Eight insights based on December 2017 energy data

BP recently published energy data through December 31, 2017, in its Statistical Review of World Energy 2018. The following are a few points we observe, looking at the data:

[1] The world is making limited progress toward moving away from fossil fuels.

The two bands that top fossil fuels that are relatively easy to see are nuclear electric power and hydroelectricity. Solar, wind, and “geothermal, biomass, and other” are small quantities at the top that are hard to distinguish.

Figure 1. World energy consumption divided between fossil fuels and non-fossil fuel energy sources, based on data from BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

Wind provided 1.9% of total energy supplies in 2017; solar provided 0.7% of total energy supplies. Fossil fuels provided 85% of energy supplies in 2017. We are moving away from fossil fuels, but not quickly.

Of the 252 million tons of oil equivalent (MTOE) energy consumption added in 2017, wind added 37 MTOE and solar added 26 MTOE. Thus, wind and solar amounted to about 25% of total energy consumption added in 2017. Fossil fuels added 67% of total energy consumption added in 2017, and other categories added the remaining 8%.

[2] World per capita energy consumption is still on a plateau.

In recent posts, we have remarked that per capita energy consumption seems to be on a plateau. With the addition of data through 2017, this still seems to be the case. The reason why flat energy consumption per capita is concerning is because energy consumption per capita normally rises, based on data since 1820.1 This is explained further in Note 1 at the end of this article. Another reference is my article, The Depression of the 1930s Was an Energy Crisis.

Figure 2. World energy consumption per capita, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data.

While total energy consumption is up by 2.2%, world population is up by about 1.1%, leading to a situation where energy consumption per capita is rising by about 1.1% per year. This is within the range of normal variation.

One thing that helped energy consumption per capita to rise a bit in 2017 relates to the fact that oil prices were down below the $100+ per barrel range seen in the 2011-2014 period. In addition, the US dollar was relatively low compared to other currencies, making prices more attractive to non-US buyers. Thus, 2017 represented a period of relative affordability of oil to buyers, especially outside the US.

[3] If we view the path of consumption of major fuels, we see that coal follows a much more variable path than oil and natural gas. One reason for the slight upturn in per capita energy consumption noted in [2] is a slight upturn in coal consumption in 2017.

Figure 3. World oil, coal, and natural gas consumption through 2017, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

Coal is different from oil and gas, in that it is more of a “dig it as you need it” fuel. In many parts of the world, coal mines have a high ratio of human labor to capital investment. If prices are high enough, coal will be extracted and consumed. If prices are not sufficiently high, coal will be left in the ground and the workers laid off. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, coal prices in 2017 were higher than prices in both 2015 and 2016 in all seven markets for which they provide indications. Typically, prices in 2017 were more than 25% higher than those for 2015 and 2016.

The production of oil and natural gas seems to be less responsive to price fluctuations than coal.2 In part, this has to do with the very substantial upfront investment that needs to be made. It also has to do with the dependence of governments on the high level of tax revenue that they can obtain if oil and gas prices are high. Oil exporters are especially concerned about this issue. All players want to maintain their “share” of the world market. They are reluctant to reduce production, regardless of what prices do in the short term.

[4] China is one country whose coal production has recently ticked upward in response to higher coal prices. 

Figure 4. China’s energy production by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data.

China has been able to bridge the gap by using an increasing amount of imported fuels. In fact, according to BP, China was the world’s largest importer of oil and coal in 2017. It was second only to Japan in the quantity of imported natural gas.

[5] China’s overall energy pattern appears worrying, despite the uptick in coal production.

Figure 5. China’s energy production by fuel plus its total energy consumption, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data.

If China expects to maintain its high GDP growth ratio as a manufacturing country, it will need to keep its energy consumption growth up. Doing this will require an increasing share of world exports of fossil fuels of all kinds. It is not clear that this is even possible unless other areas can ramp up their production and also add necessary transportation infrastructure.

Oil consumption, in particular, is rising quickly, thanks to rising imports. (Compare Figure 6, below, with Figure 4.)

Figure 6. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

[6] India, like China, seems to be a country whose energy production is falling far behind what is needed to support planned economic growth. In fact, as a percentage, its energy imports are greater than China’s, and the gap is widening each year.

The big gap between energy production and consumption would not be a problem if India could afford to buy these imported fuels, and if it could use these imported fuels to make exports that it could profitably sell to the export market. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Figure 7. India’s energy production by fuel, together with its total energy consumption, based upon BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data.

India’s electricity sector seems to be having major problems recently. The Financial Times reports, “The power sector is at the heart of a wave of corporate defaults that threatens to cripple the financial sector.” While higher coal prices were good for coal producers and helped enable coal imports, the resulting electricity is more expensive than many customers can afford.

[7] It is becoming increasingly clear that proved reserves reported by BP and others provide little useful information. 

BP provides reserve data for oil, natural gas, and coal. It also calculates R/P ratios (Reserves/Production ratios), using reported “proved reserves” and production in the latest year. The purpose of these ratios seems to be to assure readers that there are plenty of years of future production available. Current worldwide average R/P ratios are

  • Oil: 50 years
  • Natural Gas: 53 years
  • Coal: 134 years

The reason for using the R/P ratios is the fact that geologists, including the famous M. King Hubbert, have looked at future energy production based on reserves in a particular area. Thus, geologists seem to depend upon reserve data for their calculations. Why shouldn’t a similar technique work in the aggregate?

For one thing, geologists are looking at particular fields where conditions seem to be favorable for extraction. They can safely assume that (a) prices will be high enough, (b) there will be adequate investment capital available and (c) other conditions will be right, including political stability and pollution issues. If we are looking at the situation more generally, the reasons why fossil fuels are not extracted from the ground seem to revolve around (a), (b) and (c), rather than not having enough fossil fuels in the ground.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. China’s coal production dropped in Figure 4 because low prices made coal extraction unprofitable in some fields. There is no hint of that issue in China’s reported R/P ratio for coal of 39.

Although not as dramatic, Figure 4 also shows that China’s oil production has dropped in recent years, during a period when prices have been relatively low. China’s R/P ratio for oil is 18, so theoretically it should have plenty of oil available. The Chinese figured out that in some cases, it could import oil more cheaply than it could produce it themselves. As a result, China’s production has dropped.

In Figure 7, India’s coal production is not rising as rapidly as needed to keep production up. Its R/P ratio for coal is 137. Its oil production has been declining since 2012. Its R/P for oil is shown to be 14.4 years.

Another example is Venezuela. As many people are aware, Venezuela has been having severe economic problems recently. We can see this in its falling oil production and its related falling oil exports and consumption.

Figure 8. Venezuela’s oil production, consumption and exports, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

Yet Venezuela reports the highest “Proved oil reserves” in the world. Its reported R/P ratio is 394. In fact, its proved reserves increased during 2017, despite its very poor production results. Part of the problem is that proved oil reserves are often not audited amounts, so proved reserves can be as high as an exporting country wants to make them. Another part of the problem is that price is extremely important in determining which reserves can be extracted and which cannot. Clearly, Venezuela needs much higher prices than have been available recently to make it possible to extract its reserves. Venezuela also seems to have had low production in the 1980s when oil prices were low.

I was one of the co-authors of an academic paper pointing out that oil prices may not rise high enough to extract the resources that seem to be available. It can be found at this link: An Oil Production Forecast for China Considering Economic Limits. The problem is an affordability problem. The wages of manual laborers and other non-elite workers need to be high enough that they can afford to buy the goods and services made by the economy. If there is too much wage disparity, demand tends to fall too low. As a result, prices do not rise to the level that fossil fuel producers need. The limit on fossil fuel extraction may very well be how high prices can rise, rather than the amount of fossil fuels in the ground.

[8] Nuclear power seems to be gradually headed for closure without replacement in many parts of the world. This makes it more difficult to create a low carbon electricity supply.

A chart of nuclear electricity production by part of the world shows the following information:

Figure 9. Nuclear electric power production by part of the world, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018. FSU is “Former Soviet Union” countries.

The peak in nuclear power production took place in 2006. A big step-down in nuclear power generation took place after the Fukushima nuclear power accident in Japan in 2011. Europe now seems to be taking steps toward phasing out its nuclear power plants. If nothing else, new safety standards tend to make nuclear power plants very expensive. The high price makes it too expensive to replace aging nuclear power plants with new plants, at least in the parts of the world where safety standards are considered very important.

In 2017, wind and solar together produced about 59% as much electricity as nuclear power, on a worldwide basis. It would take a major effort simply to replace nuclear with wind and solar, and the results would not provide as stable an output level as is currently available.

Of course, some countries will go forward with nuclear, in spite of safety concerns. Much of the recent growth in nuclear power has been in China. Countries belonging to the former Soviet Union (FSU) have been adding new nuclear production. Also, Iran is known for its nuclear power program.


We live in challenging times!



(1) There is more than one way of seeing that energy consumption per capita needs to rise, despite rising efficiency.

One basic issue is that enough energy consumption needs to get back to individual citizens, particularly citizens with few skills, so that they can continue to have the basic level of goods and services that they need. This includes food, clothing, housing, transportation, education and other services, such as medical services. Unfortunately, history shows that efficiency gains don’t do enough to offset several other countervailing forces that tend to offset the benefits of efficiency gains. The forces working against unskilled workers getting enough goods and services include the following:

(a) Diminishing returns ensures that an increasing share of energy supplies must be used to dig deeper wells or provide water desalination, to operate mines for all kinds of minerals, and to extract fossil fuels. This means that less of the energy that is available can get back to workers.

(b) Governments need to grow because of promises that they have made to citizens. Retirement benefits in particular are an issue, as populations age. This takes another “cut” out of what is available.

(c) Increased use of technology tends to produce a much more hierarchical workforce structure. People at the top of the organization are paid significantly more than those near the bottom. Globalization tends to add to this effect. It is the low wages of those at the bottom of the hierarchy that becomes a problem because those workers cannot afford to buy the goods and services that they need to provide for themselves and their families.

(d) Increasing use of technology can often produce replacements for manual labor. For example, robots and computers can replace some jobs, leaving many would-be workers unemployed. The companies that produce the replacements for manual labor are often international companies that are difficult to tax. Governments can try to raise taxes to provide benefits to those excluded from the economy as a consequence of the growing use of technology, but this simply exacerbates the problem described as (b) above.

(e) The world economy always has some countries that are doing better than others in terms of GDP growth. These countries are nearly always countries whose energy use per capita is growing. Current examples include China and India. If world resources per capita are flat, there must be others whose energy consumption per capita is falling. Examples today would include Venezuela, Greece and the UK. It is the countries with falling energy consumption per capita that have the more severe difficulties. Our networked world economy cannot get along without these failing economies.

Besides the issue of enough goods and services getting back to those with limited skills, a second basic issue is having enough energy-based goods and services to actually fulfill promises that have been made. One type of promise is debt and related interest payments. Another type of promise is that made by pension plans, whether government sponsored or available from private industry. A third type of promise is represented by asset prices available in the marketplace, such as prices of shares of stock and real estate prices.

The problem is that promises of all types can, in theory, be exchanged for goods and services. The stock of goods and services cannot rise very quickly, if energy consumption is only rising at the per-capita rate. Even if more money is issued, the problem becomes dividing up a not-very-rapidly growing pie into ever-smaller pieces, to try to fulfill all of the promises.

(2) With respect to oil, the one major deviation from its flat pattern occurred in the early 1980s, when world oil consumption fell by 11% between 1979 and 1983. This happened as the result of a concerted effort to change home heating and electricity production to other fuels. It also involved a change from large inefficient cars to smaller, more fuel efficient cars. After the 2007-2009 recession, there was another small step downward. This downward step may reflect less building of new homes and commercial spaces in some parts of the world, including the US.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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2,505 Responses to Eight insights based on December 2017 energy data

  1. Baby Doomer says:

    Trump should forget second term

    Whether you blame Trump or Democrats, whether you think the media and the Deep State are colluding to subvert the president, whether you love everything Trump has done or hate it, you have to recognize that the country can’t go on like this..


    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


      please please please let’s have a Democrat POTUS in 2021…

      as the shtf, it will be great to see her/him manage the chaos…

      we can do this!

      bring it on!

      • you’ll be lucky

        the economic system is debt based, and those debts cannot be repaid

        this will mean economic/social chaos, and the don will have to assume ”emergency powers”—he will not give those up, but instead collect a group of like minded fascists around him to do his dirty work

        My poem on this theme might amuse everyone:

        The mindset of the Don
        is known to none but he,
        allowing close around him
        only those who do agree,
        that such ranting counts as wisdom
        where the POTUS is concerned
        where nothing now must stop him
        from denying all we’ve learned.

        That the climate is no longer
        our kind supportive friend,
        and the planet has a fever
        in the blight of humankind,
        where our atmosphere is warming
        with our growing fevered heat
        and is likely to get rid of us
        by the storms that we create.

        Instead he leads in different ways
        where fascist seeds are sown,
        by consorting so with despots
        where brutality is the norm,
        and all must heed the ruler’s word
        or find themselves in cages,
        with the protests of the people
        that echo down the ages.

        Where oil can have no limit
        and coal must be fast burned
        to create the wealth entitlement
        we are told is ours to earn,
        so we must extract and use it all
        to make the stuff we need
        which must go on forever
        for this is the leader’s creed.

        And the force that powers nature
        must be to man entailed
        lending truth to craze’d doctrines
        that higher powers will prevail,
        to stop sea levels rising
        and the Arctic turning green
        where our world goes on forever
        supplying all we need.

        Nothing may be mentioned
        of all that threatens us
        so those who stand around him
        watch with obsequious smile,
        as he signs away our living
        uncaring of those who die
        as our glorious planet
        becomes cash based property.

        Now the planet that we live on
        is now mere real estate
        where business and trading
        have all care displaced,
        with debt the lot of many
        in want and direst need
        being told that shiny objects
        will their children’s children feed.

        • Only problem–if there aren’t enough resources to go around, each country needs to get as large a share as possible. As little as possible can be spent on “frivolous” uses such as safety features and pollution control. Those at the top of the hierarchy (governments, big corporations, and people at the top of those units) must get as little as possible, so that at least they can continue, even if the rest of the economy cannot.

          Unfortunately, this result is largely the result of the laws of physics and the way our current system is organized. It is constantly changing, through random fluctuation. The trend is always toward “survival of the best adapted.” If there is not enough cheap energy supplies to go around, the laws of physics determine that, if at all possible, rather than everyone being wiped out at the same time, some group will survive. This group is, in some sense, the best adapted. This groups is also at the top of the hierarchy.

          We may complain about Trump being elected, but that is simply how the system works. If we divide up the goods more evenly, using closer to a system of Venezuela (very cheap oil to buy), or the Middle East (heavily subsidized food and oil), or the USSR in the days before its collapse, what tends to happen is population tends to grow, even more, and local energy consumption tends to increase. Output of goods and services doesn’t not rise commensurate with energy expenditures. The countries are at risk of collapse as limits hit. Communism/socialism is seductive, but it creates a problem as limits hit.

          • Sven Røgeberg says:

            «Those at the top of the hierarchy (governments, big corporations, and people at the top of those units) must get as little as possible, so that at least they can continue, even if the rest of the economy cannot.»
            I guess you ment «as much as possible»?

  2. dolph says:

    In the suburb in which I live, white Americans are down to something like 25%, from 75% 15 to 20 years ago. No one group predominates. Very large numbers of Asians, Indians, Mexicans, Blacks.
    There are many mosques in my area, each probably serving a population of 1000. So 10,000 Muslims, whereas, I remember growing up, you could count the number of Muslim families on one hand.

    The phenomenon is real folks, this is not fake news. America has been flooded with immigrants, at a time when most of us are not really doing that great. You multicultural cultists can deny it all you want, but now you know where Trump and the divisions in our society are coming from.

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      the “best” 50 year stretch ever was about 1950-2000…

      the post war economic expansion was amazing…

      now, these multitudes have come to join in on the good times…

      well, there are perhaps a few years left…

      isn’t that called being late to the party?

    • Third World person says:

      it just evolution in circle of life

      first in usa native american became minority in usa
      then next is number is white americans
      then maybe next will black americans
      then next Hispanic americans
      then next indians/chinese americans

      • Tim Groves says:

        Or maybe the Hispanics could become white Americans like the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Greeks and the Jews once did? There was a time not so long ago when none of those ethnic groups were regarded as white.

        • djerek says:

          Just like the Africans former slaves became white, right?

          • djerek says:

            And even if that level of assimilation is possible, it would take far longer than we have left in this civilization, and when things do fracture much conflict will be along religious/ethnic/racial lines.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Just like the Africans former slaves became white, right?

            Well a lot of descendants of former African slaves have become white, haven’t they? And millions of Americans who identify as white and who are accepted as white have ancestors who were former slaves from Africa, don’t they?

            But obviously not everybody can be allowed to become white, because whiteness is both a state of mind and a social construct that requires the existence non-whiteness in order to be meaningful. If everyone in America was recognized as white, or as black, they would all just be Americans rather than “white people” or “black people”. And then they’d need to find some other way to divide themselves up into mutually fearing and loathing factions. Because that’s what the owners want. Divide and conquer.

            I can image that in future decades East and South Asian Americans being allowed to become white or at least honorary white Americans, just to beef up the numbers. What to you think?

            • Artleads says:

              By the standards of American mythology, you are black if you have one drop of “African blood.” This myth works against its perpetrators, for when you factor in Hispanic heritage and the many millions of supposed whites who have some black heritage, then what you have in America is a majority black nation.

      • Actually, in a couple of generations, the different groups become so mixed that most children have mixed parentage. Most of the “black” children in America are of mixed race, unless their ancestors arrived recently from Africa. People have to have genetic tests to figure out where their ancestors came from.

        • Baby Doomer says:

          We are going to turn into “The Sneetches” by Dr Seuss

          The first story in the collection tells of a group of yellow bird-like creatures called Sneetches, some of whom have a green star on their bellies. At the beginning of the story, Sneetches with stars discriminate against and shun those without. An entrepreneur named Sylvester McMonkey McBean (calling himself the Fix-It-Up Chappie) appears and offers the Sneetches without stars the chance to get them with his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The treatment is instantly popular, but this upsets the original star-bellied Sneetches, as they are in danger of losing their special status. McBean then tells them about his Star-Off machine, costing ten dollars, and the Sneetches who originally had stars happily pay the money to have them removed in order to remain special.

          However, McBean does not share the prejudices of the Sneetches, and allows the recently starred Sneetches through this machine as well. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one..or that one was this one..or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

          This continues until the Sneetches are penniless and McBean departs as a rich man, amused by their folly. Despite his assertion that “you can’t teach a Sneetch”, the Sneetches learn from this experience that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends.


          • That is about it! A college diploma has value primarily in weeding out the many candidates. It doesn’t really distinguish what people can do.

            People in programming discover that their employer has decided to do things a different way. They either outsource (to China or India) or they want to use a new language. They would rather hire new programmers who are proficient in the new language they want, rather than the language that was popular a few years ago. The language learned in the university no longer has value.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I have a good mate who is black… well more like brown… he gleefully points out how some of our other mates are so black they look purple 🙂

          • Dr. BergmannThal says:

            That’s actually true, an African I saw against the sun actually had a blue-ish hue.
            As I read the scandinavians of the middle ages called the black people of Africa “Bloemen”, which means Blue Men, if I recall correctly.

    • and of course, come shtf time—like will bond with like, for collective safety

      that’s not racism, just human instinct

  3. artleads says:


    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:


    • artleads says:

      Sorry the image didn’t post. It shows a way to get more work done by applying natural science. Gail, I’ll email it to you just FYI.

  4. Third World person says:

    wherever i see homo sapiens blame each other
    for any reason it remind of a song

    btw how black Americans lifes were in apartheid america

  5. Adam says:

    Earlier Fast Eddy asked about evidence for the technology used in the pyramids. The pages I recommended to Norman show evidence of ultrasonic (yes, ultrasonic!) drilling:


    Read all the short nine pages.

    Christopher Dunn writes:

    “I am a technologist. When I look at an artifact with the view of how it was manufactured, I am unencumbered with a predisposition to filter out possibilities because of historical or chronological inequity. Having spent most of my career involved with the machinery that actually creates artifacts of the modern kind, such as jet-engine components, I am fairly well equipped to analyze and determine the methods necessary for recreating an artifact under study. I have been fortunate, also, to have training and experience in some non-conventional methods of manufacturing, such as laser processing and electrical discharge machining. That said, I should state that contrary to some popular speculations, I have not seen the work of laser cutting on the Egyptian rocks. Still, there is evidence of other non-conventional *machining methods*, along with more sophisticated, conventional type sawing, lathe and milling practices.”

    Yes, machining methods. He gives his evidence. Egyptologists tell us that the ancient Egyptians used copper tools. Dunn knows that copper cannot cut through granite. So we have here the problem that Gail has pointed out: the experts live in isolation in their ivory towers. Archaeologists do not speak to metallurgists, or engineers, or geologists. Geologists can tell that some of the weathering on the pyramids predates the supposed age of their erection by thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians we know about must have arrived thousands of years later and then used these monuments for their own purposes. Their repairs and scratched writings speak of a much inferior technology.

    Watch some of Christopher Dunn videos on YouTube. Brien Foerster’s short videos are also interesting. Prepare to have your mind opened. It’s bizarre, I know, and I took some convincing too, as a resolute sceptic. But just check the evidence.

    • JesseJames says:

      That is an interesting article. I am still reading it.
      Other interesting tidbits. The “queens chamber” in the great pyramid is geometrically “created, sanded, or machined” to fine tolerance such as it could be an electromagnetic waveguide.
      No bodies have ever been discovered in the pyramids, yet they are still considered to be magnificent tombs. Perhaps they were something else.
      Microwave resonator?
      Some sort of instrument or machine?
      Yea, I love the sheer mystery of it.

      • Adam says:

        Dunn assumes that something built to such precision must be a machine of some kind. And certainly people through the ages have noticed the strange sonic properties of the pyramids. Apparently Nikola Tesla was into manipulating sound waves – I wonder what he would have made of it. Dunn has his own theories, of course, if you look on YouTube or read his book.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          People living back then were primitive stuuuupid savages… they could never have built such things…

          Only we could accomplish such feats

    • Baby Doomer says:

      According to Dr Ben Carson the pyramids were built by Joseph from the bible..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Ouch … too long … time is too short… don’t care enough to read….

      My comment would be … if these high tech beings did build the pyramids… then why is there not other evidence of their presence on earth…. afterall … we have the Rosetta stone… so surely they would have been mentioned…

      • thats where my doubts lie too

        the pyramid seems to have been clearly documented as the tomb of khufu

        • Adam says:

          Later civilisations often come along and claim things as their own, then use them for other purposes, e.g. tombs. And historians – and other experts – can and do get things wrong. Keep an open mind.

          • Adam says:

            And ask yourself – why were pyramids built in locations that are very distant from one another: Mexico, Egypt, etc. – unless there was some civilisation transmitting its culture across the globe? We need to get Gail onto this – she’d solve it in two years. 😉

            • Tim Groves says:

              Giver her a break, please. She’s working very hard at the moment trying to find out why the Easter Islanders made so many stone images of John Kerry. 😉

            • the basic pyramid concept seems very simple and logical

              tip any large enough quantity of objects freely and loosely onto the ground—sand grains, bricks and so on, and they form a pyramid unless that shape is altered by another external force

          • Adam says:

            “She’s working very hard at the moment trying to find out why the Easter Islanders made so many stone images of John Kerry.”

            Those damned Irish get everywhere, including America. 😦

        • Adam says:

          “tip any large enough quantity of objects freely and loosely onto the ground—sand grains, bricks and so on, and they form a pyramid unless that shape is altered by another external force”

          Yes, but the stones forming these pyramids are massive – some weigh up to 900 tons, which even modern machinery has trouble dealing with. So you don’t just tip such items freely and loosely onto the ground. And if it’s such a common shape, why didn’t later ages adopt it? And Toblerone doesn’t count!

          But the ruins that are being found around the world are edging us further back in time than we thought possible:


          I agree it’s rather insolent of these people to keep finding out more things now that you’re old and thought everything had been worked out, Norman. But you can be a denialist if you wish – it’s free of charge. Me, I’ll take the red pill every time.

          • i wasn’t denying it

            just pointing out—re the fact that pyramidal structures appear in different parts of the world—-that the initial contour of any randomly piled material will form a conical/pyramidal shape

            it seems logical that any group of people deciding to build a large structure would follow the same pattern, they wouldnt necessarily have to be in contact with each other

            • Adam says:

              “it seems logical that any group of people deciding to build a large structure would follow the same pattern”

              You’re begging the question. Only if they were telepathic, I’d reckon, and even I don’t claim that. 😉

            • You are probably right.

              Also, many groups had figured out that our energy comes from the sun. They understood that this is important. Building in the direction of the sun seemed like a good approach.

          • and on the point of later people building methods, the romans and others discovered the stressed arch and dome—i could be wrong (please note modesty) but i dont think the egyptians had that

            their colossal pillars at Karnak etc were built at their set width apart to carry solid stone slabs to form roofs.—impressive i agree, but fundamentally the same technique used earlier at stonehenge

            one would expect such expertise with stone to have manifested itself into the dome—which of course was the building pattern adopted right through until the advent of stressed steel buildings

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Surely these high tech aliens would have left behind a Tesla EV or rocket or something … and the Egyptians would have worshipped these?

      • Adam says:

        Well, there is – Machu Picchu and other places with megaliths and pyramids that we’d be hard pushed to lift, without the help of NASA. But ask yourself, how much would disappear in 12000 years or so? The little things, for sure – the gadgets. The megaliths would remain standing. And that’s what has happened. As for our cement buildings, they would disappear very quickly. But the mysteries remain, and even our Norman can’t solve them. 😉 Best look, then, to the people who are trying: the Gails of other disciplines and multi-disciplines.

        • Tim Groves says:

          There could be a great deal of architecture and artifacts from pre-Holocene civilizations in the tropics buried under the silt at depths of up to 100 meters beneath the waves of today’s ocean. There could be the equivalents of a thousand Pompeiis or Troys waiting to be uncovered.

  6. MG says:

    Yesterday, I visited the screening of a new documentary on the former Slovak poet and minister of culture Miroslav Valek which was held at the festival Art In Park in the spa town of Trencianske Teplice in my region of Slovakia. (That is the place where the word “robot” originated.)

    After seeing the documentary, I have realized that he was one of the key figures of the Slovak government in the era after the Soviet army invasion into Czechoslovakia in 1968. He became the minister of culuture of Slovakia in 1969 and he held the position until 1988!

    The 60s brought the oil from Russia to Czechoslovakia via the new pipeline and ended up the postwar Stalinist implosion. It looked like Czechoslovakia is ressurected, although, shortly after the Soviet invasion, in October 1968, the splitting up of Czechoslovakia continued, when the country turned into the federation of the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic.

    Another energy boost was going online of the first commercial nuclear power plants in the 70s, which marked the baby boom of that time. The era of so called communist regime ended up in 1989, when the Soviet bloc collapsed.

    What was interesting about this man was his ability to manage the political opposition, providing easy jobs to the opposing political figures in the cultural institiutions like museums, libraries etc. He thus became practically untouchable, as he understood that the ideology is just a game for the masses (as also shows his poetry full of feelings of emptiness). He resigned from his position shortly after the Candle Manifestation in 1988 (http://www.enrs.eu/sk/news/1811-candle-manifestation-slovakia), because other members of the government started to behave like idiots and suppressed the peaceful manifestation for the religious freedom with police forces and water cannons. (According to the words of the nephew of Miroslav Valek in the given documentary, this minister knew that this protest was nothing serious, the people would just go home after the manifestation, but the reaction of the government to the protest was simply inappropriate.)

    This Candle Manifestation of 1988 also showed that the communist regime no longer had the power to suppress the opposition (including the Christian religions) vis-a-vis the deteriorating economy of the 80s in the Soviet bloc, when Russia was unable to pay for the delivered goods in the times of low oil prices, which finally led to its default in the 90s.

    • Third World person says:

      mg what is situation of rural places in Slovakia

      how rapid they are become ghost towns

    • Ed says:

      How are things in neighboring Czech? I will visit for two weeks at end of August for the Human Level Artificial Intelligence Conference in Prague.

    • Stalinist implosion? I admire these new speak terms very much lolz.
      In fact I’ve heard there were massive investment aimed at post WWII Slovakia, namely into heavy industries and overall infrastructure. At scale which was much higher than in comparison to pre war Czechoslovakia, not even mentioning the era before WWI, when this was an agricultural province (with some few smaller industrial hubs) under the thumb of Hungarian part of the Austro empire..

      But the whole CEE went through such a vortex in recent century it’s hard to tell, some argue the macro dividing line is still the “cultural” horizon which has been reached over the centuries by the eastward bound German colonists be in trade/crafts/admin/etc.. They reached in some token fashion as far as to western Carpathian area, so that could be the part of Slovakia you talk about.

      • MG says:

        “Stalinist implosion” = slavery and death of the politically persecuted persons, no reason for things like “lolz”

        The Central Europe during the pre-WWI era was formed by the energy of the Silesian coal, not Vienna or Hungary, which was confirmed by establishing the Czechoslovakia after WWI, cutting off Austria and Hungary as perifery from the Silesian energy center.


        • Sadly, you did not addressed my points.

          As always, the historical real view mirror is showing lot of things, for some the tiny .% of prosecuted was worth taking out of poverty the larger %% of population, which evidently took place on large scale in post WWII Slovakia, lifting up largely agricultural region into place with at least patchwork of several distributed industrial hubs. Others as you have demonstrated, seem to be keen on so-called freedoms and individual rights, while now sell their own compatriots to real slave relationship in foreign capital owned assembly plants living paradoxically (or not) out of the legacy “old communist” infrastructure, be it dependable base grid power, universities, cities, and overall paid off infrastructure.

          Besides the fact, usually the prosecution lacks force equally to the distance measured from the center, hence Slovakia was much less prosecuted area on relative metrics vs Czechs or many other regions of the bloc.

          Now to your other ahistorical point, the owners or at least enablers of the int capital within AustroHungarian Empire allocated seeding capital according to various metrics, for example it’s a historic albeit peculiar fact that the Hungarian political-social circles were not keen on polluting their posh cities haphazardly with dirty industries so much, that’s why it was deferred to W. Slovakia.

          As it was closer to the Silesian coal is not a valid core argument, for example we can look at WienerNeustadt, an industrial site near the old imperial Vienna, which is even farther away (yet on the same rail network). But the industries started to develop there much earlier anyway..

          • MG says:

            You clearly do not understand the communist terror, when the people were forced to work in labor camps, uranium mines etc. or were killed. That era was no fancy times of growth but the desperate attempts to fight the implosion.

            Without the energy from the Silesian coal, there was no large scale industry within the Austrian-Hungary empire.

            The assembly plants in Eastern Europe are the same as in other parts of the world: as long as there is suitable wokrforce, they function. When there is lack of affordable workforce, they are moved elsewhere.

            I must completely disagree with this “rear mirror view” of the Eastern Europe. The Western Europe is on the same track of the depletion of the natural and human resources: they just managed to ramp up the debt sooner and avoided the collapse via importing immigrant workforce. The miracle of the Germany prospertiy is made thanks to the ramping up the debt of other members of the EU which buy German products. That is why they have to help the Greece, Spain, Italy etc. to preserve their own prosperity.

  7. Third World person says:

    mg what is situation of rural places in Slovakia

    how rapid they are become ghost towns

    • Tim Groves says:

      Come gather ’round friends and I’ll tell you a tale
      Of when the red iron pits ran a-plenty
      But the cardboard-filled windows and old men on the benches
      Tell you now that the whole town is empty

      In the north end of town my own children are grown
      But I was raised on the other
      In the wee hours of youth my mother took sick
      And I was brought up by my brother

      The iron ore poured as the years passed the door
      The drag lines an’ the shovels they was a-humming
      ‘Till one day my brother failed to come home
      The same as my father before him

      Well, a long winter’s wait from the window I watched
      My friends they couldn’t have been kinder
      And my schooling was cut as I quit in the spring
      To marry John Thomas, a miner

      Oh, the years passed again, and the giving was good
      With the lunch bucket filled every season
      What with three babies born, the work was cut down
      To a half a day’s shift with no reason

      Then the shaft was soon shut, and more work was cut
      And the fire in the air, it felt frozen
      ‘Till a man come to speak, and he said in one week
      That number eleven was closing

      They complained in the East, they are paying too high
      They say that your ore ain’t worth digging
      That it’s much cheaper down in the South American towns
      Where the miners work almost for nothing

      So the mining gates locked, and the red iron rotted
      And the room smelled heavy from drinking
      Where the sad, silent song made the hour twice as long
      As I waited for the sun to go sinking

      I lived by the window as he talked to himself
      This silence of tongues it was building
      ‘Till one morning’s wake, the bed it was bare
      And I was left alone with three children

      The summer is gone, the ground’s turning cold
      The stores one by one they’re all folding
      My children will go as soon as they grow
      Well, there ain’t nothing here now to hold them

  8. Rodster says:


    “OPEC does not want prices to reach levels that would actually make the tight oil industry’s cash flow positive.

    You read that correctly. The industry as a whole has been free cash flow negative even when oil was over $100 per barrel. Free cash flow equals cash flow from operations minus capital expenditures required for operations. This means that tight oil drillers are not generating enough cash from selling the oil they’re currently producing to pay for exploration and development of new reserves. The only thing allowing continued exploitation of U.S. tight oil deposits has been a continuous influx of investment capital seeking relatively high returns in an era of zero interest rate policies. Tight oil drillers aren’t building value; they are merely consuming capital as they lure investors with unrealistic claims about potential reserves. (Some analysts have likened the situation to a Ponzi scheme.)

    To demonstrate how unrealistic the industry’s claims are, David Hughes, in his latest Shale Reality Check, explains that expectations for recovery NOT of proven reserves, but of UNPROVEN resources are exceedingly overblown.”

  9. MG says:

    The elderly pensioners in Slovakia take loans instead of the children and grandchildren who could have a problem to get them


    • Third World person says:

      i have ask another thing mg if you do not mind

      which country you think mc will collapse first in Eastern Europe ?

      • MG says:

        The perifery is always more prone to collapse, which means the mountaineous areas which are harder to live in and the parts where energy supplies are shipped from other regions, i.e. the regions with the nuclear power plants and the natural gas pipelines will be depopulated later than the areas which need longer transmission lines. As long as EU exists, no country will collapse, it will just be depopulated, like the Baltic states, the Carpathian mountains (parts of Slovakia and Romania), the countryside of Hungary withouth the forests, the perifery mountaineous parts of the Czech Republic. The declining population will simply flee from the parts of Europe which will be harder to maintain, leaving behind those who are of the poor health and old.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          what are the EU rules?

          can any EU citizen just move to Germany if they want to?

          • MG says:

            I do not know it exactly, but I know the person from my village in Slovakia who lives with her husbund and family permanently in the East Germany as medical doctors.

    • Baby Doomer says:

      Within a decade (probably far less) of oil supply failure, the USA will cease to exist..

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Not grim enough:

      Soil that is farmed using petro-chemical inputs — will support no crop once the additives are stopped – without years of intensive rejuvenation involving organic inputs (and the manure producing animals will be eaten by the hungry)

      Effect of Pesticides on soil fertility (beneficial soil microorganisms)

      Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides can cause populations of beneficial soil microorganisms to decline. According to the soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham, “If we lose both bacteria and fungi, then the soil degrades. Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics.

      Indiscriminate use of chemicals might work for a few years, but after awhile, there aren’t enough beneficial soil organisms to hold onto the nutrients” (Savonen, 1997). For example, plants depend on a variety of soil microorganisms to transform atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates, which plants can use. Common landscape herbicides disrupt this process: triclopyr inhibits soil bacteria that transform ammonia into nitrite (Pell et al., 1998); glyphosate reduces the growth and activity of free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria in soil (Santos and Flores, 1995) and 2,4-D reduces nitrogen fixation by the bacteria that live on the roots of bean plants (Arias and Fabra, 1993; Fabra et al., 1997), reduces the growth and activity of nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae (Singh and Singh, 1989; Tözüm-Çalgan and Sivaci-Güner, 1993), and inhibits the transformation of ammonia into nitrates by soil bacteria (Frankenberger et al., 1991, Martens and Bremner, 1993).

      Mycorrhizal fungi grow with the roots of many plants and aid in nutrient uptake. These fungi can also be damaged by herbicides in the soil. One study found that oryzalin and trifluralin both inhibited the growth of certain species of mycorrhizal fungi (Kelley and South, 1978).

      Roundup has been shown to be toxic to mycorrhizal fungi in laboratory studies, and some damaging effects were seen at concentrations lower than those found in soil following typical applications (Chakravarty and Sidhu, 1987; Estok et al., 1989). Triclopyr was also found to be toxic to several species of mycorrhizal fungi (Chakravarty and Sidhu, 1987) and oxadiazon reduced the number of mycorrhizal fungal spores (Moorman, 1989).


      Organic inputs will be hard to come by considering nothing can be grown – and most if not all animals are killed and eaten.

      Less than 1% of all farmland globally is farmed organically.

      Get ready to starve. No matter where you are:

      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/08/which-countries-have-the-most-organic-agricultural-land/ (note – most organic land in Australia is rubbish and supports sheep only)

      • Tim Groves says:

        The Role of Energy in Production
        By Prof. Steve Keen

        “Economic theory has failed to incorporate the role of energy in production for two centuries since the Physiocrats. In this video I derive a production function that includes energy in an essential manner. It implies that economic growth has been driven by the increase in the energy throughput capabilities of machinery.”

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