The climate change story is half true

The climate change story is true in some respects: The climate is indeed changing. And CO2 emissions do seem to affect climate. Burning fossil fuels does indeed make a difference in CO2 levels.

The problem I have with the climate change story is that it paints a totally inaccurate story of the predicament the world is facing. The world’s predicament arises primarily from too little affordable resources, especially energy resources; climate change models tend to give the illusion that our problem is one of a superabundance of fossil fuels.

Furthermore, the world economy has no real option of using significantly less energy, because the economy tends to collapse when there is not enough energy. Economists have not studied the physics of how a networked economy really works; they rely on an overly simple supply and demand model that seems to suggest that prices can rise endlessly.

Figure 1. Supply and Demand model from Wikipedia.
Attribution: SilverStar at English Wikipedia CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

The quantity of energy supply affects both the supply and demand of finished goods and services. History shows that the result of inadequate energy supplies is often collapse or a resource war, in an attempt to obtain more of the necessary resources.

Climate scientists aren’t expected to be economists, but have inadvertently picked up the wrong views of economists and allowed them to affect the climate models they produce. This results in an over-focus on climate issues and an under-focus on the real issues at hand.

Let’s look at a few issues related to the climate change story.

[1] Growth in energy consumption and in world GDP are very closely linked. In fact, energy consumption seems to be the cause of GDP growth.

If we look at the relationship between World GDP and energy consumption growth, we see a close correlation, with energy consumption increases and decreases often preceding GDP growth changes. This implies a causal relationship.

Figure 2. World GDP Growth versus Energy Consumption Growth, based on data of 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy and GDP data in 2010$ amounts, from the World Bank.

The reason why this close relationship exists is because it takes the “magic” of energy consumption to make the physical changes we associate with GDP growth. It takes energy to transport goods. It takes energy to heat goods, whether to refine metals or to cook foods. Refrigeration is similar to heating, except that heat is moved out of the space that is to be cooled. Electricity, of course, depends on energy consumption.

We cannot expect the relationship to be as close at an individual country level as at the world level, because service economies tend to require less energy per capita than manufacturing economies. If a government sees that energy supplies are running short, it can direct the economy to become more services-oriented. This workaround can keep the local economy operating fairly close to normally, at least for a time.

Longer-term, an economy that has been hollowed out by a lack of energy supplies is likely to find that a substantial share of workers are earning only very low wages. With this reduced buying power, many citizens cannot afford to buy expensive goods like homes and cars. This lack of purchasing power tends to hold down commodity prices of all kinds, since finished goods are made with commodities. It is this lack of purchasing power that tends to hold down oil prices and other energy prices.

[2] There are two very different views of our energy future, depending upon whether an analyst believes that oil and other energy prices can rise endlessly, or not.

Figure 3. Two Views of Our Energy Future

There is substantial evidence that the second view is the correct view. Nearly every time the price of oil rises very much, the US economy has tended to head into recession. And forecasters tell us that while some countries (oil exporters) would be winners with higher prices, on average the world economy will tend to shrink. Oil importers, especially, would shrink back in recession. Figure 4 shows a recent chart by Oxford Economics with the conclusion that oil prices cannot rise very much without adversely affecting the world economy.

Figure 4. Chart by Oxford Economics on their view of the impact of oil prices reaching $100 per barrel. Chart shown on WSJ Daily Shot, April 25, 2019.

Climate change modeling has inadvertently incorporated the opposite view: the view that prices can be expected to rise endlessly, allowing a large quantity of fossil fuels to be extracted. Of course, if fossil fuel prices are expected to rise endlessly, then expensive renewables such as wind and solar can become competitive in the future.

[3] To date economists and their policies have had pretty close to zero success in reducing world CO2 fossil fuel emissions.

Figure 5. World Carbon Dioxide Emissions for selected groupings of countries, based on BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy data. Growing Asia is my grouping. It is BP’s Asia Pacific grouping, excluding Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It includes China and India, among other countries.

A popular view of economists is, “If every country limits its own CO2 emissions, certainly world emissions will be reduced.” In practice, this does not work. It simply moves emissions around and, in the process, raises total world emissions. A carbon tax sends high-carbon industries to Emerging Market nations, helping ramp up their economies. The country with the carbon tax on its own citizens then imports manufactured items from the Emerging Market nations with no carbon tax, aiding the Emerging Market countries without a carbon tax at the expense of its own citizens. How reasonable is this approach?

When Advanced Economies transferred a significant share of their industrial production to the Growing Asian nations, the growth rate of industrial production soared in these countries, at the same time that it stagnated in Advanced Economies. (Sorry, data are not available before 2000.)

Figure 6. Percentage increase over prior year for Industrial Production, based on data of CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. Advanced Economies is as defined by CPB. My Growing Asia grouping seems to be very similar to what it shows as “Emerging Asia.”

This soaring production in the Growing Asian nations led to a need for new roads and new homes for workers, in addition to new factories and new means of transportation for workers. The net result was much more CO2 for the world as a whole–not considerably less.

If we calculate the savings in CO2 between the date of the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and 2017 for the US, EU, and Japan (the bottom grouping on Figure 5), we find that there has indeed been a savings close to 1.0 billion tons of carbon dioxide over this 20-year period. Unfortunately, Figure 5 shows:

  • Growing Asia added 9.0 billion tons of CO2 between 1997 and 2017
  • Middle Eastern oil producing nations added 1.1 billion tons of CO2 in the same period, and
  • The Rest of the World added 1.5 billion tons of CO2.

So, what little CO2 savings took place in the US, EU, and Japan during the 20 year period between 1997 and 2017 were dwarfed by the impact of the ramp up of industrial growth outside the US, EU, and Japan.

[4] Probably the single most stupid thing world leaders could have done, if they were at all concerned about CO2 emissions, was to add China to the World Trade Organization in December 2001.

In looking at world CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, we can see a distinct bend occurring in 2002, the year after China was added to the World Trade Organization.

Figure 7. World CO2 Emissions with Trend Line fitted to 1990-2001 data, based on data from 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

The fitted trend line shows that emissions were growing at about 1.1% per year in the 1990 to 2001 period. Once China, with its huge unused coal reserves, was added to the World Trade Organization, both China’s coal production (Figure 8) and its coal consumption (Figure 9) soared.

Figure 8. China energy production by fuel, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018 data.

Figure 9. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy.

With the extra “demand” from China for roads, homes, airports, and new factories, oil and other energy prices soared in the 2002 to 2007 period. Energy prices were again high in the 2011 to 2014 period, after the Great Recession was over. These higher energy prices (see Figure 10 below) encouraged drilling for new oil and gas, such as that from shale formations in the United States. This further helped raise world fossil fuel consumption and thus world CO2 emissions.

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

[5] One way of seeing the truth of the close tie between the growth in energy consumption and economic growth is to observe the dip in world CO2 emissions at the time of the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

If a person looks at any of Figures 5, 6, 7, or 8, it is easy to see a clear dip in CO2 emissions at the time of the Great Recession. What seems to happen is that high prices lead to recessions in oil importing nations. These recessions lead to lower oil prices. (Note the dip in prices in Figure 10.) It is the fact that high prices lead to recessions in oil importing countries that makes the belief that energy prices can rise endlessly seem absurd.

[6] The European Union is an example of a major area that is fighting declines in nearly all of its major types of energy supplies. In practice, energy prices do not rise high enough, and technology does not help sufficiently to provide the energy supplies needed.

Figure 11. European Union energy production versus total energy consumption, based on BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy.

In the chart above, the colored amounts in the lower part are the amount of energy produced within the European Union, shown in layers, based on BP’s evaluation. The black line at the top is the amount of energy consumed by the European union. The difference between the black line and the colored part is the amount that must be imported from somewhere else.

The problem that the European Union has had is that nearly all of the energy types that the EU has been producing have been declining in spite of higher prices and improving technology. Coal is the EU’s largest source of energy, but it has been declining since before 1965. Oil, natural gas, and nuclear are also declining. Hydroelectric isn’t very significant, but its supply is staying more or less level.

The only category that is rising is “Other Renewables.” This category includes biofuels, wind and solar, and wood and trash burned for fuel. Except for the wood burned as fuel, these are what I would call “fossil fuel extenders.” They are only possible because we have fossil fuels. They help reduce the size of the gap between what is produced and what is required by the economy, but they come nowhere close to filling the gap.

There is controversy regarding how wind and solar should be counted in equivalence to fossil fuels. BP data treats the output of wind and solar as if they replace somewhat less than the price of wholesale electricity (worth about 3 to 5 cents per kWh). The International Energy Agency treats wind and solar as if they only replace the fuel that operates power plants (worth about 2 to 3 cents per kWh).* In practice, the IEA gives less than half as much credit for wind and solar as does BP. In exceptionally sunny places, solar auction prices can be low enough to match its value to grids.

It would make sense to treat wind and solar as replacing electricity, if the systems were set up to include substantial storage capacity. Without at least several days of storage capacity (the situation today), the BP method of counting wind and solar overstates the benefit of wind and solar. Thus, the value of Other Renewables to the EU tends to be overstated by the BP methodology used in Figure 11.

[7] There are huge differences in CO2 growth patterns between (a) countries whose governments have recently collapsed and (b) countries that are growing rapidly.

Government Collapse Related Countries.  Russia, Lithuania, and Ukraine are all countries whose central government (the Soviet Union) collapsed in 1991. Romania was “only” a country that was dependent on the Soviet Union for imported oil and other trade. These countries all saw a major fall in industrialization after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has been especially hard hit because it has never been able to replace the industry it lost with new industry.

Figure 12. Selected countries with falling CO2 emissions since 1990, based on BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy.

As I see the situation, the Central Government of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 because the Soviet Union was an oil exporter, and the price of oil had fallen too low for an extended period of time, leaving inadequate funding for investment in new productive capacity. Russia was able to recover better than the other countries shown because once the price of oil rose again, it was able to again ramp up its oil production and exports, supporting its economy.

Examples of Rapidly Growing Countries. If we consider the CO2 patterns of a few  growing Asian nations, we see very different patterns than those of the countries attempting to recover from the collapse of the Soviet Union’s central government. The CO2 emissions of the Growing Asian Countries have been rising rapidly, relative to 1990 levels.

Figure 13. CO2 Emissions of Selected Asian Countries, based on BP 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy.

China’s flattening CO2 emissions since 2013 are an indication that much of its cheap-to-extract coal has been mined out. It has been difficult for China to maintain its level of coal production (see Figure 8, above), given the low level of coal prices in recent years. This problem of low coal prices seems to be parallel to the problem of inadequate prices for oil producers.

[8] Unfortunately, the real story about economies is that they are governed by the laws of physics. Like plants and animals, and like hurricanes, they are dissipative structures that grow for a time and eventually come to an end. 

We know that over the ages, many, many economies have grown for a time and then collapsed. But the study of how and why this has happened has been divided among many fields of study, including physicists and historians. Economists, who tend to be hired by politicians, seem to be among the last to understand collapse. They simply model the future as if it will reflect a continuation of past patterns. With such models, economic growth will continue forever.

But growth forever isn’t what really happens. Eventually, growth in population outstrips growth in resources. Various workarounds are tried, often requiring growing specialization, bigger businesses and governments, improved technology and more international trade. This additional complexity tends to lead to too much wage disparity. The problem with wage disparity is that it tends to lead to a large number of workers with very low wages.

The low wages caused by increased wage disparity tend to harm the economy. These low-paid workers cut back on their purchases of discretionary goods–for example, they delay buying a new car or visiting restaurants. These cutbacks lead to what look like “gluts” of commodities such as oil and metals used in making finished goods. Commodity prices tend to fall instead of rise, in order to clear the gluts.

As wage disparity grows, low-wage workers become very unhappy. They may elect radical leaders, or they may try to overthrow a king. With the many low-wage workers, it becomes difficult to collect enough tax revenue. Governments may collapse for lack of tax revenue. Sometimes, governments will attack other economies to try to solve their low-resource problem in this way.

[9] Climate change modelers have not understood that one of the things that they should be concerned about is near-term collapse. The rising wealth disparity in recent years is a major indicator that the world economy may be headed toward collapse. 

Economists and politicians model the world as if business as usual will continue forever, but this is not the way the real situation works.

Meteorologists and other climate scientists have closely examined historical climate situations, but when it comes to future patterns of energy consumption, they are far outside of their field. They miss the likelihood of near-term collapse. With the assumption of economic growth forever, it is easy to arrive at projections of growth in fossil fuel consumption almost forever. This, of course, leads to growth in CO2 pollution and a very concerning rise in temperature.

In fact, with the story of economic growth forever, climate change becomes the most serious problem the world is facing. People believe that 100 or 500 years from now, the economy can be expected to operate as in the past. One of our biggest problems will be rising oceans and the need to move our cities back from them. Also, weather changes will be of huge concern.

[10] If the world economy is headed toward near-term collapse, climate change shrinks back in the list of things we should be worried about.

Most of us remember what happened in the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. Collapse of the world economy would likely be far, far worse than this recession. It would involve debt defaults as the economy stops growing fast enough to repay debt with interest. It could perhaps involve collapses of governments, similar to the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991. If low oil prices are again a problem, collapses could especially affect oil exporting nations. In some cases, the use of fossil fuels could fall as quickly as the decline in CO2 emissions for Ukraine (Figure 12).

I often think that the concern about climate change comes from the fact that it can be modeled as if nothing else changes in the future. Surely, if researchers were modeling the overfishing in the sea, they would come to a correspondingly bleak view of how the sea might operate 50 to 100 or 1000 years from now. Similarly, if researchers were modeling our problems with soil erosion, they would come to a correspondingly bleak view about soil conditions, 50 or 100 or 1000 years from now.

One of the problems with the climate change model is that it overlooks the huge number of limits we are reaching simultaneously. These issues will surely change how the economy functions in the future, in ways that are not reflected in today’s climate models.

[11] The great draw of wind and solar is that they seem to solve problems of any type: either too much fossil fuels or too little.

Very few dare talk about the real problem we are facing–a huge number of limits coming at us from many directions at once. World population has risen too much relative to resources. Wage disparity is too great. Aquifer levels are being drawn down, far more quickly than they are being replaced. Pollution of many types (not just CO2) is becoming a problem. Microbes are mutating more quickly than we can find new antibiotics to fight them.

There seem to be plenty of fossil fuels in the ground, but there is a mismatch between the prices consumers can afford and the prices producers need in order to be profitable. It is not just the price of gasoline used at the pump that is important; the prices of finished goods made with energy products (such as homes and automobiles) are just as important. Young people are especially being squeezed with all of their educational loans.

If our problem can be framed as a problem of “too much,” rather than “too little,” we have a situation that is much more salable to the average consumer. People can easily believe that prices will rise endlessly, and that the economy will continue to grow forever. If economists have faith that this can happen, why not believe them? In this context, potential solutions such as wind and solar seem to make sense, even though, with adequate storage, they tend to be high-cost.

[12] Wind and solar, when analyzed without the need for energy storage, seem to help reduce CO2 emissions. But if substantial electricity storage needs to be included, this CO2 benefit tends to disappear.

Most analysts (such as those doing Energy Returned on Energy Investments calculations) have overlooked the need for electricity storage, if penetration is to ramp up. If the direct and indirect energy costs of storage are considered, the expected climate benefit of wind and solar tends to disappear.

Figure 14. Slide by author referencing Graham Palmer’s chart of Dynamic Energy Returned on Energy Invested from “Energy in Australia.”

This is only one estimate. More extensive calculations are needed, but the indications of this example are concerning.

Conclusion: Ultimately, the climate story, as it tends to be quoted in the news media, is misleading.

The climate story we hear tends to give the impression that climate change is a huge problem compared to all the other resource and environmental problems we are encountering. Furthermore, a person gets the impression that simple solutions, such as wind, solar, carbon taxes and voluntary cutbacks in fossil fuel use, are available.

This is a false picture of the situation at hand. Climate change is one of many problems the world economy is facing, and the solutions we have for climate change at this time are totally inadequate. Because an increase in energy consumption is required for GDP growth worldwide, even voluntary cutbacks in fossil fuel usage tend to harm the economies making the reductions. If climate change is to be addressed, totally different approaches are needed. We may even need to talk about adapting to climate change that is largely out of our ability to control.

The benefits of wind and solar have been greatly exaggerated. Partly, this may be because politicians have needed a solution to the energy and climate problems. It may also be partly because “renewable” sounds like it is a synonym for “sustainable,” even though it is not. Adding electricity storage looks like it would be a solution to the intermittency of wind and solar, but it tends to add costs and to defeat the CO2 benefit of these devices.

Finally, IPCC modelers need to develop their models more in the context of the wider range of limits that the world is facing. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to model the expected impact of all limits combined, rather than limiting the analysis to climate change. In particular, there is a need to consider the physics of how an economy really operates: Energy consumption cannot be reduced significantly at the world level without increasing the probability of collapse or a major war.

Footnote:

*Island economies and other remote economies sometimes burn oil to produce electricity. In this case, the cost of fuel consumption for electricity generation will be much higher than the $0.02 to $.03 cents per kWh quoted in the text, so the economics will be different. For example, if diesel is selling for $3.00 per gallon, the cost per kWh of fuel for electricity from diesel will be $0.24 per kWh, based on EIA efficiency estimates. With this high cost of fuel, substituting wind or solar for part of the diesel generally makes economic sense.

The “catch” is that whether the remote economy powers its electricity with oil or with oil plus wind/solar, the price of electricity will remain high. If the remote economy is primarily operating a tourist trade, high electricity prices may not be a major issue. But if the remote economy wants to sell goods in the world economy, its cost of finished goods can be expected to be high compared to the cost of goods made elsewhere, because of its high electricity cost. The high cost of electricity is one of the reasons for the economic problems of Puerto Rico, for example.

 

 

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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1,529 Responses to The climate change story is half true

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Neither Donald Trump nor Xi Jinping can afford to blink. A personal duel between two rival presidents could ensure that the escalating trade war across the Pacific may last longer than anyone expected.

    “The showdown is now no longer just a confrontation between China and the US — one a rising power challenging the long established dominance of the global economic leader. It’s become a test of wills between two of the world’s most powerful men, each of whom has political interests that are more likely to deepen the conflict than to quickly ease it.”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/donald-trump-xi-jinping-china-trade-war/index.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “A Chinese cargo plane arrived in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Monday, the Venezuelan Ministry of Communication has told CNN.

      “The plane was carrying aid for the impoverished nation: approximately 2 million units of medical equipment, including medicine and surgical medical supplies. The supplies will be distributed by agencies designated by the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.”

      https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/13/americas/chinese-aid-arrives-in-venezuela-intl/index.html

    • TIm Groves says:

      Here’s how the Trump administration sees the US-China war. For them, it IS a trade war, but it’s much much bigger than just trade.

      Why exactly did progress towards a US-China trade deal apparently slow down, and President Trump finally enact his promised 25% tariff on 200 billion dollars in Chinese goods? What will the impact of this be on the US-China trade war, and can the Chinese communist party be trusted to live up to any deal at all?

      Today we sit down with Curtis Ellis, who was special advisor to the Secretary of Labor in the Trump-Pence administration, and is now a Senior Policy Advisor with America First Policies. We discuss the rationale behind President Trump’s tariffs on China, and the longer-term implications of the US-China trade war—and US-China relations overall.

      https://youtu.be/oSjlGNaWPbc

      • Interesting. We all know that China expects to get the benefit of any technology that comes its way, even if it has to “reverse engineer” it products. There are many other versions of its approach as well.

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Young people who entered Britain’s labor market amid the 2008 financial crisis are still “scarred” by its impact on their employment and earnings potential, researchers found. The so-called “crisis cohort,” who entered the world of work following the financial meltdown of 2008, have continued to face higher unemployment, lower pay and worse job prospects more than a decade later, according to a new report.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/13/british-millennials-scarred-by-2008-financial-crisis-research-says.html

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mishandling of his country’s currency crisis heightens substantially the probability that Turkey will soon default on its external debt. That could jeopardise the rest of the emerging market economies’ prospects as well European banks, particularly in Spain, with high Turkish debt exposure…

    “After plunging by 30% in 2018, since the start of this year the currency has lost a further 14% in value and shows no signs of stabilising.”

    https://www.aei.org/publication/turkey-headed-for-debt-default/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Turkey election authorities annulling the Istanbul municipal vote, after an opposition candidate was elected as mayor, has increased the risk of political instability while the Turkish Lira gave way against the Euro. The country’s Supreme Electoral Board announced that the election would be re-run on June 23, state media reported.”

      https://www.financialmirror.com/news-details.php?nid=36943

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “The ruling coalition of Argentine president Mauricio Macri suffered a heavy defeat Sunday in elections held in Cordoba province, the country’s second most populous district… He has implemented a series of unpopular austerity policies to try to restore stability in the face of soaring inflation, huge debt obligations and a currency crisis. The measures came in exchange for a US$ 56 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.”

        https://en.mercopress.com/2019/05/13/macri-s-coalition-suffers-heavy-defeat-in-argentina-s-second-most-populous-district

        • The IMF really seems to like austerity measures. Austerity measures mean “use less fossil fuels,” and “buy fewer goods made with fossil fuels.” There is no surer way to send the prospect for an economy downward than less energy consumption. It is hard to understand what the IMF is thinking of, except that austerity measures for poor performers leaves more for everyone else.

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Investors in Turkey are calling on the government to urgently implement measures to deal with possible capital problems in the banking industry. Tens of billions of dollars of non-performing loans and restructured borrowing are hurting banks’ balance sheets. Last year’s currency crisis and a deep economic contraction has created financial problems for many of the nation’s firms.

        “Turkish companies have already requested debt restructuring of almost $30 billion, analysts say.”

        https://ahvalnews.com/turkish-lira/turkish-banks-near-goldman-red-zone-after-lira-tumbles

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A backbone-breaking crisis is “imminent” in [India’s] non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) sector, India’s Corporate Affairs Secretary warned in an interview last week calling this a defining moment for India’s economy. Speaking to PTI news agency, Injeti Srinivas said a few recent misadventures by some large entities and a general credit squeeze will lead to the disaster, according to NDTV.”

    https://qrius.com/is-the-indian-shadow-banking-sector-in-crisisall-you-need-to-know/

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Passenger vehicle sales in India registered the steepest decline in about eight years in April as tighter availability of credit in a slowing economy damped demand. Automotive demand in Asia’s third-largest economy has been cooling since July amid a credit crunch and distress in rural markets.”

      https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/India-passenger-vehicle-sales-slump-most-in-8-years-in-April-on-tighter-credit

    • We should be watching India more closely. The situation reminds me quite a bit of the situation with Diamondback Energy situation we talked about yesterday. To an outsider, it looks like the company is imploding, yet investors keep pouring money in. In the case of India, outsiders say, “Wow, look how the country has been growing. Nothing could possibly go wrong.” Yet growth is increasingly financed by imported energy supplies, and the country’s financial situation is going downhill. The country doesn’t have much in the way of bank lending capability internally. It must borrow from outside, or the shadow banking sector.

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The world’s biggest economies are on track for their worst year since 2009, with early warning signals pointing to a sustained slowdown in growth.

    “Growth in the US, Japan, Canada and the eurozone is easing, according to an index compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    “The index for the 35-strong club of developed economies fell to 99.0 in March, the lowest reading since September 2009 and below the average of 100 seen over the past few years.

    “The scores are based on components such as demand for services, car sales, consumer confidence, industrial output and share prices. The aim of the index is to predict growth patterns six to nine months into the future…”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/05/13/recession-watch-early-warning-sign-shows-worst-growth-since/

  6. Lastcall says:

    Rare earths are not unusual in being contaminating; hydraulic fracturing, nuclear waste, farming. Superfund sites are, I believe, areas of severe contamination?
    Here in NZ (clean green image anyone?) we continue to import and use phosphate rock with a high cadmium content. Our agricultural soils have slowly but steadily increasing levels.
    But we fixed that; we had a legislative change recently that removed the category ‘contaminated land’ being able to be applied to farmland.
    China is just playing catch-up.
    The poisoning of our earth being closely matched by the poisoning of our minds via toxic messaging.

    • Lastcall says:

      Oops this ended up in an unusual place…

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        the modern world is an unusual place…

        • Lastcall says:

          A place for everything and everything unusual in its usual place….like here huh?

    • Xabier says:

      I’ve noticed an inventive use of the word ‘sustainable development’ in government circles here: it now appears to mean ‘ unrestricted and perpetual’ ie pouring concrete forever.

      So, a ‘sustainable development ‘ plan is about to be dropped on this region, obliterating farmland and destroying what real quality of life remains. Sad that this is happening in the last days of the industrial system, but inevitable.

      Likewise ‘clean’ and ‘green’ have been emptied of meaning, or, rather. they have had their meanings inverted.

      This civilization will go down lying to itself to the very end. Never so much data, never so little truthfulness and comprehension.

      • Likewise ‘clean’ and ‘green’ have been emptied of meaning, or, rather. they have had their meanings inverted.

        This civilization will go down lying to itself to the very end. Never so much data, never so little truthfulness and comprehension.

        I agree with you. Just turn the understanding upside down!

  7. jupiviv says:

    I’ve recently stumbled upon an economic blog by one Dr. Jack Rasmus:
    https://jackrasmus.com/

    His latest article is about the April jobs report:
    https://jackrasmus.com/2019/05/04/how-accurate-are-the-april-jobs-numbers-with-audio/

    “Problems with the April Jobs Report

    While the Current Establishment Survey (CES) Report (covering large businesses) shows 263,000 jobs created last month, the Current Population Survey (CPS) second Labor Dept. report (that covers smaller businesses) shows 155,000 of these jobs were involuntary part time. This high proportion (155,000 of 263,000) suggests the job creation number is likely second and third jobs being created. Nor does it reflect actual new workers being newly employed. The number is for new jobs, not newly employed workers. Moreover, it’s mostly part time and temp or low paid jobs, likely workers taking on second and third jobs.

    Even more contradictory, the second CPS report shows that full time work jobs actually declined last month by 191,000. (And the month before, March, by an even more 228,000 full time jobs decline).

    The much hyped 3.6% unemployment (U-3) rate for April refers only to full time jobs (35 hrs. or more worked in a week). And these jobs are declining by 191,000 while part time jobs are growing by 155,000. So which report is accurate? How can full time jobs be declining by 191,000, while the U-3 unemployment rate (covering full time only) is falling? The answer: full time jobs disappearing result in an unemployment rate for full time (U-3)jobs falling. A small number of full time jobs as a share of the total labor force appears as a fall in the unemployment rate for full time workers. Looked at another way, employers may be converting full time to part time and temp work, as 191,000 full time jobs disappear and 155,000 part time jobs increase.

    And there’s a further problem with the part time jobs being created: It also appears that the 155,000 part time jobs created last month may be heavily weighted with the government hiring part timers to start the work on the 2020 census–typically hiring of which starts in April of the preceding year of the census. (Check out the Labor Dept. numbers preceding the prior 2010 census, for April 2009, for the same development a decade ago).

    Another partial explanation is that the 155,000 part time job gains last month (and in prior months in 2019) reflect tens of thousands of workers a month who are being forced onto the labor market now every month, as a result of US courts recent decisions now forcing workers who were formerly receiving social security disability benefits (1 million more since 2010) back into the labor market.

    The April selective numbers of 263,000 jobs and 3.6% unemployment rate is further questionable by yet another statistic by the Labor Dept.: It is contradicted by a surge of 646,000 in April in the category, ‘Not in the Labor Force’, reported each month. That 646,000 suggests large numbers of workers are dropping out of the labor force (a technicality that actually also lowers the U-3 unemployment rate). ‘Not in the Labor Force’ for March, the previous month Report, revealed an increase of an additional 350,000 added to ‘Not in the Labor Force’ totals. In other words, a million–or at least a large percentage of a million–workers have left the labor force. This too is not an indication of a strong labor market and contradicts the 263,000 and U-3 3.6% unemployment rate.

    Bottom line, the U-3 unemployment rate is basically a worthless indicator of the condition of the US jobs market; and the 263,000 CES (Establishment Survey) jobs is contradicted by the Labor Dept’s second CPS survey (Population Survey).”

    • Very interesting. Makes me want to take a look at the numbers myself. I can imagine that adding a lot of part time census takers would help ramp up employment numbers. Presumably employment dollars don’t ramp up much, if most of the new jobs are part-time, temporary jobs.

  8. Pingback: Links 5/13/19 | AlltopCash.com

  9. Robert Rapier has a post that has been republished on OilPrice.com called Debunking the Oil Industry Cash Flow Myth. The point he makes is

    It is true that capital expenditures are the main reason that FCF went deeply negative for so many companies in recent years. When oil prices were $100 a barrel, oil companies invested every penny they could get their hands on into producing more oil. There were no guarantees of how long the high prices would last, but it’s understandable why they were plowing all their cash back into their business.

    He points out that recently Free Cash Flow for a group of shale companies amounted to $384 million positive in 2018, despite the fact that the oil price that was $35 per barrel lower than it was in 2013. He also points out that Chevron and Occidental Petroleum company both evidently consider Anadarko an extremely attractive asset, even though it has only had positive cash flow for three years in its history.

    I personally would point out that the frequent assertion by the author of the SRSrocco Report that shale extraction has low EROEI is simply the author’s own conjecture, perhaps based on the negative cash flow. Either that, or he is using a reference to a totally different type of shale (baking oil out of shale in the four corner states, using long-term heat) that was only experimental, and has never been used at all commercially. (This reference shows up time and again in EROEI reference tables, however, with the label “shale.”)

    The only reference I have seen to the EROEI calculations of shale of the type in the Permian and the Bakken has shown quite favorable high EROEI estimates.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360544215014917

    Adam Brandt talks about a median net energy return (which is his version of EROEI) of 29.7:1. This is a lot better than for other types of oil.

    • Neil says:

      Interesting that you sire Diamondback Energy. I had a quick look at their quarterly report and no where does the word ‘Profit’ get printed
      http://ir.diamondbackenergy.com/news-releases/news-release-details/diamondback-energy-inc-announces-first-quarter-2019-financial

      Please explain!

      • The news release you provided makes it look like Diamondback Energy is imploding.

        It is indeed interesting what Robert Rapier has to say about Diamondback Energy.

        Some companies go for years without generating positive FCF. Diamondback Energy, for example is one of the largest pure shale/tight oil producers. They went public in 2012 and have never generated positive FCF. But that hasn’t posed a problem, as their debt/EBITDA ratio is at a manageable 2.5.

        Further, Diamondback shares have risen by 470 percent since the company’s 2012 initial public offering — nearly five times the return of the S&P 500. Thus, despite years of negative FCF, Diamondback’s stock market performance leaves most of its peers in the dust.

        A recent article is titled Diamondback Energy stock surges 9% after driller launches $2 billion buyback program

        So despite these problems, stockholders figure that their value per share will be greater with fewer shares, so “all is good.”

        It is a strange world!

        • It works as you probably know the following way, dark pools (heavy weight dealers for CB owners) initiate a new mega trend lets say via infusion into alt oils, and the average ‘smart investor’ jumps on the mega trend right away.. And everybody is happy, only for those few serial worriers discussing insta or sequential doom theories like we do..

    • jupiviv says:

      Doesn’t the EROEI of shale vary greatly based on region, type etc?

      • Adam Brandt says that the return is sensitive to many things, including model parameters. So there is a lot of variability. In fact, part of this variability seems to have to do with how much future returns in oil supply these wells will have.

        I doubt we know very precisely.

        With traditional oil fields, EROEI is energy in versus energy out in the same year. This is the definition that really makes sense. The return has to be pretty much instantaneous. Once a person gets into the world of modeling, whether it is the world of modeling solar panels and wind turbines or the world of modeling shale returns, assumptions make a huge difference in what the return is calculated to be.

        As a practical matter, however, the economy operates on energy available each year. It doesn’t matter what is promised in the future. The calculation should not give credit for future hoped for oil production (or future hoped for electricity from wind or solar).

    • srsrocco says:

      Gail,
      So, you are quoting a positive $384 million in positive free cash flow from a group of shale companies in 2018. While $384 million in positive free cash flow is indeed a nice chunk of change, I would kindly like to remind you and your followers that several sources estimate the total U.S. Shale Industry debt is now $300+ billion.

      So, it would take a lot of free cash flow to BREAK EVEN over the next decade, if that’s ever possible.

      Lastly, while Brandt et al., have calculated a near 30/1 EROI for U.S. shale oil in the Bakken, I wouldn’t place too much faith in that figure. When one of the larger Shale oil companies becomes the next ENRON, then we can revisit the EROI of U.S. Shale oil.

      SRSrocco

      • I agree that $384 million is not much compared to what the companies owe.

        I think that the reason that Adam Brandt’s calculation is not publicized by the EROEI community is because they are more than a little bit embarrassed by the high number. Can it be right? (Adam Brandt is highly respected researcher at Stanford, by the way.) I think his EROEI calculation has the same calculation problems that the wind and solar EROEI calculations have. All of them tend to be biased on the high side because of the modeling that go into them. The models ignore the fact that the economy really needs energy on a year by year basis. Also, it is easy to overestimate the future output and underestimate the future input.

        The calculation by Cutler Cleveland that purports to be EROEI for Shale should never be quoted because that is something totally different than the product that is extracted today.

        I am not convinced that EROEI calculations are as helpful as people say they are because it is very easy to get really misleading numbers indications from them.

        Robert Rapier works in the energy business. He has worked both for oil companies and renewables. I expect that he believes that oil prices will rise. When oil prices rise, he expects this will fix a lot of oil company problems and will make renewables competitive. Most of our problems will be solved. If you don’t believe this combination of things will happen, then things don’t work out so well.

        • The y/y energy throughput for an economy is not entirely – precisely valid argument either. Despite of JITs as you know people tend to horde-buffer everything from oil bunkers and moored tankers to heaps of already mined coal to natgas and raw uranium/ready pellets storage etc. Yes, it’s usually only matter of weeks-month of buffer capacity but in times of recessions, trade blockades, environmental destruction and other events which severely crush demand the role of buffers essentially increases even more..

          • I don’t think that this would make a lot of difference. US crude oil stocks today are reported to be 28.5 days of supply. Gasoline stocks are reported to be 23.9 days of supply. If the supply isn’t there, it is felt pretty quickly, not months away.

  10. Duncan Idaho says:

    Nasdaq
    7,673.02
    -243.92(-3.08%)

    Quite a hit.
    You can see why this guy has been bankrupt 6 times.
    China is not some scammer from Queens.

    • Dow Jones -658

      • China has retaliated with higher tariffs on some goods it buys from the US, effective June 1. This is the WSJ summary of changes:

        China said tariffs will increase to 10%, 20% or 25% for most of the 5,140 U.S. products on which it currently imposes levies of 5% or 10%. Goods that China will charge at 25% include animal products, frozen fruits and vegetables and seasonings. Goods it will charge at 20% include baking condiments, chemicals and vodka. Tariffs will stay at 5% for certain items, including vehicle parts, medical equipment and farm equipment such as tractors.

        For now, China is not extending to items that aren’t currently subject to levies, notably aircraft such as Boeing Co. jetliners and U.S. crude oil. China must import both oil and passenger aircraft to meet domestic demand.

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          for those of you out there who are longing for the emergence of a big black swan…

          I think there is one, now flying between the USA and China…

          will it land with a catastrophic crash?

          • Sheila chambers says:

            Have you read about the attack on several oil tankers off UAE? Reminds me of the Gulf of Tonkin false flag event.
            I wonder if that dam Bolton is behind this? He’s been DROOLING for an excuse to attack Iran.
            Things are going downhill fast now aren’t they.

            • Rodster says:

              It’s funny what a person sees, when one becomes awake to all the corporate media and Government lies. This has all the makings of 9-11.

            • Sheila chambers says:

              9/11 was a false flag orchestrated between the US & Saudi Arabia but Bush blamed Iraq who had nothing to do with 9/11 but they were virtually unarmed & they had OIL!
              I don’t listen to MSM any more, even PBS has become a mouthpiece for our RULERS & lies constantly not to mention all the ADS they have for their donors, supporters & sponsors every few minutes!
              That’s one of the reasons I dumped TV, “infotainment” instead of actual news & I’m sick of being lied too & being filled with propaganda, it’s 24/7 now!

  11. Keating Willcox says:

    Trump is smart. He realized that there is far more productive capacity than necessary in manufacturing. India, Japan and the rest of Asia are ready to mow China’s lawn. China’s temper tantrum is a final effort to forestall this, but they really have no choice.

    • They may have the productive capacity, but they don’t have the cheap energy supplies to use the capacity. International trade needs to be cut back to match what consumers can afford. The world will be using fewer automobiles and fewer computers in the future. Our standard of living will be going down.

  12. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The United States and China appeared at a deadlock over trade negotiations on Sunday… Beijing remained defiant… “At no time will China forfeit the country’s respect, and no one should expect China to swallow bitter fruit that harms its core interests,” the People’s Daily, a newspaper controlled by the Chinese ruling Communist Party, said in a commentary on Monday.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/13/us-china-trade-war-beijing-defiant-will-not-swallow-bitter-fruit.html

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Donald Trump does not understand the implications of his dangerous game of brinkmanship and the precarious state of the US economy. Let me explain.

      “On the back of a strong employment report in April, with non-farm jobs rising by 263,000 and unemployment rate falling to 3.6%, and stronger-than-expected first-quarter GDP growth advance report at 3.2%, he somehow believes that the economy is so strong that it would withstand the fallout from a trade war. But he is wrong.”

      https://seekingalpha.com/article/4263265-precarious-state-american-economy

      • Perhaps this is where the laws of physics are pushing him. If there are not enough low-priced fossil fuels to go around, someone needs to be cut out of the picture. Starting a cold war with tariffs is in some ways better than starting a hot war with nuclear bombs.

        • the theme of the dictator is always world domination—or at least as much of the world that their resources allow them to dominate

          Hitler used violent methods

          Trump thinks he can use trade sanctions

          The end-purpose is the same

          • Tim Groves says:

            In Japan, the opposition call Prime Minister Abe a dictator. They used to call Nakasone a dictator and Hashimoto dictators too. These prime ministers were all guilty of the inexcusable crime of trying to implement policies that the opposition disagreed with, and because they had a majority in parliament there was nothing the opposition could do to stop them. The word “dictator” has lost all meaning in Japan through repeated misuse.

            I fear the same thing has happened in the US. A President acting within hte law and the constitution who attempts to implement policies that the opposition disagrees with is now regularly labelled “a dictator” by politicians, the media, and hollywood celebrities, and so it’s no surprised that a lot of people have been “programmed” to parrot their nonsense through repetitive exposure to it.

            Of course, if Trump really was a dictator, the opposition would all be be in jail or in exile and the cultural elite would be guarding their mouths and watching their backs.

            There were no domestic standup comedians making fun of Adolf or Saddam or Uncle Jo or Mao when they were in charge of their respective executive branches. A Chinese friend told me that in China as recently as the 1970s people were being executed for accidentally dishonoring photos of Chairman Mao by spilling tea on them. Likewise, you won’t find anyone in North Korea laughing at their leader’s hairstyle. The Iraqi soccer team were tortured on the orders of Saddam’s son for not performing up to the requisite standard. That’s dictatorship—the absolute power of life and death over anyone in the land you rule.

            So Norman, I do respect and admire you, and I understand you’re entitled to your freedom of expression, but please give it a rest. I get it. You don’t like Trump. We all get it. But he isn’t a dictator. Not even close.

  13. Harry McGibbs says:

    “UK business output growth declined for the first time in 2019 last month as the boost from Brexit stockpiling faded…”

    http://www.cityam.com/277473/uk-business-confidence-lowest-since-2012-output-drops-first

  14. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Brazil’s government will announce a new freeze on federal spendings later this month, special secretary to the Economy Ministry Waldery Rodrigues said on Thursday, blaming weak growth for stoking a budget deficit and hurting revenues… Brazil’s economy has performed far worse this year than policymakers and most economists had expected…”

    https://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-business/brazil-economy-could-face-serious-difficulties-in-the-second-half-of-the-year/

  15. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Japan’s coincident indicator index declined in March and the government cut its assessment of the economy, a sign it may already be in recession as the U.S.-China trade war and weak external demand hurt activity.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy-indicator/japans-coincident-index-suggests-economy-may-be-in-recession-idUKKCN1SJ0C6

  16. Chrome Mags says:

    https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Global-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-Hit-52-Trillion.html

    “The world spent a staggering $4.7 trillion and $5.2 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2015 and 2017, respectively, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund. That means that in 2017 the world spent a whopping 6.5 percent of global GDP just to subsidize the consumption of fossil fuels.”

    6.5% of GDP to subsidize fossil fuels?!

    • Hideaway says:

      You always have to be careful with this type of stuff and trace it back to the source. I noticed this on page 4 …..

      “with under-charging for domestic air pollution accounting for about half of the total subsidy and global warming about a quarter”

      Right there you have 3/4 of the ‘subsidy’, so not a ‘real’ number in economists terms that look to the environment as free game.

      • Tim Groves says:

        Also, the report omits to factor in the tremendous contribution fossil fuel combustion is making towards plant growth. Crops, forests and grasslands all over the world are producing more biomass, which helps support more wild animals and boosts the resources available to the economy.

        https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

        • Jan Steinman says:

          the tremendous contribution fossil fuel combustion is making towards plant growth. Crops, forests and grasslands all over the world are producing more biomass

          But it appears the nutritional value of CO2-enhanced growth is lower, sometimes much lower.

          This means you (and livestock) need to eat more to get the same nutrition — hardly something to celebrate!

          • Tim Groves says:

            There are always plusses and minuses, Jan. And alarmist propagandists will always try there best to look for minuses or, failing that, make up stuff. But the basic fact remains extra CO2 is good for plant growth and plant growth is good for animals, good for the world, good for the planet, good for Gaia!

            This means you (and livestock) need to eat more to get the same nutrition — hardly something to celebrate!

            What’s not to celebrate!
            YOu carbophobes love to moan about nutritional deficiencies, but when biotech companies try to genetically engineer crops to produce more nutrition, you go ape.

            Anyway, this particular scare story has been roundly debunked, although you won’t admit that because deep down you want it to be true.

            Actual studies have not found evidence that the overall nutritional value of crops is reduced by the improved plant productivity from CO2 fertilization. Rather, they’ve found that when crops are grown in iron-poor or zinc-poor soil, the larger yields may contain lower levels (though not lower overall quantities!) of those micro-nutrients.

            As it happens, dietary shortages of those micro-nutrients are easily resolved through either fertilization or very inexpensive nutritional supplementation. In the case of iron, it can be as simple as cooking in cast-iron pots. Not that having less iron in the diet is necessarily a bad thing, There is a theory that excess iron “rusts” our bodies and the reason why women live on average 5 to 10 years longer than men is because menstruation is a great way for the body to shed some of the excess!

            You and I get more than enough nutrition as we are discerning people who grow a lot of our own food and eat intelligently. But, as I expect you’ll agree, most people eating industrially processed foods are nutritionally deficient already, due to the fact that many crops are grown in mineral depleted soil, and to losses of vitamins and minerals during cooking and processing.

            Many diseases modern people suffer from including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and strokes are partly the result of chronic malnutrition. And you know what? A lot of people don’t give a tinker’s curse. They just wanna keep dunking the donuts. They are addicted to junk.

            Many of us are eating ourselves towards an early grave, which is a patriotic thing to do because it helps limit social security payments.

        • ”boosts resources available for the economy”

          hmmmm

          i can’t wait for the Antarctic to turn into prairie

          that will really give the economy of the world a boost—all that green.

          just for the record, humankind exists within an economic system that is itself supported/controlled by the environment that overlays it all.

          hot/cold/wet/dry and so on

          we evolved to become what we are on that rule—law of nature if you like.
          we didn’t have the means to go beyond that until we invented the steam engine.
          Now we have convinced ourselves that we do have the means,—it suits our purpose to be told that our resources are infinite, and to believe that.

          only in the last 200 years or less have we considered ourselves immune from that law and decided to step outside its boundaries

          It has been so easy to believe that our ”economy” has been what we have created for ourselves. That we had the right to consider the world as ‘property” and buy and sell it as we pleased.

          When the reality is that our ”economy” has been what nature has allowed us to have. Our economy” is only what the planet has allowed us to have. The world does not ‘belong’ to anyone. We cannot shape our environment to make it into our economy.
          That is a mirage.

          Yet our ‘economic system’ has been entirely based on that buying and selling. So we believe it to be real.
          All desperate people believe in mirages.

          The result of which has been that the richest marketplace now has a self styled ex bankrupt salesman in charge of it, someone who doesn’t actually know he’s running a ponzi scheme, and whose chief economic advisor is his tailor—who constantly offers reassurance that his clothes fit perfectly, as do the sycophants gathered around him.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Well, politics is opinions, opinions and more opinions. You have written this clear and passionate vision of what we believe our “economy” to be and what it is in “reality”. And this view may be valid within certain limits, but it isn’t “the” reality”, it’s just your opinion. I have talked to a dozen people with strong and passionate views on the same subject this last year and they have given me a dozen different persuasive yet mutually incompatible visions.

            Perhaps you are just describing a mirage that you believe to be true? On the other hand, perhaps I should give you some poetic license and applaud the spirit of what you are saying and not attempt to pick holes in it.

            But it isn’t all Trump’s fault. It can’t be all Trump’s fault. Which is how you relate the story. The richest market has long been a Ponzi scheme, selling the dream to generation after generation and hooking them with consumerism, making them unkeepable promises, and saddling them with unpayable debt. Trump only took over in 2017. Was all well in The Soap Opera States until he redecorated the Oval Office?

            i can’t wait for the Antarctic to turn into prairie

            I’m afraid you’ll have to, Norman. Barring the sun going nova or a major asteroid hitting the earth, most of the Antarctic is going to be permanently frozen for the next ten million years. The temperatures at the South Pole in January (midsummer) averages −25.9 °C (−15 °F) and in July (midwinter) midwinter, the average temperature is around −60 °C (−76 °F).

            I’m sure you were only joking with that remark, but anyone who really think the Antarctic is going to warm up enough to turn into anything other than penguin colonies has probably been paying too little attention to basic physics or been watching too many David Attenborough documentaries. “And so, another summer comes to Antarctica. The penguins go fishing. The orcas go fishing. And the baleen whales go feasting on krill…..”

            https://www.bbcearth.com/video/?v=413235

            • I must certainly brush up my irony technique with the Antarctic line. Maybe not so much with the green Arctic though?

              However, feel free to correct any point I make below which is seriously wrong—–

              I said our ponzi scheme is now being run by a bankrupt ex salesman. He certainly is the symptom, not the cause. I specifically did not say he started it. It has been building for 200 years.
              It is faltering now, and most people don’t know why.

              As to “the economy”—we are all entitled to opinions on what it appears to be—it is after all abstract in context.

              Feel free to correct my definition of “the economy”:

              if we examine that which pays our wages, delivers food/water, keeps us warm/cool, supplies the gizmos that we find necessary for day to day living, the collective term for it can only be our ‘economic system’.
              It is that because it is the basis of trade and monetary exchange.

              It has grown and expanded because it was in our short term interests that it should.

              We might call it after one of Saturn’s moons, but that wouldn’t change what it is.

              A herd of buffalo doesn’t have an ‘economic system’–they eat, procreate and die. They have no concept of past or future and do not bury their dead

              We used to be that way—but after we became able to grow our own food instead of chasing it we started to create ‘economic systems’. No doubt the Sumerians used a different word—but whatever it was meant the same thing.

              A food enclosure needs workers, guards, counters, priests, rulers, barter/money and a (most important) concept of ‘exchangeable value’—ie–it becomes an economic system.
              Labour acquires abstract value, just as the economy is an abstract concept.

              People skills are reflected in the above jobs….the best counters acquire the most money, and so control ”the economy” ….. They still do.

              Our economic system came in existence through the benevolence of the planet we live on, which was fine as long as we didn’t abuse the privelege.

              But we decided to tear the planet apart, and set fire to it, in order to force ”the economy” to expand. Which on a finite planet is ultimately impossible.
              (Hence the mirage bit)

              We had to do that, because constant expansion made more and more people get born. They demanded food and jobs–which forced a faster ”economic system”—ad infinitum.

              Maybe you can pick holes in it—I’ve not yet had the call from Sweden to collect my Nobel prize in economics.
              But if you do, make sure they are holes which won’t trap your poking fingers. What I have described appears to be the reality of our economic system, stripped of all the flummery of modern living. I doubt if many other opinions have done that?

              Feel free to point out where I’m wrong. I’m not precious about it.

    • This is the same nonsense report that comes up with huge costs of pollution caused by fossil fuels, and then claims that because countries don’t cause for the pollution, they are providing a subsidy.

      It doesn’t look at the benefit: It is because of fossil fuels, world population has been able to reach 7.7 billion. Even slowing the growth of our consumption of fossil fuels is likely to adversely affect the world economy. Trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption will simply collapse the financial system and governments. We will experience a huge drop in the 7.7 billion world population. It may even be an extinction event; we don’t know.

      Humans lived through ice ages, so I am not certain that warmer climate would be something that could not be handled, with a much smaller population. The remaining population would move to parts of the world with more hospitable climates, I expect.

  17. Emirates airline profits tumble on higher fuel & and stalled passenger growth.

    There is also a secondary story in this article titled Unrelenting headwinds of rising oil prices.

    https://australianaviation.com.au/2019/05/emirates-airline-profit-tumbles-on-higher-fuel-stalled-passenger-growth/

    • Thanks for the link to the story. I imagine that there are quite a few versions of this story playing out in various parts of the world. Not too many have gone bankrupt yet, but they are cutting back their airline orders.

      • Rodster says:

        “Not too many have gone bankrupt yet, but they are cutting back their airline orders.”

        Which isn’t good news for Boeing and Airbus orders. China is also ramping up their commercial Aviation business to compete with Boeing and Airbus.

  18. SuperTramp says:

    Happy Mother’s Day, Gail, 🤶 and to all other readers here! Please take a day for yourself and enjoy your Family, loved ones, sunshine and what is beautiful and good in our World👼

    • Thanks! I talked to my daughter in the Boston area on the phone this afternoon. My two sons fixed a nice dinner tonight. I called one of my sisters on the phone this afternoon. (My own mother is no longer alive. She died a couple of years ago.)

  19. SuperTramp says:

    NOT BAU…the End is Near….
    “This is not business as usual. This is the first time in the 90 year history of that structure that we’ve opened it twice in one year,” he said. “So based on the weather conditions that existed here today and the excessive heavy rain that we experienced, we had no choice but to open the spillway today.”
    In Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Friday for only the 14th time since it was built in 1927. The spillway, located about 12 miles west of New Orleans, allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.
    Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser said this has been the wettest period in 124 years, WAFB reports. ”

    Houston braces for more flooding; Louisiana declares state of emergency
    Doug Stanglin
    USA TODAYMay 11, 2019, 9:52 AM EDT
    After a one-day break from heavy rain, water-logged Houston braced for another round of precipitation Saturday from a lingering storm system along the western Gulf of Mexico.
    The storm also has prompted Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency because of the severe weather.
    Houston, which sits just above sea level, has faced several days of heavy rains on extremely saturated ground.

    We’ve only just begun to feel CC…more to come down the pipeline….it’s a promise, a sure thing.
    Physics says so….

    • History shows that the climate has changed a lot in the past, also. It rarely stays stable.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        Yep–
        But homo sapiens have never lived in an environment with Co2 of 410+, or have the other great apes.
        We are in a new, never before experienced, world.
        Probably an extinction event.

        • This may indeed be an extinction event. As long as we understand that there is fundamentally nothing we can do about the situation, except do our best to put it off a bit, that is OK. Spending our time talking about false “solutions” is just plain silly. Carbon taxes, for example, are fundamentally counterproductive. Buying carbon credits to offset carbon emission seem to be somewhat worse than useless as well. Wind and solar with needed battery storage do not provide any energy savings; they just are an extraordinarily expensive source of electricity that is not even very sustainable.

          We try to endow humans with far more control over how the entire world ecosystem works than we really have. It is the laws of physics that are in charge. We are simply actors, responding to the way the forces of physics are pushing us.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Nope-
          I think you watch too much CNN. And indeed, any CNN at all is too much.
          Many of us have breathed CO2 in environments with much higher levels than exist outside your window today. Think of coal mines, submarines, strawberry and tomato greenhouses, underground railway carriages, and even outdoor areas with high naturally occurring levels.
          An increasing atmospheric CO2 level to double or even triple its current level—if that were to happen—would have no significant effect on the climate or sea level and be totally benign and beneficial to apes great and small.

          Now, if you really must worry about the air, you could do worse than turn your attention to the PM2 levels. How the Chinese can possibly survive being under the Great East Asian Brown Cloud for so much of the year I will never understand. Here’s today’s forecast.

          https://static.tenki.jp/static-images/pm25/27/japan-detail/large.jpg

          • richard b says:

            Apparently at 1000 ppm the cognitive ability of humans drops by 20%.

            So much for CO2 being beneficial to great apes. Not to mention the destruction of the entire ecosystem we need to sustain life.

            Nothing beneficial here

            • TIm Groves says:

              Not so, we are happy and unimpaired breathing up to 5000 ppm, perhaps more.
              Quite a lot of research has been carried out on this and there have been conflicting results, probably because this issue is political.

              For instance, lLast year Rodeheffer, Chabal, Clarke, and Fothergill published a paper on their research in which they could find no differences in the SMS cognitive function test results for submarine crews even with acute CO2 exposures more than an order of magnitude greater than those used in previous studies that demonstrated such effects.

              METHODS:
              Using a subject-blinded balanced design, 36 submarine-qualified sailors were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 3 CO2 exposure conditions (600, 2500, or 15,000 ppm). After a 45-min atmospheric acclimation period, participants completed an 80-min computer-administered SMS test as a measure of decision making.
              RESULTS:
              There were no significant differences for any of the nine SMS measures of decision making between the CO2 exposure conditions.

              Acute Exposure to Low-to-Moderate Carbon Dioxide Levels and Submariner Decision Making.
              Rodeheffer CD, Chabal S, Clarke JM, Fothergill DM.

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29789085

            • TIm Groves says:

              I’m not a medical specialist, but I understand that an atmosphere of approx.10% CO2 is about the limit for human breathing.

              For the arithmetically challenged, that’s 100,000ppm! Then blood acidity/carbonate problems cause loss of consciousness, leading possibly to death.

              We usually breathe out about 40,000ppm and that breath has been used countless times to save lives in mouth to mouth resuscitation.

              If you don’t like these facts, don’t blame me. Blame the laws of physics, chemistry and biology!

              And by the way, it is lamentable that so many of the commentators here resort to wild exaggeration and hyperbole about this issue. Richard’s “destruction of the entire ecosystem we need to sustain life” being a case in point. But Duncan and Norman are offenders too in playing this infantile game of who can make the scariest or most outlandish BS claims.

              Shame on you!

              https://youtu.be/RnQ4OYvbulI

            • Jan Steinman says:

              Nothing beneficial here

              Some people’s beliefs are more important to them than reality.

              I avoid engaging such people, but can’t always restrain myself. 🙂

    • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

      “In Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Friday for only the 14th time since it was built in 1927. The spillway, located about 12 miles west of New Orleans, allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.”

      why was it built in 1927?

      why were all the levees built around New Orleans?

      because New Orleans was constantly being flooded throughout its early history!!!!!!!

      apparently many humans are fairly cluelesss and think they can defeat the weather…

      then there’s this real beauty:

      “Houston, which sits just above sea level…”

      so… does anyone see a pattern here?

      • We also think we can build more and more stuff on flood plains. The Federal Government, with its subsidized flood insurance program, has encouraged this behavior.

        We have been kidding ourselves for a long time. It could only be a matter of time until our excess building and excess attempts to control the water could come together to create a problem, essentially of our own making.

    • Someone sent me a link to this video presented in August 2018. Patrick Moore doesn’t see CO2 as a huge risk.

  20. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    more Bezos:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/05/jeff-bezos-moon-nasa/589150/

    here’s a quote that is actually not nonnsense:

    “In the vision he laid out, Bezos went beyond the moon. Earth’s resources, he warned, are finite. Someday they will be depleted, and…”

    but wait, there’s more!

    “In the vision he laid out, Bezos went beyond the moon. Earth’s resources, he warned, are finite. Someday they will be depleted, and humankind will be forced to look for other homes. “Space is the only way to go,” he said.

    “… human beings should build habitats in orbit around Earth, perpetually rotating to produce artificial gravity, a concept popularized in the 1970s by the American physicist Gerard O’Neill. These manufactured worlds, Bezos said, could each house 1 million people or more. Some habitats would be cities, others national parks. Some might even re-create famous places on Earth. All, according to the animations Bezos shared, would be idyllic, with perfect weather all year round.

    “People are going to want to live here,” he said.

    he’s a genius…

    a genius!!!!!!!

    • People have good imaginations.

    • TrevorC says:

      Maybe for the 1%!

    • Rodster says:

      So according to Bezos, let’s just screw up another planet because we’ve made a mess of ours.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Well, there are a lot of planets in the universe, perhaps what is happening to the earth is part of the laws of physics. Earth has changed, the sun has changed and is changing, our nickel around Sudbury came from an asteroid that apparently dropped on to the earth with probably some disruptions to BAU.

        Bezos understands the resource issues, he is acting on those issues; that is not all bad.

        Dennis L.

        • Bezos had the bright idea of creating a marketing system that, by chance expanded to become the biggest in the world.

          That does not—repeat not, make him the ultimate superbrain that is going to save to world from the screw up of which we are all in some way guilty.

          If Bezos is acting on resources issues, he is doing it out of misguided self interest.

          David above says it all. There are no other places for humankind to go. This is our one shot chance.

          blowing $1bn a year on rockets might make him feel good, but what he is in fact doing is taking the profit he made in minute amounts from millions of people and setting fire to it.

          As is Musk

          At least Gates is trying to use his billions for the common good, not in childlike fireworks.

          You might find an asteroid made of solid gold/coal/iron, but that will not help our earth resource problem. There are no ”usable resources” out there. We know the elemental table. There are very few free elements that are any use to us.
          And They are too far away .

          Does anyone seriously anticipate finding a nice friendly planet (empty) ready and waiting to be infested by human beings?

          • Dennis L. says:

            All good points.
            We don’t understand as much as we might think: quantum entanglement comes to mind.
            One shot chance, dinosaurs probably were of the same opinion.
            Common good, Green revolution in the 1960′;s has been hailed by some as a marvelous achievement which lead to the captia increase problem, which lead to the increase in emissions problem which lead to the…. You get the idea. “The technologies in cultivation are targeted at providing excellent growing conditions, which included modern irrigation projects, pesticides, and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. ” Wikipedia. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for this, now overcrowding is leading to the largest mass migrations in the history of mankind.
            Sometimes good intentions lead to unanticipated and difficult to deal with consequences.
            Bezos may import hydrocarbons from Saturn’s moons, but then in 400 years the earth’s surface is at 200 plus degrees F which makes it somewhat difficult to grow rice, und so weiter.
            Something is going to give, probably the capita which leads to debt problems and for us old folks the ultimate problem, SS and difficulty sending us our monthly stipend. Between the stipend loss, rising sea levels and increasing temperatures from burning Titan’s hydrocarbons how is a sunbird supposed to get by? Now, things are getting serious and it is time to get out and vote for change you can believe in. We old folks are becoming the majority and if enough of us band together and vote the will of the people will solve all our problems.
            Not such a difficult problem, solved it all in a few paragraphs.
            I look forward to more input on this matter.

            Dennis L.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Bezos may import hydrocarbons from Saturn’s moons”

              Not likely. Burning methane produces 55.5 MJ/kg. Moving a kg from Saturn orbit to earth orbit takes about 2.2 times as much energy as you can get from it. It would be worse if you include getting it off Titan.

              If you want to check my math, a Hohmann transfer orbit calculator Earth to Saturn (or reverse) gives a delta V of ~15.7 km/s.

              Ke = 1/2mV^2 or about 123 MJ/kg.

              Losing proposition fer sure.

          • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

            “At least Gates is trying to use his billions for the common good, not in childlike fireworks.”

            he is probably doing more to increase the human population than any other billionaire out there…

            is eradicating disease and decreasing premature death really “for the common good”?

            I’m not sure it is…

            • you are of course quite right

              but taken to the obvious and logical conclusion they are thoughts one doesn’t care to imagine.

              if we stand back and allow diseases to sweep Africa clean, then eventually those diseases will sweep clean other nations who thought themselves immune because “we” have the means to prevent them affecting us.

              But of course our “means” is entirely dependent on accessibility to fossil fuel energy resources with which to hold off infections.,

              When our fossil fuel defences collapse, then bugs will reassert their rightful place as dominant species, while humankind reverts to its traditional means of dealing with plagues, (prayer)

            • I have had exactly the same thought.

      • SomeoneInAsia says:

        I believe it was C S Lewis who said somewhere that ‘The vast distances between the planets could be a form of divine quarantine’.

        • Interesting point!

          • Jan Steinman says:

            C S Lewis who said somewhere that ‘The vast distances between the planets could be a form of divine quarantine’.

            That would explain Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, but then Lewis takes the divine battle back to Earth in That Hideous Strength.

  21. SUPERTRAMP says:

    If the tariffs rise to 25 percent, then we’re done for,” said James, a sales manager for a computer monitor manufacturer in Shenzhen, China’s southern tech hub.

    He declined to give his full name. He said 30% to 40% of his company’s products are exported to the U.S.
    The tariffs have devastated many factories in Chinese coastal regions that serve the U.S. market. Industries such as electronics have seen sales to the U.S. plummet up to 40%. Overall Chinese exports to the U.S. dropped 13% in April from a year earlier
    But sales managers of five Chinese companies that depend heavily on exports to the U.S. told The Associated Press that while they have managed to adjust to current tariff levels with minimal trouble, a jump to a 25% tariff would make doing business with the U.S. virtually impossible for most of them.
    Ah, that’s too bad…balls to the wall..

    • Lastcall says:

      So widespread farm bankruptcies through loss of Chinese markets in the US to be followed by Silicon valley having no silicon to play with?
      Are there going to be tariffs on rare earth imports I wonder?

        • Lastcall says:

          Wow… Aussie Aussie Aussie…have they stepped up or what?
          I guess China rare earths are being replaced in a similar fashion to conventional oil being replaced by North Sea, then North Shelf, and then Shale oil.
          Needs must, but in the absence of unlimited financing, are they viable? I imagine the defense/attack industries in the US will be keeping an eye on this area.

          • There is also an issue of processing the rare earths, once they are pulled out of the ground. My understanding is that (at least at one time), all of the processing capability was in China. So even if someone else extracted the rare earths, they needed to go to China for processing. Geographically, Australia is a lot closer to China than the US. This may have changed. One way or other, we are, or have been, very dependent on China for rare earth minerals.

            • Dennis L. says:

              Gail, again from memory.
              At one time we mined these minerals in CA and found that processing was a very contaminating process with cleanup costs and waste disposal issues the main problem. China has ended up with processing areas becoming virtual deserts, water unfit for any possible use, land contaminated and people becoming very ill. Renewable materials appear to be very environmentally unfriendly.
              Over all it would seem that much of the world has used China as a dumping ground for various wastes secondary to their manufacturing processes and recently China has stopped accepting some(all) materials for “recycling” in China.
              China seemingly has paid a high price for its economic growth in terms of its resource depletion and environmental damage.
              Most of this is from memory so corrections are welcomed.

              Dennis L.

      • Or just not send the rare earths at all?

        • Dennis L. says:

          That is always an issue, resources in the ground have zero value, extracting them seems to require scale, good business practices require steady state utilization of capital to avoid the issue that a 25% reduction in income requires a 33% increase to get back to no net loss – this is used in the Kelly criterion.

          Dennis L.

        • artleads says:

          Could we become more of a repair economy? Lots of employment making what’s here already hang on longer and spread benefits more broadly? I have old computers. I don’t want new ones. I don’t want upgrades. I just don’t want mine to get junked up with all manner of upgrades I don’t need. I don’t want to learn how to be computer savvy. I would pay (and hope billions of computer uses would make a relevant system viable) to have my old computers kept trouble free. There comes a point where enough of certain directions is enough–too many depletions, for one thing–, and some slight alteration in direction makes sense.

          • Other people keep making fancier software, including video games.

            If you can stay away from the fancy software, maybe the old computers would do. I know that some churches use old donated computerist handle some functions, perhaps with the heating/cooling system and other systems that are somewhat automated.

            • artleads says:

              Seems like a lot of the problem is that those “other people” aren’t told clearly what’s the plan. Of course, they need to commit to it, but they won’t unless there’s a lot of discussion and consensus building about what needs and needs not to be done. Individualism won’t work.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      “But sales managers of five Chinese companies that depend heavily on exports to the U.S. told The Associated Press that while they have managed to adjust to current tariff levels with minimal trouble, a jump to a 25% tariff would make doing business with the U.S. virtually impossible for most of them.”

      Based on ideas of capitalism, other businesses presumably better located to avoid tariffs, should pick up the slack. And isn’t that part of why the tariffs are being imposed in the first place (without really saying so) to transfer some manuf. back to the US?

      • The point of tariffs is to bring manufacturing back to the country putting on those tariffs.

        Of course, now that the world economy is so networked, and manufacturing needs such a wide range of imported raw material, it is not clear that tariffs will work. They will likely cause the collapse of some economies that are already near the edge. World trade is likely to slow significantly. Economic growth worldwide will slow, causing debt defaults in many parts of the world.

  22. Rodster says:

    Here’s an EXCELLENT new article from Nafeez Ahmed in which he lays out and goes into great detail why we are essentially F#@%ed or as Dennis Meadows goes on to say. “there is nothing we can do”. Then the last three paragraphs in Ahmed’s article turns into gibberish and call for a new paradigm change which is NEVER going to happen.

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/escaping-extinction-through-paradigm-shift-83e33d4cb548

    • Chrome Mags says:

      I agree, no paradigm shift happening. People won’t voluntarily change their ways. Only through crisis after people have been harshly humbled, do they begin to wrestle with the idea of change. Also, with billions having accepted our current bau, the sheep must follow.

      • Rodster says:

        “Only through crisis after people have been harshly humbled, do they begin to wrestle with the idea of change.”

        And by that time it will be too late, it already is !

    • Lastcall says:

      Another caption where the trees have gone and despair moves on in….

    • doomphd says:

      “It is no wonder that following the inspirational lead of Greta Thunberg, some have seen little option except to take to the streets through protest movements like Extinction Rebellion. The hope is that sustained nonviolent resistance can compel governments to take the urgent action necessary to transition rapidly to fossil fuel free societies.”

      the last sentence above gives the author away as delusional.

      • doomphd says:

        “This is the conversation we need to begin having, from our boardrooms, to our governing councils — for those of us who have woken up to what is at stake, the real question is, how can I actually mobilise to build the new paradigm?”

        what this simpleton doesn’t state is for the “new paradigm” to be created, lots and lots of the “old growth paradigm” folks will have to volunteer to die, so there will be enough non-carbon based energy resources to go around. a nice exposition of pure bullshit.

        • Rodster says:

          Nafeez Ahmed is a smart guy who understands how and why we are in the current mess that’s only going to get worse with each passing decade. He’s at seeing the BIG Picture and good at connecting the dots.

          Then he starts on his “HOPIUM” crusade without thinking it through that nothing in our modern way of life is possible without fossil fuels. And nothing going forward is possible without fossil fuels. He just refuses to admit that.

          • Rodster says:

            Typo, meant to say:

            He’s good at seeing the BIG Picture and good at connecting the dots.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            “Then he starts on his “HOPIUM” crusade without thinking it through that nothing in our modern way of life is possible without fossil fuels.”

            Do you have a pointer to where he is talking about this?

            I happen to think that fossil fuels *can* be replaced with a large enough and cheap enough primary energy source.

            Of course, that will eventually cause other problems.

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

              pointer:

              “When are we are going to realise that They are Us?” (sic… his typo)…

              and the last 6 paragraphs after that sentence…

              to me, he’s saying that all “we” need to do is change human nature…

              h a h a h a h a h a…

              he nails much of the current predicament, then (as it seems he always does in his rants) he veers into hopium…

              in this case, it’s the “change human nature” hopium…

              different from the “space solar” hopium that you seem to favor…

            • doomphd says:

              “Of course, that will eventually cause other problems.”

              You will run up against heat limits, as in too much waste heat (see Dennis Murphy). That will also affect any fusion solutions. As long as humans continue to try maintaining or even growing the unsustainable, other limits to energy will apply. Only human die-off, voluntary or not, will stop the madness.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              David, it looks like the pointer didn’t paste.

        • Xabier says:

          If Ahmed – or anyone else – were to write a candid assessment of our predicament with a realistic, ie pessimistic, conclusion there would be little reason for him to write anything else ever again: it would be a definitive statement of Doom.

          Therefore, to be published, make a living, pose as a serious thinker about the future, engage in think-tank busy-bodying, he has to end on an upbeat, however unconvincing. And so in comes out friend, New Paradigm……

          I find Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World Revisited’ far more honest and relevant, for all that it was published in 1959: it does not end on an upbeat, and that gives the measure of Huxley’s immense intellect and honesty. (The passages on techno-totalitarianism, the over-population problem, the eventual economic non-viability of global resource extraction to maintain industrial civilization, on mass brain-washing, the environmental disaster of extending industrial civilization to Asia and Africa, and the pernicious effects of technology on human behaviour,etc, are well worth taking a look at., more so than the novel which was more limited in scope as a work of art.)

          • The peak oilers started out with an idea about how we get energy products out that has nothing to do with affordability. Instead, it has to do with our technical expertise and how much is in the ground. They also imagined more and more efficient use would somehow help, without looking at Jevons’ paradox and the historical impact of greater efficiency.

            Their false ideas were also helped by focusing on what they calculated as EROEI’s of fuels, rather than the “return on human labor.” The return on human labor is closely related to the per capita energy available to society (perhaps netted out by the energy to get that energy). It is a total per capita quantity measure that is important.

            Without understanding how the system works, it is easy to write post that focus on making readers happy. These conclusions also tie in with what quite a few peak oilers have said. If a person doesn’t know or care about the financial system, and hasn’t looked at the fact that high energy prices do not translate to high wages, the person can come to some very wrong conclusions.

          • doomphd says:

            i recall becoming depressed after reading Huxley, back in the early 1970s. in many ways, he’s more of an eye opener than Orwell, whom I greatly admire for his honest, insightful views. for me, at that age, it was easy to become immersed in the chase, of paper and money and status. it’s hard to unrealize what he wrote, you just get on with the day-to-day stuff, knowing that it will all end badly at some point, for everyone.

  23. Nehemiah says:

    Helium, a rare element on earth, is getting hard to acquire. It is not just for party balloons, but has multiple use in industry, medicine, and science. Some scientists and industry spokesmen are recommended that its recreational use be prohibited. The canary in the coal mine? Anyone who has never read _Limits to Growth_ (1972) should read it now.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/05/09/helium-shortage-2019-affecting-parties/1158604001/

  24. Harry McGibbs says:

    “President Vladimir Putin watched intercontinental nuclear missile launchers roll across Red Square on Thursday as Russia put on its annual show of military might to mark the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over the Nazis…

    “Battling a ratings slump as Russia grinds through a sixth consecutive year of falling real incomes, Putin looked on as thousands of troops marched past and columns of tanks rumbled across the famous square in a display reminiscent of the Cold War era.”

    https://www.businessinsider.com/putin-battling-ratings-slump-reviews-red-square-military-parade-2019-5?r=US&IR=T

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      Days before the anniversary of the United States’s exit from a 2015 deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear programme, John Bolton, the US national security adviser, issued a stark warning. Citing a number of “troubling and escalatory” indications, Bolton said the US was deploying warships to the Middle East to “send a clear and unmistakable message” that it would meet any Iranian attacks on US interests “with unrelenting force”.

      “For some, the comments also echoed the war rhetoric in the US before its invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/game-europe-betrayal-iran-190508204815694.html

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “A chaotic political standoff with international diplomatic implications began unfolding quietly weeks ago on a leafy side street in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, as a group of American activists moved into the five-story Venezuelan Embassy and made themselves at home.

        “They were there, they said, to keep the United States from going to war.”

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/us/venezuela-embassy-protests.html

      • Yoshua says:

        The U.S designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation. The War on Terror continues. ISIS is gone. So who is the next target? IRGC?

        I don’t know.

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          “Iran “took the US behind the woodshed” when Iran sided with Iraq patriots in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then did the same sort of thing in Syria which resulted in the abject US failures in the Middle East.

          Iran has to be punished for its “malign behavior” so the intelligence community and the obedient mainstream media have been tasked to justify the continued US enmity toward Iran.

          But despite its saber rattling the US is militarily powerless against Iran’s missiles, especially when the US has a carrier with 5,000 troops nearby, in addition to the 50,000 US troops spread around Iran at various bases in the Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Also the US stands virtually alone in the world in its behavior. . .no more coalition of the willing.”

  25. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Australia’s central bank sharply downgraded forecasts for growth and inflation on Friday and signalled it will consider lowering interest rates if unemployment does not fall further, a major step towards the first policy easing since 2016… The shift in its stance is largely led by a sharp downturn in the country’s once-booming property market, which is hurting household consumption and income.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-australia-economy-rba/australia-central-bank-cuts-forecasts-again-signals-rate-cuts-idUKKCN1SG047

  26. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The Fed has a big new worry that is not presently on the market’s radar. With all the worries about headline economic data and the trade war, very little attention has been paid to the potential shock equities and bonds may feel from climate change. The Fed, however, is very focused on the risk. The Fed says that c.limate change can have a jarring effect on the economy that may “affect national economic output and employment.””

    https://www.nasdaq.com/article/fed-warns-of-economic-shock-cm1146196

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “There is a perverse and hidden danger from climate change that few people, even those who unquestionably accept the science, know how to deal with. Someday, likely sooner than we think, the destruction that warmer global temperatures are inflicting — through record floods, wildfires, droughts and hurricanes — could physically overwhelm our ability to maintain many communities in their existing form.

      “But by talking openly about this, and taking the necessary steps to address it, communities open the door to another danger. If markets suddenly value the risk of climate change properly, it could lead to a mass withdrawal of investment that kills real estate values, dries up tax revenue and leads to a wider financial crisis.”

      https://ensia.com/features/climate-change-financial-crisis/

      • Communities seem to fail to understand that they are today building too close to the ocean to withstand hurricanes.

        Insurance companies have been unhappy with the tendency to build right in the paths of storms, but local governments have not wanted to let actuaries charge adequate rates for hurricanes in such exposed areas.

        Now someone comes along wanting to offer the idea of telling people that storm/sea levels will get worse in the future, maybe 10 or 20 or 50 years from now. If telling people that they are too close already wouldn’t work, why would a community be inclined to make a change based on what might happen in the future? What change would it make? Would it “buy out” condominium buildings and other buildings that are built in inappropriate areas? Where would they get funds to do this?

        Somehow, I don’t think the person with this story has thought things through.

    • Talking about climate change is a great way to hide problems with inadequate energy supply.

  27. Harry McGibbs says:

    “President Donald Trump on Friday more than doubled the tariff rate on roughly $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, a move that sets the stage for retaliation from Beijing and that significantly raises the stakes in a yearlong trade war between the world’s largest economies…

    “Officials at the Chinese Commerce Ministry — who have denied that they made reversals on major aspects of a draft trade agreement — vowed on Wednesday to take countermeasures against increased tariff rates… The escalation comes just as officials were thought to be nearing a deal.”

    https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-china-trade-war-us-raises-tariffs-200-billion-worth-of-goods-25-percent-2019-5?r=US&IR=T

  28. Extintores says:

    It is true, the demand of travelers begins to fall. Great news.

    • Look at the paragraph I linked to. The big decreases were in India and China. Indian aviation had been expanding at an absurd rate (20%), and the big drop came because of bankruptcy of a large carrier. Higher oil prices were part of its problems. China with its problems is also experiencing slower growth.

      • David Liontooth says:

        People tend to attribute success to their own efforts. When per-capita energy consumption rises, people magically find their lives improving, and tend to think of it as a result of good decisions they made, or skill, or luck. The systemic forces act in ways that are reinterpreted as local causes.

        When per-capita consumption falls, people tend to blame others for their misfortunes, or secretly begin to lose self-confidence and blame themselves.

        Gail presented several graphs of per capita fuel consumption in the April 9 post, but not for the US. I’ve tried to find this information, but apparently nobody is tracking this vital statistic. I found https://www.autonews.com/article/20150325/OEM06/150329911/average-u-s-gasoline-usage-lowest-in-3-decades-study-says by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, but I’m not finding the actual article on their site, and Sivak appears to have retired. Do you have a source?

        Cheers, David

        • This is a recent article by Michael Sivak on a similar subject.

          https://www.greencarcongress.com/2019/02/20190205-sivak.html

          This is a link to the image he shows which is labeled, “This chart below shows the distance-driven rates per person and per household.”

          https://bioage.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef022ad3debbe5200b-500wi

          This is a link to a page about Michael Sivak, Ph. D. at the University of Michigan. He now seems to be appointed to the Transportation Research Institute, which seems to be affiliated with the Univ. of Michigan. Universities have been known to move around or eliminate pages over time.

          • David Liontooth says:

            Thank you! Great graph, exactly what I was looking for. I see Sivak retired from UMich (emeritus status) and now runs https://www.sivakappliedresearch.com.

            Are you aware of total per capita energy consumption figures over time for the US? It seems this is really the most relevant “peak oil” measure — not the total production numbers.

            It would also be interesting to see the “Gini coefficient” of energy consumption — for a couple of decades, per capita energy consumption in the US was likely rising for the top 10% and declining for the bottom 90%. This would mean that non-elites experienced diminishing returns while elites still enjoyed increased productivity.

            A chunk of that productivity stems from the elite’s more successful use of computers, a significant source of power consumption. Arguably, computers has facilitated an increase in the Gini coefficient of energy use, since it takes capital and expertise to gain access to them, and they do massive amounts of work for you. Robotics of course, but also Google’s and Facebook’s data mining has created vast wealth for a tiny number of people.

            • I am glad you liked the chart of US vehicle miles traveled per person and per household. If more people are working from home, or flying by plane, this amount could fall. This is just a small piece of world per capita energy consumption, because energy is used for far more than driving cars and trucks.

              I think it is really per capita energy consumption for the world that matters, rather than the US. It keeps inching up, except (1) during the 2008-2009 recession, (2) after the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991, and (3) during the big recession that followed the US raising interest rates to 18% in 1981. All of these were times of low oil prices.

              I am guessing that 2019 could be the year that energy consumption per capita starts turning down, with the cutbacks by OPEC in oil production, because prices are too low. If not 2019, it could be 2020.

              Prior to the 2008-2009 recession, the US was early to start its cutback in fuel use, because it was buying high-priced oil from around the world. This time, the first cutbacks have already begun in some other parts of the world. Oil exporters are feeling the squeeze, because prices are too low for them. Europe has been feeling the squeeze, because it is trying to rely increasing on renewables, and that isn’t really working. China has been feeling the squeeze, because its coal production is down from its 2013 peak.

  29. Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

    it’s Theater of the Absurdd:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/09/jeff-bezos-unveils-blue-moon-lunar-lander.html

    so many ridiculuus quotes to choose from…

    highlights:

    “We were given a gift — this nearby body called the moon,” Bezos said. He added that the moon is a good place to begin manufacturing in space due to its lower gravity than the Earth.”

    “It’s time to go back to the moon and this time stay,” Bezos said.

    “Bezos offered only few details two years ago about Blue Origin’s lunar ambitions. In a program the company called “Blue Moon,” it would send a couple tons of cargo to the surface of the moon, to begin building the infrastructure of a lunar base.”

    “Bezos’ ultimate ambition is to help humanity expand across the solar system, with a human population of more than a trillion living and working in space.”

    yes, we can do this!!!!!!!

      • Lastcall says:

        Well, this should be interesting…..
        ‘Daytime on one side of the moon lasts about 13 and a half days, followed by 13 and a half nights of darkness. When sunlight hits the moon’s surface, the temperature can reach 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius). When the sun goes down, temperatures can dip to minus 280 F (minus 173 C).’
        Alternately freeze dried then dehydrated. Maybe send up one of those Boring machines and start with underground lodgings?

        • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

          he wants to land at the moon’s south pole…

          genius!!!!!!!

          • Lastcall says:

            ‘Cinderella’s’ not too hot and not too cold huh?
            Hopefully the radiation is merely good for a suntan there and not a TV dinner.

            ‘The surface of the Moon is baldly exposed to cosmic rays and solar flares, and some of that radiation is very hard to stop with shielding. … All this radiation penetrating human flesh can damage DNA, boosting the risk of cancer and other maladies.’

            Wow I am such a cynic huh!

            • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

              “It’s time to go back to the moon and this time stay,” Bezos said.

              he will build the Bezos Cancer Center…

              he will not be stopped!

              he brushes cynics aside with elegant deftness…

              onward, humans, to the stars!

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        I see the bad moon rising
        I see trouble on the way
        I see earthquakes and lightnin’
        I see bad times today

        Don’t go around tonight
        Well, it’s bound to take your life
        There’s a bathroom on the right

        • Duncan Idaho says:

          “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids both rich & poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, & to steal bread.”

          — Anatole France

      • SUPERTRAMP says:

        Am I seeing a resemblance here with this fellow?
        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VibTL36LLUk

        Just a coincidence? I doubt it!

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=52l75U2y74c

        Boy, are we in trouble

    • JMS says:

      Well, isn’t the moon the ultimate bugout place? Who knows if Bezos isn’t a prepper in disguise!

    • Nehemiah says:

      Has Elon Musk been sharing his stash with Jeff Bezos?

    • Robert Firth says:

      Arthur C Clarke: “A Fall of Moondust”, 1961.

      A science fiction classic, which Bezos’ nonsense will not be.

  30. Chrome Mags says:

    https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Iraq-Close-To-Signing-Mega-53-Billion-Oil-Deal.html

    “Iraq will soon finalize a large-scale, long-term deal for the development of oil fields in the South with Exxon and PetroChina. The 30-year contract will involve investments of US$53 billion and potential returns for Baghdad of as much as US$400 billion over its lifetime, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told media this week.

    The deal has been in the making for four years and will involve the development of two oil fields in southern Iraq—Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi—and the construction of water supply infrastructure to southern fields in order to keep their production steady. As a result of the project, the combined production of Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi should hit half a million barrels of oil daily, from 125,000 bpd today.”

    • aaaa says:

      Let’s hope Iraq (and the ME for that matter) is on the way back to a period of peace and prosperity after the absolute disaster of her past 40 years

      • I am afraid we need a higher price of oil for countries of the Middle East to collect enough taxes. That would help a little toward peace and prosperity for them.

  31. Sven Røgeberg says:

    New working paper from IMF:
    «
    This paper provides an updated assessment of global and regional energy subsidies2 based on comprehensive country-level estimates for 191 countries. Coady and others (2015) projected global energy subsidies for 2015 at a striking $5.3 trillion, or 6.5 percent of global GDP, with under-charging for domestic air pollution accounting for about half of the total subsidy and global warming about a quarter.»
    https://www.imf.org/~/media/Files/Publications/WP/2019/WPIEA2019089.ashx
    Or how to speed up the drive of energyproducers into bankruptcy?

    • Everyone has their own fancy way of counting up the bad issues within the system. Of course, when it comes to the positive issue, that of allowing the current world population to live at its current standard of living, this gets completely omitted. Somehow it is assumed that we could get along without fossil fuels, or that there are adequate energy substitutes without these characteristics. They even believe that carbon taxes will somehow fix things. It is amazing what academic types can waste their time on. Of course, they have a bunch of their followers believing that this stuff makes sense. If you don’t understand that there is a connection of energy consumption to the economy, perhaps it does.

    • By the way, the people at Heartland Institute have put together their view of what the cost benefit of attempting to reduce fossil fuels to limit CO2 emissions to prevent climate change would be. In fact, they rely on some of my analysis to get to their findings. What they say in the Summary for Policymakers of their “Climate Change Reconsidered” report is as follows:

      http://climatechangereconsidered.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Summary-for-Policymakers-Final.pdf

      The IPCC estimates the cost of unabated climate change to be between 0.2% and 2% of GDP in 2050 (IPCC, 2014a, p. 663) while the models it relies on produce an average estimate of 0.5%. That is the expected benefit of avoiding ~ 2°C of warming by 2050. Since the cost of reducing CO2 emissions by 70% is approximately 21% of projected GDP that year, the cost-benefit ratio is 42:1 (21 / 0.5). In other words, reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions enough to avoid a 2°C warming by 2050 would cost 42 times as much as the benefits. The estimate by Tverberg (2012) taking into account the physical limits that prevent alternative energy sources from completely replacing fossil fuels produces an alarming cost-benefit ratio of 162:1 (81 / 0.5).

      These are links to the two chapters in which my work is referenced:

      http://climatechangereconsidered.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/3-Human-Prosperity-final.pdf

      http://climatechangereconsidered.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/8-Cost-Benefit-Analysis-final.pdf

      They sent me links because they had referenced my work. Most economists assume that there is virtually no connection between GDP growth and energy consumption, so they end up with the absurd results we find in IMF working papers.

      • TIm Groves says:

        The high priests and zealots of the Church of Climatocracy will be after you now, ordering you to recant your heresy and repent your collusion with the denialist Heartland Institute, which as we all know from the gasoline smell that oozes from their reports is in league with the Big Oil Devil.

        And if you don’t confess and comply they will give you the same wicked witch treatment that they gave Judith Curry.

        http://blog.eternalvigilance.me/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/BatWitch04-Big.jpg

        • Lastcall says:

          I dare you to oppose correct thinking!!

          “The ten-year social engineering effort also led to a transition from environmentalism into full-blown yet undetected anthropocentrism. Over a ten year span, “environmentalism ” moved from that of protecting nature, to demanding a roll-out of green technology, industrial in scale, that would further plunder nature. The natural world became irrelevant as the desire for green technology superceded environmental protection. Wind turbines and solar panels replaced images of trees and insects as the new symbols of our natural world. Saving the industrial civilization that is killing off all life became paramount to saving the ecosystems that all life depends on. These ideologies slowly took hold until “movements” become nothing more than lobby groups for green energy. Volunteers marching for capital, global in scale. To suggest that Edward Bernays would be impressed would be an understatement. Such is the beauty of social engineering and behavioural change.”

          http://www.feasta.org/2019/05/06/greta-thunberg-pr-and-the-climate-emergency/

        • Could be. They sent me information on the fact that they had cited my material after their report had been published.

          We both believe that energy consumption cannot be divorced from GDP growth.

  32. Yoshua says:

    “China’s Passenger Car Association:
    China’s passenger car sales slipped 18% y/y in April; wholesales of passenger vehicles fell 22% y/y.”

    Chinese auto sales have fallen for 9 straight months now.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Dow 30
      25,658.80
      -308.53(-1.19%)

      With Trump’s China tariff’s , this could be interesting.
      One must remember this person has been bankrupt 6 times.

      • We must remember that there are not enough resources to go around.

        I saw something this morning saying that Toyota plans to do more investment in the US to get around the tariffs. I am sure that this is the effect Trump is looking for. Also, the dollar rises higher relative to other currencies, pushing the relative cost of resources lower for the US relative to other countries.

      • Chrome Mags says:

        I had to stop tuning into political news because I felt like the situation with trump is so toxic it was making me feel sick. I’ve felt much better since.

  33. Harry McGibbs says:

    “…many local economies throughout Europe are in a state of prolonged stagnation, rendering them an ideal hunting ground for populists, according to a report from ING senior economists Bert Colijn and Joanna Konings. Employment levels within the European Union are now 2% above where they were in 2008, but some regions have not seen this recovery, and have yet to show signs of bottoming out.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/09/these-european-regions-havent-recovered-from-the-financial-crisis-now-populist-breeding-ground.html

  34. Harry McGibbs says:

    “For decades, debt collectors have relied on a limited set of communication tools: landlines and the US mail…

    “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday proposed rules that would give the industry the go-ahead to send consumers unlimited amounts of texts and emails, accelerating a trend the watchdog bureau says could be beneficial for everyone.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-administration-debt-collectors-text-email-a8904046.html

  35. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The U.S. Treasury on Wednesday saw the weakest demand for its benchmark 10-year note in a decade, illustrating the diminishing appetite among some investors to accept current yields. Bids for the $27 billion of notes exceeded the offering by 2.17 times, the lowest since 2009.

    “While there’s no danger that the government of the world’s biggest economy would fail to fund itself, the drop underscores a shift in demand dynamics for Treasuries that could leave them vulnerable to spikes in volatility.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-08/low-yield-bad-seasonals-and-trade-trip-up-u-s-10-year-auction

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “To illustrate how a peg could work [in combating the next financial crisis], suppose that the overnight interest rate were at zero and the two-year Treasury rate were at 2 percent. The Fed could announce that it intends to hold the two-year rate at one percent or less and enforce this ceiling by standing ready to buy any Treasury security maturing up to two years at a price that corresponds to a return of one percent.

      “Since the price of a bond is inversely related to its yield, the Fed would effectively be offering to pay more than the initial market value. Think of it as price support for two-year government debt.”

      https://wolfstreet.com/2019/05/08/fed-launches-interest-rate-peg-instead-of-qe-trial-balloon-for-next-crisis/

      • The Fed needs to be thinking about something that would work, and not just for a short time frame. The advantage of this approach is supposedly that it telegraphs how long the artificially low interest rates are to be held. Unfortunately, short-term interest rate support is not all that helpful.

  36. psile says:

    These guys have a wicked tongue, which they use to good effect, lambasting politicians, which is not too hard these days. Even if their solutions are sometimes off with the fairies (e.g. renewables)

    This clip is about the Carmichael Coal and Rail Project. Once CCRAP, now the Adani mine. Enjoy.

    https://youtu.be/n_C8S4Bz91M

  37. Yoshua says:

    Industry and semiconductor recession.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D18cxo0WoAA3w4D?format=jpg&name=small

    • At some point the last order for PVs and controllers will be made.
      Then no more production from that plant, eventually from anywhere..

    • I found another article about this.

      https://jugglingdynamite.com/2019/03/18/collapsing-demand-for-semiconductors-warns-on-global-economy/
      Plunge in semiconductor sales warns on global economy

      Semiconductors are a critical component of everything that is computerized in modern human life. ECRI’s Achuthan explains that the 20% ‘collapse’ in semi demand to a 10-year low in growth, belies the 21% rebound in the semiconductor stock index year-to-date.

      The collpse in semi-demand over the last year is also a warning sign for US GDP. This chart since 2000 shows the three month moving average of semiconductor sales (dark blue) leading US GDP growth (light blue) by about six months.

      https://i0.wp.com/jugglingdynamite.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Large-drop-in-semi-sales.jpg

      • hkeithhenson says:

        I am not surprised. Eventually every kind of growth flattens out and may well dip for a while.

        I wonder where the energy use per capita will eventually settle?

        • Remember the Limits to Growth model of 1972? This is the way it saw the situation working out.

          https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/1972-base-limits-to-growth-forecast-with-2019-dotted-line.png
          Just looking at it, it looks like it expects populations to drop by 40% or so. Industrial output per capita, food output output per capita, and services per capita drop by even more than 40%.

          The LTG model does not consider the financial system or debt. I would expect population and the output per capita to fall even more than shown in the model.

          I believe that food consumption per capita in the LTG model includes a “quality” adjustment as well. People’s calorie consumption might not fall off as much as shown in the model. What would fall off would be meat. Cheap grains might grow as a share of calories.

          • Sheila chambers says:

            If climate disruption continues to get worse, grain might not stay “cheap”. Flooding in the central states has delayed planting, the fields are either still flooded or so water logged, that their heavy farm equipment would bog down & stall.
            Also temperatures are rising fastest in many off those same central states, that too is not good for wheat farming. Ground water in those central states is also being rapidly depleted & dry farming is far less productive than irrigated farming.
            A still growing population is demanding more food imports but climate disruption is reducing harvests. I see some serious trouble ahead for food importing nations like the UK & in many African & middle eastern countries.

            • Climate does indeed keep changing. It will continue to keep changing, whatever we do. We cannot fix the situation. Perhaps we should have hand-wringing parties.

              If grain supplies are reduced, how this will play out is less than certain. The big issue now is prices that are too low for producers. They really need higher prices. Will prices rise high enough, for long enough, to keep the producers in business? This is the big question. The situation is much like the situation with oil, coal, and natural gas prices. What we think of as “high prices” may still not be high enough to keep producers in business.

  38. hkeithhenson says:

    “A fundamentally inverted worldview: the economist sees the environment as a subsystem of the economy, rather than the other way around. ”

    That really is inverted. But then, I have an engineering background rather than economics.

    If you think back to the stone age, the economy slowly evolved out of the ecology (food) and environment. Some people think the use of metals was partly driven by humans running out of good rocks to chip.

    “In other words, economists are trained to believe that natural resources come from “markets” rather than the “environment”.

    I can sort of see where they come from on this issue. Take timber. Without a doubt it comes from the environment, but without a market for wood, the trees just stand out in the forest.

    “The corollary is that “man-made capital” can substitute for “natural capital”.

    Hmm. A stream is “natural capital.” Is it reasonable to call and irrigation ditch man-made capital?

    “But the First Law of thermodynamics tells us there is no “creation” — there is no such thing as “man-made capital”.

    It doesn’t exactly say that. From Wikipedia:

    “The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed.”

    Presuming the earth is the system we are concerned about, it is not a isolated system. Sunlight pours onto the earth on one side and the whole thing radiates into 2.7 deg K space.

    “Thus, ALL capital is “natural capital”, and the economy is 100% dependent on the “environment” for everything.”

    That’s correct. But the “environment” around earth includes an energy flux of 1.365 kW/m^2. Tapping a small fraction of that flux going by between here and the moon should keep us in energy for a long time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale

    The above URL will give you and idea of how far we have to go.

    • We have to not only capture the solar energy, but we have to have it available when the economy needs it. Sunup to sundown, when it doesn’t happen to by cloudy doesn’t work very well, except if a person is operating desalination plants in Saudi Arabia. It is this problem that seems to be huge obstacle with our current intermittent solar energy, especially in cold, dark areas of the world.

      • Greg Machala says:

        And we have to build, maintain, recycle and dispose of the solar and wind capture infrastructure as well. That all takes additional energy to do. There seems to be this thinking among proponents of “renewable energy” that once these energy capture devices are built, it is all self-sustaining from that point on. That is simply not true.

        • Very definitely true. We also have to deal with all of the batteries as well. Many of these devices are made of polluting materials. Someone (often in China) had to deal with this when they were made. Now these devices are distributed all over the world. There is also the issue of possible recycling of materials.

          When I searched online with respect to battery recycling, I found this site, applicable to the little batteries we see every day. https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/recycling_batteries

          It makes this point:

          Battery recycling is energy intensive. Reports reveal that it takes 6 to 10 times more energy to reclaim metals from some recycled batteries than from mining. The exception is the lead acid battery, from which lead can be extracted easily and reused without elaborate processes. To some extent, nickel from NiMH can also be recovered economically if available in large quantities.

          Also: Due to poor metal retrieval value, Li-ion commands a higher recycling fee than most other battery types. No recycling technology exists today that is capable of producing pure enough lithium for a second use in batteries. [Emphasis added] Lithium for batteries is mined; second hand lithium is used for lubricants, glass, ceramics and other applications.

          • Gregory Machala says:

            It is so ironic that recycling is seen as “green” and it consumes more energy than virgin mining does. And mining is seen as dirty and low tech while it consumes less energy. I have read that about lithium-ion batteries before several years ago. It is a shame.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            Lithium for batteries is mined; second hand lithium is used for lubricants, glass, ceramics and other applications.

            In other words, lithium batteries are not really recycled, they are “down cycled,” such as when you turn soda pop bottles into jacket filling.

            I hold a rather rigorous standard for the term “recycling”: that it re-cycles materials back for their original use.

            You can recycle glass milk bottles back into milk bottles; you cannot recycle plastic milk jugs into anything that can legally contain food.

            And tetra-packs? At best, they are shredded into single-use excelsior for packaging, and at worse, end up in some landfill, even when the consumer sorted them out and believed they were being recycled.

            • Duncan Idaho says:

              Lithium ion was first commercialized by the Japanese in the early 1990’s.
              It has been a while——-

            • TIm Groves says:

              I hold a rather rigorous standard for the term “recycling”: that it re-cycles materials back for their original use.

              Some used food grade plastic can be recycled to make recycled food grade plastic. For example, PET bottles and trays can be hydrolysed down to monomers, which are then purified and then re-polymerised to make new PET.

              Likewise, glass bottles can be recycled to make recycled glass bottles by melting down the glass and using it to form new bottles.

              One advantage of glass containers over plastic ones is that glass containers such as bottles and jars can be reused by being collected and returned to the food or drink manufacturer and then washed. This is happening less and less in present era where more products are shipped internationally, making it prohibitively expensive to collect them for reuse.

              This is the gist of the admittedly superficial understanding I obtained many decades ago when I bought and read a little green book—long since sent for recycling!—with a ridiculous title somewhere along the lines of “A Hundred and One Things You Can Do to Save the Earth”.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              Some used food grade plastic can be recycled to make recycled food grade plastic.

              Perhaps it is technically possible, but I am almost certain it is currently illegal.

              The problem as it was explained to me is that it is very expensive to guarantee purity in such recycled plastic, and that the economical ways of recycling “down to monomers” includes toxic substances that cannot be economically completely removed from the resulting re-cycled plastic.

              One advantage of glass containers over plastic ones is that glass containers such as bottles and jars can be reused by being collected and returned to the food or drink manufacturer and then washed.

              We don’t use any plastic packaging in our farm food products, including value-added products. We typically use glass, and offer a rebate for returns, but the return rate for most products is dismal — about 2%.

              The standout is dairy. In order for people to receive fresh, unprocessed dairy products in Canada, they must have an ownership interest in the animal. This means we can impose rather severe requirements for returning glass packaging, including a stiff penalty for not returning it ($2 per bottle). We also re-melt, filter, and re-use the wax coating on our cheeses. Finally, some items are packaged in paper.

              The one contrary example are not really food products. Our plant starts go in re-used plastic nursery pots, which we gladly accept in return to re-use as much as possible. But they are manufacture for single-use, and are not very sturdy.

            • artleads says:

              I have a few prototype “building block” that are packed with plastic containers. By stuffing tightly with paper pulp around the containers, I believe the building blocks of stuffed cardboard boxes are fireproof. (Tests are yet to be done.). I’ve found various cheap and easy ways to waterproof the exteriors of the boxes, including a crude form of plastering with very cheap materials. It seems to me that this is the safest and simplest way to remove plastic from the waste stream.

            • Some of these plastic containers are made of materials that seem to be harmful to human health–too close to chemicals in our own bodies. Could this be an issue?

            • artleads says:

              I don’t know if harmful substances in plastic can radiate through a cardboard box. Feedback from those who are up on the science would be appreciated. It wouldn’t be too hard to thicken the cardboard inside, if such a measure could slow or inhibit radiation from leaching through the cardboard.

            • TIm Groves says:

              Before those flimsy single-use plastic nursery pots became available, people used to grow seeds in wide shallow terra cotta pots that lasted for decades but were heavy and bulky and must have required thousands of times more physical material and energy to make.

              I have dozens of them stored in a shed at the homestead and most of the neighbors have hundreds of them stacked up and taking up space in the yard but no longer in use because those single-use plastic nursery pots from the garden center can be used over and over and are a lot more convenient.

              https://youtu.be/PSxihhBzCjk

            • artleads says:

              Yep. I love the convenience of plastic, and would be pretty much out of my depth without it. I don’r believe the food and beverage containers are too healthy to reuse for the same purposes. Even planter pots strike me as not the best things for life inside or around them. (So I leave it to my wife to deal with them.) All I’m up to doing is packing the food containers away in boxes, insulating them to be as inert as I can easily manage That keeps them out of harm’s way, I would think.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        Complete agreement and it is what power satellites should do very well indeed.

        But space based solar power is not the only possible solution. You mention cloudy. Well, StratoSolar gets way up above the clouds *and* has a cheap storage mechanism (gravity). It works as far north as Stockholm. Ed Kelly has analyzed the cost and gets 3 cent per kWh without storage and 5 cents per kWh with. Feeding 3 cent power to fuel plants makes $70 per bbl synthetic fuel.

        In the long run, I think power satellites are the lower cost solution, but we should not ignore others.

        • Gregory Machala says:

          ” I think power satellites are the lower cost solution, ” Lower cost? In terms of energy to build and maintain? Or cost to build in dollars? If you are using cost in terms of dollars then you are working with a unit (dollars) that derives its value from fossil fuels. So you are essentially saying fossil fuels will power StatoSolar.

          • hkeithhenson says:

            ” Lower cost?”

            Cost of energy. My involvement has been based on getting the cost of energy down to where Gail thinks the economy would do well. By analogy with oil, that would be perhaps 2 cents per kWh. I can’t get it down that far, but if we can start at 3 cents per kWh, improvements should

            “fossil fuels will power”

            Fossil fuels won’t power anything eventually.

      • Denial says:

        Actually solar power operates better in cold….but you are right dark areas it does not.

  39. SuperTramp says:

    Boy. Just noticed this PBS series with climate scientist, Katherine Hayhoe, that was produce during the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
    Posting the link here if interested, about 7 minutes in length.

    https://www.pbs.org/video/its-too-late-to-do-anything-about-climate-change-right-06hlkm/

    After viewing no wonder there is a state of mass confusion regarding CC.
    First, this is not my first exposure to Katherine Hayhoe

    “Hayhoe received a degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto,[4] and her masters’ and PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[5] Her Ph.D. committee was chaired by Donald Wuebbles.
    Hayhoe has worked at Texas Tech since 2005.[7] She has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications,[8] and wrote the book A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions together with her husband, Andrew Farley.[9] She also co-authored some reports for the US Global Change Research Program, as well as some National Academy of Sciences reports,[10] including the 3rd National Climate Assessment, released on May 6, 2014. Shortly after the report was released, Hayhoe said, “Climate change is here and now, and not in some distant time or place,” adding that “The choices we’re making today will have a significant impact on our future.”[11] She has also served as an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report”. From her Wikipedia page.

    She stresses to support the Paris Agreement that did nothing to reduce carbon emissions at all.
    China was exempt and the reductions were voluntary, so no one bothered.
    China is building 300 coal power plants around the globe, if my information is correct!

    She stresses a carbon tax to promote clean energy alternatives. Never mind it just promotes transfers of industries that use fossil fuels to places like China and the alternatives are dirty like fossil fuels in the complete assessment.
    The Scientific Community unfortunately is in LaLa land and not helping the situation.
    Dr. James Hansen does the same with his promotion of a Carbon tax and nuclear power with small sized nuclear breeder reactors.
    These people do not see the whole picture.
    No wonder we are on the path we are on, BAU FULL THROTTLE, BABY!
    Ball of Confusion by the Tempations

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-9poCAuYT-s

    The repeated use, in the song, of the phrase “and the band played on” signaled that no one was paying proper attention to world problems and that was back in 1970

    “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” is a 1970 hit single for The Temptations. It was released on the Gordy (Motown) label, and written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.

    • I don’t think that people envisioned how badly wind and solar would work in practice, either.

      I saw this article today:
      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-03/sweden-s-lack-of-electricity-capacity-is-threatening-growth

      Sweden’s Lack of Electricity Capacity Is Threatening Growth

      A shift toward renewables is overwhelming the nation’s grid, leaving a potential Olympic Games in 2026 relying on reserve generators.

      The dire situation stems from the closing of the nation’s oldest [nuclear] reactors and a shift to wind at a time when the grid is already struggling to keep up with demand in major cities. The shortage, which impacts the nation’s main urban areas, is threatening everything from the rollout of a 5G network in the capital to investments in giant data halls and new subway lines. It could even derail Stockholm’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

      • Greg Machala says:

        It is interesting how cheap fossil fuels powered unprecedented growth and how solar and wind threaten growth. This tells me that solar and wind are energy intensive and thus fossil fuels are energy dense and dispactable fuels.

  40. Duncan Idaho says:

    Denver voters approve decriminalization of ‘magic mushrooms’

    https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Denver-voters-apparently-reject-decriminalization-13828318.php

    Just another example of how far apart progressive parts of the US are, mainly the South and Midwest, and the West Coast and progressive cities in the Rockies, and the upper East Coast.

    • Greg Machala says:

      Or maybe “magic mushrooms” are the only thing that gives these folks something to look forward to. Something that makes life seem less of a dead end. Used to be fossil fuels were the drug of choice. But, the fossil fuel addiction is no longer providing the high it once did.

  41. Baby Doomer says:

    The show is just getting started!

    When the “shale revolution” took off around 2008 — exactly at the point where global oil production ex-USA ceased — it wasn’t the result of the U.S. oil industry waking up one day and deciding that it would be a good idea to get into the shale oil business. Rather, seems to me, that it was the result of a well planned strategy to Buy More Time.

    I don’t believe any oil company would have taken the leap into fracking without rock solid assurances from an extremely authoritative source (Cheney cough cough) that the oil companies would be thoroughly backed by: 1) Unlimited new money printing to provide a vast ocean of hot money looking for places to go, 2) A guarantee of NO prosecution for oil companies that might use every trick in the book to misrepresent claims of oil reserves and future profitability to prospective investors, 3) A full scale deep-budgeted Public Relations campaign aggressively pumped through innumerable media channels to selected market segments with the message that THIS is the profit making opportunity of a lifetime (oil independence baby!), and 4) Suppressed interest rates guaranteed to force money out of investment grade bonds and into junk (i.e., fracking bonds).

    In short, none of this fracking business was organically driven. It was planned well ahead of time, obviously by people who could see Peak Oil and Big Trouble coming, oil executives perhaps most clearly of all. That plan is currently being executed. It is working. It bought another ten years of BAU, more or less.

    But how much longer can it work? Not forever, or even much longer in all probability — for many reasons and more. Regardless of how well “they” manipulate markets or coordinate behind the scenes to keep global economic imbalances in check, no matter how much digital money they print, independent of whatever happens in the US/China Trade War farce, the show must come to an end. And it will. Due to lack of sufficient oil.

    For what it’s worth, I seriously doubt that the FED or the super-elites that are running the show will be content to merely continue on with the current plan until oil shortages begin hammering the global economy. Given how elaborate and well-conceived and well-executed the current plan has proven, it’s reasonable to speculate that there is another plan, or a new phase to the existing plan. Whatever that new phase or plan is, I’m guessing it will be a real doozy. Can’t wait to see what it is.

    • I would say that the drive for fracking was driven by (1) Higher oil prices in the 2005-2014 era (excepting a short period after the 2008 crash), (2) the belief that oil prices would continue to rise in response to shortages, and (3) optimistic models about how shale production would play out. Improving technology probably also played a role as well.

      I don’t think any hidden assurance by Cheney and others was needed.

      It seems to me very strange that Occidental and Chevron have been fighting over Anadarko, with Occidental apparently winning. Anadarko’s reported net income finally became somewhat positive in 2018, after being horribly negative in 2015 and less negative in 2016 and 2017. Its cash flows are reported to be quite negative in both 2015 and 2018, and somewhat positive in 2016 and 2017.

      http://investors.anadarko.com/financials

  42. Rodster says:

    Gail this guy sounds a lot like you, he even touches on CC !

    “Dennis Meadows: “There is nothing that we can do”
    http://churchandstate.org.uk/2013/04/dennis-meadows-there-is-nothing-that-we-can-do/

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “Why do you state costs as dollars ”

      It is the standard way we decide if something is worth doing. It does capture energy, pollution is another metric.

      • Jan Steinman says:

        [dollars] does capture energy

        Not really!

        Compare the cost per kilometre of a gasoline vehicle, an electric vehicle, of a horse pulling a vehicle, and of one or more (as necessary) humans pushing a vehicle, at the legal minimum wage.

        You will come up with wildly different results. The energy component of dollar-transactions is not really accounted properly, and that is a huge contributor to the crisis we now find ourselves in.

        If energy were actually accounted for in dollar-cost-analysis, people could make rational decisions about whether to drive to the grocer for a loaf of bread, when the driving uses much more energy than is contained in that loaf of bread!

        • hkeithhenson says:

          For the power satellite business plan, the cost of energy (in the form of rocket fuel) is a big part of the cost of shipping parts into orbit.

          I have analyzed the EROEI. The best way seems to be payback time. For power satellites, it is a few months.

          But I really doubt people are going to avoid driving to the grocer on the basis of energy used. The form of energy is important. We require food, regardless of how much energy it takes to go get it, or grow it, or ship it.

          • I think that with EROEI, a major aspect that gets lost is that each calendar year (in fact, pretty much each month), there needs to be adequate surplus energy earned to operate the economy. It is not possible to substitute future energy in this equation.

            This, if the big solar project in the sky is to be funded, it needs to be funded from surplus energy from the fossil fuel economy, and there must be sufficient surplus for this to happen. The surplus that comes (assuming it does), comes over a lot of future years. Any energy required to convert existing devices to electricity must also come at the time these devices are made.

            Basically, this is the issue that causes collapse in the LTG model. Future energy is not equivalent to energy today. EROEI of a system really needs to be calculated on a year by year basis.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “This, if the big solar project in the sky is to be funded, it needs to be funded from surplus energy from the fossil fuel economy, and there must be sufficient surplus for this to happen.”

              Absolutely correct. The main energy input is natural gas for the hydrogen. From memory, natural gas needed for a rapid buildup was under one percent of current production.

              “The surplus that comes (assuming it does), comes over a lot of future years. ”

              Unless I made a big error in the analysis, a power satellite would generate about four times the energy needed build it and move it to GEO every year. They are expected to run for decades, but the energy return starts fast.

              “Any energy required to convert existing devices to electricity must also come at the time these devices are made.”

              That’s true. But cost wise (and probably energy wise) electric equipment is relatively cheap.

              “Basically, this is the issue that causes collapse in the LTG model.”

              Right. Peter Vajk ran the LTG model working in energy from space way back in the 70s. It gave a substantially different result. But the LTG people don’t want to hear any ideas that would invalidate their model of doom. They were so outraged that they almost threw us out of a LTG meeting in Houston.

        • TIm Groves says:

          I take Keith’s statement as a rough generalization. Stating costs as dollars does capture the energy component of a product, service or activity to a significant extent, although obviously it can’t capture it precisely because the dollar cost of different fuels varies considerably.

          Can the energy cost of dollar transactions be accounted properly? Does it even make sense to try to do that, apart from as an academic exercise?

          I know several people locally who are happy to drive 10km on a round trip to the store to buy one item, such as a packet of sugar or cigarettes. My bet is that they don’t consider either energy costs or dollar costs because both the cost of the journey and the cost of the item they want to buy are so low in terms of both money and energy that it is a matter of total indifference to them.

          For some people, driving to the store to buy a roll of kitchen paper is a perfect excuse to get out of the house. For others, it’s a reason for taking a drive. Some people just like to go for a drive but they don’t feel able to do so unless they have a task or an errand to perform.

          • Jan Steinman says:

            Stating costs as dollars does capture the energy component of a product, service or activity to a significant extent

            I (and HT Odum) must disagree.

            Different forms of energy are not fungible, nor are different sources, nor are the damaging aspects of its use. Therefore, people pushing a car should cost the same as solar electricity pushing a car — or one must admit that the energy content of a product or service does not capture the true cost of that energy.

            For some people, driving to the store to buy a roll of kitchen paper is a perfect excuse to get out of the house.

            For other people, milking a goat, or walking to the garden, or picking nettles is “a perfect excuse to get out of the house.”

            Wonder which people will have the best chances of surviving the coming bottleneck event.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Different forms of energy are not fungible, ”

              Viewed from physics, energy of one sort can be substituted for another. If you can tolerate the conversion loss, energy can be converted from one to another. For example, electric power can be converted to liquid transport fuels with something like 70% efficiency.

              It’s a long way from milking goats (which I did for years) to this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oryx_GTL but it’s all based on the same physics and chemistry.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              … electric power can be converted to liquid transport fuels with something like 70% efficiency… it’s all based on the same physics and chemistry.

              The link you posted does not convert electric power to liquid transport fuel.

              I envy your simplistic faith in chemistry and physics. The devil’s in the details.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “The link you posted does not convert electric power to liquid transport fuel.”

              No, it converts hydrogen and carbon monoxide to liquid transport fuel. Hydrogen is easy to make if you have cheap power. Carbon monoxide you make from CO2 and hydrogen. It’s the reverse water gas shift reaction. Used at a huge industrial scale.

              “I envy your simplistic faith in chemistry and physics. The devil’s in the details.”

              Indeed. But we are talking here about a billion dollar scale plant. Providing it with hydrogen and CO is conceptually easy, but unless the power was very cheap, the liquids would be too expensive.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              unless the power was very cheap, the liquids would be too expensive

              It’s good to hear you say that. Generally, your assertions about future energy sources seem to assume a lot of cheap energy is available with which to bootstrap the new systems.

              Such assumptions seem to me to carry huge amounts of risk.

              What I see lacking is political will. In an all-out war effort, common people are inspired by their leaders to conserve and sacrifice for the greater good. I see almost none of that happening today.

              In even a less-than-all-out effort, like Kennedy’s “man on the moon in ten years” pronouncement, you still see political leaders inspiring the public to think of tax money spent on such an effort as a good investment. The “Green New Deal” may come close, but otherwise, I see almost nothing like that today.

              So you’re all about chemistry and physics, but how do you see your vast technological plans navigating the social and political realms? The total lack of attention to that is what makes me dubious about your claims for a techno-fix for our energy dilemma.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “seem to assume a lot of cheap energy is available with which to bootstrap the new systems.”

              Relative to the size of the problem, it does not take a lot of energy, nor does the startup energy have to be cheap.

              “Such assumptions seem to me to carry huge amounts of risk.”

              A doubling of the cost of energy in the middle of startup would not have a serious effect on the project. What would wipe it out would be the discovery of a huge cheap energy source. Or a sudden drop in the energy market by several billion people dying.

              Nothing is without risk. You just have to ask what’s the risk of doing nothing?

              “how do you see your vast technological plans navigating the social and political realms?”

              Wrong person to ask. I am an engineer, not a politician or religious leader. I can tell *them* what makes sense from the physics, chemistry and even economics. I might note that the Chinese have recently committed to building power satellites.

              “The total lack of attention”

              People have been focused on wind and solar as an energy solution. Gail and many others know that does not work. With the Germans backing away from these “non solutions* perhaps projects like space based solar power will get more attention.

              Or perhaps not.

              It may be worthwhile to consider Rapa Nu (Easter Island). The population is believed by some to have peaked at around 20,000. When that society collapsed, they went at each other with sharp rocks till the population was reduced to perhaps 1000 people.

            • Jan Steinman says:

              how do you see your vast technological plans navigating the social and political realms?

              Wrong person to ask. I am an engineer…

              It may be worthwhile to consider Rapa Nu (Easter Island). The population is believed by some to have peaked at around 20,000. When that society collapsed, they went at each other with sharp rocks till the population was reduced to perhaps 1000 people.

              Stick to engineering. You have the Easter Island facts wrong. This besmirches your reputation when you make other “factual” assertions.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “You have the Easter Island facts wrong.”

              i have not looked up Easter Island work recently. Do you have a source?

            • Jan Steinman says:

              i have not looked up Easter Island work recently. Do you have a source?

              Wikipedia cited half the peak population you did, and twice the final pre-contact population you did, and then noted that most of the pre-contact decline was due to deforestation, and the final, post-contact decline was Death By White People™.

            • TIm Groves says:

              I (and HT Odum) must disagree.

              That’s quite alright. Disagreement can be healthy. It’s one of the things that stops the world from becoming boring, for me at least.

              The true cost of energy involved in pushing a car can be calculated in an almost infinitely large number of ways. You (and HT Odum) may well be mistaken while remaining blissfully unaware that you’ve gotten lost in the maze of your own ingenious conceptualizing.

              For other people, milking a goat, or walking to the garden, or picking nettles is “a perfect excuse to get out of the house.”

              For some people, making rough generalizations is a valid conversation style and they are comfortable with it.

              For others, nitpicking, hair-splitting, or as the Japanese say, picking at the corners of your lacquered wooden lunchbox with a toothpick, is a preferable way of speaking.

              These two different personality types inhabit different conceptual universes and perennially get on each others’ nerves mostly because their minds are calibrated to different levels of precision.

              I’m somewhere in the middle and can appreciate the merits of both ways of thinking, but I prefer talking to the generalists because they are far less likely to make mountains out of molehills or to bring minutiae into discussions that do more to cloud the issue than any amount of generalization could.

              Being precise is not the same thing as being accurate. And indeed, the more precise a statement, the greater the probability that it contains inaccuracies.

              If I may generalize, I think it was said best in the Vedanta. Recalling from memory, the gist of it is that there is only one Reality—the Ultimate Reality—which is inexpressible. But there are an indefinite multitude of truths, each of which is valid in as far as it is in agreement with Reality and invalid in as far as it is in disagreement with reality. Within its limits a truth manifests Reality; outside its limits it fails.

              Keith’s point was true within its limits, the limits Keith was implying. That same point was false invalid in Jan’s interpretation, which was outside of the limits Keith had envisioned. Withe a small enough toothpick and enough linguistic dexterity it is possible to invalidate almost any statement of fact more complicated than “black is black” and prove it false, because no expressible truth manifests Reality in its totality.

            • Greg Machala says:

              I agree with Jan. Folks really take for granted that a couple of dollars pushes a 2ton plus loaded SUV 20 miles. Would you push that loaded SUV 20 miles to two bucks?

              The energy that is obtained to operate society has to be affordable to consumers and profitable to producers for there to be a stable exchange from dollars to energy. We are no longer in the “Goldilocks” zone where energy is both affordable to consumers and profitable to producers. So, it is not possible to infer you have a future supply of X units of energy for X units of dollars. There is too much volatility and unpredictability in the energy markets to do so.

            • Gregory Machala says:

              If a person wants to show that solar and wind energy capture can displace fossil fuels, you cannot do that by using dollar figures. Dollars are backed by the availability of fossil fuels. Dollars have value because of fossil fuels. So, you cannot use dollars to rationalize the costs of building solar and wind infrastructure. Our dollars only have meaning as long as the fossil fuel based economy continues to grow.

              You have to do a cost analyses on an energy (not dollar) basis. That is difficult to do. But,there are at least three things that are clear: fossil fuels are much more energy dense than solar and wind energy capture. Solar and wind are intermittent and fossil fuels are not. Solar and wind can’t (yet?) kickstart an economy – fossil fuels did.

              You have to show a group of people (that without fossil fuel energies) developed the ability to build solar panels and wind turbines with the capacity to reproduce more solar panels, batteries and supporting infrastructure using the only surplus energy from those solar panels and wind turbines. Then have sufficient surplus energy to feed this society, clothe and house them. Educate them, give them medical cars, transportation and a job. This is what fossil fuels did. That is what you have to show if you want to displace fossil fuels. Not dollars.

            • Right. And this surplus has to come on a year by year basis, as we build more and more of the devices and their batteries, and somehow handle the polluting remains.

            • TIm Groves says:

              Wikipedia cited half the peak population you did, and twice the final pre-contact population you did, and then noted that most of the pre-contact decline was due to deforestation, and the final, post-contact decline was Death By White People™.

              https://media.makeameme.org/created/I-dont-always-bfkjy9.jpg

            • Jan Steinman says:

              A Wikipedia reference is arguably better un-referenced assertions from someone who thinks solar power satellites are going to save us!

            • TIm Groves says:

              We’re just chatting on a blog, Jan. We’re not interviewing candidates for the next Attorney General or Supreme Court Justice.

              Despite your appeal to the authority of WIkipedia in an attempt to prove Keith wrong, the fact is that the population dynamics of Easter Island over the past 900 years or so is not known with sufficient accuracy or certainty for anybody to insist otherwise in such dogmatic fashion.

              Look at how Keith qualifies his statements, because he knows that he doesn’t know and that the information is tentative and not guaranteed to be accurate:
              It may be worthwhile to consider Rapa Nu (Easter Island). The population is believed by some to have peaked at around 20,000. When that society collapsed, they went at each other with sharp rocks till the population was reduced to perhaps 1000 people.

              To which you replied:
              You have the Easter Island facts wrong. This besmirches your reputation when you make other “factual” assertions.

              The implication here is that you know what you are talking about with certainty and that you know that Keith is in error in all his statements about Easter Island. But when Keith quite reasonably asked if you had a source, you came back with WIkipedia!! I’m sorry, Jan, but I am gonna have to echo what you said to Keith. This besmirches your reputation when you make other “factual” assertions.

              Not that I care about that. As far as I’m concerned you are still our resident expert on all matters related to goat milking, while Keith is the go-to guy for technofixes and transhumanism.

              There is a well established narrative backed more by imagination than direct evidence that was built up by historians and anthropologists about what happened to the Easter Islanders. In recent memory, Clive Ponting wrote about it in A Green History of the World published in 1993 and Jared Diamond also told the story in his book Collapse published in 2005. Many readers of this blog will have read one or both of those books.

              In the past few years, new research has been undertaken that has led to a new theory of what happened to the Easter Islanders. The new story better suites the present day politics of blaming white people for everything, just as the previous story suited the politics of viewing “primitive” non-western people as incapable of taking care of themselves or their environment, which is these days seen as a politically incorrect position to put it mildly. Hence, the new theory has been publicized widely in the media and someone has weaved it into the fabric of Wikipedia—and you actually quoted Wikipedia as a source?!

              You can believe either story or neither if you prefer. The fact is nobody knows if the population peaked at 20,000 or 10,000. There are no census figures available and so all we can do is guess. Just because someone comes up with a new theory or a new narrative based on new evidence or a new view of old evidence about something that happened long ago, that doesn’t invalidate the old one. It certainly doesn’t make a person who says “the population is believed by some to have peaked at around 20,000” wrong, because its is demonstrably true that some people do indeed believe this.

            • TIm Groves says:

              One anthropologist who thinks 20-,000 not beyond the bounds of possibility is Cedric Puleston ofthe University of California, Davis.

              “It appears the island could have supported 17,500 people at its peak, which represents the upper end of the range of previous estimates.”

              Puleston and fellow researchers examined soil samples from around Easter Island and took readings from six weather stations located on the island over the course of two years.

              Based on their analysis of the soil and the local climate conditions, the team thinks almost 20 percent of the island – some 3,134 hectares (12.1 square miles) – could have been used for the Rapa Nui’s main food crop, sweet potatoes.

              Using modelling and data from other island communities, the team came up with their numbers – running from approximately 3,000 individuals at the low end to more than 29,000 individuals at the high end – which outstrips previous estimates of the island’s vanished population.

              “The result is a wide range of possible maximum population sizes, but to get the smallest values you have to assume the worst of everything,” says Puleston.

              “If we compare our agriculture estimates with other Polynesian Islands, a population of 17,500 people on this size of island is entirely reasonable.”

              https://www.sciencealert.com/easter-island-could-have-once-had-a-thriving-population-we-never-knew-about

            • hkeithhenson says:

              Thanks for the defense, Tim. Better than anything I could have done.

              The point I was trying to make is that something really awful happened on Easter Island, probably as a result of an ecological collapse. If something similar happens on a world wide scale in the near future, chances are “sharp rocks” would be hydrogen bombs.

              That might motivate us to look for solutions.

          • GBV says:

            “I know several people locally who are happy to drive 10km on a round trip to the store to buy one item, such as a packet of sugar or cigarettes.”

            Despite what economists would suggest, humans are irrational beings…

            Cheers,
            -GBV

            • When I visited relatives in Wyoming, I discovered that they were driving 10 miles each way to pick up mail (which the post office would deliver to their mailbox, if they chose). The were also driving 30 miles each way to church, because they prefer this church to a closer church they used to attend. If a person has lots of time (retired) and money, I suppose that they may choose to do these things.

              We also have people who will spend huge amounts on their pets with health problems. And people who will pay a lot for cosmetic surgery. There are lots of ways to use energy; not all of them seem very rational.

          • Yorchichan says:

            I know several people locally who are happy to drive 10km on a round trip to the store to buy one item, such as a packet of sugar or cigarettes.

            In my capacity as a taxi driver, it is not uncommon to get a return fare in the middle of the night to buy a packet of cigarettes. I even once had a £25 return fare in the early hours just to buy baking soda, though why someone would get the urge to bake at such a time is beyond me. Insomnia, I suppose.

      • aaaa says:

        Here you go in succint terms
        https://web.archive.org/web/20050205220019/http://dieoff.org/page240.htm

        :#2. A fundamentally inverted worldview: the economist sees the environment as a subsystem of the economy, rather than the other way around. In other words, economists are trained to believe that natural resources come from “markets” rather than the “environment”. The corollary is that “man-made capital” can substitute for “natural capital”. But the First Law of thermodynamics tells us there is no “creation” — there is no such thing as “man-made capital”. Thus, ALL capital is “natural capital”, and the economy is 100% dependent on the “environment” for everything.”

    • Neil says:

      Well, I think with respect to population growth, the decline is already happening voluntarily. In most, if not all, developed nations, birth rates are in severe decline. Japan is now losing 250,000 people per year. As developed nations use most energy per capita, this decline in energy consumption will offset increasing population growth in poor countries.

      Using Japan as an example, each Japanese uses 3470 kgoe/annum. Wikepedia This is 5x Nigeria’s 773 kgoe/annum. So already the passing away of 250k Japanese reduces energy consumption by the equivalent of 1.25M Nigerians (or 3.75M Bangladeshi’s!). Growth rates in developing nations are slowing. Nigeria as an example again. The birth rate, while still high , is now in decline and this will only accelerate with improving standards of living

      • Yep, but it shows not only in kgoe/annum but also within specific raw materials and foodstuff consumption. The diet of (meat, rice, sugar, ..) for average NA vs. Chinese vs. Japanese vs. Vietnamese differs greatly.. and the suppliers-producers might curb output or stay local at some JIT derailment threshold.. affecting the diet on the other end of the global..

      • psile says:

        You’ve got it a** backwards!

        Birth rates in Anglo countries are rising, as are those in Northern Europe, both amongst natives & due to immigrant vigour.

        The amount of energy consumed is still rising. It has to, or the economy will stall and collapse.

        Nigeria and Bangladesh are both putting on fearsome numbers, and even a small increase in affluence will affect consumption patterns, putting further pressure on resources and the environment.

        Consumption, industrialisation and population continues unabated worldwide. Everyone, except for a few marginalised individuals, are clamouring for more.

        We cannot cease these activities, so long as there is sufficient resources available to fuel our growth, and the planet can absorb our waste. This behaviour stems from deep seated biological pressures to expand and multiply, which is apparent in all creatures.

        Notions that we will cease these innate behaviours voluntarily is thus entirely deluded. Every country tries to grow, if able.

        China, once the poster-child for population control, has abandoned its one-child policy, fearing a mortal blow to its economy, due to future demographics. If Japan could grow, it would too.

        Last year we added another Germany in population, but the critical resources necessary to support the next generation are already being devoured today.

        We are drawing them down faster than they can be replenished within timescales that matter for human beings and industrial civilisation.

        This is because we are in overshoot. Not just overshoot, but extreme overshoot, whereby we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth to support our species many, many fold.

        Nature is going to put an end to our exponential population growth soon, because of this overshoot, which will crash our numbers dramatically. This happens to every species in overshoot, no exceptions.

        Since we have ravaged the planet so very, very, badly, and will continue to do so right up until the fateful moment of collapse, the environment will not be able to support many, if any of our kind in the future. (See graph below).

        http://images.slideplayer.com/16/5025385/slides/slide_7.jpg

        Our collapse will be especially sudden, swift, and brutal for this reason.

        • Gregory Machala says:

          I agree that overshoot is a huge problem. And it is also why I believe the coming collapse will the sudden, swift and brutal as well. We are in overshoot because we tapped into a massively dense source of cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels. Once that protective layer of cheap energy wanes it will look like a helicopter when the rotors stop turning.

    • We see eye to eye on a lot of things. I have known him since my Oil Drum days.

  43. adonis says:

    I have just finiished looking in more detail at the bios report from the Finnish researchers and have now changed my mind the report was not pre-prepared by the elders it looks like collapse will not be slow but probably a Seneca Cliff

  44. The latest article at Surplus implies, that disposable income of French population is going to turn negative in ~20yrs, should the current mega-trend continue. It’s very likely there will be some detours and threshold barriers on that path so we are back again in our usual ~2025-35 timeframe for the coming big derailment..

    • adonis says:

      too many black swans may collapse the system in 2019

      • Davidin100millionbilliontrillionzillionyears says:

        too many?

        it might only take one “big one”…

        but, as per worldofh above, the chances of that big one are much greater in a 15 year period than in 2019…

        most days are similar to the day before and the day after…

        2019 is flying by and wobbling about as much as 2018…

        90+ % of people carry on as best as we can, and that is the (hidden?) glue that is holding IC together, even though BAU wobbles…

        without a black swan, 2019 looks like it will end similar to the way it began…

        • Slow Paul says:

          Yes. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and most of them are working each day to avoid collapse. This is what the insta-doomers do not want to consider, that behind all the economic mumbo jumbo, stocks, banks, derivatives, supply chains, there are real people looking to keep their jobs and maintain the status quo. This is why the world didn’t end during the GFC, people stepped in, made some calls, made some deals, and voila we are still here. The world won’t end due to numbers on computer screens, we would need some real problems like natural disasters, epidemics, famines that severely affect the core industrial countries. But these problems will appear by themselves sooner or later, as the number of poor people increase and resource base diminishes and the claymate goes awry. Probably within a few decades.

  45. Rodster says:

    “The Tesla effect: Oil is slowly losing its best customer”

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/08/investing/oil-stocks-electric-vehicles-tesla/index.html

    • The best customer is being lost to low wages and too much university debt. Young people cannot afford cars of any kind. They tend to live with their parents longer.

      Hype about electric autos sells!

      • aaaa says:

        Aparently there are parking lots full of parked, perfectly-fine cars that auto companies have dumped for whatever reason.
        I know VW had the emissions-gate cars, but so what? Why should they be left to rot when they can operate fine? How many tons of carbon-fuels were used to make them?
        So much waste

      • TIm Groves says:

        Toyota reports it is doing very well on the sales front, although there is concern they may have hit Peak Toyota in FY1028.

        From today’s Japan Times*

        Toyota Motor Corp. became the first Japanese company to report annual sales topping ¥30 trillion, thanks in large part to brisk sales in China.

        Group sales reached a record ¥30.23 trillion in fiscal 2018, a 2.9 percent increase from fiscal 2017, but this fiscal year sales are projected to dip 0.7 percent to ¥30 trillion, Japan’s largest automaker said Wednesday.

        The company forecast lower growth in operating profit for the current year based on an expected drop in revenue and weaker vehicle sales in Japan and North America, underscoring the hard task ahead as it gears up to face a rapidly shifting industry.

        Toyota said it expects profit to rise 3.3 percent to ¥2.55 trillion ($23.20 billion) in the year through March 2020, slightly lower than the ¥2.61 trillion average of 23 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv and compared to last year’s 20 percent jump.

        A weakening yen against the dollar is boosting Toyota and other Japanese exporters’ repatriated profits. Toyota based its forecasts on an exchange rate of ¥110 to the dollar.

        The automaker, like its rivals, is facing stiff competition as ride-sharing technology and the race to develop self-driving cars has caused rapid — and costly — disruption to the auto industry. And there is also a major shift under way toward electrified vehicles, forcing carmakers to invest billions of dollars in new technologies. Toyota’s bets in transport services, which include stakes in Uber Technologies Inc. and Grab, will take a long time to yield financial returns.

        U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to raise tariffs and auto parts have pushed Toyota to step up investments in the U.S. The company added about $3 billion to a multiyear plan, with the automaker now planning to invest almost $13 billion over a five-year period ending in 2021.

        Trump said on April 28 that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited him last month, agreed to put “$40 billion into the United States for new car factories.”

        Toyota is carefully balancing its pledges in the U.S. and its growth plans in China, where it became the fastest growing global carmaker last year. Toyota plans to boost China sales by 8.5 percent to 1.6 million units in 2019, and this week it approved a $1.64 billion investment to expand one of its Chinese joint ventures’ new-energy vehicle capacity by 400,000 units per year.

        Toyota’s sales in the U.S., its largest market, fell 4.4 percent in April. Sales in China surged 20 percent to a record 142,600 units in the same month.

        While it forecast global group retail sales at a record 10.74 million vehicles for the current year, compared with 10.6 million in the previous year, Japan sales were seen down 1.2 percent and North American sales down 1.6 percent.

  46. Yoshua says:

    “SENIOR WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL WARNS EUROPEAN BANKS, INVESTORS, BUSINESSES AGAINST INVOLVEMENT WITH NON-DOLLAR PAYMENT SYSTEM FOR TRADE WITH IRAN”

    The diplomats have taken over the Whitehouse in a coup d’etat?

    • the aim of dictators is world domination

      the dollar trade is just another way of doing it

      It’s the same mindset as when Hitler demanded and got Czechoslovakia in 1938

      I used to think I was exaggerating the threat—now I know I’m not

      Just like last time, this is global democracy under threat—do as I want or else. And world leaders are surrendering to him—just like last time

      When Hitler came to power in 1933 he had no concept of that—but by 1939 he could see it was there for the taking, most of the other world leaders just didn’t care much what he did—just an odd little man who shouted a lot and exaggerated himself

      If he hadn’t kicked them out, the Jews would have built his A Bomb by 1943, then it would have been game over for all of us

      I keep trying:

      https://medium.com/@End_of_More/why-your-democracy-cannot-survive-6658034b3799

      the threat is real.

      • Yorchichan says:

        Hitller was a dictator; Trump does what he is told. Big difference.

        • this is just hysterical nonsense conspiratorial rant

          Hitler left his industrial bosses alone to do what they wanted, while got on with his dictator thing

          It wasn’t until the whole thing started to collapse that they wanted to get rid of him—until then he was good for business.

          • Yorchichan says:

            this is just hysterical nonsense conspiratorial rant

            Really? So which of his campaign promises has Trump actually delivered on?

            • none of them

              the man is a crook—but that doesn’t alter my comment about whatever that video was going on about

            • The economy is doing well compared to the rest of the world. The reported unemployment rate is low.

            • TIm Groves says:

              Really? So which of his campaign promises has Trump actually delivered on?

              According to NPR:

              Accomplished—
              Tax cut and simplification
              Boost oil and gas production
              Eliminate two regulations for every new one
              Select a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Scalia
              Rebuild the military

              In progress—
              Build the wall
              Repeal and replace Obamacare
              Renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA, withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership

              https://www.npr.org/2019/01/20/686531523/progress-report-president-trumps-campaign-promises-2-years-later

            • TIm Groves says:

              Hang on, is that an orange bogie getting right up you nose, Norman?
              No, it’s Donald Trump!

            • Yorchichan says:

              Norman

              I watched the video a couple of months ago when it came out and haven’t watched it in the meanwhile. I seem to remember it was about Trump reneging on his populist campaign promises (the wall/locking up Hilary/ending US involvement in foreign wars/repealing Obamacare/draining the swamp). The fact he hasn’t delivered on any of these I take as evidence that either he is part of the establishment or he has limited power. Either way, he’s no more a dictator than any of the presidents before him and there is no evidence he desires it to be otherwise.

            • to respond to a few comments on this thread

              Getting rid of regulations appears (in the main) to be deregulation of environmental protections

              Employment appears to be low in the sense that jobs are below a wage that allows long term self-support for the worker

              Tax cuts appear to benefit the rich to the detriment of the poor

              increasing the military drains an already indebted economic system

              USA debt is now 22$trn, higher than the last 50 years. Wages are being paid with borrowed money

              US military is also being paid for with borrowed money

              High military spending creates jobs, but with no end product except scrap hardware

              replacement on the supreme court with extreme rightwingers, with the express intention and approval of his fundamentalist support base. whose interests lie in theocracy, not world problems.
              He is doing the same with circuit courts wherever possible. (he had 109 appointees at his disposal)
              He gets rid of sane advisers and appoints evangelical rapture-nuts.
              (why? because they control equally nutty people who will vote him back into office as long as he waves a bible around at rallies.

              I can’t believe that anyone on OFW accepts such blatant hypocrisy as truth??

              He requires that subordinates owe personal allegiance to him. (sound familiar?)

              To an outside observer like me, the pattern seems clear, to set the ground for dictatorship. He has already ”joked” about this many times. Notice those he approves of, who he consorts with.

              With every transgression he gets away with, the more he will chance,

              Congress becomes afraid of what he might do next, He has already applauded thugs at his rallies. What next?

              If, as is said on OFW there is going to be environmental collapse, then civil collapse is certain……. then the military will decide to fall in behind whoever pays their wages and to throw in with him,

              After that it’s game over folks.
              Seig heil.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      EUROPEAN COUNTRIES LOOK AT TRUMP LIKE A DEADLY CANCER.

      • Or perhaps the European countries are dying of malnutrition because of too low energy supplies, together with an attempt to cure this problem with high-priced intermittent renewable electricity, which really isn’t working.

  47. Duncan Idaho says:

    Unnerving brinkmanship on both sides!
    Probably not as big of an issue from our 6 times bankrupt leader from Queens.
    But, anyone paying attention, yes.

  48. Harry McGibbs says:

    The US Trade Representative’s office have now apparently filed the paperwork to hike the tariffs on Friday… Unnerving brinkmanship on both sides!

    • Yoshua says:

      China and Southeast Asia are dependent on the oil flow from the Persian gulf. Maybe the strike carriers and bombers were moved into the region to blackmail China to sign the deal?

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        That would be a terrifying bit of brinkmanship!

        I’m not convinced that this is the case though. Trump has a bee in his bonnet about higher oil prices and a military face-off between Iran and the US in the Straits of Hormuz, even if Bolton is itching for one, would certainly send oil prices skyrocketing. In fact we could see a worse price spike than the $147 of 2008.

        I read that the US show of force in the area is designed to discourage Hezbollah and its affiliates in Iraq from messing with the US troops there. God knows though – we live in mercurial times and Trump seems to positively relish confounding expectations.

        • Yoshua says:

          I read that Trump, Bolton and Pompeo are not in control of the Pentagon. I read that Pentagon despises them.

          A real war would need a lot more logistic movements.

          I read that this is just normal rotation used by the Whitehouse as “diplomacy” against Iran.

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