Our Energy Problem Is a Quantity Problem

(This post consists of a short overview article I recently wrote for Transform, a magazine for Environment and Sustainability Professionals, plus six related Questions and Answers.)

Reading many of today’s energy articles, it is easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting.

There is a different issue that we are not being told about. It is the fact that having enough energy is terribly important, as well. Total world energy consumption has risen quickly over time.

Figure 1. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects and together with BP Statistical Data for years 1965 and subsequent.

In fact, the amount of energy consumed, on average, by each person (also called “per capita”) has continued to rise, except for two flat periods.

Figure 2. 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.

There is a good reason why energy consumed has risen over time on a per capita basis. Every human being needs energy products, as does every business. Energy is what allows food to be cooked and homes to be heated. Energy products allow businesses to manufacture and transport goods. Without energy products of all kinds, workers would be less productive in their jobs. Thus, it would be hard for the world economy to grow.

When energy consumption per capita is rising, it is easy for workers to become more productive because the economy is building more tools (broadly defined) for them to use, making their work easier. Manufacturing cell phones and computers requires energy. Even things like roads, pipelines, and electricity transmission lines are built using energy.

Once energy consumption growth flattens, as it did in the 1920-1940 period, the world economy is negatively affected. The Great Depression of the 1930s occurred during the 1920-1940 period. Problems, in fact, started even earlier. Coal production in the United Kingdom started to drop in 1914, the same year that World War I began. The Great Depression didn’t end until World War II, which was immediately after the 1920-1940 period.

In the 1920-1940 period, many people, especially farmers, were not able to earn an adequate living. This is a situation not too different from the one today, in which many young people are not able to earn an adequate living. Strange as it may seem, this type of wage disparity is a sign of inadequate energy per capita, because jobs that pay well require energy consumption.

The 1980-2000 flat period was in many ways not as bad as the earlier one, because the lack of growth in energy consumption was planned. The United States changed to smaller, more energy-efficient cars in order to reduce the amount of gasoline consumed. Oil-powered electricity generation was taken out of service and replaced with other types of generation, such as nuclear. Heating of homes and businesses was changed to more efficient systems that did not burn oil.

The indirect effect of the planned reduction in oil consumption was a drop in oil prices. Low oil prices adversely affected all oil exporters, but the Soviet Union was especially affected. Its central government collapsed, at least partly because of its reduced revenue stream. Member republics continued to operate, somewhat as in the past. Russia and Ukraine cut back greatly on their industrialization, leading to less use of energy products. Population tended to drop, as citizens found better work prospects elsewhere.

Eventually, in the early 2000s, oil prices rose again. Russia was able to become a major oil exporter again, but Ukraine and other industrialized areas were permanently handicapped by the collapse. Countries affiliated with the Soviet Union (including Eastern European countries, North Korea, and Cuba) found themselves permanently lagging behind the US and Western Europe.

Recently (2013-2017), the world economy seems to have again reached a period of flat energy consumption, on a per capita basis.

Figure 3. Based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017, and 2017 UN Population Estimates.

In fact, in many ways the flattening looks like that of the 1920 to 1940 period. Increased wage disparity is again becoming a problem. Oil gluts are again becoming a problem, because those at the bottom of the wage hierarchy cannot afford goods using oil, such as motorcycles. Young people are finding their standards of living falling relative to the living standards of their parents. They cannot afford to buy a home and have a family. Governments are becoming less interested in cooperating with other governments.

Why is world energy consumption per capita flat, or actually falling slightly, after 2013? The answer seems to be diminishing returns with respect to coal production. Diminishing returns refers to the fact that while at first coal is inexpensive to extract, the cost of extraction rises after the thickest seams and those closest to the surface have been extracted.

A chart of China’s energy production shows how China’s coal production first rose as low cost made its usage advantageous, and then fell due to diminishing returns. China experienced a major ramp-up in coal production after it was added to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Figure 4. China’s energy production, based on data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2017.

As the extraction of coal progressed, China found itself with many mines with rising production costs. Coal prices did not rise to match the higher cost of production, so a large number of unprofitable mines were closed, starting in about 2012.

A major reason for the flat world per capita energy consumption starting in 2013 is the fall in China’s coal production after 2013. Coal production is falling in quite a number of other countries as well, as the cost of production rises, and as users become aware of coal’s environmental issues. Other sources of energy have not been rising sufficiently to keep total per capita energy consumption rising. A person can see in the China chart that wind and solar production are not rising sufficiently to offset its loss of coal production. (Wind and solar are part of Other Renewables.) This situation occurs elsewhere, as well.

What role do wind and solar play in maintaining world energy supply? The truth is, very little. While a great deal of money has been spent building them, wind and solar together amounted to only about 1% of total world primary energy supply in 2015, according to the International Energy Association.

A major problem is that wind and solar do not scale well. As larger quantities are added to electricity networks, more workarounds for their intermittency (such as batteries and long distance transmission) are needed. Bid prices for wind and solar give a misleadingly low impression of their real cost, unless the projects include many hours’ worth of storage to offset the impact of intermittency.

The key to rising energy consumption seems to be the falling cost of energy services, when efficiency is included. For example, the cost of delivering a package of a given size a given distance must be falling, relative to inflation. Similarly, the cost of heating a home of a given size must be falling. Governments must be able to tax producers of energy products, rather than providing subsidies.

Globalization requires ever-expanding energy supplies to meet the needs of a rising world population. To maintain globalization, we need a growing supply of energy products that are very cheap and scalable. Unfortunately, wind and solar don’t seem to meet our needs. Fossil fuels are no longer cheap to extract, because we extracted the resources that were least expensive to extract first. Our problem today is that we have not been able to find substitutes that are sufficiently cheap, non-polluting, and scalable.

A Few Related Questions and Answers:

(1) What is the biggest impediment to raising total energy consumption?

We cannot get the price of oil and of other fuels to rise high enough, for long enough, to encourage the production of the fossil fuel supplies that seem to be in the ground. What happens, instead, is that energy prices hit an affordability limit and fall back.

Figure 5. NASDAQ three month price chart for Brent Crude oil. Source: NASDAQ

The recent strike in Brazil over high diesel prices shows the kind of issues that occur. Oil prices are still far below what many oil exporters (such as Norway, Venezuela, and Iraq) really need, when needed taxes are included.

Of course, the problem with not being able to get prices high enough also discourages the use of alternatives to fossil fuels, such as wind and solar.

(2) Aren’t wind and solar low-cost approaches?

It is easy to think that wind and solar will be huge improvements over burning fossil fuels directly for fuel, but nearly all of these analyses overlook the problems that are added by introducing intermittency to the electric grid. The assumption was made in early analyses that with enough scale, intermittency in one location would tend to offset intermittency in another location. Also, it was hoped that electricity consumption could be shifted to different times of day.

There have been several recent analyses that look more closely at these assumptions. Jean-Marc Jancovici has shown that if sufficient storage is added for wind and solar to make it “dispatchable,” it takes an order of magnitude more physical resources to produce wind and solar compared to what it takes to produce the dispatchable nuclear electricity used in France. Both have low long-term operating costs. Thus, we would expect the true cost of wind and solar to be far higher than France’s nuclear electricity.

Roger Andrews, writing on Euan Mearns site Energy Matters, shows that some recent solar and wind auction prices appear to be far below actual costs, when reasonable minimum cost assumptions are used.

Regarding “Demand Response” as a solution to intermittency, Roger Andrews shows how little time of day pricing for consumers affects consumption curves. It appears that people don’t stop eating dinner after they get home in the evening, no matter how high the cost of electricity is at that time.

Interruptible supply is another way of reducing demand. This link describes some of the issues encountered when interruptible supply was tried on a large scale in California.

(3) Can’t we simply get along using less energy? That is what everyone tells us is possible.

The historical record in Figure 2 doesn’t give much indication that this is possible. Whenever there is even a small drop in energy consumption per capita, it seems to have an adverse effect. On Figure 3, even the small dip in energy consumption per capita in 2008 and 2009 led to a serious recession in many countries of the world.

The people who talk about getting along with less energy haven’t thought through the likely ramifications of this. There would be fewer jobs that pay well, because jobs such as those for construction workers would disappear. The economy would shrink, because of the fewer jobs, in a much worse recession than the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

We know that in past collapses, one of the big problems was inability of governments to collect enough taxes. We would likely encounter the same problem again, if there are fewer people making high wages. Most of the tax dollars for the US Federal Government are paid by private citizens (as income taxes or as Social Security funding), rather than by corporations.

Figure 7. Sources of US Federal Governments Revenue, based on US Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

The last year shown on Figure 7 is 2017, which is before the recent corporate tax reduction. This change will tend to shift the burden on Federal Taxes even further in the direction of payroll related taxes.

(4) How about efficiency savings? Can’t efficiency savings fix our problem?

There are two issues involved. If we were really efficient at fuel savings, as we were in the early 1980s, oil and other energy prices would drop dramatically. This would push oil, coal, and gas producers worldwide toward bankruptcy. Governments of oil exporting countries, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, would have difficulty collecting enough tax revenue. They would likely collapse from lack of tax revenue, substantially reducing supply.

A second issue is that historically we have been adding efficiency. In fact, efficiency is what has tended to make fuel more affordable. As noted in the article, energy use could grow, as the cost of energy services fell.

Figure 8. Total Cost of Energy and Energy Services, by Roger Fouquet, from Divergences in Long Run Trends in the Prices of Energy and Energy Services. The cost of energy services combines (a) the cost of energy with (b) the impact of efficiency savings.

Some of the changes we have been making recently go in the opposite direction of efficiency. For example, the recent article, Biggest Ever Change in Oil Markets Could Send Prices Higher, discusses a new regulation requiring the use of low-sulfur fuel oil for ships. Doing this would greatly reduce the quantity of sulfur being released to the atmosphere as emissions. This is not a change toward efficiency; it is a change toward higher cost of production, which is the opposite of efficiency. Regulators plan to use part of our energy supply to eliminate the excess sulfur before the oil is sold.

As undesirable as sulfur pollution is, the problem is affordability and higher cost. Wages are not high enough for workers around the world to afford the required higher cost of food (because food production and transport use oil) to support the new regulation. So, the likely result of the regulation is to push the world toward recession. Beyond a certain affordability point, it is hard to push oil prices higher, because wages don’t rise at the same time.

(5) Could you explain further why flat energy consumption per capita is not sufficient for the world economy–this amount really has to grow?

Perhaps looking at charts of recent trends in energy consumption of a few countries can help explain what happens when overall per capita energy consumption is flat.

Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies explains that economies often use “complexity” to work around problems as they approach resource limits. In the particular version of complexity tried in this case, manufacturing was increasingly globalized. Workers suddenly found themselves competing for wages with workers from much lower wage countries. Wage disparity became more of a problem.

When workers are increasingly poor, they can afford to purchase fewer goods and services. This can be seen in energy consumption per capita data. Figure 9 shows energy consumption per capita for three European countries experiencing difficulties. In all three, energy consumption per capita has been falling for several years. When manufacturing was sent to Asia, workers found themselves earning less, so they were able to purchase fewer goods made with energy products. Also, European products were less competitive on the world market, with the new competition from low-cost markets.

Figure 9. Energy Consumption per Capita for three European Countries, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data and UN 2017 population estimates.

The countries that have been able to grow more rapidly in response to globalization (such as those in Figure 10) need to keep up their patterns of growth, or they start encountering financial problems because their prior growth was generally financed with debt. Without sufficiently rapid growth, they have difficulty repaying debt with interest.

Figure 10. Energy Consumption per Capita for five countries that recently have been growing rapidly. Based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy data and UN 2017 population estimates.

Brazil’s energy consumption per capita has recently fallen, and it is encountering severe problems. Argentina is a country with flattening energy consumption growth. China’s growth in energy consumption has slowed as well; we often read statements about its debt problems.

One of the problems that these rapidly growing countries encounter is currency fluctuations. As long as their particular country seems to be growing rapidly, the currency level of their country can remain high, relative to the US dollar or the Euro. But if obstacles are encountered, such as the low price of their major export, or slower economic growth, the currency of the country may fall relative to major currencies.

A falling currency relative to major currencies is a problem for these rapidly growing countries for three reasons. For one, imports become expensive. For another, any debt denominated in a foreign currency (such as the US dollar) becomes more difficult to repay. The reason why this is an issue is because rapidly growing countries often do not find enough credit available locally, so are forced to borrow internationally. A third problem with slowing growth and a falling currency relativity is that it becomes more difficult to attract new investment to the country. Instead, outside investors may decide to leave; they want to seek the next growth opportunity, in different, more rapidly growing country.

Turkey and Argentina both seem to be having problems with their currencies falling relative to the US dollar.

Another issue that makes flat worldwide per capita energy consumption unworkable is “diminishing returns” as resources become depleted. For example, wells for fresh water must be dug deeper, ores of metals include higher percentages of waste materials, and oil wells must be sunk in less convenient locations. These problems can be worked around, but they require increased energy consumption. All of these uses for energy products leave less for the rest of the economy. Thus, if we deduct the extra energy needed to compensate for diminishing returns, what at first looks like flat per capita energy consumption worldwide really equates to declining per capita energy consumption.

(6) Isn’t there anything that we can do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

The task of reducing carbon dioxide emissions is much more difficult than it appears to be, because the world economy requires energy consumption in order to operate.

The best thing I can see that an individual can do is reduce his or her consumption of meat and other animal products (fish, cheese, milk, leather). To offset, a major increase should be made in the consumption of vegetables that are filling to eat (such as potatoes, beets, carrots, beans, sweet potatoes, taro root, turnips, and corn). Some of these perhaps can be grown locally. Humans’ use of animal products adds to carbon dioxide levels, partly because of the quantity of food that needs to be grown and transported to feed the animals, and partly because of the direct emissions of some animals (including cattle, pigs, buffalo, chicken, sheep and goats).

In fact, cutting back on highly processed food of all sorts (particularly sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and oils) would seem to be worthwhile, as well. Growing, processing, and transporting the crops used in these highly processed foods all add to CO2 emissions.

Our problem is that we have grown attached to the flavors of these foods, and we have become convinced that they help us grow big and strong. While they may do this, they also set us up for problems in old age. Starchy vegetables have played a major role in the diets of long lived people. We may need to start giving them, and other less processed foods, a more prominent role again.











About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,749 Responses to Our Energy Problem Is a Quantity Problem

  1. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    another record:


    “Prices were pulled down by another rise in U.S. oil production, which hit a weekly record of 10.9 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.”

    it could be repeated that the surplus energy from this 10.9 is far less than the surplus energy from the old 1970 record production…

  2. Rodster says:

    “If current rates of global soil degradation continue, it’s estimated we may only have 60 years of farming left.”


    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      so then that’s a very minor present concern…

      most of us won’t even be here by then…

      “current rates” – and all trends eventually end…

      and the crashing reversal of the population overshoot will mean that the few tens or hundreds of millions of survivors will have plenty of (irradiated) soil to grow their food…

      • Rodster says:

        I posted this info on Peak Prosperity and an individual who runs a permaculture farm responded by saying that won’t affect permaculture farms.

        Oh, really? I’m sure the “Food Zombies” will be knocking on his families door once they realize it’s either starve to death or eat his food he’s grown or it’s eating rats, dogs or cats. He better have lots of firepower ready cause his family will need it. He needs to read up on societal collapses like in Venezuela or Argentina.

  3. Baby Doomer says:

    Israel condemned by the UN today..


  4. Rodster says:

    “The UN does not take into account that the injection of energy into human life, at present volumes, cannot possibly continue into the coming years. Therefore, the world’s population shall have to diminish at the pace at which the production of oil diminishes.

    The fall in the amount of energy injected into human life will have the effect of reducing the world’s population, just as the previous growth of energy input produced the growth of human population. The inevitable conclusion is that the years from here to 2100 will prove to be catastrophic for humanity.”


  5. Sven Røgeberg says:

    This is the English version of the video “trailer” that President Donald J. Trump showed Chairman Kim Jong Un during their historic summit on 6/12/18. This is a HQ rip from the official White House Facebook page, where they posted the video.
    I can’t believe it’s possible to produce this kind of kitsch. Thank you, now I have hope for the future.

  6. Pintada says:


    The FOMC simply does not know what is going on. They have drunk their own cool-aid.

    No, they are NOT in control.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      He who sets the interest rates and prints the reserve currency is in control.

      The only question I have is why would the owners of the Fed be raising rates when they can obviously see the world is drowning in debt — when they have — for 10 years now — engaged in bond buying on an epic scale for the purpose of DRIVING INTEREST RATES LOWER — so that this enormous pile of debt could be serviced.

      What do they know/see that I do not that is forcing their hand?

      Alternatively do they have another agenda? e.g. create a major crisis — as they did in 2008 by letting Lehman go down — then using the crisis to justify the introduction another slate of extreme policies?

    • That’s an uninformed and really preposterous statement as the post GFCI reaction has been revealed in quite technical detail during past several years, incl. the machinations of the other branches of that same global financial superstructure in Europe (BLICS) and also partly in Asia. So, it’s beyond reasonable doubt this is not about self-organizing non sense and or competing national politics only, but rather tightly coordinated action of specific monopolistic entity owning the world’s money (and the derivative universe) to put it shortly.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Well said — although I do still recognize the self-organizing aspect … it’s kinda like how a world cup team is self organizing … the players on the team got there because they were the best at scoring and defending … if they were not then other players with those skills would have made the team…

        And in terms of decisions made – if those players (Fed/football) — were not the best suited for the conditions … they would get knocked off by others who made better decisions

        The owners of the Fed understand this — that is why they leave no stones unturned…they employ teams of the greatest minds to model everything — just like the US military models everything — and they make decisions based on thorough research…. if we pull lever A … what happens … if we push button 4 what happens … see the Butterfly effect…

        They will of course not always be right … but they will not act on a policy without thinking it through… so far they have been mostly right — otherwise we would not be here…

        • theblondbeast says:

          I found this a good two part series on the FED and “independence” of central banks. I agree they have been pretty right so far – up until now when they are raising rates. I think their real mandate is the same at the end of the day: A combination of equal parts “whatever it takes” and “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

        • Yes, that sounds about right. Perhaps the early phase of forming such super structure of global money monopoly, could be pointed towards the period roughly spanning the end of 30yrs war ~1648 and the end of feudalism ~1848, plus minus few decades for some outliers, specific countries on their own pace. Because during that period we have already ample evidence of royal houses and proto industries dependent on the very same international banking houses, yet the control of the bankers is yet not “full spectrum” style complete as in recent centuries.

          • xabier says:

            In the 1660’s, the diarist Samuel Pepys met the founder of what became one of the oldest London banks who told him that politicians knew nothing, and that they should step aside and allow everything to be run by the bankers – who were the ones really running the show. Early days of the system, but already their intentions were clear.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If one ignores the propaganda telling us that the politicians or the deep state runs the show …

              It becomes pretty obvious that is is the central banks (mothership the Fed) that is running the show…

            • milan says:

              @ Xabier

              upon seeing the roaring 20’s the central,banker Paul Warburg was so full of contempt for politicians and said and rightly so:

              “The world lives in a fools paradise based upon fictitious wealth, rash promises and mad illusions. We must beware of booms based upon false prosperity which has its roots in inflated credits and prices.”

              For me no quote ever written surmises the insanity of what has been and is occurring than this one quote.

              Real estate is especially the prime example of this. In fact I have a friend who is losing his home because the landlord is selling it for 600,000 dollars and this after paying only 260,000 just 2 years ago. I imagine when the new owner takes over he will be expecting in a few years to do the same and were into what the millions?

              Politicians really don’t know what they are doing and never have though I guess there are a few exceptions here and there although I must they eventually are dispatched through mysterious circumstances?

        • el mar says:

          “They” are in control, until they are suprised by the next bifurcation-point!
          This can happen every day, triggerd by a black swan!

      • jupiviv says:

        There is a global financial superstructure, but it has no more control over the globe than the global transport/media/energy superstructure. Similar or interactive actions by various institutions on a large scale do not necessarily require preordained & predetermined conspiracies. All available evidence in the real world points in the opposite direction – that the finance sector is even more oblivious to reality than the average Joe.

        Of course, you can point out any number of instances of global control if you have an imaginative mind, but in my experience these tend to be conjunction fallacies aka “look at all the things that would be explained if…”

        • You have not provided any evidence..
          I linked *several times various hard data how the CBs across the pond +dubious entities chartered as tax heavens printed out and recycled trillions reserves in the wake of GFC and did it synchronized-coordinated fashion. More importantly look at the situation downstream from this (stock market, industrial, real estate, ..) then behaved accordingly to the desired outcome, i.e. kept the BAU going for a while longer..

          *not even mentioning the 101 basics of this site how CBs are on purpose smoothing the stalling prosperity since late/early 1970/80s.., Gail wrote about it numerous times already..

          • jupiviv says:

            Again, none of that proves unified control. The “desired outcome” in a global economic crisis is the same for everyone in a global economy, so cooperation and synchronisation is hardly surprising. You also seem to think BAU itself was near extinction during GFC, but if it was, mere money printing+austerity+moar bad speculation would have been useless.

            And the most obvious question is why “they” didn’t use all of their control much more prudently. There are elites and there is control, but neither is absolute or universal.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              They’ve done a great job — without prudent decisions we would have gone the way of the dodo in 2008

  7. Fast Eddy says:

    How to control the world:

    1 Own the reserve currency
    2. Control interest rates


  8. Baby Doomer says:

    Bond king Jeff Gundlach sounds alarm on America’s ‘exploding’ debt


    • Harry Gibbs says:

      And world population is growing at around 1.1% annually, so there is a per capita increase. Which is kind of comforting – but of course that per capita increase is predicated on the addition of unsustainable quantities of debt and increasingly problematic forms of financialisation.

      • theblondbeast says:

        If we didn’t increase debt, how would the money supply increase in order to allow more spending in a larger economy?

    • Sven Røgeberg says:

      Would be interesting to hear Gail comment on the BO report when she is back from the conference.

    • Rodster says:

      “The UN does not take into account that the injection of energy into human life, at present volumes, cannot possibly continue into the coming years. Therefore, the world’s population shall have to diminish at the pace at which the production of oil diminishes.

      The fall in the amount of energy injected into human life will have the effect of reducing the world’s population, just as the previous growth of energy input produced the growth of human population. The inevitable conclusion is that the years from here to 2100 will prove to be catastrophic for humanity.”


    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      “World energy consumption grew by 2.2% in 2017.”

      okay, but who used this additional 2.2%?

      did the families of the upper 1% or 10% use it all?

      or did they use more than the 2.2%?

      and if so, how much of an energy decrease was there for the bottom 90%?

      so many questions…

      so few answers…

  9. Baby Doomer says:

    I emailed: Dr Mamdouh G. Salameh
    International Oil Economist / World Bank Consultant

    And asked him when do you think global peak oil will occur?

    And he replied by 2028


    • Fast Eddy says:

      So the economy implodes before oil supply peaks….

      • Baby Doomer says:

        IMO the collapse will happen in one of three ways..

        1..The economy will collapse on it’s own naturally..

        2. Global oil production will peak and oil shortages will collapse the world economy..

        3. Some sort of major conflict or war will collapse the world economy..

        One of these three things will likely happen within the next decade..which one? who knows..If I had to bet I would say number two is most likely..

    • Thanks for that email and previews post where Dr. Salameh talks about nascent petro-yuan, euro, and barter deals.. Interesting acknowledgement from such WB affiliated guy, although it’s doubtful this will make a difference prior late 2020s. Simply Russia, China, Iran (+other potential partners) were not able to phase in meaningful alternative during 2000-2010s.. So, it looks like we might hit directly into GFCII within the current system as it stands, the maneuvering time-space seems very limited.

  10. Billy in Texas says:

    I have been reading this site for a long time, and I do appreciate Gail’s articles and all the comments. My one criticism is that no one seems to explain any scientific analysis why solar and wind won’t allow a general increase in available energy. The only question that really matters is whether solar and wind EROEI is above about 4 or not. There are many scientific papers showing solar EROEI at 10 and wind at 20, but I discount those large numbers. Granted, those are intermittent EROEI numbers. There are a lot of people trying to figure the best storage technologies right now and many existing technologies can store 60-70% of the intermittent energy, but for sake of argument, let’s assume storage will reduce the intermittent energy by 50%. That means, that solar EROEI is 5 and wind is 10 on a levelized, non-intermittent, basis. With those EROEI numbers, humans can run our existing society and keep expanding for a long time without hydrocarbons. If you do the math, the USA can provide all its current energy needs using solar alone with just 1-2% of available land area. I understand most people on this site are convinced doom is around the corner, but if you do the math using existing technology, it’s apparent that solar and wind can eventually grow to replace hydrocarbons. It is just a matter of time. By the way, I work in the oil and gas industry and my livelihood depends on hydrocarbons, but I have read the scientific articles and reviewed the math. With enough time and investment, solar and wind can replace hydrocarbon energy and power our society into the future including growth.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Billy – fortunately for you I am here to help.

      Let me know if you have any further questions

      Renewable energy ‘simply won’t work’: Top Google engineers

      Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

      Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or “technology” of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company.

      Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear.

      All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.

      In reality, well before any such stage was reached, energy would become horrifyingly expensive – which means that everything would become horrifyingly expensive (even the present well-under-one-per-cent renewables level in the UK has pushed up utility bills very considerably).


      Replacement of oil by alternative sources

      While oil has many other important uses (lubrication, plastics, roadways, roofing) this section considers only its use as an energy source. The CMO is a powerful means of understanding the difficulty of replacing oil energy by other sources. SRI International chemist Ripudaman Malhotra, working with Crane and colleague Ed Kinderman, used it to describe the looming energy crisis in sobering terms.[13] Malhotra illustrates the problem of producing one CMO energy that we currently derive from oil each year from five different alternative sources. Installing capacity to produce 1 CMO per year requires long and significant development.

      Allowing fifty years to develop the requisite capacity, 1 CMO of energy per year could be produced by any one of these developments:

      4 Three Gorges Dams,[14] developed each year for 50 years, or
      52 nuclear power plants,[15] developed each year for 50 years, or
      104 coal-fired power plants,[16] developed each year for 50 years, or
      32,850 wind turbines,[17][18] developed each year for 50 years, or
      91,250,000 rooftop solar photovoltaic panels[19] developed each year for 50 years

      The world consumes approximately 3 CMO annually from all sources. The table [10] shows the small contribution from alternative energies in 2006.


    • It’s kind of the “curse of the sandbox” we happen to live in.. Most of the current
      advanced civ has been situated under influence of northerly climate/weather patterns, were wind and solar are useless without expensive(negative productivity) backup for the grid..which must buffer days or rather weeks of capacity.

      There seems to be nowadays only one industrial scale way out, and that’s burning wider array of oxides in nuclear reactors, only Russia has got the program running; and with the combo of their natgas, arctic oil, and coal resources, they might extend BAU, kind of the Byzantine (East Roman Empire) shtick v2.0 way, but it’s doubtful they won’t be affected by everybody else around them going under fast (not only for JITs, ).. especially the crazies..

    • Yorchichan says:

      There are a lot of people trying to figure the best storage technologies right now and many existing technologies can store 60-70% of the intermittent energy, but for sake of argument, let’s assume storage will reduce the intermittent energy by 50%. That means, that solar EROEI is 5 and wind is 10 on a levelized, non-intermittent, basis.

      I’m not sure what you mean when you write that storage will reduce the intermittent energy by 50%. Do you mean 50% of the intermittent energy can be stored? If so, it would not follow from this that EROEI figures for generation plus storage can then be calculated by halving the intermittent EROEI figures. Adding the cost of the storage will do much more than double the initial cost of the windmill or solar panel meaning the effect on EROEI is a lot more than to ‘merely’ halve it. As FE has written above, the cost of storage makes solar and wind power prohibitively expensive.

    • Mike Roberts says:

      You can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. So the last sentence of yours is wrong, unless you’re referring to some short time interval. As for renewables replacing non-renewables. That hasn’t yet happened at all. Non-renewables are required to construct renewables. I haven’t seen any research that goes into the complete calculation of what it would take for renewables to replace non-renewables, including the resources needed for such a build-out and the environmental impact of doing so (you’ll never get away without environmental impact).

      At some point, this technological civilisation goes away. It’s just a matter of time.

    • One of the EROEI issues is that there is a societal threshold for needed EROEI. Charles Hall has estimated that at 10:1; I think that that is too low. Debt levels started spiraling out of control when oil prices rose above $20 per barrel, in 2018$. At that point, oil EROEI was probably up in the 50:1 ratio. So we are arguing about low, very low, and way way too low EROI.

      Another is that when storage has been evaluated, it has had a huge impact on EROEI of solar. This is one exhibit I put together, based on the work of Graham Palmer. It pretty much wipes out any benefit at all (if it makes any sense at all to look at an EROEI of 1:1. EROEI calculations look at only a little piece of energy that goes into making the devices).

      There is a third issue, and that is that the EROEI methodology is really not suited to wind and solar. They have a lot of cost issues, and indirectly these are energy-related, but they are not considered at all. A lot of these costs are hard to measure. Too many analysts have tried to assume that other electricity-producing companies could be expected to subsidize wind and solar, without compensation. This is a good way to wreck the whole electrical grid system.

      If an energy product were really producing a lot of surplus energy to benefit the economy, we would be seeing a great deal of evidence of this. For one thing, governments would be collecting high taxes from companies making these energy products. We are seeing all kinds of subsidies instead. This by itself should tell us that we have a major problem.

      Another point is that the real issue is obtaining an an adequate quantity of energy; EROEI does not look at this at all. What happens in practice is countries find out how much wind and solar cost to subsidize and how disruptive they are to the grid, and they back away after a few years. China is the latest country to back away from solar. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/chinas-bombshell-solar-policy-could-cut-capacity-20-gigawatts#gs.8rsuIzM

      The country’s National Energy Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance released new guidance that terminates any approvals for new subsidized utility-scale PV power stations in 2018.

      China will also reduce its feed-in tariff for projects by RMB 0.05 per kilowatt-hour (a fraction of a U.S. cent), cap distributed project size at 10 gigawatts (down from 19 gigawatts), and mandate that utility-scale projects go through auctions to set power prices. Projects connected to the grid past June 1 will not receive feed-in tariffs.

      In all, the changes will significantly chill growth in a country that’s driving the global solar market.

      • Mike Roberts says:

        A minor point. I agree that 10:1 is probably too low but I seem to recall that was a figure which Richard Heinberg proposed and I think that he quoted Charles Hall as suggesting it might be 5:1, though that may have been for a basic civilisation. For a subsistence lifestyle, my feeling is that it would not need to be much more than 1:1, though I’d bet no-one, or not many, would want to live in a society at less than 10:1.

        • 1:1 can be summed up very simply

          you only eat what you can catch or find—it really is that basic and simple

          you wear no clothes, because clothing appropriates the surplus of another species–whether plant or animal, as does fire btw—burning stuff also uses surplus from elsewhere

        • The 10:1 figure was a figure Charles Hall had come up with looking at animals, and how much of the food energy they were able to gather could be used simply for catching the prey. The rest had to be used for all of the metabolic processes and reproduction. Richard Heinberg is an educator, not a researcher. He reads what Charles Hall and others write.

          The problem in calculating “energy at the wellhead” or energy going into making a solar panel is that is clearly only a small part of all the energy that is needed for the system. The difference between (Energy Out) and (A Small Portion of Energy In) is referred to as (Net Energy), but this leads to a lot of misunderstandings. I don’t think this naming convention should ever have been used.

          • Mike Roberts says:

            Of course Heinberg uses the work of others for his analyses. It doesn’t make the analyses invalid, though. The figures I saw were in his book “Searching for a Miracle”. Diagram 2 mentions Charles Hall’s figure of 5:1, without endorsing it. Elsewhere, he refers to a different source for 10:1 for an industrial society.

            The actual figure is probably something that can’t be maintained for much longer, anyway, so the point is probably moot, but your figure set off a recollection, that’s all.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Given Heinberg is a clueless idi ot I would dismiss his comments — there is no such thing as a basic level… aka BAU Lite

  11. Sungr says:

    The western financial system generates just mountains and mountains of this financial insanity- charts, graphs, obscure metrics, byzantine derivative schemes, etc. Most of this stuff is heavily manipulated and has no predictive value .

    We have been running on near zero interest rates most of time since 2001- and this has resulted in a massively distorted financial system. which is no longer capable of even it’s most basic function- allocation of resources.

    And we really can no longer accept that the western financial system is even capable of ascertaining market risk ie in terms of cost of money.

    And it’s just a waste of time to constantly examine these financial metrics in microscopic detail.

    • Well, yes and no.
      When examining these proverbial casts of shadows from financial metrics manipulation being debated by some of the players, we might eventually get some scoop about what is in fact the planned response for post GFCII world. I guess it would not be that bad to learn about it obviously in some rough contours..

      • xabier says:

        It is always worth holding one’s finger up to the wind…..

        But, of course, most financial analysis in the media is quite worthless.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The charade is up … few believe the lies… most are just waiting for the deluge now….

  12. Baby Doomer says:

    Let start with the unknowns: Saudi proven reserves, Saudi current production capacity and depletion rate at Saudi major producing oilfields including the giant Ghawar. Saudi Arabia claims to have proven reserves of 266.5 billion barrels of oil (bb). However, this figure is disputed by many world experts. I, for one, estimate remaining Saudi oil reserves at 70-80 bb taking into account Saudi oil production since the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia in 1938 and any possible additions to reserves since then whether physically or as a result of improving technologies. And while Saudi Arabia claims that it can produce at least 12.5 million barrels a day (mbd) if needed, that claim is yet to be tested by market circumstances. Saudi Arabia’s production never exceeded 10.4 mbd before. Still, the Saudis claim they have a spare capacity of some 2 mbd though no one has really assessed it . Saudi oil production peaked many years ago with depletion rates in its major oilfields including Ghawar estimated at 5%-7%. Ghawar accounts for more than 50% of current Saudi production.

    A depletion rate of that magnitude means that Saudi Arabia has to add annually some 500,000-700,000 barrels a day (b/d) to maintain current oil production. This has not been happenings to all intents and purposes. To the question as to whether Saudi Arabia could prevent a future oil crisis, my answer is that it is very doubtful based on the aforementioned analysis. Still, nobody is paying enough attention to the fast-approaching oil supply gap. This is due in large part to an oil investment drought marked by three years of consecutive decline in oil prices, a statistic that has no precedent in the oil industry. By 2020, 15 mbd of new oil supply may be needed to meet a projected annual average rise in global oil demand of 1.59 mbd and also offset an annual natural depletion rate in global oil production estimated by the IEA at 5% or 4.8 mbd, virtually equivalent to losing the current output of Iraq. According to the IEA, the world needs $44 trillion in investment in global energy supply between now and 2040 to meet the coming global energy needs with 60% or $26 trillion allocated for oil and gas production and supply. Even Russia and Saudi Arabia abandoning the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut deal can’t add 15 mbd to global oil supplies by 2020.

    Saudi Arabia has been asked by President Trump to see to it that OPEC increases its oil production by 1 mbd to replace any shortfall in Iran’s oil exports as a result of the forthcoming US sanctions. First, I am convinced that Iran will not lose a single barrel of its oil exports as a result of US forthcoming sanctions for two reasons. One is that the European Union (EU) has already indicated that it will stay in the Iran nuclear deal and will not comply with US sanctions and will, therefore, continue to import Iranian oil. The second reason is that Iran will be using the petro-yuan for its oil exports to China, the euro for its exports to the EU and barter trade with Turkey, Russia and India virtually neutralizing US sanctions. Second, were Saudi Arabia to accede to President Trump’s request, it will be risking unravelling the OPEC deal that has brought an end to the glut in the global oil market and pushed on prices to $80 and also inflicting huge damage again on the Saudi economy which is already bleeding blood and money in the war in Yemen. Russian President Putin is committed to the OPEC deal and his strategic relations with Saudi Arabia. He will, however, withdraw from the deal if Saudi Arabia accedes to President Trump’s request.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe
    Business School, London

  13. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The propaganda is always laid on the heaviest just ahead of The Fall. The [US] employment report showing sub-4%, with nearly 96 million working age people not considered part of the labor Force, is possibly the penultimate fabrication.

    “Consumer spending is more than 70% of the GDP. A toxic consequence of the Fed’s money printing and near-zero interest rate policy over the last 10 years is the artificial inflation of economic activity fueled by indiscriminate credit creation.

    “But now the majority of American households, over 75% of which do not have enough cash in the bank to cover an emergency expense, have become over-bloated from gorging at the Fed’s debt trough.

    “As credit usage slows down or contracts, the economy will go off Bernanke’s Cliff much sooner than Helicopter Ben’s 2020 forecast…

    “The Keynesian economic model – as it is applied in the current era to stimulate consumer spending – requires debt issuance to increase at an increasing rate. But as you can see, the rate of credit usage is decreasing. The affects are already reflected by a rapid slowdown in retail, auto and home sales. Most American households are saturated with debt.

    “The real fun begins as many of these households begin to default. In fact, the delinquency and default rate, in what is supposed to be a healthy economy, on subprime credit card loans and auto debt already exceeds the delinquency/default rate in 2008. Perhaps Bernanke’s Cliff is just around the next bend in the trail…”


    • jupiviv says:

      @Harry, I haven’t interacted with you much, but I would like to echo WHOTG’s sentiments above. Your daily updates are appreciated.

  14. Harry Gibbs says:

    “UK wage growth fell short of expectations in April, raising further doubts over whether the Bank of England will raise interest rates this summer.”


    • Harry Gibbs says:

      “Job hiring confidence in the United Kingdom’s crucial financial services sector has sunk into negative territory for the first time since the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, according to a survey compiled by the recruitment firm ManpowerGroup.”


      • Harry Gibbs says:

        “German investor confidence weakened in June as sluggish economic demand and fears over the new Italian government exacerbated global trade tensions to drive business outlook to its lowest ebb in nearly six years, research group ZEW said on Tuesday.”


        • Harry Gibbs says:

          ” any further significant [capital] outflow from Italy could raise Germany’s creditor balance well beyond the highly politically sensitive EUR 1 trillion mark. If that were to occur, there would be little appetite in Germany to engage in the large-scale bailing out of a country that flagrantly flouted the eurozone’s rules of the game… the last thing that Italy can afford is a major pick-up in capital flight that could bring on a full-blown Italian banking crisis.”


          • Thanks for these updates.

            The question remains the same though, should we be worried about ~trillions~ at this stage at all? The game of “anything goes” advanced since pre GFCI markedly, now to the era of potential pre GFCII tremors. Perhaps the next act will just up the game with dozens of trillions of global scale support in aggregate, so what? when cunningly executed, i.e. keeping most of the superstructure and debtor-peon relationship intact.

            As we have seen recently, e.g. China is still playing it in calm mode, just receiving yet another incoming hits like agreeing to trade (in)balance measures demanding by the US etc.

            Simply, we are not there yet by a long shot, cornered animals and or fatally wounded animals would behave quite differently.

            • Harry Gibbs says:

              You are welcome!

            • jupiviv says:

              “The question remains the same though, should we be worried about ~trillions~ at this stage at all?”

              As I see it GFC1 was a crisis of faith in return on debt, and it was resolved by denying certain sections of the population the returns they expected.

              GFC2 will likely be the same thing, but this time even more of the unwashed shall crash against the brick wall of denial. Timeline? Definitely on a Monday. Seriously though, likely the next US election farce at the latest.

          • xabier says:

            I wonder how Erdogan will spin this to the dumb peasants who vote for the New Ottoman Empire?

            And will the Germans realise that they can’t forever cruise on the destruction of Southern Europe, giving absurd moral lectures on the way?

  15. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The Turkish central bank managed to halt the free-fall of the country’s currency last week with a sharp rise in interest rates. But the move failed to stop the free-fall of Turkey’s equity market and – far more dangerous – the collapse of the credit quality of Turkey’s banks…

    “Turkey’s Istanbul 30 stock market index meanwhile has fallen by 35% in US dollar terms since August 29, 2017. Its most vulnerable lender, Halk Bank, lost 63% of its US dollar value in the same period and now trades at 40% of book value.

    “Turkey’s banks are shut out of world capital markets, and the country is hard put to raise the US$50 billion in new hard currency it needs to finance a current account deficit running at around 6% of GDP. Turkish businesses have about US$300 billion in foreign currency debt, and the cost of servicing it has nearly doubled in local-currency terms due to the lira’s depreciation since 2015. The banks will have trouble rolling over their existing short-term borrowings in hard currency, and trouble collecting loan payments from customers crushed by the collapse of the lira….

    “During the past two years, the short-term debt of Halk Bank and Garanti Bank, combined, has risen four-fold, from about 20 billion lira to 80 billion lira…

    “What happens next probably is what happened to Greece during its financial collapse. Its largest financial institution, Alpha Bank, borrowed massively in the short-term market. When the crisis hit, Alpha couldn’t roll over its debt and had to repay its short-term loans. Its stock now trades at around 35% of book value, about the same as Halk Bank.

    “When Greek credit collapsed, the economy shrank by 25%. In Turkey’s case, a 10%-20% overall economic contraction is quite possible. The political consequences of an economic disaster of that magnitude are hard to fathom…”


    “Jordan faces huge economic challenges, with many refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria in the country. With few natural resources Jordan has long been dependent on outside benefactors including the United States and the European Union.”


    “As real US interest rates and the dollar have risen, investors have been pulling money from emerging markets. There has been about $10bn of outflows from EM debt and shares over the past six weeks, according to analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Portfolio managers are detecting vulnerabilities in several Asian countries, including India and Indonesia… the amount of Chinese corporate debt sold in dollars has risen sharply and is now above the 2014 peak.”


  16. Harry Gibbs says:

    “More than a dozen of the world’s biggest banks have slipped into a bear market, highlighting risks to the global economy even as equity indices reach new highs and the Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates…

    “The synchronised dips were a sign of global financial stress, said Ian Harnett, managing director of global strategy at Absolute Strategy Research in London, who this week used the data to send out his first “Black Swan” alert since 2009.”


  17. Fast Eddy says:

    Amid threats from government politicians that “the time for reconciliation is over”, there were 74 farm murders and 638 attacks primarily on white farmers last year, according to minority rights group AfriForum.

    Sky News is reporting that White South African farmers – who are facing the brunt of the president’s “land redistribution” efforts amid a surge in violent attacks against them – are employing an Israeli self-defense expert to teach them survival techniques.


    All I can say is…. good luck with that


    • In the mean time you can always delay sort of BAUize the situation a bit before both the incremental or sudden phase shift changes to the worse.
      I do my part, as I’m buying SA wines..

  18. Fast Eddy says:

    Take Pride in being a Human!

    And keep in mind — all the ‘geniuses’ who have delivered great advances in technology — are at the forefront of this mission to dominate the planet and kill off every other species

    Celebrate Edison and Gates and Jobs – they are our heroes in the battle against everything else

    But Packham’s focus is on all animal life. Since he first became passionate about birds, in 1970, Britain has lost 90 million wild birds, with the turtle dove population down a whopping 95% since 1990. The turtle doves are now hurtling towards extinction. The State of Nature 2016 report described Britain as being “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.” The report contained scientific data and statistics from more than 50 conservation and research organizations. That data has revealed that 40% of all species are in moderate or steep decline.


  19. Fast Eddy says:

    The publication of Albert Einstein’s private diaries detailing his tour of Asia in the 1920s reveals the theoretical physicist and humanitarian icon’s racist attitudes to the people he met on his travels, particularly the Chinese.

    Written between October 1922 and March 1923, the diaries see the scientist musing on his travels, science, philosophy and art. In China, the man who famously once described racism as “a disease of white people” describes the “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” he observes. He notes how the “Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.” After earlier writing of the “abundance of offspring” and the “fecundity” of the Chinese, he goes on to say: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”


    • Tim Groves says:

      A guy goes on a trip, encounters numerous examples of industrious, filthy, obtuse people, describes them in his diary as “industrious, filthy, obtuse people”. A century later, a Libtardian scribbler accuses the guy of “shocking xenophobia”.

      The Libtardians have led sheltered lives. Obviously they’ve never read Ralph Townsend’s Ways that are Dark.


      Nor have they watched The Sand Pebbles.


      • Fast Eddy says:

        Recall that when the Japanese first encountered Europeans they described them as a filthy vile race of barbarians….

        • Fast Eddy says:

          And we ain’t seen nothin yet… wait till the power goes off… and the hot water tank runs dry….

        • xabier says:

          Which is exactly what the Chinese thought about the Japs.

          And what the Iranians thought about the Arabs.

          And the Arabs about the Berbers.

          And the Berbers about black Africans.

          And what every tribe thinks about every other tribe.

          I call it ‘Disgusting! Those people actually eat melons!’ Syndrome, after the old Basque farmer shocked by Andalusian cuisine…..

        • xabier says:

          Of course, after a long voyage, they probably were pretty damn filthy.

          • Tim Groves says:

            These days the young Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists on the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto look and dress very much alike. I find it difficult to tell them apart until they start talking, or eating.

            One old-fashioned Japanese pejorative for Europeans that is now frowned on as racist is Nanbanjin literally meaning “Southern Barbarian”. Personally, I think it has a nice ring to it. Plus, it was accurate to the extent that when the Portuguese and Dutch sailed to Japan they would arrive from the South, and they had to be trained to remove their shoes when entering a house. Another friendly Japanese nickname for us whites is Keto, “Hairy Foreigners”.

      • doomphd says:

        McQueen: “live steam, hot!”
        superb movie.

  20. Yoshua says:

    I had a heated conversation with my female neighbor today:

    Yoshua: Women are complicated!

    Leyla: No we are not! It’s either yes or no or maybe!

    Yoshua: Maybe?

    Leyla: Yes, and then we negotiate about it.

    Yoshua: We men always lose a negotiation with a woman.

    Leyla: So?

    Yoshua: Exactly my point!

    Leyla: No it isn’t!

    • xabier says:

      Very simple: don’t negotiate with a woman – instruct her.

      Take the advice of a divorced man. 🙂

  21. I currently have an opening for a volunteer to help with pre-reading my posts, before they are published. Part of the purpose of doing this is to catch typos. Part of the purpose is to see things that may not be obvious–when I am saying the opposite of what I mean, or use the wrong date (2014 instead of 1914, for example), or am using American slang that may not be understandable to readers from other countries. Also, to point out sections that need rewriting for clarity, or are just plain wrong.

    I have a small number of people helping me with pre-reading posts. Each contributes different kinds of thoughts and ideas. One of my faithful, quick turn-around people now has other commitments, so I have an opening.

    I am located in the US East Coast, and frequently finish a draft in the evening. It would be helpful if the reviewer is in a different time zone (United Kingdom, for example) so that differences in time zones would work to our advantage.

    • Send me an e-mail at GailTverberg at comcast dot net. Put “Proofreader” in the subject. I get a lot of junk mail, and my not notice otherwise.

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        “… and may not notice otherwise.” 😉

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I’d like to say I’d take the job … however the edited copy would be filled with …. —– ….. ——— links to crazed images and vulgar articles…. non-existent grammar… improper spelling …. and so on …..

  22. I will be leaving for the Biophysical Economics Conference at Wells College in western New York tomorrow morning, so may not be available as much the next few days.

    • Harry Gibbs says:

      Good luck!

    • Artleads says:

      Hope you can startle them awake.

      • We will see. Dennis Meadows was scheduled to speak, but he wrote today that he would not be able to make the trip. It is possible he will be able to give his presentation by Skype or another long-distance service. I sent him a copy of my presentation, and he seemed happy to get it.

  23. i1 says:

    rut roh

  24. Third World person says:

    btw didn’t white nationalists in usa some times ago said Jews will not replaced us

    instead that they should have said this Mexican cartels will not defeated us

  25. Third World person says:

    The Child Soldiers Of Mexico’s Drug Gangs
    Generation Z: How a generation of Mexican children are becoming embroiled in a dangerous drug-fuelled paramilitary conflict.

    Along the US-Mexico border, the notorious cartel gang ‘The Zetas’ are increasingly recruiting child soldiers. This report investigates this terrifying aspect of the drug wars that have raged the border.

    “When you drive around you see lots of houses with black ribbons”, explains a guide in the border town of Nuevo Laredo. “This means someone who lived there has died. Most of the deaths are young people killed in this cruel war.” For decades, hundreds of teenagers have been drawn into the violent world of drug smuggling and murder, sent to the frontline in battles against rival cartels and the Mexican army. “It’s easy to pull the trigger. But the moment you do that, your life changes fast. Why? Because you’ve got blood on your hands”, explains a man who joined The Zetas at thirteen years old. Reta, who was trained at a military training camp in Mexico as a teenager, is now serving an eighty year sentence for murder. The fierce reputation of leader Miguel Travino, along with a strong media presence, solidified the image of The Zetas as ultra-violent criminals, idolised by teenage wannabes and feared by many. Now diversion programs have reduced felony crimes in the area by 48%, but for those who were recruited by the gang, life will never be the same. As Reta’s ex-wife reflects, “They programmed him to just be heartless, a heartless killer

    Americans you will have a Mexican Taliban on yours doorstep
    in near future when mexico will be collapse

    • Third World person says:

      btw Mexican cartels was created by cia to destroyed mexico

      now Americans you reap what sow

    • Sungr says:

      Why don’t you tell us what is going on in your home country? How are peakoil,/climate change/ economic collapse playing out in your area?

      Inquring minds want to know…..

      • Third World person says:

        peak oil has happened in 2010 in my country [india]

        economic collapse has starting since demonetization of notes in 2016

        climate change is gonna Screw my country

        • When I visited Mumbai in in 2012 and spoke at an energy conference there, the speakers from India were all interested in increasing their fossil fuel use. They were fed up with burning animal dung and wood for cooking. Using coal for cooking wasn’t good, either. They all created too much smoke. They wanted “modern” gas for cooking their food.

          I visited a home outside Mumbai. They had a television and a light bulb or two, but no refrigerator. With intermittent electricity, refrigerators didn’t do much good. They also had no bathroom. They had to get what water the used from a central place once a day, when it was available, and carry it back in large jugs.


          India is importing an increasing amount of energy. It has to borrow money to afford the coal and other fuels it imports. This is part of its problem.


          • xabier says:

            This is why city life sounds great to a real peasant, an end to back-breaking labour.

            And above all for women – fetching water, fuel, and lengthy food preparation.

            Hobby Permaculture it ain’t……

            • xabier says:

              The Indian lady in the photo is as beautiful and noble as a caryatid on a Greek temple.

              But soon she’ll be a wreck, aged long before her time by the basic tasks of life. This is why the ancient nomads (Turks, Iranians, Mongols) looked down on farmers and called them sheep to be sheared and herded.

              C H Smith, with the split-brain, should think about that when he day-dreams about a ‘human-scale’ world.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              And yet we have 65 year old doomie preppers… who really do not have the slightest clue about what life without electricity and petrol will be like … because they refuse to take the FE Challenge.

              They’ll break down physically… and mentally … within a week.

              100% Guaranteed.

            • Karl says:

              My wife is of Indian descent, so I hang around a lot of Indian-americans. You can tell immediately who grew up in America and who grew up in India. The India born Indians all look much older than their age. Especially once past 25 or so. I dunno if it’s the sun, the diet, or just the harder life. It’s really clear. Also, most of the guys from my father-in-laws generation (That moved here for college) are dropping dead in their 60s. I think its just the wear and tear from a harder life over there.

            • Karl says:

              Come to think of it, were I grew up was full of Croatian immigrants, and most of them looked aged beyond their years too. Most lived through the Balkan wars. I think that the stress must be the culprit……

            • doomphd says:

              wow, i hope it’s not from eating spicy Indian food, which i love. i can’t get enough here, so maybe it’ll prolong my life??

    • Artleads says:

      Thanks for the post. Truthful news is hard to come by in my region. BTW, what’s meant by “diversion programs?”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Doomie preppers have magical bubbles around their farms… people like this cannot get in … nor can disease or radiation

  26. Harry Gibbs says:

    Some rarely heard common sense:

    “They [Peter Dittus, former Secretary General of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), and Herve Hamoun, the former Deputy General Manager of BIS, warn that the unprecedented asset price bubble engineered by G7 central banks is a ticking time bomb that is ready to burst, after seven years of near zero interest rates and speculative excesses in bonds, stocks and real estate…

    “Here is the dilemma: G7 central bank’ policy normalisation is the only option consistent with their mandate and with a return to the rules of a market economy. But when G7 Central Banks eventually exit from their unconventional policies, they will contribute to the bursting of the asset price bubbles engendered by their monetary experiment.

    “This could well be the worst financial crisis ever experienced, as the level of debt and the artificial level of asset prices have no precedent.”


    • In their book they partly validate Gail’s thesis on the growing gap between GDP growth vs real income stalling since 1970s, also mention arms expenditures as eating into the available pile of resources, plus they talk a lot of global werming..

      The Ticking Time Bombs of the G7 Model
      by Peter Dittus and Hervé Hannoun

      That’s just based on the reviews, don’t have the book at hand, but it seems as just another plausible deniability/propaganda job of the upper nomenclature/insiders. Always revealing only few bits of the mosaic not attempting the deliver full picture.. Could be wrong, but that’s my sense of it so far.

  27. Harry Gibbs says:

    “Escalating trade tensions are posing an increasing threat to the global economy, the head of the International Monetary Fund has warned.

    “”The clouds on the horizon … are getting darker by the day,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said at a news conference in Berlin on Monday.

    “”The biggest and darkest cloud that we see is the deterioration in confidence that is prompted by [the] attempt to challenge the way in which trade has been conducted, in which relationships have been handled and the way in which multilateral organizations have been operating” she said.

    “Her comments follow the acrimonious end to the G7 summit in Quebec this weekend in which President Donald Trump attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade…”


    • Harry Gibbs says:

      “President Donald Trump’s shortened stint at the G7 summit threw the international trading order into chaos and most likely put the US on the path to a trade war.”


      • Or maybe world energy supply that is not growing fast enough caused this effect

      • Lastcall says:

        The banks are only there to allocate/command the resources of the only real bank that matters; Mother nature. As this blog points out, this ‘resource bank’ is finite and struggling to deliver easy ‘cash’, so we have gone from withdrawing real wealth to issuing IOU’s. Its a life being lived more and more on tick.
        If the technology boys fail to deliver the miracle soon then we see globalisation continue to slide and trade return to essentials only, and be bartering at best. Tick Tock….!

    • Hm, this supports the sub scenario in which is Donaldo with his band/faction of america-firsters on purpose brought forward to be pinned for GFCII, hence easing in the spectacularly harsh policies which would follow in response..

      Not the highest on my preliminary list, but it’s still one of the major scenarios out there.

  28. Harry Gibbs says:

    “The British economy is showing the greatest signs of stress since the eurozone crisis and fears of a double-dip recession six years ago, as worrying reports show the steepest fall in manufacturing output and the greatest degrees of pessimism among employers since 2012.”


  29. Lastcall says:

    I’ve been doing it all wrong!!!

    ‘The Preppi line starts with a three-day, two person emergency bag for just $445 (you can monogram it for an additional $75). It has all the critical basics, including Malin+Goetz grapefruit face cleanser, Vitamin E Face Moisturizer, Bergamot Body Cleanser, Vitamin b5 Body Moisturizer, Peppermint Shampoo and Cilantro Conditioner…..’

    ‘But really, that is roughing it. Fortunately, Preppi also purveys a $4,995 Ultra Deluxe Emergency Bag which includes the basics plus Satellite phone, night vision glasses, solar panels, a full size tent, sleeping bags, and most importantly, the Preppi Caviar Cooler Case and serving set……’


  30. Lastcall says:

    About that last supper – there appears to have been a peak in human height.

    Gail states; ‘Our problem is that we have grown attached to the flavors of these foods, and we have become convinced that they help us grow big and strong. While they may do this, they also set us up for problems in old age. Starchy vegetables have played a major role in the diets of long lived people. We may need to start giving them, and other less processed foods, a more prominent role again.

    And we can read;

    ‘On the other hand, in recent years it has been observed that despite simultaneous ongoing economic development, in many countries human height is declining again. Most worrisome perhaps is the rapid pace at which human height is declining in these nations. In some countries, decades of progress has been eradicated in a few years.’

    ‘Finally, the main and most important factor to be considered would have to be be a drastic reduction in the quality of people’s diet. If people’s diet has become less diverse, they would be expected to suffer a variety of nutrient deficiencies that impact their growth. Fresh fruit and vegetables are difficult to store and thus rather expensive. Urbanization may lead people to grow dependent on a much worse diet.’


    • Fast Eddy says:

      So NBA centres will be 6 foot instead of 7 foot…. just lower the hoop and nobody will notice

    • xabier says:

      That’s exactly what happened throughout Europe in the 19th century: even if those arrived from rural districts wanted, and knew how to, cook better food, the towns offered them an inferior diet, cooking facilities were often not available to the poorest, and the town tradesmen frequently adulterated what they offered. Inferior nutrition, poisoned ingredients!

    • Thanks! And Netherlands seems to have people with amazing height. Human bodies seem to be able to accommodate a range of diets, at least to some extent.

      Humans seem to have a desire for concentrated calories of some type. That sets us up for problems, if the food industry provides us with the possibility of concentrated calories with little nutrition attached. If wage disparity becomes a problem, the poor people especially look for a source of cheap calories.

      I don’t know that there are perfect answers for everyone everywhere. For example, we keep reading that the rice we buy in the US has arsenic. Brown rice is quite a bit worse than white. We should wash it well before eating it, but even that does not solve the problem.

      It really takes a lot of research, plus a diverse diet.

  31. Fast Eddy says:

    Punch like a limp wristed girl… and still win

  32. Duncan Idaho says:

    Larry Kudlow Suffers Heart Attack

    Hope he isn’t doing lines again– never good for a user.

  33. Baby Doomer says:

    Oil Kingdom In Crisis: Saudi Royal Family Rift Turns Violent

    Gregory Copley, of Defense & Foreign Affairs, noted on December 12, 2017: “Saudi Arabia now appears to have moved beyond the point of recovery, and could collapse at any time into internal conflict or fracturing.” On October 8, 2015, he noted: “Concerns are growing within Saudi Arabia that the Kingdom is facing systemic challenges which could see its break-up within a decade or two.”

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was reported to have been struck by at least two rounds.


    As Matthew Simmons said “As goes Saudi Arabia goes the world”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Family Feud

    • Lastcall says:

      The centre cannot hold…

      ‘Today, we have three four-star generals, a dozen three star generals and admirals, aircraft carrier battle groups, and more than 100,000 troops in the region. ‘

      ‘Military engagement on this scale halfway around the world is expensive in dollar terms, and even more importantly, in the lives of the casualties of our interventions there. And the extensive military deployments to the region have other negative effects. Because we need bases and other forms of support, we sometimes must support regimes whose actions and values are not consistent with ours, or that are working against us in other ways and on other issues.’


    • Also, it is pretty clear that when there is not enough to go around, there is a lot of fighting.

      Saudi Arabia has a lot of people who have done well, with the income from oil. Now, the revenue is down, and the fighting begins.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Also a symptom of not enough to go around (and an increasingly complex system)… low level employees willing to take risks to pad their wallets…. when you see your world going to pieces you grab as much as you can as fast as you can….

        Another problem is the potential risk of insider involvement, whether at the central bank or the respective banks that are being targeted. The hackers that recently swiped millions from Mexican banks probably had access to the passwords to authentication tokens for accounts. That would suggest insiders at the respective banks may have helped them infiltrate their systems.


  34. Baby Doomer says:

    George Soros on the state of the world: ‘Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong’


    • Greg Machala says:

      Really? Everything has gone wrong and BAU is still coasting along! If everything went wrong (financially) that could go wrong; I don’t think we would be here discussing things.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        If I could have a wish come true before the end of BAU…. I’d like to have a day or two with one of these high placed guys like Soros or Putin or a high level state department person … where they would explain to me the exact workings of the matrix….

        As it stands… I will go to my grave having at best seen the tip of the iceberg… and I will die in ignorance …

    • SomeoneInAsia says:

      There’s no telling how much of what has gone wrong with the world has been caused by the likes of Soros.

      What a hypocrite.

  35. Baby Doomer says:

    Gail I have a question for you–please and thank you..

    Have you ever been contacted by any famous people and asked about finite world issues?

    • It depends on how you define “famous people.” I know a lot of people who are famous in the tiny world of people who are concerned about resource limits (Charles Hall, Dennis Meadows, Ugo Bardi, Richard Heinberg, JM Greer, Dmitry Orlov, etc.). They probably don’t count.

      Back in 2014, I received an e-mail from Anders Wijkman inviting me to speak at a Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden. I was one of about 10 people invited–the only person from the United States. The night I arrived in Stockholm, we were invited to a dinner in his fancy apartment. It was at that dinner that he mentioned that he was one of the co-presidents of the Club of Rome. He had been passing along copies of my articles to some of his associates, and wanted to talk to me in person about my views. I had never thought about looking him up in Wikipedia, before I left, so I was very surprised.

      I am not very aware of who is famous and who is not. I don’t watch television, and I tend not to pay much attention to the names of people mentioned in political articles. So some of the people I correspond with may be famous, but I am not very tuned in to this.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And then you know when you go to the hair salon… and you are waiting for the perm to set… and you pick up one of those celebrity mags…. and you flip through the pages of photos of famous hollywood types…. and you don’t have a f789ing clue who most of them are?????

        I just skip to the ones of the fit actresses in bikinis…. and joke with the hair cutter about catching up on who is now famous….

        Manila… 15 years ago? — Embassy Club…. my buddy and I chat up a couple of girls…. who informed us that they were famous…. woowie wowowah…. famous for what? … we are on a really popular teee veeee show in the philippines…. never heard of it… never heard of you…. needless to say … first base was not achieved.

        Northern Ontario… small town… a few years ago… comment about why people spend thousands of dollars on a LV bag… with all those gaudy LV symbols plastered all over them…. my sister in law says… what’s an LV bag…

        Fame…. what a fascinating concept… the air can come out of that balloon real quick.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Social media is fueled by the desire of people for fame.

        When someone does not partake… it provides some indication of their character

      • SomeoneInAsia says:

        Gail, have you ever talked to James Howard Kunstler in person, and if so how did you find him? 🙂

        • I really liked his “The Long Emergency.” I have met JHK several times in person. I think that the first time was at an Association for the Study of Peak Oil meeting. I was at the meeting because ASPO had paid for several of The Oil Drum people’s trip costs. JHK came up to me in a hallway and invited me to a party he had planned for that evening. There were lots of people at the party and free alcohol–not a great place to visit, though. I have met and corresponded with him several times since. He interviewed me at least once. Needless to say, JHK does not fit the mold of a mathematician laboring away quietly in his home. He had a girl friend at that time, but did not have one later when I talked to him. If I write to him, he good about responding back.

  36. Third World person says:

    Donald Trump accuses India of charging 100% tariff, says trade might stop

    President Donald Trump has taken a swipe at India along with the world’s other top economies and accused New Delhi of charging 100 per cent tariff on some of the US’ goods, as he threatened to cut trade ties with countries who are robbing America.

    Trump made the remarks in Canada’s Quebec City where he was attending the G7 summit that ended in farce after he abruptly rejected the text of a consensus statement and bitterly insulted the host.

    “We’re like the piggybank that everybody is robbing,” Trump said while addressing a press conference on Saturday.
    e also made a reference to India, indicating that his grievances on tariffs was not restricted to the developed economies alone.

    “This isn’t just G7. I mean, we have India, where some of the tariffs are 100 per cent. A hundred per cent. And we charge nothing. We can’t do that. And so we are talking to many countries,” Trump said.

    Trump has repeatedly raked up the issue of India imposing high import duty on the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles and threatened to increase the import tariff on “thousands and thousands” of Indian motorcycles to the US.

    “We’re talking to all countries. And it’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it,” Trump warned before leaving Canada for Singapore where he is scheduled to hold a much publicised summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un tomorrow.

    His remarks came at a time when the India-US relationship has been on a positive trajectory for years. For example, bilateral trade expanded by USD 11 billion last year to more than USD 125 billion, a new record.

    Trump, who is pushing his ‘America First’ policy, said his ultimate goal was the elimination of all trade duties.

    “Ultimately that’s what you want,” he said. “You want a tariff free. You want no barriers. And you want no subsidies. Because you have some cases where countries are subsidizing industries and that’s not fair.”

    China and the US have averted a trade war by reaching an agreement last month under which Beijing has agreed to “significantly increase” its purchases of American goods and services to reduce USD 375 billion trade deficit with Washington.

    The top trading partners of the US are upset over recent imposition of a 25 per cent tariff on import of steel and 15 per cent on aluminum.

    The US has said that the best way to solve trade disputes was by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers by countries and allowing the free market to operate.

    ok trump you can stop trade with india we do not care

  37. Nope.avi says:

    I have a question for everyone today.

    What’s your local economy’s Five Year Plan?

    By Five Year Plan, I am referring to your local economy’s strategy for growth.

    If you’re smart you can probably figure out the area I’m talking about, but the area I live in has a Five Year Plan based around gambling. First with casino planned in one of the densest populated areas in the U.S. and now, with legalizing gambling on sports.

    • Nope.avi says:

      No takers, I take it.

    • theblondbeast says:

      I figured my U.S. state had no plan. Turns out they last had a five year plan in 2014. The plan is no longer available for download from their website, but included the following:

      Strengthen the state’s ongoing business attraction, retention and support initiatives
      Promote economic development on a regional level
      Develop an increasingly competitive workforce
      Increase fairness and opportunity for distressed communities and the unemployed
      Make Illinois a top destination for entrepreneurs
      Implement a comprehensive statewide strategy to drive innovation
      Modernize and revitalize our infrastructure

      Practically this included (1) tax incentives for businesses, (2) minority business set-asides, (3) local protectionism, (4) stopping the pillage of federal transportation funds.

      No plan currently exists. Most recently we raised taxes.

      • Nope.avi says:

        “Make Illinois a top destination for entrepreneurs”

        Entrepreneurs are just young upper class people with lots of their parents money to spend.
        Usually, they are drawn to cities with a lot of colleges where they can hire other upper class people on the cheap (when you can afford an expensive education and to live in a gentrified part of the city without too much debt, you can probably afford to work for below-market rates.)
        (2)The minority business set-asides are interesting. I’d like to know how they;re being implemented.
        (3) How is local protectionism being implemented in Illinois when it is conflated with accusations of racism and xenophobia at the national level?

        (4) How are they transportation funds being pillaged?
        If it’s like where I’m from, most of the money has been spent hiring contractors who do subpar work

    • Grant says:

      I live in an area that has been semi-rural for most of the time I have lived here.

      We at the northern end of our local administrative area. We have some rail facilities, mainly thanks to an old Coal fired power station that was closed and demolished about 20 years ago.

      That sight, and a farm that had to be repurposed to enable the plan, has long been designated as a location for light industry, notably “distribution” centres. It has taken a while and development is nowhere near complete despite having some easy road access in all directions and a location in the middle of the country near 3 major cities and a large town.

      Despite this unfinished development one quadrant that was farm land is currently being turned into another have area for distribution warehouses. Amazon is rumoured to be a first tenant. Amazon recently built a similar facility less than 20 miles south, still in the same county.

      On the back of that another large area of local farm land has, almost without comment, been taken over for distribution warehousing by a supermarket chain.

      In the last remaining semi-quadrant of agricultural land there will shortly be built a large number of new homes without any obvious addition of local social infrastructure to support those who might choose to live there.

      The land owners, some of whom are active in local politics, may have done well from the deals.

      The councils will, presumably, have much enhanced tax revenues.

      The populace will end up living in an industrial zone rather than a village.

      I have long joked that the location, road connections and a very local International Airport made this a great place to live if you wanted to go somewhere else.

      I had not anticipated the local authorities and their multi decade plans for a “distribution centre” on a brown field site would lead to 2 such centres and the spoiling of more greenfield land than land previously allocated to industry.

      The future, in so far as there may be one, seems to be “distribution” centres and rapidly creeping conurbations to satisfy a “housing shortage” that probably won’t exist 10 or 20 years from now.

      So much for planning.

      • xabier says:

        Exactly the same, almost step by step, here in Eastern England – land which has been carefully farmed for thousands of years is going under concrete.

        Light industry; distribution; ugly, shoddy ‘luxury’ housing; roads…….

    • Slow Paul says:

      Here it’s building highways and a new hospital. Except that the hospital building process is continously postponed due to cost concerns…

      • Nope.avi says:

        Highways are a major investment and require very cheap energy.
        I hope capital (material) flows are high enough to maintain it.

        I’m going to hazard a wild guess and suggest that the delays in construction of the new hospital are due to cost overruns, as it is with a major public transportation project in my neck of the woods.
        Estimators were off by a billion dollars. The project is still underway.

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