Rethinking Renewable Mandates

Powering the world’s economy with wind, water and solar, and perhaps a little wood sounds like a good idea until a person looks at the details. The economy can use small amounts of wind, water and solar, but adding these types of energy in large quantities is not necessarily beneficial to the system.

While a change to renewables may, in theory, help save world ecosystems, it will also tend to make the electric grid increasingly unstable. To prevent grid failure, electrical systems will need to pay substantial subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear electricity providers that can offer backup generation when intermittent generation is not available. Modelers have tended to overlook these difficulties. As a result, the models they provide offer an unrealistically favorable view of the benefit (energy payback) of wind and solar.

If the approach of mandating wind, water, and solar were carried far enough, it might have the unfortunate effect of saving the world’s ecosystem by wiping out most of the people living within the ecosystem. It is almost certain that this was not the intended impact when legislators initially passed the mandates.

[1] History suggests that in the past, wind and water never provided a very large percentage of total energy supply.

Figure 1. Annual energy consumption per person (megajoules) in England and Wales 1561-70 to 1850-9 and in Italy 1861-70. Figure by Tony Wrigley, Cambridge University.

Figure 1 shows that before and during the Industrial Revolution, wind and water energy provided 1% to 3% of total energy consumption.

For an energy source to work well, it needs to be able to produce an adequate “return” for the effort that is put into gathering it and putting it to use. Wind and water seemed to produce an adequate return for a few specialized tasks that could be done intermittently and that didn’t require heat energy.

When I visited Holland a few years ago, I saw windmills from the 17th and 18th centuries. These windmills pumped water out of low areas in Holland, when needed. A family would live inside each windmill. The family would regulate the level of pumping desired by adding or removing cloths over the blades of the windmill. To earn much of their income, they would also till a nearby plot of land.

This overall arrangement seems to have provided adequate income for the family. We might conclude, from the inability of wind and water energy to spread farther than 1% -3% of total energy consumption, that the energy return from the windmills was not very high. It was adequate for the arrangement I described, but it didn’t provide enough extra energy to encourage greatly expanded use of the devices.

[2] At the time of the Industrial Revolution, coal worked vastly better for most tasks of the economy than did wind or water.

Economic historian Tony Wrigley, in his book Energy and the English Industrial Revolution, discusses the differences between an organic economy (one whose energy sources are human labor, energy from draft animals such as oxen and horses, and wind and water energy) and an energy-rich economy (one that also has the benefit of coal and perhaps other energy sources). Wrigley notes the following benefits of a coal-based energy-rich economy during the period shown in Figure 1:

  • Deforestation could be reduced. Before coal was added, there was huge demand for wood for heating homes and businesses, cooking food, and for making charcoal, with which metals could be smelted. When coal became available, it was inexpensive enough that it reduced the use of wood, benefiting the environment.
  • The quantity of metals and tools was greatly increased using coal. As long as the source of heat for making metals was charcoal from trees, the total quantity of metals that could be produced was capped at a very low level.
  • Roads to mines were greatly improved, to accommodate coal movement. These better roads benefitted the rest of the economy as well.
  • Farming became a much more productive endeavor. The crop yield from cereal crops, net of the amount fed to draft animals, nearly tripled between 1600 and 1800.
  • The Malthusian limit on population could be avoided. England’s population grew from 4.2 million to 16.7 million between 1600 and 1850. Without the addition of coal to make the economy energy-rich, the population would have been capped by the low food output from the organic economy.

[3] Today’s wind, water, and solar are not part of what Wrigley called the organic economy. Instead, they are utterly dependent on the fossil fuel system.

The name renewables reflects the fact that wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectric dams do not burn fossil fuels in their capture of energy from the environment.

Modern hydroelectric dams are constructed with concrete and steel. They are built and repaired using fossil fuels. Wind turbines and solar panels use somewhat different materials, but these too are available only thanks to the use of fossil fuels. If we have difficulty with the fossil fuel system, we will not be able to maintain and repair any of these devices or the electricity transmission system used for distributing the energy that they capture.

[4] With the 7.7 billion people in the world today, adequate energy supplies are an absolute requirement if we do not want population to fall to a very low level. 

There is a myth that the world can get along without fossil fuels. Wrigley writes that in a purely organic economy, the vast majority of roads were deeply rutted dirt roads that could not be traversed by wheeled vehicles. This made overland transport very difficult. Canals were used to provide water transport at that time, but we have virtually no canals available today that would serve the same purpose.

It is true that buildings for homes and businesses can be built with wood, but such buildings tend to burn down frequently. Buildings of stone or brick can also be used. But with only the use of human and animal labor, and having few roads that would accommodate wheeled carts, brick or stone homes tend to be very labor-intensive. So, except for the very wealthy, most homes will be made of wood or of other locally available materials such as sod.

Wrigley’s analysis shows that before coal was added to the economy, human labor productivity was very low. If, today, we were to try to operate the world economy using only human labor, draft animals, and wind and water energy, we likely could not grow food for very many people. World population in 1650 was only about 550 million, or about 7% of today’s population. It would not be possible to provide for the basic needs of today’s population with an organic economy as described by Wrigley.

(Note that organic here has a different meaning than in “organic agriculture.” Today’s organic agriculture is also powered by fossil fuel energy. Organic agriculture brings soil amendments by truck, irrigates land and makes “organic sprays” for fruit, all using fossil fuels.)

[5] Wind, water and solar only provided about 11% of the world’s total energy consumption for the year 2018. Trying to ramp up the 11% production to come anywhere close to 100% of total energy consumption seems like an impossible task.

Figure 2. World Energy Consumption by Fuel, based on data of 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Let’s look at what it would take to ramp up the current renewables percentage from 11% to 100%. The average growth rate over the past five years of the combined group that might be considered renewable (Hydro + Biomass etc + Wind&Solar) has been 5.8%. Maintaining such a high growth rate in the future is likely to be difficult because new locations for hydroelectric dams are hard to find and because biomass supply is limited. Let’s suppose that despite these difficulties, this 5.8% growth rate can be maintained going forward.

To increase the quantity from 2018’s low level of renewable supply to the 2018 total energy supply at a 5.8% growth rate would take 39 years. If population grows between 2018 and 2057, even more energy supply would likely be required. Based on this analysis, increasing the use of renewables from a 11% base to close to a 100% level does not look like an approach that has any reasonable chance of fixing our energy problems in a timeframe shorter than “generations.”

The situation is not quite as bad if we look at the task of producing an amount of electricity equal to the world’s current total electricity generation with renewables (Hydro + Biomass etc + Wind&Solar); renewables in this case provided 26% of the world’s electricity supply in 2018.

Figure 3. World electricity production by type, based on data from 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

The catch with replacing electricity (Figure 3) but not energy supplies is the fact that electricity is only a portion of the world’s energy supply. Different calculations give different percentages, with electricity varying between 19% and 43% of total energy consumption.1 Either way, substituting wind, water and solar in electricity production alone does not seem to be sufficient to make the desired reduction in carbon emissions.

[6] A major drawback of wind and solar energy is its variability from hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. Water energy has season-to-season variability as well, with spring or wet seasons providing the most electricity.

Back when modelers first looked at the variability of electricity produced by wind, solar and water, they hoped that as an increasing quantity of these electricity sources were added, the variability would tend to offset. This happens a little, but not nearly as much as one would like. Instead, the variability becomes an increasing problem as more is added to the electric grid.

When an area first adds a small percentage of wind and/or solar electricity to the electric grid (perhaps 10%), the electrical system’s usual operating reserves are able to handle the variability. These were put in place to handle small fluctuations in supply or demand, such as a major coal plant needing to be taken off line for repairs, or a major industrial client reducing its demand.

But once the quantity of wind and/or solar increases materially, different strategies are needed. At times, production of wind and/or solar may need to be curtailed, to prevent overburdening the electric grid. Batteries are likely to be needed to help ease the abrupt transition that occurs when the sun goes down at the end of the day while electricity demand is still high. These same batteries can also help ease abrupt transitions in wind supply during wind storms.

Apart from brief intermittencies, there is an even more serious problem with seasonal fluctuations in supply that do not match up with seasonal fluctuations in demand. For example, in winter, electricity from solar panels is likely to be low. This may not be a problem in a warm country, but if a country is cold and using electricity for heat, it could be a major issue.

The only real way of handling seasonal intermittencies is by having fossil fuel or nuclear plants available for backup. (Battery backup does not seem to be feasible for such huge quantities for such long periods.) These back-up plants cannot sit idle all year to provide these services. They need trained staff who are willing and able to work all year. Unfortunately, the pricing system does not provide enough funds to adequately compensate these backup systems for those times when their services are not specifically required by the grid. Somehow, they need to be paid for the service of standing by, to offset the inevitable seasonal variability of wind, solar and water.

[7] The pricing system for electricity tends to produce rates that are too low for those electricity providers offering backup services to the electric grid.

As a little background, the economy is a self-organizing system that operates through the laws of physics. Under normal conditions (without mandates or subsidies) it sends signals through prices and profitability regarding which types of energy supply will “work” in the economy and which kinds will simply produce too much distortion or create problems for the system.

If legislators mandate that intermittent wind and solar will be allowed to “go first,” this mandate is by itself a substantial subsidy. Allowing wind and solar to go first tends to send prices too low for other producers because it tends to reduce prices below what those producers with high fixed costs require.2

If energy officials decide to add wind and solar to the electric grid when the grid does not really need these supplies, this action will also tend to push other suppliers off the grid through low rates. Nuclear power plants, which have already been built and are adding zero CO2 to the atmosphere, are particularly at risk because of the low rates. The Ohio legislature recently passed a $1.1 billion bailout for two nuclear power plants because of this issue.

If a mandate produces a market distortion, it is quite possible (in fact, likely) that the distortion will get worse and worse, as more wind and solar is added to the grid. With more mandated (inefficient) electricity, customers will find themselves needing to subsidize essentially all electricity providers if they want to continue to have electricity.

The physics-based economic system without mandates and subsidies provides incentives to efficient electricity providers and disincentives to inefficient electricity suppliers. But once legislators start tinkering with the system, they are likely to find a system dominated by very inefficient production. As the costs of handling intermittency explode and the pricing system gets increasingly distorted, customers are likely to become more and more unhappy.

[8] Modelers of how the system might work did not understand how a system with significant wind and solar would work. Instead, they modeled the most benign initial situation, in which the operating reserves would handle variability, and curtailment of supply would not be an issue. 

Various modelers attempted to figure out whether the return from wind and solar would be adequate, to justify all of the costs of supporting it. Their models were very simple: Energy Out compared to Energy In, over the lifetime of a device. Or, they would calculate Energy Payback Periods. But the situation they modeled did not correspond well to the real world. They tended to model a situation that was close to the best possible situation, one in which variability, batteries and backup electricity providers were not considerations. Thus, these models tended to give a far too optimistic estimates of the expected benefit of intermittent wind and solar devices.

Furthermore, another type of model, the Levelized Cost of Electricity model, also provides distorted results because it does not consider the subsidies needed for backup providers if the system is to work. The modelers likely also leave out the need for backup batteries.

In the engineering world, I am told that computer models of expected costs and income are not considered to be nearly enough. Real-world tests of proposed new designs are first tested on a small scale and then at progressively larger scales, to see whether they will work in practice. The idea of pushing “renewables” sounded so good that no one thought about the idea of testing the plan before it was put into practice.

Unfortunately, the real-world tests that Germany and other countries have tried have shown that intermittent renewables are a very expensive way to produce electricity when all costs are considered. Neighboring countries become unhappy when excess electricity is simply dumped on the grid. Total CO2 emissions don’t necessarily go down either.

[9] Long distance transmission lines are part of the problem, not part of the solution. 

Early models suggested that long-distance transmission lines might be used to smooth out variability, but this has not worked well in practice. This happens partly because wind conditions tend to be similar over wide areas, and partly because a broad East-West mixture is needed to even-out the rapid ramp-down problem in the evening, when families are still cooking dinner and the sun goes down.

Also, long distance transmission lines tend to take many years to permit and install, partly because many landowners do not want them crossing their property. In some cases, the lines need to be buried underground. Reports indicate that an underground 230 kV line costs 10 to 15 times what a comparable overhead line costs. The life expectancy of underground cables seems to be shorter, as well.

Once long-distance transmission lines are in place, maintenance is very fossil fuel dependent. If storms are in the area, repairs are often needed. If roads are not available in the area, helicopters may need to be used to help make the repairs.

An issue that most people are not aware of is the fact that above ground long-distance transmission lines often cause fires, especially when they pass through hot, dry areas. The Northern California utility PG&E filed for bankruptcy because of fires caused by its transmission lines. Furthermore, at least one of Venezuela’s major outages seems to have been related to sparks from transmission lines from its largest hydroelectric plant causing fires. These fire costs should also be part of any analysis of whether a transition to renewables makes sense, in terms of either cost or energy returns.

[10] If wind turbines and solar panels are truly providing a major net benefit to the economy, they should not need subsidies, even the subsidy of going first.

To make wind and solar electricity producers able to compete with other electricity providers without the subsidy of going first, these providers need a substantial amount of battery backup. For example, wind turbines and solar panels might be required to provide enough backup batteries (perhaps 8 to 12 hours’ worth) so that they can compete with other grid members, without the subsidy of going first. If it really makes sense to use such intermittent energy, these providers should be able to still make a profit even with battery usage. They should also be able to pay taxes on the income they receive, to pay for the government services that they are receiving and hopefully pay some extra taxes to help out the rest of the system.

In Item [2] above, I mentioned that when coal mines were added in England, roads to the mines were substantially improved, befitting the economy as a whole. A true source of energy (one whose investment cost is not too high relative to its output) is supposed to be generating “surplus energy” that assists the economy as a whole. We can observe an impact of this type in the improved roads that benefited England’s economy as a whole. Any so-called energy provider that cannot even pay its own fair share of taxes acts more like a leech, sucking energy and resources from others, than a provider of surplus energy to the rest of the economy.

Recommendations

In my opinion, it is time to eliminate renewable energy mandates. There will be some instances where renewable energy will make sense, but this will be obvious to everyone involved. For example, an island with its electricity generation from oil may want to use some wind or solar generation to try to reduce its total costs. This cost saving occurs because of the high price of oil as fuel to make electricity.

Regulators, in locations where substantial wind and/or solar has already been installed, need to be aware of the likely need to provide subsidies to backup providers, in order to keep the electrical system operating. Otherwise, the grid will likely fail from lack of adequate backup electricity supply.

Intermittent electricity, because of its tendency to drive other providers to bankruptcy, will tend to make the grid fail more quickly than it would otherwise. The big danger ahead seems to be bankruptcy of electricity providers and of fossil fuel producers, rather than running out of a fuel such as oil or natural gas. For this reason, I see little reason for the belief by many that electricity will “last longer” than oil. It is a question of which group is most affected by bankruptcies first.

I do not see any real reason to use subsidies to encourage the use of electric cars. The problem we have today with oil prices is that they are too low for oil producers. If we want to keep oil production from collapsing, we need to keep oil demand up. We do this by encouraging the production of cars that are as inexpensive as possible. Generally, this will mean producing cars that operate using petroleum products.

(I recognize that my view is the opposite one from what many Peak Oilers have. But I see the limit ahead as being one of too low prices for producers, rather than too high prices for consumers. The CO2 issue tends to disappear as parts of the system collapse.)

Notes:

[1] BP bases its count on the equivalent fossil fuel energy needed to create the electricity; IEA counts the heat energy of the resulting electrical output. Using BP’s way of counting electricity, electricity worldwide amounts to 43% of total energy consumption. Using the International Energy Agency’s approach to counting electricity, electricity worldwide amounts to only about 19% of world energy consumption.

[2] In some locations, “utility pricing” is used. In these cases, pricing is set in a way needed to provide a fair return to all providers. With utility pricing, intermittent renewables would not be expected to cause low prices for backup producers.

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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1,369 Responses to Rethinking Renewable Mandates

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “This year, those looking around in August for ill omens for the global economy are spoilt for choice. There’s the fact that in the United States the president is at loggerheads with the man running the central bank. There’s the possibility of a general election in Italy that will produce an extreme hard-right government that will shake the foundations of the eurozone. There is, of course, the risk of a no-deal Brexit…

    “All debt crises need a trigger to set them off, and this [the devaluation of the Yuan] might just be it, since a devaluing currency makes it more expensive to pay back debts denominated in foreign currencies. And when your debts are as big as China’s, that’s potentially a very big deal.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/aug/12/could-devaluation-of-china-yuan-trigger-the-next-financial-crisis

  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “At the end of October, Jammu and Kashmir will cease to be a state of India. Last week, India’s parliament approved by a large majority the decision by the federal government to split the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union territories have much less autonomy from the federal government than states do, and are essentially subject to Delhi’s direct rule…

    “The Hindu nationalist government seems to ultimately aspire to assimilate rebellious Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir into a form of Indian national identity defined by its movement’s ideology. This approach is akin to China’s policy towards the Uighurs of Xinjiang…

    “The outlook is grim.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-49316350

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Investors are awaiting stimulus measures from the government as a gloomy economic outlook adds to mounting credit market woes and raises fears defaults will spread. [India’s] government is planning measures to boost the economy…”

      https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/as-default-risks-rise-investors-eye-stimulus-to-prop-up-economy/article29040821.ece

      • It seems like an awfully lot of economies need propping up.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “It seems like an awfully lot of economies need propping up.”

          It does feel as if the wheels are starting to come off just a tad. Even the perpetually exuberant, overstimulated stock markets look like they are starting to come to their senses. We may be in for an engrossing autumn.

          • and gold has jumped another $30 in 24 hours

            folks must be reading OFW alla time

            • It's different this time around....NO says:

              Merkel hits the nail straight on

            • I think the speaker of interest is Helga Zepp-LaRouche.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Helga Zepp-LaRouche.”

              Long ago my ex-wife and I tangled with the LaRouche organization. The report was in the L5 News, Aug 1984. There is a slightly updated version of it here:

              http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=17720

              I wonder if they are still down on power satellites? (They were in the late 70s.)

              It’s a humorous piece. ” When Henson was asked about this vituperation, . . . .”

            • snarf says:

              “Long ago my ex-wife and I tangled with the LaRouche organization. The report was in the L5 News, Aug 1984. There is a slightly updated version of it here:

              http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=17720

              I wonder if they are still down on power satellites? (They were in the late 70s.)”

              Larouche down on fantasy. Not surprised. Certainly a stick in the mud. So you were hawking power satellites back in 84 the date of the document you provided… I heard Voldemort and Sauron were “down on” power satellites too. Or was it they were down with power satellites? I forget. Oh i remember now. Voldemort said he was down with power satellites and Sauron said he was down on power satellites. More importantly Frodo said it was not his purview.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              ” So you were hawking power satellites back in 84 the date of the document you provided…”

              No. I was involved with power satellites from 1975 when O’Neill connected them as a way to pay for space colonies. Eric Drexler and I wrote a paper on space radiators (needed for some kinds of power satellites) for the 1979 Space Manufacturing Conference at Princeton.

              LaRouche was into fantasy, rather elaborate and infectious enough to motive a small movement of sorts.

          • Harry McGibbs says:

            Spoke too soon – finally a morsel of good news:

            “Stocks jump quickly to the upside on the news that China says it will hold trade talks by phone with the U.S. within the next two weeks.”

            https://seekingalpha.com/news/3491106-stocks-pop-china-confirms-trade-talks-u-s-within-two-weeks

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Spoke too soon – finally a morsel of good news:”

              For me, the more interesting news is the cost of lift to LEO getting to $100/kg or these new metal batteries for $25 per kWh or the new and lightweight silicon and lithium batteries that look to be a good match to electric cars. These effects are larger in the long run than short term economic fluctuations.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “says it will hold trade talks”

              What amazes me is that a main point of the talks is intellectual property. If the Chinese had fully paid for what they used, the US businesses would have seen a lot more money over the last couple of decades.

              But that is changing fast. The Chinese have or will shortly have more engineers than the US. So it is logical to expect the IP balance of payments in the near future going to China.

            • snarf says:

              “What amazes me is that a main point of the talks is intellectual property. If the Chinese had fully paid for what they used, the US businesses would have seen a lot more money over the last couple of decades.

              But that is changing fast. The Chinese have or will shortly have more engineers than the US. So it is logical to expect the IP balance of payments in the near future going to China.”

              Well my experience is anecdotal but I disagree for two reasons. Reverse engineering and innovation.

              To some extent every good engineer copies successful designs. The Chinese have made this a art form. There is no shame in this. Reverse engineering is a useful skill. They have however completely disregarded IP while reverse engineering products. USA are not reverse engineering wizards so they dont violate IP on that front.

              The USA culture is one of innovation. At a hourly salary of $2 for technicians and $5 for engineers Shenzhen certainly provides unsurpassed value. THe USA is very good at innovation. The Chinese are very good at following procedure. They both have their merits. When you come to a gap between A and C the USA engineer finds a way. Sometimes even the best way. Sometimes not. The Chinese engineer not so much. Sometimes not is not a option. When you get put up against a wall and shot for failure you dont take risk. Also I believe this to be because of there somewhat recent transition from a agricultural society. I expect at some point the Chinese will completely surpass the West in terms of innovation if BAU continues. They have become the nexus of technology and manufacturing and that is necessary for innovation skills to be developed. China certainly has a history rich in innovation.

              In the meantime hiring three engineers one software one mechanical one electrical for half of one USA engineer certainly is a great deal for most projects. That means those engineers get chances to develop skills and they will most certainly become great innovators. Innovation follows where resources and energy is. I would expect the lion share of IP to be paid to the USA for at least a decade or two while the innovation follows the energy, and technology resources but I could be wrong. They can do things in Shenzhen ghettos that you couldn’t do in silicon valley.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “They have however completely disregarded IP while reverse engineering products. USA are not reverse engineering wizards so they don’t violate IP on that front. ”

              I don’t know how much things have changed, but back in the early 70s when I worked for Burr-Brown, about 20% of my job was reverse engineering modules from other companies that made similar products. In those days the modules were potted in epoxy and I had several kinds of epoxy dissolver sitting on the tap shelf of my work area soaking off the potting. Going into the chips was harder. I remember using fuming H2SO4 on an IC covered with something that kept you from looking at the die. Nowadays they use galium ion cutters to investigate the interiors of processor chips

              In those days we were looking for IP violations from our competitors as well as reverse engineering.

              It was such a part of engineering in those days that it is hard to imagine companies not doing reverse engineering on products from China.

              Of course, a big fraction of the engineering going into produces nowadays is the software.

            • Think of all of the store brands of products. One of my sisters in law worked for a company that made them. They had chemists who worked on reverse engineering brand name products.

            • Any possible good news is a chance for a big jump up. Dow at +392.

    • I wonder to what extent energy availability enters into this dispute.

      I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what is going on, but I know that Kashmir, with its glaciers, is a source of hydropower. Much of the benefit of the hydropower seems to be distributed to areas outside of Kashmir by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (an Indian Hydropower Generation Company). More dams are planned as well.

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

      But Kashmir is not left with enough hydroelectricpower for itself.

      https://scroll.in/article/866058/kashmir-can-generate-a-lot-more-hydel-electricity-than-it-requires-why-is-it-eyeing-solar-power

      I am sure that Pakistan would like the hydroelectric power as well.

      Incorporating Kashmir into India would give India more control over the hydroelectric situation.

      • aaaa says:

        You know? Long ago, USA could’ve swooped in, set up base, and ‘defended’ kashmir as a neutral state rather easily, IMHO. Kashmiris would probably love having ‘hands-off’ defenders and a trading partner. That would make for a pain-free but disruptive presence in the region. Instead, we’ve invaded Afghanistan and can’t hang on to it, and it’s provided nothing but a resurgence of the global opiates market

    • snarf says:

      Muslims and hindus dislike each other. Its much more overt than anyone in the west could imagine. Talking smack about each other reaches proportion many times larger than archie bunker.Hence the formation of pakistan and bangladesh after british rule ended. Yes pakistan and bangladesh were formed because muslims and hindus dislike each other. Jammu and Kashmir really should have gone to pakistan on religious grounds. Geographically its kind of Indias. Hindus are considered infidels too. There is no lack of enmity for hindus in the radicalized muslim world. Consider the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. With radicalized muslim pouring out of pakistan with the government’s blind eye jammu and kashmir certainly have potential to become a war area. Pakistan is not only a safe area for staging for afghani insurgents but live fire is launched from there with impunity. Pakistan government has cease fire agreement with taliban. Lots of gunfights on the pakistan india border. Some with artillery. They both send their special forces there to get tough. High altitude alone is tough. That area has the potential to go hot real fast. Both countries nuclear armed. Probably not war but pakistan would probably be quite amused to see a significant insurgent conflict in Jammu and kashmir and turn a blind eye to the east just as they do to the west.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      China Factory Output Weakest In 17 Years, Everything Missed

      India’s Car Market Just Crashed, Had Its Worst Month In 18 Years

    • TIm Groves says:

      That was an extremely biased article on Kashmir from the BBC—biased against India and the Modi administration.

      In the interest of bringing a bit of balance to bear on the issue, here’s one from Israel Shamir extremely biased the other way.

      http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-conflict-in-kashmir/

      Daring Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has killed a sacred cow, called Article 370 of the Constitution, enshrining the autonomy of Kashmir. The consequences could be dire, including the fourth India-Pakistan war, but not necessarily so. It could also be a successful scheme. Apparently, Narendra Modi had been encouraged by his success in recent elections, by his decent relations with the three powerful men of our age, Trump, Putin and Netanyahu; and by the rearmament and modernisation of India’s armed forces. So he decided to go for the root of the age-long Kashmir problem, instead of treating its symptoms, and terminate the special status altogether, giving the people of Kashmir the same rights as all Indian citizens have, not more, neither less.

      Kashmir, a chain of pleasant green mountain valleys, was the most cherished patrimony of the Great Mughals, who embellished it with palaces and gardens. Here the Muslims and Hindus have lived together in peace and harmony. A blessed country, if there ever was one, Kashmir could flourish if this peaceful coexistence had survived. Alas, it did not. Frequent riots, separatism and imported Islamic extremism have made life difficult for everybody.

      The Hindus were forced to leave Kashmir; many Muslims had left too, rather than having to serve the firebrand insurgents. Their empty, ruined or burned down houses still stick out in Srinagar and elsewhere, though many of the properties were sold for a song during the insurgency.

      Ceaseless meddling of Pakistan and political Islamists who refused to accept the results of the Partition is the main reason why Kashmir is in trouble. The majority of Kashmiris are Muslims and were Muslims in 1947, but they did not want to join the newly formed Pakistan. The Islamist textbooks claim that the Hindu Maharaja of Kashmir decided to accede to India against the wishes of the population; however this is propaganda, not a fact. The people of Kashmir were not very fervent Muslims; the idea of living separately in a purely Muslim state did not appeal to them. Ethnically and linguistically they are related to local Hindus, they share the same family names and the ancestry. They wanted to be independent, but facing Pakistani invasion, they preferred to join pluralist India….

      • snarf says:

        The Sikhs in the Punjab and the muslims in Kashmir would overwhelmingly choose to leave India if they were allowed to vote on the matter. Well over 90%. Jammu probably not. This is not only because of religious and political both regions are resource rich. BJP in Delhi will never let those treasures go. They would station 100% of their military there first and everyone knows it. Including Pakistan. So everyone makes the best of it like a bad marriage for better or worst. For that matter everyone to the south speaking the dravidian languages want out too only they are not resource rich. After all they never got conquered by mongols and indoctrinated with a foreign persian sanskrit hybrid language. Such is India. Proud and rich in diversity but troubled by different regions interests. Just like any marriage sometimes its great sometimes times not so much. Divorce is not going to be allowed. Not without casualties that haven’t been seen since Nader Shah, Not going to happen IMO but who knows. Revoking article 370… What was Delhi thinking? Not very nice way to treat a partner. Thats how it goes I guess. How did it go… “as long as the grass grows and the sun shines”?

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “A protest movement that is rattling Russian authorities shows no sign of abating. Quite the opposite: some 50,000 people took to the streets of Moscow on Saturday for what turned out to be the biggest opposition rally in the city in eight years. The demonstration was billed as an act of defiance against the country’s increasingly repressive law enforcement agencies, who have responded to peaceful protests over the past four weeks with truncheon beatings and large-scale arrests…

    “That the Putin regime has responded with such aggressive tactics is an indication of its nervousness at a time of widespread discontent over the state of Russia’s economy. ”

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/the-irish-times-view-on-protests-in-russia-public-defiance-1.3984181

    • The US has had its version of armyworms forever. Articles suggest that they vary from year to year, based on weather conditions. Cropping practices also make a difference in their spread. We never hear about armyworms being a huge problem in the US because they are a known pest that farmers are equipped to deal with.

      I expect that China’s problem is that this is a new pest that they have not had to deal with previously.

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “The mood among German investors plummeted far more than expected in August, a survey showed on Tuesday… ZEW said its monthly survey showed economic sentiment among investors fell to -44.1 from -24.5 in July, its lowest level since December 2011. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a drop to -28.5.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-germany-economy-zew/german-investor-morale-slumps-as-economic-outlook-darkens-idUKKCN1V30R4?il=0

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Germany’s economy shrank in the second quarter as global uncertainty and trade fights took a toll on its manufacturers.”

      https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/14/business/germany-economy-gdp/index.html

      • The article ends,

        “Germany’s contracting economy also bolsters the case for the European Central Bank to take action when it meets in September.

        Economists predict that the central bank will move to cut interest rates, which are already at historic lows. The ECB is also expected to signal it will restart a bond buying program designed to spur economic growth.”

        Of course, cutting interest rates will push the US dollar higher relative to the Euro. Oil prices will tend to drop further.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          One mild solace for us Brits as our Brexit drama reaches its climax, is that these troubles in the Eurozone may prevent the £ from falling more dramatically versus the Euro than it otherwise might have done.

  5. snarf says:

    MERVAL showing a rather steep decline.
    Hmm where does that fit in Fibonacci ratios analysis…

  6. Hubbs says:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-13/blowing-texas-energy-costs-hit-record-high-monday-heatwave-strikes
    Interesting how issues of the inability of renewables to bridge the energy gap during peak demand, especially now that TX is going through a heatwave continue to nag us.
    Interestingly, Texas has its own separate grid- not integrated with the other two major grids, and therefore should be simpler to manage surges in demand, as long as they don’t rely too heavily on renewables! The very thing that is supposed to rescue the grid from oil dependency, in fact, complicates it.

    Then the whole issue of global warming- or not. I would expect heat records to be occasionally broken during the summer. The question is are these being broken more frequently? And what about these contradictory record cold temperatures during the summer? I don’t hear as much about them except through sources like David DuByne and his YouTube Adapt 2030 channel and the impending Grand Solar Minimum (GSM). Yet he claims that the temperature data is being fudged.
    However, I heard that the outer atmospheric temperatures being recorded by high altitude satellites show cooling in the outer atmosphere, yet there are reports that the lower atmosphere is actually warming, which might even argue for the fact that anthropogenic CO2 induced global warming may in fact be mitigating the cooling caused by this so-called GSM! And of course, the oceanic thermal conveyor belts driven by water temperature, salinity, and surface wind add an incredible number of variables, including DuByne’s cosmic radiation, pole changes, the altered magnetosphere, cosmic radiation levels, volcanic eruptions etc.
    For now, all I can say is if the ocean level is rising, that means we have had a past trend of global warming- which may not continue in the future. If the ocean levels are falling, then maybe more water going back into ice, but I have seen no evidence of that- yet. But there is a lag effect to cooling as well, so I just sit on the fence on this issue- for now, watching, and filled with skepticism bordering on cynicism as it is portrayed by the MSM as “climate change.”

    • A picture is worth 1,000 words.

      Monday’s price spike also shows how renewable energy, which makes up about 25% of Texas’ energy generation, had difficulty generating enough power to handle the demand surge.

      Grid data from Bloomberg showed wind power generation in the region slid by 50% Monday, with most of the energy generation coming from fossil fuel power stations.

      Texas needs to have enough fossil fuel generation on line to handle pretty much 100% of demand. Wind and solar can’t be counted on.

  7. Artleads says:

    RANDOM THOUGHTS ON “ENERGY”

    – Everything is a spirit. Every thought is a spirit. Every thought about a thought about a thought is a spirit. I got this from an East Indian former Google employee. But he didn’t seem as excited about this piece of revelation as I was.

    – Everything is energy.

    – I’ve been trying to see morality as an energy system of a kind. Whatever service we get from humans, animals, natural, supernatural, forces must be repaid to satisfy the demands of morality. Something like the good of all might be considered, since this all is what has supplied us energetically to get where we are. So we owe something, which, for the system (and our existence) to work, must be repaid. Somehow, I could see this being a law of the “literal Power” (that somebody said the world was run by).

    – Slavery is cruel and oppressive, whomever or whatever is enslaved. But slavery was once, as it might be proffered again to be, an indispensable source of energy to run civilizations. Civilizations are what make it possible to congregate large numbers of people together in orderly fashion, using external means of energy to feed, clothe and govern them. It is the means for raising armies, exacting taxes, building cities, creating order. When they run short of energy they fight wars and invade places so as to take their energetic resources for themselves. An added response of civilizations’ energy scarcity is to add complexity, mostly through technology, and this technology has a cost of some sort, leading to en endless cycle of added complexity to keep the system from collapse.
    .
    – In our current Western version of civilization, the cycle of endless complexity requires endless growth. Since we don’t now use slaves for energy, and use fossil fuels instead, growth and development hinged on fossil fuels continue to grow. And to reinstitute slavery in such an interconnected world would cause more trouble than it would be worth. Our global value system (WHICH TRANSLATES INTO ENERGY) would be unlikely to accommodate it.

    – So if we can’t go on with fossil fuels (owing to its lack of marketability, and widespread unpopularity) and we can’t go back to slavery, and we can’t manage an interconnected civilization of 7.5 billion people without external energy, what might we do instead?

    – One possibly useful way to consider it is that everything is energy, and energy makes everything possible. It might be said that energy is indivisible (and mostly invisible), and whether energy is used to dream or build a factory, it applies similar rules. To build a factory you might need debt–debt that is calibrated to the future energy supply to repay it with interest. Many people understand the latter kind of debt. Most people fail to understand the debt owed to slaves of all kind–and fossil fuels are often referred to as energy slaves–whose energy was used to keep our system going, but who (or what) received no repayment, much less repayment with interest. And it must be understood that much of this form of repayment has nothing to do with money.

    – Can we trace the flow of energy down a gradient like we assess the flow of water down a watershed? I wonder if what we call morality isn’t amenable to scientific discussion? The energy to live that things, ideas, spirits gave you–could this energy operate on a system of dissipation? In other words, does whatever energetic force produce value for you need to be recognized and “replenished?” Could what we call love or gratitude be ways of replenishing those forces? Do the flames have to be stoked? Is more payback “energy” ever constantly to be generated?

    – Art, then, is not immune from considerations of energy. And a move toward a new art movement must ground itself in considerations of energy.

    • Several good points! I think the answer to this question is “No!” “Is more payback “energy” ever constantly to be generated?”

    • slaves and /or subsistence level servants to serve an elite have always been thought of as ”the natural order of things’

      some people were born into a working class, others into an elite class

      and there you more or less stayed for life.

      fossil fuels changed that, because the delivered so much energy that it became spread around more widely

      the working class got their share because obtaining fossil fuels on a vast scale needed vast amounts of labour—the serving classes weren’t having that, so they screwed the elite for higher and higher wages.
      that’s where our version of democracy came from.

      it was a bargain between the workers and the elite. Really is that simple

      our fundamental problem now is that this arrangement was supposed to go on forever.

      OFWorldsters will spot the catch there, most don’t.

      So most kick off and vote for lunatic despots who promise that it will go on forever. Things are going to get nasty as truth dawns that this time the party (and democracy) really is over.

      already average people are noticing that their basic standard of living doesn’t improve, and have to run faster and faster just to stand still.

      the next stage down is, like the slaves/servants of previous times, work for subsistence wages. You become effectively an energy support unit.
      If you die, you die. This already seems to be the philosphy of the US healthcare system and the current government

      • The way that this class system changes is when there is a large injection of fossil fuel energy to the system. In the US, this especially happened in the 1960s. Then there is a sudden realization that there is “enough” so that the underclasses should have more. This is when the US ran into a lot of race riots. Also, separate newspaper columns for “Help Wanted – Women” and “Help Wanted – Men” disappeared in that era as well.

        Wage disparity among groups didn’t go away as much. Mens’ wages stoped growing in inflation-adjusted terms, as women could be added to the work force, generally at lower wages. Once this trend ran its course, adding China and other developing nations added a new way to substitute lower paid workers for workers earning US wages. Perhaps not a lower class any more. Now the differences were across oceans.

        • I disagree with the “underclasses should have more” as if this was some kind of voluntary act

          It was more that they demanded more, and circumstances forced the surrendering of more because they needed the factories to go on delivering wealth.

          the haves never surrender easily to the have nots

          Even the ‘have nots’ are tiered—which sparked off race riots because every tier guards its own level jealously–jobs, living districts, schools and so on

          • Maybe what you are saying is a better way of describing the situation, “The underclasses demanded that they have more.” But I still think that there was a feeling in the air that there were more goods and services available, so it would be reasonable to ask for more.

            I suppose I saw the women’s side most. Women had birth control pills; cars were becoming cheap enough that suburban families could have two of them. Electric appliances made housework easier, and prepackaged food made food preparation shorter. Advanced education was open to women. The jobs should be open to women as well.

  8. Yoshua says:

    Good news! Eurozones GDP grew by 0.2 percent.

    Well…at least in euro terms…in dollar terms the Eurozone is down some 25 percent since the GFC.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EB6OSVVXkAAQtI1?format=jpg&name=900×900

  9. Yoshua says:

    China’s electricity production grew by 0.6 percent.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EB6lzWLVUAAqCBQ?format=jpg&name=large

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