Nine Reasons Why Globalization Can’t Be Permanent

Since the late 1990s, globalization has seemed to be the great hope for the future. Now this great hope seems to be dimming. Globalization sets up conflict in the area of jobs. Countries around the world compete for development and jobs. If there is not enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, huge wage disparity is likely to result.

We know from physics and history that economies need to grow, or they collapse. The wage disparity that high-wage countries have been experiencing in recent years is evidence that the world economy is already reaching energy limits. There are no longer enough jobs that pay well to go around. Any drop in energy supply is likely to worsen the job situation.

Most observers miss this problem, because they expect high oil prices to signal energy limits. This time, the signal is low wages for a significant group of workers, rather than high oil prices. This situation is possible in a networked economy, but it is not what most people look for.

Unhappy citizens can be expected to react to the wage disparity problem by electing leaders who favor limits to globalization. This can only play out in terms of reduced globalization.

History and physics suggest that economies without adequate energy supply can be expected to collapse. We have several recent examples of partial collapses, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such collapses, or even more extensive collapses, might occur again if we cannot find energy alternatives that can be quickly scaled up to replace oil and coal in the very near term. These replacements need to be cheap-to-produce, non-polluting, and available in huge quantities.

The story that the economy doesn’t really need a growing supply of very cheap-to-produce energy is simply a myth. Let’s look at some of the pieces of this story.

[1] The world economy needs to grow or it collapses. Once all of the nations of the world are included in the world economy, one obvious source of growth (incorporating nations that are not yet industrialized into the world economy) disappears. 

The reason why the world economy needs to grow is because the economy is a self-organized system that operates under the laws of physics. In many ways it is like a two-wheeled bicycle. A bicycle needs to roll quickly enough, or it will fall over. An economy must grow quickly enough, or debt cannot be repaid with interest.

Also, government promises may be a problem with slow growth. Pensions for the elderly are typically paid out of tax revenue collected in that same year. It is easy for a mismatch to take place if the number of younger workers is shrinking or if their wages are lagging behind.

Figure 1. Author’s view of analogies of speeding upright bicycle to speeding economy.

I explain a little more about my bicycle analogy in Will the World Economy Continue to “Roll Along” in 2018?

Economies throughout the ages have collapsed. In some cases, entire civilizations have disappeared. In the past 100 years, partial collapses have included the Great Depression of the 1930s, the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Economic collapses are analogous to bicycles falling over.

[2] A growing supply of energy products is extraordinarily important for keeping the world economy operating.

We can see in Figure 1 that the energy of the person operating a bicycle is very important in allowing the operation of the bicycle to continue. In the world’s economy, the situation is similar, except that we are facing a problem of a world population that is continually growing. In a sense, the economic situation is more like a rapidly growing army of bicycles with riders. Each member of the economy needs goods and services such as food, homes, clothing, and transportation. The members of the economy can collapse individually (for example, growing suicide rate) or in much larger groups (collapsing government of a country).

Figure 2. World population according to the United Nations 2017 historical estimates and Medium forecast of population growth after 2017.

In an economy, we have a choice regarding how much energy to use. If more energy is used, workers can have many tools (such as trucks and computers) to leverage their productivity. If all goods are made with few energy inputs other than human labor, most workers find themselves working in subsistence agriculture. The total amount of goods and services produced in such an economy tends to be very small.

If supplemental energy is used, many more jobs that pay well can be added, and many more goods and services can be created. Workers will be rich enough that they can pay taxes to support representative government that supports many services. The whole economy will look more like that of a rich nation, rather than the economy of Somalia or Haiti.

Individual nations can grow their economies by using available energy supply to create jobs that pay well. Globalization sets up competition for available jobs.

If a given country has a lot of high paying jobs, this is likely to be reflected in high per capita energy consumption for that country. There are two reasons for this phenomenon: (1) it takes energy for an employer to create jobs, and (2) workers can use their wealth to buy goods and services. This wealth buys more goods and services made with energy products.

[3] One measure of how well the world economy is doing is world energy consumption per capita. On this basis, the world economy is already reaching limits.

Figure 3. World energy per capita and world oil price in 2016 US$. Energy amounts from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population estimates from UN 2017 Population data and Medium Estimates.

It is clear from Figure 3 that energy consumption tends to move in the same direction as oil price. If “demand” (which is related to wages) is high, both oil price and the amount of energy products sold will tend to be high. If demand is low, both oil price and the amount of energy products sold will tend to be low.

Since 2014, energy consumption has remained quite high, but oil prices have fallen very low. Today’s oil prices (even at $70 per barrel) are too low for oil producers to make adequate investment in the development of new fields and make other needed expenditures. If this situation does not change, the only direction that production of oil can go is down, rather than up. Prices may temporarily spike, prior to the time production falls.

Looking at energy consumption per capita on Figure 3 (above), we notice that this amount has been fairly flat since 2011. Normally, in a growing world economy, a person would expect energy consumption per capita to rise, as it has most of the time since 1820 (Figure 4).

Figure 4. 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 fact that energy consumption per capita has been nearly flat since 2011 is worrying. It is a sign that the world economy may not be growing very rapidly, regardless of what government organizations are reporting to the World Bank. Some subsidized growth should not really be considered economic growth. For example, some Chinese cities have been buying off the country’s housing glut with borrowed money. A better accounting would likely show lower GDP growth for China and the world.

Looking more closely at Figure 3, we note that energy per capita hit a high point in 2013, just before world oil prices began sliding downward. Since then, world energy consumption per capita has been trending downward. This is part of the reason for gluts in supply. Producers had been planning as if normal growth in energy consumption would continue. In fact, something is seriously wrong with demand, so world energy consumption has not been rising as fast as in the past.

The point that is easy to miss is that (a) growing wage disparity plus oil gluts and (b) high oil prices are, in a sense, different ways of reflecting a similar problem, that of an inadequate supply of truly inexpensive-to-produce oil. High-cost-to-produce oil is not acceptable to the economy, because it doesn’t produce enough jobs that pay well, for each barrel produced. If oil prices today truly represented what oil producers (such as Saudi Arabia) need to maintain their production, including adequate tax revenue and funds to develop additional production, oil prices would be well over $100 per barrel.

We are dealing with a situation where no oil price works. Either prices are too high for a large number of consumers or they are too low for a large number of producers. When prices are low, relative to the cost of production, we tend to get wage disparity and gluts.

[4] The reason why energy demand is not growing is related to increased wage disparity. This is a problem for globalization, because globalization acts to increase wage disparity.

In the last section, I mentioned that demand is closely connected to wages. It is really wage disparity that becomes a problem. Goods and services become less affordable for the people most affected by wage disparity: the lower-paid workers. These people cut back on their purchases of goods such as homes and cars. Because there are so many lower-paid workers in the world, demand for energy products, such as oil and coal, fails to grow as rapidly as it otherwise would. This tends to depress prices for these commodities. It doesn’t necessarily reduce production immediately, however, because of the long-term nature of investments and because of the dependence of oil exporters on the revenue from oil.

Figure 5 shows that China and India’s energy consumption per capita has been rising, leaving less for everyone else.

Figure 5. Energy consumption per capita comparison, based on energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017, and UN 2017 Population Estimates.

A major way that an economy (through the laws of physics) deals with “not enough goods and services to go around” is increased wage disparity. To some extent, this occurs because newly globalized countries can produce manufactured products more cheaply. Reasons for their advantage are varied, but include lower wages and less concern about pollution.

As a result, some jobs that previously would have been added in developed countries are replaced by jobs in newly globalized countries. It is probably not a coincidence that US labor force participation rates started falling about the time that China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Figure 6. US Labor Force Participation Rate, as prepared by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Lower wages for unskilled workers may also occur as the result of immigration, and the resulting greater competition for less skilled jobs. This has been a particular concern in the UK.

[5] Adding China, India, and other countries through globalization temporarily gives a boost to world energy production. This boost disappears as the energy resources of the newly added countries deplete.

Both China and India are primarily coal producers. They rapidly ramped up production since joining the World Trade Organization (in 1995 for India; in 2001 for China). Now China’s coal production is shrinking, falling 11% from 2013 to 2016. Both China and India are major importers of fossil fuels (difference between black line and their own production).

Figure 7. China’s total energy consumption compared to its energy production by type, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Figure 8. India’s total energy consumption compared to its energy production by type, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

China and India’s big surge in coal production has had a major impact on world coal production. The fact that both countries have needed substantial imports has also added to the growth in coal production in the “Other” category in Figure 9.

Figure 9 also shows that with China’s coal production down since 2013, total world coal production is falling.

Figure 9. World coal production by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

Figure 10 shows that world GDP and world energy supply tend to rise and fall together. In fact, energy growth tends to precede GDP growth, strongly suggesting that energy growth is a cause of GDP growth.

Figure 10. World three-year average GDP growth compared to world three-year average energy consumption growth. GDP data is from the World Bank, based on 2010 US$ weights of GDP by country; energy consumption is from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

If a growth in energy consumption is indeed a primary cause of world economic growth, the drop in world coal production shown in Figure 9 is worrying. Coal makes up a large share of world energy supply (28.1% according to Figure 12). If its supply shrinks, it seems likely to cause a decline in world GDP.

Figure 11 shows energy consumption growth on a basis comparable to the energy consumption growth shown on Figure 10, except for different groupings: for the world in total, the world excluding China, and for the combination of the US, EU, and Japan. We can see from Figure 11 that the addition of China and Japan has greatly propped up growth in world energy consumption since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization.

Figure 11. Three-year average growth in energy consumption, for the world total; the world less China and India; and for the sum of the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

The amount of the “benefit” was greatest in the 2003-2007 period. If we look at Exhibit 10, we see that world economic growth was around 4% per year during that period. This was a recent record high. Now the benefit is rapidly disappearing, reducing the possibility that the world energy consumption can grow as rapidly as in the past.

If we want world energy consumption per capita to rise again, we need a new large rapidly growing source of cheap energy to replace the benefit we received from China and India’s rapidly growing coal extraction. We don’t have any candidates for a suitable replacement. Intermittent renewables (wind and solar) are not candidates at all. According to the IEA, they comprised only 1% of world energy supply in 2015, despite huge investment. They are part of the gray “Other” slice in Figure 11.

Figure 12. Figure prepared by IEA showing Total Primary Energy Supply by type from this IEA document

Academic studies regarding wind and solar have tended to focus on what they “might” do, without considering the cost of grid integration. They have also overlooked the fact that any energy solution, to be a true energy solution, needs to be a huge energy solution. It has been more pleasant to give people the impression that they can somehow operate a huge number of electric cars on a small amount of subsidized intermittent electricity.

[6] On a world basis, energy consumption per capita seems to need to be rising to maintain a healthy economy. 

When energy consumption is growing on a per capita basis, the situation is similar to one in which the average worker has more and more “tools” (such as trucks) available at his/her disposal, and sufficient fuel to operate these tools. It is easy to imagine how such a pattern of growing energy consumption per capita might lead to greater productivity and therefore economic growth.

If we look at historical periods when energy consumption has been approximately flat, we see a world economy with major problems.

Figure 13. 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 flat period of 1920-1940 seems to have been caused by limits reached on coal production, particularly in the United Kingdom, but also elsewhere. World War I , the Great Depression of the 1930s, and World War II all took place around this time period. Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard in Energy and the Wealth of Nations argue that resource shortages are frequently the underlying cause for wars, including World Wars I and II.

The Great Depression seems to have been a partial economic collapse, indirectly related to great wage disparity at that time. Farmers, in particular, had a difficult time earning adequate wages.

The major event that took place in the 1990 to 2000 period was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The central government collapsed, leaving the individual republics to operate independently. The Soviet Union also had strong trade relationships with a number of “satellite” countries, including Cuba, North Korea, and several Eastern European countries. In the next section, we will see that this collapse had a serious long-term impact on both the republics making up the Soviet Union and the satellite countries operating more independently.

[7] The example of the Soviet Union shows that collapses can and do happen in the real world. The effects can be long lasting, and can affect trade partners as well as republics making up the original organization.

In Figure 14, the flat period of the 1980-2000 period seems to be related to intentional efforts of the United States, Europe, and other developed countries to conserve oil, after the oil price spikes of the 1970s. For example, smaller, more fuel conserving vehicles were produced, and oil-based electricity generation was converted to other types of generation. Unfortunately, there was still a “backfire” effect related to the intentional cutback in oil consumption. Oil prices fell very low, for an extended period.

The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. The government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, indirectly because with these low oil prices, the government could not support adequate new investment in oil and gas extraction. Businesses closed; people lost their jobs. None of the countries shown on the Figures 14 and 15 have as high energy consumption per capita in 2016 as they did back when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Figure 14. Per capita energy consumption for the Soviet Union and three of its satellite countries. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population data from UN 2017 Population data and Middle Estimates.

The three satellite countries shown on Figure 14 (Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland) seem to be almost as much affected as the republics that had been part of the Soviet Union (Figure 15). This suggests that loss of established trading patterns was very important in this collapse.

Figure 15. Per capita energy consumption for the three largest (by population) republics that made up the Soviet Union. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017. Population data from UN 2017 Population data and Middle Estimates.

Russia’s per capita energy consumption dropped 29% between peak and trough. It had significant fossil fuel resources, so when prices rose again, it was again able to invest in new oil fields.

Ukraine was a major industrial center. It was significantly impacted by the loss of oil and gas imports. It has never recovered.

The country that seemed to fare best was Uzbekistan. It had little industry before the collapse, so was less dependent on energy imports than most. Of all of the countries shown on Figures 14 and 15, Uzbekistan is the only one that did not lose population.

[8] Today, there seem to be many countries that are not far from collapse. Some of these countries are energy exporters; some are energy importers.

Many of us have read about the problems that Venezuela has been having recently. Ironically, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Its problem is that at today’s prices, it cannot afford to develop those reserves. The Wikipedia article linked above is labeled 2014-2018 Venezuelan protests. Oil prices dropped to a level much lower than they had been in 2014. It should not be surprising that civil unrest and protests came at the same time.

Figure 16. Monthly average spot Brent oil prices, through December 2017, based on EIA data.

Other oil producers are struggling as well. Saudi Arabia has recently changed leaders, and it is in the process of trying to sell part of its oil company, Saudi Aramco, to investors. The new leader, Mohamed bin Salman, has been trying to get money from wealthy individuals within the country, using an approach that looks to outsiders like a shake-down. These things seem like very strange behaviors, suggesting that the country is experiencing serious financial difficulties. This is not surprising, given the low price of oil since 2014.

On the oil-importer side, Greece seems to frequently need support from the EU. The lower oil prices since 2014 have somewhat helped the country, but the basic shape of the energy consumption per capita chart makes it look like it is struggling to avoid collapse.

Figure 17. Greece energy per capita. Energy data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017; population estimates from UN 2017 Population data and Medium projections.

There are many other countries struggling with falling energy consumption per capita. Figure 18 shows a chart with four such countries.

Figure 18. Energy consumption per capita for Japan, UK, Italy, and Spain. Energy consumption from BP Statistical Review of World Energy; population from UN 2017 Population data and Medium Estimates.

In a sense, even though oil prices have been lower since 2014, prices haven’t been low enough to fix the economic problems these countries have been having.

China is in a different kind of situation that could also lead to its collapse. It built its economy on coal production and rapidly growing debt. Now its coal production is down, and it is difficult for imports and substitution of other fuels to completely compensate. If slowing growth in fuel consumption slows economic growth, debt will become much harder to repay. Major debt defaults could theoretically lead to collapse. If China were to collapse, it would seriously affect the rest of the world because of its extensive trading relationships.

[9] Leaders of countries with increasing wage disparity and unhappy electorates can be expected to make decisions that will move away from globalization. 

Unhappy workers are likely to elect at least some leaders who recognize that globalization is at least a small part of their problems. This is what has happened in the US, with the election of President Trump.

The hope, of course, is that even though the rest of the world is becoming poorer and poorer (essentially because of inadequate growth of cheap-to-produce energy supplies), somehow a particular economy can “wall itself off” from this problem. President Donald Trump is trying to remake trading arrangements, based on this view. The UK Brexit vote was in a sense similar. These are the kinds of actions that can be expected to scale back globalization.


Having enough cheap energy for the world’s population has been a problem for a very long time. When there is enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, the obvious choice is to co-operate. Thus the trend toward globalization makes sense. When there is not enough cheap-to-produce energy to go around, the obvious choice is to try reduce the effects of globalization and immigration. This is the major reason why globalization can’t last.

We now have problems with both coal and oil. With the decline in China’s coal supplies, we are reaching the point where there are no longer enough cheap energy supplies to go around. At first glance, it looks like there is enough, or perhaps even a superabundance. The problem is that no price works. Producers around the world need higher oil prices, to be compensated for their total cost, including the cost of extraction, developing new fields, and the tax levels governments of exporting countries need. Consumers around the world are already having trouble trying to afford $70 per barrel oil. This is what leads to gluts.

We have been told that adding wind and solar to the electric grid can solve our problems, but this solution is simply absurd. If the world is to go forward as before, it somehow needs a new very large, very cheap supply of energy, to offset our problems with both coal and oil. This new energy supply should not be polluting, either.

At this point, it is hard to see any solution to the energy problems that we are facing. The best we can try to do is “kick the can” down the road a little farther. Perhaps “globalization light” is the way to go.

We live in interesting times!

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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2,343 Responses to Nine Reasons Why Globalization Can’t Be Permanent

  1. Baby Doomer says:

    City of London financiers contemplate “imminent” 2018 US stock market crash of up to “50%”

    Coming dramatic decline of US stock prices would trigger global recession, finds grim forecast to be explored at roundtable hosted by British financial services think-tank

    • Baby Doomer says:

      The warning of a forty to fifty percent drop points to the prospect of a global financial crash worse than the 2008 banking collapse.

    • Baby Doomer says:

      Reagan black Monday, Bush Great Recession, Trump Great Depression 2.0.

    • Baby Doomer says:

      The document forecasts that in 2018, US stock prices are likely to plummet by as much as “forty to fifty percent” — compared to the less than five percent plunge in early February. The document was published weeks before the recent stock market volatility.

  2. Baby Doomer says:

    Analysis: More than 6,000 lobbyists worked on the Republican tax plan

    It’s kinda hard to drain the swamp when you are up to your knees in Alligators.

  3. Sungr says:

    Russian Deputy- Russian Banks Ready to Turn Off Swift System

    “Russian financial institutions are prepared to survive without access to SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) – the global dollar-based interbank payments network – should the US and European Union follow through with threats to cut it off, according to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovic”

    As a reminder, at the time, the MasterCard payment system stopped serving clients of seven Russian banks without warning after Washington imposed its first set of sanctions on Moscow in 2014. In response, the Russian government ordered the creation of a national payment system. With the support of the country’s banking system, the Mir charge card was introduced in 2015, although there is no data on what its adoption rate has been in the following years.aid.”

  4. A resource grab by the world’s elites , showing a huge middle finger to the denizens of Third World , will take place. The people in “First world” will be fed, to prevent an outright rebellion. The world is simply going back to the days of 1900, when most people hardly saw meat in the entire year.

    • Some of those folks call themselves “vegetarians.” Others live near the equator, where feeding on a high proportion of vegetable products is an optimal strategy.

  5. MG says:

    I have read an article in Slovak that states that the best alternative for closed coal mines and energy produced from it in Slovakia is geothermal:

    “Ako najlepšiu alternatívu pre ústup od uhlia vidí Brusel geotermálnu energiu. V súčasnosti označili predstavitelia Komisie 27 potenciálnych geotermálnych oblastí, ktoré pokryjú tretinu územia Slovenska. ”

    (Translation: “Brussels see the geothermal energy as the best alternative for retreat from coal, Currently, the representatives of the Commission indicated 27 potential geothermal areas that will cover one third of Slovakia.”)

    How much is that feasible?

    • Geothermal seems to work moderately well when there is very hot heat source underneath, especially when this heat source is close enough to population areas that the cost of long distance transmission lines is not an issue.

      I am less certain when there is not a very hot heat source underneath. At one point, it seemed like there was a problem with the heat that was available decreasing too much over time. But perhaps changes in technology have made this problem less of an issue. There is a big up-front cost in geothermal. The issue is getting the payback high enough.

      • MG says:

        One of my relatives worked in this company for a while:

        He left it, as he saw the biggest problem in using plasma for the deep drilling of geothermal in how to get large amounts of electricity over bigger distance deep into the hole: the diameter of the cable would be too big. The problem seems to be the same as with the charging of the EVs in large scale. I asked him for some news, so, maybe, he will tell me the next time we meet, about the progress of his former colleagues.

    • What would a person expect, as limits are approaching?

      One concern though is that the new tax legislation somewhat discourages debt for corporations and for mortgages. The net effect may be to reduce the overall debt level, which is likely problematic. New home building, especially expensive new home building, will be discouraged.

      • jupiviv says:

        Debt is basically about withdrawing value from both the present and future in the faith that the future will provide considerably more value as a consequence of this.

        At this point we are rationalising that faith for the sake of our own private sanity instead of actually adhering to it. Kind of like the Anglicans. More and more people are considering less and less people worthy of a much better future than what they have today, hence neoliberalism, alt-right, identity politics etc. Very few are prepared to accept much less than they were promised. Amen.

        • The corollary of, “We can have anything we want if we work hard enough,” is that people without jobs, or who didn’t graduate for high school, or dropped out of college because they had to spend too many hours working at a job must be doing something wrong.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      What that goes to is people in power love to spend, spend, spend. It’s part of the euphoria of power. Take that away and the position might as well be handled by a clerk. I’m not justifying, just recognizing, or as they say, just saying.

      • That is the way a dissipative structure works. Somehow, dissipate as much energy as possible. That takes spending. Sometimes we talk about “renewable energy” as what we are spending money on. If it is not one thing, it is another.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      More debt is good

  6. Baby Doomer says:

    The Military Industrial Complex Strikes Again: War Spending Will Bankrupt America

    “Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us? Do we need to spend more money on our military (about $600 billion this year) than the next seven countries combined? Do we need 1.4 million active military personnel and 850,000 reserves when the enemy at the moment — ISIS — numbers in the low tens of thousands?

    • Baby Doomer says:

      In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

    • Think about the situation as creating jobs for young people, especially young people with poor educations and inadequate job prospects where they live. Then you will understand why the US has so much military spending.

      Besides the people hired directly, there are also people hired as contractors, and there are people who work for companies making military equipment (Lockheed, for example). All of this is a major “service” industry in the US, competing with education for people who don’t need it (and lots of professors writing unneeded academic papers) and medical services whose costs are through the roof.

      The US needs to employ people somehow. This is one way it is done.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      “Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us?”

      I agree, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what makes sense, but instead speaks volumes about how our political system now works. Lobbying.

      • Greg Machala says:

        I suppose the gov’t military jobs keep a lot of numbers off the unemployment statistics. Also, the housing and some transportation is already paid for in many cases as well. So, additional resources are not needed for new employees. The military seems like an efficient way to employ young adults.

  7. Baby Doomer says:

    In 2017, 82% of the total wealth created went to the top 1% -CNBC

    • Greg Machala says:

      “In 2017, 82% of the total wealth created went to the top 1%” – What if 82% of the wealth went to the bottom 10%? I would wager that all of the 82% of new wealth would be spent if it went to the bottom 10%. Whereas the top 1% barely spent any of the newly create wealth. Certainly there would be a massive draw on resources if the new wealth went to the bottom 10%. Would that cause a strain on energy supplies? Copper supplies? It is an interesting thought.

  8. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    my latest prediction (hey, don’t laugh so loud):

    by the year 2030, no human will be living in outer space, which of course includes the International Space Station… and the moon…

    the ISS will be abandoned by then… and will never be replaced…

    also, no human will ever walk on the surface of Mars…


    • It is when debt stops growing that recession hits, at least based on what happened on 2008. Be thankful household debt is still growing.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Following you, debt is tomorrow’s problem. Is it mostly stored here?

        Perhaps there is less there than even the pessimists suggest. Someone had to purchase all the fracking and other debt.

        • Greg Machala says:

          It seems like for every dollar of debt, there is a promise to someone that they have a dollar of purchasing power. This purchasing power “could” manifests itself as resource consumption if it is spent. However, it seems to me that there are is a lot
          more debt outstanding than there are resources to cover it all. So, lets hope that all the holders of debt don’t do anything with it and just hoard it thinking they are rich.

          • Harry Gibbs says:

            Corporate debt levels, too:

            “Debt levels continued to climb among US corporates last year even as a tightening cycle gathered momentum, leaving many uneasy about how businesses will handle rollover risk if rates take off…”


            • Fast Eddy says:

              He said: ‘Yes companies now may have more debt, but they’re paying less on that debt. US corporates are also able to borrow for longer, and that visibility locks down funding costs as it shows them what the repayments will be.

          • The dollars of debt partly (indirectly) goes into wages, and much of that does get spent. It helps pump up commodity prices, and makes the extraction of minerals more profitable.

            It is the fact that people were able to buy homes and cars with debt that helps stimulate the economy. Also, the fact that governments are able to hire teachers and soldiers. And businesses can build factories with debt.

            • Greg Machala says:

              “It is the fact that people were able to buy homes and cars with debt that helps stimulate the economy. Also, the fact that governments are able to hire teachers and soldiers. And businesses can build factories with debt.” – This has been true in the past. However, I think that dynamic is changing as more debt is needed to extract the same amount of resource. The idea of debt spurring growth may be reaching an inflection point due to diminishing returns.

            • I think the issue is that all of the spending (from debt) is on things that are not on worthwhile things.

              Governments build high speed rail that is too expensive for consumers to afford, and doesn’t save enough time over air to make a difference, for example.

              Debt is used to repair long-neglected roads and bridges. All we get is roads and bridges back to where they should have been before. We continued to use the roads and bridges all along.

              Debt is used by Chinese governments to pay for homes for Chinese buyers who really cannot afford these homes. There is a need to keep building homes like these (for other people who cannot afford them), to provide some jobs.

              You are right–the issue is related to diminishing returns. If the debt could be used to build a road where none and gone before, it might have encouraged growth.

  9. Baby Doomer says:

    The US Empire approaching economic crisis: The looming disaster of deficits and debt.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      “Deficits will probably reach $1 trillion in the current or next fiscal year, almost double what the Congressional Budget Office had projected less than a year ago for 2018. And U.S. debt is now on track to reach $30 trillion over the next decade. That’s over 100% of projected GDP, well into the danger zone where investors demand higher rates to buy government debt. And if rates do rise substantially, the U.S. will rival the likes of Italy as one of the world’s most debt-ravaged nations.”

      From that article you linked, BD is that paragraph above.

      Wasn’t the Tea Party (as in Boston Tea Party early from US history) suppose to alter the political landscape to reign in spending? It’s almost like both parties are hell bent on out spending the other party. At this point to go another fiscal year with another 1T deficit during a time that is supposedly good economically is so crazy it’s ludicrous.

  10. Third World person says:

    this article clear show the decline of the American Left

    There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics, multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims.

    Corporate capitalism is supranational. It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

    Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

    The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.

    • Greg Machala says:

      I despise the use of the labels “left” and “right”. The same with Dem vs Rep. Or liberal vs conservative. As if there is nothing in between. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of Americans are between the “left” and “right”. George Carlin was so well spoken on this topic. If you want choice in things that don’t matter (like coffee) you have hundreds of choices. But, for things that really matter (like presidents) there are only two choices. Think about that.

    • The issue is partly not enough goods and services to go around. Also, the huge amount of specialization and complexity in our current system. We would have a problem, no matter what economic approach we were using.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Forty plus years ago I was able to both start a dental practice and what became a very large dental laboratory with essentially no debt and sweat equity. Today, that would be impossible due to student debt and in the dental laboratory area the change from labor to capital as in machined restorations. Ironically, the selling cost of laboratory work today is the same as it was more that forty years previous, and my ability to add value significantly reduced.
        Additionally managerial, financial an accounting skills could be learned over time, today with the extremely high capital costs, that is not the case and additional expensive expertise must be employed in these areas.
        The frontier is much further out, the amount of knowledge required is much greater, and the knowledge is applied to a much smaller area.

        • Lastcall says:

          Its called ‘barriers to entry’, and quite often are the result of the established businesses being keen to up the ante with regards to raising barriers to new competition via regulation, min standards et al.

          Guild halls were an early example, health and safety qualifications a more modern variant.

          • The actuarial groups figured out early on that having a series of difficult exams was a way to keep down the number of actuaries. Indirectly, it could be expected to help wages.

        • Young people today don’t understand how much easier the older generation had it. Becoming an actuary required a huge amount of study, but virtually no cost. I had a master’s degree before I started the exams, but there was (and is) no requirement. I know one actuary whose only degree is a high school diploma. He started out as a “clerk,” working as an aid to actuaries. He took night school college courses to fill in specific background courses he needed, and studied the exam material diligently. He did very well in the field. I doubt that he ever mentioned the lack of a college degree to anyone.

          • Dennis L. says:

            Michael Dell, Bill Gates and others have done well without a degree. There is a story of Steve Wozniak thinking he should have some formal education taking a business/economic course and interrupting the instructor telling the instructor that is not how it is done. This did not go well, the instructor told Steve(he had enrolled under an alias) he did not know what he was walking about and should stop asking questions. Steve told the instructor his real name, founder of Apple and walked out of class. Kind of an independent thinker.

            • Greg Machala says:

              If everyone thinks the same way and learns the same techniques, how can that help improve out ability to discover new techniques? Independent thinking is what we need now more than ever before. But, the opposite is actually occurring. One can see this single-minded thinking in the so called peer reviewed process. Everything seems to be susceptible to diminishing returns, even our ability to think and learn.

            • I am doubtful that a big actuarial department would hire anyone right out of high school, even as a “clerk” now. The clerk job existed in the days of mainframe computer reports that were bound into big books. The dates were written with a pen or marker on the outside of the books. If a person wanted a particular value, as of several dates, a clerk might be asked to pull the numbers from several different reports, and write them in a paper notebook in a particular format. The clerk would then make calculations, using fairly primitive calculators. Now those who are hired are expected to have good computer skills and a college degree, among other things.

          • Dennis L. says:

            We also had stable families, two parents(one to relieve the other as in , “When your father gets home.”), a church life with a set of rules handed down over centuries, the Catholic church to police what was able to be shown in movies, music with out the f word, and poor as we were, jeans that were not falling off out butts due to lack of funds for a good belt.
            We did division long handed, we memorized rote memory which was derided.
            I joke about dance, but it actually seems to improve my memory, there are no cell phones on the dance floor and no Google to look up the next move. It is fun, and I owe it to you for taking time to do something frivolous, thanks for a real solution to our present predicament.

            • I grew up in a situation similar to yours. We also had school teachers who knew our parents, and classmates who moved from grade to grade together (since the total number of students was less than thirty). We walked to school, because it was not too far. In some classes, we had students who were related to the teachers. My Latin teacher (only foreign language taught in the school) was a relative.

            • Also, I had only partial choice in what classes I took in high school. I tried to sign up for “World History,” but the principal decided that typing was more essential, regardless of what career path I chose. (In retrospect, he was probably right. I needed to type a whole lot of term papers, and later reports.)

        • Karl says:

          I’m an attorney. 38 years old. Practicing on my own since 2009. The stories of the older generation starting practices and the relative ease of acquiring business is laughable. Even in the 13 or so years I have been practicing, I have seen the competition for clients ratchet up relentlessly. Some local injury firms have taken to violating the rules of professional conduct to gain an edge in soliciting clients. It has certainly hurt my business, but I have chosen (for now) not to go down that road. The Boomers that are unsympathetic to the real difficulties face by younger people in the economy today really have a lack of historical perspective.

          • lawyers—along with all superfluous occupations—mine as a writer/illustrator included—are a product of the surplus energy economy

            the more energy in the system, the more ”jobs” you can have.–brain surgeons, garbage collectors, housepainters—even bloggers

            reduce the surplus energy, and the excess jobs fall away as everyone has to concentrate increasingly on the basic business of survival

      • theblondbeast says:

        A 2016 book Fossil Capital ( made an interesting argument about the privatization of resource ownership being a key component to allow industrialization. In times past you had “the kings forest” for instance which limited resource extraction based on aristocratic land resource ownership.

        You are right we would have a problem no matter what – I think the private resource ownership issue probably just let’s things go quicker since their are no artificial barriers to resource exploitation – since debt money allows private resource ownership and consumption as long as a return seems probable. The limitation in this case is not the kings decree on resource use, but the limitations of return on capital.

        • Good point!

          I think private ownership of land (for homes or farms or factories) has been important as well. Of course, land is an important resource. Mortgages become possible. The equity freed up by a mortgage can be used to buy other needed goods, such as tools to run a factory. Private land ownership enables a higher level of debt. This is important for bidding up the price of commodities, and making it worthwhile to extract them.

    • JesseJames says:

      Very true third.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Sure the debt is unsustainable. We know that. The question is which unsustainable aspect of industrial civilization will collapse first. Finance, resources, labor, infrastructure? It is anyone’s guess at this point.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      “The failure to address our long-term fiscal situation has increased the national debt to over $20 trillion and growing. This situation is unsustainable, as I think we all know, and represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.
      Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats”

      I am really shocked at the momentum and trajectory of the increasing deficits/debt. Since when did it become the new normal for the US to go 1T a year during what are considered by the media anyway, good times? We have all sorts of new normal’s that are being accepted. New normal for hugely destructive storms, new normal for the US president work with Russia in an election, new normal for cities like Cape Town and states like CA to be having dire droughts, new normal for the super wealthy to get ridiculously super extra amazingly fantastic wealthy, new normal for 10 species to become extinct every five minutes, new normal for loss of 80% of ocean plankton, new normal to lose 90% of all large fish in the oceans, new normal for ice in the arctic to hit new lows, ad infinitum. Those are just the one’s I thought of off the top of my head.

    • Slow Paul says:

      Debt is not supposed to be sustainable, it’s just very comforting for our minds to think of debt as something we loan and have to pay back and all will be right in the universe. It might work like this on a personal level, but on a societal level debt is just arbitrary numbers generated from the great machine, and is more a measure of how much deficit spending an entity is allowed. Deficit spending by governments are the roots of the entire economic system. This creates a flow of money which “floats all the boats” and upholds the integrity of the system. All money originates from this source.

      Debt are just 0’s and 1’s in the world’s giant computer network. What matters is resource extraction and distribution. Energy, food, water. Money and debt is just means to an end, and that end is dissipating resources.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, “inclusion” and “diversity” are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being “other-gendered”—thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

    The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called “intellectuals-yet-idiots,” hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.

    The leader of this is Justin Trudeau….

    • From the report: “For the nation as a whole, the Well-Being Index score for the U.S. in 2017 was 61.5, a decline from 62.1 in 2016 and the largest year-over-year decline since the index began in 2008.”

      This doesn’t exactly match up with,”The economy is doing wonderfully; we need to raise interest rates several times in 2018 to keep it from growing too much.”

  12. Artleads says:

    Graffiti artists win one:


  13. Baby Doomer says:

    White House releases budget, forecasts a decade of mounting debt

    • I have been looking for spreadsheets from the CBO saying exactly what they are projecting. When I look for data, I get to this website:

      But the latest forecast on this web page is from June 2017. Otherwise, the forecasts are as of January and June of years. Am I correct that they are not really available yet? The articles all seem to give a number or two here and there, but no graphs.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      “The budget calls for about $716 billion in annual defense spending, more than $100 billion above the level Trump requested last year. Add in the tax cuts Republicans pushed through in December and the extra spending Congress approved just last week, and the result is a flood of red ink projected to send the national debt ever higher.”

      But that money has to come from somewhere, oh, here we go;

      “His budget would slash almost $700 billion in federal healthcare spending that helps low- and moderate-income Americans who rely on insurance marketplaces created by the 2010 healthcare law.”

  14. Baby Doomer says:

    Trump’s Budget vs Experts

    • Jtroberts says:


      • djerek says:

        Fake news, fake experts.

        None of it has any connection with reality at this juncture.

        • Greg Machala says:

          Exactly! Panels of experts just cropping up everywhere. Yes, we are up against an event that humans have likely never faced – collapse on a global scale. Amazingly, there are experts on things that never happened before or have even been observed yet.

      • Lastcall says:

        NZ is being over-run by experts from all the other failed experiments overseas. Got a qualification and heaps of hot-air, plus some ill-gotten gains? Well head on down and tell us how wrong we are doing it here!
        By the way, why did you come?

        Had someone complain a while ago about how 2nd rate our state highway 1 was. I said that the longer it stays that way the better off we are…and by the way if the roads were so good where you came from, then why did you come to this backward little place. He sort of got it!

        • Fast Eddy says:

          NZ highways are awesome…. and the one lane bridges are very cool as well.

          I guess what these MORE ons want is 6 lane soul-sapping speedways…..

  15. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    JHK today, commenting about Musk’s plan to colonize Mars with 1 million humans by 2040:

    quoting Tim Urban: “… a million people is enough that Mars’ population would be fine.”

    JHK “Not to put too fine a point on it, I never heard so much f789ing nonsense in my life.”

    • xabier says:

      Ah yes, because people create resources and….atmosphere. 750,000 wouldn’t do that, but 1 million is just right.

      Just believe!

    • Greg Machala says:

      1 million people, on Mars, no water, no food, no shelter, no breathable air, no natural immunity to native viruses and bacteria, no magnetic field. Wow, good luck – we’re all
      counting on you.

  16. Baby Doomer says:

    Woman lists off West Virginia legislators’ industrial donors, gets “dragged” from state hearing

    • JH Wyoming says:

      Way too much truth behind the curtain. Try to unveil that curtain and get booted. Corruption can only continue if the curtain remains between ‘The People’ and the truth.

      Our whole political system is now a farce. It pretends to be about votes by the people but in reality it’s special interest money that fuels it and in return gets the benefits of specially crafted policies. Historically all political systems have corrupted over time no matter how idealistic their original intent. Without intervention the US corrupt political system will just keep morphing into greater levels of corruption, guaranteed.

      • Greg Machala says:

        Absolutely right. Agree 100%. There is no hope of stopping or even slowing the massive levels of corruption in DC. It will no doubt hasten the collapse of this country. It is utterly out of control and mostly all of it is done in plain sight now.

    • Lastcall says:

      Wow Iraq hardly missed a beat even while it’s people were being smote over!
      Guess thats why it was called a humanitarian intervention huh.

  17. Baby Doomer says:

    Moody’s Threatens US Credit Downgrade Due To Soaring Debt, “Fiscal Deterioration”–PR_379378

  18. grayfox says:
    A small error, loss of attention or miscalculation and you find out you are maybe not at the top of the food pyramid as you thought.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


      I often love to see the underdog win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      ps: the lions were overheard saying “tastes like chicken”.

  19. Lastcall says:

    The common thread in all of this new energy talk is that everyone assumes that we have solved the energy generation problem with solar, wind et al, and that all we have to do is work out how to store it.

    The fact is, once we lose FF we won’t have a storage problem. In the absence of the FF subsidy, which, if any, renewable energy form will be around. Pumped water windmills, basic direct drive hydropower, biomass, sla.very perhaps.

    Maybe Elon can stretch a big rubber band out behind him when he goes to Mars. That should be worth a few kilo-whats.

  20. Baby Doomer says:

    Peer Reviewed Study: Society Could Collapse In A Decade, Predicts Math Historian ( Turchin, 2010)

    The end of the world as we know it could be near ― possibly just years from now, according to a scientist who uses historical and mathematical modeling to predict events.

    Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, warns in a Phys.Org article published this week that society could risk implosion within the decade because of increasing social unrest.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      hey, it could be tomorrow!

      or June 1, 2018…

      yeah, that date sounds good.

      though my best guess is still July 17, 2027…

      oh, yeah, 7:07 in the morning…

      and by the way…

      707 is Laughing Out Loud upside down.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      From your linked article, BD:

      “In the United States, we have stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees, and exploding public debt. These seemingly disparate social indicators are actually related to each other dynamically. They all experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of looming political instability.”

      Looks like the current trends are no mystery, and it’s just a matter of time before things unravel, or as its referred to above, political instability which we certainly have now.

  21. Baby Doomer says:

    US National Academy of Sciences Peer Reviewed Study
    “European Neolithic societies showed early warning signals of population collapse”

  22. Lastcall says:

    Would this require that the mine shaft constantly be pumped to keep it free of flooding? This is not mentioned in the article.

    ‘A U.K.-based startup, Gravitricity, has just received a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, for a plan that involves using disused mine shafts to store energy. It plans to suspend a 3,000-tonne cylindrical weight in mine shafts from 150m to 1,500m deep. The weight is attached to a series of winches that can lift it, and when electricity is needed, the weight is dropped to drive a turbine that creates electricity. It is then winched back to the top of the shaft using cheap, off-peak electricity. The technology can go from zero to full power in less than a second, has an efficiency of between 80% and 90% and can either run rapidly at high power for 15 minutes, or for up to eight hours at lower power. It has a 50-year design life with no limit on how often it can be used and it does not degrade, unlike batteries, the company says. In addition, it is easy to build, can be sited near existing transmission networks and is much cheaper than lithium-ion batteries.’

    Then there is this further on where the Author forgets these ideas are a form of storage mechanism, not a generation system …

    ‘This is not the first attempt to use gravity to generate power. An American company called ARES has developed a system that uses trains filled with rocks on a hillside, pushing them to the top of the hill out of peak demand and generating electricity by releasing the train and letting it roll to the bottom.’

    • hmmmmm—another work of genius

      i daresay he didnt get the job driving musk’s car to mars

      • Lastcall says:

        Yeah, but he did get 650k …so not a bad effort! Nothing compared to Teflon Musk, but its a start.
        We should get with the program I guess, and get our own absurd projects funded. Maybe Gail change the name to ‘Infinite World’ and we get some funding happening!

      • djerek says:

        We should come up with a plan for giant wind-up springs.

    • Perhaps. It is probably worth a try.

      • jupiviv says:

        A suspended 3000 tonne weight in a mine shaft will face a whole host of problems, not the least of which is that it is a suspended 3000 tonne weight in a mine shaft. Other problems – the number of abandoned mines available and their distance to the grid, what % of surplus generation it can “store”, whether a series of winches is feasible to begin with etc.

        Basically, it seems this company is getting money for having an “interesting” idea which they haven’t actually tested or implemented in any way.

      • xabier says:

        Infinite World Blog: the actuary with vision, putting down the doomers with sharp one-liners, confounding them with her charts, and assuring everyone It Will Be All Right. Leonardo sticks building up to the heavens and beyond – even Mars.

        Advertising would flood in. 🙂

    • DJ says:

      3M kg * 9.8 * 1500 m / 3.6MJ/kWh = 12MWh.

      Enough to power 200-400 homes for a week.

      Take both physics and math with a pinch of salt.

      Water shouldnt matter much? Unless for rust.

      • DJ says:

        “for a day”

      • sink a hole in any natural material—earth, rock etc, and entropy will fill it in unless it is constantly maintain

        we could all write daft articles like this—but the ofw sceptics committee would never approve it

        • DJ says:

          My point was it doesn’t even store a lot of energy assuming 100% efficiency and no problems.

          A thousand Tesla cars winched a mile up and down every day … only equals 1/10 Tesla battery.

          I’m gonna start measuring electricity in Cheops pyramid equivalents. I expect one such doesn’t go very far.

        • This is a frustration. “Boundaries” on studies are too narrow, but it is hard to point this out to a group that has decided narrow boundaries are fine.

  23. Baby Doomer says:

    Our global society is too intertwined to argue that collapse will envelope only one geographic part of civilization.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


      already, it’s obvious that Creeping Collapse is reaching into some areas of the world, but not most areas…

      of course, in two or three decades, The Collapse will be worldwide…

      but at first, the countries with abundant food AND fossil fuels will do as much as they can to wall themselves off from the early Creeping Collapses…

      best guess is the USA and Russia and China will be the last to fall.

      • NikoB says:

        I wouldn’t put money on the US. I think internal conflict there will rise faster than anticipated.

      • Mark says:

        Creeping collapse is a misnomer, and not what Doomer is alluding to. We know about creeping collapse from Cape Town to Caracas, he is referring to the ‘baked into the cake’ collapse of BAU and it’s cascading effects. Learn more here

    • According to the Remington article,

      “The company’s fortunes took a hit after the election of Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed ‘true friend’ of the gun industry, because Hillary Clinton’s defeat erased fears among gun enthusiasts about losing access to weapons. Sales plummeted, and retailers stopped re-ordering as they found themselves stuffed with unsold inventory.”

      • Baby Doomer says:

        Lies…They did fine under all the other Republican presidents of the past…

      • Dan says:

        They also recently lost a class action lawsuit where their most popular rifle series of all time (model 700) was misfiring resulting in numerous deaths and horrific injuries. The engineer who designed the trigger mechanism told Remington about it decades ago and the fix was literally less than a dollar per rifle. Remington made the decision not to fix the problem.

        I have 2 remington firearms in my gun cabinet, one being a model 700 30.06 so that is how I know about the lawsuits (plural) and the recall. Even if they stay in business I can tell you I won’t do any more business with them.

        I take my guns pretty serious and am planning a hunting trip to a farm I recently heard about – I believe the nice people who live there are named Cooper are something.

  24. Jtroberts says:

    From Art Berman

    Cushing crude oil comparative inventories have fallen -36.6 mmb (188%) since early October.
    -17.1 mmb less than the 5-yr avg & lowest since Aug 15, 2014 when WTI spot was $97.17.

    So what’s happening?

  25. Baby Doomer says:

    International trade is slowing. What does this mean for globalization?

    Historically, the volume of world merchandise trade has tended to grow between 1.5 times to twice as fast as world GDP. But since 2012, trade has only been growing at a rate equal to or below that of GDP. In 2016, 20 of the world’s largest shipping companies sold $120 billion, compared to $200 billion in 2012.

  26. Greg Machala says:

    Another reminder that we are reaching limits:

    I was shocked that Mexico City’s population is 21 million. No small wonder then that they have water supply issues. I grew up on the Colorado River in Central Texas, so I have a good feel for how much water flows down that river. So, I did some digging and found todays flow rate of the Colorado River is about 400CFS or about 258 milliion gallons per day. If each of Mexico City’s residents used 17 gallons per day (my personal usage) then the city would need 357 million gallons of water per day. That is more water than the whole of the Colorado River is currently flowing. Amazing! I am just dumbfounded. No wonder then that the water crisis will never be solved.

    • this fits the mantra of ”always has—so it always will”

      thus politicians, economists and a few scientists keep repeating it. and gullible fools keep believing it

      but of course they have to—-what else is there to believe

      even the most doomy of doomsters in here doesnt know what the alternative to that is—-but it’s certainly dire,—so all we can do is ignore it

    • psile says:

      Cape Town is on a collision course with limits to growth right now, where it comes to water shortages, as are other regions of South Africa, with widespread ramifications for the economy of the country.

      Water crisis threatens not only Cape, but SA economy

      Cape Town’s water crisis is likely to have far reaching consequences, not only on the local economy, but on the national GDP. The water crisis threatens further downgrades from ratings agencies, hampering much needed investment, economists have warned.

      In a statement last week, Moody’s Investor Services indicated that the water crisis poses a credit risk to Cape Town’s debt rating, which is currently at the lowest level of investment grade – Baa3.

      Moody’s added that the city was on review for a downgrade. The ratings agency also said that due to the marked income inequality in the City, Cape Town’s water crisis posed a possible threat to social order. It said the crisis would have wide-ranging consequences for the city finances and economy.

  27. Third World person says:

    this is called peak stupidity

    Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm
    Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.

    This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson.

    He said many potential customers were keen to get in on the act.

    “If all these projects are realised, we won’t have enough energy for it,” he told the BBC.

    Mr Sigurbergsson’s calculations were first reported by the Associated Press.

    Iceland has a small population, of around 340,000 people.

    But in recent years it has seen a marked increase in the number of new data centres, often built by firms wishing to tout green credentials. Nearly 100% of energy in Iceland comes from renewable sources.

    Bitcoin mining refers to the process of connecting computers to the global Bitcoin network and using them to verify transactions between users of the crypto-currency.

    • iceland’s energy situation is unique in the world and cannot be replicated elsewhere

      i demolished bitcoin back in december before it started to slide—now theres a price on my head among bitcoiners

      • Greg Machala says:

        This level of insanity would make George Orwell blush.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Bitcoin’s current (December 2017) estimated annual electricity consumption stands at about 34 TWh. Which is about 0.13% of energy consumed world wide. That percentage doesn’t sound very much, but in world comparative terms, Nigeria and Ireland use less than that, as do 157 other countries.

          Perhaps the point of CCs is to ensure that demand for energy does not collapse… resulting in a a crash in energy prices… and bankrupting producers.

      • Greg Machala says:

        I never thought investing in Bitcoin would be wise. However, some people no doubt made money investing in Bitcoin. But to me, the whole idea of a virtual virtual currency kinda put me off a bit LOL. Hell the dollar is virtual enough the way it is. I suppose some are predisposed to high risk investing. Perhaps it is even addicting.

  28. Christiana says:

    I don’t think, european armies are going anywhere, I mean how? Yes, they can send some hundreds of soldiers and a hospital. But then?
    Egypt will fail soon, not enough energy, population growing too fast, no jobs for young academics.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      And ecologically devastated:
      Population 1960: 27.8 million

      Population 2008: 81.7 million

      Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)

      Population in 2046 after another doubling: 164 million

      Rainfall average over whole country: ~ 2 inches per year

      Highest rainfall region: Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year

      Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley): 3%

      Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)

      Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha

      Food imports: 40% of requirements

      Grain imports: 60% of requirements

      Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007

      Oil production peaked in 1996

      Cost of oil rising steeply

      Cost of oil and food tightly linked

    • This is a link to an article I wrote about Egypt back in 2011, when it had a lot of problems.

  29. xabier says:

    Another fossil-fuel exporter in growing trouble: Tunisians starting to flee the country – ‘Tunisia is Finished’ (Guardian.)

    Amusingly, there is a ‘Union of Unemployed Graduates’ there. Sums it up, really.

    The writer of the Oilcrash blog believes that Tunisia will see a military intervention by the EU in order to secure the flow of what remains of the gas so vital to France and Spain if this results in civil war.

    • Rufus says:

      Hello Xabier,
      Tunisia ? Tunisia is not a FF exporter and has no FF ressource. You probably think about Algeria. Yes, Algeria, may be a huge concern in a near future for France, and Europe :
      – Depletion of gas ressources exported to France, right
      – a country close to collapse with a massive young unemployed population. Plus A significant algerian diaspora in France. Plus a recent history that left some wounds probably not totally repaired nor forgotten, both sides, and used by extremists.

      Quite scary (I’m french)

      • the full swathe of north africa is certain to go the way of venezuela, because the same oil-supported economic system exists there—with minor differences of course

      • Third World person says:

        you should more scared about french army invasion in mali

        • Rufus says:

          It’s not an invasion army, it’s about 3000 men. They are there to ‘secure the area’ against salafist islamists affiliated to ISIS, and most probably mainly to secure the main source of uranium in Niger for french electricity production. More than 75% of electricity is produced through uranium in France.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            If it were Justin Trudeau … he’d instead send 3000 Snowflakes to Africa to invite the ISIS fellas to come to Canada for tea…. and he’d not try to secure uranium supplies because ‘it’s their uranium we have no business interfering’

            Then he’d attend a town hall meeting of Tranny Freeeeks where he would commit to 1 million new toilet stalls dedicated to the many versions of Tranny Freeks …. and the Tranny Freeeks would celebrate by piling into the new toilets where they would snort coke and turn tricks – because that’s what they do

      • Harry Gibbs says:

        Like Egypt, Syria and Yemen, Tunisia is a relatively small, post-peak oil producer:

        “Crude Oil Production in Tunisia remained unchanged at 52 BBL/D/1K in September from 52 BBL/D/1K in August of 2017. Crude Oil Production in Tunisia averaged 73.08 BBL/D/1K from 1994 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 95 BBL/D/1K in January of 1994 and a record low of 43 BBL/D/1K in March of 2016.”

        • The EIA says that Tunisia has some technically recoverable shale oil and gas resources (as do a whole lot of other countries).

          The catch is that technically recoverable does not equal economically recoverable. Usually a whole system needs to be put in place. The US had more of that system in place than most parts of the world, especially in Texas.

          Also, it is pretty clear that even in the US, higher prices are needed. But if these resources could actually be used, we would have a huge future tight oil supply.

          • jupiviv says:

            “The US had more of that system in place than most parts of the world, especially in Texas.”

            Part of that system is the dollar’s status. Shale oil production seems to require investors looking to make money from future rises in the price of oil, which is in dollars.

            • Part of this has to do with individual’s ownership of land, and of the mineral rights underneath it. People who have fossil fuels of any sorts on their property can benefit from the sale of those resources. This is not generally true elsewhere. If people are going to find their way of life disturbed, but not get compensated for it, they are much less likely to go along.

        • Rufus says:

          Thanks. I was wrong. Indeed, Tunisia still produces oïl, but quite few. It also produces natural gas, but doesn’t export. It even imports, since it consumes more than production. And consumption grows. A need for electricity I guess. Many french companies outsource services like phoning, computing services …

      • xabier says:

        Yes, brain fused, had too good a lunch…….

  30. Harry Gibbs says:

    “China’s banks extended a record 2.9 trillion yuan ($458.3 billion) in new yuan loans in January, blowing past expectations and nearly five times the previous month as policymakers aim to sustain solid economic growth while reining in debt risks.

    “Net new loans surpassed the previous record of 2.51 trillion yuan in January 2016, which is likely to support growth not only in China but underpin liquidity globally as major Western central banks begin to withdraw stimulus…”

  31. Pingback: Research for AGRI : News – February 2018 – Research4Committees

  32. Apneaman says:

    “The maximum power principle(MPP) in ecology states that self-­organizing systems, especially biological systems, capture and use available energy to develop network designs that maximize the energy fluxes through them, which are compatible with the constraints of the environment, and that those systems that maximize the throughput will endure. Thus, the MPP governs expediencies or efficiency in both the ecosystems functional and structural development. In this way, MPP can be used as a macro-level alternative model to interpreting evolution as a process whereby elements within an ecosystem are selected based upon their contribution to the processing of energy through the ecosystem, thus working to maximize the overall energy throughput.”

    • The way that Howard Odum stated the Maximum Power Principle is “During self-organization, system designs develop and prevail that maximize power intake, energy transformation, and those uses that reinforce production and efficiency.”

      I think that the statement of the folks at complexity labs is a little better, when they say, “Self-­organizing systems, especially biological systems, capture and use available energy to develop network designs that maximize the energy fluxes through them, which are compatible with the constraints of the environment, and that those systems that maximize the throughput will endure.”

      The complex lab folks don’t give a reference for their wording.

  33. Artleads says:

    If we are dealing with a self organizing system, too complex to reason about, we might want to train our intuition, since it figures out what pure reason cannot. It’s helpful, even if imperfect.

    • adonis says:

      i have one of his books the secret teachings of all ages

    • According to this audio tape, The Bhuddists have concept of mental co-ordinator that integrates the results of the various senses. It gives a constant insight into our daily living; also points out inconsistencies.

      Nature is a systematic operator. Brings in well-clarified information. After the information is brought in and clarified, then it becomes available for re-use. We are not a conscious of a large part of attitudes.

      A person who lives only on the “surface” of his observations will be missing a very large amount. We have trouble in our daily living because we don’t let the co-ordinator do its work. What goes in, goes out immediately.

      Intuition occurs in different degrees in different people. Women tend to have more of it. This coordinator extends to previous existences–what has been passed on to the person. To have good intuition, a person needs to be mentally and emotionally honest.

      If we fail to allow this coordinating process to occur, and instead press our own personal attitudes, we will not be able to have this integrating ability.

      The law of cause of effect is extraordinarily important; if we do not use the co-ordinator, we will lose the benefit of this. Cause and effect will be jumbled. Without the benefit of the co-ordinator, people will think in the terms of luck in terms of causing events.
      – – – – – – – – –

      Interesting audio tape! I suppose with this definition of “intuition,” I would tend to score high on intuition.

      • Artleads says:

        “The law of cause of effect is extraordinarily important; if we do not use the co-ordinator, we will lose the benefit of this. Cause and effect will be jumbled. Without the benefit of the co-ordinator, people will think in the terms of luck in terms of causing events.”

        Thanks for singling this out. I hadn’t really focused on that particular aspect of it.

        But I *was* thinking how when we remove a dam or a bridge or a building, we fail to understand the extensive chain of relationships (cause/effect) we are disrupting. We want to get rid of fossil fuels, for example. But a self organizing system needs a very diverse set of options to organize around. Including so called “bad” ones. So what am saying today is why not leave those “bad” things be, and focus on the “better” things we would like to see instead? Restrict less, prescribe more.

      • JH Wyoming says:

        Very interesting information, Gail, on Bhuddists ‘Mental Coordinator’. Makes sense there would be a need for something that integrates received stimuli. I’ve found as I have become more wise, that for whatever reason one might presume there are what my wife and I call whispers and there are shouts. If we are sensitive to the whispers as to whether we are on the right track or not, and responsive to them, then life runs much smoother, but of course if someone doesn’t listen to the whispers (feedback), then it can turn to shouts so to speak.

        Here’s a simple real life example: We went to auto row in Sacramento to look at a used truck w/30K miles we saw on the internet. After test driving it we were both very excited about it but didn’t want to make a rash decision, so we went to a nearby different lot and wanted to see the same make and model vehicle, but that office couldn’t find the keys for it, so we took that as a strong whisper not to question the truck we were already very pleased with, went back and worked out a deal. I’ve had the truck since 2001, its only needed routine maintenance, average 10k miles a year so it’s at 200,000 miles and still runs perfectly. The wise lesson in life is not to force things to happen, especially when the feedback from things happening around you is not to take that course, but instead to follow the path that flows most smoothly.

        Here’s an example of not listening: I was interested in an 80’s Audi model. My Brother told me not to because they had a bad reputation for electrical problems. I didn’t listen, bought it and to get it started I had to massage the bundle of wires leading to the ignition, and sometimes that would work and sometimes not. Well, cost of electrical technician was prohibitive on this fairly cheap used car, so I unloaded it even cheaper.

        • Actuaries are often trying to figure out a rough approximation to the answer to a difficult question. So understanding general inter-relationships is helpful.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      wow… a somewhat incoherent article by Brian Wang:

      “The US needs Elon Musk’s visionary and risk-taking innovation to maintain technological advantages in critical areas.

      The other advantage for Elon Musk’s success is a global inspiration to other technological risk takers. The rise of Apple and Microsoft in the 1970s provided proof that technological startups could make it big.”

      these thoughts are probably at the level of the average teenager…

      what an embarrassment.

      • adonis says:

        hopefully its just one guys opinion musk is going to be one sorry guy when the house of cards pemanently comes down

        • Dennis L. says:

          Too negative:
          1. Musk started a company that makes revolutionary cars, so it doesn’t make money, what does? See Steve from Virginia.
          2. He is around fascinating people making things, putting things in space which to me is a step up from facebook, etc.
          3. He seems to have a beautiful wife.
          4. He lives the life FE dreams of having. FE is putting photo shopped pictures of famous people on the web. We need ideas, not cartoons. Those with new ideas are doing fairly well and living exciting lives.

          Things are tough, things are changing, but being so negative is not good for one’s mental health. The doomers have been wrong forever, their attempts to change the world have not worked; that is the lesson I am taking away from this. Gail thinks it is all somewhat self organizing, that requires a different math from what we are used to. Doomers are not alone, look at the SJW, etc. who are having an equally hard time coming to grips with things not working in accordance with very clever policies.

          Time to dig deeper and understand what is.

          • Lastcall says:

            Going a hundred miles an hour is just great, but when its in the wrong direction, then its wasting time, talent and tax-payers money. Bread and circuses on a global scale.


            Moon = Mars

            • Dennis L. says:

              I comment not to make points but to read the replies and maybe learn a bit from them.
              What is not a bread and circus? After the DNA is replicated in offspring, what is the point? Why are we here? My greatest achievement may be that I adapted.
              It is a system that seems to continue, it does appear to be self organizing and it does appear that what is not well adapted is discarded. This may be the second significant idea I take away from Gail. It took a great deal of wasted time reading this blog and others to discover that idea applied to systems.

              Off to dance lessons, look forward to learning more from this comment. Be Blessed.

            • xxxx’s to your teacher

            • oh—and we are here to eat and reproduce ourselves

              sorry—but that’s it

            • Fast Eddy says:

              the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.
              synonyms: negativity, cynicism, pessimism;

              I am about 75% there…..

            • Maybe you need to find something different to do for a while. Can you find something uplifting to do? Learn to paint a picture. Go for walks in the woods, perhaps with Mrs. FE. Find some volunteer work you to do.

              You have written off God, but there is clearly some energy source behind all that is and ever will be. We know that the world we live in operates in non-linear ways. We really don’t know what is ahead, although with linear thinking it is easy to imagine the worst.

              You have lots of talents. Perhaps you can find good ways to put them to use.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am keeping very busy — regular 60km+ rides are the latest craze!!!

              And then I have this gig on FW ….

              My only real disappointment is not having use of a private jet… I realize that is likely because I am not playing ball with this Great Ho ax thing…. Leo and Al get private jets because they are saying all the right things… in a rational world I would get the jet and they would take the bus… or walk…

              Nihilism does have a tremendous appeal…. because it is a rationale perspective

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              One of my favorite gil scott heron songs.

            • i1 says:

              Yeah. Eat, reproduce, and liberate carbon.

            • Slow Paul says:

              We cannot change our direction, just accept what is and move on. Take the green movement for example. In the beginning it was a well-meaning enviroment-friendly movement, people who wanted to change the world for the better. But it quickly evolved from downsizing and planting trees into another business-scheme and planting wind mills.

              It’s just the self-organizing system at work. Nature rewards those who use the most resources.

            • They become so focused on what they are doing that they cannot see the bigger picture. They too, are dissipative structures.

          • jupiviv says:

            “Things are tough, things are changing, but being so negative is not good for one’s mental health.”

            Not everyone here is like FE. Some of us happen to think that humanity won’t vanish in some twilight of the idols collapse event, or that existence is meaningless and empty, while *also* despising Musk and his salesman antics.

            The trick is to just value the knowledge of seeing our collective situation clearly without abandoning our individual principles in an orgy of hope or despair. Myself, I do what I can, and right now that is living as frugally as I can while trying to convince others do the same.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Let’s start with lie number one … and you can go from there…. Musk did NOT found Tesla


            Musk is a front man… fake .. he has not a f789ing clue how to run a company … because he has never run a company – not even a small business

            THIS does not constitute running a company –

      • Baby Doomer says:

        Mike pence wrote an op ed in the WSJ last year that he wanted to bring Capitalism into space! LOL

        • Greg Machala says:

          “Mike pence wrote an op ed in the WSJ last year that he wanted to bring Capitalism into space! LOL” – Might want bring food, water and shelter into space first.

      • psile says:

        The comprehension level of the average American is grade 7 or 8. So it’s perfectly suited for its intended audience.

        • well—even Hawking, supposedly one of the cleverest men alive, insists that humankind must populate other planets, despite there being no viable system in existence, or even conceived, that will get us there.

          If such a means were to become available, our industrial infrastructure cannot survive for more than another generation, after that there will be nothing to build trekkie ships with

          I going to apply for hawking’s job

  34. adonis says:

    until we try out a new system to manage this civilization we cannot say for certain that all hope is lost and answer this question is evolution a dissipative system ?

    • Evolution isn’t a dissipative system. Evolution doesn’t start from small beginnings and grow in the presence of energy. Then at some point, cease operation.

      Evolution is simply the way that one dissipative structure leads to another dissipative structure. Offspring have random differences. The ones that are better adapted are the ones that survive. This way, new dissipative structures can grow that are better adapted to changing conditions. We think of evolution as applying to plants and animals, but it could theoretically apply to ecosystems and economies.

      • adonis says:

        i am the student and you are the teacher thanks for explaining that

      • Artleads says:

        There is an academic field called “cultural evolution.” It does see things happening in stages fairly uniformly across the world over eons. I have never checked for a critique of the field. Michael Harner, whose class I took seems to have had energy (calories) in mind way back in the 70’s. But I like the idea above of “offspring” that are better adapted succeeding the types that are not. I wonder if that view of evolution can be applied to cultural evolution as well?

      • doomphd says:

        why don’t we make some “dissipative structure” Tee-shirts? it would be both educational and a good plug for Gail’s blog.

      • yup

        the dismissive way of calling someone/something a dinosaur is really a compliment—they were around for 200m years—-by no stretch of the imagination will we be around that long

        and birds are still with us—they are just mini-dinos anyway

  35. djerek-
    I think you got it right. ” It’s like trying to get a person to age slower by not letting them breath so much oxygen to avoid oxidative aging…”

  36. adonis says:

    the elites plan b to fight peak easy oil

    • djerek says:

      IMO this has been the plan since the Club Of Rome got the Limits to Growth study. But it ignores the reality that this civilization is a complex dissipative structure dependent on the combustion of fossil fuels. It’s like trying to get a person to age slower by not letting them breath so much oxygen to avoid oxidative aging…

      • James says:

        The complexity and size of every dissipative structure must be justified by the amount of fuel it can convert to waste or heat. Complexity will increase in the service of entropy until limits are reached. Ecosystems will become relatively stable due to the inexhaustible fuel source of the sun. Stored energy in biomass and fossil fuels awaited the unlikely event of an organism that could become the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of a new tool-making system – technology. The new variety of tools, unlike those formed by organic evolution, could harvest and burn, for all practical purposes, all other species and fossil fuels.

        The Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model was broken. One of the species, Homo sapiens, had escaped to become a malignant nemesis throughout the ecosystem. Now we face the unfortunate position of being unable to justify our very complex technological, dissipative structures due to a lack of energy flow and waste sinks that are full. Due to the damage done to the ecosystem, the very complex Homo sapiens may not be justified either. Someone said that humans may eventually have to eat jellyfishes but by that time I’m pretty sure we’ll all be toast.

    • JH Wyoming says:

      I love this whole goal setting bit, because it provides a utopian viewpoint without ever really thinking through or being responsible for how to achieve that goal. It’s merely an exercise of how to make people feel good all the while pumping record amounts into the atmosphere to maintain growth. At this point it’s such an overwhelming behemoth, i.e. the world industrial machine that trying to restrict it is saying we can have it both ways, have our cake and eat it too, a sad absurdity to delude the masses into forging ahead. The restriction of oxygen is a good analogy.

  37. Sven Røgeberg says:

    Don’ worry, read Steven Pinker;)

    As societies become wealthier and better educated, they raise their sights to the entire planet. Since the dawn of the environmental movement in the 1970s, the world has emitted fewer pollutants, cleared fewer forests, spilled less oil, set aside more preserves, extinguished fewer species, saved the ozone layer and may have peaked in its consumption of oil, farmland, timber, cars and perhaps even coal.

    * * *

    To what do we owe this progress? Does the universe contain a historical dialectic or arc bending toward justice? The answer is less mysterious: The Enlightenment is working. Our ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking. They replaced superstition and magic with science. And they shifted their values from the glory of the tribe, nation, race, class or faith toward universal human flourishing.

    • djerek says:

      The Enlightenment will quickly turn dark once the electric lighting goes out.

    • quote/////Our ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking. They replaced superstition and magic with science.//////

      unless there’s a thread of irony in your comment which i missed—i don’t think they did.

      Charles Darwin was born near where I live, and each year on/near his birthday, there’s a lecture given in his honour. It’s today.

      And outside the lecture theatre—(his old school) the creationists were demonstrating vociferously.

      this is typical of what’s happening everywhere, The ”enlightenment” coincided with the prosperity of the industrial revolution. Had we not had the industrial revolution, the enlightment would not have happened because we would not have possessed the means of scientific investigation.

      As the benefits of that revolution slip from us, the dogmas of past times will return as priests and charlatans once again inflict them upon the unthinking masses and take over the destiny that they have planned for us in the name of whatever god they worship

      • There is also the issue that our new system of finding the truth doesn’t necessarily work very well. The system rewards following in the track that previous researchers thought. It is very much guided by where the research money is, which tends to be what the government would like to see proven. If publishers don’t want anything published that explain how bad our current situation is, this guides what kind of research gets done and published as well. The research areas are in different “silos,” so findings in one fields don’t transfer to other areas that are closely connected.

        • Dennis L. says:

          Perhaps it is as much a function of the knowledge set of a given researcher. E.g. a theoretical mathematician learns proofs, a constructivist mathematics does more on intuition and an alliance between science and math. Wolfram might be seen as a constructivist and his “New Kind of Science” is an interesting example, Mandelbrot would be another. Economists are trained in a school of thought, their friends and associates are similarly trained; venturing outside the school can lead to a loss of network and support. If colleagues do not have the skill set to read one’s papers, is it difficult to get new ideas out.

          In the real world getting things done seems to involve a great deal of politics, Musk may be getting support for his auto venture to support other agendas that would otherwise not be backed. While I personally would not buy his cars, shooting one into space as part of a rocket test is not something everyone can or will accomplish.

        • xabier says:

          Academics, if they don’t have tenure, are grant and sinecure-chasers: and even if they do have tenure, they still have to pull in money for their institution,and publish as much as possible for the ratings tables.

          Saying that the game for most of mankind is effectively up doesn’t help fund-raising or publication rates, to say the least…..

      • Dennis L. says:

        The book, “Limits to Growth” has a hypothesis of population decline. From where will these masses come ?
        Currently power, money and health are going to the very top. Why will that not continue? Is there any physical reason why it cannot continue?

        The original Limits to Growth was a per captia model, but it did not look at the distribution with in the population as far as I know which is not that much.

        Interesting times we live in.

      • xabier says:

        Best collapse career in 21st century: shaman and faith healer!

      • Sven Røgeberg says:

        I don’t think we disaggre about fossil fuels and the industial revolution beeing the precondition for the setting up of the infrastru tur and means for modern scientific research and instruction, wich also depends on taxes to fund programs. Though the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution preceeded the industrial age, as did the political revolutions in the North-Western part of the Atlantic. This is an important fact to recognize, because it’s the basis for believing that ideas are running the engine of history.

        • the ”enlightment” was a vague period in history—resisted by the clergy, which might be said to have started with galileo and ended with darwin.

          It is still being resisted, I assure you.

          but the necessary momentum for it was forced by the industrial revolution, kicked off in 1709–this provided the essential machinery that allowed transfer of people from farms to factories.

          Once there, the masses could not be controlled as serfs by the lord of the manor (that also took a century or so)—but it was inexorable—they came to know scientific truth because mass industry brought about mass education

          This is why I fear that when fossil fuels have gone, we will slip back into a dark age of un-reason, where scientific truths are suppressed

          Couldnt happen?

          Well the US government right now is busy wiping all references to global warming in response to pressure from vested interests—what next?—creation teaching in schools? Family planning? Roe v wade? Isnt it N Carolina that prohibted the mention of sea level rise—while the sea is rising around them?–easy to make stuff like that a criminal offence—as this POTUS would do, given the opportunity

          I assure you they are on the loony agenda,

          without fossil fuels the future is going to be very un-enlightened because you will be living in an feudal society

    • We are certainly wealthier and living longer lives, since the advent of fossil fuels. But the earth isn’t better off, as a result.

      When I looked up deforestation a while ago (I think it was a United Nations write up; also World Bank Data), I discovered that it was the wealthy countries that are becoming less deforested. The poor countries are becoming ever more deforested. The net effect is that the world is becoming ever more deforested. This is Euan Mearns’ image:

      Also, we know that fish are becoming more and more overfished. Humans are crowding out more and more species.

    • Wolfbay says:

      Will the enlightenment survive in a country like Sweden if the vast majority of women who have large families are the uneducated or religious fundamentalists raised in a different culture? Sweden is an impressive county and if anyone can pull it off they will. But demographics may be destiny and it may not bode well for environmentalism or feminism.Time will tell.

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