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. Baby Doomer says:

    National debt jumps $500 billion in less than six months

  2. Baby Doomer says:

    Middle-class Americans can’t afford another $22 trillion financial crash

    • Artleads says:

      The study found that the so-called “Great Recession” that started in 2008 has cost every single person in the United States $70,000, or, to put it differently, almost $23 trillion in total lost gross domestic product (GDP). The study’s conclusion was that much of that loss is permanent:

      “Our estimates suggest that the economy is unlikely to regain this large output loss and GDP is unlikely to revert to its previous trend level. Financial market disruptions can have large costs in terms of societal welfare by causing persistent losses in the level of GDP.”

  3. Baby Doomer says:

    The Financial Crisis Cost Every American $70,000, Fed Study Says

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Yep, the last stand is the Permian—
      Still resources, but transportation is the problem, and won’t be solved for a while.
      So we get a good peak soon.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        (Permian has been beat on for over 50 years, so I would expect the problem to grow a lot more in the future. )

  4. Ed says:

    I am concerned about the lack of diversity in universities. Half the population has an IQ below average. Yet they are highly under represented in universities, particularly in departments like theoretical physics. This can not stand!

  5. milan says:

    A very important lecture about fuel cell tech. this is very interesting from Loop Energy.

    • Ed says:

      A fuel cell like a battery allows one to displace the emissions of pollutants to a location other than the location of final energy use. Just as California displaces its coal burning emissions to states located down wind of California.

      Energy currently comes mostly from coal, oil, nat gas. So the pollution of burning these to make hydrogen can be placed in some poor third world nation like Nigeria, Chad, Mali and the hydrogen can be shipped at added energy use to nice clean places like British Columbia. It will be the new colonialism dumping our waste products on the third world.

  6. CTG says:

    Surplus energy (or what Gail states as Supplementary energy) is what brings us to our present state. Surplus energy allows homo sapiens to have a more complex society. Complex society brings the illusion of stability because people tend to be complacent thinking that with all the “technology”, nothing will go wrong. This is has been true since the times of Roman empire.

    Homo sapiens will abandon previous “state of advancement” once a new level is obtained. This new level is obtained via surplus energy. When the previous state is abandoned, probably 99.99% of the skills and knowledge will disappear. Transition from hunter-gatherer to farming (loss of hunting skills); loss of knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants; transition from stone age to bronze age (making tools from stones); does the new generation knows analogue telephones?

    Once the old method is not used, it is gone for good and there is no bringing back. We have heard so many countries are bypassing “laying copper cables” and directly to fibre optics. No cables, just wireless.

    Some people can just imagine “Little House on the Prairie”. That is totally impossible.

    • I agree. Even if we can find an old book on, say, tool making, we can’t set up the whole chain that would allow us to make tools. Current metals often require heating at very high temperatures, to try to rework them. We already know that cutting down forests to make charcoal, so as to have fuel that will burn hot enough to smelt iron quickly leads to deforestation. If we could find more ore of the right kind, it would need to transport it to a location where it could be smelted. We can’t expect these things to happen again, with depleted ores.

      • Artleads says:

        And it’s now starting to transfer me to a state of elevated temperature when everybody picks on coal as the cause of every ill in the world. It isn’t. There are many things that if you did without them while still using coal would result in a much better outcome than we’re facing now.

        • Ed says:

          More frugal leads to less pollution sure. Combined with 90% fewer people leads to even less pollution.

          • Artleads says:

            I don’t think it has much to do with population, given some common sense and rationality.

            • Ed says:

              A global population of 700 billion will be fine?

            • Artleads says:

              Of course not. Since there isn’t the energy or land for that many people, it’s widely understood that population can grow only to a limited extent from the present. Since there are hardly enough resources for 7 billion, no one is thinking there will be enough for 700 billion.

            • Artleads says:

              However, the management of resources for the 7 billion is ridiculous, and could surely be improved without a necessary mass die off. And unless you’re a prepper thinking there’s some way to wait it out in a bunker somewhere, you wouldn’t give the species much of a chance in a mass die off.

      • interguru says:

        A solar furnace ( ) can melt metal

        The rays are focused onto an area the size of a cooking pot and can reach 4,000 °C (7,230 °F), depending on the process installed, for example

        I am not sure of its practicality. They have been around for many decades are still a specialty item.

        • I can see solar furnaces as being part of today’s attempt to be green. But we don’t have nearly enough of them, and we wouldn’t ge building more.

    • xabier says:

      Exactly CTG: prizes are awarded in Britain for people ‘preserving’ old useful crafts: but with, say. only a handful of masters, when once every small town had that many, and with the old supporting infrastructures gone, it’s quite futile.

      A nice way to pass their time, though.

      The rungs of the ladder have been kicked away, leaving only a very long pole to slide down……. fast.

    • MG says:

      The problem with the lack of energy is that the progress stops, i. e. we do not have the energy to recycle the old world into the new one. We can have a lot of things, but the problems starts when we can not transform them into what is needed for our survival, so that we can face the actual needs or threats.

      • MG says:

        And this happens in the lives of individual people with low wages: the progress is still present in the case of the people with high wages, but the progress stops for you, when you are poor.

        As a poor person, you can not change much, because you do not have energy for fighting the natural forces like gravitation or other species, like animals, plants, bacteria etc.

      • Artleads says:

        What kind of energy does it take not to tear down old and useful things? I live in a coal town, and it took a high level of cluelessness, but no known lack of energy, to make them scatter all the coal mining infrastructure to the winds. They sold the mineshaft to a woman who knows how to run the tavern next door, but not to manage the mineshaft, and who further throws, sells, donates to friends every useful piece of mining equipment she can/ Lack of knowledge and culture; no lack of energy.

        • Just allowing wind and solar to go first allows old and useful electricity generating plants to be closed, even though wind and solar can’t really replace them. There are some “capacity payments” in some place, to backup providers to try to offset this effect, but I doubt this is enough.

          • Artleads says:

            “…allowing wind and solar to go first…”, as in not further subsidizing them financially or politically?

        • MG says:

          The lack of energy is not so much visible where the energy source is closed, but where the energy from this source is consumed. The old energy source can still be replaced, but the question is whether the new energy source provides more cheap energy or less of it, i.e. it is an energy sink, which is more probable with the depletion.

          • Artleads says:

            This is hard to understand. What would this new energy be?

            • MG says:

              Like nuclear instead coal: when the nuclear plants in Slovakia were built in the 70s and 80s, the workers came and built the very high voltage lines, corssing also the territory of my village. It is one of the few events of my childhood I can remember, as they had to cut wide corridors across forests, which changed the countryside. Thus, towns in the north part of the country were connected to the nuclear, instead of coal, they were relying on before.

              Then, in the 90s, the natural gas pipelines came here in my village, which again, changed the way the people heated their homes or cooked the food.

            • Artleads says:

              It sounds as if their basic premise was to keep the civilization going along the same industrial lines as before. Like raising the bridge every time, but never lowering the water as an alternative. The latter might equate to moving peripheral places off the industrial map, a more rational political system, and very extreme conservation. I’m sure many would discount any such things, and rather go along with the present form of civilization while bracing for impact. That’s their privilege.

  7. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    fun fact:

    the atmosphere was three molecules of C O 2 per 9,997 other molecules…

    now it is four molecules of C O 2 per 9,996 other molecules…

    try not to lose any sleep over that data…

    wink wink…

  8. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    here is the Falling Demand Theme again:

    “US crude posts 7th straight weekly loss, settling at $65.91, on weaker demand outlook”

    let me highlight the Theme:


    and that could be extrapolated:

    in the future, there may NEVER be a shortage of oil supply…

    now, just to be clear…

    I’m NOT predicting that there will never be a shortage…


    there is much more to the oil story than just production, which of course MUST decline in the future…

    but it’s a race…

    which will fall first and fastest?

    oil production or demand?

    ps: nobody knows for sure…

    • Baby Doomer says:

      Considering the world is adding around 1 billion new people around every 15 years..I wouldn’t hold your breathe on demand dropping..

  9. Baby Doomer says:

    ‘Idiocracy’ Come True: Even Pentagon Says Morons Are Inheriting the Earth

  10. Baby Doomer says:

    Oil consumption growth is largely immune to economics. You have to eat. Oil brings food to your mouth.

    Have a look at oil consumption decline during 2008/2009 great recession.. Nearly none.
    The track with population growth is much more aligned.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    And next… more on Elon’s upcoming gender change surgery with Dr Sanjay Gupta

    • If I were a physician in need of income, I could set up a practice specializing in prescribing support animals for patients. I am sure that there would be a big call for my services.

  12. Baby Doomer says:

    More Bridges Will Collapse

    Two disasters in Europe are the latest examples of the decline of infrastructure—as an idea as much as a physical thing.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      It is all about the Permian—–
      ND will soon be in the rear view mirror, IMHO.
      Rates of extraction are at the top, but production per well is dropping.

  13. Baby Doomer says:

    2017 was the worst year ever for drug overdose deaths in America

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      or was it the best year ever?

      depends on how you look at it…

      • Tim Groves says:

        If you value your own business more than anything else, it depends on whether you are a drug dealer or an undertaker.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          or is it merely that population reduction is actually good for the world?

          on a side note, and almost sickening to consider, but when a user dies, the dealer has one less customer…

          so that’s not a good business model…

          • xabier says:

            Drug dealers murder (bad debt) customers every now and then, to make the others pay up promptly…..

  14. Rodster says:

    Not only is Lake Mead at a critical threshold but the Colorado River is running dry. Welcome to a finite world, people out West.

    “Leaking Las Vegas: West’s Biggest Reservoir Nears Critical Threshold”

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Specifically, the amount of water allocated was based on an expectation that the river’s average flow was 16,400,000 acre feet (20.2 km3) per year (641 m³/s). Subsequent tree ring studies, however, have concluded that the long-term average water flow of the Colorado is significantly less. Estimates have included 13,200,000 acre feet (16.3 km3) per year (516 m³/s),[14] 13,500,000 acre feet (16.7 km3) per year (528 m3/s),[15] and 14,300,000 acre feet (17.6 km3) per year (559 m3/s).[16] Many analysts have concluded that when the compact was negotiated, the period used as the basis for “average” flow of the river (1905–1922) included periods of abnormally high precipitation,[17] and that the recent drought in the region is in fact a return to historically typical patterns.

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        “… a return to historically typical patterns.”


        so Duncan (who is that Nacnud guy?)…

        I would like your take on this:

        how is it that, now that the atmosphere is up to FOUR molecules of C O 2 per 10,000, that there can be a “return” to a pattern when it was only THREE per 10,000?

        really, I am curious to hear your answer…


        • Ohadi Nacnud says:

          What goes up must eventually go down, sraeynoilliznoillirtnoillibnoillim001nidivaD.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Looks like we’ve hit peak Colorado River water consumption. From now on, the more the population depending on the river increases, the less water will be available per capita, innit?

        The blue line represents the historic annual water supply and the red line the historic water consumption.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          Duncan says that the 1905-1922 period was likely abnormally high…

          and that the region is returning to a more historically typical amount of precipitation…

          pre 1905, not shown on your graph…

        • Interesting! Yes, we definitely have a peak water per capita problem there, even if we don’t know precisely what the population is.

          If only the early section of supply had been available, it would be hard to see that year to year variability could become higher. The whole system could not be counted on, as much as researchers thought.

        • doomphd says:

          i guess mathematically, the red line cannot exceed the average of the blue line, because humans (and their pets) cannot survive withour water. in fact, living with no surplus there is dangerous.

  15. Yoshua says:

    I had a fever as a child that frightened me. I have been trying to cure it with tobacco, alcohol, hashish, opium and magic mushrooms, but I’m not sure if I got the cocktail right, since I haven’t reached the state of comfortable numb.

  16. Baby Doomer says:

    ‘We Bleed Diesel:’ Truckers Nearing Worst Price Shock Since 2008

    Tighter ship-fuel rules seen boosting diesel demand, prices

    ‘Everyone missed this in our industry’: trucking association

  17. Baby Doomer says:

    Ever since oil became scarce in the 21st century, debts have exploded..You can’t have globalism with high oil prices because they cause too much inflation..And when the oil starts to run short- that is the ball game for the global economy..

    • Baby Doomer says:

      Too few people understand that an economy can’t grow without abundant, cheap energy. We are all out. We’ve been out since the 70’s. Our economy has given the illusion of growth since then but all we’ve really done is increase the debt. We now have more debt than there is money to pay for it. We are running all-out for the end zone, and no one even realizes that the runner has dropped the ball.

    • Gregory Machala says:

      Terrible timing! Just when we need to find oil faster and faster to maintain our exponential blast right through the ceiling. Darn!

    Frackers Burn Cash to Sustain U.S. Oil Boom

    (FE, yes I know you may not agree with the 100$ a barrel in the conclusion, but you dont need to use words like more on delusional, its fine)

    • Greg Machala says:

      This is just another way to kick the can a bit farther down the road. The first oil discoveries knocked the cans out of the ballpark. Now (with a lot of debt and a little luck) we can barely move the cans a few inches.

  19. Third World person says:

    Older than dinosaurs: last South African coelacanths threatened by oil exploration

    Just 30 of the prehistoric fish known to exist, raising fears oil wells will push it to extinction
    Bright blue, older than dinosaurs and weighing as much as an average-sized man, coelacanths are the most endangered fish in South Africa and among the rarest in the world.

    Barely 30 of these critically-endangered fish are known to exist off the east coast of South Africa, raising concern that a new oil exploration venture in the area could jeopardise their future.

    Coelacanths, whose shape has remained almost unchanged for 420m years, captured world attention when the first living specimen was caught off the port city of East London in 1938. This discovery was followed by the subsequent capture of several more off the Comoros islands in the early 1950s, confirming that coelacanths were definitely not extinct.

    another species is gonna get extinction by homo sapiens

  20. Third World person says:

    The San Onofre nuclear plant is a ‘Fukushima waiting to happen’

    Southern California Edison is keeping 3.6 million pounds of lethal radioactive waste at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant in San Clemente.

    The waste poses a significant threat to the health, safety and economic vitality of the region’s more than 8 million residents. But Edison’s plan for storing it is unnerving at best.

    The idea is to bury the spent fuel on site, about 100 feet from the ocean and just a few feet above the water table. Edison has already begun transferring the waste from cooling pools into specially designed steel canisters. The containers are prone to corrosion and cracking, and cannot be monitored or repaired. Work crews even discovered a loose bolt inside one of the canisters earlier this year.

    But flawed storage containers are just one of many worrisome aspects of the scheme. San Onofre sits on an active earthquake fault, in an area where there is a record of past tsunamis. It is close to Interstate 5, the railroad line that Amtrak runs on, and the Marines’ Camp Pendleton.

    Don’t you know everyone loves nuke plants, and that radiation isn’t dangerous, as proven by Fukushima and Chernobyl? In fact, we should press the Trump administration to mandate that those 3.6 million pounds of radioactive waste be sprinkled on our food, along with all the glyphosate we’re already eating.

    Two great tastes that taste great together.

    • Kurt says:

      I’m sure the folks in charge are highly trained engineers. Really, what could go wrong?

    • Greg Machala says:

      There are “Fukushima’s” everywhere you look: pollution, finance, resource, energy, health, weather and even space threats. It is amazing we made it this deep into the industrial revolution.

  21. Baby Doomer says:

    China ‘training for strikes’ on US targets

  22. Fast Eddy says:

    Breaking News : Elon Musk Commits Su i cid e

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Greg Machala says:

      You know it wouldn’t surprise me if Elon came out as transgender. Everything Tesla is just going bonkers lately.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And then Justin T would announce he is breaking up with his wife… and settling down with Elonia….

        That would complete me…

  23. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Elon Musk has given an extraordinary interview during which he burst out in tears, asked for someone to take his job as Tesla CEO and admitted he relies on Ambien to sleep.

    “The 47-year-old is facing mounting pressure and an SEC investigation over a tweet sent last week claiming to have ‘secured funding’ to take Tesla private.

    “Today’s interview with the New York Times is likely to increase that pressure after he admitted to a raft of personal problems, exhaustion and says his friends are concerned for his health.

    “Musk described the past year as ‘excruciating’ and the ‘most difficult and most painful year of his career’.

    “The interview also raises concerns about Musk’s drug use. It claims the board is aware that he uses ‘recreational drugs’ and Musk himself admits to frequently relying on Ambien to sleep.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

    • Fast Eddy says:

      He’s probably teary because he’s not had his fix of Ambien … and is beginning to realize the amount of shi t he is facing for lying to punish shorts

    • Musk has made the startling discovery that making $billions by moving electrons around with electrical energy is not the same as making $billions by moving physical objects around with electrical energy

      he compounded his mistake by confusing money input with energy output

      I coulda told him that, but he didn’t ask

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I hope he cracks… and spends the final days of BAU in a high-priced cuckoo house

        He’s meant to be saving the planet – yet his goal is to send people into space for joy rides.

        Can we just collapse and put us out of our collective insanity.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Here’s a thought … didn’t a diver die trying to rescue the boys from the cave in Thailand?

          Why doesn’t Elon make a gesture and offer to donate something to the surviving family members… perhaps a scholarship for the kids of the brave chap who died volunteering to help others.

          Of course not Elon. You f789ing jerk off … you’re too up your a.rse popping Ambien and snorting coke

        • Greg Machala says:

          Did J.D. Rockerfeller collapse due to pressures of building a petroleum empire? I think he lived to be nearly 100 years old. And institutions and landmarks are named after him. His fortune still survives to this day. His descendants have him to thank for their prosperity too. If batteries and electric cars are such a game changer then why isn’t the electric car making Elon the new J.D. Rockerfeller? Seems to me that petroleum products had incredibly high returns on investments. Electric cars and batteries however, probably don’t break even.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Describing his ‘most painful year’ Musk said he had nearly missed his brother Kimbal Musk’s lavish wedding to environmental activist Christiana Wyly in Spain.

      Kimbal officially married Christiana, the daughter of billionaire Sam Wyly, on April 7, but celebrated the event with around 300 guests at Greco-Roman ruins near Girona.

      Elon Musk said he had nearly missed the wedding of his brother Kimbal (pictured in Spain)

      Oh look… it’s the ‘environmentalists’ … relaxing poolside at a 5 star hotel made of concrete prior to their lavish wedding…

      I bet there won’t be plastic straws though!

      I really do hope such people die very painful deaths… they need to suffer.

      • Ed says:

        but but but they are environmentalists all lies all the time, global culture and news

      • zenny says:

        I got a doctors note so I am good on straws I have one of the good health plans that covers OTC.
        I am fighting with them to buy me some gear so I can grow some of it. I qualify for 8 plants.
        I know first world problems.

      • Greg Machala says:

        He is no environmentalist. The only “environmentalists” are the handful of native tribes of Central and South America and other remote locations. He is a charlatan. Just like all the other Holier-Than-Thou Hollywood wannabe saviors of the world.

    • Musk at helm or not, the longer the company churns batt packs and drive trains the better.. these will be available for pennies in the next slump..

    • xabier says:

      All makes sense if he is just a figurehead, way out of his depth.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Child-like behaviour….

        Admitting to recreational drug use…. as the head of a listed company…..

    • Price is currently off about 9%, thanks to the interview. Current price $305.50.

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be a “mistake we would regret for generations”, Jeremy Hunt [the UK Foreign Secretary] has said.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Snaking through the verdant flat lands of north-eastern Germany, the A20 runs through Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election district. She opened the key artery for the former communist region at a ceremony not far from the Zur Kastanie in December 2005, less than a month after she was first sworn in as the country’s leader.

      “Twelve years later, the four-lane highway caved in after the foundations gave way in the marshy landscape, marking the clearest sign of a growing infrastructure crisis.”

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Thanks to political risks and regulatory changes, Italian lenders may be reluctant to snap up domestic government bonds during market stresses — a potentially huge structural shift in demand in the euro area’s second-most indebted nation.”

      • This is a link to the 2016-2017 Quality of Roads Scorecard by the World Economic Forum.

        United Arab Emirates is first; Madagascar is dead last.

        Japan (with its huge debt, often spent on roads, and few people who can afford to drive on them) is #5. Actually Netherlands, Japan, France, Switzerland, and Austria are close together win positions #4 through #8.

        With rounding, Germany’s numerical rating is shown as the same as that of the US. The US is #13, and Germany is #16, but there is not a huge difference.

        The UK is quite a bit behind at #27. It is just above #28 Turkey, #29 South Africa, and #30 Chile. Ireland comes in at #32 and Israel at #33. Italy is at #46. New Zealand is at #47. India is at #51. Mexico is at #58, just above Greece at 59. Norway is at #61. (I remember an awfully lot of one-lane roads in Norway. I can imagine that a high road tax is needed just to keep up the roads it has.)

        Building roads is one of the things that reaches diminishing returns quickly. Adding a few very good roads (and railroads) greatly helps transportation. But keeping up a huge complex of roads doesn’t really add anything to productivity. It just keeps a country sort of where it is.

        Notable for being bad: Russia at #123 and Ukraine at #134.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          The roads here on Islay are terrible. They’re mostly built on peaty soil, which subsides, and there is a lot of precipitation…

          It is looking more and more as if a Brexit no-deal is on the cards – a most unsettling prospect. I do hope they can arrange a fudge or a postponement.

          “Time is running out to strike a Brexit deal, according to the Danish finance minister, who has echoed warnings that there is a 50-50 chance of Britain crashing out of the European Union without an agreement in place.”

          “The mayor of London says he has “no choice” but to order London’s crisis planners to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

          “Sadiq Khan said the London Resilience Forum would assess the impact of Britain crashing out of the EU on access to medicine, energy and food, as well as the ability to maintain emergency care, law and order.

          “The group, whose 170 member organisations include police and the emergency services, is charged with preparing for and responding to crises including terror attacks, the Grenfell Tower fire and any situation “which threatens serious damage to human welfare”.”

          • I am sure roads depend on funds available to spend on them. Also, the price of materials used. If asphalt is used, a rising oil price makes it more expensive.

            March 29, 2019 is the Brexit date, as I understand it. But I imagine things will go downhill in advance, I suppose.

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              Before oil prices crashed in 2014 Scotland was deriving a third of its revenue from the North Sea oil industry.

              I’ve been conscious of belt-tightening up here with the council attempting to make swingeing cuts to the school budget, for example, and encountering fierce resistance, not least of all from my wife, who happens to be very good at fierce resistance.

              One is very conscious here on Islay of the fragility of supply-chains and the fleeting nature of our fossil fuel-derived abundance.

          • Islay is a beautiful place—but it was never intended to withstand the impact of modern traffic even at a low key level

            maybe it’s offering an early warning to all of us—the world was never intended for wheels and engines.

            if you think about it, our current problems didnt start until we linked engines to wheels

          • Fast Eddy says:


            Sadiq Khan said the London Resilience Forum would assess the impact of Britain crashing out of the EU on access to medicine, energy and food, as well as the ability to maintain emergency care, law and order.

            Perhaps an excuse for lockdown as the economy craters? If hard Brexit were to result in chaos… it would not be allowed

            • Ed says:

              Chaos will allow the Sultan of London can do anything he wants. Including his recent pronouncement desiring to ban all cars.

  25. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Many of China’s ordinary citizens are just barely making ends meet, because of debt concerns and income disparities, according to an now-deleted article published by a researcher at the China-based think tank Suning Institute of Finance…

    “Fu Yifu, who does macroeconomics research… found that disposable income was far lower than GDP. In 2017, in the countryside, a person’s disposable income was less than a quarter of the nation’s overall per capita GDP. In terms of wages, the numbers were also not optimistic.”

    • Ed says:

      duh? income must be used to pay for food and housing. This does not seem like news. That the human stock in China is kept at the same low level of existence as the human stock everywhere in the world is no surprise.

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Companies with speculative-grade credit ratings are spending a growing portion of their profits on interest payments as debt costs rise, causing concern as investors and economists debate the durability of the US expansion… as the Federal Reserve has tightened policy, the market has reached a tipping point, raising concern that further increases in interest rates could spark trouble for the market.”

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “US companies have been particularly hyperactive buyers of their own stock, thanks to the earnings boost delivered by tax cuts and the robust economy. Goldman Sachs forecasts that the overall volume of US buybacks will reach a record-breaking $1tn in 2018. But companies in the UK, Europe and Japan are also aggressively repurchasing their shares, at a faster pace than new companies are going public or older ones are raising fresh capital through secondary share issues…

      ““The boom in US buybacks this year is widely known and commonly reported. Less well known, however, is the elevated net purchases by corporates occurring in developed markets outside of the US,” Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, a senior analyst at Bernstein, wrote in a report. At the same time, “the increase in stock buyback activity globally has coincided with subdued equity issuance activity,” he noted. “This explains why net issuance is at historic low levels across most of the developed world.””

    • Greg Machala says:

      It is clear to me from that article that we are deep into the business end of exponential growth. We can’t handle another doubling of the debt numbers. And at an 11% growth rate, the doubling appears to be about every 6 years. So, it would seem to me that an upper bound of about 2025 is the limit to how far the global economy can go. Already, many countries are falling apart Just how much longer before a critical link in the complex global supply chain breaks before catastrophe strikes? “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” – A. Bartlett.

  27. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Russia will lose investors and face higher borrowing costs if the United States imposes a ban on investors buying new Russian government bonds, the Kremlin-backed Analytical Credit Ratings Agency (ACRA) said in a report on Friday.”

  28. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Turks are taking sledgehammers, handguns and fire to iPhones in a symbolic backing of their government as it clashes with the Trump administration over a jailed American pastor.
    “Videos showing Turkish citizens stomping on or otherwise destroying iPhones have proliferated online in recent days, following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for Turks to boycott U.S. products…”

  29. Harry McGibbs says:

    Demand slowing:

    ““Distillate markets are sending the same signal as a range of other indicators: the rate of global output growth has decelerated in recent months…”

  30. Tim Groves says:

    Scientists say bread, potatoes, rice and pasta are healthy again!

    Eating a diet which is low in carbohydrates could knock years off lifespan, a 25 year study suggests.

    Food plans which replace carbs with protein and fat, such as the Ketogenic or Atkins, have gained popularity in recent years, and are often endorsed by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian

    But new research which has followed 15,400 people since the 1980s found those with low carb diets died an average of four years earlier than those who had moderate intakes.

    Even people who had high intakes were better off than those who drastically cut out carbohydrates.

    “Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy,” said study leader Dr Sara Seidelmann, Clinical and Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

    “However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged.

    “Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Funny how the ‘science’ is wrong… but then like all science… if you have enough money … and an agenda… you can get the science to support you

      who res

      • Researchers at universities are desperate for grant money. If governments put out a huge number of Requests for Proposal to prove a little piece of “Up = Down,” or “Hydrogen will save us,” or any other absurd proposition, they will get plenty of researcher who are willing to offer proposals. They will get great honor from their departments for getting the funding. Anyone who suggests that the absurd proposition is ridiculous will find himself/herself in hot water, because this is where the funding for the department is coming from.

        Working on a tiny piece of a big problem, it is hard to see that what a person in “proving” makes no sense, looked at from a wider perspective. But people are not generalists any more, they are specialists, looking at tiny pieces of problems.

        • Lastcall says:

          Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price, a dentist, is all you need to know about health. Its real simple; simple foods, simple life, great health. But that boat has sailed long ago. My geography class ‘taught me’ that slash and burn agriculture was all ‘bad and backwards’. I think its the future.
          Modern health problems are just that, but lgbtqi, do they ever generate some medical research avenues/revenues.

  31. Baby Doomer says:

    A Crisis Is Coming

    All the ingredients are in place for a catastrophic economic and financial market crisis.

    “A key ingredient for a global economic crisis is asset price bubbles and credit risk mispricing. On that score, today’s financial market situation would appear to be very much more concerning than that on the eve of the September 2008 Lehman-bankruptcy. Whereas then, asset price bubbles were largely confined to the U.S. housing and credit markets, today, asset price bubbles are more pervasive being all too much in evidence around the globe.”

  32. Fast Eddy says:

    This school year, students across the country will attend courses on “Queering the Bible,” “Queering Childhood,” “Queering Theology,” and similar topics.

    I guess this is what qualifies as ‘education’ in DelusiSTAN

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Christian theology is often depicted as a violent colonial force standing in particular opposition to LGBTQI lives. However, over the last 30 years people of faith, activists, and theorists alike have rediscovered what is queer within Christianity, uncovered what is religious within secular queer communities, and used postcolonial theory to decolonize lived religious practices and theologies.

      This course explores secular philosophies of queer and postcolonial theory as well as their critical and constructive application to religion. From topics such as the sexual ethics and ritualization found in the S&M community, transgender Christs, and the mestiza (or mixed) cultures of Latin America, the class goes to where theory meets practice and where critique reveals theologies already radically unmaking and remaking themselves today.

      This course counts toward the Gender Studies minor.

      College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

      Department: Religion (LREL)

      Campus: New York City (GV)

      Course Format: Seminar (R)

      Max Enrollment: 22

      Enrollment Status: Open*

      I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a discussion with someone who has taken a course like this

      • You seem to be awfully hung up on this topic.

        When the world needed as many children to survive to maturity as possible, religions emphasized heterosexuality. Actually, allowing multiple wives is the optimal way of increasing population, because poor men cannot afford a wife and family. Religions in Africa especially allow/encourage as many children as possible. This is one reason that antibiotics and better sanitation have had such a huge impact on population.

        When world population is too high, the world economy self-organizes in a way that allows less population growth. (In fact, animal populations seem to self-regulate as well. They do not allow overpopulation.

        Religions emphasize the values that fit in with today’s understanding of how the world works. Homosexuality is looked upon as a much more normal occurrence.

        You have a narrow view of religions, coming from a Catholic background. Religions can and do change, to fit in with the current situation. Some religions have never been “hung up” on this topic.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          “Religion is poison”
          -Mao (he even got a few things right)

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I admit… I am a bit hung up on the fact that this is offered as a course in a college… and then people moan that they cannot find jobs …

          If I saw this sort of thing on a CV from an applicant… it would go into the garbage

          • I will have to admit that the course doesn’t really do much for an applicant, unless he or she is supposed to deal with housing for transgender students in a college situation, or something similar. Perhaps be a counselor for this group.

        • Ed says:

          well said Gail, +++++++++++++++++

    • xabier says:

      The Left like to point out that state education was devised to brainwash the masses to be good, obedient cogs in the Capitalist system.

      But what are they doing themselves?

      Nothing more than indoctrination in their own questionable values, with Susan Sontag as their Bible. A Nazi/Soviet system of propaganda, at root.

      ‘So darling, what didn’t you learn at school today?’ 🙂

  33. Baby Doomer says:

    Nothing Much Happening Except For Possible Global Economic Collapse

  34. Fast Eddy says:


    In October of 1990 Nayirah testified before the congressional human rights caucus. Her testimony was widely publicized and used by Senators and President Bush as rational to back Kuwait and invade Iraq in the Gulf War. She claimed that Iraqi soldiers took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. It was later found out that her testimony was false and she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Another lie used to help get us into war, just like the weapons of mass destruction.

    What talent!!! She should be in Hollywood!!!

  35. Fast Eddy says:

    What Truckers & Railroads Just Said about the US Economy

    The transportation sector is a reflection of the goods-based economy in the US. Demand has been blistering across all modes of transportation. Freight shipment volume (not pricing… we’ll get to pricing in a moment) by truck, rail, air, and barge, according to the Cass Freight Index jumped 10.6% in July compared to a year earlier. This pushed the index, which is not seasonally adjusted, to its highest level for July since 2007.

    The Cass Shipments Index does not include shipments of bulk commodities, such as grains or chemicals. But shipments of commodities were strong too, according to the Association of American Railroads. Excluding the carload category of coal, which is facing a structural decline in the US, carloads rose by 6.7% year-over-year, including grain, up 14.7%; petroleum & petroleum products, up 27%; and chemicals, up 4.6%. Of the 20 commodity carload categories, only five showed declines, including nonmetallic minerals, metallic ores, and the biggie, coal.

    And intermodal traffic – shipments of containers and trailers via a combination of rail and truck – surged 6.9% in July compared to July last year, the AAR reported.

    The pop in the Cass Shipments Index of 10.6% was the sixth double-digit increase so far this year. Only June had come in with a single-digit increase (7.2%):

  36. Baby Doomer says:

    All-Time Low Spare Capacity Could Send Oil To $150

    According to Pierre Andurand, who manages the US$1.2-billion Andurand Commodities Fund, the world’s spare capacity is at its lowest ever, and this will be a real issue with global oil supply.

    Replying to one of President Trump’s tweets blaming OPEC for the “too high” oil prices, Andurand said in mid-June that “OPEC has the lowest spare capacity ever right now. There is going to be a real issue. Prices will be above $150 in less than 2 years.

    • Belief that oil can and will rise to over $150 per barrel is what allows money-losing companies to get more back loans and to sell more shares of stock.

      It is hard to imagine where the demand will come from to send the prices that high.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        It is hard to imagine where the demand will come from to send the prices that high.
        There humans. I remember when the shortages happened in the 70’s– desperate motorists would wait in line hours for a few gallons.
        You could see the fear and greed in their eyes—

        • Baby Doomer says:

          Just wait till the global shortage hits in few years..And there is no fake embargo to blame it on..

          • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

            the coming global recession/depression will LOWER the demand for oil…

            there may NEVER be a global “shortage” of oil…

            opinions like those of Andurand above seem to always assume that demand will stay as high as it is now…

            are you doing that too?

            if the global economy is headed for contraction, how can the demand for oil not shrink?

            • Tim Groves says:

              Precisely! As the economy contracts, most individuals and most companies earn less so they have less to spend on essentials and a lot less to spend on everything else. How high the price of oil can go in dollars is not the point. If the US dollar were to collapse like the Venezuelan bolívar, then oil could go astronomically high. A better question would be “How high can oil go against the average or median income of a country before that country becomes a basket case?”

            • oil is the key to employment/sustenance for virtually everyone

              so—-if I need to use fuel to commute to work (for instance) and the price of that fuel goes higher than the wages I get from my job, then the work-journey becomes pointless and ”my world” collapses

              same with food—if the fuel in a delivery truck costs more than the food in the truck is worth, then the food delivery system collapses.

              The above wouldn’t happen overnight, but become a relentless trend over a period of time, a few years I guess

              What we’ve done is to build a system based on infinite energy, and that has resulted in housing-food-work being placed so far apart that walking has become impossible in general terms, We are forced to burn (finite) fuel to carry out the basic functions of living, but at the same time delude ourselves that fuels are infinite.

            • Coal has been the key to employment/sustenance for a lot of the world. We in the West often forget that, because we are so oil-dependent. What is needed is a low average price for fuel. Having high-priced oil, and depending upon it for a large share of energy consumption, is a formula for disaster. Use of coal, plus cheap uses of coal (combined heat and power, for example, is very efficient) allowed China to forge ahead.

              The ability to “grow” the use of coal instead of oil is what has kept the world economy operating since China joined the WTO in 2001. Backing off from coal will cause the world economy to collapse. Wind and solar are not nearly as efficient.


            • Harry McGibbs says:

              “[UK] Petrol prices have hit a four-year high with a litre costing 129.68p on average.”


            • I am sure that falling pound is part of the problem.

            • Artleads says:

              Clearest explanation of coal I’ve seen yet. Power and heat combined. It would be nice to have some examples of this.

            • Artleads says:

              “What we’ve done is to build a system based on infinite energy, and that has resulted in housing-food-work being placed so far apart that walking has become impossible in general terms, We are forced to burn (finite) fuel to carry out the basic functions of living, but at the same time delude ourselves that fuels are infinite.”

              And that’s the fine work of planners, builders, developers, city councilors and so forth.

            • well not entirely

              if you look at any old ”factory town” houses and factories were built close together because getting to/from them was time-consuming. There were 00s of them in uk, built where raw materials were available

              right opposite my house is a mansion built by one of the Darby iron family about 1750—his foundry was within walking distance, he was a wealthy man but he had to live with the smoke and mess like everyone else in order to run his business

              now everyone wants to live out where it’s clean and fresh—you can’t blame planners for that.

              We all believed that fuel was infinite to allow us to do that. We now know that it isn’t.

            • Artleads says:

              My objection was to the despoliation of the natural landscape to build ugliness. That is one of my non negotiables. You don’t cut down trees and pave roads in beautiful natural places. I don’t care in the least who likes it or not, for whom it is convenient or not (including myself). Life can go to the devil if what it requires is the loss of natural beauty. I won’t change my mind.

            • Artleads says:


              Richard Claremontt

              “Another #painting in my northern #beaches series of #Wollongong. I often choose to drive the longer coast road to #Sydney, just so I can take in those magnificent sweeping bends… “Wombarra”, 35X45cm, oil on board. #australian #creative #inspiration”

              I’m writing (posting) about the experience of driving along scenic byways like the one I live along. The concern is with what the driver observes from the seat of their car. It is an admittedly impressionist view, the driver’s. But that limited experience is therapeutic for byway residents as well as for tourists that form the bedrock of the regional economy. In my opinion, the view from the car is an art form like any other.

    • Lastcall says:

      The opinion makers (turns to vomit) in NZ are all perky about banning single use plastic bags etc. They harp on just how good they are at using their own re-usable bags; they make sure that each of their 3 cars has some in the boot for when they go shopping.
      Then next minute they are talking about their previous and/or next overseas holiday, name dropping European capitals especially. So much virtue signalling followed by so much cluelessness.
      Its going to be a spectacle when the lights go out/pumps run dry/tokens (money) don’t work.
      I think I will buy an e-bike (and a small gen etc to recharge it) so I can get out and see things during decline. During a recent earthquake in NZ (South Island Ed…but u know that) a mountain bike was great to get around on; too old for a horse now, and they will quickly be eaten.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Countdown officially ended plastic bags the other day…. I stopped in to buy a few items and was informed of that…. I was offered a very heavy plastic option that would not be of any use as a bin liner… or a reusable bag — both paid options…

        I decided to make do without either of them….

        I mentioned to the check out lady that I would need to start BUYING plastic bag bin liners now that they don’t pack in plastic any longer…. her response… EXACTLY! — a bit of dissension going on there…

        I suggested she inform the powers that be that I would be taking my business to Pak and Save… because they provide empty product cardboard boxes to Pak …. if heaven forbid one forgets the reusable bags….

        Plus I really like cardboard wine boxes… they are the perfect size to fill with COAL…. and stuff into the Rayburn in one go…. I love to burn coal!

        I wonder if NZ will ban the sale of plastic bin liner bags?

        Maybe the meth dealers will start stocking used grocery bags from 3rd world countries…. I need a fix!

    • Gregory Machala says:

      Don’t worry that is all bio-plastic.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        My neighbour in Bali would invite me on these treks into the jungle… which inevitably ended up with us sloshing through a river knee deep or so… surrounded by plastic bottles, bags, sandals, shoes, you name it… in the heat and humidity… as if these were some sort of marvelous eco-adventures…

        And I was wondering if the next step was going to be onto a needle used by an HIV/hepatitis infected drug addict…

  37. Baby Doomer says:

    Is a $35,000 Tesla Model 3 Envisioned by Musk Profitable? UBS Says No

    Current claims of profitability are based on higher-price version of the sedan, the brokerage says

    Tesla Inc. TSLA -0.96% is making an operating profit of more than $3,000 on each sale of the current low-price version of its Model 3 sedan, but would likely lose nearly twice that amount if it sold the vehicle at its long-promised $35,000 price tag, according to a new estimate from UBS UBS -0.13% Securities LLC.

    The Model 3’s profitability is a critical issue for the electric-car maker, which began selling the vehicle a year ago as it sought to move from a luxury niche into the mass market, and end years of losses.

    The vehicle’s price currently ranges from $49,000 to about $80,000, well above the more-affordable target long envisioned by Chief Executive Elon Musk.

    At the low end of that range, Tesla’s operating profit is likely $3,420 a vehicle, according to the UBS estimate, which is based on analysis of a Model 3 vehicle the firm deconstructed in order to understand how it was made. That would help explain why Mr. Musk is forecasting a profit in the third quarter.

    The lack of a $35,000 base model in Tesla’s lineup, as well as early demand for the more expensive versions, should set up the company for its best quarter of profitability from the vehicle ahead of less-costly versions down the road that will reduce the lineup’s margins, Colin Langan, who wrote the UBS report, said Thursday in an interview.

    “Q3 is Tesla’s best shot because of this pricing dynamic,” he said of profitability. “I’m very clear that I don’t think that’s sustainable.”

    A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

    Tesla’s finances are in a brighter spotlight now as Mr. Musk considers taking the auto maker private, in part to shed intense scrutiny of the company’s finances as it grows its business globally.

    Before Tesla began Model 3 production in July 2017 and revealed its pricing strategy, UBS estimated the Model 3 at $35,000 would lose about $2,300 a car, while a more expensive version at $42,000 would eke out $670 of profit.

    The teardown of the Model 3, however, resulted in a higher estimated cost of the vehicle’s batteries.

    Tesla has spent the past 12 months struggling to ramp up production to reach a rate that would give it enough vehicles to sell to generate cash. At the end of June, Tesla finally reached its long-delayed goal of making 5,000 Model 3s in a single week, a pace that if continued should help it be profitable this quarter and next, Mr. Musk has said.

    A $35,000 version will come later this year, Mr. Musk has promised. In May, on Twitter, he suggested Tesla first needed to ramp up production to help lower costs, saying shipping the $35,000 version then would cause the company “to lose money & die.”

    Tesla needs three to six months after being able to reach a build rate of 5,000 sedans a week before being able to sell the $35,000 version and “live,” he said.

    The challenge for the auto industry in selling electric vehicles is the added cost of batteries compared to a gasoline powered vehicle.

    Write to Tim Higgins at

  38. Baby Doomer says:

    Why are protesters dressing like The Handmaid’s Tale in Argentina?

  39. Baby Doomer says:

    U.S. Life Expectancy Drops, Now Lowest Among High-Income Countries, New Study Finds

    • This is a chart I upload from a report released in 2014.

      It shows how female life expectancy in the US was pretty much in the middle of the pack in 1980. It started to fall behind immediately.

      The following chart is from the new BMJ study, found at this link:

      It shows the US falling further and further behind the pack of developed nations. Japan is the leader for life expectancies for women. Switzerland and Australia are the leaders for life expectancies for men.

      The falling life expectancies in the US are especially incredible, because the US has been spending far more as a percentage of GDP for health care than other countries, and this percentage of GDP keeps growing.

      The doctors are maximizing their own revenue. There is little thought to cost/benefit when procedures are done. Diet has been going downhill in the US since 1980, and the way employers treat employees has been going badly downhill (employees are dispensable!). Wage disparity is an increasing problem too.

      • Gregory Machala says:

        I remember those charts. I think that part of the problem is access to affordable healthcare (not necessarily health insurance). And another part of the problem may be practitioner and hospital malpractice insurance costs. The third problem is drug costs. It seems everyone want a piece of the profitable pie when it comes to healthcare. So much so that no one can afford it without insurance. And now people can’t even afford the insurance. I Some things are better socialized and some work better capitalized. I think healthcare works better socialized and regulated by the gov. Other developed countries do it we should be able to as well. Just too bad there are so many Pharma Bros fighting over profits:

        • Fast Eddy says:

          The public system is problematic

          Without death panels…. that determine that limited resources… should not be wasted on lost causes.

          Try running for office on a platform that says ‘Granny is f789ed up and near death — so she’s not going to the new hip … and she’s not going to get brain surgery — granny is going to die — so that little Johnny can get his ACL fixed … ‘

          I think we should just put this guy in charge

          • DJ says:

            There is a maximum share of resources we want to spend on health care. This means health care IS rationed, and it will become worse as we become older, poorer and sicker.

            • The rationing now makes little sense. US physicians, on average, make hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. The system is set up so that if there is any danger to that income, in the way of a lawsuit, any number of tests are ordered. There are false positives in these tests, so this, by itself sends up the amount of healthcare. Would-be cancer is a huge concern, for example. The current big concern is thyroid nodules, which are exceedingly common, especially in older women (70% of 70-year old women have them, according to one article I read). So if a scan for another purpose reveals a thyroid nodule, doctors are off to the races, trying to beat back any chance that it might develop into cancer.

              Another issue is trying to keep patients who have insurance alive endlessly, even when it is clear that it is a lost cause. I know that when my very elderly mother-in-law was near death, the doctors came to us and said, “All organs are now shutting down. Should we move her to intensive care?” For what purpose???

              A third issue is that health care is very much fractured. Patients often don’t have an easy go-to person to follow up with on problems. My 62-year old brother in law of mine died of a heart attack a few months ago, indirectly related to a urinary tract infection that had not been well treated over a three week period. The first antibiotic didn’t work, and the referral to a urinary tract specialists was not to occur until a few days after he died. He would have been much less prone to a UTI if he had not been fairly overweight, I expect. It didn’t seem like something that needed Emergency Room treatment, but there was no obvious place to go to get quicker treatment earlier. The whole specialist system adds to doctors’ incomes, but is not an efficient way of providing treatment.

              Doctors have as a goal maximizing their own income. Setting up pain management practices, offering opioid prescriptions to all who want them has been a lucrative type of practice. Overprescribing drugs, and insisting that patients come back for monitoring is another popular approach. There are many other variations. Back when my father was a general practitioner physician, my father would tell about Catholic physicians who frequently did hysterectomies on Catholic patients who had reached the maximum family size they wanted.

              The cost of healthcare, when offered in this way, becomes absurd, and the outcomes very bad.

            • DJ says:

              But you brother in law had to wait for a referral? And probably he could also have been denied a referral?

              Around here you meet a nurse, and if you can convince the nurse you can see a general practitioner the same day.

              If you can convince the doctor you could have something serious you get a referral, “guaranteed” visit within three months.

              If the specialist finds something wrong you are “guaranteed” to get surgery within three months.

              And for the surgery to be done you have to be otherwise healthy on operation day, no infections or “excess weakness”.

              Easily 6 months, where waiting for a triple bypass could kill you, or your cancer first diagnosed as something else now is untreatable and you’re off to palliative care.

              Since they already have trouble meeting guarantees I imagine they could change three months to six months, or add another layer of waiting time, or having the initial nurse or GP filtering harder.

              And I don’t doubt this will happen we have what hospitals and personell we have, with a quickly growing and older and sicker population.

        • A big part of the problem is an explosion in food productivity, and a resulting, “What do we do with all of this food?” problem. How do we keep prices up, to help the American farmer? This is a chart on productivity of corn farming from Purdue University:

          Faced with the ability to grow all of this grain, there was a “push” to get more of it into the food supply. There was other food as well, that was available in huge quantity.

          Women were entering the work force in big numbers, so had less time for food preparation at home. This was a great time to introduce people to eating out. Restaurants needed to justify their high cost to consumers. They did this by serving huge portions, and throwing in nearly free soft-drinks, generally sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Refills were often free. Cookie sizes suddenly became very much larger. Instead of getting one small scoop of ice cream, the norm became a big container filled with ice cream.

          Biofuel (ethanol) soaked up some of the overage, but this still left a residual portion, which was used as a feed for animals. This cheap food for animals, plus the abundant corn supply, made meat very inexpensive.

          Prior to the big increase in grain production, meat was somewhat of a luxury item. “Meat-stretching” dishes were common. Once cheap food for animals was available, restaurants would outdo each other in terms of size of meat servings offered. People heard that “Protein is good for you,” and thought that these big servings were a good idea. Also foreign foods were introduced at restaurants, in huge portion sizes, with take home boxes available if a person liked.

          At the same time, schools eliminated or greatly reduced recesses. This was an unnecessary waste of time, and required keeping children safe on playground equipment. Instead of playing outside three times per day (morning and afternoon recess, and lunch break), they rarely played outside. Physical education classes became less frequent. Huge schools were felt to be more efficient, and could also mix different races of children, so instead of walking to school, children would spend long periods riding to school on busses.

          Needless to say, people’s bodies could not put up with this huge infusion of calories at the same time that exercise was being drastically reduced. Air conditioning and television encouraged people to stay inside in the evenings as well. The new norm was being overweight. A person would see plaques saying, “Lord, if you can’t make me slender, please make my friends fat, too.”

  40. in les Echos, “the first daily French financial newspaper”
    a tribune by an energy engineer “bientôt la fin de la croissance” (soon the end of growth).

    • Fast Eddy says:

      He was doing ok … and then BAM…. he drove the needle into his vein…. rammed home the plunger… and the high grade hopium from DelusiSTAN surged through his body… and into his brain…. and…..

      Since then, our domestic production of fossil fuels has been declining year by year and imports of gas and oil are not enough to offset this decline [for a reasonable cost, Editor’s note]. The resulting energy contraction, combined with the increase in the European population, leads to a reduction in economic growth per capita. We are therefore in danger of entering into a (sustainable) recession in the coming years.

      If we do not want our societies to suffer from a recession, it is urgent to reconsider our economic model (including the distribution of wealth) in order to maintain social peace. Reducing inequality can thus mitigate the effects of the average impoverishment inherent in a recession.

      We must also improve energy efficiency and reduce our consumption. Sobriety will also lead to a recession, but in which we can choose what we are willing to give up and what we want to keep. Otherwise, it is the energy shortage that will forcefully reduce our consumption by another mechanism: poverty. In this case, we will suffer this shortage and it will be too late to choose what we want to keep. Once committed to this path, it will be difficult to backtrack.

      • I expected no less from FE !

        I know his conclusion is not the one discussed by FW readers. What seems interesting to me in this paper is that a mainstream daily newspapers speaks about “the end of growth” because of “the end of cheap FF”. Its not common.

        • Tim Groves says:

          It’s true that the end of growth is close to being a taboo subject in the legacy media. We don’t want to alarm the masses ahead of time, do we? And if there is a solution that leaves us reasonably comfortable with lower energy consumption, it is likely to lie in the direction of a new economic model including a more equitable distribution of wealth. However, it’s also possible that there is no such solution, and very probable that even if there was such a solution, it wouldn’t be implemented as the wealthy would object most strenuously.

          For instance, listen to how multi-multimillionaire progressive atheist socialist Michael Moore responded in 2009 when multimillionaire conservative Christian capitalist Sean Hannity proposed that he personally give up 95% of his wealth.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            The MSM can talk about the end of oil/growth etc… so long as they offer a happy ending…. as in everything will actually be better when growth ends…

            Someone recently told me that they are looking forward to growth ending … because they are sickened by consumerism ( this is of course not a person who lives in a shack in the woods unplugged)

            • Rufus says:

              Besides, August 15th is “peak holiday” in France. It’ s a bank holiday in the middle of summer holidays. The all country is on vacation, papers don’t sell much. This article won’t be much read.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Moore is a clown….

            ‘Murder done in our name’ … keeps Michael big and fat….

            Hannity of course a clown as well… right/left… equally MORE onic.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Nobody wants to say it… we invade countries for resources… so we can live large… so Sean can live large… so Mike can grow larger….

          • Gregory Machala says:

            Too many hypocrites in the world and in positions of power. I will make it a personal goal of mine that I will always try my best to never be a hypocrite. Moore made a hypocritical fool of himself.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Michael Moore… sickens me.

            • louploup2 says:

              FE, you should start your own site. You dominate OFW comments with your perspective and your anger and your bile. You’re a bully, no matter how accurate your observations are much of the time. As much a bully as Hannity and Moore.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              You’d spew bile and anger if you had to deal with MORE Ons on a daily basis…

              But then you would not have the problem … being a MORE on …

              Seriously though … don’t you want to kick Michael Moore in the teeth?

              Or maybe paint him with oil … roll him in flour … then deep fry him… and feed his body parts to the poor?

            • JesseJames says:

              FE you need to become a more caring and sensitive SJW.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am trying…

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am left…. speechless


            • DJ says:

              I have read feminists saying that women are only shorter than men because of patriarchical oppression. Men have for generations eaten up womens food and thereby growing taller. Maybe they are correct.

        • Ohadi Nacnud says:

          Fast Eddy stopped growing decades ago.

      • DJ says:

        “it is urgent to reconsider our economic model”
        Like if that was a democratic choice

  41. Fast Eddy says:

    Rising plastic consumption is driven by population growth, higher median incomes and urbanization. Plastic production and consumption has absolutely skyrocketed over the last two decades and the growth in emerging economies such as China and India will ensure that consumption continues on its steep upward trajectory.

    WoodMac noted a few upsides to plastics, including reduced food spoilage, reduced transit costs and fuel consumption. “If plastic food packaging is banned, spoilage increases and this will lead to more land, water, pesticides, equipment and so on being consumed. In the end, is this better for the environment?” Paper is often cited as an alternative to plastic, but paper production has a larger carbon impact than plastic, WoodMac says.

    Still, a shockingly low percentage of plastic is recycled. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, packaging accounts for about 36 percent of plastic production. But only 14 percent of plastic in packaging is recycled, with the rest either incinerated, littered or sent to a landfill. Sorting is a big issue because different materials need to be processed in different ways. Meanwhile, as the volume of plastic in individual packaging is reduced, it becomes less profitable to recycle. This practice, known as “lightweighting,” actually leads to reduced recycling rates. Plus, plastic replete with food and drink is too dirty to recycle and ends up discarded into a landfill.

  42. Baby Doomer says:

    Mismatched door panels on $78,000 Model 3

  43. Baby Doomer says:

    21st Century NNR Scarcity – Blip or Paradigm Shift (Clugston 2013)

    The “Squeeze” is On

    Picture a vise tightening around the collective skulls of humanity in a relentless, remorseless “squeeze”.The handle of the vise turns at only 1/1000th of a revolution per day, which causes incremental pain that is almost imperceptible on a day-to-day basis. Over a period of 10 years, however, the vise handle makes 3+ complete revolutions; over 20 years, 7+ revolutions; and over 30 years, 10+ revolutions. While nobody can predict the timing with certainty, somewhere along the way humanity will crack…

    The sad irony is that through our unsustainable natural resource utilization behavior – i.e., our continuous utilization of enormous quantities of finite, non-replenishing, and increasingly scarce NNRs – it is we ourselves who are turning the handle!

    The saddest irony is that we have no choice – in order to perpetuate our industrialized existence, we must persist in our unsustainable natural resource utilization behavior, thereby continuing to turn the handle!!

    We are the hapless perpetrators of our own demise…

    Increasingly Scarce and Expensive NNR Inputs > Slowing Economic (GDP) Growth > Moderating Material Living Standard (Per Capita GDP) Improvement

    And as we “roll over”

    Permanently Scarce and Prohibitively Expensive NNR Inputs > Economic Collapse > Global Societal Collapse

  44. Lastcall says:

    Archeologists amaze me; they dig through layers of soil to expose the ruins of previous civilisations. They then look for fancy reasons why said civilisation collapsed. Well they just dug through the reason the civilisation collapsed; soil erosion removed the finite resource they depended on and so the society blew away with it. The soil, and its role in society seems invisible to the ‘experts’.

    I think we are in a similar situation today; we take for granted all the invisible work that fossil fuels do for us, concentrate on new dream cars, and think if we solve the personal transportation issue then all will be well. We are blind to reality. Given up trying to discuss this. I live in a country of about 4 million people, and wonder how many in NZ even know about this site; perhaps 10?

    • yup

      and they’re all doomsters trying to buy boltholes

      and the NZ govt says they don’t want them anymore

    • There are more than 10 visitors from New Zealand that know about the site. When I look at my statistics by country, New Zealand is the fifth largest contributor (visits in thousands, in the last year)

      1. United States 609
      2. United Kingdom 150
      3. Canada 115
      4. Australia 81
      5. New Zealand 46
      6. France 36
      7. Spain 34
      8. India 34
      9. Sweden 34
      10. Germany 33

      New Zealand represents about 3.1% of total visits of 1,447,178. US is about 42.1% of the total.

      • Yorchichan says:

        But 90% of those 46,000 visits are by Fast Eddy.

      • Tim Groves says:

        I looks like “The Five Eyes” dominate, Gail.
        Do you get many visitors from China? Or is the site blocked there, I wonder?

        • People can read my site from China, but I could not put posts up from China, because the link I use to put posts in has “wordpress” in the name, and that is blocked.

          China had 2138 visits last year, or 0.15% of the total.

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