Supplemental energy puts humans in charge

Energy is a subject that is greatly misunderstood. Its role in our lives is truly amazing. We humans are able to live and move because of the energy that we get from food. We count this energy in calories.

Green plants are also energy dependent. In photosynthesis, plants use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into the glucose that they need to grow.

Ecosystems are energy dependent as well. The ecologist Howard T. Odum in Environment, Power, and Society explains that ecosystems self-organize in a way that maximizes the useful energy obtained by the group of plants and animals.

Economies created by humans are in some respects very similar to ecosystems. They, too, self-organize and seem to be energy dependent. The big difference is that over one million years ago, pre-humans learned to control fire. As a result, they were able to burn biomass and indirectly add the energy this provided to the food energy that they otherwise had available. The energy from burning biomass was an early form of supplemental energy. How important was this change?

How Humans Gained Dominion Over Other Animals

James C. Scott, in Against the Grain, explains that being able to burn biomass was sufficient to turn around who was in charge: pre-humans or large animals. In one cave in South Africa, he indicates that a lower layer of remains found in the cave did not show any carbon deposits, and hence were created before pre-humans occupying the cave gained control of fire. In this layer, skeletons of big cats were found, along with scattered gnawed bones of pre-humans.

In a higher layer, carbon deposits were found. In this layer, pre-humans were clearly in charge. Their skeletons were much more intact, and the bones of big cats were scattered about and showed signs of gnawing. Who was in charge had changed.

There is other evidence of human domination becoming possible with the controlled use of fire. Studies show a dramatic drop in numbers of large mammals not long after settlement by humans in several areas outside Africa. (Jeremy Lent, The Patterning Instinct, based on P. S. Martin’s “Prehistoric overkill: A global model” in Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution.)

In recent times, humans have added fossil fuel energy, hydroelectric energy and nuclear energy to their “toolbox.” All of these energy sources have allowed humans to stay in charge.

Whether humans’ control of energy is good or bad depends on a person’s point of view. Without humans being in charge, the human population would likely be similar in size to that of the populations of chimps or gorillas–in other words, tiny in comparison to today’s human population. Furthermore, humans would be located only in the warmer parts of the world. As we will see in the next section, humans would not have evolved in the direction they did. Instead, they would have continued with only the abilities they had as pre-humans. They would have continued living in the wild, eating raw food and spending half of the day chewing it.

How the Controlled Burning of Biomass Produced Amazing Results 

Pre-humans learned to control the burning of sticks and other biomass over one million years ago. This new-found ability helped our ancestors in many ways:

(1) Pre-humans could cook part of their food. (Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human) The ability to cook food increased the variety of food that could be eaten because some foods need to be cooked to be edible. Chewing time could be greatly reduced (Chris Organ et al.), leaving more time for tool making. Moreover, cooking allowed nutrients in food to be better absorbed.

(2) Less of the energy from food was needed for the maintenance of large teeth, jaws, and guts. Instead, more energy could go into building a larger brain. In this way, our ancestors could outsmart their predators, instead of depending on their muscles and teeth.

(3) Pre-humans could use fire as a tool to burn down unwanted trees and brush, making it  easier to capture prey and encouraging new plant growth of a type more suitable as human food. Also, the fire itself could be used to frighten predators.

(4) Stone tools could be made sharper using heat.

(5) The heat from fire could be used to enlarge the range where pre-humans were able to live.

(6) Larger brains and frequent gatherings around campfires allowed language to develop.

(7) Humans, with their larger brains, were able to selectively breed different types of plants and animals, choosing characteristics that were better suited to their needs. As humans tamed fire and animals, they themselves became (in some sense) tamer.

The Physics Reason Why Energy Is So Important

We are all familiar with how the energy from food allows humans to grow. We also know how solar energy allows green plants to grow. Most physics instruction focuses on thermodynamically closed systems—that is, systems to which no new energy supply is added. Sometimes isolated systems are discussed—again a situation where no additional energy is available. In these situations, there is no growth—only a gradual depletion of the available energy supply, leading ultimately to “heat death.”

More recent analysis has shown that thermodynamically open systems, which are characterized by inflows of energy, are very different. They can, and do, change and grow. Hurricanes grow when heat from warm seawater is available. Stars grow as the result of the chemical reactions taking place within them. All of these structures (known as dissipative structures) are temporary in that they cannot continue to exist when suitable flows of energy are no longer available. They can also be undone in other ways, such as too much pollution or by other forms of “entropy.”

On earth, the energy system we experience is an open system. Energy from the sun is constantly being supplied. Energy made available by burning biomass and from burning fossil fuels is also being supplied, as is nuclear energy, in the form of electricity. The energy obtained from burned fossil fuels, in fact, reflects the re-release of ancient solar energy that was once stored in the bodies of small plants and animals. Under the proper temperature and pressure conditions, this stored energy had been slowly transformed into fossil fuels.

The Hidden Nature of Energy Consumption 

When humans burn fossil fuels today, they are able to access the use of this stored energy. Some researchers have talked about the ability to utilize fossil fuel energy as being similar to having “energy slaves.” In making this analogy, it has been observed that a human adult produces roughly the energy output of an always-on 100 watt light bulb. Even when humans were still hunter-gatherers, they made some use of energy slaves, approximately tripling the amount of energy available to the economy at that time. By the time the industrial period was reached, always-on watts per capita had climbed to 8000, indicating that energy available to industrialized humans was 80 times as high (8000/100 = 80) as the amount expected based on food energy alone. The huge increase represented primarily the use of fossil fuels.

Figure 1. Relationship between human energy use and population.

In Against the Grain, Scott finds that slave labor was very widely used in early civilizations. Male slaves were often used for tasks requiring heavy labor, such as mining and building roads. Today’s fossil fuel energy slaves can do these things and much more. For example, a truck operated on a road makes liberal use of fossil fuel energy slaves partly to make the road, partly to build the truck and partly as fuel to operate the truck.

Any commercial process requires energy in one or more forms. Part of the energy can be human energy. This human energy can be used in many ways such as typing on a computer, listening, thinking, operating machinery, speaking, digging in the ground, and walking. The rest of the energy is likely to consist partly of electricity and partly of fossil fuels burned for heat. (Some of this heat energy is converted to rotary motion in order to power vehicles.) Constructing a building requires a tremendous amount of energy; manufacturing a car is also energy-intensive. Heating and lighting a building require energy. Even obtaining a potable glass of cold water requires energy.

Figure 2 is a chart showing a breakdown of non-transportation energy consumption in the United States, based on data from the United States Energy Information Administration.

Figure 2. United States non-transportation energy consumption by sector, based on information from the US Energy Information Administration.

The residential percentage of non-transportation energy consumption rose from 23% in 1949 to 29% in 2017. We don’t have a world estimate of the breakdown of energy consumption for residential use, but the United States is probably unusually high with its 29% residential share. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, China’s energy consumption was only 11% residential in 2014.

If people do not understand how much of our energy consumption is hidden, it is easy for them to overestimate the benefit that can be achieved through energy conservation by individual citizens. A major use of supplemental energy (that is, beyond that available from food consumption) is to provide finished goods of all sorts, such as cars, homes, electricity transmission lines and roads. Supplemental energy consumption also provides the gift of free time. Without modern agricultural equipment, many more of us would be working long hours in the fields, leaving little time for advanced education and other modern pursuits. Another benefit of supplemental energy consumption is a much longer life expectancy, thanks to such things as clean water and antibiotics. Indirectly, supplemental energy consumption also provides jobs that pay well. Without supplemental energy consumption, there would be few jobs other than digging in the ground with a stick, in an attempt to grow food.

In a very real sense, the availability of inexpensive energy supplies that work to power existing machinery and equipment is what allows today’s economy to function.

How Can We Tell If Human Carrying Capacity Has Been Reached?

If we are discussing primates such as chimpanzees, baboons and gorillas, it is fairly easy to tell when the carrying capacity of the environments they inhabit has been reached. These primates depend on local food and water supplies. If there is not enough food to go around, the weakest and the lowest ranking will find themselves without enough high quality food, bringing the population back below the carrying capacity. In some cases, as population density rises, there may be aggression toward immigrants to the territory. Females have even been observed to kill the infant newborns of community members.

Humans have control of various types of energy supplies, in addition to food. These energy supplies make it easier to produce enough food for the overall population. People today are used to having things that wild animals do not have, such as clothing, education, climate controlled homes, transportation, medical care and retirement benefits. It should not be surprising that in our case, the first sign of reaching carrying capacity is something other than running out of food. In fact, the laws of physics suggest that reaching human carrying capacity is unlikely to be signaled by running out of any energy product, such as oil.

Instead, the issue that tends to arise as humans reach carrying capacity is increasing wage disparity. This issue arose in the 1930s, and it seems to be rising again now. Increasing wage disparity is a way, within our economy, of squeezing out some members, if there are not enough energy supplies to go around. Providing climate-controlled homes, automobiles, paved roads and electricity transmission lines for people all over the world would take a huge amount of energy supplies–far more than we have available today. Wage disparity assures that some groups cannot afford these goods and services, thereby effectively holding down demand for these goods and services.

Many people believe that oil prices are likely to rise very high, if there is a shortage. However, if wage disparity grows sufficiently large, any spike in prices is likely to be short lived. Instead, the energy limit that we are reaching may be prices that do not rise high enough to encourage adequate production of energy products. Without sufficient production of these energy products, there will be a shortfall of finished goods and services.

Physicist François Roddier in Thermodynamique de l’évolution : Un essai de thermo-bio-sociologie explains that when there is inadequate energy for an economy, the situation is similar to some members of the economy being “frozen out” through low wages. The same forces allow a rising portion of the wages (and other wealth) to go to the very rich. This situation is like steam rising. These individuals do not use very much of their wages to purchase goods and services made with commodities. Instead, they tend to use their wages for services (such as tax avoidance) that are not very energy intensive. Also, they tend to use their wealth in ways that tends to drive up asset prices, without adding true value. For example, buying previously issued shares of stock can have this effect.

Eventually, the poor are frozen out. In fact, in cases of extreme wage disparity, the problems can spread further as governments find it impossible to collect enough taxes to finance their spending.

What Characteristics Do Energy Supplies Need to Have?

Unless we are willing to give up our dominion over other species, including microbes, humans need to secure a supply of energy products that grows with human population. These energy products must precisely match the needs of current infrastructure. They also need to be inexpensive and non-polluting. They cannot add new problems of their own–new types of entropy.

At this point, we are running into difficulties. Fossil fuels are becoming ever more expensive to extract. They also lead to carbon dioxide and other pollution problems. Nuclear energy seems to be quite dangerous, given the problems with waste disposal and multiple accidents, including the one at Fukushima.

Wind and solar, and indeed hydropower, are not really solutions, either. For one thing, they are not very controllable. If humans expect to control their environment, they need to be in control of their energy resources. Even waterpower can vary by a huge amount, from month to month and from year to year.

Figure 3. California Hydroelectric Generation by Year, Based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Hydroelectric, wind and solar can be used in limited amounts, as part of a portfolio of energy products, but they cannot be used on their own, unless they are hugely overbuilt. In that case, only a very small portion (which can then be controlled) is used. Many people believe that storage can be used as an alternative to backup energy supplies, but the cost of adequate storage seems to be extraordinarily high because of the long-term nature of required storage. (Note also the apparent need for multiple-year storage indicated by the pattern on hydroelectric generation shown in Figure 3.) If humans expect to be in control of other species, humans need to be in control of the supply of energy resources.

Of course, choosing not to be in control is another option. In such a case, we can expect human death rates to rise rapidly. If this happens, women will again be valued for their ability to produce large numbers of children. Men will be valued for their strong muscles. The world will become a very different place.

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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2,426 Responses to Supplemental energy puts humans in charge

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Turkey’s banks are dangerously reliant on short-term foreign debt and risk a full-blown crisis unless drastic measures are taken to stabilize the plummeting Turkish lira.

    “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to accept austerity measures or call in the International Monetary Fund to restore credibility, falling back on defiant rhetoric as the financial meltdown threatens to metastasize.

    “The currency weakened to a record low of $5.57 to the dollar, crashing over 5pc on Thursday in a capitulation rout. The lira has lost 37pc since late February. It is a brutal shock for firms with $220bn (£170bn) of hard currency debt…”

    “In a surreal twist, there is scarcely a word on the unfolding crisis in most of Turkey’s newspapers, a sign of the enveloping political suffocation of the media under Mr Erdogan’s authoritarian one-man rule.

    “The plunging currency has left banks and large parts of the corporate sector scrambling to cover dollar debts… Foreign banks with $267bn of exposure to Turkey are starting to suffer fall-out…

    “Emerging market countries were able to get away with credit booms and deficit spending when interest rates across the developed world were near zero, and G4 central banks were adding $2 trillion a year to the global financial system through quantitative easing.

    “It is a different story in 2018 as the monetary tide turns. The US Federal Reserve is raising rates briskly and reversing QE, draining the pool of worldwide dollar liquidity.

    “Emerging markets have racked up $7.2 trillion of dollar debt in loans, bond issues, and equivalent derivatives. Those who were swimming naked are being found out.

    “Argentina and Turkey were living the furthest beyond their means on foreign funding, and were the most exposed. The question is whether Indonesia, South Africa, Lebanon, Colombia and Hungary, among others, risk the same fate as the global cost of borrowing ratchets relentlessly upwards.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/09/turkey-nears-point-no-return-lira-crisis-spreads-banking-system/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      And the lira fell further overnight:

      “The Turkish lira has tumbled nearly 12 per cent against the dollar as concern over Europe’s exposure to its recent fall overshadowed promises by the Turkish government to bolster the economy. The currency fell to all-time low beyond TL6 per dollar on Friday morning after sinking more than 5 per cent overnight… the lira was still down more than 35 per cent in the year to date.”

      https://www.ft.com/content/51311230-9be7-11e8-9702-5946bae86e6d

    • Growing debt is good, if debt really is productive!

      Growing debt is bad, if it only finances living beyond a country’s means.

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The European Central Bank has warned that US tariffs are in danger of reaching their highest levels for half a century as its concerns mount about the impact of Donald Trump’s trade policy on eurozone growth. The ECB said in its latest monthly bulletin on Thursday that “downside risks to the global economy have intensified” after the introduction of protectionist measures by the US and China last month and the threat of further retaliation.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/e3e6261a-9bbf-11e8-9702-5946bae86e6d

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The EU has caved in to demands to buy more US gas in a bid to cool trade tensions with the world’s largest economy… The plans to purchase more US gas were unveiled ahead of crunch trade talks set to take place on August 20. The summit is aimed at halting the escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of imports imposed by the US and EU in recent months.”

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/09/eu-caves-demands-buy-us-gas-bid-stave-trade-war/

      • Well, here he is apparent new rent seeking scheme in practice, lets build up new infrastructure for the most expensive option out there, voila US liquefied gas..

        Europeans were not interested (or defended enough) in cheaper future option for natgas from that Iran/Qatari joint field connected via Syria (Greece/Italy/..) into Europe. The existing old Ukraine bound natgas pipeline network could be closed for ever any day, and is basically subsidized by EU already, effectively replacing what the oligarchs there steal out of the network each day. And the second phase of Baltic undersea pipeline from Russia is mostly defended by Germany alone..

        In summary, it’s crystal clear who is on the loosing side here and why, partly because of incompetence, greed, fear, and partly out of direct inner sabotage (by EU and national level die hard atlantistics)..

        Europe is on its way to swift and self inflicted premature self destruction, good riddance..

        • xabier says:

          ‘When Allah wishes to destroy a people, he puts their fools and imbeciles in charge.’ Syrian proverb.

      • There is a huge cost to making LNG, transporting it across the ocean, and regassifying it. I believe it is on the order of $4 per million Btus to send the gas to Europe. The price of US natural gas is something like $2.85 per million Btus. So it costs more to ship the natural gas than to extract it and get it to Henry Hub. It also sends the CO2 and methane emissions through the roof. The problem is keeping European import LNG prices high enough so that buying the expensively shipped US gas makes sense.

        The purpose of sending a large amount of natural gas to Europe is to try to bid up the US natural gas price, because producers find the $2.85 price too low.

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A trade war may not be China’s biggest problem. Analysts are cautioning against the country’s use of wealth-management products, or groups of financial instruments that are sold as one high-yield investment. Takahide Kiuchi, an economist at Nomura, thinks they may even pose risks that mirror those that led up to the Great Recession.

    “”The situation revolving around these [wealth-management products] is similar to the residential mortgage-backed securities problem in the US that eventually triggered the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis,” Kiuchi said.”

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/china-debt-draws-comparison-to-us-financial-crisis-2018-8

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The corruption scandal that broke in Argentina last week could be a political godsend for President Mauricio Macri — and an economic nightmare for the country.

    “A federal judge is probing hundreds of alleged bribes paid by construction companies, energy suppliers and electricity generators to members of the former government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. While the accusations may derail Fernandez’s hopes of a comeback, aiding Macri, they could also halt investment in a country already threatened with recession after a collapse in the peso.”

    https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/2018/08/09/argentine-bonds-slump-as-graft-scandal-pushes-economy-to-brink#gs.xlW6iGM

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Ecuador has declared a state of emergency in three northern states after a large influx of migrants from crisis-ridden Venezuela entered the country via Colombia.”

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/180809102416737.html

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Brazil’s reputation as the murder capital of the world was confirmed after the country beat its own record for the number of homicides in a single year.

        “The South American country saw 63,880 killed in 2017, a 3.7 per cent rise on the previous year, according to the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (BFPS).

        “The figures come just months before a presidential election in which violence has become a key issue.”

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6046489/Brazil-breaks-murder-record-63-880-killings-one-year-fuelled-gang-warfare.html

      • Greg Machala says:

        Why not stay in Columbia? How long can Columbia and Ecuador take in immigrants before they too hit crisis levels? And what of Brazil? Argentina? It looks like South America is on the verge of collapse. They can’t go to Mexico. There is no where for them to go except the US. This is a major problem brewing.

      • grayfox says:

        Latin Americans moving from one country in South America to another country in SA – this doesn’t seem all that alarming to me. I suspect a move to the USA is not at the top of their list of preferred destinations. Maybe 50, 60 years ago…but now? US culture leaves much to be desired. Can’t even qualify for World Cup.

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…right now, the debt market is broadcasting a dangerous message: Investors, desperate for debt instruments that pay high interest, have been overpaying for riskier and riskier obligations. University endowments, pension funds, mutual funds and hedge funds have been pouring money into the bond market with little concern that bonds can be every bit as dangerous to own as stocks…

    “…trillions of dollars in invested capital could be lost. If that happens, as it did after September 2008, access to credit for most borrowers could dry up, setting off yet another potentially devastating economic crisis.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The price of copper has continued to plummet – a worrying sign for the global economy. Over the past year it slumped by 18% from highs of more than $7,300 per tonne to around $6,100.”

      https://moneyweek.com/493100/dr-coppers-grim-prognosis-for-the-global-economy/

      • Enough money has to get back as wages of the non-elite, to keep the whole cycle going. When it slows or stops, prices don’t stay high enough.

        Part of the problem is how high the US dollar is right now. Euro is 1.14 to the dollar. British pound is about 1.28. Turkish Lira is .18 to US dollar. Argentina’s Peso is .036 to the dollars.

    • It is looking more and more like late 2007 and early 2008. There is a big debt bubble, trying to get more and more energy and other commodities. But the return on the debt is dreadful. Prices on commodities are sort of high. Actually, they are as high as they can go, given the anemic wage gains workers have been getting. But this is not enough to produce sufficient actual goods to meet expectations. Something has to give. If the debt bubble collapses, oil prices will fall considerably.

  6. xabier says:

    The Guardian has an article about an eco-village in Ireland. Total farce, but what stood out was that the company which provided their solar panels went bust, and they are back on grid electricity – but still ‘almost self-sufficient’. Mains water too, I bet. Ah, the delusion……..

    • Unfortunately the power of illusions is immense among all humanoids.

      Well, 17yrs ago someone decided it’s a high time to finally blast the new toy in the open: ~1.25Mtons of steel, aluminium, concrete, glass and furniture turned almost instantly into dust cloud as the Earth’s magnetic field wobbled down by a corresponding (tiny) notch for the release of such needed dosage of energy, just span of few seconds really, very successful overall demonstration indeed.

      Now, putting aside the crazy neonazis (for lack of better term) who commissioned and oversaw implementation of that event, if we rather focus on the “good doers” instead – they somehow believe tapping into the same stuff could be called “free” and or “100%” clean energy and live merrily for ever after. The problem obviously is we don’t know the scale and boundaries how much tapping (even continuously!) into it is safe measure given the overall legacy “equilibrium” planetary system, e.g. shielding cosmic rays, keeping the atmosphere, core/magma stability etc. I’ve not done the detailed numbers but scale guesstimate tells us eventually living off it means very simple and communal lifestyles at best, while condemned paying large overhead to keep the JITs operational for it, it’s no way on the level as such frivolously wasteful society as we have had up today.

      So again back to square one, the past ~ 250yrs of releasing the stored fossil energy created such gargantuan misplacing of priorities and dependencies, that it’s doubtful scaling down consumerism is possible, not mentioning the very brutal rate of scale down likely necessary for any attempt in that fashion.

      In retrospect, it could had been an (extra-) ordinary press conference for Cheney and da gang just briefly explaining there is no viable solution for mankind, so what, deal with it ants. But being of evidently creteniou$ persuasion, no they had to resort to spectacular circus show effects, following protracted wars, and what have you.

      Well, I get the argument as FE often makes here, that he got ~20yrs of extra opulence out of it, e.g. posh skiing trips etc., so it was nice personal addendum of cornucopia illusion for the few anyway..

    • Third World person says:

      powered by ai and robots

    • Third World person says:

      btw here is the video from that eco-village in 2007

      • Greg Machala says:

        “Eco!” I love that little quantifier. Makes even the most vile of human activities seem environmentally friendly and sustainable. Eco-housing. Eco-car. Eco-battery. Eco-nuclear, Eco-toxic waste. Whatever wares you are selling just put the quantifier “eco” in front of it and Voila, your saving the planet.

  7. Third World person says:

    Extreme drought causes EU vegetables ‘most serious’ crisis in 40 years

    Europe’s prolonged extreme drought has caused the most severe problems to the EU vegetable sector in the last 40 years, according to the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processors (PROFEL).

    “With the hot and dry weather continuing throughout July across most parts of the continent, vegetables have continued to suffer and crop yields have fallen sharply. Today the situation for vegetable growers and processors is the most serious that has been experienced in the last forty years,” the association said in a statement.

    Contacted by EURACTIV, PROFEL said the EU countries particularly affected by the drought are France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Hungary and Poland.

    The association said the frozen and canned vegetable sector has been most affected, where field losses have resulted in reduced and irregular deliveries of fresh vegetables to the processing factories, leading to increased production costs and fewer products processed.

    However, a spokesperson did not confirm that the increased overhead cost could eventually lead to final price hikes.

    Peas and beans

    According to PROFEL, 2018 is the third successive year that the sector faces serious weather-related issues.

    Significant reductions in field yields are reported for peas and beans ranging from 20% up to 50%.

    “In certain production regions in the South of Europe, the first harvest of beans has also been affected by heavy storms (floods and hail). For onions losses are reported between 15 and 50%; courgettes and spinach are also affected. In many regions the sowing of second crops: spinach, beans or cauliflower, is simply not possible due to the drought,” PROFEL said.

    In light of the extreme drought, the European Commission recently decided to assist affected member states by derogating from greening requirements and by receiving direct and rural development payments in advance.

    https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/extreme-drought-causes-eu-vegetables-most-serious-crisis-in-40-years/

    look like another arab spring type of event about to be happen again

  8. MG says:

    What is the principle that lies behind imposing the sanctions on certain countries and why these sanctions work?

    The aggressive political regimes are in fact aggressive populations, i.e. too high population in relation to the natural conditions and available resources, including energy. You can call it a dictatorship, but it is always about the population and its needs and wishes.

    When you know this underlying reason for aggression, it is easy to destroy your aggressor wih a few simple tricks that suppress the weakening growth which is achieved with rising difficulties and induce the gigantic power of implosion.

    • I think the problem is that our world resource boat is sinking, and there are not enough life boats for everyone. So the game seems to be to push weaker members out of the boat. But I will have to agree with you that sanctions against Russia and Iran don’t make a whole lot of sense, if the world is depending on them for oil. It would seem like we could continue longer with them, than without them.

      Perhaps the goal is to create a grouping of relatively stronger countries that can survive, and push the currency relativities of other countries lower. With low currency relativities, it becomes difficult to buy imports.

      Maybe someone else has some better ideas.

      • MG says:

        The countries with mild temperatures survive, so imposing the sanctions destroys the countries with too hot or too cold temperatures easily and leaves their resources for the countries with milder climate. I think this is how it works. The aggression of the countries with high energy needs is now always temporary, as there is no easy energy in other countries they attack. The aggression of one country towards another country is just about seeking the outside enemy as the reason for the imminent internal implosion. That is why the imminent internal implosion of the aggressor can be triggered easily when imports of such countries are reduced.

        The sanctions work in todays globalized world. where no one can survive without others, as the currently needed resources are distributed in such a way that one country has something which other countries do not have. They sanctios not work before when the countries could survive isolated based on their low populations and the resources that were not depleted. The resource base for survival in the past was much simpler, like some basic metals, food etc. Today, the survival of the populations requires e.g. rare earths and sophisticated products and services.

        • MG says:

          I would again stress the important dichotomy: too hot means not enough water, too cold means not enough energy. The energy needs to flow, so it needs some liquid substance, of which the water is the central liquid, as water is a neutral carrier present in every living creature, i.e. humans, too.

          The zero degrees Celzius is the dead point when the water freezes and the life ends.

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