How energy shortages really affect the economy

Many people expect energy shortages to lead to high prices. This is based on their view of what “running out” of oil might do to the economy.

In this post, I look at historical data surrounding inadequate energy supply. I also consider some of the physics associated with the situation. I see a strange coincidence between when coal production peaked (hit its maximum production before declining) in the United Kingdom and when World War I broke out. There was an equally strange coincidence between when the highest quality coal peaked in Germany and when World War II broke out. A good case can be made that inadequate energy supply is associated with conflict and fighting because leaders recognize how important an adequate energy supply is.

Some of my previous analysis has shown that if we view energy in terms of average energy supply per person, the world as a whole may be again entering into a period of inadequate energy supply. If my view is correct that inadequate energy supply leads to increased conflict, the recent discord that we have been seeing among world leaders may be related to today’s low supply of energy. (My energy analysis considers the combined energy supply available per person from fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables. It is not simply an oil-based analysis.)

The physics of the low energy situation may be trying to “freeze out” the less efficient portions of the economy. If successful, the outcome might be analogous to the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991, after oil prices had been low for several years. Total energy consumption of countries involved in the collapse dropped by close to 40%, on average. The rest of the world benefitted from lower oil prices (resulting from lower total demand). It also benefitted from the oil that remained in the ground and consequently was available for extraction in recent years, when we really needed it.

The idea that oil prices can rise very high seems to be based on the oil price increases of the 1970s and of the early 2000s. While oil prices can temporarily rise very high, it is hard to make a case that they can remain high for an extended period. For one thing, high oil prices tend to cause recessions and lower employment. In such an environment, affordability of energy products is lower, and oil prices tend to fall. For another, it is easy for the Federal Reserve to get oil prices back down by raising interest rates. In fact, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates right now.

In my opinion, we should be more concerned about low oil prices than high because we live in a world economy with huge debt bubbles. Debt bubbles are part of what enable today’s high employment. Debt bubbles support employers that are close to the edge financially; they also support buyers who would not be able afford automobiles or college educations, if loans were to become more expensive because of higher interest rates. Employment in the affected industries would be cut back, leading to recession.

Because of these issues, pricking the debt bubble is likely to lead to a major recession and, indirectly, lower energy prices, as in late 2008 (Figure 12). These lower prices are not good news because energy providers of all kinds need fairly high energy prices to survive–probably equivalent to oil at $80 per barrel or higher. If energy prices stay persistently low, the world is likely to see much lower oil supply, in part because oil exporters need the tax revenue that they obtain from high-priced oil to fund their programs. 

A Self-Organizing Economy Needs Energy to Fulfill Its Promises

The problem that has arisen many times in the past is that energy supply becomes inadequate, relative to what the economy needs to operate. This energy shortfall is virtually never explained to the public. It is only apparent to the occasional researcher who realizes that this might be the issue.

The amount of energy that a networked economy needs to operate depends on:

  • The number of people alive at the time,
  • The industry that has been put in place, and
  • The promises, such as retirement promises, that have been made to citizens.

Adequate energy supply is important for jobs and their pay levels. A rising supply of energy per capita tends to add jobs. The Asian countries shown in Figure 1 are some examples of countries where rising energy supply has given rise to more non-agricultural jobs.

Figure 1. Energy consumption per capita based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 total energy consumption data and UN 2017 Population Estimates of three selected countries. Energy consumption includes oil, natural gas, coal, and many smaller types of energy consumption, including wind and solar.

The jobs added rarely pay high salaries compared to those in the developed world, but they have helped raise the standard of living of those who have obtained them.

A falling supply of energy consumption per capita tends to make jobs that are high-paying more difficult to obtain. If energy per capita falls, there may still be a reasonable number of jobs, but many of them won’t pay well. High energy jobs such as building new schools and resurfacing roads tend to disappear, while jobs requiring little energy consumption, such as waitress and bartender, are added. Figure 2 gives some examples of European countries that have seen declines in energy consumption per capita in recent years.

Figure 2. Energy consumption per capita based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 total energy consumption data and UN 2017 Population Estimates of three selected countries. Energy consumption includes oil, natural gas, coal, and many smaller types of energy consumption, including wind and solar.

When jobs that pay well become more difficult to find, a significant share of the population starts believing that there is no room for additional immigrants, regardless of how needy they may be. This seems to be part of the dynamic many countries have been encountering recently.

If growth in energy supply is inadequate, other physics-related issues also arise:

  • Inadequate economic growth, because it takes energy to create goods and services
  • A tendency toward debt defaults, and the resulting deflation of asset bubbles
  • Downward pressure on wages, in situations where machines or lower-paid workers can be substituted for somewhat routine work
  • Difficulty collecting adequate tax revenue
  • A tendency toward aggressive behavior between countries and actual wars

Physicist François Roddier has examined how economies allocate resources when there is a problem with scarcity. He finds that when there is inadequate total energy supply, this shortage is reflected in growing wage and wealth disparity. Thus, the goods and services made possible by energy supplies are disproportionately allocated to a small proportion of individuals at the top of the economic hierarchy, while those at the bottom receive a falling share.

He likens the increasing share of wages/wealth going to the top to steam rising. At the same time, he sees the falling share of energy consumption going to those at the bottom of the hierarchy as freezing out those who are contributing the least to the economy. Using this approach, some portion of the economy can be maintained in a period of temporary energy scarcity, even if the most vulnerable parts are lost.

How a Few Past Low-Energy Problems Resolved

First Low-Energy Consumption Period: Following Peak Coal in the United Kingdom, 1913

Figure 3. United Kingdom coal production since 1855, in a figure by David Strahan. First published in New Scientist, 17 January 2008.

The UK problem in the 1914 time-period was a coal problem. The coal whose delivered cost was lowest had been produced first. It was near the surface and geographically close to where it was ultimately to be used. Many types of costs rose as the easy-to-extract and deliver coal was exhausted. For example, more worker-hours were needed per ton of coal extracted.

If the costs of extracting and delivering coal rose, a person might think that these higher costs would be passed on to consumers as higher prices. (This is the hypothesis behind the ever-rising oil price theory.) Thus, a person might expect that coal prices would rise because coal companies needed more revenue to handle what was becoming an increasingly inefficient mining and delivery process.

This wasn’t the way it really worked, though, because customers couldn’t afford the higher costs. The wages of most citizens didn’t rise because the amount of goods and services the economy could produce depended upon the quantity of coal that was produced and delivered. If the economy were to take workers from outside the coal industry to compensate for the industry’s higher need for labor, it would further act to reduce the economy’s total output, because the new coal workers would no longer be performing their previous jobs.

Mining companies (sort of) solved their wage problem by paying miners an increasingly inadequate wage. Strikes by workers and lockouts by employers became an increasing problem in the 1910 to 1914 period. Probably not coincidentally, World War I started in 1914, just after UK coal production hit its peak in 1913. The war provided jobs for miners and others who could not otherwise find jobs that paid a living wage. Workers leaving for the war effort left fewer for mining.

Ultimately, World War I worked out well for the UK. The fact that it was on the winning side allowed the UK to remain the dominant world power until 1945, despite its declining coal production. Being dominant, the British pound sterling remained as the world reserve currency. This status made it easier for the UK to borrow, allowing it to import coal, even when it otherwise lacked funds to pay for it.

Second Low-Energy Consumption Period: 1920 to World War II, in the United States 

The situation here seems to be more complex. The low energy problem that underlay World War I hadn’t really been resolved; it had mostly been moved elsewhere. Also, Germany, which was the other major European coal producer besides the UK, was reaching a peak in its predominant type of coal production, hard coal (Figure 4). Because of the these issues, European demand for imported goods from the US dropped dramatically. In particular, the US had been a big supplier of food to Europe during World War I, but this source of demand disappeared after 1918, when soldiers returned to their fields.

Figure 4. Hard coal production in Germany 1792 to 2002. Chart by BGR.

With respect to US demand for coal, the big issue besides low demand from Europe was internal US demand. Mechanization was starting to replace unskilled workers, both on farms and in factories. Mechanization of farming created a double problem: it added more food than was really needed, and it created a combination of winners and losers. The winners were those with the new mechanization who could produce food cheaply; the losers were those who still used processes that required much more manual labor. Available food prices fell far below the non-mechanized cost of food production. City dwellers were also winners thanks to the lower food prices.

Wage disparity became an increasingly serious problem in the 1920s (Figure 5). Workers with low wages could not afford to buy many goods and services. The laws of physics requires energy consumption (“dissipation”) whenever heat or motion are produced. Thus, physics requires that energy products be used in the manufacturing and delivery of goods and services. Following this logic through, the low wages of workers displaced by mechanization further acted to reduce demand for US energy supplies, over and above European coal problems.

Figure 5. U. S. Income Shares of Top 1% and Top 0.1%, Wikipedia exhibit by Piketty and Saez.

Debt levels grew in the Roaring 20s, partly driven by the apparent advantages of the new mechanization. In 1929, the debt bubble began to collapse, showing the underlying weakness of the economy.

The problems of the late 1920s to 1930 bore a striking resemblance to those of today. Wage disparity had become a major issue because of displacement of many workers mechanization and immigration. In response, tariffs were added: the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. Limits were also set on the number of immigrants, in the hope that reduced competition from immigration would help raise the wages of unskilled workers.

Eventually, the low-demand-for-energy problem was solved with World War II. The extra demand of World War II added many women to the work force for the first time. US energy consumption grew thanks to the war effort. The large wage increase about this time (Figure 6) primarily reflects the addition of many more workers to the labor force.

Figure 6. Three-year average growth in wages and in average personal income, based on data of the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income includes transfer payments such as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance. It also is net of taxes. The denominator in this calculation is total US population, so the changes reflect the effect of adding a larger share of the population to the workforce.

World War II was a winning strategy economically for the United States. Wages rose rapidly during the early 1940s, as did “Disposable Personal Income,” which is closely related. In addition, the US dollar took over as the reserve currency from the British pound in 1945. This gave the United States the power to import more goods and services (including oil) than it would have been able to if it had been more limited in its ability to borrow.

If we analyze US coal production, we see the interplay between geological limits and demand (really, what is affordable by consumers). With respect to geological limits, US anthracite coal hit an apparently geologically limited production peak in 1918. It hit when there was a fall-off in demand for imported food from Europe, so coal prices were almost certainly falling (Figure 7).

Figure 7. US coal production by type, in Wikipedia exhibit by contributor Plazak.

The US production of the second-highest quality coal, bituminous coal, rose rapidly between 1870 and 1918, when its production path suddenly changed to a jagged plateau, which lasted until about 1930. Coal production then dropped precipitously, as the economy sank, and did not rise again until the time of World War II. This pattern very much follows the “demand” pattern expected based on the earlier discussion. The wage disparity of the 1920s seems to have led to flattening production, with a steep drop with the problems of the 1930s. Looking out at 1990 on Figure 7, bituminous coal may have hit a geological production peak. Energy prices are this time were low (Figure 10), again pointing to low prices being associated with peaks in the production of a type of energy supply, not high prices.

Production of the two lowest qualities of coal (sub-bituminous and lignite) coal did not begin until 1970. The rapid ramp-up of coal supplies helped cushion the peak in oil production in the United States, which occurred (coincidentally or not) the same year, 1970. We see a shift toward ever-lower quality of energy resources, but we do not see a pattern of spiking of prices associated with peak demand. Instead, low prices seem to be associated with peaks in production.

Third Low Energy Consumption Period: Dip from 1980 – 1984, Related to High Interest Rates

A person might expect the peaking of US oil production in 1970 to have had a major impact on US energy consumption, but a much larger drop in energy consumption occurred in the 1980 to 1983 period, when the US raised interest rates to a high level, causing recession.

Figure 8. Chart produced by the Federal Reserve of St. Louis (FRED) showing a comparison of 10-year Treasury interest rates and the annual change in GDP rates (where GDP growth includes inflation).

The resulting dip in oil consumption sent oil prices from an average inflation-adjusted price of $110 per barrel in 1980, down to $32 per barrel in 1986. At such low energy prices, energy exporters have difficulty collecting enough tax revenue and obtaining enough funds for new wells. Only the sturdier exporting nations could survive.

The energy exporter that did not survive was the Soviet Union. It took until 1991 for the financial strains of low oil prices to collapse the central government of the Soviet Union. With its collapse, much of the industry of the Soviet Union permanently was destroyed, reducing energy consumption by close to 40%. Even thirty years later, the per capita energy consumption of the former Soviet nations remains far below its mid-1980s plateau level (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Per Capita Energy Consumption by Part of the World, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 and 2017 UN Medium Population Estimates. The Russia+ grouping is the Commonwealth of Independent States, shown in BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018. It is slightly smaller than the former Soviet Union.

 Analysis

Looking at these situations, there is little evidence with respect to UK and German coal production that geological peaks in production are associated with high prices. Instead, they seem to be associated with conflict among nations.

Apart from conflict, the other issue associated with peaks in coal production seems to be falling demand, and thus falling prices. The reason for geological peaks is likely to be inadequate profitability. Inadequate profitability occurs because rising costs of production and transport can no longer be recouped with higher prices. A person might say that the limit on rising coal production is the affordable price. It is reasonable to expect that the same is true for oil.

There is also little evidence that energy scarcity causes high prices, if energy scarcity is defined as low energy consumption per capita for all types of energy products combined. Instead, energy scarcity tends to cause wage disparity. Energy scarcity is also a concern for government leaders because they can see the need for an adequate supply of inexpensive energy, if they are to be able to compete in the world marketplace. Goods made with an expensive energy mix tend to be high-priced, and thus they tend to be noncompetitive in the world market.

Local customers are also unlikely to be able to afford goods made with expensive energy products, because the additional wages are being used to support what is essentially a less efficient type of production. There are many ways that energy costs can rise, including:

  • Need for more human labor
  • Higher wages for labor, perhaps because of more education or location
  • Need for the use of more energy products in the making of new energy products
  • Need for more debt financing
  • Higher interest rates
  • More machinery, including pollution-control equipment
  • Need to lease land at higher cost
  • Higher taxes

Regardless of where the extra costs come from, they don’t actually produce more of the energy products that are essential to making the economy operate as it should. The higher costs are simply a drag on the economy, which must be hidden in some way. Approaches for hiding the problem include reducing interest rates, outsourcing manufacturing to low-wage countries, and replacing some unskilled workers with computers or robots.

Prices seem to be tied more to what customers can afford than to the cost of production. Note that when energy supplies were low in the 1920 to 1930 period, oil prices declined. This pattern occurred because growing wage disparity led to more people who could not afford very many goods and services made with oil products.

Figure 10. Historical inflation-adjusted oil prices, based on inflation adjusted Brent-equivalent oil prices shown in BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018.

Looking at Figure 11 below, we see a situation where US average wages seem to rise only if oil prices are low. If oil prices are high, it becomes more economic to send manufacturing to countries using cheaper energy products and offering lower wages. Such substitution leads to fewer US jobs and recession.

Figure 11. Average wages in 2017$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2017$. Oil prices in 2017$ are from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the GDP price deflator, divided by total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as changes in wage levels.

The Federal Reserve is very much aware of the fact that high oil prices lead to high food prices, and thus are a problem for the economy. It may also be aware of other issues related to high oil prices, such as loss of competitiveness in the world market.

The Federal Reserve has a powerful tool for fixing the problem of high oil prices–its Open Market Committee can raise short-term interest rates, and thereby make loans more expensive. For example, if interest rates can be changed so that auto loan interest rates rise from 5% to 6%, this makes automobile monthly payments more expensive, and thus reduces demand for cars. Indirectly, this reduces demand for oil, both for manufacturing them and for operating them.

In fact, the Federal Reserve seems to have been a major contributor to the Great Recession of 2007-2009. It first lowered interest rates in the early 2000s and helped create a debt bubble, particularly in sub-prime housing. It later raised interest rates. The higher interest rates plus high oil prices popped the debt bubble.

Quantitative Easing (QE) is a program that was added in recent years to adjust interest rates, over and above the impacts available from changes to short-term interest rates. Figure 12 shows that these interest rate changes seem to have had a close correspondence to turning points in oil prices. QE was added in late 2008 to reduce interest rates, and thus raise oil prices. Removing QE seems to have had the opposite impact.

Figure 12. Monthly average spot Brent oil prices based on US Energy Information Agency data, together with dates when the US began and ended Quantitative Easing.

What we are facing going forward is a debt bubble made possible by a long period of very low interest rates. The Federal Reserve now seems to be intent on popping this bubble by raising short-term interest rates and selling Quantitative Easing securities at the same time. If the Federal Reserve does succeed in popping the debt bubble, oil prices (as well as other energy prices) could fall very low again. If I am right, we can expect another major recession. It will be characterized by low demand, low commodity prices and layoffs in many industries.

Conclusion

The more a person looks at the story of how rising oil prices might allow oil extraction indefinitely, the less reasonable it seems. If the story about oil prices rising endlessly were true, we would have seen coal prices rise endlessly in Europe a century ago, when it was the dominant form of supplemental energy available. It didn’t happen.

Instead, what we need to be concerned about is the possibility of rising conflict. The energy situation may become increasingly like a game of musical chairs, if the amount available from sellers at an affordable price falls too low. The winners will attempt to obtain an adequate supply for themselves. It is not clear that this strategy can have winners, but perhaps I have not considered all of the possible outcomes.

One of the issues with inadequate energy supplies is the difficulty in obtaining adequate tax revenue. If tax revenue is an issue, there is likely to be a push to reduce donations to organizations that act to bring countries together, such as the European Union and the United Nations. Subsidies of all types are likely to be on the chopping block. Government services of all types are also likely to be reduced or eliminated, from bridge repairs to retirement programs for the elderly.

Most of us have never been taught about resource wars. The wide availability of fossil fuels eliminated the need to even think about a possible lack of energy resources, or other limited resources such as fresh water. Unfortunately, resource conflict may be back in some new 21st century version in the not too distant future.

Needless to say, I am not advocating conflict and cutting programs. It is just that energy problems and financial problems are very closely linked. This is the way that things seem to work out.

 

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,989 Responses to How energy shortages really affect the economy

  1. Rodster says:

    Ya gotta love this. The Greenies NEVER listen 😀

    “”Green” California Is More Reliant On Foreign Oil Than Ever Before”

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-29/green-california-more-reliant-foreign-oil-ever

    • California is also a big importer of electricity from outside the state. This is a chart I made fairly recently.
      https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/california-electricity-production-and-consumption-through-2017.png
      The rainy weather in 2017 really helped California meet its electricity needs. When its last nuclear plant goes off line, and there is a drought, California will be in trouble. In fact, if transmission lines are added so that the State of Washington can sell its excess hydroelectric to buyers in the Eastern part of the United States, California will have more competition with others to get this electricity. This electricity is low cost, so it helps average down California’s high cost of production.

      • Rodster says:

        Wow, they have quite a big gap to fill and as you say if the competition for the State Washington’s electricity is in high demand they will end up paying more. I guess they can always raise taxes to makeup the shortfall. That seems to be their playbook anyway.

  2. Greg Machala says:

    Sorry FE, it looks like Norway will extend the EV incentives after all:
    https://insideevs.com/norway-extends-electric-car-incentives-until-2020/

  3. Third World person says:

    Welcome to the Age of Crappy Oil

    It’s been a while since we’ve heard about peak oil—the point at which we use up half the world’s reserves and see production terminally decline—but it’s happening. And yet, we still have enough oil left to burn our way to climate catastrophe.

    In a paper released at the end of July, Sir David King, the British Foreign Office’s Special Representative on Climate Change, and his co-author, Oliver Inderwildi of Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, refute what they call “a common misperception about peak oil”: that fossil fuels are growing scarce.

    Rather, they argue, peak oil means it’s getting more difficult and costly to get oil out of the ground—and there’s less of the cheaper, easy oil available.

    The age of easy oil is over

    Plummeting oil prices in the wake of the US shale boom have led many to dismiss peak oil as little more than a doom-mongering myth.

    In his study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Frontiers in Energy, King agrees with critics that the planet is swimming in oil. But he warns that peak oil proponents are still right to warn of oil’s growing economic and environmental costs:

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vv7pyb/welcome-to-the-age-of-crappy-oil
    finally msm is accepted that conventional oil production is decline

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Italy’s benchmark borrowing costs hit a four-and-a-half year high Tuesday as investors continued to trim government bond holdings amid concern that the country’s populist administration is on a collision course with EU officials in Brussels that echoes the worst of the region’s 2012 debt crisis.”

    https://www.thestreet.com/markets/italy-bond-yields-spike-as-rome-s-budget-clash-stirs-echoes-of-eu-debt-crisis-14695051

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Turkey’s currency crisis, spurred on by economic mismanagement and U.S. sanctions, may pose a significant risk to European financial institutions due to their credit lines to Turkish companies. The embattled lira, which continued to slide this week, is leaving European firms exposed to the turmoil in Turkey to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, both via their ownership of its financial institutions and the money they have lent to its once vibrant private sector.”

    https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-lira/turkish-crisis-takes-global-dimension-loans-pile

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The German government is considering providing emergency financial assistance to Turkey as concerns grow in Berlin that a full-blown economic crisis could destabilize the region, German and European officials said… Berlin fears a meltdown of the Turkish economy could spill over into Europe, cause further unrest in the Middle East and trigger a new wave of immigration toward the north.”

      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/as-turkey-teeters-germany-considers-offering-a-financial-lifeline-2018-08-28-9103436

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        I wonder how a German bail-out of Turkey would play with this crowd? 😀

        “Germany was shaken by the worst far-right rioting since 1992 when police with water cannon failed to stop thousands of neo-Nazis and other extremists chasing immigrants, hurling bottles and fireworks, giving Hitler salutes and chanting “foreigners out”.”

        https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/germany-gripped-by-worst-far-right-clashes-in-26-years-8ctk2b89k

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I’d pay good money to see more of that!

          Would it be possible to set up grandstands along the major roads where the Running of the Refugees and Immigrants take place? Sell tickets…. Just like the Roman Coliseum thingy — only better. Perhaps include a bread roll with every ticket purchased?

    • Lastcall says:

      The risk is to the taxpayer, the true turkeys in this, as is usual.
      Bail out is not for Turkey but for the European Banks who lent the money. This debt is then left with the people of Turkey who were outside the tent when the deals were made, but are now on the hook for the repayments.
      Rinse and repeat…blah blah blah

  6. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A week ago, Trump said he was “not thrilled” by the Fed’s monetary tightening… Powell defended the need to raise rates, having declared that key indicators such as household and business spending, and employment and inflation rates all pointed to robust and sustainable growth without overheating. He reaffirmed a policy of gradual tightening. His appears to be the consensus view among fellow central bankers.”

    https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2161720/fed-chief-puts-trump-his-place-world-braces-slowdown

  7. Van Kent says:

    “Everything is going according to plan. I don’t know whose plan it is, and I think that it’s a really stupid plan, but everything is going according to it anyway.”
    — Dmitry Orlov

    https://godsandradicals.org/2018/08/28/everything-is-going-according-to-plan-being-an-activist-in-the-anthropocene-in-progress/

    • Rodster says:

      A few good points in an otherwise climate change post.

      1) “About two hundred years and fifty ago, human beings started using fossil fuels–first coal, then oil–to power civilization. What followed was unprecedented explosion of growth. The civilizational “progress” which we take for granted is result of the burning of fossil fuels. But the fossil fuels are a finite resource, and when they are gone, that will be the end of growth and progress too.

      Renewable energy sources cannot produce as much energy as fossil fuels. And transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy only addresses the supply side of the equation. A renewable energy economy would only work if we simultaneously reduced our consumption. I’m not talking about people taking shorter showers and turning off the lights when they leave the room. I’m talking about a contraction of the economy which would crash the global capitalist system.

      We simply can’t transition to a 100% renewable energy economy without also ending capitalism. Nothing short of a global socialist revolution is going to be enough (and I’m using “revolution” quite literally here). But capitalism has proven so adept at adapting to challenges and absorbing dissent, nothing short of the end the world is likely to bring it about.”

      **At least the author realizes that it’s impossible to power industrial civilization with renewable energy. If the promise of nuclear energy couldn’t do it, renewables won’t either.

      2) “There’s even some people who are trying to accelerate the collapse by undermining any attempt to reform capitalism which might prolong its demise.”

      **This guy must have met Fast Eddy somewhere in Bali ! 😀

      3) “Our present situation is unique, however. Those civilizations before us exceeded the carrying capacity of their land bases, but we are connected to a global economy. We are facing collapse, not just on a regional level, but on a planetary scale. And while civilizational decline is not uncommon, the speed at which we are rushing toward ours is. The reason why we are so rapidly rushing toward this end is because we have a terminal case of denial.”

      **Not so much denial but when we decided to dance with Oil/Fossil Fuels, we put that cake in the oven and now we have to eat it.

      4) “Wait for part 2 tomorrow. I’m not resigned to inaction either.”

      **That’s a comment he replied to a poster. After all the hopelessness in his article he thinks we can work our way out of this mess, yikes. Didn’t he just say and agreed with all of his quotes that we’re screwed and it’s over?

      • Van Kent says:

        Here is part two
        https://godsandradicals.org/2018/08/29/die-early-and-often-being-attis-in-the-anthropocene-in-progress/

        Yes he thinks we are screwed and its over. There is no way out of this mess..

        His advice is to “Die early and die often”.

        To face our fate before it arrives on our doorstep.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Optimists… should be sure to have a Plan B…. when the brutes arrive with slavery, rape, and torture on their minds….

          Work out how to deny them beforehand….

          A backflip off a cliff… a handful of Fentanyl…. a speeding car into a rock cut….

        • I am not sure that I see it that way. I think we have an amazing God behind all of the energy flows. God works through coincidences. God has created this amazing self-organized system. God has a plan that we don’t really understand. God doesn’t really correspond to the beliefs of any one of the religions of the world. Instead, each religion gives some insights about how the self-organized system works best at that point in time.

          I have a difficult time believing this God is a vindictive God, or that there is a hell (or purgatory). We don’t really know what is ahead. Our lives may all end at once, in some sort of WW3 conflict. Or something else may happen. We just don’t understand.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            I would prefer a less subjective term to describe the organizer… because using God leads to things such as why does he need money … why does he make us worship him… why do we go to Hell if we are in fact only following the natural flow of things (God always likes to bring up this thing called Evil….)… so many inconsistencies… contradictions….. etc etc etc…

            I prefer The Entity.

            Let’s forget about quoting the bible…. and all that jazz….let’s dump all that stuff into a spent fuel pond and forget about it…. it just muddies the waters…

            The Entity aka The Creator…. this had to come from somewhere… so perhaps The Entity has just always been … and always will be …. and comprehending this is just well above our pay grade….

            I have a mate who owns an executive search company for lawyers… when he would place people at Goldman Sachs … he referred to that as The Entity….

            Hmmmm……

            • You have a rather narrow view of religions.

              I haven’t studied enough of them to really know the range of views. I do suspect that people quite often were in awe of some higher power who could allow them to harvest good crops and send rain at appropriate times, at least some years. So they did things that they thought were appropriate, like “rain dances,” to ask for rain.

              Quite a few religions do consider the possibility of an afterlife. Early Judaism didn’t seem to have much interest anything other than the Jewish people continuing, not individual salvation, as far as I know.

              Claiming that “Bad people will be punished” makes for a happy ending, if a person is concerned that he can’t get back at his enemies. In that way, it almost sounds like it is concocted. The Catholic church seems to emphasize hell. It is hard to remember when I have heard of hell being mentioned in a Lutheran Church. You seem to have a hang-up about Catholic Church teachings; not everyone does.

              A big issue in quite a few religions is, “How do we treat our neighbor?” We do need some sort of social safety net. Religions very often teach about treating others reasonably well. Quite a few religions seem to have self-organized about the same time, probably when there were enough energy surpluses that it was optimal for survival if some trading and sharing could be done. Sometimes this sharing can be done through the church. Also there is a need for gathering places. So donations are requested.

              If energy supplies are lower, then it is optimal to draw our boundaries for trade/sharing much smaller. Sharing within one’s own tribe seems optimal, not sharing with everyone.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              See… when religion comes into the discussion … the contradictions run riot…. the logic falls away… we quickly descend into commentary about dancing about hoping for rain … or throwing alms into a bucket to make good with the preacher….

              Then we get talk of heaven and hell and Sunday luncheons … all sorts of total frivolities ….

              However a discussion of The Entity (or Creator) stripped of all the religions that have attached themselves (and which are only useless clutter)…

              Is quite interesting….

              As has been pointed out … the evidence suggests a self organizing system…. Nihilism… this is intriguing… all to be revealed at death? Or perhaps never.

              As a hedge… when I go down … I am going to ask to be buried below a young https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C4%81ne_Mahuta

              As I am absorbed by the tree…. I will find new life…

              Allah Akbar! Ohm Shanti!

          • doomphd says:

            this discussion reeks of cargo cultism. Brian Fagan has a great book on the medival warm period, where he describes all the catherdral buiding in Europe at that time, ca. 1000 AD (Notre Dame, El Domo, the Lincoln Cathedral–all nicely built structures) as europeans celebrating their good fortune and giving thanks to God for the great climate and bountiful crops.

            Meanwhile, in the New World, the same warm climate was causing devastating drought conditions that collapsed the Maya and the Anasazi civilizations. What did God have against the Maya and Anasazi? the logical answer is nothing, because he/she/it does not exist, and even if he/she/it did exist, God does not care about the well being or the affairs of relatively hairless primates that walk about on their hind legs and jabber to each other about how great and special they are.

            • The story is that all civilizations are built to collapse. They have less and less margin to accommodate fluctuations like changes in climate. The Maya and the Anasazi civilizations were not at a point that they could accommodate such fluctuations. They had not built up the big governments with the huge stores of grain that they would have needed to get through the period. According to James C. Scott in “Against the Grain,” having a grain-based civilization is essential for storing food and for building a government that is rich enough to offer very many essential services. Grain is relatively easy to tax and store. Without large stores of grain, and a distribution system for that grain, it is relatively easy for fluctuations in climate to end a civilization.

              The story is that the Maya and the Anasazi civilizations, like the Soviet system, collapsed when times got tough. The Maya and the Anasazi civilizations collapsed more completely.

              I know that the Soviet System had an efficiency problem. The wage distribution system was fairly inefficient. It was difficult to be efficient in the production of goods and services. The low-efficiency civilization was selected against. I haven’t studied the Maya and the Anasazi civilizations, but they evidently did not have enough grain stores of the right type to get them through climate problems. In a warm, wet climate, this may have been more difficult, and may not have been understood to be needed.

              We don’t think about civilizations always collapsing, but they are like humans. Humans don’t live forever, either. There is an interesting book called, “Cracking the Aging Code,” by Josh Mitteldorf and Dorion Sagan. It talks about the fact that nature, in fact, selects for genes that keep humans from living to too old an age. No matter how healthy a lifestyle we live, the system is built to fail. Quite a few religions involve people praying for healing for sick relatives. We all know, or should know, that eventually praying for sick relatives has to become a lost cause, at some point. The same thing is true for civilizations.

              Religious writings are giving us a glimpse of a what people believed, and how they acted, at a given point in time, given where they were in the cycle of growth and collapse of their civilizations. Climate fluctuations played a role as well.

              Our big problem is unreasonable expectations. We expect civilizations to last forever. We would like humans to last forever. We expect technology to save us, but it mostly produces wage and wealth disparity. Early groups had problems with this issue, just as we do today.

              The thing that tends to calm the world situation, as best possible, is building at least somewhat of a safety net for individuals going through tough times. This involves sharing among individuals, and not having too strong a focus on, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Religions tend to give us this. Religions help pass along the learning of a particular society from one generation to the next. This learning tends to change over time. When early deaths of children were a problem, it was optimal for women to have as many children as possible, and religions would support this practice. When rising population was a problem, religions would add features such features as sacrificing first born children to the gods, or rituals with high death rates for young people.

              As long as energy per capita is rising, more and more sharing is possible. Widespread international trade is possible. Now that energy per capita is flat or even falling, sharing has to be with a smaller group. We also are not able to afford all of the nice to haves that have been added over the years. It is clear that the civilization must collapse. I don’t know of any better way of smoothing the process than religions offer. Certainly, adding more technology doesn’t work. It just leads to wages disparity and collapse. Also, technology leads to way too much debt.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I haven’t studied the Maya and the Anasazi civilizations, but they evidently did not have enough grain stores of the right type to get them through kkkkkkkkkkkkklimate problems.

              KKKllllimate problems? Why would they have experienced that? Were they burning coal? Driving cars? I don’t get it…. I am befuddled by this…. are you making this up?

            • doomphd says:

              the Anasazi had large grain storage capacity in Puebla Bonita, their central city in what is now NW New Mexico, but it wasn’t enough. in Tikal, in what is now northern Guatemala, the Maya had engineered large underground cisterns for catchment that could provide for thousands for a few years of drought in that city, but it wasn’t enough. perhaps other factors than insufficient grain and water storage led to collapse beforehand, but nature always bats last.

            • great building projects are the result of energy surplus

              without that surplus, no means exists whereby massive projects can be undertaken—the same applies equally to the pyramids, Ford’s car factories. (and probably Stonehenge as well)

              as soon as there is a downturn in energy availability, energy-intensive activities slow or stop, and pick up again when energy picks up

    • This is an interesting article. It is not by Dmitry Orlov, but by someone with whom I am not familiar, John Halstead.

      He starts by quoting the end of a speech that Bill McKibben gave to a group of climate activists in 2016. It includes this passage.

      We’re not going to win everything. We’re not going to stop global climate change. It’s too late for that.

      A bit later he says,

      I can’t guarantee you’re going to win. But I can guarantee you in every corner of the world that we’re going to fight. And that’s going to be enough for now, just knowing that we are taking it on.

      When I tried to look up what Bill McKibben is doing now, it looks like he is not working as hard on the cause. The 350.org page for Bill McKibben doesn’t show any articles after May 2014. His personal website does not seem to be updated much. He has no future appearances listed.

      Back to the article. He talks about the terrible climate predictions, then says

      Reports like this have become part of our daily news diet. It’s shocking that they don’t trigger a revolution. But as Steven Yeun’s character says in the recently released movie, Sorry to Bother You, when people see a problem that they don’t know how to solve, their response is to get used to it.

      Archdruid John Michael Greer, author of Dark Age America agrees with Sorkin’s prognosis. From Greer’s vantage point, this bleak prediction is only notable for what it leaves out:

      expanding war and ethnic conflict
      increasingly frequent environmental disasters
      a return to a subsistence economy even in first world countries
      the collapse of governmental institutions
      the rise of charismatic authoritarian strongmen
      and drastically declining human population–

      This is a good point about what JMG has been saying. I have perhaps not saying as much about these issues.

      John Halstead then goes on to say, “What if none of this is an accident?” This is where Dmitry Orov’s quote comes in, ““Everything is going according to plan. I don’t know whose plan it is, and I think that it’s a really stupid plan, but everything is going according to it anyway.”

      This is the physics issue I keep bringing up. How a dissipative structure works. But he blames it on capitalism. He ends the article by saying:

      Looking back, a lot of my environmental activism looks like the stages of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. I moved into the depression phase recently. The good thing about the depression is that it allows me to recognize this process for what it is:

      I am grieving for the death of human civilization.

      The last stage of grief, I am told, is acceptance. But what does that look like? Do we go on protesting? Do we go on fighting, like Bill McKibben says, because fighting is better than doing nothing?

      • Looking at his speaking schedule, it looks like James Hansen has mostly gone off line as well. His last talk was in 2017. http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/events/
        On the other hand, it could mostly be that he is 77 years old. And he seems to be writing a book. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/19/james-hansen-nasa-scientist-climate-change-warning

        • Kanghi says:

          James is still sending out an email every month or so, so he is still having the fighting spirit.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘I am grieving for the death of human civilization’

        So…. he loves civilization …and the cushy life that he has lived… yet on the other hand he despises the things that delivered this cushy life…..

        He is in the last stage of grief – acceptance… however what he should be accepting is that he is making no sense….

        https://thunderthighsesdownsize.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/illogical.jpg

      • Artleads says:

        Orlov was my source for clear ideas about small-group living.

        He has facilitated dissemination of the “Dunbar 150-strong” formula for community size, based on a study of cultures worldwide: 150 people being the community size we’ve evolved to manage with optimally.

        He has also talked about family group living as best and most reliable. But how does that square with 150 strong?

        It’s very hard to figure out how you do 150-strong communities, since your closest and most reliable associates are spread out due to ease of travel, migration and the Internet. You alone, or your small household members might not get along or wish to associate with nearby neighbors.

        But I’m quite convinced that centralized organization of every individual-in-isolation can’t work. And that subdividing into small communities, however managed, is absolutely necessary.

        —————

        I doubt that McKibben would see the point of the above. He believes (or believed) that centralized edict to end fossil fuels could have a happy ending. FW has helped clarify how and why this won’t work. Beside, the term “fighting” is troublesome. You can’t change something unless you love it (J.B. Jackson). A brutal and dismissive mindset toward fossil fuels is probably no better than how the ff industry behaves.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          Keep in mind…. this all worked back before the agricultural land was not ruined with petro chems….

          Now a community of 150 is simply …. an excellent target … for armed brutes and hungry hordes…

          You cannot defend a farm.

          You cannot defend a farm.

          You cannot defend a farm.

          • Artleads says:

            Farm, no. Beside some pathetic backyard produce, I see dependence on people who know what they are doing. The whole idea is to do whatever possible to maintain a high enough level of government that civilization continues. As Gail forecasts, there will be much more reliance on local government than on the feds. Smaller groups under the states, but still the state. Things will change. We can’t predict how.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I am doubtful that the Queenstown Council… will be functioning… when there is no energy … no food… no way to pay the administrators and contractors…. people shi tting in their back yards… disease spreading like wildfire… no policing … no courts…

              Think of what would happen if today at 9pm…. the power went offer where you live — and it did not come back on — think of the knock on effects….

              Do you really believe some sort of government would be in control a week or two down the line?

              That is simply nonsense.

            • Artleads says:

              I can see the problem with that. I work MAO trying to stop us getting to where the lights go off. That is central to understand. Stop the lights from going out. Period. Please forget what happens after the lights go out. I am not part of that conversation.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      It’s a brilliant plan! It is the only plan that makes any sense.

      Do whatever it takes for as long as possible — to ensure growth does not stop — so that BAU continues — and Orlov gets to enjoy ice in his drinks.

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    USDA data showed that farm income has fallen about 50 percent since 2013 and is forecast to decline 6.7 percent this year, the lowest level in nominal terms since 2006.

    https://www.rt.com/business/437026-trump-farmers-bailout-trade/

    • The above US specific squeeze out worked throughout the agriculture almost everywhere in the world recently.. The only way how to counter it was to climb up the value added chain, i.e. focus on higher end product for the legacy domestic and newly rich (Asia). Obviously, the problem with this strategy is that sooner or later even this niche gets saturated, the competition is fierce, and it’s almost mostly based on new debt for the necessary upgrades needed for the upscale market production. And now when the globally sourced tourist are no longer arriving in increasing hordes, while the domestic clientele (biz backbone) is also looking at every penny, it starts to hit the revenue.. hence drop in production.. plus the droughts and seasonal swings..

      So, as always the best approach is to live hard core frugally and offer quality produce without high tech / debt dependency.. And even with this best practice strategy the demographics and aging infrastructure (in transport and energy) ensures ever diminishing agricultural output anyway..

    • 2013 is the year before the drop in oil prices.

      Farmers’ income in this case seems to follow the same pattern as oil prices, because even though their oil-based input costs were up, they were able to recoup the higher costs in higher prices. Now, it seems that they can’t as well.

      I wonder if one of the issues is that Middle Eastern countries have had to cut back subsidies for imported grains, because with the lower oil prices, they can no longer afford to subsidize food costs for the poor as much. The lack of subsidy tends to reduce demand for imported grain, and thus holds down grain prices. Also, the cost of meat production becomes too high, if the cost of production reflects the fact that the animals are fed high-priced grain.

  9. Fast Eddy says:

    It gets better!!!!

    “I just wanted to be a Kardashian for a day and then live my life like normal,” she said, totally and completely reasonably (JK), adding that her maid of honor advised her to stick to her budget, as she was asking for way too much from her guests. Oh, and then she accused her fiancé of talking behind her back, too.

    • Greg Machala says:

      I am trying to envision how a person living 100 years ago would react to this particular wedding fiasco. I would think laughter would be the first reaction – they would assume it was a joke. I would imagine if they found out this really happened, the couple would likely be expelled from the city/town/society where they live to live in exile.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        I am wondering if this is all a put on …. surely nobody could be that f789ed up ….

        Please say it’s fake….

  10. Fast Eddy says:

    This Bride Canceled Her Wedding After Guests Refused to Pay Her $1,500 Attendance Fee

    We don’t need to tell you that weddings can get expensive. Even with the most meticulous budgeting, a few unexpected costs are bound to crop up. While most brides tend to accept this as fact, one Canadian woman, who is only known as “Susan,” attempted to circumvent all wedding costs by asking her friends and family to pay up to attend her wedding. It went about as well as you’d expect.

    “Susan” is causing quite the debate online after posting a bizarre Facebook rant about her now-canceled wedding. Yup, the couple called off the wedding just days before their I dos, after their guests refused to pay the $1,500 attendance fee Susan was demanding in order to pay for her CAD $60,000 ($46,020 USD) dream wedding.

    In her long-winded, expletive-filled explanation, the (former) bride accused her friends and family of ruining her marriage and her life. “How could we have our wedding that we dreamed of without proper funding? We’d sacrificed so much and only asked each guest for around $1,500. We talked to a few people who even promised us more to make our dream come true,” she reportedly wrote on Facebook. “My maid of honor pledged $5,000 along with her planning services. We tearfully thanked and accepted. My ex’s family offered to contribute $3,000. So our request for $1,500 for all other guests was not f***ing out of the ordinary. Like, we made it clear. If you couldn’t contribute, you weren’t invited to our exclusive wedding. It’s a once and a lifetime [sic] party.”

    More https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/this-bride-canceled-her-wedding-after-guests-refused-to-pay-her-dollar1500-attendance-fee/ar-BBMvYKk

    Priceless….

    • I have read that the more a wedding costs, the less likely the marriage is to last.

      When my husband and I got married about 40 years ago, I reused the brides maid’s dresses from a sister’s wedding the previous year. Otherwise, the brides maids would normally have had to pay this cost. The menu was very simple: cake, coffee and punch, plus cookies that my mother had made. When I met with the hotel representative to book my wedding reception, the manager said, “Great! We are now providing a free cake to couples who book their weddings with us.” So the cake was free.

      The wedding and reception were in the afternoon. Instead of a wedding dance, out of town guests were invited to my condominium where my mother and a sister or two had made ham sandwiches, potato salad, and fruit salad, to go with the left over cookies.

      • I looked back at some wedding reception photos. There was also a scooped out watermelon, filled with fruit.

        As I think back, at the evening meal at the condominium, we may have had carrot/celery sticks and pickles besides the things mentioned, and perhaps more wedding cake. Both mothers were very fond of skim milk, so we may have had that, as well as coffee. But I am fairly certain that we did not have

        • Lettuce/vegetable salad with salad dressing
        • Soft drinks
        • A choice of another sandwich type, such as turkey
        • Chips of any type

        Those things were not yet very popular. Also, the cookies and sandwiches at that time were fairly small. There was not a whole lot of meat on the sandwiches. A person had to go back for seconds, to get very much.

        Thinking back about the changes in what people eat, it is easy to see why weights have ballooned.

        • Rodster says:

          “Thinking back about the changes in what people eat, it is easy to see why weights have ballooned.”

          I wish I could find the photo but it was in an article Michael Synder from the theeconomiccollapseblog website posted. It was a split image photo of a family in the 1950’s and on the other half was a photo of a modern family.

          The 1950’s couple was pictured well dress out on main street with the dad wearing a suit, tie and hat. The mom was holding her baby and she was in a dress. They were both pictured slim and successful in life with a 1950’s car in the backdrop.

          The other half of the photo showed a modern family that was obese, wearing casual clothes, with short hanging jeans in front of a Walmart, utterly classic. Maybe Fast Eddy can find the photo or something similar to that. He finds all kinds of stuff of the web.

          Today’s modern diet consists of oversized portions that are just plain bad. Way too much processed foods. Pretty much every commercial that has to do with NFL shows people sitting in front of the TV or at a restaurant while watching the game, gorging on food.

          • European portions seem to be a whole lot more similar to what American’s ate years ago. Europeans also have to walk to use public transit. I expect that these differences are part of the reason why most European countries are doing better than the US, health wise.

            • Ikonoclast says:

              I have seen photos of people in the main street of my city (Brisbane, Australia) in the early 1960’s. All of the people were slim and healthy looking. There was one exception. The mayor was fat.

              I was born in 1954 so I remember my childhood in the 1960s. It was a frugal time but we had enough healthy food and no junk food. We were skinny and fit, running around all the time and playing football and cricket. We built billy carts, dammed creeks, built rafts and explored all the bush-land near our suburbs. No computers, no mobile phones and no helicopter parents. It was an Australian version of Tom Sawyer. Happiest time of my life.

            • When I visited China the first time in 2011, I remember that some of the soldiers depicted in statues were a little fat. The tour guide called the condition “General belly.” The issue seemed to be that high-ranking officials could eat more and exercise less than most people.

              I also know that my paternal grandmother was overweight, even before other people were fat. She was also a Type II diabetic in her later life. She lived in Madagascar. My grandfather was a missionary, and she was his wife. She had more than one servant. I believe she sometimes rode in a cart such as this. https://www.peregrineadventures.com/sites/peregrine/files/styles/640w/public/elements/product/hero/Rickshaws_of_Antsirabe-San_Khoo.jpg

              The children were sent away to boarding school when they were six, so she didn’t have to worry about them either. She did host some little get togethers for groups, and she liked sweet desserts.

              One of the reasons I have tried to keep my weight down is her example. She became senile when I was quite young, related to the diabetes.

  11. Fast Eddy says:

    What’s more – the CDC is now warning that antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is now spreading, while prevention efforts have stagnated as people use condoms less frequently.

    Via the CDC:

    Gonorrhea diagnoses increased 67 percent overall (from 333,004 to 555,608 cases according to preliminary 2017 data) and nearly doubled among men (from 169,130 to 322,169). Increases in diagnoses among women — and the speed with which they are increasing — are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row (from 197,499 to 232,587).
    Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent (from 17,375 to 30,644 cases). Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) made up almost 70 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases where the gender of the sex partner is known in 2017. Primary and secondary syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease.
    Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to CDC. More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45 percent among 15- to 24-year-old females.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-28/stds-hit-record-highs-antibiotic-resistant-gonorrhea-concern-emerges-cdc

    If in a make-believe world the end of BAU did not extinct humans…. this is what would await them… diseases including VD…. are already wide-spread in the general population — so when treatments are no longer available — they will run riot….

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/liberty-uploads/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2015/11/o-PLAGUE-DNA-facebook.jpg

    • Greg Machala says:

      Disease is making a come-back. Not enough energy per capita to keep the gravy train going. Next up is pestilence.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        DPs will be overrun with rats post BAU… because rats… like humans… will go to where the food is…. and rats will spread disease….

        Meanwhile the DPs diligently pull weeds and grow crops… making them ready for the rats and hordes….

        Because they saw a movie or read a book (The Good Life?) that convinced them that this was the way forward….

        When in actual fact… farming … after fire… is one of the primary causes of the collapse that is coming.

        But they will never understand or acknowledge that what they are doing … is part of the problem….

        About as smart as yeast cells…. that’s our DPs!

  12. “In 2017, four US states generated more than 30% of their electricity from wind
    “The cost of wind power contracts has fallen to $20 per megawatt-hour since 2009.”
    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/08/in-2017-four-us-states-generated-more-than-30-of-their-electricity-from-wind/

    “Portugal is showing that ambitious renewable energy goals are within reach
    “Hydro and wind were the big players last month.”
    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/04/portugal-set-some-big-renewable-energy-records-in-march/

    “Wind penetration on central US grid hits 52% Sunday night, breaking record
    “Southwest Power Pool operates transmission lines from Montana to Louisiana.”
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/wind-penetration-on-central-us-grid-hits-52-sunday-night-breaking-record/

    Wow — maybe, eventually, AC power grids’ll be chronically getting nearly half their energy from wind/solar, & fossil fuels won’t be needed to MAKE the power grids in the first place …

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Nice post, Cooper. While the clock is ticking keep deploying that stuff because there’s no time like the present.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Idi ots do NOT belong on FW

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

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

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

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

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

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

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable_energy_simply_wont_work_google_renewables_engineers/

        Why Germany’s nuclear phaseout is leading to more coal burning
        Between 2011 and 2015 Germany will open 10.7 GW of new coal fired power stations. This is more new coal coal capacity than was constructed in the entire two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The expected annual electricity production of these power stations will far exceed that of existing solar panels and will be approximately the same as that of Germany’s existing solar panels and wind turbines combined. Solar panels and wind turbines however have expected life spans of no more than 25 years. Coal power plants typically last 50 years or longer. At best you could call the recent developments in Germany’s electricity sector contradictory. https://carboncounter.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/why-germanys-nuclear-phaseout-is-leading-to-more-coal-burning/

        Germany Runs Up Against the Limits of Renewables
        Even as Germany adds lots of wind and solar power to the electric grid, the country’s carbon emissions are rising. Will the rest of the world learn from its lesson? After years of declines, Germany’s carbon emissions rose slightly in 2015, largely because the country produces much more electricity than it needs. That’s happening because even if there are times when renewables can supply nearly all of the electricity on the grid, the variability of those sources forces Germany to keep other power plants running. And in Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, those other plants primarily burn dirty coal. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601514/germany-runs-up-against-the-limits-of-renewables/

        • People have to start somewhere, and if they have been reading a lot of main stream media, they will assume that what they have been told is 100% true.

          The only reason I am running this comment is because some new readers need to be reminded of some of the issues involved. The full installed cost of new energy must be low, if an economy is to be able to make goods and services that are competitive in the world marketplace.

          The costs we see publicized, even the bid amount for new wind or solar generation, are not the full installed costs. The full installed cost is much higher because we cannot run our economy on intermittent energy. There need to be a lot of workarounds (overbuilding, storage, fossil fuel generating devices held offline to provide backup services, long distance transmission) included in addition, but these costs are omitted. What we find in practice is that also invariably, countries that get into the intermittent electricity business, cut back dramatically, because they find the real costs are far higher than they understood them to be. See http://euanmearns.com/have-investors-lost-interest-in-clean-energy/ Also, China, the largest clean energy consumer in the world, has cut back its subsidies greatly, and its targets.

          • Greg Machala says:

            “Wind penetration on central US grid hits 52% Sunday night, breaking record” – That statement is laugh-out-loud funny. So, 52% of the grid power is from wind HAHAHhehehe-arrrggg-hahahahaha.

            • It says central US grid. This is smallish piece of the total. Sunday night is a low time for energy consumption as well, I expect. Not many businesses or schools open at that time.

  13. Rodster says:

    “China’s Building-Boom Hits A Wall As Shadow-Banking System Collapses”
    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-28/chinas-building-boom-hits-wall-shadow-banking-system-collapses

  14. Jacopo Simonetta says:

    Thank you, Gail, for yours analysis. I have a feeling, but just a feeling, that with food we are going in a similar situation, with prices too high for buyers, but too low for sellers.

    • I think you are right about that.

      Food prices right now are a problem for a lot of sellers.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Farmers in America are facing an economic and mental health crisis

        “Think about trying to live today on the income you had 15 years ago.” That’s how agriculture expert Chris Hurt describes the plight facing U.S. farmers today.

        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/american-farmers-rising-suicide-rates-plummeting-incomes/

        • Perhaps they are doing too much of the unnecessary / detrimental / stupid work like plowing, crops spraying, pushing animal drugs, watering under sunshine … yet all very costly, hence the debt treadmill and despair..

        • This article on the plight of farmers is from June 2018, so it is quite current. Besides other issues, I expect that the recent higher short-term interest rates have raised the cost of taking out a loan to borrow money for inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and machine rental.

          • the situation of farmers seems to correlate exactly with the oil producers

            both are having to spend more and more money to extract their energy resource

            which fewer and fewer people can afford to buy

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              “The government is starting to pay farmers that have been hurt by the fallout of President Donald Trump’s widening trade feuds.

              “The USDA announced Monday that it would release an initial $4.7 billion payment, and buy $1.2 billion of surplus food.

              “The move is part of a larger, $12 billion aid program that was announced in July. Since then, American farmers have been waiting for details about how the money would be disbursed.”

              https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/28/politics/farmer-bailout-trump/index.html

      • Rodster says:

        “Food prices right now are a problem for a lot of sellers.”

        And they are for buyers. I have to LOL every time I hear some US Govt official saying there’s virtually NO inflation. We are getting to the point where food prices will be out of reach for most buyers and when that happens, look out. Because that’s how the Arab Spring got started.

        • xabier says:

          There must be a tipping point when a rise in basic food prices causes violent revolt. For most people in ‘rich’ countries, the % of the total budget spent on food is still trivial, so rises can still be absorbed comfortably for a while -although reducing other consumption if more debt can’t be taken on.

          • Yes, but even inside the “rich” countries there is stratification going on as the poorer peoplez eventually hit an affordability ceiling even on the (~placeholder/fill up) junk food.
            It will take a time though because the diet of many of these is atrocious, gallons of sugar soda drinks and “raw” schinken plus white toxic bread, grams of veggies once per week in disgusting factory made “pizza” resembling specimen etc.. You can still buy tons of that junk per week for gov support / minimum pay job pennies.. After even that horror show is no longer possible to sustain and deliver to masses then food riots indeed..

  15. interguru says:

    They’re singing the same song at the UN.

    For the “first time in human history,” the paper says, capitalist economies are “shifting to energy sources that are less energy efficient.” This applies to all forms of energy. Producing usable energy (“exergy”) to keep powering “both basic and non-basic human activities” in industrial civilisation “will require more, not less, effort .

    The amount of energy we can extract, compared to the energy we are using to extract it, is decreasing “across the spectrum—unconventional oils, nuclear and renewables return less energy in generation than conventional oils, whose production has peaked—and societies need to abandon fossil fuels because of their impact on the climate,” the paper states.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/43pek3/scientists-warn-the-un-of-capitalisms-imminent-demise

  16. Sergey says:

    The answers to low prices are:
    1) Growing debt for producers
    2) Reducing domestic demand
    As I am following oil market very closely I think $50 for brent is pivot point. Lower price cause economy destruction for oil production countries.

    • Backwards, I think. We need rising domestic demand plus more shares of stock sold for producers. We have to get the prices up for producers or the system fails. Buyers of stock can always be hopeful that oil (coal and gas) prices will rise in the future. They are willing to take an inadequate return.

  17. Third World person says:

    88,000 tons of radioactive waste – and nowhere to put it

    The United States produces 2,200 tons of nuclear waste each year…and no one knows what to do with it. The federal government has long promised, but never delivered, a safe place for nuclear power plants to store their spent fuel. This means that radioactive waste is piling up all over the country. We visited one of the worst places where the waste is stuck: a beachside power plant uncomfortably close to both San Diego and Los Angeles. And we asked the people in charge of the waste there: what happens now?

    https://youtu.be/YgVyPwhkoJs

    • Third World person says:

      haha one epic comment on that video was we should sent nuclear waste to space

      i think they have watch interstellar too many times
      https://youtu.be/a3lcGnMhvsA

    • zenny says:

      It is not easy but can be done
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_faWmHBsY1E
      It does cost more than burying it on the beach near than the swimming whole tho

    • Rodster says:

      Once again alternative energy meets “technological superstitions”. I love how the video goes onto say that the hope back in 1962 was that Nuclear Power would be too cheap to meter and by the 2000 and that Nuclear Power would power the world. As Gov Reagan said, one pound of uranium equals the heat output of 70 tons of coal. Nice ratio expect they didn’t factor what to do with decaying power plants and all that nuclear waste.

      If nuclear power fell flat after so much promise how in the hell does expect Solar and Wind to power the world and replace fossil fuels entirely?….Hmm that’s what JMG calls ‘Technological Superstitions’.

    • Artleads says:

      People get very upset when I suggest this, but here it comes again. There is a great deal of land on the planet not near earthquake faults.

      So this might not be feasible, but I still prefer it to burying the waste in one or two mega sites: Distribute small (distributing the danger) amounts of waste all over the land.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Yes why don’t we just take the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of spent fuel rods and scatter them around the planet

      • doomphd says:

        Art, it doesn’t work that way. normally, dilute and disperse is a good idea, but not for high level radioactive waste. too many chances things could go wrong in transit or the stuff ends up in the wrong hands, like the CIA. also, the stuff in the ponds cannot be exposed out of water until it cools down a lot.

      • Spent fuel is valuable resource, it can be reprocessed into different oxides so-called MOX fuel and run again in different type of NPPs, this scheme has been around on industrial scale for some time and it works. Is it going to be widely adopted though? Who knows, the West seems on track to be preoccupied with self inflicted internal turmoil, so perhaps not.. but it’s not the problem of the resource or technology per se.

  18. RT says:

    Gail, thanks for all of your work! It was good to see you venture into the realm of geopolitical analysis with your writing. It’s a great avenue for you to comment on backed up with your excellent macro analysis.

  19. Duncan Idaho says:

    “NATO says it has beefed up its forces in eastern Europe to deter potential Russian military action after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.”

    You do realize Crimea has been part of Russia as long as the USA has existed?
    90% of the population speaks Russian, and is of Russian decent?
    I guess Crimea could go back to the 10% of the population– of course, we give the USA back to the original inhabitants, it would seem only fair.

    • Rodster says:

      “You do realize Crimea has been part of Russia as long as the USA has existed?”

      Nah, the US Sheeple are too busy getting their dose of propaganda from NBC Today and the other MSM outlets. It’s far more important to stay current with the Kardashians.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Putin should offer to give back the Crimea … if the US gives California back to Spain …

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          California?
          Please, give it all back to our Native Americans—
          We need to be fair.
          Slackers will never be truthful.

        • Rodster says:

          What Putin SHOULD have done was not only take Crimea but he should have gone in and re-taken Ukraine followed by given the US Warmongers the middle finger on Live Russian TV.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            And … shut the gas tap to Europe half way…. for a day or two….

          • Tim Groves says:

            I guess he was tempted to reabsorb Ukraine into the Motherland, but apart from making him look really aggressive, that would have been very expensive. Instead, he reabsorbed the strategically and economically important bits (Russia stepped in to pay the pensions of the old and disabled people in Novorossiya when Ukraine cut them off, for instance.) And he stayed well clear of the problem zones on the very reasonable basis that the US and the EU created the mess so now they can own it.

            • Yep, the loss of Ukraine was the only major *mistake they did since the rejuvenation miracle since late 1990s. However, and as you correctly stated, the full scale total power grab would have been counterproductive at that time, much better strategy was to wait, till the state crumbles down and or regime changes to less zealotry faction taking the place over. And that’s underpinned by several thresholds, most notably finalization of the NordStreamII pipeline, after that they can trickle charge the old Ukraine leg of the pipe work for “humanitarian purposes” only. By that time the country would be unlivable without increased hefty western support in fuel, food, .. everything.. which might not come, even tough more NATO bases in Ukraine are always the prize to look for..

              *some count the Libyan case also as very bad loss, but this was too close to the western ClubMed sphere of influence area and Russia was not able to gather expedition force asap, when dealing with some important domestic reform agenda. Nevertheless they have now the support in one of the mil factions there, so perhaps again slowly Libya would return to neutral – quasi allied status.

              You see it’s just resembles all little pebbles on a slope, the can kicking effort still works, but it brings less benefits and shorter span of “winning” after interventions .. I think we can sort of call it a success in a way, the West got ~20yrs of extended life support or ~40yrs if we count the Reagan time debt spike and oil price swindle as the true turn around point for self preservation by all means necessary..

            • Harry McGibbs says:

              Speaking of Russia and pensions:

              “Vladimir Putin has made a direct appeal to Russians to ask for their support in raising the retirement age, warning that without urgent action, the country and hyperinflation, as well as threats to its national security.

              “In a televised address to the nation, the president offered some concessions on the government’s unpopular draft legislation, and detailed a series of measures to alleviate fears that some older people could be left without pensions or jobs.

              “Putin’s approval rating has slid to a four-year low since the proposed pension changes were first announced on 14 June, the opening day of the World Cup, which Russia hosted. About 90% of Russians are against raising the retirement age, according to opinion polls, and there have been protests across the country involving an unusually broad spectrum of opposition groups.”

              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/29/vladimir-putin-russia-pension-reforms-retirement

            • All that is needed now is jobs for all of these older citizens. They do not appear magically. Or do the older people take jobs that the young might have had?

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      Well, it’s The Daily Mail paraphrasing NATO, so hardly likely to be an objective appraisal of the geopolitics. 😀

      I posted the article because it is a timely illustration of the rising possibility of conflict, as outlined by Gail in her essay.

    • Kanghi says:

      People seem to forget the fact, that Hrutsev gave the Crimea to Ukraine as a paypack after millions of Ukrainan peasants and people died to hunger and perished under Communist regime in Stalins camps. And as you seem to be so willing to give a way other nations land, why not lent Alaska back to the Russia, after all, Tsar had no right to sell it! And what about Texas and souther USA to Mexico? Maeby Fast Eddy could also give his property back to Maori clan, I am sure there is people who would dearly take it back.

  20. Duncan Idaho says:

    Shall we check oil today?
    OIL (BRENT) PRICE COMMODITY
    76.85 USD +0.60 (0.79%)

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Keep in mind that Brent is purchased by some US east coast refineries, but most oil in the US is WTI, at a lower price than Brent.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        Sure, but the most purchased oil worldwide, by a large margin, is Brent.
        (it actually closed down for the day)

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      okay… 12 hours later:

      Brent now down to 75.95…

      at that rate, it will be zero in about 37 days…

      cool, Duncan…

      this game is so fun…

  21. xabier says:

    Thank you, Gail, for the new post, allowing us to chew over – once more – the End!

  22. Uncle Bill says:

    Yep – because he knows this GW thing is a joke
    Joke? The “,joke” here is this constant toleration by Gail to these comments that are foolish and unsubstantiated.
    BTW, Gail professes that “,models” assume BAU continues with fossil fuel consumption, untrue.
    Clearly states otherwise right here

    https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/4/

    Chapter 4: Climate Models,
    Scenarios, and Projections

    ,

    Even if existing concentrations could be immediately stabilized, temperature would continue to increase by an estimated 1.1°F (0.6°C) over this century, relative to 1980–1999. This is because of the long timescale over which some climate feedbacks act (Ch. 2: Physical Drivers of Climate Change). Over the next few decades, concentrations are projected to increase and the resulting global temperature increase is projected to range from 0.5°F to 1.3°F (0.3°C to 0.7°C). This range depends on natural variability, on emissions of short-lived species such as CH4 and black carbon that contribute to warming, and on emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other aerosols that have a net cooling effect (Ch. 2: Physical Drivers of Climate Change). The role of emission reductions of non-CO2 gases and aerosols in achieving various global temperature targets ….

    Future Scenarios
    Climate projections are typically presented for a range of plausible pathways, scenarios, or targets that capture the relationships between human choices, emissions, concentrations, and temperature change. Some scenarios are consistent with continued dependence on fossil fuels, while others can only be achieved by deliberate actions to reduce emissions. The resulting range reflects the uncertainty inherent in quantifying human activities (including technological change) and their influence on climate

    About this Report
    Recommended Citation
    As a key part of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) oversaw the production of this stand-alone report of the state of science relating to climate change and its physical impacts

    Unfortunately, for the planet these projections are playing out.

    • Perhaps I should say, global warming is baked into the cake. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it, except obsess.

      Also, Al Bartlett gave a talk at the recent Biophysical Economics conference showing how all except the lowest scenario is completely impossible, because the modelers had made incorrect assumptions about energy requirements.

      The things written about wind and solar being helpful are basically untrue, also. There are many issues. The big intermittency issue is the summer/winter issue. At best, one can greatly overbuild and add lots of storage. The cost (energy wise and other wise) of doing this would be absurd. Storage in car batteries for months at a time does not work. Demand control doesn’t work either, when seasonality is the major issue.

      I suppose that there is geoengineering, but that is likely to go badly wrong.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Perhaps I should say, global warming is baked into the cake. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it, except obsess.”

        We are also stuck with the loss of global dimming when our deflationary collapse causes industrial activity to atrophy or stop altogether – most unhelpful for those of us hoping to grow food.

      • Rodster says:

        “I suppose that there is geoengineering, but that is likely to go badly wrong.”

        Geoengineering has been going on for decades. TPTB prefer to keep it hush hush although their Dept of Defense memo back in 1966 and the US Senate Report in 1978 blew that cover wide open.

      • david higham says:

        Which Al Bartlett? The physicist Al Bartlett who wrote ‘The essential exponential’ book
        died in 2013.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Allen_Bartlett

    • Fast Eddy says:

      actually … it’s not a joke… it’s a ho ax.

      GGGG WWWW for Du mmies in 3 easy to understand links:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl9-tY1oZNw

      https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/10/c
      limate-c
      hange-no-its-not-97-percent-consensus-ian-tuttle/

      https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/5/c
      limate-c
      hange-whistleblower-alleges-noaa-manipula/

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And btw – you are quoting fake info …. see link 3 above … a whistleblower GG WWWW scientist exposed this….

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If you still don’t get it … then my condolences to your mother for having birthed a re tard…. it must have been a struggle raising such a child

  23. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Russia has today announced it will hold its largest war games since the Cold War in a massive military exercise that will also involve the Chinese and Mongolian armies.

    “Some 1,000 aircraft, 300,000 troops and two naval fleets will take part in the drills in central and eastern Russian military districts next month.

    “The war games, called Vostok-2018 (East-2018), will also involve all of the country’s airborne units, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

    “It will be the country’s biggest war games since 1981, when some 150,000 Soviet troops took in Zapad-81.

    “The manoeuvres will take place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia, which is concerned about what it says is an unjustified build-up of the NATO military alliance on its western flank.

    “NATO says it has beefed up its forces in eastern Europe to deter potential Russian military action after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6105685/Russia-announces-largest-war-games-Cold-War.html

  24. Pingback: How energy shortages really affect the economy – Olduvai.ca

  25. ian says:

    I suspect the case for coal was likely due to oil becoming to a large extent the prime fossil fuel from mid 20th century onwards, thus reducing coal production and demand (until the more recent rise of China). This time round there is no ‘better’ more energy dense fuel to replace oil so the scenario is quite different.

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Iran’s currency crisis has left ordinary citizens enduring soaring living costs, but prosecutors allege that corrupt business people have turned it into a moneymaking opportunity. In one case the name of a dead person was used to import 10,500 mobile phones using foreign currency issued at Iran’s favourable official rate… Many Iranians fear politically connected businessmen have taken advantage of the crisis to enrich themselves.”

    https://www.ft.com/content/80aebcce-a772-11e8-8ecf-a7ae1beff35b

  27. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The opening up of Iraq’s enormous verified oil reserves to foreign expertise in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein was hailed as the means to kickstart its economy and potentially transform the south into an economic stronghold. Instead, ordinary Iraqis have seen little or no benefit from the proceeds of the country’s multibillion-dollar oil industry, much of which has been siphoned off by corrupt politicians. Across the south in recent months, simmering anger over corruption and unemployment has been fuelled by the dire state of public services, regular power cuts and water shortages.

    “Once there was a time when the Bani-Mansour land, not far from where the Tigris and Euphrates meet, had water and more than 300,000 palm trees, villagers said. Large numbers of buffaloes and cows cooled themselves in the green muddy waters of its canals.

    “But drought and the intrusion of saltwater from the Gulf have wiped out most of the palm groves, the cattle have been sold, local rivers have dried up and the canals have stagnated, clogged with rubbish. Corruption and mismanagement on the part of local and central government, both dominated by a kleptocracy of religious parties that have ruled Iraq for more than a decade, has exacerbated a slow-motion environmental disaster.

    “The oil companies, which are supposed to train and hire a workforce from local populations and invest back into development projects, are forced to hire those with connections to powerful tribal sheikhs and the Islamist parties. Funds for those populations rarely materialise and almost none of the oil revenuestrickle down to the population. Meanwhile, local militias with links to clans and political parties have formed their own companies, which land lucrative security contracts with subsidiaries of foreign oil firms…

    “The flashpoint came in early July, when the temperature soared to nearly 50C, the electricity failed repeatedly, and the tap water ran hot and as salty as sea water. Two dozen men gathered outside the gates of one of the oil company compounds, blocking the section of the road adjacent to their village…”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/27/iraq-is-dying-oil-corruption-protest-basra

  28. Harry McGibbs says:

    That’s a wonderful essay, Gail – panoramic and illuminating!

    Quick look at the news:

    “…while judgements differ about the sustainability of US government debt, they both accept the standard measure of it as accurate. This is a mistake, and possibly a catastrophic one. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that the federal budget deficit in the first 10 months of this fiscal year was US$116 billion higher than it was at the same time last year. The CBO is now projecting that the annual deficit will reach US$1 trillion by 2020. This is worrying, but it does not reflect the harsh truth. The annual deficit almost certainly surpassed US$1 trillion last year.”

    https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2161464/us-deficit-much-larger-official-estimates-if

  29. el mar says:

    Gail said: “It never ceases to amaze me how little we have learned in school seems to be right. If I could figure these things out, a whole lot of other people should have been able to as well. I think the military has had things figured out for along time.”

    Indeed:
    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2011-08-30/complete-english-translation-german-military-analysis-peak-oil-now-available/

    Saludos

    el mar

  30. Christiana says:

    Xenophopie must be a result of whatsoever. Economy is doing well in Germany, still strange things happening in a city in the East: Chemnitz. People running around a thousand and showing hitler greeting.
    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/chemnitz-wie-die-polizei-eine-stadt-den-rechten-ueberliess-a-1225238.html

    • Are you for real? “Strange things” happening out of the blue multi-culti sky’s and un-doctored police-gov statistics on migrant crime rates spike since ~2015?

      Totally predictable (actually predicted outcome), welcome to Merkelstan..

      Thanks God for Austria and Italy starting to think and act rationally at last.

      • Third World person says:

        Thanks God for Austria and Italy starting to think and act rationally at last

        hahaha do you think Austria and Italy can save themselves
        btw Austria has fertility rate of 1.47 births per woman
        and italy has fertility rate of 1.37 births per woman (2015)

        you forget that Demography is destiny.

        • How do they take care of all of the old people? I hope that they plan to have people work until they are 85.

        • Sorry to repeat for you the obvious, demographic mega trend is terminal everywhere (incl Asia) with the exception of some African hell holes.. So this is given and no longer discussed here in detail..

          • DJ says:

            And even if we let the Hellholeidents into europe they won’t find productive work and only make things worse.

            • Redshift says:

              Increase taxes of the productive and hide the imported garbage in the public sector producing Potemkin facades.

              It will keep the over educated dimwits in the private sector content for a little while longer.

        • Karl says:

          The thing that worries me, is that human beings are naturally tribal. In the west, we have been (for the last 30 or 40 years) less tribal than is natural for humans. Multicultural societies never seem to work. Hindus vs. Muslims; Catholics vs. Protestants; Whites vs. Blacks.
          When economic conditions get tough enough, and other groups get sufficiently big, White Americans and Europeans will respond like humans always do. Its not something to which I look forward.
          I find it ironic that the multiculturalists are going to create the very hatred they claim to despise by not understanding human nature, and by encouraging mass migration instead of larger humanitarian aide for people in their own countries.

          • The problem with humanitarian aid is that the free food competes with the food that the local farmers are trying to produce. So does cheap US exported food. The farmers (which tend to be a big part of the population) cannot make an adequate living. What are they to do if they are not farming?

            Also, with more food, and little to do for jobs, the worth of women tends to be judged on how many babies she can produce. Population skyrockets. Free antibiotics and vaccinations are helpful as well.

          • tribalism is an ancient survival instinct

            if you were not surrounded by members of your own tribe/kin. then you were likely to die,in unpleasant circumstances

            we are still stuck with that—and making assimilation laws cannot change the way we are.

            reasonable prosperity has allowed us to ignore it for a while—but as you say, when the going gets tough we will revert to type.

  31. MG says:

    Recently, I have discussed the topic of biofuels with one of my relatives working in agriculture. He knows that you can simply pour the diesel into your tank instead of producing biofuels with it, as there is no energy gain. But he pointed to the fact that, based on my hints on ageing populations, the fields would be abandoned, so this way at least some jobs are created.

    Moreover, I would add, that the production of biofuels seems better than sending the rising agricultural surpluses from higher yields and the depopulating countries to Africa and creating the unsustainable populations there. Then they come to your door, not realizing, that for the life in Europe you need energy for industry and homes which is not so easily and cheaply obtainable as the food under favourable climate, as the food is mainly produced by the energy from the sun.

    • I gather you are aiming at noble-sound approach, but I’m afraid the energy-biofuel crops are such huge detriment to our landscape and soil health that this is not a solution.
      By the way, the migrant’s influx should be stopped at border perimeter by traditional, nowadays “temporarily” abhorred means..

      The aging – depopulation of countryside including (!very) productive agricultural regions is indeed puzzling. It must be connected into this overall O/FW nexus Gail’s newest article is also talking about.

      There are regions with ankle-knee deep rich black soils, which are being depopulated as we speak. As these are simply too distant from major metro hubs, and the crumbling infrastructure forcing starts at the periphery, basically making them less attractive for people to stay in by each following day. So, for people it’s seemingly easier option to escape to the metro areas and await their sad final moments there while eating crap food, which just happens to be farmed closer to this particular energy intake overshooting (now in reverse gear – atrophying) civ pattern..

      In the end, speaking about positive outcome scenario, after we fall through several layers of civ complexity, the peoplez will again disperse into these much better places, but the tribute paid to the the “central ~govs” is going to be way different: small packs of cheese, nuts, honey, furs etc.. But obviously don’t expect anything in return, perhaps token promise of security, sporadically maintained..

      • xabier says:

        The cousins of a friend of mine in Belarus (? always forget the spelling) apparently live in a tiny apartment in the main town in the winter, but have a magnificent smallholding for root crops and fruit out in the country – very good soil, well cared for. Many neighbours the same it seems.

        • MG says:

          When the Soviet bloc collapsed, there was a lot of people in Slovakia who grew food. Today, more and more food is imported and the majority of the people stopped to grow food.

          • Many people in Russia grew food too. That helped the situation a whole lot.

            • MG says:

              The situation is the continuous decline of the home grown food. Before the advent of coal (i.e. additional energy) in Central Europe in the end of the 18th century, the mountinous country was used mainly as pastures. The nearby coal supplies and the comming of railways caused the population growth and the countryside started to be used more and more as arable land, divided into smaller and smaller private fields as the population was rising.

              Today, when the most of energy is imported in exchange for industrial production, and e.g. neighbouring Poland is depopulating, the production of food in Slovakia can not compete with the cheaper food production from the countries with better conditions for the cultivation of arable land like Poland or with the countries like Germany, who provide higher subsidies to their agriculture.

              The cultivation of rapeseed for rapeseed oil (used also for biofuel) is often the profitable option for agricultual companies that want to survive. The land on the steep slopes, that was used as pastures just a few decades ago, often turns back into forest.

  32. Third World person says:

    Food prices ‘to rise 5%’ because of extreme weather

    Meat, vegetable and dairy prices are set to rise “at least” 5% in the coming months because of the UK’s extreme weather this year, research suggests.

    Consultancy CEBR said 2018’s big freeze and heatwave would end up costing consumers about £7 extra per month.

    It follows price warnings from farmers’ representatives about peas, lettuces and potatoes.

    Wholesale prices of other vegetables have already soared by up to 80% since the start of the year.

    But the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) explained that these increases can take up to 18 months to fully have an effect on shoppers.

    “So, while the worst of the recent heat may have passed, the cost to consumers looks set to climb,” it warned.
    The UK saw record temperatures in June, July and August which caused widespread drought and crop failures

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45317023

    • Third World person says:

      but as per foods price index by un

      the price are going down
      http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/worldfood/images/index_table_aug.jpg?2394856

      • Right. Citizens cannot afford higher food prices. The same principles apply there as well. That is why there were food gluts in the Depression. A lot of people could not afford the food. Inadequate demand.

    • Despite of mega trends, e.g. lower water tables/precipitation, it’s largely a seasonal thing as always, simply change your diet, this year seems to be flush with apples, plums, cherries, nuts, .. therefor go lite (creatively combine with the abundant) on the meat and wheat side of the equation..

      Obviously, such advice might sound as “let them eat cake” but it’s not, as it’s your duty to level seasonal swings proactively, if not then you have to depend on the (non-) activity and kindness of your local biz-govs.., which is not recommendable strategy..

  33. Third World person says:

    The global financial crisis of 1825 foreshadowed the problems of emerging markets today

    First Argentina. Now Turkey. The next country to face a financial crisis could be any one of a slew of emerging-market economies that have grown dangerously dependent on borrowing in dollars and other foreign currencies.

    As of the end of 2017, corporations in emerging markets owed $3.7 trillion in dollar debt, nearly twice the amount they owed in 2008, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Analogies to 1997’s Asian financial crisis and Mexico’s “Tequila” crisis of 1994 abound. But the roots of emerging-market crises lie further back in the history books. In The Volatility Machine: Emerging Economics and the Threat of Financial Collapse, finance professor Michael Pettis urges us to look to Europe in the early 1800s, just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The financial conditions and innovations that gave rise to the first truly global crisis, in 1825, are in many ways similar to the conditions that have led Turkey and Argentina to their current precarious states.

    For France, the year 1815 started out calm enough. Napoleon Bonaparte was in far-away Elba off the Tuscan coast, having been exiled to the island by a coalition of European powers. But in February, Napoleon escaped—and wasted no time in going back to attacking coalition forces in what became known as the Hundred Days War.

    On the evening of June 18th, English and Prussian armies surprised Napoleon with a decisive defeat at Waterloo. When the ink dried on the Treaties of Paris in late November, France suddenly owed the rest of Europe a heck of a lot of money. As reparations for the Hundred Days War, the victors slapped France with a bill of 700 million francs, to be paid over the next five years—equal to around 20% of France’s annual GDP. (You can see how sharp that increase was in the chart below.)

    https://qz.com/1363213/todays-emerging-market-crises-can-be-traced-back-to-the-very-first-global-financial-crisis-in-1820/?utm_source=reddit.com

    homo sapiens never learn from its mistake

  34. Although none of the posters here are willing to say this, the cold truth is that population tends to decline to match available energy.

    Malthus is right after all. The Malthusian trap had been just made bigger, but there is no escape in the end because the earth is finite.

  35. Fast Eddy says:

    The state of Kansas failed to act on tests showing that groundwater in a Wichita suburb had been contaminated, allowing hundreds of residents to use tainted water wells for more than six years, before taking action.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/436984-kansas-water-contaminated/

    Even rats don’t poison themselves.

  36. MG says:

    We live in the world of the ageing populations. The tariffs e.g. on EU cars introduced by Trump may simply end up in short supply of the cars to the US from EU, as Germany or Slovakia face serious shortages of workforce and the costs for acquiring suitable workfore are rising. That is why China simply lowered its tariffs on imported cars, as the population of China is ageing, too.

    There is simply no space for the EU car manufactures to lower the prices of the cars. The intention of the Trump to use the tariffs as the additional tax income from abroad will actually increase the tax burden on the US citizens.

    His anti-immigration and anti-imports policy will damage the US in longer term. If the US needs to export its costly oil or natural gas, then other countries simply tax the US energy imports and the game with tariffs initiated by Trump is finished.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      That said… Trump is growing on me… the more the MSM hates him … the more I like him….

    • xabier says:

      There is a big VW plant in Northern Spain: they have just announced that they need to save 30% on production costs at that facility.

      First step: sacking all workers of 60 or over, replacing them with cheaper workers under 30. In some ways pretty good news, as the younger section of the population have been under-employed despite the ‘recovery’ of the Spanish economy as a whole.

      The size of the intended cut surely suggests considerable problems for the firm?

    • Bloke says:

      You on a blog that deals specifically with resources per capita within a given geographic area and you say that anti-immigration is a bad policy? Every body not consuming food from an acre is more food for the rest. That is the way it works. Less bodies are good when there is not a surplus of energy and resources that can be utilized by people.

      • MG says:

        The food in the depopulating world is not such a big problem, but the lack of energy. USA needs immigrant workforce the same way as many countries around the world that face the ageing of their populations and the ensuing depopulation.

  37. DJ says:

    Isn’t what US has been doing since at least -01 a resource war?

    • Rodster says:

      Michael Ruppert who made the movie “Collapse” would agree if he were alive.

      • aaaa says:

        Whatever the USA is doing right now seems to be an absolute mess. I hope Tlump can continue to do as little as possible towards international conflict. I’d say get the hell out of Afghanistan, but it would be disastrous for the residents who don’t want Taliban rule. Hopefully an international committee can finally be formed to work something out with the Taliban that doesn’t involve re-introducing their loony burkatown customs.

        • Rodster says:

          “Whatever the USA is doing right now seems to be an absolute mess.”

          It is on purpose they have destabilized and ruined other countries especially in the Middle East and Latin America with violence, uprising, coups, wars and mass destruction, leaving once thriving countries and economies in a warlike state of disrepair.

          It’s the same reason why the Warmonger Sen. John McCain was seen taking a photograph with soon to be ISIS and requesting arms funding for that group to overthrow countries the USA was opposed to. It’s the same reason why a caravan of Toyota Pickup trucks where seen driving in the desert and no one in the US military, CIA saw them after the $1 trillion budget the Defense Dept receives. They will turn a blind eye when it suits them.

          What the USA is and has been doing for decades is called ‘Divide and Conquer’.

  38. Gail, your article is so relevant.

    In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was just toppled in an internal leader ship spill over energy policy (coal versus renewables)

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/20/liberal-party-self-destructing-national-energy-guarantee-malcolm-turnbull-what-you-need-to-know

    https://www.afr.com/news/leadership-spill-mass-resignations-leave-malcolm-turnbull-resigned-to-defeat-20180822-h14cr2

    The new Prime Minister Scott Morrison was previously seen holding a lump of coal in Parliament saying: “don’t be afraid”
    https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/feb/09/scott-morrison-brings-a-chunk-of-coal-into-parliament-video

    The challenger made a sea level rise joke, which the previous and current PMs enjoyed
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-11/dutton-overheard-joking-about-sea-levels-in-pacific-islands/6768324

    These fights go on now for more than 10 years, resulting in lack of energy investments. Coal fired power plants are aging and breaking down unexpectedly
    http://www.tai.org.au/gas-coal-watch

    Power shortages in the next hot summer are guaranteed

    4/8/2018
    Victoria brown coal power plant lost 1,600 MW over 4 hrs
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/victoria-brown-coal-power-plant-lost-1600-mw-over-4-hrs

    20/7/2018
    Sydney go on your rooftops and save power for 3 million new immigrants
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/sydney-go-on-your-rooftops-and-save-power-for-3-million-new-immigrants

    30/4/2018
    NSW fuel consumption and high immigration not compatible with CO2 reduction pathways
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/nsw-fuel-consumption-and-high-immigration-not-compatible-with-co2-reduction-pathways

    16/3/2018
    NSW coal power maxed out in hot summer (part 2)
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/nsw-coal-power-maxed-out-in-hot-summer-part-2

    14/3/2018
    NSW coal power maxed out in hot summer (part 1)
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/nsw-coal-power-maxed-out-in-hot-summer-part-1

    The previous Labour government Rudd-Gillard had the same problem.

    Australia is stuffed due to illiteracy in climate change science and energy. All MPs to be blamed.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘The challenger made a sea level rise joke, which the previous and current PMs enjoyed’

      Yep – because he knows this GW thing is a joke…

      While the G W fanatics are out in force saying “see” the heat in Europe is caused by humans driving their cars around, they continue to ignore history…The extreme heat in Europe this year is part of a cycle.

      The swings from extreme heat to extreme cold are also not unheard of.

      Another piece of historical evidence they ignore is known as the Hunger Stones. Pictured here is a Hunger Stone from 1616 which has been exposed by the low level of water in the Elbe River.

      This is at Decin, in the Czech Republic. Throughout the centuries, there have been these cycles of extreme heat followed by extreme cold. Such events have been recorded when drought has resulted in the low level of water in the Elbe river.

      https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/international-news/nature/the-hunger-stones-have-appeared/

      https://d33wjekvz3zs1a.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Hunger-stone-Elbe.jpg

      Of course the MSM will not publish this …. so the masses will believe that any heat wave …is caused by burning FF…

      • What is untrue is the huge level of future fossil fuels that have been included in the climate models.

        In order to claim that burning fossil fuels in the fire will be a major problem, it is necessary to claim that prices will rise indefinitely. The IEA has oil prices rising to $300 per barrel.

        https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/2015-iea-weo-figure-1-4.png

        Alternatively, I suppose if it were possible to invent new techniques without raising prices, that would work as well. But we can’t, at least not for very long. Diminishing returns becomes a problem.

        And we cannot cover up rising prices by lowering interest rates beyond zero. That doesn’t work either.

        We run into limits every direction we go.

        The climate is changing, and always has been. But the limits on fossil fuels mean that they cannot do the damage models claim that they do in the future, because the scenarios they model are impossible.

        And intermittent renewables cannot do anything to save us. This is just a convenient myth.

        • surely it’s not climate change per se that will do the damage, but ourselves in the denial/resisting of its effects.

          climate change will affect food/water supplies. so, after having used fossil fuels to grow our populations, there will not be enough food to feed them.

          that must inevitably result in violent conflict because the majority are in denial of the fundamental cause of our problems—always eager to blame ‘others’ and vote for idiots who make promises they can’t keep

          • I doubt that most of us will be around to see very much of the climate change issues. The problems are too close at hand.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Changing kkkl imate …. has always affected all regions of the planet … some have benefited … some have suffered…

              If one were to read history … or do google searches involving historical changes… one would understand that….

              The kklimate is ALWAYS…. in flux….. it ALWAYS has been.

              So pointing to a drought somewhere and screeching KKK CHHHH…. —- is …. MORE onic….

        • Fast Eddy says:

          CNN says we are causing catastrophic G W…… therefore no matter what logic and facts are thrown at the masses…. they will continue to believe CNN….

    • Thanks for the iinks.

      Policies that looked good in a period of what seemed to be endless growth don’t look nearly as good in a period of contraction.

      Citizens “vote out” leaders who don’t seem to make sense any more.

  39. “The [Asian] jobs added rarely pay high salaries compared to those in the developed world, but they have helped raise the standard of living of those who have obtained them”. Really?

    By July 1, 2021, 800,000,000 urban Chinese will have more disposable income than the average American. And higher net worth. What’s more, every Chinese–even the poorest–will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health and old age care. On that day there will be more poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China. Not relatively, not per capita. In absolute numbers.

  40. Shawn says:

    It would be interesting to know if the rise of nationalism/xenophobia etc. is in part the consequences of stress from declining standards of living, real, or perceived relative to peers or other groups. It might be the end result from something like the “fight” response, with a an increase in aggression to deal with real or perceived threats. The modern forms of aggression or not at first direct physical acts, but manifest themselves in a reduction of rational thinking, an increase in tribalism and anger towards the other, a turning back to older social norms and customs, and these most recent days, nasty twitter tweets and blog comments. Politicians can leverage this anger with rhetoric that feeds that anger and tribalism. If the politicians can find or create an external threat to the tribe, they can win support for dramatic political action against the other, or for war against a real or perceived enemy.

    The modern flight responses might be things like the increase in the use of drugs, and the internalization of stress that on average reduces lifespan. (See that white male average lifespans the decreased over the past few years.)

    The above thesis might fit for Germany prior to WWII. I don’t know about England before WWI.

    In any case, it is interesting to think that the need for, and the availability of energy, might be the (true?) invisible hand behind so much human social, political, and economic action. (I suspect we must also add, the waste products resulting from energy consumption/conversion.)

    Thanks Gail as always for providing insight to these possible connections.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      7.6 billion people (our average population in the last 200,000 years was 1-10 million).
      With resource depletion, and using 10 grams in hydrocarbons for 1 gram of food, does anyone question the outcome?

    • Tim says:

      Indeed. The Territorial Imperative. Humans, like primates, can sense the walls are slowly closing in on them.

    • I think you are right about energy issues being behind the invisible hand. Energy flows allow humans to grow; they clearly also allow economies to grow.

      Young people and a lot of other people are finding themselves shut out of opportunities their parents had, or even that they had earlier. I know high school graduates, who moved up through the ranks in companies, and then got laid off. They found it difficult to find comparable new jobs, because people today judge job applicants by whether they have a college diploma. I think that issue, plus seeing the few who have gotten ahead, creates a feeling of depression. What am I doing wrong?

      • Fast Eddy says:

        And social media ensures that those few who are able to succeed are able to let those who are not know about it…

        Leading them to the Fentanyl Solution…

      • zenny says:

        I have grown up with people that made bad and uninformed choices…Try calling a plumber on a weekend and a nurse does not clean anymore they are pencil pushers or do OR work if they want…Who wants to hire a BA in history. Guess he could be the school janitor.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          I’ve got a BA in history…. but then I am not looking for employment…

        • Redshift says:

          A school janitor in a world with severe resource depletion. It ain’t gonna happen, what will be left of “schooling” will be on the Internet.

          No more soccer mums mollycoddling their little preciousssssessss to and from school in their SUV’s

    • I have read that peak coal had arrived in England about 1913.

    • ssincoski says:

      It appears that Catton was correct when he stated that the most visible
      symptom of Overshoot would be scapegoating. While not being optimistic
      about the outcome, he said that the best outcome possible would depend on
      openly admitting we were in overshoot and making some attempt to mitigate
      the worst of the likely reactions to the resulting scarcity.

      I like this quote he included at the start of chapter 13:

      The sociologist, no matter how gloomy his predictions, is inclined
      to end his discourse with recommendations for avoiding
      catastrophe. There are times, however, when his task becomes
      that of describing the situation as it appears without the
      consolation of a desirable alternative. There is no requirement in
      social science that the prognosis must always be favorable; there
      may be social ills for which there is no cure.
      — Lewis M. Killian
      The Impossible Revolution?, p. xv

  41. Kurt says:

    Collapse is always two years away.

  42. Tim says:

    What a Royal mess we find ourselves in.

  43. Hitler’s invasion of Russia was a dash to the oil fields in Baku
    https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Oil-and-Operation-Blue-Hitler-Wants-Russian-Oil0

    and Rommel’s expedition in North Africa an attempt to get at oil in the Middle East
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erwin_Rommel

    Ironically, 45 years later:

    Russia’s oil peak and the German reunification
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/russia%E2%80%99s-oil-peak-and-the-german-reunification

  44. It’s a pity most people fail to connect energy issues with increased conflict amd financial problems. Perhaps if more if us understood the connection and the unfortunate path we’ve put ourselves on, we would begin pursuing degrowth strategies to avert the impending chaos. Then again, maybe not…

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Financial problems?
      “And there must have been a reunion around 2010 on the Uranium One matter, in which a tidy $145-million from Russian Oligarch Central landed in the Clinton Foundation coffers after Madam Secretary Hillary signed onto a go-ahead with the U-1 deal.”
      I don’t see any financial problems (sic)?

    • We really can’t pursue degrowth activities–it just doesn’t work. Too many promises to the elderly for one thing, and world population rise, no matter what we do. Also, diminishing returns is a huge problem. We need to keep running faster to stay even.

      • Artleads says:

        Although running faster seems to happen by itself…or to be an inevitable result of such a large young population…

      • Artleads says:

        And one of the points about that is that a self organized growth dynamic that no one necessarily intends is an easier concept to grapple with. Rather than see some need to (foolishly) grow till the inevitable crash, what you’re instead doing is grappling with a complex, automatic growth dynamic that you know cannot be stopped at will. It has to be understood as best as possible, with adaptations made for it to be better conducted and reinforced. The fact that you can’t stop it growing (and you probably CAN’T stop it growing, else by eliminated) doesn’t mean that growing makes ultimate sense (or has to be indiscriminately endorsed), or that you can even imagine what it could evolve into given the appropriate space, comprehension, intention, conditions….

      • Gail, while I understand why you state we can’t pursue degrowth activities (especially the ’empty’ promises made to people), it seems to me it would be the best of a number of terrible options. I immediately think of what the late Dr. Albert Bartlett argues in his presentation entitled ‘Arithmetic, Population, and Energy’. Bartlett argues, among other things, that zero population growth will happen whether we wish it to or not, it is a mathematical certainty. In the words of others, if something cannot grow forever, it won’t. However, as Bartlett points out, we hold near and dear to our hearts many things that are contributing to overpopulation: education, healthcare, immigration, sanitation, law and order. On the other side of the ledger, however, are forces that counter these: war, famine, disease, accidents, murder, abortion, and infanticide. His point is that we can either deal with the issue of overpopulation and the impending collapse brought about by overshooting the natural carrying capacity of the planet by changing our behaviours (and attitudes) or nature will do it for us; the choice is ours (or is it?).
        I personally don’t think we will make a sane choice for a variety of reasons, and that we are destined to experience the collapse that accompanies our pursuit of infinite growth on a finite planet. We can only run so fast…

        • I see the big issue with respect to degrowth being that we don’t have enough time to do much of anything. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can. Some other issues:

          1. Our big problem in keeping energy prices high enough for producers is keeping demand up to a high enough level. Population degrowth works in precisely the wrong direction.

          2. Population degrowth by birth control exacerbates the imbalance between young people/old people. It is not possible to run a system dominated by a group of elderly individuals.

          3. Most of our population problem is in Africa and parts of Asia, including the Middle East. We don’t have much influence in those areas. Education of women is not a solution at all; it doesn’t add jobs at the end, because the system needs energy consumption to add jobs beyond digging in the dirt with a stick or fortune telling. If women can work, it tends to exacerbate the wage disparity problem (that tends to bring economies down), because highly educated women tend to marry men with high education levels, concentrating resources and wealth. The lesser-educated couples tend to have real problems.

          4. The financial system requires growth, for many reasons. A major reason is to overcome diminishing returns. Another one is to provide the possibility of profits for those investing in the system. Another one is so that outstanding bonds can be repaid, and so that share prices do not drop to zero. Also, so that banks do not fail. It is very hard to pay workers, without banks!

          • xabier says:

            Well summarised, Gail.

            ‘De-growth’ is one of those concepts which needs to be dumped: it implies a benign rather than a traumatic Collapse – and that is simply unhistorical.

            If the collapse phase of more primitive civilisations, with far simpler financial and resource structures than ours, was often highly traumatic, (although varying in speed and depth from region to region) the collapse of ours must be many times more so.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              It astounds me that people desire de-growth…. they are totally clueless… they seem to think perpetual recession is both possible — and good.

              The cluelessness would all end … when they show up at work and are handed the pink slip….

          • I don’t disagree with your points, Gail. I just come back to what Dr Bartlett argued: either we choose or nature does, and we probably won’t like the way that nature will deal with the dilemma. It seems inevitable, regardless of any efforts however, that it will be ‘nature’ dictating how this all plays out–as has been demonstrated by the decline of all complex societies that have existed before us…

            • There used to be a choice between staying in a given collapsing society, and trying to move in with a nearby society that was doing better. If you were a nomadic herds man with a family clan, this change was easy to make. Even a farmer with primitive tools could make the switch. But we don’t have that capability, apart from immigrants trying to leave countries that are vastly overcrowded, and because of this, in danger of collapse. The whole issue is energy per capita, and generally it is the “capita” part of the equation that is the problem.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I choose MORE…. because choosing less would result in a near-term apocalyptic result.

              I hate apocalypses… very much so…. particularly when they involve me….

          • Artleads says:

            This seems like a classic summation of the matter (although watch me forget it in a jiffy) that should go just as is into a book.

          • Artleads says:

            Education of women is not a solution at all; it doesn’t add jobs at the end, because the system needs energy consumption to add jobs beyond digging in the dirt with a stick or fortune telling. If women can work, it tends to exacerbate the wage disparity problem (that tends to bring economies down), because highly educated women tend to marry men with high education levels, concentrating resources and wealth. The lesser-educated couples tend to have real problems.

            “Education of women is not a solution at all; ”

            – I don’t understand the distinction. Given our ideas about education, education of anyone, men or women, isn’t a solution at all. Assuming there is no energy to do what education universally assumes can/should be done.

            – Women who are uneducated are found in the third world. Those women don’t marry, but have children with a succession of different men.

            – One way to produce jobs is to revitalize old bombed out downtowns. The fact that downtown revitalization is often based on unrealistic expectations of energy is one of the major failings of education, but the downtown revitalization I’m seeing on a FB group shows many people selling their wares at regularly scheduled get togethers. economic activity is clearly growing. By far the greatest number of people attending these events are women. They represent a fair variety of classes, but are not notably lacking in education.

            • In some places, men take several wives, and these women are the wives. Africa has a lot of the multiple wives, and poor men with without wives.

              I suppose I object to educating women with the idea that that is a substitute for information on birth control. It doesn’t really find jobs for the women at the end, however. There really has be investment of various kinds to get more jobs, other than perhaps making handicrafts with local materials for relatively little pay. The system needs paved roads, factories and vehicles, plus fairly cheap electricity if large scale employment is to happen. (Also debt to try to finance everything.) I am not sure that that is happening.

              The women need some more leverage over the situation if they are going to not have so many children.

              I understand that women’s worth is determined by how many children they have in some part of the world. The even use in vitro fertilization to get more.

            • Artleads says:

              I guess I have to stick to my little corner. Growth is happening, but I’m not doing much to help that. Plus, growth doesn’t depend on me, and is happening by itself. I benefit short term, but am subversive to growth at the same time.

              No one who is knowledgeable (like many on FW) would agree with MY concept of growth. I guess I have to stand alone.

              – I support the repair of major roads, but not the paving of new roads. I root for dirt roads.

              – An average new car is so monstrous an overuse of resources to drive a single person around that it would be hard to see a reason to support it. But those tiny, half-a-car things–I’m not an advocate, btw–at least use fewer resources to make and operate. and it does demonstrate an ability to innovate, although my proposed car innovations would use far fewer resources still.

              – I can’t internalize the need for higher paying jobs for all. Seems like asking a lot of a depleted world. Just like making a lot of new cars with all the layers of paint, amazing upholstery, glass, plastics, computerization, amazing tires, for a lot of people. Having a small fixed income makes the most ridiculously low prices that I sell my work for seem like luxury. So my economic system is going in reverse and miniaturizing. But I feel really good when I sell a lot since it’s all relative and I would feel depressed holding out for reasonable prices but making no sales. I find ways to make something of quality out of nothing. Money circulates. People get something they want for what they don’t mind spending. Feeling good must surely have some economic significance.

              – My education on FW makes me lean toward coal as a basic fuel for my style of economics. Coal seems to do a lot of work while being somewhat easier to produce. I think the mass disparagement of coal for health and environmental reasons is based on mass distraction. If I’m right that there is no end to coal supply, we could have a stable society where drastic conservation and reliable, non-frivolous energy supply could be assured.

              – If the preoccupation is to run global civilization the way it’s running now, if the highest wisdom is that this economic system is the only way to survive, I will simply go my own way and see what happens. We have to stand for something. If we don’t believe in something, if nothing is sacred, if all that matters is a full belly and an empty head, then we deserve to die.

              So while I spend a LOT of time considering survival, I put some things above survival. And, paradoxically, I think those are the very things that go toward survival. So many would disagree? We just can’t please everybody. 🙂

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Is it really that difficult to understand this?

              http://snbchf.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/DeflationarySpiral.png

            • Artleads says:

              What’s needed are the close-up effects and requirements of doing anything. Maybe nothing at all in our system could conceivably be done differently. I wouldn’t think so, but that’s what I keep hearing from knowledgeable people. Until I get that clearer, I’m saying that some actions–making big, overbuilt, shiny cars to save the economy, creating more suburbs, and a lot else don’t need (and won’t get) my support to do.

  45. Fast Eddy says:

    ‘Most of us have never been taught about resource wars.’

    Funny that… considering all wars… are resource wars… but then we can’t have the masses believing the world is not finite.

    Rising interest rates = trying to stop oil prices from rising to $147 (again) or higher… and triggering GFC2.0?

    • Rodster says:

      “Funny that… considering all wars… are resource wars… but then we can’t have the masses believing the world is not finite.”

      Because if they did, we would have collapsed a long, long time ago. The only way to keep Global BAU running, everyone needs to push their gas pedal to the floor.

    • It never ceases to amaze me how little we have learned in school seems to be right. If I could figure these things out, a whole lot of other people should have been able to as well. I think the military has had things figured out for along tme.

      I once was invited to the Naval War Academy in Rhode Island (with a lot of other folks) to talk about issues the world would encounter as the economy hit limits. My main answer was, “Problems getting adequate funding.” I probably could have added more things now.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        The fact that they are aware of you … and invited you …. says a lot

        • I talked to someone from the Naval War College in Rhode Island at the complexity conference up at Cambridge last month. He was the person who introduced Carmen Reinhart at the conference. He was a whole lot more interested in talking to me than Carmen was. The Naval War College is still obviously still trying to figure out what goes on with shortages. I can probably send him a link to this article.

    • doomphd says:

      not infinite.

    • xabier says:

      Resource wars? The Romans never attacked anyone who wasn’t utterly naughty and bad.

      It was never about resources – all about morality, and because ‘they hate our Roman way of life’. 🙂

  46. Duncan Idaho says:

    Well, this is a little over a year:
    https://oilprice.com/freewidgets/get_oilprices_chart/46

  47. Duncan Idaho says:

    OIL (BRENT) PRICE COMMODITY
    76.27 USD +0.84 (1.11%)

  48. Karl W Hubbard says:

    Very confusing. on one hand, “not enough pipeline” to handle all the shale oil production, but wells may be depleted by the time the pipeline capacity is built. Plenty of shale oil right now, but this is the wrong kind- a light crude which must be blended with heavier crude to get medium grade needed for trucks etc. thus it is being “exported” giving false impression of oil glut or US self sufficiency.

    Shale oil is non profitable in the aggregate after ten years. Drillers need to drill like mad to keep supply going to service their loans, as wells last 3 years before 80% depleted. Banks don’t want to see default, so simply loan more money-from IRAs and 401ks and other pension funds I suspect.
    Water and sand needed for fracking costs going up. Child wells crossing over into adjacent parent wells.

    The whole thing is a shell game.
    As Steven St Angelo says, each barrel of oil will produce less economic output because of increased costs, such as water disposal, road repair, costs of converting to LNG for any excess natural gas to be shipped since we are not equipped to use it as a major alternative to gasoline here in US. these are costs of loan servicing (EROI) and thermodynamic (EROEI) -i.e. the cost of building and maintaining roads, running refineries, hauling water and sand.

    Sounds like maybe three years before resource wars are an inevitability- such as US invasion of Venezuela by proxy or need to “rescue ” them, securing “deal” with Saudi Arabia (looking the other way) as it invades oil-rich Yemen, a fight in South China Sea over oil reserves there, yet with almost paradoxical choke holds on Russia and Iran to keep them from exporting their oil through new pipelines and currency destabilization and other dirty tricks. Destabilize Russia and Iran economically to soften them up in preparation for a war over oil?

    • I agree that the whole thing looks like a shell game. I think that if we looked at other pieces of the game (coal, natural gas, electricity, etc.) their situations would also look like shell games. It is just that a lot of people focused on oil first, not realizing how widespread the problems are.

      China’s finances are a shell game. Italy has debt problems that won’t last for three years.
      UK faces Brexit next spring. The list goes on and on.

      • xabier says:

        There’s some hope: Brexit will probably be postponed, as the ‘Spring’ usually is in these god-forsaken islands. 🙂

  49. Rodster says:

    Gail, if you need a timeout from writing don’t forget you can always do an open post, After the 25-40th comment your articles always turn into civilization collapse. 🙂

    • I was hoping to get this post finished earlier, but my posts aren’t something that I outline and write. They very much change and develop over time.

      In a way, I sometimes need a little time away from comments to finish them.

  50. Fast Eddy says:

    Thanks for the new post.

    Allah Akbar!

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