leaders to believe that far more resources are available to be extracted than really is the case.

People who call themselves Biophysical Economists haven’t really gotten the story correct either. The Biophysical Economists realized that there was a need for a measure for diminishing returns. They put together a measure which they called Energy Returned on Energy Invested. The measure, unfortunately, only “sort of” works. It gives a lot of wrong answers. It does not suggest that oil prices above $20 per barrel are a problem. It also does not suggest that substitutes for oil that are priced above $20 per barrel are a problem. It tends to give a lot of “false positives” when it comes to the question of whether renewables can be substituted for fossil fuels. It seems to suggest that a particular ratio is important, when it is really the total quantity of an energy product available at a very low price that is important.

I should not pick on the Biophysical Economists. There are many others with academic credentials who produce metrics that really aren’t very helpful. Energy payback time is not a very helpful metric, especially from the point of view of deciding whether or not to use a particular device. It is not the energy that the economy must pay back; it is the full cost of manufacturing the device that needs to be recovered, including human labor costs and taxes. In some applications, the cost of mitigating intermittency may also need to be considered.

Even the standard Levelized Cost of Energy calculations can give misleading indications, if they are used on intermittent renewables without taking into account the cost of mitigating the intermittency.


Conclusion

With all of these issues, it is not surprising that world leaders have difficulty playing the energy and economy game. In fact, it is hard to see any winning strategy.

One of the issues that makes the game impossible to win is the fact that all sides must win. A solution that cuts out the oil exporters is a problem for an economy dependent on oil. Any solution that cuts out the workers is a problem, partly because businesses need workers as consumers, and partly because governments need workers as taxpayers.

The reason I have not included any discussion of renewables is because at this point in time, we do not have any renewables that are sufficiently inexpensive and sufficiently scalable to represent a solution.

 

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,300 Responses to A Video Game Analogy to Our Energy Predicament

  1. Tim Groves says:

    Santa Rosa fires — shades of Nine Eleven?

    • Buford T. Bustamonte says:

      come on, this so silly.

      • Tim Groves says:

        I admit, that was my initial default reaction too. But then I remembered Keith was evangelizing about the desirability of constructing space-based solar power beamed down to earth as microwave energy, and I so I put on a fresh double-thick sheet of aluminum foil to shield myself from the mind-control rays, and I began pondering whether the US ultra deep state had the means, the motive and the opportunity to have already built this sort of stuff clandestinely.

    • Wow! These are some very strange coincidences. A person wonders what 500 trillion watt lasers are being used for. (Shouldn’t there be some favorable uses for 500 trillion watt lasers?)

      A 500 watt laser has been around since 2012:

      https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/07/17/156909755/u-s-laboratory-breaks-laser-record-delivering-500-trillion-watt-beam

      https://lasers.llnl.gov

      I don’t know where the facility is located, but Livermore, California is up by San Francisco, inland a ways.

      A Japanese laser is even bigger:

      https://theconversation.com/worlds-most-powerful-laser-is-2-000-trillion-watts-but-whats-it-for-45891

    • Pintada says:

      I was going to list all the things that are real, but are denied by millions and all the things that are not real but are believed by millions to be completely true. Then, I realized that it is an impossible task – there are so many examples that it boggles the mind.

      If anyone tires of explaining peak affordable oil as the inevitable demise of this society, you can simply start pointing to peak stupidity. No society can long survive if its people (including elected officials) are unable to understand the basics of how the society functions, or what the threats to that society are. In point of fact, our society is so dumbed down, that most people cannot even read and comprehend what they are reading.

      To entertain Master Fast, I will list a few facts that are widely not understood:

      0. The Tverbergian Collapse is a distinct possibility if something else doesn’t end society first.
      1. Nothing anyone does or can do – short of placing a nuclear device in the pond – will cause a nuclear explosion at a spent fuel pond. Therefore, the effects of any problems at a spent fuel pond are – while nasty – localized on land to within a 100 mile radius. (I don’t eat fish, except as a special treat.)
      2. AGW does exist, and it already is having a profound effect on the ecosystem, and this society. At some point well before the end of the century it will end the human race as we know it – or snuff it out – unless something else ends society first.
      3. While throwing billions at physicists as Reagan did during the “Star Wars Initiative” will cause the invention of incredibly powerful lasers, there is no-one in the US that uses those lasers to start fires in Los Angeles. And, obviously, those lasers will never be used for strategic defense.
      4. There is no-one in control of this society. There are people that have influence, but they are just as dumbed down as the average person, and so their influence is frequently and inadvertently used to cancel out someone else’s influence. Thus, bitcoin.
      5. “Chem-trails” do not exist. The best argument I have ever heard, for them came from a true believer who said, “… and it could be way worse than I am saying because there isn’t any proof for any of it!”.

      The list could go on … and on and on.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        1. Nothing anyone does or can do – short of placing a nuclear device in the pond – will cause a nuclear explosion at a spent fuel pond. Therefore, the effects of any problems at a spent fuel pond are – while nasty – localized on land to within a 100 mile radius. (I don’t eat fish, except as a special treat.)

        You really must meet my good friend Google … there is this really cool image function …. you type in How Far Did Chernobyl Reach … and you get

        You can also get this from an All search

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2945929/Chernobyl-s-nuclear-threat-revived-Forest-fires-Ukraine-cause-radioactive-particles-released-Europe.html

        And

        http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/chernobyl/backgrounder/en/

        Now keep in mind TWO THINGS:

        1. Chernobyl did NOT involve spent fuel ponds – and as we know – spent fuel ponds contain tonnes of spent fuel — as opposed to reactors which contain relatively little spent fuel

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

        2. Chernobyl was quickly contained — remember the video of the helicopters dumping cement on the reactors?

        4000 spent fuel ponds — each one exponentially more toxic than a reactor.

        Sorry to inform you — but the facts do not support your ridiculous assertion.

        • Pintada says:

          So, are you saying that everyone in Spain died just after Chernobyl? Really? Or are you saying that nuclear particles are very very easy to measure even in the parts per trillion or parts per quadrillion range? Do you understand the distinction?

          Are you saying that Chernobyl was an example of a power plant exploding like a bomb? My “ridiculous assertion” was that spent fuel ponds cannot be the cause of a nuclear explosion. I will be even more ridiculous – you heard it here first folks – a power plant cannot be the cause of a nuclear explosion.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            What I am explaining is that Chernobyl was entombed in cement — if it were not entombed then yes — people in Spain and around Europe would have been exposed to radiation that would have spewed from that plant for decades.

            What I am explaining is that Chernobyl – even if it was not entombed — and was allowed to spew radiation for decades…. would not come remotely close to causing the amount of death and misery that a single spent fuel pond left to boil out of control would….

            Did you notice the quote ‘one fuel pond has 700 spent fuel assemblies vs 1 assembly per reactor’

            So – 700 Chernobyls gets released — for decades.

            This really is not difficult stuff… for normal people.

            But I recognize that you live in DelusiSTAN… where 1+1=4…..

            Let me know how I can help you overcome your impediment.

            As you know – I am here to help.

            In the meantime I have called my dog over — I will see if I can explain this to her…. if she gets it then I am hopeful that if I use a similar strategy I can make a break through with a DelusiSTANI.

            • Slow Paul says:

              It’s all about what perspective you have. Pintada believes glowball wurming will do us in, that is some people may vanish due to crop loss and starvation. This is somewhat “mitigatable”.

              But if one of these spent fuel ponds go unattended, you get radiation-spewing fires that nobody is there to put out. And then there are 4000 or so more of these ticking time bombs… No mitigation except moving to Mars…

        • zenny says:

          I love you Fast….but you are wrong the about SPF in Japan…humor me and go back and look. One of your strong points is admiring that your were wrong.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I am not wrong about Japan.

            The spent fuel ponds remain intact at Fukushima — I understand that there are cracks in the containment — that have not been repaired (?) – hence the fear of another large earthquake in the region.

            If the spent fuel pond(s) were to collapse we would be facing ‘The Devil’s Scenario’

            Japan’s chief cabinet secretary called it “the devil’s scenario.”

            Two weeks after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing three nuclear reactors to melt down and release radioactive plumes, officials were bracing for even worse.

            They feared that spent fuel stored in the reactor halls would catch fire and send radioactive smoke across a much wider swath of eastern Japan, including Tokyo.

            Spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear reactor plants is also vulnerable, the report warns. A major spent fuel fire at a U.S. nuclear plant “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., who was not on the panel.

            http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/burning-reactor-fuel-could-have-worsened-fukushima-disaster

            I might add the the Fukushima accident was not particularly ‘horrific’ — although they have been unable to entomb the reactor cores as they did at Chernobyl — they have been able to pour water on them to keep them under control…..

            Yes radiation continues to drain into the ocean and surrounding land … but that is nothing compared to what would have happened (and will happen) if those pumps were not in play.

            And that involves ONLY the reactor fuel.

            When the spent fuel ponds go – post BAU — the entire population of Japan will die. That is GUARANTEED.

            Keep in mind — this is only ONE facility — and that would release enough radiation to kill everyone.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        2. AGW does exist, and it already is having a profound effect on the ecosystem, and this society. At some point well before the end of the century it will end the human race as we know it – or snuff it out – unless something else ends society first.

        Funny – I distinctly recall that by now the impact of gggwwww would be catastrophic…. I see no catastrophe…. oh right … in 20 more years… or is it 50… or a 100?…. always tomorrow — you know how it is … such things are difficult to predict… and when the warrrming doesn’t happen you even change the tag line to kkklllimate ccchange…. sounds better! Need to try to maintain a bit of logic here… people are stuuuuupid … but not THAT stuuuupppid. They won’t buy warming when it is not getting warmer.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        There is no-one in control of this society. There are people that have influence, but they are just as dumbed down as the average person, and so their influence is frequently and inadvertently used to cancel out someone else’s influence.

        I have asked before — can you point me to evidence of a vote in congress or the senate — where the reps of the people voted on the tens of trillions of dollars of stimulus that have been released?

        I remember Tarp — 700B was it? But what about the trillions that followed?

        And can you show me the vote where the reps authorized someone to buy up the stock market with tax payer money?

        I can’t find it. I need your help.

      • Pintada says:

        Master Fast was indeed entertained. But my point remains … well it has actually been greatly bolstered. Thanks.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If anyone ever had any doubts about how things work in DelusiSTAN…. pay close attention to that last post….

          It is like being told 1+1+ 4 …. the proving to that person that no – 1+1=2…

          And that person thanking you for confirming that 1+1=4.

          It is impossible for the rest of us to understand the logic of a DelusiSTANI…. the only way we could maybe… and that is a very big MAYBE…. would be if we were to take 10 tabs of LSD per day for 15 years and 6 months….. supplemented by 5 electric shock treatments per day …. and 4 punches to the head by Mike Tyson … then finally at the end of the 15 and and a half years — open the head and if there are any functioning parts remaining …. pour Round Up and Tordon on them…. then splash a bit of water that has been treated with a few grams of spent fuel….

          And just MAYBE…. one might then acknowledge that 1+1=4…

          We’ll make DelusiSTANIS out of all of you yet!

      • Pintada says:

        So, now to my point. (Note that if you believe that Master Fast has a dead lock on the issues discussed above, the point is still made.)

        As a society, we have lost the ability to tell fact from fiction – the obvious from the absurd. Maybe the idea that we now have more information than we can assimilate is true, or possibly we always were a cursed stubborn species that simply cannot admit when we are wrong. Either way …

        One of us is wrong about those issues. Can you tell which – honestly?

        I know I can!

        • Fast Eddy says:

          What’s 1+1?

          We shall see if I am making any progress with trying to train a DelusiTANI to recognize simple logic

        • Pintada says:

          Remember the last time you got tricked into defending your belief in the possibility of Tverbergian Collapse? You gave your facts, and your audience laughed, and then started shouting and then out came the pitchforks, name calling, threats?

          People believe the things – sometimes profoundly bizarre and/or grossly oversimplified things – that they can wrap their heads around and they will not ever change their minds. That is what we are stubborn monkeys.

          But, we live in a complex, quickly changing world. And that change is accelerating! I do not think our little monkey brains can keep up. The risk from that is pretty clearly as bad or worse than any of the other risks that we can understand.

          BTW: I am right about AGW, spent fuel ponds, and of course about no-one being in control. No amount of name calling, use of caps, or verbiage can change that.

          • Jesse James says:

            FE wins.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Yes of course you are right …. but you need to keep calm… very calm…. yes that is better… oh look — is that a polar bear? — over there ….

            Ok boys – quickly!

            Time to go home now Pintada… home is good .. no? You like home…. so soothing… nobody to mock you …nobody to ask what 1+1 =….. where there are no spent fuel ponds…. and no starving bears…. shall we sing a song? Yes let’s sing … Imagine … that’s your favourite!

            Now who the hell let this guy out? I gave strict orders… he is not to be allowed past the gate – for any reason.

            Yes Sir! Sir!

      • Tim Groves says:

        0. The Tverbergian Collapse is a distinct possibility if something else doesn’t end society first.
        Agreed. But to come to that conclusion, one has to buck the establishment consensus among economists and the general social conditioning that tells people we can continue to have growth and improved living standards indefinitely. Since you can see through that bunkum, I’m amazed you can’t see through the CAGW flim-flam.

        1. Nothing anyone does or can do – short of placing a nuclear device in the pond – will cause a nuclear explosion at a spent fuel pond.
        It doesn’t require a nuclear explosion to release radioactivity, so as a rebuke to Eddy’s scenario, your point is a red herring. All that’s needed enough reasonably fresh fuel in a dry pond and it will get hot enough to melt the cladding and begin releasing radioactivity into the air, and enough radioactive material could blow on the wind to have nasty results downwind. And everywhere is potentially downwind.

        2. AGW does exist, and it already is having a profound effect on the ecosystem, and this society. At some point well before the end of the century it will end the human race as we know it – or snuff it out – unless something else ends society first.
        AGW may exist as something more than a political and social construct, although proving that it does is is going to take more than adjustments historical records that cool the past to make the present appear warmer by comparison, or tear-jerking videos of dying polar bears. As for it being a destroyer of the human race, well, the human race has survived plenty of climatic variation in its time.

        3. While throwing billions at physicists as Reagan did during the “Star Wars Initiative” will cause the invention of incredibly powerful lasers, there is no-one in the US that uses those lasers to start fires in Los Angeles. And, obviously, those lasers will never be used for strategic defense.
        The problem with classified technology is one never knows. Obviously, if those lasers were being used for some secret purpose, the people using them wouldn’t be publicly announcing the fact. So when you claim no-one is using them to start fires or for strategic defense, you are stepping outside your area of knowledge.

        4. There is no-one in control of this society. There are people that have influence, but they are just as dumbed down as the average person, and so their influence is frequently and inadvertently used to cancel out someone else’s influence. Thus, bitcoin.
        As a theory of human society, I find your hypothesis commendable but not convincing. As with the theory that there is on-one in control of the Universe, I remain agnostic while eagerly awaiting further data.

        5. “Chem-trails” do not exist. The best argument I have ever heard, for them came from a true believer who said, “… and it could be way worse than I am saying because there isn’t any proof for any of it!”.
        Nobody around here ever said they did as far as I can remember. But again, the absolutism of your assertion in the absence of verifiable facts says more about your mindset than it does about chemtrails, or AGW, or lasers, or the control of society.

        The illusion of knowledge is so much more comforting than the possession of actual knowledge itself, or as Daniel Boorstin said, “the greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”

        • jupiviv says:

          “It doesn’t require a nuclear explosion to release radioactivity, so as a rebuke to Eddy’s scenario, your point is a red herring. All that’s needed enough reasonably fresh fuel in a dry pond and it will get hot enough to melt the cladding and begin releasing radioactivity into the air, and enough radioactive material could blow on the wind to have nasty results downwind. And everywhere is potentially downwind.”

          No, your response to Pintada is a red herring. And a textbook one at that! If you can’t guess why then ipso facto you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Fascinating how you can sound like a hippie anti-nuclear protestor *and* a right-wing AGW denier in the same sentence. I guess you pick ’em up wherever you find ’em.

          • Tim Groves says:

            No, the meat and vegetables of your response to my response is not worth the effort of replying to. Although just to set the record straight, I consider myself pro-nuclear power and when I hear the denier slur (with its clear associations to Holocaust denial, not to mention it’s earlier associations with Christian dogma) thrown about by people who seem to think it’s a scientific term, I really can’t help giggling—not at what’s said but at the people like you who are saying it.

            But unlike you, I’m just not that into shooting off argumentum ad hominem attacks at anonymous people on the Internet just because they fail to share my opinions on topics they know little about. For me, it’s like angling or golf—not a sport I would want to spend any amount of time doing.

            But I do think you and your fellow advocates picked up a nasty habit when you plumped for the denial label. As Jo Nova wrote a few years back:

            There are many people who have so little respect for the ghastly suffering of Auschwitz, that they are more than happy to milk it shamelessly to score points in a science debate that they can’t win fairly.

            http://joannenova.com.au/2014/03/climate-change-denial-and-the-holocaust-allusion/

            But if you feel the need to sink that low, be my guest. As I said, it amuses me that you lot think calling someone who disagrees with your opinions on scientific matters “a denier” is a valid scientific practice that will earn you brownie points in decent society and stand as a rebuttal so that you don’t have to address any of the salient scientific points.

            You lot have lost your debate—not with us “deniers” but with nature. If the world had truly warmed as much as was being forecast, if the ice had melted away as much as was being predicted, if the sea level had risen as much as was being projected in the alarmist media over the past 25 years, then no sane person would deny it and nobody would be able to deny it without being ridiculed. But as it happens, none of these things have happened and—dodgy measurements and biased interpretations of data notwithstanding—planet earth is not noticeably warmer now than it was 25 years ago. And you’re welcome to deny that fact if you like.

            • jupiviv says:

              “Although just to set the record straight, I consider myself pro-nuclear power”

              Even though you believe spent fuel pond radiation will go ‘downwind’, which apparently ‘everywhere’ is, in the event of collapse, which you also believe will happen.

              You, FE and the rest of the BAU-or-bust club strike this impartial pose – having seemingly bipartisan and edgy stances on issues – to feel good about how insightful and objective you are. The reality is that anyone with a modicum of actual expertise or understanding can see through it.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              BAU or Bust Club… that has a nice ring to it! I’ve never been a member of a club….

              Did I mention that I am the world champion? You are welcome to sycophant me.

            • We haven’t lost electric power to keep the spent fuel pools cool. We really don’t know for certain how this will turn out. I find it difficult to believe, “The reality is that anyone with a modicum of actual expertise or understanding can see through it.” Fukushima was (and still is) a major problem. They were worried about the possible need to evacuate Tokyo. There are topics where the science is less than settled. Many parts of the world are requiring a whole lot more safety equipment for nuclear electric, pushing costs through the roof, and thus making nuclear not feasible. Others are phasing out existing nuclear power plants, despite the lack of reasonable low carbon generation.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Even though you believe spent fuel pond radiation will go ‘downwind’, which apparently ‘everywhere’ is, in the event of collapse, which you also believe will happen.

              Is that a contradiction?

              It may seems so because you are conflating my views with Eddy’s on the inevitability of spent fuel pools not being safely secured following the collapse.

              My proposal for school children in local communities everywhere to sponsor a spent fuel rod so that every small- and medium-sized town will have its own heated swimming pool and a radium spa resort powered by its very own hot rod. In order to achieve this goal, a IAEA-backed “Spare The Rod, Spoil the Children” project needs to be in place before collapse.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              This is good. I like it.

              I will have Fast Eddy Industries immediately start working on thermos flasks that will conveniently hold one spent fuel rod so that the children can transport their rods safely.

          • JesseJames says:

            Gosh Jup, I can’t make sense of what you wrote.
            I gather that you think that burning fuel rods will not emit radiation. I have yet to see anything that burns that doesn’t emits particulates.

            • jupiviv says:

              “I gather that you think that burning fuel rods will not emit radiation.”

              You can gather all the red herrings you want, but it won’t change the fact that spent fuel rods won’t be remotely close to killing ‘everyone’ under any circumstances.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              So perhaps you could explain why — when it was thought that ONE of the Fukushima fuel ponds was going to bust open …. the Japanese government was putting a plan in place to evacuate Tokyo — a city over 200km away….

              Obviously that evacuation plan would have to include much of the country — radiation does not magically stop at Tokyo….

              ONE pond.

              There are 54 nuclear reactors in Japan. And each would have multiple spent fuel ponds.

              There are 4000+ spent fuel ponds around the world.

              If unmanaged they spew for years and years and years……

              Just because you cannot believe this is an extinction event …. does not mean that it is not.

              You do realize that?

              Or perhaps you believe that if you wish upon a star that your delusion will come true?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ipso fukto…. purple herring…. yabba … dabba… doo!!!

  2. Fast Eddy says:

    I took a few minutes skipping to the parts of this that try to explain what Bitcoin is…. and I remain convinced … Bitcoin is a steaming pile of dung … I am absolutely no clearer as to the purpose of it… sweeping statements with no meat on the bones…

    This is just another symptom of the global insanity that we are experiencing — right up there with Tesla… and solar panels….

    If the CBs wanted this dead – they could kill it in the time it takes to issue a statement making it illegal…

    Of how about run a cruise missile into one of the server farms that ‘mine’ this nonsense?

    For f789 sake — the Fed murdered 500k children in Iraq…. and they are just going to stand by and watch some clowns usurp their power to print the reserve currency and control the world?

    Uh – and if it were something they thought might be useful – why would the Fed not just issue Fedcoin… and outlaw trade in all others

    People need to give their head’s a shake. Or just go on being MORE ons.

    The only question I have is if the CBs wanted it dead it would already be dead — so why are they tolerating this?

    • Baby Doomer says:

      It helps create positive “news{ stories that help to mislead and distract people away from our current Great Depression 2.0…

    • Fast Eddy says:

      “We’ve seen mortgages being taken out to buy bitcoin. … People do credit cards, equity lines,” said Borg, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, a voluntary organization devoted to investor protection. Borg is also director of the Alabama Securities Commission.

      Speaking to CNBC later in the day, Dimon said he’s skeptical governments will allow a currency to exist without state oversight: “Someone’s going to get killed and then the government’s going to come down,” he said. “You just saw in China, governments like to control their money supply.”

      “You’re wasting your time with Bitcoin! Virtual currency, where it’s called a bitcoin vs. a U.S. dollar, that’s going to be stopped,” said Dimon. “No government will ever support a virtual currency that goes around borders and doesn’t have the same controls. It’s not going to happen.”

      “Blockchain is like any other technology. If it is cheaper, effective, works, and secure, then we are going to use it. The technology will be used, and it could be used to transport currency, but it will be dollars, not bitcoins.”

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-11/its-mania-phase-securities-regulator-warns-mortgages-are-being-taken-out-buy-bitcoin

      So let me get this straight… blockchain is a secure method of transferring cash … kinda like when I transfer $1000 from my HSBC account to someone else’s account at another bank. But now I don’t need to pay the banks any fees to do this if I use block chain.

      But the transfer would only be permitted if I used Bitcoin.

      So why are people speculating on Bitcoin? Just because it is meant to be used instead of other currencies — why would it be increasing 40% per month?

      And why could someone not just blockchain to allow me to transfer NZD or HKD or USD or CDN? At whatever the daily exchange rate is for any conversion?

      And why is the MSM not asking similar questions?

      • Niko B says:

        I think bitcoin was an interesting concept to create a token of exchange that does not require a third party to verify or validate trust in the transaction occurring. However basing the mining on exponential growth of electricity use shows complete ignorance of our energy situation. Ialso agree FE that the CBs can smash bitcoin on the rocks of history at anytime. At any point all of the elements that are attractive to people regarding bitcoin can be taken away – such as making it illegal, full reporting by exchanges or just buying and selling on huge levels as to destroy confidence in it stability as a store of value. There is no way in hell that the FED will let there be a competitor to dollar INC. I think there is money to be made short term but at a certain point bitcoin will trip itself over and fortunes will be lost. Good luck to those that have invested already. I have a friend who bought 10 coins at $5 each and is cashing in now at $20000 each. good for him.

        • Greg Machala says:

          There are really only two ways Bitcoin is useful:
          1. Swap it for a legal tender and buy stuff
          2. Buy stuff where sellers accept Bitcoin

          Question 1: Do the Central banks have control over #1? – Mostly yes.
          Question 2: Do they have control over #2? Not directly.

          Of course both could be declared illegal by lawmakers. And lawmakers are heavily influenced by the Central Banks.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          One would want to be taking some cash off the table … I’ve got a mate who believes … he bought initially at under 1000… but is still buying….

          Personally… I’d go this route…. (but then maybe BC goes to 50k)

          It just occurred to me — might BC not be another form of pumping up GDP numbers? Coke and hooker transactions are now counted… why not BC trades….

      • Curt Kurschus says:

        Bitcoin stories are great for the mainstream media. They can tell viewers that by investing in Bitcoin they will be sticking it to those evil banks at the same time as they are getting rich with barely any effort. Bitcoin offers an example of advancing technology that the “news” media can present as evidence of a clear trend toward a bright new more equal future. From what I have noticed, most people don’t bother to reason through such promises of a golden future.

        People have grown so accustomed to, and become so dependent upon, growth and progress, that they will lap up the positives and vehemently deny any possibility of the negatives.

        All the news media are doing is surviving by telling people exactly what they want, need, and expect to hear.

      • zenny says:

        You do not understand block-chain and the tie in to AI…It is bad but you can make money off it…Same as Tesla..Let the morons invest in the likes of Nortel and GE..

        • Fast Eddy says:

          This is not investing …. it is like going to Macau — dumping money on a a red number.. the wheel spins…. you have a tiny chance of turning 10k into 100k…. but you do have a chance…

          The number of cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of 27 November 2017 is over 1324 and growing. A new cryptocurrency can be created at any time. By market capitalization, Bitcoin is currently (2017-08-19) the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple and Litecoin.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptocurrencies

          How do you determine which would be the red one? On what fundamental basis? Oh right — luck. Like a monkey shooting a dart at a board with 1324 dots on it — you buy the one he hits – and hope.

          This is a f789ing joke. And yes Tesla is a f789ing joke. AI is a f789ing joke.

          And for those who hit the jackpot — congratulations – I highly recommend spending the winnings quickly.

    • Dennis L. says:

      It is only a guess and I am far less knowledgeable than you, but it seems CB’s allow a skim as well as needed liquidity for smooth functioning. Assets do not all depreciate at the same rate, sometimes they go to zero at the same time resulting in lack of cash flow which can be papered over by the CB. Perhaps people are protesting and trying to avoid the skim. Maybe the cost of the skim became greater than the benefits for many people.

      Dennis L.

  3. Fast Eddy says:

    MSM is saturated with Bitcoin stories… the Fed controls the MSM…

    The MSM is used to control the masses.

    What is the agenda?

    Bread and circuses?

    Do they at some point slam this shut — the MSM could live off of stories of collapses in wealth lost for months

    And this is one collapse that would not really matter – BC is not TBTF… Americans alone lose over 100b in casinos per year — Macau would see much bigger numbers… then there are loads of other casinos in other countries that would add to the total….

    So crashing BC would not be fatal — but it would definitely be ENTERTAINING!!!

    https://wolfstreet.com/2017/12/11/peak-bitcoin-media-mania-yet/

    • xabier says:

      I always find it amusing that people wring their hands over inequality, poverty, food banks, etc, and demand that government do more, while private citizens blow such fantastically huge sums in gambling.

      Each and every one is perfectly free to direct their money to good causes, but they don’t.

      • Slow Paul says:

        Yes, it’s always “they” that have to fix things.

        My sister-in-law was on a visit recently. She has become a bit overweight due to an unhealthy lifestyle. She had been seeing many nutrition physiologists, personal training instructors and even talking to surgeons about getting surgery to “shrink” her stomach. Surgeons turned her down since she is not really that obese.

        She was complaining about how nobody helped her, everybody just told her to eat healthy and exercise…

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And then we have green groupies who strive to get that higher salary … and cry if their bonus is not big enough …. because they wanted to buy more ‘stuff’ (like a Tesla with its 1200lb toxic battery?)

        MORE ons unlimited.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Or maybe they want to have the cash to take an extra long haul trip — first class of course…. (and they would be aghast if they found out you didn’t recycle a tin can!)

          • xabier says:

            FE You would love the Antarctic ecologist who lives over the road from me: multi-car household, just built a huge extension to the house, etc……

            • Antarctica is a place that we can drop out of the world economy without too much loss.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Humans are such ridiculous animals….. there needs to be a reality show for this sort of thing…. something like Candid Camera …. where the green groopies is filmed in secret — lecturing or complaining about burning fossil fuels… then filmed using enormous amounts of coal and oil….

              Al Gore could be the first person featured…..

      • zenny says:

        Well We give in time and food. Canada does not have food stamps it is up to the people to give and they do. In my city we have an all you can eat free meal every day and food banks that are private.
        We rotate our food through food banks and old folks housing. Do not even get a tax break for this

        • when crossing the border between usa and canada i can never figure out how attitudes change across just a footstep

          • MG says:

            The population in colder areas is still more sustainable thant the population in warm areas, as the food production in the colder areas is limited by lower light and heat – Africa is a testimony of this.

  4. Buford T. Bustamonte says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/energy

    Brent oil up to $65.39

    Over 65 bucks a barrel. It’s been headed up for quite a while now and is probably going to keep going up because of a lack of investment in exploration. I think one consideration on Big Oil’s part may be all the mandates for EV’s, like CA considering banning ICE’s and only allowing electric by 2030. Many other countries are floating or have instituted similar mandates. So what’s the incentive for expensive drilling when the price has been low with future demand probably slated to be greatly reduced?

    • The problem now is that the Forties Pipeline, carrying about 40% of the crude oil produced on North Sea platforms to Europe, is going to be closed for weeks.
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/forties-pipeline-system-carrying-brent-crude-to-be-shut-for-weeks-1513017015

      One of Europe’s most important oil pipeline systems will be shut down for a “matter of weeks,” said owner Ineos, sending a jolt into international oil prices as traders contemplated the loss of some North Sea oil supplies.

      The Forties Pipeline System carries about 445,000 barrels of crude a day through the North Sea, some of it used to create the benchmark crude price known as Brent.

      Ineos, the British refining and chemicals company, said Monday it was shutting down the Forties after the worsening of an onshore hairline fracture south of Aberdeen, Scotland.

      In Tuesday morning trading in Europe, Brent crude was 1.4% higher at $65.57 a barrel, after reaching its highest level since June 2015 on Monday.

      • Buford T. Bustamonte says:

        I worked in the BP 40’s (4 BP offshore oil rigs) offshore from Aberdeen, Scotland 1979-1980 for Haliburton. Got bored with Scotland and came back to California. Wow, what a relief to be back, although I did make some good friends there and enjoyed the atmosphere of the pubs, Guinness on tap, mini steak pies and the lassies. Just rather dismal there as the weather is always like Seattle and in the winter like North Dakota. Rain, wind, rain, sunny, windy, raining, sunny, cold, snowing, rain, wind…Got back to CA, sat out on a sunny back deck overlooking SF bay and sipped some awful tasting American beer with friends and family. It was so good to be home!!!

        • xabier says:

          How strange. In the real estate ads for Scottish houses, the sky is always, for some reason, as blue as Spring in Mallorca……

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Fake mandates. Never going to happen.

      The reason we see edicts like this from the MoT (ministry of truth) is to create the perception that the future is NOW — and it is clean – and renewable.

      That is of course total bullsh it.

  5. MG says:

    Baumgarten, one of the largest European gas compressor stations currently on fire

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/violent-explosion-huge-gas-plant-11679763

    “Each year about 40 billion m³ of natural gas is redistributed via the Baumgarten station to Austria and to Western, Southern and Southeastern Europe.”

    • According to Platts, Explosion Hits Austria’s Baumgarten Gas Hub, Russian Flows Re-Routed:

      Italian gas price almost doubles to Eur45/MWh on blast

      Baumgarten is the key entry point for Russian gas into Austria and onward to Italy.

      According to Platts Analytics, there is currently zero available capacity for entry into Baumgarten, or into Arnoldstein on the border between Austria and Italy, due to the unavailability of the compressor units at Baumgarten.

      Some 108 million cu m of Russian gas was nominated for delivery to Italy via Austria on Tuesday, while German deliveries via the route were nominated at 8 million cu m, Platts Analytics data show.

      • xabier says:

        Even this probably won’t make people wake up to the realisation of just how tenuous their comfort is, and the nature of the technological system they depend on.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘Italian gas price almost doubles to Eur45/MWh on blast’

          Fragile….

          • If natural gas stays high in Italy, and oil is high as well (because of the Forties pipeline outage), I expect the Italian economy will be doing less well. Italy’s oil and gas consumption will drop, and the economy will act like it is in recession. Probably more debt defaults.

        • Also, from Financial Times,

          UK natural gas price hovers near 4-year peak

          UK natural gas prices stayed near their highest level in four years on Wednesday, reflecting supply disruptions in the North Sea, but the reopening of a key European hub for Russian imports helped ease concerns over shortages. The cost of gas for the UK’s energy needs eased 5 pence to 68p a therm, though it remains up 17 per cent since the beginning of the month. The price for delivery in January dipped nearly 5p to 60.85p. Fears of a supply crunch have risen during the cold snap gripping the country, sparked by the shutdown of a key North Sea oil and gas pipeline that is expected to cut as much as 40 per cent of daily supply into the new year.

          A surge in gas prices on Tuesday also reflected an explosion at the Baumgarten gas import hub in Austria, the main conduit for Russian supplies into Europe. The operator Gas Connect Austria said on Wednesday that the main arteries supplying neighbouring countries had come back online late on Tuesday. Same-day UK gas prices rose almost 50 per cent to a high of 99p a therm on Tuesday, the highest level since 2013. The shutdown of the Forties Pipeline System caused the closure of the British North Sea Elgin-Franklin and Britannia gasfields.

          On Wednesday, the UK’s gas system was undersupplied by 27.8m cubic metres as demand fell short of flows, National Grid data showed, but the UK government stressed that the country had adequate import capacity. The pipeline outage has also reduced supplies of North Sea crude oil by 450,000 b/d, boosting oil prices to the highest in more than two years. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark underpinned by supplies from the North Sea, jumped to almost $66 a barrel on Tuesday. Prices have since eased to $63.76 a barrel.

    • Buford T. Bustamonte says:

      If people think certain people can make that much money while others struggle, then it’s just not going to work. Society will cave in before peak oil causes it.

    • xabier says:

      University fundraising is the other great ‘educational’ scam: about £100k per annum here in Britain for a Director at a top institution.

  6. grayfox says:

    On the vote in Alabama and what it means:
    “What America has become is rich people screwing poor people.”
    Ha ha. Leave it to Charles Barkley to tell it like it is.

    • JesseJames says:

      Isn’t Charles Barkley one of the “rich” people now?

      • Buford T. Bustamonte says:

        My wife and I have some rich friends that are progressive and don’t like the R’s always pushing policy to assist the wealthy, so good for C.B. even though he himself is rich.

  7. Dennis L. says:

    Inflation again, we all are certain deflation is coming, but where is it?
    From Zerohedge:
    “Over two-thirds of the November increase in the index for final demand goods is attributable to prices for gasoline, which jumped 15.8 percent. The indexes for light motor trucks, pharmaceutical preparations, beef and veal, residential electric power, and jet fuel also moved higher. In contrast, prices for processed young chickens fell 5.7 percent. The indexes for ethanol and commercial electric power also declined.

    About half of the November rise in the index for final demand services can be traced to prices for loan services (partial), which increased 3.1 percent. The indexes for traveler accommodation services; health, beauty, and optical goods retailing; food and alcohol retailing; chemicals and allied products wholesaling; and apparel, footwear, and accessories retailing also moved higher. In contrast, margins for machinery and equipment wholesaling declined 1.9 percent. The indexes for fuels and lubricants retailing and for bundled wired telecommunication access services also fell.”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-12/us-producer-prices-rise-fastest-pace-6-years-payday-loan-demand-soars

    I have a business trip to Chicago coming up, Renaissance is about $300/night without taxes, etc.,seems this is up from approximately $200/night ten years ago, or $10/year increase which is approx 4-5% linear increase, again somewhat consistent. I do buy chicken so that is all good news. Toothpaste sure seems expensive.

    Dennis L.

    • Oil prices are indeed higher right now, and pulling other things with them. Coal prices have been up somewhat this year, after falling in 2015 and 2016. But relative to 2011 to 2014, prices are still down.

      I agree about hotel room rates being outrageous, especially in big cities.

    • zenny says:

      Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, Chicago Is only about 150 a night You may be getting hosed Try a search for dates

  8. The Second Coming says:

    “If that’s not an apocalypse then I don’t know what is,” says Davidowitz
    As one big store closes, it can take several smaller stores along with it like a house of cards. Experts predict that a quarter of American malls will close in five years — around 300 out of 1,100 that currently exist.

    “When anchor stores close, it causes big problems for mall owners and other retailers in the mall,” says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-based retail consulting and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates. “And I’d say this problem is only in its second inning
    Howie…you ain’t seen nothing yet!
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/12/news/companies/mall-closing/index.html

    • Buford T. Bustamonte says:

      Malls are quickly becoming an outmoded retail strategy now the internet can easily outcompete with much lower prices and far greater selection. People don’t have to get dressed up, drive somewhere, find a parking space, fight crowds, risk terrorist acts and be tempted to eat junk food. Just slide around a mouse and find what you want, left click, fill in a few fields and wait for it to be delivered. People usually choose what’s more convenient. Sell your mall stocks. I even think downtown retail will lose out to the internet. Some day it may be as difficult to find a retail outlet as it’s becoming to find a phone booth.

      • xabier says:

        There’s another factor: in Britain at least, the big high street/mall sales are mostly phoney, not much more than the signs to lure you in, and some junk they bought cheaply for the occasion anyway.

        Whereas online, top-end retailers give excellent discounts on their regular stock – and if you wait until the very end, it gets very good indeed. I’ve never seen that in a store.

        The best retailers are now offering a superb delivery service, too: van tracking to the minute, more or less.

        Of course, this is partly an indication of how badly the British economy is doing and a certain desperation in the air.

      • Baby Doomer says:

        Online retail has been around for over 20 years and it only makes up 10 percent of retail all sales…I was watching CNN on black Friday and they had a reporter inside a Target store and it was dead. And they said “Studies say people are just shopping online” without naming the studies though. Then they said it was because people were staying at home and watching Netlfix…

        • There are certain kinds of retail that pretty much have to be local. Buying gasoline, for example. And buying cars is mostly local. Buying food is mostly local. Buying haircuts is local. When you look at specific categories like books, toys, and clothes, the percentage that is online is a whole lot higher. Even things like book cases can be bought online. Just have the store deliver them to your home, rather than struggle with getting them home yourself from the store. I know we ordered bookcases online from Walmart.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          That is true — however if you strip away 10% of a retailer’s business… that is going to have an enormous effect on their ability to survive….

          They would be carrying debt that is predicated on expansion —- in fact they take on debt specifically to open new stores and improve on existing stores…. if they shrink then how do they pay that debt back?

          Also if they have to cut prices and reduce profit margins to try to stem the flow of customers to online competitors —- that only compounds this problem.

          Investors shun shrinking companies….

      • Jesse James says:

        “I even think downtown retail will lose out to the internet. Some day it may be as difficult to find a retail outlet as it’s becoming to find a retail outlet.”
        Until fuel and shipping is so costly it drives the expense up. I find online shipping expense to be significant now.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I was looking at spear fishing guns yesterday — price online was roughly the same for most — often a little more – than buying from a shop….

          I prefer to go to the shop to have a look and get some advice vs buying online….

    • Baby Doomer says:

      Typical CNN establishment spin trying to explain it ALL away with Amazon & fashion changes. Propagandist scum. They are part of the secular priesthood along with economists, pseudo experts & much of academia. They fulfill the same function as yesteryears priest class did – legitimizers of the corrupt toxic system and those at the top of it.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        That said…. humans are stuuuppppid moreons… ‘Goyim’ >>>> cattle. Someone got that right!

        And what do you do with cattle?

        You farm them — you exploit them. And a calm well fed cow provides tastier milk … and meat….

        We get exactly what we deserve. Because we are so very stuuupppid….

        We are so sttuupppid that I can post admissions of this situation from the mouth’s of those who farm us… I can post evidence of the methods used to farm us…. and there will still be those who emphatically state that I am a crack pot…. a nut job…. we are not farmed! We are free!!! Then they wander off to pasture to be fed…..

        What absolute disdain our farmers must have for us — they must sit about laughing at our stuuupiddity … they must crack up when we speak of freedom and democracy …. then they send us off (willingly) to the slaughter house to fight and die to ensure that their farm is not threatened.

        • Baby Doomer says:

          Every major monthly US government economic report – employment, GDP, inflation – is little more than a fraudulent propaganda tool used to distort reality for the dual purpose of supporting the political and monetary system – both of which are collapsing – and attempting to convince the public that the economy is in good shape.

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    So, basically, we are not making it. We are consciously choosing to go down the Seneca Cliff, even though we wouldn’t need to. It is maddening to think that we are failing at the challenge not because the transition is technologically unfeasible or unaffordable, but because the transition is politically inconceivable. Increasing investments in renewable energy requires sacrifices and this is a no-no in our world.

    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.nz/2017/12/the-energy-transition-too-little-too.html

    So we are choosing not to invest and transition to renewable energy — this Bardi guy is deeply deeply out to lunch.

    I am taking him off my Christmas card list.

    • The return on investment for this so-called renewable energy is too little, I am afraid. I don’t think Ugo realizes this. Now if it were $20 per barrel oil, it would be a different story.

    • Artleads says:

      Who would have thought that people are impossible to deal with? The prevailing notion is that there isn’t any particular problem with us. “Hell is other people,” said Mr. Sartre. Quite so.

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        at times, it’s that, and at other times, it’s this:

        “Heaven is other people,” said someone else.

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