Will the World Economy Continue to “Roll Along” in 2018?

Once upon a time, we worried about oil and other energy. Now, a song from 1930 seems to be appropriate:

Today, we have a surplus of oil, which we are trying to use up. That never happened before, or did it? Well, actually, it did, back around 1930. As most of us remember, that was not a pleasant time. It was during the Great Depression.

Figure 1. US ending stocks of crude oil, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Amounts will include crude oil in pipelines and in “tank farms,” awaiting processing. Businesses normally do not hold more crude oil than they need in the immediate future, because holding this excess inventory has a cost involved. Figure produced by EIA. Amounts through early 2016.

A surplus of a major energy commodity is a sign of economic illness; the economy is not balancing itself correctly. Energy supplies are available for use, but the economy is not adequately utilizing them. It is a sign that something is seriously wrong in the economy–perhaps too much income disparity.

Figure 2. U. S. Income Shares of Top 1% and Top 0.1%, Wikipedia exhibit by Piketty and Saez.

If incomes are relatively equal, it is possible for even the poorest citizens of the economy to be able to buy necessary goods and services. Things like food, homes, and transportation become affordable by all. It is easy for “Demand” and “Supply” to balance out, because a very large share of the population has incomes that are adequate to buy the goods and services created by the economy.

It is when we have too much income and wage disparity that we have gluts of oil and food supplies. Food gluts happened in the 1930s and are happening again now. We lose sight of the extent to which the economy can actually absorb rising quantities of commodities of many types, if they are inexpensive, compared to wages. The word “Demand” might better be replaced by the term “Quantity Affordable.” Top wage earners can always afford goods and services for their families; the question is whether earners lower in the wage hierarchy can. In today’s world, some of these low-wage earners are in India and Africa, or have no employment at all.

What is Going Right, As We Enter 2018?

[1] The stock market keeps rising.

The stock market keeps rising, month after month. Volatility is very low. In fact, the growth in the stock market looks rigged. A recent Seeking Alpha article notes that in 2017, the S&P 500 showed positive returns for all 12 months of the year, something that has never happened before in the last 90 years.

Very long runs of rising stock prices are not necessarily a good sign. According to the same article, the S&P 500 rose in 22 of 23 months between April 1935 and February 1937, in response to government spending aimed at jumpstarting the economy. By late 1937, the economy was again back in recession. The market experienced a severe correction that it would not fully recover from until after World War II.

The year 2006 was another notable year for stock market rise, with increases in 11 out of 12 months. According to the article,

Equity markets rallied amidst a volatility void in the lead-up to the Great Recession. Markets would make new all-time highs in late 2007 before collapsing in 2008, marking the worst annual returns (-37%) since the aforementioned infamous 1937 correction.

So while the stock market consistently rising looks like a good sign, it is not necessarily a good sign for market performance 6 to 24 months later. It could simply represent a bubble forming, which will later pop.

[2] Oil and other commodity prices are recently somewhat higher.

Recently, oil prices have been too low for most producers. Now, things are looking up. While prices still aren’t at an adequate level, they are somewhat higher. This gives producers (and lenders) hope that prices will eventually rise sufficiently that oil companies can make an adequate profit, and governments of oil exporters can collect adequate taxes to keep their economies operating.

Figure 3. Monthly average spot Brent oil prices, through December 2017, based on EIA data.

A major reason for the recent upward trend in commodity prices seems to be a shift in currency relativities for Emerging Markets.

Figure 4. Figure from Financial Times showing currency relativities based on the MSCI Emerging Market currency index.

While the currency relativities for emerging markets had fallen quite low when commodity prices first dropped, they have now made up most of their lost ground. This makes commodities more affordable in Emerging Market countries, and allows them to do more manufacturing, thus stimulating the world economy.

Of course, if China runs into debt problems, or if India runs into problems of some sort, or if oil prices rise further than they have to date, the run-up in currency relativities might run right back down again.

[3] US tax cuts create a bubble of wealth for corporations and the 1%.

With low commodity prices, returns have been far too low for many corporations involved with commodity production. “Fixing” the tax law will help these corporations continue to operate, even if commodity prices remain low, because taxes will be lower. These lower tax rates are important in helping commodity producers to avoid collapsing as a result of low commodity prices.

The problem that occurs is that the change in tax law opens up all kinds of opportunities for companies to improve their tax situation, either by changing the form of the corporation, or by merging with another company with a suitable tax situation, allowing the combined taxes to be minimized. See this recent Michael Hudson video for a discussion of some of the issues involved. This link is to a related Hudson video.

Groups evaluating the expected impact of the proposed tax law did their evaluations as if corporate structure would remain unchanged. We know that tax accountants will help companies quickly make changes to maximize the benefit of the new tax law. This is likely to mean that US governmental debt will need to rise much more than most forecasts have predicted.

In a way, this is a “good” impact, because more debt helps keep commodity prices and production to rise, and thus helps keep the economy from collapsing. But it does raise the question of how long, and by how much, governmental debt can rise. Will the addition of all of this new debt raise interest rates even above other planned interest rate increases?

[4] We have been experiencing artificially low oil prices since 2013. This helps the economic growth to be higher than it otherwise would be. 

In February 2014, I published an article documenting that back in 2013, oil prices were too low for oil producers. If a person looks at Figure 3, oil prices were over $100 per barrel that year. Clearly, oil prices have been much too low for producers since that time.

Unfortunately, it looks like these artificially low oil prices may be coming to an end, simply because the “glut” of oil that developed is gradually being reduced. Figure 5 shows the timing of the recent glut of oil. It seems to have started early in 2014.

Figure 5. US Stocks of crude oil and petroleum products (including Strategic Petroleum Reserve), based on EIA data.

If we look at the combination of oil prices and amount of oil in storage, a person can make a rough estimate of how this glut of oil might disappear. Quite a bit of it may be gone by the end of 2018 (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Figure showing US oil stocks (crude plus oil products) together with the corresponding oil prices. Rough guess of how balance might disappear and future prices by author.

Of course, one of the big issues is that consumers cannot really afford high-priced oil products. If consumers could not afford $100+ prices back in 2013, how would it be possible for oil prices to rise to something like $97 per barrel by the end of 2018?

I am not certain that oil prices can really rise this high, or that they can stay at this level very long. Certainly, we cannot expect oil prices to rise to the level they did in July 2008, without recession causing oil prices to crash back down.

What the Economy Needs Is Rising Energy Per Capita

I have published energy per capita graphs in the past. Flat spots tend to represent problem periods.

Figure 7. World per Capita Energy Consumption with two circles relating to flat consumption. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects (Appendix) together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent, divided by population estimates by Angus Maddison.

The 1920-1940 flat period came shortly after the United Kingdom reached Peak Coal in 1913.

Figure 8. United Kingdom coal production since 1855, in figure by David Strahan. First published in New Scientist, 17 January 2008.

In fact, the UK invaded Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1914, to protect its oil interests. The UK wasn’t stupid; it knew that if it didn’t have sufficient coal, it would need oil, instead.

There were many other disturbing events during this period, including World War I, the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and World War II. If there are not enough energy resources to go around, many things tend to go wrong: countries tend to fight for available resources; jobs that pay well become less available; deflation becomes more likely; population becomes weakened, and epidemics become more likely. I wrote about the 1920 to 1940 period in a recent post, The Depression of the 1930s Was an Energy Crisis.

The 1980-2000 flat period included the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991. The Soviet Union was an oil producer. The Soviet Union collapsed after prices had been low for a long time.

Figure 9. Former Soviet Union oil consumption, production, and inflation-adjusted price, all from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2015.

Even many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, population growth in former Soviet Union countries and its affiliates was much lower than in the rest of the world.

Figure 10. World population growth rates between 2005 and 2010. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_growth_rate

Lower population (through falling birth rates, rising death rates, or rising emigration) are a major way that economies self-adjust because of falling energy per capita. Economies tend to fix the low-energy per capita problem by adjusting the population downward.

Recently, we have again been hitting flat periods in energy consumption per capita.

Figure 11. World per capita consumption of oil and of total energy, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data and UN 2017 population data.

The slowdown in world energy consumption per capita in 2008-2009 was clearly a major problem. Oil, coal and natural gas consumption fell simultaneously. Oil consumption per capita fell more than the overall mix, especially affecting countries heavily dependent on oil (Greece with its tourism, but also the US, Japan, and Europe).

The recent shift in political strategy to more isolationist stances also seems to be the result of flat energy consumption per capita. It is doubtful that Donald Trump would have been elected in the US, if world energy consumption per capita had been growing robustly, and if wage disparity had been less of a problem.

The primary cause of the 2013 to 2016 flat trend in world energy consumption per capita (Figure 11) is falling coal consumption (Figure 12). Many people think coal is unimportant, but it is the world’s second largest source of energy, after oil. We don’t have a good way of getting natural gas production to rise enough, to make up for loss of coal production.

Figure 12

Wind and solar simply do not work for solving our problem of flat or shrinking energy consumption per capita. After spending trillions of dollars on them, they make up only a tiny (1%) share of world energy supply, according to the International Energy Agency. They are part of the little gray “Other” sliver on Figure 13.

Figure 13. Figure prepared by IEA showing Total Primary Energy Supply by type from this IEA document.

Something Has to “Give” When There Is Not Enough Energy Consumption per Capita

The predicament we are facing is that energy consumption per capita seems to be reaching a maximum. This happens because of affordability issues. Over time, the price of energy products needs to rise to keep up with the rising cost of creating these energy products. But if energy prices do rise, workers earning low wages cannot afford to buy goods and services made with high-priced energy products, plus honor all of their other commitments (such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans). This leads to debt defaults, as it did in the 2008-2009 recession.

At some point, the affordability problem can be expected to hold down energy consumption. This could happen in many ways. Spiking prices and affordability issues could lead to a worse rerun of the 2008-2009 recession. Or if oil prices stay fairly low, oil-exporting countries (such as Venezuela) may collapse because of low prices. Even if oil prices do rise, we may find that higher prices do not lead to sufficient additional supply because investment in new oil fields has been low for many years, because of past low prices.

As long as the world economy is expanding (Figure 14), individual citizens can expect to benefit. Jobs that pay well are likely to be available, and citizens can afford to buy goods with their growing wages. People who sell shares of stock and people who get pension benefits can all receive part of this growing economic output.

Figure 14. Author’s image of an expanding economy.

Once the economy starts to shrink (Figure 15), we start having problems with dividing up the goods and services that are available. How much should retirees get? Governments? Today’s workers? Holders of shares of stocks and bonds? Not all commitments can be honored, simultaneously.

Figure 15. Author’s image of declining economy.

 

One obvious problem in a shrinking economy is that loans become harder to repay. The problem is that there is less left over for other goods and services, after debt plus interest is subtracted, in a shrinking economy.

Figure 16. Figure by author.

Changing interest rates can to some extent help offset problems related to higher energy prices and shrinking supply. The danger is that interest rates can move in the wrong direction and make our problems worse. In the lead-up to the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the US raised short-term interest rates, helping to puncture the sub-prime mortgage debt bubble.

Figure 17. Figure comparing Case-Shiller Seasonally Adjusted Home Price Index and Federal Reserve End of Quarter Target Interest Rates. See Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis for details.

We now hear a lot of talk about raising interest rates and selling QE securities (which would also tend to raise interest rates). If growth in energy consumption per capita is already flat, these changes could make the problems that the economy is facing even worse.

Our Economy Works Like a Bicycle

Have you ever wondered why a two-wheeled bicycle is able to stay upright? Research shows that a bicycle will stay upright, as long as its speed is greater than 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) per second. This is the result of the physics of the situation. A related academic article states, “This stability typically can occur at forward speeds v near to the square root of (gL), where g is gravity and L is a characteristic length (about 1 m for a modern bicycle).”

Thus, a bicycle will be able to continue in an upright manner, as long as it goes fast enough. If it slows down too much, it will fall down. Our economy is similar.

Gravity plays an important role in determining the speed of a bicycle. If the bicycle is going downhill, gravity gives an important boost to the speed of the bicycle. If the bicycle is going uphill, gravity very much pulls back on the bicycle.

I think of the situation of an economy having rising energy consumption per capita as being very much like riding on a bicycle, speeding down a hill. The person operating the bicycle would not need to provide much extra energy to keep the bicycle going.

If energy consumption per capita is flat, the person riding the bicycle must provide the energy to make it go fast enough, so it doesn’t fall over. This is somewhat of a problem. If energy consumption per capita actually falls, it is a true disaster. The bicyclist himself must provide the energy necessary to push the bicycle and rider uphill.

In fact, there are other ways that a speeding bicycle is analogous to the world economy.

Figure 18. Author’s view of analogies of speeding upright bicycle to speeding economy.

The economy needs a constant flow of outside energy. In the case of the bicycle, the human rider can provide the energy flow. In the case of the economy, the energy flow comes from a mixture of various fuel types, typically dominated by fossil fuels.

Growing debt (front wheel) is important as well. It tends to pull the economy along, because this debt can be used to pay wages and to buy materials to make additional goods and services. Thus, the effect of this increase in debt is indirect; it ultimately works through the bicyclist, the gears, and the back wheel.

In fact, the financial system as a whole is important for the “steering” of the economy. It tells investors which investments are likely to be profitable.

The gearing system of the bicycle plays a modest role in the system. Changing gears allows greater efficiency in the use of the energy that is available, under certain circumstances. But energy efficiency, by itself, cannot operate the system.

If the human rider does not provide sufficient energy for the bicycle to go rapidly enough, the bicycle glides for a while, and then falls over. The world economy seems to be similar. If the world economy does not obtain enough energy per capita, economic growth tends to slow and eventually collapses. The collapse can relate to the whole world economy, or to parts of the economy.

The Problem of Parts of the Economy Not Getting Enough Energy

We can think of the economy as being made up of many bicycles, operated by bicycle riders. At the beginning of the post, I talked about the problem of wage disparity. This issue occurred at the time of the 1930’s Great Depression and is occurring again now.

We might call wage disparity “too low a return on the labor of some workers.” In groups of animals in ecosystems, too low a return on the effort of these animals is what causes ecosystems to collapse. For example, if fish have to swim too far to obtain additional food, their population will collapse. It should not be surprising that economies tend to collapse, when the return on the efforts of part of their workers falls too low.

Wage disparity has to do with how well the operators of bicycles are doing. Are the operators of these bicycles receiving enough calories, so that they can keep pumping their bicycles fast enough so that the speed is high enough to remain upright?

If energy consumption per capita is growing, this greatly helps the operation of the economic system. If there is growing availability of inexpensive energy, machines of various types, including trucks, can be used to increasingly leverage the labor of workers. This increased leveraging helps each worker to become more “productive.” This growing productivity, thanks to growing energy consumption, allows more goods and services to be produced in total. It also allows the wages of the workers to stay high enough that they can afford to buy a reasonable share of the output of the economy. When this happens, “gluts” of unaffordable goods are less of a problem.

If energy consumption per capita is flat (or worse yet, falling), greater “complexity” is needed, to keep output of goods and services rising. Greater complexity involves more specialization and more training of individual members of the economy. Greater complexity leads to larger companies, more government services, and more wage disparity. Unfortunately, there are diminishing returns to complexity, according to Joseph Tainter in “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” Ultimately, increased complexity fails to provide an adequate number of high-paying jobs. Wage disparity becomes a problem that can cause an economy to collapse.

If there is not enough economic output, the physics of the economy tries to “freeze out” workers at the bottom of the hierarchy. Workers with low wages cannot afford homes and families. The incidence of depression rises. Debt levels of disadvantaged groups (such as young people in the US) may rise.

So the situation may not be that the whole world economy fails; it may be that parts of the economy collapse. In fact, we are already seeing evidence that this is taking place. For example, life expectancies for US men have been falling for two years, because of growing problems with drug overdoses.

Conclusions

In 2017, the world economy seemed to be gliding smoothly along because the economy has been able to get the benefit of artificially low energy prices and artificially low interest rates. These artificially low prices and interest rates have given a temporary boost to the world economy. Countries using large amounts of energy products, including the US, especially benefitted.

We cannot expect this temporary condition to continue, however. Low oil prices have already started to disappear, with Brent oil prices at nearly $69 per barrel at this writing. The trends in oil prices and oil stocks in Figure 6 are disturbing. If oil prices begin to rise toward the price needed by oil producers, they are likely to trigger a recession and a drop in world energy consumption, just as spiking prices did in 2008-2009. There is a significant chance of collapse in the next 12 to 24 months. It is hard to know how widespread such a collapse may be; it may primarily affect particular countries and population groups.

To make matters worse, our leaders do not seem to understand the situation. The world economy badly needs rising energy consumption per capita. Plans to raise interest rates and sell QE securities, when the economy is already “at the edge,” are playing with fire. If we are to keep the world economy operating, large quantities of additional energy supplies need to be found at very low cost. It is hard to be optimistic about this happening. High-cost energy supplies are worthless when it comes to operating the economy because they are unaffordable.

Many followers of the oil situation have had great faith in Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI) analysis telling us which kinds of energy supplies we should increase. Unfortunately, EROI doesn’t tell us enough. It doesn’t tell us if a particular product is scalable at reasonable cost. Wind and solar are great disappointments, when total costs, including the cost of mitigating intermittency on the grid, are considered. They do not appear to be solutions on any major scale.

Other researchers looking at the energy situation have not understood how “baked into the cake” the need for economic growth, rising per capita energy consumption, and rising debt levels really are. Rising debt is not an error in how the financial system is put together; a bicycle needs a front wheel, or it cannot operate at all (Figure 18). I have written other articles regarding why debt is needed to pull the economic system forward.

This economic growth cannot be “fake growth” either, where a debt Ponzi Scheme seems to allow purchases that real-life consumers cannot afford. Quite a bit of what is reported as world GDP today is of a very “iffy” nature. If China builds a huge number of apartments that citizens cannot afford without subsidies, should these be counted as true GDP growth? How about unneeded roads, built using the rising debt of the Japanese government? Or recycling performed around the world, because it makes people “feel good,” but really requires substantial subsidies?

At this point, it is hard for us to know where we really are, because every government wants to make GDP results look as favorable as possible. It is clear, however, that 2018 and 2019 can be expected to have more challenges than 2017. We have interesting times ahead!

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,647 Responses to Will the World Economy Continue to “Roll Along” in 2018?

  1. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    running low on electricity for Bitcoin etc:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/11/cryptocurrency-mining-puts-electrical-grid-of-small-washington-state-county-to-the-test.html

    hey, I have an idea:

    Burn More Coal…

    bwahahahaha.

  2. Baby Doomer says:

    Walmart is abruptly closing 63 Sam’s Club stores and laying off thousands of workers
    http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-suddenly-closes-sams-club-stores-2018-1

    Walmart Suddenly Shutters Numerous Sam’s Club Stores without Notice, Chaos Breaks out on Twitter
    https://wolfstreet.com/2018/01/11/walmart-suddenly-shutters-numerous-sams-club-stores-without-notice-chaos-breaks-out-on-twitter/

    Walmart came out and announced they would raise their wages and give some bonuses out. And Trump and media went nuts. While thy also close fifty Sams Club’s and lay off thousands. ..

  3. psile says:

    Written entirely without irony…

    The Raw Materials That Fuel the Green Revolution

    Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

    Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the U.K. broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

    The corporate front is also looking promising, and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

    But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg – and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need to 10x what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

    To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources – they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      you stopped just before the best part:

      “GREEN METALS REQUIRED
      A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy – and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths, and silver.

      These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store, and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors, and electric vehicles are simply not possible.”

      green metals! bwahahahaha!

      so load up those giant diesel powered mammoth trucks!

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    Oh wow – look at this psile!!!

    • Energy^2 says:

      Baby Doomer – Many think we are in oil surplus. However, if countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Venezuela, Ghaza, Cuba even Mexico and a score of others – allowed all the energy they need to prosperity, there will be no less than 20 million b/d shortage in the oil global market!

      Even Australia is in chronic shortage of fossil fuels, having its massive FF resources exclusively dedicated to exports (Industrial metal smelters are systematically shut down, Toyota, GM and Ford have all closed down their Oz factories).

      Thank to non-stop conflicts in oil-rich countries that made those people remain into the pre-industrial age, off of oil reality!

      The rest of the world should be thankful to Winston Churchill who figured out earlier than 1914 how to deal with oil-rich nations in the Middle East, and to the 1990’s orchestrated collapse of the Soviet Union’s artificial lab experiment, which has spared another 5 million b/d after the decommissioning of the Soviet industrial base.

      The Guardian writes (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/apr/19/iraq.arts):

      :
      “Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used “against recalcitrant Arabs [in Iraq, soon after the 1914 British invasion] as an [entertaining circus?] experiment”. He dismissed objections as “unreasonable”. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes _ [to] spread a lively terror _” In today’s terms, “the Arab” needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.

      Conventional raids, however, proved to be an effective deterrent. They brought Sheikh Mahmoud, the most persistent of Kurdish rebels, to heel, at little cost. Writing in 1921, Wing Commander J A Chamier suggested that the best way to demoralise local people was to concentrate bombing on the “most inaccessible village of the most prominent tribe which it is desired to punish. All available aircraft must be collected the attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle.”

      Then, back in 1920, Iraq had the population of just 2 million people!

      What oil surplus talked about? It is just a POMC (Peak Oil Musical Chairs) reality!

      • Fast Eddy says:

        “Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used “against recalcitrant Arabs [in Iraq, soon after the 1914 British invasion] as an [entertaining circus?] experiment”. He dismissed objections as “unreasonable”. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes _ [to] spread a lively terror _” In today’s terms, “the Arab” needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.

        Excellent… even more entertaining than Trump. Bring Back Winston!

        BTW – by any standard… Churchill is a war criminal… and deserves a position next to Hitler.

        Bengal famine

        In 1943, India, then still a British possession, experienced a disastrous famine in the north-eastern region of Bengal – sparked by the Japanese occupation of Burma the year before.

        At least three million people are believed to have died – and Churchill’s actions, or lack thereof, have been the subject of criticism.

        http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29701767

        • DJ says:

          I can’t understand how the british empire can have such a good reputation. Also irish famine and that little slave thing.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Britain reminds me of a women who was once a ravishing beauty …. who has grown old, gnarly… and miserable …. because nobody pays her any attention….

            Amazing how so many Brits take such great pride in their empire….. it would be like Germans claiming that Hitler was great….

      • “If other countries of the world had all they needed, we would have a huge deficit of oil.” That is a very good point! I agree. This is why surpluses of oil point to affordability problems. In fact, the countries using oil have tended to keep the others from using it. It is very important to civilization. This is a map of oil consumption per capita that I found.

        https://www.indexmundi.com/map/?v=91000

        • Pintada says:

          Look at Russia. The data says 15 bbl/1000people, while the map indicates that Russia uses about the same as the US. Cant say what is going on.

        • MG says:

          All is based on energy exchange: coal for oil, nuclear for natural gas, human energy for coal etc. The reason for poverty of some countries is that some of the countries have very little energy for exchange, like Venezuela now, so they are imploding.

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    GGGG WWWW Grooopies really need to watch this short interview…..

    ‘Why are your predictions totally wrong?’

    Gore: ‘We’ve seen a lot of progress in renewable resources and that is why I got it wrong’ (obviously implying that solar and wind power have mitigated the impact of GGG WWWWW)

    ‘We need more renewable energy’

    Sorry Al… but NO – there has been NO progress.. we are burning MORE coal than ever:

    And NO – solar and wind are not helpful at all.

    Come on people – WAKE THE F789 up!!!! — he is pumping ‘renewable’ energy as The Solution to our Woes.

    We all know that ‘renewable’ energy is not a solution. We all know that ‘renewable’ energy is NOT what caused him to be totally wrong.

    Are you people really that STTTTUUUUPID????

    You are being played. You are being taken for a ride.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      And then we have this:

      An Inconvenient Truth 2 – A film about the world getting better

      An Inconvenient Truth 2 – A film about the world getting better, is a humorous and hopeful discovery of Sweden’s’ eco solutions. Ranging from 100% renewable energy housing developments to cars running on ethanol and biogas, the film is a feel good moment for environmentalists.

      The world is getting better…. there there now ….no need to panic….. we have EVs… and solar and wind power everywhere now …. and ICE vehicles will all be gone very soon…. just a few more years to a green perpetual utopia ….

      Hello???? Hello????? Is anyone home??????

      This is a HO AX…… Do I need to embed the truth in a large calibre bullet and fire it through your foreheads to get through to you??????

      Holy F789…. I can’t believe people cannot see this … refuse to see this….

      Well… enjoy the film F789 tards. Have some popcorn with your kool-aid… it’s hopium flavoured

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      who’s Al Gore?

    • Pintada says:

      Just because Al and Bill Mckibbin and others lie about how we can solve AGW – we can’t. Doesn’t mean that it does not exist. And just because we live in a society that is currently facing several unsolvable predicaments does not mean that those facts should be ignored.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Like I said — if Al Gore came clean and admitted ___ ___ was a ho.ax to distract from peak oil —- the ___ ___ would nail him to a cross.

        Yep – the guy who put ___ ___ on the map is lying about it (basically admitting it is fake) — says the ___ ___ grooopie.

        But that doesn’t matter.

        Do you expect me to take you seriously ever again — after what has to be the most inane comment ever to grace the FW site.

  6. psile says:

    DJ says:
    January 11, 2018 at 11:39 am
    As I wrote the defence was discarded about 15-20 years ago. Before that there were probably about 1M vs 2M.

    Do you remember when Soviet won the afghan war?

    Hello, Sweden had an army of 1 million 20 years ago. Out of a population of 9 million. Ha, ha, ha. Great joke. 😉

    No, Soviets lost that one. America’s not doing too well there, either. But hey, the Russians won in Syria. 🙂

  7. Fast Eddy says:

    What is an effective way to break down a person’s cognitive dissonance in order to make them open to new ideas?

    Reactance is a tendency to react defensively to a perceived threat to individual beliefs and preferences. Reactance happens between people quite frequently. Many times, when I perceive that someone has an agenda to disregard or change my beliefs, I shut down right away and have on some occasions become rude and unreasonable towards the person. Ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses who often lurk around my bus stop.

    So, if someone detects that you want to make them open up to new ideas, interpersonal reactance on their part may be a problem.

    Intrapersonal (inner) reactance happens, too. This is much the same as interpersonal reactance, except the entire process happens on different levels of an individual rather than between different people. Theoretically, inner reactance could be one of the causes of cognitive dissonance.

    If you at one point decided that you enjoyed partying hard, eventually you may reach a point in which you wish to cut back. But you originally decided to party for a variety of reasons. Partying met some kind of need, whether it be social or anesthetic or whatever else. It was your decision. If someone else questioned your decision to party hard, you may have responded by closing off to them and justifying your behavior (reactance). And if you question your own decision and want to alter your behavior, parts of you may yet still respond by closing off to yourself and justifying your behavior (inner reactance).

    The closing off of, in both instances, makes receptivity to new ideas unlikely.

    So what’s the answer?

    As Adb Ul-Rahman Lomax points out, compassion is a magnificent place to start. Compassion, understanding, and a willingness to identify merit in the other person’s point of view. And not only to identify, but also to express that you see the merit. A little acknowledgement goes a long way.

    It’s a poetic irony that in order to be receptive to change, it is often necessary to accept that which is desired to change.

    It is fruitless to declare war on ourselves and others, because what is struck will generally strike back. If we lunge at the beliefs of others, their beliefs will usually hide within impenetrable fortresses. If we accept the beliefs of others and show interest and compassion, being able to differentiate our own ideas from theirs, then conversation is possible.

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-an-effective-way-to-break-down-a-persons-cognitive-dissonance-in-order-to-make-them-open-to-new-ideas

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Compassion? COMPASSION????

      Ok I can do that.

      Poor GWWW Grooopies…. I really feel for you …. I shed tears when I see you mired so deep in your delusions and stewpidity…. unable to escape no matter how obviously wrong you are….

      I have trouble sleeping when I think of how you struggle with accepting facts and logic…. if I cutting my finger off would help you with this you know I would….

      I feel your pain when you are unable to recognize that you are being played… by Al G.ore and these other charlatans… it’s as if I too feel like I am ment ally r e tar ded too…. what a horrible feeling!!!

      I feel your stewpidity … your id ioc…y…. your gullibility…. your im be cility….

      Let’s have a moment shall we….. I know everyone is hurting inside … so let’s join hands and sing a song ….

  8. Sungr says:

    What does the MSM have to do with serious climate science? Please explain.

    FoxNews is the main bunch that is pushing the anti-climate science spew. Somehow they have penetrated the brains of the dumbest illiterates on the planet(go USA) and installed some insane concept that GW is just some cooked up political stunt by the DNC and CNN.

    Well, I would like to see some political operative contact and try to bribe a single scientist- much less an entire field of science. Just see what happens if you try offering a bribe to a group of natural scientists to create a new fake branch of science just to serve political ends.

    Of course, scientists are competitors- individually, institutionally, regionally, nationally. They progress by destroying each others scientific conclusions. So any climate science “conspiracy” from America would be rapidly targeted and destroyed by natural scientists from other nations or honest institutions.

    • The climate clearly is changing. We can all agree that that is the case.

      But there are a couple of widespread false assumptions:

      1. GW models are all based on the assumption that far more fossil fuels can be extracted than is actually the case. This is an assumption of all MSM articles, in general. Climate scientists have no expertise in this areas. Even the low range FF estimates of future warming are quite possibly too high.

      2. We humans, through our choice of fuels (fossil fuel, nuclear, etc.), can substantially change the GW trajectory.

      The big issue with fossil fuels is that there really aren’t enough of them, at low enough cost, to power society. We don’t really have good options for changing. Substituting high-cost fuels is worse than worthless. Wind and solar do not work on electric grids at scale because of their intermittency. Offsetting this greatly increases the true cost of these approaches. The false pricing of these fuels drives other electricity producers out of business. There is also issue with scalability.

      If there is a way that humans can slightly change our trajectory, I expect it comes from changing our food, not our supplemental energy. Meat and fish are higher on the food chain than plants. If we could cut back on our use of meat and fish, and eat a more vegetarian diet, it might be helpful. I wonder, too, if all of the meat-eating pets we keep for companionship are adding to the meat and fish demands of the world. This would cut back on the land area that needs to be farmed and the damage that we are doing to the oceans.

      If the narrative changed to a different story–we humans are placing too many demands on the world and its resources, and in doing so, we are using resource faster than we should. We need to change our trajectory by eating a more vegetarian diet, and keeping fewer meat-eating pets that aren’t really useful for helping in any way. I expect that mostly what would happen, though, is that this shift would simply allow human population to grow more quickly, and the result would be about the same.

      Anyhow, the narrative we are being told is not correct. It sounds like it should be correct, but there are a whole lot of wrong pieces to it.

      If there is any way of fixing (slightly postponing) the problem, it likely includes eating less meat. And perhaps adding more debt, to try to get fossil fuel prices higher. If the GW folks would change their narrative, from their absurd statements about fossil fuels, the situation would be less objectionable.

      • Artleads says:

        I believe that diet is down the line slightly on the chain of causative events. For me, land use is among the very top on the list. But then I also put a feminist revolution at the top. Then I woke up thinking that feminism and land use were similar (or integrated) issues.

        To simplify the subject for now I would say that we’re in a system run by patriarchy…and that patriarchy has co-evolved with civilization. We are all products of this system, which has of course produced many good things. But it’s produced too many people and used too many resources to be useful any longer. It’s also brought technology to such an advanced place that it compensates for the brawn that males traditionally supplied. (That means females are no longer as dependent on male upper body strength.) The budding feminist revolution we see around us has the makings of a corresponding land use revolution as well. The successful land use opposition movements in my area are led by women. Feminism is far less rapacious of natural resources than is patriarchy, although it’s too simple to say that feminism depends less on a meat diet than patriarchy. It “tends” to due to very complex and systemic correlates to feminism. And if women are given the education they want, and control over their reproductive choices, changes in living arrangements (and land use) might emerge from that and support massive population reduction (if and according to how it is needed)

        “If the narrative changed to a different story–we humans are placing too many demands on the world and its resources, and in doing so, we are using resource faster than we should. We need to change our trajectory by eating a more vegetarian diet, and keeping fewer meat-eating pets that aren’t really useful for helping in any way. I expect that mostly what would happen, though, is that this shift would simply allow human population to grow more quickly, and the result would be about the same.”

        • jupiviv says:

          “Feminism is far less rapacious of natural resources than is patriarchy,”

          The resource surpluses and automation provided by industrial societies allows feminism to exist. It is entirely dependent upon rapacious consumption.

      • DJ says:

        There is no alternative.

        Maybe fishing could mostly be prohibited through international agreements, but hardly meat, dairy, eggs.

        Best the future can hope for is a quick transition to wind and solar so we can shut down nuclear in an orderly fashion before/during collapse.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        The klimate is changing … now … and since the beginning of time… and it will keep changing right up until the earth turns into a big dead rock

        • Artleads says:

          You’r right about many things, but not this.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            This is one of the issues that I am 100% confident that I am right.

            Perhaps you could explain to me why Al Gore stated that Manhattan would be under water within the next 10 years…. then bought a $9,000,000 ocean front property?

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Let’s see how Mr Cognitive Dissonance takes over your peanut-sized brain …. and provides you some ridiculous excuse

            • Artleads says:

              “Let’s see how Mr Cognitive Dissonance takes over your peanut-sized brain …. and provides you some ridiculous excuse”

              YOU’RE OUT OF LINE, BRO. Make sure you take your meds.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              How about you answer the question first — then we can see if Fast Eddy is out of line….

            • doomphd says:

              maybe Al thinks sealevel will be lower where he lives. variable geoidal height due to microgravity variations in the crust and upper mantle, and plus spatial changes in ocean salinity…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Miami Beach/Elevation
              1.2 m

            • doomphd says:

              perhaps he’s planning on moving into the higher floors and pretending he’s living the good life in Venice, Italy.
              sadly, Tipper left him, saying he was a louzy kisser, among other things.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I just searched this:

              al gore invests in gondola company

              No results 😦

            • Fast Eddy says:

              It feels so good to beat the DelusiSTANIS to a pulp like this …. then kick them when they are unconscious….

              I have decided to reward myself with

      • Pintada says:

        Dear Ms Tverberg;

        You state, “1. GW models are all based on the assumption that far more fossil fuels can be extracted than is actually the case. This is an assumption of all MSM articles, in general. Climate scientists have no expertise in this areas. Even the low range FF estimates of future warming are quite possibly too high.”

        This part: “GW models are all based on the assumption that far more fossil fuels can be extracted than is actually the case. This is an assumption of all MSM articles, in general. Climate scientists have no expertise in this areas. ”

        Is absolutely, perfectly true. Climate scientists do not understand, and likely have no interest in peak affordable oil. They project FF extraction and burning through the end of the century as if that makes sense while it certainly does not.

        This part: “Even the low range FF estimates of future warming are quite possibly too high.”

        Is not correct, for several reasons:
        1. You are well aware of the fact that publishers demand a positive last chapter at the end of a book, or a positive last paragraph at the end of an article. That bias and demand forces every climate scientist that wants to keep working to put a positive spin on their findings.

        2. The reports from the IPCC are reviewed – and edited – by bureaucratic functionaries from the US, and Saudi Arabia. Those people change the text of those documents to minimize the effects of AGW.

        3. The effect of the CO2 being emitted today will accumulate for 40 years. We are seeing the effect of the CO2 that was emitted 40 years ago.

        4. The fact that China is burning coal like it’s going out of style – ahem – means that tons and tons of SO2 and particulates are being pumped into the air daily. That sulfur and dirt (which is airborne and spreads worldwide) reflects sunlight. If China stopped burning coal tomorrow, the temp of the planet would jump as much as 1.5C in just a few weeks. So, 0.8C is the current warming + 1.5C is per my math 2.3C that is baked in.

        5. I have talked about the methane hydrates before. Assuming the Tverbergian collapse happens soon, that 2.3C temperature rise will not just go away. The oceans are slow to respond to warming, and when they reach the triple point of methane hydrate stability. It will melt. Not may melt, WILL melt. 2.3C gets you 4C, and 4C gets you 12C. At some point between 4C and 12C life on the surface of the Earth will become impossible for mammals of any size.

        • Maybe so. I am not convinced. If you are trying to prove that a new problem (GM) is the real problem, you don’t go out of your way to be conservative. We likely won’t be around in 40 years to find out.

        • Tim Groves says:

          It will melt. Not may melt, WILL melt. 2.3C gets you 4C, and 4C gets you 12C. At some point between 4C and 12C life on the surface of the Earth will become impossible for mammals of any size.

          Pintada, did you work all this out for yourself, or have you been relying on the findings of some higher authority such as God or Guy McPherson?

          Just askin’, as your claim seems extraordinary enough to require extraordinary evidence.

          Incidentally, the warmest era on Earth over the past 200 million years was probably the early Eocene about 55 to 50 million years ago. Estimates of the probable global temperature during that period are that it was 12 to 14 degrees C higher than during the present era, and according to the fossil record, mammals of many sizes flourished then. You do accept the validity of fossils being that old, I take it?

          Don’t these inconvenient facts put a dent in your faith that mammalian life will become impossible under such conditions?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Tim … you need to keep in mind when reading Pintada’s comments… that I have thrashed him to the edge of life twice now — once over the spent fuel ponds and now over ____ _____.

            He is in very poor shape … resembling Hawking …. without the math skills….

            So don’t expect much in the way of logic — there was not much to begin with

            Poor Pintada… boo hoo…. 🙂

    • Fast Eddy says:

      An Inconvenient Truth 2 – A film about the world getting better, is a humorous and hopeful discovery of Sweden’s’ eco solutions. Ranging from 100% renewable energy housing developments to cars running on ethanol and biogas, the film is a feel good moment for environmentalists.

    • Pintada says:

      Useful post Sungr.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I am sitting here … asking myself…. now why would Al Gore buy a $9M house…. virtually at sea level….

        When he claims that ___ ___ is going to cause a dramatic rise of the ocean within 10 years.

        Who can help me to understand what he was thinking?

  9. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:
    • Baby Doomer says:

      Don’t worry the Republicans are going to make us all rich just like they have with their southern strongholds!

      • Credit scores are heavily used in auto and homeowners insurance rates as well. Those with low credit scores tend to get higher insurance rates, partly because there is more of a tendency for fraud among those who really cannot afford the insurance. There are likely other issues involved: more drug use and more carelessness among people who consider their current plight hopeless.

        Southern Republican strongholds are areas that clearly need an average wage boost. The low wages in these areas seem to indicate that the value being added by workers in these areas is not very high. The value added can be high if a lot of energy leveraging is used–lots of machines, trucks, etc. Also, concentrations of jobs for managers and highly educated people tends to raise wages. These jobs for managers and highly educated people are largely the result of greater complexity. The complexity jobs seem to be concentrated in the Northeast and along the West Coast.

        Originally, the jobs using energy leveraging were added in the Midwest especially (farms, and industries in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and parts of the East). As oil costs rose, its benefit for leveraging became less. We became less competitive with countries that used coal more heavily in their mix. New jobs were added in the South, but at much lower wages, to better compete with overseas wages (and to reflect the fact that high oil costs reduce what we can pay as wages–reduce the benefit of oil leveraging). Population drained out of rural areas to cities, where jobs at higher wages were available. The South ended up with low wages. High divorce rates went along with low wages. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/04/us-divorce-rate_n_4184261.html

        How Trump’s policies will affect the situation remains to be seen. It will add a whole lot of debt, and some of this debt will lead to greater wages. It is clear, though, that the South (really Southeast) tends to be “worst off.”

    • JH Wyoming says:

      Part 1 was the recent tax cuts are for the Rich. Part two is when entitlements get reduced dramatically and the deficits are reduced in size. It’s a balancing act on the shoulders of those with little or no power.

      • I question how much entitlements will get reduced; instead, the deficit will rise higher and higher, in an attempt to raise oil (and other fuel) prices to try and get more out. The biggest cuts may be in health care. It is hard to reduce Social Security by much.

        • dje says:

          At some point they’ll have to resort to helicopter money / universal income, I think, to attempt to counter debt deflation and push up commodity / energy prices. And it can be disguised as progressive social justice or something to boot.

          • DJ says:

            From my very limited view of the world the poor have no debt. The system only needs them to have an income above riot level.

            It is the “middle class” that is drowning in debt. They have decent income and no problem finding work. They need low/negative interest more than UBI. Low interest also has the advantage of keeping them from retirement.

    • Our whole path has been unsustainable. So what is new? More debt is what may enable hanging on a bit longer.

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